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Sand rough on her cheek and Cassian embraced and embracing her, Jyn looks to the disappearing horizon and thinks, The Force is with me, I am one with the Force. The Force is with me, I am one with the Force. The Force is strong with me, I am–

*

Jyn wakes up in her Wobani prison cell, panting and a scream dying in her throat. She startles to sitting, her breathing too loud, her blood rushing in her ears, the air suffocating her, everything–

Everything goes silent.

A drop of water hits cloth.

She turns. On her pathetic excuse for a pillow is a dark patch from a single drop of water. Had she not moved, it would have fallen on her forehead.

She remembers wiping it off her forehead…

She dreamt wiping it off her forehead.

It happens often enough, there is no significance.

She was trained out of night terrors when she was a child. Memory fragments, those still slip through. This… This was…

It doesn’t matter. She forces herself to have it not matter.

*

The transport to the farms is bumpy as it always is. The Imperial Army has better things to invest in than transport tanks, and Jyn feels every lurch in the chafing of shackles against her wrists. Another day, this is just another day.

The transport stops.

Jyn has a bad feeling about this.

The door blasts open.

Three Rebel soldiers make their way into the transport.

Jyn stares as one of them makes his way to her. When he asks – he asks again – if she wants to get out of here, she nods. She watches as he moves towards her shackles. She had a small window of time to attack him and the two others. The Imperial droid had been a surprise, but she could avoid him this time, ducking down lower and running the opposite direction. Her shackles fall off. Does she fight her way out? Again? Or does she go quietly this time?

She goes quietly.

*

Yavin 4 is as humid as it been in her dream. Her vision. Her precognition. Her… she doesn’t know what it is.

“A chance for you to make a fresh start,” Mon Mothma proclaims.

It makes Jyn’s breath catch in her throat. Are you doing this? she wonders. She nearly asks, too. She needs to know who is doing this – needs to ask them to stop. Her heart aches too much. The accusation of who she is, of who she is daughtered to, they’ve stung just as much the second time around. Perhaps more, now, for Cassian is being introduced, and he has his arms crossed as he stares down at her.

Jyn meets his stare. You died in my arms, she thinks, and the ache worsens.

“When was the last time you were in contact with your father?” he asks.

Her father died in her arms what feels like scarcely a day ago. She wants to deny everything that’s happened, everything that could happen, but the weight of him in her lap, the feather press of his fingers against her cheek, it’s too real. It’s…

“It’s just a simple question,” he says.

She swallows, and says through grit teeth, “I fled our home in Lah'mu when I was a child.”

“Any idea what he’s been up to all that time?”

I like to think he’s dead, she had said last time, and at that – at that she snaps, pushing herself out of the chair. She needs to get out of here. This isn’t her fight, this has never been her fight, the Alliance has only brought her–

Cassian blocks her escape attempt, deflects her hits, and shoves her back down into the chair.

Her heart is racing. Too many eyes on her. No backup plan, no backup potential. “He’s with the Imperial Army,” she says, and it’s hollow.

He’s with the Imperial Army, has been since she was a child, has been secretly trying to find a way to sabotage the weapon he was made to design.

He’s with the Imperial Army, at a base on Eadu.

He’s with the Imperial Army…

… and he’s still alive.

And maybe Jyn was given this second chance to save him. She focuses herself. To get to Eadu, she needs to be taken to Jedha. She needs to give Cassian a reason to take her there. A deep breath in, then out, and she looks up at Cassian, then dutifully recites her line about the luxury of political opinions.

The shade of concern and compassion fade from Cassian’s face, and he asks about Saw Gerrera. Cold and impersonal, he follows the script of his previous interrogation beat for beat.

Beat for beat, along with the beat of her heart, the scene plays out, until they’re on the U-Wing and K-2SO is asking why Jyn gets a blaster and he doesn’t.

Jyn knows how to use it, and that’s what Cassian is afraid of.

Trust goes both ways, she thinks. And maybe this time she should act like it. She moves slowly, twirling the blaster so the handle is extended to Cassian. “Jedha is a war-zone. I want this back when we land.”

*

It’s not until they’re in the press of the city does Cassian slide the blaster into her hand, saying, “Please don’t kill me.”

“I’m not going to dignify that with a reply,” she says. She needs to stay the person Cassian expects her to be. And more than that, Jedha was bustling last time, but last time it was a threat – now, this time, it’s a bustle of bodies that are to be corpses in the next few hours, and it presses against her differently.

It distracts her, and Cassian is distrustful as he leaves for his contact.

“The Force is with me, I am one with the Force.”

Sand rough against her cheek–

“The Force is with me, I am one with the Force.”

Heat lashes against her skin and it’s too bright to see–

“The Force is with me, I am…”

She is going to die, and she’s done what she could, but had she done enough – she hadn’t, she knows she hadn’t – death is approaching and she wants to scream–

“That is a very pretty necklace.”

Jyn turns to Chirrut, heart pounding. How does he know she’s wearing a necklace? He hadn’t answered last time – offered her the answer for a price, but Cassian had whisked her away. Her throat is raw, and she doesn’t know if she can speak.

“Would you trade that necklace for a glimpse into your future?”

Cold seeps down her spine despite the late afternoon heat. “Are you doing this?” she asks, scarcely a whisper.

“That is not the question you asked last time.”

She’s over to him in three long strides, garnering Baze’s suspicion.

Chirrut waves him off.

“Are you doing this?” she repeats, and it’s a hiss this time. Adrenaline is coursing through her body, she’s afraid and she doesn’t know why. “Why?” she asks.

Chirrut doesn’t reply, only strums his fingers along his cane. He’s waiting.

Why?” she repeats.

There’s a warm humor to his smile. “That is not the question you should be asking.”

What question, what question– Her body goes cold. “What do you know of kyber crystals?”

His smile widens, and he nods.

“Jyn!”

She startles at her name, whirling on her heel.

Cassian is waiting. “Come on,” he says, voice low. He takes three strides to her, and wraps his hand around her elbow, starting down the street. “We’re not here to make friends.”

She digs her heels in. “I need to–” She cuts herself off at his stare.

“We don’t have time for tourism, or pilgrims. Jyn, this place is about to blow, we need to get out of here.”

Jyn needs to know what Chirrut knows. But there’s no way to tell Cassian this, and he’s right, any minute the grenades will start raining down. There’s a young girl who may die if Jyn doesn’t return her to her mother.

She goes with Cassian.

Chirrut will find her.

*

“Let them pass in peace!”

Jyn is more relieved to see him than she had been last time. And far less worried for his safety.

“I fear nothing,” he declares, “for all is as the Force wills it.”

Jyn is hyper-aware of the kyber crystal against her skin. She had disregarded his words before, but as Chirrut takes down the unit of Stormtroopers, she wonders, Is this the Force’s will?

Baze arrives, finishes off the second wave of Stormtroopers.

This time it’s Cassian who asks, disbelieving, if Chirrut is a Jedi.

Jyn wants to yell at him to be quiet, she doesn’t have time for Baze to dismiss Chirrut as a dreamer, she needs to talk to Chirrut before–

Saw’s rebels surround them.

*

Jyn spends the journey to Saw’s hideout preparing herself. Not for a confrontation honed by so many years of daydreams. She had not seen him die, but she had seen the warp of the land and known he was dead. The sixteen year old inside her is still so angry at him, and is at war with the overwhelming relief of seeing him alive, him being alive.

Her first thought had been that she could save her father – perhaps she can save Saw too.

Jyn is alone in a room for six seconds before she hears the metallic clank of his approach.

She turns to face him.

Tears water in her eyes.

“Is it really you?” he asks. “I don’t believe it…”

Neither does Jyn. Not really.

He frowns at her quiet. “Are we not still friends?”

It draws an ugly laugh out of her, and she shakes her head. “Whatever we were, Saw, we were never friends.” She straightens herself up. “But there’s no time for that – we need to get you out of here, everyone here is in trouble.”

“I do not run from trouble.”

“The Empire has a planet-destroyer–”

“The Alliance has told you so?” he asks. His expression is wary and assessing.

It feels like the trap he thought she had set for him. She takes care with her words as she says, “Yes, I was sent here by the Alliance. One of the intelligence officers heard about Bodhi’s defection and the secret of the planet-destroyer, and that Bodhi sought you out–”

“So that I may seek you out. The defector brought me a transmission. I must show you something.”

“You can show it to me once we’re off this forsaken moon–”

“I am not leaving. And Jyn, I have a message from your father. It’s urgent. You must see it.”

She can’t bring herself to keep arguing.

*

Tears sting in her eyes as she gazes up at the image of her father. She memorized every word of his message the first time around. This time… this time, she just gets to watch her father confess his love for her.

The transmission cuts off as the Death Star fires on Jedha.

She needs to take the holochip.

But if she does… if she does, they may not need to extract her father, and General Draven may still send a squadron to assassinate him.

She instead turns her focus to Saw. “Come with us,” she says.

“There is no more I can do,” he tells her.

“You’re Saw Gerrera, you can–”

“I can stand and face my death, and I will.”

She stares up at him until Cassian comes to drag her away.

“Save the Rebellion!” Saw yells after her. “Save the dream!”

I want to save you, she can’t yell back.

Cassian is calling K2 for an extraction. Soon, Jyn joins Cassian, Chirrut, Baze and Bodhi on the U-Wing.

Outside, the land warps in the aftermath of the attack.

Saw dies.

Everyone in the Holy City dies.


The little girl that Jyn was so desperate to save dies.

*

Cassian is in disbelief that she didn’t get the holochip. Too much was going on, she explains, hoping he’ll take her being unable to meet his eyes as shame, not deception. She muddles her way through the rest of arguing about transmissions, about what can and cannot be sent. He retreats up to the cockpit with K2 and Bodhi.

Leaving Jyn in the cargo hold with Chirrut and Baze. One who will take her questions, the other who will ask none of his own.

"What...?" Jyn starts, before she realizes she doesn't know where to begin asking her questions.

Chirrut hums, and nods his head.

Nods his head like he’s answering her. He’s not, not enough for her.

She moves in closer, lowers her voice. "This... this has all happened before? Right? Or was it some sort of... premonition?"

"Premonitions are solitary creatures, they go to one person and one person only."

"So it all happened," she says, prompting for an affirmative answer. When he doesn't take the bait, she asks, "But it's happening again? It’s…"

"All is as the Force wills it."

Jyn hangs her head, and lets out a shaky sigh. She’s being pulled in so many different directions – determination to save her father. Grief for Saw. Torn between the fear of repeating past mistakes and the fear of what lies ahead.

"You are seeking for the wrong answers."

What question, she idly wonders, before repeating, "What do you know of kyber crystals?"

It gets another smile from him. His face brightens and he looks younger, almost carefree.

Jyn continues, "They say the strongest stars have hearts of kyber." It's something familiar, almost– like it was told to her once upon a time, long ago, when she was a little girl. She hadn't understood it then, she does not understand it now. "What does that mean?"

He reaches out.

She takes his hand.

He encloses her hand in both of his. "You, my child, are seeking for the wrong answers."

“What should I be asking? What’s the right question?”

He shakes his head.

Jyn lets out a noise of annoyance, and storms off to the cockpit.

*

Jyn searches her memory for the moment they clip the ledge, so they can land safely – and with their communications system intact – but she’s too late.

They crashland.

Cassian insists it's just a scouting mission.

Jyn looks down at his blaster.

Sniper configuration.

"I'll come with you," Jyn offers.

"No,” he says, shaking his head. “You're the messenger. We need you safe. And we’re in hostile territory, we need to go as few as we can."

And then he and Bodhi are gone.

Jyn stares after him, the rain quickly obscuring his figure.

“You know your path,” Chirrut announces.

Jyn turns to him.

"And you two know each other?" Baze asks, looking between Jyn and Chirrut.

"It is as I said, we are good friends, we have met before."

Baze looks back to Jyn. Hoping for a sensible answer, no doubt.

"I'd tell you..." Jyn starts, slowly, "but I don't think you would believe me."

"Pay it no mind, he did not believe me either."

"You already told him?"

"Yes. And he was hoping for another answer. All these years, and he doubts me still. It bothers him, because he knows it is true."

Baze rolls his eyes.

"It's true," Jyn echoes. "Everything that's happened... it's happened once before."

"And that once before ended."

Jyn nods. "I–" She died, she supposes. But she woke up after, and so she never thought of it like that. But the end came, and she died, her and Cassian on the Scarif beach.

And it occurs to her – Chirrut and Baze must have died, as well as the rest of Rogue One. There's the scarcest chance that they could have been picked up by a Rebel ship, searching for survivors once the shield was down and the transmission was received, but it's an empty hope. She stares at them, stares at Chirrut, and she knows the truth. She knows he knows the truth.

"So you have another chance," Baze continues. "To not die."

"For us all to not die." Cassian has left to kill her father, purposefully alone and with his blaster in the sniper configuration, and her anger stirs – but even so, she doesn't want him to die. Not again. He died in her arms, and she died in his.

She can save herself, and she can save him.

And…

“Your path is clear,” Chirrut murmurs.

Jyn grabs a rain jacket. “It is. I’m going to save my father."

*

She doesn’t save her father.

This time when Cassian comes to retrieve her, she is sobbing. Her father is half onto her lap, half cradled in her embrace. “Jyn,” he says against her temple, his body wrapping around her as he pries her paralyzed fingers off her father’s body – dead body – and pulls her up and away. “We need to go.”

Her father’s body slumps to the ground, and Jyn screams.

“We need to go,” he repeats, firmer, and he’s apologizing into her hair as he drags her away.

*

She’s in shock.

And possibly still crying. Her face is still wet from her tears or the rain or them both. Her hands are tingling uncomfortably and unresponsive.

Her clothes are drenched, the weight of her shirts pressing down against the kyber crystal. It burns against her skin. She was brought back – or shown a premonition – or given a vision – something happened, Chirrut’s knowledge means she can’t deny it.

Can’t deny she was given a second chance.

But her father died.

Again.

Cassian explains the full situation to the others. Explains Jyn’s loss, that she’s in shock.

She’s in shock and she’s cold and she can’t bring herself to reprise her argument with Cassian.

*

They return to Yavin 4. Jyn, Chirrut, nor Baze have a change of clothes, and are given spares while their own dry. They’ve given temporary quarters. They’re given time before the briefing.

Jyn sits in the silence of the room for what feels like a very long time. She feels like herself as much as she looks like herself, which, in Mon Mothma's borrowed white tunic and pants, is very little. Her kyber crystal is the only familiar weight.

She finds Chirrut in a room given to him and Baze.

His expression goes somber as he senses her approach. He braces himself against his cane to stand up, and he walks over to her. He pulls her into his arms, and holds her.

She thought she shed all possible tears on Eadu, but she finds herself crying against his shoulder all the same. "I don't understand what's going on," she says, her breathing unsteady with tears. "Why is this happening?" Why is this happening to me?

He pats her on the back. His hands are firm and strong and gentle all at once. "I am sorry," he says, "for your loss."

A fresh well of tears makes it impossible to speak for a few minutes, and she just shakes in his arms. Finally she takes a deep breath in, and asks, “What do we do now?”

“Now there is a question worth seeking the answer to.” He pulls back, places his hands on her cheeks. He’s blind, but she knows he sees her, perhaps better than anyone ever has. “We do all we can.”

“Jyn it’s– oh.”

She blinks a few times, and turns to see Cassian in the doorway.

He doesn’t meet her gaze. “Sorry to interrupt, but K2’s heard from the cleaning droids that your clothes are dried. The briefing is in a few minutes. I’ll see you down there.”

*

The briefing does not go any better the second time around.

*

“You don’t look happy,” Baze remarks.

The clash between disappointment and anticipation makes her voice hard as she says, “They prefer to surrender.”

“And you?”

Chirrut answers for her. “She wants to fight.”

“So do I,” Bodhi adds.

Jyn waits a few hammering heartbeats, then says, “I’m not sure four of us is quite enough.”

Baze looks beyond her as he asks, “How many do you need?”

She turns around. The anticipation is replaced by relief. She has never been this glad to see Cassian.

And this stays the same. Cassian’s belief in her. His speech and sins and confession. The dozen volunteers. The slow burn of pride deep as Jyn takes it all in. Another chance.

Behind her, Bodhi remarks, “It’ll be a bit cramped.”

The Alliance isn’t her home, she hasn’t had a home in years, and thought of the promise when death may soon take it away leaves her aching. But it would hurt worse to say nothing. Jyn looks up at Cassian and tells him, “I’m not used to people sticking around when things go bad.”

“Welcome home.”

It aches. Maybe, this time, just maybe…

*

“What’s your call sign?”

Bodhi looks panicked. He looks at Jyn, frantic, then says, “Rogue.”

“Rogue?”

He looks back at Jyn.

After a moment, she holds up two fingers.

“Rogue Two.” He nods to himself, then to K2. “Rogue Two, pulling away!”

*

She looks around at the cargo hold, remembers her courage and remembers her words.

“Saw Gerrera used to say, one fighter with a sharp stick and nothing left to lose can take the day. They have no idea we’re coming. They have no reason to expect us. If we can make it to the ground, we’ll take the next chance. And the next. On and on until we win or the chances are spent.”

It’s true, now, more so than ever.

The Empire has no idea the Rebellion is coming, and they have no way to expect that Jyn has done this before. The first time laid the groundwork, and Jyn’s taken this next chance. And she’ll take the next – if she’s given one. There’s no way to know if her chances are spent.

She’ll just have to keep trying.

*

She tries, but it’s not enough – there are too few ways to gain time once they’ve landed. Time is needed for the inspection team to arrive and be replaced. Inside the Citadel, K2 needs time to get the information from another imperial droid, and time is needed for the Rebels to fan out and cast their diversion.

Once she and Cassian are inside the vault, she tells K2, “See if there are any files named ‘Stardust.’”

Cassian looks at her curiously.

“It’s what my father called me.”

His expression goes soft, before his gaze is drawn away.

Jyn turns, catching sight of the green blinking light. While Cassian starts maneuvering for it, she finds the other potential time-save. “K2, would it be faster to reach the transmitter going through the Citadel, or just climbing up here?”

“One moment while I make the calculation,” he replies. In the background, there’s the sound of blaster fire. “I do believe that climbing would be a better option.”

The vault door bolts closed.

“K2?” Cassian asks, concern bleeding into his voice.

“Get out of there,” Jyn tells him. “You’ve done your part, now make your way back to the ship.”

“Valiant as that is, Jyn,” K2 says, “and as much as I appreciate it… I think it would be best were I to stay here and stand guard.”

“Thank you, K2,” Cassian says, quietly.

Amid more blaster fire, K2 replies, “You are very welcome, Cassian.”

Jyn and Cassian share a silent moment.

Cassian starts ripping off his Imperial uniform with shaking hands. His hat is thrown across the room. His shirt back towards the door.

Jyn hopes it’s the last time he’ll ever have to wear that uniform. She looks away, to give him his modesty, and to blast open the windows.

*

Some things change, some things don’t.

Jyn and Cassian arrive at the top of the Citadel.

The antenna isn’t aligned.

Cassian goes to fix it.

A TIE-fighter shoots him on his way back.

His death is more sour for the sooner it is, but Jyn can do nothing for him. She only waits for the shield to go down.

Krennic arrives.

They rehash their prior argument.

Cassian has enough strength to shoot Krennic.

The shield goes down, and Jyn starts sending the file. She runs towards Cassian, pulling him up and propping him up.

The file sends in its entirety.

“D’you think anyone is listening?”

She nods. “I do. Someone’s out there.”

He nods back. “Good.”

She maneuvers them into the turbolift, hits for them to be taken down to the ground level.

It’s dark inside the turbolift.

Jyn feels herself fading.

Can feel Cassian fading across from her.

He cups her cheek, and presses his forehead against hers.

They share air, as they will soon share the strength to wait for their demise.

*

Sand rough on her cheek and Cassian embraced and embracing her, Jyn looks to the disappearing horizon and thinks, The Force is with me, I am one with the Force. Heat lashes against her skin and it’s too bright to see. The Force is with me, I am one with the Force. She is going to die, and she’s done what she could, but had she can do more. This next chance, and the next. The Force is strong with me, I am –

Chapter Text

Jyn wakes up in her Wobani prison cell, panting and a scream dying in her throat. She startles to sitting, her breathing too loud, her blood rushing in her ears, the air suffocating her, everything–

Everything goes silent.

A drop of water hits cloth.

Jyn takes a long breath in, lets a long breath out.

*

It’s a long, bumpy transport ride to the farms, as much it always is. Her shackles chafe her wrists with every lurch, but she doesn’t feel it. It’s nothing against the ache of her heart, the phantom linger of death.

Her mother told her of the stories she had read when she had been studying as a young girl – at the end of a passage, the story would present different options, and then proceed differently from each choice. Her mother did not always chose the correct options, and it made her teachers quite cross.

Jyn has not chosen the correct options. As a student, her mother was never able to go back and make different decisions. But Jyn has been given that chance.

She has no idea what to do with it, though.

Not die is her first concern. Save herself and Cassian, save Chirrut and Baze, save Bodhi and K-2SO, save her father and Saw, save the Holy City and its outskirts. Save the rebellion, she thinks, save the dream. It sits heavy in her chest – it sounds so simple. But if it were simple, she would have managed it the first time around.

How does she manage it this time around? To jump to the end would be easiest. But if Jyn tells the Alliance they need to go to Scarif to get a data box, they’ll respond with skepticism and suspicion. Even when she had her father’s message to relay, even when Jedha had been a demonstration of the destructive power of the Death Star, they didn’t believe her. Didn’t trust her testimony.

She needs to bring her father back alive, it’s the simplest solution. The darker, cynical part of her, responsible for years of back-up plans, gives the solution of bringing her father’s message back. Anger coils in her stomach at the idea of her not being able to save him this time, but at the same time, she resolves to get the holodisk.

Get the holodisk, have Cassian transmit it to Yavin 4 while they are in route to Eadu, save her father, go to a shorter debate on Yavin 4. With her father there, he can sway the Alliance into a full-scale attack on Scarif, and fight for the plans. Jyn doesn’t know how they’ll plan a full-scale attack, her military tactical knowledge begins and ends with Saw’s style of guerrilla warfare, but the Alliance has generals, they’ll figure it out.

The transport stops.

The door blasts open.

Three Rebel soldiers make their way into the transport.

One of them – Melshi – makes his way over to her. “Want to get out here?”

She nods. She watches him take off her shackles and doesn’t hit him with a shovel the moment his back is turned.

*

Yavin 4 is as humid as it’s been before. It does not have the perpetual fog of Wobani, but Jyn looks forward to the dry air of Jedha.

She is better prepared for General Draven this time around. “Imagine how the Imperial Army authorities would react if they knew who you really were.” She doesn’t, because she knows how to guard herself against night terrors. “Jyn Erso, daughter of Galen Erso.” The man who Draven will give a kill order for. “Known Imperial collaborator.” A man with the fierce bravery only defectors have.

Against Draven’s spite and hostility is Mon Mothma’s cool and impassive facade.

Jyn looks to her and asks, “What do you want from me?”

“This is Captain Cassian Andor, Rebel Intelligence.”

Cassian steps forward. His arms are crossed, his gaze even.

Jyn meets his stare. You died in my arms and I died in yours, she thinks, and she aches.

“When was the last time you were in contact with your father?”

Her father died in her arms what feels like scarcely a day ago. But she’s not going to let it happen again, which means she can’t let herself be haunted by it. “I can’t say. I fled our home in Lah’mu when I was a child.”

“Any idea what he’s been up to all that time?”

Jyn grits her teeth. Takes a bracing breath. “He’s been working as a science engineer for the Imperial Army. He–” she cuts herself off. He’s a good man. He’s on our side. He’s still alive.

“Is a tool of the Imperial political war machine?” Cassian offers.

She stares up at him. She needs him to trust her. But she doesn’t have the luxury of him trusting her the way she already trusts him. She says nothing of political opinions, only, “I like to think he’s trying to fight the Empire from the inside.”

He narrows his eyes. Was he expecting her to fight? Has she gone along his interrogation too well? He asks, “When was your last contact with Saw Gerrera?”

Jyn matches his cautioin and retreats back into the familiar pattern of the previous conversation.

Beat for beat, along with the beat of her heart, the scene plays out, until they arrive at the U-Wing, until Draven calls for Cassian.

“Wait,” she says, before she can stop herself.

Cassian turns. His frown is too familiar by this point. Jyn wonders how many times she’s seen him smile. She thinks about the trust she needs, thinks about his suspicions of her. “If he’s worried about me, I promise I have no plans to kill you.”

“Reassuring,” he replies, and goes to meet with his superior officer. His posture is straight, and his hands clasp behind his back.

Jyn boards the U-Wing.

“I’m K-2SO. I’m a reprogrammed Imperial droid.”

“I remember you,” Jyn says. “You threw me to the ground earlier.”

“I merely dropped you.”

Despite her initial annoyance with the droid, she can’t help but be fond of him. And enjoy winding him up. “And winded me. Lucky for you, I am a forgiving person. Despite whatever reservations any of you may have, I’m not going turn against you, or harm you, or anything of the sort.”

Cassian strides back into the ship, and up to the cockpit. “You met K-2?”

“Yes. He’s very charming.”

“Isn’t he?” His mouth flicks into what may be half of a smile. “After his reprogramming, he tends to say whatever comes into his circuits.”

“She has assured me that she will not kill either of us, but given her possession of a blaster, I am skeptical.”

“You have a blaster?”

“We’re going to Jedha. It’s a warzone. Of course I have a blaster.”


“Do you want to know the probability she’ll use it against us?” K-2 asks from the cockpit.

Cassian glances back to K-2, then turns to Jyn. “Give it to me.”

“Only if you give it back.”

“You need to give it to me first.”

She moves slowly, twirling the blaster so the handle is extended to Cassian. “Trust goes both ways,” she tells him, as she lets it go. Trust me as much as I trust you.

*

It’s not until they’re in the press of the city does Cassian slide the blaster into her hand, saying, “I hope you meant what you said about not planning to kill me.”

“I meant it,” she says, softly. Her throat feels raw from unshed tears – she wants to save the city, but now that she’s here, she has no idea what to do. What she could even do. Her strengths lie in fighting with a small band of Saw’s rebels, in defending herself – she doesn’t know how to do anything larger scale than that. She supposes transmitting the Death Star plans counts, but then she doesn’t know how to do it without dying in the process. “We need to get to Saw,” she says. He’ll know what to do.

Cassian agrees, and details his sister-of-a-missing-friend connection, the hope it can get a meeting.

“Hope?” she asks, a prompt more than a curiosity.

It gets her another rare half-smile. “Rebellions are built on hope.”

Jyn replies in kind, and follows him through the crowd. She knows where Saw’s hideout is, but she doesn’t know how to say so without garnering suspicion.

And, more importantly…

“The Force is with me, I am one with the Force.”

Sand rough against her cheek–

“The Force is with me, I am one with the Force.”

Heat lashes against her skin and it’s too bright to see–

“The Force is with me, I am…”

She is going to die, and she’s was given another chance but she still hadn’t done enough – death is approaching and she wants to scream–

“That is a very pretty necklace.”

Jyn shakes herself out of her reverie, and walks over a waiting Chirrut. Her heart is pounding – not out of the adrenaline of last time, but the sheer relief of seeing him and Baze alive again. “Any chance I could trade my necklace for a glimpse into my future?”

Chirrut smiles, wide and warm. “I would expect you to barter for more than a glimpse.”

“Am I in a position to barter?”

Chirrut strums his fingers along his walking staff, pondering it.

Jyn looks up to Baze.

Baze is staring down at her. Less suspicious than last time, more intrigued than the first time. “Pay him no mind,” is all he says.

“He’s worried you’re going to get me into trouble,” Chirrut whispers.

“Jyn!”

As always, Cassian comes too soon.

Jyn holds up two fingers to him. In the same confiding whisper, she says, “I’ll see you when you come to get me out of trouble.”

“Come on, let’s go,” he says, voice low. He takes three strides to her, and wraps his hand around her elbow, starting down the street. “We’re not here to make friends.”

“We’re here to find Saw,” Jyn agrees. “Do you know where he is?”

He shakes his head. “No, but it doesn’t matter. We need to get out of this town.”

Now that she knows to look for it, she sees all the skittering of movement of Saw’s rebels getting into position. “We need a back-up plan.” One of the lieutenant’s words from the two previous encounters come back to her. “This place is about to blow, and if you can make yourself an ally to Saw’s cause, we can get taken to him. Don’t give them any reason not to bring us.” Don’t shoot one of Saw’s men, she thinks, at his confused look.

But he only shot the rebel to save her.

She needs to find cover somewhere that isn’t the tank.

The grenades start falling and the shooting starts, and Jyn ducks a different way, disregarding Cassian calling her name.

The young girl cries out, and Jyn’s put herself in a better position to save the little girl. It draws her farther away from where her mother is, but that just gives Jyn time to cup the girl’s cheeks and tell her, “Find your mama and leave this moon.” Evacuation is the only option to keep her alive after this half-hour.

To keep any of them alive, she thinks. She stores that thought in mind for later – her priority now is to get back to Cassian.

They end up on a different path away from the tank, but K-2 will find them, Chirrut will find them.

*

“Let them pass in peace!”

In the span of thirty seconds, Chirrut takes down over half a dozen Stormtroopers. He drops down to the ground and rolls forward as the second wave arrives.

Jyn stares, transfixed, as his body flows through the fight.

Six more Stormtroopers fall, and a blast knocks the last one out.

Chirrut straightens up from his duck. “I could have handled them all,” he protests.

“You’re welcome,” Baze replies.

Cassian dismisses K-2SO, and gets acquainted with Chirrut and Baze.

Jyn gazes around the clearing. “I know you’re out there,” she calls, and it’s only mostly a bluff. She hadn’t seen any of the tell-tale movements, but when Saw is searching for someone, there’s always another someone on guard. “My name is Jyn Erso, and I demand to be taken to see Saw Gerrera.”

It draws them out, and there’s a dozen of them. The lieutenant gives the order to take the four of them back to the hideout.

“You couldn’t’ve done that earlier?”

It hits the wrong way – couldn’t she have done any of this earlier? – and she scoffs at him. “I’m not about to announce who I am when there are Stormtroopers everywhere.”

Before either of them can argue the point any further, black bags are pulled over their heads.

*

With Cassian having not killed one of their numbers, Jyn hopes they’re treated moderately better this time around. But she’s separated early on, and shown to Saw’s room.

Saw has aged, as shown by the gray in his hair, the decline of his body. “Jyn? Is that really you? I can’t believe it…”

But Jyn suddenly feel so, so young. Young and afraid, and so new to the horrors of the galaxy. There’s a weight on her shoulders, and much like when she was brought to him the first time, it is far too heavy for her to bear.

He frowns at her quiet. “Are we not still friends?”

She smothers her laugh. Now is not the time. “Is there any way you know to evacuate the city?” Jyn asks.

He stills.

“The Holy City, your hideout here on the outskirts, we’re all in danger.”

“The entire galaxy is in danger, and you worry about this moon?”

“The Empire has a planet-destroyer–”

“The Alliance has told you so?” he asks. His expression is wary and assessing.

Her words from last time did not set off any snares, so she repeats, “Yes, I was sent here by the Alliance. One of the intelligence officers heard about Bodhi’s defection and the secret of the planet-destroyer, and that Bodhi sought you out–”

“So that I may seek you out. The defector brought me a transmission. I must show you something.”

“You can show it to me once you’ve given word to the city to evacuate them immediately, the Empire will be here soon–”

“Then there is no chance.”

Jyn’s breath leaves her.

“All my evacuation contacts, it takes time, if their attack is imminent, it’s all the more reason why you must see your father’s message.”

Still speechless, Jyn can’t argue.

*

Tears sting in her eyes as she gazes up at the image of her father. She memorized the message on the first view and perfectly memorized it on the second view. The third… after spending so long pushing him out of her mind, to have him back… to have another chance…

The transmission cuts off as the Death Star fires on Jedha.

She takes the holochip, and turns to Saw. “Come with us,” she says.

“I am not running.”

She opens her mouth, but realization hits her, knocking all the air out of her lungs. He’s not running. “You weren’t part of today’s attack,” she says, voice shaking.

He frowns, and takes a clanking step in closer to her. “Jyn…”

“You were always part of every attack. But today…”

“I had to see it that Galen’s message got to you.

“And if not for the message, you could have gone out on the attack today. And with the state you’re in, it would have…” Her heart is pounding in her chest, and tears again sting her eyes. “It would have killed you. And you would have gone, knowing that, knowing that you would have died. You… you want to–”

“Want?” he interrupts. “No. But Jyn…”

She shakes her head.

He opens up his arms, a gesture to himself. His voice is raw as he says, “There’s not much left of me.”

“No–”

“Jyn!”

She turns, and Cassian has entered the room, staring suspiciously at Saw.

“Take her,” Saw says.

“Saw, no–”

Cassian starts to pull her away.

“Save the Rebellion!” Saw yells after her. “Save the dream!”

*

Saw dies.

Everyone in the Holy City dies.


The little girl that Jyn was so desperate to save dies.

Again.

*

On the route to Eadu, Cassian asks, “Where is it? Where is the message?”

Jyn’s hands are empty. They go to her pockets of her jacket, of her pants. “I had it,” she says, breathless. “It’s a hologram, it…”

“You have that message, right?” Cassian asks. It’s more pleading than demanding.

