Disclaimer: These characters don't belong to me. I'm not making any money off this story. Please don't sue me.
When Luke swung them across to the skiff, Leia felt an overwhelming sense of relief. Unfortunately, it was short lived. Han was kneeling beside Chewbacca with a worried and confused look on his face.
"I can't see it well enough to help you pal. All I see is big shapes. Lando, is there a first-aid kit on board?"
"Let's go," Luke called, "And don't forget the droids."
Leia bent over Han, placing her hand against his back. "I'll look for one," she said.
Han turned to look at her. She was a dark blur against the glaring brightness of Tatooine. "Thanks."
Leia scrounged around in the compartments in the sides of the skiff and finally found a first-aid kit. She was surprised to find it reasonably well stocked. She went back to Han and Chewbacca. Luke had taken over the helm from Lando and they were speeding back toward the Jundland Wastes where the Millennium Falcon and Luke's X-Wing were hidden near Ben Kenobi's home.
"How are you doing, Chewie?" Leia asked, stealing a moment to look at Han. He seemed very disoriented. She wanted nothing more than to hold him in her arms, but Chewie's injuries took priority.
I'm okay, Chewie said, The arm hurts though.
Leia began cleaning the wound with an antiseptic pad from the first aid kit.
Chewie grunted with pain.
"I'm sorry." Leia said. "I know that stings."
It's not so bad. You're getting pretty good at this, he said to her as she started applying bacta gel.
"Unfortunately, I've had a lot of practice." Leia smiled.
Han was sitting next to Chewie, quietly listening to the exchange between Leia and his first mate, when he realized he wasn't having to translate. When had Leia learned Wookiee? He knew she was starting to learn it on the way to Bespin, but Wookiee was a complex language, not something to be picked up in a couple of weeks, yet here she was understanding Wookiee like a native. A sinking pit began to form in his already queasy stomach. How long have I been gone, he wondered. Han stood up and moved away from them. He leaned against the railing of the skiff and stared out at a featureless sea of white. He shut his eyes trying to will his vision to return to normal.
Suddenly, there were arms encircling his waist, and Leia's cheek rested against his back.
"Chewie will be fine," she said to him. "How are you doing?"
"I'm okay." he lied. What else could he say? I'm half blind. I feel like throwing up. I'm exhausted. I'm confused. How the hell did I end up here? How long have I been gone?
"When we get back to the Falcon, I can put drops in your eyes that will clear your vision a lot faster. How's your stomach? The medical droid I talked to said you'd probably be nauseated."
"Maybe a little." he admitted.
"That's okay," she said, "I brought something for that too."
He turned to face her. Suddenly he wanted nothing more than to take her in his arms. As he slipped his arms around her, he was shocked to find bare skin beneath his hands. He ran his hands quickly over her back to verify what he was feeling.
"What are you wearing?" he whispered.
"Not a lot," was Leia's flat reply.
Han quickly began to pull his shirt off. He placed it over her shoulders, and she quietly slipped her arms through the sleeves. He pulled her to him, clutching at her, tucking her head under his chin. She rested her cheek on his chest against the soft fabric of his undershirt.
"Are you okay? Did they hurt you?"
"I'm fine, Han. I think your fat friend might have been saving me for later."
"That slimy son of a bitch." He pushed her away from him slightly, holding her by the shoulders. He looked at her, desperate to see for himself that she was okay, but all he saw was a dark blur in front of him.
"It's okay. I'm fine. And believe me, Jabba got his."
He pulled her too him again. They stood there holding on to each other until they heard Luke call "We're here."
A windstorm had begun to pick up as the group made their way to the ships. Luke and Lando lifted Artoo into place to start warming up the X Wing. Then they walked back over to where the others stood by the Falcon's ramp.
"Well, I guess I should be going." Luke said.
Chewbacca hugged the young Jedi and howled. Thank you Luke, for everything. You were really amazing today.
Luke reached up to scratch the Wookiees neck in a traditional Wookiee sign of friendship. "Anytime Chewie, you take care of these guys okay?"
You got it. Chewbacca gestured to Threepio and Lando. Come on, let's get this bird in the air.
Lando shook Luke's hand. "We'll see you back at the rendezvous?"
"In a couple of days." Luke said.
Lando clapped him on the shoulder. "I've got to hand it to you, you're some fighter. Have a safe trip."
"You too." Luke said, as Lando walked up the Falcon's ramp.
