Jyn grunted and stomped the dust of Jerne off her boots as she boarded the transport with the rest of the pathfinders. She pulled down the scarf covering her mouth and nose and threw it on the floor with rather more force than necessary before taking her seat.
"Stupid farking–" She slammed her blaster against the bench a few times.
"Careful, Erso," said Kes. "Or you'll blow a hole in the floor."
She glared at him, eyes flicking to the bruise spreading across his cheek where a 'trooper caught him. His eye would probably swell shut before they landed and the medics were going to want to check his face for fractures. If only her blaster hadn't jammed–
"It can't blow a hole in the floor," she said. "It's broken."
Kes huffed. "Well, don't try to un-break it here."
"Fine." Jyn tossed it on top of her bag.
"Have Andor fix it when we get back. It's probably just sand."
"I can fix my own blaster," she muttered. The last of the pathfinders took their seats in the hold and the pilot commed for takeoff. Jyn swallowed through the popping in her ears and tried not to look at Kes wincing as they pushed through atmo.
Lona, reclining across from her, stared at the blaster. "Isn't that Andor's anyway?"
Jyn stiffened. "No, it's mine."
Kes shrugged. "They share it."
Jyn glared, but still felt too guilty to snap at him. "It's mine."
"Whatever," said Kes. "It all goes back to the same place anyway."
Lona raised her eyebrows. "Really?"
"Shut up." Jyn smacked Kes's leg. She felt her face getting red.
"I didn't know you were together." Lona leaned forward.
Kes snorted. "Of course they are."
Jyn could tell she was trying not to stare. Usually, at this point in the conversation she would make a quick exit, but they were packed like dried moof meat on this kriffing transport and she was stuck. "What?"
Lona shook her head. "Nothing."
Jyn grit her teeth. "No, just say it. What?"
"I don't know, I just… can't imagine you in a relationship."
Jyn stared until Lona blushed and became suddenly fascinated with hyperspace flickering by outside the window. Then she crossed her arms and scowled at her knees. It was stupid to be bothered by this. Her… relationship with Cassian might be new, but it wasn't like she didn't know how to behave in one. Not that she'd ever had one that lasted more than a standard month, but she knew how to be someone's– she cringed– girlfriend.
She huffed. Lona was a new recruit. What did she know?
It was well past midnight on the chrono Home I was using when they docked. After nine hours in hyperspace, most of the pathfinders, including Jyn, stumbled like zombies into the hangar. She nodded sleepily to some officer's reminder of the morning debrief and walked to Cassian's (their) quarters using mostly muscle memory. Although it was late, she thought there was a decent chance Cassian would still be awake, working furiously on some intelligence business or other– but she also wouldn't be too surprised if he was asleep. A one in three chance, maybe.
Gods, she was starting to sound like Kay.
The corridor lights were dimmed, so when the door slid open the room remained mostly dark.
Asleep, then. She could make out his outline, stretched out on his side close to the wall.
It had been a minor point of tension when they first started… whatever this was– who got the side closer to the door. Jyn won that one, eventually. They both insisted on being the one to protect the other should there be some sort of threat, but she argued that he had longer arms, so he could reach over her for his blaster while she couldn't reach over him. He was forced to concede, and she tried not to be too smug about it.
She briefly debated just crawling into bed after him, which would create the least amount of noise. Cassian would probably wake up anyway, but he'd be quick to fall back asleep. She began stripping off her fatigues and grimaced as more sand fell out of the folds of her jacket and pants. It was kriffing everywhere, and she reeked of sweat and dirt. Maybe she should shower first.
She winced at the wheeze of the 'fresher door closing, but relaxed as soon as she was in the stall. The perks of captains' quarters on Home I– a real water shower. She spent as much time as the hot water allowed under the spray, then put on her cleanest, softest clothes and crawled into bed, nearly dizzy with exhaustion.
To her mild surprise, Cassian hadn't so much as stirred. So she just smiled and shifted closer to him, glad he was getting some real sleep. She slid an arm around his waist and pressed her nose to his neck, then sighed and felt every muscle in her body unwind, one by one. She'd never said it out loud, but she loved this– the way they fit, the way he felt like home.
