Leia scurries up the ramp with a spring in her step. Without knocking or yelling to alert the occupants to her presence, she pauses to hammer the access code into the door of the Falcon and taps her foot intermittently as the thick piece of metal slowly creaks open.
It's mid afternoon and soon the sun will set - the yellow glare glances from the walls of the ship in thin rays and momentarily blinds the princess. Rubbing her eyes, she ducks into the passageway and skids along (her old worn combat boots have no grip left on the soles) - stopping herself just in time before she falls into the large chasm that has manifested in the floor. Clearly an open smuggling compartment, the princess edges towards the gap to see the shadowy outline of Han Solo, wearing a dirty and damp once-white tee shirt, unstacking crates and boxes that have been haphazardly piled into an uneven column. He must've heard her footsteps, because before she can say a word, he turns to her, and his face splits into a wide grin. There is a large smudge of engine oil on his cheek. It is rather endearing.
He's been gone five weeks - a mission to a few backwater planets in the outer rim with his wookiee co-pilot to 'obtain' (read; steal in the dead of night) some ancient scrolls, modern blueprints, and to procure an arrangement to source more regular food for the alliance soldiers. According to the workers in communications, the trip went according to plan. She's missed him, even if she knows it's foolish. She has a galaxy to rebuild, she can't lounge around and mope for a standard month while she waits for him to return from his adventures. She would've gone with them, but typically the powers that be decided it was too 'high risk'. Besides, she has a rebellion to run.
The look of excitement on Han's face is intriguing. He uses his forearms to haul himself from the compartment and quickly wraps his arms around her; withdrawing to see oil stains covering her white tunic. "Sorry," He murmurs, sheepishly, moving in to hug her again. They stay stood in silence for a while, but then he breaks the embrace and smiles. "Apologies for the dirt, Princess, but I've been pretty busy with the rampant thievery, and the 'fresher's busted." He wrinkled his nose. "Chewie's worse. I've smelled nicer congealing tauntaun guts."
He kisses her as she's smiling. She's told the people that asked what she was doing in the docking bay she was inquiring on the result of their mission, but that is not what is on her mind right know. Han can distract her from anything, she decides. She wonders if his roving hands are spreading the dirt into her hair (tightly braided, as always) but dismisses this thought immediately. He pulls back and again flashes that uneven smile.
"Where is Chewie?"
"Gone to shower at the base, thank the maker. About time, I was considering the advantages of taking a blaster to my nose."
They chuckle for a few moments, and then Han puts his hands on her shoulders.
"How did the mission go?"
"Oh! Great. Great, perfect. We did- what- three, four raids? Pulled 'em off. No one was any the wiser- but we got our mitts on some cool stuff -
I've got ya something." He turns towards the cargo hold. Before she can even say, politely; "Oh, you really shouldn't have," (it's part of the princess and the senator lessons) Han keeps talking.
"Nothin' big- well, actually- nah, I'll let it be a surprise. It's odd, the kinda weird-ass druk ya can find at markets, you know?"
Concerned as to what this mystery gift will be (with Han it could be anything from a dozen bottles of whisky, a piece of jewellery or Class A drugs for them to hawk to get cash for the Alliance) she follows in his wake, stopping when they reach the hold. There, surrounded by parcels, a large wooden crate, and many sheets of paper, is Luke, lazily holding a blueprint, dragging his fingers through his shaggy blonde hair as he focuses on the cross-section on it.
Simultaneously, Luke looks up and yells: "Leia!" And Leia says: "My present is Luke?" The Jedi frowns.
"That's a friendly hello, little sister. Jeez, ya think you know a gal..." It's Han's turn to pull a face. He points a finger to Luke and says:
"Hold up, Lukie - let me get this straight. In the last two months, you've figured out:
He points at Leia-
"frenched your twin brother,"
The princess scowls.
"B), Your dad is Darth Asthma,"
Luke glares at him, and begins to mutter furiously about his father being Anakin Skywalker, a very brave Jedi knight, who unfortunately felt the pull of the dark side, but before he can get anymore frustrated, Han is talking again.
"And C), you somehow know that her Highnessness is the younger twin?"
