Chapter 1: The Falcon
Leia sat folded into herself still wearing her garbage chute stained desert gown. The gown, the last possession she had from home still smelled of the trash compactor but she didn’t even notice it anymore.
Everything hurt and her hands and feet tingled from what she easily recognized as neurological damage. She knew that her body would never quite be the same. She knew she’d carry both visible and invisible scars from her time on the Death Star. She was so tired but she didn’t think she’d ever sleep again.
She’d comforted Luke about losing Obi Wan and his aunt and uncle and she’d learned that they were both orphans. He was nice, but she sensed that he was in no way equipped to handle her emotional needs, she wasn’t even sure what her emotional needs were.
Han let himself into the cargo hold that he’d converted into an isolated nest for her. She’d been surprised at his concern and how gentle he became when it was just the two of them. He’d been so brash, infuriating and cock-sure just a few short hours before and she didn’t know what to make of it.
“You okay?” He asked reading her body language with a skill that surprised her.
She shrugged, she’d been crying and she was afraid that if she tried to speak she’d cry in front of him. She was not ready to let him see her vulnerable like that. So she just shrugged and hugged her knees closer to her chest.
“Brought you some food.” He spoke gently, afraid to spook her. “You want to try and eat?”
She shook her head.
“Can I join you?”
She shrugged and gestured to the space next to where she sat up against the bulkhead.
He sat down with her and she watched him set a tray of food between the two of them. “You’re really missing out, Wookiee are amazing cooks.”
She looked at him, she’d taken her hair down. Technically, the only person who was allowed to see it down was a spouse, but his presence put her at ease and she didn’t want him to leave.
“Sure got a lot of hair.” He spoke taking a flask out of his pocket and offering it to her.
“You’re not supposed to see it down.” She took the flask from him. “But after what those officers did to it, it doesn’t really matter.” She took a drink and handed the flask back.
“What did they do?
“What do men do to female prisoners, Captain?”
He sighed, he knew. “I’m sorry.”
“You um…” He cleared his throat. “I’ve got a real water shower and I found some women’s clothes. I got an autovalet that’ll take that smell out of your gown.”
“Captain Solo.” She looked at him. “Are you implying that I smell?”
“Well, your highnessness you are a little ripe.” He raised a eyebrow at her.
She rested the side of her face against her knees and smiled at him. A real smile. Sure, the pain was still there and the trauma, he could see all of that in her eyes but he’d made her smile and maybe for now that was just enough to get her through it. He got up and extended his hand to her. “Yeah?”
She took his hand and let him pull her to her feet. “What about Luke, I just don’t have the energy.”
Han chuckled. “Kid’s got it bad.”
Leia rolled her eyes. “He’s not my type.”
“Gay, Han.” She spoke through gritted teeth her muscles and her fried nerve endings protesting her movements. “He’s too gay.”
Han laughed slipping his arms around her shoulders. “Come on, there’s a back way.” He didn’t expect her to let him help her walk and he sure as hell didn’t expect her to reach around his waist and grip his hip for support. “You okay?”
“Incredibly sore.” She bit out the words.
“Want me to carry you?”
She narrowed her eyes at him. “Don’t get ahead of yourself Captain.”
He shook his head. “You want some narco?”
“Absolutely not.” She snapped at him.
“Aceto would be fine.”
“Got plenty of aceto, just thought narco might work better.”
“I’m allergic.” She spoke quietly and Han thought he might have heard something else in her voice.
He nodded. “Gotcha.” He spoke helping her navigate the rear interstitial of the Falcon.
“What a lovely pipe chase you have here Captain.”
He laughed. “Your sense of humor is still intact I see, even though you’ve suddenly lost your accent.”
She shook her head. “It’s Chandrillian.”
“You’re not Chandrillian, highness you’re Alderaanian.”
“No, I’m Alderaani.”
She nodded. “Half.”
“Which is why you fake your accent.”
“But you don’t sound Moccoan.”
“Oh, I guess so. I used to sleep in a Druian temple when I was a kid.”
“A lot of Druian refugees went to Corellia during the pogroms.”
He nodded. “Knew a lot of their kids, you know?”
She nodded. “You’re what? Thirty?”
He nodded. “Twenty nine, don’t make me older than I am, highness.”
“We spoke Moccoan and Druian at home, but never Druian outside of the palace.”
“But you’re the ruling royal family.”
“Didn’t matter.” She spoke through her teeth as he set her down on the closed sani.
“So much for peaceful Alderaan.”
“Alderaan wasn’t the problem, most of our citizens disagreed with the treatment of the Druian and Moccoan people but the upper echelons did not. My mother and father did what they could and we were making progress, but there’s nothing quite like being referred to as a Druian Whore on the Senate floor to make you change your accent.”
He nodded turning on the real water shower. “That’s awful Leia.”
She shrugged. “They thought it would discourage me, but it just made me dig my heels in deeper.”
He smiled at her. “The water should be hot enough now, it won’t last too long so you better take advantage of it. I’m going to find you some clothes.”
Han opened a dusty old crate in the forward hold. He’d vowed never to open it once he’d closed it and loaded it years before. He held his breath, trying not to take in the familiar scent that still clung to the belongings that were carefully packed inside. He pulled out a cable knit women’s sweater, it’d be a little big on Leia, probably longer in the sleeves, but it would fit better than any of his clothing. He ran his hand over the soft pile remembering when he’d bought it years before. He cleared his throat and found a pair of soft leggings and warm bantha wool socks, Leia seemed like she’d have cold feet. He set them aside and unpacked the rest of the clothing and re-sealed the crate. Leia was the only person he cared enough about to relive the profound loss that had forever changed the trajectory of his life. He carried clothing into the crew quarters and set them on his bunk and let himself into the ‘fresher to leave the sweater, leggings and socks for her.
“Han?” Leia gasped from the shower.
“I ain’t lookin’ at nothin’, I’m just leaving you some clothes to wear is all. You’ll have to wear your own basics.”
“Welcome.” He spoke stepping back out.
Chewie sniffed him as he sat down on the acceleration couch in the lounge.
“What?” Han looked at him.
(You opened her crate.)
Han shrugged. “Her highness, needed some clothes.”
(You’re starting to care for the little princess aren’t you, cub?)
Han shrugged and tried to find something to tinker with so that it didn’t seem like he was waiting for Leia to get out of the shower, but he was. He picked up a data pad and started rereading an old story about an ordinary boy who had to give a princess a new name to save her world. He’d taught himself to read with the story and it had always been his favorite.
Leia stepped out of the ‘fresher in the clothes Han had found for her. They had belonged to a woman for sure, but she’d been taller than Leia but she’d made them work. She watched Han react to her in civilian clothes. He stared, blatantly stared, a few hours ago she’d been offended but instead she just smiled at him.
“What are you reading?” She spoke tucking a loose hair behind her ear and sitting down next to him.
“Die Unendliche Geschichte.”
“That’s one of my favorites, my mother used to read it to me when I was a little girl.”
She shook her head. “No, in Moccoan, it’s called La historia interminable.”
“La historia interminable, it’s sounds really pretty when you call it that.”
She smiled at him. “I don’t use my native language much anymore.”
“Maybe you could teach me some.”
She raised her eyebrows at him. “You’d want to learn?”
“I guess it would be good to know rarely spoken language for when we’re on missions together.”
“Or if we want to talk shit about the High Command.”
She smiled at him. That same genuine, warm smile she’d flashed him in the forward hold.
Gods, she made him feel so awkward and off balance. He really looked at her for as long as he could get away with, she wasn't wearing the heavy makeup she’d been wearing since the Death Star and her hair was braided in one long braid down her back.
“What?” She spoke catching him staring.
“Never seen your ears before.” He covered. “They're nice.”
She smiled at him.
“Don’t know why you keep ‘em covered up with those buns all the time.”
“I don’t actually, that was for the mission.”
“It’s an Alderaani revolutionary tradition from the Old Republic.”
She smiled at him. “This is more comfortable, but I rarely wear it like this during the day.”
“Sure is a lot of it.” Han spoke picking up her braid.
“It’s only been cut the one time.”
“The one time?”
“I shaved my head once, when I got tired of my aunties putting it up in tight, uncomfortable braids. Had to wear a wig for well over a year.”
She smiled at him again, the brash smuggler she’d been so annoyed with during her rescue was so much more awkward one on one. She liked this version of him better.
He smiled at her. “How are your hands?”
“They hurt, they’ve been mended but…” She trailed off as he took her hand and laid it on his palm examining the fine bones with his rough finger tips.
“Real recent huh?”
She nodded. “Just before Luke burst in, they were prepping me for my execution. I guess Palpatine wanted a pretty corpse to show off.”
He frowned at her. “Good thing we showed up.”
“So, what do you think?”
“I think it’s just going to take time.”
“I’ve got meds that are stronger than aceto.”
She shook her head. “It’s not that bad yet.”
Chewie watched them together, he hadn’t seen Han act so gently since Sulen, but there was something about Leia that softened him right up. He watched Leia, she’d been so proper and stiff the first few hours after her rescue but Han seemed to have the same effect on her.
Chapter 2: Allergies
Leia sat in Chewbacca’s oversized co-pilot seat, she wasn’t able to sleep so she sat up with Han on watch. She watched the star field as he watched his instruments and readouts and engine gauges. She kept him in hot caff while he kept watch over their progress to the rebel base on Yavin IV.
“Han.” She spoke quietly after several hours.
“Hmm?” He raised an eyebrow as he checked their course.
“Are you really going to leave?”
He sighed looking at her. “I’ve got a huge bounty on my head, princess.”
She nodded looking away. “Right.” She hugged her knees close to her chest. “And so you’ll just drop me off, collect your reward and be gone just like that.” She spoke looking out the side viewports.
“Well, I ain’t going to enlist.”
He sighed. “Leia...” He started before she shook her head cutting him off.
“Don’t.” She got up. “You’ll have your reward and you can go, there’s no reason for you to stay around.” She spoke walking out of the cockpit.
He sighed raking his fingers through his hair. “Fuck.”
“Leia...” Luke spoke reaching for her as she walked into the lounge.
She looked at him for a moment and her eyes flashed an odd orange. “Don’t.”
Luke took a step back not sure what to make of the glow he’d seen. He could feel her anger and something like hurt as he watched her duck into the passage that lead to the cargo holds.
“What’d you say?” Luke asked sitting down in the cockpit with Han.
“Don’t worry about it, kid.” He spoke distracting himself with his constant vigil.
“What do you think of her?” Luke broke the spreading silence.
“I try not to kid.” He got up. “Still, what do you think? A princess and a guy like me?”
“No!” Luke answered a little too quickly.
“Keep a lookout. I gotta check on something.”
Han walked into the galley and made a quick cup of caff as a peace offering. He didn’t know much about her but he knew that she seemed to run on caff and sarcasm. He let himself into the cargo hold but she wasn’t around. He went the back way through he interstitial and ended up in the back entrance to the crew quarters. He saw her before she saw him. She was standing in front of his polished durasteel mirror with her shirt pulled up staring at the black bruises that wrapped around her. With her shirt pulled up he could see the burns and cuts on her back and how they looked to obscure her ceremonial tattoos, the ones he knew had been done during her coronation. They’d destroyed her planet and taken her symbolic relationship with it.
