Some folks called it Underworld, others Underlevels, but most people have taken to naming the what lurks in alleyways and neon-lit, cigarette-littered streets Lower Coruscant.
Full of nameless thugs and wackados, the druggies and exploiters, as well as the unlucky souls and vermin. (And you don't come the jungle without a reason — or so Han learned from the very beginning.)
Happyland made its run as the clearly illegal brothel, disguised as run-down motel with chained-up front entrance doors. According to the gleeful rumor, it catered to many tastes and always willing to go the extra mile if paid the right amount of cold hard cash. And then, there's Rik's Catina being the local and popular bar in these parts, expensive flat-screens transmitting the races and live dancers willing to distract.
Slum districts on the furthest reaches where the neighborhoods formed their own lookouts day and night, to gain small territory, to protect their own if it came to it. ('Cause fuck-all if you didn't watch where you stepped 'round here, and ended up a nice, shiny knife-blade lodged in your gut.)
Towards the center, the Uscru District pulsed with alive with those too stupid to know to stay away, housing various high-end clubs and buildings for the wild, nighttime entertainment.
The Outlander Club, for instance — somewhere Han didn't plan on crawling back to for any of the cocaine-smudged hundreds — had been founded by Volven Roxe in this area. Owned by the Baah brothers, it was hangout for gamblers and secreted, luxury rooms for drug exchanges and smuggled goods being purchased. Crime-lords and celebrities alike took their pleasure here, and unfortunately, the innocent even got tangled up into the nastiest of its blood-soaked, shit-stained business if they weren't careful enough.
Han Solo doesn't consider himself innocent by any means, but he's watched plenty of his friends vanish, being drawn in to the splendor of Lower Coruscant like moths to a flame, and get burned out.
It's dangerous out here, and even beyond the seedy portions, there are freaks prowling, hoping to get a release for their jonesing. Han thinks he catches sight of Jariah Syn — infamous for both charming and intimidating the targets for his clients, but also to common knowledge, a world-class stalker.
From across the crowded and noisy sidewalk, Han squints his eyes.
Yep, it's definitely Jariah alright, and the asshole's got eyes for a young male completely unaware of it, strolling around with a backpack.
He can't get an ID on the fresh-faced kid — could be eighteen or nineteen-years-old, at a guess — and he's not a regular in these cities either. If the kid had been, he would have known to never carry a freakin' backpack with easy backdoor access to its zipper. The way ole Jariah is staring at him with wide, unblinking eyes and a faint leer, it's not the kid's pocket change he's probably looking to take.
It's really none of his business, and he wouldn't normally stick his neck out, but Han also hates Jariah Syn with all of his might and would enjoy the opportunity to bust his skull.
So he does follow, towards the darkened, abandoned park and the bike racks, avoiding the spectral-glow of lamplight. The air is warm and muggy, enough to dampen twin sweat-patches on Jariah's underarms. Han keeps an deliberate but good distance from him, waiting for the jackass to eventually feel out what's happening.
By the time Han reaches the park's gazebo awash with dense, ember-orange light, Jariah is nowhere to be spotted.
The kid continues walking down the pathway up ahead of Han, at a steady and untroubled pace. Han doesn't trust the little worm to have hightailed it, whether or not Jariah's realized he's been made — but just to be on the safe side, Han decides to keep his sights on the kid silently weaving his way home.
(No point in half-assing it, right?)
It's around the corner of the apartments with typically burnt red clay bricks, but Han has been living in a place built on hollow cement bricks, which is less fire-resistant, but you get what you pay for. And now the kid vanishes from Han's eyes, too.
Han stops on the sidewalk and circles in place, glimpsing for anyone around watching. The street-corner is well lit but dead quiet, no footsteps, no outside bustle or hollers, not a soul.
It isn't until Han loses his focus and runs to that street corner… that he realizes he's walked right into a trap. A fist suddenly crashes against Han's nose and face, reeling him sideways with the impact, grabbing for a trashcan. He's a little too surprised to be yelling or curse from the pain.
The kid glares, clutching his fist to himself.
"Why are you following me?!" he demands, his voice booming and echoing into the night-shadows.
Han lets go of the steel trashcan's lid, feeling his eyes water. He doubles over, cupping at his nose. Fresh, hot blood drips out of his nostrils. "Fuck, kid — I'm not following you!" Han shouts.
"Yeah, okay, pal." A dry, sarcastic chuckle. "How about you explain it to the cops when — Han?"
He's bleeding, sure, but Han doesn't miss the familiarity or amazement in the kid's tone. One real look at him, and it feels like a bunch of missing pieces are finally slotting together in Han's mind.
"… you gotta be shitting me right now," Han groans out, closing his eyes.
"Is it seriously you? Oh my god!" Luke's mouth opens, grinning and then most of his excitement falters, after staring at the stark, crimson fluid between Han's fingers. "Oh, god. Han — I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he says, babbling and clasping Han's elbow. "Hold on, let me get my key — shit —"
All things considered, this is pretty much better than a nice, shiny knife-blade in his gut.
The apartment's kitchen is fairly clean but tiny, cramping them as Han maneuvers himself and leans towards the sink.
Blood collects there as it falls, instead of splattering down to his grey shirt.
Luke has already pulled out the dirty dishes, piling them on the counter, and then emerging with the first aid kit. He frantically digs around antiseptic packs and Band-Aids, before Han gets fed up and barks out for him to find a cold, wet cloth and ice-pack. Several minutes later, Han manages to wipe away the crusting mess off his beard and mouth, hissing an exhale when he gingerly presses the ice-pack to his nose.
"Doesn't look broken," Luke observes, trying to sound hopeful.
"It isn't," Han says, grumbling.
He would know — had broken it more than once. Last time happened about eleven months ago, courtesy of one of the "nephews" of the Black Sun organization when Han stepped between him and a frightened, transgender sex worker right outside of Happyland. (Happy endings, they were unharmed, and as far as Han knew, the sex worker was no longer there at Happyland but gladly skipped town. Good on them.)
"Got a decent right hook on ya though," Han adds offhandedly, backing towards the polished kitchen counter. He can't see him but Luke simpers a little, washing Han's blood off his fingers into the sink.
