After it's all done—the rush and the terror, the awards ceremony he avoided and the dunk in the bacta tank he did not—Bodhi Rook is offered a ride on a shuttle.
"It's hardly an appropriate reward considering the service you have done for the Alliance to Restore the Republic, but I hope it will suffice," Mon Mothma says, inclining her head. "It seems, like after everything, you might want some peace. Or at least," her eyes grow dark, and she looks away, "a better chance of peace than can be offered here."
Bodhi mumbles and looks to the side, intimidated as always by power. The Empire was nothing but brutal lesson after brutal lesson that you do not trust anyone in charge. Chancellor Mothma hardly seems to be cut from the same cloth as Krennic, but instincts don't change easily.
Fortunately, Chirrut has no such compunctions. "It's a more than gracious offer. You've found where the Jedhan refugees are congregating, and are offering us protected passage. We will, of course, need a bit of time to decide."
"Take all the time you need. It is the least we can offer you."
As she walks away, Baze mutters, "I couldn't pry you off of Jedha for love or money during the entire occupation. You seriously expect me to believe you'd walk away now?"
"Of course not, darling, we're going. But, our young friend…" Chirrut's words trail off as he orients himself toward Bodhi. "You may have a different path.
Raw shame sweeps through Bodhi, familiar enough now that he doesn't flinch at it. It's been his companion at every meal eaten on the Empire's dime. "I'm not sure I'm Jedhan enough to fit in with refugees."
"Nonsense," Chirrut says quickly, reaching forward to place a warm hand on Bodhi's shoulder. "The Empire tore too many children from us. If you want your home to be among the Jedhans, then that is where you belong. But you have been through many changes in these last few months. Take some time. Think on who you want to be."
Baze is both more and less eloquent. "You're no Imp. I'm glad I didn't kill you. I'd like it if you stuck around. But it's up to you."
"I'm glad you didn't kill me either," Bodhi says with a laugh. "As for the rest…I'll think on it."
After it's all done—the frustration and the scramble and the furious escape—Jyn Erso is offered a spot on a lithe corvette.
"I've heard how well you hunt," the captain says, a charming Rodian with a sharp smile. "You would be welcome on board the Swift Rapier."
"There's plenty of hunting here," Jyn replies, keeping her hands still and her face blank as she scanned along the ship. It's a modern design, bristling with guns, and clean. No shortage of cash with this crew, and the maintenance speaks to responsibility and reliability.
"Certainly. And we are happy to help them. But I don't like dealing with politicians, and I'm willing to bet you don't, either. There is a freedom to being an independent operator," the captain continues, her antenna lazily swinging in amusement. "And, not to be crass, a great deal more money. I look after my own."
Jyn's carefully blank face looks out over the crew. They are well-fed and well-armed. One of them has a prosthetic eye, another whizzes around in a tricked-out hoverchair. Good signs—everyone wants a captain that won't ditch you just because you got injured.
And they are laughing. That calls to Jyn, more than anything else, the way the crew are easy with each other. It's how the Partisans were on their very best days. It was exactly the sort of crew Jyn had dreamed of flying with, in the long and lonely years between Saw and Scarif.
"I'll need to think about it," Jyn says. "Look over your contract, see if we need to modify it at all."
"Of course!" the captain responds cheerfully, pressing a few buttons on her wrist computer, and flicking a file over to Jyn's datapad. "We leave in three days. Look it over, let me know. I think you'll find the contract will give you more freedom than you'd find anywhere else."
After it's all done—the mission and the rebellion and the return—Cassian Andor is offered nothing.
There are considerations of medical retirement with a generous pension, and rumors of a promotion out of field operations and into command. But ultimately, they are not offered, because everyone knows they would not be accepted.
Cassian's gift is less tangible, it's found in a Rebellion that is finally willing to act, in a cause filled with new life, and new energy. It's the rocky path he's always walked becoming a little smoother, and the constant presence of his oldest friend alongside him.
