There were a lot of things he couldn't remember, but right now he couldn't remember the last time she looked in his eyes. The first time he saw her, actually saw her, had been on the skiff leaving Jabba's palace. He saw her all of a sudden take shape from the muddy blur of everything else, and though she smiled faintly at his exclamation that his vision had returned, she still looked out at the Dune Sea, away from him.
He looked too long at her exposed body, and was ashamed. Upon realizing that her humiliating state of dress was a result of her failed attempt to save him, he turned his face away. He busied himself, helping Chewbacca steer the skiff, quizzing Lando on the secret location of the Falcon, or watching the dunes speed by. Anything to avoid her downcast eyes and the shame behind them.
She spoke, occasionally, about nothing in particular. He could hear the strain in her voice as she attempted to convince the others that she was fine. He was the only one who seemed concerned.
They reached the Millennium Falcon, his prize, and she helped him aboard. She said nothing about his absence and made no effort to cover herself. Her focus was on him; she felt his forehead, discussed his hibernation sickness with him, and sent him away with a hollow welcome back. All the while she avoided his eyes, even when he searched for hers.
He went off to carefully rinse his eyes of the last of the carbonite. When his vision returned to its normal clarity, he started toward his bed. Despite being virtually dead for six months, he was exhausted. His boots clanked metallically down the hallway. It felt good to be walking again.
He heard it, softer than anything. As he stopped, he could almost feel her wishing she hadn't said it.
He opened a door to find her standing in front of a mirror, still dressed as Jabba's slave. She was shivering in the cold air of the ship, although he could tell she was trying to hide it. Her eyes were downcast.
"What is it?"
"I…" She hesitated. Her eyes drifted toward the doorway behind him, as if she hoped he would turn to leave. When he didn't, she sighed softly, and started again. "I can't get this off." She gestured at the thick collar around her neck.
He stepped forward and saw the scratches around the bolt from the myriad tools behind her. She kept her eyes on the ground as he inspected it. Gently, he pulled the collar as far from her neck as he could, and used a precise fusion cutter to slowly cut the band away. The collar fell noisily to the floor, with the chain clinking after it. Then it was silent, with the two staring at the gleaming circle of metal on the floor.
He turned to look her in the face, pleading silently for her to meet his eyes. When she didn't, he raised a finger—just one—to her chin, tilting her face toward him. She looked in his eyes, and he looked in hers. He looked and looked and looked, and thought, I'll never stop. Somewhere in the carbonite he'd forgotten how beautiful her eyes were.
He realized her chin was trembling before she did, and he knew her tears were coming before she thought to keep them from falling. He stepped forward so she couldn't run past him and somehow, suddenly, she was leaning against him and sobbing. On any other day she'd have run away and picked herself up on her own, meeting his eyes defiantly the next day, daring him to say something when they both knew he wouldn't. But today she was breaking against his chest, and today she needed him to keep the pieces together. He wrapped his arms around her as she fell to pieces against him, and he held her together the best he could.
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