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falling in and out of time

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They’re lurking on the top of the Senate Dome when Luke says, “I have an idea.”

There’s an instantaneous chill that shivers up Leia’s spine, and on sheer instinct, she says, “No.”

“What—no—okay, okay, so I know where you’re coming from—”

“If you did, you wouldn’t be pushing it,” Leia mutters, but Luke ignores her and keeps going.

“—but this is a great idea, I swear, just hear me out. It'll be fun, I promise.”

A long beat of silence.

“Fine,” Leia says, longsuffering, and hates that she knows she’s going to have fun. Luke’s ideas, while rarely diplomatic or appropriate, were always fun in a sort of breathless, gleeful way.

Yes, she hates that fact. She hates it a lot.

“Thank you,” Luke says gratefully, turning to face her. “Okay, so we know that we’ve time traveled, but we also know that we’ve also somehow gotten launched into a different universe where certain planets in the Outer Rim are inexplicably actually part of the Republic.”

“Yes.”

“And since this is an alternate universe, nothing we do will have any sort of influence on us or our past, present and future.”

“One would assume so, yes.”

“But Palpatine’s still, y’know, Chancellor and probably evil, right?”

“Right.”

Luke pauses.

Leia hates that pause with all of her heart.

“And since—just hear me out, okay?—and since Palpatine is still evil and we’re in the past in the middle of the Clone Wars and our father hasn’t turned evil yet, we could probably just… kill Palpatine and save this universe from a lot of suffering.”

Leia blinks at him, long and slow, before promptly reaching over and shamelessly shoving Luke off of the Senate Dome.

He falls, screaming. But just when his screams have faded and Leia has taken a moment to enjoy the reprieve from insane and improbable ideas, he manages to lift himself with the Force and return himself to his spot by Leia’s side.

“Rude,” Luke huffs.

“You deserved it,” Leia says sharply, facing him. “Murdering the current Chancellor of the Republic in the midst of war? Luke, you’ve had several ideas before, but none have trumped the sheer insanity that this idea invokes. The sheer, idiotic insansity—this probably wouldn’t even be possible, do you realize that? There’s no way we could murder Palpatine on our own. This idea—this idea is just—mind-bogglingly stupid. It’s impossible. Suicidal. Idiotic, dumb, likely to get us killed or arrested, brainless, moronic—there’s no way. No way. It’s a horrible idea. No. It’s awful, Luke, do you understand? We’re not going to so much as consider it—”

 

Leia stares at the Emperor’s corpse in front of her, her blaster still faintly smoking.

Luke beams at her, sweaty and with his lightsaber still ignited. “Told you we could do it,” he says smugly. “And now we’ve just saved countless people from suffering and subjugation.”

Leia’s still staring at the crumpled body, a blaster hole in his brain.

“Did you have fun?” Luke asks slyly, because he’s a bastard like that.

“I hate you,” Leia replies, sighing as she holsters her blaster.

Luke’s still waiting for a response.

“…yes,” Leia admits irritably. “It was fun. And satisfying.”

Luke’s grin widens, happiness rolling off of him in waves.

“I still hate you,” Leia adds.

“It’s okay,” Luke says, patting her on the shoulder, clipping his lightsaber to his belt. “You say you hate Han too, and you married him.”

Leia scowls at him, disgruntled.

“I love you,” Luke says sunnily, and Leia doesn’t bother to dignify it with a response.

She pokes at the corpse with the tip of her shoe, suddenly feels disgusting, and wipes the tip of her shoe on the plush carpet.

“Well, now what?” she wonders. “How do we get home?”

Luke frowns. “That’s a good question,” he admits, peering out of the truly massive window and the gaping hole that they had put in it. “I’m not entirely sure.”

Leia spins on him, affronted. “What do you mean, you’re not entirely sure?”

“Well, I’m not even sure how we got here,” Luke says patiently.

It takes a second or two for that to actually process, and when it does, all Leia can manage is a snarled out, “What?

“It was probably some kind of Force artifact,” Luke continues blithely. “Actually, we probably could’ve asked the Jedi Order for help, but…” He shrugs, and points at the Emperor’s dead body. “I don’t think they’ll be willing to help us anymore.” He glances around the room, and cheerfully waves at the fairly obvious security camera. “Sorry,” he says apologetically. “The guy was a Sith Lord, so… gotta do what you gotta do, if you catch my drift.”

Leia closes her eyes. Takes a deep breath. Good sisters to do not murder brothers, she tells herself. Good sisters do not murder brothers. Good sisters do not murder brothers—

“So we’ll probably have to search every single Force temple here for an artifact that could help us, which will definitely take a while. Maybe a couple years. Hell, maybe a decade!”

