Trust Fund

By Barbara Anderson
amanor@worldnet.att.net

Art by Wanda Lybarger
ladymousew@bellsouth.net

 

see You Could Use Another Good Kiss home page
for applicable legal statements and disclaimers

Part 1

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(Originally appear in Flip of a Coin #15, 1992)


 

"After the destruction of the Death Star and the demise of the emperor, the Alliance had scrambled to take advantage of the confusion and power struggle that had invariably accompanied the latter event, while itself trying to organize and maintain a new senate for the formation of the New Republic. The early beginnings were one of a lost perspective as the rights of the individual became compromised for what was deemed the greater good of the rebellion. The fate of a planetary system hung on its allegiance and strategic advantage and not on its need to be delivered from the still strong and active Imperial forces.

The Alliance sought to strengthen its position and unify those systems pledged to fight the Empire. For the good of the rebellion, lives were manipulated as the decision was made to give the people a leader, a symbol of hope for the future, a shining light to follow. Jedi chronicles from this time speak of the fabric of the Force gently rippling with the events and emotions set into a convoluted motion; events that would interweave, tangle, and threaten to choke all involved. Had these early plans succeeded, the history of the New Republic would have been very different, but the longtime leaders of the rebellion, those who had become concerned with governments instead of people, had forgotten that a rebellion is made up, first and foremost, of rebels..."

New Republic History...
First Hundred Years, Formation of...
Author: Hakel Skywalker—3090 ADS

 

It was 'nighttime' on board the headquarters frigate, the huge space cruiser that served as the Alliance command ship for the rebel fleet. While not all the ship's company and crew required a sleep/dormant period, enough did that a day/night separation was observed. 'Nighttime' was a figurative term, though, for the starship didn't shut down by any means. Her communication center buzzed, the bridge was manned, and repair crews still worked in the fighter bays. A visitor might note a feeling of quiet during the rest cycle as the corridors were perhaps less crowded, but behind closed doors and sealed bulkheads, the rebellion against the Empire continued.

In a conference room on the frigate, a triumvirate of Alliance leaders pondered the rebellion's next move. Admiral Ackbar, Mon Mothma, and General Madine were all that was left from a council meeting of fourteen; all the others, Princess Leia Organa among them, had left for their quarters. The meeting had been one of military strategy with another Imperial base targeted for attack, but it might have been designated as one of diplomacy and protocol as well, for all aspects of a mission had to be considered. Not only was a target chose for its military importance, but also whether the star system involved would benefit the Alliance afterwards. Arguing over merit versus need had run the meeting way over time and the ship was almost midpoint in the 'night' upon adjournment.

Feeling the late hour, Admiral Ackbar stood and stretched his arms, the webs between his fingers translucent in the harsh overhead light. "I couldn't help but notice," he said to Mon Mothma, "that you were unable to keep the princess from attending tonight."

The stately older woman also stood and half-paced, the harsh light making her appear older still. She rubbed her forehead in frustration, the stress and responsibility of her position taking their toll in the form of a nagging headache. "It was like trying to keep a star from going nova," she admitted. "I explained to her, or tried to," she waved her hand in a helpless gesture,"why she wasn't needed in a military capacity anymore, but she bristled and there wasn't any time at the moment to go into more detail with her." The matronly head shook. "She's being very reluctant about re-channeling her usefulness to the rebellion."

"Perhaps," offered Madine, "we're wrong in this. It might not be in her best interest or the rebellion's. She possesses an intuitive grasp of tactics, of cause and effect. With all due respect to her Alderaanian Highness, some of her strategies have been...," he let an uncharacteristic smile light his face, "...delightfully sneaky."

Mon Mothma made a derogatory sound. "We all know from whom she learns that!" She rubbed her forehead again, the ache settling behind her eyes. "Rather than influencing Captain Solo, she seems to be acquiring some of his less desirable traits." Her features set in firm determination. "No, we have enough tacticians. Sneaky and otherwise. But we have only one Princess of Alderaan and it's in that capacity that she can now best serve the rebellion. Think of it," she walked around the triangle table, elaborating the planned picture. "Her home planet destroyed and still she bravely fought the tyranny of the Empire. The people of the New Republic will embrace her en masse."

