Chapter 1: Sunday Morning
CHAPTER ONE: SUNDAY MORNING
Jyn Erso groaned as the alarm she had set on her phone blared in her ear, waking her rudely from a very good dream. She resisted the urge to throw the phone across the room and sat up, missing the metal edge of the bunk above her, because even in her sleep she could dodge Leia’s bunk. She, Leia, Amilyn, and Shara had shared the small cabin and two sets of bunk beds all summer long, and as Jyn rubbed her eyes she remembered that it was Sunday, the first day of the last week of camp. Suddenly wide awake, she leapt out of bed and pulled her red guard suit and shorts on, groping blindly in the dark room for a hoodie and her hiking boots. The other girls had given her a hard time all summer for throwing her things all over the room, but since she tolerated Leia’s bitching about Han into the early hours of the morning, Shara sneaking in and out of the cabin to meet Kes, and Amilyn’s long phone conversations with her girlfriend back home, she figured she had the right to be a little messy.
As usual she was the first one awake and ready, so she snuck quietly out of the cabin with her backpack and started the steep hike up the hill to the mess hall. A lot of the senior counselors preferred to get a little extra sleep in favor of driving up the hill in the back of Han’s beat up old truck every morning, but Jyn loved having the forest to herself in the early light of dawn. She took the winding path quickly, breathing deep and heavy, letting the pine scented air fill her lungs and wake her up better than any cup of coffee ever could.
Ahead of her on the path, she spotted a lone figure taking the path at a much slower pace. She smiled to herself, she didn’t need to call out to him to know exactly who it was.
“Hey Cassian.” Jyn hustled up to walk by the side of her fellow counselor. Cassian Andor stopped and turned to wave at her, smiling bright, his eyes crinkled at the corners. Her heart pounded hard in her chest (from the exertion of the hike of course) and she caught up to him, the pair sharing the path as they neared the mess hall.
“Last week of camp, are you ready Jyn?”
“More than ready, I’m thrilled. It’s been a long summer.”
“Not all bad though, I think it’s one of our best yet.”
“Definitely, since Chirrut and Baze bought this place out from under Tarkin and Krennic it’s been like a dream, I’m just so tired of the kids.”
Cassian laughed, and Jyn could practically feel the warmth and depth of his laugh reverberate through her whole body.
Cassian looked her up and down as they walked, “Is that my hoodie?”
Jyn looked down, noticing for the first time that the hoodie she was wearing was far too large for her. It nearly covered her shorts and if she hadn’t pushed the sleeves up to her elbows her arms would be swallowed by the extra length, and Cassian’s name was embroidered on the chest, “Looks like it is. How did I get your hoodie?”
“We must have accidentally switched after we took them off Friday at campfire. It was so warm that night we all put ours in a pile, so I must have grabbed yours. I’ll bring it to your cabin tonight when we all go down after dinner.”
“Do you want it back now?” Jyn stopped, reached for the hem and started to pull it off, but Cassian stopped her.
“No, no. It’s fine. I…it suits you.”
Her face grew hot as he stumbled over the words, and she smiled shyly at him. He smiled back and they kept walking.
They reached the mess hall right as Baze was unlocking the large front door, grunting a greeting and letting them in. After seven weeks at Camp Endor, and the previous two summers besides, Jyn and Cassian had developed a morning routine that she had come to treasure. They were always the first ones to the mess, and Jyn would start up the monstrous coffee maker while Cassian grabbed the almond milk they both preferred out of the staff fridge. Then they would keep Baze company while the giant man got the kitchen staff started on breakfast, occasionally chipping in to help fry eggs or make toast. But for the most part they just sat with their coffee in contented silence, enjoying the sunrise and the peace before the stampede.
But the stampede always came, and soon all one hundred kids and twelve senior staff members filled the spacious room with noise. The kids were all in some state of filthy from the youngest, eleven year old Ellen Morgan who had a streak of mud across her generously freckled nose, to the oldest, seventeen year old junior counselor Patrick Brandt whose blonde hair was so greasy it was sticking up in every direction. Jyn had to laugh, and then she had to groan. These dirty kids would be in her pool soon enough, most of them somehow convinced that a turn in the swimming pool counted as a shower.
Jyn had been the lifeguard at the Camp Endor pool since she was eighteen, the year she was too old to attend camp anymore. She had spent every summer from age eleven as a camper, growing up there, making friends there. During the year she worked as a personal trainer and an assistant swim coach at the local high school in her hometown of Coruscant, but summers were always spent at Endor.
Most of the counselors there were once campers, Leia, Kes and Shara had started attending the year after Jyn, and Amilyn, Luke, Kay, and Bodhi the year after that. Han had come around when they were all seventeen, but Cassian hadn’t been a camper, he had shown up as a counselor when they were all twenty. He immediately fit in with everyone, and now they were all twenty two or twenty three, most of them about to start their last year of college, and it seemed like this was going to be everyone’s last summer as counselors, nearly all of them had lined up other jobs that wouldn’t allow for them to take entire summers off.
At the far end of the staff table, Chirrut Imwe stood up, smiling and gripping his cane in both hands. The room went quiet, and his smile grew brighter.
“Good morning, everyone! It’s Sunday morning of week eight of camp, just one week left in the summer. I know I’m going to miss you all after the week ends, but I hope you’ve had the best summer of your lives. Before I dismiss you all to start your day, I have just a couple of announcements.
First, don’t forget that our end of summer talent show is on Saturday night when your parents come to pick you up. We’ll show them all of the wonderful things you’ve been working on this summer, so be sure to let Leia know by Wednesday what you’re planning to present so she can arrange it.
Second, Jyn has put together a big competition at the pool on Friday. There will be a diving contest, a cannonball contest, a relay race, and other wonderful activities, so sign yourselves and your teams up at the pool before Thursday.
And finally because we’re expecting rain tonight and tomorrow, Amilyn has canceled all trail rides until she can be sure the trails are safe for the horses. You can still go visit, brush, and feed the horses, but there won’t be any riding until at least Wednesday morning.
Does anyone else have any announcements?”
Bodhi stood up a little clumsily and waved shyly over to Baze, who tapped Chirrut’s shoulder. The blind man bowed and motioned for him to continue, “Um, hi, so our astronomy overnight campout under the stars will be Thursday night in the north meadow by the pool. Cassian and his survival students who want to participate will be cooking pies over the fire. If you want to do the campout and you want a pie, come to the nature center and put your name down before Thursday at lunch. That’s all, thank you.” He sat down hastily and Jyn flashed him a reassuring smile. Bodhi Rook had very much become like her brother, even outside of summer. He lived across town from her in Coruscant and would often come stay at her apartment when his roommates were being obnoxious. She knew he hated public speaking, which is why he taught at the nature center. It was the least populated section of camp, and stayed pretty quiet during the day.
Baze got to his feet then, “Senior counselors stay here for morning meeting, everyone else go to your cabins and get ready for the day. Sunday schedule activities will begin at nine. You have thirty minutes. You’re dismissed.”
Jyn flinched as the room filled with noise again and the stampede of children raced out of the mess hall, leaving their food trays in giant stacks on the tables by the kitchen serving windows.
“We have to come up with a better solution for those.” Baze muttered to himself as he did after every meal. The counselors all snorted with laughter and got a soft glare in return.
“It’s Sunday morning of the last week of camp,” Chirrut echoed his earlier speech, and the senior staff settled down, “And I cannot express to you enough how proud I am to have had this summer with you. This was our first year running the camp on our own after buying it out, and you’ve all been absolutely wonderful with the transition. Just a reminder, if you have anything you want to submit anonymously, there’s a box on Baze’s desk in the office. That’s for complaints or anything else that you want to share without us knowing you who are. But I hope that if you have a problem that you know you can always come to us.”
Jyn nodded, knowing that every one of her friends and colleagues would be ignoring the box. Chirrut Imwe and Baze Malbus were the kindest, least judgmental people she had even known, and even if she had a problem with how things at camp were run, she knew they would handle it with grace and care. It was a pleasant change from the last owners of the camp. Orson Krennic and Wilhuff Tarkin had only run the camp for two years, but they had been the worst two years of camp in Jyn’s entire life. The only thing that kept her going back was loyalty to the camp and the forest that had practically raised her, and the pinky swear she had made with the others that they wouldn’t give up.
Baze and Chirrut had come in as contracted instructors for a special one week camp session the year before and had fallen in love with the place so fast that they had offered to buy it within days of arriving. They had retired from teaching martial arts full time and now lived up at the camp, looking after it year round.
Jyn was ready for the summer to be over, but she wasn’t ready to leave camp. It was her home, her happy place, her life. She spent all year planning activities and lesson plans and buying pool toys and sunscreen in bulk with her extra cash.
But the week before she had received a call from the head swim coach she worked under, saying she was leaving to teach at the local state college and asking if Jyn would step up as head coach. This meant a lot more money, health insurance, and no more free summers. Jyn had asked for a couple of weeks to think about it, and she would have to give her answer this upcoming Saturday. She was terrified to think about it, but she was pretty sure what her answer would be.
She snapped out of her reverie when everyone around her got to their feet to start their day. She shot Cassian a smile as he packed up his bag, and he waved goodbye to her as he and Kay made their way out the back door towards the Survival Skills cabin. When she turned around, Leia was in her face.
“What was that?” Leia demanded.
“What are you talking about?”
“That. How you two smiled at each other. Are you dating? Is that his hoodie?”
“Cassian? We’re not dating. We just have coffee together, it’s no big deal. We accidentally switched hoodies after the campfire Friday night. I’ll give it back to him tonight when he has mine.”
“How long has this been going on? That wasn’t a ‘no big deal’ smile he just sent you.”
Jyn groaned, “Nothing is going on. We’ve been walking up here early and having coffee before breakfast for like, two years. We’re friends.”
Leia didn’t seem convinced, but she dropped the conversation, much to Jyn’s relief. Even though most of her friends had paired off, she was not about to think about what would happen if she and Cassian ruined their friendship by dating, no matter how beautiful Cassian was. No matter how his voice made her insides shiver. She didn’t know how to be a girlfriend, or anything else Cassian could possibly want from her. She was too stubborn, too afraid of losing someone, that she had never dated. The spin-the-bottle kiss she had shared with Luke when they were all fourteen didn’t count, especially since Luke was into men and the counselors had interrupted both the kiss and the game. Not that she wanted to date or kiss Cassian, of course.
Jyn shook her head, grabbed her backpack, and made her way to the pool, which was at the northernmost part of the camp. The nearest building to the pool was the nature center, and she could see Bodhi unlocking the front door to the cabin as she approached her domain. The pool was surrounded by a high chain link fence and almost no trees, which meant most animals and leaves and most importantly all children stayed safely out of the water. She unlocked the padlock and slipped into the gate, flipping off the light switches that she left on all night for safety. She retracted the fancy new pool cover that Chirrut and Baze had let her buy at the beginning of the summer and started the morning routine of testing the pool chemicals and skimming any debris out of the filters and from the bottom of the pool. She didn’t have any morning sessions on Sunday, so she always took the time to do a deep scrub of the place. It was like a meditation, relaxing and comforting. The smell of chlorine filled her nostrils and she smiled.
After about an hour, after letting the chemicals settle and filter through the whole pool, Jyn stripped off her shorts and Cassian’s hoodie, threw her hair into a ponytail, then dove in the ice-cold water. She used the momentum of her dive to carry her underwater over half the distance of the pool, then broke the surface with a gasp and tore into a fierce freestyle. She cut through the water effortlessly, executed a perfect flip turn at the far end and made her way back to the wall she had leapt from. The exertion of swimming at race speeds at such a high altitude made her breathe harder and deeper than she did back home, and she relished the burn in her lungs. When she reached the end of the pool she gripped the wall and smiled up at the still-lightening sky. She was home. She was happy. And she had seven whole days to take it all in and seal her most important memories in place.
Let’s get started.
Chapter 2: Sunday Afternoon
The initial response to this has been wonderful, I don't think I've ever gotten kudos faster than I did on Wednesday. I'm overwhelmed. Thanks everyone!
CHAPTER TWO: SUNDAY AFTERNOON
“I don’t know why you’re trying to argue with me. I know what I saw and I trust my own eyes. You were flirting with Jyn Erso.”
Cassian pulled his brown leather jacket tighter around his chest as he crossed his arms and frowned at his best friend and colleague, Kay Tuesso. They were pulling out huge boxes filled with dozens of Dutch ovens for their lessons that afternoon, and Kay hadn’t stopped talking about Cassian and Jyn’s interaction at breakfast since they had left the mess hall. All morning Kay had been pestering him about how apparently, the one smile he had sent Jyn across the hall had meant that they were now in a “courtship” and that Cassian should know how he and Jyn “would never work out.”
“I wasn’t flirting, Kay. Can you please drop it?”
“You exhibited all of the normal signs of flirting in the human male. You even blushed, which I didn’t think was possible given your personality and the things you have seen and done but I guess the odds must have simply been astronomical rather than impossible.”
“Please, Kay. I don’t want to talk about it.”
Kay frowned. Cassian knew what Kay was thinking, but it really wasn’t like that. It was honestly just that he couldn’t stop looking at her. If someone didn’t know her they wouldn’t be able to tell that she was just so expressive, every little thought and emotion was plastered across her face for all to see, but only if they looked hard enough.
During morning meetings from his usual seat if he tilted his head at exactly the right angle and rested his chin on his hand he could look through his eyelashes at her and observe her without her knowing, which was when she really shone. He often caught her lining up her pens and pencils by length and then by color, wincing and scrunching her nose up just so when she couldn’t get the pattern the way she wanted.
Once he almost laughed and gave himself away when he caught her tapping her toes and snapping her fingers so lightly they didn’t make a sound, and he did let out a snort when he realized she was doing the drum beat from We Will Rock You. He had to pretend to be taking notes when her eyes snapped his way so that she wouldn’t see, she couldn’t see, that he knew by heart the way her eyebrows raised when Chirrut added yet another thing to the weekly schedule, how she seemed to be actively biting her tongue.
He delighted in the little game she made out of stacking her folders and manuals as high as she could and making an eraser bounce down them like a slinky on stairs.
He knew the face she would make when she wanted to say something snarky but chose not to, he knew the frown that would cross her lips if she thought she was getting a free afternoon but wasn’t, and was relieved right alongside her when she asked for a little extra in her budget and got it, her eyes lighting up and the grip on the edge of the table relaxing leaving the smallest print of sweat and heat that evaporated as quickly as it appeared.
He could tell when she had a song she hated stuck in her head because she would nod her head to an unheard beat a few times before her eyes would widen and she’d shake her head violently as though she could knock the song clean out of her ears.
He could look at her all day, and that was the fact he needed to hide from Kay, because the lanky robot-like man he called his best friend would analyze their interactions to death, and would try to talk him out of having feelings- if that’s what they were- for someone he only spent eight weeks a year with. He wasn’t even sure what it was he felt for her, only that he respected her more than anyone else he had ever known and always wanted to try to make her smile. Whatever that made the two of them, that was enough for Cassian. For now.
He shook his head and glanced at the sky. The rain clouds were gathering fast, they needed to pick up the pace and get back into the large cabin he and Kay taught in. Suddenly he heard a roll of thunder.
“Jyn’s going to have to evacuate the pool. That was thunder.”
“Of course when a storm is coming your first thought is about Jyn Erso. Why am I not surprised? You know Han, Amilyn, Kes, and Shara have to close their areas down too. Do you want to know the percentage of our conversations that end up being about Jyn?”
“I don’t want to know. Please stop.” Cassian groaned and grabbed the last box, slamming the storage shed door behind him.
Cassian started to walk away, “Let’s get going.”
“It’s very high.” Kay sniffed, but grabbed the boxes and followed.
Jyn had to evacuate the afternoon session swimmers as soon as they heard the first roll of thunder. There was no risking the children’s safety when lightning could be involved. She heard very few protests, the kids had done this before and it was getting pretty cold. She sent them into the locker rooms to change and dismissed the junior counselors who had come to help her lifeguard. She told them just to make sure that the youngest kids made it safely to their cabins and she would clean up the pool herself. She watched them run off with a smile as the rain began to fall. Their enthusiasm and carefree attitude reminded her of her early days at camp, the long days and cozy nights, making her lifelong best friends, learning everything there was to learn about nature, art, music, riding…
Her mind shot to Saw Gerrara and then her father as she ran her hands through her hair and sighed, willing those thoughts away.
She didn’t bother to cover herself from the now driving rain as she walked the perimeter of the pool, gathering up pool toys and goggles and a couple of stray camp t-shirts that had been left behind. She tossed everything into bins by the gate, pulled the cover over the pool, locked the gate behind her and made her way to the pool shed.
It was different from her office, which was more of a makeshift lean-to on the pool deck that housed her records folders, sunscreen collection and some extra hats and sunglasses. No, the pool shed was a very special place.
The hinges creaked as she pried open the door and she slipped inside carefully, making sure not to knock anything over. The shed was stuffed ceiling to floor with empty buckets, broken lane lines, extra skimmers, filter pieces, and lost toys and clothes. It was a like a room of lost things, mostly stuff that would be useful someday but also things that were too full of memories to throw away. Jyn had inherited the shed from the previous senior counselor and for the last two years had been turning it into a sanctuary. From the door anyone looking in would just see a wall of junk, but Jyn had used an old, cracked paddleboard as a hidden gateway into her very own space.
On the other side of the paddleboard Jyn had uncovered a busted, beaten old loveseat and a low table, and once she had brought in new pillows and a couple of cozy blankets, she could curl up inside for hours and have no one disturb her. She didn’t get to use the space very often, but when it rained she hid herself away and just listened to the drops on the roof. There wasn’t a ton of floor space, but it was perfect just for her. She flopped down on the little couch and pulled out her phone to catch up on the world, not that there was much on the internet to interest her. A little news here and there, but all of her friends were with her at camp, and she hadn’t heard from Papa in… well, in a long time.
Her peace was disturbed after only a couple of minutes by a heavy knock on the side of the shed.
“Jyn? I know you’re in there. Can you come out please?”
Kes Dameron’s normally cheerful and teasing voice sounded strained and stressed, so Jyn sat up immediately and moved to the door. When she opened it, a rain-soaked Kes waited for her, his face stricken with pain.
“What’s wrong? Are you alright?”
“I’m fine, can I come in?”
Jyn hesitated, and Kes snorted, “We all know about your secret little clubhouse, Erso. We’ve been friends for what, ten years? Longer? We can tell when you’re hiding something. No one comes in here, promise. We just like to know where you go to hide when you’re upset.”
Touched and a little embarrassed, Jyn let Kes into her little space, grimacing when he seemed to be familiar with it enough to know where the door was, and sat next to him on the loveseat, “What’s wrong, Kes? You look horrible.”
He laughed weakly, “Cheers, Jyn. I just- I don’t actually know what’s wrong. But it feels massive. I feel like a weight has settled into my gut and I don’t know what to do to get rid of it. Or rather, I know what to do but I’m so scared to do it.”
“What’s going on?”
Kes sighed deeply, “I think Shara is going to break up with me.”
Chapter 3: Sunday Evening
Hey everyone, I'll be away camping this weekend so your Friday update will come early Thursday morning instead! Have a nice weekend, thanks for reading <3
CHAPTER THREE: SUNDAY EVENING
Jyn walked wearily into the office at the end of the day to hang up her keys and walked into a war zone. Han and Leia were on opposite ends of the room shouting at each other, and Baze was sitting at his desk, hands behind his head, watching calmly.
“You scruffy looking jerk, I need a budget increase more than you do!”
“Like hell, princess! You know how much ammo and arrows cost? I’m scrambling to have enough for these kids to do. You’re just mad that you lost.”
“Shooting sports is already the program area with the highest budget, it’s not fair! Music isn’t cheap you know.” She turned to their director, “Baze, please.”
Baze grunted and sat forward, “Leia, you know how badly I want to be able to fund all the departments equally, but Han’s right. Most of his arrows are broken and the older kids have nearly shot out all the ammunition. We still have a week left. I promise, next summer we’ll revisit the music budget.”
