Author's Note: This was inspired and requested by Mathematica and betaread by ArgenteusDraco.
Just in case you've never looked them up on Wookieepedia like I had to, note that the titles of each section of this fic are names of sabacc cards.
Roulette wheels spin. Hands with dirt under the scales on their sides drop chance cubes and watch them bounce. Sabacc cards shush against one another. The players covet their hands of cards, tallying up the numbers. But at any moment the values could shift, snatching victory from some, delivering it into the hands of others, becoming all possible numbers and suits for one immeasurable moment….
It started with wishes, as so many stories do. Surely every child wishes at some time in their life to be a Jedi, and tries to move something from across the room to their hand with only their mind. But young Han Solo, crewmate on the Trader's Luck, did not have the luxury of far-fetched dreams, of stillnesses in which to squint and test imaginary powers. His dreams were ferrocrete, not clouds: he longed for a successful business, for safety from older, nastier space pirates such as Captain Shrike, and often enough he got those things through his own abilities at dodging—or ending--trouble. He had an abiding faith in persistence.
The Empire occasionally sent out warnings, lists of danger signs. Beware of men who speak cryptically, of children who float in their sleep, of even one-credit roadside fortune tellers, of laser swords. Ostensibly, these mandates were to protect the galaxy's citizens from Force-users, those dangerous individuals who had been granted more power than good human judgment (not to mention the unstable and primitive minds of aliens) could handle. Han paid little attention to them, involved as he was in his own matters of business. The Corellian tradition of Jedi were as far from his thoughts as the Coruscanti one was.
Many years later, after the dream of escaping the Luck had been realized and all more far-fetched ones had been forgotten, Han slouched in the dimness of the Mos Eisley Cantina and looked at Ben Kenobi. Part of him did not trust the man; he was a raggedy exile, maybe even a slave trader. One did not simply give people like that a ride, no matter what they were paying, and expect to have a peaceful journey.
But another part of him had a gut feeling that he was meant to do this. That he ought find out everything he could about the old man and the boy, because—he didn't know, maybe they had known him once or something. That's what it felt like—déjà vu.
He compromised by acting noncommittal and allowing them a ride.
4. The Star
When Han saw Luke Skywalker practice with the lightsaber in the Millennium Falcon's hold, he was skeptical of whether the Force was simply an invention of old Kenobi's mind or not. While it certainly sounded difficult to deflect something traveling at the speed of light with something else made of a sort of light, it was no more improbable than a human dodging blasterbolts, which he had done, inadvertently or purposefully, enough times.
"I've never seen anything to make me believe that there's one all-powerful force that controls my destiny..."
Not control, no, but sense—Han could identify Kenobi's location as surely as if a tracking screen were in front of Han's eyes….as surely as he had, so many times, picked enemy spacecraft out of the sky with the forward lasers before the tracking screen had warmed up.
"…In my experience, there's no such thing as luck."
If there wasn't, what had Han lived on for so many years?
Kenobi never got to tell him directly, but when the old man died, Han distinctly heard his voice say, "Carry on."
7. The Wheel
The stars spin around him as the Falcon plummets toward the Death Star. It is a battle between surprisingly few starships; the Empire knows it doesn't have to release the fleet to take out the handful of Rebel squadrons. But somehow, without lights cluttering his tac screen, this fight is even more confusing than usual, even harder to keep straight in his head. Because he isn't sure whether he's doing the right thing, whether following Luke into this suicide mission is worth it or not (it was worth getting Chewie to stop looking mournful), whether his life is going to change for the better or not (or whether that matters any more if the Rebels aren't all right).
And it is not only inside his mind that chaos is building. He can feel the tension of battle, and he's felt it before, but then he was in the Imperial academy and other TIE pilots were shouting through the comm even if they weren't supposed to, jokes and orders and death-screams. This is silent except for in his head, like he's crazy, but he knows he isn't. Because they say that crazy people think they're sane, and he knows he's not. He's mad with the Force, mad with uncertainty, but also driven by I have to rescue them (replace 'them' with Luke, Leia, the Rebels, or 'my future' ).