Ackbar leaned forward, placing his hands on the table top and looked as skeptical as a Calamarian could. "You've set yourself a difficult task, Mim," he said, using the close nickname they had given her for informal moments. "The princess is a very strong-willed human."

"With her own ideas," Madine added, "about what's good for the rebellion."

"Exactly!" She gestured triumphantly, making her point. "She'll do it, because it's for the good of the rebellion. It's just the restructuring of her responsibilities and image that will be a little awkward. We certainly can't have her in combat situations or," she closed her eyes shuddering ever so slightly, "ankle deep in engine grease helping Captain Solo fix that ship." Her annoyance was obvious.

The admiral sighed in regret, the protruding eyes registering sadness. "I didn't enjoy retracting my decision on that." His raspy voice was tired, resignation evident from a commander who knows things have to be done, but not liking them from a personal standpoint.

When the Millennium Falcon came limping back to the frigate after deliberately springing an Imperial trap meant for the rebel fleet, Han Solo had requested, as part of his 'compensation,' the services of Leia Organa as part of his repair crew. Ackbar had agreed. The Alliance Council though, had had other ideas, stating unequivocally that the princess was needed for her talents as negotiator and ambassador and couldn't possibly be spared for something as unregal as ship repair.

"I know, Ackbar," Mon Mothma placated in her most soothing voice, usually reserved for recalcitrant planet leaders, "but Leia was reasonable, wasn't she?"

Before the admiral could answer what was basically a rhetorical question, the door buzzed, then hissed open, admitting an Alliance clerk. More an aide-de-camp to Mon Mothma than any of his other duties, Jerash M'lan waited just inside the door before proceeding further. He was an older man with a kindly face, looking like someone's grandparent. He was also an Imperial spy.

With a tired, grateful smile, Mon Mothma acknowledged his presence. "Thank you, Jerash, for staying up." She pointed to a stack of translucent red data plaques on the narrow end of the table. "Those are the ones and please go rest after they're delivered. We're through for the night."

As the aide unobtrusively scooped them up, first nodding respectfully to the other Alliance leaders, General Madine continued the discussion. "And Captain Solo? Was he 'reasonable'?"

He knew full well what his fellow Corellian's reaction had been. Han hadn't lost his temper, hadn't even raised his voice. The anger had run inside, revealing itself in the green fire of his eyes as he had stared at the rebel leader. That look had caused Mon Mothma to actually take a step back, such had been the palpable intensity of Han's inner ire, fueled by a natural power not unlike that of the Force. His mouth had tightened and he had simply said, "Fine," turned and walked out, devastating the room with a single word.

"I think," answered the female leader, remembering the barely contained energy in those eyes, "it's time we re-channeled Captain Solo's usefulness to the New Republic as well."

Her voice was colder than deep space and Jerash M'lan's ears perked up at the icy, ominous, veiled threat towards Solo; he wanted to hear more, but staying even another few seconds would arouse suspicion. With the plaques in his possession, he left, barely noticed by those in the council room.

Once in the quiet corridors, he shuffled through the crimson wafers, noting which ones went where or to whom. Supply...Maintenance... his mind supplied the destinations: Gold Squadron...Engineering... And then he smiled. With a dark sinister cast to his eyes, he help up the one going to Fleet Communications. After a slight detour, and slight alterations, the plaque would have an additional coded message added by Jerash, a message to be received by a lone Imperial starliner staying just out of sensor range.

M'lan thought about Mon Mothma's cryptic statement and wondered if he ought to relay this changed attitude of the Alliance towards Han Solo. Apparently the Corellian was not happy with the Alliance, either. Well, it was inevitable, reasoned M'lan, only a matter of time as Solo wasn't the kind of man who'd follow a cause for idealistic reasons. It was well known among the Empire that Solo followed only himself. If it seemed otherwise, it was only because it was to Solo's benefit and convenience.

