AN: As I'm always saying, I don't own Star Wars. Well believe it or not, this fic came from a family joke. Every time we watch ROTJ, we wonder why Han never mentions Lando's betrayal. Someone, I don't remember who, got the idea that maybe the freezing did a tiny bit of brain damage to his memory, making him forget all about the betrayal, which has led to a lot of jokes ever since. And since sometimes stupid ideas become stories, lo and behold, that idea became a fanfic. It was originally a one-shot, but it got long, so I decided to divide it into two parts. Warning: there is a gross scene involving vomiting.
"I'll meet you all back at the fleet," Luke's voice said over the comm, slightly scratchy from interference.
"Hurry," Leia said, only halfway concentrating on flying the Falcon, most of her focus on the one in the seat behind her, wrapped up in a blanket. "The troops will be assembling shortly."
"Hey Luke, thanks," the deep voice said from behind her, the voice she had gone six months without hearing. "Thanks for comin' after me. I owe you one."
Leia found herself smiling. Probably hearing that voice say anything would make her smile right now, even one of his familiar insults. He was here, safe at last. Her smile grew wider when Chewie growled something that she took to mean that the hyperdrive coordinates were set. With a pull of the lever, the stars turned into those familiar white streaks and the ship jumped into light speed.
Finally she could turn her full attention to Han.
There he was, the dark green blanket draped around his shoulders, blinking drowsily, smiling dreamily up at her as if he were only half awake. "Hey Leia . . ." he said in a low, sleepy voice.
"Hey," said Leia, smiling back at him even though she didn't know if he could see her. "How are you feeling?"
"Bit better," Han said with a tired sigh. "You're still kinda blurry, though."
Leia self-consciously pulled down the edge of the dusty poncho she had thrown over the bikini. She thought about possibly telling Han what Jabba had done to her as Chewie leapt out of the copilot's seat and ruffled Han's hair, roaring something Leia took to be asking if Han was sure he was all right.
"Yeah Chewie, I'm fine . . . just tired," said Han, after which Chewie ruffled his hair one more time and stepped out of the cockpit, leaving Leia and Han alone. Leia breathed heavily, hesitant to look away from Han lest he turn out to be a dream and disappear. If he could see right he might be uncomfortable at her staring at him like this, watching his eyes blink, blink, blink, his lids growing heavier and heavier.
"Leia?" he mumbled.
"Can I ask you somethin' a little weird?"
Leia reached down and gently stroked his sweaty cheek, which, despite having just been exposed to Tatooine's heat, was still a bit cold. "Of course."
Han yawned, slightly pressing his head against her hand. "Just what exactly happened to me?"
A twist formed in Leia's stomach, spreading its way around her body. "What . . . what do you mean?"
"What happened?" Han repeated, digging his cheek into her hand. "I was . . . frozen or something?"
"Don't you remember?"
Han yawned again. "I remember going to Bespin . . . then . . . I'm not sure . . ."
He doesn't remember? Leia couldn't move, couldn't even shift her hand as Han rested his head on it and fell asleep. He doesn't remember? She barely noticed the weight of Han's head or the tingles it was inflicting.
"Han?" she whispered as if making sure he was asleep.
When Han didn't answer, she gently pulled her hand out and left the cockpit, still only able to think one thing.
He doesn't remember?
. . . . .
Leia found Lando, Chewie, and 3PO in the lounge. Lando and Chewie had just gotten into a round of holochess, but once Lando noticed her, he jumped up from his seat and ran up to her. "How's Han doing?" he asked rapidly.
"He fell asleep in the cockpit," Leia said, looking down at her fingers. "I don't think you should disturb him."
Lando's mouth twisted. "Probably just as well – I don't imagine he's in a big hurry to talk to me."
Chewie roared something she couldn't understand, but she guessed it meant that he was agreeing to leave Han alone for now.
Lando was examining her face, making her rather uncomfortable. "Leia?" he said. "Something wrong?"
Leia took a deep breath, briefly contemplating where to begin. "Lando," she said, trying to keep a steady voice, "remember how I talked to some doctors about the effects of carbon freezing?"
Leia gulped. "Well, one of the things they said was that he might experience some . . . short-term memory loss."
Chewie roared in surprise and Lando's eyes widened. "Short-term memory loss?" he exclaimed. "You mean . . .?"
