It's Not Over Yet
By Barbara Anderson
see You Could Use Another Good Kiss home page
(Originally appear in Flip of a Coin #7, 1985)
What a party!
The proverbial morning after found Leia tossing and turning, fitfully tangling herself in the covers, her dreams disturbing a deep sleep. She awoke with a start, crying out. Nightmares! Her head throbbed in time to each beat of her heart. Had to be from all that fermented berry juice last night.
She rolled over onto her stomach, burying her head under the pillow, one arm stretched to her left, the other dangling over the side. Maybe if she went back to sleep, the pain behind her eyes would go away.
But, oh, what a party!
The celebration following the destruction of the Death Star had gone into high gear after the Ewoks brought out their version of party tonic; a distillate made from a particular but plentiful red berry. It had tasted deceptively mild, like a fruit punch, and she wound up drinking quite a bit of the stuff. By the time she realized just how potent it was, she didn't care—then had more.
Her face screwed up against the sheets as she tried to recall the rest of the evening. Her memory wasn't too clear after the time when everyone began leaving, drifting away in twos and threes, looking for places to sleep. Most of them probably sacked out in the tree huts, or if alert, went back up to the orbiting ships.
Somehow, through a miracle of navigation, she had traveled back down to the forest floor, accompanied by Han and Chewbacca. Then there had been only Han. One minute they were laughing when she stumbled; the next, he was leaning her back against that fallen tree trunk.
She burrowed under the covers, wiggling her feet in remembered delight. It might have been the alcohol, or maybe the mysteries of the night, but he had never been so exciting. His kisses had been tantalizingly slow and deliberate, doing incredible things to her pulse rate. That breath-stealing hesitant first touch, followed by repeated demanding strokes that had made her dizzy with pleasure, causing her head to spin, and then...and then?
She tensed, reaching a mental blank. What happened after that? Where had she gone? Where had she slept? Who...had she slept with?!
Her eyes snapped open in wide-staring panic and her head shot out from under the pillow. Oh, no, she thought, looking around the familiar room, her suspicions and fears confirmed. She was in Han's bed!
It wasn't the first time, by no means. She had used the double bunk on several occasions, particularly the lengthy run from Hoth to Bespin when the hyperdrive was inoperative. In fact, she probably had as many personal things stowed in this room as Han did. But all those other times had been different. Even though she had fantasized about having him there, he had always slept on the cot at the medical station or in the cockpit. The distinct indentation in the other pillow put last night in a whole new category.
Next question—a crucial one. What was she wearing, or not wearing? An undercover check revealed basic underwear. She sighed in relief, dropping back on the bed. After all, if something had happened, she reasoned, he wouldn't have gone to all the trouble of putting anything back on. Unless he wanted her to think that nothing had happened. But she didn't feel as if...then again, she had never...so how could she know what it would feel like if she had?
Now totally confused, she sat up, hair in her eyes and the covers jumbled in her lap. Suddenly the door hissed open, framing the dark, backlit figure of Han Solo. Startled, Leia gasped, instinctively pulling the sheets up to her neck.
“Good morning, bright eyes,” he said, walking into the room. “I thought you might be up. How do you feel? How's the arm?"
Unlike herself, he was clear-eyes and fully dressed. She attempted to read his face for last night's possible activities, looking for clues in his body language, but he didn't appear any more self-satisfied than usual. When she tried to answer, she found her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth where it felt like a prize crop of fungus was growing.
"Can't talk yet? Or can't think yet? It's no wonder. You were a real ball of fire last night, Princess."
Silent mental alarms went off. What did he mean by that?!
He hooked a thumb over his shoulder. "Chewie's got a morning pot going. Want a cup?"
Leia shook her head, instantly regretting the action. She grabbed one temple in obvious discomfort, giving him a look of pure malevolence.
"Hey, what's the matter?" He sat down on the edge of the bunk, cupping her chin in his hand. "It's only a little hangover. Not my fault you drank so much."
