Everybody is talking about changing the world
The world ain’t never gonna change
But you could always change it for me
Being assigned to a smuggler as part of his Pathfinder unit is not what Jyn considers her idea of a good time. It does not matter that Han Solo now has a shiny new medal to prove his bravery. He is still an intolerable asshole.
But this is what you get when you reject a promotion from the Rebellion and prefers to ‘heal’ from the events on Scarif rather than lead a unit of your own.
It is a funny word. Heal. Jyn thinks she will never ever be done with it. For her, there is too much to heal from. She doesn’t believe in the concept, really, but it was easier to say that she needs time to ‘heal’ rather than say she can’t lead anyone anymore. Not after the sands of Scarif. Not after Chirrut and Baze and Kay-too. Not when Bodhi is now a wreck of a person. Not when Cassian keeps throwing himself into mission after mission, disappearing and reappearing in and out of her life like a ghost.
Cassian doesn’t believe in healing either. He only believes in the Rebellion, and they both know a spy must have no weaknesses so they haven’t touched each other since Scarif.
But some nights when she can’t sleep, Jyn believes it is out of self-punishment and not out of nobility at all.
And speaking of nobility, whatever he is, Han Solo is anything but noble.
He looks her up and down when they are first introduced.
“Can you handle yourself in a fight, kid?”
She should take it as an insult that he has never heard of her before. But then again, it is better this way. If he doesn’t talk about it, then she doesn’t have to talk about it.
“Do you have a blaster, kid?”
“Standard issue, sir.” She shows him the one at her waist. (Cassian’s. Stolen from long ago.) She studies him for a moment and then says, “And I would prefer it if you wouldn’t call me ‘kid’, sir.”
He shrugs. The man simply oozes nonchalance.
“We can’t have everything we want in life, kid.”
Since Kay-too, Cassian trusts no other pilot but Bodhi. So it is Bodhi she finds when she slips into the cockpit, her steps barely making any sounds on the deck.
“You okay, Bodhi?”
“Yes - yes, I think I’m - I’m ready,” says the pilot, twitchy and on edge like always.
She squeezes his arm in comfort.
“Let me know if things get too much, okay?”
“Thank you. You - you too.”
She gives him a hug and lingers. His hand gently strokes her back as if to say, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay. But they both know that it is not.
They only break apart when Cassian comes in.
“It’s time to leave, Bodhi,” he says. He smiles at her a little. Only a little.
“When are you coming back?” she asks. There is no point in asking where he is going.
“I don’t know.”
“Okay,” is all she can manage.
He hesitates; she sees his hand twitch as though he wants to reach out to her, but doesn’t.
“Jyn,” he tells her. “I will come back. I promise.”
Unlike her and Bodhi, they do not embrace. She says farewell by nodding like she believes his words.
She stands in the docking bay and watches as their ship takes off.
It is Han Solo, striding up to her with a lazy, curious smile on his lips.
“By the way, who is that guy?”
Jyn hears a scoff and it is Princess Leia who comes into view. She throws Solo a look of disdain as she walks pass and quips, “It is an insult to your intelligence if you really don’t know who Cassian Andor is.”
Solo becomes instantly alert. He turns around and sweeps a mocking bow in Leia’s direction.
“Sorry, your worshipfulness. Not all of us rub shoulders with royalty on a daily basis.”
“And not all of us are as clueless as you are, captain.”
Jyn notices how Solo’s shoulders drop when he realises that the princess has no interest in stopping to chat. And when he turns back to Jyn, he cannot quite hide the frustration in his expression.
“Come on, kid. Let’s get the gang together.”
Jyn learns that creating a diversion and liberating a planet are not so different in the eyes of Han Solo. On the days when his absurd improvisations work, they would get congratulatory thumps on the back from other rebels or even a smile from Mon Mothma. But on days when they don’t, they would get a tongue lashing from Princess Leia herself. It doesn’t matter that her head only comes up to Solo’s chin. She stares him down like nobody’s business.
Somehow, Jyn thinks Solo prefers these days to the days when they are heroes.
“Can I ask you a question, sir?”
They are walking back from debriefing together and no one else is in the corridor.
“What is it, kid?”
“Are you trying to get us killed on purpose, sir?”
