Hazel Eyes (Wishes of Wind)
A/N: Thank you, everyone! So, more lovely Han and Leia - as they are the main focus. :) Also, we're going to be telling a little of Luke's story, but I'm going to focus directly on him in the sequel following this. I've planned a trilogy, but we'll see how this story goes. Oh, and of course we have to include more of Obi-Wan and Satine as well. And let's not forget about our dashing Correlian agent Jix, and his fiery wife Sabe. ;)
OK, also, I know Anakin is supposed to be the most powerful Jedi that ever lived, but in this story, Luke is the more powerful. He has more potential.
NOTE: My YA sci-fi/fantasy novel OCEAN OF EMPTINESS is available on Amazon and the Apple iBookstore, soon to be on Barnes and Noble. If you would like to read a sample chapter, please visit my website by going to my profile and clicking on my homepage.
Summary of OCEAN: Accused of a crime he didn't commit, fifteen-year-old Rayan Thorn, heir to an intergalactic shipping company, is fleeing justice. After taking refuge on a deadly stardust-mining vessel, he stumbles upon something unexpected: a Starmaid, a space-dwelling, mermaid-like creature whose capture is highly valued by the entire Andromeda Galaxy. Although at first determined to use the Starmaid Thallie as his ticket to freedom, Rayan finds that he's increasingly hesitant to expose her secret to the rest of the galaxy. After all, Thallie's the first and only real friend he's ever had. However, when someone kidnaps Thallie, will Rayan risk everything, including his freedom, to save her?
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Background: Set 19 years after "Brown Eyes." The Empire and the corrupt Rebel Alliance are at war with each other. However, a third, secret organization is quickly growing, determined to bring both parties down.
Disclaimer: Don't own, never will.
Chapter Three: Inner Conflict
It was two in the afternoon when Han awoke, disoriented. Chewie was in the room next to him, still snoring loudly and mumbling in short little drowsy whines and grumbles. At first, Han honestly didn't remember where he was. He lifted his head up from the pillow, looked around, blinking dazedly. Dingy hotel room... his clothes hanging over the chair... the smell and feel of dense, humid city fog. Corellia? No. Rodia. That was it. Rodia. The casino. His lack of money. Looking for a job.
And he'd been having such a nice kriffing dream, too. About a girl with long, dark brown hair, soft, pale skin, and shining dark eyes. Han sat up suddenly, all of the past night's events coming back to him. His breath caught as he remembered her fully now - a Princess, the ward of Bail Organa. He remembered her grin, her sharp retorts, her temper. He remembered her fire.
Han grinned, rubbing his unshaven chin. What a woman. Princess or not, she was the feistiest girl he'd ever met. No bull with her, though, she didn't flirt openly like all the other women did. She didn't preen or pretend to be clever - she already was, but honestly, plainly. She was tiny, but fierce. Elegant, but vibrant. After they'd entered, and he'd enjoyed the flabbergasted, envious looks on Rendar's and Lando's faces, she'd taken them to a less crowded area, where, heaven forbid, they had talked.
Yes. Just talked. Han still couldn't believe it. He didn't just talk to women. They normally had too much to say - and the majority of it full of absolutely nothing. They didn't know ships, they didn't know tech - they didn't know anything. But this woman, Leia. Her name was even beautiful. She actually knew what she was talking about.
She'd asked about his ship, and that had set him off. He exploded into a detailed explanation about the Falcon, leaving nothing out. She had then told him about her private vessel. They'd talked until her mentor, Organa, the stiff-necked idiot, had pulled her away.
He hadn't even gotten her number, he thought regretfully. But c'mon... a Princess and a guy like him?
Eh, maybe it had all been just a dream. Maybe he was hung over. He needed a good shower and something to eat. Clambering out of bed, he headed for the fresher.
