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“You do realize how foolish this is, don’t you?” Leia asked, hips canted, her arms folded across her chest. Her hair was pulled into a ponytail that Jyn couldn’t help but envy for the ease of its care and creation. She’d seen Leia throw her hair up on a number of occasions now and almost couldn’t fathom adopting a hairstyle that took less than ten minutes and fewer than that many pins to keep into place. Her ever-present, otherwise pristine white jacket was marred by a streak of engine oil across the pocket, like she’d reached in and forgot to wipe her hands off. How it had remained so free of dirt otherwise, Jyn couldn’t say. She’d visited enough Rebel bases to know that wearing white was a disaster waiting to happen. Or maybe it was that for Jyn alone, who stopped wearing white after the first time she’d found the hem of her dress discolored by mud.

Still, the dirtiest adventure on a Rebel base left her feeling less grimy than stepping foot inside the Imperial Senate chambers when it was in session. That was something at least. Swallowing, Jyn nodded and answered Leia’s question, “Everything we do is foolish. Yet we do it anyway because it must be done.” A little breathless, she added, “The Empire cannot win.”

Leia snorted and shook her head. “Save it for the troops, Princess. You don’t have to pander to me. I know what we’re doing is one-in-a-million.”

“I—” Jyn hated that every tutor in rhetoric, debate, and diction she’d ever had couldn’t save her from never having the right words for Leia. Nothing Jyn said eased her spirit; nothing she said consoled or soothed or inspired. It didn’t seem fair that what she could accomplish for others—the one thing she could, given how restricted her participation in the action was—couldn’t help her, too. “I’m sorry it has to be this way. I wish I could go in your stead.”

Sniffing, Leia lifted her hand to shield her eyes from Yavin’s bright, hot sun. She looked often out onto the lush, green jungle that surrounded the Massassi Temple, an expression of longing on her face. Jyn hadn’t yet found the courage to ask her what she sought. And soon it might well be too late. “I’m sure your father would be happy with that.”

“My father knows the price of war,” Jyn insisted. The Organas had adopted her after the death of her parents while she was still a small child. Long ago, she’d realized how lucky she was, and when she thought about what little she knew of Leia’s childhood, she knew even better her fortune, but the burden was high, too. They were devoted to the cause of the Rebellion and so, in turn, was she. “He would let me do whatever had to be done.”

He would not like it. He wouldn’t want her to do it. But he wouldn’t stop her. He wouldn’t tell her no. He couldn’t anyway. She was as obstinate as her mother and as eloquent as her father. If he were to forbid her from doing something, she might well have done it anyway. If he were to forbid her, she might well have talked him around.

Leia quirked a bitter smile her way. Regret tinged it, turned it dull where it could have been full and brilliant and beautiful. “You need someone who can—” She wiggled her fingers and Jyn felt a caress on her cheek that wasn’t caused by a breeze. There were so few people in the galaxy who had Leia’s skills. How they’d found her… Leia might think they had a one-in-a-million shot, but Jyn was sure she undersold it. Or maybe it was the Force interceding on their behalves. Chirrut thought so and Jyn wanted to believe, but… “—and anyway, you’re going to be the one with a target on her back soon enough. There’s no one better suited to smuggling these damned plans to where they’ll do the most good.

“No one expects figureheads to risk their lives the way you're going to.”

Jyn’s lips pursed together. She hated that idea and how true it was. She hadn’t set out to become the perfect embodiment of hope everyone expected her to be, not when she started out. Back then, she helped get supplies and ships turned over to the Rebellion right out from beneath snide, Imperial noses. But since that time about the only person who saw past what she’d since turned into—excluding Mon Mothma, maybe, who was still perfectly willing to exploit it even so—was Leia. Leia, whom she had known for such a short time. And Leia, whom she’d grown to care a great deal for in that too-short time.

She hoped she could repay all that bravery that had passed her by since she’d learned she’d become too ‘valuable’ to risk.

Eyes prickling, she drew in a deep breath, willed herself to put her thoughts of Leia aside. They were distractions at best and, in this situation, pointless. What was Jyn to do? Tell her how she felt? Pull her aside and kiss her? Ask her not to go? Ask her to go despite her feelings?

She’d already done the last, though Leia wasn’t aware of it.

Leia, who despite her prickly demeanor carried a grace and determination within her that would have served her well in whatever venture she set out to pursue. The fact that she’d scraped by until now on little more than odd, dubiously legal jobs was a crueler twist of fate than Jyn cared to consider.

“Leia,” she said, tasting the name, committing the shape of it to memory, watching the curious way Leia stared at her as she spoke. There was so much Jyn wanted. Perhaps Leia could feel it and perhaps Jyn was merely embarrassing herself. Leia could turn the head of just about anyone interested in human women and had, so full of vivacity and anger and life. None of them could help being drawn to her. And Jyn… Jyn only brought unnecessary complications to the table. The Rebellion’s mouthpiece dabbling with the troops? It would cause a scandal.

“Princess.” Leia’s voice was hard-edged, no-nonsense, like she knew where Jyn’s mind had gone and she thought it was a bad idea, too. Sighing, she brushed a few stray hairs from her face. Her face screwed up a little, undecided on how it should settle. “Jyn.”

And what Jyn wouldn’t have given to hear Leia say her name again and say her name always.

Leia’s eyes lost their focus for a moment and resettled it somewhere over Jyn’s shoulder. When she turned to look, too, she saw Captain Andor leaning against the open hatch of the shuttle he, Leia, and the others will be taking, one arm lifting to acknowledge their attention. Grim determination twisted the corners of his mouth and Jyn got the very distinct impression that he wasn’t in the mood for delays. Or maybe that he was as nervous as everyone else and just wanted it over with one way or the other. Either were understandable.

“I guess this is it.” Leia stamped her feet in the hard-packed dirt, grass and weeds and the beginnings of vines already sprouting green from it despite the Rebellion’s effort to keep at least this section of the jungle clear for transports. Her head tilted back as she peered up at the uppermost point of the Massassi structure. “It’s been interesting, I’ll say that much.”

“It has,” Jyn allowed, as gracious as she could allow given how deeply she felt their separation already. But she couldn’t—it was selfish to…

Leia took a step toward the shuttle and paused, searching Jyn’s face. Whatever she saw was enough—or was confirmation of something at least—because she inclined her head. “See you, Princess.”

Wait. Don’t go.

Leia made it halfway to her destination before Jyn spoke again. “Leia,” she called, hoping only a fraction of what she wanted to say spilled from her lips. You know how to hold your tongue, Jyn Organa. Don’t burden her with this.

Leia turned back to face her, expectant.

“May the Force be with you.”

“Let’s hope.” Grinning, Leia saluted, jaunty, as she walked backward toward the hangar. “Whatever happens, we won’t fail.”

“I know you won’t. That was never in doubt.” It was impossible, what they were doing, and Jyn didn’t have any illusions about their chances except for the biggest one of all: Leia would do it. Cassian and Baze and Saw and Chirrut and Bodhi and even K-2SO… they would do it. It didn’t matter that Leia might have undersold their chances. An oddsmaker could set the likelihood of success at five-hundred billion to one and it wouldn’t make a difference. They would do it.

I just worry about the cost.