“When were you going to tell me, Cassian? Honestly.” Jyn has been in apartment for three minutes, and angry with him for all of them. “The fact that you think I didn’t know is just insulting. Was I going to be invited to the wedding?”
“Droids and humans can’t get married.”
“That is not the point.” She paces rapidly across the sitting room, from the window to the sofa and back. Cassian doesn’t bother to get up. He’s tired, his back hurts, and he frankly just doesn’t feel like it. Though, if he’s going to be calculating about it, getting up to face her might also escalate the situation.
“You’re right.” He leans back, shoving a pillow between his bionic spine and the sofa for support. It helps. A little. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.”
“I mean, really, I thought– Wait.” She turns from the window, her face in shadow except for a bright sliver of smoggy sunlight across her cheek. “Did you just apologize?”
“I did.” He tries to smile, knows exactly how to make a smile look real, but she knows him well enough not to fall for it. “Don’t get used to it.”
She snorts, arms folded across her chest, staring sharp as a vibroblade at him. “Did you honestly think I wasn’t going to figure it out? And now I find out Bodhi’s known all along, and Chirrut, which means Baze knows, which means everyone was in on it except for me.”
“First of all.” Cassian holds up his hands ticking off one finger at a time. “I didn’t tell Chirrut or Baze. Second, I wasn’t the one who talked to Bodhi first, that was Kay.”
“Oh, sure, that makes it better.”
Anger at her tone rises hot in his chest, but he’s self-aware enough to know it’s mostly fueled by guilt. He has been keeping it from her, not lying, exactly, except lying by omission.
“Third, I wanted to tell you.” He keeps both anger and guilt out of his voice. “This… thing with Kay, I barely understand it myself, but I don’t think I’ve ever been… happy before.” It’s surprisingly hard to say out loud, as if by admitting it, he will somehow ruin what he has. He keeps his secrets in darkness to protect them; brought into the light, he’s afraid they’ll turn against him.
But Jyn deserves the truth. However much of it he can give to her.
“So why didn’t you?” There’s still challenge in her tone, she hasn’t relaxed her hands, but the burn of fury in her eyes has dimmed. That’s good. He hopes that’s good.
“Keeping secrets is how I survive,” he says simply, with only a small shrug for punctuation. “And I didn’t know how you’d react.”
“Well, you should have,” she shoots back like sniper fire. “After all we’ve been through, you honestly thought I’d care more about who you’re with than if you’re happy together?”
“I don’t know. Some people do!” He rocks forward. It’s so much easier to get up now than it’s been in over a year, he’s on his feet without really meaning to be. “Being a spy is bad enough, the things I’ve done for the Rebellion are bad enough, but now I could be a pervert in my private life, too.”
Her brows draw together, narrow, all her focus on him. Again, he’s reminded of being in the sights of a sniper rifle. “You don’t really think that about yourself.”
“I don’t know. I don’t really care, and I don’t really care what most people think, either. Just you. I care what you think.” He glares back, holding that dangerous gaze with one of his own. “You’ve judged me for other things, not without cause, so who’s to say you wouldn’t have judged me for this?”
Jyn rolls her eyes, breaking the stare-down without actually conceding it. “You’re happy?”
“Kaytu is happy?”
He only hesitates for an instant before nodding again. “He’s given me no reason to believe otherwise.”
“Well, I’ll talk to him. But don’t think I’ve forgiven you. Don’t think your only your opinion matters to me, Jyn nonsense is going to work on me.”
“Even if it’s true?”
“You kept something hugely important from me.” She crosses to him now, standing just inside what’s normally a polite distance. It doesn’t matter that she’s significantly shorter than he is, she’s perfectly capable of breaking him. With just words, if she tried, never mind anything more physical. “I’ve been waiting for you to fess up, to confide in me–”
“How did you know, anyway? Did Bodhi tell you?”
