Title: First Son Author: Tarsier Timeframe: ~8ABY (Legends) Characters: Han, Leia Genre: Fluff Notes: Written for the 2020 Dare Challenge, but submitted late so not part of the competition. Dare listed at the end. ============================================== Leia took a deep, calming breath. It would be okay. Whatever it was, they would work through it. She rested her hands on her belly. When Leia had first told Han she was pregnant, he had been excited. Well, the first thing he had been was terrified. But it hadn’t taken her long to talk him through that. And then he had been all smiles. For about a day. Then he got quiet. Throughout their marriage, Han would occasionally become withdrawn, usually when some aspect of his past would come to light and he needed some time to work through it. Usually it lasted less than a day and then he returned to his boisterous self, Leia never knowing exactly what had caused the changed in mood. This time the sullenness had lasted for three days, after which Han had announced, “There’s someone I need you to meet.” “Alright,” Leia had immediately responded, “Let me look at my schedule…” “My son.” The words were added quietly as Leia spoke and she almost didn’t catch them. For a long moment, she wondered if she’d heard them at all. Han was gone before she could ask for clarification, leaving her to mull this new information alone. They left the next day. Leia didn’t care for the deep tropics. Unless you were reclining on a beach, tropical planets were too hot, too humid, too wet. Nevertheless, she now found herself hiking through the pouring rain of what passed for winter in the steamy jungle, Han a few paces ahead of her. She didn’t care so much that her husband had a child as much as the fact that she hadn’t known about him before now. It wasn’t even the deception that bothered her as much as the fact that for her not to know about the child meant Han must not have seen his child for years. Various scenarios had run through Leia’s head. Maybe the mother had forbid Han from seeing his son. Maybe they had disappeared, gone somewhere Han simply couldn’t follow. Maybe his “son” was a beloved ship or droid. No, that didn’t work. Leia doubted he could have a secret ship more beloved than the Falcon, and even if he did, she was sure he would refer to it as a daughter not a son. Han had no love for droids; that notion stretched incredulity a little too far. Maybe it was a pet. That seemed unlikely, but as the mud squished in Leia’s boots, she thought it would be just like Han to have a precious animal companion and then lose it in the jungle. Maybe it wasn’t as fond of Han as he was of it. Leia cracked a tiny smile, because given that she was pregnant, soaking wet, and lost in a jungle because her husband had a loth-cat that didn’t love him, the only alternative to laughing was screaming. “I’m sorry,” Han paused and looked over his shoulder. “I thought it was right here.” Leia nodded, Han’s serious expression bringing back the reality that her husband had a son, a connection in this world that she’d never known about. And that apparently he’d left to fend for himself in a wretched jungle. “There. That’s it, I’m sure of it.” Han pointed to a pile of rubble up ahead. There was a lot of rubble around, fallen buildings nearly swallowed by the creeping vines all around. Leia hadn’t paid much attention to it once she realized none of the buildings were intact enough to provide shelter, but now she realized that must be what Han was looking for. An old building. Had he been here before the buildings were knocked down? As she looked closer, she saw that the remains were not hundreds of years old, having crumbled slowly over time. Rather, they bore war damage. There were blaster marks everywhere, and sharp, twisted metal resulting from the intense heat of explosions. Ylesia. Is that where Han had said they were going? Something in the back of her mind tickled. Had there been a Rebel base here? Or a battle, from early in the Rebellion? The particular pile of rubble Han had pointed out proved to be slightly less damaged than the rest. There was a partial roof, and they were able to escape the rain. Thank the Force. Leia sighed and removed her soaking wet jacket. Why did Han have to drag her out here? Couldn’t he tell her about his abandoned son from the comfort of their home on Coruscant? “Careful,” Han cautioned as Leia wrung out her sleeve. She looked around. Careful of what? The floor was mostly gone, there were just a few metal tiles here and there. Actually, the metal tiles were fairly evenly spaced around the small covered area. They were almost perfectly square and smooth except for small markings on them. She looked down at the pool of water she had created. A tiny rivulet escaped from the pool and ran into the nearest tile. Her eye followed the water and she saw the markings were not random, but rather formed words—Jalus Nebl. A name. Evenly spaced tiles carrying names, in the middle of a war zone. Leia was standing in a cemetery. And that meant… there was a good reason Leia had never met Han’s first son. Han’s first son was dead. . * . * . * . Han scanned the tiles, feeling guilty that he didn’t remember which one it