So I actually wrote this back in July I think, based on the dating of the Document. I know I had the idea for this fic almost as long as I've been into SW fanfic though, so the whole thing is kinda old. But I genuinely like this and it needs to get posted.


Running Out on Dates

"Princess? Princess, hello?"

Leia straightened her gaze back to... what was his name?

"Oh, I'm sorry," she shook her head and took a sip of her wine. "I've got a lot of things on my mind. Senate things."

Her date nodded and grinned cheekily at her. She refused to wince, but her instincts told her that she needed out. Now.

"Excuse me," she said, politely and stood. He stood as well, reaching out to her. "I'm going to use the refresher."

"Oh," he nodded. "Hurry back!"

"Oh, I will," she smiled and headed towards the back of the restaurant. As soon as she rounded the corner she slipped out the door marked EXIT and into the back alley. Careful to pull her hood tightly around her face, she set off in a jog running for anywhere but here. People barely gave her a glance as she passed, not one of them recognizing her as their beloved Princess, and for that she was thankful. She slowed down and came to a stop, panting slightly. She glanced around, trying to see where in relation she was to the palace and sighed. She'd run across most of Aldera, and was in the port section. At least one of them.

She ventured further and paused at the door to a cantina, sounds of drunken laughing and jazz music floating into the street. It was hardly 1500, but she assumed people would always drink whenever. Glancing over her shoulder once, she stepped into the dark building, instantly wrinkling her nose at the various smells of creatures from across the Galaxy.

She took a seat at the bar and pretended to follow the Smashball game on the wall, but she couldn't focus. A tingling sensation shot up her spine seconds before a gruff voice grunted in her ear.

"Hey, pretty Lady," he slurred, completely wasted. "Hows about you and me go play the Horizontal Ewok Tango?"

She flinched at the smell of his breath and looked at him. The man was human, though barely. One arm was artificial, and still bare, a sign he wasn't rich enough to afford the syntheskin version, and a long scar cut across his cheek, pulling one of his eyes shut and the tip of his mouth down.

"No, thank you," Leia tugged her arm away from the man, but he simply gripped her wrist to keep it close.

"C'mon! I know you want to," he insisted. "Tell me you want to! I know!"

"Let me go," she grunted, yanking her arm from him with all her might. He squeezed her arm tighter and she cried out in pain.

"Stop fighting, cheeky!" he slurred. The sound of a blaster charging up whined in her ear and Leia saw the barrel press next to the man's face.

"The lady said no," a deep, masculine voice sounded from behind her. The first man let his grip of her arm go and she snatched it to her, rubbing it gently to will away the pain.

"I don't want no trouble," the first man said, raising his arms.

"Then I suggest you leave," the second said, gesturing his blaster towards the exit. The first man nodded and scurried off, never glancing back.

"You alright?" the second man said, sitting down next to her. Leia got a clear look at his face, and forced herself to breath normally. The man was handsome, no, more than that. His brown eyes were slightly hidden under his shaggy brown hair and his full lips were only marred by the slight scar on his lower chin, but it really only added character to his face.

"I think so," she forced out, tearing her eyes away from him and looking down at her wrist. A purple bruise was beginning to form.

Aunt Celly is going to flip when I get home...

"May I?" he asked, gesturing to her arm. She held it out to him, and he grasped her wrist lightly, with more tender care than the previous person. "Looks like you'll just have a nasty bruise for awhile. Too bad, the weather around here is perfect for shorter sleeves."

She smiled weakly. "Small price to pay," she shrugged. "I didn't catch your name."

"That's because I never said it," he teased and she rolled her eyes and gave him a pointed look. "Han Solo."

"Leia," she nodded.

"No last name?" he asked jokingly.

"No," she grinned. "I lost it in the great fire."

"Really?" he asked, deciding to play along.

"Oh yeah," she nodded. "Huge fire, all over the Holo. You must have been in hyper or something to have missed it. Tons of citizens lost their name in it."

"Shame," he said. "Wanted to know if your second name was as pretty as the first."

"Guess you'll never know," she sighed, feigning sadness.

"Wanna have a drink with me?" he asked, leaning casually against the bar.

"Are you buying or am I?"

"If you're offering, you are," he shot back and she rolled her eyes.

