Let No Jedi Tear Asunder
Sunlight streamed into the opulent living room, illuminating the back of Luke Skywalker's blond hair. The effect gave the impression of making the young Jedi Master angelic... a bit holy, even. Considering his current emotions, the glow only heightened Han Solo's barely suppressed fury as he listened to his brother-in-law's speech.
Luke glanced over briefly at Han, then returned his attention back toward his sister. "It's for the best, Leia," he finished up, trying to sound certain of his stance.
"But they're so young," Leia said, not for the first time.
"That's exactly why I feel it's important to protect them from darkside influences," Luke stated, spreading his hands outward in a conciliatory gesture. "Sending them away will protect them while they are at their most vulnerable."
Han could no longer remain silent. "Protect them? From us?"
"No, no," Luke insisted. "From the darkside. The Force is telling me there are evil beings out there that would love to kidnap and twist your children's minds."
"Yet we won't know where our children are located?" Han asked, barely believing his own ears. "And you will? That's not right."
"Luke has explained this already," Leia said to her husband. "He's a Jedi, and he'd be able to withstand a darksider's interrogation."
"Luke is their uncle," Han said, his lips thinning in frustration and anger. "We're the parents, Princess. This isn't his decision, and I don't care what the kriffin' Force is telling him."
"It's not just your decision, either," Leia returned sharply.
"Did the Jedi of old do this?" Han questioned, glaring at his wife.
"They didn't have to," Luke responded. "Force-sensitive children were removed from their parents as soon as they were identified and taken into the protection of other Jedi."
Han gave a derisive snort. "Really? And the birth-parents didn't object, even a little bit?"
"It was for the best," Luke said, knowing he'd asked himself the same question, and more than once.
"I'm not sure bringing back the Jedi Order sounds like such a great idea."
"HAN!" Leia shouted, sounding shocked.
"What?" Han replied, shaking his head. "You're telling me that legalized kidnapping was a good thing?"
"The parents must have agreed," Leia argued.
"Or they were pressured into it, with that weak-mind-altering Force of yours."
"That's not true," Leia said, unsure whether it was or wasn't.
Han walked up to Luke. "I thought this Force of yours was everywhere."
"It is," Luke agreed.
"So how would our kids be safe from the darkside of the Force wherever it is you want to send them? Is this place immune from the darkside, and all evil?"
"No, it's just that only a select few would know where they are."
"And that select few wouldn't include me an' Leia."
"It's only for a few years."
"Years! Those are the same years that parents have the most influence over their development."
"It is their most formative years, which is why I want to send them -"
"Away from us!" Han interrupted hotly.
"Away from the darkside," Luke finished, becoming frustrated with Han's failure to see how important this was to the future.
"According to the New Republic law, our kids' welfare is half mine," Han said. "And I say, no way."
Leia was torn, desperately trying to understand Luke's viewpoint, yet as the mother, understanding Han's reluctance to concede. "We can talk about this later, after we've had a chance to cool down and consider the pros and cons."
"Spoken like a true politician," Han said sarcastically. He could bear no more discussion, and as far as he was concerned, the matter was closed. Turning, he stalked out of the living area and headed up the staircase to the bedroom.
Leia waited until the bedroom door could be heard closing. "I'm sorry, Luke. This is all such a shock to both of us. We love our children, and the idea of them being taken away..."
"You'd be able to visit them," Luke said gently. "Or you and Han could stay with them the entire time."
"I can't leave the New Republic right now," Leia said sadly. "And asking Han to stay in one place for three or four years...well, you know how well that would work out."
"I wouldn't be asking this if I didn't feel it was important," Luke said.
"I know," Leia said. "I'll wait for a few days, and approach Han again with the subject, when he's not so upset."
"This is very important," Luke prodded. "Try your best to make Han understand."
For some reason, that remark annoyed the Princess. "Yes, Luke. I'll do my best, but first I have to convince myself."
The next several days were extremely tense in the Solo household. Arguments would erupt whenever Leia brought up the subject of her brother taking the children, and it was becoming increasingly obvious to Han that Leia was siding with Luke, and there would be no unified front to present to the young Jedi Knight. Leia's apparent acquiescence to Luke's demands divided them even further. In an attempt to ease the strain, early mornings would find Han fleeing to the calming solitude of his ship, and the quiet understanding of his long-time partner, Chewbacca.
Late afternoon, Chewie finally remarked to his friend, [You should go home. Try to make peace.]
"Yeah," Han said with a snort. "We haven't had a peaceful night since Luke stuck his nose into our business."
[Do you still love Leia?]
Han shot his partner an incredulous look. "Why do you even have to ask that? I'd do almost anything for Leia - except this." The Corellian shook his head in despair. "It's Luke that I'm starting to hate."