Luke went over then and hugged Han, which startled him, because with all the sand in the air, he could see even less than before.
"Whoa, Kid." Han said.
"It's good to have you back, Han."
"Thanks, it's good to be back."
"You take care, and I'll see you in a couple of days."
"Right." Han was bone weary and half leaned against, half clung to the ramp supports.
"I'm going to walk Luke over to his ship. I'll be right back." Leia said, touching Han's arm.
Han shut his eyes, willing himself to keep standing. When he opened them again the wind had momentarily died down, and he could see Luke and Leia, two blurred shapes locked in an embrace. The pit in his stomach got suddenly larger, and he wondered again how long he'd been gone, and what had been happening while he was away.
Leia came back and threaded her arm through his. "Come on, let's get you inside."
Han could hear the Falcon's engines roaring to life. He could hear the ramp shut behind them. He had expected to see better once they got on board the Falcon, but instead the interior seemed impossibly dark.
"Why is it so dark in here?" He grumbled.
"It isn't." Leia said, "You just don't have twin suns providing all that light. Come on, we'll put those drops in your eyes and get your vision all straightened out."
"You guys settle in, we're going to take off in a few minutes." Lando called from the cockpit.
"He certainly has made himself comfortable." Han said, as Leia lead him back to the Falcon's makeshift medical center.
"He got us off Bespin safely, Han. We tried to get to you, but we were too late. Lando's been tireless in his efforts to find you. He's been working in Jabba's palace, waiting for Fett to hand you over for almost two months. Here, sit down."
Han leaned down to feel the bed beneath him then slowly sat down on it. He could hear Leia opening a cabinet. He felt her brush against him, as she came to stand between his legs.
"Tilt your head back and open your eyes."
As she leaned over him to put the drops in his eyes, something hit his chest. Instinctively, he reached for it.
"What's this?" he said, his hand closing around the links of chain hanging from the collar around her neck.
Han brought his other hand up to follow the chain up to the collar. "Jabba chain you to his throne?"
Leia sighed. "Yes."
Han let go of the chain and let the back of his hand slide down her body, taking note of the metal bikini top. Finally he stopped and held some of the gauzy fabric hanging from her hips in his hand. He rubbed it between his thumb and forefinger. "I bet you're quite an eye full in this." The statement was sad and angry, more than sexual.
"If you'd let me put these drops in your eyes, you could see for yourself." Leia said, trying to lighten his mood.
Obediently, Han tilted his head back again and opened his eyes. She put three drops in each eye. They were cold, but didn't sting.
"Okay," Leia said, "you need to keep your eyes closed for five minutes. Why don't you go ahead and lie down."
Han lay back. He was exhausted.
"I'm going to get you a glass of water." Leia said, "You're a little dehydrated."
A minute later she came back from the galley. Han sat up. She put two small pills in his hand.
"These are for the nausea," she said.
Han popped them in his mouth. She put the glass of water in his hand.
"Drink all of this," she said.
Han did as he was told. He could hear her rummaging around through cabinets.
"What are you looking for?"
"Something to get this collar off."
"Try the overhead bin above the game table. There should be a set of laser cutters in the toolbox."
"I'll be right back."
A few minutes later she returned. "I found them." She looked at the chrono. "Open your eyes."
Han opened his eyes and saw her standing in front of him. At first, it was if he was seeing her through water, then he blinked and she came into focus.
"Now there is a sight for sore eyes," he said.
"What do you think of dancing girl as my new fall back career?"
Han grinned at her. "Honestly," he said, walking over to her, "you're a little short for the job."
She gave him a soft backhand to the stomach. "Thanks a lot."
Han doubled over.
"Han! What...let me see."
He was holding his stomach. "Oh, man," he moaned. Gingerly, he straightened back up.
"Let me see." Leia said again. She tugged at his t-shirt, pulling it up gently to reveal a square grid of burned flesh. "Oh, Han, I'm so sorry. Let's get this off you and get some bacta on that. Take off your pants too."
"Sex, sex, sex. Is that all you ever think about?" he said, as he pulled the t-shirt over his head and then began unfastening his pants.
Leia got the tube of bacta gel and then turned to look at him. Even injured he was splendid as he stood before her, haggard and tired, but irresistible in his boxer shorts. "Actually, lately, yes."
"Why don't you lay down, and I'll put this on you."