Jerash decided to wait and keep an eye on Captain Solo. Having Solo as an ally would be an invaluable asset—an expensive invaluable asset—but the information and assistance he could give to the Empire would be worth it. Jerash was confident Han could be bought; the agent just had to find the right sellout price.

M'lan's own sellout price was an ancient and powerful emotion—pure and simple revenge. Bitterness drove him to betray the Alliance as he blamed the rebellion for destroying his home and family. He had had a good life under Imperial rule, managing a lucrative weapons factory manned with slave labor. Then the rebel forces came to 'liberate' his home planet.

During the attack, his home and family had become innocent and unfortunate victims, and the factory was razed to the ground. With a business that was nothing but a pile of rubble, there was little he could salvage and if he had been found or recognized by any of his former 'employees,' his life wouldn't have been worth an Imperial half-credit. Seeking to escape, he had pretended to be a distraught but grateful refugee, even fastening one of his slave collars around his own neck for believability, and thrown himself at the mercy of a rebellion ground squadron, volunteering to leave with the fleet.

Years he had waited, biding his time; gradually, with his administrative skills, he had finally advanced through the ranks to a position in which he could help the Empire regain what it had lost. His only problem had been making Imperial contact.

As dark as the day had been when the second Death Star was destroyed, it had brought Imperial Colonel Delavan Royce on board the frigate. M'lan remembered him from the time Royce had toured the factory. It had taken a bit of careful covert maneuvering, but the two had managed to work out a scheme for Jerash to transmit information. It was Royce receiving the messages in the Imperial starliner.

Back in the council room, the three leaders were leaving, moving toward the exit. "If this mission fails," Ackbar suddenly said softly, the content immediately capturing their attention," we'll have a more urgent problem to deal with than Captain Solo."

The last two alliance missions had failed—miserably—with heavy rebel losses, setting back the rebel fleet in terms of fighters, pilots, and credits. It was not widely known, though the rumors were right on the mark, that each time it was as it the Imperials had been waiting, almost as if they had prior knowledge of the attack. As if they had been warned.

All this in his mind, Madine put the second piece into place. "We'll have to accept the obvious conclusion."

Shadows were deep beneath their eyes as Mon Mothma waved a hand over the light and door sensor. The panel hissed open, bathing them in a cone of light from the corridor. She took a deep breath, completing the group thought. "We've got an Imperial agent in our midst."

 


Elsewhere in the cruiser, in the quarters of Her Highness, the Princess Royal of Alderaan, Leia Organa was getting ready for bed...sort of. At least, she planned to go to bed...sort of. What she didn't have in mind was sleep. Though alone, a faint rise of color flushed her cheeks at the delicious thoughts she was having, thoughts involving Han Solo and his cabin on the Falcon. Thoughts influenced by the very recent memory of the first, and so far only, time he had made love to her...in that cabin. Only seven days past, but it felt like light years ago. Tonight, she had every intention of repeating the momentous event and possibly showing him that he still didn't know everything about women yet.

Looking in a full-length ornate mirror, Leia briefly surveyed herself, feeling somewhat scandalous in the shimmersilk underwear she had put on, hoping her Corellian would like it. Actually—she looked at the chrono—she hoped her Corellian was still up. Well...awake, she smirked to herself.

Pulling out the braids in her hair, Leia ran a brush through the thick waves, thinking of the meeting she'd just left. Gods and demons of Alderaan, she thought it would never end! But it was her own fault; she had made a point of attending, especially after Mon Mothma had said her presence wasn't required—or needed. The brush caught a tangle just as Leia's anger flared anew and she tugged with displaced ferocity. Not needed?! She recalled the woman's words: 'As the last surviving member of the Royal House of Alderaan, you have a more important responsibility than that of a rebel soldier. You've become a symbol for the people.' Leia scowled. Symbols were what you stamped on government currency. She didn't want to be a symbol! What she wanted...Her shoulders drooped and a tired sigh couldn't be suppressed.