The next time she became blurrily aware of her surroundings, Cassian's alarm was going off. She still had a few hours until debrief, so she ignored it and listened to Cassian shuffling around beside her. They'd shifted in their sleep, so she was lying on her back and Cassian was on his stomach, his arm draped over her chest. He reached over and turned off the alarm, then pulled her close one more time, like he usually did when she got to sleep in.
She smiled, only half awake as he kissed her neck and collarbone and ran his hand down her torso. Shara loved talking about "love languages," and Jyn usually wasn't into that kind of sappy, girly discussion, but it helped her understand the way Cassian expressed affection. He was never one for many words, but she could tell how much he cared from the way he hugged her, touched her, kissed her.
The kisses were his way of saying, I'm glad you're back. His thumb drawing circles on her hip meant, I'm glad you're safe. And the way he tucked the blankets back around her after he stood up said, I missed you.
If she were less sleep-deprived, she might've responded to all of these, verbally or physically, but she just rolled deeper into the blankets and fell asleep again, her nose near his pillow so she could still smell him.
She felt energized the next day, even through the pathfinders' debrief, a predictably dull affair. But this time Kes didn't have to nudge her to stay awake once. Proud of herself, she took a detour through the hangar on her way to train recruits, where she found Cassian kneeling by a group of R2 units. It looked like some of the pilots had talked him into repairing their droids again.
She came up behind him and nudged his shoulder. "They could do that themselves, you know."
He glanced up and half-smiled.
"You're spoiling them."
He shrugged and continued working.
She rolled her eyes. She was still getting used to Cassian, coolest captain in the rebellion. Although serious and authoritative when he wanted to be, Jyn was surprised to find as they grew closer that he could be surprisingly friendly when he felt like it. He was probably owed favors by over a third of the junior staff.
"Don't be back to the room too late," she said.
He reached down and squeezed her ankle. I won't.
She ran a hand over his shoulders one more time. "I'll see you later."
On her way out, she ducked under one of the Millennium Falcon's canons and flinched when Han spotted her from the top, probably spacer's taping yet another part of his junkyard ship together.
"Welcome back, Erso!" he called. "Captain giving you the silent treatment?"
Jyn flipped him off as she passed and ignored the way he laughed. Just because Cassian didn't go on and on when she talked to him didn't mean he didn't care. They understood each other, and that's what mattered.
In a fit of professionalism, she didn't take out any of her frustration on the recruits, but mostly because she convinced Shara to help demonstrate skills.
"Karking hells," she said the fifth time she hit the mat. "Aggressive much?"
Jyn rolled her shoulders. "Not at all." Someone snorted from the sidelines and she glared into the crowd. "Well? Start practicing."
Shara slung a towel over her shoulder and pulled the elastic out of her hair. "Can't you think of another way to work out all your boyfriend issues?"
Did she have to be so loud? "I don't have boyfriend issues," Jyn hissed.
But it was too late.
The closest pair of recruits stopped in the middle of their fight and turned around. "You have a boyfriend?"
"I didn't know you had a boyfriend."
"Who is it?"
"Of course she has a boyfriend, it's that nice captain with the accent."
"But he's so nice."
"How did you…"
"Why does he…"
The soldiers' mock battles rapidly devolved into chatter and Jyn rounded on Shara. "Now look what you've done."
Shara laughed. "I guess you'll just have to resolve those issues."
Jyn growled. "I don't have any issues with him, the issue is with everyone else."
Shara patted her arm. "Honey, that's what I meant." Then she sauntered off, and Jyn could only gape.
She never got the trainees back on task and ended up dismissing them early. Finding herself a bit at loose ends, she trudged back to the hangar to see if Cassian was still there.
The problem, she thought, was that she had a genuine and persistent fear that she wasn't a good girlfriend. (Or maybe not a girlfriend at all– they'd never discussed labels.) She'd never considered herself 'girlfriend material.' She wasn't attentive, she and Cassian weren't sappy. They tended not to eat meals together, didn't do extravagantly nice things for each other– and she liked it that way. She thought Cassian did, too.
Although come to think of it, she'd never asked. Maybe she should. Jyn kicked an imaginary rock on the floor of Home I's pristine corridor. That conversation sounded… awkward. And emotional. She wasn't good at that sort of thing.
But she knew someone who was.
Cassian wasn't in the hangar anymore, which was just as well because Bodhi was there and Jyn didn't need an audience right now.
