After the fall of Starkiller Base, it's a month before Finn opens his eyes. A lot has happened, and yet, it's all very much the same. The First Order still wakes up every morning with a desire for order and submission, and the Resistance tries, oh how it tries, to win the war, one battle at a time.
"You're getting stronger."
Finn looks at his feet and considers how hard each step is. "If you say so."
There's an arm around him now, warm and familiar and all he wants. Poe's face is next to his and there's soothing words coming out of his perfect mouth. Finn considers how hard each of these little pep talks are.
He longs to be able to walk. That way he can walk right up, toe to toe with this hotshot pilot, and find his courage.
Rey is some kind of royalty now.
He's seen submission and reverence. He's witnessed it since birth, and performed it since he was able to bow his head. But this is something different.
She's a Skywalker, full blooded and fierce with it.
She's a Jedi, filled with a power beyond his comprehension and she shines with it.
She's his friend, and because of knowing her, he's learned what reverence really is.
Finn's not confused when it comes to Rey Skywalker. He's in love with her and always will be.
There's a place for him in the Resistance, and he can barely believe it. The General has visited him, twice, and given him a smile he feels she rarely bestows (he's right).
"You're a good man, Finn," she had said, her voice a rasp. "I need good men to fight for us all."
Fealty is something that was written, rewritten, and rewritten again in his mind; shaping his limbs and his actions. Fueling his muscles and forcing his thoughts in a singular direction.
But here fealty is something that is earned.
Poe visits him in the infirmary, often at night when Finn is the loneliest, and sometimes Poe's presence just makes it worse. Still, what else is he to do but listen to war stories, and jokes from the mess hall, and promises to take him flying across the galaxy. What else is he to do but smile as Poe smiles and feel like this is the first time he's felt at home.
He takes a step and nothing hurts, thank all the gods. He feels weak but Rey is there to steady him, offer soothing words and a grin.
"I can do this, I can do this," he whispers and she echoes it. Finn feels warm all over, surprised by joy.
He never thought being able to walk on two feet would feel like the best thing in the whole galaxy. He feels like he could take on the entire First Order himself.
Getting on his knees is a different story, but he ignores the pain.
Poe makes a noise that surprises them both.
"Sorry, sorry." Poe's voice is hoarse. "I just--"
Finn's new to taking a man's dick in his mouth, but it seems like a simple enough process. What he learns is that, like most things, he catches on pretty quickly.
"You learn that at Stormtrooper school?" Poe teases after it's over.
Finn touches Poe's face, hesitating because this may be out of line. There's a twist of doubt in his chest and it runs like cold water in his veins. But he can smile – so he smiles, steps away.
"Nah," he says, his hands moving to his side.
Poe moves as if instinctively forward, like a sunflower to the sun. "You were going to kiss me, weren't you? Finn, you were going to kiss me."
This is the guy who, on his knees and helpless, taunted Kylo Ren. This is the guy who is actually a Big Deal in the Resistance. He's the General's favorite. He's first in the front line facing the jaws of death. Finn's legs shake.
"Yes," he says pretending to have courage. "Yes, I am."
Poe smiles, and it lights up the whole room.
Finn works intelligence duty for a few hours a day – detailing his knowledge of the First Order and voraciously reading what they already have on file. "You'd make an excellent spy," the Grand Admiral tells him in passing, his great eyes fixed on Finn's blushing face. "If you have the stomach for it."
The thought of being alone in a First Order facility shakes him to the core still; and he wants, oh he wants, to flee when he thinks of it. You can make a good life in the Outer Rim, far, far away from the war.
But there's reasons to stay now. At least two good ones.
There's training and then there's training with Rey. She was a badass before, but now she's something otherworldly. She knocks him down again, her laughter like bells. "You're gonna take that? Come get me," she says wiggling her fingers towards him.
He loves her still, completely. She's everything a good person should be.
Finn strengthens his stance and raises his eyebrow. "You're going down, Skywalker."
(She knocks him down.)
The most precious time of the day is when Poe's near him, even from across the room. More often than not, they share a room, and Finn hears crude gossip that Poe's stopped bed hopping since Starkiller. That's enough to make his heart stutter in his chest.
Sometimes, they get right to business; and it's good, it's so good.
Sometimes, they're distracted by kisses – especially when Poe's been gone days on a mission. "Come here, Classified," Finn whispers. Poe kisses like he flies, aggressively and with his whole heart in it. It's all Finn can do but surrender, surrender, surrender.
"I'm going to teach you interrogation." The General's eyes are almost dead as she says it. Not much is left to the imagination – she's a woman who knows the art. "There's nothing we can do about my--," she pauses. "My son and how he goes about the business. But there's things you can learn."
Finn nods. "I wish to be useful to you."
She looks at him, hard like he always imagined Phasma's stare. "You will be."
He's learning about Skywalkers, and how terrifying they can be.
Kylo Ren has been sighted near Corellia on a new base for the Order. The General sends them in – Poe to fly, Finn to infiltrate, Rey to fight. Each are briefed separately then together. Finn tries not to think too much about what is making Rey's face white as a sheet.
The ever familiar armor feels like a prison as he carefully, methodically puts it back on. Gleaming white and black as death underneath. With a blaster in his hands, he's a Stormtrooper once again.
