Chapter 1: Fast Car
You got a fast car
I want a ticket to anywhere
Maybe we make a deal
Maybe together we can get somewhere
Anyplace is better
Starting from zero got nothing to lose
Maybe we'll make something
Me, myself I got nothing to prove
--Fast Car, Tracy Chapman
Chalmun’s was hopping, just after eleven on a Friday night. No school the next day for all the kids with fake ID, late enough that even people who didn’t pre-drink were starting to feel the buzz. Han pulled into the alley around the back and, after a quick scan around for anyone who looked like they might work for Jabba, hopped out of his cab.
“You stay put,” he told Chewie. The dog groaned miserably and flopped dramatically against the door, looking up at him with mournful, liquid brown eyes. “Yeah, I’ll see if Mena has anything for you.” The dog was always hungry. “Just stay in the car.”
The kitchen was little more than a tiled hallway lined with grills and fryers. Greasy steam from stock pots and frying snacks made the air so thick Han couldn’t see the exit at either end once he was in the middle. He dodged a tiny, dark-skinned kid carrying a bus tray that must have weighed as much as he did only to have to dance out of the way of a wide-hipped cook as she spun around with a basket full of seething fried potatoes fresh out of the oil.
“Christ, you’d think I’d get hazard pay for this shit.” Han plunged on until he popped out behind the bar at the far end. It was no cooler here and the air was just as thick, only with the residue of the theatrical smoke machines, layered colognes, and cigarettes. “Mena!”
“Han!” Mena slid a tray of luminous liqueur shots across to a frazzled waitress before spinning around to greet him with a grin. “No one’s killed you yet, how lovely.” She wrapped him up in a warm embrace, almost burying him in her bouffant blonde hairdo, and murmured, “This city is going to shit,” in his ear.
“Well,” Han had to admit, once he’d extracted himself from her bosom and her bouffant, “they don’t do a shakedown like they used to. Seen Greedo lately?”
“Threw him out once already.” Mena took the slim packet Han slipped out of his vest pocket. “For groping the girls. Not because I like you.”
“I’m the only person who’ll still run that stuff for you,” Han pointed out as she tucked the packet away under the bar. No one else had the time to run black market pharmaceuticals that wouldn’t get you high, not even for a good cause. “So you don’t have to like me, you just have to make sure no one kills me. And pay me, that part’s important.”
“You’ll have to come back for it. I just paid Jabba, unlike some people I could mention.” Mena snorted with impatience, grabbing glasses out of the hands of a hapless bartender. “For the love of—just get the beer in the glass. Nothing else matters. People want to get drunk, boy, not taste it.” She filled six pints in a row with ruthless efficiency. Seven, once Han filched one for his troubles. Not tasting it was the wise choice.
Han leaned back against the counter behind him, took in the sea of writhing bodies and bobbing heads, the shimmer of lights, the pinpoint flare of an occasional cigarette in the shadows. He couldn’t remember a time when he had that much energy to waste on just…dancing. He’d been working since he got out of short pants, running schemes, scams, and anything anyone would pay for under the counter. Driving a cab just made all that easier. Always on the move, never stopping anywhere too long. It suited him.
“What can I get you, honey?” Mena asked someone, and the almost maternal note in her voice drew Han’s attention back to the bar.
“I…” The kid at the bar paused as though he hadn’t anticipated being asked that question, for all that he’d worked his way through the crowd to get here. He didn’t look old enough to be out this late, much less out at a bar. “I guess a beer?”
“Trust me, kid.” Han drained his glass, then set it down on the counter with a thump. “You don’t want the beer in this place.”
“Sure I do!”
The kid reminded Han a bit of when he got Chewie—all puppy, with the soft, fluffy golden hair and the big eyes. Stubborn, too, like the dog. But that was where the comparison ended. The kid was just this side of pretty, with eyeliner making those big eyes look bigger and a pout that was all drama. Fit, under the thin black mesh T-shirt that showed off a labourer’s muscular arms. So, from one of the farms outside of town. Here to get drunk, get laid, to do anything but haul another bale of hay or shovel another pile of shit.
“No, you don’t.” Han grabbed another glass and scooped some ice into it. Bartending was just one of his many talents. “The beer here is terrible. You want something that will get you drunk as quickly and efficiently as possible and you don’t want to look like an idiot drinking it. And, from the look of you, that’s going to be a hard sell.”
The pout deepened and the kid crossed his arms over his chest. “I know what I want.”
“Kid, you’re too young to know what you want.” Han went through the motions of throwing five different types of booze into the glass with some syrup and lemon juice, then added enough cola to fill it up. “This is what you want. Trust me.”
“Why?” The kid took the glass anyway, then offered Han a bill that Han took, only to tuck back down the neck of that ridiculous mesh shirt.
“Because I have a trustworthy face. And put some clothes on next time, you’re selling it too hard.” Han winked at him. The kid’s face went bright pink right to the ears as he turned away, trying to fish the money out of his shirt with one hand while holding his drink in the other.
“He’s not going to be able to stand up in five minutes,” Mena muttered. “You’re a terrible person, Han.”
“Just make sure he gets home.” Han laughed at her sour expression. “Call him a cab. You know I’ll be back anyway for my money, anyway.”
“How is it that a bandit like you is the only trustworthy man in this city?” Mena flicked a bar towel at Han, shooing him toward the exit. “Get your poor dog a burger on the way out before I call PETA on your ass.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Han held his hands up, surrendering. “As you say.”
Chewie was singing a mournful little dog song to himself—"Waooo, waooo!"—when Han came out with his burger.
“You keep that up, you’re going to get taken to the pound,” Han warned him. “People think I neglect you.”
“I do not.” Han started up his old Falcon—she coughed miserably but the engine finally turned over—and double-checked he wasn’t being followed before heading out. “Eat your damn burger. Drama queen.”
Luke was so old enough to know what he wanted. And, about five minutes after he finished his drink, he knew that being drunk was not it. The world blurred slightly and he lost the focus he had sometimes, the one that didn’t require his eyes to use. That was not at all pleasant.
Maybe if you were the kind of person who wanted to forget who he was, it was a good thing. It made dancing—or not caring about dancing—better. Easier. But it also made it harder to keep an eye out for things like whose hands were going where and whether or not they were going to take your wallet or feel you up.
