What's in a Hand
A/N 1:Set after "Truce at Bakura". This story also assumes Han doesn't know of Luke's new hand, or his story from Cloud City and that Luke may not be too keen on Han finding out. Also, let's assume that Luke isn't 100% over the loss of his right hand.
A/N 2:I do not own Star Wars.
Han Solo opened his eyes, wondering for a moment what had caused him to wake. He worked moisture into his mouth, covering a yawn with his hand. Han listened intently for any sounds in his cabin, though after some time he heard nothing but Leia's quiet breathing from the other bunk. Passing it off as nothing, Han snuggled back under the covers, seeking the familiar warmth of his bunk.
But something was still bothering him; preventing him from falling asleep again. With a frustrated sigh Han gave up and slid from bed, realizing he also needed to visit the refresher.
Minutes later he reemerged, feeling more refreshed, yet still sensing that something was amiss.
Maybe I had one too many ales last night. Han thought with a grimace, remembering the sabacc game he'd managed to talk everyone else into.
Leia still had a long way to go before she could play any serious games, but when she was with her family it didn't matter who was the best.
Luke, on the other hand, was a serious contender when he put his mind to it. No doubt he'd had a lot of practice during down time with the Rogues. And Han already knew Chewie was well versed in the game, though the Wookiee pretended he wasn't very good, and still managed to end up stealing the pot at the conclusion of the game.
Han had encouraged everyone to play as a way to de-stress from their time at Bakura, and it had worked for the most part. They'd all shared a few laughs and relaxed like they hadn't in a long time, although Han did recall that Luke had been acting strangely. He seemed to have been favoring his right arm, using it less than his left, and wincing every so often. Han had even heard him cover a hiss of pain with a cough once or twice.
But when Han had asked him about it after the game, the Jedi had assured him he was fine.
Han paused as he passed the galley, dark except for a small source of light. Stepping back toward the small room, he grabbed a light snack. Han then continued on to the cockpit, the place he went when he couldn't sleep while on the Millennium Falcon.
The lobby was completely dark and silent, so Han walked right on through, confident in his stride even without light: this was his ship after all.
He didn't know what made him pause, but something did. Frowning slightly, Han turned and stared into the darkness. After a moment of more silence, and nothing moving, Han made to turn again when a tiny noise spun him back around.
If he wasn't entirely certain that no one was onboard that he didn't trust implicitly, Han would've pulled his blaster. He grimaced to himself as he remembered that his trusty weapon was still in his cabin.
Han stepped to the wall and fumbled for the light. That was when he heard more rustling sounds, and his pulse quickened.
"Who's there?" he demanded.
His hand finally found the light and flicked it on, flooding the area with illumination. Han squinted, cursing his watering eyes. When they'd readjusted and cleared, Han focused again on the room, but found it empty.
Scratching his head, Han tried to figure out what in space was going on. Why would someone be playing hard-to-get?
Mentally he ticked Leia off the possibilities list of who was avoiding him. She was asleep in her bed: he knew because he'd passed her on his way out of his room. Chewie would have no reason to hide from Han, and the droids would be far too loud to be as stealthy as the person he'd nearly caught.
That left only one individual.
Han heard a door click quietly closed, and followed the Jedi to his room. Han had insisted that Luke ride in the Falcon on the way home from Bakura, and so they had tethered the X-wing to the hull.
Han arrived at the kid's door and knocked once before entering. Luke sat on the floor, just sliding his black glove in place on his right hand. He didn't look up as Han entered, but didn't ask him to leave either.
"Hey, are you alright?" Han asked.
Luke nodded once, though Han had the sense that he wasn't being entirely truthful.
"Do you still feel nauseous from those parasites?" Han pressed, remembering the slug-like pests Luke had been infected with while on their mission.
"No." Luke's voice was quiet, but there was a definite hint of discomfort there.
Concern came to Han, and he joined his little brother on the floor, leaning against the bunk. He glanced at the gloved hand, wondering why Luke only wore the one article, and not the full pair.