"Let's find a table," she suggested, standing and walking towards the back of the bar. Han smirked and followed, quickly sliding into the booth across from her and leaning back.

"So tell me," he started. "What are you doing in a smuggler's bar?"

"Maybe I'm a smuggler," she shrugged.

"Nah, you ain't a smuggler," he shook his head. "You don't have any visible weapons on you, you're wearing a dress, and you don't look the pilot type."

"I'll have you know I'm an excellent pilot," she said firmly.

"But you're not a smuggler," he stated.

"Are you?"

"Yes," he nodded. "One of the best in fact."

"Oh really?" she raised an eyebrow suspiciously.

"Yeah," he nodded. "Ever heard of the Millennium Falcon?"

"Should I have?"

"In my opinion, yes," he grinned crookedly. Leia couldn't help but smile back at him. "She made the Kessel Run in under twelve parsecs."

"Parsec is a measure of distance, not time," she said evenly.

"Well thanks, Your Highness," he said sarcastically, not noticing the slight panic that ran through her body at the mention of the title. "I know that. I'm not a moron, they do have grade schools on Corellia."

"Congrats."

"Thank you."

"You're welcome!"

"Alright," she nodded firmly and he pressed his lips together. Gods this girl infuriated him.

"You know, you're awful full of yourself for a girl who almost got caught in a very bad situation," he said, leaning in. Her eyes flashed angrily.

"Well, you're awful full of yourself for a man who can't hold a reputable job," she countered. "Tell me, Mr. Solo-"

"Captain."

"Captain Solo, did you always dream of smuggling spice, or is this a new thing?"

"Listen up, Your Worship," he sneered. "I don't take too kindly to people who think they're all that much better than me. Now, I won't do what that piece of scum at the bar tried, but I've shot people for a lot less."

"You'd shoot a woman for out smarting you?"

"No, but I might change that," he said, and leaned back in the booth.

The robo-waiter came around the corner and stopped at their table.

"What can I get you?" the droid asked evenly and without emotion.

"Corellian Ale," Han said.

"Alderaanian Ale," Leia said, trying to show Han up just that little bit.

A moment of silence fell between them as they stared daggers at each other before Han spoke again.

"So why are you in a smuggler's bar?"

"I ran away from a boring date," she shrugged. The robo-waiter dropped off their drinks as soon as she finished speaking and Leia hastily picked up her glass and took a sip.

"Are you lying?" Han asked, eying her carefully.

"No," she said. "It was someone my Aunt set me up with. I don't remember his name. I have a date like once a week with a different person of high standing."

"Why?" he asked, taking a sip of his own drink. She shrugged.

"My Aunt wants to keep the family reputation up."

"Damn," he shook his head. "That's nuts."

"You're telling me. This is the first time I've done this," she said, and scanned the bar again. "I like it. It suits me."

Han snorted. "Next time, don't come so dressed up."

She glared at him. "Next time I'll change in a Holo-Terminal booth on the way over."

He flashed a grin. "So there is a next time."

"Undoubtedly," she said dryly. "Until Aunt Celly croaks or I find a husband, I am doomed to play this dance forever."

"Why don't you run away?" he asked, seriousness touching his tone.

Because of my duty. The Rebellion. Alderaan...

"I have nowhere to go," she lied.

"You have a whole Galaxy of places to go."

"I have no ship."

"You could charter a flight," he suggested.

"No money."

"Not everyone pays in money," he shrugged. Anger flashed across her face.

"Are you suggesting selling my body?"

"Woah," he put his hands up in surrender. "I didn't mean that! I was just merely saying that some people work as a crew mate until their debt is paid off."

"Oh," she said, anger deflating from her. "Sorry."

He shrugged.

"What about you? Do you have crew members?" she asked, trying to divert the subject.

"One," he shrugged. "A giant Wookiee. He's on Kashyyyk right now, but as soon as I get the Falcon up and running again I'm heading there to pick him up."

"You speak Shyriiwook?"

"Yeah," he shrugged. "Or, at least I understand it. All that growling isn't so great for human vocal cords."

She laughed. "I wouldn't suppose so."

"Yeah," he chuckled. "Me and Chewie have been together for years now. At first he was a nuisance, but now he's practically my brother."

