Cassian was impossibly quiet on the journey to the ground. Jyn could hear his laboured breaths, the haggard sound of him fighting to breathe, but he did not speak, even to guide her through the labyrinthine Imperial corridors. Eventually, they emerged in the open air, small fires burning, stormtroopers running to evacuation ships. No one tried to stop them as she half-carried, half-dragged Cassian towards the ship. The muscles in her legs and back still screamed from the climb up the data-storage shaft, but Cassian was in worse shape. His steps followed along with hers as best they could, but he could not hold his own weight, and his eyes unfocused as they walked, glazing over. She held him tighter and kept walking, clinging to a slender hope of a way out. Closer to the landing pad, another figure, determinedly limping forward, focused into her vision. Baze, Chirrut hanging over his shoulder, was moving with difficulty, but he was moving. The power pack of his gun was leaking hydraulic fluid, and his gun arm was bleeding profusely, a gory wound visible. Chirrut did not move, but Jyn pushed worries out of her mind. Her only focus was the ship and Cassian. She trusted Baze to follow if he could. No fear or anger or worry touched her. They were useless feelings, so she kept moving, each step more painful than the last. An explosion had sent bodies and crates flying from the opening of the ship, black scorch marks decorating the ramp. A long bloody smear reached into the ship, the sign of a body dragged across the hold door. For a moment she was afraid, but she pushed it away. If Bodhi was gone, she would fly. She would tie the joystick to Cassian’s hands if she needed to. She kept moving.
“Jyn!” came a shout from the cockpit, and it was the first human sound she had heard since leaving the platform, different entirely from Cassian’s desperate animal breaths.
“Bodhi,” she shouted back. “Take us out of here!”
The engine started, the access ramp beginning to lift just as Baze stepped inside the hold. Jyn helped Cassian down to lie on one of the side benches in the hold.
“Stay here,” she said uselessly, and Cassian nodded back at her, letting himself lie back. You’re in shock, she thought to herself giddily. Baze had laid Chirrut down, and was muttering to himself, one of his huge, gentle hands cradling his companion’s head. The ship lifted from the ground and, suddenly, in the distance, she heard a huge explosion that shook the whole ship, sending her staggering.
She had heard that sound before, she thought, and grabbed the ladder to the cockpit. Her shoulders cried out in pain but she forced herself to restrain her reaction to a grunt. If she started screaming now, she would fall to the ground and never stop. She pulled herself upwards, her feet and hands struggling to grasp the ladder. The blood was here too, splattered on the walls. The floor of the cockpit was slippery with it, but as she pulled herself out of the access shaft, the blood quickly left her thoughts. The windscreen was full of a blinding light from the huge explosion that had lifted thousands of tons of water into one giant wave, swiftly bearing down on them.
“Bodhi, we need to get out of here!” She shouted, throwing herself forward into the co-pilot’s chair. Bodhi, strapped into the pilot’s chair, was already fighting the controls, pushing the transport to the limits of its speed. Jyn started punching in hyperspace code, desperately trying to speed the computer. Bodhi groaned beside her, swaying in his seat, pulling at the joystick with all his might, his manic eyes flicking to their altitude calculator.
“Now, now,” he stuttered quickly, his voice hoarse. “Hyperspace now!”
Jyn slammed her fist down on the jump button. A terrible groaning sound filled the cockpit, warning buzzers shrieking from the console, as the ship struggled against Scarif’s gravity well, the light outside the window stretching and lengthening until, impossibly, against all odds, they were thrown forwards, up and away, into the light of hyperspace.
She turned to Bodhi, already reaching forward to hug him, wanting to cheer, but pulled back abruptly. Even for him, Bodhi’s eyes were manic, his skin pale and sweaty, and he was shaking.
“Jyn,” he said, the word barely making his past his lips. She realised his voice was hoarse as if he had been screaming. He tried again to speak, but the words stuttered on his lips.
“Oh gods above,” she heard herself say quietly, the source of the blood now clear. Bodhi’s leg had been torn apart above the knee, the muscle and flesh mangled beyond recognition. He had managed, she did not know how, to tie a makeshift tourniquet above the wound, but he still bled steadily. She had no idea how much blood he has lost. For a split second, the urge to scream was overwhelming. She could not carry them all on her shoulders, and her fear and anger and exhaustion battled in her mind. How long could she drag them all forward?
“Jyn,” Bodhi said again, and the thoughts fled in the face of his fading gaze. Another man who had tried to make things right would not die because she had been too slow.
She pulled his flight straps, dragging him from the chair and onto the bloody floor of the cockpit. The med kit came with them, and working quickly, trying not to think too hard about the mangled flesh, she began to pack the wound with bandages. Above the strap he had tied himself, she tied another more tightly, trying to stem the bleeding, but already the bandages were soaked through. The wound had to be cauterised, and now, before he bled out. What she wouldn’t give for one of the mythical Jedi swords, the beams of impossibly hot light. She wasn’t a Jedi, she had no lightsaber, but she was on an imperial transport ship.
“Baze!” She shouted down the access shaft. She heard him grunt back. They were all injured and she hadn’t had time to assess the extent yet. She didn’t even know if Baze was still standing.
“Bodhi’s injured. I need a laser saw, there should be one in the mechanic’s kit, under the left bench!”
She heard a grinding sound, like a box being moved, but not questions, no delaying that could kill Bodhi. Just a little further, please, she prayed, clutching at the kyber crystal around her neck.
“I’m throwing it up,” called Baze from below. She leaned back, and with a loud grunt, the laser saw came tumbling up the access shaft. Struggling for balance, she reached out and grabbed it, quickly rushing to Bodhi’s side
“Bodhi, Bodhi,” she murmured, pushing his sweaty hair back from his face. “I’m going to stop the bleeding. I need you not to fight me, I’m not strong enough now to hold you down.”
His eyes flickered over her face, not catching on anything, his mouth stuttering on words she couldn’t hear, but he nodded, just barely. He was almost gone, and all she had was hope. She powered up the saw, bracing herself on his remaining whole leg. Bodhi screamed, the sound of it echoing through the ship, drowning out the whoosh of hyperspace around them. Down below, though she couldn’t see, Bodhi’s scream jolted Cassian out of his concussed haze for a moment, long enough for him to realise he was on the ship, and that someone had laid him down. Jyn hadn’t thought Bodhi had it left in him to scream, but she focused on the cut. The smell of burning flesh was horrible and overwhelming, filling her nostrils with stink and pressing on her gag reflex. She stomached it, just barely, and powered down the laser saw when the cut was finished. It was clean, and the bleeding had stopped, and, slowly, she realised that the cockpit was quiet. Bodhi had passed out and all she could hear was his breathing, and the whoosh of hyperspace.
She sat back on her heels, exhaustion washing over her. When no emergency immediately presented itself, she struggled to her feet, stumbling to the pilot’s chair. It was sticky with blood, but, as tired as she was, she still fell into it. She tried not to imagine Bodhi’s journey from the hold, where the blood was the oldest, up the access shaft, pulling himself and the dead weight of his leg, struggling even to crawl. He had been driven by the same force that drove her now, a determination to live, and the trust that if she pushed herself only slightly further, someone relied on her. Slowly, she plugged in Yavin IV into the hyperspace computer. The console beeped happily at her, accepting the coordinates.
From there, it felt almost easy. Baze and her rigged a sling to get Bodhi down the access shaft. Luckily, he stayed unconscious the whole way down, since the two of them were still injured, and they banged him off the sides a few times. In the hold, Cassian was asleep, and they moved him to the floor, as gently as they could, moving Bodhi onto the bench. She had triaged for Saw as a child, and herself as she grew older. There were no blood packs to rig for Bodhi, but there was a fluids IV, and she set it up. He would have to hold up until they could get him to real care. She tucked blankets around Cassian as best she could, trying to make him comfortable, and listened to his laboured breathing. She didn’t think he had punctured a lung, but she was sure he had a broken rib, and she did not know if he had broken his leg. There were painkillers for when he woke up, but aside from that, little she could do.
Baze sat on the ground next to Chirrut, holding his hand, while Jyn applied a bacta patch to his arm, and helped him out of the support collar and power pack of his gun. From there, she moved to Chirrut. His breaths were slow and steady, but when she felt for his pulse, she could barely feel the tiny bird-like flicker of his heartbeat.
“Baze,” she said quietly, not sure what she wanted to say.
“He is one with the force and the force is with him,” Baze said steadily. She nodded. Perhaps the force would carry him to Yavin IV, where he could be helped, and perhaps it would not. Chirrut would not have seen fit to guess, so she did not try. Slowly, conscious of the pain in her shoulders, she untied her mother’s necklace and tucked it under the fingers of Chirrut’s right hand. Baze held the other.
Then, it was just herself. She sat on the floor of the hold, next to the med kit, but it seemed such a struggle to move. Her tired mind told her her shoulders were strained, the left even dislocated perhaps, a cut on her face was still bleeding, and she was surely in shock, but as she looked at the wounded in the hold with her, she thought, here is far enough, and promptly fell asleep against the bulkhead.
Sometime later, an annoying pinging noise filtered through her dark, unbroken sleep. She groaned; her shoulders hurt even more now, and the blood on her face had dried uncomfortably. The pinging continued, and still groaning, she opened her eyes. The others still slept the deep sleep of the newly safe, and she pulled herself to her feet, her muscles shaking. Cassian’s breathing was laboured but regular, and Bodhi had regained a little colour, so she climbed the access shaft towards the insistent pinging. The cockpit still stunk of burned flesh, and the mangled remains of Bodhi’s lower leg lay in the corner with the laser saw. She lifted her shirt to cover her nose and mouth against the smell, and sat in the co-pilot’s chair, where it was less bloody, smacking the console to turn off the pinging, which was telling them they were coming up on Yavin IV. Pulling down the drive handle, she dropped them out of hyperspace outside the rebel defense ring. Their ship didn’t look like much, covered in scorch marks and missing part of the left wing, but it was still an imperial transport ship, and she didn’t want to get shot down by an overenthusiastic rebel.
“This is Rogue One, Rebel Command come in. This is Rogue One, requesting permission to land.” She said into the com. The com buzzed with silent static for only slightly too long before a distant voice replied.
“Rogue One, this is Rebel Command. We copy you. Welcome home. You have permission to land at Pad 6, Tower 2,” said the coms operator.
“Thank you,” she said, finding herself smiling. “I have wounded on board. I’ll need a med team to meet us at landing.”
“Copy that Rogue One. See you on the ground.”
She woke Cassian, and it seemed the sleep had helped cleared his eyes of the earlier daze.
He pushed himself up slowly and looked at her, gaunt with exhaustion.
“K2?” he asked, but it sounded like he knew the answer. She shook her head.
“Cassian,” she said gently, not sure really what she would say. The mission had only succeed because of K2 holding the door to the database as long as he could, but he had not walked out with them. It felt cruel. Cassian pulled himself to standing with difficulty and limped to the hold door.
“It's fine,” he said hoarsely, looking away from her, rubbing at his face.
Standing next to him, looking out on the landing pad as medical staff and droids ran towards them, she put her hand on his shoulder, and he let it stay there for a moment before he shrugged, squared his shoulders and stepped out of the ship.