Chewie was still asleep by the time Had exited the fresher, so Han decided to let his best friend sleep while he grabbed a bite to eat. There were plenty of bars around, and he just needed a good bantha burger and maybe a beer. He actually hadn't drunk that much the night before. He wasn't a big drinker, just liked it occasionally. He didn't get it much, to be honest.
He slipped on his vest, pulled on his boots, and threw on a jacket before heading out into the heart of the city. The traffic was atrocious, and the pedestrians more than a little shady. But he was used to this, used to this company. He almost preferred it to that situation last night, with all those dolled up prissies. At least these people down here weren't hypocrites. These were thieves and criminals, but they were honest about it. Those fine people were thieves and criminals, but they hid it behind a wealth of money and power. Han hated it.
But she had been different. Leia.
Han growled, stuffed his hands into his pockets. He needed to stop this before it became an obsession. There was no way he would ever see her again. What, he would run into her here, in this dumpy section? She'd be at the finest resort, sipping the finest wine. He sighed, looked up, and saw a sign for a bar. Hungry and irritated, he pushed the door open and entered the dark, dingy bar. There weren't that many people, thank goodness, and the bar music was turned down pretty low.
He made his way up to the counter and took a seat, resting his arms on the countertop. The bartender glanced at him, and he ordered a beer, not seeing a hooded figure a couple seats away start, then stare at him. Once he'd gotten his beer, he took a drink and stared up at the holo-screen. Another poker tournament. Boring.
"Little early to be drinking."
Han glanced to his right, saw the hooded figure. He scowled, ready to shoot the figure a nasty comment; but then the figure pulled back the hood. Han nearly spit out his drink.
"Well, I'll be damned," he said with a grin. "If it ain't the Scoundrel herself." With a confidence he didn't feel, he rose from his seat and slid his beer across the counter. Swallowing at the way her eyes were glittering warmly, he took a seat right next to her. Without looking at the bartender, he called out, "Two shots. Straight up."
"Make one double-strength," said Leia, never breaking eye contact with him.
"Little early for that, ain't it?" said Han with a lopsided grin.
"Can't hold your liquor, Captain?"
"Make that two," added Han to the bartender.
"And I'll have another beer," she said.
"Me, too," said Han.
"Put it all on his tab," said Leia with a devilish grin.
Han smirked, took a sip of his drink. "You're the rich one, Your Worshipfullness. Put it on her tab," he called to the barman.
"You're killing me with kindness," said Leia dryly.
"Well, which is it?" the bartender demanded grumpily.
"Mine," said Han and Leia at once. When she raised an eyebrow, he shrugged. "Gotta be a stand-up guy in some way, I guess. It ain't right for a lady to pay the bill."
Leia reached over and took his beer from him, taking a large swig. She wiped her mouth with her sleeve and grinned.
"Who says I'm a lady?"
Han grinned back, delighted by this strange girl. At least she wasn't a prude. And kriff, did she know how to drink. "I sure as Hoth didn't," he replied.
"Damn straight," said Leia. Even in the dim light, Han could see a strange bitterness reflecting off her eyes. Her expression made him feel a little uncomfortable, so he cleared his throat and tried to change the subject.
"So, what's a Princess doing in a seedy place like this?"
"Needed to get out," replied the Princess. She thanked the bartender and took a sip of her beer. "I'm so done with that place. With that man. With everything," she growled, gripping her glass tightly.
Han frowned. "Something's got you riled up, ain't it, Princess? What happened?"
Leia stiffened, as if she realized she'd said too much. "It's nothing," she said coolly. "I can take care of myself, Captain."
"I figured," said Han. "But that's not what I meant. C'mon, tell me." He moved even closer. "Forget to put on makeup?" he joked dryly. Not that it would matter, as he was sure she'd look stunning, anyway.
Princess Leia shot him a dark look. "No offense, Captain, but I don't think we're that close for me to start telling you my life story."
Taken aback and irritated by her holier-than-thou attitude, Han glowered. The woman couldn't take a joke, could she?
