First off, if you've been following my other story, A Cause for Concern, thank you and my apologies. This piece has been rattling around in the back of my head and I needed to set it down. Remember in my author's note where I said I write fanfiction when I'm stressed out? Life is very stressful right now. No worries, I will get back to the other story. :)
This is a work of fan-fiction. Star Wars was conceived by George Lucas and is now owned by Disney. Sadly, I make no profit from this.
This piece is set after ROTJ, when Han and Leia are living on Coruscant with the twins, before Anakin is born. I have tried to keep this piece compatible with my other Star Wars stories, and I do make reference to them. Although I have tried to keep to canon and the EU where possible, this piece is definitely AU. Author's warning: In this story, I do not promise to put the characters back in place when I am finished. I might, I might not, I haven't decided. If that offends you, you probably won't like this piece.
My sincere thanks to 2Old4This2 for beta-reading and a nod to my son for reminding me that no civilized person would take a walk along Coruscant's roads. Any remaining errors are mine.
The first time that Leia realized something was wrong with Han was five days after his speeder accident. The accident alone should have been a warning flag - it was so unlike Han to have been in a collision - but the skies that night had been full of them. It had been dark, rainy, and smoggy, and since the other driver was cited for an illegal merge, Leia hadn't thought too much about it. But when she and Han went out to dinner almost a week later at a new bistro near their apartment, the problem became apparent.
It was rare to find a good restaurant near home and Han and Leia delighted in the opportunity dine alone, leaving toddlers Jaina and Jacen safely in the care of Uncle Chewie and C-3PO. The food was good, the company better, and after dessert the couple took a leisurely ride through Coruscant. The night was perfect until Han turned directly into the path of a fast-moving airspeeder.
Leia yanked the wheel seconds before impact. "What are you doing, you nerfherder? You could have gotten us killed! How much did you have to drink at dinner? Pull over!"
Han parked the vehicle in the nearest available slot and sat, head bowed with his hands clutching the wheel. "I ..." He shook his head and shrugged his shoulders. "I'm not drunk, Leia. I didn't see it coming." A rare show of vulnerability crossed his features as he raised his eyes to her.
"Didn't see it coming?" Leia repeated loudly. "It was an airspeeder, for gods sake! How could you possibly have missed - "
Her voice broke off when she caught the look on Han's face. Oh, gods. She felt dizzy as her heart began to race. This can't be happening. Not to us. Not now. We have children to raise.
Studying her husband, Leia took a deep breath and tried to calm down. Han appeared equally shattered by his disclosure.
Instinctively, she drew him close and wrapped her arms around him tightly. Leia could hear his heart thrumming wildly in his chest, a testament to how frightened he was, how near the miss had been.
"It's okay, sweetheart," she whispered. "I'm here. I signed on for better or worse. I'm not going anywhere."
He drew back and gave her one of his patented crooked smiles. "I know. But I think you'd better drive us home tonight."
They resumed their evening, but nothing felt the same. Leia knew their lives had been irrevocably altered.
Ambassador Leia Organa-Solo never took time off of work. Even when pregnant with the twins, she had insisted on working right up until her due date and had returned to work as soon as the doctor had allowed her to after the children were born. A leave of absence was unprecedented and Mon Mothma was worried. She called Leia into her office to ask her about the request for time off.
"Leia, you are a disciplined worker and a loyal member of the New Republic. I have no problem granting your leave, but I did notice that you didn't put a date of return on this form."
Leia's hands twisted in her lap. "I don't know when I'll be able to return to work." Her voice nearly broke over the words.
"Is everything all right?" Mon asked, knowing the answer. She handed the trembling woman a tissue.
Leia dabbed at her eyes. "My family needs me," she said simply. Mon knew it must be so much more than that, but Leia was stubborn. She wouldn't discuss her problems until she was good and ready.
"Gods speed, Leia. We'll be here when you get back."
Leia gave her a brave smile and slipped out the door. Mon Mothma sighed and wondered when - if? - her protégé would return.
Everything feels wrong, Leia thought, sitting in Chewie's chair on the Millennium Falcon. She had flown as co-pilot a number of times for Han during their courtship and marriage, but never with Luke at the helm. She gave her brother a weak smile. "Co-pilot checks complete."
He nodded. Are you okay? Leia heard his words in her mind.
"As much as I'm going to be," she replied out loud. "Take her up."
As soon as she and Luke had set the coordinates on the hyperdrive, Leia went in search of Han. The ship wasn't that big; there weren't too many places he could hide.
It still took her awhile. She finally found him curled up in a corner of the cargo bay, sitting with his arms wrapped around his knees. "Hey," she said softly. "We're in hyperspace." She felt silly saying the words; he knew his ship well enough to know that. But she felt she had to say something. Ever since the night of their date, he had been pulling away from her. "It's about six hours to Talfaglio. I comm'ed Dr. Habib. He said he'll squeeze you in whenever we can get there."
Han nodded. "You should try to take a nap." The twins had been a handful the previous night. Leia felt relieved to know they'd be safe with Chewie and C-3PO for a night or two while she and Han were gone. Maybe she could finally get some rest. But she felt guilty for even thinking that, given the circumstances.
"I'd sleep better if you were with me," she cajoled, holding her breath.
When Han slid out of the crawl space to join her, Leia breathed deeply for the first time in days.