What she wanted right at that moment was Han Solo. So maybe he was insolent and sarcastic and irreverent, but he was also intense, sensual, honest, and no one made her feel the way he did. She imagined falling asleep in his arms, her mind easily forming the image of his face in peaceful slumber: child-innocent, hair mussed, his mouth relaxed without the tight lines of anger to add harshness to his features. And he had been angry lately, especially after the Council rescinded her status as Falcon repair crew.

Nor could she blame him, as much as she had tried to reason with his fury. If it wasn't a meeting like tonight, then it was a protocol review, or a diplomatic gathering, or a delegation arrival, or a dozen other activities that she was supposed to attend. The Alliance Council kept insisting that it was important for the people to see her. When she did have a free moment, it always seemed that Han and Chewbacca were at a critical phase in the repair of the Falcon; or she and Han argued, wasting what time they did have, which mostly amounted to stolen minutes. And now she had the lessons with Luke on the ways of the Force to fit into her schedule.

Well, enough was enough. There was an ache inside her that wouldn't go away, that intensified whenever she thought of that irascible pilot and she was tired of trying to ignore it. 'Act on instinct and impulse,' her brother had lectured, and while she was certain he didn't mean this particular set of circumstances, she felt confident he would approve of putting theory into practice however she could.

Going to her wardrobe, she picked out a simple blue floor-length dress, something she could easily slip out of seductively. Never had she actually planned a seduction; it was not something in which she had a lot of previous experience—unlike her intended 'prey.' Again, the thought somewhat shocked her. But the anticipation of his arms around her again, the weight of his body, the feel of spacer hands stroking her bare skin was an impetus she could resist no longer. She wanted him. Wanted, needed...loved him, beyond all reason. And to the deepest pits of perdition with the Alliance, the New Republic, and responsibility!

 


Still elsewhere in the docking levels of the giant starcraft, Han Solo was indeed still up, hunched over an open deck panel in the Falcon's rec area. His beloved ship was in pieces.

Stripped to her framework in places, the Millennium Falcon sat in a repair bay, looking forlorn and helpless under a battery of grid lights. The left bow mandible hung on a hinge joint off the main saucer, exposing all the wiring and ductwork within, while the aft section had been gutted with the hyperdrive components immersed in the oil-filled vats that ringed the area. A few lights still glowed on the outer hull, but most of her systems were either shut down or under major repair because of a direct laser hit by an Imperial star destroyer. Her shields had malfunctioned and the damage had devastated the converted freighter resulting in power feedbacks and burn-outs, shorting out nearly every circuit.

Inside the Falcon, the lighting was also low; the panels on the control banks open and unblinking, their wires protruding in blackened, multicolored tangles. Two of the deck grids in the rec area were lifted up and pushed aside, allowing access to the machinery below. Tools lay scattered everywhere and the combined odors of hot fused metal and engine lubricant hung in the air like heavy humidity.

Despite the late hour—or early hour, depending on one's perspective—the captain and first mate were finishing some delicate repair work, with a little help. In the cockpit, Chewbacca stood in the bulkhead doorway, watching the navigation computer panel. At the flash of a green diode, he yowled back to the rec area where a short, cylindrical-shaped droid beeped agreement and rotated a mechanical appendage in the engine linkup.

His turn to relay the message, Han Solo called, "That's it!" as he stood at the edge of the pit. In response, the sound of a macrofuser sputtered away. Leaning over, he put his hands on his knees, then extended an arm down to the person climbing out of the machinery, lifting her with little effort. It wasn't a difficult maneuver as there wasn't much to Sara Spaceskipper—'Spacer' for short. And short she was.