"Wait a minute," he said, "Let's get this off you first." He picked up the laser cutters. Leia tilted her head to the side and let him cut the collar off her. Her neck was raw in places where the metal had rubbed. Han bent and kissed the angry flesh. Leia shut her eyes and let the kiss wash over her.
"I've missed you," she whispered.
Han pulled away and looked at her. He kissed her gently on the forehead. Leia opened her eyes.
"Okay," she said, "let's take care of that burn."
As Han turned to lay on the bed, she caught sight of the bruises on his back. The carbon had frozen him perfectly in time. Nothing had healed, not the burns from the scan grid and not the bruises from the butts of the Lando's guard's rifles.
"Those bruises look pretty bad. Do you think anything might be broken?"
"Nothing feels broken. I tell you what, I'm pretty tired. I think I'm going to go get in the shower and get cleaned off. I want to lie down in my own bed, not this thing." He said, indicating the medical bunk.
"Okay." Leia said, "We'll put the bacta on after you get out of the shower. Mind if I join you?" She blushed.
Han gave her a weak grin. "Be my guest, but don't expect fireworks. I'm so tired, I'm afraid I'd drop you, Sweetheart."
Leia patted his arm. "No fireworks necessary, it's just...I don't know...it's like I can't believe you're actually here. I can't see and touch you enough...you know?"
Han put his hands on her shoulders and kissed her forehead again. "I know."
"Why don't you go ahead," Leia said, "I'm just going to clean up here and then I'll be right in to join you."
"Sounds good." Han said and turned to walk back to his cabin.
Leia picked up the medical supplies and put them back into the cabinet and then returned the laser cutters to the toolbox in the lounge.
Han turned the water on and stepped into the shower stall. He couldn't remember ever feeling so exhausted. When the water hit the burn on his stomach a wave of nausea hit him. He turned his back to the water, but the pain, the nausea and the exhaustion were a vicious combination. As his vision began to tunnel, his first panicked thought was that he was losing his eyesight again. It was only when the tunnel narrowed to a dot that he realized he was passing out.
Leia came into the cabin and shut the door. She happily pealed off the remains of Jabba's dancing girl costume. She slipped into a robe and stepped into the bathroom.
"How are you doing, Han?" she said as she went to open the stall door. Then she saw him slumped on the floor of the shower, the water still blasting on to his head. Leia reached in and turned off the water.
"Han, Han," she said, patting his face. He was unresponsive. She quickly checked for a pulse. His pulse was fine, he'd just passed out. Leia cursed herself for letting him come in here alone. She pulled a dry towel down and draped it over him. She ran down the hallway and into the cockpit.
"Chewie, I need you," she said.
But Leia, this is so sudden, Chewie said, eying her gaping robe.
Leia instinctively pulled the robe closed. "It's Han," she said.
Chewie was out of his seat and running after her in an instant.
Han came to as Leia was putting a bandage over the burn on his stomach. Leia touched the back of her hand to his cheek.
"How are you feeling?" She asked gently.
"How'd I get here?" Han moaned. "What happened?"
"You passed out in the shower. I had to get Chewie to get you into bed."
Han brought his hands up to cover his face. "Great."
"Han, you're exhausted. What you need is some rest."
"Yeah." Han muttered, feeling embarrassed and humiliated.
"I'm going to go get in the shower," Leia said. "I'll be back in a little while."
"Alright." Han said without looking at her.
When he woke up she was warm and naked there beside him. He slid a hand over her in disbelief. It still amazed him that he could wake up to find her there in his bed. How long have I been gone, he wondered. Leia stirred beside him. She lifted herself up on one elbow and looked at him, her eyes still heavy from sleep.
"Hey," she said.
"Did you sleep okay? How do you feel?"
"Fine. I'm fine."
She looked at him searching his face for answers. It bothered him.
"Stop mothering me," he grumbled. "I'm fine."
Leia pulled back from him and dropped her eyes, stung by his comment. "I'm sorry." she muttered and went to get up.
She felt his arms tighten around her waist.
"Wait," he said, "I didn't mean that. It's just…I feel weird."
Leia put a palm to his chest. "I understand."
Han pushed her hand away, suddenly angry. "No you don't, you weren't hung up there on Jabba's wall."
"No," Leia said, "I was chained to his chair, but I've been hung on a wall. It's humiliating and painful. Of course, it wasn't the same, I was conscious the whole time." She moved away from him and picked up her robe, tightening it around her, shoring her defenses.
Han felt like an ass; he ran a hand over his face. When he looked up again she was moving toward the door.
"Don't go," he said.
