Jyn has a bad feeling.
She noticed it early one morning, but dismissed it as a stomach ache. Since then, it hasn’t changed, meaning that it hasn’t gotten worse; but it also hasn’t gotten any better. Rather, it’s stayed the same. Stayed with her, hovering, somewhere in her belly.
She lives with the ache in her gut for a week before caving, and telling Cassian about it.
“What do you mean, a ‘bad feeling’?”
“Just like…” She frowns, knotting the ends of her shirt together aimlessly, unable to meet Cassian’s gaze from across their shared room. “Just… a bad feeling.”
“A bad feeling,” Cassian repeats, and he sounds entirely nonplussed, and she can’t really blame him for it.
She twists her lips, struggling for words. “Something bad is going to happen.”
“Something bad always happens, Jyn,” Cassian says, and he does not sound dismissive, but kind, and she knows he’s trying to understand exactly what she means, by aiming for comforting. “We’re in the middle of a war. It would be odd for something bad to not happen.”
“I know that,” Jyn snaps, and Cassian stills, watching her. “This is different. This is new.”
She sighs. “It’s probably nothing, you’re right--”
“I didn’t say that,” Cassian says, quickly. “I wouldn’t ignore your instincts like that.”
And that’s true, he never has.
He gets to his feet, and moves to her side, pressing a kiss to her head.
“But I don’t really know how to combat a bad feeling,” he adds.
She nods, because that’s fair. She doesn’t know what to do with it, either.
All she knows is that it’s there, and that she’s certain.
Something bad is going to happen.
She’s pretty sure something bad is not going to happen to Cassian, specifically.
That’d been where her mind had first gone, when she’d initially become aware of the ache in her chest, and had realized what it meant. Cassian hadn’t been on Echo Base at the time, but on Felucia, on the other side of the galaxy.
Jyn had immediately gone to the sector of the base where Alliance Command was housed, to find Leia Organa.
Leia was in a mood, her mouth a harsh line and her dark brown eyes narrowed, going over intel reports, gripping data pads with more malice than they really deserved.
And her eyes repeatedly flickered to the ice-covered doorway, and Jyn took that as confirmation that she was in another spat with Han Solo.
Jyn had no time for their dramatics.
She marched straight up to Leia, ignoring the looks being shot her way from senior officers also gathered in the room.
“May I have a word, Princess?” Jyn asked.
Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted General Rieekan beginning to move towards the two women, likely to eavesdrop or even attempt to get Jyn out of the room, a command center that Jyn was quite certain she wasn’t actually allowed to be in. But she stood her ground, and ignored the senior officer, keeping her eyes locked on Leia.
Leia, who’d turned to Jyn, and seen something in Jyn’s face that she apparently decided merited the one-on-one conversation Jyn had (politely) demanded.
“Of course, Sergeant Erso,” Leia said, and took Jyn by the elbow, and tugged her out of the room.
They didn’t go far, only about ten meters down the snowy and frigid hallway, until Leia found an alcove that was likely an abandoned tunnel extension of the base, and pulled Jyn into it.
“What can I do for you?” Leia asked, and Jyn, not for the first time, appreciated Leia’s brusqueness.
She resolved to do the same.
“Have you heard from Cassian lately?”
Leia blinked, though Jyn thought she should’ve expected this question.
“He sent in a report a few days ago,” Leia replied. “Nothing out of the ordinary.”
A few days ago was vague, but Jyn couldn’t have expected Leia to know the exact date. Even if she and Cassian were fairly close friends, he was one of hundreds of soldiers she was helping to manage, and lead.
“That was the last time you heard from him?”
“He’s recruiting,” Leia said, frowning. “It’s not high-scale espionage.”
And by that, she meant, Why are you worried about this mission?
Felucia might be under Imperial control, but a recruitment mission there wouldn’t even crack the top one hundred of most dangerous missions Cassian had undertaken.
“It’s stupid,” she said, already regretting going to Leia about this.
But Leia was Cassian’s friend, and more likely to be honest with Jyn about his whereabouts, more so than anyone else actually in Intelligence.
“What is it?” Leia asked, frowning so hard a line was developing between her eyes, just above her nose.
“I don’t know,” Jyn said, honestly, because she didn’t know what the pain in her stomach was, exactly. “I just, I had this feeling… I thought something might have happened.”
Rather than look more confused, Leia’s eyes cleared, her expression softening.
“I get those, too,” she admitted, and Jyn stared.
Leia startled her even more by reaching forward, and squeezing Jyn’s shoulder, a clear gesture of comfort.
“I’m sure he’s fine,” Leia said. “I’ve never known a more consummate survivor than Cassian Andor.”
“Right,” Jyn said.
“But if anything comes up, I’ll let you know,” Leia said, surprising Jyn further. “He’s due back in a couple days, I think, but. Well. I’ll keep an ear out.”
“Thank you,” Jyn said, feeling gratified.
Leia nodded. “Of course. I’ll see you later, Jyn.”
And with that, she turned on her heel, and strode back down the freezing hallway, Jyn watching her go.
Under Jyn’s shirt, the kyber crystal resting on her chest warmed.
Cassian returned from Felucia two days later, unharmed, and confused but pleased with the tight hug Jyn bestowed on him in the Echo Base hangar.
Five days later, she told him of her bad feeling, and he had no idea what it could mean, suggesting it might go away on its own.
Her bad feeling persisted.
Almost two months after Jyn recognized the ache in her gut, her Pathfinders squad is assigned a mission on Ord Mantell.
Ord Mantell is the capital of the Imperial Bright Jewel Oversector, meaning the Empire has logged it as a world the rebels frequent. This doesn’t say much, exactly, but it does confirm that Ord Mantell, as the capital of its sector, is well on the radar of the Empire, with a Grand Moff charged with keeping an eye on it.
What this really means is that the Imperial Palace Casino Hotel is on Ord Mantell, and it is crawling with Imperial officers for the rebels to pickpocket, seduce, and generally steal from.
Jyn and her team are assigned to make such a visit to the Casino Hotel, as Grand Moff Vanko is personally hosting a party.
Jyn is less than thrilled with the parameters of the mission.
Kes Dameron is delighted.
“It’ll be fun,” he insists, ignoring Jyn’s dismayed face as he digs out his dressiest clothes from the back of his closet on Echo Base. “Come on, Erso; when was the last time you went to a party?”
“Exactly,” Jyn mutters.
Cassian is slightly more sympathetic.
“Historically speaking, my record at Imperial events is… less than stellar,” he says, thoughtfully, watching Jyn push her meager dinner around her plate, rebels chatting in the mess hall around them. “I’ve always hated being surrounded by so many Imperials. It’s very isolating.”
“Thank you,” Jyn says.
“But you won’t be alone. Kes and the rest of your team will be there.”
“This is my first Imperial… thing,” she says, because she does not want to say party.
She groans again, because that wasn’t what she meant, exactly.
“I don’t want to…” And here she waves her hands around, and surprisingly, Cassian successfully translates the movement.
“You don’t want to dress up,” he says, a smirk growing at the corner of his mouth.
She rolls her eyes. “Laugh it up, Andor.”
“It really isn’t funny,” Cassian agrees. “You just don’t want to draw attention to yourself.”
Sometimes, Jyn manages to forget that Cassian knows her better than anyone else ever has.
“Yeah,” she says.
“That’s understandable,” he says, expression turned more supportive than it had been previously. “You’ll be very far outside your comfort zone.”
“And your bad feeling doesn’t help. Do you think it has to do with the mission?”
“I’ve felt like this for two months,” Jyn says, quietly. “I don’t know what it has to do with.”
Cassian reaches across the table, and brushes his fingers over the back of her hand.
“You’ll be okay,” he says, gently. “You’ve gone on more dangerous missions before, surrounded by Imperials. The setting is… a bit different, for this mission, but… Think of it like any other mission, just with… Unusual details.”
His hesitant words make her laugh, which she thinks was his goal.
She borrows a dress from Leia Organa (naturally, because who else is close to Jyn’s height, with a stash of fashionable and expensive clothes handy). The dress is long, and dark green, and it will allow her to hide a blaster and a knife underneath it. She looks in a mirror, and considers making more of an effort with her hair, but ultimately decides she’s going to be more uncomfortable than she maybe ever has been before, and she doesn’t really need to add to that.
Kes, deadpan, says he’s heard that the messy haired look is popular at the moment.
Cassian smiles at her when she announces herself as being as ready as she’ll ever be.
“You look very nice,” he says, and kisses her scowl away.
Jyn has had a bad feeling for two months.
Cassian escorts her to the transport her team is taking from Hoth to Ord Mantell, and she looks at him, standing in the frost-covered hangar of Echo Base, and the most cynical part of her thinks that it’ll be the last time she ever sees him.
He smirks at Kes, dressed to the nines, and gives him a sort of sarcastic salute as farewell.
He looks back to Jyn, and smiles.
She pulls her parka in tighter to her body, holding the kyber crystal at her throat, and tries to ignore the ache in her gut, the pain in her chest, that sense of impending doom, that sense that they are running out of time.
Jyn gets shot in the leg on the mission to Ord Mantell.
She’s shot as she’s running away from a handful of Imperial officers, her blaster in one hand, the end of the dress in the other, and a bolt of light blows into her knee, and she drops to the hard marble floor of the casino lobby.
She gasps at the pain, managing to refrain from screaming, glancing back just in time to see the dark red blood begin to spill out of her knee.
She looks up, and sees the Imperial officers still running towards her, their faces twisted into masks of rage and triumph, because they see that she’s very much stuck, there on the marble floor, her leg sending bright bursts of pain galloping through her body.
Jyn grits her teeth, and trains her pistol on the officers.
She starts a countdown in her head.
(Distantly, in that part of her mind that is not howling with pain, she wonders, Is this it? Am I out of time? )
She shoots two officers before she finishes her countdown, when Demolitions comes through, right on time and as expected, and take the floor out, sending her and the remaining officers plummeting to the basement, the bowels of the building, all hard cement and cold stone.
She closes her eyes as she falls, and doesn’t think of the bad feeling once.
She wakes up back on Echo Base, on Hoth, in the medical wing.
Cassian is asleep in the chair next to her, though saying he’s asleep in the chair would be a charitable statement; his upper half is sprawled on the bed with her, his head next to her good knee, his hand covering hers. He’s breathing slowly, and evenly, but his eyes open the second Jyn moves, light sleeper that he is.
