Cassian wakes in the early hours of the morning feeling warm but stiff. His back is aching so much he can almost hear it, but he finds that he's covered in a blanket. It appears to be the soft one from the bed that Jyn was wrapped in last night as he examines it. Trying to move his arm to push his hair out of his eyes, he finds it to be unexpectedly heavy. In the darkness, he can just make out the outline of who he assumes to be Jyn on the floor beside him. She has curled herself into a ball on the floor next to him, and has one hand securely grasping his arm. How she managed to wedge herself between the bed frame and his body is beyond his comprehension. Her back has to be pressed against the hard metal frame. It's nice, having her here, if he's honest with himself, but she can't be comfortable. Kriff, he's uncomfortable, and he doesn't have a metal beam digging into his spine.
He stills as he considers his options, straining to see her features more clearly in the dim light of the early morning. His internal clock has no way of knowing what time it is on this planet, but it has to be several hours before sunrise, at least. He brings his attention back to the situation on the floor beside him. Once again, like on the ship just yesterday, he could try to lift her up and put her back in bed. Of course the angle is just as bad - maybe worse, and he'd most definitely wrench his back out if he tried. He could keep still and just stay where he is. That's the most promising option so far. Or he could roll over and wrap his other arm around her and...not the time.
Option number two wins handily, and he cranes his neck carefully and watches Jyn as she sleeps. Her hand isn't grasping her crystal this morning, he realizes. He's never seen her sleep without a hand grasping for her pendant. Even in the medbay before he found her necklace, she kept a hand fisted at her sternum in a drug-induced slumber. This morning - or is it tonight - she has both hands grasping his arm and wrapped around his upper bicep so tightly he envisions that there will be small hand prints left on his skin when she lets him go. He wonders at what this means as her chest rises and falls gently with her easy breathing. He could be imagining it, but he thinks that the bruising under her eye is improving. The abrasion on her chin isn't visible from this angle, but he hopes the bacta gel is healing that well, too. It's too dark in this room to make out many details. Giless seems to be a quiet planet, unspoiled by uncontrolled industry. The opposite of Fest, with its constant fog of pollution and incessant hum of construction.
Waking up with Jyn his close to him this morning is a good sign, Cassian supposes. He had concerns last night that she would close off from him, keep him at arms length after opening up and allowing him to see her so raw and hurt. Jyn shifts, and her forehead is now resting flush against his shoulder. A rush of affection floods through his chest. Perhaps Mabion was right, he muses, concentrating on how the spot where her forehead is touching his shoulder feels warm. Maybe he is an idiot. He can smell the shampoo she used, mixed with the scent he has come to associate with only Jyn. Option number two may have been a very bad idea, indeed. There are times that being this close to Jyn is physically painful for him. Nearly a decade in intelligence has taught him to wait. Be patient. Restrain himself. His fortitude is being tested, and he wonders how much longer it will be until he breaks. Just a while longer, he tells himself. It's almost over.
Jyn begins to stir beside him, and he closes his eyes to keep from embarrassing her. Mabion is right, he thinks. He's definitely right. Cassian forces himself to not react to her subtle stretching beside him. She is looking at him when he finally opens his eyes to meet hers, unable to keep from looking at her any longer.
"Couldn't sleep?" He murmurs, skillfully keeping his voice neutral.
She just shakes her head sadly, and he watches something flash across her features. Fear and sadness? Maybe. It's too dark to be certain.
"Bad dream?" He knows a thing or two about those, although guilt keeps him up nearly as much as any unwanted intrusions into his dreams.
She's not sure how to respond. She'd had a nightmare last night, yes, but it was Cassian's dream that propelled her out of the comfortable bed. He woke her from sleep, crying - screaming - in his slumber. She'd crouched beside him on the floor for what felt like eons while she decided what to do. She couldn't understand a single word he'd said, but the anguish was unmistakable. She patted his arm and stroked his cheek and chest until he'd quieted, but when she tried to withdraw, whatever unseen demons he'd been wrestling with clutched at him again. Unable to leave him alone, she'd settled herself beside him, using her arm as a pillow, and keeping one hand on his bicep. The contact seemed to soothe him, so she'd stayed. She tugged the blanket off the bed with one hand, and carefully spread it over them both. Giless is a warm planet - at least at this time of year, but the temperature dipped low tonight and she was a tad chilly.
