Okay, this one's pretty self-explanatory; it basically asks what would have happened if Luke had taken Han up on his offer to leave the Alliance and work on the Falcon at the end of Star Wars.
Just a different pairing to usual I guess, since I quite like 'em together - they bounce off each-other quite nicely, having such different personalities, though this Luke's a bit more wayward in this tale, having had Han as his de-facto big brother for a while. But he's still very much canon Luke. I still want to work Vader and Fett and all the canon characters who would be right for the timescale in, but with a bit of humor, like the shorts I've done.
This one is very definitely (supposed to be) for fun, though there is still a strong plot so it's not real belly-laughs, just kind of gentle, warm good humor.
As usual, I admit that I've played around with canon character's ages here and made Luke and Leia a few years younger than they were in Star Wars - sorry, it just works better that way for me!
So, here we go...
The sarcasm in Han's voice didn't turn Luke's head; he was too used to it. Instead he just nodded as he settled down into the navigator's chair and glanced for a few seconds at the displays, checking their status. Everything was green - but they'd dropped out of hyperspace, which wasn't right.
He leaned back, still waking up, glancing about the Falcon's cockpit as the old chair creaked precariously… after a few seconds he saw the small pewter flare-lighter he'd lost and lifted it up, fumbling through the pockets of the half-zipped coveralls he was wearing and pulling a cigarillo from the chest pocket.
Han half-turned as he lit it, "That breakfast?"
Luke lifted the mug of caff he'd brought in with him, "Nope, this is breakfast. Why are we in realspace?"
"Reverted a few hours ago; the emergency protocols cut in." Han rose, stretching, completely unconcerned by yet another of the Falcon's many breakdowns. "Somethin' wrong with the mainframe system; she seems to have lost all her cross-referenced protocol entries."
Luke frowned as he lit the cigarillo, "All of them? That's new."
"Yeah, I thought I'd leave that little mess for you to sort out."
Han was already walking towards the main hold, whose ops console was the best interface for the Falcon's errant computer. Luke followed, balancing his mug on the edge of the console as he chewed the cigarillo to the edge of his mouth to speak, calling up the main register and powering up the input board as he sat, "Okay then, let's see…."
He'd become the de-facto programming specialist onboard the Falcon within a few months of joining her crew, as well as navigator and gunner, as the situation demanded.
In a desperate attempt to avoid being pressed into full-time service on the farm by uncle Owen when he'd hit sixteen, Luke had managed to persuade him that it would be in everyone's best interests if he'd stayed on in education and took a full-time advanced course in Robotics Engineering and Programming. His real reason of course, had been that he'd wanted a technology-based advanced qualification to enlist in the Imperial Navy as a pilot, but knowing that his uncle would never go for that, Luke had chosen robotics because he'd been able to validate it as being useful on the farm, to programme and maintain the vaporators which continually broke down. He'd always been pretty good at engineering, and programming too seemed to come easily, so that although he'd not even nearly completed the three-year course before… before Artoo and Threepio had arrived, years working on the farm and wrestling with old and recalcitrant machinery meant that he was still more capable than most.
Of course, that didn't necessarily count with the Falcon's systems. "What the hell?" Luke pulled up various lines of code but the system was all over the place, protocol registrations and code-sites apparently re-written at random. "This is all out of synch."
"Yeah, I know. Have fun with that." Han slapped the kid on the back as he straightened, heading out of the main hold to find something to eat, stretching again as he listened to Luke muttering his opinion of the Falcon's computer and life in general.
It was good to have the kid here; programming really wasn't his or Chewie's strong-suit, and the Falcon was a game old bird at the best of times. Already, after little over a year, he couldn't imagine the Falcon flying without Luke as part of the crew. The kid had just fit in from day one, settling in without a single ripple.
To be honest, he'd been surprised how easy he'd gotten the kid. After Luke'd flown against the Death Star, Han had been sure that the Rebels would have been all over him. Maybe they didn't realize just what kinda impossible shot the kid had taken when he'd blown that thing… or maybe they did; they'd given him a medal, after all. Given Han one too… he had no idea where it was anymore.
