Sailing Little Boats
Marginally awake, Han Solo felt around for his wife. His sleepy brain fired a warning when he did not find her, as she was hard to miss lately, given the amazing size she had reached in the past few weeks.
The cold in the sheets by him finally woke him up completely.
Worried, he called softly. "Leia?"
A glance to the bedside chrono told him that it was still too early to start the day and since she had resigned as Chief of State it was unlikely that some crisis had dragged her out of the bed.
Jumping quickly to his feet, he inspected the adjoined fresher, finding it as cold and empty as the bed. Maybe some midnight craving for a sweet?
As he padded his way to the kitchen, he found the answer to his questions. The Princess was sitting cross-legged on one of the living room couches.
"Are you alright?" He asked, plopping down by her.
"Yeah..." She answered absentmindedly. Her hand rubbed slightly over the tight skin of her huge belly.
"What are you doing up so early? Did the kids wake you up?"
The former smuggler raised a brow.
"I've been having contractions," Leia clarified.
Han Solo paled. "How long?"
"A couple of hours." She gave him a small smile.
"HOURS? Why didn't you call me?" He jumped towards the bedroom and Leia could heard him swearing while he jumped trying to get into his trousers and pull his boots on at the same time.
"Han!" She called. "HAN!"
"What?" His head peeked from the bedroom door.
"Calm down and come back here. There's no hurry."
"You sure?" He asked meekly, walking unevenly back with only one boot on.
"I'm sure. Besides," she continued, snuggling into his arms, "do you remember this gadget?" She pointed to the place on her belly where a thin strip of flexible metal was attached.
Han Solo sighed dejectedly. "Right. You sure it's working properly?"
"I'm sure," the Princess smiled tenderly, placing a soft kiss on his cheek. "I've been reading the telemetry all the time," she added, showing him her data pad. "It's been giving the 'all signals normal' message since I woke up... See? Here..."
As she pointed to the place in the screen, the message changed.
The father-to-be swallowed dry. "Uh, sweetheart? What does 'making first EmCall' mean?"
Twenty minutes later, a discreet tap was heard at the door. It was the younger Healer, Toa. To Han's relief, he was alone.
"I guess that means everything's OK, huh kid?" Han asked with a forced joviality that he truly didn't feel and then he added as almost an after thought. "Where's Healer Kampher?"
Toa ducked his head in a short bow. "She is going to the Healer's center to prepare them for Milady's arrival. She said the contractions have stopped?"
"Yeah – so it seems…"
"Han?" Leia called from the bedroom, once again placing him on full alert. "Is that the Healer?"
"Is everything alright?" Han Solo asked anxiously, "Do I need to get you to the Healers center, now?"
"Do not worry, General..." Toa murmured softly, even as Han cut him off.
"If I hear those words one more time..." The former smuggler scowled.
To his surprise, the young healer laughed. "You have every right to worry, but you do not need to. These things happen; sometimes the body just needs some practice. They will come back, maybe in a couple of hours, maybe tomorrow, maybe in a couple of days. In the meantime..."
"...Try not to worry," Solo recited sarcastically.
"I was going to suggest that you both rest as much as you can, because it is the last you will get in a long time," Toa said gently. "But that would help too. Milady needs to be as relaxed as possible. I will tend to her for now, and then return to the Healing center…"
"Like that's going to be easy," Han muttered darkly under his breath, but he allowed the young Healer to tend to his wife.
To Han, it seemed that the short time would last an age, but he found that the time after the Healer had left, was actually somehow worse. It was like being frozen in Carbonite. No time. Dead time. An eternity and an instant all at once. It was only when he heard the familiar chirps of an R2 unit did his spirits rise. Those sounds could only mean one visitor, and Han barely allowed the chime to sound before he had reached the door.
"Luke!" Han cried as opened the door, and he arched an eyebrow as he realized that barring the R2 unit that scooted importantly by, Luke was actually alone…
"Where's Nails, Luke?" Han asked, trying to keep his voice light. I though she'd be here for her friend. After all, she's already been through this before herself! "The little gundark is off with Chewie, probably tearing new holes in the shipping lanes."
"Yes, I know. Aubé is at home, resting. She's not well, Han," Luke replied with unexpected shortness, his features briefly flashed with an unusual hardness, and in that instant, Han was uncomfortably aware that his best friend's father had once ruled the Galaxy with a durasteel fist…
The moment passed, and Luke's expression softened as he continued. "How's Leia? Kam said she had a long time to go when she commed."
"She's resting too," Han replied with a nervous chuckle as they made their way to the couch. "Toa must have given her something to calm her – hell, he could have given something to me too, I wouldn't object! I'm more nervous than I was when I finally got around to asking her to marry me!" As if to emphasize this point, he took a large swallow of the brandy that he had left earlier discreetly on the table. "Nails… Aubé, is she going to be all right?"
"Kay'leb is going to stay with her for a while," Luke said softly. "Kam will send an escort to pick him up after I go back," He paused for a moment.
Unsure how to answer, Han opted for the safe route. "Yeah, speaking of which, maybe you wanna go look in on her. I'll start up some lunch – The kid healer said it would be a long day and he made me promise I'll make Leia eat something light. I'll see you in a minute."