Front pocket is where your money belongs, Uncle Owen always said, and Luke—for once—was taking his advice. Besides, Aunt Beru would add, it’s bad luck to put money behind you. Of course.
It’ll wear off, he told himself. Just keep moving. In the meantime, he kept dancing. He didn’t know if he was any good at it but it felt good, especially when there were other people nearby to dance with. There was something about the strawberry-scented fog and the flicker of the pink and blue lights that was as good as—better than—the feeling of being drunk.
Next time he slipped up to the bar, avoiding the blonde lady who’d been with the man who served his drink, he ordered a Coke. It was icy and thin and sweet and woke him up a little. That was better. He was starting to feel more like himself.
“Cigarette?” A lanky man with loose green hair offered him one.
“Uh, sure.” The guy was handsome enough but there was something hard around his eyes. Smoking was something Luke did know how to do, even though he’d thrown up when he’d tried it the first time. Then again, he’d been seven. Owen and Beru kept a dry house but sometimes Uncle Owen snuck a cigarette out behind the barn and Aunt Beru pretended she didn’t notice.
Funny how, even when he was dancing with the cigarette guy, he kept thinking about his family. Luke didn’t want to think about them at all, wanted to forget them. They didn’t understand him and they wouldn’t let him go. He’d had to watch Biggs leave for West Point and there was no following him there.
“It’s not the place for you,” Owen had told him sternly. Certainly. As though he had any idea who Luke really was.
“I’ll just go to the recruiting office then,” Luke had snapped back. “Since you think I’m not good enough for a place that would take my best friend.”
“Luke,” Beru had said, trying to smooth things over. “We’re just worried about you. We want you to find a place you belong. And Owen is right. It’s not there. You wouldn’t be all right there.”
“I’m not going to be a farmer all my life,” he’d shouted. “If you wanted a farmhand maybe you should have hired one instead of adopting me!” And then he’d slammed his bedroom door on them, shutting himself in his room with his anger and the shame of knowing he’d been unkind to them. He was just tired of being judged for something he didn’t even know he’d done—and he wasn’t sure he’d have avoided it even if he’d known.
“Drink?” The cigarette guy slid an arm around Luke’s waist. He was well-dressed, silky black and white checkerboard shirt and sleek leather pants. Almost too upscale for this place, not that Luke had much of a clue what that meant. He just had a feeling, the way he got feelings about things sometimes.
“Just a Coke. But, okay.” Luke let himself be steered toward the bar. That was a nice feeling, someone’s arm around him, in front of everyone. Biggs wouldn’t even hold his hand—not that Luke blamed him for it at all, it just would have been nice. Once.
“I’ll be right back. Don’t go far.” The cigarette guy brushed Luke’s cheek with his lips and squeezed Luke’s ass with one hand before letting go. It wasn’t a bad feeling, kind of good, really—being wanted like that. Luke watched him go, gauged the swing of his lean hips and the toss of his green-dyed hair. The guy walked like he owned the bar, and Luke fumbled in his brain for the man’s name, uncertain if he’d even heard it. Luke sprawled in a chair by the dance floor to wait for him.
The pause was enough for a sliver of uncertainty to pierce the haze of adrenaline and sweat and testosterone that wrapped Luke’s brain like cotton wool. He tried to push it away, blaming his parents for it, blaming himself for it, but it kept prodding, cold and sharp. Be careful. Without seeing, he felt the swirl of ice in a glass, cold bubbles, and something else, like a dark fish swimming through dark water. He hadn’t felt that at all when the man in the black vest had made him the first drink, even if it had gotten him drunk.
“Trust me,” the man had said. And Luke had. Simple as that. No stab of cold, no needle of doubt.
Luke knew what he wanted, and it wasn’t whatever was coming back his way. He couldn’t have said why. He just pushed himself to his feet and elbowed through the crowd toward the door.
Leaving had been the right choice, Luke knew it as soon as the cool night air outside washed over his skin. He sucked in a breath, tasting relief and car exhaust at once. He had time to catch the last bus out, it didn’t leave until the bars closed, which was sooner than later. He’d be late getting home but he was a grown man now. He was allowed. Straightening his shoulders, he set out for the station.
The relief didn’t last long. Two blocks over, Luke felt that needle again, this time in the back of his neck. Raucous laughter made him look back to see a knot of men about his age surging toward him. The golden light from the street lamps glinted off their shaved heads, glittered in the silver spikes on their jackets. He’d only crossed paths with guys like that during the day and, even then…he’d walked faster.
Luke ignored the shout.
The needle of cold went in at the base of Luke’s skull, down his spine, came out in his guts. He didn’t turn around. A bottle shattered off the brick of a storefront, not two feet from his head, glass showered over his shoulder.
“Turn around, faggot!”
Not a chance. Luke broke into a full run without thinking about it, bolted like a rabbit for the distant glow of the bus station. He wasn’t fast enough. It was like being chased by a pack of dogs. They were bigger than he was, faster, stronger, and they’d done this before. His chest was on fire, his heart pounding so hard he could hardly inhale, when someone grabbed his arm and swung him up against the steel gate across a shop door.
“We’re talking to you, gay boy.” A fist caught him in the stomach and doubled him over. “You should be flattered.” A backhand smashed his head back into the gate, split his lip.
“Fuck you,” Luke said, spitting blood, when he’d meant to say: I’m not gay, I’m not queer, I’m not, I’m no one. “And your sister,” he said instead, and brought a knee up where he was pretty sure someone’s groin ought to be. He wasn’t wrong, there was retching and some cackles, and a hand tight on his throat.
“I think you owe Ponda’s dick an apology,” one of them said.
“What the hell kind of name is Ponda?” Luke sputtered, both hands on the wrist of the hand that had him by the throat. “His mother should apologize to him and his dick.” He didn’t know why he was making this worse, maybe because there was no way to make it better and he was damned if he was going to make it easy. Someone punched him in the side, hard enough he felt his ribs creak, and his breath went out of him so that he saw stars.
Suddenly the world lit up, drowning out the stars in white. Luke thought maybe someone hit him in the head but then the screech of tires put things in perspective. An engine roared and the hand on Luke’s throat was gone. He hit the ground on his hands and knees, got kicked hard in the head for real this time as the skinheads around him scattered. A dog, barking wildly, tore past him in pursuit. Luke had the strangest sensation that he knew what it was saying—cursing, even—before everything went dark.
