This is an epilogue vignette to my longer story, "Peace with the Dead." My readers over at the JC Boards urged for the proposal that I so cold-heartedly denied them at the conclusion of PwtD, and, solely to appease the audience, I complied. ;)
EDIT: Thisis the double-checked for spelling and italic issues revamp. Same story - better language!
"A Solo Proposal"
The day had been a complete disaster.
Leia Organa sighed as she entered her quarters, completely exhausted from the marathon race she ran everyday. It was one of politics; her position required her to waste excessive amounts of time with the half-civilized, half-savage game that defined leadership in the New Republic. It was a copious slue of idiocy that ran the galaxy, she sometimes believed. Nothing ran the way it was intended and no one in the manner expected. It was a struggle to keep her patented smile on her face, nod agreeably, and pretend she wasn't completely disillusioned to the whole idea of government.
But she was.
Her entire life had been fashioned to lead. She was a machine, fine-tuned to deal with politicians and crises – it was her job. She'd been bred for it.
She laughed darkly to herself. Well, that's not entirely true.
It had been eight months since her "death" and eight months since she'd begun to be overrun with the governmental aspects of her position. Serving as liaison between the extremely fragile and small community of Jedi and the overpowering multitude of the New Republic Senate, Leia was in a precarious position of both power and weakness, victor and victim, elite and humble. She was either a diplomatic Jedi or a Senator with a strong Force-sense, but never both a Jedi Knight and a Senator, never fully recognized as the single person she was.
Except by Han.
Leia smiled as she strolled into her kitchen to look through her cupboards. Han was effectively living here. He had yet been required to take another mission equal to the monstrous and time-consuming Meridian objective, which, Leia thought, was just fine by her. He hadn't resigned his commission following the Anselm escapade either, further baffling her. She had always secretly believed that Han had joined the Alliance as a kind of commitment agreement to her, not because he believed in the ideals of the Rebellion.
And yet he hadn't resigned after it had failed him.
Leia could imagine no worse scenario than the Anselm mission for Han. Believing her dead after a holonet ploy when he was comm silent in Meridian, Han had gone to console Luke on Yavin Four and there Luke had told him the truth: her "death" was a way for her to conceal herself on a mission for the New Republic. And then Leia had promptly gotten herself captured. Luke and Han had mounted an ill-fated rescue attempt to save her, only to be captured at the same moment Leia had escaped. Discovering the Falcon in a deserted spacestation with Chewie at the helm, the two of them planned a better-organized rescue mission and were successful.
Having returned to Coruscant to the disbelief, and distress, of many politicians, Leia had immediately worked to topple the Imperial hold on Anselm and it's schizophrenic General Hovett. As of yet, Hovett had yet to surrender to the military forces occupying the planet, and he was currently hiding somewhere on the east continent. She'd been busily planning the downfall of the general during the last eight months.
And meanwhile, to her surprise, Han had continued with the military.
He had had to undergo some serious negotiations to accomplish his staff position as the Coruscant military advisor to Red Fleet, stationed at Borleia, but because of the position, he was in Imperial City almost constantly except for minor trips to the Fleet for routine inspections.
Leia sighed. The inspections rarely took more than a week, but the intervals sometimes seemed to last forever. She had become used to having him with her all the time, to seeing him first thing in the morning and last thing at night. She was beginning to depend on him as the center of her existence, the one who was there constantly and consistently to pick up the pieces, and she felt disoriented when he was gone.
Finishing her ministrations in the kitchen, Leia grabbed the mug of kaffe and carried it to the living room of the apartment, kicking aside a pair of Han's boots as she did so. Threepio hasn't been through here today. I wonder why? She dismissed the notion as idiotically possessive and remembered that she wasn't overly fond of the droid's inane rambling at night when all she desired was peace.
Peace is hard to find when Han is gone. She sipped her kaffe and tried to lighten her dark mood. Han would return in four, no, four and a half, days, and she could focus on that bright spot for the time being. She didn't sleep well if he wasn't beside her, found it hard to get up if he wasn't making snide jokes. Her morning routine was jumbled now, too; usually she waged a war on her hair as Han readied breakfast, got Han's data organized on the kitchen counter as he got dressed, planned her lunch break with him as he shaved. Leia found herself missing breakfast because her hair had been difficult that particular day, had nothing to do with the absence of Han's plethora of military consolation datapages, had no one with whom to eat lunch. She felt restless without his presence, without the daily reminder that someone was here, was responsible for her and her well being.
Kinda like a husband, eh, Sweetheart?
