Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. I'm not trying to make any money off them. Please don't sue me.
Luke was surprised by the wave of nostalgia that hit him as he landed his X-Wing next to the Millennium Falcon. Ben Kenobi's home, stark against the desert, brought back countless memories for Luke. It seemed like a million years ago that the old man had brought him here after his run in with the Sand People.
Luke smiled at the memory. He'd been so careless then. Yoda was right, he didn't ever have his mind on where he was or what he was doing in those days. Back then he would just run off and do whatever struck his fancy. These days things were a lot different.
"Okay, guys, shut her down completely, we don't want anyone picking up on our energy signatures. After all this isn't exactly a sanctioned landing." Luke announced.
"Yes, sir." was Leia's sarcastic comment over the comm.
Luke smiled. "I wasn't implying anything, Leia, I'm just trying to be thorough."
"Well, I think Chewie and I can handle it. We've landed this ship illegally before, you know."
Luke laughed, "Better watch out, Princess, you're starting to sound like Han."
"It's funny you should say that. Being out here, flying with Chewie, dealing with this old ship, it's given me a whole new perspective on Han." Leia said pensively.
"I'm sure it has."
"Well, enough of this," Leia said, clearing her thoughts. "Let's get these ships shut down and covered."
Luke laughed again. "Yes, ma'am."
Once they got the Falcon shut down, Chewbacca began tossing the heavy desert camouflage tarps up on to the top of the ship, while Leia started unfolding them and dragging them into place. The coordination was quite an effort, but the two moved together effectively, managing the awkward job.
Luke used the Force to lift Artoo out of his compartment in the X-Wing and then used It to covered the small ship with a huge sand colored tarp.
The twin suns were setting, and the desert air was starting to cool off. Luke went into Ben's tiny home to see if the generator was still working, or if they would have to pull a portable one off the Falcon. To his surprise the old generator started up.
"Great," Luke said to Artoo, at least we can have some heat tonight, and you and Threepio can power up before you head to Jabba's palace."
Luke looked out the front door. Leia and Chewbacca were still struggling with the tarps while Threepio stood on the ground shouting out not-so-helpful instructions.
"I guess now is as good a time as any Artoo." Luke pulled his new lightsaber from his belt and slipped it into a tiny compartment in the droid's shiny dome. "You remember the plan, right?"
Artoo chirped a high pitched affirmative.
Luke settled the compartment seal into place. "Good." He returned to the door, "Threepio," he shouted, "come in and power up, you've got a long night ahead of you."
"Oh, yes, that's right, Master Luke." Threepio began tottering toward him.
Luke pointed out the generator to him and then went to help Leia and Chewbacca cover the Falcon.
As he walked up, Leia shouted "I don't know what you said to make Threepio go away, but thank you."
Luke laughed as he went to drag a corner of one of the large tarps into place. He could have used the Force to quickly finish the job, but something stopped him. He was still uncomfortable using his new found powers in front of his friends. He didn't want to appear to be showing off. He also didn't want to be stared at, there would be plenty of time for that during this mission.
It was already late when they finished the job. They sent Artoo and Threepio on their way to Jabba's palace and went into Ben's old cabin to settle for the night. Leia broke out the rations and passed around the small bars. She gave three to Chewie.
I hate these things.
"Look," Leia said, "if you want to go kill something and eat it, be my guest. Otherwise, keep your complaints to yourself."
Chewie snarled at her.
She stuck her tongue out at him.
The wookie let out a hearty, barking laugh.
The native animals probably all taste like sand here anyway.
Leia bit into her ration bar and stared at it while she chewed. "Then you wouldn't be any better off, because that's what these taste like."
I don't know, Chewie said, looking at his own ration bar. Sand might taste better than this.
"Will you two stop complaining. They're not that bad." Luke said.
Leia and Chewie responded by throwing their ration bars at him. Delighted that they'd both had the same thought, they started laughing and pointing at each other.
"You guys have spent way too much time together," Luke grumbled while brushing crumbs from his hair.
Chewie stretched out on the left side of the pelt covered slab that Ben Kenobi had used for a bed. Forget it, he said let's just get some sleep. We've got a big day ahead of us tomorrow.
Luke wasn't sure what he expected about the sleeping arrangements. No one could sleep on board the Falcon, because it would be too uncomfortable in the cold desert night without heat, and too conspicuous to turn on the life support systems. What he didn't expect was for Leia to so casually curl up next to Chewie.
"You're right." she said, and snuggled next to the hairy wookie.
Luke sat where he was at Ben Kenobi's table.
Leia looked at him. "Come to bed Luke, it's late."