"Yes," said Leia. "I don't think he remembers anything that happened on Bespin."
For the briefest of seconds a grin flashed onto Lando's face, but then he quickly seemed to remember that Leia wouldn't be pleased with that. "So," he said, awkwardly clearing his throat, "he doesn't remember what I did?"
Leia groaned. "Look, I know what you're thinking, and it's a bad idea."
"What?" Lando said, feigning innocence.
"Han has a right to know what happened even if he never remembers it," Leia said sharply.
"Oh my goodness," said 3PO, hobbling up to Leia. "If his memory has been erased, then poor Captain Solo may never recover, it is quite a nasty process. Not that I have ever been mind-wiped myself, of course, but I hear it's quite nasty."
"It's not like a droid's memory wipe," Leia said before turning to Chewie. "Come on Chewie, Han will probably be hungry when he wakes up. 3PO, come on, you can help us."
The princess, the Wookiee, and the droid all left for the kitchen, leaving Lando alone, staring after them.
. . . . .
Leia made sure to change into her regular clothes before returning to the cockpit. She had thrown the bikini into a drawer in her cabin, intent on deciding what to do with it later. When she entered the cockpit, she found Han still asleep in the back seat, snoring softly. For a few minutes she simply stood there listening to his snores, wondering why the sound had ever annoyed her.
She leaned over and kissed his slightly-cold forehead, which caused him to stir. His eyelids stretched and relaxed a couple of times before the movements expanded into actual blinks. With a long yawn, he woke up completely and smiled at her.
"Hey sweetheart," he murmured. "You look nice."
Leia smiled back at him. "How are you feeling?"
Han gave another yawn. "Better," he said, stretching his arm behind his neck. "Little stiff, though."
"Well no wonder when you've been sleeping in that seat." She reached down and ruffled his hair. "If you want my advice, I think you'd be more comfortable in your bunk."
Han offered his hand, inviting Leia to lead him to his cabin. She took his hand and helped him to his feet, still smiling, though as she helped him walk to his cabin, some part of her mind was still worried about his memory. If he forgot the betrayal, could he forget other things? Would his memory cease to function all together?
Would he forget about her?
Han practically collapsed onto his bunk when they reached it, rolling to his stomach and inhaling the familiar scent of his pillow. Leia thought he might be ready to fall asleep again, but then he rolled back up to face her. "I'm hungry," he said.
Leia felt herself smiling yet again. "Well, Chewie and I fixed you something special while you were sleeping – do you think you're ready for it?"
"I got the feeling I haven't eaten for ages, so yeah."
"All right," said Leia. "You wait here and I'll go get it."
When Leia returned, she was carrying in a plate on which she balanced a slice of cake that had a little lit candle sticking out of the top. Han's embarrassed grin made her laugh briefly before she remembered to say, "Happy Birthday, hotshot."
"What, is it my birthday now?" Han asked, unable to wipe off the embarrassed grin.
"No," said Leia, sitting on the edge of his bunk, "but you missed your birthday while you were frozen, so you're having it now." She held the plate up to Han's face so the candle was close enough for him to blow out. "All right, now make a wish."
Han scrunched his face as a nervous laugh escaped his mouth. "Okay, okay, I wish I could remember what happened." He blew out the candle, making Leia laugh, though his "wish" lingered in her head, bringing back her nervousness.
"Think you can eat by yourself, or will I have to feed you?" she asked.
Han's grin went from embarrassed to cheeky in a mere second. "Well do you want to feed me?"
Leia sighed, playfully rolling her eyes. "I think you can eat by yourself," she said, putting the plate in his lap and handing him a fork.
Nothing much was said while he ate. Leia watched him put forkful after forkful of cake into his mouth, chew, swallow, repeat. Occasionally he would look at her and smile, silently telling her that he was enjoying himself.
Would he remember this moment later?
When he was finished, he leaned back, closing his eyes, a satisfied smile on his face. "So, any presents?" he said.
"Han," Leia said with a laugh.
"Well . . . maybe I can get you something."
For a few minutes Han simply relaxed, but then his face suddenly twisted in a sickly manner. "Leia . . . " was all he managed to gasp out before a heavy cough forced him to lean forward. Another cough spewed a torrent of vomit out of his mouth, all over himself and the blankets.
