Han likes to joke that he's been making a scene in public since birth,
but children left screaming in houses after an imperial raid is, for all intents and purposes, a scene, so.
Technically, he doesn't joke.
He learns the importance of bonds and, more importantly, the importance of not having bonds, when Shrike kills his the nearest thing he has to a mother in front of him, and the crew scream with laughter at the young man's tears.
He gets a whipping for that one, for tears (and for attempting to escape, he supposes) at the grand age of 19.
He makes sure to torch the ship in return before escaping in the pod.
Meeting Chewbacca, and subsequently getting saddled with said Chewbacca, is a scene which ends with three dead imperial officers, a ship emptied of wookie children, and Han's dreams of any kind of normal life dead.
They leave that town with bounty posters already up, Han’s worldly possessions abandoned in his dorm room back at the Academy. Chewie finds them a rusted ship and Han hotwires it. The beginnings of a beautiful mess of a friendship.
Han causes plenty of scenes after that, screaming blasters and chaotic bars, bounty hunter chases and falling ships.
And then. A scene of epic proportions. And for once he’s not the one to cause it.
A man crashes into him in a swirl of royal blue cloak and bright grin, the afternoon air awash with the tumult of a scene of epic and theatrical proportions.
This vision in a cloak, a literal Sithdamned feathered hat on his head, (He’ll laugh and confess to stealing it. He steals everything), steps back, hands patting over Han's jacket as he sputters apologies. The whole square is looking at them as the stranger proclaims, in a loud and jovial voice, how overjoyed he is to see him, love, and did you miss me?
And Han is backed into a corner and twirled around, fresh into his twenties and inexplicably charmed, and his back is hiding this strange being and somehow his ridiculous hat from view as the man catches his face and pulls him into a kiss.
There's a ringing in his ears, barely drowning out the patter of running footsteps. Han will later learn that an entire squadron of city guards (An enTIRE squadron? How many governors were there for you to seduce?) ran past, ignoring the apparent lovers in the corner.
The ringing subsides as the man steps back, ending the kiss and winking at Han’s crimson face (so he hasn’t done much kissing. Sue him). He turns with a flourish, releasing his grasp on Han’s lapels, and promptly runs into many feet of angry Wookie.
Chewie looks to Han, distracted for a second as he checks for injuries, and the man takes his chance. He ducks away from the corner, flouncing past Chewie, incensed as he is at Han being stolen away by this arrogant kisser in a stupid hat, and bows to the crowd, to cheers.
And Han falls in love.
Perhaps with the cheers.
Perhaps with this ridiculous man.
Perhaps with this man's ridiculous skills, for it takes him the better part of an hour to miss his wallet.
He’s in love.
Or something like that.
He’s halfway back to their shitbucket craft, Chewie grumbling and teasing in equal measures once he’s established that Han was merely caught unaware by some posing runaway (“Hey, easy on the insults, pal. I was a distraction! I feel used!”). They stop for some inconsequential reason, Han fishing out his wallet to grab a snack, and – this isn’t his wallet. It’s a wallet, lining worn and filled with metal chips.
Well. Now it’s personal.
It takes them a while to track down the thief, surprising given the incredibly fucking stupid outfit he was wearing. Then again. He did lift Han’s wallet and replace it with a fake without a hitch.
Han and Chewie follow a looping, confusing trail of eyerolls, muffled laughs and tight lips, finally arriving at a seedy bar set up at one end of the town hanger. They step inside, and Han spots the handsome stranger lounging in the far corner, his hat balanced on the head of a veritable goddess across from him.
Glaring, Han begins to stalk across the hanger. He passes ships, droids, barely sparing them a glance. Stops. Glances back at the ship he’s just passed.
He's barely aware that the room has fallen silent at this frozen, angry man, and the figure in the blue cloak advancing on him.
Hands press to his chest.
“You like my ship, handsome?”
Han Solo falls in love. Or begins to.
It’ll take a night, one night, racing stars and exhilaration and laughter, shared smirks in stolen moments.
He’ll be mesmerized. Lost.
Han's been in gangs, in orphanages, in a hell of an academy. He knows the best things come with a price tag.
For Han Solo, the price of the Millennium Falcon is Lando Calrissian.
He grins back at the stranger, resigning himself to the thief’s company with a nonchalant sigh
"Only if you’ve got booze in there. And my wallet."
The room releases it's collective breath as the man laughs, offering his hand and pressing his lips to Han’s knuckles instead of a handshake.
“Lando. Lando Calrissian.”
He flicks his fingers, the recognizable fold of Han’s wallet appearing in his hand. Leaning forward to tuck it into Han’s vest, he murmurs into his ear;
“Fancy screaming it later?”
Han’s thoughts flick back to the kiss, Lando’s smirk at his flushed face in the marketplace. He reaches up to catch Lando’s hand, pressing it against the wallet in his vest. Considering.
“Maybe if you don’t short me again. Han Solo. And this is Chewbacca.”
