‘You know, Your Highness, at some point you’re gonna need to go get some shut-eye.’
Leia, curled up in a seat next to Han’s bunk and reading about Endor’s topography under dim lamplight, looked up from her datapad with a start. ‘How long have you been awake?’
Han gave a small, sleepy smile, blinking blearily against the light. ‘’Bout thirty seconds. How long’ve you been sitting there?’
‘Not that long.’
It was a lie, and Han almost certainly knew that. Disorientated and sick as he’d been after he’d come out of the carbonite, he’d still remained focused on her. Had she been sleeping? Had she eaten enough today? Was she feeling all right, after everything?
Still, besides a pointed glance toward the chrono on the wall, he didn’t call her on the fact that she’d definitely been there since he fell asleep nine hours earlier, catching her own rest in broken bursts. Less sleeping than zoning out over thoughts of the second Death Star, and wondering what Luke was doing, and anxiety about Han.
Sure, his recovery was going well. His sight was more-or-less back to normal. He was still sleeping a lot, but he wasn’t as bone-deep exhausted, and while he was still on bed rest, he’d been moved out of the medical bay. Granted, it was into temporary personal quarters close by, so that his assigned medidroid could check on him easily, but that was happening just once an hour, now. It was a relief not to see him hooked up to so many monitors, even if the results they’d been turning out were always reassuring. The droid in charge of Han’s care seemed a little indignant about Leia always being around, like it was an insult to their programming that she felt the need to keep such a close eye on him. And yes, she was a little worried that without the constant tracking of his vital signs, something could be missed.
But also: he’d been gone, and she still couldn’t quite believe he was back. She was hardly a stranger to waking up to find that things weren’t okay after all, and it was hard to shake the feeling that the universe was tricking her.
So she was mostly working from his bedside, keeping careful vigil while Han slept and grimaced over protein supplements and bickered with the droid and slept some more, and what of it? She could worry about herself later, when this all felt truly behind them.
Now, she set the datapad on the arm of her chair and came to stand next to the bunk, lacing the fingers of one hand with his, stroking the other through his sleep-mussed hair. ‘How are you feeling?’
‘Mm, yeah. Better.’ Briefly, Han closed his eyes and turned his face toward the palm cradling his head. ‘How are you?’
‘You don’t feel… nauseous, or dizzy, or anything?’ she pressed.
‘Not for a couple days, now.’ He squeezed her hand. ‘You doing okay?’
‘What about your sight?’ she asked him, cupping his jaw as she gave his face a searching look.
‘Getting there.’ Han drew the hand clasped around his up to his mouth and kissed it. ‘Sweetheart. Go and sleep.’
‘I have been sleeping,’ she protested.
‘What—there?’ Han asked skeptically, nodding at the chair behind her and the well-established indentation in its thinly-cushioned seat.
‘Yes,’ she said, with a firm nod.
One eyebrow quirked up. ‘You sure?’
‘Yes!’ Leia turned red. ‘Well, a little.’
‘A little,’ he echoed.
‘I’ve slept enough!’ She folded her arms across her chest defensively. ‘What, is that so hard to believe? Like I haven’t slept in worse places.’
‘Well, sure, but not usually with the option of a halfway comfortable bed close by,’ he pointed out.
‘Han, I’m not even that tired.’ Of course, it was at exactly that moment she had to fight back a yawn, so she continued, ‘Besides, I’m wearing a sleepshirt—’
‘It’s a nice one,’ Han said, sounding genuinely appreciative of the Alliance-issue synthcloth he reached out to tweak the hem of. ‘Sure seems like it’d be good to do some sleeping in.’
‘And I have a pillow,’ she continued, stepping in closer to meet his touch. ‘I’m perfectly comfortable.’
‘Well, I take it all back, Princess,’ he said, hand curving around the back of her thigh over her shirt. ‘It’s like the Horizon Hotel in here.’
She huffed. ‘Don’t make fun; you know what I mean.’
‘Real relaxing.’ He rubbed her leg in a comforting sort of way. ‘Like a little vacation.’
‘I’m having no trouble relaxing,’ she said firmly, which was, by any measure, an absurd statement, so she hurried to correct herself. ‘Okay, sure, my sleep pattern’s been a little off since Tatooine, but that’s hardly surprising between the time difference and pulling off a mission we’d been planning for months—’
‘Tatooine, huh?’ he asked, tickling the back of her knee. ‘And before that it was—what, lights out at 9?’
‘I—’ She stopped, stuck, before settling on: ‘—Am not the person in immediate medical danger.’ Tapping one finger gently against his chest, she added, tone arch, ‘I should be asking you questions.’
‘Hey, I’m doing everything I’m told.’ He caught her hand again. ‘So why don’t you go get some sleep, and then—’
‘Han,’ she said softly. ‘I want to be close to you.’
He stared at her for a moment, teasing smile fading. Then he threw back the covers, shifting over in the narrow bunk. ‘All right, then. Come and lie down with me.’
‘I…’ She faltered, then finished half-heartedly: ‘Can’t?’
