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FN-2187 was no stranger to stress release. Extra hard hold on the button to kill the Resistance Holograms, slamming of buckets and mops during a base-level sanitation run, biting one's own lip until the tongue is awash with blood.

But this is Finn, now-- Finn is definitely a stranger to acceptable stress release, but he picks up quick and runs with it; they have punching bags for the physical, soothing music for the meditative, Poe Dameron's sloe eyes for the obsessive.

He's particular to the last one on that list, just to be clear.

# # # #

There's no pain when Finn wakes up from taking a lightsabre to the back, just a woozy swoop and dip from all the meds in his IV and his first time seeing a Wookie doctor. He's fully cognisant for all of ten minutes before they put him under again, and when they let him wake up this time the entire Resistance has moved house from D'Qar to D'Way.

"You've got to be kidding me," he croaks at some pilot standing there, a short, light-skinned woman wearing long braids who looks like she wants to be anywhere else.

"It was Poe's joke, don't piss on the messenger," she says, then wrinkles her nose in reconsideration. "Or throw your bed pan at me."

The new planet is actually called Viothea XII. It's a desert with the odd oasis-type jungle, it used to be inhabited by both humanoid-ish Snakes and Bees. For whatever reason, only the Snake People are still around.

The Resistance apparently took over one of the ancient Bee cities. Two-thirds are set deep underground in a massive hiveworks of stone and high-tech lighting features and decorative fountains. No one recommends going outside unarmed because of the snakes.

Finn is well-acquainted with cabin fever and all its quiet permutations, but he's not used to people expressing it by streaking down the halls whilst declaring their genitals to be "Rebel Scum". He takes to checking both ways at hallway intersections to establish sightlines on the streakers.

Poe returns from some top-secret intel mission two weeks after Finn is awake for good. Finn finds out during the middle of his Physio because the man himself saunters in through the door still in his flight suit, covered in sweat and grease and sand, carrying a straw hat and a walking stick.

Dr. Ebhaa grumbles at Finn as the two men embrace. Poe waves off the Wookie and looks Finn up and down at arm's length.

"If you're gonna be an aristocrat, you gotta have a walking stick." He brandishes said walking stick at Finn. "See? Brass handle."

Finn is astonished. He also cannot stop smiling hard enough to make his face hurt.

"You are such an asshole, why didn't I notice this before?"

Poe grins wide and hugs Finn again, then bites him on the chin and cackles as Finn startles at the feel of teeth.

# # # #

Low-level recruit means low-level clearance means Finn doesn't get into where the action is unless someone escorts him in. That someone is mostly Poe, and on one memorable occasion, Admiral Ackbar.

"I told them how the evac works," Finn says to the back of Poe's head as he stumbles down the hallway. "And the sewage pipes, they can totally bomb the sewage lines now."

"Uh-huh," Poe answers and leads him down a sharp turn. It's not Finn's first time down these halls, but the lack of proper light lends a space ghost quality that he's not fond of. There are more than shadows in the cracks on the floor, it seems.

"Don't worry about it, you're not in trouble," Poe continues and flashes back a grin at him. In the dim his eyes glitter. Finn assumes that Poe's eyes would out-glitter direct contrast of a sun, but he keeps his opinions to himself.

"I'm following you, of course I'm in trouble." Except that opinion. That one he'll share.

Poe's laugh is easy come and long-staying, so when they stagger through the open double-doors to the command room proper he's still wheezing through a guffaw.

Connix side-eyes them from behind her transmission terminal. "Are you drunk?"

"I'm with my man Finn, here," Poe says and slings an arm around Finn's neck, shakes him a little. "What do you think?"

General Organa gently places her holopad onto the round table in the centre of the room and raises one eyebrow at the both of them. "High on life, are you?"

Poe starts laughing again, and Finn bites his lip hard enough for the gnaw-wounds inside his mouth to reopen. He's still not used to a relaxed Command structure, though he wants to be.

Connix snaps her gum and turns away with a muttered, "Force, please make them stop."

"We ruptured the sewage pipes under the command offices," Leia says, gestures at a lit-up display showing the blueprint of Oplonoe's First Order command, covered in little red exclamation marks. There's an interrobang over Admiral Magni's office.

"Did any of the officers die?" Finn asks. His anxiousness was bred into him, and logic tells it to get the hell out. "I mean, drowned in sewage..."

Poe squeezes Finn's neck still wrapped up in the crook of his arm. "Yep. Like, three of them."

