This vignette is dedicated to Pegatha, for her inspiring inspiration with her version of the Saputcu prince story. Pegatha, you are so sad. But thanks anyway.
"A Princess and a Gurf Like Me"
I guess there's this old story somewhere. I'm not sure where it came from, and it doesn't really matter much. I don't care, at least. Anyways, there's this gurf – this stupid, green gurf – that used to be a prince. A real, certifiable prince. The kind of prince that usually got the goods in the end. Yeah, that prince. And he got caught up in his own world, you know, got idiotic enough to think he was pretty good. Full of himself. Liked how his life was goin', was all ready to declare himself king of the place. Yeah, well, he hooks up with this chic with some kinda special powers – one of those Jedi, I'm sure of it now – and she turns him into the gurf I mentioned.
The guy gets nailed for having some self-confidence.
I thought about the gurf story today, when I stormed out of a meeting or something, I don't know what it was. And as I punched the wall in the fresher, I got to thinking 'bout that prince. He wasn't doing nothin' wrong, really, thinking he was great. Maybe he was. I mean, how was that one chic gonna see everything about 'im in the two seconds she was in the story? If she really wanted to turn him into a gurf, she shoulda looked at the rest of his life.
Maybe he'd done some stuff he wasn't proud of. Maybe he knew what he'd been doin' was wrong and woulda fixed it in time.
Or maybe he really didn't genuinely deserve the princess at the end.
Sitting in the meeting, or whatever it was, I couldn't help but think how far I'd gotten. I mean, look at me. I can basically blind myself with all those stupid metals I have to wear. I'm a general in the New Republic Navy, aren't I? I signed up, I committed. I did what I thought I'd never do, even if Leia had to tie me up and make me sign the stupid paper herself. But I did it on my own. By myself. 'Cause I wanted to.
And, you know, it's been worth it. It's been good to see people respect me, think somethin' of me and my experience. Listen to me. 'Cause that didn't happen in the old days. In the old days, I woulda been lucky to get someone t' talk with me that wasn't drunk or spice-high on their own selves, 'sides Chewie. Smugglers don' get a whole lot of respect from anyone, really.
But now, well, now it's all different. Now, I'm somebody. Somebody worth listening to.
It's that kind of thinking that got the prince in trouble, too.
So Madine decides to pick a fight in a strategy conference. He's been pushin' for a Coruscant offensive for awhile, and he knows it's his ticket to a nice cushy retirement. If we get Coruscant, we all get to quit, 'cause that means we've won. We get the capital of the galaxy, we beat the Empire. We get outta the war, can declare ourselves official and all.
'Cept we don' have the resources for it.
And me, being the idiot I am, tell 'im so.
Least t' say, Madine didn't appreciate it. And it didn't have anything to do with my comments at the beginning, either. He was all gentlemanly and decided t' bypass the insult to his nonexistent common sense and his mother.
I do not wanna go into Coruscant.
It's a dangerous thing, this mission. It's a waste of time right now, when we should be cleanin' up after Endor and recruiting like crazy. We got no supplies, our troops are exhausted, and we've got no outlying base within the system.
It's a stupid plan.
But Madine wants to get official and finish the stupid war. So he picks a fight with me today at the strategy consultation-thingie and tells me to sit down an' shut up 'cause I don't know what the hell I'm talking about.
I don' know what I'm talking about?
Like I'm gonna let that one go.
So I tell him exactly why I know what I'm talking about. I tell 'im that he's jeopardizing the Endor contingent and the cleanup in the Bakura system if he pulls out the ships he wants t' use on Coruscant. I tell 'im that it'd be insane to try to get past Bilbringi, with the shipyards and all, but the Koornacht cluster would be even tougher to navigate. I tell 'im he could try to pass through Fondor, but the Empire's got the shipyards there, too, and the best bet he's got is to get a foothold on Borleias and shoot from there. Then I tell 'im that we can't spare the ships to occupy Borleias for long, and the best thing we could do would be to hold off and see what the situation's like in a coupla months.
I do not wanna go into Coruscant.
Well, Madine sits back and smirks and I begin a really bad feeling about what he's gonna say.
An' good ol' Madine doesn't disappoint. "Well, you make a very good case, Solo, but why don' you let the big boys take care of this issue, huh? Go home, talk it over with your princess?"
I kinda narrow my eyes and lean forward and ask him what he means.
"I mean, Solo, that she's probably more on top of the galactic geography than you are at this point." He paused and smirked. "Or on top of something, at least."
