There are certain things, certain moments, that one can only have from the cockpit of a ship, and nowhere else. The way the stars streak long and infinite before the jump to hyperspace. The sight of a friendly planet after a long trip. The way the pure vastness of all of the galaxy stretches out before you, in those quite, silent moments when it’s just you and your ship.
Loving Leia is a lot like that. Her smile is the horizon, bright, impossible to control, always, always almost out of reach. Her laugh like a comet, sudden and brilliant in the otherwise dark sky. And when she’s mad, it’s as crushingly dark, as overwhelming, as space can be when your hyperdrive fails.
Not that she shows her anger often. Why would she? She’s a damned princess, not some lowborn riffraff like him. Anger, like hunger, Han knew quite well, as more of a friend, a motivator to keep moving, to keep living, than something to hide. He doesn’t box up his anger like she does. No. He hides the valuable stuff. The rare stuff. The good stuff. Hope. Dreams. ANd most especially, he hides his love. Because love is too breakable, too fragile a thing to go around tossing down on a table like a winning Sabaac hand. It can’t be bartered for or traded, or even, repaired.
Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Then, sometimes, that old friend anger might come back to take its place. He knows that well. Knows the deeper he falls, the darker it all gets around him. Because once the sun is replaced with a person, once true north becomes someone’s smile, it’s a hell of a lot harder to find a way out of the whole mess.
He knows all that, but he can’t stop loving her. It’s part of him now, just like his love of flying.
That night, with the course plotted to Cloud City, and the galaxy spinning around them, he holds her in his arms, and feels steady for the first time in a long time. Her gravity keeps him close, traps him like a moon on a slow but inevitable collision course. His love, that rare, fragile thing, dangles between them. A word from her could shatter it.
So, he doesn’t speak. He kisses her, tangles his fingers in that impractical long brown hair, breathes in her expensive perfume and the scent of grease from the repairs she’d helped him with only hours ago, before everything went wildly off course. And she doesn’t speak either. She’s too busy kissing him back, too busy pressing against him, too busy exploring under his shirt with her clever hands, to say anything that might ruin this moment.
They’re pretty good at ruining moments. Not as good as that damned gold droid is, but they do have some talent for always saying exactly what the other one doesn’t want to hear. He realizes, then, that telling her that exact thought would be another example of a moment-ruining action, and quickly distracts himself by picking her up, swinging her into his arms.
She’s so light, so slender, for how… incredible she is. Her power ripples in every command she makes (even the ones he doesn’t listen to), every fight she takes on (especially those she has no chance of winning) and every argument she debates (most especially the ones when she’s arguing with him.) He loves that about her. She’s just like the Falcon. There’s a hell of a lot more to her than meets the eye.
Not like him. He’s damaged goods. What you see is what you get. She’s got to know that by now. Knows that he’ll always be a scoundrel, that he’ll never find the right words to say or do the things the way she wants them done.
But she doesn’t seem to mind. Which is all that matters in that moment.
“What are you thinking about, Han?” she whispers, as he carries her to the room with his small cot, the place he’d slept for years, but never thought of as a bedroom. It’s just a storage room that happens to have a cot. Her hand runs over his stubbly cheek, and then down his neck. “You look lost.”
“I am,” he replies, and wishes he’d come up with something more clever. It’s like she stole all his charm, his witty replies that had always served him so well, the moment she’d kissed him.
She laughs, though, and that makes his fumbling comment worth it. “Great. Our pilot’s lost. Whatever shall we do?”
He lays her down on the cot, and carefully, kneels above her. She’s magnificent like this, her eyes so full of stars. Swiftly, he bends down and kisses her again, treasuring this rare moment. “Guess you’ll have to guide me.”
She takes his hand, then, and pulls him closer. All that's between them now is their clothes, and all those things they're both keeping secret. His fears. Her plans. The fact there's no way the two of them are ever going to make this work. The cot creaks ominosuly, but doesn’t break. “Guide you where?”
Anywhere. Everywhere. All she’d have to do is whisper a direction and he’d fly there himself, on wings made of hope and kisses and all the stupid feelings he’d sworn he’d never feel again. “Dunno.” His lips press against her neck, feeling the beat of her pulse. “Someplace nice.”
“Mm. Somewhere warm?” she stretches out under him, and despite her comment, makes it a little chilly when she tugs off his shirt. THe vest had already been shed, someplace further back in the ship. Hopefully it’s a sign to Chewie that the cot’s occupied right now.
“Warm’s good.” He whispers, and carefully, slides his own hands under her shirt, to touch her skin. It’s softer than any silk he’d ever felt. Not that he was one to buy silk, but he’d had other lovers who’d worn elaborate fabrics, soft like dreams, and just as easy to tear apart. Leia’s made of stronger stuff than that. She might feel like silk, but at her core, she is as tough as the armor off one of those Mandalorian warriors he’d heard stories about. The stuff that can’t be destroyed by fire, or a blaster, or even a lightsaber. Leia's tougher than even that.
He’s pretty sure that when this ends, (and he knows it will, because all good things end, and everything about her is good), she’s not going to be the one crushed into a thousand pieces. She’ll pull herself together, if losing him even rattles her at all, and move on. As sure as the sun rises again, she’ll burn all the brighter for loving and losing.
He knows that’s not what’s gonna happen to him. That he’s gonna be destroyed, that the moments they spent together in that trash compactor were actually a foreshadowing of how destroyed his already battered heart will be after she’s gone.
But he decides to stop thinking about the end, and keep enjoying the beginning. Clothes are shed, and both of them explore each other, with kisses and gentle hands. Their breath mingles in the chilly little room, and their bodies press together. All his thoughts fall away from him, the way even the stars fall away from reality when you hit hyperspace, as she brings him closer, close, closer to her.
She falls asleep first, pillowed on his chest. He watches her sleep, her eyelashes fluttering in a dream that he’ll never know. But that’s all right. He doesn't need to know all the things she's keeping from him, any more than she needs to know all his fears he's doing his best to ignore. They just need each other, tonight, tomorrow, for however long this lasts. Right now, he feels like it could last forever, as long as the galaxy has exist, and asl long as it will continue to do so. How could it be any other way, when they fit together so well?
No, he doesn't need to sleep at all. Because this moment feels more like a dream than anything waiting for him once he closes his eyes.
Because she fell asleep holding his hand.
That small gesture makes it as clear as any navigation chart could. He's not lost. Not anymore. He’s already the one place he had always wanted to fly to, the one place no ship had ever been fast enough to reach. The one place that no crew, no ship, no one but her could ever take him.