"Well, if it ain't now, then when, huh Sweetheart?" He was falling back into the talk he used with the bimbos, and it wasn't exactly working on this woman.
She bristled. "I'm not your Sweetheart. I've known you for a few hours. You even lied to me about what you really do for a living."
"I already told you -"
"You honestly thought I bought that?" Leia demanded. "Please," she snorted. "You're a hotshot Corellian smuggler. I can tell from a mile away."
Han colored deeply. He'd told her he captained a trade vessel. Well... Technically...
"What's with you, huh, Your Worship?" Han said edgily, his temperament quickly growing sour from her surprisingly biting remarks. Maybe it was that time of the month. Or maybe she was just another one of those arrogant hypocrite prissies. First impressions weren't always accurate. He should know. "I just sat down, and you're already gonna bite my head off?"
Leia's eyes burned with anger. Kriff, she had quite a temper.
"That's entirely dependent on you, Captain Solo," she said coldly. "I came here to get away, to have a few drinks, and have a few peaceful moments. I thought that we could have a civil conversation, but clearly I was wrong. You were obviously merely enjoying your friends' jealousy last night at my expense."
Han rose to his feet, bowed, and sank back in his chair, an acidic smile on his face.
"Well, don't let me stop you from your few moments of peace, Your Worshipfullness," he sneered. "By all means. I'll gladly depart your majestic presence, being so unworthy and all that."
Leia bolted to her feet, reached for something on her belt. Han wondered briefly if it was a gun; but the way her wrist was positioned didn't suggest as much. Very quickly, though, her face flashed with an emotion that could only be described as horror, and she turned and rushed out of the bar.
"Wait, Princess," Han started to protest, but the door had already slammed shut behind her.
Behind him, someone snorted. Han turned around and glared at the intruder.
"Nice goin', hotshot," grunted a man sitting at the bar. "She's tryin' to talk serious and you're cracking kriffing jokes." He was extremely muscular, probably three inches taller than Han, and had long dark hair tied back in a loose ponytail. Guns were strapped to his legs and at his waist, and Han was sure he was carrying at least one vibro-knife. He wore a brown shirt with sleeves rolled up to his elbows, open at the collar. Although his stance was relaxed, Han had a feeling that within a split second the guy would be ready to take anyone out - including him.
"What the hell is this any business of yours?" demanded Han.
The man smirked. "Buddy, you're in a bar. That ain't exactly private."
Han glared at him. "Maybe you should shut up before I knock you one good, pal."
The man just raised an eyebrow, lazily took a sip of his drink. "Maybe you should just go after her. But you probably ain't got the guts to do it."
"I'm not groveling for some crazy chick," snarled Han.
The man shrugged. "Suit yourself."
Han didn't know what else to say. First, Leia, now this idiot... He swore under his breath, turned sharply, and stomped out of the bar, slamming the door shut behind him.
The man watched him storm off, muttering under his breath. He shook his head, took another drink. "Girl's just like her father," he muttered. "Stubborn, bad-tempered, and scary as hell." He finished his drink, threw some credits on the counter, and stalked out of the bar.
Oh, what was wrong with her? Leia sprinted down the streets, hood thrown back, hair whipping into dark brown tangles in the dense, misty wind. Heart pounding violently, she tried to get her mind straightened, back in perfect harmony with the Force. Like her father, she'd always struggled with a furious temper. It had gotten her into some nasty fights with him, but both understood each other extremely well. Leia wished more than anything to speak to her father, to hear words of comfort, of encouragement. She'd even take his dark glares at this point.
"Leia, wait!" she heard Han's voice echoing behind her.
But she just put her head down and ran harder. She ducked into a small alley, slipping through the shady characters that were hovering about there, and didn't stop running until she reached the eastern end of the city, which was closest to the high-end sector.
