Disclaimer: I do not own Star Wars. I do not own these characters. I'm just coming here to play.

I hope you enjoy the story. if you do I'll put up some more. (A little incentive there). Please review and tell me what you think.

*Goodbye--A RotJ AU*

Endor's normal nighttime sounds--chirping insects and the occasional animal call--were nowhere to be heard in the forests surrounding the Ewok villages. Huge bonfires, like tiny lights in the trees, dotted the woods. Up in the sky, brilliant fireworks exploded against a navy backdrop of stars. There was one star, however, that was nowhere to be seen. Whereas its shape had formerly occupied much of the sky, now all that was left of the Death Star was a cloud of miniscule dust particles dispersed freely into space.

Down below, the party was in full swing. Han felt he had to give the little fuzz-balls some credit for the quality of celebration they were putting on. He was busy prying an overenthusiastic Ewok off his leg while keeping his glass of berry wine from spilling when a voice called, "Han!"

He looked up to see Lando walking at a brisk pace to greet him, a wide, white grin on his face. "Calrissian," Han greeted his friend with a clap on the back and downed the last of the putrid drink. "Good to see that you're still alive, buddy."

"Hey," Lando laughed. "I wouldn't give them the satisfaction of killing me. It felt good to give the Empire a bloody nose."

"Is my ship all right?" Han asked earnestly.

Lando adopted a hurt look. "Would you think so little of me?"


Calrissian patted his friend on the shoulder. "The Falcon's fine, Han."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah." He looked a little uncomfortable. "We'll have to get a new sensor dish put on, though."


"Hey!" Lando protested. "Take it easy--I'll get it fixed." greet

Han was seething. "You'd better," he growled. There was a roar behind him and Chewie came forward and gave Lando an enthusiastic embrace.

"Good to see you too, Chewbacca." He then saw the princess slip quietly into their circle. Leia!" he cried joyously, giving her a big hug, with or without her permission.

The princess laughed at the giddiness of the moment and hugged him fiercely back. "Glad to see you made it through. I'm sure Han is thrilled that for once his premonition wasn't correct and he'll be able to see his ship again."

Calrissian gave her a mock frown. "Why do I get this feeling that people are more excited to see the ship return than me?"

Their laughter echoed and mingled with the sound of the celebration across the Ewok camp.

Leia glanced at the entrance for the umpteenth time, and then caught herself, not wanting to appear overly antsy. It was still early and many of the fighter pilots were still trickling in, happy and relieved and ready to celebrate. She must be patient.

He would come soon.

Wedge Antilles appeared and they exchanged a round of happy embraces. "Is Luke here yet?" he called over the drumming and singing Ewoks.

Leia shook her head and articulated "Not yet."

The celebration was fully underway when the Fuzzball percussionists started beating out a catchy little rhythm that several members of Rogue squadron began singing to. Han took a sidelong glance at the princess who, despite her outward projection of calm and ease, seemed worried. "Come on, sweetheart," he said, taking her hand. "No sense wasting a perfectly good party brooding. You never know when you may have another good reason to celebrate like this." She suddenly saw the twinkle in his eyes. "May I have this dance?" When she didn't answer right away, he leaned his face closer to hers, forcing her to look him in the eyes. "I'm sure Luke's fine," he murmured. "Come on and dance with me."

Leia laughed as he spun her out to the floor. In Han's arms, in the face of optimism and dancing to the beat of the comical music, her heart didn't feel quite so heavy. Luke would turn up soon, she was sure of it.


Sometime later that night, much to Han's disappointment, he and Leia received orders to report to Home One for a debriefing.

Solo had moaned and groaned about how the Alliance bigwigs could never have any fun and couldn't it wait until morning? But despite his grousing, he had ridden with Leia on a battle-scarred Correlian gunboat up to the Mon Calamari ship and straight to the meeting.

Leia sat quietly at the wide, white table in the Mon Calamari ship's main conference room. Seated around it were Mon Mothma, Admiral Ackbar, General Madine, and Han. She felt tired and grubby after trekking and fighting for two days in the woods, and was not in the mood for this meeting. A good ten hours of sleep, a hot meal and a long shower was all she could think about as she stared blankly at the documents sitting in front of her.

