There’s a fresher in the apartment on Bespin.
There is.. A fresher… on Bespin. That’s basically the speed of Han’s thoughts right now, each word lasting a million years in his mind. A fresher. A real one, with nozzles and soap and hot water, which is apparently scented, if the flowery-smelling-mist emanating from the only mostly closed door is any indication.
(Mostly closed door is another phrase that is currently threatening to break his brain.)
But really, it’s the fresher he’s focusing on. Of course there’s at least one on this fancy little floating city Lando’s gone off and won. Of course it’s got fancy water and fancy soap (which he didn’t recognize as soap, given that it’s shaped into little seashells), fancy flowers in a vase and fancy.. Nozzle-things. This whole apartment is chock full of fancy shit, from the bed with its gaberwool coverlet and real wohsi-bird feather pillows, to the fully stocked bar (and serious, damn Lando for not only selecting a good year of Corellian whiskey, but somehow also finding a bottle of Alderaanian starblossom wine. The last thing they need is to get drunk tonight.)
Because despite all the fancy stuff, despite the cloudy mists of perfume emanating from the fresher, despite the fact that means Leia is less than ten feet from him and also most likely naked, Han still has a bit of a bad feeling about Cloud City.
Something just isn’t right.
But then, the fresher door opens, and Han realizes he’s a fool. Because everything is all right. Because every star in every sky right now is dulled by the warmth of Leia’s smile as she walks toward him.
She’s… she’s just wrapped in a towel (a fancy towel, his mind helpfully adds) and her hair is...down.
Down’s a too simple word.
Down is a direction, a way to fall, a crash landing.
Leia’s hair is a cascade, a gift, a secret he’s just unlocked.
“Something wrong?” she asks, her hand reaching up to cup his cheek. Her fingertips are always so gentle, so soft. He’s aware he hasn’t shaved yet, that his jawline is scruffy, his own hands callused and scarred. Not for the first time he thinks that he’s too damaged for her. That he has so little to offer her.
My hands are dirty too, he’d said, like an idiot. All of his lines had been so stupid, so pointless. And he’d kissed her, and it had been clumsy and foolish and he’s amazed that she didn’t just slap him and kick him off his own ship (which, frankly, he might have deserved. At least a little. Maybe.)
What he’d meant to say was my hands are dirty too. For once, you and me? We’re equals. Right here, in this one moment, we’re not a princess and a no-good orphan without a name. We’re not a commander and a reluctant rebel who won’t sign on to your idiotic, although admittedly noble cause. We’re not a team of fools trying to do the impossible, like get off a damn Death Star. We’re just… us. Han. Leia. Us.
It had been saying her name that had undone him so thoroughly. He’d said it casually, that he’s sure of (although his brain suggests that make he was so nonchalant about it his terror at the moment going wrong was already evident) but it had meant everything. Because she hadn’t corrected him. Hadn’t reminded him of the impossible distance between them, a space so vast even a ship as fast as the Falcon couldn’t reach the other side of. It had been easier to call her worshipfulness and majesticness and anything but…
But having her correct him. Having her crush him beneath one of those impossible white boots she wears, leaving him flat in the very dirt he came from. Because he’s the moral equivalent of a bag of mud, compared to Leia and her ideals.
My hands are dirty, she’d said. Like it was a surprise. Like in her life, the only time people touched were when they were spotlessly clean. Like dirty was a rare occurrence and not a fact of life. Because of course it is rare for her. She’s a princess, even without a planet. She’s used to the best things. Hell, she probably grew up with three freshers and a basket of seashell-shaped soap in her bedroom.
And he’s not the best she can do by far.
“Han,” she says again. “What are you thinking?”
“No,” he says. “Nothing now.”
She laughs, but it is soft and gentle and warm. It’s then that he realizes he made no sense, again. But how’s he supposed to make sense when Leia is right in front of him, smiling, her hair down, brushing over her creamy shoulders, cloaking and revealing her body with every breath? How’s he ever going to make sense again when he gets to call her Leia and kiss her, and fall asleep with her in his arms?
It’s not just motor oil staining his hands. He knows that. Knows he’s done terrible things, ill-advised things, stupid things. Han’s hands are dirty, but when Leia reaches for them, squeezes gently, looks up at him with that perfect smile… he thinks, maybe, one day, his hands will be clean.
Does she know that? If she’s comfortable enough to let his hair down around him, he should… he should tell her. Tell her she means more than every fine thing he’s ever dreamed of. Tell her she’s as beautiful now as she was standing in front of them the day she gave them the medals, glittering white and drenched with all the power of her station. Tell her…
“Your hair smells like soap,” Han blurts out. Winces. Adds. “Nice soap, I mean. The fancy kind. Like flowers.” Damn it, he doesn’t even know the name of any flowers, none that are fancy enough to put in a vase, none that they’d make a soap out of. He knows about weeds that push up through the cracks, the ones that blossom with small scrubby purple petals. He knows the spice-lords favorite flowers, the ones they grind up, smashing orange-red blossoms into a powder to stretch out the drug. He knows poisonous flowers bounty hunters have tried to kill him with. None of them, he thinks, are worthy of Leia. “Good flowers,” he adds.
The, Leia leans up on tip-toes, her kiss silencing any more of his stammering. “Maybe tomorrow,” she says, “we’ll shower together, and you can smell like flowers too.”
And Han, admittedly with a bit of a blush, has to admit that doesn’t sound like the worst thing. Not at all. Although the odds of telling her that are slim to none, so he just says, “your hair is really, really, long, Leia.”
She laughs once more. Turns out he didn’t need that wine, or even the Corellian whiskey tonight. He’s completely drunk on the sound of her joy. Leia says, “I know.”
Those two (plain, simple, not fancy at all) words, turn out to mean more than any other.