I shot up faster than I think I ever had, more because he was insulting Leia than because he was insulting me, and asked him what the hell he was tryin' to do. He just nods at me and says that he thinks I know what he's talkin' about.
Now Madine an' I've had our issues before. We've always fought, probably more 'cause we're both Corellian than 'cause we hate each other. We do, but that's beside the point. We've never messed up a meeting before. I've been real careful not to get all out of control with 'im, and here he goes, telling me I don't belong here when he's the one who's pitching suicidal strategies.
But, see, that insult there wasn't about me. He aimed for Leia.
That's a real touchy subject 'round here lately.
I get what people are so angry about. I understand she's a princess and important and all. Yeah, I get that. I see that enough by myself, thanks. And here I thought things would get easier when I became a general. At least a princess can be with a general, right? So what, he isn't a prince, so what?
That's not what matters, obviously.
So I get worked up. No one is allowed to take a stab at my princess. She's off-limits. Madine's crossing a big line here. And he knows it, too.
By the time I finally reached him around the other end of the table, Madine had stood up and had kept up his stupid smirk. I came up real close, grabbed the collar of his uniform and threw him up against the wall.
Now, okay, I realize assaulting an associate probably wasn't the smartest thing to do, but I couldn't help it. Insults at me, I'm used to it. I can handle 'em. I know what they're gonna say and I can let it slide off my back. But shots at Leia, that's something else. No one can say anything about her – she doesn't deserve it.
So, to my mind at the time, I was kinda defending her honor.
By the time Madine had stood up, I was leaving. I turned around in time to see him wipe a hand over his mouth, right where some blood had dripped onto his chin. Bastard deserves it, I thought. And I rushed outta the conference center of the ship and went back to the fresher, hoping t' escape it. Hoping to let it all out.
It didn't work.
I stood there a long time, lookin' at myself in the mirror, trying to think. But all that came to mind was the stupid story of the gurf. I started out the day as a prince – confident an' ready to take on idiots like Madine. A prince, really, I swear. I woke up feelin' like I could do anything, could make a difference, you know? I'm a general, a leader. I earned that.
And while Leia had nothing to do with that, she has an awful lot to do with helping me keep up my confidence. Maintain it, you know? I can handle the job description, but it's her that makes the day worth it when we come home.
But what if I'm nothin' more than a stupid gurf? What if I only thought I was takin' care of what I kinda decided I believed in? What if I'm not as great as I think?
And as fun as it is to think of Madine as the Jedi chic in that story, it still means that he turned me, a real prince, into a gurf today. He ruined it.
And so I left the refresher and kinda wandered around the ship for awhile, keepin' an eye out for Madine and my court marshal. I walked through the corridors, grabbed a ration bar from the mess, just moped around aimlessly. 'Cause I kinda lost my identity there in that meeting. I'm a gurf. That's it. That's all. I can't get outta it – it's what I deserve to be. I got too confident, you know? Too sure of myself.
And if that wasn't enough, I kept thinkin' about Leia and how she was stuck with a gurf like me. It wasn't fair to her. I mean, look at what Madine said. Is that what everyone thinks? I dunno. I don' pay attention. Maybe she knows. Do people say things like that to her all the time?
I hate that.
So I was feelin' real weird when I got back to the cabin tonight. It's even her cabin, I don' have one 'cause when I'm not sleeping with her, I'm in the Falcon. Jus' what I need, Madine's makin' sense all of a sudden. Leia looks real low when you think of it that way. But, see, we don't. I don't see me and her as some kind of cheap fling. Never have, even before we actually got together.
But that's obviously what they think.
And so I step through the hatch, thinkin' about how awful this setup really is, how bad it looks for Leia, when she comes up and hugs me. Yeah, I forgot, she's home early today and promised me some time alone, time we don' get enough of. And I feel weird. Awkward.
I don't know how to act. It's like she's changed or somethin'. Like we've changed.
That's stupid, I tell myself. Nothin's changed. She probably doesn't even know that I threw Madine against the wall.
So I play it cool and ask her how her day was.
"What's wrong?" She asks instead.
How the hell did she know that?
"Nothin'. What're we eating for dinner?" I'm tryin' so hard to leave it alone.
She tilts her head and narrows her eyes. "Han, what's up? You're acting strange."
Gods know I can't really lie to her. She's too good. And I think she knows me pretty well, enough to tell when I'm lyin'. So I tell her.