“Hey,” he whispers, blinking up at her.
“I’m alive,” Jyn says, which gets him to smile.
“Yes, you are,” he replies, sitting up, holding her hand more tightly.
“What… What happened?”
“Do you remember getting shot?” Cassian asks, almost clinically, and she nods.
She remembers getting shot, and she remembers falling, when the bombs they’d planted around the Imperial Palace Casino Hotel had detonated, just as she knew they would.
“You’re very lucky that Kes Dameron is as much of a stickler for rules as you are,” Cassian says, mouth thinning. “When you failed to turn up at your meeting point, he doubled back, against orders, and found you half-buried under a pile of debris.”
That would explain why her body feels like one giant bruise.
“He pulled you out and carried you to the ship,” Cassian continues. “I don’t know exactly what the goal of your mission was, but Kes says the team pulled it off, so there’s that.”
“There’s that,” Jyn repeats.
“The droid…” Cassian half-turns, waving his arm around in the general direction of the medical wing. “I can’t remember its designation, but it said you should be back to active duty in a week or so. You’re supposed to take it easy in the meantime.”
“Great,” Jyn mutters.
“You’re very lucky, Jyn,” Cassian says, voice harsher, an undercurrent of anxiety running through it.
She sighs. “I know. But I’ve been shot before.”
“Yes, but I…”
He frowns, and Jyn, even in her drug-induced state, even in her rising nausea from the blood loss, puts it together.
“You’ve never seen me shot before,” she says.
“I didn’t even see you get shot,” he says, smiling a little, but it’s a sad smile. “I was… I was supposed to leave for Umgul today, but General Madine intercepted me after my briefing to tell me that you’d been shot on Ord Mantell, and I might want to hang around a little longer to see you.”
Jyn stares at Cassian.
General Madine is the current Alliance leader of the Pathfinders. Jyn likes him well enough, and she’s long thought that he likes her, especially since she’s always one of the first to rise to his defense when a disgruntled rebel brings up Madine’s past as an Imperial officer.
Jyn knows a thing or two about goodness in Imperials.
(Galen Erso, Bodhi Rook, Ethan Bain.)
Still, telling Cassian she’d been shot wasn’t something Madine had to do.
“Nice of him,” she says.
“It was also kind of General Cracken to let me delay my mission for a day or two,” Cassian notes.
General Cracken is the chief of Alliance Intelligence. Jyn is less surprised at Cracken’s kindness; Cassian is one of his longest serving and most trusted officers.
“But I was…” Cassian swallows. “It was… Difficult, to see you like that.”
“Bleeding out,” Cassian says, and she regrets her flippant response.
He’d watched Taraja bleed out and die when he was twenty, and Jyn knows it is not a memory he has forgotten, but one that haunts him still, one he’s had nightmares of, where Jyn is the one to bleed out in the Galactic Opera House on Coruscant.
“Sorry,” she mumbles, but Cassian shakes his head.
“Don’t apologize,” he says. “I knew this would happen sooner rather than later. The Pathfinders are…”
“I was going to say reckless, but I like your word better.”
“We get shit done,” Jyn says, and he laughs.
“Yeah,” Cassian says, nodding. He looks up at her, and his brown eyes are warm, but a little watery, and Jyn wonders what he was really like when she turned up on Hoth, in Kes Dameron’s arms, poorly patched up, bleeding out, unconscious.
He squeezes her hand. “Get some sleep.”
“I’ll get right on that,” Jyn says, but she’s mumbling again, and can already feel herself drifting away.
Cassian’s hand is warm in hers, and she lets him anchor her.
“At least we know what your bad feeling was about, now,” Cassian says, and Jyn feels ice, cold as the planet outside the walls of the base, skip down her spine.
Her bad feeling hasn’t gone away.
It’s still there.
So Cassian is sort of right.
Something bad isn’t going to happen.
Something worse is going to happen.
Cassian goes on his mission to Umgul, and returns a month later, after establishing connections with Ugnaughts on the planet, and hearing rumors of a mining colony, allegedly existing outside of Imperial control, in a place called the Cloud City.
“Where’s the Cloud City?” Jyn asks.
Umgul is a misty planet, and she assumes it must be there, but Cassian shakes his head.
“Off-planet,” he says. “It has a generic enough name that it could be a reference to several locations. Draven’s team will look into it.”
Jyn is more intrigued by Cassian’s descriptions of Umgullian blob racing, which is a hugely popular gambling sport on Umgul.
“It’s the strangest thing,” he says. “It’s exactly what it sounds like.”
“Blob racing? ”
“I laughed, and an Ugnaught threatened to cut my legs off. They take it very seriously.”
Jyn can’t imagine taking such a thing seriously, but she thinks her favorite part of the whole thing is the sheer fact that Cassian gets to experience strange cultures and traditions, that his missions don’t frequently revolve around assault and murder, but recruitment, and conversation with witnesses and Imperial defectors. Cassian’s missions for the last three years, since Rogue One, since he asked to leave Draven’s off-the-books Intelligence unit, have changed hugely in this way, and she knows how grateful he is for this better work, and she hopes he gets to stay with it.
It is the most he has ever asked for himself, the most he’s ever taken for himself, for his own betterment, and she thinks no one deserves more.
She glances at Cassian, and considers voicing this opinion, but the words tangle up in her throat.
They’ve been together for three years, but she still has a difficult time articulating her feelings about him, what she thinks about his character, how she’s come to love and adore him. Slowly, though, she’s getting better at it. At being forthcoming, and just horrifically sappy.
But they’re walking through base, in public, and no one needs to know that about her.
“How’s the leg?” Cassian asks, adjusting his bag around his shoulder.
“Better than new,” Jyn replies. “Or, that’s what the medical droids tell me. But it’s fine.”
“You’re not limping anymore.”
“No, that stopped about two weeks ago.”
“Ah,” Cassian says, nodding, looking a little pained. “Sorry.”
“Don’t be,” Jyn mumbles.
They haven’t seen each other in a month, which isn’t the longest stretch of time they’ve gone without talking or seeing the other, but every time somehow manages to feel like the longest. Jyn knows that the distance is unavoidable, that there’s no possible way for her missions and Cassian’s to sync up and match, that their time together during the war will be spent in snatches and bursts, hours here and there.
At the moment, they’re looking at a minimum of five days together, which is pretty good for them, as sad as it sounds.
“What else happened while I was gone?”
“Skywalker almost got himself killed,” Jyn says.
“What? Doing what?”
“I dunno, it only happened, like, yesterday,” Jyn replies. “He was on patrol, and he didn’t come back, and so Solo went out to find him, but he didn’t come back either, and they closed the base with them still stuck outside. They were out there all night.”
“On Hoth?” Cassian says, managing to keep his amazement soft, so it doesn’t rise over the general chatter of the halls of the base, the whirring of droids, the sounds of machinery being fixed and retrofitted, the conversations between dozens of rebels. “And they survived?”
“Senesca found them alive this morning,” Jyn explains. “He’s been telling everyone that Solo stuffed Skywalker in a dead tauntaun.”
“A… A dead--”
“If you want details, ask Senesca, I don’t want to know anything more,” Jyn interrupts, nose wrinkling at the thought of being stuffed in a dead tauntaun. The smell alone… “Anyway, Skywalker’s pretty banged up but in shockingly decent shape for being out on Hoth all night. Solo’s, somehow, a hero. Again.”
Cassian looks disturbed, nose crinkled, mouth thin, and Jyn isn’t sure if it’s the dead tauntaun thing or the Solo being a hero again thing. Neither is a palatable thought.
“Leia must’ve been worried,” he says at last.
“Probably,” Jyn agrees.
She can understand Leia’s attachment to Skywalker; he’s friendly, and enthusiastic, and generally fun to be around, just about everything you’d want in a friend and fellow rebel. But Solo is more of an acquired taste: he’s proud, haughty, and over-confident, and Jyn doesn’t understand why Leia wants him as a friend, much less anything more.
“Do you still have that bad feeling?” Cassian asks.
“Yes,” Jyn groans. “I don’t know what it is! It’s been months, and nothing terrible has happened, and now I’m starting to wonder if it’s something more serious, something actually wrong with me.”
“You have felt like this for a while,” Cassian agrees.
“I just… It really feels like a warning,” Jyn says. “I still think something terrible is going to happen.”
She has no sooner said this than Dax Ralter, a member of Skywalker’s Rogue Squadron (a squadron that Jyn has very mixed and complicated feelings about) comes barreling around the corner, looking torn between amusement and exhaustion.
“Aye, Erso,” he grunts in greeting, and gives Cassian a complicated attempt at a salute. “Captain Andor.”
“What’s up, Ralter?” Jyn asks, frowning, because Ralter looks more harried than normal.
“It’s the Princess and Captain Solo,” Ralter explains. “I don’t know what happened, but they’re having more of a fight than normal.”
As he speaks, Jyn slowly becomes aware of raised voices coming from the hall behind him, growing louder.
“And they’re headed this way, so…” Ralter trails off. “Anyway. I’d best be off.”
He waves and steps past Jyn, going down the hall the way they’d come.
Cassian groans, running a hand through his hair.
“No one happened to finish clearing the new tunnel while I was gone, did they?”
“This is still the only way to our room,” Jyn confirms.
“Maybe if we stand very, very still, they won’t notice us.”
Jyn snorts a laugh, just in time for Han Solo and Leia Organa to appear around the corner.
“... Don’t be ridiculous, Han, of course that wasn’t why I--”
“Why not? He was half-dead! Seems as good a reason as any! I just wanna make sure I understand right--”
“Captain Andor,” Leia says, interrupting Solo, a pleased grin crossing her face, and Jyn doesn’t think she’s ever seen Leia so happy to see Cassian before. “Did you just get back? How was your mission?”
“It went well, Princess,” Cassian replies, glancing at Solo, who’s peering at him with an unusually thoughtful expression on his face.
“I’m glad to hear that. That reminds me, General Draven--”
“Andor’s been half-dead,” Solo bursts out unexpectedly, and Jyn, Cassian, and Leia all stare at him.
Cassian breaks the sudden silence. “Sorry, what?”
“You’ve almost died before,” Solo says, which is not much of a clarification.
“Uh… Yes, more than once,” Cassian replies, hesitantly, clearly unsure as to where Solo is going with this.
Jyn watches, confused and more than a little apprehensive. Han Solo might be a moron, but he’s been known to argue his way to an unexpectedly pointed conclusion before.