Man, what I would have given to hear those words six months ago. Luke thought as he climbed in on the other side of Leia, but as he settled next to her, he was overwhelmed by how much things had changed.
It took a long time for him to fall asleep. He had more on his mind than just Leia's proximity. So much depended on him in the next couple of days. The plan was risky, maybe even crazy, but everything had fallen into place so far. He knew this would work, he could feel it. He was contemplating the layout of Jabba's palace as he drifted off to sleep.
There was so much steam. Then he realized it was because he was in a shower. The hot water felt so good streaming over his body, which surprised Luke because he didn't really like showers. Having been raised on a desert world, he could never get past how wasteful they were, and he always managed to get water in his ears. He preferred sonics, but as he stood there he really enjoyed the feel of the water. Then he realized he wasn't alone. Han stepped up behind him. Whoa!, Luke thought, which is when he separated and stepped aside, when he looked, Leia was standing where he had been standing under the water and Han was sliding his hands around her waist. I shouldn't be here, Luke thought. Wait a minute, why am I here? He found himself strangely anchored to the dream. He had no desire to watch Han and Leia make love in a shower, but he couldn't get out of the room. He no longer felt as though he were having the dream, instead he felt trapped in it, like a vision. Han was lifting Leia up, pressing her back against the tiles of the stall. Luke experienced the sensation of being lifted even though his eyes told him it was not happening to him. This is too weird, I've got to wake up. He struggled to wake himself, but he didn't really feel like he was still asleep. He turned around to try and walk out of the bathroom, but there was no door. No matter where he turned, Han and Leia were in front of him.
The room began to take on a familiar orange glow, a color from his own nightmares. Suddenly, he was back on Bespin in the carbon freezing chamber, and Han and Leia were being pulled apart by stormtroopers. The shower was gone, and Leia's anguish ripped through him like a storm. Luke could hear Vader say "...take the Princess and the wookie to my ship..." Fear washed over him. He knew it was coming from Leia. He wanted to go to her and comfort her, but he couldn't get to her. He couldn't move. The room turned suddenly dark and felt much smaller. He could feel the sensation of a cold metal wall beneath his cheek. He struggled to move away from it, but found himself bound there, and yet he could see Leia bound to the same wall. It was if he could see her and he was her all at the same time. The sensation was disorienting. A stormtrooper entered the room and began removing his armor. He stood behind Leia and whispered in her ear "You're a pretty little thing aren't you."
Luke had the sinking realization that he was on the Death Star, in Leia's cell. He knew this was not just a nightmare but a memory. He knew it deep inside himself, even though he had no way of knowing. Leia never discussed what happened on the Death Star, wouldn't even discuss it's destruction, and yet Luke knew with unfailing certainty that what he was experiencing actually happened. He had a sudden, desperate urge to get out of that cell, to not be a witness, to leave and not experience this, but he couldn't move, couldn't escape.
Chewie awoke to Leia struggling beside him, softly moaning in her sleep. Her arm was thrown over Luke's side, and he seemed equally anguished. The wookie had seen Leia in the throws of a nightmare before. The past few months together had familiarized him with many of Leia's demons. He pulled her closer to him, gathering her in his arms, while he clucked and cooed at her as he would a young cub.
The second Leia's arm slid off him, Luke awoke with a snap. He leapt up out of bed and stumbled toward the door. He looked back to see Chewie cooing at a still sleeping princess, his huge paw stroking her hair.
Chewie looked up at him. Are you okay? He whispered.
"Yeah," Luke said as he turned and stumbled out into the night.
He found himself leaning against the side of the house offering up what little dinner he'd eaten to the sandy ground. He let himself rest, leaning against the wall for support. Then he walked over past the house to the canyon wall. He let his legs dangle over the side as he waited for the twin suns to rise and release him from this terrible night. He felt so many conflicting emotions. He felt dirty and vile for witnessing such intimate events in Leia's life. He knew he had experienced things tonight she would never have willingly shared with him. At the same time he felt violated and abused as though what had happened to her had happened to him. He felt very protective of her, more so now than ever before, and yet, he feared he would never be able to look her in the face again. Underlying all of these feeling was an overwhelming sense of the Force. There had been a Force enhanced connection there that Luke didn't understand. He knew it must have come from him, but he didn't want to think he could initiate such an awful thing. He was still trying to sort it all out when daylight finally began to make an appearance.
Leia awoke feeling less rested than when she'd gone to bed. She gently slipped out of Chewie's arms. The big wookie was lying flat on his back softly snoring.
She went to stand at the front door. The twin suns were starting to rise over the horizon. She could see Luke, black against the colored sky, sitting at the edge of the canyon. She walked over to him.
Luke could hear her shoes against the sand, as she came to stand behind him.
