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I'll Be There For You

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Let the record show that she, Jyn Erso, was most definitely not the one to suggest this whole sleeping-with-Cassian-Andor thing.

 

Let the record also show that just because Jyn Erso didn't suggest it, doesn't mean that Jyn Erso isn't completely in support of it.

 

But, more importantly, let the fucking record show that Jyn Erso has assholes for friends.

 

And also, make a footnote that it's high fucking time that she dumped them and found some new ones.

 

Why, you ask?

 

Because this whole thing with Cassian wasn't even her idea, and, somehow, she's still the bad guy here.

 

Case in point: She and Cassian have been sleeping together for approximately two months. A completely harmless, mutually beneficial, platonic arrangement. A good arrangement, even. She's having a good time, he's having a good time — everybody wins.

 

In the two months since they've established their — well, their understanding, their friends Bodhi and Kay have had an estimated twelve one-on-one meet-ups with Cassian.

 

In that same stretch of time, Bodhi and Kay have had at least three two-on-one meet-ups with Cassian.

 

This is fine, of course. It's perfectly justifiable for Jyn and Cassian's friends to worry that their arrangement might upset the general balance of things for everyone in the group. They're concerned. They have every right to warn Cassian to proceed with caution.

 

In fact, she'd be more surprised if Bodhi and Kay didn't have anything to say about it.

 

Well. She'd be more surprised if Kay didn't have anything to say about it, that is. Kay has something to say about quite literally everything.

 

But here's the part that's pissing her off.

 

Number of meet-ups with Jyn?

 

Zero.

 

That's it. Nothing. Nada. Fucking zilch.

 

Don't get her wrong. They still hang out often enough, all four of them together. Sometimes Baze and Chirrut will even skip out on their cosy Saturday nights in to join them down at Jedha for a couple of rounds.

 

The thing is, in the last two months she and Cassian have been sleeping together, not one of their group has called or texted Jyn for the purpose of arranging a lunch or dinner meeting. Not one person has come up to talk to her personally, just so they could run the whole Concerned Friend bit, and caution her to not fall in love with Cassian.

 

Not that she cares, of course. She wouldn't care.

 

She doesn't.

 

It's just that… well, compare it to the number of times they've apparently felt the need to check on Cassian, and — what the hell?!

 

It's fucking rude, is what it is.

 

"You've got to be kidding me," is the first thing she says when Cassian walks through her apartment door — two hours later than they'd originally agreed upon.

 

He merely shrugs, one hand propped against the wall as he pries off his shoes. "Kay's idea of 'one drink' needs some work."

 

"Kay's idea of friendship needs some work," she scoffs, emerging from the fridge with a freshly opened beer in each hand. "I mean, seriously! Twice in one week? He hasn't even replied my text from last Saturday."

 

Cassian laughs, accepting the beer she extends to him. "Kay's just trying to help. All he wants is to avoid ruining the group dynamic. Or whatever it is he usually says."

 

Jyn pushes herself up to sit on the counter separating the kitchen from the living room, swinging her ankles petulantly. "Yeah, well, I don't see him trying to help me," she retorts around another swig of beer.

 

Cassian slides his free hand into his jeans pocket, one brow raised as he takes a sip from his own beer. "Feeling left out, Jyn?"

 

Now, if it were Kay or Bodhi or anyone else, she'd probably roll her eyes, and mutter some variation of 'shut up' or 'go away, asshole' .

 

But Cassian? He's seen enough of her behind the tough act. There's really just not much point trying to fake it in front of him anymore.

 

"No one ever comes to talk to me about it," she huffs. "No one ever tries to warn me. Or offer to protect my honour. Or whatever the fuck it is they do with you." She makes a scoffing noise, gesturing sharply with her beer bottle. "I mean, at this point, they might as well just come out and say it to my face, right?" She drops her voice into a low imitation of Chirrut's stately drawl. "'Jyn — no one cares about your feelings.'"

 

Cassian snorts, taking a step closer. "Well, to be fair," he says conversationally, "everyone's still on the fence about whether you actually have feelings. So."

 

Her jaw drops at the sight of his unapologetic grin. "Wow. Wow."

 

He cocks his head, eyes dancing with amusement. "Too low?"

 

"Definitely below the belt, sir," she says, pretending to be insulted as she flicks at his shoulder with the back of her hand. "And definitely completely uncalled for, might I add."

 

He smirks, and takes another healthy pull from his bottle before setting it down on the counter, a safe distance from her.