Solo spins around to Leia, who’s scowling now.
“What about Andor, then, huh? Did you kiss him?”
“What? ” Cassian blurts, at the same time as Leia throws her hands up and Jyn raises her eyebrows.
“You are ridiculous! ” Leia exclaims, her voice matching the yelling Jyn had heard down the hallway moments before. “Luke is my dear friend, and what I feel about him, or say to him, or do with him, is absolutely none of your business, and you can--”
“Erso’s been half-dead, too,” Solo interjects, and Jyn’s gaze snaps to him, noting the way he has one hand pressed to his face, finger tapping his cheek in thought, frowning at her. “I remember, I saw you in the medical wing after you got back from that droyked-up mission to Scarif.”
“You’re welcome,” Jyn says, voice icy, confusion quickly turning into irritation.
“I ain’t saying it wasn’t brave,” Solo says. “That’s the point. It was in service to the Rebellion, and you wound up here half-dead, and a fleet of medical droids had to patch you up again.”
“Where are you going with this?” Leia asks, but there’s a hint of dread in her voice, like she already knows.
Jyn has no idea.
“Just, you know, if you don’t have feelings for Luke--” Han tries.
“That you know about!” Leia interjects.
“Must’ve had some other reason to kiss him, and him being almost killed in service to the Alliance seems like a good reason,” Solo says, pressing on. “I think I’ll give it a shot.”
And with that, he steps forward, puts both his hands on Jyn’s face, and kisses her.
Jyn is so surprised by this move that she only stands there.
Solo seems to know that he has limited time before she overcomes the shock and can retaliate, because he breaks the kiss after barely four seconds.
Cassian’s eyes are very wide, and more than a little stunned.
Leia looks torn between exasperation and something Jyn almost thinks is hurt .
“What the kriff, Solo,” Jyn gasps, wiping her mouth with her sleeve.
“Sorry, Andor,” Solo says, ignoring Jyn. He pats Cassian on the shoulder and then steps past them, not looking once at Leia, but heading off down the hall.
“‘Sorry, Andor’? ” Jyn yells after him. “What about ‘Sorry, Erso’? ”
But Solo doesn’t stop.
Jyn thinks he might actually be whistling.
She twists, and stares up at Cassian. “Did that just happen?”
“Mm.” Cassian frowns. “Are you sure it wasn’t Solo that had to be stuffed in a tauntaun? Hypothermia can make people behave unexpectedly.”
“I’m afraid there’s a reason for his madness, this time,” Leia says, eyes locked on Solo’s retreating back. She rolls her shoulders, and turns back to Cassian. “Anyway. General Draven wanted a word with you, Captain Andor.”
Cassian nods. “Sure, I’ll… I’ll go see him.”
“Good.” Leia looks at Jyn. “I… I’m sorry about that, Jyn.”
“Uh, thanks, Princess.”
Leia nods at her, glances at Cassian, and walks away.
The hall is suddenly very quiet.
“Listen, if that wasn’t what your bad feeling was warning you about, then I think we’d better leave the galaxy.”
Jyn laughs at Cassian’s comment, though she doesn’t quite disagree.
“It was truly the worst possible thing,” she says. “Kriff. I feel gross.”
Cassian steps closer to her, and gently places his hands on her face, a mimicry of Solo moments before that is infinitely more pleasant.
And his kiss is much more wanted.
Jyn smiles into it.
Cassian steps back several moments later.
“A bit,” Jyn allows. “But I’m still going to kill a tauntaun and stuff Solo into it.”
Cassian laughs. “I’d expect nothing less.” He runs his fingers over her cheek. “I should go see what Draven wants. See you later?”
She watches him walk away, the knot in her stomach still there, but for the moment, almost forgotten.
When Jyn finally makes it to their room that night, it is to find Cassian already there, dressed for sleep, lying on the bed, but staring at the ceiling.
“Hey,” she says, and Cassian blinks, and looks over at her.
“Hi,” he says. “Kill any tauntauns today?”
“They don’t deserve to die for Solo’s actions,” Jyn says, and Cassian grins.
She pulls off her boots and coat and dresses for bed, aware that Cassian is watching her. She notices his travel bag has been dumped unceremoniously on the floor near the closet, his boots next to it, ready to go. She frowns, and turns to Cassian, a question on her tongue.
Cassian meets her gaze readily, and answers her question.
“I’ve been asked to complete an assassination.”
It’s an answer she hadn’t expected.
“An Imperial general,” Cassian replies, and he sounds calm, and he’s meeting Jyn’s eyes, though she sees something akin to guilt in his. “On Empress Teta.”
“But why have you been asked--”
“They need someone to attend the Imperial Games, posing as an Imperial officer,” Cassian says. “It’s going to be tricky, because the General is going to be surrounded by guards and officers, and so the assassin will have to be very good. Will have to be able to blend in with the officers, must have an understanding of the proper protocol, and etiquette--”
“And no one else can do this?”
“No one who’s available,” Cassian says, almost too smoothly.
“Are they… Is Draven making you--”
“Of course not,” Cassian says, shaking his head. “He told me about it, and I said I’d go. I wasn’t forced into it. I could’ve said no.”
Jyn isn’t so sure about that.
“You haven’t gone undercover like this in a while,” she says, slowly. And by that, she means, You haven’t had to wear an Imperial uniform in a while.
“No,” Cassian agrees, and says nothing more.
She swallows, and looks away.
It’s late, night having long fallen over Hoth, and the planet is so devoid of life that nighttime means absolute darkness beyond the base, and all the outdoor lights are turned off at night in case a ship passing over Hoth should take note of a settlement on a planet that should have none.
Jyn and Cassian don’t have a window in their room, and Jyn has always been fine with this; she’s never wanted to look out the window and see only darkness.
She wishes now, though, that there was somewhere to look beyond the room, and Cassian.
It is moments like this where she regrets living in the same room as him. She doesn’t have anywhere to go whenever they argue, which is more often than she’d like, though Cassian, and Kes and Shara, all insist they don’t argue any more or less than most couples.
But this is an argument they haven’t had before.
“You haven’t assassinated anyone in a while,” she notes, and by that she means, You haven’t completed an assassination since before you met me.
The unavoidable truth that Cassian’s last assassination should’ve been Galen Erso hangs in the air between them.
Cassian, perched on the bed, looks uncomfortable with this unspoken reminder.
“I’m not sure it’s the kind of thing you forget how to do,” he says, like this is what she’s worried about.
“There was a reason you left Draven’s team,” Jyn says. “You wanted to be better, to do better things. You didn’t want to… You didn’t kill my father because you thought you could be better than that.”
Cassian sighs, and looks at the floor.
“This is different,” he says, quietly.
Jyn scowls. “I’m sure that was something you used to tell yourself. That you used to believe .”
She thinks he doesn’t anymore, that he can’t.
(She thinks this is a good thing, but it isn’t.)
Cassian swallows, and still won’t meet her eyes, but she can still clearly see the melancholy he’s lived with for most of his life in his face, more prominent than it’s been in a while.
(He can’t separate any of the assassinations in his mind; they blur together, countless killings he can’t answer for.)
He sighs, very quietly, and then looks up at her.
“I’m not supposed to tell you this,” he mutters. “But what the hell. The Imperial General I’ve been asked to assassinate is Ress Gallamby.”
The name gives Jyn pause.
She recognizes it. She knows she’s heard Cassian say it before.
“Gallamby,” she says, slowly, lingering on each syllable.
Cassian smiles at her, but it’s a dark smile, sharp like a knife, and she doesn’t like it.
“Gallamby was the man who taught me how to kill your father,” he says, and he doesn’t sound like himself.
He sounds cold, and cruel, and she hates his tone.
“Lemniscate,” she breathes, and Cassian nods. “He taught you how to use a sniper rifle, and he had you kill twenty prisoners with it.”
“So you can see,” Cassian murmurs, “Why this is different. Different for me.”
His hands, resting on his knees, are tightened into fists.
She’s quite sure there are few individual people Cassian hates in the galaxy more than Gallamby.
But she’s also sure she isn’t the only one who’s aware of this. And that thought is distressing.
“Draven’s using you,” Jyn says, voice gentle. “He knows who Gallamby is, he knows your history with him. He knew you’d agree to killing him.”
“You… You know.”
“Of course,” Cassian says, a hint of dark amusement making its way through his eyes, mouth quirking. But it’s still wrong, still not right, still not him. “I’ve known Draven for a long time. I know how he works. And he knows how I work, too.”
“Cass,” Jyn says, voice rising. “He’s using you. You left his team because you didn’t want to be black ops anymore, and he didn’t like that, he wanted to keep you, so he’s manipulating you now--”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Cassian snaps. “It isn’t manipulation. I know what I’m doing, and what he’s doing. It’s fine.”
“I want to do this, Jyn.”
She stares at him.
Cassian looks back, almost impassively, save for the fury she sees at the corner of his eyes, the fury she caught a glimpse of on the shuttle from Eadu.
It isn’t fury directed at her this time, but she still feels a pang of discomfort at it.
“He’s a monster, Jyn,” Cassian says. “He’s the worst of the Empire. He’s exactly what you and I are trying to destroy, he’s--” Cassian cuts off, shaking his head.
For a moment, she thinks she can see it.
She thinks she can see seventeen-year-old Cassian in Lemniscate, looking down at twenty bodies, overwhelmed by what he’d done, the Imperial officer who’d guided him into it standing at his side. She thinks she can picture Cassian’s closed-off expression, internally warring with himself, with what he’d done, with who he’d become.
But what will this do to Cassian, now, Cassian at twenty-nine years old, Cassian who no longer runs black ops missions, off-the-record executions, dirty fights in dark alleys?
Cassian, who has been a soldier for twenty-three years.
What will this murder do to him?
To actually want to kill someone like this, to be glad to do it? To be grateful for the opportunity?
Even if it’s justified? Will he come to regret it?
“Isn’t it more dangerous for you to be the one to do it?” She asks, grasping for something logical, something that Cassian may not be able to dismiss, like he could dismiss her fear for his mental health. “Gallamby probably remembers you. If he sees you, he’ll recognize you. You’re supposed to be dead.”
(Joreth Sward is dead.)
“If I’m careful, he won’t see me until I’m ready to kill him.”
Jyn almost rolls her eyes, because she can count on one hand the number of missions she’s been on that have gone according to plan like that.
