Of all the people it could be, it's the General who first tells Finn about soulmarks. In the first days after he wakes, he discovers that he has more free time than he knows what to do with. He tries to offer help, to volunteer where he can, but is turned away at every step. Poe tells him that it's because the Resistance needs him to be healed and well, but it's not hard to see that that's not the only reason, and the both of them know it. The Resistance are polite, friendly even, but he's not blind to the wariness in their eyes when he talks to them, nor the way they continue to watch his movements when they think he's not looking. He isn't sure he can blame them.
He'd tried to tell Poe this once, but the pilot had shrugged with annoyance. “You've more than proven yourself,” he'd said, irritably, “They'll just have to get over it.” Finn doesn't bring it up again.
“He's right,” the General says when he tells her about it later. “Although I think he's working a lot harder to forget than most.”
He sees the mark when she pauses to take a drink; her sleeve slips down her arm, revealing a fading smudge of letters he can't quite read, curling around her wrist.
“I've seen that before,” he says. “Lots of people here have it. Is it a Resistance thing?”
“You don't know?”
He shakes his head.
“I wouldn't have thought First Order would go in for soulmates,” the General says. There's a wistful smile on her lips as she tilts her wrist slightly; he can just about make out the word uniform.
“It's called a soulmark. They're supposed to be the first words your soulmate speaks to you,” she says. “They appear, sometimes at birth, sometimes later, but they almost always appear in the end.”
“And yours was Han Solo?”
The General shakes her head. “My brother, Luke.” Her hand is warm where it closes over his. “Lovers and soulmates are not the same thing all of the time, Finn. You really don't have a mark?”
“Maybe I don't have a soulmate,” Finn says.
The General doesn't look convinced. “Maybe.”
“That's what's left of it,” Poe says when Finn asks him about his mark. If there's a taboo on talking about them, there's no evidence of it in the complete lack of hesitation as the pilot rolls the waist of his trousers down, just enough to display a burn scar over his hip. “Wasn't much use anyway. You don't get to be a pilot without someone barking an order at you.”
“Your soulmate's a superior officer?”
Poe snorts. “I have no idea who my soulmate is,” he says. “Nobody ever explained how you'd know if you can't see your mark.”
“But you would know?”
“You've got to, right?” Poe says, tone much more confident than the furrow in his brow would suggest. “Otherwise what's the point?”
“Does everyone have a soulmate?”
Poe leans against the X-Wing for a moment, purses his lips thoughtfully. “Snap doesn't have a mark,” he says at last, “and Jess has more than one. But I don't know what that says about soulmates.”
“Do you think they always match?”
“What if the first words you say to your soulmate back aren't the words they have?”
“You think you could be in a non-mutual soulmate arrangement?”
“I don't have a mark,” Finn shrugs. “I don't know why I'm even thinking about it.”
There's a slight pause before Poe claps him on the shoulder, squeezing the back of Finn's neck in a light shake. Although he is smiling, there's nothing about it that quite his habitual easy, wide grin. “Hey, maybe I don't even know what a soulmate is. Maybe none of us do. Seems like a good way to drive yourself crazy worrying about it too much.”
“I guess,” Finn says.
He looks over to where Jess is talking to Major Kalonia and does not see Poe's thumb rub over the site of his old scar, nor hear the quiet, steadying huff that goes with it.
“Do you think you need a mark to have a soulmate?”
“Now? Finn, you want to do this now? It's not even sunrise yet.”
Finn hasn't slept yet, has been listening to the rise and fall of his roommate's breathing for the past few hours. He's counted all the seconds between each inhale, each exhale, can't help but envy Poe's ability to drop so soundly. It's something of a surprise when Poe responds to his question. Another instinctive ability, perhaps, like flying.
“I don't remember anyone in the Order having one. None of us.” It had surprised him when he realised, though he wasn't sure why. It felt wrong, somehow. How could such a large group of people come together without them? He had wondered if that's why they had been chosen in the first place, but that didn't make sense. The General had said that many marks didn't appear until adolescence, and most of the others were like him, taken young enough that they could remember no other life. Had they been removed? How could they have done it, without anybody noticing?
“'And what's eating at you about it?”
“Maybe I'm not supposed to have a soulmate.”
“So what if you don't. You're getting maudlin in the dark.”
“I don't want to be alone, Poe.”
There's a long silence from the lower bunk, broken only by a series of small creaks; since sharing this room, Finn's memorised the sequences that mean Poe's shifting in his sleep. This is different. The pilot is sitting up, standing up, and Finn turns on his side to meet him when he leans on the bunk.
“You don't need a soulmate to know you're not alone, Finn,” he says, voice still rough with sleep. There's no light in the room, even Finn can't make out the expression on his face, but Poe's close enough that he can smell the soft swirl of smoke and spice on his skin. It's comforting in its familiarity. Slowly, he moves his hand, brings it to rest where he thinks Poe's face might be, almost touching.
“You're already not alone. You know Rey wouldn't have left if she didn't have to,” Poe says. When he speaks, stubble brushes over the back of Finn's fingers. “And I'm afraid you're stuck with me whether you like it or not. So you can stop that train of thought right now.”
“Stuck with you?”
“Stuck with me.”
“Ok,” says Finn.
The sun is high in the sky, it's almost too hot to do anything, but still the work around the base is non-stop. That is, right until the moment that Poe sneaks up behind him and loops one arm around his shoulders.
