Just a Little Fun
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Leia Organa sat alone at her workstation on the rebel base of Hoth. She was submerged in paperwork and deep in concentration as she stared at her computer screen.
Even from her station, Leia could hear her co-workers socializing in the mess hall while they ate lunch. Instead of taking a break like everyone else, Leia had opted to work through lunch. It was just one of those days where she didn’t feel like mingling and appearing cheerful when she really felt like going back to her bed and not getting out of it for a week.
She sighed and tiredly rubbed her temples. She really loathed these bad days. They came completely unexpected, surprising her with an uncontrollable depression that darkened her mood the entire day. Distracting herself from her grief with all this work piled around her wasn’t helping as much as she’d hoped, either. She just needed something that would take her mind off Alderaan’s destruction for a little while.
“What, are you on a diet or something?”
Leia sharply turned her head to see Han Solo standing at the door of the workroom, his sinuous body leaning against the door frame.
“No, I’m just not hungry,” she replied softly.
Han walked into the room and sat backwards in the chair of the work station adjacent to hers. He rested his long arms on the back of the seat. “Yeah, I wouldn’t be too hungry either if I saw the stangthey’re trying to pass off as food today.”
Leia snorted derisively. She knew that the kitchen droids were doing the best they could with the tight budget they were on, but even she had to admit the food could be better.
“Hey,” she said, remembering something for the fIrst time, “aren’t you supposed to be getting a shipment from Kasna?”
“Already did and came back,” Han replied proudly. “How many times do I have to tell you, the Falcon’sthe fastest ship in the galaxy?”
Leia smiled despite herself at his last comment. Whenever the slightest thing went wrong with his ship, Han would curse it for hours on end. Yet he never let the chance to boast about the Millennium Falconpass by.
When he saw the princess’ mood lighten, Han didn’t waste a possible opportunity. “You want to go get some real food? I know this great place off-planet that has nerf-steaks that’d blow your mind.”
Leia considered the invitation. It was obvious Han was in a good mood. Otherwise he probably would’ve already tried to pick a fight with her. As long as she didn’t let her temper get the best of her, they probably wouldn’t have a huge fight if she went. It was even slightly possible that they’d have a good time together. The idea itself of getting off-planet for a few hours was tempting: she was starting to feel claustrophobic, cooped up in the base for so long. Still, she’d volunteered for all this work, and it would take forever just to get through the paperwork.
As if he’d been reading her mind, Han plunged forward: “Come on, it’ll be fun. You and me. I’ll even promise to behave myself. You can put work off for a little while.”
Leia shook her head, irritated at herself. It was impossible to say no to Solo when he looked at her with such pleading hazel eyes. “Oh, what the hell. Sure,” she finally caved in. If nothing else, she’d get free food out of this.
Fifteen minutes later, Leia found herself in the copilot’s seat of the Millennium Falcon.Han had invited Chewbacca to join them, but he’d made some excuse about helping Luke repair his X-wing. Not that Leia really minded that it would be just her and Han. When he tried, he could be charming and funny and a really good friend. Plus, Han was easy to talk to when he was in a good mood. Even easier than Luke, at times.
“Ready?” Han’s all-business, ‘piloting’ voice cut through her thoughts.
Leia grasped the lever at her left and waited for Han to give her the go-ahead. “Ready.”
He checked a panel in front of him a final time. “OK...go!”
Leia pulled at the lever and suddenly the stars in front of them altered to swirling streaks of bright light flashing past the viewports of the Falcon.
Han leaned back in his seat with a sigh of relief. The Falcon’shyperdrive had been acting up lately and he was grateful that it had decided to work today. He turned to the princess and was about to say something to her when he caught her facial expression. She was still staring out the viewports, a look of awe on her face. It was easy to forget the Leia wasn’t as accustomed to the wonders of space as he was. She was usually so composed and controlled, it was unusual to see such childlike wonder etching her face. He had to admit, though, the expression really enhanced her distinct beauty.
He considered pointing this out to her, but thought better of it. Nothing unnerved and discomforted the princess as fast as flirtation. He’d learned this the hard way a couple years back on Yavin Four after having a bit too much Corellian brandy one evening.
Han smiled to himself at the memory of the princess’s flushed cheeks that night. He turned back to the viewports and watched the star streaks with Leia. A comfortable silence fell between the pair as outer space twisted and kaleidoscoped in front of them.
“I thought we were going to a restaurant,” Leia grumbled as they headed toward their destination. “Not the caninen tracks.”
“No, I told you we were going somewhere with great nerf-steaks. Trust me, this place is nice. You’ll like it,” Han replied calmly.