[He means well. He is still young.]
"You got that right," Han snapped out. "Young, and despite Leia's claims to the contrary, inexperienced when it comes to being a Jedi. Knowing how to use a lightsaber and levitate rocks doesn't give him the right to dictate other peoples' lives. Hell, the entire galaxy is giving him credit for single-handedly killing the Emperor, when it was actually Vader that did it. All that unjustified praise is going to his head."
[You cannot blame Luke for the galaxy's hero-worship,] the huge Wookiee growled. [He has tried to deflect it away from himself.]
"Whose side are you on?"
[Yours,] Chewie replied. [But I am getting tired of spending so much time working on the Falcon when there is nothing wrong with her. I want to go to my apartment and get some rest.]
"So go. I'm not stopping you."
[You go home, too, and be nice.]
"I'll try. But Luke had better not be there when I get home."
Luke wasn't at the Solo apartment. For that matter, neither was Leia. It was Threepio, carrying three large satchels, that greeted Han in the main hallway.
"Hello, Master Solo!" the droid said. "Mistress Leia is not home at the moment, but rest assured that I am doing a wonderful job at attending to your offspring. Although, since they are currently napping, it is not all that difficult at the moment."
"Where is she?"
"The Princess went over to Winter's apartment, in order to aid Winter in assembling traveling apparel."
It took Han several seconds to decipher the droid's babble. "Where's Winter going?"
"I am not certain," Threepio replied. "It was not my place to ask that particular question."
Han pointed at the luggage the droid was holding. "What's all that?"
The droid's head tilted down as he lifted the bags. "This?"
"Yeah, Goldenrod. THAT."
"It is the children's clothing and toys. Princess Leia requested I put a travel bag together for each of them."
Han felt the blood drain from his face as he put a hand on the wall to steady himself. "You're kidding me," he whispered to himself.
Threepio failed note the comment wasn't a question. "No, Sir. It is not in my programming to 'kid'."
Han had to take a moment to compose himself, stunned that Leia would go behind his back and allow Luke to whisk their children off into the unknown. Shaking, he turned his attention back to the droid. "Did Leia tell you where the kids were going?"
"No, Master Han. Did you not know about this development?"
"Of course I knew," Han snapped, easily lying to the gullible droid. "We're all taking a little vacation. So take those bags to the Falcon right away."
This seemed to cheer the droid considerably. "A vacation? That sounds quite delightful." He shuffled toward the door. "Am I invited, Master Solo?"
"When hell freezes over," Han muttered under his breath.
"What did you say? I did not hear you."
"I said, of course you're coming with us," Han called out. "Now hurry up. I'll get the kids out of bed, and meet you at the docking pad."
"I'm sure this will be for the best, Leia," Winter said soothingly as she gathered some of her personal items into a bag.
"I hope so," Leia responded. "This whole thing has been such a strain on my marriage. I never thought anything would come between us like this has done."
Winter held up a tiny swimsuit. "Are you taking yours?"
Leia laughed. "After three children? I'm shocked you own such a bitty little thing, Winter."
"When you've got it, flaunt it," Winter pointed out. "You've kept your figure, and you do want Han's undivided attention, don't you?"
"Yes," Leia said, grinning. "Which is why I need you along to watch the children when Han and I go out for the evening."
"You could always take Threepio," Winter replied.
"Threepio? That droid is always interrupting us at the most inopportune times. He can stay with Luke."
"Is that your brother's punishment for causing such a rift in your relationship with Han?"
"What do you think?" Leia asked, laughing. The door chime interrupted the conversation, and Winter left to answer.
A few moments later, Threepio followed Winter into the bedroom. "Your droid is here."
"Threepio!" Leia chastied, suddenly worried. "I told you to stay with the children!"
"The children are safe with their father," Threepio stated. "Master Solo sent me here to assist you, while he preps the Millennium Falcon."
Leia gave a groan. "This was supposed to be a surprise. I'd like to know what you told Han, especially since I deliberately didn't give you any details."
"I only stated that you were at Mistress Winter's apartment, helping her pack," Threepio replied. "I must say, he did seem rather put out that he wasn't informed about this trip."
Suddenly, a cold Force-warning ran down the Princess's spine. She hurried over to the communication panel, and entered the Falcon's private code. There was no response. Quickly, she tried raising Han on his comlink, and was met with static. Frightened, Leia reached out with the Force to sense her husband and her children's presences' - and through the Force she could barely feel them. They were far off in the distance, and growing farther with each passing second.
"Winter?" Leia whispered, grasping the edge of the table until her knuckles turned white.
"What's happened?" Winter asked in concern.
"Han... Han has kidnapped the children."