Belated Merry Christmas! Hope your holiday season has been wonderful and filled with many blessings! (And thank you all so so much for the wonderful support you provide me :))

Well, this was a difficult chapter to pull together and write - I don't derive any pleasure from them fighting, but it does play a role in the big picture of this story.


Maybe it was the Bruidich doing funny things to him, but at that very instant Han Solo could almost swear he had an out-of-body experience, watching his drunken - but nonetheless still-coherent-self, being propositioned by a ready and willing former lover...

Despite having imbibed in way too much booze, two things remained crystal clear:

First, that he could screw this long-legged red head if he really wanted to. Right now or probably at any other time that suited him.

Second, but most importantly, was that he wasn't interested in Jasmina. Or any other woman, for that matter. And he knew that he never would be.

Because he loved Leia with his entire being. And even if other people mistakenly viewed him as a heartless dog, he would never break their marital vows, never betray the love of his life who gave him - in his once-shitty, meaningless existence - a higher purpose and a reason to wake up in the morning.

Shaking his head at Jasmina, he explained in a firm but malice-free tone, "No, Jassie. Never. I would never two-time my wife. I would know, and that makes all the difference in the world. Ya see, I'm in love with Leia and I always will be. She's mine and I'm hers, forever," he finished, turning away from her dumbstruck expression and weaving into the corridor with a singular goal burning inside of him.

Nothing would keep him away from his princess. No matter how many walls she erected, he would figure out a way to climb them.


Solo plowed through the apartment's door without any preface of stealth, intoxication causing him to stumble as he toed off his boots, kicking them into a shadowy corner of the room. Would she already be asleep in their bed? He wondered before immediately honing in on a tiny, motionless form on the sofa.

It only took a handful of loose, lanky strides to reach his wife – curled up on her side, lost in slumber, with part of the blanket that was covering her trailing onto the rug. In the muted lighting, he stood over her, motionless and mesmerized by the hypnotic contrast of dark, thick lashes against her fair, beautiful, face...those full, kissable lips slightly parted as a soft sigh escaped. His gaze caressed over her arms which were positioned one atop the other, hands neatly folded as if in a silent prayer. My angel, Han mused, his grin widening upon noticing her chosen nightgown for the evening - one of his shirts - the large disparity between their sizes creating plenty of room for her swelling baby bump.

Unable to resist any longer, he knelt down and leaned over to ghost his touch over Leia's chestnut hair which cascaded over her luscious curves and valleys. She was nothing short of a goddess come down from the heavens. His hands had already shifted the blanket, giving his fingers the opportunity to crawl up her exposed thigh then spread open her shirt, her creamy skin sending jolts of arousal through him. She was so warm, so soft...

Her body shifted toward his touch and, emboldened, he began drawing nondescript patterns around her abdomen, lowering to breathe against her flesh, "Wakie, wakie, Princess," dropping open-mouthed kisses, then grinning when she shivered and exhaled unevenly.

The sensation of Han's lips tickling her skin, combined with his velvet timbre awakened her and, rubbing the sleep from her eyes, she murmured his name through a drowsy smile. "You came back! I'm so glad you did. I'm sorry for that nasty message I sent you earlier," Leia started to apologize, pulling herself up to a semi-seated position against the cushions so as to see him better.

"Yeah, well, you know better than most that I ain't too good at followin' orders," Solo dismissed, an electric thrill running up his spine at his wife's delicate touch, currently tracing up and down each of his fingers. "Gods, I missed ya, girl...couldn't stay away any longer..."

It didn't take long for the princess to notice his glassy, bloodshot eyes and how some of his words slurred together...the way his body occasionally swayed in a windless room...

He was inebriated and showing it.

Very inebriated. She'd never before seen him show his liquor like this, no matter how much he drank. Before she had the opportunity to comment on his condition, he claimed her mouth with his, though not in an overbearing manner.

Somehow he figured a way to join Leia on the sofa without crushing her, straddling her on his knees and bearing the brunt of his weight on his forearms, seeking entrance to explore her mouth, which she readily accepted. Her hands stroked his stubbled cheeks before threading through his mop of hair the way he always loved, kissing him back...

