Sunday, February 5, 2017

Valentine's Challenge 2017 Submission #6 by knitzkampf

Let me preface this by saying I can't do fluff! I can't. I tried, but I just can't write anything with them already together and happy. So this is different than the other wonderful offerings. It's got angst, but it still has love.

Princess Leia of Alderaan closed her eyes to the gentle glow of the Falcon's cockpit. Han had asked her to set the ship's chrono to Standard Time, and a blue glow emitted from the console, marking month and hour. She was deep in thought, thinking of time and space, together and separately.

Floating towards her, as if they were delicate molecules in space, she heard voices. The prissy, precise pronunciation of C-3PO and Han's warm, scoundrel's mumble. Listening, she felt herself softening. Han was irritated. Wanted the droid to shut up and let him work in silence, she could tell. She knew him so well, really. He snapped at her, too, but never to make her go away, which was what he wanted the droid to do now. No, he was always daring her to come closer.

It's what he had always done. Always, since she had known him. Then and now. For all their time.

So much time.

The prospect groaned inside her. If he couldn't make repairs, they would drift, in space, for how long?

Time had stopped for her. She knew the moment precisely. Couldn't set it on a chrono – she had been drugged, tortured, and had no idea how long she'd been a prisoner on the Death Star, but nevertheless, time had stopped.

She was nineteen when it happened. She still saw it when she closed her eyes, the fireball of dust that was her planet. She'd simply stopped. Frozen in time. It was how long ago? It didn't matter. The one strand of gray hair, the lines at the corners of her mouth were due to time. Even being frozen in time left signs.

Sweet sixteen and ne'er been kissed.

Her eyes jolted open. Where had that come from? Some silly saying, an Alderaani teasing, reinforcement of virtue and femininity.

But it had time in it. An age. Sixteen. She'd been kissed, she wanted to protest to whatever had put the thought in her head. Kissed by then, since then.

Sweet twenty-two and kissed deeply.

Tomorrow was Lover's Day.

Again, she shook her head, wondering what had prompted that thought. Ridiculous, that she should have gleaned that information from the ship's calendar. On Hoth, it would merely be the third day of the week, no special significance at all. On Hoth, where it was so cold, so perfect. Frozen, everything frozen. Mechanics malfunctioning, relationships not progressing. Frozen in place. She was comfortable there.

She was stuck on a broken-down freighter, for who knows how long; too long. They would move through space and time past Lover's Day.

He was giving her space. Time, too, perhaps. Which had stopped, twice now. Once in horror, so many lives snuffed in one single instant.

The second time in sweet seduction. Damn him. Time, his time, had been building to this moment. He'd known it. But for her, it came as a shock. Frozen, she'd always been able to hold him off, stop his progress, tell him not to love her. If she pictured herself, it was arms up, forging a barrier, preventing him moving through into her space.

The little cramped circuit bay. He finally managed to grab hold of her hand, she couldn't hold him back. His face was serious, earnest, smoldering. He'd liked being called a scoundrel, though. Seemed to enjoy it immensely. Her eyes on his lips, her heart thumping, thumping, beating time, a rhythm forward, thawing. She was twenty-two, stuck on a freighter, and tomorrow was Lover's Day.

She stirred a bit in the captain's seat, peering out the cockpit view port. The freighter too was in a cramped space, hunkered down deep past a cave entrance of an asteroid. The Empire was above them, time killers. She could hear the thumps of the bombs they dropped, destroying asteroids, trying to flush them out of hiding.

What had he done? Brought her out of Hoth, onto this broken ship, his ship, and it was warm, so warm. She would melt if she didn't get out of this snow suit.

His kiss had started time again. Brought total climate change. She smiled, regretfully, at that. Because she was warm now when once she'd been cold. So cold. Her chill covered everything. She was sure it was how they wound up on Hoth, the entire Rebel Alliance. Her touch turned all to ice.

Tomorrow was Lover's Day. She closed her eyes again and like a friend the moment everything died visited her. She was nineteen then and twenty-two now. She had a gray hair. Time hadn't stopped. She had stopped.

How sad, she thought now.

Han wouldn't know it was Lover's Day. He had his own methods of stopping time. Day after day of needing to leave turned into year after year. Three total now. Yet in his typical offhand way, he'd given her a gift of sorts.

