It’s Han who fires the first shot, although he doesn’t know he’s doing it: he’s just trying to make the princess jealous. She’s got her head bent real close to some other rebel, the two of them looking over a datapad in the middle of the hanger like they’re in some private, closed-doors meeting and not standing in front of everyone. Leia looks as focused, as laser-oriented on the cause as always, and Han will never admit to himself the little spike in blood pressure he gets whenever he sees her, and so he has to show her that he doesn’t care.
He slings his arm across the nearest set of attractive shoulders and asks his partner for this upcoming mission if she wants to get a drink. Bemused but receptive, if a bit less enthusiastic than he was hoping, she accepts. As they walk by the princess, he doesn’t want to look. Wants to play it cool. Erso is real small, tucked against his side, is prattling on about the job and Chewbacca and the Falcon. Han’s half-listening, half-answering, only looking down at her because he’s trying so hard not to look towards the princess.
But nope, he has to look. He has to know if she’s looking. He can’t help it.
He glances over as they pass the two rebels, and it’s like slow motion as a set of brown eyes raises to meet his own, locked on his as Han walks by, but it’s not the princess. No, the princess doesn’t even notice that he’s there. It’s the rebel that looks at Han, lip curling just a bit, like he can tell what Han’s doing.
And from that moment, from that very second, Han Solo and Cassian Andor just…sort of hate each other.
“I don’t know what you have against him,” Jyn says, drawing Cassian’s attention back from the narrow observation the spy is doing of Han at the next table.
“With who?” Cassian asks, digging back into his rapidly cooling food in front of him. Jyn’s expression is one of the utmost tolerance, and she takes half his dinner roll as payment for putting up with him.
“Solo,” she says. “He’s all right. Had my back on that mission to Geonosis. I know he’s a bit rough around the edges, but I don’t think I need to remind you of who else started out sort of battered and combative when they first got here.”
Cassian, in a moment of rare good humor, tilts his head to one side, pretending to think about it.
“Bodhi?” he asks. Jyn grins at him, but she liberates the second half of his roll as punishment.
“Seriously,” she says around a mouthful (Jyn still eats like she thinks someone’s going to come along and knock the food out of her hands, even after months of being here). “What’s your problem with him?”
Cassian’s hardly going to mention the casual ease with which Han asked Jyn to get a drink when it took Cassian nearly two months to feel comfortable sitting down to dinner with her every night. Took him two kriffing months to accept that it was downright assumed that they would be eating together if she wasn’t on a mission. Took him that long to accept that they’re friends. That she actually wants him around. Never mind the painful little thump of his heart against his chest when he wonders what she’d do if he worked up the nerve and kissed her.
And Han Solo waltzes up, unconcerned, puts his arm over Jyn’s shoulders and asks her out for drinks, and Jyn goes!
“I don’t have a problem with him,” he insists, stabbing his food with a bit more emphasis than is really necessary. “I just don’t like him.”
Han thinks, not for the first time, that Captain Andor might be the most unpleasant person in the whole of the galaxy. And eerie, too, the way he blends into a crowd, into the damn furniture in a room, so you don’t even notice he’s there until suddenly he’s sliding out of thin air to berate you for something.
“And he’s so judgmental! You know, I’ve met people from Fest before. Lovely accent on literally anyone else. But he always sounds like he’s itching to bust me for smuggling. The way he says words. Just. So unpleasant.”
“You do realize that Cassian is my closest friend, right?” Jyn asks, leaning forward from the seat behind Han’s. Chewie laughs, because of course he fucking does.
“Like I give a shit,” Han says to hide his genuine dismay. Read that one all wrong, as usual. He thought for sure that Erso would hate that human personification of a stick in the mud same as him. “Still true, anyway.”
“You just don’t know him.”
Han thinks of the unconcerned way Cassian just reached over and brushed the Hoth snow off of Leia’s hair yesterday, smile lighting up his dour, prematurely lined face, making him actually look his age for once (which is, to make things even worse, far more appropriately close to Leia’s than Han’s, but whatever). He thinks of the way Leia always turns to Cassian to offer encouragement and that coveted sparkling grin instead of the flashing eyes and acidic disgust she’s constantly flinging towards Han.
“I know him about as much as I want to,” Han grumbles.
Chewie says something to the effect of you pathetic piece of shit, and Han throws the Falcon into hyperspace, because it remains absolutely true, what he said back at the start: no reward is worth this.
“How does he do it?” Cassian wonders.