"I'm hurt they didn't offer me anything," K-2SO says, tossing something that looks alarmingly like a thermal detonator from one hand to another. "I should have at least been offered a medal. I'm going to lodge a complaint."
"If you're going to blow things up in protest, please do it somewhere else," Cassian says, unable to help his smile. "I've had enough of explosions."
K-2SO stops tossing the object, holding it up for Cassian's inspection. "Please. I'd be more careful with a live charge. This is chocolate. I think it's someone's idea of a joke."
"Why do you have a chocolate thermal detonator?" Cassian can't help but ask.
"Because it makes people nervous," K-2SO says cheerfully. "And if I can't have respect, I'll settle for fear."
Cassian laughs, and relaxes back into the company of his team of two. And if two feels a little small, after everything that's come before…Cassian has lost far more, in worse ways. This wistful little pain barely registers.
"We should just leave," Jyn snarled as she paced restlessly around the little corner of privacy she and Bodhi had found in the middle of the busy Rebel hangar. "They have the information, it's their problem."
"They need you. You're the one that saw Galen's message," Bodhi managed to choke out. He didn't understand where she found her energy. His own had been drained out of him entirely. Or spent, rather, on a terrifying run, on a trudge through a desert, on facing down a monster, on one last trip to Eadu. On watching a friend die.
Bodhi was barely managing to stay upright, and it was faintly exhausting, watching Jyn ricochet around their little corner.
"What are they doing," Jyn snarled. "It shouldn't take this long." She paced back across his field of vision, and then out of it again, and Bodhi heard a thud and a grunt. He summoned the energy to look over, and found facing down the wall, knuckles of her fist against the durasteel. She pulled back, like she was going to swing again
"Hey," Bodhi said, grabbing her wrist without really thinking about it, trying to keep her from hurting herself.
To his surprise, she didn't fight his hold, but instead used it as leverage to round on him, her furious green eyes scant inches from his own. "We should just leave," she said, still full of energy and fury. "I hate them. They killed him."
"I know," Bodhi said, his voice rough. "But they didn't mean to."
"How can you justify it? Wasn't he your friend?" Jyn demanded, her free hand grabbing at his shoulder.
"He…" Bodhi didn't know how to describe what Galen was to him. The man who reached inside him and pulled out his sense of purpose. The man who had thrown him to the wolves. "Yes, he was my friend."
"I hate it," Jyn hissed. "I hate that you know him better than I do."
"I know," Bodhi said, not letting go of her wrist, still meeting her eyes. "I do too."
"I hate you too, sometimes," Jyn said, her eyes gone hooded, watching his reaction.
"I know," Bodhi said, still holding her, still feeling her holding him. "I do too."
That bit of self-loathing seemed to snap something in Jyn. She surged forward, using her hand on Bodhi's shoulder to back him up against crates. Bodhi half-expected her to take a swing at him. He had already decided he'd let her. But she didn't, and as Bodhi's back hit the crates Jyn went up on her toes and kissed him.
It was wild, full of the same manic energy that kept her pacing around. Bodhi felt like she had been storing all the energy he had lost and in the meeting of their lips, she returned it to him. His free hand wound around her waist, and he held her tight against him, not wanting to let go, wanting to live in this moment. The war and the loss and the terror all fell to the background, and Bodhi focused on Jyn's fingers and Jyn's breath and Jyn's lips.
She pulled back with a gasp and Bodhi let her go. She moved just a few steps away, panting as she looked at him. Bodhi found standing was much easier, as he pushed off the crates and looked back at her.
"I don't really hate you," Jyn said. Her hands came up and twisted together, a nervous little gesture that Bodhi had never noticed her make before.
"I know," Bodhi said, strangely calm. Maybe when she had given him her energy, she had stolen his nerves. That didn't seem like a good trade. He reached forward, cradling her cheeks in his hands, and brushed the top of her forehead with a kiss, willing the horrible twisting anxiety out of her, and back into him.
