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Delayed gratification

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Dimly, the idea of the impact grew as a presence in her mind.

                The jets of the patrol speeders approaching made her hair whip around her face, but she was motionless otherwise, poised on the edge of the sandy rooftop, eyes on the sloped surface across the alley below her. Her hands splayed to either side of her, fingers combed by the wind and dust as she judged her next move.

                A tinny voice began to make its demands from the speeder, and blue light roved over her.

                The slope was uneven, its tiles were old and loose. She could imagine the way her worn, shiny-soled boots would skid on the terracotta, sliding over a sliding surface. Her knees battering the tiles as she threw herself down to the ridged roof. She could slow her fall, fingers raking across the tiles, bumps and bruises accumulating until she came to the edge; she’d probably reopen the wound on her arm, hot blood turning cold as it welled in the fabric of her sleeve.

                The roof was lower than where she stood, but still high above the ground; she’d feel the pull deep in her shoulders and arms as she caught her fall on the green-stained stone guttering, her legs pedalling the sky and feet jabbing against the wall in search of purchase. Then the drop. Then fire in her ankles and knees, maybe more, maybe less, depending on how she landed. The cracked, dry ground of the street was still metres below her target, but it was the only way out. She’d limp furiously into the shadows of the slums, twisting a path the stormtroopers could never follow, and she’d be back at the safehouse in no time.

                Jyn imagined all of this as she flexed her knees slightly, adrenaline masking the anticipation of pain. What did it matter how hurt she’d be? It was the only way forward; the only way she knew how to go.

                She sucked in a breath, steadied herself, and plunged off the roof …

Doubt and past experience could no longer compete with a more immediate urge: she needed to get that off-white, ancient shirt off his body.

                When the door sighed shut behind them Jyn spared a hand to palm the room’s lights on. She didn’t want darkness to hide him, and recklessness made her want to be seen too. A challenge to herself, or to him; she wouldn’t think about it. Thinking would get in the way of sensation, of the simple heat of his body, the surprising smoothness of his skin.

                He finally moved enough to let her get the shirt up over his arms and head, a smile flashing as the material caught on his beard and elbows. Jyn’s reciprocal smile was a brief acknowledgement, but her gaze roved over him in earnest seriousness, followed by fingertips that she forced gentleness into, a delicate reading of the old, yellowed bruising on his ribs, tracking into the hollow of his sternum through the thin smattering of hairs on his skin.

                She frowned a little to notice that where she’d seen him work at some old wound in his shoulder there was barely any trace of a scar; she swirled her touch around a dimple the size of her fingernail, wondering what the bacta had washed away, and wondering at all the stories of himself he’d never finished telling her.

                Jyn watched his chest move under her touch, his breathing quickening even though he waited, eyes fixed hungrily on her face. Her smile resurfaced under the intensity of his look; she pretended to ignore him, retracing the lines her fingers had drawn, trying to make the contact of skin on skin as light as she could, feeling the pressure increase on the pads of her fingers each time he breathed in.

                As her touch slipped lower the muscles of his stomach tensed and a gasp of laughter escaped his lips. Jyn looked up, her smile turning into a wily grin.

                “Are you ticklish, Captain?” she murmured, moving her thumbs in sweeping motions over his skin.

                He said nothing, but she was transfixed by the movement of his mouth as he sucked on the inside of his lower lip, distorting his smirk as the lines of amusement around his eyes showed. Even as Jyn began to push forward on tip-toes to kiss him again, he anticipated her move and swiped her hands from him, closing the space between them before she could, rumpling her shirt from the waistband of her trousers as his lips fastened on hers.

                She shivered happily as his rough hands cupped her back, smoothing up and down and around the curve of her waist. Her own grip floundered confusedly at the air for a moment as he pulled her close, rounding his body to her shape, until her hands found his shoulders, now grasping tight on the wiry lines of muscle, finding their way to play in the hair at the nape of his neck.

                Cassian took the edges of her shirt and pulled upwards as she released him in order to shrug her sleeveless jacket to the floor. She raised her arms, trying not to end up tangled in her own clothing as the unyielding carbon cotton attempted to bind her impatient limbs.

                Cassian didn’t mind her predicament, pausing with one hand on the shirt still wound above her head to palm his greedy touch down her body again, squeezing her skin and dropping his kisses to her neck, throat and cleavage. Jyn’s head lolled back and she bit down on a groan, shimmying to free herself from the cotton cuffs he’d left on her.

                Finally, Cassian finished the work of pulling her shirt clear and returned his mouth to the skin of her collarbones, grazing teeth where flesh was thin over her bones and nipping at softer areas leading down to her bra band. Jyn twined vindictive fingers in his hair, refusing to beg for his touch even as her skin crackled with raw demand.

