“Careful, Princess,” Han says over his shoulder as Leia hauls up the drop door, her body slamming against the patchworked bulkhead. “We’ve got some unexpected precious cargo on board. You’re fit to tear this thing out of the stars.”
“What could you possibly be smuggling off Yavin IV? And now, while we’re evacuating?” Luke’s voice is grainy in their ears from where he’s manning the turret guns, and by the sound of ships launching into orbit around them, it won’t be long before he may have to use them.
Leia wishes she could see him. He’s still in his yellow jacket, medal around his neck. She wishes there was more time to be proud.
“I’m not smuggling anything,” Han shoots back, obviously offended. “On the orders of Mon Mothma herself, I’ve currently got a bacta tank full of female in the number three hold.” He cranes his neck to look Leia in the eye. “And pardon my transgressions here, but she’s seen better days.”
“I’m sure she has, if she’s in a bacta tank,” Leia snaps. “Who is she? And why us?” She wonders why she wasn’t the one told about this, then remembers she’s not the rogue smuggler who threw off a Hutt with the flick of a wrist.
Han swears and the Falcon lurches as the surface of Yavin IV, already far below them, shakes in half a dozen smatterings of explosions throughout the abandoned base’s many hangars and hideouts. “They’re already on the ground,” Han grits out. They’re safely ensconced in the protective Rogue Squadron, flanking them on every side, and Luke knows what he’s doing with the quad-lasers, but they’re not in the clear yet. Hoth is still a long way out, and it still isn’t as secure as Leia would’ve liked it to be, especially if they’ll be based there for a long while.
Leia sits in jaw-clenched silence, eyes squeezed shut, listening to the destruction around them. She knows her way out of a fight, but she’s knows nothing about space battle and even less about starfighter combat. She braces as they leave the atmosphere and prepare to enter hyperspace, and by the time she opens her eyes and stops feeling like her body is turning inside out, they’re in the black, with ships jumping into the space around them.
Han exhales deeply, a cocky grin crawling onto his lips. “Easy as anything,” he says, kicking his feet up onto the controls. R2-D2 makes a series of berating comments in his general direction.
“They split them all up among the fleet,” Han says, motioning behind him to the holds. They hear the clatter of Luke coming up the grated stairs. “The survivors on Scarif.” He says it with mystified bravado. When Scarif was being blown into oblivion, he was still boozing and gambling in a cantina, completely unaware of the destruction that was coming.
“There were no survivors on Scarif,” Leia says. She’d seen firsthand what the Death Star could do, and that did not include surface survivors.
“Princess, I don’t call the shots around here,” Han says, scrubbing a palm down his face. “They loaded her up and told me to report to the med-bay on Hoth once we docked. That’s my story.”
There’s an angry flutter in Leia’s chest, but for once, it isn’t directed towards Han. If there were survivors on Scarif, then maybe there were survivors on—
She stops herself before she can let her hopes run wild. There is a time for hope, but now is not that time.
“Leia,” Luke calls from down the main corridor, his excited voice echoing off durasteel walls. “You have to come see.”
Leia looks at Han for a second longer, hoping he’ll tell her what she wants to hear, but he just looks back with heavy eyes. She slips into the corridor, trying not to cry.
Luke is standing in the doorway of the number three hold, body silhouetted in the telltale bluish glow of a bacta tank’s generators. He looks over his shoulder, eyes sparkling. “She’s so beautiful.”
Leia slides past him to see Jyn Erso floating like a ghost in a mid-size bacta cylinder, her brown hair suspended around her like she’s been electro-shocked.
“It’s her,” she says dumbly, mouth falling open. Her cheeks and neck feel suddenly warm. Jyn’s chest and pelvis are wrapped in bandages, and so is her leg, which shows the telltale lumpy, malformed signs of permanent injury. Her fingers and toes, always the first bits of human to be healed by the bacta, look alarmingly sweet where they’re floating in the gel. Sweet, and free of the cuts and dirt of battle.
Her face is serene, mouth slightly parted to reveal surprisingly bucked teeth—an image so adorable that it makes Leia want to giggle. But she doesn’t giggle anymore. She’s a Senator. She’s royalty. It doesn’t matter if she’s finally seeing the woman who saved the galaxy up close and very personal.
“What’s that on her neck?” Luke is still awestruck, face pink at the sight of seeing a woman as beautiful as Erso, even if she’s in a bacta tank. His eyes flick away like he wants to give her privacy.