The taste of liquor on his tongue confirmed her suspicions, combining with the scent of cigar smoke caught in his clothes, along with something else...something exceedingly faint, yet too sweet for her pregnancy-enhanced sense of smell, urged her to pull away. "Han Jaken Solo, you stink like a cigar factory!" she chided playfully at his crooked grin – which currently seemed more lopsided than usual.

"I did indulge in a stogy. Or two," he drawled matter-of-factly before barraging the side of her neck with kisses, hearing her sigh of pleasure as he nipped at a tendon...

A pleasing warmth glimmered inside her lower abdomen and swiftly spread in between her legs, but she still managed to press, "It smells more like ten. And you're drunk as a Rambi at Falifest!"

Biting a little harder this time, he delighted at the sound of Leia's high-hitched squeal of laughter, looking up briefly to shoot her a devilish grin. "Correct again, baby doll. And I intend on getting still drunker – 'xcept this time on you," before returning to burn a hungry path toward her cleavage. She tasted so sweet and smelled like vanilla and spices and something else. Woman. His woman. Abruptly, Solo lifted himself off the couch. "You. Me. Naked. Now," he rasped inelegantly, eager to shed every article of clothing and fuse their bodies together...

Standing up with him, the princess' body hummed with arousal as well, but her brain wouldn't let go of its list of questions. On her tiptoes, she brushed her lips against his while suggesting through a giggle, "I love your romantic side, captain. First, though, I think some conversation is necessary. A lot has happened between us today and we really do need to talk."

"Sure, but I think doing each other might help us figure a few things out," Han countered, waggled his brows at her while tugging on the uncooperative clasps underneath his Adams apple.

Smirking, Leia reached out to offer her tipsy husband assistance. "I must admit, your negotiation skills are exceptional," she teased, her fingers easily undoing the first two buttons before her gaze was drawn to a reddish stain near the upper portion of his lapel, another smudge in the area covering his collarbone. He must have cut himself shaving, she speculated until looking closer. No, it wasn't blood. Blood didn't have a sparkly sheen to it. Immediately, her breath went out of her lungs as explosively as if she'd been punched.

No. It couldn't be. Could it? Her thoughts began to falter, as did her voice, which came out hardly above a whisper. "Oh my...what have you done?"

Why was she looking at him like that? Han wondered bemusedly while finishing the last of his shirt buttons, taking a few seconds to scan over his exposed chest in search of any new bruises or cuts. Finding none, he gave a casual shrug. "Nothin' too crazy. After cleaning the Falcon's fridge, I decided to pay a visit to the Rogues for a little Sabacc. And kreth, did I ever get lucky," he boasted, tossing a bag of credits from his front pocket onto the cushions, along with his belt and holster, eager to pull his wife into another kiss. But his unfortunate choice of words fed her imagination, and she dodged sideways, evading his grasp.

Get lucky? "Yes, clearly, I can see that. But, why? could you do this?" the princess choked out painfully, her hand flying up to her throat as dismay cut off any ability to speak.

He tilted his head at her. "Why are you gettin' so bent out of shape over me having a few cocktails and playing cards?" He hiccupped through a quizzical chuckle, still oblivious to the cause of this sudden change in her demeanor. Maybe it was hormones?

Initially, all Leia could do was point at the evidence before croaking, "Based on what's smeared on your shirt, it looks like you were doing more than just playing Sabacc." Irritation at his continuing dumbfounded expression began to tint her cheeks pink. "Look at your collar. Is that what I think it is?"

Blinking slowly, he followed her directions, dragging his shirt off and glancing over the material. Finding the incriminating marks, recognition hit him like a blast from a stun gun. Oh fuck. His luck had just crashed and burned. "Shavit."

