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Our Feet May Leave (But Not Our Heart)

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August, 1985:

(Panama)

“Cass!” Jyn screams, reaching down off the side of the building. It’s hopeless, of course, she can see where Cassian Andor’s lying, limbs splayed, twenty feet below her on the adjacent roof. His eyes are closed and his typically animated face is disturbingly still, a pool of blood already forming beneath him. “Oh, fuck.” She pants for air, grabbing for the disk next to her. It’s still there, still intact, they can finish this mission.

There might not be a ‘they’ anymore, but Jyn does not have time to think about that. She pushes herself up, wincing from where the bullet grazed her side, and she spies a fire escape some forty feet to her left. She gets up and staggers to it, stepping over the Director’s body (and she knows, oh God, she knows that five floors below her in this very building, Dr. Galen Erso’s eyes are closed and will never open again), and she somehow finds the strength to swing her legs off the building and start climbing down.

Every step is agony, between the broken ribs, the result of Krennic’s final, brutal beating, and the gunshot wound, and her wrists scream where they’d been bound not even three hours ago. But still, the only thought coursing through her mind, percussively, in rhythm with her movements, is Cass. Cassian, Cassian, Cassian. Eventually she reaches the roof where he’s lying, and she stumbles over to him, coughing weakly, the burning at her side almost too much to stay conscious.

“Hey,” she whispers, collapsing to her knees next to him. “Hey, Andor, time to get up.”

“Jyn,” he mumbles. There’s a string of Spanish, and she doesn’t really know what he’s trying to say, but ‘correr’ is close enough to French for her to understand that he wants her to run.

“Not leaving without you, Cap,” she laughs, wiping her eyes. Her hand comes away covered in blood – the scratch is definitely more than a scratch, then. “Come on, Cass, we need to go, together, we can’t die here.”

 “You can’t die,” Cassian mutters. “You need to live, Jyn. Go. Get away from here. The bombs…”

“No. It’ll be you and me or nothing at all,” Jyn snarls, and then she grabs his shoulders and heaves him upright. Cassian screams in pain, but she doesn’t stop. He’s slender, but still more than half a foot taller than her. However, Jyn has adrenaline and rage on her side. “You do not get to fucking die up here, Andor. You don’t get to die.” You don’t get to make me care about you and then fucking die.

Somehow she gets them to their feet, and he puts his arm around her shoulders. They walk as quickly as possible to the entrance on the southwest corner, and when she kicks the door open, feeling her ankle bone pop from the exertion, she almost cries in relief at the sight of an elevator.

“Come on Cassian,” she pants, dragging him to the lift. “Surely the CIA didn’t waste all that money sending you to retrieve my ass so they could recruit me and/or interrogate me, just for you to die before the mission was up.” She half-pushes, half-pulls him into the elevator when the doors open.

“You knew?” Cassian mutters. He manages to smile at her weakly when he slumps against the elevator wall. The doors hiss shut, and Jyn rams the butt of her pistol into the button for the bottom floor. The machine creaks to life, and she prays they have enough time to get to the ground before the whole block goes tits up.

“Yeah, thank God you’re not a spy or anything,” Jyn cracks. She grabs his arms and tries to shake him to stay awake.

“Sorry,” Cassian whispers. “I’m sorry, I’m so fucking sorry—”

“Don’t be,” Jyn shakes her head, and she thrills when his eyes open again. There haven’t been a pair of eyes like his in the history of the world, she thinks. So no, Cassian Andor does not get to fucking die today. “It was professional, Andor, not personal. I get it.”

“You were the mission,” Cassian coughs, and it’s wet, too wet, and Jyn flinches at how awful it sounds.

“I was, I know, I’ve known since day one.” Jyn smiles at him and shakes him again because his eyes keep sliding shut. How fucking long does it take to go down twelve floors?

“No, Jyn, please,” Cassian breathes out and their eyes lock, and the elevator may have actually stopped moving. “You were, but you aren’t anymore. This hasn’t been professional for weeks. You need to go home, mi luna, when those doors open,” another worrisome cough, “please, just – just leave me here, it’s okay, it’s okay, I won’t,” Cassian cuts himself off, clearing his throat. There’s a war in his eyes, and a war in his heart, and it was the first real thing she had noticed about him.

