These characters, settings, and other such props do not belong
to me. They are, by right, the property of George Lucas and Lucasfilm,
Ltd. I will certainly not be receiving any monetary remuneration
for this little romp in his back yard. This is just one way I
want to say "thanks for sharing the myth, George"...
Special thanks to Leah for her thoughts and suggestions.
This is set shortly after The Empire Strikes Back.
LUKE AND LEIA
by Michelle Lunsford (10/97)
With a practiced, almost rhythmic familiarity, the final pair
of X-wings in the four-ship patrol eased from the hanger bay
and into the blackness beyond. The lone spectator, standing at
a viewport out of the way, allowed his gaze to follow the sleek
figures until the pinprick of their exhaust seemed to blend among
the rest of the stars. Then he merely continued to stare, his
eyes falling upon nothing, and yet everything in the same instant.
Absently the man rubbed with his left hand against his right,
until suddenly the act caught him in a blinding flash, as so
many other insignificant acts had done in the days previous.
His right hand. His artificial hand. His constant reminder of
everything that had happened. And now, a reminder of precisely
who he was.
<I wish I'd known him.> The phrase echoed in
his mind. His own words, expressed with a longing that at times
seemed to consume him, and spoken to his mentor in the comfort
of that simple home so long ago.
"May the Force help me," he whispered to the stars.
"Even now, I long to know him still."
A flicker in the outermost reaches of his vision broke the
painful reverie for a moment; one of the X-wings, as it passed
by. The bystander pilot released a sigh. He was grateful to have
been released from the medical facilities, but it would still
be a while before Onebee acknowledged clearance for him to return
to active duty. As he continued staring at the patrolling ships,
a thought came to him. By the Force? Perhaps. Yet somehow the
man knew, although he would often fly in his beloved X-wing again,
he would never lead from it in battle as he had done before.
"Hey, you awake? Because if you're phasing out while
just standing around I'm going to order them to put you back
in the medcenter."
Luke, so lost in his own musings, was somewhat surprised that
his visitor had arrived completely unnoticed to his senses. But
the familiar, and slightly teasing, voice was a welcome sound
to his ears.
The newcomer, posed in a casual stance with arms crossed in
a comfortable manner across her chest, said nothing. But her
expectant gaze continued to reach out to him.
Luke shuffled his feet and finally admitted, "I was just
A pair of eyebrows raised slightly, her recognition that he
was skirting the issue with the obvious. Leia and he had grown
to be rather open with one another, and the knowledge that now
weighed upon Luke felt like a wall between them. He studied her
countenance. Due to the experience of one from a royal court,
as well as one accustomed to diplomatic endeavors, that lovely
visage gave little information to him. But Luke was beginning
to see things that the eyes could not discern, like a sensation
of thoughts half whispered in the wind. Without a doubt Luke
knew that Leia realized the confrontation with Vader had deeply
affected him. But, he wondered, did she suspect beyond what her
logic and observation told her. Could she sense that there was
something else? Something even he couldn't quite place a finger
on. Something that had caused an irrevocable change in him. And
whether that change was for good or naught, remained to be seen.
All these thoughts passed in an instant as Luke remained silent.
"Well, unbelievable as it seems, I have a bit of time
on my hands," Leia commented, resigned that she would get
no more from him on the matter. "I thought I'd take a little
walk. Care to join me?"
Luke shrugged, then managed a slight smile. Perhaps her company
would help. "Sure."
The pair easily fell into conversation, traveling the corridors
in a casual manner and discussing the current state of affairs
regarding the Rebellion as simply as one would the weather on
a fair day. Rounding a corner, they found themselves at one of
the smaller recreation areas on the ship.
"I feel like some tea," Leia announced suddenly.
Without another word she was through the door, eyes searching
for an empty table. She didn't have to look long. There was only
a handful of other customers taking refuge in the area. Motioning
Luke to follow, the princess made her way across the room to
one of the back tables and sat down. Orders were placed and filled
without preamble, and the pair drank for a moment in silence,
each seemingly lost in his and her own thoughts.