Her leg, recently shot on Ord Mantell, aches.
“I know how to be undercover,” Cassian says, like he can read her mind. “I’ve never been caught.”
“You got caught on Jedha,” she retorts, thinking of Saw and the Partisans.
“But that worked out really well,” Cassian replies, and he’s not entirely wrong.
“Mm.” His lips twist, recognizing her point. He’d been caught three years ago by an old friend, someone who’d also known Joreth Sward. “Well, you won’t be with me this time. Maybe that’s the difference.”
He’s joking, and his tone is lighter now, but she dislikes this notion that she’s some kind of bad luck charm.
“I don’t like this,” she says, and by that she means all of this, the assassination, Cassian’s enthusiasm in doing it.
“You don’t have to,” Cassian replies, and though she’s sure he didn’t mean it that way, he still sounds patronizing.
“I wish…” She tries, and stops.
She wishes for a lot of things.
She wishes the war was over. She wishes her family was still alive. She wishes Rogue One had survived.
She wishes she and Cassian didn’t live in a house made of ice.
She wishes she could go home.
She wishes Cassian never had to kill anyone ever again.
For now, she wishes Cassian would stop looking at her like he is at the moment: defensive, but prideful.
“I just thought you should know,” he says, quietly. “I have a meeting in the morning, and then I’m leaving in a couple days. I’m not sure when I’ll be back.”
She sighs, running a hand over her face. So much for their five days together.
“No, I’m… I’m glad you told me.”
“But you’re not okay with what I’m going to do.”
“It’s not for the first time,” she mutters, even though she knows it’s the wrong thing to say.
Cassian stares up at her, and there is finally some true hurt in his expression.
But he only looks away, shaking his head.
“Let’s just go to sleep,” he says.
Jyn knows she should say something. She should apologize, she should tell Cassian that she’s still okay with him, that she understands why he feels like he needs to do this, even why it’s actually probably okay. She believes him when he calls Gallamby a monster, and she definitely understands his desire for revenge against the man.
But this feels like Cassian regressing, in a way, and she can’t just ignore that.
He’d been getting so much better.
(He hadn’t. Not really. Jyn will realize this in two years, at the Battle of Jakku.)
She wonders if this is how it starts, if this is her prediction coming true, if this is how Cassian begins to leave her.
(It’s not. Not really. Jyn will realize, seven years later on Fest, that there was no real start.)
She watches as he gets into his side of the bed, taking care to leave plenty of space for her on the other side. There’s something oddly mechanical in his movements, and she thinks of the way he withdraws into his own head when he writes his reports, of the way she’d called him a droid, on Eadu.
She can hear his furious voice in her head.
“What do you know?”
She closes her eyes.
She’s pretty sure that if there were other available, warm living quarters elsewhere in the base that one of them would have gone there for the night, if only to get away from the other, to give them some space.
But there is no such empty room.
There’s only this room, and this argument. And she thinks she’ll look back on this later and think it a stupid argument, but Jyn is too proud, too angry, and too frustrated to acknowledge that at the moment.
So for now, she sighs, and climbs into bed next to him.
She makes sure to leave a good foot of space between them, so they aren’t touching.
Cassian, eyes closed, doesn’t react to this.
Jyn turns on her side, and looks at the blank gray wall.
The bad feeling in her stomach has tightened up.
She feels worse than she has in months.
Jyn wakes early in the morning, to the noise of Cassian puttering around the room, getting dressed for his morning meeting.
She keeps her eyes closed, and her breathing even.
She knows she’s being petty, and childish, knows she should sit up and watch him, knows she should apologize, but she’s just so tired, tired of Cassian’s desperate urge to sacrifice, tired of him denying himself a better life, and tired of him refusing to believe her when she says he deserves it.
And she’s also a little hurt at his brusqueness, at his dismissiveness.
Still, it takes everything she has not to jump when the bed dips, as Cassian sits on the edge next to her.
He brushes his fingers through her loose hair, and if he knows she’s awake and feigning sleep, he doesn’t call her on it.
He only leans down, and presses a kiss to her forehead.
“Forgive me,” he whispers. “I’ll see you later. I love you.”
She keeps her eyes closed, and remains still.
She listens as he pulls on his jacket.
She hears the sound of the door opening, a short pause, and Jyn opens her eyes to slits, facing the doorway.
She can just see Cassian, half-turned to her, and she can tell that his right hand is clenched in a fist, can tell his jaw is tense, his posture stiff, but she doesn’t dare look at his face for fear he’ll see she’s awake.
She watches Cassian turn, and she listens to the noise of his boots stepping onto the ice in the hallway.
The door closes with a hiss behind him.
She rolls onto her back.
She stares at the gray ceiling.
Jyn walks into the mess hall that morning having not been able to fall asleep after Cassian left.
She knows she looks a special kind of horrible, but she just doesn’t have it in her to care.
Kes Dameron, however, can always be counted to comment on just about everything.
“You look terrible,” he says, in lieu of any other polite breakfast greeting.
Jyn responds to this greeting with a grunt, and steals his toast.
“Credit for your thoughts?” Kes asks.
“You couldn’t afford them,” Jyn replies.
“Cass have a last minute mission, or something?” he guesses.
Sometimes she regrets having friends who are able to understand her simply by watching her behavior, or scrutinizing her appearance. There are plenty of benefits of this--including the basic treat of having friends--but sometimes Jyn wonders if the pitying looks are really worth it.
“Something like that,” she mumbles, in response to Kes’ question.
“Mm. I’m sorry to hear that. I was hoping to see him before I left.”
That gets Jyn’s attention. She straightens out of her slouch, and stares at him.
“Where are you going?”
Kes is part of Jyn’s Pathfinders team, and she’s quite certain they don’t have any imminently upcoming missions. His emphasis on before I left makes her think it’s something else.
“Shara and I got time off to see Poe,” Kes says, beaming. “Her squadron’s over near Mandalore, but she’s meeting me on Sernpidal in a couple days. Poe’s there, with her dad. We’ve got almost three weeks with him. It’s our first time seeing him since the initial parental leave.”
And all of Jyn’s Cassian-related frustration and sadness melts away.
“Oh, Kes,” she says, smiling. “That’s great.”
Poe Dameron is almost eleven months old, Jyn knows. She’s met him exactly once, when he was four months old, almost astoundingly tiny with the biggest brown eyes. He perfectly encapsulates everything Jyn fights for in the war.
For a better future.
For families to stay together.
For children, like Poe Dameron.
“Yeah,” Kes agrees, grinning. “I’m headed out tomorrow.”
“You might be able to catch Cassian. He’s leaving in a couple days, I think.”
She sighs. “He had an early meeting this morning, and I can only assume it’s about this new… mission. He said he was leaving in a couple days, but…”
But Cassian has been known to have to leave quickly, with very little warning.
She thinks this is even more likely than normal, since he’ll have to catch several different transports to get to Empress Teta, a Core World, deep in the heart of Imperial territory, a place no Alliance ship would ever dare go.
Kes looks sympathetic, and Jyn is uncomfortable.
“But it’s fine,” she finishes, because she doesn’t want Kes to feel like he needs to cheer her up.
“Uh huh,” Kes says, sounding entirely unconvinced, and he opens his mouth to probably tell her as much but is interrupted by a loud siren.
Everyone in the mess hall quiets immediately, and looks up at the ice-covered ceiling, as if there will be an explanation there.
A second later, General Rieekan’s voice calls over the intercom system:
“Imperial invasion imminent. All soldiers to their stations. Prepare for evacuation.”
Jyn’s heart stops.
There is only one moment of complete silence.
And then, almost as a single being, everyone in the mess hall gets to their feet, and begins to move.
Kes and Jyn exchange a quick look and then begin to run, abandoning their food, sprinting for the door leading to the south wing of the base, where they’ve been told to go should an emergency like this occur.
As Jyn runs, darting around similarly sprinting soldiers, her mind trips over the reality of the situation.
Imperial invasion imminent.
The worst thing. The worst possible thing.
Because, as horrible as it may be, as much as Jyn hates it, Hoth has become something like home. It’s a place where she lives, where she has a room and a bed, where she has friends, a roof over her head, food, warmth--
A place where she has Cassian.
Cassian, who is somewhere around Echo Base.
She doesn’t know what his orders are to do in this kind of situation.
And she has no time to stop and find out.
She and Kes reach the south wing, and find General Madine surrounded by about thirty soldiers, all Pathfinders from various units, all ready for orders.
Madine looks grim, his frown visible under his thick beard, eyeing the soldiers around him with a steely look in his eye, and Jyn can almost picture him as the Imperial officer he used to be. Almost.
“What’s happening, sir?” One of the soldiers, a Twi’lek Jyn doesn’t know, asks.
“Imperial invasion,” Madine replies, as if they aren’t aware of this already. “The Empire’s got a lock on us, and we’re certain they’re headed this way. Our orders are to defend the base for as long as we can, while the bigger transports take off, escorted by whatever pilots we have.”
“How are we defending, sir?” Someone else asks.
“Ground assault,” Madine says. “The Empire will run one, to take out our energy shield, and the ion cannon that’ll get the transports through the Star Destroyers; they’ll likely target the power generator. It’s our job to guard the generator, the shield, and the cannon for as long as possible, to give as many rebels a chance to evacuate as we can.”
“When do we evacuate, sir?” Another soldier asks, and Jyn is glad she did not have to voice this question.
“After the shield and the cannons go down,” Madine says. “And they’ll both go down if the Empire manages to destroy the power generator. If that happens, there’s nothing stopping their ships from landing right on top of us. And we should assume that is less of an if and more of a when .” Madine pauses, and looks around his assembled soldiers, and adds, “Make no mistake; this is not an assault. This is an evacuation.”
Jyn can practically feel Kes’ nervous energy at her side.
She forces her breathing to remain even, her chin lifted, ignoring the growing wave of panic in her. There is simply no time for that, not now.
Not when she has a battle to fight, a home to defend.
A home that she’s going to lose, no matter what.
(It isn’t the first time. It isn’t the last time.)
Madine tells them he’s one of two generals remaining behind to coordinate the assault; the other general is from Intelligence, General Draven.
Jyn instantly knows which general she’s going to be assigned to. It’s just her luck.
