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ysonesse ([personal profile] ysonesse) wrote2013-07-26 08:56 am

Ending and Beginning

Dream World: The Wilds

Once again, they were sitting by the river.

Han was poised on top of a large boulder. "You know, when I get out of here, I'm going to approach the guys in charge and tell them I'm signing on for good."

Nalieza shook her head and laughed. "It's not a surprise."

He leaned back on his elbows and set his focus upon the long line of trees on the opposite shore. "It's definitely a different way for me to think. Weird, you know? My life's gone from one

direction," he extended his arm and used one finger to point to the left, "to another one that's put me into this whole other world. Crazy stuff." He laughed. "Who could have imagined it?"

"It's great, actually. You deserve it, rogue boy."

"Hey, I've lost the rogue part."

She frowned. "That's right, I keep forgetting. You're the respectable scoundrel now. That means you have to be boring."

He looked shocked. "Absolutely not. I don't have the genetic material to become boring."

"But this does mean you have to become a responsible citizen. That means doing two things: paying taxes, and having lots of kids."

He made a face. "I think the kids thing should be left up to other people. Like you, for example."

"What!"

"Hey, little Jedi people have to come from somewhere." He grinned, and sat up. "As for taxes, a truly respectable Corellian never pays them."

They were quiet for a long time after this exchange. Unlike the previous times they had been in this setting, it appeared to be a typical spring day. The air was warm, the sky a brilliant blue, the trees were full with ripened leaves of bright green.

The other times they had been here, it had been autumn. She hadn't known the significance of why it was always autumn in those first encounters, until she finally discovered that it had been the fall season when he'd left home to attend the Imperial Academy. It was during the last days of the waning season when he returned to Corellia one year later to make the final arrangements after his grandmother had died.

After her funeral, he had walked out of the house where he'd grown up...and kept going, down a long dusty road that led out of town. It was on this long walk when he decided to lock his heart away, never again to let anyone in. He would not let anyone get too close from that point forward, because they would betray him. They would leave. Just like his parents when they flew off soon after his birth. Just like his grandmother did when he was twenty, when she passed away.

Obviously, he had never told her any of this. A few of his memories slipped past the barriers he always had up and entered into her dreams within the last week. Han would never entirely reveal the most personal details about his life to anyone...except for the princess from now on. But it did finally answer the question one unanswered question from their discussion at the Tiara Pavilion. He had said the death of someone important caused him to push away any possibility of love from his life. Now, it all made sense. The one person who had been there for him...had left him alone. And never revealed that she would be going away. So he decided it was better to simply choose to be alone.

But it was a quirk of the universe that took what he had decided was best for him, and tossed it aside in favor of something better. Just like when he decided to enter the Academy and become an Imperial officer. That had been his plan for the rest of his life. But someone or something else had different plans for him. First, he was put in the path of a Wookiee who had desperately needed his help. And there were other tests that came along the way, which he failed, yet also passed to some degree. Eventually, the first half of a two-part final exam was placed before him. With a series of multiple-choice questions, and no grading on a curve. He had passed that first section with flying colors. The second part came with this carbonite experience. An essay section this time, with only one question for him to answer: What is most important to you?

Once again, he had the right answers. So he passed the exam.

"Hey, kid," Han called. "Are you all right?"

Nalieza blinked her eyes quickly. "Oh, yeah. Sorry. I was just noticing that things seem a little different around here."

He gave a cursory inspection of their surroundings. "Yeah, the weather's nice for a change. "

She bit at a fingernail and started thinking. Sure, it was great. But what did it mean? Well, it was a spring day...and spring was the season of rebirth...Wait a minute...

"Han, is this what spring is like where you're from?"

He stood up casually from the boulder and stretched. "Sort of. Not usually this warm." He took a quick peek at the sky. "The sky's not quite so blue." He stared at the trees again. "Actually, it looks like the kind of day my grandmother used to say only came around once every hundred years."

"Another belief from the Ancient Days?"

