For the second time in as many days Cassian watches the horizon disappear in a cloud of impending death and this time he is pretty sure this is it. Jyn’s hand closes on his, fingers digging into his palm and he reaches to draw her in closer, to stop the shaking of his hands by holding on to her, when there’s a blast of air from behind them.
“Come on,” she tells him, her hand pulling him up now, a sharp pain on his side when he forces his feet to move for just a moment more.
They won’t make it, but that’s not a reason not to try, he’s learned.
They make it somehow. He passes out seconds after they do, sure he’s falling into oblivion for the last time.
Jyn’s hand is in his.
“The hyperdrive’s done for,” someone is saying. It takes him a moment. Bodhi, his voice rough, breathing harsh, like he’s forming words around something stuck in his throat. “We can limp our way out, but I don’t know what we’re limping towards.”
“Home,” Jyn says firmly. She means Yavin IV, he realises belatedly, something unfurling in his chest.
“We won’t make it there,” he says, startling them both. Startling himself, his voice harsh like he hasn’t spoken in weeks, throat parched. “I know a place,” he adds and Bodhi nods as Jyn’s face softens.
“I thought you might.”
Salda’s unimpressed with their appearance, clicking her tongue in disapproval once she lowers the weapon. He banked on her hating the Empire more than she dislikes him personally, however, and he hasn’t lost a gamble like this yet.
“The less I know, the better,” she says first thing. Well, second thing, after pronouncing his name threateningly and uttering something he’s sure is a curse in a language he’s not familiar with. “I have some rations and some bacta patches, this might tie you over.”
He knows what she’s not saying - the next few hours are going to be critical for Bodhi, who flew the ship held up by two pieces of wire and some hope while slowly bleeding out and not saying a word about it. He isn’t faring all that well either, he can feel the broken ribs and the pulsing pain in his shoulder, but he’ll live. Probably.
Jyn’s in the best shape out of the three of them, scrapes and bruises and two broken fingers, mild concussion at worst. Cassian holds Bodhi’s gaze when Salda’s running the diagnostics and he can see the same relief, the same determination there. If Jyn is the only one to pull through then that’s enough, that’s enough for Bodhi to repay whatever debt he thinks he owes Galen Erso and it’s enough for Cassian to… well, it won’t begin to pay off the debts he has, but it is still the only thing that seems to matter.
He feels selfish in this, and he has felt like a lot of things before but never selfish.
There’s an echo of a prayer rattling in his head, Chirrut’s voice, and he finds himself mouthing the words as he falls into restless sleep.
“There’s a mechanic in the town who won’t ask questions,” Salda tells them in the morning, changing Bodhi’s bandages. Jyn is scarfing down the rations like she’s just remembered she hasn’t eaten in days and Cassian feels a smile push its way onto his lips, a little jagged at the edges but impossible to hold back.
“Thank you,” he tells Salda earnestly and she holds his gaze for a long moment before she nods and turns her gaze to Jyn.
“Send me a message once you reach your base. I’ll have things to send over.”
Jyn nods, clearly aware of what’s going on. They must have talked during the night, Salda holds herself more easily, something like a smile in the corner of her mouth. Cassian isn’t as surprised as he probably should, not when it comes to the woman who told him two days ago she didn’t believe in the Rebellion and then transformed into one of its brightest leaders in front of his eyes.
“She really doesn’t like you,” Jyn stage whispers when Salda is talking to Bodhi about the repairs necessary on the ship. It’s not a question, and she grants him the easy way out of a lie of omission, but he’s done lying to her.
“I got her wife killed,” he tells her flatly, turning the piece of a crumbling food ration in his fingers. It tastes like pressed ashes despite the promised nutritious value.
Jyn moves swiftly, as quick as he saw her move with the baton, and he almost flinches from her touch. Her fingers are cold on his neck, pressing lightly as she lowers her forehead to his, their breaths shared for the moment.