He sighed and she jumped, narrowing her eyes at him.
“How dare you?”
“I didn’t see nothin’ except wounds that need to be bandaged and ribs that need to be wrapped.”
“If you think I’m going to let you play medic...”
“Calm down.” He set a cup of caff on the bulkhead for her. “You can leave your basics on, I don’t want to do nothing to you. Enough’s been done already.”
“Fuck you.” She muttered under her breath, why did he know so much? Why could he read her so well?”
Han sighed crossing his arms across his chest. “If you’d let me we’d stop one some planet on the way and get you properly seen to.”
“We have to get to the base, it’s a matter of life and death, the plans...”
“Alright, alright.” He waved his hand. “I get it, your little rebellion is more important than your own life, I know.”
She reached out to take the cup of caff and her hand shook.
“What’d they do to you?”
She shook her head letting her hand drop.
“Let me patch you up, princess.”
Han watched her grit her teeth against the pain as he used his hands to check the alignment of her ribs, worried that one of the breaks would slip free and puncture her lung. It was a slow process of check, tape, check again, repeat until he was sure he’d stabilized every break. She held her own against the pain, but he knew it was bad just by the groans that escaped when she thought he wasn’t listening.
“Let me get your back patched up and we’ll be done.” He spoke standing up to stretch his back.
“I need a minute.” She conceded trying to catch her breath against the pain, but the pain keeping her from breathing too deeply. She felt like she was hyperventilating. “I can’t breathe.”
She shook her head. “I can’t.”
“Princess, how bad is this allergy?”
“I break out in addiction and bad decisions.”
“One time won’t...”
She glared up at him from the med bunk.
“Leia.” He spoke quietly sitting down with her. “I won’t let it.”
“You’re leaving.” She looked up at him. “Remember?”
He sighed, he’d fucked up dropping that shipment meant for Jabba, hell he’d fucked up working for Jabba. He’d take it all back just to be able to tell her he was staying. “I’ll be around long enough to make sure, alright?”
She nodded. “No needles.”
“I’ll be careful.”
She shook her head.
“What if I hold you and Chewie does it?”
She looked at her lap still not able to take a full fruitful breath, this was getting serious and she could feel it.
“Please.” She mumbled against his chest. “I don’t know where the base is.” She wasn’t there with them, all it had taken was a second of a flash of the needle and she’d flashed back to the Death Star.
Han looked at Chewie. “Hurry up, will ya?”
(Her veins are so tiny). Chewbacca growled apologetically.
“Everything about her is tiny, hurry.” Han spoke holding her.
(Talk to her, cub).
Han cleared his throat. “It’s alright.” He spoke holding her tight against his chest as she panicked and hyperventilated in his arms. “Come on Lei.” He soothed. “It’s alright. It’s just me and the Wook, it’s alright.” He spoke watching Chewie start an IV in the bend of her arm. “You’re safe, remember on the Falcon?”
“No!” She shouted feeling the needle break the surface. “No! Please!”
Luke burst in, blaster in hand.
“Put it away farm boy, it’s just a flashback.”
“What are you doing to her?”
“Putting in an IV.” Han spoke watching Chewbacca tape the port in place.
(I’m sorry little princess). He chuffed gently stroking her arms. (It’s over now). He liked Leia and he liked his cub with Leia. He’d see to it that Han stayed around if he had to face Jabba alone to do it. He liked her spirit, even if she had called him a walking carpet. (Come Luke). He inclined his head to the door.
Luke looked at Han and Leia and then at Chewbacca.
“She doesn’t want you to see her like this.” Han spoke quietly. “Go on, she’s fine.”
She was so much smaller than he was that she could stay curled against his chest as he started fluids and pushed a hypo of narco. Finally, her breathing normalized as the narco kicked in.
He ran his hand over the now obscured ceremonial tattoos that had been painstakingly drawn the old way tracing the outline of her back and crisscrossing their way down her spine. Gods, he felt for her, he tried his best to bacta seal her wounds without making a bigger mess of them. He’d pay any amount of money to have them redone when she healed, if she’d let him. The tattoos and the gown that dried in the ‘fresher were all she had left and it looked like neither would survive unscathed. He pulled down her undershirt and her sweater. “Lei.” He spoke gently. “You want to rest in here or do you want to go back to the hold?”
She looked at him with glassy eyes. “Stay with me.”
He nodded. “I’ll stay with you either place.”
She smiled at him. “I like you, Solo.” She spoke turning to face him and the alarms in his head went off.
“Leia...” He started knowing that the narco had destroyed all of her inhibitions and in that moment he knew exactly what her “allergy” was about.
“You’re very handsome...”
He stood up abruptly and banged his head on the top of the medbunk.
“You okay, hotshot?” She spoke as he sat back down rubbing his head.
“M’fine.” He grumbled. “I...” He stammered as she took his face in her hands. “Lei...”
She kissed him and gods she felt so right, so natural. She felt like home, like he’d kissed her thousands of times. She laced her fingers through his hair and tugged gently and he let her, he knew he shouldn’t knew that this was Leia plus the narco but he couldn’t help it. He kept his hands safe on her waist, thumbs kneading the soft skin just under the hem of her sweater as one of her hands slipped down into the V of his shirt pressing against his chest, lighting a fire that threatened to engulf him and he wanted to let it. The kiss deepened and he let it, groaning through his nose against her cheek as the fire threatened to engulf them both. He let his hand travel carefully over the tape he’d placed to keep her ribs stable and he felt her moan as he found the soft skin of breast. He felt her unhook his holster and fumble with his belt. Gods he wanted to pull her onto his lap and...
“No.” He pulled away. “We can’t.” He breathed removing her hands from his belt. “Not with all that narco in your system and not until you’ve recovered. I’ll hurt you or it’ll wear off and you’ll regret it.”
She looked at him. “By the time I’m recovered, you’ll be gone.”
He sighed pressing his forehead against hers. “I’ll come back.”
“As long as I don’t end up in a Rancor pit, I promise.”
Chapter 3: Fire and Wine
Han Solo watched the young princess watch him without watching him. He’d been watching her curiously since he'd returned from the Death Star defeat. In the rush of congratulatory embraces and handshakes, she’d slapped his ass and now he couldn’t keep his eyes off her. He could still feel the kiss they’d shared in the medbunk on his lips and between the two encounters he felt a little punch-drunk. She'd met his eyes a couple of times and smiled at him before quickly lifting her chin and turning to engage seemingly anyone else she could find, in conversation. It wasn’t a predatory sort of thing, it was a curiosity, she certainly hadn’t seemed the type to be so casual, so familiar with him and he wondered just what her motive had been. She seemed the type to always have a motive.
“Captain.” She greeted him taking a bottled ale out of the old fuel tank that the Rogues had turned into a cooler.
“Your worship.” He spoke continuing to stare straight ahead.
She rolled her eyes.
He smiled at her.
“Keeping the beer company?” She spoke moving to stand beside him.
He shrugged gesturing vaguely toward the celebrating rebels. “Don’t know these folks, these are your people.”
“Not really.” She crossed her arms across her chest.
“You, uh.” He looked at her for the first time. “You wanna go somewhere?” He raised an eyebrow at her.
She shot him an incredulous look.
“Hey, can’t blame a guy for trying.” He shrugged holding his hands up.
She smiled at him and took a long drink of her beer. “Can’t I?”
He smiled. “You enjoying yourself with all those stuffy old folks over there?”
“Not really.” She spoke wryly.
“Hmm.” He spoke appraising her.
“What? What’s that noise you made at me?” She narrowed her eyes at him.
He smiled at her.
“Scoundrel?” He laughed incredulously taking a drink of his whiskey. “That’s very Old Republic of your highnessness.”
She rolled her eyes at him. “I was going to ask you to get me out of here…”
“You leave first. I don’t feel like explaining myself to my father’s friends.”
”Good night your highnessness.” Han finished his whiskey, saluted her with his glass before setting it down and leaving discreetly.
Leia waited a good amount of time and ducked out unnoticed. They'd attribute her departure to her loss, to Alderaan or what they assumed was her prudish nature and she’d let them.
“Hey.” Han spoke quietly ducking out of the shadows to join her as she walked. “Thought you might have changed your mind.”
“They all want to offer their condolences and I just don’t want to hear them right now. It’s too fresh.”
“What do you want?” He spoke looking at her, waiting for her to tell him what she needed rather than telling her what she should do. He figured she’d had enough of that from her father’s friends.
“I want to forget, Captain Solo.” She looked up at him through her eyelashes. “Do you think you can help me with that?”
Han’s heart pounded in his chest. “Sure.” He tried to play casual.
“I thought you might be interested.”
He cleared his throat. “Well…”
“Where are we going?” She spoke abruptly cutting him off.
“Outside.” He spoke opening his vest to show her the bottle of good Alderaani wine he’d lifted from the celebration. “I thought you might want some of this, without everyone watching your reaction.”
“Under the stars?”
“How cliche of you.”
“I was thinking more of the peace and quiet, but if you have a better idea.”
“Maybe we could build a fire.” She spoke picking at the cuticle of her left thumb.
“Careful, you’ll make yourself bleed.” Han spoke taking her hand.
“It helps.” She spoke pulling her hand away.
He nodded pushing open a manual blast door.
Leia stepped out of the space port into the forest of Yavin IV. Han watched her close her eyes and breathed deeply.
She nodded enjoying the sweet smell of real fresh air, not the manufactured air she’d been in for weeks since leaving Coruscant on her latest mission and the air on Coruscant was far from fresh. “I haven’t smelled real fresh air in ages.”
He smiled at her.
Leia watched Han struggle to start a fire, he’d claimed like any man would, that he knew how to build a fire. She could tell he was not very adept. “Han…”
“I got it.”
“Stop being a chauvinist and sit down.”
“You think you can do better, your worship?”
“Yes.” She laughed. “I can.” She got up. “Leia, my name is Leia do you think you can try that out for me?”
“Sure, Leia.” He spoke sitting down.
She sighed properly stacking the firewood and easily lighting a fire. “There, like that.” She sat down next to him.
“Cozy.” He spoke slipping his arm around her.
“Mmm.” She spoke closing her eyes and leaning into him.
She nodded, she hadn’t slept in days.
“If I’d known you wanted to go camping, I’d have packed accordingly.”
“Shut up.” She whispered.
She poked him in the ribs.
He cleared his throat. “Sorry.”
“See that?” She pointed to a greenish blue star far off in the distance.
He nodded knowing exactly what he was looking at. They were far enough away from the inner rim that the light from Alderaan had yet to be extinguished. “From certain corners of the galaxy, we’ll be able to see it for centuries to come.”
“Fastest ship in the galaxy and I still can’t fly fast enough to get you home in time.”
She nodded wiping her eyes.
“Ah, Leia.” He spoke pulling her close. She’d cried in his arms on the Falcon after the first couple of days in hyperspace when he’d found her hiding in the turret. He was the only person she’d allowed to see her vulnerable like this and he had no idea why she’d chosen him. He figured it would be Luke she would cling to, he was young and idealistic about the rebellion, they were close in age. He didn’t question her though, for whatever reason this was his job, she’d chosen to trust him and he’d let her.
“So.” Han spoke opening the bottle of wine he’d lifted from the celebration. “What are you going to do now?”