Leia gritted her teeth and glared at a smug-looking Han, who only smiled wider when she flounced out of the room.
“I love it when she’s angry.”
He strutted from the room, clapping Jyn on the shoulder on his way out. She rolled her eyes and went to hang her keys up. A heavy sigh caught her attention.
“Baze, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing, little sister. Just tired.” He pushed his bushy, greying hair out of his eyes and gave her a weak smile, hands braced on the edge of the desk.
“One more week, then you and your husband get this place all to yourself again.” Jyn grinned and patted Baze’s outstretched hand. He turned up his palm and laced his fingers through hers briefly, squeezing tight just once before letting her go. She could read the weariness in his face, but also peace. He and Chirrut seemed like very different people at first glance, Chirrut had a positive, optimistic energy and Baze was more serious, but they both had powerful presences and kind, understanding demeanors. They looked after each other, trusted each other, and that kind of love thrilled and scared Jyn. She had never met a couple that made her believe in love before she met Baze and Chirrut, and she had bonded with them instantly. Before they moved up to camp full time they lived across the state in Jedha City, teaching various martial arts to all ages. They had been Luke’s karate instructors, which is how they got the job the year before teaching a self-defense seminar at Camp Endor. Jyn was grateful for them.
She rapped her knuckles on the desk, hung up her keys and blew Baze a kiss goodbye as she headed to the mess hall for dinner. She was among the last to arrive, so by the time she grabbed a plate of pasta and a can of soda she had to cram herself onto the end of the long bench at the senior counselor table. She sat half-off the bench next to Amilyn, who was covered in mud head to toe.
“I spent the whole afternoon fighting the rain, trying to get the damn horses stabled,” she said between bites, “And I fell. Twice.” She giggled at her own misfortune, which made Jyn laugh too.
“Amilyn, are you coming tonight?” Shara shouted from the far end of the table.
She shook her head, “I need a shower, and I’m gonna Skype with my girl tonight. You have fun though.”
Jyn had nearly forgotten about their Sunday night tradition and perked up, “I’ll be there.” She smiled at the cheer that came from Shara and Leia and found herself caught in the tractor beam that was Cassian’s smile. She smiled back at him, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear self-consciously. Kay suddenly coughed loudly and deliberately and she was shaken out of her trance. She glared at him and stuck her tongue out, which made Cassian snort into his glass of water. Jyn blushed, Kay huffed and went back to his food, muttering to himself.
“I’m out,” Bodhi said, “I’m not feeling well.”
“Me neither,” Luke chimed in, which Jyn found suspicious in a way she couldn’t describe. Leia pouted at her twin brother but put a hand to his forehead to check his temperature.
“You are a little warm. I hope something isn’t going around.”
“I’m sure we’re fine, probably just the rain.”
After dinner was dismissed and all the campers were told to return to their cabins, the senior staff minus Amilyn, Bodhi, and Luke gathered at Han’s truck, which he had named “The Millennium Falcon.” (“It’s a cool name for a cool truck,” he had explained in exasperation over the sound of everyone’s laughter). They played a round of rock, paper, scissors for who would get to sit up front, which Leia won. She grinned triumphantly as Han groaned, probably expecting a rehash of their earlier fight while they drove. Everyone else piled into the bed of the truck and held on for dear life as he fired it up.
The tradition started three years ago, when Tarkin and Krennic had first been in charge of Endor. Their tyrannical rule had been oppressive and difficult, and the senior staff had been frustrated and angry, but unwilling to leave. So they started blowing off steam every Sunday night, the only night they had designated free to themselves. The nearest mountain town, Mos Eisley, wasn’t much of a town, but it did have a decent dive bar with a big jukebox and cheap beer. Sunday nights after dinner, the Camp Endor staff took over The Canteen Bar.
They went to take over their usual table and Jyn found herself sandwiched between Bodhi and Cassian. Her breath hitched as the entire length of his leg pressed against hers as they crammed into the booth. She could feel his warmth through his jeans and thought it possible that she could spontaneously combust. Kes bought the first round of beers and when he passed one to Jyn his eyes landed on hers, boring into her, reminding her of their earlier conversation.
“What do you mean? Shara’s not going to break up with you.”
Kes was pacing around the small space in the pool shed, anxious and sweating, “I swear she is. She’s been really distant and moody lately, and she keeps saying that’s it’s nothing, that’s she fine, but she won’t even look me in the eyes, Jyn!”
Jyn sighed, “First of all, when you talk to her- not if,” she held a finger up when Kes opened his mouth to interrupt, “But when. When you talk to her about this, you won’t use the word moody. She’ll set you on fire if you imply she’s just being hormonal or whatever. She’s probably just thinking about stuff, distracted with work or whatever. I’m sure it has nothing to do with you.”
“You can’t know that unless you ask her, Jyn.”
“No way, I’m not doing your dirty work.”
“Please? I’m begging you. Ask her what’s wrong, and if it’s serious you can tell me and I can do something to fix it. I’ll do anything to fix it. Anything.”
Jyn groaned and flopped on the loveseat, “You’re killing me, Kes. You know that right?”
“And you’re my best friend, you know that right?”
“Shara’s your best friend, she’s also your girlfriend and I shouldn’t have to be the go between. I haven’t done that for you since we were fifteen.”
“But you always come through. Thank you,” he grabbed her for a fierce hug, which Jyn tried to wiggle out of, “No, you’re getting this hug. Don’t fight me. Just let me be comforted.”
She relaxed into the hug, but as soon as he let her go she was throwing open the paddleboard entrance to the hideaway, “Go away and let me brood in peace.”
Kes saluted as he ducked out and Jyn smiled. He was hopelessly in love with Shara, had been since they were fifteen, so she hoped that the two of them would make it work.
“Shara, how’s the wall? Did you have to do any rescues this weekend?” Jyn looked away from Kes and towards his girlfriend, who was looking paler than usual and acting a little jumpy.
“Nope, no rescues for a while. The climbers too scared to make it to the top have stopped coming to take climbing classes. And the good ones hardly need my help at all.” Shara and Kes ran the climbing wall and ropes course together, and they were very popular with the older kids. Jyn could see why, they were both very good looking and charismatic, and their activities were high energy and adventurous.
Han raised his glass to the middle of the table, and everyone raised their glasses to meet his. He cleared his throat, “To our last week. May it be like the first. Fun, fresh, and not taken for granted.” They all cheered and drank deeply from their glasses, except for Shara, whose glass slipped from her hand and smashed onto the table, shattering everywhere and showering them all with cold beer.
“Watch out for the glass, Shara are you ok?”
Shara’s mouth was open in shock, “I’m so sorry, I don’t know what happened!”
The grumpy bartender they all called Chewie came over and growled out, “You all have to leave if you’re breaking glasses. Get out of here.”
“Chewie, come on. You know us.”
“That’s the rule, Han. Go on back to camp.”
They all groaned and slumped outside, reassuring Shara that they weren’t mad at her.
“It’s probably best, we should get some rest. I have a feeling this week is going to be really long.”
They climbed back in the Falcon and went back to camp. The drive was quiet and awkward, but Jyn was still sitting next to Cassian and pressed right up into his side, so she hardly noticed the awkwardness. Her heart was pounding and she didn’t know why, she refused to know why. All she knew was that despite the unceremonious early end to their night, she was content.
They pulled up to their cabins and split up, the girls heading to one cabin and the boys to the other. The girls barely had time to put their bags down and say hi to Amilyn and her girlfriend over Skype when the boys came running over to their cabin and pounding on the door.
Leia threw the door open, “What do you want now?”
“Luke and Bodhi aren’t here. They’re missing.”
The eight of them split up, flashlights in hand, each choosing to search a different area. Kay, the ever logical, decided to check the infirmary. Everyone checked their own program areas, with Jyn covering the nature center as it was closest to the pool and Leia checked Luke’s arts and crafts center that shared a wall with her music room.
Jyn checked the nature center first, hoping that Bodhi went to get something that he had left behind that day, but no one was there. She made her way to the pool, but even with all the lights on there was no sign of him. She sighed and started to head back to the main part of camp, but a sound from inside the pool shed caught her attention.
She crept over to the pool shed as quietly as she could and pressed her ear to the wooden door. Sure enough, she could hear low voices coming from inside. She threw the door open and rushed inside. The loud creaking of the door as she opened it and her footsteps leading to the paddleboard entrance to her private sanctuary must have alerted whoever was inside, she heard them scrambling and cursing.
And then she was inside, and so were Bodhi and Luke.
They had managed to grab enough clothing to cover their…more sensitive areas but Jyn had seen enough. She gasped and clapped a hand to her mouth, dropping her flashlight.
“Holy shit, are you two fucking on my loveseat?!”
Chapter 4: Monday Morning
Short chapter today and a whole day early. Off to go camping! I'll get to comments when I get back. Love you all.
Jyn snuck out of the cabin in the morning before anyone else had woken up, as usual. She had slept very poorly between all the drama the night before and her brain working overtime thinking about Cassian when she distinctly ordered it not to, so she was up even earlier than usual. It was raining very lightly, she was taking the steep and dark path up to the main part of camp and had just rounded the staff parking lot by the mess hall when she nearly ran face first into a huge, hulking shape of a person.
“Oh god Erso, you scared me.”
“Han, what are you doing up so early? And what are you carrying”
“I…umm…Fuck. Okay, if I tell you can you promise not to tell Leia?”
“What did you do?” Jyn was getting alarmed, “Han, I swear if you broke or stole something of hers she’s definitely going to know it’s you.”
“It’s not like that,” Han sighed, “Alright, just come with me to the music room. I’ve been working on this all night. I stole her keys yesterday while we were fighting in the office.”
They trudged up to the music room and as the sky got a little lighter she could see he had an enormous black bag strapped to his back. She opened her mouth to ask him again what it was but he shushed her before she had a chance.
He opened the door silently and placed the large bag on his back in the far corner of the room, not on display but among a handful of beat up old musical instruments. He looked over his shoulder and smirked at her.
“Now you promise that you won’t tell? This is going to ruin my reputation as a free man, she’s going to demand I be her official boyfriend after this.”
“Well now you have to tell me.”
He pulled the black cover off the prize underneath and Jyn gaped at him in shock. In the bag had been two guitars, four ukuleles, and a handful of smaller handheld musical instruments such as recorders, tambourines, and triangles.
“Oh shit, Han. You’ve really outdone yourself. Leia’s going to flip.”
“I’ve been collecting them all summer every time I drive down the mountain for supplies. Saturday mornings are good times for yard sales, you know. So I’ve been hiding this bag under my bed trying to find a good time to surprise her. Since we fought so bad yesterday I figured now was a good time to make it up to her.”
Jyn’s face suddenly got hot and her eyes prickled and she realized she was about to cry. She hadn’t cried since she was 16, since her father… It had to be a fluke, she was probably just tired. She wiped her eyes discretely and cleared her throat,
“This is great, Han. I’m proud of you.”
He laughed, “Fuck Erso, that’s high praise from you.”
She punched him lightly on the shoulder then pivoted to leave.
“Hey Jyn?” Han said, still laughing, “What’s up with you and Andor?”
Jyn groaned, sent Han the finger which made him laugh harder, then left. She needed coffee.
Cassian wouldn’t admit to anyone that he was disappointed when Jyn didn’t meet him on the walk up to breakfast, not even to himself. She was a free woman, they were just friends, and it’s not as if they had talked about walking up to breakfast every morning, it had just started naturally happening. So when she entered the mess hall a little later with Han at her back and the two of them laughing he shouldn’t have been surprised or worried or jealous. But he was somehow all of those things, despite knowing that Leia and Han had been dating on and off since they were seventeen, despite knowing that Jyn had frequently mentioned that Han wasn’t her type, despite it being none of his business. But when she broke off from Han to take a seat at his side, he couldn’t help but feel like he had won something.
“Sorry I bailed on you this morning, I stumbled on that idiot,” she jerked her thumb toward Han, “crashing around the forest in the dark and decided to lend him a hand with a surprise for Leia.”
His shoulders visibly loosened, which he chided himself for. So he cleared his throat and changed the subject, “Your advanced lifeguarding students finish up today, right? What’s their final test?”
“They’re doing rescues on each other all morning, doing an unguided backboard on me right before lunch, then taking a written test right after. It’ll be easy, this group has been great. They’re really fun kids.”
“I have some of them in my survival class, fun group this year. I hope some of them are willing to step up to join the staff next year.”
For some reason that made Jyn’s face fall and she stared into her coffee, swirling it around the mug, “Yeah, for sure.”
“What’s wrong Jyn?”
She looked into his eyes, her own were wide and glistening, and she opened her mouth as if to speak, to deny, to explain, to do something - but she was interrupted by the arrival of the rest of the senior staff, led by Amilyn who was shouting.
“You arrogant son of a bitch, Solo! You left us! We were nearly late trying to hike up that damn hill.”
Jyn snapped her mouth shut, then raised an eyebrow at him before turning to watch the drama unfold. Cassian let out a breath that he hadn’t realized he had been holding. He knew he had no right to ask her to share her thoughts or feelings with him, he knew that she rarely shared thoughts or feelings with anyone, but he was still upset that he had seen that look on her face, as though she was lost and miserable and helpless. He never wanted to see that look on her face; he wanted to be the one responsible for making sure that look never darkened her beautiful face again. He knew he didn’t have the right, but he was starting to hope that there might be a future where he did.
Chapter 5: Monday Afternoon
I'm back! We now return to our regular posting schedule. Thanks for all the comments and kudos, I can't even begin to express how much it means to me.
CHAPTER FIVE: MONDAY AFTERNOON
She supposed she should have expected it, as she had pulled the same stunt on the former senior pool staff member when she had finished her lifeguard test. Jyn rolled her eyes and tried to adjust her position but it was no use, the straps were too tight and she was completely stuck. She tried to scowl at her students, but couldn’t keep her smile hidden for too long.
It had finally stopped raining just before lunchtime. The last task the advanced lifeguarding students had to do is strap a pretend spinal injury victim to a backboard. The backboard was fitted with a colorful series of straps and supports to keep the victim from moving and making their injury worse. They had been practicing this skill in pieces for a good part of the summer, and Jyn was testing their skills by acting the victim herself and refusing to give them any instructions, letting them figure it out themselves, just as she had been trained. But just has she had done when she was a camper, the students decided to take advantage of the fact that their instructor was tied up and walked out of the pool with her lying between them as if on a stretcher. There were eight of them and she was small and light and strapped in, so she didn’t stand a chance. She tried not to laugh thinking about all of the classes who had pulled this on their teachers over the years, but she eventually let out a chuckle that had her lifeguard students laughing along with her.
“Where should we set her up?” Naomi Jackson giggled.
Jyn’s star student and junior counselor Vera Dya chimed in, “Somewhere with shade, maybe the nature center?”
Jyn tried to turn her head but they had done too good of a job strapping her down. She grumbled, “Who even taught you guys about this? I know I didn’t put this idea in your head.”
Vera leaned her head into Jyn’s field of vision and laughed again, “Oh no you don’t, I’m not telling you anything. You’ll enact your diabolical revenge and I’ll feel guilty for setting them up for whatever torment you put them through. You’ve been my counselor for four years, I know you too well.”
Jyn rolled her eyes but she knew Vera was right. She’d figure it out eventually though, there were only a handful of people who knew about the old tradition, and they were almost all on staff.
The team of lifeguards trekked carefully down the math around the meadow towards the nature center. Jyn could hear Bodhi’s sweet voice carry across the field, teaching about different kinds of dragonflies that could be found in their region of the state. She flinched, remembering what she had seen last night.
“No, we weren’t- doing that on your loveseat!” Luke protested, trying to find his pants in the dark. Jyn picked up her flashlight and aimed it down at the pile of clothes, averting her eyes so the boys could dress in peace.
“Jyn, I’m sorry. We thought you’d all be gone a while and wanted some privacy.” Bodhi was shaking a little as he tugged his shirt over his head. She had scared him when she had burst in on the pool shed, and she felt bad about that Bodhi was skittish, years of abuse and neglect could do that to a person, and he had come so far in recent years. His stutter was almost non-existent and his eye contact had been improving, but Jyn noticed then that he wasn’t looking at her, crouched instead on the ground looking for his socks. She knelt down next to him and grabbed his chin.
“Hey, Bodhi. Look at me.” He hesitated but looked her in the eye after a moment, “I’m not angry with you. I was just surprised, that’s all. I wish you would have told me so we weren’t so worried when you two weren’t there when we got home.”
Bodhi nodded and relaxed, and Luke knelt down by his side and grabbed his hand, then addressed Jyn, “We were trying to keep it a secret for a while. You guys are our best friends but you can be a little overbearing and weird sometimes. Not you so much, but Leia, Shara, and Kes definitely are. And Han. And Kay. And honestly Amilyn sometimes. Just please don’t tell anyone, alright?”
She watched as Bodhi gripped Luke’s hand like a lifeline and softened even more. “Of course. You deserve a little privacy. How long has this been going on?”
“Since week two.”
Only a few weeks, Jyn realized. She understood the need to keep this one thing to themselves. She nodded and cupped Bodhi’s cheek.
“I’m happy for you, brother.” She raised an eyebrow, “But please keep your naked asses off of my couch.”
They rounded the front of the nature center and right into the middle of Bodhi’s class, a collection of younger campers who genuinely wanted to learn about bugs and a couple of older campers with nothing else to do in this time slot. Every head turned to look at the dripping wet and laughing bunch of lifeguards carrying their counselor between them.
“Bodhi, tell these degenerates to let me go!”
His startled laugh cheered Jyn’s heart, but she frowned at him when he appeared over her in her line of sight, “Hi Jyn, did you hurt your neck?”
She stuck her tongue out at him and he laughed again, turning to her students, “You can set her up over here. She’ll be shady and comfortable for a while.”
Everyone, including Jyn, laughed. Then her backboard was shifting from horizontal to vertical and she was propped up against the side wall of the nature center facing Bodhi and his class. She narrowed her eyes at them, which seemed to startle the younger kids until Bodhi went into his office and came out with a flower crown and put it on her head. The kids all roared with laughter and Jyn couldn’t help but smile.
Jyn had a hard exterior brought upon by years of training and fighting for Saw, and had little expectations of other people after a lifetime of being ignored by her father, but despite the roughness she tended to be kind, to believe in people, and to love them fiercely. She loved making these kids laugh, to bring joy into their lives, to make their summers as amazing as hers had been. Because she knew that, like her, most of them didn’t have much to look forward to back home.
So she’d gladly suffer being strapped to a backboard in her red one-piece guard suit with a flower crown in her wet hair. At least, she gladly suffered it until Cassian rounded the corner with a stack of papers in his hand, nearly dropping them when he caught sight of her. She blushed head to toe and started wiggling to be let out.
“What’s all this” Cassian smirked, then crossed his arms over his chest, leaned against a table near her, and looked her up and down. She stopped wiggling, she could nearly feel his gaze hot on her skin and it was a sensation she hadn’t felt in a long time. A heat started to pool low in her stomach the longer he looked at her and when she met his eyes, she found admiration, lust, and then suddenly surprise. His eyes widened and his smirk changed into a real smile.
“We should paint a mustache on her face.” One of the smaller kids jumped up and down and the whole group laughed, and the spell Jyn was under was broken.
Cassian shook his head, “Leave her alone, she’s going through enough as it is. Don’t you kids need to study for your final test this afternoon?” Jyn’s students groaned and rolled their eyes.
“Best take her down so she can go close the pool for your exam.”
The eight of them made quick work on her straps, but before releasing her hands, Naomi asked, “Jyn, could you leave the flower crown on for a while? You look really pretty in it and it’s so different from your usual look. You don’t have to wear it to dinner or anything, I just really like it.”
“Sure Naomi, just to the end of the test to keep you motivated.” The girl smiled then released the straps on Jyn’s arms. “Now go on, go get showered and changed and meet me in the mess hall in fifteen minutes. We’ll take the test in there and maybe Baze will let us eat dinner early.”
