Han Solo was a man that could recognize trouble when he saw it. Some would say that was because he was trouble himself and it was easy to recognize one’s reflection in a mirror. Whatever the case, there was trouble waiting for him on the tarmac as he brought the Falcon down for a gentle landing. Trouble in all capital letters. Trouble in a deceivingly little package and a deceptively beautiful disguise.
Chewie warfled something from the copilot’s seat.
“Yeah, I know. I see her,” Han mumbled as he completed the landing and shutdown sequence.
Another questioning bark from Chewbacca and what could only be described as an amused chuckle.
“I don’t know. Nothing that I can remember. I’ve been off-planet for kriff’s sake,” he replied coming to his feet. “What could I’ve done?”
Chewbacca voiced his opinion.
“Funny,” Han mumbled as he turned to exit the cockpit. “I’ll go run interference. You come right behind when you’re done and save me, alright?”
The Wookiee chortled his response as Han walked away.
“You know I don’t even have that many credits!” Came Han’s reply as he walked away. “Besides, I always owe you. Why don’t you just stop keeping count already?”
Chewbacca said something about owning the Falcon one day, but Han didn’t even bother to comment. That’ll be the day!
She was waiting for him at the edge of the ramp as it touched down on the hangar floor. Definitely not a good sign.
“Hiya, Princess! Ya missed me?” He said, trying to keep things light.
“You could say that,” she replied, her tone serious.
That had not been the response he had been expecting. Either she wanted something or he was in more trouble than he had originally feared. Where the kriff is Chewie? “Oh, yeah?” He replied, guardedly.
“Can we talk?” She asked, motioning back toward the ship.
Dive for cover! Han’s innate survival reflexes were firing up like a repeating blaster. “Sure,” he replied calmly. He wasn’t a champion Sabacc player for nothing. He turned his body and held his hand up toward the ramp, inviting her inside.
She eyed him suspiciously as she walked by. Han was sure she must be able to smell his fear. He followed at a safe distance behind her and momentarily forgot his worries as he watched her retreating rear.
“Let me just warn you that I’m in no mood to joke about this,” she said as she turned around to face him.
Han had to lift his gaze up to her face and reorient himself to the problem at hand. Quickly he scanned his recent memory for anything that he was supposed to know about or something that he might be able to tease her with and came up empty. “Okay,” he said slowly. “Not joke about what, exactly?”
She began to dig in one of her pockets and again Han had to fight his ingrained response to pull his blaster on anyone that dug in their pockets during a standoff. But Leia wouldn’t pull a blaster on him. Any weapons she might have would be more damaging than any blaster, anyway.
“This,” she said, her voice almost a whisper and Han realized that she was upset.
He took the piece of flimsiplast and read it. Once he realized what it was he read it again and then once more for good measure. He understood what it meant. He even figured out very quickly when it must’ve happened. What he didn’t know was how to handle the situation with the awaiting Princess.
His normal response would be to make light of it and possibly tease her about consummating the deal. But he had already promised not to joke about it and as he glanced back up at her, he couldn’t help but notice how nervous she was. It was one thing to dish it out when he knew for sure she could handle it, but this would be like kicking a baby bat-falcon out the nest. He couldn’t remember ever seeing her looking so defenseless. Does being married to me really freak her out that bad?
“Well,” she said and he looked back up at her. “Say something,” she practically pleaded.
He looked back down at the piece of paper. Now was not the time to select his response from his usual repertoire. When had she ever asked me to say something and not shut up? He thought he might want to actually try and make her not regret the unusual request. “Well,” he started. “It definitely looks like the real deal.” Then looking back up at her, he said, “I’m guessing this is a little residual reminder from that botched mission on Atzerri?” Botched mission? Now, how was that for diplomacy?
He watched as Leia released a long breath, obviously relieved that he had not chosen the snide comments or innuendo that would be his norm. “That’s a nice way to put it,” she replied.
“I did promise to be nice,” he said with a smile. Seeing her relax brought the mischievousness out in him. “Still,” he started, looking back down at the paper. “That was before I realized that you were my property.”