She shrugged watching him. “High Command wants me to go into hiding.”
“Yeah.” He looked up at her. “But is that what you want?”
“Ah.” He spoke triumphantly finally working the cork loose.
She smiled at him.
“What do you want?” He spoke offering her the first drink.
“I want to fight.” She spoke taking a long drink of the wine and passing the bottle back to him. She hugged her knees to her chest and watched him.
“Mmm.” He spoke lighting a cigarette. “Do you think they’ll let you?” He offered the pack to her.
“It’s not about letting me do anything.” She lit up. “I’m a grown woman, I can make my own decisions.”
“You’re royalty and in my experience royal persons always have a short leash.”
“You have a lot of experience with royalty in your work, Han?”
He shook his head. “Padme Naberrie the Queen of Naboo, once bought me a sandwich when I was just a little guy. She had a lot of people around her and they questioned everything she did.”
She shook her head. “Not in my case. I was a Senator and a spy, a Princess and an operative.”
“Sure, on Alderaan, but these aren’t your people.” He took a drink of the wine, it was sweet but had a strong note to it, under the surface. “These are your father’s people who think they know what’s best for you.”
She rolled her eyes. “What about you, Captain what do you think is best for me?”
“Whatever helps you heal.”
“And if that’s fighting along side everyone else?”
He smiled at her. “You need a pilot?”
She smiled shaking her head. “I need a good mission partner who’s a good pilot, who I can trust, who will trust me and not get all jumbled up trying to protect me. Who trusts me when I say I can hold my own.”
“Hey, I followed you into a garbage chute, remember?”
She nodded remembering the feel of his arms around her after Artoo had stopped the crusher. “I admit it, it wasn’t my best strategic decision.”
“We’d have died in that corridor.”
“You weren’t happy about it.” She spoke looking up at the stars again.
“There was a giant snake thing in there, I hate snakes.”
She smiled at him. “The great Han Solo is afraid of snakes?”
He smiled at her. “Don’t tell anyone.”
“Your secret is safe with me.” She crossed her heart and turned back to the fire.
Han reached out and ran the back of his hand against her back gently. “Leia?”
She looked at him and watched his eyes soften.
“S’there anything I can do?”
She shook her head.
Han rubbed her back again.
“I still think you need to go to medical.”
“It’s not just physical is it?”
She shook her head and moved to him, her eyes filling again. In was in that nanosecond when she let her eyes meet he realized that her pain wasn’t just from Alderaan it was from something even more sinister. He’d heard rumors about the psychological torture that Vader engaged in when he was an Imperial. He knew, right then that the night terrors that he’d heard her scream through weren’t just memories, they were implanted in her mind.
“Alright.” He soothed, holding her. “You um, you want to stay with Chewie an’ me on the Falcon?”
She nodded. “But you’re leaving us.”
“Huh uh, I ain’t goin’ anywhere until you're alright.”
She nodded. “But you left so easily before, what’s changed?”
“I thought you had people here.”
“Just Carlist, but he was my father’s friend.”
“Well, you got me an’ Chewie and the kid for as long as you need us.”
Chapter 4: Stay
Han sat in the infirmary, as he’d promised her. The medics had tried to make him leave and even General Dodonna had suggested that it was inappropriate for him to see the princess in such a vulnerable state. Han had scoffed at him and simply shrugged as Leia asked the older man to leave. He’d laughed at her succinct words to the general, ‘If you’re so uncomfortable Jan, why don’t you leave?’ Leia was scathing and seemingly fearless at all times and he liked that about her.
Leia moved onto her side and snuggled deeper under the blankets he brought her from the Falcon. The blanket from the infirmary had been too thin and he couldn’t bear to watch her shiver her way through her stay, so he’d bundled her up with several blankets from the crew quarters and brought one for himself as he kept his vigil.
She opened an eye and looked at him. “You’re still here.”
He smiled at her. “Course I am Lei, I made a promise.”
She nodded. “I’m surprised you didn’t run as far away as you could after last night.”
Han scrubbed his palm against the back of his neck. “Not like you could help it Lei, you’ve been through more than they understand.”
He said it again—Lei.
She wasn’t sure when he’d started shortening her name but she liked it, it made her heart beat a little faster each time he said it.
“How are you feeling after all that?” He spoke remembering the way his heart broke when she’d panicked during a particularly intimate exam and kicked the medic so hard in the face she’d broken his nose and how he’d almost drawn his blaster on the back up medic who’d suggested that they restrain her.
“No.” He spoken roughly, his voice choking in his throat as he moved to put his body between hers and the medic, his hand on his blaster. He’d never forget the way she’d shook when he’d turned to check on her after the medic had left them. How she sobbed and shook in his arms. Even now his gut twisted at the memory. How he’d promised to stay right there, that he wouldn’t let them hurt her. How he’d let her bury her face in his chest and dig her nails into his arm while the medic finished the exam. How he’d sat on the gurney with her holding her for what seemed like hours waiting for the panic to clear, willing her to breathe and holding her so tight. Trying to make himself into a wall to protect her. “Breathe princess.” He’d whispered against her hair over and over until finally she did.
“I’m sorry.” She spoke quietly remembering how much of an emotional wreck she’d been when they’d told her she’d never have children of her own. “You shouldn’t have had to see all of that.”
Han moved his chair closer to the side of her gurney. “S’alright princess.”
She watched him, she’d never seen a mercenary with such soft eyes. “Better that you weren’t alone.”
She nodded. “Thank you for coming back, I don’t think I could have handled that alone.”
He smiled at her and wished that she was a little older than her medical records revealed her to be. “Guess I’m gonna be running supplies for your rebellion.”
She smiled at him.
“Your General Rieekan and I discussed it when he came to see you last night.”
“I didn’t know he was here.”
“It was while you were sedated after your bacta treatment, said he’d come back today.”
“He was a close friend of my father’s.”
“I like ‘em, he’s a good guy. Worried about you, real worried not like Dodonna, just here to throw his weight around.”
Leia smiled at him. She’d known Carlist most of her life and had even dated his son Mateo for a while, she’d heard Mateo had perished and they were still looking for Irris, Carlist’s wife but she knew the chances were slim. Carlist had lost everyone just as she had and she didn’t mind him needing to know she was alright. He was the closest thing to family she had left, well Carlist and Mon Mothma, Luke, Chewie and now Han.
“You want me to bring you anything princess?”
She shook her head.
“Anything I can do?”
He smiled at her. “Got a pallet set up right over there.” He pointed to his bedroll in the corner. “Alright?” He spoke taking her hand in both of his.
“You can go back to sleep. I’ll be here when you wake up.”
She smiled at him. “Can you do me a favor?”
“Sure, Leia name it.”
“Can you take my hair down and get the tangles out, it’s so knotted from the bacta that it’s making my head hurt.”
“Are you sure? I mean, I’m not supposed to even see you with your hair down...”
“I wouldn’t ask you if I weren’t.”
Leia sighed feeling Han work through the complicated mess of her hair. Never in a million years did she think she’d ever have the hands of a Corellian smuggler in her hair, let alone enjoy them there. No one was supposed to take her hair down unless she was married to them or at least headed in that direction, but after the stormtroopers and the officers on the Death Star who were well aware of the customs of her world had taken it down and made sure to humiliate her as much as possible, it didn’t matter as much. They were so rough in contrast to how gentle Han’s hands were. She didn’t think that hands as big and rough as his were, could be nimble but they were. Once he was sure all of the knots were out he brushed her hair in long strokes from her forehead just like her mother had done countless times. Her mother, goddess, what would her mother think.
She was surprised by his almost reverent silence as he divided her hair and braided one long fishtail braid down her back.
“There.” He spoke gently as he wrapped the end with a strip of bantha leather from his holster. “How’s that?”
She smiled at him over her shoulder as she examined his handy work. “You’re surprisingly good at that.”
“Had a little sister.”
“What happened to her?”
He cleared his throat and sat back against the wall, his legs hanging over the side of her gurney. “She died.”
He shrugged. “I kept her alive as long as I could after my ma died, but I was young, six—maybe and she got sick.” He spoke quietly, his voice low, telling the story without looking at her. “And she slipped away one night, woke up and she...” He cleared his throat but didn’t continue.
“What was her name?”
He nodded looking at his hands.
“What happened to your mother?”
He shrugged. “She died. I found her.”
Leia watched the side of his face.
“Probably some sort of overdose.” He shrugged again. “Deathsticks? I don’t know, I was just a kid. Found her in her bed.” He scratched the back of head. “Thought she was sleeping at first, but she wouldn’t wake up.”
“I don’t remember much about her anymore, she used to read a lot and tell stories, really good bedtime stories. She used to call it going on an adventure. Her name was Jaina.”
Leia smiled at him.
Han looked at her, suddenly worried that all this talk about family would upset her. “Alright, princess?”
She nodded. “Ready to get out of here.”
“I’m ready to take you somewhere else.”
“There’s no time for that now, Han.”
He took one of her hands in his and he could feel the tremors that came and went, but got worse when she was tired or stressed. “You want these hands to work Lei, you don’t want to deal with this the rest of your life.”
She leaned her head against his shoulder. “I don’t think it’s fixable.”
“Still gotta try.”
She sighed feeling him slip his arm around her.
Chapter 5: Meet The Cyloths
Leia walked carefully down the halls of the base on Yavin IV. It had only been a few days since the Death Star the medal ceremony. Her body was still sore but the medics had released her citing that they didn’t know what else to do for her. Her neurological issues were no better and her feet and hands still burned and tingled, sometimes even clothing made her ache and she’d taken to wearing the soft leggings and shirt Han had found for her on the Falcon. The ones that belonged to the woman he’d refused to talk about when she’d asked. He’d stayed with her most of the time only recently leaving on a supply run when the base had begun to run out of food and other essentials.
“Your highness?” Mon Mothma stopped after passing her in the hall.
Leia sighed not really wanting to talk to anyone, especially the close friends of her father, and no one living had been closer to Bail Organa than Mon Mothma. “Yes, Chancellor?” She spoke as Mon Mothma fell into step with her.
“I didn’t know you’d been released from the infirmary.”
Leia looked up at her as they walked. “Well, there wasn’t much else they could do for me.”
“You should be resting.”
Leia sighed. “I heard Captain Solo was back with fresh supplies.”
Mon Mothma raised an eyebrow at her. “I heard he stayed with you at the infirmary until you convinced him to go on a supply run.”
Leia hugged her chest as she walked. ‘It was nice to have someone in the room.”
“I don’t know that your father would have approved of him.”
Leia shook her head. “We’re friends. And besides, who my father may or may not have approved of for me, isn’t any of your concern.”
Leia stopped walking and turned to her. As much as her body protested her movements, she straightened her posture and rolled her shoulders back, instantly looking regal in her borrowed clothes. “There are a great number of things you are responsible for as head of this rebellion, my ‘virtue’ is not one of them.” She spoke with her chin raised. “I will spend time with whomever I choose, whenever I choose. Are we clear?”
“Yes, your highness.” Mon Mothma spoke quietly, remembering her place.
“We can be friends, as you and my father were and I would very much like that, but you do not get to tell me who I can and cannot spend time around or who is or is not suitable for me to spend time with.”