Leia's expression is stoic, but her eyes are creased in the corners. "It was a good day."

She flicks something on her datapad and the display changes to a different blueprint, the one devoid of punctuation. "Tell us where to hit here, please."

The title in the lower right corner say this is the Glorix Compound. Finn tenses his shoulders, Poe squeezes his neck automatically in response.

"Uh, that's one of Colonel Baldur's rush jobs?" At Leia's quirked eyebrow, he clears his throat and points to the bearing walls near the armoury. "FN-3303 heard from DI-2217 during a kitchen work run that Phasma told the Division Leads that General Hux refuses to provide personnel to any of the Colonel's commands because he pays for bad work that will fall down on his head someday. And that any lost Troopers would be a wasted resource he's not willing to provide."

"He said all that, huh?" Leia says. It's not a question, so Finn doesn't answer.

"The First Order doesn't have building codes, who knew?" Poe chortles.

"If you hit the bearing walls here," he indicates the armoury again, "and here," then points at the outside wall that borders the command centre where they probably had to build last so they could move the oversized equipment into the room before finishing construction, "then the roof should fall in."

Leia nods to Connix, who is tapping furiously at her datapad. Then she flicks her own pad and a different set of prints come up on the display.

"Noted, thank you. How about this one?"

It's 2300 in a 2700 day when Leia thanks and dismisses them both. Poe guides Finn out of the High Clearance area with a hand on his shoulder, grins wide and leans close.

"And here you thought you'd get kicked out by day three," he says.

Finn shrugs. "I've already paid up on that bet, you can't make me pay again."

They pass a janitorial droid sopping up a puddle under an atmospheric vent. It buzzes in irritation at them, so they walk faster.

"Hey, no," Poe laughs. "I'm not getting more out of you, I'm just gloating."

Finn rolls his eyes. "Yeah, figured that out."

The Commanders of each Squadron get single rooms in their own isolated hallway off the main pilot's dorms. Poe's room is at the far end, close to an escape hatch made for bee people and maybe droids with flight capability.

Poe stops in front of his closed door and swipes his hand over the biometric scanner. Finn keeps walking but Poe snags the collar of his jacket.

"Really? Really now?"

Finn grins, doesn't fight being shoved through the door into the room.

"Nothing in the rulebook says you can't work for it."

The door slides shut with a rusty thud and Poe kisses Finn hard and wet, growls against him and drags his hands down Finn's body to fit his thumbs where the waistband of Finn's trousers wrap around his belly; the thin material of Finn's shirt is no match for the gesture. "Consider me clocking in for the day?" he breathes against Finn's mouth.

Finn shuffles little half-steps back in the direction of Poe's bed, leads the pilot along, both of them drunk on endorphins and horniness and exhaustion that makes Finn's skin hurt.

"Yeah. Yeah okay," he laughs, breathes in sharp.

# # # #

He snaps awake when Poe's alarm sounds. They're so far underground that no sun can wake them, they have to rely on artificial light timers and the odd programmed clock.

"Go back to sleep, are you nuts?" Poe grumbles, face down on the pillow.

Finn shoves himself to his feet and avoids Poe's grasping hand. "I gotta get back to the barracks, come on."

Poe's words are always slurred this early in the morning, his argument unoriginal and overused. "You can use my 'fresher in here, go back to sleep."

"They notice if I'm gone too much, let me up." Finn struggles and is ultimately victorious; he escapes the trap of the bedclothes and lunges out of the bed before Poe can drag him back down.

Poe lifts his head from the pillow and squints up at him with epic bedhead.

"You're covered in jizz," he gestures at Finn's midsection. "You're just. You're covered everywhere."

He looks down. Dried and crunchy streaks of the stuff is smeared all over his stomach. Then he peers at what he can see of Poe's chest, his chin, and sees that he's no better off.

Finn sighs. "And whose fault is this?"

Poe pretends to think about it, then brightens. "Mine?"

"I'm using all of your water ration," he says and stumbles away from the bed and from Poe towards the en suite fresher.

Poe yawns and sprawls out in the freed up space, which Finn does not turn to stare at, nope nope nope. "That's fine, all I have to do is sit in a cockpit all day, no one's gonna know I'm filthy under my flight suit."

Finn cracks his hip against the sink counter and Poe snickers.

His time in the 'fresher is ten minutes in and out; he does not use up the ration despite his threat, and leaves Poe snoring on the bed to hoof it down the halls back to his assigned barracks.