Leia squints, looking closer. “A crystal of some sort,” she says. The pendant is white and nondescript, hanging from a length of worn brown cord. It floats gently around the dips of Jyn’s collarbone, almost glowing in the tank’s light. She recalls the destruction of the chilly desert moon Jedha, the poor moon used as a test for the Imperial’s destruction. Her father told her about the sacred temples there, how they were gone in mere seconds.
Just like him.
“Kyber,” she whispers. She presses the flat of her palm against the tank’s cool surface. It’s an illusion of the curved transparisteel and viscous liquid, but for a moment, it appears that Jyn’s fingers drift towards hers, seeking a reassuring touch. “It’s a kyber crystal.”
“What does it mean?” Luke watches Leia’s hand as it slides up the glass, tracing the shadows of Jyn’s body.
“I don’t know,” Leia says. “But it must be important to her.”
Luke eventually wanders back into the cockpit and Leia hears him annoying Han into letting him in the pilot’s seat. The Falcon groans and creaks, noisy even for an old ship, but Leia bundles her robe on the grated floor and lets it rock her to sleep. She knows Jyn won’t wake up until the tank is opened and she is relieved from stasis, but she feels a protective pull, not wanting to leave her alone in the dank recesses of the ship.
“Jyn Erso,” she whispers. She touches her own neck where the kyber pendant would lie against her skin. “You saved us all, didn’t you?” Exhaustion takes her soon, lulling her into a deep slumber, and she doesn’t wake until Han is carrying her out and into the crew quarters.
“Sleep,” he says, warding off her protests. “We all need it. Chewie will watch your lady friend.”
“Wake me when we land,” she murmurs, and he does, but by the time she straightens her dress and slips into the number three hold, they’ve already taken the bacta tank away.
It’s like Jyn Erso was never there in the Millennium Falcon, like she never floated above them like a benevolent, wounded angel. And when Leia enquires about her on the Hoth base, no one seems to recall the Scarif survivors staying anywhere in the quarters after they were removed from stasis.
Here one moment and gone the next, Leia thinks and she pulls on the soft winter whites of the new Rebel uniforms. I suppose I’ll have to get used to these things someday.
This isn’t really my kind of rock, Jyn thinks, stepping over a fallen tree, but the quiet is nice.
After being stuck on the Forest Moon long enough to start foraging for food and befriending the locals, Jyn is starting to wonder if Cassian and Bodhi simply enjoy testing her patience. Her mission was clear—wait it out, and when Han Solo and his bucket of bolts and merry band of heroes land, keep them safe. Don’t interact with the native species, don’t try to destroy the generator herself.
Like many of her post-Scarif missions, this one was all about waiting, about gaps in intel, about knowing what was only vital to the objective.
If they were allowed comm units, she’d have plenty of words for Cassian. He was really more suited to being on the ground, to hiding in the brush and remaining unseen. He knew all about waiting for results. And Bodhi excelled at getting something—or someone—safely and quickly from point A to point B.
But the Alliance wanted Erso on the ground. Jyn Erso, who knew her way around a blaster and a fist, who was good for quick, bloody missions and fast results.
“What a bunch of Bantha fodder,” she grumbles, sitting down on the fallen log. She opens her hip pack and takes out a tube of protein paste, knowing she needs to down a spoonful or two of the foul stuff to keep her energy up. Her canteen is sounding a little hollow, so a trip to the creek will come before nightfall.
The brush towards her right gives a telltale shudder, and Jyn smiles, peering through the grass. “You can’t fool me, Nanta,” she says. She squeezes out a line of paste onto her finger and holds it out. “If you want some of this, you’ll have to come get it.”
Nanta shuffles out, shy and cautious, eyeing the protein paste. He’s a squat little fellow, covered in brown and tan fur, with orange-brown eyes. Jyn has never had a soft spot for fluffy, adorable creatures such as the Ewok, but she soon discovered they were an intelligent species who hated the Imperials just as much as the Alliance did. And that made him a friend in her book.
He samples the paste from her hand before making a squawk of indignation and spitting it onto the forest floor.
“Yeah, I hear you,” Jyn says, laughing. She pats the log next to her. “Come sit with me.”
Nanta hauls his chubby body up to sit beside Jyn, humming a little tune as he kicks his legs against the log.
