It's only when they break Scarif's atmosphere that their escape starts to seem real to Jyn. There are long moments when the roar of the ship's engines fighting gravity makes it too loud for any of them to talk, moments when time seems to spin out and wrap back in around Jyn.
In these moments Jyn feels unmoored: her body strangely disconnected from her thoughts; her actions strangely disconnected from how she thought she viewed the universe, and yet inevitable.
Jyn looks around the cabin at the others, strangers a week ago, who followed her when no one else would, who fought alongside her on Scarif. Who survived, against all the odds.
Later, after they take stock of their injuries and their supplies, Baze wraps Jyn up in a huge hug.
'Little sister,' he says, his voice like water tumbling over rocks. He pulls back, grips her shoulders. 'We did it.'
Jyn's eyes well up. Baze's eyes are bright but Jyn is still embarrassed to be caught this close to tears. Their mission was a success. Apart from scrapes and sore muscles, they're all fine. There's no need for—for these feelings Jyn doesn't fully understand and doesn't have time to process.
Jyn reaches for Baze and holds on. If she sobs a little into the rough fabric of Baze's jacket, well, tear stains are indistinguishable from blood stains in the dim light of the ship. We did it, she thinks. All of us. We did it.
K-2SO and Bodhi are in the cockpit two days later, heads bent over the star map, plotting their course. Jyn stands behind them, occasionally weighing in; unwilling to pass up the chance to feel like she's contributing—something. She stares out the view screen. The plans for the Death Star are out there somewhere, rushing back to the Resistance base on someone else's ship.
Cassian says if they can afford the time, they should take the scenic route back to the Resistance base. He doesn't think they should follow any of the best routes too closely in case they act as unwitting breadcrumbs. Jyn concedes.
She knows she should be eager to get back to the base, to be briefed on their new mission, to continue the fight. Part of her resents this time they are meticulously and strategically wasting, but another part of her is grateful for the space. She knows what she's done, what they've all done, and she doesn't regret any of it. Jyn wishes she could be just as sure about what she's headed toward.
(Cassian assures her there will be a new mission; they've proven themselves far too valuable to the Resistance to be sidelined for disobeying orders. Jyn thinks he's less sure about whether they'll stay together, Jyn and Cassian and the others, or whether they'll be split up, sent out on disparate missions. As if they even know whether Bodhi and Baze and Chirrut will want to stay. As if there can possibly be any mission besides destroying the Death Star.)
K-2SO and Bodhi reach a consensus about their next destination and K-2SO starts punching co-ordinates into his panel. Bodhi folds the map but doesn't put it away. He runs a thumb slowly over the crease of the fold and Jyn wonders if he's finding some comfort in the physicality of the map. She thinks about the weight of the Death Star plans at her hip on Scarif, the heft of the data disk as she'd shoved it into the antenna tower.
The ship changes course, everything around them suddenly and blindingly bright. Jyn is still blinking away the afterimage of starlight when K-2SO says that if they had kept a copy of the plans they could have stayed and fought instead of running away.
It's a very K-2SO thing to do, Jyn is coming to realise, to casually bring up topics she'd assumed everyone was finished with. Bodhi doesn't say anything, just returns the map to the folder under his seat.
Jyn feels anger bubble up inside her, threatening to spill over. She takes a deep breath instead. She and K-2SO had created a sort of fragile peace on Scarif, one Jyn doesn't entirely understand but doesn't want to break. And Jyn knows enough to know that she's angry with herself, not K-2SO. She should have been able to do more.
Jyn releases her grip on the backs of Bodhi and K-2SO's seats and fumbles for the crystal looped on the cord around her neck. Wearing it is an indulgence, one that makes hand-to-hand combat less safe. Jyn might have to start caring more about that. For the time being, she grips the crystal with deliberate gentleness as she ducks into the ship's main cabin.
Lyra Erso and Galen Erso are both dead now. Saw Guerra is dead too. The reality of this is sharp and surprising considering how much time she had spent pretending her father was already gone. It must have been comforting, in some way Jyn hadn't realised or acknowledged, to have been able to believe that he and Saw Guerra were alive somewhere out here amongst the stars. Jyn had been Lyra and Galen Erso's only child. Her family had always been small, but it had never felt small until very recently.
The main cabin smells like stale sweat and something faintly sweet. Baze is using a large, sharp knife to remove the skins off the fruit they had taken from Scarif. Beside Baze, Chirrut uses a smaller knife to cut the fruit into sections.
Jyn tucks her cord carefully back inside her jacket.
'Why do you call me little sister?' she asks Baze.
Baze's knife stills and he considers her question. Jyn can hear Bodhi and K-2SO talking quietly in the cockpit, their words inaudible over the steady hum of the ship's engines.