She keeps patting herself down, playing back everything that happened. It was in her hand, she had it, and then…

“Everything happened so fast,” she repeats, feeling sick.

Cassian turns to Bodhi. “Did you see it?”

Jyn can’t bring herself to ask if he believes her, and jumps ahead. “Listen,” she says. “We get to Eadu, we get my father, and he can deliver the message himself. Cassian–”

He silences her with a shake of his head, and wordlessly heads up to the cockpit.

Jyn sinks down to a crouch. The first time around, when she forgot to grab the holodisk, the guilt she felt was overwhelming. It had been so long since she had last messed up so badly – and this, this is worse.

“The strongest stars…” Chirrut begins.

Jyn hadn’t understood it when she was a child, she still doesn’t understand it now. All she knows is that her back-up plan has fallen through, and if she wants to sway the Council, she needs to save her father.

Chirrut sits down next to her, patting her on the shoulder. “All is as the Force wills it.”

“I’m beginning to wonder if the Force and I have different priorities,” Jyn says,

He lets out an amused huff. Leaning in, he tells her, “Cassian wonders that too.”

She turns to him. “I don’t know if Cassian and I have different priorities or not.” She swallows. “You said that first time that the Force was moving darkly around him. Is it still?”

His somber expression is all the answer she needs.

*

As soon as they hit atmo, Jyn is hurrying up the ladder to the cockpit.

Cassian, Bodhi and K-2 are all arguing about the descent.

“You need to be careful,” Jyn says, “otherwise you’re going to clip–”

Cassian snaps, “I don’t need two people telling me how to–”

“Watch out!” Bodhi yells.

They clip the ledge.

Cassian is colder than ever as he prepares for him and Bodhi to leave, giving short, sharp orders of what everyone is to do. For K-2SO, it’s to fix the comms. For Jyn, Chirrut and Baze, it’s to stay here and do nothing.

Jyn doesn’t argue. There’s no way her guilt isn’t broadcast across her face, and Cassian doesn’t seem inclined to press the issue of her lack of arguing. He and Bodhi leave, and Jyn counts out a minute. In this rain, there’s no way Cassian will know she’s left the ship.

It’s a very long minute.

She scrambles to her feet.

“Going somewhere?” Baze asks, voice dry.

“I don’t have any time to waste,” Jyn says, as she starts putting on a rain jacket. “I need to get to my father, now.”

“Talking to us is a waste of time?” Chirrut asks.

It makes her freeze. This is their third time together, and in some ways, Jyn knows Chirrut and Baze – and Cassian, and Bodhi, and K-2SO – as well as she knows herself. In many ways, though, they’re complete strangers.

“I need to save my father,” she says, slowly. “But after this, no, I”ll never consider it a waste.”

Chirrut nods, pleased. Then he waves her off. “Go. You know what you need to do.”

She needs to save her father.

*

Her haste makes the climb treacherous – despite the attempted covering of the ladder, wind blows the rain against the rungs. Going at a modest pace, she’s been able to get up without any injury.

She’s not going at a modest pace now.

Halfway up, her boot slips. Her grip tightens around the rung, but she gives a yell of pain as all her weight pulls against her hand. She scrambles to get her other hand up, for her boots to find purchase. It’s a long few seconds until she does, and she spends a moment panting, uncomfortably warm against the cold air, her right aching with pulled muscles.

Her father is waiting, and that knowledge is the only thing that makes her keep going.

Her arm is in agony, and that hindrance is the only thing that keeps her going at a slow, steady pace.

It’s slow, it’s too slow. In the back of her mind, Jyn notes to bring a grappling gun with her next time.

She gets up to the ledge, and her stomach sinks.

It’s too late.

The Alliance has arrived.

She’s too late.

“Father!” she yells. “Run!

He doesn’t run.

The Alliance bombs fall.

The shockwave radiates out far enough to drop her.

Jyn lies on the wet concrete, pretending to be another casualty. She waits this time, doesn’t get swept nearly off the platform. Once the Imperial shuttle is clear of the platform, she sprints over to her father’s body.

He’s dying.

Like both previous times, she arrived just soon enough for him to say goodbye.

Like last time, Cassian finds her crying over his body.

“Jyn,” he says. “We need to go.”

She’s shaking as she stands, and she lets him lead her to the ship.

*

“You lied to me,” Jyn says, and it’s more vicious than the first time she had said it.

He doesn’t look at her. “You’re in shock.”

“You went out there to kill my father. And don’t tell me that I don’t know what I’m talking about, and don’t tell me I’m in shock.”

“You’re in shock, and you’re looking–”

“You’re not denying it. And you can’t. You lied to all of us about why we came here, why you went off alone.”

“I had every chance to pull the trigger. But did I?” Louder, looking around, he repeats, “Did I?”

“You may as well have. Those were Alliance bombs that killed him, when we needed him to go to the Council–” because I lost the holodisk and couldn’t get to him fast enough.

“I had orders,” he says, a quiet snap.

She snaps back, the argument boiling her blood. Her own shame and guilt mix with her grief, and she continues snapping ugly accusations at him, pushing him to do the same. It’s ugly and vicious, and his quiet rebuttal – I don’t have to – leaves her in the same anguish as the first time.

*

They return to Yavin 4. Jyn, Chirrut, nor Baze have a change of clothes, and are given spares while their own dry. They’ve given temporary quarters. They’re given time before the briefing.

Jyn sits in the silence of the room for what feels like a very long time. She’s in Mon Mothma’s borrowed white tunic and pants. While the other woman could look strong and otherworldly in her all-white attire, Jyn just looks frail. She feels frail.

She doesn’t go to Chirrut. She wants to keep her intention of talking to him and Baze, actually getting to know them, but she has too many questions that Chirrut cannot answer – that he hasn’t answered.

What do we do now? she had asked last time.

We do all we can.

Jyn closes her eyes, refusing to cry. She managed some of what she could – but she doesn’t have the holodisk, she doesn’t have her father. She planned on having those, and didn’t plan for if she didn’t.

There’s a knock on the door.

K-2 is standing there, a bundle of clothing in his hands. “Here are your clothes,” he says. “They are very warm. I have it on good authority from other humans that this is comforting.”

Jyn takes a deep breath in, and sighs it out. Her clothes are indeed very warm, and it is comforting. Softly, she says, “Thank you.”

The droid nods. “And I also have it on good authority that humans find it unnerving for droids to watch them change, and so I will leave you now. You should know where the briefing room is.”

She couldn’t convince the Council the first two times. She’s no military leader, no charismatic politician.

But she’ll do all she can.

*

“Please,” Jyn begs. “Believe me.”

They don’t.

*

“You don’t look happy,” Baze remarks.

Her voice is bitter this time as she says, “They prefer to surrender.”

“And you?”

Chirrut answers for her. “She wants to fight.”

“So do I,” Bodhi adds.

Jyn waits a few heartbeats, then says, “I think we need a few more than the four of us.”

Baze looks beyond her as he says, “You are in luck.”

A familiar relief spreads through her as Cassian approaches, building as he comes to a stop.

And this stays the same. Cassian’s belief in her. His speech and sins and confession. The dozen volunteers. The slow burn of pride deep as Jyn takes it all in. Another chance.

Behind her, Bodhi remarks, “It’ll be a bit cramped.”

Cassian orders for them to gear up, to take everything that isn’t nailed down.

Jyn just stares at him. Cassian is steadfast, and she knows what he’s going to tell her if she gives him the chance. She doesn’t want to. But it would hurt worse to say nothing. Jyn looks up at Cassian and tells him, “I’m not used to people sticking around when things go bad.” She swallows. “Thank you.”

His hand goes to her shoulder, and he gives it a gentle squeeze. “Welcome home.”

Maybe, this time, please, maybe…

*

“What’s your call sign, pilot?”

Bodhi looks panicked. He looks at Jyn, frantic, then says, “Rogue.”

He looks back at Jyn.

She holds up three fingers.

His gaze flicks between her, K-2SO, and his comm station, counting them off. “Rogue Three.”

“Rogue Three? There is no Rogue Three!”

Jyn just hopes there won’t be a Rogue Four.

*

She looks around at the cargo hold, scrounges up her courage and what charisma she has.

“Saw Gerrera used to say, one fighter with a sharp stick and nothing left to lose can take the day. They have no idea we’re coming. They have no reason to expect us. If we can make it to the ground, we’ll take the next chance. And the next. On and on until we win or the chances are spent.”

It’s still true.

The Empire still has no idea the Rebellion is coming, and they have no way to expect that Jyn has done this before. The first time laid the groundwork, and Jyn’s taken another next chance, and another.

And she still doesn’t know if her chances are spent.

She’ll still keep trying.

*

She tries, but it’s not enough – there are too few ways to gain time once they’ve landed.  Time is needed for the inspection team to arrive and be replaced. Inside the Citadel, K-2 needs time to get the information from another imperial droid, and time is needed for the Rebels to fan out and cast their diversion.

Once she and Cassian are inside the vault, she tells K-2, “See if there are any files named ‘Stardust.’”

Cassian looks at her curiously.

“It’s what my father called me.”

His expression goes soft, before his gaze is drawn away.

Jyn turns, catching sight of the green blinking light. While Cassian starts maneuvering for it, she finds the other potential time-save. “K-2, would it be faster to reach the transmitter going through the Citadel, or just climbing up here? Or,” she adds hurriedly, “if a droid were to carry us up?”

“One moment while I make the calculation,” he replies. In the background, there’s the sound of blaster fire. “I do believe that climbing would be a better option.”

The vault door bolts closed.

“K-2?” Cassian asks, concern bleeding into his voice.

“Unfortunately, I do not think I will be able to carry you.”

“I injured my arm,” Jyn says. “We need your help, I trust you not to drop us.”

“Flattering as that is, Jyn,” K-2 says, “and while I do, strangely, appreciate it… I think it would be best were I to stay here and stand guard.”

“K-2… thank you,” Cassian says, quietly.

Amid more blaster fire, K-2 replies, “You are very welcome, Cassian.”

Jyn and Cassian share a silent moment.

Cassian takes his hat off and clenches it for a long moment, then throws it at the door.

Jyn looks away to give him his modesty, and to blast open the windows.

*

Some things change, some things don’t.

Jyn’s arm strength gives out a third of the way up the climb. She half-falls, and knocks Cassian off-balance. She screams his name as he falls.

He doesn’t move.

She keeps climbing.

The antenna isn’t aligned.

Jyn fixes it, with no TIE-fighter to shoot her or the walkway. She only waits for the shield to go down.

Krennic arrives.

They rehash their prior argument.

Cassian shoots Krennic. Holds her back from kicking him off the tower.

The shield goes down, and Jyn starts sending the file.

Cassian lags against her bad side.

They crumple to the ground.

It’s a long minute before either can get up.

The file has sent in its entirety.

“D’you think anyone is listening?”

She nods. “I do. Someone’s out there.”

He nods back. “Good.”

She maneuvers them into the turbolift, hits for them to be taken down to the ground level.

It’s dark inside the turbolift.

Jyn feels herself fading.

Can feel Cassian fading across from her.

She sways, and clutches his shirt in a balled fist.

He cups her cheek, and presses his forehead against hers.

They share air, as they will soon share the strength to wait for their demise.

*

Sand rough on her cheek and Cassian embraced and embracing her, Jyn looks to the disappearing horizon and thinks, The Force is with me, I am one with the Force. Heat lashes against her skin and it’s too bright to see. The Force is with me, I am one with the Force. She is going to die, and she’s done what she could, but had she can do more. This next chance, and the next. The Force is strong with me, I am –

Chapter Text

Jyn wakes up in her Wobani prison cell, panting and a scream dying in her throat. She startles to sitting, her breathing too loud, her blood rushing in her ears, the air suffocating her, everything–

Everything goes silent.

A drop of water hits cloth.

Jyn takes a long breath in, lets a long breath out.

*

It’s a long, bumpy transport ride to the farms, as much it always is. Her shackles chafe her wrists with every lurch, and it is agonizing. Phantom pain echoes in her left arm, worse and worse with every rattle.

She takes a deep breath in through her nose, and lets it out as a sigh. She forces the pain out of her mind, and focuses on what she’s going to do this time around, what she’s going to do differently this time around.

She needs to get to Eadu faster. She needs to save her father – bring him back alive, but more than that, she can’t watch him die a fourth time.

To get to Eadu faster, she needs to leave Jedha sooner. And she needs to save Jedha – it’s not the same burning need like saving her father, but Saw has ways to alert an evacuation to those in the city, she needs to get there soon enough to do that. It required more time than they had last time, but if she can get there soon enough, before his rebels start bombing the Stormtroopers, she can get in contact with him, get him to start the process.

To get to Jedha faster, she needs to leave Yavin 4 faster.

Or, maybe, cut that part out of her trip entirely.

The transport stops.

The door blasts open.

Three Rebel soldiers make their way into the transport.

One of them – Melshi – makes his way over to her.

He opens his mouth, but Jyn cuts in, asking, "Who are you?"

"My name is Melshi, I'm with the Rebellion–”

"What does the Rebellion want with me?” It’s too fast, this could be too fast, but she continues, “Does this have anything to do with Saw Gerrera?"

He hesitates. He’s considering, not suspicious.

Jyn stands. Despite her height, she has mastered the art of staring others down. "Take me to see him. Now."

One of the other soldiers says, “We need to get going.”

“Take me to him,” Jyn repeats.

Melshi frowns, but gestures for her to follow him.

K-2SO is an ever-present guardian as she jumps down to ground. A pair of handcuffs are snapped onto her wrists. Unnecessary, really, given how Jyn could have – and has – taken them down earlier than this. She pushes it out of her mind as she says, “Saw’s on Jedha.”

"We're aware of that," he says, irritation evident in his tone. "Any idea of where he is on Jedha?"

"No, but I ran with him for years. Get me to Jedha, and I’ll find him for you. But we need to go there, now.”

*

K-2SO makes his introductions as they board the U-Wing. After watching Melshi reroute, he announces, “This is a bad idea. I think so, and I am sure Captain Andor will think so too.”

“He’ll have time to yell at us when he meets us on Jedha,” Melshi says.

“Which part of it is a bad idea?” Jyn asks.

K-2 stares down at her for a long minute, then says, “At least you aren’t armed.”

*

This time around, she meets Cassian on the outskirts of the Holy City.

His arms aren’t crossed – he’s neither defensive nor feigning casual. It’s refreshing. And a relief – she realizes it’s always a relief to see him, if not bittersweet. She’s not a target to him, but an ally. One to still be cautious of, he’s still gazing at her with thinly-veiled suspicion.

He’s a familiar warmth to her, while she’s a stranger to him.

Melshi waves a hand between them. "Jyn Erso, this is Captain Cassian Andor. Captain Andor, this is Jyn Erso."

Cassian dismisses him and the two others. With the level of Imperial occupation, the fewer Rebels – and Rebel ships – the better.

“I’m not convinced this isn’t a trap,” Cassian tells her.

“Guess I’ll have to convince you.”

He lets her take the lead, and she starts meandering through the city.

She needs to get them to Saw, but first she needs to see Chirrut. And Baze is already curious enough, she doesn’t need to add Cassian’s potential questions to the mix. “What were you going to do to find Saw if I didn’t volunteer my insight?”

“I had a contact. One of Saw’s rebels, but he’s just gone missing. His sister will be looking for him. The temple has been destroyed, but she’ll be there waiting. I give her your name, and hope that gets us a meeting with Saw.”

“Perhaps you should find her.”

His eyes narrow. “And leave you alone?”

“Leave me to continue my part of the search, while you work on yours. Trust goes both ways. I trust you to come back for me.” After a beat, she adds, “I hope you trust me.”

He doesn’t tell her that rebellions are built on hope, and it’s almost a betrayal.

Jyn watches him disappear into the crowd, and continues on her own way.

“The Force is with me, I am one with the Force.”

Sand rough against her cheek–

“The Force is with me, I am one with the Force.”

Heat lashes against her skin and it’s too bright to see–

“The Force is with me, I am…”

She is going to die, she’s had her chances to do better but it’s not – death is approaching and she wants to scream–

“That is a very pretty necklace.”

Despite the growing familiarity of this moment, it takes a few seconds to collect herself, to block out the memories of a thrice-lived death. A deep breath in, and a deep breath out, and she makes her way over to where Chirrut is sitting. “I’ll trade you my necklace for a discussion of my future,” she tells him. “But we need to get moving.”

“Your path is clear,” he announces. He pushes himself to standing, leaning heavily on his staff. “Where to?”

Baze doesn’t budge. “Do we know her?”

“Through the Force, we know all.”

“Your mystical nonsense may work on others, but it does not impress me,” Baze tells him.

Chirrut’s mouth thins, annoyed in a way Jyn hasn’t seen before.

“Jyn!” comes Cassian’s voice, low and hard.

“I need to get to Saw Gerrera, now, but find me when you’ve convinced him I won’t get you into trouble.”

“I will do what I can,” he says, solemnly.

Jyn nods to them, then hurries over to Cassian, for once glad for his timing.

“We are supposed to be searching for Saw Gerrara, not making friends with the local nuisances. Or do you not–”

“I needed to scout the city to assess it as Saw would have. But he’s not going to be here. Can you get us a speeder?”

*

Ten minutes later, at the edge of the city, Baze offers them his own newly-acquired speeder.

*

Jyn has never excelled at keeping time. On missions, she was relentlessly trained to keep the time – but as a child in a bunker, or a teen waiting until daylight, the passage of time has never felt precise to her. Ten minutes could pass and feel like five minutes or an hour.

She doesn’t know where she is in regards to the Death Star arriving on the horizon. She knows it’s further away, but she’s not sure how much more time she has.

So when there are men standing guard outside Saw’s, Jyn doesn’t have the time to explain, but takes out her baton and knocks them both out.

“Don’t kill any of his men,” Jyn says, casting them a warning glance. After a beat, she adds, “And if you can find a grappling gun, take it.”

“Are we allowed to knock them out, or is that reserved for you?” Cassian asks, more to himself than to her.

Jyn strides into the base with a familiarity borne of all the years she spent with him. "My name is Jyn Erso,” she announces. “I am here to see Saw. These three men are with me. Put them in a holding cell if you must, but no harm is going to come to them, or you will answer to Saw.”

There’s a mild uproar. A call for the guards, a call for higher ranking soldiers, everyone out of their seats going for their blasters. Cassian refrains from doing the same, and after a few moments he, Chirrut and Baze are taken one way, while she is shepherded another way.

She has the route to his room memorized by now.

"Jyn..."

She stares at him. Her mentor, her father-figure when her father was taken from her. The air around him is not defeat, but there is something subtle and calm about him – acceptance, maybe.

"My child," he says, voice raspy. "Is something the matter?"

She takes a step back. "What?"

"You look like there is something burdening you– you have always had your past sorrows to carry, but there is something more..."

All these years of silence and he still knows her this well. He is still is this concerned about her. She shakes her head. “Saw, I need you to evacuate the city.”

“That is not something I can–”

“You’re Saw Gerrera, you have contacts. I need you to evacuate the city.”

“What is going on–”

“What’s going on is that you abandoned me. I was sixteen when you left me alone in a bunker. And I vowed to never see you again, but I came because I need your help. I’ll explain later.” Her heart thuds painfully in her chest. “Are we not still friends?”

He stares at her a long minute, and then calls for a lieutenant. His shorthand codes would change every few months, guarding against if someone was to betray him, but all it means now is that Jyn doesn’t understand. “The order has been given. It will take a few minutes to go through all the contacts needed, but the evacuation will soon start.”

Jyn sighs in relief, and hopes that little girl and her mother make it to one of the ships.

“Now, you explain.”

“I’ve heard from Cassian that there’s rumor of a planet killer. You’ve already put a target on your back, the Rebellion is hidden, why wouldn’t they try and test it here?”

“That is not what I was asking. There is something wrong–”

“There’s a lot wrong,” Jyn says, voice hard. She can’t watch her father die a fourth time, and she can’t bear to leave Saw die a fourth time. “A lot has changed since you left me in that bunker. But it’s not something to discuss here, you’ve put in the evacuation order, we need to leave.”

“You need to see your father’s message.”

“We can watch it when we’re off planet.”

“It’s urgent.”

“It’s urgent we leave.”

“I am not leaving.”

“You’re determined to die, then,” Jyn snaps. “The great Saw Gerrera, so willing to walk into a quiet death.”

“You,” Saw interrupts, voice quiet but firm, “are in many ways what I made you, but your temper is not of my design. And one day, it will get you into trouble.”

It’s a soft chide, and she’s forgotten how much more painful those were. He leads her to the hologram, and she’s too ashamed to speak.

*

For the first time, there is no joy at seeing her father. The hologram message is not enough – she needs to see him.

“You'll need the plans, the structural plans, for the Death Star to find the reactor. I know there's a complete engineering archive in a data box in the Citadel tower on Scarif. Any pressurized explosion to the reactor module will set off a chain reaction that will destroy the entire station within seconds.

“I am asking so much of you, Saw, already, but I beg of you – save the Rebellion.”

Jyn’s blood runs cold.

“Save the dream. Save my daughter.”

Tears fill Jyn’s eyes as the transmission ends. She blinks them away, and turns to Saw. “Evacuate your people. I need to take this back to the Alliance.”

She turns away, grabs the hologram and stows it away. And then she stills. She needs to leave Jedha.

But she can’t walk away from Saw.

Cassian arrives, as he always does, suspicious and with a finger on the trigger. He looks between her and Saw, before telling her, “I know where your father is, we need to go.”

She turns back to Saw, even as Cassian starts dragging her away.

“Jyn – goodbye.”

A few tears slip down her face. “Goodbye, Saw.”

*

The Holy City remains on the horizon.

The Imperial ships over the city have gone, they must have evacuated while Jyn was talking with Saw.

A few ships are leaving atmosphere.

The U-Wing is soon one of them.

*

K-2SO is in the pilot’s chair, while Cassian is standing, waiting, at the communication center.

In the cabin sits Jyn, Chirrut, Baze and Bodhi.

“I hope you are watching,” Chirrut says, a quiet murmur. “It has been so long since we have travelled. I want to know what it looks like.”

Baze nods, not looking away.

This is the perfect quiet moment to talk to them.

It helps that there’s no ashes of mass destruction lingering.

“I keep meaning to ask,” Jyn says, and it draws drawing everyone’s attention. “How long have you two been together?”

Cassian turns from his station to look between Chirrut and Baze. He goes back to his work with nothing more than a, “Huh.” Bodhi is wearing a similar expression and nodding.

“Many, many years,” Chirrut says. “Far too many to count.”

“I know how many years,” Baze remarks.

Cassian snorts, loud and unexpected. In a low voice, he says, “Good luck talking your way out of that.”

“I don’t need luck. You cannot count the years of a relationship, it is impossible. In meaningful relationships, you never have one relationship with another.” Chirrut turns to face Jyn for a moment before continuing, “You change, and they change, and it becomes a new relationship. Counting years in a relationship… which relationship?”

“You could still, you know, give the range of years,” Bodhi comments. It gets a smirk from Cassian and a half-laugh out of Jyn. He seems to relax a bit, and even manages to crack a smile, which Jyn matches.

“For what purpose? Years matter not, speak not to the depth of a relationship. But,” he adds, pointedly, as Cassian, Bodhi, and Baze all open their mouths, “the answer is that we have been together a long time. Longer than any of you have been alive, that is for sure.”

Baze shakes his head, but there’s a flicker of a fond smile.

They may have fallen in love the same time her parents did. It’s as beautiful as it is painful.

Cassian turns to his station, pulling on headphones.

Jyn’s humor fades as she hears him say, “Understood.”

Aware of his audience, he turns to address them all. “We should arrive at Eadu soon. Take the time to rest.” He turns to Bodhi. “I’ll call for you when we near the planet.”

*

Jyn follows Bodhi to the cockpit, lurching against him as they hit atmo.

Bodhi starts giving them details on where the research facility is, while arguing with K-2 and Cassian about the descent.

“Pull up,” Jyn says.

Cassian snaps, “I don’t need two people telling me how to–”

She clenches her kyber crystal. “Now!

Cassian pulls up.

They clear the ledge.

K-2 and Bodhi protest, and the arguing resumes.

Jyn takes a staggering step back. They didn’t hit the ledge. They didn’t crash, they’re not going to crash. She feels dizzy from relief, and the air is too thick here to breath. She feels lightheaded as she stumbles back into the cabin. Chirrut pats the space next to him, not pausing in his recitations. She sits, still breathless. “I… I think I can save him this time.”

Chirrut continues his mantra.

They land safely, communications still intact.

Cassian zips up his jacket. “Where’s the research facility?”

“It’s, uh, just over the ridge.”

“Alright. Here’s what we do. Bodhi, you come with me, you’re going to get me to that ridge and walk me through all the security. Hopefully the storm keeps up and gives us cover. They don’t know we’re here, but if there are patrols, we want to get out before they find us. We go up, scout the area, and plan from there.”

“I’m coming with you,” Jyn says. She goes for her rain jacket, and is met with no arguing.

Instead, Cassian and Bodhi are waiting, and Cassian nods when she jogs over. “Baze, Chirrut, wait here, watch the ship. K-2, get out if you think there’s the remotest possibility of being caught.”

“It’s not remote,” K-2 calls after them, as they jump down to the rain.

Bodhi leads them over the ridge and to a communication center.

Cassian hands him a pair of quadnocs.

“What’s the security like?”

“Uh, moderate security. And he– he’s up there.” Bodhi hands back the quadnocs. “In the Imperial uniform, he’s just inside the platform.”

“Is he waiting for somebody?” Cassian muses.

A shiver runs through Jyn’s body. They’re here before Krennic. “If he is, we need to move that much faster.”

"I think the best way to access him would be to go from below," Cassian says.

Jyn turns on her heel, and stares at him. "What?"

He frowns. "What?" he repeats, far less high-pitched and incredulous. "Tactically, it's the best option."

“It’s less likely that they’ll see you coming, than if you went around the ridge,” Bodhi adds. After a moment, he frowns. “If we went around the ridge?”

Cassian shakes his head. “Jyn and I will go. You go back and get Baze, have him find someplace where he can provide us with coverfire on my signal. You got that?”

Bodhi nods, and he darts off.

“And now we go down, and ambush from them below. Good?”

She nods dumbly. As she follows him down the ridge, everything slowly clicks into place.

Chirrut didn’t ask Baze if he had the face of a killer. Jyn left earlier, and maybe Chirrut had just asked it to Baze and K-2. But his blaster isn’t on the sniper configuration.

The original goal on Yavin 4 was to extract her father. Whatever point came where Cassian was given different orders, it must have come while they were readying to leave. It could not have come when he had to hurry to meet her on Jedha.

His orders are to extract her father.

They reach the foot of the ladder, and she smiles at him, perhaps wider than warranted. “It’s a good thing I had you get a grappling gun, then.”

He turns to her, and gives her an incredulous – if slightly suspicious – stare. “How could you have possibly known…?”

“I don’t know what you’ve been doing these past few years, but you’d be surprised as how many times a grappling hooks has gotten me out of danger.”

He shakes his head.

“I’ll go up first–”

“And what, then throw it back down? Hope it doesn’t get damaged after a hundred foot drop? No, we go up together.” He turns around, and shoots the grappling hook up. It’s too dark and raining too hard besides to see where the hook is secured, but a few hard tugs ensure that it is secured. Cassian keeps his back turned to her, only turning his head back to say, “Wrap your arms around me.”

She wraps her arms around his neck. She’s never held him this way before. Her cheek presses against the sodden cold of his jacket. Air rushes past them as they’re pulled upwards.

It’s a long climb up, and it requires a few deployments of the grappling hook. But it’s faster than climbing, and with a much lower risk of injury.

They reach the top, Jyn climbing up first, and tossing the Stormtrooper guard over while Cassian pulls himself up.

“What’s your signal to Baze?” Jyn asks.

In reply, Cassian pulls out a grenade. “There were a few of these lying around while I was looking for the grappling gun.”

“When do we attack?”

“Not we. I attack. You follow me, provide back-up cover. We’re on the far side of the platform. We go across, grab your father, and keep going until we’re at the ridge. Got it?”

She nods.

He nods back. “Good.”

The grenade goes off, and Baze provides them cover.

An Imperial shuttle starts a descent, but Cassian lobs another grenade towards the landing pad, and the ship veers off-course and retreats.

Non-combat staff flee the landing pad, and the remaining soldiers are caught in the crossfire of four different hostiles.

Over the raucous of the battle, Cassian barks for her father to retreat to the edge of the pad.

Time slows as Jyn and Cassian make their way towards him. She wants to turn and sprint to him, but he’s safe, he’s alive, and right now she needs to keep Cassian safe and alive.

The last Stormtrooper goes down.

Cassian nods to Jyn.

She turns and sprints to her father. “Papa,” she gasps, wrapping her arms around him.

He hugs her tightly.

She breaks down crying. She hasn't held her father like this since the day she left Lah'mu. It's wonderful, her father is alive, her father is alive, her father is alive. She pulls back. "We need to get you out of here, immediately."

"I can't go, if I leave, what will happen to the rest of my men–"

"If you don't leave, what will happen to the rest of the galaxy?" Cassian asks, voice harsher than it's been. He takes a few steps in. "If any of them are defectors, if any of those engineers built in flaws, we take them."

Her father’s mouth thins, his gaze resigned. “Let’s go.”

Cassian leads the way back, and Jyn takes her father’s hand as she hurries after him. She’s barely aware of the return back to the ship, too caught up in the success and relief and disbelief of having her father’s hand in hers.

They meet up with Chirrut and Baze on the ramp to the ship, with Bodhi in the co-pilot’s seat.

“Get us out of here!” Cassian yells.

Bodhi’s familiarity has him maneuvering them mostly-smoothly through the turbulent rain and canyons.

Jyn stays in the middle of the cabin, arms around her father, unwilling to let him go and unwilling to be let go.

Turbulence has them swaying off balance, but her father tightens his grip around her as they both sink to their knees.

“My Stardust,” he murmurs against her temple. “My Stardust…”

She can feel the knock of his heartbeat against her chest, the same way he can surely feel hers.

As soon as they’re in space, and then have made the jump to lightspeed, Bodhi is scrambling out of his seat. He starts speaking a mile a minute about how glad he is that their plan worked out, gazing at her father was a naked relief.

Jyn’s felt jealousy at the idea of Bodhi and her father having a close relationship, and it flares up as her father lets her go and turns to pull Bodhi into a hug.

She stands there, clenching her fists, but pushes it out of mind. Bodhi was instrumental in the plan, he deserves the praises her father is lauding him. She’ll get him back. She has time.

In the meantime, she looks for Cassian.

He’s at the back of the cabin, taking his soaked jacket off.

She steps forward, and wraps her arms around him. His back is warm against her cheek, the wet curl of his hair cold against her forehead. She can feel the rise and fall of his chest under her hands. “Thank you.”

He pries her hands off him, steps away. “For what? I had my orders, and I followed them.”

She stills.

She’s not sure what he sees when he glances back at her, but he flinches, and then walks to the cockpit.

It stings, and it would sting more, but then her gaze catches on her father. He’s finally seated, Bodhi sitting down next to him.

Jyn sits down next to Chirrut, across from her father.

Bodhi hasn’t stopped talking. He’s begun explaining all the events that got them here, introducing Chirrut and Baze and K-2, properly introducing Cassian.His words are not always in the right order, and he repeats himself a few times, but the fear that’s always enveloped him has lessened. There’s the shine of confidence to him, a lightness to him.

Jyn feels it too.

She did it.

She saved her father.

Chirrut reaches over, and pats Jyn on the knee.

*

Draven and half a dozen soldiers meet them when they land.

“What’s he–” she starts, stepping in front of her father.

“Defector or not, your father is part of the Imperial Army,” Cassian says, words somehow flat despite the lilt of his voice. “General Draven needs to address and dismiss any security concerns.”

Her father sets a hand on her shoulder. “It’s alright, Stardust,” he says.

He leaves, and it’s by choice.

*

Mon Mothma pulls Jyn aside and takes her to her own quarters.

This is the first time she’s seen Mon Mothma this time around – this is the first time Jyn has actually been able to take a quiet moment to observe the woman. Tall and stately, dressed in an ethereal white. Even as she browsing her wardrobe, she’s poised and elegant. Beautiful as she’s always been, and her expression betrays nothing.

Jyn sits on her bed, stripped down to her underwear, shivering despite the blanket around her. “What’s going to happen now?” she asks. Her teeth aren’t chattering, but it’s a near thing. This is new, and it’s thrilling, and it’s terrifying.

“Right now, your father is recording a full confession. Once he finishes, each member of the cabinet is going to speak with him individually, before we have an official meeting. You’ll likely have a chance to speak with him before then.”

“Have you spoken to him yet?”

She shakes her head. “I’m speaking with him last. I’m speaking with you now. Before everything continues, what should I know?”

Jyn feels exposed under Mon Mothma’s scrutiny in a way that has nothing to do with her state of undress. She clutches the blanket tighter. Defenses for her father, calling him extraordinary, calling him exceptional, calling him brave, praising his sacrifice, his dedication, they all turn to dust. “He tried.” Her throat is tightening, and it’s hard to speak. “To help the Alliance. He didn’t– he could have done something different, something more, but he– he did what he could.”

A long silence stretches between them.

“That’s all any of us can do.” Mon Mothma takes two items off their hangers, folds them over her arm, and makes her way to Jyn.

