AN: Thanks to the reviewers! Sorry it took me so long to get this up. I've been having writer's block and some rather difficult real life problems.
"Short Term Memory"
Leia drifted in and out of sleep, always either feeling Han on top of her or seeing him in some dream. She couldn't remember the details of any dreams she had, but she always awoke with the sense that Han hadn't recognized her. The fourth time she awoke she thought she remembered Han staring wide-eyed and confused at her, but she couldn't be certain. When she opened her eyes, there was the top of Han's head again in all its mussed-up glory. She gulped, several parts of her tingling from his weight, but unwilling to move him. Listening to his slow breath, she decided to remain awake this time lest she return to the dreams.
Suddenly he began twitching. His arms tightened up as if bracing himself for something. "Mmm . . ." he muttered, "mmm . . . mmm . . ." He sounded almost like he was actually trying to speak.
"Han?" Leia said worriedly.
Han's feet kicked, pulling the blankets off of them as he continued to moan.
"Han?" Leia repeated in a louder voice. "Han, wake up!"
Han's eyes popped open, his breath coming out in gasps. He blinked up at Leia as if trying to figure out where he was.
"Han, are you all right?" Leia said, squeezing his hand.
Han blinked rapidly as his breath gradually slowed down. "What happened?"
Leia stroked his head. "I think you were having a nightmare."
"No," Han said in a firmer, angrier voice. "What happened?"
Leia gulped, wrapping her arms around Han as if trying to distract him, pressing her head on his, feeling his scraggly hair against her cheek.
"What happened?" he repeated. "Tell me."
"Han . . . maybe Lando should be the one to tell you."
"Then let's go to Lando," Han said quickly. With that, he leapt off the bed, abruptly chilling Leia's body, and stormed out of the room. With a sigh, Leia got up and followed him.
. . .
"Lando!" Han shouted as he stormed into the lounge.
"Whoa, hey Han," Lando said, getting up from the holochess game he was playing with Chewie. "Nice jammies."
"Cut the chatter, Lando," Han growled. "What the hell happened?"
Chewie roared something that sounded concerned for Han's well-being while Lando's eyes widened. "Uh . . . look Han . . . you might wanna sit down for this."
Han immediately shoved past the gambler and sat at the game table. "All right, I'm sittin'."
"Eh . . . okay," said Lando, looking like he wished he could jump out of the ship. He took a deep breath. "Uh . . . look Han, I don't really know where to begin with all this, so, what's the last thing you remember?"
Han raised an eyebrow, as if Lando were invading personal territory by asking the last thing he remembered. He took a few seconds to answer. "Uh . . . landing on Bespin, I guess. You . . . hugged me, I think."
Lando shifted his mouth. "Uh, okay . . . Han, we're buddies right?"
Han raised his eyebrow. "Sure, but why do I get the feelin' that whatever you're gonna tell me is gonna change that?"
"Han," Leia quickly intervened, walking up to the game table and putting her hand on Han's shoulder, "just hear him out, okay?"
Lando was swaying from side to side, eying the door as if calculating how fast he could make an escape. "Well Han, what would you say if, say . . . I might have had a little something to do with you getting frozen?"
Leia squeezed Han's shoulder, perhaps trying to keep him in place in case he tried to attack Lando, but Han wasn't giving any reaction.
"I mean," Lando continued, apparently not noticing Han's lack of reaction, "I'm not necessarily sayin' I did have anything to do with you being frozen . . ."
"He did," Leia interrupted.
"Hey," said Lando, "I didn't know what they were gonna do to him, so technically I wasn't part of it."
"What the hell is that s'posed to mean?" Han exclaimed.
"It means I might have had a little somethin' to do with the events that led to the freezing, okay?" Lando said quickly, forcing himself to talk.
"Meaning?" said Han.
"Well, uh, let's say that maybe the Imps were threatenin' to take control of my city. Now of course you'd want me to do what I could to keep that from happening, right?" He gave a nervous laugh. "Of course you would."
"That'd depend on what you had to do to keep your city," Han growled.
The gambler was wringing his hands together. "Well . . . let's just say that Vader offered you protection in exchange for luring a few prisoners to him? And . . . well, let's just say that you didn't know who the prisoners were? You can understand that, right?"
"I'm not likin' where this is going."
Leia sighed. "Lando just tell him. Or if you don't, I will."