The unit is already starting to stir. They see him hurry in and either roll their eyes or avert their gaze. Either way, Finn knows he's not endearing himself to his cohorts in this soldiering business, but he doesn't really know what to do about it. He could stay away from Poe, but. But he really doesn't want to do that.

He shoves around in his locker for clothes and finds that his shirts aren't folded First Order Regulation. He rummages deeper and sees that his trousers are mussed out of regulation also. His mind blanks a bit, the skin at the back of his neck cools. So things are out of place, here. He stares a bit, counts the shirts and the pants and the little treasures he's accumulated in the last four months.

Everything is still there. It's just. It's just out of place. Unfolded. Messed with.

He selects a new uniform to replace the generic clothing he filched from Poe's closet as if in a dream and stumbles into the locker room to change.

The question here is: Is he getting paranoid, or is he just sleep deprived?

Either option is unacceptable so get it together, Soldier.

# # # #

Finn is on the fast track for promotion because he's already got experience. Anyone who enters the Resistance receives the same treatment, so technically no one can object, but Finn sees the hesitation in following his orders, the slowness in accepting his decisions as the correct method to carrying out the training simulator.

It would be easier if he heard whispers as he walks down the halls, like traitor or preferential treatment or something. Instead the only whisper he hears is two days after his promotion to Staff Sargent of Marine Squadron Puce is cabbage spirals, which makes him duck his head and try to get away from people as much as possible. He can't help it that he spat the stuff out, it was horrible, and he's pretty sure Poe doctored the food with vinegar beforehand anyway.

His day goes something like: Train on strategy, train on simulations, train on manoeuvres, train on first-aid-- by now his back aches from the sense memory of bacta smell, it never fails-- then eat a bite and start reading texts Poe downloaded from the mainframe for him. After dinner he sees Poe somewhere. In Poe's room. In the hanger. Under Admiral Ackbar's desk.

He fits helping the Rebellion with Intel on the First Order somewhere in there. He makes sure his existence is super helpful, and he succeeds in that goal, really he does.

It doesn't stand to reason that after all this time he'd develop paranoia. They're not gonna kick him out. The General has said so multiple times, Poe nodding his head in agreement as he stands behind her. They're not gonna put him out as cannon fodder because they don't do that to anyone, and they sure as kriff don't mess with people's private items because it's wrong.

The worry about the locker niggles at the back of his mind anyway, because Finn is a lost cause and he knows it, he's just waiting to see what the General comes up with when she realises it. And maybe the General doesn't know about where he keeps his stuff, maybe she doesn't care, but if someone is snooping-- hypothetically, at least-- then they're most like looking for evidence of traitorous activity of extreme malevolence and pain.

Poe protects him. Poe will always protect him. But sometimes Poe isn't around, and that's when Finn's sure the other boot will drop right onto his head.

# # # #

What he decides to do after an entire day of dwelling is to take anything he's sentimental about out of his locker and hide it in Poe's room. If he dies suddenly Poe is on the paperwork to be the one to disperse with his effects anyway so it's a practical solution.

Poe's still in the hanger, training pilots or pestering BB-8 or whatever it is he does when he's not being a hotshot flyboy, so Finn gets to let himself into the Commander's single, breathes in deep the scent of sex and oil and something moulding somewhere, and then flops backwards onto Poe's bed, arms still laden with stuff that has significance only to him.

He closes his eyes and falls asleep, because of course he does. When he blinks awake a shirtless Poe is there, covered in engine oil like he showered in the stuff and peering at the errata littered across Finn's body.

Poe scratches at the stubble on his chin. He hasn't shaved for two days so it's basically an array of blue-black metallic knives sticking out of his face; Finn plans to smooth his fingers along the rough hair as soon as he has the opportunity.

"So hey, you gonna tell me why you've got--" Poe tilts his head, then feebly waves at Finn's personal treasures as he moves to perch on the edge of the bed. "Why you've got empty choco-stick boxes all over you?"

Finn tries to gather them up onto his chest, but a couple slide off and hit the ground anyway. "I use them as organisers."

"Uh-huh." Poe leans down and picks one up, inspects the cardboard edges carefully. "Organisers for what?"

Finn swallows. Coughs. Tries to squirm into a sitting position but Poe is leaning against his thighs and he can't get the leverage. "Uh, things."

Poe puts the choco-sticks box on the bed next to him, then leans down to grope for the other one. "Things?"

