Even though it’s a cold, miserable excuse for a planet, after a standard month of living on Hoth with the Rebellion, Jyn’s surprised to discover it starts to feel like home. She stops getting lost in the endless, winding corridors of the base. Her body adjusts to the cold so she’s not always on the edge of a shiver. People greet her by name as she passes by. She even develops something of a routine; sparring in the morning with Chirrut and Luke or various Rebellion soldiers who think they can take her on, lunch with Bodhi, afternoons varied enough to keep things interesting, and nights with Cassian.
She half expects to get stir-crazy after a couple of weeks. She’s been a nomad her whole life, after all, bouncing from one planet to another since she was too young to remember. As it turns out, after wandering for twenty six years straight, a month sleeping in the same bed every night is a welcome change.
Stands to reason it wouldn’t last.
Luckily, she’s with Cassian when the call comes in, keeping him company while he fiddles with the computer on the U-wing. A pilot she vaguely recognizes from the slowly-reforming Gold Squadron knocks on the hull and pokes her head inside. “Major Andor? You’re wanted in Command.”
He glances up, his brow furrowing just slightly. “I’ll be right there.” The pilot nods and departs.
Cassian taps a quick command into the nav computer, and stands, stretching. He raises an eyebrow at Jyn, an invitation he hasn’t had to say aloud in weeks. Coming?
She grins and falls into step beside him.
Mon Mothma and Draven are waiting when they reach the command center. If they’re surprised to see Jyn at Cassian’s side, they don’t show it. Cassian notes Draven’s mouth thinning slightly; while Jyn hasn’t followed up on her threat to punch the General, she’s by no means forgiven him, or made any attempt to hide her grudge.
This time, she just nods once, sharply, and after a moment Draven returns the motion. Cassian stifles a smile and folds his arms. “Councilor. General. What’s going on?”
The two Rebellion leaders exchange a glance. “Despite your… unorthodox departure,” Draven says, “Rogue One did good work on Coruscant.” He taps at a holopad in his hand. “We’ve had a dozen ships and several times that many recruits trickle in over the past month.”
Cassian straightens a little, unable to help the surge of pride in his chest. He already knew they’d done well – had seen Avan and Rieve, briefly, before the smugglers left on a mission of their own – but praise from Draven was rare, even couched in mission statistics. “Thank you.”
“You didn’t call us here to congratulate us,” Jyn points out.
Mon Mothma nods. Her eyes flicker to Jyn’s shoulder, then to Cassian. “Major, is your team fully recovered from Coruscant?”
She glances to her counterpart. “General, if you would.”
Draven sets his holopad down, focusing across the display in front of him to meet Cassian’s eyes. “We’ve received Intelligence reports that a person of significant interest to this Rebellion has been located in Imperial custody.”
“Who?” Jyn asks.
The General takes a deliberate breath, a flash of annoyance crossing his features, but it doesn’t look like it’s directed at Jyn. “We don’t know,” he admits.
Jyn’s eyebrows rise. Cassian senses an impending crack at Draven’s competence and heads it off with his own question: “Then what do we know?”
Draven drums his fingers on his leg. “This person’s identity is hidden behind several high-security firewalls. That alone suggests they may be of interest to us. We’ve been able to dig up very little: just that they have ties to the Rebellion, and to Saw Gerrera.”
Jyn stiffens at the name, but doesn’t speak. Draven’s eyes flicker to her, a calculating look in his gaze. “We also found a name; rather, a code name. Songbird. Does that ring any bells, Sergeant Erso?”
She starts. “What?”
“You worked with Saw Gerrera,” Mothma says gently. “Did you ever hear of this Songbird?”
Jyn gives it a moment of thought. “No,” she says.
Cassian eyes her, unsure for a moment if she’s telling the truth. Her gaze flickers to him briefly, and he settles back. She’s guarded, yes, but not lying.
“You’re sure?” Draven presses.
Jyn’s eyes narrow. “Yes.”
“So, what’s the mission?” Cassian asks, before the tension can grow any thicker.