Were he not teetering significantly on the edge of being wasted, he never would have said it. Especially not to Baze, who definitely doesn’t care about this and probably would rather die than listen to it.
Baze’s eyes flicker along Cassian’s sightline to where Solo is charming an entire table of young recruits, including Jyn, who’s adding embellishments to his tale about their recent supply run. She’s listening to him, talking to him, with genuine laughter. Near giggles.
Cassian doesn’t think he’s ever made her laugh like that. Certainly hasn’t made her giggle.
“Him?” Baze asks, turning back to Cassian, expression having transitioned from his usual blank unconcern to something approaching incredulity. Baze, too, might be slightly drunk. “You want to be like him?”
The look he shoots Cassian before taking another long pull of his drink is so pitying that Cassian scrambles backwards in the conversation, trying to regain a little of the respect he knows he’s just lost.
“I didn’t say that. And no, of course not. He’s disrespectful to everyone he meets. He’s still more smuggler than rebel, no matter what he says. It’s just…”
“He makes Jyn laugh.”
“No. That’s…he does. But that’s not what…”
“You think I’ve been with Chirrut as long as I have without learning to pick up on these things? Insulting.”
“I’m drunk,” Cassian decides. “So none of this counts.”
He starts to leave, flushing with shame, hoping to duck out the door without being spotted, but Baze pulls his elbow back, and Cassian has no choice but to stay.
“She laughs with him, Captain Andor, but she smiles for you. She likes him because he is like her, because she doesn’t have to live up to anything. There is no pressure, because she cares about him no further than as a comrade, as a friend. You, sometimes she is afraid you’re seeing too much good in her. And she doesn’t think she’ll ever measure up to the woman she thinks you want her to be. It does not mean she likes him better. It means she likes you too much to laugh with you that way. She’ll come around. She’ll grow more comfortable. There’s no need to worry.”
Cassian looks back at Jyn, sees the open curve of her lips, the loud laugh, the way her eyes crinkle at the corners. Her smiles for him are always softer, always more contained.
“That...sounds like something Chirrut would say,” he says finally. Baze releases Cassian’s arm and gives a smug smile that looks like something Chirrut would smile.
“And is he ever wrong?” he asks.
The answer is obviously no, but Cassian refuses to admit that.
The worst, though, is when Leia tries to compare him to Cassian. When she says things like we need more agents like Cassian Andor, not shiftless smugglers with no real ties, or at least Cassian Andor has the good sense to know when he can’t handle something, and if she mentions Cassian Kriffing Andor one more time when they’re in the middle of an argument, Han’s liable to track the man down and deck him just for featuring so heavily in all of the princess’s most effective barbs.
Having a fucking inferiority complex is bad enough without having the apparently perfect Cassian Andor forcibly held up next to you.
Another worst part is that he’s always so polite. Blank. Refusing to rise to even the worst of Han’s insults – which, as Leia so often points out, aren’t really all that good. And everyone likes him! Han’s the only one who looks at that stupid smirk and that stupid hair and those stupid narrow hips and wants to boot him halfway to Coruscant.
Leia’s the biggest offender. Always talking about him, always looking for him to run mission briefings or give her advice on how to lead or just to find him and tell him how great a job he’s doing at whatever it is he does around here. And Erso’s always right behind him (and of course he only started noticing this after shittalking the man for near ten minutes to her!), chattering away, always angry about something and telling him about it, letting him give her pointers that she would probably just laugh off if they came from Han. But oh, no, it came from Captain Kriffing Andor, so it must be good!
Even Chewie, the fucking traitor, thinks Cassian Andor shits gold.
“I don’t care if he’s a war hero! I’m a war hero! You’re a war hero! I got you that medal, didn’t I?”
A little late, Chewie points out, still bitter about that medal ceremony, and Han sighs. Waits for it. Gets what he waited for: If I had told Cassian, he would have gotten me a medal during the ceremony.
“Right, fuck off,” Han says, leaving Chewie cackling to himself in the cockpit. He storms down the ramp, and then it somehow gets even worse, because there’s Andor, running down a checklist outside the Falcon, and Han’s about ready to fight this asshole, except this asshole outranks him. “What are you doing?”
“I’m checking your work. Making sure the Falcon is ready.”
“Checking my work. Well. How about you just run the mission for me, big guy? Since you seem to know so much better and all.”
Cassian’s expression goes so painfully blank that Han just knows something’s coming.
“If I were able, I would,” Cassian says, his tone only slightly challenging. Just enough that Han braces for impact. “But I’m not medically fit for field work, because of my leg, and my spine. But you knew that, of course.”