It might humiliate him to hear that he'd interrupted her sleep with his own nightmare, so Jyn settles on a different version of the truth.
"Yes." Her voice is hoarse, and he can't tell if it is from emotion or sleep or both.
"Want to talk about it?" He slides his right hand into his pocket to keep it still. Keep it to himself. Keep him from gathering her into his arms and never letting her go.
"The usual." She shrugs and tightens her grip on his bicep. "My parents. Dying." You dying. Falling down the data tower and never getting up. Orleinn torturing you and making me watch. 'Troopers actually hitting their target, and you falling. Falling and not getting back up. She leaves the rest unspoken. Her typical nightmare for years had just included watching her mother crumple to the ground, her father's anguished cry of "Lyra!" startling her awake. Now she sees driving rain and bombs falling all around her, and she relives her father dying in her arms as she cries out for him.
"It must be destroyed."
"I have to much to tell you."
He should have known. Of course she'd dream about that after last night. "I didn't know that you saw your mother...get shot." Murdered. Executed. He doesn't want to use the words, even though he typically prefers to call a spade a spade. How do you apologize for something like that? How do you convey your sympathy? Sorry seems like such an overused word in this situation. He's so much more than sorry. He's near distraught at the idea of an eight year old Jyn watching her mother die before her innocent eyes.
"It's not your fault." Jyn protests predictably, unable to handle sympathy from others. Or perhaps she is just unaccustomed to anyone caring. Saw never cared to help her process and deal with her loss. Instead he fanned the flames of her anger and pushed her to use it as fuel for her rage. There are times that Jyn starts to realize how dysfunctional her life with Saw really was, but she refuses to dwell on it. Saw wasn't perfect, and he was nothing like her warm, loving parents, but he taught her how to survive in a galaxy that showed her no compassion. Moments like this, with Cassian soft and sympathetic - she has no reference for dealing with this. No past experience to draw on as a framework. He's overwhelming to her sometimes. Deep. Intense. Gentle. Jyn hasn't known gentle since she lived, warm and comfortable, with her parents in the small cabin on Lah'mu. Don't apologize to me. I can't handle your guilt. She has too much of her own to know how to process his. None of this is his fault. He has his own guilt, which she regrets. His own demons are real, and she lacks the eloquence to tell him that he deserves none of it. She can't unburden his conscience, even though he deserves someone who can.
"Not with your mother, no." He doesn't finish the thought, and the absurdity of having this conversation here, on the floor, in his friend's house slams into him like a stone wall.
"Not with my father, either." She still feels guilty for blaming him. She shouldn't have added her father's death to the list of crimes she knows he thinks he's committed. He's fought for the Rebellion. He's followed his orders. He's done his part to make the Galaxy a safer, freer place. The things he's done weigh heavily on him, she knows, and it's her fault that her father's demise is added to that list he keeps neatly in his head.
"He has the face of a friend."
"I should have..."
"Stop, Cassian." She raises her head up off the rug and looks him in the eye. "Please stop blaming yourself. I know you did what you could. And you saved my life after. So...It's not your fault." She actually believes him. She believes he had orders - believes he had a clean shot. What motivated him to disobey his orders, she wonders not for the first time?
"It's not your fault, Cassian." If she repeats it, maybe he'll believe it. She may blame the Rebel Alliance or the Council for his death, but even she can understand why the order was given. They didn't know Galen Erso. They had no reason to believe her, a criminal, when she told them he was no Imperial sympathizer. She disagrees with the decision, but the pragmatic part of her - the part raised by Saw Gerrera - knows they were protecting their interests. The machine he built nearly killed them all. Cassian never told her about the attack on Yavin 4, but she knows about it anyway. He's still trying to protect her, she thinks. Still trying to shield her from the knowledge that her father's weapon nearly destroyed them all.