‘You said close,’ he reminded her. ‘Let’s be close.’
‘The bed’s too small,’ she said, though the space he’d created for her, tight as it was, did look so much more warm and inviting than the lonely double bunk in her quarters.
‘Nah, we’ll be fine. You don’t take up much room.’
‘Come on,’ Han coaxed. ‘’S’not that much smaller than the bunk on the Falcon, even. Managed that all right, didn’t we?’
She conceded with a brief inclination of her head; they had indeed managed that very well. Seizing on her admission, Han added, ‘If you really ain’t tired, it’s a change from that seat, at least.’
She bit her lip. If she was seeking some reassurance about his presence, lying down with him in a bunk that more-or-less necessitated cuddling seemed a good way to do it.
‘Fine,’ she said, sitting on the edge of the bed and swinging her legs up on to the mattress, loosening her braids a little so she could lie down comfortably, ‘but if I’m crowding you, you’re to kick me out.’
‘If that’ll make you happy, sweetheart.’ He turned fully on his side to face her and pulled the covers back over them both, bending one arm up to pillow his head and smiling at her. ‘See? Now I can see you much better.’
‘You’re not supposed to be seeing me,’ she said, mirroring his position. She reached up to touch his jaw, stroking over the stubble-rough skin. ‘You’re supposed to be resting.’
‘How about we both rest, huh?’ he asked.
‘I don’t need to rest.’
‘We’ll both rest,’ he insisted. ‘’Fore that nagging droid comes back.’
‘That droid is keeping you healthy,’ she said, giving him a gentle prod in the chest again in a way that was meant to be stern, although she let her finger rest there.
‘That droid’s a pain in my ass,’ he grumbled.
She laughed, letting her finger trail down his body. ‘Yeah, you’re getting back to normal.’
‘Just saying,’ he said, rubbing her back, ‘’s’nice to get some alone time.’
‘It is,’ she whispered.
‘I missed you.’
She swallowed, throat suddenly too tight to say it back. So she just closed her eyes and nodded.
She felt Han move on the bed, and then his lips against her cheek. He scattered soft kisses across her forehead, her chin, and the bridge of her nose. When he kissed her lips, it was clear he meant it to be only brief too, but as he started to pull away, she went with him, wrapping an arm around him to keep him close to her.
Han made a small, wanting sound into her mouth, lips parting under hers. His hand spread, slow and warm as sunrise, between her shoulder blades. In the back of her mind, Leia was dimly aware that his Emdee droid probably wouldn’t encourage this, but kissing Han was so easy, and the way he was holding her, the way he’d pulled the covers up snug around them, felt so comfortable and safe.
Barely anything had been easy or comfortable or safe for years, really. She could let herself have this moment with him.
Just in case, though, she brought her hand back to his chest.
‘Your heart’s a little fast,’ she fretted.
‘Good,’ Han mumbled, between kisses. ‘You can tell the droid I had a normal reaction to making out with the prettiest being in the galaxy.’
She drew back a little and rolled her eyes at him, blushing. ‘You don’t feel strange?’
He shook his head. ‘Better than I have in days.’
Sighing, she burrowed closer to him, pressing her nose to his t-shirt to breathe in his scent, just as she’d pressed it to his pillow on the Falcon those first days and weeks he’d been lost to her. ‘I’m trying to look after you. It’d be some irony if you ended up staying here longer because of something I did.’
Han kissed her neck. ‘Well, I like your hands-on approach.’
‘I don’t think they teach it in medical school,’ she admitted.
His mouth moved down to her collarbone. ‘Why don’t you let me look after you for a while, huh?’
His hand was sliding down her back in a way that was still extremely agreeable, but there was more purpose in it, now, more heat, and with his nose and mouth he nuzzled aside the neck of her shirt, pressing small kisses to each bit of newly bared skin.
‘Han,’ she said, a note of warning in her voice, though not a single part of her wanted to stop him.
His hand came to rest on her uppermost leg. ‘I promise you, it’s fine.’
‘I’m pretty sure you’re meant to avoid sex for a while,’ Leia reminded him.
‘Pretty sure I’m meant to avoid certain parts of it, yeah,’ Han agreed.
She felt her breathing begin to quicken and a hot twinge between her legs as he lifted the hem of her shirt, just a little, grazing calloused fingers against her exposed thigh. Her tongue darted out to wet her lips; Han’s eyes flicked down to her mouth, his pupils dilating.
‘Don’t think this part’ll do any harm,’ he murmured. ‘Matter of fact, I reckon it might help you.’
‘Help me what?’ she whispered, eyes fluttering closed.
He kissed her forehead. ‘Relax.’
‘Emdee…’ she sighed, getting the objection out of the way more as a courtesy than an actual reason this shouldn’t happen.
‘Shouldn’t be checking in until just past the hour.’ He rubbed small circles above her knee. ‘Plenty of time,’ he reassured her, voice gravelly, husky with suppressed need as he added, ‘But only if you want to.’
