Summary: AU.They couldn't bear to separate the twins. Life would be hard enough for them without that.
Warnings: Character Death. Alternate Universe. Han being a scoundrel. ;D
Authors Notes: There are a few 'facts' that I'm not entirely sure are correct. If you spot something you think is wrong, please point it out and I'll do my best to change it. Other than that, I've tried my best to stay true to, if not canon, then at least the character's personalities.
This is mostly done in Han's point of view, because Han's a scoundrel, and so fun to write. However that does mean that I had to be a little sparse with the explanations because he doesn't know the whole story. And as you can tell, this is Han as he was pre-Star Wars. Its all about the job.
So, read and enjoy.
Disclaimer: Star Wars belongs to George Lucas and company, not to me. I make no profit, etc.
Han Solo may have been a smuggler, but he didn't much like the clientele at Mos Eisley spaceport. They were too unpredictable. Too liable to pick fights with people they shouldn't. But, Mos Eisley was where Jabba was, so Mos Eisley spaceport was where Han spent most of his time.
Of course, now that he was in Jabba's bad books, it didn't look much like anyone wanted anything to do with him. Which was annoying, because he desperately needed the money, but he couldn't exactly blame them. People in Jabba's bad books tended to come down with bad cases of dead.
These kids, on the other hand, weren't from Mos Eisley. Probably not from Tatooine at all. Thus, they probably wouldn't know that he was in trouble, and he wasn't going to be the one to tell them. Though whether they could pay the money he needed – well that was another story.
"Ten thousand. In advance." He wasn't blind to the sudden stiffness in their postures; he just didn't care, overmuch. If they were as desperate as Chewie thought they were, then they'd pay. If not, they'd find someone else.
"We could buy our own ship for that!" The kid protested. Han wasn't much for ages, but they seemed about the same age. The boy just looked younger; maybe less capable. He filed that thought away for later.
"On this scrap heap?" Han snorted in derision. "You'd have to build one first. And you still wouldn't get one as good as the Falcon." So he was a little proud of his ship. It wasn't a crime.
They acknowledged his point with a nod, and the kid sat back looking wounded. Han sighed; he would help, if he could, but there was no such thing as a free ride. Besides, he needed the money as badly as they needed to be gone.
"Two thousand in advance, the other eight when we arrive," the girl said. Han was almost (only almost) willing to bet his ship that she was some sort of noble lady. She just had that look.
"Sorry, sister. If you can't pay in advance, then the price goes up." He spread his hands in a helpless gesture. "That's just the way it is."
She looked ready to smack him, but there was a commotion at the cantina entrance, and a few Stormtroopers barged their way in.
"Two in advance, fifteen when we arrive," the girl spat out hurriedly. Han looked at the Stormtroopers. They'd said, avoid Imperial entanglements, but he wasn't aware that they were actually being pursued. He was tempted to jack the price up further, but… it was already plenty high.
"Seventeen? Okay…" he looked back at them and trailed off. They were all ready gone. He shrugged. Now he could tell Jabba he had the money, at least.
The two kids arrived, with a couple of droids in tow, the moment there was the slightest lull in Stormtrooper presence. He was willing to believe that there was a big distraction somewhere else drawing them away, and from the rumpled looks of the kids, they were the cause of it.
"Quick!" Han yelled, slamming the panel back on the Falcon and collecting his tools as they barreled up the ramp. Blaster fire might not penetrate the shields, but they weren't up until she was turned on. Last thing he needed was holes in the hull.
"Get her going, Chewie!" There was a roar of agreement from the cockpit, and Han had to jump to get on the retracting ramp. They were being shot at all ready and they weren't even off the ground. Great.
"Well now, you just make friends where ever you go, don't you?" he said as he shoved passed the passengers and took the pilots seat. Chewie had her running and ready.
"We didn't expect them to be here so soon," the girl confessed, looking over her shoulder as though she could see through the hull and to the troopers firing on them. The boy put his arm around her shoulders and she smiled at him. It was sickening.
