He’s going to die. Seven years old and his mom is going to murder him, with help from General Organa no less. Briefly Poe wonders what they’ll write on his grave ‘finally glad to be rid of that Dameron kid’ or ‘maybe next time he’ll learn to keep his hands to himself’.
Maybe if he’s lucky they won’t kill him, just ship him back to Yavin 4 to live with his grandfather.
Somehow he doubt they’re going to be that lucky.
Poe casts a glance at the door, he can see their mothers through the semi-transparent glass, it’s too quiet to hear them talk, but he knows whatever it is it can’t be good. The kid sitting next to him seems to have the same idea, hunched in on himself, in a poor attempt to make himself smaller.
“So, who talks first?” Poe says, breaking the silence between them.
A second later he’s greeted by a slightly confused, “What?”
“We’re gonna need an alibi. It’s what my mom uses if she ever gets caught by the bad guys, you’re supposed to lie that way they don’t know we’re rebels.”
The kid still looks confused, “But mom knows we’re-“
“I know, I know,” Poe replies. “We’re just gonna pretend okay? Like a game.”
“Like a game,” he repeats. This time sound more confident. His head bobbles a bit in his sort of nod.
“So, imagine they’re not our moms. They’re Imperial offices, come to torture information out of us, and we can’t tell them anything. Plausible deniability, you got it. We didn’t see who broke Admiral Ackbar’s holoboard, we’re innocent civilians not rebel spies.”
“But we’re not,” he insists.
“Come on, Organa, just go with it!”
“Solo.” The kid says quickly, which isn’t even a proper answer.
“My last name it’s not – just call me Ben okay.”
“Poe Dameron, good to meet you.”
“I already know who you are,” he insists. “Everyone knows who you are, you’re a troublemaker.”
“I’m going to be the best pilot in the galaxy one day, so watch it,” Poe replies.
At least, he had hoped to be. Now he was probably going to be grounded for life, no more flights out in moms A-Wing, no more helping the mechanics on the flight deck, no more -
“Do you think that’s what it really be like,” the kid – Ben Solo - asks, “If you know, we ever got captured by Imperials?”
Poe casts him a sidelong glance, but there’s an earnest question in his eyes, and well – Poe has to admit he has at least thought about it. Imagined that one day he’ll be badass enough to take down a whole team of evil Stormtroopers and Sith Lords just like his rebellion heroes.
In the end he just shrugs his shoulders a bit, “Probably. Not like they’d actually torture little kids, ‘course. They can’t be that evil, right?”
“What in the-“
“You have to help me,” Ben says quickly, there’s desperation in his voice. Eyes wide as he looks around the mess of the control room. “If they see they’ll send me away, mom said, one more time and I’d have to go learn from Uncle Luke. I don’t want to leave. Please.”
Poe knows that there’s no way they can cover this up. Not like he’s helped cover other things up before; insisting that he tripped (when in reality they’d fought with each other), putting the droids back together (when in Ben’s fury he force breaks them apart), or taking the blame (for things that aren’t even his fault).
There’s fried holopanels, cracked screens, glass across the floor, and in the middle of it all is Ben.
Ben who is probably his best friend, who was there right beside him, when he got the news about his mom’s death, who helped him try to steal the Millennium Falcon twice, who belongs here with the resistance not sent off at some Jedi temple where he’ll never be happy.
Ben who is looking at him with hope in his eyes, as though Poe could fix all of this.
He can’t. He knows he can’t.
But for Ben he’s willing to try.
“Okay, yeah, let’s,” Poe looks around the wreckage one more time. “Step one, bury the evidence, step two-“
“Create an alibi,” Ben says.
Poe can see the second the other boy relaxes ever so slightly, because they’d played this game before. He can see as Ben mentally makes a list of everything they’re going to have to do, the speed that they’re going to need before the command crew comes back from their meeting. (Not nearly enough time).
“Alight then, when they come in, who talks first? You or me?”
There had been news of it around the base. His fellow rookie pilots all whispering about it in their bunks at night. Luke Skywalker the legend himself was coming to the base.
Though Poe could care less about the Jedi master, the person he cared about was standing just behind Skywalker. His dark hair shorter than the last time Poe had seen him, an almost apprehensive look on his long narrow face.
Screw rules, and proper behavior – he runs across the flight runway bypassing a slightly amused Jedi Master, to throw his arms around Ben tugging him into a long overdue hug. Ben’s never really been a hugger, not like Poe (who will hug anyone and everyone given the chance), but he leans into it after a moment. Fingers tight against the back of Poe’s flight suit.
When they pull apart, there’s a grin on both of their faces, and suddenly they’re both speaking, far too fast. Their words blurring together at the excitement of having been reunited. Upon realizing that they can’t hardly understand each other, Poe bursts into laughter, Ben joining him with an awkward tittering of a laugh a second later.
“Okay, let’s try this again,” Poe says, “Who talks first? Do you talk first? Do I talk first?”
“We could flip a coin?” Ben offers.
“You’d use the Force to cheat, that’s inherently unfair.”
“I would not,” Ben insists, but he’s grinning, anyways.
Poe slings an arm over his shoulder. “Your master won’t mind if I steal you away for a bit?”
He misses the way Ben’s nose wrinkles at the words. “Uncle Luke’s busy with mom, we should be good.”
Poe takes that as enough of an invitation, steering Ben away from the crowd gathered to see the famous Jedi hero, and instead leaning him to the garage. Where all the Starfighters are lined up, or more importantly where his X-wing is.
Ben lets out a low appreciative noise when Poe stops in front of it, moving around to check the X-Wing out properly.
“So, tell me then, what is the famous pilot of the resistance, Poe Dameron, doing slumming it with a lowly Jedi apprentice,” Ben asks, in a highly put upon tone, when he’s finished his inspection.
“Solo, shut the kriff up.”
“Dameron, you stay down here and-“ those are the last words he hears from his commanding officer, shoved down beneath the wreckage of one of their ships. A blaster in his hand and orders to stay quiet, to wait for rescue, to report back to the resistance what he had seen.
Only, he’s not sure he can.
Not when he finally sees the mysterious enemy that they’d only heard whispers of before. The Knights of Ren, the evil Jedi who murdered their comrades, and their leader –
Even with the mask, Poe would know that walk anywhere. The slight hint of put upon swagger, trying to emulate people who have long since passed. The way he crouches just a bit before striking. The same tricks he’d been using since they were little, fighting with wooden sabers in the Admirals bunker instead of following the rules.
They say he’s lucky to have made it out alive, when he gets back to the base. He doesn’t feel so lucky though, not when he’s standing in front of General Organa, trying to find the right words.
“I’ve never known you to be so soft spoken,” she says. “Your reports are usually detailed, Mr. Dameron, why do I feel like there’s something you’re not telling me.”
He half wonders if it’s the force telling her that, or the guilty look on his face.
“It’s,” he starts then stops, “Please don’t make me say it. You have to know right, you have to have known before. Why didn’t you say anything, tell us-“ tell me “-What had happened?”
Poe can see the flash of guilt across her face.
“You saw him then.”
Or perhaps it is pain on her face, not guilt.
It takes a long time before she nods. Her features smoothing into that of a practiced war general, not the look of a mother who’s lost her son to something too great for even Poe to fully understand. “Well then, would you like to finish your mission report first, or should we talk now?”
The Stormtroopers force him to his feet, to kneel before him – before Kylo Ren – and he can’t help himself. Can’t help but play with first one last time, looking up to meet the unchanging gaze of the helmeted figure.
“Who talks first? Do you talk first? Do I talk first?”