Mon Mothma nodded as if Leia towered over her, when in reality at her full height, Leia barely reached beyond her shoulder. “Yes, your highness.”
“I am going to rest.” Leia spoke as they began walking again. “But I am much more comfortable on the Falcon, than I am in my quarters. Besides, Han is taking me to a civilian medic off planet, one that specializes in nerve damage. The medics here have given up on me, but he has not.”
Mon Mothma nodded.
“He’s insisted and maybe he’s right, maybe it’s worth a try. Besides, am I cleared for duty?”
“Fine then, I’m taking some R and R.”
“Leia.” Mon spoke and stopped abruptly.
She turned to her once again.
“Keep in touch, I’d like to know how you’re doing.”
Leia nodded. “I will, Han will insist.”
Leia walked up the ramp of the Falcon as if her presence were always welcomed there without question.
“Course I’m gonna go see her Chewie, but I gotta finish this log.” She heard Han’s voice as she walked down the ring corridor running her hand along the bulkhead. She smiled as the Wookiee answered back.
“Captain.” She spoke firmly leaning into the doorway of the cockpit.
Han tossed his data pad onto the console and stood up. “Your highnessness.” He gave her a half hearted salute. “I didn’t know you’d been released.”
“Just now actually.”
“Good as new then?” He spoke looking her over, not convinced.
“No.” She spoke sitting down in the navigator’s seat. “But they feel that they’ve done everything for me that they can.”
“Which was not much.”
“So, let’s go then.”
“I found some medics on Coruscant...”
“I can’t go to Coruscant.”
“Yeah, you can.” He tossed her a forged ID.
“Jaina Cyloth, I still look like me Han.”
“Not dressed like that, not in your glasses.”
“And you are?”
He smiled at her. “That’s right.”
“That’s far fetched.”
He laughed. “Oh, I’m not sure you’ll mind it as much as you think you will.”
She shook her head.
“Besides, I thought I’d sneak into your old apartment and steal back your things.”
She smiled at him, she couldn’t help it. Offering to steal her belongings out of her impounded apartment was probably one of the sweetest gestures anyone had ever offered her.
Han got up. “So, we’re going?”
“I’m going to arrange for fuel and launch codes for the Halcyon.”
“Of course, the Falcon in Moccoan.”
He nodded. “Come on.” He he reached out to her.
“What?” She let him pull her to her feet.
“You should be resting.”
“I thought that’s where you were going with this.”
“You gonna fight me on this, princess?”
She shook her head.
“Good.” He slipped his arm around her and she let him.
“How was your trip?” She spoke tucking herself against him.
“Quick and uneventful.”
“Well, I hope you weren’t too bored.”
“Would’ve been a lot more fun had you been with us.” He spoke pressing his hand against the small of her back.
She smiled. “You missed me?”
He nodded. “I worried ‘bout you the whole time.”
She pressed her hand against his chest as they walked into the crew quarters.
“Get some rest Mrs. Cyloth, I’ll get you datapad and your things from your quarters.” He spoke watching her curl up in his bunk.
“Your extra blankets are in my quarters.”
“Did they discharge you with meds?”
She nodded. “They’re in my quarters.”
He nodded. “Comm me if you need anything else.”
She smiled at him. “I’m good here.”
“Hey your highnessness.” Han spoke as Leia walked into the cockpit.
“Hey.” She yawned. “You got us off base quick.”
“Mmm.” He looked at her in Sulen’s clothes. “Gotta get you something different to wear. Don’t know how I feel about you wearin’ my ex-wife’s clothes all the time.”
“M’sorry, they’re soft and everything still hurts. I—I can change if...” She spoke quickly, apologetically.
Han grabbed her hand as she turned away to change. “No.” He spoke gently. “We’ll take care of it when we get dirtside. Just a little unnerving that’s all.”
“C’mere.” He spoke gently. “Everything still hurts huh?”
“Need your meds?”
“I don’t know, they make me so tired Han, I don’t like that feeling.”
“You gotta stay ahead of pain Lei.”
“I know, I just don’t want to sleep through everything.”
“If you were just a little older I could think of a couple of ways to keep you awake.”
“Patience Solo, I won’t be nineteen forever.”
Han laughed getting up. “Let’s get your meds princess.” He kissed her temple.
(You like her.). Chewbacca chuffed watching Leia sleep folded up in Han’s lap after she’d given into the drowsy pull of her meds.
“Wish she was older.” Han spoke studying the schematics of the Alderaanian Embassy tower where Leia’s impounded apartment was located.
(You’re gentle with her like you were with Sulen.)
Han looked at the Wookiee who knew him better than anyone else. “Don’t do that.”
(Do what cub?)
“Don’t compare her to Sulen, this is different.”
(What? You care for this one more than her?)
“I don’t want to talk about Sulen.”
Leia stirred in his arms slipping her hand into his shirt. She’d gotten used to sleeping close in the infirmary and she’d missed him while he’d been off running freight, especially the warmth of him. Han was incredibly warm like a big heating pad.
(She certainly likes you.)
“She’s too young for me Chewie.”
Chewie shrugged. (That won’t always matter.)
Han shrugged going back to studying schematics. “Yeah well, it matters right now, she’s no older than the kid.”
(I’m extending the life debt to the little princess either way. She’s your mate...)
“She’s not my mate.”
(I can smell it on you cub, you love her.)
Han cleared his throat but didn’t correct him. “I care about her, alright?”
Chewie smiled. (I’m going on watch cub, take the little princess to bed.)
“Hey, you wanna lie down?” Han poked her shoulder.
She shook her head and curled in closer.
He chuckled. “Alright princess.”
Chewbacca laughed on his way out of the lounge.
Han watched as the medics on Coruscant attached wires to different points down Leia’s spine. He could tell she was uncomfortable, bordering on terrified as she lie face down on a padded table, unable to move. He could tell that every muscle in her body was tight.
“Try to relax miss.” One of the medics spoke flatly.
“Let me up.” She pleaded. “I can’t do this.”
“Miss, you have to relax.”
Han sighed and pushed past the medics. “Hey sweetheart.” Han spoke lying on the floor so she could see him. “You alright princess?”
He pillowed his hands behind his head. “You wanna take some deep breaths?”
“I want to leave.”
“Can’t leave sweetheart, gotta get you better remember?”
“Han—Hans.” She fumbled his name and quickly recovered.
“Gonna stay right here.”
“Mr. Cyloth.” One of the medics stepped over his legs. “It would be easier if you waited outside.”
“Ain’t nothin’ easy, and I ain’t leavin’ my wife.”
‘Your wife.’ Leia mouthed and rolled her eyes.
Han smiled at her and winked.
“I made a promise when she agreed to come here, that I wouldn’t leave her side.” He looked into her eyes as he spoke. “I ain’t breaking that promise.”
“I can’t do this.” Leia breathed, panicking.
“Yes you can.” He spoke gently. “I’m right here.”
Han let himself into the master sleeping quarters of the spartan apartment he’d rented one on of the less desirable lower levels. “Leia?”
She curled deeper into the blankets.
“It’s time for your meds.”
“No, solo quiero dormir.” She mumbled.
“I don’t know what you’re sayin’ princess.”
“Por favor dejame dormir.”
Han sighed sitting on the edge of the bed. “Come on sweetheart.” He spoke gently. “Take these pills.”
She squinted at him and took the pills.
“That’s good.” He spoke stroking her hair gently.
Leia pulled at him.
“You want me to lie down with you?”
She nodded. “Si, si por favor. Mis suenos son malos, te necesito.”
“Alright.” He spoke pulling his boots off and lying down with her.
She curled up tight against him with her head under his shoulder and her hand just inside the low V of his shirt feeling his heartbeat and the rhythm of his breathing.
“Si, mucho mejor. Gracias.”
“Still don’t know what you’re sayin’, but I’ll take that as a yes.” He spoke as she moved to take ahold of his earlobe.
“Mantenme a salvo.” She mumbled drifting off to sleep.
“Whatever you say sweetheart.” He spoke slipping his arms around her.
“Te amo.” She breathed.
“Tea ammo, sweetheart.” He repeated, assuming it meant goodnight.
Chapter 6: One Year
Han sneaked around the Federal District with the schematics of the Alderaani district and the floor plan of Leia’s old Senatorial apartment in his head. He had dyed his hair black in the couple of days that they’d been dirt side for Leia’s experimental treatments. After the first round, the two of them and the medics had decided that it would be less stressful for her to be given a mild sedative. Han had decided it was finally time to take advantage of the few hours she was in the infirmary and raid her old apartment. He dressed in his old Imperial Officer’s uniform and was pushed a couple of crates on a hovercart as if he belonged there.
He let himself into the apartment with Leia’s codes and looked around. He smiled at the undecorated spartan space. He packed what few personal items were located in the lounge area and moved onto her bedroom. He’d been right in suspecting that she kept all of her personal belongings in her personal space. He smiled at the drastic difference in spaces. Where her lounge had been impersonal her sleeping quarters were so personal he felt like he shouldn’t be there. The walls were painted a light starflower blue and there were holos everywhere of Alderaan and her parents and several others he didn’t recognize. He opened the wardrobes and found her gowns, thousands upon thousands of dollars worth of gowns. He packed them carefully wondering if she had any casual clothes, she didn’t, not here anyway. He packed up her bureau and tried not to look at her more intimate things as he tossed them in with her gowns, he did note that they were a lot more utilitarian than he thought they’d be. A princess in athletic basics was not what he had expected—function over form he suspected as he sacrificed some of her gowns to fit more of her trinkets and holos.
He figured her personal items were more important than gowns she’d probably never wear again. He made an executive decision and removed most of them, opting to take her trinkets and holos of her friends and family and her record collection, rather than the formality of her royalty. She’d always be the princess—always be royalty to him and to her remaining people, the gowns didn’t make her a princess.
He packed the crates to the brim with everything that seemed personal, everything that looked well loved and well worn, especially the satin pillow on her bed. His mother had slept with a satin pillow case to protect her hair, he suspected that Leia had for the same reason. He moved on to the bathroom and gathered up ever piece of expensive cosmetic, soaps, bath oils, fizz bombs, anything he could grab and shoved it into the crate.
He moved onto the kitchen grabbing what looked like heirloom kitchen utensils and a bottle of Moccoan guava liquor, they’d enjoy that together when the medics cleared her to drink. He snagged a pack of cigarettes off of the caff table on his way out and strolled casually to the lifts.
Han had a half hour to kill before Leia would be ready to go back to the apartment. He wandered around the Corellian market district and looked for soft clothes for Leia; leggings and warm socks, sweaters and soft basic sets and maybe some soft gloves for her hands. Her hands, they hurt still and tingled and cold air felt like acid. He unfolded a deep red sweater, he loved her in deep reds it was a soft cable knit like the sweater of Sulen’s she’d grown so fond of but this one was small enough for Leia. He’d used a quarter of his reward on the trip and her treatments and he used a little more to buy her some clothes. He’d turn the rest into Carlist and even show him the filmy receipts just show him where the money had gone. He’d have to figure something out about Jabba, but he couldn’t leave now not without his princess.
Chewie was right.
“Any better?” Han spoke as she stepped out of the fresher wearing the new soft clothes he’d bought her, her impossibly long hair wrapped in a towel.
