Jyn Erso sat with her feet dangling from the bridge. Somewhere behind her the ancient forest was playing host to a quite modern party. The night was alive with light and song as the victors reveled in the day's events. She could hear them, but they were far enough anyway not to disturb her sanctuary. The rough wooden cup in her hands – the hollowed out remains of one of the smaller trunks on Endor – was mostly empty, but she couldn't quite bring herself to get up to fetch more. Before her, the night was clear and dark. She felt it like a balm on her hot face. The fresh breeze was a relief to her rigid muscles. She wasn't ready to leave it to face everything else: the party, the victory, and, of course, the Captain.
He found her anyway, and it was not an intrusion so much as the time to settle accounts. He settled next to her and handed her a full cup of whatever moonshine they were drinking. They hadn't planned for this moment, but they had known, and shared an understanding, that if the day ever came when the Empire was defeated, an entirely different battle awaited them.
Jyn found herself ready to surrender. For just a brief moment, she thought about slipping through the railing and dropping thousands of feet into the forest below. It was not a death wish so much as an extreme case of flight. This was one fight she wanted to run away from.
She looked over at him. His eyes, as ever, were steady, steady and kind, and a lot of incoherent things about hope flicked through her brain at once. She might be willing to run away from herself, but she would stand and fight for him. He always had for her, hadn't he?
She turned back to the forest and took a long pull from her cup. "Okay. What now?"
Cassian didn't laugh, though she felt him shift a little. "I think I'm done," he said.
Me too, she thought, but didn't say it aloud, because she didn't have to. "Won't they need you? For…well, for whatever they do next? Build a new Republic, I suppose."
He was shaking his head. She could just see the movement, in the dark, and out of the corner of her eye. "I don't think so. I don't…that's not what I do. I don't…I don't know how to do anything else."
She got it. Of course she did. She didn't know what to do with herself either. The others, the revelers back there with their songs and their dancing and their bonfires, were bubbling over in the chance to go back to their homes and their families and build real lives. But for Jyn, this had always been her real life. She didn't know what anything else would possibly look like, and though she generally prided herself on her imagination, just now it was failing her.
It seemed Cassian's wasn't. "I'd like to go someplace quiet," he said softly, "and I'd like you to come with me." She turned to him again. This was the moment. He took a deep breath. "There are some things I've wanted to say to you for a while. Actually…there are some things I've wanted to do to you as well."
In spite of herself, the corner of her mouth twitched at the candor. It was as out of character a thing as he could possibly have said, and yet there was no way he could have said it that wouldn't have sounded strange. Yet she had known, all along, all through the years, that it was true. And she didn't have to tell him the feeling was mutual.
Cassian handed in both of their resignations, and Jyn packed. When it was done, he found her, and they took a ship without speaking to a soul. Jyn didn't have any friends. One was hard enough. She didn't ask why he didn't make his farewells, though she thought she knew the answer. Despite how the years at her side had weathered at him, he still felt the pull of duty, and now, with the last strokes fallen, he didn't want anyone to talk him out of leaving.
The where they were going had been decided two years previously.
"I like it here," Jyn had announced.
"Here?" Solo had demanded from his spot beside her. "As in this mess? As in on this icebox we're calling a bench? Or as in our company? I know you can't mean Hoth as a whole."
"I like it here too," Cassian had affirmed, and their eyes met with understanding, because Hoth was the one place in the universe that didn't reminder them of a planet they'd lost someone on.
The occasional snow monster wasn't a worry so much as a perk. They would both need something to keep them from getting bored.
There were still some sections of the base that hadn't been destroyed, and Cassian had a generator going in no time. Jyn had finished unloading their gear and wandered in to find him scraping the last of the ice off the machine. They were both stuck in their winter gear for the time being, but that would change before the night was out.
Cassian sat back on his heels to look at her, and then abruptly sank backwards. Whether in sympathy, or because it finally struck her, too, that their work was done, she sank with him.
Once down, she found she couldn't get up. She couldn't speak either, and from the look of him, neither could Cassian. Their eyes worked fine, and like all the times before, they understood, but none of their other muscles seemed to be cooperating. They sat there, on the cold stone of the place they had called home and would again.
Eventually, perhaps an hour later, perhaps less, some of the heat seemed to be working, and they managed to pull themselves up off the floor. They went about their business, making dinner, turning a back room into a bedroom, putting the gear and supplies they had brought with them away. Jyn wondered who had authorized the release of so many precious commodities, but it was more curiosity than concern. The Rebellion owed that much, at least, to Cassian. They shed layers of clothing as they did all this, but not in a way that anyone would have considered erotic. It was just the thing to do as one got warmer.
