This was a plot bunny that's been running around my head for months, and I finally decided to put it down. It was a scene I originally wanted to include in The Fett Dynasty: Episode 1, but it really didn't have a place. But I liked this idea, so I decided to write it after all.

Ivy

Leia drew in a deep breath, hoping somehow that would help calm her shivering. It didn't. *Luke wasn't kidding when he said it gets cold here at night, was he?* She had never experienced a desert night before. Luke had warned her to make sure her disguise would insulate her from the frigid night air, which could drop eighty degrees from the sweltering heat of a typical Tatooine day. She thought the Boushh costume would suffice nicely—loosely wrapped to allow ventilation during the day, while layered to keep out the night's chill. The masked helmet would also help keep out the elements and keep her body heat in.

But now, that costume was gone, Force only knew where. And what she was being forced to wear as a replacement did absolutely nothing to warm her. She sat huddled into herself on the cold stone dais of Jabba's throne, attempting in vain to cover her naked legs with the thin piece of fabric of her dancing girl's costume. The gold-plated bra and panties weren't even lined, causing her most sensitive areas to numb. The metal collar bound around her slim neck wasn't helping matters much, either. But it was the damp, disgusting feel of Jabba the Hutt's tail against her naked back that iced Leia down to her core. She couldn't even count on his body heat to warm her, for he had none. Jabba was a cold-blooded creature, literally as well as figuratively, and his temperature dropped to the same level as the dank courtroom. She felt like she was resting her bones in a swamp.

The desert winds howling against the palace walls only seemed to help intensify Jabba's brutish snores and the wheezing breathing of the courtroom's sleeping occupants. Her eyes scanned through the darkness, over the heaps of alien, human, and humanoid bodies that blanketed the dirt-packed floor. The Gammorean guards were asleep as well, all crouched up against the walls, their vibro-axes stuck in their folded arms, thick drool dribbling from their slack mouths.

Her thoughts drifted to Luke and Han, hidden somewhere in the bowels of this horrid place. Luke was all right, she knew somehow. A small, sad smile crept over her lip. She was so proud of him, so proud of his courage and his resourcefulness in battling the now- dead Rancor. He had become so strong, so confident and calm over the last few months, and it was his strength that had kept her from succumbing to despair. They had become much closer, which was hard to believe, since they were so very close already. But…it was different than before. The bond between them had evolved from that of mutual infatuation to deep respect and solid kinship. Although they had never really spoken about it, they both came to understand that anything romantic between them just…wouldn't be right somehow. Leia's heart belonged to Han.

Han…

Han was sick, and he needed her. She had only seen him for a few seconds before she was ripped from his embrace. *I hope he's in the same cell with Chewie. He'll take care for him for me.*

She swallowed hard. She refused to cry. She wouldn't give any of these repulsive reprobates the satisfaction, even if they couldn't hear her sobs. Besides, crying would only admit that these criminals had won. They hadn't. Not yet. As far as Leia was concerned, this fight wasn't over. She knew Luke had some sort of plan to get them out of there, even if she knew no details. She knew they would get out alive. She could feel it…

She suddenly felt something else. She blinked hard a couple times, and shook her head. Ever since their escape from Cloud City, something odd had been happening to her over the months, like… like her intuition had been kicked into overdrive. She had begun to pick up on vibrations, on being's feelings. And now…

She knew, without a doubt, that she wasn't the only one awake in the dark, filthy courtroom. She knew she was being watched.

Lifting her chin, she peered into the darkness. She called out in a quiet, rock-firm voice, "I know you're there. If you have something to say to me, come forward and say it. Stop hiding in the dark like a rodent."

A low chuckle permeated the darkness, followed by a synthesized voice as cold and dark as the dank room itself. "Still the haughty princess, aren't you? Seems your pride cannot be bound in the same fashion as your body."

She glared into the dark with steely focus as he slid out from behind a pillar. She heard the soft clanking of his armor over the gurgles and snorts of the sleeping courtiers. He slowly, quietly moved into the only light the room had, a dim shaft of moonbeam that shot through the skylight. It glinted off his t-shaped visor and dimly illuminated his broad shoulders and powerful torso.

Adrenaline raged down Leia's back and through her limbs, and the wispy hairs on the back of her neck stood at attention as she stared up into the harsh, crisp lines of Boba Fett's mask. They glared at each other for many long, intense moments, neither one averting their eyes.

Finally, Leia broke the silence with a bitter huff through her nose. "What are you staring at?"

Fett's helmet purposely moved up and down her bared body. "I thought that was rather obvious, your Highness" he growled back with an air to his tone that was less than noble. He saw her eyes widen and heard her gasp slightly before she shot her attention to the floor and crossed her arms over her breasts. He chuckled again. "That doesn't hide anything."