Lando laughs, delighted, and flicks his fingers again, Han’s id card tossed towards him with a flourish.
Chewie growls beside Han as he fumbles to catch the card, Lando crossing to pluck his bag from the table. He leaves his hat, righting it on the wild curls of the woman at the table with an idle kiss of her cheek. He turns, cloak flaring, to beam at the clearly annoyed Wookie and offer Han his arm.
“I’m not cheap, handsome. You'll get your credits. Fancy a tour first?”
Chewie doesn't like Lando. Chewie doesn't like this plan (much as Chewie likes this ship). Chewie doesn't like Han's odds here. Han waves him off, keeps planning on how to steal the Falcon in the lost hours between Lando sweeping him off his feet.
Damned farsighted Wookies.
Lando has stolen wallets, kisses, ships. For him, with his bright eyes and clever hands and everything he has to offer, a heart isn’t a hardship.
Their relationship is a scene, dramatic kisses and fights and chases in public for food, escape, fun.
Escapades in the captain’s bed of the falcon, less of a performance but for the long-suffering Chewbacca and the occasional passenger. Han apologises, colours. Lando smirks.
Han's thriving, his life a whirlwind of adrenaline and heists and laughter and this bright, wonderful man.
The falcon is still on the table.
A bright, shining life, glittering treasure.
Beautiful, but delicate. Best seen from far away.
And it cracks.
Han suggests a dinner at a small restaurant by the port, just him and Lando. Chewie’s been all but ordered to go visit his family (“Chewie, I know you owe me a life debt and gotta spend the rest of your life with me, and don't get me wrong I really feel we're getting on the best, but I don't want you to be miserable watching me having fun. Go for a few weeks?”)
Lando smiles, charming, as they walk down the street.
“Of course. What's the angle?”
And, of course, the angle. There’s always an angle.
Lando applauds the idea, mulling over tactics and scripts and the scene, Han walking quietly beside him. He’s thinking. Thinking over every kiss they've shared, every declaration of togetherness and happiness and loyalty.
He can't think of any time that doesn't involve an audience, doesn't seem sincere, except for rare quiet moments, whispered into the heavy, exhausted silence of their bunk on the falcon. He looks at Lando, face alight with planning and prospects.
"Nah, I was thinking we could just have a quiet night? We're set from the duchess thing, we don't need free dinner."
And Lando laughs, and slings his arm across Han's shoulders, pulling him close and pressing a kiss to his cheek, waltzing him down the path.
They don't end up going to the quiet place by the port. They find a bar, lit with neon and ‘the right kind of atmosphere’ (audience), crowded with cluttered nooks and busy staff (props). They fake a break-up and get free drinks and the numbers of seven drunk college students.
That night, Han is quiet. He’s curled into Lando, tracing the folds of the blanket around them. He remarks, offhand, that the place by the port does Sunday specials. Lando sniggers, runs a hand down Han’s neck and laughs that he'd never taken Han for the type to settle down and 'domesticate so quickly'.
And Han sits up, ducks from under Lando’s loose grasp.
He much prefers their dramatic, public arguments, Lando holding a blaster to Han’s chest and crying betrayal, eyes twinkling. Han dangling him over a fountain, demanding his purse back, you scoundrel.
This is quiet, and cutting, and they don't mean it like that, but it's said and the best thief in the Lothal ports can't be seen settling down.
And the audience expects a show, and a chase, and surely Han realises if they go anywhere they'll be seen as planning something?
They have a Reputation, after all.
But they can't spend the rest of their days in a fantasy. Han's lived in fantasies before, the fantasy of having a family again, the fantasy of having friends and a normal life with an education. He’s been rudely awakened before.
And Lando stares at him, and, ah.
You don't think we can keep this game up? So we, what, settle down by the sea, adopt a dog? Go out to dinner on Saturdays?
And their fight, their first real fight, continues, and somehow, smuggling comes up. Get off planet, away from the audience, just them and the ship and the stars.
And yeah, Han, that's a good idea, how long you been thinking about that?
And Han can convince himself that's what he meant, that's what he's been planning.
Jar them and they crack.
All the greasepaint in the world won’t remove it. Just cover it up
Chewie comes back, and it's all smiles. Chewie stares at Han, something unfathomable in his gaze, and then he shakes his head and dumps his bag in the crew hold. There's one last heist for old times sake, and then theres the skies and a hold full of shimmersilks just begging to be sold.
Everything is fine, for a while.
Han has the skies, a team, a ship. He has some fun.
Lando still has an audience, new and naive, every time they land.
Their playacting comes in handy, fancy that, fooling and charming the crime lords of the galaxy.
But this isn’t their playacting, light and romantic and, in hindsight, perhaps the most innocent he’s ever been.
They’re rough and tough and talk-shit confident, and the fun has gone.