                His hands were strong on the waist of her trousers and he pushed and pulled her in motion with the movement of his mouth, finally working his hands around to tug at the fastenings of her belt. He hadn’t got far with them before Jyn pulled his face up to hers and kissed him with force, but it didn’t stop his insistent, clever fingers, which now pinched at the fastening on the back of her bra, freeing the tight material and chasing it from her body with fingers running through the red marks left by its elastic.

                Teasingly, he only ghosted a light touch down her aching nipples, retreating from the want of her mouth on his to kneel before her, his hands barely pausing at the transition from the skin of her waist to the cloth of her trousers and the leather of her belt and holster.

                Jyn looked down at him wide-eyed and suddenly aware of the brightness of the room and her own exposure. Below the curves of her own breasts she could see the uneven scars of old shrapnel wounds across her belly; her arms reaching down to his face showed the burns she’d received working on Wobani. But he didn’t look at any of that. Cassian looked up at her face with sparkling dark eyes, his pupils wide and the hint of his teeth visible in the smile he still wore. Before she could grow any more self-conscious, his hands dropped swiftly to the insides of her legs and she had to let a curse out when the feeling of his touch on her thighs, even through cotton, sent flashes of longing up to the apex of her legs.

                He loosed the buckles of her blaster holster and ran his hands up the front of her legs again, his thumbs tracing the inside line up to the fastening of her trousers. As he tugged her belt loose, he rose to stand against her once more, his tongue pressing against hers in a way she wanted it to press other areas of her nerve-jangled body.

                Between the doorway and the narrow cot their boots were lost, and before her calves bumped against the frame of the cot, Jyn’s trousers and holster fell heavily to her ankles. She worked at Cassian’s own buckles, but concentrating on the fiddly thigh straps of his holster was so hard with his hands one moment squeezing her arse through the thin fabric of her underwear, the next moving around her so that his thumbs flicked over her nipples, the curve between his thumb and forefinger cupping her breasts and then travelling up again to remind him of the line of her jaw.

                Jyn was naturally reticent to respond loudly; a lifetime of shared barracks, thin-walled safehouses, and the fear of showing the depth of anything she felt kept her lips bitten tight-shut when they weren’t on Cassian’s or elsewhere on his skin. She was used to taking the initiative, taking what she wanted and letting the other know in no uncertain terms that they’d accept her this way or get out of her room.

                But she’d lost control of this situation somewhere between the doorway and the cot, and she felt herself succumb to the need to stop trying to get his holster loose, to stop trying to even out their nakedness, and to stop fighting the quiver in her legs. Cassian must have felt a softening in her muscles as her hands withdrew from the thigh straps, and, his lips still locked on hers, he grabbed her arse again, pulling and lifting as her thighs tightened welcomingly around his hips and he lowered Jyn to the mattress.

                The move wasn’t fully controlled and she shocked herself with a laugh as her back hit the blankets suddenly, her crystal necklace bouncing across the skin between her breasts and Cassian’s own laughing face close to hers, the hair of his fringe tickling her forehead.

                There was a time not so long ago when she hadn’t even expected to have the opportunity to think about sex again, let alone enjoy it, but as he pulled her underwear from her hips, its journey down her legs seeming to take an age, Jyn thought that maybe she hadn’t really enjoyed it all that much before this moment anyway. Perhaps surviving a planet-killer gave you a new perspective on things; she wouldn’t yet allow that it was anything more than that.

                Cassian pulled her across the blanket with his hands on her hips, kneeling by the cot, the intensity of his stare now between her legs. Jyn sat up, reaching for him urgently.

                “No, come up here,” she said, her voice hoarse and unfamiliar in her own ears as he clambered onto the mattress without a second’s hesitation, his movements chasing her down as she shuffled to give him space.

                She guided him to another deep, lingering kiss, her body arching up towards him as he leaned over her, the skin of her torso pimpling with goosebumps in complaint that Cassian’s body now moved away from hers. His nips and kisses down her body left wet, cooling patches on her skin right down to her hip creases and the sensitive skin at the tops of her thighs.

                She couldn’t bring herself to beg, but her knuckles whitened as she bunched fists in the blankets, and her hips rolled demandingly in his hands, his palms hot on either side of her body. Jyn lifted her head from the mattress, her lower lip frozen in the first syllable of any number of words beginning with f, and Cassian met her expression, poised above her with an impish look in his eyes. He didn’t make her ask out loud, but smoothed her short, dark hair with a hand, lowering his mouth at last to her.

                She couldn’t say whether or not she made a sound now; her blood was rushing in her ears, his tongue, varying its pressure, worked in and against her, sliding over her own wetness. She let her hips rock under him, her hands clenching and unclenching in his hair. One of his hands moved across the skin of her inner thigh, up and up until he slipped a finger inside her.

