"You know, I didn't really believe in the Force. Bunch of mystic mumbo-jumbo. Now, a blaster? Good, solid. Reliable. That, a good ship, and a little bit of luck will take you far. Sometimes too far. Sometimes you'll end up right back where you started." The thing about Han Solo was that when he got to talking, he would not shut up. Kylo had forgotten this. He was being forcibly reminded. "But your Uncle Luke, he was always a good kid, and you were so troubled. Even if I didn't believe in the Force, we thought he could help—more than I could, at least. Never knew what to do with you, besides love you." Solo's expression was entirely too earnest as he said, "We really did love you, Ben."
"That is not," Kylo said, despite all his promises to himself that he wouldn't respond, "my name."
"Fine, sure, it's not your name anymore." Solo's easy agreement was grating. "But it's who you are, that kid who had nightmares, who felt too much, but who wanted to do the right thing. You can still do the right thing, son."
"I am doing the right thing," Kylo said.
Solo looked disappointed in him. Good. Kylo was a disappointment, maybe, but Solo had been a disappointment first.
"If you believed that, then you would've blocked me out already."
Kylo closed his eyes, centered himself, and grabbed a handful of the ever-present and ever-ready rage waiting just beneath that surface calm. He channeled the Dark Side, aimed it at Solo, and slashed his hand across the air. Solo's wavering image vanished.
"Still love you, kid," Solo's voice said softly before it, too, disappeared.
"Nah, I haven't run into him yet," Han said. "I'm sure he's around here somewhere."
Leia couldn't pat Han's face like she wanted to, so she settled for stroking the air over it. "Well, if you do see Luke, tell him his sister would like another visit. Apparently being dead isn't an excuse these days."
"I will," Han said with unusual solemnity.
"In the meantime—"
"In the meantime, I'm going to annoy our son back into the Light," Han said with restored good cheer.
"That's not how it works," Leia said.
"Has anyone tried?"
Leia laughed, some of the weight on her shoulders briefly lifted. "I've missed you."
"I expect you'll get sick of me soon enough." Han winked.
"Never," Leia said fiercely. "Come visit whenever you'd like."
"Good to see the old girl's still running," came a voice from behind her, and Rey had the lightsaber lit and turned to face it before recognition fully sank in. Han put his hands up. "Hey, no need for that. I come in peace. And to make sure my ship's okay." He looked pleased. "She seems to be in good hands."
"I saw you die," Rey said. She didn't lower the lightsaber.
"Lot of that going around." Han leaned against the wall. He cast no shadow. "It only took partway."
"I've read about this." Rey cocked her head. "You're either an echo in the Force or an imprinted consciousness."
"Books. What can books teach you?"
"That you can't tangibly affect this world, but that you are real." Rey extinguished the blade. "And that you probably mean no harm."
"I don't. I came to ask a favor, actually, in addition to checking on my ship." Han patted the wall beside him. "The Falcon can be rebuilt, but people are a lot harder. I want you to look after Chewie for me."
"I'll try," Rey offered.
"Oh, and if you see Luke, tell him Leia's getting impatient for that visit." Han waved cheerfully. "See you around."
"Luke?" Rey asked, but Han had already gone.
A grey, bearded figure stuck his head around the corner. Rey blinked at it, lightsaber up and activated again. The figure blinked back. He waved his hand. "You saw nothing."
"Have you been on this ship the whole time?"
"Damn, I knew that would stop working eventually. Okay, we've covered mental defenses and shrugging off mental suggestion. I guess next we should work on lightsaber form. Yours is terrible."
"Psst," said a dead man. "Hey, you, can you hear me?"
"Yes," Finn said, nonplussed. "You're standing right in front of me."
"Oh, good, that actually worked," said Han Solo's ghost. Standing there. In front of him. "So I heard you used a lightsaber once."
"Yes," Finn said again. He wondered if he was having an allergic reaction to the bacta after that last injury.
"But you didn't join Rey on her training trip to see Luke."
"I'm not a Jedi," Finn said. Weirdly, Han looked happy at this response.
"Yes, exactly. You're not a Jedi." Han rubbed his hands together. "Why should Luke get to have all the fun of training a protege from the afterlife? You and me, kid, we're going to go far."
Finn didn't need training. On the other hand, who was he to turn down a no-longer-living legend? "Fine. What've you got for me?"
"Let's start off with the art of the con. I heard about your little adventure on a casino planet, and trust me, it could've gone much worse. You've got promise. Let's polish it up a bit."
Finn wondered if he was going to regret this. He shrugged. It wasn't the weirdest thing he'd done lately.
"So this is awkward," Luke said, standing over Kylo's bed where he'd been hovering, waiting to spook the kid a little. Last time, he'd shrieked. Luke thought he could maybe do better.
"Do you do this every time he sleeps?" Han asked.
"Not every time," Luke said. "Then it would stop being a surprise. The trick is to do it just enough that he's on edge every time he tries to sleep."
Kylo stirred, and they both froze. His breathing evened out again. Still asleep. Good.
Han looked considering. His voice was low as he said, "We can catch up later."
"Mm," Luke agreed.
"I'll take the right, you take the left?"
Kylo's shout of terror was truly something to behold. So was the tantrum he threw afterward.
"We were just being considerate of your beauty sleep!" Han said.
"I will find a way to resurrect you, and then I will kill you again!" Kylo said.
"Same time next week?" Luke said. No need to tell the kid he'd be three days early.
"Oh, before I forget." Han turned to Luke, unflinching despite the lightsaber slicing through his incorporeal form. "Leia wants to see you."
"We'll do lunch, all three of us," Luke said. Kylo was going an interesting shade of red as they ignored him, almost as bright as his saber. "Or she'll have lunch, and we can entertain her."
"Sounds good to me." Han looked at Kylo. "Keep it up, and your face is going to stick that way."
"I hate you," Kylo said.
Han smiled. It broke Luke's heart. "I know." He turned back to Luke. "So—tomorrow sound good to you?"
"Tomorrow sounds great."
The first thing Han saw was his son's angry face.
"I told you," said son intoned in a terribly dramatic voice, "that I would bring you back to life so that I could kill you yet again."
Han tried to stretch, but his muscles weren't really responding. This was worse than the carbonite. They were in a damp and gloomy cave. Evidence of some sort of Dark Side ritual lay about them. Several bodies in First Order get-up were strewn about the cave floor.
"I told you," his son insisted.
He was crying. His eyes were red. Dark lines of power stretched across his face. He looked like he'd had a rough few months.
"Hey, kid." Han's voice was a painful rasp in the back of his throat.
"I hate you," his son said. "I hate you. Why did you have to come back, but she—"
Han wished things were different, but Leia, apparently, had been ready to move on. Ben cried like a grieving orphan. Eventually, Han was able to sit up, to drop a hand in his hair.
"I miss her, too," Han said.
"I'd do anything to bring her back," Ben said, and it was Ben, despite the lines of black, despite the murder, despite the miasma of Dark power wafting off him. "Anything."
Han held his son as he wept.
When they came out of the cave, there was a figure standing in a white dress Han still dreamed about sometimes. Leia's smile was effervescent. "There. Was that so hard?"