Jyn followed Cassian and into the roiling chaos of the Rebel base, unsure where she was meant to be, only knowing there would always be a space next to him. The harsh light of Yavin IV made her eyes water after the comparative darkness of the hold. They followed Bodhi, shaking and covered in blood but on a medical droid’s stretcher, to the medical centre, and she was barely able to take her eyes off Cassian across from her, the darkness and lightness of his face, his eyes set on the next step, even as their legs failed underneath them.
Around them, the Rebel base rushed, nurses running towards Bodhi and Chirrut, voices shouting. The rushing in her ears slowed only when near Cassian, and they clung to one another like sailors in a storm. Baze cleaved to Chirrut, unmoved by the waves of medical workers who moved around them, the whirring machines working at Chirrut’s still body. Nurses had forced dried spacer’s cakes into their hands, and watched them eat with eagle eyes, but it was Jyn who helped Cassian limp back to his room, his voice hoarse after briefing General Draven from a chair in the ward, and it was Jyn who helped him lie down under sheets he had left rumpled.
She sat on the edge of his bed for a moment and tried to think of where to go, but she was so tired that, even sitting, her legs shook with exhaustion. It was the shock, maybe, but she did not feel as if she was in shock. She felt as if a great weight had been lifted from her, and her body was only now realising how heavy it truly had been. When Cassian’s hand curved around her hip and he murmured sleepily, she could not muster the effort to think of anything but to lie down next to him, warm from shared body heat, and finally, finally, sleep a true dreamless sleep.
She woke gradually, blinking against the burn of Yavin’s sun through the uncovered windows, pulling herself up to sitting. The air was humid, almost sticky, and her clothes were uncomfortable against her skin. Cassian was asleep next to her, his arm thrown over his eyes against the light and his shirt off, pulled off in the night. The light caught on the thin lines of old scars across his chest and newer purpling bruises and scabbed over marks, but he looked warm and comfortable.
“Hmmm,” he said, rolling over toward her. The sheet fell away, revealing the blaster still holstered at his hip, the trousers he had slept in. “What time is it?”
Jyn looked around Cassian’s tiny room, the datapads on his desk, a starchart peeling away from the wall. The datapads would have a clock on them, but she didn’t want to move from the bed to check them.
“Morning time,” she said, looking down at him. A wide bruise had flowered on his jaw, and the cuts on his temples and cheeks had scabbed. The nurses had checked both of them, but there was still blood dried on the side of his face, and caught in his hair. She tried not to think about what she looked like, or what new bruises had risen over night. He rolled his eyes.
“I see that,” he said, and pulled his feet around to sit on the side of the bed. He paused, before, with some effort, pulling himself up to standing. The pain was clear on his face when he limped the few steps to his wardrobe but he pushed through, slowly pulling on a light grey shirt. Without asking, he pulled out a pair of uniform trousers, and a shirt, and tossed them onto the bed. She raised an eyebrow at him.
“For you,” he said, “You can change in the fresher. Unless you want to stay in that imperial uniform.”
“Not really,” she said, and pulled the clothes over. The fresher was tiny, a sink and a portable sonic shower, and, as she went to close the door, she caught only a glimpse of Cassian’s bare legs as he turned away to change. It seemed strange, to her, to expect privacy when they had already seen each other as closely as people could, on that tower over Scarif’s blue seas. There had been no privacy in prison, but there it had wore on her, another indignity the universe had piled upon her. She had not expected it here, and she was not sure if she wanted it.
She changed quickly, scrubbing dried blood from her arms and hands with a small cloth, and pulling her unwashed hair back. Cassian’s clothes were too big, but designed as a uniform to fit anyone who needed it, so she tucked her shirt into her trousers and was glad to be wearing clean clothes at all. She had gone longer without, and with worse injuries, before. In the room, Cassian was waiting, sitting reading a datapad on the edge of the bed, sheets still lying rumpled.
“Ready to go?” he asked, looking up from the pad.
“Yeah,” she said, bending to slide her feet into her boots. They were grimy and sand covered, and there was blood on the outside, but they were the only shoes she owned now. “Where are we going?”
“Requisitions,” Cassian said. “You need new shoes.”
She couldn't argue with that, and they stepped out of the shelter of Cassian’s tiny room and into the sudden rush of the rebel base. It wasn't quite the press of trading centres she knew in passing, but humans, other species, and droids all populated the thin hallways of the Yavin base, all of them on their own determined paths. Men and women in flight suits clumped together in packs, others in an eclectic mix of uniforms passing between them. Droids stomped and rolled and stepped lightly through it all, small R2 and R4 units beeping merrily.
Some of the rebels, especially those out of uniform, nodded to Cassian, or murmured ‘Captain Andor’ as they passed. Everyone ignored her. A new recruit in a second hand uniform barely merited attention in the packed rebel base, and she passed by unnoticed.
Requisitions was a large, grey room halved by a heavy black counter, and everywhere, the room was packed with boxes and crates of every possible size and shape. Some of them were freighters’ storage boxes, but others were stamped with Alderaanian seals, or Songan bar codes. There were sealed crates of bacta bandages, and overflowing packages of dried space rations, and piles upon piles of clothes. Behind the counter was a tall Tholothian, with stern, bright blue eyes.
“Captain Andor,” she said.
“Sergeant Sulara,” he said, and leaned casually on the counter. “I need some new clothes.”
She rolled her eyes.
“Why am I not surprised Andor,” she said, in the deep, melodic tones of a Tholothian. “What do you need?”
“A new set of shirts for me, and boots, and everything to kit out a-” He paused, and turned to look at Jyn from top to toe. She grimaced at him. “-sergeant, yeah make it for a sergeant,” he said.
Sulara glanced over at her.
“For her? Come here Sergeant, let's get you kitted out.”
Jyn made another, more insistent face at Cassan, stepping forward to the counter as Sulara turned away.
“Sergeant?” she mouthed, but Cassian just grinned at her and shrugged. Quickly, the pile of kit on the counter grew. Two pairs of grey-green military trousers, in her size after Sulara quizzed her about her measurements, undershirts, a cloth jacket, a pair of black boots, a blue canvas holdall with a Togruta logo on it, clearly stolen, and, set casually on top of the pile, a chunky black blaster.
She picked it up while Cassian filled in paperwork with Sulara, turning it over to check the casing and powerpack, curving her fingers around the grips. It had been used before, and her hands moulded easily into the impressed shapes of the former owner. Cassian met her eyes in a quick glance and nodded. It was hers to keep, not a loan.
She packed the rest into the holdall, strapped the blaster around her hips, so it hung in easy reach, and pulled the cloth jacket with the sergeant’s pips on over Cassian’s undershirt.
“You look the part now,” he said, when she turned to look at him. He looked unspeakably proud.
“The rebellion is real to me now,” she said, raising her eyebrows at him. His mouth twisted, a little, to have his words turned back on him, but he nodded.
The blaster added a swagger to her step that made her feel more comfortable among the hallways of strangers. They were forced to press themselves up against the wall when a group of pilots went running past, towards the hanger, and their shoulders ended up pressed against one another, Cassian’s fingers holding tightly to her side. There was a sense of urgency everywhere, men and women striving for something greater than themselves. Cassian’s stern desperation no longer seemed strange. It seemed all the officers here felt something similar.
The medical centre was cut out of the same ancient stone as the rest of the base, but it had been filled with machinery so much as to almost entirely disguise it. Cassian whispered, bent head, with a nurse at the door, but Jyn already felt herself pulled towards one curtained off corner before the nurse pointed towards it.
Inside the hanging blue-white curtains, Bodhi slept without waking, covered in bacta bandages and beeping machines. His leg ended in a lump under the blankets, where they had swaddled it in bandages. A second bed sat near him, where Chirrut lay, his breathing barely visible. It seemed right that they lay near each other, the last flotsam of the Scarif team. Against the wall, Baze sat, seemingly asleep, his gun sitting across his crossed legs. Someone had put stitches in the wide slash across his forehead, and one of his arms was in a sling.
The nurse stopped in the opening of the curtains, her forehead creased in a frown.
“Captain Andor,” she said, and then paused. “Sergeant?”
They both looked at her and it took her a moment to realise the rank was her.
“Erso,” she said. “Sergeant Erso.” The nurse nodded, and Jyn breathed a sigh of relief. She was so used to her name causing a reaction. It seemed the news of Galen Erso’s terrible role in the war had not reached here yet.
“I’m the Nurse on duty, Lieutenant Juviley.”
Cassian nodded to Baze’s sleeping form.
“Were there no beds?” he asked. She shook her head.
“We don’t have the space. I sent a message to resources, but they said they needed them for fighters. I've tried to find him a room, but he won't leave,” she said softly. “He slept here all night.”
Cassian’s face darkened, but he nodded.
“I'll send a message to resources, they'll find him a room. This man is our ally,” he said. She smiled tightly, clearly tired of spreading resources thinly.
Jyn walked closer to the lying figures, feeling like she should be on her tiptoes.
“How are they?” she asked, looking behind her at the nurse. Juviley wore a nurse's smock over clashing uniform trousers, giving the unfortunate impression of patchwork. The longer Jyn spent with the rebellion, the more she realised how stretched their resources were.
“Stable,” said Juviley. “We’ve kept Îmwe sedated; he had internal bleeding, and some neural damage we're not certain of yet. Rook had some broken bones, and the trauma of his leg, but there’s no infection. He's been responding well to bacta, but he’ll be here for a while while he recovers, and we’ll want to discuss physical therapy. We're letting them sleep as much as we can.”
“We understand,” Cassian said. “Are there any chairs?”
The nurses came and went around where they sat, changing fluids, and checking machines. Baze woke eventually and sat with them, watching Chirrut breathe slowly, and Bodhi stir gently in his sleep.
“Chirrut came to the temple when I was a child,” Baze said, as they spoke in soft tones. The future was so uncertain, it seemed wise to speak only of the past. Baze’s deep, rumbling voice was comforting, among the soft whirr of the medical machines. There were other patients here, soldiers and pilots and spies. Cassian had stopped at some of them, greeted the ones he knew, but he only sat with them.
“The Guardians would curse the day he came to the temple, when we were boys,” Baze said, smiling widely. “He was stubborn, fought anything that displeased him. Asked too many questions.”
“So what you are saying,” Cassian said, casually. “Is that he has not changed at all?”
That made Baze laugh, and he clapped Cassian on the shoulder.
“Chirrut is a rock in the river of the Force,” Baze said gently, when he finished laughing. “He moves for no one.”
Cassian and Baze were two solid presences on either side of Jyn, boxing her in from the noise and people of the medical centre. Elsewhere, she saw other clusters of people, like them, waiting on the sick or injured, as the nurses and doctors and medical droids busied around them. The tightness of people around her, the feeling of death close by, felt like Saw’s cadre, without the warmth of the stone or Jeddah’s sun.
“Captain Andor,” a silvery protocol droid, some of its panels gun-metal grey, had stopped by their small group. Cassian looked up, his hair falling just over his eyes, his features already falling into a scowl. “General Draven requests your presence immediately.”
Cassian leaned back to look at the protocol droid, his arm reaching out to sit along the back of Jyn’s chair.
