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life, like a swinging vine

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1

“Not … not used to people …” Cassian trailed off with a ghastly smile that turned into a cough.

“I know,” said Jyn; her eyes stung, watered, but she blinked hard, refusing to cry. She’d wept for her father because he wouldn’t live, there was no way for him to live, but Cassian was going to survive—he’d said he would stay with her to the end, he’d clawed through the impossible to do it, he …

When he turned still paler, eyes closing, Jyn slapped him.

“Don’t you dare,” she snarled. “You promised.”

2

Cassian faded in and out six times before Bodhi got them into hyperspace, which meant—among many other things—that K-2SO burst into hysterical demands six times. His vocoder should have filtered out the emotion; instead, the even tones of what was clearly a scream (Cassian, no, this is beyond all probability, no, no) made it worse. Jyn couldn’t help wondering if her own steady voice revealed as much, the forced calm of I’m here, I’m fine now, hold on and you’ll see, I’m not going anywhere—  

She kept her arm firmly around his waist, fire crackling in her veins whenever anyone tried to take her place; she steadied Cassian while Baze pressed a bacta patch against his side, Chirrut perched nearby in unusual silence, head tilted as he listened to something nobody else heard.

Cassian’s dazed glance focused on him, in what looked like total bewilderment, then on Jyn, Baze, Kaytoo, back to Jyn.

“Told you he was a friend,” muttered Baze.

Serenely ignoring him, Chirrut said, “You can remember what you have done today, captain.”

3

To some extent, Jyn really had led the Scarif mission—at least as far as Bodhi and Chirrut and Baze were concerned. But Jyn herself recognized the polite fiction when it came to their main firepower; the Rebel soldiers took their orders from the Rebel officer, backing her purely on faith in Cassian.

The next mission, though, after the destruction of the Death Star, after Cassian’s recovery: that was all Jyn’s. None of the others (Cassian, of course, and Kaytoo, Bodhi, Baze—it’d take more than Draven to pry Chirrut from Skywalker and Organa) knew Imperial City like she did, and certainly not the lower levels, where Coruscant’s blinding lights melted into grey haze and countless twisting passages. Cassian had carried out a few operations in the depths of the city, but not many—too much risk for too little reward—and he’d never truly belonged there, lived there. Jyn, who’d been a child in its shining heights and a thief in its dank underworld, knew Coruscant.

“Follow me,” she whispered to her team, and they did.

4

Everyone knew that Jyn and Cassian were sleeping together. Everyone, even if they couldn’t decide whether he’d seduced her for the cause or she’d seduced him for her mission. Nobody outside their team seemed to consider that they might have fallen into bed because, say, they found each other attractive and likable (they hadn’t, but did people always have to assume the worst?).

Meanwhile, in the real galaxy, Jyn’s skin sparked like a bad circuit when their arms or hands brushed; Cassian hid his answering jolt, or—among the small, strange family they’d accumulated—didn’t bother hiding it at all, his eyes wide and his hand unsteady but close. If they felt particularly daring, they would exchange lingering glances and nervous smiles, before discovering an urgent need to analyze Imperial data protection (Jyn, at least, considered it an achievement to stay in the same room).

She didn’t feel afraid, and she doubted that Cassian did either; they’d just never had the chance for this, the trust or time for shyness, uncertainty, the thrill of anticipation crackling beneath, for—well, for being young and in love, and a little stupid with it.

Everything was so much, after lives of so little; for now, they soaked up touch, and for now, that seemed like enough. 

5

“We’ve been ordered to Canto Bight,” said Jyn.

K-2SO considered her, weighing his superior access privileges against a) the fact that he had not been informed of this, b) the limited number of possible objectives there, and c) the low probability that Jyn (or, in the interests of accurate computation, K-2SO) would contribute much of value to any of them. “It is highly unlikely that you and I are being ordered anywhere at all, so what purpose do you expect to serve?”

“They’re sending Cassian into undercover negotiations with the most corrupt people in the galaxy,” said Jyn, “and there’s no way in hell that I’m not going to be watching his back. Are you coming or not?”

She had become increasingly conspiratorial with K-2SO since his unexpected reinstallation, which should have confused his risk assessment procedures, but did not; instead, he informed her,

“Our combined capabilities increase the probability of survival by thirty-seven points.”

Jyn bared her teeth—in humans, it could be a signal of submission rather than strength, but he had yet to detect that variation in her—and said, “Let’s go.”

6

Bodhi did not like Luke Skywalker; he was brash and impatient and petulant and short-tempered, and his easy confidence grated, because he had a way of sounding like a braggart or just clueless, despite being usually (irritatingly) justified, and it made him seem taller than he was, where Bodhi felt shrunken by nerves, and his eyes were so wide and kind and clear that you felt guilty about not liking him, even though it was a careless sort of kindness and he didn’t pay much attention to anyone beyond his tiny adopted family—a bit like Jyn, but Jyn was different—

“Are you going to breathe?” she asked.

Bodhi took an aggrieved gulp of ale (not the first) and did breathe, then went on, “And you know, he thinks … he acts like you can solve everything by just, just hitting it hard enough or stabbing it with a lightsaber or shooting it in the face, like he thinks he’s the princess just because they’re practically welded together and—”

“Chirrut says they’re bonded in the Force,” said Jyn helpfully, and when Bodhi groaned, she went on, “Look, I love you, but I’m going to stab myself with his lightsaber if I have to listen another time, so … decide whether you want to fuck this out of your system or go on walks in the moonlight, and just do something about it, okay?”

“I don’t know what you mean,” Bodhi muttered, sober enough to add, “and it’s not like you have room to talk, you and Cassian are just—when you’re making, you know, nerf’s eyes for months and sharing quarters and talking like nobody else is around but you’re not doing anything either, just pining—”

“I’d kill for him and he’d die for me and we both know it,” she said, “and we’re … anyway, if that’s pining, you’ve got plenty to hope for.”

Despite himself, Bodhi smiled.

7

After the Battle of Yavin, Jyn would have had a place in the Alliance under any terms, but she made a point of formally committing and scrawling out her name; afterwards, she insisted on getting officially assigned—alongside Bodhi, Baze, and Chirrut (although the latter two didn’t even belong to the Rebellion)—to Cassian’s command, with the Alliance’s haphazard ranks for her and Bodhi; and in the months that followed, she even drew up contracts when offered exchanges of favours from people outside her team (they all cherished the look on Solo’s face).

So it shouldn’t really have been a surprise when Jyn announced that she and Cassian were going to register themselves; nevertheless, after the second of translation from Jyn-speak to Basic, Bodhi burst out,

“You’re getting married?”

She did, in fact, mean that they were getting married, and specifically that she wanted Bodhi to stand with her at her wedding. Jyn and Cassian didn’t really care for people outside their team, so it was just the six of them sealed into a barely insulated ice chamber, with Chirrut and a fully-armed Baze officiating: naturally, both as guardians in the Ersos’ faith and as family, but Bodhi had only known the words and gestures as Jedhan and—

He might have cried a little, even though his role required nothing but taking Jyn’s hand and extending it out, while a bemused K-2SO did the same for Cassian, the brush of cold metal oddly untroubling as they closed Jyn and Cassian’s hands together.

“If you don’t count death and destruction,” Bodhi said afterwards, watching Jyn and Cassian submit their record alteration requests into their datapads, “what were the odds against this?”

“Negligible,” said Kay.