A/N: this is 100% AU Crack!Fic written for the lovely KittyKnighton for her birthday.
"If you get it to me in five days, I'll throw in another fifteen thousand on top of the forty."
I let out a low whistle, "That's a lot of credits."
Lando smirks. He's proud of himself, old turn-coat. He's sure I'll do it, and he's probably right. But I know of more than one person who would pay good money for the bronze statue Lando wants so badly. Why people pay so many credits for the useless junk, I will never understand, but credits are credits and that is enough for me.
I exchange small talk for a few moments before making my exit. I still haven't forgiven Lando for selling me out three years ago. Carbonite is not a good look for me.
I left Chebacca at the ship. He hasn't forgiven Lando either, and his brand of justice runs more along the lines of forcible amputation. He hasn't quite mastered the idea that it's more fun to bleed someone dry in the financial sense than literally.
When I return to the Millennium Falcon, he's lounged in the cockpit, snoring like a bantha. I push his feet off the console. "Chewie, let's get a move on."
He roars his displeasure, but sits up and gets her going. He's cranky when he first wakes, but he's more desperate than I am to put Lando and his goons behind us. I wait until we've made the jump to hyperspace before telling him about the job. Predictably he's angry, but the price of sixty-five thousand credits shuts him up.
Senta, the former seat of the Royal family of Belasco, and the allegedly location bronze statue they were after was a two day trip at best. Chewie settles in for a forty-eight hour nap, but I have other plans. Lando gave me blueprints of the old palace. It's been abandoned for a couple hundred years, but I'm sure the basic structure hasn't changed. If we're going to get the statue and sell it in less than five days they didn't have time for mistakes.
o o o
"I hate this planet already." I mutter, glaring after the officious son of a bitch who just spent ten minutes lecturing us on water conservation. I know full well they have five years until the next outbreak, I'd just forgotten how water obsessed the officials on Belasco are since my last visit nine years earlier.
Chewie grunts his agreement, trailing me across the spaceport to the speeder we just rented. The palace isn't far, but since access is restricted we circle around the back and park the speeder in front of a cantina where no one will think twice if it's abandoned until morning.
We wait in the cantina, nursing Arkanian sweet milk until the second sun sets. We have about an hour before one of the three moons rises, but its long enough for us to walk to the palace and slip in through the unguarded back door. I'm surprised at the lack of security. I expected at the very least a few slaves armed with blasters at each entrance. But the place is deserted.
It gives me the creeps.
We move slowly down a marble hallway towards where the treasury once stood. The walls have been stripped clear, gaping holes showing where large, expensive tapestries once hung. Our steps echo against the marble floor. It's hard to believe there is anything of value left in this empty place.
We descend a spiraling staircase, in my head I'm double checking the blue prints. I don't want to be in this place one second longer than necessary. We move in near darkness, I have a light, but for now the small bits of natural light filtering down from a skylight at the top of the staircase is enough to see by.
I pull out my blaster, its familiar weight comforting against my palm. I take two more steps and reach the hall at the base of the stairs. Total darkness stretches out before me. Slowly, with one hand still grasping my blaster I lift the light off my belt and switch it on.
The hall is suddenly illuminated and I can barely believe my eyes. Not twenty feet away is a richly woven tapestry, beyond that I can see a glittering bronze arm extending from behind a pillar. The statue.
I scan the room slowly. I can't see any security. No droids or guards dressed in camouflage. Just to be safe I fire a quick blaster round into the room.
Chewie roars, but otherwise there is no response.
"Be careful, it might be booby trapped," I say, taking a step into the room.
He stays where he is.
"Coward," I mutter, taking another few cautious steps. I can see the entire statue now. It really is rather beautiful. I wonder why no one has taken it before now. Lando can't be the only one int he galaxy with the blue prints.
I take another step. There's a sharp click, and my left foot sinks a little lower than the level of the floor. I freeze.
I look down, confirming my worst suspicion. "Pressure plate," I mutter bitterly. A quick scan of the room reveals nothing. No arrow or blaster shot was triggered, that means one thing. Explosives.
"Chewie, get out of here!" I yell back towards where he stands.
