When in Mon Cala...
Somewhere on Mon Cala
They were led out into the evening air. The darkening sky was littered with twinkling stars and planets. There was a large fire with food, drinks and laughter. As Leia worked at pressing her host about her meeting with the elder, the quarren placed one forearm over the other and mimicked the motion of the rising and setting sun. He then pointed very animatedly at a gathering of small huts off in the distance.
"I think that means we wait until morning, sweetheart," Han whispered next to her.
Leia thought that he might be right.
They ate. She was starving. And then they drank the berry wine and huddled around the fire with the rest of the quarrens. Leia's mind and heart were in a jumble. She hadn't wanted to try and define what had happened between her and Han today, but it was hard not to. The temptation was too great. Especially when he was still here, so close to her, laughing and wrapping his arm around her.
As awkward as the day had been, her clothes now felt heavy and oppressive. She imagined dancing with Han around the campfire, naked and uninhibited by her titles and duties and worries about her future. The idea was liberating, like Han's lips against her temple had been. His hand against her belly, fingers brushing her breast.
When in Mon Cala...
He looked at her then and she could swear that he was reading her mind. Deciphering every single line of thought, even the still-deeply-buried desires that were unwritten in between them. He could see them all. He tilted his head to the side watching her watching him. The firelight danced in his eyes and he smiled at her.
He was waiting. She could see that so clearly now. Like earlier when she felt that he was on that cliff, stretching his hand out to her. Waiting. Waiting for the one time that she wouldn't stop him. Or, no. Not that. That wasn't what he really wanted, at all. If he was reading her, she imagined that she could read him. And somewhere in the glint of his eye and the set of his jaw, she saw that he wanted a signal. A greenlight. An invitation. Her arms thrown around his neck. Her lips pressed against his. The curl of her finger, urging him to follow as she disappeared into her hut.
She looked over to the cluster of small huts that would be their bed for the evening. It would be so easy. But it would change so much. Complicate so many things. It was very important to her to remain laser-focused on her goals, to see the Empire defeated and democracy win. To finish what her father had started. To right all of what had been wronged. For Alderaan. Her mother. Everyone. And it would be impossible to maintain that singular focus, she thought, with a heart that was divided.
She looked back over to Han and he seemed to read her answer on her face. He took a long, slow sip of his drink and then turned away.
After everything they had gone through to get there, the meeting with the elder tribesman had been a bit anticlimactic. Leia had negotiated for their natural healing herbs and supplements and the elder bargained for a few hydro-electrical engineers. In terms of a successful deal, that was as good as it got.
When they were done, they were each given a small bag with their clothes in it and were taken back to the city on a quick moving boat that traveled across Lake Formyle and up a river. It was a much faster and easier method of transportation than their hike to get there. As the wind whipped through Leia's hair, she watched the landscape of Mon Cala speed by. Han sat across from her, his arm against the railing and his face turned into the wind.
Onboard The Millennium Falcon, leaving Mon Cala
Back on the Falcon, on the way back to the Alliance base, Leia typed up her report and checked her messages.
"Looks like we got another assignment," Han said, walking into the lounge. He had apparently been checking his messages, too.
"Looks like," Leia replied.
"You ever been there?"
She looked up at him. Ord Mantell was a mid rim planet, sparsely inhabited and home to an Imperial deep dock. Chances were this next mission wouldn't involve bathhouses and elder tribesmen.
"No," she replied and then ventured, "It'll probably be a stealth run."
Han scratched the back of his head and stretched. "It'll probably be trouble," he replied, before turning away and heading back to the cockpit.