"Sweetheart," I say as I lead her to the couch by her hand, "do'ya remember the story of the gurf prince?"
She must think I'm crazy. "The gurf prince?"
"Yeah, you know, the one where the prince-guy thinks he's good and then this chic turns him into a gurf?"
"Is this what you and Wedge and Carlist discuss all day?"
"C'mon, :Leia, I'm bein' serious."
She nodded. "Yeah, okay."
"I kinda felt like the gurf today."
She smiled. "It's better than a nerf – "
"Leia – "
" – or nerfherders, they're always the annoying ones – "
"Leia, it's not a joke!"
Now, I didn't mean to yell at her. I don' do that with her because I don' want to scare her or hurt her like that. But I couldn't help myself. The whole day had been such a disaster, I couldn't keep it all t'myself anymore. It was bad enough that I was tryin' to talk about it with her, she didn't have to make fun of it.
She looked kinda surprised, but she closed her mouth and let me talk. "Look, for awhile there, I was doin' good, wasn't I? I was doin' my job, and doin' a good job of it, too, right?"
"But today, I just, I just – I think I lost it. You know? I don' deserve t' be here. I'm not military, you an' I know it. I'm not any good. An' I, I can't stand the others, the generals. They're different. They act different. Most of 'em have at least gone to university. They're smart and important. And I'm – " He grimaced, "me."
She shook her head. "What happened today, Han?"
I wasn't about to get into it with her right then an' there. It would hurt her too much, I think. "Nothin'. I just realized I don' fit in up there."
"Sure you did. What else, Han?"
I breathed deep. How does she do that? "Oh, Madine shot down a proposal, 's'all." I looked at her and saw that she wasn't buyin' it. "Look, it wasn't anything important. I just feel like an idiot – I thought I was where I wanted to be, where I was happy, and then everything changed on me."
"You became a gurf."
He sighed. "Yeah."
"Uh-huh. Can I ask you a question, Han?" Her eyes seemed to latch onto mine. I nodded, kinda afraid of what she would say. "Did someone give you a hard time about me today?"
I blinked at her. How does she do that? "No. What? No, 'course not."
She nodded. "Yeah, right." She sighed. "Look, Han, I can guess what you heard, and I'm sorry. Really I am. But everyone is talking about it. I hear things all the time. Mon Mothma even pulled me aside one day after a meeting and asked me to quietly leave you for the sake of appearances." She smiled softly. "I don't know what you've heard, but I get the feeling it was something about me. And that this gurf thing is at least partly about that."
My head spun as I tried to figure out how she got all of this from what I'd said. "Now, wait a minute – "
"You may think you're a gurf, nerfherder, but I don't believe it at all. I think you are deserving of everything you've gotten so far." Her eyes twinkled. "Even annoying princesses. You just don't think so yourself. You come off as being strong and tough, when, in fact, you really are insecure about your responsibilities."
"You're way off – "
She chuckled. "Maybe, but I don't think so. Look, Han, about being a general, you did that on your own. You sought out a commission and they gave it to you. You were responsible for the ground assault on Endor, and you succeeded. You earned your rank. Whether you feel suitable for it or not, your record is fantastic. You do deserve it." She looked down at her hand as she reached and grabbed mine. "And, about you and me, well, it's going to be hard, I think. I think that's something we're both going to have to put up with." She looked back up at me. "But I don't want to give up. Do you?"
Is she kidding? "No."
"And I don't really think it matters what they say, do you?" I shake my head. "I love you, Han. Whether you don't deserve me or whether I'm some kind of prostitute, it doesn't matter. We know what's going on. Right?"
Gods, she's amazing, sometimes. "Right." I smile at her and realize she's right. Well, Leia usually is, but she's dead on now.
Then she switches her look and winks at me. "Hey, Solo, you do know what happens at the end of that story, right?"
"Huh? What story?"
I gotta think about it for a sec. Oh, now, wait a minute – "Yeah, I think so." And here I was thinkin' bein' the gurf prince was a bad thing. "I dunno. Think this one'll end up the same as the other one?"
She laughs and pulls me closer as her arms sneak 'round my neck. "Why don't we find out?"
And while I think that me becomin' a prince again isn't really gonna happen ever, inside, after Leia's little experiment, when she pulled her lips from mine and smiled at me, I kinda felt like one.
Hey, the spell should be broken, right? The princess kissed me.
Me. The gurf.
Maybe a princess and a gurf like me really will work out after all.
And they lived happily ever after . . . now press "Submit Review." ;)