Finn wakes up and the first words out of his mouth are, “Where's Rey?” He’s frantic, trying to get up and look around, but he feels mysteriously weak and he can barely force himself into a sitting position.
“Shh,” someone says, “it's okay, it's all okay,” and Finn looks over to see Poe Dameron sitting in a chair next to his bed, huge dark circles beneath his eyes but a wide grin on his face nonetheless.
And he is in a bed, he realizes, not lying in the snow of the Starkiller Base. The air is warm and smells like disinfectant, not smoke and crackling ozone, and Poe is still grinning at him. He's safe, at least for now.
“What happened?” Finn croaks, giving up on sitting and sinking back into the soft pillows.
“We stopped the First Order,” Poe says. “You stopped the First Order. You almost stopped Kylo Ren, too, until he got a lucky hit in and landed you here.”
Finn winces, realizing why his back hurts so much, the memories starting to come back to him. “And Rey?”
“She got in a lot of lucky hits,” Poe says. “Or maybe not even lucky, maybe just good hits on her own merits. That girl can kick some ass, let me tell you.”
Finn grins reflexively. “She sure as hell can,” he agrees. “So she's okay?”
“She's doing a damn sight better than you are,” Poe confirms. “She's just not … well, here. We got the full map, eventually. She's off looking for Luke Skywalker, to try to drag him back to base and make him do his actual job. Personally, I hope she yells at him a little.”
“I don't think she's going to do that,” Finn says.
“Me neither,” Poe admits, “but I can hope.”
Finn laughs until he starts coughing, and then a medidroid realizes he's awake and basically tackles Poe in their rush to take Finn’s vitals.
“Out, Dameron,” they snap, “not the time–”
“Catch you later, Finn,” Poe calls on his way out the door, exiting with a jaunty wave. “We’ve got a lot to talk about.”
Finn tries to smile at him through the coughs, but–
“Ow!” He says, as the medidroid jabs a syringe into his elbow. “A little warning next time?”
“We need blood tests,” they say, unrepenting. “Stick out your tongue.”
Finn, sighing, complies.
Finn didn't expect walking to be this hard; he feels like he's spent his whole life running, first forward at the behest of the First Order, and recently of his own volition from them. Being exhausted from a few steps across the medbay is both new and disheartening.
“Hey, cheer up,” Poe says brightly, “you're a Resistance hero! If you can go after Rylo Ken with nothing but a primitive weapon you’d never used before, you can do this.”
Finn makes a face and stares down at his feet on the tile floor, clad only in a pair of gray cotton hospital-issue socks. “I wouldn't be so sure,” he says, and it comes out a lot more bitter and broken than he had expected it to.
“Whoa, hey,” Poe says, startled, “Finn, what's wrong?”
“I'm not good at this,” Finn says, and his voice cracks a little. “I tried to run away, did you know that? I tried to abandon everyone and run off to the Outer Rim and hide. I knew it was wrong to leave Rey and BB-8 in danger, but I was so scared and I just wanted out.”
“You didn't go, though,” Poe points out. “You were on Takodana when we got there, fighting the First Order with everything you had.”
“But,” Finn explains. “I would have left if I could.”
“You saved a lot of people,” Poe says. “Hell, you saved me, specifically, as your first ever act of Stormtrooper rebellion. You're a good person, Finn, and brave too. Hell, you were one of the first people on Starkiller Base--and you almost died there, fighting for us. Do I really need to remind you why you're in that hospital bed?”
“But everyone else was doing it because they believed in the Resistance,” Finn says. “I just wanted to save my friend.”
Poe sighs. “Look,” he says, “I'm not in the habit of overthinking things. I go with my instincts. But here's what I think about this: I think that intent doesn't matter half as much as actions. I don't care that you only broke me out to save your own skin--you still saved my life; you still took an enormous risk to help someone you didn't even know. It doesn't mean anything that you were scared the whole time, what's important is that you put your life on the line for your friends and for your principles.”
“But I almost didn't!”
“But you did,” Poe corrects, “and that's what's going to be remembered.”
Finn looks at him, eyes wide and confused, and Poe sighs. “Kid,” he says, “you need another goddamn hug.”
