Monday, July 3, 2017

Mother's Day Challenge Submission #10 from OtterandTerrier

Proof that there are no deadlines for challenges:

Either Way
A/N: My impossibly late entry to the Motherhood Challenge. Just a heads up: there are no children here, but a possible pregnancy and the discussed decision to terminate it should it be confirmed, so if that’s not your thing and you want to skip this story, feel free to do so. Many thanks to Erin for the helpful suggestions and to GCFB, who heard this first and encouraged me to write it, as well as putting up with my extensive discussions about contraceptive methods.
:::::::::::
Twelve days.
She was lying back on the lounger, staring up into Han’s eyes, dark in the shadows of the living room, limbs locked together, his breath heavy on her chin, and the only response in her mind for his questioning gaze was Twelve days, Han.
They had been apart for a week, pulled away by the ongoing efforts of a war that seemed  unending. She had tried to ignore her suspicion, rationalize it, compartmentalize, not knowing how long she could continue to fool herself before she had to face the facts.
Then Han was home and she wasn’t thinking about it; she was thinking of how much she’d missed him, and how warm he was, and how good his wonderfully talented tongue felt on her mouth, her neck, her breasts—
—which had lately become sensitive even to the mere contact of her bra, and which had just now made her yelp and flinch in pain, to Han’s concern.
‘I’m late,’ she blurted out, watching Han’s worried face transform into bemusement.
His eyes roamed the room, obviously searching for a chrono. ‘What? Where to?’
Great. She’d spent days telling herself that there probably was nothing to worry about, nothing to talk about, no potentially complicated discussions about the future, and now not only had she told him, but she was making a terrible job of it.
Leia drew his face gently back to her. ‘Nowhere. I mean… my cycle is late. Twelve days late. And my breasts hurt. That’s why I...’
‘Oh.’ He gave her a sort of apologetic grimace and shifted on his elbows, the lower half of his body still between her legs. ‘Sorry. Do they always hurt when you’re… uh, late?’
‘No, it happens occasionally, before my cycle starts…’
‘Right. So—’
‘... and it also happens when you’re pregnant,’ she finished, her words drowning Han’s. His hazel eyes became as round as her own brown ones felt, a gap growing between his lips. She could feel something coming off him… a vibrating type of energy that she couldn’t quite read… Was it excitement? Fear? Despite what Luke said, she didn’t feel very skilled  at this “Force business”, as Han called it.
‘Are you—?’
‘I’m—’
He sat back on his heels, taking his weight off of her and giving her some space to straighten up and lean back against the cushions, then tilted his chin to signal she should talk first.
‘I might be. But maybe not. That’s the thing, I don’t… I don’t really know for sure. I rarely ever bled with my old IUD, but it expired a few months after Bespin and I had to go with injections for a while, which made me be regular again. Then I got a new device some weeks after Endor, and… I don’t know, it could just be that this month was stressful. It’s possible that my breasts have been hurting for a week because my period will come. Right?’
Leia knew she was rambling off about the same things she had been telling to herself for the past days, but she couldn’t help it. It felt more convincing when she heard it said aloud. Or it would have, if Han hadn’t been looking at her like that. Like she was telling him she was pregnant… which, in a way, she was.
‘I mean, do they look bigger to you?’ she added nearly desperately, thinking a proper question that demanded Han’s answer would finally get him to speak. He looked even more alarmed as he stared down at her chest.