Kes takes their team’s assignment to Draven in stride, though she can see him frowning, and she remembers that Kes has been Cassian’s friend for longer than she has even known Cassian, that Kes probably remembers that Cassian used to work directly under Draven, that he abruptly left his team after Scarif, after Jyn. She wonders how much Kes knows about Cassian’s past work, if he’s guessed why Cassian left Draven’s unit.
Madine looks at them all, and nods once.
“May the force be with you,” he says, and Jyn remembers why she likes this general so much.
She catches Kes’ wrist, and yanks him with her, following their half of the Pathfinders to the coat room, to bundle up in white, to blend in with the snow outside.
Kes tries to catch her eye as they throw on heavy white coats, reaching for gray helmets and thick goggles.
She does her best to ignore him.
Kes allows it.
Draven comes stomping into the room, already dressed for the ground assault, a heavy transmitter at his hip.
He surveys the soldiers, his eyes catching on Jyn for a moment, before darting away.
Madine is a man of few words, but Draven seems determined to offer even less. He only nods, and announces, “Let’s go.”
They shuffle out to the ice plateau outside the base.
It’s almost shockingly quiet. Jyn had expected more noise, more battle, but Hoth looks the same as always; desolate, and so, so white. She can hear the noise of transports firing up in the hangars around base, and more distantly, the rumble of various announcements, of soldiers yelling to one another, of pilots scrambling for their ships. But beyond the base, it’s entirely silent, and the sky is empty, save for a handful of clouds.
She doesn’t like this silence.
Not when she’s ready for battle, which is so loud.
There are other squads of soldiers already outside, lining the base, lingering in the tunnels the rebels had long ago dug out around it. They pass guns and ammunition to one another, while some stand with quadnocs, peering through them at the distant mountains.
Jyn doesn’t know what they’re looking for.
She shadows Kes into a trench, Draven a little ways ahead of them, looking at the far mountains.
The first transport suddenly takes off behind them, a couple of x-wings accompanying it, the sound of the shield whirring down barely audible over their noise. A minute later and the ground shakes, as the ion cannon fires, sending bolts of light towards the sky, towards dark space above them, and Jyn realizes that Imperial Star Destroyers must already be there, waiting outside the atmosphere, waiting behind the shield.
The shield swiftly whirs back to life, to the announcement that the first transport has successfully gotten away.
The rebels around Jyn all cheer, Kes whistling through his teeth, but they quiet down quickly enough, and turn back to the open plateau ahead of them.
The plateau that is, suddenly, not empty at all.
There are a handful of dark specks in the distance, slowly growing larger. Transports of some kind.
“What are they?” Jyn asks, turning to Kes, who’s frowning.
“Too slow to be airborne,” says the voice on Jyn’s other side. She recognizes the soldier under the heavy hood and goggles as Tamryn, a fellow Pathfinder from her and Kes’ squad.
Draven’s voice comes to them: “Be prepared to fire!”
And though Jyn has no idea what they’re firing at, she moves automatically, resting her blaster on the hard snowbank in front of her, Kes and Tamryn doing the same.
“Aw, kriff,” grunts another voice, and Jyn lets her attention be diverted, turning to see Blith, a newer member of her and Kes’ squad, having come to them from Engineering. “It’s a kriffin’ Walker.”
“Not just one! I count like five--”
“You can’t count for sithspit, there’s at least seven--”
A handful of soldiers bicker about the count, while the rest simply nod, expressions clearing somewhat, satisfied by Blith’s exclamation.
Jyn has seen an Imperial Walker before, though it’s been a while. Her experiences with Walkers have been due to the Empire needing to patrol or guard something; using them now, in an assault, is unexpected. She’s pretty sure that was intentional.
She’a also quite certain the rebel soldiers are too far away to inflict any real damage.
As soon as she thinks this, the Walkers begin to fire.
Heavy bolts of red light fly from the tall gray Walkers, smashing into the snow around the trenches, upending chunks of ice, upending bins of blasters, upending rebels themselves. Jyn can hear soldiers shouting around her, can even pick out Draven’s voice, but she can barely hear individual words over the sound of the attack, the ice pelting her face.
“Could use some air support,” Kes grunts.
As if they’ve been summoned by Kes himself, a handful of T-47 airspeeders zoom over the rebels and the base, heading straight towards the Walkers. These T-47 airspeeders have been modified, now having the ability to fly low to the snow, to attack the Walkers directly.
Jyn recognizes the symbol on one of the snowspeeders as it flies over her head.
It’s Rogue Squadron.
A dizzying wave of hope roars through her chest.
“It’s… It’s Rogue. Rogue One.”
She doesn’t have time to deal with her feelings.
She turns back to the Walkers, and starts to return fire as best as she can.
But they’re outgunned. The Walkers’ shells are impervious to their fire, and the ground soldiers are taking heavy losses. The snowspeeders aren’t doing much better either, being shot down with a terrifyingly rapid precision, barely making a dent on the Walkers.
Jyn can practically see the fear, thick in the air around her, as thick as the smoke and blaster fire. The fear that they will all die here, the fear that this is all for nothing.
There are Alliance transports taking off behind them, one every couple of minutes, but distant bangs from above, and falling shrapnel and metal, tells them that not every transport is making the jump to lightspeed.
There is some hope, when the snowspeeders figure out they can use cables to bring down the Walkers.
But it’s not enough, and it’s too late.
Dimly, Jyn registers the call that remaining ground staff be evacuated.
Multiple transports start taking off, and this tells Jyn that the Empire is really about to literally land on top of Echo Base.
The Walkers are nearly in range of the power generator.
She can hear soldiers running around her, and she knows this means that some squads have been told to evacuate even before the Walkers reach the power generator. She knows this means that they’re out of hope. That they’re out of time.
She realizes the ache in her gut, the bad feeling she’s had for months, that fear, has left her stomach.
The fear is all through her body now.
Kes touches her shoulder. “We’re gonna have to--”
But whatever he’d been about to tell her is cut short, as the snowbank directly in front of them is hit by a blast from a Walker, and they’re tossed out of their trench, thrown into the air.
Jyn lands with a huff, spitting ice from her mouth.
She scrambles to her surely-bruised knees, and yanks off her helmet, shoving her bangs from her eyes.
She can’t see Kes anywhere.
“Kes? ” She yells, her fear amplifying. “Kes? KES!”
Slowly, a hand waves at her, from under a pile of white snow sprinkled with red.
Jyn scrambles over the snow and ice, skidding to the pile, and begins digging, ignoring the fact she’s lost one of her gloves, ignoring the spikes of pain that wrap around her fingers, ignoring the early frostbite.
She uncovers Kes’ face, and sees he’s bleeding from a head wound.
“Oh, kriff, Kes,” she gasps, sweeping snow off his chest and arms.
“How bad is it?” Kes asks, and he’s slurring a little, which should tell him how bad it is.
“A concussion at the very least,” Jyn replies. “Can you feel your arms? Your legs?”
“I’m in a p-pile of snow, Erso, what d-do you expect--”
But he can wiggle his right boot, and that’s good enough for now.
“I have to get you out of here,” Jyn says, and she looks around. There are no medics in sight, which makes sense; medics are some of the first people you want to evacuate when the war is knocking on your front door. Her only hope is to flag down a rebel or two to cart Kes to one of the remaining transports.
“Not leaving you, Jyn,” Kes grunts.
“Oh yes you are,” Jyn snaps.
From seemingly out of nowhere, Blith appears at Jyn’s side, his eyes wild.
“What do we got here, Dameron?” he asks.
“Get him to a transport,” Jyn says, and Blith frowns.
“Sergeant--” Blith tries, but Jyn interrupts him.
“I’m your superior officer,” Jyn hisses, and technically, this is true, as Blith is only a Private. “I’m ordering you to take Sergeant Dameron to the nearest transport, and get him the hell away from here.”
“Erso--” Kes groans, but Jyn turns to him, grabbing his face in her hands.
“You have a son, Kes,” she says, voice soft, and Kes blinks at her. “And you haven’t seen him, or your wife, in weeks. And you are not going to die on this stupid planet, Kes. Not today. Got it?”
Kes frowns, but she can see the pain in his eyes, pain from his wounds, and pain at the truth of Jyn’s words. “Jyn, c’mon--”
“Nope.” Jyn turns back to Blith. “Get going, Private.”
Blith nods, resolute. “Yes, Sergeant.”
Carefully, Jyn helps Blith pull Kes to his feet, tugging Kes’ arm over Blith’s shoulders. Kes still looks a little torn, but Jyn keeps her chin raised, her eyes fierce, and for once, he doesn’t argue with her.
“Jyn,” Kes says, and pauses. “May the force be with you.”
Maybe friendship is worth it, after all.
“Give Shara and Poe my love,” she says, and then she turns around quickly, diving back into her trench, as Blith calls another evacuating rebel over, the two of them carrying Kes back towards the base.
There are only a few soldiers, still fighting, left in the trench.
Mostly, there are bodies.
Tamryn’s eyes stare unblinkingly at the soft blue sky.
She makes a reminder to feel the grief at a later date.
AT-ST Walkers have now begun to converge on the soldiers, and these are smaller than the Walkers, and Jyn can actually take some of them out. She focuses her fire on one approaching one of their few remaining cannons, and feels a small burst of satisfaction when it topples.
She hears one of the rebel officers announce that they’ve received an evacuation code signal. Imperial troops have gotten into Echo Base. Every rebel is to flee.
Jyn straightens, and loses her breath at the sight of an Imperial soldier, dressed head to toe in strange white armor, right in front of her, blaster pointed at her face.
She doesn’t have time to react before the soldier is falling, killed by rebel fire.
Jyn turns, and comes face to face with, of all people, Draven.
His DL-44 is aloft, and it’s clear he’s just saved her life.
“What are you still doing here?” He hisses, eyes wide.
“Holding the line, sir,” Jyn says, doing her best to sound respectful and not plain surprised.
She can’t believe he’s still here. That he hasn’t evacuated yet.
“There is no line left to hold, Sergeant Erso,” Draven snaps, and he isn’t wrong. “Go back to base, find a transport, and evacuate.”
“What about you, sir?”
Draven blinks at her. “What?”
“Are you evacuating too?”
Draven gawks at her, and Jyn thinks she’s never seen him stunned like this. She understands that he’d expected her to quickly agree to his order to evacuate, to leave him and run back to Echo Base to get on a last minute transport.
But that just isn’t how Jyn works.
She doesn’t like abandoning people.
Even people she has several issues with, like Draven. Even with immediate, pressing issues, like Cassian’s upcoming mission.
