I'm pretty dissatisfied with the direction Del Rey decided to take this series and I have been for a while because the place the characters and the Star Wars Universe are at right now (in the books) just makes me sad. The early EU was full of hope that just . . . isn't there anymore. This was written two years ago, but with current events in the Legacy books, it's probably even more timely. No spoilers, but if you've read the NJO and Legacy books, feel free to read between the lines.

Disclaimer: Star Wars is © George Lucas, Lucasfilm, Bantam, Del Rey, Marvel, etc. etc..

Camera Obscura

Once, oh, he doesn't even remember where exactly - or maybe he never knew – at any rate it was pretty early on, right after the first Death Star, Luke picked up some old piece of junk from somewhere and started fixing it up. He was always doing that, the kid was, tinkering with old junk. Han had rather vocally never seen the point in it until Leia had pointed out that he did exactly the same thing day in and day out which had shut him up for a bit. It had still rankled, back in those early days, when Leia made cracks like that about the Falcon until he had learned to hear the affection beneath the biting sarcasm.

Well anyway, the kid had picked up this ancient alien contraption, some kind of a 2-D recording device, he'd said, and after weeks tinkering with it in his off-time – Han swore in those days Luke's main interests were his X-wing, the Rebellion, and fixing up old machinery, probably in that order – he'd gotten it working.

Luke had gathered them together, even the droids, and Threepio had tried to use the box-like device to take a flat holo until Chewie, annoyed at his incompetence, had shoved him out of the way and taken it himself.

It's a shot of the three of them: Leia in the middle laughing, Luke gesturing at Chewie to push that button, no, that one!, and him looking over Leia's head at Luke and grinning.

The picture was printed out on a piece of flat organic plant fiber and they had all marveled over it. In fact, for a short while like any novelty it had become quite the rage in the base. There were other flat holos, a better one of the four of them posing primly and properly and suppressing grins that Threepio had finally taken (well, the top of Chewie's head had gotten cut off, but that tended to happen), ones with them standing next to pilots and mechanics and fellow Rebels, all of them dead now, Han could name the dates and places each one had met his or her end, and even now he ached a little, thinking of them. They had been good men and women, each and every one, and it wasn't just that the Alliance had lost a good pilot or a good gunner or a good soldier, no, it was that they had all lost a good drinking buddy, a good kisser, a good friend.

Luke had lost the machine somewhere in their travels. Maybe it had been in his quarters in Hoth, who knew? There had been far too many quick escapes and things left behind for him to recall each and every one.

But Han had a box of those antiquated holos that he kept in one of the hidden storage compartments in the Falcon. For many years he had forgotten all about it, but one day, while looking for a spare spanner, he had found it – a lost bit of his past. Now, when he was feeling particularly nostalgic or morbid he'd take them out, one by one, and stare at all the faces. And only in that first picture did he know how each of those faces looked today.

Leia caught him at it once as he sat motionless in the pilot's chair, staring, and gently pried the photo from his hand. "Oh," she said softly, "were we ever that young?"

But her voice said something else, a hundred thousand something elses and Han knew and understood. He wanted to tell her, not the her standing beside him, but the laughing Leia of their past, of all the things that would come to pass, all the heartache, all the pain; he wanted to warn her somehow. And yet, looking at her then and looking at her now, he knew, even given the opportunity, he couldn't go back, couldn't burden her with the knowledge of the things that were to come. Things hadn't been easy back then either, but they had been simpler. Looking back, those had been happier days. The memory of that was something that even time could not take away.

Grasping her hand in his, he said just as softly, looking into her eyes, "Yeah, I think so."