Her only reply was an unintelligible mumble. “Look,” he said, pointing a forefinger in her face, “have you ever been to the caninen tracks before?” He could only take so much haughtiness from Her Worship before getting aggravated.
“Then just trust me, you’ll like it,” he repeated.
Leia realized that she was causing his mood to darken--and that she was starting to whine like Luke-- and let the subject drop. “Fine, if you say so.”
Han stopped walking, stunned. “I’m sorry, I think something’s wrong with my hearing. I could’ve sworn you just avoided an argument.”
Leia smiled at the joke, despite the fact that she was the butt of it. “Don’t push it, flyboy.”
Han wisely kept his mouth shut and simply grinned at her with that maddening smile of his. When they entered the building, Leia was shocked. Knowing the kinds of places Solo went to, she’d been expecting a ratty, smoke-filled, run-down establishment. Instead, the place looked rather nice, sanitary, and from what she could tell, respectable. A well-lit dining area was placed on several receding floor levels, sort of like an arena, facing a wall made completely of glass that looked out to the race track outside. On the topmost level, where she and Han stood, a bar was nestled in one corner while betting windows were lined up along the other wall, taking bets from the customers for the winner of each race.
The large crowd made Leia uneasy. It was easily possible that someone would recognize her or Han from their wanted posters that were spread throughout the galaxy. She leaned towards Han and asked him in a voice barely above a whisper: “What if someone realizes who we are?”
He matched his voice to her own. “Don’t worry. A lot of these sentients are barely aware a war is even going on. The Empire doesn’t involve itself too much with Caronia.”
Leia nodded, mentally tucking away the information for later use. Planets that weren’t monitored by the Empire and willing to join the rebellion could prove to be helpful in the future.
“Come on.” Han took her hand and started to pull her towards the dining area. “I think there’s a table at the bottom.”
The place was growing crowded, but they managed to get a table on the lowest floor level, closest to the tracks. They were right next to the glass wall and from her seat Leia could look down at the track to see the caninens being prepared for the first race. A waiter droid suddenly came up to their table and asked for their orders.
“What are you going to have?” Han asked her, not looking up from the menu in his hands.
Leia glanced at her own menu quickly. “I want to try one of these supposedly fantastic nerf-steaks you’re talking about.”
Han handed the menus to the droid. “Two nerf-steaks, well done. A Tatooin brandy, and...”
“...an Alderaanian ale,” Leia finished for him.
After the droid left, Hall leaned toward her. “You? Alcohol? I believe the last time I saw you drink, you passed out,” he teased.
Leia blushed. “One glass won’t knock me out,” she said defensively. “Besides, no one warned me how strong that Khon whiskey was.”
Hall rolled his eyes. “Whatever you say, Your Worship.”
Leia sighed. She knew he wanted to provoke her. And he was doing a damned good job of it, too. She bit back a sarcastic reply, determined not to let him get to her.
“So how do you choose which caninen to bet on?” Leia asked, trying to change the subject.
Han reached for a holo-cube sitting on their table and activated it. Tables of names and numbers immediately materialized in front of them. He explained to her what the numbers meant and which caninens would be the best bet. Leia listened attentively, enjoying the way the afternoon sun played on his handsome face.
“So who are you betting on?” he asked after she looked at the holo again.
“Umm... ‘Ery’s Last Crusade’ to place,” Leia finally decided.
Han snorted. “Did you even see the odds on that one? Hoth will sooner suffer from global warming than Crusade’ll win!”
“I know, but it’s just a feeling I have,” she replied softly.
First Luke and his Force powers, and now Leia with her strange notions. “OK, fine. But I still say ‘Final Offer’ will win.” He stood up. “Gimme your credits; I’ll go place your bet for you.”
Leia handed him a couple of credits from her pocket. While Han went to make the bets, the droid came back with their meals. She had to grudgingly admit, as she took a bite out of her nerf-steak, that Han was right. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d eaten food this good.
Han returned with their tickets just as the race began. A bell rang from somewhere outside, and the caninens were released onto the round track. Leia’s excitement grew as the animals raced around the track. Without really realizing it, she stood up and started to cheer ‘Crusade’ on. All around her, sentients were doing likewise for their own caninen. She watched ecstatically as ‘Crusade’ edged ahead of the rest of the pack and won first place.
“Yes!” Leia cried, too caught up in the moment to be composed. “Yes! I won!”
Han smiled at the ecstatic princess. It was the first time he’d seen her really smile in a long while. “Very princess-like, Your Highnessness,” he teased.
Leia sat back down in her seat, but didn’t stop her gloating. “I was right. And you, you were wrong. Come on, let’s hear you say it now.”
“I was right. And you, you were wrong,” Han repeated calmly. When Leia rolled her eyes at him, he started to laugh. “OK. Your crazy feelings were right.”
