Chapter 1: Breaking & Entering
Cassian tried not to make a startled or offended sound when he pushed open the janky door to his dorm and spotted one Jyn Erso lying on his bed reading what looked like his Physics notes, but one of these days, he was going to find out how she managed to effortlessly break into his dorm room without anyone catching her.
At the sound of his door shutting, Jyn pulled out one of the ear buds of the extremely outdated iPod that she was listening to and looked back to smirk at him, seeing as how she was probably able to read the disgruntlement on his face and thoroughly enjoyed it. She rather liked torturing him, he thought as he looked her over, his eyes unfortunately catching onto her shorts and the way her t-shirt was riding up and leaving an expanse of smooth skin to be seen.
“You take excellent notes, Cassian,” she told him, eyes glittering. “You should look into making a business out of this.”
“It’s school, not a business,” he pointed out, which only made her shrug her shoulders and roll back to look down at his notes.
He never asked her outright how she got into his dorm and he never asked why she did so. He couldn’t even remember her ever telling him her exact reasons, at least not until he managed to slowly coerce them out of her. He was good at getting people to talk, even people as stone-walled as Jyn. He had the kind of face that made people want to talk to him, according to his professors, made him seem trustworthy even when he gave no reason to be. Besides politics, he didn’t know how that would help him, and he hated politics. He much preferred to stay out of the spotlight.
Dropping his backpack on the floor, Cassian was torn between sitting at the one desk in the room that he shared with his dormmate, Kay, or on the bed with Jyn. The chair seemed too distant and formal, the bed too close and personal, even if a part of him wanted to sit on the bed next to her, lay his hand on the small of her back, maybe even under her shirt. He blinked to get that thought out of his head. He did not need treacherous thoughts about his classmate and sometimes friend that broke into his dorm to bother him and stole his favorite hoodie.
In the end, Jyn made up his mind for him, reaching out to snatch the edge of his shirt and tug him down towards her, making him clumsily sit down on the edge of the bed, just inches away from her. “Look at this video I got of Professor Krennic practicing his research award speech. It’s terrible.” Her hand left his shirt to fiddle with her phone and start the video. She had small hands that would’ve looked delicate if not for the old scars on her knuckles and blunt, uneven nails.
He forced himself to look at the phone. He did not ask her how she was able to capture embarrassing videos like this of their professors, but the secret of them thrilled him in an almost shameful way. He did not think about how he could smell the chlorine from the campus pool on her skin and hair, how her side had eventually rolled against his hip as his weight made the mattress sink towards him, how he really didn’t mind entering his dorm and finding her waiting for him. He didn’t think about a lot of things.
Instead, by the end of the video, Cassian was holding a barely contained grin and Jyn was snorting into her hand. When she glanced up at him to get his approval, her eyes shining with a hopeful sort of light, he managed to say, “That was…truly painful,” and she nodded her head triumphantly. She laid her head back down on her arms as she took to examining his carefully written Physics notes, so different from her chaotic ones, and didn’t move when the side of her head was close to brushing against his thigh.
Cassian breathed and he answered questions whenever Jyn asked them and he did not put his hand on the small of her back like he wanted, but he didn’t move away from her either. It was a good enough compromise.
Chapter 2: Invitation
Cassian attempts to invite Jyn to a party.
These next two chapters will be chronological and have to do with one another. It'll be obvious.
Where are you? (sent 5:26 pm)
Just got to swim practice. (sent 5:29 pm)
Cassian sighed as he looked away from his phone. It felt like Jyn was always at swim practice whenever he tried to initiate communication between them that didn’t involve her breaking into his dorm or suddenly appearing at his desk in class or at the library. But then he knew that it was the one thing that Jyn was dedicated to and she was good at it and enjoyed it, so he never faulted her for it either. He’d never seen her swim, but judging from what he’d seen of her body, she was probably good.
He furrowed his brow and squinted his eyes when that crossed his mind. Dangerous thought. He got rid of it as quickly as it came. His phone buzzed in his hand again. Assuming it was Kay, Cassian took his time to rifle through his backpack to make sure he had everything before looking at the text.
Meet me at the pool in two hours. (sent 5:31 pm)
Well, he could do that. It was a surprise, but he’d take it.
In the meantime, Cassian returned to his dorm to get a headstart on his homework for the weekend. He was going to need it if he actually went with this foolish plan. The first hour he spent studying and listening to acoustic music alone in his dorm, as Kay was still in class, but it wasn’t long before his dormmate stumbled in. Kay was tall and incredibly lanky, like his body couldn’t decide whether it wanted to be good at basketball or not. (He wasn’t.) He was very smart, but that included a smart mouth. Kay was also Cassian’s best friend, so he’d learned how to handle the other boy throughout the years.
“Oh, good,” Kay sighed in relief as he shouldered his way inside the small dorm room, carrying what looked like thirty pounds of books from the library. “She’s not here.”
Cassian didn’t even bother looking up from his highlighted textbook and notes. “She has a name, you know.”
“One that isn’t on our door,” Kay pointed out, sniffing dramatically as he dropped the books on the bottom bunk, which was Cassian’s. It had made sense to give Kay the top bunk with more space for him to stretch out. “I was beginning to think that she’d moved in here and it’s small as it is.”
“Yes, especially with your ego taking up almost half the space alone,” Cassian replied dryly.
The response did nothing to affect Kay, who merely harrumphed as he began to transfer the books one-by-one to the top bunk. He liked to read in bed whereas Cassian preferred the desk. It worked out perfectly when both of them were in here trying to do homework. As Kay got situated, he hummed along with the music under his breath, familiar with Cassian’s taste as much as his own, not noticing at first that Cassian was starting to finish up. They didn’t have any plans to hang out, but Kay sometimes assumed it on Friday nights.
Finally, after he had clambered up on his bed, Kay looked down and saw what Cassian was doing. “You’re leaving? But I just got here.”
“Don’t worry; I will be back soon.” Cassian shoved the rest of his notes into his backpack and then slid it under the bed. He had learned how to consolidate space a very long time ago when he was a child. Honestly, the dorm was kind of spacious if he thought about it. “I will play Assassin's Creed and you can watch, okay?”
“I don’t know how you do it,” Kay said as he settled into his bed and picked up a particularly hefty book. He found the page he was looking for and then grabbed a pen. “I’m terrible at stealth games.”
Cassian grinned. “You just do not have any patience.”
“You must have an endless amount,” Kay said, “if you’re able to deal with Erso.”
“Mmhm, you too, buddy,” Cassian countered as he slipped into a thin jacket. He had gone to grab his favorite hoodie first until remembering that it was conveniently missing and had been since Jyn “popped in for a visit” three weeks ago. He slipped his keys into his pocket and made sure that the dorm keycard was in his wallet before walking out.
“Tell her I said hi and to learn how to knock!” Kay called out right before the door shut. Of course Cassian didn’t have to say anything. There were very few reasons why Cassian would go out on a Friday evening without any pre-determined plans. Friday nights were his homework and gaming nights, so that he wasn’t rushed on Sundays before classes. He broke that rule for very few reasons and even less people.
It was a little chilly from the fall breeze, but it wasn’t too bad. The sun was mostly set, but other college kids were still running around, coming to and from night classes and extracurricular activities. Cassian wondered every now and then what it would be like to be one of those kids that was connected to college outside of classes and dorm life, but then he’d never been a club person. He liked going out with groups so he could blend in and talk with multiple people, but he preferred to do things on his own in the end. Kay said that he could be really popular if he wanted to be, but the problem was that Cassian didn’t want to be popular.
The natatorium was only a fifteen minute walk from the dorms, which made it convenient for a lot of reasons. It was open until nine so that people outside of the swim and diving teams could take their turn doing laps or for the swim lessons that some of the lifeguards, all college students, taught on the side. The pools were mostly empty save for a few people, as practice had ended ten minutes ago, but somehow Cassian was able to recognize one lithe form cutting through the water like a knife.
Cassian had seen Jyn in a swimsuit before, but only in a few pictures that he’d managed to see on social media. She was one of the smaller swimmers on the team, but he imagined her gliding through the water like a bullet. Seeing her now made him realize that he had been right. She was small and thin, but toned muscle hid underneath the multiple layers of clothing that she typically wore. She wasn’t going at full speed, doing a cooldown, but his eyes were locked onto the way her arms rhythmically rose and fell in the air and the subtle twists of her body. Before he knew it, he was hovering near the edge of the pool. Technically it had been over two hours.
Jyn must’ve somehow spotted him despite looking completely concentrated on her swimming as she slowed down and came to a stop upon reaching the wall. Floating effortlessly in the water, she slipped her goggles off and tossed them onto the ground at his feet. “You made it.” She glanced up at him as she tugged off her swim cap and undid her hair. Taking a breath, she briefly bobbed underneath the water before bursting back up and lifting herself out of the pool with practiced ease.
“I have never been here before,” Cassian noted as he peered around the pool, trying to look at anything but her. She was soaked, water dripping from her and sliding down her smooth skin, making her appear slick and tempting. Instead, he tried to look mildly curious, but mostly unaffected.
“Never?” Jyn asked as she walked towards the bleachers. He followed her, being careful not to step in the puddles that trailed behind her. “Not even to just relax?” He shook his head. She picked up a towel and began to rub at her hair in a half-hearted attempt to dry it. “You do know how to swim, right?”
“Of course,” Cassian scoffed.
Jyn grinned. “Because I could teach you if you don’t. I’ve got late night access here.”
Late at night, alone with Jyn, with him in nothing but his swim trunks and her in a skintight bathing suit? That sounded like a recipe for disaster. He didn’t even need Kay around to know that. Cassian shook his head again, trying to smile politely, but it came off as thin and tight instead. Jyn seemed to get the picture as she snorted and went back to toweling her hair. Difficult woman. He did not like the fact that she had such a good read on him.
“So what’s up?” Jyn asked as she began to wrap another towel around her body. Cassian blinked, startled by the sudden switch in conversation. “Seemed like you wanted something when you texted me earlier.”
The text message. He’d asked her where she was and she had willingly invited him to meet her in what he considered her sanctioned area. Now that he was here though, with her standing in front of him, Cassian found that he wasn’t quite sure what to say. He had kind of planned on asking her via text, but had gotten caught up in her inviting him here that he’d forgot and hadn’t figured out how he wanted to do this. Jyn arched an eyebrow as she waited for him to continue. He wanted to propose the question delicately, seeing as how Jyn could be prickly for strange reasons, but instead did nothing of the sort.
“There is a party tomorrow and I wanted to see if you would like to come with me.”
A brief silence fell between them, nothing but the sounds of two other swimmers making laps in the pool behind them as they stared at one another. Cassian refused to look anything but impassive, but he was cringing on the inside. That was...not how he’d wanted it to come out. If he tried to backtrack though, she would either tease him or think that he was teasing her. He had found on more than one painful occasion that she either did not take compliments well or didn’t believe them. What had made her so suspicious?
“A party. With you.”
“Well, not with me -- I mean, with me, as in arriving together,” Cassian attempted to explain. The attempt was poor at best. He was very good at talking with people -- until suddenly he wasn’t and tried to blast his way through any awkwardness. “Kay is coming too, but he is not very, well…”
“Much of a party person?” Jyn offered. That was one way of putting it. Cassian nodded his head. “To be honest, I didn’t peg you, Cassian Andor, as the type of person to go to a party either.”
Cassian shrugged his shoulders. “Han Solo is hosting it -- off campus. You’re right; it is not my thing, but it is a good place to meet and make connections with upperclassmen. And it sounds like it could be...fun.”
Jyn laughed. “If it’s being thrown by Solo, then it’s going to be a little more than fun.” Of course Solo’s reputation would precede him. He was a senior who had gained notoriety by being able to smuggle alcohol back when he’d lived on campus. Rumor had it that he had thrown parties in the dorms that covered entire floors, but no one ever ratted him out if they got caught with alcohol by RAs, even if everyone knew that Solo was the one bringing it in. Now that he lived off campus, his parties were well-known and invites were sought after hard. “How’d you get an invite?”
“Leia Organa is in my Philosophy class,” Cassian explained. “He has been hounding her to come to one of his parties and she finally agreed, but only if she could invite some of her friends too.”
“You being one of the lucky ones,” Jyn said in a wry tone. The way her lips twisted suggested something else besides humor, though he couldn’t imagine what it was.
“And you, if you want to come,” Cassian quickly added. “I am not very close to her, but she told me that I could invite anyone that would make things more comfortable.”
Jyn’s head tilted as she gazed at him, her eyes shining dangerously. He didn’t look away from her, not even when she took a step closer to him. He couldn’t tell if he was smelling the chlorine on her or from the air in the room, but she seemed quite close. “And I make things more comfortable for you?”
“Sometimes,” Cassian admitted because right now he was very much not comfortable but it wasn’t bad either. He just felt like squirming under the intensity of her gaze and proximity of her body. Were he another guy, perhaps someone more like Solo, he would’ve reached out to her, put his hand on her waist, and pulled her closer to him despite the wet towel. Maybe if he got rid of some of this tension, he’d be more comfortable. But instead, he stood stock still and looked down at her as a smile slowly spread across her face.
“Okay, I’ll go with you,” Jyn told him, “but on one condition.”
Cassian eyed her warily. What sort of conditions could she come up with? Would she tell him that she got to pick what he wore? Or maybe she wanted him to pick her up, except that his car was a jalopy at best. He could think of a lot of ways that Jyn might torture him for her own amusement. He also knew that he’d agree no matter what. It was a matter of stubbornness.
“Bodhi gets to come too,” Jyn said.
It took everything in Cassian not to sigh in relief, but he did visibly relax. “That’s it? Sure, sure, Bodhi is cool.”