They still have their bunk, and an occasional audience that calls for a romance or a chase; but Han thinks of Malla, lonely but faithful on Kashyyyk. Thinks of Chewbacca; torn between two values. Choosing who to put first.
If he wasn't there; just for a while.
Just for the crucial moment.
Would Lando find another player?
Their jabs get snippier, insults cutting deeper. Han shares the crew quarters with Chewie on occasion. Never Lando.
Captain gets the bunk, after all.
Then Lando comes in one night, beaming and catching Han by the waist, pressing kisses to his cheeks, pulling him into a dance.
The best one yet. And sure this guy wants their baby, their lady Falcon, but we can outfox any fucker, right Han?
And it's a two-man job.
Han's part isn't especially important, just a buffer to hold off or encourage their mark. And maybe the guy throws a Jedi holocron on the table next to the cash and gem and keys, and neither of them saw that one coming
(No people, Lando. No slaves, no bounties, no traffic.)
But Lando takes it in his stride and wins ab-so-lute-ly everything, love, just like I planned.
Had he said no, would Lando have called off the heist?
Han shuffles the deck, scatters seven and deals three each. Lando cocks his head, but he's let Han improvise in the past. Han grins at him, his partner, his man.
“Just you and me? Winner drives tonight.”
Lando cocks his head, but his eyes are sparkling, grin loose from the huge win. Behind him, Chewie stares at Han. Impassive.
Han’s hands are flicking, tossing cards from palm to palm, shuffling and spinning in little flourishes. Just like Lando taught him.
“Well the loser's gonna be tired from all the booze they've gotta buy and carry back.”
And Lando's grin comes out, shaking his head as he deals his first card.
“Ah, you scoundrel. Fixing up to ply me with rum and rob me blind?”
The price of the Millennium Falcon Is Lando Calrissian.
Han doesn’t like to think he might have left his heart behind, tucked into Lando's shirt where his wallet rested so many times.
He can't be sure.
He doesn't let himself look back.
They're making a scene, Han knows. His every moment with this princess seems like a scene.
He wants to go back to the falcon, argue with Leia in peace.
"I mean, I had to hear the story of your first kiss from Lando! That's healthy?"
He stares at her. The restaurant is staring at them both. Han sighs.
"Leia. Can we just go back to the falcon?"
They pay, Leia cold and glaring as the restaurant pretends not to watch. They walk back to the Falcon.
Leia whirls to face him as soon as they step into the hold, eyes narrowed as she prepares to start shouting again. Han holds out his hand, preventing her tirade for a few precious seconds.
"Which story did he tell you?"
Leia stares at him, shocked.
"Which story? What do you mean, which story? Do you mean which part of your relationship he told me about? Han, I had to sit and listen to Lando fucking Calrissian talk about you and the three years you were together. Three years! You said it was a fling!”
“No! Is a three year relationship meaningless to you? What’s this? Fun? An act?”
She stares at him, nostrils flaring.
“No, Leia. No. Never.”
Sith, he’s so tired of this. He thought he’d left Lando behind a long time ago. Cloud City was a mistake in every way.
“Which version? Our history tends to change based on whoever Lando’s talking to.”
Leia’s still staring at him.
Their history. A blaze of colour, laughter, adrenaline. Cold, unhappy and broken.
Lando Calrissian, who never tells the same story twice. Who re-invents, twists and tricks.
Lando wasn't his first kiss. He’d been drunk, his first party in the academy, and a pretty red-head had pulled him into the kitchen for more drinks, stolen snacks and Han Solo’s first kiss.
He’d told Lando one night, sated and loose-lipped. Lando had rolled over, head cocked, smile beginning.
“No, love, our little tryst in the square”
-“where you robbed me-“
“-where I robbed you, darling, and you stole my gaze, tit for tat,
that was your first kiss.”
He tells Leia this, quiet and sincere in the Falcon. It’s not the only truth Lando re-imagined for Han. It’s not even their only first kiss story. He shrugs.
“Lando doesn’t matter. I promise, Princess. My first kiss doesn’t matter, I’ve had plenty. Dewlanna kissed my head, helped me up even if she got tight rations for favouritism that week. Lando kissed me in some huge production, stole my wallet and made fun of it for weeks. You kissed me in the engine room, and ran away. Kissing happens. I would have told you, if you’d asked.”
Leia crosses to sit beside him, pushing her face into his shoulder and allowing him to rest his chin on her hair. Han sighs again.
I don't like talking about Lando, but. It wasn't much better than a fling. I’m pretty sure he cheated on me with that woman in his hat for the first week, anyway.
I'm sorry that I didn't tell you any more than that”
Leia huffs against his chest, holding him tighter. He doesn’t joke. Doesn’t lighten the silence.
"Will you tell me about it?"
"Yes. Not right now but yes. I will"
Leia mutters something into his neck, somehow hugging him even harder. He looks at the scratched room around him, and wonders what the price of Leia, of this new family is. Wonders if, perhaps, there might not be one.
"Yeah, I know. I know."