Luke grunted. "I can just... feel it, ya know?"
Han laughs. "What a loada bantha shi-"
He receives a glare from Leia, and shuts up.
"Anyway," Says Luke, as the blueprint recoils back into a tight scroll. "I better be goin' - Wedge and Janson commed me earlier, I haven't seen 'em lately. Hobbie, too..." He jumps up, pockets the paper and saunters away. "See ya later, lovebirds! And Han-"
The smuggler, who is undoing the catches on one of the crates, looks up.
"Watch out. It kriffing bites, this one." He gestures towards his (real) hand, which has two puncture wounds and a small blood stain. He waves to the duo and leaves, his footsteps echoing on the cold metal. Leia hears him swear loudly as he almost falls into the gaping hole in the floor.
"So- what bites?" She grins. Han refrains from the innuendo opportunity, as he's too busy finishing taking the lid off the crate.
"It's kinda dumb, I know... We're barely an item, but I saw it and I just thought that-"
It's not a usual characteristic of Han to blather, but he's obviously quite nervous. He gently puts his hands into the crate and pulls out a small, pink pittin with incredibly long and dense fur. It's paws are abnormally large, and it's ears are unusually pointy; it's a caricature of what constitutes a pure-bred pittin, but to any cat-lover, it's completely irresistible. It makes a small mewling noise and struggles a little as Han reaches around it's abdomen to support the feline more easily.
Leia bursts into tears.
Han (positively stricken) jogs over to her, still holding the candy-pink cat. "What's up!? Are you allergic, or something? It's a dumb idea, I'm sorry-"
She shakes her head, wiping the tears away that have gathered in the corners of her eyes. "It's nothing." She carefully takes the pittin and holds it up. "She's beautiful. My aunt Tia had one just like her on Alderaan."
Solo is not quite sure how to address the your-planet-was-destroyed-and-your-entire-family-is-dead issue, so instead he just wraps an arm around her and laughs. "I think he's a guy, Princess."
She laughs too, and scratches the pitten under the chin. "Don't worry, I'm not allergic. I used to play with AT-AV all the time..." She looks wistful, but less sad.
"Oh... My aunt had a lot of pittins, and I named one. She was pink, like this little one. I called her AT-AV -"
Again, she laughs. Han feels a lot better. He'd actually stolen the pittin from a market-stall owner who had majorly overcharged him for some tools, and would've taken a lot more if he hadn't returned so fast. He hadn't realised he'd stolen a pittin, either - he'd grabbed the nearest crate and ran like hell.
He considers this, and looks back to her.
"AT-AV? Why in the seven hells would you name a pittin AT-AV?"
"All-Terrain-Attack-Vehicle. What can I say? I would've made an excellent farm boy."
Han just laughs again. "Suits him." He hands over the the pitten. "AT-AV2? A bit droid-ish for my liking... But I guess I can call him Terry for short."
All Terrain Attack Vehicle the Second purrs and rubs his head against Leia.
"How are we going to look after a pittin? You can't even look after yourself!"
It's the princess who breaks the smuggler from his stupor. Han is about to protest, but then he recalls his greying shirt, cut and calloused hands and the fact he smells like a bantha's ass thanks to the defective refresher.
"We've clawed our way out of worse situations."
"If that was some kind of pun, you really don't deserve any of the medals we've given you."
I had a friend who bought a pittin, even though he was allergic. It was a rash decision."
"Aw, I'm sorry. It's difficult to know where to draw feline when it comes to cat puns."
Leia, trying not to give Han the satisfaction of knowing he's made her laugh, sets AT-AV2 down on the floor, where his big amber eyes widen at the sight of some loose wiring. Batting it playfully with his paw, the pittin slowly ambles away, chasing things invisible to the two humans, specks of dust dancing around his head. He snaps his jaws at them, and jumps onto a large expensive-looking sheet of paper, where he tucks his tail underneath him and shuts his eyes.
There is a long moment as the two watch AT-AV2 fall asleep. It seems odd: poignant and nostalgic somehow, but the moment is soon interrupted with a question that Han has not prepared an answer for.
"How many credits was he, Solo?