— Tantalizing kiss
There was a dark, smudged oval sitting on her borrowed white shirt. Hanging from the lower curve of her breast, like a bug trying not to slide down.
It had been hours since grease-stained fingers had accidentally left their stamp on her, yet Leia was only now noticing it; no jokes or salacious comments had made her aware of it sooner.
The stain, with its far from innocent nature, led her train of thought to the hand that made it, to where it had been, to the subtler, invisible imprints that hand had left on her body—the ghost of their warmth and pressure—to where she wanted that hand to be next, to the realization that she hadn’t really thought of preparing those grounds for what she already expected as a fact. In warm weather, she kept her armpits hairless because it bothered her otherwise and her legs because she couldn’t quite break free from the ridiculous expectations female humans faced in a big part of the galaxy, but she hadn’t taken care of it in a while, not since Hoth or maybe before. No, Ord Mantell , she remembered. It had been hot there, she’d worn a dress. Still, a month.
She opened the mirrored cabinet that hung above the sink and her eyes examined the contents, taking stock. A stick of deodorant. An extra tube of toothpaste. Mouthwash. A box of plasters. Shaving cream. Aftershave lotion. A pot with scissors, a fine-toothed comb and—aha! a razor. There was a small box of blades on the shelf, too. And the scissors would come in handy—she would not shave her genitals, but she would trim. Courtesy. Just in case.
Would he want to…? Stars, I really want him to want to—
There were no condoms in sight. Surely he had a stash of condoms somewhere on his ship? She wasn’t worried about a pregnancy—unless, Goddess forbid, her IUD failed her—but did he have periodical checks? Would she trust him if he said he was clean?
Sure , she thought, but I’d still demand a condom.
They were runaways in the middle of a war, she could take no chances. No chances for babies or STDs. And what if he was a Pull Out Guy? ( Come on baby, I’m clean, I’ll pull out, doesn’t feel as good ) She had never been with one and she never would. Not even Han, if he turned out to be one of those. It was the principle of the thing. In the future, maybe, but not their first time…
Kriff, but what am I even thinking?! Leia closed the cabinet sharply and the mirror reflected back at her the picture of a slightly bewildered, slightly scared woman. She hadn’t slept with anyone in so long, and she wanted him so much …
She didn’t want to pounce him, she just wanted to be prepared.
Shaking her head, she opened the cabinet again and took out the razor and scissors; she’d do it now, during her shower.
Leia walked out of the ‘fresher and covered the distance to her bunk in a few strides. There was a small pile of badly folded clothes sitting over the blankets. Han had been rummaging through the back of his closet in search of more shirts and pants that could fit her. Luckily, it looked like he’d found some: she couldn’t go any longer without washing her tank top, her underwear and leggings, and now his shirt needed a clean-up too. There was no question of going back to her snowsuit.
I had a bag with my things , she thought with regret. It was a backpack of essentials, and it had been taken to what had been supposed to be her transport. It kind of defeated the purpose of having an emergency bag at all, if it was with the rest of her things.
But if I had it now, I wouldn’t get to wear… these?
She held up a pair of old, hopefully clean underpants that looked small enough to fit her without falling down. Then she picked up another yellowish shirt. Blushing, she gave them both a quick sniff to check they were clean—they seemed to be, they were just old, ratty, wrinkled. Han couldn’t have worn them in ten years at least. Leia supposed that having grown up without much made him hold on to this stuff, even if he had no use for it—not until he got stranded with a 5’1’’ woman with nothing but the clothes on her back.
In the ‘fresher, she left her change of clothes on top of the lid of the toilet and stripped off, throwing her dirty get-up on the washer. Her cheeks flared up again as she thought of wearing Han’s underpants, and her brain chided her for it.
Yes, you’re wearing his clothes, you’ll be doing that a lot, you were thinking of having sex with him just moments ago, get over it!
At least he wouldn’t know. She’d go straight to her bunk now, and when she woke up for her shift, her underwear would be clean and dry.
Not that he’d know if she only put on her bra.
Not that he’d complain if she didn’t put on anything at all.
Leia frowned at the light above her bunk. Reaching a hand up, she flicked it off. Then on. Then off again. And on. If Han were in the cabin, he’d ask if she was trying to break his ship apart. Even though he was not lying across from her in the other bunk but in the cockpit, Leia left the switch alone and the light turned off. She might as well try to rest.
After their make-out session in the cargo hold, they had gone and fixed the hatch’s proximity sensor Threepio had mentioned—for the most part, Han had fixed it, she had passed him tools and watched. They had talked about ship maintenance, a neutral ground.