“I guess? I’m so sore so it’s really hard to tell, I guess my hands work better. Dr. Prashish said it would be hard to tell for sure until after all of the treatments were over.” She spoke sitting down next him and folding her legs up next to her.
“Hmm.” He slipped his arm around her. “What did she say about possible outcomes?”
“My prognosis isn’t great Han.” Leia spoke quietly and her voice shook a little. “She’s never seen damage like this.”
“Doubt she’s ever seen force lightning.”
“Probably not.” She swallowed hard.
She looked at him.
“Fastest ship in the galaxy and I couldn’t get there in time.”
“In time for what?”
“To stop ‘em from hurting you.”
“I still got my old Officer’s uniform, I was thinkin’ ‘bout that today.”
“You didn’t even know I existed before the garbage chute.”
“Used t’watch those Imperial Senate broadcasts.”
Leia covered her face with her hands and laughed. “Oh gods.”
“Let’s see. ‘You cannot put the rights of the Empire before the rights of sentients, destroying fully populated planets to test your weapon of war is asinine. I cannot with a clear conscious grant permission for wanton destruction. Alderaan votes no.’ How’s that?”
Leia looked at him through her fingers.
“Chewie, thought you were pretty special. He said you reminded him of Padme Nabarrie.”
“My father used to say that.”
“I only met her the one time, but I can see you buying a street kid a sandwich while your royal detail protests.”
“You are my royal detail.”
“Think I’m a little more than that.”
She curled up with him. “Not until I’m older, remember?”
He chuckled. “We’ll figure it out.”
“What’d you do today?”
“Broke into your apartment.”
She sat back and looked at him.
“You knew I was going to do it.”
She nodded. “I know, you dyed your hair.” She ran her fingers through the hair at his temples. It’s was black, deep black like her people, oddly it made him more attractive to her.
He watched her. “I need you to be older.”
She smiled at him and unwrapped her hair. “So, Captain, what did you bring me?” She spoke running her fingers through her hair to comb it out a bit. Han would brush it and braid it for her later, she still couldn’t reach and she tried not to wonder if she’d spend the rest of her life letting a Corellian smuggler comb out her hair. Though, as time went on she wasn’t sure she’d mind.
“All sorts of things.” He kissed her temple. “Your treasures.”
“And what are you asking in return for payment?”
He shrugged. “Nothin’ Lei. Maybe dinner out, when you’re feeling up to it.”
“Where would you take me if we went out on a date?”
He smiled. “Well...” He sat back crossing his arms across his chest. “There’s a festival in the Corellian sector.”
“Can we just sit somewhere or would there be a lot of walking.”
“It’s in a green space, we could get dinner and make a picnic.”
“Alright Solo, I’ll go on a date with you.”
He smiled at her. “So, you want to see what I was able to take?”
“I went for your gowns first.” He spoke walking into the sleep quarters.
“Oh Han, you didn’t.”
“Actually, I didn’t. I only grabbed a couple. Didn’t figure you had much need for ‘em anymore and that when you do, you’ll get new ones.”
She smiled at him.
“God some of your basics though, I remember you saying how hard it was to get ahold of basics on base, so I just dumped ‘em all into a crate.”
“You rifled through my underwear?”
“I didn’t look.”
She laughed that deep husky laugh that made him feel things he shouldn’t feel. Gods he wanted to march back into the lounge and kiss her. Instead he carried in the first of two large crates and pushed the caff table out of the way with his calf.
“That’s a lot of stuff.”
“There’s another one.”
She raised her eyebrows at him and unfolded herself.
“You want some privacy?” He spoke setting down the second crate.
She shook her head.
“You want some caff?”
“Caff would be really nice.”
When Han returned with caff, Leia was sitting on the floor surrounded by holos.
“She’s pretty.” He spoke sitting down with her.
Leia wiped her eyes and looked at him.
“Ex of yours?”
“Why’d you break up?”
“Time, priorities, she needed more than I could give.”
“Was it a good break up?”
“Was she there...you know?”
Leia shrugged. “It’s going to be a long time before I know who lived and who didn’t.”
Han nodded picking up a holo and turning it over. “Evaan.”
She nodded stacking the photos back and placing everything back in the crate. “Han, this was very nice of you. In fact this was probably one of the sweetest things anyone has ever done for me and I know how dangerous it was...”
“But you can’t do this right now, can you?”
She shook her head.
“Want me to keep it safe on the Falcon for you?”
“I’ll take the clothes out of the other one and take them to the Falcon.”
She nodded. “It’s not that I’m not grateful, I am Han, I really am.” She sighed. “But it’s just so fresh...I—I can’t, it’s too much.”
He nodded. “S’okay Lei, thought that might be the case but I also though you might want it for later. Couldn’t see letting it all go. You know?”
“I got some of your really nice stuff from your fresher, you want that left out?”
Han let himself out onto the balcony after returning from the Falcon. Leia was watching the speeder lanes, smoking and drinking a glass of his whiskey. Her hair was still down and was drying twisted around itself.
She looked at him and he could tell she’d been crying.
She shook her head. “Home.” She spoke and her voice shook. “I want to go home Han.”
He sighed as she tossed her cigarette over the side of the balcony and finished her whiskey. “Lei.”
“But I don’t have a home.” She spoke setting her glass down and leaning over the railing looking down into the bottomless chasm below them.
“You thinkin’ ‘bout jumping?”
“You um...” He started taking a few steps toward her. “You mind if I join you?”
“You think it would hurt?”
He took a few more tentative steps. “I think your heart would stop on the way down.”
“I’m tired of hurting Han.”
“That’s why we’re here.”
She shook her head. “Those medics, they can’t help me with this.”
Han slipped his arm around her gently. “Don’t jump just yet.”
She looked up at him. “Because I promised you a date?”
He shook his head. “I’m not going to hold you to that now.” He spoke folding her gently against him. “Let me try.”
“To help you.”
“Give me a year.”
“That’s a long time.”
“I’ll give you and your rebellion a year, if you’ll give me a year.”
Chapter 7: Virtue
Han sighed watching Leia curled up on the apartment sofa after her treatments, reading. She was growing quieter and quieter the longer they hid out and it worried him to no end.
“Leia.” He spoke gently leaning on the back of the sofa. “We’ve been holed up here for three weeks.”
She nodded without looking up.
“I think we need to get out of here for a while.”
“Oh.” She looked up at him. “Still trying to take me out on a date I see.”
He smiled at her. “Well, you are my wife.”
She laughed. “You wish, hotshot.”
“I think you might like it too.”
“Oh? You want to test that theory?”
“Let’s wait until this evening, then we’ll go.”
“Why this evening?”
“I hurt less at night.”
She kissed his cheek and started to get up.
“Where are you going?”
“Does it help?”
She shrugged turning to face him. “It’s a jet tub, it seems to.”
“I’ll run your bath.” He spoke gently. “Don’t get up.”
Han stood in the ‘fresher as hot water filled the surprisingly nice jet tub. He was reading the instructions on one of the expensive Alderaanian bath additives that he’d found in Leia’s apartment. He knew she’d been using it but he wanted to make sure he didn’t use too much, he wasn’t sure he’d be able to replace it when she ran out.
Leia walked in “Hey.”
“Hey.” He spoke distractedly.
“You want me to do that?”
“I don’t want to waste it.” He spoke gently, holding the bottle out to her.
She smiled at him.
“I’d never forgive myself if I spilled it and... I mean it’s irreplaceable and I...” He loved her, he wasn’t ready to say it but he felt it as he watched her carefully measure out what was left of her life before.
She set the bath additive down and watched him test the water temperature. He was so concerned for her and her comfort.
“Does that feel okay for you?”
She ran her hand under the tap and nodded. “It feels nice Han.”
“Alright, princess?” He spoke catching her around her waist gently.
He kissed her forehead gently. He liked the way she’d started to curl into him, against his chest. He rested his cheek against the top of her head feeling her press her hand against his chest. Gods, Chewie was right, he had it bad.
Leia wanted to beg him to stay, to let the Alliance handle Jabba and his death note bounty. He was right, she was enjoying their time together, and part of her wanted to run away to the outer rim with him. For a moment she thought seriously about being a smuggler’s wife and raising the toughest children in the galaxy with him. And then she remembered, as she took in the comforting musk of his skin what the medics on Yavin had told her.
“Lei?” He spoke gently feeling her tears soak through his shirt. “You alright?”
She shook her head.
She shook her head and he just held her keeping a close eye on the water level in the jet tub, wanting to be there for her but not wanting to let it overflow.
“S’alright.” He spoke quietly wishing she’d trust him enough to talk to him. “I ain’t going nowhere. Nowhere I need to be but right here.”
“Han?” Leia called from the bath.
“Yeah.” He spoke quietly from where he was sitting in the hall, next to the door to the fresher.
“Are you in the hall?”
“Mmm.” He grunted a noncommittal answer.
“You can come in here.”
“Don’t want to make you uncomfortable.”
“I have the curtain drawn.”
“Where are you taking me tonight?” She spoke as he sat down against the side of the tub.
“Hmm, that’s a well guarded secret.” He spoke scrolling through what information he could find about the Corellian Sector. He’d thought about taking her to the Alderaanian Sector but the inhabitants were still rioting and he didn’t want to put her in danger or break her heart.
“Don’t over think it Solo, take me to dinner, get me drunk and take me dancing.”
He smiled shaking his head incredulously.
“And absolutely nothing fancy or expensive. My favorite place in Aldera City was this little hole in the wall Cantina that looked like a place you could get shot in. They had this great blues band, nightly bar fights and wonderful tapas. It was perfect. Find a place like that.”
“Yes, find a place that I can smoke inside that serves decent cold ale on tap and has a good house band with a soulful female lead and serves surprisingly good food.”
“Well.” Han sat down and handed Leia a mug of dark Corellian ale.
“It’s not Mateo’s but it’s close enough.” Leia spoke looking around a smoky dive bar in the Corellian sector.
“So, this is your kind of place, eh Mrs. Cyloth?”
She raised her eyebrows at him as she lit up. “Yes.” She spoke exhaling smoke. “Mr. Cyloth, this is my kind of place. You’re my husband, you should know that by now.”
Her referencing him as her husband caught him off guard, even if it was their cover. He was almost positive that his heart had stopped. He met her eyes and he had that soft look again, that open look that he got from time to time. She was almost certain that his over confident smuggler persona was a mask. The longer they spent time together the more it fell away and she really liked what she saw underneath all of the bravado.
Han watched her watch the small crowd; the Sabacc game in the corner, the billiards to their right and a pair of drunk lovers dancing to the radio on the old dance floor. “Wanna dance, princess?”
She dipped her chin and smiled at him. “No, not this early.”
He took her hand . “Feel good, princess?”
She shook her head and they drank in silence for a while. Leia hadn’t really been on a lot of real dates, she’d been out with Evaan and occasionally with boys, but her social status made it difficult to have real time with someone, intimately without a crowd of attendants and security following her around, or worse media.
“I um... I spoke to Mon today.” Leia spoke quietly looking down into the ghostly swirls of foam floating on the top of her ale.
Han cleared his throat. “Oh?”
She sighed. “They want me to go into hiding in a series of safe houses.”
“How do you feel about that?”
She sighed. “You know how I feel about that.”
He nodded. “Let me guess, they want you in hiding and me an’ Chewie ‘running freight’ for them?”
