For my AU prompts series on Tumblr, "parents dropping their kids off at class AU"
Jyn screeched through the left turn on yellow and hit the gas.
"Moo-oooomm," her six-year-old wailed from the back seat. "We're going to be late!"
"Yeah, yeah, I know," she said, reluctantly hitting the brakes as they passed into the school zone. Today was bad enough without a speeding ticket on top of it.
"Late on the first day of school!"
"I get it, Alex!" She screeched into the first parking spot she saw and leapt out of the car. "Come on, hup hup!" He was already scrambling out of his seatbelt, hauling his backpack along with him.
He disdained her hand and trotted on ahead. He'd been about out of his mind with excitement for the whole week, looking forward to kindergarten. She lengthened her stride and caught up with him.
"Okay," she panted. "Let's go over the rules."
"No using the s-word, the h-word, the d-word, and absolutely especially not the f-word."
Holy shit, her kid knew a lot of curse words. Maybe she should moderate her language around him. Jyn considered it and shrugged. Too late now.
"And - " she prompted.
"After today, I get on the daycare bus after school without bitching."
"B-word," she said, noticing one he'd forgotten.
"And most important?"
"No punching even if they're meanies," he said.
"Right. Use your words. Don't make them call me." She already got enough side-eyes as a single mom. The kindergarten roundup had been a nightmare of And what does your husband do? followed by … oh when she explained it was just her and Alex.
As far as she knew, there'd only been one other single parent there, and since that had been a dad, she'd been reluctant to go meet him and make all the moms go, Look at her trying to reel him in, doesn't waste any time, does she?
Which was a shame, because he hadn't been hard on the eyes, and Jyn might have sworn off dating, but she wasn't dead.
As they turned the corner toward the front office, that same dad was walking up and down the sidewalk, murmuring to the little girl who was wrapped around him like an anaconda, face buried in his shoulder, arms in a stranglehold around his neck.
Alex stopped by them and stared, apparently having forgotten his desperate urgency to get inside.
"Hey," Jyn said to the harried-looking dad. "Uh, you got a growth there."
He looked around at her and she thought, You need to staple your lips shut, Jyn Erso.
"Espi's a little nervous about school," he explained, not sounding too terribly annoyed.
Alex reached out and poked Espi's dangling foot. She twisted her head on her father's shoulder and stared down at him. "You and me have the same backpack," he said, unabashed.
They did. Blue with red dots. "Sale at Target?" Jyn asked.
The dad nodded. "I'm Cassian," he said. "This is Esperanza. Espi."
"Jyn, and this one is Alex," she said. "I think we were both at kindergarten roundup last June."
"I think we were."
Alex was still looking at Espi like she was from Mars. "Why don't you want to go to school?"
Espi buried her face in her father's shoulder again.
Alex poked her foot again, and this time she glared at him. "We're going to do painting," he informed her. "In school. And snack. And reading. And snack."
Jyn flushed. "Snack is a priority in our household."
"We're fond of it ourselves," Cassian said.
Alex went to poke Espi a third time, and Jyn grabbed his hand. "Knock it off, kid. She doesn't like it."
"Oh, okay. But we need to go. We're going to miss things. Painting!" he added, like she might not have heard him the first time.
Espi looked thoughtful.
Cassian said, "Mijita. Can we go inside at least?"
After a moment, she nodded.
They had to sign the kids in because they'd arrived after the final bell. When Jyn and Alex walked in, the school secretary looked at them like, oh what a surprise, the single mom couldn't get her act together and just said, "Sign here," as if she was sure she'd be seeing them again.
When Cassian and Espi came in, though, her whole attitude changed. "Ohhh, poor thing," she cooed at Espi, who'd finally consented to be let down but was still plastered to her father's leg. "What a big day for her!"
Apparently Alex - and Jyn - were chopped liver. Alex didn't seem to notice, Tigger-bouncing at her side in anticipation of kindergarten. "So," Jyn said loudly. "Do we just - like - go?"
The secretary spared her half a glance. "Oh, no, a staff member has to walk you down there." She turned back to Cassian and Espi. "So nice that she has her daddy here for her!" she said, ignoring the phone that had started ringing.
Cassian had the grace to look embarrassed.
"Do you want me to take a picture?" the secretary cooed, and Jyn thought, Are you serious right now, lady?