 

"Well," he says, somehow already standing between her knees without her having noticed and making her breath catch with the sudden proximity, "let's see if I can't make it up to you, shall we?"

 

She nods automatically, excitement clouding through her brain and rendering her barely aware of the way he plucks her own beer lightly from her grasp, setting it on the other side of the counter and out of the way.

 

"Yes, well," she says, struggling to keep her voice steady as his fingers graze along her thighs and up to her hips, "it was a very low blow."

 

He pauses, his warm hands settling around her waist, sending flares of heat through her thin cotton shirt. "Don't worry," he says, his voice pitched unmistakably lower despite the lingering lilt of teasing. "I can go lower."

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

See, the thing is, she wouldn't care so much about it if they weren't so fucking blatant about their favouritism.

 

"Cassian, there is a girl at the bar who has glanced in our direction approximately nine times in the last twenty minutes," Kay reports, pushing his glasses up on the bridge of his nose. "Would you like me to serve as your wingman?"

 

"I'm good, Kay," Cassian says lightly, not even bothering to look for himself. "But thanks for the offer."

 

"Are you sure?" Kay presses, maintaining his neutral tone with infuriating calm. "Is this because you wish to avoid making Jyn angry? Perhaps I should remind you that expressing romantic or sexual interest in other parties would not be a violation of any of the terms of your arrangement."

 

"I'm right here, you know," Jyn snaps, throwing a beer nut across the table at Kay. It bounces off his bony shoulder without eliciting so much as a blink from him.

 

Behind his glasses, Kay's eyes slide to her. One hand lifts to adjust the collar of his perfectly pressed shirt, his ebony skin contrasting sharply against the stark white of the fabric. "Yes, I have noted your presence."

 

"How about you note my fist—

 

"I'm fine, Kay," Cassian cuts in smoothly, his elbow bumping into hers. He leaves his arm pressed against hers, flashing an easy smile at their friend. "Really."

 

"All right," Kay says, in that sniffy, prim tone that he uses whenever he thinks someone's making a particularly dumb or avoidable mistake. "As long as it's not because you've fallen in love with Jyn."

 

"Once again," Jyn says loudly, pointing at herself. "Right here!"

 

 

 

 

Later that night, Cassian makes her come twice before actually fucking her — once on his fingers, and once on his tongue.

 

"Consider it consolation," he tells her with a grin as he pushes her down onto her bed so that she's flat on her back, his hands already pulling her thighs apart to make room for his head.

 

It doesn't exactly make up for it… but it does make her feel much, much better.

 

Also, it definitely manages to put all thoughts of Kay and anyone else out of her mind for a good forty minutes.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Two weeks later, she's a lot more excited to see Cassian's name flashing up on her screen than she cares to admit, even if it's just to herself.

 

"If this is about dinner," she says once she hits 'accept', "I've already got the menu all planned out, so we can call and order once you—"

 

"Actually," Cassian's voice cuts in, sounding distinctly wry, "I think I'm gonna have to pass on dinner tonight."

 

"Oh." She tries not to sound disappointed. She doesn't think she's doing a very good job of it, though.

 

"I can still come over later," he says quickly. "After dinnertime, though. Maybe around nine? That work for you?"

 

"Oh," she says — a little less doleful than before, but still noticeably gloomy, even to her own ears. "Uh. Yeah, okay. Sure."

 

"Sorry," he says, sounding genuinely apologetic. "It's just— I feel bad cancelling on Bodhi. I've been putting off this chat with him for the entire week, so—"

 

"Bodhi?" she repeats, brows furrowed. "You're meeting with Bodhi tonight? Whatever for?"

 

He sighs into the phone, weary but fond. "Do I even need to give you three guesses?"

 

She makes an annoyed noise. "I'll call you back."

 

She drums her fingers on her desk all throughout the thirty-two seconds it takes Bodhi to pick up on her call.

 

"I can't talk now, Jyn," he says, instead of a regular greeting. "I'm at work."

 

Jyn narrows her eyes, analysing his tone as thoroughly as she can and finding no real traces of authentic stress or panic in his voice. "Would you please stop trying to chaperone Cassian? I'm not the Big Bad Wolf, and he's not Red Riding fucking Hood."

 

Bodhi hums, thoughtful. "Interesting that you would choose to identify yourself with a fairytale character widely considered as one of the most famous allegories for sexual predators."

 

Jyn huffs, now thoroughly exasperated. "Has it ever occurred to you that maybe I'm the Red Riding Hood in this situation?"