Leia turned to him. "I love you," she said simply, "but I can't let you lash out at me. I don't have the strength for it. Not right now. I'm sorry."
He rolled out of bed to stop her, but when he stood up the room started spinning, and he was suddenly lightheaded. Leia was by his side, helping him back into bed before he knew what happened.
"Lay back down, you just stood up too fast. You haven't eaten, and you're still a little dehydrated. I'll go make you some breakfast, I'll be right back." She pushed his hair back from his forehead.
"Oh no," Han groaned, "You're not going to cook are you?"
Leia smiled at him. "Of course not, I want you to feel better."
Han gave her a weak grin. "Good. You scared me there for a minute."
"The feeling's mutual," she said and stepped out the door.
She was back a few minutes later with an enormous tray of bread, fruit, cheese, water and juice. She sat it down on the bed.
"I thought we could share."
Han stared at all the food. "Well, unless your appetite's really picked up, we're going to have to share this with an army."
"That can be arranged." Leia said flatly, then smiled at him.
Han picked up a roll and started eating it. "So," he said, "how long have I been out of it?"
Leia sighed and set the fruit she'd been eating back on the tray. She'd wondered how long it would take him to ask about this. "Six months."
"Six months!" Han exhaled as though he'd been punched. "Damn, I was way off. I was guessing a couple of weeks, maybe a month tops. He shook his head in disbelief. "Six months."
"Fett didn't take you right to Jabba. It took us forever to track him. We had informants in Mos Eisley waiting for him to show up. Lando and Chewie tried to trace him through space, with limited success. Finally, he showed up on Tatooine, but then there were price negotiations going on over you. That was when Lando decided to infiltrate Jabba's palace."
"Where were you during all this?"
Leia dropped her eyes and begin to pick at the blanket covering him. "At first, I went back to base with Luke. I don't know if you know this, but he lost a hand in a lightsaber duel with Vader. He was pretty banged up when we found him."
"He was dangling from a weather vane underneath the city."
"So Vader did lure him to Bespin."
"Yes, we apparently make good bait."
Han rubbed a hand across his face. "Damn."
"Anyway, I did what I could from base. Talked to our contacts, tried to find out if anyone had seen Fett. After a while...I don't know. It just wasn't enough. Things got a little crazy. I took a leave of absence and left."
Han's jaw dropped. "You left the rebellion?"
She wouldn't look at him.
"Leia?" He touched his fingers under her chin and pulled up slightly. Her eyes met his.
"All my life I've done the responsible thing. I did what I was asked; I behaved appropriately, and what did it get me? They took everything, Han, and left me nothing. I didn't think I'd live through it, and I wouldn't have, if you and Luke hadn't shown up. Then with you gone and Luke so absorbed in his Jedi training..." her voice trailed off.
"What?" Han said.
Leia shrugged and shook her head. She picked up her fruit again and began eating. She wouldn't look at him.
They sat for a while in silence quietly eating their breakfast. Han's head was swimming. His whole worldview was changing. Things he'd held to be universal constants had been irrevocably altered or cast aside all together, starting when Vader pulled his blaster from his hand without even touching it. Luke, who just days ago, in Han's mind, had been a gangly kid, was now a Jedi and had destroyed Jabba and his minions almost single handedly without appearing to even break a sweat. Now, Leia was sitting in front of him talking about having left the rebellion in order to find him. It all seemed so strange and unfamiliar, part of him wondered if he was dreaming and still trapped in the carbonite.
When it was obvious that neither one of them wanted anything else to eat, Leia took the tray back to the galley.
Her silence bothered Han. What's been going on he wondered.
She was back in a few minutes.
"I'm going to go ahead and get dressed," she said. "We'll be at Sullast in few hours."
Han watched as she started to brush out her hair, preparing to braid it in a more formal style than the single braid she'd been wearing. The falling cascade of auburn hair reminded him that he was feeling better. Breakfast really had helped. He moved off the bed, taking it slow this time and went to stand behind her. She wouldn't tell him what was going on in her mind, so he decided to let his body talk to her body. The words could come later.
Han woke suddenly. When had he fallen asleep? He reached for Leia, but she wasn't there. He looked around. She wasn't in the cabin at all. He frowned. Her absence didn't make sense to him. She'd been ravenous for him just a little while ago. There was an urgency and a need to her lovemaking, that he hadn't recognized from before. For what seemed like the billionth time, Han wondered what had been going on while he was gone. He ran his fingers through his hair and went to get in the shower.