In fact, he thought it was an even better idea that Bodhi came. It would make Kay feel better about Cassian inviting Jyn to the party without telling him, so he wouldn’t feel like a third wheel (even though that was ridiculous and he had tried to explain it to Kay multiple times.) Also Bodhi had a natural calming effect on Jyn, so she probably wouldn’t try to convince anyone to mud wrestle or something.
“So I’ll see you tomorrow then?” Jyn asked as she started to gather her things. He nodded his head again, his mind already trying to work around the details. How they would get there, if they should bring their own stuff, what he should wear. “I can’t wait to see what Captain Uptight Andor looks like drunk.”
“I am not going to get drunk,” Cassian protested, folding his arms across his chest.
Jyn smirked and leaned in, like she was going to kiss him on the cheek or something. “That’s what you think now.” And then she was walking to the locker room to shower, waving a hand at him.
Cassian practically scowled at her back as she disappeared around the corner. No way was he going to get drunk with Jyn around. Who knew what she would do? Probably take pictures and convince him to do ridiculous things that would embarrass the hell out of him later. He’d only been drunk a handful of times and he knew what he was like: dangerously courageous and willing to do anything that he was dared to do. But what was that about him being uptight? He wasn’t uptight. Jyn was just teasing him again, knowing it’d get a rise out of him to make him want to prove her wrong.
(It unfortunately was working.)
This would be...interesting, Cassian told himself as he walked back to his dorm in the dark, a few streetlamps guiding his path. For the most part, he and Jyn hung out together outside of everything else. They didn’t do things with other people, save for the few people in their group, like Kay and Bodhi, and even that was pushing it. This felt different, like he was taking a step in another direction, except he didn’t really know where he was going.
But the moment Leia had told him that he could invite someone else, his first thought had been Jyn’s challenging face and her hand reaching out to him. It had been very easy to make his decision, even if he felt unsure now.
Chapter 3: Liquid Courage
The group goes to Han Solo's party and have an interesting, fun time.
Uhhh, this got a LOT longer than I planned, but then parties are hard to write about quickly. So much happens and things take time to happen. I basically just pictured the frat house and first college party I attended when I wrote this. Of course, I wasn't this lucky. I just got creepers out of it thanks to my drunk friend giving my phone number out to people.
The night began with a twist -- because of course it did. Right when Cassian was about to text Jyn that he was heading over, resigned to the fact that they would be using his POS car, he received a text from her saying that she was on her way. It was the first time she had ever warned him that she was coming over, something that had Kay raising his eyebrows over Cassian’s shoulders as he read the message himself. Cassian never bothered hiding his phone from Kay, who was tall enough to see over everything it seemed.
When they walked out, a car was just pulling up. The passenger window rolled down to reveal Jyn, who waved at them. Cassian and Kay glanced at one another, steeling themselves for the night, and then got in the back. She spun around in her seat to greet them, grasping the back of the seat. “Figured since you invited us, we should give you a ride.”
Kay looked around appreciatively. “I did not expect you to have such a clean car.”
“Oh, it’s not mine,” Jyn replied dismissively. “It’s Bodhi’s.”
Bodhi, who was driving, waved a hand. “Hi.”
“We appreciate the ride,” Cassian put in, knowing that Kay would fail to say anything. Not because he was rude, but because he simply forgot and thought the gratefulness was already implied.
“No problem,” Bodhi said. “It just gives me a reason to not get drunk.”
Jyn gave him a mournful look and reached out to ruffle Bodhi’s hair. The driver tried to jerk his head away, but laughed as she messed his hair up. “A shame too. He’s really quite a fun drunk. Loves to sing and dance.”
“Except I’m terrible at both,” Bodhi added.
Cassian couldn’t help but smile. There was definitely something about Bodhi that smoothed Jyn out. She became softer around him, more at ease. Perhaps it was because Cassian had the same effect on her at times that Jyn had on him. Mostly comfortable, but sometimes incredibly tense out of nowhere. Bodhi was an all-around good guy, if not a bit talkative if he got on a subject he liked or was nervous, but it was easy to see that she was fond of him and even when he was nervous she was relaxed.
“Have you ever been to one of these parties?” Jyn asked as they pulled off campus.
“No, they are not my thing, as you pointed out,” Cassian answered. He didn’t care if it made him sound lame. At least Kay didn’t pipe up that it was because Cassian was too busy studying or playing video games and eating cheap jalapeno poppers for dinner or something like that. It would make him sound like a lame nerd. “But I did not think I should turn down the invitation either. It sounded fun.”
“Oh, they’re a bit more than that,” Jyn laughed.
“Have you been to one?” Kay questioned.
“Only once.” Before Kay could demand how, she continued, “I know some of the people that run in the same circles as Solo. It’s not like I got a personal invite.” She smiled at them, but there was something wolfish about it, like she knew things that they didn’t. Seeing as how she had been to a Solo party before and they didn’t, she very likely did. “It was very...interesting. Things can get rowdy and turn into a mess and some of the people seem downright unsavory compared to college kids, but Solo is pretty good at setting ground rules. Anyone that causes too much trouble gets thrown out and banned.”
“Sounds hypocritical to me,” Kay said. He had a high opinion of everyone outside of Cassian clearly.
Jyn shrugged her shoulders. “It takes a ruffian to deal with ruffians.”
The house in question was too far away from campus. It was in a little neighborhood with just enough distance from other houses to give neighbors some peace and mind. From what Cassian had heard, Solo had a deal with his neighbors so that he could throw these infamous parties. Cassian could not deny being intrigued. His eyes were glued on the house as they parked, watching people stumble about in the lawn and conversing, but when he looked away, he found that Jyn’s eyes were on him. She turned in her seat quickly. He couldn’t tell if she was embarrassed at being caught or if she was merely ready to get out of the car.
Unfortunately, Cassian found that he still had a few nerves left. He thought that he had rid himself of them long ago in the foster care system, but it appeared as if a few had straggled on, just to cause him social anxiety at a college house party. How inconvenient. Kay didn’t seem to mind at all, but then he was oblivious to most things. Nothing bothered him. He’d get to talking and loosen up after a few drinks. Jyn seemed utterly confident as they walked to the house. Only when he spotted Bodhi, subconsciously reaching up to adjust the goggles he wore for work but weren’t there, did he realize that he was not alone in being slightly nervous.
They pushed their way inside, Bodhi offering unheard apologies, both Kay and Jyn dead silent, and Cassian falling somewhere in between. Upon reaching the living room, someone called out his name and they all froze. Leia Organa managed to squeeze herself through the dancing mob, somehow managing to look radiant and very daring in a pretty white outfit, and threw her arms around Cassian, pulling him down into a hug that he somewhat stiffly returned. If she noticed, she didn’t care.
“You made it!” Leia exclaimed. “I’m so relieved. Most of the people I invited haven’t shown up yet.”
Cassian scratched the back of his head. “You invited me. It would have been rude of me to turn the offer down.”
Leia’s smile was bright and genial, making it very obvious why people gravitated towards her. She greeted all of them warmly, shaking Kay’s hand and introducing herself to Bodhi, though it was unnecessary. Jyn was the last one, hanging in the back, her arms folded across her chest. She didn’t look happy, but she didn’t look mad either, just wary for the first time.
“You must be Jyn,” Leia said in a more careful tone. Jyn glanced at Cassian, probably wondering how her name was known since she wasn’t well-known throughout the campus. Leia was smart though: she caught the look on Jyn’s face and a conspiratorial yet amused expression crossed her face. “Cassian told me about you when I invited him to the party.”
Jyn looked surprised, her eyes widening and mouth parting slightly. Cassian looked away before she could connect eyes with him again, clearing his throat, determined not to blush. His face felt hot though. If he kept his attention on the lopsided pictures on the wall, he wouldn’t have to look back at her. Kay huffed dramatically, either annoyed with Cassian’s refusal to admit things or with the fact that he’d talked about Jyn in the first place.
“But we’re here to have fun now!” Leia exclaimed cheerfully. “Come with me into the kitchen. It’s a bit grimy, but I’ll get you all some drinks.”
“I thought this was Han Solo’s party,” Kay pointed out, but he followed her regardless. They all did. Now that people recognized her, they gave her room to walk so that they didn’t have to fight their way through.
Leia winked. “We’ll let him keep thinking that, shall we?”
Kay didn’t know how to respond to that, so he stayed quiet, looking a little bemused. Cassian pat him on the back. Best not to overthink it. Solo had it bad for Leia and, since this was her first time here, he had likely told his group to make sure that no matter what, she was having a good time. Little did he realize that he was handing her this party on a silver platter. Luckily, Leia was a generous person, if not fiery.
True to her word, Leia got them all something to drink. Cassian was not surprised that Jyn stuck with a simple beer while both Kay and Bodhi opted for something fruity to hide the taste of alcohol. She seemed to have warmed up to Leia, but she was still cool and strangely quiet. The confidence she’d had walking in here was subdued as she held onto the beer with two hands, her fingers delicately laid over top one another. His eyes moved around the room, trying to think of something, when he finally spotted just what he needed.
Picking up the bottle and two small shot glasses, Cassian pushed his way over to her. “Shot?”
Jyn let one hand drop and lifted the other to take a swig of the beer, her eyes latched onto his. He didn’t look away, returning the challenging look. “Sure you can handle that?”
“Please,” Cassian scoffed, “it’s tequila.” He smiled. “Unless you cannot?”
Using her free hand, Jyn snatched the liquor bottle out of his hand. “Set the glasses down. No need to dirty dishes.” She titled the bottom of the bottle up, taking what looked like a monster swig, and then quickly chased the shot with a few gulps of her beer. He couldn’t decide whether to be impressed or scared, so he settled on merely gaping at her. She closed her eyes and took a few breaths to steady herself before opening them again and shoving the bottle against his chest. “Your turn.”
Cassian wiped the look off his face as he set the shot glasses down and took the bottle from her, a little harder than he’d intended. He took the same shot, but only needed one gulp of his beer to chase it. He slammed the bottle on the counter and grinned down at her. “Wasn’t so bad.”
“Oh yeah?” Jyn narrowed her eyes, took another swig of her beer. He did the same. Warmth tingled in his belly from the liquor. Luckily he’d eaten a hardier dinner than usual. No way was he getting sick. Besides, this wasn’t his first time taking shots, despite his so-called goodie-two-shoe ways. “Say, how are you at beer pong?”
“I have been told I have excellent aim,” Cassian replied. “Why? Want to be partners?”
“No,” Jyn said, stepping close enough to him so that her chest was barely brushing against his. He stopped himself from sucking in a gasp of air. She tilted her chin up and smirked at him, the look she always gave him whenever she got this close to him, the kind that made him want to lean down and wipe it away. “I want to destroy you at it.” Without warning, she brushed past him and shouted, “Shara! Want to partner with me and call next? We’ll mop the table with these boys.”
Cassian took a deep breath and raised his head. Stay cool. He had to stay cool. But he felt as if he had been holding his breath ever since he took that shot.
“You’re doing it,” Kay proclaimed disapprovingly.
“Doing what?” Cassian demanded, turning to face his dormmate.
Kay sipped on his drink. “Don’t feign innocent with me.” He wagged a finger at him. “You can trick others with that face, but not me.”
“I am not feigning anything,” Cassian replied, but then his eyes caught Jyn in the crowd and he stiffened when she stuck her tongue out at him. She disappeared into the other room with the girl she’d called out, a mutual friend he hadn’t known they had, leaving him with a scoffing Kay and a polite Bodhi pretending to know nothing. “If you will excuse me, I am going to walk around the place.”
“To find Erso?” Kay asked.
“No,” Cassian said forcefully before he walked in the opposite direction she had gone.
He wasn’t. He had been the one to invite her to this party; he wasn’t going to follow her around like some sort of forlorn puppy. Just because he wasn’t familiar to these sort of things didn’t mean that he was a social disaster. He knew how to mingle. He was pretty good at it too once he put his mind to it. Talking came naturally to him, but what he was really good at was getting other people to talk to him. Alcohol made it that much easier. He would not look for Jyn. He would wait for her to come to him. He didn’t understand a lot of her motives, but he knew that she would do that.
Thirty minutes later, as he stood in the backyard by a bonfire talking with a group containing a handful of college students, someone who may or may not have been dealing drugs, and a flight student, Jyn found him. One second the flight student was on his right and the next Jyn was at his elbow. Her hand stopped short of his arm when he turned back to look back at her.
“Still want to play?”
“Of course,” Cassian told her. “How else am I going to knock that ego down a peg?”
Jyn snorted. “Do you have a partner?”
“Hm, let me see…” Cassian glanced around and then clapped the flight student on the shoulder. “Kes, would you like to help me show the ropes to these ladies at beer pong?” Kes, the young man in question, looked taken aback, clearly not prepared to being called out. He was slick in a plane, but apparently had trouble elsewhere. Another beer and he’d be good. “Shara is playing.”
“I, uh--” Kes smiled nervously, but he was looking at Shara when he did so. The girl laid an arm on Jyn’s shoulder, taller than her, and leaned her head on top of Jyn’s in a show of physical affection that made Cassian strangely jealous. “Sure, Cassian, yeah, I can play. I’ve only played a few times though...”
“Do not worry about it.” Cassian held out a hand, allowing Jyn and Shara to lead the way. The two boys followed dutifully. One of the beer pong games was just finishing up, the losers chugging the rest of their drinks. All four helped reset the table, filling the cups with water instead of beer. This place might be a madhouse, but please, they weren’t above sanitation. “Need I remind anyone of the rules?”
“No,” Jyn said, throwing him a ping pong. He snatched it out of the air. Both of them stepped up to face off to see whose team went first. The first shot, their balls somehow managed to hit one another. Both Shara and Kes missed theirs. When Cassian and Jyn faced off again, Cassian sunk one in while Jyn missed by a hair. She smiled, but with her teeth, obviously displeased. “Age before beauty.”