“Your property?” She snapped and taking a step forward she snatched the flimsi from within his grasp. “Why am I not surprised that you would have such a barbaric view of marriage?”
Her fuse was way shorter than normal, he realized. Being Mrs. Solo sure didn’t set well with her. She turned to walk past him and storm out of the ship, but he caught her by the arm. “Calm down, Your Hotheadedness. I was only joking!”
“Exactly!” She replied, yanking her arm free. “Doing exactly what I asked you not to. Exactly what you promised you wouldn’t!”
Her eyes shimmered with threatening tears. She had swung so quickly from irate to distraught that he was momentarily stunned and then quickly felt guilty. “Alright, alright,” he whispered, grabbing her at the shoulders gently and bending down slightly to get to eye level with her. “I’m sorry. I was just trying to lighten the mood.”
“I’m not in the mood to be lightened,” she replied exhaustedly as her shoulders slumped and her chin drooped.
“Okay,” he said straightening up. “I realize that now. This is nothing we can’t handle. Nothing that can’t be undone,” he assured her. Quickie divorces were just as easy to get as quickie marriages, if not just a little more expensive. “We’ll just have to go back to Atzerri.”
“And how am I going to manage that?” She asked. “I can’t just disappear with you for no legitimate reason whatsoever.”
“You let me worry about that,” he said more confidently than he felt.
He pressed his finger on her lips. “I don’t want you to worry about this. I’m going to fix it. Do you trust me to fix this?” He asked, praying that she would say yes. Of course, the fact that he had never told anyone about that botched mission to Atzerri in the first place had bolstered her opinion of him by several parsecs, he was sure.
She seemed to consider his words. He could almost see her volleying back and forth between trusting him and opting for the title of widow instead. Finally she nodded her head very slightly and he removed his finger from her lips.
“Good,” he said, taking the flimsi from her. “Now, you go back and continue on about your business.” He used his hands to turn her toward the ramp. “Keep freedom free and justice just and all that.”
She turned as if to argue and he tightened his grip.
“Uh, uh, uh, no arguments,” he chided as he ushered her down the ramp. “Just sit tight and I’ll figure everything out.”
Once she had stepped off the ramp and her feet hit the tarmac she turned around and looked at him. “Fine,” she reluctantly conceded. “But I didn’t expect you to figure it out by yourself. I’ll see what I can do about getting us to Atzerri. I should be able to pull some strings.” She hesitated and then said, “I’ll probably regret saying this, but I feel better now knowing that we’ll figure this out together. That I’m not all alone worried about this anymore.” She hesitated again and said, “Thank you.”
“No need to thank me,” Han replied. “Working together. That’s what married people do, right?” He immediately raised his hands up in surrender as her eyes lit with the fire of fury that he could so easily coax from her. “Joking!” He said through a wide grin.
She glanced around to see who was near and when sufficiently satisfied that no one was in earshot, she took a step toward him and poked her finger in his chest as she said, “Listen to me and listen to me good, Solo. Laugh all you want. But if we don’t take care of this, you won’t have to worry about getting married or divorcing me because I’ll see to it that the galaxy is short by one smart-mouthed smuggler and believe me, no one will miss you!”
“Yes, Your Highnessness,” he replied. “I get the picture.”
She turned and walked toward the main corridor and he stood there and watched her for a while. Then glancing down at the flimsi in his hands, he turned and went back up into his ship.
“Hey, Chewie,” he called and the Wookiee roared in reply and came ambling down the cockpit corridor.
Chewbacca started to say something smart about how Han was back in trouble with the Princess, but Han cut him off by stuffing the flimsiplast into the Wookiee’s hairy palm.
“There,” he said brusquely. “Consider our debts squared,” Han added as he walked past his copilot down the curved corridor.
It was a bet they had made years ago when Han had been drunk and pining over the ever-unflappable princess. Han laid claim that someday, she would be his wife. Chewie had given him 100 to 1 odds and had gotten a belly ache from laughing at him. “Who’s laughing now?” Han called back as he slipped into the cockpit.