Han was at what could charitably be called a party. Things had been looking up, the last few weeks—successful missions, recruitment through the roof of the Yavin temple they were still taking refuge in for now. Han, feeling a confusing sense of responsibility to make the Rebel Alliance look as good as possible to the new recruits, had gone the extra light year to ensure they were fully stocked up on food and alcohol. It wasn’t clear who’d decided it was high time they all had a bit of fun, but about twenty rebels were currently breaking into those stocks in the mess hall.
Han hadn’t been involved with anything resembling fun in months, so he would take it; Luke hadn’t been involved with anything resembling fun perhaps ever, so he was already very drunk.
Someone should probably tell him to take it easy.
‘Someone should probably tell him to take it easy,’ Han suggested to Leia, who was sitting on the other side of the table from him with her hands around a mug.
‘Are you kidding?’ she asked, raising her eyebrows. ‘I think Drunk Luke might be this base’s single biggest source of entertainment.’
That was probably true, but spoke more of how boring things were in between being dangerous than anything else. Still, Luke was a sweet drunk, loud without realizing it, prone to outbursts of happy sentiment—‘You’re just the best, Wedge Antilles,’ carried over from the other side of the room—and confident of a number of things he could do with the Force that never quite panned out but were interesting to hear him describe.
Han didn’t, it struck him, know what kind of drunk Leia was.
Actually, two months since the Death Star and he didn’t know a whole lot about her at all. Not that he didn’t get why she was reluctant to talk about herself, when so many of the things she might have told him would remind her of what she’d lost. And what with him leaving very soon, he got why she’d be unwilling to open up to him in particular. What he didn’t get was why—what with him leaving, and all—the fact that he didn’t know her bothered him so much. He liked her, sure, but he liked a lot of people here. It didn’t mean he wanted to be best pals with them.
It was only Leia, really, who made him hesitate about his future plans—Leia and Luke, but right now Luke was preoccupied with attempting to Force-throw a ping ball into a glass full of terrible beer and Leia was right in front of him.
‘What is that?’ he asked, peering into her mug. ‘Hot chocolate?’ It looked like the fancy stuff you saw in cafes on Core planets, piled high with cream.
With a small smile, Leia pushed it across the table.
For a moment Han hesitated—she didn’t mean for him to drink straight from her mug, did she? But she nodded toward it and it became clear that was exactly what she meant, so he picked it up and took… well, it was thick enough on top that a “sip” wasn’t really doable, so he sort of curled his lip around the fluffy white substance, enough to get a mouthful of it.
It was not hot chocolate, but it was delicious.
‘It’s a Triplehorn Snowstorm,’ Leia said, looking pleased with his reaction. ‘I probably shouldn’t be wasting the supplies from your run to Genassa, but we so rarely have fresh eggs and I’ve missed this.’
‘This ain’t a waste, sweetheart,’ Han assured her, tasting it again. It was sweet without being sickly, the texture silky smooth. ‘Hey,’ he added, when he was done savoring it, ‘you were on that run anyhow; wouldn’t even have pulled it off if it weren’t for you.’
‘That’s an exaggeration,’ she said, flushing. ‘Have more; I shouldn’t have the whole thing to myself.’
Part of him wanted to argue, but another part was already lifting the mug to his lips again.
‘You don’t wanna share it with someone else?’ he asked.
She shook her head, which Han didn’t know how to react to, so he lifted the mug again, finding it got easier to drink the further down you got, the sweetness giving way to something richer, something warming despite the cocktail’s name.
‘What’s in it?’ he asked her, swirling it around the mug with interest.
What was in it, it turned out, was an absurd amount of alcohol for something that most closely resembled good cake frosting. (Not that Han had ever had good cake frosting, or much in the way of cake frosting at all, but he’d caught enough episodes of The Great Galactic Baking Show to be able to guess what it might taste like.) And it also turned out that in the right company Han could be rather prone to happy sentiment while drunk, too.
He was better than Luke at the not-saying-it-out-loud part, which was good, because about twenty minutes after his first taste of a Triplehorn Snowstorm he was sitting with his chin propped in his hand and thinking dopily about how lovely Leia Organa’s smile was.
‘Oh dear,’ she said, directing that lovely smile at him. ‘I’m so sorry. I should have warned you.’
‘’S’fine,’ Han promised. ‘’M feelin’…’ He held out his hand in a wobbly sort of gesture that he was hoping would become a thumbs up, only Leia evidently thought he was reaching for her hand, because she laced her fingers together with his in the middle of the table.
‘Now, listen,’ she said, as Han was staring at their joined hands. ‘I think I should take you outside to sober up.’
‘Okay,’ he said. Her hands were small.
‘Maybe yours are big,’ she suggested. Maybe he wasn’t that good at the not-saying-it-out-loud part. She didn’t seem bothered, though. ‘Come on,’ she continued, standing and encouraging him to do the same, and they walked the length of the mess hall table with their hands joined over the tabletop.
No one noticed. Luke had successfully done the thing with the ball and the beer glass, though whether through the Force or just throwing it, Han wasn’t sure, and didn’t care to investigate.
Outside the temperature had dropped, so Han didn’t let go of Leia’s hand, just let her guide him to sit down against the stone walls of the old temple.
‘It’s nice out here,’ he said, drawing his knees up to his chest. ‘People should come here, I mean, people should just… look at the view or something. I bet the view’s real pretty.’
‘People do,’ Leia said, sitting next to him. ‘I come out here and sit a lot.’ She nudged him gently. ‘The view’s better in the daylight.’
‘That’s two things,’ Han realized.
‘That’s two things I know about you, now. One,’ he held a long finger aloft, ‘you make a good Tipplehorn Snowshoe; two—’
‘It’s a Triplehorn Snowstorm,’ Leia corrected, smothering a laugh.
‘Two,’ he repeated sternly, ‘you like nice views.’
‘Who doesn’t like a nice view?’ she asked. She turned, angling her body toward him to look at him properly. ‘You know more than two things about me.’
‘Sure,’ Han drawled. ‘I know you’re twenty and you’re smarter than most of the other folks in High Command put together and you got more principles than anyone I ever met, and you’re nicer than anyone too even if you can be kriffin’ terrifying—’ All right, so it seemed he was actually terrible at the not-saying-it-out-loud part, but he’d started now and it seemed he was just going to ramble on until he’d finished the thought. ‘And you’re funny and the run to Genassa was great and—Hey, did you get me drunk on purpose?’
‘No,’ she said. ‘Why do you think you don’t know anything about me? You can ask me things, you know. I think people are scared to. But it’s not like I’m ever not thinking about Alderaan, so… it’s nice to think about the best parts of it.’
She held up her mug, which Han had not noticed she’d brought outside with them.
‘I don’t think I should have any more of that,’ he said.
‘This isn’t for you; I’ve barely had any yet.’ She lifted the mug to her mouth.
Han watched as she drank and then set it down next to her, sitting with her back to the wall again and, very matter-of-factly, resting her head on his shoulder. ‘Here’s something about me,’ she said. ‘I know you want to leave, but I’d really like it if you’d stay.’
Han’s heart did something funny in his chest, and for all he didn’t know her yet, he did know, suddenly, that he wanted her in his life for a long, long time.
‘Fine,’ he heard himself saying. ‘I’ll stay. Just for a bit.’