"Yeah? You didn't mention you were actually being chased," Han accused as he flew the Falcon out of atmo. If they could get into hyperspace, they'd be safe. Then he saw what was waiting for them and swore. "Star Destroyers? What kind of fugitives are you?"
The girl stiffened. "We are not fugitives," she said furiously. "I am Princess Leia of the Royal House of Alderaan."
"Yeah? So who's he? Your pet gizka?" Han asked sarcastically as he tried to stay out of range. These ships really weren't playing around. It was taking all of his skill to avoid their stanged lasers. Luckily for him, they didn't seem to be aiming for the kill. Which wasn't really all the comforting, if he thought about it.
"I'm Luke," the kid said. Well, well, he was standing up for himself, wasn't that odd. "I'm her brother."
"Brother?" Han asked skeptically. He was good judging relationships and there wasn't much about the two of them that screamed 'siblings'.
"Yes," Princess said in a very firm tone of voice, as if she knew exactly what he was thinking and didn't much like it. "We're twins."
"Uh huh," he said, distracted as the computer finally spat out their hyperspace co-ordinates. "Prepare for jump to hyperspace."
The kids weren't strapped down, but he wasn't waiting for them. If they stuck around here much longer, they'd be fried. There was a lurch, then they were flying clear, the white lines of hyperspace brushing passed the windows.
Han heaved a sigh of relief and sat back. Then looked at his passengers; some things needed to be sorted out, now. "With me."
"So, princess," Han asked mockingly. She stiffened at the tone of his voice. "Why, exactly, are we being chased from a dust ball of a planet by one of the largest companies of Imperials I've ever seen in the Outer Rim?"
The two looked at each other. He was willing to bet that there was a whole heap of silent communication going on there, but he couldn't tell what.
"As I said before," the Princess said at last. "I am Princess Leia of the Royal House of Alderaan, and this is my brother, Luke."
"What, he doesn't get a nifty title, too?" Han interrupted, just to be annoying.
The kid flushed. "Well, um, technically, I'm, um, the Crown Prince, but everyone knows that it'll be Leia who'll succeed our parents, so I don't really bother."
Han had trouble thinking of the kid as a Prince. The Princess was obviously a princess, but the kid could have been a moisture farmer for all you could tell. He just had that clueless look that you seldom saw on royalty.
"As I was saying," the princess continued with a glare. Han smothered a grin; she was just too easy to rile up. "We were traveling to Tatooine and were shot down by those Star Destroyers."
"What kind of ship were you in?" He interrupted again, this time not just to rile her up. Imperials were known to shoot ships down just for the hang of it, but Princesses tended to travel in big ships that loudly declared who they were.
"We were in a diplomatic ship," the kid said. "They knew exactly who we were."
And that was right on the other side of disturbing. Taking these kids might not have been the wisest choice, after all. Money didn't help you if you were dead.
"They believed us to be Rebels transporting stolen plans. In reality, we were searching for a man named Obi-Wan Kenobi."
Han knew that name. For all the Empire hated the Jedi and the Republic that had come before it, it was difficult to squash the stories.
"The General guy?" he asked vaguely.
"Yes," the Princess continued. "General Obi-Wan Kenobi."
"Why?" It was a good question, he thought. All the Jedi were supposed to be dead, so why were two members of royalty searching a dust ball in the Outer Rim for one.
They shifted uneasily and looked at each other. Han tried another tack. "Are you rebels transporting stolen plans?"
"What would your response to any answer be?" Princess asked. That was good enough to be a yes.
He spread his hands. "As long as I get paid, I don't care who by. And speaking of paid…" he hinted.
They got the message. The kid chucked him a small sack. It was heavy enough to contain two thousand credits, but he'd count later, just to make sure.
"So now they're chasing us all the way across space because you have some stolen plans?" Han asked, just to be clear.
"Yes. These plans are of utmost importance to the Rebel Alliance." Princess hesitated. The two looked at each other. "If anything should happen to us," she began. "I ask you to please take these droids to Alderaan."
Han looked at her skeptically. Then at the droids. One was a fussy protocol droid, the other a simple R2 unit. What a place to hide stolen Imperial plans.