(“A fucking war hero!” Han shouts at Chewie, approximately five minutes later, while the Wookie laughs uproariously. “You could’ve mentioned he’s a war hero with a prosthetic leg and a thousand fucking spinal implants from the time he saved the entire kriffing galaxy!”)
“He said what?” Jyn asks, already halfway to the door, but Cassian stops her, laughing, pulling her back towards him.
“No, no. Don’t. You should have seen his face when I told him. Reward enough. As gratifying as it would be to see you fight him…”
“And I would. You know that, right?”
His attempt at light-hearted comedy hasn’t gone well. She’s softer, serious. Almost sad, and again he has that image of her throwing her head back to laugh at something Han said.
“Considering I had to bail you out after you decimated those pilots who insulted Bodhi? I have an idea, yes. But he didn’t know.”
“That might be the nicest thing you’ve ever said about Han Solo: he’s only an ignorant idiot by accident.”
“I was trying to take the high road. Did it work?”
And now, Jyn does laugh, actually laughs, and she isn’t running off to the next mission or trying to formulate some sort of plan or asking him for advice more like a commander than a friend. She’s just looking at him with mirth, with enjoyment, with happiness.
Cassian could die like this, and he would be perfectly satisfied.
Briefly, he considers that maybe maudlin thoughts like that have something to do with why Jyn doesn’t laugh more around him.
“I can’t wait to give him hell for this,” Jyn says, fairly sparkling with delight, and Cassian feels a cold certainty, a sudden realization, that the laughter and the pleasure isn’t anything to do with him at all. It’s to do with Han Solo. Always. Even now.
Whenever Han enters a room and finds Cassian Andor standing in it, he feels his entire body groan. It’s worse when Leia’s there, like she is right now, her arm pressed up against Cassian’s as they stand side by side, both of them talking to Erso with the same expression of worry, uncertainty, giving her advice for the upcoming mission as if she’s going to be running it by herself or something.
“You both worry too much,” Jyn is saying, shrugging off their concern.
“Worry too much? Not with the amount of shit you two get into,” Leia says, looking over at Cassian as if for backup. Cassian looks exhausted, older than he should, and it makes Leia’s face go all soft and understanding, and Han hates him.
“I think Erso and I are a pretty good team,” he says, sliding up, fitting his arm around Jyn’s shoulders the way he always does. “And this’ll be easy. Nothing to worry about, right, kid?”
“Oh, leave the poor girl alone, would you?” Leia asks, rolling her eyes, and Han’s smile deepens because hey! Finally! Something close to jealousy.
“I don’t hear her complaining,” he points out.
“He’s harmless,” Jyn says with an eyeroll to an irritated Leia and a completely blank Cassian, as if Han’s not here, but Han’s getting pretty used to that, too. Doesn’t even mind it so much, because he thinks Jyn might sort of enjoy having him around. And, this cannot be overstated: Leia’s scowl is actually jealousy-based, so he’s feeling pretty good about himself. Can’t quite get rid of that shit-eating smile. Not that he puts much of an effort in.
“Jyn!” calls Bodhi from across the hanger, bounding up, grinning, already rattling off “so I was looking at the map of the system from the last time we were in the area, and I’ve marked off some points of interest…” talking way too fast for Han to keep up. Leia pulls out a datapad and wanders off, trying not to look annoyed, but Han can see the creeping red in her cheeks as she goes, and he’s riding high on his victory.
“This isn’t a game,” Cassian says, and Han looks back at him, surprised to hear actual emotion in the spy’s voice.
“Everything’s a game if you approach it with the right attitude,” Han replies, mostly because he’s uncomfortable with the openness on display in front of him. For most people, it would still be rigid restraint, but for Cassian Andor, it might as well be a loud declaration of exactly what he’s feeling. Cassian opens his mouth to deliver some sort of sermon, probably, about playing with Leia’s emotions or something, but his mouth snaps closed and he turns on his heel, stalking after the princess without a goodbye.
“Where’s he going?” Jyn asks, plainly hurt when she sees the spy’s retreat.
“To sulk somewhere. Who knows? Come on. We should get moving.”
“I’ll tell him you said goodbye,” Bodhi says, hugging Jyn. He hesitates, nervous, but offers Han a hug as well, probably trying to be polite. Han accepts, because why not? If there’s anyone in this Rebellion more inoffensively adorable than Luke Skywalker, it’s Bodhi Rook.
