Cassian is a man who knows his weaknesses well enough, and isn’t foolishly arrogant to ignore them — Force knows it’s something that got agents better than him killed by stupid mistakes. Once he realizes something isn’t really his forte, he does his best to improve, hence why he’s given a rank of a major at twenty-six years old soon after Scarif, something that not many Rebel Alliance soldiers can say about themselves.
What he’s not good at, however, is showing those weaknesses he’s well aware of to others. Naturally, some things Cassian isn’t able to hide, not in front of people like General Draven or Bail Organa, anyway (Bail knew better than to speak of them, knowing it’d make him sulk for hours, pushing himself to do more, to do better; his commanding officer, however, doesn’t seem to mind bringing those up during briefings, though he at least has the decency to do it while they’re alone). He never really had to worry about anyone else before, simply because they weren’t any people he could turn to; there was only Kay-tu, and those who gave him orders.
It should have occured to Cassian sooner that with Rogue One accompanying him on missions, it won’t be so easy anymore.
He’s not exactly ashamed to show them that he’s just as human as they are and can kriff something up any moment — they’ve already seen him at his worst and his best, there’s no point in pretending he’s someone else, not anymore — but it’s a little unnerving how they can see through his little habits, how they’ll notice a weakness if they see it. There’s nothing malicious in the way they point it out, more often that not offering help, but...
Cassian isn’t used to it. Never was.
(“You realize,” Kay-tu says one evening, as Cassian is replacing a wire in his leg, “that according to my vast data on human behaviour, what you’re experiencing with your team is defined as friendship?”)
Friends or not, he still stubbornly refuses them and nods stiffly when Baze makes a remark about how he favors his right side in a fight, or when Bodhi jokes how he has two left hands when it comes to repairing ships.
Then, one simple mission gone awry, Cassian finds himself in a fight without his trusty blaster to help him out. It’s only Chirrut’s incredible combat skills that manage to get him out from the awful situation he’s found himself thrown into, and that’s not without few painful bruises.
The older man waits until they’re back on the ship to make a comment.
“You know, captain, there’s no shame in asking for help. I’m sure Jyn wouldn’t mind giving you few fighting lessons,” he speaks, with that knowing smile of his on his lips. Cassian only grumbles something in response, too annoyed and battered to let himself be pulled in the discussion.
The truth is, he’s never been too good at hand-to-hand combat. He’s been trained, of course, and knows the basics well enough, but Cassian prefers to strike from the shadows, having learned his opponent’s weak points before and exploiting them. If a spy has to retreat to a brawl, he’s not a good spy, after all.
Still, Chirrut’s words follow him long after the bruises have faded from his skin. The idea of asking Jyn — Jyn, the woman who could probably down a dozen of stormtroopers herself, whose eyes burn with fire so bright that it’s hard to look away from — is more intimidating that he’d like to admit.
(It’s not that he’s ashamed to admit before her that he needs help. It’s not.)
He asks Jyn over the breakfast whether she’d mind if he joined her in her usual training routine. Show him few of her tricks, he tells her casually, even as he can hear blood pounding in his ears.
She agrees, because Jyn Erso never misses a chance to show off her skills, surprised as she is at his request. It’s not only her that’s surprised — Kay-tu doesn’t hide it either when Cassian tells him about it as he changes into more comfortable clothing in his quarters.
“I can tell you with eighty-seven point six percent certainty that a sparring session with Jyn Erso will resolve in bruises. Given her aggresive and unpredictable behaviour, the chance you will be seriously injured is—”
“Shut up, Kay,” he hisses.
“It’s high, Cassian. I shall fetch a medkit before your return,” the droid says, ignoring him altogether. Cassian doesn’t bother arguing, somewhat hurt over how little faith his companion puts in his fighting skills.
He’s anxious stepping into the training room, where Jyn already awaits him, a wicked glint in her green eyes. She’s donned in similar clothes that he is — loose sweatpants and a black tank top issued by Rebellion, which shows off much more skin than her usual outfits do. Her hands are already covered in protective wraps and Cassian manages to peel his gaze away from her naked shoulders just in time to catch the pair she throws at him.
“I assume you know how to put these on?”
His only response to her teasing is a glare as he wraps his hands in the thick straps of material, thankfully still remembering how to do it. When he’s done, he looks up at Jyn, who’s been watching him closely the entire time.
“Good. Before we start, you gotta do a little warm up.”
“What?” He croaks out, taken aback. Jyn rolls her eyes.
“Two laps around the room. Few swings at the punching bag. You know, the usual.”
Cassian holds her gaze for a moment, trying to figure out whether she’s making fun of him or not. It doesn’t seem to be the case, though, as she looks at him expectantly, her brows raised.
“Well, what are you waiting for?”
“What about you?”
She seems irritated as she replies, “Already done it.”