 

"You know Red Riding Hood is supposed to be the embodiment of fragility, right?" Bodhi asks, his tone curious. "You know — vulnerability?"

 

"Are you actually associating the adjectives 'fragile' and 'vulnerable' with Cassian?" she demands disbelievingly.

 

"Well, between the two of you, it's not going to be you, " Bodhi counters cheerfully. "Hanging up now, love you!"

 

"Have you met Cassian?!" she exclaims hotly — but the line's gone dead.

 

"Un-fucking-believable," she growls, tearing her phone away from her ear.

 

Pulling up a blank text to Cassian, she starts to type furiously. Oh, she'll let Bodhi have his little sit-down with him, all right — but not before she rants her ass off, since that's apparently the only thing she's allowed to do as a fucking sexual predator who preys on her close male friends who happen to be five years her senior.

 

 

 

 

"I mean, if I actually were a sexual predator, " she continues later as they're lounging in her bed, both completely naked save for the sheets tangled around their bodies, "I think I'd know better than to prey on someone who has a height advantage of, like, six whole inches on me."

 

"Seven," Cassian corrects idly.

 

"Whatever," she grumbles, flopping down to rest her head on his bare chest.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Three months into their arrangement, Bodhi and Kay appear to have given up on their well-intentioned hovering.

 

"Well," Jyn says as she leans back in her seat, "at least now you two can stop acting like I'm constantly planning to kill Cassian in cold blood. You know, once I was done sexually assaulting him."

 

Beside her, Cassian doesn't even bother trying to pretend that he's not sniggering.

 

"Honestly, we were just kind of worried you'd end up killing each other," Bodhi says breezily.

 

"After twelve weeks," Kay observes, both hands neatly cupped around his beer mug, "I can only conclude that the situation has stabilised. By now, the probability of any real danger arising is about as low as we could hope for."

 

"That's optimistic of you," Cassian says, eyes twinkling with contained laughter.

 

"Oh yeah, that's Kay, all right," Jyn says sardonically. "Ever the optimist."

 

Kay nods, his expression solemn. "One has to look on the bright side some time. Life would be rather depressing otherwise."

 

The disbelieving snickers from the other three trail off when a shadow falls over their table.

 

"Hey," a mocha-skinned man says, glancing around the table before landing on Jyn, his handsome face curving into an inviting smile. "Hope I'm not interrupting or anything, but I was just wondering if you would like to get a drink with me?"

 

She raises a brow, thrown a little off guard by the stranger's forwardness. She's had men and women approach her before, of course, but never in the middle of a group like this.

 

"No, thanks," she says automatically, gesturing towards her beer. "Already got one."

 

"You're almost out," the stranger says, nodding towards her glass. He's right — it's already at least three-quarters finished. "How about I get you another one? My treat, of course," he adds, flashing a charming grin.

 

For some reason, the sight fails to inspire even the slightest spark of attraction in Jyn.

 

"No, thank you," she repeats, leaning away from him on instinct. "Actually, I'm with—"

 

She cuts herself off abruptly, eyes rounding in panic.

 

"Come again?" the stranger asks politely. His eyes flick to Cassian, whose side she'd unintentionally leaned into when she'd been trying to distance herself from him. His brows shoot up in realisation. "Sorry, are you with—"

 

"I'm—" she exclaims loudly, her mind racing as she struggles to ignore the weight of Bodhi and Kay's wide-eyed stares fixed on her.

 

"With," she continues, her face flushing with heat.

 

"A... full bladder."

 

Four pairs of eyes blink silently at her.

 

"Yep," she says, her casual tone sounding terribly forced, even to her own reddened ears. She jumps out of the booth, managing a strained laugh. "Time to, uh, empty out the ol' tank," she quips, slowly backing away from the table. "As they say."

 

All four of them are still staring wordlessly at her, the stranger now wearing an expression she can only describe as 'thoroughly bewildered'.

 

"Be right back," she finishes in a rush, spinning sharply on her heel before practically dashing towards the bathroom.

 

 

 

 

"Shut up," she hisses to herself, splashing cold water on her face. "Shut up, shut up, shut up."

 

Never mind the fact that she hasn't actually said anything. (Well, other than 'shut up'.)

 

Ripping a paper towel from the dispenser beside the sink, she presses it to her wet face.

 

"You're not in love with Cassian," she mumbles into the thin material. Her voice is muffled by her hands, and nowhere near as steady as she would very much like for it to be right now.

 

Taking a deep breath, she balls up the paper towel, tosses it into the bin and turns to face the mirror. Bracing her hands on the sink, she leans forward, staring down her own reflection.