Satisfied with his response, Leia gave Han her ticket and leaned back in her chair. “Very good. Now why don’t you go up there and get the credits I won?”
Eight races and forty credits later, Leia was almost gloating. She’d won virtually every bet she made, while Han had barely made a profit. He didn’t mind so much, though. Leia had gotten really caught up in the betting and a smile hadn’t left her face since the fourth race.
“You ready to go, Princess?”
Leia nodded. “We should do this again, don’t you think? Beating you at something is really fun.”
Han shook his head. “You know, this was originally supposed to be my treat, but since you have such an abundance of cash on you, maybe you’d like to contribute to the bill.”
Leia shook her head as she stood and put on her coat. “No way, Captain. You already said you were paying.”
“Right, it was just a suggestion.” He took some credits out from his pocket and placed them on the table. “Let’s get outta here.”
Han and Leia silently walked to the spaceport where the Falconwas waiting for them. The caninen tracks weren’t far from the spaceport and they, both didn’t mind the walk. Dusk had just settled upon the city, making the weather a little cooler than Leia would’ve liked, but still a warm and welcome change from Hoth.
“It’s getting kind of late back on base, you know,” Han’s voice broke through the silence between them.
“Yeah, everyone probably thinks I’ve murdered you and I’m disposing of the body,” Leia added.
“That, or we’re secret lovers and we ran off to spend the afternoon together.” He grinned wickedly at her.
After another few minutes of walking, Leia spoke up again. “Well, we’ve learned something today. When we really try, we can go an entire day without wanting to kill the other.”
Now that she mentioned it, they hadn’t once yelled at each other that afternoon. “Hey, you’re right. Of course, if we told anyone on base that, they wouldn’t believe us, but you’re still right.”
Leia laughed out loud. “Actually, I think it would mean that a few rebels would lose some bets of their own.”
Han thought he’d never heard a sound as welcome as her laugh. He had to chuckle himself. Despite popular belief, he and the princess were perfectly aware that they were the drama of the base, entertaining the rebels with their heated arguments.
As the couple rounded the corner, the usually observant Han Solo was too preoccupied with his own thoughts and Leia’s laugh to notice the butt of a blaster before it knocked him unconscious.
Leia stood, too stunned to move for a moment. Her mind was furiously trying to comprehend what had happened in less than a second. A blaster was abruptly pointed at her face. “Get your hands in the air!”
After doing what she was told, the attacker came closer to Leia. She realized with some relief that this wasn’t an Imperial, as she’d thought. It was only some amateur mugger. Great, two of the Rebellion’s most dangerous are being mugged by an amateur.If it had been just the one guy, she would’ve tried turning the tables on him, but with the mugger’s friend watching in the background, they proved to be too risky to try anything against. Han’s current state didn’t help their odds of escape very much, either.
“Now, hand over your credits, nice and slow.” The mugger moved a fraction of an inch closer to her. His voice was still cracked with adolescence.
Leia sighed as she passed her winnings to the mugger. The credits were barely in his hands before he and his friend were making a mad dash down the other end of the street. She shook her head. They weren’t just amateurs, they were downright idiotic criminals. They’d left Han, who had more credits on him than her, untouched save the hit to his head. They’d also left Han’s blaster resting in its holster. She kneeled down next to Han, who was starting to come around. “Han... Han... Wake up, Han...”
A safe jump to hyperspace later, Leia sat at the Falcon’sboard, Han’s head resting in her lap and his body taking up the rest of the seats around the table. She was holding an ice pack in place on his forehead. From this position, she had a great view of what it was like up Solo’s nose. She dabbed the ice pack gently to the bruised forehead. Those muggers might not have known how to rob someone, but they sure could hit a guy. “I had a really good time today, Han. Up to being mugged, I mean.”
A small smile graced his face. “So I got your mind off Alderaan?”
“Alderaan,” he repeated. “That’s what you were so depressed about this morning, wasn’t it.”
Leia looked down at the Corellian with puzzlement. “How’d you know?”
He sighed. “You’re not the only one who’s lost loved ones, Princess. Believe it or not, I know what it’s like to wake up depressed and in need of a distraction,” he explained softly.
Leia swallowed. Solo could really surprise her sometimes. “Thank you, Han. You did a great job.”
He diverted his eyes suddenly from her face. “No problem, Princess. It was fun for me too.” He smiled slightly. “Most of it, anyway.”
Realizing that Han couldn’t keep serious for too long before getting uncomfortable, Leia let the subject drop. “Now what is everyone going to say about me when they see this gash on your head after our mysterious trip alone together?”
Han looked up at the princess smiling down on him. “Probably that you can’t kill me, even when you try.”