It’s probably true, he realizes now, given how flushed her cheeks are, and how the pink spreads far lower than her neck. He averts his gaze, cursing himself inwardly for being anxious. Even if she kicks his ass to the Mustafar and back, it’s not like she’s gonna boast about it over the entire base.
“Okay, I’m on it."
Fifteen minutes, two laps, and a round with a punching bag later, Cassian is already covered in sweat, his breath quickened, heart pounding wildly. Jyn seems satisfied as she gazes over him and nods.
“Now,” she says, a hint of smile on her face, “we can start.”
She doesn’t give him a second to catch his breath as she strikes, forcing him to stumble backwards, barely managing to block her punch in time. The thought of arguing briefly crosses his mind, before he realizes that it would be pointless — Jyn doesn’t play fair in a fight, he’s seen it before with his own eyes; she plays to survive.
It’s few minutes in their sparring match, when Cassian notices something.
“You’re being soft on me,” he says, ducking a swing that could probably break his nose if landed on target.
Fighting with Jyn is not an easy feat and she’s already gotten better of him few times — he has no doubt in his mind that colorful bruises will blossom on his chest before the evening comes — but it’s obvious that she’s holding back. He’s watched her train recruits before and while she’s never quite as ferocious with them as she is at battlefield, she’s still a force to be reckoned with.
“What makes you think that?” Jyn retorts, circling him like a predator. Cassian risks throwing a punch at her but she evades it with a look on her face that says that’s all you’ve got?
“Come on, I’m not going to break.”
Dangerous spark flashes in her eyes then and Cassian supresses a shudder. Even in her training attire, with her hair messy and sweaty, cheeks flushed — or maybe especially then — she’s a sight to behold.
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you, rebel boy.”
She lunges as soon as the words leave her lips. Her strikes are faster, stronger, movements more fluid. She becomes more brutal instead of graceful, but Cassian has no time to admire her fighting style as he tries his best to block her punches. He falls into the defensive, not even thinking about trying to attack as he retreats back, avoiding her fists.
“Still thinking it’s a good idea?” Jyn asks, a little breathless, landing a hit to his sternum that is strong enough to cause him to stumble.
He grits his teeth as he regains his footing, glaring down at her.
“I’m not giving up yet.”
Cassian doesn’t know how much time passes as they continue their match — could be minutes or hours, though the rational part of his mind suggests it’s the former, seeing as he’s not in his best shape. His back hits the mattress more than once or twice after Jyn sends him flying to the ground but he’s always quick to get back up, not allowing her yet to win, even though he’s known from the beginning that he’s doomed in this fight.
“Faster! Don’t think, just punch! You’re not using your left arm enough!”
Jyn is barking tips at him together with the punches she throws, and Cassian barely has time to even breath as she presses on and on, forcing him to retreat. At the same time, he can’t help but notice how... surprisingly fun it is, even if he’s going to be sore tomorrow. He begins to understand why Jyn enjoys sparring with recruits and Chirrut so much.
She furiously pulls back the hair falling on her face and it’s the opening that Cassian has been waiting for. He strikes nimbly but Jyn blocks it with ease; he then shoves his foot between hers, hooking it around the ankle and pulls, making her fall to the ground.
For a moment, time stops. Jyn stares up at him with wide eyes and Cassian is sure that his own expression mirrors hers. It lasts long enough that he begins to think he’s done something wrong, but a roguish grin blooms on her face seconds later and he only manages to think oh no, before he comes tumbling to the ground as well when she uses his own method on him.
His victory is short-lived; even though they battle for the dominant position, fists shoving and legs kicking, Jyn manages to get he upper hand quickly enough.
She straddles him, trapping him in place with her thighs on either side of him, a triumphant smirk on her lips. He notes the sweat trickling down the side of her face, the glint in her eyes, the way that her chest rises with every heavy breath and really, Cassian can think of many worse ways to lose a fight. This may be the nicest one so far.
“Looks like you’ve lost,” Jyn says, clearly satisfied. She doesn’t move, her hands resting on his chest and Cassian swallows thickly. He’s not sure whether she fully realizes the position they have found themselves in, or the way that the air around them suddenly feels warmer, heavier somehow.
She certainly must be able to feel his heart thumping wildly under the palm of her hand, though.
“It would appear so, yes.”
She cocks her head to the side, calculating look in her eyes and then swiftly gets off him, her hands brushing against his thighs as she does so and oh, she realizes well enough. Cassian doesn’t allow himself to miss the warmth of her body on him and silently accepts the hand she offers him.
“Tomorrow, the same time?” Jyn asks after pulling him to his feet. He nods, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.
“Good,” she smiles at him, cheeks still tinged pink, and Cassian suddenly can’t be more thankful for Chirrut suggesting that he asks Jyn to tutor him.
Some weaknesses might be just worth showing.