You don’t meet a person with that much violence inside of them without wondering where it came from, but she’s learned a lot about Cassian Andor the past few months, not Cassian the ghost, or Cassian the killer, or Cassian the stellar, cold-blooded agent – but real Cass, the one who laughs at bad telenovelas, the one who eats pizza with a knife and a fork, the one who smiles softly when he wakes up and looks up at the sky for the first time that day, who still makes the sign of the cross when he thinks no one’s looking at him and he’s too involved in a soccer match. She’s learned enough about him to know that the war inside him is not of his own creation, and she’s learned enough to know that the Real Cass needs to go home, to make up for all the violence that’s been eating at him for years, all the ghosts that aren’t his fault.

“You have to go home, Jyn,” Cassian is still pleading with her, but Jyn lays a filthy, bloody finger over his perfect mouth and he quiets, surprisingly.

“Don’t you know, Cass?” She whispers, and his head tilts down until their foreheads are barely three inches apart. “You are my home, now.” The doors slide open, and she clears her throat, grabs the man she just now realized she loves by the hand, and drags him out into the chaos that awaits.

***

Four Months Earlier:

April, 1985

(Argentina)

Jyn Erso is not entirely sure how she ended up in a shitty local jail cell in Argentina, but here she is, cuffed and sitting as primly as possible on a rickety cot.

Thank God she’s in here by herself; it’d be a lot more awkward to pick the lock of her metal restraints with someone staring at her with obvious hope for secondary escape in their eyes. Jyn’s not here to help other people; she just needs to get out and start running before her father’s enemies find her.

Jyn huffs irately at the thought of her father. Galen Erso has been causing her extreme difficulty lately; she’d been wary when he contacted her a few months after she’d finished her Master’s, and their communication has been spotty in the subsequent five years, but still – when she’d imagined a renewed father-daughter bond, she certainly didn’t imagine it’d end here, in a Argentinian jail in the middle of autumn, a crisis of unknown proportions boiling outside.

She’s determined to survive, goddamnit, and her father’s making that more and more difficult lately, after he pulled her into this mess. “Knew I should have studied philosophy,” she mutters to herself, hairpin between her teeth as she maneuvers the lock of her cuffs open. It finally gives with a satisfying click, and Jyn hurls them across the cell. She’ll have to pretend to wear them the next time the slack-jawed guard comes by, but until then, she refuses to sit around in chains.

Speaking of the guard, it’s been a strange length of time since she’s seen him walk by. Maybe he fell asleep, she thinks, and then she snorts. Even with the milder weather, it’s a sticky 26 degrees outside, and she’s looking forward to making her escape later tonight, when it’s guaranteed to be less uncomfortable on the silent streets. She’d rather be napping too, right now, but preferably somewhere with less bars on the window.

Jyn hears a strange sound at the end of the hallway then, a distinctive thump that she knows from unfortunate personal experience means a body dropping. There’s only so many things that could make that sort of impact with the ground; in here, that’d have to be 180 pounds of mouth-breathing guard.

She takes a deep breath to calm herself and scans her cell for something she can use as a weapon. Finding nothing besides her own cuffs, she curses, and crouches in the corner of the cell, between the edge of the door and her bed, where someone would have to be standing in the cell to actually see her. Jyn counts backwards from thirty, and tenses her muscles, ready to strike upwards. If there’s more than one person, she’s doomed, unless she can get a real weapon off of the first person she takes down.

A man stands right outside the door, and Jyn breathes silently, in through her nose, out through her mouth. There is no fear, her guardian’s voice tells her. There is only acceptance of what you can and can’t do. Jyn nods at the memory of Saw, and clenches her fists.

The voice that issues through the door does not a have a clipped British accent like she’d been expecting – it’s a soft voice, with a thicker accent, one from Spain or Mexico.

“Jyn Erso?” it whispers. “Are you in there?” The mysterious figure fidgets with the lock, and he steps in slowly after the door swings open. His hands are raised, and Jyn sees the flash of metal in his hand; a weapon of some kind, not a gun but a baton. Still, she can use that.

