Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. I'm not trying to make any money off them. Please don't sue me.

Escape to Yavin

Note: This story takes place during Star Wars after our heroes escape the Death Star but before they reach Yavin.

Leia left the cockpit in a huff. What was it about that man? Irritating, irascible, what a mercenary. The trip to Yavin would take a few hours. She wondered how hard it would be to avoid him for the rest of the time. He and Luke were sitting in the cockpit now. Good, she thought, maybe they'll sit up there talking the whole trip. She sat down at the console across from the game board and ran her hand over her head. Her hair didn't feel too disheveled, one nice thing about the ceremonial double buns, they held nicely. Looked hideous, but held nicely. Of course, she had turned 18 yesterday, so technically she didn't have to wear this hair style anymore.

She'd reached the age of ascension. "To what end?" she thought. If this mission had gone as planned she would have been home on Alderaan yesterday afternoon. Most likely she would have walked into a huge party and the night would have ended with her father formally presenting her the palace at Antibes. She loved that palace. It was small, relatively speaking, and it was situated in a quiet wooded glen overlooking cliffs and the sea. Suddenly, Leia felt a heavy grip on her heart, and her stomach flipped. She bit back a sudden rush of tears. "Get a grip, Organa." she cautioned herself, "If you start thinking about this now, you'll fall apart and you won't see this through. I have to see this through." she thought, "After that, it doesn't really matter what happens, but they will pay for this, if nothing else." She set her jaw, and tried to focus on something else.

It was then she noticed the numbness. Her whole body tingled with it. Most likely it was an after effect of the shock treatments. A shiver ran involuntarily up her spine at the memory. She pushed it back and settled her head in her hands. Then she noticed the blood on the underside of her sleeve. I must have cut myself in the trash compactor she mused. "Funny, I didn't feel it." she thought, "Too much adrenaline, I guess." Still it looked like a fair amount of blood, enough to warrant a bandage. Just then she saw the captain move out of the cockpit and down a different hallway. She got up and followed him.

"Captain." she called, "Captain..."

He turned around to face her, "Solo, Han Solo," he said.

"Captain Solo..."

"Han," he interrupted.

Leia paused, trying not to get frustrated, "Han," she said slowly, "I seem to have cut myself, and I was wondering if you had antiseptic and a bandage."

"Sure. Back here." He lead her down the hall to a small crew cabin, that was obviously used as a makeshift med center. He pulled a box off a shelf over the bed and said, "Sit down, let me see."

She started rolling her sleeve up, "Really, I can take care of this myself."

He ignored her comment and picked up her arm to see a long thin slash down her forearm. "I have some bacta gel, oh man..."

As he pushed her sleeve back to get at the wound he'd seen a nasty needle mark at the veins of her elbow and above that a huge bruise.

Instinctively, Leia pulled her arm away. "I can do this," she said again.

That snapped Han's attention and he pulled out an antiseptic pad and started wiping the blood off her arm. She wasn't sure why she let him do it. Why she didn't walk away from him. She suddenly just felt so tired, and so small in a very large and very ugly universe, and he was being nice, and she needed that.

He got her arm cleaned up and then began applying the gel. "What did they do to you?" he asked in a hushed tone.

Leia just shook her head no. How do you say the unspeakable?

"How far up are those bruises?"

"I'm not really sure, I haven't seen a mirror."

"Are you hurt anywhere, anything broken, any more cuts?"

"I don't think so."

"What about from the fall into the compactor, that had to hurt?"

"Not really, I think that's where I got this cut though."

Han started wrapping gauze around her forearm. "I'm out of synthflesh," he apologized. Kneeling there beside her, he looked up and right into her eyes. He realized they were a bit glazed.

"They drugged you?"

Leia nodded.

"How do you feel."

"Tingly." she answered honestly.

"You mean numb, like pins and needles. Like when your foot's asleep."

Leia nodded again, "But all over," she said.

Han sat back on his haunches and sucked his teeth. "That's not good." He finally said, "Actually that's real bad."

"I know."

"Here stand up," he said, taking her hand and pulling her to her feet. She stood, but when he went to put his hands on her waist, she stepped back and grabbed his wrist.

"Don't touch." she said simply.

"Look here, Princess, you could have broken bones, you could be seriously hurt and not know it."

Leia looked him straight in the eye. A grim expression on her face. "I am seriously hurt, and I do know it, but I can't do anything about that right now."

"I have bone knitters, if anything is broken we can wrap it and start it healing."

"I don't think anything is broken."

"How would you know?"

Leia just stared at him exasperated, suddenly short of a good argument.

Han went to put his hands on her ribs again. Again she backed away.

"Okay, okay, you don't want me to examine you, fine. Why don't I go get Luke?"