 

"You're not in love with Cassian," she repeats, as clearly as she can.

 

"You're not in love with Cassian."

 

She yelps at the unexpected echo, whirling around to face its source.

 

"Kay, what the fuck," she half yells, one hand pressed to her heaving chest. Wincing at the volume of her own voice, she lowers it to a hoarse whisper. "This is the ladies' room!"

 

Kay merely shrugs, his tall frame looking oddly cramped in the small space. "You're the only female present. You're not in any indecent state of dress. Do you mind?"

 

"Yes," she says stubbornly, but he simply shrugs again. "Well, do you mind at least telling me what the hell you're doing in here?"

 

He cocks his head, as if confused by the question. "I followed you here."

 

She sighs, resisting the urge to pinch at the bridge of her nose. "Yes, I gathered that. My question is why? "

 

He gives her that disapproving look — nothing out of the ordinary, she usually gets one from him every two minutes or so. "That was not your question," he says, almost chidingly.

 

"Kay."

 

"Yes, all right," he says, sounding uncharacteristically disgruntled. He casts his gaze around the small bathroom, as if trying to measure whether it meets his standards. "I know what you're trying to do."

 

"What," she can't help but snipe, "go to the bathroom in peace?"

 

His steady, calculating gaze lands on her. "You're trying to avoid acknowledging your feelings for Cassian."

 

She splutters — but it's half a second late.

 

"What?" she exclaims, shaking her head. "No, that's— what? No. That's ridiculous. I just— what?"

 

Kay doesn't even bother acknowledging her half-baked protests. "Cassian is a very intelligent man," he says instead, pushing his glasses up his nose. "Unfortunately, his emotional competency skills do not quite match up to his impressive intellect. Neither do yours, by the way," he adds, frowning slightly at her. "In my opinion, it's a most inconvenient combination."

 

Jyn stares at him, her jaw hanging slack. "Uh."

 

Kay clears his throat. "Despite this, I feel that it would be in Cassian's best interests if you would bolster up what little emotional aptitude happens to be in your possession, and express your feelings to him directly. Through verbal forms, preferably."

 

"I—" Jyn blinks, and then squeezes her eyes shut and shakes her head. "Wait, what? Why?"

 

"Because I believe that an initiation on your part would in turn encourage him to admit his own feelings. Feelings he has thus far buried deep within him for a long, long time now, for fear of marring your shared camaraderie."

 

Jyn stares at him. "Listen, Kay — no offence, but I think I would know if one of my closest friends has been harbouring romantic feelings for me all this while. Especially if we've been having sex, pretty regularly, for three whole months!"

 

Kay is completely unfazed. "Full offence, Jyn — but I do not agree. At all."

 

Irritation flares up within her, but it's faint, sidelined by the issue at hand. Somewhere in the back of her mind, it suddenly occurs to her how, lately, everything seems to be sidelined when it comes to Cassian.

 

"Okay, well," she says, crossing her arms over her middle, "how do you know, then?"

 

The look he gives her is somewhere between pity and distaste. "Because I make observations. I analyse patterns in speech and behaviour, and I let them guide me to logical, reasonable conclusions, based on countless years of extensive research into the human psyche."

 

A pause.

 

Kay shrugs. "Also because he may or may not have confessed it within my hearing on many a drunken night."

 

"I'm sorry," Jyn says sharply, her brows shooting up into her hairline. "What was that now?"

 

Kay's face remains carefully blank. "I have been instructed on several occasions to neither confirm nor deny."

 

Jyn takes a deep breath, half turning away from him as she struggles to process the information. "This is insane," she mutters under her breath.

 

"Jyn."

 

She turns to look at Kay.

 

His movements are jerkier than usual as he raises a hand to his collar, tugging more out of compulsion than fastidiousness. He clears his throat again, before opening his mouth to speak.

 

"Cassian is — for lack of a less paltry term — my best friend," he says, his nose wrinkling as if reluctant to let the trite phrase pass his lips. He straightens, his hand dropping from his collar to his side. "While I confess an inability to either understand or empathise with his decision to propose this self-destructive arrangement, ultimately, I would hope that whatever outcome the two of you arrive at, it would result in an optimal state of happiness for him."

 

Silence descends on the bathroom.

 

Jyn nods slowly. "Huh. Okay. So, just to see if I've understood perfectly — don't break his heart, or you'll kick my arse?"

 

Kay's face scrunches ever so slightly. "Such uncivilised phrasing," he grumbles. "All the same, I suppose that is a sufficient summary, yes."