"Don't flatter yourself, Fett," she snarled. She rubbed her hands up and down her arms. "I'm just cold."

Fett regarded the chained princess for a second, then turned out of the moonlight. Leia snapped her eyes from the floor to watch his dark form move to one of the slumbering criminals passed out on the floor. Bending over, Fett ripped the blanket off him, and then kicked him when the degenerate groaned in protest. "Shut up." Silently, he moved back toward the Princess, and tossed the blanket to her.

Leia caught it in mid-air. Her brow knit in mild confusion. Her first urge was to throw it back at him, but the frigid temperature of the air and her own discomfort won out over her pride. She leaned forward to wrap it around her bare shoulders and pulled it tightly in front of her. She lifted her gaze at the bounty hunter. Even now, her breeding and manners came through. "Thank you." She stiffened again, however, when Fett stepped forward and seated himself on the dais next to her. "I didn't offer you a seat."

"I wasn't about to wait for an invitation." He leaned his Blastech against the edge of the dais and stretched his legs out before him, making himself comfortable. Slowly, he turned the menacing visor in Leia's direction.

The shivering from cold had now been replaced by the trembling of fear. Instinctively, Leia drew herself into a ball, clutching the blanket around her. Try as she might, she could not disguise the shake in her voice, as she was now convinced she was about to be raped by Han's captor. "You'd better not touch me, Fett. I'm sure Jabba would not be pleased."

Fett chuckled again—a low, grating, disturbing sound that caused Leia's very nerve endings to fray. Reaching down into a pocket in his trouser leg, he pulled out small keychip and showed it to Leia; her eyes widened even more when she realized it was the key to her collar. "Jabba's already offered you to me, as my 'bonus' for a job well done," he whispered, dangling it in front of her eyes. He saw terror flicker in her eyes, and watched her try to maintain her courageous demeanor despite the smell of fear radiating from her pores. "Now you're the one are flattering yourself, Princess." Quickly, he snatched the keychip back into his palm, and shoved it back into the pocket. He turned his helm away, staring out before him. "Do not fear—I don't want you. Not for that."

She sighed in quiet relief. "Then what do you want?"

"I want to talk."

"About what?"

"About Solo."

Her eyes narrowed. "What about him?"

"I heard you tell him you love him. I've heard it twice now. Do you?"

"That is none of your damn business," she growled harshly.

"I'm making it my damn business," he countered calmly. He reached into another pocket and pulled out a ration bar, handing it to Leia. "You're hungry. Eat this." She hesitated, glaring at Fett with suspicion and doubt. He let out an annoyed sigh through his voice synthesizer. "It's clean. Jabba isn't known for keeping his slaves fed regularly. You better take it; you don't know when your next meal is coming." His visor scanned her up and down once more. "Besides, you're too skinny. You didn't look like this on Cloud City."

"I'm honored that you're so worried about my health!" she retorted bitterly. However, just at that moment, a loud, alarming rumble came from Leia's stomach. Clutching it quickly, she turned to the bounty hunter, who waved the ration bar casually in front of her nose. Leia's eyes darted from his mask to the ration bar and then back again, before she snatched it out of his gloved hand. She tore into the wrapper. "How did you know I wasn't Boushh the bounty hunter?" she asked before taking a ravenous bite.

"You did an adequate job assembling your disguise," said Fett, "but you paid no attention to your movements. You walk like a woman, and I know for a fact that Boushh is male. How do I know?" He leaned toward her. "I killed Boushh on the Outer Rim two weeks ago."

She shot Fett a look dripping with anger and confusion. "And so you turned us in to Jabba." She shook her head. "Then why are you treating me like this?"

"I have no dispute with you, Princess," Fett replied, idly toying with the tails of the Wookiee scalps hanging from his shoulder. "In fact, I find your courage and loyalty admirable, if somewhat misguided. Which brings me back to my original question." The visor turned away from her once more. "Why do you love Solo? You're a princess. He's nothing more than a common smuggler, and a lousy one at that. I fail to understand why someone of your stature would put herself in danger like this for that twerp."

"He is not a twerp!" Leia protested through her chewing. She wiped her mouth with the corner of the blanket. "He is the bravest man I've ever met."

"You love him because he's brave? That's a sorry reason. Stupidity is often mistaken for bravery."

"What would you know about bravery, you faceless coward?" Leia snapped quietly. "For that matter, what would you know about compassion? Friendship? Loyalty? You don't understand the meaning of any of those words!"

Fett's helmet snapped toward her, and he leaned in close. "I don't understand compassion? What did I just show you?" Leia stopped, fingering the blanket Fett had just given her and looking at the ration bar in her hand. Heaving a heavy sigh, she slumped her shoulders and turned away. Fett leaned back on his elbow. "That's the problem with you Rebels. Always viewing the universe in black and white, and turning a blind eye to the gray."

