Chapter 10

Jedi Temple the next morning

Leia sat in class, more fidgety than normal. She had decided to ask Jami outright about the essay, and why he had not given it to her father. She could only imagine one reason why he wouldn't have, and that reason made her feel sick in her stomach. He must have forgotten…maybe he got sent out for supplies by his mentor…there has to be a good reason, she told herself. Glancing up at the chronometer on the wall, Leia was relieved to see that class was almost over. As much as she liked Master Halycone, she found that today his class was dragging on far more than usual.

"Is everything all right, Leia?" Neeja asked, Leia's restlessness not having gone unnoticed by him.

"Yes sir," Leia replied at once.

Neeja wasn't convinced, but simply nodded. "Very well, time's up for today, class," he said. "Remember to complete your assignment for next time- you will be penalized for tardiness," he reminded them.

As the padawans headed for the exit, Leia pushed ahead of them and out into the corridor.

"Geez, Leia, watch it!" one of the other padawans chided her, but she paid him no heed and simply proceeded down the corridor in search of Jami.

Luke watched her go, knowing where she was going. He didn't notice who had come to stand beside him.

"Is she okay?"

Luke turned and nearly jumped out of his skin when he saw Taza standing beside him. "Uh…yeah, I mean I think so," he stammered.

"Is it that boy she likes?" Taza asked as they walked to the refectory together.

"Yeah, I think so," Luke replied. "My dad's not crazy about Leia liking him."

Taza frowned. "Why not?"

"He doesn't know this guy at all," Luke explained. "I mean, it's not like he's in our classes, where he'd get to know him well. I think if she liked someone who was a padawan, someone our dad knew, he'd be okay with her dating him. But Jami is practically a stranger to my dad, so he doesn't trust him."

Taza nodded. "I see," she replied. "So…your dad or any of the other masters wouldn't mind a padawan dating another padawan? Is that what you're saying?"

Luke felt his face growing warm, and cursed himself for being so ridiculously shy. "Y-y-y-yeah," he replied. "I mean, I think that's what it means…who knows, right? All the masters aren't the same. I know my dad would be okay with it, though."

"How do you know?" she persisted, trying not to smile as Luke's face grew pinker with each word.

Luke swallowed hard, and remembered the conversation he'd had the previous night with his father. Why can't I be cool, like him? He bemoaned to himself. "Be….cause I was talking to him about wanting to ask someone out," Luke said, feeling as though his ears were on fire. "Someone in our class."

"Oh, that's nice," Taza said, suddenly crestfallen. "Can I ask who?"

Luke smiled, sensing that she was truly hoping it was her. "Yeah, it's you, Taza," Luke replied. "I was hoping you'd like to go out with me sometime," he said, with far more cool than he'd imagined possible. "What do you think?"

Taza smiled. "I think you're absolutely adorable when you blush, Luke Skywalker," she said, linking her arm through his. "And I'd love to go out with you."

Luke nearly fell over from the relief that filled him. He noticed that his father was approaching them in the corridor, and smiled at him. Anakin returned his smile, sending him a silent message as they passed one another. Told you I'm always right...

Leia had not found Jami yet, and was starting to grow frustrated. She poked her head into an empty classroom to see if he was there, and was disappointed to only see Han Solo within.

Han had been waiting for an opportunity to speak to Leia about what he'd seen at the pub the previous night. He stood up as she poked her head in, deciding to take advantage of the fact that she was alone.

"Leia, can you come in here for a minute?" Han called as Leia withdrew her head. After a moment she appeared in the doorway, looking suspiciously at him.

"What did I do now?" she asked.

"Nothing," Han said. "Please, sit down. There's something I need to talk to you about."

Leia frowned, not liking the seriousness of his tone. In the short time she'd known Han, she had come to realize that he had a dry wit about him, and one never quite knew when to take him seriously. "What is it?" she asked. "Did I fail my test?"

"It's not about the test," Han said, sitting down across from her. "It's about that dude you like, Jami Remiko."

"What about him?" Leia asked, growing defensive. "And why is who I like any business of yours?" she felt compelled to toss in.

"It isn't," Han admitted. "But I thought you needed to know what I saw last night."

Han took a deep breath, hating that he had to be the one to tell her, but knowing that she would thank him for it some day. "I saw him at a club, Leia," he told her. "He was with a bunch of friends."

