Too much longing:
it separates us
like scent from bread,
rust from iron.
Sentencings, Jane Hirshfield
The first time Poe sees Rey wearing clothes of his she’s sitting by Finn’s bed. The jacket is so big on her she fairly swims in it, but that doesn’t seem to bother her. She curls into it, pulling it tight around her body. She keeps looking at Finn, like if she stares hard enough at him he’ll come back from wherever he is. Poe isn’t particularly familiar with Jedi or the Force; for all he knows it might actually work.
“It looks good on you.” He says, because he can’t listen to nothing but the hum and beep of medical equipment for another second, not when it’s around Finn.
There’s a twitch of her lips, something he wouldn’t quite call a smile, but it’s better than the tired, haunted expression she had before.
“Finn lent it to me when we were on the base. It kept me warm.” He’s glad to hear this, that it was useful not just to Finn, but to someone else.
A runner taps her on the shoulder and whispers in her ear. She takes off the jacket. It’s only now he notices there’s a huge gash down the back, and he shivers.
“I have to go.” She squeezes his hands, and he’s surprised by the strength he feels in them. “Watch over him for me, will you?” He nods, and some of the strain goes out of her face. Unexpectedly, she pulls him into a quick, tight hug. Before he has time to react, she’s gone.
The medical ward is quiet again, punctuated only by occasional announcements. He puts the jacket on, mindful of how little is actually holding it together at this point. It smells a lot like smoke (unsurprising after all it’s been through), also used oil and X-Wing exhaust. There’s something else though: industrial soap, the tang of old metal, another scent he can’t identify that makes him think of sand and heat, burned clean until there’s nothing left but itself. He leans back in the chair that Rey so recently vacated it’s still faintly warm. Now that he’s actually still, the stress of the last few days hits him like a charging rancor, and before he knows it he’s asleep.
One of the medical droids wakes him up and kicks him out, sternly reminding him about visiting hours. The base is mostly quiet now, the night cool and still, but he heads towards the noise of the laundry facilities, the jacket in his hands. He knows a skilled tailor that owes him one, and it seems like it’s a good time to cash that favor in.
“You want me to get it cleaned for you when it’s repaired?” Tsho asks. Poe shakes his head, and the Ithorian blinks its stalky eyes, confused. “Okay, whatever you want, hotshot. I’ll let you know when it’s done.”
Tsho must like him more than he thought, because the jacket’s delivered to his quarters in not even a week. Poe has to look hard for the seams, and he wishes it were that easy to fix himself. There’s nights he wakes up sometimes, cold sweat pouring down his body, still thinking he’s in that chair. If he doesn’t have to fly the next day, he heads down to the infirmary, where the droids have finally given up on trying to keep him out. He knows Finn can’t hear him, nor can he do anything other than sit there, but it helps, just sitting there, sometimes talking, mostly not.
Tonight’s a particularly shitty night, the dreams more vivid and detailed than usual. BB-8 chirrups inquiringly, with as much concern as a little droid can project into its vocalizations.
“I’m fine, really. I just need a walk.” BB-8’s reply whistle is dubious, but it makes no move to stop him from going. He grabs the jacket and puts it on automatically, the scent of new leather mingling with everything else. Finn remains as he always is, motionless but still breathing. Poe takes off the jacket.
“Finn. Hey buddy. I got your jacket fixed. It’s almost as good as new.” He lays it down on the bed, draping it over Finn’s legs. He doesn’t know what he’s expecting to happen, but he’s still crushed when Finn stays inert, the monitors beeping away serenely. He pats Finn’s ankle, adjusting the jacket further. “It’ll be there when you wake up. I will too.”
On his way out, he runs into one of the medical droids.
“You’re not staying tonight, sir?” It looks at him almost quizzically, its visual sensors flickering in an approximation of a blink.
“Nah, I got a flight tomorrow, need to get some rest.” He lies, walking away quickly. He changes the sheets and lays in bed, staring at the ceiling until the light starts creeping into his room.
He’s irritable and snappish all day, swatting away questions in meetings until Pava fixes him with a Look that tells him a squadron leader should know better. She comes up to him afterwards, sternness replaced with concern. He leans against the wall, suddenly very tired. He’s about to apologize when Jess bumps him with her shoulder.