There was a scuff of boots nearby, and Bodhi and Jyn separated just as Cassian came around the corner, looking relieved to find the two of them where he had left them. "Come on," he said, jerking his chin toward the landing bay exit, "council is meeting. You want to share your story, this is your chance."
Jyn looked over at Bodhi, and she looked calm. She nodded to him, once, like she was sharing a secret. "Let's go."
"Leave it," Cassian said, his voice too wet—something wrong with his lungs? Limping, and in pain, he reached for her, and she let him take her away. Away from revenge, away from death, toward an elevator and some slim chance at life.
They rocked together in the lift, the light from the viewports painting across Cassian's face—making him seem stern and soft as the shadows shifted.
Jyn couldn't believe she hadn't seen his softness before. She looked at him with wonder, as the fight slowly bled out of her. She leaned a little more on him, encouraging him to do the same, in return. They had done it. They had done what they needed to do.
Jyn wasn't sure what to do without this mission driving her. From the moment she had seen her father's face until now, every next step felt like the only possible move she could make. She didn't know what she would do if she went back to freedom.
Truth be told, she was probably never going to have to figure it out. The elevator would open, and they'd probably die to blaster fire. But she looked at Cassian, at the way the light played off of his skin, and decided there was one thing she wanted that wasn't inevitable. It was something she'd need to reach for, if she wanted it.
The controlled fall of the elevator matched her own movements as she leaned in, and in, until she brushed her lips against Cassian's. She laid a soft, question-mark kiss against his lips, and got her answer when he kissed her in return. His touch was gentle but sure, and she let herself melt into it.
They kissed until the elevator slid to a stop, then pulled back. A moment's glance passed between them, and Jyn felt her spine straighten as she braced an arm around Cassian's waist and prepared to face what awaited them when the doors opened.
"...Baze?" Jyn blurted, when the doors swung open to reveal a shuttle hovering bare inches above the ground, Baze hanging out of the open side door.
"They're here!" Baze called back into the shuttle, as he braced himself and reached a hand out toward them.
"Please inform them they need to hurry. There is a large energy build-up, and I am concerned about the continued integrity of the planet," a familiar sardonic voice responded.
Jyn felt Cassian twitch as he took a step forward on his own, toward the shuttle. "Kay?" he asked, his voice full of wild hope.
"Yes. The enemy combatants were less effective than expected. The Death Star will likely not be. Please hurry."
Cassian wasn't sure what to do with hope, as Baze's hands pulled him into the shuttle and deposited him next to an injured but awake Bodhi. Bodhi looked up from where he was bent over Chirrut's prone body, and his eyes widened.
"Is he…" Cassian asked, looking at Chirrut.
"Unconscious," Bodhi said, waving a medscanner over Chirrut with his left hand. "Breathing. Airway clear, some signs of head trauma, but no indication of internal bleeding on the sensors," Bodhi said, surprisingly calm, considering his right hand was hanging limply, and a deep dark burn blistered along his right bicep. "He'll be fine as long as we don't get blown up by the superweapon."
"And you?" Cassian asked, gesturing to the burn. The movement made something tug strangely in his ribs, and he flinched curling over on himself.
"Hang on!" Jyn called back to them, from the cockpit. "It's about to get fun! You fly, I'll shoot," she continued, her voice fading to a murmur as the shuttle pitched suddenly in the atmosphere.
Bodhi was over by Cassian's side in a moment, and he tried to reach for Cassian with his right hand, before flinching. After a moment's deliberation, he kneeled down next to Cassian instead, his knees pressing against Cassian's thigh, as he waved the medscanner over Cassian, frowning at the screen.
"Bad," Cassian said, a statement, not a question.
"You will be okay, too," Bodhi said determinedly. The shuttle shivered again, and Bodhi set the scanner down and reached across Cassian's shoulders. He braced Cassian against him as the shuttle gave a spine-scratching shriek of tormented metal.