"So what?" she replied. "He's almost 18- he can go to clubs if he wants."

"Yeah, I know that," Han replied. "But let me finish. Among the group of people he was with, there was a girl who looked about the same age as him."

Leia could feel her heart starting to hammer within her, sensing with dread certainty where this was going.

"He was kissing her, Leia," Han told her. "He had his hands all over her, and hers were all over him. They were making out, Leia. The guy's an asshole, and you need to know it. He doesn't deserve a nice girl like you. He's rancor shit."

Although Leia could sense that he was being completely truthful with her, she still refused to believe it. She stood up so suddenly that her chair went crashing out from under her. "You're lying!" she cried.

"No I'm not lying," Han replied calmly, standing up too. "I wish I were, I hate to have to tell you this, but it's the truth, I swear it. You'd know if I was lying, Leia. You're practically a full fledged Jedi."

Leia frowned, not wanting to admit that he was right. "Did my dad put you up to this?" she asked. "Did he pay you to make this crap up about Jami?"
"Of course not!" Han replied. "Your dad wouldn't do that, and I certainly wouldn't go along with it. I'm telling you the truth! Go and ask Jami if you don't believe me. See if he can deny it- see if you believe he's being truthful when he does."

"I will!" she retorted. "And we'll see who the big liar is around here," she added, and then flounced out of the room.

Han picked up the chair she'd knocked over, wondering if there was a male in the galaxy who would ever be able to handle Leia Skywalker.

Leia finally found Jami working in one of the classrooms. He looked up when she entered the room and gave her a smile.

"Hi," he said. "How's it going?"

"Fine," she said. "How's it going with you? Why didn't you give the essay to my father?" she blurted out before Jami had a chance to respond to her first question.

Jami looked away from her and started picking up his tools. "I don't know," he mumbled. "I guess it kind of freaked me out that you wrote it. I mean, I didn't think things were that serious."

Leia frowned. "They're not," she assured him. "But I thought you'd appreciate the help."

"I did, it's just that…I'm not really into being tied down to one girl, Leia," he admitted to her. "And your dad…whoa…he freaks me out."

Leia's frown deepened, and as she watched him putting his tools away, she noticed a mark on his neck. She took a step closer to get a better look. "Is that a hicky?" she demanded, poking the purple mark with an accusing finger.

"Ow!" Jami shouted, jumping up. He stepped back. "What's the idea of poking me?"

Leia fought against the tears that threatened to fill her eyes. No, she wouldn't give him the satisfaction. Instead she focused on her anger. "You were at a club last night, weren't you?" she demanded.

Jami shrugged. "So?"

"And you were making out with some skank there, weren't you?" she asked next, her dark eyes smouldering angrily.

Jami sighed. "Look Leia, you're a cute girl and all, but…"

He didn't get to finish his sentence, for Leia's right fist connected with his jaw, knocking him sprawling to the floor.

"Han was right," she said, looking down at him. "You are rancor shit."

And with that she left him, and ran out of the room.

Leia was unable to keep the tears from coming as she ran through the corridors of the temple. Ignoring the curious and concerned looks she received along the way, Leia ran to the room where Han had been earlier. Now that she knew the truth, she knew that she needed to apologize to him for earlier. He didn't lie to me, she realized; he was only trying to help…he didn't want to see me get hurt.

Han looked up as Leia entered the room. When he saw that she was crying, he stood up at once.

"What's wrong?" he asked, although he was quite certain that he knew already.

"You were right," Leia told him tearfully. "You were totally right about him."

Han frowned. "He admitted it?"

Leia nodded as the tears rolled down her face. "How could I have been so stupid?" she said miserably. "I'm supposed to be able to read people better than this, how could I have not realized what a jerk he is?"

Han sighed, wishing he knew how to respond. "I guess maybe because you liked him, you were seeing only what you wanted to see," he suggested.

"I feel so dumb," she said quietly. "I really thought he liked me," she added as the tears started up again.

"Don't beat yourself up, Leia," Han said, walking over to her. "The guy's an idiot, but then again most 18 year old guys are. You deserve someone better than him anyway," he added for good measure.

Leia sniffed, trying not to cry, but not succeeding. She let Han hug her as she cried against his chest, deciding that she'd never like another boy as long as she lived.