“You can skip the goodbyes from me, though,” he says to the scattered pilot, which makes Bodhi laugh and makes Jyn look at him like he’s something more than just her fuckup mission partner. Like he’s maybe something close to a friend. A couple of months ago, that would have meant next to nothing to him, but he’s surprised to realize that now it means kind of a lot.
“You realize he’s just doing it to try and get under my skin, right?” Leia asks.
They’re halfway out of the hanger, watching Bodhi say his goodbyes (and doesn’t it sting a little bit that even Bodhi lights up at something Han says, that Bodhi hugs Han where he’s always hesitated to do the same to Cassian, that Han’s open friendliness allows people to relax around him when they can’t do the same around Cassian?)
“What? Being careless?” Cassian asks. “Running dangerous missions with a crew of three just because he thinks they can handle it?”
“No, idiot. The shit with Jyn.”
Cassian looks over at her with surprise, sees her eyebrows climbed up high on her head, a smirk on her face that tells him he doesn’t have a hope of hiding the truth from her. He can feel a scowl growing on his own face, and Leia laughs, somewhat fondly calls him transparent.
“I’m not transparent.”
“Of course you are. Maybe not to everyone else, but to me. You forget how well I know you, Cassian. And this goes against nearly every personal rule I have about betraying the trust of my friends, but it needs saying. When it comes to Jyn? Cassian, you have nothing to worry about.”
Scarcely daring to hope, Cassian doesn’t look away. He’s waiting for the truth. He’s got this sick sort of certainty that she must be talking about something else, that he must be misunderstanding her, but she smiles softly at him.
“What are you talking about?” he asks, deciding for once that maybe directness is the best option here.
“Cassian, honestly, she never shuts up about you. We got a little drunk together the other night, and kriff, I had to change the subject four times. To hear her talk about you, you’d think you took down the Death Star. Luke was incredibly offended. Of course, she thinks you’d never look at her that way. Thinks she’s not nearly good enough for you.”
He bristles, forgetting that his plan was to pretend that he had no idea what Leia was talking about.
“The most ridiculous thing you’ve heard in your life? Yeah. That’s what I told her. Look, do everyone a favor and just tell her, all right? It’s getting annoying.”
Patting him lightly on the arm, Leia turns and walks away, already engrossed back into her reading. Cassian can’t hide the small smile on his face as he watches the Falcon take off.
Of course the one time Han explicitly tells Leia and Cassian there’s nothing to worry about, there’s something to worry about.
Chewie’s out in the main hold hollering about blood and bandages, Han’s yelling into the comms that they’ve got an injured passenger and need to land immediately, and Jyn’s not saying anything, because Jyn’s laid out in one of the bunks, bleeding all over everything, long since unconscious.
“We’re down, Chewie, come on!” Han yells, already halfway out of his chair, tripping over himself, all calm gone as he runs for the door. Chewie isn’t far behind, Jyn looking like a tiny child’s toy in his arms. Looking like porcelain, pale and cold, her lips stained red, her eyes blinking sluggishly as she tries to say something. “Don’t. Shut up,” he tells her, because if she tells him one more time to leave her behind, he’s going to lose it. “We’re already back on Hoth, so you can stop your damned martyr bullshit, all right? We’re getting you to a medbay, so just hold on.”
Frankly, Han thinks that keeping Cassian out of the field because of his injuries was a bad call on someone’s part, because he’s never seen a man move half as fast as the captain when he enters the hanger and sees Han and Chewie running down the ramp. Cassian is to them in moments, full-tilt running, all his usual practiced ease and calm completely missing. Han is expecting some kind of lecture, some furious annoyance, a dressing-down, but his already-formed retort dies on his lips when he sees instead that Cassian is utterly speechless, shattered, his eyes huge and uncomprehending as he tries to take in all the damage at once.
And it’s like an optical illusion, suddenly. Cassian Andor goes from this restrained rebel drone, no personality, no humor, nothing but dedication to some nebulous cause, some endless war. A man who effortlessly commands the respect of the one person Han craves respect from. A man who stands tall despite his injuries, despite being told he can no longer be the man he’s been training his whole life to be. He shrinks, suddenly, in Han’s eyes. Not in a way that makes him smaller, in a way that makes him seem petty or broken or anything like that. But in a way that makes him seem young. Vulnerable. Afraid.
“Hey, come on,” Han says, stretching a hand out, grabbing Cassian by the jacket and pulling him along after Chewie. He can’t believe it’s taken him this long to see it: it was never about Leia. The two of them always being together, it was never about anything other than the cause. It’s Jyn, for Cassian. Just as it’s Leia for Han. This whole kriffing rivalry has been a waste of time.
