Rating: R/M for mature themes and language
Setting: The Force Awakens – a missing moment situated between Han and Leia’s talk in the control room and their encounter before he leaves for Starkiller Station with Chewbacca and Finn.
* * *
He finishes with a satisfied groan. She’s cold when he rolls off of her, but not for long. He pulls the drab covers over them and wraps her up in his embrace. Her legs are still quaking from his relentless attention, and she can’t remember how long it’s been since she’s struggled so hard to catch her breath.
She’s surprised by how good it had been.
Han wipes at his brow, pushing perspiration-matted hair away. After a deep exhale, he says, “We still get some things right, huh?”
Leia half expects him to call her sweetheart, but it doesn’t come. She looks away, gripped by guilt. “I suppose it’s the only thing we ever got right.”
“Don’t say that.” His voice is tinged with hurt and maybe a little guilt of his own.
She mentally concedes that she isn’t being fair, but she can’t bring herself to say it. She’s caught up in the unbidden memory of the last time they’d done this. He’d been gone for a while but not long enough. It hadn’t been about the comfort of familiarity or the need to reconnect. It had been more about using the pain to remind themselves to feel. It had been an angry, ugly, cathartic fuck, an exorcism that prepared her to never see him again. She remembers being naked and alone, crying when he left, purging what little else of them that remained.
He had, too. She knew it the moment they saw each other again for the first time since, a few days ago on Takodana. The passage of time couldn’t hide it from his eyes.
Instead, she says, “Sorry.” One thing the passage of time has done is to shift her perspective. She isn’t angry any more. She’s grown out of the blame and self-loathing she was misdirecting at him. This time is better than the last, but she knows it’s fragile and she doesn’t want to break it, even if she doesn’t know what it means yet. She’s at peace with the fact that she has to let all that go if she’s going to bring their son back to the light. She needs Han to be on the same page.
Without looking at the chrono, she begins to pull away. “We have to get going.”
“We still have a few minutes,” he says, gently holding her in place. “Please.”
She’s afraid of where this is going. She doesn’t want him to break their uneasy truce, either. He had come to finish the talk they started in the control room. When words failed them, their bodies took over, an all too familiar pattern.
Caressing her cheek, he turns her face to meet his eyes. “I want to come home.”
She is blindsided even though she saw it coming from light years away. “Han, don’t.”
He presses a kiss into the top of her head, strokes her neck the way he always used to in their afterplay. “I mean it,” he whispers into her hair. With his breath, she feels strands dislodged from her braid wavering along with her resolve. She wonders briefly how many of them are gray. She feels a pang of regret as she thinks about his white hair, the lines in both their faces, the places where their bodies are no longer firm, and how they’re still beautiful beside each other despite it all. Damn it – they were supposed to grow old together.
She reminds herself that dwelling in the unfairness of the situation doesn’t change it. She’s been fine without him, and that’s what hurts.
She shuts her eyes. “I can’t…” She gets up, starts looking for her clothes. The dimness makes it hard to see what’s what on the floor, but she doesn’t turn up the lights. It’s not about modesty. It’s her naked heart she doesn’t want him to see.
“It’ll be different,” he says, propping himself up on an elbow. “I promise.”
She’s glad her back is to him. He can’t see the sad, bitter smile fighting for control of the corners of her mouth. She swallows. “I’ve heard that before.”
“I know,” he counters. “I don’t know what else to say. I miss you.”
She’s heard that before, too. She hesitates before turning to toss his underwear and the one sock she’s recovered onto the bed in front of him. “The smuggling business is that bad these days?” She starts wriggling herself back into her bra as he watches. She’s missed being watched.
“Yes.” There’s a surprising clarity to his voice.
She pauses in the middle of pulling a strap over her shoulder. This is rare, if not a first. His ego normally demands that he play it off. She used to think it was part of his charm, much as it always frustrated her. She isn’t prepared for this level of honesty from him. She recovers, continuing to dress. She chooses to say nothing. Predictably, her silence is all the prompting he needs to elaborate.
“You know how the universe tells you things sometimes?”
She doesn’t know if he means the Force or something else. “Mmmm-hmmmm,” she answers noncommittally. It’s the best way to get him to continue. She hears him rise from the bed. He’s behind her now.
“Well, it’s telling me it’s time to handle my shit.” He reaches past her to pick his pants up from the floor.