“Forgive me,” he whispers. “I’ll see you later. I love you.”
She doesn’t know where he is, if he’s evacuated Hoth yet, if he’s even still alive.
She keeps her eyes on Draven.
“If you aren’t evacuating, sir,” Jyn says, “Then I’d like to stay here, and help.”
She knows it’s probably a bad idea. That she should take the offer of escape, and go now, while she can, what with Imperial forces invading Echo Base itself.
That she should find Cassian.
But she knows her place. And she knows what she has to do. She knows what the right thing to do is, and that’s stay here, on the front lines, and hold off the Empire for as long as she can, to give other rebels a chance to escape.
Jyn is just one soldier.
The Alliance needs so many, to survive.
(And, sometimes, Jyn thinks she should’ve died three years ago. On Scarif. Sometimes, she thinks she should already be dead.)
“You continue to surprise me, Jyn Erso,” Draven says, that shock still thick in his voice.
“Yes sir,” Jyn says, and she sounds sarcastic, but she isn’t. She just can’t help it around Draven, apparently.
Draven nods, and then they throw themselves into the melee.
They find a squad of stormtroopers, and they take them out. Jyn has never seen Draven in a battle before, and she knows she shouldn’t be surprised at his skill, but she still is. She thinks she forgets that all of the generals were once soldiers, whether in early rebellions at the beginning of the Civil War, or soldiers in the Clone Wars, with the Separatists or the Old Republic. And she knows Cassian first met Draven on Corellia, when Draven was running a rebellion in the capital city of Coronet, and she knows that means Draven likely fought in the streets, in back alleys and dark roads, and she knows this means he’s a good, clever fighter.
But seeing this history in action is something else.
She’s surprised, but gratified, to find they work well together.
They share similar instincts, and she isn’t sure if it’s an Alliance thing or simply a longtime soldier thing, but they complement each other. Jyn hits the ice so Draven can shoot a stormtrooper behind her, and Draven dives behind a snowdrift so Jyn can attack an AT-ST. They move quickly, only occasionally snapping at the other an instruction, but otherwise in silence.
But there are far too many Imperials.
Jyn knows they’re in trouble; they’re seeing fewer and fewer rebels, and more and more Imperial insignia marked soldiers, and she knows this is not a good sign, but evidence that they really are some of the last rebels left on Hoth.
“We should go,” she yells to Draven, as yet another y-wing takes off over their heads.
They’ve fallen back quite a bit, and Jyn can see Echo Base, the near-empty hangar, a small plethora of soldiers and droids gathered. There are several smoke towers curling around the building, and Jyn knows the Alliance has destroyed all the data drives they could, to cover their tracks, knowing the Empire would immediately dig through Alliance files for information.
“You’re welcome to leave, Erso,” Draven snaps, and Jyn’s pride takes this as a challenge, so she grits her teeth, and doubles her efforts.
They’re forced inside the base, and Jyn knows this means they’ve lost, that there’s virtually nothing left in the base to protect, that they can only hope enough senior Alliance leaders have left (like Madine, and Cracken, and Princess Leia) that their efforts have been worthwhile.
They reach a command center, and Jyn can see that the majority of the data towers and star maps have been smashed into pieces, rendering their storage drives useless, and the room is entirely empty, save for a lone figure crouched near a cabinet, rifling through it. The figure is wearing a heavy white parka, the hood pulled up, and it’s impossible for Jyn to tell if it’s a friend or foe.
Jyn raises her blaster.
“Turn around, hands up.”
The figure freezes.
Slowly, they raise their arms, and move to a standing position. A moment passes, and then the person turns around.
And it’s Cassian.
Cassian stares right back.
He’s alive, Jyn thinks. He’s still here.
Going by Cassian’s expression, he’s thinking something similar about her.
Draven exclaims, “Andor? ”
“Yes, sir,” Cassian says, but his eyes are still on Jyn.
Jyn remembers she’s still pointing a blaster at Cassian, and she lowers it. Cassian drops his arms.
“What the kriff are you doing here?” Draven asks, barely managing to keep his voice down.
“General Cracken needed someone to stay behind, sir, and destroy everything in this room,” Cassian replies, and he finally looks away from Jyn, turning to Draven instead.
Jyn blinks, reviews her mental map of Echo Base, and realizes they’re in the wing of the base Intelligence operates out of.
“Where’s his second, his deputy?” Draven demands. “Where’s Bostich--”
“Off-planet, on a mission, sir,” Cassian answers. “I volunteered to destroy the records.”
Jyn is entirely unsurprised by this act of sacrifice on Cassian’s part.
As it is, she has no legs to stand on regarding self-sacrifice; she’s still on Hoth, too, despite all orders to evacuate.
“You shouldn’t have done that,” Draven snaps. “I told you to evacuate. You have a mission, too, Andor.”
Cassian’s eyes widen, signaling his surprise.
“I thought… With the attack, the evacuation, I thought--”
“Orders still stand,” Draven interjects, and Cassian actually flinches, and Jyn has no idea why he would respond to a simple statement so violently.
“We’ve lost Echo Base,” Draven continues. “And the Alliance will be squandered for quite some time, likely months. The Empire will now be at its most confident, the most confident it’s been since the unveiling of the Death Star. It won’t be expecting any attacks while the Alliance is recuperating. This is a perfect time for a quiet murder on Empress Teta. So, yes, Andor; I want you to complete your mission.”
“Yes, sir,” Cassian says, and he’s standing straighter now, that passive mask pulled over his face, and Jyn might as well not be in the room.
“There was a reason I ordered you to evacuate,” Draven hisses, glaring at Cassian, and Jyn isn’t sure she’s ever seen Draven so furious before, even including her first day on Yavin 4, her interrogation at his and Mon Mothma’s hands. “It is imperative that you survive and escape, Andor, so Alliance Intelligence can continue to operate smoothly should I not survive.”
There’s a short silence, broken only by the noise of distant blaster fire and bombs, while both Cassian and Jyn stare at Draven.
“What?” Cassian asks, and Jyn knows he’s surprised because he doesn’t honor Draven with a formal title.
“You aren’t my second,” Draven says, slowly, like the words are being dragged out of him. “As much as it pains me, as much as I think it is a poor choice. The point is, you are essential to the survival of Alliance Intelligence, Andor. There are very few better than you. The Alliance needs you.”
Jyn doesn’t know for sure, but she’d guess that this is the kindest, most caring thing Draven has ever said to Cassian.
Cassian has a torn expression on his face, just hidden beneath the mask.
“No time,” Draven interrupts. “You’re here. Let’s destroy what we can.”
They get to work, throwing themselves into it, literally throwing recorders and maps across the room, smashing expensive pieces of technology into the ice, making sure nothing is recoverable.
And Jyn has so many things to say to Cassian, and she wants to touch him so badly, but she knows she can’t, not with Draven in the room, with Draven sporadically turning to frown at Cassian, like he can’t believe he’s there.
Jyn can relate to Draven on this; she can’t believe Cassian is still here, either.
Cassian walks over to her, to help her topple a tower of storage drives.
“Why are you still here?” He hisses, voice barely audible over the sound of Draven attacking hologram projectors with, of all things, a hatchet. “The call for all soldiers to evacuate went out ages ago--”
“Draven insisted on staying behind,” Jyn replies, putting all her weight into shoving a projector into an alcove of ice. “And he’s my superior officer for today, and I don’t like leaving my leaders behind.”
She looks at Cassian as she says this, and she thinks she can almost see the soft sand of Scarif reflected in his eyes.
When she could’ve left him, her superior officer, and didn’t.
Now he nods, and swallows, and wraps his gloved hand around her bare wrist for a heartbeat or two.
It isn’t enough, but it has to be.
Their work is interrupted by a rebel soldier, tears streaming down his face, clearly on the brink of a breakdown, who comes sprinting into the command center from a side hallway, nearly knocking Draven to the floor.
Draven manages to catch the soldier by the elbow.
“What is it?” He demands, eyes flickering to catch the soldier’s rank of Private.
The soldier blubbers for a minute, and Jyn feels dread curdle in her stomach, as cold as the ice of Hoth, as cold as space itself. Cassian is frozen at her side.
“V-Vader,” the rebel stutters, and breaks down into loud sobs.
Jyn stares at the soldier, while Draven and Cassian look at each other.
There are no words to describe this horror.
“We have to go,” Jyn presses, and she moves instinctively, her hand reaching for Cassian, and succeeding in grabbing his sleeve. “We can’t go that way. We have to go back to the hangar.”
Draven releases the soldier’s arm, and he runs past them, to the hangar they also need to go to. Draven looks even tenser than normal.
“You’re right,” he agrees.
Jyn turns, and begins to lead the way, but she only makes it two steps before she hears multiple sets of running feet, and then all the breath is knocked out of her, as Cassian all but jumps on top of her, tackling her to the ground as a jet of red light flies over them, where her head had been moments before.
She lands hard on the ice, gasping, Cassian’s breath on the back of her neck. He gets up quickly, yanking her to her feet, and she twists around to look behind them, following the sound of blasters, and heavy boots sinking into snow.
There are three of those strange white armor-clad Imperial soldiers, blasters raised and firing, and Cassian is already firing back at them, and Jyn only returns fire for a moment before she sees a flash of black behind the Imperial soldiers--
“Run!” She screams, because she knows what that means, that there’s only one Imperial who would wear black on a white snow planet.
He’d wear black because he has no reason to hide.
Because he’s more powerful than anyone else.
She knows Draven has also realized who’s thirty yards away from them, because he swears, and backs up towards Jyn and Cassian, still firing at the incoming squad. Jyn seizes Cassian’s wrist.
“Let’s go, let’s go--”
She gets him to jog, and then she turns and runs, her boots stepping in the snow, leaping over upturned data towers, jumping over fallen lights, blocks of ice, and then she hears a loud yell behind her, and gets her arm jerked when Cassian turns around, pulling her with him.
Draven is on the floor, lying in the ice, and there’s bright red blood on the snow around him, and she sees he’s bleeding from his leg, and she flashes back to Ord Mantell, to the Casino, to being prone on the floor, shot by a blaster, Imperials on her tail, nowhere to go--
She hears Cassian’s soft exhale, as he begins to move back to Draven, Jyn’s hold on his wrist the only thing preventing him from running back to his mentor.
And she knows there is only one thing to be done.
And Draven knows it, too.