"… Have I said how sorry I am yet?"
A burst of unexpected anger floods into Han's chest.
"Luke fuckin' Skywalker, just what the hell were you doing alone out in these parts at night?" he snaps. "What, were you planning on getting mugged?"
"I just moved!"
"Here? To Lower Coruscant?" Han peers at him, lowering the icepack. He frowns. "Are you outta your mind, kid?" There's no damn way anyone would willingly move to this crap-heap of an urban—
"No…?" Luke gives him a brief, confused laugh, tilting his head. "I'm going to the university in Upper Coruscant — Leia's going, too. We each got one of the academic scholarships."
Which means they weren't in the shady side of town. Han remembers passing by the Fobosi District on the way in: famous for the premier learning institution and museums and botanical gardens and expensive restaurants.
"Shouldn't you be in the dorms with her?"
"Mine doesn't pay for everything. She's the one with the full ride." Luke tries to mask his bitterness, unsuccessfully as Han picks up on it quickly, in Luke's voice and how his eyebrows scrunch. "There's cheaper housing out here with roommates — I didn't think it was a big deal or anything."
This neighborhood may not be in the heart of the Underground, but it's still too close. Instead of arguing the matter, Han clears his throat. He puts the ice-pack back on his nose, jaw clenching.
"What'cha going for?"
"Engineering right now." Luke air-dries his hands, waving absently, his green-and-black plaid sleeves rolled up. "Been thinking about Aeronautics or Astronautics," he says, conversationally. "Possibly both."
Han feels the corners of his lips upturn. God, he can't help but mock the little nerd.
"So that's it, huh — you gonna be a spaceman one day?"
Luke shrugs, chuckling. He avoids eye contact and Han has not seen anyone smile so genuinely and so much in their lives. Not to his recent memories. "Hey, don't knock it until you try it, right?"
"Boy howdy, look at you," Han gestures onehanded, far too amused. "Last time I saw you, kid, you were some snot-nose brat in middle school. Couldn't even get a date for your lousy school dance."
"And you were some hotshot senior trying to flirt with his fifth period English teacher."
Even at the semi-cutting retort, Han makes a pleased, contemplative noise. "That's right… Mr. Rieekan," he recalls with a touch of misplaced fondness. "The man had a way with words, let me tell you."
"Please, don't," Luke mutters under his breath, rolling his eyes. He gathers up the supplies from first aid kit, jamming them back in with haphazard motions and turns around, accidentally bumping into Han's side. "And once again, you're taller than me," he says as if this was all Han's fault.
"Some things just don't change," Han comments, moving aside with enough space as Luke dutifully steps around him. He lets go of the annoyingly persistent urge to ruffle Luke's hair, due to the amount of blood still tacked on the surface of Han's skin. It's probably better not to.
"Yeah, like you getting blood on my clothes!" trickles in from the hallway, Luke's voice shouting.
That had been a good chunk of their playground years, Han realizes — getting into fights with bullies, and sometimes with each other when things got hairy enough. Luke was easy prey as a little kid, too-small for his age and a deeply sensitive kid. He wore his emotions on his sleeve, cried and lost his temper, but Luke was a good kid. He would put others before himself always, defended those weaker than him.
He's too good for any part of Coruscant that's for sure.
Placing down the warmed ice-pack, Han washes the dirtied mess off his hands, the soapy water swirling pink. He dabs his nose again with the cold cloth, grateful for the slowed blood-flow out of his nostrils.
Luke returns from the hallway, nudging him for attention. He holds out a baggy t-shirt. "Should fit you if you wanna change," Luke announces, and Han is having a difficult time concentrating seeing as the other man is topless from the bellybutton up, and when the ever-loving hell did Luke get muscles?
"Han… you okay?" he asks uncertainly, brow furrowing.
Han blinks, shaking his head as if coming out of a trance.
Oh, no, no — he most certainly is not okay with getting a chub from Luke Skywalker. Not from the appearance of his narrow, sinewy torso and darkest golden hair trailing up Luke's sternum, or those little, pink nipples, or his mole-dusted, broadened shoulders tensing up.
"Yeah, great," Han says dully, fumbling to pull off his crimson-speckled, deep V-neck shirt. He practically rushes back to the apartment door before hearing the other man speak up again.
"Han?" Luke peeks out from the kitchen, smiling very faint but eager. "Come by — um, the university, I mean," he corrects himself, dropping his eyes on the floor. "Leia would wanna see you, too. I know it."
"I'll do that," passes thoughtlessly from Han's lips. He vaguely remembers the screaming matches between himself and Leia, so Han almost doubts the validity in that. But it's worth seeing the kid light up.
As the front door clicks shut, Luke slams his forehead repeatedly against the door-frame.
Oh, god— what is he doing?
Luke had no goddamn idea that — Han freakin' Solo — was living anywhere near here. Not only that, but Han would even recognize him after so long! They haven't seen each other or talked since… Luke and his twin sister had been twelve or thirteen-years-old, he thinks after a long moment.
He goes to his door, locking it securely, and then thumping his hands to the peeling-painted wood.
It's to be expected, but Han looks so much older — in the best way possible. He looks strong as hell, Han's arms visibly bulging when he moves them and every inch networked with veins. Luke definitely noticed the winding, inky-black tattoo over Han's left side and up his rib-cage.
Luke skips dinner, thankful for the solitude in the apartment, and yanks on a long, cotton-tee. His roommate said he would be out all night, and Luke utilizes the privacy, flipping on the television.
He mindlessly flips the channels, feeling no more at ease than before, and flips it off, tossing the remote. After brushing his teeth, Luke flops face-first onto his bed, releasing a low, irritated sound.
God, he's still attracted to Han — this is ridiculous. It's been years and feeling like centuries since Han and his shaggy, dark hair and crude jokes. Or those red, chewed-on lips Luke's eyes often found himself getting memorized over, when he daydreamed the soft, wet press against his own mouth.
That's a good place to start… Han's mouth roaming over his neck and jaw, he imagines. Without Luke's overstretched, fleece sweatshirt or the V-neck revealing Han's collarbones. It tastes like wet, hot silk where Luke's tongue circles fast around the head of Han's cock, before sliding down a cord of vein.
