The unhappily wed couple returned to yet another day of counseling. Han still wished he could figure that tiny and infuriating woman out, but he did notice that she seemed a lot less tense that morning. Perhaps it was the knowledge that there was no way that this day could be worse than the one before. He did not expect to be bombarded with intimacy questions on a daily basis, and surely the counselor did not expect them to complete their “assignment” immediately. Not that he wanted to, anyway, or anything.
Surprisingly, Han felt quite good when he woke up that morning. And Leia’s improved mood certainly helped. He and Leia were greatly relieved to learn that the subject of that day’s events would be effective communication with your spouse. Stating needs clearly, making sure that the other person understood where you were coming from, and generally staying away from topics involving sex. Also, the irony had not escaped him that he and Leia certainly could use some help on their communication skills, married or not.
The couples were seated, all of whom looked just as miserable as Han and Leia did. It seemed kind of sad in a way to be in a room surrounded by beings whose relationships had fallen apart. At least for him and Leia, theirs had never been a true marriage to begin with. Han didn’t really have any interest in getting married himself, but it was still a little sad to see a room full of couples trying to split up.
Amidst the sea of misery though he did eye an attractive woman in the midst of those miserable faces. He’d noticed her earlier, dressed in a frumpy manner and usually with her hair a mess and pulled back. It was apparent that nobody in the room put much effort into their appearance. But that day, this particular blond-haired, thin and fit looking woman had her hair down, long and hanging over her shoulders. Tasteful makeup adorned her face and she was wearing a relatively form fitting sleeveless shirt and tight pants with her boots. Han didn’t realize he was staring until he looked at her face and saw one of her blue eyes wink at him and he gave her half a smirk and looked away.
He remembered her introducing herself as Lohree on the first day. She looked to be a few years older than Leia, and more than a few centims taller. Her husband looked a few years older than Han and if he needed to guess Han would’ve said that he was probably a fairly wealthy man, because he certainly didn’t land that woman on his good looks. He was balding, sporting some fairly unkempt facial hair and acted nauseatingly placating toward his wife, while she remained to appear disgusted with him. Seemed a shame that such an attractive woman should be wasted on a fairly pathetic excuse for a man.
Hearing a deep breath exhale from the woman seated next to him made him recall why he was there as Leia shifted in her seat a bit. She hadn’t noticed the subtle exchange with the other woman. Han suddenly wished he could go back a few years and schedule some of his smuggling runs to land on this planet and stake out these conferences full of unsatisfied wives. Well, not really, as he had always had a policy against sleeping with married women…. unless he was married to them. But it sure was fun to think about.
“All right,” Ava began in her typically calm voice. “We’re going to do an exercise to help with our communication skills. I need some volunteers. So, Lohree, Kabe, why don’t you come up here?”
The blond and her significantly less attractive husband stepped to the front of the room. Han noted that Lohree looked especially irritated.
“Now, I want you two to sit in these chairs,” Ava indicated two chairs facing each other in front of the room and the couple sat down. “Take each other’s hands and look at each other.”
Lohree visibly rolled her eyes and Kabe looked basically helpless. Han wondered how much alcohol was involved in that particular decision to wed. Or maybe the guy was just that rich.
“I would like you to think of an issue you find yourselves arguing over that continues to come up that usually causes arguments. The trick is to discuss the issue openly and honestly, letting the other person air their grievances without interrupting, then coming back with your rebuttal but again, in a calm and reasonable manner. We do not want to use this as an attack on the other person. You need to start your discussions with, ‘I feel that…’ and then tell the other person how you feel about the situation. Do you understand?”
The couple nodded. “All right, then. Do you have an issue in mind you’d like to bring up?”
“I do,” Kabe said without hesitation.
“Good, go ahead.”
Kabe turned his attention back to his wife, who judging by the look on her face didn’t really care how he felt about anything. Although Han was having trouble concentrating on much aside from her long legs, one crossed over the other, in those tight, black pants. “I feel,” Kabe began, “that maybe you should consult me a little more often on what you spend my money on.”
“Your money?” Lohree began, obviously angered by the statement.
But before she could continue, Ava interrupted. “Now, see, this is what we don’t want to do. You don’t want to become agitated. This is how he feels about the situation, and his feelings are valid. Your job now is to tell him how you feel about it.”
Lohree rolled her eyes and sat up a bit straighter, attempting to compose herself. “All right. Well, I feel that as a married couple, what’s yours is mine and I should not have to ask your permission with every little purchase I make.”
Kabe’s face appeared to be turning red, and not in the adorably blushing way that Leia’s did, more in the kind of way someone’s face turns red before they go off in a fit of rage. “Well, I feel that maybe you should scrutinize your purchases a little bit more and maybe there is no reason for one woman to own eleven pairs of black boots on top of several dozen other pairs of footwear.”
“And I feel…” Lohree started and the conversation went back and forth much the same for several minutes, each half of the couple becoming more and more agitated and visibly holding back tempers, speaking the words through clenched teeth. At one point Lohree even pulled her hand out of what had presumably become the uncomfortably tight grip of her husband.
Well, the woman might have been undeniably attractive, but Han was sure that he wouldn’t have wanted to spend more than a couple of maybe sweaty, naked evenings with her if this was what she was like outside the bedroom. Sadly, that was not why they were there. Still it seemed interesting that his actual princess at least wasn’t some sort of entitlement princess.