The comfort is almost too much to bear but he doesn’t dare to move away from the touch, not until she pulls away, what feels like hours later, with a ghost of a touch over the bruise on his jaw.
She makes her way across the room and reaches her arm down to Bodhi, pulling him up carefully. “Come on, big brother, let’s get home.”
The surprise melting into delight on Bodhi’s face is a sight to see.
For the first few seconds he’s pretty sure the Yavin IV base is under attack, with the chaos around them as they land, with people running and ships taking off, but as it turns out, the crucial point is not yet.
The Death Star is gone.
The Imperial fleet will be coming for them, it’s imperative the Alliance moves base while the Imperials are still making sense of what the kriff just happened, but the Death Star is gone.
“Captain Andor,” Dodonna is the one to greet them on the tarmac, nod to the mechanics who start buzzing around the shuttle. “Jyn,” he adds, a hitch in his voice as he grasps Jyn’s shoulder. “Thank you. And forgive me for not saying it earlier, but I am truly sorry about your father,” he offers, just a little stilted.
Jyn’s jaw twitches as she clearly holds back her first response, nodding solemnly before she settles on “thank you, general. He’d be proud of what we’ve accomplished, I’m sure,” she adds graciously.
She leans back a little when she speaks, shoulders straight as her arm brushes against Cassian’s. His mouth is dry when he thinks of the words he hasn’t said to her but should have.
“Are we moving somewhere?” Jyn goes on to ask and Dodonna offers a heavy sigh.
“Hoth, I’m afraid. Great place to hide, terrible place to be. Captain Andor, Draven will want a briefing when you have a moment,” he adds, slapping his shoulder right over the bruise there as he moves away distractedly, nodding at them all.
“Well,” Jyn says, turning to look at him. “I don’t have anything to pack, really, so…”
“I’m sorry,” he tells her, world stumbling out unbidden. “At Eadu…”
That’s all he manages to get out before she’s shaking her head. “I know. You don’t need to-”
The words press against his lips anyway, and he moves unthinkingly, closing the distance between them, his lips catching hers. Her fingers dig into his arm, fingernails leaving crescent marks, her breath hitching. It’s a terrible first kiss and he’s pretty sure she tastes the blood from the cut on his lip, but he pulls her closer anyway.
“Right. I don’t have anything to pack but I’m going to look for something,” Bodhi tells them. “Or you know, find a medic.”
Jyn’s laughing when she pulls away and that’s the first time he’s seen that, he’s utterly transfixed. There’s an itch in his fingers that only subsides when she laces them with hers.
Two days after they arrive on Hoth he’s approached by two of the X-Wing pilots in the canteen. Cassian has missed the medals ceremony but he knows damn well who Skywalker is, and raises his eyebrow when the man salutes him.
It’s Antilles who speaks, however, with a nod at Jyn and Bodhi as they slide down onto the bench at their table.
“We’re putting together the new squadron roster,” he says without preamble and Cassian can’t even guess where this is going, because when has any X-wing pilot ever consult the intelligence.
Trick question, don’t answer that.
“Alright?” he ventures flatly and Jyn digs her fingers into his thigh, but she’s clearly holding back a smile.
“We wanted to run the name by you,” Skywalker offers, leaning in a little. “Rogue Squadron,” he says, the rise in his voice turning it into a question.
He doesn’t have to look at Jyn to know she’s smiling, but he does nod to Bodhi, who looks a little shell-shocked. “You’d have to ask our pilot.”
Turns out he has a bit of a cache with Draven now, and the man doesn’t even blink when Cassian requests a change in assignments. He’s probably seen this coming.
He would feel a bit guilty for being selfish, but it does utilise his skills set and it is a high priority mission.
“Course for the refugees camp set,” Jyn tells him as she buckles up into the co-pilot seat. “You’re gonna have to double check it, however, still not my forte. We need Bodhi back.”
“The moment he is to one hundred percent,” he assures her as he goes over the pre-flight check. “Don’t worry, you’re good.”
“Good,” she nods back and he can’t help but smile as he settles in.