Outside the quickly developing fantasy, eyes shutting, Luke unbuttons his jeans and wiggles out, going up on his knees. His underwear already tenting and he lies on his back, pulling it out of the way.
He's sucked off a couple guys in the past year, knows where to tease, to read the signs before an orgasm if he's concentrating. Luke knows to listen for that hitch of their breathing, his lips instinctively clamping down and swallowing the faint, pulsing tremors as they came down his throat. Semen has to be an acquired palate, a very drunk Biggs told him once as juniors — and Luke has to agree.
Mmhm — he imagines he could learn it over again for Han.
Luke groans out, fingering his balls and tugging insistently. At the same time, he reaches with his dominant hand for the base of his cock.
Han is built like the kind of guy to hold Luke down without relenting a single inch, bigger than him in all senses. And it's fantastic. He would whisper the filthy nothings in Luke's ear, while pounding him into the mattress, bouncing and jarring their hips together with the slick motions.
And, right when Luke needs to come so bad it physically hurts, Han would drag out each new thrust too-slow, planting tiny, pseudo-devoted kisses to the underside of Luke's chin, smirking.
By the time Luke's reality settles back, he strokes himself to completion, his own cock a brutal red. His bottom lips drags over his teeth as Luke tries to calm his panting, immediately letting go of himself.
Fuck, he's hopeless.
It's a little bit after sunrise when Han tumbles into the sheets with an old companion.
She's the ideal source of heat with her round, naked breasts pressing up so tightly to Han's chest.
It's not an arrangement to express love — it's mutual benefit, and she's getting it off just as good as him, moaning and quivering against him at the jerking pushes into her body. He doesn't bother kissing her, because she hasn't given him permission, and because he's not in the mood.
Han's mind wanders back to Luke at mid-thrust, her fluids gratuitously drenching the lubricated condom around his cock-shaft.
Luke, and his stupid, prismatic-green backpack, like a goddamn beacon of destiny. The freckles, light and brown, scattered on his farmboy tan — and he looks different while staying the same. Luke's face still boyish but firmed up. His hair still golden-brown but no longer in the unflattering bowl-cut from his aunt. It's actually a decent length this time and curling behind Luke's ears.
He's gorgeous in every textbook definition Han has, and even without the shirtless aspect from earlier on. Han can't just invade Luke's life, and consider taking him for a night out and bringing him back to this bed — it's seen too many persons, too many of Han's faults and holds too many secrets.
Luke may not even feel a spark towards him.
The possibility grounds Han, and to this beautiful woman riding Han's cock like her life depends on it. He buries his fingers into her long, reddish-gold hair and watches her sherbet-colored nails drag his sides.
Bria Tharen weighs under ninety pounds, rail-thin and with a overly pale complexion. Her fingers and wrists numerously scarred from the use of glitterstim — a drug popular in the Underworld. She's promised quitting, and Han believes her. She deserves better than a permanent, grievous addiction, and better than him, for sure. But he can give her one less night alone, at the very least.
Her vaginal lips stretch wide, glistening and deep pink, as she raises herself up, almost off Han's cockhead. He grabs Bria's hips and lowers her with a rough, upwards thrust and a loud grunt. "Where do you think you're going?" Han asks, half-grinning when she lets out a breathy, short laugh.
It's a couple more minutes before her walls clench up, fluttering. Han fills up the condom, rolling himself steady beneath her, cupping her buttocks and pinching down, earning him a swat on his clavicle.
"Got somewhere to be," she tells him, easing off Han's dick until it flops to his belly and swinging her leg over him.
Bria hops off the bed, snatching the towel hanging on the back of a chair. She wipes herself out gently as Han slips off his plain-looking condom, tying off its end and depositing it into a bin. "Thanks for calling me, baby boy," Bria murmurs, leaning into his space and eyeing him for a reaction.
At the barely-there nod from him, she leaves a moist but soft kiss on Han's temple. Bria pulls on her denim, ripped shorts, shoving her vanilla-white, satiny panties into her back-pocket. There's no bra anywhere in sight, and she seems to dismiss the hunt for them, throwing back on her loose, sports jersey.
On her way out, she collides into Lando, stumbling and gasping while slipping on her five-inch heels.
"Oh! Sorry about that, dollface," he says, turning on his infamous 'I adore you and everything about you' smile reserved for his favorite people. Bria giggles, peeking up shyly through her eyelashes, as Lando rubs her upper shoulders. "This is a shame! If I had know you were around, I would have made egg whites."
"It's okay," she says reassuringly, unconsciously playing with a lock of her tousled hair. Lando waves cheerfully to her as Bria exits the apartment, glancing sideways to him. "Bye, bye, Lando."
Han busies himself with yanking on drawstring pants when the other man says, "Alright, man — what's up?" He stares silent and bemused at a incredibly grim-faced Lando. "The only time I see Bria leaving your bedroom is when things go sour," Lando says, crossing his arms. "… Did you get a call from Hutt?"
"No, I haven't," Han admits. He wouldn't be here if that was the case — he would on the next bus out. "I, uh, met up with a kid I used to know last night. He's not a kid anymore, he's, uh…"
The obvious stammering raises both of Lando's eyebrows.
"You're not serious—holy shit, you are," he announces, going bug-eyed with shock but positively delighted. "Oh my god — Mister Heartbreaker Solo himself capable of being saddled with a schoolboy crush?"
Han waves a finger, stabbing it angrily in his direction.
"I do not—!" he yells.
"This is truly a tragedy in the making, my friend." Lando uncrosses his arms, coming into Han's bedroom, and Han wants to wipe the goddamn smirk out of existence. "But you did fuck him, didn't you?"
"My lord, no. What's his name? Tell me you at least got to put the mack on him—"
"—you need to shut the fuck up," Han says, not longer yelling at him but his voice low and venomous.
"What? Do I get to know who is? Is he shy, little thing — raised by homophobic parents?" Lando gapes at him, taking in Han's darkening, twitching features. "Or do you want it to be special?"