Cassian takes a moment to reflect on how she says his name. The lilt of her accent as his name slides melodically off it washes over his ears. He loves the way it sounds when she says it. He wonders fancifully what it sounds like to her ears when he says her name. It's a question that can never be answered, sort of like why Krennic killed her mother or why her mother decided to forgo the plan and face off against a squad of Death Troopers with nothing but a single blaster. Or where she got the blaster Jyn mentioned.
"I still wish I could have stopped it." He wishes so many things these days. "I wish you could have him back." He knows a little something about wishing he could have his family around him. He's not sure he believes that he's blameless in her father's death, but it is gratifying to hear that she doesn't blame him. He's been afraid to mention it for months, scared to bring it up for fear that she would fling those angry accusations at him again. "You put him at risk." He did. He has so many regrets.
Jyn hasn't had any use for wishes since she was eight years old. "Do you know what the last thing my mother ever said to me was?"
Cassian has no ideas, but he'd bet all the credits in his accounts that he won't like the answer. He's shocked that she's considering sharing this detail with him. He's never told anyone the last words his father ever spoke to him. He holds those close to his heart like a treasure. A secret. He just shakes his head and waits.
"Trust the Force." Jyn snorts derisively. "Not I love you. Not...anything. Just trust the Force."
Words seem paltry here, so Cassian just remains still and meets her eyes. "I'm sure she loved you." He finally rasps, and turns his head to cough. The Force has rarely seemed like something worth trusting to him. Jyn's unwavering faith makes so much more sense now, as does her connection to the Guardians.
"I think she did." Jyn remembers spending time with her mother as a small child. Their walks on Coruscant. Their scavenging for rocks and flowers on Lah'mu. How she'd watch The Octave Stairway over and over again just because Jyn loved it. She'd had to leave the holodrama on Coruscant when they fled, and she'd never seen it again. Her mother tried to recite it for her at first, since she'd seen it so many times she'd memorized it, but it wasn't the same. Jyn stopped asking for it after a few days. She learned to stop missing things early. Possessions were never worth getting attached to in her world. They're just things you miss when you leave. Come to think of it, so are people. Her theories on life are being tested, she muses. Cassian keeps not leaving her. He keeps edging closer to her and coming back for her. He touches her, hugs her. Holds her. And she continually lets it happen. And this morning, when she woke drenched with sweat and near tears, she'd initiated contact with him as she'd crawled out of bed and settled herself on the rug alongside him when he needed comfort. It was all wrong, but she doesn't stop it.
"Where's you pillow?" He changes the subject to ease her discomfort. He can tell she needs to stop talking about this for now. Why can he read her so easily? She's an open book to him now, and he lets that knowledge wash over him warmly.
"It's...uh...up there." She motions to the bed behind her with her chin.
He doesn't ask her why she didn't bring it with her, and she's grateful. She does, however, suspect that he knows what brought her down to the floor. No one lives a life like theirs and escapes without nightmares. She'd never seek comfort for herself. A few months ago she never would have considered offering it to anyone else, either, but Cassian isn't anyone.
"Do you have enough room?" He scoots over a few centimeters to give her more space. She follows him, matching his moves, rather than staying where she was and stretching out like he expected. "Here." He moves the pillow a few inches in her direction. "You're neck will spasm."
She hesitates only a moment before moving closer and laying her head beside his on the pillow. The space on the floor suddenly seems suffocating, as if the air was sucked out of the room when they shifted. Jyn takes a shuddering breath and wills her lungs to stop spasming.
"You should get some more sleep." She whispers with her eyes closed. He's too close to open her eyes. It's too intimate. Maybe she can't do this after all. She's not built for this.
"You, too." He's gratified that she isn't moving away from him. She's not shutting him out. He hadn't thought through the implications of sharing his pillow with her before he offered it. Now she's mere centimeters away, and her scent is intoxicating.
"Mmmm." She nods and doesn't respond with more than a hum of agreement.