"Maybe not," she countered, "but you didn't try to stop me, either. Were we...um?" She stared into those miles-deep dark eyes with trepidation, trying to phrase her question as diplomatically as she could, given the circumstances. "Did I... I-I mean, did we...?" She locked bleary eyes with him as everything came out in a rush. "Did you take advantage of me last night?"
He stood up with a jerk. "Did I what?"
"Well," she accused, indicating the pillow, "you obviously slept with me."
His hands went to his hips. "Is that your problem? You think I made a mid-night raid on your respectability?"
"I don't know," she wailed. "I can't remember. I don't remember undressing myself. I don't remember anything after you maneuvered me against that tree."
"I maneuvered you?" he choked. "Only after you conveniently tripped first, don't forget. I know an invitation when I see one." He pointed at her. "You passed out on me, sweetheart—left me hanging. Stone unconscious, about as much fun as carbon freezing was, and just as cold. And yes, I slept with you. A bantha could've slept with you! You wouldn't have noticed either way. I saw no reason not to. I thought we had an understanding." He ran one hand through his hair. "You actually thought I'd..." then left the sentence trailing, unable to finish it through his rising temper.
Leia looked skeptical, wanting to believe him, but she just didn't know this side of his personality well enough to completely trust him. The man was an opportunist. They may have been through hell and damnation together but the intimate moments had been few, brief, and far between. And he hadn't yet denied it.
"Are you sure?" she asked, immediately realizing her mistake, pushing him too far. That blazing in his eyes she did know.
In half a second, he had whipped the covers off the bed, yanking them out of her fingers, pinning her shoulders to the bunk with firm, insistent hands, even as she screamed, trying to cover herself. "Forget about your modesty, Leia. I saw a hell of a lot more when you swung off Jabba's sail barge. As for last night, making love to a near corpse is not my style."
He brought his face up very close, so close that his warm breath mingled with hers. "If and when I take advantage of you," he whispered seductively, "I guarantee you'll have no trouble remembering." Just as she was positive that he was going to kiss her and do just that, he abruptly released her, got up, and headed for the door. "I'm going to finish breakfast," he said over his shoulder. "If your royal virginess wants some, you can get it yourself. There's only one way you'll get served in this bed!"
The door closed behind him just in time to block the thrown pillows.
Han stormed into the cockpit, muttering derogatory remarks concerning women in general, royalty in particular. If he had known she was going to think the way she did, he would've done what he sat up half the night thinking about doing.
Despite the emotional distractions, his eyes automatically started a left-to-right systems check, scanning the equipment panels, alert for the slightest deviance from the norm. The familiar, almost subconscious routine was having a calming effect until he reached the glaring red light indicating a malfunction in the sensor dish. Hell, there was no sensor dish! Just a twisted mass of wires centered in a mangled, jagged rip in the plates. His anger, now directed toward a new target, flared anew. Where was he going to get another one? He grinned maliciously. Maybe he should make Lando stand on the hull in its place! 'Not a scratch,' he had promised and in all fairness, Han had to admit that the con artist had kept his word. It was a gaping hold! But not a scratch.
He kicked his chair for frustration release, just as Chewbacca walked in, woofing his curiosity. "Ahh, female problems, Chewie. Human and mechanical. You know, her highness actually thinks I carried on some after-hours banking last night, a little deposit and withdrawal while she was out for the count."
An exaggerated, "Tsk, tsk," came from his co-pilot.
"You, too? Well, thanks a heap," he said indignantly. "I didn't, but when I think about it, I should have. At least one of us would be smiling this morning."
He slipped into his seat, flipping switches and changing the subject. "I'm not too thrilled with taking her up half-blind." The Wookiee hooted derisively, kidding him on their sudden reliance on instruments. "I'll tell you what we did before the dish. I lost count of the number of times we almost lost the family treasures!"
The com-link beeped for their attention. It was Luke on the line, ready to take the shuttle back to the headquarters frigate. "Is Leia with you?" he asked through the filtered speaker.
The Corellian looked disgusted. "Yeah, kid, she's here. Virtue intact, if anyone asks. What's up?"