"That's a kind thing to say," Cassian said, trying to forget about the pain. He let himself fall against Bodhi, tucking his nose against Bodhi's neck and breathing in the stink of sweat and char and life. "Probably not true, but it's kind."
"Hey," Bodhi said, affectionately squeezing Cassian's shoulder, and leaning his cheek against the top of Cassian's head. "I cross-trained as a medic. Give me some credit."
A wall of sound roared against the shuttle and green light, so bright Cassian could see it with his eyes closed, invaded the shuttle. A second later the shuttle shook, harder and harder, until Cassian was certain it was going to fall apart, and they'd all fall to ash, after all. They'd completed their mission, and Cassian found he didn't want to die.
He pressed harder against Bodhi, trying to block out the noise, ignore the tremors, and focus on the body next to him. He reached up Bodhi's chest, until his fingers pressed against Bodhi's carotid artery. He felt the thrumming of Bodhi's heartbeat against his fingers, and reminded himself that in this moment, they were alive.
The ship shuddered again, and everything went still. Cassian had a long second to wonder if he had died, after all, when next to him, Bodhi whooped, and Jyn and Baze's voice joined them.
"Hyperspace," Bodhi said, jostling Cassian a little as he shook with relief.
Cassian untucked from Bodhi's shoulder, and looked up at Bodhi's face, bright and joyous, free in a way Cassian had never seen it before.
"We lived," Bodhi said, almost laughing, his fingers squeezing Cassian's shoulder.
Cassian couldn't name the instinct that led him to lean in and kiss Bodhi. It had been long-buried, but brought to the surface by Jyn's hesitant brush of lips. It felt right. That was all Cassian could say.
Bodhi gave a gasp that was nearly a laugh, and pulled back just to lay quick joyous pecks along Cassian's face—a cheek, an eyebrow, the tip of Cassian's nose, then back to the mouth. "We lived," Bodhi whispered again as he kissed.
"Everyone okay back there?" Jyn called, and Bodhi shifted away, but still kept his arm around Cassian.
"We'd be doing better with some bacta," he called back, after a quick glance at Chirrut, "but we're alive!"
"A statistical anomaly," K-2SO announced, and Cassian pressed himself against Bodhi's side and laughed.
Bodhi flips through the holopics, waving his hand so that one bright image after another hangs in the space in front of him. Jedhans in traditional robes, alongside brightly colored market stalls. There is an uncomfortable wrong-ness about the images. The city behind them is steel, not stone. Still, it's beautiful, seeing people being so aggressively Jedhan, the way they never had the chance to be, under Imperial occupation.
Bodhi feels an ache in his chest, he reaches up absently to rub at his collarbone as he looks at the images. He's been away from home too long. He wants, desperately, to go home again.
But home isn't where the Jedhans are. It isn't anywhere. He'd given up his home a long time ago, the first day he donned Imperial Greys. If he wants to have a home again…he'll have to build it.
When Bodhi thinks of where he wants to build, it's not with the refugees.
Jyn's been left behind too many times. Her father, her mother, Saw Gerrera—one by one, all her parents decided they needed to go, and Jyn needed to stay. Jyn learned the lesson well; the best way to not be left is to be the one doing the leaving. Since then, that's always been the plan. Don't care. Don't stay.
A contract like this one is the highest form of commitment she had ever imagined for herself. A short-term slot with a transient mercenary crew. Find a group of people who were tough, good, and financially secure, and stick with them as long as it was mutually beneficial. She had thought it was as permanent as she was ever going to get. But now, she looks at the contract (more than generous, just as the captain had promised) and finds that promised stability now feels incredibly conditional.
A lifetime of running, and she's finally been caught. By a cause, and by the men that believed her when nobody else would.
A lifetime of instincts scream at her that she needs to be careful, that she's going to get hurt. She should take the contract, she should run.
Jyn fights them down. This time, she won't be the one who leaves first.