He avoids the pillow violently flung at his head. Lando bellows out his laughter, head thrown back. It vanishes out of the bedroom as Han growls exasperated to himself, running his hands over his face. He regrets it, accidentally putting pressure on his bruising nose, yelping out a little and swearing.
This is hell, isn't it?
Every other two weeks, they meet up as a group at a local pub restaurant.
Han invites Lando with him under the promise that he will not embarrass anyone but especially Han, and Luke invites along Leia.
He expected Leia's skepticism the first time they saw each other again, but not the fierce, warm embrace she wraps Han in. "You should have called us, you idiot," Leia mumbles into his shirt, as if sulking.
Han's mouth quirks.
"Forgive me, your Highness," he says dramatically, cackling when she punches his right arm.
It's always small talk over mega-sized pizza slices and roast beef sandwiches and pitchers of Coke, about how Luke or Leia's university studies are going, or Han's factory job, or Lando's outlandish tales about Europe and New Zealand which gets the most hilarious expressions, or just reminiscing about the past.
After two months, Leia invites along her girlfriend — a freshman named Evaan Verlaine, pretty and blonde — and she fits in comfortably with them, not afraid to be dryly sarcastic and Han actually likes her.
He and Luke never get a moment to themselves. Which is probably better that way. Han doubts he'll ever find a reason to not be single. Luke would eventually find himself a nice person his age to date…
It's close to the holiday weekend, flocked with baubles and colorful streamers and metallic ornaments, when they all meet up again. Same place on the corner of Temple St. and Guard Rd., and the same triple-biggie pitcher of icy Coke — but, they change up what they eat. Evaan orders the chef salad and asks for no ham, Lando with his mushrooms and swiss burger, Han with a gigantic mound of spaghetti and meatballs.
And then, there's the Skywalkers. Han doesn't think they've noticed, but Luke and Leia order the exact same food without even telling each other. This time, it's a chicken B.L.T. wrap with spicy ranch sauce.
Lando takes a wolfing bite of his meal, swallowing it down.
"So you're twins, right?" he asks.
Han grimaces as Luke and Leia glance up in near perfect sync, lifting their chins and narrowing their eyes.
"Brilliant observation," Evaan says, flatly. "It's only come up about twenty times already."
"I can't help it — that's so fascinating. Makes me wish I had one."
Leia's forehead wrinkles. "This isn't a circus, dumbass — so if you're going to keep staring at me, I better be getting paid," she retorts, flicking a bit of dried, browned lettuce across the greasy table.
"Same here," Luke mutters.
He coughs on his mouthful of BLT, full of phlegm and noisy, chewing after another moment. Han waits until he's finished before pointing out, "That cough doesn't sound so good, kid. How long you been sick for?"
Luke makes a face, nose wrinkling.
"I'm fine. Just got something caught in my throat."
"Oh no, he's definitely getting sick," Leia speaks up primly, sipping on her glass of Coke. "He just won't admit it." Evaan hides a snorting laugh into her forearm as Luke glares semi-betrayed at his sister.
Luke's cellphone vibrates on the pub's table, interrupting them.
He pulls it out of everyone's view, clicking it open and stifling another body-shaking cough. "I gotta head out," Luke announces, staring down at his lap and groaning to himself.
Han's curiosity heightens.
"What's the rush, junior?"
Luke frowns, exposing his gritting teeth. "My roommate locked himself out," he explains.
"Again?" Leia practically shouts this, making an offended sound through her parted, glossy lips. "That's the fourth time this week and it's not even Wednesday."
"He's probably doped up or trashed." Luke then adds with a hint of dread, "Or… both, if I'm lucky." He picks up his full, heavy backpack — that goddamn backpack — and Han finds himself ready to stand.
"Need a ride there?" he offers.
Lando grabs Han's jacket-sleeve. "On what?" he whispers, amused. "You sold your ride last month."
"That was the motorcycle — I still got The Falcon," Han whispers back, urgently.
"… That you didn't bring."
With another rattling cough, Luke adjusts his book-bag, slinging it clumsily over a shoulder. "I'll see you guys later," he calls out, smiling thinly and walking out into the misty, humid rain-shower.
Han doesn't know what later means, but he hopes to god it's not another two weeks.
I've got a bad feeling about this.
"Took you fuckin' long enough, buddy boy."
Luke's headache strains between his eyes. His roommate outright stares at him with those beady eyes, holding up his wristwatch into Luke's face and tapping it with malicious intent.
"Yeah, the bus was running slow — sorry," Luke says quietly, unlocking the apartment door.
"Always got an excuse, huh?"
His much older roommate goes in first, knocking purposefully into Luke's arm and sending him wobbling slightly backwards. Luke ignores him, coughing again. There's this stinging chill prodding inside him, ever since Luke climbed up the apartment stairs and he's not thrilled by the probability of being sick.
He sets down his backpack on a nearby stool, checking the fridge for any bottles of water. None. Not even the gallon of milk from last week, or his frozen dinners Luke was saving for cramming during the weekend.
The pantry looks less inviting — nothing but dust and an outdated can of soup.
"Guess I'm getting more groceries…"
"If you're going out—" His roommate gestures for Luke's palm, handing him four crumpled dollars. "—get me some smokes, too. Doesn't matter what. You can keep the change."
Cigarette packs alone ran around seven to eight dollars, not four dollars, and he goddamn knows it. Luke reluctantly lets it go this time, pulling on a lightweight jacket.
Just this one last time.
By the time Luke gets back, the den is visibly smoky and reeks like cheap weed.
"These are shit — jesus fucking christ," his roommate hollers at the top of his lungs, seizing up the pack of cigarettes anyway and then the entire, unopened box of Reese's Puffs.
As he disappears into the next room, Luke carefully shrugs off his jacket, wincing at the sudden, all-over body ache pinging through him.
"Of course they are," he mutters to no one particular, between his coughs.
His cellphone vibrates on the kitchen counter, and Luke peers over at it. He grins widely at Han's photo ID — a selfie with the pair of them, Han's first two fingers making bunny ears behind Luke's head.
Luke picks up, cradling the phone to his ear as he strolls the den. "Hey…"
"Hey, kid… you doing good?"