The group ran off, waving goodbye to Cassian and Bodhi and went right for the pool. While Bodhi hustled his students back inside, Jyn rubbed her knees where the straps had been the tightest and looked up at Cassian, who was watching him again.
“You’re a good sport, Jyn. Those kids love you.”
“They’re smart, and they’re quick learners. Plus, every lifeguard has probably put up with being tied to a backboard and left somewhere at least once. It was my turn.”
She smiled at him, then he was looking at her with that same mix of admiration and lust that took her breath away, a look she had never seen on him before.
“You do look nice in that crown. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen that suit on dry land before, only when you’re swimming. You- well, you look good, Jyn.”
She could feel a blush spreading across her cheeks, “Thanks, Cassian.” There was a long pause, then Bodhi cleared his throat behind her. She whirled around and glared at the shit-eating grin on his face.
“You two better head back to your own program areas. Can’t have you here, you’re incredibly distracting.” Jyn rolled her eyes and waved goodbye, eyes lingering on Cassian a little longer than she meant to.
She was in trouble.
Leia was already shouting for Han when she stormed into the mess hall for lunch, and the whole room went deadly quiet. Jyn sat up so fast the flower crown she had decided to keep nearly fell off her head.
“Han Solo! What are you trying to pull?”
The man in question spun all the way around in his seat, leaning his elbows back on the table with a grin from ear to ear, looking altogether too sure of himself.
“Hey Princess, how was your morning?”
“Don’t you ‘Princess’ me, did you put all that stuff in my music room?”
Han’s smile faltered a little, but he brushed the hair off his forehead and smiled, “I sure did. What of it?”
“I don’t know what you’re doing, but you can’t just give me all of this, it’s…”
“Romantic? Nice?” He stood and leaned down to whisper in her ear, “Sexy?”
“You’re a scoundrel, you know that right? You can’t bribe your way to forgiveness.”
“But I can certainly try.”
Then he kissed her, right in front of everyone. Several of the older campers cheered and got to their feet to get a better look, and the younger ones made sounds of disgust and looked away. Jyn glanced down the staff table to see Kes playfully trying to cover Bodhi’s eyes and Amilyn sighing with a wistful grin on her face. Kay was steadfastly ignoring the spectacle, but Jyn frowned when she saw Shara’s face. She looked like she was about to burst into tears, but not from happiness. Something was definitely wrong with her, and Jyn was now determined to find out what.
Chapter 6: Monday Evening
It's my birthday! Have a couple smutty filthy scenes, my present to you. It's short, but there's a lot more to come. See you Wednesday!
If smut isn't your jam, you can skip this chapter with no issue.
CHAPTER SIX: MONDAY EVENING
Cassian was in trouble.
He couldn’t pretend anymore. He had spent the last two summers trying to hide and deny his feelings for Jyn Erso, but after seeing her in her little swimsuit, hair soaking wet, and a sweet flower crown on her head, he was officially smitten. The flowers highlighted the flush in her cheeks, the heart shape of her face, the fullness of her lips. The swimsuit was tight and clingy and left nothing to the imagination, so he had finally been gifted with a good look at her strong, slender body. But most of all, seeing her in that vulnerable position and still laughing and making teachable moments made her seem powerful, invincible, incredible. He knew she was all of those things, and beautiful, smart, and fierce besides, but to stumble upon her at her finest, in all her glory, he hadn’t been prepared. His heart had felt like it would explode right out of his chest.
And then she had looked at him.
Cassian groaned and rolled over in his bunk. He had been trying to sleep for an hour and just couldn’t get comfortable, couldn’t get his mind to stop racing. His brain was JynJynJyn and nothing else. He couldn’t stop thinking about how she had met his eyes, her face open and full of… well he could have sworn he saw desire there. Her eyes had darkened and her tongue had darted out to wet her lips and she had held his gaze without blinking, without looking away.
It had startled him. He had never dreamed that she would ever look at him that way. No other woman had ever looked at him that way. Sure, he was no stranger to women, he had plenty of experience with one night stands and short flings, but he and they had always understood that there was nothing serious, nothing permanent there. But with Jyn he had looked into her eyes and suddenly wanted to see a future with her. He wanted to get to know her better, to see what she was like outside of camp, to learn about her childhood. The two of them had that in common- they never spoke of their younger lives. He suspected her reason was similar to his, a long life full of people who let you down, left you behind, or died. He wanted to know those things about her, wanted to tell her things about him. Wanted to trust her.
He groaned and rolled over again, then felt a kick from the bunk underneath him.
“Andor, I swear to god if you don’t shut up and fall asleep soon I’ll smother you with a pillow.”
Cassian leaned over the edge of his bunk, “Sorry Han. Can’t sleep.”
“Then go jerk off in the woods and relax a little.”
“Han,” Cassian hissed, “Shut up.”
“I’m serious, it helps.”
Cassian rolled his eyes and settled on his back, staring straight up at the ceiling.
Another hour passed.
His cabin mates’ snores filled the air. Han had finally drifted off. And Cassian was still awake.
Maybe Han was right, damn him. Maybe Cassian did need to relieve some tension. Sharing a room with five other men meant that none of them were very shy around each other (except Bodhi who was shy around everyone) but when they needed to take care of business it was usually a don’t ask-don’t tell situation. Cassian had never thought about going out into the forest, if he was desperate he usually used the showers. But the woods sounded nice. Cool, quiet, dark. Maybe he should go. He crept out of bed as silently as he could, careful not to wake his roommates, especially not Han. He knew he’d never hear the end of it.
There was almost no moon, so the forest was extra dark. The air was thick with the scent of pine and sap, needles and leaves crunched under his feet. He walked a good distance out, then stopped at a fallen log and sat down. He nervously shifted his feet in the grass. What if he got caught? He looked around, but he couldn’t see anyone or anything. It was so dark he could barely see the hand in front of his face. He decided he was safe, so he loosened his pajama bottoms and pulled himself out. He was already half-hard from thinking of Jyn back in his bunk, so it didn’t take long before he was fully hard and aching. He closed his eyes and thought about Jyn, how her swimsuit clung to her body, how she looked drowning in his hoodie, her smile, her tongue licking at her lower lip. He shuddered and spilled over his hand and onto the earth, Jyn’s name on his lips.
He sat in the silence for a moment, ashamed of what he had done, of his mind and where it had wandered.
But he couldn’t help but smile when he thought of seeing her in the morning, of sharing coffee with her. It was hard to feel bad when she made him feel so good.
Jyn couldn’t sleep.
The room was too small, too hot, too full of the snuffling noises of three other women sleeping and snoring. She threw the blankets off of her and stretched out, hands over her head and her shirt riding all the way up her rib cage. The ripped hem of her old sleep shirt irritated her sweaty skin, so she ripped it off. She lay there shirtless and in an old pair of running shorts, scheduled to wake up in only a few hours, and she couldn’t stop thinking about Cassian.
The way his eyes had raked over her body, the depth of his eyes as they stared into his, his hands touching hers as he passed her a cup of coffee. She could easily imagine those fingers touching hers, wandering, exploring her body.
Her own hands started to wander almost of their own accord as she imagined what Cassian’s hands could do. Her fingertips skimmed her nipples, pinching lightly before trailing down her stomach, over her hipbones before she slipped one hand beneath her waistband and found the wetness and heat that ached to be touched, ached for Cassian. As soon as she made contact with her most sensitive spot her hips jerked wildly in pleasure and she froze, waiting to see if she had woken Leia on the bunk above her. When Leia didn’t even so much as roll over, Jyn started again, taking care not to shake the bunk or make any noise at all.
It didn’t take very long once she found a rhythm, and she bit her own lip to keep from crying out. Her whole body relaxed finally, and after she pulled her shirt back on she was able to drift off to sleep and dream of dark eyes, a stubbled jaw, and a shy, crooked smile.
Chapter 7: Tuesday Morning
Hey everyone! Since I want to have this finished before the last day of August (the challenge deadline), I'm now posting Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays! Hopefully I can keep up with this schedule, wish me luck.
CHAPTER SEVEN: TUESDAY MORNING
To Jyn’s surprise, when she woke up early to walk up to the mess hall for coffee, Shara was awake too.
“Jyn, can I walk with you? I have to talk to you about something.”
Jyn nodded, but she was confused and worried. After she had that talk with Kes on Sunday she had been trying to get Shara alone, but the cabin was so small and their time so structured that it was hard to spend time with anyone one-on-one. It surprised her that Shara had decided to join her instead of going up with Kes in Han’s truck, but she was glad for it. Maybe she could get to the bottom of what was wrong with her.
The two women walked side-by-side in silence for a few minutes, Jyn’s fingers were twitching as the urge to speak grew, but she wanted to let Shara talk at her own pace. She kept her eyes peeled for Cassian, torn between wanting to see him and not wanting to be interrupted.
“I know you’re closer to Kes than you are to me. We’re good friends of course, but I know he trusts you more than nearly anyone in his life. I’m sure he’s probably talked to you about how I’ve been acting.”
Jyn said nothing, but nodded a little. Shara sighed.
“Truth is, something is really wrong. Or right. Or both. I just don’t know and it’s tearing me up inside. I want to talk to Leia about it but I know she tells Luke everything and I didn’t want any of the boys to accidentally let it slip to Kes. But I trust you as much as he does; I know you’re not a gossip. It’s hard enough to get you to open up at all and we’ve been friends half our lives.”
Jyn nodded, “He did say he was worried about you. And honestly, you have been acting weird.”
Shara laughed a little, then her face fell, “I’m really scared, Jyn. I’m worried about me, I’m worried about Kes, I’m worried about how he’ll react, what he’ll do… I need help.”
The sun was rising over the trees and the warm golden light hit Shara from behind, making her dark hair glow softly. Jyn had to shield her eyes to see the terrified face of her friend. Shara took a deep breath, then stopped and looked Jyn right in the eye, “I’m pregnant.”
Cassian was having his coffee alone for the second day in a row and he wasn’t happy about it. Not that he expected Jyn to meet with him every day, it was an informal arrangement after all, but two days in a row was unlike her.
And he was starting to miss her.
When she did come in she was nearly late and had Shara at her back. She slumped heavily at his side, looking as though the world had crashed down around her. She had dark circles under her eyes and a haunted look on her face.
“Are you alright, Jyn?”
“Yes, well… No actually. Just had a weird talk with Shara. Not my business to share but I’m in a strange mood now. Sorry I missed you this morning, she and I got to talking on the path and had to rush up here. I didn’t want to miss seeing- I mean, having coffee. With you.”
Cassian’s heart glowed when he thought about how she regretted missing their morning routine. He had hoped that their mornings were as important to her as they were to him, and judging by the tone of her voice, he was right to hope.
“It’s fine, of course you should help Shara with whatever she needs. Are you okay?”
Her eyes shot to his and he prayed that he wasn’t imagining the heat he saw there, “I had a hard time sleeping.”
He nodded, “Me too, honestly.”
“It’s too warm.”
There was an awkward pause, then Jyn murmured, “I can’t believe it’s the last week of camp.”
“I know.” He understood. He knew how important the camp was to her, even if she didn’t often express how she felt, he could see it in her face. She loved every inch of the place, knew every corner of every building. For the last two years when it came time to leave, he could see unwanted emotions well up and linger, as if she was afraid to let her friends or possible the camp itself see her cry. He didn’t know why, he didn’t know what was at home that she dreaded going back to, but he knew he wanted to wipe the sadness from her beautiful green eyes and assure her that she would always be able to come back.
Jyn shook her head as if to clear it, then turned a smirk to Cassian, “Anyways, I have an idea for tonight, are you in? I want to do something special.”
Chapter 8: Tuesday Afternoon
A little later than I meant to post, I was at work all day. If it makes you feel any better, I wrote a juicy cliffhanger chapter eleven while at work. <3
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
CHAPTER EIGHT: TUESDAY AFTERNOON
Jyn was taking a break from guarding and letting her junior staff take care of the pool when her phone buzzed with a call she never thought she’d receive again.
Her father hadn’t called her in over three years, since the last time she had seen him on the day of her high school graduation. They had fought, they had said some horrible things to each other and Jyn had stormed out. She moved out that weekend into her own tiny apartment and hadn’t gone back. The sight of his name on her phone screen sent her heart racing violently, and a lump rose in her throat.
How dare he call her? How dare he reach out when he had ignored her for three years, and for most of the ten years before that? Ever since her mother Lyra had died her relationship with her father had been strained, and their fight on graduation day had permanently shattered any hope she had for repairing it.
But there he was, calling her.
She let the call ring out, and he didn’t leave a voicemail. She sighed and rubbed at her face, willing herself to forget all about it. She didn’t have time for all of that. There were more important things to worry about.
Jyn’s mouth fell open and she blinked her wide green eyes at Shara, not sure if she heard correctly.
“Are you sure?”
“Positive. I took three tests this weekend. All last week I was feeling really strange, like moody and irritable, and then I started getting sick after breakfast and my period was late and I put it all together. I had Han take me into town, I told him I needed tampons and he didn’t ask me any questions. Kes and I have been so careful, I’m not sure what to do. We’re only twenty two, I’m not sure I’m ready to have a kid, but I love him so much and want to spend the rest of my life with him. I’m freaking out, Jyn. Please say something.”
Jyn wasn’t sure what to say. She had known the two of them for so many years and knew that they loved each other entirely. But a child? A real human kid? That was an enormous responsibility and a life long commitment, and both of those things scared Jyn beyond belief.
“Shara, I don’t know what to say. But you have to talk to Kes, he thinks you’re angry with him or that you’re about to break it off with him.”
Shara gasped and started to cry, “I would never! How could he think that?”
Jyn grabbed her friend by the shoulders, “He loves you, and you’re not talking to him. He’s scared, you’re scared, you should be scared together instead of hiding things from each other. Please talk to him.”
The two young women stood there with their arms wrapped around each other for a long time while Shara cried herself out.
Shara hiccupped softly and wiped the tears from her cheeks, “You’re right. I’m being stupid. I trust him more than I trust anyone, I have to tell him. I’m just so scared.”
“I know, Shara. It’ll all be okay. It has to be.”
Jyn stared at the phone screen for a long time, torn between fear and hope that he would call again. It wasn’t that she wanted to talk to him, but she just… well, she did want to talk to him. She could remember the days when he had been her entire world, before he had fallen into his work and refused to resurface, no matter what. No matter how she acted out, no matter how often she came home bloody and bruised, no matter how many weeks of camp passed without a letter. He had left her alone in the world, left her to mourn the loss of her mother and teach herself how to grow up by herself. Saw certainly hadn’t helped.
Her mood completely soured by thinking of Galen and Saw, she finally noticed the time and blew her whistle sharply three times to signal the end of the session. The kids whined and groaned at the thought of getting out of the water, but Jyn raised an eyebrow at them and they scattered to pick up their things and escape to the showers.
Sorry this one is so short, Friday's update will be long and delicious. Thanks for reading, I adore you.
Chapter 9: Tuesday Evening
Sorry this is late! I was at my grandparent's house and they didn't have wifi :/ hope the angst and intimacy makes up for it. Enjoy!
CHAPTER NINE: TUESDAY EVENING
“So this is your secret clubhouse, huh?”
Jyn blushed, then turned in a circle with her arms outstretched, “This is it. My super deep dark secret that apparently everyone knows about.”
Cassian smirked and looked around. The place was impossibly small, just enough space for a broken-in loveseat and a tiny area rug. He could imagine four people total could fit in the space, assuming two of them sat on the floor and didn’t mind their legs being tangled up.
A sudden image of his legs tangled with Jyn’s crossed his mind, but he pushed it away. Not now.
“It’s nice, I can see why you hide here,” Cassian paused, “But why am I here?”
“I heard a rumor that people have been using my shed as a place to hook up.” Jyn started, then blushed, “I mean, that’s not- Shit, that’s not the reason you’re here of course.” She laughed nervously and Cassian’s heart sank, “Not that- You know what, never mind. I was trying to say that I had this idea to hide out here tonight and scare anyone who might try to come in here to get it on. I thought it’d be fun if I had a friend in here with me to pass the time during my stakeout. And since you’re basically the only one not dating someone else on staff-“
“What about Bodhi? Or Luke?”
A look crossed her face that Cassian couldn’t read, but it looked like regret, or maybe embarrassment.
“I- I didn’t want to drag them into this. Bodhi doesn’t sleep well anyways so I didn’t want to disturb his sleep. Anyways, you’re my friend and you’re funny and cool-” She broke off there and Cassian smiled warmly, which only made her blush more.
He couldn’t help but smile at her, at the way she stumbled over her words and kept misspeaking. He knew better than to hope that she was bringing him there to make out or anything, but he was happy enough to spend time with her just the two of them.
A weight hit his stomach and he grunted. He snapped out of his thoughts and looked down at Jyn, a full head shorter than him, shoving a heavy box into his arms.
“Help me with these.” She smiled up at him and for just a moment he thought about what would happen if he leaned down and kissed her. For just a moment his eyes fixed on hers and he swayed forward almost imperceptibly.
Jyn stepped back and cleared her throat, “They’re, um, little lights. For around the shed. I found them in Baze and Chirrut’s office. I figured if we’re going to be in here a while we might as well have something cheery.”
Cassian blinked and opened the top of the box and sure enough, inside was a huge ball of tangled Christmas lights.
“Some of these look old enough to drink alcohol, Jyn. I don’t think they’ll work.”
“Might as well try though, right?”
For the next hour or so, Jyn and Cassian worked in near silence to untangle the lights, testing each strand on an extension cord that ran from the fuse box that powered the pool. About half of the little white lights worked, so they strung them around the tiny room, giving the space an ethereal glow.
“I feel like I’m surrounded by tiny stars,” Jyn breathed, looking around. Cassian couldn’t take his eyes off her, her huge green eyes and full lips curved into a smile that spoke of both joy and heartbreak, the strands of dark hair falling out of the bun at the nape of her neck.
“Beautiful,” he whispered.
Then her phone rang.
Jyn froze, eyes wide, staring down at her phone screen. His name stark white against the dark background, staring up at her accusingly, daring her to answer.
“You can take that if you need to,” Cassian said, sitting on the loveseat. Jyn didn’t move, didn’t avert her eyes, she just watched as the call rang out as it had that afternoon. Even after it stopped ringing, even after it was clear he wasn’t going to leave a voicemail, Jyn couldn’t stop staring at the screen.
She startled at the sound of Cassian’s voice and snapped her eyes to his. His face was hard to read, but concern shone in his eyes. She shook her head.
“It’s fine, I’m fine.”
“Do you want to talk about it?”
Jyn started to shake her head. After all, she hadn’t talked about her father with anyone, why would she start? And why with Cassian? But something stopped her. She liked Cassian, she trusted him, despite her distrustful nature. It would be so easy to just let it all out.
“It was my father. I haven’t spoken to him since I was eighteen.”
“Why would he call you now?”
Jyn ran her hands through her hair and sat heavily on the seat next to Cassian, “I don’t know. But he called earlier today. If I’m being honest with myself, I’m afraid to answer. I’m afraid to break the silence. It’s just- it’s easier.”
“Easier to avoid him and think of him as you always have than to open up to the idea that he may have become someone you despise? Or worse, someone that you can forgive?”
Jyn looked at Cassian through her long eyelashes, eyes brimming with tears and nodded, “Exactly. I don’t know how you knew that… but you got it.”
“I knew that because I was the same way with my family.”
Jyn held her breath. She had never heard Cassian talk about his family and she didn’t want to break the spell they found themselves under.
Cassian took in a shaky breath and continued, “My parents were killed when I was six years old. They were part of the uprising in Fest.”
“I remember when that happened,” Jyn whispered, “I’m so sorry.”
He waved his hand dismissively, “It was a long time ago. And for years I hated them. I hated the government, I hated the cause they fought for, but most of all I hated them. I hated them for choosing to go out that day, for deciding that it was more important to go out into the streets than to stay home and protect my little sister and me. I was left in charge at only six, and Carina was only three. What kind of parents would do such a thing? And then never come home?” His voice was growing stronger, angrier. “I hated them for the longest time. I hated them most when Carina ran away. She hated me for trying to parent her. I imagine she still hates me, but I haven’t seen her since I was seventeen. She was fourteen and on the arm of one of the biggest, meanest gangsters in town. And there was nothing I could do. So I left Fest forever. And I left my hatred of them behind.”