Cassian chuckled as he handed a ping pong to Kes and lined up for a shot. “Calling yourself beautiful?”
“Do you not think I am?” Jyn asked innocently.
He missed his first shot so badly that Kes coughed and Shara laughed.
Oh, no, now Jyn was really going down. Cassian glared at her, ignoring Kes missing his shot as well, as she looked back at him smugly. The game was on. If she thought that he might go easy on her, well, she was wrong.
Kes had been honest when he’d said that he had only played a few times. He wasn’t that good. He got steadily better throughout the game, but kept drinking even out of turn, so that eventually he became a bit sloppy. Shara was sharp and Jyn was good as well. They made a very dangerous duo. He could definitely see why Jyn had immediately picked Shara as her teammate. They had done this before.
But Cassian hadn’t been lying. He was an excellent shot. He picked up Kes’ slack with ease and was bolstered by his partner’s confidence in him. Refusing to let Jyn get to him anymore, he kept an eye on any bounces. She caught one of his, smacking the ball so hard it knocked a guy in the back of the head and he almost started a fight. He was tossed out by a guy with shaggy brown hair that was somehow even taller than Kay and a lot more intimidating.
They were neck and neck in the end, one cup on each end and on their second drinks besides Kes who had gone through three beers. Neither one of them seemed capable of hitting the last cup. Jyn’s bounced off the edge every time while Shara either undershot or overshot. Kes’ aims were nowhere near, sometimes missing the table completely, while Cassian’s just barely missed. One slid around the lip, but Jyn had leaned down and almost gently blown it out of the cup. He had not enjoyed watching that happen one bit.
“I thought you were a sharpshooter,” Jyn teased.
“I thought you were going to destroy me,” Cassian threw back.
Kes cleared his throat and stepped forward, slightly swaying on his feet. He had the ping pong ball in one hand and a mixed drink in the other. Where had that come from? He lobbed the ball in the air and all of them watched as it plopped a few inches away from the cup and then bounced right in. “Oh,” was all he said.
Cassian didn’t care if he hadn’t done it himself. “We won!” People cheered around them. He could almost kiss the other boy for the sour look on Jyn’s face, but didn’t. Instead, he hugged Kes, who wore a loopy if not embarrassed grin, and took the drink out of his hands. Poor kid needed a break and deserved one after winning the game. Kes didn’t even notice, not when Shara came over to congratulate him.
As the next game was being set up, Cassian swung around the table towards Jyn, who was finishing her drink as per the rules. He couldn’t stop the broad grin from splitting across his face. “Well, that settles it.”
“I suppose it does,” Jyn replied before tossing her empty beer into a trash can. Again she wore that not happy but not mad look that he wasn’t sure what to make of. She had a more difficult time hiding how she felt than he did, especially after drinking, so she forced her expression into something else. “I suppose you get something since you’re the winner and all.”
“I was not aware that the victor got a prize,” Cassian said, still feeling high off his victory. He would have to thank Kes later when the boy was of sound mind and not completely focused on a very pretty girl. Because he was still feeling good about himself though, he didn’t catch the intent in her voice.
A strange look flittered across Jyn’s face: a cross between daring and shy. Her eyes hardened, but then she bit her lip, the two emotions contrasting beautifully on her face, like she was afraid of something but was going to do it anyways. “How about a dance?”
The high was quickly fading, replaced by the steady buzz of alcohol. He let her take his hand and guide him into the very dimly lit living room where the music was thumping the loudest. If he had been able to pay attention to anyone but Jyn, who was gazing up at him determinedly, he would’ve seen Kay animatedly telling a story to two gawking girls while Bodhi looked on in amusement. He would’ve seen that Leia was actually dancing with Han Solo of her own violation. He might’ve noticed a hundred things that would’ve made him laugh.
But Cassian could only look at Jyn.
Both of them were either too nervous or uncoordinated due to the alcohol to dance well enough, but he didn’t care. She looped her arms around his neck and he slipped his around her waist, pulling her close to him so that her body was flush against his. She was soft yet firm, pliant in his arms as they moved messily to the beat. No one was dancing well here, but it didn’t matter. The room was hot and smothering and the music drowned out any chance of a conversation.
He pressed his forehead against hers and closed his eyes, just feeling the way she felt against him. This was the closest he had ever gotten to her. Normally, one of them pulled away, like the pull was too much to bear. With the help of alcohol though, he could ignore the fear that usually settled in his gut. He liked having her this close, wanted her closer even though he was close enough for her breath to mingle with his. She smelled like beer and tequila and mint. He kept his hands on her waist despite the urge to let them roam. He didn’t want to push his luck and have her running away on him if he misread things.
And then she spun around, sliding under his hands, and pressed back against him that forced him to hitch his breath. His hands moved to the front of her thighs, then one back to her waist again. He had to get control over himself. They were in public, after all, and he was acting like an idiot. Except then she slid down before grinding back up against him, this time causing him to bury his face in the crook of her neck and groan. Her skin was soft yet slightly slick. He had to pull away before he did something stupid.
She was trying to kill him. This hadn’t been a prize. This was torture.
“Jyn,” he breathed into her ear, loud enough for her to hear over the music.
“Hm?” She kept dancing against him.
Cassian pulled her tight against. “You have to stop.”
“Why?” So innocent and coy. She was playing with him. This was her revenge for losing. When she turned around to face him, it took every inch of his sanity that hadn’t been taken over by the alcohol and Jyn to not pull her into a hungry, demanding kiss.
“Because you are a very cruel girl,” Cassian told her.
“Not enjoying it?”
Oh, he was definitely enjoying it. Too much. Uncomfortably too much. Great, now he was going to have to excuse himself to the bathroom to calm down and there was probably a line. Awful, terrible girl. Even worse, if she was doing this, then she knew what effect she had on him. She knew . They were supposed to be friends, as strange as the friendship was. How was he supposed to face her now?
“Jyn,” he said again, because he didn’t know what else to say.
It was only then that he noticed how heavily she was breathing. Her mouth was parted slightly as she breathed, her chest rising and falling, and her eyes… It was dark in the room, but he could see how blown her pupils were when a random light flashed on her face. She’d stopped dancing, but she didn’t pull away from him. Only a few inches separated the two of them. He could kiss her now and no one would even notice probably. He wanted to and he thought, crazily enough, that she did too.
“There you two are!”
Both Cassian and Jyn jerked away from one another and whipped around to face whoever had shouted at them. It was, predictably, Kay, who was too drunk to notice what he’d interrupted. Even on accident, he managed to burst in at the most inopportune times. Curse Kay for being such a light weight.
“Where have you been?” Kay demanded. He blinked down at them. “Oh, you’re both sweaty . Gross.”
Jyn glanced around, looking everywhere but the two boys. “I, ah, I need some air.”
“I’ll get us something to drink,” Cassian added. Both of them darted out of the living room, leaving Kay on his own. It was rude and Cassian would apologize later, but right now, Kay was probably too drunk to notice how awkward the two of them had suddenly become. He merely huffed and waved a frantic hand at Bodhi while Cassian hurried to the bathroom instead.
After waiting in line and using the restroom, Cassian went to the kitchen to get two more drinks. He was waiting patiently, his mind elsewhere, when someone bumped into him and he glanced backwards.
“Oh, sorry!” It was only Luke Skywalker though, Leia’s twin brother. As nice as Leia was, it was very obvious to everyone that Luke was the nicer of the two. Unlike her, he had been raised in the country and was polite in a way that was extraordinarily genuine. “This place was built like a haphazard jigsaw puzzle.”
“It is nothing,” Cassian said. He got along well with Luke, though he was closer to Leia. The boy was endlessly friendly though in a way that Cassian felt like he could only match when faking it. Luke was the kind of person that was potentially capable of befriending a person that was trying to mug him. He just had a way about him that convinced anyone to listen to him. It was hard to stay mad at him.
“Say, I didn’t know you had a girlfriend,” Luke pointed out as both of them grabbed their drinks.
“What?” Cassian turned around and gave him a confused look. “I do not--” Ah, so Luke had seen him and Jyn dancing then. He did his best not to flush. “She is not my girlfriend. We are friends. That is all.”
Luke smiled, but his eyes glanced at the two beers in Cassian’s hand before returning to his face. “Of course. My apologies again. I’m stumbling all over the place. Not used to drinking really.” He pat Cassian on the arm. “I’ll see you around!”
After that debacle, Cassian shoved his way through the crowd until he could get outside. It was dark and it was hard to tell the difference between people, but he finally spotted Jyn standing in front of the bonfire he had been near earlier, except she was alone and staring into it silently. More subdued again. He thought it was being around so many people for so long. It wore her out. She wasn’t as capable at spreading her energy around like he was. Came from being something of a loner. Swimming was a loner sport, even during relays, from what he’d seen.
“Hey,” Cassian greeted quietly, holding out the beer for her. Jyn took it, nodding at him, but then went back to staring into the fire.
It would’ve been cold out if not for the warmth of the flames. A part of him wished that she would lean against him or he was brave enough to move closer to her, but they didn’t. He didn’t find her silence discomforting. It felt good to be quiet after all the noise of the party and the struggle in his head. He thought about making a joke about s’mores, but then couldn’t find the right words, so he merely stayed quiet.
Then, out of nowhere, he felt something brush against his hand. It happened again until he realized that it was her free hand, which was dangling down at her side. She moved to put her hand in her pocket, but then he grasped it, fitting her fingers in between his. She didn’t look at him or so much as smile, only took a swig of her drink, but she gripped his hand tightly so that he could not mistake her intent whatsoever.
This, he couldn’t help but think, holding hands with her, felt almost as intimate as dancing with her, if not more, because it was soft and gentle, none of the things she showed others. Maybe she had just needed a little liquid courage to get there herself. He could understand that. It even made him smile a little, but he hid it by taking a drink of his beer. It was a good party, the best one he’d ever been to, and the night felt like it had just begun.
Chapter 4: Revelations
After a surprise encounter with someone from the past, Jyn opens up to Cassian and they take a crucial step forward in whatever the hell is going on between them.
You can take the (cliché) trope this chaptered ends on from my cold, dead hands.
A week had passed since the party and he’d only seen Jyn once and that had been for the physics class they shared. There hadn’t been time to talk because of a test and so he’d honestly been more focused on the paper in front of him than the girl beside him. By the time he managed to finish his test and lift his head, she was already gone, having sped through it. He hoped she hadn’t rushed it on purpose and missed a few answers. She was smarter than that, but she was also terribly impatient.
Once or twice, he expected her to appear in his dorm like she usually did at least once a week, but she never came. He would’ve thought about it, but he was too busy studying for his other mid-term exams coming up. The only contact between them was a few sporadic texts. He did not tell her that he missed her because that would be sappy and admitting something that he didn’t even want to admit to himself. Besides a few random gifs and memes to describe their current drowning in schoolwork, their conversations remained brief and impersonal.
Cassian really did miss her though. Kay had even pointed out that Cassian was acting more sullen than normal, although he had the decency to not hypothesize on whether it had anything to due with Jyn’s absence.
Physics came again and Cassian showed up on time as usual. He watched the clock tick down until class was about to start, anxiously glancing at Jyn’s empty seat, when the door burst open and the girl in question slunk into the room. He was somewhat startled to see that she was wearing his high school hoodie, his favorite one that had been suspiciously missing for a few weeks. It was larger on her, the sleeves bunched up so that only the tips of her fingers poked out and hanging midway down her thighs, but it looked cozy. He looked away, wondering if anyone noticed, but then no one here knew what small-town high school he’d graduated from.
The only person that would recognize that hoodie and knew what it meant was him.
Jyn slid into the seat next to him, looking like she was doing her best to hide in his hoodie and behind her backpack which she sat on top of her desk. Cassian opened his mouth to say something to her when the door opened again and an unfamiliar man stepped inside. He had an easy air about him that still somehow managed to command attention. Cassian shut his mouth. Whatever was up with Jyn, he’d have to find out after class.
“Good afternoon, class,” the man greeted as he set his satchel on the desk up front. “Your professor unexpectedly went into early labor and is enjoying some quality time with her newborn, so I will be taking over the class for the rest of the semester. I must confess that it’s been a while since I’ve taught such a low level of Physics so please feel free to call me out if I begin to sound ridiculous.” He smiled pleasantly at them. “My name is Galen Erso, but call me whatever. I’ve been stuck around stuffy academics and scientists for far too long.”
Cassian immediately snapped to attention. Galen Erso. He didn’t know the man, but… Erso - as in Jyn Erso . The man up front had to be Jyn’s father or uncle at least. Cassian tried to surreptitiously glance at Jyn, maybe catch eyes with her, but she was doing her best to avoid looking at anyone, especially him and their new professor. In fact, she was acting like she wasn’t even here.
That was a terrible sign. There was no way he was going to be able to simply get an answer out of her.
The entire class, Cassian’s attention was divided between the professor and Jyn, but it left him without really knowing what happened by the time the hour was up. When class was over, she all but ran out of the classroom without so much as a glance towards their new professor. For his part, he sighed as he looked sadly at the closing door and then began to pack up his things. Cassian was slower, allowing classmates to pass him, as he tried to get a better look at the man.
As if knowing that he was being watched, Galen glanced up, but Cassian ducked his head and fell into step behind a few other students to keep himself out of view. By the time he was in the hallway, Jyn was nowhere to be seen. He knew better than to text her. She either wouldn’t respond or would deflect. This was clearly something very personal and, if she wanted to talk about it, she would do so in her own time. He could pry all he wanted, but that would probably just cause her to keep her distance from him as well and he definitely didn’t want that.
