Shirtless in Coruscant
Authors Note: For those of you who don't know, my TF.N name is Tahi. In response to a TF.N challenge in which we had to have the characters suddenly realise they were in our story, I wrote this rather silly piece of self-parody it's basically a chance to send myself up. Nothing worse than taking oneself too seriously after all. Look at what it did to Palpatine!
It had been the kind of day that Leia and Han didn't get to enjoy very often a day when they had had time to take a respite and escape the ever-present background of war preparations and political tension to enjoy a quiet trip to the Menari Mountains. Just the two of them no teenage children with expectations of indulging in some of the more active outdoor pursuits available, no governmental guests to entertain and amuse. The sun had shone for them as they strolled amongst the trees, and the breeze had been pleasantly cooling. And for once, nothing extraordinary had happened.
So it was in a mellow mood that the two had returned home. The light filtered lazily through the half-shuttered blinds and the mid-afternoon warmth filled the apartment like a cosy blanket. Han caught his wife's eye as she followed him into their living room and grinned, and was rewarded with a suitably amused smile in return, to which he replied with a hopeful raising of the eyebrows. Leia chuckled and slipped her arms round his neck.
"Making the most of it are you?" she asked in the husky tone that even after twenty years of marriage and three children still sent ionic charges through him.
Han's answer was to scoop her up into his arms and proceed to carry her through the door and down the corridor that led to their bedroom, both of them enjoying the simple pleasure of just being able to laugh and enjoy each other with nobody else ...
He stopped. Leia's smile froze and then turned into a frown. They both cocked their heads on one side in an effort to determine the origin of the strange noise they had both simultaneously become aware of. Obviously, contrary to expectation, they were not alone in the apartment after all.
They listened carefully. The sound presented itself as a muffled thumping noise interspersed occasionally with the distinctive timbre of voices, one male and one female. But there was something else a strange pattering noise, like water.
Now it was Han's turn to frown, and Leia's eyes widened in an unspoken query.
Han placed his finger on his lips and pointed towards the door at the end of the corridor, and Leia's eyes widened again, but not in query this time more in a curious blend of surprise and outrage.
"Those little monsters!" she muttered, and followed Han as he crept soundlessly toward the door, weighing up the possible ways of dealing with this disturbing situation.
"You'll need to get a good grip on it," said a voice that they were in no doubt belonged to their youngest son, Anakin. "This isn't going to work otherwise."
"It's all slippery," a girl's voice, somewhat huskily, complained.
Han and Leia exchanged a knowing glance. No surprises as to who was in there with him.
"There. How's that?" Tahiri questioned with a faint note of triumph.
The reply came as a grunt followed by another louder grunt, and the thumping noise started up again.
"'S good. Keep hold of it." Anakin sounded a little breathless. "Just about there."
Han and Leia shared a look of consternation, and then moving as one person they threw open the door ... and suddenly felt very silly.
A wet and grimy face peered around the transpariplast door of the shower unit. "Hi, Dad, Mum! Have a good trip?"
Another face fresh-complexioned appeared, and gave them a pearly smile. "Anakin thought he'd give you a surprise and fix your shower."
"He gave us a surprise all right!" exhaled Leia, suddenly aware she had been holding her breath. She laughed giddily, partly from relief and partly due to lack of oxygen.
Anakin studied her quizzically. "Are you okay, Mum? You look kind of ... funny."
Leia waved a hand dismissively. "We, er, thought you two were ... uh ... intruders," she finished, hoping the explanation didn't sound too lame.
She saw the look of puzzlement on her son's face, and added hastily. "Well, it was quite a hot trip there and back, so I think I'm going to go and make us some iced pitaro juice. You two look as if you could use a break as well." And with that she hurried back up the corridor towards the kitchen.
"So, uh, what do you think is the problem?" Han asked quickly in an effort to redirect the conversation away from their somewhat dramatic entrance.
"Are you sure mum's okay?" Anakin asked.
Anakin, Han decided, was sometimes a little too doggedly single-minded for his liking. "She's fine," he insisted. "She's just a bit tired. She was hoping to have a little ... uh ... rest." The lameness, he thought ruefully, was catching, and he saw Tahiri, who had been studying him, give Anakin a nudge to catch his attention. The two appeared to exchange some kind of silent communication that involved a lot of eyebrow raising, and ended with Anakin staring at his father wide-eyed and Tahiri smiling with a kind of secretive amusement.
"Oh!" said Anakin. "I see. Okay, well anyway you'll be pleased to know your shower is almost working again. Show Dad what the problem was, Tahiri."
She dutifully reached down and lifted what looked like a long piece of twine from the bottom of the shower tray, that on closer inspection turned out to be a bedraggled and very dead looking silk-snake. "Poor thing must have crawled down the jet and then got drowned when someone switched the water on," she explained.