"Luke, can I ask you something?" Leia said softly.
"It's-- well, it's rather personal." She dropped
her eyes to stare at the now cooling brew in her mug.
Luke considered that with a slight pause. Although he had
known, had felt, of Leia's excessive worry for him where his
recent incident was concerned, she had not questioned him too
deeply about it. Would she now? Would she seek to know everything
that had transpired between he and Vader? And would he refuse
her, in a vain effort to protect her from the horrid truth? Or
would he simply fall to pieces at her feet, somehow hoping she
might be able to construct those pieces again.
"Well, you can still ask," Luke replied at last.
His voice held the slightest hint of uncertainty.
Leia looked up from her mug. "Have you-- have you ever
been in love?"
The unexpectedness and blatancy of the question threw the
young man for a loop. A melange of emotions played across his
features in the brief instant before he was able to gain some
semblance of balance.
"Oh stars, that didn't come out at all like I wanted
it to," Leia apologized. A frown etched itself across her
"No, it's alright," Luke said, none too convincingly.
"It's just that... I mean, I didn't..."
Leia was still looking at him, earnest and sincere, and Luke
wished he didn't feel like such a floundering idiot. Then the
would-be Jedi's instincts managed to kick in, and he took a steadying
breath. He could feel the Force working its way into his perception
and suddenly a new perspective of understanding displayed itself
vividly in his mind.
"The answer to your question is no." The voice sounded
strange, unfamiliar to his own ears. Luke licked across parched
lips and began again. "At least, I've never been in love
the way I think you mean."
The pairs of eyes held for a moment, deep pools of brown locked
with a vivid, icy blue. A sensation of unspoken communication
crept upon them both, and he noticed that Leia shifted uncomfortably,
as one might to suppress a shiver.
"But I like to think I'll recognize it when it happens,"
Luke went on as the gratifyingly peculiar moment passed. Then
he pressed to the purpose he knew lay behind her question. "Just
like I think I can now recognize it in you."
A flush of crimson burned in Leia's cheeks and she pulled
her eyes away as one rightly sentenced.
"You love Han?" It was a question, but something
about Luke's tone made it sound more like a statement.
The rebel princess managed to raise her eyes again, the tears
brimming there the only answer she could give.
Luke took the small hands across the table into his own and
spoke with a calming certainty. "And Han loves you too,
A smile began to blossom as Leia echoed words from a recent
memory. "I know."
"And Han is going to be able to tell you that, himself.
Bringing the subject around to the present misery that constantly
played upon her senses caused Leia's tears to finally break free.
She squeezed at Luke's hands as though they were a life line.
"I can't tell you how much I appreciate your helping
us to find Han."
"As if a herd of banthas could stop me," Luke said
jokingly. Then his expression grew more serious. "Han is
my friend. And as many times as he's been there for me, there
is nothing that's going to keep me from finding him. I'll bring
him back to you, Leia. Or I'll die trying."
Leia simply nodded, not trusting her voice just yet. A quiet
eternity passed before she pulled away, wiping the tears from
"I've lost so much in this cursed war," she began,
matter of fact. "And yet I find I've been so blessed at
the same time, to find Han and you. I don't know what I've done
to deserve your friendship, but I'm thankful for it." Her
gaze turned away again, almost as if in an act of guilt. "We've
always been so close, Luke, you and I. And even now, with my
feelings toward Han, you're here, helping me." With an inner
strength the young woman forced herself to meet that steel blue
stare. "I'm sorry if I've ever done anything to disappoint
you, or mislead you."
"Sorry?" The man's brows knitted in a genuine expression
of puzzlement. "Honestly, Leia--." Then in a flash
of insight, Luke understood. "Oh," his voice fumbled.
Now it was his turn to look away.
"Maybe I shouldn't have said anything," Leia prompted.