She decided to get right to the point. "Bodhi, am I a bad girlfriend?"
Bodhi jumped half a meter in the air and banged his head on his A-wing engine. "Holy shavit, Jyn. Do you mind?"
"Sorry. Am I a bad girlfriend?"
"I… what? No. I mean, Cassian seems to like you well enough."
"You know what I mean– madly in love with you."
Jyn reddened and re-organized her thoughts. "Right. Uh, so you don't think I'm a bad girlfriend?"
"Not at all, I think you make Cassian very happy." Bodhi rubbed her arm and leaned over his toolbox. "Speaking of which, how's he doing?"
"What? Fine, I guess." How should he be doing?
"So he's back to normal now? That's good to hear." Bodhi made to turn around keep working but Jyn caught his arm.
"What do you mean? Why would he not be normal?"
"Oh, you haven't seen him yet?"
"I've seen him. He's fine, why wouldn't he be normal?" Jyn's heart pounded in her ears. What was Bodhi talking about? What had she missed?
Bodhi gave her a look halfway between puzzled and amused. "He lost his voice last week."
"Yeah, he got something nasty from one of the junior staff. Some sort of throat infection. He even went to the medbay for it. He's on the upswing now but yesterday his voice was still shot to kriff." Bodhi paused. "You didn't know? I thought you'd seen him today."
"I– I did. We even talked…" Jyn trailed off as she thought back and realized that she didn't actually remember Cassian saying anything to her since she'd returned. She could feel the blood rushing to her face, partly out of shame and partly out of embarrassment.
Fuck, she was a terrible girlfriend… how hadn't she noticed? Could she excuse it as Cassian's tendency towards few words? Or was she just that oblivious?
Bodhi seemed uncomfortable. "Oh… kay. Well, I'm glad his voice is back."
Jyn looked at the floor and made a poor attempt to hide the redness in her face. "Karking hells."
"Never mind." With barely a goodbye, Jyn spun on her heel and almost ran back to Cassian's (their) room.
He was already there, sitting up in bed reading something on his datapad. He turned when she burst into the room and she took a hard look at him. She must've missed something earlier– something that could've told her he'd been ill.
Of course, hindsight was 20/20, and now a lot of things made sense– his failure to wake up the night before, his silence that morning, Han's comment (that nerfherder). And now that she was looking for it, Jyn thought he looked maybe a little tired and if she looked for it his lymph nodes looked a little swollen, but not by much and how in kriff was she supposed to know? He looked fine!
So she stepped forward and smacked his arm. "Why didn't you tell me?"
He shrugged, his expression half guilty, half amused.
She felt her cheeks heat up again. "You're a jerk."
Cassian shook his head put his datapad beside. He shuffled to the edge of the bed and reached out. "I'm sorry." He sounded terrible. His voice was an octave lower, barely above a scrape, and sounded forced out of his throat.
She smacked his arm again. "Don't talk."
He sat back and held up his hands, a smile still playing at the edge of his lips. He held up a finger and picked up his datapad. He typed on it for a second, then held it up. This okay?
"Fine," Jyn muttered. "Now you have to tell me everything."
Really? Like this?
"It's no less than you deserve," she grouched. "You kept me in the dark on purpose." He can't reasonably deny that. There were plenty of opportunities to make her aware of the situation.
Okay, fine. He flexed his fingers and prepared to start typing something longer.
"Wait." Jyn looked around and shook out the extra blanket they kept at the foot of the bed. Then she re-arranged the pillows at the head. "Lie down," she said.
Cassian obeyed, shifting his weight as she made adjustments to provide optimal support for his lower and upper back and prop him up at an angle good for breathing. She threw the extra blanket over his legs and tucked the ends under the mattress, so his feet would stay warm if he moved around. (Although none of their blankets were particularly thick– she'd have to do something about that.)
Then she kicked off her boots and sat next to him, where she could see him as he typed. "Now you can start."
He just looked at her, that funny, amused expression still on his face.
She glared at his hands. "Well?"
Fine. He sighed. It's not a very long story.
"Start from the beginning."
The junior staff were passing something around. Barracks, you know?
Jyn snorted. Petri dishes.
Anyway, I don't really know how I picked it up but my throat felt kind of scratchy one night and the next day I had a fever and no voice.
