Thursday, August 21, 2014

101 Star Wars Variations 45: After the Freeze

Leia is standing there looking at him.  It's difficult to breathe under the helmet of the bounty hunter she's impersonating.  After confronting Jabba openly just to have access to the palace, she's been waiting all evening, her nerves slowly unwinding.

She walked through the unfreezing process a hundred times with Lando, grilled him on it even before she started trusting him, the moment it became clear they were leaving Cloud City without Han, but with his scoundrel friend.  She knows Lando is here somewhere, and has come around to feeling a measure of comfort in that.

She steps back.  No, just go ahead with it.  She steps forward again.  She approaches the carbon block and directs her attention to the control panel that will release it from the wall.  It falls heavily.  She resists the urge to look around.  She's well past the point of worrying that she'll be caught.  All she cares about is him.  She realized that the moment he went into this strange hibernation.

She reaches out once more and sets the block to thaw.  His face is the first thing she sees, all these months later, the words "I love you" caught in time and tumbling from his lips.  Maybe it's just her imagination.

His hands are next, and they fall from the pose they've been holding.  She wants to take them in her own.

When it's over, she knows he must be allowed to carry his dead weight to the floor, even the thought of catching him in this state impossible despite what she so desperately wants to express, what she's hated herself from holding back since the moment she met him.

Seeing him collapsed like that, she crouches down beside him, moves him into a seated position.  He's still not moving.  She wants to remove the helmet right away, but she doesn't, because she's thinking much more about him than herself, and she hates herself for having to admit that if she's done that before, none of this would have happened.

He doesn't speak a word.  He doesn't move at all.  She's becoming frantic.

Slowly, it dawns on her, what's happened.  He didn't survive the process.  Somehow she always knew.  She knew from the moment the platform descended into the chamber.

She can hear Jabba cackling behind her, his deep voice making the sound echo even in a room teeming with the worst scum of the galaxy.  She doesn't let Han go.  Not this time.  Not ever again.

Leia will die before she lets that happen again.  She knows now that this is how it should always have been...

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