Han had few principles but one of them involved fucking up the plans of skinheads and tax men whenever he could. He wasn’t going to dent the Falcon running anyone down but he came damn close, pulling a U-turn and screeching up onto the sidewalk to break up whatever beatdown was going on. Chewie bolted out of the window as soon as Han came to a stop, barking his damn head off.
“Chewie, for the love of…” Han grabbed his gun from the glove box and shoved it in the waistband of his pants as he got out of the car. “Don’t bite anyone, I can’t afford shots,” he shouted after the dog. God only knew what diseases those little punks were carrying.
“I’m fine, I’m fine,” the kid they’d been working over was mumbling. He was on his knees, swaying and dripping blood on the sidewalk.
“Kid you aren’t even conscious.” Han grabbed him under the arms and wrestled him into the back seat of the car.
“I don’t wanna go home,” the kid babbled.
“Yeah, well, I don’t know where you live, so…” Han closed the door, then looked around for his dog. “Goddamnit, Chewie!”
Chewie came romping out of the shadows like he didn’t have a care in the world, the seat of someone’s pants in his mouth.
“Seriously?” Han took the prize from him. There was a wallet in the back pocket that Han stripped for the cash and cards, then pitched across the street and into the gutter. “Guess we’ll get you the good dog food this week.”
Chewie barked happily, then vaulted back through the open passenger-side window and into the front seat.
“What are we going to do with this one?” Han asked him as he slid into the driver’s seat. Chewie turned around to inspect the kid in the back.
“Worra worra,” Chewie said thoughtfully, wagging his tail.
“We’re not keeping him.” Han backed off the sidewalk and turned the car around. He’d have to go get his money from Mena later. “I don’t know why you keep trying to adopt people. I’m starting to think you don’t like me.”
“You do too like me. Shut your fuzzy face,” Han said. “I feed you, don’t I?”
“Grrrmph.” Chewie’s tail beat a sharp tattoo on the dashboard as he leaned into the back seat to wash the kid’s face with his tongue.
“Hey, hey,” the kid protested. “Stop it.”
“Lay off, Chewie.” Han grabbed Chewie’s collar and made him sit in his seat. “Sorry about that.”
The kid sat up, looking like a sad kind of haystack. Blood immediately gushed from his nose and down his chin.
“Hey, it’s you.” Han recognized him at last. The kid from the bar. Hell of a lot worse for wear, though. Han fished a stack of napkins out from the floor under his seat. “Here. Don’t bleed in my car.”
“Why?” The kid pressed the napkins to his face, glaring at Han by way of the rearview mirror. “Afraid it’ll clean something?”
“No, I’m afraid it’ll wash off the glue keeping her together.” Han rolled his eyes. “Don’t shit-talk a car that just saved your life, kid.”
“Sorry.” The kid sagged into the back seat, looking even smaller than he had in the club. “Guess this was a bad idea,” he mumbled into the napkins.
“Which part?” Han wasn’t sure whether or not to feel guilty. “You don’t seem drunk so it wasn’t that, was it?”
“No. Just. All of it.” The kid wiped his face off but the blood trickled sluggishly every time he cleaned it off. “You were right about the drink but I don’t think getting drunk is for me. I can be pretty stupid on my own without it.”
“You and me both,” Han admitted. “Best to do it in company you like if you’re gonna get hammered.” Chewie barked agreeably. “I wasn’t talking about you, but sure,” Han said to the dog. “You gotta be careful out there, kid. Especially…” Han left that part out, realizing he was talking out of turn.
“Especially what?” The kid’s blue eyes burned, even bouncing off the age-spotted mirror before hitting Han’s face.
“Nothing, kid.” Han didn’t want to get into it.
“Especially since I’m young?” A foot thumped the back of Han’s seat resentfully. “Stupid? Gay?” Thump, again, and the kid smacked the seat with his free hand for emphasis. “You can say it, you know. Gay, gay, gay. No one ever fucking says it.”
“Saying it’s one thing, kid.” Han wanted to provide some sort of comfort but he was shitty at that kind of thing. “Being it is something else. I’m just speaking from experience, here. Be careful.”
“Don’t get in cars with strange men?” The kid quieted down fast but there was still that sarcastic streak. Han kind of liked it.
“Well, yeah. Maybe we should fix that.” Han had to laugh at him. “I’m Han. And you are?”
“Luke.” The kid—Luke—sniffled and mopped his face again. “Luke Walker.”
“Where am I taking you, Luke?” Han had a cab, he might as well use her for what he’d bought her for.
“Not home.” Luke let his head fall back against the seat and looked out the window, unfocused. “I can’t go home like this.”
Chewie whined sadly and wriggled between the seats enough to lick Luke’s knee where it was bared by a tear in his jeans, then he turned his shaggy head to give Han a mournful look.
“Oh, for…” Han was screwed. “Okay, look. You can come back to my place and clean up. But then you’re going home.”
“Sure.” Luke sighed heavily, resigned. “I don’t have anywhere else to be.”
Han lived four floors up in a building Luke wasn’t certain was completely stable. It kind of…listed to one side. Maybe that was the blow to the head but Luke wasn’t convinced otherwise.
“What?” Han asked, a little defensively.
“Is it…” Luke tilted his head and the world yawed unpleasantly. “Is it straight?”
“Nothing here is straight, kid, you’ll fit right in.” Han steered Luke toward the door with one hand on his back and Luke was too busy thinking about how nice that felt to think more about the building, at least until it came to staggering up eight flights of rickety puke-beige stairs that smelled about the same as they looked.
“You really live here?” Luke had been hoping that adulthood would offer something more exciting.
“This is my address,” Han said, looking around anxiously once they got to the top floor.
“Nothing.” Han nudged him down the narrow hall. The carpet was a terrible psychedelic orange and the lights were watery gold. “I just…I owe some people money is all.”
“Some people?” Luke let Han shove him into the apartment once Han got the door unlocked.
“Bad people.” Han held up a finger as he pressed Luke back against the door. “Stay. Chewie, anyone here?”
The dog huffed as he trotted further into the darkened apartment. Han followed right behind, his hand going to something at the back of his pants. With a sharp, cold thrill, Luke realized that it was a gun. After a moment, the dog barked and it sounded like an negative. No one here.
“I think we’re good.” Han flicked a switch and a small, fluorescent lamp shivered into full brightness over a tiny kitchen table. Han set his gun down in the middle of the table and beckoned for Luke to come over. “Let’s get you cleaned up, Luke.”