"No, no," came the reassuring response. With a shrug
and a 'caught in the act' smile, Luke continued. "I was
an impetuous farmboy, you were a beautiful princess - of course
I'd want to run off and rescue you." Taking the petite hands
again, Luke's countenance altered once more to the matured, sobered
man of recent days. "Leia, you're still a beautiful princess,
and still more precious to me than I even know how to say. But
any romantic feelings I may have had passed away a long time
ago. And I could never have wished a more deserving man of your
love than Han."
The woman's features lit up with the radiance of her smile.
She responded with a warm squeeze to Luke's hand, a simple sign
of her gratitude.
"I only wish Father could still be alive to meet him.
I know he would have liked Han." Then, as the smile gave
way to a more playful grin, she amended, "Well, at least
he would have once he got to know him."
But Luke never heard his companion's latter statement, his
mind having abruptly halted. Luke's smile vanished completely,
and all the color drained from his face. His eyes, though still
locked with Leia's, held a definite distant cast, as though he
were staring right through and past her. It was as if a fog had
simply rolled in and covered him.
"Luke, what is it?" Leia's voice was laced with
a sense of apprehension.
The young man blinked several times, as if coming from a daze.
Slowly, he pulled away. "I'm sorry, Leia. I guess--."
With a hesitant pause he sought for some reliable excuse. "I
guess I must be feeling more tired than I thought. Onebee said
I should still be taking it easy."
Luke's explanation seemed reasonable enough, but Leia appeared
hesitant to accept it fully. "Is the prosthetic causing
you trouble," she asked a bit too slowly.
Only then did Luke realize he'd been absently flexing and
relaxing the fingers of his right hand. If Leia needed further
indication that Luke was more than merely tired, then she was
rewarded when Luke suddenly froze, and looked away. It was a
small act of denial, but thoroughly condemning.
"This is about Vader and your confrontation," Leia
said. It wasn't a question.
Luke continued to avoid her gaze, fighting against the plethora
of emotions that welled up inside him.
"Oh Luke, what has he done to you?
Her spoken thought was barely audible as it came whispered
from soft lips. But the implications of the question rang through
Luke's senses with a deafening thunder. His eyes fell upon her
then, and for a moment he no longer wanted to fight what lay
hidden. Despair, fear, and such pain as he hardly knew words
for, blazed like an all consuming flame. And still, there was
something else there. Luke could not quite place the emotion
that it stirred within him, yet the only word that came to mind
was 'hope'. As quickly as it had opened, the window was again
closed. Luke's face was a mask once more.
"Please understand, I can't talk about this," Luke
said calmly. His voice was almost too calm, and it left Leia,
for an instant, visibly shaken. "And please, don't ask me
about it again."
The princess held her resolve for just a while longer, before
finally acquiescing with a curt nod. However, before she would
let the battle die completely, her desire to help him called
out in one last effort. "Is there nothing I can do?"
A weary sigh escaped his lips. But then the hint of a smile
began to work its way there. "Just continue being you,"
he said softly. "Your friendship is more help to me than
you'll ever know."
Leia placed a reassuring touch on his arm. "And you'll
always have my friendship, Luke. Just as you'll always have my
It was the first time Luke had heard her express their relationship
with that word, and somehow it offered him a comfort that no
other words or actions could have afforded. In that instant Luke
knew that come what may, here was his anchor. He touched her
hand gently, where it rested upon his arm, and spoke with a depth
of feeling that he hoped she would understand. "I love you
There was a silent pause between them, as they relished what
had just been shared.
A soft but insistent beep suddenly sounded from Leia's waist.
She quickly pulled her comlink, and answered the hail. Luke waited,
listening to the one side conversation, until she switched the
comlink off and returned it to her belt.
"Looks like my free time is up. I've got to go."
Luke nodded, and rose to bid her farewell.
"Thanks for walking with me," she added. They stood,
a bit awkward for a moment, before Leia suddenly flung her arms
around him in a tight embrace. "Just promise me that if
you need to talk, you'll come find me."
Luke returned the display of affection until by mutual consent
they pulled away. "So long as you agree to do the same."
Leia favored him with a smile. "Deal." Then with
a final kiss on the cheek, she turned and was gone.