There was a long moment of silence as Luke decided whether or not to mix in as it was obvious that Han and his sister were fighting again. He was half convinced that they enjoyed the verbal sparring, the give-and-take insults. It appeared to be part of the mutual attraction. If so, it was none of his business.
"They're asking for her at the frigate. Something to do with the formation of a new Senate. All officers and pilots have to report as well."
Han scowled, reaching for his spacers' gloves. He wiggled his fingers into the ultra-thin tactile-enhanced material. "What's going on up there? Any Imperial action?"
Chewbacca grumbled, beginning a preflight and paying particular attention to the jury-rigged seals on the hull breach. The last thing they needed was a vacuum blow-out.
"Nothing much," Luke replied. "A few minor skirmishes on the fringes. Most of the star destroyers went into hyperspace right after the Death Star blew, so we don't have to worry about them. The problem now is the regional bases. We've got to start hitting them before they can recover, before someone restores order and takes command. Ackbar, Madine, and the rest are putting together attack schedules and dispatch orders in the briefing room now."
Soft footsteps alerted Han to Leia's entrance into the cockpit. She quietly took the navigator's seat behind him. "Your royal presence is required," he said sarcastically, "as well as mine. Free time over—not that we'd do anything with it, anyway." He leaned towards the speaker, ignoring Leia's exasperated sigh. "Okay, Luke. I'll call in, let them know we're on our way. Meet you on the hanger deck."
Chewbacca grumbled again, annoyed at being told where to go and when, so soon after yesterday's big victory. He told Han so in loud unflattering terms.
"I know, Chewie. I feel the same way. Guess they never heard of R and R. I'll see what we can do about it." He punched the thrusters. "But not just now."
The Millennium Falcon's engines roared into life, lifting her off the surface of Endor, into the blackness of space. As soon as they were free of the last traces of atmosphere, Han took her through a series of basic maneuvers, using the debris from the destroyed station as a makeshift obstacle course. Anything more complicated would probably blow the slap-dash repair job Lando had done on the top hull before flying down for the party. The freighter was running rough and he swore; steadily, fluently, in half a dozen planetary expletives, regardless of Leia's wide-eyed stare. If she wanted him, she'd just have to get used to it.
Response times were off, readings out of sync, the front quarter shield was fluctuating. He swore again. That was the last time anybody would ever fly his ship. Cause or no cause.
This just reinforced his recent feelings. He was planning to give them back their generalship just as soon as it was convenient. Maybe sooner, for the title had become a constrictive and restrictive pain in his butt. That 'all officers report' order was rankling him a lot more than he would have verbally admitted. Orders! He had never adjusted to following someone else's directions, learning early on that they tended to have their own best interested in mind, rather than his.
The rebellion really didn't need his leadership anymore. It was only a mopping-up operation from here on in, anyway. Piece of cake after the Death Star. He'd probably stick around, though, lending a hand if it was needed, but he had to know that he could come and go as he pleased.
That left only one beautiful problem.
The docking bay entrance came up quickly. Han effortlessly guided the battered freighter through the maze of fighters, setting the Falcon down in her reserved spot. Even as the landing pads were venting, technicians had scrambled in to secure the deck clamps and hook in the auxiliary fuel lines.
As Han was shutting down the systems, he felt a light touch on his shoulder, turning around to look at Leia's contrite face. "Will I see you later?" she asked.
He covered the peace offering with his, squeezing the slim fingers tightly, then raised it to his lips, planting a lingering kiss on her palm. "Don't worry. I'm not going anywhere." But as she left for the senatorial council meeting, the door sliding shut behind her, he finished the sentence. "Yet!"
Han waved at Luke from the cockpit, then waited, leaning on the instrument panels, staring out the partitioned window and watching with mixed feelings as Leia ran from the ramp to her brother. Though the romantic rivalry had been resolved, he found he was still jealous of Luke. The twins had something special, a secure, comfortable relationship, while he and Leia continued to square off in opposite corners.
He turned away, stripping off the gloves and jacket. "C'mon, Chewie. Let's start putting her back together again."