"No." she said firmly, "I don't want him to know."

"Why not?" Han said, starting to get really frustrated with her.

"I don't want anyone to know. I didn't want you to know. If you'd just given me the damn bandages and left me alone we wouldn't be having this conversation."

Taken aback by the anger in her voice, Han relented. "Fine, but you've got to get to a Med Center as soon as we land at that base of yours."

"I can't do that."

"Why not?"

"Because, they'll hold me. I have to see this through. I have to see that station destroyed."

"You honestly think some little band of rebels is going to destroy that thing. You're delirious."

"Maybe." Leia growled, "but one thing's for sure, if we don't destroy it, it's not going to matter whether or not I go to the Med Center is it?"

Han just stared at her. She had a point.

"Fine." he conceded, "but that's all the more reason to let me check you out. Otherwise, you're not going to be able to stay on your feet. Look at you, you're barely able to stand up now."

Leia realized she was swaying.

"Fine." she finally said, too tired to argue further.

"Good," Han said stepping back to look at her. "Obviously, your legs aren't broken, let me see your hands. Wiggle all your fingers."

Leia complied. Everything wiggled satisfactorily.

Han stepped up and put his hands on her rib cage. This time she let him. Passing his hands over the two lowest ribs on her right side, Leia let out a sharp breath.

"That hurt?"

Leia nodded painfully. Her eyes clinched.

"Ok, we'll wrap those, and put in a knitter, just in case." He moved to get heavy flexible bandages off a shelf and the bone knitter injection from a cabinet. "Take off your shirt." he said over his shoulder.

When he turned around, supplies in hand, she was glaring at him.

"I don't think so," was all she said.

"Listen, Your Highness, you don't have a thing I haven't seen before, and I don't really get off on injured women."

Leia didn't budge.

Han frowned. She obviously didn't trust him, of course, he couldn't really blame her for that. On the other hand, she needed medical attention, and even what little he could offer would be better than nothing. He couldn't decide if she was naturally this unreasonable or if it was the drugs making her so stubborn.

"Fine." he said, with measured patience, "turn around, I'll unzip you to the waist, and I'll wrap you from the back, ok? Trust me."

Leia glared at him one last time, but turned around. She didn't really see an alternative. She did need help. The ribs were starting to really hurt, and she was concerned that whatever pain killer the Imperials had given her to get her off the floor and into Tarkin's presence were starting to wear off.

When she turned around Han went to unzip the back of her dress. When she slid it off her shoulders he couldn't help but gasp. Her whole back and around her sides were riddled with contusions. She looked liked she'd just come from a smash ball game where she'd been the ball.

"Hey, this is really..."

"Just wrap my ribs, please." she cut him off.

"This might smart." he said as he injected the bone knitter into her back. She didn't flinch, he wasn't sure she even felt it go in. Han tried not to stare as he wrapped the heavy fabric around her ribs. Leia stood facing the wall, one arm protectively across her chest, the other pressing the wall for support. In seemed like hours to both of them before he was done. As his hands moved the fabric around her, he was struck by how tiny she was, and how strong.

"There." he finally said. He turned to put away the rest of the bandages and Leia pulled the top of her dress back on.

"Do you have any painkillers?" She asked quietly.

He took a small bottle out of the cabinet. "Yeah, why don't you take one of these," he said, dropping a pill into his palm.

Leia didn't meet his eyes. "Can I have two?" she asked the wall.

Han looked at her. She was small and the pills were strong, but she was in bad shape and maybe with two she could sleep. "Sure." he said, dropping a second pill into his hand. She took both and swallowed them without water. She turned her back to him.

"Could you zip me back up?" She asked, blushing slightly.

Han didn't miss the blush, and couldn't help but ask as he zipped her dress, "How old are you?"

Leia leaned her head back, wishing the ringing in her ears would stop. "I just turned 18."

Han was taken aback, he was expecting early twenties.

"I think I'm going to lay down for awhile." she said, before he could make a comment about her age.

"That's a good idea, we've got about 4 hours before we reach Yavin."

He noticed her eyeing the bottle of painkillers still in his hand. He tucked the vial into a vest pocket.

"I'll wake you before we come out of hyperspace."

"Thank you." She said quietly.

Han came into the lounge just as Luke was coming out of the cockpit. Luke looked around. "Where's the Princess?"

"She asked for a bunk and decided to lay down."

Luke nodded. "It's been a long day. Some birthday, I tell ya."

"What?"

"Today...no I guess that was yesterday, was my birthday."

"How old?" Han asked.

"18."

"Go figure. Geez, I'm gettin' old." Han gave him a grin, "Well, happy birthday kid," he said, slapping Luke on the back, "You're alive."

Luke grinned back.

