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No matter what or who you've been

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Davits Draven knows what’s going on, even before the comms operator says the words. Rebels on Scarif.

 In all fairness, Draven should have expected it. He’s seen Erso’s face during the council meeting. Most of all, he’s seen her records. He knows that for all things attributed to her - criminal, survivor, soldier, killer - quitter isn’t one of them. He should have expected her to go get the Death Star plans anyway.

 (Shockingly, he even expects her to succeed, even knowing the abysmal odds of that turn of events. Somebody as headstrong and driven as Jyn Erso wouldn’t settle for anything less than mission success. Die trying, almost surely, but succeed nonetheless.)

 He also should have known that there would always be someone foolish enough to join Erso in her mastermind suicide plan. The involvement of Bodhi Rook, who backed Erso’s claims during the council hearing with a puppy dog dedication, or that of the two surviving Guardians of the Whills, comes as no surprise at all, if Draven is to be honest. Those men have neither family on base to tie them down, nor years of service to hold their loyalty. Their homeworld was damaged beyond repair - what little life survived the blast would leave Jedha eventually if it wanted to live, or so early reports of Rebel operatives sent to investigate in the area suggested. Taking all that into consideration - even if Jyn Erso didn’t steal a shuttle to extract the plans, the three men would likely do it on their own before the end of the day.

 What he didn’t expect was for Andor to be the one actually doing the orchestrating, not Erso. Despite that, the moment the records start coming in, Davits knows with a dreadful certainty that his best operative will not be found on the Yavin 4 base anymore.

 He tries it anyway, hoping for a miracle as he comes knocking on the door to Andor’s quarters. There’s no response, so he overrides the control panel, only to come to a room that is completely barren of any personal belongings. All that is left behind - a desk, a chair, a creaky bed with the blanket folded perfectly by the book - is the standard inventory of a single-bed room issued to higher-placed military personnel. Kriff, they could hand the room down to the next person right now and save the cleaning crew an afternoon.

 (Draven knows very well that Andor owns no memorabilia from his homeworld, and never has. The only thing they brought along with the boy back from Fest that day, after digging him up from the smoking ruin of a hut, was the clothes he was wearing, and even that was so redolent of smoke that it had to be disposed of upon arrival to the Dantooine base. All young Cassian Andor was left after that was his name, and his memories.)

Draven knocks his head into the wall by the door, swearing silently.

It’s not like he’s not used to agents dying on him. He’s the head of Intelligence, for goodness’ sake. He loses people quicker than he’s acquiring them, which makes the ones that stick around much more memorable. He’s long since made his peace with eventually losing Cassian too - reality is merciless, especially when backed by statistical likelihood of operatives surviving another year of service. Hell, he even accepted having lost Andor on Eadu with minimal fuss already, before he miraculously reported back.

This is different, though. Losing him on Eadu, losing him on any other assignment, would be equally unfortunate but utterly expectable - just another young life laid at the altar of duty, one sad event in the sea of thousands. Knowing that Andor defied orders to go away, that he was the one to gather volunteers and lead them to what they all must have known was certain death with a reward so unlikely that it was almost laughable - that Cassian’s loyalty to the cause is so astronomic; that his loyalty to Jyn Erso, a woman he’s known for several days and spend most of that time fighting, is bigger than his loyalty to the Council, to Draven, whom he’s known for twenty years, is mind-blowing.

Draven should be angry. Instead, he’s equal parts devastated and fiercely proud.

I should have gone with you, he thinks to the shadow of a boy he raised in a rare bout of sentimentality. I’d give my life for yours if I could.

To the Force, he thinks, please, don’t let this sacrifice come in vain.


***


Davits finds Talc Felswoop in the child section of the barracks, and realizes that there is little need to explain what brought him there. Talc already knows.

“It’s Cassian, isn’t it?” he asks, whispering, mindful of the oblivious children playing around them. “He’s on Scarif right now.”

“Yes,” Davits nods and sits next to the aging Togruta. There’s no point in denying that; after all, it was Talc Felswoop who raised Cassian Andor from childhood to advanced training. It was Talc who taught the silent boy, whom no one understood a word and whose understanding of everyone around him was barely any better, to speak Basic. And Huttese. And fairly decent Togruti. Essentially, if there’s anyone who knows Cassian like Draven does or better, it is Talc Felswoop.

“He would do that, wouldn’t he,” the Togruta sighs, putting his head into his hands. “Something changed in him. Before, he would listen and stay, and hate himself for it.”

“That’s true,” Davits admits and reaches under the table, where he knows Talc keeps a secret bottle of Corellian gin hidden in a wall alcove. “I think he met his anchor point, so to speak.”

“The Erso girl,” Talc notes and takes a swing from the bottle. “Heard snippets about her. All very vague, you see, but. Quite a reputation she has.”