“You know, there’s a window right there.”
Cassian looks up from his datapad, frowning as Han enters the room. The former smuggler does so a bit sheepishly at first, but he grows bolder when Cassian doesn’t immediately shout him out of the room.
“What?” Cassian asks. He doesn’t bother to try and understand the words. Since the Falcon landed, he hasn’t managed to find anything even approximating focus. Even though Jyn is fine, sedated and sleeping, curled on her side facing him, mere inches away from the chair where he’s sprawled, most of his brainpower is still devoted to the initial scream of panic that had shuddered through him when he first saw her limp and bleeding form in the Wookie’s arms.
“Window.” Han raps his knuckles against the glass beside him, loud in the otherwise quiet infirmary. “So when you and Erso were making out, you had an audience.”
Cassian feels his face flush, and he looks away from Han, but that’s a mistake, because his eyes go naturally to Jyn, to the satisfied smile she’s been wearing on her face in sleep since she kissed him.
“I wouldn’t call that making out,” he says finally.
“No, neither would I. I was being generous.”
Han makes himself comfortable against the wall, so Cassian knows he’s going to speak. His shoulders are hitching up defensively despite himself. Han has never been very delicate with him, and he hates to imagine what the man’s going to have to say about this.
“You know, she told me one time. Drunk, a little. About you all escaping Scarif. Think she was mad at you for something when she was telling me, because she was raising hell, cursing in every language I know, talking about how you tried to get her to leave you behind.”
Cassian leans back, tries to avoid imagining it. The flash of pain, the broken leg that just wouldn’t move. The urgency of Bodhi’s voice over the comms, saying they only had a few more moments. Just a few more moments and they would have to leave. Cassian fading, saying you have to go, you can still make it, and Jyn’s hands bruising on him, crushing his ribs against her own, growling out if you give up, I give up with you, forcing him to keep going.
“She doesn’t talk about that with me,” he admits. Even now, even after having confirmation of what he has so long waited for, he can’t quite help the sting of sadness that Han has parts of Jyn that he isn’t allowed to see.
“Well, she tried to do the same damn thing to me today,” Han says. It’s casual, but Cassian can see the way his hands are shaking when he refolds his arms over his chest. “Coulda killed her myself for it.”
“Thank you. For not leaving her.”
“She asked me to tell you she was sorry for letting you down. Sorry for never telling you she loves you. Guess that message don’t need to be delivered now, but. Feels wrong not to tell you. I know what it’s like to wonder how a person feels about you, and I, uh. I guess I’m saying she cares about you a hell of a lot.”
Cassian has probably never been more surprised in his entire life than he is in this moment. It was less surprising when Jyn dragged him across the beach and into that shuttle on Scarif. Less surprising when someone found an old security droid and rebooted K-2SO. Less surprising when Leia survived the Death Star with the help of a farmboy and a smuggler and a Jedi. Hell, even less surprising when Jyn pulled him in with both hands on his face and kissed her after he told her that he’s been in love with her for so long now that he’s not even sure how to remember when it started.
“Are you…okay?” he asks. Not actually what he meant to ask. It was probably supposed to be are you seriously giving me relationship advice? Or are you going to end this little sermon with some insult? Terrible joke? Anything other than sincerity? But are you okay works too.
“Oh, yeah,” Han says, laughing at a joke only he seems to realize is being told. “I’m just fine, kid.”
And he’s happy for them. He really is. He can be a big enough man to admit that. But he hates that it makes something ache inside him, just a bit, to watch the way they’d kissed each other like coming home.
Still, whatever. He’s also a big enough man to admit that they’ve given him just the slightest sliver of hope. If Cassian Andor, the sour-faced rule-abiding Rebellion-worshipping asshole, can be that desperately into a woman as roguish and unpredictable as Jyn Erso, then surely there’s a chance that Leia might just be that into him.
“You’re not hurt, right?” she asks him, a few minutes later, when she sees him in the hall.
“Yeah. Not my blood. Just haven’t had a chance to change.”
And he sees the flicker of emotion that passes through her eyes as she continues her examination of him. Like she doesn’t trust his word. Like she needs to assure herself that he’s okay.
“Good,” she says. And her smile is small, barely a smile at all, but for just right now, it’s enough. “Go get changed, Han. It’s disgusting.”
“Right away, your worship,” Han drawls. And if his voice is a little softer towards her than usual…well, at least Chewie isn’t around to laugh at it.