During the day, Cassian Andor is the man who digs her out of the messes she gets herself into. She doesn’t see how he does that, really, what with his godawful German and his French that falls off his lips sounding so much like his mother tongue he might as well speak Spanish and be done with it for all the difference it would make. But somehow, he got the local SS officers to trust him, like him, even – he plays cards with them, laughs with them, and she could swear that if he wasn’t a foreigner, they might have just taken him into their ranks for good.
It’s a wretched mystery to her. They should hate him, shouldn’t they, for not being broad-shouldered and blond and blue-eyed and Aryan and for cursing in a language that sounds like hot nights and liquor burning in his throat?
But they don’t, because Cassian is the best damn liar she’s ever met, and somehow this stranded Spanish soldier with a near-useless left arm is more use to the Resistance than an entire cell of Frenchmen with perfect German.
And Jyn... Jyn sneaks into Nazi offices and reads telegrams and writes coded letters to someone higher up in the Resistance to pass on what they’ve learned while Cassian makes jokes with men whose necks he wants to break and listens to conversations they think he doesn’t understand.
She’d never cared for the Resistance, really, or for politics, and even when the Germans rolled their tanks into Paris and a bunch of SS officers took up post in her hometown, her life went on almost as it had before. Sure, it had been an exciting notion, and she thought it was so brave and grand and stupid, but she’d have never moved a muscle to help -
Until her father had died in her arms and Cassian had shot two German officers and dragged her out of Galen Erso’s burning house with gritted teeth, showering her with curses she didn’t understand; until Cassian had grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her and yelled: “This is what they do, if nobody stops them, alright? Still think you can keep your eyes shut?“
How he knew to come for her that night is a question she doesn’t linger on (“look, I knew if I’d stopped them they would’ve known I’m reading their letters, Jyn, don’t you see – I changed my mind, alright, I tried to stop them, why do you think I’m here -“). He’s sorry. He hesitated, but now she understands why, and he’s sorry, and she hated him for a while but she’s come to realise that he’s the only person who hasn’t ever left her behind. She cannot lose him, and she won’t.
The Nazis killed her father, and no one else.
She didn’t know him then, she muses with a hair pin between her teeth as she kneels in front of the telegraph office’s door, trying to get the old lock to do her bidding. He was just a stranger she’d met at Bodhi’s house, a dangerous man who talked of rebellion and freeing France and killing Hitler; and to this day she is trying to figure out how he ever knew he could trust her.
The lock clicks, finally. She pushes the door open gently even though she knows there’s nobody inside, and hopes Cassian is keeping everyone busy – but then, she doesn’t really doubt it. They do this every Monday, and they’ve cut it very, very close a few times, but he’s never let her down, and even when she got herself caught for some other mess, he’s always snaked her out of trouble with his silver tongue and his pianist fingers that crack locks twice as easily as hers do.
During the day, Cassian Andor is the one digging her out of the messes she gets herself into.
During the nights, she digs him out of the rubble of the explosions and the bloodied earth where his comrades fell, and kisses him before he can scream himself hoarse for the boy from his regiment whose dog tag he still carries next to his own.
During the night, she digs her nails into his skin to bring him back to the present, and holds his hands down when he tries to pry the bullet out with his bare fingers – the bullet that some doctor yanked out of his shoulder eleven months ago.
During the night, she holds him as tight as she can and whispers to him that he is safe even if that is a lie, stumbles over every syllable of what little Spanish she can muster because it is the only way to make him hear her.
During the days, he wards off the Nazis, during the nights, Jyn wards off the dead.
It works, more or less.
Sharing a bed with a foreign soldier is something that a respectable girl doesn’t do. The daughters of brilliant scientists don’t let young men with accents buy them drinks in a bar, they sure as hell don’t dance with them and they don’t kiss them. They don’t even let them light their cigarette, because, of course, respectable girls don’t smoke.
This is something people in her village and the Germans agree on, strangely.
And Ginette Erso was a respectable daughter of a brilliant scientist, and she would not have let this man do any of the aforementioned and thus ruin her reputation, scratched as that might have been even then. No real trouble, nothing that the gossiping old women couldn’t chalk up to her poor father having to raise her on his own - she was never home before sundown and visited the wrong kind of social gatherings and made Bodhi teach her how to drive his old car and read the wrong books, but she didn’t drink liquor from the bottle or wear trousers or let a soldier who rests his hands on her hips teach her how to shoot a gun. Ginette wouldn’t have done that.
But Ginette burned in her house with her father’s corpse, and Jyn Erso is certain she will not see the end of this war, and so if she feels like taking Cassian’s cigarette out of his fingers and finish it, she will. If she wants to taste the liquor on his lips, she will, and if she wants him to pull off her dress and do things to her that probably make her father roll over in his grave, then she will have him do that, because it’s a war and her parents are too dead to care and no matter what her mother said, there is no Heaven.
(If there was a God, he would have saved them.)
He shoves a piece of paper into her coat pocket when he kisses her goodbye, and she can see the smug little smile on his lips when he turns to leave. He’s early for the train to Paris, even by his standards.
She closes her fingers around the note, thinking she might read it tonight, but then remembers it’s him and that it’s probably code or worse, Spanish, and thinks better of it.
It is Spanish.
She wants to be annoyed, but she laughs, and that’s probably what he intended. He is walking down the lawn very slowly.
Jyn shakes her head and runs after him. Which is probably also what he intended.
(She always says he can’t manipulate her, and he just smiles.)
“You’re an idiot, you know,” she whispers, in French just to spite him, still smiling, and presses a kiss to his lips. “You’re such an idiot.”
“Oh yeah?” Even that comes with a thick accent, but he tries.
“You think I can’t read that?”
There’s something like pride glittering in his dark eyes. “I taught you well, then.”
Jyn gives an unladylike snort and shakes her head, kisses him, pushes him away. “Go!”
He just stands there, a brow raised, and smiles at her. Waiting.
Jyn rolls her eyes. “Likewise,” she says and it’s as close as she’ll get, so she just repeats: “Go, you’ll miss your train!”
He nods, tips his hat with a mocking little grin, his eyes a little too dark to match his smile, and walks away.
(No goodbye. That’s a rule.)
Some day, he won’t come back; some day, she’ll be dragged to a camp or shot in the head and there’ll be nobody to open the door for him.
Their luck will run out, it must, but she tries not to think of that.
She goes back inside to throw the little note into the fire. It’s a war, and words are dangerous in the wrong hands.
The ink melts into the flames almost immediately, and Jyn smiles a little. He knows she can read that, for God’s sake, her Spanish isn’t that bad, despite her terrible teacher.
He knows the French for that as well, she knows he does, he used that the first time.
The note burns, but she can close her eyes and see them, two little words in that ridiculously tidy handwriting he has.
Jyn watches the note crumble and smiles, and allows herself the thought that he’s more home than she ever expected to find again.