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fledgling

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"I can't feel anything," Han complains.  He's kneeling on the floor at her feet, impatient and eager, as she sits on the edge of the captain's bunk, still tangled in the sheets.  

 

"Shh." Leia takes his hand, restless fingers splayed over her rounded belly, and moves it to the left, flattens it and presses her fingers over Han's.  "There."  

 

Han's eyes flare with surprise and his mouth drops into an O as their son kicks out hard at his palm, and Leia winces, then giggles.  "I told you."  

 

Her husband grins up at her sheepishly, a sparkle in his hazel eyes.  "Pretty strong, isn't he?" 

 

"Very." Leia takes her hand and runs her fingers through Han's hair.  He sighs, his eyes fluttering shut as he leans his cheek against the curve of her stomach, and she feels contentment sweep through him and flow into her.  And she lets it in gratefully.  The past few months -- okay, the past few years -- have been so full of war and struggle and fear and doubt.  But all that will be different, soon.  The galaxy will have peace, and they, two grown-up orphans, will have a family.  Han had to pester her relentlessly for days before she found the time to come and steal these moments on the Falcon with him, but now she's so, so glad she did.  We've earned this.  We needed this.  

 

The baby kicks again, enthusiastically, as if in agreement, and Han lurches back, startled.  Leia giggles at him, and Han only looks offended for a moment before he joins her in laughter, the corners of his eyes crinkling in a way that still makes Leia's stomach flutter.  Or is that the baby, reacting to the sound of his parents' happiness?  It's both, she realizes.  

 

"You said you had something to show me," she recalls aloud, poking Han's shoulder.  "Before we got distracted."  

 

Han, to her delight, blushes.  "Right."  Getting to his feet, he extends a hand to help her to hers.  A month or so ago, she wouldn't have needed the help, but the more the baby grows, the more gravity seems to attach itself to her, and it's better to be safe than sorry.   Both barefoot, they make their way out of the captain's cabin and over the cold -- and freshly cleaned, Leia notes -- floors of the Falcon, towards the newly converted kitchen area.  There's a curtain hanging in the doorway that wasn't there before, prettily but innacurately patterned with star charts.  Han moves to pull it aside, but looks back at Leia nervously before he does so.  She gives him an encouraging nod, and he grins a crooked grin and pulls back the curtain, helping her step through into the room beyond.  

 

"Whaddya think?" Han asks, stuffing his hands in the pockets of his sleep pants and shifting anxiously from foot to bare foot.  

 

"Han, it's wonderful! When did you have time to do all this?" 

 

He shrugs, his grin widening.  "When I was supposed to be sleeping, mostly. After we got the nursery ready, it crossed my mind that the kid's probably gonna spend a good chunk of time on the Falcon, too.  So I thought I'd make up some stuff for him to have here ... I dunno."  

 

Leia turns slowly, letting her eyes adjust to all the things that have been added to the space since she last saw it.  The Falcon is cleaner than it's been since she first stepped on board, the floors and walls several shades lighter than she knew they were capable of being.  There are bright blue curtains over the viewport, mimicking the kitchen in their home on Chandrila.  A soft rug has been placed in the middle of the floor.  Towels are hung up neatly on hooks.  A metal planter has been filled with flowers and a little lamp hung over them to help them grow even in space. The dining nook now boasts a high-chair, made of scrap metal bits welded together, but polished perfectly smooth and painted a glossy blue.   It catches Leia's eye more than any of the rest, ties it all together, makes it all real.  The baby that rolls and kicks inside of her more insistently each day ... very soon he will be in her arms, will need to be fed and held and taught how to be a person.  Oh, boy.   Leia holds onto the chair, using it to steady herself at the sudden rush of emotion.  

 

"I bolted it to the floor," Han says helpfully, "so he can't tip it over." 

 

"That's a great idea," Leia says, pulling herself together and patting the back of the chair.  It's well made, sturdy and safe.  "He won't be able to use it a for a while, but I'm sure he'll love it when he gets a little bigger." 

 

Han's brow scrunches.  "Why won't he be able to use it for a while?" 

 

"Han, babies can't sit upright for ... I think six or so months after they're born? "  She smiles at him, but Han doesn't return the smile.  His frown deepens, his expression turning inward, and he rubs his forehead and groans.  

 

"I forgot," he mumbles.  "Kriff."  