‘I—they’re—they’ve always been—I dunno, could be? I haven’t seen you in so long, Leia!’
She huffed with impatience, closing back her robe and sitting up. Tonight’s reunion was not going the way they’d hoped.
Han rubbed a hand on his face as if to clear his thoughts. He didn’t seem about to bolt, Leia thought, the knot that had seized her stomach easing an inch.
‘Won’t a pregnancy test be more accurate than your breasts? Since you’re not sure?’
‘Yes, of course.’
‘Then why didn’t you…?’
Leia bit the inside of her cheek. ‘Because then...the possibility would have been more real. And if it came out positive… well… I—I guess I wanted you to be here.’
He reached out and stroked her arm soothingly, his thumb rubbing circles on her shoulder, then sliding down to the crook of her elbow. ‘I’ll be here a while. You wanna do it tomorrow?’
‘Yeah, that would be—’ Leia tried to swallow despite her dry mouth. ‘We should find out as soon as possible.’
She looked at him with her lips parted, trying to get her thoughts in a coherent enough line to translate them into words. He was also staring at her, his large hand still caressing her in a comforting yet slightly absent-minded way. Did he look pale or was it only the scarce lighting?
Taking a breath to brace herself, Leia started, ‘Han, if… if I am pregnant—’
‘Why don’t we wait until we know for sure?’ he interrupted, his lips quirking in a quick smile that, she supposed, was meant to be reassuring—whether for her benefit or his, she couldn’t tell. Probably both. ‘Before we talk about what’s gonna happen if you are, I mean, ‘cos… if you’re not…’
Leia knew what he meant. Why speculate about something for which they had no certainty yet? That seemed reasonable, and Leia was going to agree with him, but a big part of her, an instinctual part perhaps, made her pause.
‘I think we should talk about it now,’ she blurted out. Did she? She wasn’t known to balk at any topic, yet Leia suddenly found that, even as she knew this was the right time to have this conversation, she very much wanted to crawl into bed with Han and put it off until tomorrow or even the day after that. ‘Because if—if I’m pregnant… I don’t want to be.’
‘You won’t want to keep it?’ Han asked quietly. His tone wasn’t accusatory, but there was a small crease between his eyebrows.
‘Well… no. I don’t. I mean… the war isn’t even over yet. We’re both so busy, we barely see each other. It’s not a good time to be pregnant and have a child, Han.’ Leia untangled her legs from around him and drew her knees to her chest. ‘What… Do you think it’s a good time?’
‘I dunno… is it ever a good time?’ he said with a half shrug.
‘I think it should never be an easy decision, but... some times are better than others. Besides, we’ve only talked marriage so far…’ Leia leaned forward, lowering her knees again. ‘Han, would you like to have children someday?’
‘Ah, sweetheart.’ He rocked back on his heels and shifted his long legs to avoid cramping, letting out a deep sigh. ‘Haven’t really thought about it.’
He didn’t look at her when he said that except for a very quick glance, and her uncanny ability to know when people were lying made her reach for his hand and give it a gentle tug.
‘Han…’
‘What?’
‘You’ve never thought about it?’ she asked, holding his gaze. His eyes flickered down.
‘All right. I’m tellin’ ya, but it’s lame,’ he said, pointing a finger at her. ‘Few weeks ago—I wasn’t here, I was on Balamak, and I dreamed we were sleepin’, and I reached out to pull you closer, and realized you were pregnant.’ He was gesturing with his hands the way he often did, and Leia knew in this case, it was to cover up the fact that he was being so open about what went on in the most private parts of his mind. ‘Then, suddenly the kid was born, and I freaked out ‘cos Chewie had gone back home and I needed a copilot, but the baby’s arms were too short to reach the controls.’ Leia burst into laughter and he smiled. ‘Not a great omen overall, I reckon.’