Fifteen minutes later he emerged from his cabin, clean and clothed and a little pissed off. He found her in the lounge talking to Lando.
"Hey." Han said.
"Hey, buddy, good to see you're finally up and about. We were beginning to think you were going to sleep away the whole trip."
"No," Han said, "I feel like a new man. I hope you haven't gotten to used to my chair, 'cause I'm flying the rest of the way."
"Nope, I was just keeping it warm for you. Although, I've got to admit, flying the old girl again sure brings back some memories."
"Yeah, I bet." Han nodded.
There was an awkward silence.
"Well," Lando said, "since you guys are finally up, I think I'll go hit the shower."
"Sounds good." Han said, but his eyes were clearly focused on Leia.
When Lando left, Han set down opposite her at the game table. "I thought we got it straight that going to bed with someone means waking up with them."
Leia dropped her eyes. "I'm sorry. I was restless; I didn't want to wake you."
"What's wrong?" Her behavior was really starting to bother him. He felt like she was hiding something.
"I don't know. I just...going back to the rebellion now, after all these months, and at such a critical time. I guess...I don't know...I guess I'm just nervous."
"Nervous?" Han couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Why are you nervous?"
"Maybe nervous isn't the word. Apprehensive, maybe. I don't know. I feel so different." She wanted to explain. She wanted to blurt out, Luke talked in my head. I heard him in my head, and I haven't felt the same since. I've started having weird dreams that seem almost like visions. I suddenly feel part of the universe in a way I've never felt before. I don't know what's happening to me, and I'm scared. Leia didn't say any of what she was really thinking. None of it made any sense to her, so it was impossible for her to explain it to him. "Don't listen to me," she said, "it's no big deal. I just need to calm down, get back in the swing of things. I'm sure everything will be fine."
Han patted her hand. "Yeah, you'll be fine. Listen, they're going to be thrilled to have you back. You're a principle; you're a leader. Everything's going to be fine, you wait and see."
Just then Chewie came in from the cockpit. We're just about ready to come out of hyperspace, are you going to sit there talking all day or are you going to help me fly this thing?
Han grinned at his hairy friend. "Lead on pal."
The Millennium Falcon successfully docked at the Freedom twenty minutes later. There were cheers when they came on board. Mon Mothma herself was there to greet them, along with General Rieekan and several other high-ranking officers that Han didn't immediately recognize. One of them he knew by reputation, a Mon Calamari Admiral, Akbar was the name, he thought. The officers greeted everyone, but then immediately swarmed around Leia. Han barely had time to tell her he'd see her later before all the leaders were on board a transport and spinning away. Several pilots had also been waiting, and Han spent the next few hours having his hand shook and catching up on news and gossip.
Leia was quickly briefed on the current situation, but it was clear she was out of the loop on this one. She listened intently for several hours as strategy and the political implications of mounting a major assault were discussed. Various players came and went as the revolving meeting continued. There was to be a big briefing for senior staff and all the wing and ground commanders that evening.
Leia was surprised to see Han already there when she came into the briefing room. She wondered who had invited him.
Han saw her enter the room. He wondered if she would come over to him or if she would choose to keep her public distance. He was delighted when she sat down next to him. She looked a little tense, but considering the circumstances that was normal.
Leia was, of course, surprised by his announcement that he'd agreed to lead the strike team on Endor. She'd immediately volunteered to be part of the command crew.
The briefing went well, everyone was excited by the possibility of destroying not only the new Death Star but also the Emperor himself. The news about the Bothans had been sobering, but the air was tinged with excitement nonetheless. After the meeting officially broke up, smaller groups began to form to discuss more specific details. Han was pulled into a group of generals. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Leia talking to Luke and Mon Mothma. The next time he looked, they were all gone.
Han hadn't expected to feel so good about officially joining the rebellion. He did it primarily as a way to prove his commitment to Leia, but now that he'd done it, he was surprised to find he liked the idea. He knocked on the door to her temporary quarters with a zest and flair he hadn't felt in a long time.
Leia opened the door. He slipped in the door picked her up and swung her around. "Hey little girl, wanna fuck a general?" He grinned, and then he saw Luke, and set her down.
Leia was crimson.
Han cleared his throat awkwardly. "I didn't see you there, kid."
"Obviously." Luke said, raising his eyebrows.