"If he's your brother, one of you is adopted," she said evenly. Han burst out laughing.

"Oh, man, I never knew!" he teased before taking another sip of his drink. "Anyways..."

They lapsed into a bit of silence, looking around the bar area and examining the customers. Leia was surprised at how easy she found being around Han was. He was infuriating at times, but he had a genuine air about him. He was just who he was, and no standards kept him from that.

"Do you have any siblings?" Han asked and Leia shook her head.

"Not to my knowledge," she shrugged. "Winter is practically my sister. I guess."

"Do you wish you had siblings?"

"I don't know," she answered honestly. "I suppose that if I did the same thing I'm going through now would be pressured on them."

"You should try and escape," he said.

"Where would I go?" she asked and he shrugged.

"Away from the Core," he said. "Maybe towards the mid rim. There are some nice planets there. Respectable, just out of heavy Imperial Presence to be considered safe."

"I'm not running from the Empire," she said.

"I never said you were," he countered. "But if there's one thing I know about the galaxy is that the only people who really love the Empire are already in the Navy. And even most of them don't like it."

"You say that as if you've had experience."

"I have," he said. "I joined for awhile. Found I didn't like it. Got kicked out."

"You forced yourself to get kicked out?"

"No," he grinned. "But I did anyway. Didn't sit well with me that they were enslaving wookiees."

"And that's how you met your adopted brother," she said with a smile. He grinned crookedly in return.

"That was indeed," he nodded, taking a sip of his ale.

Leia glanced up at the chrono resting over the bar and groaned. It was nearly1700 hours.

"I have to go," she said, downing the last of her drink and standing. Han jumped up as well.

"So soon?" he asked and she nodded.

"It's been nearly two hours!" she said. "And I ran away from a date with the son of a potentially wealthy family. I have to go."

"I'll walk you back," he said and she shook her head.

"No, I can't let you do that."

"Alright," he nodded, not really following her.

"I'm sorry, I've had a lovely time," she said. "But I have to leave. Maybe I'll see you again."

"Maybe," he grinned. He watched her maneuver out through the crowds and onto the street, ignoring the small voice in the back of his head that told him to follow her.

Leia tugged her hood closely around her face, ignoring the slight chill or the Alderaanian evening. The sun had fallen behind the mountains and the shadows were growing heavier with darkness. It took her ten minutes to arrive back at the Palace, and she ducked in through the old loose board in the fence by the garden. It was a trick she and Winter had discovered when they were almost eight. They could escape the Palace even if only to go ten feet.

Leia darted around the trees and entered through the servants entrance, smiling lightly at the few that remained in the back hallways. She was easily recognized here, and pulled her hood off. Creeping towards the door to the main area, she palmed it open and quickly ducked through. She slipped around and towards the large staircase, her hand on the sleek metal banister when the sharp, nasal voice of Aunt Celly broke the quiet peace of the Palace.

"What in the Maker's name do you think you did this evening, young Lady?" her aunt asked and Leia cringed, turning to face her.

"I went for a walk?" she said more as a question than a statement and her Aunt's expression darkened.

"You ran away from a Diplomat's son!"

"Oh, yeah," Leia nodded.

"That is no way for a woman of your standing to speak and behave," Celly scolded. She took a step towards Leia, hands on her hips. "He came here searching for you in panic! He thought you'd been kidnapped!"

"Well I wasn't, so he overreacted," Leia said, turning and gripping the banister again.

"What is that?" Celly's voice cut again, and a cool weathered hand grasped Leia's arm and slid her sleeve up. "Where did you get this?"

Leia glanced down and winced as Aunt Celly prodded the purple hand print on her wrist.

"Leia Organa, by gods you better tell me how you received this," Celly threatened.

"I got into a skirmish, there wasn't any issue," Leia played off.

"It looks like you were being held against your will."

"Only for a few seconds," Leia said. Aunt Celly grimaced.

"Wait until your father hears of this when he returns from Coruscant."

Leia sighed and pulled her hand out of Celly's grip, turning and walking up the stairs. She ignored her Aunt's protests and walked to her room. She sighed as she looked at the bed centered against one wall. Leia kicked her shoes off, unpinned her head and pulled off her dress. She flopped down on the fluffy bed, not even bothering with sleep clothes.