"Having trouble sleeping?" Luke spoke up after a moment of a somewhat companionable silence.
Han nodded. "Something like that: I was fine until something woke me up." He pursed his lips. "Maybe it was you that roused me?"
Luke looked away. "I'm sorry."
Han couldn't understand Luke's strange behavior. "What's with you tonight?"
Luke sighed and lifted his right arm. "It's been giving me trouble is all."
Han lifted an eyebrow. "Your arm?"
Luke looked at him strangely. "No, my hand."
Han started to laugh, thinking Luke was pulling his leg. Once he realized the kid wasn't joining in, he stopped.
"Oh." Han was slightly confused, and he spoke again as he scratched his head. "Ah, what's wrong with it?"
Luke studied Han intently for long seconds, making the smuggler want to squirm. When he spoke, it was with the air of a man fishing for information.
"It got hit with a blaster bolt during the rescue from Jabba's sail barge…"
Han sat up straight. "What!? Why didn't you say something?" he queried. "Is that why you wear only the one glove? You're not bleeding, so it can't be life-or death…"
He trailed off at the expression Luke now sported.
"What?" he nearly growled.
"No one told you." It wasn't a question.
A tight knot began to form in the pit of Han's stomach, the feeling he got when he knew he was about to be delivered terrible news. He swallowed.
"Nobody told me what?"
Luke looked at his hand, opened his mouth to speak and then shut it again, tucking the limb close to his body.
"Never mind." He whispered.
"Now, you can't just lead me on and then let me drop like that." Han grabbed for Luke's hand, irritated.
The Jedi jerked it back as though Han was going to bite him. "Please don't."
Han paused at the tone of Luke's voice, noting with alarm that the other man was trembling slightly. "Why not?"
Luke shook his head. "I…" he looked down, and an only then did Han catch the glint of tears in his eyes.
Han slowly withdrew his fingers, not wanting to make Luke uncomfortable. Luke offered a grateful half-smile, which faded when a small spark shot from his glove's gauntlet, making the Jedi jump.
Luke hissed, seizing his wrist. That was the final straw for Han, who snatched Luke's limb; though his action rougher than he'd intended. Luke cried out and jerked it back. The younger man's face paled, and he drew in several ragged breaths, his left hand clenching his right wrist in a white-knuckled grip.
"Luke!" Han's concern doubled as Luke seemed to get lost in his misery, his breathing continuing to deteriorate. "Hey, what's the matter?"
Han felt helpless, not knowing what was wrong and having no idea what to do for Luke. He was saved having to call for help when Leia suddenly emerged, rushing inside Luke's room and dropping in front of her twin brother.
"Luke!" she called, taking his face in her hands. "Luke, it's just a flashback!"
The Jedi opened his blue eyes, and a light sob escaped him. He started to rock just barely, until Leia gathered him to her chest. Han looked on in half bewilderment, half gratitude that Leia could get through Luke.
He sat in silence until Luke had calmed down, though he did not remove his grip on his right wrist.
"It hurts." Luke finally whimpered. "It keeps shocking me, ever since Jabba's sail barge. And… I think Palpatine's lightning made it worse, because now it's sparking and electrocuting me whenever I move it wrong." His wide eyes were riveted onto his limb. "It's like having to relive both the loss of my hand, and the Emperor's attack over and over."
Leia stroked his head tenderly. "Luke, why didn't you get it fixed?"
"I haven't had a chance to." Luke gritted as another spark zapped him.
Han could only stare in horror, feeling as though he were living a holovid. Why were there sparks coming from Luke's wrist?
The smuggler continued to stare in mute fixation.
"Han?" this time Leia nudged him with her toe. "Are you alright?"
Han wrenched his gaze up from Luke's wrist. "No, I sure as hell am not alright." He snapped out of fear for Luke. "Why is he sparking like the Falcon on a bad day?"
Luke didn't meet Han's eyes, his face turning red.
"Luke, there's nothing to be ashamed of." Leia assured him.
"I know." Luke whispered. "It's not just that, though."