So he whoops like a crazy man and, pointed by the Force to the tiny trench on the side of the Death-Star-become-horizon, comes to the rescue.
First, he had to decide whether he was going to tell anyone.
The days went by and he tried, tried to confront Chewbacca, or Luke's innocent eyes or Leia's sharp ones (sharp as daggers, he can't look at her too long or his mind will feel like it's falling away from the world, but if he endures, then everything is all right, because what replaces his mind is happinesshurtwonderment). But he did not know how to begin.
Finally he decided: following, he supposed, his master's lead, he didn't tell anyone anything about the power he suspected he had.
He would not speak of it, would not pursue the power, because, also, then the line between himself and Luke would blur. They were two separate pillars of the Alliance, the noble and naïve, and the gritty and skeptical. Everyone expected the two to be foils to one another. They only needed one Jedi.
"Deck officer! Deck officer. Has Commander Skywalker reported in yet?"
"Sorry sir, I don't think he's come back from patrol."
Luke's presence—the terminology had snuck in to Han's thoughts, although he'd tried to drown it in memorizing tactics and spacelanes, in thought of Leia, in the occasional alcoholic drink because the Force was too complicated—glowed dimly in the back of his mind.
He could follow it like a beacon, and so he did, out into the cold, out into Luke is unconscious—I've got an excuse for why I don't just tell him now.
10. Queen Of Air And Darkness
The Force was not a willing tool of Han's will; in fact it seemed to have a capricious and cruel will of its own in terms of when it allowed Han certain powers or when it worked for him at all. When Leia kissed Luke, Han could not with certainty tell whether or not she was doing it just to make him jealous (even if she didn't know that was why she was doing it), but he was pretty sure.
But Han could not hate Luke. (Consider him naïve and young, yes, but never hate.) They were too together in the dangerous gaze of the eye of the Empire, too bound by shared death-defying experience. Luke seemed oblivious to Han's growing acceptance of whatever modicum of the Force was within him, but Vader, Han knew, especially as he became more and more integrated into the Rebellion, would not be, and even Leia's weight against his as they struggled in the passageway to escape from Hoth could not dissuade the feeling of being watched, even if it was by only one black-lensed eye.
11. The Evil One
No power helped him when, in Cloud City, Darth Vader finally stopped to take notice of Han. His chest was raked with claws of electricity as he screamed and waited for them to ask about the one they kept referring to dispassionately, harshly, as Skywalker.
But Vader's eyes had not been closed on Hoth; he had another target as well.
No questions were asked. Pain simply opened the door to Han's mind, and Vader swept in.
Minds are not as simple as datapads, but Han could tell that he was being read like files, like simple charts and graphs, and could stop being read no more than those objects could.
Vader found Han's power and read it like entrails.
The pain faded away slowly. Vader's booming laugh rose out of the haze the pain produced, like a monster out of the sea, before allowing Han's other senses to recover.
"The Force persists," Vader said, triumphantly as if he had known all along and was only now savoring the revelation, the laugh biting at the edges of his words as if all along it was behind them.
"Mopek," Han growled. He raged at the Force, although his body was immobile. If it had dropped him into this nest of pain and abandonment, then by the Nine Gates of Corellian Hell, he'd abandon it—"I don't know anything about it."
"No," Vader rumbled, "you do not. It is latent in you." He turned away. Luke could have taught me, Han thought. I could undo my bonds right now—but he would not wish that that had happened. It was anathema to his nature, to his old, injurious, oh-so-safe desire to trust only himself.
Vader turned again and Han felt one more layer of pain spear into his arm; dimly he saw a syringe withdraw, filled with his blood.
"You are lucky, Solo," Vader breathed, "that the bounty hunter wants you alive, and that you are too weak in the Force to matter to my Master."