"Yeah, things. Look," Finn coughs, nervous, "Can I hide them here?"

Poe holds the second box loosely in one hand. He taps his thumb on the lid where Finn carefully folded the flaps to keep it closed, makes the memory sticks he keeps in that one shift about inside.

"Sure, sure," Poe says, bites his lip. "You can keep your snack-wrapped things here, of course."

He drops the box between Finn and the wall, then drapes his upper body across Finn's knees. He reaches up and places his hand over Finn's bicep, comforting gesture that it is.

"So, you still got your locker, though, right? It's not.. Gone?"

Finn is alarmed.

"Do the lockers go away?"

Poe shakes his head and holds up a hand.

"Okay, new approach here, keep with me: Are you being hazed?"

Finn shifts a little. "What? No."

Poe stares at him, scratches at his cheek slowly. Finn wants to reach out and touch, but he doesn't.

Finally, "Yeah, okay. Leave whatever you want here, you know I'm fine with it."

Tension Finn didn't realise he had in his shoulders drains away. He tries to smile but it feels wobbly.

"And no more questions?"

"Me? I don't ask questions. I'm the least inquisitive person I know!"

Finn gives in and touches Poe's cheek. The stubble is just as sharp has he imagined it to be.

"It's something I got to take care of, okay. Don't worry about it."

Poe swallows, turns his face to kiss Finn's palm, the inside of his wrist.

"Sure thing, buddy." He smiles against Finn's skin. "Whatever you need."

# # # #

Finn doesn't let himself fall asleep and returns to his barracks just after lights out. He creeps out of Poe's room like a guilty thief who has just guiltily thieved.. Something. He doesn't know what he's supposedly stolen. But leaving a rumpled naked man in bed doesn't settle well down deep in his gut, not even when he checks his locker and finds it just as he left it.

If anything, it's made the stone-in-bile feeling much worse. It's just how cold the sheets are, he tells himself. Of course he prefers Poe's sleep-noises to the sleep-noises of his unit.

When the barracks wake-up call sounds, he gets entirely too many double-takes. Cadet Spitz from two beds down actually says "whoa, you're here" when he sees him. Cadet George bumps into him from behind and knocks him into the door leading out to the 'freshers and apologises profusely, says "I didn't see you there, sir!"

All these people are being dramatic, that's all.

# # # #

Intel sessions with the General generally go like:
+ She asks him about how he's settling, he says "Fine."
+ Then she asks "are you sure you're fine?" and he says "Sure I'm sure."
+ He tries to ask what sort of information she wants and she cuts him off with a slash of her hand or a quirk of an eyebrow and offers him some tea instead.

Eventually they get around to nitpicky questions about First Order Indoctrination, or First Order Battle Tactics, or First Order Propaganda. He doesn't know what to think about the woman, her strategy, or why she's bothering with him when one of her assistants could get the information, but he's not about to ask.

"Commander Dameron says you might be being hazed by your unit," is what General Organa opens today with, right before he can even sit down.

He slumps into the hard-backed chair and only just resists covering his face with his hands. "I told him I'm not!"

She does that suspicious-mother-eyebrow thing and pours him a cuppa, gently nudges it at him until he reaches out to take it. "Normally I'd tell him he's being overprotective again, but other factors tell me to listen this time."

Finn sips at his tea. Luke-warm Sullust bean juice, lovely.

"You don't have to listen, I told him I'm taking care of it."

The General leans back in her chair and hums like she doesn't believe him but isn't going to outright call him on it. He backtracks and--

"Wait, again?"

"The usual chatter has been going on since you hit base unconscious and unresponsive," Leia says, matter of fact. "You've proved your trustworthiness to me ten times over, so I disregard it unless it escalates to the point of needing intervention."

Finn almost has a panic attack right there in her office. He knows its a panic attack because his therapist told him it was. His therapist also told him to put his head between his knees until the shortened breath and the blurred vision goes away, so he does that.

He hears the General tap her nails on the desktop. "So how's therapy?"

"Dr. Ebhaa gave me a colouring book." He blows out a breath, blinks a lot. "It has flowers in it."

"And have you filled it in?"

Finn shakes his head. It makes his visions swim even worse, so he stops. "Absolutely not."

Leia snorts. "She's going to ask to see it at some point, you know that right?"

"Poe has it, he's got mad crayon skills." He sits up slowly, is relieved to see that he's not lightheaded anymore.

