This is a stand-alone story, if you have read my other stories, it would fall in between "As the Dust Settles" and "The Path Forward", timeline wise. But you don't have to have read them in order to enjoy this.

FYI: The timing is post-ROTJ, Han and Leia are living together on Coruscant and they both have positions in the New Republic.

Hot and Cold

Han Solo, Commissioner of Galactic Trade Relations for the New Republic, was sitting through a lengthy meeting with the Tionese foreign trade delegation from the Tion Cluster. The talks, unfortunately, had begun to deteriorate. Han leaned back in his chair and, along with every other being in the room, watched as the New Republic's Ambassador-At-Large, Leia Organa, got into a verbal altercation with the primary Tionese representative. An altercation, Han mused, that back on Corellia, would have already escalated into a fist fight.

A truce of sorts was finally called for and the negotiations were scheduled to resume the next day. The meeting began to disassemble as everyone was expected to attend a reception that evening in honor of the Tionese's 'olive branch' visit to Coruscant. More like a Gaffi stick visit, Han thought to himself as he stood, stretching his tired legs. At the other end of the conference room stood Leia, still completely engrossed in a conversation that he prayed she would quickly finish so that the pair could leave.

"You all must be very proficient at treating frostbite around here." The comment was whispered conspiratorially into Han's ear. He turned to find the Tionese delegate that had been seated next to him during the meeting. The man's eyes had followed Han's across the room.

Realizing all too quickly what the man was referring to, Han held his tongue in check. Leia had taken great pains to prepare him for just this type of situation. Taking a deep breath he tried to rise above the pettiness of one man's opinion as he replied with a non-committal, "Uh-huh."

"I mean, her reputation certainly preceded her, but seeing it in person is quite an experience. She is every bit the Ice Princess that I had heard about."

"She's tough, yes," Han replied as his nostrils flared along with his chest.

The man took his elbow and gave Han a gentle nudge as he leaned in and said, "I wouldn't be surprised if they found a mechanical heart in there, knowing what her father was-"

Before the man could finish and way before any of Leia's advice for this kind of situation could hit his brain, Han had the man pinned up against the wall with his hand clamped down on the idiot's throat, preventing him from saying another word. He held the man at a distance. Shaking his head, Han let all the words he wanted to say stew inside of him as he felt all eyes land upon him.

"Commissioner Solo," Leia spoke sharply from across the room and the mere sound of her voice caused Han to clamp down a little tighter on the man's throat.

The smart-mouthed delegate sputtered and gargled under Han's grip and his arms flailed about against the conference room wall.

Han felt a crowd gathering around them and then he felt a tiny hand on his back and heard Leia's soft voice as she said, "Han."

He wondered how anyone could consider her cool as his anger melted under her touch and his grip loosened at the sound of his name on her lips.

Han dropped his hand and then glanced down at Leia. Her eyes returned his gaze as he felt her hand grab him at the arm. Looking around, they were now surrounded by an audience of the remaining members of the now defunct meeting.

The Tionese delegate straightened up his shirt collar and brushed himself off, making certain to cough and rub his throat, but he said nothing as Han looked back at him.

"Let's go, Commissioner," Leia requested as she tugged on Han's arm and moved toward the exit.

As soon as Han complied and the couple had their backs to the man, Han heard him say, "It seems the Corellian is as hot as she is cold."

Han felt Leia's grip tighten on his arm as she continued to lead him out of the conference room.

They were silent all the way back to their apartment. When the couple entered the foyer and Leia set her things down on the little table, Han watched her stand there for a moment while the door slid closed, shutting them off from the outside world.

He stood there watching her, waiting for her to gather herself together and speak to him. If she was angry, so be it. He would not change a thing about what he did today unless it was to have caused more permanent damage than a slightly bruised esophagus.

She finally turned to face him and sighed as she said, "I guess it doesn't matter what I say to you about this."

"You don't know what he said. And, no, I wouldn't change a thing."

"It doesn't matter what he said, Han. You can't go pushing around every sentient being that says something cruel about me. You're a high-ranking member of the New Republic, you represent-"

"I represent you, first and foremost."

"Well, then, fine. But that's not how I or the New Republic want to be represented."

They stood there in the middle of their apartment and stared at each other for a while. A standoff; this was nothing new for them. If they were alike in any way it was in their stubbornness.

