Author's Note: I absolutely adored Death Troopers and wanted to write something where Han, later in life, is reminded of what happened. There's no way he could have forgotten something like that. ;) Written: 10/21/2009
"Be careful, Chewie."
The wookiee grumbled an affirmative and peered around the corner of the building, Han Solo peeking around Chewbacca in turn. There was nothing down there in the alleyway, just streaks of sunshine hitting the worn pathway and the nondescript walls of the buildings that made up Hanna City.
Han and Chewbacca were on Chandrila, running a couple business errands for Mon Mothma and Admiral Ackbar (much to Leia's delight - and after she prodded a little bit too). When they had arrived and found a place to stay for the few nights they were going to be there, they were contacted. A message had been left for them on the main terminal at the front desk of the inn.
Heard you were on Chandrila. Would be honored if you would stop by to say hello to an old friend.
Kid? This could've been anyone. Han called everyone younger than him kid. Corellian Hells, this could've been from one of his sons for that matter. Of course, Jacen and Anakin were thirteen and eleven, respectively, and were too busy getting into innocent trouble to leave messages like this. His mind raced back to them for a moment. He told them to stay put at the inn, in their room with the doors locked (Leia had insisted she bring them as well - "male bonding time with Dad and Uncle Chewbacca", she told him). With a quick shake of the head, Han turned his focus back to the task at hand.
They were prepared for some sort of trap, of course. So here they were, making their way down an alleyway to the address that was attached to the message, weapons in hand and concentrated grimaces on their faces. Anyone could have left that message. Friend or foe. Even though Han had been out of the smuggling business for awhile, he knew there were still people (and beings) out there who would love to have his head, along with that genuine smirk, right up on their wall. Chewie's too. Snarl and all.
Shifting quickly, Han and Chewbacca spun around and raised their weapons in unison, business ends pointed at a man seated in a chair under a canopy on a stone porch. Solo let his eyes flicker fast to the right side of the front door, where a small set of numbers and letters let him him know that the address they were in front of was the one that had been attached to the message they received.
"Whoa, whoa, guys. Come on."
Han studied the man from over the barrel of his blaster, his mind shuffling through faces of people he knew and met throughout his life. This man looked familiar; his eyes had seen way too much, Han could tell. And his calm expression - the way his lips upturned slightly, like that was as wide as he could smile - that jogged his memory a bit.
The man spoke up, and Han placed who he was just as the word slipped from the others lips.
Chewbacca brayed loudly in an excited fashion, holstering the crossbow he had pointed at him and leaned down, gathering him up in his arms and pulling him from his seat, wrapping him up in a hug.
"You can put me down now." Trig smiled his tight-lipped smile once more and Chewie obliged, setting him back on his feet and tousling his hair a bit. Chewbacca remembered carrying him before, but he was much lighter and a lot more angry then. Trig had said the same thing to him then too. Of course, it had been in a meaner and more curt fashion.
Han could tell that to Chewbacca, Trig Longo was still that thirteen year old little scamp they had helped back on the contaminated Star Destroyer so long ago. It made a lopsided grin spread across his face.
"How've you been, kid?" He almost flinched at his use of kid, knowing that Trig wasn't a kid anymore. He had gotten older and he had been through too much. And Han knew that the too much had all taken place on that Imperial Prison barge and the Star Destroyer in those dark hours years prior.
"Not too bad." He jerked a thumb back to the small home behind him. "Living the quiet life, I guess."
"How's Cody?" Han asked, remembering that Trig and Zahara had stuck together once Han and Chewie parted ways with them.
"She's good. She's actually on Corellia now, working as a doctor. Helping people."
"Naturally. It would be weird for her to be doing any-" Han paused, mid-sentence, his eyes shifting up to Chewie, who stood on his left.
Slowly, Han leaned backwards, peering around the mass of fur to see two small heads at the end of the alleyway, vanishing from sight the moment he caught them.
"Would you excuse me?" Han bolted past Chewbacca and sped down the alleyway in a clumsy sort of run, skidding to a halt as he reached the end and looked down the adjacent alley he and Chewie had come from. The two heads he had seen were now on two bodies that were loosely clutching at each other and almost cowering a bit as well.
"I thought I told you two to stay in the room!"
"But..." The younger one started, his words failing him after that one.
"Dad, it was boring in the room."
Knowing that their contact wasn't any sort of dangerous, Han motioned for them to go in front of him, down to where Uncle Chewie was standing with a man Han had met when the guy was roughly his children's ages. "Go on."
With a whoop of delight, Anakin Solo took off running down the shaded alley towards Chewbacca. Jacen seemed content to walk back beside his father. "Who is that guy with Chewie?"
Han looked down to his oldest son, noting the way his face stayed slightly wary. The boy was careful. And the boy asked a lot of questions, but Han realized that he would never get sick of them. "He's an old friend. Chewbacca and I helped him out through a rough time."