"Yeah. She called it a 'mirari'. It was supposed to be the day when all the gods and goddesses came out of the hills to hold a party in the woods. There'd be some sort of ceremony at the end, and that would renew all the life on the planet for another hundred years."

Nalieza closed her eyes. Rebirth, renewal. Part of the life cycle for plants, but not usually for animals. And yet, there were occasions for such a thing...the literal reincarnation after death into another physical being...and then, there was the possibility of a figurative rebirth. One that was spiritual. Old and dying parts of the soul were cast away, buried in some proper fashion along the road, leaving the new soul to move forward on the rest of its journey through the living years.

She opened her eyes. Han's time of renewal was starting.

"Follow me," she instructed, jumping off the rock.

"What's going on?" Han joined her at the side of the river.

She hesitantly reached out to touch the invisible barrier that had physically separated Han from the conscious world all of these months. The wall was thick and solid. It could not be penetrated, except by small objects like pebbles. Even when she passed through it, there was a fair amount of pushing that had to take place before she could fully enter into this realm.

Nalieza expected the wall to be present, same as always. But her fingers came into contact with...nothing. Empty air, that was all.

Han reached out both of his hands into the space before him. "The barrier's gone."

"Do you realize what this means?"

His face showed skepticism, but his eyes displayed a different emotion. That same spark of hope she had seen back in the Cloud City dining room. "Is it possible?"

She lightly touched his arm. "Try to walk across."

He nodded. Keeping his eyes fixed firmly on the opposite shore, he let out a breath, then stepped to the edge of the river. His right foot moved forward, and landed on the first of the large flat rocks that formed a walkway connecting the two sides. Then he brought his left foot forward, and stood on the rock. It took him several moments to pluck up enough nerve to step onto the next rock. This point had been the farthest he had been allowed to come before encountering the wall.

When he finally stepped forward, nothing stopped him.

He stood on the rock, not moving. Until he let out a whoop of joy, and started laughing.

He wasn't trapped anymore.

Han turned around and looked at Nalieza with the biggest smile that she would probably ever see coming from any person in the universe.

Han jumped forward to the next rock with the enthusiasm of a little boy. Then he ran over the remaining flat stones, until he reached the other shore. The shore of consciousness.

Nalieza followed close behind, skipping across the rock path, and joined him on the opposite side.

There was a moment of silence between them, as they simply stared at each other in utter amazement.

Han broke the silence by asking, "Now, how do I get out of here?"

She grinned. "Let me lead the way."

They walked up the winding path, through the dome of trees, and finally came out into the clearing. But Nalieza quickly noticed that this was not the same clearing she had used to enter this world so many times. What lay before them now were two paths, one stretching to the left, the other heading in a gradual curve off to the right.

"What is this? This wasn't here before."

"It just popped up?" Han pointed at the paths.

"Definitely. There's usually only been one way in and out of here."

"Can you tell which way is the exit now?"

"Nothing's giving me any hints."

As if in response to their mutual confusion, an object suddenly fell out of the sky, and landed at their feet.

Han knelt down on the ground. "Could this help?" He picked up a small, circular gold stone.

She took the stone from him. On the side facing upwards, there was carved, "To forget?" She turned it over, and on the other side was inscribed, "To remember?"

"What does that mean?" Han asked.

"I don't know." She handed him the stone. "But I think those might be choices."

Han turned the stone over in his hands. "What kind of choices are those? 'To remember' and 'To forget'." He tossed the stone high into the air, and it landed at his feet. He kneeled down to see which side was facing upwards. "Huh, look at that." He pointed down to the ground. "The remember side. What are the odds of that happening?"

She kneeled down and traced the facing side with her index finger. "Memories...that's what got you through all of this."

"They almost drove me crazy," he retorted, picking the stone up again. "Wanna see me try for two in a row?"

"Sure, go for it."

Han tossed the stone up again...it went into the sky, then fell exactly as before. The side with "to remember?" facing up.

"Wow..." Nalieza was stunned.

"Yeah. Weird." Han rubbed his chin. "That question, strange isn't it? 'To remember?' What kind of question is that?"