"Phone," said a voice, and the secretary flushed and reached for it.
An older woman with a cap of red hair stood in the office. "It's hard, the first day, isn't it?" she asked. Calm seemed to roll off her in waves. They'd met her at kindergarten roundup, too.
Jyn swallowed. Great. Her kid's first day and they'd already come to the principal's attention.
So quickly Jyn almost didn't catch it, Principal Mothma glanced at the sign-up sheet. "Alex and Esperanza?" she asked.
"Espi," Cassian murmured.
"Espi," she acknowledged, and said to the children, "This is a big day. I'll take you to your classroom, all right?"
Both kids nodded, Alex excitedly, Espi more cautiously.
To their parents, the principal said, "Would you like to come, or would you rather say good-bye now?"
Jyn looked at Cassian, and found him looking back at her. Almost like they'd planned it together, he said, "Now, I think."
He crouched. "Espi, are you ready?"
She scowled at him, but a thoughtful sort of scowl, not an I will hate you forever for making me do this scowl, and nodded.
He kissed her on the forehead. "You are very brave, and I love you very much, and I'll see you this afternoon."
Espi lunged and hugged him tightly around the neck.
Jyn glanced down at Alex. "All right," she said, ruffling his hair. "Take off, kiddo. They're waiting for you. Have a great day. I'll be here for you later."
Alex grabbed her around the midsection and pressed his face to her stomach.
"Hey," she said. "Hey. What's this? Aren't you all excited?"
"Uh-huh," he said, muffled.
"So," she said, running her fingers through his hair. Her throat felt thick. "Go on, kiddo. Adventure awaits!"
Alex didn't move.
Espi had let her father go and now stood by the door with her chin jutted out, looking like a doomed revolutionary on her way to the scaffold. She looked around, and without a word, she marched over to Alex, peeled one of his hands off Jyn's hip, and held it tightly. He peered at her, sighed, and let go of Jyn.
Principal Mothma looked on, kindly amused. "Unless I'm very much mistaken," she said to Cassian and Jyn, "the two of them have both made their first best friend."
"That's nice," Jyn said. "Good. Great."
The principal opened the door to the school hallway and said to the children, "Come now, you don't want to miss anything. You'll like Mr. Malbus's class. I promise."
Hanging onto each other, they went through the door. Principal Mothma followed them, and it swung shut.
Jyn hugged her elbows and told herself that this was wonderful. Her kid's first day of school. A milestone. She shouldn't want to lunge through that door and grab his hand and take him back home where he could be her baby forever. He'd probably never forgive her.
"She'll be okay," Cassian said, as if trying to convince himself.
"She'll be great," Jyn said. "They'll be great. They've got each other."
He smiled at her. "They do. Well - I suppose we can't stand around here forever."
"Nope." Jyn started for the door to the outside, holding it open for Cassian.
The secretary glared holes at Jyn. She considered flipping her off, but thought it was probably best not to alienate the front-office staff any more than she could possibly help.
They were parked across from each other in the parking lot. From the expression on his face, Cassian felt as lost as Jyn did.
She'd taken the day off, intending to get some things done around the house while Alex was in school and then go pick him up to hear all the adventures of the day. But right now, the idea of going home to an empty house hit her right in the pit of the stomach.
"What time do they get out?" Jyn asked.
Without checking anything, Cassian said, "11:15."
She looked at her phone. "Well … it's already eight thirty. Seems kind of silly to go all the way back home just to turn around and come back."
"Absolutely, it would be perfectly reasonable to sit here in the parking lot for the next two hours and forty-five minutes," Cassian said.
They traded looks, acknowledging that they were both being ridiculous.
"Uh, alternately - " Jyn said, hearing all those sneering moms in her head and telling them fuck you, " - we could go kill some time at Starbucks."
He gave her a thoughtful look. She wondered if he thought she wasn't wasting any time either. But he said, "I think I would like that."
She smiled. "The one about three blocks west?"
They both hesitated over actually getting into their cars and driving out of the school parking lot.
"They'll be fine," Cassian said.
"Oh yeah. They'll have a blast."
Jyn dug a crumpled tissue out of her pocket. "Damn sun's making my eyes water," she mumbled.
Cassian looked up at the cloudy sky and surreptitiously wiped his own damp eyes. "Mine too."