Finally Baze says, 'A little sister is someone who watched you grow up and make mistakes, and who learned from your mistakes and did things differently. Better.'
Chirrut holds out his hand and Baze passes him a dish full of the fruit ready to be chopped. Chirrut says, 'He means a little sister is a hope for a better world.'
'I can say what I mean,' says Baze.
'Did you have a sister?' Jyn asks. Then she remembers the universe spinning onward outside their ship, full of living, breathing people. 'Or, do you have a sister?'
'I have never had any sisters,' says Baze.
'I have five sisters,' says Chirrut. Baze rolls his eyes. 'Food's ready,' he announces.
K-2SO and Bodhi emerge from the cockpit. Baze looks at them. 'Who's flying the ship?'
'No one,' says K-2SO. 'We're all going to die.'
Jyn must be getting used to K-2SO because she doesn't even start to jump to her feet in alarm.
'I put us on autopilot,' says Bodhi. 'We're fine.' He looks at the dented metal plate piled high with rich, golden fruit. 'Is this from the planet?' he asks. He sounds doubtful.
They had all carried armfuls of the oblong fruit back to the ship because Baze and Chirrut claimed it would be edible once it ripened. Two days ago the fruit had been mottled green and red and was heavier than its size suggested. Jyn isn't surprised Bodhi is having trouble placing the slender golden crescents on the plate in front of them. The fruit reminds Jyn of tiny moons hung suspended in a night sky.
Bodhi shrugs and takes two pieces of the fruit and one of the ubiquitous ration bars and sits down next to Baze. Jyn slides along the bench so K-2SO can sit in the middle where the ceiling is higher. K-2SO remains standing, looking down at the stacked crates doubling as a table.
Cassian comes in, wiping his hands on a rag. He tucks it in the pocket of his trousers and sits next to Jyn, shoulder nudging against hers in a way that's no accident. Jyn, absurdly pleased, nudges Cassian's shoulder in return. 'Hey, you're in the way,' Cassian says, not unkindly, and K-2SO sits down on Cassian's other side.
Jyn helps herself to fruit and a ration bar. Cassian passes her one of the tin mugs they share. It contains their water ration for the evening and Jyn takes a couple of careful sips before passing the mug across the table to Chirrut.
'When we get back to base there will be a celebration, with wine,' Cassian says to Jyn.
Jyn stares at him. He's right, though. Just because they haven't acknowledged Scarif, not really, doesn't make what happened there any less of a victory.
Jyn wants to say something that somehow expresses the tangled emotions she has about how much what everyone did means. She's not sure she can find the right words though, and she doesn't want to disturb the comfort of their meal together, this quiet space they've carved for themselves between the terror of Scarif and the uncertainty of the future.
K-2SO is the first to drift away after they're done eating. 'I don't actually want any of us to die,' he tells Jyn. Cassian clears away the ration bar wrappers before joining K-2SO in the cockpit. Bodhi helps Jyn clear away the inedible parts of the fruit Baze and Chirrut had prepared, and together they clean and put away the knives and the rest of the dishes. It's Bodhi's turn for the single bunk nestled amongst the ship's stores in the tiny cabin in back, and he's the next one to drift away, mumbling 'good night' to the rest of them through a yawn.
Cassian comes on the mic to say lights down in ten, any objections raise them now. There aren't any objections. It's been two days since Jyn's done anything to speak of and she's still bone-weary. She stretches out on one of the benches, draping her jacket over her shoulder for a blanket. She's adjusting the cord around her neck, making sure before she goes to sleep that her mother's gift is secure, when the lights in the cabin dim.
Jyn's eyes adjust after a few minutes. Chirrut is already asleep on the opposite bench, head lolling on Baze's shoulder. Baze rests his back against the ship's hull, feet planted firmly on the floor. Cassian and K-2SO's conversation carries through the short passage between the cockpit and the main cabin, barely audible but there. Jyn's eyes are heavy but she has something she wants to do before she falls asleep. She raises herself on one elbow, finds and hold's Baze's eyes.
'I'll be your sister,' she says.
'His little sister,' mumbles Chirrut, eyes still closed.
'Go back to sleep,' says Baze.
Jyn tugs her jacket back over her shoulder and closes her eyes. She falls asleep to the rhythm of Baze and Chirrut's breathing and the steady murmur of K-2SO and Cassian's voices.
Jyn, Baze and Chirrut clean their weapons the next day. The main cabin fills with the cloying scents of grease and oil and the faint acrid scent of spent gunpowder, but Jyn finds herself enjoying the comfortable atmosphere the three of them create as they go about their work. After an hour goes by in near silence Jyn casts about for something to say. A conversation will take her out of her own thoughts, remind her she's not alone in the universe.
'What was it like growing up with so many sisters?' she asks Chirrut.