Not forty-eight hours had passed since they’d left Hoth, but they had already settled on a routine marked by cockpit shifts, meals and repair times. Her restless blood fought it every hour. Even a slow day on a rebel base was full of activity, things that couldn’t be predicted, people needing your attention. Being on the Falcon required her to slow down.
She was still mourning the loss of Echo Base, and the lives lost in the battle that she hadn’t even heard about yet. So much time and resources gone into finding the right planet, scouting it, building an operational base in a hostile environment, keeping it secure and supplied; all gone at the snap of Vader’s fingers.
Slowing down meant remembering that and everything she was missing out on by being here, and Leia’s favourite evasion tactic—to keep herself busy at all times—was not feasible right now. Helping with repairs, with stock inventory, with tidying up and cleaning (as far as Han would allow it) did the trick while they lasted, but the rest of it, the watch duty, the stretch of time pretending to sleep on her bunk, they came too soon and filled her with unease.
She had slept the first time she lay down, before Han had woken her up from a nightmare, and then a little more after he’d tricked her brain with some music and the ‘fresher’s light on. She had told him that she had trouble sleeping on starships after the Death Star, and that had been his solution. At the time, Leia had thought it had worked, but she was beginning to suspect she’d just been too exhausted, adrenaline taking its toll on her at last.
There was another way of distracting herself besides work, though. It was funny that thinking about Han used to be one of the subjects she sought distraction from, and now her mind couldn’t help but going there.
It was just a different kind of self-delusion.
The hatch slid open and Leia sat up.
‘Finally,’ she said.
He walked up to the bed, a black silhouette towering over her.
‘You missed me?’ he asked.
What a ridiculous question—yes, of course , Leia thought, reaching out to grab his wrists and pull him down to her. She leaned in and it was Han’s mouth on her, his hair tangling through her fingers, one of his knees pressing between her legs. She tugged him closer, until he was practically lying on top of her, and raised her hips; her body moved sinuously beneath him as she rubbed her sex against his thigh.
She gasped and increased her rhythm, spurred on by the pressure of his hands on her breasts, her hips, her ass. Her building release was reaching a tipping point and she thought she was going to burst.
That was when she woke up, panting, the heel of her hand pressed against her pubic bone, her thighs locking it tightly. Leia lifted her head abruptly and looked around the cabin, but the other two bunks were still empty, the ‘fresher light off. Relieved, she flopped back down, rubbing herself a couple more times to ease the ache before loosening her legs.
It had been so long since the first time Han had showed up in her dreams like that and so frequent his appearances thereafter, that she wasn’t mortified by it anymore. She’d come to just accept it, even relish it. Sometimes she didn’t remember a dream at all; she’d just wake up with her hand between her legs and his name stuck in her throat. She had tried to ignore it at first, yanking her hand away and scrambling to the ‘fresher to aggressively rub her face awake with cold water. It had only made her frustrated and snappish. Then, one day, she had decided to ride the waves of her dream and finish the job, and that had been the right decision. It was hard to look Han in the face for a couple of days after that, but what else was there to be done?
It was different now, though. Somehow, she couldn't touch herself and think of Han while she was in his cabin, in his ship, only meters away from him and two other beings who could barge in at any given moment. There would be nowhere to run and hide.
Leia rolled onto her stomach. The blankets smelled of Han, of course. With a grunt, she got up.
According to the bulkhead chrono, it was the middle of the night in Galactic Standard Time, which didn’t really make much of a difference out here in space other than to help beings maintain a circadian rhythm. She had managed nearly three hours of sleep, which was good enough. When she’d retired to the cabin, Chewie had been manning the cockpit, but by now it should be Han’s turn and Chewie would either be keeping him company or asleep on his hammock in the forward hold. Leia was reasonably sure it would be safe to go out into the main hold for some tea in just Han’s shirt and shorts without running into anyone except possibly Threepio. Then, she’d come back quietly and drink her tea while she tried to connect to the HoloNet again.
With some luck, she’d fall asleep again before her watch began, and her dreams of Han would be forgotten.
Han blinked at the still distant, faintly orange light of Bespin
Rumours had reached him that Lando was doing well for himself, and he’d corroborated that data a while ago with a HoloNet search. Knowing what an old contact was up to could always pay off, get you out of a mess. Hopefully, knowing about Cloud City would pay off this time.
He hadn’t talked to Lando in years. True, he’d been pretty pissed off the last time Han had seen him, but they hadn’t parted as enemies… or at least, he believed they hadn’t. In his line of business, you could never be too sure.