Han rolled his eyes. The explanation could be summed up in one word. "Jacen!" he growled.
Anakin shrugged resignedly and went back to work reassembling the plumbing.
"It's not really fair keeping wild animals in an apartment," Tahiri observed wisely.
Han shuddered a little at the memory of some of the other escapees from Jacen's collection, the myrmin colony that had re-established their nest in his and Leia's bed being one of the more traumatic. Not to mention the snapping toad in the refresher bowl.
Han suddenly felt very close to his youngest son who did normal things like fixing the shower. "Do you need a hand there?" he asked.
"Actually you wouldn't be able to get me that number one hydrospanner you keep in the speeder would you?" Anakin asked hopefully. "We've been having a bit of trouble with this number two slipping off the joint."
"Ah!" All suddenly became blindingly clear to Han. The whole incident was a case of double entendre.
Double entendre. He smiled to himself as he hurried out to the apartment's parking dock. In hindsight it was actually quite funny the way statements could be misread when you thought of them in the wrong context. And he tracked back over the conversation he and Leia had heard, and laughed.
Hearing Han chuckling as he went past, Leia poked her head out the kitchen. "What's so funny?"
"Double entendre," he grinned.
"Double on what?"
"Entendre. You know, double meanings." He chuckled again and continued down the hallway.
Leia shook her head and wondered if the heat had got to him. Double entendre was not something that was normally discussed in a Star Wars story, and certainly not one set in the NJO era. What was Han thinking?
But there again, what had made her come up with such a strange thought? Maybe the heat had got to her as well.
Unable to think of any sensible solution, she was about to go back to her preparations when there was a knock at the door.
"Hello, Lando." She responded to his friendly hug with one of her own, and pointed down the corridor. "Han's down there if you want him. Just follow the banging er, I mean thumping."
"Yeah, wouldn't mind a word with the old scoundrel. Is he behaving?"
"Of course not," she laughed.
"Good nice to know some things never change," Lando grinned and headed off to find his old buddy, stopping at the door to laugh raucously. "That's a fine mess you've got yourself into."
Then he stopped and a bemused expression replaced the grin. "Hang on, aren't I meant to say what have we here?"
"Yeah," replied Han with a frown. "Odd eh? I've just been thinking about double entendre."
"Double on what?"
"Double entendre you know double meanings."
"Oh," Lando nodded. "Yeah humour based on the possibilities that arise from the semantics of language. Good stuff."
"Are you two feeling all right?" Anakin stared at them a little apprehensively.
"We're fine, aren't we, old buddy?"
"A little hot though," replied Lando, wiping his forehead with a pristine white handkerchief.
"Yeah it is a bit stuffy in here." Han shrugged off his shirt, and Lando followed suit.
"That's better," Lando sighed contentedly and leaned against the wall. "So how are you two young ones getting on?
Tahiri shared a soft smile with Anakin. "We're getting on fine thanks."
Lando tapped his chin thoughtfully. "I think what I meant was how are things going in general, not how is your relationship going? I already know that's going very well."
"Ah," said Han holding up a finger as if to make a point. "Double entendre again." He considered Lando's response for a moment. "Hang on, old buddy, what do you mean you know their relationship is going very well. Do you know something I don't?"
"Well," said Lando pragmatically. "I did spend a bit of time with them recently remember, on Balmorra. But of course you weren't there, so I guess you wouldn't know."
"Know what?" Han was beginning to look uneasy.
Lando laughed and patted his friend comfortingly on the shoulder. "It's okay. They're fine. They're actually quite mature you know."
Han's unease turned to anxiety. "What do you mean by mature? I mean mature has an awful lot of connotations you know."
"Oh perfect," Tahiri muttered to Anakin. "They're going to get involved in some kind of semantic discussion and talk about us as if we aren't here. I'm off to the kitchen."
She let go of the hydrospanner that Anakin had directed her to hold, and a jet of cold water erupted from the dismantled shower pipe. Tahiri neatly avoided the stream and escaped the chaos that ensued as Han leapt in to take her place, receiving a thorough dowsing for his trouble.
"You don't need to worry, Dad," Anakin consoled him. "Tahiri and I wouldn't do anything stupid."
"Of course we wouldn't," Tahiri added from her safe vantage point in the doorway. "As long as this is a TF.N story, of course." She grinned, and disappeared out the door.
Han and Lando stared at each other in bewilderment.
"What in the galaxy does she mean by that?" Lando asked finally.
"Are you going to hold on to this washer or do I have to do it with my teeth?" Anakin demanded.
"You got a problem there, kid?"
They all started at the new voice.
"Hello, Vehn. Didn't expect to see you here," said Han, wiping his face on his forearm.