“Wh-” Finn tries to protest, but before he can get out a single word Poe’s arms are wrapped around him and without realizing, his own arms come up to grip the back of Poe’s jacket, his face buried in the other man’s shoulder.
He can't help but notice how warm Poe is, and how good he smells, like soap and sea air and the barest hint of fuel and oil in the cotton of his shirt. He smells like the jacket Finn stole before, the jacket he wore the whole time he was trying to figure out who he really was, the jacket that's currently folded up on the chair next to his cot in the base medbay. He smells like home, or at least like what Finn imagines home would smell like if he’d ever been allowed to have one.
Poe squeezes tighter for a second and then lets go, and Finn refuses to allow himself to feel a pang at the loss of contact, because he is a mature adult in total control of all his emotions.
“Seriously,” Poe says, “I'm not saying you should get a big head or anything. But maybe trust that when people call you a hero, they know what they're talking about. You've earned it.”
“I haven't, though,” Finn sighs, “there's so much left to do.”
“That's why you’re a hero, you blockhead,” Poe says affectionately. “Look at you; you can barely walk and you're already aching to get back on your feet and punch some bad guys. You fit right in.”
Finn opens his mouth, closes it again, unsure what to say.
“Good talk,” Poe says decisively, and claps Finn roughly on the shoulder. Finn tries desperately not to track the sideways quirk of his mouth as Poe smirks Finn a goodbye before sauntering out of the medbay.
Finn slumps back spread-eagle onto the hospital-corner sheets of his bed, smiling helplessly. “I am so kriffing screwed,” he mumbles to himself.
The medidroid, wandering by, makes an odd robotic noise that resembles a laugh. “I agree, Patient Finn,” they say, “I have also noticed an odd amount of romantic tension between you and Pilot Dameron.”
“Oh my God,” Finn says, mortified, “please just let me die in peace.”
The droid pauses. “It is not within the bounds of my duties to allow such a thing,” they say, sounding as confused as a droid can. “Might I suggest talking about your feelings for Pilot Dameron with him, in a controlled setting? My programming for emotional health and conflict resolution suggests that may be a viable option.”
Finn tries desperately to smother himself with the hospital bed pillow until the medidroid takes it from his hands and rolls away, beeping at him in maternal disappointment.
“Hey!” Poe shouts delightedly, “You’re free!”
Finn shrinks a little as half the mess hall turns to look at where he’s standing a few feet away from the pilot’s table, a full tray in his arms and a sheepish expression on his face. “Um, yes,” he says, “They let me out this morning–can I sit down?”
“Oh, yeah,” Poe says immediately, “here, Jess, scoot over, let Finn sit–”
Finn awkwardly clambers over the bench to slide in next to Poe, trying to keep his tray steady while also trying not to pull at the tender newly-grown skin on his back. It’s a challenge, but he eventually makes it.
“Everyone, this is Finn,” Poe says to the table at large, “he’s kind of a big deal.”
“Shut up,” Finn groans, and elbows Poe in the side.
“Finn, this is everyone,” Poe continues, only wincing slightly, and gesturing in a broad dramatic sweep at the ragtag group of people scattered along the length of the mess table.
“I’m Jess,” the young woman on Finn’s other side introduces herself specifically, tossing a sheet of glossy black hair over her shoulder as she grins at him. “So, is it true that you flew the Millennium Falcon through a cave and then blew up twenty TIE fighters?”
“There weren’t twenty,” Finn says, “more like … four? Five? And Rey was flying the Falcon, not me.”
“But the cave thing’s real,” Jess says, impressed.
“Well, it was less a cave and more a … large rock formation? That got narrower?”
“Still,” Jess says, and whistles underneath her breath. “Not too shabby. That Rey must have some pretty slick flying up her sleeve.”
Finn smiles broadly just thinking about it. “She really does,” he agrees.
“Wait,” Poe interjects, “so if Rey was flying who was the one shooting?”
Finn looks at him, confused. “Well … me, obviously. It was just us and BB-8 at that point, we didn’t meet up with the others until later.”
“Right, of course,” Poe says, “it’s just a shock because I know for a fact that your first time as a gunner was with me, earlier that same day.”
Jess coughs on her drink. “No shit, Finn?” she says. “Sounds like you’ve got a few tricks up your own sleeves.
