June 27, 2000
Summary: Takes place just before the ceremony on Yavin's moon at the end of "A New Hope".
Disclaimer: Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Princess Leia belong to George Lucas. I'm only borrowing them for the evening.
Han stood up. He took a deep breath and faced Chewbacca with an impatient expression.
"I'm going for a walk."
Chewbacca responded with whiney grumble.
"I know the ceremony is about to begin, but we've been waiting here all afternoon and I don't feel like sitting around anymore. I'm going to see if I can find Luke... or somebody who can tell me why this is taking forever and a day," Han grumbled back.
The abandoned temple which was serving as the current rebel headquarters was an ancient stone structure of immense size. As Han ambled through the vast empty corridors he started to think venturing out of his chamber unescorted might have been a bad idea.
But even this was better than just sitting there, waiting, with nothing to do but concentrate on keeping himself clean and well-pressed. No, it was good to get out of that room. Besides, Chewie kept shedding on his vest.
He turned up a smaller corridor, hearing faint voices at the opposite end. A young woman in a utility uniform approached him. She gave him a quizzical look.
"Are you lost, Sir?"
Han stopped walking and faced her. He straightened to his full height and shook his head indignantly. "Of course not," he informed.
"Are you looking for Princess Leia?" the woman amended.
Han's eyes lit up. "As a matter of fact..."
The woman smiled warmly. "You were heading in the right direction. The second chamber on the left, just up the hall."
Han returned the smile. "Yeah, the princess. I wanna see the princess." He turned from her and gazed in the direction she had indicated.
Leia looked up at the sound of someone knocking on the door. She turned around in her chair and frowned.
"Shall I get that, Your Highness?" her assistant asked.
"No, Genna....COME IN!....Keep working on my hair, we're running late as it is," Leia instructed. She faced the door. "COME IN, I SAID!"
The door opened slowly. Han Solo, of all people, stuck his head in. His eyes swept over her appreciatively and he offered her a crooked grin.
"Your Worship, very nice, very...elegant. Your 'Prince Perfect', whoever he is, will be impressed."
Leia realized her mouth was hanging open and quickly snapped it shut. "There is no...prince," she muttered, smoothing the bodice of her white gown distractedly.
Han beamed back at her. "Really? Isn't that interesting? A beautiful princess in need of a prince."
Leia turned away from him just in case she blushed at his compliments. "What are YOU doing here? You're supposed to be getting ready for the recognition ceremony," she said a little too sharply. She took a deep breath, ordered her heart to stop racing.
Han feigned insult. "I am ready," he declared, stepping all the way into the room and closing the door behind him. "I've been ready." He spread his arms and turned around for her. "What d'ya think?"
Leia fought a smile. "Nice. Now if you'll excuse me......as you can see, I'm getting my hair done." She gestured slightly behind her to the tall woman plaiting her long brown hair.
"I don't mind," Han said, stepping closer, "If your servant doesn't mind."
Leia sighed. "Genna is not my servant, Han. She's a personal assistant. I don't...." She paused, catching Han's condescending smirk. She turned to Genna. "If you'll excuse us for a moment, please," she murmured.
Genna nodded and hurried out, closing the door behind her.
Han had inched his way to the edge of Leia's dressing table and leaned his hips casually against it. He crossed his arms over his chest in contentment. Gods! She just kept getting better looking everytime he saw her. Gazing down at her the way he was, he realized just how lovely she was. How womanly. He felt privileged to see this side of her as well as the no-nonsense, all-business-rebel-commander-side of her. He found he liked that about her. She was strong, but still feminine. She was unlike any woman he had ever met before. Courage and beauty in one tidy, intriguing little package. He sighed with approval.
Leia tried not to look at him directly, but it was hard. He really did look nice. Quite handsome in fact, but she wasn't about to tell him that. He always acted as if he knew that already. He was too cocky as it was. He probably had dozens of women swooning over him daily, telling him all that and more. But Leia knew there was much more to him than he liked to let on. Feelings, loyalties, and principles that ran deep and rooted themselves irrevocably in his psyche. Leia could tell all this just from looking into his eyes. His eyes were deep and dark and expressive. She sighed in spite of herself. He could imprison her with those eyes. He had an intense and alluring gaze that promised strength and intelligence and tenderness all at the same time.
Leia cleared her throat. She knew she was blushing now. More at her own wandering mind than anything Solo had done.
"What do you want?" she managed and glanced up at him briefly.
Han shrugged innocently. "Just...wanted to find out why the hold up...you know. On the ceremony." He picked her hair brush up off the table and studied it. "Now I know. " He leaned towards her slightly. "You look fine, so can we just get on with this thing, huh?"
Leia narrowed her eyes at him. "Captain, I apologize for the inconvience I am causing you, but I'm a little more involved in the strategic planning of this rebellion besides waiting around in formal wear to present the occasional medal to the esteemed few."
Struck by her harsh tone, Han veered as far away from her as his precarious perch allowed. "I didn't mean it like that, Princess. Don't be so quick to jump to conclusions."
"And what conclusions am I jumping to?" she snapped back, locking her eyes with his. "You march in here uninvited, then start complaining and insulting me--" She stopped suddenly, realizing she was looking right into those liquid brown eyes of his and then promptly forgot why she was angry.
"Insulting you? I did no such thing! And I was too invited! You said 'come in.' "
Leia took a steadying breath. "Look, will you just go.....please, so I can finish my hair and then we can get on with this ceremony?" She turned around and faced her reflection.
Instead of leaving, Han straightened and came up behind her. He brazenly began running the hair brush slowly over her head, following the silken cascades past her shoulders and down to her waist. His face was completely expressionless as he set about his task with earnest concentration.
"I can help," he offered.
Leia watched him dumbfounded. "H-Han....."
"It's all right," he whispered. "You look just fine. You don't need to do anything. To look better, I mean." He reached forward and lifted the hair from her back, brushing her bare neck with warm fingers.
Leia skin tingled where he had touched her.
"Captain...I don't think--"
Han wasn't about to let her think. He was enjoying himself too much. "I bet you never wear your hair down. You don't realize how pretty it is...loose, like this." Han caught a lock between his thumb and forefinger and stroked it languidly.
Leia could feel an uncomfortable heat spreading through her body at an alarming rate. She struggled to detach herself emotionally. "Well, it gets in the way. I have to keep it pinned up," she rationalized.
Han leaned over her shoulder, and gazed at her reflection. Their eyes met and he smiled slowly. He turned his head until his lips were almost touching her ear.
"Then why do you wear it so long?"
His breath tickled her and she squirmed slightly, breaking the spell of intimacy he had cast over her. She stood up and sidled away from him. She took a deep cleansing breath, feeling able to breathe freely for the first time in a long time. She held out her hand for the hairbrush which he reluctantly surrendered to her.
"I remember my...mother...always wore her hair long. I wanted it to be like hers, I guess," she said, faltering somewhat. She looked away, feeling exposed and vulnerable. She wasn't used to feeling like that and it made her uncomfortable. HE was making her uncomfortable. He was making her feel all sorts of things she had never felt before, and he wasn't even doing anything. He was just standing there. She wished he would go away.
She forced herself to look at him. She sighed softly. He was very handsome in a rakish sort of way. It was mysteriously appealing to her. And confusing. She didn't want her face to betray her thoughts and deliberately steeled her expression. He seemed to have no such qualms, however. The way he was looking at her was very unnerving. Predatory, was the first word that came to her mind.
"I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship," Han sighed.
Leia stared up at him. She nodded slowly in stunned silence.
Han bowed slightly. "I'll go now. Catch ya later," he said smugly and winked.