And so he went about the rest of his day, although he couldn’t help but glance at his phone. No messages from her appeared on his screen. He didn’t know what he was expecting -- some grand reveal, a thorough explanation when she’d never given one before about anything -- but he was still frustrated. By the time he returned to his dorm, irritation and concern had built up inside him to a boiling point and he tossed his backpack on his bed hard enough that it hit the wall.
Kay peered down and then at Cassian from his perch on the top bunk. “What did that backpack do to you? Did a strap break?”
“What?” Cassian looked up, distracted, and realized that he hadn’t even noticed that his dormmate was in the room. “Nothing -- it did nothing.”
“I’d hate to see when something does do something against you then,” Kay replied before returning his comic book.
Cassian was unpacking his things with more care when a knock at the door came. The two boys glanced at each other in confusion, each silently questioning the other, and then at the door. Neither one of them were expecting a guest. Maybe it was the RA, come to check on them after the thump against the wall. Since he was already down there, Cassian went to the door, ready to apologize for the noise, but found himself surprised instead to find Jyn skulking in the doorway.
“You knocked,” was the only thing Cassian could think to say.
“Yeah, well, you were already in here,” Jyn pointed out, like that made any sense whatsoever. She had her arms folded across her chest. Also, she was still wearing his hoodie. “Can I come in or are you busy?”
“Kay’s here,” Cassian said, like that made any sense. He didn’t know why he’d said it; maybe it was because she usually tended to stay away from the dorm if Kay was there. He couldn’t tell if it was because she didn’t like Kay or he didn’t like her.
Before she could say anything, Kay climbed down from the bunk. “Oh, don’t worry about me . I have to go to the library.” He put his coat on and picked up an assortment of comics lying on top of the desk. “I’ll be back later.” He didn’t say anything to Jyn as he stepped out of the dorm and she moved out of the way. Cassian scratched the back of his head. Had Kay left because of Jyn or had he really needed to go to the library? If it was the former, Cassian would have to apologize and he didn’t even know what for.
Jyn lifted her chin. “So, can I come in?”
“Well, since you asked so kindly…” Cassian took a step back and she slipped inside. He shut the door and turned to watch as she moved to sit on his bed. She always chose the bed to sit, never the chair, and it always forced him to make a difficult decision on where he was supposed to sit or where she wanted him to sit. Sometimes, it felt like two very different things. Judging from her caginess earlier though, the chair seemed his best bet. She clearly wanted to see him for some reason, but she wanted her distance as well.
He sat down in the chair and tried not to watch as she fidgeted on the bed. There was so much restless energy built up inside of her. He wondered if she’d gone to swim practice. She never skipped -- her coach, Gerrera, was too much of a hard ass to allow that to happen -- but he didn’t see her as being capable of focusing for that long. She was too wired.
Cassian really wanted to ask her what was wrong or why she had come here, but he couldn’t get the words to come out of his mouth. Instead, he said, “You’re wearing my hoodie.”
“Hm?” The same distracted response that he’d had just a few minutes ago with Kay. Her mind was elsewhere. Jyn glanced down and her eyebrows raised, like she had just noticed that the hoodie wasn’t hers. “Oh, yeah, I was cold and I--” She looked up at him, but her eyes didn’t focus on him. “You can have it back.”
Without warning, Jyn reached down and grabbed the hem, jerking it over her head. Along with the hoodie came most of her t-shirt underneath, exposing her stomach and most of her ribcage, and his breath hitched for a second as he gawked at the smooth skin he’d guilty daydreamed about touching. But when Cassian caught a glimpse of her black bra, he panicked and shot forward.
“No, no!” He almost touched her, but pulled his hands back at the last second. She let go and allowed it to fall back down, covering her up again. Cassian tried to put on a reassuring smile, but it probably clashed horribly with how red his face was. “You can keep it. Really, it’s fine. Besides, it’s, uh, cold outside.”
Nice recovery, Andor, he thought sourly.
Jyn eyed him, but then nodded her head and folded her hands in her lap. He could’ve spent the next five minutes thinking about how it would feel to splay his hands against her bare ribcage, but Jyn said the one thing that killed any possible chances to daydream about such a dangerous thing. “Our new physics professor is my father.”
“Ah,” Cassian sighed, replaying the events of the class in his head, “I suspected as much.” She took a breath and gazed down at her hands. The urge to switch to sitting next to her crossed his mind, but he couldn’t tell if that would make her more distant or not. Much like him, she didn’t like pity and he was worried any gesture of comfort might come off as such. “You don’t seem happy about it.”
“It’s not that.” Jyn huffed. “It’s just that -- I haven’t seen him in a while. He’s some important scientist or whatever. His work kept him gone from home a lot. Even after my mom’s death...he just wasn’t there a lot.”
Cassian’s hands clenched. For as long as they had been strange friends, neither one of them had talked about their family. He hadn’t known that her father was a scientist or a professor nor had he known that her mother was dead. He didn’t know how to respond. It didn’t seem like it was the proper time to announce that his mother was also dead, along with his father, and had been for most of his life. He also didn’t think she wanted him to say that he was sorry or that he understand what she was going through, mostly because he didn’t. His father would never step back into his life to show up as one of his professors.
“He didn’t say anything to you before coming here?” Cassian asked.
Jyn bobbed her head. “He called a few times, but I didn’t answer. I guess that one’s on me.”
“Are you...mad at him?” Cassian would’ve given a lot to see his father again, but then he had very few memories left. It appeared as if Jyn had the same problem, but not because her father had passed away. Dead was very different from absent. Perhaps because it had been many years and he could barely remember the day he’d become an orphan, absent sounded a lot more painful.
“No,” Jyn replied defensively, and then-- “Yes, maybe. I don’t know.” She blew out some air. “He was a very loving and attentive father when he was there. And he would call while he was away for work. I’d spend hours waiting by the phone on the days I knew he was going to call.”
In a way, Cassian could understand that. After his parents’ deaths, his entire life had become one big waiting game. There was the time spent in the foster care system, then in foster homes, then bouncing between distant relatives. It didn’t matter. He was always waiting for the day he would be passed on to the next person. It wasn’t that he had been a disruptive or even difficult child. He just never seemed to be enough or he was too much.
Honestly, he didn’t begrudge anyone for not keeping him, but it hadn’t built in him a healthy sense of trusting or a desire to build connections. Kay was perhaps not only his longest friendship, but the only person to remain consistently in his life once becoming a part of it. It struck Cassian quite suddenly that while he hadn’t known Jyn for nearly as long, he would’ve been hurt if she left. When had that happened?
“Who did you live with while he was gone?”
At this, Jyn actually laughed. “Gerrera, if you can believe it. He and my parents were old friends. It’s how I got into swimming.” It still shocked Cassian every time to see Gerrera and know that the mildly out-there man had almost been on the Olympic swim team. The laughter died quickly from Jyn and her face went blank. Her eyes though -- her eyes were very sad. “I don’t want to talk about it, to be honest.”
“That’s fine.” Cassian was good at drawing things out of people, but he figured it was because he knew how to wait. He could be patient. He gave people time, allowed them to feel comfortable before opening it. People tended to talk more when they were comfortable. He grabbed the laptop next to him. “Want to watch a movie? Kay has a serious problem with illegal downloading, but he finds the best quality ones.”
“Cassian,” Jyn exclaimed in mock-incredulity, her eyes glittering, “I didn’t know you broke the law so casually.”
A smirk crossed his face. “What can I say? I’m a rebel.”
She smiled at him and pulled her legs up on the bed, scooting so that her back was against his pillows and she was pressed against the wall, allowing him ample space beside her. He knew what that meant and it was simple, but his heart raced in his chest nonetheless. After turning off the light, he crawled in next to her and they both kicked off their shoes. She quickly found a movie that neither of them had seen and got it started.
There was no space in between them. Her side was pressed up against his, her hip and arm lined up against his. It was an awkward position, leaving them both scrunched up, and probably uncomfortable. Taking a quiet breath, Cassian squirmed until he could move his arm and then put it behind her shoulders. He did his best not to touch her, lest she think he was trying to make a move, but no contact was impossible. Only when she snuggled against him (to get a better view of the screen obviously) did he breathe and relax, allowing his arm to drape over her.
They didn’t speak much during the movie, only to make a few comments and crack a joke or two. It was a decent movie, but he felt spectacularly comfortable. They ended up watching another movie without a second thought. Both of them had been studying their asses off for midterms and deserved a break. Besides, Kay didn’t show back up, which meant that he was indeed at the library. He had a habit of staying there until the librarians kicked him out when he got sucked into something.
By the end of the second movie though, Jyn was drifting off. He could feel the way her head kept lolling against his chest and the way her breathing began to slow. When it was finally over, she’d fallen completely asleep. It appeared as if everything -- tests, studying, practice, emotions -- had worn her down. He carefully moved to put the laptop on the desk, the screen the only thing illuminating the room, but Jyn stirred anyways.
“Oh.” She rubbed at her face. “Damnit, I fell asleep.”
“No biggie, the bad guy died, the hero got the girl,” Cassian told her.
Jyn scoffed, but there was little energy behind it. “Boring.” She blinked and looked tiredly around the room. “I guess I should go.”
“You could stay,” Cassian found himself saying before even thinking about it. She peered up at him with a suggestive face, but didn’t move away either. He cleared his throat. “I mean, you’re clearly exhausted and walking tired in the cold this late at night would be...dangerous.”
“Is that how you convince all the other girls to sleep with you?” Jyn asked, her voice filled with mirth.
“I don’t--” Cassian snapped his mouth shut and stared down at her. She was so amused -- he could see it in her eyes -- but he could also tell that she was curious. Did she actually think that he wooed girls into his bed? With a roommate like Kay, that was highly unlikely and a recipe for disaster. Kay said he could be charming if he wanted to be, but Cassian just… Well, he never wanted to be. And he didn’t feel very charming right now. He felt more like an idiot. “We’d just be sleeping .”
“Hm, boring,” Jyn said again, which was utterly frustrating because he couldn’t tell if she meant it or not. Was she just teasing him again? Trying to get a rise out of him? Well, it wouldn’t work. Cassian had spent a lot of his life learning how to tamper down everything and not let things get to him. She stretched in the bed, lifting her arms and touching the wall, her lithe body touching his in multiple spots. No, she could not get a reaction out of him. “You wouldn’t mind?”
Cassian shook his head. “I wouldn’t have offered if I did.”
“He’ll get over it,” Cassian said. “I’ve spent years dealing with his insomnia. Sometimes, he acts like he’s not a human that doesn’t need sleep to function.”
She considered her options for a moment. To be honest, she didn’t look very tired anymore, but she did seem very unwilling to leave the bed. He couldn’t see why. Dorm beds weren’t very big or known for their comfort. Hers couldn’t be much better. “Okay, but I sleep in the nude.”
“ Jyn ,” Cassian strained, at once shocked and very inappropriately turned on. She was definitely teasing him and trying to get a reaction. That one, coupled with the sudden mental picture of her naked in his bed, almost got to him. He hurried out of the bed as she laughed and flopped down on the mattress. What a terrible girl. She was the worst. Why had he thought offering her to stay the night was a good idea?
“Seriously though,” Jyn continued, “do you have any shorts or boxers I could borrow? Jeans aren’t exactly cozy sleepwear.”
Cassian gave her a stern glower and then set to finding a pair of shorts for her. After handing them over, he turned around because he just knew that she was going to change right there. He could hear her sliding her pants off and putting the shorts on. What he was not expecting when he finally turned around was to see her magically pulling her bra off out from underneath the hoodie and dropping it on the floor next to her pants.
That was one step too far. “I’ll be back. Have to go to the restroom to wash up before I can sleep.” He snatched his things, ignoring the amused look on Jyn’s face, and hurried out of the room. Brushing his teeth had never been so strenuous. He tried to recall the questions from his Asian Religions study guide as he changed, forcing everything out of his mind. As long as he focused on that class, he’d be able to think of nothing else.
By the time he came back to the dorm, Jyn was already curled underneath the blanket. His hoodie had joined the rest of her discarded clothes, thankfully hiding her bra. He was quiet as he set his things down, thinking that she was asleep, but then she lifted the blanket when he turned towards the bed. Trying to act as cool as possible, he slipped in beside her. Warmth immediately enveloped him, not just from the blanket but also her body. It had been quite a while since he’d shared a bed with anyone. He’d forgotten how hot it got or how little space there was.
At first, Cassian tried to give her as much space possible, but that meant lying on his side and either facing her or turning his back to her. Like usual, she made the decision for him. At first, she wriggled closer to him, so that front of her body was pressed against his. He tried not to react, but took a sharp intake of breath at the feel of her soft breasts against his chest, the heat of her breath close to his neck, the way she gripped his shirt to pull him closer. It would’ve been fine if she hadn’t kept shifting to get comfortable, unintentionally rubbing against him.
“Is this, ah, not comfortable?” Cassian asked quietly, trying to mask the strain in his voice. They were so close, even closer now than they had been when they were dancing at the party. One of his hands found the small of her back and he almost instinctively pushed her closer. Admittedly, things were getting a little uncomfortable for him. If she didn’t stop, he didn’t think he’d--
No, he wasn’t some stupid asshole. He wouldn’t do anything. Jyn was his friend. They were friends. And he had told her that all they would be doing was sleeping. He wasn’t about to be the jackass that tried to do more after being so defensive about it. Saying that he wasn’t attracted to her in this moment and that he didn’t want her would have been a damn lie, but he’d take it to his grave if it meant keeping his friendship with Jyn intact and not betraying her trust. This entire night had been a step in that direction and he didn’t want to ruin it.
“Sorry,” Jyn sighed, and she indeed did sound apologetic, “it takes me a minute to get comfortable. And it’s…it’s been a hot minute since I’ve shared a bed with someone.”
“I can sympathize,” Cassian told her.