Cassian spends the better part of the next hour watching Jyn drift into sleep, the steady rise and fall of her chest finally soothes him back into slumber.
Jyn wakes again a few hours later,quickly rises, and tucks the blanket back around Cassian. She hadn't planned on spending the rest of the night beside him when she'd moved down to the rug. She grabs her clothes and what toiletries she was issued and flees to the privacy of the refresher. Cold water splashed on her face doesn't help much with the lines imprinted onto her skin from the pillowcase. Her hair tie is long lost, somewhere in her cell in Orleinn's stronghold or maybe along the long march from the village. Wherever it is, it's on a different planet now, and she's stuck with leaving her hair down. Honza is unlikely to have anything she can borrow to place her hair in the bun she prefers, what with her cropped hair. She runs her fingers through her own hair a few times to comb it out, and shrugs at her reflection. Black eye and scraped chin. Messy hair. Wrinkle-printed cheek. She's kind of a mess, honestly.
A metallic clatter in the kitchen tell Jyn that she is not the only soul awake at this hour, and she quickly drops off her belongings in her bag and hurries to the outer rooms. Mabion is busily grabbing containers from the shelves, and smiles when he notices her.
"Sorry." He whispers. "Did I wake you?"
"No." Jyn responds quietly, suddenly overcome with shyness. "I just...do you need any help?" Doing something with her hands will keep her mind off the awkwardness she feels.
"Sure. He motions with his free hand to the pile of ingredients he's amassed. "Do you know how to make beans?"
"Um..." The Alliance kitchen hadn't had many fresh ingredients on hand. Mostly she'd reheated and rehydrated. They added fresh vegetables when they had them, but it was a rarity. "I can stir." She confessed, chin up and refusing to be embarrassed by her lack of culinary prowess.
"Then you're golden." Mabion smiled encouragingly, and pointed to a row of small jars and a package of beans as he set about giving her instructions.
In a few minutes Jyn and Mabion have multiple pots cooking on the burners, and she is slicing fresh fruit while Mabion arranges it on a translucent green platter.
"How'd you meet Cassian?" He finally asks, glancing at her with a smile that hides nothing from Jyn.
Jyn just shrugs with practiced nonchalance and responds flippantly. "In a briefing." She can tell he knows the real answer. He either knew already or Cassian told him last night before he went to sleep. Or maybe he told him while they were plotting her escape. Either way, she's not sure she wants to play along with whatever game this is.
"You know the rest, don't you?" She drops the knife and turns to face him, accusing. "Do you just want to hear me say out loud that he found me in an Imperial labor camp and pulled me out to get to my father? Do you want me to list off my charges, too?"
It's not what he wanted, not at all. Well, not entirely. He is curious about what she did that landed her in Wobani. And how she survived Wobani. "No, I just..." Now it's Mabion's turn to be embarrassed. He's going to have to change tactics. He hadn't counted on her defenses, but he should have. He used to be the best. Second best, he reminds himself. Cassian was always better. Cassian could read people at a glance and know exactly where to strike, which blows would cut the deepest.
"Cassian is my oldest friend." He tries again, hoping she'll understand where he's coming from. That this line of questioning comes from a place of concern inside him, not from disdain for her.
"Yeah?" She's poised, he notices. Weight on the balls of her feet. Fingers clenched and bent into fists. She fights all of her battles the same way. "He's my only friend." She grinds the words out evenly, trying to keep them free of emotion and failing.
"You'll look out for him, then?" Mabion is no fool. He's not going to get anywhere if he keeps pushing towards her. It's smarter to deflect the blows. Stop the punches before they're thrown. "Take care of him? His droid used to..." He trails off, knowing full well that Jyn is aware of Kaytoo's fate.
"Are you sure you trust your oldest friend with a lowly criminal?" She knows better than to soften just because her opponent is tossing out distractions.
"I trust anyone that Cassian trusts." Mabion hands her a yellow fruit with green-tipped spines and gestures to the cutting board. "And he trusts you."
Her brow is furrowed for a moment as she stares him down. It's intimidating, being on the receiving end of this glare, and he wonders how many men have cracked under the force of it.