Jyn stands, but doesn’t take the offered clothes. “What–” she starts. Mon Mothma has always been the one to declare that the Alliance could not move forward with Jyn’s proposal. She takes a bracing breath. “What are you going to do?”

"I'm going to do everything I can to see that we move forward to get the Death Star plans."

Warm wool is replaced by warm skin, and Jyn's hands are on Mon Mothma's neck and pulling her in for a kiss, a frantic clash of mouths and tongue and teeth. It's been so long since she's done anything like this, since she's wanted to, since she's been happy enough to. She doesn’t know what this is– gratitude, attraction, and overwhelmed combination of the two, but time stands still and she loses herself in the moment.

Mon Mothma huffs against her mouth as she pulls back. "Not the reaction I was expecting," she observes, a half-smirk of a smile on her lips.

Jyn just kisses her again. It’s ill-advised and reckless, but it’s not unwelcome. For this moment, she feels invulnerable.

Mon Mothma pulls back presses a kiss to her forehead, then sweeps out of her quarters without another word.

*

Cassian comes to get her an unfathomable amount of time later. “Your father wishes to speak with you.”

Two guards are posted on either side of the door.

Her father's hair is combed back, no longer in the bun she remembers from her childhood. His Imperial uniform is familiar though. It’s been dried and pressed, so clean it gleams a sickish white against her memory.

“They could have given you something else to wear,” Jyn tells him.

He shakes his head. “I’m sure they could, but it would be an act of cowardice to shy away from what I’ve done. I need them to know that I understand the gravity of what I’ve done.”

“I’ll be outside,” Cassian says, quietly. “I’ll get you when the meeting is about to start.”

Her father nods. “Thank you, Captain Andor.”

Cassian nods in reply, and the door closes behind him with a click.

Jyn’s immediately pulled into her father’s arms.

“Jyn… I don’t know what will happen. I’ll be taken to the Senate and tried for my crimes. Put away for a very long time, I’m sure. I don’t know how much I’ll get to see you. But Jyn… my Stardust, I am so proud of you.”

It brings tears to her eyes.

“You’re with the Rebellion.”

Her tears fall not from joy, but from shame. “I only just joined.”

He holds her tighter. “But you’re here now. You’re doing what you can.”

“I don’t know if it’s enough.” Her sobs are sudden, but not unexpected. “I think I’m too late.”

“You’re here now,” he repeats. “Doing what you can.”

Her tears taper off, and they stand silently holding each other.

It feels like hours have passed when he finally pulls away, and goes to knock at the door.

Cassian enters, looking between them with a concerned, if suspicious, expression. “Everything alright?”

“Are they ready?” her father asks.

“Almost. Just another few minutes.”

Her father nods, and turns back to her.

It’s a dismissal. It stings like a slap, sharp hurt echoing through her for a moment, but she nods. As much as she wants to spend every moment with him, he deserves his solitude.

“I’ll be outside with Captain Andor,” Jyn tells him.

Cassian closes the door behind them, and gives Jyn an unreadable look. Quietly, he asks, “Are you okay?”

She nods, not meeting his gaze.

“It’s just, that’s the first time you’ve used my title.”

“Don’t get used to it.” A beat. “Captain.”

He huffs a laugh. “I won’t.”

*

Muffled arguments cut off as the doors to the meeting room are opened, and everyone is silent as they walk in and take their places.

“My name is Galen Erso,” he says, looking around the table. “For the past twelve years, I have worked as an Imperial Army science officer, working on developing their super-weapon. The Death Star. It was already been tested on Jedha, destroying the Holy City.”

Jyn startles. She looks to Cassian. He catches her eye and gives her a small nod. She didn’t save the city. Maybe some citizens, hopefully a young girl, but she didn’t save the city.

“That was only a fraction of its full potential. It can and it will destroy planets. I could not deny them. When they came to get me, they said they… In the end, my wife was killed, and my daughter fled. I had no choice but to go with them – the project was nearly complete, but I did what I could to delay the project as long as possible. I could not prevent them from making it, but I was able to design a fatal flaw.”

He takes a deep breath, then resumes his speech.

Jyn could recite it along with him.

“The reactor module that's the key, that's the place I laid my trap. It's well-hidden and unstable. One blast to any part of it will destroy the entire station. You'll need the plans, the structural plans, for the Death Star to find the reactor. I know there's a complete engineering archive in a data box in the Citadel tower on Scarif. Any pressurized explosion to the reactor module will set off a chain reaction that will destroy the entire station within seconds.”

*

There’s more arguing than there should be.

There’s more arguing than before.

The meeting drags on.

Jyn finds it hard to keep silent.

Senator Jebel seems adamant against fighting the Death Star.

When Jyn tries to argue with him, Draven seems all too happy to cut her down, cut her off. She doesn’t get the opportunity to talk about chances and choices, to quote that rebellions are built on hope.

Instead, Cassian appears at her side. “Jyn, c’mon,” he says, cutting her off.

She turns her glare on him.

Senator Pamlo takes the break to reason between the two sides.

“You’re not helping the argument,” he says, voice low and warning.

Her mouth thins, and she lets him escort her away from the meeting. Out of the room, down one hallway, then another, and then Jyn turns on Cassian. “We need to go to Scarif–”

“And we will.”

“Does it seem like they’re heading to that decision?”

He leans in. “Regardless of what the Cabinet decides… You asked me, earlier, what I’ve done the past few years. And the answer is… everything. For the rebellion, for this cause, I have done everything, I have… I have done things I’m not proud of. After everything, after all of that, I can’t turn back now. Neither can my men. No matter what they decide, we are going to Scarif.”

“It should be an easy decision,” Jyn says, because the Alliance’s indecisiveness burns just as hot as the shame of being unable to absolve Cassian’s confession. “I thought if I brought my father, they would believe him, believe me.”

“I do.”

She stares up at him.

“I don’t know why,” he admits, with one of his rare half-smiles, “but I do. So even if the Alliance won’t act, you have numbers. You have me.”

“Saw used to say, one fighter with a sharp stick and nothing left to lose can take the day.”

“We all have something to lose.”

“Are you afraid to die?”

“Of course,” he says. It’s easy and quiet and intimate. “Aren’t you?”

Jyn’s died three times already.

Is she afraid to do it again?

She nods.

“We’ll still take the day,” he says.

“I hope so.”

He gives her a smile – a genuine smile, warm and soft. “Rebellions are built on hope.”

*

The Alliance decides to go to Scarif.

*

They don’t have an Imperial shuttle this time around.

Instead, there’s a cargo ship and an assignment.

Her, Cassian, K-2, and others are going straight for the tower. At her father’s suggestion, they are going to the less-guarded top, and will rappel down to the plans, which will be accessible by the top terminal.

Bodhi, Chirrut and Baze are assigned another ship.

“They should be with us,” Jyn tells Cassian.

“I’ll see what I can do,” he says. “Meanwhile, if you have any goodbyes, you might want to say them.” He nods to where her father is, and then takes off towards General Draven.

Jyn walks towards her father, and hangs back.

“The Imperial Army knows by now that I’ve defected,” he says in answer to her silent question. “I would only endanger the mission.”

Even if she dies on the beach, he’ll be safe. This may not be a goodbye, but it feels like one. It finally spurs her into movement, pulling him into another hug.

“My Stardust,” he says into her temple. “May the Force be with you.”

The clock is ticking down until they leave, and Jyn forces herself not to cry as she pulls away.

General Draven can’t be convinced, and Jyn jogs past the readying ships.

She surprises herself by pulling Bodhi into a hug. He startles at the contact, but then he’s squeezing her tight. “Thank you,” she tells him. After a beat, she adds, “If at any point you can steal an Imperial shuttle, do it.”

He laughs. “For maybe-last words, that’s vague, and slightly menacing–”

“Stay safe,” she tells him.

“You too.”

Chirrut’s hug is brief. “The path is clear,” is all he says, stepping back.

Baze pulls her into a hug. “May the Force of others be with you,” he murmurs against her temple.

They retreat back into their ship.

Jyn watches them board, and returns to her own.

 

*

There’s no need for a Rogue call sign.

There’s no call for a speech. But her fingertips itch, and she tells Cassian, “They have no idea we’re coming. They have no reason to expect us. If we can make it to the ground, we’ll take the next chance. And the next. On and on until we win or the chances are spent.”

*

Their ship makes it through the shield, down to the tower, and hovers beside the platform.

Jyn lets go of her kyber crystal long enough to make the leap.

The battle has started raging behind them, but Jyn only focuses on preparing for the rappel down. Her and Cassian, and others ready on standby.

Cassian hands her the grappling hook. “For luck,” he says.

She nods.

They rappel down.

Her father told them the plan name, and K2 easily accesses it.

Jyn pulls out the databox and hangs it off her belt.

Cassian relays the message.

*

Some things change, some things don’t.

The antenna is destroyed.

Cassian orders other rebels to rappel down with him and Jyn, orders K2 to pull out multiple other databoxes.

He blasts open the windows to the command center.

He takes a decoy, and has everyone do the same.

They swing their way into the center. They blast the vault door and take the guards.

Jyn runs through the base, the plans in her hands.

Rebels are shot down all around her.

Jyn makes it out to the sand. She finds Chirrut, shoves the databox into his hands. “Get this to Bodhi and get out of here.”

He doesn’t move, calm despite the blaster fire all around. “Are you giving this to me because you trust me with it, or because you want to get me off the battlefield?”

“Years don’t speak to the depth of a relationship.” She squeezes his hand, and presses a kiss to his cheek. “Go.”

“And you?” Baze asks.

It hadn’t occurred to her to leave.

Not without Cassian.

She looks to Baze and repeats, “Go.”

They go.

An Imperial cargo ship rises up from landing pad five. The shield is still up, but the ship flies up and away, away from the battle – the Alliance knows not the fire, and the Imperial Army is too occupied to deal with deserters.

K-2 must be dead by now, and the sorrow mixes with relief – this time, though, Chirrut, Baze and Bodhi have escaped their deaths.

She finds Cassian again, and relief washes through her.

The shield goes down.

The ship leaves atmo.

The plans are safe.

Her father is safe.

Chirrut, Baze and Bodhi are safe.

The relief lasts until the Death Star fills the sky.

 

*

Sand rough on her cheek and Cassian embraced and embracing her, Jyn looks to the disappearing horizon and thinks, The Force is with me, I am one with the Force. Heat lashes against her skin and it’s too bright to see. The Force is with me, I am one with the Force. She saved her father but it ended the same, what more can she do? This next chance, and the next. The Force is strong with me, I am –

Chapter Text

Jyn wakes up in her Wobani prison cell, panting and a scream dying in her throat. She startles to sitting, her breathing too loud, her blood rushing in her ears, the air suffocating her, everything–

Everything goes silent.

A drop of water hits cloth.

Jyn takes a long breath in, lets a long breath out.

*

The transport ride is long and bumpy, and each jostle breaks her concentration. She’s close, she’s on the edge of doing it right, and it’s putting her on edge.

She saved her father, she saved Chirrut and Baze, she saved Bodhi. The plans got to the Alliance.

What more can she do?

All she can.

She can save Cassian. Save K-2SO. Save herself.

How?

Keep to the last loop as closely as possible. At Scarif, have another droid assigned to stay atop the Citadel tower. Have K2 be assigned as guardian to her and Cassian. Keep Cassian with her as they flee the Citadel.

A part of her wonders if it’s that easy – but nothing about this has been easy.

The transport is stopped, three Rebels board, and Melshi starts taking off her shackles.

“Take me to see Saw Gerrera,” Jyn tells him.

Melshi stills. His eyes narrow. “Who said anything about–?”

“What other reason would the Alliance want to break me free from an Imperial labor camp?” He releases her from her shackles, and she stands, staring him down. "Take me to see him. Now."

*

“This is a bad idea,” K-2SO says. “I think so, and I am sure Captain Andor will think so too.”

“Don’t doubt it,” Melshi mutters. “But we’re under a time constraint, he can yell at us on Jedha.”

“Which part of it is a bad idea?” Jyn asks.

K-2 stares down at her for a long minute, then says, “At least you aren’t armed.”

“I hope I’ll be armed on Jedha,” Jyn says to Melshi.

“That would be even more of a bad idea.”

“Jedha’s a war-zone,” she starts.

“We’ll ask Captain Andor when we land,” Melshi interrupts. “And that’s all there is to say on the matter for now.”

*

Cassian is waiting for them on the outskirts of the city.

Quiet, curious, assessing.

Melshi jogs over to meet him, and they start talking in low tones.

The other two Rebels are on either side of her. It feels like a guard detail.

“At least Captain Andor isn’t yelling,” Jyn says.

“He very rarely yells,” K-2 replies. “When not on a mission.”

Melshi returns, and gestures for the two Rebels to follow him. With the level of Imperial occupation, the fewer Rebels – and Rebel ships – the better.

He didn’t make introductions, so she says, “Hi, I’m Jyn.”

Surprise flickers over his face, but he shakes his head. “Daughter of Galen Erso,” he says, more to himself than to her.

Jyn takes the lead as they meander through the city. “Do I get a blaster?” she asks.

“I’m not convinced you’re not a spy,” Cassian tells her.

Jyn stops.

Someone bumped into her. It’s an Aqualish, the same from before.

“Hey, you better watch it,” his friend, the human with the disfigured face, tells her.

Adrenaline has flooded her system, and she’s tempted to take the implicit invitation for a fight.

“We don’t want any trouble,” Cassian says, drawing her out of their path.

Jyn wrenches her elbow out of his grasp. “What do you mean, you’re not convinced I’m not a spy?” she asks.

Cassian crowds into her. “You know too much,” he tells her.

She tells herself not to react, but can’t help the clench of her jaw.

“You didn’t seem surprised when the Alliance came for you. Instead, you demanded to speak to Saw Gerrera. It was like you were expecting it. The question becomes, how?”

“As I told Melshi, the Alliance would have no reason to pull me out of that forsaken Wobani labor camp if they didn’t need me. All I have to offer the Alliance is my relationship with Saw. And I wasn’t surprised on that transport because I’ve learned how to mask my surprise.”

He leans in, voice dropping as he says, “You’re not doing a very good job of it right now.”

She takes her fear and channels it, hones it into indignation. “The Imperial Army took my father away from me when I was a child,” Jyn hisses. “I haven’t seen him since. What possible reason could I have to spy for them?”

“I don’t know. But I don’t know you. I don’t know what’s possible for you, what’s not.”

Her throat goes tight. “Then you’ll need to trust me.”

His gaze flicks over her face. “Where to?”

She needs to get them to Saw, but first she needs to get to Chirrut. Baze continues to be curious, she doesn’t need to add Cassian’s potential questions to the mix, especially not now, when he blatantly doesn’t trust her. “What were you going to do to find Saw if I didn’t volunteer my insight?”

“I had a potential contact. I give them your name, and see if that gets us a meeting with Saw.”

“That’s not very detailed,” she points out. Not against what he’s told her before. He’s still not convinced she’s not a spy, and she wonders if that will ever change this loop. She takes a deep breath. This will only make it worse, but she says, “Perhaps you should find them.”

His eyes narrow. “I’m not leaving you alone.”

His conviction is clear, and Jyn can’t see a way to change his mind. She sighs, and starts off to Chirrut and Baze.

“The Force is with me, I am one with the Force.”

Sand rough against her cheek–

“The Force is with me, I am one with the Force.”

Heat lashes against her skin and it’s too bright to see–

“The Force is with me, I am…”

She is going to die, she saved the others but her and Cassian still embrace on the beach and – death is approaching and she wants to scream–

“That is a very pretty necklace.”

“You alright?” Cassian asks, voice low.

Jyn walks over to Chirrut. Hoping he’ll take the hint, she asks, “How did you know I was wearing a necklace?”

Cassian is right behind her. “Jyn, we don’t have time for sightseeing.”

She glares at him, then turns back to Chirrut. “That statue outcropping to the north, how far is it?”

“Not far in a speeder,” Chirrut replies.

“Know of anyone in a speeder?”

Chirrut opens his mouth, but Baze is the one to say, “Not many want to leave the city. You’ll be hard-pressed to find one.”

“And you?”

Baze doesn’t reply, but Chirrut smiles at her.

*

Ten minutes later, at the edge of the city, Baze offers them his own newly-acquired speeder.

“Do you know them?” Cassian asks.

She turns to Chirrut and Baze. “He thinks I’m a spy for the Imperial Army.”

Baze stares at her for a long minute. “She’s not a spy,” he tells Cassian.

“I’m glad you think that,” he mutters to himself.

*

Cassian’s distrust is new and uncomfortable. It clings to her, and it puts her on edge. He’s always started out suspicious of her, and Jyn’s never minded. But this isn’t the absence of something, but an active difference. It’s a new variable she has to plan around, an obstacle of her own making.

Jyn doesn’t know where she is in the timeline. And the question burns in her as they approach – take out the guards again, or try and talk to them this time? Which would lessen Cassian’s distrust?

She takes out her baton and knocks them both out.

“Don’t kill any of his men,” Jyn says, casting them a warning glance. After a beat, she adds, “And if you can find a grappling gun, take it.”

“Are we allowed to knock them out, or is that reserved for you?” Cassian asks, more to himself than to her.

Jyn strides into the base with a familiarity borne of all the years she spent with him, borne of the times she’s done this before. "My name is Jyn Erso,” she announces. “I am here to see Saw. These three men are with me. Put them in a holding cell if you must, but no harm is going to come to them, or you will answer to Saw.”

There’s a mild uproar. A call for the guards, a call for higher ranking soldiers, everyone out of their seats going for their blasters.

“Any reason we can’t go with you to see him?” Cassian asks, fingers itching towards his blaster.

“You draw your blaster, and they’ll shoot you,” she tells him. Before she can attempt to offer any reason, he, Chirrut and Baze are taken one way, while she is shepherded another way.

She has the route to his room memorized.

"Jyn..."

She said her goodbyes last time, but sorrow still sings through her at seeing him. She forces herself not to react, and tells him, “Saw, I need you to evacuate the city.”

He moves towards her, metal clanging against metal. “That is not something I can–”

“You’re Saw Gerrera, you have a back-up plan for everything. I need you to evacuate the city.”

“What is going on–”

“What’s going on is that you abandoned me. I was sixteen when you left me alone in a bunker. And I vowed to never see you again, but I came because I need your help. I’ll explain later.” She’s telling herself not to care, but her heart thuds painfully in her chest, and emotions tighten her throat. “Are we not still friends?”

He stares at her a long minute, and then calls for a lieutenant. His shorthand codes would change every few months, guarding against if someone was to betray him, but all it means now is that Jyn doesn’t understand. “The order has been given. It will take a few minutes to go through all the contacts needed, but the evacuation will soon start.”

Knowing the other end – the fact that the Empire still destroys Jedha, may still destroy so many of its people – makes it hard to be relieved.

“Now, you explain.”

“I’ve heard from Cassian that there’s rumor of a planet killer. You’ve already put a target on your back, the Rebellion is hidden, why wouldn’t they try and test it here? Where’s the pilot’s message?”

He stares at her, expression open and switching between every emotion. “Is this… it’s a trap, isn’t it?”

Betrayal leaves her speechless, and she shakes her head.

He reaches for his respirator. “Did they send you… did you come here to–”

“This isn’t a trap, and I’m not a spy,” she snaps. She’s not here to kill him, and him thinking so hurts that much more this time around. Fighting against the tightening of her throat, she says, “I’m here to do what I can to help the Alliance. And to do that, I need my father’s message. Show it to me.”

*

The hologram message is, once again, not enough. She saved him, she saw him, and she needs to do it again.

“But Jyn, Jyn, if you're listening, my beloved. So much of my life has been wasted. I try to think of you only in the moments when I am strong because the pain of not having you, your mother, our family, the pain of that loss is so overwhelming I risk failing even now.”

Listening to the message for a fifth time, she feels the full weight of his words, feels the relatability resonate within her.

“It's just so hard not to think of you.”

It’s so hard not to think of him, not to think of how to keep him from dying.

“Think of where you are. My stardust…”

Jyn closes her eyes against the tears. At the end of the message, she goes over to the window, stares out at the city.

The Imperial Army is leaving.

She remembers her father saying that the Death Star was used on Jedha. Underneath the horror of the act, the horror that she failed, had been the curiosity of when. She remembers the Imperial Army being gone when they fled Jedha last time. The Empire must have waited to fire the Death Star once the Imperial army had pulled out.

But if they couldn’t pull their current Stormtroopers out…

“I need a way to be able to contact you,” she says. Next time – and her chest aches with the certainty there will be a next time – she will need to contact him. “A key, a code, something I can use to contact you no matter what.”

“You know I don’t have a communication code like that. It’s too great a risk.”

“I know you have a back-up plan for everything.” He looks away, and she presses, “What’s the code?”

He turns back to her. “Stardust.”

The air is knocked out of her lungs. She turns away, grabs the hologram. “Evacuate your people. I need to take this back to the Alliance.”

She needs to leave Jedha.

She needs to leave Saw.

She said her goodbyes last time.

With a bracing breath, she walks away.

*

The Holy City remains on the horizon.

(For how long?)

The Imperial ships over the city have gone.

(Readying for attack.)

A few ships are leaving atmosphere.

(But not enough.)

The U-Wing is soon one of them.

*

K-2SO is in the pilot’s chair, while Cassian is standing, waiting, at the communication center.

In the cabin sits Jyn, Chirrut, Baze and Bodhi.

“I hope you are watching,” Chirrut says, a quiet murmur. “It has been so long since we have travelled. I want to know what it looks like.”

Baze nods, not looking away.

Jyn talked to them last time. And she wonders, had Chirrut been able to intuit knowledge of the Holy City’s destruction? It makes it difficult to consider asking something more lighthearted.

Instead, she turns to Bodhi. She has no reason to be jealous of him, and she ignores the flicker of annoyance when she looks at him. “Are you okay?” she asks.

The answer is no, he is not. His breathing is ragged, and his fingers keep fidgeting. He keeps mouthing words, seemingly correcting himself mid-sentence.

She doesn’t know if they were ever officially introduced. “Hi,” she says, and it’s softer than when she said it to Cassian earlier. “I’m Jyn.”

It takes him a moment to speak. “I’m Bodhi. Bodhi Rook. I’m the pilot.”

She nods. “Thank you for delivering the message.”

“Jyn. Galen’s daughter?”

She nods. The jealousy flares back up as she asks, "You know him?"

"We met in a meal line. Lunchtime meal line. And he said– he told me– later, he..." He takes a few deep breathes. He's struggling to put himself together after whatever monstrosities Saw subjected him to. He closes his eyes. "He said... He said I could get right by myself. He said I could make it right, if I was brave enough to listen to what was in my heart. If I... was brave enough to do something about it."

It hangs in the air around them.

"Guess it was too late."

Jyn shakes her head. "It's not too late, Bodhi."

"Did you get the message?"

She startles at Cassian's voice, and turns towards him. She reaches into her pocket and pulls it out, holds it up.

Cassian's gaze flicks over to it. Then to Bodhi, and he asks, "Did you ever see it?"

Bodhi shakes his head. "What does it tell?" A beat. "What does it say?"

"It's called the Death Star. And my father built a flaw into the system. One hit to the reactor, the module, whole system goes down."

Cassian nods. "Hold onto that," he says, and it's almost reluctant.

“Don’t you want it so you can send it to the Alliance?”

“Send the message to the Alliance? We’re in the heart of Imperial territory, it’s too dangerous.”

"But we're still going to find him, and bring him back, right?"

"Of course."

Relief spreads through her.

Cassian turns towards his station, pulling on headphones. He speaks in a low murmur she can’t make out.

Jyn hadn’t necessarily timed him last time, but his time at the station seems to stretch on.

Aware of his audience, he turns to address them all. “We should arrive at Eadu soon. Take the time to rest.” He turns to Bodhi. “I’ll call for you when we near the planet.”

*

Jyn follows Bodhi to the cockpit, lurching against him as they hit atmo.

Bodhi starts giving them details on where the research facility is, while arguing with K-2 and Cassian about the descent.

“Now! Put it down now!” Bodhi yells.

“Pull up,” Jyn says.

Cassian snaps, “I don’t need two people telling me how to–”

“Pull up!”

“Watch out!” Bodhi yells.

They clip the ledge.

Jyn staggers back.

Chirrut is still chanting. He takes her hand, and tugs her down to sitting.

Horror and disbelief flood her. She has a bad feeling about this. Even Chirrut squeezing her hand doesn’t help. It grounds her, but that only serves as a reminder that this is real. This isn’t a nightmare, no matter how much it feels like it.

Cassian zips up his jacket. “Where’s the research facility?” he asks Bodhi, words short and brisk.

“It’s, uh, just over the ridge.”

“Alright. Here’s what we do. Bodhi, you come with me, you’re going to get me to that ridge and walk me through all the security. Hopefully the storm keeps up and gives us cover. They don’t know we’re here, but if there are patrols, we want to get out before they find us. We go up, scout the area, get a handle on what we’re up against, and plan from there.”

“I’m coming with you,” Jyn says.

“No.”

“I can help–”

“You’ve helped enough,” he snaps.

Jyn rocks back. “You’re not blaming me for the crash-landing are you? That wasn’t my fault, I–”

“You’re the messenger.”

“We all heard the message.”

“One hit to the reactor, and the whole system goes down. That’s how you said it, right? The whole system–”

“K-2,” he snaps. “Work on getting the comms back up. And you – you have the message, your job is to get that message back to the Alliance.”

“My job was to arrange a meeting–”

“And now I’m saying your job is to get that message back to the Alliance. If I need your help, I will ask for it.” He turns to Bodhi. “Let’s get out of here.”

The rain gets louder in their absence.

A thought occurs to Jyn, and she has difficulty breathing. “Does he have the face of a killer?”

Baze shakes his head. “He has the face of a friend.”

Jyn turns to Chirrut, waiting.

His mouth turns down into a frown. “The Force moves darkly around a creature that’s about to kill,” he recites.

K-2 takes his cue to add, “His weapon was in the sniper configuration.”

Jyn grabs the grappling gun and runs.

*

It doesn’t occur to her until she’s at the shuttle depot that she forgot to grab a rain jacket. But she’s made it this far, she can’t afford to waste time by going back. Her clothes will dry back on Yavin 4, getting to her father is more important than her discomfort.

To keep from dwelling on her discomfort, she thinks about Cassian’s orders. She asked if they were going to extract her father. When he said of course, it hadn’t felt like a lie. But she trusts Chirrut, trusts him sensing the Force moving darkly around a creature about to kill.

She thinks of him spending longer at the communication center while on route to Eadu. Cassian had wondered if she were a spy. Had he relayed his fear to Draven? Had Draven changed the orders then? Not two minutes after he reassured they were going to extract her father.  Anger flares through her, and her hands shake as she deploys the grappling hook again. It’s all her fault. In her desperation to move quicker, she got reckless, she drew suspicion to herself. She had been cautious, during the first loop, of staying within Cassian’s expectations of the interrogation. She had trusted Cassian, and expected him to do the same. He hadn’t. But she let herself be overcome by the possibility, blinded by it.

She reaches the top, and tosses the Stormtrooper guard aside. She’s at the far end of the platform – Cassian isn’t with her, Baze isn’t covering them, but the principle stays the same. She needs to get to the ridge.

Krennic’s Imperial shuttle appears.

And then the Alliance arrives.

*

When Cassian comes to retrieve her, she is crying harder than she’s ever cried before. Her father is half onto her lap, half cradled in her embrace. “Jyn,” he says against her temple, his body wrapping around her as he–

“No.”

“Jyn,” he repeats, firmer, his fingers over hers. “We need to–”

No!

He pries her paralyzed fingers off her father’s body – dead body, he’s dead – and pulls her up and away. “We need to go.”

Her father’s body – dead body, he’s dead, he’s dead – slumps to the ground, and Jyn can’t stop screaming.

He drags her away.

*

She shivers in the cargo bay of the stolen Imperial shuttle. By the time they hit atmo, she’s stopped crying. Or so she thinks. The only way she could tell was that her tears were hot against the cold of the rain. Now she’s just cold.

The others are giving her space. Chirrut, Baze and Bodhi sneak glances at her.

Cassian doesn’t look at her.

“Why aren’t you happy?” she asks.

Cassian turns to her. Confusion flickers over his face.

Towards the end, she thinks he liked her. Four times now, they’ve been on the beach together. His hand held hers. They held each other and faced death. And she trusts him because of it.

But for all his worry about her being a spy, he is a spy. It’s made him generous in suspicion and a miser in trust. And she made the mistake of expecting him to trust her.

And now…

“You were sent to kill Galen Erso, and now he’s dead.”

His expression shuts down.

“So why aren’t you happy?”

“You’re in shock,” he says, voice void of emotion. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“I do. And so do they.”

“You're in shock, and looking for some place to put it. I've seen it before.”

It draws an ugly laugh from her. “I know,” she says, and it comes out almost as raw as it feels. “You lied to us about why we came here, and you lied about why you went up alone.”

“I had every chance–”

“You had a choice,” she snaps. “But you lied to us–”

“I disobeyed–”

“All the while going along with orders that were wrong, that put us all at risk, that–”

“I didn’t pull the trigger!” he yells. His voice grows even louder and he continues, “I had every chance, but–”

“But you might as well have,” she says, with the same sick satisfaction as the first time she said it. “Those were Alliance bombs that killed him. There was a chance to get him to the Alliance alive, and you ruined it.”

“I had orders–”

“Orders to kill an Imperial defector. Congratulations, I’m sure any Imperial security officer would be grateful for your aid. What defector would you like to kill next? Bodhi is–”

He’s in her space before she can blink. “What do you know?” he asks, his voice rougher than it’s ever been. “You were at Saw Gerrera’s side, one of his best warriors, and you walked away. You decided you could walk away from this war, but not all of us could make that choice. Some of us kept fighting, kept doing what we could to keep the Imperial Army at bay. You want to talk about aiding the Imperial Army?”

Cassian slides a blaster into her hand.

“You pull the trigger first.”

Jyn can’t speak.

He steps back, and then he’s gone, footsteps ringing on the ladder up to the cockpit.

The blaster clatters to the ground.

*

Her clothes don’t seem dry to as well as they have.

*

She has the hologram.

They still don’t believe her.

She argues.

Senator Jebel argues back.

Saw once told her she’s only convincing with her fists.

Draven personally escorts her to a holding cell.

*

Cassian appears at her cell.

“Took you long enough,” Jyn says. Despite her relief, it comes out harsher than intended.

“After everything I’ve done… I wouldn’t be able to look myself in the mirror if I gave up now.”

She nods. “I know. Now get me out of here, if we want to get to Scarif–”

He shakes his head.

She stares. “What?”

“We’re going to Scarif. You’re just not going with us.”

Her body goes numb. It takes a moment to find her voice, to ask, “What?”

“I’ve been in this fight since I was six years old,” he says, and for the first time, it’s not angry. It’s sad. “Some of us were older, some of us were younger. I have a good dozen soldiers willing to go to Scarif with me, along with Bodhi, Chirrut and Baze. And each of us… we all lost something to the Empire. Some of us lost everything. And we made the choice to fight. You… you kept your head down.”

“And you don’t know the shame I feel for that,” she says through her teeth. It’s hot in her belly and her cheeks and stinging against her eyes. “But I’ve made that choice now, and I need to go to Scarif with you.”

He shakes his head again.

Jyn could reach through the bars to grab his shirt, to grab his shoulders, to shake him. She just clenches the bars tighter. “Cassian, you need to trust me!”

“Trust you?” he echoes. “You said trust goes both ways, but you don’t trust me. Why should I trust you?”

“I trust you–”

“No. Say it all you want, pretend to yourself that you do, but you don’t trust me.” He takes a step back, and another. “Jebel will drop his charges. You’ll get your freedom.”

“Cassian–!”

Then he’s gone.

*

And she wonders – what if this it?

What if this is the time everyone is saved?

What if it was her involvement that ruined everything?

*

Alarms sound.

The Death Star is orbiting the planet Yavin.

There’s only fifteen minutes before it’s within range.

*

Jyn sits in the corner of her cell, arms wrapped around her knees. The Force is with me, I am one with the Force. The Force is with me, I am one with the Force. The Force is with me, I am –

Chapter Text

Jyn wakes up, heart pounding, the memories of dust in her lungs. She sits up and swings her legs over the bed, coughing so hard she feels like she's going to throw up.

In idle moments, she's considered the many times in when she's messed up. She's never allowed herself to dwell on it longer than needed to improve from it.

But all she can think is that Saw was right. Her temper got her into trouble.

It sits hot and painful in her belly, not just that Saw was right, but–

–she was wrong.

Jyn was so wrong.

Frustration and shame sting her eyes. After saving her father, saving Chirrut and Baze and Bodhi, she got arrogant. And it ruined her.

It ruined everything.

She pushed too hard, and Cassian responded as he should have responded. And she…

She hurt him. She lashed out, she hurt him, and, in that moment returning from Eadu, she wanted to hurt him.

Because… because Cassian was right. He knew her, he understood her in a way that she barely knows herself. Every cutting remark of his, they hurt because Jyn knew they were true.

Self-preservation isn't cowardice, but what she was doing wasn't only self-preservation. As Cassian has pointed out in their arguments, some people decided to do something about all they've done. Some people decided to do more than retreat and turn their backs and lower their heads.

But she’s been given this chance to do better.

On and on until she does it right, or her chances are spent.