Jyn moved to look up at him. Her face was close to his. It would’ve been very easy to move just a few inches to press his lips against hers, but he didn’t move a muscle. “No girls tripping over themselves to get in bed with you?”
“I don’t know who you think I am,” Cassian said, “but Kay probably has more admirers than me.”
“You’d be surprised,” Jyn teased. “Half the girls on the swim team gush about you and keep pestering me to invite you to a meet or one of the swim parties.”
Cassian had no idea what to think about that. The idea of any girls talking about him, of all people, seemed absurd. Girls talked about guys like Han Solo, someone dangerous and tempting, or like Kes, who was a genuinely good guy. Cassian on the other hand? No, he wasn’t what he would consider fantasy material. Jyn had to be pulling his leg because he couldn’t see it any other way.
“That’s nice of them and all, but I don’t want to share a bed with any of them,” Cassian said. He hadn’t meant it as an insult, but the implication seemed too obvious after he’d said it. He didn’t want to share a bed with any of the girls on her team, though they were probably plenty attractive, but he was more than willing to share a bed with her and was actively doing so.
A very soft smile appeared on Jyn’s face, unlike one that he had ever seen. It was almost...shy. She ducked her head and then turned around so that her back was to him but she wiggled again so that she was pressed up against him, allowing him to spoon her. Doing what felt the most natural, he draped his arm over her and she hummed pleasantly. He grinned nervously in her hair.
After that, nothing else needed to be said. They were just two friends sharing a bed to get some sleep, but it felt like so much more than that. He did want to kiss her and he did want to hold her tighter, but this felt good too, much like when she had held his hand in front of the bonfire at the party. Something quiet and intimate that felt bigger and more important than anything else. She was opening herself up to him, allowing herself to be vulnerable. Perhaps she too would’ve been hurt if he walked out of her life.
It wasn’t long before both of them fell asleep. And if Kay had anything to say about returning to their dorm to find Cassian and Jyn cuddling, then for once, he didn’t say a word.
Chapter 5: Friendly Advice
Cassian gets some unasked for (but needed) advice from one of his professors.
This chapter doesn't have Jyn in it physically, but she's a very big part of it. However, we do get to feature a character that hasn't shown up yet! It was more fun to write this than expected once I started.
“You seem distracted, Cassian. Is there anything I can help you with?”
Cassian glanced up at his professor. He had indeed been shuffling aimlessly once class was over. Asian Religions wasn’t the most interesting course at college, but it was a surprisingly better elective than the others he could’ve fit in this time slot and the professor was good. Too good at times, seeing as how he always was able to read the change in his students’ attitudes even without being able to see.
“No, I… Finals are coming up, is all. I’ve been preoccupied with that.” It wasn’t a lie. Finals were next week and like many other students Cassian was studying his ass off. With sixteen credit hours on his plate, there wasn’t a lot of margin for error or forgiveness in his schedule. Bodhi said that Cassian was manic about sticking to his study plans, which had made him furrow his brow. School was important, was it not? What was the point in them being in college if he didn’t get excellent grades?
That wasn’t the reason Cassian’s mind had been adrift all during class though.
His professor, Chirrut Imwe, smiled knowingly. “Not procrastinating on your paper, are you?”
Cassian shook his head and then remembered that the professor was blind. Not that it mattered. Sometimes it felt like Imwe could see without actually seeing. “No, the rough draft is finished already.”
“You’re ahead of most of your peers then,” Imwe said with a cheerful laugh. Instead of a final exam, he opted for a final term paper. It made sense considering the class. Religion wasn’t about testing what you know, but about exploring what you believe in -- or at least that was what he’d said on the first day of class. Again, the class wasn’t Cassian’s favorite, but for however cryptic Professor Imwe could be, he was very likeable and helpful. “I don’t think school is what’s causing problems for you though. You’ve always been focused when it comes to that.”
How in the hell was Professor Imwe able to get right to the heart of things? Out of all of his professors, Cassian talked with Imwe the most. The man was affable, always had his office open to his students, and was eager to help guide them along. College could be confusing and stressful even without classes. He had suggested that Cassian sign up for his fencing class, which Imwe also taught, saying that it might help clear his mind.
Apparently Cassian had a lot going on up there, perhaps too much.
No, school wasn’t what was distracting him. Not really. He hated to admit it, but the source of his drifting mind was Jyn. Something had happened between them in the past month, but he wasn’t sure what. It just felt like… Like something that shifted and now he didn’t know where they were. She was his friend -- that much he could tell after all the times she broke into his dorm room -- and he was very comfortable around her. Most of the time at least. She was a prickly person and he had a hard time opening up to anyone.
But then she stayed over that one night after she’d come over to explain her distant behavior in class and things were just...different. It wasn’t the last time she had stayed over either. Kay miraculously didn’t say anything until the fifth time when Jyn left early this morning.
“I would ask if you’re going to give her part of a drawer in the dresser, but she mostly wears your clothes when she’s here anyways.”
His comment had caught Cassian off guard and he hadn’t even known what to say in response. During all the times she stayed the night, they just slept. Well, they cuddled, but there was no avoiding that in a cramped bunk bed in a dorm room. She never expected to stay the night when she did and she didn’t stay every time she came over either. Some nights, they just found themselves realizing it was nearing three in the morning and it was easier if she just stayed there.
They never kissed though, never got handsy with each other, just laid in bed with her tucked against him. His arm usually found its way around her before they fell asleep. Most of the time, she kept her back to him and stayed still the moment she drifted off, but this morning was different. He woke up to her facing him, curled up and clinging to him, her face pressed into the crook of his neck. Her mouth was slightly parted, her steady breathing so hot against his skin. At first, he hadn’t known what to do, but when he tried to move, she gripped him tighter and huffed grumpily in her sleep.
Thank everything for Kay snoring away on the top bunk or Cassian didn’t know what might’ve happened as Jyn slowly woke up. She blinked her eyes groggily, taking in the sight of his shirt, until she lifted her head to look up at him. Their faces had only been a few inches away. He would’ve barely had to move in order to kiss her. Even more, he was painfully aware of how she was pressed up against him, her ankle hooked around his. Only by concentrating on any discomfort from his position and the fact that his best friend was sleeping right above them kept anything...uncomfortable from coming up between them.
They’d just stared at each other and Cassian hadn’t known what to say, everything lodged tight in his throat. Her hair was a mess; she had circles under her eyes; and her lips were chapped and slightly stained from the candy she’d been eating late into the night. He’d wanted her something terrible anyways.
But she was just his friend, right? Nothing had happened between them. All those times they slept together and she hadn’t made a move to suggest that she might want anything more. He refused to put his attraction on her, afraid that she might see it as a betrayal or like he didn’t value their friendship when he truly did. What if though she felt the same way and was waiting for him to make a move first?
College was hard enough without adding relationships to it -- or whatever this was.
“Does it, by chance, have to do with a girl?” Professor Imwe asked, bringing Cassian out of his thoughts. When he didn’t answer at first, Imwe continued without missing a beat, “A boy?”
“Uh, no,” Cassian replied, “I mean, yes-- well, a girl, not a boy.” He blinked, suddenly confused as to why he’d responded. Imwe had caught him off guard. Normally, it took weeks to pry anything out of Cassian. Man, he must have really been distracted to mess up like that. “It’s not that big of a deal.”
“Oh, but matters of the heart are exceptionally important,” Imwe told him in a serious tone. “This time is not just a chance to expand your mind, but also a learning experience for your heart.”
Cassian sighed, his eyes flickering to the gold band on his professor’s ring finger. Everyone in this building knew of the romantic tale between Professor Imwe and his husband. The two of them had met while they were students at this very college and had been together ever since. It was one of those fairy tale matches, even when you heard the two of them almost playfully arguing with one another. Cassian did not think that he and Jyn could be like that, not when they were so hesitant to even touch each other in public despite all their cuddling in private.
“There is something holding you back, yes?” Imwe asked.
“I guess so,” Cassian said sullenly, his shoulders sagging as he put his notebook in his backpack. Yes, something was holding him back. But what? Himself? Her? All of the insecurities that lied between them like a minefield? It was true that he was afraid of losing her. Jyn had managed to become an integral part of his life, whether either of them had anticipated it or not. If he made a move and it was the wrong one, he knew that she would push him away. At least by doing nothing he also knew that she wouldn’t leave.
He could cling to whatever he had with her. It was enough, he told himself. He’d never wanted or asked for more before. Why start now?
“You think you’re safe by doing nothing, but you are wrong,” Imwe told him. Cassian scoffed in response, but didn’t actually say anything. “You will never be satisfied where you are now and it will only frustrate you. I know you, Cassian Andor. You’re not one to give up. If you don’t like the way things are now but continue on, you will eventually start to resent it. A tree cannot grow without light.”
“Now you sound like Professor Yoda,” Cassian grumbled.
Imwe laughed again and scratched his chin. “Maybe I’ve spent too much time debating with him recently.”
And yet… Cassian knew that his professor was right. He could stay in this limbo with Jyn for as long as he wanted, but after a while, he would grow restless. He would hate it. And he would do the one thing he knew the outcome of: he would take himself out of the equation. It wouldn’t be Jyn that would leave him; it would be him that would leave her. He knew how to cut and run. It was easier that way. It was less messy. It stung at first, but people moved on in the end.
How many others had he walked away from or cut out of his life? Personal attachments were dangerous. There was so much room to get hurt and Cassian, after all the times he’d bounced from family-to-family in his childhood, was tired of it. He was afraid. This thing with Jyn was the first of its kind, whatever it was. He’d allowed her to sneak in where he’d barred others from entering, but only halfway.
It wasn’t enough.
“This is really bad timing with finals next week,” Cassian sighed.
Professor Imwe pat him on the shoulder. “The heart beats at its own pace.”
When Cassian left class to head to the library, he was no more certain of what he to do, only that he had to do something. Not right now, of course. That would be academic suicide for both of them. But the winter holidays were coming up and while most students went home to visit family, he knew that both he and Jyn had opted to stay on campus. Then, he could think of what to do. He’d have the time.
It felt both far away and much too soon, but truth be told, he wanted to see her even now, despite all the confusing thoughts in his mind. She had a way of getting under his skin that no one else seemed capable of. Whether that was a good thing or not, well, he supposed he’d find out soon enough.
Chapter 6: The Holiday Spirit
An on-campus Christmas event + tequila + actual alone time = either a recipe for disaster or a chance to be honest.
I legit almost had a meltdown because I'd worked on most of this chapter on google docs offline and when I got my internet back, all the work I'd done was GONE. I was freaking out. By the grace of some miracle, I was able to recover it. I don't know how or why it vanished in the first place. I'm just glad I found it. Because this chapter is MASSIVE.
The holidays provided Cassian with some interesting opportunities. He used the free time to pick up shifts at a local restaurant, something he did whenever he had free time. The owners had known him for years and were more than happy to let him work so that some of their other college employees could have a break or go see their families. Besides, he needed the extra cash. His scholarships paid for mostly everything, but he had learned early on to always have a backup plan.
It also gave him a lot of time to himself, hence why he tried to fill it up with work. Kay left for the holidays to visit his family. He always offered for Cassian to come with him, but the one time Cassian had gone to one of Kay’s family events, he had found out the hard way why Kay was the way he was. Kay hadn’t told him that it was an actual robotics competition.
And so with Kay gone and much of his fellow students, he had almost the entire floor of his dorm to himself. Some people (read: Jyn) might’ve taken this opportunity to blast music, but the quiet suited Cassian just fine. It was relaxing for once where dorm life was typically not. He even got to sleep in. Of course he got a head start on his readings for his classes the next semester, but it wouldn’t be him if he didn’t try to work school in even on his off days.
Perhaps the biggest upside and most strenuous development was that Jyn had stayed on campus for the holidays as well. Despite being on the swim team, she was allowed to visit her family, but didn’t see the point. She wasn’t close to her father and had no one else. Besides, in her own words, she’d seen enough of her dad the last month of the semester since he’d subbed for their physics class. Bodhi left to see his family in his hometown Jedha, leaving her on her own as well. She had gone with him a few times, but decided to stay this year, focusing on swimming and whatever else she did. Unlike Cassian, she was not about to on homework on her break.
It left both of them strangely adrift. Campus was nearly empty, save for students that didn’t have to money or desire to travel for the holidays. It was a large place and Cassian felt alone, which he honestly didn’t mind for the most part. He didn’t have to jostle his way through crowds or wait in long lines for decent cafeteria food. There were a few Christmas events being held for remaining students, but he didn’t think that was Jyn’s thing. He had been to one only once and it had been by accident since he’d been leaving the library.
Unfortunately, all this newfound free, alone time left him to the mercy of his thoughts and they were not being kind despite it being the holidays. He and Jyn had hung out a few times, but she hadn’t stayed since the semester ended. With Kay not there, it was like an invisible barrier between them had vanished and neither one of them knew what to do with it. Which made no sense, seeing as how they typically hung out without Kay there.
Now there were no excuses. If he didn’t make a move, it was because he was too afraid. And if she did not throw him any hints, then it was because she didn’t want him to make a move and that made him even more nervous.
Kay’s warning lingered in the back of Cassian’s mind like a ticking time bomb. “Don’t desecrate our dorm while I’m gone.” Cassian had choked on his hot tea and nearly spilled it all over himself. He wished that he could stop thinking about it -- because he was not going to desecrate anything -- but it kept coming back to him.
Cassian was still thinking about it and how much of an idiot he was when he trudged back to his dorm. There was a few inches of snow on the ground, reminding him of his childhood home, but nothing major, just enough to irritate him. When he opened the door, he was surprised to see Jyn curled up on his bed. They hadn’t spoken all day and he hadn’t seen her in a few days.