“It’d be nice to live here,” she muses, looking up at the towering trees and their canopy of green. “Put down roots. Say, do you have an open bunk back at your house, Nanta?” He makes a noise of enthusiasm and she laughs. “I know. Wishful thinking.”
He points towards the north, and Jyn arches her brow. Right on time to end my dreaming. A bulky ship is burning into the atmosphere and hurtling down fast, faster than it should, and Jyn bolts up, scrabbling for her binoculars. “Stars,” she curses. “Nanta, can you take me to the outpost? My route is too slow.”
He nods fervently and clasps her hand in his paw, tugging her along a flattened grass path. The brush around them comes to life as the rest of the Ewoks take notice of the Falcon’s arrival. “Tell them they’re good ones,” Jyn says in a rush, breathing heavily as they run. “They’re here to take down the Imperial generator.”
Nanta calls to his fellow Ewoks, but before they can respond, a sharp whirring sound echoes out just ahead of them on the path. Jyn knows that noise well. “Down,” she yells, pushing Nanta to the ground and flopping next to him before a white Imperial speeder bike sails overhead. Blaster fire breaks apart the treeline and Nanta screams, obviously not used to such high-grade weapons.
“Into the forest, Nanta,” Jyn yells, motioning for him to run. He tugs at her hand, eyes wet with fear. “I mean it! Let me take care of it,” she says, and he obeys, hustling into the trees below the line of fire. Jyn rolls over onto her belly. Up ahead are two more speeders. She knew there was an Imperial presence on Endor when she took stock of the surface, but they must’ve been hiding their repulsorlifts somewhere underground.
Jyn unsheathes her blaster from her belt and aims true, knocking the first Trooper off his bike with ease. The bike goes skidding off the path and into a clearing before going up in flames. She takes a deep breath and army-crawls into the longer grass, needing a better vantage point to hit the Trooper who is doubling back behind her. Her old leg injury sings from the strain, but she ignores it. Cassian and Bodhi are undoubtedly on their way, but she needs to hold her own until she can get to the Millennium Falcon. She takes down the second Trooper and his bike explodes into shards of durasteel against a copse of trees.
Rolling onto her back again, she leans up, abdominals aching with the strain, and aims at the last Trooper in sight. But before she can pull the trigger, she hears a shrill call of, “Don’t shoot!” It isn’t a Trooper’s voice.
But whoever is on the bike doesn’t know how to wield it well, and as it whizzes past Jyn, the foothold hits her hard on the side of the head, knocking her onto her back with enough force for her skull to slam into the dirt. Pain blooms around her temples and neck and she grits her teeth, feeling the telltale trickle of blood down the side of her face.
When the world stops spinning and Jyn rights herself onto her elbows, she looks up to see her mother silhouetted in the cool, green sunlight.
She gasps, heart slamming against her ribcage, and reaches up with shaking fingers. “Mother,” she says, voice brittle.
“Not quite,” the vision says. She hauls Jyn up with firm hands, brushing the dirt from Jyn’s pants.
Jyn’s eyes cross, the pain hot and overwhelming, but she can see who this vision really is. “Leia Organa,” she whispers.
“Kyber Crystal,” Leia blurts. She looks just as surprised in her camouflage poncho and helmet, her face dirty and eyes wide. “It’s you. You’re the backup?”
“Backup…more like…guardian…” Jyn tries, but the world goes dark as she collapses into Leia’s arms.
“Some guardian,” Jyn murmurs, and watches Leia turn quickly, her long sheath of shiny brown hair swinging around her waist. Jyn offers her a weak smile. “It seems like you’re doing all the protecting here, Princess.”
Leia’s mouth screws up in distaste. “I don’t like that name,” she says. She covers the small treehouse entryway with a canvas curtain and crouches down next to Jyn’s pallet. “It feels like an insult sometimes.”
“Then I will not use it,” Jyn says. Her head throbs when she tries to sit up, but she’s had a bruise like it before and knows it will pass. “I remember when you were a Senator. So pretty in your whites.”
“That was a very long time ago,” Leia says, but she blushes. She dips a bowl into an urn of water and brings it to Jyn. “Drink,” she says. “You’ve been out for a long time.”
Jyn accepts the cool, sweet water, letting it flow life back into her limbs. She eases up slowly, swinging her legs over the side of the low pallet. Leia sits down next to her. “I missed the battle, I see,” Jyn says, motioning towards the canvas opening. The Ewok’s tree compound is alight with song and dance, the torches casting a warm orange glow into the hut. “But it appears we’ve succeeded.”