*

The transport ride stretches on for what feels like forever.

The transport is stopped, three Rebels board, and Melshi makes his way over to her. “Want to get out here?”

They expect her to be suspicious, so she does her best to broadcast that, even as she nods.

*

The humid air of Yavin 4 wraps around her as soon as she steps down from the U-Wing. It’s too warm and cloying, and she hates this moon even more for dying on it. Tapping into that anger makes it easier to become the suspicious person the expect. She keeps her jaw clenched and eyes narrowed into a wary glare.

“You’re currently calling yourself Liana Hallik, is that correct?”

It feels like it’s been a very long time since she’s been Liana.

“Possession of unsanctioned weapons, forgery of Imperial documents, aggravated assault, escape from custody, resisting arrest.”

Jyn keeps her eyes on Draven. As much as she hates him, better to stare at him than look to the left, where she knows Cassian is standing, bathed in teal light.

"Imagine if the Imperial Army knew who you really were," Draven drawls. "Jyn Erso."

It's an accusation she’s enjoyed not sitting through.

She glares at him until he’s done speaking, and turns to Mon Mothma. “What is this?”

“It’s a chance for you to make a fresh start. We think you might be able to help us. This is Captain Cassian Andor, Rebel Intelligence.”

Cassian strides over, arms crossed, stepping outside her striking range.

There is no relief in seeing Cassian this time, only a deep shame. His gaze is sharp and assessing. Jyn is the first to look away.

“When was the last time you were in contact with your father?”

It was Alliance bombs that killed him, and Jyn refuses to let go of that injustice. For all Cassian said, for for all he rightly called her out on, it was the Alliance that killed her father. “A long time ago. Why?”

“Any idea where he’s been all that time?”

Jyn looks at Cassian. Her chest feels hollow, and she tries to scrape together some reluctance or indignance. Something that won’t give him a reason to distrust her. “You’re the intelligence officer. You tell me.”

His mouth thins for a moment. "When was the last time you were in contact with Saw Gerrera?"

"Years ago.” Jyn is afraid to deviate, afraid of appearing too willing, afraid of once more garnering his distrust, but there’s lives at risk. She takes in a deep breath. “But I have a way to contact him."

Cassian raises his eyebrows. "You do?"

Jyn nods. "There's a communication code I know– no matter where he is, no matter what part of the galaxy he’s in, I'll always be able to get through to him."

"Gerrera is meticulous about keeping himself transient," comes Draven's voice. "In all the time we worked with him, he didn't keep anything unchanged for the amount of time you've been in prison."

"He always has a back-up plan," Jyn says.

"And you?" Cassian asks.

She forces herself not to flinch. “Not always.” She thinks back to the first few attempts. “But you’re all rebels, aren’t you? Can’t you contact him on your own?”

“Saw Gerrera’s extremist views led to a certain parting of ways. His… militancy has caused the Alliance a great many problems. We have no choice now but to mend that broken trust.”

“What does this have to do with my father?”

Draven looks to Mon Mothma.

Mon Mothma looks to Cassian. She nods.

Cassian explains, “There’s an Imperial defector on Jedha. A pilot. He’s being held by Saw Gerrera. He’s claiming the Emperor is creating a weapon with the power to destroy entire planets. The pilot says he was sent by your father.”

“We need to stop this weapon before it is finished,” Mon Mothma says.

“Captain Andor’s mission is to authenticate the pilot’s story and then if possible, find your father.”

“It appears he’s critical to the development of this… super weapon. Given the gravity of the situation, and your history we Saw, we’re hoping that he’ll help locate your father and return him to the Senate for testimony.”

The conversation has played out, each saying their part. They turn to Jyn, waiting.

“Did the pilot seek out Saw?” she asks.

Another exchange of glances and nods, and then Cassian says, “So the claim goes.”

“If an Imperial pilot was able to find Saw, there’s no doubt the entire Imperial Army knows where he is. Before we go to Jedha– presuming that you take me with you,” she adds, quickly, “I want to talk to him first.”

*

She's led to the bank of communication centers.

Communications has never been her strong point – everyone is doing their job, she doesn't know who is doing what, or what the job entails. Saw never relied much on technology so much as he could help it.

"What's the code?" Draven asks.

Jyn swallows. "Stardust."

The screen stays a snowy black and white.

Suspicious looks are sent her way.

Saw would not be so cruel.

And then there's an image – the now-familiar background of the cave.

Saw walks into frame, and sits down. "Jyn?" he asks, voice raspier over the connection. "Is that really you?"

"Hello, Saw," Jyn says. She clears her throat. "The Imperial pilot that defected– have you met him yet?"

Saw doesn't answer.

"Have you met the pilot yet?" she repeats.

On her left, Cassian is restless, obviously unhappy with her interrogation technique.

"He was brought to me this morning," Saw relents.

"Have you questioned him? Hurt him? Tried any of your unconventional methods?"

"I have not yet talked to him."

Bodhi is safe. She can't know his name, and she reminds herself of that as she says, "Don't hurt him. Or harm him. Or do anything… extreme. We need him in his right mind if he’s to help us."

"We? Us? Who is this us, Jyn?"

"Hello, Saw," comes Mon Mothma's voice, and she steps beside Jyn.

The feed cuts off.

"That was rude," she remarks, coolly. “But not entirely unexpected.”

"Contact him again," Jyn tells the comms officer.

While they work, Jyn becomes hyper-aware of Mon Mothma next to her. Jyn stares at her. Poised and elegant as always. There’s a gravity to her, one that Jyn’s fallen into before, one that Jyn could fall into again.

Mon Mothma meets her gaze evenly, mouth curving into a half-smile.

Saw reappears.

Jyn opens her mouth to speak, but he beats her to it.

"You're with the Alliance now?" Saw asks.

All eyes are on her. "It's what you've always wanted, isn't it?" she deflects.

"How long have you been with them?"

"A couple of hours. But I... it's been some time that I decided I would fight with the Alliance, if given the chance. I've been given this chance, and I'm doing what I can."

To her right, Mon Mothma seems pleased.

To her left, Cassian does not react.

"Listen, Saw, you need to cancel the attack you have planned. And don't ask me how I know this– there are a few Alliance Rebels on Jedha, they've been describing how you've been acting, I know your methods, I know you have something planned. Don't do it. Instead, take Stormtroopers hostage."

"We don't take hostages, Jyn," Saw says, voice the sharpest it's ever been.

It hits her like a slap, but she presses on. "They have a planet-killer, Saw. There's a chance they may be planning to destroy Jedha, but they won't do it with Stormtroopers still down there. A few are disposable, but if you take down a squadron, they will seek to retrieve them before testing the weapon."

“You ask too much of me.”

The screen goes blank.

Another call is made, and another, but he doesn’t pick up.

Her stomach feel leaden. This was her back-up plan, and she thought it was a good back-up plan. But if she can’t convince Saw…

“How did you know we had rebels stationed in Jedha?” Cassian asks, taking a few steps in closer to her.

Jyn didn’t think they did. He’s testing her, then. She shrugs. “I guessed. Just like I guessed that he would have an attack planned. He always had an attack planned.” It comes out more bitter than she expected.

But it assuages Cassian, and he nods her. And gestures for her to follow him.

*

Before they leave, Draven summons Cassian over.

Jyn wants to ask him not to go, and the fact she can’t burns. She ignores it, and climbs into the U-Wing.

Waiting at the communication center, as always, is K-2. “I’m K-2SO,” he introduces. “I’m a reprogrammed Imperial droid.” After no reaction, he continues, “I see the Council is sending you with us to Jedha.”

“Apparently so.”

“This is a bad idea. I think so, and so does Cassian.”

She takes a centering breath, and turns to the droid. “And what are you?” she asks. “Some sort of strategy droid?”

“No.”

Jyn blinks.

“I am a protocol droid. Cassian needed someone with less qualifications than a freelance prisoner, so he invited me.”

Jyn barks out a laugh. She slaps a hand to smother her laughter, but her shoulders shake with it. She can’t remember the last time she laughed.

“I see you’ve met K-2.”

Cassian is back from receiving orders to kill her father.

She is basically alone with Cassian for the first time since the holding cell.

Shame flares through her as he passes to the cockpit, but she retains enough humor to say, “He’s very charming.”

“He tends to say whatever comes into his circuits. It’s a byproduct of the reprogramming.”

On cue, K-2 asks, “Why does she get a blaster and I don’t?”

Cassian turns back to her. “Where did you get that?”

“A protocol droid just handed it to me.”

“I find that answer unlikely and the deflection suspicious,” K-2 says, while Cassian just frowns.

She moves slowly, twirling the blaster so the handle is extended to Cassian. “Trust goes both ways,” she tells him. “I want this back when we land on Jedha.”

*

They are nearing Jedha when Jyn catches Cassian looking at her.

She’s afraid of the answer she’s going to get, but she forces herself to ask, “What?”

“You’re not what I expected,” he tells her.

Her pulse picks up. She needs to play to his expectations. She can’t face the idea of failing so soon, so she says, “Well, neither are you.”

He frowns. “How could you tell?”

“How could you?”

“I had intel. You just made very quick assumptions.”

Jyn keeps from snorting. “You had intel on me?”

“Reckless. Aggressive. Undisciplined.”

He’s not wrong. “And do you think of me now?”

“I think you’re scared.”

“Scared?” she repeats.

He nods. “Scared of what the Empire could do to you. Scared of what the Empire could do to those you care about. Scared that what you’re doing for the Alliance isn’t enough.”

Jyn clenches her jaw. “And you’re not?”

“Of course I am.” He turns back to piloting. “We all are.”

*

They come out of atmo.

Cassian swerves to avoid hitting an incoming ship, and then another.

Ship after ship after ship fly past them.

“They’re leaving,” Jyn murmurs. They’re evacuating.

“I guess you weren’t asking too much of Saw Gerrera after all,” Cassian replies.

They land on the outskirts of the city, and Jyn frowns as she looks at it.

“Is something wrong?” Cassian asks, matching her frown.

“Yes. But I don’t know what.”

"K-2, we're going to need you in the air. We go in, find Saw, and you get us out immediately."

“I will wait for your summon,” K-2 tells him, before returning to the ship.

Jedha is not a warzone.

Not like it has been.

It's too still.

Like one of the old horror holos that some of Saw’s rebels used to watch during rare bits of down time. The streets are empty of life, empty of bartering and shopping and pickpocketing and laughing. Doors and windows Jyn never realized were open are boarded shut.

The still is defined when it’s broken – the shuffle of feet as civilians scuttle from one alleyway to the next, the distant clack of Stormtrooper armor as they jog in pairs and quads.

Distant blaster fire has Cassian pulling Jyn into an alleyway and pressing her into an arched doorway.

Between the civilians evacuating and the Stormtroopers not, the Empire must know something is wrong. She has to find Chirrut immediately. "We should split up."

Cassian looks down at her, brows knitting together. "We should not split up."

"We can blend in as civilians easier if we're split up,” she says, hurriedly. “One person travelling alone has more reason to keep looking over their shoulder than two. Besides, we can cover more ground this way. All Saw's rebels have comms. Find one, tell them all to be on the lookout for me, and I do the same."

He’s weighing it over.

He’s still pressed against her.

It’s been awhile since they last shared air.

“Cassian…” she says, scarcely more than a whisper.

He steps back. “The moment you feel like things are going wrong, find me. I’ll take the east side, you take the west.”

She nods. “Whatever you do, don’t kill any of Saw’s rebels.”

A shadow passes over his face.

“When you find one, tell them you’re one of the old guard, or that you’re a friend of mine.”

He nods, and then he’s gone.

She goes to search for Chirrut and Baze.

*

She finds them in the courtyard where they’ve previously found her. No Stormtroopers this time, though, just Chirrut sitting on the steps, Baze sitting behind him.

A deep breath in, and a deep breath out. Her throat feels rough as sand as she walks over to Chirrut. “Are you surprised when you wake up?”

His head tilts to the side.

Jyn looks up towards Baze, and starts, “Does he seem–” surprised when he wakes up? You two are inseparable, you would know if something was different.

It sinks in.

You two are inseparable.

He’s asked questions, but he–

Jyn frowns. "You're a Guardian of the Whill.”

"Was."

"Like how Chirrut was a Guardian of the Whill."

“Is,” Chirrut corrects, while Baze nods.

She turns to Chirrut. “There are no Jedi left, but there’s still… sensitivity, and awareness. You’ve implied this has to do with kyber crystals. I’ve scarcely taken off my necklace since my mother died. You’ve been living at a temple with kyber crystals for more than twenty years.”

Chirrut is still.

Jyn turns back to Baze. “And you’ve been with him. You should…”

He doesn't reply.

Chirrut turns to face him.

In the distance, a grenade blasts. The city is dissolving into chaos around them.

The air is crackling with tension, and Jyn shifts weight from foot to foot.

Voice soft, Chirrut says, “Go. We will…”

She’s all too glad to take a few steps back. "You know what to do," she calls over her shoulder as she sprints off.

*

There are less and less civilians.

Less and less Stormtroopers.

Jyn’s not sure if it’s their death, their capture, or their own evacuation, but Jyn has a bad feeling about this. Death is an after-image when she closes her eyes.

Chirrut will find her, he always does. For now, she needs to continue the mission.

Jyn spots a rebel, darting across an alleyway, a familiar figure tagging behind them. She pushes herself to run faster, and intercepts them a street later. Her hands go up before the rebel can raise his blaster. "My name is Jyn Erso.”

He nods, and pulls up his comm. "We've found Erso. Heading to third drop." To her and Bodhi, he adds, “Follow me.” And then they're off, jogging.

"Where are we going?" Bodhi hisses.

Jyn hangs back back just enough that she’s side-by-side with him. “Nowhere special, just somewhere out of sight.”

They duck into an alleyway.

Another rebel comes up. He shoves something into Jyn's hands, and then he's off running again.

She looks down. It’s the holodisk.

"I still don't see why I couldn't hold onto it," Bodhi mutters.

"Providence," the rebel says. "Now both of you, go."

"You need to take us to Saw," Jyn tells him.

He shakes his head. "Saw has ordered we evacuation as soon as this hand-off occurred. You found your way to Jedha, you can find your way off.”

"I don't– I need to see Saw," Jyn says.

"He's kind of terrifying," Bodhi says, from behind her.

Jyn scarcely hears it. She won't see Saw, and the knowledge makes the world spin. As the rebel starts off, she takes a few steps after him. “Wait–”

He stares at her impatiently.

She wants to make him take her to Saw. It was always a goodbye, but she got to see him first, she got to see him alive, no matter how brief – but perhaps this is the price to pay to get it right. She steels herself. "If any of you see Captain Cassian Andor, or the Guardians of the Whills, tell them to meet us in the southern border."

The rebel nods, and he takes off.

"Bodhi," he says from behind her. "Bodhi Rook."

Jyn shakes her hand. "Jyn Erso. Now run."

His fingers lace with hers before she can let go of his hand. She squeezes his hand.

They start running.

*

There's more and more blaster fire.

More and more noise.

There’s the crunch of approaching footsteps, and Jyn reaches for her baton before fingers wrap around her wrist.

“Splitting up was a bad idea,” Cassian tells her.

“Wasn’t for me.” She tugs her wrist out of Cassian’s grasp, then takes a step back from where she had been guarding Bodhi. "Bodhi, Cassian. Cassian, Bodhi."

They meet up with Chirrut and Baze as they near the southern edge of the city, but not as close as Jyn would like.

"There are still Stormtroopers out, we pose a target as a group this big," she hisses.

"Too late," Cassian mutters. "I lead, you bring up the rear. Bodhi, you stay close to me. Got it?" He waits for Bodhi's and Jyn's nods before he darts off.

Bodhi gives a small yelp and then starts after him.

It feels like they’re making slow progress, but Jyn soon recognizes buildings near the edge of the city.

Baze stops, and Chirrut stops after him.

Ahead of them, Cassian and Bodhi keep jogging.

Jyn slows down as she approaches. "What's wrong?" she asks, voice pitched low. "We need to go."

But it doesn't seem either of them heard, they seem to be in a silent argument with each other.

Jyn shifts from foot to foot. The thick tension from earlier has returned, and she can’t find her voice. Wouldn’t even know what to say if she could speak.

"Baze–" Chirrut says.

Jyn doesn't think she's ever heard him say his name, and if she has, not like that. There's something unfamiliar, something she hasn't heard– something vulnerable.

Something sad.

Something broken.

"Go," Baze says.

Chirrut stays still for a long minute.

Jyn feels more than she hears Cassian's yelling for them to hurry up.

Chirrut turns on his heel and continues on.

"What's going on?" she asks.

Baze rests a hand on her shoulder. "Take care of him, little sister."

She frowns. "What?"

He turns his head towards the Holy City. "I have spent my time wondering what could be done. I don't have all the answers. But I can help with the evacuations. I have contacts. I have people who owe me favors. I can see that no civilians are left on Jedha when the Death Star arrives."

"But after that– you’ll meet us on Yavin 4."

He shakes his head. "I want to see if there are other elements I can change."

"But what about Chirrut?"

He gives her a hard look, but doesn't comment.

"You're leaving him?"

Baze takes a step in. "I have held him in my arms as he lay dying five times now," he says, voice low. "I do not think I can stand to lose him again." He bends down, presses a kiss to her brow.

“Baze–”

“May the Force be with us.”

And then he’s gone.

Jyn stares after him, but returns to the rest of them – Rogue One, already down one.

*

Bodhi is up in the cockpit, standing between K-2 and Cassian, arguing routes and calculations with them.

Chirrut is silent.

Jyn opens her mouth a few times, but can’t think of what to say. She goes over to sit by him, puts her hand on his knee. All the times he’s done it for her has been a comfort, she only hopes she can comfort him as well.

“All the times I spoke to him about it…”

She squeezes his knee.

“It bothered him,” he says, softly, equal parts amazed and heartbroken, “because he knew it was true.”

The revelation is still fresh, small moments taking on second meanings. Back in the beginning, that first loop after death, he had been suspicious of Jyn’s approach – playing to her expectations just like Jyn was doing to the rebels. "So Baze knew this entire time, and he just..."

“That first morning, waking back up on Jedha, I told him what happened. I told him that the Force brought me back, as, in my last moments, I was praying to the Force."

"Me too," Jyn murmurs. “Was Baze?”

"He renounced his faith long ago. But I suppose..."

Pain flickers over his face.

“Chirrut?”

He's quiet for a long minute.

Jyn presses in. "You suppose what?"

Chirrut shakes his head. His hand goes over hers. "I am not going to ask you about your final moments before your death. I would like it if you would not ask me about mine."

"I'd tell you if you wanted to know," Jyn says. She's not trying to convince him, but offer what she has.

He pats her hand. "I know. But for all the relationships you and Cassian have had, you have only known each other for a short amount of time. Baze and I…”

Had many relationships, over a long stretch of time, with a depth Jyn could never understand.

"Dying in his arms…" he starts, scarcely above a whisper, but shakes his head.

The pain on his face is nothing Jyn can fix, but perhaps she can distance him from it. “I’ve only held Cassian four times. I don’t know if holding him that fifth time would have been a breaking point for me–” like it was with Baze “–or if it hurts more to know that I wasn’t there this last time.”

“He went to see you before we left for Scarif. He was quite upset when he came back.”

Jyn winces at the memory. “The way I spoke to him… he had every right to be.”

“I tried to convince him to bring you, but he could not be convinced.”

Jyn gave him no reason to be. She shakes her head. “The Death Star plans, they’re called Stardust. And without me, they couldn’t’ve known that. What happened on Scarif?”

He gives her a grim smile. “What has always happened on Scarif.”

Death. Destruction. “But how did the Empire find out that the Alliance was on Yavin 4?”

“Some Rebel soldiers were taken as prisoners.”

Jyn closes her eyes and fills in the blanks. Some Rebel soldiers were taken as prisoners, and some of them were tortured for information.

It sits heavy in the silence between them.

Jyn lets out a long sigh. “What do we do now?”

“I sit here and continue to pray. And you know what you must do.”

Jyn does.

Cassian turns at the sound of her approach. "Did you get your father’s message?"

Jyn holds up the holodisk.

“Do you know what it says?”

Jyn has the message memorized, but she turns to Bodhi.

Bodhi shakes his head. “All Galen said was it was vital the Alliance gets it.”

“He’s an engineer. He may give us a way to destroy the– the planet-killer he created.” She forges on. “Do you think it would be enough to sway the Council?”

Cassian’s reply is a grim expression. "Bodhi, where were you stationed?"

"Eadu."

"Then we go to Eadu."

"Can you pilot?" Jyn asks Bodhi.

Both turn to look at her.

“Yeah,” Bodhi says, slowly, “of course I can.”

“I can–” Cassian starts.

“I need to talk to you,” Jyn tells him. Her pulse picks up, heart thumping painfully in her chest.

“What?” he asks. It’s not a snap, but she gets the distinct impression he’s not happy.

She draws herself up. “Captain Andor, I’d like to talk with you.”

His shoulders tense.

She knows him well enough by now – knows his body language well enough by now – to know that she’s startled him.

But despite the fact he’s startled, he’s… concerned.

She leads him to the back of the U-Wing, passing a chanting Chirrut. She sits, and Cassian sits next to her. She knows what she needs to say, and it aches in her chest.

Finally, Cassian asks, “What was it you wanted to talk about?”

“I’ve done this before.”

“Done what before?”

“This is the… this is not the first time we’ve flown to Eadu.”

Cassian’s frown deepens. “What do you mean?”

“I’ve done this before,” she repeats, and her voice breaks. Her mind has shied away from it, but she has died five times, she’s failed five times. “I don’t know what’s going on, but somehow, I’ve been given the chance to do it all again. To do it better.”

“I don’t…” he starts.

“You believe me,” she says, voice soft. “You’ve told me that four times now.”

He shakes his head. “What you’re saying, it’s not possible.”

“I’d say the same thing if our positions were switched. The first loop, I was convinced it wasn’t real. Kept trying to convince myself that it wasn’t real. Up until we got to Jedha. Chirrut referenced what happened the first time, and I realized it wasn’t just me. You can go ask him, he remembers all the attempts. And so did Baze, but…”

“Who’s Baze?”

“He’s Chirrut’s partner. They were both Guardians of the Whills. He stayed behind. He knows what happens, and he… he decided to try a different route.”

Cassian stares at her for a long minute. “Let’s say what you’re saying is true. What happens next?”

“We arrive on Eadu. Usually crashland. When we do, the Alliance sends a squadron. They’re under Draven’s orders, not Mon Mothma’s, and they bomb the facility, killing– killing my father. We saved him, once. We were able to convince the Alliance to go to Scarif. It’s where the Death Star plans are archived. And we transmit the plans.”

“And?”

“Then we all die.”

He’s silent. “Have you told me this before?”

She shakes her head.

“Why not?”

“Because I didn’t trust you,” she says, voice breaking. “I thought I did, but I… I didn’t. And you could tell. And you told me. So here I am… telling you.”

“That this is a suicide mission. We all die, and you relive it.”

She nods.

“How many times?”

She shakes her head.

“How many times?”

“Don’t ask me that,” Jyn says. “Please, please don’t…”

His voice goes low as he tells her, “I have a right to know.”

She wipes away the tears that are stinging at her eyes.

“Jyn,” he presses. “How many times?”

“Five.” She closes her eyes. “Five times. This is the– sixth.”

“You said that I told you I believe you four times.”

Jyn looks away. “Last time, I… I was trying to go too fast, and you’re a spy, you were suspicious of me, you were not convinced I wasn’t a spy, and I never gave you a reason to trust me. And in the end, you– I lashed out, and I said… awful, awful things to you. I’m so sorry, Cassian.”

He frowns. “Did you not apologize to me then?”

“I was locked in a cell before I could. No,” she corrects, shaking her head. “You came to see me. And I didn’t apologize. I was so caught up in myself, as I’ve always–” She grinds the heels of her palms against her eyes.

Cassian lets out a sigh. “Well I know now,” he says.

“And now you wish you didn’t, because knowing the potential for the path ahead makes each decision harder, because you don’t want it to be the one wrong decision that ruins everything.”

He spends a long minute staring at her. “Are you okay?”

Jyn’s bottom lip quivers, and she covers her mouth in her hand to hide it. Tears well in her eyes, but she’s made it this far without crying, she’s not going to break down now. She takes a few moments to get her breathing under control. “If we save my father, then I might be okay.”

After a long moment, he stands up. “Then we save your father.”

“I know Draven gave you orders to kill him,” she tells him.

“I know,” he echoes, and goes to the cockpit.

*

Hand clenched around her mother’s kyber crystal, she tells Cassian when to pull up.

They don’t hit the ledge.

They land safely, though the communications system is out.

“K-2, you work on getting the system back up. Bodhi, Chirrut, you stay with the ship.”

“I could come with you,” Bodhi volunteers. “Show you where to go.”

Cassian shakes his head. “No, the Alliance already had a copy of the layout.”

“Can you get an Imperial cargo ship?” Jyn asks.

He blinks. “Uh, yeah, the depot is just over the ridge.” Both he and Cassian stare at Jyn, waiting for an explanation.

“Think about it– if we can get an Imperial shuttle, it might be useful later on.”

“Is it going to be guarded?” Cassian asks, looking between the two of them.

Jyn really doesn’t know, but thankfully Bodhi says, “It shouldn’t be.”

“Right, then. K-2, you stay on the communications, and pilot the U-Wing. Bodhi, you get an Imperial cargo ship, head to Yavin in the Gordian Reach. Chirrut–”

“I know what to do,” he says, cool and impersonal.

Cassian nods. “Right. Let’s go.”

The rain is relentless, and Jyn is glad for the rain jacket she has this time. She takes the lead, making quick work towards the fork and taking the lower path.

Over the pounding rain and whir of wind, Cassian asks, “So what happens now?”

“Krennic arrives, he shoots the engineers, the Alliance comes and bombs the station. But the last time we landed safely, Draven never sent the Alliance, and we were able to get my father back to the Alliance, and the Council agreed to go to Scarif.”

They’ve arrived at the foot of the ladder.

“So we climb?” Cassian asks, looking up.

“It was easier when we had a grappling gun.”

“You didn’t get one this time?”

“You got it when we were at Saw’s base.”

“You didn’t get one back on Yavin 4?”

“A protocol droid didn’t give me one.”

He gives her a lukewarm glare, then turns and starts up the ladder.

*

They’re found out almost as soon as they reach the platform.

It was easier fighting a legion of Stormtroopers when Baze was providing cover fire. Chirrut is an excellent marksman, but a lightbow is not as quick as a heavy repeater cannon. Cassian keeps up a steady return fire, while Jyn gazes into the landing pad interior, looking for her–

“Father!”

The Stormtroopers stand down.

“This doesn’t feel right,” Cassian says.

It doesn’t, but Jyn runs to her father anyway. He’s alive, her father’s alive, and Cassian trusts her. It aches and it ripples through her and the ache continues. "Papa…”

He holds her tight. “My Stardust…”

Cassian appears at their side, weapon raised, but no one is firing. “We need to get to the far ridge, now.”

An Imperial shuttle starts its descent.

Cassian doesn’t have a grenade to counter.

The ship touches down on the landing pad.

The door opens. The interior is dark.

There's a hiss of noise.

Then comes a long, red glow of light.

Jyn feels cold, even under the rain.

She takes a step back, and beside her Cassian does the same.

And then Cassian is tossed to the side.

Jyn screams his name as he lands with a crunch and doesn’t move.

She scrambles with her blaster, shooting at the incoming– the incoming monster dressed in black, loud respiratory noises, each shot deflected, and then the lightsaber is raised and–

The Force is with me, I am one with the –

Chapter Text

Jyn wakes up in her Wobani prison cell screaming.

It wakes her cellmate, who tells her in no uncertain terms to shut up or else, but Jyn scarcely hears.

Jyn can’t stop screaming.

Phantom pain burns against her chest, hot against her kyber crystal, fear choking her, the sound of Cassian’s neck snapping echoing in her ears, the hum of the lightsaber as it swings down and the agony is amplified by the agony of her failures, six times she’s been wrong and in trying to do better still doing wrong, she keeps choosing the wrong options, what option is the right one? What’s the right deviation to make? Should she deviate sooner? What option hasn’t she considered?

Two Stormtrooper guards appear at the cell.

Draven’s voice cuts through it all – Imagine if the Imperial Army knew who you really were.

Jyn can’t–   

“What’s all the racket about?” asks one.

Her mind is whirring, red drenching every thought, and she scrambles to her feet. "I need to see the Warden."

"The Warden has better things to do than talk to a hysterical prisoner," the second guard says.

Jyn ignores the hammering of her heart, the roughness of her throat. She pulls herself together. "Take me to see the Warden now. He'll want to speak with me. I have a message for Director Orson Krennic of the Imperial Army."

*

Jyn's never had occasion, for good or for ill, to be brought to the Warden's office.

It’s the same cool blues and chrome from Scarif, everything shined and perfect and impersonal.

The Warden is an Umbaran, all pale skin and emotionless stare. "Not many prisoners know the names of higher Imperial officers."

There's something chilling about the Warden's stare and it takes Jyn a moment to compose herself. Doubts are already starting to creep in. Will this work? Will this keep them all safe? Is this the right option?

But this is what Saw taught her – fight hard, land the first blow.

"My name is Jyn Erso," she says, keeping her voice as cool and neutral as possible. "And I would like an audience with Director Krennic."

The Warden doesn't change in the slightest. "Higher Imperial officers have better things to do than speak with prisoners."

“I am more than a prisoner to Director Krennic. Contact him. Tell him who I am." She doesn't lick her lips, doesn't give any indicator of the cold horror of what's going on.

“I do not see why I should take you at your word. Or entertain the notion this matter is worth pursuing.”

Jyn wants to start screaming again. No matter what she does, there is the possibility of failure, and she feels like she is hitting every wrong option. But it’s too late to turn back now, she has to see this path out. “My name is Jyn Erso,” she repeats. “I’m the daughter of Galen Erso.”

There is no recognition in the Warden’s gaze, but he reaches over to his holoprojector.

A long minute later, there’s a hologram of Krennic in the middle of the office.

Jyn’s hands clench at the sight of him. She had thought the incoming Imperial transport on Eadu was Krennic, and she was so ready to kill him for once. Finish what her mother had started.

"Director Krennic," the Warden says. "I have a prisoner who has expressed an interest in speaking with you. Our records indicate her name is Liana Hallik." The Warden gestures for her to stand beside him.

Jyn straightens her shoulders and steels herself, then steps into his line of sight. "You don't look any older than from when I remember you as a child."

He stares at her, eyes narrowing. "Who are you?" he asks, and it sounds the same as it always has.

"You know who I am," she says, body shaking but voice steady. "My name is Jyn Erso, I am the daughter of Lyra and Galen Erso."

Krennic stares her down, then turns to the Warden. “Do you have a blood sample on file?”

"Of course, sir."

"Send it," he says, a quiet snap.

The message cuts out.

Jyn returns to her seat. She doesn't swallow, doesn't lick her lips. She isn't afraid, she can't let herself be afraid.

She sits in silence. The Warden has not dismissed her, has not acknowledged her.

Krennic reappears. "Release her. That’s an order.”

The Warden nods his head. “Of course, Director.”

“My transport will be there immediately,” he continues. “Take care to treat her with the respect she deserves."

*

Krennic sweeps into the room some indefinite amount of time later.

“Leave,” he tells the Warden.

The Warden rises, nods at Krennic, and leaves.

Krennic takes his vacated chair.

“Hallik,” he says. “That was your mother’s maiden name, was it not?”

Her jaw clenches. She does her best to think of her mother less than she thinks of her father. Thinking of her mother brings up the memory of her being shot down by the very man sitting across from her. She forces it out of mind, keeps her voice even as she says, “My mother’s maiden name was Dawn.”

“Of course,” Krennic says. He continues to stare at her, as if trying to pick her apart.

She thinks of Cassian, and she molds her face into the perfect emotionless mask.

"It has been many years since we last saw each other," he announces.

"It has. I would like to join the Empire."

It rings through the room. Her conviction is strong, her voice clear.

"Why now?" Krennic asks. His stare is shrewd.

"I… made a promise to an old colleague. We had a falling out, but he made me promise not to consider the Empire for so many years. Those years have passed.”

“And so you’ve considered the Empire.”

“I’ve considered the fact that I’m in an Imperial prison. I’ve considered the fact that my own father is a valued science officer. I’ve considered the fact that I have talents that can be of use to the Empire.”

“By old colleague, I presume that you mean Saw Gerrera.”

She nods.

Krennic leans forward, hands lacing on the desk. “I do apologize. He’s dead.”

Jyn has spent so much of her life working towards taking what she needs from others – being what others need is something so very foreign to her. “I wish I could have said a few more choice words to him. But that’s one less concern the Empire has, then.”

“I won’t say that I don’t find this suspicious.”

"You'd be a fool not to," Jyn remarks. "But you trust the word of my father. Take me to him. He will vouch for me and my intentions."

Krennic spends a long few minutes staring at her. Finally, the corner of his mouth flicks up into a smirk. “Your father has done such good work for the Empire,” he says. “It would be nice to treat him to a reward…”

*

Krennic leads her to an Imperial shuttle.

It’s more spacious than it’s seemed.

He shows her to a bunk that is half the size of her jail cell, then hands her a bundle of clothing. “Something more fitting for your new post…”


It’s an Imperial security officer uniform.

The door slides shut.