Cassian tugs his pajama pants up over his hips. He feels the urge to yawn rise, and he gives into it. Air fills his lungs, and he's still more than a little amazed to feel no pain in his chest. He had broken an "impressive" (in the words of K-2SO) or "alarming" (in the words of the medtech) number of ribs, and had been stuck in a bacta wrap for the better part of a week.
There are still some lingering twinges when Cassian bends the wrong way. Some scarring, too. All in all, though his body has returned to fighting fit, and the only question is when the fighting is going to start again. Cassian knows the council is dragging their feet on deploying him again. Well, he'll enjoy the breather, but sooner or later there's going to come a mission that needs him, and he'll be ready.
With a rueful chuckle, he heads to bed. Whatever the next mission is, Cassian severely doubts it'll be more dramatic than the last one.
He's just gotten himself tucked into bed when the door slides open. Cassian tenses, he locked it. But as hypervigilant as he's always been, he's never felt particularly unsafe on base. He looks to the door with more curiosity than fear. Silhouetted against the doorway is a slim female figure and Cassian, startled, pushes himself up into a sitting position.
"Jyn?" he asks, waving the light on.
Jyn tilts her head and gives a little smile as she steps into the room, closing the door shut behind her.
He'd thought she was long gone.
"You could have knocked," Cassian says, in the absence of anything better. The Swift Rapier departed at 1400, and Cassian would have wagered the last credit he owned that she had been on it.
"You could have given me the comm code," Jyn responds. She comes over and sits down on his bed, presumptuous with his space.
"I thought...the Rapier…"
Jyn fills in the blanks, and shakes her head a little. "I learned you were the one that set that up. Thank you. It was…just about perfect."
"Not exactly, apparently," Cassian says, gesturing at her sitting form.
"No," Jyn says. Cassian watches her struggle with herself, before she adds, quietly, "There was no…you."
It seems harder than usual to get enough air into his lungs. That simple admission makes him feel dizzy, and that dizziness makes him list forward, reaching out his hand. Jyn takes it after a moment's hesitation, her smaller fingers slotting between his. He feels both grounded by her touch, and more off-kilter than ever.
Jyn pulls his hand over into her lap, examining it closely, like it is a battlefield and she's running a tactical analysis over every scar and mole. "We make a good team."
"We do," Cassian replies.
"I'm going to keep working with you," she says, and it is not a question. "And K-2SO," she adds, after a beat.
Cassian smiles. "With both of you at my back, I might actually live through this war."
Jyn kisses him. It's faster than their inevitable fall into each other in the elevator. One moment she's across the bed, studying her hand, and in the next her lips are on his. The warm line of her body presses against his, and Cassian joins the kiss eagerly.
He doesn't have neat words for the way he feels about her. But he and Jyn have always stumbled over words. Actions are where they show their true selves—I put down my gun, I find you an army, I hold you when you've broken apart. They'll need to learn how to talk sooner or later, but for now, the kiss carries more than enough.
I see a future. I want you in it. I am bad at being vulnerable, but for you, I am willing to try.
The door to Cassian's room slides open again, and Cassian and Jyn startle apart.
"Am I interrupting something?" Bodhi asks, sounding amused.
"No," Jyn says, and beckons him over to the bed.
Cassian isn't sure whether he wants to protest Jyn's presumption or the fact that Bodhi is here more. It is Cassian's bed, he should be the one who decides who gets invited into it. And just like Jyn, Bodhi should be gone.
As Bodhi settles in at the foot of the bed, Cassian decides he is too happy to have Bodhi here—both in the bed and with the Rebellion—to protest either one. Instead, he offers a smile and a statement, "The ship to the refugees left."
"I decided to stay," Bodhi replies.
"Want to be intel with us?" Jyn asks.
"Have you actually talked with anyone in command about your plan?" Bodhi asks, teasing in a way that Cassian wouldn't have thought to be. "They might have different ideas about your assignment."
"I can talk to them in the morning. Who's going to tell me no?" Jyn flashes him a toothy smile.
"Cassian, maybe," Bodhi gestures over at him.
