Life On the Edge
Part Five

Rating: PG-13

"Han," Tahiri says, gently touching his wrist again as the Mon Mothma's hangar bay looms near. Her smile twitches, and there's understanding in her eyes. "You don't really have a plan, do you?"

"I'll think of something," he insists. But, at least to himself, he has to concede that it doesn't look good. The remains of the E-wing formation they just savaged are in a close escort around them — pilots who lost their wings back there, their friends. There's a StealthX somewhere out there, too — probably right on their tail, ready to put a shadow-bomb straight through the Falcon's engines.

Not good.

He looks out at the fighters flying parallel to the cockpit, at the pilots he can see under their canopies.

Who are these guys? he wonders.

Then looks back at Tahiri, and tries to smile — to look as though he knows what he's doing. "Trust me?"

"Han," she laughs. "I don't know if you're just crazy, or if there's some dark, twisted place inside your mind that you really do have some way out of this mess."

He blinks, and they swap grins — and then the silence grows solemn and sincere.

"When you work it out," he says. "Let me know, okay?"

"Okay," she smiles. The deck shivers underneath them as the Falcon glides through the magnetic field protecting the Star Destroyer's main docking well. There's a capture bay up ahead, filling up with white-armoured troopers.

"So this is it ..."

They stand up in a single motion, and wrap their arms around each other; they look into each other's eyes, and they lose themselves in a long, slow kiss. In each other, for an endless moment.

It's not quite knocking at the window, but as they finally disengage, they both look out the viewports — drawn guiltily by the knowledge that there's someone down there on the deck, looking up at them.

"Leia," Han says.

His ex-wife is standing with an Alliance officer and a guard of ACT troopers — hands on her hips, staring up at the Falcon's cockpit with a look on her face that he might call disbelief, if it wasn't so damn hard.

He waves back sheepishly at her. Tahiri grins, and hugs him fiercely, making a short animal noise as she grips him.

Leia turns with a snap, and stalks away towards the boarding ramp.

"I thought Jedi weren't supposed to get angry," he says — though either of them could have, really. They were both thinking the same thing. They both laugh.

"Go see if you can talk our way out of this mess, Han Solo," she says, with an affectionate grin, followed by a wink. "You're mine now, Han, and I don't let go easily." And then her voice lowers, and her eyes look away from him. "You owe me."

"Sit tight, beautiful," he tells her, wagging a playful finger. "But keep the weapons systems armed, and keep your eyes open. We may need to bust out of here pretty quick, understand?"

"Yes, Captain!" she nods, flashing him a feral grin, and a cocky tip-salute. He laughs, and shakes his head, and jogs back down the corridor.v Behind him, Tahiri drops back into the co-pilot's seat, spins around, and sets to work.

"Lowie, Tesar!" he calls. "Stay in the turrets, and look sharp. This isn't a surrender."

Bizarrely, he's enjoying himself. They're parked in the main capture bay of an ImpStar, surrounded by hostile troops — with his crazy Jedi ex-wife leading them. And he's got a spring in his step.

Before heading down the ramp, he takes a quick detour to fetch his gunbelt from the forward hold. He's bucking it on when he finally wanders out to meet Leia.

Crazy Jedi ex-wife? he wonders. As opposed to crazy ex-Jedi girlfriend, say...?

And then she's there. Leia. Crazy Jedi Bunkmate, Number One.

Face-to-face for the first time in... well, a few months, anyway.

"Princess," he nods, but it's just a title now.

"Han," she says, wearily. She has her head thrust forward, fists far back on her hips. "I hope you're not planning on being difficult."

"Nahh," he says. "It's you that's being difficult. My crew get fair treatment — they get my protection."

He lays his hand on the hilt of his blaster — as though one old Imperial pilot's sidearm can do much good against a roomful of heavily-armed commandos who weren't even born last time it had a proper service.

Somehow, it feels like the right thing to do — but then, as he looks at the white-robed Jedi woman standing in front of him, he realises that her orders aren't to take them alive. The safety of Alliance personnel comes first.