Almost as diminutive as the princess, Spacer was an ace rebel starshipwright who had volunteered, on her own time, to help Han and Chewbacca with the Falcon, jumping at the chance to work on the infamous freighter. Blonde hair to her shoulders was disheveled from the pair of welding goggles pushed over her forehead. Her skin glistened with grease and sweat from crawling around the tighter, smaller places that neither Han nor Chewie could reach. She wore shorts and a sleeveless scoop-neck top that only accentuated a bust a little too large for her small frame.

Not bad, thought Han, as he appreciated the scenery. Spacer had more than one rebel pilot howling at various moons on various planets, but none of them seemed to pique her interest. Han remembered the first time he had seen her, hanging around the ships on Yavin. She couldn't have been much more than fourteen standard. His second appraisal made him raise an eyebrow. Amazing what a few years could accomplish.

Then he scowled; it should have been Leia he was leering at. Mentally he fumed, angry all over again at the Alliance Council for putting the braking thrusters on his idea to let Leia help with repairs. Gods, that would have been such a sweet setup. Wouldn't have got much done, but he wouldn't have cared. Han fumed again, seeing Mon Mothma's complacent, triumphant expression when she informed him of the Council's decision. He was developing an increasing dislike for the rebel leader.

Despite his dark thinking, a warm smile appeared for the tiny mechanic. "Thanks for the help, sweetheart." He handed her a towel. "I couldn't get down there, Chewie certainly couldn't, and I wasn't about to trust a droid." Behind Han, a series of beeps, whistles, and indignant toots conveyed Artoo-Detoo's insulted positronic mind. The astromech droid rocked back and forth on two of its three feet. Han gave it a circuit-melting stare, then softened his expression. "I didn't mean you, Tripod!"

Spacer giggled at both the droid and the impossible image of the Wookiee trying to fit into the converter tube crawl-way. "No problem, Captain." She ran the towel over her face before laying the macrofuser on the deck. "It's an honor to be trusted with her. I've been itching to get my hands on this ship every since you first landed on Yavin. Can't believe some of the jury-rigging, though." Her head shook in disbelief. "I've heard the princess say that the Falcon was held together by luck, faith, and spiderlite silk; now I know she wasn't exaggerating."

Han smiled in a half-sarcastic grin, knowing how his one lady love thought about his ship, his other lady love. Leia had also once made the comment that perhaps she could get some attention from him if she were a liqui-glossed motivator. He briefly pictured her: tiny, feisty, stubborn...soft, warm, beautiful... Right then, he wanted to give her all the attention she could handle. "Necessity demanded it at the time, I'm sure," explained the pilot.

She accepted a frosted glass from Chewbacca's large paw as he patted her on the back in obvious gratitude. "You're welcome," Spacer said to his passing bulk. "Still," she continued on the subject of the engines, "that switch-over bypass on the cargo hatch actuator was a far-out gamble."

The Corellian almost preened, as proud of his jury-rigging as anything else. "Yeah, but it worked." But as Chewie returned, fixing a knowing sapphire eye on his captain, Han added, "Most of the time."

Spacer regarded him thoughtfully, easily understanding the attraction the princess had for him, though it was not Solo she herself was interested in. "You like to gamble with this ship, don't you?"

Han began picking up some of the scattered tools. "Hey, the way I look at it, a starship dirtside is safe, but that's not what they're built for, and this ship hates to be dirtside. I owe you one, Sara," he said, using her real name to make a sincere impression. "Don't hesitate to call it in."

She meandered around the room, getting a refill from the ship's galley and feeling decidedly relaxed. The potency and quality of the Falcon's potables were notorious throughout the fleet. "Maybe I will." She decided to take a gamble herself. "Was hoping you could tell me something."

Solo's inner sensors clicked on at the change in Spacer's voice. He hadn't stayed alive and one step ahead of trouble—most of the time—without a certain gift for reading people, for seeing the real message behind cover-up gestures and voice inflections. He also had a wealth of experience with the female of his species from which to draw. Her body language as she nonchalantly ran a finger around the rim of the glass was definitely predatory. He gave her a wary look from the corner of one eye.