For past Lover's Days she had received presents. Candies from her parents, bouquets from the adoring public that lined the streets. People that loved her but were not lovers. This year she had received a kiss, and space and time. And a day early, at that. She grinned softly, her knuckles in her cheek. Han Solo, gambler, had cheated time.

He was probably happy back there, about the kiss. The bastard. But the thought was affectionate. He had flown them into a cave, and anybody that followed had crashed and burned, and now nobody knew where they were. He had stopped time for all who were out there, so he could start hers again.

Something ticked in the cockpit. Her eyes sought it out. Time made noise, when you were counting it. So did bombs. But they counted down, too, didn't they? Was it a malfunction? Something else on this heap to be wrong?

C3PO's metal fingers had poked at Han's shoulder, like depressing a reset button. Stop the clock, turn off the alarm. Leia had never used hers much in her quarters on Hoth. What did she need to measure when there was no passage of time?

His voice back there, soothing. She could picture, it, as if it wasn't her shoulder his large hand rested on, as if it wasn't her jaw his fingers lightly brushed. Her hand held in his other. She could see her body, her back against the wall yet open to him, trembling. Wary, terrified in the knowledge he was going to kiss her, and she was going to let him.

His hands were on his ship now, just as broken as she. Maybe more. She realized he treated them the same. Like a lady. Except for the yelling and the cursing. But he loved them.

They were in trouble; there was no doubt about it. She had made repairs. Set Standard Time, gotten too warm in her snow suit.

But he couldn't get the hyperdrive back online yet. Said he might need parts, which of course did not exist out in the nowhere of space.

He was worried, she could tell. She had a sense he felt time was running out, that there was only so much he would be able to do before it all went up in a puff of smoke. The gambler's creed. So he set about kissing her and fixing the Falcon, make things as right as he could if he didn't get the chance to come back and finish it properly.

How sad, she thought again.

Destiny is your time to choose was an old Alderaani proverb. Alderaan had not chosen to die, certainly, but it had anyway. And she had stopped with it; not died, entirely, but allowed it, slowly. Like her hair turning gray; a gradual shift. She had invited Death in. And Han, Han was Life; knocking, merry, not gradual at all but sudden and spontaneous.

Destiny was fluid, he taught her. She had chosen once and she was choosing again.

He'd held her hand, kissed her. His gift came early, before Lover's Day. If they could just get away from the Empire, whether they flew off with the repaired hyperdrive or stayed hidden in this asteroid, then they would have all the time in the world.

He was giving her space, he started time, and she was warming.

Time was racing. She was twenty-two now, she had a gray hair, a man had kissed her because he'd wanted to for a long, long time.

The Empire was out there. They had to get away, they just had to. She was not going to let them stop her again. She would spend Lover's Day in a cave on an asteroid, or hopefully, in hyperspace, and the Empire was going to leave her alone.

A shadow crossed the cave. She sat forward, leery, used to being afraid. It's how she spent the last three years but this was new, this was different. Her heart raced, sweat gathered in her armpits. This fear didn't have the icy control over her.

A creature landed on the view port, rubbery, toothy, wings and tail. She heard herself make a noise, part revulsion and surprise, and dashed out of the cockpit.

Time was up. She needed to confront the captain.

"Something's out there," she ran up to him.

She almost expected him to give her a scoundrel's wink, that delicious half smile, say cheerfully, "I'd say there's somethin' in here too, Sweetheart." But all he said was "Where?" His hair was mussed, the goggles marked a line on his forehead, and he was intent on his repairs. He had done what he could for Leia, what he always knew he could do, if she would only let him, and now his focus was on his ship.

"Out there, in the cave," she declared. She was breathless, anxious. He was grim and determined, and all she wanted was to grab his elbow as he passed her. He was in motion, moving forward, and she thought to stop him; stop his time, so she could tell him. But instead she followed him, grabbing an oxygen mask, thinking there'll be time for that later.


  1. I'll say when she sent me this she wasn't sure if it fit the challenge, because they aren't like, blissfully and happily together. While yes that is nice, I think this fits just fine even though Leia still isn't entirely sure what is going on.

    I like the idea that it is Lover's Day and she is thinking of it even though of course in the middle of space most people wouldn't even notice. That Han gave her the "gift" of kissing her, even a day early. I actually think it's sweet that Leia has that sort of thought of something like that. And I always love Leia thinking about Han during this time.

    I also thought it was a fun surprise that it turned out she was having those thoughts while sitting in the cockpit when we saw her in the movie just before the mynock showed up. I totally wasn't expecting that for some reason, and I'm sure we've all wondered what she was quietly thinking about there and this I think fits pretty well.