 

"Han, don't be upset.  It's a beautiful chair and your son is going to love it."   Han nods in acknowledgment of her words, but she can tell he doesn't feel the truth of them.  Now it's Leia's turn to frown, crossing back over to her husband and taking his hands in hers.  "This isn't just about the chair, is it?" 

 

He blinks down at her, surprised for only a moment, and then his shoulders slump and he gives her a defeated look.  "I guess not."  

 

"Come here."  She leads by the hands and sits down -- heavily, with his assistance -- at the dining nook, where she only barely fits, and he squeezes in beside her.  "Tell me what's bothering you, Han." 

 

"I just feel like I'm already messing this whole thing up," he mumbles, folding his calloused hands on the table and staring down at them.  

 

"This whole thing?" 

 

"You know.  Family stuff."  

 

Leia sighs, a little exasperated, but only because Han can't see the truth about himself, the truth that has become more clear to her with every passing day of their life together.  "Well, I'm here to tell you, that is absolutely not true, Han.  You're great at 'family stuff' and you're only going to get better.  Look at everything you've already done, and the baby isn't even here yet."  

 

"But that's exactly it," Han protests, turning to look at her, fear in his eyes.  "He's not even here yet and I'm already making mistakes! What happens if ..." 

 

Leia reaches up and presses her fingers to Han's mouth, then cranes her neck to replace her fingertips with her lips.  When she breaks the kiss, he looks at her quizzically, with curiosity and hope.  

 

"You care," she tells him fiercely.  "That's the most important thing, Han.  You care and you try and you come through.  You show up and you do the hard things.  You are going to make mistakes, okay? And I'm going to make mistakes too.  Because everybody does." 

 

"That's what Chewie said too," Han mumbles.  

 

"Well, Chewie ought to know.  I'm sure he's made his fair share of mistakes in two hundred years!  My parents made mistakes ..." -- she thinks for a moment of her birth parents as well -- "... but they loved me, and they took care of me, they fought for me, did their best for me.  They loved me so much that even though they're gone, I can still feel it.  You and I might not know everything, might not have it all figured out ... but we know how to learn.  And we know how to fight.  And we know how to love."  

 

Han nods slowly, starry-eyed, drinking in her words.  

 

"We're going to be fine," she tells him softly, and she has not realized how much she also needed to hear those words, until she spoke them.  

 

Han is smiling again now, and he tucks a stray strand of her long loose hair behind her ear, strokes the pad of his thumb across her cheek.  "Did the Force tell you that?" he asks, half in jest and half in anxious earnest.  She knows he's not comfortable with the subject, which is why he tries to make it a joke.  

 

Leia scoffs.  "I don't need the Force to tell me what kind of man you are, Han Solo."   She kisses him again, longer and deeper than before, wrapping her arms around him as best she could with her stomach in the way.  He wraps her up a bit more easily with his longer arms, and drops a kiss to the top of her head, then her forehead, each of her eyelids, the tip of her nose.  She laughs as he nuzzles his face against hers, chasing his mouth with hers before he teasingly pulls away.  

 

"What did I ever do to deserve you, huh?" he asks her huskily.  

 

"I could tell you," she replies, "but I think I'd rather you show me the rest of your nest."  

 

Han tilts his head in bemusement.  "Nest?" 

 

Leia grins up at him, feeling mischievous.  "That's what you've been doing on the Falcon.  Cleaning everything, rearranging, adding on the kitchen, building the high chair, decorating ... that's what it's called when you're getting ready for a baby.  Nesting." 

 

Han scowls, but in a good-natured way.  "Nesting ... what am I, a banshee bird?" 

 

Leia mimics the face he's making.  "You're a dad," she says.  And once she says it, she wants to say it again.  "You're a dad," she repeats, softly.  

 

"Yeah," he confirms, "yeah, I guess I am.  And you're a mom."  

 

"I guess I am," she murmurs.  

 

"And you're already really damn good at it."  Han's tone is light, but his eyes are serious and his words warm Leia to the heart.  Does he even know that she relies on him, as much as he relies on her?  

 

"Thank you," she tells him, resting her head on his shoulder.  "For everything you've done."  

 

"It's my pleasure, Princess."  He breath ruffles across her hair, and there is peace between them.  Among them.  

 

"I think ..." -- Leia rests a hand on her belly -- "... we think that you're already really damn good at it too."  

 

Again, as if in agreement, their son kicks out, hard.  

 

Han laughs.  "Hey! I felt that!"  

 

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