He forces open a window by the balcony, letting the horrific stench of his roommate's weed filter out.
"Mmhm, lovely," Luke says with wholehearted and undisguised sarcasm. He rubs the bridge of his nose, hoping to soothe the continuous throbbing of a roaring headache. "Ran out of food, but now we're stocked."
"You ever need a break from where you are, I can come get'cha. I got your address now, remember?"
Luke pretends to hum thoughtfully, trying to not grin any harder or risk straining his facial muscles. "Tempting, but… I got a calculus exam on Thursday, and then the physics exam on Friday. Rain check?"
"Call me anytime."
For a minute, Luke feels like crying. Han's sincerity and concern is so unlike the bigger kid he remembers — a pompous, smug teenager who got into hot water and was never sorry about a damn thing.
Luke hadn't exactly been a joy to be around as a little kid, overly clingy and at times whiny. It gave Han a bad rep. But, Han still would stick up for him during the bullying, even in high school.
"… Thanks, Han."
A faraway tinny of a laugh.
"Don't mention it, kid."
The chills gets worse.
He's beginning to think Leia's right about the sick thing, combining it with increased shivering and the fact he's feeling weak and tired, but Luke can't afford to flunk the exams. He thinks about grabbing a bottle of water, but Luke remains on the downstairs couch, tugging a wool blanket closer.
It's too scratchy and irritating. His ears roar a little and his heartbeat pounds like mad. Luke wipes his eyes and face, blinking down and forcing his eyes to land his calculus book.
The bold, black text melts off the pages, leaking and dribbling onto Luke's pajama pants.
He gasps in a low, open-mouthed horror, pushing away the textbook off his lap. The world spins faster and faster as Luke stares up, his hands grasping the sides of his agony-throbbing head.
His eyes flutter shut, and there's a long, murky tunnel inside his mind — red and blue lights clashing and sparking brightly behind his eyelids, getting noisier as their humming grows ferocious and closer.
Luke moans and heaves himself towards the floor, puking up his very last meal.
He doesn't know how long it's been, but his mouth feels bone-dry, throat sore and swollen. Luke's disorientated as his roommate appears in front of him — he's talking, but it's fuzzy in Luke's ears.
"— look like a pile of shit ran over twice —"
Panic floods into Luke's senses, burning up his chest cavity.
"Help me…" he begs hoarsely, reaching out. His breathing shuddering and coughing. "Please…"
"Are you serious, man?"
"Please, I don't wanna die…"
His roommate laughs either in disbelief or flat-out cruelty, avoiding Luke's fingers and then kicking him square in the chest as the other man lurches. "Get the fuck off me, you freak — I'm out of here!"
It's when the front door has been locked that Luke realizes he's not getting out of this.
Shivering harder, he rummages around his things for his cellphone, discovering it's nowhere near him. Luke peers up towards the kitchen counter. Standing in the way of it is a tall, dark, metal-gleaming figure. A dark cape billows around its feet as the figure marches to Luke, holding a long, red, glowing beam of light.
He's not here.
Luke repeats this to himself, gagging through his choking inhales. The dark figure closes in wordlessly.
I'm dreaming, he's — he's NOT here.
The heat coming off the red beam is to the point of scorching-hot, all the way down to Luke's bones.
I'm gonna die.
As the dark figure slashes his weapon down on him, Luke howls out a scream.
"Kid!" There's sounds and banging outside of the hallucination, and then, there's a pair of hands on him. "Luke! Luke, it's me!"
Luke gestures frantically over Han's shoulder, eyes bugging out.
It's too much effort and he dry-wrenches violently, not enough in his stomach to even bring up warm spittle. Han rubs the length of his back as Luke bends over himself, his dizzying, body-shaking coughing renewed.
"You're going to be okay, shh," Han tells him, squeezing Luke's forearm comfortingly as the other man bursts into tears weakly, quivering in place. "Hang on tight to me — I'm getting you help."
He doesn't mean to cry, but in the chaos of his overheating, fevered existence, Luke's relieved.
Muscular arms lock securely around Luke's body, lifting him up, and that's when things go eerily black.
It hs been the worst thirty minutes of Han's life.
Luke becomes unresponsive to his own name, slipping in and out of consciousness in the passenger seat. He looks and smells disgusting— a combination of Luke's sweat and the vomit, but this shouldn't have happened.
Han broke at least three traffic laws on the way to the hospital. He barreled The Falcon — lovingly nicknamed for the elaborate paint-job on the hood Han did himself — into the main entrance parkway of the ER.
As soon as the doctors and nurses get Luke on a gurney, he starts convulsing, eyeballs rolling to the back of his skull. Orders bark out. Luke's hand pulls out of Han's. That's it for him in that moment — if Luke dies here, there would be no goddamn force on Earth to stop Han from raising hell.
In the waiting room, Han locates a row of empty chairs and slouches into the far middle one. His hands curl together, elbows propped up, and his head bowing against his thumbs.
This shouldn't have happened.
"I didn't know you were the praying kind."
Han glances up, peeking out of the corners of his eyes. Leia — with her double bun up-do coming apart, her expensive-looking blouse's buttons mismatched — her lips trembling apart despite the rigid expression. He doesn't know when she got in or when she got Han's message, or if she talked to the doctors already.
But, Han is sure as anything she's barely holding it together. Just like him.
Before he can think of doing anything, she drops into the seat beside him, face contorting as Leia sobs out an exhale.
"I can feel it now…" she says, tears streaming down her rosy-flushed cheeks. Han slips an arm around her, feeling her lean into him. "He's in pain, and… I can't do anything…"
Han knew vaguely about that — she and Luke's twin telepathy. He never took it seriously, not as a kid; but back in the day, they supposedly could feel when the other was in trouble or hurt. Luke knew the exact moment when Leia broke her foot, back in grade school. Or when Luke got himself lost in the woods while exploring — she was able to find him seventeen miles out, long before the rescue team could.
"We're not gonna leave him," Han says, letting absolution permeate his tone. "I'm not leaving either of you, you got it? Not again."
Leia stares him in the face, as if wonder-struck, moisture clinging to her eyelashes. For once, she looks vulnerable and Han somewhat hates it on her.