Luke had been sitting in a chair with his back to the door. Han could see his lightsaber on the counter of the kitchenette. He noted these quarters were larger and nicer than any of Leia's previous cabins. Han wondered if that was because she hadn't picked them out, they'd been assigned to her. He could see two cups of coffee sitting on the table in the lounge area. It dawned on him that he'd interrupted a conversation, maybe more. Where had Leia been sitting? The placement of her coffee cup was inconclusive.
Luke stood up. "Actually, I need to be going."
"But you didn't..." Leia started.
Luke silenced her with a gesture. "Some other time," he said. In her mind, he said soon.
Leia just nodded.
Han frowned, he'd never seen Leia silenced so easily, and he didn't like it.
At the door, Luke realized he'd left his lightsaber on the counter. He held out his hand and the device flew to him. He clicked it on to his belt.
The gesture startled Han and reminded him of Vader's trick with his blaster.
"Yeah, night, kid."
Luke smiled at him and left.
Leia stared at the door for a moment.
"What was that about?" Han asked.
Leia looked at him, she wasn't sure which 'that' he was talking about. She shrugged. "Nothing," she took his hand, "come on let's go to bed, I've always wanted to do a general."
"Do a general?" Han raised his eyebrows, as she pulled him along. "Where are you picking up this language? You been hanging out in spacer's bars again?"
Leia batted her eyelashes in mock innocence. "Every chance I get," she purred.
Han scooped her up into his arms. "My kind of woman," he said as he carried her off to bed.
An hour later she lay curled in his arms, quietly sleeping, but Han was wide awake. He was sure there was more going on between Luke and Leia than met the eye. He looked down at the tiny woman lying next to him. What was she not telling him? Was she torn between them? Would she be sleeping with him if she was really in love with Luke? What was going on? A sinking sensation hit him. What if this was pity sex? What if she doesn't know how to tell me? What if she feels like she has to stay with me, because she said she loved me, but really she loves Luke? Han jaw was starting to clench. Was she capable of that kind of duplicity? Of course, she'd lead a double life in the Imperial Senate for years. Would she do that to him, though? He looked down at her. In sleep she seemed innocent, gentle, an angel. On the other hand, he'd seen her in fits of rage. He'd seen her kill. He'd seen her up to her armpits in mud and blood, shouting orders and in complete control of the situation. This whole thing is a mess, he thought.
Leia stirred. She instantly felt she was being stared at. She looked up to see Han looking down at her. The expression on his face disturbed her. He seemed angry.
"Hey," she said.
His face seemed to relax. "Hey."
"Sorry, I fell asleep."
"That's okay, it's been a long week for you."
"True." Leia lowered her eyes.
"So," Han started, "what did Luke want earlier."
Leia sighed. "I'm not sure. Something's bothering him. He said he'd tell me, but we haven't really had a chance to talk."
"So, I guess I interrupted you guys."
"I guess," she snuggled close to him, "but I can live with that kind of interruption." She slid over him, straddling his hips. She leaned down to kiss the sensitive hollow at the base of his neck.
If this is pity sex, Han thought, I can live with it.
Leia wasn't thinking about pity. Leia was thinking about oblivion; Leia was thinking about not thinking. When had things turned around like this? Six months ago, she had been a confident leader, sure of herself and her mission. The only place she'd been hesitant was in her relationship with Han. Now, here in bed with him, was the only place she felt confident. The whole business with Luke had been very unsettling. She had always known they shared a special bond, but this was ridiculous. Why was she capable of hearing him in her head? Did he talk in anyone else's mind? She didn't think so. He had become so powerful lately, she found herself somewhat intimidated around him. In some ways, he was the same old Luke, but in other profound ways, he was a whole new entity, and it frightened her. She didn't want to think about it. She found herself moving over Han, kissing his neck, taking him inside her. Here she was comfortable; here she was strong. She could settle into an ancient rhythm and rock her fears away.
Their mission was a disaster. First Luke and Leia had gone off after that stormtrooper. Then Luke had come back without her. They'd sent the squad ahead while they went looking for Leia. Chewie and his damn stomach had landed them in a trap, where they ended up poked and prodded by swarm of fur balls that looked like fat little miniature Wookiees. Now here he stood outside the Ewok village on a walk way hundreds of feet above the ground. Luke had run off for who knows what reason. Actually, Leia knew, but she wouldn't tell him. "Hold me," she had said, so here he was holding her. 'Hold you,' he thought, hold you, touch you, fuck you, anything but talk to you. He was angry; he wanted to shake her. He wanted to yell at her and shake her until she told him the truth. He was sure of it now. He knew that she really did love Luke. Yet here she stood in his arms, and he never wanted to let her go. Still, that was going to happen. She was crying now, softly against his chest. He knew eventually she'd pull back, eventually she'd tell him. He braced himself for it, but it didn't happen.
