Dedicated to LASOS for infecting me with the HSLO bug. Damn you, child! NB: 'Scientia' is Latin for 'knowledge'. Hey, I actually paid attention in class for once!

By Mathematica

He'd always secretly wanted his death to be noble and heroic and his last words to be memorable and tragic and meaningful. And he wonders if that is the one upshot of joining this suicidal cause touted as a Rebellion: going out in a blaze of glory, worthy of the proverbial history books.

But the books are all censored now, the heroes all gone. And the way he sees it is, hero or not, in the end you're still dead.

For the first time, he realises that he is scared because this is the end. But it can't, can't be the end because it hasn't even begun yet and there's so much he never did and so much he never said (especially to her). And then she speaks and his throat tightens as her words hit him like bullets and he can almost lose himself in the memory of her smile, of her lips on his, of the soft curves of her body. And he wishes that he were actually brave enough to tell her.

(Regret. Another emotion he would never have associated with himself before her.)

Then he remembers that as this is goodbye, he is expected to say something back. And these will be his proverbial 'last words' so he racks his brains for something striking and passionate and final to say (because this is final and he is going to die and gods, he is so scared) but he has too much to say and too little time to say it in and he was never good with words. He'd much rather have introduced Calrissian to one of his speciality right hooks, or given Vader the ol' one-fingered salute.

But time is runningrunningrunning out and he can see the hellish steam hungrily lapping at his ankles and she is still waiting for him to speak --
And then his mouth moves of its own accord and his lips part for the final time --
And he says, finally, irrevocably --

"I know."

(You bloody idiot, Solo, you stupidstupidstupid --)

But then in a hiss-hah of steam it begins and he tells himself that he won't be afraid but he's still locked in a battle with his own cowardice and regret (because he won't die, not here, not like this) even as they're lowering him into this frozen hell and he's alone and scared and he doesn'tdoesn'tdoesn't want to die (and he tells himself he's too young but at thirty-one he's older than most of those naïve kids had been when they had --)

And it's ripping suffocating crushing icy coldcoldcold