Her little, brown eyes as a young girl, always gazing up with defiance and glimmering with unshed tears — because she endured the same unpleasant treatment as Luke, as the rumors of being orphans spread.
She acts like the stronger one, because Leia believed she had to be, and for Luke — and he admires that so much about her. Han cups the back of Leia's head, pressing his mouth gently to her forehead. He says nothing as Leia sniffles and suddenly clings to him, her hands digging into the back of Han's leather jacket.
Evaan shows up after a couple hours, as her girlfriend rushes into a protective, tightening hug. She kisses Leia's mouth and her face, stroking coils of soft, brown hair and Leia's shoulders, whispering reassurances.
She nods to Han who nods back, getting up on his feet.
Luke's been stabilized, deemed fully coherent and available for visitations, and it's his turn to see him. The room is blank, white walls and sunny minus the hospital cot with Luke in it and whirring machines.
He tries to sit up as soon as Han enters, Luke's nostrils flaring around the attached nasal cannula.
"Yeah, don't bother with that — hey. Lay back down or they'll get a nurse," Han insists, waiting until Luke obeys before finally taking a seat in a steel folding chair. "I'm only getting 20 minutes with ya."
"Did they try to make… you wear the protective gown?"
"And the gloves that come with 'em," Han says, teasingly. "Said I'd keep my hands to myself."
Hilariously enough, this gets Luke's mouth perking up into a smile. His golden-brown hair is damp and limp, and Luke's skin unnaturally pasty. His eyes tinged with red blood-vessels, but hell, he's just the sight Han needed to see. If he was daring enough, Han could kiss those nasty, badly chapped lips of his.
Luke's voice cracks, drowsy, "Remember when… I got my tonsils out?"
"Yeah — you ended up in emergency surgery, didn't you?" Luke had only been ten and it had been some big deal for the adults. Han remembers chasing Leia around the hallways, ducking the hospital attendants and flicking rubber-bands and being bored until he saw the little twerp, and then feeling excited.
"You stole my ice cream," Luke says candidly, but not without his faint smile.
Han waves his hands out with mock-interest, looking around the hospital room at all directions. "Well, looks like there's none here for me to take. How about that?" he announces, hardly keeping from grinning.
"You can't have my ice cream ever again…"
Han squares himself, dangling his hands between his opened knees. "What the hell happened, Luke?" he asks, whispering as one of the male nurses peer in on them, and then goes on his way, pushing a rattling cart.
Luke squints his eyes, as he explains it slowly, "It's kinda blurry? Like it wasn't really happening? Think I was having nightmares while I was awake." Luke's fingers raise up, brushing against his throat absently. "I knew something was wrong, and… then I couldn't breath and started panicking. My roommate…"
"I didn't see him there. Where was he?"
Luke goes tight-lipped, jaw clenching.
"He, um, left me there," he says stiffly, looking down at his papery, baby-blue hospital gown. "I thought I was… gonna die, and he laughed and kicked me. Locked the door."
Han cocks his head, his voice revealing nothing but soft astonishment, "He did… what?"
He grips onto Luke's shoulder firmly, interrupting with a huge, unassuming smile, "You know what, let's focus on you getting better." The other man examines Han's expression masking something, nodding.
Leia peeks in.
"Time's up, Han," she says, eyeing Han's fingers clutching onto Luke.
He lets go.
"We'll talk about this later — I'll see you tomorrow, kid."
" … Okay."
It takes every inch of willpower for Han to avoid storming out, as Leia watches him go in mild suspicion.
It's a goddamn shame he's back on the nicotine habit, Han considers.
He fishes out the brand-new pack from his jacket pocket, slapping it against his palm. Luke's apartment door is shattered apart from the frame, splintering wood — courtesy of his earlier heroics, as Lando declared. On his way in for Luke, Han knocked over a plugged-in lamp and apparently shattered that as well.
Luke's roommate jolts, looking up from his muttering, hurried packing inside the den.
"Wouldn't happen to have a lighter, would ya?" Han asks from the corridor, mumbling around his cigarette.
There's no recognition or obvious malice in the other man's eyes about him — not that Han suspected Luke would have told his roommate about his friends, past or present.
"Got an extra smoke?"
With a disinterested look, Han tosses him the entire pack, which the roommate greedily accepts, whipping out his bright yellow lighter. He lights up, taking a long, luxurious drag of the premium tobacco before Han clears his throat, coming inside and drumming his fingers impatiently to the door-frame.
"Oh, sorry. Here."
Han easily catches the lighter despite the fumbling throw, removing the cigarette from his lips. The tip burns red-hot as he inhales a little, tossing the lighter on the nearby counter.
The roommate gestures between them with the pack, but with uncertainty. "Uh, you want…?"
"Keep it," Han says, lowering his cigarette, this time sounding a little more friendly. "I'm try'na quit."
"Ain't those the breaks?"
Han licks his lips, taking another step in. It's a little too humid for the extra layers, but his leather jacket doesn't ruin easily, and black clothes in general are better at covering… possible stains.
"You seem a little jumpy there, partner."
The roommate belts out a noisy, sarcastic laugh, putting his own cigarette to his bulgy lips again. "Some motherfuckin' douchebag broke down my door," he says. "You wouldn't happen to know the maintenance guy? 'Cause it's gotta to be fixed, before some dirty-ass hobo tries to turn into their own pad."
"Looks like you aren't living by yourself… where's he? Or she?"
"No idea — who cares? He was crying like a little bitch about being sick, last I heard." It's a offhanded remark, and the other man doesn't notice as Han smirks noticeably and approaches him a little faster. "Seriously though, the guy is a twink and a half — trust me, you would hate him too — AAH!"
Han grabs him by the collar of his shirt, hauling him upright and slamming him against the brick wall. He may not look it but there's a rage-inferno brewing in Han's blood — and he was just hoping for an excuse—
"Now we're gonna have a calm and civilized conversation, you and me," Han says, pretending to act disappointed. He unclenches his teeth from his crumbling, still-lit cigarette, keeping it in his left hand. "And we're gonna leave out words like twink and bitch during it, understand me?"