She was out within a minute.

Leia pushed open the door to the Cantina she had met Han in only a week ago, grimacing slightly at the strange smokey odors that resided there. She scanned the bar, taking in all the odd creatures that had stopped by her home planet. Amongst the odd assortment of sentients lay the scruffy Corellian that she'd met.

With a small smile, she walked up to the bar and took a seat next to him quietly. His attention was focused on the smashball game playing on the holo in the corner. She leaned back and watched for a moment, biding her time.

"How is this game even legal?" she asked aloud and Han turned his attention to her.

"When did you get here?"

"Minute or two ago," she shrugged, grinning lightly. "Why are you still here?"

"The repairs on my ship are a lot worse then I thought," he said. "I'm using money I don't have to fix them."

"Why not just buy a new ship?"

"Bite your tongue," he said, still grinning. "You still running out on dates?"

"Why else would I be here?" she asked, turning in her seat to face the room.

"Maybe you couldn't get enough of me," he teased and she laughed.

"You just think you're special because I haven't run out on you yet."

"Are you going to?"

"Not right now," she said. His returning grin made her stomach twist and she couldn't help but feel relaxed in his presence.

"So tell me, was it a Senator or a just a very rich man you broke the heart of today?" he asked, leaning back in his chair and resting an elbow on the bar.

"Very Rich Man," she replied. "I suppose he was attractive, but he couldn't say one thing that didn't revolve around his trading business."

"So he's a legal smuggler."

"It's not smuggling if it's legal," she said with a grin. "What was your last cargo shipment anyway?"

"Spice," he said. "I hate the stuff but it's what the Hutts push."

"You work for the Hutts?" Leia asked, raising her eyebrow.

"Probably not for long," Han sighed, taking another sip of his drink. "I had to dump my cargo last time. Imps were after me. By the time I returned to get it someone had picked it up."

"And now you're using the money you were paid to repair your ship rather than pay back the Hutts," she summed and he nodded.

"Unfortunately," he sighed. "That's why I sent Chewie to Kashyyyk. To see his family before we return to Tatooine to sort things out."

"Wait, you work for Jabba?" she asked, thoroughly surprised.

"Yeah," Han said. "I'm really screwed."

"You're telling me," she said, grabbing his glass and taking a sip of his drink. "You must be braver than I thought to run into that game."

"It paid well," he shrugged and she shook her head.

"I should've known it'd all return to that," she sighed.

"Hey, I'm not just about the money," Han said, leaning in on his elbow and pointing at her. "I happen to have a lot of things I stand for."

"Such as?"

"Slavery. I am very against slavery."

"Oh please," she scoffed. "Tell me something that doesn't apply to ninety percent of the Galaxy."

"Chivalry," he said firmly and she arched an eyebrow. "Hey, I can be chivalrous."

"You sure you know the meaning of that word?"

"Hardy har, Your Worship," he said sarcastically. Leia bristled slightly at the title but he continued nonetheless. "I'll have you know I don't particularly see the point to treating the fairer sex badly."

"Go you."

"Listen, if all you're going to do is put me beneath you, you might as well run on back to that rich fodder that you took off from," he said harshly. "I ain't here to listen to you're judgment. I'm here for a drink and the local smashball game."

"Well, then," she said huffily, standing form her stool. "I'll leave you be. It's a wonder you have any friends at all, the way you treat people."

"I can get all the friends I want, Princess," he sneered. She narrowed her eyes at him and spun on her heel, high tailing it out of the bar. She made it three steps before an older woman called out her name with a gasp.

"Princess Organa?" Leia spun and shut her eyes as she realized her hood was down. She gave a weak smile to the woman.

"Yes?"

"Oh my stars!" the woman grinned, coming closer. Her clothes were ragged and worn, and the woman's haggard hair was coming loose from the coronet of braids it sat. Steaks of gray threaded through her hair occasionally, making the wrinkles around her eyes stand out just that much more. "I never thought I'd see the day where I'd met royalty."

"Oh, well," Leia shrugged, searching for the correct term. "Congrats?"

The woman laughed and grasped Leia's palm lightly, holding onto it in admiration. "You are just the sweetest thing. I knew we were in good hands when I heard you joined the Senate."

