The Rebel Alliance wants to give them medals. They all say no. Still in the med bay, all of them, as they didn't quite come back with the same amount of limbs and organs as they left. Kaytoo isn't asked but he also says no – but that's probably just because he has been patched up with a haphazard mix of parts the Rebel Alliance had on hand. He hates being seen with the golden hand, and the rusty leg, and he swears someone messed around in his wiring.
Leia comes to visit them – a Princess of a planet now gone, a senator of a senate disbanded, yet she is cool and collected, has a presence at once commanding and calming.
”It's not for you, not really. Of course we would honour you because of what you undertook and accomplished but if it was just that we'd accept your refusal. But it's not just about you. Despite this victory we lost so much – so many. The Empire showed its true force and many are afraid. We need these celebrations, we need to affirm all our victories. Please, would you reconsider?”
It's surprisingly normal, afterwards. Sure, they're heroes, they took an immense risk and almost lost their lives among so many as they accomplished the near-impossible... But the rebellion is filled with heroes. Filled with people who've sacrifieced and lost, who've accomplished so much.
Someone like Luke Skywalker can't disappear into the rank and file because of the Force, because of the lightsabre clipped into his belt, but as a pilot he's still just one of the many. He admits to Bodhi he was offered a rank and a leadership position but he doesn't think he'd do the role justice, not just yet. He may know how to fly, but he doesn't know how to lead. He needs to earn his promotions.
It's easier for Rogue One. True, the brass try to put Cassian behind a desk too, give him more responsibility over people and less time on the field himself. He absolutely does not pitch a ”hissy fit” no matter what Jyn says afterwards. Besides, Jyn is just as bad when they try to separate them.
All of them. Not just, like, the two of them. She wants to keep the whole squad together. She's very insistent on the difference.
Chirrut lost an eye. The irony is not lost on anyone. He also lost his staff and without it doesn't move with near as much confidence. Sure, he fakes it well, but Jyn, Cassian and Bodhi can see he's not quite as determined to rush into trouble as before. Baze was always a looming presence behind him, but now he seems to loom even higher.
They'd make him a new one, but there is a definite lack. There are only two pieces of kyber crystal on Yavin IV, on Jyn's necklace and Luke Skywalker's lightsabre.
But there are plenty floating around in space from where the Death Star once loomed.
”You think they are recoverable?” Mon Mothma's voice is carefully modulated to not show any emotion.
”Worth a shot,” Jyn says, shrugging. She wonders if she'd have a better shot at convincing someone if she sounded more official and respectful. Maybe she should have let Cassian do this.
Maybe she should have told Cassian she was going to do this.
”You'd need a very good pilot.”
Jyn grins. ”We've got plenty.”
They make it into a game. Cassian and Kaytoo have their own ship, Bodhi borrows a cargo ship of the kind he knows like the back of his hands. Solo has Falcon. Luke has an X-wing. Jyn is still sure she's going to win – she has Chirrut and Baze, and Chirrut and maybe Luke are the only two people who have any chance of recognising an intact piece of kyber among the fast dispersing debris.
It's a fool's errant but what are they if not fools? No sane person could have done what they did, and besides – Wedge Antilles joins in, as do a bunch of other pilots, some who limped in from the fight over Scarif and should have been doing anything but going back into space.
Rebellions are built on hope – and tenacity, and just a slight sliver of madness.
Chirrut's new staff may look rough, built for efficiency more than beauty – but it has a core of kyber, like the strongest stars, and will always guide him where he needs to go.
(After all, the Force guided him to that piece of kyber in the first place.)
(Jyn cherishes the fact her father's design left a piece of legacy that can work towards something good.)
”I mean, it's a nice idea but what would we do?”
They all ask the same, in their own way. Sure, Cassian would love to keep this team they grew into – not built, not assembled, but something infinitely more organic – but he has always worked alone, or with Kaytoo, and what is he going to do with a team who are not really suited for sneaky intelligence operations?
Bodhi doubts his own contribution in the first place but at least he can fly. He's the pilot. He can fly them where ever they need to go but he's not comfortable with the idea of fighting, of killing. Or even sneaking around, to be honest. Bor Gullet left its mark on him, and he knows his nerves are shot.
Chirrut and Baze are not the most subtle in the best of days, nor would they want to be. They could leave, and do talk about it – but then, so does Solo, and there he is still, bantering with Luke, inefficiently flirting with the Princess.
And Jyn. What about Jyn? She's lost two families to the war, is it better to die with this one than leave now when she can remember them like this? Broken, true, but not beaten. Patched up and ready to fight the good fight.
She cannot keep her eyes down anymore, not after the flame has been rekindled in her heart. But can she watch more people she cares about die? Wouldn't it be easier to do like Cassian and work alone?
But would it do to her what it did to Cassian?
Cassian knows he cannot let go of this unity he has found, cannot go back to being alone with only the work to keep him going, because it was killing him slowly but surely. When he made the decision to do what is right over doing what he was told, he broke up with the old him, and he doesn't dare to go back to his old life, his old duties.
Still, what would they do?
Princess Leia scoffs at them. ”If there's one thing we do not lack it's things to do. We have lists. Look at what needs doing, choose what you want to do, and we'll outfit you as best as we can.”
She smiles at them. ”What, did you think we'd say no? There's not much you would be denied at the moment, and if all you want is to do more for us, who are we to stop you. If someone tries, they can take it up with me. I could use a good debate.”
The ship they are assigned is already designated Rogue One before they even take a step inside. The Alliance need to get their hands on more ships but the new squadron they are building is already called Rogue. Only Rogue One will never get assigned to anyone but them.
”Not bad for a spur of a moment invention,” Jyn tells Bodhi. ”You should come up with all of our codenames from now on.”
”Do we need codenames?” Bodhi asks with a wide-eyed look.
”I want something elegant,” Chirrut decides.
”I want something dashing,” Jyn says.
”I want something inconspicuous,” Cassian shouts from the cockpit.
”I want something easy,” Baze says, if only to stop Chirrut from poking his side.
”I want to be left out of this,” Kaytoo says.
Laughter is a very good way to start their next adventure.