The roommate's face becomes a mottled reddish color, from his fury and terror. He begins thrashing wildly.
"What the FUCK are you doing, man—?"
With a dark-leather, gloved hand, Han grabs at the man's neck, right up under his jaw. Han's fingers tighten while pressing upwards.
The roommate begins making distressed, choking sounds, his arms dropping helplessly.
"Do you… understand me?" Han repeats monotonously, observing the other man incline his head. He flashes him a savage-sharp grin. "That's a good boy… that's what I wanna see from you. Normally, I wouldn't bother with all this — y'know, torture and intimidation isn't really what I'm hired to do anymore. I have a nice, hard-working job now, and I like it. Keeps me out of trouble." Han offers out his cigarette to the other man who flinches. When he doesn't take it, Han shrugs, taking another drag.
"I'm guessing you don't encounter your fair share of trouble," he adds, pointedly, keeping his hand where it is and no longer applying more hard pressure. "If you ask me… you're gonna be better off that way."
"… Who are you?"
Han lets a trickle of smoke emerge from his lips, blowing directly into the roommate's face.
"Nobody you ever wanna come across the likes of again." Han's fingers squeeze up again, wringing another yelping, choking sound. "I've seen little shits like you with their bowels sprayed all over the alleyways, because they got too cocky. Because they thought they were top dog material and ran the show, and guess what — you are the lowest on the food chain where I come from."
He moves in closer than before, Han's teeth baring out in the open through his grin, and hisses out the next sentence. "The Underworld would chew you up, and spit you out back out gutless — but I wouldn't let that happen." Han lets out a hot, breathy chuckle against the roommate's ear. "No, I would leave you there, buried neck-deep, so those hobos you're so worried about could piss on you, day in and day out—"
The roommate suddenly gains his wits back, elbowing him.
Han anticipates it, jerking out of the way. He jams his fingers between the other man's shoulder and collarbone, hitting the pressure point. The other man gasps out winded and collapses halfway into the den's coffee table, but still fully conscious.
Han scratches at his nose, as if only the teeniest bit annoyed. God, really?
After pacing, he gives into one more inhale before dropping to a squat over the roommate. "I don't wanna see or hear about you coming near Luke — in fact, I don't wanna see you. Anywhere. At any time. Period." Han flicks what remains of his cigarette at the other man's shocked, pain-wracked face.
"Thanks for listening…"
"He transferred?" Leia says with some distrust.
"That's Wedge says." Luke bends to tie a shoelace, adding with a deep scowl, "Whatever, good riddance." As he vanishes to the front desk to sign out, she glances over her chic sunglasses at their smug-looking companion.
"What did you do, Han?"
He mock-gapes at her, eyes widening, pressing his bare, tanned hands to his chest.
"… I've got no idea what your talking about, sister."
Leia cocks an eyebrow, but she gives him a half-smile anyway. "As long as you're not getting arrested, I guess…" Luke returns to them, already in his fresh change of clothes Leia provided.
"You ready, kid?" Han says, "By the way, Lando and I moved your stuff into our place."
"Hey, don't argue — you don't have anywhere to live and you can't afford to board alone, right?" He laughs at Luke's ever-so-slight pout. "And, do you really want to live your sister?"
That rightfully earns him the arm-punch from Leia.
To be honest, as much as he loves her, Luke doesn't wanna live with his twin and her girlfriend.
But, staying with Han begins feeling complicated.
Recovering from influenza and out of hospitalization comes with a territory, and Luke's exams thankfully do not suffer, due to his "condition" and the makeup exams. On top of that, Han's being a gentleman and taking Luke's air mattress for a few nights, until Luke overhears about Han's back problems.
"You keep at this and you'll be the one in the hospital next," he says, motioning with the butter knife.
Han walks around Luke's chair, snatching up the burnt toast and ripping a large, hearty chunk into his mouth.
"I'm sleeping on the air mattress — get over it, kid."
"No, you're not."
"Fine — how about you take my bed and I'll take Lando's? He works evenings." Han stares down at him, as Luke stirs his oatmeal with brooding silence. "Or did you want to share a bed with me?" he says amused.
"No," Luke says defensively, refusing to look up and hunching down in his kitchen chair.
As circumstances go, Lando comes home every night this week, and nobody can agree on what to do about the arrangement. (Luke immediately turns down Lando's offer to bed with him, but secretly loved the flabbergasted look on Han, as well as the stammering and Han's cheeks darkening in color.)
He crashes early, just before midnight, opting out of the late studying.
Luke snuggles down under his blanket from the apartment, as well as a pillow, and Han's bed smells like gingery body-wash and Han's cologne. Without curtains over the opened bedroom window, the piercing quality of the streetlights filter in.
When the mattress dents with new weight, Luke peers over, rolling onto his opposite side.
"Don't mind me," Han murmurs, stripped down to a ultra-white tank and his boxers. He takes the empty spot, flopping onto his back. "Gonna try and get some shuteye, if that's alright."
Luke mumbles, feeling a little bashful, "It's your bed…"
He doesn't want to call it inevitable, or something's utterly stupid like destiny. But even attempting to keep their distance, Luke finds himself drifting in — gravitating towards Han's warmth.
When he feels Han's fingers exploring over his, he instinctively jerks from the careful, gentle touch.
"I'm not gonna hurt ya…"
Luke nods solemnly, frustration wrinkling his brow. "I know," he says. "I know. It's… trusting you that scares me." At the dejected, grumbling noise from Han, Luke insists, "Wait, no — I didn't mean —"
"Mind explaining then?"
"You… it's like this is too good to true, Han!" Luke doesn't mean to raise his voice, but he's losing his patience fast. "You broke down the freakin' door like a big damn hero for me. I could have blacked out and died if it wasn't for you. I didn't ever think anyone would care about me like that!"
Han shakes his head, lips thinning together as he sits up, facing Luke.
"… 'course I care about you, kid."
He looks stung of all things, and Luke decides to wipe it clean off his face. He takes a deep breath and sits up with him, weighing one hand on the mattress. The street's lights pouring in help him for better visual aim. Luke kisses him, for no more than a brief moment, feeling Han's bottom lip peel apart from his.
"You really need to stop calling me kid, pal."