"Fine, fine," said Lando, taking a deep breath and gulping as if trying to swallow the air he had just inhaled before continuing. "Han . . . I kinda turned you, Leia, and Chewie over to Darth Vader."
He flinched, stepping backwards, as if he expected Han to attack him. Leia might have halfway expected that too, but strangely enough Han didn't move. He just stared ahead, almost as if he hadn't heard Lando, but his hands clenching into fists were enough to indicate that yes, he had heard. Perhaps he was too busy restraining himself from hitting Lando to answer him.
"So . . . yeah," said Lando, eyeing the door with even more interest. "I lured you guys here and stabbed you in the back, but I swear I didn't know they were gonna freeze you or torture you . . ."
"Torture?" Han interrupted.
"Uh, did I say torture?" Lando said, his eyes shifting.
Han stared at the gambler for a moment, then all of a sudden, he shot to his feet and stormed out of the lounge, leaving Leia, Chewie, and Lando to stare after him.
"I'll go talk to him," said Leia, following Han out of the lounge before anyone else could say anything.
. . .
When Leia reached Han's cabin, she found the door locked. She knocked, but he didn't answer. It occurred to her that she didn't know for certain that he had gone to his cabin, but something was telling her that he was behind that door, almost as if she could feel his presence.
"Han?" she called.
Again no answer. Maybe he was sleeping, but somehow Leia felt otherwise. "Han," she continued, knocking again, "I don't think that's the best place to take another nap. Isn't your bed covered with . . . stuff?"
"I'm not sleepin'," Han finally answered.
"Well then what are you doing?"
"Waiting for Lando Two-Face to get off my ship."
Leia sighed. "Well we're in hyperspace, so that will take a while."
"Then I'm not comin' out till then. Speakin' of which, is there a reason he's on my ship?"
"Yes actually, there is," said Leia. "If you let me in I'll tell you."
She heard him sigh, but after a few moments the door did slide open. He looked disheveled when he appeared in the doorway.
"Can we go sit down somewhere?" Leia asked.
Han groaned. "Fine."
They went back to the spare bunk, sitting hip-to-hip. Leia recounted their escape from Bespin as best she could, always looking Han in the eye, trying to figure out what he was thinking, though he gave her no hints. When she was finished, it was several moments before he spoke.
"So . . . he helped you escape," he said in a disbelieving voice, his arms folded.
Han leaned forward, resting his head on his hand. "He helped you escape," he repeated, as if that was the only thing that might sway him into forgiving Lando. "Well . . . guess that means I don't have to kill him."
With that, Leia grabbed his face and kissed his cheek. Han seemed to enjoy the kiss, but then he pushed himself back, letting her know he had something else to say.
"I might change my mind after I remember stuff, though."
. . .
It had been three days since their arrival at Sullust, but still Han hadn't recovered his memory. Of course, with all the preparations for the attack on the new Death Star Leia hadn't had much time to worry about Han's memory loss, but during the rare times when she had a moment to herself, she found herself thinking about the gap in his memories. Oddly enough, it wasn't Lando's betrayal that concerned her, especially since Han and Lando seemed to be getting along since reaching Sullust.
No, what always came to her mind was their last words in the carbon freezer.
She knew it was silly, but every time she thought that Han might never remember that moment, something in her chest tightened. During the day she could ignore it, but at night, when there was little to distract her, his last words played in her head over and over and over. Such was the case tonight. Even though she should be kept awake by thoughts of tomorrow's attack, instead she was kept awake by memories of the carbon freezer.
She and Han were sharing a room, but they had separate bunks. The first night on Sullust, she and Han discussed intimacy for the first time. Though she had been so tempted to just do it right then, she found herself convincing Han that it was best to wait until after the battle, even though she knew that there might not be an "after the battle" for one or both of them.
Across the room from her, Han was mumbling in his sleep, incoherent, yet always sounding like he was trying to say something. Should she wake him? Part of her wanted to, perhaps simply out of curiosity over what he was dreaming about, but she didn't move. She sank her head into the pillow, trying to let herself sink down inside her head, ferociously attempting to block out any thought of Han's memories or lack thereof, but then his sleep mumbling started to break down into two syllables, slowly evolving into two very distinct words.
"I know . . ."
