Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. I'm not trying to make any money off them. Please don't sue me.
Luke Skywalker strolled casually through the command center. The rebel basewas a flurry of activity. In two days the Alliance was hosting a gathering of members. It promised to be a huge affair with hopefully a great deal of support and money raised by the end of it. Luke, however, wasn't interested in the Alliance right this moment. Right this moment, he was only interested in his stomach and finding Leia. He saw her just as she entered her office.
He hurried across the room after her and knocked on her door.
"Yes." she called from inside.
Luke opened the door and popped inside, shutting it behind him.
"Han's back." he said.
Leia looked up from her monitor. "Oh," she said, then resumed working.
"Yeah, he brought back a surprise."
"I'm sure I'm not interested in anything Han would consider a surprise." Leia dead-panned.
Luke grinned. "You will be in this, his last mission was to Manata."
Leia looked up from her monitor again. "Did he bring back food?"
Leia stood up. "Let's go." she said, turning off her monitor.
As they walked toward the Falcon, Leia asked, "Does anyone else know?"
"Nope. Just a treat for us."
Leia grinned. "At the risk of sounding selfish, I can't wait."
They picked up the pace.
They found Han and Chewie in the galley already preparing dinner. It smelled wonderful. Leia was taken instantly back to parties and feasts her parents had held on Alderaan.
"Did you shut the ramp?" Han asked.
"Yep." Luke answered.
"Good, we don't want the whole rebellion smelling this and showing up."
"True." Leia said, she slipped next to Han to stare longingly at a tray of fruit.
"Want one?" He asked with a grin.
"Yes." Leia said with undisguised lust. She had never adjusted to living mostly on rations. The frozen or freeze dried entrees available in the mess, just never seem palatable to her. She didn't complain of course, but still, the opportunity to eat fresh food was irresistible.
Han picked up a small, round, yellow plum. He held it out to her at mouth level. She surprised him by biting into it instead of taking it from him. Note to self, he thought, Princess Leia gets off on fresh fruit. Her lips lightly grazed his finger tips as she bit into the plum. He found the sensation incredibly erotic.
Leia blushed, suddenly realizing what she'd just done, she reached up and took the rest of the plum from Han's hand. "Sorry." she muttered.
"That's okay," Han said in a throaty whisper. He looked up to realize Luke and Chewie were staring at them. Han clapped his hands to break the spell of the moment. "Okay," he said loudly, "we've got a lot of work to do. Luke," he said handing Luke the tray of fruit, "you slice up some of this, because she obviously can't be trusted with it. Leia, you slice up these tubers. The soup is just about ready, so we can start with that while the meat and tubers cook. Then we finish up with fruit for dessert."
"Sounds great." Luke said taking the tray Han offered.
Han set four large tubers on the cutting board next to him and handed Leia a scraper and a knife. "You think you can handle this kind of chore?"
Leia shrugged. "I'm sure I can figure it out."
Han smiled. "Okay, first you scrape off the skin, then you cut it into thick slices..."
An hour and a half later they were all sitting around the game table finishing the last of the sliced fruit. Luke checked
his wrist chrono and realized he had to be on duty in a half an hour.
"Whoa, I gotta go." He said, standing, "I've got duty. Han, this was great. I don't know how to thank you. I haven't had food this good since I left Tatooine."
"No problem, Kid, after all life's not worth living if you can't splurge once in awhile."
Luke grinned at him and they shook hands. "I'll see you tomorrow then."
"I'll be here."
With that Luke hurried out to the hanger.
Chewie excused himself to start cleaning up the kitchen. "Leave the pots and pans for me." Han said.
"I can help too." Leia said.
"No, that's okay, tonight you're a guest."
Leia dropped her eyes, pleased by his comment. Generally Han insisted on the opposite, that she had to pull her weight, no favors for the princess. "Thank you." she said demurely.
"Can I get you a cup of kaffee?"
"That would be nice."
Han poured them both a cup of kaffee and then went back out to the lounge. "Come with me."