“F-B, not right now. I’m with my men. Can it wait?
The protocol droid shook its head.
“I’m afraid not, Captain Andor. The general was very insistent.”
Cassian shifted forward, grimacing as he pulled himself to his feet. She could see he was favouring his right side, trying to avoid putting weight on his left leg.
“I’ll come,” Jyn said, standing. She tried not to make the same grimace as Cassian, even though after sitting, her tortured muscles screamed. Cassian looked at her and then shrugged.
“If you want,” he said. Baze resettled in his chair, returning to his vigil over Chirrut, and by extension, Bodhi.
Jyn had never had the luxury of moving in the rarified circles that were served by protocol droids, except for a few uncertain memories of her distant childhood. F-B’s jerky movements didn’t bother her, but he made her more aware of K2’s missing presence.
The command centre was dark, largely empty of staff, although a few technicians sat at lit desks listening intently to their headphones. Mon Mothma nearly shone in her robes among the darkness of the display screens, General Draven looking as if his uniform was just dirty rather than intentionally tan next to her.
“Captain Andor,” Mothma said, looking up from one of the displays. “Thank you for coming. We have received urgent intelligence regarding the Death Star plans.”
Jyn fell into step behind Cassian, as his shoulders squared.
“Yes,” he said, “What is its status?”
“They were transferred to the Profundity, which was almost immediately boarded.” said Draven bluntly, bracing his hands against the edge of the projection stands. “Some men were able to escape the boarding, and transport the plans to her highness Princess Leia Organa on the Tantive IV, under cover of a diplomatic mission. Unfortunately, we lost contact with them as they left the Savareen sector.” Draven pulled up a green-light map of the sector, highlighting the southern edge.
It took effort for Jyn to lock her knees and stay silent, exercising her old survival skill of staying unnoticed. If they had lost the plans, all they had done, losing K2, Bodhi and Chirrut’s injuries, all the men who had held the beach for them, her father’s life’s work, it would mean nothing.
“We have just received a communication from Princess Leia.” Mothma said. “The Tantive was boarded, and the princess taken captive on the Death Star, but she was able to hide the plans with an operative on a nearby planet. They assisted her in making an escape from the Imperials, and they are on course to us here on Yavin, with the plans intact.”
She saw Cassian exhale, the slight fall of his shoulders, and tried to unwind the tenseness in her own muscles. The plans had made it, they would come to the rebels.
“Your efforts on Scarif were not completely disastrous, if against orders,” Draven said, although the words seemed dragged out of him by Mothma’s presence, rather than out of genuine feeling.
Mothma, betraying, for the first time, some weakness, ran a hand over her face. Jyn felt tired still, but she knew that it was her wounds, the undercurrent of fear she still felt for Bodhi and Chirrut, the insecurity of a new place to find her feet. Mothma looked exhausted in a way Jyn did not think she had ever felt.
“It is apparent that General Tarkin felt the Death Star had been sufficiently tested, and determined to exercise a display of force,” she said, in her soft, musical voice. “The weapon was used on Alderaan. It was entirely destroyed.”
Cassian sat down in one of the technician’s chairs with a sudden thud that made Jyn jump in surprise. It was as if his legs had given out underneath him.
“Alderaan is gone?” he said. Jyn felt like she was falling, and braced herself on the back of his chair, letting her fingers just touch his shoulder. An entire planet gone, with all its people, and their loves and hopes and futures. It was horrific. Mothma could only hold their gaze for a moment before she looked away.
“Yes,” she said, finally. “Alderaan is gone.”
“I... I had agents there,” Cassian said, running a nervous hand through his hair. “Goddamnit, half the rebellion is resourced from Alderaan.”
“Plausibly more,” Draven said, still looking down at the rolling status displays. “We'll have to restructure on a massive scale.”
Jyn looked down at Cassian in disbelief.
“Resources? Who cares about resources? A billion people were just murdered!” She couldn't believe them. How heartless, how political to think only of how they would find the money. The Death Star used on a whole planet. It seemed impossibly horrible.
“Look, Ms. Erso,” Draven said, rounding on her. She planted her feet and looked him square in the eye.
“Sergeant,” she interrupted, stopping him as he drew breath. “Sergeant Erso.”
Draven looked at Cassian accusingly, but to his credit, he slouched, overly casual on purpose, and shrugged.
“Battlefield promotion,” he said. Draven glowered, although Jyn caught Mothma hiding a small smile behind her hand.
“Sergeant Erso,” began Draven, the words clearly unpleasant in his mouth. “Our first priority is not your sensibilities. We are fighting a war, and regardless of what you think, we have soldiers to feed.”
Mothma raised a hand, and Draven closed his mouth on whatever else he had wanted to suggest. She looked visibly shaken and there was a long pause before she spoke.
“I lost my oldest friend and comrade today,” she said, “As well as a planet I have known since I was a girl. It is our solemn duty to ensure that loss is not in vain, Sergeant Erso.” She paused, lowering her hand. Jyn bent her head. She wasn’t ashamed, but Mothma, and even Draven, were right. Mothma turned to Cassian. “Captain Andor, we are desperately in need of further intelligence on the weapon’s movements while we wait for Princess Leia.”
“Yes sir. I have contacts on the Salin Corridor.”
“General Draven will give you further orders,” Mothma said, nodding and turning to leave the command centre. Her robes made her movements slow and deliberate, measured in a way that made Jyn feel calm. At the edge of the dim light that lit the command centre, she paused, and her light eyes met Jyn’s.
“Welcome to the Rebellion, Sergeant,” she said, and smiled softly.
Cassian stayed seated during Draven’s orders, only parts of which Jyn understood. She gripped his shoulder tightly. She didn’t know where else to go if she wasn’t following him. Draven gave her the courtesy of a shallow tense nod when he passed her, and they were left alone along the flickering green lights of the command centre.
Cassian sighed deeply and she stepped around to offer him an arm to pull himself up: she had suspected he stayed sat down to save his leg. He groaned like an old man as he stood.
“You should see the doctor,” she said, as he limped away. He shrugged.
“It’ll heal,” he said, and limped on.
Occasionally, the stone warren of rooms opened to a window, and Jyn could see the jungle sky beginning to darken. An X-Wing swooped in to land low over the trees, catching the shine of the spotlights on the underside of its wing.
Cassian shouldered open a plain black door. Far away from the hallways retrofitted with automatic doors, this one hung on a squeaky hinge. It was mostly empty, aside from two shoddy desks, piles of curling star charts, and communication equipment. This was not the sleek, blinking command centre, but felt unoccupied, as if it had been left to sit in its own dust for months at a time.
“This is my office,” Cassian said, setting his blaster on a desk. “Yours too now, I guess.”
She raised an eyebrow at him, leaning against the other desk. There was a deck of yellow Sabacc cards, which she shuffled idly, and a packet of dry spacer’s cakes, crumbling onto the desk.
“Who did this used to belong to?” she asked. Cassian lowered himself into his desk chair slowly, and straightened his bad leg.
“Sergeant Kriffic,” he said, pushing star charts off the communications monitor on his desk. “He was killed on Drogheda a few months ago. I never looked through his files, you can start there.”
“Start?” she said, stopping shuffling. Cassian looked up at her, through his long, aggravating eyelashes.
“You’re an intelligence officer now,” he said, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, to suddenly throw yourself into service to the Rebellion. “I promoted you.”
Jyn rolled her eyes, but put the shuffled cards in her pocket.
“I’m not your dogsbody,” she said, sitting behind the desk, and pulling out a dusty datapad. Cassian rolled his eyes even more aggressively than she did, and slid a single earpiece on, tuning the communications monitor.
Sergeant Kriffic’s notes were disorganised, and parts of them were in code, but Saw had used similar ciphers. When she was a child, he would have her write messages if his hands shook too badly. She worked slowly, connecting information with contacts with troop movements from the fleets. Saw had moved less men, in smaller areas, but it was work he has liked her for, even as a child. Still attached to the monitor, Cassian chatted quietly, his voice at times barely a murmur. It was not in Basic, and she did not push herself to listen.
The light from the thin, high window in Cassian’s office faded quickly, and when he turned the lamp on above his desk, Jyn threw the old occupant’s notes on the table. Cassian had not spoken for some time, and the monitor made only the hiss of a broken connection.
“C’mon, you said you’d find Baze a room,” she said, standing, stretching out a kink in her shoulders. Cassian nodded, though he was still looking at the monitor.
“Not good news?” she asked quietly. He looked up at her, his eyes the same deep colour she had seen across from her in the elevator of the Scarif tower. She did not know what he had done to her to fill with something she had spent her youth trying to set aside: loyalty.
“I can't be sure,” he said, just as quietly as she had. “They think it's on the move.”
She shuddered. She could see it in her mind’s eye, the distant menace above Jeddah, or Scarif. It seemed like a great silent predator, slowly moving to consume them all. With it came a horrible certainty that it would haunt her whole life, this horrific creation of her father’s, a metal killer for a sister.
“Here,” Cassian said, seeming to shake himself from a similar pause to think. He handed her a data pad. “Take this to Requisitions. They’ll be able to allocate a room for Baze. You should get some sleep.”
“So should you,”
“I’ve got to get this to Draven,” he said, tapping his own data pad. She waited and he sighed, and rolled his eyes. “Go!”
The base at night was much quieter. Near-silent cleaning droids buzzed along the stone floors. Men and women without uniforms moved quickly through the hallways, their heavy boots clicking against the stone. One of them covered her face with her hands when Jyn looked at her, and she averted her eyes after that.
Sulara barely scanned the data pad before handing her a single black key fob, and waving her out of the office. Jyn wasn’t sure if the Tholothian slept.
In the dark ward, Jyn found her way by the soft, blue lights of the medical droids. Baze was whispering to himself, so quietly that she could only make out the constant rhythm.
“Baze,” she whispered, pausing at the opening of the privacy curtain. He looked up from his vigil at Chirrut’s bedside, his face still in darkness. “Come away from the ward,” she said quietly. As Baze rose to meet her, it was easy to see someone else struggling to his feet, gun slung over his back. Baze carried with him the wave of smells that filled her with memories of an older life in the caves outside Jeddah, the same feeling Saw had always awoken in her. She had not thought to grieve for him, even for a moment, in the rush from Jeddah to Scarif. She had done all her grieving as a younger woman, abandoned by a second father, running across the galaxy from herself and the law, but it was too easy, now, to see Saw in Baze’s silhouette. He had been as a father to her, as flawed and broken a family as they were, and she had grieved him twice, a hundred times, when she had first left Jeddah.
She was crying, she realised, and wiped the tears from her cheeks, trying to shake them from her mind. Baze did not mention them when she passed him his key with wet fingers.
“I will be here tomorrow,” he said to her, and she nodded, sniffing quietly. “They say Chirrut will be awake then.”
She smiled, knowing it seemed watery and weak.
Later, in the darkness of Cassian’s room, she undressed, falling asleep in his unmade bed in just his undershirt. The humid air of Yavin felt more foreign to her than the chill of space, and she pulled the sheets around her, even as she started to sweat.
