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potential in motion

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"I don't know why I'm watching this. The secondhand embarrassment is very real."

Jyn’s voice breaks Cassian’s attention from his supply inventory and he glances down the U-Wing’s cargo hold towards his partner. His attention is momentarily caught by the sight of her wrapped in one of his parkas and perched in the ship’s open door. The hangar’s lights, diffused by the endless Hoth ice, throw a soft blue glow across the small part of her skin not covered by the parka’s fur.

He forgets what he’s doing.

She’s not looking at him, attention focused somewhere across the hangar, and the expression on her face is. Well. There’s a smile tucked in the corners of her mouth and a crinkle around her eyes. Cassian feels a smile tug at his own lips.

He doesn’t understand how she does this to him, doesn’t understand what she does to him, but he can’t bring himself to want it to stop.

The silence stretches and Cassian becomes aware that he should be responding.

He can’t remember what she said.

He thinks about saying nothing, pretending he didn’t hear, but he can’t ignore Jyn. Has never been able to ignore Jyn.

Somehow she’s become a star he orbits around.

“What?” he says. It’s vague enough, he thinks. She’ll explain.

She glances back and there’s a twinkle in her eye. He caught; she knows he’s been staring. His cheeks feel warm and his uncomfortably aware of the urge to fiddle. She always sees straight to the heart of him and it should terrify him but it doesn’t.

“Come see,” she says, jerking her head towards the hangar beyond the door. “No really. I can’t suffer through this alone.”

He feels the instinctual resistance to the very idea of her suffering, but she’s smiling and patting the decking next to her.

He goes, putting down his datapad and striding across the ship.

He settles in next to her and follows her gaze across the hangar. The subject of her focus is easy to pick out: Princess Leia and Han Solo are standing less than a foot away from each other in the middle of the hangar. Solo is pointing angrily at the Princess; her hands are pressed against her hips, tension in every line of her small frame. He can’t hear them over the bustle of machinery and voices that echo across the open space, but he doesn’t have to.

The sight is depressingly common — so common that the crew in the hangar weave around the pair without thought.

They’re having version number 237 of the argument about Solo staying with the Rebellion.

He wants to frown, but a glance to his side and he catches the reluctant grin on his partner’s face. Finally, her words come back to him.

“Embarrassment?” he says. “You?”

She turns towards him and shrugs.

“Well,” she says, “more embarrassed for them than anything else. This whole thing is getting a bit ridiculous.”

He blinks at her, glances back at Solo and the Princess—still arguing—then back at Jyn. Their fighting is aggravating and distracting, certainly, and he supposes he feels a bit of sympathy for the Princess having to continually deal with Solo’s inability to commit, but… embarrassing?

Jyn’s teasing smile gentles into something softer, and Cassian feels his insides warm. He’s both saddened and thankful when a loud outburst from Solo drags her attention away before she recognizes the heat creeping into his cheeks.

“Honestly,” she says, “I’m not sure whether they’re going to kill each other or kiss, but I wish they’d get it over with.”

Cassian chokes on air. “Kiss?!” he says. His voice sounds oddly high-pitched to his ears.

She turns back, an unimpressed tilt to her raised eyebrows.

“Don’t tell me you can’t see it,” she says.

He wants to argue, but… The thing is, he can see it. The whole base can see it. There’s been something simmering under the surface between the Princess and Solo since the Death Star. Cassian has always been of the opinion that it was rivalry.

Jyn, apparently, thinks differently.

“You think they are interested in each other?” he asks carefully.

He doesn’t agree, but dozens of missions have taught him that Jyn sees things — sees people — differently than he does.

“I think they have no idea what they want,” she says, attention on the arguing pair. “But I think they want something.”

She looks at Cassian, her green eyes glinting under the bangs swept across her forehead.

“All that passion has to go somewhere,” she says.

He squints at her, then to the Princess and Solo.

“I don’t see it,” he says, even though he does, because it makes her grin.

“Sure you don’t,” she says, and leans over to press her shoulder against his.

They stay like that for a long time, pressed together from shoulder to knee, watching the Princess and the smuggler get increasingly more animated. It’s comfortable, Cassian thinks. They’ve never had to talk about this thing growing between, letting their orbits slowly circle together without needing to discuss.

It’s been a novelty for Cassian, not to have to have a detailed action plan, twelve contingencies, and a debriefing strategy session for something this important to his very existence.

He likes it, and he’s honestly not looking forward to when they will have to talk about it. Eventually that space between partners and something more will grow too small to avoid the discussion.

He doesn’t know when that will be, and he’s not going to let it bother him.

Jyn is a warm weight against his side and watching the bustle of the busy hangar is almost meditative. He lets his mind go blank and just enjoy.

Eventually, Jyn breaks the silence.

“They remind me a bit of us, at the beginning,” she says as Solo throws his hands in the air and the Princess shows her pointed finger in his face.

There’s a curl of amusement in her voice, but Cassian feels only a sick feeling in his gut, because in that moment he does see them. He doesn’t like to think about that part of the beginning, circling each other on the deck of a stolen Imperial shuttle, Eadu’s endless rain dripping from the clothes, blood on their hands, and hurling daggers at each other.

The worst part — the worst part — of that moment was that everything they’d said to each other had been true.

Cassian hates thinking about it, hates being on anything like unsteady ground with Jyn.

Abruptly, he decides the conversation can’t wait.

“Promise me that won’t ever be us,” he says, abruptly, forcefully.

Next to him, Jyn startles.

“What?” she says.

He shifts to face her and she follows his lead, eyes narrow and concerned. Their knees touch. He takes her hand.

“Promise me that that,” he gestures to the Princess and Solo, “won’t ever be us.”

She blinks at, then her eyes narrow.

“You don’t want us to fight about getting together,” she says, low and flat. “Or you don’t want us to be together?”

Cassian feels his gut clench. That not what he meant.

“No! Yes!” He pauses. Takes a deep breath.  “Yes. I do. Want us to be together.”

“Oh.” Her face softens. “Then—”

“I don’t want us to ever be people who would try to hurt each other rather than talking.”

The words come out in a rush, dragged from his lips without any thought from his brain. He never wants anything like Eadu to ever happen again. Not to them.

He can’t bear the thought of fighting becoming a part of their relationship.

“Oh,” Jyn says. She smiles, soft and warm. “We won’t.”

“Jyn—”

“Cassian.” She puts her hand in his. Weaves their fingers together. It’s awkward and bulky, even though their gloves and thin. “We won’t.”

“I couldn’t bear to hurt you,” he says. A little desperate.

“I know,” she says.

His heart thumps in his chest and he can’t help but grin at her.

“Together?” he says, just a little tentative.

“Together,” she says, smiling back.

In the corner of his eye, Cassian sees the Princess throw her hands in the air and storm off. Solo follows, still shouting. He almost wants to thank them for prompting this conversation.

When Cassian looks back, he sees that Jyn has followed his gaze. Her face is contemplative as she watches the pair storm from the room.

“Maybe not so much like us,” she says quietly.

Cassian squeezes her hand.

“Maybe someday,” he says because he’ll give them that. He’ll give them potential.

After all, he and Jyn managed it. Somehow.