"Whose is it? Jasmina's? Kitta's? Some other tramp that I'm not aware of?" the princess blurted, still in a state of shock that this conversation was actually occurring. Perhaps this was a nightmare. Soon she would wake up and -

Completely caught off-guard by this turn of events, he muttered, "It's Jasmina's," still gaping at the red streaks that shouldn't be there. They wouldn't be there, if only he had turned around and left the barracks the moment he'd noticed that she'd come to gamble, too.

A strangled cry burst out of Leia as he sheepishly dropped the shirt behind him. "Oh my gods, oh my could you do this to me? to us? To spit on our marriage like this," she gasped at her husband's apparent confession, shakily sitting down onto the sofa and burying her face in her hands.

In his whiskey-addled brain, the lights finally went on and Solo flew to her side, exclaiming in desperation, "NO! Now, wait a minute, you got this all wrong! Jasmina was my doubles partner, but that's all. After we won our match, she plastered a kiss on me-"

"So, you admit kissing...what else?" she quietly sobbed into her palms.

"No - she kissed me, but I pushed her away! And I told her I wasn't interested in anything else she was offerin'. Nothing else happened, I swear!" Han asserted emphatically, many of his words tumbling out so quickly that they blended together. There was no doubt the optics looked horrible, but he was telling the truth. Leia would understand. She would accept his explanation, he was certain, a thin sheen of sweat beginning to dot his brow while waiting for what felt like forever for a response from her. Seconds ticked on like hours.

At last, she raised her head to reveal a distraught, tear-stained countenance. Doubt was staring back at him.

An acute pain, one Solo had never before experienced, suddenly hit him squarely in the chest, penetrating all the way through to his heart. Just how big of an asshole did she think he was? Adultery? He tried and failed three times before finally being able to stammer, "You don't actually think that I messed around on you, do you?"

Leia hesitated, a tiny interior voice whispering to believe him, while hurt and confusion coalesced into a painful lump which refused to be swallowed away. "No...well...I...I don't know. Good goddesses, Han! What am I supposed to think? You stagger in here, with lipstick smeared on your clothes and smelling of...of-" oh, what was it? Now she knew! "-of cheap perfume!" she snapped, humiliation and indignation stinging at her eyes again, which she hid a second time in her hands.

Panic started setting in. "I know this looks rotten, but I swear, I didn't do anything wrong! It's not my fault that Jasmina threw herself at me! Please, honey," Han pleaded before reaching out to stroke her hair, but upon feeling his touch she recoiled, springing to her feet and moving to put the sofa as a physical barrier between them.

"Don't touch me! Just don't!" the princess spat hotly while pacing back and forth, wrapping her arms around herself in an attempt to stop the tremors overtaking her. "You were the one who decided to go gambling, you decided that selecting her- of all people! - for a partner, was a good idea. Every single person around the base, including me, knows of your history...knows that you used to sleep with that hussy. How careless, how foolish can you be?"

He stared at her glumly, accepting the fact that he deserved this lecture, while at the same time never fully realizing - up until now - how she could so easily shred his insides with her words. Would she run away from him? Reject him, again? Like she did earlier? An old, harsh defensiveness emerged and he found himself meeting her heated glare with his own. "We only played a lousy card game, for godssakes, in a crowded room full of people, no less! But since it's pretty clear you don't trust me, what's the next step? Should I call in witnesses for my defense, counsel?" he grunted sarcastically. "And on a side note, thanks for rubbing my old mistakes in my face." Maybe all that flowery crap she used to say about his past being in the past was just a bunch of banthashit.

The princess' brain was spinning with competing thoughts. "You selected an 'old mistake' for a partner, so excuse me, but I think I'm justified in calling into question your reasoning and decision-making processes, since they seem to be a bit 'off' as of late. I mean, first, you spring on me out of the blue your plan to return to Tatooine, and now this indiscretion with Jasmina tonight. Why in the worlds would you even put yourself in a position like that in the first place? What in heavens were you thinking?"