It felt like only moments had passed, but she woke drowsily to the sound of Cassian sitting on the bed, the room of the door falling closed behind him.
“Hmmm?” she said drowsily, struggling against sleep. The light of Yavin’s full moon lit Cassian’s bare back as he bent to remove his boots.
“Go to sleep,” he said quietly, turning to look at her. The moonlight threw the curves of his face into stark contrast, eerily beautiful. It was just a moment, but she felt her stomach swoop, as if she was falling from a great height. He was so gorgeous.
There was a look in his eyes she did not understand, as if he was looking for something far away. He reached over to push some of her hair off her face, the tips of his fingers soft on her face, his palm warm. Something hung in the balance, she thought, the ease which they had fallen into, the man with whom she had seen death, who had stood with her when she felt no other hope, who had given her that hope.
She surged up to kiss him, the sheets falling away from her body and making her skin rise in goosebumps in the cool night air. His hand cradled the side of her face, as he twisted and pulled himself closer to her in the bed. It felt like something had fallen into place, some piece of a puzzle she had found herself in.
Cassian kissed gently, not pushing her any further than them stretched towards each other, their bodies only connected in the kiss. She ran a hand over his bare shoulder, down his back, and he shivered. She felt around Cassian the way she had only ever felt on mission in Jeddah, alone and free to climb the rock-faces and fight the Empire, alive with adrenaline and joy. Even stealing, she had never felt like this since she had left the desert.
They broke apart from the kiss slowly, Cassian crawling forward on the bed, his uniform trousers still on.
“Jyn,” he said quietly, but she shushed him and kissed him again, pulling him down onto the bed and rolling on top of him. His knees rose to brace against her as she pulled her undershirt off, her legs already bare. She looked too pale in the white light of the moon, any sun she had as a child gone from a life lived on space stations and ships, but he ran his hands up her stomach as if she were precious, his hands coming to rest under her breasts.
He ran a thumb over her nipple, and she exhaled sharply, not quite a moan.
She reached down to open his uniform trousers and he rushed to help her, pushing them halfway down his thighs. He was half-hard already, and she was tempted to lift up and take him inside her, feel him harden from inside her cunt. With his hands finally free, Cassian used one to pull her closer, the other pressing between her thighs. He found her clitoris easily, rolling it under his finger. She grew wetter under his hands, as he kissed her breasts, his teeth catching at her nipples. Breathing heavily, she kissed his forehead, rolling her hips against his fingers. His body felt warm against hers, chasing the chill away. Soft coils of pleasure filled her belly, and radiated through her body, to her fingers and toes, up to the crown of her head. With Cassian under her, she could be anything, go anywhere.
She felt wet enough and she wanted to surprise him, keep the upper hand, so she lifted her hips, lining herself up, and thrust downward, taking his cock to the hilt.
“Fuck,” Cassian jerked in surprise, his grip tightening on her hip. She expected him to fall back to let her ride him but as she rolled her hips, he kissed her neck and collarbone, moaning.
She felt full, the pressure inside her cunt and the slide of his cock against her filling her with pleasure. Cassian rolled one of her nipples between his fingers and the building pressure within her suddenly came to a head.
He held her as she shook through her orgasm, letting her fall forward onto his chest on the come down. For a second, she could only breathe heavily, her face pressed against Cassian’s shoulder. His arm around her waist was light, but he was breathing loudly, and he was still hard inside her. Underneath her, she could feel him trying not to move, trembling with the effort. She smiled, and rolled her hips again.
Cassian choked, the arm around her waist tightening. She rolled her hips again, feeling sensitive but warm, satisfied.
“Fuck, Jyn,” Cassian said, before thrusting again. She lifted up, bracing herself on the bed, and pushing down hard against his thrusts.
“You don’t have to be careful,” she said, smiling at him, but he lasted not a moment longer, gasping, and coming inside her.
She let him pause for a moment, heaving a huge breath, before she stretched upwards, and let his cock slip out of her obscenely, the wetness on the inside of her thighs making her feel dirty in an exciting way. In the evening light, Cassian’s half-lidded stare was cast in darkness, but he looked up at her the way she had seen him look at her on the elevator in the Scarif tower: like she was gladly the last thing he’d ever see.
She flopped down next to him, his arm under her neck, and kicked at the sheets, tucking her foot under to pull them up over their waists. It had been over-warm when she fell asleep, but Yavin’s nights were cool, and a light breeze blew through the open window. Cassian’s breathing evened out slowly, as they looked at the old grey stone of the ceiling together, feeling satisfied and tired. His fingers ruffled her hair lightly.
“They’re going to order an evacuation tomorrow,” He said, his fingers still running through her hair. He paused. She waited for a moment, expecting him to ask her to leave, waiting for the penny to drop. Braced for it, she knew she would rage and scream and cry, but she would go, and take Bodhi with her. She would not stay with someone who asked her to leave. “The intelligence isn’t good.” He said, softly. Something in his voice made Jyn sit up to look at him, too surprised to stop herself. He smiled at her, but the look, as if she was the last thing he’d see, had not faded.
“It’s coming here,” he said. “The Death Star is coming to Yavin. I already told Draven.”
Chill spread through her body, goosebumps rising across her arms and legs. That thing her father had built would chase them across the Galaxy until it died or they did.
“Do not ask me to leave,” she said, hating to beg. He shook his head.
“I couldn’t.” he said, touching her hair again. “We’ll fight this thing.”
She nodded, and bent to kiss him.
“I still have hope,” she whispered.
They laid in each other's arms until, slowly, neither expecting it, they slept.
Morning dawned on Yavin, the sun apparently unaware that doom lurked around the corner. Jyn woke first and washed in the small sonic fresher, running her hands through her hair and tying it back. She dressed in the uniform Sulara had given her, tucking green-brown uniform pants into a spacer’s thick-soled black boots, and shrugging on a sargeant's coat. Her blaster hung at her hip, giving her a solid weight to trust in. Cassian was still asleep, snuffling sleepily at the pillow, his hair falling over his face.
Jyn took a sheaf of papers from her desk in Cassian’s office, and a carbon pencil, to work in the medical centre. Bodhi didn’t know these people, and he would be afraid when he woke up, she thought.
The path to the medical centre carried her past an open hangar, where X-Wings and U-Wings lined up facing Yavin’s rising sun. Pilots, in their orange flight suits, milled around their ships, shouting to one another and laughing. There were children with a tall purple-skinned Twi’lek women, playing a tag game among the legs of a ship.
“Sergeant!” someone shouted, and one of the pilots, handsome, with a crop of brown hair, jogged over to her. He stuck his hand out, and she shook it gently, smiling warily at him.
“You’re from the Rogue One team, right?” he asked. “I’m Captain Antilles. I wanted to say, welcome to the Rebellion.”
“Sergeant Erso,” she said flatly. He had a firm, dry handshake, and lively eyes with crinkles at the corners. “It’s nice to meet you, Captain.”
He smiled, very easily, with a mouth of square, white teeth.
“Gods, call me Wedge.” He said. “Captain is just for meetings, and you won’t have many with me.” He paused. “Unless you’re planning on training as a pilot?” He asked, the corners of his mouth turning up hopefully. She thought of Bodhi, who had that same hopeful look in his eyes, when he wasn’t afraid. She shook her head.
“We have a pilot,” she said. He nodded easily, and shrugged.
“Worth a shot. Word’s getting ‘round about what you guys did on Scarif. Half the pilots think you’re mad,” he said playfully. She raised an eyebrow at him. He scratched at his ear, looking bashful. Something like realisation dawned; he was flirting with her. Or, he was trying to.
“I'll take that as a compliment,” she said guardedly. Something cold gripped at her inside. She felt guilty to be talking to a handsome pilot in the sun when Bodhi was still in the hospital, missing a leg, and the Death Star was inching towards them. She wondered if this was what Cassian felt, to know things that others didn’t. There would be no use for flirting if the Death Star came to Yavin IV, if the rebellion could not figure out a way to defeat it.
Her father had not died so that she could be flirted with in the sun. He had given his life to fight for a cause, the cause that had consumed her mother, and Saw Guerrera, and her brothers-in-arms from the cadre, the soldiers on the beaches of Scarif, K2, and Cassian’s childhood. How did anyone fight this war without becoming consumed?
She realised that Captain Antilles had said something, but she had no stomach for strangers anymore. She pulled back the corners of her mouth in a straight line, avoiding a smile.
“It was nice to meet you, Captain.” She said, taking a step backwards, before turning and striding back into the comfortable darkness of the base. Her eyes took a moment to readjust, and she breathed deeply of the cool, inside air. She had dawdled, and Bodhi, if he was awake by now, would be wondering where the rest of his friends were.
In the medic centre, Bodhi was awake, sitting up in his bed, a small paper book in his hands. He fumbled it closed when she appeared in the gap of the curtains; one of his thumbs was swaddled in bandages. He smoothed the top of his sheets nervously, with the unbandaged hand. At the end of the bed, the sheets rose up around the dome that protected the end of his leg. She sat down on the chair pulled up at the side of his bed. Chirrut’s bed was gone, and the closed off section felt empty.
“Hey,” he said, smiling nervously. His hands fluttered up to his hair and then stopped, clearly catching himself before he used his bandaged hand.
“You're awake,” she said.
“They let me keep the good drugs though,” Bodhi said, moving his unbandaged hand, where his IV was connected to the back of his hand.
“That’s good,” she said. “Did they move Chirrut?”
Bodhit shook his head.
“He woke up in the night.” he said. “They tried to make him stay, but you know, he did the harmless old blind guy routine, and kept tripping them with his staff, till they let him go.”
“Hard to keep him somewhere he doesn't want to be,” Jyn said.
Bodhi reached for her, and, surprised, she took his hand, careful of the IV. He was warm, his palm worked in the specific soft calluses of a pilot.
“I wanted…” he paused, and then clearly pushed himself to continue. “to thank you, for what you did on the ship. I remember you talking to me, before..”
“You passed out,” she said gently. “No shame in that.”
“I know,” he said, nodding. “But what you did. The nurses think you saved my life.”
“You saved us all, Bodhi,” she said, leaning forward. He had to understand. Her horrible fear when she had seen the blood in the ship's hold, and her tiredness, the exhaustion after the climb up the tower. She had wanted to fall to the ground, and go no further. Bodhi had carried them a little further, in the belly of the ship. “The ship - if it hadn't been for you, we would never have got off Scarif. I was returning the favour.”
She smiled, knowing it was a poor explanation of the way she felt. She had fought alongside the cadre, but they had not been her friends - they would have killed her if they knew the truth of her parents, or she had not held to the purity of their political alliances, and she had known it. They would have left her to die on Scarif, to save themselves. Bodhi had waited for them, bleeding to death, with no surety they would ever come. He squeezed her hand gently, something like understanding in his eyes.
“We're Rogue One now,” he said.
“I think the whole base knows us,” she said, trying to be lighter. “I had a captain try and flirt with me on the way here because I was on Rogue One.”
Bodhi laughed, but it quickly turned to a painful wheeze, and she rubbed his palm with her thumb until he caught his breath. He smiled, but it made his face look even more drawn.