Jyn shakes out the uniform, the black boots nestled inside tumbling to the ground. She takes off her vest and starts unbuttoning her shirt. When she last donned the uniform, she had pulled it over her clothing, but Jyn can tell at a glance that this uniform is fitted, that it won’t fit over her own clothes. Her vest and shirt go to the end of the bed. She toes off her boots and tugs off her pants.

She pulls on the uniform’s black slacks and slides into the uniform’s black boots. There’s a black undershirt provided, and Jyn pulls it on. She picks up the jacket.

She stares at the jacket.

At a glance, she knew it would be fitted, better tailored than the too-large uniform she had worn on Scarif. But now that she stares down at it, she knows that it will fit perfectly. She knows that she will be able to fasten it and wear it perfectly.

Back on Scarif, Cassian had been able to do the same. You’ve done this before, she had murmured, and he only winced in reply. All those times when perfecting the uniform, did Cassian feel like this? Sick to the stomach and nearly paralyzed with fear?

She closes her eyes as she pulls on the jacket. The plan had been in broad brushstrokes – get to Eadu, get to Scarif. She doesn’t have the information she needs to come up with a more concrete plan of attack. Just the hope that her father can talk Krennic into transferring her to Scarif.

Rebellions are built on hope.

There is no way Cassian will be able to tell her that this time around. There’s no way they’ll ever meet this time around. There’s no way he’ll die in her arms or she’ll watch his death.

Jyn will keep him from dying. She’ll keep K2, Bodhi, Chirrut and Baze safe. She’ll get the Death Star plans to the Alliance.

It’s the best option.

Jyn steps out of the compartment.

She catches sight of her reflection. She stares at herself in the Imperial uniform.

The best option is sometimes the least pleasant option.

*

They arrive in atmo.

It’s raining on Eadu.

Jyn has grown to hate the rain. It’s cold, it’s relentless, and the chill seeps everywhere.

The shuttle makes it way into the hangar, sparing Jyn the rain, though not the chill of the air. A shiver runs up her spine. She follows Krennic down the ramp and into the base.

“I hope this is important, Director, we still need to…”

Her father stops, eyes wide in surprise.

Jyn can’t help the tears. She hurries over to him and wraps herself around him. "Papa," she breathes. Quietly as she can manage, she adds, "Careful not to use my real name. Krennic is already suspicious, he can't know I'm connected, that I'm in the files."

He pulls back. "Jyn," he says, his hands going down the sides of her face. His eyes tear up. “I can hardly believe it…”

"See, Galen," comes Krennic's voice from behind them. "I told you all that time ago, that having your daughter around wouldn't be so bad."

Jyn wraps herself around him again. "I need to get to Scarif," she tells him. "There's very little time left."

He nods, then pulls back and turns to Krennic. "I'd like to have some time to spend with my daughter," he says. "It's been... years, I need to catch up with her."

Krennic frowns. "I thought you were just saying something about still needing to do something. As well, we still need to make her transfer official–"

"Orson," her father says, voice soft in a way she never heard. "Please."

Krennic's mouth flicks into a smile. "No doubt you’ve worked through your breaks today. You two can start to catch-up while I start on the transfer. I trust a half hour would be sufficient?"

Her father nods. "Thank you, Orson," he says. He turns and gives Jyn a smile– but it's nothing like the smiles she remembers. This is careful and brittle. He holds out his arm. "Come along, Jyn," he says. "I have a suite all to myself.”

Jyn feigns an interest as her father talks about all the accommodations that have been made for him, meanwhile memorizing the route as he leads her through the base.

He does have a suite. It's higher up, with windows out to the gloom of Eadu.

Jyn hates rain, and she hates Eadu, and she hates that she’ll always be haunted by the memories of–

She pushes away the thoughts of her father dying.

Her father is not dying.

He's here, alive.

He's safe.

Her father holds up a finger to his lips, and then goes over to a table, and presses a button, so that a metallic hum fills the air.

“I assume we can speak freely?” Jyn asks.

He whirls on her. "What are you doing here, Jyn?"

The harshness to his voice is sharp and unfamiliar. She lowers herself onto a chair, blinking against the sudden well of tears. "Papa..."

"You were safe, you were away from the Empire. I sent word to you– for you– but how did you get in contact with the Rebellion? And why are you here? It's too great a risk–"

“A risk?” she snaps. "Is it more a risk to seem a daughter following her father's footsteps, than to sneak into a base with an entire shield around it? Had I tried to sneak in there, at any point they could have noticed, they could have shut down communication, they could have closed the shield around the planet, there was absolutely no guarantee that I would have a way to make sure the transmission got to the Alliance."

“And what now? I get you assigned to Scarif – how do you get the plans to the Alliance?”

Transmission is still an option, though risky, and one she can’t argue right now. “I’ll steal them.”

“How will you get them to the Alliance? You can’t escape the Empire.”

The defeat in his voice rattles her, the desperation resonating deep within her. She closes her eyes.

Her father lets out a long sigh. “I don’t mean to be sharp, Jyn, but this… this is not what I wanted of you.”

She stares at him through her tears. “This isn’t what I wanted either.”

Her father takes the chair next to her, and takes one of her hands in his.

“I can’t do anything,” her father murmurs. Quiet, but the despair still there. “My only ally here has already left, there’s no one else I can trust to relay a message. And there’s no way I can contact Saw directly.”

“What if you could?” Jyn asks. Contacting Saw is dangerous – but if the Empire is looking to intercept transmissions, they’re not going to be looking at their own transmissions. The Empire doesn’t consider their own to be a threat, it’s how her father was able to engineer the flaw, how Bodhi was able to escape.

Her father shakes his head, pulls back from her. “It’s not possible–”

“It is. I know a code that will be able to reach him, no matter what. Are the transmissions sent from this base secure?”

He narrows his eyes. “You want to contact Saw. From Eadu. On an Imperial encoded channel.”

She leans in closer. “If you can contact Saw, tell him to contact the Alliance, tell him to get Rebels over Scarif to receive the transmission. It’s chancier than me trying to escape Scarif, but…” Jyn doesn’t know if she can get off the Scarif beach.

“21-87,” he replies, looking away.

Jyn frowns. “What?”

“The Empire will find out what we’ve done. To delay them, though, if you need to key in, use 21-87. The longer the Empire doesn’t know that the plans are with the Alliance, the better chance they’ll have.” He lets out a long sigh. “It’s a long shot. That I get through to Saw uninterrupted, that Saw can reach the Alliance, that they can dispatch a ship…”

She reaches over and takes her father’s hand. “It’s risky,” she agrees. “But I have the hope that it will work.”

He sighs.

They spend the rest of their time together in silence.

*

At the end of the half hour, her father leads her through the maze of hallways to an office.

“How was your reunion?” Krennic asks as they enter.

"She wants to join the Empire," his father says, voice cool. "As well she should. It's been long enough. I want her on Scarif."

Krennic raises an eyebrow. "You usually aren't so forward in your demands, Galen."

"I’ve been with you for the past fifteen years, Orson. My daughter has only just deigned to join the Empire. It brings me great shame. She is not an engineer, there is nothing she can do here. But if she were to pay her dues, spend time protecting what I have spent years working on, then perhaps I would ask for her to be relocated back to Eadu.”

Krennic looks between the two of them. “I was hoping you would be happier to see her,” he says, and he almost sounds disappointed.

“Given the circumstances, it’s difficult to be happy.”

Jyn clenches her jaw, and forces herself not to cry.

“I apologize that you’ll need to start the transfer again.”

He waves a hand. “I hadn’t sent it through. It should be easy enough to change her assignment post to Scarif.”

“I am thankful for all that you do for me, Orson.”

Krennic quirks a smile. “As you very well should be. I’ll escort her there myself."

*

Jyn never thought she would be thankful to arrive on Scarif.

But, as Krennic marches her down from the Imperial shuttle, over to the repulsor rail system, she is. He quietly assesses her, but he makes no effort to start a conversation with her.

He makes all the introductions necessary, and then Jyn is being shuffled all through the Citadel. She does her best to commit every detail to memory. She wants to be here for as little time as possible, but she needs to sell the part. Slotting herself into a preconceived notion, matching herself to what is expected, that she can manage. But she needs to be better than what they already think of her, needs to make herself valuable. She needs to prove herself.

It’s something she’s always shied away from doing.

It’s not something she can shy away from now. She keeps her head tall, gaze alert, and she becomes who she needs to be.

*

That night, Jyn waits and waits and waits until the chrono shows it’s the small hours of morning. She changes out of her sleepwear and changes back into her Imperial uniform and slips out of the barracks. Despite a different starting point, she knows the location of the data vault.

There’s no guard at the console outside the vault. Jyn’s pulse picks up as she looks at the biometric scanner beside the vault door. Access to the vault requires the scanner and an authorization code. Or so K2 had said. Perhaps… She reaches up to touch the kyber crystal under her necklace, and punches in 2-1-8-7.

The door opens.

Jyn lets out a small sigh of relief, and strides down the hallway to the control room. After having had to climb to reach the databox, she knows its location, and she easily maneuvers the handles to retrieve the databox.

It’s strange to walk through the Citadel with the databox. She’s sprinted through the Citadel with it before. She’s climbed up the vault shaft to the top of the Citadel before. There’s adrenaline pumping in her system, but she needs to appear like she belongs, that she is doing what she needs to be doing.

She makes her way to the turbolifts, and she makes her way to the top of the tower. It’s late at night, but she knows her way around. There’s no alert telling her the antenna is out of alignment, just a system patiently waiting.

Do you think anybody’s listening?

Jyn did, and she does. Someone’s out there.

Despite not specializing in communications, Jyn knows that one of the systems is for scanning nearby frequencies.

There’s only one.

Jyn patches herself through to it. The message sent to Saw needed to be simple, there wasn’t an room to add call signs or codes. Her mind races for something that will given the indication that she’s the contact to be made. “Bodhi, is that you?”

“This is–”

"K-2SO?" Jyn asks, heart in her throat.

“I am a K-2SO unit, correct.”

The relief makes her dizzy. “Is Captain Andor with you?”

There's the indistinct sound of him talking to Cassian.

"My name is Jyn Erso," she continues. "And I need to talk to Captain Cassian Andor."

A long silence.

"Hello?"

Her heart loosens at his voice. Suspicious at it is, it’s still him. He’ll get the transmission, and he’ll live. "Captain Andor, this is Jyn Erso."

"I heard."

"Listen, we don't have much time. If you’re here, it means that you’ve made contact with either Saw Gerrera or Bodhi Rook. Either way, by now you know about the Death Star, and you know that Galen Erso, my father, helped design it, and that he designed a flaw, right?”

“That is what we have heard.”

“I’m sending you the plans now,” Jyn says, pulse picking up as she starts the transmission. “I know you’re suspicious, and you have all the reasons not to trust me, but I hope you’ll trust me, and that hope is all I have.” She takes a bracing breath. “And rebellions are built on hope.”

There’s a huff on the other side of the comm, but Cassian says nothing.

Jyn watches the screen and the slow tick of the progress bar.

“Transmission received.”

She lets out a choked noise. Relief floods her system. She knows Cassian, but Cassian doesn’t know her – he’s not going to be concerned about her having an extraction plan, or what will happen to her next. He’ll be gone in two seconds, if he’s not already. “May the Force be with you,” she says.

“Thank you,” comes the quiet reply.

There are no frequencies on the scanner.

Cassian is gone.

With the plans.

Jyn did it.

She did it.

She’s dizzy with relief. She can’t breathe, she–

She can’t breathe.

She tries to take a deep inhale in, but her throat is blocked. Her hands go up to her neck, but there’s no obstruction to pull away. There’s a faint ringing in her ears, and her heart is beating frantically in her chest.

Footsteps sound behind her.

She turns around.

It’s the monster from Eadu – Vader. A hand is outstretched, fingers splayed.

Fear and adrenaline flood her system, and she still can’t breath.

“I had sensed a disturbance in the Force…” he intones as he strides closer. “I first felt it on Eadu, then here… and now I find you sending transmissions…”

She’s raised up off the ground a few inches, her feet kicking out to find purchase. Her lungs ache harder for the respiratory sounds of Vader.

“...transmissions of the Death Star plans to the Rebel Alliance.”

Jyn weakly grabs at her throat, her fingers going numb.

His voice is thundering as he demands, “Tell me what you know about the Rebel Alliance.”

Her vision is going dark. She gasps out, “Never.”

Darth Vader flicks his wrist and–  

I’m one with the Force and

Chapter Text

Jyn wakes up in her Wobani prison cell gasping. She startles to sitting, her breathing too loud, her blood rushing in her ears, the air suffocating her, everything–

Everything goes silent.

A drop of water hits cloth.

Jyn takes a long breath in, swallows the scream that wants to tear out of her throat. She lets a long breath out. Another long breath in, another long breath out.

She was close.

She was so close.

Vader had felt a Disturbance in the Force, and that had been what drew her to Eadu, to Scarif. What does she do that causes a disturbance? What can she do to keep him away?

She doesn't know, but the trip from Wobani to Eadu will give her plenty of time to think it over.

She pushes herself to her feet, makes her way over to the prison door and lets out a low whistle. It gets a disparaging remark from her cell mate, but Jyn pays her no mind.

Only one Stormtrooper makes their way over. "What?" they snap.

"I need to see the Warden."

"The Warden doesn’t have time to waste talking with prisoners.”

She gives him a sharp smile. "The Warden will want to speak with me. I have a message for Director Orson Krennic of the Imperial Army."

*

“I won’t say that I don’t find this suspicious.”

Jyn takes her cue to say, "You'd be a fool not to. But you trust the word of my father. Take me to him. He will vouch for me and my intentions."

Krennic spends a long few minutes staring at her. Finally, the corner of his mouth flicks up into a smirk. It grates more than it did last time. “Your father has done such good work for the Empire,” he says. “It would be nice to treat him to a reward…”

*

The Imperial uniform fits to her like a second skin.

*

She ignores her reflection as she walks past the reflective glass, and goes to the cabin where Krennic is sitting with his datapad.

"Ah," Krennic says, as he looks up. There's a pleased smile on his face. "I’ve been searching for you for years. Well worth the wait, you look perfect. No doubt your father will be just as proud.”

Jyn gives him a tight smile. "Thank you, Director," she says, because she might as well start ingratiating herself to him now. "Where is my father stationed?”

“On a planet called Eadu, but we are not heading there."

Jyn has a bad feeling about this. “We’re not?”

“No. You’ll still get your reunion with your father, don’t worry. Galen’s meeting us there. Eadu is quite dreary, truth be told. No, this will be a far better venue for meeting.”

“Meeting us where?”

They drop out of hyperspace.

“The Death Star.”

Jyn’s stomach drops.

“Your father’s been working on it nearly as long as you’ve been alive. Designing it, aiding the engineers… Magnificent, isn’t it?”

Jyn forces herself to be a good liar. “It’s amazing.”

It’s terrifying. Jyn's seen it in the sky over Jedha, the sky over Scarif, but she's never been this close to it. The shuttle flies in closer and closer, until the gray spreads across the viewport, spreads until there is nothing else.

Sweat collects at the nape of her neck, and her heart pounds in her chest. She can't panic, not now. This is one of the things Saw taught her, to channel her panic into something she can use. She's hyperaware, and she uses it to note every detail about the shield going down, the rows and rows of Stormtroopers waiting in the hangar.

"Keep up," is all Krennic says, before he disembarks the shuttle.

For all of his showier tendencies, Krennic doesn’t react to the rows and rows of Stormtroopers saluting him.

Saluting them.

Jyn swallows against the bile in her throat. She keeps up with Krennic as he moves down hallways and up turbo lifts.

He slows to a stop, and he straightens his uniform. Then he turns to Jyn, gaze flicking over her uniform. He nods, satisfied. “Make a good impression here, and it will only benefit you in the future,” he tells her quietly.

Jyn has long since stopped thinking of him as an uncle, but it seems he has never stopped considering her his niece. She nods.

He nods back, then turns a corner and leads her down a very long hallway to the Death Star command center.

"A gift for you on this most rewarding day," Krennic announces, as they stride towards her father talking with a higher officer.

Her father stares at her, eyes wide. "Jyn..."

Krennic turns to the other officer. "General Tarkin, if I may introduce Jyn Erso, a new member of the Imperial Security Bureau. Officer Erso, this is General Tarkin, of the Tarkin Initiative, who has given much support to the program."

"Sir," Jyn says. She turns to her father. "Papa..."

"I believe they deserve a moment of privacy before the demonstration. Besides, General Tarkin, I have a question regarding..." and then Krennic is guiding General Tarkin away.

They’re in the middle of a control center, and Jyn can’t guess how many surveillance systems they have. Nothing here is safe, she can’t risk being overheard. She just hugs her father tightly. "I missed you," she says.

"I can't believe you're here," is all her father says, staring down at her.

"It's a long story," Jyn says, because even if it's not dangerous if overheard. "Can we talk in your suite when we get back to Eadu?"

He nods, his smile brittle. "Of course, Jyn."

"Ah," comes Krennic's voice, loud and ringing through the room. "Lord Vader–"

Jyn goes numb.

"–so excellent that you've decided to join us."

She turns around, and watches as Vader walks towards them.

Towards her.

A cold certainty runs down her spine.

He knows.

Thoughts collide into each other. He felt a disturbance on Eadu, he told her that on Scarif, but she was being asphyxiated, her mind was shying away from the horror of her death at his hands, she thought he had gone to Eadu before finding her on Scarif. Her nerves were scattered and shot, she was in the heart of enemy territory, and she couldn’t handle the possibility that Vader was in on the loops too. But Jyn isn't about to save her father, she hasn't just completed a secret mission, she isn't in a high-stress situation, her mind is clear and thoughts connect and –

He knows.

The Force, kyber crystals.

He has a lightsaber.

He’s in on the loops.

Jyn stares at him, thoughts racing and trying to figure out what to do.

What she can do.

He knows.

He’s going to win.

The odds are in his favor.

The Rebellion will be destroyed.

"No need to look so alarmed, Jyn," Krennic says in a low tone. "He is intimidating at first, yes, but with your select skills, you may become lucky enough to be posted as one of his guards, and you will grow accustomed to his presence in time."

Then Tarkin is speaking, voice raised to address the entirety of the room. "Through his use and knowledge of the Force, Lord Vader has found the location of the Rebel base to be the fourth moon of the planet Yavin."

Jyn’s stomach drops.

When does Vader's loop end? Does it end with her death? Chirrut and Baze have always died closely within her death, but does Vader go on? How far? Did he need weeks and months to find it, or did they find a way to track the transmissions to Yavin IV?

Did Cassian make it back to Yavin IV?

If Jyn had a blaster, she would shoot Vader right now. It would be her death, but it doesn’t matter. The thought of Vader killing Cassian – again – makes it a struggle to keep her composure.

"Prepare to fire when ready," General Tarkin says.

Jyn stares down at Yavin IV, and in this moment, this is the moment she's hated it the most.

The moon has been destroyed by the Death Star before. Jyn had been there, in a holding cell.

Jyn prefers that to her current position.

The moon is lush in greens and blues.

The laser that is beamed towards the planet is green.

There’s a familiar white light.

A familiar yellow light.

And then a bright orange explosion.

"Magnificent," Krennic says, breaking the silence.

Bits of rock – of the moon – are all that remain.

Jyn feels a screaming inside her. Cassian is dead. Mon Mothma is dead. Draven is dead and Jyn fucking hates him – hated him – but she didn't want this to happen. Not to him. Not to anyone else on the moon. All the people she passed in the base, dead. Droids, gone. K2, gone. Everyone…

Vader’s voice cuts through her thoughts. “Is the power output to your specifications, Doctor Erso?”

Her father nods, completely expressionless.

“Good.” Vader turns to Tarkin. “We will target Jedha next.”

“Of course, Lord Vader. I will give the order to start evacuating–”

“There is no need for that, Director.”

Galen lets out a choked noise.

“Galen?” Krennic asks, voice low. “Are you alright?”

Her father said he learned to lie, but this is too much for him.

Jyn steps in front of him, blocking him from Krennic, from Tarkin, from Vader. “You’ve just shown him the full glory of what he has spent the past fifteen years to build. And after fifteen years, he’s just been reunited with his daughter. It’s a momentous victory. He’s overwhelmed.”

Krennic nods, seeming sympathetic, while Tarkin doesn’t look impressed.

Jyn draws herself up. “Could I speak with my father privately?”

“Of course,” Krennic says, casting a quieting look at Tarkin. “Allow me to show you to a room.”

*

They’re shown to a conference room, and Krennic barks for everyone to leave. “Let me know if you need anything further,” he says, before stepping out of the room.

The conference room is large with a circular table in the middle of it. Jyn glances around and sees that there is some video surveillance, but nothing that shows audio.

Her father has sat down in one of the chairs, staring vacantly at the table in front of him.

Jyn sits next to him, careful to turn her chair so her face isn’t on video, so there is no chance of having her lips read. And then she gives him a sad smile. “Papa…”

“Quite a victory,” her father repeats.

Jyn sets her hand on his. “Father…”

He gives her a watery smile.

“I was – I joined the Empire to infiltrate it.”

His face freezes.

“I was hoping to get to Scarif to send the Alliance the plans. Have Krennic take me to you, so you could get me stationed there, and I could…”

There’s such a naked relief on his face.

It cuts deep, that her father thinks her capable of joining the Empire, but Jyn can’t blame him. To have his daughter arrive in an Imperial uniform must have been his worst nightmare.

And now they’re in Jyn’s. Everyone is dead – or soon to be dead – and she couldn’t do a thing to stop it. Can’t do a thing to stop it. Shame burns through her. “I thought I could send the plans to the Alliance, but I… The Empire found the Alliance, and it’s my…”

Her father shakes his head. “It’s not your fault the Empire found the Alliance,” he tells her.

Jyn closes her eyes and wishes it were true.

“If anything, it’s mine. I should have gotten a message to the Alliance sooner.”

“There’s no way you could have,” she tells him, abruptly aware of the fact she has no way of knowing that. It almost seems like that could be the Erso legacy – waiting too long to do the right thing.

“No, I… I should have… I should have been able to see a way through this, a way to…”

Jyn remembers her father’s message. Through the despair, there was a slow glow of pride – that he had found a way to get revenge.

That pride is gone.

There’s only the defeat.

“You did everything you could,” Jyn insists, pulling him into an embrace.

“No,” her father says. “I missed something, I must have… I could have found another way… should have found another way… I spent so long – so long – working on it, I…”

Her father breaks down sobbing.

Jyn has held her father while he died four times. Whatever pain he felt, all he expressed was the relief and gratitude of seeing her one last time.

This is the first time she has seen her father suffer.

“I gave up everything for this to succeed,” he says between sobs. “I lost you, I lost Lyra, but I refused to lose hope. I thought if I were on the project, I could delay, find a way to sabotage it, and I did, but I didn’t do enough, I…”

The Erso legacy – not doing enough.

Jyn pushes aside her bitterness, quietly says, “Papa…”

“I’m so sorry,” he grits out. “I’m so…”

She holds her father as he lets go of so many years of suffering. Holds him as he cries into her shoulder, the fabric wet as it would get on Eadu.

Bile rises in her throat. "Papa," she says, quietly. She hates herself for what she’s about to say, but she forces herself to continue. "You need to pull yourself together. Krennic is going to get suspicious."

It just makes him cry harder.

Jyn looks up at the ceiling, blinking rapidly to keep from crying herself. What if she went to Krennic and turned her father in? He would die, surely, but, she thinks darkly to herself, by this point that seems inevitable. It would take some suspicious off Jyn, at least from Krennic and Tarkin. "Just a little bit longer," she manages. "Please."

He finally manages to wind down.

“You think you can manage?” she asks, once the tears have tapered off.

He wipes at his face with his sleeve. “I have all these past years,” he says, and it’s brittle.

Krennic has been waiting outside, but there’s no indication he heard anything. "Are you alright, Galen?" he asks, and he sounds more concerned than suspicious.

Her father looks awful, his eyes red and his face haggard in a way that can't be denied. "It's like Jyn says," he manages. "It's been an overwhelming day."

“Do not worry, after Jedha, I shall escort you back to Eadu.”

“Could we not postpone until later?” her father asks. “I am sure my engineers would like to be here

“Oh, one of your engineers conspired with a pilot to send seditious messages to the Rebel Alliance. No one would confess to being the traitor, or so I was told, so I had them all executed.”

“What about me?” Jyn asks, drawing Krennic’s attention as her father’s face crumples. “I get to go with you and my father to Eadu, right?”

“Of course. Come now, we should be at Jedha shortly.”

*

Jedha is lined up in the middle of the viewport.

And then Jedha is gone.

*

Krennic leads them down turbolifts and through hallways back to the hangar. He's talking as they enter the hangar, talking about celebrations held in Galen’s honor and what will be done to commemorate this victory over the Rebel Alliance. Jyn only half-listens to what he says, too concerned with keeping an eye on her father. He's managing as best as he can, but he’s slipping.

At the shuttle, Krennic’s name is called out.

He lets out a short sigh. "What does that insufferable man want now?" he mutters, before striding back to speak with Tarkin.

Jyn wants to comfort her father, but can't think of anything to say. In the grand scheme of things, every comfort or reassurance sounds hollow.

"A change of plans," Krennic says, as he approaches. "Lord Vader has suggested that Jyn be positioned at Scarif, thinking it would be fitting for her to guard your legacy. He has been generous enough to offer to escort her there himself."

Her father lets out a choked noise. "Please, Orson..."

Krennic gives him a sympathetic look. "Lord Vader has expressed an interest in your daughter's potential, Galen, and that can only mean good things for her future."

Jyn doesn't know if she wants to laugh or scream.

"She will be permitted to visit soon enough, I will see to it." Krennic looks back to Jyn, and there's something almost fond as he looks at her. "You will do well, though, Jyn, and I will see that you make it to Eadu as soon as possible."

She nods, unwilling to thank him.

Her father moves towards her, but Krennic warns, “He does not like to be kept waiting.”

Jyn crosses the hanger, head held high. Around a TIE-fighter, he stands waiting, and Jyn refuses to cower at the sight of him, no matter how terrified she still is of him. As terrified as she is of him, she hates him more. She has to keep herself from snarling as she says, "Lord Vader."

He doesn't reply, only turns and leads her to his ship.

Passing by a reflective glass, Jyn hates him more, because they look like they fit together, two dangerous figures in black.

They settle into the cabin of the shuttle, him across from her.

She wants to yell at him, wants to ask Why me? Why you? I want to live, I want to save the Rebellion, I want to keep Cassian from dying. She clenches her jaw with the urge to scream and struggles not to ball her hands into fists. She breathes through her nose and closes her eyes. She can keep herself together, and she will.

*

Vader doesn't speak to her through the journey to Scarif, the cabin is silent but for the sound of his respirator.

Time stretches on and on.

Jyn doesn’t know how long the trip lasts.

On and on.

When they land, Jyn lets out a long sigh through her nose, but refuses to show any other reaction.

Vader walks her down the ramp, then turns and stares down at her. “I hope you make good use of your time here, Officer Erso.”

Jyn stares at him, trembling. Her voice is raw as she says, “I hate you.”

He doesn't reply, only turns and walks back up into the ship.

*

Jyn is once more shuffled all through the Citadel. She remembers most of it from the last loop.  This is where she will sleep. This is where she will eat. This is where she will report to duty. This is where she can train off-duty. This is where she can shower. She is quizzed on how well she remembers it.

She passes their inspection, is told to report to duty next morning.

*

It is nearing sunset as Jyn climbs her way to the top of the Citadel. She's made her way here easily, in the way she hadn't the first few times. She goes past the satellite control panel and past the antenna control unit to the end of the catwalk. She sits down, her feet dangling over.

She rests her head against the metal railing.

She doesn't have the strength to cry. She doesn't have the energy to fight. She's tired. She's lost. She's alone.

It seems like with every loop, she takes one step forward, two steps back. With this, though, it's been an abrupt shove back. She has gained no ground, she has learned nothing, nothing has gone as planned.

She's an Imperial soldier.

She wanted to infiltrate them, but the Rebel Alliance perished on Yavin IV.

She wants to defect, but there's no one to defect to.

She thinks of Bodhi.

Her eyes sting.

She remembers his words from that first loop, saying what her father had told him: He said I could make it right, if I was brave enough and listened to what was in my heart.

Her heart is nearly pounding out of her chest. This is wrong, this is wrong, this is all wrong. She needs to escape this loop, she needs to find a way to start over. When the Rebels come for her on Wobani, have them immediately evacuate Yavin IV, have them be halfway across the system by the time the Death Star arrives. Vader is in on the loops, but she change the playing field into something neither of them expect. If she's a disturbance in the Force and he can track her, then she leaves the Alliance to keep them safe.

This is wrong – but how can she make it right?

Jyn listens and tears streak down her face.

She’s died seven times now. On a beach, in a jail cell, on Eadu, on Scarif – murdered every single time.

She’s never taken her own life.

Does that fact change anything? If she takes her own life, will that end the loop? It sends ice through her veins. Everything that’s happened is beyond her control, has been beyond her comprehension. The act of her taking her own life ending the loops would make as much sense as anything else.

It makes it difficult to breathe. This can’t be the end. She hasn’t won yet.

But if this were it, and her chances are over, would she want to continue in this universe?

Jyn watches the sun disappear beyond the horizon. Her muscles are stiff as she pushes herself to standing. Despite the fall of night, it’s still warm. She rolls her shoulders back as she walks across the platform, getting her blood back in circulation.

This could be the end.

She turns back to face the platform.

But she doesn’t think it is.

She has faith.

The Force is with me.

She runs at the platform –

I am one with the Force

– vaults the railing –

The Force is with me.

– and leaps.

I am one with the Force. The Force is with me, I am –

Chapter Text

A drop of water hits her head.

Jyn flinches, and blinks herself awake. Her head hurts, and she reaches for a cloth to wipe it away. Touching her head makes it all that worse, and she doesn't remember what she did last night that might have caused–

–what she did last night–  

–it's been a long time since last night was last night–

–it all comes back to her, and Jyn turns to the side of the bed to throw up into the wastebasket. She can't help it, can't stop herself, her entire body trying to rid itself of a week of trauma. Her entire body aches, possibly from an impact she doesn’t remember, or maybe just from strain of the past week. There’s a throbbing pain at the base of her skull, and that’s definitely from the strain. Her mind races with memories and fears and questions, and the most fearsome of them all – will Vader come for her?

It makes her throw up again.

Frantic flashes of emotions are racing through her, and she grits her teeth against the sour taste of bile. She needs to stop, she may not be chosen to work the camps if she's showing signs of illness. She forces herself to stop, forces herself to breathe. In the thin air of her jail cell, there’s nothing she can do about Vader, there’s no way she can find out if he is coming for her.

All she can do is hope that he isn’t.

Rebellions are built on hope.

*

She was raised like this by Saw – the Empire a constant threat. She backed down from that fight, turned her back on it, but the vigilance follows her like a shadow. Every moment offers the opportunity for disaster. Will Vader come for her?

She gets put on the farm work roster.

And she waits the undeterminable amount of time before the Rebels come.

The transport stops.

The door flies off and blaster fire takes its place.

Jyn’s mind goes into overdrive. Too much information is dangerous, she cannot be reckless. But she needs to get across enough information to give her credibility. How? She knows better than to hope that they will trust her, but she needs them to take her at her word. She needs to find the right thing to say.

Melshi makes his way over, and opens his mouth to ask if she wants to get out of here.

"You're in danger," Jyn tells him. She stares up at him, keeping her expression as strong and neutral as she can.

It catches Melshi off-guard. He shakes his head as he starts taking off her shackles. "If you think that us coming here was dangerous—"

"I'm sure it was, I placed myself here for a reason. But the Empire is going to use their planet-killer on Yavin 4 if you don't call in an immediate evacuation."

They look suspicious.

Immediate,” Jyn snaps. "And while you do, I need to see Saw Gerrera. You aren't his men, but it was only a matter of time before he split with the Alliance. You'll need his help, his numbers, his information. Get me to Jedha, and I can get a conversation."

Silence.

Saw once told her she’s only convincing with her fists.

Her mouth curls into a snarl, her fists clenching beside her. “And if you don’t do it, then I will take all of you down and steal whatever ship you brought to do it myself.”

No response.

Fight hard, land the first blow. Jyn knees Melshi in the gut once to knock his breath out, then kicks him again to push him back into another Rebel. She pulls a shovel from off the wall and in quick strikes has both on the floor.

She reaches the end of the the transport and braces herself.

K2 plucks her from the air and throws her to the ground.

She can't breathe, she's completely winded, and it takes her a few moments to breathe.

K2 takes this moment to speak. “Congratulations, you are being rescued.”

The Rebels jump down and stand over her.

Fighting to catch her breath, she stares up at them and orders, "Evacuate Yavin 4.”

*

Jyn is shackled and shackled to the back of the U-Wing.

In the cockpit, the three rebels are in a low conversation.

Horror is curled low in her stomach as she strains to listen. Is it enough was this enough

“The probability is very high,” K2 points out.

“That I’m telling you the truth?” Jyn calls up to them.

They all go quiet and turn to her.

She meets each of their gazes evenly.

Melshi makes his way to her. “How did you know?”

“Get me to Captain Cassian Andor. I’ll tell him.”

One of the rebels murmurs something, and Jyn just barely makes it out – “might not be a bad idea.”

Cassian won’t trust her this time.