Han shook his head. If only she knew what that man had said. But no, he certainly didn't want that. He only wanted her to know that he was protecting her, something he wished he could've done her entire life but was for certain going to do for the rest of it.

He could give two shakes about what the New Republic thought of him. He certainly believed in the government that he now represented and was willing to put his life on the line to uphold all that they had fought for. But he was willing to kill to protect Leia. And not just any dogfight in the sky or blaster battle on a forest moon, but barehanded, watch-the-life-drift-out-of-someone's-soul-kill, to protect the woman that he loved.

Responding to her silence he shook his head and turned towards the kitchen. "I'm getting a drink."

She spoke to him as he walked away, "We've only got a couple of hours before the reception. I don't think you showing up with liquid courage is such a great idea."

Walking into the kitchen he called back to her, "It's only one drink."

Han poured himself a whiskey as he heard the sound of their bedroom door opening and closing. Standing in the kitchen he waited for the sound of the water for their shower before he made his way to their master suite.

As he walked into the room, his eyes fell on their bed and he strode towards it. Leia had a dress spread out that she had apparently picked out for this evening. It was elegant and simple and not in the least bit revealing; probably very appropriate for the venue they would be attending tonight. Han turned towards Leia's closet and opened the double doors; he had something a little different in mind for his Princess.

Han sat in one of the chairs that flanked the large bay window in their bedroom. Sipping on his whiskey, he turned at the sound of the 'fresher door opening and watched as Leia entered the bedroom. She had a towel wrapped around her head and she was wearing a thin, short robe.

She stepped towards the bed and, looking at the dress lying there, she said, "What's this?"

Han stood up and walked over to her, utilizing his size as intimidation, not because it had ever worked with her, but just out of pure habit. "It's a dress."

"I already had something picked out," she replied, not the least bit intimidated.

"Is this one not appropriate?"

She sighed and shook her head. "I don't have anything to prove, Han."

"I'm not asking you to wear it for anyone but me."

Taking the glass out of his hand, she said, "I think you've had enough of that."

Han wasn't the least bit inebriated, but he let her take his drink from him anyway and watched as she set it down on his nightstand.

She turned back towards him and looked down at the dress on the bed. It was floor length and made from violet shimmersilk. Tailor-made for the petite female, it hugged her every curve. Although it had a high neckline, it plunged down in the back, exposing a fair amount of skin. A hip-high slit up the left side of the dress offered a tantalizing glimpse of Leia's shapely leg. Han had no problem picturing her in it even though she had only worn it once.

"Will this set some sort of precedent now? You picking out my outfit every time someone calls me a name? I'd be curious to see what your answer would be to most of the things I've been called."

His chest deflated and he felt about a parsec shorter as her words chopped him back down to size. For all that he had heard over the years during the Rebellion, there was no telling how much she had been accosted with or had the bad fortune to overhear. This realization may have depressed him, but it did nothing to weaken his resolve regarding her attire for this evening.

He took a step towards her and placed his hands on her hips. "I'm sorry."

"They're only words, Han. They only hurt you if you let them."

He bent down and kissed her and she immediately responded to him. Her fingers finding their way to the back of his neck and his hands found their way inside of her thin robe.

As quickly as it started, Han felt her hands on his chest as she applied a gentle pressure. Releasing her from his kiss, she whispered, "You need to get dressed. We'll be late."

Taking his hand and resting it against her cheek, he asked, "Will you wear the dress?"

She shook her head at him and released a quick breath through her nose. Staring at him a moment, she replied with a nod, "For you."

He bent down and kissed her again and she had to become a little more forceful with her rebuff, "Go," she said as she now held him at a distance, her straightened arms between them.

Han walked determinedly into the reception hall, Leia on his arm and his eyes scanning the room for the man that he was looking for. But, as the evening wore on and Han and Leia made their rounds, shaking hands and greeting every member of the foreign delegation save that one man, his determination, along with his fury, waned.

"I think that was just about everybody. Goddess, I think I could use a drink now," Leia muttered under her breath as she and Han sidled into a far corner of the reception hall.

Han chuckled at his polished diplomat and said, "That's sounds like-" The words stopped in his throat as he caught sight of the delegate from the meeting, shaking hands and smiling – apparently he had been a late arrival.