"Chewie, while we've got some time, let's see if we can retrofit that phase converter for the dish." He turned to Luke, "Hey kid, you think you can handle the cockpit while we take care of this fitting."

"Sure."

"Great. Let me know when we're a half hour outside of Yavin."

"Will do," Luke said and moved off into the cockpit.

At fifteen minutes before coming out of hyperspace, Han quietly slipped back into the crew quarters. He watched for moment as the princess slept a drug induced slumber. She seemed peaceful though, and somehow Han was pretty sure she wouldn't be, were it not for the drugs. He was struck then by how pretty she was. Even though he knew that beneath her elegant if somewhat dirty dress she was a beaten mess, her face had a certain angelic quality.

"Geez, Han," he chided himself, "You're turning into a dirty old man. She's just a girl." With that he reached down and touched her check. "I wonder why they didn't hurt her face," he thought absently.

"Princess." he said, "we're almost there."

Leia woke with a start and sat bolt upright in bed.

"Easy there." Han said, seeing the disoriented look in her eyes and a flash of pain cross her face. "You're on the Millennium Falcon. You're safe. We've just about got you back to the Yavin base."

Leia pulled herself together trying to clear the fog in her mind. "Right." She mumbled. "I'll just be minute. You may go."

Han bristled at the dismissal. "Gee, thanks." he grumbled as he walked out the door.

Right before they landed she walked into the cockpit. Chewie was there, but Luke and the droids were in the lounge. She asked Han for two more pills, which he reluctantly gave her. Once they landed he lost track of her. Everyone was bustling around preparing for battle and he was busy fueling the Falcon and loading his reward. He saw her again in the front of the room during the briefing. He wasn't sure why he attended. He noticed the dark circles forming under her eyes, but she stood steady and unwavering. She would see this through.

The short moments above the Death Star trench were some of the most harrowing Han had ever spent. He still wasn't sure what had brought him back to the Death Star. Wasn't sure what would possess him to risk his neck like that, but hey, it worked out in the end and the victory party was in full swing. Luke had been carried around the room three times and they'd even picked up Han once. Alcohol was flowing and the room was filled with laughter and loud conversation and back slapping good cheer, and frankly it was starting to give him a headache. Chewie had already had his fill and gone back to the Falcon. Han decided to take a breather and walk out on to the balcony. The Yavin night was a little cool, but the air hung heavy with moisture, he wouldn't be surprised if there was a rain storm later. The temple balcony was wide and went all the way around the top of the building. The view of the jungle was spectacular. Han passed an occasional couple whispering and holding one another in quiet dark alcoves. When he turned the corner he saw her. Unmistakable in white, she stood leaning over the balcony staring out into the night.

"Hey," he said, "What are you doing out here?"

As he approached he realized how heavily she was leaning on the ledge for support.

"It was too much in there," she said. "I guess there's only so much celebrating I can do. It's a hollow victory for me. Too much lost to attain it."

"You really should go down to the Med Center now."

"I don't know. Do you have anymore of those pills?"

"No," he lied. "Come on, I'll walk with you."

She stared at him for a moment, thinking he was handsome in a rough and tumble sort of way. She sighed and gave in. "Fine."

They started walking to the Med Center, but the hallway was rapidly narrowing to a tunnel for Leia. Practically everyone was at the victory celebration in the main hall, so the corridors were empty. When she passed out there was no one to see her or catch her but Han. He carried her the last 50 feet into the center.

Casualties from space battles don't usually make it back for medical attention, so the center was relatively quiet, until Han burst in with the highest ranking rebel official on base cradled in his arms. Teams of droids and human doctors swarmed around him and in moments she was out of his arms and whisked away. He heard people shouting things like system failure, massive nerve damage, severe contusions, and fractured ribs, then the doors to the Operating Room swished shut and he didn't hear anything else. He stood there for awhile in the middle of the room, not sure what to do, and not sure why he cared. Finally he went on back to the Falcon.

He and Luke were denied visitation during Leia's stay in the hospital, and it wasn't until a week later, when she stood on the dias to place medals around their necks that they saw her again. The walk to the dias seemed miles long to Han and he was uncomfortable with the formality of the ceremony. He could tell that Luke was nervous too. Then he saw Leia and the nervousness vanished. Instead of hundreds of rebel soldiers standing at attention, there was only Leia. She stood there, a vision in white, looking as though no one had ever laid a hand on her and nothing even remotely bad had ever happened to her, and Han thought he'd never seen anyone so beautiful. When she slipped the medel around his neck, he winked at her, eliciting a shy smile. He thought then, it might be interesting to hang around and do the rebel thing for awhile, just until something better came along. But at that moment when she smiled at him, he couldn't imagine anything better.