“It’s tough, I get that. But you’ll get through this. We blew up a Starkiller! Everything’s a cakewalk after that, right?”
He smiles, just a little bit. “Easier than doesn’t necessarily mean it’s still easy.” He stares out at the rest of the base, going about its business. There’s a nagging feeling of emptiness in his gut, one that’s different from the anxiety and concern around Finn. “I wish Rey was here.”
“The girl?” Jess looks up at him.
“I feel like she’d know what to do.” About Finn, his lack of sleep or the reasons for it, he’s not sure. All he knows is he wants her back.
“Whatever you say.” Jess claps him on the shoulder and walks off, leaving Poe and his feelings behind.
There’s a feeling when a ship’s about to land, something about the way the engines push the air around and vibrate it. Poe senses it in his bones when the Millennium Falcon’s back, and it’s confirmed by the excited shouts he hears in the yard. He’s far enough from the landing pad that the General is dwarfed by the size of the ship and the distance that the crowd has automatically given her. He pushes forward as gently as he can, and people let him. Rey and Chewbacca are in the cockpit, taking care of the last of the landing procedures, and something in his chest eases, to see her returned and unharmed. He hears the hiss of the ramp, and the twitter and squeak of an overexcited Artoo.
A man in a tan robe with a deep hood walks down the ramp. As soon as he sees the General, he stops, and removes the hood. Poe can see that his right hand is made of metal. He watches General Organa as her brother comes down to meet her, and it occurs to him this is the only time he's ever seen her cry.
Rey has that thinking look, the one he’s learning to understand she gets when she’s trying to figure something out. She spends a lot of her time with Skywalker, training with lightsabers and presumably learning all sorts of Jedi things. She always comes back here though, like being around Finn helps her synthesize the ridiculous amounts of information she’s taking in. Sometimes she tells Poe about the things she’s done during the day, and he does the same, but mostly they just sit and listen to Finn breathe, hoping he’ll wake up.
“I want to try something.” She says, her voice breaking through the quiet beep of medical machinery. “Lu--Master Skywalker has been teaching me more about the Force. How it’s in everything, and how to communicate through it. Do you think it would be a good idea?” He’s not quite sure why she’s asking him instead of Skywalker or even the General, but he’s flattered that she wants his opinion. It can’t hurt (he doesn’t think so, anyways), and he’s been noting the toll their shared vigil has been taking on her. There are dark smudges under her eyes that never seem to go away, and her expression gets more crumpled and defeated the longer this goes on.
“I think you should,” he says, finally. He hopes this works. This has to work.
“All right.” She puts her hand on Finn’s forehead and concentrates, frowning. Her frown deepens, but nothing happens.
“I need your help,” she says.
“For Finn? Anything.” She smiles at that, and grabs his hand, He feels a tingle and a pull where they touch. The sensation it dredges up is deeply familiar, but hard to place. He then realizes it’s the same one he got sitting under the big tree at home on Yavin 4. His parents had told him it was special, but he’d never quite believed it was true until now.
“Finn. Finn. Come back.” She whispers. He grimaces and shifts around a little, but nothing else happens. Her face gets obstinate, then pleading, then desperate. “Please, I need you.” Finn shifts more. She looks over at him. “Poe needs you too.”
He feels something surge against his hand and then Finn gasps, opening his eyes. Rey drops his hand and presses her forehead against Finn’s, a tear running down her cheek. Finn reaches out, brushing it away. Suddenly, Poe has to be anywhere but here.
“Excuse me,” He mumbles, fleeing the scene. In his haste to leave, he runs right into someone. Of course it has to be Luke Skywalker.
“Easy, easy.” Skywalker puts his hands against Poe’s arms to blunt the impact of being run into. He feels the same sort of tingle as when Rey took his hand.
Poe sidesteps him. “Sorry, I should have watched where I was going. I have to go.”
Skywalker looks behind Poe, back into the infirmary. Whatever he sees makes his expression soften, and his eyes become sad.
“Running away from something you don't want to deal with when you should be facing it head on is usually unwise,” he says mildly. “Take it from someone who knows.” Now Poe feels a little bit like an asshole, trying to get away from somebody who’s just trying to give him well-intentioned advice.