"No, I don't get to appear very often any more," said Vehn a little disconsolately.
"You should be grateful," Lando observed a little gloomily. "It's not what it used to be."
"What's not what it used to be?"
"Being a regular character. It's not as safe as it used to be. I mean look at Chewie."
"Yeah," murmured Han. "I wish I could." He thought for a moment, and cheered up a little. "Hey more double entendre."
"Double on what?" asked Vehn.
"Double entendre. You know playing with meanings of words and phrases."
"Not something we men get a chance to talk about very often," Lando added significantly.
"Ah," Vehn nodded. "True. Sith, it's hot in here isn't it?" He removed his tunic top. "So, need a hand with anything there, kid? Or are you doing it all yourself as usual?"
"I could do with an extra hand, actually," Anakin grunted.
"You'd better be careful who you make that comment to," laughed Lando. "For instance, there aren't any shapers in the vicinity are there?"
"Hey that's a good one," Han grinned appreciatively.
"I thought you'd appreciate it, old buddy." Lando was quite chuffed.
"What's chuffed?" asked Vehn.
"Pardon?" Lando threw him a strange look. "I was talking about double entendre."
"Yeah, I got that, but I've never heard the word chuffed before."
Lando pondered for a moment. "I think it must mean pleased with oneself, because that's how I was feeling."
"I haven't got a clue what you guys are on about," grumbled Anakin.
"Well that's okay, kid. You're allowed to be clueless. In fact I believe that's part of your charm."
"Ah," a new voice at the door made them all turn. "Sounds like you, fearless leader. A genius in the cockpit, but totally clueless about that crazy little thing called L-O-V-E."
Wedge, who was standing in the corridor just outside with Wes Janson, turned a little red. "I prefer to think of it more as being cautious and selective unlike others I could mention," he added throwing Janson a dark look, "who seem to operate on the Ďanything goes' principle."
"Still it makes good comic relief," Lando observed.
"Yeah," Han agreed. "If it wasn't for Janson and the droids they'd have to call it tragedy."
"Have to call what tragedy?" Vehn looked confused.
"I don't know. It just popped out," explained Han, looking equally mystified.
Anakin stopped screwing a washer back and gave his father a baleful look. "Dad, are you sure you haven't started drinking again?"
Han placed his hand over his heart. "I swear I haven't started drinking again."
"That's because he never actually stopped drinking," Janson chuckled jokingly. He turned back to Wedge who was still looking irritated. "You're looking a bit hot under the collar there, boss."
Wedge pulled out the neckline of his Corellian style tunic top and peered down it. "That's probably because I am hot under the collar. It's stifling in here." He removed his shirt and Wes followed suit.
"Ah," said Han appreciatively. "Double entendre."
"Double on what?" Wedge looked perplexed.
"The art, oh great one," explained Wes, "of creating linguistic humour from statements with multiple interpretations."
Anakin, who had just picked up the shower nozzle so he could refit it, paused for a moment to study the others in disbelief. "Look," he said, waving the nozzle threateningly. "I don't know what game it is you're all playing, but I'm getting a bit sick of it, especially this double entendre business."
"I would have thought you'd find it interesting you being into puzzles and cerebral things like that," Lando pointed out.
"Maybe," Anakin replied. "But don't you think it looks a bit odd a shower full of guys all with their shirts off talking about weird literary stuff?"
Han pulled himself up straight. "Hey, you'd better not be trying to suggest what I think you're trying to suggest."
The door opened to reveal Jaina, who took one look and then screamed and ran off, letting the door slam shut.
Leia and Tahiri heard the sound of feet running past the kitchen door. "Who's that?" Leia called.
"Me!" Jaina yelled back from the safety of her bedroom. "Can you tell me why our shower is full of semi-naked men?"
"What's that?" Leia called back. "I'm having trouble hearing you. Why don't you come in here and talk?"
There was a scrabbling sound and then silence. "I can't find my door," Jaina shouted in frustration.
Leia stared at Tahiri in confusion. "How can you lose your bedroom door?"
"It's a way of keeping her out of the story," said Tahiri cryptically. "And keeping the focus on Anakin and me."
Leia stopped squeezing pitaros and turned to Tahiri with a puzzled frown. "That's a strange thing to say. But there again, I thought something equally strange a few minutes ago."
"What's that nice smell?" shouted Jaina.
"Pitaros," Leia called back.
"Never heard of them. What are they?"
Leia went to explain, and then stopped. "Actually I haven't got a clue. I just had this sudden urge to squeeze some and make juice."
"They're from a place called Iicini'ia," Tahiri interjected. "Which is in the Tarsus Sector."