    Great, and thanks for sending it in!

    1. Poor Leia, I think she has so much to think about, and then that scoundrel had to go and kiss her!
      Thank you!

  2. I love your take on what Leia was thinking about, sitting in the cockpit on her own, after *that* kiss. It is indeed romantic and very apropos of the challenge, I think, to explore that era when they're not yet together and still trying to figure things out.

    I loved Han's gifts to Leia: "a kiss, and space and time". How marvelous!

    1. Glad you liked his gift. :)
      I love this era, because it's so complicated with those two, between their own baggage in their heads and what's going on outside, the war and bounty hunters.

  3. I just realized I forgot to include the title. It's "Continuum."

  4. I loved this. I like the floating, reoccurring images of time, Lover's Day and heat that you weave. I also get the sense that your Han here has a bit more patience than we're used to seeing in him at this stage of the game. I feel like too often authors write the trip to Bespin as a hunt, like Han is ready to pounce now that he's got Leia trapped with nowhere to go. I don't get that feeling here. His endgame appears just to invite her in, kiss her and then let her figure herself out. I love that. It's a refreshing departure! Thank you for this, it was a lovely piece to enjoy early Monday morning!

    1. I've read Bespin fics where Han is more patient and I agree, I definitely prefer this as my head canon.

  5. So glad you liked it! To me, Han is patient, especially where it concerns Leia. And I was trying to foreshadow what happens after the trip, when time stops again, literally for Han, when he's frozen in carbonite.

  6. This was a lovely interlude with Leia and her thoughts in the cockpit. I chuckled at the bit about the Hoth cold keeping relationships from progressing. :) Favorite line: "Floating towards her, as if they were delicate molecules in space, she heard voices."

  7. What a lovely story. I like how you've woven the concepts of hot and cold as well as time starting and stopping throughout. This is a great little glimpse into Leia's innermost thoughts. Thanks for sharing!

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  9. Thank you for the tip about using an iPad, my comments are going through now. This was just lovely. Lelia's stream of consciousness was great, totally realistic in the flow of her thoughts. You should write about what happens on lover's day 😀

  10. I love the tick of time in the ebb and flow of your writing. It is a dominant feature in the background. This, as all your works, has that unusual dream-like quality.
    The idea that Leia has been removed from the hectic schedule of her day and suspended in time with Han is beautiful.
    Thanks so much for sharing.

  11. Knitz,

    May I just say how much I've enjoyed discovering your writing recently, and that this is no exception. As an aside: Fluff is woefully difficult, and I adore angst lol. I liked how you tied it in with Lover's Day but it was about more than that.

    The time theme was such an interesting concept, and you executed it well. I like how well you get into Leia's head here. It is a really great take on the interlude between the kiss and the mynock!

    Two of my favorite parts were:

    "Time, his time, had been building to this moment. He'd known it. But for her, it came as a shock."

    “He was probably happy back there, about the kiss. The bastard.” (This made me literally smile, I couldn’t help it. :) )

  12. Oh wow. I don't even care that this isn't fluffy; I dig it. I really love character analysis/inner catharsis, and the theme revolving around time stopping and restarting, all prompted by the simple act of resetting a clock, was incredibly interesting. And it was also great, if bittersweet, that you made this happen right before Lover's Day, with all the implications it has. I wonder what would happen the next day, if Han finds out.

  13. Yeah, it's not "fluff" like sugar puff balls of romance and sweetness, but I loved it anyway! I love the idea of Han stopping time for Leia a second time. The secondary image of her heating her up (uh, yeah... in more ways than one!!!) is also great. Your writing style is always so dreamy, reflective, and at times hallucinatory. It works for this, with Leia musing on the direction of her life and how it has been shifted through Han's actions. What I like about this one-shot is that even though it's all about Leia and her experience, Han isn't totally relegated to prop status. Han feeling that time is running out so he kisses her and fixes the Falcon to right as much as possible before he's out of time. Leia feeling that she's chosen once again, and her destiny is now going to shift. "Han was Life; knocking, merry, not gradual at all but sudden and spontaneous." Lovely. Just pure perfection! I really love the idea of these two sensing that their lives are intertwined with each other and that somehow they're meant to be, even while they make choices that bind them further together, even though they didn't have to make those choices, and yet they do. Love it!