"You know if there's an issue that you don't have to take care of things yourself, right?"

Finn grabs his cup of tea off the table and tries to hind behind it. "We were having a nice conversation here, why can't we keep on with that?"

"Poe's worried."

"You just said he's overworried," he points out.

Leia leans back in her chair. "Overprotective, and only because he can't shield you from the world even with the best of intentions, it's not healthy for your relationship."

Finn chokes on his tea. "Relationship? What relationship?"

"I don't treat you like you're stupid, so if you'll do the same courtesy to me, kid..."

"Right, sorry. Very sorry. So, so sorry."

Leia sighs. "Okay, so what can you tell me about their vehicle maintenance?"

Finn leaves Leia's office feeling like his brain has been pulled out of an eye socket and lobbed against the wall a few times before being crammed back into his cranium.

He staggers to the mess as quickly as he can, gets in the short line, scopes out the room; he can see Poe and his squad against the far wall eating their own dinners, so he forces his shoulders to relax as he loads his tray. The low murmuring of conversation make his skin prickle in alarm, but he's sure the people on that table over there are whispering because of something illegal, not because of something he's done, so he tells himself to calm down and take his food quietly.

There's an empty space next to Poe, so he doesn't second-guess like he usually would, just stomps over.

His tray hits the table heavily because he throws it down. Poe startles, spills caf down his worn long-sleeved shirt, curses.

Finn is entirely unsympathetic and sits down on the bench, avoids Testor's curious look, Wexley's ill-hidden snickers. Kare placidly watches him like a child watching an entrancing holovid.

"So I had a very enlightening conversation with the General today," he says. Poe freezes mid-napkin swipe down his front and carefully doesn't look at him. Finn sips at his own fresh and very hot caf for a moment, then continues, "Would you like to know what I conversed with the Resistance Leader about?"

"Safe sex?" Testor offers at the same time Wexley says, "Single-room decorating tips for the young couple in love?"

Poe's mouth gets stubborn and he finally looks Finn in the eye. "It's bullying, and no, you can't take care of it yourself."

"Oh yeah?" Finn growls. "Watch me!"

He crams food in his mouth and turns away from Poe. Poe grumbles and smacks and elbow into Finn's side as he resumes blotting at his shirt with the wadded up napkin. The pilots all snicker at them.

Testor taps her fingers on the table, smiles sweetly at the both of them. "First lover's spat?"

"Jessika, I swear on the Force if you don't kriffing stop."

A Squamamatan named Suralinda approaches the table and shoves Poe over like he's nothing. He jostles into Finn as he moves, and Finn triumphantly doesn't slop his caf anywhere but onto his tray.

Suralinda is tall, slender, has pointed ears and sharp teeth. She also was in the Republic Navy with Poe back in the day, so why she works in the Mess cleaning up after the chefs is beyond Finn.

She brandishes a rolled up folio at Poe and makes him take it before she steals the remainder of his Tato Mash for herself. "Proof it so I can send to Organa," she tells him as she scarfs the food.

Poe quirks his eyebrows and unfurls the folio. "I'm honoured to be your editor, Sura."

Wexley asks, "Hey, I don't get a preview too?" and Kare smacks him in the shoulder.

"There's a bit about Stormtrooper training grounds too." She points at Finn, who gapes at her mid-chew. "You get to proof that one."

"I'm not, really a qualified--" Finn starts to stammer.

Suralinda points at him with one hand and continues to cram food into her mouth with the other.

"I will spit acid in your hair if you don't," she growls after swallowing one particularly large bite. "I don't care if Poe likes you."

Poe nudges Finn with his elbow and smirks.

"She won't, I'll protect you," he whispers.

Sometimes it's really hard to stay mad at Poe, and now is one of those times. Finn tries to sulk, stay arrogant in the face of danger, but Suralinda licks her lips with that long lizard tongue of hers and Poe steals his caf from unresisting fingers, so he gives it up for the day.

# # # #

There are more double-takes and clumsy bumping when he wakes up for the 0400 hours Base Attack drill. He gives his unit of ten cadets and two Staff Lieutenants their orders for securing the North main hangar entrance, then ignores the hell out of the blank stares he gets in return before they sluggishly move to comply.

The General's right, he needs to fix this. If it was a true combat situation they could die for not trusting him. It's one of those Catch-Numbers, unfortunately: he involves any higher-ups, he'll lose face on the base as a low-level commander in his own right; he lets it sit, he appears incompetent and solidifies the negative view his unit has of him; he comes in and busts balls, tears at hair, and he's set himself up for a cycle of abuse that the mere thought of causes bile to rise in his throat.