                Jyn squirmed against the blankets as he gently applied pressure inside her, rubbing until she relaxed enough for him to add a second digit. She pushed her head and shoulders back against the cot, her nerves singing with the overload of information. When he withdrew his hand to trace warm, slick fingers over her nipple she saw stars in the ceiling, her chewed lips finally releasing a hoard of bound expletives.

                She lifted her head from the cot to stare accusingly at him, meeting the satisfied glow in his eyes, though his tongue didn’t stop moving against her, and Jyn had to arch back again, her body shuddering, heels digging into the blanket as she thrust against his mouth. He adjusted his hold on her, hands steadying her body as it bucked, making her want to press her skin harder into his hold.

                When she came, her store of curses was inaccessible to her, and only inarticulate sound welled up from her throat as she floundered in the sensations rolling over her. The strokes of Cassian’s tongue slowed as her body’s shivers settled, until he shifted to plant swollen-lipped kisses on her thighs again, gradually moving up her body once more as she lay back, glazed eyes fixed on the ceiling in astonishment at herself.

                He propped himself above her with an elbow, nuzzling her crystal necklace aside jealously to cover the swells of her breasts with his mouth. Jyn recalled one of her hands, running it deep into his hair, sweeping the dark strands back from his forehead to the curve of the back of his head.

                Against her skin he murmured a question, repeating some of her exclamations back to her.

                “What does it mean?” she echoed, trying to concentrate on what he’d said. “It’s Togruta. Um. It means ‘your mother’s montrals are so small she could hide in shaved grass.’”

                He laughed against her skin and raised his head, the finger and thumb of one hand smoothing the short hair of his moustache as he regarded her. “I think something might have been lost in translation; I’d assumed it was a compliment.”

                Jyn felt an unfamiliar heat rise to her cheeks and pulled his face close for a kiss tasting of herself. “It was. In its own way,” she reassured him.

                As he leaned over her for another deep kiss, Jyn arranged herself beneath him, finally gripping his sides with her knees again and tensing to wrestle him onto his back. She straddled him, her fingers splayed on his chest to steady herself, a triumphant grin beaming down at him from within the halo of hair that had already freed itself from her tie.

                Cassian looked up at her like she was a blazing star, a crooked, bemused smirk on his lips as he watched her shift back to get to the deferred work of unfastening his trousers and belt. She scooted backwards again, grasping handfuls of the material and pulling trousers, belt and holster down as he lifted his hips to aid the movement. She cast the pile of clothing aside and positioned her knees between his legs, batting them aside until they splayed to the edges of the narrow mattress. She ran a palm over the tented material of his underwear, glancing coyly up at his rounded eyes, which were now fixed on her hand, with her own smug smirk.

                He tried to prop himself up on his elbows and she pushed him firmly back with a touch to the centre of his chest, following him down with a kiss as one hand continued to stroke him through the soft fabric, her other set of fingers toying with his own sensitive inner thigh, and the skin on his belly that she’d guessed earlier was ticklish.

                Eventually she hooked her fingers into his waistband and stretched the underwear clear of him, sending it wherever she’d sent his trousers as she hastened back to lean over him, grazing her teeth through his stubble to find the soft skin of his neck and throat, her hand working him all the time as his own fingers buried themselves in her dishevelled hair, his thumbs smoothing back and forth over her cheeks. At first she tried to be gentle, but his hips pushed insistently against her touch, so she tightened her grip and hardened her mouth, nipping marks into the skin of his shoulders and chest.

                He freed a hand from the tangle of her hair, bringing more of it loose as he did, reaching down to cup her breasts and play his thumb over her nipples again. Jyn let herself luxuriate in a moan deep into his mouth and moved to straddle him again, lowering herself to grind against him. He gasped back into her mouth, biting her lower lip when she tensed as though planning on sitting back. She continued to tease him, forcing her hips hard and low as his grip shifted across her body, laying possession to her from head to tail.

                When she wasn’t sure how much more she could tease herself, Jyn shifted her hips to take him inside her. His moan echoed hers as his hips bucked up gratefully, his fingers and thumbs digging into her thighs and arse. Jyn sat above him, hips rocking as her eyes closed in bliss, feeling her necklace bump against her skin and more strands of her hair continually slip loose to tickle the skin of her cheeks, neck and shoulders.

                Cassian tensed under her and arched his back off the mattress and her eyes flew open to see him compose himself, his bottom lip held firmly by his teeth. His cheeks and chest were flushed with pink and he wore a frown of concentration as he looked her up and down, his grip on her legs finally loosening to reveal the white and pink brands it had left on her.