At dinner that night, both of Leia's parents noticed how quiet she was. Neither knew what was bothering her, for she hadn't said anything to them about her confrontation with Jami. Leia wouldn't have been able to get a word in edgewise with her younger siblings all demanding their parents' attention. In addition, Luke, who had been positively giddy since Taza had agreed to go out with him, was in an unusually exuberant mood and kept cracking jokes and making his little brothers and sisters giggle.

Han was the only one who knew what was wrong, and yet he said nothing, knowing that Leia would tell her parents in her own time.

"So it looks like you'll be leaving us sooner than anticipated, Han," Anakin said when he was able to get a word in edgewise.

Han nodded. "Yeah, looks that way," he agreed.

"Why is that?" Luke asked. "I thought your apartment wouldn't be ready until next week."

"Yeah, that's what I thought too," Han replied. "But I guess the people renting it had to start their new job earlier than they thought. I get the place the day after tomorrow."

"That's awesome," Luke said, although he had mixed feelings about Han leaving, for he'd come to like the young man very much. "If you need a hand moving in, I think there are a few around here who'd be happy to help out."

Han smiled. "That's great," he said. "I really appreciate everything you've all done for me," he added, looking around the table. "You're a great family, and I'm really happy to know you."

Anakin smiled. "I hope you know you're always welcome here, Han," he said. "Even if you're not living here. I know how poorly bachelors eat when they're living on their own," he added.

Han laughed. "Yeah, I can vouch for that," he said. "And don't worry, I have a feeling I'll be hanging around here a lot," he said.

"Well you'll always be welcome, Han," Padmé said, standing up. "Who's ready for dessert?" she asked.

"ME! ME!" a chorus of voices replied.

Han's moving day happened to fall on a weekend, and so he had the help of Anakin and his four eldest children. The younger three wanted to help, but Padmé managed to convince them to stay at home with her and go swimming. They didn't take much convincing.

"Well, this is the last one," Luke said as he set a large box down in the central room of Han's new digs.

Han looked around the place, at all the boxes that were strewn all over the place. "Great," Han said. "Guess I know what I'll be doing all weekend," he stated with a smile.

"Want some help?" Leia asked.

"Sure, if you've got nothing better to do," Han replied.

"I don't," Leia assured him.

"I'd like to stay and help, but…" Luke began.

"But you have a date, I know," Han said. "Get outta here, kid," he added with a smile. "Have fun."

Luke grinned. "Oh I will," he said, and then left.

"Well? Is that it?" Anakin asked as he entered the room with Shmi and Qui-Gon.

"Yep, that's the last of them," Han said.

"Is it okay if I stay and help Han unpack, Dad?" Leia asked.

Anakin was surprised to hear it, since Leia had never particularly liked Han. But he sensed that had changed recently, and he wasn't quite sure why. "I guess that would be okay," he replied.

"Can we stay too?" Shmi and Qui-Gon piped up.

"Sure," Anakin replied. "If Han could use the help."

"Yeah sure," Han replied, "the more the merrier."

Anakin smiled. "Okay, I'll be back later on to pick you guys up," he told her children.

"I'll bring them home, sir," Han replied. "After we order out for dinner of course," he added.

"Very well," Anakin replied. "Have fun," he added, and then left the apartment.

"Hi Mommy!" Anakin Junior said as he entered the kitchen. He was followed closely by his younger brother, Obi. "I'm hungry. Can I have a cookie?"

"Me too!" Obi piped up.

"Sure," Padmé replied. She opened the cookie jar, only to find it empty. "Oh dear, looks like we're all out," she said. She looked down at Ani and Obi. "Would you two like to help Mommy make cookies?" she asked with a smile.

Obi's eyes grew wide. "Make cookies! Make cookies!" he squealed excitedly.

Padmé laughed at his enthusiasm and helped him scramble up onto a chair.

Anakin entered the kitchen at this point, Amidala holding his hand.

"Daddy, we're makin' cookies!" Ani told his father as he came over to him and threw his arms around Anakin's legs.

Anakin smiled at his young namesake, and scooped him up in his arms. "Is that right?" he asked Padmé. "Are we makin' cookies?"

Padmé smiled as he kissed her cheek. "Yes, we are," she replied. "You want to help?"

"You bet I do," he replied, setting Ani on a chair so he could help. "You want to help, Ami?" he asked his youngest daughter.

Ami nodded as she looked up at her father with her big dark eyes. Anakin smiled, and helped her onto a chair too.

To be continued…some day