Luke came over obediently and Han took his face in both hands, surprisingly gently, and turned him so that the light fell full on him. Luke closed his eyes against it and leaned his cheek into one of Han’s hands. That was so nice. Somehow, one of his hands found its way to lying flat on Han’s broad chest so that Luke could feel Han’s heartbeat and the warmth of his skin through the coarse white shirt he wore.
“Jesus. What are you, twelve?” Han sounded slightly horrified.
“Nineteen.” Luke’s eyes flew open. So much for nice. He dug in his pocket for his wallet, then smacked it into Han’s breastbone. “See for yourself.” To his dismay, Han actually did. Opened Luke’s wallet, found his driver’s license, and inspected it under the kitchen light.
“Seems legit,” Han mumbled. “What the hell, nineteen it is. And a pilot’s license? Guess that’s me told. Sorry, kid.”
“How do you know it’s real?” Luke was feeling mulish again.
“Well, for one thing, no self-respecting kid would give himself the middle name of Sky.” Han tucked the ID back into the wallet. “Were your parents hippies or something?”
“Wouldn’t know.” Luke snatched the wallet back. “They’re dead.”
“Oh.” Han’s expression collapsed into lines of sadness and tiredness that made him look older than Luke had first guessed, old enough to call him ‘kid’ and mean it. “I’m sorry, kid.”
“It’s okay. I don’t remember.” Luke put his wallet away, unwilling to look at Han anymore. Something about the genuine compassion there was too much even if it was what he was looking for. Once he had it, he felt embarrassed about needing it. “My aunt and uncle are pretty good parents.”
“Still.” One of Han’s big hands cupped his cheek again, gently. “That’s some shitty luck, kid.” Han’s thumb brushed over a bruise, lightly, not enough to hurt. “Let’s get you—” Whatever came next was lost when Chewie huffed angrily. “What?”
They both froze, listening. That cold was back, a little frost creeping over Luke’s nerves. Footsteps sounded down the hall, loud and careless, and a rumble of voices. Chewie growled, low in his throat.
“No, I don’t have their money.” Han grabbed his gun from the table with one hand, caught Luke by the wrist with the other. “Let’s go.”
Where? The door wasn’t an option. The window opened out over the street, Luke didn’t know if there was a fire escape. There was nothing else here but a couch, a coffee table, a bookcase.
Han hauled Luke over to the bookshelf and felt behind it until something clicked. The door handle rattled, someone knocked. The bookshelf slid aside, then Han shoved Luke into the dark behind it.
“Get in,” he hissed at Chewie. The dog whined miserably. “I don’t care, get in!”
“Come on, Chewie,” Luke said, encouragingly. The dog shoved in behind Luke’s knees, whining.
“Oh, sure. Listen to the new guy,” Han grumped, stepping in next to Luke and sliding the bookcase shut behind them. Just in time, too. There was a rending sound from the front of the apartment. “You know I could pay Jabba back if I didn’t have to keep replacing my door,” Han hissed, next to Luke’s ear.
It was pitch black in the tiny space behind the shelves, airless and terrifying, but also thrilling. Han’s hand with the gun was at the small of Luke’s back, holding him close since there was no room for anything but closeness. Luke’s sore nose bumped into Han’s chest and he had to turn his head, press his cheek there instead, to keep it from happening again. Outside, something splintered. Maybe the coffee table.
Luke didn’t care. He should have been terrified, dropped into a world of gangsters and guns and hiding out in the dark, but it felt like home instead. He leaned into Han, let his hands slide around to the small of Han’s back where his muscles were taut and strong under the damp fabric of his shirt. Han wrapped his other arm around Luke’s shoulders and turned slightly, tense and waiting. Luke realized that if anyone came through the bookcase, if anything did—even a bullet—it would hit Han first and not him or Chewie.
And that. That was the hottest thing he’d ever thought of in his life, and he’d thought of some pretty daring stuff. Glass shattered, voices rose, and Luke didn’t care. He lifted his head to press his lips to the line of Han’s throat and was rewarded by the full-body shudder that went through him.
“They’ll be done soon,” Han breathed against his ear. “Just another minute.”
The voices were speaking a language Luke didn’t understand. Maybe Han did. If this was almost over, he wanted to get the most out of it. He moved a little, just enough to touch Han’s mouth with his. Just a touch that turned into a kiss and Han’s arms tight around him, their bodies pressed hard together, Han’s tongue slipping past Luke’s teeth to touch his. One hot, wet kiss and then another, Han’s back hitting the wall behind them with a dull bump, taking Luke’s weight with him, Han’s free hand in Luke’s hair, and Luke’s hands on Han’s hips and the curve of his ass.
Chewie growled irritably and snapped his teeth behind Luke, breaking the spell. Everything beyond the bookcase was silent.
“Sorry,” Han mumbled; to Luke or the dog, Luke wasn’t sure. He had no idea how much time had passed, just that he was sweat-soaked and nearly limp with desire except for how hard his cock was, trapped under the fabric of his too-tight jeans.
Somehow, he managed to straighten up, and Han fumbled the bookshelf open again. Chewie slipped out with a snort, vaulting a broken lamp and the remains of the coffee table. The place was trashed, and in so little time.
“This happens a lot?” Luke tried to pull his dignity back together, straightening his clothes as he followed the dog.
“Often enough.” Han surveyed the damage with a deep sigh, gun hanging useless and unfired at his side. Luke let his eyes stray over Han’s body, searching for—and finding—evidence that Han had been as turned on as he was back there in the dark.
“I’ll help you clean up.” Luke was sore and a little dizzy still, that wasn’t all Han, but it was better than going home.
“I should take you back first.” Han put the gun down on the bookcase, then slid it shut again.
“I can stay. I’ll sleep on the couch,” Luke offered hastily. “I won’t be any trouble.”
“Kid, I sleep on the couch,” Han said wearily. Everything about him said that didn’t happen nearly enough. “But they won’t be back here tonight. And if they see the car out and about…” He let the sentence trail off. Whatever it was, it wasn’t good.
“I’ll get a broom.” Luke had never been so grateful to do chores. “You do have a broom, right?”