It stings.

It stings less than she thought it would – perhaps knowing it means she won’t get as attached this time around.

“I need to contact Saw,” Jyn continues.

“We’re taking you to Jedha. You can contact him there.”

“I have a communication code to get through to him. I need him to get started on their evacuation. You’ve already started on the Yavin evacuation.”

They don’t call her bluff.

She lets out a sigh of relief, and sags back against her seat.

“Captain Andor will be very interested in how you knew about the Empire’s approach,” Melshi tells her.

She doesn’t doubt it. The pounding in her head has returned, and it makes her voice terse as she asks, “Are you going to let me contact Saw or not?”

Melshi continues to stare her down for a few long moments, but then he strides back to the cockpit, holding another small conference with the two other Rebels and K2.

He gestures her to stand up, and she holds her hands out in front of her carefully as she shuffles forward.

The communications is done by another rebel, and Jyn really needs to learn the finer points of learning communications – it may turn out to be rather helpful later on. She gives the code and turns to look at Melshi. “Take my shackles off.”

Melshi snorts. "You kicked me across a transport," he tells her. "You really think I'm going to take your shackles off?"

"What do you know about Saw Gerrera?"

“Militant extremist. Formerly with the Alliance, now leader of the Partisans.” When Jyn doesn’t reply, he continues, "Doesn’t make or keep friends easily, paranoid, suspicious…”

"Then you need to take the shackles off. He will be able to take one look at me and notice that I am shackled just on the angle of my arms. If I'm shackled, he'll immediately jump to the possibility this is a trap, and he will disregard everything I say. Now, unshackle me."

Reluctantly, Melshi complies.

The Rebel tells Jyn the comm went through, but it’s the same snow as the first time she tried.

Why won’t he answer? He’s paranoid, of course, but he’s answered her through this comms code before. How does she get through to him. “Can you record a message?”

The Rebels converse through a series of facial expressions, before the comms Rebel sighs. He taps at a few keys, vacates his seat. “It’s recording.”

Jyn nods at him, then turns to address the camera. "Saw, you are going to be soon approached by a companion of mine, Captain Cassian Andor of the Rebel Alliance. You are not to harm him. And you are not to harm the Imperial defector, Bodhi Rook. You need to order an evacuation for the city, calling in whatever contacts you have.” She hesitates before continuing, “And instead of whatever attack you had planned, you are going to order your men to start taking Stormtroopers hostage. The Imperial Army’s planet-killer is working, and they will fire down on Jedha once the area is clear of their troops. Do not let them evacuate."

Vader has shown a willingness to let them be killed, but there’s still a fighting chance that some in the city may be saved.

“Please, Saw,” she adds. “This may be the Rebellion’s only hope.”

Melshi almost looks impressed with her as he leads her back to her seat.

She holds her hands out.

He pretends not to notice, and he turns and walks back to the cockpit.

*

They drop into atmo, and there’s already an evacuation.

Jyn feels even more relieved than she had been that first time.

Saw received the message, he watched it, he trusted her. Ships are leaving, the City will have less and less people in there, it'll be easier to get in contact with a Rebel and to get all the information needed so they can get off Jedha.

It's going well.

It will go well.

And yet, stepping out into the cold Jedha afternoon, Jyn still feels like the air around her is thin, her heart beating too fast.

Melshi lands where he always lands, in a way that makes her still. He has possibly never landed here before. This may be the first time he's landed here, or at least so from his point of view.

Jyn draws herself up, chiding herself for letting her guard drop, even if in so small a way.

For all she's been through, she cannot allow even a small slip.

They turn a corner and there is Cassian.

Seeing Cassian…

She hadn't seen him the last time around, Tarkin destroyed Yavin too quickly. And before that, she had her moment with him, when he was receiving the Death Star plans transmission, but she didn't see him.

It's good to see him again.

The curve of his cheekbone, the wisps of dark hair. Dark eyes assessing her. He jerks his head to the three other Rebels, and they leave.

He won’t trust you. Don’t get attached.

If only it were that easy.

"Saw Gerrera isn't going to be in the city, he'll be on the outskirts. The Catacombs of Cadera are most likely. Get to him. I'll find a speeder and I'll join you there." She turns and starts into the city.

His hand hooks around her elbow, pulling her to face him. "I don't know what you think you’re doing–"

“Acting on intel.”

“What intel?”

"Intel you could never gather, and that I don’t have the time to explain, so you need to listen to me," she says, breaking his grip on her, "and get going."

She tries to dart off, but he catches her arm again. There’s no time for delay, no time to deflect questions she cannot answer. But this time he puts more force into pulling her to face him. She goes with the momentum, and she reaches her hands up to his face, and pulls him in for a kiss. It's a desperate stall for time, Jyn knows, but she's desperate, and she's wanted to do this for longer than she wants to think about.

He’s alive when Vader may have killed him three times before and Jyn isn’t going to let there be a fourth.

Her heart hammers in her chest, and she forces herself to pull back.

"Find Saw," she tells him, and disappears into the crowd.

*

Her heart is racing as she hurries through the city. Jyn is struck by how many people there are here – Vader will have all of them killed without hesitation. But there are fewer and fewer.

There’s a chance for them.

There’s hope.

"May the Force of others be with you."

She slows to a walk, catching her breath.

“May the Force of others be with you.”

The pounding in the back of her skull is back and Jyn feels lightheaded.

“May the Force of others be with you.”

She pushes through the pain, and makes her way to Chirrut and Baze.

"Trade your necklace for a glimpse into the future?" Chirrut offers.

She breathes out, trying to overcome the nausea. "I'm sorry, Chirrut, but we don’t have time. I need a speeder to get to Saw, and I need it faster than normal.”

A long, silent moment passes.

"You know her?" Baze asks.

Chirrut doesn't reply – only furrows his brow, tilts his head to the side.

Her knees feel weak. "Through the Force," she says, throat working, "you know all. Do you…” Both stay silent. “Do you not remember that?"

"Sounds like something he would say," Baze offers.

But Chirrut is still facing her with a thin-lipped displeasure.

Her body goes cold. How– how? "Kyber crystals power Jedi lightsabers. The strongest stars have hearts of kyber crystal." You need to understand and you need to remember and you need to remember me.

He doesn't.

Jyn takes a step back. She can't – she hasn't been able to breathe since she woke up and she wonders if this is why. The loss is a harsh cascade through her body. "You're Chirrut Imwe, he's Baze Malbus, and I'm Jyn Erso. I need to go talk to Saw Gerrera, but… find me." You always do.

Tears blur her vision as she sprints away, but this is an area of Jedha she’s been in enough to still navigate. She knows what it looks like, and she knows what the architecture is, and she knows where the best vantage points are, and she finds one of Saw’s rebels easily.

Her thoughts are scrambled, she’s still reeling, and her already-shaky time perception is worse. It feels too late, and it’s heavy on her shoulders.

It makes her furious, itching for a fight.

She takes down one of Saw's rebels with two cracking blows of her baton, and grabs his comm device. "This is Jyn Erso," she says, a harsh bite of words. "I am daughter of Galen Erso, and I am an old friend of Saw Gerrera. If he is not active on this line, someone will patch me through to him now.”

Static is her only reply for a few long seconds.

Then, "Jyn?"

“You got my message.”

“Bodhi Rook has been sent back with your Captain Andor. But Jyn, we don’t take hostages–”

“Then kill them.” Vader or any other officer in the Empire would do it soon enough anyway. “Have you given a comms device to Captain Andor?”

“No, but Benthic is with them.”

“Have Benthic deliver Andor and Rook to the main corridor of the south city quarter.” She throws the device back down. If the plans aren’t met, she can find another.

There are enough Jedhans still scrambling to evacuate that Jyn’s hurried stride doesn’t draw any special attention. Before she nears the main corridor, she hides herself in the shadow of an archway.

She can't breathe, and her hands and forearms are tingling. Chirrut and Baze don't know her. The fact is still ricocheting around in her head. They don't know her. After everything they've been through, they've known her, they've always known her, they've known what was going, they’ve been silent allies, and now they're...

She takes a shuddering breath, but the air is still too thin.

If Chirrut and Baze don't remember anything, if they can forget, perhaps there’s a way to use that against Vader.

But if he’s destroyed Yavin, he hasn’t forgotten yet.

They need to get off Jedha.

Jyn can break down later.

She steels herself, and resumes her jog to the main corridor. She turns and there’s a battalion of Stormtroopers.

There’s a series of cries as they catch sight of her. “A Rebel!” “Get her!” “Kill her!”

Jyn pulls out her baton and extends it with a flick.

She’s not going to die.

They are.

She gets four Stormtroopers on their backs before she gets knocked down. She snarls at the Stormtrooper above her. She’s not going to die, she’s going to start over, but she’s not going to end this chance cowering.

A plasma blast hits the Stormtrooper above her. Shots continue to be fired.

She looks around and sees Baze lowering his blaster, Chirrut standing just beside him.

Tears sting in her eyes, and she looks away from them. It’s difficult to breathe. She pushes herself to her feet. Dusts herself off.

“You’re welcome,” Baze says, as he and Chirrut approach.

Jyn winces. He’s said that before. He doesn’t remember saying it before. But they deserve an explanation, and she clears her throat. “We’ve lived this before. We’ve remembered each other. And now you’ve forgotten.”

“All is as the Force wills it,” Chirrut tells her.

Jyn scoffs. Her eyes burn with tears. She shakes her head. “And you fear nothing,” she starts, throat burning, “because the Force is with you.”

“And also with you.”

She shakes her head again. She counts, and she hates the number. "This is the eighth time I've lived after dying. And the first time you don’t…" She looks away from Chirrut’s face. “We need to leave Jedha. We find Captain Cassian Andor, he’s Rebel Intelligence, I came here with him, he’ll get us off Jedha.”

*

Cassian makes his way to where she is at the end of the U-Wing.

She forces herself to meet his gaze.

"Hands," he says.

She looks down, and notices that he has a pair of shackles. "That really isn't necessary," she tells him, even as she holds out her hands in front of her.

He scoffs, soft against the harsh click of the shackles closing. "Really."

She lets out a long sigh. "You think I'm a spy. And you're probably right to. I know more than I should."

Cassian just stares down at her, gaze inscrutable. "Who are you?"

Liana Hallik.

Kestral Dawn.

Jyn Erso.

The daughter of Lyra and Galen Erso.

Someone who is very, very tired.

"You have intel on me, don't you?" she counters. “My name is Jyn Erso, and I’m on your side.”

"And I should trust your word because...."

"There's no because," Jyn tells him. "I set off every one of your warning signs, warning bells, everything about me is suspicious. And, despite all that, deep down you know I'm not a spy. You know I'm on your side. You trust me. You believe me."

His eyes narrow.

"I believe her," Bodhi says.

Jyn closes her eyes. There's a war of sorrow that Chirrut wasn't the one to say it, but the relief of someone saying it – Bodhi, who she disregarded for so long – is just as strong.

By the time she's opened her eyes, Cassian has retreated back to the communication center.

Jyn can't bring herself to watch him. Can't bring herself to look at anyone.

*

Jyn doesn’t keep track of how long it is before they break atmo onto whatever planet the Rebellion has made its next base on. Her stomach drops along with the U-Wing’s descent. At the end of the U-Wing, Jyn has no sightline to the viewports, and it’s a shock as she steps down into a freezing cold hangar.

"Where are we?" Bodhi asks, hands going to rub up and down his arms.

"Somewhere the Empire won't find us," Cassian says, voice rough.

"That's good to hear, but not very specific," Bodhi says.

Jyn turns to look at Cassian, gives him a smile full of teeth. Of course he's not going to tell Bodhi. "He'll tell you when I'm not around," she tells Bodhi.

Cassian doesn't react but to nod his head before them.

General Draven is there with an armed entourage of Rebels.

Jyn should probably stop smiling, but she’s shivering so hard it hurts and she feels near delirious. (Somewhere the Empire won't find us. Maybe there's a chance Vader won't.)

"Jyn Erso," Draven says in that particular disdainful drawl he reserves for her name.

Jyn holds herself tall as she walks forward to greet him. "Lead on, General Davits Draven."

*

She's taken to a very small room. There’s a table and two chairs, all rather flimsy things. She’s left alone for a long stretch of time. The small size of the room makes the chill of the snow walls all the more pronounced. It’s uncomfortable, and a standard interrogation technique.

After ten minutes, Cassian joins her.

Jyn can't help but be relieved to see him. That part of her has no place in an interrogation, though, so she puts the thought out of her mind.

"Do you mind if I sit?" he asks.

"You can do whatever you want," she tells him.

He sits. "You know why I'm here."

"I have an idea," she allows.

"And what is that?"

"You want to know how I knew that you needed to evacuate Yavin 4. And if I have any information on what destroyed it."

He nods. “Something like that.”

"It's called the Death Star."

Cassiain doesn't react.

Jyn leans back. An interrogation is give-and-take, and she can only give so much. She crosses her arms.

Cassian mirrors the motion. "And how do you know that?"

"My father, Galen Erso, made it."

"And when was the last time you were in contact with your father?"

Her boast of I like to imagine he’s dead still haunts her. But thoughts like that don’t help. "We've been in contact for many years."

Cassian raises an eyebrow. "Even though you've been in prison."

"We had our way." It's a blatant lie, and Cassian knows it, but he'll have no way to call her out on it.

"In all of your contact, what else has your father told you?"

She can’t help but lean in, forearms resting on the table. "There's a way to destroy the Death Star."

Again, Cassian mirrors her. His curious tone gives nothing away as he asks, "Is that so?"

"He was conscripted into building the Death Star, but he – he built in a flaw, so it could be destroyed."

"And what do you know about this flaw?"

The file is called Stardust. The databox is on Scarif. But if Vader went after Yavin, he still has his memories, he will be expecting the Rebellion to go to Scarif. It would be walking into certain death, moreso than it already was. But if they can’t go to Scarif, Jyn doesn’t know what to suggest as a plan of action, which puts her down a very valuable bargaining chip.

Cassian narrows his eyes at her hesitation. He lowers his voice, softens it ever so slightly. "It is in your best interest to talk to me."

"I want to speak with Mon Mothma." It’s a bluff, but in all the snowy whites of the base, it seems fitting she would be here.

Another eyebrow raise. "From what Melshi said, you had been adamant about speaking to me."

"And I have. And I told you all that I'm telling you. And now I'm adamant that I'll only talk to Senator Mon Mothma. I know she's on base."

"She has more important things to do than talk to you."

"With all I know, that's a shame."

"Then talk to me."

Jyn gives him a wide smile. Part of her has always wondered what an interrogation between them would look like. She feels like she's winning, and she has no idea how he's done that-- because there's no way he's not in control of this situation. He's lulled her into a false sense of security, and she's fallen for it.

He won't break her, though.

He maintains the silence, staring back at her, almost as if he's humoring her.

The silence lasts a long few minutes.

Jyn sighs out. “Cassian, please–” his mask of indifference slips for just a section, surprise flashing across his face “–let me speak with her.”

He slowly pushes himself to his feet. “I’ll see what I can do.”

*

Jyn taps her toe to keep track of the time after Cassian leaves.

Six minutes, and the door opens.

Mon Mothma has traded her ethereal white gown for an off-white long coat and practical trousers. Still stylish, still possessing her own gravity and grace, even as she sits down – but for the first time she looks human.

"I kissed you," Jyn tells her.

Mon Mothma looks amused.

"You kissed back."

And she smiles at that. "I can imagine that I would.”

“I was mostly undressed,” Jyn feels compelled to add.

There is a gracefulness to everything Mon Mothma does, and that extends to the way her gaze sweeps down Jyn’s body. “You will want to upgrade to warmer clothing for your stay here. What did you wish to speak with me about?”

"Do you believe in the Force?"

Mon Mothma nods. "It is difficult to believe in something I cannot access, but for all that I've seen, yes, I believe in the Force."

"Would you believe me if I said the Force sent me here?"

"Would you be telling the truth if you did?"

It makes Jyn pause. "I don't know," she admits. She stares at Mon Mothma's shoulder for a very long time. It has been a very long time since she has been in this close of contact with this woman. She bites the inside of her cheek. "If I tell you something, will you take me at my word?"

"Will you be telling me the truth?"

"This isn't the first time I've been through this— I mean, it's never been you and me in a frozen Rebel base before. But the Death Star has destroyed Yavin 4 before, at least twice that I know of. I've been to Jedha to retrieve Bodhi Rook and my father's message six times now."

Mon Mothma doesn’t reply.

“You broke me out of that forsaken Wobani labor camp for the use I could be to the Alliance, finding out about the weapon the Empire was creating to destroy planets. I got the information from my father, got the plans for the weapon, got them to the Alliance, and then I died. And then it started over. Again and again and…”

"That does sound rather outlandish," Mon Mothma admits. “Mostly I’m curious as to why didn’t want to tell Captain Andor about any of this?"

"Because it... it involves him. And I have…” Emotion tightens her throat. “I haven’t done enough. Telling him any of this, I know he could do it better. And that's difficult to know. And for him to know how many times we've met, and for him to still look at me like he doesn't know me…”

“Why me?” Mon Mothma asks.

It’s something Jyn has asked of herself so many times. She ignores the thought, and the rising swell of too many emotions in her chest. She can’t break down, not yet. “Because I trust you. I trust that you will do everything you can to move forward with this information.”

“What have I done previously with this information?”

Jyn shakes her head. “The plans for the Death Star are stored on Scarif, and you’ve always done what you could to have the Alliance fight for them. But I have reason to believe Darth Vader is aware of the loops. And he knows that we always push for Scarif.”

Mon Mothma nods, and is silent for a long few minutes. “You have given me much to consider,” she says, finally. She rises to her feet. "I will have an officer show you to your room. Get some rest, get some warmer clothing.”

*

The officer waiting for her had been one of her escorts to the interrogation room, and he does not seem pleased with his task. He takes off without a word, Jyn following silently behind her. After a few hallways, another Rebel comes jogging towards them, tells her escort that he’s being summoned by General Draven. He gives her instructions on how to get to her room, before walking off without her.

Jyn is too cold to care. She trudges along, mentally reciting the instructions to keep them from fading from her memory.

The door won't open.

Jyn glares down at it. All the emotions she’s been pushing down are pushing back, swelling up and threatening to overwhelm her, because if she’s not able to even get her door to open, how the fuck is she going to be able to solve any of this, how–

"That's, uh, my door."

Jyn stills. That’s Bodhi’s voice. This is Bodhi’s door. She’s been trying to open Bodhi’s door. Frustrated tears sting her eyes, and she screws her eyes shut. She is at the very edge, but she needs to wait until she's at her own room before she can let her guard down. Stay strong for just a few minutes more. She has cried a few times before. Her father’s death. Confessing to Cassian. But to break down entirely…

The shuffle of clothing acts as a warning before there's a touch to her arm. "Are you okay?"

She steps back from the door. No matter how many times she blinks, she can't clear her vision. "I'm... which room is mine?"

Bodhi doesn’t reply. There’s the beep of a punch code and the swoosh of a door opening. Then hands rest on her shoulders. He guides her into his room, to his bed, and gently goads her into sitting.

Jyn sits down. Her body is tired, but she needs to get to her room. She opens her mouth to speak, to tell him that she's fine, really, but her throat is too tight to speak. Her shoulders slump, and her body hunches over. She can feel it all crashing down on her.

Bodhi wraps an arm around her shoulder.

She tries to pull out of it, but he wraps his other arm around her front, pulling her against his side and into a hug.

Her shoulders shake with a sob, mouth distorting to keep from crying. Her breathing comes heavily.

Bodhi squeezes her tighter. "Jyn..."

Jyn breaks down.

For the first few seconds, she can breathe easier— she's been holding it in for so long, and to let the pressure off, it's refreshing, and with each sobs she pulls in a deep gulps of air to her aching lungs. It takes the edge off.

But the tears keep coming up.

Her chest shakes harder and harder with the long, broken sobs torn from her. It’s loud, and it’s ugly, and she can hear it even over the rushing in her ears. She can't feel anything, only the rough line of sobs. They leave her breathless and gasping for air, dizziness contrasting against the heaviness of her chest. There’s no reprieve, like there’s been no reprieve from her, just an unending torrent of anguish and helplessness.

Distantly, there's the sound of talking.

The bed shifts next to her. A hand finds hers, coaxing her fist to unclench. Fingers lace with hers, dry and cool against how hot and clammy hers are. There’s a gentle squeeze.

Chirrut. It has to be.

He's always there for her. He always can comfort her, has always offered his comfort.

She remembers all the times she has.

He doesn’t.

She keeps sobbing.

She feels like it may be starting to wind down, ever so slightly, and she hiccups. Her body aches, every inch of her sore. She feels every injury – pulled muscles, strained joints, hard impacts.

Bodhi pulls away, and Jyn makes a protesting noise, but shuts her eyes, refusing to see their reactions to her weakness. But a moment later he's sitting back beside her, and there's a press of metal against her lips. She opens her eyes to see a canteen.

"You need to rehydrate," Bodhi murmurs.

She lets out a sigh, and raises a shaking hand to take a few sips of the water. Her hand is shaking so hard that it sloshes over, spilling down the front of her shirt. It makes her laugh, ugly and broken. It gets another ugly, broken noise, and another. She takes a deep breath in to keep from dissolving into sobs again.

There's a knock at the door.

Jyn curls into herself. It’s going to be Cassian. She doesn’t think she can face Cassian.

Bodhi goes over to the door.

Chirrut squeezes her hand.

Jyn looks down at their hands, then traces her gaze up his wrist and arm and shoulder to his face.

He’s facing her, and his expression is apologetic.

Her bottom lip quivers. "I don't get it," Jyn says. "You've always remembered me." And it stings, one of the hardest loses she’s yet to bear. She bites her lip and looks away. There's still some tears to cry, and her shoulders shake with the effort of it.

"I'm sorry," Chirrut says. It’s soft and quiet, but bears the heaviness of the words.

She shakes her head. "It's not your fault– you'd– I'd like to think that–"

He lets go of her hand to wrap an arm around her, pulling her into an embrace. His far hand rests on top of hers. He presses a kiss against her temple. Even quieter, he whispers, “I would not want to forget you.”

Jyn presses herself against him to keep from bawling.

The door closes.

Bodhi makes his way back to sit by her side.

Jyn looks up for a moment.

Cassian stands in the middle of the room, K2 standing closer back to the wall.

She can't hold his gaze, drops it to the floor at his feet.

"Explain," Cassian says.

Another wave of tears washes over her.

Chirrut tightens his embrace, and Bodhi pulls her free hand into his.

“We’re Rogue One,” Jyn says, vision still blurred. She squeezes Bodhi’s hand as she says, “You named us. And then we were Rogue Two, then Rogue Three, and it’s gone on and on and…”

She doesn't have the energy to shake, her lungs are too tired for her to sob, but the tears still fall down her face. She takes a steadying breath, then another. "I was broken out of my Wobani prison. I was taken to Yavin 4.” She risks a glance at Cassian. “You took me to Jedha. We met Chirrut and Baze, I saw my father's message, we took Bodhi and we fled. The Death Star appeared and destroyed Jedha. I didn't bring my father's message, and we went to Eadu to extract him. We crash-landed, and the Alliance sent a squadron to kill my father. We returned to Yavin 4, tried to convince the Council to go to Scarif, where the Death Star plans were, but they didn't. We went on our own. We got the plans, we transmit them, and in the process we all died."

Into the quiet, Jyn concludes, "And that was the first time we went through it."

A long, quiet, cold silence follows.

On her left, Bodhi is looking at her with a skeptical gaze, his mouth pulled down into a frown. In the middle of the room, Cassian's gaze is completely blank, neutral, giving away nothing. K2 is a droid, there is nothing to give away. Against the far wall, Baze looks assessing, contemplative, like he's still trying to understand how things fit together. On her right, Chirrut's expression is open and openly supportive.

"You believe me," she breathes out.

"I believe you," he echoes.

She closes her eyes. Chirrut believes her. He's always believed in her. And where he goes, Baze goes. She’s lost them, and yet, they haven’t been lost, not entirely, and it warms her.

"What you're saying," Cassian says. "It's..."

"It's not possible?" Jyn offers, staring up at him. "That's what you were going to say, right?"

He frowns.

"And to answer your next question, yes, I've told you this before, but only once."

His frown deepens.

"Why only once?" Bodhi asks.

Jyn looks to him. "Because... in the beginning, I was afraid. I could barely understand what was going on, I was struggling with believing it. And then, I didn't trust him. He had told me he believed me so many times, and I realized I didn't trust him back. There hasn't been any time since. The past two times, I didn't see any of you."

"Why not?" Cassian asks.

Jyn looks back to Cassian. "You've gone undercover in the Empire before," she says, and she's known him long enough that she catches his repressed flinch. "You know how much more effective it can be. The first time, I turned myself in to the Warden, to the Empire, and got stationed at Scarif. I transmit the plans. I thought that maybe that would have been the end. You all were safe. But then Vader arrived, and..."

"You've met Darth Vader?" Bodhi asks in a hushed whisper.

Jyn gives him a humorless smile. "Three times. And I've been killed by him twice."

"And the third?" Cassian asks, seeming genuinely curious.

Jyn thinks back to the escort to Scarif. Of being at the mercy of the most powerful being in the galaxy, and that powerful being not deigning to kill her, or even respond to her. "He just wanted to show that he won. That he remembered me.”

“He remembered? Vader is in on this?” Bodhi asks.

Jyn nods.

“I don’t know. I don’t know how this works."

"What do you mean you don't know?" Cassian asks. "You've gone through this over half a dozen times."

"There’s the Force, and kyber crystals, and…”

"And what?"

"I pray each time before I die. That the Force..." It's not a prayer she's ever said out loud, and her voice shakes as she continues, "is with me, I am one with..."

"The Force," Cassian finishes for her. He turns to Chirrut and Baze. His voice is sharp as he asks, "If that's all there is, why don't you remember?"

“We were able to,” Baze says. “Up until this time.”

“What was different this time?”

Everyone turns back to Jyn. “The past two times, I tried to get through infiltrating the Empire. I didn’t see any of you.”

“So that’s good news,” Bodhi says, tentatively. “If we keep you away from Vader for two loops, then he forgets you too, right?”

“Maybe.” Jyn shakes her head. “I’m… I’m too tired to think it through.”

“So this – this all happens,” Bodhi says, tone uncertain in a way that doesn’t match his eyes. His thumb rubs up and down her hand. “But have you slept? Have you eaten?”

Jyn shakes her head.

Cassian turns to K2. "None of this is possible," he says. After a long silence, he prompts, "Right?"

"Strictly speaking, nothing is truly impossible. There are just statistics that are the very highest of unlikelihood."

"And this? What are the statistics that this isn't just someone having a break from reality?"

K2 pauses that Jyn thinks might be hesitation. "I need to gather more information before I can give a proper percentage."

"No you don't. Kay, you rattle off percentages that you adjust within seconds, you–”

"On Jedha you slapped him," Jyn says. "You were pretending you hadn't been reprogrammed, were a real Imperial droid. Cassian tried to talk over you, salvage your horrible lying, and you slapped him, and told him there was another one if he mouthed off again."

Cassian stares between Jyn, then K2, then Jyn again. He shakes his head. "I don't believe it."

"Yes you do. You believe me. Cassian, you..." She bites her lip. He’s believed her. From the public declarations to the quiet space between the two of them, he’s believed her.

“I believe you,” Bodhi says. His hand squeezes hers. “It’s awful, everything that’s happened to you, but I believe you.”

Jyn closes her eyes.

“Why you?” Cassian asks.

Jyn lets out a bark of a laugh. “I’ve been asking myself since the beginning,” she tells him. “I’ll be glad to tell you when I finally find out.”

There’s a contemplative silence.

“How…” Cassian starts slowly. “How did Vader find you?”

Jyn closes her eyes. How did Vader find her, how did Vader find her… she flips through the jagged fragments of her memory. She ends up on a dark night in Scarif. “He told me he sensed a Disturbance in the Force. On Eadu, on Scarif… I don’t know if it was how often I was there, or if I’m the Disturbance that draws him…”

Chirrut shakes his head. “It is not you.”

“If it were you, he probably would have found you sooner.”

Chirrut repeats, “It is not you.”

“You’ve never been to Hoth in any of the loops, have you?” Cassian asks.

Jyn shakes her head. Doesn’t have the energy to point out that she didn’t even know they were on Hoth.

“So Vader isn’t going to come here,” Bodhi says. Then amends, “Isn’t likely to come here. And we just keep you here, keep you safe… somehow…”

It hangs in the air.

Jyn lists against Chirrut. Her stomach turns with what she's going to say, but it is an option, and it does need to be said. Baze is already shaking his head, but Jyn presses on. "Or I could kill myself."

"What?" Bodhi asks, while Chirrut says, "No."

"You can't kill yourself," Cassian replies.

"See, if nothing else, you're outvoted," Bodhi tells her.

Cassian forces himself to meet Jyn’s gaze. "We have the chance to gather actionable intel and use it sooner than we otherwise could. If you were to kill yourself, it would be a waste."

He’s not wrong.

The room goes silent.

"Wow," Bodhi says. His hands are clenching her tightly. "It's not– it's not that she's a human, it's not that we're going to keep her safe, it's not because she doesn't deserve us giving up on her, it's so she can get information and take it back to the beginning of the loop."

"I'm most important to the Rebellion as an asset," Jyn says. "It's why they brought me in."

"No, we just– we just fucking talked about this!"

"I'm not a spy," Jyn says, turning to Cassian. "I don't know how to gather intel, not for the Rebellion at least. All the information I have, I stumbled upon it, I don't know how to seek it out. Come up with mission plans, I will go on them, I'll do everything I can for the Rebellion, but I don't know how to... I've never figured out how to..." She pulls her hand out from under Chirrut’s to wipe the tears away from her eyes. She couldn't get information for the Rebellion on her own.

"What information do you have?" Cassian asks.

"You've–"

"Bodhi," Jyn interrupts. He squeezes her hand tighter. "I know the plans for the Death Star are on Scarif, called Stardust. I know the way to access Saw was Stardust as well. And the code 21-87 can be used to override a few controls on Scarif, possibly through the Imperial Forces."

Silence.

"That's all?"

"Okay," Bodhi says, voice loud and angry. "Hold up a second here."

Jyn shakes her head. "No, Bodhi, he's right," she tells him. She should have been able to get more information.

"No, he's not, not really, and even if he is, that doesn't mean he's also not wrong."

"When was the last time you saw snow?"

Baze's voice takes them by all surprise.

Baze is staring at Jyn.

She blinks, repeats the question to herself. She shakes her head. "I… I don't know. Years?"

"Let's go outside."

The air is charged and heavy and Jyn still can’t breathe. “Okay.” She stands, Chirrut’s arm sliding off her, Bodhi’s hands falling away.

Baze is at the door.

Jyn takes three steps into the middle of the room, stops parallel with Cassian. “I’m sorry,” she tells him.

He jerks his head towards the door.

Jyn’s not sure if it’s permission or a dismissal. She shakes as she follows Baze through the hallways. She should be keeping an eye out and memorizing the route, but the cold and her exhaustion have numbed her.

They reach a hangar, and Baze has acquired a second coat, and he hands another to Jyn. They’re both white, and heavily padded. She pulls hers on with numb fingers.

Baze talks with a few Rebels, and then they’re walking out into the snow.

The sky is cloudy and overcast, a light gray that is only a few shades off from the white snow.

Baze starts walking and keeps walking, leading her until the base is hardly visible on the horizon.

Jyn looks around. The snow has becoming more and more blinding the further out they’ve gotten, and the horizon is nothing more than a blur.

“I know,” Baze starts, words quiet in the frozen air, “what it is like to hold back so not to worry others. You don’t need to hold back.”

Jyn feels her pulse pick up. She looks at him questioningly.

“This moon is near the dark corners of space. We are out of hearing range from the base.” He repeats, “You don’t need to hold back.”

Jyn takes a deep breath, lets it out, takes a deeper breath, and screams.

It taps in with an internal fear, the two resonating. She screams harder. Her hands bury in her hair. She sinks to her knees. She keeps screaming. Starts sobbing again. Her teartracks freeze on her face. She can’t get rid of this fear and agony and frustration, she can’t fully let go of it, and her body shakes with the sobs, trying to expel it.

She can’t.

She can’t, she can’t, she…

Her throat is raw with the cold when Baze finally helps her to her feet. He pulls her into an embrace, and she sways into him. His hand runs over her hair. Presses a kiss to her bow. “I have faith in you.”

Jyn presses herself closer against him. She can’t speak, can only take in deep gulps of air.

His breathing is calm and steady. His heartbeat is faint through so many layers of clothing, but it is a matching calm, a matching steady. Slowly, her own breathing and her own heartbeat even out to match his.

“We will get you through this, little sister,” he tells her.

*

Baze leads her back into the base.

She’s numb, still numb, but a different numb.

Numb as she is lead to her room.

Numb as Baze opens the door to her room and gently steers her in.

She drops the white coat from her shoulders and slips under the covers and wills herself to sleep.

*

She doesn’t sleep.

She gets up and blocks the path of the first officer she sees. “My name is Jyn Erso. Take me to see Senator Mon Mothma.”

He frowns, but must be on orders, because he leads her to Mon Mothma’s quarters.

Despite her status as Senator, her quarters are small, the same size as Jyn’s or Bodhi’s quarters. She’s sitting up in her bed, watching Jyn with curious eyes.