                She slowed her movements again, leaning down to kiss him, but he wrapped his arms cleverly about her and managed to turn the tables on her again, and then he was above her, one arm hooked under her left leg, his mouth on hers, thrusting hard and slow deep into her. Jyn grabbed at him, letting another small noise escape her while she gathered herself to roll him back again, wary of the edges of the cot, but more determined to have her way.

                He grinned an acknowledgement of defeat, his hair flopping away from his brow as she rose above him again, feeling the heat in her skin start to break through as a sheen of sweat on her shoulders and chest. She splayed her hands on him and rode him hard, harder when he reached a hand between her legs to catch at her clit with his thumb. Before she could come a second time his hand flinched towards her thighs again though, his hips rising from the cot as he pulled her down onto him.

                He murmured her name into her mouth, his face soft under her questing hands as she kissed away the nonsense spilling from his lips. His arms reached around to hold her close to him, their skin meeting hot and cold with the rush of blood and the cooling sweat on them both.

                Jyn pressed her nose into the place where his neck sloped down to meet his shoulder, gulping air that tasted of his skin and feeling her breathing steady in time with his. As her own body grew sticky with drying sweat, strands of hair clinging to her face and neck, she finally rolled off him, her mind warring between the peace of blank satisfaction and the as-yet-unformed fears of all that she couldn’t control; all that lay below the surface of the person stretching his lithe body languidly out next to her.

                Cassian rolled onto his side to face her, whilst Jyn resolutely scanned the ceiling again. She could feel him watching her, reading her like an open book. With a sigh, he edged closer to her, reaching his arm over the scarred skin of her stomach; his fingers got under her, and with the strength that often caught her off-guard in his skinny arms he pulled her in to him, twisting her as his arm gripped so that she no longer lay on her back, one side pressed against the wall, but now the back of her body fitted neatly against the front of his.

                Jyn closed her eyes; the assuredness, the insistence of the gesture should have annoyed her, made her want to leap from the bed, or drive him out of the room. But she remembered the last time he’d clung to her with such force, at the top of the Citadel.

                When he nuzzled his scratchy beard against her neck, letting her hair catch in it in waves and tangles, he didn’t say the same thing he’d said then.

                Leave it, leave it …

                It had taken a moment for his hissed demand to reach through the wall of her fury. Her eyes were fixed on the still-living body of the man in white, the man who had stolen her father from her, who had killed her mother and condemned her to a lifetime of exile.

                That’s it. That’s it. Let’s go …

                She frowned at the smoke in the air; how did he have such strength after that fall? His grip was tight enough to bruise, even as she’d prepared to throw her whole bodyweight against it. But he’d brought her close, tucked into him, no bulky coat between them as when he’d stuck to her side on Jedha and dragged her through the rain of Eadu. She felt him tremble through the thin cloth of his shirt, and though his eyes on her were steady and certain, she began to realise how precariously he swayed. He’d fall without her there. She couldn’t let him fall again.

                She didn’t recognise what he said to her now, but his warm breath tickled the skin of her ear, lulling her eyes closed.

                “What does it mean?” she murmured, knowing she’d lose the battle with sleep soon enough.

                She felt his smile against her skin. “It’s a Festian insult. It doesn’t translate,” he told her.

                She didn’t believe him, trying to repeat the word. His smile broadened, his amused exhalation disturbing the hair curled around her ear. He said it again in a voice smooth as shimmersilk, and Jyn felt her skin prickle with goosebumps once more. She fidgeted against him, trying to get as much of her as possible as close to him as possible.

                Jyn’s mind wandered in and out of sleep, but at one point she found herself more awake than not, the covers somehow having been retrieved from beneath their bodies to cover them, and the light now out. His body was still close to hers, his skin still surprisingly soft, and his breath still steady on her neck and in the labyrinth of her hair. She could tell from its rhythm that she was awake too.

                “What does it mean, Cassian?” she demanded again, her voice thick with sleep.

                He said nothing at first, maybe thinking the words had been spoken in her sleep, but she raised her head from the pillow and he relented, his arm tightening against her. “Just ‘hope’. That’s all.”

                Jyn wondered if he’d be able to feel the heat that rose to her skin. Why should something like that make her feel something so similar to pride? Sleepily, she pushed the thought aside, her curiosity winning out over the usual barriers, weakened by her tiredness. “Say ‘welcome home’ to me,” she said, quietly enough that she hoped he might not hear her.

                She tried to imagine his expression in the pause that broke their shared darkness. He’d gasped a little, and then nuzzled his face close to her again. Finally he spoke two more words in the same lilting, soft language, and Jyn went to sleep hoping to dream of a galaxy where those words could be true.