There’s practically an audible snap when Leia’s temper breaks, and she stalks over to her cheerfully ignorant brother, grasping him by the collar of his robes.

“I,” she hisses into his far too happy face, “am going to strangle you, you absolute—”

“What the karking hell?” someone demands, horrified, and when Leia and Luke chance a glance towards the now open door to the Chancellor’s office, they see—

“Oh, kriff,” Leia mutters, her grip slackening.

At the same time, Luke beams, and delightedly says, “Father! It’s so good to see you—wow, you’re really young.”

Anakin Skywalker gapes at them, clearly trying to find words, before he gives up and unclips his lightsaber, igniting it with a distinctive snap-hiss. “You—you killed the Chancellor,” he says, his face darkening, the air around him charging with a seething sort of fury. “You’re under arrest. Come quietly, or else.”

“No, no,” Luke says earnestly, and Leia wants to throw him out the window and follow, but she’s too frozen with horror. Gods above, this was worse than the time Luke had convinced her to spike the punch at a Senatorial party celebrating the fall of the Empire, and that had, somehow, resulted in the west wing of the building going up in flames. “Father, I swear he deserved it—he was a Sith Lord—”

“Father?” Anakin demands furiously. “I’m no one’s father, so shut it with your blabbering.”

He advances forward, lightsaber at the ready, and Leia snaps out of it. She didn’t know a lot about the Force, but she knew enough to pick up her biological father and hurl him back out the Chancellor’s office, through the doors of the waiting room and straight into the hallway, where she can hear the outraged gasps and horrified shrieks of various senators.

That particular course of action was met with a howl of rage, and Leia quickly says, “Okay, time to go,” before shoving her brother out of the window and following.

“Really, Leia, that was rude,” Luke chides past the scream of wind in their ears as they narrowly avoid getting hit by a speeder. “He’s our father—”

“I hate you,” Leia says instead of focusing on what was likely to be a long fall followed by a painful death. “I hate you so much. Why do I ever listen to you. Your ideas result in nothing but chaos.”

“You listen to me because we’re twins, and you’re a paragon of mischief too. You just don’t know it yet.” Then, Luke grabs her hands, meeting her gaze with wide, bright blue eyes. “You need to acknowledge this part of you, Leia,” he says seriously. “Your formal upbringing has led you to deny your inner urge to cause chaos for all of those stuck up senators in the Senate, but you need to know it’s okay to set thousands of womp rats on them sometimes, Leia—”

We are falling to a painful death miles below, Luke,” Leia says in what was most definitely a very calm manner and reasonable tone, so really, Luke had no reason to wince and clamp his hands over his ears like someone had just screamed. “So shut up and—ow!”

They’ve landed on someone’s back. Actually, they’ve stopped falling altogether, which was—odd, considering Coruscant’s underground really was miles deep, and they had just jumped out of one of the tallest buildings in Coruscant’s upper levels.

“Hello there,” a woman says from below them, muffled but with a clear undertone of surprise. “Ah—I’m very sorry, but would you mind getting off of me?”

“Yes, yes, of course,” Leia replies automatically, yanking her brother up with her. “We’re very sorry—it was an accident, I swear.”

“It’s quite alright,” the woman assures them, pushing herself up and turning to face them, and—

Oh dear.

“I’m Obi-Wan Kenobi.” The young and female visage of General Obi-Wan Kenobi smiles at them, a little confused and cautious. “Might I ask who you two are?”

Leia closes her eyes, and Luke happily says, “Ben! It’s so good to see you! Even if you’re a girl and really, really young—”

“Shut up, we’re leaving,” Leia snaps, snagging her brother by the collar and dragging him past the clearly baffled Obi-Wan. “Ignore him, he’s an idiot,” she calls back. “And maybe has a concussion, but then again, he acts like this all the time.” The last part is said as a whisper to herself as they turn the corner, leaving a confused and young and female—good gods above, why—Obi-Wan behind.

“For a Senator, you’re rather rude,” Luke says brightly, and Leia resists the urge to throttle him.

Instead, she chokes out a strangled, “I hate you.”

“Again: Han,” Luke reminds her, before clamping his hands on her shoulders and staring her in the eyes. “And—Leia.”

Leia sighs. “Yes?”

“This is another alternate universe,” Luke says insistently.

“I don’t like where this is going, but yes, Luke, this is another alternate universe.”

“Another universe where Palpatine is Chancellor and probably evil.”