“I’m not a savage,” Han snapped, pausing with what was left of the television halfway up to standing. “I have a…Chewie, I have a broom. Where’s the broom?” The dog pawed at a narrow closet near the front door, whining. Han heaved the television up the rest of the way. “Yeah. A broom. I’m a guy who has a broom.”
Chapter 2: Make Me Lose Control
My darlin', turn the radio up for that sweet sound
Hold me close, never let me go
Keep this feelin' alive, make me lose control
Baby, baby, when I look in your eyes, I go crazy
Fever's high with the lights down low
So, take me over the edge, make me lose control
--Make Me Lose Control, Eric Carmen
The broom was about the only piece of Han’s life that was where it ought to be. Still, it was nice to have someone to help him out—and that thought got past him before he could squash it. Probably because he was fixated on Luke’s ass every time the kid—he wasn’t a kid, Han knew that, but Christ; when did nineteen get to be so young?—bent over to pick something else up. Han wanted to bang his head on the wall but he couldn’t afford to do any more damage to his place.
“I think I can fix this up,” Luke said. Han looked over to see him fiddling with the door. “You won’t be able to just open and close it, but it’ll hold for tonight.”
“Okay,” Han said hesitantly.
“Farm kid.” Luke pointed at himself. It was easy to forget, what with the clothes and the eyeliner. “I’m good at making do.”
“Well, it’s all making do around here, kid. Need my help?” Han wasn’t sure he’d be much use, his repairs skills were mostly focused on keeping his Falcon on the road.
“I’m good.” Luke rubbed his hands off on his ass, and God, Han was the worst person ever because he wanted to go right on over and do the same thing. “Just need a couple tools and some of that coffee table.”
“You want some coffee or something?” That much Han could do. “I think there’s some pizza.” Jabba’s boys had left the fridge alone. He didn’t blame them. Last time they’d ransacked the place, there’d been Chinese takeout in there holding elections, the mold colonies on it had gotten so advanced.
“Yeah, sure.” Luke had a hammer, a screwdriver, and a piece of wood and he was eying the front door like it was some kind of mortal enemy. He looked older now, and not just because Han knew his age. It was because he knew what he was doing. There was a different set to his strong shoulders, certainty in his movements. It looked good on him.
Han made coffee and heated pizza up in a pan on the stove while Luke worked. He split wedges off the piece of wood and used them to hold the door in place. Smart. It was probably more secure now than it had been before, even better because you couldn’t just open it. That was pretty damn attractive, that competence.
“There.” Luke’s grin was sunny and triumphant, lighting up his whole face. “I can fix it for you properly tomorrow, if you know where there’s a hardware store.”
“Kid.” Han grabbed a napkin off the stack he’d accumulated from numerous takeout places and used it to wipe fresh blood away from Luke’s split lip. “With any luck, you won’t be here tomorrow.”
“Yeah, what about you?” Luke let Han clean him off, chin tipped up stubbornly.
“Not your problem,” Han muttered.
“What if I’m making it my problem? How come you owe those guys money? Tell me. I can help.” Luke was painfully sincere.
“Sit down and eat your damn pizza,” Han said. “Before Chewie does.” The dog had his nose on the edge of the table. “Chewie, you have dog food.” Chewie made a sad noise. “That’s because you’re a dog. It’s what you eat.”
“He’s not a normal dog,” Luke said, through a mouthful of pizza. He slipped into his chair obediently but Han knew better than to let his guard down. Chewie pretended to do what he was told often enough, then, bam, did whatever the hell he wanted the minute Han relaxed.
“He’s still not getting pizza.” Han sat down in the other chair—why he had two was beyond him but having just one had seemed kind of pitiful and it was coming in handy now. “And you’re going home tomorrow.”
“It’s not drugs,” Luke said thoughtfully. “Or women.” He looked around the apartment, then rolled his eyes. “Or men. You don’t really drink. You probably make enough driving the cab for this place. Hell, you could panhandle and afford this place.”
“Hey!” Han tried to muster up the energy to be offended. “Look, I just had a run of bad luck.”
“Gambling?” Luke paused between bites. He ate like Chewie did, like he was breathing in his food.
“Well. Smuggling. And then gambling.” It had been a bad month. “I should have made the money up but, shit, I don’t know. It’s like I can’t catch a break anymore.” Sometimes, it was like the universe was pissed off at him and Han had no idea what he’d done to deserve it.
“What kind of gambling?” Luke looked genuinely curious.
“Anything going.” Han shrugged. “I’m usually pretty good at it. Hell, my whole life is pretty much one roll of the dice after another. Cards, usually, or horses.”
“I’m pretty good, too,” Luke said, straightening up. “I’ve got some money. Uncle Owen hates gambling but he’d say it was okay if it was to save a friend’s ass—not that he says ass, not where Aunt Beru can hear him.”
“We’re friends now?” Han tried not to let that warm him up.
“Well, unless you make out with people you don’t like while hiding from guys who want to beat the crap out of you…” Luke let the sentence trail off, then shot Han a wicked little grin that did heat Han up, in a whole other way.
“That was a mistake,” Han mumbled. Chewie barked sharply at him. “You hush,” he told the dog.
“I dunno, I think Chewie would know,” Luke said. He rubbed Chewie’s ears when the dog came over to lean against him. “So, are you going to let me help you or not?”
“How are you going to help?” Han picked up his coffee, feeling pretty secure about all this. If he couldn’t get himself out of this mess, there was no way some wet-behind-the-ears farm boy was going to do it. “Ask nicely? I mean, you’re cute, kid…”
“That’s…that’s not…” Luke turned bright pink all over again and it was kind of satisfying but it also made Han want to kiss him, which was more irritating than not. “No. But you need money. And I can help you get it. I know it sounds stupid but I can feel things. Like, things that are going to happen. My parents hate it, they don’t like me doing it, but I can’t help it sometimes. It makes me a really, really good better.”
“Gambler, kid. The word is gambler. And I don’t think your…whatever it is…is going to help me out.”
“It’s only gambling if you might lose,” Luke said defiantly. “I’ll make you a bet. Do you have any cards?”
“Only a dozen packs.” Han was curious now. The kid hadn’t been an idiot, not so far, so there had to be something going on here.
“Get ‘em,” Luke said. “Get one, get all of them, I don’t care. And, let’s see. For everyone one I get right, you’ll owe me something.”
“I’m broke, kid,” Han reminded him. Still, and he didn’t know why, he was up and getting the cards out of the cupboard over the fridge.