He laughs. The sound, like the rest of him, is cool and smooth.
“From the stories I’ve heard about you, I don’t think you’d mind.”
“Oh, I don’t, sir. I just like to be prepared, that’s all.”
He laughs again and she finds herself laughing with him. It is easy, she realises. In another life, in another world, they could be friends. Or maybe even more. Liana Hallik would like Han, she thinks. She might even find his arrogance attractive. And the Jyn Erso in her head would have taken him to bed already if not for all the reasons why she should not.
A voice calls out from behind her. It kills the laughter on their lips and she turns and there is one of those reasons right now.
Cassian Andor. Face pale, unshaved, his eyes a little more dead. The uniform he has on is sagging against his thinner frame.
Before she realises it, she is gasping out his name and rushing towards him. He holds out a hand.
“No. Don’t. I’m fine.”
She stops in her tracks, just a few feet away from him.
“When did you get back?”
“Just now.” He looks over her shoulder at Han. “Solo.”
Cassian holds the gaze, willing the pilot to go away. But Solo doesn’t move. It is Cassian who turns away first and when he looks back at Jyn, she can see the tiredness etched deep within his eyes.
She wants to caress his face, tell him that it is okay, but she knows that she can’t and he can’t and not yet.
So much for moving on.
The smile he gives her is hardly a smile at all.
“I’ll see you later, okay?” he says.
She nods and lets him go.
But the next day, he leaves without saying goodbye.
They are fighting again.
Jyn might be standing outside the room with Chewbecca, but she can still hear every word.
“How is this not enough, Han?” Leia yells.
“This is the reward for saving you, not for destroying the Death Star!”
“You didn’t destroy the Death Star. Luke did!”
“Well, I helped! And I have been with you almost everyday since then, leading missions and who knows what else for your stupid cause!”
“If you hate it so much, then why don’t you just leave?”
“Fine! Maybe I will!”
A few seconds later, Solo stomps out of the room, his face red and twisted with fury. He grabs his blaster from Chewie and Jyn has to jog to keep up with his long strides.
“Impossible girl!” he growls. “One of these days, I’m not gonna be here to watch her back. Mark my words!”
She doesn’t argue the point. There is no reason to and they both know it.
The three of them sharply turn a corner and Jyn collides with someone who is running at full pelt. They both collapse on the floor and it is only when Han pulls her to her feet that she realises who it is.
She sees in his eyes something that she has not seen since Scarif. Dread. She feels her heart falling and the hand she reaches out to grab Bodhi with is shaking like mad.
“Bodhi, where is he?”
“Med bay. They say he-”
But Jyn is already gone.
She finds him lying on a cot, his chest bandaged and his arms hanging limply by his side. His eyes are closed and his face is drained of all colour. But he is alive, alive, alive.
She sits down next to him and grabs his hand. When she laces her fingers through his, the memories make it worse but she doesn’t - can’t - let go.
Solo finds her a few minutes later.
“You know, kid. Staring like that won’t make him wake up any time soon.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
She hears him shifting uncomfortably next to her. Then, the sound of a chair being pulled over and he sits down.
“Erso, take the next mission off.”
She doesn't say thank you. But then again, with Solo, she doesn’t need to.
They get uproariously drunk on the Millennium Falcon - her, Han and Chewie. Han breaks open multiple bottles of Corellian gin not because she likes the drink, but because he had stolen them from General Draven’s personal stash. The Wookiee is good at holding his liquor, but it takes only a bottle to make Han start talking at the top of his voice and to make Jyn laugh at everything he says.
Han himself is wiping away tears of laughter as he opens the third bottle and pours her a new glass.
“To somewhere warm,” he says, and pours himself another one too. “Let’s take the Falcon to a planet where we can feel our toes. What’d you reckon, Erso?”
“I’d love that. Somewhere with trees. But no beaches though. Just…trees.”
“Fine. No beaches. How about lakes? You like lakes, right?”
“I can do with lakes.”
“Lakes it is then. We can even go now.” He grins and spreads his arm towards the ceiling of the Falcon. “I mean, we have a ship. The fastest one in the galaxy. We can stop at a few places. Check them out before we decide on a spot.”