 

 

 

 

So it's really all Kay's fault that she's this goddamn nervous right now.

 

"You all right?" Cassian asks as they pull their shoes off in the front hall of her apartment. "You've been a little… distracted all night."

 

"I'm fine," she says quickly, padding into the apartment before he can get a good look at her face. "Want a drink? Wine, beer, whiskey?"

 

Cassian follows after her, his brow cocked. "We just had drinks," he reminds her. "We just had a lot of drinks."

 

"Not nearly enough," she mutters to herself, tugging her jacket off to put off looking at him for a few moments more.

 

Come on, Jyn, she thinks, working her arms out of the sleeves. It's like a Band-Aid. Just… rip it off. Fast, easy, simple.

 

Drawing a deep breath, she tosses her jacket onto the counter and turns to face him.

 

"Listen, Jyn—" Cassian starts, his face contorted with a peculiar expression, "if you didn't want me to— I mean, we don't have to tonight, you know. You could have just said something if you wanted to come home alone."

 

"Wha— no," she says, shaking her head. "No, it's not—"

 

"Seriously, I get it," Cassian says, both hands raised as he starts to back away, towards the door. "It's fine. No hard feelings or anything."

 

"No," she repeats, and before she can stop herself, one hand shoots out to grab at his wrist. "No, wait, please."

 

He goes completely still under her touch, eyes trained on her warily, like he's expecting her to yank his arm right out of its socket at any moment.

 

She takes another deep breath, bracing herself before meeting his gaze. "I want you to stay."

 

He looks almost confused by the announcement.

 

"Okay," he says slowly, relaxing a little under her grip.

 

"And it's not just because I like sleeping with you or anything," she barrels on, before she can lose her nerve. "Although, I do," she adds quickly, her fingers tightening on his wrist. "Honestly, I really, really do."

 

He seems torn — like he wants to laugh, but he knows he shouldn't. "Okay," he says again, his tone much more uncertain than before.

 

For a moment, he looks like he wants to say something else, but he falls silent, watching her like he's waiting for a cue.

 

"I want you to stay," she says, keeping her eyes fixed on his, "because I think—"

 

She breaks off, shaking her head. Oh, my God, her brain yells at her amidst the sirens going off in her head. Abort, abort, ABORT!

 

"No, fuck. I want you to stay because I'm— I'm in love with you."

 

She blinks, a little bit in shock at the deafening silence that's lapsed over her brain.

 

"I love you," she repeats quickly, before her mind can reboot. "I love you, and — well, uh, it would be really cool if we could keep up with the— the whole sleeping together thing." She swallows nervously. "Except, maybe — I don't know, with some going out thrown into the mix? Like, just the two of us. Without any of the others, I mean." She laughs, the sound brittle. "I mean, we don't have to go out, we could just stay in, too? Get takeout like we always do, watch some Netflix or—"

 

She gets the impression that Cassian doesn't really care either way.

 

It's a little bit because he never seems to have particularly strong opinions about how they spend their time together.

 

It's mostly because of the way he's kissing her right now, his lips moving heatedly against hers, hands cupped around her face, fingers tangling into her hair like he never wants to let her go.

 

"I love you," he tells her the second he pulls away, his breathing ragged. "And I think it would be really cool if we could keep up with the whole sleeping together thing, too."

 

"Okay," she says, a little dazedly, hands gripping blindly into the material of his shirt. "Yeah. Cool."

 

He takes her hand, pressing a hard kiss to the back of it before moving towards her bedroom, tugging her with him, "Probably best if we get a head start on that," he tells her, his tone matter-of-fact despite the quickened pace of his steps. "Wouldn't want to fall behind on anything. Might get awkward."

 

"Oh, yeah," she says with a breathless laugh, darting ahead of him. "Wouldn't want that, now."

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

"One job," Bodhi says when they show up to lunch hand in hand, two days later. "You had one job, Cassian!"

 

"I would apologise," Cassian says, his dark eyes shining despite his casual tone, "but it would be completely insincere."

 

"I can't believe you actually went and fell in love with her," Bodhi marvels, pretending to ruffle Jyn's hair.

 

"Actually," Jyn says, slapping his hand away, "it was the other way round." She flashes a wicked grin at Bodhi, throwing in a punch to the shoulder for good measure. "Bet you're regretting not chaperoning me now, huh?"

 

"Never, Jyn Erso," Bodhi manages to say with a strangled gasp, one hand clutched to his freshly punched shoulder. "Never ever."