"Beautiful morning." she said.
A sense of relief flooded Luke. She doesn't know. "Yes," he said, and meant it.
The was a long silence and then Leia said, "Last night I had the strangest dreams...I...What were you doing there, Luke?"
Luke hung his head. "I don't know," he whispered.
"Then you were there?" he could hear the edge of anger in her voice.
"Yes." he whispered.
Leia tried hard to fight the waves of rage and revulsion that washed over her. "On purpose?" She had to know.
Luke shook his head. "No, of course not. I would never, never intentionally invade your privacy that way. I would never do that."
Leia swallowed hard, forcing herself to calm down. She wanted to believe him. "Then how?"
He made himself turn and face her. Kneeling before her, he looked up at her. Tears in his eyes. "I don't...I don't know."
Leia looked down at him, not so angry now as confused.
"This is like before, at Bespin when you called to me. It felt like that Luke, only more. What's happening to us?"
Luke dropped his face into his hands, pushing his fingers through his hair, "I can't explain it. I don't know what's going on."
Leia looked at him and clenched her jaw. "Well, find out. I can't have you wandering around in my head whenever the mood strikes you."
"I didn't do it on purpose. I mean I did at Bespin, but that was an emergency, but last night...I don't know what happened last night. I'm so sorry, Leia."
She looked at him for a moment, then moved to sit at the edge of the canyon, letting her legs dangle over the side as he had. Luke shifted to sit beside her.
"I feel like you've read my diary or something. Like you've been looking in my windows at night."
"Well, it's not like I enjoyed it, Leia," he said defensively.
A long silence settled between them.
Luke finally broke it by saying, "Are you okay...I mean what they did to you...I...are you okay?"
Leia ran a hand across her face. "It was a long time ago, I'm fine."
"Do you have those dreams a lot?"
She looked at him, trying to decide how to answer or whether to answer. "It depends. With Han gone, I seem to have them more often."
"Does he know?"
"About the dreams?"
"Yeah." He said.
"Does he know what happened to you?"
Leia gave him an odd look, not sure where he was going with this. "Yes, he's known for a long time."
"I don't know, a couple of years I guess. Look, Luke, I don't really want to talk about this, okay."
"I understand." Actually, Luke didn't really want to talk about it anymore himself. Han had known these terrible secrets for years. Why hadn't she confided in him the same way? Maybe he had been fooling himself all these years. Maybe they had never been as close as he thought.
Luke sat quietly for a time, trying to think of what to say to her. "After we get Han back," he finally said, "I'm going back to Dagobah. I have a lot of questions for Master Yoda. I'll find out about this. It won't happen again."
Leia patted his hand and stared out across the canyon. "Not for you," was all she said.
He slipped his arm around her shoulder and she leaned into him. They sat that way until both suns made it completely over the horizon. Then they finally moved to start their day.
Han was pacing. They'd been in the med center with Luke for over two hours now, and they still didn't know anymore about what happened to him or whether or not he'd be okay. Luke had started feeling sick during the party on Endor. Han and Leia had taken him back to the Freedom in the Falcon. Luke had passed out on the way. They'd had a medical team meet them in the docking bay. Everyone had rushed to the med center and Han and Leia had been waiting ever since.
Leia watched Han pacing and willed herself not to follow his lead. She sat quietly in a chair going through a datapad that continuously listed updates on gains and losses from the battle. The numbers were stunning in both columns. She was worried about Luke and was starting to worry about Han. He seemed anxious and exhausted. She was too, but she was worried Han had pushed himself too far so soon after coming out of the carbonite. All she needed was for both of them to end up here.
There was so much she wanted say to both of them, but Luke was unconscious in another room and a crowded waiting room was no place for a private conversation with Han. She felt like they'd hardly said two words to each other since his rescue. They'd been so frantic to touch each other, that they hadn't really talked. Leia's musings were interrupted by a doctor coming into the waiting room.
"Princess, General." She said and motioned for them to follow her back to the treatment rooms.
Han nudged Leia as they walked, raising his eyebrows. "Wow, a real doctor. This must be serious."
Leia nodded. "Or unusual."
They looked at each other. "Probably both." they said in unison.
The doctor stopped outside of Luke's room. He's regained consciousness, but don't expect too much. He's heavily drugged for the pain. We've taken measures to reverse the effects, but I'm still not entirely sure what happened to him. He's exhibiting the symptoms of someone whose been electrocuted. The only thing is, the type of damage his system has suffered...well, exposure to that much electricity should have killed him. I'm still not sure why it didn't."
"The kid is very resilient." Han said.
"Can we see him?" Leia wanted to know.