"I'd like to work with Jyn," Cassian says. Bodhi doesn't understand Cassian yet. When Cassian committed, he committed wholeheartedly. He had chosen to fight alongside Jyn, he isn't about to take that back now. And if Bodhi wants to join… "You too, if you want it."
Bodhi shakes his head. "No. I've never loved combat."
Jyn starts to make a protesting sound, but is silenced as Bodhi reaches into his pocket, pulls out a small chit, and tosses it to her. "Medtech Rook. You go out, save the galaxy, and I'll be here, ready to welcome you home and patch you up."
Jyn licks her lip as she turns the chit over in her hands. "Okay," she says, like she's striking a deal.
She hands the chit back and leans in to kiss him. Cassian wonders if he should be surprised. He isn't. He wants to kiss Bodhi himself.
Cassian is a little surprised when Bodhi lays his fingers against Jyn's lips, stopping her from moving closer. Jyn pulls back, her eyes starting to look hurt and defensive, when Bodhi says, "You two were in the middle of making out when I walked in here. I feel like, um, there's probably some conversations that should be had?" Bodhi looks from one of them to the other, eyebrows raised.
Cassian isn't sure what Bodhi wants to say. So, rather than guess and be wrong, he uses an old interrogator's trick, instead. "Go ahead," he says, putting the responsibility for words back on Bodhi.
Bodhi's eyebrows raise higher, and he starts to smile a little. "You're both crap at having an actual conversation, aren't you? Stars." Bodhi combs his fingers through his hair in a little gesture of frustration, undercut by his continued smile. "Alright, fine, I'll step up. We were just in, um, a pretty high-pressure situation, and there was some…intensity…"
"You're not actually very good at this either, are you?" Jyn asks, nudging Bodhi with her index finger.
Bodhi t'ches and shifts his shoulder away, gamely continuing, "We were thrown together. But even in that, I think…I think I would have chosen you. I think I'd like to choose you. Both." Bodhi nods. "That's what I'm doing. I'm choosing you both."
Jyn, slowly, leans in toward Bodhi again. "I choose you both too," she says, low and intense, before she kisses him. It's a brief press of lips, almost chaste, but it carries meaning.
Bodhi's eyes are shining when they separate, and he looks over at Cassian. Cassian knows it's his turn to talk. "We were thrown together. It's why…why I wanted to make sure you both had an escape route. Nobody should do this out of obligation."
"Thank you," Bodhi says, "for that choice."
Jyn doesn't move closer. Instead she shifts away, and Cassian has to fight to keep from chasing her. She's looking at him with her strategist's eyes, taking in every angle. "What about you? Free of obligation, would you chose us too?"
Cassian looks down, away from her. "The Rebellion is…until the war is done I won't be free of obligation." There's a heavy pain in his chest as he says the words. They gave up their futures for him, and now he can't do the same.
"Obviously," Jyn says, at the same time Bodhi laughs.
"Why do you think we're here?" Bodhi says, his tone sounding amused. "We know we're not getting you out of the Rebellion. So we're here too. And, you know, we care about the cause, too." Bodhi set his chin. "They took my childhood, they destroyed my city. I'd want to see things through."
"I'm in this until the Empire dies," Jyn says like a promise, like a vow.
For long seconds, Cassian can't do anything other than breathe. That's hard enough. Finally, he manages, "Yes. I'll chose you too."
"Good," Bodhi says, and kisses him. Cassian reaches up, and pulls Bodhi up and in, until Jyn and Bodhi and Cassian are all a tangled pile of limbs, trading laughter and affection.
After it was all done, their grand moment of sacrifice and heroism and unexpected survival, Cassian needed to offer Bodhi and Jyn a chance at freedom, away from the cause and the Rebellion they had been forced into. But they had looked at what was offered and decided he was worth more.
Cassian isn't sure what to do with that gift, aside from cherish it. But Jyn and Bodhi are here, and they choose him, and he will do all he can to choose them too. The rest of it—the war and the future and their dreams—they'll figure it out together.