“Don’t make me laugh. No. He practically tied himself in a knot when I asked him about it.” Jyn pokes him in the chest hard enough he rocks back on his heels for balance. She’s careful, though, has been through enough of his therapy sessions with him that she knows how hard she can push to make her point without endangering him. “I’m not stupid, Andor. You’ve been different around him since Eslar III. And Kaytu is a lot less subtle than you are. He’s as bad as any teenage organic; he can barely keep his hands off you.”
Dull heat crawls up Cassian’s face. “It’s not–”
“I don’t need to know.”
“If it makes you feel any better,” Cassian says, sensing a weakness, “Bodhi found out because Kay asked him how human male bodies work.”
Jyn’s angry mask cracks, a twitch, a flicker of a smile, and then she’s laughing. All the tension in her unwinding into that laugh. When he smiles back, this time, it’s a real one.
“Hells. Poor Bodhi. You’re right, I don’t envy him that conversation. Although…” A wicked gleam lights her eyes. “It might have been fun.”
“Oh, no. Don’t you mess with him.” The thought of whatever she might think it was funny to put into Kay’s circuits is mildly horrifying. She’s already introduced him to metaphors and euphemisms.
“I won’t, I won’t. And Cassian? I won’t ask about private things, either. But I want you to know, you can talk to me, if you’d like. I won’t be disgusted. Hell, if I’m feeling nice, I won’t even laugh.” She’s not teasing him now, even if her words sound like it. Her expression is entirely sincere.
Something he didn’t even know had been hurting inside him eased, like a fist releasing behind his ribs. The relief steals his breath, and he blinks, fast. “Thank you. Really.”
She shrugs. “Don’t thank me yet. I’m still going to have a chat with him, and he’s not good at holding things back like you are. And next time, tell me things before I have to corner you on them.”
“I will. I… will try.”
“Good. So, you’re cooking tonight? I’m still coming over, don’t think you’re getting out of feeding me just because I’m pissed at you. I still seem to be fond of you. For some unfathomable reason.”
The first thing Kay notices when he returns to the apartment is that Cassian is humming. It’s an old Festian dance tune, recognizable though Cassian’s pitch isn’t particularly accurate, at least by the standards of Kay’s interval-sensitive auditory sensors. That doesn’t matter, it’s not the song itself that sends a cascade of pleasant responses through Kay’s circuits.
Humming means Cassian is in a good mood. And, he only ever does it while he’s cooking, so that means Jyn and Bodhi are still coming to dinner. The combination indicates strong likelihood that Cassian recovered from his conversation with Jyn, and that perhaps it even improved his mood.
Kay ducks under the doorway and drops his shopping bag on the sofa, since Cassian doesn’t like things left on tables. His olfactory sensors tell him whatever Cassian is cooking is going to be spicy. That will please Bodhi, who likes his food even hotter than Cassian does. Jyn made an extremely amusing face the one time she tried his dish after he’d doctored it. She’s never nicked anything from Bodhi’s plate since.
Kay finds the smell of some foods enjoyable enough, and he’s observed how much his human friends enjoy it, that he sometimes wishes he could share the experience with them. Much as he wishes he could share his experience of patterns and other spectrums of light with Cassian. There’s so much distance between the ways their senses articulate the world for them, so much they can’t share.
But now, so much they can.
“You’re back early,” Cassian says, turning from the stove. He’s in a sleeveless black shirt that shows all the lean corded muscle of his arms and shoulders.
“Jyn went shopping with me,” Kay says, and a brief flicker of some other expression flits across Cassian’s face. Kay finds a match for worry in his database of Cassian’s microexpressions. He has databases for all the members of Rogue One and several other organics from the Rebellion, but Cassian’s is by far his most comprehensive. More now than it’s ever been before, with a whole additional sub-category he’s in the process of compiling.
It’s his favorite one.
“Our conversation was fine, Cassian, you do not have to worry.”
“I wasn’t worried,” Cassian says, too easily.
“Your friend was angry at you. It is all right to worry.”
Cassian doesn’t answer, just moves in close. Usually, he just goes in for a tap, but with increasing frequency, he hugs Kay instead.