Still, the gilt had started wearing off the whole medal-awards event by late evening, and by midnight, plied with a few drinks by Han and Antilles, one of the other surviving pilots, Luke had not surprisingly started to step back a bit and assess as the day's events hit him. Not necessarily the way Han would have done, but the end results were the same.
First he got guilty that so many pilots had died, and that they'd given him a medal for living; surely the ones who deserved the medals should be those who'd died?
Then he'd started thinking… realized that he'd just killed maybe a million men with one shot. That he had, effectively, become a mass-murdered in that moment… and they'd given him a medal for it.
Antilles had tried to reassure; had said that he'd done the right thing, had asked how many lives had been lost on Alderaan when the Death Star had turned its firepower on the planet, had reminded Luke that Yavin would have been next, then another planet, then another. Luke was a soldier, a fighter pilot doing his duty, Antilles had said.
And it had worked, for a while. Luke had calmed a little; had nodded his head, had swallowed his guilt and braced his shoulders and looked at the bigger picture.
But he was a kid, all of eighteen, and when Dodonna had come up to him within the hour and told him that he'd have his own flight in a few months, that he was a natural, that combat pilots like him were the backbone of the Alliance, that natural leaders were hard to find… well that had panicked him all over again.
Maybe it was all moving too fast for the kid who still had Tatooine sand in his boots - maybe he was actually seeing some sense - but when Han saw him steal away and followed him to the edge of the landing field outside the temple, the kid had been anxious and uncertain, shaking his head in silence. Han had sat beside him and given him a few swigs from the flask he'd held - Corellian brandy; the real deal - and the kid had coughed and choked and gasped. That was how green he was; he couldn't even hold his liquor yet- admittedly it was Corellian brandy, but still…
Han sat beside him in companionable silence for a while, watching the first rays dawn begin to creep up over the distant treeline, and when the kid had shook his head again, lost, Han had said without turning, "You know, the offer still holds. We're one person short on crew right now - you want a berth, it's yours."
The kid had paused just long enough that Han knew he was seriously considering it.
"I dunno…. I just dunno Han. They think… they all think I'm something I'm not. I'm not a fighter pilot… look at me! I'm seventeen!"
"I thought you said you were eighteen?"
Luke shrugged, "They wouldn't have let me fly if I'd said I was seventeen… I'm nearly eighteen…"
Nearly eighteen… Han shook his head, genuinely worried about the kid. He liked him; he was gutsy and smart, and chances were, if he stayed with the princess and her crazy bunch of idealists, he'd be lucky to hit eighteen... and if he did, he sure as hell wouldn't see nineteen.
He shrugged, ignoring the slur in the kid's words, "Why don't you take a while, huh? Take a year or two with me an' Chewie. See the galaxy. Don't let 'em push you into this if you're not sure, 'cos once you're in there's no turning back kid, remember that."
Luke was silent a long time, kicking at the grass with his toe. Eventually he shrugged, voice distant, "I've never seen grass before, not out in the open like this. Just… growing wild."
Han glanced down, sighing deeply, "Maybe you should see some other stuff too, huh?" he said quietly, "You want to fight, then fine; come back here in a year's time, climb into that suicide sled and haul your stubborn ass into ludicrous odds - but you should at least know what you're fighting for first. 'Cos believe me, there'll come a time when you're gonna start to wonder, and you're not about to get any reminders with this bunch of reprobates, doing the whistlestop tour of the back of beyond. You want to die for what you believe in, fine. But you should try livin' a little before you do."
Kid didn't look up, "I've lived a little."
Han snorted, "Where? On Tatooine? I've been on and off've that dustball plenty over the last few years and believe me, every time I'm on it, all I'm thinking about is gettin' off."
The kid shrugged, slurred voice half way between amused and embarrassed, "With you… the last few days."
"Yeah, you need the number of days you've had a little fun in life to go into double figures before it counts, junior."
Luke laughed lightly, and Han leaned in to nudge the kid's shoulder with his own, "Whadd'ya say, huh?"
Luke had glanced down again to the empty glass in his hand, "I dunno Han…"
"C'mon, just take a while, huh?"
"Hey, you don't owe that crazy old hobo anything." Han said it with more force than he'd meant, and quietened his tone to continue. "Look, ya got his princess out for him, ya took down the Death Star…. I think you're pretty much quits. What did he do for you anyway?"