“We?” Leia arches an eyebrow, but she’s also hiding a smile.
“Don’t even try to tell me my friends didn’t drop down and start shooting the second I dropped out of sight.”
“Hm, I seem to recall something like that,” Leia says. “Bodhi Rook is currently drunk on weedwine and Cassian Andor tried to kiss my—“ She pauses, biting her lip. “Luke Skywalker.”
Jyn huffs out a laugh. “He likes people who are good at their jobs. And Luke Skywalker is one of the best I’d say.” She starts the slow process of pulling on her boots and shrugging into her jacket, wincing when a bruise on her side makes itself known. “And Nanta? The Ewok who was running with me?”
Leia furrows her brow. “The one in the orange hat?” Jyn nods, but is not consoled by Leia’s grim face.
“He was a friend,” Jyn says. She pauses, out of breath just from trying to put on her jacket, but she knows her chest is tight for other reasons. There are always casualties of war, but she is never prepared for them.
“Let me,” Leia says, easing the fabric over Jyn’s shoulders. “I may or may not have dropped you on the way to shelter.”
“You carried me out of the forest? The Force must’ve really been with you.” Jyn remembers so little about this woman. The only other time she saw her in person was when she was mostly unconscious in the bacta tank, drifting between dream and real thought. Leia was lovely, her face full of courage reflected in the transparisteel. “You’ve given me a nickname. Kyber Crystal.”
“Oh, that,” Leia says sheepishly. “I’ve wondered about your necklace. It’s quite rare now.”
“It belonged to my mother,” Jyn says. “It was her last gift to me.”
“May I?” Leia lifts a hand, and Jyn nods, allowing her to touch the kyber pendant. “It’s beautiful. It suits you.” Her eyes flit up to Jyn’s, and in a flash that feels like a hallucination, she presses her lips against Jyn’s, firm and quick and warm.
On instinct, Jyn reaches out, perfectly content with deepening the kiss. She admires Leia Organa for all she’s done, but she won’t make her out to be something otherworldly, something to be worshipped. She’s a hero, and so is Jyn. It feels natural. She just lost a friend to battle—there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be close to another.
But Leia pulls away, licking her lips. “I’m sorry,” she says, standing up. “I’ve been kissing all the wrong people lately.”
“It didn’t feel so wrong to me,” Jyn assures her. “Sit back down. Rest with me. When do you return to your base?”
“Too soon,” Leia says. She sounds young then, young in a way Jyn never was. “They said you took down Orson Krennic yourself. Is that true?”
Jyn shakes her head. “Cassian helped me. It was a close call. I thought we were on a suicide mission,” she says with a sigh, “but then I woke up.”
“I know the feeling.” Leia extends a hand across the pallet and Jyn takes it, curling their fingers together.
Of, if the timing were right, I would take you to bed and never let you leave, Jyn thinks. She runs a hand through Leia’s long, silky hair. “Lie down with me. Let’s sleep. Tomorrow, we will become friends.”
And so they do. After that, wherever Leia Organa is in the galaxy, Jyn Erso is not far away.
Leia meets her just outside the shuttlecraft airlock of the mysterious Lord Junn, barefoot and sleep-mussed, looking like every sweet dream Jyn has ever had.
“Jyn,” Leia says, voice as soft as a prayer. “Oh, Jyn. I’m so sorry.” They step towards each other, drawn together like magnets.
When Jyn sinks into her arms, she allows herself to exhale for just a moment, let herself ease back into Leia Organa-Solo and the light she brings to any room she occupies.
“It was a routine mission,” Jyn murmurs into Leia’s shoulder, though she knows Leia probably has even more intel than her. “It wasn’t supposed to end like this.” Cassian’s craft was shot down when it was barely out of Chandrila’s atmosphere. The assailant was no more than an old Imperial sympathizer, too worn out and angry to do anything more than gather a little intel on who might be whispering into Mon Mothma’s ear and who operated a small enough craft to be destroyed with basic ammunition.
Cassian was dead before he even entered orbit. He never saw it coming, he never had a chance to react. He was just gone, leaving Jyn and his wife with dead air and nothing to bury.
“What can I do? Tell me, and I will do it.” Leia’s pretty face is lined with empathy, her eyes damp. Her hair is down her back like it was when they first officially met on Endor. She cups Jyn’s face in her cool hands and presses a kiss to her forehead. It’s so tender and maternal that Jyn almost cries.