Solo jammed his fists in his pockets, angry at himself because he'd screwed up. Again. And that love had made him needy and weak. I was thinking how much I missed you. I was stupidly trying to distract myself through liquor and gambling. Nothing worked. But pride prevented him from admitting this to her and instead he stubbornly maintained, "Because when I play Sabacc, I play to win. Jasmina is a champion doubles player and I had an opportunity to beat that stuck-up bastard, Ty McKaren, at Double-Death, okay? And we did. We crushed 'em."

Her lower back muscles throbbed from the strain of their growing son inside of her and, bracing a hand on her back, Leia jerked her chin at him before sniffing, "Well, that's just fabulous. I suppose you think congratulations are in order. Was it worth it?" He scowled, wearing that looking looking-for-a-fight expression that she knew from past experience could mean trouble.

"Damn straight it was!" he lied obstinately, his temper nearing its boiling point and threatening to overtake him. "Plus, I had nothin' better to do - after you gave me the cold shoulder. After you stomped your foot at me like some spoiled little girl and told me to get lost," he jeered, watching her bosom heave with silent wrath.

She didn't want to budge an inch, wouldn't consider that some of his words might hold some truth and instead, waved an accusing finger at him. "Don't you dare try to turn any of this around on me! I certainly didn't tell you to go out and get rip-roaring drunk and party with one of your old-floozies. You chose that all on your own, Hotshot."

Any remnants of Solo's self-control evaporated into the tense air between them. "Don't you get it? Jasmina wanted me, but I didn't want her! I came back here because I chose you. I always choose you, over anyone else...I always fucking choose you!" he exploded, accidently jarring his knee into a side table and upsetting the porcelain tray resting upon it, spilling over a delicate sugar bowl, along with its contents.

Cussing at the mess, his thoughts briefly changed directions to notice how drops of residual tea had left tiny, circular stains in the bottoms of two cups. Reaching for one, he studied the intricate pattern embellishing its sides, recalling how Carlist had presented the antique Alderaani set to them as a wedding gift. To Leia and me, he bitterly reflected, somewhere in his brain a fire of resentful rage beginning to spark...

After a few more moments his bellicose laughter at the irony of the situation broke the silence. He turned to find his wife sniffling and wiping her eyes as she moved in the opposite direction, likely towards their bedroom, he assumed. His long strides carried him into the hallway's center, blocking any escape. There would be no more hiding from him this time. "Where d'ya think you're sneaking off to, darlin'? You're not going to bed – not yet. Let's continue this pleasant domestic conversation, shall we?"

Swiping quickly at her damp eyelashes, the princess' thoughts flitted in and out of her mind like a frightened bird. Besides the effects of too much alcohol, there was something markedly different about her husband. A suave brutality had surfaced, and his large frame - which was partially silhouetted against the dim light from the kitchenette behind him - was huge; bigger than she had ever seen, transforming him into a slightly swaying, intimidating bulk. Adjusting his borrowed shirt around her stomach, she straightened to her tallest height.

"Pray tell, my dear, how long did it take you - after you threw me out – to invite your bosom buddy, the ever-honorable Prince Ashtean, over to our humble abode?" Han inquired slowly, rubbing a thumb along the rim of the teacup dwarfed in his palm.

"I'm not sure if you're trying to insinuate anything improper occured - which would be utterly ridiculous, by the way - but for your information, I did not invite Fedr over here. He just happened to drop by our apartment on his own accord."

Appraising her with a mocking eyebrow, jealous anger blotted out everything else except reprisal. "How providential. Bottom line, though, is that you freely decided to let him in. You could have told Fedr that you weren't in the mood for company. Or you could have said that you needed - what were the words you used on me? – 'alone-time, to figure things out,' Han air-quoted with his free hand. "But you didn't do either of those things, did you?" he grilled, his eyes glinting ominously as a leashed power strained beneath his calm tone.

In his voice Leia could hear, could almost feel violence fighting and winning its way to the surface and, taking a few steps backwards, she was aggravated to find herself up against a wall. "No, I didn't. And why should I have? What, exactly, are you hinting around at? That you expect me to ask for permission from you to speak with other people?" she questioned crisply, refusing to be bullied, yet curling her toes in an attempt to keep her legs from quivering because his entire persona was unsettling to say the least. "Thank you, but I'm capable of thinking for myself. And I was completely justified in speaking with Fedr earlier. He'd brought over his datapad and a list of queries about our project-" but the logical switch inside of Han suddenly flipped and he cut her off, rumbling something in Corellian which she couldn't understand.

