The Path Forward

Chapter Two: Abstinence

The Millennium Falcon landed on the fourth moon of Yavin for the first time in over five years. Han Solo performed his ship's shutdown sequence as he kept one watchful eye on Leia. She unfastened her crash webbing and sat in the copilot's seat staring out at the ancient temples in the distance. Han knew that her memories of Yavin were mixed at best. It was where they fled after their escape from the Death Star. It was the sight of the Alliance's first substantial victory against their dominating enemy. It was also home to some of their first memories together.

He unfastened his crash webbing and turned towards her. "Hey."

Her head turned, her eyes meeting his as a tender smile crossed her lips. "Hey."

"You ready?"

She stood up and held her hand out to him. He took it and stood up before her. Pulling him along with her, she made her way to the exit. Han followed behind her without saying a word.

The Falcon's gangway lowered and Han followed closely behind Leia as she began to descend the ramp. The thick, humid air of Yavin greeted him halfway to the ground at about the same time as one very excited Jedi Knight.

"I can't believe you're here!" Luke exclaimed, first hugging his sister and then pulling Han in for a quick hug.

"I told you we'd come," Leia answered with a wide grin.

"How long can you stay?"

"Just three days," Leia replied as they all began to walk towards the temple.

The couple's first day on Yavin IV was spent touring the old Rebel base and marveling at all the changes and improvements that Luke and his students had made. They were also introduced and warmly welcomed by all the new Jedi trainees that had been rounded up from around the galaxy to train with Leia's twin.

Late that first evening, the trio enjoyed a quiet dinner with Luke around a small table on a raised balcony overlooking the thick forest and a nearby stream below. The twins chatted incessantly, their voices mixing in with the sounds of the woodland insects beckoning the coming sunset. Although he remained a part of their conversation, Han mostly sat back and watched Leia. She looked relaxed and content, and this, the first part of his plan, seemed to be coming together very nicely.

Moving the food around on her plate, Leia asked, "So, Luke. Have you made any decisions about the Jedi and marriage? I know the last time we talked about it you were still undecided."

"Well, I wouldn't say that I have reached a final decision yet. I would like to get at least a rudimentary council together before I start establishing bylaws. But, I have researched all of the reasons that the old Jedi Council forbade marriage." Straightening himself up in his chair and looking as if he was searching for the right words, Luke continued, "The path of a Jedi is paved with sacrifice and restraint. We are meant to act on our passion for humanity and justice, not our own desires and needs. Abstinence was a large part of controlling that tendency towards selfishness."

Han placed his elbows on the table, finding it difficult to remain a spectator in this particular conversation. As he leaned in towards Luke, he said, "Trust me, kid. Abstinence ain't all it's cracked up to be."

"And what would you know about abstinence?" Leia questioned incredulously.

"What do you call the six months of nothing I got after Endor?" Han replied as he watched both of the twins sitting at his table blush. Unfazed, he added, "And the three years you held out before you finally-"

"Han!" Leia screeched as she mostly playfully punched him in the arm.

"Anyway," Luke started and as soon as Han and Leia turned their attention back to him, he continued, "my instincts tell me that marriage should be allowed among the Jedi."

The playfulness of the conversation quickly dissipated as Han and Leia both remained silent.

Placing his fork down beside his plate, Luke continued, "Honestly, I have to admit that you two have been a huge deciding factor for me."

Han turned to look at Leia at the exact same time that she did the same. Turning back towards Luke, Leia asked, "How so?"

Picking up his fork again and moving his food around on his plate, Luke explained, "Oh, I don't know. Just seeing how you two are together, it really convinced me that a relationship…" Luke stilled his hands and looked back up at the couple across the table from him and said seriously, "That love is akin to all the basic human necessities. Almost as important to the growth of a person's soul as water and food are to its physical body."

There was a long silence while the three people sitting at the small table digested the Jedi's words. It was Han that spoke first when he picked up his glass, took a sip of his drink and then said, "Alright, kid, who is she?"

Luke smiled as Leia poked Han in the ribs with her elbow and scolded him yet again. "Han!"

"That's funny, Han. But I am serious," Luke replied and then added, "Besides, and this isn't something I factored too heavily into my decision, but…how will we continue to populate the Jedi council if we do not allow our Jedi to…populate."