"Rumors in the bays say that Commander Skywalker is going on a Force search. Any truth in it? I know you don't sit in on strategy meetings anymore, but you hear things."

Han visibly relaxed. Initially forcing himself not to smile, his eyes still flickered with amusement. Interesting, he thought, rather tickled at the idea that this blonde cutie apparently had a thing for Luke. Sith knew the kid needed a good...friend. For that matter, Han wryly realized, so did he! "Uh-huh, where did you hear that?"

"Like I said, rumors. You know how the ship undercurrents work. Well?"

The pilot sat himself in one of the chairs by the auxiliary cockpit controls. "Don't know about a Force search," he lied. "Would think our resident Jedi could call in sensitives like a nerf herder calling in the flock. Just send out a mental 'you're invited' or something." He was deliberately casual putting a wire back into place, knowing exactly where it went. "Nah, it's just a supply run."

She was not placated. "But Commander Skywalker? A supply run?" Less deceptive now and clearly concerned instead of conniving, Spacer wanted reassurance. "Even bay grunts know better than that. I'm just..."

Han looked at her, holding his hands as if looking for a cloth to wipe them on, then gave up and transferred the grease to the front of his shirt. "I know what you're 'just,'" he said softly with renown sarcasm. "And here I thought you hung around because of me and the Falcon." There issued a short comment from Chewbacca. "See, even Chewie thought it was him you had the hot afterburners for."

The mechanic had the grace to blush. "I did want to work on the Falcon...and...oh, everyone knows you belong to the princess, so...so much for your afterburners!"

Another snort and obvious snicker came from the depths of the cargo hold where Chewie was storing the new boxes of crystalline optic chips. Han meanwhile nearly choked. "I belong...?" Interesting way to describe the relationship. If he did, she certainly hadn't checked out the property lately.

His mood took an introversive curve, focusing on the feeling he'd had all night that Leia would appear. Han couldn't explain the feeling, but had learned to listen when his erratic sense of precognition decided to work, hoping it was right this night. He was not immune to Spacer's attractiveness. Her nearness made him ache all the more with the need to hold Leia, to possess her again; celibacy was not his long suit.

He belonged...kind of a nice feeling once he thought about it. Admitting it to anyone else was out of the question. "I guess you could say she's got first cargo pick. But, look, don't worry about Luke. He can take care of himself. He's even gotten me out of a few tight spots."

She paced the deck, again topping off her glass. Macrofusing in tight spaces was hot work. "I know, but with the bad luck the last two missions have had..."

As if a critical malfunction light had just flashed, Han glanced over to his copilot only to see the shaggy head come up to lock eyes with his captain. So in tune, they thought and reacted simultaneously at Spacer's mention of the failed missions. The human hazel eyes took on a dark gleam while the Wookiee blues were guarded and suspicious. The failed missions were a touch subject and Han had his own suspicions. Unbeknownst to him, he had come to the same conclusion as the Alliance triumvirate.

The tense moment was interrupted when Artoo suddenly began beeping excitedly. Han gave him a 'now what?' scowl, but then remembered a scheduled meeting. He checked the only working chrono on board. He smiled at Spacer; a sly twinkle that, as always, started in his eyes. "You're going to get the chance to ask the man himself. Luke should be here at any moment."

Spacer's blue eyes went nova. "I...I better go." She hastily put the drink down, realizing at that point just how much had gone to her head. Walking backwards, she pointed over her shoulder to the exit ramp. "I'm on early duty...very early duty."

"Careful..." cautioned the grinning pilot when she almost tripped over a missed hydrospanner.