Since Han and the other combat-active officers weren't needed in the briefing room until the final planning session, he and Chewbacca had started right in on repairs; recalibrating the readings, installing new circuitry, fine-tuning the various components back to their mutual satisfaction. Though the number one priority was new hull plates, by the time Supply delivered the necessary equipment, measured metal slabs, heavy duty laser welders and hand-guided repulsor units, Han had to leave for the meeting. Having his priorities chosen for him did not improve his mood in the least little bit and he smacked the hatch contact with unnecessary force.
The main hangar of the headquarters frigate was in its usual state of controlled chaos, as busy as ever. Han looked around; it was as if nothing had happened the day before. Droids were everywhere, fuel lines underfoot connected to scramble-ready X-wings, troop carriers in the way. The only indication of yesterday's battle were the dozens of captured Imperial ships—shuttles, escape pods, TIE fighters—that were interspersed with the rebel craft. They were going to be used in the sneak, surprise attacks on the big bases. He sighed. It still wasn't over, probably wouldn't be for years. But now was definitely the time to make his move, before they included him in on a crucial plan, before they counted on him again.
That still left the one beautiful problem.
The briefing room was already crowded, noisy with the many conversations of pilots, officers, chief technicians, all clustered on the multiple levels in small animated groups. So crowded that no one really noticed his arrival. It didn't bother him, preferring to keep a low profile anyway.
He stood in the doorway, surveying the room, searching over the heads for one in particular. He found Luke, then Lando, talking with Admiral Ackbar, Mon Mothma, and a tall blond in civilian clothes, his back to Han. He wasn't interested in any of them, but knew that his objective had to be nearby.
Then Mon Mothma shifted her position and Han spotted his beautiful problem half-hidden behind the stately Rebel leader. He also spotted the unknown civilian resting his hand on Leia's wrist. What gives? Sideslipping between the people, and nodding to those he knew, he made a laser line for the diminutive dark-haired figure. He had to talk to her before this party started.
A hard knot formed in this throat. What if she said no?
Oh hell, he thought as he got closer. She was in royal robes. So much for informality. It was going to be back to protocol and diplomacy again. Han hated tippy-toeing around people's feelings in order to accomplish something. The only time diplomacy ever worked was when it came from the business end of a blaster.
She caught his approach from the corner of her eye, excusing herself to meet him. Her eyes were bright, her face flushed with eager excitement as she clasped hands with him. "Oh, Han, it's really happening," she sparkled. "We've set up guidelines and long-range plans for the New Senate, designated a planet in the Maylor system as Alderaan II for the location, even the Imperials are joining us."
"That's great," he interrupted, "but..."
She continued, undaunted. "Really! In fact, one of the officers from the Death Star is aiding us now." She pulled him over to the group. "I want you to meet him before the briefing starts. He's been wonderful."
"Leia," he persisted and resisted, "I've got to talk..."
"Colonel," she called, ignoring Han's protest.
Because she was watching where she was going, Leia didn't see the look of shocked recognition, then of murderous fury on the Corellian's face when the civilian turned around in response to his former Imperial title. If she had, she would not have blithely continued, unaware of Han's fist about to make jaw-breaking contact.
"Colonel Delavan Royce, may I introduce...Han!"
The colonel went sprawling to the floor, knocking into everyone behind him, creating an off-balance domino effect in the crowd. Han would have flung himself upon the now horizontal officer, but Luke and Lando had reacted quickly, restraining his arms and holding him back.
"Let me go, dammit!" Han raged, the veins in his neck tensed and bulging as he fought wildly against their viselike grip.
The room had become ominously quiet, all eyes on the sudden and unexpected altercation; the only sound being Han's rapid breathing.
Luke hissed in his ear. "Have you gone crazy? What's the matter with you?"
Colonel Royce shook his head and rubbed his throbbing chin, the beginnings of a livid bruise spreading across his jaw as he was assisted to his feet. He fastidiously dusted off his clothing, tugged at his tunic, straightened out the wrinkles, then faced the still struggling freighter pilot.