She shushed that part of her brain. Leia refused to linger on the "proposal question" for too long. It never got her anywhere, and made her wish for something that was only different from her current lifestyle in name. Han isn't ready, you know that. She could sense that he was bothered by it, and she hated to see this roadblock exist for any longer. But she didn't want to push him. She knew, knew, that she wouldn't marry anyone other than Han, that he was the only one that could really make marriage worthwhile for her. And she could pretend that they were married. She often did. So she contented herself with a fantasy life that she half-lived and prayed for the day to arrive when this jumbled lifestyle would end and something a bit more permanent would begin.
Having finished the kaffe, Leia rose to put it in the dish-cleaning cycle and found herself staring at her holomessage machine and its annoying blinking light. Someone called? And I didn't notice? She took the device and brought it to the conform-couch. Pressing the play button, Leia sat back and waited for the image to materialize.
And almost choked when she saw who the message was from.
Han's miniature form, complete with proper military attire and mussed-up hair, stood on the couch in front of her. He was shuffling around somewhere in the Falcon's hold and looking off to the side while his hands moved restlessly by his sides. She smiled, completely shocked at this turn of events, andrelaxed enoughto hear his message.
"Sweetheart, I don't know how to tell you what you need t' hear. It's hard for me t' talk about anything that doesn't involve blasters, hyperdrive units, or strategy stuff - you know that - but I, you know, promised myself that I'd say this. It's only fair to you." He laughed nervously to himself, then spent a few seconds trying to recollect his thoughts. He sighed and looked back at the recorder.
"You deserve more. I know it, you know it. It doesn't make any sense, you and me. We don't work the way people think we should, and it, uh, hurts you. I know what they say, what you hear, and - "
Leia decided she should stop the transmission. But she was completely shocked and paralyzed before the vid console.
" - you don't deserve this, Sweetheart -"
But you - and I, and you said -
" - and I can't understand why you've stayed with me for so long. You - "
What the hell are you -
"So I was thinkin' - "
- doing? How can you just -
" - maybe I should thank you."
"I mean, you've gone through so much t' be with me, and I never do anything back. I can't. I can't say anything that I've given you that's worth a damn. You hear what people say, and you ignore 'em. I can't. I don't understand it. What's keepin' you here? Huh? What do you see?"
I love you! Isn't that enough?
" - and I don't know what I'd do if you ever left." What? "Don't you ever think you can, Leia. You can't. I won't let you. I can't think straight if I start thinkin' of what you should do. You should leave, find a - I don't know - someone else, and live kinda happily ever after. Like princesses are supposed to."
A prince, right, Han?
"But I can't do that. I can't let you go. I can't tell you that your life's easy. Or that it ever will be. 'Cause I intend to be there. All the time. Everyday. And I am not easy. And even if we don't make sense, I still wanna be there." He looked down again, and lifted his eyes - are those tears? - back to the recorder. "I can't live without you. You know that."
Her own tears freely flowing, both from relief and shock, Leia sat back with her hands over her mouth.
"And I'm sorry that I can't say everything in great language and all, but you know what I mean. I would tell you everything I love about you. But I can't. I've tried. I can't look at you and say what I want to. You're too beautiful and smart for me to say the things I should." He winced. "So I have to talk t' this stupid comm and hope that you understand what I'm trying to say."
You're doing a wonderful job so far, flyboy.
"You mean a lot more t' me than I can possibly say." Oh, gods. "Sweetheart, you're everything t' me, you know? I love you. I love wakin' up next to you. I love watchin' you talk, braid your hair. I love it when you laugh." Oh, gods. "I love everything about you, even the little things, the things no one else sees. 'Cause I'm the only one who get to see that stuff. And I'm the only one who will ever see it. It's real and it's serious - this isn't some kind of obsession, either. 'Cause I know you feel, uh, the same way."
Especially when you do things like this.
"And I don't think it's ever gonna go away. Nothing's ever felt like this. And I know I don't want it to."
"So, ah, Leia, I have something to say t' you. And it's something I've been wanting to tell, or, er, ask you for awhile, but I've kinda been putting it off."
He's stopping? Why's he stopping?!
"Marry me, Princess?"
At the sound of the familiar baritone voice behind her, Leia jumped up and twisted around to regard the live manifestation of that floundering man on the comm. Han Solo, complete in Republic Navy general uniform and a facial expression that could only be described as tortured, stood in the entrance to their bedroom with his hands shoved into his trouser pockets.
Did he just - what the hell? - He's here! - He's not serious, he can't be, he doesn't want to - He's here! He's early! He's here!
"Oh, gods," she whispered. And she was up, moving towards him at lightening speed, jumping slightly into his arms so that her feet dangled half a foot off the floor as his arms encircled her back. "Han," she breathed near his ear. "Han, what are you doing here?"
He didn't say anything.
Leia furrowed her brow. "Han?" When he didn't answer, she slid out of his embrace and backed up. "Han, what's wrong?"