But the time for mourning is coming to a close. She is making her peace, and now she wants to enjoy this time with an old friend. “Invite me in for a drink, Senator,” she teases, tucking Leia’s hair behind her ear. “Then we’ll go from there.”
Leia smiles and gestures her into the main corridor with a guiding at the small of Jyn’s back.
“I almost miss the Falcon,” Jyn says. She walks across the sitting room of the Lord Junn, boots feeling heavy and awkward against the pleasure craft’s fruit-purple carpeting. She’s never been much for ships, would rather set her sights on solid ground than in the black, but she can tell this is an old and sturdy craft. The décor is dated, the chairs harkening the Naboo style and the viewports fused with an outdated brand of plastisteel.
“I can practically hear you taking stock,” Leia says as she disappears into the kitchen area, voice drowning out the rickety hum of an old replicator. “You always tend to do that when you walk in a room.”
“Oh, the Senator knows it all,” Jyn retorts, biting back a smile. “Where did you even find a ship like this? It looks like a Coruscant love motel.”
Leia’s laugh is genuine when she comes down the short set of steps to the sitting area. “You have no idea. This is a borrowed ship, actually. From a very old friend.”
Jyn raises an eyebrow. “Older than me?”
Leia sets two bright drinks down on the low table and sidles up to Jyn, draping her arms over Jyn’s shoulders. “Hm,” she ponders, lips twitching into a teasing smile, “I don’t think so. I met Evaan in…2 ABY, I believe? Oh, you’d love Evaan. Tall and fit with this long, gorgeous blonde hair…”
Jyn feels a warm flash of jealousy. “Evaan, huh? And was this Evaan a good friend?” She thinks of how she looked in her younger days, all teeth and scowl and dirty hands, and wonders how she could’ve ever competed with this apparent goddess.
“Kyber, this Evaan is the Princess,” Leia says, stealing a quick, pecking kiss before Jyn can respond. “Of New Alderaan. I was the one who led her election.”
“Evaan Verlaine,” Jyn says to herself. “Stars, you really do get around the galaxy.”
Leia huffs in indignation. “Now you’re just being presumptuous,” she says, twisting out of Jyn’s grasp, but Jyn just holds her tighter.
“I mean that as a compliment.” She trails her fingers up Leia’s sides, tracing her ribs. There’s a little extra softness there, some roundness to Leia’s face. It makes her look even more regal in her loose green dress and white robes. She hasn't seen Leia in person since Endor, but they are always connected with holovids, no matter where they find themselves. “I’ve seen my fair share, but never the good stuff. Never the good people.”
Leia squirms away again, but she’s smiling. “Let’s sit and talk. I made you a drink.”
They settle into a sleeping couch pushed against the bulkhead, overlooking the stars and shuttlecrafts from the main viewport. Leia sips at what looks like a protein drink and rests her head on Jyn’s shoulder. Jyn takes a healthy gulp of her brandy, relishing in the spicy burn of it.
“No wine?” Jyn strokes the smooth skin of Leia’s neck, making her shiver. “I saw a few bottles in the kitchen.” She’s skirting the sinking feeling she had ever since she saw the drop-waist of Leia’s dress. Leia’s been stick-thin since they met, rarely having an extra scrap of meat on her bones, and she always enjoyed a glass of wine with an illicit cigarette when the occasion called for it.
Leia is quiet, dark eyes trained on the stars. “Tell me a story, Jyn Erso.”
Jyn smiles, lips pressed to the crown of Leia’s head. “Stardust again? Maybe the Battle of Scarif, Chirrut’s Force-guided victory?” She’s told Leia all of these stories countless times, but after so many years, she feels she needs to repeat them to remember them. She tries to speak of her mother and father as often as she can, their memories soft and hazy, like ageing holovids. And now…now that Baze and Cassian have both passed, she yearns to tell their tales like she’s a bard of old.
They deserve to have their stories told by someone who knows the truth.
Leia looks up, eyes hooded and sweet as a child’s. “One with a happy ending, please.”
Jyn exhales deeply. She holds Leia tighter, never wanting to release her back into the Resistance’s demands. “I don’t know if I have any of those, Senator.” Not yet, at least.
“A happy middle, then,” Leia says. “A happy now.”
