I've never been one of those guys who sits around and ponders the meaning of life. That's more like my brother-in-law. You might have heard of him; his name's Luke Skywalker. I've seen him argue for hours on destiny, the Force, and a Jedi's place in the galaxy. As for me, I used to believe that destiny didn't exist - that we make our own luck, and it all depends on nothing more than the roll of some huge heavenly dice. But now, after the events of the past few years, I'm not so sure. Anyway, I can tell ya this: trying to figure it all out is more of a headache than I'd volunteer for. So I guess that makes me wonder why exactly I'm sitting here doing just that.
Good question. And the only answer I really have is that I must be getting old. Or maybe Luke has rubbed off on me in the eight years since we've met. Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that Leia should be home soon with dinner and thinking always makes me hungry. I'm gonna go mix a drink.
Here, by the way, is our apartment on Coruscant - mine and Leia's, that is, and I'm just sitting here, waiting for her to get home. Thinking about destiny and the Force always seems to bring my thoughts back to her - but it's not like they don't go there naturally.
If, ten years ago, someone had told me that I'd actually care enough about someone else to rearrange my entire existence for them, the old Han Solo would have laughed in their face. Me, a hero of the Rebel Alliance? Respectable? Settling down with a princess? No way, I'd have said. I'm not that kind of guy.
If the old furball was here, Chewbacca, he'd give me some philosophical crap about life having different plans for us than we have for ourselves. But he's away visiting his family on Kashyyyk. And C-3PO - or Goldenrod, as I like to call him - is powered down in the bedroom because that rattle of his got on my nerves about ten seconds after I got home. So I guess that leaves me alone with my thoughts.
But not for long, because just as I'm thinking this I hear the combination being keyed into the door. I'm no Jedi, but I don't need the Force to know who's on the other side. Leia hesitates in the doorway for a split second before entering. The lights are dimmed, so I can't even see her face, but I know something's wrong. I start to move toward her, but she meets me halfway, almost in a rush.
"Sorry I'm late, but I had an appointment this morning, and then I had to stay late at the office -" I cut her off with a kiss. It takes her by surprise, but that doesn't seem to prevent her from enjoying it.
"Take it easy sweetheart." Now that she's pulled back and I see her face, I can tell that I wasn't quite right. She doesn't seem upset exactly; it's more like...flustered? That surprises me because Leia is usually anything but flustered. I start to ask her what's going on, but my grumbling stomach changes my mind and I say instead, "I just got home a few minutes ago anyway. And I'm starved. What's for dinner?" Those brown eyes of hers - probably the first thing about her I fell in love with - widen in horror and almost fill with tears. She claps a hand to her mouth and whispers from behind it.
"I forgot to pick something up..." Okay, now I definitely know something's going on. I've seen Leia cry before, but never over something as trivial as whether or not her husband gets to eat. We have definitely got to talk about these mood swings she's been having lately. I sling an arm around her shoulders and lead her to the couch.
"Hey, Princess, it's okay. Threepio can whip something up. No problem." Lucky for me, there is one thing in the galaxy Goldenrod is good for: he's an amazing cook. We figured out a long time ago that someone must have programmed him to do all kinds of household chores, because he's surprisingly good at it. Leia nods, makes a visible effort to pull herself together, and manages a smile as she goes to power him on and program him.
Half an hour later, after dinner is under way, I'm still completely in the dark. Leia's been so quiet all evening that I don't know what to think. And uncertainty is something I've never dealt with well. I figured she would tell me about whatever was bothering her when she was ready, but so far, no such luck. So I try the subtle approach.
"Leia?" She glances up from the food she's pushing around on her plate.
"Whatcha thinkin' 'bout?" Caught off-guard, she glances up quickly and looks away, her eyes refusing to meet mine. So much for being subtle.
"I'm just wondering how the plans for Luke's Jedi academy are going." It was almost a normal tone of voice, but I can barely keep my smirk from showing. Nice try, Princess, but I know you too well.
"How dumb do you think I am?" She sighs and finally looks into my eyes, and I'm touched by the conflicting eagerness and hesitation I see in their depths. I lean across the table to take her hand in mine. "Just talk to me, sweetheart." She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. Panic starts to take a hold of me. I try to rack my brain for anything that could have gone wrong in the past few weeks. Nothing. Finally her eyes open. She seems calmer now, more in control; and at the hint of a smile that touches her lips, I relax slightly.
"Han, you know that cargo hold in the Millennium Falcon?" Leia and the Falcon. Somehow I don't like those words in the same sentence. My eyes narrow suspiciously as I remember her previous comments about my ship. The words 'bucket of bolts' and 'hunk of junk' come to mind, but I nod.
"Yeah..." Her smile grows, but it's still a little uncertain. Without looking, I know she's twisting her napkin round and round her fingers under the table. It's a nervous habit she has, but she usually keeps it pretty well in check.
"Well, we'll have to fix it into a nursery." Huh? Is all I can think, but she's looking at me anxiously as if she's expecting me to do something. The tension in the room is so thick you can practically cut it with a vibroblade.
"Why would we need a nursery? Is someone having a..." I trail off as the realization hits me.
"Because I doubt you'd want to leave our children in Luke's capable hands when we travel." It takes a second for me to process that, and while that second goes by I stare at her in disbelief and she stares back at me with a hopeful expression that belies her casual words. Children. I'm gonna be a dad. All of a sudden, the guy who never cared about anyone for the first thirty-odd years of his existence is gonna have a little life depending entirely on him for everything.
It almost seems too good to be true, doesn't it? I mean, what did I ever do to deserve this woman and this future? I don't usually get modest, but the idea of having a child who's a part of both me and Leia, someone who combines the best parts of our souls with our most human faults...it's just so amazing that I'm speechless.
Leia's voice breaks into my thoughts.
"Han? What do you think?" I lean across the table to kiss her. It's sweet and warm, just like the promise of a future that we're destined to share together.
"I hope he has your eyes..."
A couple of hours later, me and Leia are lying on the couch. Her head is resting on my chest, and my arms are wrapped around her like I'm never gonna let her go. That's when the exact wording of her sentence comes back to me, and I jump up.
"Hey, Leia, did you say children?" Her eyes fill with mischief.
"As in plural?" She nods and grins.
"As in twins." Twins. We're gonna have twins. I can barely believe it.
"Are you kidding?"
"Do I look like I'm kidding?" She demands playfully, with one eyebrow raised, and taking a good, long look at her, I hafta admit she doesn't look like it. I glance down at her still-flat stomach and gingerly put my hand on it.
"Can I feel them yet?" She laughs.
"Considering the fact that it's been less than a month, I'd be a little worried if you could."
"But you can feel this," she murmurs, leaning forward again for another kiss.
I'll admit it, the thought of kids scares the hell outta me. I mean, I've been knocking around this galaxy for long enough to find out just how harsh it can be. Am I really ready to bring two other beings into it? What if I turn out to be a lousy dad and I can't prepare them for life? What if I can't relate to the Jedi powers they're gonna have?
Either Leia can sense my doubts, or she just knows me as well as I know her, because she looks up at me again and flashes that sweet, serene smile that so few people get to see.
"You are going to be a great father. They'll love you as much as I do." I grin down at her, confidence restored.
"Oh yeah? And how do you know that?" She shrugs and winks, in a fair imitation of me. And that's when I start to wonder if maybe her Jedi powers picked up on some of my previous thoughts.
"I guess you're just that kind of guy."
Original cover by Cereth. HTML formatting copyright 2003 TheForce.Net LLC.