Title: Stardust Author: Divapilot Characters: Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor, mentions of other Rogue One characters (Orson Krennic, Chirrut Imwe) Genre: Angst Summary: In the end, everything is dust. Author’s Note: Thank you, @Findswoman, for your very helpful beta. *** “To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour.” -William Blake, “Auguries of Innocence” *** Cassian Andor roused himself from his prone, stunned position on the floor of the Scarif archive vault and realized that he was dying. Probably. Most likely. He’d seen it enough before in others; he recognized the signs in himself. The agonizing pain in his back and side where he was sure there were broken bones. The general feeling of misalignment, as if his body--bones, muscles, nerves, flesh--had been shaken, slammed, and then dropped back into the casing of his skin. Which was not unlike what had actually happened to him. He tasted blood in his mouth and was unsure if he had bitten his tongue, or if there was a tooth knocked loose, or if he had been bringing it up from a gash in his lungs. But it didn’t matter now. What mattered was above him, on the platform where the transmitter was. That’s where Jyn would have brought the Death Star plans, in a desperate attempt to send them to the rebel fleet. And what mattered now to Cassian, now that he was probably most likely dying, was not the Death Star plans, nor the transmission, nor the rebel fleet. He pulled himself up with a heroic effort, feeling the grinding of bone against bone, gasping at the wreckage that the nicking of the blaster shot and the subsequent fall had made of him. Pain blurred his vision. Only his training and his stubborn determination got him standing. He staggered across the archive vault into the main room and made his way to the lift. The room was unguarded; the stormtroopers, understandably, had left him for dead. The doors opened and he pulled himself inside, leaning against the wall for support as the vehicle ascended. Eventually the lift slowed and the door opened onto the platform. He saw the man in white, standing with his back to him. Beyond him was Jyn. Neither had heard the lift open nor had they seen him. The man was familiar, Cassian thought, then he realized with a start why: the man had been present on the platform at Eadu. At the time Cassian’s thoughts had been occupied with fear for Jyn’s safety and he had paid little attention to the man in white. But here he was again, pointing his blaster at her. The man taunted Jyn. She was shaking, although she probably didn’t realize it. Cassian had only known her for a short while but he could already read her emotions. She wasn’t afraid. She was enraged. Cassian lurched toward them, then nearly collapsed against a support pillar. He pulled back into the shadow for a moment to gather his strength, then he withdrew his weapon. This might be, he thought, the last thing he did. He would make it count. He turned around the pillar again. The man in white raised his weapon at her, mocking her, reveling in her impending death. Cassian aimed his blaster and fired, and the man fell. Jyn stared uncomprehendingly at the man’s crumpled form, the edges of the white cape fluttering in the breeze. Then she looked up at Cassian. She smiled. She was bruised, exhausted, beautiful. A new strength seemed to course through her. She limped over to the transmitter and pulled the lever down, sending the message to the rebel fleet. Then she came back to him. She turned again to look back at the man who lay motionless on the catwalk, and Cassian felt her fury reignite. Cassian knew her mercurial rage, her desire to punish this man for the wicked life he must have led. But Cassian grabbed her arm, summoning the strength to hold her back. The effort drew more precious life away from him. More precious time gone. “Leave it,” he whispered. He looked past her, into the horizon where the Death Star was beginning to emerge from behind the clouds. “Leave it,” he repeated wearily. Jyn followed his skyward gaze, understood, and stopped fighting. She turned away from the man and faced Cassian. They were silent on the lift as it made its way down. They stood close and stared at each other. He memorized the way the strands of dark hair framed her face, the way her eyes seemed to know so much more than one expected. He thought of touching that face but he lacked the energy to move. There was little point in saying the words. Besides, he thought, she already knew. The lift slowed, then stopped. She put her arm around him and supported him as they staggered out of the lift. He leaned into her. She was small but she was strong, and he was not surprised by that. He had learned that Jyn was far more than she appeared. Cassian felt his own strength drain away, as if it were bleeding out of him. If she took away her arm, he wouldn’t be able to walk on his own. So he clung to her, let her carry him as far as they could go. Above them loomed the enormous form of the Death Star. There would be no rebel ship to save them. Bodhi wasn’t coming with the shuttle to bring them home. They had no one anymore except each other. They passed the bodies of rebel soldiers, friends alive just a few hours ago, their blood mingling with the blood of the stormtroopers. Jyn was beginning to falter, and she stumbled on the uneven sand before regaining her balance. They made it to the edge of the water before his legs gave way and they both fell to the ground. This is where he would die. But he had expected this; he had accrued too many sins in his wicked life to have deserved a death without violence. He looked at her sadly. You should have lived, he thought. I have done things…I have my sins to pay. But not you. Jyn knelt before him and raised her head, meeting his eyes. There were no promises to make, no point in wondering what might have been between them. There was no tomorrow for them. All they had was this moment, and time was winding down quickly. All of their future was now. This moment was eternity. She grasped his hand and he squeezed her hand gently. He felt such gratitude that he would not be alone when the end came. What could he give her in return? What would she want, in this last of moments, with this last of breaths? “Your father would have been proud of you,” he said softly. Her eyes glistened with unshed tears. They leaned into an embrace, and Cassian buried his head against her, resting his forehead against the softness of her neck. She pulled him closer to her, trembling, and pressed against him. Her fingers dug into his back, pulling at the thin fabric of his shirt, and he tightened his embrace, letting her gain strength from him. He closed his eyes. A blinding light seared across the sky and the ground shook. Cassian breathed in and breathed out. He pulled her as tightly as he could, their bodies pressed together as they awaited the inevitable. Chirrut’s words came to him. We are one with the Force and the Force is with us. The explosion covered the face of the water and rose skyward. We are one with the Force The blast roared toward them and enveloped them. We are one Then their flesh turned to cinder, the bones turned to ash, and the ash blew away, that much more stardust in the galaxy.