Leia frowned, and then looked thoughtful, and then stared back at Tahiri, her mouth agape. "Mother of meteors. This is a Tahi story!"
"You got it," smiled Tahiri.
"Of course!" Leia thumped her forehead. The shirtless men, you and Anakin, Anakin fixing things."
"Using stuff that comes from her own made-up sector so she doesn't have to try and remember all the canon names for things."
"No me!" wailed Jaina banging her wall hopelessly.
"At least we haven't had to deal with Star Warsified earth idioms," Tahiri said consolingly.
"If anyone tries to make me use a Star Warsified earth idiom, I'll have their guts for cargo straps!" Jaina growled back, and then wailed again. "Argh! She got me!"
"Oh, no!" Leia suddenly grabbed Tahiri and clung to her desperately. "Somebody needs to warn ..."
The front door was flung open to reveal ...
"Jacen!" finished Leia, horror etched on her features as she studied her oldest son's grey slightly oversized shorts and short-sleeved shirt, his woollen socks and tramping boots, not to mention a sunhat from which hung what looked like corks.
"Hi, Mum," he said cheerily, and pointed to a strange blue-crested bird-type creature that was perched on his shoulder. "Look what I found in the wilds of Zinkabonk'argh'zukatra Minor!"
"Vaping moffs! What is it?" Tahiri asked, wrinkling her nose in disgust.
"It's a Fosh," Jacen announced triumphantly. "As far as I know, the only one of its kind left. What do you think?" He turned to Leia in hopeful expectation.
"Er ... to tell the truth, Jacen, I ..."
The Fosh suddenly reared up on its back-to-front legs. "The truth! You can't handle the truth!" it spat vehemently.
Jacen and Leia stared at one another in confusion. "What happened to the truth is a lie?" Jacen asked the creature somewhat petulantly.
The Fosh's lower beak trembled. "I'm sorry. I don't know what came over me!"
"At least you haven't been marginalised like me!" Jaina shouted angrily through the wall.
"I just don't feel myself," the creature explained pathetically.
"So you shouldn't," Jacen reprimanded. "Feeling yourself is unhealthy, isn't it Mum?"
"Aha!" said Han happily as he led Lando, Vehn, Wedge and Janson into the kitchen. "Double entendre!"
"Dad, will you shut up about double entendre!" Anakin groaned, following him in. "This is getting sillier every minute," he told Leia and Tahiri. "But, one good thing I've fixed the shower."
Everyone broke into wild applause.
Jaina banged on the wall again. "Well if you're so clever," she shouted. "Maybe you can figure out how to get me into the story. And anyway I could have fixed the shower if she'd let me have the tools."
"What's eating her?" Han asked Leia.
"Jealousy," she explained. "The story is Anakin- and Tahiri-centric, so therefore everything revolves around them, along with any chance to generate cheap laughs based on famous lines from popular movies."
"Not to mention making Jacen look like a kind of cross between Steve Irwin and a total wally," added Tahiri.
"All under the influence of some guy called Monty Python," contributed Wedge, "or so I've heard," he added in response to a strange look from Wes.
"Well I've quite enjoyed exploring the absurd, not to mention an alternative side to my personality," said Lando. "How about we celebrate with some of Leia's famous pitaro juice."
"Oh boy," Anakin murmured to Tahiri. "Tahi has a lot to answer for."
"But she does give us lots of time together," Tahiri murmured back. "And remember, if this isn't written for TF.N ... " She winked.
Anakin was quiet for a minute, thinking, and his cheeks turned a little pink. "Well," he said, "I guess as the old Mon Cal saying goes it's an ill wind that blows all the ships off course."
"Well, it's been great to catch up," said Vehn cheerily, finishing his juice. "But I'd better fade back into oblivion now."
"And we'd better return to the background and wait for our next cameo appearance," said Lando, Wedge and Janson, and they followed Vehn out the front door.
"Do you think they'll get arrested?" Leia asked casually. "The authorities might regard four middle-aged men wandering the streets of Coruscant shirtless as a little suspicious."
"Plenty of room for comic relief there," replied Han. "And possibly more double entendre."
"Dad!" Anakin exploded.
"Hey," Han held his hands up innocently. "It's no worse than being made to sound like Indiana Jones or dealing with those damn bugs." He shuddered.
"This story had better end soon!" Jaina yelled threateningly, "because I have to go to the 'fresher."
"Tahi!" Tahiri implored sweetly. "I think Jaina's suffered enough. Could you finish this so she can leave her room?"
"And, um," Anakin added confidentially. "Maybe make sure Lando and the others get home safely or at least give them a good excuse when they get stopped by security."
Awww how can I refuse? Whatever you say, guys. But what do you want me to do with the Fosh?
"Got any more of those Iicini'ian recipes?" grinned Anakin.
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