Jyn doesn’t have time to be sheepish about waking her up. “What happened to Jedha?”

Her mouth curves down into a frown. “There was a mining incident, or so the Senate was told. Before the Senate was disbanded.”

“So he… they destroyed Yavin. Then Jedha.”

“And Scarif.”

Jyn’s stomach drops. “What?”

“I had some Rebels posted in the Savareen sector, to surveil Scarif. A report came in recently that the planet was destroyed,” Mon Mothma tells her.

She stands silent for a few moments, trying to figure out what to do with the information. Is it worth the risk of staying alive to gather intel?

Mon Mothma slides out of bed and makes her way over to Jyn. She reaches over, and lays a warm hand against Jyn’s cheek. “Go back to sleep, Jyn.”

Jyn lets out a heavy sigh. “I couldn’t sleep.”

“Please try. You need to rest.” After a moment, Mon Mothma slides her thumb under Jyn’s chin and tells her, “If you are to help the Rebellion, we need you rested.”

Something loosens in her chest. Jyn gives the older woman a wry grin. “I’m guessing there are a few Rebels you need to use that reasoning with.”

“A few,” she agrees, a sad smile on her face. She leans in and presses a kiss to Jyn’s cheek. “Get some rest,” she repeats.

Exhaustion seeps in more and more as Jyn returns to her hallway. She stares at her door for a long few moments, then shuffles another door down and knocks.

Bodhi is bleary-eyed as he looks at her. “Jyn?” he asks. “Everything all–” he cuts himself off with a yawn.

Jyn doesn’t know what to say. Asking for help is still not something she does easily.

Thankfully, Bodhi catches on, and he opens his arms. She steps into the hug, forehead against his neck. He’s warm. Safe. Comfortable. She breathes out, some of the tension fading away.

They stand like that for a long few moments, before Bodhi says, “It’s warmer under the covers.”

She nods.

He pulls her inside, shuts the door, and they shuffle back to the bed. Somehow he maneuvers them into the bed without letting her go from his embrace.

They shift and shuffle and turn, finally settling with Jyn facing the door, Bodhi pressed against her back.

Despite the exhaustion, she can’t help the thoughts churning in the back of her mind. “What if it doesn’t just reset when I die?” Jyn asks. “What if it resets when I fall asleep? I haven’t slept, nothing more than a doze.”

Bodhi is quiet for a long stretch of time. Jyn would almost wonder if he was already asleep, had his breathing not changed. “Well,” he says finally, “even if that is the case, I like to think that falling asleep with me is better than dying.”

Jyn is too tired to do more than huff a breath, hoping it conveys amusement and agreement.

He runs his hand up and down her arm. “For what it’s worth, I don’t think the Force would be that cruel. You deserve to sleep.” His voice lowers. “Go to sleep, Jyn. I’ll be here when you wake up.”

It’s a comforting thought.

With that, she falls asleep.

*

Jyn wakes up to (a drop of water on her forehead, to a scream and dust caught in her throat) her arm being jostled.

She startles. She sits up. Looks around. She’s still on the Rebel base. She blinks a few times. Calms her breathing.

Bodhi is sitting on the edge of the bed. His expression is sheepish. “Sorry about waking you. I’m just…I’ve got a talk with the pilots in a few minutes. I know I… that I said I would be here when you woke up, but I actually probably wouldn’t be, and so…”

Jyn sags as the brief spike of adrenaline already fades away. She runs her hand over her face. “It’s alright, I’m used to people breaking their promises.”

“It’s not alright, and I don’t want to do that to you.” He sets a hand on her cheek. “Go back to sleep, Jyn. I won’t be here when you wake up again, but you will wake up again.”

The thought is as comforting as his smile, and Jyn curls back into herself and drifts back off.

*

Jyn wakes up alone in Bodhi’s bed. Part of her wants to go back to sleep, but the bone-deep exhaustion isn’t one that sleep can abate.

She returns to her own quarters. A pile of clothes is on the foot of her bed, along with a few packets of rations. After her past two experiences in changing into an Imperial security officer, it feels strange to change into white clothing.

It almost feels like a dream, but Jyn isn’t allowed dreams – she dies, she wakes up, there is no reprieve. This is real, as little as it feels real.

She finds her way to the command center where Melshi assures her that she’ll be summoned when she’s needed. The dismissal is final, but the rebuff rankles her.

Cassian mentioned that they were on Hoth. Jyn doesn’t know what sector it’s in, but knows well enough to guess that it’s an Outer Rim planet.

She explores the base, mentally recreating it as a map as she does so. It’s the constant vigilence Saw taught her, and she feels a bit more like herself. As much as she can when she’s avoiding Chirrut and Baze.

On her last circuit, she turns a corner to wind up face-to-face with Cassian.

His gaze darts over her, a quick assessment. Wondering how she is recovering from yesterday. “Jyn,” he greets. “You look better rested.”

The weariness she’s seen in flashes, in harsher moments, is completely unmasked. “You don’t.”

He raises an eyebrow. “You can tell,” he says, and he almost sounds impressed.

It makes Jyn smirk. “I can tell.”

He hesitates, but starts walking.

“Where are you going? Jyn asks, turning and falling in step with him.

“To sleep. I’ve been overseeing preparations on intel gathering missions, and dozing off every now and then, but Draven is ordering me to sleep.”

“We’re better use to them when we’re better rested.”

Cassian looks at her out of the corner of his eye. “I’m glad you understand that.”

She raises an eyebrow.

“Understand what it means to help the Rebellion.”

“I haven’t always.” She sighs through her nose. “I learned, though.”

“It’s not an easy thing to learn is it,” he murmurs.

“No. It’s not.”

His gazes at her, eyes soft and understanding. “I’m glad you learned it.”

“I’m…” But Jyn can’t think of anything to say. She throws her arms around his neck and pulls him into a kiss. He stiffens, and she worries if she’s misjudged, if this indulgence will be brief and one-sided. Then his hand is cupping her cheek, and he’s kissing back. Jyn gasps into it – she’s wanted this for so long, and she whimpers as his tongue slides against hers, as his stubble grazes against her cheek.

There’s an “excuse me, sorry,” as someone tries to pass them in the hallway.

It makes Cassian pull away, but even a second away is too long. Jyn takes a step back towards the wall and drags him back to her. She tightens her arms around his neck, one hand reaching to card through his hair. It’s softer than she ever thought it could be, light and silky between her fingers.

He pulls back as much as he can with her wrapped around him. “We should–”

Her mouth meets his again, because she can’t bear to think about any shoulds or coulds. She wants this moment.

He pulls back again, and says in a rush, “My room’s just a few doors down.”

She presses a kiss against his neck, getting a sharp inhale from him. She smiles against his skin, thrilled at the idea she can surprise him. He shuffles them down the hall, and she digs her hands into his parka. It seems bulkier, like he has more layers on underneath. She wants to see them, peel his layers off.

He fumbles for the door lock, and eventually pulls away to open it. He turns back to her, brushes his mouth against hers. “I’m not a good person,” he says against her mouth.

She kisses him hard, as if there were some way to show him he’s wrong with her teeth and tongue and lips. Everything she has experienced has shown that he’s wrong – he’s the best of the Rebels, really. While she… she pulls away, panting, and nuzzles her nose against his ear. “You’re better than I am.”

Before he can reply, she closes the door behind them.

*

She wakes up in a gradual slide into consciousness. Facts filter in. She is on her side. Her forehead is dry. The ambient noises of Wobani are missing. She’s not in her Wobani cell. There’s a warm body pressed against her. Her body does not tense. Some part of her knows she’s safe in… safe here in…

…in Cassian’s bed.

For a moment, she lets herself take it in. Lets herself take hold of this moment. She's in Cassian’s bed, and he's warm against her, and this is something she has wanted so very badly. She’s wanted the intertwine of last night, she’s wanted the still peace of the morning. And she finally has it.

The moment ends when Cassian slides out of bed.

Jyn doesn’t sigh. She pulls the covers against her chest as she sits up. "Where are you going?"

"I need to check in with General Draven. He wanted me to rest, but check back in after a few hours."

"Check in for what?"

“See if they have a mission that needs me.”

Jyn lets herself fall back against the already-cooling bed and lets herself sigh. "Let me get dressed," she says.

"You're not coming with me."

Jyn glares over at him. "I'm not going to lie here while you do work for the Rebellion."

"You've done enough already–”

"Don't tell me that," Jyn says. It comes out as a snap, but she can’t help it. His words echoes from the time he told her she did enough already by nearly crashing them on Eadu.

He looks surprised. But he walks back over, and sets his hands on her shoulders. "You've fought hard, Jyn. You deserve some time to rest."

"And what about you? You've been in this fight since you were six years old. Have you ever taken time to rest?"

He raises his eyebrows. "Some," he tells her. "Including just earlier.” His lips flick into a smile. “It was a very nice rest. But I need to get back to work now.”

She watches the lines of his body as he dresses. Shirt, jacket, quilted jacket, parka. “If I try to follow you, will I be turned away?”

“Probably,” he admits. He cups her cheeks in his hands and kisses the top of her head. “Go back to sleep.”

She can’t, and instead dresses and heads for the mess hall. Everyone watches her warily, and she eats as quickly as she can manage.

She does a circuit around the base, making sure her mental map is accurate. It’s not until she’s at Hangar Bay 7 does she find Chirrut and Baze. Baze is working on an X-Wing while Chirrut keeps him company.

“You are better rested,” Chirrut observes as she makes her way over to the short stack of crates he is sitting on. “A restful night will do that.”

“Did you have a restful night?” Jyn asks, mouth twitching into a smile.

Chirrut smiles beatifically.

Baze sighs and shakes his head, and goes back to whatever he’s welding.

Jyn feels like she needs to do something. Explain herself, explain their pasts. Strategize, beg for help. But Chirrut is a silent companion, aside from his yells of mostly unhelpful advice to Baze. Chirrut coaxes Baze to accompany him to lunch. He pointedly suggests she take an reprieve. She ignores the suggestion.

*

Jyn returns to the command center again, and is rebuffed again. Her hands clench into fists.

The Rebel looks mildly concerned, but he holds his ground.

She stalks back to her quarters.

There’s a squad of pilots in orange jumpsuits, and Bodhi is among them. Laughing among them. It makes her heart ache, and she gives him a terse nod, and keeps walking.

A turn down a hallway later, Bodhi catches up to her. “Hey, Jyn–”

“Go back to the pilots,” she tells him.

“Why?”

She stops and jerks her head back to the corner he came around. She repeats, “Go back to the pilots.”

“Not when you…”

“When I what?” she asks, keeping a rein on her anger.

“You look like you need a hug.”

Jyn blinks and shakes her head. After a long moment of silence, she realizes he’s not going to leave her. “Saw… he did terrible things to you. I’ve only ever been able to save you from that… three times, maybe? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you laugh and be so… happy.”

Bodhi tucks a lock of hair behind her ear. “I’m happy around you. Where are you headed?”

“Back to my quarters.” Bodhi’s expression has dimmed, and she adds, “Chirrut thinks I need a nap.”

It gets a laugh from him, expression lighting back up, and they walk in silence.

Jyn goes into her room, and Bodhi follows.

This is something she hasn’t addressed, has put off addressing, but she can’t do it anymore. “Saw… He did awful things,” Jyn says. “But he was still… He was like a father to me. And it’s hard to reconcile that with what he did to you.”

“But you saved me. Thank you.”

She shakes her head and steps back. “Not always.”

He matches the step and pulls her into a hug. “You saved me this time.”

She melts into it. Bodhi was right, she did need a hug.

He shuffles them back until her legs hit the bed. The shuffle continues as he moves back to lean up against the wall, and pull her into his lap.

The silence is peaceful, but something about Bodhi shifts, and suddenly she knows what he is going to say.

"I don’t know if I’ve told you this, but your father talked about you," Bodhi tells her, quietly.

Jyn thinks of her father – thinks of all the memories of him broken and suffering. She closes her eyes and shakes her head.

"He wondered where you were, if you were safe. Hoped that you would be able to help take down the Empire. He's proud of you," Bodhi tells her.

"I– he shouldn't be."

Bodhi’s hand goes to her chin, turns her to face him.

She opens her eyes to his frown. Lowers her eyes. "I only joined the Rebellion when they showed up to break me out of jail. I only joined because they needed me, because my father sent you to Saw, and they needed a way in to speak with Saw. I never chose the Rebellion, the Rebellion chose me."

"And that's why you've done everything to save the Rebellion the past however many times you were doing this?" he asks, raising an eyebrow.

Jyn sighs out.

Bodhi’s arm around her waist pulls her in closer. "I only joined the Rebellion because of your father as well— I could have ignored him, turned him in, even, and kept going, head down. But I made the choice, and I stuck with it. And so have you. You haven't ignored what's going on, you've fought and fought and fought."

Tears streak down her face.

"The one thing you haven't done is give up. And even if you don't think your father would be proud of you... I am."

She looks up at him.

They are very close, and his gaze on her is so unbearably fond. He leans in closer and closer, and then he presses a soft kiss against her cheek. "I'm proud of you,” he repeats.

Jyn curls into him, trying to cling to what he's saying. She is slogging through and doing what feels right to her, and it doesn't feel like bravery, or anything of the sort. It's long and tortuous, but it's the path of least resistance, truly. She can’t dredge up any pride. And others’ pride… it makes her feel like a liar, that guilt precariously balanced on everything else she has to carry.

“I’m tired.”

“I’m going to meet back up with the pilots,” he says, drawing half a smile out of her. “You, get some sleep.”

*

She sleeps for a few hours.

*

A few hours after that, she’s in the dark of Cassian’s quarters. Her body is still tingling, the warm afterglow awash through her. Cassian is at her back, his arm sliding over her waist. He is warm, warm and solid and steadying in every way she’s been hoping for. His fingers circle around her navel, the touch light and near familiar. This is something she’s wanted, but that sated desire is not enough to keep her mind free of doubts. “Does Draven know about this?”

His fingers still. “He’s my commanding officer.”

“Not your best deflection,” Jyn murmurs. “I take it he’s not happy.”

His hand smooths across her stomach. “I’m keeping an eye on you. That makes him happy enough.”

The mellow fog is fading from her brain. Doubt seeps into her, the same seep as the sweat cooling at the back of her neck and at the hollow of her throat. Draven knows. Cassian justifies it as keeping an eye on her. She’s a wildcard to the Rebellion. Cassian keeping an eye on her makes Draven happy enough. She stares into the dark of the room. Cassian isn’t sleeping with her because he’s been ordered to. She could keep quiet, let his fingers wander farther down, let him keep kissing down her back, but at the same time– “You’re– you’re not doing this because you feel obligated to… right?”

“You already asked me that,” he murmurs, breathing the words against her spine.

Jyn doesn’t comment.

He pulls himself back up and presses flush against her. “And what did I tell you?”

I want you.

And in the heat of the moment, she believed him.

“Jyn?”

She doesn’t know if she still believes him.

He shifts, and then he’s guiding her to lie on her back, his body covering hers. He reaches down, thumb brushing away a tear. “Jyn?”

“You said you wanted me.” And it was something she was so desperate to hear.

“I do.” He leans in and brushes his mouth against hers. She opens her mouth to the kiss, letting him take the lead. It’s soft and searching, and Jyn feels tears fall down her face. His face is against hers, and he pulls back, frowning at the tears. “Jyn, what’s wrong?”

“You don’t–” but her throat constricts. Love me. Want me. Care about me. Not really.

Not the way I do.

“I do. You know me. Am I lying?”

She closes her eyes so she doesn’t have to find out. “I know you,” she echoes. “I would be able to tell if you were lying.” She keeps her eyes closed so she doesn’t have to see his reaction.

“Jyn, trust me.”

She stares up at him. He’s gorgeous, every curve of his face, the dark curl of his eyelashes. His body is a grounding weight against her, a heavy counterpoint against the softness of his gaze. The fondness. The focus. Like she’s the only thing in the galaxy that matters.

Will they ever have this again?

Do they even have it now?

If she acknowledges that they don’t, her heart will break.

“Let me hold you,” she says. Because this – this is safe. She’s held him before, and she’ll hold him again. The timelines that she’s held him tend to go better than those where she doesn’t.

Cassian’s arms are on either side of her head, and he leans down to kiss her.

She runs her hands down his back, over muscles and scars. Pulls him tighter against her, every inch of his skin pressed down against her. She’s explored every scar. Every time she sees him after this, she will know what his bare back looks like, will know every scar hidden by his shirt. She sobs against his mouth, pushing her lips against his harsher and harsher.

Cassian pulls back, dipping his forehead against hers. “What do you need, Jyn?”

“Let me hold you,” she repeats.

He does.

*

The next morning – after waking up alone in Cassian’s bed – she is finally summoned to the command center.

It took them some time to track her down. By the time she throws on her clothes and makes her way over, the cavernous room is already full, and Jyn tucks herself away against a chilly wall.

Mon Mothma is at the center of attention. "A few days ago, we heard rumors that the Empire was building a super weapon. We now know that it exists, and it is called the Death Star. Our intelligence has discovered that there is a flaw in the construction that will allow the station to be destroyed with one direct hit to a reactor module. The archives that stored the Death Star plans have been destroyed, but our officers have looked into searching for older versions of the plans, versions the Empire might not know about. Our best option has been the planet Geonosis – with our intelligence officers combing through old Empire transmissions, we have found that the plans were once stored in a Geonosian spire. There is a chance that it we were to access the system, we might be able to access an old version of the plans.

"Some squadrons are being deployed to draw the Empire's attention away. Meanwhile, We will have three teams leading the mission to retrieve the plans. We have a source that will be able to verify them."

Jyn gets a few looks cast her way. She ignores them, keeps her gaze on Mon Mothma.

"We do not know what we will find, or if we will be able to act immediately on any intel we find. The entire base is to be on high-alert for the duration of the mission. May the Force be with us."

Everyone understands the dismissal.

Jyn stays standing against her wall, watching people shuffle past her. She makes her way over to where Cassian is coordinating with the other two team leads. "I'm–"

"With me," he says with a brief glance, before turning back to the team leads.

Her heart skips a beat. “Good.”

He glances back again, but this time shoots her a brief smile.

Jyn goes to Mon Mothma. "I don't think my father had access to the original version of the plans," she says. She pitches her voice too quiet for anyone else to hear. "Whatever plans you may find on Geonosis, they won't be current, they won’t have the flaw my father built into it.”

"But there may be another flaw. There may be something else." Matching her tone to Jyn’s, Mon Mothma says, "You have not tried this before, have you?"

Jyn shakes her head.

"Then you may discover something there that may help. And that is why we need you to look at the plans, to see if they differ from what you know of the plans."

Jyn nods.

*

The U-Wing comprises of her, Cassian, Bodhi, Chirrut, Baze, and K2.

“Rogue One,” Bodhi says into the quiet air of the cabin.

Jyn stares out the windows. “Rogue Four,” she replies.

*

Geonosis is dry and sandy and a stark contrast after Hoth. It makes Jyn that much more glad she brought her old set of clothes, the dark browns and greens that will draw far less attention than the stark white.

"You've never been here before, have you?" Cassian asks.

Jyn tears her gaze away from the scenery. "No. Where exactly are we?"

“We are in the N’ge’u Valley of the E’Y-Akh Desert,” calls Bodhi from the pilot seat. “Soon to be at the spire that housed the Separatist’s primary Command Center. Just a few minutes out.”

A few minutes until Rogue One – Rogue Four – is on the mission to get the Death Star plans. A few minutes left of silence. And there’s been something bothering Jyn. She looks around the U-Wing. "You haven't asked where all I've been, all I’ve done. I told some things back that first day, but none of you have asked."

"I can’t speak for anyone else, but I'm planning on it," Bodhi says. He gives her a soft smile. "I just figured it would be best to wait until the mission is completed."

Despite his soft smile, Jyn feels cold. Is this time going to complete the mission? She hopes so.

Rebellions are built on hope, she reminds herself.

*

The Rebels land in the hangar at the bottom of a spire. The other two groups have a dozen Rebels a piece. After spilling out of their respective ships, they all circle around Cassian.

“Kes, you take the second floor. Tuck, you take the third. We take the fourth. I don’t know how many floors there are, but if they’re all as high as this hanger, there should be at least a dozen. You clear your computer system, you clear it with me, you go to the next floor up. Got it?”

There are various nods and murmurs of agreement.

“Good. Let’s go.”

The group starts breaking up.

Jyn makes her way to Cassian, Bodhi in stride with her.

"Bodhi, you stay with the ship," Cassian says.

"What?" he asks. "No."

Cassian stares at him for a very long minute, then whistles. "Kes, we need one of your men to take my pilot’s post.”

Kes looks curious, but he doesn't ask why.

Now on a mission, Jyn can’t blame him. Cassian's face has hardened, everything about him honed and sharpened.

Geonosians are winged, and the spiral stairs along the wall are steep and narrow, nothing more than a half-hearted courtesy.

They all file up the stairs, Kes’s group taking the second floor, Tuck’s group taking the third floor.

Cassian leads them into the primary Command Center.

A large conference table takes up most of the room, uncomfortably similar to the conference room on the Death Star. She puts it out of mind, and sits on the table, her feet going to rest on the chair. Bodhi sits next to her.

Baze posts himself at the entrance to the chamber, while Chirrut starts a circle around the room, quietly chanting under his breath.

“Any tips for finding what we’re looking for?” Cassian asks, while K2 plugs himself into the computer.

"It's not going to have the same file name my father used. And they’re not going to be the plans my father worked from." Which makes her useless.

Cassian gives her a look. "I don't think they did an entire rewrite of the Death Star engineering plans. You can at least tell us if we have the right thing."

Jyn nods. "K2, this would be a good time to tell us to stop talking and distracting you."

"That would require me to actually be listening to you."

"Kay," Cassian chides.

Jyn just laughs. After everything, knowing K2 hasn't changed is reassuring.

A long few minutes pass.

"Do all intel missions involve this much quiet waiting?" Bodhi asks.

"This barely qualifies as a wait," Cassian replies. “And what are you doing Chirrut?”

"This place has a lingering aura to it. I am trying to better place it. I believe it once held some Force-powerful being," Chirrut says.

Baze scoffs. "This was a hangar for Separatists.”

"How did the Separatists have plans for the Empire's super weapon?" Bodhi’s asks.

"There were many different branches of Separatists," Cassian says, and something in his tone carries a finality.

Kes arrives to cut through the sudden tension. “We’ve cleared the second floor, Cassian.”

Cassian nods. “Good. Head up to the fifth.”

“Already on it,” he says, shooting him a grin, and then disappearing.

“I believe I found the plans.”

“Really?” Cassian asks, tone carrying the same surprise they are all feeling.

“Yes. But I have a bad feeling about this, Cassian.”

“How so?”

A holo shines red with the Death Star plans.

For the rest of Rogue One, it’s their first experience with it, but Jyn is well-acquainted with it. She stares at it, trying to commit every detail to memory, trying to spot any differences against what she’s experienced. There seem to be none. She wonders, were it to be their last resort, if she could recreate the plans.

And then the droids arrive.

*

The sound of blaster fire is faint– then loud as the comm crackles to life. “Andor, we’re–”

“Tuck? Sitrep, now,” Cassian barks.

“Droids. A lot of ‘em. Pilots have fled. The droids’ve taken the first two floors, we’re trying to hold them off here on three. Don’t know how much longer we can manage it.”

“We have what we came for. If we outpace the droids, we should be able to blow out a side of the spire, escape out through a makeshift docking area.” Cassian turns to K2. “Have you copied the plans?”

“No. I saw no reason–”

“Now is not the time for jokes.”

“Yes. I copied the plans.”

“Head up. See if you can transmit to the pilots from the top of the spire. Quickly.”

K2 nods and hurries out of the conference room.

Cassian casts a careful eye around to make sure the rest of Rogue One makes it out, and starts up the stairs to the next floor.

Kes is waiting for them on the landing area of the fifth floor, his men milling around. “K2 and Tuck caught me up. What do we do, Captain?” He steps in. “The only options are to either fight down, or head up, but do we do it together, or do we split up?” There’s a quiet defeat in his voice, knowing what the best option is.

Cassian doesn’t meet his eye as he says, “My team goes up. You join with Tuck, fight off the droids.”

“You heard the captain,” Kes calls, and his men start a retreat back down the stairs. Kes claps Cassian on the shoulder. “You need to come back down, we’ll have a path cleared for you.”

Cassian nods. “Thank you, Kes.” His gaze is tired as he watches Kes disappear down out of sight.

Chirrut starts walking back to the stairs down.

"Where are you going?" Cassian asks, a tight edge to his voice.

"To start taking the lower floors back,” he answers.

“May the Force be with you,” Jyn calls, the words nearly choking her.

Chirrut turns back to her and smiles. “All is as the Force wills it. The Force is one with me, and I am one with the Force.” His prayers and Baze follow him until he’s out of sight as well.

On the next landing, Cassian tries his comms to talk to the pilots.

There are no responses.

On the landing after, Bodhi hesitates.

“Bodhi?” Jyn asks.

He’s glancing between them and the stairs down. "Listen, you two go on up, see if you can transmit the plans from up there. I’m going back down make sure a path is cleared."

"Right," Cassian says, and he sounds as believing as Jyn feels.

Jyn closes the distance between them and pulls him into a tight embrace. "After the completion of the mission," she tells him.

He pulls back enough for a chaste brush of a kiss. "I look forward to it. Now go."

Jyn gives him one more squeeze, a kiss to the cheek, and then she's turning and hurrying after Cassian.

The stairs are even more precarious at a hurried pace, and Jyn keeps one hand on the wall, one hand touching the kyber crystal through her shirt. Scarif is gone, but there’s still a chance the Alliance can defeat the Death Star. They have the plans, like so many times they’ve had the plans on Scarif, but maybe this time will be different. Maybe this time the plans will get to the Alliance, and maybe they can fight their way back to see that victory.

See if that victory ever occurs.

They reach the top floor.

It’s a small room, scarcely larger than her bunk on Hoth, and a drastic enough drop from lower levels that it feels almost claustrophobic. The only saving grace is the holes scattered in the walls, and the sunlight filtering in through them.

“Kay?” Cassian asks, voice thin. “Any luck?”

K2 shakes his head. “Either there is too much data on the file for me to transmit, or there is no one to transmit the data to.” He lumbers past them to the steps down to the next floor. “Either way, I would be of most use to go down and fight with the others to clear the way to the hangar.”

Neither say anything. The room is silent but for the faint sounds of battle.

Faint, but growing louder.

There’s still a chance that they can get the Death Star plans to the Alliance, K2 has a copy, Cassian is holding a copy, Jyn examined it to know it’s close enough to what was built. They could look for all reactor modules, look for where reactor modules could be added, they could do something with the plans. But the plans need to get back to the Alliance, Jyn needs to get back to the Alliance so she can help. What does she do, what does they do – there’s nothing – she can’t think of what to do, she can’t think of a way out, why can’t she–

“I’m so sorry.”

Something in her loosens at Cassian’s defeated tone. Jyn can’t think of a way out because there is no way out. She walks over to Cassian, and wraps her arms around his neck. Her heart is hammering in her chest, but she tells him, “This won’t be the first time I’ve died in your arms.”

“We can’t risk it.”

“I know.”

“I’m sorry.”

She tightens her grip on him.

His hands settle on her lower back. “I’m sorry,” he repeats.

She tilts her head to stare up at him. The apology is sincere. Against all odds, he believed her. He trusted her. He doesn’t want to do this. Jyn closes her eyes as they start to water. “It’s okay. I’ll be okay.”

“Will you?”

It’s a plaintive question and she bites back a laugh. Against all odds, he’s grown to know her. “It might take some time.” Their time is nearly out, and Jyn indulges herself by kissing his cheek. “But in the end, yes, I’ll be okay.”

His right hand drops away, and there’s the quiet sound of a blaster being unholstered.

The sound of the battle approaches.

“Start praying,” he tells her.

Jyn takes a shuddering breath in, and tangles one hand in Cassian’s hair, the other hand balling in the fabric of his shirt.

The Force is one with me, I am one with the Force. The Force is one with me, I am one with the Force. The Force is one with me, I am–

Chapter Text

Jyn wakes up, heart aching, the memories of Cassian’s gentle embrace ghosting against her skin, a sob dying on her lips.

A drop of water lands on her forehead.

She reaches, groping around for the cloth. She could find it easily if she sat up, but she doesn’t quite have the energy to move yet. Exhaustion has been a quiet companion since she started, and she could bear its quiet presence – but after having the time to rest and sleep, the exhaustion will be impossible to ignore.

Her fingers brush against the cloth, and she pulls it in. She needs to save her energy as best as she can.

Save her energy to stay away from Vader.

Again.

Last time, Vader had destroyed the Rebellion base on Yavin IV. He destroyed Jedha. He destroyed Scarif. He was going after the Rebellion. With the loop reset, he would likely go to destroy them again. Perhaps if her going to planets drew them to his attention as a Disturbance, he would go after Hoth as well, and then Geonosis.

How hard would Vader fight to find her? Does he know that the loop will reset?

Is there any certainty it will reset?

If it doesn’t, or if Vader comes to Wobani now, what would happen?

She would die, and she would have to start all over again, trying to stay away from Vader. The idea of doing it again makes her want to scream. She thinks of Bodhi, calling her brave. It’s not bravery, it’s a bone-deep terror and self-preservation. She’ll do it, again and again, until whatever she does is enough.

A drop of water hits her forehead again. She forces herself to sit up.

*

She pretends to be the person Bodhi saw her as, to be the person she wants to be for Cassian. She plays her part when Melshi comes for her. Forces her expression into something hard and convincing as she orders the Yavin evacuation.

*

The cold Jedha afternoon feels warm after Hoth. The air feels stale from familiarity.

Melshi lands where he has always landed on Jedha. (The first time for him, the always haunting only Jyn.)

They turn a corner and there is Cassian.

Jyn didn’t prepare herself for seeing him – she was too tired, her exhaustion too demanding. But he’s here, assessing her.

She’s tired, and he’s beautiful. He’s always been. Has been the first time she saw him bathed in teal light, has been against the too-bright Scarif horizon, has been in the dim light of his quarters, is now. She looks at him, and she knows him. His parka doesn’t have the extra padding from Hoth. Beneath the parka, she can mentally map the planes of muscle and skin, knows the scars from two decades of war.

Her skin tingles with the memories of him, her pulse picking up as heat spreads through her. She knows what he feels like against her. Knows what his mouth feels like against hers. Knows the curl of his eyelashes when his face is close to hers.

Cassian jerks his head, and the three Rebels leave.

Remember me, Jyn thinks. Please, please remember me.

He looks to her.

This is her cue. Tell him where to find Saw so she can find Chirrut and Baze.

She can’t speak.

“Are you alright?”

It’s curious, not concerned.

Jyn swipes her palm over her cheeks, wiping the tears away. “It’s nothing.” She can’t let him get suspicious, she needs to be what he knows of her. “It’ll be easier to find Saw’s rebels if we split up.”

*

They split up.

Jyn makes the familiar way to the same outpost.

Baze recognizes her, and Chirrut brightens as she approaches.

This is the eighth time Jyn has met them.

For them, for all they know, this is the second time they’ve met her.

Half a dozen relationships they don’t remember.

While Jyn is meething them again.

After a series of agains.

And again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

And–

The enormity of the loss finally hits her.

She takes a half-step back.

The city is silent around them.

"I can't do it," Jyn tells them. "I'm sorry."

Chirrut frowns, and opens his mouth.

She turns and flees before he can say anything.

*

Cassian asked about her contingency plans once. They always form in the back of her head, subconscious and automatic, just as Saw taught her. From the first time she was on Jedha, she could have escaped it without Cassian.

Bodhi told her that the only thing she hadn’t done is run away.

He admired her for it.

It gives her a sick satisfaction. You thought you knew me. She makes her way through the crowds, gaze sharp and alert but her head downcast. You thought I was brave. She takes a circuitous route to the northern quarter of the city. You thought I was a hero. She's always been a good pickpocket, and the pilgrims of Jedha are not poor.

I’m not.

She barters her way onto an evacuating ship.

*

It’s not until they’re in hyperspace that the pilot makes his way to the cabin. “Y’ever heard of Anchorhead?”

“Heard of it.” Passingly. Once. Maybe.

“Hutts got a bounty on your head?”

Not that she knows about. She shakes her head.

He almost seems disappointed. “Flight’ll take a bit. Might want to get some sleep.”

*

She tries to sleep.

Tries not to think about what she’s done.

Tries not to care.

She's a coward. More cowardly than she's ever thought of her father, more cowardly than she's ever thought of herself.

But Cassian will never know.

Bodhi will never know.

Chirrut and Baze will. But they saw her last time, they saw her break down, they won't judge her too harshly for escaping.

And that's what she needs – an escape. She can get away for a loop, she can survive in a less high-stakes environment.

Just for a little while.

Chirrut and Baze won’t judge her. Bodhi will suffer at the mercy of Bor Gullet, and won’t have enough mental energy to judge her, even if he knew. Cassian will judge her, and judge her harshly, but he won’t be able to find her.

And with any hope, Vader won’t find her either.

*

Anchorhead is loud, big and chaotic. Sandier than Jedha and with a harsher heat that puts all thoughts out of mind other than getting off this forsaken planet.

She argues with the guy who gave her transport – it was mostly charity that got her off Jedha, but he ain’t got the money for fuel to take her nowhere. He’ll be back in a month, if she’s got the credits for travel then.