"It wasn't about what I owed him, it was about…." The kid hesitated, unable to find the words.
Han sighed, not wanting to see him taken advantage of, which he would be, here. "No-one's gonna look after you in life, kid. No-one's gonna look out for you. You gotta look after yourself, trust me on that one."
"Dodonna said they need fighter pilots - especially now. He said… he said I'd get a flight. I'd be a Wing Commander. Said they'd give me an experienced XO and I'd get a flight." Luke looked plaintively to Han, "I can't lead a fighter wing! How can I lead them? I don't even know what an XO is!"
"It's an executive officer." Han said dismissively, "A second-in-command. Listen to me; you stay here and you're dead. That's the top and bottom of it. You stay and they'll put you up against one fight after another until you find the one with your name on it. And then you know what'll happen? You'll be gone and it'll be some other kid sat here tellin' some other guy that he's not sure he should join up. You know the names of the pilots who died today?"
"No." Luke said quietly.
"That'll be you. One day, that'll be you, and some other guy like me will be sat here trying to talk sense into some other kid by asking him if he even knew the name of the Wing Commander who got shot down. And nothing will have changed - nothing. Except that you won't be here anymore."
Luke turned, chin raising, impossibly raw. "I'm not afraid to die for something I believe in - I'm not."
"I know that kid, you got nothing to prove here, that's not what I'm saying. I'm sayin'… just.. take a month or two. See the galaxy, live a little… then see how you feel, huh?"
"A month or two…."
"Sure, what the hell. A month or two can't hurt can it?" Han rose, one hand on the kid's shoulder, voice quiet and companionable. "C'mon, let's get to the Falcon. We can be gone in the hour."
Luke remained still for a long time, and Han held his breath. When the kid finally stood, his voice was resolute. "I have to go see Dodonna first - and Leia."
"You can message them."
"No. I have to do this face to face."
Han shrugged; kid sure liked to make it hard on himself. "Sure, whatever."
As they set off back towards the immense bulk of the temple, early morning shadows picking out the massive chiselled blocks, Han put a reassuring arm round Luke, partly because he was now swaying outrageously from the drink, and partly because he felt such an innate, brotherly affection for the kid. Maybe he was going soft… or more likely the kid was a good gunner and a good fighter and a good pilot and most of all he was reliable in a tight corner, and you needed people like that round you in his business. They were few and far between.
They were almost back to the entrance before Luke spoke up again, "Can I have a different berth?"
"What's wrong with the one you've got?" Han asked with mock indignation of the loop corridor circuitry bay they'd put a camp bed in and assigned the kid when they'd left Tatooine.
"I can stand in the middle and touch all four walls." Luke said disparagingly.
"Yeah?" Han slapped Luke's shoulder companionably, "Well get ready to stretch your arms kid, 'cos it's a big old galaxy out there, and we got a lot of flyin' to do. And thanks to this little detour of yours, we're already behind schedule."
That was over a year ago. Kid had just slipped into the crew like he'd been there forever. Yes, he was still ridiculously idealistic, and yes, he and Chewie now occasionally teamed up to pull a fast one on their Captain and basically force Han into doing the occasional job for the Alliance at cost - and yes, basically her highnesness still held Han personally responsible for leading Luke astray - but still, things were good, profits were up, Chewie moulted less… fun all round.
Though you wouldn't believe that to hear the kid right now.
Eating from the self-heating foil packet, Han had wandered back into the main hold, where Luke was still cursing in Bocce at the Falcon's main program. Turned out the kid had a surprisingly wide vocabulary when the situation demanded it.
Luke leaned back, scowling at the readout, "You… what the… I just changed that line and she's not accepting the GD reference! She's doing this on purpose!" Luke backtracked through the mainframe tabs and made the same changes, watching the extract load up, then went to the relevant line and watched it flash then delete, "Look! She did it again!"
Sooner or later, everyone who worked with the Falcon's computer took it personally; no programme could be this ornery without being sentient and just plain awkward.
"What's up with her?" Han asked.
"Everything's been corrupted." Luke said disgustedly, "We're gonna be stuck here a full day while I sort this out. What the hell did you do last night?"