As Leia’s laughter subsided, his face became more serious again.
‘Yeah, I did think about it,’ he continued, giving her hand a squeeze. ‘I thought havin’ a kid must be kriffin’ terrifying… probably the hardest thing I could ever do. And I don’t even know… well, I’ve never had anything close to a father; how the hell will I know what to do?’
Though she was slowly becoming overwhelmed with tenderness over what he was saying and sadness about what she was going to have to say to him, Leia couldn’t help but smile a little. ‘Don’t worry, hotshot; nobody really knows what they’re doing, parenting-wise.’
‘That’s insane.’
Leia shrugged and chuckled at his astonished expression.
‘Well, anyway…” he continued. “I thought some more. And it… I don’t know, it felt good. To think about it, I mean.’
‘So you think you’d want to have a baby… now?’ Leia asked carefully.
‘You just said—’
‘I know, I know, just… forget about what I said for a second. Tell me what you’d want.’
Han slung an arm over the back of the lounger and leaned back slightly, his eyes wandering across the dark ceiling.
‘I think… you’re right. It’s not a good time. I mean, you’re the one who’s gonna be carryin’ it, sweetheart.’ He lay a hand on her knee and gave it a squeeze, then ran his fingers along her thigh in a soothing way. ‘Whatever you wanna do, that’s what we’ll do. I wasn’t… It came as a bit of a shock, that’s all. And if you wanted to keep it, I’m sure we could work it out, I mean… If other people can do it, we can do it too, right? But if we have a choice here… I think it’s too soon for us, uh? We have enough to worry about now. And when we get together, we have a great time, and—well, it’d be great with a kid, too, but… we could use some more time of it being great with just the two of us. Right?’
Leia let out a long, relieved sigh. ‘Yes, exactly,’ she said with a small smile. ‘It’s all of what you said. But, Han…’ She lowered her eyes and bowed her head slightly, not ashamed, precisely, but… regretful. For him, and for herself, too. She felt Han’s hand cradling her face, his fingers gently tilting her chin up. She took a deep breath. ‘I’m not sure yet… I’ve given it some thought, and I think—I do think we should both talk about it, but I… I don’t know if I should bear any children. Now or... ever.’
‘Because of Vader?’ Han asked quietly.
‘Yes, because of Vader. It always comes back to Vader, doesn’t it?’ Leia gave him a wry smile that felt like a grimace. ‘I’m sorry.’
Moving his legs off the lounger to scoot closer, Han wrapped his arms around her and hugged her tightly, Leia’s arms sliding around his waist as she pressed her forehead against his cheek.
‘Nothing to be sorry about, sweetheart.’ He kissed her temple. ‘Told you, I don’t think evil can be passed on—’
‘I know, it’s not just that, it’s… everything, having this history, this legacy, this… power. Won’t it be too much for another life to bear?’
‘I dunno, but—Look, we don’t have to talk about this now, okay?’ Han said, pulling away from her to look her in the eye. ‘If you’re pregnant now and you’re sure about not wanting to keep it, we’ll do that. And whatever we decide to do after that—we’ll have kids or we won’t, and it’ll be fine, all right? Either way, I’m in, with you.’
Smiling, Leia leaned forward until her lips were pressed against his, eyelids closing. Breaking the kiss, she stayed close to him, her eyes still shut and one of her hands touching his chest. ‘You think you’ll be happy with just the two of us?’
‘It’s not “just the two of us”,’ Han replied, his gruff voice filling her with calm. ‘It’s you ‘n’ me. Luke, Chewie, and the two talking trash cans. The Falcon, too.’
Leia chuckled, and Han gave her another kiss.
‘Yeah, I think I’ll be happy with that, sweetheart.’