was. He’d only been here once before. Finally, he found it. Near the edge, with a view of the stars at night. Now Han remembered. He crouched beside the tile and waved Leia over. “Jarik Solo.” Leia read the name aloud, then knelt down and put her arms around Han. “I’m sorry. I never knew.” “I never told you.” For a while they just sat there, looking at the tile. Han remembered. Leia wondered. “He wasn’t really my son,” Han finally confessed. “He was…just a kid. A helluva a gunner. Told me his last name was Solo. I knew it wasn’t. But I gave it to him. In the end, he was my family.” . * . * . * . The Battle of Ylesia. It came back to Leia eventually. One of the first successful skirmishes of the Rebellion. And someone Han knew had been a part of it? Did that mean Han was there too? Han moved, reaching forward to place his hands on either side of the metal tile. He pulled back, removing the tile to reveal a compartment underneath. Han reached inside and pulled out a few items. An old pair of gloves; a piece of paper; a strange fuzzy shape. He unfolded the paper and revealed a charcoal drawing of three characters posing on the bridge of a ship. Han, Chewy, and a teenager—Jarik. “I can’t believe it’s still here,” Han remarked. “I was afraid I’d forgotten what he looked like.” Han handed the drawing to Leia. “Cute kid. But he sure has some scruffy-looking friends.” Han didn’t seem to hear her as he turned the fuzzy mass over in his hands and held it up. “I’d almost forgotten about this.” Leia could see now that the fuzz had a face. Long ears, shiny blue eyes. A stuffed animal toy. A whisperkit, maybe. Leia felt her throat tighten as she realized it must have belonged to Jarik. He really was just a kid. . * . * . * . The rain was still pouring. Han reached into his pack for a water bottle. Instead he found a bottle of sparkling cider. In his distraction, he must have grabbed the cider instead of water. That bottle had been the catalyst of everything. After Leia announced she was pregnant, Han had gone to the local liquor store to buy wine to celebrate, momentarily forgetting that pregnant women didn’t drink alcohol. He remembered before he purchased the wine and was about to leave the store empty-handed when a memory hit him out of the blue. “What about me? You guys get champagne and I get water?” Jarik complained. After a lucrative mission, Han, Chewy, and Jarik had gone to what was almost certainly the fanciest restaurant Jarik had ever set foot in. Han had promised him a celebratory meal, but he hadn’t thought about what they would be drinking. Before Han could respond, a waiter had cut in. “Might I recommend the sparkling cider? Made from the finest Zsajhira berries and alcohol-free, in some circles our cider is even more coveted than our wine.” And more expensive, too, Han recalled. But it had been worth it to see the excitement on Jarik’s face. That had been perhaps one of the best meals of Han’s life. He found as bottle of sparkling cider at the liquor store and packed it away as a special surprise for Leia. But the memory of Jarik had put his mind in turmoil and he hadn’t thought of the cider again until now. Han set the bottle beside Leia. “I guess I forgot water.” Leia smiled softly. “This looks better anyway.” Leia opened the bottle and lifted it high. “A toast. To the Rebellion. And all who sacrificed for the cause.” Leia took a big sip and handed the bottle to Han. He lifted the bottle. Miss you buddy. He drank. “Aah.” Leia looked at Han. “Do you hear that?” “No. What?” “Quiet. The rain has stopped.” Han looked out into the jungle. It was still and quiet. The sun was just starting to set. With any luck they could make it back to the Falcon before dark. He gathered the gloves and placed them neatly back in the compartment. “Where’s the drawing?” Leia handed it to Han, but placed a firm hand on his arm as he moved to put it in the compartment. “You should keep it,” she said. “But…” Han thought for a minute, then folded the drawing and put it in his vest. This way he would never forget what Jarik looked like. He saw Leia had the stuffed toy tucked into her jacket. “I’m keeping it,” she said in a tone Han knew better than to argue with. “I’m going to wash it, and if it looks decent we’ll give it to the new baby. You gave Jarik your name. I’m sure he wouldn’t mind giving the baby a little piece of his father’s past.” ============================================== Spoiler: Dare Dare: The story ends in a graveyard. The story takes place in mid-winter. The story must involve a bottle of wine at the end. Spoiler: Author Notes Author Notes: I've always wanted to see Jarik get more acknowledgement. And I admit to being a little resentful that Disney's Solo movie seemed to disregard everything established in the very good Han Solo Trilogy for no good reason. I imagine Bria Tharen drew the charcoal drawing. I considered working some references to her into the story, but decided against it. Readers familiar with my other work might recognize the stuffed whisperkit from R.S.V.P. and Worth Fighting For. I didn't start the story intending to include the whisperkit, but the thought of the toy being passed from Jarik to Anakin to Benji was too much to resist.