Leia hesitated a moment, then followed him. He took her to the central shaft and handed her a coffee mug. He then proceeded to climb up the ladder leading to the Falcon's upper hull. Leia followed, careful not to spill her kaffee. Han took it from her, so she could pull herself out of the ladder shaft. She looked up into a night bright with stars. She smiled at him.
"Is it too chilly out here for you?"
Leia took a sip of her kaffee. "No, it's nice." The air was crisp with just a stirring of a breeze.
They sat on the hull, stretching their legs out in front of them, and looked at the stars. This was one of the nicer locations for a rebel base. The climate was actually temperate. They sat quietly for a little while and then Leia said, "Thanks for dinner, Han. That was a real treat."
"I thought it might be nice to eat something that resembled food for a change."
"It was, it was really nice."
Han grinned, "And, hey, if I'd known you reacted that way to plums, I would have been bringing them back every trip."
Leia blushed crimson. "Yeah, thanks." She went to stand up. "Look, I should probably go."
Han caught her hand as she started to rise. "Hey, I was just kidding, you don't have to go."
She caught his eye and for a moment they simply gazed at one another, then Leia shut her eyes, caught off guard by her own feelings and startled by what she thought she saw in Han. She settled back against the deck. "Well, maybe just a little longer." She looked up at the sky and wondered in her lifetime how many different starscapes she'd seen.
As if he could read her mind, Han said, "You know, it doesn't seem to matter what planet I'm on, then night sky is always beautiful."
Leia nodded her head in agreement and took another sip of her kaffee.
Han took his eyes from the sky to watch her drink. He liked to watch her. He used to try and do it on the sly, so she wouldn't see him, but lately he'd been bolder. He felt bold now. In an unusually tender move, he settled his free hand over hers, but sipped his kaffee as though nothing had changed. He turned his gaze back to the stars.
Leia stared at his hand over hers as though she'd never seen such a thing. Then gently, so he wouldn't misunderstand the motion, she turned her palm over and wove her fingers with his.
Han couldn't help but smile, her hand seemed so small in his. In an unprecedented show of restraint, he did not pull her to him for a kiss. Instead, he held her hand and memorized it's shape and warmth.
Quietly, they sat looking at the stars and finishing their kaffee.
When Leia had finally taken the last sip, she moved to get up. "It's late, I really should be going," she said, patting his hand.
A million unfamiliar thoughts and feelings were swirling through Han's mind. Too distracted to argue, he said, "Okay," and walked her to the ladder.
Leia stopped him at the hatch. "I can see myself out. Stay and enjoy the night. I'll see you later."
His face was covered in shadows, his eyes dark and impossible to read. "Yeah, well, I'll see you around."
Leia nodded and made her way down the ladder.
Han stayed for a long time stretched out on his back, staring at the stars and trying to decide what he was doing.
It was a week before he saw her again. The rebellion was having a fund raiser in the main hall of one of the abandoned buildings in which it had built it's latest base. The huge concrete structure reminded Han of some of the temples on Yavin.
The main hall was crowded when Han arrived on the scene, but a quick look around the room was all he needed to spot Leia. She was the only one in white, and as always she was surrounded by a crowd.
Han raised his eyebrows at her as he walked by her on his way to the bar. She gave him the slightest nod of acknowledgement. Luke approached him at the bar.
"Hey, did you see all the Alderaanians?"
Han looked at him. "No, what, are there a lot of them here?"
"About 15, not including Leia."
"Why not include Leia?"
"Well, they're not, as a matter of fact, I think they're arguing about her." Luke seemed concerned.
Han frowned. "What do you mean, arguing?"
"Well, they seem to be divided on the leadership issue. Some of them want to gather under Leia as their spokesperson, others don't want anything to do with her."
Luke grimaced. "They blame her, you know, for what happened."
Han was shocked. "That's ridiculous!"
"You don't have to tell me."
Han looked around the room, and for the first time noticed all the energy coming from a group in the left wing. "Does Leia know what's going on?"
