The older woman looked back at Leia with sadness and regret. Leia wondered briefly if someday she’d grow old and tired of fighting. She didn’t think life would be worth living if that was what she had to look forward to. Especially if that life didn’t involve Han Solo.
“Please, Mon. Whatever the risks involved, I’ll take responsibility.”
The woman heaved a sigh, and it seemed that she could surrender to more than just the Empire. “We must be careful.”
Leia felt her heart beating just a little faster at the possibility of seeing Han again.
Mon Mothma had supplied Leia with the simple, maroon robes that an aide of hers might wear. The hood would help conceal her identity, and all Leia had to do was keep her head down and try to contain the anticipation of having Han back in her arms.
They walked determinedly through the large building. This vast, stark place was used to house prisoners. It was similar to where Leia had been held on… where was she held, anyway? She realized she’d forgotten to even ask. Not that it really mattered.
They approached the end of a long hallway, manned with a single guard. With the new regime, there hadn’t been much worry of intruders. All of the fight had left them.
Leia kept her head down and tried to breathe evenly, willing herself not to lurch for the door. Mon Mothma had to do the talking. “We need to see the prisoner in cell 3487.”
The storm trooper looked up, then Mon held out her ID chip. He inspected it closely enough for Leia to take the opportunity to pull her blaster out and stun him before he knew what hit him.
The armored man hit the ground and Leia looked up to make sure nobody had seen before grabbing the key card from his utility belt.
Working fast, she ran it through the scanner and saw the door open, revealing a small, black cell without so much as a slab for a bed. The only light in the room came in through the door and Leia’s eyes were drawn to the figure lying on his side facing the wall with his legs curled up near his chest.
His feet were bare and he wore no shirt, exposing a back covered in the deep purple of healing bruises and a few red welts from other forms of torture. His hair was longer than she remembered it, but the dingy, once-gold stripes running down the sides of his pants made her certain that this was the prisoner she was looking for.
Her heart leapt into her throat and she realized that he hadn’t acknowledged her presence. She wondered briefly if she was too late.
“Leave me alone,” she heard him weakly mutter to the wall.
Leia moved closer, almost unable to believe the scene before her was real. Hearing the footsteps, he spoke again, a little more insistently this time. “I told you bastards to leave me alone. There’s nothing left for you to take from me. Just let me die.”
As Leia got closer and her eyes adjusted she could see the distinct outline of his spine and the ribs attached to it. He’d given up.
“Han?” She spoke his name much more softly than she intended, but the lump in her throat prevented her from saying it any more clearly.
She saw his head lift up just slightly, as though he was hearing something he didn’t think possible. She swallowed and tried to speak again, moving closer. “Han!”
He rolled over slowly, and she saw his face, haggard and sunken in under weeks’ worth of beard growth. But the hazel eyes looking back at her were unmistakable, and she didn’t think she had ever been so happy to see him.
She pulled back the hood that concealed her identity, and he looked back at her, still in shock. “Your hair!”
Leia laughed through the tears that had started to spill over, collapsing on her knees next to his emaciated body. “Look who’s talking,” she said, running her fingers through the tangled mop on top of his head.
She cupped his face in her hands and just looked at him. His voice was shaky and quiet, definitely not the cocky ex-smuggler she lost three months ago. “Is it really you?”
She brushed some unruly hair from his forehead, he was still lying flat on his back. “Scruffy-looking nerf herder.”
He smiled weakly and she leaned down and gently kissed his dry lips over and over. When she finally pulled away, she noticed the tears spilling down his face, mirroring her own. “They told me you were executed,” Han said in barely more than a whisper, reaching up a cold, clammy hand of his own to rest against her cheek.
“You should’ve known better,” she teased, pressing her hand to his. “Can you sit up? We have to try and get you out of here,” she said, placing her arms under his shoulders and helping to pull him into a seated position. It had been too long since she had held him in her arms, but she was shocked at the ease of lifting his upper body. And she wasn’t exactly at her strongest, either.
His eyes clenched shut and brought a hand up to his face. It seemed that he could relate to the dizziness and nausea she had been experiencing since her release from captivity. This was not going to be easy. Unable to hold back any longer, she leaned in and hugged him tightly, feeling his arms wrap familiarly around her and his head come to rest on her shoulder. He lacked the strength that he normally had, but her heart nearly melted in his embrace.
“Gods, I missed you,” she said into his neck.
“I didn’t think I’d ever get to see you again,” he replied.
She wanted to remain in his arms forever, but they still had some escaping to do. She finally pulled away and looked back at him, wiping the moisture from his eyes with her thumbs. “Let’s get you out of here and make sure you don’t have to miss me like that again, okay?”
Han simply nodded, and she stood and then leaned down and extended her arms to help him up.
He leaned heavily against her side, and she looked at this mangy man clad only in his spacer’s pants and realized that they couldn’t possibly get out of there like that.
“Mon!” Leia called out, just loud enough for her to hear at her post outside the door. “Bring that stormtrooper in here!”
Yay, Han is back! Finally, right? I told you we wouldn't keep him away forever. Even writing it I was dying to get him back. Push's condition to me was that if she found him, his first words to her had to be, "Your hair!" I didn't have to find him, but I couldn't take it anymore! I also sort of cheated, as those weren't necessarily the first words he said, but they were the first words he said to her, as in he knew he was talking to Leia. Anyway, whatever, he's back!