"You'll still be paid," the kid said. It was creepy how the both seemed to know what he was thinking. And what answer he wanted. "As long as either we, or those droids, reach Alderaan."
"Right," Han said and stood. That was about all he wanted to know. He had a sneaking suspicion that there was more to the story than he was being told, but right now, he didn't want to know. You got involved with politics, and you got dead. And if there was one thing he didn't want to be, it was dead. Of course, imprisoned and in pain came a close second.
At the doorway he paused and looked back. "Twins, huh?" Mostly when he'd fantasized about twins, they'd been identical. Or at least both female. But what the hang, when you were a smuggler, you took what you could get.
The Princess sprang to her feet and strode forward, face red, ready to smack him. Han ducked out of the doorway and felt the door hiss closed behind him.
He chuckled. She really was too easy to rile up.
"Stang! Where did that come from?!" Han yelled as – while they hovered near asteroid field computing the co-ordinates for the final jump to Alderaan – a large Imperial cruiser appeared beside them. It was so close to them that, even as he leaned on the controls, it was already pulling them in with its tractor beam. "No one can jump out of hyperspace that close to an asteroid field!"
"Chewie!" A mournful howl told him that there was absolutely nothing they could do. He swung around to the passengers, who were white faced in the doorway.
"Any bright ideas?" He asked tersely. He was pretty sure they were all screwed.
The kid closed his eyes and breathed deeply. "It's Vader."
"Don't be getting jumpy, kid. You're not that important." At least, he hoped they weren't. Vader was seldom merciful. Seldom meaning never.
"It's Vader," the kid repeated. The twins exchanged another of those baffling looks. "Look," the kid said, turning back to Han. "It's us he wants. I doubt he even knows you're on board."
Han took the hint. "They'd catch any escape pods we sent out now, but there are some smuggling compartments…" he hesitated. Vader would kill the kids, and they didn't deserve to die like that. They weren't bad kids, for all that they were royalty.
Luke smiled. "Shut the droids down and hide. Take them to Alderaan." There was no fear in his face. Just resignation. The Princess was the same.
Han nodded and left the cockpit. "Oh, and Han?" the kid called after him. Han turned back to look at them. They both smiled at him and spoke together.
"May the Force be with you. Always."
Luke took a deep breath and looked at his sister. He knew she could sense Vader's presence, now, too. "Not long now."
She grasped his hand tightly, and the feelings flowing through their twin bond told him more than words could. "Don't do anything foolish, Luke," she pleaded. "I'd die if he killed you."
Luke more than suspected that she wasn't exaggerating. Their twin bond was strong and they often felt when the other was hurt. When Obi-Wan had last made one of his infrequent visits to Alderaan, he had been uneasy about how deep their bond went.
That was when they had learnt the truth about Vader. And it seemed, now Vader had learnt the truth about them.
"He's here," Luke said, instead of answering her. He couldn't promise her that. He freed his hand and unclipped the lightsaber from his belt, but didn't turn it on. He had not been able to practice with it often, for fear of being discovered, but in theory it was much similar to the vibrosword dueling that he had know on Alderaan.
Leia nodded, swallowing the tightness in her throat, and hit the release button for the door. The others needed the ship whole, and the Stormtroopers would simply blow the door apart if it was not opened.
They filed in, guns up, but did not fire. Then, slowly and ominously, Vader entered. The twins shivered at the sheer darkness that surrounded him, but did not otherwise move.
His hissing respirator was the only sound for some minutes. Luke was the one to break the silence.
"We will not join you, Vader," he said strongly. Obi-Wan had warned them that Vader meant to turn them to the dark side, as he himself had been turned.
"You know the truth," Vader stated. Leia nodded and moved to stand beside her brother.
"We know the truth," she said. "But it changes nothing. You oppose everything that we believe in. The Empire opposes everything we believe in."
"Unless you come back to the light side," Luke pleaded. "Leave the Emperor; leave the Empire."
Vader chuckled. "You think to turn me from the dark side? You do not know its power!"
Luke looked at him sadly. "I had to try." He flicked on the lightsaber, its blue blade lashing out, and leapt forward. Vader took half a step back – out of Luke's reach – and reached for his own lightsaber.