Instead, she wiped her eyes and looked up at him. "I'm sorry," she said, "I've really got to pull myself together. Look, I'm going to go ask Threepio if he can get the Ewoks to give me my other clothes back."
Han stared at the leather dress she was wearing. Fine, if she didn't want to talk about Luke okay with him. He'd take what he could get, play along. "Yeah," he said, "I've been meaning to ask you about that?"
"When I first got here, they offered me these clothes. It seemed diplomatic to take them up on the offer."
Han fingered the sleeve of the dress. "Where do you think this came from?"
"I don't know, I guess at some point they must have had a human woman living among them."
"Maybe, I don't know, I was going to ask Threepio if he could find out."
"Yeah, I'd be curious to know." He slipped his arm casually over her shoulder and they began to walk back toward the huts. He wasn't half as curious about the dress as he was about Luke's whereabouts. He looked down at Leia. A thought struck him. Maybe she was waiting to see how everything turned out, maybe she was letting fate decide her choice. If Luke came back from wherever it was he was going, she'd tell Han the truth about them, but if he didn't...
Leia stretched and Han could hear her back crack.
"What do you suppose Ewoks sleep on?" she asked, obviously hoping for something comfortable.
"Probably fur and pelts." Han guessed.
Leia slid a hand under his shirt to slide warm across his belly. "Ooh, fur." she purred.
He grinned. "You are insatiable."
"Six months is a long time to be deprived," she said in her defense.
"Well, it's good to know you weren't doing the flight crews to keep from getting lonely."
Leia smiled at him, "No, of course not, the flight crews and I are just good friends."
Han laughed, and tightened his arm around her. He really did love this woman. She was gentle and funny when she wanted to be. She knew her own mind; she did her own thing. He kissed the top of her head as they walked. If she was torn between him and Luke, it wasn't from any sort of duplicity on her part. If she was torn, she was honestly torn. It soured his stomach, the thought of her with anyone else but him. On the other hand, he knew in the grand scheme of things, that the rest of the galaxy would look more favorably on her and Luke than they would look on her and him. Still, it didn't seem to matter to Leia what anyone else thought. She'd sat by him during the briefing. She'd also hugged Luke in front of everyone, though. Han was confused and he hated that. He knew she had some sort of bond with Luke, and he knew she wasn't being totally honest with him about it. Han looked back out into the night in the direction Luke had gone. In spite of everything he couldn't bring himself to hate the kid. He even found himself hoping Luke would be okay, that he would come back to them. He just didn't want Leia to choose Luke over him. He tightened his arm around her, and they walked the rest of the way back to the village in silence.
The next night, Han was feeling pretty good about himself. He and his team had successfully brought the shield down. Lando and his team had taken out the second Death Star. The Emperor was dead. Vader was dead, and he and his friends had emerged unscathed, well mostly unscathed. Leia had been shot, but if was a superficial wound, and Luke was in the medical center. Han didn't completely understand, but apparently Luke had been struck by lightening that came from the Emperor or that the Emperor caused. He wasn't sure, he just knew it had something to do with the Force. Luke had started feeling sick at the Ewok party. Han and Leia had gotten a shuttle and taken him back up to the Freedom. Leia was with Luke now, but Han didn't mind. She didn't love Luke, or at least not like she loved him. She thought of Luke as a brother, which pleased Han. He kind of thought of Luke as a brother too. He smiled as he made a pot of coffee. He wondered how much longer Leia would be. He had been waiting in her quarters for almost two hours. Maybe something was wrong. Maybe he should go back down to the med center.
Just as he decided he better go, Leia walked through the front door. She immediately dropped down into one of the overstuffed chairs in the lounge.
"Is that coffee I smell?"
Han came out from the kitchen with two steaming mugs. "Yep, want some?"
Leia eagerly took a mug from him. "Have I told you lately how much I love you?"
"Yeah, but I don't get tired of hearing it."
She smiled at him. "Well, I love you, a lot."
He grinned at her. "Yeah, I know."
"How's Luke?" Han said, sitting on the couch opposite her.