They didn’t have any other choice, anyway, did they? He had no hopes of fixing the hyperdrive without a docking bay, and without it, they would run out of fuel and provisions long before they left Anoat. Maybe they could have reached any other of the handful of habitable planets in the sector, but that would have been a riskier gamble than Lando. Han had heard a great deal of rumours about blood-thirsty, weirdo cults that hid in Matau and Burnin Konn. Better the devil you know...
Another thing that kept nagging at the back of his mind was, he had no idea what state they’d reach Cloud City in—and by “they” he really meant Leia and him, and whatever relationship she had green-lit. When they were together, he didn’t think much of anything. He’d wanted to kiss her for a long time and now she actually wanted to, and that’s what they did—but he was also enjoying this halt in hostilities. Things had been tense between them for a while, even before Hoth. Ord Mantell had been a welcome respite, but afterwards everything had gotten worse. He’d missed the Leia he could joke with, cajole to hear her talk about things that made her smile and tell silly things about his adventures to. The Leia he didn’t resent for being so wrapped up in her rebellion that she forgot people were more than soldiers—although to be fair to her, that’s how she’d been since he’d known her. It was him who had changed, who’d ended up needing more from her and then hated himself for it.
‘[I appreciate the company, cub, but if you’re gonna be pining, it’s not fun],’ Chewie said, breaking the silence and Han’s train of thought.
Han glowered at him. He was not pining .
With a shrug, Chewie added, ‘[I’m just saying, what the hell are you doing here?]’
‘Well, where the hell do you want me to be?’
‘[I think the princess is over there],’ Chewie said smugly, pointing over his shoulder at the corridor outside the cockpit.
‘She’s sleepin’,’ Han told him. ‘And… I dunno, Chewie. I don’t know what I’m doin’.’
‘[That’s nothing new].’ Chewie tittered.
‘At least you’re amused.’ Han ran a hand through his hair and scratched his head forcefully. ‘She’s just—I’m—what if we—Agh! Never mind!’
He got up and headed for the hatch, walking past the powered-down Threepio. ‘’M gonna go check on the, uh, electron buffer stats and get some coffee. Will ya…?’
‘[I already did my time here! If you want to go gallivanting, we should leave the droid to keep watch!]’ Chewie yelled, but Han was already halfway down the corridor and he was too distracted to protest the suggestion of leaving Threepio alone in the cockpit.
Han reached the main hold and lazily checked the engineering station’s indicators. The temporal resistance array could use some re-aligning, he thought. Nothing pressing, but that should be the next thing on his list. They had so much idle time till Bespin, he could probably make all those little tweaks and adjustments he was always postponing because there were more urgent things to fix. Only those he was sure he wouldn’t be compromising their safety for, though: there were no emergency landings possible in the near future.
He knew he had to come back to the cockpit, badger Chewie into getting some sleep, but he still ambled over to the Dejarik table, braced his hands on the surface and leaned in, staring at the tiles under his splayed fingers. His eyes fell on the sleeves of his shirt: it was more grey than white now, covered in soot and grease from his early repairs. With a bit of embarrassment, he remembered he hadn’t changed clothes since leaving Hoth.
So much had happened since then, it was hard to believe it hadn’t been a month instead of two days. Two days ago, he and Leia had been screaming at each other from across an icy corridor. Two days from then, and he and Leia had already made out several times as if nothing had ever been wrong.
Kriff. Even when he wasn't thinking of Leia, he was still thinking of her.
The way she had taken the lead on this… situation they were in, had been surprising. Just another reminder of why he’d always been so irrevocably drawn to her, even when she could rile him so (and vice versa). At the same time, something about it bothered him. She had consented to physical intimacy with him, but that seemed to be all. He could tell she enjoyed kissing him, could tell the looks that meant she was thinking of kissing him again, and she’d never batted his hands away when he’d hold her in those moments. Still, when he’d tried holding her hand or rubbing her shoulders as they were alone in the cockpit, Leia’s reaction had been the same as it always was. She stiffened and subtly moved away after a bit.
Han wasn’t a sappy guy, but that was not how he wanted to do this. They didn’t have to play boyfriend and girlfriend; he just wanted her to be comfortable. To actually want him, to be with him. Not to sleep with him just to get it out of her system, or whatever she had in mind. Was he moving too fast? Too slow? Hadn't she said she wanted to be courted earlier? He would never have thought that the possibility of sleeping with Leia would pose so many questions he had no answers for.
He took his shirt off and threw it down onto the couch, which left him in his white vest. There was a small hole near the hem, but at least it had been spared from the stains. Maybe he could go down to the cabin and find himself a clean shirt before returning to the cockpit, and since he was there, he could check in on Leia. Just in case she’d had another nightmare and hadn’t wanted to bother him.