The surface temperature of his skin is elevated from standing over the stove, so all of him is soft and warm, setting off the pressure sensors in Kay’s chassis. He pats the top of Cassian’s head, and Cassian gives him a thump on the back.
“You are being very sweet, but I want to give you my present before everyone arrives.”
Cassian tips his head back to look up at him. “You bought me a present.”
“I have a lot of money now,” Kay says, processors practically glowing with pride. “I like being able to spend some of it on you.”
“You don’t have to do that.”
Kay resists the urge to roll his optics. Barely. Cassian and self-denial go together like copper and current.
“I know I don’t have to. That is what makes doing it enjoyable.” He takes Cassian by the shoulders and moves him back a step. From there, it’s only a few steps back to the sofa. There are a few items in the bag, but he ignores the canister of grease, soft chamois cleaning cloths, and package of Cassian’s favorite dried pepper. What he offers is a meter-long box made of real wood, held delicately in one hand. It looks much bigger in Cassian’s human hands when he takes it.
There’s a blend of curiosity and something… softer on Cassian’s face when he sets the box on the counter, and then amusement as he opens it.
“You bought me a new cane? It’s very nice.” He takes it out, smooth reddish wood, polished but still showing the grain. “I can compare with Chirrut, now.”
“Oh, it’s even better than Chirrut’s,” Kay says, drawing himself up proudly. “It’s custom made. I designed it.”
The amusement melts into a smile. The kind Kay knows only he gets to see, which makes it his favorite, because he is ultimately rather jealous of Cassian’s affection.
Cassian runs his hands along the wood, finds the catch, and it telescopes to its full length. The grip is designed to fit comfortably in his hand, padded enough for long use. Kay eagerly watches him test it, and knows the moment Cassian discovers that it’s weighted like a weapon by the little quirk of his brows. Then his fingers find the second, smaller catch under the grip.
“What’s this?” It’s a rhetorical question, but the only thing that keeps Kay from answering is how much he wants to see Cassian’s surprise. There is a ninety percent chance he will like the secret the cane hides, a five percent chance he will think it’s silly, and a five percent chance it will remind him of parts of his life he prefers to leave behind.
Kay was willing to take the risk.
The grip of the cane slides smoothly free, revealing a meter of slender bright metal, razor sharp and as exquisitely balanced as the full cane. Cassian turns it over in his hands with great care and a critical eye.
“A vibrorapier?” he says at last. His head remains bowed over the blade, so Kay can’t see enough of his face to read it.
“I had it made by LaserHone, so it has a vibro setting,” Kay says. “It’s half the length of a standard vibrorapier, and can also be used as a simple bladed weapon, as well as a blunt weapon when the whole cane is assembled.” He leans in eagerly, can’t wait any longer. “Well? Do you like it?”
There is the fact that it’s not entirely legal, but Kay doesn’t care about things like that, and he doesn’t see why Cassian should start caring now.
Cassian gives the blade an experimental swing, a slow extension of his arm and a flick across and back. He’s not trained in dueling, but he is trained to make the most of any object put in his hand, to attack and defend himself with any weapon available to him. There’s an elegance to the motion that fills Kay’s circuits with an electric pulse of energy. Cassian thumbs the sonic pulse on, silenced like all good vibrorapiers, and gives it a second, even more careful swing. He keeps it well away from Kay; a weapon like that could do serious damage even to his durasteel plating.
But that’s the point. Kay wouldn’t get him anything less than the best.
Only after he’s turned it off and slid the blade back into the cane does Cassian finally look up. The concentration that suffused his expression while he held the weapon transforms into a grin that has no match in Kay’s database. He catalogues it in an instant. Boyish. Excited. This is what Cassian looks like when he’s surprised by something he likes, surprised enough to chase the shadows away.
“Thank you. I… I can’t remember the last time someone got me a present,” he says, accent thickened with emotion. “It’s extremely fine. Very practical, very beautiful.”
“Yes,” Kay says, “like you.”