On the way to the hangar they have to pass the wide open enclosure of the maintenance fields. Skeleton staff mill around the disabled X-Wings and A-Wings, poking at bits of machinery and act for the most part very sedate for a group of people being subjected to a wailing siren.

His squad sets up shop in the hanger to wait out the exercise and oh, Poe and Kare Kun are working on their X-Wings, ignoring the hell out of the wailing sirens and arguing. Finn checks that everyone is in place before he sidles to the side so he can eavesdrop because A) he is a horrible person and B) he is a horribly nosey person.

Poe is laying on one of those wheelie things that let him work on the underbelly of the lowered X-Wing engine. Kare Kun stands next to it with a datapad in hand, hardly paying attention to it.

"--but then again, I used to like you," she says.

Poe's grip on his wrench slips. "Like me as in--"

She kicks Poe's ankle. "Like you as in a friend, shut up."

Poe kicks wildly back at her.

"Where is this going, here?"

"I used to like you because you thought for yourself."

He uses his feet to manoeuvre himself out from under the engine block. Finn can see the frown on his face even from his distance.

"Hey, now," Poe says.

Kare shakes her head. "Don't worry, I'm getting used to the new you."

Poe looks offended. "There is no "new" me."

"Did Finn tell you she liked that shirt?" Kare points at the beige shirt that Poe wears, a little tighter than his usual wardrobe but still loose enough to look casual.

Finn did in fact imply that he liked that shirt a few weeks ago, but Poe obviously isn't about to admit it because he shakes his head.

"No. I like this shirt."

"You sure about that?"

Poe chucks the wrench into the nearby toolbox and glares up at her. "Come on, what are you talking about?"

BB-8 rolls out from somewhere and squeaks at them as it passes. It crunches Poe's ankle as it zooms along, making him shout.

"That is a lie!"

Kare waves her datapad at BB-8's retreat. "We're all getting used to him, leave him alone."

BB-8 ignores everyone, comes to a stop in front of Finn. It makes some beeps that Finn can't translate, but the so-called emotion is easily identifiable-- it thinks everyone is an idiot, Finn included.

Finn jerks his head up at Kare's laugh to see her shaking her head and walking away, to see Poe sitting up on his wheelie rig staring at him blankly.

He waves a little, weak and with no defence, then curses when BB-8 decides to slam into his shins.

# # # #

It's the third week in a five week month, so Poe has night-manoeuvres to run through. Finn sleeps in his barracks because there's no reason not to if Poe isn't there. No, really. There isn't.

There's an overhead glow from the tracklighting in the room that never turns off, so he thumbs through the datapad full of paperwork he was given after being relieved for the day; it lists all his options and what additional training he needs to go through to qualify for an official position out of Boot, and it's all so overwhelming he wants to run away screaming.

At least he scored too low on reflexes so he can't be a pilot, and he's really relieved by that, even though he knows Poe will be disappointed.

Someone in the room coughs and rolls over on their bunk. Finn tenses, then closes his eyes and grits his teeth and tells himself to get over it. He's survived worse, he can survive this, and then he'll belong here and no one will be able to say otherwise.

All he has to do is survive.

# # # #

When it all comes to a head, all Finn feels is relief. His back is hurting again, and he's singed all over, but relief is definitely what he's feeling here.

His unit is shouting up at the top of the cliff. He can't pick out what they're saying because his pulse is pounding in his ears and he's really focused on climbing back up this sheer rockface instead of finding out who is angry that he was pushed and who is angry that he didn't die. But it sounds like everyone is angry, so clearly everyone has an opinion.

There are enough handholds to get back to the top. His gloves make his hands too clunky, so he uses his teeth to pull them off one at a time and let them drop to the ravine floor below. Then he braces himself, swallows a couple times with a dry mouth, and begins to climb.

Five of his unit are there to help pull him back up as soon as he's close enough. He wheezes on the ground while the yelling continues, and Nan Hatoh the Bothan Lieutenant on his way to a cushy Intelligence job hands him a bottle of water.

"Thanks," Finn rasps, then drains the entire bottle in one go.

"--he's probably telling them where we are right now--" Cadet Spitz is screaming and waving his hands around. No one talks over him, but a couple other Cadets stand between Finn and him so maybe he's not going to get pitched back over the side.