Han started to walk towards the circuitry bay, a shortcut to the crew quarters. A few steps in, he found himself face to face with Leia as she entered the common area.
Oh, she was killing him. Something about seeing her in his old t-shirts made his mouth dry, his heart race and his stomach do flips. It went beyond how good she looked in them, but that was not a minor fact, either. She was wearing a pair of his discarded boxers as sleep shorts, too, which left her shapely legs uncovered. He conjured up gruesome images to keep his body under control.
‘I just came for some tea. I thought you’d still be in the cockpit,’ she said as in apology, quickly crossing her arms over her chest.
‘I’m supposed to be.’ With a tilt of his chin at her, he asked, ‘Nightmare woke you up?’
For some reason, her cheeks turned fiery red. ‘Um, it was a dream, yes.’
Leia hated feeling and looking vulnerable, he knew. She avoided sleeping in ships in case she had nightmares and someone saw, and he’d already woken her up from one, seen the terrified, confused look on her face. She was embarrassed that he’d caught her again. He wished she knew she could trust him.
‘I can go if you want to be alone,’ he told her, his voice low. ‘Or I can stay for a bit.’
Leia bit her lip, clearly torn.
‘I wouldn’t want Chewie to get mad at me,’ she ventured.
Han snorted. ‘That furball could never be mad at you, sweet—Leia,’ he corrected quickly.
Her lips turned up slightly in a smile at the concession, meeting his eyes briefly.
Her words could either imply that she wanted him to stay or that she was looking for an excuse for him to leave. Maybe if he sat down, that would settle things, but he was rooted to the spot as much as she was. He didn’t want to assume: if she wanted him to stay, she had to say it. Or show it. If she wanted to take the lead, then let her take the lead.
‘Do you wanna talk about it?’ he asked. ‘Your nightmare?’
As much as she tried to keep a tight rein on her face, Han could see through her tells, like the small crease between her eyebrows that meant she would have cringed. Badly.
‘It—um, it wasn’t a scary dream that woke me up,’ Leia said quietly.
Her blush, the way her eyes avoided his, her crossed arms and legs, a not scary dream waking her up... The pieces fell into place in his brain, and Han thought he was going to pass out unless he gave himself ten minutes alone in the ‘fresher.
‘Huh,’ he said, staring at her forehead. ‘Do you, uh, have those… non-scary dreams that wake you up often?’
‘Often enough,’ she said, glancing at him, before changing the subject. ‘What were you doing back here?’
‘Came to check on a few things.’ Tentatively, he reached out and brushed the back of a finger against her cheek. ‘Includin’ a princess.’
Leia looked startled. ‘You were going to check on me?’
‘Yeah. And get a clean shirt.’ He pointed a finger over his shoulder to the discarded garment on the couch, and didn’t miss the way her eyes lingered on the muscles of his shoulders—not for the first time, either. ‘It was a mess, after all the dirty work.’
‘Mine too. Your fault,’ she accused, looking at him from under her raised eyebrows and smirking a little.
Han crossed his arms over his puffed out chest. He’d noticed earlier that his fingerprints had been all over her, but he didn’t think they had reached a point where he could be openly smug about it—not yet. Now, though...
‘Oh, really? How so?’
‘You know fully well how it happened.’
Leaning in and tilting his head, he said, ‘Sorry. Won’t happen again... if you don’t want to.’
‘That’s not what I said,’ Leia said quietly, uncrossing her arms and looking him in the eye.
He’d sworn he was going to wait for her to take the lead, but that cue was good enough for him. His hands slid around her waist, feeling the warmth of her skin seeping through her shirt, and she took a step closer. Her eyes fell to his lips, and her arms were outstretched halfway to wrap around his neck when they heard heavy footsteps down the corridor from the cockpit and Chewie’s annoyed growls.
‘Wanna bail?’ Han asked urgently, and Leia nodded. He didn’t have a plan: he just knew the moment felt too charged, too promising to let themselves be interrupted yet again. His friend would have to forgive him later. Wrapping his arms tightly around her waist, he lifted Leia up and carried her to the forward hold, their closest escape. Pressing her against the bulkhead, he slammed the controls to shut and lock the hatch, and they both held their breaths as the Wookiee outside whined and cursed at the smuggler.
The footsteps faded away and Leia was suddenly aware of nearly every centim of her body pressing against his. Legs, pelvis, stomach, chest. Countless times during missions, they had huddled together, pressed their bodies close to avoid detection, to protect the other from blaster bolts; he had carried her in his arms more times than she would have allowed him to. He had thrown himself over her as they ran away through the frozen corridors of Hoth, to protect her from a cave in, taking a battering of solid snow meant for her. The life or death quality of those situations meant she’d never had the time to think about it in the moment; it was only later that she would remember the warmth, the rhythm of his heart, the sounds of his breathing. Now she had time, and she allowed the thoughts.
