Leia spent the duration of the trip dozing off and dreaming of Han. She saw him smiling at her, pulling her into a protective embrace that caused a warmth to course through her entire body – a sensation she hadn’t felt in months. And once or twice, he’d say or do things to her that would cause her to blush when she awakened and remembered that she was in the cockpit of a Y-wing with a different Corellian than the one she really needed to see.
Wedge noticed her stirring and spoke, “We’re almost there, Leia. You should try to get down another ration bar before we land. I can’t be expected to carry you around the whole time.”
Leia laughed. “Don’t worry, Wedge. You just give me a little bit of hope and I can run a hundred kilometers.”
“Wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest,” he responded.
Leia did not particularly love the idea of going back to Coruscant, but this was the source of all of the unpleasantness that had been endured since her capture. It was the last place she’d seen Han alive. It seemed like just yesterday she was here doing pretty much the same thing: rescuing the man she loved.
They had landed near the Senate building, the place where Leia had been taken. Without knowing what she expected to find, she walked through the remnants, noting the debris still scattered about. The Imperial activity had moved away from this battle-worn area, so they were free to walk around without fear of being noticed. This side of the planet had been all but abandoned.
The vast building smelled of dust and stale air. It was eerie to look up toward the podium and recall all of the speeches and votes that had taken place there, only now to see it look like ruins from some ancient time. It hadn’t been that long ago.
That fact was made even more clear when Leia walked forward through what was left of the aisle. She remembered Han being in the second row of seats when she last saw him, lying on the floor. Bending to her knees at the spot that had been so clearly etched into her mind all this time, she placed her fingers on the floor and touched the spot that was red with what could only have been Han’s now-dried blood.
She swallowed down the lump in her throat, reminding herself that the absence of his body in this case was a good thing.
“Leia?” She heard Wedge behind her, keeping a careful distance and allowing her a moment to compose herself. He must’ve known what had caught her attention.
She wiped at her eyes to prevent the wetness from spilling down her cheeks before standing up and turning to Wedge, the fiery determination burning in her belly. “Do you think he’s still here, Wedge? Do you think he’s even still alive?”
The pilot shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. But I do know that I’ll help you do whatever it takes to get him back if we can.”
She smiled weakly. “Thanks, Wedge. So, what’s the plan?”
“Well, believe it or not, it seems that good ol’ Mon Mothma is an established leader here, if you can call it that. And by leader of course I mean that they treat her nice as long as she does whatever they tell her.”
Leia sighed. “Right. So I disappear and then they just take the first opportunity to surrender.”
“Well, technically, agree to a peace treaty, but pretty much, yes.”
“Great. So you want us to just waltz up there and ask to see her?”
“Leia, planning for stuff like this isn’t really my strong suit.”
“Right. I’m sorry, Wedge. I’m still getting used to all of this. Okay, let’s go to find a part of this planet that hasn’t been blasted to pieces.”
The two refugees flew back towards the Imperial Palace, where the new government was becoming established. Leia hadn’t had much opportunity to walk around without the fear of being noticed. While she already missed her long tresses, she was enjoying the fact that the short hair under her cap had left her virtually unrecognizable. Her hair always seemed to be the first thing people noticed about her.
At least, that’s what she thought. No sooner had they gotten out of the Y-wing and headed for the palace than a pair of stormtroopers looked up and she heard one exclaim, “Look, it’s that princess! I thought she was dead!”
“Not yet,” the other responded, raising his blaster. “But she’s gonna be!”
Leia froze, unsure of why she suddenly found herself unable to move. Then she felt the force of a large body ramming into hers and pushing her out of the way of the green laser bolt that had been headed right for her chest.
Wedge collapsed on top of her, only he wasn’t quick to get up. There was too much blood.
“Wedge, stay with me!”
His eyes looked up at her sorrowfully. “I can’t,” he barely managed to croak out.
“Not you, too, Wedge. Come on,” Leia said, trying to hold his head up but feeling it growing more limp in her hands. “I can’t take much more of this.”
“I’m sorry,” Wedge said in a whisper.
“No, Wedge,” Leia pleaded. “Wedge?”
His head lolled back and the life disappeared from his eyes. The pilot had always been a good friend to her, and at the moment was the only friend she seemed to have left. And now he was gone, too. What was it the universe had against her?
She rested his head back against the ground and willed herself not to cry. All of the tears had already been shed and there was nothing left. That, and two stormtroopers were headed straight for her. With a speed she didn’t know she possessed, she took her blaster and got both of them right between the eyes with two, quick blasts. She hadn’t felt that kind of fury in a long time.
She wanted to help Wedge, to at least take his body somewhere so that they could later honor his memory. But she heard more stormtroopers headed her way. Reaching down and brushing her hand along his forehead, she leaned in and whispered, “I’m sorry, Wedge. And thank you.”
She stood up and began to run.
Don't be mad at me for killing Wedge! Push made me do it, as that was her condition. To be honest, this was my second try at writing this chapter. She gave it to me and I was so unhappy with the first go at it that I asked her if I could try again, so I redid it. I wasn't quite sure what she meant by "the beginning" and initially sent them back to Tatooine. I don't know why. They wound up in a cantina and Wedge got shot. Push's first comment back was, "Wedge got taken out by random blaster fire?" Yeah, I couldn't kill him that way, so I tried to do a bit of a better job and she told me that she was thinking Coruscant so that's what we wound up with. I'm still bitter about her making me kill Wedge.