He realized with a start that she was asleep and wearing his hoodie. Even though it was his dorm room, he felt bad about waking her up and tried to be as quiet as possible, but it didn’t matter. As if his mere presence was enough to do it, she stirred from her sleep and pushed herself up, rubbing at her face.
“Hey,” Cassian greeted, feeling rather absurd.
“Shit,” Jyn grumbled, her voice rough with sleep, “I didn’t mean to do that.”
Cassian grinned at her as he set his backpack down. “Late night partying?”
“I may have gotten into a grudge match with some people while playing Destiny.” She sat up straight and rolled her shoulders, trying to work out any kinks. He had the ridiculous urge to perch behind her and rub her shoulders for her, but that would probably alarm the hell out of her. What was wrong with him? “You doing anything tonight?”
Jyn’s voice was very casual, which was why it caught his attention. It was like she was trying to be casual. When he glanced at her, she wore a passive, almost bored expression on her face, but he thought her eyes were a little too sharp. She could hide her feelings when she tried, but her eyes had always been very expressive.
“Not really,” Cassian admitted. “I don’t work until tomorrow night.”
“Want to go to that Christmas party thing on campus?”
Cassian blinked in surprise and sat down. “You want to go to that?”
“Why not? I’m bored.” Jyn shrugged her shoulders. This felt more genuine for some reason. She was bored and struggling to find something to do. “Besides, I brought party favors.”
“You want to sneak alcohol into a campus event?” Cassian asked incredulously as he eyed the bottle of tequila that she was wiggling in front of him. Actually no, he could believe it. The grin on her face was positively impish and very convincing. He didn’t like the way he fell for it every time. “Do I have to dress up?”
Jyn gestured to herself. “Does it look like I did?”
Yeah, but you look nice in my hoodie. His thoughts were treacherous.
“What time’s it at?”
“Um” -- she glanced at her phone -- “now.”
Cassian rolled his eyes, but he wasn’t annoyed. Jyn only had impeccable timing when it came to swimming. He stood up and held out his arm. “Shall we?” He tried not to think about the way her face lit up for a brief moment or the way her hand felt gripping his arm as she stood up. Of course he failed.
The school event was predictably boring and awkward. Christmas music warbled out from a stereo and there were some drinks and snacks on a table next to it. There were around twenty students shuffling about, all of them actively avoiding the Christmas decorations, like they were trying to appear as if they had stumbled in here by accident and not because they had nowhere to go for the holidays.. A few staff members unfortunate enough to be roped into working it seemed to be trying to forget where they were. All in all, it was kind of pitiful in that sad, lonely, half-attempted sort of way.
The only two that looked anywhere near festive were Professor Imwe and his husband Professor Malbus. They were standing near the tree drinking eggnog and wearing what had to be the ugliest matching Christmas sweaters. It was disgustingly sweet. Well, Imwe wore a cheerful look; Professor Malbus always seemed to have a permanently frowning face even when he was happy so Cassian could never tell.
“Wonderful to see you, Cassian,” Professor Imwe greeted after Cassian meandered over to them. They shook hands and Imwe nodded in satisfaction. “Already in a much better mood, I can tell.” Really? Because Cassian felt like a bundle of nerves with Jyn standing beside him. “And who might this be?”
A startled look crossed Jyn’s face, probably because of the way Imwe had been able to tell that she was standing there despite her being silent, but reached out to shake hands anyways.
“This is my friend, Jyn,” Cassian said, feeling utterly preposterous. “We, uh, had physics together.”
That didn’t even begin to describe what Jyn was to him. She was a friend and they had met during physics, but she was so much more than that. The only problem was that he didn’t know exactly what she was. The girl from class that randomly started breaking into his dorm room so that she could needle him for help until one day she was an important fixture in his life? That sounded weird, even if it was true.
Imwe smiled pleasantly though. “A pleasure to meet you.”
“You teach fencing, don’t you?” Jyn asked, stuffing her hands in her jacket pockets.
“Yes, along with Asian Religion,” Imwe responded. “That’s how I know our boy here.”
“Fencing is a lot of fun, but I haven’t done it in so long,” Jyn said. She nudged Cassian in the ribs. “Maybe Cassian and I can take it. He’s so sure of everything. It’d be nice to beat him at something for once.”
Cassian turned pink in the cheeks. It didn’t matter if Imwe was blind; he could probably tell from Cassian’s lack of response that he was blushing. A small grin curled on Professor Malbus’ lips, but he said nothing. Besides, Cassian wasn’t sure of everything. He wasn’t sure of Jyn. Taking another class with her did sound nice though. He was worried about what might happen to their friendship without something in common glueing them together.
“There’s still time to sign up for next semester,” Imwe pointed out. “I’d love to have you in it. Cassian’s a great student, but it’s nice to get some fresh blood. Besides, he could do with some fun.”
“I have fun,” Cassian insisted. “I’m here, aren’t I?”
Malbus actually guffawed at that and Cassian scowled. He was feeling decidedly ganged up on. And yet he had been interested in the fencing class and felt a warmth spread through him at the idea that Jyn wanted to take it with him. He’d never heard her talk about it before, which meant that it was something she must’ve been thinking of already. That was a pleasant thought.
The two of them eventually drifted towards the snack table. Cassian wasn't one for sweets, but apparently Jyn was as she piled on a ridiculous amount of cookies and cupcakes onto her plate. They also helped themselves to some of the punch before retreating to the corner of the room where they could be by themselves but observe everyone else in the room.
"Think this stuff will mix well with tequila?" Jyn asked as she stealthily poured what looked like at least two shots into her punch under the table.
"I guess we'll find out the hard way," Cassian replied, doing the same as her once she was done. He took an experimental taste and made a distasteful face. Jyn snorted and took a large gulp, hiding the cringe by taking a chunk out of a sugar cookie. It had to be the worst combination ever, but she didn't complain, so he didn't either. He just wouldn't put as much tequila in it the next time.
The alcohol did help in a way. It helped him loosen up. They took turns pointing out other students milling about the room, coming up with stories and stifling chuckles when something awkward happened. Presents were apparently supposed to be bought and exchanged via random numbers drawn, but since neither one of them had brought anything, they stayed out of it. Probably for the best, as most of the presents were cheap and horrendous. One guy did get edible underwear though, which had everyone laughing and snorting in their drinks.
"I wonder what those are like," Jyn mused thoughtfully.
Cassian swallowed his drink uncomfortably and began to cough hard. She gave him a cheeky grin as she leaned back in her seat and took a delicate sip.
In retaliation, he finished the rest of his drink and went back to the punch bowl. While he there, he struck conversation with the students standing around there. It was easier for him to talk to people than many originally thought, considering how much he kept to himself, but if he wanted to be conversational, he could be. He was able to slide his way into most groups with ease. He'd done it most of his life, popping in and out of circles, never having his own. Known by many, but truly known by few. It was a lonely, strange way to live, if he thought about it hard, but he never did.
Just as he suspected, when he glanced back at Jyn, she was sulking in her seat in the corner. He thought that if she tried, she could sway an entire group to her corner, but she seemed fully intent on pushing everyone away. She was too unruly and touchy. Part of him had to wonder why she projected that image so much, but even stranger, he kind of liked her that way. It made the fact that she opened up and came to him that much better. Parting from the conversation that he really didn't care much about, he returned back to the table with two drinks in hand.
"Oh, don't mind me," Jyn said scathingly, though she did take the offered drink from him. "I don't want to tear you away from your friends."
"They're just old classmates," Cassian told her as he sat down. He could tell that she wasn't really mad at him and so he didn't take her tone to heart. Slowly by surely, he was learning her prickly ways. And one thing he had learned about her was that she was very attached to her group of friends, almost possessively so. It kind of reminded him of Kay, but he definitely wasn't going to say that. It would really insult her.
"I thought I was just a classmate," Jyn countered, "from physics."
I don't occasionally share my bed with all my classmates, Cassian thought immediately.
Out loud, he said, "I came with you, didn't I?"
Jyn turned her face away from him, using the tequila as an excuse, but he thought that her cheeks were a little more pink than before. Dragging anything personal out of her was a slow, torturous process, but he was getting better at it. He'd always been good at getting people to admit and tell him things, whether he wanted them to or not. Kay had told him once that he should consider working for the CIA after college.
After a while, it was obvious that the event was winding down. It was on campus, so it wouldn't go on for too long. It was also clear that he and Jyn had not been the only ones with the bright idea to bring alcohol, as some of the students were stumbling around. When two guys started to get into an altercation over one of the guys standing under the mistletoe with the other guy's girlfriend, Professors Imwe and Malbus intervened and Cassian took that as their cue to leave. If one student got caught with alcohol, it was possible they would all get searched and he did not want to get caught.
Without thinking, he took her hand and pulled her to her feet, tugging her towards the exit. She let out a cheerful "ooh" when the first punch was thrown and then they were out the door. The cold air hit him like a shock, but he tugged his sweater up and pushed forward. The alcohol dulled it a little, warming him from the inside, but he knew that it was a false warmth. When Jyn pressed up against him though, using his body as a partial shield, the warmth that spread through him was not false. He could feel her hot breath on the back of his neck, making his hair stand on its end.
By the time they reached his dorm building, both of them were shivering and their teeth were chattering. They trudged their way to his dorm room and threw themselves inside. While he fiddled with the small heater Kay had bought him for Christmas, Jyn tore off her coat and wrapped herself up in his blanket. She shuffled over to his radio, flipping through channels until she found a decent station, and then sat back down on the bed.
"Now what?" Cassian asked as he took off his coat and hung it on the back of the door.
Jyn shrugged. "We could watch a movie - or play a game."
"What kind of game?" Cassian asked warily.
"I dunno. Truth or dare?"
Cassian huffed, but he sat down across from her and didn't say no. He'd heard worse ideas. Likely they'd play for a few minutes before one of them got bored or chickened out and would end up watching a movie anyways. "Okay, truth or dare?"
A smile appeared on Jyn's face. "Dare."
“Run up and down the hallway singing 'Jingle Bells' at the top of your lungs."
“Oh, is that all?" Dropping the blanket from her shoulders, Jyn fished the half empty bottle of tequila out of her coat, took a swig, and then jerked the door open. After taking a deep breath, she stepped outside and began to sing. He edged his chair to the side so that he could watch her damn near skipping down the hallway while singing. Someone from another dorm shouted at her; another voice drunkenly chimed in. She was grinning broadly by the time she returned and plopped down across from him, a triumphant look on her face. "Your turn."
Cassian mulled it over for a second and then said, "Truth."
Jyn raised a surprised eyebrow, but he didn't waver. It was true that he very rarely talked about himself. Most people became flustered at dares, but he and Jyn avoided telling things about themselves like they were spies. "What was your first impression of me?"
"Very first?" Cassian thought back. "That you were unprepared and not likely to make it all the way through the semester." When Jyn snorted, he continued, "You sat down next to me without anything on the second day of class, having not come to the first, and asked if you could borrow a piece of paper and pen."
"Point taken," Jyn conceded, handing him the bottle.
"And," Cassian added after taking a drink, "you showed up in my dorm unannounced the night before our first test firing off questions about the study guide. I only knew your name because I saw it on your homework." He shook his head. "How did you even figure out where I lived and why me?"
Jyn tsked at him. "That's not how the game works."
"Fine, truth or dare."
He had a feeling that this was going to be a reoccurring issue.
The game went on like that for a while. Jyn mostly did dares, doing all of them without much of a complaint, although she picked truth once. He used it up on a dumb question - asking her again how she'd found out where he lived, only for her to tell him that it had been on accident, as she'd gone with Bodhi to meet someone else on this floor floor - but she didn't pick truth again after that. For him, the dares were easy and not as embarrassing as they might've been had the building not been mostly empty.
The truths, however, were difficult. She pried information out of him like a skilled technician. In a way, to him, the truths were a lot like dares. They made his heart race and his mind question if it was worth it being honest. Sometimes, he had to stop himself from lying even about the simplest of things. He wasn't sure why he did that, but he'd always done it. Lying about himself just made things...easier. But he didn't want to lie to her.
"Truth or dare."
Jyn bit her lip. "Truth."
"Why me? Why not anyone else in the class?" Cassian questioned. "Why go to such great lengths?"
Her eyes darted away from him, down to the nearly empty bottle in her hands. She spun it around, focusing on it as she thought. "You know, most people use the 'truth' part of this game to ask very dirty questions."
"Yeah, well, I don't need to know that stuff," he pointed out. And he really didn't. She knew that she would answer any sexual questions without hesitation. That didn't bother or embarrass her, probably because she knew that she could turn it around and fluster him. What he wanted to know was what made her tick, what had brought her here to his dorm room six nights before Christmas, why she went out of her way to seek him out above everyone else. It didn't make any sense. It couldn't have been that random.
"Because...you looked nice," Jyn finally answered, still not looking at him.
Cassian blinked. "Nice? I looked nice? That's it?"
Jyn sighed irritably. "Nice isn't the right word. Safe - okay, you looked safe." She picked at the label on the bottle. "I don't- I'm not good at trusting people and I'm really not good at making friends. There's a reason I'm never assigned a position on the relay teams at swim meets. I've always done things better on my own." He could see that. She'd learned to live on her own, just as he had. It made things less messy. "But we had to work together one day and you were just... You worked with me. You trusted my conclusions and listened to me. And you had no reason to do so. I know I wasn't easy to deal with, but you didn't complain."
"Everyone does things differently," Cassian replied. "You just have to learn to adapt to work with them."
A laugh tumbled out of Jyn. It was a strange mixture of nervous and amused. "You make it sound so easy, but it's the most difficult thing about you."
That got him to straighten up in his seat. "Pardon me?"