"I might not respect your background, but I respect your luck," says Nan Hatoh, then she stands and walks away.

Finn drops his head to the ground to feel the cool dirt against his flushed skin.

"Well okay then."

He gets to his hands and knees, then with concentrated effort gets to his feet. His legs are shaking from the adrenaline. He needs a hot shower and an uninterrupted night cycle in Poe's bed, after this.

"No, you stay down!" Spitz shouts and runs at him.

Finn's training chooses to kick in. He shifts his body weight to the side, drops a shoulder, meets Spitz straight on by leaning in and then lifting with his knees. Spitz bounces off him like a bug against a zapper, and Finn kicks him in the hip to roll him onto his front, then puts a boot on the back of the man's head.

A series of clicks happen all around him. He doesn't bother looking up to see who is aiming their gun at him and who aren't. He just puts a minute amount of his body weight into his step and lets up only when Spitz begins to whine, claw at the dirt.

An X-Wing swoops down and flies over them low enough to make the taller members of the unit fall to the ground in a panic. Finn takes a step back, watches the ship head for base with thrusters burning and the glint of orange from the astromech seat shining in the sun.

His kit is at the bottom of the ravine, and he has no intention of going down there to get it. He grabs his helmet, still over by the rock he took it off at, and starts down the path leading from their surveillance outpost.

"Yeah, walk away to your bodyguard!" Spitz yells after him, then coughs horribly.

Finn doesn't respond, because they'll shoot him or they won't, but either way he's done.

# # # #

Leia doesn't pour tea for him in her office this time. This time she fills a glass half-way with Elosian whiskey and shoves it into his hands before pouring herself a more moderate amount in a separate, much smaller glass. "We've gone over this."

He tentatively sips at the purple liquid, then takes two long pulls to drain it. Leia doesn't chastise him for not drinking it properly, though she does quirk an eyebrow as he coughs up a lung from the burn.

"I'm not trusted," he wheezes, eyes watering. "You can't trust me out in the field if my team won't trust me."

Poe is raging outside but isn't allowed into the office. Finn can hear him yelling anyway, and he's torn between indignation that he can't take care of himself-- and apparently, he can't, because he thought he was dealing and all he managed to do was ignore it until it exploded in his face-- and a warm fuzzy feeling in the hollow of his throat that at least Poe (and Leia, he guesses) still has his back.

"Which is why we're trying to get you promoted out of boot as fast as we can," Leia says after his stops coughing. "Our new recruits are survivors of the Hosnian system, and they're too narrow right now to see the big picture."

He places the empty glass onto the table and rubs at his face with both hands. "The only way I can get away from them is if I hide in Poe's squad, and I don't qualify for flying."

"You can use a wrench," she says, takes another sip.

"--AND ANOTHER THING--" Poe roars outside.

"And another!" Testor shouts back, somewhat a bit more distant.

"And another another!" Wexley shouts too, closer than Testor but not right outside the door like Poe is.

Finn thinks about wrenches as Poe curses them out. He thinks he hears Kare Kun laughing out there too, so they must be getting him to calm down, albeit slowly.

To Leia, he asks, "So, support?"

She shrugs with one shoulder. "Just while you do your electives, kid. You're still expected to take a leadership position someday, and you're still expected to choose for yourself. But there's no harm in sticking close to your loved ones while you get your feet under you."

"I'd firebomb their families if they weren't all dead!" Poe roars outside, which makes Testor and Wexley chorus "Oooooooooh!"

"Is Poe gonna stop yelling if I tell him?" Finn asks, faint.

Leia snorts into her glass. "My sources say that boy hasn't stopped yelling since he was born, so don't hold your breath."

# # # #

The rest of Finn's stuff doesn't amount to much, and his locker was trashed when he got out of his meeting with Leia anyway. He dumps the ruined stuff with the salvage crew-- who are disturbed and are filling out a report despite his insistence to not bother-- and hauls what is left back to Poe's room.

Poe is sitting in the middle of the floor with a screwdriver and a hammer, putting together a chest of drawers. Each drawer has a lock on the front, and Poe is messing with a long tangled mess of wires that apparently plug into a battery hidden on the bottom.

BB-8 is chortling in its charging station, but stops the mocking to give a welcoming whistle to Finn when the door slides closed behind him.

He dumps his clothes next to BB-8 and staggers the three steps needed to the bed so he can collapse onto it facedown.