It seemed he was allowing it, too. Their identical looks of mischief, like teenagers sneaking away from a pesky guardian, soon morphed into an intense gravity. Both of them unwilling to break the moment, they let the air between them charge with electricity as they stared at each other in silence. The receptors on Leia’s skin took stock of her invader and reported back to her brain.
Thighs: Pressed against own knees. Covered. Warm. Ungiving.
Hips: Pressed against own thighs. Sharp.
Abdomen: Pressed against own pelvis. Hot. Firm yet tender.
Chest: Pressed against own breasts. Warm. Soft hair sneaking in through a gap in our defensive lines.
Shoulders: Clutched between own arms. Solid.
Arms: Uncovered. Everywhere. But actually acting as support under own butt. Strong.
Overall assessment: 10/10 warm. 10/10 strong. 10/10 tall.
Memory retrieved: Weight of intruder's body on top of own. He could crush you.
Memory retrieved: Dirty dream of 0235. You would enjoy it.
‘You have your work face on,’ Han said in a whisper, and Leia realized she had been frowning a little in concentration. She must have looked insane.
‘Maybe I'm doing work on you,’ she tried.
‘What kind of work?’
Han laughed. He'd probably been doing the same.
‘What's the verdict?’
‘Satisfactory. We might set up camp here. Yours?’
He didn’t answer, swallowing hard as they continued to stare at each other. Her legs were getting tired from dangling down awkwardly, so she started wiggling, trying to wrap them around his waist. Misunderstanding her intention, he set her down on her feet. She slid down gracelessly, but the action rubbed their bodies together like match against sandpaper.
Pelvis update: Against own stomach. Hard.
‘I see,’ Leia said, still whispering, to her unanswered question.
‘Sorry.’ Han began to push himself away, but she reached out for his waist and pulled him closer.
He looked at her hands and the point of contact between their bodies. She felt self-conscious, ineffectually pushing closed the door to the closet of her mind where she’d stuffed her most recent dream into. She wondered if he thought she’d never been with anyone else, crazed with lust as she was coming off as. He was calm and collected in comparison. She hated him for it. She needed to rattle him as much as he was rattling her.
‘It was about you. The dream,’ she said.
‘I know it was. Was written all over your face. I’m not that dense.’
‘Sometimes you are. Smartass,’ she added crossly under her breath, looking away. Was he not going to let her have the upperhand in this?
‘You’re embarrassed now ?’ Han shook his head. ‘Don’t be. Leia.’
He cradled her face in one hand, the other resting at her waist, and brought his face closer. She thought he was going to kiss her at last. Now that they had discovered the easiest, most effective way of breaking the tension between them, even if temporarily, it seemed a waste of resources not to do it. Instead, his breath tickled her ear.
‘I dream about you, too.’
‘Good,’ she breathed out and, at last, she closed the space between them as she turned her head and captured his lips.
It seemed he’d only been waiting for her. He tilted her head back and deepened the kiss, his mouth moving slowly but lusciously with hers. His lips and his hands on her, his hips against her, they were not a tantalizing dream anymore but a reality. And she was—
‘—not wearin’ underwear,’ he groaned, breaking apart an inch. His hands roamed across her body with purpose. ‘Are you?’
Leia shook her head. ‘I had to wash it. I didn’t count on running into anyone.’
‘You sure about that?’
His eyes seemed to search inside of hers, as if trying to pierce through to her mind. Leia swallowed. It was true: she had been mortified at the thought of running into Han in her current state. But what was there to lose?
‘If you want to get your tea and go back to bed, then...’ he began, looking earnestly at her. ‘Maybe you should go now. ‘S kinda uncomfortable here.’
‘I won’t be able to fall asleep.’
His nostrils flared as he took a breath, rubbing a hand over the scar of his chin. She realized now that he was feeling the same as she was, trying hard to control himself but bursting at the seams. After all his insinuations and advances, now that he had the all clear he just wanted to make sure that… what? That she was serious about this, that they weren’t going too fast for her. He was letting her set the pace. That was nice, if unexpected. Really nice.
‘Let me get rid of Chewie,’ Han said, ‘an’ then you can come with me. If that’s what you want.’
Slowly, she nodded. ‘I’d like that.’
He squeezed her arm and shot her a lopsided grin as he pulled away from her, an unspoken promise that filled her with anticipation. Her insomnia might pay off this time around, after all.