First published in Another Sky #9, 1996

Take Care of Yourself, Han
 by MJ Mink

The kid's words rankled.  Oh, I'd been called worse before -- and, yeah, I was good at taking care of myself, so what? -- but there was something about accusations from this wide-eyed baby that got to me.  And then, as if it wasn't bad enough trying to get loaded and out of here before the battle started and being attacked by some loudmouthed kid, her worship came calling.  I got to her first, though, before she could even open her two pretty lips and put in her two credits' worth of name-calling.

"Before I leave, there's something you should know."

"I can't imagine what you might have to say that I would need to hear."  She was as snooty as ever.  You'd think having her planet blown up would have made her at least a little subdued.

But I held onto my temper.  "It's about Luke."  I figured that would grab her attention, and I was right as usual.  I wasn't often wrong about a woman.  She wanted to mother the kid, even if she wasn't old enough for mom material and he had something else on his mind.  "And it's important."

Her face froze, became solemn in reaction to my grim tone.  "What is it?  What's wrong?"

"It's something the old guy told me -- Kenobi."  I took her arm -- it felt both soft and strong under the slippery fabric -- and led her inside the Falcon.  This was going to be difficult enough to explain without an audience of pilots and mechanics hanging around drooling over her.  "While we were on our way to Alderaan--"

Sith-hell!  I hadn't meant to --

"Go on."

I looked down at my hands for a minute, then started again.  "When we were caught in the Death Star's tractor beam, we hid in some storage compartments and he started to talk about...."

 "Captain Solo," the old man said in a very low voice.  "I sense that you are a man of honor."
"Thanks a lot."  I wasn't sure if it was an insult, but most likely it was.

One hand dismissed my sarcasm as meaningless.  "I fear that I will not return from the upcoming encounter, and there is something very important I must entrust with you."

I was hoping for money, but knew there wasn't much chance of it.  "What's that?"  I strained my ears,wishing he'd hurry, listening for stormtroopers footsteps.  Didn't hear anything.

"Luke Skywalker."

That grabbed my attention.  "Huh?  What do you mean?"  It had better not mean what this funny feeling's telling me it's going to mean.

"I am entrusting him into your protection."

"Hold it, old man, I'm no babysitter for some --"

"Luke is of vital importance to the future of the Rebellion as well as the galaxy.  His life must be protected, whatever the cost.  He must survive."

Great.  This weird old guy, a sorcerer maybe, a Jedi he says, was dumping this wet-behind-the-ears brat right in my proverbial lap.  "I told you I'm no --"

The old guy wouldn't let me finish.  "There is one other thing."

There was always one other thing.  And it was usually worse than the first thing.  Now I could hear the Falcon's ramp being lowered.  "Make it fast, old man."

"If Luke falls into Imperial hands, if you are absolutely certain that you cannot rescue him -- then he must not be allowed to live."

That stopped me cold.  The kid worshipped this old guy, and he was ready to kill him?  More than that -- he was soliciting other people to kill him?  "Hold it right there, buddy.  Are you saying --"

"If his release cannot be effected, you must kill him.  It is imperative.  It would have dangerous consequences for the galaxy were Luke to become an Imperial prisoner."

Well, I had plenty to say about that but never got the chance.  The ramp shook with the sound of heavy boots and from then on we were pretty damn busy.  The old man was right, he didn't make it off the Death Star, but the kid did.  And there didn't seem to be any question of me not taking care of him, at least long enough to dump him at the Rebel base, because he expected it.  Just looked at me with those blue eyes -- never asked -- and expected it.

Now it was Leia looking at me, her eyes cool and brown.  And the expression in them said they were seeing a madman.  Then it seemed to change.  "Why would General Kenobi say such things?"

I started to answer but I knew she was asking herself, not me.  Still, I had an opinion, and I was bound to make it.  "After we left Mos Eisley, he was teaching the kid how to use a lightsaber."

She made the connection right away.  "But the Jedi are all dead."  She looked at me for a long minute.  I liked it.  "Unless...."

"Unless what?"

She shook her head, and I wished her hair would fall down from those stupid knots she had it all tied up in.  "No.  Besides...General Kenobi sacrificed himself so we could escape."

"Not we, sister.  Luke.  He died so the kid could get away.  He didn't give a hutt's butt about you or me."

Leia closed her eyes.  When she reopened them, she was staring beyond me.  "When I was a child, my father told me stories of the Clone Wars and the Jedi.  One of them -- one Jedi who died -- was called Skywalker."

This was getting more than a little weird.  "So you think Luke's this Jedi's kid?"  I didn't believe in the Jedi or the Force, not by a long shot.  But other people did, and it was damn dangerous for some kid to be running around thinking he was a Jedi when he wasn't.  Quick way to get himself killed -- by foe or friend, if
Kenobi was any indication.  "That's pretty farfetched."

"Maybe not."  Brown fires lit in her eyes.  I stared into them, fascinated and feeling challenged.  "My father said all the Jedi and their children were hunted down and killed, but what if the Imperials missed one?  What if Kenobi had a Jedi child hidden all these years?  Why else would he have brought him to us, to the Rebellion?"  She stopped suddenly and stared at me, something like a sneer growing on her pretty mouth.  "Why in the name of all that's holy would Kenobi have entrusted Luke Skywalker to you?"

It was like a slap in my face, and I've never liked anybody slapping my face.  "Well, excuse me, your royalness.  If you'll vacate your high-and-mightyness off my humble, worthless ship, I'll be on my way and leave the kid with you.  I'm sure you can figure out what to do with him.  And, hey, it might be nice if you  and your Rebel buddies decided not to kill him."

"Han --" she started, like she was going to apologize.  But she didn't finish.  She got all huffy again.  "Very well.  Take your reward and go.  The Rebellion will take care of Luke.  You needn't worry about him anymore."  She stomped down the ramp, and I watched her go, liking the way she moved.

"Who's worrying?" I called after her.

If she wasn't so damn exasperating --  Never mind.  Chewie and I had to get to Jabba to pay off this debt before we were bantha fodder.  Her royalness was right.  The Rebellion could take care of the kid just fine without my help.

We took off a little while later, but didn't go far.  I wanted to hang around to see how the battle came out.  Just to be sure.