“Guess they’re fucked then sweetheart, ‘cause they don’t get me, without you.”
She looked at him.
“Your safe house is sitting in the spaceport, princess.”
She wanted to kiss him, she wanted to take him back to the apartment and go to bed with him, but her mind wasn’t ready and neither was her body. It was going to take a long time and a lot of talking. In reality, not very much time had passed since the Death Star and as much as she wanted him, it wouldn’t be fair to him if she disassociated and she had a feeling she might. “My safe house is wherever you are.” She corrected.
He smiled at her taking her hand in both of his.
“Han?” She spoke watching him trace the lines on her palm with his finger.
“Mmm.” He grunted focused on her hand.
“What are you doing?”
“Reading your palm.” He spoke without looking up. “My ma used to do it when we needed money.”
Leia watched him and tried to ignore how her heart sped up as he drew the designs of her line of fate and her ring of Soloman. “You have a thing about hands don’t you?”
He looked at her. “Yours.”
He nodded raising her palm to his lips. The initial sensation was pins and needles and then the warmth of his lips and then that dull ache that reminded her, quickly separating her from her own body.
“Hans.” She breathed, she didn’t want to tell him that her body was still sore in such a way that they couldn’t do do much, not right then.
She shook her head refusing to meet his eyes.
He sighed and slipped his arm around her, tucking her in close to his side. “I’m sorry.” He pressed his lips to her temple. “Need your meds?”
Han reached into his jacket pocket and palmed her meds. “Brought ‘em just in case.”
“Guess I’ll stay away from the hard stuff.” She spoke taking them with her ale.
“More for me.”
She laughed and punched him gently.
“Well your hands seem to be fine.”
She cleared her throat and decided to be honest with him, if he wanted to ‘be there for her’ then she needed to know she could trust him. “It wasn’t that sort of pain.”
He tucked some loose strands of hair behind her ear. He’d been there in the infirmary with her on Yavin and he’d made sure she hadn’t had to ask for a hygiene on the way to the base, after he’d heard her cry in the shower and made a silent promise to never mention it. Of course she was sore, still sore in places that served as a brutal reminder of what she had sacrificed to save the Alliance. Not just Alderaan, but her body and mind, the relatively simple task of bearing children, something he was still surprised bothered her as much as it did. “Leia.” He spoke gently, dropping their cover to be there for her, his sincerity more important than their safety.
She looked at him, his eyes were so soft and so different that he almost didn’t look like himself. Whatever mask he normally wore was gone and his face was just open, vulnerable and honest. Gods, he had it bad and she could see it in his eyes. She knew, in that moment that he knew what sort of pain she’d experienced. “Don’t push yourself for me.” He pressed his lips against her forehead and she knew he’d wait for her, no matter how long it took.
She tucked herself tighter against his side wanting to feel the reassuring warmth of his body. She pressed her face against his collar bone and just held on.
“You want to go back?”
She shook her head.
Han watched the cover band sound check as he and Leia rode out the aftershocks of her trauma together. He’d hold her all night if that’s what she needed, even though his arms ached from keeping them tight around her, keeping constant tension in his muscles knowing the tighter he held her the safer she felt. Finally, he felt her shift in his arms and he loosened his grip.
She nodded and he felt her lips brush his jaw. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t apologize to me, not for this. This isn’t your fault.”
She nodded. “This ‘wait until you’re twenty agreement’ is slowly unraveling isn’t it?”
He nodded. “I’m at peace with it.”
She took a long drink of her ale. “So, are we dating then?”
“I think we may have skipped right over that when we started sharing a bunk, princess.”
She smiled and shook her head as the band started their set. She watched Han order from the waitress in Corellian; a second ale for each of them, a glass of whiskey for himself, some sort of bar food. She turned back to the band and watched Han recline next to her out of the corner of her eye his ankle on his knee. She felt him drag his fingers up her the middle of her back and smiled at him for a moment.
“Wanna dance sweetheart?”
“I’ll need a couple more of these first.” She spoke taking a long drink of her ale.
“So.” Han spoke as they ate some sort of Corellian street food on their walk back to their apartment. “What does this safe house plan look like.”
“They want to move me from place to place to keep me safe. They don’t want me anywhere near the Alliance base and they certainly don’t want my help.”
Han sighed clearly annoyed by the idea. “As if you’re some sort of monument.”
“I lost everything.” She leaned against him as they waited on a sky bridge to shift back to them. “I at least thought I’d be able to fight back. What does all that sacrifice mean? What did I live for?”
“It won’t last.” He spoke dragging his fingers up and down her arm. “‘Sides, we can do our own intelligence work.”
She looked at him.
“We make a pretty good team, we can hit up the outer rim and gather our own intelligence from folks who wouldn’t talk to the Alliance.”
“Why would they talk to us?”
“Well sweetheart.” He inclined the food container at her and tossed it in the nearest trash receptacle when she shook her head. “We ain’t the Alliance sweetheart, we’re just a couple of spacers moving freight and trying to figure out where the hotspots are.”
She nodded slowly, he was right.
“I know some safe ports we can hideout in until we come up with a more solid plan. Kashyyyk for one. Chewie would love to have you meet his family. The Wook is pretty fond of you.”
She nodded handing him their shared iced liquor concoction and letting him finish it off.
“He calls you the little princess.” He spoke slipping his arms around her as they waited.
“He calls me your mate.” She corrected flatly feeling his lips against her neck.
“So you know then?” He spoke against her skin.
“That he’s extended his life debt to you to include me?”
“Mmm.” He mumbled an affirmative.
“Yeah, I caught that.” She spoke letting her guard down and closing her eyes. He felt so good, she could stand here and wait for the bridge the rest of her life if he kept at it.
“I guess you weren’t asleep the other day.”
She shook her head.
Han cleared his throat. “Chewie likes to read into things, you know he um... he makes up his mind about ‘em without asking anybody.”
“If I’d been bothered by it I’d have said something at the time.” She moved to look at him the meds and the alcohol and the intoxicating pull of his touch making her want him. She watched his eyes shift to an almost golden hue as she reached up and tangled her fingers into his hair. His hair still dyed black from his mission to recover her possessions. His hair black like her people making him even more attractive in the simulated twilight.
The sky bridge locked into place.
“We should go sweetheart, before we get caught out.”
“We’ve been here too long.” Leia spoke as stepping out of the ‘fresher in his old Dreadnaughts T-shirt. “I feel like we need to get moving.”
Han sighed. She was right, as much as he was enjoying this odd domestic bliss, he knew she was right. “We need to meet with that physician of yours and see if she’ll give you some real answers.”
She nodded watching the speeder traffic out the window. “I don’t feel like I’ve made a lot of progress Han.”
Han watched her softened by the night environmental light settings, his shirt like a dress on her. “Lei?”
She looked at him.
“Come to bed.”
She nodded activating the sleep setting on the windows and walking over to him. The way she moved made his mouth dry, gods he wanted her. They’d gone a little too far at the bar and on the walk home.
Han woke with a start in the middle of the night after a dream so vivid he could still feel the weight of her on his hips as if she’d just been there like in his dream hair coming loose from it’s night braid. “Gods.” He muttered sitting up and looking around. She was asleep next to him, night braid still very much intact. He shook his head, he hadn’t had a dream like that since he’d been a teenager.
“Han?” She moved to face him.
He looked at her, shifting to hide his erection.
She sighed and curled up against him with her head against his chest. “Your heart is pounding, did you have a nightmare?”
He laughed incredulously. “No, no not a nightmare.”
“Oh.” She spoke reverently. “Was it about me?”
He laughed. “Have a high opinion of yourself do you, your highnessness?”
“Well, after all... I am your wife.” She referenced their cover story. “It had better been about me hotshot.” She spoke letting her hand drift.
“I can’t call you Jaina if you’re gonna be sexy.”
She laughed. “Han?” Her tone turned intimidatingly serious as her lips brushed his jaw.
“Did you dream of me?” She whispered, her lips brushing his ear as she spoke.
“Leia.” He breathed remembering that she’d taken another dose of her meds before bed. “Let me up. You don’t need to—I...”
“You don’t want me to?”
He gathered himself in a moment of clarity and sat up. “I don’t want you to think you have to.” He ran his fingers through his hair. “I’m a grown man, Leia.”
“What if I want to.”
His heart stuttered in his chest, she was going to be the death of him. “You’ve been through a lot Leia. You don’t have to feel obligated to to give me hand job, just ‘cause I have a dream about you ridin’ my...” He stopped himself.
“Did I at least seem to be enjoying myself?”
He laughed and looked at her. “Yeah.”
She smiled at him.
He started to get up. “I’ll um... I’ll be right back.”
“You can dream about me, but you can’t jerk off in front of me?” She raised an eyebrow at him. “Some lover you are.”
“Hey.” He he frowned at her. “Wait just a minute now.”
She smiled at him. “Such a fragile ego you have.” She spoke kissing him. “I thought Corellians were confident lovers.”
“Yeah, well I was married for a while, and um... there weren’t too many opportunities before then.”
“So it’s an act.”
“What’s an act?”
“That you’ve slept with women up one side of this galaxy and down the other.”
“Who the hell told you that?”
“I overheard some of the female pilots.”
He sighed. “Don’t believe everything that you hear.”
She smiled at him. “I’m sure you’ve heard your share about me.” She hugged her knees to er chest.
“Heard you were a virgin.”
“And that the High Command wants to use your virtue to form alliances.”
Leia sighed. “Want to know a secret?”
He looked at her.
“I lost my ‘virtue’ when I was fifteen.”
He smiled at her.
“General Dodonna told me that if I didn’t keep my hands off you he’d charge me with rape.”
She sighed and shook her head. “I’m sorry.”
“Is that why you’re so weird around me when things get heated?”
“Han, it’s going to take me a long to be comfortable having sex again. You know, because of...”
He nodded cutting her off.
“But don’t you dare bring the High Command into our bed.” She poked him in the chest. “The last thing I need is to think of Jan Dodonna while I’m trying to recover from all of that.”
He smiled at her. “Anyone in particular you’d like in your bed your highnessness?”
“Han?” She spoke curling up on her side.
“Yes, your worship?”
“Go back to sleep.” She spoke yawning.
Chapter 8: Glass
Han sat in the apartment lounge drinking an ale in the afternoon while Leia rested after her treatments. He was supposed to be looking for a new place for them to lie low for a while, but instead he sat berating himself for wanting her, she was nineteen and here he was a grown man, but she didn’t seem nineteen, not like Luke did. Sometimes, hell most of the time she seemed older than him. Gods he couldn’t stop thinking about that dream he kept having of her, it seemed so real, sometimes when it woke him he could still taste her on his lips or hear her moans in his ears.
He took a long drink of his ale wanting to be right back where his dream had left off, his head buried between her thighs her fingers tangled in his hair her moans filling his ears, saying his name in her deep alto voice, all that voice in such a small woman. Once they’d talked and she’d mentioned that intercourse would be out of the question his dreams had shifted accordingly. No longer was he dreaming of burying himself deep inside of her, the way her thighs felt wrapped around his hips or that dream he’d had about her the week before, when she’d all but offered him a hand job.