“Yeah, well, I’ll think of something.” When Han looked back at him, Luke was eying him with definite purpose. “Oh, it’s like that, is it?”
“It’s like that.” Luke spread his hands. “Unless you want to bet your dog?”
Chewie barked furiously.
“Damn it, Chewie, you’re gonna get the neighbours riled up.” Han wasn’t averse to paying up if Luke’s look said what he thought it did. “Okay. You’re on.” He dumped five packs of cards out onto the table, then started to shuffle them up. “Let’s say…more than fifty percent right, and I’ll pay up.”
“I’ll get them all right.” Luke set their plates and cups off to the side, slipping Chewie the last crust of his pizza. “If I get even one wrong, I’ll go home whenever you tell me to go. Let’s do this.”
Five packs of cards, all Han’s, all from the same brand. There was no way there could be any kind of gimmick going on. Han’s apartment. Chance meeting. Chewie went over to hop up on the couch, watching with his paws draped over the nearest arm.
“You’re on.” Han pulled a card out of the stack.
“Five of clubs,” Luke said, before Han even looked at it.
“You’re sure?” Han hesitated.
“Put it up.” Luke tapped the table.
Han flipped it face up. Five of clubs. “I’m no good at figuring out long odds, but…”
“Again.” Luke beckoned. “Let’s go.”
Han pulled another card. Luke breathed out, his eyes lost focus briefly.
“Eight of spades. Next one is the King of Diamonds.” Luke met Han’s eyes across the table. “You, that’s you.”
Han turned the eight of spades up, then laid the King of Diamonds down next to it. His hands were cold.
“Next one’s me.”
“What’s that?” Han pulled it out, paused before flipping it.
“Jack of Hearts,” Luke said quietly.
Han put the card face down on the table. His heart was pounding in his ears. “If you’re right, and I’m not dreaming…”
“I can’t explain it.” Luke looked pained for a moment. “It’s usually just for stupid little things, warnings like rain or a calf stuck in a ditch, but when I focus, when it matters…” He reached across to take the card from Han, then turned it over and offered it back. “Me. Next to you, in the deck.”
Jack of Hearts.
“It works best with living things,” Luke said. He was a little ashy, as though he’d been working too hard. “So. Horses.”
“Your family knows about this?” Han took the card and laid it next to the King of Diamonds.
“Yeah.” Luke ran a hand over his face. “My dad could do stuff like that. He was in some kind of religious thing, though, and my mom, I don’t know. They don’t talk about it. They talk around it. But I can help you.”
“Why?” Han was out to sea here.
“Maybe it’s your trustworthy face.” Luke gave him a wan smile. “Or maybe I just want to do something—anything—to make a difference, for anyone. Lucky you.”
“Okay.” Han looked down, touched the cards again, picked them up to inspect them. His cards. Slightly worn, mundane, the same as the last time he’d touched them, but different now. “Tomorrow.”
Luke’s head throbbed but he felt victorious. Accomplished. And that was hard to pull off when you were bruised, coated in dried sweat and nightclub scum, and vaguely nauseous. He felt clean, though, somewhere deep inside.
“Your couch pulls out,” he said, in case Han hadn’t ever bothered to check. He was wobbly but he could get it done. “I’ll set it up.”
“The hell you will.” Han caught Luke around the waist with one arm, pulled him in for a kiss that would have left him weak in the knees even if he’d been steady to start with. “I can do that. You go get cleaned up. And call your folks. The phone works.”
“It’s late, and—”
“They’re probably still waiting up for you.” Han let his forehead rest against Luke’s and that was strangely grounding. “Call. Tell them the car broke down and you’re staying here for the night.”
“Okay.” Luke knew Han was right and it wasn’t just the feel of Han’s strong arms under his hands affecting his judgment. “They’re gonna be pissed off, though. I’d rather let them just yell at me when I get home.”
“Look, kid.” Han pulled back to put his hands on Luke’s shoulders, looking him in the eyes. “Being pissed off doesn’t mean they don’t understand. It just means they’re scared. People are like that. Especially when they have something important to protect.”
“Yeah, but…” Do they have to be so unreasonable?
“No buts.” Han gave him a little shake, just gently, enough to punctuate what he was saying. “I know people, Luke. If I had someone like you to look after…look, just call them.”
“I will. Thanks.” Luke wasn’t looking forward to it but he supposed part of being an adult was sucking it up and he didn’t want to look like some ungrateful little jerkass kid in front of Han. Not when he was doing so well and was going to get to help Han out tomorrow. Chewie whined and nosed his knee. “You too? I’m going.”
Han’s phone was one of the old dial types, probably older than Luke by the look of it. It took Luke a moment to remember his own phone number, then he spun it into the phone, one digit at a time. The handset was heavy in his hand and the line crackled.
“Luke?” That was Aunt Beru, picking it up halfway through the first ring.
“Hi, Aunt Beru.” Luke tried to put some pep into his voice. “Sorry I’m not home, I was with a friend and his car broke down.”
“What have I told you about hanging out with that Windy boy?” Aunt Beru sounded more relieved than angry. “That car of his is a deathtrap, Luke. Where are you? Do you need Owen to come get you?”
“No, don’t bother him,” Luke said hastily. “I’m staying in the city with another friend. It’s all good, he has a spare bed. We might go do something tomorrow while the car gets fixed and then I’ll come home.”
Aunt Beru was quiet for a moment, then Luke heard the rumble of Uncle Owen’s voice. He was shocked at how much he hated lying to them. It felt wrong. Queasy. But it was for the best. Aunt Beru relayed what Luke told her to Owen and then Luke heard his uncle more clearly.
“He’s a grown man, Beru. A night away won’t hurt him.”
“He called, didn’t he? Tell him goodnight and come to bed. Let the boy be for once.”
Aunt Beru sighed heavily into the phone. “You heard that?”
“I did, Aunt Beru. I’m fine, really. I ate and everything,” Luke assured her.
“Don’t be a bother to his family,” Aunt Beru chided. “Be polite, help out.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Luke couldn’t remember when he’d felt so affectionately toward either of them. Maybe the distance was what he needed to realize that their stifling grip on him was coming from a place of love.
“We’ll see you tomorrow. Call if you need anything. We love you, Luke.”
“I love you too, Aunt Beru. I’ll see you soon.” Luke hung up almost reluctantly, then turned to see Han looking at him oddly. “What?”