Another question, naturally.
"We helped him escape somewhere bad. Very bad."
"Why was it bad?"
"It was a prison barge, he-"
"What did he do to be in prison?"
"Nothing. He was wrongfully arrested, along with his dad and his brother."
Jacen tilted his head slightly as they walked side-by-side. Only moments passed before he asked, his voice lowered. Han thought it looked like the boy already knew the answer to the question he was about to spout. "What happened to them?"
"They died." Han caught the flinch of Jacen's expression. "He was there when it happened to each of them."
Han knew Trig hadn't been around for Kale Longo's real death. Trig had been with him and Chewie when that happened. But the boy had later relayed that the thing his brother had turned into had come after him, and almost killed him had Trig not pushed him to his death into the ventilation shaft.
He kept his head turned a bit longer, his eyes locked on his son. Jacen didn't flinch that time, no. His whole expression almost melted at what Han had said. He felt his hand being touched and peered down to see that Jacen had grabbed it and was holding onto it tight and when his eyes looked back to the boy's face he saw that his gaze was locked on his little brother. Han knew that the answers Jacen had got to his questions were really turning some gears in that boy's mind.
"And who might they be?" Trig inquired, as Han strolled up.
"These are my sons." Han shook Jacen's arm, their hands still joined. "This is my oldest, Jacen." And pointing to his youngest, Han grinned as he watched Anakin running circles around Chewbacca's legs. "That's Anakin." The boy stopped long enough to wave.
"Your... your sons." Trig said.
"Yeah, I know." Han returned. "Can you believe it?"
Trig Longo sighed as he looked between them. He had always figured Han Solo hated kids. He hadn't been that excited when he found Kale and Trig all those years ago pointing blasters at them. Sure, they had blasters, but it's not like they would've been able to shoot anything with them if they had tried.
"Hi boys. My name's Trig."
"Hello mister," Anakin exclaimed, reaching out to shake his hand.
"Nice to meet you, sir." Jacen stuck his hand out as well.
Trig took both of them in turn, glancing up to Han as he did. The man looked proud and that almost made Trig chuckle. The man's face shifted quickly from pride to disgust though, as he spotted the chrono on the tower in the square they were near.
"Nggggh. We have a meeting to sit in on that's starting in a few minutes." Han shook his head. "Politics."
"Doing it for the wife."
"Awwww." Trig said, watching Han's cheeks turn the slightest shade of pink. "I would've never taken you for a man like that after seeing you in those orange jumpsuits after your stint in solitary."
"You were in solitary?" Anakin squealed. "Wow, Dad!"
"Oooooh, let's not talk about that right now, buddy. Don't want to give the kids any ideas."
"Come on, Dad." Jacen spoke up. "Like we would do anything you used to do."
"Hey!" Han decided to drop the subject, both of his boys staring up at him expectantly. "Say bye to Trig, we have to head out so we have time to lock you in the rooms at the inn again so we can get to this meeting." Under his breath he added, "Not that I want to really go."
Trig knelt down, glancing between Han's sons as he spoke. "You two look after each other okay?"
Offering a sloppy salute, Anakin responded, "Always!"
"Of course." Jacen said at the same time.
"We should grab a bite to eat or something later tonight, Longo. Catch up. I actually want to know how you're doing, unlike a lot of other old friends who contact us."
Chewbacca rumbled an agreement.
"Yeah, definitely. You know where I live, guys. Just let me know later."
"Will do." Han smiled.
Chewie ruffled Trig's hair once more and started off down the alley with Han by his side. Jacen and Anakin followed, Anakin stopping to climb up on some waste bins. Trig watched as Jacen gently pulled his little brother down and grabbed his hand, leading him down the alleyway behind their father.
He saw a little bit of what he had been in Anakin - curious, opinionated. But what hurt him the most was that he saw Kale in Jacen. He saw that caring and devoted big brother.
Trig turned away, violently wiping tears from his eyes. He hadn't cried for his brother in years. Seeing Han's sons though, that did it. Trig just knew that there would be something... something in the future that would test those boys, just like it had with him and Kale. Something that would happen to one that the other wouldn't be able to stop. It was hard for siblings not to have moments like that in hard times.
Drifting back into the chair he had been lovingly pulled from, Trig Longo rested his arms on the table beside him and buried his face there. It had been twenty-three years since the outbreak on the Purge. Twenty-three years since he was forced to kill what was left of his brother. But now he was crying like it just yesterday.
Down the alleyway, even over Anakin and Jacen's excited chatter, Han Solo heard a muffled sob from the way they had come. He shut his eyes against it and felt Chewie squeeze his shoulder. He had been placing Jacen and Anakin in the positions Kale and Trig had been in and the sob he had heard had driven it all home. He felt for the boy. More now than he did then, twenty-three years ago.