"Please - spare me any more about Fedr and his stupid questions! If he's clueless about something, he can save it for when you're in the Command Center - but not here. Period. I can't believe you welcomed him into our place, while I was banished and left to pace the Falcon like a kriffin' fool, worrying about you and wondering if you were okay – and all that time the two of you were sitting around and socializing over tea!" He ferociously attacked, waving the cup between them before throwing it against the opposite wall, her tiny shriek mixing with the crunch of broken porcelain descending to the floor.

"You're totally overreacting to a situation of which you know nothing about!" Leia exclaimed as he hovered inches away, his eyes holding their frightening glimmer. "You're trying to shift the blame, trying to equate your poor choices tonight with're not being reasonable or fair in the least-"

"To hells with being fair! How do you think that made me feel? To have you pick spending time with Fedr over me – your own godsdamned husband!" His wife's eyes went enormous and she opened her mouth, but he continued, "Did you think I'd be fine with that? Did you think I would just let that fly? Especially after you jumped to conclusions about what happened with Jasmina? Maybe you should try a few minutes on the hot seat and see how you like it... How long did that 'som'bitch stay here? What else, besides datafiles and spreadsheets, did the two of you discuss? Did you talk about us? Jabba?" Han raged down upon her blanched expression. Leia's lower lip was quivering and even in the midst of his tirade he recognized the telltale signs that she was going to start crying within a matter of seconds. But he wouldn't let himself care about her tears. Not this time...

"That's not true! I did not choose him over you! Somewhere inside that thick skull of yours, you know that I would never do any such thing! Why is it that you can't seem to recognize my obligations to others? He needed my help," the princess whimpered softly.

"I needed you! But you cast me out and scorned me...why are you pushing me away?" Han accused through a feral, yet almost panicked groan, his hands coming down heavily on her shoulders, pinning her to the spot.

Shaking her head, her eyelids burned with hot tears as his hands slid down to clamp around her biceps in a grip that would likely leave bruises. "I am not pushing you away...but the way you're're doing a fine job of that all on your own," she choked out, stifling a sob. He was speaking in such a wild manner that no matter what she said, it seemed as if nothing was getting through, leaving her frightened and at a loss for words. There was something else in his eyes, something in their depths she didn't recognize...deeper than anger, stronger than jealousy, something dark and dangerous driving him...

"Is this a trial run you're testing out before Tatooine? Do you think it'll somehow be easier on you when I leave for Jabba if you're mad at me...if you hate my guts? Kreth, I know I'm hard to live with and hard to love, but I need you," Solo cleared the lump of emotion in his throat that threatened to gush forth in an embarrassing display of waterworks. Love had drained him of self-control, made him weak, pathetic.

With her breaths coming in short, panicked spurts, she was unable to discern if he was shaking her or if it was her own body trembling. "Please, Han...stop! Just stop this! you're drunk and acting crazy and its scaring me!" Leia cried, unease roughening her voice. Except for the time when he'd been sick and delirious on Corellia, she'd never been afraid of him. Until now. "You need to sleep this off on the couch," she urged, finally recognizing what was hidden behind the anger and hurt in his gaze - fear - before his mouth suddenly crashed down upon hers, all of his pent-up emotions transforming into a series of rough, almost punishing kisses...

She was gasping his name, her hands pressing ineffectually against his chest while he rambled coarsely, "There'll be no couches, no more locked doors between us, Princess. Ever. Because I can't live without you...I love you, love you with all of my fucked up, piece of shit heart," smothering her mouth again with more desperate kisses.

With a tight grip on her, Han dragged her several paces into their bedroom, the still, hot air and his iron arms wrapping around her like an unyielding cage as he pulled her down onto the rug, sinking them further into the darkness...