Han's eyes are coal-dark and eager, and they gaze over Luke's determined expression before he realizes with a twinge of arousal that Han's kissing him, opening up his lips to Luke's, cradling his hands over Luke's face. They remain where they are for several minutes, Han's thumbs stroking along Luke's jaw.
One of Luke's hands burrow underneath Han's tank, clutching onto him. When he slips his tongue against the pliant, soft rim of Han's mouth is when the other man pulls himself away, as if indecisive.
"Can't be here…"
"Why? Because you've gotten off with other people on your bed?" Luke has had enough of this. If this is happening like they both want, then it's happening — no regrets. He sneers, more out of exasperation than resentment. "I'm not precious, Han — c'mon, you don't have to protect me."
In case that doesn't incite the reaction he wants, Luke shifts in, tilting his chin and skimming their lips. Bright blue eyes lidding.
"I know how to fuck you, if that's what you need," he murmurs.
Han groans as if pained, dragging the other man physically towards him.
"Jesus christ, Luke…"
The shit-eating grin melts away, as Luke presses into Han's warm hands raking over his clothes. He sucks in Han's air, their mouths never separating when Luke's back makes home to the pillows. His legs wind to Han's waist. Luke arches up into him, whining out in anticipation when Han's fingers tug down his underwear.
He doesn't go for his dick, which would have been a beginner's mistake — Han knows his foreplay, smoothing his calloused palms over Luke's hips, as if memorizing the sensation, tracing over each dimple of skin. Han wants him on the edge of vibrating, until Luke's belly heats up and he's dizzy for more.
But, neither of them seem to be holding much patience.
Han grabs handfuls of Luke's ass, hauling him up and grinding their cocks, only shielded now by the thin, cottony layer of Han's boxers.
"Please…" Luke whispers, mouthing against the dark scruff on Han's cheek. He's itching to just tear away the material, and as if plucking the thought from him, there's low, husky laugh against Luke's throat.
"I got you, don't worry."
Han adjusts himself with a small grin, and then swoops down between Luke's thighs.
Oh, holy shit — his lips wrap around Luke's cockhead and he tenses every muscles in his body, tossing his head and gasping out. He's — oh god, he's good, laving his tongue against the sensitive points and engulfing him down, inch by inch. But what gets Luke quivering is the couple of Han's fingers playing with the crease of his ass.
A cry escapes Luke's mouth, and it's too much — Han's saliva slicking over the base of his cock, the heat and suction of his mouth and his throat, and before Luke can warn him, he's spilling onto Han's tongue, crying out and gripping at the bed, riding his orgasm sweet and mercifully slow with Han's bobbing mouth.
When he glances momentarily at Han's cock, it's flaccid and spent-soft, drooling come to Han's thigh.
"Yeah," Han tells him, leaning over and setting a peck on Luke's upper, shaven lip. "Took care myself." At the mimicking peck of lips, he rests down beside Luke and absently shapes his fingers through golden curls.
Luke sighs, looking over at Han's sleepy, pleased expression. "I've never…"
"Never got as good as you gave?"
"Definitely the only one doing the swallowing, that's for sure."
"Mm," is the contemplative remark. Han turns his face to Luke's, lips grazing his cheek. "You're my first."
"And it's completely worth it to hear you scream out like that," Han comments, looking much too pleased now as Luke's mouth goes suddenly slack with mounting horror. "Lando's not sleeping a wink."
"Oh, oh my god…" Completely embarrassed, Luke hides his face into Han's sternum, asking in a frantic-whisper, "Han, oh my god — please stop laughing. What do I do? Do I say sorry to him… do I pretend it never happened…?"
"You know what — let's think about this one in the morning," Han says, continuing to laugh quietly into Luke's hair.
Thirteen years pass by in an instant, but five years without Luke was an eternity.
Eventually, Han got the nerve to book a ticket out of Coruscant — and the reminder of the Underworld — settling for a summery, temperate residence called Lake County. By that time, Luke officially filed in his thousand hours of jet aircraft time, and was assigned to his very first mission as a Flight Engineer in space.
Spaceman, after all.
(Which wasn't bad for a confident and ambitious twenty two-year-old.)
Between them, the income is enough to purchase a house on a green grassy hill, overlooking a scenic waterfall. No neighbors for miles — thank god, Han adds privately. He's getting too old for people anyway.
His little terrier Chewie naps, lodging on top of the sofa. Han remembers finding him on the side of a road as a pup, his front paw badly scratched up and infected. As soon as Han carried him into his van, Chewie refused to let anyone touch him unless Han was nearby, growling at the veterinarian. The little guy and him were inseparable since.
He knew Luke loved his job — hell, Han did while owning a mechanics shop and running his own business. But, space travel took real Earth years away from their lives, and Han can't help but feel a lingering sadness about it.
Especially with their little girl to consider.
Standing by the back-door, Luke gestures him over with a softened, smiling expression, meaning to hook their fingers — but, Han slides his arms round Luke's waist instead, nuzzling and kissing the back of his neck.
"Yeah, I finally got the little sweetpea to settle in for a nap," he murmurs. "She got real excited to see you."
Luke hums pleasantly and turns in Han's loosened embrace.
"I hope she wasn't the only one…"
"Trust me, she wasn't," Han replies earnestly, cupping his husband's sides. He plants a series of tiny, nipping kisses over Luke's jaw, creating a path to his mouth. "Don't like it when you're away."
"I know, I'm really sorry," Luke whispers against him, stroking his fingers up Han's shoulders. He tries to meet Han's eyes for the honesty in his apology. "I'm home for good. I promise. The next mission might not even, mmfm—"
Han presses his mouth over Luke's, a little more roughly.
"Less mission talk, more you getting naked."
The grin wrinkles Luke's freckled nose.
All things considered, this life is pretty much better than anything Han could have ever imagined.
SW isn't mine! STORY TIME: I signed up for the Star Wars Big Bang on Tumblr, and the mod completely flaked out before I even got an artist BUUUUT I finished my story beforehand, so now everyone can see it! I'm bitter about not getting to have the fest, but hey, the fic still happened! Hope you guys enjoy it! :)