"Me? Nothin'. Why is it always my fault?"
" Cos you generally break it." Luke leaned back, the chair rolling erratically across the uneven floor as he kicked back from the console to shout down the main loop corridor, "Chewie! Take the drive offline and shut down the support systems - I gotta disable the protocols." He turned to Han, "If you need to com the contact to let him know we're gonna be late to make the pickup, you should do it now - we'll lose all HoloNet protocols too until I fix this."
"Nah, we can make up the time." Han assured. "We can always…"
The lights went down in the main hold, and both men fell to silence, listening to the familiar range of creaks and clicks for a second before Han's voice floated from the pitch black, "Tell me that's you."
"That's not me."
Chewie's bellow came rumbling down the corridor along with his heavy footfalls, then a few seconds later there was a resounding clang, the timbre of his voice changing to an angry, extended howl.
"Fabulous." Han said dryly, "I love this ship."
"Yeah, that's not what she says about you." Luke replied in kind.
(Cut forward almost a year: I can't post all that stuff here! Han's making a delivery to the Alliance.)
A gust of fresh air wafted down the musty corridors as Han dropped the Falcon's main ramp from the cockpit, rising with a leisurely stretch, "Well, time to meet your buddies."
Luke pulled a face as he rose, turning about to head off down the corridor, Han a step behind him though he could already hear the voices of the Rebels who were walking up the main ramp
Four paces down the corridor Luke froze, looking urgently to either side before he turned and pulled the spice stick from his mouth, holding it out to Han. Frowning, Han took it, not sure what he was expected to do with it…
And a familiar voice drifted in from the main hold, "Has someone been smoking spice in here?"
"Leia!" Luke set forward, arms open, and the delicate, dark-haired women smiled warmly, accepting the embrace.
"Luke, it's good to see you."
Over his shoulder, she saw Han in the loop-corridor, Luke's spice stick in his hand, "Solo, I should have known you'd be the one holding that thing. I can't say I'm surprised."
Han turned to look at the kid as Luke took a place by Leia's side, grinning, his voice the model of concern. "I keep tellin' him those things'll kill him."
"Thank-you so much." Han said dryly to the kid who, unseen by Leia, wrinkled his nose in a 'you're welcome' gesture.
"You know the whole hold stinks of the stuff." Leia disparaged, "You could at least smoke it in the privacy of your own quarters."
Han was still glaring at Luke, "Yeah, I'm bad like that."
Leia turned away, setting off down the ramp, Luke beside her and Han a step behind. Halfway down she turned, scowling, "You don't seriously think you're bringing that thing onto my ship do you?"
Glowering, Han stopped and took a long, pointed drag on the spice stick, then stubbed it out on the Falcon's landing strut, pulling a face, "Happy?"
Leia turned, continuing down onto the deck, "I hope you're not intending to try those things, Luke."
"Me? No." Luke put his best 'innocent farmboy' smile on for her, the one Han had seen him use so often… probably because it always seemed to work. "Never. I just wish I could get Han to quit though."
"He's a lost cause." Leia said with a half-turn, huge, dark eyes full of scorn, "Don't waste your breath."
Leia was trying to listen to Han's long-winded explanation of why he was giving them such a good deal and what they'd had to face simply to get the crates of blasters here, but most of her attention was taken in a kind of reluctant fascination as she watched Luke polish off his third straight meal in the mess hall of the Rebel frigate, immediately glancing back to the serving hatch.
She turned, scowling at Han as she cut in over his words, "Don't you feed him Solo?"
"No." Han said, indignant at being cut off mid-tirade, "I don't change his diapers either, on account of him being a full-grown man."
Luke gave Leia a mournful look, "We don't have much fresh food on the Falcon."
Han didn't even bother turning to catch her worshipfulness' expression at that one, "Well go out and buy some. I swear, you eat more than Chewie, you know that?"
"We never stop anywhere to buy food!" Luke argued.
"We stopped on Lashbone four days ago."
"We were in the middle of a forest clearing."
"Yeah?" Han leaned back to get a better glare at the kid, though they both knew the indignation was strictly for show, "Well go gather some berries or somethin', what am I, your fath-" He instantly broke off, and Luke glance down, the game momentarily forgotten.