“She knocked out Melshi and his two boys with a shovel,” Davits grunts, huffing a low laugh despite himself. “She was… she is fierce, that woman.”

“What are the odds, do you think?” Talc asks silently, like he doesn’t really want to hear the answer. Like he’d be better off not to know it.

Davits Draven has never been known for the art of white lies.

“Of them getting the plans? Minimal, I’d say, if it was anyone else. But if there’s anyone capable of getting them out, it’s them.”

“I meant the other odds,” Talc says, even quieter.

Davits sighs and leans against the wall. “What have the odds ever been, Talc?”

***

They’re well on their way to stoned by the time the reports from Scarif start taking any sort of shape. Several X-wings managed to slip under the shield before it closed; communication with the pilots cut off since then. Explosions were seen from the orbit. Profundity giving and taking heavy damage. Shield gate not giving in. Rogue One not heard from, but suspected trapped on ground or dead.

Draven contemplates turning the comm off for Talc’s sake, but eventually decides against it - they might need advice (though what advice could Davits’ inebriated mind come up with, he fails to recognize), he needs to stay updated, and Talc can handle bad news anyway.

Bodhi Rook logs in eventually, asking for a miracle. Davits would laugh at the request to open up the shield gate; it’s not like they haven’t been trying to do it since the moment it closed. He only doesn’t laugh because of the body count of his people that the task has already taken.

Then, Admiral Raddus orders the Lightmaker to crash a Star Destroyer into the gate. Incredibly, his command is followed with little fuss.

(Draven tries not to think of Captain Oquoné and his crew, no more than of any single person that is on Scarif or above right now. They will be remembered, he tells himself, desperately, as the corvette hammers into the disabled Destroyer and tips it to hit the shield gate. They are heroes already, all of them.

He suppresses the pang that comes when Raddus tries in vain to re-establish contact with Rook to inform him that the shield is down; when observers onboard Profundity report and explosion from the spot where they registered the stolen cargo shuttle before. Rook was a fine pilot, and a fine young man. He would have joined up to the Rebellion collective nicely, as half of its people have defected the Empire before him. He would have been an asset, at the very least. Such a waste of potential.)

They are transmitting the plans out. That means they don’t count on getting off the surface themselves. They have abandoned the hope to live. Davits doesn’t even know who “them” is, how many of those who set on the mission are still alive. Not for long, now.

It hurts more than he would have thought it could.

When Admiral Raddus confirms receiving of the plans (they did it, they did it, they did it) and bids Rogue One a farewell, there’s nobody there to hear him anymore. Davits reaches over the table to put a hand (less steady than he’d want it to be) to Talc’s trembling shoulder and clasps it tightly.

They listen on as they lose another part of the fleet, Profundity, all its crew and any shred of hope that might still remain. After that, they just drink on.

***

Draven is not really passed out, merely near it.

His drinking skills aren’t what they used to be any longer, not since Bones took his left kidney a few years ago. Before that, he could drink almost any other human under the table and hold up against Ackbar for half the night before the inevitable defeat.

After losing the kidney, his otherwise meager social life suffered even more, not to mention the throbbing cramps he still occasionally gets in the scar tissue. His alcohol tolerance just isn’t what it was before, far from it. Even Andor’s managed to drink him under the table now, and it was just as ridiculous as mightily shocking, since the Captain would be hardly ever seen drinking and it was a general belief that he would pass out after his third glass. The reality was different, though, and whoever taught him how to drink (and it wasn’t Davits, despite being just the man for the job) knew exactly what they were doing because the skinny little bastard’s liver must be made of durasteel by now.

Blearily, Davits thinks that assigning a class of recruits to Andor for extensive toxicology training is the most brilliant idea he’s had in a long time and he’ll be on it just as his chair stops shifting from side to side under him. Then he remembers why precisely he got drunk in the first place.

Oh, Cassian.

The comm is cracking - Davits remembers Talc punching it some time back, which must have shifted the settings - so he adjusts it to clear the voice.

“... at landing pad A2, emergency on board."

"Confirm, landing pad A2.” That’s Bones, loud and clear. Whoever is the one who needs medical emergency is in good hands then. “Request what kind of medical emergency,"

"Uhh, emergency not breathing, pilot advises three more passengers have sustained blaster injuries,” the comm operator says.

"Confirm emergency not breathing,” Bones replies. “Confirm three further injured, request Rogue One ETA.”

What.

“Talc,” Davits barks and shakes the old Togruta’s shoulder. “Wake up.”

Talc lifts his head, shakes it and blinks blearily. “What.”

"Rogue One ETA two and counting. Out." There’s a wave of static and the comm goes quiet.