Leia blinks. “How do you know that?” she questions, genuinely confused. They’d been here for all of some three incredibly humiliating minutes—they hadn’t so much as visited the Senate to see who was in office.

“It’s on the billboard. He’s taken emergency powers, and I guess all the news stations are covering it,” Luke says, pointing to a billboard behind her that was, indeed, covering Palpatine’s controversial decision to acquire emergency powers. “But he’s Chancellor and still evil, Leia.”

“We’re not killing him again,” Leia warns him.

“What—Leia!” Luke protests, deeply offended.

“We are not killing this universe’s Palpatine, Luke. What we need to do is get home,” Leia says, pinching her brow. “I have work to do in the Senate—Mon Mothma needs me, Luke. I can’t just frolic off between dimensions murdering Palpatine as some kind of twisted but extremely satisfying therapy, alright?”

You can’t—” Luke makes a face. “Leia, killing Palpatine was a group effort. Even if you’re the one who actually takes him out, I need you to credit me. You’ll hurt my feelings otherwise.”

Leia punches Luke in the gut. Hard.

“Okay, I think I deserved that one,” Luke wheezes, doubling over and clearly in pain. It makes Leia feel better. “But Leia—think about it, okay? We killed Palpatine in the last universe, and then we came here. To a different universe.”

“Yes, Luke, I noticed,” Leia says irritably.

“And since this is a different universe than the one we started in, a Force artifact might not work.”

Leia clenches her jaw. “That’s wonderful, Luke. Really. That’s just—great. Thank you so much for that enlightening fact that only increases my urge to throttle you since you were the one who suggested killing Palpatine in the first place—

“No, no, no, hear me out, okay?” Luke placates, raising his hands up between them. “Since killing Palpatine sends us to a different universe, clearly the solution is to just keep killing various Palpatines until we get back home.”

Leia stares at him. “That’s a horrible idea,” she says blandly. “Luke, there’s likely countless alternate universes—who knows how long it’ll take?”

“It’s our best bet, isn’t it?” Luke asks. “And—it’ll be fun. We can come up with new and interesting ways to kill him every time, too. Just to add some variety.”

Leia keeps staring at him.

After a long moment, she just sighs and buries her head in her hands, saying, “You sound like you’re advertising something. We’re going to be murdering a horrible, awful person countless times, Luke. Not providing some kind of service.”

“Well, we are providing a service in a way,” Luke points out, utterly unrepentant. “Again, we’re saving countless people from living horrible lives under the Empire’s reign.”

“Okay, I think I’ve heard enough.”

Leia turns around, and—oh, she had forgotten about General Kenobi. She’s standing behind them with a resolute look on her face, lightsaber ignited.

“I’m not sure what the problem is, but I’m sure that the Order can help you with your… dimension hopping problems. There’s no need to—” She makes a vague, baffled gesture. “Do whatever it is you were planning during that somewhat terrifying conversation. Please come quietly—I’m sure this can be sorted out.”

Luke and Leia exchange looks.

“Knock her out?” Leia suggests, and Luke nods. They turn to face Obi-Wan as one, and she narrows her eyes.

“Very well, then,” she says, implacable, and leaps forwards.

 

When Obi-Wan woke up some number of hours later, every news site was covering the same topic. Chancellor Palpatine had been assassinated—a blaster bolt through the head—and the perpetrators were nowhere to be found.

Obi-Wan blinks. Sighs, tips her head back, and closes her eyes. “Anakin’s going to be furious,” she mutters.

 

As it turns out, hurling oneself out of the Chancellor’s window made for an excellent transition to another dimension. It’s smoother this time, and so they manage to land on their feet, which is nice. What’s less nice is that they show up out of nowhere in the middle of a busy Coruscant bar, and practically everyone stops to stare.

But they manage to slip away and check the news feed, which tells them that it was near the end of the Clone Wars and Palpatine was still in office. The difference for this particular dimension was Tatooine—it was a Core planet and had a senator in the Senate.

An hour and a half later, Palpatine is dead, and Luke and Leia waste no time jumping out of his apartment’s window.

 

They keep going through alternate dimensions, and Luke makes good on his promise to come up with new ways to kill Palpatine. They start a revolt with the clones using what knowledge Leia had from what Rex had told her, they knock Palpatine out and throw him out his own window, they put poison in the air filters, poison in his food, bombs in his apartment—there was one dimension where Palpatine was taking a vacation to his homeworld of Naboo, and they had dropped in just in time to see him board a simple boat and row across the lake.

Luke brought a giant, deadly creature to the surface, and Leia happily shoved Palpatine off of the boat and straight into its mouth.

