Summary: A continuation of the story that began with Unexpected Detours, following Han & Leia as they deal with the events of that story and through the events of ESB. Han/Leia of course, angst, romance and all of that great stuff:)
If you haven't read Unexpected Detours, I recommend that you do - because I'll take all the readers I can get :) and because it will help you understand what is happening in this story. Oh, and of course, the universe belongs to George, so please don't sue me for borrowing some of his things. I promise I'll give 'em back when I'm done.
The door closes with a finality and Chewie's howl echoes through the base. Threepio has finally ceased his babbling and the silence that reigns as Chewie's howl fades is suffocating. She can feel the stares of the people around her. She can feel them watching her, trying to determine how she will react. Most of them don't know about the loss that she had suffered on Ord Mantell, but they all know that she has been affected by the events of that trip. That the effects of that trip are still affecting her, even after her physical wounds have healed.
"How will she react if they don't come back?"
She can almost hear the question in their minds and she despises it. They will never know the answer to that question, because Han and Luke will return. They will be safe. They will survive. She wasn't sure if she would if they didn't.
Chewie abandoned his post at the Falcon's landing gear and embraced her. She felt the sorrow and failure in his embrace and she tightened her arms around him. Han was his only family and she knew that he felt as lost as she did - maybe more so. After a few moments, he released her and rumbled something that sounded like a question. Her distraught mind had failed to grasp any meaning from his rumblings, but she followed him up the ramp to the Falcon nonetheless.
Chewie set two mugs on the counter in the galley and filled them each with steaming kaffe. Handing her one, he settled at the hologram table. She sat across from him, warming her hands on the mug before her. The silence stretched between them until finally she broke it.
"They have to be okay. They can't..." her voice cracked with emotion. "He can't..."
Chewie growled angrily, interrupting her. She looked at him blankly, frustrated with her inability to understand him still. He repeated his statement, more slowly and she focussed on the sounds.
Don't sound it. Don't sound it. A few more of his words escaped her, but she caught make true at the end. She nodded, offering her agreement with her understanding. He was of the belief that if you spoke of things that might happen, you added strength to their possibility. She wouldn't give voice to her fears.
She sipped from her mug and they continued to sit through their vigil in silence. As she sat, her thoughts drifted to her earlier conversation with Han. How had she let him get her so riled? Why had she? She had been so determined to tell him her feelings. It had been why she had been searching for him earlier. She had been taken aback when she had heard him tell the general that he was leaving and even more so at the harshness of his attitude toward her. She knew that he would never forgive her for what she had done to him - she couldn't even begin to forgive herself. She just couldn't believe that after all that had come between them that it would end like this.
Just this morning she had decided to not include regret in her memories of Han. That she would not let another person leave her life without telling them how she felt. And now she had done just that. Han may be gone from her life forever and she never told him how much he meant to her. And he had practically asked her to do just that.
"Come on. You want me to stay because of the way you feel about me."
He had given her the perfect opportunity to tell him the truth. To tell him that she cared about him and that she didn't want him to leave because she was afraid that she would never see him again. That she was afraid for him. She was supposed to tell him that she was sorry that she had lost their baby and that it would never be enough, but at least he would know that she shared his pain in her heart. He had given her the perfect opportunity and she had pushed it away with both hands.
"Yes. You're a great help to us; you're a natural leader."
He had stopped in the hallway then and had pointed his finger in her face. Instead of a wonderful declaration of her feelings for him, their conversation had quickly degenerated into another argument.
"That"s not it," he had continued. "Come on. Auhh? Come on."
Again, the perfect opportunity and again, she had thrown it away.
"You're imagining things."
"Am I? Then why are you following me? Afraid I was going to leave without giving you a good-bye kiss?"
"I'd just as soon kiss a Wookie."
Her last words to him. She might have screamed her frustration in that moment if she could have. Her frustration with herself for falling so quickly into the game. For instantly succumbing to her usual defences instead of allowing someone through, worrying instead that she might get hurt. She was already hurting.
"I can arrange that. You could use a good kiss."
His echoing shout replayed in her mind. At least his last words to her had been true. She could use a good kiss. Not from Chewie, but from him and she was afraid that she would never feel his lips on hers again.
How could she have let it get this way between them? How could their relationship have grown so much, only to have regressed to the days when they had first met? He was a good man and she loved him and he was going to die in the cold, alone, and never know.
Chewie growled, interrupting her thoughts. Grasping a few isolated words and, with the help of some hand gestures, she understood that he wanted her to go to bed. She glanced at the door to Han's cabin, afraid to enter and longing to at the same time. Her eyes felt heavy and she knew that she should take the Wookie up on his offer. She still wasn't fully recovered from her injuries and she tired easily. She should take this opportunity for sleep; she wanted to be ready to join the search parties when they left in the morning.
Entering the haven of Han's quarters, she changed from her snow gear, donning one of his shirts and the pants he typically wore in the mornings. Crawling beneath the covers, she wrapped herself in his scent and his warmth and finally let the tears that had been threatening all evening fall.
Too soon, she woke to the smell of fresh kaffe brewing and she stretched to chase the sleep from her limbs. She smiled as she inhaled his scent until her mind fully came awake. Han wasn't here. He wasn't in the other room filling a mug for each of them. He was in the harsh cold that was beyond cold of the Hoth night. He was alone and lost or with Luke and lost and she had to find him. She would not let the last words between them be filled with hate.
Thanks for reading. Please let me know what you think. Scarlet.