"Leia!" he gasps.

"I'm sorry, Han." And part of her still means it. But her face is hard like a mask, her eyes are dark and glassy.

She gestures silently to the officer at her shoulder, who says something into his comlink.

Han turns in alarm, as something rushes down on a big hydraulic arm from the high roof of the hangar — a light turbolaser turret, guns deploying and swiveling towards the Falcon's cockpit.

"NO!" he yells. Leia just shrugs.

Then there's a whoosh, and a bang, and smoke, and fire — and there's no more turret on the end of the hydraulic arm.

Just a blackened stump, and acrid smoke, and ozone.

Concussion missiles, he realises, turning back to look at Leia again. Grinning like an idiot. Tahiri.

He meets his ex-wife's dark eyes, and realises she's turning towards him, too — foot out, shoulder dropping. Combat stance. He sees her hand going for her lightsaber.

In a quick-draw duel, there's no question of waiting for the other guy to make the first move.

If you do that, you're dead already.

Han's DL-44 is already in his hand, his finger's pulled back on the trigger — and Leia's lightsaber is spinning out of her hand.

"Kill them!" she screams — an anguished wail, as she drops to the deck, with two blaster-shots through her shoulder. "Kill them!"

He hadn't realised he'd even twitched the trigger twice, but now he's shifting his aim, for a third shot — to make sure she stays down.

"Kill them!" It's a savage animal roar, something he never knew Leia had in her.

Han twitches, and sees the Alliance troopers bringing their weapons up. There must be a hundred of them on this side of the Falcon alone.

And then the shooting starts.

For a moment, Han Solo is sure he's dead. And then he realises that it's the reassuring chug-chug-chug of the belly turret firing, joined by the higher-pitched zip of the drop-down blaster. No normal gunner could work the guns with the boarding ramp — and Han Solo — sitting squat in the middle of the field of fire. No-one has the timing, or the awareness of what they're shooting at.

But Han's crew are Jedi now.

He snaps off a few shots, felling the few troopers who're still on their feet directly in front of him. To either side, there's just bright-coloured carnage, now.

A few have even done the sensible thing, and run away.

Another pair of concussion missiles erupts from between the forward mandibles, and Han wonders what Tahiri is shooting at — until he sees the bright exhaust trails disappearing down the corridor that leads out of the bay — and a vast bright gout of fire blasting back out into the hangar.

"Good girl," he purrs. That should make a real nice mess.

The ramp lurches beneath his feet, and something snatches at his ankle. The Falcon is taking off, her drives whining as she lifts away from the deck. Cartwheels of blaster-fire spin out from the turrets as Lowie and Tesar wheel the big guns round and round, shooting everything that moves — and everything that looks like it might blow up, too.

Dramatic clouds of sparks and smoke explode into the bay, and damaged equipment starts topping from the walls.

Han half-turns, and glances down. The thing gripping his ankle — almost forgotten — is his ex-wife.

"No you don't, Princess," he grins, grabbing her arm and hauling her on board. The ramp slams up, the hatches snap closed, and Han stumbles forwards towards the cockpit, half-dragging Leia.

After a few steps, he drops her, and braces himself against the bulkhead.

"Lowie, Tesar," he yells. "Dangerous prisoner in the ring corridor, if you have time."

No time to work out if they heard. He's already running down the corridor, dropping into his seat beside Tahiri.

"Welcome back," she says, as their fingers lace, and clench tight together.

Like teenagers, he thinks, and in the silence that follows, he notices that the guns have stopped. The sound of things exploding and crashing to the ground gradually fades.

They've run out of thinks to shoot, he thinks, and looks at Tahiri — seeing her smile, her blonde hair, her dancing green eyes — and her scars. "Miss me much?"

"Maybe," she smirks, and he smirks too. "Han — are you thinking what I'm thinking ...?"

"If it's 'how much damage can we do to this Star Destroyer on the way out' ...?" he asks, lifting his eyebrows and looking at her in delight.

Their smirks become vicious grins together.

"See!" he whoops "I told you I had a plan!"

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