That one had been fun.

The differences in the dimension’s were fascinating, too. Quite a few just had switched genders, but there was one where the Hutts simply didn’t exist, another where entire planets didn’t exist, one where technology was incredibly advanced, another where technology wasn’t advanced in the least, and one where Coruscant wasn’t the heart of the Republic.

Leia has to admit—repeatedly murdering the man who had subjugated the entire galaxy was mildly therapeutic, if not exhausting.

But then they kill one dimension’s Palpatine, seamlessly slide straight into another dimension, and walk straight into a young Palpatine wearing loose brown and beige robes.

Instinct has Leia pulling out her blaster and shooting him straight in the head, and she dispassionately watches his body crumple to the ground.

“That was fast,” Luke comments, but then—

“Padawan!” An anguished shout, and Luke and Leia look up to come face to face with—oh gods.

“Isn’t that the green troll that trained you for a bit?” Leia asks, somewhat horrified, because that meant—

“Master Yoda,” Luke corrects, equally horrified. “Master Yoda—what are you doing here?”

The green troll stares at Luke and Leia, grief and damnation in his eyes, and he says, “My Padawan, that was. A good Jedi and kind person, he was.”

What.

“Killed him, you have,” he adds, eyes narrowing, and then he draws his lightsaber.

“What the fuck,” Leia says flatly, before snagging her brother’s wrist and booking it down the corridor.

“Palpatine was a Jedi?” Luke demands, and if not for the murderous, two foot tall green troll chasing them, Leia would delight in her twin’s confusion.

“Don’t ask questions, run!” Leia snaps, and with that, they manage to skid around the corner and—

“Hey, hey, hey!”

Leia barrels straight into someone’s body, and they wrap their arms around her. “Leia?” he says, baffled. “Luke?”

“Han?” Leia pulls back, and—oh, thank the gods, it was Han. “Wait, shit—Luke, can you tell if he’s—”

“He’s our Han,” Luke promises, sagging against the wall. “I can’t believe Palpatine was a Jedi,” he mumbles next. “One who was trained by Yoda.”

Leia tugs herself free of Han’s grasp, turning on Luke, because—

“That’s what trips you up?” she demands. “Palpatine being a Jedi? We saw the entire map of the galaxy get rearranged and entire species failing to exist, but Palpatine being a Jedi is what trips you up? There was a dimension where General Kenobi was a senator!”

“No, but Leia—it’s weird,” Luke whines. “He was a Sith, but somehow he was a Jedi? That doesn’t make any sense!”

“You two aren’t making any sense,” Han snaps, grabbing Leia again and pulling her into a hug. “No—no, don’t try to pull free, Princess, I’m entitled to some hugs after that kriffing mess—do you two know how long you’ve been missing for?”

“How long?” Leia asks, muffled by the way Han was clutching her to his chest.

“Weeks!” Han explodes. “And now you’re talking about—dimensions? Palpatine? What the karking hell? That guy’s dead, isn’t he? Your dad killed him or something?”

Luke winces. “Yes, well—we had… technical difficulties, if you will.”

Han splutters, flailing, a rant slowly starting to spill out of his lips, and Leia just rolls her eyes, leans up, and kisses him.

She had a headache, okay? She wasn’t dealing with Han’s rant on top of that.

“Gross,” Luke says, and Leia happily flips him off. She breaks the kiss, thunking her head against Han’s chest with a drawn-out groan.

“How much paperwork do I have?” she mutters.

“Probably a lot,” Luke tells her cheerfully, and she throws her blaster at him, burying her face further into Han’s chest with another groan.

Han pats her on the head.

“Don’t disappear for weeks next time,” he tells her, and she swats his arm.

“Luke’s fault,” Leia explains, adrenaline abruptly disappearing as exhaustion suddenly weighs on her bones. She wonders why for a brief moment, but then it hits her—they hadn’t really slept between dimensions that often, if at all.

A yawn tugs its way out of her chest, and she can practically feel Han melt when Luke does the same.

“Okay, okay,” he mutters, looping his arms around Leia’s waist and lifting her up. She mumbles out some vague protests, burrowing into the crook of Han’s neck.

Leia doesn’t hear it when he calls for Chewbacca to come help him, doesn’t feel it when Han puts her in the huge bed on the Falcon—she’s asleep by that point, and so is Luke.

But she wakes up in the bed on the Millenium Falcon, Luke splayed over her and the vague sound of something being cooked—and also probably burnt—in the cramped kitchen on board, and she can’t help the grin that tugs at her face, impending piles of paperwork or not.