"You're so busy adapting to everyone else's needs that it's hard for anyone to get a fix on your own," Jyn told him. She brought her eyes up to his and he had to fight the urge to look away this time. "So yeah, I came to you because you looked safe, but also because you were this...confusing mess. You were interesting."
"Confusing mess?" Cassian took the bottle from her and finished it off. "That's a hell of a compliment."
"I've seen the way you are with other people," Jyn told him seriously. "You're good with them. You're smart and you know how to play to any crowd. You're fucking charming and attractive."
Cassian's cheeks turned red. With all the alcohol in his system, there was no stopping it. Still, he didn't look away from her and neither did she. Now that she was talking, she seemed determined to get it all out of her system. Maybe it was the alcohol's doing though. He highly doubted she would've said anything as specific as him being handsome if she was sober.
"I don't think-"
"Clearly, you don't," Jyn interrupted, "because you wouldn't be here. You'd be off cavorting with a bunch of other people, having a blast and the time of your life. But instead you hole yourself up with...antisocial misfits. I don't get it."
"Because that's not who I am," Cassian snapped without meaning to. Luckily, she didn't take it as him being angry or insulting her. She just focused on him, like a missile locked in on their target. "Yeah, sure, I guess I can be charming and outgoing, but I don't like to be. It's tiresome and it always feels like I'm pretending to be someone else. I had to put on this show to get where I am today. Be the clever one, the genuine one, the helpful one - whatever I needed to be." He tossed the empty bottle into a small trash bin in the corner of the room. "But it was never me."
At last, Jyn tore her eyes away from him and Cassian felt like he could breathe again. He had no idea why her intense gaze had made it feel like the air was trapped in his lungs. "It's like you don't even realize what you could have with so little effort. You could be with anyone-"
"But I'm with you," Cassian interjected lightly, "and that's where I want to be right now."
Silence fell in between them. It was both comfortable and not. They spent a lot of time together in silence, but it usually worked for them. When they were doing homework together, they go do it with just music playing in the background. She would work on the bed while he was at the desk. The times they'd just watched movies, it had been easy sitting next to her without saying anything. When they played video games, the only talking they did was to jab at one another or call for assistance when they were on the same team.
This felt different though. Something heavy hung in the air between them. The last time they'd been this open with one another had been when Jyn had talked to him about her father and how she'd grown up. This time, he was the one being honest about something he kept locked away. She didn't seem to know what to do with that kind of truth from him, like it was a bomb waiting to explode in her face.
"Truth or dare," Jyn abruptly said, her voice sounding small in the quiet.
He thought they were more than a little done with the game, but he could tell that she was trying to avoid what had just happened. Things were probably getting a little too serious for her taste. "Dare."
Her eyes flickered up to his, hard and glinting, and he knew right away that he'd made a mistake. "I dare you to take off your shirt."
"It's cold," Cassian scoffed, though it really wasn't. The heater had warmed up the room just fine. Besides, he'd probably be on fire if he did such a thing. He'd seen Jyn in her swimsuit, but that was different. She hadn't seen him in swim trunks. She folded her arms across her chest and looked at him expectantly. Grunting, he peeled his sweater off and tossed it to the side, glowering at her the entire time. Her eyes raked over his chest briefly, but he refused to think about it. "Alright, truth or dare."
"Dare," Jyn replied, her tone a dare in itself.
"I dare you to take your shirt off." He had no idea why he said it, except that he was grumpy with Jyn for putting him on edge like this. She had to have known how uncomfortable it would make him, even if it was just as small as taking his shirt off. He just wanted to put her in the same position.
A startled look crossed her face for a second - no doubt she hadn't expected him to counter with the same dare, considering how touchy he was at times - but it gave way to a challenging smile. Without breaking eye contact with him, she slowly took her shirt off. Every inch of her bared skin shook him a little. Now that it was happening, he was rather regretting it. Not that the pale skin of her toned stomach wasn't pleasant to look at or the shockingly lacy red bra that she was wearing, but he really hadn't thought this through. Jyn was sitting on his bed shirtless, probably a little more than tipsy, and buzzing with a wild, dangerous energy.
It kind of felt like she was ready for a fight and he didn't think that he would win.
"Truth," Jyn said with a decidedly evil grin, "or dare."
Alarms and whistles blared in Cassian's mind, but either the alcohol or Jyn herself turned them into a dull thump. "Dare."
Jyn looked him dead in the eyes as she leaned forward, that wicked grin on her face and a dangerous gleam in her own, and told him, “I dare you to kiss me.”
Cassian immediately sat up and sucked a hiss of air between his teeth. A part of him, the small logical part that was still functioning and not completely consumed by her or the tequila, had known that she was going to ask him of this and had been afraid. The much larger part turned into a fine point entirely focused on Jyn. Her green eyes that seemed to be capable of reading everything he kept hidden, her pink lips that were typically chapped from accidental dehydration but were now wet with tequila and punch, strands of her dark hair and bangs falling in her face just waiting to be brushed aside.
“Are you sure?” Cassian asked as he rolled his chair closer to her.
Her lips twisted into a frown. “I wouldn’t have--”
In a flash, Cassian took hold of Jyn’s face and pressed his lips against hers. It wasn’t the greatest kiss by any means. In his overeagerness, their noses smashed together and their teeth clattered, but then she relaxed against him and lifted her hands to thread her fingers through his hair. He eased himself into the kiss, pulling back slightly, but she whimpered in protest, which made his heart stutter. Distantly, he remembered that she had only dared him to kiss her once, but their lips kept meeting over and over again and he stopped caring.
As if he wasn’t close enough for her taste, Jyn wiggled to the edge of the bed and stood up, never letting go of him or stopping. He had to crane his neck to keep kissing her as she hunkered over him, but it didn’t matter. He didn’t want to stop. However, when she crawled into his lap, her knees fitting in over his hips and under the arms of the chair, a groan spilled out without him thinking. His hands fell from her face to her waist, his fingers digging into her skin, and he pulled her against him.
When they paused for a second, both of them were breathing heavily, unable to catch up with their lungs’ demands. Jyn’s weight on top of him would probably be uncomfortable after a while, but right now, he didn’t want her to move. He clung to her, keeping her in place, as her hands settled on his shoulders. It occurred to him that her chest was brushing against his with every deep breath that she took and he buried his face in the crook of her neck, kissing and nipping at the bare skin there.
Jyn laughed breathlessly. “You don’t know how long I’ve wanted you to do that.”
“Probably as long as I’ve wanted to,” Cassian murmured against her skin. As he kissed up her neck to her jaw, she hummed pleasantly, gripping him tightly when he hit a sensitive spot. She pulled back a little so that they could look one another in the eyes. “Why didn’t you say anything before?”
“Like I said earlier, you tune yourself to the people around you,” Jyn sighed. “It’s almost impossible to get a read on you and what you really want.” She brushed some of her hair out of her face and then dropped her hand back to his shoulder. Her finger idly traced lines on his shoulder blade, causing a shiver to run up his spine. “I couldn’t tell if you were actually interested in me or if you were being so attentive and kind because you thought I needed it.”
Cassian furrowed his brow. “I thought my interest was fairly obvious.”
“How many times have we slept in the same bed and you’ve done what you could to touch me as little as possible?”
“I didn’t want to come off as being forward!” Cassian exclaimed in shock. So all those times she’d been pressed up against him, quiet and thoughtful, she had actually been waiting on him to make a move while he’d tortured himself? How much time had both of them simply wasted because neither one of them had known what the other was thinking and were too nervous to say anything? “It would’ve been rude. ‘Here, you can sleep in my bed, but I’m going to manhandle you while you’re here because I’m ridiculously attracted to you’.”
“Maybe that’s what I wanted,” Jyn teased.
“You could’ve said something,” Cassian pointed out.
“And risk whatever we had already?” Jyn shook her head. “I don’t make friends easily. I didn’t want to blow this one because of a dumb miscommunication.”
Cassian leaned against the back of the seat. “So you decided to torture me instead.”
Jyn shrugged her shoulders and gave him a sheepish smile. “I figured if you were interested, you’d eventually have enough and make a move. And if you weren’t, then it’d be just one big joke. I could handle that.”
“ I couldn’t,” Cassian groaned. “You were driving me mad .”
This should have been ridiculous. Jyn was sitting in his lap topless besides a bra. Her lips were swollen from their kisses and her cheeks still flushed. He should’ve been kissing her right now and instead they were talking, like it was perfectly normal to have a conversation with one party in the lap of the other. On the other hand, it wasn’t all that uncomfortable and he didn’t want her to leave. Talking about this now felt like a huge release of something he’d been bottling up for ages.
“Me? Driving you mad?” Jyn harrumphed. “Not Cassanova over here.”
“Jyn, I--” Cassian tightened his grip on her, partly to get her attention and partly because she was teasing him. “I don’t know what you think I’m like, but I’m not-- well, I mean, I don’t--” At this point, not even the thoughts in his head were making sense, because he was starting to remember that Jyn was in his lap as she wiggled around to get in a more comfortable position on top of him. “I’m not that great with girls. I haven’t dated anyone since high school.”
“You’re ridiculous. Do you know that?” Jyn leaned down and kissed him, gently this time. It was enough to make him feel dizzy again. Jyn didn’t do gentle -- he’d never seen her be gentle in the entire time they’d known each other -- but her lips were soft against his and her touch on his skin was featherlight.
He didn’t care if she thought he was ridiculous or not. He had no idea why Jyn had the idea that he was some kind of player, but the fact was that she had been the only girl in his bed for...well, a while. He couldn’t even think of anyone else with her kissing him right now. This whole night felt like a dream. It was probably almost three in the morning and he felt nowhere close to being tired. Every synapses in his brain was firing off and his body quickly responded to every touch.
Who cared if he was ridiculous? You know what he really was right now? He was happy . For the first time in years, the holidays weren’t so bad after all. In fact, if he got to spend them with her, then maybe they were a good thing. He wasn’t alone. She seemed just as determined not to leave him right now as he was her. And that was a damn good present, if you asked him.
Chapter 7: what's in a word?
Cassian and Jyn make some progress in their new relationship.
It was the second week of the spring semester and Cassian still felt like he was on cloud nine. Kay informed him without even looking away from his comics that what Cassian was currently going through was “the honeymoon stage”. Of course he knew what that was and what Kay was implying, but he didn’t dein a response.
The fact was, there was no more confusion or awkwardness between him and Jyn anymore (well, okay, there was some, but that was because Jyn liked to push the envelope for laughs). They had been seeing each other ever since that school Christmas function. While they hadn’t used the terms “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” yet, he thought it was simply known. He didn’t have any issues with it and she hadn’t brought anything up.
Besides, if someone asked him point blank, he knew what his answer would be and was secure in hers.
He was meeting Jyn after swim practice for some coffee. To be honest, he still felt uncomfortable going to the gym to meet her, but she told him not to worry about it. All her teammates acted so weird around him. When he’d tried to explain it to her, she had laughed herself silly and refused to explain what was so funny. Honestly, she was so difficult, but then he’d known that about her from the very beginning.
While waiting for her, he pulled a book out of his backpack to read. One of his goals for the year was to read more for pleasure. He used to do it all the time when he was a kid -- it helped him get out of his own world when he was feeling down -- but he’d slacked off in the past few years. Reading just for academics was a drag, especially in his Lit class. All of it sounded the same, like a bunch of white guys got together to decide what to make popular, and it wasn’t even that good.
Leaning against the wall outside of the natatorium doors, Cassian got lost in the book. It was probably only a few minutes later when the doors opened and a bunch of kids his age poured out. When he glanced up, he connected eyes with a group of girls on accident and they giggled to each other as they hurried away. One girl must’ve had something in her eyes since she blinked at him, although the smile on her face suggested otherwise. Even though he wasn’t too close to the door, one guy bumped shoulders with him, knocking him back, and didn’t even bother to apologize or look back.
Seriously, what was it with them?
“Hey, Cassian,” a girl he thought was named Amanda greeted. He didn’t know much else about her other than she was one of Jyn’s teammates and Jyn didn’t particularly like her for reasons undisclosed.
“Hello.” To be honest, Cassian would rather continue reading than talk to her, but he didn’t see a reason to be rude. She’d never done anything to him and Jyn had not been forthcoming on why they didn’t get along. Hopefully she would get the hint if he was short with her. Most did.
“What are you reading?” she asked. Without saying anything, he held up the front cover for her to read. “Oh, is it any good?”
Cassian shrugged. “So far.”
“Are you reading it for class?”
“Really?” She smiled wide. “I don’t know any guys that read for fun.”
Jyn suddenly blew through the doors and announced, “Plenty of guys like to read. You just don’t talk to the right ones.” Either Jyn missed the dirty look that Amanda threw at her or didn’t care. He suspected it was the latter. He knew her well enough to make the guess.
Of course, he was still thrown off when Jyn strode right up, threw her arms around him, and pulled him into a deep kiss. He nearly dropped the book. When it came to public displays of affection, Jyn typically avoided them. Surprisingly, their relationship didn’t change all that much. Kay had pointed out that she and Cassian were more physical with each other than normal friends anyways. One of the few additions was holding hands. Kissing, however, was something neither one of them were big on in front of others.
Except right now.
Her whole body was pressed up against his as she kissed him, drawing him closer to her until he found his hands on her hips, the book hanging loosely in his fingers. This was the kind of kiss that they only had in private and now they were doing it right in front of one of her teammates. Well, they weren’t doing it -- they were only kissing right now -- they hadn’t gotten that far in their relationship...
When Jyn finally pulled away from him, seemingly only because she had to breathe, she smiled at him wide and asked, “You ready for that coffee?” She even winked at him, the action so exaggerated that he furrowed his brow. Had she hit her head during practice? She was acting so weird. Was something in the water besides chlorine?
“Um…” Coffee? Oh, right, they had made plans to go for coffee. “Yeah.”