“I think I'll be here for a while,” he said ruefully. “They don't have a bacta tank, and they need to spend the gel they have on pilots to fly for them. There's going to be an offensive.”
“How do you know that?” she asked.
“Hard to sleep,” he said, with a grimace. “All the patients talk. I'm a good listener. You have to be, to survive in the empire.”
“The Death Star is coming here,” she said, unable to hold it back.
Bodhi swallowed, and his eyes shifted nervously, but his grip on her hand tightened.
“How long?” he asked, and his voice did not shake. She remembered his manic eyes, the sweat pouring off him, but his hands on the control of the ship had always been steady. He had a pilot’s pragmatism. She shook her head.
“A few days maybe,” she answered. “We don’t know.”
His dark eyes were afraid but he met her gaze. Something moved between them, huge and unspoken, goosebumps rising on the back of her neck. Eventually, he shrugged.
“I never thought I’d survive defecting anyway,” he said matter-of-factly, and the tension broke just enough for her to snort in amusement.
“What are you reading?” she asked. He suddenly blushed deeply, and she nearly laughed aloud. She had never seen him blush, and his small, embarrassed smile lit his face with warmth. He was handsome when he smiled, and it thrilled her to see him happy, even if just for a moment.
She let go of his hand and reached over, pulling the paperback towards her. The title was a lurid pink and blue, and two naked humanoids were embracing on the cover, clearly in the throes of passion.
“A Corellian romance novel?” she asked, with a raised eyebrow. They were popular with spacers, people spending long periods of time in space without company. A well-thumbed copy, the spine broken at the best places, had been passed between the cells in prison under the cover of night.
“The nurse lent it to me,” Bodhi said sheepishly. She smiled slyly at him.
“Well, Mr. Rook, have you been feeling lonely?” she said, with an exaggerated leer. He choked loudly, and turned bright red, and her poker face broke and she sat back, creased with laughter. Laughing loosened something within her that had tightened at the news of the Death Star, the coming offensive that would kill innocents. They were alive, and moving forward. It was the least to ask for, but she had often had less than that. She patted Bodhi’s hand gently.
“Don’t worry, I’m sure being a hero of the rebellion will help you get some,” she said playfully.
“Making fun of a man with one leg is just taking advantage,” he grumbled good-naturedly under the blush. She smiled. Soon they would give him a prosthetic and he would hobble for a while, but then no one who had not been on the ship with them would ever know the difference. He would be a hero of the Rebellion, honourably injured in battle. Saw had never been ashamed of his prosthetics. At night, around the campfire and drunk on home-brewed liquor, he would thump his metal parts and roar that he had sacrificed them to the Force, that they might defeat the Empire. She had helped him maintain the electronics, out in the Jeddan desert, and wondered if, one day, she too would be a sacrifice to the Force, as her mother had been, as Saw’s body had been.
She reached out and tucked a piece of his long hair behind his ear, the tips of her fingers brushing against his temple. He blushed again, his cheeks heating, and she smiled at him.
“You’ll be up and about in no time,” she said gently, pulling back from him. She felt herself blushing, and felt silly. What embarrassment could there be, between them, when she had held his sweaty, bleeding body, or when he had walked through death to clear her father’s shame?
“Jyn?” said a voice, and Jyn twisted in her seat, suddenly aware of her and Bodhi’s closeness, her hand over his on the bed. Cassian stood in the gap of the privacy curtain, his hand resting easily on his belt above his blaster. Bodhi smiled, like he had been lit up inside by a sun, happier than Jyn had ever seen him.
“Yes?” she said, standing.
“I was looking for you,” he said, stepping inside the curtain. “I was gonna show you the canteen today.”
She had not eaten since dried spacer’s cakes eaten quickly in Cassian’s office, and suddenly reminded of it, hunger bit more insistently at her. Like many spacers and people who made their living at the edge of things, she was used to hunger, to eating whenever possible but accepting there would be nothing more for days. Honestly, she had not expected to eat again so soon, entirely out of force of habit.
She looked across at Bodhi, and he looked down at himself, swaddled in bandages, smiling sheepishly.
“I don’t think I can come along,” he said, and Cassian smiled the surprisingly soft, crooked smile she had only seen a few times. Something connected the three of them, some thread that had hooked into the hollow of her chest and that pulled her towards them. She had expected to be pulled in multiple directions, to wish for the freedom of loneliness on the rim that she knew so well, or to be pulled between Bodhi’s gentleness and Cassian’s mystery, but she felt only a rush of something other people must call belonging.
“You stay here and heal,” he said to Bodhi. “Jyn?” He raised an eyebrow.
“Yeah,” she said, turning to say goodbye. Bodhi smiled gently, and she reached out to tuck some of his long hair behind his ear, the same place she had touched him earlier, the hair now free again. “We’ll see you soon.”
She pulled the privacy curtain slightly more closed as they left, leaving Bodhi to his missing leg and poor novels. She fell easily into step with Cassian.
The Rebel canteen was grey, with mass-produced metal tables and chairs occupied in places by pilots in orange jump suits, or staff in beige uniforms, clustered in groups. The tables looked like they had once been evenly spaced, but had been spread haphazardly around the room by hundreds of rebels sitting and standing over and over again. There was an automatic drinks dispenser, and a droid spooning out rice, a brown-grey goulash, and a lurid-coloured salad of native fruit. It was more food than Jyn had seen in years. Cassian watched her fill her tray, and a grey metal cup, before he steered her to an empty table, with a clear view of the door. She watched him while she ate, quickly and methodically. The salad was spicy, and the first fresh fruit she had eaten since before prison, and she had to work hard to slow her hungry stomach, working her jaw to stop herself from swallowing too quickly. Cassian was ignoring her, or, at least, not looking at her. It was hard to tell sometimes. He was watching the other rebels, the groups that moved between each other, gossiping and eating, sometimes laughing or gesturing. It was the normal sounds of a group, and Jyn wasn’t about to let it slow down her first square meal in months.
“People are nervous,” he said quietly, when she looked up from her food. He nodded gently towards a cluster of staff whispering intently. Jyn shrugged.
“People get nervous.” It wasn't her business, though she left that unsaid. She rather suspected that Cassian thought it should be her business. He shot her a hard look.
“There's going to be a briefing on the Death Star plans at 13:00, for the pilots. They think they've found a way to fight it.” He said, starting on his own tray of food. She gripped her fork tightly, her knuckles turning white.
“All these people are going to fight?” she said, looking over her shoulder again. When she looked back, Cassian looked at her as if she had solved a difficult problem. He nodded.
“Like I said, they’re nervous.” He said, before returning to eating.
The briefing room was tightly packed with pilots and command staff, and Cassian let her linger at the back, in front of the telemetry display screens. He elbowed her, and nodded at the small figure in white robes to the side of the room..
“That’s Princess Leia.” he said. “She brought the plans here.”
Jyn watched her during the briefing. It was almost anticlimactic to listen to the description of the coming offensive. They had risked their lives, and good people had died to bring them to this moment, which would send the children in orange jumpsuits to war. The Princess was straight-backed, almost rigid as she listened to the briefing. Jyn remembered: Alderaan was gone.
One of the pilots protested loudly a few rows to the right of her and Cassian.
“That’s impossible, even for a computer!” he said, scoffing. Another boy, in sun-bleached white, shook his head.
“It’s not impossible. I used to bulls-eye womp rats in my T-16 back home and they’re not much bigger than two metres!”
Jyn leaned closer to Cassian.
“What's a womp rat?” she whispered. He shrugged. The lieutenant leading the briefing seemed content to ignore the outburst and moved on, issuing orders. Captain Antilles was there, but he looked less dashing now, more tight-lipped and nervous.
“Then man your ships and may the Force be with you.” said the lieutenant.
The pilots dispersed quickly, but the boy who had talked about being able to make the shot that would end this all drifted towards the Princess. A figure lingered at the edge of the crowd towered over by a huge Wookie but staying in the shadows, just like them. He looked familiar. She prodded at the edge of her memories. She’d had a lot of contacts as a thief, and the many smugglers had started to blur into one another.
“I know him,” she said quietly to Cassian, and he turned.
“Who, the kid?” he asked.
“No,” she shook her head. “The spacer.” She paused and then tapped Cassian. “That's Han Solo. What's he doing here?”
“Who's Han Solo?” Cassian asked, looking over his shoulder as he turned to leave. She stepped to catch up with him.
“The smuggler. He made the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs.” She said.
“That's impossible,” Cassian said, raising an eyebrow at her. She shook her head.
“Not impossible, just crazy. How'd he end up in the Rebellion?”
“The princess arrived here with a smuggler. He helped her escape, apparently .” Cassian said. Jyn made a face.
“Han Solo’s only ever cared about three things: his ship, his first mate, and himself. He wouldn't stop to save a drowning man if he had a hovership.” She said firmly.
Both Cassian’s eyebrows went up in surprise at that.
“You've worked with him?” he asked.
“He stiffed me on goods I sold to him.” She said, still burned a bit from the scam. She had found out too late the buyer's real price, and Solo had made a good profit while she was on the run from the law, her arrest warrant in every jumped-up Imperial captain's datapad. “I don't know what he's doing here. He was never political.”
Cassian had a way of looking at her that made her feel undressed. All her years of artifice, of strength she had learned to fake in a galaxy that demanded it, faded away, and she felt caught in a lie.
“Neither were you. He might have changed his mind,” he said mildly. Jyn curled her lip but didn't argue. From the bowels of the temple base, they had emerged back into the natural light of the jungle sun. Behind the temples, the Rebellion had cleared square empty fields. On the other side, in the hangers, non-essential staff and families were filing onto small ships, capable of evading Imperial star destroyers. Some of them were going to potential future bases, in the hope the Rebellion would survive, in some form or another. Others would hide among civilians, or with intelligence contacts spread through the galaxy. They would move, unseen, within the mass of illegal and unrecorded galactic citizens that lived beyond the reach of the Empire.
In the fields, some of the staff who were not evacuating worked off their nervous energy in hand-to-hand or in the far shooting range. Many of them wore the same practical but unremarkable clothes Cassian did, their bodies worked in the muscles of constant use and survival.
She looked out over the people training.
“Shouldn't they be preparing for the attack?” She asked.
“We're as prepared as we'll ever be,” Cassian said. “Why make people cower inside like animals when they could be outside and free?” He gestured, and she looked at all the people differently. They were training, keeping their muscles ready, in the belief they would survive long enough for their skills to become useful. They were hopeful.
A figure began to limp towards them, and it swiftly focussed into Chirrut, leaning heavily on his staff, but smiling all the same. Baze followed behind him, looking smaller without his gun, wearing a tan shirt and dark trousers clearly donated from somewhere. They were both bruised and battered, but when Chirrut smiled his whole face lit up with recognisable joy.
“Captain,” he said, nodding to Cassian. “And I hear you have been promoted, Jyn Erso. They will make a rebel of you yet.”
Jyn smiled. Chirrut reminded her of her mother. She’d had deep laugh lines at the corners of her mouth, like he did. It was hard to remember details, and the mental image of her mother had blurred over the years, like a stone smoothed by a stream.
“If the Force wills it,” she said, and Chirrut smiled more deeply, if that was possible. He reached inside the top fold of his robe, and from it pulled her kyber crystal, still hanging from its battered cord, fraying at the ends.