He never got the chance to use it, however, because the Stormtroopers – previously ignored – had responded to the situation exactly as they had been trained. They had not been ordered otherwise.
Luke's eyes widened in shock and he cried out as a dozen blaster bolts slammed into his chest. He had managed to deflect several, but he was midway through a leap, and simply couldn't change his position quickly enough.
His lightsaber tumbled from his grip and he slid to an ungraceful stop at Vader's feet. Vader looked up from his dead body and to the girl – surely she could not have been hit, too? – but she was also dead, slumped to the floor where she had been standing.
"Fools!" He hissed angrily, seeing his children slip through his grasp, just as Padme had done. Just as he thought they had with her. He turned slowly unleashing his ire onto the hapless Stormtroopers. And Vader, when angry, was unstoppable.
And so, it was Vader alone that exited the ship. "Dump it," he ordered the operating crew, sweeping out of the docking bay. Someone would pay for this.
Han, in the darkness of the smuggling compartments, didn't know what had happened. But the jolt of a ship leaving the pressured atmosphere of another ship and entering empty space was unmistakable.
Shoving the lid aside, he heaved himself out and rushed toward the cockpit so that he could take charge before the uncontrolled ship hit something and was damaged.
He was stopped, momentarily, as he passed the door, however. "Oh, kids," he sighed. There was nothing peaceful about the way Luke lay twisted on the floor, the burns on his chest a testament to the way he died. Han couldn't bring himself to look at the Princess. Sometimes it was better not to know.
"Least you took some of them with you," he muttered. It didn't really make him feel all that much better, no matter the number of troopers that lay dead beside them.
"Chewie!" He called back the way he came. "Dump the troopers and put the kids in stasis, would ya?" Stasis was mainly used when there was an injury too bad to be treated on ship – it held a person in hibernation, much like being frozen in carbonite. For now though, he'd use it to keep the kids as they were. It would do to have them stinking to high heaven when they arrived at Alderaan.
Chewie roared a confused reply. Han took that for agreement and continued onto the cockpit.
Han was on Alderaan nearly a full day before the King and Queen saw him. It wasn't that he particularly wanted to intrude on their grief, but he did particularly want to be paid. And gone. There was something creepy about being in a city where everyone was mourning.
Inside the greeting chamber though, luxouious as it was, what drew his eye wasn't the King and Queen. It was the two hoverbeds that were in the center of the room.
The kids had been cleaned up and dressed in fresh white clothes more appropriate to their status. Han was glad to see that, because he could no longer see the charred mass that had been Luke's front. He never wanted to see that again.
They looked royal now, and young. The white capes draped off the sides of the bed and gave the impression that they were flying. Someone had placed them hand in hand, and they looked sort of peaceful.
But mostly they just looked dead.
"Your majesty," Han said, turning away from the bodies and bowing. The two droids clattered behind him with greetings of their own.
"Welcome, Capitan Solo," the King said. He wasn't looking at his visitor, but rather at his children. "I regret that you could not visit us on a happier occasion."
Han's eyes involuntarily traveled back to the kids. "Yeah, I regret that too." He paused, then kept going. "The Princess said that the R2 unit has the … information she was searching for," he hoped that the King understood what he was talking about. From the nod, it seemed that he did. "She requested that I bring the droids to you, regardless of whether they … were able to make the full trip."
"Thank you, Captain Solo," the King said, tiredly. There was a spark in his eyes, now though. There was a way he could have his vengeance. "I will have someone bring the rest of your payment to you."
Han bowed again, and contemplated turning the money down. But he said nothing.
"Will you be staying for the funeral?" The Queen asked. Her eyes watered with unshed tears.
Han hesitated. "No," he said finally. "I have to be going."
She nodded sadly. "Of course. Goodbye, then."
"Your majesties." Han bowed to them once more, then, feeling foolish, bowed to the kids as well. "See you later, your worship," he murmured, eyes resting on Leia's face before flicking to Luke. "You too, kid."
As he turned and walked away, he could have sworn he heard Luke sigh.
Sooner, rather than later, Han.