Resting her head against a building wall, she stared up at the sky, panting. She'd almost hurt him. She'd almost pulled her lightsaber on Han. Han, who had been nothing but kind... for the most part. Sure, he was a nerfherder, and an arrogant Corellian to boot, but she'd been so harsh with him, so short. He'd just been asking a few questions - however direct and careless they may have been.
He reminded her of Uncle Jix. Uncle Jix, who'd dropped by to keep an eye on her for a few days in whatever way he could. Uncle Jix had been in the bar, listening to her conversation. While she couldn't help but be annoyed that he'd been listening in, it wasn't his fault. How was he supposed to know that Han would barge in there? There were thousands of bars around.
But Han... Oh, what she'd said. Leia, in a rare moment of weakness, sank to the ground and wrapped her arms around herself. Tears blurred her vision, but she struggled to keep them down. She wouldn't cry. She couldn't. Not the face of the cruel Bail Organa, or the sickening Bana Breemu, not the leering Tarkin, not even in the horrifying face of the Emperor himself.
But this was different. This was her fault. She'd gotten anxious at his persistent questions - questions she couldn't answer. She couldn't trust anyone. Not even him. She didn't know him. She didn't. Leia's head went down.
She felt a hand on her arm. She looked up, although she already knew who it was.
Jix sat down beside her in the small, shadowed alley, and took her in his arms, cradling her as he used to do when she was younger. Leia curled up into him, her eyes sliding shut.
"I almost lost it," said Leia softly. "He's getting too close. I don't even know him, Uncle Jix. I've only met him once. But he's different. He's driving me crazy, and I don't know why."
But Jix had a pretty good idea. However, he remained silent and just pressed a kiss to his goddaughter's hair.
"I'm such an idiot, Uncle Jix," moaned Leia. "I can't do this. I have such a hard time controlling my temper."
"Yeah," agreed Jix. "You've got one hell of a temper. You're stubborn, and you're a pain in the neck sometimes." When she shot him a startled, hurt look, he added, "But, you're also my goddaughter, and my responsibility while I'm here. So, it's my responsibility to tell you that that guy was being a kriffing idiot, too. So relax. You're doing fine, kid. Trust me. Your dad's proud of you." He ruffled her hair affectionately. "And so am I."
The air was sandy and hot. The billowing dust blew into his eyes; and he had to force himself not to blink. The sun only added to the pain he currently felt. Among other things...
His foot bumped into something; he looked down. It was a rock, in the middle of the desert. No. It wasn't a rock. It was a person. He took anther step. His other foot hit something else. Another person. He was wandering among piles of bodies. They were covered in blood, lying in the sand. He reached down, touched one to see if the person was dead. When he pulled back, his hand was sticky with blood. But was it someone else's blood? He looked at his other hand. No... that, also, was drenched with red. No. No. What was happening? Why was everyone dead?
Had he killed them? Was he responsible? Why was this happening?
All dead. Every one. Everyone dies.
Luke heard his father's roar - both in his mind and in person - and his eyes flew open. He jolted back, panting, and rubbed a hand across his sweating forehead. No desert. No bodies. He was here, in the dark, grey forest of Anzat, sitting across from his father on the ground, meditating, training as they did weekly together. No desert. No heat. No blood.
What had that been?
"Dad..." Luke said, his voice hoarse.
Anakin's eyes were dark, raw. He bolted up to his feet, crouching down before his son. "What were you thinking?" he demanded roughly.
"I'm... I'm sorry, Dad," Luke apologized, shaking. He honestly didn't know what he was apologizing for.
Anakin gripped his son's arms tightly. "Damn it, Luke!" he said forcefully. "Do you know how dangerous it is to wander around in my mind? How many times have I warned you not to go too deep!" He didn't want to admit it to his son, but the fact that Luke had entered memories long and deeply buried disturbed him. He had know that Luke would be stronger than he - the boy just emanated power. However, he was starting to realize just how strong his son had become... and the problem was, Luke had no idea of his potential. If he and Luke weren't careful, it would be their disadvantage.