Draven breaks eye contact first. He taps at the table before them, bringing up an image of an unremarkable planet. “Our sources indicate the Songbird is being held in a prison on the Imperial world of Goshyn. It’s the back end of nowhere, but the prison is surprisingly well-defended, so discretion is our best bet. Your task is to infiltrate the prison, figure out who this Songbird is, and find out what they know.”
“Why?” Jyn asks.
Draven glances at her. “Because, Sergeant Erso, the secrecy around the Songbird’s identity is beyond anything I’ve encountered before. Whoever they are, someone in the Empire doesn’t want us finding out. That concerns me.” He looks back at Cassian. “Find out what information the Songbird has that might endanger this Rebellion.”
“And then?” Cassian asks, even though he knows the answer.
“Extract them, if possible.”
“And if not?” Jyn asks.
Draven meets her eyes squarely. “Do what has to be done. We’re running ragged as it is; if the Songbird has sensitive information, it cannot be allowed to fall into the hands of the enemy.”
Jyn smiles bitterly. “I’m sensing a trend with you, General.”
“Someone has to make the hard decisions, Erso,” Draven says, with none of the anger Cassian expected. “Ask Major Andor about that sometime.”
“Unless you have any further questions,” Mon Mothma interjects calmly, “All the intel we have will be sent to your ship.”
Cassian nods. “We’ll leave in the morning.”
“May the Force be with you,” Mothma says.
“And with you,” Cassian replies. He glances at Jyn.
She falls into step beside him as they pace back towards the hangar. Under the anger simmering on the surface, he can almost see her mind working.
Then, suddenly, she grabs his arm and yanks him into an alcove. He checks the instinct to pull free. She spends a second checking the hallway, then retreats into the little nook with him. They stand in silence for a long moment. Cassian waits.
When it doesn’t seem like she’s going to speak first, he breaks the silence. “Jyn?”
She looks up at him, her eyes guarded in a way he hasn’t seen in a long time. “If we’re gonna do this,” she says quietly, “We need some ground rules.”
“Ground rules?” he echoes. Her face is deadly serious. He nods. “Okay.”
“I don’t care what Draven says,” she bites out. “We will not kill Songbird.”
“Do you know who it is?” Cassian asks curiously.
She shakes her head. “But if they’re on our side, they deserve better than a blaster shot in the back. We have to be better than that.”
Cassian pauses. In reality, they both know that Jyn couldn’t stop him if he decided it was the right thing to do. This isn’t about that. This is about her father again, about trust.
There’s an easy answer here, but he’s promised both of them he’s not going to lie to her anymore. “Jyn… We may not have a choice.”
“No,” she says.
“It’s not just about you,” he says, as gently as he can. “You’re in the Rebellion now. Sometimes we have to do things—“
Her fists clench. “Don’t you dare pull the party line on me, Cassian Andor,” she growls. “You’re right, this is the Rebellion. Not the Empire. Prove it. We did it on Coruscant, we can do it again.”
He turns the problem over in his mind for a moment. “We have to agree,” he says, finally.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” he says. “I can’t promise it won’t come to that. I don’t want it to. If you believe nothing else, believe that.” He takes a deep breath. “But I promise, I won’t make that call without you. We have to agree. Deal?”
She studies him. “And if I never say yes?”
He meets her eyes. “Then we’ll find another way.”
Cassian can pinpoint the exact moment she decides to believe him, like something clicks into place in the air between them. The tension in her shoulders eases. “Okay,” she says. “Deal.”
Draven wouldn’t be happy about that, Cassian thinks. He’d said as much in private meetings – that Jyn Erso was too much of an idealist, unwilling to make hard decisions. But Cassian knows better; Jyn just has a much higher threshold for ‘acceptable’ losses. He’s increasingly sure that’s not a bad thing.
“Are we okay?” he asks, tentatively.
She nods and takes his hand long enough to squeeze it. “We’re good.” She rises up on tip-toe to kiss his cheek lightly, then drops back down. “Let’s go fill in the others.”