Title: Not This Way

Summary: A story I wrote solely to depress readers of it's particular pairing – and to torture the characters, of course. I was feeling evil.

Feedback is, as always, treasured, adored and reread in times of writer's block. :)

*~*~*

I don't think it was supposed to be this way.

The whole thing was a mess to start with, though. I didn't believe in the Rebellion, and I didn't think that they have a shot in hell of taking down the Empire, but that doesn't mean I wanted the job. Damn it, nobody helps the Empire. It had always been that way. They weren't anyone's friend.

I was a pilot for the Hutts. Jabba the Hutt, actually. I took a job when I was a young man – didn't see many other options, really. I had no experience, no money, and most importantly, no ship. I was stupid, though – real stupid. You don't deal with Hutts. Not if you don't have to. All they want is to get the best of you, and since they have such practice at it, they usually do.

So, yeah. I was working for the Hutts for a while. It was debt after debt – lost that shipment to Imps, did you Han? Well, you can make it up. 'Cept you don't make it up. Not really. Talk about interest rates – banks don't have anything on the Hutts.

I had wanted to join the Imperial Navy, to become a real fighter pilot. I thought it was about honor, doing your duty, all of that. As time went on, and I had dealings with the Navy, I realized that dream had been foolish – and it fell away like all the others. Like hoping to someday be . . . respectable.

I'm a decent pilot – more than decent. Jabba had gotten more than his money's worth out of me, but he didn't see it that way. And I'm sure the bounty hunters he would send after me wouldn't care much either. I always refused to carry slaves – pretty much my only limit – but anything else was fair game. Jabba was pretty satisfied with that.

And one day, they asked me to pilot a hunting mission. Jabba likes to stick his dirty little fingers into different things every once in a while, and this time, it was getting bounties. Most of the time he's the one hiring bounty hunters, but this time, he decided he would 'become' one himself, sending out teams armed with information he'd bought. I'll admit, though, that it was one impressive bounty – more than enough to pad Jabba's bank account for, oh, another hundred years or so. Naturally enough, when Jabba puts his team together to go and get this bounty, he chooses me to pilot them. And the fact that I was dead if I ran was an added bonus. He had already told me what he would do if I left without paying my debts. Not that he needed to; I knew.

As I said, I'm a fair pilot – but I can't say the rest of the 'crew' was any good. They were other indebted workers of Jabba's – and it's only the stupid or naïve that get into that situation with a Hutt in the first place. Still not sure what category I fit into, but never mind that. Three humans, a Twi'lek, and a Barabel.

The Rebel leader we were going after was a young one. A former Senator, from before the Emperor finally dissolved what was left of the Old Republic: the Senate. The one from Alderaan, of all things. You'd think she'd be a pacifist into peaceful demonstrations of resistance, but apparently not. She was accused of smuggling some information about some Imperial project and was captured, but had managed to escape and get the information out. The bounty went up on her not long after that.

To my surprise, the bumbling idiots that made up Jabba's team managed to get the girl. She was on an Outer Rim planet – not much policing going on – and once they managed to catch her alone – relatively – they took the opportunity. It was secrecy that kept the Rebel leaders safe, not guards.

They brought her inside the ship and told me to take off. Yeah, I knew that already. I managed to avoid the Rebel ships that went after us – there weren't many, the Rebels weren't that big of a threat, after all – and jumped to hyperspace.

That was when I got my first good look at her. Leia Organa, Princess of Alderaan. Her white Senatorial clothing was smudged with dirt, her hair falling out of the twin buns on the side of her head, though that arrogant look on her face screamed royalty. She was a princess all right.

She glared at me as Team Idiot put her down on bolted down chair of the freighter we were on. It wasn't a bad ship, and had been customized enough so that I wasn't too uncomfortable flying her. Fairly good weapon systems and a reliable and fast engine. She wasn't mine, though – none of the ships were mine. Jabba didn't like it when people got possessive over his things.

I noticed that two of Team Idiot was missing. I didn't comment; neither did they. Everyone settled down, and a few of Team Idiot started to drink. I didn't partake – I'm not stupid enough to get drunk around a prisoner. Even a princess.

I listened silently as the princess tried to convince everyone that what we were doing was wrong – no kidding, pretty princess? – and moreover that we were only helping the Empire. And the Empire was generally our enemy. They hunted us down, and didn't go about it kindly. And after all, didn't the Rebellion provide criminals with business?

All true, of course. What she didn't realize was that it was out of our hands – sure, Jabba might be an idiot, but he still has say in if we live or die. We were just trying to survive. That's all.

She grew silent as the others laughed at her. I didn't say anything, and I didn't laugh. I didn't like any of it. I had a bad feeling about it.

About an hour passed without anything more being said. Team Idiot laughed and got even more drunk in celebration of their capture, and after a while they started to give the princess looks. I gave them a look.

There are some things a man, even one like myself, just can't stand for.

I'm not sure how it happened – I've got to admit, I underestimated the lady. She got out of her cuffs somehow, and got one of the blasters. And started shooting. I went for the floor as soon as the shots rang out, and got behind the table. I heard shouts and curses, and a few groans.