"It has to be a message of some kind. To you, definitely."

"Possibly both of us," he added. "You think it can help me figure out which path to take?"

Nalieza stood up and looked at the forking paths. She gave the matter some thought, and an idea came to her. "Try the one on the right," she suggested.

"How do you know that's the one to get me out of here?"

"Call it intuition. A little whisper from the Force." She smiled. "Now, you might just have to trust that archaic concept. Or just call it gambler's luck, if that makes you feel better."

He gave her a sardonic grin, then turned towards the path on the right side. "Here goes everything," he said, then tossed the stone in the direction of the path. It sailed upward, in a graceful arc, and disappeared.

A wooden door appeared. He had made the right choice.

Han turned to Nalieza with the biggest smile she had ever seen on his face. "I did it."

She nodded. "And so it ends. Back to the living world and whatever awaits you in it." She leaned forward and whispered, "I'm certain of it, just in case you wanted to ask."

He pointed at the door. "I'm supposed to go through there...and what happens after I leave here?"

"I don't know. Like I told you ages ago, you were a unique case. But I know on a certain level that you will wake up somewhere and you will be alive."

"I have to believe in what I can't see. That's what you're saying."

"Everything revolves around believing in something. Even if it's just one thing at a time." She smiled. "Drop me a commline or two when you get married."

"Definitely, kid."

They looked at each other for a few seconds. Too many words could be said, if either of them were inclined to be eloquent. But when Nalieza broke the silence, the only thing she could find the courage to say was, "Now get out of your head and back into your body."

"Hey, I can't leave without saying goodbye."

"That's not necessary. Go home while the door's there."

Han glanced at the door. "It'll still be there for another minute or two. I don't wanna rush out of here without saying thank you first."

"Well, okay, you're welcome."

"I don't mean like that." He stared at her. "Look, I'm not good with this kind of stuff...I'm not one of those guys who can just come out and say what I feel...but you know that by now...But I'm glad you were with me during this...I wasn't doing well by myself...but you already know that too."

Nalieza stepped forward. "I'm aware of it all." Then she hugged him.

She could tell he was startled. To be honest, she was surprised that instinct had come to her, as she generally wasn't a demonstrative sort either. But it was only for a second or two...then he hugged her back. This gesture brought up the tears she had been fighting back. There's no need to cry, silly.

When they separated, Han was smiling. "I'll catch up to you in the real world one of these days. So look up every so often, and you'll see the Falcon coming in for a landing when you least expect it."

She laughed. "Sure. I'll keep a check on the sky. And maybe swing by the spaceport once a week just in case you got a major case of insomnia and decided to drop by."

"Or it might be on the news," he added.

She nodded. "Of course, that's a possibility." Then followed another few seconds of silence, broken when Nalieza laughed again and said, "Go on, Respectable Scoundrel. You've got a life waiting for you on the other side of that door."

"Right." He reached out and shook her hand. "Actually, goodbye really isn't in my vocabulary. So I'll see you later."

She bit her lip, trying once more to keep from crying. "Definitely. Take care of yourself."

"You too." She felt he wanted to say something more...but he also knew there was nothing else to say for now. So he turned and walked up the path. When he got to the door, he stopped long enough to look back at her. She smiled, then waved. He returned both gestures, then opened the door, and stepped through it...

A brief trip between the worlds

He was falling...out of the sky...out of another plane...then came a sudden and hard landing...

What the...?

There was breathing...some movement...a mind slowly rising back from the abyss...a sharp rush of cold...blackness...

Then, falling forward...finally stopped by a floor.

He was back in the living world.

Real World: Aeithera

Nalieza woke up. Just like on the night when it all began. There was the same mixing of blue light from the lamp placed high on the wall opposite her bed and the darkness coming from outside. Her breathing was a bit unsteady, as it usually was when she landed back in her physical body.

Yet something was very different. A major aspect that just happened to be significant.

Han was no longer in carbonite...no longer locked away from the real world...from his life. Truly alive, in mind, spirit, and body.

He was free.

"Now the journey's over," she murmured.