"And he's not your only friend." He adds softly, only partly to end her scrutiny.
"What?" It worked. Her eyes are popping with confusion now, not rage.
"Any friend of Cassian's is a friend of mine." He grabs two slices of fruit and hands her one as he pops the other in his mouth. "So you've got at least two." He doesn't tell her what Umed and Jarmo had to say about her. While meant to be complimentary, he thinks that perhaps he should keep that information to himself for now.
"I..." Jyn finds herself deflated and tongue-tied; unable to properly form words. She had not expected this. She sets to work slicing the melon he handed her. "Thank you." She finally remembers herself as she's spooning seeds into a dish.
"Don't mention it."
"No, I mean...thank you." Jyn swallows and stills, spoon and melon poised above the dish. "For helping me. For getting me...out." She pauses again. "And your friends. Or your crew. Employees. Whatever. Thank them, too? Please."
Mabion's stomach clenches as he watches the emotion flicker across the younger woman's face. She's hard to read, for sure, and Cassian hasn't given him much insight into why. This was difficult for her, he understands that much.
"Jyn..." How can he put this in a way that won't frighten her? "I'm glad we could help." That much is true, if incomplete. He'd do just about anything for Cassian, but now that he's met her, he knows he'd do anything for her, too, if only to help his friend. Cassian's girl is a singular entity. One of a kind. She's a fire that can't be doused. No wonder Cassian is entranced by her. He's glad she's on his buddy's side.
"Okay." She almost whispers it, and he's not sure it was meant for his ears.
"Morning." Cassian shuffles into the kitchen slowly stifling a cough, his limp pronounced in the damp air of the cool, early morning. One look and Mabion knows that his friend overheard his most if not all of the conversation with Jyn. A second look tells him he's not happy about it. There's something unreadable in his friend's face, though as he watches Cassian watch Jyn slice fruit for their communal breakfast.
Her gaze is on his hip. His leg. "You should sit." She pulls out a chair with one foot hooked around the leg, worry clearly etched across her face.
"I need to move." Cassian shakes his head and graces her with a smile more bright than he feels. "It'll feel better once I move around a bit."
"You should rest." They hear her mutter softly, and Mabion knows unmistakably that his friend is in good hands.
"Do you need help?" Cassian chooses to ignore her protests, and meets Mabion's eyes above Jyn's head. The look he shoots him tells Mabion that they'll be having words later, but he just shrugs in response to the unvoiced argument.
"Eggs are over there. Go crazy." He points to the obvious bowl of eggs in their shells. "Jyn made the beans."
"Don't worry." Jyn chimes in with a serious tone. "I followed the instructions."
"I never doubted you." Cassian looks at her fondly, even though her back is turned, and Mabion rolls his eyes. Kids.
The three set about with their tasks, bumping into each other frequently in the cramped space of the kitchen. Has is the next to rise, followed by Honza, who was drawn out of her comfortable bed by the enticing aroma of freshly brewed caf.
"You all didn't have to do this." She exclaims as her husband drops a kiss onto the bridge of her nose and hands her a mug of warm liquid.
Mabion pulls out a chair for his wife, and encourages the others to sit, as well. They dish out the food, and eat while making amiable conversation. Honza makes a point of complimenting the beans when Mabion tells her that Jyn made them. Cassian enjoys the way she blushes to the tips of her ears when he leans in and murmurs "they are good" when she uncomfortably brushes off Honza's praise.
Cassian helps Has clean up, and the four of them say goodbye to Honza as she heads off to work.
"What does she do?" Has asks with interest as Mabion closes the door.
"Designs, programs, and fits prostheses." Jyn and Cassian both understand this to mean that she fitted Mabion's prosthesis, but neither explains it to Has.
"You have a ship to catch this morning, no?" Mabion glances at Has as he laces his boots. "You said you need to be there by what time?"
"Any time this morning will do." Has is folding up his blanket and fluffing the pillows on the sofa. "I don't leave until mid afternoon."
"You're welcome to stay on." He offers the Dressellian. "I could use another programmer."