"Thank you," Leia said kindly. "But I must return home..."

"Oh! Of course, of course!" the woman cried out, releasing Leia's hand at once. "I'm sorry to keep you, Your Highness!"

"Thank you," she said. "May the Force be with you."

The woman was mildly startled by the old Jedi saying but smiled. "Thank you dear. You too."

The woman turned away and Leia sighed, glancing back at the bar door while pulling her hood up. She froze when she saw Han leaning against the wall, his eyebrow raised in question.

Leia spun on her heel again, and began her brisk walk back towards the Palace.

"Leia, wait!" Han's voice called and she ignored him. It wasn't until his jogging footsteps reached her and he grabbed her wrist lightly that she stopped. "Were you going to tell me?"

"No," she said firmly. He nodded, his lips pursed in thought.

"I suppose that makes sense," he said finally. "Stay. Just a little longer."

"Han, I don't belong there!" she cried out shaking her head. "You saw that woman. I'm royal. Do you know what my family would say if they were to find out I was running off to a space port cantina to hang out with a smuggler?"

"So that's all I am, is it?" he asked, stepping back and crossing his arms. "Just a smuggler? Not even an acquaintance. I mean, I guess friend might be pushing it but I guess I'm not good enough, Your Highness."

Leia flinched at the venom he put into the now meaningful title. She fought back tears, refusing to cry in front of him.

"It's better this way," she forced out meekly.

"Is it? Is it, Leia?" he asked, quieter and more sincere. "Is it worth throwing away your happiness? I can see the difference in your eyes you know. How you aren't happy now. But when you talk about escaping from the life forced upon you, your face lights up. You don't belong high up in a castle."

"Palace," she murmured. "Castles are completely different."

"Like I give a kriff," he brushed off. "But seriously. Kriff em. Kriff it all."

"I... I can't," she shook her head. "You don't know the responsibility I have. Will have. I have to lead this planet. I have to have an heir. I have to do so much. I can't throw it away."

"So don't," he shrugged. "Live a little, save your responsibilities for morning."

Leia looked through the buildings to the silvery blue palace that laid on the other half of Aldera. It glittered in the sun, but suddenly it didn't feel like home anymore. It felt like a prison. It was as if the one refuge she'd ever know had suddenly become Kessel.

"Okay," she said quietly turning back to him.

"Really?" he asked, surprised. She nodded and he gave her a lopsided grin. "Alright, Your Worship. Now, I'm going to teach you the true meaning of Corellian Whiskey."

She tried to hesitate for a moment before he casually threw an arm around her, pulling her off in the direction of the Hangars.

Leia walked slowly up the stairs towards her room. The Palace was lit mutely for night, and so she was able to slip easily through the shadows. Her foot added an extra step at the top and she stumbled forward, her head spinning lightly at the falling sensation. She'd drunken too much, but it was worth it. She and Han had talked for hours about anything and everything. She knew all about his copilot's family and how he rarely saw them due to the Life Debt he'd attached to Han. He knew about the pranks she'd pulled in her early school days, especially her favorite where she'd changed the Imperial Anthem to that of the Old Republic for an assembly. The looks on her teachers faces'...

Leia let out a small chuckle at the memory again. That was before she had been politely dismissed from the Young Girls Academy. Her father hadn't punished her at all, merely patted her on the back for holding her ideals. Aunt Celly on the other hand...

"Where have you been?"

Leia jumped at the sudden voice, panicking for a moment that her Aunt had caught her. Silvery hair stepped into the dim light and Leia relaxed as she saw Winter's face.

"Force, Winter!" she cried out, clutching her chest. "Don't sneak up on me like that."

"Sorry," Winter said. "But seriously, where were you? Your Aunt was having a fit. She called your father."

"Oh no," Leia groaned, heading towards her room. Winter followed her in, palming the door shut behind her.

"He said he was planning to return to Alderaan in three days."

"That means he left Coruscant immediately," Leia said. She sat down on her bed and began fumbling with her boot.

"Here," Winter sighed and bent down, pulling at the straps. "Are you drunk?"

"Not completely," Leia shrugged. "If you tell Celly anything, don't tell her about my current condition."