"Bodhi said you went to the medbay." There must be more to it than that.
I did. He paused, his fingers hovering over the keyboard. Then he seemed to make a decision and kept going. I suppose I felt pretty bad– my throat hurt, worse than it does now, and my joints felt kind of sore.
Jyn could tell Cassian was downplaying to some extent– his description full of qualifiers and his tone carefully nonchalant. "So your throat still hurts?"
He rolled his eyes. A bit.
Liar. She frowned when he directed a few coughs into his shoulder.
And there's that but it's not too bad.
But she probably wouldn't get much else out of him. "Okay, go on."
So I went to the medbay, and they told me it was a virus and I just had to wait it out.
"Didn't they give you anything?"
Painkillers and a fever reducer. He glanced at her. They made me do this there, too. Type everything out on a datapad.
"Serves you right." Mostly satisfied, Jyn stood up. "I'm going to get dinner–" She caught his wrist as he tried to move the blanket. "You wait here while I bring you something. What do you want?"
He dropped the blanket, but his lips pulled down.
"What is it?"
It hurts to swallow.
That scared her. If Cassian was admitting it hurt, it must really hurt. "So what have you been eating?"
He shrugged. Liquids. Nothing too hot.
Jyn thought about it. She imagined Cassian for the past few days getting whatever soup or stew they were serving in the canteen, waiting until it was lukewarm, and then forcing it down past his raw throat. She flexed her jaw. She wouldn't have that. "I'll be back soon."
"What in Malachor are you even doing?" Bodhi said from his post around the corner.
"Shut up." Jyn bent farther over the control panel to Home I's largest and most powerful freezer. Why was this thing so damn secure? Were they really afraid sentients were going to steal frozen bantha meat replacement?
Finally, the light blinked green and the door slid open. She braced herself for the chill and carefully put the metal tray she'd prepared on the nearest available shelf. Then she let the door close and dusted off her hands. "Okay. Now we come back in forty-five minutes." This freezer ran colder than the standard temperature, so this shouldn't take too long.
"What did you put in there?" Bodhi tried to look through the window, but condensation had already formed over the glass.
Jyn smiled. "Cassian's dinner."
"And a few ice trays filled with juice."
"Because I'm a good girlfriend, that's why." That'll show him. And everyone else. (And hopefully make Cassian feel better but that totally wasn't the point.)
Bodhi groaned. "I can't believe you're still stuck on that. You're a great girlfriend, Jyn. Don't pay attention to everyone else."
"Bodhi, I didn't notice Cassian had laryngitis for almost twelve standard hours. I'm trying to make up some ground here." She stopped abruptly and grabbed his collar. "Now look out while I slice into this storage closet. I think they keep the extra pillows here."
For the next several hours, Jyn made as little eye contact as possible as she moved about the base, carrying things back and forth from Cassian's (their) room. First, ice-cube trays and bowls with metal skewers in them containing frozen juice and nearly-frozen stew. Then two armfuls of extra blankets and pillows (the good, fluffy ones, not the flat ones from the bottom). And then as many of the medbay's throat drops as would fit in her pockets.
Eventually, Han caught her eye and smirked as she returned the dishes to the irate kitchen droids.
"Wow, you really care about this boyfriend, don't you, Erso?"
Jyn threw him another an obscene gesture and refused to respond further. She thought she'd made her point.
She returned the room and smiled when she saw Cassian, legs covered with three of the Rebellion's softest blankets and propped up on as many pillows as would fit on the bed. The rest were scattered on the floor around him, along with the extra blankets. He smiled as she picked her way around them, lips stained a dull red from the frozen juice.
She adjusted the blankets climbed into bed next to him. "Are you feeling better now?"
He kissed the top of her head. Much. He licked his lips and looked around, at the sea of extra bedding on the floor, an ice tray she'd forgotten on the desk. Thank you. His fingers hovered over the keys. And not that I don't appreciate it and you but where is all this coming from?
Jyn swallowed and tucked her face closer into his neck, as if that would hide the redness in her cheeks. "I wanted to be a good girlfriend."
Cassian stiffened and for a second Jyn wondered if she'd said the wrong thing, but he quickly relaxed and put a warm hand on her cheek. "You're the perfect girlfriend," he croaked.
"Stop talking." But she smiled into his hand anyway.