“There’s some cleanish towels in the bathroom,” Han said. “Go wash up. I’ll get you something to wear. You look like I could put you out on the street corner to make me some money for tomorrow.”
“That’s not a compliment, Han,” Luke said irritably. Though, on some level, the idea that Han thought he looked fuckable was a little hot so he wasn’t sulking too much as he let himself into the tiny, green-tiled bathroom.
“Hey, I didn’t say you’d be cheap,” Han called after him.
“Oh, and you’re obviously a purveyor of fine goods of all sorts.”
Luke turned on the shower, which coughed and spit rusty water with a banging of pipes until it settled down to a lukewarm sputter. Luke was used to taking lousy showers, the water heater on the farm was perpetually on the fritz. He peeled out of his clothes with relief, stepped under the flow, and closed his eyes. Lukewarm and sputtering, the water still felt like heaven. It stung his raw places, reminded him that his ribs and his head hurt, but he felt better by the minute.
Luke’s eyes popped open to see nothing but pitch black. “Han?”
“Fuse. I gotta go down to the basement to—” There was a dull clunk. “Fuck me.”
“Door doesn’t open,” Luke reminded him.
“Yeah, I got that, thanks.” Han exhaled heavily enough that Luke could hear him. Chewie bumped the bathroom door open and the shower curtain rustled, then the dog whined.
“I’m fine, Chewie,” Luke reassured him. “We’re all fine. We can do without tonight,” he called to Han. “Making do, remember?”
“Yeah, I remember. I think I have candles somewhere.” Han’s voice trailed off into the rattle of drawers opening and closing and mumbled cursing. Chewie huffed in annoyance.
“You can’t be scared of the dark,” Luke told him. “You’re a dog.”
Chewie sneezed at him.
“Seriously?” Luke fumbled for something that felt like shampoo. It was the only bottle in reach and it smelled right. “Well, I won’t tell Han if you won’t. You can stay with me.”
Chewie’s tail thumped on the floor, then he settled down with a sigh.
“Your dog makes a lousy bathmat,” Luke said, on his way out of the bathroom. He and Chewie had barely avoided an incident when it came time for Luke to step out of the shower. Han hadn’t left any clothes yet, so he’d had to settle for wrapping one of the thin towels around his waist.
“I tell him that, but you know how well he listens.” Han was at the kitchen sink, shirt off, washing up with a cloth. There were a few candles around the place and they cast a soft golden glow that picked out the ripple of muscle under Han’s damp skin, the gloss of his wavy hair, the glitter of his dark eyes. Luke wasn’t listening either, anymore. “I didn’t…there’s clothes…” Han trailed off.
“Yeah, sure.” Luke really wasn’t paying attention at all, Han could have been pointing out a small fire across the room for all he knew.
“You know what, never mind.” Han threw the cloth in the sink. “You and clothes are a terrible combination.”
“You, too.” Luke reached out for silky, bare skin as soon as Han was close enough and there it was, warm and supple under his palms, like every dream he hadn’t known enough to dream.
“I’ll fix it in a second.” Han cupped Luke’s face in both hands and bent to kiss him on the mouth, slow and sweet. “Just…” He kissed Luke again. “Just that.”
“Okay.” This was nothing like fumbling around in the barn with Biggs, this was…this was something new entirely. Luke hardly knew who he was but he was starting to like himself more by the minute. He undid the towel and dropped it over one of Han’s kitchen chairs. “Better?”
Han sucked in a breath that shook in his chest and he nodded. “Yeah.” He glanced down Luke’s body, then dragged his eyes back to Luke’s face. “Perfect,” he said, and there wasn’t any joking in it.
“Then you better fix that.” Luke backed away, gesturing at Han’s pants and boots.
“I’m getting there.” Han undid his belt, undid the button at the top of his pants.
The unfolded couch hit Luke in the backs of the legs and he managed, barely, a more graceful descent than just crashing down on it. Han stopped to pull off his boots, then leaned over to kiss Luke on the mouth again.
“You’re not good at taking orders,” Luke pointed out between kisses.
“Terrible,” Han said, then nudged him back up the bed. “It’s a character flaw.” He crawled up after Luke, somehow managing to shove his pants and briefs down around his thighs as he went.
“I can live with it.” Luke caught him, one hand at the nape of his neck, and pulled him in for a kiss. He slid his other hand down Han’s flat belly until his fingers found the trail of soft fur that led him to the impossibly hot, velvet-hard shaft of Han’s cock. “And that,” Luke added breathlessly.
“Jesus, kid,” Han said as he sucked in air and both words sounded almost the same in his mouth.
Luke could get used to that. Han felt so good in the palm of Luke’s hand, thick and solid, and the way touching him made him shudder was almost better than Luke getting touched himself. Han didn’t move except to kiss him again, just held still and let Luke touch him, and that was better than Luke would have believed. To have someone so rebellious and dynamic, someone who radiated wanderlust, still in his hands—it was magic.
Luke learned as he went, let his mind wander over Han’s body to feel every twitch and shiver as his hand moved over Han’s cock. He gained confidence with every stroke, pressed his fingers tighter here, slid his thumb over the slick head with each pass, reached down with the other hand to toy with Han’s balls. That got him a whine and the weight of Han’s head on his shoulder as Han gave up trying to kiss him and focused on breathing instead. Luke slid two fingers up and back over the thick root of Han’s cock and felt Han shake all the way through.
Han’s hands twisted in the sheets under Luke’s back, his breath was hot and ragged against Luke’s chest, and he started to rock with every stroke. Luke could feel him trying to muster the focus to make sense, to move, but Luke wasn’t about to play fair, he sped up his hand on Han’s cock, pressed harder up behind Han’s balls, and wrung a desperate noise out of him.
“Fuck,” Han whispered, his voice thick with frustration. He bucked against Luke’s hands, fucking the tight tunnel of Luke’s fist, and then he was coming. Semen spattered Luke’s belly, dripped down his wrist, and it felt like a strange badge of honour. He’d won something and wasn’t sure what until Han’s body slowed and Han turned his head to press his hot, damp forehead into the curve of Luke’s neck, breathing hard.
Oh. That. Luke drew Han down against his chest, wrapped an arm around his shoulders.
“Thought I was supposed to be doing something for you,” Han muttered against his throat.