Jyn pulled the strap of her bag further over her shoulder and then looped one of her arms in his. “Let’s get going then. I need something to warm me up.” He barely had time to grab his backpack before she was pulling him towards the exit. “See you later, Amanda.”
The chill outside was enough to startle Cassian back to normal. It was only seconds after the doors shut that Jyn returned back to normal, her arm loosening from his and even her walk back to normal. He gave her a sideways look that she also didn’t seem to notice, but if there was one thing he definitely knew about her, it was that she didn’t miss little things like that.
“So what was that?” Cassian asked.
Oh no, she sounded way too innocent. If she thought he was going to fall for that, she had another thing coming. Cassian was able to wheedle secrets out of anyone. He’d had that talent for as long as he could remember. Instead of asking again, Cassian stopped walking and turned to face her. She had to know it was serious since he was willingly standing outside while it snowed. He hated the snow.
Jyn pressed her lips together and looked right back at him with that typical defiant look in her eyes. Cassian raised an eyebrow.
Finally, she huffed and looked away from him. “Can we get to the coffee shop first? I forgot my gloves.”
Cassian nodded in consent, taking one of her hands in his to keep it warm while she shoved her other hand into her pocket. They spent the rest of the walk in silence, although she was holding his hand tightly, which told him how uncomfortable she was.
Once at the coffee shop, they ordered their drinks and then made their way to a table in the back. She let Cassian take the booth seat, which gave him a good view of the shop and the front door. It made him feel less antsy. She had noted that about him apparently months ago. It was hard for him to believe he was so easy for her to read.
Huddling over her coffee, Jyn huffed. “Bodhi asked Amanda out last month. She said no.”
“Oh,” was the only thing Cassian could say. He knew how protective Jyn was of Bodhi. The other boy wasn’t just her roommate; they were like brother and sister. They worked hard, used their scholarships, and paid extra so they could afford to live on campus to stick with each other.
“That’s whatever,” Jyn sighed dismissively. “People get turned down all the time.”
“Have you?” Cassian asked.
Jyn shot him a glare. “I’ve never asked.”
Cassian sat back in his seat. “And I quote, ‘I dare you to kiss--’”
“You hush!” Jyn hissed, jumping to cover his mouth. He moved away and laughed while she jerked her eyes around the room, like she was afraid someone had heard him and would tease her for her tactics. She was so brave and nothing bothered her, but when it came to personal things, she was such a tight ship.
“So?” Cassian prompted.
After taking a swig of her drink, she waved a hand so that he’d quiet down again. “It would’ve been fine. I mean, she broke his heart, but I knew he’d get over it and deserved better anyways, so I figured she did him a solid helping him get over her.” The angry look that came over her face spoke of trouble and had him worried. “But then I caught her laughing about it with her friends after practice a few days later. She thought it was funny. She called him” -- she shook her head -- “she called him ugly.”
“What?” Cassian exclaimed. “That’s ridiculous. Bodhi’s very handsome.”
“That’s what I told him!”
“You told him what she said?”
“No,” Jyn groaned into her coffee. “He was meeting me there because we were going to the movies after. He was with me. He heard her.”
“Oh man.” Cassian cringed. “That’s...really shitty.” Now he understood why Jyn didn’t like the other girl. He made a special note to be more dismissive to her the next time they crossed paths. Actually, thinking back to her behavior towards him and then Jyn’s weird behavior earlier, it hit him. “And she was flirting with me today.”
Jyn snorted. “Now you figure it out. She’s always trying to flirt with you.”
“Always?” Cassian scratched his head. “I don’t think so.”
“She likes to talk about you when we hit the showers,” Jyn said in a particularly moody voice. “She knows it pisses me off. I’m thinking about putting nair in her shampoo. It’ll help her be more aerodynamic.”
Cassian leaned forward, his eyes wide. “You’re jealous.”
“What?” Jyn exclaimed. “No way, hell no. I don’t get jealous.”
“You are!” Cassian shook his head. “I can’t believe it.”
“Well don’t because I’m not!” Jyn sunk in her seat and folded her arms across her chest. “I just can’t stand her because of how mean she was to Bodhi.”
Chuckling, Cassian asked, “So that big public make out?”
“I can’t kiss my boyfriend hello?” Jyn grumbled.
The urge to tease her was sucked right out of him and the fight seeped out of her. It shouldn’t have been a big deal -- he’d told himself that it didn’t matter -- but Jyn calling him her boyfriend was suddenly a huge deal. He hadn’t even realized how nice it would feel to hear her say it until she did. While he stared at her, Jyn’s cheeks turned bright red and she refused to look at him.
“Yeah, well…” Jyn mumbled. “That’s what you are, right?”
When she connected eyes with him, Cassian couldn’t tease her anymore. There was an almost fearful look in her eyes, her whole body tense with wariness, and he knew better than to push it. Moving a hand across the table, he pried her fingers off her coffee mug so that he could slip his fingers in between hers. “Yeah, that’s what I am.”
“God, you’re so cheesy,” Jyn said, but she didn’t pull her hand away. Cassian had never felt warmer.
Chapter 8: Let's Talk About...
Cassian just wants to study. Apparently Jyn and his mind have other ideas.
The library was one of Cassian’s favorite places on campus, mostly because he could hide out in here and no one would bother him. It was his sanctuary, his moment of peace. He could gather his thoughts and focus solely on school, the rows of books blocking out the rest of the world. He needed that too, considering this chemistry class was doing its best to kick his ass. What he really needed right now was a drink or a handful of aspirin, but instead he rubbed his temple and stared down at his notes.
And then a backpack loudly dropped on his table and he about jumped out of his seat.
“I’m pretty sure Professor Krennic is trying to murder me with these bullshit assignments,” Jyn announced as she started to rifle through her backpack.
Cassian glanced up at her, both welcoming the distraction from his chem homework and also kind of wishing that he hadn’t told Jyn about this little hole in the wall. It was near the back of the library in a spot where few people went, just a few comfortable chairs and one table. A few rows of books and a wall that looked oddly placed separated it from the rest of the library. Most people didn’t seem to know it existed, but he’d found it his third week here and kept coming back. He liked the seclusion.
It wasn’t his alone any longer though. Honestly, he didn’t mind that Jyn knew about it and he wasn’t unhappy that she was here now. He’d told her where he was, after all, and that she could join him. It was more comfortable than trying to study in his cramped dorm, which they had done all last semester. The only issue was that he really did need to focus on this homework and it would be difficult to do even if Jyn was just studying next to him. There was something about her that always got his attention.
He smiled at the way she stuck her tongue out the side of her mouth as she organized a stack of worksheets, a determined and angry look on her face. She looked rather cute when she was mad like this.
“I’m still not sure why you decided to take that class,” Cassian said.
“I didn’t want to,” Jyn sighed, “but I need it for my degree apparently. It’s bullshit .”
Just when she had settled down in one of the comfy seats across from him, something buzzed in her backpack. He could hear the beginning sound of her ringtone, some obnoxious song on the radio right now. She jumped to grab it, but in her haste knocked her backpack off the table and onto the floor. Her cell slid out of it.
As did at least fifteen condoms.
Both Jyn and Cassian stared down at them, her cellphone and their homework entirely forgotten. Cassian had to blink to make sure that he wasn’t seeing things, but no, they were right there on the floor. Condom packets were unfortunately very obvious and also only meant one thing. Just seeing them sent his heart into a panic as his mind tried to come up with some sort of logical reason about why Jyn had been carrying that many condoms in her backpack around campus.
They’d been dating for a little over two months now, but they hadn’t had sex yet.
So why was she hoarding condoms?
Cassian looked up at her, catching her eyes, but then she looked away, her cheeks flooding with blush. “So, uh…” He didn’t know what to say. What do you say when you find out your girlfriend’s backpack was stuffed with a bunch of condoms?
They hadn’t had sex yet. Apparently they had waited longer than most couples. No real reason. It wasn’t like either one of them was saving themselves for marriage or even a virgin. They’d come close a couple of times -- they did make out a lot -- but it just...hadn’t happened yet. He wasn’t for sure why, but didn’t press it. Maybe she wasn’t ready. Maybe he wasn’t. They just both stopped before it happened or they were interrupted. Sex hadn’t been a topic that either one of them had brought up.
Now it was kind of hard to ignore.
“That’s a lot of condoms,” Cassian finally managed to say.
Jyn bent down and hastily shoved them back in her bag, but the damage was done. She stayed there, staring down at the floor, until she forced herself to look up at him. “They were giving them away at the nurse’s station when I went to get my flu shot. Just had them in a basket in the wait room,” she explained, “and I thought… I don’t know. I thought it would be funny if I took a bunch. Some girl almost fainted when she saw how many I’d grabbed, like she was scandalized.”
He could picture it now: Jyn’s eyes catching the basket, noticing what was in them, laughing to herself as she swiped a huge handful of condoms in a room filled with other students, their flabbergasted expressions. After all, everyone was probably too embarrassed to even grab one if anyone else was in the room too. As if no one had sex on campus. And there was Jyn, shoving them in her backpack for everyone to see. She didn’t care what people thought. She wasn’t embarrassed.
Until now. Her cheeks were bright red and she had trouble meeting his eyes for longer than a second as she sat back down in her seat. She looked as if she wished it would swallow her whole. Without waiting for his response, she picked up one of her textbooks and hid behind it, like she was done with the conversation and wanted it to be forgotten entirely.
“Were you, uh…”
He really shouldn’t say anything, but he couldn’t help himself. Why hadn’t they had sex yet? It wasn’t like he didn’t want to -- because if he was being honest, he really did -- but neither one of them had brought up the subject. Considering that they were dating, he kind of wanted to know where they stood. Maybe she didn’t want to have sex with him? Now he couldn’t stop thinking about it, his chem homework a distant memory.
“What were you planning on doing with them?” Cassian asked.
Jyn somehow managed to sink further into her seat. “I don’t know.”
“You know how to use them, right?”
“Of course I do!” she exploded, glaring at him from over the top of her book. When he grinned at her, she gripped the book as if to stop herself from chucking it at him. “Don’t be an ass.”
“I’m not being an ass,” Cassian countered, knowing for a fact that he was definitely being one. It felt kind of good to be the teasing one, seeing as how Jyn knew how to push his buttons. He’d spent all last semester being tortured by her. “I’m just saying. They put them out there for a purpose. Hoarding them for no reason kind of defeats it. What about the people that actually need them?”
For a few moments, silence lulled in between them as they stared at one another. The blush was slowly fading away from Jyn’s cheeks, but there was still a harried expression on her face. She looked almost angry about it. For his part, he was just trying not to laugh. Yeah, sex was something they should probably talk about, but it was fun to tease her too. A taste of her own medicine.
He should’ve known that it wouldn’t last for long.
Jyn reached into her bag to pluck a condom out and asked, “How about we use one right now then?” When she threw it into his lap, he did jump a little, dropping his pencil on the ground. The innocent package sat in his lap like a ticking time bomb as he gaped down at it.
Setting her textbook aside, Jyn stood up and walked over to him before straddling him in his chair. There was nowhere for him to scoot back, but he leaned away from her. This was a precarious position. Definitely not library friendly. Anyone could walk around the corner and see them. He didn’t know if he could handle that sort of mortification. Not that he was embarrassed of her, but the idea of being caught in a scandalous position like this in public by someone, a student or a teacher…
Now Cassian’s face was bright red. “Jyn, ah, I don’t think…”
“What?” Jyn asked innocently as she ground against him lightly. His breath hitched in his throat and he stiffened underneath her. His hands went to her hips and then he quickly pulled them away. He didn’t know where to put them without making matters worse for him. “Don’t you want to have sex with me?”
“Of course I do,” Cassian hissed. This time, he committed to putting his hands on her hips, but so that he could push her off of him. A voice in the back of his head didn’t mind her being in his lap and wanted to keep her there. Some crazy part of him was taken by the idea of getting use out of those condoms right now, but he could not let his hormones do the talking.
She held her ground, putting her hands on the armrest so that she could stay in place on him. It only caused her to press down more on him. “This place is probably more private than either of our dorms.”
“Jyn,” Cassian groaned, feeling a swarm of conflicted feelings. He wanted to drag her down for a kiss and he also needed her off his lap. He squirmed underneath her and gripped her tighter.
Sensing his discomfort, Jyn crawled off of him, an only slightly sheepish look on her face. “It’s okay. I don’t know if I could actually be comfortable doing anything in public.” She bit her lip, turned away from him, and went back to her seat. He closed his eyes and relaxed in his, though now he had to place his textbook over his lap. “So you…”
Cassian breathed. “Yeah.” He opened his eyes to peer at her. “You?”
“Well, yeah, I thought it was obvious.”
It was ridiculous how close they’d gotten to have sex before. From the very beginning of their relationship, there had been a charge of hot energy between them. They probably hadn’t done it yet simply because neither one of them were all that great at talking about things. Cassian knew how evasive he could be, but he was trying to be better, more open. He used to hate talking about how he felt, but relief blossomed inside of him every time he did so with her.
He was done talking now. He was definitely done studying. There was no point in trying.
Cassian stood up. “Let’s get out of here.”
Jyn grinned. “Thank God. I thought you were going to insist on continuing studying.”
“Even I have my limits,” Cassian told her. He was way too distracted now. Considering how much Jyn hated doing busy work, he had a slight feeling that she had planned on distracting him somehow, just not this way. He didn’t mind. He could do with a break. A very long one. Sometimes those helped. “Your place or mine?”
“Mine,” Jyn said as she shoved her things back into her backpack. “I would kill Kay if he walked in on us.” Cassian laughed, only stopping when Jyn kissed him. “Now, come on. We’ve got to put these things to good use.”
So much for studying or talking.