“I realized that they were only human. That if I could make mistakes and find things too big to be in my control, then so could they. It took a long time and a lot of mistakes, but eventually I found a place in my heart to forgive them.”
“Are you saying I should forgive my father?”
“No. I would never tell you to do anything you weren’t ready to do. But maybe the situation isn’t as black and white as it seems.”
Jyn huddled into herself, wrapping her arms around her knees and bracing them to her chest, “My father was alive when he left me behind. After my mother died he disappeared into his work. I was left to mourn her alone with nowhere to put my anger and fear. The man who eventually stepped in to help me… Well, he found a use for me anyways. I thought he was helping at the time but he was really giving me an outlet and using my anger for his own purposes.”
“What did he do?”
Jyn curled up tighter, closing her eyes. She hadn’t spoken of Saw to anyone, not even her closest friends knew the extent of what he had done to her, though she thought some of them suspected. Luke certainly knew of Saw’s reputation in the world of martial arts, but even he didn’t know what he was like behind closed doors.
“Jyn? You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.”
“It’s fine,” she took a stabilizing breath, “Have you ever heard of Saw Gerrara?”
Cassian shook his head so Jyn continued, “He’s been one of the country’s biggest names in martial arts for the last thirty years. He saw me getting picked on by some bigger kids and fighting back. Instead of stepping in to help me, he watched as I punched my way out of it. He came up to me after the other kids had run away, took one look at my broken hand and said ‘I’m going to teach you how to hit them so they never get back up to hurt you again.’ And I was his from that day on. He made me his star fighter, teaching me real martial arts during the day, and at night throwing me into the ring during underground fight nights with men much bigger than me, showing me off and winning him a ton of money. My father had no idea, he didn’t care at all.”
“You could have died, Jyn.”
“I know. I came close a couple of times. I’m pretty sure I’ve broken every bone in my body, but I won a lot more often than I lost. And when my father found out, Saw stopped calling. I went to the old gym and he and his cadre were gone. He left me without a word, dumped me with nothing. I was sixteen and I had bet my entire life on fighting. This camp and fighting, that was all. I barely finished high school. I was lucky that I happened to be good at swimming, I picked it up the last two years of school because I had nothing else. When I swim and the water is in my ears and I can’t hear anything except the water and my own heartbeat I feel grounded, more connected with myself. It drowns out the rest.”
Cassian nodded, then leaned his head on the back of the sofa and tucked his legs to his chest in a mirror of Jyn’s posture.
“I think I understand that feeling more than most. I know that was hard to talk about, thank you for telling me about him.”
“It’s not a big deal,” but she swallowed heavily, “Thank you for telling me about your parents too. It must be really difficult for you.”
She leaned her head on the arm of the couch and stretched her legs out just a bit, tucking them into the cushions that made up the back of the couch. Cassian also slouched down, his legs stretched out toward her, and soon they were both nearly laying down, their legs pressed together intimately.
“Are you still wearing my hoodie?” He murmured, voice thick with exhaustion.
She nodded, “Do you want it back?”
“No, it’s fine.”
The two of them sat in silence for a long time, just watching the lights twinkle and listening to the sound of each other breathing. Jyn started to doze off, thinking to herself she would just close her eyes for a moment. She heard Cassian whisper something as she drifted to sleep that sounded something like, “You can keep it forever.”
Chapter 10: Wednesday Morning
“Someone didn’t come to bed last night.”
Jyn looked up from her coffee and into Leia’s accusing face, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I came in late and left early, you were asleep the whole time.”
Leia scoffed, then leaned forward and whispered, “I happen to know that Cassian didn’t come in last night either, and you’re still wearing his hoodie. Any explanation for that? Or are you going to keep lying to me?”
Jyn couldn’t help it, her eyes darted of their own accord over to Cassian, who was eating his breakfast as if he didn’t notice Jyn getting the third degree only a few feet away. Jyn knew better, he was completely aware of what she was going through, and he was having a laugh at her.
Jyn was woken by the sun shining through the gaps in the wooden slats that made up the side of the shed. She blinked a few times, trying to get her bearings. Why did her neck hurt so bad? Why was she still in a hoodie? She never slept in a hoodie. She reached blindly for her phone and found it tucked next to a leg.
She tried to jump up, but tripped over Cassian’s feet where they rested near her head. They had fallen asleep feet to head, with Jyn tucked on the inside of the couch and Cassian nearly falling off the edge. When she moved and tried to vault over his legs, she knocked them both to the ground in a groaning heap.
“Shit, Jyn. What the… Oh no. We fell asleep?”
“We did,” Jyn checked her phone, “Fuck, and it’s only 20 minutes until breakfast. We’ll definitely be seen.”
“I’m so sorry, it’s all my fault. I didn’t mean to fall asleep.”
“No it’s my fault, I should have set an alarm. And now my battery is almost drained from being unplugged all night.”
Cassian tugged his boots on and ran his hands through his hair. It was almost unfair how perfectly handsomely disheveled he looked this early in the morning after very little sleep on a very small couch. Her own hair had fallen out of its bun and was tumbling down her back in messy waves and she just knew the dark circles under her eyes would be noticeable all day.
“You go on ahead. I’ll wait 15 minutes and follow you, and I’ll go in through the back so it looks like I was in the kitchen the whole time.”
Jyn nodded, then paused, “Cassian? I’d um, I’d appreciate if you didn’t go around talking about Saw or my father to anyone. Bodhi and Luke know pieces of it, and Leia met my father once many years ago, but I’ve never told anyone about the fight nights.”
Cassian surprised Jyn by pulling her into a quick hug. She normally didn’t like hugs, but his arms were so warm and strong, and though he wasn’t a very tall man he practically engulfed her whole body within his. She sank into him for a moment before he pulled away, “I won’t tell anyone Jyn. You can trust me on that.”
“Alright, Leia. I slept in the pool shed last night.”
“Why would you do something like that?”
“I’m trying to catch whoever has been using my shed as a den of sin, alright?”
Leia snorted, “Jyn, that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” She paused, and then gasped, “If your shed has become a den of sin and you had Cassian in there with you then that means-”
“Fuck, Leia can you keep your voice down?” Jyn hissed in a fierce whisper, “Fine. He was helping me out hanging up some lights and we fell asleep. Nothing happened.” She could see Cassian’s shoulder shaking with laughter out of the corner of her eye.
Leia’s eyes narrowed, “Nothing?”
“Nothing, it’s not like that between us. And it’s not going to be. We’re just friends.”
The entire staff table was startled by Cassian pushing the bench he was on back from the table and hurrying off to clear his breakfast plate, and walking out of the mess hall without a word. Jyn watched him go, lips pursed and eyebrows furrowed. Even more strange than Cassian’s abrupt departure was Kay. He was looking at Jyn with the oddest look on his face, a mixture of concern and realization.
“What’s going on?” Baze called from the far end of the table, “Is he not going to stay for the morning meeting?”
Kay shook his head, his face returning to his usual stoic expression, “I can pass on any information he misses. He needed to get some air.”
Jyn sat back and crossed her arms. What was that?
Chapter 11: Wednesday Afternoon
I'm late again, but this chapter is dramatic af. It also involves a minor lifeguarding incident. No one drowns, no one even goes underwater, but there's a tense water rescue and if that's a rough spot for you then steer clear of this chapter. Just scroll down and read the last bits of dialogue to keep up with the plot. This scene is based on a true story.
Also, Friday's chapter might come out Saturday. Depends on how fast I can write. Thanks for reading, all the comments and kudos are giving me life.
CHAPTER ELEVEN: WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON
Jyn had taken to pacing around the pool with her rescue tube in her hand instead of perching on the guard tower. She needed to move, needed to walk off her pent up energy. Her thoughts were racing as her eyes scanned the pool for tired or injured swimmers, ready to jump in at a moment’s notice. Galen, Saw, Leia, Kes and Shara, Cassian Cassian Cassian… Her mind was a swirl of long suppressed pain, worry, and confusion.
A whistle from across the pool had her attention immediately. One of the junior lifeguards who was posted up on top of the tower was whistling and pointing at the dead center of the pool, where there was a little more splashing than usual. Jyn had been patrolling the deep end of the pool and hadn’t seen the commotion, but her reflexes kicked in and she jumped right into the water.
Her expert jump left her head above water and she never lost eye contact with the boy in the center of the pool. He hadn’t gone under, but the way his arms were flailing indicated that he was exhausted and nervous, trying desperately to push and keep his head above the water. Jyn approached with her rescue tube first, calling out to the boy, whom she now recognized as little Jaime Garza.
“Hey Jaime, buddy. How’s it going?” She was approaching slower now, trying to calm the boy down. Out of the corner of her eye she could see the other lifeguards getting the other kids clear of the action, coaxing them all to sit on the edges of the pool. She heard a phone start to ring, with all the best timing in the world.
“Jyn! I’m so tired!” His eyes were wide and scared and Jyn’s heart was pounding.
“Come here and grab this alright?”
“I can’t!” His little arms were getting weaker, Jyn could see that his head wasn’t coming up as high after each windmill of his arms. She had to act fast.
“Come on, Jaime! I know you can do it.” She kept the rescue tube close to the boy, but not so close that he could hit his head or smash his fingers on it. It was padded but still very firm. All he had to do was reach out and grab it. “Reach your big strong arms over toward me. I know you can.”
The boy looked at Jyn with panic all over his face and Jyn forced herself to smile at him and the phone was still ringing, heightening her anxiety. He calmed down just long enough to find the rescue tube with his eyes and reached out for it. He gripped it with all his might and the onlookers cheered. Slowly Jyn started treading water, tilting her lower body so they moved backwards toward the wall. She kept Jaime facing the wall of the pool so he could see how close they were to safety, and when her back hit the wall her junior staff took over, gripping Jamie by the underarms and pulling him out. They wrapped him in a towel and hustled him over to a patch of sun, asking him gentle questions and assessing that he was all right. Jyn hauled herself up onto the wall and lay flat on her back, feet and ankles still in the water. She reluctantly gave a couple of high fives to the more enthusiastic campers who rushed to her side. After catching her breath and feeling her heart rate go down, she pushed herself to her feet and walked over to the other lifeguards, calling over her shoulder to the campers that they were to stay out of the water.
She dismissed the other lifeguards and knelt in front of the small boy, who was still shaking, “Hey buddy. You did great.”
“I’m sorry Jyn, I didn’t mean to.” He started to sniffle, “I just got so tired.”
“It happens all the time, Jaime. Don’t worry about it.” The phone rang again, she rolled her eyes and called out to the junior staff, “Can someone please answer that stupid phone already?”
She turned her attention back to Jaime, who was still sniffling but seemed a lot calmer. He gave her a little smile, “I think I’ll stick to arts and crafts this week.”
Jyn laughed and ruffled the boy’s hair as Aiden Gonzales, one of Jyn’s junior staff, came up behind her.
“Phone’s for you, Jyn. I answered it”
Jyn rolled her eyes again, which made Jaime laugh. She took the phone, which had turned out to be hers, from Aiden and without looking at it pressed it to her ear.
“…Papa? What are you doing? Why are you calling? I’m a little busy right now.”
“Stardust, I have to tell you something. It’s very important and I know you don’t wish to hear from me but I knew no one else would call you.”
“Hold on one second.”
Jyn stepped away from everyone on the pool deck, waving to Vera up on the guard tower to let the kids back in the water. When she was far enough away from them, she turned back to the phone, “What is it?”
“Saw Gerrara is dead.”
Chapter 12: Wednesday Evening
I finished faster than I thought, so here's another chapter! I had a bunch of chapters in the bank right up until now, but I've caught up with myself and am going to be writing each chapter as I post them now. So if they start coming later and later in the day, you know why. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoy this chapter, it's longer than the last few have been and has a couple angsty bits.
News of Jyn’s rescue spread like wildfire through camp and by the time she arrived at dinner, a little late because of all the paperwork she and Jaime had to fill out together, the whole camp had heard about it. Scattered applause and a few cheers rang out as she entered the mess hall, exhausted and starving. It was burger night and the head chef Melshi slipped her a second burger with a wink.
She collapsed at the end of the staff table and Kes gave her a firm slap on the back, which made her scowl.
“Nice work, Erso. I heard you saved a drowning kid today.”
“I heard it was two kids at once,” called Han from the other end of the table.
Jyn rolled her eyes, “It was just the one kid, and he was fine. His head was still above the water and everything.”
To her surprise, it was Kay who spoke next, “A commendable job, Jyn Erso. You’re a paragon of your profession.”
“Well…thanks Kay. That means a lot, coming from you.”
“Don’t get used to it.” He turned back to his dinner.
The whole table laughed, used to Kay by now. Jyn found Cassian’s smile from across the table and her stomach warmed at the sight. She tried to smile back at him but her heart was still broken from the eventful day. Apparently it showed on her face, because his eyebrows furrowed and he looked at her with concern, but she broke eye contact and focused on her burger instead. She couldn’t deal with his pity right then. Not when she didn’t deserve it.
Jyn paced around the tiny space in her shed, wanting to punch something, to throw something, to scream, or cry, or anything. But she just kept pacing. She was still trying to process what had happened to her this afternoon, what she had learned.
“Saw Gerrara is dead.”
Jyn’s whole body tensed up. Did she mishear? Saw had been on her mind lately, was she dreaming about him? Her heart pounded painfully in her chest and she felt a sickening weight plummet in her stomach.
“What did you say?”
“Saw Gerrara. He passed away. There was an accident, he was killed in his home. I’m so sorry Stardust, I know how much he meant to you. I just didn’t want you to hear it from the news.”
“Stop calling me that, after all this time you think you can just call me and call me ‘Stardust’ and everything would be alright?”
Galen sighed heavily on the other end of the phone, “No Jyn, I just wanted to give you the news and hear your voice. I’ll go now. I’m sorry.”
“Sorry isn’t enough, Papa.” Her own voice sounded fragile to her ears and she cursed her weakness, “But I appreciate you letting me know. I have to go.”
“It’s the last week of camp, right?”
“Yes it is.”
“Well have fun. I hope it’s as wonderful as you’ve always said.”
Jyn’s throat was thick with unshed tears, stunned by the thought that her father might have heard and understood when she talked about how much she loved Camp Endor. She wanted to ask so many questions, let out so many unsaid emotions, but she could only shake her head and whisper, “Thank you, Papa.”
She had been too afraid to look up what had happened to the criminal who had been her friend and mentor for so many years, but she assumed it had been something violent and tragic. She wondered what was going through his mind as he died, if he had ever thought of her once he had left her behind, if he regretted knowing her at all. All afternoon she had been dealing with the aftermath of rescuing Jaime from the pool, and she hadn’t let herself think about Saw or Galen at all until she was alone in her shed, her safe space.
Between learning of Saw’s death and her phone call with Galen that had left her feeling uneasy and somehow guilty, she had been too distracted to say anything to Cassian about coming to the shed again that night, but a knock at the door came and she smiled to herself. He had come, despite his abrupt departure at breakfast, despite her not returning his warm smile at dinner, he had come.
Cassian paced the trail south of the pool shed for several minutes trying to work up the nerve to knock. He knew Jyn was inside, he could see a faint light coming from inside that indicated that she had turned the fairy lights on. The lights they had hung up together. He knew in his head that she probably wouldn’t mind if he sat with her again tonight, but his heart was pounding against his ribs and his hands were clammy with sweat. His ran his hands through his hair again, cursing under his breath. Without giving himself a chance to chicken out, he squared his shoulders, went to the door, and knocked firmly.
Jyn came to the door, hair loose, feet bare, and smiling.
They stood in the doorframe smiling at each other stupidly for a moment until the spell was broken by someone calling their names from down the trail.
“Jyn! Cassian! Wait up!”
Cassian stifled a groan and an eye roll and turned to the rapidly approaching forms of Leia and Han, who were holding hands. Jyn sighed and looked up at Cassian through heavy, tired eyes. She looked almost haunted, and suddenly Cassian was sure that something besides the stressful rescue had happened that day.
“Jyn, you can tell us all to fuck off if you want to. It’s your shed.”
Jyn blinked and her shoulders relaxed, “It’s alright, I’m fine. The more the merrier, right?”
Cassian was sure she was lying but Han and Leia were right there, laughing breathlessly and he didn’t have a chance to ask her what had happened. When he looked down at Jyn again her face was shuttered and guarded again, a fake smile on her face as she greeted their friends.
“Erso, we heard that your little hideout had attracted some action and wanted to come see what the fuss was about.”
“Solo I swear if you were planning to use my couch-”
“We weren’t, he’s trying to rile you up.” Leia glared at her boyfriend, who shrugged and smirked. Cassian clenched a fist at his side, suddenly defensive over the shed and of Jyn. Who did Han think he was? A small hand rested at his elbow and he realized Jyn had grabbed him lightly, probably hoping to calm him down. It worked.
“Do you all want to come in then? There’s not a lot of room.” Jyn turned and went into the shed, beckoning the others to follow. Once the four of them were inside Cassian became painfully aware of how small the space was. Jyn offered the loveseat to Leia and Han then sat on the floor, her legs sprawled out and taking up nearly the entire space. She leaned on her hands, closed her eyes, and let her head fall back, exposing the soft, inviting skin of her neck. Cassian stood awkwardly by the open paddleboard door, staring at Jyn like a man in the desert looks at water until he was snapped out of it by Leia’s pointed cough. He shifted from foot to foot and shoved his hands in his pockets and avoided looking at Jyn, but he made the mistake of looking right at Leia, who had narrowed her eyes at him.
“Cassian, sit on the floor with Jyn, you’re making me anxious just standing there over us,” she said, her stare still fixed on him. He left the paddleboard out of place to open up the space a little bit and sat down cross-legged, trying to take up the least amount of room that he could, but Jyn’s outstretched feet still ended up flush against his knees.
“So this is where you come to hide from us, Erso?”
She rolled her eyes, “Yes Solo, when I need some peace and quiet this is usually where I go.”
“I think it’s nice,” Leia admonished Han, “So who do you think has been making out in here? How did you find out?”
“I caught them at it. But it’s not my business to share, so don’t ask me to reveal who it is.”
“I have some ideas.” Leia nodded at the door, which was wide open and visible through the open paddleboard entrance. Bodhi and Luke were looking in, red faced and embarrassed.
“Hello everyone,” Luke waved and smiled and grabbed his boyfriend’s arm as Bodhi tried to back up and run away.
“Hello brother,” Leia had a dangerous looking smile on her face, “Any chance you were going to tell me about this?”
“Not until we were sure about it and were ready to tell you,” Luke smiled back, his face an echo of his twin’s. Bodhi was looking frantically back and forth between Luke and Leia, but Luke’s hand gripped his tight and seemed to steady him.
“Well now that you’re here you might as well join us. We were just enjoying Jyn’s mysterious hideaway.”
Jyn snorted, “Barging in on my mysterious hideaway is more like it. Were you two coming in here to hook up again? I thought I told you not to.”
“You only said no naked asses on your couch,” Bodhi snarked, surprising Cassian into a laugh. Jyn shot him a look somewhere between scolding and laughing, which he returned.
“Alright, come on in.” Jyn shifted towards the far wall and tucked her legs in, nodding at Cassian to do the same. He nervously moved to join her, his back against the wall, his shoulder and arm flush against hers. Bodhi and Luke found spots on the floor, Luke leaning against Bodhi’s chest, the two of them fitting together like a puzzle piece. It made Cassian inexplicably sad to see their easy intimacy.
The six of them sat in the quiet for a while, enjoying the fairy lights and the sounds of the forest just outside. Leia cuddled into Han’s chest, the two of them sinking further into the worn out sofa, practically spooning. Bodhi played with Luke’s hair and whispered something into his ear which made the blonde man laugh and press a kiss into his cheek.