Before one of those poor people’s heads popped off from trying to hold in the rage, Ava told them that they could stop and then asked them to kiss, which they reluctantly complied to. She then told everyone to choose a topic with their own spouse and attempt the exercise themselves and she would come around and observe.
Han and Leia turned their chairs toward one another. “What do you want to talk about?” Leia asked in a surprisingly cheerful tone. Maybe the worst of this was behind them.
“We could make something up, maybe. Like maybe you’re a total slob or a terrible cook and don’t know how to be a good wife,” Han winked at her and he realized he missed this kind of light hearted teasing.
Fortunately, Leia’s sense of humor seemed to have returned. “You know I can’t cook anyway. What about the Falcon?”
“What about it?”
“Well, maybe I feel,” Leia began in a tone that showed that she was somewhat mocking the exercise, and the half smile on her face put him completely at ease, “that a good husband doesn’t fly his wife around in an old, junky freighter.” There was a mischievous sparkle in her eye that made it impossible for Han to actually get mad at her right then.
Still, it seemed like a good topic to bring up. They could certainly pretend to get themselves worked up over it, and the whole point was to prove that they had multiple issues that could not be resolved that meant that they did not make sense as a married couple. “Oh, yeah?” Han replied, getting himself into his indignant character, “Well maybe I feel that a good ship is hard to find and once you find one that works, you stick with it.”
“And I feel that…” Leia began but then Ava stopped by and reminded them that they needed to join hands. It seemed like there were worse things in the universe, but Leia didn’t look thrilled when she reluctantly slipped her hands into his. Han noted that there was more than one reason to call her the ice princess as she continued her rebuttal. “Well, I feel that a ship that breaks down constantly and risks the lives of its inhabitants maybe needs to be replaced.”
They went back and forth for a few more minutes of good natured arguing. It was mostly things they’d said or thought before. The truth was, after that ship being the one that rescued Leia in the first place and guiding them through many successful missions, Han knew that Leia had taken a liking to his old girl. He no longer took offense to her arguments since he’d heard them all before, but he tried to act offended as they continued their back and forth. This was the kind of thing they could handle. And he couldn’t help but notice how her hands had relaxed in his grip.
“All right, have you all said what you needed to say?” The room became quiet as all eyes turned back to the counselor. “Now kiss each other. We never want to walk away too angry.”
Slowly the couples around them leaned in for kisses of vastly varying degrees of length and enthusiasm. Han had already noticed several couples that were quite obviously being helped by this little counseling session. His eyes turned to Leia, who looked at him far more matter of factly than he expected. Perhaps after waking up nearly naked in bed with him, the idea of a quick peck on the lips didn’t seem quite so terrible. Rather than tease her, Han simply asked, “You ready?”
He caught the slightest hint of red creep into her face as she shrugged her shoulders. “Just make it quick.”
He half smirked at her and then leaned in and kissed her gently and far too quickly. Fortunately, she didn’t look appalled. Realizing their hands were still joined, Leia suddenly pulled hers away as they turned their chairs back toward the front of the room. It wasn’t much of a kiss, but Han had to squash down the feeling that he’d like to try it again. And maybe a few more times after that.
The rest of the day was spent listening to Ava discuss effective communication. If anything, at least now Han would be prepared if for some reason somewhere in the future he decided to get married. Although being surrounded by mostly unhappy couples wasn’t exactly a ringing endorsement. He was, however, relieved that he and Leia had made it through a day without encountering anything horribly awkward. They might even have a pleasant evening. Leia had even apparently loosened up enough that she didn’t make a big deal over a little kiss.
They stood to leave and Han leaned down to tell Leia, “I’m gonna go use the ‘fresher before we go. I’ll be right out.” Leia nodded and he disappeared down the hallway. After taking care of business, he ran into Lohree on her way out of the women’s side. The ‘freshers were located in a small corridor all by themselves and the two were apparently alone.
“Sorry about that,” Han said as he stepped aside to let her by.
“Oh, don’t worry,” Lohree said, her eyes sparkling up at him. Han recognized a flirtatious look when he saw one, and this one made him stop in his tracks. “Wait a second,” she said as she reached over and grabbed his forearm. Her eyes went down to her hand and she hadn’t released her grip. “Wow,” she said. “You feel a lot stronger than my husband.”
Han couldn’t decide whether to roll his eyes at this woman’s blatant come on or to take her back into the ‘fresher and give her exactly what she wanted. Unfortunately, he remembered that Leia was currently waiting for him. Wife or not, he didn’t think that would go down too well.
“Yeah, well, your husband looks inadequate in quite a few ways,” Han replied, grinning back at her. Might as well have a little fun with her anyway.
She giggled and twirled her hair with the hand not currently gripping his forearm. “You have no idea. Listen, if you ever need some time away from your wife and to talk to someone else, you just let me know, okay?”
Han nodded. “Absolutely.” She slowly released her grip on him and then made a point to slide her hand along his back as she walked away.
Damn, how long had it been since he enjoyed the company of a woman? He was too embarrassed to think about it. Gods, women were infuriating lately.
Shaking his head, he walked off toward where Leia was waiting. “Ready to go?” she asked.