“You’re sending Leia to Tatooine.”
It was not a question.
Bail sat back, uncertainty heavy in his bones.
Cassian waved the door shut behind him, shoulders tense, arms crossed. The sudden silence stifled.
“She’s ready,” Bail said, hoping he believed it enough to make it true.
“And a spy in the Imperial Senate for most of the past few years. In your field, she’d be considered a veteran.”
“Send me,” Cassian demanded fiercely, “She doesn’t need to get involved in this.”
“Involved?” Bail snorted, looking wryly up at him, “Cassian, you were there when she shot Lord Tion dead in our dining room. She can’t get any more involved than that.”
Cassian closed his eyes briefly, a war on his face. He gripped the back of the chair before him.
“This is different,” he said.
“No,” Bail said heavily, “It’s just another one of her ‘diplomatic missions’ to some Outer World planet in need of aid. Force knows there are enough of them out there.”
Cassian looked away sharply.
“I would have sent you,” Bail said, pinching the bridge of his nose, “If there’d been a choice.”
“There is a choice,” Cassian insisted, “What are you talking about?”
Bail dropped his hand and looked him in the eye.
“You’re going back to Scarif.”
This, too, was not a question.
“They don’t need me,” Cassian said quickly, “Melshi can handle it, and Jyn--”
He stopped short, swallowed.
Bail watched him shrewdly.
Another lie for the Rebellion.
“--she doesn’t need me either,” he finished.
“It’s a suicide mission,” Bail said flatly.
“We need the plans,” Cassian replied. Hotly, he added, “You believe her, don’t you?”
Bail’s gaze softened.
“You do,” he said, “So I guess that means I do too.”
Cassian’s brow furrowed, and he looked away again, argument derailed.
“If you don’t send me to Tatooine,” he said stiffly, “I’m going to Scarif.”
Bail drew a deep, slow breath.
“Cassian,” he said gently, sitting forward, “You’d have gone to Scarif no matter what I said.”
“No,” he snapped, confused, “I’d have gone wherever you asked me to go. When have I ever disobeyed your orders?”
“Don’t make this about orders,” Bail said sharply, “That’s not what this is about.”
“Then what? You’re not making any sense.”
“Some things,” Bail said, “Are more important than the Rebellion.”
“Yes, I know,” Cassian spat, “That’s all you’ve been saying to me this past year.”
“Knowing’s not the same as believing.”
“Ah, fark,” Cassian snarled, turning for the door, “If you won’t listen--”
“--She’s my daughter , Cassian,” Bail snapped, standing, “You think I don’t understand what I’m doing, sending her to Ben?” He braced a fist against his desk. “I’ve told her nothing--nothing about her parents, nothing about her own brother . And that was for a reason. I wanted to protect her, for as long as I could, from her past. You, of all people, should understand that.”
“And now?” Cassian demanded, “Now, you’re just done protecting her, you’re ready to destroy her own sense of identity--and for what?” He laughed harshly. “Some old man who can’t make up his mind about anything.”
“It’s not your duty to protect her,” Bail returned, eyes dark, shadowed, “I know how difficult this will be for her, but if she’s anything like her mother--” here, Cassian knew he wasn’t speaking of Breha, “--it will be in her to understand why I’ve waited so long. The Empire has forced my hand, and it would be better for her to find out now.” Bail sighed. “The Rebellion is growing. I’d rather she heard the truth from Ben than from Vader.”
Cassian clenched his jaw, swallowing words, so many meaningless words.
“Cassian,” Bail said quietly, “She’ll need you.”
Cassian shook his head.
“She doesn’t,” he said, “She has you.”
Bail smiled sadly, lines of age deep in his tired face.
“I don’t know if she’ll want me, after all this.”
“You’re her father.” Cassian swallowed, hand falling to the blaster at his side. “When has blood ever mattered?”
Bail looked down, stricken.
“I won’t ask you to return with me to Alderaan,” he said after a long silence.
“I would,” Cassian replied, “You know I would.”
Bail looked back up at him, eyes bright.
“I know,” he said softly.
Cassian drowned in raw emotion.
Roughly, he said, “Jyn’s waiting.”
“You should go,” Bail replied.
Cassian looked down, lips pressed together.
“Bail--” he said, strangled.
Large, familiar hands rested on his shoulders. He looked up.
“If there’s any way,” Bail said hoarsely, “Any way at all.”
“I know,” he said.
Bail pulled him in. Cassian closed his eyes.
For a momentary eternity, they stood together.
This was family, they thought.
This was home.