Cassian shifted a little closer to Jyn and whispered, “When did you find out about those two?” He nodded toward Bodhi and Luke, who were holding hands and looking at each other with tired eyes.
“Sunday night, when they were missing when we came back from the Cantina. I found them in here and they swore me to secrecy. I’m surprised no one suspected anything.”
“Good of you to keep the secret.”
Jyn tilted her face toward his and he stopped breathing for a moment, “It was the least I could do. I love them both too much to betray their trust.”
“We appreciate it, Jyn.” Luke chimed in.
“I don’t.” Leia pouted, which made everyone laugh.
They chatted aimlessly for a while as the night grew later and colder, but one by one they all started to drift off. Han fell asleep first, tugging Leia closer to him. She rolled her eyes in loving exasperation but kissed him lightly before snuggling into his embrace. Luke was the next to fall asleep, using Bodhi as a back rest he nuzzled his nose into the taller man’s shoulder and started snoring very softly.
To Cassian’s surprise, Jyn fell asleep next, letting her head drop to his shoulder. When she finally nodded off he was relieved to see the tension she had been carrying in her face all day melted away. He brushed a strand of hair out of her beautiful face, then heard a light cough from the other side of the room.
Bodhi was still awake, but the heaviness in his eyes told Cassian that he wouldn’t be much longer. He was looking at the two of them with his eyebrow raised. Cassian returned his gaze and nodded. Bodhi’s eyes softened as he looked down at the woman he considered his sister, and Cassian tried to say with his eyes that he had no intention of hurting her.
Even though her comments that morning about how nothing would ever happen between them had cut him deeply, he had come to terms with it. If she wanted nothing more than a friendship and a shoulder to sleep on, he could do that for her. He didn’t ever want to push her or scare her away. Bodhi seemed to understand that, because he nodded and leaned his head back against the wall, drifting off to sleep and leaving Cassian awake alone. He shifted slowly enough to not wake Jyn, freeing his trapped arm and putting it around her shoulders, moving her head to rest closer to his chest in a position that was more comfortable for the both of them. Only then did he rest his head on top of hers and allow himself to fall asleep as well.
Chapter 13: Thursday Morning
CHAPTER THIRTEEN: THURSDAY MORNING
If anyone on the senior staff had thoughts about why six of their number hadn’t returned to the staff cabins the night before, they chose to keep those thoughts to themselves. The staff table was quiet at breakfast on Thursday morning- Luke, Bodhi, Jyn, and Cassian were all suffering from terrible neck and back aches but wouldn’t explain why to the others. Jyn and Cassian were avoiding eye contact with each other, embarrassed to admit that they had been cuddling the night before, Jyn tucked neatly within Cassian’s warm, strong arms.
She blinked hard and rubbed her eyes, trying to rid her body of the bone-deep exhaustion that had settled in that morning, when a steaming mug of coffee was set in front of her. She looked up at Cassian, who was clutching his own, and the two smiled at each other. He really does have the most beautiful smile. She could feel her face flushing and turned her attention back to the coffee.
“Good morning, Camp Endor,” Chirrut had stood and was calling the room to attention, “As you know, the Astronomy campout is tonight. Don’t forget that if you’ve signed up for it, you need to have your tents and sleeping bags ready right after dinner. I highly suggest starting to pack your things and locate any missing items as your parents will be coming to pick you up on Saturday. Every program area has their own lost and found box, ask the senior staff for help finding everything that has gone missing. And please do that soon, don’t leave it until Saturday evening.
Does anyone have any other announcements?”
Leia stood up, “I have extended the deadline for talent show submissions to this evening at dinner. We only had a few people sign up for the show and I know for a fact that many of you are very talented. So please come see me today and sign up. Thank you!”
She sat down and flashed the whole staff table a look that Jyn understood all too well. She knew that none of the staff had signed up to showcase a talent and that Leia was very disappointed in them. She grimaced at Luke across the table and he rolled his eyes back. He had seen his twin sister in action too many times to be intimidated by her, but several other members of the senior staff were fidgeting under the weight of the tiny firecracker’s glare.
Baze dismissed the campers and called for the morning staff meeting, grumbling as he did every morning about the disorganization of the dirty breakfast trays.
“Pickup on Saturday starts at noon, you will all be assigned a cabin that needs to be checked out. You and a junior staff member of your choice will spend Saturday afternoon making sure the cabins are ready to be locked up for the season. Arrange that today, and come write it down in the office right before dinner. For any of you choosing not to return next year, please also include your recommendation for your replacement if you have one.”
Chirrut chimed in, “Of course you are all invited back to work next year, but we understand that the real world is calling many of you away. Please know that you will always have a place here with us. We’re a family, and we intend to remain as such.”
The whole table smiled around at each other and Jyn’s face grew hot. She was terrified of not having Camp Endor to return to the following summer, of not seeing her friends as often, of growing up and moving on. She pushed those feelings down, replacing them with a look of steely indifference, turning her heart into stone. She stared down at the table in front of her and refused to look up until Chirrut had dismissed them all.
“Jyn,” a soft voice snapped her out of it, “Can I talk to you? About the talent show?”
Luke hadn’t gotten up with the rest of the senior staff, he remained directly across from her and was looking at her with a mixture of nerves and hope. She sighed, “What about it? I don’t have a talent that can be displayed on a stage.”
“We both know that’s not true.”
She froze. Of all of her friends, Luke was the one who knew the most about her time with Saw, but that wasn’t saying much. He had trained in martial arts as a kid, first under a man named Yoda, and then under Baze and Chirrut in Jedha City. She had seen him at competitions, mostly in passing as they usually competed in vastly different fighting styles. But he was the only one of the whole group to have seen her in action, and judging by the look he was giving her across the staff table, that was the talent to which he was referring.
“No.” She shook her head violently.
“Please Jyn, Leia is up my ass about the show and keeps asking me to do a demonstration and I don’t want to do it alone. We could just spar for like, five minutes and she’d leave us both alone.”
“I know it’s a lot to ask and we might both be out of practice, but it could be really fun and kids always get a kick out of it.” He leaned forward, blue eyes wide and pleading.
“Will you at least think about it?”
“No.” Jyn’s hands were shaking, she was barely holding herself together, “The answer is no, Luke. It’s completely out of the question. Please stop asking.”
“Just say you’ll consider it.”
“NO!” She shouted, standing abruptly, loudly knocking over the bench she was sitting on, “Stop asking, I won’t do it. I’m done with that part of my life, can’t you get it through your thick skull? Drop it and leave me alone!”
She stormed out of the mess hall with her backpack thrown over her shoulder, leaving the bench on the ground and refusing to look back at Luke, whom she was sure had a look of shock and sadness on his beautiful face. She refused to feel guilty, though her stomach clenched with shame and fear. She brushed past Kay and Cassian, who had paused just outside the door to figure out what the shouting was about, and ignored them. She ignored the look of pity and concern on Cassian’s perfectly handsome face. She pushed it all down and away, hardening the stone of her heart even more.
Chapter 14: Thursday Afternoon
Hey friends, I'm writing as fast as I can but Friday's chapter might not go up in time, and I'm going away for the weekend for a bachelorette party so you might not get "Thursday Evening" until Sunday the 18th. But I'll do my best to get it out before I leave! Thanks as always for reading. <3
Jyn was on autopilot through most of the morning session, she assigned her junior staff to watch after the pool and dove into the mountain of papers that had accumulated over the summer and needed to be organized. Weeks of chemical level records, waivers the kids and parents had signed months ago, and the finished and graded lifeguard exams had piled up, so she took the time to sort them, letting the mindless busy work wash over her, calming her down. When she finished she sat in the shade for a moment, watching over everyone and slowly becoming ashamed over how she had spoken to Luke.
She was so lost in thought that she hadn’t noticed when the session ended, it was Vera who called the session to an end and sent everyone off to lunch. The kids clamored for the showers, the junior staff cleaned around the pool deck, and everyone went off to lunch, but Jyn still sat there, staring at the water, ignoring her growing hunger.
Her hands were shaking as she picked up her phone and without giving herself a chance to chicken out, she was dialing her father’s number and hitting send.
The phone only rang once before Galen answered, “Stardust?”
“It’s good to hear your voice, I wasn’t sure I’d hear it for some time.”
“I wasn’t sure either, but I need to ask you some questions.”
“Anything, my St- I mean…Jyn. Anything.”
Jyn blinked at his switch to her name, at his remembering that she asked him only the day before to stop using her childhood nickname, “What happened to Saw?”
There was a long silence on the other end of the phone, then Galen sighed, “I’m not sure you want to hear this.”
“I’m an adult, I can handle it.”
“He was killed when the police raided his house. There had been a report that he and his friends were building some kind of bomb to use in their protests against the government, so a team went in to apprehend them. There was a shootout. Many were injured on both sides. Saw was the only one who died. The police found the unfinished bomb on a table and have been parading it around as a sign of the might of the Imperial Police Force”
Galen’s words echoed around her skull, the word “bomb” repeating over and over as she struggled to make sense of all she was learning.
“I’m so sorry, Jyn. I know how much he meant to you.”
“He chose terrorism over all. The Cause before anyone. As much as I wanted to be part of his Cause back then, he was always so extreme.”
“I only wanted to protect you from such a fate, I never meant to drive you away.”
“I understand,” Jyn cleared her throat, “It’s taken me a long time, but I understand. I’m not sure if I’m ready to forgive and forget though. After Mama died-”
“After your mother died I was barely holding on. The only thing that kept me going every day was knowing that I was keeping you safe. When I learned that I hadn’t been doing that, I panicked. When I realized that everything with Saw had been going on under my nose, I felt as if I had betrayed Lyra and didn’t deserve to have you. I figured even if you hated me forever at least I could keep you safe once and for all.”
And he had, by driving Saw out of the city and letting Jyn get arrested for illegal fighting. They had taken her away in handcuffs on the day she had graduated high school, on the day she and her father had fought and screamed and said things they both regretted. She was released that night and was moved out of her father’s home by dawn. She was safe, but she was alone.
Suddenly, Cassian’s words from their conversation in the shed came back to her.
“I left my hatred of them behind.”
“I realized that they were only human. That if I could make mistakes and find things too big to be in my control, then so could they. It took a long time and a lot of mistakes, but eventually I found a place in my heart to forgive them.”
“I’m sorry Papa. What you did and what you didn’t do hurt a lot, but I think you were trying your best. I just…I missed Mama so much that I dove into fighting for Saw to drive the hurt away. Your hurt kept you from being there for me, and while I’m still so angry, I think I can understand. You made mistakes, but we all do.”
She could hear Galen’s breath quicken on the other end of the call and realized that he was crying, “You’re so smart, Stardust. Much smarter and better than I’ve ever been or will be. I want to be better for you. I want to do better by you.”
Jyn could feel her eyes start to well up with tears, but she pushed them down and away. She cleared her throat again, “So anyways, camp ends on Saturday. I’ll be back city-side on Sunday. Maybe we should grab lunch.”
“I’d like that very much. I didn’t know for sure you were still at camp when I called you earlier this week. I ran into your old camp director on Friday, the shorter one who always wear white.”
Jyn’s blood ran cold, “You ran into Krennic?”
“That was his name! I thought he was running the camp but I suppose he sold it? He’s doing government contract work with my lab right now, something about safety, but we talked for a while. He’s with the Imperial government I suppose, doing well for himself. Seemed very curious about how the camp was running. I told him I didn’t know, and he seemed to imply that he would be finding out soon.”
Jyn scrambled to her feet, “Papa, I have to go. This was a good talk, we’ll talk more on Sunday okay?”
“Sure Stardust, you have a nice time at camp. Give Leia and the others my best.”
“Yeah, yeah, I will. Bye!” She hung up the phone in a hurry and started packing her things up. She needed to talk to Chirrut and Baze, and quickly. Krennic was up to something, and she knew it couldn’t be good.
Chapter 15: Thursday Evening
I'm so sorry this is so late, but here it is, and it's got a treat for you at the end to make up for it! You'll get your regular updates this week. Thank you so much for sticking with me, and congrats to everyone on the Hugo Award!!!!!!!
“He’s going to try something.”
“I doubt that, little sister.”
“He’s the worst, and you have to be ready for him.”
Baze and Chirrut were staring at her from across the table, Chirrut with his cloudy eyes and peaceful smile, Baze with his hand indulgently on his husband’s. Jyn had been trying to explain why Galen running into Krennic was a bad idea, but other than “having a bad feeling about this” she didn’t have any proof that Krennic was up to anything.
“Just…don’t let him have his way. He was awful to us.”
Baze nodded and Chirrut’s smile fell.
“We know. We noticed. That’s why we’re here you know.” Chirrut’s voice was a little shaky, “When we came here last year we learned how he and that horrible Tarkin treated you all. The food quality and portion sizes, the abhorrent cleaning schedules, the inhumane sleeping arrangements for the campers. I could go on, but you remember it even better than I do.”
Jyn was fuming, but simply sighed and turned to leave, “I have to go turn the pool lights off so they don’t disturb Astronomy night. See you at breakfast.”
She stopped in the door, one hand on the frame, not looking back. Chirrut spoke softly.
“We won’t let anything happen to you.”
Cassian was freezing. He was leaning over the shallow pit that he and Kay had built in the middle of the north meadow, trying to get the fire started. He pulled his blue parka closer around his face and tried again, finally getting the sparks from the flint to catch on the wood and newspaper pyramid at the bottom of the pit. His students cheered and started setting up the dutch ovens. Cassian and Kay had hauled all of the ingredients for a dutch oven apple pie, enough for almost thirty campers to enjoy.
The sun was setting low over the tree line, casting beautiful orange and pink streaks across the sky. The chill was settling in, the wind was biting cold, whipping his hair around his face and stinging his eyes with the force of it.
He watched as Kay instructed the campers who had come for the astronomy campout on how to properly use a dutch oven for cooking on a fire. Kay was often rather robotic, but he had a passion for teaching, for passing on some of his immense database of knowledge to the next generation. He often said it was just to “ensure the kids these days aren’t complete morons like most of my generation” but Cassian could always tell, especially in these moments, that Kay was meant to teach. He sat back and warmed his hands over the fire, watching the survival class at work. He looked over his shoulder and saw Bodhi setting up the two scuffed and dented telescopes he used in his Astronomy classes. They were going to be tracking the planet Jupiter that night while sharing apple pies and sleeping in tents in the beautiful meadow. It was an idyllic night.
Hours later, with full bellies and bundled up in huge blankets, the campers, Cassian, and Kay listened to Bodhi talk about the planet and its many moons, showing the kids one at a time through the telescope. He sprinkled in some myths and legends about the gods and goddesses the constellations were named after, stopping to take questions and adjust the telescopes every once in a while. They had lowered the firelight and let their eyes adjust to the dark, and as the night grew later and colder, the campers were drifting off to their tents one by one to fall asleep. Soon Cassian, Bodhi and Kay were the only ones awake, charged with keeping an eye on the sleeping children in shifts.
Cassian volunteered for the first shift, so the other two went to take a quick nap before it was their turns. As soon as they disappeared into their respective tents, Cassian heard a rustling behind him.
“Who’s there?” He whispered, hand on his heavy flashlight at his hip.
Jyn stepped out of the bush and into the weak light of the dying fire, “If I was a bear or a robber, do you think a ‘Who’s there?’ would have been appropriate? I wouldn’t have answered, and you’d be dead. Some wilderness survivalist you are.” She was smiling and hiding something behind her back.
“I’ll forgive you for that slight upon my character if you show me what you’re hiding.” He nodded toward her hidden hands.
She grinned even wider and took one step closer, “Contraband,” she said, and pulled out two bottles of beer from her back pockets.
Cassian could have kissed her right then and there, “Oh thank god. Jyn, you’re a lifesaver.”
She sat down next to him by the fire and cracked open both bottles, passed him one, then tap the top of her bottle to the top of his, “Cheers, Cassian.”
They drank their first few sips in silence, enjoying the bitterness of the hops and the warmth that instantly spread through their limbs. Cassian was the first to speak.
“Where did these come from? It’s really good.”
“Where do you think? Smuggler extraordinaire, Han Solo himself.”
Cassian snorted, “Fair enough. I appreciate you bringing me one.”
“Not a problem, Han and Kes are in my shed right now drinking away Kes’ sorrows. I figured they could use some guy time, and you could use a beer.”
“Why is Kes upset?”
“He and Shara aren’t talking right now. She’s having some problems that she won’t tell Kes about and he’s feeling insecure. He snapped at her over dinner and she told him off.”
“Shara told him off? But they never fight. What’s wrong with her?”
“I can’t tell you, she shared it in confidence. But it’s pretty intense. They just need to talk it out, but you know how strong-willed they both are.”
Cassian nodded, then noticed Jyn shivering out of the corner of his eye.
“Here, take this.” He tried to hand her the blanket he had wrapped around his shoulders but she shook her head.
“I’m fine, don’t worry about me.”
“Of course I’m worried about you. It’s freezing out here and you’re shaking like the tiny leaf that you are.”
Cassian tried to throw it over her shoulder but she dodged it and laughed, “I’m not tiny, and I don’t want you to be cold either!”
“Fine, we can share.” He reached his arm around her shoulders with the blanket and covered them both at the same time. The blanket wasn’t quite big enough, but the two of them instinctively moved closer together so it could cover both of their shoulders. His arm remained across her upper back where he had stretched it to cover her, eventually his hand came to rest on her far shoulder and stayed there. He started to panic, thinking for sure she would push him away, but she didn’t. She seemed to get even closer to him.
They stayed like that in comfortable quiet for a long time, watching the dying fire and not daring to move for fear of breaking the spell. Eventually her head came to rest on the inside of his shoulder, his head rested on top of hers.
“This is nice,” she whispered, so low that Cassian thought that he had imagined it, but her shoulders stiffened under his arm as though she was gearing to run away. He pulled her in tighter, just a little, just to reassure her that it was okay to consider something like this “nice.” And it was, especially when she relaxed into his embrace and slipped a small arm loosely around his waist.
They sat like that, unmoving and relaxed in each other’s arms, until Bodhi woke up to take Cassian’s place watching over the small campsite. He winked at them as he waved toward the tents. Jyn made a point to step on Bodhi’s toe when she got to her feet, which only served to make her ‘brother’ laugh.
Cassian stopped outside the tent and grabbed Jyn by the wrist as she made to walk back to the shed, “You can stay here if you want.”
Jyn flinched, and Cassian stumbled over his apology, “I’m sorry, that’s not what I meant. I know how that sounded. I just meant that I have one of those double sleeping bags that’s really warm, it has to be more comfortable and warm than the shed tonight, especially if Han and Kes are already passed out on the couch.”
Jyn didn’t meet his eyes, but nodded and moved to the tent. It was a tiny tent fully dominated by the big sleeping bag and a couple of pillows. Awkwardly, Cassian took his parka off and kicked his shoes and socks to the corner. He hesitated before removing any more clothes, btu Jyn had already stripped down to a tshirt and her underwear and was climbing into the warmth of the sleeping bag. He took his jeans off and climbed in next to her in his tight boxer briefs and his tshirt, shivering in the cold air before the sleeping bag covered all of his bare skin.
They lay next to each other flat on their backs for a minute before Jyn rolled over and faced him on her side.
“You were right, this was a good idea.”
“I didn’t want to make you uncomfortable,” he rolled over on his side and face her, tucking his arm under his head to prop it up. Her huge, green eyes were wide and unblinking, staring right into his own. He couldn’t look away, he was drawn into her gaze.
“I’m not. Thank you. It’s been a really difficult day.”
“Do you want to talk about it?”
She shook her head, then lay back onto her back and shuffled a little closer to him. He instinctively put his arm back around her and pulled her tight to him, settling into a laying down version of their seat by the fire.
Her breathing started to slow and he yawned deeply, and as they started to drift off to sleep, Jyn tilted her face towards his and their lips met.
Her lips were cold and dry against his, he captured the full lower lip between his own, her breath came out in a gasp but her lips remained closed, the kiss remained chaste and gentle, their eyes remained open but heavy with sleep.