'I didn't grow up with any sisters.'
Jyn looks up from applying a thin coat of special oil to each part of her weapon before she reassembles it. She hopes it won't attract as much sand to metal as the last product she had used. 'Yesterday you said you have five sisters.'
Chirrut doesn't respond. Instead he asks, 'What is home to you, Jyn Erso?'
Jyn feels a flash of annoyance. It quickly fades into grudging understanding. She has things she chooses not to speak about, after all.
'I don't know,' she says, finally. It's the truth. She thinks about the snug little house nestled at the foot of mountains her parents had always told her had no names. It was only later she'd learned the planet where she'd spent the first years she could remember was called Lah'mu. Jyn wipes her hands on a rag and replaces the cap on the oil. 'Cassian said I was home,' she says. 'Before Scarif. I told him I wasn't used to people sticking around when things get difficult.' This ties in too closely to the thoughts that had been swirling around her head earlier. She wants this conversation back on safer ground.
'What's home to you? ' Jyn asks Chirrut. 'And don't say your sisters,' she adds. 'I don't believe in your sisters.'
There's a long silence, and in the end it's Baze who responds. 'Home is who is with me.'
'He thinks I don't know he's talking about me,' says Chirrut.
'I want you to know I'm talking about you,' says Baze.
Jyn nods. She knows enough to know that home is supposed to be about people, not places. She still ranks a roof over her head and a door she can lock pretty highly.
Baze reaches for a rag. 'Jehda City was home,' he says, as if picking up on Jyn's thoughts.
'And now?' asks Jyn.
Baze looks around the cabin in a manner Jyn guesses is supposed to be meaningful. 'Pass me the tube of oil with the black cap, little sister,' he says.
K-2SO sticks his head into the cabin. 'I've heard that home is where the heart is. Of course, I don't have a heart,' he says. 'Or a sister.' He pauses. 'Well. This is awkward. I'm going to go back to flying the ship.'
They settle into a routine, the six of them. They do their separate work of cleaning and planning and navigating before coming together for the last meal of the day. Five days out from Scarif the abundance of fruit they'd gathered on the planet is gone. Jyn chews through a particularly bland variety of ration bar and almost regrets that they're not going to run out of these anytime soon. She misses the way the fruit could be sweet and tart in the same bite. She takes a sip of water and misses how full of moisture the fruit was, how eating even one or two pieces was like drinking an extra mouthful of their precious water ration.
Still, this is Jyn's favourite time of day. She admits to herself that she's going to miss their meals together when they finally get to the Resistance base. Even if they're assigned to the same missions, Jyn wonders whether there will be space for them to simply exist together, even if they do get assigned to the same missions.
It surprises her how much she's come to rely on everyone in their separate ways. She appreciates Cassian's conviction and—gentleness is the word, Jyn supposes; Baze's thoughtfulness and ever-present sense of humour; Chirrut's creativity, and the anger simmering under his surfaces that Jyn shouldn't find comforting but does. She appreciates K-2SO's carefulness for them all, and his honesty. She appreciates Bodhi's determination and sense of wonder: she sometimes thinks that he's as pleasantly baffled at their tentative kinship as she is. She appreciates them all for their strength, and their kindness. And five days later Jyn still aches all over from the final battle on the beaches of Scarif, and sleeping on a bench is far from the best sleep she's ever had, and, and—
'Do you have something in your eye?' asks K-2SO.
'Yes,' says Jyn, even though she knows everyone will know she's lying.
K-2SO tilts his head to one side. 'Are you sure? Because—'
'Drop it, K,' says Cassian.
Annoyance flares inside Jyn: at K-2SO for making her feel exposed, at Cassian for trying to protect her. She realises after a moment that her annoyance is tempered with—something more forgiving. Jyn thinks this might have something to do with all the times after Lah'mu when she hid away and emerged later with tear-stained cheeks, and no one ever said anything; with the times after Saw and his rebels left when Jyn was the only one around to protect herself.
Jyn swipes at her eyes. 'I was just thinking about how K-2SO doesn't have any sisters,' she says.
'Oh, well,' says K-2SO. He puts down the ration bar he's been pretending to eat. 'That's okay.'
'I'm Baze's sister now,' Jyn says. 'I'll be your sister, too.'
No one says anything for a long moment. Then Bodhi reaches for her hand and laces his fingers with hers. Jyn is surprised and, after a moment, grateful. She feels less like she's out on a limb by herself following her sudden, unexpected offer, and more like they're somehow all in this together.
'You're not really my sister,' K2 says. He sounds uncertain and maybe, Jyn thinks, hopeful.
'Things can be real if you want them to be real. Um. I mean—we did it on Scarif,' says Bodhi.
'We worked hard for Scarif. Scarif was real,' says Cassian. He sounds angry.