Now it was Luke's turn to be surprised. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah," Han smiled back, some of his old cockiness returning. "I get ya… Sometimes a girl just needs her brother…"
Luke tiptoed into the softly lit bedroom. The blinds were partially drawn, letting some of the morning light trough, but not too much as to prevent someone of falling asleep. There was a subtle scent in the air too, something clean and soothing that immediately brought to Luke's mind Aunt Beru's fresh cleaned laundry. Leia's favorite kind of music came out from hidden speakers.
Even at the end of her pregnancy, his sister looked like nothing but a little girl as she lay curled on her side on the giant bed, her long hair bound into a single loose braid.
"Hi," she smiled, opening her big brown eyes. A bit shyly, she patted the coverlet by her side.
"Hi," he smiled back, leaning on the offered spot on the bed but being careful of leaving his boots out of the embroidered bedspread. "How're you feeling?
"Happy. Anxious." She seemed to want to say something else but did not.
"Afraid?" Luke offered.
The Princess shook her head. "No, not really... But I wish..."
Her twin waited for her to finish the sentence. "What?" He prompted.
"I wish my father could be here today. He'd be so happy..."
Luke brushed away a few stray wisps from his sister's brow. "I understand..."
"I mean, I have Han, and you, and Chewie and Aubé and her family, and they all have been so wonderful to me, but..."
"...It's not the same, I know," he finished for her.
Leia's dark eyes met Luke's clear ones, that quiet kind of communication that was only theirs going through effortlessly.
"One of the first things that went through my mind when I met Pem – I mean, after I got over the shock of course – was how sorry I was that Aunt Beru wasn't here to meet her. She would have loved her so much!" Luke's larynx bobbed and his eyes grew misty.
"Funny, how even after all these years, huh?" He finished with a wry smile.
"I'm glad you're here, Luke..." his twin whispered, caressing softly his cheek. "I mean, I know you really want to be with Aubé…"
"Kay'leb is with her now," Luke said softly.
"Did she need a Healer?" Leia started, causing Luke to chuckle wryly. "What's so funny, Luke?"
"No, it's not that," Luke assured her with a sad smile. "I just think it's funny that even in the throws of your own birth pains, your first concern is other people..."
Liea sighed, exasperated. "C'mon, Luke! I have enough of that with Han and Threepio! Chewie seems to be one of the few people left around here with even a fragment of common sense! This is a piece of cake compared to..."
Luke grimaced, remembering what she had been through in the past. Thankfully, Leia noticed his worry and finished her sentence with an impish wink. "... Compared to listening to Borsk Fey'lya's speeches! You were saying about Aubé?"
Luke offered her a sad smile. Another question evaded. "I was just thinking about what an old friend told me. "She didn't need a Healer… just her brother…
Luke reemerged from the bedroom nearly half an hour later, and it was apparent that he was anxious to be gone, but Han knew that Luke was also anxious to say something – he didn't have to be a Jedi to see that.
"Kid… Luke…" Han said with remarkable gentleness. "What's wrong with Aubé, really?"
By the expression on Luke's face, Han felt as if he'd crossed some invisible line, one that hadn't been there before and one of many that had appeared since Luke had discovered his true heritage and his other family, but unlike the others, he wasn't going to let this one pass. "Talk to me…"
Luke hesitated, and then sat down heavily on the couch once again. To Han's eyes, he seemed to have aged many years in that instant. "Twins…" he sighed.
"Twins?" The Corellian's brow furrowed in confusion.
"Pem was also a twin, Han," Luke said softly. "Tam – that was her brother's name, Tamillen - died when he was about three…"
Han sucked in his breath with a hiss. "What? Why...?" The hardened Corellian rubbed his face, not finding the words to express his true feelings. It did not matter how he died or why his brother-in-law had never mentioned him. That explained so many things...
Awkwardly, he squeezed his friend's shoulder and cleared his throat. "I'm sorry, Luke," he offered softly.
The younger man accepted it with a sharp nod of his head.
"D'ya think that Leia's... our babies are in any danger?" Han rasped at last.
To Han's relief, Luke shook his head adamantly. "No, but she is afraid, Han. Do you remember the attack by the Citizens to Reinstate the Empire?"
"The CRE?" Han snorted. "How in the Seven Hells could I forget? Leia nearly killed, Mito hanging over the edge of that pod, the attack on you and Aubé… Yeah, almost seemed like old times!"
Luke remained grim. "We almost lost the baby then, Han. She was… well, let's just say it wasn't an easy time. Then we lost her father…" He paused, choosing his words carefully. "Kampher and Kay'leb agree – and Aubé herself knows – that it's partly the changes her body is going through, but still, just don't judge her too harshly, Han. OK?"
After Luke left, once again the morning crawled by and yet Leia was getting more restless by the minute. By midday, Chewie had stopped for a short visit and lunch with Pem and then they had once again headed to parts unknown – at least for the afternoon. Han managed to make the Princess eat a light meal and then he convinced her to lay down again for a nap. Of course, he was snoring before she even closed her eyes.