She doesn’t have the energy to debate the fact that she doesn’t want to feel like an obligation or a last resort. “I can’t keep doing this,” she says, having mustered the resolve to look him directly in the eyes.
They’d been over and over it before. The conclusion was always the same, and she knew she shared the blame. Her cosmopolitan existence hadn’t been enough to offset her youth. The man she thought she saw when she had looked at him was who she’d wanted him to be, not who he actually was. To be fair, he hadn’t even been the man he thought he was, either. He couldn’t be part of her world of politics and wars, and even in legitimate business he couldn’t stand to sit still. They were quite a pair: the restless spirit and the control freak. Blistering arguments led to his absences; his returns brought torrid reunions, forging forgiveness and eliciting promises to be broken by both of them. Eventually, the absences stretched on until there were no more reunions.
Goddess knew he’d really tried when the baby was born, Leia thinks, but even then she knew their domestic peace couldn’t last. Then Snoke…. Well, they just didn’t know how to talk to each other, how to help each other any more after that.
She shuts off the thought as he proffers her shirt. There’s no point in going over that again, either.
“You said yourself Ben is going to need both of us if we can get him to come back,” he says reasonably.
She takes the shirt from him. She doesn’t allow him to help her slide it over her shoulders. She can’t let him think she needs him. “That doesn’t mean you get to live here,” she says as she fastens it closed. There’s no anger or hostility in her voice. She’s very matter-of-fact, but she’s controlling again. She can’t stop it.
“I know,” he says quietly.
At that, she looks up at him. There’s something different about his eyes. How many times has he stood before her this way, shirtless and barefoot, swearing he was done with running? Why was she tempted to believe him now? What had changed?
Answering her unspoken questions, he slides his hands along her arms. “I don’t wanna be that guy any more.” She’s swallowed into his embrace before she knows it. He meets her gaze again. “Maybe you can love this guy.”
She almost breaks in that moment. She wants to tell him she’s never stopped loving him, that she knows he’s always loved her. She wants to say that she doesn’t blame him for the fact they could never figure out how to make it work, not with the two of them in the same place for very long.
Instead, she says, “I don’t want you here unless you want to be here.” There’s no accusatory edge to her voice any more. The time for that is long gone.
She’s also keenly aware of his gravity. She doesn’t want to get caught again. Making escape velocity from his pull was hard enough last time.
“I do,” he says firmly. “I’m ready.”
After a moment, she says, “I’ll think about it.”
The charming, lopsided smile she’s missed returns to his lips. It’s been years since she’s seen anything resembling happiness on his face. He bends down and kisses her. She’s almost lost in the way their bodies sway together for the first time in forever.
“It’s not a yes,” she reminds him, but it’s more to remind herself.
He squeezes her just a little more tightly. “It’s not a no, either,” he says against her mouth. “I’ll take it.”
He caresses her cheek as they disengage. “You’d better hurry,” she says. “Chewie’s probably getting annoyed.” There is much negotiation to be done, but they must hurry. Starkiller Station won’t wait. She and Han are on stolen time as it is.
“He’ll get over it,” he answers, tugging on his boots.
She smirks at that. She’s not the only one who’s had to put up with Han’s selfishness.
When he stands, he’s dressed but disheveled, his leather jacket carelessly shrugged over his untucked shirt. His hair is still mussed despite combing it with his fingers, though she supposes it would be hard for anyone not close to him to tell these days. He leans in for a last quick kiss before he goes. “Can we finish this when I get back?”
She fingers the edges of his collar. “Don’t make me regret this.” She intends to sound authoritative, but she recognizes her voice has been betrayed by love and affection.
He covers her hand with his and brings it up to his face. “Letting me come home?”
She doesn’t tremble the way she used to at the silky whisper of his lips against the heel of her hand, but she’s close. “Thinking about it,” she corrects him.
He presses his forehead against hers. She’s missed this, too. “Come see me before I go,” he whispers.
“I’ll try,” she promises quietly.
Her hand is inexplicably cold when he lets go, and he’s gone.
It takes Leia a moment to collect herself and restore order to her hair. Promises and hopes to the contrary, she doesn’t want to make another mistake by letting him back in. She reminds herself that all they have so far is an open line of communication facilitated by circumstance and guilt-fueled lovemaking.
She wants it all to be true. She wants them to be the people they should’ve been for each other all along.
But as she tucks the last pin into her hair, she’s plagued by the feeling that this has been the last time.