"Han?" Leia exclaimed.
Han vomited again. Leia grabbed his shoulders just as he vomited a third time, some of the fluid getting on her shirt.
"Han!" Leia repeated. "Han, breathe! Breathe!"
Han gasped several times, his face pale. It seemed to be at least a full minute before he could finally speak, and even then his voice came out in a rasp. "Leia . . ." He coughed again, but this time nothing came out of his mouth. "Leia . . ."
"Shh," said Leia, wiping his mouth with the back of her hand, struggling not to think of the thick, disgusting liquid that now crept down her skin. "It's all right."
"Leia . . . I'm . . . sorry . . ." He leaned over and coughed again, but fortunately he seemed to have already emptied his stomach.
"It's all right," Leia repeated, giving him her most sincere smile. "You just need a shower, that's all."
"Shower . . ." A small crocked grin appeared on his face. "You wanna join me? You look like you could use one too."
"Han!" Leia gently swatted his face. "You shower, I'll clean up."
Han began to stand up, but his feet toppled and he would have landed on Leia had she not grabbed his shoulders once again. "Don't think I can make it . . ." he muttered. "Guess you'll have to come with me after all . . ."
Leia rolled her eyes. "Fine, I'll give you a sponge bath."
Han's grin was much bigger this time, as if the prospect of her giving him a sponge bath had made him completely forget that he was drenched in his own vomit. "Sponge bath . . . that sounds nice . . ."
. . .
Five minutes later, Han was sitting on the edge of one of the spare bunks, stripped down to his underwear, and Leia was wiping him over with a wet sponge. Neither had spoken since they moved to the other bunk. Leia had quickly changed into a fresh shirt, but she thought she could still feel some of Han's vomit drying on her chest. Don't think about that, she quickly told herself. Concentrate on Han.
Concentrate on Han. The bumps as she ran her hands past his spine. The slickness of his wet skin. The way his back ever so slightly pressed against her hands when he inhaled. Simply the fact that he was breathing at all. The fact that he was here instead of trapped in that awful carbonite prison.
Here, but there was a hole in his memories. If she wanted to discuss the events on Bespin, he would have no idea what she was talking about. He didn't remember the capture, the torture . . . or her last words to him in the carbon freeze chamber.
Her hand wanted to abruptly stop scrubbing him, but she forced it to keep going. Shouldn't she be relieved if he never remembered her accidental reveal? No, wait, it wasn't accidental, of course it wasn't . . . so why was a tiny part of her still embarrassed about it? Because of the way he responded, a simple "I know" instead of returning the confession?
She ran the sponge over his bare shoulders, massaging them slightly, trying not to let herself stare at his skin, trying not to pay attention to the little hairs, the rosy tone from the hot water, the smell of vomit slowly overtaken by the soapy water.
"I know . . ."
But it wasn't simple, was it? After all, he was the one who had kissed her moments before what might be death, a long, desperate kiss. And the look in his eyes as he said it . . . that incredibly sad look, surely that meant his words meant more, didn't it?
For a brief second the toyed with the idea of asking him for confirmation, but then she remembered that he currently didn't know what he said or why he said it.
"Han," she said, quickly attempting to get some conversation going, "I'm sorry."
"Hmm?" said Han. "For what?"
Leia rubbed the sponge over his chest, trying not to look too hard at his nipples. "I shouldn't have given you that cake. Your digestive system wasn't ready for food yet."
Han shrugged. "Heh, it tasted good, at least. I'm the one who should be sayin' I'm sorry."
His eyebrow went up. "I threw up on you, didn't I?"
"Oh, that," said Leia, running the sponge over his stomach. "Well, that wasn't your fault."
They drifted again into silence for several more minutes, the only sounds being Leia dipping the sponge back into the bucket of soapy water and wringing it out. She probably kept the bath going longer than was needed, but she didn't really want to let go of this moment. Even when she began drying him, she lingered with every stroke, pressing into his skin with the towel.
"Well," she said after she finally finished drying him, "I got out some fresh pajamas and underwear for you."
One of those cheeky grins Leia knew so well formed on Han's face. "You've been in my clothes? My underwear?"
With a slight growl, Leia tossed the pajamas into his lap. "Here, I think you can dress yourself."