"He's going to be okay, but the Emperor really did a number on him. Force generated lightening is apparently pretty potent stuff."
"I guess so."
Leia scratched at her arm where a new synthflesh bandage covered her wound.
"Hey, don't pick at that." Han admonished, "You'll just aggravate it."
"I can't help it. It itches."
Han leaned over and took hold of the hand she was scratching with. "Leave it alone."
Leia let him hold her hand. "Fine."
Han took her coffee mug and set it on an end table. "Come here," he said softly.
Leia moved from the chair and settled into his lap. She leaned her head against his chest and sighed.
Han wrapped his arms around her. "You know," he said, "I was thinking earlier, that I'm glad you think of Luke as your brother. I kind of think of him as my brother too."
Leia adjusted herself in his lap so she could look at him. "Han, um, you misunderstood. I don't think of Luke as my brother. Luke IS my brother."
"You mean biologically?" Han said, confused.
"How is that possible?"
"Well, you know I was adopted by the Organas."
"You also know that Luke and I have the same birthday and are the same age."
"We were twins, separated at birth. General Kenobi took Luke to live on Tatooine with the Lars."
"And you were given to the Organas."
"How long have you known about this?"
"I just found out yesterday, right before Luke left. Luke's Jedi Master, Yoda, told him a couple days ago."
"So that's what you wouldn't tell me the other night."
"I don't get it, why didn't you just tell me then?"
Leia sighed, took a deep breath and said, "Well, because there's more to it."
Han looked at her, seeing the concern in her face. Whatever it was she hadn't said really bothered her, maybe even frightened her. He cradled her face in his hands. "What?" he said softly.
"Our father, my father..." Leia stopped. She couldn't bring herself to say it.
Han sat silently for a moment, brushing her hair back from her face. Whatever it was about their father, it was bad.
Leia paused. She took a deep breath, she decided to take another tact. "Okay," she paused again, resting her hand on his, "this is hard for me."
Han smiled at her. "That's okay, take your time. I'm not going anywhere."
She smiled back at him, bolstered by his commitment. "I don't think I told you this, but on Bespin the way we found Luke...you see, after the fight with Vader, Luke dove off a walkway into a ventilation tube to escape him. The tube dumped out on to the bottom of the city. He was hanging from a weather vane. Lando, Chewie and I were already leaving Bespin, when Luke called to me...through the Force...he spoke in my head." She paused, watching Han's face for a reaction.
He pursed his lips. "Talked in your head?"
"Yes, it's a very strange sensation. It's kind of hard to explain, but suddenly he was there in my head, calling my name and telling me where to find him. I had Chewie turn the Falcon around, and sure enough, there he was, right where I knew he would be."
"Because he told you...through the Force."
"So does that mean you...?" Han trailed off, not sure how he felt about the possibility of Leia with the kind of power Luke had been displaying.
She dropped her eyes. "Yes, apparently the Force is very strong in our family. The most we can figure out is that my abilities were latent somehow, but after Luke spoke to me in that way, something changed. It's like he opened a door in my mind that had always been closed before. After that incident not only could Luke speak directly into my head, but I could look at him and know how he was feeling, sometimes I could even sense his thoughts. It was very disconcerting."
"So what happens now?"
"He wants to train me."
Han frowned. "Train you? As a Jedi?"
"I guess. I don't know. This is all very sudden and very strange. I don't know how I feel about it. Especially this whole mess with Vader."
"Vader?" Han was confused.
Leia looked at him, looked deep into his eyes, willed him to understand, willed him to know, so she wouldn't have to say the words out loud.
And he knew. "Vader was your..."
Leia touched her fingers to his lips, stopping him. "Yes," she whispered.
He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her to him. She shut her eyes and leaned into his chest, wrapped her arms around him and held on tightly. He accepted this. She'd feared he'd push her away. As Leia sat there in his arms she reveled in the feel of him, in the solid reality of his presence. She'd known from the first day she'd met him when she emerged from that cell on the Death Star that her life had dramatically changed. In a way, she had died in that cell, and the woman that emerged was a new creature, someone stronger more fierce, and she continued to transform, altering and changing to follow a destiny she had little or no control over.
Han kissed her forehead. "Are you okay?" he whispered.
Leia thought about that. Was she okay? She moved to cradle his face in her hands. She kissed gently on the mouth, then pulled back and smiled at him. She rested her palms against his chest. "I'm fine," she said, quietly. She settled back against him, secure that, no matter what else happened, this was where she belonged.