dedication: to Torie.
notes: here it is, folks, the last chapter. never again am I writing multi-chapter fics for presents. NEVER. AGAIN.
chapter title: burn out stars
summary: The Rebellion didn't start with a bang, but with a whisper. — Anakin/Padmé, Leia, Han, Luke.
"I want you to be very careful, Leia," her father said in her ear as they touched down on the landing pad. "This place is…"
"Dark," Leia said simply. That made no sense, really, because Coruscant was lit up like nothing she'd ever seen. The whole planet was alight; there were no dark spots where there were no people at all. It made sense, at least, why Coruscant was the capital of the Empire—there were just so many people here.
But the Darkness of the place rippled across her skin. Just because Leia couldn't manipulate the Force didn't mean she couldn't feel it, and the Dark Side was strong on this strange bright planet.
The Big Stupid was still there, too.
"Aren't you leaving?" Leia asked him.
"Nope. Sorry, your Highness, but you're stuck with me!" Han grinned widely, his teeth flashing very white in the shadow of the Millennium Falcon's hull.
This was her father's doing, Leia could just tell. She turned to look at her father, and to see if she could kill him with her glare alone.
"I want you to be safe," Anakin sighed at her. "And if I can't—"
"I know, I know, if you can't be there, you want me to be with someone who can protect me, because you have to go find Mom, I know, I know, but can't I just go on my own? No one's going to notice a girl all alone!" Leia frantically searched her mind for any other arguments—her father would go find her mother no matter what, and she would find her brother, and they'd be a family again, but that wouldn't work if the Big Stupid was there, too!
Anakin's face drew tight. "You don't know Coruscant, Leia, not like I do, and this is not up for debate. Behave."
"You are the worst," she said, already reaching out to wrap her arms around his waist. "Be safe, Daddy."
"You, too. I love you."
She nodded into his stomach, and then she pulled away, dry-eyed.
Leia wasn't going to cry about this. She'd cried when Grandda Lars had died, and it hadn't helped anyone then. It had made her feel a little better, but then, she wasn't ever going to see Grandda Lars again. She was going to see her father again, so there was no reason to cry.
"Take R2 with you," her father said. "He can get you the layout of the Senate once you're in. Leia…"
"Don't terrorize your brother," her father, grinning, and then he was striding away, his robes flapping behind him like an oversize cavebat.
Leia pressed her lips together very tightly.
Her father was such a dork.
R2 beeped inquiringly at her side. "I guess you're coming with me, buddy," she told the little droid. "I need you to help me figure this place out. Big Stupid over here is gonna be our gunslinger."
"Look at us, your Highness," Han said, "we even have nicknames for each other."
"I'd rather we didn't," Leia grumbled. "Are you coming, or not?"
"'Course," Han said, hands stuffed into his pockets. His blaster was carefully tucked into his thigh holster, and he carried himself like he'd never had anything around his neck. It was amazing what her father could do to a person, when he wanted. Leia shook her head to herself.
Leia turned, and started walking. Less than half a second later, his hand closed around her wrist.
"Leia," he said, very seriously, "just stay close, alright?"
She looked up at him warily. She wanted to wrench her wrist out of his grip, but she didn't—it was the first time he'd called her by her name.
"Okay," she said.
"Then let's go save your brother," Han said, dropped his shoulders and her wrist so that he looked exactly like the punkass teenage smuggler he was going to be.
Leia tightened everything inside of her. "Let's."
The Senate was frighteningly easy to sneak into. Leia tried very hard not to think about what that meant about security in this place—just because somewhere was easy to get into didn't mean it was going to be easy to get out.
It turned out that Big Stupid had a knack for getting past people without them seeing him. She figured it probably had something to do with the slavery thing—if no one saw you, no one could tell you what to do. She was also kind of glad that her father had insisted on dark clothes for all of them—the white wrap clothes would have stuck out like a sore thumb in Coruscant's streets.
Also, R2 was a godsend.
The little droid beeped and hacked his way through every door there ever was. Leia couldn't believe she'd ever thought he was useless. R2 was actually the best. The holocron of the Senate's blueprints was also really helpful.
"He has to be here somewhere…" Leia muttered as she turned the holographic blueprints over and over in her hands. "This is the signacron where the file originated; he has to be here—"
"There," Han said, pointed to a little room off in the very far corner of the blueprints. It looked somehow cut off from the rest of the Senate, a little too out of the way for it to have been anything like a storage room, and it was too small besides. "He's probably there."
"Okay," she breathed. Leia turned the map over in her hands again. "There are two ways we can go."
"You take the long way around."
"Excuse me?" she asked him, looking upwards.
Han Solo was grinning like a maniac. "I'm gonna go cause some trouble, Princess. If we're lucky, they'll send all their guards towards me, and then you and—whatever the hell this thing's called—"
"R2!" Leia exclaimed right at the same moment R2 beeped indignantly. "His name is R2, don't be rude!"
"You and R2," Han sighed, "can get to your brother. As soon as you break through that door, you get out of here, and you go back the way you came. Catch my drift?"
Leia studied him for a moment. He had a really stupid face. "What about you?"
He grinned again, but it was a little too hard-edged, this time, for it to anything real. "Don't worry about me. I'll get out just fine."
"How can I trust you?" she asked him, plaintively, tired, so tired.
"You gotta believe in something, your Highness," he said, and dropped a hand on top of her head to mess up her hair. "Meet back at the Falcon, okay?"
"Okay," she said.
And then he was gone, too, and Leia was alone.
Whatever the Big Stupid was doing, it was working.
The halls were empty, but there was a blaring alarm, and every time she heard footsteps, Leia ducked down into whatever corner she could find behind R2—she was small enough that the droid hid her almost entirely, and no one ever looked at droids.
She kept her blaster in her hand, regardless.
Bully for them, Leia thought viciously, as she ran down another hallway. Han hadn't been kidding when he'd said that it was the long way around. Her feet hit the floor in a steady rhythm of left-right-left-right-left-right, the pounding a calming drug in its own right. It kept her solid, kept her focused, kept her going.
Every time she almost took a wrong turn, R2 beeped, and she skidded to a stop to take a look at the blueprints again. Breathe, breathe, she reminded herself, you need to breathe.
It was just so empty, God, she didn't even know why it was so empty.
If she got back to the Falcon with her blaster cartridge full, she was actually going to be so annoyed. Her father would probably be happy, though.
Stupid Han. Big Stupid Han.
And then she was running again, taking off down the hall in the right direction.
There was a droid rounding the corner. Leia didn't even aim, she just shot, bang, and kept running. Droid parts scattered around her while R2 behind made a happy trilling noise that sounded like victory. Leia grinned to herself, and then promptly realized she had no idea where she was.
"R2, are we far, now?"
The droid beeped happily again, brought up the blueprints again without complaint.
Her brother may or may not have been literally down the hall.
Leia steeled herself against the possible disappointment. If he wasn't there, well, she'd just go grab Big Stupid and get out of there, and then they'd keep looking. He thought she was stuck with him? Ha, he was going to hate her by the end of this mission. Once they hit the Falcon, she was going to stick to him like glue.
(See how he liked it.)
The door was right at the end of the hall, painted the exact same colour as the wall surrounding it, with no visible entry point.
"R2?" Leia asked.
The droid beeped once, and went to work.
A minute later, there was a hiss as the door slid open. Leia threw herself into it, hands burning a little against the heated metal, and looked inside.
There was the boy with the shaggy light hair and the blue eyes.
He looked up, eyes wide.
"Hi!" she said. "I'm Leia Skywalker, and I'm here to rescue you!"