“I believe this is yours,” he said, reaching forward towards her. When she closed her hand around it, his fingers under hers, she felt its familiar vibration.
“Thank you,” she said, and tied the cord around her neck, the crystal visible over her shirt.
“I believe I should thank you,” he said. “Did you find the redemption you sought?”
She looked sideways at Cassian, and he smiled back.
“I did.” she said.
“Good,” Chirrut said, with the air of a teacher whose student had learned an important lesson. “It is difficult to find love in war,” and Jyn saw that Baze’s hand rested on the small of Chirrut’s back, supporting him, “but find it we must.”
Cassian coloured and looked away, but he did not argue. Jyn supposed she would never hear the words from him. Perhaps some day from Bodhi, who had a gentler nature. She expected rage or grief or regret to rise up within her, in the familiar temper that had thrown her between lovers for so long. But as she looked at Cassian, she wondered what purpose the words would serve. He had held her as her father lay dying; he had stayed her hand from revenge against the man who murdered her parents. Bodhi had carried them in the belly of his ship, had risked everything to be by their side. They would do it again. She did not need them to say anything.
Chirrut tapped her shoulder with his staff.
“The Force reawakens,” he said, in the clear, certain way he had when he saw the future. “The Jedi will return.”
“The Jedi are a dream for children,” Cassian said.
“Perhaps not a dream for much longer, Captain” Chirrut said, his clouded eyes looking just over Cassian’s shoulder. “Some of the men say Princess Leia came here with a Jedi.”
Cassian snorted. “She came here with a farm boy and a smuggler. No Jedi. You've been listening to too much gossip.”
“Well,” Chirrut said in a reasonable voice. “The Force can work through strange vessels. Even you, Captain Andor.”
Cassian made a face, the one of a skeptic who had been seen through life by a firm disbelief of those who made promises. She recognised it easily.
“We shall see. Until then, I will trust in the Rebellion, rather than the Jedi.” He said. He gestured to the practice fields, the sweep of his arm taking in the whole Rebellion, and all the people who fought for it. He turned back to Chirrut and Baze. “Will you be staying with us? You would be welcome.”
Baze coughed, and shrugged slowly.
“The temple is gone. We are not needed anywhere.” he said. “We will decide when Chirrut is healed.”
Chirrut rolled his eyes.
“I am much better now. Mother Hen worries too much.”
“Do not argue. You could not fight a shadow.”
“Ahh, but shadows are wiley. Perhaps I am right to avoid battle with them.” Chirrut joked.
Baze smiled indulgently but Jyn could see that Chirrut was pale, and he leaned heavily on his staff. As they walked away, still bickering, Chirrut limped noticeably.
“I hope they stay.” She said, looking at Cassian. She wanted a piece of the Jeddan desert to stay with her in space. It would make the dark days to come easier.
“I don't think they will.” he said, watching them walk away. She raised her eyebrows at him.
“They stayed on Jeddah all that time, even after the temple was emptied.” he said. “It will take time to find somewhere they're dedicated to again.”
“Maybe.” she said. She hoped otherwise.
She awoke with a jolt, someone shaking her arm. For a split second of sinking horror, she was back in prison, being woken by the guards for work duty, preparing to defend herself from the other inmates, but then the memory was gone, fading quickly as she blinked. Cassian was touching her arm, and she could hear the steady wail of an alarm thrumming through the base.
“It's time,” Cassian said, his face like grey weather. They had slept half-clothed and all she had to do was pull on her crumpled uniform shirt. Cassian shrugged into his jacket.
“They'll have me flying gunner with a pilot,” he said, as they dressed. “I don't know where you'll be.” She nodded. He grabbed her just before the door.
“Jyn,” he said, and then stopped. She touched the side of his face gently. Would it haunt her if they left some things unsaid?
“It's okay,” she said. “Let's see this through.”
For a second, they breathed in each other’s presence, but the sounds of the base filtered quickly back into their imagined peace and they stepped apart.
The hangers were a roiling mass of humanity and machinery, everywhere men and women running to their stations. Crowds of mechanics were rolling old Y-wings out of the hangers to landing pads where they could take off.
The medical bay had clearly disgorged itself, and there were injured pilots, still bandaged, climbing into the cockpits of X-wings, mechanics still in slings rolling onto carts under the underside of ships.
“Jyn!” called a voice, and when she turned she saw it was Bodhi, on crutches, at the side of a battered two-person Y-wing. Cassian and her both jogged over to him.
“They need every pilot they can find,” he said, leaning on his crutch, when they were within arm’s reach. “I need a gunner.”
“I've never flown an Y-wing,” Jyn said. She'd always worked alone, and an Y-wing was too hard to fly solo. She looked across at Cassian, but he had already popped the windshield and was climbing in.
He smiled at her wickedly.
“I'm a better shot than you anyway,” he said. “Report to the lieutenant on duty, they'll tell you where you're needed.”
She nodded and turned to hug Bodhi, careful of his crutches.
“May the Force be with you,” she said, holding him tightly.
“You too,” Bodhi said, blushing when they pulled apart. She darted in and kissed his check quickly before turning away. She forced herself to walk away with a steady pace, without looking behind her. They would come back.
At the cluster of rebels in the back of the hanger, a battered looking man in a lieutenant’s uniform was barking orders. Mechanics, in their thick jackets were directing the new recruits towards ships that sat unused.
When she managed to push her way to one of the mechanics, he thrust a plastasteel welder into her hands.
“A ship comes down, you patch the holes till it can fly again.” he said, without patience. “We need every bucket we have up there. You make them stay up.”
Those hours of the battle with the Death Star would always be a deep blur in Jyn’s memories. When the ships took off, the X-Wings rising up above the mass of cobbled-together ships, a great cheer went up among the crowd of rebels and Jyn cheered with them, willing Cassian and Bodhi to a safe return.
The ships would not stop coming. Desperate pilots rode their tailspins into the landing pads, and the swarm of mechanics and repair droids would descend, patching blaster holes that had been patched a hundred times before. Again and again, she watched pilots barely scrape a safe landing and then run, full-tilt, to the next available ship with working blasters. There were more ships than pilots and anyone who could hold a joystick was up in the air, laying down cover for the X-Wing and snub-fighter squadrons.
She was using the plastasteel welder on a jagged hole in the cockpit of a U-wing, trying to soften the edges before she applied a patch, when the sound of re-entry pulled her away. Overhead, an Y-wing, with blaster burns streaked up the side, was flying erratically, and the back half, where the gunner sat, was on fire. She caught a glimpse of the pilot’s dark hair against the plastasteel of the cockpit, the flight goggles catching the light.
A sudden cold fear seized her and she felt moved by a force outside her control, already running towards the end-point of the Y-wing’s flight path. It was coming down hard, the flames licking the side, and it was like she could see inside the ship with her mind's eye; Bodhi wrestling with the controls, Cassian unconscious in the gunner’s seat, the fire reaching up his legs.
The Y-wing grinded into the landing pad with a sickening crunch, but it was as if Jyn could hear nothing else but her own laboured breathing. Other rebels were pulling away the cockpit casing, and Jyn fell on it with her bare hands, her vision full of the image of Bodhi and Cassian in danger. Using the welder, she pulled away a panel and grabbed the hand that reached for her.
It wasn't Bodhi.
It was a woman in a flight suit, her long black hair pulled back in a ponytail, flight goggles perched on top, scrambling out of the ship. Suddenly, Jyn realised the ship was the wrong colour to be Bodhi’s, the pattern of paint and scorches were different. She had panicked, and assumed it was theirs.
The pilot she had freed pulled her away by the shoulder.
“Leave it!” she half-shouted over the din of the base. “Harstrom’s dead, he got hit straight on.”
She was right. The gunner was slumped, unmoving, over the targeting computer, and she stumbled away with the pilot still leaning on her. Rebel mechanics and volunteers descended upon the smoking ship to pick it for parts.
The pilot pushed her hair back with a smoke-blackened, greasy hand, and then clasped hers.
“I’m Shara Bey,” she said, “If we make it out of this, I owe you a drink.”
Before Jyn could recover enough to respond, Shara was gone, disappeared into the roiling sea of orange jumpsuits around the available ships. Jyn turned, the plastasteel welder hanging slack in her hand, to look at the sky, where another X-Wing was taking off. She had made the mistake of pausing, and now she could feel how tired she was, how afraid. She ducked to the side when a volunteer raced by, and she could hear the war all around her, the screaming sound of metal against metal, blasters releasing bolts in every direction.
A full squadron of ships were coming into land, wheeling in a wide turn over Yavin’s looming temples. Some of them were struggling, on fire, or missing parts, or flying erratically, but they were flying in formation as best they could. They landed in the training field she had visited yesterday, churning up the clean jungle grass into mud. In the distance, she saw the clearly identifiable shapes of Bodhi and Cassian climb out of their two-manned Y-wing, Cassian slipping an arm under Bodhi’s shoulders to help him stand. She jogged over to them across the tarmac of the landing pad, dodging ships and droids.
Cassian and Bodhi caught up with her at the edge of the tarmac, Bodhi’s hopping, leaning gait slowing them down.
“Here,” said a familiar gruff voice, and she turned. It was Baze, holding a pair of crutches out to her, Chrirrut at his side. She took them and helped Bodhi get them under his shoulders. He was nearly grey with exhaustion, and there was blood on the trouser leg that had been pinned under his leg.
“It’s manic up there,” Cassian said quietly, as he released Bodhi onto the crutches. “They sent us to reinforce a squadron that's lost too many pilots.”
A sudden eerie silence had fallen over the base, and, behind her, she heard Chirrut made a strange noise, like something caught in his throat. She turned, but was suddenly falling, the ground tilting up towards her.
Something opened in Jyn’s mind, laying over the world around her, the universe, the whirling stars. It was like a thousand people shouting at once, and they sang to her in her mother's voice. Though the haze she saw others stumble, and heard Chirrut cry out, although whether in pain or joy she could not tell. Cassian caught her under her shoulders as she fell, but she barely felt it.
She could hear as she had never heard in her life, all those voices over one another, singing together, singing the rebellion to victory. The Death Star was an abomination, dedicated to death, it could not be allowed to continue. The Force was with them.
She swayed, and Cassian swayed with her.
“I am one with the Force, and the Force is with me,” she whispered, and somewhere, singing along with the kyber, she heard Chirrut say it also. Across the Rebellion, others who felt the Force, even if only slightly, stumbled and caught themselves, all listening for something.
It was like nothing she had ever felt, but she could see the Death Star above them, the X-Wings battling to survive in its trenches. One shone bright with the Force, alive with hope above all the others, and she wished that it would win, that the shining child who flew it could succeed where they had all failed.
There was a presence with them, huge and old, and tired. She could feel his exhaustion, the fading hope, of a stranger she had never met.
Below them, or above them, in a place that Jyn could not determine, a torpedo fired, and slipped home. The hold of the moment, of the powerful presence that had unified a thousand Force-sensitives, suddenly released, and she realised she was slumped over in Cassian’s arms. He helped her to standing.
“Thanks,” she said, stretching her arms.