"If she does, she not saying anything."
Han looked back over at Leia, she was talking at length to a group of Calamari. "What do you think, you think she knows?"
Luke looked at her. "I don't think so."
Han looked back at the angry Alderaanians. "What do you think we should do?"
"There's nothing we can do." Luke said.
Han frowned again. "Maybe we should try and get her out of here. She doesn't need this."
Luke looked at him incredulously. "We can't get her out of here. This is her event. She's not just going to leave without an explanation."
Han nodded. "Yeah, you're probably right, just keep an eye out, okay. I got a bad feeling about this."
Han ordered a drink, but didn't really drink it. For the next hour, he and Luke worked opposite sides of the room always keeping an eye on Leia and the Alderaanians. First she would move closer to them and then further away. The Alderaanians were arguing in their native language and doing it relatively quietly, but inevitably Leia eventually ended up talking to a group of Ithicans, who stood close enough to the Alderaanians that she could hear what they were saying. Han saw her face blanch from across the room. He looked for Luke, but he had been pulled into a group with Mon Mothma. Leia quickly made excuses to the Ithicans and made her way out on to the balcony for some fresh air. Han followed as quickly as he could through the crowd.
It took him awhile to find her. She managed to go all the way around the balcony to the other side of the building which lay in shadow away from the lights of the party.
The night air was chilled and Leia stood with her arms wrapped around herself, obviously cold.
Han pulled his jacket off and moved to stand behind her. She glanced back at him briefly as he moved to drape the jacket over her shoulders, but then she looked away.
"Are you okay?" Han asked, he could feel the tension in her shoulders as he settled the jacket there. He resisted the urge to massage her and instead just lightly rested his hands there. She surprised him by not pulling away.
"I'm fine." she said softly.
Han gave her shoulders a gentle squeeze and then leaned down to speak in her ear. "It's not your fault."
She didn't say anything, so he gave her shoulders another squeeze and then walked back toward the party. He didn't go in, but instead went down the exterior stair well and headed back to the Falcon.
Leia stared at the night for a long time, trying to decide how she felt about her role in Alderaan's destruction. What was her guilt or innocence? Finally, she gave up and made her way back to her cabin. The truth she decided lay somewhere in the middle. She was and was not guilty.
That night Leia dreamed in color. She dreamed in red. She was chest deep in blood, but it was as much hers as anyone else's. She awoke confused wanting both absolution and vengeance.
When she stepped out of the sonic shower she notice Han's jacket thrown across the chair next to her bed. She looked at the clock then at the jacket. She had some time before her first appointment, she might as well return it now.
Han was coming out from under the ramp and yelling something to a repair droid as Leia approached his old ship. She marveled once again that the thing ever got off the ground.
"Hey," Han said as she came up. "You didn't have to rush that back to me."
"Well," she said, awkwardly, "I thought you might need it."
Han smirked at her. "This might come as a surprise to you, but I've only worn that jacket a handful of times. I don't need a dress coat very often."
Leia cleared her throat. "Still, I thought it best to bring it back sooner rather than later." She held it out to him.
Han took it. They stood there for a moment not saying anything. "Well," Han said finally, "Thanks for being so prompt, your Highness." He turned as if to leave.
"Han," Leia said.
He turned back to her and raised his eyebrows.
"Thank you," she said, "for the jacket, and everything. I...I appreciate it."
Han looked at her for a moment. "Any time."
"Well," Leia said, suddenly aware of the color in her cheeks and their very public location. "I have a meeting."
"Yeah," Han said, "I'm supposed to make another run tomorrow and I've got repairs to do."
"Right, well, you have a nice day."
"You too, Princess." Han said, smiling slightly. "You too."
As she left, Han walked up the ramp, intending to put the jacket back in his cabin. On impulse, he brought it to his nose. Her perfume lightly scented the collar. Instantly, Han was filled with a foreboding sense of being in well over his head. He let out a deep sigh and went on back to work.