How did a princess like her know anything about a hand job? Sure she’d told him she’d lost her precious ‘virtue’ at fifteen and he knew she’d lived on her own here on Coruscant for a long time before the Death Star, but the longer he spent time with her the more he realized just how incorrect his first impressions had been about her.
He had a lot to think about when it came to his inexplicable attraction to Leia, there was so much more at stake than just their age difference. He hadn’t felt so drawn to another person since he’d first met Sulen at the Academy. He’d wanted her, pursued her and eventually married her only to lose her—he wasn’t sure he could go through that again with Leia. If he were honest he waned Leia more than he’d wanted Sulen, the pull to her was so much stronger and yet, here he was sitting on an old bantha leather sofa in a shitty apartment trying to justify why he shouldn’t get involved. He could still smell the sulfur and the smoke of the bomb than killed Sulen and Fane, the two most important people in his life to date, other than Chewie and Leia.
He couldn’t shake it, gods she just wrecked him at every turn. He’d think he had it under control and he’d roll over half awake to the curve of her back exposed in the moonlight and it would take everything he had to not take her into his arms and tell her how much he loved her, the dreams he had about her—not the ones about sex. No, the ones about domesticity; about living in a home he’d built for her, with his own two hands. Those impossible dreams about morning caff and seeing her with their children, their little girl with her big brown eyes and his crooked easy grin and the little one with her eyes and his hair. Gods, he missed having a family and he wanted that with Leia so much that his subconscious was creating that world in his dreams.
There were nights now, most nights that he lie awake just wanting nothing more than to take her into his arms and convince her to run away with him, to leave the rebellion her father built for a life with him. Too soon, it was too soon for that nonsense and she was nineteen and he was much too old for her, but gods when she curled up into his arms she felt like home, she felt like they’d been made for each other.
He tried to shake the thoughts from his head and went focus on the star charts he was studying, looking for a safe place to hide with her until she recovered. The last thing he needed was to take an unwell and somewhat suicidal princess back to a base full of old men willing to overwork her and take advantage of her inability to sleep. He wouldn’t take her back until she could hold her own, until she’d gotten her strength back, not just physically but mentally as well.
He walked into the med center just like every day before and took the turbo lift up to the state-of-the-art unit treating Leia, the one he’d been so sure could help that he was now sure could not. He was just waiting for Leia to decide it was time to move on and from the way she’d sounded when she’d commed, this was probably it.
He could tell by her body language as she leaned against one of the stark white walls, that she was done, completely and totally done. He could almost feel her anger and frustration as he quickened his pace.
“Jaina?” He spoke quietly.
“Just take me home Hans.” She’d spoken firmly, her voice weak and tired but still decisive. “I want to go home.”
Han read through the notes from the data chip Leia had gotten from Dr. Prashish and it was clear that they’d reached an impasse, that there was nothing else to be done. “Is there anyone they could refer you to?”
“No, they’re it.” She bit out as she sat next to him in Chewie’s seat on the Falcon. “This is it Han, as good as it’s ever going to get.”
He sighed. “We’ll figure it out Lei.”
“What is there to figure out?” She got up.
“Trust me.” He spoke getting up.
She watched the star field rush by as they shot through hyperspace. “It’s not about that.”
“You trust me?”
She sighed and shook her head. “I wouldn’t be hurdling through hyperspace with you and Chewie if I didn’t.”
“I’m going to go lie down.” She got up. “It’s late by standard time.”
“Chewie will be up soon to take over watch.”
She nodded heading toward the ring corridor.
“Lei?” He grabbed her hand gently.
She looked at him.
“I’d um...” He cleared his throat. “Guess I’m selfish.”
He shrugged. “Sure miss you, you know?”
He nodded taking her hand in both of his kneading it gently as he lost himself in her eyes.
“What do you mean, you miss me?” She looked down at their hands.
“I’d miss you.”
She looked at him.
“Guess I’m selfish. I’d miss you. I mean I know you’re in pain and all, but I’d miss you.”
She moved to stand in front of him. “Hmm.” She ran her fingers through his hair, still dyed dark. “Would you?”
He nodded looking up at her.
She sat down on his lap.
“Leia, don’t give in.”
She pressed her forehead against his and sighed. “I’m responsible for the deaths of two billion people.”
“And you saved countless others.”
She sat back and looked at him.
He stroked her cheek. “You know it’s not your fault.”
She knew better but gods she wanted him and she knew he wanted her. She kissed him and she felt his hands on her and tried to stay in the moment. Gods he felt good and she wanted this so desperately. She broke away for a moment to catch her breath and watched him stare deep into her eyes.
“I don’t know.” She breathed. “Just go with it.” She kissed him again forcing herself to stay right there in the cockpit of the Falcon, to focus on Han’s hands warm under her shirt, staying low against her sides, cautious and tentative but there with her.
“Don’t want to hurt you.” He spoke kissing her neck his hands sliding over her hips pulling her closer.
She tilted her head, afraid to close her eyes, trying to keep her surroundings in view, focusing, focusing, focusing—the cockpit, his hands, the rough stubble of his face against her skin, the smell of his skin. She reached down and unfastened his blaster rig.
“Sorry.” He mumbled across her throat feeling the heavy buckle slide off his hips, hearing it clang against the side of his seat. And then he felt it, felt her falter, felt her body stiffen as if triggered by the noise. He pulled away quickly disengaging, as if he could almost feel her mind shift. “Leia?” He spoke gently as she changed positions on his lap moving to sit sideways, surprised she hadn’t gotten up, instead she rested her head against his chest.
“Han.” She spoke and her voice broke.
“S’alright.” He crooned gently just as he did after her nightmares. “M’right here.”
She nodded against his chest.
“Just gonna take a while sweetheart, s’alright.” He moved to hold her. “Can I hold you?”
“M’not going nowhere.” He slipped his arms around her. “Can’t scare me off.”
She nodded feeling the comforting pressure of his arms, holding her tight, tighter than he’d been comfortable with the first time he’d held her like this, afraid he’d squeeze the breath out of her. Gods, he loved her every piece of her, even what had been shattered like glass into millions of tiny sharp shards and so he held her together, even the pieces that hurt, that cut, that stabbed at him those he held tighter, those were the most important parts. Those were the parts of her he was most afraid to lose.
Chapter 9: Topography
Leia sat in the forward hold amongst the crates Han had stolen back for her. She stared at the contents laid out on the deck plates; holos, records, flimsi letters, random trinkets and treasures from various worlds—feeling everything and nothing at once. She held the back of her neck with both of her hands trying to hold herself together. After the incident in the cockpit she was desperately trying to remember the woman she used to be. The woman who was cavalier about sex and not afraid of her own body. She remembered when she had literally propositioned Evaan in their university library.
“Evaan,” she’d whispered looking up from her studies, playing with the Alderaanian sapphire pendant she always wore.
“Mmm?” Evaan focused on her research.
“Let’s get out of here,” she spoke again, this time letting her voice drop into that smoky alto that she reserved for decidedly non-academic conversations.
“Lei, it’s dead week, we have finals in four days.” Evaan had answered dryly still trying to focus on her studies.
And with that Leia rolled her eyes and reached out, closing the book Evaan had been taking notes from.
“Hey!” Evaan hissed.
Leia smiled at her.
“What?” Evaan finally met her eyes, an eyebrow raised wondering just what Leia was up to.
“Let’s go,” Leia got to her feet, “let’s take a break.”
“And do what?” Evaan got up.
Leia shrugged. “Wanna fuck?”
And it had worked too. Where was that girl, she asked herself. Where was that fearless girl? She thought of going through her record collection and remembering when her riot grrl albums made her feel empowered and in charge of her own sexuality. Just because you’re thinking of fucking a man, doesn’t make you any less sexually liberated than when you fucked women. You’re still you, Evaan’s voice in her head assured her. You’re still that badass, bisexual princess that took charge and talked about condoms and abortion and gay rights and gender politics. She’s still in there Lei.
She missed Evaan--she missed Evaan so much her chest hurt as she looked at a holo of the two of them together. Winter had taken it--when the four of them, Evaan and Leia and Winter and Tycho, had spent winter session break skiing in the mountains together. She was so happy then, Evaan made her so happy. She wasn’t sure she’d ever feel like that again, even though she was starting to get glimpses of it with Han, it wasn’t the same and she wasn’t sure it would ever feel right. Hell, she wasn’t sure if she was ready to feel right. She wanted to feel like herself again, but she wasn’t ready to just blindly accept what she’d been through--to welcome the damage as apart of who she was now. Fuck that. She once again heard Evaan’s voice with her own.
It wasn’t that she missed Evaan so much as she missed the Leia she’d been before. Han made her feel the same way Evaan had, but she couldn’t get over the way her body shut down and how she jumped at the slightest of noises; the clang of his holster buckle against the side supports of the pilot seat as they’d made out. Gods, in that moment she’d wanted him, still now he was all she thought about—the surprising softness of his lips and the hard press of him against her, but more than that it was the way he let her be in control of everything and listened to her, even if it was only the unspoken language of her body.
She didn’t jump at his voice, she’d known he was there, leaning in the hatchway. She’d felt his presence before he’d spoken. She nodded, moving to sit back against the bulkhead, “They’re all gone, Han.”
He sighed taking a few cautious steps into the cargo hold.
“Everyone is just gone and it was so quick that I forget that I can’t just comm or send a message to them. Winter was supposed to come to Coruscant and spend a couple of weeks with me and my father, I’d just seen him before I left for Scarif.” She shook her head, gazing downcast into her lap.
“Can I join you?”
He sat down with her, pulling one long leg up against his chest and leaning toward her, keeping his posture open. He sat quietly, waiting for her to talk, not trying to relate his loss to hers or minimize her feelings with sympathy. He knew better.
“I feel like I’ve lost a part of myself.” She looked at him. “You know?”
He nodded; he knew. He’d lost himself a long time ago, but he was starting to feel himself come back with her. He wanted to hold her and tell her it would be alright someday, but that clearly wasn’t what she needed. She didn’t need him to rescue her from herself, that wasn’t something he could do for her. The simple fact of ‘being the man in her life’ wasn’t going to heal her, that was the stuff of bullshit and fairytales. A kiss to heal a princess. He’d seen the holofilms and knew that they were fantasy. He’d never met any woman or man who could be magically cured by a kiss or a healing round of sex. Leia needed time and support and comfort and humor, she needed to live and move forward and laugh and feel safe. She didn’t need some big macho asshole to fuck her well.
“What?” She spoke; he’d been staring at her, his eyes soft and open.
He shook his head. “Just thinking.”
He shrugged, “Your tattoos.” He gestured to a holo of her sunning herself on some black sand beach.
“You know, Kashyyyk has a tradition of tattoo as well. We might be able to get them fixed.”
She shook her head, “I don’t want them back to the way they were. Alderaan is gone Han, there isn’t anyone who can do the same work as before.”
“You could get them fixed with Kashyyyki art. I’m sure the Wook would be onboard with that, you’re his family now, y’know?”
“Something to think about,” he shrugged. “Might help a little.”
She moved to lean against his shoulder. “Would you sit with me?”
He nodded, swallowing hard, understanding how emotional re-doing those tattoos would be for her, honoured that she would want him with her.
“When I had them done for my coronation only one other person could be in the room with me, they had to bear witness that I kept my composure. It wasn’t necessary but a well-composed princess was a sign of a firm and strong leader in years to come.”