Leia stared at him for a little bit and then turning back towards her plate she deadpanned, "I've already told you, Luke, I'm not going to be your Jedi baby factory."

Han nearly spit the contents of his mouth out on the table as Luke laughed at him, and it wasn't very long until Leia couldn't help but join in, too.

The rest of the conversation paling in comparison, the trio had fallen into a long silence as they finished their meal. Han watched as a gentle breeze traveled through the trees below them and then up through Leia's unbound hair. He took a deep breath; the air was hot and humid and it smelled like the forest – all earthy and green. The stone landing surrounding them was wet with the remnants of a typical afternoon shower and the puddles glistened in the setting sun.

Leia sighed deeply as she sank back into her chair and held her hand out to Han. He held her hand inside of his and gave it a squeeze. The couple sat like that, hand-in-hand, as the conversation picked back up and they laughed and talked with Luke until the massive, orange planet of Yavin hung low against the treetops ahead of them.

Luke looked at Han and then drew a deep breath as his expression grew serious and he turned to Leia and said, "You know, I've spoken to father. He's very connected to me here."

Han felt Leia take her hand from his.

Luke leaned forward again as he said, "He's…he'd like to…"

"You know what?" Leia replied as she straightened herself up in her chair, "I'm just not there yet."

"I can understand how you feel after everything that happened-"

"No, Luke. Everything he did to me, and you…and Han. It didn't just happen."

Luke raised his hands up to her and said, "Right. You're right."

Han took a deep breath and dragged his hand over his face. He felt sorry for Luke in a way; he knew he was only worried about his sister and Han had been in his shoes more than once over the past year.

After a short silence, Luke said, "Leia, regardless of who he is, even if he wasn't our father. I would strongly counsel you to let go of this hate before it consumes you."

"It's not hate, Luke. I don't think it's hate. It's more like…hurt. And I'm working through things in my own way."

"Okay," Luke whispered.

A soft howl in the distance echoed in the momentary silence and Han let out a tired yawn before standing up and offering his hand out to Leia as he said, "I think it's about time we called it a night."

The trio said goodnight and Han watched as Leia gave her brother a long, lingering hug. Nodding his head at the young Jedi, Han shook his hand and put his arm around Leia as they exited the balcony and made their way to their quarters.

As Leia disappeared into the 'fresher, Han began to sort through his clothes and turn down the sheets on their bed. After a short time, he entered the 'fresher and found Leia standing in front of the mirror and staring at her reflection.

He walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her. Resting his head on her shoulder, he sighed and said, "You alright?"

"I don't know, am I?" she replied as she met his eyes in the reflection of the mirror.

Han exhaled a heavy breath. Pulling away from her a little bit, he began to massage her shoulders. "He's just worried about you, that's all."

She spun around and faced him. "I'm just not where he is with all of this." Resting her head against his chest, he embraced her and she said, "And there's no shortcut for me to get there."

"Nobody's asking you to take a shortcut, honey. But…"

Leia stepped out of his arms in response to his silence. "But what?"

"Well, you tend to shut people out when they're trying to help you."

She chuckled softly and shook her head. "What? Like the six months of nothing you got after Endor?"

Han smiled and chuckled a bit himself. "Yeah, something like that." He stroked her cheek with the backs of his fingers as his thoughts quickly began to center around an entirely different topic than her brother and her father.

Tilting her head to the side her smile widened as she said, "What?"

"Oh, nothing." He pulled her to him again and rested his hands on her lower back. "Just…being back here…and all this talk about abstinence, kinda got me thinking."

"Oh, yeah?" She rested her hands on his chest.

"Yeah. Of you, in that white gown all those years ago…draping that medal around my neck."

"Uh-huh." Her hands began to slide up towards his shoulders until her fingers locked together behind his neck.

"You think we could find your old quarters and dig that thing up?" He lowered his head to her ear as he whispered, "I've gotta coupla ideas for that outfit that just might earn me another medal."

"You keep talking like that, Solo, and you're gonna need another medal."

He laughed and began to nibble at her neck and her earlobe. Her fingers began working on his buttons until his clothing quickly formed a pile at his feet. He deftly reciprocated the favor as the two made their way to the bedroom, leaving a trail of her clothing behind them.