"Of course," Winter said as if it were the only possible conclusion. "But really, Your Highness, you should be careful. Bars are no place for royalty."

"I wasn't drinking at the Cantina, Winter, and how many times do I have to ask you to call me Leia?"

"One more time," Winter said with a smile. "Where were you then?"

"I know someone," she shrugged non-commitally.

"A male someone?"

"Maybe," Leia shrugged. "He's alright. Really. He hasn't made a move at all beyond casual flirting. In fact, he's almost downright annoying sometimes."

"Be careful," Winter said again. "I don't want to see you hurt."

"I will, I promise," Leia said. Winter stood up and sat next to Leia on the bed, tending to Leia's hair. She pulled out the pins in silence, and Leia relaxed at the feel of her hair releasing from its hold.

"May I ask a question, Your Highness?" Winter asked as the last pin was removed. Leia turned to her.

"Always, you know that."

"Do you have feelings for this man?"

Leia started to open her mouth and deny it, but for some reason the words wouldn't come out. Did she have feelings for Han? Part of her wanted to say a vehement no, but a small voice in the back of her mind tingled with the urge to say 'yes, maybe'.

"I don't really know," she finally said and Winter gave a reassuring smile, hugging an arm around Leia's shoulders for comfort.

"I'm always here for you, Your Highness," Winter said before leaving her grip on Leia and exiting the room in silence. Leia stood at the door before she pulled off her dress and grabbed a pair of sleep clothes. With a final flip of the light switch the room fell into darkness, the only light from the pale blue moon outside.

This time, Leia went straight to Han's ship. She'd grabbed breakfast on the way over, ignoring the mild headache that coursed through her forehead and eyes and rapped lightly on the hull of the ship. Silence was the return so she knocked a little harder, wincing as she heard a mild crash and muffled curses. The ramp lowered and she stepped back. Han walked down the ramp before it'd even touched the ground, wincing as his eyes adjusted to the bright sunlight.

"Leia?" he asked through squinted eyes. "What time is it?"

"Just after 0800," she said, mildly embarrassed. "I brought breakfast. Figured I'd repay you for drinking your liquor."

He flashed her a lopsided grin and gestured her to follow him up the ramp. She headed straight for the dejarek table by the acceleration couch and placed the bag down before opening it up and pulling out the bag of bagels and bits of meat. She wasn't sure what he like so she practically bought out the best possibilities on the menu of the cafe she'd stopped in.

"You royals sure do eat a lot," he joked as he flopped down on the couch. She finally pulled out the cups of Caph and set them down.

"I wasn't sure what you liked," she shrugged, joining him on the seat. "I bought most of the options."

"The joys of money," he said wryly. "You didn't have to do this, you know."

"It wasn't just for you," she said, grabbing her cup and taking a sip of Caf. "I didn't feel like facing my Aunt this morning so I ducked out early."

"Great, now she'll think I kidnapped you," he rolled his eyes. "This is good Caf, where'd you get it?"

"Some local shop not too far from here," Leia said. "I've never been there before."

"Well you chose well," he joked. "So what do you royals do all day? Sign treaties? Pardons? Laugh as the lowly folk bow?"

She rolled her eyes and ignored the urge to fight. "Actually we go over issues within the community. Or bills for the Senate. Watch the holo... It's a rather boring life."

He laughed. "Let me get my hole-recorder and get proof. Princess Leia: the Royal that was bored."

"Laugh all you want," she said. "You just compare things too much to your exciting life on the edge of the law."

"Hey, I'm not always on the edge of the law, you know," he pointed out. "I can do honorable things."

"Name one," she said smugly, leaning back and sipping her Caf.

"I didn't kidnap a princess," he said. "And I helped her out from a sticky situation."

"You didn't know I was a princess though," she said and he shrugged, grabbing a piece of meat off the display in front of him.

"Still counts," he said after swallowing his bite.

"I don't think so," she shook her head.

"I still helped a woman out."

She sighed and silently admitted defeat. "So what are you doing today?" she asked to change the subject.

"Working on the ship," he said. "I have to get her up and running still."

"How close are you to finishing?" she asked.

"Close," he said, glancing down the corridor towards the Engine room.

"And you'll be taking off immediately afterwards?"