"I'm sorry, I didn't realize..." Luke trailed off, staring down at his hands. "What was that place?" he asked, still trembling.
Anakin sighed, released his son. "Something you didn't need to see." He rose to his feet in a simple, fluid motion and retrieved his cloak. "I'm sorry. That wasn't supposed to happen."
"Just how much haven't you been telling us?" demanded Luke, jumping to his feet. "Dad, all those bodies... just lying there..." The strangely haunted look that burned in his eyes gave Anakin more pain than he had felt in years.
"Son," said Anakin, struggling to control his roiling emotions, "There are things you know about me, and those that you don't. But I've kept them from you for a reason. There's no need to dive deep into my past. It's not the time for that. It's time to focus on the here and now to prepare for the future - your future."
"Sometimes, you can't focus on the future until you've let go of your past, Father," said Luke quietly. "You haven't let go. You're just burying your anger and your guilt and those memories - they're just locked away. But eventually, it's all going to come out. You must know that."
Anakin's jaw flexed. "I can deal with this. This is my problem, not yours."
"Does Obi-Wan know?" asked Luke directly. "He was your mentor. Clearly, he didn't see just how much guilt and rage you're storing up inside yourself. You do a good job of hiding it."
"Don't push it, son," said Anakin with an edge to his voice.
"If I don't, who will?" Luke demanded. "You're obviously not trusting anyone enough to let them in. Does even Mom know?"
Anakin's fists clenched. "I've been married to her for almost twenty years. Do you really think we keep those kinds of secrets between us?"
"Not an answer. You've obviously kept it from me and Leia and Obi-Wan."
"Last time I checked, I wasn't married to any of you."
Luke sighed, moved over to his father, and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Dad... what's the matter? You've been so distant lately."
"I'm fine," said Anakin. He turned, faced his son, and forced a small smile on his rugged face. "I'm fine." He placed a hand firmly on his son's shoulder, squeezed lightly, and walked out of the clearing. "We should hurry. Seii does not like to be kept waiting." He threw his cloak on and started through the forest with Luke at his side. He could sense Luke's gentle, warm mind reaching out to him, questioning, concerned. He was so much like his mother, Anakin thought. So kind, so good. Anakin truly sensed almost no darkness in his son, but therein lay the danger.
However, he was one to talk. He had been Darth Vader for over twenty years. Something like that didn't just go away. But over the past few months, his concentration in the light had become much more of a struggle, alarmingly so. A darkness shadowed his mind, a darkness he hadn't sensed in years... He'd blocked the Emperor for so long, he'd thought that he'd banished the old fool in whole. However, that appeared not to be the case. He considered bringing Obi-Wan into the situation, but his old mentor had enough problems to contend with - juggling missions as a general, attempting to negotiate with Duchess Satine's turbulent Mandalorians, and raising a growing family of two children.
No, Obi-Wan didn't need to be involved with his personal problems. Although he would normally go to him, and he held nothing back from the older General, he felt a deep shame. This should not be happening to him. He should have conquered his past demons and moved on. Why was the darkness becoming so kriffing strong in his mind?
Something was wrong. Something was changing. Whether it was due to Skywalker Underground's recent, steadily growing appearances on the battlefield, or the Alliance's alarming number of victories, Anakin knew in his heart that the Emperor's power was growing. Maybe not directly through himself, but through others. An apprentice, Anakin guessed darkly.
But Luke had no idea how much his father had been struggling for the past few months. He had no idea how hard it was for Anakin to maintain his control. And he had no idea how strong the darkness was growing in the heart of the galaxy.
Luke suddenly tensed beside him, and he felt his son's consciousness go on edge. He'd already sensed the shadowy, mysterious presence, and to be honest, it didn't bother him. He and his son halted in a small clearing. The wind blew, whispering hauntingly around them.