But his grin wasn't fading. "You sure? I might need your help changin' my underwear."
Leia rolled her eyes. "No, I think you're perfectly able to do that by yourself."
"Fine, fine," said Han, getting up from the bunk, the pajamas dangling over his arms. "Sides, my bladder's about to explode and I got the feeling I haven't used the refresher in a while."
. . .
It seemed like a long time before Han emerged from the refresher, but perhaps it only seemed that way because she felt on edge the instant he was out of her sight and wouldn't look away from the refresher door until he was out. When he did finally come out, he half-stumbled into her arms as if he were about to faint.
"Han?" Leia reacted.
Han gave her a dreamy look. "I'm fine . . . legs're just a little weak . . ."
Leia quickly threw his arm over her shoulder and started leading him back to the bunk. "I think you've been overworking your muscles. They're not used to movement right now."
"Yeah, well, I didn't exactly have a choice when the Sarlacc was gonna eat us, did I?"
"Well you have a choice now," Leia said as she sat Han down on the bunk, after which he collapsed on the pillow.
"Need . . . sleep . . ." he muttered.
Leia pulled the covers over him and wrapped them around his shoulders, tucking him in with the tenderness of a mother. "Here, get yourself all the rest you need."
Suddenly Han grabbed her arm, pulling it towards him and pressing her hand on his cheek, letting her feel his rough face. "Maybe I could nap in your arms?"
Her stomach jumped. Not long ago, that would have sounded like another one of his pathetic attempts to get intimate with her – in fact, some part of her psyche still heard it that way – but now he was squeezing her arm with a certain desperation that was usually unlike him. Though he was giving sleepy blinks, his eyes still stared directly into hers, communicating the true meaning behind his words.
He was afraid of her leaving.
She gave a small sigh. "All right, move over." She stepped out of her shoes, sat down on the bed, and eased herself under the covers next to him. Once she was in a lying position, Han immediately rested his head on her chest, apparently thinking she was more comfortable than any pillow.
"Thanks . . . " he mumbled as she wrapped her arms around him in a protective embrace.
She waited for him to say something more, but all that came was content snoring, his mouth blowing warm air onto her arm. Her hand ran through his hair as she gazed at the top of his head, noticing even the tiny knots in his hair and the flecks of dandruff on his scalp. Had she ever properly looked at the top of his head before?
She gulped, feeling the weight of Han's head on her breast, her thighs tightening slightly when they were pressed against his thighs. Force, what was wrong with her? It was Han who wanted to do that with her, not the other way around. They had never actually talked about really doing it . . . but here she was. Even though they were both clothed, even though he was certainly in no condition for that now, she couldn't deny what she was thinking about. That's it, she thought, no more sponge baths.
A knock on the door brought a very welcome distraction. "Come in," she called.
The door slid open and in stepped Lando, who grinned the instant he saw Han asleep on top of Leia. "Am I interrupting anything?"
"No," Leia said firmly.
But Lando's grin only grew wider. "You sure? It sure as hell looks like it."
"Nothing happened," Leia said with a groan. "He just didn't want to sleep alone."
"I can see that." Lando smirked, but then after she glared up at him, his face grew serious. "So, uh, how is he?"
"Exhausted, but I think he'll be fine," said Leia.
Lando bit his lip before speaking again. "Does he remember anything?"
"Do you think this is permanent?" Lando shifted his weight as he looked down at them.
Leia sighed, blowing some of Han's stray hairs. "I don't know."
"Do you think it'll get worse? Like, will he start forgetting other stuff?"
"I don't know," Leia repeated.
"Think he'll end up with full-blown amnesia?"
"I – don't – know!" Leia said in a near shout, causing Han to stir only slightly without waking up. "Need I remind you that if he does end up with complete amnesia it will be your fault? Maybe you shouldn't be bringing it up."
Lando's face was serious again. "All right, I won't."
"Thank you," said Leia. "Now could you please leave us alone for a while?" The cheeky grin was back on Lando's face for only a minute before she quickly added, "So Han can sleep without you disturbing him."
"Fine, fine," said Lando, leaving the room without another word, but once he was gone, his words drove themselves into Leia's head, causing her stomach to twist and her arms to embrace Han tighter.
"You won't lose your memory, will you?" she whispered.