"I suppose so," he said. "I have to get Chewie off Kashyyyk and find a job that pays enough to return to Jabba."

"Will you keep working for him?"

"Who, Jabba?" he asked and she nodded. "I'm not sure. He pays well, but I don't know if I really want the hassle of moving Spice."

"You could switch to something more safe, like medical supplies," she suggested and he snorted.

"You know how poorly those runs pay?" he asked and shook his head.

"You could always look into say, the Rebellion," she said casually. "I'm sure they could use some help. They'd probably pay well for your services."

He stared at her for a moment curiously before nodding slowly in understanding. "Look, I'm really not one for joinin' into a freedom fight, okay?"

"But I thought you said you hated the Empire?" she asked. "The next logical decision is to work for the Rebellion."

"Maybe for you, Ms. Imperial Senator," he said. "But I really don't want to get caught up in that mess."

"Fine," she said evenly and returned to her drink and sipped at it indifferently.

"You're really into this whole Rebellion thing aren't you?"

"I don't know what you're talking about," she said, her face displaying no emotion.

"Look, Your Highnessness," he said. "I really don't care about your political affiliation one way or another, but don't play political games with me."

"Fine," she said. "So what if I sympathize with the Rebellion? Huh? The Empire is cruel and I hate it. We need Democracy, not a this dictatorship! A thousand years—More than that!-of democracy. Of the Republic. And it was thrown away like yesterday's garbage for some power hungry politician."

Han raised an eyebrow at her outburst before grinning crookedly. "Feel better?"

She was breathing heavily still but nodded. "Yes."

"Now," he said, sitting up straight. "Did you get any of those Cloudberry muffins some planets have?"

She smiled and nodded, pointing to a small clear container that held tow giant pastries. He laughed under his breath before reaching over and proudly grabbing the muffin.

"Hand me the hydrospanner, will you?" Han asked and she grabbed the tool out of the tray and passed it to him. She was sitting on the edge of the Engine pit, her legs crossed, while Han maneuvered around the various pipes and wires that made up the Engine to the Millennium Falcon.

A curse came below and Han put his hand in his mouth, nursing a wound.

"Again?" she asked, humor coating her tone. He glared up darkly and returned to work.

"Kriff this," he murmured and pulled off his shirt, revealing his sweat slicked back. Leia blushed and looked over towards the Navigation Station. "Almost...There... Got it!" he grinned, standing up in the pit and tossing the tool back in the tray. Leia glanced back at him, her eyes trailing down his bare torso. Han grinned crookedly as he caught her gaze.

"See something you like, Your highness?"

She narrowed her eyes before turning away. He chuckled lightly and pulled himself up. "That should do it, I think," he said, gesturing towards the engine. "Let's go fire her up and see if we get life."

Leia nodded and began heading towards the cockpit. He followed grabbing his shirt and tugging it back on. They sat down and Han began punching various buttons before a steady hum sounded and the Falcon vibrated with life.

Han shot her a grin and Leia passed back her own weak equivalent. He would be leaving now. He was all set to take off from Alderaan and fly off into the various systems.

"Congratulations, Captain," she said and he glanced back at her, his smile fading as he caught her expression.

"Captain?" he asked and she shrugged.

"Guess this means you'll be taking off now," she said.

"Guess so," he murmured, his annoyance at her indifference showing. "You can't wait to get me off this rock, can you?"

"I can," she said. "But I wouldn't want to interrupt your potential smuggling schedule."

"Good," he sneered back. "Why don't you go negotiate some bills or something, Your Worship."

"I will!" she said and jumped out of the chair walking briskly towards the back. She got to the ramp before Han's voice called her back again.

"Leia, wait!" he called and she stopped, turning and crossing her arms. He stopped in front of her, not really quite sure what to say.

"You have your ship back," she said. "You're all ready to go."

"Nah," he said, waving a hand dismissively at ship. "Let's do something. Anything. It's my last day on Alderaan. Show me the sights or something. I haven't seen anything but this blasted port."

"You want to see Alderaan?" she asked and he shrugged.

"Some Princess told me it was a beautiful planet."

She chuckled lightly and shook her head. "Fine."

He grinned and turned back grabbing his holster and vest. He attached the holster to his belt and yanked the vest on over his shirt. She turned down the ramp, quickly followed by him.