Draven lifts his blaster, and Jyn realizes that she and Cassian are just in front of a doorway, that one perfectly aimed blaster shot will hit the control panel and slam the door closed, and lock it, as the base was designed to do as a last resort security measure.
Jyn meets Draven’s eyes.
She nods, to show she understands.
There is only determination in the general’s eyes. No fear. No hesitation.
If they were other people, he might have more elegant last words, but he doesn’t. Not for Jyn Erso, at least; their priorities matching, for once, is more than enough of a farewell.
And she thinks there is no time for him to offer Cassian any last words.
“Now,” Draven yells, and Jyn moves.
She drops Cassian’s wrist, and instead wraps both her arms around his waist, and she lets herself fall, falling backward, bending her knees to push her feet against the ice floor, so when she and Cassian fall they fall sideways, through the open doorway.
Cassian makes no noise, but he does scrabble for balance, managing to avoid landing on Jyn by twisting at the last minute, to land beside her instead.
On the other side of the doorway, as Jyn and Draven wanted.
Draven only waits long enough for Cassian’s boots to clear the doorway, and then he shoots.
And because he’s General Davits Draven, because he’s a lifelong soldier, because he was Cassian’s mentor, because he’s Rebel Intelligence, his aim is true, and he hits the control panel.
The door slams closed.
Jyn and Cassian on one side.
Draven, a half a dozen Imperial guards, and Vader himself on the other.
But Jyn knows what Draven will do next. What Intelligence soldiers and officers are trained to do when capture is inevitable.
She waits, until she hears a second, identical DL-44 blaster shot, and then she closes her eyes.
“No,” Cassian whispers.
He gets up, and he presses his hands to the solidly closed white door, and Jyn can see the shock in his face, but he doesn’t try to force the door open, doesn’t slam his fists against it.
He only sits there, on his knees, palms to the white door, and stares.
“We have to go,” Jyn says, because there is no time to pause, no time to mourn.
She gets to her feet, and wraps her arms around one of Cassian’s, and tugs until he staggers to his feet.
He stumbles for the first steps away from the door before the adrenaline overwhelms the shock, and he can run again.
Draven has ensured that no one chases them, and so Jyn and Cassian sprint through what is left of Echo Base, dodging errant wires of sparking electricity, clawing their way through collapsed ceilings of snow, pushing themselves forward, running from the loss of the base, of the trenches outside, of the Alliance general behind them, until they reach the main hangar.
There are only about a dozen Alliance personnel there, and Jyn and Cassian run to the one who looks most likely to be in charge, a grizzled woman with graying hair.
“We need a transport,” Jyn says, without preamble, panting.
And Jyn knows they’ve chosen right, that this woman is a leader and a veteran, because she doesn’t waste time demanding to know why they’ve missed the forty or so transports that have already left.
She only looks them up and down once, and says, quite calmly, “Oh, good. There’s two of you.”
“Well, I’ve got a pretty good starfighter over here that I’m really eager to get off this rock before I have to leave.”
She turns, and points behind her, and Jyn is suddenly furious.
It’s a UT-60D U-wing starfighter.
It is the same model as the ship she, Cassian, and K-2SO flew to Jedha. It is the same model as the ship they fled Jedha on, with Chirrut, Baze, and Bodhi. It is the same model as the ship that crash-landed on Eadu.
She opens her mouth, to demand a different ship, but Cassian speaks before she can.
“It’s great, we’ll take it.”
He grabs her wrist, and begins tugging her to the starfighter.
“Are you joking?” Jyn hisses, though still moving quickly next to him. “We can’t take this ship--”
“Because it’s, it’s this ship--”
“It’s this one, or we fly separately,” Cassian snaps. “Look around. There are only x-wings and a-wings left in this hangar, and I don’t think you want to fly on your own right now.”
And he’s right.
Jyn can pilot; Cassian taught her how to, three years ago, after she let slip that she’d never learned. He’d been horrified, and had insisted he would teach her, because he firmly believed that every rebel should know how to fly.
“It means you always have a way to escape.”
She’d believed him then, and she sees the truth of his words in action now.
But she hasn’t had a lot of experience flying, and she thinks she doesn’t want to do it with an Imperial fleet waiting for her overhead.
“Fine,” Jyn says, and they get on the starfighter.
She hasn’t been on this type of ship in three years, but as soon as she straightens in the main cabin, she feels like she never got off.
Because Cassian is there, yanking his parka off, and dropping it to the floor, and diving into the pilot’s chair. Because the communications tower is right there, humming away, headphones ready for use. Because the long side window is there, clean and clear, a cold planet just outside.
She closes the door behind her, and then she clambers into the co-pilot’s seat.
Cassian glances at her, and if it’s strange for him to see her there instead of K-2SO, he tactfully does not comment.
There’s a sudden sharp rapping on the side of the ship, and they still.
The woman from the hangar calls, “I got one more for you.”
Cassian nods, and jerks his head to the door, and Jyn gets back up out of her seat. She walks back to the cabin, and pulls the ship door open.
The woman from the hangar is there, a small red astromech droid at her side.
“Take this with you,” she says. “Its pilot was killed in the battle, and I’d like the Alliance to have as many droids as it can.”
“Sure,” Jyn says, and helps the woman hoist the droid in.
The woman waves, and Jyn slams the door closed.
“What’s your name?” Jyn asks.
The droid beeps at her: R2-K2.
Jyn had thought she’d had her fill of shock for one day, but evidently not.
In another UT-60D U-wing starfighter, in another life, a droid introduced itself to her as K-2SO.
Dimly, from the cockpit, she hears Cassian laugh.
At least someone finds this repeating of the past hilarious, and not somewhat horrifying.
“Of course that’s your name,” Jyn grumbles to the droid.
She turns away, returning to the front of the ship, climbing back into the co-pilot’s seat. The droid follows her, beeping its aggravations, steadily expressing disappointment that its pilot has likely been killed in the battle on Hoth.
“Who was your pilot?” Cassian asks, and Jyn thinks he looks far too amused at the situation.
Dak Ralter, says R2-K2.
Jyn thinks she should’ve seen that coming.
This might as well happen, she thinks.
“You were with Rogue Squadron,” Cassian notes. He sounds less amused now, but still remarkably calm.
Yes. We were Rogue Seven. Who are you?
“Not supposed to be here,” Jyn grumbles. “Cassian, let’s go.”
(They really are not supposed to be here. They are not meant to be here.)
“Here we go,” Cassian says, and she follows his directions, and the ship takes off.
She doesn’t look out the window, to get a last glimpse of Echo Base in flames, to catch a last sighting of Hoth, all white snow and clear ice. She has to focus on flying, on making it through the atmosphere, of darting past the Star Destroyers still lingering above the planet.
There are fewer than she’d expected, which tells her the bigger Alliance transports stopped taking off long ago.
A couple of TIE fighters converge on them, and Jyn allows herself a moment of panic, because they need to make the jump to lightspeed to get away, but she doesn’t know where they’re supposed to go.
The Pathfinders had a meeting point, she knows, but she never heard where it was, exactly. She didn’t think she’d need to know; she’d assumed she’d get on a transport and be taken there, with her squad.
But she isn’t with her squad.
She’s with Cassian.
“Cass,” she says, quietly, and Cassian can only hear her due to the headsets. “Where are we going?”
“This ship has pre-programmed coordinates,” Cassian replies, still staggeringly cool and collected, even with Star Destroyers so near. “Eriadu will be one of them. Point us there.”
Jyn nods, and finds the coordinates for the Eriadu System, as a TIE fighter screeches over their heads.
Cassian pushes the throttle.
The U-wing leaps forward, and the stars lengthen into long stripes of light.
There’s a whoosh, and then the TIE fighters are gone, and the Star Destroyers, and Hoth itself.
It’s just her, Cassian, R2-K2, and the stars.
“Good,” Cassian whispers. He looks at her, and smiles. “That was very good.”
Jyn makes a noise that’s halfway between a laugh and a sob, and leans back in her seat, burying her face in her hands.
“Forgive me,” he whispers. “I’ll see you later. I love you.”
But she didn’t apologize to him. She didn’t forgive him.
Those could’ve been the last words he ever said to her, the last time she ever saw him, and she didn’t tell him that she loves him.
Where are we going? R2-K2 asks.
“Eriadu,” Cassian replies, and she hears him getting up, the ship safely cruising at hyperspeed. “There’s an Alliance outpost there. They can help us get what we need, and then I will go to Empress Teta.”
As R2-K2 lets out a very indignant squawk of beeps, Jyn pulls her face out of her hands, and twists in her seat, to look at Cassian.
He stares back at her, steady.
“I have a mission,” he says, and she sees the determination in his face.
It is not unlike the look Draven died wearing.
“I know,” Jyn says, and she does.
For the first time, she thinks she really understands Cassian.
Why he feels like he must do the awful things he does.
Draven is dead. Tamryn is dead. Dak Ralter is dead. Kes is injured. Echo Base is lost.
Their home, gone, again.
For the first time, she thinks she wants to join Cassian in his work, wants to help him accomplish it.
She isn’t quite feeling an urge to avenge; but she is feeling an urge to accomplish something, to do something to make the dead proud.
This is a way to start.
“I’m going with you,” she says.
Cassian only looks at her.
And then a small smile crosses his face, and she knows he’s seen her words for what they are.
Forgiveness. And an apology.
“Okay,” he says.
He looks around the starfighter for a moment, and then he shrugs, turning back to Jyn. “The last time we were on one of these… It wasn’t all terrible.”
She grins, and she knows he’s referring to his somewhat poorly chosen words the day before, when he remarked he seemed to always get caught when he was working with her, and that this is also a kind of apology. “No, it wasn’t.”
Wait, am I going to Empress Teta?
“Probably not,” Cassian says, answering R2-K2’s question. “But maybe you can help us get in touch with the Alliance, when we’re on Eriadu.”
Communication systems will likely be down. Because the Alliance is in lockdown.
“Ah,” Cassian says, unsurprised.
Because of the invasion, R2-K2 adds, as if Jyn and Cassian would not be aware of the invasion, or this being the reason the Alliance is in lockdown.
“Yeah, got that,” Cassian sighs.
I will try to make contact as soon as possible, R2-K2 says. I ask again: who are you?
“I’m Captain Cassian Andor,” Cassian says. “I’m in Rebel Intelligence. And I’m with Sergeant Jyn Erso, from the Pathfinders.”
