She has never seen him smile until now. It’s barely there, more in his eyes than in his mouth but it makes of his face something she wants to see everyday. They don’t have an everyday. They don’t have a future together. But Cassian whips his head around to stare at her and he doesn’t need to start raising his arms for her to collide against him. Everything is happening too fast: the sand lashes around them furiously, the ocean roars, the wind is trying to tackle them down. Cassian is anchoring them to the ground. He’s this pull in her gut, this intensity holding her, this gravity around them that makes Jyn’s eyes find him even when they were at headquarters and she had her back turned on him but still knew he was there. The way Cassian Andor looks at her, focused, intense, like she’s worth this war, like she’s the hope for which he fights. Like she’s the only thing he needs to do right in his life.
And he did.
There are only seconds left and Jyn has too much to say for so little time.
“You brought us here you made this possible”. Then: “you believed in me when no one else did. My father used to say we are made of stardust: when a star implodes, another one might be born in its place. I will find you in our next lifetime”.
He’s replying to her, arms tightening around her neck but she can’t hear over the uproar of the explosion. The light is blinding. The wind is burning her skin. She clings onto him, breathes him, thinks there wouldn’t be hope without your faith,
and they’re gone.
This is one of Princess Leia’s favorite stories to tell, even if she never, personally, met the pilots of Rogue One. Good soldiers, she says often, to fuel everyone’s spirits, good soldiers who gave us something to look forward to. A reason to wake up everyday . Our dreams are no longer dreams, as we have a way to get to the Death Star and destroy the destroyer of planets. When she was no longer able to tell them this, the general took place for her. It’s a story often told among the troops, how the crew of the Rogue One disobeyed orders, risked their lives and saved the Rebellion. There’s a hologram outside headquarters, perpetually frozen like a statue, a vague reconstruction of two figures who resemble the heroes of the resistance: Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor. Both lost everything because of the rebels, but fought along them for the liberation of the galaxy.
She finds herself glancing at the hologram every time she has to patrol or is called into headquarters for a meeting or a simulacre. Once, she dared to ask very quietly during lunch how Jyn Erso really was. The old general himself stopped by her table and answered, voice clear and sharp: free.
Jyn Erso was free.
But she traded it for the sake of their freedom.
She sometimes wakes to the remainings of a night filled with dreams: there is a meaning to her life, she becomes useful to the rebellion, she helps to bring down the empire. She didn’t survive her parents and sister for nothing.
At her table usually sits this huge soldier who has a very strong accent she can’t recognize, and this other one, calm and observing, often teasing his companion about anything. She likes them. Doesn’t talk much because she’s there to fight a war, not to make friends, but the bond of camaraderie is deep when they’re assigned to the same spaceship for piloting practices. They have an engineer with them, too, someone who falls asleep constantly everywhere and their captain, someone rather intimidating mostly because his way of speaking is harsh, like there is a weight to his shoulders he stubbornly carries in silence. He’s sharp in the edges, always frowning, always a silent challenge in his expression. He doesn’t respond to any provocation but he’s not used to be confronted. Maybe it’s just the way he takes his duty. Maybe it’s that he’s also lost as much as she has. He has eyes of war.
She finds herself thinking she likes them.
Also likes this particular way he has of lowering his face so their eyes are even and he can speak to her directly, implying a sort of intimacy she’s never felt before. He has never been up for respecting her personal space, anyway, they speak with their noses barely inches apart. But also how he walks, shoulders slouched to the right slightly, or how she trusts him blindly, even when they got into their first mission and she discovered he’d been keeping information from her.
She tries to understand, later, he only sees himself as a soldier.
“You’re a good man”, she mutters once they’re alone in the locker room, removing the equipment. Wants to comfort him. It’s okay if you don’t trust me, I know you’ve got my back.
He faces her for long seconds. It’s this way he has of looking: gravity. There’s a depth in his eyes always pulling her in, blurring the edges of the world, creating a thick connection between them she can almost touch. She’s being looked at like there is something to see, and maybe she won’t be the hero that will destroy the Death Star, but she feels so right here, in this very moment. She feels worth the rebellion.
“Thank you”, it’s what comes out of her mouth before he can even speak and his eyebrows rise high, questioning. She doesn’t even know what to say. Thank you for having my back, for believing in me, for running missions together. Thank you for looking at me . “Let’s go. Let’s go, now, let’s go to the war. Let’s save the galaxy from the empire.”
He stares, long, very long, his face doesn’t give anything away.
Say yes , she thinks, say we can be a supernova. She wants to walk out of headquarters, look up at the memorial of Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor and think she will come back looking even with them. He doesn’t speak for a while, and, when she’s about to give up and mutter forget it, he smirks. Only a little, only there, in the corner of his eyes and the pull of his mouth and it’s the first time she’s seen it.
She understands, then, when Princess Leia talked about a reason to wake up everyday.
“What do you think you can do against the stormtroops?” A shrug. Nothing, probably, but aren’t those black eyes worth the try? There is a promise in her words when she says:
“We’ll name our spacejunk of a ship Rogue Two and will be remembered for centuries as this second part that was better than the first ”.
And there is faith in his when he replies:
It’s impossible to believe you.
But I do.