Anakin was on full alert now as the shadow stepped into the faint light. Seii, a master Anzati. Highly skilled, highly dangerous. Anakin trusted very few people, even fewer Anzati due to their violent, predatory natures, but Seii was the reason Skywalker Underground existed on Anzat, and he had to be aware of that.
However, he also knew that Seii liked to try and keep the younger recruits of Skywalker Underground, most specifically the Jedi-in-training, on their toes. He understood Seii's reasoning and allowed it. The younger ones did need the training. Those who stayed mainly the base, such as Luke and a few others, needed to constantly be on the alert. It was necessary. If they let their guard down, it could mean their deaths.
Seii, a white-haired, tall Anzati, stepped forward, resting on a twisted wooden staff. His eyes were deep, steady, as he gazed right at the two Jedi.
"Greetings, Master Skywalker and young Skywalker." His voice was very deep. "I trust you are both well."
Anakin nodded shortly. "Indeed. And yourself, Seii?"
Luke tensed, reached for his lightsaber. Neither Seii or Anakin moved. In the next moment, several shadows came at Luke from all directions. Luke flew up into the air, back-flipping, and nearly pulled out his lightsaber.
"No," called Seii.
Luke alighted on the ground, faced the seven Anzati who were brandishing weapons. Anakin watched, confident in Luke's abilities, and yet, as always, concerned for his son. He felt Seii come up beside him as Luke sprang into action, perfectly calm, and started to take out the Anzati students with powerful ease.
"Do not fear for your son. He is strong," said Seii. "The strongest I have ever seen."
Anakin's prosthetic arm flexed. He was still getting used to having skin cover the hard, cold, metal - not that he was complaining. "I know," he said somberly. "But he still has a long way to go."
"Send him here more often," commanded Seii. "You know that we are masters of masking our presence. This includes in the Force as well. He will learn much if you allow him to be my student."
"That is his choice. But I will give him the option."
Seii continued to watch Luke defeat the last of his students. "You are full of turmoil, my friend. I sense something has happened."
"It's Dantooine. Our base has been compromised."
"I see. You will recover, no doubt. You have been accelerating your movements. There have been rumors. Your organization is growing stronger."
"Yes. But with more recruits coming, it increases the risk of betrayal. It is imperative that our troops remain strong and focused. Luke included."
Seii fell silent for a moment as Luke finished off the last Anzati. Finally, he said quietly, "And your daughter?"
Anakin's jaw flexed. "Still undercover. But I need her there. She's the reason this plan is in place."
Luke came forward and bowed before the both of them. He wasn't even breathing hard. Anakin felt a touch of pride for his son. Luke's eyes were bright, and his stance and mind fully in tune with the Force, all former anxiety disappeared.
"Thank you, Master Seii," said Luke. "As always."
Seii inclined his head. "You are a true inspiration to watch, young Skywalker. I commend you. Given your exemplary performance, I have a proposal for you."
Luke's eyes drifted to his father before returning to Seii.
"If you wish it," said Seii, "I wish to train you in the art of secrecy and invisibility. You will learn, through me, to fully mask your presence, both in the Force, and physically. You will become skilled in espionage, in even feigning death. Will you accept?"
Luke let out a short breath, clearly startled by this offer. However, he straightened after a moment and nodded respectfully. "Thank you for your generous offer, Master Seii. I would be more than willing to accept, if it is my father's wish as well."
"Your choice entirely, Luke," said Anakin quietly.
Luke nodded. "Then I accept."
So, a lot of you will probably be saying: "Geez, Serena - Leia needs to take a chill pill and give poor Han a break. What's her deal, anyways?" But before you get on her case, we need to look a little deeper into her life. So just wait on those comments. ;)
Oh, and if someone's going to bring up the issue of correct characterization, let me remind everyone that this is AU. Things are going to be different. :)
Let me know if I should continue! :)