"Yes, he's been asking for you, but don't make it too long, okay? He needs his rest."
"Of course." Leia said.
Luke was very pale lying in the hospital bed. Han was pretty sure Luke hadn't looked this bad when he'd brought him back from the ice fields.
Leia went over and took his hand. "Luke?"
Luke's eyes fluttered open. "Leia...the Emperor...Force... lightening...hurts."
Leia held his hand to her cheek. "It's okay. You're going to be fine."
"Lightening." Luke moaned.
Han stood behind Leia. "What's he talking about?"
Leia frowned. "I'm not sure." Leia looked up at him, Han was swaying on his feet. "Han you're exhausted, why don't you go back to my cabin and try and get some sleep."
"I don't know, the kid..."
"You've seen him, Han. He'll be okay. There's nothing more you can do here. He just needs some sleep. Go on, I'll be there later."
Han rubbed a tired hand across his face. "You sure?"
"If anything happens, if you need anything, you call me."
"I will. I won't be too long."
Han brushed a stray hair from her forehead. "Okay." he bent down and kissed her softly on the cheek. "I love you."
"I know, now get out of here."
Han grinned at her and walked out the door.
She turned her attention back to Luke who had dozed off again. She touched his cheek with the back of her hand. He seemed a little feverish.
Leia pulled the one chair in the room closer to Luke's bed. She slipped her hand back in his and leaned forward to rest her head on the bed next to their entwined hands. "Brother," she thought. She didn't mean to doze off, but when it came right down to it, she was as exhausted as Han was.
The room was cavernous and gray, steel seemed to be the over arching theme in it's design. Leia walked around and she could hear her own footsteps echoing through the chamber. There was an impenetrable darkness were a fallen sky walk split the room. She moved toward it. She should have been frightened, but a familiar presence called to her from the shadows.
As her eyes adjusted she could see him in the corner, rolled into a ball. His eyes were wild and feverish. "Luke?" she said.
"Go away, Leia, hurry before he sees you."
"The Emperor is dead, Luke. You killed him."
"No, Father killed him, picked him up and threw him down the shaft. Saved me," his voice was thick, his speech a little slurred.
Leia moved closer to him, sat down next to him and put her arm across his shoulders. "Either way, he's dead."
"Father's dead too."
Luke suddenly looked at her, as if seeing her there for the first time. "How are you doing this?"
"Talking to me. You really here?"
Leia looked around. "I think so, in a manner of speaking, actually we're both in your hospital room. I think I fell asleep."
"So now you're in my dream, like I was in yours, only this is different, I can hear you talking. You couldn't hear me, or could you?"
"No, I knew you were there, but I couldn't interact with you."
"I don't know, maybe the bond is stronger, or you are." Leia said.
Luke shook his head, "No, I'm not doing this, you're doing this. How are you doing this?"
Leia shrugged. "I'm not sure, I didn't mean to do it. I just didn't want to leave you. You looked pretty bad, Luke."
"Yeah, I'm really tired. I'm glad you're here though."
"Me too." Leia noted that he seemed to have perked up some and his speech sounded clearer.
"I really wish I understood how this works."
"Maybe it's because I'm touching you."
Luke looked at her. "You are?"
"Yes, I fell asleep holding your hand. Maybe the contact, and the relaxation of sleep sort of opens our minds. You didn't ask Yoda?"
"He was dying when I got there. There wasn't any time. I was so stunned by the news that you were my sister, I forgot most of the questions I wanted to ask."
"That's too bad."
Luke frowned. "Maybe this is your strength."
"What do you mean?" Leia asked.
"I mean maybe this is how you use the Force, for touching people's minds, that might explain your political success."
Leia thought a moment, still unsure of how she felt about the Force. "Maybe," she finally consented.
Luke nodded. "That could be it."
"Your color looks better. How are you feeling?" Leia asked.
"Good, then let's get out of this place." She stood and offered her hand to him.
He took it and she helped him to his feet.
"Where are we going?" Luke asked.
"Out the front door I guess." She smiled at him and lead the way, holding his hand the whole time. When they reached the elevator that lead into the Emperor's chamber, Leia pushed the button and the door opened. When it shut behind them, the elevator had turned into Luke's hospital room. They could see themselves sleeping.
"I need to go now." Leia said. "I don't want Han to worry. You look better though, I think you'll be fine."
Luke smiled at her and gently touched his forehead to her's. "We both will." he said.
Leia woke and glanced at the clock. Almost two hours had past since Han had left. She looked at Luke, he had gotten most of his color back and seemed to be resting more peacefully than before. She pushed a stray lock of hair back from his forehead.
"Yes, we will." she said, "Yes, we will."