I could see flashes of light, blasters being fired, from my vantage point on the floor. My adrenaline pumped. I may be a pilot, but I'm handy with a blaster in any situation. My own blaster was already in my hand, and I got up as the firing halted temporarily.

The princess glared at me, in that split second. Her brown eyes were determined, her beautiful face set in stone as she kept firing.

Then she ran down the passageway – to the cockpit.

Cursing, I followed her, ignoring the others, if they were even alive. I doubted it. It was probably a good thing, anyway. She would turn every few feet to fire me, and I was forced to duck away and plaster myself against the corridor. By doing this, she made it to the cockpit.

When I made it there, she was standing by the copilot's seat. Her blaster was pointing at the console.

I stopped. And concluded the woman might be royalty, but she wasn't stupid. If she shot the console, our systems would likely short out – causing the ship to fall out of hyperspace. Into virtually anywhere. Even worse, if she hit it just right and everything happened just the wrong way, systems could spark and damage each other, and the whole ship could go. It wouldn't happen on a military vessel – they were too well protected against such a possibility – but it could all too easily happen here, on a vessel that was half cross-wiring.

Stalemate. I stared at her, chest heaving. She was panting lightly, and I could smell her sweat.

"I don't want to have to kill you, sister," I said slowly, easing my blaster so it pointed to the side, away from her and me. "Let's just take things easy. We don't want to fall out of hyperspace in the middle of nowhere, do we?"

She stared at me for a long moment, searching my eyes. By the Emperor's black bones, I had no idea what it was she was searching for.

But I don't think she found it.

"I'll take my chances," she snapped, eyes flaring with determination, anger, and fear.

And I shot her.

I'm a quick draw, you see – practiced and trained for years. The gun was already in my hand. It took but a moment. I regretted killing her – there was always something in me that said I should be easy with women. They've betrayed me a few times, I know, but I guess it's just instinct or something.

It didn't matter, as it turned out. I shot her, but she shot first – and she got the console. It flared up, a fire already forming and sparks flying. I stared at it in disbelief, then turned to look at the princess' body. She had fallen awkwardly, against the copilot seat. There was a neat, blackened hole in her chest. Her eyes were closed, peacefully, but her mouth was stretched in a grimace.

I looked at her a moment longer, then forced myself to turn away. I sat in the pilot seat, and stared down at the console, and what was left of the flickering displays.

She was dead; I was alive. Team Idiot was dead, or they would have come to the cockpit already. Her death would still fetch a bounty, though not as high as it would be if she was alive. I felt sick to my stomach, but I knew I could buy myself a new name with that money. As far as anyone knew, the mission was still on its way. If it didn't arrive, they would assume it went bad somehow. The risk of that happening had been high. It wasn't too bad of a situation to be in, all considered, except for the damaged console.

But I couldn't help but feel as if things had gone horribly wrong.

*~*~*

A lot of things have changed since then, of course. You know that. It's been ten years. I managed to get that old freighter to Tatooine, of all places. I changed my name and went to the Imperials – tried to, anyway. Yeah, I did try and make money off of killing Leia. I'm sorry. I didn't know what else to do. And yeah, it was still wrong.

Anyway, it didn't work out. The Imps were . . .  well, that's a story that doesn't need to be told, I don't think.

So instead, I took what money I could from the dead. Kept the ship. Got a job carrying a newly orphaned farmer kid and his mentor to Alderaan. You know how that turned out – you were that farmer kid, Luke, and you became a Jedi. I was pretty surprised when old Ben turned out to be one – the tattered clothes and gentle attitude led me to believe he'd been a quiet drunk.

I overheard you and Ben talking the other day. I imagine after the death of the Emperor and Darth Vader – who would have ever guessed he was your father? – you weren't watching too closely at who was nearby. Not the state that you were in. And yes, I overheard the Vader being your father part, too, and while that's very interesting, back to the conversation at hand.

I heard him tell you about your mother. And about Leia. That's what this letter is about. Luke, I know I killed your sister, and now I'm telling you.

I realize now, after all these of years of watching you and Ben do all that Force stuff, that there was something more going on that day with Leia, something I hadn't seen. I wasn't meant to kill her. She was supposed to be important to me, wasn't she? I'm not sure how I know . . . is it the Force talking to me? I don't know – and I wouldn't particularly care to have it talking to me anyway. Just call this instinct, then. An old smuggler's instinct.

You've probably guessed by now some of my reasons for joining the Rebellion. For taking up the fight when I had had plenty of earlier opportunities to do so. I don't think you were ever arrogant to believe it was you – though in some respects it did have to do with you – but you never questioned me about it. I'm not sure why – maybe you knew I wouldn't answer.

This letter is getting long, Luke. And I'm not much of a talker.

I'm sorry, kid. I'm so sorry. But it's time I faced judgment for what I did. Because nothing can redeem what I did, or change it. Kid, this letter is goodbye. I hope this letter, and even possibly my death, gives you some peace. It might be selfish, but I'm looking forward to some peace of my own.

I love you, kid. Until we meet again. May the Force be with you.

[fin]