As she bent over to retrieve it, the shorts hiking up about as far as they could go, Luke chose that propitious moment to arrive at the Falcon's ramp. Looking between her knees, Spacer could see his boots standing behind her. What she couldn't see was his raised eyebrows or delighted grin. The laws of physics and good manners demanded that she stand up and turn around, but when she did, miscalculating her balance because of too much Corellian libation, she smacked into the Alliance commander. "Oh, Luke," she hiccupped, brandishing the spanner, "er...Commander..." Silently she wailed, Oh, gods!

His hands instinctively went around her waist to steady her wobbling form. So encircled, she flushed a glowing rosy pink up to her ears. Luke caught an odor of grease, Corellian beer, and a spicy smell; unique enough that he knew it was her own individual scent. It was nice. In fact, most of her was nice.

"Commander," she repeated, "I'm so sorry. I didn't mean...I was just leaving." She gestured towards the ship. "Han, that is, Captain Solo and the Falcon were fixing my...I mean..." Meanwhile, Han stood in the corridor, chuckling happily. Luke still had his hands resting on her hips and the abbreviated top had pulled down, revealing ample cleavage. His eyebrows remained up as did the rest of him. "I've got to go!" Wiggling out of his light grip, Spacer fled down the ramp.

Unable to say a word, the stunned Skywalker watched her go, making his own way up the incline, not really paying attention to his progress. When he finally turned his head in the direction in which he was going, the graceful, agile Jedi Knight banged his head on the hatch rim. He stumbled into the Falcon, rubbing his forehead in embarrassment to see a gone Corellian leaning against the bulkhead wall in helpless, full-throated laughter.

All chance of a dignified exit gone, Spacer resignedly pulled down the shorts in the back and tugged the top back up to where it belonged. At the base of the ramp, she risked a look behind. With no one there, thinking herself unseen, she let the delight and excitement of her close encounter take over, smiling with an intense inner satisfied grin and hugging herself before leaving the repair bay.

But she had been seen. Arriving at the bay just in time to see the pretty mechanic exit the Falcon, the princess gasped, suddenly feeling as if someone had turned the gravity grids up to maximum. Stopping short, Leia ducked behind a pile of hull plates stacked on the freighter's main strut-work like sabaac cards waiting to be shuffled into place. She momentarily went numb, at first refusing to believe her gut reaction, and cutting off the image she had formed in her mind of Han Solo staked out over a boreworm mound. There was probably a perfectly logical, acceptable explanation...but what?!

Over the years, on several inopportune occasions, she had the uncomfortable timing to see other women leaving the Falcon with just that look: rearranging clothes and smiling from deep within. She knew that feeling; just thinking of him made her smile. But now she set her lips tightly. NO! There had to be another reason, she told herself firmly. Maybe...she threw that idea out as ludicrous; Spacer was not Chewie's type.

Realizing she was grasping at stardust, Leia attempted to calm her racing imagination. She needed to grasp at something, though; her thoughts were so jumbled. She wondered suddenly if her mental confusion was partly due to her newly acquired Force sensitivity. Luke had said she would unexpectedly 'feel things,' be unsure and hesitant, but she ought to be able to rationalize this.

Half of her wanted to march in and confront him. Need for him almost pushed her up the Falcon's ramp. Timeless, senseless pride stopped her. If Han had been unfaithful, storming in would only make things worse. The princess half-laughed at her choice of adjective: unfaithful. Expecting Han Solo to be faithful was...not unreasonable! Her hands clenched into fists as her emotions vacillated between righteous indignation and heartsick pain. How could he do this?!

Especially after...and again she thought of the cabin, triggering a wave of desire and remembered body heat that threatened to suffocate her with its intensity. "Oh, Han" was all she could whisper as she made the decision to leave.

In the corridors, Leia was an unstoppable force of her own, wanting the privacy of her quarters with an aching urgency. Alternately devastated, then berating herself for her lack of faith and trust, she traveled with fury, hurt, and regret right on her heels. She got to her door, wishing there was a way to slam it, and once inside, flung herself across the bed where Leia Organa, Princess of Alderaan, rebel, soldier, woman, cried herself to sleep.

 

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