Mention of Scarif makes Jyn think again about the Death Star, how it's still out here with them somewhere in the blackness of space, how there's a lot of work still to do it destroy it. Scarif had been frightening with how real it had been. Frightening, and exhilarating.
Jyn's holds onto Bodhi's hand. She sits shoulder to shoulder with him and with Cassian. K-2SO and Chirrut and Baze sit shoulder to shoulder across from them.
Jyn knows she can make things happen; she proved it to herself on Scarif. If Jyn can allow herself to want to change the universe, maybe she can allow herself to want other things too.
Maybe the way she had felt when she'd become Baze's sister hadn't been silly, or frivolous. Her heart had felt like it was constricting, and swelling, all at once. The responsibility of it had scared Jyn. It had also given her hope. Jyn can do that for other people. She can allow other people to do that for her.
Baze picks up Bodhi's thread of thought and Cassian's, winding them together. 'Saying something out loud can make it real.'
'I'm everyone's sister,' Jyn says. 'And you're my sisters. All of you.' She stares fiercely at everyone in turn: daring them to disagree, daring them to tell her they should by all rights be her brothers.
K-2SO opens his mouth.
'K—' says Cassian.
'I was just going to say that Bodhi Rook says that a little sister is someone who rips all the pages out of your aviation magazines for paper airplanes and makes you want to grow up fast so you can leave home and get away from them.'
Everyone looks at Bodhi. 'Well, where I was from,' he says.
'I'll be your little sister, Jyn Erso,' says K-2SO.
'Thank you, K-2SO,' says Jyn. She tries to sound as solemn as K-2SO but she can't hold back the smile she feels spreading across her face.
Cassian snorts. 'You're too tall to be anyone's little sister,' he says to K-2SO, and Jyn isn't surprised when the two of them start bickering good-naturedly.
Jyn catches Baze's eye, nods toward the tin mug by Bodhi's plate. Baze nods in agreement and together they get up and rummage through the ship's stores: Baze taking the main cabin and Jyn taking the smaller cabin in back.
Jyn manages to find two punctured mugs and a roll of sturdy tape. She's in the narrow passageway heading back to the main cabin when she runs straight into Cassian. He reaches out a hand to steady her. For a moment they're so close Jyn imagines she can feel the energy between them hanging heavy in the air.
'What if I don't want to be your sister?' Cassian asks, low and close to her ear.
Jyn pulls back to meet his eye. 'Too bad,' she says, but she doesn't mean it. The way Cassian's gaze sharpens makes her think he knows it. Jyn would like to kiss Cassian again. She would like to find a quiet corner somewhere with no one around and climb on top of him. She doesn't want Cassian to be her sister either. Not all the time.
They rejoin the others, Jyn taking the empty spot on the bench next to Bodhi and Cassian sliding in beside Jyn. Baze, Chirrut and K-2SO sit across from them. Jyn and Chirrut tape up the two mugs Jyn found as best they can. These plus the mug Baze dredged up and the three mugs they share every evening make just enough to go around. Bodhi takes some powder from his med kit and adds it to one of their water rations. The water turns a deep, smoky red. 'It's not exactly wine,' he says.
'No one could reasonably claim you were trying to hoodwink them,' says K-2SO, kindly.
They still haven't talked about what happened on Scarif, not really. Jyn had tried and failed to find the right thing to say to the others following the mission. The thin, fragile atmosphere of celebration in the cabin makes Jyn realise that she'd said something worthwhile after all. As awkward as her words tonight had been, there had been conviction and passion behind them.
Chirrut leans toward Jyn. 'I told you I have five sisters,' he says. Jyn's gaze slides to Baze and they both roll their eyes. Chirrut smirks.
It's fitting in a way, Jyn supposes. She suspects that everyone sitting around the table followed her to Scarif not because of her eloquence in front of the Council but because of what had happened in the time before that, when everything had moved so quickly and Jyn had had no choice but to speak and act in the heat of the moment.
Bodhi has already divided the coloured water ration between the six of them, but Jyn sets her mug down on the table again because Cassian, it turns out, has been holding out on them. He carefully pours what he says is his emergency medicinal vodka ration from a small flask liberated two weeks ago from a mid-ranking Imperial officer on Wobani.
Jyn knows from her own journey that wanting to look up—wanting to make a difference—has its origins in someone's own life. She also knows that no one sitting around the table would be here now if it were not for Jyn.
The future is uncertain, but Jyn will hold fast to this knowledge, to these comrades, for as long as she can.
'To us,' Jyn says, raising her mug.
'To sisters in the Rebellion,' Baze says, raising his mug. Cassian, K-2SO, and Bodhi follow suit.
They take their battered tin mugs and tap them together solemnly.