They broke away and breathed each other’s air for a moment. Then Jyn smiled shyly and lay back down on her back.
Next thing he knew it was morning, she was gone, and he wasn’t sure if it had been a dream or not.
Chapter 16: Friday Morning
Because the last chapter was so late and I finished this one early, instead of holding this one until Wednesday I'm publishing this as soon as it's finished! Thanks for reading and commenting. You're the wind beneath my wings.
Jyn was sprinting up the path toward the main part of camp in the dark, acutely aware that she was running out of time. She bypassed the mess hall and the main office and went straight for the little cabin house that Baze and Chirrut called home. She stumbled a little over her untied shoes, but she hadn’t had time to put them on properly. Her phone had buzzed incessantly and woken her up before sunrise, and as soon as she had read the messages she had rushed to her feet and out of the tent without saying goodbye to Cassian. She pushed him to the back of her mind, refusing to think about the kiss they had shared. There were more important things to worry about.
She reached the door of the directors’ cabin and pounded on it with her fist, “Chirrut! Baze! Wake up!”
She could hear grumbling and heavy feet stomping to the door, which flew open to reveal a disheveled and shirtless Baze, “What is it? Is someone hurt?”
“I just got a text from my father,” Jyn gasped out, “We’re about to get inspected. Krennic is coming.”
Breakfast was a rush event at the staff table. As soon as everyone had arrived, Chirrut had announced to the room that the government health and safety inspectors were on their way. He told the campers to make sure their cabins were swept out and tidy, and told the junior counselors to do inspections.
“Our camp is of course, very safe and very well taken care of, but we want to make sure we get the highest scores possible on this inspection. You’re all dismissed.”
The campers all scrambled to put their trays on the table by the kitchen and ran off to their cabins to start tidying up. Baze groaned at the sight of the dirty trays as he did every morning, but turned back to the senior staff.
“This is an unexpected turn of events, but we can do alright if we all just focus. You all remember Krennic, and you remember how he ran this camp. We’ve worked really hard to undo all the damage he did to the system, but we know he knows what to look for if he wants to have us shut down. Important things first- make sure your AEDs and other safety equipment are working and easily reached. If you need batteries they’re in the office. Amilyn, go down to the stables now and get them sparkling clean. I’ll make you’re your junior staff hurries down to help you, and I’ll try to hold off the inspection team as long as possible, I know you have the most work.”
Amilyn flipped her dyed lavender hair into a ponytail and nodded solemnly before racing out of the room.
Chirrut took over, “Bodhi, check the locks on the snake tanks. Cassian and Kay, knives need to go in the shed and the chain needs to be tight. Shara and Kes, any rope that needs to be replaced needs to be in a marked bin and safely away from the ropes that get used daily. And make sure your paperwork is up to date.”
“We’ve been keeping old ropes for art projects, but they’re marked off. We need to check all of our harnesses, can we go now?” Kes and Shara were already on their feet, jaws set and shoulders square.
“Yes, go.” Baze waved them off. Kes winced at the sound of the scraping bench and Jyn figure he was probably really hungover from drinking with Han the night before. Speaking of Han, his eyes were hard and focused as Jyn had never seen them before.
“My equipment is up to date and well logged, since gun and ammo laws are so strict. My area is inspection ready, so I can lend a hand to anyone who needs it.”
Baze nodded, “Then go to Amilyn, she’s closest to your program area. Help as long as you can before you have to report to your first session. Go.”
Han ran out the door, but before it could shut behind him it was grabbed from the outside. The whole room froze as a figure dressed all in white stepped through, removing a pair of gloves and glaring around the room with a sneer that one might give to dirt on the bottom of a shoe.
“Well, well, well, look at that horrible pile of dishes. Unsanitary, unsafe, and unacceptable. This inspection is going to go so well,” rang out the cheerful yet menacing voice of Orson Krennic. “Let’s get started.”
Chapter 17: Friday Afternoon
*hides* sorry about the drama
The day had not started well. Krennic had insisted on seeing the high-risk areas of the camp first, starting with the stables and the climbing wall. Luckily, Amilyn and her junior staff kept the horses very well cared for, but the inspection team was still able to find a couple of minor infractions. Kes and Shara were told off for keeping old equipment around even though it was only for display and fun and not used in actual climbing. That didn’t mean anything to the inspectors, of course.
The team that had arrived with Krennic was filled with stern, strict men with unwavering devotion to the law, and there were far more of them than was necessary for a “routine” inspection. They swept every inch of camp, documenting the smallest infractions, measuring everything from the width of the paths and the height of the bunk beds.
Jyn was ready for them. Her paperwork was displayed in a binder and fully up to date, her chemical levels were perfect, and the shed was locked up tight. But they didn’t arrive until late in the afternoon, right as the big event of the week was about to start- the Water Carnival.
She had been working all summer on the Water Carnival. The campers would be competing in cannonball and diving contests, a relay race, and even a belly flop competition. She had games in the shallow end for the weaker swimmers too, so everyone could be involved. She hadn’t counted on also being inspected during it all.
Krennic and a couple of his men strolled up the path towards the pool while she was briefing her junior staff. He was smiling, which had Jyn absolutely terrified. But she jutted her chin out, unlocked the side gate for him, and spoke quietly to her staff.
“Alright, stay focused, eyes on the pool, and don’t let them get to you. You don’t have to answer any questions, direct them to me if they bother you. The campers should be arriving any minute, make sure everyone showers off and stays in the shade as much as possible. We’re going to do great.”
She dismissed them to their battle stations and turned to meet Krennic head on. He let himself in the gate and went straight to her.
“Little Jyn Erso, it has been a long time.”
“Not long enough, really.”
He sneered at her, “Troublesome as ever, Miss Erso. What am I to do with you? Did you know that your gate is too easy to open from the outside? That’s going against you on the inspection.”
She gaped at him, “I left it unlocked for you! You saw me do it!”
“I saw no such thing. It’s dangerous to have an open gate like that so close to the pool. What if a kid got in and drowned?” His voice was filled with mock concern.
The pool deck was starting to fill with campers fresh from their pre-swimming showers, chattering and laughing, ready for the carnival to start.
“Fine, Mr. Krennic. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an event to run. You and your men are just going to have to wait until we’re finished.”
“No, I think we’ll go ahead and start now.” He waved over one of his assistants and took the clipboard from him, “I’ll start with the gate, and I’ll have to write you up for your water level being too low.”
Jyn spun around and looked at her pool. The water level looked fine. “What are you talking about?”
Krennic whipped out a ruler from his sleeve and bent over to stick it in the water, measuring the distance from the top of the water to the lip of the pool edge. Jyn didn’t see what the number said before Krennic removed the ruler and wiped it on the arm of one of his cronies, “An entire quarter of an inch too low, shame on you Jyn. I thought you knew better.”
“A quarter of an inch is nothing and you know that.”
“Too low is too low, you’re losing points fast. Now, I suggest you show us the rest of the pool before I start docking points for intentionally hiding evidence.”
Jyn waved to Vera, who hustled over. “I need you to get the carnival started.”
“Me?” Her dark eyes went wide, “Jyn, this is your thing. You’re in charge, and you’ve been working on it for weeks!”
“Yes you, I know you can handle it. You’ve got the lineup and the contestant list on the clipboard, you’ve got the megaphone, and you’re great with the kids. I know you can do it. Please.”
Vera nodded, then took the clipboard and read it over, “Yeah, I got this. You go make sure this place doesn’t get shut down.” She smiled and winked, then went to the crowd of kids who were starting to get restless.
Jyn turned back to Krennic, “Let’s get this over with.”
They found a few more spurious infractions around the pool before they were ready to leave. A hairline crack in one square of the cement around the pool was called a “tripping hazard” and a slightly dented guard tube was considered “defective.” Krennic’s team left to go record their findings, but Krennic lingered behind for a moment.
“I saw your father the other day, Jyn. He looked…well, he looked like hell. Still not talking to him I see?”
“Don’t you dare talk about my father.”
“I’ll do whatever I like, I’m sure you’ve realized that by now.” He stepped closer, so she had to tilt her head back to look him in the eye, “And I can continue to do whatever I want, especially after I acquire this land for Imperial use.”
Jyn froze, her heart in her throat. The cheering and laughing of the Water Carnival seemed so far away, all she could hear was the roaring of blood in her ears. “What did you say?”
“You heard me. This land has immense value to people much higher in the government than I, a fact which would have been much more useful to me when I owned the place. But no matter, when I take it from those softhearted idiots who bought it from me, I’ll be able to negotiate a finder’s fee with the land commission for almost ten times what I bought it for in the first place. Luckily, it will be easy to get a hold of when the health and safety division finds that the camp is condemnable.”
“You can’t do this, Krennic. People depend on this place.”
“People like you?” He smirked at her, “Criminals, low-lives, kids with deadbeat parents? No one cares about saving this camp. No one is on your side. I stand ready to make a huge fortune and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.”
“You’ll never win,” her voice wavered dangerously, but she stood her ground.
“I already have.” And with one final, dangerous smile, he left her alone to stare after him, hopeless and helpless.
Chapter 18: Friday Evening
Sorry this is late again, but as you can see, it's a doozy of a chapter! It's the longest chapter yet and involves some major emotional whiplash and some explicit sexual content.
If you don't want to read the sex scenes, you can read up until Jyn leaves the shed and then skip to the TLDR I'll leave in the notes at the bottom.
I'll be updating as soon as each chapter finishes until the end of the fic, hopefully wrapping up before the end of August. Thanks for reading, you're all the best.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
As soon as Jyn had finished draining hers, Han passed her another beer without a word.
The entire senior staff had somehow managed to cram themselves into the pool shed and were drinking Han’s smuggled beer in somber silence. Han, Leia, Bodhi, and Luke were on the couch, practically in each other’s laps. Cassian, Kay, and Amilyn were sitting on the floor in front of the couch leaning on their friends’ legs. Jyn, Shara and Kes had their backs to the wall facing the couch, Jyn was sitting between Shara and Kes, who were pointedly not speaking to each other. Shara had a full beer in her hand and was pretending to drink from it, a fact that only Jyn seemed to notice.
The silence was finally broken by Kes, who groaned, “Today was bullshit.”
Everyone nodded in agreement.
“I can’t believe he came back to torture us one last time. What an asshole.” Amilyn slammed back the end of her beer and reached back toward Han for another, “Didn’t he do enough when he was running this place?”
“Clearly he felt that he had some kind of unfinished business here,” Kay chimed in, surprising everyone by finishing his beer in one go, “Whatever his grudge, it looks like this is the end for us.”
“It was the end for most of us anyways, wasn’t it?” Han asked while handing Kay and Amilyn another bottle each, “I mean, how many of us were planning to come back next year?”
Amilyn waved her hand but didn’t seem committed to it. Luke and Leia both shrugged. Kes and Shara caught each other’s eye out of habit, but looked away quickly.
“See? Maybe it’s for the best.”
“How could you say that?” Leia demanded, “What about the kids? What about Chirrut and Baze?”
“I’m not saying I want the place to shut down,” Han said defensively, “I’m just saying that maybe it’s time for this old place to turn into something new. There are other camps and other jobs. Everyone will be alright.”
Leia huffed, but no one argued with Han. Jyn pulled her knees closer to her chest and breathed deep, trying not to get emotional.
The room was quiet for a moment, then Bodhi’s quiet voice filed the air, “Well, if it’s really over and gone, we have to make the most of it, right? We only have tonight and tomorrow, we all have to leave Sunday. So let’s make it fun. Get our last memories in before we’re done.” Everyone nodded, some even smiled.
“Leia, I have a talent for you. To put in your show.” Amilyn straighten up, then balanced her empty bottle on the top of her head. Then she went from sitting to standing, all while balancing the bottle and not dropping it. She got to her feet, spun in a little circle, then grabbed the bottle from her head and took a bow. The room erupted with laughter, applause, and cheers as she bowed again. Even Jyn had to crack a smile.
“Perfect! Make it a plain bottle without a beer logo and you’re in. The kids will love it.”
“I’ve got one too!” Han slurred a little, which made the room laugh again, “I’ll say the alphabet backwards.”
“You can’t say the alphabet backwards, Solo.” Kes shook his head, “And you definitely can’t do it now that you’re drunk.”
“Can too! Z-Y-X-W-V-U-T-S-R-Q-P-O-N-M-L-K-J-I-H-G-F-E-D-C-B-A!” He said it quickly and in a sing-song voice, startling everyone in the shed into laughing and clapping again.
“Okay, Han. If you can slow it down and make a little production out of it, I’ll let you perform that in the show. Hopefully the parents attending find it funny,” She typed a quick note into her phone, then looked up at Jyn, who froze. “Jyn, Luke said something the other night about asking you-”
“Oh. Are you sure?”
Luke jumped in, hastily, “I already asked her, Leia. She doesn’t want to.”
“Doesn’t want to what?” Kay asked.
“It’s nothing, drop it.” Jyn was starting to shake a little in her effort to remain calm.
“It would really help me a lot, Jyn. I need one really good act right before the finale and you and Luke would be perfect.”
“No Leia, it’s not a good idea.”
“What’s not a good idea?” Shara asked, leaning in, “What would you and Luke do?”
“I want them to do a little sparring, maybe something cool, like throws or spin kicks or whatever it is they used to do when they were both martial arts champions.”
“Jyn was a martial arts champion?” Kay asked, finishing yet another beer.
“You were, I remember seeing you once at one of Luke’s meets!” Leia insisted. Jyn’s face was getting hot, and Cassian was looking at her with concern.
Kes chimed in, “We’ve known Jyn all our lives, how could we not know this about her?”
“Leave her alone guys,” Bodhi said, “She doesn’t want to talk about it, it’s full of bad memories.”
Shara tilted her head to one side, “Why would it be full of bad memories though?” She nodded her head towards Luke, “You’ve always talked so highly of your days in training.”
“Well Jyn never had Yoda, Baze, or Chirrut to teach her. She had some guy named Saw- something.”
Jyn felt more than witnessed the look of recognition cross over all of the faces in the room. She clenched her fists tight and stared a hole into the ground.
“Saw? Like that terrorist guy who was killed this week? I saw the news about it.”
“Was he really your teacher, Jyn? Was he really building a bomb in his house?”
“Tell us about him! What was he like?”
“ENOUGH!” Jyn got violently to her feet, knocking over her half-empty beer bottle, “Enough. I don’t want to talk about Saw, I don’t want to talk about fighting, and I definitely don’t want to show off tricks that “look cool” in front of children, especially not when those tricks aren’t tricks, they’re actual fighting moves that have saved my fucking life more than once. You all need to learn to mind your fucking business!” And without another word, she stormed outside.
Cassian was on his feet as soon as Jyn slammed the door behind her, and he turned on his fellow staff members, who were all frozen with their mouths wide open.
“Nice going, everyone. You better head back to the cabins.” He grabbed a blanket from the back of the couch behind Han then ran after her.
It was dark outside of the safety of the shed, the moon a mere sliver in the sky. He strained his eyes to see where Jyn had gone, and caught her silhouette running across the north meadow where they had been camping the night before. Where they had kissed the night before.
He followed her, stumbling slightly over hidden rocks as he went. He finally caught up to her where she had stopped, a good distance away from the rest of the camp and out of sight of the pool and the shed. He could barely see her in the darkness, but he could see that she was crying.
He had never seen her cry. It tore his heart out of his chest to see her like that.
“Jyn, I’m so sorry.”
She sniffed and wiped her eyes, “I’m fine.”
“You’re obviously not fine. Why didn’t you say anything about Saw’s death?”
“Wouldn’t have made a difference. He’s dead. That’s all.”
“I could have helped.”
Jyn shook her head, “There’s no helping. He died. He died before I could get answers out of him, before I could yell at him for abandoning me after my father found out about my fighting, for not coming to me when I was arrested. He died before I could say goodbye, or thank him, or tell him to go fuck himself.”
“You were arrested?” Cassian blurted out before he could stop himself, “I mean, I’m sorry. You don’t have to talk about it.”
“I was arrested for illegal fighting.”
Cassian blinked, then without a word spread the blanket out on the ground and sat down, patting the blanket next to him. Jyn sighed, then sat.
“My father found out about Saw when I was sixteen and threatened to have him shut down. My father is a researcher for the government; he has a lot of connections. He could have done it. So the next day Saw and his group had moved on. Left town. I was devastated and so angry at my father. I didn’t fight for two years, but the night before my high school graduation I got a call from one of my former opponents. Told me he was looking to fight that night and would I like to earn a little extra cash. I didn’t even hesitate. I won, but my father caught me sneaking back in the house with a pocketful of money. He was furious, obviously, so we fought and the next day I was being arrested on suspicion of illegal fighting. I was released later that night but the damage was done. I packed up what I could carry and as much of the cash I had been able to hide away and left. And the worst part is that when I was able to make a phone call, I tried to call Saw. I tried to get him to come get me from the police station. But he wouldn’t come. He answered, heard my voice and where I was calling from, then hung up on me.”
She started crying again, so Cassian wrapped her in his arms, pulling her tight against him. She collapsed in his arms, going almost completely limp and sobbing. After a few moments she sniffed and tried to sit up, but Cassian held her tighter. She let out a long breath, then wrapped her arms around his waist and returned the embrace.
“I’m sorry for losing it.”
“Don’t apologize, Jyn. You needed to let it out. Have you ever told anyone about that?”
“Bodhi knows a little bit of it, I’ve ended up on his couch a couple times over the years. But no, no one knows about the arrest. And no one but Luke knew about Saw before tonight.”
“Luke shouldn’t have told everyone.”
“They would have found out eventually.”
They sat in silence for a long time, wrapped in each other’s arms, just breathing and looking out over the meadow. As Cassian’s eyes adjusted to the dark, he looked down at the woman in his arms and marveled at her strength through so much adversity. He recognized the drive in her, saw her fire as clear as he felt his own. She was a force of nature, powerful and blinding in her very existence. For all of her pain and suffering she was still there, still fighting, still teaching and caring and loving.
Then she looked up at him with her wide green eyes and he was lost. Her lips parted to allow her tongue to dart out and wet them and it was as if a dam had burst inside of him. He met her lips with his own and tugged her closer to him. She responded with a moan and climbed fully into his lap, wrapped her legs around his waist and thrust her hands into his hair. His hands wandered up her sides, pausing at the sides of her breasts before moving up to her hair, pulling it free of the bun she always had it in and weaving his fingers through the soft, silken weight of it.
She moaned again and ground down on his lap where he was rapidly hardening. He freed his hands of her hair and moved them back down to her breasts, which he cupped and squeezed as she rocked on top of him. Her hands moved to his shirt, she gripped at it and tried to pull it off over his head. With all the effort in his entire body, he stopped her by grabbing her hands.
“Are you sure, Jyn?”
“Yes, I’m sure. I’ve never been so sure of anything.”
With that, she pulled his shirt over his head and exposed his lean torso to her feasting eyes. She ran her hands over his chest, scraping her nails lightly through the sprinkling of hair on his chest and over his nipples, which were pebbled and sensitive in the cool night air. He hissed through his teeth and she smiled at him before capturing his lips again. He worked his hands up inside her shirt, where he was delighted to feel that she wasn’t wearing a bra. He pinched her nipples lightly and heard her cry out quietly and grind down even more on his lap. He pushed her shirt up to get a look at her perfect breasts. Small and shapely with rosey nipples that begged to be licked, which he gladly obliged. She pressed closer to him as he took a nipple between his teeth and worried it gently, then he pulled back just enough to blow cold air across it and she shivered with pleasure.
He flipped them over so she was beneath him and continued to kiss her with vigor while they worked at each other’s jeans. His hands fumbled with the button on hers for a moment and she got ahead of him, pushing his jeans and underwear both down his thighs and freeing him to her. She gripped him with a firm hand and he swore, pressing in toward her touch and closing his eyes in pleasure. He let her touch him for a couple of heartbeats, relishing in finally feeling her where he had been dreaming of her for so long. He came back to his senses then and made quick work of her jeans, pulling them and her underwear in turn entirely off of her body, exposing her to him.