"Rruugh!" He roared, his dark eyes telling me in no uncertain terms he wasn't going anywhere.
I feel a surge of anger. I know the plate beneath my feet means I've triggered a bomb, and whether its pressure sensitive or on a timer, I'm toast. Where's Luke when you need him? I thought bitterly before quashing the thought. Luke has gotten me out of more than one scrape, it's not fair to blame this one on him too. He certainly didn't force me to come in here.
"Get out, Chewie!" I try once more, adding an emphatic arm gesture. "That's an order."
He moans sorrowfully, looking so betrayed I irrationally want to tell him to come back. But I come to my senses, there is no point in both our dying. "Protect Leia." I call after his retreating back.
He roars, and then disappears up the stair case.
I give him two minutes. Enough time, I hope, to clear the building. I scan the room. There's a marble pillar five feet to my left. My best shot. Taking a deep breath I dive for it. I hear the ominous click of the plate snapping back into place, there is a white hot light and then nothing but darkness.
The first thing I am aware of is a steady, high pitched beep. I open my eyes. All I can see is a bright light, it hurts my eyes.
It takes a few blinks, but my eyes clear. Leia? No, the hair is wrong... and this is not the millennium falcon. Slowly, my brain shifts into gear. I remember I'm not Han Solo, I'm Dov Epstein, Rookie Screw-up of fifteen division. The beautiful face filling my vision is Gail. My best friend's girlfriend. The love of my life. "Wha-" I croak. Even that single syllable makes my throat burn.
Gail holds a straw to my lips. "Drink."
Obediently I take a sip. My throat eels better and I try again. My voice is rough, strange against my ears, like I'm speaking through a mouthful of gravel. "What happened?"
Her brow contracts into a worried frown. "You don't remember?"
I take another sip of soothing water and wrack my brain for a moment. The last thing I remember is being at the station with Chris. I'm pretty sure that didn't land me in a hospital bed feeling like death warmed over. I shift my eyes around the room, we're alone. Maybe Chris went for coffee. "No. I don't remember."
Gail set the cup aside and perched beside me on the bed. "You and Chris went to investigate a suspected grow-op. It was a meth house..." She squeezes my hand and I feel a tight knot of fear coiling in my stomach. Her voice is hoarse and she isn't looking at me anymore."You know what, this can wait."
I squeeze her hand back. Whatever it is, whatever horrible thing has happened, I need to know. "Tell me."
So she does. With tears in her eyes and a voice that falters but never fails, Gail tells me that Chris and I had been following a tip about a grow-op when we found the meth lab. The place had been booby trapped and Chris stepped on a pressure plate. She says there was nothing I could do, but I stayed anyway. Refusing to move beyond the lab door, even when the bomb squad arrived. The device had blown the minute Chris lifted his foot killing Chris and the bomb squad agent immediately. I was knocked unconscious and remained in a coma for three weeks.
When she finishes the silence is deafening. My mind refuses to accept what she said. It can't be true. Chris, my best friend in the world, is dead? "No," I say at last, shaking my head."No. Chris can't be dead. I remember, it was me, I was the one who stepped on the bomb. I told him to run... He did. I gave him time to get out. I waited." My mind is confusing my dreams with half memories of the tale Gail told, I know I'm not making any sense. I close my eyes and try to focus but my brain is like a sieve, nothing will stay in place for me to grasp it. Tears slip one by one from beneath my lashes, trickling hot and wet down my cheeks.
Gail lays next to me, wrapping her slender arms around me. Silently she holds me. She doesn't say anything, doesn't tell me it's going to be okay, or not to cry. She just holds me until the tears stop. I lay still, with my eyes closed and pretend to sleep. I don't know if I will ever sleep again, but I don't want to talk and I can't bear to look at her right now.
After a while she sits up and I feel the bed shift as she steps onto the floor. She brushes a strand of hair off my forehead. It's a soothing gesture, like mom checking my forehead for a fever when I was a little kid. "I'm glad you're okay." She says softly. Her warm lips press gently against mine and then I hear her footsteps receding.
I give her two minutes. Enough time to make her escape. And then I roll on my side, and sob.