“Alright,” Jyn agrees. She closes her eyes and thinks of her friends, her family. She tells Leia of Bodhi and his husband and their large brood of screaming, squalling children who all have Bodhi’s dark hair and concerned eyes. Their eldest wants to be a dancer, which makes Bodhi want to hurl himself into a sun. She speaks of Chirrut and how he tends a garden for Baze every day, how his starflowers and honeyblossoms are the envy of all the surrounding farmers. She speaks of Cassian’s beautiful, brilliant widow and how she spends her time travelling the galaxy, meeting new people and making new friends, trying to move on by allowing herself to grow and see the world that so many Twi’lek women have been historically denied.
She speaks of her mother and how she smelled like heartweed and sunlight, how she had both the loveliest singing voice and the angriest shout in all the galaxy. She speaks of the way her parents used to make shadow puppets on the slick cave walls of Lah’mu just to make Jyn laugh before sending her to bed.
She speaks until she grows hoarse, until Leia is nearly crying from laughter, until they are both red-cheeked and exhausted, tangled up on the sleeping couch like younglings.
“You’ve been holding out on me,” Leia says with a grin. She shuffles her skirt and robe up so she can curl her legs under her body. “Those are all happy stories.”
“But not happy endings,” Jyn says. She toys with the end of Leia’s braid. Their easy intimacy has always been a sweet thing, a savored memory for when Jyn is away on a mission. She schools her face into seriousness, eyes sliding down to Leia’s cloth-covered belly. “Leia, are you pregnant?”
Leia follows Jyn’s gaze until they’re both looking down. She grasps Jyn’s hand and presses her palm to the small swell growing at her midsection. Jyn almost jerks away, like she’s touching a lightsaber—she feels unsettled, almost raw.
“I’m nearly halfway,” Leia says quietly. She strokes the back of Jyn’s hand, pads of her fingers ticklish and soft. “Further than any of…any of the times before.”
Jyn swallows. “How many times?” She herself has had several missed children, and even at her relatively young age, she has stopped her blood. There will be no babies for her—not in this life. But then again, that was never her goal.
She didn’t think it was Leia’s, either.
“Six,” Leia whispers, like she’s ashamed. “Six pregnancies, and six…nothing. Until now.” She takes a shaky breath and her tears finally spill over. “So why do I feel so terrible about it?”
Jyn is almost relieved it is not just her who feels odd. It isn’t that Leia is not nurturing, or that the baby is hers and Han’s. Jyn has reconciled her distaste for Han Solo long ago and has accepted he and Leia will always be a part of one another (the fact that he is not currently with Leia notwithstanding).
There is something off-kilter about this pregnancy. Something that has the potential to alter galaxies.
But this is not Jyn’s place. It is not her job to tell Leia about these feelings, about how the piece of kyber at her neck almost vibrates with Jyn’s outpouring of unease. “My pretty Senator,” she murmurs, taking Leia’s hands in hers. “Remember years ago when we found one another again on Endor? How I swore you were a vision of my mother in the rain and grass?”
“Of course,” Leia says, snuggling into Jyn’s embrace.
“Maybe there was a truth there. My mother, Lyra Erso, was one of the greatest women who ever lived. And perhaps she will live on in you.” She already knows her mother lives on in everything—the plants, the stones, the air. The Force. But nobody embodies her like Leia.
“I am going to try,” Leia whispers. “I’ll try to do right by this baby.”
“Come here,” Jyn soothes, pulling Leia down so she can rest her head in Jyn’s lap. “My father always told me trying was for people who weren’t brave enough to do.”
Leia snorts out a little laugh. “I think I’ve heard that before. A little different, though.” She shifts onto her back to look up at Jyn. “Kiss me. Please.”
Jyn doesn’t have to think twice. She leans down until her hair tickles Leia’s face and kisses her softly, gently, a kiss between two women who might’ve been more than friends if the galaxy was a different place. It isn’t their first kiss, but in a way, it feels like their last. They fall asleep curled up in each other, the stars distant and beautiful outside the viewport.
Several missions later, Jyn gets word that Leia has given birth to a healthy baby boy. She and Han have named him Ben.
And Jyn decides she needs to let her Senator go.
“General? You have a visitor,” Dameron says, peering into Leia’s office. BB-8 chirps merrily alongside him, all too happy to have his master back.
Leia looks up from the bins on her desk, wiping a strand of sweaty hair out of her eyes. If she would’ve known Han’s family and friends on Corellia had so many memories of him, all filed and dumped away on outdated holovids and ready for her teary-eyed viewing, she would’ve just kept on her nightdress and said screw it to putting her hair up.
