AN: Sorry I took so long to update! I was doing NaNoWriMo, but then an error on my computer destroyed my novel file. :( So anyway, thanks as always for reviewing. Oh, and this fic is ignoring the whole makeing-an-evil-Luke-clone-from-his-hand shit that happened in the EU (actually, most of my fics ignore EVERYTHING in the EU except the Solo kids).
"Is the room moving or are we?" a child asked.
Leia honestly couldn't tell. The tunnel was shaped like a huge barrel that was rotating around them, the only light being the long streaks of neon purple around the tunnel. They had to cross the tunnel on a narrow railed bridge that forced them to walk single file, but it seemed to be tilting under their feet. Leia could feel the floor sliding under her - she was sure that were it not for the rails everyone would be stumbling all over each other.
"I'm scared!" Allura cried. "I wanna go back!"
"Of course you do," said Kai.
"Come on, come on," said Ms. Tano. "We're almost through, younglings."
There was a lot of shrieking, both from children and adults, as they inched through the tunnel, tightly gripping the rails lest the law of gravity suddenly reverse and send them flying.
"I'M GONNA HUUUURL!" Niko screamed.
Once they finally emerged from the tunnel, many of the adults immediately charged for the conveniently placed refreshers. Even Han looked a little green. Leia's head was spinning, but fortunately she didn't feel in danger of losing her breakfast.
"Let's do that again!" Allura chirpped.
"What?" Leia exclaimed. "I thought you were scared."
"That's why I wanna do it again," said Allura, as if the reason was obvious.
"All right, all right younglings," said Ms Tano. "Now, in this room you'll find all kinds of unusual artwork . . ." She was unable to say anything more before the kids scattered again. "YOUNGLINGS!" she called, but of course none of the children acknowledged her presence.
"No point in shouting, lady," said Han. "They ain't gonna listen here."
Ms. Tano put her hands on her hips and glared at him. "All right then, how about you try handling them?"
Han grinned at her. "You wanna know the best way to handle kids? The best way to handle them is to not handle 'em!"
Leia rolled her eyes. "Oh great, here he goes."
"The more you tell kids not to do somethin', the more they wanna do it," said Han. "So what's the point of always tellin' them to do or not to do stuff when you know they're gonna ignore you anyway?"
"Is this another excuse for taking the younglings to that cantina?" Ms. Tano said, glaring at him. "I haven't forgotten about that, you know."
"That's his excuse for a lot of things," Leia muttered, but fortunately, Jacen came running up to them, effectively ending the conversation.
"Mom! Dad!" Jacen cried out, his eyes tearing up.
"What is it, sweetheart?" said Leia.
"Melda told her dad that I was saying mean things to her and he got all mad at me!"Jacen sobbed.
"WHAT?" Leia and Han exclaimed together.
"C'mon Jacen," Han said, grabbing his son's hand. "Old Dad's gonna show 'im a thing or two."
. . .
Han and Jacen found Melda and her father by a picture of a taun-taun made out of candy wrappers. "That thing's ugly," Melda was saying. "Who'd wanna make a picture out of trash?"
"Ha, there you are!" said Han, storming up to them.
Ryo turned around to face Han, groaning as he did so. "You again?
"Yeah, me again," said Han, pointing an angry finger at him. "Look, I don't care if you spoil your kid rotten and make her grow up to be miserable when she finds out the world ain't gonna be handed to her, but you got NO RIGHT to discipline my kid!"
Ryo smirked. "So are you actually disciplining your kid, or are you training him to be a smuggler too?"
Han ground his teeth, still pointing at Melda's father. "Look, you and your precious daughter have been spreadin' lies since day one. Leia and me have tried to be nice about it, but we ain't gonna tolerate you pickin' on Jacen like this."
"Well I'M not gonna tolerate your precious son picking on my daughter!" shouted Ryo.
Suddenly Han felt Jaina tapping on his side. "Hey Dad!" she exclaimed. "You gotta see this!"
"Not now, sweetheart," said Han. "Dad's in the middle of a fight with a moron."
"But Dad," said Jaina, pulling on her father's hand, "it's the FALCON!"
That was the magic word. "What, the FALCON?" Han exclaimed. "Why didn't ya say so?"
"But Dad," said Jacen, "aren't you gonna kick Melda's dad's butt?"
"Hold on a sec," said Han, allowing Jacen to lead him away from the fight. "I gotta see this."
Jaina yanked him a few exhibits down, and there it was. A perfect model of Han's beloved ship made out of ice cream sticks. A large grin stretched Han's face without any conscious decision to grin.
"Now that's art!" he exclaimed.
"Okay," said Jacen, "now can you go kick Melda's dad's butt now?"
"Later," said Han. "I gotta look at this."
"Isn't it awesome, Han?" asked Tad, who was staring at the sculpture as spellbound as Han. "Hey, after we get home could you take me for a ride on the real one?"
"Maybe," said Han, only half-listening, hardly noticing Jacen yanking at his hand.
"Dad, can you please kick Melda's dad's butt now?"