He looks at his friends and that's when his courage returns.
Finn sits in the enemy's control room, trying to detach from his anxious thoughts as he downloads information into a disc for the Resistance. Panic loves to pool in his stomach and lash out at every inopportune moment. He's gotten better at conquering it, but it's a long journey to peace. Especially considering how much trouble he gets into.
"What's your ETA," Poe voices in his comlink.
There isn't a good answer, and the light of blaster fire and a lightsaber clashing remain in his peripheral vision. Rey is fighting as long as she can until he's finished with his mission.
He breathes in, breathes most of the panic out. "Two minutes," he says.
"And we can do this, we can do this," Rey chants.
Despite it all, the three of them smile.
A slick silver gleam meets them at the ship and Poe's taken a bullet in the leg already.
"You." The word escapes Finn's lips before he can stop it.
Phasma tilts her head to the side and there is a low, almost lovely chuckle that she makes. "I'm taking you in for good, FN 2187." Her arm is tight around Poe's neck, holding him there and holding him upright.
"Come get me," he says, aiming his weapon.
After he fires, he realizes he has forgotten to panic. Phasma falls, wounded in the shoulder. Poe stumbles but doesn't fall. He's pale but alive and almost giddy. It's all Finn can do to not kiss him right then and there.
A prisoner, a wounded hero, an anxious Jedi, and a spy in training return to the base.
"He wasn't ever there. It was a test," Finn tells the General. "Testing Rey's abilities." When she narrows her eyes, he says: "It's what I would do."
Rey crosses her arms.
"The good news is that this information is legit." He puts the disc down and puts his hands together. "I need a R2 unit. We have work to do."
"I wanted him to be there," Rey tells him later. "I wanted him."
"I know," he says.
He's learning about Skywalkers, and how terrifying they can be.
Sex after a life threatening situation is something else, or so Finn learns. Adrenaline mixed with desire mixed with his steady supply of panic makes for a delicious, overwhelming feeling; quite the chemical high.
Poe breathes hard into his ear, pausing for air and a rest, but Finn wants more, wants to just live inside Poe's skin, wants to possess him utterly.
"If you're like this after every mission, I'm going to—" Poe starts but Finn shuts him up with another sloppy kiss, rough and deep.
"You're going to what," Finn says. "What? What are you going to do?"
Poe looks helpless, his limbs askew and his skin shining with sweat. "I'm gonna love you," he says finally.
Finn blinks. "Oh. You're gonna do that."
"Gonna do that," Poe echoes and reaches for him. His kisses turn gentle and sweet, and they seem to last a lifetime.
Even with what Finn knows, with what he finds out, Phasma doesn't crack. (Fealty is something that was written, rewritten, and rewritten again in her mind.)
Things Finn didn't know till he was brought into the interrogation room:
- Phasma's face was like a statue, glorious and fierce
- Her blonde hair was in curls, brushed and neat and surprisingly long
- She still looks like she could destroy him even in grey prisoner of war linens
Things Finn didn't know till the General was brought into the interrogation room:
- Perhaps Kylo Ren came by his skills at breaking a person's mind honestly.
"My father always worked for peace." General Leia Organa's voice rises when she speaks these words. No one in the room has any question of which father she speaks of. "And the galaxy longs for it after these generations of wars."
Rey is next to him, and her chin rises; across the room, Poe's eyes are shining. Here fealty is something that is earned.
"We will have peace in our lifetime. And we now have the key to ensure it."
Many look to Finn just for a moment – it's hard to look away from the General after all, but credit where credit's due. He remembers his training and doesn't blush, doesn't move. His gaze is fixed on the General, for she is ultimately all that matters in this moment in time.
But Rey takes his hand in hers, squeezes tight. He slowly lets out the breath he was holding, pride mingled with a very real feeling of hope.
Finn stays on the command ship, monitoring the situation with his R2 unit and listening to the various hacked First Order channels. His operatives are on the ground, they are his responsibility today.
It's hard not to focus on the Grand Admiral's orders, somewhat desperate to know how the Black Squadron and its Commander are faring.
It's hard not to focus on the First Order chatter about a lightsaber battle, bloody and fierce.
His friends are in danger, and a helpless panic threatens to overcome him. There's the tell-tale signs as what feels like dark tendrils wrapping around his heart and his shoulders and his arms, and the tingling of his skin – he's lost his nerve before, it can happen again.
(Earlier, much earlier, Phasma had put him on Jakku detail because she knew he was weak, knew she had to rid the Order of him. Stormtroopers die in battle, especially the weak ones.)
"Mr. Finn, report." The General is hoarse, hoarse from years of using that voice to make change, win hearts, and to fight.
It was the General who had wanted him, had wanted him here, on this day.
Panic leeches out of him as courage takes its place. He opens his mouth to speak with a clear voice.
After, he finds himself tangled up with them in Rey's room. A strange and quiet position but not unwanted. He lies in the middle with Rey sleeping on his shoulder, exhausted from battle and grief. Poe is sat up, with his eyes staring into the dark room and his fingers tangled in Finn's hair.
The war isn't over, and maybe the galaxy can never heal. Maybe it's too late and all for nothing.
But Finn finds Poe's free hand, takes it, and places it over his heart.
The galaxy may never be safe, but he can feel peace in this moment.