Enroute to Endor
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What thing is love? For sure love is a thing
On board, Leia, Luke and Chewie worked in the main hold, going over landing plans with the flight team. They had approximately five hours left before their estimated arrival time at Endor, hours for sleeping, eating and a few Sabaac games. Some of the men had already begun cooking their ration meals for the mid-day meal and now a steady steam drifted up from a corner stove filling the cabin with a warm aroma.
Leia glanced up from her data pad as the noise of the first Sabacc game brought her attention forward. She wondered why Han wasn’t among them. Normally he would have jumped at the chance to show off his card playing skills. Leia had to admit that Han was an excellent player, even if they shared little in common with the game.
Leia moved aside as she spotted Luke coming towards her. He pulled a gear bag down from above her head and rummaged through its contents.
“Have you seen Han?”
Luke looked over his shoulder, “Not back here.”
Tucking the data pad into a cargo net, Leia eased to her feet. “I’ll go see if I can find him.”
Luke smiled to himself as she left. It was entertaining to watch this new side of Leia, this open concern for Han. Long before Obi-Wan’s revelation about their shared parentage, Luke had made peace with his past infatuations with Leia. He could not specify the moment or the exact image, but he knew it had something to do with his visions on Dagobah. Amidst the broken pictures of terror and anguish in Han and Leia at Cloud City, the dream had shown fragments of relief and love in a distant foretelling that Luke had been too traumatized at the time to recognize.
Now he understood, and he was joyous to see continued progress between his sister and his best friend. He hoped he lived long enough to see it come to fruition. But that was another matter entirely.
Finally locating the device buried deep within the bag, Luke repacked the contents and joined the men looking over the Death Star plans.
Leia’s search did not take long. Han was sitting in the cockpit, looking studiously over maps and flimsies spread out over the control panel. A stylus rested between his teeth allowing him free use of his hands to rotate his radius compass over the latitude lines on a map of Endor. His eyebrows furrowed with concentration. He had not left the chair since their departure from the Mon Calamari cruiser back at Sullust.
Han was trying to scope out a better landing. This mission was crucial, and not just because it was his first assignment. Han felt the need to prove his caliber - that his rescue had been justified - to the alliance, to Lando, and especially to Leia. It was a rare feeling for Han, this sensitivity to the opinions of others. He vaguely heard the cockpit door hiss open and shut as someone walked in. Soft, warm hands fell on his shoulders.
“Hey, you’re still here?”
Han nodded absent-mindedly, removing the stylus from his mouth to mark the point he had just calculated, “Yeah, just wanted to double-check a few things.”
“Do you want some help?”
“No…but thanks.” Han looked up at the windows, titanium framed shapes of blackness “Well, not unless you can see through hyperspace and tell me if my ship’s okay.”
Leia laughed lightly and began smoothing Han’s rough shoulders with her hands. The muscles were still tight and stiff from his recovery from the carbon freeze. “You’re still worried about her, aren’t you?”
Han nodded, “Don’t ever let me loan my ship out again Leia.”
A small spark passed through Leia’s petite frame. It thrilled her to hear Han call her Leia as opposed to one of the many pet names he’d assigned to her over the years. Even though they’d been back from Jabba’s for several days - plenty of time for her to hear him say the expression dozens of times - she did not think she would ever tire of it. It bespoke a new level of familiarity between them, a closeness that she savored and cherished. And in spite of the fact that they had not been physically intimate yet, Leia knew it was only a matter of time.
Leia’s hands felt marvelous to Solo. Groaning softly, Han relaxed and leaned back against the chair, allowing her hands to work on his neck. For the hundredth time, Han silently cursed the lack of time they had available for each other. He missed her. He reminded himself he was content with just her company, thrilled beyond belief that she had rescued him, still loved him, and now was risking her own life to help him with this mission. His mission. But he wanted more, wanted her physically with a patience he had never shown any other woman. And it went beyond that. Thoughts of spending years, perhaps the rest of his life with one woman, were not nearly as frightening as they used to be. The idea was incredibly appealing when it came to Leia.
Leia leaned further over Han to look closely at the charts, her hands pushing deep against tight knots, “What have you got mapped out?”
Solo didn’t move. Keeping his eyes shut he responded huskily, “As long as you keep doing this for a little bit longer, I’ll fill you in later.”
Leia grinned, “I expect more than that.”
Han looked up into Leia’s face, a wicked glint in his eyes. “I’m counting on it, Sweetheart.”
Leia had to breathe carefully through her nose to mask the upsurge of flames coursing through her body. She realized her efforts were useless as she felt the warm redness race across her cheeks. Han’s comments and touch had always set her on edge, except now that edge was a breathtaking vista beckoning her down into the warm darkness below.
As if sensing her thoughts, Solo sat up abruptly, closed his books and maps, “I think this calls for a break.”
“Isn’t that what we’ve been doing?”