Finn smiles at her, but then turns back to Poe. “I thought I did a good job with you, though,” he says, feeling oddly stung. “We kicked some First Order ass, right?”
“Oh, for sure,” Poe agrees, “but there’s a pretty big difference between shooting from a state of the art TIE fighter out in space and shooting those same TIE fighters from a ship that’s not only doing some truly mind-blowing aeronatics through a ‘large rock formation’, but has also–despite being a beautiful piece of mechanics and an intergalactic historical icon–definitely seen better days.”
Finn takes a minute to absorb that statement. “Well, when you put it like that…” he concedes.
“Seriously, dude, you should look into being a gunner,” Jess tells him. “We could use about twenty of you, to be honest.”
Poe makes a noise of agreement. “Whaddaya say, Finn? Wanna be my partner-in-crime?”
“Hey!” Jess protests, “We all need partners-in-crime.”
“I met him first,” Poe brushes her aside, “I called dibs.”
Finn laughs, but looks down at his plate, unsure. “I’ll think about it,” he says honestly. “I–I haven’t ever really had the chance to make a choice about who I wanted to be. This is new. I kind of don’t want to … rush things?”
“That’s fair,” Poe says, nodding, “smart decision.”
“Plus I have a lot of recovery to do before I can get in any ships,” Finn groans. “Physical therapy every day this week and next.”
Poe winces in sympathy. “Eat your mash,” he advises, and bumps his knee affectionately against Finn’s underneath the table. “I’ll wait for you as long as it takes, I promise.”
“We’re looking at getting quarters requisitioned for you,” Poe says over his shoulder, unlocking his own room, “but things have been so busy lately that you’ll just be bunking with me until we can figure out something better. Hope that’s not a problem?”
“Not at all,” Finn says, following Poe into the small room and looking around with a sense of wonder. “This is great.”
“I like it,” Poe agrees, nodding. “It’s a little small, but I don’t mind. What would I need extra space for?”
“Well, me,” Finn points out, raising an amused eyebrow, and Poe scoffs at him.
“You’ll fit just fine,” he says, waving a dismissive hand, and then turns to strip the sheets off the narrow bunk and replace them with fresh ones. “You’re taking the bed,” Poe says, no room for argument.
“But it’s your room,” Finn tries to protest.
“But you’re the one with the horrific back injury,” Poe returns, “and the portable camp bed will do just fine for me. I’ve slept in much worse.”
“So have I,” Finn says.
“But you don’t have to,” Poe says, “and in fact, there’s not a chance in hell that I am going to let you, so suck it up and get in my bed.” He pauses, and flushes slightly. “That sounded … a lot worse than I meant it to, Finn, sorry–”
Finn just smirks at him and starts stripping off his shirt.
“Oh, god,” Poe says, turning away, “there’s, ah, spare sleeping clothes in the bottom drawer there, help yourself–”
“Thanks,” Finn says, feeling oddly touched. “Sorry I keep stealing all your clothes.”
“No, it’s fine,” Poe says, “We’ll get you some things of your own soon, and in the meantime I have plenty. Plus, well, clearly my superior sense of style is an incredibly flattering look on you–”
“Shut up,” Finn says, shrugging into a light gray cotton shirt worn thin and impossibly soft with age. “It’s not that your style is superior, it’s that I’m so wildly attractive I make absolutely everything look good–”
Poe turns around to shove at his shoulder lightly, laughing. “Remember when I told you not to get a big head? That’s sticking with me for some reason.” He yawns, and then reaches under the bunk and retrieves a large squashy-looking bedroll. “C’mon, Mr. Wildly Attractive,” he says, “time for your beauty sleep.”
Finn wants to protest, just for the sake of being spiteful, but a wave of sudden exhaustion crashes over him and Poe’s bunk looks incredibly inviting.
“All right, old man,” he agrees, and crawls beneath the blankets readily, and falls into the embrace of sleep almost immediately.
But at some indeterminate point in time later, Finn’s awoken from a rather unpleasant dream involving Kylo Ren and several Rathtars by a hoarse shout. He’s out of the bunk in a jolt before realizing that the source of the sound was Poe, in the grips of some sort of nightmare. He’s thrashing around in his bedroll, tangled in the blankets, and Finn is shaking him awake before he realizes what’s happening.