Even after these few months, even after Luke came home and all new missions took up Resistance time and resources, she still surprised herself with her own sadness.
“If it’s another one of those damn Kanjiklub boys with a bottle of brandy, tell him to scram,” Leia says, kicking her feet up on the messy desk. “A woman can only drink so much.” The desk is an old, gutted holotable, only used to manual planning—it was the simplest thing she could find until the Resistance ship docked on Corellia with whatever else she’d need to set up a base. She didn’t have the energy to leave Han’s home planet yet, so she figured she might as well bring the Resistance to her.
Dameron grins. “No, ma’am, not this time. In fact,” he starts, apples of his cheeks flushed with excitement, “you’ll never guess who came to visit.”
As Dameron gestures to their visitor, Leia feels her before she sees her.
Jyn walks into the room like she owns it, like it owes her something, sliding the grey hood off her equally-grey hair. She’s in old black fatigues and a battered jacket, her boots scuffed, a blaster at her hip. A scar runs vertically down her face, cutting into an eye that has long gone milky blind. When she smiles, she still has her slightly-bucked teeth and sparkling eyes.
She is the most beautiful person Leia has ever seen.
“It’ll take more than your handsome bodyguard here to keep me away,” Jyn says. Her voice is the same, not gone husky with age the way Leia knows her own voice has. She turns to Dameron, eyeing him up and down. “You remind me of an old friend. Something about the eyes.”
Leia never knew Cassian Andor well enough to agree, but she does know if there is a man who could measure up to Andor’s bravery, it is her Poe Dameron. And by the way Dameron is looking at Jyn like she sun shines out her ass, he knows who she’s talking about, too.
“I’ll leave you to it, ma’am,” Dameron says. “Come on, BB-8.” The droid follows him, the doors hissing shut behind them.
“Obedient little thing,” Jyn says.
“He’s a good soldier, but he has his wild streak,” Leia says, brow arched.
“I meant the droid, you old fool,” Jyn laughs. “My K2-SO is even crankier in old age, if that’s possible. I think he learned a new cuss word over on Takodana.”
“You were on Takodana?”
“Briefly,” Jyn says. She settles into the chair across from Leia’s desk.
“Why do you think, Leia?” There’s a sharpness in her voice, but Leia welcomes it. Everyone treats her like glass these days. “I’ve traveled longer distances looking for old friends. We all searched for you. Rook had to go back home by the time we left D’Qar. His grandchildren missed him too much. And Chirrut—“ She pauses, eyes glassy. Her fingers come up to touch the kyber crystal at her throat.
“My brother met him on Yavin IV,” Leia says softly. “Before he passed. Said he was the strongest man he’d ever encountered.” She smiles. “And the funniest.”
“There are only a few of us left,” Jyn says. She won’t meet Leia’s eyes. She was always good at that—keeping her eyes trained on a distant spot, away from anything that could sway her. “Bodhi. Your brother. The Wookiee. Wedge Antilles, Lando Calrissian. I even met your blonde goddess.”
“Evaan?” Leia gasps. “Evaan told you where I was?” Evaan knew the value of old love, but she was also a loyal friend and would never give away Leia’s location.
“That was Calrissian,” Jyn says. “The man likes to hear his own voice, that’s for sure.”
“That makes more sense,” Leia says, making a mental note to visit the Baron Administrator himself one of these days.
“Leia,” Jyn starts. She leans forward, elbows resting on her knees. “I’ve heard that you are seeking something. Someone.”
“I don’t want to talk about him,” Leia says. She turns to face the wall behind her, not wanting Jyn to see her cry after all this time spent apart. She cannot discuss Ben with Jyn. Jyn comes from a different time in her life, a different era, and she never expected the two to come together.
“Alright,” Jyn says easily. “But when you’re ready, it just so happens that I am very good at finding lost things.” She stands and clears her throat as she makes her way to the doors.
Leia is rushing towards her before she can even think of the right words. She grasps Jyn by the arm, stopping her, and when Jyn turns, her face is blank, waiting. She was never good at waiting, Leia thinks. “It’s a long story,” she says, voice breaking.
Jyn smiles and wraps her in her warm arms. “I’ve got time,” she says, pressing a kiss to Leia’s cheek. “All the time in the galaxy.”