Bespin: After Lando left the cell...

Leia awoke slowly. She had only dozed—as impossible as even that seemed. She kept her eyes shut, delaying the reentry to reality.

They had moved to the floor. It was no colder nor harder than the slab of metal which passed for a sleeping bunk in the cell, but on the floor they could be next to each other. Han rested sitting up, his shoulders pressed to the wall.

Her left cheek lay against his chest. She was on her side, pressing as close to him as possible. She was tucked up underneath his arm, her shoulder snugged securely into his embrace. Her right hand rested on his chest, in the area of his heart. She felt it beating, steady, sure... she felt it under her cheek, she heard his pulse, his breath...

Her entire left side was plastered close along the length of his side. The softness of her left breast pressing against the hardness that was his chest. Her soft belly pressing against the end of his ribs, his own muscular abdomen. Her right leg crossed over him, angling at the point of his hip, bent knee resting against him intimately, calf angling back against the top of his thigh.

His hands...

His left hand rested, covered her tiny one on top of his heart. Fingers meshed together with hers. His right arm wrapped around her, holding her securely to his side. His right hand rested against her right ribs, almost entirely spanning them. His thumb lay perfectly along the bottom curve of her breast.

His hands...

Leia let her mind drift away from the horror that was the present. She had noticed his hands almost from that very first moment. Certainly in the trash compactor when he ignored any sort of protocol, and lifted her to the top of the trash heap while they fought to stop the walls from crushing them. Not moments later, when he gripped her in elation, swung her around, before the brief second when she froze and he realized what he was doing...

His hands when he worked on the Falcon, impossibly adept at tiny movements for hands so large.

His hands when he had saved her life in the South Passage... Probing, soothing. When he had carefully lifted a frozen Luke from the speeder and laid him on the gurney for the medical personnel... When he had grasped her—practically carried her—out of the command center; That grip was compelling, but never had he hurt her.

His hands when he had first kissed her on the Falcon. First, rubbing her sore hand, then sliding up to her shoulders, then the way his hand wrapped around the side of her neck, that thumb finding the sensitive spot just under her ear, then brushing forward to (oh, so gently) hold her still while his lips found hers.

His hands, during all those small moments enroute to Bespin, in hindsight, she realized how deliberate had been the small touches, coaxing her to accept his contact without fear.

His hand, resting proprietarily on top of hers, escorting her, claiming her in front of Lando.

His hand, empty of the blaster so easily pulled from his tenacious grasp, reaching for hers as they faced her worst nightmare come to life. She immediately knew—that gesture of comfort gave him (them) away. Vader would know he had a weapon against her. But she clasped his hand as her lifeline anyway.

She felt a tear escape her closed eyes. Now, she thought how foolish her fears were when it came to Han. She had wasted so much time. Those hands could never hurt her. To her disgust, she found herself wanting his right hand to move, wanting that thumb to feather into more intimate territory. How could she be thinking of that NOW?

It was enough that he was still alive, warm and breathing next to her. That in itself was a small miracle. She opened her eyes, though she kept her breathing light and even, not wanting to wake him. She could not waste another minute they had.

She needed to see him. That face that somehow had become so dear to her. Not classically handsome, by any means. A little to worn, too weathered to be considered a heart-breaker. But oh, how that face had grown on her. His eyes, changeable with his moods, with the environment, from brown to gold to green and all the variations inbetween... The mouth with the smile that could fake out politicians and generals; yet the crooked half-grin that was far more honest that would trip her heartbeat up.

Another tear loosed, rolling silently down her cheek. His features were drawn in exhaustion and pain. She wanted to rub at the lines on his forehead and next to his eyes, to soothe him.

She would never forget his screams.

His torture was so much worse than her own had been on the Death Star. They never even asked me any questions... Her torture this time was to hear him and be helpless. To be haunted by her failure and her responsibility for his pain...

She must have made a small sound, or movement, he woke. He didn't move, except for the fingers of the hand covering hers, meshing with hers, tightening again, connecting them. Minutes passed. His right thumb made small, soothing movements against her ribcage, just, just below her breast...

"I'm sorry." She whispered. "I didn't mean to wake you."

He moved then, just turning his head so his lips found her temple. "Don't be sorry. Not for me."

More tears rolled silently down her cheek, she was ashamed at the sign of weakness. But too late had she come to this knowledge, too late had she discovered...

He had melted away the ice that surrounded her, slowly, ever so slowly working at it. He had known that too much pressure and the ice would shatter. Instead, he used heated looks, brief but scorching touches. He knew—he must have known what really happened on the Death Star, or else why would he have employed tactics so patient and subtle? And his tactics had worked, because she hadn't expected him to be patient and subtle.

A hand at the small of her back when escorting her, or letting her go ahead of him in tight quarters. A touch on the arm or shoulder, just as casual and affectionate as touching Chewie... laughing when there were moments to savor laughter; smiling at her, at HER. The too few, too brief stolen kisses... after the first kiss, he would just touch his lips to hers, or to her forehead, then retreat before she had a chance to freeze up or be frightened.

With a low grunt, he readjusted position, bringing her with him, so he could pass his lips over her tears. His right hand now rested lower, thumb spanning her waist, fingers skimming across to her belly. The curl of heat in her womb and sudden urge to move into those fingers astonished her. She never thought she would respond THAT way.

Never thought she could.

And here she was wanting to slide across him until she was on top of him, her hands aching to learn more of him, her lips yearning to taste him...

Helluva time to find out.

He had been tortured just a few hours ago. His chest and belly showed burns and bruises. His wrists above those beautiful hands were raw, bruised and bloodied. They had no idea if they still had time together—it might be moments, or hours, the only sure knowledge they had was their time together was finite.

And the Ice Princess had finally melted. Somehow, she felt that this was Vader's greatest revenge. Worse than raping her mind and body and soul; she had found she could overcome that and love again; Only to have it torn from her. She was safer when she didn't care. If you didn't care, it didn't matter when they left.

She had endured so much, she was so tired of being strong, she wasn't sure she had it in her to survive this time. She had fought and clawed and crawled her way through the loss of everything—her family, her friends, her very planet... her innocence, figuratively and literally. She just was not sure she had anything left.

Ashamed of the selfish train of her thoughts, ashamed of the reaction of her tortured body and mind, she turned her face into his chest. Inhaled his essence, trying to memorize him.

She felt him tense just seconds before the door slid open. Insolently, he deliberately relaxed, gently keeping her in his embrace for a few last seconds.

"I guess it's show time."