“Special Agent Andor, it’s good to see you back in the office.”
“Thanks, Kay. You seem to be the only one who noticed.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. It’s just that most of your colleagues are handling a field op right now and I’m the only one here. Draven wants to see you in his office at your earliest convenience.”
Cassian bit back a sigh and nodded. Kay turned on his heel and headed back to the crime lab, his social interaction quota for the morning met. Cassian stopped at the coffee machine to refill his travel mug, before heading towards Draven’s office.
He knocked once, then heard, “Come in Andor.”
“Good morning, Sir.”
“You look better than when I last saw you Cassian.”
It’d be hard not to considering I had a bullet in my chest, Cassian thought.
Draven snorted as though he had plucked the thought from Cassian’s mind but sobered quickly.
“I have a new assignment for you. It’s time to put an undercover operative in with Empire. They have a vacancy we can convince them to let you fill. This one will be long Andor. And deep. No way out but through.”
“Tell me everything, Sir."
Cassian awoke with a start. The dream was so vivid that it took him a few moments to get his bearings. He was in the uncomfortable bed in his alias, Jeron’s, apartment. He knew this undercover would be long term, but as it dragged into its 19th month it was starting to feel less like a cover and more like his life had spun out of control.
He glanced at the clock on the nightstand. 9 pm. As he scanned the small studio his eyes snagged on the suit jacket hanging over the single chair at the kitchen table. He was never going to get the blood out of that suit. Which was a bit of a shame as he actually liked it. Deep down, he knew his stained suit was the least of his concerns, but it was the easiest to swallow. The rest he shoved down into the overflowing box of horrible necessary things he had done to keep this cover and get this intel.
He was getting close, Draven was urging him not to give up- that when they shut down the Empire it would all be worth it. Cassian wasn’t sure there would be any of him left by then, but he had done so much he needed to finish it. His phone rang, blocked number, and he answered it immediately. Afterall, Jeron was always available to his boss.
“I need you to come to the Mansion as soon as possible. There is a situation.”
“I’ll be there in half an hour sir.”
Cassian hung up the phone, put on a clean suit, checked his weapon, hid a knife on his ankle and headed out the door. The faint scrapings of hope stirred within him. Jeron had been Krennic’s preferred hitman for the better part of a year, but he had never been invited to the Family headquarters, the “mansion,” until now. It was rumored Krennic had been hiding a man named Galen Erso and his family for years. Krennic was the leader, but Erso was the genius. With access to Galen, maybe this assignment would finally bear fruit.
Cassian arrived at the family estate and found Krennic waiting in the foyer
“I need to leave for the evening. There is a guest in the residence whose safety is one of my top priorities. She has free run of the house, but can’t leave. I trust you can handle this?”
“Absolutely. No one but you will leave the residence tonight.”
“Excellent. Make yourself at home, Jeron.” With that, Krennic walked out the door and out into the night.
Cassian wondered who the woman was. He knew Krennic wasn’t married. He had heard some of the men mention the “princess” but had no idea who that referred to. Cassian made his way down the hall until he found what looked like a casual living room and took a seat. The urge to thoroughly search the house swelled in his mind, but he couldn’t afford to get caught. It was unlikely it was only he and this mysterious woman present, no matter what it looked like.
Jyn surveyed her bluray collection and lamented that the movie she wanted to watch was downstairs. Most of Krennic’s men ignored her, and it was easier to pretend that her isolation was her decision if she wasn’t faced with their intentionally ignoring her or stubborn refusal to treat her like an adult.
But the ice cream was downstairs too. She weighed her choices, then resigned herself to action. She carefully made her way out of her room and down the hall to the stairs. She would never forget the babysitter who tried to jump out of corners and scare her. He hadn’t taken too kindly to the black eye he’d gotten either.
She decided on ice cream first, then movie. The quickest route to the kitchen was through the living room. As she made her way through the room she saw her babysitter for the evening. Dark haired, tan, lean almost to the point of looking too thin, dressed in a sharp suit and with rugged features. His eyes though, something was striking- dark brown and stunningly sad.
“I don’t think I’ve seen you before,” she said.
"I'm Jeron, please feel free to let me know if there is anything you need. The only thing I can't let you do is leave the house.” His voice was warm and the edges softened with an unfamiliar accent.
“Thank you, I will.” Jyn continued on to the kitchen.
The freezer was well stocked and she had her choice of ice cream. With a little digging she found a brand new pint of birthday cake, her favorite. Absentmindedly, she pulled out two spoons and then on impulse grabbed popcorn as well.
When she came back to the living room, Jeron was still seated in the same spot. He was so still it was almost spooky. “I was going to watch the movie in here,” she said.
“Of course, I can leave if that will make you more comfortable.”
“I uh grabbed two spoons anyway so I guess you can stay.”
That teased a small half smile out of him and he slid to the far end of the couch, leaving her plenty of room to get comfortable.
Throughout the evening, Jyn found herself glancing over at her unlikely companion. At least he spoke to her and treated her like an adult with agency. She also put the popcorn on the middle cushion but he didn’t eat any and he refused all her offers of ice cream. Best kind of movie companion.
When the movie ended, she moved to clean up, but Jeron stopped her with a shake of his head and said “I’ll get it, Ma’am.”
“It’s Jyn. Thank you.”
As he moved to stand up, his pant leg shifted and Jyn saw an ankle holster with a long knife and a handgun and her mind screamed Killer. She beat a hasty retreat up the stairs to the safety of her room. She made sure to lock her door handle and turn the deadbolt.
Krennic returned around 5 am.
“Jeron, thank you. Go home and rest.”
Cassian nodded. He lingered on the curb and waiting for a car before walking slowly up the stairs to his studio. After the plush comforts of the Empire’s mansion, it seemed especially barren. There had been no sign of Erso at the house, and no mention of him. Still, the presence of Jyn was interesting. It fit with Empire’s MO to keep the entire family as hostages to ensure cooperation.
He went through his usual safety double checks almost robotically before pulling out his laptop and checking his anonymous email for any updates from his handler. Cassian knew the cracks had to be showing as the man’s more recent missives had included personal anecdotes, information on Cassian’s friends at the bureau and general encouraging notes. The mental image of Draven composing the messages was enough to bring a flicker of a smile to Cassian’s face.
His, or rather Jeron’s, cell phone buzzed. A message from Krennic, Report to the mansion tonight. 9pm sharp.
Odd. No matter, the more time Cassian spent at the mansion, the closer he got to the information he needed. Krennic and Galen Erso were nearing the launch of something truly devastating, that could bring the city, possibly even the country to its knees. The bureau had to know what that was and how they intended to implement it. All they had were whispers, dead ends and smoke. 18 months building this cover hadn’t done anything to change that. Maybe, finally things were looking up.