A month.

A hysterical laugh bubbles in her chest.

Jyn hasn’t thought beyond today. Not beyond any part of today.

But she needs to. Or at least pretend like she has a future beyond today, so not to draw attention to herself. Jyn recognizes the criminal nature of half the city, and she isn’t going to let herself become their target. The shade of market stalls provide a welcome relief from the heat, and she goes from stall to stall looking for work. If nothing else, she needs credits for lodging. Exhaustion is a half-step behind her, and she could sleep in an alleyway, but she’d rather be safe away from the disruption of pickpockets.

"It's not an offer," comes a voice behind her.

Jyn turns around.

A young man – a teenager, it looks like – with sandy hair and dressed in the neutral white of the planet has approached her. "But I might have a work opening."

Jyn just stares at him. He's a teenager, but working with Saw's rebels, none of the teenagers she met ever looked like this. So wide-eyed with an open expression, something luminous in him. Maybe that's hope. Jyn doesn't know anymore.

He takes her silence the wrong way. "I don't think you would be able to make a wage, but you would get room and board, and you could probably find something around the homestead to fix up to start making money. That’s what I’ve been doing, and I don’t have too bad of a savings because of it."

She nods.

His smile returns, even brighter. "Great!" He thrusts out a hand. "By the way, I'm Luke Skywalker."

Jyn takes his hand. It’s dry and calloused, the pattern of rough skin a long-lost familiar. He’s a farmer. Jyn pushes back the memories. "Liana Dawn."

"It's great to meet you, Liana. Now c'mon, I gotta get back to the homestead, my aunt and uncle are going to be wondering what's taking me so long..."

She follows him to the edge of town. His speeder is in better condition than anything she ever flew with Saw, than anything Baze ever got her.

Luke asks her questions – where she’s from, where she’s going, has she been to Tatooine before? There was a time she would have snapped at him that it was none of her business. A time when she would have spun herself a tragic story to manipulate him.

She stays silent.

Luke keeps talking, but his tone changes. Still eager and enthused, but he doesn’t make an attempt to draw her into the conversation. There are still small openings he allows, if she wanted to say something.

She doesn’t.

They arrive at a farming homestead, and Jyn wonders if she should have kept looking for work. Someplace that would pay guaranteed wages. Someplace that didn’t remind her of her own home.

“Aunt Beru!” Luke calls out, vaulting out of the speeder and over to the small domed building.

Jyn makes her way to the entrance of the house, starts down the stairs.

"Luke!" comes a woman's voice. "I was starting to get worried, what took you so– oh."

The woman looks older than Jyn's mother ever got to be. Happier than Jyn remembers her mother being. "I didn't expect you to be bringing home any company," the woman – Beru – tells Luke.

“Aunt Beru, this is Liana,” Luke introduces. “Where’s Uncle Owen? I need to talk to him.”

"He's down in the storage."

Luke darts off.

Jyn watches him go.

"You're not eloping, are you?"

Jyn turns to look at her. "What?"

Beru looks amused. "Family trait. Just making sure it doesn't become tradition."

She shakes her head. "I'm too..." old for him. Jaded. Cynical.

Beru lets out a quiet chuckle. "It’s very nice to meet you, Liana,” she says, giving her a warm grin. “Many of his friends have left to go to the Academy, and he hasn’t brought any friends home in some time. Never brought any girls home. Never even talks about them.” Her gaze goes distant, her voice goes softer. “Only ever talks about leaving, making his way to join the Rebellion.”

Jyn doesn't wince.

Beru turns back to Jyn. "If I know my nephew, Luke is trying to talk my husband into letting you take his place during the harvest. And if I know my husband, he's not going to be happy with the idea. He might be a little bit gruff with you, but you are welcome to spend a few nights here until you find other accommodations."

"Thank you," Jyn says.

"Now, dinner isn't for another few hours, but you do want something to eat before then? You look famished."

Jyn doesn’t reply.

Beru waves a hand. “I’ve never been a mother, but I know when a child needs to be fed. C’mon, I’ll see what I can fix up.”

She manages not to scoff at being called a child. “I’ve had a long trip. I’d rather just sleep.”

“I can get you something ready before that, but let me show you to one of our guest bedrooms first.”

Jyn dutifully follows Beru down to the ground floor, and down a circular hallway before arriving in a small room. It’s still larger than her quarters on Hoth, and Jyn pushes the thought out of her mind as she trudges over to the bed. It’s a nice bed, and Jyn passes out before Beru can leave the room.

*

Jyn wakes up to – not water, not Cassian, not Bodhi – a dim room. Sand lingers in senses, but from the planet Tatooine rather than the beach of Scarif. It still takes some time for her heartbeat to calm back down.

She pads out of the guest bedroom, and down the curving hallway, entering into a spacious courtyard. Above, the sky is a rosy pink and orange. Thin clouds stretch out, picking up on the same hues but in different patterns.

There’s the sound of approaching footsteps, and Jyn reaches for her baton.

Luke doesn’t notice. “Dinner’s ready,” he says, and it’s sullen. His entire demeanor has dimmed, expression downcast as he walks them up to the dinner table. "Liana, this is my Uncle Owen," he says in introduction, making a shuffling sweep towards the older man at the far end of the table. "Uncle Owen, this is the girl I was telling you about."

"Hello, Liana," the man says, voice a deep baritone.

"Hello," she replies. She thinks of her manners. "Thank you for having me for dinner. You really don't have to do this. Most wouldn’t."

"There's so much wrong in so much of the galaxy," Beru says, cutting in, "but we can still extend kindness to one another."

Dinner starts out as a quiet affair. Plates are passed around, a gentle hum of questions and clinking plates. There’s the same amount of food as Jyn remembers from being a young girl, but it’s for two adults, a teenage boy, and a guest. Jyn’s plate is prepared by Beru, and Jyn turns down offers for extra portions.

"So, Liana," Owen finally starts.

"Owen," Beru says, something cautious in her voice.

"What brings you out to Tatooine?"

"Yeah, why would you want to come out here?" Luke asks, a petulant tone to his voice.

"I was on a ship with some traders who had business in Tatooine. I didn't have the credits to go with them on their next trip, so I decided to stay here. See if I couldn't earn some credits, try to find a way somewhere else."

"Anywhere else."

"Luke," Owen says, in a warning tone. "So what kind of trouble are you in that you'll take the first ship that passes your way?"

Jyn gives him a wry smile. She likes him, oddly enough. There's a bit of Cassian in him, the no-nonsense and getting right to the point.

She hopes Cassian made it off Jedha in time.

He probably didn’t.

"Nothing that can follow me here," she says, softly.

"You sure about that? The Lars family has been a reputable, sustainable part of the farming community for generations. I don't want you bringing any trouble to my door."

Jyn shakes her head. "There's no way anyone knows where I am."

Owen lets out a sigh. "Let us all just hope that stays the case."

Rebellions are built on hope.

Jyn quietly eats her meal.

*

Beru leads Jyn back down to the guest bedroom.

"I was about your size, when I was younger," Beru says, sorting through a drawer of clothing. She looks Jyn up and down, a self-deprecating smile on her face. "Many, many years ago."

"Thank you," Jyn says, as Beru hands her a pair of dark trousers. Jyn’s never worn anything of another’s – she would take something from a rebel once they're gone, but borrowing was outside the normal way of doing things.

"I apologize for Owen being gruff with you earlier."

She shakes her head. "I've dealt with far worse. He's concerned for his family. And he has the right to be.” She bites her lip before she adds that she seems to attract trouble.

Beru hums. She holds up a tunic, sandy brown and well-worn, and looks between it and Jyn. “I think his concern comes from the fact you’ve got that look about you.”

“Look?”

“Something haunted. I’ve only ever seen it on one other person. My brother-in-law.”

“Was the Empire after him?”

“In a way.” She hands over the tunic, then turns to give Jyn her privacy to change.

Jyn sheds her vest, her boots, her shirt, her pants. She looks at her new change of clothes. Not the black of the Empire, not the white of Hoth, but something muddy in between. She starts dressing, and she doesn’t know whether to be relieved or not.

“Is the Empire after you?”

Jyn’s hand still as she’s tucking in her tunic. “They won’t find me.”

“I hope so.”

*

Jyn lies in bed, waiting to drift back to sleep.

She can’t.

She doesn’t know if it’s because she slept for so long during the day, or if it’s because Saw’s trainings are lingering in the back of her head. She doesn’t know the full layout of the space she’s in, something Saw has – had – always cautioned about. It’s the one she can tend to now, so she pushes herself off the bed, and creeps to the edge of the room. She casts a look back to her things, and decides against bringing her baton.

The kitchen is across the courtyard from the dining room, and a floor down from the courtyard. The dining room shows an open view into the courtyard, nestled a floor up. Jyn walks the edge of the courtyard, examining the other rooms. One has the sound of two people breathing together in sleep, but all the other rooms are empty.

She’s assuaged by the fact that there are numerous escape routes.

But there was a hallway off the dining room, and Jyn creeps towards it.

The hallway leads to a garage, which is larger than the dining room, perhaps almost as large as the courtyard.

Luke is lounging in a chair. He’s got a model of a T-16 skyhopper, and moving it idly through the air.

He’s a child. Age-wise, he’s in his late teens, he could be no older than nineteen, but there’s a glow to him – he’s not been touched by the war. He wants to join the Rebellion, but there’s no drive. Not like Jyn has seen among Saw’s rebels. Not like Jyn has seen along the Rebellion. Not like whatever happened that drafted a six-year-old into the war.

Jyn doesn’t want him to join the Rebellion. She wishes that he could have the luxury of a war-free life.

She has a feeling he won’t.

“Lah’mu.”

Luke doesn’t startle at her voice, just dips his head back to look at her, his brow furrowed in confusion.

"I was raised on a planet called Lah'mu."

He scrambles to sit up on the bench, turn to her fully. “Lah’mu?” he repeats. His eyes are wide and wondering. Jyn isn’t sure if it’s because she’s talking, or if he’s that curious about the galaxy. "I don’t think I’ve ever heard of it."

“Outer Rims… in the Riaoballo Sector. Near Dantooine?”

He shakes his head.

There’s a crate next to the dust decontaminate, and she sits down on it. "It's a quiet planet. Green. A lot of farming. Sandy there too, but the sand was all black."

Luke makes a face. "That sounds even worse than here."

She shakes her head. "It wasn't too bad. It was soft underneath your feet. And the planet was cooler, so the dark sand helped absorb some of the heat, keeping your feet warm as you run and play…" She stares off into the distance. She wraps her arms around her knees, feeling smaller than she had been as a little girl.

"Where else have you been?" Luke asks, moving his chair in closer to her. "I've never been off this rock – what's the rest of the galaxy like?"

Cold. Dark. Hopeless.

But Jyn can’t tell him that. She tries to give him a genuine smile. “It depends on the planet.”

“How many have you been to?”

“More than I can count.”

His face is shining as he begs, “Tell me about them.”

*

A hand jostles her shoulder. Bodhi leaving to train with pilots. Cassian in bed beside her. She opens her eyes.

Luke.

She doesn’t feel disappointed.

“You dozed off,” he tells her. Against the oil decontaminate, if the soreness of her neck is any indicator. “Not that I haven’t done my own fair share of sleeping in here, but your bed’s definitely more comfortable. And I’m heading into Anchorhead tomorrow, and should probably have gone to sleep an hour ago.”

Jyn nods, wincing as it makes her neck ache.

She returns to her room, lies down on her side. Her exhaustion is bone-deep, and sleep is hovering at the edges of her awareness; but underneath her borrowed tunic, her kyber crystal shifts against her skin.

Jyn tugs it out. "The strongest stars have hearts of kyber," she murmurs to herself, looking at the crystal. It gleams white in the dim light of the room. She lets out a sigh, and wraps her palm around it.

What do collapsing stars have hearts of?

*

“–Liana!?”

Jyn startles awake.

“She can look at droids with you, while I go to Tosche Station!”

“She doesn’t know what I need to get for the farm, Luke.”

“Tell her! She’s smart, she’ll probably be able to help you out!”

“I need your help, Luke. You can waste time with your friends later.”

Luke is still arguing as Jyn passes back out.

*

She sleeps and she doesn’t. She doesn’t dream but she does remember. A three-room homestead nestled and quaint and the right size for a family of three. Her body feels like it may one day recover and recuperate. There’s a voice asking if she’s alright. She’s not. She’s tired – just so tired and she wants to rest. She loved her bed on Lah’mu because she’s never felt more safe than she did there. She imagines Cassian in bed with her. She imagines Bodhi in bed with her. Saw had a soft spot for her as a child and always gave her a bunk of her own. Gently, her mother sings lullabies, light twinkling against her kyber crystal. Her father’s hands are red with blisters and he and her mother agree it’s an easy sacrifice. Her father’s voice is gentle as he calls her Stardust. Her mother’s voice is soft as she says Trust the

*

Jyn wakes up the next morning chilled to the bone and hungry. It’s before sunrise and the sky is cool blues and dusty purples as Jyn makes her way up to the dining room.

Luke nearly knocks her over. “Liana!”

"Where are you going?"

"I've, uh, got to go do something," Luke says. His eyes are shifty.

Jyn raises an eyebrow. "Is everything alright?"

"Yeah! Fine!”

She looks him up and down. She doesn’t tell him that he’s a terrible liar.

“Just tell Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru that I'll be back some point around lunch?"

*

Jyn meditates as the twin suns rise.

Beru is the first to wake. “Did you sleep alright?”

It’s the same voice that asked if she was alright during her dream. Jyn thinks she may have be crying. But if Beru isn’t going to bring it up, neither will Jyn. “Yes, thank you.”

Beru nods, and she continues across the courtyard.

After another few minutes, she stops before Jyn again. "Where's Luke?"

"He said he had some things to do before he started today, so he left early."

Beru makes a noise of surprise. “Really? Usually it takes both me and Owen to help him get things done. I’m glad he’s finally starting to take initiative.” She gives Jyn a speculative look, then smiles to herself and shakes her head. “When Owen wakes up, tell him I’ll be down in kitchen.”

A half hour later, Owen is standing before her. He’s suspicious of her, but not as much as he should be.

“Beru is in the kitchen,” Jyn tells him. “Luke is taking care of some things he needs to do.”

"Really?” Owen asks, sharing his wife’s skepticism. “Did he take those two new droids with him?"

"I think so," Jyn says, and it's an easy lie.

"Well, he'd better have those units in the south range repaired by midday or there'll be hell to pay."

"He'll be back," Jyn says, and it's not as easy a lie.

*

Owen wants to wait for Luke to get back before he heads onto the farm – Sandpeople have been getting more and more active, and he knows never to face Sandpeople alone. He and Beru move through their home running inspections on all the equipment of the homestead, tidying up as they go.

Jyn offers to help, but is gently rebuffed.

“You need your rest,” Beru tells her. She shoots a look at Owen. “You too. I know you didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. I’ll come get you when Luke returns.”

It’s a peaceful morning that transitions into a peaceful afternoon.

The twin suns are burning high in the sky when Jyn feels her blood run cold.

The sound is distant, but she would know the clack of approaching Stormtroopers anywhere.

“Liana?” Beru asks.

Jyn turns on her. “You and Owen need to leave.”

“What?”

“Owen!” Jyn calls. It echoes through the courtyard, but isn’t loud enough to be heard by the advancing Stormtroopers.

“What’s going on?” Beru asks, as Owen stumbles into the courtyard.

“You two need to get out of here.”

“Why?” Owen asks. “What have you brought–”

“Stormtroopers.”

Both Beru and Owen go very still.

“You could try and tell them that I hid my identity from you, or you could run. You should run. If you have any weapons, take them.”

“I’ve got a blaster stored away,” Owen says, before hurrying to one of the guest rooms.

“What about you?” Beru asks.

“If I go with you, I endanger you. If I stay here, I can give you a chance. I’ll keep them away from you for as long as I can.”

“You can come with us,” Beru insists.

Jyn shakes her head. She feels like a fog has lifted. For the first time in days, more days than she can count, she feels like herself. Adrenaline courses through her blood, and she knows her path. She has a mission, and she knows what she needs to do. “I will run no longer.”

Owen has returned, blaster in hand, reaching for his wife’s hand with the other.

Beru stares uncertainly at Jyn.

“Save yourselves.” Jyn nods her head to the surface. “Go.”

*

Saw used to say, one fighter with a sharp stick and nothing left to lose can take the day.

Sharp or not, Jyn’s always favored fighting with a stick.

She extends her baton, and she waits.

Stormtroopers file into the homestead.

So many chances are gone and lost. The Force is with me, I am one with the Force. But there’s a chance for Beru and Owen to escape. The Force is with me, I am one with the Force. Hopefully, Luke is safe. The Force is strong with me, I am –

Chapter Text

Jyn wakes up in her Wobani prison cell, the air and her mind still.

Ambient sounds fill the stillness – her cellmate's snores, the uniform steps of patrolling Stormtroopers, cell doors opening and clanking closed, weak ventilation circulating stale air.

The familiarity of it all leaves her shaking on her bed. She is torn between a rush of anxious adrenaline and a dead calm.

I will run no longer.

A drop of water hits her head.

She flinches at the touch, but does not move.

After so long of keeping herself in the dark, keeping her head down, she feels aware in a way she has never been before, and everything is clear.

Vader's forgotten. Just like Baze and Chirrut forgot her. The certainty thrums her. Now’s her chance – her chance to start over, really do it well, really do it right.

Only, which way is the right way? It’s haunted her and exhausted her. After her reprieve on Tatooine, though, the exhaustion is not as all-encompassing as it once was. The uncertainty and anxiety are still present, but in a lesser amount. She thinks of all the loops she’s lived, and she is able to look at them more detached, able to analyze them.

Her best luck has been when an Imperial soldier.

It makes her grimace, but at the same time, her mind is made up. The best option is sometimes the least pleasant option.

Another drop of water.

Jyn pushes herself to sitting. The only drawback to infiltrating the Empire is the potential proximity to Vader. She does not want to draw his attention again, does not want him to be part of the loops again. She drew his attention through going to the same planets, through disturbing the Force. She cannot help that–

–but there is one potential beacon she can rid herself of.

For the first time in more years than she can count, she reaches behind her neck, and unhooks her mother’s necklace. The kyber crystal picks up the scant light of the jail cell, before Jyn shoves it under her mattress.

She makes her way to the cell door and announces, "I need to see the Warden."

*

The same cool blues and chrome meet her at the Warden’s office, and are reflected as Krennic is shown in the holo-message. Although it has been a few loops since she last stared him down like this, there is a familiarity to the exchange, and she dutifully recites her end of the conversation.

In the long silence while Jyn’s blood sample is being examined, Jyn considers her options.

Krennic reappears. "Release her. That’s an order.”

The Warden nods his head. “Of course, Director.”

“My transport will be there immediately,” he continues. “Take care to treat her with the respect she deserves."

Jyn steps forward. “Will you bring my father?”

Krennic hesitates. "That won't be necessary."

This is her first gamble, her first deviance, and her pulse picks up. "Think about how happy it would make him," she says. “After all the work he has done for the Empire, he has surely earned the chance to see his daughter.”

After a moment, Krennic secedes. “It would be nice to treat him to a reward…”

*

Krennic arrives with her father some indefinite amount of time later.

“Leave,” he tells the Warden.

The Warden rises, nods at Krennic, nods at Galen, and leaves.

Jyn walks to her father and wraps her arms around his neck. Quietly, "Get me onto Jedha. It’s operational, but I know how to stop it.”

Her father pulls back, questions shining through the tears in his eyes. “After so many years,” he starts, hands coming up to her face, thumbs rubbing over her cheekbones.

He has worked and suffered for so many years, hoping for the Death Star to be stopped. Jyn has only known true futility the past few days, but it’s enough for tears to well up. Her throat is tight with emotion, and she struggles for a few long moments, even though there’s another part of her plan she needs to get across. She’s finally able to pull him in for another hug. “I need to get to Jedha, now, but be stationed on Scarif.”

His hands tighten on her back. “I understand,” he murmurs, scarcely audible.

“I am so glad that the two of you have been reunited,” Krennic says from behind them.

Her father steps back and looks to Krennic. “Yes, thank you, Orson.”

Krennic flicks a smile, but continues, “Though, at the risk ruining the moment, perhaps it might be better for you two to catch up elsewhere. Eadu is rather dreary, granted, but less dreary than a prison.”

“The reason I was initially so reluctant to leave is because I noticed that one of the support staff made an error in their relaying of information.” Her father is a smooth liar, as he seamlessly continues, “The calculations are off, and we will need at least half a dozen more shipments of kyber to achieve the outcome I’ve promised.”

Krennic frowns. “I have been browsing the shared files on the servers. And while your mathematical prowess far exceeds my own, there should be plenty of fuel with the supplies we have already gathered. Besides, the situation on Jedha is escalating, I doubt we would be able to get the kyber.”

“The most up-to-date alignment calculations have been kept on Eadu. I trust them with few outside of the facility. And the situation on Jedha is escalating due to Saw’s terrorism.” He flicks his gaze to Jyn. “But Jyn has spent time with guerilla warfare militants, she will be able to infiltrate and disband the rebels that are giving you so much trouble in collecting the kyber."

Krennic assesses her. “And, so I may get the correct transfer forms filled out, she will join you on Eadu after those final shipments?”

"And then to Scarif,” her father corrects.

Krennic raises an eyebrow. "I thought you would want her stationed at Eadu."

"She's waited too long to step forward. She should have joined the Empire far earlier, and it shames me deeply. But if she were to pay her dues, spend some of her precious time protecting what I have spent years working on, then perhaps I would ask for her to be relocated back to Eadu.”

Jyn blinks rapidly, trying to keep up appearances in front of Krennic.

He seems pleased by the display, and he asks, "Would you at least care to accompany us, Galen?"

Jyn does her best to shake her head without moving.

"If you would prefer it if you were to take me back to Eadu."

“Of course, Galen.” Krennic assesses Jyn for a long moment. “I can easily have another transport take her to Jedha.”

*

The Imperial uniform fits like a second skin and putting it on is starting to feel like second nature.

*

Jyn steps into Jedha in the black of the Imperial Security uniform. The collar feels too-hot and suffocating, the air of the city different as citizens eye her uniform coolly.

I’m not one of them, Jyn thinks.

You want to talk about aiding the Imperial Army? Memories of a blaster in her hand. You pull the trigger first.

She takes a deep breath. "Fan out," she orders. "They spread themselves as far as they can, it would be best for you to do the same."

Through a series of head jerks – universal no matter the army – she has four Stormtroopers trail behind her as she makes her way towards the path she always goes.

“May the Force of others be with you.”

Chirrut quirks his head to the side, but he keeps his chanting going strong and smooth.

“The Rebels we’re looking for won’t be in this sector,” Jyn tells the Stormtroopers. "They may be in a nearby sector, but I don’t want your presence to attract their attention. I will meet you at the southern border in ten minutes."

The Stormtroopers retreat.

The chanting fades off, and then Chirrut calls out, “Any interest in a pretty necklace?”

“I have no need for a pilgrim’s trinkets,” she says. Quieter, she tells him, “I don’t want to attract an undue attention.”

“We make very pretty necklaces, I have been assured.”

“Ten minutes,” she murmurs, and takes the most meandering path back to the southern border she can.

Her entourage of Stormtroopers are waiting, about to give their report when four sharp blast ring out. They all hit the ground.

Jyn turns and smiles at Baze. "Thank you."

"You really think this is the best idea?" Baze asks.

Jyn shakes her head. "It's the best I have so far,” she says, going into the speeder.

She has long since memorized the path to Saw’s hideout.

There are three guards posted.

Jyn is down her tonfa, and it’s a dirtier takedown for that. Two of the guards go down before Jyn has a blaster to the throat of the third and demands, "Take me to see Saw."

*

"This is a trap, isn't it?"

Jyn closes her eyes, lets the pain wash over her. She's in an Imperial uniform. But the fact that so many people she loved could imagine her as an Imperialist amplifies the pain. She opens her eyes. "Saw, I need you to listen to me." She stares at him, and so many lies start to spin her head, souring under his look of betrayal. "I've done this before," she says, finally, it burning her throat.

"Joined the Empire?"

"I am infiltrating the Empire. I know you don't hold much regard for infiltration, but it's the best results I've gotten so far."

"So far?"

"The Empire brings the Death Star to Jedha, they destroy Jedha, and I leave the moon just before it does. I've varied it as best as I can. I know what happens, and you die, and for once… I won't allow it."

"Allow it?"

"Saw, I have been through this repetitions so many times, I'm starting to see it, see the cracks." Jyn steps forward. "I took some time to step back from the situation, and I can see it all so much clearer. I don't know why it's just me, I don't know why I can remember all of this, but I was given this power, and I know what to do with it."

"Go to the Empire with it?" he spits out.

“Everything that has happened to me, I have learned from it, and I know what I’m doing, I know how to do it better. I’ve learned how to can get the plans to the Rebellion, I’ve even learned how to stop people from dying."

"While working with the Empire?"

"It's easier access, better to infiltrate."

"What will you do when they catch you?" he demands, stepping towards her. "What will you do when they break you?"

Jyn opens her mouth to argue – they cannot break her – but Saw keeps talking:

"If you continue to fight, what will you become?"

"Stronger." Jyn matches his steps forward. "They haven't caught me so far, and they haven't broken me so far. If they do, then I learn how to do it better for the next loop."

Saw shakes his head. "I'm sorry, Jyn, but I cannot allow this."

Jyn stares at him, heart beating too fast in her chest. "I'm sorry, Saw, but you don't have to." She takes a step back and turns back on her homing beacon. "This is Officer Erso. I've found Saw Gerrera. Orders are to make arrests, Lord Vader wants them alive."

Saw stares at her.

Jyn thins her mouth. "You could have come willingly. Give me the holochip."

Saw shakes his head.

"Give me the holochip, Saw. I don't have time for–" she cuts herself off. She walks up to him and she takes it, Saw not making a move to stop her. She keeps herself moving, despite the look on Saw’s face.

She goes down. She goes over to the jail cells and she shoots the cell open.

Bodhi is staring at her, eyes wide.

"Come with me," Jyn orders. Remembering she's in Imperial black, she adds, "I have the holochip, we're going to the Alliance."

Bodhi lets out a deep breath, swearing under his breath.

"Can you fly any of the speeders outsides?" she asks, as she leads him through the eerily still base.

"I should be able to, yeah."

Jyn nods, and then goes over to one of the speeders. "This one looks fast."

Bodhi nods.

Jyn looks between him and the speeder. "Well?"

"I mean, I can– I can pilot, but I don't know how to hotwire a speeder."

This is one of Jyn’s skills – a way of fixing things to her liking. It’s completely mechanical, leaving her no time nor energy to think of what she’s just done.

They make their way back to the Holy City, and Bodhi swerves, swearing, as TIE-fighters fly above.

"They're not after you. If you keep steady, they won't have reason to suspect you."

And then they're back in the Holy City.

Jyn strips down to the black undershirt, letting the Imperial coat fall to the ground. It might be useful to wear later on, but Jyn doesn't trust that Cassian won't shoot her on sight if he sees her in an Imperial uniform, especially when she's with Bodhi. If they really need one, Jyn knows it well enough, she could probably make a pattern of it.

"Do you know who Captain Cassian Andor is?" Jyn asks, as they weave through the crowd.

Bodhi shakes his head.

Jyn doesn't even know how to begin to describe him. "A little taller than me," she tries. "In a blue parka with a fur hood. Handsome."

Bodhi snorts.

She has no idea how to find Cassian, but really, does she need to? Cassian is the best the Alliance has, he’ll find them–

Bodhi squeezes Jyn's hand. "That's him!"

–soon enough. Jyn turns to where Bodhi is looking.

"He was– I thought I saw someone like him."

"It probably was him. He's seen you once, he'll probably ambush us sometime soon." She pulls Bodhi into an alleyway, and they wait. Jyn shivers, and lowers herself to sitting, arms wrapping around her legs. The city always seems warm when she's in the midst of it, the press of bodies, but the city is always colder than she thinks it is. The hair on her arm stands on end. She sets her forehead down on her knees. Takes a moment to decompress, but realizes she has no idea how to.

"Uh," Bodhi says.

Jyn pushes herself to standing, and she gives Cassian a thin smile. "Hello, Captain Andor."

He doesn't lower his weapon.

"My name is–”

"I know who you are, Jyn Erso," Cassian snaps.

"But your intel had me at a the Imperial Wobani labor camp," Jyn continues, trying to keep her voice even. "Which I was, up until this morning, when I conscripted myself into the Imperial Security Bureau. It's rather easier to help from the inside."

He very carefully doesn't flinch.

"I took Bodhi from Saw, and I have the holochip. Which means you have Bodhi and the holochip. I need to leave to return to the Empire – to infiltrating the Empire – to help you when you arrive with the Alliance. Or whatever members of the Alliance you can scrounge up.” She looks behind him and adds, “There are already two ready to help on this mission.”

"Are there," Cassian says, dubious.

She nods over his shoulder. "This is Chirrut and Baze."

Cassian turns to look at them, and then Jyn is taking the blaster out of his hand, dropping it to the ground and kicking it away from them. "I know you have no reason to trust me, but you do."

He gives her a scathing look. "I really don't."

He's telling the truth.

Jyn's already let him go once, she can do it again.

"You are going to. I am going to be positioned on Scarif, where the Empire keeps all their files. This holochip will tell the Council that there's a flaw built into the Death Star plans. You get this to them, get the Alliance to Scarif, and I can get you those plans." She pauses. She thinks about all the times she's died on that beach. "If an Alliance ship is overhead, they will get the transmissions, but I can’t promise anything more than that. I can't promise your safety, Cassian, or your return, but we can fight for the Rebellion."

He still looks suspicious.

Jyn meets his gaze with steel and resolve and clarity. Slowly, she holds out her hand. Drops the holochip onto his open palm. “Stardust,” she says, softer than she wanted.

His hand closes around the holochip. His lips thin into a line, his gaze inscrutable.

She looks from him to Bodhi, then to Baze and Chirrut. “I’ll see you on Scarif.”

*

It’s the early hours of morning when then the transport sets down on a Scarif landing pad.

She has never been to Scarif this early before, but even in the cool blue lights of morning, there’s a familiarity to Scarif that has her skin crawling.

Once more, Jyn is shuffled all through the Citadel in an introductory tour. There’s a painful familiarity as she is told this is where she will sleep. This is where she will eat. This is where she will report to duty. This is where she can train off-duty. This is where she can shower.

When quizzed, she can recite the information back easily.

She’s told to report to duty next morning and is given the rest of the day to settle in.

All she does is review the layout of the Citadel, over and over and over until–

Klaxons sound.

The Rebels have arrived.

*

Some things change, some things don’t.

She arrives outside the archives only a few seconds before a familiar face. She barks an order to the officer standing guard, while Cassian clocks him out cold. K-2 guides them through using the officer’s biometric print to get into the tunnel.

"You know what file to search for?" Jyn asks through the comms.

Cassian shakes his head. He takes a moment to acquaint himself with the controls of the vault. "Your father did not specify the file in his message."

"Yes he did," she tells him. "Stardust."

K-2 accesses it.

The vault goes black. K-2 says his goodbyes, the vault quietly hissing as it locks.

Cassian grieves.

Jyn shoots the glass windows open.

They climb the tower, datafile clipped onto Cassian’s belt, up to the antennae – which is fine.

The antennae is fine, and the transmission is sent without interruption.

Both of them stare up at the top of the antennae, and both of them spend a long moment taking it in – the plans have been sent, the transmission complete, the plans have been sent.

"I make no guarantees that I can get us out alive," Jyn murmurs, dragging her gaze away from the top of the tower, to Cassian, to the elevator behind him. "But I can hope."

He follows her lead, standing impassive as Jyn jabs at the buttons to take them to the ground.

The elevator starts its descent.

"Do you think anyone is out there?” Cassian asks, voice quiet in the still air of the elevator.

Despite herself, tears sting in her eyes. “If there Alliance ships in the area, they should have been able to receive it. I just… I wish I knew. I wish knew that the plans were received, that they could be sent on, that we made a difference.” Her heart hurts in a way it hasn't yet this time around, the ache filling her chest and spreading throughout her body. "But I can only hope."

"Hope?" Cassian asks.

She gives him a sad smile. "Rebellions are built on hope, aren't they?"

The doors of the elevator slide open, the bright afternoon light of Scarif shining in.

“Alliance ships,” Cassian murmurs, staring at the dart of ships passing through the sky, the rescue ship hovering above the sand.

They start sprinting across the sand.

But there are too many hostiles.

A blaster fires and Jyn hits the ground.

Chapter Text

Jyn wakes up in her Scarif barrack, a gasp caught in the back of her throat. She pushes herself to sitting, her breathing loud in the still air of the shared quarters. Waking early comes naturally to her, though on most morning she wakes more gracefully. Her heartbeat settles into a calmer rhythm, and she stretches her arms above her head.

Her morning passes as it normally does. A quarter of a protein ration, half an hour of endurance training, then to the shower. Her Imperial uniform fits like a second skin, and putting it on is second nature.

She reports into duty.

The day is uneventful.

Her evening is as mundane as her morning. She eats her dinner, returns once more to the off-duty gym. Her fitness routine is rigorously planned, and she goes through the strength training repetitions that are expected of her.

And, at the end of the day, she goes back to sleep.