Okay, R2-K2 says, and if astromech droids could sound annoyed Jyn thinks this one would. But what is your callsign? I have orders not to communicate real names over distant channels. The Empire could be listening. How do I tell the Alliance who you are?
“We don’t have a callsign,” Jyn says. “We aren’t pilots.”
R2-K2 issues a long string of binary that Jyn can't translate, and she takes this to mean it’s likely a string of swear words and insults, and she almost smiles, because it reminds her so much of K-2SO, a droid she hasn’t thought about in years.
And at once, she’s struck by inspiration.
Followed immediately by guilt.
No one’s using it, she thinks to herself.
And there’s a reason for that, she argues back.
She looks up, and Cassian is watching her, clearly thoughtful, and she expects he’s thinking the same thing she is.
We need a call sign, R2-K2 insists. I will use Rogue Seven, that was Dak’s call sign--
“It isn’t ours,” Jyn says. “I don’t want them to think he somehow survived.”
Well you don’t have one--
“We do,” Cassian says, softly, his eyes locked on Jyn.
Jyn closes her eyes.
They won’t mind, she tells herself. They aren’t around to mind. And if they were; maybe they would be okay with it.
This might be how they tell the Alliance that Cassian Andor and Jyn Erso are still alive, and Jyn thinks that’s fitting.
She opens her eyes, and looks at Cassian, and he accurately reads her decision in them.
“When you get in touch with the Alliance,” Cassian tells R2-K2, “Tell them it’s Rogue One.”
There is no Rogue One, R2-K2 says.
(There is no Rogue One.)
“There used to be,” Jyn murmurs. “And we’re the only two survivors of the squad that was Rogue One. It’s the only call sign we’ve ever had. The Alliance… They’ll know it’s us.”
They’ll know it’s her and Cassian.
They are the only two people in the galaxy who would dare use this call sign.
It’s as good an identity as anything.
Rogue One, R2-K2 says. Fine.
Jyn breathes, and settles back in the seat, blinking at the bright stars before them.
She’s suddenly very tired.
She remembers Draven’s fearless expression.
She remembers Tamryn’s dead eyes.
She remembers Kes’ pain.
She remembers the Walkers in the distance, creeping closer.
Echo Base, in smoke.
Snow and ice, everywhere.
Cassian’s back, his boots stepping into the hallway.
“Forgive me,” he whispers. “I’ll see you later. I love you.”
She looks up at Cassian, alive in front of her now.
She thinks again of what she hadn’t said to him when he’d left their room that morning.
“I love you,” she says now.
Cassian smiles, a bit of light returning to his face, the weariness of resurrecting the Rogue One name, the loss of Draven, the destruction of Echo Base, all falling away for a moment.
He reaches forward and takes her hand, and it’s the first time she’s felt his skin on hers since he kissed her forehead that morning.
“I love you, too,” he says, as easy as anything.
R2-K2 whirs behind him.
I’ll power down now, if that’s all right with you.
“Of course,” Cassian says, and waits until all of R2-K2’s lights have gone out before adding to Jyn, “Do you think droids can be reincarnated?”
And Jyn laughs, loudly, and her laugh echoes around the small ship.
“K-2SO would come back to haunt me,” she says, and Cassian laughs too.
He steps closer to her, and though Jyn doesn’t get up from the co-pilot’s chair, she leans forward, wrapping her arms around Cassian’s waist, pressing her face into his chest.
“This has been… a long, strange day,” he says. “And I, I just…”
The losses of the day are beginning to sink in, and Jyn knows Cassian has lost more, that even if his relationship with Draven was rocky and difficult, that he ultimately respected Draven, and had known the man for seven years, considered him a close ally, maybe even a kind of friend.
“I’m sorry,” she says, softly. “I’m sorry about… About Draven.”
Cassian shrugs, but he tightens his grip around her, his hands fisted in the back of her shirt.
“He always wanted to die with his soldiers,” Cassian says. “I think… It’s the best way for him to go. For any of us to go.”
Once more, Jyn wonders if they should have died on Scarif, with their soldiers, with Rogue One.
But she doesn’t voice this opinion.
She only holds Cassian tighter, and nods.
“Still,” she says. “I’m sorry.”
“Thank you,” Cassian says, generously. He pauses, and adds, “While I was very surprised to see Draven, I was also very surprised to see you .”
“I have a history of doing that,” Jyn mutters, and Cassian laughs.
“True. But I will never not be delighted to see you.”
“Yeah,” Jyn agrees. “I, I just… It was Hoth, and the Alliance, and I wanted to save as many people as I could, as many things, and it--”
“That reminds me.”
Jyn startles a little as Cassian steps away from her, moving past R2-K2, picking his abandoned parka up off the floor of the starfighter.
He reaches into a pocket and pulls out a palm-sized hologram projector, and Jyn’s breath catches.
He hands it to her, and she turns it on, and she’s greeted with the familiar image of herself as a child, with her parents. She stares at her mother’s soft smile, her father’s crinkled eyes.
“How…” Jyn chokes a little on her emotion, and pulls herself together. “How did you--”
“After I volunteered for Cracken, I went back to our room, to get a heavier coat,” Cassian replies. “I assumed the base would collapse and I’d be outside for a bit. And while I was in there, I saw the picture, and I wasn’t sure if you’d have time to go back for anything, and so I took it. Just in case.”
“Just in case,” Jyn repeats.
She’d totally forgotten about the hologram, in her haste to flee Echo Base, to escape Hoth, to survive. She hadn’t once remembered that maybe, there was something she ought to recover from her home before she lost it. She’s far too used to fleeing home without going back for anything.
But it’s the kind of thing Cassian would think of, the kind of thing he’d know to be important.
“I told you about how, when the Alliance evacuated Dantooine, I lost almost everything I had,” Cassian says, watching her watery eyes. “And it was… It was difficult. It was really only a handful of things, but they were from my parents, and my sister, and so it… It felt like a lot. I didn’t want you to have to go through that.”
“Right,” Jyn says, and she’s choked up.
Cassian has seen her cry before, and has never made her feel lesser, or weak for it, but she’s worried that if she starts crying now that she won’t be able to stop before they reach Eriadu.
“I wish…” Jyn starts, and sighs.
Her wishes from yesterday largely still remain:
She wishes the war was over. She wishes her family was still alive. She wishes Rogue One had survived.
She wishes she could go home.
She wishes Cassian never had to kill anyone ever again.
She supposes that her wish that she and Cassian didn’t live in a house made of ice has come true, if in a way she hadn’t expected, and definitely hadn’t wanted.
But she has another wish now, and it’s an old one.
“I wish you had more from your family,” she tells Cassian.
That he hadn’t lost his mother’s picture, his sister’s scarf, or his father’s dagger on Dantooine. That there was a way he could look at their faces when he was awake, and not only while sleeping, in dream or nightmare.
“Me, too,” Cassian agrees, quietly.
He looks at the stars in front of them for a moment, before turning back to Jyn.
“But you’re still here,” he says. “And you are far more family than I ever expected I would have.”
This does nothing to deter her tears, but rather, amplifies them.
She switches off the hologram of her and her parents, and shoves it into her jacket pocket.
“That’s, um,” she says, looking at the cool gray floor of the ship, trying to come up with something to say, and failing miserably. “That’s. Um. Same.”
She no longer has that ache in her gut, that feeling of something bad coming.
What she has now, she thinks, is her heart swelling up in her chest.
This is not a feeling she is accustomed to, though she’s experienced it more in the last three years than any other time in her life before.
Cassian looks at the tears in her eyes, the redness in her face, and takes pity on her.
“You should go to the cabin, and get some sleep,” he says, settling back into the pilot’s seat as he speaks. “You were fighting Walkers and then running around Echo Base with Draven; you must be exhausted. I’ll stay up here. We’ve got a couple hours before we get to Eriadu.”
Jyn thinks she is exhausted, that Cassian is right.
But she also, perhaps childishly, perhaps moronically, doesn’t want to leave him.
She settles into the co-pilot’s seat, stretching her legs out, rolling her neck back. “I’m good here.”
Cassian blinks at her.
Rather than saying anything, he only smirks, and stretches an arm back, scooping up his heavy white parka, and carefully tossing it over her.
She laughs, but accepts the coat, tucking herself under it.
Cassian watches her with a fond look on his face.
“I’ll wake you when we’re about fifteen minutes away,” he says.
“Make sure it’s you and not R2-K2.”
“I will. Good night, Jyn.”
She knows that sooner rather than later, she will look back on Hoth, on everything that happened there, and be paralyzed with grief. She knows that the loss of Echo Base is damaging to the Alliance, that the Alliance is likely scattered, broken up, and uncertain. She knows that hundreds, if not thousands, of Alliance soldiers have been killed, whether on Hoth itself or by the Imperial Fleet that waited above it.
She knows that part of her knew a loss like this was coming, that it had to be coming, that they’d been doing too well for too long, and that her anxiety and paranoia had manifested in her gut as a persistent ache.
She remembers how after nearly dying on Ord Mantell, and still feeling the ache, she’d realized something even worse was going to happen.
And something even worse did happen.
But she looks at Cassian, calmly going over the ship’s gears and computer, humming softly to himself, and she can’t help but think that the worst, the absolute worst thing, did not happen.
Because he’s still here.
They’re separated from the Alliance, from their friends, from their leaders. They don’t have a home anymore. They’ve lost all of their things, clothes, blasters, shoes, and everything else.
But they’re together.
Her first instinct, when she’d become aware of her bad feeling, had been that Cassian was hurt, or dead.
And she thinks that was the right instinct.
Because two years ago, she had an epiphany: Cassian Andor is going to leave her. And she thinks this is still a prediction that is likely to come to pass, that she had another glimpse of it during their argument in their room the day before. But for the moment, it is a prognosis that remains in the future. It is a worse thing her gut has not yet begun to tell her is imminent.
The Alliance is in shambles, and so many are dead.
The Empire has dealt a near-crippling blow today.
There is so much to be done, so much grief to feel, so much anger to comprehend.
But Cassian Andor still lives, and Cassian Andor is sitting right next to her.
Flying with her, under a callsign that died three years ago, a callsign they’ve been forced to resurrect for logistical purposes.
And, maybe, because it’s how they’ve found each other before, and something that kept them together, when they were faced with likely separation.
And for that, she feels a little triumphant.
For that, she can be grateful.
She closes her eyes, and she falls asleep.