Leia's eyes following his line of sight, must have landed on the same man, because her arm immediately wrapped around Han's and she said, "Let's go get that drink, honey," as she pulled him the opposite way from the delegate and towards the bar.

"No, I think there's someone we missed, sweetheart," Han replied absently as he easily pulled her in the direction of his choice.


She continued to follow him, as she was not one to make a scene in the middle of the reception, but the tone of her voice was enough to stop him. He turned to her and said, "Yes, Leia?"

"We don't need to greet every single member of the delegation."

"Oh, but we do. I distinctly remember when you first started dragging me to these things, how you said-"

"It doesn't matter what I said, you know what I mean."

He looked at her and took a deep breath before he replied, "This is going to happen. The question is do you want it to happen now, when I'm just a little ticked off? Or later, after we've had a couple of drinks and I've stared at him for a few hours?"

She looked at him. Just what was going through her mind, he could only imagine, but the determination he felt inside of his chest had to be written all over his face, he just knew it. He exhaled a heavy breath into her silence.

"Fine," she replied simply as her legs began to move again.

Han concentrated on his breathing as they approached the man, he had no intention of repeating his earlier performance but he would if it became necessary. His only intention was to have Leia face him, looking the way she did, stand up in front of him and shake his hand – not cower in the corner of the room and avoid the prick all night.

"Baron Soliz, I'm so glad to see that you could make it this evening," Leia spoke to the man as soon as they approached, offering him her hand.

Han watched as the man looked at her and then over to Han. The Baron brought his hand up to his throat and rubbed it gently, before taking Leia's hand and replying, "Yes, I was delayed, but I am most relieved that I was able to make it." He stole another glance at Han and then looking back to Leia, he said, "May I say how striking you look this evening, Ambassador?"

"You may," Leia responded politely and as she took her hand back she said, "You remember Commissioner Solo?"

"Yes," the Baron replied.

The man stuck his hand out towards Han as if Han hadn't tried to choke him to death just hours before. Politicians. "Baron." Han took his hand and shook it firmly, a small rendition of his earlier performance just not around his windpipe this time. Han felt certain that the Baron got his meaning.

Han took his hand away and heard Leia begin to speak. "Commissioner Solo and I are…friends."

Han watched as the Baron turned his eyes to Leia, a redness creeping up his battered neck.

And then he watched as Leia leaned into the man and whispered, "And yes, he is every bit as hot as I am cold."

She turned to look at Han and held her arm out for him to take. Han took one last look at the dumbfounded Baron and spun Leia around with his hand as it landed very low on the bare skin of her back.

Stopping in the middle of the dance floor, Han spun Leia around once more so that she faced him. Gently swaying to the soft music of the string quartet, they began to dance.

Smiling down at her, they stared at each other for a while, until Han said, "You never cease to amaze me, sweetheart."

"I only told him the truth," she replied, a warm smile painted on her face.

Han leaned down so that his lips were close to her ear as he whispered, "Sweetheart, I've slept with you. I know you're about as cold as a Tatooine summer."

He pulled his head away and their eyes met. The tempo of the music picked up and he spun her under his arm and pulled her back to him.

She wrapped an arm around his neck and said, "That's for the bedroom, not the boardroom."

Han grinned wickedly, spun her around again and when he pulled her to him, he whispered in her ear, "Ah, but I've had you in the boardroom, too."

She lifted her eyebrows to him and he watched as her lips separated as if she was going to protest, but without a leg to stand on she merely shook her head and seemed to settle for a tight-lipped smile instead.

Han smiled at her and pulled her closer to him, their bodies rubbing together, as they moved to the music. His eyes landed on the Baron Soliz and they locked on each other for a moment.

Turning back to look at Leia, he lowered his lips to hers and kissed her. Just about the time he felt it had been too long to be appropriate, Han wrapped his arms around her waist and deepened the kiss for just a moment longer. When their kiss broke, he watched Leia glance around the room and give him a slightly disapproving smirk.

"Do you feel that you've proven your point, Commissioner?" Leia asked with a slight roll of her eyes.

"I don't know...I've never had you in a reception hall, Ambassador," Han replied with a devilish wink and he watched as Leia shook her head at him in a mixture of disbelief and what he would only consider to be a slightly-tempted-manner. The mere idea that she would even consider such a thing was enough for Han to concede a victory on the evening as he took her by the arm and led her to the bar.