The Sooner the Better
Sister Shen

Soon he will go away.

I look out the viewport of Cloud City and examine the platform on which the Falcon is being repaired. With the movement of each technician, the installation of each new part, we are closer to going home.

Home ...

What a foreign concept "home" has become. Less than five years ago, my home was destroyed by a madman at the helm of a superweapon.

Now "home" is a thrown-together base; a military installation that can be packed up and moved out in haste. Together I work with soldiers, diplomatic envoys, smugglers, and defectors in the business of making war.

Only a few short weeks ago, I fled this "home" as it crumbled around me on Hoth. I was literally dragged out by a man I loved and loathed, and now found my life preserved.

But for how long?

Then the hyperdrive failed. With all of my effort, I was able to forestall panic as death rained down all around us. I had been sure of my safety, but then found myself in greater peril.

His ingenuity surprised me. Just as I was about to give up, he clawed onto the hulking vessel pursuing us and managed, with luck and skill, to fly his ship safely to Bespin.

During our time here, there has been little to do but sit and wait. We've talked a lot. There isn't anything we've omitted, save for his eventual departure. Our idyll on Bespin will soon end, and then we will leave.

Then he will leave me, and I will have to let him go. After all this time, I've accepted within myself that I love him. And of all times to accept it is the time when I am about to lose him, possibly forever.

Chance allowed us to meet; a rogue princess and a smuggler on the run don't have much chance of making it work, I know that. As time passed, he stayed by, watching over me, though neither of us would admit that was a large part of why he remained.

But then the danger of his prior life as a smuggler came back to haunt him. He risks all to remain at my side, leaving his own pressing business unfinished. To have stayed as long as he has already has caused him great personal loss. As much as I want to beg him to stay, to never leave me, I cannot bear the thought of him losing more than he already has.

Even now, his very life is at stake.

So when he goes, I will lock my emotions away. I will not argue, and I will not let him see my tears. I will share all I have with him as long as he is with me, save for my pain if I can possibly help it.

I notice that I am pacing the room frantically when the door mechanism breaks my concentration.

Think, think, think!

"A couple more repairs and we're in great shape," he said brightly, striding toward me with confidence I'd previously considered arrogant. It would be so easy to forget myself and begin voicing every thought in my head.

"The sooner the better," I fumed to veil my sentiment. "No one has seen or knows anything about Threepio, and he's been gone too long to have gotten lost."

"Relax," he says easily, holding my shoulders firmly, pulling me close to kiss my forehead.

I let him guide me to a seat and promptly lose track of the world around me. He drowns me in his intense gaze, speaking softly, but it's as if I'm unable to comprehend the language. I'm responding, but I'm not truly taking note of the conversation.

"... besides, we'll soon be gone," he tells me softly, trying to alleviate the fears I've communicated.

It hits me again. We can't stay here. I'll return to my place in the Rebellion, and he will go Gods-know-where to repair his life, with luck, restoring it to some degree of prosperity.

Damn him for having a past.

I blurt out, "Then you're as good as gone, aren't you?"

His eyes darken and he looks down regretfully. Were I only able to retract my question ...

How could you hurt him that way?

Before I finish my tirade, the door slides open to admit Chewie. I take note of the basket he carries, particularly the silent golden head atop the pile.

I turn my attention to Chewie and the new problem. I couldn't shake the feeling that the sooner we leave Bespin, the safer we'll all be.

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