Han hardly heard his son. He probably would have stared at the Falcon sculpture for hours if it weren't for Ms. Tano screaming her "ATTENTION!" so loudly that it probably made half the museum patrons go deaf. With great effort, Han managed to pull himself away from the exhibit and drag himself towards the teacher.
"Younglings, you know better," Ms. Tano was saying as the students and parents gathered around her. "If this is how you're going to behave, we don't have to go on any more field trips."
"Good!" said Melda. "I hate this stinking trip! Jacen's been mean to me this whole time!"
"I have not!" shouted Jacen.
"Younglings!" Ms Tano called again. "If you're going to keep acting like this, you can all go back to the shuttle. Do you want that?"
"Yes!" said Melda, but her voice was drowned out by the rest of the kids answering in the negative.
"Well then, you need to behave!" said Ms. Tano.
Han groaned. "Look lady, you've given this same speech how many times?"
"Han!" Leia hissed.
Han ignored his wife. "And how many times've they listened to you? Seems to me that you've gotta consider a new strategy."
"And what kind of strategy would you suggest, Mr. Solo?" Ms. Tano glared at him. "Would you have me simply ignore them? Oh wait, you probably would."
"You're ingnorin' them right now," Han reminded her with a smirk.
Sure enough, now that the adults had been engaged in conversation for a full thirty seconds, the children had started up their ear-numbing chatter again.
"YOUNGLINGS!" Ms. Tano screeched, but of course they didn't quiet down. "YOUNGLINGS!"
"SHUSH!" Kai screamed, far louder than Ms. Tano could. "CAN'T YOU SEE MS. TANO WANTS YOU TO BE QUIET?"
"YOU BE QUIET!" Melda shouted back.
"SHUSH!" Kai responded, still at the top of her small lungs. "MS. TANO WANTS US TO STOP TALKING!"
"THEN BE QUIET!" Melda yelled.
"I AM BEING QUIET!" yelled Kai. "YOU'RE THE ONE WHO'S NOT BEING QUIET!"
By now both Leia and Han were rolling their eyes and shaking their heads. This was going to be a long day, even by this trip's standards.
. . .
The group had seen a stuffed Wampa, a giant ball of string that was supposedly the galaxy's largest, and a bunch of other strange exhibits, but no matter how weird something was, it never seemed to hold the children's attention for long. Han, Leia, and the other chaperones were forever chasing down kids who had strayed from the pack and breaking up fights.
"All right younglings," Ms. Tano said as they entered the room dedicated to the macabre, sounding like she was struggling to keep herself under control, "I'm sure THIS will interest you."
"Don't bet on it," said Han.
"Oh, THIS will!" said Ms. Tano, wilding gesturing at a glass case. "Younglings, here you will see a genuine mummified hand - and not just ANY hand, oh no, this is the hand of Luke Skywalker himself."
"WHAT?" Leia and Han exclaimed in unison.
The group gathered around the case in which a wrinkled severed hand was displayed. Several kids exclaimed, "Eeeew!" while others exclaimed, "Cool!" and Leia and Han simply stared at the hand with bulged eyes.
"Han!" said Tad, pulling on Han's arm. "Is that really your brother-in-law's hand?"
"How should I know, kid?" said Han. "One hand looks pretty much like another, but I don't think Luke would want his hand displayed in a museum."
"I hope he wouldn't," said Leia.
"Maybe Uncle Luke doesn't know about it," said Jaina. "Maybe some crook stole it and sold it to the museum."
"Then Uncle Luke should SUE!" said Jacen.
"Yeah!" said Anakin before making his way to the teacher. "Ms. Tano, could you help my uncle sue the museum people for taking his hand?"
Ms. Tano gave an amused grin. "Well Ani, I believe your uncle actually gave his hand to the museum."
"Why would Uncle Luke give his hand to a museum?" Jacen asked, making a disgusted face. "Wouldn't he wanna just throw it away?"
"Maybe they paid him," said Kai.
Allura's eyes widened. "So if I cut off my hand and gave it to a museum, they'd pay me?"
"Course not, stupid," said Kai. "You gotta be famous for that."
"I hope you wouldn't cut off your hand," said Ms. Tano. "Your hands are too useful to be cut off."
"But I could get a robot hand like Luke Skywalker," said Allura.
Ms. Tano flinched, as if she worried that she would be held responsible if Allura decided to cut off her hand. "Allura . . . sweetheart, it would hurt to cut off your hand. A lot. I mean, really a lot. Do you really want to go through all that pain?"
Allura twisted her mouth, as if she were weighing the benefits and drawbacks of cutting off her own hand, taking several seconds to answer. "Fine," she said with what sounded like disappointment, "I guess I'll find some other way to make money."
Meanwhile Han had his nose pressed against the glass, scrutinizing the hand within. "That can't really be the kid's hand," he said. "C'mon, he wouldn't actually sell his hand to a museum. Sides, it fell down the shaft at Bespin, didn't it?"
Leia shrugged. "Who knows, maybe he went looking for it or something. Or maybe Lando found it and sent it to him."
Jaina was grinning as she stared at the hand. "Well when we get home, let's have a long talk with Uncle Luke, okay?"