“That was what I wanted.” Luke nuzzled into Han’s thick glossy hair, breathing in his scent.
“You’re a hazard, kid.” Han submitted to being snuggled a moment longer, then rolled off to sprawl on his back, still half-dressed.
“You love it.” Luke laughed, stretching luxuriously. “Anything else, you’d be bored.”
Luke was right. Safe did bore Han. Unexpectedly good, sweet orgasms before he even got his pants down weren’t dangerous, not in the traditional sense, but there was a fine line to be walked here. Han was nothing if not a master of walking that line until it disappeared entirely under his bootprints, leaving him to guess about where to find a safe place to stand. He was usually wrong. And therein lay the danger. That hadn’t stopped him before.
Han turned to look at the lithe, golden body next to his in bed, drew his eyes up to that angelic face with the kissable pout and sky-blue eyes. It sure as hell wasn’t going to stop him now.
“I’m not bored now,” he told Luke, then skinned out of his briefs and pants and socks at once, kicking them off the end of the bed. Now he could roll over on his side, feel that warm, glowing body next to his. Luke looked up at him, open and guileless. “God, but you are pretty. You know that?”
“Kinda.” Luke’s expression twisted a little and Han didn’t have any choice but to kiss him.
“Hey, what’s that for?” Han slid an arm under Luke’s shoulders and Luke, obligingly, wriggled closer. “You okay?” He petted down the smooth slope of Luke’s back, over the taut curve of his ass, and Luke hummed softly.
“Yeah, I just. No one takes me seriously.” Luke ran his fingers through the patch of hair on Han’s breastbone, let it curl around them, his face pensive.
“I do.” Han kissed his temple. “Well, I’m starting to. Sorry if I didn’t before. What brought this on?”
“Nothing. I just. I want to be more than this. My best friend, he went to West Point. Without me. Even if I got in, I wouldn’t be allowed to go. I’m never gonna go anywhere.”
“Hey.” Han caught Luke under the chin with one finger, tipping Luke’s head up so Luke had to meet his eyes. “I may not have whatever weird shit you have going on in your head, kid, but I’ve been around. You are gonna go places. You may regret it sometimes and wish you were back here, doing nothing in the ass end of nowhere, but you’re not gonna be here your whole life. I promise.”
“Seriously?” Luke cracked a bit of a smile, looking more hopeful.
“Trust me.” Han rolled him over on his back, kissed him on his smile.
“I do.” Luke kissed him back. “You’ve got that kind of face.”
“Smartass.” Han couldn’t help laughing at that. It was impossible not to be in a good mood with someone so pretty in his bed, the worse of a bad night past, and hope for a better day tomorrow. “I think I owe you something,” he pointed out.
“Yeah, and we all know you always pay up,” Luke said with a snicker. Chewie, half under the bed, snorted approvingly.
“Excuse me.” Han felt a little outnumbered here. Apparently someone needed to be put in his place, if he was going to be smart about shit in Han’s bed. “I’m not the one who decided to drive just now.” He decided Luke didn’t deserve another kiss, ducked his head to nip lightly at one of Luke’s nipples.
“Oh,” Luke said breathlessly. That was really good, so Han did it again, harder. The kid did seem like a bit of a sucker for punishment but Han didn’t realize it was going to be literal. Han caught one of Luke’s wrists in each hand and pinned them to the bed at his sides as he kept going—biting, licking, sucking—until each golden-pink nipple was rosy and swollen and Luke was writhing under him, gasping. “God, Han, don’t…”
“Don’t what?” Han paused to kiss him on the mouth, softly, waiting for his answer. “Don’t what, Luke?”
“Don’t stop.” Luke focused on him with intensity that went right to Han’s groin. “Don’t stop. Please.”
“I wouldn’t do that to you, kid.” Han kissed him again, hard, bit Luke’s pouty lower lip just until he tasted iron from the cut and Luke whined breathlessly, arching under him. “That good, huh?” Han licked where he’d bitten, then turned his attention back to each nipple—sharp bites this time—before moving down.
Luke’s thighs were creamy gold and tender inside until Han covered them with bites and bruises like rose petals. Luke twisted his hands loose to knot his fingers in Han’s hair and Han let him go, let him have that one, because then he could be sure what he was doing was welcome. Han was getting hard again, cock sliding against the rough sheets, when Luke tugged his hair, demanding. The direction was unmistakable; Han let himself be moved until his mouth slid against Luke’s cock.
“Yeah, I get it,” he said, soothing. He took Luke’s cock in his mouth, unwilling to wait or tease. He wanted it as much as Luke did. Luke let go of his hair, back arching, and cried out. Han sucked him in deep, surprised at how much he was enjoying it himself; he hadn’t done this in years. God, but Luke tasted good: young, salt-sweet, fresh. And the way he moved, rocking under Han, pulling his knees up and apart, shivering every time Han took him in deep, all of it was a rush.
Han wet his fingers and slid them back behind Luke’s balls as he paused briefly. The way Luke rolled his hips and pushed down on his fingers to take them in, whimpering, was as good as a demand. He went back to drawing Luke’s taste out of him with one long suck and swallow after another as he worked his fingers into Luke’s tight hole. Luke took it, yielding to him, riding between his mouth and his fingers with more enthusiasm and readiness than Han had expected from someone who looked so new to it all.
It was ridiculously hot, Luke was loud enough about his pleasure that Han was sure he was going to get evicted for this and he didn’t care. Somewhere, someone was pounding on the wall.
“Fuck, Han,” Luke gasped, and the words were enough of a warning that Han could pull back and finish him with his free hand. The sight of Luke’s flushed face and wild hair, the jerk of his lithe body as he shot over his own belly, was almost too much.
“Damn it. Kid.” Han pulled his fingers out and grabbed his own cock, unable to wait.
“Yes.” Luke pushed himself up on one arm, watching avidly through the haze of his own pleasure. “God, Han. Come.”
Han didn’t have much of a choice, not with that ragged little plea in his ears. He came a second time, fucking his own hand, and splashed come across the bruises he’d put on Luke’s thigh.
“Who knew?” Luke collapsed back into the pillows. “You can follow orders.”
Han flopped next to him, limp and helpless, too wrung to laugh. “Fuck you,” he managed to say.
“Next time.” Luke rolled over enough to kiss the corner of his mouth clumsily before sagging onto his shoulder. “I think we’re even for now.”