"I'm more of a...an...acquisitioner." Has admits carefully, alluding to his less than legitimate business enterprises. "But I appreciate the offer."
"Okay." Both boots laced now, Mabion turns his attention to Cassian. "I'm going to drop him off at the port, then head over to work. Are you staying or coming? You're welcome to make yourselves at home here if you want to rest."
Jyn exits the spare room and glances at Cassian, waiting.
"I'll come with you." Cassian isn't going to pass up the opportunity to tour his friend's enterprise. "Do you want to come or stay?" He turns his attention to Jyn, who's standing just behind him.
"I'll come." She replies softly, uncomfortable at the notion of being left alone in someone else's home.
Jyn grabs her new, dark grey jacket at Cassian's urging and laces her boots quickly. She catches a glimpse of her reflection in the transparisteel of the window as she passes and double-takes at image she sees there. After years of shabby hand-me-downs and threadbare salvages, she barely recognizes herself in these clothes. Only her boots are old now, but she's very fond of them. They're comfortable and worn in just right.
The men give her a moment of privacy with Has to say goodbye when they arrive at the port after Cassian shakes the Dressellian's hand heartily and thanks him profusely.
"Jyn-chan." He tips her chin up and smiles warmly at the young woman. "Take care of yourself."
"Has-ujak." The words choke in her throat. "Thank you.
"The only good things I've ever done were for you and your mother." He admits as he squeezes her shoulder.
"I..." She's never been good at saying goodbye.
"Take care of that young man." Has cups the side of her face paternally as he nods towards Cassian, who is standing a respectful distance away.
He turns and walks toward his transport, leaving Jyn standing alone. Cassian and Mabion move to stand close behind her, and Mabion smiles outright as he watches Cassian reach out toward the young woman.
"Hey." Cassian rests a hand on her shoulder gently. "You okay?"
"Yeah." She turns and starts toward the shuttle.
Cassian spares a last glance for the man who saved Jyn's life, and wishes he'd had one more chance to thank him one last time before he hurries to catch up. He doesn't miss the look Mabion shoots him when he reaches for Jyn and wraps his arm around her shoulders.
The journey to Mabion's warehouse is a short one, but Jyn is grateful for the added warmth of the jacket. The sun is peeking out from behind fluffy clouds, and the day promises to be warm, but the stubborn chill of the early morning is hanging on. She follows the men silently as Mabion shows them around, her eyes taking note of all the hallways and exits on instinct, cataloging escape routes. Some habits are harder to kill than others, she supposes as she mentally organizes the maze of hallways into a floor plan. Saw taught her well. Always know your exits.
She's not paying attention closely as she should after Mabion shows them around for a while, and Cassian catches her craning her neck to see around her.
She misses whatever it is that Cassian asks his friend, but it's in Festian, so she wouldn't have understood it anyway. A few minutes later, Cassian leans close to her ear and whispers "Straight down the hall, first right, next two lefts."
His breath ghosting her ear makes her shiver, and she tries to concentrate on what he's telling her. It takes her a moment to understand that he's answered the question she's been avoiding asking. He's giving her the directions to the restrooms she's looking for. Of course he's read her mind. She gives him a grateful smile and heads off, leaving the men alone for the first time all morning.
Cassian let out a slow breath and turns to face his friend.
"Do not interrogate Jyn." Mabion opened his mouth to defend himself, but Cassian continues. "I know you meant well, but just don't. Jyn will not react well to an inquisition." The last thing he needs now is Jyn distancing herself from him. They've come so far. They've made so much progress.
Mabion had the good grace to look chagrined. "I didn't mean..."
"I know. You've always had my back, but leave her alone. You don't know her like I do." Jyn, Cassian knows, does not appreciate strangers probing into her personal life.
"If it helps, I think she cares about you a lot."
It actually does. "That's not the point." He's still not going to let him off that easily.
"Well, if you're not interested, let me know. Umed wants to know if he can take her out to dinner, and Jarmo and Nevin each called dibs after him."