“What was that?” he asked, eyes wide. She opened her mouth to answer, and then a flash of blinding light engulfed them. It seemed to shut out all noise, and for a moment she blinked uselessly, only able to see a dark outline of Cassian in front of her. The sound was of a distant explosion, like a thunderclap on the other side of a mountain range.
When her vision cleared and her hearing returned, she looked up. Clear against Yavin’s jungle sky, was the ring of debris where the Death Star had been. It was gone.
Cassian was shaking her, and she could hear cheering, but she could not look away from the sky. It was gone. The nightmare that had haunted her father, and then her, the monster that had killed her mother to be made: it was nothing but debris, already falling into a slow orbit of decay. In months, there would be no sign it had ever existed left in the skies above Yavin IV.
She looked down, to tell Cassian something, which she forgot the moment his lips touched hers. Kissing him was like flying, blooding rushing through her body at twice the normal speed. His arm slid around her waist, pulling her closer into the kiss. She was alive in a way she had never been, and it was right to be with Cassian, finally free of the hanging shadow of death.
They separated slowly, and the air was full of cheering. Ships were landing and the pilots pulled out into jubilant crowds that only paused to hug them. Bodhi leaned against the Y-wing next to them, his face painted in an expression of profound shock as he watch the rebel base disgorge its inhabitants into the impromptu celebration on the tarmac.
Few things had came naturally to Jyn in her life, except anger, but she felt as a river must, when it flowed easily to the sea, able to move as had been intended. Cassian caught her eye, his arm still around her waist, and it's warmth made it seem the most natural thing in the galaxy to lean over, lay her palm against Bodhi’s cheek, and kiss him gently.
Cassian inhaled sharply, his chest moving against hers where they were pressed together. Bodhi made a muffled noise of surprise, and raised his hand quickly to grasp hers tightly. She felt as if electricity was coursing through her, racing across her skin with a goosebump-raising crackle. Bodhi breathed gently into the kiss, a soft breathy sound that made her tense with need. She deepened the kiss, tasting him more deeply, his teeth catching at her lip. She wanted both of them, she wanted Cassian’s fierceness and Bodhi’s gentleness. Force save her, she wanted them with her. Bodhi breathed again, and they broke apart to share a heady, toothy grin. She could easily drown in Bodhi’s dark eyes, or lose herself in his smile.
“Jyn,” Cassian said, and she could feel his breath all along her, everywhere their bodies touched. She was alive, they were all alive, and she no longer wanted the silent, elegiac love-making they had made under the light of Yavin’s moon, waiting for the Death Star.
She looked up at him, taking in his dark, gorgeous eyes, the angled face framed by facial hair. She smiled when he wrinkled his forehead, trying to figure her out.
“You should kiss Bodhi,” she said, and Cassian’s mouth twisted into a strange smile. She still had her hand on Bodhi’s cheek, cradling his face, so she felt the heat of his blush when Cassian turned to look at him. They were only centimeters apart, really, leaned against the Y-Wing.
Cassian raised his eyebrows. “Okay?” he asked. Bodhi looked nervous, but he set his jaw in the same mulish expression he got when told he couldn't do something.
“Yeah,” he said, and licked his lips. His tongue brushed the edge of Jyn’s hand, and she heard her own breathy gasp. Cassian leaned forward, and met Bodhi in a kiss. It was fiercer than her’s, and she could see Cassian bite Bodhi’s lip, feel Cassian lean deeper in. Watching was not better than kissing, but it made her just as hungry for both of them. She rolled her hips against Cassian, and he groaned into Bodhi’s mouth, Bodhi gasping in response, the three of them a perfect feedback loop.
She wanted to ride this wave forever, on the edge of something glorious, and she wanted to kiss them both, she wanted to touch them all over, she wanted so much she was full up on wanting. She pushed gently at Bodhi’s face until he broke away from the kiss, and she kissed him, chasing the idea of tasting Cassian on his lips. When they separated, Cassian looked at them both long and hard, before he raised an eyebrow.
“Are we doing this?” he asked. She knew what he meant.
“Yeah,” she said, rolling hips against him again. He looked at Bodhi, who glanced between the two of them before nodding, and licking his lips nervously. She intertwined their fingers, pulling his hand down from his cheek. “Let’s go,” she said, impatiently, tugging at him. Bodhi smiled at that, and tucked his crutches under his arms.
“Let’s go,” he repeated, blushing furiously.
Cassian took her other hand as they made their way through a crowd of orange jumpsuits and brown uniforms in the hangar, both of them trying to clear people out of Bodhi’s way. They slowed down once they reached the residential hallways of the base, because none of them could resist pausing to kiss, trading each other back and forth around each corner. Jyn loved watching Cassian kiss Bodhi, the two of them against each other while she waited drove her mad. Bodhi was surprisingly good with his crutches already, and would use them to pull one of them aside, shy in his sweet way, to kiss them gently.
Finally, they reached Cassian’s cluttered room, the sheets still untidy from the morning. Bodhi sat down on the bed immediately. He had regained some of his colour since landing the ship, but the walk had left his out of breath. He looked up at them both sheepishly, but before he had time to apologise, she went to her knees in front of him, careful of the end of his leg.
“Are you okay?” she asked, running her hands up the top of his thighs. He nodded.
“Yeah,” he said quietly. “Just be careful.”
She nodded, before she reached for his waistband. Cassian sat next to Bodhi on the bed, and he turned Bodhi’s face to kiss him, taking his face in both hands, kissing him sweetly. She thought Cassian knew that he was bad with words, that he struggled always to tell and show what they meant to him, so when he touched them, he was always gentle. Bodhi shivered, and she felt it in the palms of her hands. She pushed at his hips, and he lifted up.
Between the two of them, they eased Bodhi’s trousers under his hips and into a puddle on the floor. The end of his leg was puckered with scarring, the end still wrapped in bandages, and she was careful to raise her arm over it, folding her elbows over the top of his thighs. Cassian was fumbling with the buttons of his own shirt, Bodhi’s long fingers getting in the way. Jyn got caught up in looking at them, the broadness of Cassian’s shoulders, the slim cut of Bodhi’s cheekbones. When Bodhi ran a hand over Cassian’s chest, she shivered as if it had been her. She leaned forward, careful of Bodhi’s legs, and kissed his stomach, the bend where his hip became his leg. He smelled like a deep, gentle musk, and she sucked a kiss against his hips, her hands flat on the bed next to him.
She could not see them anymore, but she could hear the wet sounds of their kissing, the gasps of their breaths. It was intoxicating to listen to. She tugged her fingers under his boxers, and pulled them down under his hips. He was hard, and she took his cock into her mouth, sucking him down. Above her, he moaned and grabbed her shoulder, not pushing, just holding her tightly. He tasted of clean skin, sweat and the acrid taste of metal that got everywhere when you lived in space, and she wanted nothing but more of it. Bodhi shifted under her, clearly trying to hold back from thrusting into her mouth, and she groaned at the thought of it, of Cassian kissing Bodhi where she could not see and her mouth on him making him squirm. She sucked harder, her eyes closed and lost in the sensation of sucking him off.
Bodhi pulled at her shoulder, gasping.
“Stop,” he gasped. “I don’t wanna..I want to wait.”
She stood to kiss him, and then pulled her shirt off over her head, leaving her standing in a bra and trousers while she toed off her shoes. Cassian had sat back on the bed already, shirtless, his trousers still on but open, hanging at his hips. He looked at her with heavy, lidded eyes.
“Jyn,” he said quietly. She looked at him, and then bent to kiss Bodhi again, feeling the scratch of his facial hair.
“You okay?” she asked him quietly, staying close when they parted. He nodded, and she pushed at his shoulder gently, forcing him to pull himself backwards on the bed. Both of them watched her as she pulled off her trousers, sliding them down around her hips with only the sound of their breathing and the slither of fabric. She unhooked her bra easily, dropping it on the dirty floor of Cassian’s room. The bed was big enough for her to crawl forward to Cassian, and she pulled at his trousers until he got the message and slid them off. She looked over at Bodhi, still perched on the edge of the bed, looking at them as if they simultaneously terrified and turned him on.
Cassian reached for him, his fingers reaching to graze Bodhi’s shoulder.
“Bodhi,” he said, his voice rough with arousal. “Come here. Come to us.”
There was a moment, a pause in which nothing happened, and all Jyn could feel was the chill on her bare skin. Cassian touched her arm, running the pads of his fingers over her shoulder and bicep, and she breathed carefully, turned on and horny, but wanting all three of them, wanting Bodhi and Cassian and her together. Bodhi nodded, and pulled himself further up the bed, leaning back against the thin headboard. She kissed Cassian quickly, roughly, biting his lip and then pulling away when he tried to lean into it, and turning to Bodhi. She wanted to be in the middle of them, between the only people in the whole galaxy she had left to trust. She kissed his chest, enjoying the feeling of her breasts brushing against him, and then bit lightly at his nipple. Listening to Bodhi’s breathing, the gentle gasps, the soft moans when she bit him, made her feel like she could do anything, as if she was at the highest peak of a ship about to make a dive.
Cassian kissed her side, ran his hands across her stomach and sides, down her legs. His fingers slipped between her legs, rubbing easily inside her cunt where she was wet. Cassian kept kissing her side as he fingered her, pressing up against her clit at the right pace to make her moan. Bodhi kissed her, catching her lip in his teeth, and rolling her nipples between his fingers.
Pleasure rolled through her easily, her body loose and full between them. Cassian was warm against her side, his fingers just right inside her, and Bodhi let her breathe messily between kisses, their noses bumping. She smiled at him as she felt herself crest the wave, her eyes fluttering shut as she came, her moans caught between Bodhi’s lips.
Cassian held her as she came down, his fingers sliding out of her gently. She was careful to roll onto Bodhi’s good side, sucking in great breaths of air as she tucked herself up against his side, hooking a foot over his ankle. She kissed his chest, caught his nipple between her teeth until he hissed in pain, luxuriating in the fading feeling of her orgasm and the erotic feeling of nakedness. She had not fully undressed, except perhaps to wash, in months, potentially years. It felt luxurious, and exotic, especially while watching Cassian kiss Bodhi gently, his cheek cupped in his hand, while he jerked them both off. The muscles in his side and stomach were tense with the effort of holding himself up, keeping his weight off Bodhi’s legs, and his bicep flexed and unflexed beautifully, like water under a cover.
Finally, with the sharp gasp of someone who had learned to be silent, Bodhi came, Cassian following him quickly after. She hummed with pleasure, rubbing her thighs together, as she felt all of Bodhi’s muscles go lax under her. Still breathing sharply, Bodhi freed his arm from her and touched her hair gently, petting it with his fingers, as she pulled closer to his body heat.
Cassian sat back on his knees for a moment, looking at them with a strange expression on his face, and she reached out with her foot to push at his leg with her toes.
“Come sleep,” she said. Bodhi nodded. Cassian’s strange far-away expression broke, and he smiled, that good looking smile that made him look younger.
“Just a second,” he said, and stood, ducking into the fresher. He came back with a wet towel, cleaning himself and then Bodhi of come. He threw it back into the fresher without looking, as if the movements were second nature. Jyn sighed and reached out an arm.