He marveled at her beautiful body spread out beneath him. She was all muscle, her legs long and her stomach tight. Her shirt was still bunched under her arms so he pulled it over her head and she was as naked as he was. Her pale skin nearly glowed in the small amount of moonlight that lit their spot, and he drank her in.
“You’re so beautiful, Jyn.”
Her nose crinkled up with her smile and his heart leapt, “Cassian, I want you to touch me. I want to feel you. Please.”
He responded by lowering his head to her sex and licking a low, slow path up her, stopping to turn his head to the side to nip at her inner thigh, making her jump and squirm and cry out his name. He slipped a finger inside her sweet warmth and she bucked her hips up to meet his hand. He slipped in a second finger and used his other hand to rub circles around her clit with his thumb. She moaned his name, and his control was lost.
When he pulled his hands free she whimpered at the loss of contact but then he was over her, positioned at her entrance, and then he was entering her, stretching her, filling her, and they moaned in unison. She gripped his biceps and her eyes rolled back in her head and they were both lost. His hand made its way between them and rubbed at her again and together they moved and thrust and moaned until they were dripping sweat and falling over the edge together, wrapped in starlight, unspoken feelings on the tips of their tongues.
They lay next to each other breathing heavily for several minutes. The sweat cooled on their skin, making Cassian shiver and pull Jyn closer to him. She stiffened almost imperceptibly but Cassian noticed. He turned onto his side to get a good look at her and was horrified to see that she was staring at the sky, unblinking and not smiling.
“Jyn? What is it?”
“This was a mistake.”
A pit opened up in Cassian’s stomach, “A mistake? What are you talking about? Did you- did you not like it?”
“Of course I liked it, and that’s the problem. We can’t do this.” She sat up and started feeling around for her clothes. Cassian sat up slowly, staring at her.
“We can’t do this because… you liked it too much? I have to say Jyn, I’m pretty confused.”
“I can’t do it, Cassian. I can’t be with you. I’ve never done this with anyone before because I can’t let myself get attached to anyone. Bad enough that I’m attached to this camp and I’m never coming back, I’ll get attached to you and then you’ll leave just like everyone else and I can’t have that. Not with you.” She stood to pull her jeans on and slipped her shoes on without retying them. “I can’t, Cassian. I have to go.”
“Jyn, wait!” But she was running away, and by the time he had pulled his clothes back on she was long gone.
Jyn stormed into the quiet, empty shed and slammed the door behind her. She had messed it up. She had messed everything up. She had shouted at her friends, driven them away, thrown them out of her life, and now she had ruined things with Cassian, the only man-
No. She had to push him away. It was a mistake, just one tiny slip up. And after the weekend was over she never had to see any of them again, never had to think of them again, would never come to the camp again-
She picked up a box from the floor, the box that used to contain the fairy lights that now lit up the room, casting her and everything else in a warm, comforting glow. She could feel the heat of them, the oppressive warmth and joy contained in those lights, the memory of putting them up and with who-
She threw the box as hard as she could across the room, and it bounced uselessly against the wall. She grabbed a piece of plastic from a broken lane line from the far corner and threw it at full force toward a pile of junk, which fell with a huge clatter to the ground. She snatched the pillows from the old couch and hurled them toward another pile of junk and the satisfaction of watching everything tumble to the ground rejuvenated her. She started kicking old flippers around, the rubber bouncing off of other items long forgotten in the shed and knocking everything down. Kickboards and goggles and ring buoys and ropes and everything else got thrown from their careful piles. She grabbed the paddleboard that had been acting as her door and swung it with all her might at the wall, snapping it in half.
The deafening sound of cracking wood brought her back to herself. She looked around at her little shed, now a disaster. She couldn’t even see the couch for all of the junk. Her tears were dry on her face and the rage and shame out of her body. She felt nothing but numb, thought of nothing but sleep. She left the shed a disaster and walked away, choosing to go back to the staff cabin to her own bed.
Just one more day.
Just one more day.
TLDR: Cassian runs after Jyn, they get busy under the stars, she of course panics about feelings and abandonment issues, then trashes the shed in a fury.
I'm so sorry, I can't let you have nice things. Jyn is damaged and sad and these fools need to work on their happy ending. Not long now.
FUN FACT: I wrote out the alphabet backwards without looking it up or copying/pasting. I can do the alphabet backwards without even thinking about it and I wanted Han to show off like I always do.
Chapter 19: Saturday Morning
Coming up on the end here, wrapping up some loose ends and tying it all in a happy little bow! But not just yet. Thanks for reading, you're all the Mickey to my Minnie, the Tigger to my Winnie.
Chirrut and Baze were noticeably absent the next morning at breakfast. The mess hall was quiet but for the wind howling outside, the campers were fidgeting with nervous energy and most of the members of the staff table were avoiding each other’s eyes. Jyn sat at the far end of the table and shoveled food into her mouth, ignoring everything and everyone around her.
She had spent most of the night in her bunk staring at the underside of Leia’s bed, unable to sleep, turning her encounter with Cassian over and over in her mind.
She felt horrible about having run away, about pushing him away like she pushed everyone else away. He was such a kind, understanding, steadfast person, she should have been able to just talk to him, but after they had made love under the stars she had only thought about how vulnerable she had felt, how open and exposed. She had panicked remembering that camp was ending and she was probably never going to see him again.
And the thought of never seeing him again, never hearing his beautiful voice with its sexy accent purr her name, never seeing his deep brown eyes crinkle at the sides with laughter, never hearing about his childhood in Fest or about his life after his parents died, never seeing his face light up when he talked about something he was passionate about- those thoughts had crashed upon her when she was naked, bare, defenseless. And so she had run.
She dared a glance at him down as far from her at the table as he could be. His eyes were red with exhaustion, his hair messy and unwashed. She had done this to him. She had hurt him. But at least they couldn’t hurt each other any more. She had made sure of that.
The door to the mess hall slammed open with the wind and Chirrut and Baze made their way in, forcing the door closed behind them. The taller man brushed his bushy hair out of his face and adjusted his husband’s wind-swept clothes before turning to the hall with a huge smile on his face.
“We did it. We passed!”
After a moment, the tremendous news finally sunk in and the hall erupted into cheers, the loudest coming from the staff table. Han and Kes pounded their fists on the table and Leia whistled through her fingers with an ear-splitting screech. Jyn almost laughed when he saw Amilyn kiss Kay on the cheek, and did let out a snort when he made a face and wiped his face with his napkin. She caught Cassian’s eye across the table and sent him a small smile, which he returned briefly before turning away.
“I thought we were closed down for sure! Krennic was out for blood,” Shara squealed.
Kes nodded in agreement, “Yeah, I wonder what happened.” The two looked at each other then down and away. Jyn rolled her eyes, they both needed to get their acts together.
“Who cares what happened? What matters is this place will be around for another year. And I’m planning on coming back too.” Amilyn sat up proudly.
Luke and Leia both nodded in agreement, and Leia looked over at Jyn as if expecting her to agree. When Jyn shook her head, Leia frowned.
“Jyn, what-” but Luke lay a hand on her arm to stop her. Jyn mouthed the word “Later” at her friend.
“Alright, calm down everyone. Settle down, we have some very important information you need to get through the rest of the day.”
As Chirrut went over check out procedures and the timeline for the day with the campers, Jyn tuned him out. She had done this a million times, she didn’t need to hear it again. She was lost in thought, how had they managed to pass their inspection with Krennic hell-bent on ruining it? He had made it seem as if there was nothing they could do to pass, so certain of his win.
She was so lost in thought that she missed the dismissal of the campers, who ran off to pack their bags and tidy up their cabins. The staff table hadn’t moved, most still celebrating their big win against Krennic.
She sat there quietly staring at the table until a hand on hers startled her back to reality.
“Hey,” Shara whispered quietly, “I’m really sorry about last night. You seemed so upset, we shouldn’t have pried.”
“Thanks Shara. I’m alright. Just overwhelmed, you know?”
“I know. I’m still sorry.”
Jyn smiled at her beautiful friend, then whispered, “Why haven’t you talked to Kes yet?”
“I tried, but he got all upset because he thought I was dumping him. I’m angry with him for assuming the worst.”
“Told you he would react like that. You really need to just sit him down and make him listen to you. Sooner would be better.”
Shara nodded, “You’re right, as always. I’ll catch him right after breakfast. I’m just so nervous.”
“You’ll be alright. He loves you.”
Shara blushed and looked down the table where Kes and Han were high fiving again, “And I love him. More than anything. I’m ready to do this with him.”
Jyn smiled again. It was so nice to see two people meant for each other, even when they were sickeningly in love. She ignored the twinge in her heart that felt like Cassian and pushed it away, but couldn’t help that her eyes wandered to him again. To her surprise, he was whispering furiously with Kay, obviously angry or upset about something. She saw more than heard him say the words “Quiet, Kay” and he turned around in his seat and faced the back wall, ignoring his best friend. To her even bigger surprise, Kay looked right at her, glaring at her with heat in his eyes that she had never seen. She blinked a couple times before looking away. That was weird.
Baze cleared his throat and got their attention, and Chirrut said kindly, “This is it. This is the end of the line. We made it, somehow, and I know we wouldn’t have made it without you. We couldn’t have asked for a better staff team, thank you for everything.”
The table cheered again, and Chirrut’s eyes got a little misty, “And as much as we want to sit here and praise you all day, we have lots to do before you’re released back into the real world.”
He spent the next twenty or so minutes detailing the work that needed to be done before they could leave the next morning, then dismissed them to go to it. Cassian was first out the door, still upset with Kay. Jyn watched him go and her heart sank. She hated to see him upset. It’s part of why she had run off so fast the night before. She couldn’t bear to see his face.
Kes tried to run out next, but Shara beat him to the door and gripped his arm. She gave him a significant glance and the two of them walked off together, deep in conversation.
Leia and Han stayed in their seats, Leia was pouring over a folder full of papers and muttering to herself, and Han was draining his coffee. Jyn took a deep breath and approached them.
“Jyn! I was hoping to get to talk to you today. I’m so sorry about last night. I shouldn’t have bugged you so much about the show, after you said no I should have just let it go. I have a hard time with that, it has been pointed out to me,” she looked pointedly at Han, who flashed her his biggest smile, “And I need to start thinking about how my demands affect other people. So I’m sorry.”
“It’s actually fine, um… I really wanted to come over here and tell you that yes, I’ll be in your talent show. I’ll do the sparring with Luke, if that’s what you want.”
Leia’s mouth dropped open, “You mean it? You’ll do it? Oh, Jyn this means so much to me!” She got up from her seat and ran around the table to hug Jyn tightly, “If you’re sure, of course.”
“I’m sure. I thought about what Bodhi said, it’s really important to me to make sure I make the most of this last day.”
“So you’re really not coming back?”
“I’ve been offered a full time position coaching. I can’t take the summers off anymore.”
“Everyone is going to miss you.”
“The feeling is very mutual.” Jyn sniffed a little, then stepped away from the embrace, “Anyways, I have to go shut the pool down. I’ll talk to Luke at lunch about our plan. You let him know that I’m in, okay?”
“Perfect. Thank you Jyn. It means a lot, even more now that I know what it means to you. You’re a good friend.”
Jyn ducked her head as her face grew hot. She didn’t feel like a great friend, having yelled at everyone the night before. She slouched out of the mess hall and made her way to the pool when she heard her name being called from down the path.
She froze when she saw Kay approaching fast with murder in his eyes, “Hey Kay, what’s up?”
“Nothing is ‘up,’ unless you count my anger levels and adrenaline!” He met her in the middle of the path and jabbed a long, bony finger into the center of her chest, “What is wrong with you, Jyn?”
“Ow! What the hell? Nothing’s wrong with me!”
“There is something wrong with you if you feel like you can play games with Cassian’s heart and not hear about it from me!”
“What are you talking about? I didn’t play with-”
Jyn’s hands were getting sweaty. She obviously knew exactly what Kay was talking about, but how had he found out?
“Is Cassian telling everyone about what happened between us? Because I thought he was a better man than that.”
“He is a better man than that, than you, than me, than anyone! He did not have to tell me anything, I figured it out on my own when he came in late last night, obviously upset after running after you. So you just tell him you are sorry and leave him alone forever, is that it?”
“That was my plan, Kay. I’m leaving and he’ll never have to put up with my shit ever again.”
“Well it’s time to rethink that plan because it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the two of you are well-suited for each other and interested in one another.”
Jyn’s jaw dropped, “What- what are you- the fuck are you on about?”
He sighed, obviously annoyed, “As frustrating as the idea is, the two of you clearly have some level of emotional and sexual compatibility. The signs have been there for so long that I have become weary of them. Looks across the table, how often he talks about you, how you respond to his attentions. You and he exhibit the same signs of mutual attraction and while I find it rather dull and derivative, it is obviously important to him. You are obviously important to him. And he is my best friend. So stop upsetting him.”
With that final remark, Kay spun on his heel and walked with long, sloping strides back toward his own program area, leaving Jyn alone in the middle of the path amongst the trees, bewildered and confused. What was that?
Chapter 20: Saturday Afternoon
Almost there! This is the penultimate full chapter, and chapter 22 will be an epilogue. Thanks for following me on this journey. Chapter 21 will be up on Friday.
The parents started to arrive around noon, when the whole camp was gathered for lunch. The first ones to trickle in were the parents of the youngest children, the ones who were away for their very first time. Jyn always loved watching the parents reunite with their kids, especially when they couldn’t stop themselves from hugging and kissing them in front of all their friends, making them squirm and whine. The sight of such open affection from a parent to a child hurt to see, but she watched every time, opening the wounds in her chest and imagining what it must be like to be greeted by her father like that. Jaime Garza’s father was among the first to arrive, and when Jyn saw him she shot to her feet and made her way over to him.
“Mr. Garza, good afternoon.”
“You must be the lifeguard.”
She looked down at the whistle around her neck and smiled, “I sure am. Jaime had kind of a rough week, but he’s a real tough little guy.”
“Thanks for looking after him. My partner had to nearly restrain me from coming up here when you called us. They told me to let him enjoy his last few days. It’s stressful, being a parent.”
“I’m sure. But we had the whole thing handled, right buddy?” She ruffled Jaime’s hair and he blushed.
The Garzas chose not to stay for the talent show, choosing to go home and relax instead. Jyn didn’t blame them. She turned back toward the staff table and caught Cassian staring at her, but she couldn’t read the look on his face. Their eyes met for a moment before he looked away, deliberately turning his focus to Leia. The two of them talked in whispers and leaned in close to each other, and Jyn struggled to tamp down her rising jealousy. She didn’t own him, he could talk to anyone. She sighed and sat back down to finish her lunch. She still had a lot of work to do. She turned in her seat and addressed Luke.
“So, about tonight.”
After lunch she went back to the pool, which was very slowly draining into the meadow. The camp was occasionally used for events during the off season, but the pool was drained at the end of every summer so it didn’t collect algae or freeze over before camp started up again the next year. She spent the afternoon deliberately ignoring the pool shed and the mess inside it, focusing instead on sweeping out and locking the changing rooms and giving the whole pool cover a big wipe down. She collected the remaining lost and found items into a box to bring to dinner and sorted her paperwork for the next senior staff member in charge of the pool, whomever it may be. She was supposed to nominate her successor, but she hadn’t wanted to think about how she wasn’t going to be around the following year. But now that she had to think about it, she realized that she only had one choice. She needed to talk to Vera.
Vera had been her right hand all summer long, pulling extra guard shifts and staying late to help clean up when Jyn would let her. And she had run the Water Carnival all by herself while Jyn dealt with Krennic. She was the perfect choice. Jyn smiled sadly, and though she didn’t want to leave, she knew she’d be leaving the place in very capable hands.
When her area was all tidied up for the season, Jyn decided to make her way to dinner early. She locked the gate behind her and made her way to the office one last time to drop off her keys.
The office was empty when she arrived. She hung up her keys and looked around, drinking it all in. The walls were covered in pictures taken over the course of the summer, with her favorite picture right in the middle, already framed. It was a full staff photo in front of the mess hall on the first day of camp, taken with Baze’s phone propped up in the branch of a tree.
It was crooked, and Han (who had been setting up the picture to take on a timer) had his back to the camera as he ran back to the group, but his head was turned to look over his shoulder and he was laughing. Kes and Shara had their arms around each other, Shara’s head was thrown back in laughter and Kes was smiling and looking right at her with obvious adoration. Leia and Luke sat in front of the group, Leia with her hand outstretched for Han and Luke already smiling sweetly at the camera. Bodhi stood to the left a little separate from the group, but his shy smile showed how much he was enjoying being there. Chirrut and Baze sat in chairs in the middle of the group, with Amilyn, Jyn, Cassian, and Kay behind them. Kay’s arms were crossed over his chest, obviously annoyed to be there, and Amilyn was brushing something off of Baze’s shoulders.
Jyn stepped closer until her nose was practically pressed to the glass of the frame and looked at herself. Picture-her was smiling and laughing at Han, but her shoulders were turned slightly toward Cassian, as if her body was drawn to his by a magnet. She remembered this day well, she remembered thinking about how much she had missed everyone, but how especially glad she was to see Cassian. She hadn’t put much thought into it, but she had truly missed him between camp seasons. And there he was, not laughing but smirking slightly, and looking straight into the camera. Jyn could almost feel his stare across time and space, the heat of it, the warmth and love that he gave to those he cared about. The trust he so rarely bestowed on anyone but that she was lucky to have.
She wasn’t sure anymore. And her heart ached with the weight of not knowing.
She was brought out of her thoughts with the sound of the door opening behind her and she spun around to greet who she assumed was Baze and Chirrut, but it wasn’t them. The man who entered the office was tall, thin, and dressed in black from head to toe, and the sight of him made Jyn’s heart stop.
Cassian had gone from his cleaned and locked program area right to the pool. He needed to talk to Jyn, mostly to apologize for Kay. His best friend had told him about confronting Jyn after breakfast and Cassian was mortified. He wanted to say that he was sorry, that they could still be friends, that he was crazy about her. He wanted her to know everything.
But by the time he reached the pool, she was gone. She had locked everything up, turned off the lights, and left the pool to drain. He swore under his breath but decided to check the shed, just in case. It was locked up tight but he peered in through the crack of the door and into the small room within.
It was dark in there, but what he could see was ruined. All of the carefully stacked things that made the shed a perfect hiding place were scattered all over the ground. He could hardly see the loveseat for all the junk. He caught sight of the paddleboard cracked clean down the middle, the two pieces holding on to each other by a handful of splinters. It looked like a tornado had gone through.
He stepped back in horror. Did Jyn do this? Did she destroy her own sanctuary? It could only have been her, but why would she do such a thing?
Now he really needed to talk to her.
“Papa, what are you doing here?”
“I needed to see you. I’ve missed you so much.”
Jyn hesitated, wrapping her arms around her middle and willing herself not to cry, “It’s been a long time.”
“I know, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
The wall that was holding back all of her emotions came crumbling down and she crossed the room to bury her face in her father’s chest and wrap her arms around his middle. He looked so much older than she remembered, his hair long and streaked with gray, but his arms were still strong and warm and held her close with a crushing weight, and he pressed fervent kisses to the top of her head. Father and daughter stood in the center of the room crying in each other’s arms for what felt like hours.
When Jyn finally pulled back she asked, “Why are you here? You haven’t come to pick me up at camp since I was eleven.”
“I figured it was time to change that. Our talks this week gave me hope that you would be more open to seeing me. And you sounded so worried about Krennic that I did a little investigating. Why didn’t you tell me that the man was pure evil?”
Jyn laughed, “It wouldn’t have made much of a difference, he’s just like that. He was trying to shut us down, he planned to acquire the land for government use and make a ton of money off of it.”
Galen nodded, and a small smile crossed his face, “I found out what he was up to, pulled a few strings. It sounded like you were scared of him and I couldn’t have him putting you in danger. Anyways while I was doing my research, someone may or may not have tipped off the land commission that Krennic was on a fool’s mission, that the land this camp is one was barren and useless.”