“You’re okay,” he says, over and over, until Poe’s eyes are open and fixed on his and seem to be seeing the world as it is once more.
“Sorry about that,” Poe rasps eventually, “I just–I’ve been getting those, ever since I was captured. Kylo Ren–”
Finn realizes that this is the direct results of Kylo Ren’s mind torture, and he feels a flare of white-hot anger surge within him, adding to the worry and concern already there.
“Alright, that’s it,” Finn says, “you’re taking your bed back.”
“It won’t help,” Poe says miserably, “I get them almost every night, no matter where I am.”
Finn smiles, gently, tentatively. “The bed won’t help,” he agrees, “but I might. Come on, it’ll be a tight squeeze, but we can make it work.”
Poe looks up, startled. “You don’t have to do that,” he says.
“I really do,” Finn disagrees, and sighs. “I’m not sleeping great either,” he admits. “If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for me?”
Poe hesitates a beat longer, but then takes Finn’s offered hand and pulls himself to his feet. “Alright,” he says, “for both of us.”
It is indeed a tight fit in the bunk, but Finn just wraps an arm around Poe’s shoulders and drifts quickly back to sleep to the sound of his breathing shifting into something slower and steadier, taking comfort in the warmth of another body nestled next to his.
Finn wakes with the sunrise, and sees Poe over by the door, trying to slip out as quietly as possible. “That’s not going to work,” Finn tells him, and watches him startle.
“I was just–” Poe says, and Finn shakes his head and slides out of the bunk.
“Wait,” Finn says, and takes a moment to look at the way the morning light shines across Poe’s dark hair, lights up his eyes, highlights the ever-present shadows of his face.
Finn looks at Poe, and feels queasy anticipation uncoil in his stomach, and steels himself. He’s nervous, but he’s found the courage to do much more frightening things than this is, so he takes a deep breath and steps closer to Poe.
“I’m going to try something,” he says, “and I really hope this goes down like I want it to.”
“Uh--” Poe starts to say, but Finn just leans in, one hand resting on Poe’s shoulder, the other coming up to rest against the side of his face, staring intently into his eyes, their faces mere inches away.
“Okay?” he asks nervously.
“Okay,” Poe confirms, and Finn isn't sure who moves first but they meet in the middle in a soft kiss, a gentle press of lips before breaking apart again, breathing deep.
“So,” Finn says, “that went–better than I was expecting.”
“I wasn’t expecting that at all,” Poe admits. “You wear your heart on your sleeve, kid, and it’s pretty clear to everyone in the system that you’ve got a pretty huge thing for Rey.”
Finn shrugs. “Rey is really important to me,” he says simply, “because she’s the third person I ever met who treated me like I was worth something.”
“Who’s the first?” Poe asks curiously.
“FN-2003,” Finn says. “We weren’t allowed to form emotional bonds but sometimes he would smile at me when we had our masks off, and I would smile back. He died on Jakku, that first mission. It’s part of why I wanted out.”
“I’m sorry,” Poe says, “that’s really–”
Finn cuts him off. “The second person is you,” he says, “and that means something. You gave me a name, a ride out, a jacket. You were nice to me.”
“If this is some sort of kriffed-up gratefulness thing,” Poe says hotly, “you’re not obligated and I don’t want your weird sexy thanks–”
Finn sighs. “Not a weird grateful thing,” he says, “an ‘I like you’ kind of thing. Do I really have to spell it out?”
“I’m picking you,” Finn says firmly, “at least for now and for the foreseeable future, and we’ll work out the rest when it happens. Okay?”
“That was not quite as flattering as I think you thought it was,” Poe snorts, “but I’ll take it.”
“Wait,” Finn says, taken aback, “really? But you’re Poe Dameron!”
“And you’re Finn,” Poe parrots back, “and when I said you looked better than me in the jacket, I meant it. I really meant it.”
“Oh,” Finn says, grinning, “that’s awesome!”
Poe laughs. “I agree,” he says, and loops an elbow around Finn’s neck to pull him into for another kiss. “You kriffing idiot,” he says fondly into Finn’s mouth.
“Right back at you,” Finn laughs, a little bit indignant and a lot bit thrilled.
A lot's changed for Finn recently, but he thinks he's starting to get the hang of this new way of life. Things are, after all, finally starting to look up.