"So, where are you taking me?" he asked and she shrugged.

"There are a few parks. With grass," she added, as if it would seal the deal.

"Your planet, Your Worship," he shrugged. She spared a grin and led him out of the space port.

"The sky is so clear here," Han commented. They were resting in the grass, staring up at the late afternoon sky. The sun was kissing the tops of the mountains in the distance, and evening would be falling soon. Because of the mountainous crown that surrounded Aldera, the days were a touch shorter than most planets. Technically they had a 24 hour cycle like Coruscant, but twilight always lasted longer.

"Alderaan is a very environmental conscious planet," she said. "We value nature and natural beauty very highly. We're similar to Naboo in that aspect."

"Never been to Naboo," he said. "They aren't real big on smugglers."

"We aren't either," she said.

"You seem alright."

"I judge people by character, nothing else," she said. "It is the only fair thing in such a wide and Xenophobic galaxy."

"You know it only got that way after the Empire, right?"

"Really?"

"Yeah," he nodded. "I remember a little of the Republic. Not much, since I barely remember anything before ten, but from what I do I remember the vast number of species."

"They're still there," she said, turning her face to him. "They just are under the pressure the Empire places upon them."

"I suppose," he sighed and turned his head towards hers as well. Their faces were inches apart, and Han wanted so badly to close that distance and kiss her. To see how she'd react and if it was anything like he imagined.

"You should come to Coruscant in two weeks," she said suddenly and Han was pulled out of his thoughts.

"Why?"

"Senate resumes then and I'll be there," she explained. "I'm not sure we'll ever see each other again otherwise. I don't really feel like losing this friendship."

Friendship.

The word sounded cold to Han's ears and the sting of rejection flooded through him. But there was no reason to feel rejected. Neither had made a move towards the other, so there was really no reason to be fighting any emotion at all.

"I typically don't head that close to the core. This was pushing it for me," he said and her face fell and she turned back up to the sky. "Leia. Leia, look at me."

She turned her head towards him again, her brown eyes glassier than they had been.

"Honestly, I understand," she said quickly. "It's really no problem. I out of anyone knows the importance on treading lightly around the Empire."

"Leia, listen," he said and she quieted. "I'll make an exception. I'll look you up as soon as I touch down. You can even meet Chewie."

She grinned and looked back up at the sky. It had taken on an orange-purple color as it played with the moisture in the atmosphere.

"I'd like that," she said after a moment. He followed her gaze up into the sky. It was a beautiful sight. Almost as riveting as the Binary Sunset Tatooine had. "I have to go," she said, breaking the silence. "I have to return to the Palace."

It felt like a lead weight had dropped in Han's stomach. "Alright," he nodded, sitting up. She stood, brushing off the back of her pants and shirt. He followed suit. "I'll see you in two weeks."

"I'll hold you to that," she said with a sad smile. "Goodbye, Han."

"Good bye, Leia," he nodded. She waited a moment before turning and crossing the park. He stood there the whole time, watching her walk away. Never once did she turn back, and part of Han was glad she didn't. He'd never have been able to say good bye other wise.

One Week Later: The Death Star

"Can't get out that way," Han said, keeping the stolen Stormtrooper blaster pointed at the exit to the hexagonal hallway.

"Looks like you managed to cut off our only escape route," an even and hard voice said.

"Maybe you'd like it back in your-" Han cut off as he turned back and met the cool brown eyes he'd memorized a week ago. "Leia?"

"Han?" she asked. "What are you doing here?"

"Apparently saving you," he said, feeling mildly embarrassed at his reluctance to save the Princess Luke was so eager to. He had merely been covering the anger and hurt he felt at Alderaan's mysterious destruction, feeling the loss of the smart mouthed royal he'd met only a few weeks prior.

"Guess we're not meeting on Coruscant next week," she said, a small grin tugging at her lips.

"Look," Luke interrupted. "This reunion of yours is all fine and well but we aren't exactly out of this rescue yet."

To emphasize his point, a crimson blaster bolt whipped past their heads and exploded against the wall behind them, forcing them to opposite sides of the hall.

"Here we go..." Han said, before opening fire towards the troopers at the end of the hall...