A low hum of electricity permeates the silence as Poe tinkers away with his screwdriver. "So you were hiding those boxes in here because you were being harassed, huh?"

"I thought I had it handled," Finn mumbles into the pillow.

"Well at least you can admit you were wrong."

Finn sits up, rubs at his eyes.

"Horribly wrong," Poe continues. "So absolutely wonderfully wrong it's staggering to us mere mortals how wrong you were."

"Come on, man. I get it," Finn groans.

Poe laughs. "You know I thought you were trying to move in with me?"

Finn freezes, slowly drops his hands from his face. "What?"

Poe doesn't look at him as he viciously jabs the screwdriver into some slot and twists it.

"I thought you were trying to move in but didn't know how to ask. So I freaked out because I've never lived with anyone before and Kare told me I was being an ass, and Testor told me I was being a major asshole, and even Snap had an opinion on it. But I still didn't make you tell me what was going on. Because I thought you were moving in and I was being "emotionally stunted" about it."

BB-8 chirps in smug satisfaction from its charging station; they both ignore it.

Finn blinks as he takes that in. "I didn't-- I can get a reassigned room."

Poe sighs and stops jabbing at the furniture he's building.

"That's not what I'm saying."

"Then help me out. I was trying to keep the stuff you've given me safe from my own paranoia and you're saying something else? What's going on?"

Poe grimaces, shoves his free hand through his hair. "Okay, gonna try a different approach here. Hey, wanna move in with me?"

Finn stares at him. Then he stares at the stack of boxes along the wall that holds all his stuff. Then he stares at the bag of his clothes between the door and BB=8. Then he stares at Poe with his eyebrows raised.

Poe is unamused. "Play along."

He sighs. "Okay, yes, Poe. I'll move in with you."

Poe's grin could provide light for an entire solar system. "Okay, cool, because I'm making you this booby-trapped chest here and I'd hate to have to carry it somewhere else."

Finn laughs. "Is that what that is?"

Poe pats the thing fondly. "Man, after this baby is set up anyone who tries to mess with you is getting over a thousand volts shooting out their ass."

Finn grins and Poe grins and then the eighteen hundred hours bell sounds over the base-wide intercom.

# # # #

The whole of Black Squadron is out on recon and Finn is in the mess with his overladen tray of dinner. The first half of orientation for Hangar Support Crew was full of older Resistance members who were brushing up on certifications. None of them blinked at his attendance, so either someone (Poe) said something to them or they really don't care.

Either way, he'll take it. On his way to get food, Connix had hailed him in the hall and offered him a datapad loaded with literature on electronics specific to astromech and droids. If he wasn't so in-control of himself he would've given in to his impulse to hug her.

Suralinda thumps down into the seat next to him. He jerks away from the BB-Unit schema he was reading and blinks at her.

She drops a sheet of paper covered in her loopy scrawl on top of his plate of noodles, steals his Bruised Tosopara on the retreat, all without a word. Two tables over are a group of Newbies in the Boot class behind Finn's and they are openly staring at her breasts; she takes a messy bite of the fleshy red fruit and narrows her eyes at them as she chews.

"Uh, hi," Finn says. He looks at the rough draft of the newsletter covering his dinner, picks out the headline Hazing Ring Uncovered in Boot Camp: What is Being Done About It and How You Can Help.

She huffs and takes his other Tosopara instead. "Tell me if it's inaccurate, okay?"

"Does everyone really need to know about it though?" He pops the top off his pudding and digs his spoon into the spongey goodness. "And this looks like you're going to tell them how to help with the hazing, not help stop it."

Suralinda gives him an imperious look that reminds him of Phasma the few times he saw her without her helmet on. This is not a woman to be crossed. He always knew that, but without Poe here to act as a buffer, he's fully realising it.

"Don't you want a deterrent? Mess with someone General Organa has vouched for and you get put to the ground?"

He takes a cautious bite, keeps his eye on her as she decimates her stolen Tosopara. "Is that what the General wants?"

She chortles with her mouth full.

"I think she can't want that out of politics."

Finn scarfs the rest of his pudding before she can figure out a way to take it from him. He puts the empty cup on his tray and licks the back of his spoon. "Well, you'd know better than me."

"What, no politics in the Stormtrooper programme?"

He makes a face and drops his spit-cleaned spoon into his mug of caf to mix it. "There's no politics in absolute order and control."

Suralinda bursts out laughing, and Finn has no idea why.