In the meantime, Lando had put two and two together. "I gather you've met this fool before," he whispered out the side of his mouth, "but this isn't going to get you anywhere. Stop and think what you're doing." He dug his fingers into Han's biceps, hoping the pain would override the anger.
The colonel, on the other hand, was the picture of quiet calm. "Han Solo. Still reacted with brute force, rather than reason, I see. Correct first impressions can be so gratifying."
Admiral Ackbar, the amphibious strategic leader, stepped between them. "What is the meaning of this, General Solo? Explain yourself."
Royce's eyebrows went up, the tone of his voice condescending. "General? My, my, we have come up from the gutter, haven't we?"
Han's reply was an unprintable snarl and his friends were hard put to prevent further physical response.
Leia stood in semi-shock, her mouth hanging open, hand splayed across her chest, her eyes going from man to man, unable to do or say anything constructive. She had seen Han kill, had seen him want to kill, but only in self-defense, never with pure premeditation, never with anticipated pleasure.
"Colonel Royce," Mon Mothma spoke up, "have you and General Solo met before?"
The ex-Imperial fiddled with his shirt cuffs, minutely adjusting the creases. "General Solo and I were cadet classmates at the Academy together, some fifteen odd years ago. He was—um—how to put this delicately, considering his rank—forced to drop out due to an unfortunate incident that I am unable to discuss. It would be indiscreet."
"Talks a lot," murmured Luke, "but doesn't say much, does he?"
"I was informed afterwards that he blamed me for the dishonorable discharge, though I was completely cleared of any complicity. Apparently, the general continues to bear a grudge. A pity, we were friends for a short while."
During this revelation, Han had become quieter, the killer instinct burnt out for the moment, but Luke and Lando could still feel the coiled tension in his arms, the muscle taut with unused adrenaline. The pirate's temper was holding on a hair-trigger. "Let go," Han said quietly. "I'm all right."
A mutual glance and nod passed behind his back, but even as they gingerly released him, keeping their hands within inches of his arms, they knew from past experience that he was just barely in control, capable of exploding again in an instant and there was no doubt in their minds that this time he would go for the blaster. The rest of the room was unaware of the potential time bomb and breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Mon Mothma, concern on her face, turned to Han. "Is this true? Is the colonel an object of personal vendetta?"
He took a deep breath, the oxygen helping him to think rationally, then looked around. He felt like the lead in a holo-drama; everyone was hanging on his next line. "Some of it is and some of it isn't. That's not the point. Look," he said hotly, "I don't know what this piece of garbage is doing on board, but take my advice and jettison it. You'll sleep better."
Royce looked smug, too smug and Han dearly wanted to cave in his face again. "Name calling, Solo? How childish."
"The colonel," Admiral Ackbar interjected, "was retrieved from an escape pod. His foresight and realization of our impending victory enabled him to escape before the Death Star exploded."
"Still saving your skin, huh, Del? Nice to know you haven't changed, either."
The Mon Calamari looked exasperated. "This has gone on long enough. General Solo, whatever your personal differences are with the colonel, I would ask you to keep them to yourself. Despite your feelings, the information that he was willingly and freely given has so far been accurate and invaluable in our continued fight. I see no reason to mistrust him, simply because of a misunderstanding many years ago."
Han's eyes turned hard, cold, and to those who knew him, deadly. Very few beings had looked into those eyes and lived to talk about it. His features became an impassive, unmoving mask. If Chewbacca had been there, though, the Wookiee would've warned everyone to hit the deck, for only he would have noticed the almost imperceptible tightening of his captain's hand as it hovered over his right thigh.
The silence seemed to last for hours, becoming a solid, tangible thing.
"In that case," Han finally replied, "count me out." He started walking away, then turned on his heel at the beginning of the stairs, his voice coated with intended malice. "I'd start looking over my shoulder if I were you, Del, and checking behind doors. You never know who might be there...waiting."
Ackbar's voice rang with authority. "General Solo!"
"Not any more, Admiral."