My loyal readers: This is the last post. Thank you so much for your ongoing support in this controversial and trying endeavor. I appreciate it, and I never could have done it without you. I have now finished my first novella. Cherish it as I have. –the Author
I have to talk to Leia about this. About everything. I just have to know what's going to happen now.
I wait until MeddCenter is almost silent in the middle of the night, then I get up, pulling the IV from my arm. Han told me where her room is–he understands. He just told me to take it easy, and not to go if the medds said I couldn't. Well, I didn't ask the medds, so they didn't say no, did they? I appreciate his concern, but this is important. I'm being careful. My head pounds, but not as badly as this morning. I'm shaking and cold despite my thick white patient's robes, and the floor is freezing on my bare feet. Maybe I should wait until tomorrow...but I can't. I need to talk to her, and it's by will alone that I slip past the night staff to the turbolift. Maybe there are some things about the Force that are helpful.
I find her room and slip in quietly incase she's asleep–and she is, soundly, in a white nightgown in a white bed in a white room, reminding me of a certain sleeping princess I discovered long ago on the first Death Star. Beautiful.
I gaze on her for a moment, confused but happy. I don't know what I'm supposed to do with this love, but I'll figure it out. We both will, I think.
I almost go to gently wake her up, but a white bassinet on the opposite wall catches my eye. Little Mylia. I pad softly across the room and peer into the cradle wherein sleeps a tiny, chubby, dark-haired girl, clad in white like her mother, hands clenched into fists in sleep. When I see her, my spirit warms and I can't help but smile. There's no rule against loving her, even though she's Han's and not mine. After all, we're all a family, right? All six of us.
Leia's breathing changes, causing me to look in her direction. She opens those amazing brown eyes, and smiles sleepily. "Luke?"
I smile in return. "Yeah." I regard the baby again, sighing in awe. "She's beautiful, Leia."
"Doesn't she look just like Ben?"
Looking me over in concern, she finally asks, "Are you...are you all right?"
Drawing a deep breath, I nod again. "I think so. I mean..." I laugh tiredly. "I feel terrible. But I'm alive–and, um..." I move a chair to her bedside and sit carefully. "I'm going into rehab," I say carefully, not meeting her eyes.
She sighs with relief and shuts her eyes for a moment. "Good. I'm proud of you, Luke. I know it's hard."
You have no idea. "I'm doing it for the boys, you know. I...I want to be back in their lives, if there's any way you'll trust me. I need them–it's the only way I'm gonna get better." I meet her eyes. "And I need you."
We stare into each other's eyes for a long moment, and it's been forever since I've felt this close to anyone. Our hands meet one another halfway, twining our fingers together and squeezing as if our lives depend on it. I shut my eyes, holding it all in. I'll figure it out, I repeat to myself.
"I've been thinking, Leia," I begin softly, "Han seems to think that we could just go back to the way things were...when we were married. And...I know he means well. He just wants us to be happy, and he's actually trying to be helpful, and he is, but... I could never do that."
"Neither could I," she whispers weakly.
"I think he's onto something, though," I say more brightly. "He said we're perfect together. He's right about that."
She shrugs. "Luke, what's going to happen now? I don't know what I'm supposed to do with this...this love that..."
I feel my eyes grow wider. Weren't those my own words? Han's right.
"I know, I know." I try to sound reassuring. "Neither do I. I mean, I'd like to be around, if you can put up with me. I'm going to try, Leia. Really I am. I'll be in rehab for awhile, and..."
"And you should probably get therapy..."
I clench my teeth. That's the last thing I want. But if Leia's asking me... "I will. For the boys, and for you. I'll always love you, Leia. I'm not going to pretend anymore." I finish huskily, the words catching in my throat.
She smiles softly, squeezing my hand. "I...I'll always love you, too."
I smile wistfully in return. "I don't quite understand why, but I think that's what made me hold on when they weren't sure if I was going to make it. And what brought me down here. And what made me sign the rehab consent form. It makes it easier, knowing I'm not alone. Maybe if we're trying to figure this out together, we actually will."