The torture continued, and deep in a quiet, locked space of Han's mind he saw that this was all so that Luke would do what Han had done on Hoth; track him through the Force and rescue him from being caught in a snow storm against which he could only create a temporary shelter.
When stormtroopers took Han back to the detainment cell, he could only collapse into Leia's arms. The desire for secrecy wrestled with the overflow of his thoughts. He compromised and did not lie. "They didn't even ask me any questions."
12. The Universe
That's enough of this Force mopek. I don't want it. It doesn't fit me, it's a burden, it complicates an already vaping complicated life. Men and women have been killed in this war, and it hasn't helped me save one of them. Han fought with his thoughts and threw them away, as he crouched under cover of tall, leafy plants on Endor, his squad arrayed around him oblivious to his frustrations.
But it seemed that being concerned for others (a thought that immediately brought him to the thought of her, because Luke didn't need a rival, and Leia didn't need another man in her life who was likely to be killed in the service of an invisible master) was the trigger. The thoughts and power that Han rejected picked up a stormtrooper crouching behind a nearby plant, trying to pick off the Rebel squad, and slammed him into the trunk of a rotten tree that shattered, like Han's expectations, into one thousand tiny pieces.
13. The Idiot
Leia said, laughing behind her words (like Vader's had--), "He's my brother."
Han wanted the astounded, perfect kiss to last forever, to remain uncomplicated, but digging into his heart (preventing her from nesting alone in his thoughts, as if the Force were a mistress) was his secret, so quietly he said, unable to meet her eyes, "Leia. I think I'm Force-sensitive."
She touched his chin to turn his face toward her, but would not meet his eyes either; she looked weary and sad, as if she had aged the light-years Luke had between Bespin and Tatooine. "I have it too," she said. "The Force is strong in my family."
And so Han decided at that moment to learn, to explore this power, so that he might know Leia better.
14. The Satellite
The moon of Endor, which had no name except the one which the Ewoks gave it that simply meant 'forest/universe', rang with the sounds of celebration. Dancing shapes whirled past the firelight. But Luke was staring into the trees, cold to the communal warmth, and Han and Leia moved toward him to try to draw him back toward the heat.
But as they approached, they saw what he was looking at. Three figures glowing like clouds at sunset, the drop beyond the tree visible through their sky-blue-tinted bodies. A young man, with curly hair, a scarred face, and a lopsided smile. An alien, less than a meter tall. And Kenobi, smiling with the light of unfettered knowledge behind his eyes. Han did not recognize the young man by face.
But his Force presence was unmistakably familiar, even distilled and brightened as it was. That man was Vader, in his happier days.
The cards are fixed now, their values set. One player wins, and others lose. Their lives go on.
Sabacc rarely changes live, or saves or takes them. But the Force is no mere game of chance…
15. The Destroyed Starship
Even as Luke discovered more and more records of the old Jedi Order, he never found another Solo who could have been Han's ancestor and link to the Force. So there was no knowing what his powers would manifest as most often, although he was moderately good at all the usual things once he got used to them. (He never could enjoy lightsaber combat; although he kept the black-wrapped hilt of the blue blade attached to his belt, he always used blasters when he could.) He spent time with his children in Luke's academy, learning as they did, until the Yuuzhan Vong war made his skills as a pilot more essential than those as a Jedi.
So there was no precedent for the vision that wracked him soon after the war was over, when everyone felt a glimmer of hope again.
No precedent for the terrifying certainty of what Jacen was going to become.
The galaxy wept in the back of his head, threw minor chords with the vehemence of a crazed conductor and an enslaved orchestra, pressed against him, insisted (he was finally going to save it), and in its throes he walked through the apartment like a sleepwalker (except he was awake, so clear and awake that time did not exist anymore and he could see everything, could see Mara Jade slaughtered, could see Jacen tempted and fallingfallingfalling) and walked into Jacen's room and primed his blaster and saw his son sleeping (adult and scarred but so deceptively innocent-looking now) and could almost taste the new name on the tip of his tongue—!