"They what?" Cassian almost gives himself whiplash turning back around to face his friend.
"If she is, as you keep insisting, not your girl, then I know some guys who wouldn't mind spending some time getting to know her."
"I'll bet." Cassian muttered as he looked around. "How many ships do you have now?" He needs to change the subject before his ire is raised any more than it already is.
"Four." Mabion allows the exchange of topics, but notes that his friend's pulse has quickened. "But we're looking into acquiring one more."
He leads Cassian around a while longer, and points out things his friend might find interesting. Cassian, however, stops paying attention, and checks his chrono nervously.
"Have you seen Jyn?"
"Not for a while." Not since she took off for the restroom. "We'll find her. She can't be too far." Mabion leads the way toward back down the maze of hallways in search of the short brunette. They find themselves in a large storeroom with banks of computers along the far wall.
Cassian breaths a sigh of relief when he spots Jyn, then clenches his jaw at the sight of her companions. She is surrounded by five of Mabion's employees, including Umed, Jarmo, and Nevin. Umed appears to be showing Jyn something inside of one of the processing units. She is stooped down low, head inside the large processor mere centimeters away from Umed.
"There you are."
"Hey." She pokes her head out of the unit, and takes the hand he offers to stand up. Cassian makes a point of tugging her close and wrapping an arm around her waist, fingers splayed out flat against her ribs. His thumb sneaks higher than it should for two strictly professional colleagues and rests on her lower sternum just above the xiphoid. "Mabion has a few errands to run, and then we were going to grab some lunch if you want to come."
"Sure." Honestly she's not sure she wants to intrude on them, as she knows they haven't had much time to catch up since Mabion retired from the Rebellion. However, the concept of lunch is enticing, and she's never been known to pass up food. "See you, guys." She tosses a smile over her shoulder at her new friends and matches Cassian's lanky steps. The arm he had wrapped around her waist slides down and rests possessively on her hip as they walk, and Jyn glances down, confused by the sight of anyone's hand on her body so familiarly. She considers stepping out of his reach on instinct, but thinks twice about it. She really doesn't mind being so close to him, she realizes. It's kind of nice, honestly, but she's not sure why.
Mabion is laughing silently as they brush past him, and Cassian glares at his friend. He's been had. The jerk. It's rude, since Jyn doesn't speak the language, but he can't help himself. A few death threats murmured in Festian make him feel better, but only serve to make Mabion laugh harder. He does not, however, release his hold on Jyn.
A/N: As promised. Apologies for the wait. If this one is darker, then I apologize. It's longer, for sure, and I'm not sorry for that. Apparently every chapter just gets longer. I'm just going to go with it.
Thank you ALL who reviewed chapter 17. I honestly was *this* close to deleting it and starting over when it had no response. I do SO appreciate you taking the time to leave kind and encouraging words. Thank you to engineerwenlock (I seriously needed that review. You left that review on a terrible day when I needed encouragement), Autumn, xbecbebex, Villian (you made my day when you left a review. I'd had a bad day at work, and your kind words helped turn things around), lindcita, DirtWaterTomahawk, Moniecat, Capsassian, Guest, Icbacteria, Mademoiselle le Chat, Annalay, and 5dreamcatcher who all left supportive words for me.
And I should have clarified that Has Obitt and the Erso's history with him is from Catalyst. Mabion and Honza are all mine, imagined specifically because I love Cassian, and wanted him to have people in his life who love him, too. Stalix and Win are also mine. I thought he'd made it clear in the movie (or at least alluded to) that he lost his family. I loved him too much to have his entire life be loss and pain, so I surrounded him with good souls who cared for him. It doesn't erase the loss of his parents and siblings, but I couldn't make tiny Cassian completely alone. He deserved better. ;-)
I have a tendency to change tenses mid-sentence. If you notice I've messed up, let me know. I tried to catch all the mistakes, but a few always slip past me. I lack precision and patience.
Thanks again, and have a lovely weekend.
Happy birthday to Mademoiselle le Chat! I hope you have a wonderful birthday and celebrate with something delicious and people who adore you!