Her breath caught as she looked at him: at his face that was now rid of that post-carbonite pallor, at his eyes, green and alert on her. ‘Yes,’ she bit out.
Han kissed her again. Soft, slow, like before, grazing his teeth against her lower lip, but his fingers were quick to steal up her thigh, skimming beneath the band of her underwear, electric pinpoints against her skin. He pulled back to silently ask again. Are you sure?
Holding his gaze, she tugged the sleepshirt fully up around her waist and shifted until her hips were level with his, tucking her leg tight over his thigh. She pressed her breasts to his chest and tipped her head up to look into his face. To drink him in. Han gave her a dreamy smile, and in the small space between them, his fingers stroked from hip to hip across the curve of her lower abdomen, brushed the front of her underwear, then further down.
Leia exhaled shakily. She’d thought, those months without him, that the first time they did this once she’d rescued him it would be spirited, desperate. Brief. She’d been jolted awake, her sheets damp with sweat, from dreams of tackling him to the Falcon’s grated floor, of him hoisting her against the hull and it all being fast and haphazard and wonderful. She didn’t know why it hadn’t occurred to her just how much she’d want to savor him. The hour before the droid returned wasn’t nearly enough.
Through thin cloth, Han ran a finger the length of her sex, back to front, deliberate and slow, nothing haphazard about it. Her toes curled where they rested against his calf.
‘Do that again,’ she sighed, and he obliged, only with two fingers, this time, which he pressed either side of her clit, stroking in tiny little motions, fabric creating friction against her sensitive skin, and soon Leia bunched the front of his t-shirt in her hand, panting hard.
‘This is okay?’ he asked, and she almost laughed because it was so much better than okay. But then his eyes locked with hers, and she could only nod and come closer still, hitching her leg higher and relishing the press of his sturdy thigh beneath hers.
She wasn’t close, not yet, and that was fine; she was happy to let Han stoke the warm, slow throb at her core, building her bit by bit toward climax, and to watch him as he did. His chest rose and fell beneath her hand; his gaze was so heated and intent on her it made her flush almost as much as anything he was doing with his fingers. She wanted so badly to touch him too, especially now—his desire for her was obvious, pressed hot and hard against her hip. For all it wasn’t allowed, she considered reaching for him, wanting to give back, craving that physical mutuality and the velvet of him beneath her touch. But as if he’d read her mind, he shook his head.
‘Please, sweetheart,’ he said roughly. ‘Just let me…’ He trailed off, mouth falling to the crook of her neck, and she knew that he needed no reciprocation to be wholeheartedly in this with her. ‘You deserve it.’
Leia felt a rush of heat between her legs, arousal kicking up a notch. She tilted her head back to give him access as he pressed kiss after open-mouthed kiss to her neck and the underside of her jaw, lips and tongue and sweet encouragement hot against her skin. His fingers slipped into her underwear, caressing coarse hair and then stroking inside her, shallow but sure, his thumb moving in tight circles over her clit. Just how she liked, just how she’d shown him on the way to Bespin.
And it wasn’t all that long before things were building fast toward that precipice. Helpless sounds fell from her mouth as she clutched fitfully at his hair, his shoulder and back and buttocks, sliding her hand beneath his clothing to feel his warm skin under her roving fingers. Her hips moved unbidden against him as that heat spread through her tightening thighs and right down to the soles of her feet and up, too, surging in her abdomen and in her chest and in her throat where Han nipped at her skin, wrenching a cry from her. Love when you make that sound came his muttered words against her neck, his hand working with just a little more urgency, and she gasped back something like Oh Han just—a little further yes oh you’re so good oh gods oh godsohgodsoh—
And then all her sounds were stuck in her throat, and time seemed to hold still; Han’s fingers held still, pressed against her and inside her, his mouth open where her collarbones met, and she teetered for what felt an impossibly long moment on the edge, and then he shifted his fingers so imperceptibly it might have been an accident but it was enough. She came moaning, shaking, nails biting into Han’s back, as he licked a thin line up her neck and carried her through it with soft, fervent kisses.
When she came back to herself he was watching her, warm and perhaps just a little smug. But that was warranted.
‘That was—’ she began, and then stopped, quite unexpectedly finding herself with a lump in her throat, tears springing to her eyes. ‘That was very nice,’ she told him, when it passed.
‘Yeah?’ He rubbed a hand in languid strokes up and down her arm. ‘For me, too.’
‘Hands-on approach, indeed.’ She cuddled closer to him, putting her hand over his chest again. His heart still raced beneath her fingertips, only now it felt strong and vital. It felt a little silly, but she said it anyway: ‘Thank you.’
He looked at her very seriously, and when he said ‘Any time,’ she knew he neither thought her silly nor believed she was referring to the sex. Pressing his lips to her forehead, he mumbled, ‘You feel relaxed?’
‘Very.’ She kissed his chest, eyelids drooping. ‘We really should sleep,’ she noted, reaching for his hand and holding on tight.
She felt his little exhale of laughter stir her hair and heard him say ‘Good idea, Princess,’ as she drifted off.