13 comments:

  1. First, the "two talking trash cans" is so perfect! I love the idea that yes, they will be happy with just the two of them (and the rest of the menagerie.)

    Loved this discussion - they don't know but they're getting their issues on the table as adults - I love that. Also, yes, Han isn't "my way or the highway" as some writers seem to think he is - he is a "get along, go along" person. I also love that Leia isn't sure because of Vader but she's ready to listen to him as well.

    Great line here:

    He was gesturing with his hands the way he often did, and Leia knew in this case, it was to cover up the fact that he was being so open about what went on in the most private parts of his mind.

    Wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you!!

      Yes, you know... while thinking about this, I came out with the idea that he'd be more like "both choices have good things and bad things to consider, and if you're in for the ride, either would be fine by me". He's used to being just himself and, until recently, only Chewie to care about, so I don't think he'd /need/ to be a father. But he'd never before considered getting married, settling down and having someone to love and care about 24/7, yet now he wants that, so if children are in, then that's what he'll want too. So yeah, I wanted them to have a calm discussion where both voices are heard rather than one pushing or guilt-tripping the other into considering the "right" choice.

      Delete
  2. This was so very sweet and showcased their love and commitment to one-another, no matter what. "Won’t a pregnancy test be more accurate than your breasts?" made me laugh!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you!! I've rarely seen the possibility of them not having children and both being okay with that explored in fic, so it was interesting to go that way.

      Delete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This scenario does not track with my headcanon re: these two, but I like the way you write their dynamic nonetheless. I love how relatively calm Han is; how pragmatic and even inadvertently funny he is (that comment about her breasts as perhaps less-than-reliable indicators made me laugh).

    It's sensitive subject matter for some, obviously, but I think you've handled it well and you've kept your eye on the relationship that is the centre of our shared obsession. Han's steadfastness and staunch support here is wonderful. My favourite moment is perhaps his attempt to brush off the question with "Haven't really thought about it", but Leia knows better and gently presses him to tell the truth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you!!

      Tbh, I still don't have a definitive headcanon re: children, though I'm unable to imagine my ships without kids for some damn reason (looks cute), so I'm pretty sure they would have them at some point. And I definitely don't think that Leia would decide not to have them solely because of Vader, but yes that it would make her uncertain while she's still struggling herself with her family legacy.

      What this is, basically, is my sort of defiance to:

      - DisCan telling us she would get pregnant right out of RotJ, still in the middle of the war, barely having spent enough time with Han as a couple, and keep it

      - the EU making her decide she won't have kids only for Han later to convince her about it (and I really do love TG, but he /was/ kinda pushy and she /was/ unwilling to open up about it - I do love the resolution, though)

      - just the general pervasive idea that women can't choose when or if to have children and men being unsupportive about it because it means their wives don't love them enough

      My goal was to add some content where they were shown making an "alternative" decision to what I always see and being supportive about it, putting themselves first as a couple, so if that came through, I'm glad! ^-^

      Delete
  5. I apologize for the lateness of my comment, it's been a very busy stretch of days for me and I'm just now getting a moment to read and comment. I like reassuring Han here, he just always seems to know the right thing to say, even if he's stumbling a bit with his words and caught a bit off guard. I also had to laugh at the dream he had. I can buy that having kids isn't something he would've thought about really until VERY recently, where as for women it usually enters their heads from a much younger age. But anyway, I also really liked just how they are clearly very comfortable with each other, and it is an incredibly sensitive conversation very early in their relationship but they both seem to feel safe to say what they are really thinking. Nice job.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No worries, I appreciate you taking the time to read it!

      Lol, the dream was slightly inspired by "Before Sunset"... there's a chance part of me has always wanted to borrow that scene for a fic. Yeah, in my imaginings, Han already saw himself and Leia as definite and imagined a future together as a family, but without concrete, conscious thoughts about children (until that dream sneaked up on him).

      Thank you so much for your comments!

      Delete
  6. "Despite what Luke said, she didn’t feel very skilled at this “Force business”, as Han called it."

    I love this detail!

    "Like she was telling him she was pregnant… which, in a way, she was." Ooh this is lovely and insightful.

    "‘Won’t a pregnancy test be more accurate than your breasts? Since you’re not sure?’" LAUGHTER EMOJI.

    " ‘Then, suddenly the kid was born, and I freaked out ‘cos Chewie had gone back home and I needed a copilot, but the baby’s arms were too short to reach the controls.’ " OH MY GOSH. This is a perfect, most realistic dream, it totally cracks the tension too, I buy it and I love it!

    "‘It’s not “just the two of us”,’ Han replied, his gruff voice filling her with calm. ‘It’s you ‘n’ me. Luke, Chewie, and the two talking trash cans. The Falcon, too.’" CRYING EMOJI.

    So glad you wrote this (and that I finally got a chance to read it)! It's a really unique and wonderful take on this topic, I like seeing them talking in a real-world, adult way post-RotJ, loving and supportive as ever. :)



    ReplyDelete