She nods. "I know what you mean. I used to think...but I'm glad I'm not alone."
I move to her bed and lay down, telling myself it's only for a second because I'm so weak. We lay looking into each other's eyes and holding hands and nothing more for a long moment. I don't touch her, don't snuggle up to her, and I'm surprised at how comfortable this is for me. I don't feel aroused, I don't feel nauseous–it's just peaceful. Amazing. Perfect.
Her hair's messy, but that's to be expected–she's had quite a day. I smooth a stray strand away from her eyes, smiling. So perfect. Of course. "Maybe someday," I say, voice shaking. How hadn't I known that it could be this simple? "Maybes someday the love we feel could turn into..." Just say it. It's time you finally said it. "Maybe it could turn into the love we should have. The love that...a brother and sister should feel."
Those brown eyes go wide and she flushes slightly. "I've never heard you actually say it before. Use those words, I mean...brother and sister." She seems to have a little trouble saying it as well.
"I know," I say, relieved that it's out now. "I'm not sure I ever really thought it outright, either. I beat around the bush about it even in my own head. It's time I stopped."
"Me, too," she whispers fondly.
We relax into one another's eyes once more, and I'm happier than I've been in I don't know how long. I realize that I've found the key–love. Darkness can come from love, too, I suppose, the way love turns to hate in extreme circumstances. But it brought me back, as it had my father. I'll be a long time healing, I know that. But I'm ready to try.
"Love's all we really have," I murmur to myself. Maybe I know what he meant, now. "That's what we needed all along, I think. Not to stop feeling it, just...accept it."
She furrows her brow, but she smiles. "You just figured that out?"
I blush slightly, smiling. She can still make me feel like a naive farmboy. I touch her cheek softly, and she scoots into my arms. I hold her tightly. It will take time, of course–it's not as if we'll become siblings over night, but time is something we have. It will happen. After all, where else could we go, now? There's nowhere but onward, and I have to be brave. Leia will help me–she's my hope.
I start to drift off into a much-needed sleep, but I remember where I am, and where I'm supposed to be, and I snap back awake. I draw away. "I should go back to my room," I say apologetically. I'd rather stay here, because she makes me feel safe and warm, but we have to take things one step at a time. Besides, if the medds find I'm missing, they'll think I ran away to get spice, and I don't want to explain what's really happening.
"I'll come to see you tomorrow, before I leave," Leia says.
Something to look forward to. That's new. "With Han and the boys?"
"If you want."
"Do you know how long you're going to be here?" she asks.
"They said a week, just to make sure," I say wearily. It sure sounds like fun. "Then I'm going to the clinic. I might be there for a few months..."
"I'll come to see you all the time."
"You're so busy, though..."
"I'll make time."
I smile hesitantly. "That...would mean a lot to me."
"Do you need anything from your apartment?"
Thinking of my box of spice sticks, I shake my head. "There's nothing there that means anything to me, now. I don't think I'm ever going back there." I shrug helplessly. "Not sure where I'm going to live, though, when I get out of rehab. Maybe I could get a place closer to the palace–"
"You could have my guestroom, if you want," she offers suddenly.
I blink up in surprise. "You don't want me to live with you, Leia. I'm too fucked up–"
She smiles fondly. "Well, you're going to have to stop talking like that, and it's only if you get better...but it will help you. You know it will. And you can care for the children while I'm working. Han's always gone on missions, and it will be nice for the boys to have their father instead of a nanny-droid. They'll love it."
I smile wryly, intentionally calling her by the sometime title that had once turned into a pet-name, "What about you, princess?"
Her smile grows, but she doesn't answer. She doesn't need to. "I'm serious, Luke. We'll take care of you. If that's what you want."
In Leia's apartment, it's all light and love and beauty. And I've grown tired of the shadows. Though I still doubt whether I'll be ready to live with Leia within the last few months, who knows what will happen to me at the clinic? Who knows what will happen to me with Han, Ben, and Anikin there to keep me safe and loved, the growing baby to inspire me, and Leia to give me hope?
Leia looks at me expectantly. She needs an answer.
At last, I nod. "I'd like that."