"Sorry." Han murmured sincerely, knowing it was something that bothered the kid.
Luke shrugged it off, the moment instantly dismissed between friends, but the silence lasted until Leia spoke out to break it, "You want some dessert Luke? I'll go get you one."
She rose and headed off, and Han couldn't help but call after her, "You better get him two."
Leia glowered back as, now alone, Han turned to Luke and leaned forward, "Thanks for that, junior."
"Junior?" Luke grinned, repeating Han's claim of just a minute ago back to him, "I'll have you know I'm a full-grown man."
"I meant the spice stick. Why didn't you tell her it was yours?"
"And have her that mad at me, are you kidding? Did you see how angry she got?"
"Yeah I got the full-voltage glare, thanks. I've a good mind to tell her to search your pockets."
Luke leaned back, settling into the old verbal routine, "I'd say these were your coveralls."
"Yeah, like they'd fit me."
"Actually these are your coveralls." Luke admitted, "I borrowed them."
Luke shrugged, glancing back to the canteen, "About a year ago. Can you see where Leia's gone?"
"What, pining?" Han teased.
Luke turned, an innocent, confused expression on his youthful face, "For what?"
Han grinned, not for a second buying it. "Don't try to pull the shy farmboy with me, kid, cos I ain't no gullible, doe-eyed princess."
The kid looked back, trying to pick Leia out, "She does have nice eyes, doesn't she?"
Han glanced to Leia, "She got the whole package, kid."
Luke turned quickly back, suspicious, "Hey, you promised, Leia's out of bounds."
"I did, and I won't. But that's only 'cos I thought you were interested."
"And you lost the sabacc game."
"Would you just hit on her already so we can stop having to come back here?" Han grumbled. Kid was just too damn good at sabacc; it was uncanny. "This little crush of yours is costing me a fortune."
Luke glanced back to Leia, suddenly serious, "I dunno…. I don't know if I should."
"Seriously?! 'Cos if you're not gonna hit on her, tell me now and we can stop doing these cut-price jobs."
"D'you think I should?"
"Hell yes. Then she can laugh in your face and you can get over it."
Luke scowled, "You're not exactly filling me with confidence here."
"Yeah, you didn't need any more confidence with the Tonnika sisters."
"Hey, I really like Brea… or Senni." Luke frowned, "I'm pretty sure it's Brea."
"Yeah, it was Senni." Han said unequivocally.
"How do…" Luke's eyes narrowed from gullible to wary and Han grinned, pleased he could still get one over on the kid every now and then.
But he waited; made the kid ask.
"How do you know which..."
"Senni bites her nails."
He watched the kid's blue eyes scan the table as he tried to remember. When he finally looked up to Han, half-believing, half-doubtful, Han couldn't keep a straight face any longer.
He was still laughing as the call to arms sounded up throughout the Rebel ship, everyone around him rising and glancing about in alarm.
The bridge of the small corvette was a hive of activity, several people gathered around each station, worried eyes on the viewport. The ship was yawing quickly to one side, the stars before it slurring across the darkness. Han walked forward like he belonged there, "Trouble?"
Leia turned, "What are you doing on the bridge?"
"Tryin' to get permission to get out of here." Solo said simply.
He and Luke had returned to the Falcon, Chewie waiting at the bottom of the ramp, howling across the docking bay at them to hurry as the alarms still blared. But when they'd gotten onboard and started up the engines, they'd been told in no uncertain terms by Flight Control that they were grounded pending the launch of fighter wings. They'd have to wait.
Han had sworn an oath in Huttese, followed by his opinion of life, the Empire, the Rebellion, a certain Princess, and his luck in general, before standing to stride off out of the Falcon, leaving Luke and Chewie to stare at each-other momentarily from their seats, neither moving.
Eventually Chewie had keened an expectant howl.
Luke looked at him with narrowed eyes. "My turn? I went last time."
The Wookiee shook his head, letting out a run of gruff growls, and Luke pursed his lips as he rose wearily. "I swear I did it last time."
With a doubtful look, he turned to follow their Captain and make sure he stayed out of trouble…again.