“That sounds nice.” She takes another drink and the world is turning impossibly soft all around them. “That sounds wonderful, actually.”
“It does, doesn’t it?”
“Yeah, it does.”
And they look at each other for what feels like years. His expression softens then. No hard edges anymore - none of his usual cocksure arrogance. It is just Han. He smiles at her, and oh, what a beautiful thing it is when Han Solo really smiles.
Too bad the image doesn’t last long. The smile begins to disappear- sadly, achingly - to match the sadness that rises in her chest.
They can leave right then and there, but they won’t and they both know it. Their reasons for staying will always, always be the same. Right now, hers is lying in the med bay with a blaster wound in his chest and his is in the command centre trying to save the galaxy.
If it came down to a choice, Jyn knows that Cassian would choose the cause over her every time and the princess wouldn’t even look twice at Han if it meant abandoning the fight. Jyn and Han fight for the Rebellion because they need to. Have to. But Cassian and Leia live it.
Jyn has now learned that loving the man she loves means loving his ideal as well.
“To the Rebellion then,” says Han, lifting his glass, his voice laced with irony.
“To the Rebellion,” she says, lifting her own.
She doesn’t see him until a few days later. Cassian still hasn’t been discharged from the med bay and she is on her way there when she spots him at the Falcon. It would be a familiar sight, if not for the mountains and mountains of boxes all around him.
“What’s all this?” she asks.
Chewie lets out a groan that she doesn’t quite understand. Han, however, shrugs.
He grabs another box and tosses it into the Falcon. Her heart sinks.
“Got some debts to pay off if I want to keep my head.”
“It didn’t bother you before.”
“Well, you know. Things change.”
Something in his demeanour suggests that there is more to it than that. She steps closer to make sure no one hears them, and asks, “Does she know?”
She fixes him with a pointed look. He sighs.
“I’m telling her soon.”
“She won’t ask you to stay, you know.”
He doesn’t miss a beat and sneers at her in his usual confident way.
“I’m not expecting her to, kid.”
He is lying and they both know it. But like most things between them, there is no use in saying it.
“If you really were going to leave,” she says carefully, “I’d miss you.”
As soon as she says it, she realises that it is the truth. Solo is anything but noble. But then again, so is she.
“I am leaving, kid,” he says. “And no. You won’t miss me.”
She frowns. “Why?”
He jerks his chin at something over her shoulder.
“You ain’t gonna have time to miss me, kid.”
She turns around and her eyes rest on a figure that has just limped through the doorway. Cassian. Frail, thin, and weary. But alive, alive, alive.
Han smirks at the look on her face and she rolls her eyes at him. She gives his arm a squeeze. He understands, she thinks, and there is no need for any other kind of farewell.
Cassian stands there waiting until she makes her way over.
“Have they discharged you?” she asks. Up close, he is still paler than usual, and there is a new scar on the bottom of his chin.
“I discharged myself.”
“Is Solo leaving with his reward then?”
There is no mistaking the disdain in his voice this time, but Jyn chooses to ignore it.
“He says he will.”
“Oh, but he won’t.”
Cassian frowns. “He won’t? Why?”
The same reason I won’t either, she wants to say, but can’t.
“I just know him,” she says instead.
She can tell from the way Cassian’s eyes narrow that he doesn’t much like her answer. But he doesn’t comment on it. Instead, he rests a soft hand on her shoulder. The touch startles her, nearly makes her jump out of her skin.
“Cassian, you shouldn’t be here,” she says, her voice breaking. “You should be resting. Getting better. Getting ready for your next mission.”
“I know, I know. I just…” He sighs and he leans in until their foreheads touch. “I just needed to see you.”
“Well, here I am.”
His other hand finds her cheek. His touch is warm despite the cold, and she wishes they could stay like this forever. For once, maybe it wouldn't matter if everyone sees. But then he whispers in her ear, his voice so low that she can barely hear him: “Jyn, I’m sorry."
He doesn’t tell her what he is apologising for, but she thinks she knows. So she lifts her hand to cover his. The gesture brings his eyes to hers and they stare and stare and stare, and she thinks that she might break just from looking at him too long.
What is it that Han said?
You know, kid. Staring like that won’t make him wake up any time soon.
And she almost laughs through the pain.