His gaze shifted to Leia. "Can we have a minute please?"
"Yes." Leia stood gracefully and left.
Han's gaze had returned to Luke, and he waited with one raised brow. "Luke, what's going on?"
The Jedi took a deep breath and held out his hand to Han. "It's a prosthetic." He said softly.
Han sucked in a breath: he couldn't have heard that right. No. Luke couldn't have a prosthetic hand. But that did explain the sparks, and why Luke wore a single glove instead of the pair.
Shock flooded Han as he reached for Luke's hand again, this time gingerly. He tugged the glove off almost fearfully, the knot in his stomach turning to lead as the hole in the back of the limb indeed revealed not bone and blood, but wires and connections.
He could only stare, unable to tear his gaze from the sight, until Luke shifted self-consciously.
"How?" Han asked brokenly, unable to stop his own flow of tears now.
"I lost it on Cloud City when I dueled Vader." Luke explained softly, withdrawing his hand again to hold it to him in a very child-like manner.
Han realized Luke was waiting for Han to judge him, to ridicule him, or perhaps worse. He reached over and gently took Luke's hand back, drawing it forward once more. Luke watched as Han traced the new limb with his fingers, pausing at the place on Luke's wrist where syntheskin became flesh.
Han traced the contours of the hand, feeling the smooth skin that somehow reminded him of the teenager he'd first met. But at the same time, the loss of Luke's hand marked the loss of his innocence and the first step into true maturity.
Han finally brought the hand to his lips and planted a gentle kiss on his palm.
"It doesn't change a thing, Luke." Han reassured him. "You're still my brother, and I love you just as much as I did before."
He brought Luke into a loving embrace, kissing his head. After a moment they pulled back: hazel eyes met moist blue ones until Luke looked away in shame again.
"I'm sorry Han." Luke murmured, a few new tears escaping his control.
"For what?" Han frowned.
"I am the reason you were put into carbonite." Luke shook his head. "And when I came to help you, I only made things worse."
"No. You had no way of controlling what happened." Han assured Luke, lifting the Jedi's chin. "That was all Vader. Quit beating yourself up over what he did, Luke."
Luke swallowed, but nodded. "You're right. I'm sorry, it's just… I've had a lot on my plate… and now I have this huge burden on my shoulders." He sighed, leaning his head back. "I'm completely alone, Han. I am the only Jedi, and now they want me to resurrect the Order? All by myself, and with no guidance?"
Han pursed his lip, trying to figure out how to answer all his concerns in one try.
"Well, if you ask me, you shouldn't be so worked up about all this." He finally said. "And you're not alone: you have us, your family. We will help you where we can, you know that. Besides, who says you have to do everything right now?" he laid a hand on Luke's shoulder. "Take it all one day at a time."
Luke nodded. "I'm sorry you had to find out like this." He murmured, is own fingers slowly moving over his right hand.
"Well, the hard part's over, isn't it?" Han quipped, trying to lighten the mood.
Luke smiled. "Yeah."
"When we get back to the fleet, we'll get your hand taken care of." Han said. "And then you, Luke Skywalker, are going to take a few days to rest properly."
Luke lifted a wry brow. "That an order General?"
"Do I need to make it one, Commander Skywalker?" he returned.
Luke chuckled. "You might have to. I don't remember how to really relax anymore."
"Hm. We'll just have to fix that problem." Han informed him. Rising to his feet, Han helped Luke up as well. "Starting with you playing more sabacc."
"Sabacc is going to help me relax?" Luke sounded dubious.
"It will when you're bored halfway through day one of your down-time." Han smirked.
Luke chuckled. "Point."
Before they left the cabin, Luke drew Han into an embrace. "Thank you Han, for not judging me… again. I am lucky to have you as a brother."
Han adopted his most serious look, pulling back and planting his hands on his hips theatrically.
"In my experience, there's no such thing as luck." He mimicked Ben Kenobi's voice.
Luke kept a straight face a half-second longer than Han, and then they were both chortling as they made their way out of the cabin.