Han slipped his arm lose and draped it around her shoulder as she mimicked his posture. “And I’m sure you kept your composure.”
She shook her head. “I cried. Gods, it hurt so bad.”
“Did your mother cry?”
“We all cry, apparently, but the chosen witness is instructed to lie.”
“It’s all an act, ceremony, intimidation.”
He kissed the part in her hair.
“I cried like a child, because I was a child.” She looked at her hands. “I told my mother later, so afraid I’d let everyone down. She just smiled at me and said ‘yes of course you did, loved, you’re a sentient human with feelings and emotions, and crying is a wonderful healing act. Never let yourself believe that it is weakness.’ And she hugged me, gently of course and told me that she was proud of me and that she’d cried too.”
“Wise woman, your mother.”
“She was, but very proper, very old traditional Alderaani. We butted heads a lot. I was rather wild like my father. He was a bit of a scoundrel.”
“Hmm, I see where you get it.”
Leia smiled, “I think I would like to get them redone.”
“Good, I’ll talk to Chewie,” he started to get up.
“Hmm mmm,” she grabbed his arm, “stay for a while.”
He nodded trying to be casual as he sat back down, slipping his arm back around her.
“I know I thanked you before, but thank you for finding all of this. I know it’s just stuff, material possessions but material possessions are all I have left.” She curled up against his chest.
He stroked her cheek with the back of his hand, the softest part—his knuckles gliding slowly over smooth skin. He’d begun to find it difficult to keep his hands off of her, innocent brushes as he passed her in the lounge, the intimacy of pressing his hand against the small of her back as they moved through crowds together. Even in his sleep he’d found himself pressed against her back, arm firm around her waist bolstering her against her nightmares, ready to wake at the slightest movement.
She watched him stare, his eyes soft around the edges, his posture relaxed. She wanted him—wanted him like she’d wanted every lover before him, wanted her mind to let her have him. She could feel his want, she’d felt it for a while; he couldn’t hide it from her, never could. It had thrilled her and frightened her all at once when she’d first felt it, now it just added to the intense pull she felt, deep within the Force. She’d never met anyone that felt like “hers” the way Han did. He wasn’t going anywhere without her, he’d never leave now even to pay Jabba. Something had happened between them when he’d held her in the infirmary, she’d felt it. Felt him in the Force trying to soothe her, to reassure her—to wrap his consciousness around her. And she’d reached right back, their presences wrapping so tightly—connecting so effortlessly. He was hers and had been since that moment. The man would follow her to hell and there was nothing she could do stop him.
She felt him again subconsciously reaching out to her and wondered if he knew that for all his bluster about hokey religions and nonsense, that he used the force as much as she did. She couldn’t help smiling as she imagined Han Solo in bloodstriped Jedi robes.
“What?” He spoke quietly.
She kissed him and felt him shift and pull her onto his lap, leaning against the bulkhead, the slight weight of her against him. His holster was off, he’d stowed it just for her, she knew, because of the noise it had made in the cockpit. She tangled her fingers in his hair; it was softer than it had been before, as if he’d been using her conditioner. His hands slipping under her shirt broke up her thoughts and refocused her back into the room. His fingers rough and tender, tentative as they moved carefully against her ribs, against the expanse of fractal scars and soft skin, learning the topography of scar tissue, careful of the worst spots, lighting fires along the borders of her, like a cartographer in unexplored territory.
She unbuttoned his shirt, her fingers still slow and dull. She felt clumsy and self-conscious of her distinctive lack of dexterity. She could feel their consciousnesses wrapping tightly around each other, and she wondered if he could even feel it or if he just assumed that what he was feeling was nothing more than intense desire.
“Leia,” he mumbled against her neck, knowing that they were walking a fine line between pleasure and pain, that her body couldn’t keep this up just yet.
She pressed her forehead against his shoulder, keeping her hands inside of his shirt, wanting to keep the connection between them. She loved him, she knew it, she’d felt it since Yavin. She might never say the words out loud but she felt it and felt him feel it just as strongly as she had.
Chapter 10: Kashyyyk
As a reminder I am rewriting The Foundling to better match with Interstitials, both works are under construction at this time and on a partial hiatus, but I couldn’t resist posting this chapter as a holiday gift for my fic enabler and faithful reader Smugglerofsass.
Leia gasped involuntarily as they broke through the atmosphere of Kashyyyk. She couldn’t help herself, the densely forested landscape looked so much like the less mountainous regions of Alderaan.
“You alright sweetheart?” Han spoke gently feeling her grip his shoulder.
Chewbacca lowed gently understanding perfectly, he remembered the beauty of Alderaan and knew the significance of home more that Han.
Han nodded taking one hand off the controls and placing it over hers, trying to convey some sort of comfort as he piloted them safely over the treetops. He hoped she could feel safe enough to heal here. They’d stay as long as it took, Kashyyyk was relatively safe and if High Command wanted her hidden from the Empire, he’d hide her from the Empire. If he had his way, he’d never take her back to those old men waging a war on the backs of Alderaan’s dead—Leia’s parents, friends and lovers. Where it once made him angry, now after spending time with Leia it just made him sick. She had told him once, in a weak moment that though she cared about the movement, she’d have walked away from all it to save her home and her people.
Leia watched the Falcon skim over the dense temperate rainforests of Kashyyyk and she could almost smell the familiar scent of the temperate forests of home, a scent she never thought she’d smell again. She felt her eyes water and tried to pull herself together before Han felt it too. She was almost positive that he could sense her emotion even as absurd as that idea felt. She felt him move to grasp her hand twining his fingers with hers his consciousness, feather soft—delicate as springtime.
Han felt Leia’s eyes on him as he made dinner in the Falcon's small galley. Chewbacca had gone ahead to the village to spend a few days with his family before Han and Leia were to join later. Han could feel Leia’s eyes eyes burning through the back of him as he tried to play it casual, tried to play it cool. He’d felt something shift since they’d left Coruscant and he knew she’d felt it too. Her gaze sent heat down his spine as he shifted his weight from foot to foot.
Leia watched him as she got up from the acceleration couch in the lounge and crossed to the conserverator. She could smell the air of Kashyyyk as it drifted in the open main hatch, it smelled like home, it smell like comfort. The scent of the forests settled in her bones and relaxed her, it lowered her shields, intoxicated her like a Crevasse rosé. She thought it was the air, but it may have been Han, the more time they spent together the more sure she was that she could feel his force presence, that Han Solo had a force presence and that she could feel it, still blew her mind.
Han pressed his hand against the small of her back and something unspoken passed between them as he switched of the stove turning to her in the same moment. He’d kissed her several times since meeting her on the worst day of her life, but the softness of his lips always surprised her. Her hair was down and while one hand pulled her closer the other found it’s way into her hair. “Leia,” he whispered, his lips next her ear, “I want to fall in love with you.”
“No, you don’t Han,” Leia spoke not letting him go, “everyone I’ve ever loved is dead.”
He kissed her again and though he could feel her apprehension, he knew it was from his words not from his actions. He felt her hands slip over the skin of his back, over the old scars he’d earned on the streets of Coronet City. He wanted to tell her about Sulen and Fane about losing his world. She’d lost two billion people, he’d lost the only people who he’d ever loved; his mother, his sister, his wife and his child and his loss though smaller in scale, had at the time felt like his world had been destroyed. He pulled her into his arms holding her close against his chest as the images of his lost family flashed in his memory.
Leia saw fire and flames and great clouds of dust and smoke, but it wasn’t Alderaan it wasn’t hers, it was Han’s. Part of her wanted to step away to ground herself to steal away from his memories, his pain so similar to her own, but she wanted to know, wanted to feel what he felt. She held on tight, seeing his memories and understanding that he wanted her to see that he understood her, felt her despair in a way that she hadn’t realized.
And then she saw her dark skinned and beautiful with Han, both of them young and vibrate, happy, images flickering like holos behind her eyes. A cabin intricately designed with holos on the walls, a warm fire that beautiful woman smiling happily, contentedly, curled close to Han talking quietly, Sulen she heard Han’s voice over the quiet conversation before her, names children’s names. She saw Han press his hand to her stomach and say Fane, for my sister. The images shifted forward in time to same room in the same cabin, seeing through Han’s eyes as he held a beautiful child cradled in his arms singing Corellian sea shanties in a quiet whisper in the early morning hours, promising to protect her, to love her and her mother and to always be there.
Han broke the connection first, stumbling backwards wiping his eyes, “Leia...I...” he fumbled reaching out blindly for the acceleration couch in the galley and sitting down heavily.
Leia stayed with him, knowing that her connection had brought back memories that he wasn’t prepared to deal with, that he’d seen as clearly as she had, watched them with her, guided her through them until he couldn’t take the heartache anymore and broke their connection. She sat with him drawing her into his arms and he sobbed against her chest, feeling all of the old buried pain again as if it were fresh as she held him running her fingers through his hair gently her lips pressed to the back of his head as he shook in his arms. She knew he was mourning his family, his wife and child. Understood then that he had lost his world just as she had. She understood just how much it took for him to love again, and he’d decided that she was worth that old pain.
“Han,” she whispered gently, still stoking his hair, her heart breaking at his sobs, “I’m here, right here.”
He reached out to her and wrapped his arms around her so tightly and she could feel his fear, fear that she would someday be gone like Sulen and Fane. That she might give up and succumb to her despair and he might lose her forever. She remembered him saying that he’d miss her if she let go, to give him a year, to not give up and she knew now that it wasn’t just because he wanted her to give herself a chance to heal, it was because he loved her and he’d always lost everyone he’d ever loved; a father he’d never known, his mother, his sister, his wife and their child, all of them gone now and it was just her, and him.
She sighed, his despair was so heavy she could feel the weight of it as he felt it, “I won’t leave you,” her voice broke, “if I have any control over it, I won’t leave you.”
He looked at her so abruptly that he almost slammed the back of his head into her chin, “Leia...”
She hushed him and wiped his tears away, “Han,” she spoke so quietly she could barely hear her own voice, “I love you.”
She watched his hazel eyes widen and change colors as he processed what she was saying to him.
“I didn’t want to, I had no plans to. I’m not in the right place for this at all, but I felt it weeks ago, and I’m afraid of it, but it’s there and I can’t walk it back.”
Han reached out and stroked her cheek, wiped the tears away that she hadn’t realized had fallen, “I love you like I loved her and there’s so much guilt...”
“I know, Evaan was, she was... I thought after the Erso Mission I’d be able to go home, our losses are the same Han.”
“I felt it, I saw it...”
“I let you,” he shook his head, “I don’t know if you were ready for that, should have been more careful, m’sorry...”
“Lei, I needed you to understand, needed you to see that there’s me,” he gestured to the Falcon around them, “and then there’s me,” he took her hands, “needed you to see me.”
“Just give me time enough, Leia.”
He smiled at her and let go of her hands, slipping his arm around her, “s’gonna be alight sweetheart.”
She nodded and for the first time in a long time she thought that it might be, she felt safe here in close to him, his arms comfortable and snug around her shoulder, his lips pressed to the crown of her head.
Han felt her relax in his arms, felt her breathing again for the first time since he’d met her, “I love you,” he whispered.
“I know,” she spoke with sincerity.