“Come lie down,” she said, and Bodhi awkwardly moved over to make more space, with her in the middle.
Cassian lay down on his back and kissed her naked shoulder lightly, his stubble scratching, but leaving a space between them.
“They'll want me in the medical centre.” Bodhi said quietly, but made no move to leave, waiting for them to offer a verdict on whether he was welcome to stay. She hooked her foot under the sheet they had kicked to the end of the bed, and pulled it up over their legs. She stayed curved to his side.
“We’ll go in the morning,” Cassian said. Jyn nodded, knowing Bodhi felt it when she moved.
“Go to sleep,” she said, already closing her own eyes. It was warmer in Cassian’s small room than it ever was in space, and it reminded her of Jeddah, smelling of people and earth. She fell asleep into a softly lit dream of the red hills of a desert planet, still holding onto Bodhi, Cassian asleep beside her.
Cassian woke first, and she had only a fuzzy memory of rolling over to kiss him when he left the room, the sound of him murmuring where he was going but no words. The Rebellion waited for no man. The fight went on.
She slept until Yavin’s humidity kept her awake, and then washed and dressed quietly in the fresher to allow Bodhi to sleep. He would never lose the cast of exhaustion across his thin face, and in sleep, without emotion to animate, he looked more tired than he seemed.
Cassian came back just as the sun crested the jungle cover and shone through the dingy window. He was eating, and had more in his pockets, the chewy, carbohydrate-heavy cakes that every planet had a different name and recipe for. Bodhi woke up then, as they made noise eating and Cassian looked through his datapads. He woke quickly, like both of them, none of them having the luxury of deep sleep. Like Jyn, he had no clothes, aside from what had been given to him by the Rebellion, and Cassian lent him a shirt and trousers, both of them too spacious around where Cassian had muscle and Bodhi was just thin.
Jyn kneeled to help him pin the end of his trouser leg, and he put his hand on top of hers, where she had braced herself on his other thigh. Their fingers curled against each other, and Bodhi blushed furiously, a small smile pulling at the ends of his mouth. Jyn ate as they walked to the hanger, savouring chewing the soft dough. Good solid food was too rare in space to take for granted.
The halls of the Rebel base seemed the breathe easier now. More people smiled in the hallway, and the thrumming sense of purpose was gone. Pilots walked, in twos or three, rather than running in groups.
“It's quieter,” she said to Cassian. They walked with Bodhi in front, the slowest of the three of them, when the hallways were too thin or busy to walk three abreast. He nodded.
“Everyone is celebrating before the evacuation.” He said.
“The Empire knows we are here.” he said. “They will go lick their wounds, point fingers, blame someone, but they will be back. We have another base, the Rebellion'll go there.” He paused. “We'll get orders before that.”
The U-Wing had been left to the far side of the huge main hangar, where it had stayed unused through the air battle with the Death Star. It looked battered, like most of the other Rebel air fleet, but serviceable. It looked like it could be a home.
Bodhi sat on one of the benches inside the main hold, and leaned his crutches up against the wall. It was strange, to find the hold largely as they had left it. The magnitude of what had happened to them demanded that the physical world react. She wanted the hold to be a mess, something to recognise that that their lives had been fundamentally reorganised.
Cassian climbed up into the cockpit, and paused at K2’s co-pilot chair. For a moment, the sad tiredness she recognised from him returned, the deliberately contained exhaustion. K2 was gone, and it hurt Cassian to think of him. It would haunt him forever, she thought, not K2’s death specifically, but all the deaths, all the sacrifices that he had made for the Rebellion, the thought of them would dog him like bad luck to a gambler.
She leaned up and touched his elbow gently, waited for him to turn to her.
“We should work on the ship while we have the chance.” she said. Saw had not believed much in grief, except perhaps at the very end, and he had always set tools her hands and told her to work. She was not sure it had always helped. There were some demons that hard work would never remove, but it was the way she knew.
He nodded, and stepped out of the cockpit. Bodhi was watching them, his hands braced on his thighs.
“Did K2 make back ups of himself? Bodhi asked, and it seemed gentle when asked in Bodhi’s voice. From her, Cassian would have hated the question as a challenge or a failure on his part. From Bodhi, it was just a question, one he could answer with a shake of his head.
“No,” he said. “He knew too much classified information.” Bodhi nodded and leaned back.
“I'm sorry,” he said. Cassian sighed.
“Jyn’s right. We should work on the ship.” he said.
Jyn was the only one who could climb with confidence, so they let her clamber up the side of the U-Wing, where they had scraped it on Edu. She sanded off the worst of the scrape, watching Bodhi direct Cassian as he took apart the anti-grav booster and cleaned the mechanical parts. Individually, they each had parts of the mechanical knowledge one gained in order to survive alone in space, but together they had something closer to a full understanding.
They spent most of the day working, pausing when it was hottest to take scones and jungle fruit from a bashful child working as a runner. They sat on the crates of parts and cargo that surrounded each ship, licking the fruit juice off their fingers.
Cassian pointed out figures from the Rebellion when they walked past - an admiral he admired, a colonel he knew.
“That's Princess Leia,” he said, pointing at a far figure in white. “She brought the plans from Scarif.”
“After we did all the hard work,” Jyn quipped, which made Bodhi smile. Cassian tipped in his head in agreement.
“She also brought the pilot who destroyed the Death Star,” he said fairly.
“He's supposed to be a Jedi,” Bodhi said, and Cassian rolled his eyes.
“He's not a Jedi, he's just a good shot.” he said, sounding put out. Jyn smiled. She would save the revelation of her visions during the battle for another day.
The white figure changed direction as they spoke, and swiftly focused into the Princess approaching them. She was short, shorter than Jyn, but she seemed to tower over him when Cassian scrambled to the ground and stood to attention.
“Sir,” he said. She nodded.
“Stand down Captain,” she said. Cassian relaxed, but only minisculely. The princess smiled at him, and it was surprisingly warm for the smile of a commanding officer to a well-performing soldier. She looked at each of them in turn, and Jyn was suddenly acutely aware of the fruit juice stains on her fingers. Leia’s smile was almost impish on her small features.
“I expect you to report to the awarding of honours tomorrow in better parade gear than this Captain,” she said, falsely stern. Cassian nodded.
“Yes sir,” he said, and then paused. “We clean up pretty well,” he added.
“I'm sure it'll be a sight to behold.” she said, and Cassian said nothing more than standing to attention again. The princess walked across the hanger as if she owned it. She basically did, Jyn thought, the way that rebels of every kind stepped aside to let her pass. She stopped at an X-Wing parked near the edge of the natural light that reached in from the jungle, and a boy in a flight suit jumped down from the cockpit. In the sunshine, his blond hair shone, making him look young.
“There's your Jedi,” she said to Bodhi, pointing across the hanger. She wasn't sure why she knew that he was the pilot who had causes the kyber to sing so loudly during the battle, but she knew nevertheless.
“He’s very dashing,” Bodhi said, leaning on one of the cargo crates. Jyn tipped her head to the side.
“I suppose,” she said, “If that’s your type.”
Bodhi looked at Jyn with disbelief.
“He’s a Jedi, surely that makes him everyone’s type?”
“He’s not a Jedi,” Cassian said, grumbling. “He’s a moisture farmer from Tatooine.”
“What's a moisture farmer?” asked Bodhi, the bubble of Jedi grandeur slightly deflated. Jyn hid her smile and clambered back up the side of the U-Wing with paint Cassian had commandeered.
That evening, a medical droid and nurse came by their room, effective Rebel gossip already having informed the base where Bodhi and Jyn were bunking. They fitted his prosthetic as he sat on the edge of their bed, helping him buckle it over the end of his leg. It didn't have a neural interface; he'd have to wait for the medical frigate that was with the fleet, or find a doctor on the rim, but it had a balance processor, and some lightweight stabilisers that meant he could walk on it straight away.
They took turns in the fresher, and then, too tired to make love, Jyn fell asleep watching Cassian and Bodhi kiss next to her.
The Old Temple at Yavin was imposing even when it wasn't full of an audience of rebels. Cassian and her had hunted up a pilots pips for Bodhi, and he looked good in the civilian clothes requisitions had had spare. Black trousers and shirt, his hair pulled back. She had pulled hers into a braid down her back, and Cassian had dug a pair of dull medals from a drawer in his room, pinned them to the arm of his Captain’s jacket.
They stood the three of them in front of the tall stone doors of the Temple, waiting for the nod from the corporal by the door. She was imagining it, but her sergeants pips felt like scratches against her shoulder under the jacket.
She took a deep breath, all of her instincts telling her to run, to hide from the spotlight, to keep her name and face unknown. It was death to be known, to equip those who hunted you with the information to find you.
She saw Bodhi, shaking with nerves on Cassian’s other side, reach out to grasp his hand. Cassian looked across at her, and she tried to smile, though she knew it looked weak. He reached out a hand to her, and raised his eyebrows.
“Together?” he said, his voice nearly a whisper.
Before, she would have recoiled from him, but it took no thought now, no weighing of the likelihood of betrayal, to reach out and grip his fingers, clasp his hand with hers.
“Together,” she said, and the stone doors swung open with a deep grinding sound.
They walked the long, empty path between the rebel audience holding hands, the three of them bound together.
They stopped at the end of the aisle, in front of the low stage, and she felt Cassian grip her hand tightly before letting it fall. They all stood to attention as best they could. The princess looked happy, for the first time that Jyn had seen her, and beautiful, as always.
“Captain Andor, Sergeant Erso, Pilot Rook,” she said, and her voice seemed soft, but it carried over their heads, out to the onlooking audience of rebel soldiers. “In recognition of your service to the New Republic and heroism demonstrated at the Battle of Scarif, I, with the power vested in me by the Senate of the New Republic, bestow upon you the Medal of Honour.”
At the nod of the corporal at the bottom of the steps, Cassian stepped forward and bowed his head so the princess could hang the medal around his neck. Jyn stepped forward, and then Bodhi. The medal was surprisingly heavy, and Jyn felt it as a solid weight on her chest.
The three of them then stood, and the princess met their gaze.
“Captain Andor, Red Squadron have issued a request for a name change. In honour of the soldiers of Rogue One who lost their lives in the Battle of Scarif, they wish to be named Rogue Squadron. Would that do honour to your comrades?” she asked.
Jyn felt something in her throat tighten. Cassian, if it was possible, seemed to stand even straighter.
“It would be a great honour, sir,” he said. The princess nodded.
“Captain Antilles,” she said, looking out to the audience, “If you would?”
They turned to the audience, and Wedge stepped forward, grinning. When Jyn caught his eye, he winked. Turning to face the crowd, he stood to stiff attention.
“Rogue Squadron!” He ordered, in a rolling parade voice that carried across the audience like a wave. “Forward!”
A squad of pilots in the front row took a long step forward.
“Attention!” Wedge ordered, and the squad stiffened, all arms raising in salute.
“No pilot of Rogue squadron shall take the callsign One,” Leia said, and Jyn realised she had stepped forward to stand next to them on the stage. “Captain Andor, as long as there is a rebellion, as long as you have a ship and a crew, there shall be no other Rogue One.”