With that, Leia leapt out of bed, turned on the lights, and rushed over to Han's side. She grabbed his shoulder and began shaking him, not caring how he would react when he woke, only hoping she could chase his dream down before it vanished from his mind. Perhaps this would be his only chance to remember again.
"Han, wake up!" she said desperately.
It took Han several moments to wake up, but finally his eyes opened. "Huh?" he said drowsily.
Once Han's eyes looked at her, bleary and unfocused as they were, Leia suddenly felt silly. This was stupid, wasn't it? Nevertheless, he was awake, so he deserved an explanation. "Han," she said carefully, "you were talking in your sleep."
Han's lips twisted. "Yeah?" he said awkwardly.
"Yes, you were," said Leia.
"Well . . . what'd I say?"
Leia gulped, wishing there was a way to do this without it being awkward. "Han . . . do you remember what you were dreaming about?"
First Han stared up at her like he couldn't believe what she was talking about. Then he scrunched his mouth as if trying to remember. Then his eyes suddenly widened and he gave a slight gasp. "We were . . . in this room . . . it was hot and there was steam shooting up everywhere . . . and Vader was gonna do something to me . . ." His eyes grew even wider as he stared up at Leia. "That really happened, didn't it?"
Leia could only nod.
"And . . ." Han continued, ". . . you said . . . I said . . ."
He trailed off, unable to continue. His eyes shifted away from Leia as if he were embarrassed to look at her. "I said . . ." he repeated.
Leia's immediate reflex was to say, "I know," but then she thought that would be a tad inappropriate, so she said, "Yes" instead, putting her hand on his shoulder.
Han bit his lip, breathing steadily as if concentrating on recovering the memories. "So I really said that . . ." Suddenly he grinned, looking back up at Leia. "And you said . . ."
"Han, don't," Leia quickly interrupted.
But Han wasn't about to let her off that easily. "Well?" he said in his cocky voice. "Did ya mean it?"
"What about you?" Leia exclaimed.
"Whaddaya mean me?"
"The best thing you could say was 'I know'?" There, she had said it. The thing she had subconsciously been longing to ask for six long months, ever since the moment he said those words.
For once Han appeared to be struck silent. He looked down, seeming to study his fingers, curling them and spreading them out as if they held the answers to all the questions in the universe.
"Well?" said Leia.
Finally Han looked back up at her. "Tell me if you meant what you said first."
Leia groaned. "Even after six months in carbonite you're still impossible."
"Well what do you want me to do then?" Han said. "Serenade you? Buy you flowers and chocolates? Get down on my knees and swear my undying love?"
"Han . . ."
"Fine," said Han, folding his arms, "I'll do all that if you tell me whether or not you meant it. I'll do it even if you didn't mean it, kay?"
Leia gulped, looking for sarcasm in Han's eyes but finding only sincerity. In fact . . . they looked incredibly similar to how they had looked that moment in the carbon freezer. Suddenly she felt that he would do all those things if she asked him to, but then she realized that she didn't want him to gush about her like a lovesick fool. She wanted him to be . . . well, Han. Han who didn't need to gush. Han who could express love with just a look, who didn't even need words.
She sat on the edge of his bed and leaned over, gathering him in her arms. "I did mean it," she whispered.
For a moment Han looked like he thought he might not have heard her right, then suddenly a grin burst onto his face. "Well," he said, "which do ya want first – the serenade, the flowers and chocolates, or the pledge of undying love?"
"I'll settle for just a kiss," said Leia.
That was something Han was happy to oblige.
. . .
Lando paced around the hangar, gulping every few seconds. Leia had told him that Han got his memory back, but he hadn't actually seen Han since then. Surely Han wouldn't try to kill him after all he had done since the betrayal, right?
Well there the old pirate was, his trench coat slung over his shoulder. It passed through Lando's mind to run away as fast as he possibly could, but something – perhaps the possibility that neither of them might make it through this attack alive – held him in place.
"Hey Lando," Han said, approaching the gambler.
"Uh, hey Han," Lando said. Well, Han hadn't attacked him yet – that was a good sign. "Leia told me you got your memory back.
"Yeah," said Han. "And I got a way for you to repay what you did."
Lando gulped, but he figured that he deserved whatever Han was about to say. "Uh, okay, what is it?"
Han's face relaxed into a grin. "Take care of my ship durin' the battle, will ya?"