Jyn’s jaw dropped and she stared at her father in awe, “Did you really? And you got him to drop his plan and leave us alone?”
“I didn’t say that. It was an anonymous tip.” His smile grew wider, “That anonymous tip may or may not have also included accusations of corruption and bribery. We probably won’t be hearing from him for a long time.”
Jyn’s eyes welled up again and she hugged her father once more, “I don’t know what to say.”
“You don’t need to say anything, Stardust. I did it for you and for all these kids who have nowhere else to go. I know what this place means to you. I might have been absent through most of your teenage years but I could never have forgotten this.”
I can’t begin to tell you what this means to me, Papa. Thank you.”
“No need to thank me. Let’s just…let’s just not shut each other out again. Okay?”
Cassian saw Jyn at dinner, but she wasn’t sitting with the rest of the staff. She was off at a table in the corner with an older man with long, grey-brown hair. They were leaned in close to each other and whispering, occasionally Jyn would thrown her head back in laughter. He was about to ask Luke or Leia if they knew who the man was, but then the man threw his head back in laughter and it hit him.
Jyn’s father. There was no one else it could be.
Now that he knew who he was, Cassian felt like a fool for not noticing before. He only needed to look at the old man’s eyes. Those were Jyn’s eyes. That was Jyn’s face. She looked so much like him but softer, her face rounder. He figured she must look a lot like her mother as well. The smile on Jyn’s face lit up the room, and Cassian’s heart ached. She was happy, and he wasn’t the one making her happy. Maybe he would never be the one to make her happy. Maybe it was a mistake after all. A mistake that he would be dreaming of for years to come, but a mistake nonetheless. He was nearly resigned to casting her out of his mind entirely when she looked at him. Their eyes met and his heart throbbed in his chest, his stomach swooped, and she smiled, the corners of her full lips turning up in such a way that all thoughts of forgetting her were banished from his mind. He was a goner.
Jyn said goodbye to her father after dinner. He was going to go home to Coruscant before it got too dark to drive safely, but they made plans for the following week to get dinner and catch up. After one last long, lingering hug, she waved him off and turned back to the mess hall to help clean up before the talent show that night.
Kes and Shara were waiting for her in the doorway, holding hands and beaming.
“So if I had to guess, I’d say you two finally talked.”
“We did, and we’ve both been so stupid all week,” Shara had the decency to look ashamed, but Kes was smiling too hard and the effect was ruined, “You’ve always looked out for us, and this was no different. We’re sorry for putting you in the middle of this.”
She turned to her boyfriend, then nudged him when he didn’t say anything. He cleared his throat and said, “Yeah Erso, sorry. Thanks for listening and being there.”
Jyn smiled, “I’m happy for you. What’s the plan then?”
“We’re keeping the baby. We’ve got a doctor’s appointment first thing Monday.”
“Good for you. You’re going to be amazing parents.” Jyn caught sight of Cassian over their shoulders and her heart leapt into her throat, “Guys, I have to go.”
They turned around and saw who she was looking at, and Shara smirked, “If I could give you some advice Jyn? Take your own advice. Talk to him. Please. I’m begging you. You’re driving us insane.” Kes laughed and nodded along, and Jyn punched him in the shoulder as she crossed the room and made her way toward Cassian.
She was almost to him when Leia called her name from the other side of the room, “Jyn! Come here, I need you.”
She sighed, and Cassian looked over at her. His dark hair was falling in his eyes like it always did, and she had the sudden urge to brush it away so she could see more of his lovely face. His sharp jaw twitched with an effort not to smile at her but the effect was the same, she felt a swooping sensation in her gut like a ton of butterflies were trapped inside.
She was a goner.
She looked over her shoulder to see Leia waving at her frantically, then turned back to Cassian. He nodded at her then tilted his head toward their stressed out friend. “Later,” he said, just loud enough for her to hear, “I need to talk to you.” She nodded back then went over to Leia to figure out what she needed. She could hardly wait for later that night, but they had a talent show to get through first.
Chapter 21: Saturday Evening
WOW. This was a tough one to write. I think my brain didn't want this story to come to an end. But that's it! Just the epilogue to go. Thank you all so much for coming on this journey with me. Finishing this story and completing this challenge was so important and so difficult and your comments have made everything easier. Thanks y'all. Find me on twitter @alicewhitethp or tumblr @literally2literary
If you don't want to read smut, you can skip to the epilogue after the line "I really hoped you would say that."
Cassian thought for sure his ears were bleeding. He had never heard so many out of tune singers in one place in his entire life, not even at a drunken karaoke night in a college town. But that’s what happens when you let children sign themselves up for a talent show.
A seemingly endless parade of young teenagers singing their favorite pop hits was mercifully broken up by the occasional staff talent and unique kid. Amilyn showed off her bottle balancing skills, Han sang the alphabet backwards (Cassian would swear the adults in the room laughed and clapped harder than any of the kids), and Leia sang a sweet and funny song that was complete with callback lines to get the audience involved. A shy, quiet kid showed off a painting he had done in Luke’s studio that summer and got a standing ovation. Little Ellen Morgan with her perpetually filthy face did a dance that was not quite tap and not quite ballet but somewhere in the middle. It was bizarre and adorable and Cassian cheered loudest for her. One of the older boys showed off some rope and lasso tricks that had Amilyn proudly in tears.
Then finally it was his turn. He hadn’t told anyone but Leia that he had planned to perform at the show, it was meant as a surprise. He wasn’t much of a singer, but he had inherited his love of the guitar from his mother, and it was time to share it with everyone he knew and loved in the room.
He ignored the cat calls from Han and Kes and focused entirely on Jyn. Her mouth was open, her full lips parted in surprise. He sat on a stool in the middle of the makeshift stage at the back of the mess hall and started to tune the guitar he was borrowing from Leia’s music room. As he tuned, he spoke, struggling to find the words but settling on something he meant from the heart.
“My mamá started to teach me to play when I was too small to hold a guitar. I’ve been playing ever since. Back in Fest, we didn’t have a lot, but we had music, and that’s what I want to share with you all. As you go back into the world outside of this camp, you might not have everything you’ve ever wanted. But you will always have this summer.”
And he started to play.
From the first note, Jyn was in tears.
Cassian played so beautifully, her heart ached to hear every note. He didn’t sing, he only plucked and strummed at the strings as if they were connected directly to his heart. He closed his eyes and poured himself into the music, and he didn’t’ need words and lyrics to convey the message of the song.
It was a love song.
It was a song about love and loss and heartbreak and tenderness. It was vulnerable, open, and sweet. Jyn looked around and saw every face in the room enraptured by the sweet music floating through the air. Everyone was affected by Cassian’s song, but only she knew the truth, or what she desperately hoped was the truth.
The song was for her.
She wasn’t ready for him to stop, but stop he did. One last chord sang through the hall and Jyn sniffed loudly, trying to hold her tears back. The sound of her sniff made him open his eyes, and as the room rang with applause and cheers, his eyes never left hers. He bored into her soul and she let him in. They smiled at each other, then he took his bow and returned to his seat, several seats away from hers.
Leia was back on her feet, still clapping for Cassian, “Wow, that was amazing. Thank you Cassian for that amazing song. Now, it’s time for the final act of the night.” She looked at Jyn, a question in her eyes. Jyn was touched that her friend was still giving her an out even at the last possible minute. She nodded, and Leia smiled and continued, “The last performance we have for you tonight is a very special treat, and it’s more than just a performance. Two of the members of our senior staff are former martial arts champions, and they have very graciously agreed to show us some of their award-winning, death defying moves. Please give a warm welcome to Luke and Jyn!”
There was a huge roar of applause and Jyn got to her feet, nervous but calm. Though it had been a while since she had fought anyone, her muscle memory knew exactly what to do. She and Luke had only had a few minutes during lunch to map out their plan, but it was a good one.
Luke beamed out at the crowd, his handsome face glowing under the makeshift stage lights they had rigged up. Jyn went to pull the mats out from the back storage room where they had been stashed earlier in the day while Luke spoke to the crowd. He put his hands in the air to quiet everyone, then addressed them in a loud, confident voice, “Thank you all for coming tonight! We’re so glad that you decided to stay and help us round out the summer with some music and laughter. How about we give it up for your lovely host this evening, my talented sister Leia!” He let the applause die down before speaking again, “Before we say goodbye, Jyn and I have a little demonstration for you. We’re going to show you some moves that are dangerous and advanced. DO NOT try these at home, especially not on your siblings. If you want to learn about how to do these moves, tell your parents you want to be enrolled in martial arts classes where they’ll teach you to do them safely. Jyn, are you ready?”
She nodded, then they took their fighting stances.
Cassian had never seen anything like it. He had seen people fight before (you don’t grow up in an uprising without seeing your fair share of violence) but he had never seen anyone move as fast as Luke and Jyn. Jyn swung a right hook at Luke’s face, Luke ducked low and swept a leg at Jyn’s feet. Jyn leapt over Luke’s leg sweep, landed on one foot and aimed a high kick toward Luke’s face. Luke was able to step back and recover, and he flashed a smile, clearly enjoying himself. Every time Cassian thought that one of them would have the advantage, the other would pull some stunt to turn it around. At one point, Luke got his hands on Jyn’s shoulders and Cassian almost laughed at the look on her face. She was grinning as she flipped Luke right over her head. He landed on his back and flipped up to his feet without hesitating.
It was like watching a magic trick unfold in front of him. For several minutes the two fighters swung at each other, ducking and dodging kicks and punches while the crowd got into it with shouts and cheers. As they were wrapping it up, both covered in a sheen of sweat, Luke did a backflip with no preamble and landed on his feet and even Jyn had to step back and clap for him.
Cassian was entranced by the look on Jyn’s face, as if she had come alive right there on that mat. The focus, the intensity, the skill. She was brilliant. And everyone could see it.
They took their bows and everyone was on their feet, cheering and applauding. Cassian was smiling, proud of Jyn and the courage it took for her to show this side of her to everyone. He looked around at his fellow counselors, all of whom were on their feet celebrating their friends. Shara and Leia were jumping up and down with their arms around each other, screaming. Kes and Han were on their knees bowing down in reverence while Amilyn laughed along. Even Kay looked impressed, and that was a hard feat to accomplish.
Jyn’s face was flushed with the exertion and she was breathing heavily, but she looked happy and Cassian realized that was all he wanted.
The party was raging in the staff cabins, fueled by Han’s contraband alcohol and Bodhi’s powerful wireless speaker blasting his latest mix. It was the last night of camp for the summer, and for most of them for forever. But Jyn had ducked out and ran back to the main part of camp early in the night, when everyone was too distracted to notice. She had unfinished business up there.
The shed was pitch black when she walked in, and she had to scramble around for a while until she found the outlet where the lights plugged into. Luckily, they hadn’t been torn down in her tirade against the room, and though the rest of the room was in disarray, the lights still hung around the room and cast the space in a warm glow.
She sighed looking around the shed. The evidence of her tantrum the night before was scattered around, the love seat covered in trash and the broken paddleboard took up most of the floor. It broke her heart to see the space that had given her so much comfort and joy in such a state, even though she knew it was her own fault. Her own inability to process her emotions properly. And the emotions that had gotten her out of control were ones that she was still scared to confront, but after the eventful day and the beautiful song Cassian had sang to her and the sight of his perfect smile across the room, she was ready to confront those emotions.
Well, she hoped she was ready.
She knew that she was ready to let go of the camp, as much as it scared her. She knew she was ready to pass along the keys and the pool and the shed to the next counselor, who she hoped would be Vera. And she would start by fixing the damage she had done.
It took her a long time to tidy the shed up and return it to its former glory. The paddleboard was broken but she was able to use the two halves to prop up some other junk and make a nice wall. It didn’t have a second door anymore, but maybe that was for the best. The space was more open, more spacious for more people to enjoy, and could be easily seen from the front door. Maybe the shed would be better served as a space for everyone to enjoy, instead of being hogged by one lonely person.
She stood and admired her work, and the door to the shed opened behind her. She whirled around and was terrified and relieved to see the one person she wanted to see was standing there, all gold and shadows in the light of the decorations they had hung together.
The silence was deafening. All she could hear was her own heartbeat pounding in her ears. He stood still in the doorframe, intense dark eyes boring into hers, and her hands grew clammy.
They stood in silence a little bit longer, and then both started talking at the same time.
“I’m so sorry Cassian.”
“Jyn, I need to say something.”
An awkward silence, then Cassian laughed, “You first?”
Jyn smiled, “I fucked up. I ran away, and I didn’t want to. I panicked. I’m so afraid of losing you, of losing everything, that I left.” She took a deep breath, “It’s just all happening so fast and all at once.”
Cassian chuckled, “Yeah, we probably went a little fast. To tell you the truth, I was coming in here to tell you that I was sorry too. I’m sorry if I pushed you, if you felt pressured or scared or stressed. All I want is for you to be happy. And ideally, I’d like to be the person that makes you happy.”
“You do. I mean…um…you do make me happy. Last night was-” she broke off with a smile.
“And the speed doesn’t exactly have to be a problem. I mean, I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. I was overwhelmed, but I want this. You.”
“I really hoped you would say that.”
They grinned stupidly at each other for a moment, then Cassian couldn’t take it any longer. He crossed the room in three easy strides and pulled Jyn in for a kiss, gripping the back of her head with one hand, the other arm wrapped tightly around her waist. She immediately melted into his embrace, her hands gripped his arms tightly, feeling the strength and passion there. Warmth flooded her body as he plundered her mouth with his tongue, and she fought back with her own desire and hunger. Within moments, they were tearing at each other’s clothes, desperate to touch more bare skin. Jyn pushed Cassian toward the couch, climbing on top of him and straddling his hips, pressing down on his growing erection and groaning at the feel of him.
This was right, this was perfect. She looked down and saw that she was still wearing his hoodie, having put it on after her display with Luke. She laughed and tugged it over her head before sealing her lips over his again, relishing in the feeling of his hands skimming over her ribs and thumbing at her sensitive nipples. She tugged at his hair and tilted his head back so she had access to his throat, where she nipped and licked until he was bucking up at her, desperate for more contact. She got to her feet and slipped her jeans off and stood before him, completely bare and open.
“Jyn, I don’t want you to run away again.”
“I won’t,” she undid his jeans, releasing him to her touch, and she straddled him again, “I’m yours now.”
She sank down onto him, moaning as he filled her completely. Cassian kissed her everywhere he could reach and gripped her hips with his hands. She rocked back and forth and let the feeling of his hands and lips carry her higher and higher.
“God, you feel so good, Jyn. So good.”
His husky voice echoed in her ears and sent a thrill down her spine.
“Cassian, I’m gonna- Please!”
“I’ve got you, let go, Jyn.”
She cried out and came around him, his name on her lips, and he bucked up into her hard, finding his own release deep inside her.
And as they curled up on the couch after, spooned together instead of feet to head like they had been earlier in the week, Jyn knew she should be worried. About the future, about her relationship with Cassian, about her new job, about not coming back to camp, about all of it. But for the first time in a long time, she let herself drift off to sleep with hope in her heart that everything was going to be alright.
Chapter 22: One Year (Ish) Later
*cries* this is it
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“No, no, no! You have got to be kidding me. You know I can’t let you bring a baby in the bar.”
“C’mon Chewie, he’s only two months old. He’s not going to do anything or cause any trouble.”
“Last time you were in here you dropped a full glass of beer and broke it, can I trust you not to repeat that night?”
“Absolutely. Cross my heart.”
Chewie growled and grumbled under his breath but nodded, and Kes and Shara relaxed. Kes had their baby strapped to his chest, and the tiny dark haired boy was sleeping peacefully. He and Shara grabbed their usual table and Chewie brought over two pitchers of lager and ten glasses as if no time had passed.
The door to The Cantina swung open and Han and Leia walked in hand in hand. Leia squealed when she caught sight of her old friends and ran over to them, embracing Shara first, then Kes carefully, then leaning down to say hello to the baby with a gentle kiss on the forehead.
“Look at him! Shara, he’s getting so big!”
“I know, time’s going way too fast. I can’t believe it’s summer again.”
The two couples sat around the table and poured their beers, toasting to the start of another summer.
“I can’t believe you’d start toasting without the rest of us.”
Amilyn grabbed a seat at the table next to Leia, planting a big kiss on her cheek and brushing her green hair over her shoulders.
“The green looks great, Amilyn!”
“Thanks, but I miss the purple. I think that might be my signature shade from now on. How’s everyone? How’s the kid?”
“He’s good, he naps like a champion. How’s camp?”
“The horses are good, but it’s not the same without you lot.” She took a big swig of the beer Han poured for her and sighed, “It’s just me and Kay left, but we have fun. Or, as much fun as Kay can have.”
“I can have plenty of fun, Amilyn Holdo, and you know it. It’s not my problem that you don’t find fun things fun.” Kay said with an eye roll as he approached from the front door, “And you’re of course welcome for the ride here. I’ll park the car on my own I suppose.”
“Math isn’t fun, Kay, I won’t say it again.”
The whole table laughed, even Kay cracked a small smile.
“Kay, where’s Cassian? He’s never late for anything.”
“You say that, but now that’s he’s with a certain Miss Erso, they’re always late to everything. It’s frustrating.”
“Speak of the devil,” Kes nodded at the door.
The whole table turned. Bodhi was holding the door open for Luke, who kissed him gently in thanks. Luke was followed by Jyn and Cassian, who were bickering good-naturedly about something.
“Don’t ask,” Bodhi said, “They’ve been like this the whole drive up from Coruscant.”
“What are they-” Han was cut off by Jyn’s loud laugh piercing the air.
“I don’t care what you say, Cassian Jeron Andor. You’re a dangerous driver.”
“I’m dangerous? Why do you think no one lets you drive anymore? You’ll end up killing us all!”
Jyn scoffed, “I’m an excellent driver.”
“Nope, you’re a death trap.”
“Just because you drive like a grandma does not mean-”
Bodhi interrupted, “Okay! Enough! You’re both terrible! That’s why Luke and I volunteer to drive you two everywhere we go.”
Everyone laughed at the matching pouts on Cassian and Jyn’s faces, but they got over it quickly. They greeted everyone at the table with hugs and a kiss for the baby then sat down and accepted apology beers poured by Bodhi.
“Good, now that you’re all here, Kes and I have an announcement to make.” Shara got to her feet and smiled at everyone before pulling her left hand from behind her back and showing off the beautiful ring on the fourth finger.
Leia shrieked and Han groaned and everyone gave their congratulations.
“Kes, you’re setting a very dangerous precedent.”
“Give it a shot, Solo. You might like it.”
Leia patted his arm, “You don’t have to propose yet. I’m a very patient woman.”
Luke snorted with laughter and coughed something that sounded like “Yeah right,” which caused everyone else to laugh along. Jyn snuggled tightly into the booth, tucked safely beneath Cassian’s arm, in exactly the same seats they had been in during their last week of camp the year before. They didn’t bring up the plain silver ring on Jyn’s finger, or their new apartment big enough for the two of them and maybe a cat. They let their friends enjoy their spotlight and took their turns holding baby Poe and bathed in the warmth and comfort of being with the people they loved most. It hadn’t been an easy year, but they were happy and strong and built on a foundation of friendship and hope. They listened as their friends recalled stories from their years at camp and reminisced about old times. Jyn had tuned everyone out, focusing on Cassian’s smile, when she heard her name and tuned back into the conversation.
“Remember when Jyn was strapped to the backboard and they set her up at the nature center?” Bodhi snorted into his beer, laughing as hard as Jyn had ever seen.
“Oh yeah,” said Han, “I told her staff that Jyn had pulled that prank on her senior counselor back in the day. I was glad they were able to pull it off.”
“YOU DID WHAT?”
THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH! I completed the challenge within the timeframe and had a blast doing it. I've never had a fic get so much attention and I can't express enough how much all of your comments and kudos mean to me. I'm touched beyond words. I'm glad so many people liked my stupid cheesy AU and my stupid cheesy writing. You're all the best.