The following collection of short stories are mostly Han and Leia. Many of them were written because of 'challenges', but not all. Some are supposed to be funny, some are dark, some are sappy. But I have put them ALL up, the good, the bad, and the ugly!
A Test Of Love
Endor, the morning after the Death Star destruction.
He could sense her distress, even from a distance. Han had been rescued, and the Rebellion had prevailed, so the cause of her distress could only be one thing - Vader. Luke felt a twing of guilt, knowing he was the one that had revealed this truth to his new-found sister. So he made his way through the forest, searching her out, unaware he was being followed.
She was sitting on a small boulder, tossing tiny sticks into a picturesque stream when he found her. "Leia?" he said softly, not wanting to startle her.
The dark-haired Princess twisted her head so she could look at her brother. "Good morning, Luke," she said, forcing a smile on her face. "You're sure up early."
"Can I sit down?"
Leia scooted over a little, making room on the rock for Luke to sit. Reaching over, he took her hand gently. "I know what's bothering you -" he started out.
"No," Leia interrupted. "No, it's fine. I'm fine. Really."
"Not really," he returned. "You can talk to me about this, sister. I'm in the same situation as you are."
She shook her head. "It's not the same."
"How? He was my father, too."
Glaring, Leia stood up and moved away from him. "I don't understand how you can be so... accepting about this! He was a monster, not a father!"
"You're not thinking rationally yet about this," Luke replied calmly. "I've tried to tell you before. He saved me, Leia. He died saving my life, and he asked me to tell you that I was right - he still did have good in him."
"A death-bed conversion to being a good guy? How convenient. Criminals in prison claim they've changed too, just to get released. It's hardly ever true, either."
"But it is true sometimes," Luke pointed out. "Why did he save my life? He could have let the Emperor kill me."
"How do you expect me to know how his twisted mind worked?" Leia shot back, shaking with anger.
"You can't hate, Leia," Luke said softly.
"Why?" Leia shouted. "Because I'll turn out just like him? Just like our father...Darth Vader?"
Luke stood up and tried to put his arms around his sister, but she pushed him away. "Don't try to make me feel better about this, Luke. I'll never feel better. He destroyed my world. He tortured me! And he tortured Han."
"Have you told Han?" Luke questioned gently.
"No! And I don't plan to, either." Leia wrapped her arms tightly around herself, staring at the ground. Then she looked up sharply. "Don't you dare tell anyone about this. It's our secret, and I intend to take it to my grave."
"It'll be worse if it gets out later, and then the entire galaxy thinks we're hiding something from them."
Leia put her hands to her face, and again Luke went up to her and held her. This time she didn't push him away. "He'll leave me if he finds out," she whispered, so softly he could barely make out the words. "I couldn't bear that, Luke. I've already lost so many people I love."
The young Jedi could feel the emotional pain and fear in his sister's senses. He was about to tell her that she was wrong, that Han would not leave her, when a rustling noise sounded from behind him. Luke turned around and was startled to find Han Solo standing a few feet away, near a tree, his expression that of shock and horror. So focused on the turmoil of his sister's emotions that he had not even sensed the familiar presence of his friend. Before Luke could speak, the Corellian turned and fled into the forest. Carefully, he looked back at his sister, only to see the same expression on her face that had been on Han's - shock and horror.
"He heard us....." she said, her voice tight.
"It appears he did," Luke agreed. "You need to talk to him about this."
"I don't think I can."
"Then you'll fulfill your own prediction, and he will leave you."
Han wasn't sure how, but somehow he'd found his way back to his ship. Darth Vader! Luke and Leia's father! It just couldn't be true, even if he'd heard the words from Leia's own mouth. I shouldn't have followed... He shook off the thought. No, he hadn't meant to eavesdrop, only find out where Leia had disappeared to, and it was only logical that Luke knew where she was. That twin-thing. That Force twin-thing. They got the Force from their father.... Vader!
Han sat down on his bunk and shut his eyes. The terrible images from Bespin swam back into focus. The pain, the fear, the endless mental and physical anguish of the carbonite. Han could not reconcile that monster with even being human, much less the biological father of the woman he loved, and the young man he considered his friend.
The impulse to run away swept over him in a rush, and he struggled against the feeling. He thought back to the overheard conversation. Had they always known? By Leia's upset voice, Han guessed that she hadn't known for very long, but he wasn't sure about Luke. Luke had sounded so calm, and what was the word Leia had used? Accepting. Which was odd, considering that his hand had been cut off by Vader's lightsaber.
Han stood up and paced his small room. He felt torn in two. Suddenly, Luke's desertion and the decision to go with Vader made sense, and Han felt his anger and hurt growing. Did Luke consider Vader more important than the success of the mission? Apparently so.
What was even more painful was Leia's declaration that she had no intention of telling him the truth. She didn't trust him, and if she didn't trust him then there was no hope for the future. Han didn't consider himself an expert in love, but his past had taught him that trust was by far the most important ingredient in a relationship. Without trust, love would turn brittle, and eventually shatter into pieces that could not be mended.
Leia and Luke approached the Falcon slowly. Luke could feel the growing apprehension in his sister with each step they took. "He's going to be upset," Leia said, looking at the lowered ramp.
"Yes, he is."
"What am I going to say to him?"
"The truth, Leia. You tell him the truth."
"He'll hate me."
"Maybe," Luke replied, and Leia looked at him sharply, fear radiating from her eyes. "He already knows, Leia. You can't undo that, either."
Taking a deep breath, Leia left her brother and walked up the ramp.
"Han?" she called into the quiet of the ship. For a long moment there was no answer, then the ex-smuggler stepped around the bend, putting his hand against the wall as if he needed support. "We need to talk," she told him.
"Apparently," was his dry response.
"You had no business listening to a private conversation," she said, suddenly feeling defensive.
"I didn't - " Mean to. He was cut off, unable to finish the sentence.
"You certainly did!" Leia said, indignantly. It felt much better to be on the offensive, to be able to delay the inevitable discussion about Vader. An argument about eavesdropping she could handle.
"I was only -" Worried about you.
"You only followed Luke because of your paranoid jealousy! I told you he's my brother. Didn't you believe me?"
"I believed you," he whispered. "This isn't about Luke."
Leia dropped to her knees, burying her face in her hands with a sob. "I.... I... can't go on...."
Quickly, Han knelt next to her, taking her into his arms, his own feelings of shock and hurt disappearing. It was nothing compared to her pain. "Yes, you can. You're strong, Princess. You're compassionate and caring. You're not like... him. Not one bit. You're the same person you've always been, and nothing will change that."
"No," Han said, shaking his head. "Don't apologize. This is nothing to apologize for."
She looked at him, wiping the tears away, and giving a wry grin. "I was trying to apologize for not trusting you."
Han sat back, leaning against the wall. "Well, then," he drawled. "I suppose that's okay." He looked over at her. "How long have you known this?"
"Since yesterday. Right before Luke left to face him."
"That's what you couldn't talk about." It wasn't a question.
She answered it anyway. "Yes."
"And why you needed me to hold you."
Han reached over, gently pulled Leia into his embrace and held her.