When dinner was finished, they both collapsed in bed, and Cassian pulled her close against him, but she could feel that the trembling in his limbs was nothing like arousal. It was too like her own. They didn't wake until late the next day.
It was three days before they spoke to each other. Three days that were spent in the simple tasks required to make a life together. They blocked out their section of the base from the emptiness of the rest, and as Jyn felt the ice close around her, she felt safe. They arranged the things they could use and put the rest in storage for later. Eventually, they would need to organize some kind of trade in a nearby system. It couldn't be helped. But it would be many months before that kind of venturing was required.
On the end of the third day, they sank into the comfort of a couch they had pulled up from the old medical wing. They propped their feet up on a table, in closer proximity to the radiator. Their shoulders were touching. They were always touching. They had gotten by on soft brushes and the gentle squeezing of each others' hands for years, but this was different.
"I didn't realize how tired I was," Cassian said into the silence.
Jyn had known. She'd had to face it once, and that had also been on Hoth. A clumsy move by a new recruit on a scouting mission had caused her to throw out her back, and the injury had been so severe she had been forced to question her own strength.
"Exhaustion," the medical droid had informed her, "hypertension, stress…Your body is reacting to the strain you put it through. My recommendation is that you rest."
She almost told him where he could rest, but the simple logic made her think better of it, and, as it turned out, rest could backfire too. She went to bed early that night and woke up feeling like she'd been run over by an AT-AT. She couldn't bend over, and was growling in frustration, lying on her bed, trying to pull her own trousers on, when there was a knock on her door.
Only one person would come to her personal quarters looking for her, and he was the last person she wanted there at such a moment. She tugged again, and cried out with the effort, and without another word Cassian slammed his way through her doorway.
She looked up at him, mortified, but he shut the door behind him and come to help her. He couldn't stop the pain, but he could support her while she got dressed, assist where she let him, and when she was in a decent state again he looked down at her and said, "I think you need to take today off."
She'd glared at him, but climbed back into bed, and when she woke she had no doubt as to who had left the soup for her.
It was as intimate as they'd ever been.
But on this night, nothing in their bodies was broken. Cassian's head had found its way to the crook of her neck, his nose buried under her earlobe.
Jyn shivered, nothing to do with Hoth.
"I think, sometimes, it would have been easier if we'd died on Scarif."
He didn't look up at her comment, just turned his head ever so slightly, and there was a soft pressure as his lips touched her neck.
The shiver turned into a full blown shudder, as he continued to move upwards. His kisses grazed, teasing, just below her jawline, and it was slow, so unbearably slow, but they'd waited this long. Jyn closed her eyes and tried to enjoy it, though she felt like he was killing her.
When he reached her face he pulled away, cupping her head between his hands and pulling her around to look at him.
"Do you really wish that?"
She nodded. There was no room for dishonestly between them. "Not just now, perhaps, but sometimes."
"You might be right. But then… I'd have one more thing to regret."
He wasn't the only one, and while she couldn't quite smile, she held his gaze steadily until he met her lips with his own.
They'd always been close, since the first days they knew each other. This was different only in that it was confirmation of what had already been between them, and, though they didn't say it aloud, their last hurdle to peace. Jyn felt an indomitable strength in the hands that held her now, the fingers that wound into her hair, that slid down her back only to pull her over until she was straddling him.
She broke away to stare down at him. His eyes were dark, severe, like a sniper eyeing his target. She shook again, and his hands moved down to her hips, his eyes lightening slightly in concern.
There were a number of things she could have said then. What did I ever do to deserve you?...You're moving too slow. Take off your clothes, right now…I love you.
What she said was, "I learned when I met you that our lives were about more than just us, but I always wanted…I always hoped, we'd get a piece of what we were fighting for. That hope had a little room for us in it too. This…you are more than I could have wished for, if I'd know how to do such a thing."
"You were right before," he answered, and reached up to brush away the hair on the side of her face. "It might have been easier if we had died on Scarif. But, I'm glad to have seen the day when I didn't have to chose between you and the greater good."
She smiled down at him. "Rebellions are not the only thing built on hope."
His eyes once again darkened, and she was glad for the thousandth time that they were both people of few words, because words would have been in the way just then, and she was suddenly focused on moving other, more solid objects, from their path.
AN: If you enjoyed this, and I hope you did, I ask that you do two things. One, leave a review. ;) Two, write a little fixit fic of your own. My heart is still broken for these two, and the only balm is fanfiction.