His face hadn't changed an iota. His brow was wrinkled and his eyes were a deep brown color and were focused on the floor, the wall, anywhere but her. His mouth opened once, but nothing came out, and he shut it again. He wrinkled his nose and turned his face to the side.
What's going on? Leia stepped close again and gently pulled his gaze to hers with a hand on his cheek. "Han?" she whispered again, hoping against hope that Chewie, Luke, Wedge, everyone else, were okay -
He interrupted her thoughts. "You didn't answer me."
"Look, I'm sorry. I knew it was stupid, I shouldn't'a done it, but - "
She was completely puzzled. "What? What did you do?"
His gaze shifted back to the floor and his hands found his pockets again. "You don't wanna marry me."
"What?" Leia reiterated the events of the evening, realized that a significant part of the proceedings had been misunderstood. "No!" At his startled look she realized what she had said. "No! I mean, I can't believe, you - No, I didn't mean 'no,' I meant 'yes' but I - "
His head came up and he interrupted her. "You mean 'yes'?"
"Yes, I mean 'yes'! Are you serious?" She ducked her head and chuckled to herself. "This hasn't gone right at all, has it?"
Still looking a bit unsure of himself, Han's eyes searched Leia's. "Leia, do you want to marry me?"
Without a beat, Leia whispered back to him. "More than anything."
And then he was there, holding her in his arms, seemingly holding onto the reality of her consent more than anything. He crookedthe top of heragainst the metals and decorations of his uniform and set his chin on the top of her head. With her vantage point, crushed against Han's chest, arms wrapped tightly around his back and ear against his ribcage, Leia could hear how rapidly his heart was beating, how shallow his breaths were. She smiled as he sighed, loosened his grip, slid his arms down around her waist, and looked at her.
Gorgeous and relieved. That's how he looks. She chuckled. "Should have known that any proposal from you would be interesting." And surprisingly romantic.
He grinned his familiar half-smile at her. "Gotta keep you on your toes, Your Worshipfulness. Can't have you getting bored, huh?" His eyes softened and the smile vanished as he stroked her cheek absently. "You're sure? You're not just saying 'yes' because you're surprised or anything?"
"Solo." Leia looked him in the eye. "I want to marry you. Have for awhile. I've been waiting since that comment on the Falcon coming back from Anselm. I just didn't expect any of this to happen tonight. And certainly not in this way."
"Surprised you, though?"
"Sucker-punched. Completely caught me off guard." She smiled at him, and the last vestiges of tension drained away as the brown in his eyes shifted to a warm green. "I wouldn't have it any other way."
"Yeah. Thought so. Luke did, too."
Luke? "You talked to Luke about this?" My brother, the straight-faced, honest farmboy, yeah, right -
"Uh, well, yeah." He lowered his voiced. "Kinda asked his, uh, permission."
She stared at him, literally feeling her jaw drop and her amusement spark until she began to laugh at both the imagined scenario and Han's current sheepish look.
He looked back at her with anger. "Yeah, goes to show how appreciative you are. I face down your brother, who, by the way, is mumbling 'I told you so,' and 'finally' under his breath the entire time and giving me crap about how he's not sure this is a 'good match' and all you do is laugh at me."
Leia tried to control her mirth but was unsuccessful. "You asked Luke's permission?"
His glare was acid. "Hey, look, he's your last relative and I knew it was some kind of Alderaanian ritual or somethin'." His gaze shifted again, this time in a more amused way. "Glad your real dad isn't around though. That would have stopped me from proposing more than anything."
An image of Han asking Darth Vader for her hand in marriage sprang up into her mind and only made Leia laugh harder. Her amusement seemed to fuel his own, and he pulled her once again into his embrace. She sighed and wrapped her arms around his waist. She could feel him kiss the crown of her head and lay his face against her hair. My fiancé. My husband. She closed her eyes and pressed in closer to his chest. I knew it would happen if I was patient. I knew he would do this. He touched his lips against her hair again and moved down to kiss her right ear. She smiled. This is where I belong - where we both are supposed to be. We do work. Better than anyone realizes.
Han's voiced rumbled into her ear. "Leia?"
Have I mentioned how much I love his voice? "Yeah?"
She lifted her head and looked at him. He was looking away, but she knew exactly what he meant. "Thank you," she whispered and snaked an arm around his neck, pulling his lips to hers. She remembered the kisses before, the chaste and the passionate, the frantic and the calculating, and decided that this one, the one that promised so many more to come, was the best, the one she cherished above any other. This kiss meant more. It was a vow, more official than any ceremony, than any title. And the smile that came to Han's face after she lifted her lips from his was brilliantly sealing and spoke more eloquently than any part of his comm message.
Leia Organa Solo.
Organa Solo. Solo.
She smiled back.
I guess you'll never be so solo again, Solo.
"Submit Review" you will . . . okay, I'm not Yoda, you figured me out . . . sorry.