“Not exactly” Solo reached behind him and snagged Leia by the waist, pulling her into his lap. Resting his head against her forehead, Han’s voice dropped slightly, “This is more what I had in mind.”
Leia gave herself up to this small moment of closeness with Han’s strong arms around her. There was still so much to do before they landed, but it could wait. How many times had she wanted to cuddle with him in the Falcon’s cockpit like this? No. How many times had she dreamed about it and then pushed the desires away, dismissing them as foolish? More times than she wanted to count. But not now, and certainly not in the last eight months. Leia had faced her fears and swore to herself she would never cower again.
Han’s hand came up to smooth Leia’s partially exposed neck, letting his hands linger over the yellowed spots. “Looks like the bruises are almost gone.”
“You keep inspecting me.” She knew the bruises bothered Han. He blamed himself for Jabba’s actions. It would help them both to put the episode in the past once all the marks had healed. Leia teased, trying to make light of the situation, “Is this a possession thing? Do you expect me to look perfect all the time?”
“I don’t know about perfect.” Han leaned down and gently kissed the faint smudges, “But yes, you are mine.”
Leia pushed back on Han’s chest in playful protest and squirmed to get away, but Han held fast and continued his tender kisses along her neck, moving upwards to her chin. Leia sighed and easily gave up the struggle.
Han’s hands moved to Leia’s hips and began a soft exploration. His mouth eased along her cheeks, her hairline, the sides of her lips, Leia glanced up quickly to ensure their privacy and realized the problem, “The door didn’t lock. I think it’s broken.”
“Damn imperial ship.” Solo kissed the princess’s forehead again before moving his lips over her own. “Then we might have to be faster than I thought.”
Leia whimpered, slowly opening her mouth to Han’s as she pressed her body as close as possible in his embrace. Han gathered her against him tight, smoothing one hand up over Leia’s back, into her hair, the other tracing soft circles at her waist. Gently dragging his mouth across hers, he tasted her again with his tongue, and Leia felt a cry rise and release in her throat. She wanted all of this man.
She wanted to give. No one else had ever made her so desperate to give. Whatever she had. Whatever he would take. Past Rebel missions, her father, the Senate, they all seemed inconsequential compared to what she felt now. It had been such a frightening feeling before. But now she understood. Through all the horrors and miseries of her life, this—the warmth, humor and strength of this man—was healing her.
Han pulled back and pressed his face to her shoulder, breathing deep. He had to get his head in control again, had to focus. His thoughts returned to the upcoming mission and the sudden realization of what could happen to those he valued, what might interrupt this wonderful, incredible feeling between him and Leia. He spoke suddenly, “Be careful down there.”
Leia frowned, “Of course.”
Han took her face in both of his hands, his hazel eyes probing deep, “I’m serious about this. Stay with me the whole time. I hear those forests on Endor are pretty thick. STs could be anywhere.”
“Why would I leave the team?”
“I don’t know.” Solo gestured with his hand. “Just be careful. That’s all I’m saying.”
Leia looked down at her lap, “I didn’t save you from Jabba only to end up dying in some forest.”
“And I didn’t accept this general stuff for a one time deal. I’m betting this mission will end, and when it does, I want you there with me. Alive. And possibly alone with me on my ship.” Han picked up Leia’s hand and brought it to his mouth.
Leia leaned forward, bringing her nose against his “I’m counting on it.”
Grinning at Leia’s sense of wit, Han felt sublimely happy. Cupping her cheek so her eyes met his, Han opened his mouth to speak. Before any words could escape, Luke’s voice and swish of the cockpit door had Han sharply turning around and Leia jumping off his lap.
“Oh…sorry to interrupt.” Luke cleared his throat and stammered, trying to look at anything besides the two faces in front of him, “Leia, some of the squad team want to know the details of the debriefing you …um…had with Ackbar.”
Han’s look of protectiveness quickly turned to one of indifference, “Yeah, thanks Luke.” He turned to Leia, “You better go.”
Leia nodded, still looking at the ground. Han felt irritated. Why would she care if Luke saw them together? A fiery spark of jealousy and rage coursed through him, bringing back insecurities he had not thought about since they had left Tatooine.
Leia moved past Luke, resting her hand on his arm and turning to look back at Han, “I’ll see you both later.” She smiled and was quickly gone.
“You know I haven’t had a chance to tell you how much Leia was pushing for your rescue while you were with Jabba.”
Han stared quietly for a moment at his old friend. Then swiveling his chair back to the control panel, he shrugged off any comment.
Worried he had said the wrong thing, Luke tried another route of reassurance. “You should have seen her Han. I don’t know all that happened between you two on the way to Bespin but it obviously made an impre—”
“Look, Luke,” Han spoke abruptly, keeping his attention on the control panel “I’ve got a lot on my mind right now. Can we do this later?”
Luke smiled, “Sure, Han. Another time.” Gesturing to pat his back, but quickly deciding against it, he withdrew his arms and left the cockpit.