“It's a dumb idea to sneak up on an ex-stormtrooper,” Finn says. “Really dumb.”
Poe snorts. “I have alcohol.”
Finn glances at the crate he's carrying, some junk from a cleared out shed. He glances back at Poe, who waves a bottle in one hand, and is beaming from ear to ear.
“You know, I was just about to take a break, I have no idea how you knew.”
“I'm magic, come on.”
Finn lets Poe lead him away; they dispense with the crate behind a wall and sidle as unobtrusively as they manage down a nearby path towards the lake. The lake is probably his favourite place on the planet, always quiet, but teeming with life. It isn't long before he and Poe have stripped down to their shorts and splashed their way into the water, breaking the calm with shrieks and laughter, like neither of them have a care in the world. It's an act, it's always an act, but when he's with Poe, it almost feels like the truth.
Eventually, they crawl out of the lake, flop down on a pile of towels that's not quite big enough to keep the dust from sticking to their legs, their arms, their every part of themselves not covered and a few more besides. Still, when Poe flings his arms behind his head and closes his eyes with a contented sigh, water still dripping from his hair, Finn finds it hard to mind about a little grit.
His eyes drift down the pilot's body, he can see the interweaving of old scars and new; the Finalizer clearly was far from the first time he had had to fight for his life. Almost inevitably, his gaze comes to rest on that long-healed over burn. Its edges are clean, the skin smooth. He wonders how it had happened. No blaster scarred like that. He reaches out a finger, lets it hover lightly over the mark. Poe never said what the words were underneath.
His hand snaps back as he sits up abruptly. “Sorry, I-”
Poe cuts him off. “You ok?” He props himself up too, drying sand trickling off his body, and his eyes are dark, unreadable. “You were looking at my mark again.”
It takes an effort of will, but Finn is able to stop his shoulders from hunching and when Poe places a hand on his back, he simply shakes his head, wry smile on his lips. “I'm just trying to imagine what the soulmate of the great Poe Dameron is like.”
He can feel Poe's fingers tap on his spine, an erratic rhythm, for a few seconds before they still and he speaks again. “Honestly, buddy, who cares?”
“Why?” Poe's palm flattens against Finn's back, and he can't bring himself to move at all as it slides up his spine, coming to rest at the back of his neck. There's only the briefest of hesitations before it travels further, comes to rest, gentle, almost tentative against his jaw. “Give me one reason, Finn. I'm all ears.”
Finn closes his eyes. Poe's too close, too everything and he's never going to survive this conversation if he keeps on looking at him. “I don't know,” he says, honestly. “It just does, ok?”
Finn's eyes open. Poe's mouth is set in a defiant line.
“No. I don't accept that. You want to know the truth? I'm glad I don't have to look at that mark anymore. I don't want to live my life thinking I don't get to choose all of it. I might as well be-”
Poe falls silent, his hand dropping from Finn's face. Its absence feels like a wave of cold water. “That's not what I mean.”
“I guess I just like the idea of having something that's mine. I don't. Have.”
Finn jumps to his feet before Poe has a chance to respond, grabbing his clothing as he strides away.
He's not sure how to feel when Poe doesn't follow.
“Knock knock?” The voice is accompanied by an over-sharp rap of knuckles against the door. Poe leans in the door way, waiting for an answer.
“This is your room.”
“Correction, this is our room.” Poe steps in, indicating the small area with a grand sweeping gesture. “And we kind of got to an awkward spot today.”
Finn's face is hot. He doesn't want the other man to leave, except maybe he does. He isn't sure. “Forget it.”
“I don't want to.”
“You don't want a lot of things,” he snaps, without intent.
Poe lets out a short, sharp laugh, then another, and another. Poe laughs like he's just been let in on the greatest joke in the galaxy. Annoyance bubbles through Finn, and he's about to declare it when Poe steps forward again and kisses him.
His lips are warm, soft, but the kiss is neither of those things. Poe kisses like he doesn't think he'll get another chance and when he steps away, he brings one hand up to his lips, touches them as if he can't quite believe what just happened. Truth be told, Finn can't either, but evidently something far deeper in him can, and his hands move almost of their own accord, hooking themselves into the loops of Poe's belt, tugging lightly, bringing him closer in. The two of them stare at each other, unspeaking and Finn takes the moment to breathe. It somehow feels like the universe is slotting into place around him. He can't help but grin.
“Just take the opportunity,” he says. Poe's eyes widen, before he realises what he's saying. “You have three seconds before I stop feeling so generous,” Finn adds. “Go for it.”
“I want you,” Poe says and beams, as wide and proud as a child when Finn groans loudly with as much affection as he can muster.
“You are a terrible person,” Finn tells him.
“Got to be said, you bring out the best in me,” Poe replies, before Finn pulls him in for another kiss.
Days later, the two men are lying tangled together, half covered by one of Poe's sheets. The bed is too small and the night is too hot, but somehow, Poe is already asleep, muttering words too soft for Finn to understand, one arm curled around his waist. When Finn tries to lift it off him, too warm and heavy, a small noise of complaint emanates from somewhere in the back of Poe's throat and he lets it drop again.
“You're ridiculous,” he tells the sleeping man. “Hotshot rebel pilot by day, and look at you now. You're a cuddler.”
“'m your cuddler,” Poe mumbles. “g'sleep.”
Finn's fingers stroke lightly over Poe's hip. Mine, he thinks, and closes his eyes.