Madine tapped a few keys on his datapad and sat back in his chair, stroking his beard. "It has been confirmed that the Death Star has been destroyed," he said officially, arching an eyebrow at Leia. She nodded her verification of that fact, trying not to appear too drained. "It is cautiously to be assumed," he went on, "that both Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader were killed in that explosion."

"It's still too early," Mon Mothma reprimanded him quietly

"But just to make a wary supposition," Madine defended. "Based on the un- likeliness that they would have been able to escape--"

"Did you know Senator Palpatine personally, general?" Mon Mothma cut him off with a severe look. Madine reluctantly shook his head no. "Well I did," she said quietly. "I saw the way he manipulated the senate, and led them blindly into his little traps. I saw his cunning and charisma. I will not have us let down our guard based on the simple assumption that the head of the Empire has been cut off. We cannot relax until we have proof, is that understood?"

"Yes, Ma'am," Madine answered meekly.

Mon Mothma let her stern gaze rest briefly on everyone around the table before turning back to Madine with a kinder expression.

"You may proceed, general."

The man was trying not to look too flustered, Leia saw, as he called up a few more notes on his datapad. "General Solo," he turned on Han. "Is everyone on your strike team and shuttle crew, whether living or dead, accounted for?"

Leia could feel her heart start to pound as she watched Han make a play for time, pretending to check his notes. He cleared his throat. "Everybody is accounted for except." his gaze darted quickly to Leia and back to his notes. "Luke Skywalker."

An air of surprise seemed to ripple across the table, followed by a shocked silence. It was Ackbar who spoke first.

"Is he dead?" He asked.

Han shook his head. "I--we don't know."

"As Skywalker's commanding officer, you don't know where he is?" Madine demanded, his voice filled with patronizing disbelief.

Solo bit back a sarcastic reply, figuring he didn't need any more trouble for one day. "No, sir," he answered, quietly. "I don't."

"When was his approximate time of disappearance?" Mon Mothma asked evenly, her calm demeanor seemingly unfrayed by this new report.

Solo raised his eyebrows at Leia, who decided it would be wise to take it from there. "He left the night before the battle of Endor," she answered, feeling their attention suddenly converge on her.

"Do you mean he deserted?" Madine demanded in disbelief.

"No!" she exclaimed, feeling the anger starting to rise in her throat. Taking a deep breath, and in a quieter voice, she went on. "Luke knew that Vader could track his presence on the moon, and he knew he was endangering the mission and the lives of the team by staying with us. He had to leave."

"Where?" Mon Mothma asked gently. Leia averted her gaze from their questioning stares, feeling tears start to sting her eyes. No, she thought resolutely. They would not see her cry. Besides, there was nothing for her to be worrying so much about. Luke was really all right. He had to be.

"Leia, please tell us where he went--"

"He went to face Darth Vader!" she blurted. "He knew he had to face him, to turn him back, to kill him, whatever it was he had to do--distract him, even, from what we were going to blow up at Endor--I don't know." She sat back in her chair, feeling that her fragile patience seemed to be slipping from her grasp. "That's all any of us know," she whispered.

Madine duly took note on his datapad. His voice was carefully modulated, and he could have been discussing the menu for dinner. "Willful surrender to the enemy violates the codes stated in section five, article four of--"

"Are you saying he betrayed us?" Leia almost shouted.

The general scowled at her. "I'm saying he broke the rules," he stated. "Such actions constitute betrayal to his commanding officers and the Alliance itself."

"Now just a minute," Han objected. "Just because the kid isn't here to defend himself doesn't mean you can conveniently stamp him as a traitor and put him on a shelf. Luke might have made a bigger sacrifice up on the Death Star than anyone else in that battle in order to ensure the good of the galaxy, and all in the name of your precious Rebel Alliance. Now, here you are, not twelve hours later, condemning everything he's done."

"Besides," Leia added in the ensuing silence, "being a Jedi Knight puts him outside of such restrictions. What he did was perfectly authorized."

Mon Mothma nodded in agreement. "Luke Skywalker is a Jedi knight," she reminded Madine.

"Yes, well," the general shuffled his papers, "so was Darth Vader at one time."

He locked gazes with Leia. "Princess, unless Skywalker returns soon, it would be wise to consider one of two options: either he betrayed the Alliance or he was killed in battle. Go ahead and choose whichever one that will ease your conscience." He glanced pleasantly around at all the occupants of the table. "If no one has any further business to discuss, I suggest this meeting be adjourned."