With a snarl, she launches herself at the man, but he startles back, hands still raised. “Whoa! Whoa there, I’m with American intelligence,” he says, and that makes Jyn freeze. In the last five years of her being in various states of “on the run,” she hasn’t heard that excuse yet.

“I beg your fucking pardon?” Jyn asks, disbelievingly, hands still poised in front of her face in a classic boxer’s pose. “And you’re here to do what now?”

“We heard they were holding you, so my agency sent me in. I’m a local agent,” he doesn’t make a move towards her, but Jyn scowls at him nonetheless, a silent warning to not come any closer. “My colleague, Kay, is waiting outside in a car to take us to a safehouse. This is a rescue.”

“My hero,” Jyn says sarcastically, and then she strikes. She pretends to reach for the baton, and when he blocks her, she swings her other hand up and slams him in the jaw with a closed fist. He shouts something in Spanish, and relinquishes his hold on the baton. As it falls to the floor, she snatches it, taking advantage of her much lower center of gravity while he stumbles in reaching for it at the same time. Jyn slams the baton into the other side of his face, right on his jawbone, and he stumbles back into the wall.

“Thanks,” Jyn says, sprinting out the door. The exit to the jail is right there, she can smell fresh air, she just has to clear the door, check for that car the man had told her about, get away from it, and then get the fuck out of town.

Finally, she’s out the exit - the aforementioned car is idling to her right - so she turns left and –

She’s met with a massive hand grabbing her by the back of her shirt, and slamming her into the pavement, holding her down with another hand on her chest. Jyn coughs and struggles against the iron grip, dazed from the contact with the ground, and an impossibly tall man blinks down at her. He looks positively neutral in every way, not even surprised to see an armed and spitting woman clawing at his forearm.

“Get the fuck off of me!” Jyn chokes, trying to hit him in the face, but the man remains impassive and far out of her short reach.

“I cannot do that,” he says calmly. “We are here to help.”

“Like fuck you are—” Jyn protests, but he lifts her by the shirt as easily as he had dropped her, and her feet kick uselessly in the air, a foot or so off the ground. He manages to pull her in to his chest, so she’s facing away from him, and he holds her arms tightly so she can’t try to gouge his eyes out (she definitely would, this motherfucker, who does he think he is? Bloody Americans).

“Did you tell her we were rescuing her, Cassian?” The large man asks, his hands pinning Jyn’s arms too effectively. She kicks and seethes, wrestling against his impossibly strong grip. The man from the cell walks out of the shadows of the building, rubbing his jaw. In the fading light of dusk, Jyn can see that he’s incredibly handsome, with facial hair that’s half-planned, half-stubble, and brown eyes that manage to be bright even in the darkness. His face is incredibly handsome, and she wants to punch it. Again.

“Must have slipped my mind,” he grumbles. “Let’s go, Kay.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” Jyn hisses.

“I beg to differ, Ms. Erso,’ The large man says, without a hint of apology in his unaffected voice. “You are coming with us. And you are very welcome.” She’s thrown in the back of the car without further ado, and she screams, wildly, banging her fists against the door when it shuts. Some sort of lock mechanism is in place, making it impossible to open from the inside, and there’s a barrier between her and the front seat.

She seethes, but then slumps against the back seat, breathing wildly. No point in wasting her energy. She’d knocked one of these guys on their ass before; she can do it again. She just has to bide her time.

Her abductors pile into the car, the larger man driving. The smaller man, ‘Cassian,’ apparently, buckles his seatbelt and turns to face her when the engine rattles to life.

“You should buckle up,” he says, smiling at her. Jyn scowls back. “This one’s a terrible driver.” She can’t help it – she lashes out, striking at the barrier between them, but at the same time, ‘Kay’ floors it, and she’s thrown backwards violently.

“Told you,” Cassian smirks. Jyn flips him off and refuses to follow his order and fasten her seatbelt. If she dies, well, fuck them even more.

She swears on all the stars in the sky: Jyn Erso is going to kill this Cassian, whoever he is. And she’s going to smile when she does.