The tears she had fought off earlier were now threatening to break through the fortress of her resolve. This conversation was proving to be more tormenting than her torture at the hands of Darth Vader. She bit down on her lip. "What is it you want?"

Fett paused before stoically replying, "I want to know how a woman of your breeding can love a man like him. I want to know…if it is possible."

Leia turned back to him. She realized that Fett really wasn't trying to torment her. He actually wanted to know; for what purpose, she couldn't guess yet. "Yes, of course it's possible." She smiled a sad smile. "Love…love doesn't differentiate rank or class. One doesn't choose with whom one falls in love. It…it just happens." She took another bite from her ration bar. In spite of herself, her dire circumstances and present company, she actually chuckled. "If I had the complete autonomous power to choose my lovemate, it definitely would NOT have been Han Solo."

"Why?" Fett asked.

"Well, besides being arrogant, egotistical, reckless, argumentative, messy, and sometimes irresponsible, he is always in need of a haircut and a boot shine." She took another bite.

"Then why? Why did you risk pain and certain death to rescue him? Why is he so important to you?"

She turned to face his mask. It was then Leia sensed a need in the bounty hunter, a need to comprehend this matter. She thought she actually sensed…confusion in him. Confusion and…longing, perhaps? Longing for…someone. "All right, I'll tell you why. He could have come back here anytime to pay Jabba back. But he didn't, and not because he was on the run or didn't have the money. He risked the bounty on his head, he risked capture and torture and death, to stay with the Rebellion because…" She took a breath. "We needed him." She bowed her head. "I needed him. I needed him there to make me laugh when I thought all was lost. I needed him there to insult me and perturb me and annoy me and flirt incorrigibly with me, because…no one had ever treated me like that before. I have been placed on a pedestal my whole life. I was raised a Princess, and therefore, everyone treated me like a Princess, like a fragile little crystal doll. Han Solo treats me like an ordinary person, like his equal. He makes me feel like…" Unconsciously, she brought her fingers to her lips, remembering that infuriating, maddening, knee-weakening, beautiful stolen kiss on the Falcon. She closed her eyes. "He makes me feel like a woman."

Her eyes suddenly snapped open when she remembered just exactly whom she was talking to. Clutching the blanket around herself again, she spat, "Does that answer your question?" Fett said nothing. He merely stared straight ahead into the darkness, seemingly occupied with his own thoughts. Leia clenched her eyes closed. "I don't even know why I told you that."

"Maybe because he's going to die tomorrow," Fett replied with cold matter-of-factness.

"Don't count on it!" Leia hissed, her eyes slitting with murderous intent. Her mouth, tight with anger, suddenly curved into a malicious smirk. "Just why are you asking me this? Why would you be so interested in how someone like me could—"

"No reason," he hissed, cutting her off. He pushed himself to his feet and began to walk away…

"There is someone, isn't there, Fett? Someone like me?" Leia asked after him, stopping him in his tracks. He remained still as she asked again, "A noblewoman? Aristocracy? Royalty?" He heard the bitter humor in her voice. "Is it possible for someone like her to love someone like you? Maybe. Is it possible for you to love her back?" She paused. "I doubt it."

She saw Fett's back stiffen in response before he stormed ahead. Stepping over several slumbering scum, he came upon the lanky, scarlet-haired, white-skinned backup singer known as Ryst`all sleeping on a bench.

He reached down and shook her awake. She moaned and grimaced, but her expression changed when he saw the t-shaped visor of Fett's helm. "Fetty," she murmured, donning a sweet, sexy smile. The smile instantly puckered into a girlish pout. "I thought you told me before you weren't in the mood."

"My mood's changed. Get up and come with me." Roughly, he grabbed her by the arm and hoisted her to her feet. Despite his coarse treatment Ryst`all giggled coquettishly, and then moaned seductively when he pulled her to him and slid his gloved hand down her back to grab her bottom.

Running her long, slender hands over his cold armor, Ryst`all leaned in close to his mask. "I'm glad you changed your mind," she purred huskily, her breathing quickening. "I'm going to make you feel sooo good, Fett…"

Behind the dark visor, Fett closed his eyes, imagining the woman in his arms was not thin and lanky with red hair, but soft and supple with long ebony curls and eyes the color of teal…

He swiftly broke the embrace and grabbed Ryst`all by the wrist, pulling her out of the dank courtroom and charging down a corridor.

Leia watched the whole scene from her chained position on the dais. Sullenly, she rested her head on her knees, trying to make sense of the words that had just echoed through her mind…

*I don't want to feel good. I just want to forget her.*