“They made it,” Davits says.

Talc blinks at him. “Shit.”

***

“They’re never going to let us in,” Davits moans fifteen minutes later as they’re making their painstakingly slow way to the med bay, their limbs wobbly for the alcohol in their veins. His head feels too heavy for his neck and shoulders.

“We’re not going in,” Talc says resolutely and marches on. He seems more steady than Davits feels, which he takes almost as an insult. Damn natural carnivores and their hyper effective liver. “We’re going to only peek through the window.”

“I can comm them, you know,” Davits points out. “They can tell us who made it back easily by the comm.”

Talc sneers. “You’re welcome to comm anyone you’d please, but I’m seeing them with my own eyes. Now.”

“Talc, I feel you. I really do. But you have to accept that maybe, maybe Andor isn’t among them. What will you do?”

Talc’s step falters imperceptibly, but he doesn’t answer. He just keeps on walking.

All too soon they find themselves at the inner only window to the med bay. They’re staring at the clutter around the place - people (and other sentient species) running around, carrying things, but they don’t see the actual people that were brought in for the window only leads to a post-bacta recovery room that is currently empty and will likely stay so for some time.

“Good plan,” he says, staring at the empty room. “We’re actually quite early, it seems.”

“Do we wait?” Talc asks quietly. “I can’t wait, Davits.”

“No, Talc, we don’t wait.” He can’t spend hours not knowing either.

“So what do we do?” Talc hiccups.

“We’re spies, aren’t we?” Davits replies, turning on his heels and marching with a confidence he doesn’t feel to the med bay entrance. “We infiltrate the territory and gather intel. We teach that to kids, after all.”

Talc scoffs, yet he follows him. “We’re usually sober while we do that.”

“About time we tested our true potential, then.”

They get through an inner hallway into the biggest med room of Yavin IV and immediately spot one of the Guardians from Jedha there, being treated for two blaster burns. Davits tries to sneak behind the curtain that cuts off the rest of the med room, but the commotion of people is too dense further down. Somebody would see that they have nothing to do in there and throw them out or worse, they could get in someone’s way and cause more damage. He can also hear Bones yelling something, which is reason enough to be on one’s careful guard. Davits can hardly afford to lose another kidney after all.

The man (Malbus, Draven thinks his name is, although he isn’t absolutely sure) has spotted them and is looking at them impassively, like he’s a bit bored by their presence. There’s something lurking in his gaze though, not openly aggressive but it still makes the General wary slightly. Whatever or whoever it is the Jedhan has chosen to guard now that his temple is gone, he will not let it come to harm, Davits can see that much.

His scrutiny is uncomfortable in the least and Davits fidgets beneath it, until finally the nurse treating his shoulder leaves, and the man speaks.

“He will live.”

“Who?” Draven asks, not daring to hope.

“Your captain,” Malbus replies, like it’s beyond obvious.

And maybe, maybe it is. Davits wants to ask how the Guardian knew exactly what kind of intel they were after, but does it really matter right now? No, it can surely wait for a better occasion.

“Are you certain?” Talc breathes with a painfully trusting edge to his voice.

Malbus nods. “He is not well but will pull through. So will Bodhi Rook.”

Thank Force for small mercies, Davits says. “And Jyn Erso?”

“Will lose her leg,” the Guardian answers in a more somber tone, lowering his eyes to the floor. “But she is strong. She will recover.”

“And your friend? Master Ȋmwe, was it?”

Malbus looks back at them, his eyes filling with pride. “Chirrut and I didn’t resist the Empire for all these years to give it up now.”

Davits and Talc exchange a look - an exhilarated, exhausted, ecstatic look.

It can’t be. It can’t be.

Davits wants to ask the good man about the others - maybe there are other survivors, maybe they were captured by the Empire - but just as he takes a breath to form his question the curtain splits in half and the familiar form of a short salt-and-pepper-haired woman fills in the gap. Her entire front is covered in blood, including her shoes. As soon as her eyes set on the two spies, they can feel the wrath storm forming.

“You two aren’t scrubbed in,” she hisses.

“I think we should…” Talc mumbles, already nearing the door.

“Out!” Bones bellows, beating at them with the apron she’s just slipped off. “Out, both of you! Davits, you had a strep throat just two days ago, you idiot! They’ve got open wounds! If anyone gets erysipelas I will cut you!”

“There’s this fancy curtain there and we’re leaving!” Draven points out, but he’s backing off fast enough. Angry Bones is scary. Malbus is watching them and Davits would bet his twenty years worth of pay that the man is about to laugh at them.

“Good!” Bones hollers after them. “I’m now going to fix half of some kriffing sod’s fucking shredded spine, and if you two are anywhere on this fucking floor in the next five seconds I’ll make you into fish food!”