“What happened with Ren wasn’t your fault. He made a choice.” Poe knows this more than anybody here, considering he has the scars and nightmares to prove it.
Luke pats him on the arm. “I don’t mean to disregard or trivialize what happened to you. As much as I appreciate your sympathy, that was still my responsibility, and now it is my burden to bear.” A pause. “In fact, I wasn’t talking about Ben at all.” He cocks his head, looking at Poe still standing there. “Didn’t you have somewhere to be?”
“Right. Yeah. Going.” He strides down the corridor, all the things he needs to think about rattling around in his head.
Now that Finn’s finally awake, his actual recovery is surprisingly quick. He’s up and walking faster than the medical droids expected, and they arrange for his release. There is still the matter of finding clothes for him. It wasn’t like he had anything else to wear, having run around non-stop since Jakku and then spending weeks in an infirmary gown. It’s logical, really. Poe’s already given him a jacket, what are a few more things? Finn is a little confused when Poe shows up at his quarters with some old shirts and trousers, but grins when he realizes they’re his to keep, grabbing Poe into a hug. Poe’s heart clenches a little at that, and he tries not to tighten his arms around Finn too much.
“You want to see how I look in them?” Finn asks, still a little giddy.
“If you want,” Poe says casually. Super casually, like he’s used to barracks and communal showers and exposed flesh everywhere. Like apparently Finn is, shucking off what he’s currently wearing into the corner and pulling on a shirt. Poe looks away, but not before catching a flash of round belly, surprising in its presence. Somehow he’d never thought that the First Order would allow that sort of softness, evidence of a body shaped for anything other than conformity and obedience. And in that moment, he thinks about how much he wants to show Finn all the things about the world he’d missed.
“What d’you think?” Finn’s voice snaps him out of his musings. He’d chosen a worn blue shirt, faded from many washes until it was soft and comfortable. Apparently Finn is a little broader than Poe despite them being about the same size, and the shirt stretches across his shoulders and chest in a most pleasing manner.
“Wow. You look fantastic.” He says, his breath catching.
“You really think so?” There’s no embarrassment or modesty in Finn’s voice, just genuine curiosity. It’s refreshing, among other things he is absolutely not going to think about here, now.
Poe claps him on the shoulder. “I wouldn’t have said so if I didn’t.” Finn’s smile is brilliant, enough that Poe forgets to breathe again.
Rey steals Finn’s clothes. So in some way she’s stealing his clothes. He’s not going to say he doesn’t like it, but the thing Poe is concerned about is why she’s stealing Finn’s clothes. They’ve been inseparable since Finn woke up, and it would be honestly touching if seeing them together didn’t incite in him a sharp and furious longing to be a part of what they have. It gnaws at him constantly, like a hunger he can’t sate. They’re better about keeping their hands off each other in public, but apparently he doesn’t count as the public. (The less said about the times he’s had to excuse himself to take a cold shower in the fresher, the better.)
He knows enough people in plurals that he understands the logistics and negotiation, at least intellectually, but it’s not something he wants to bring up to two people already coping with navigating the challenges of normal life, and additional training besides. Assuming that it’s something they even want. They’re so wrapped up in each other it feels difficult to get their attention sometimes, even though they’re always willing to do things with him when he asks. It’s the asking part that’s starting to get harder, and he doesn’t know what do about that.
People on the base don’t talk about how Finn and Rey walk around in his clothes, but they definitely notice. He’s the recipient of many sidelong glances, as well as conspiratorial smiles meant to be returned. (He doesn’t.) Even General Organa appears to be in on it, stopping him after a meeting.
“You’ve been spending a lot of time with our new friends,” she says, her voice suspiciously clear of emotion.
“Why wouldn’t I? They’re great.” They are, truly. Finn’s boundless enthusiasm for everything is a delight. And he’s so good, a staunch compass of righteousness that not even the First Order could beat out of him. Rey is more reserved (but then again everybody looks reserved next to Finn), but there’s a strength in her, a deep indomitable spirit and clever mind that he’s drawn to. He feels incredibly fortunate they both want to spend time with him at all. And it’s good, and good for him, to be around them, as much as it also aches. He’s learning to live with it, accept it as part of the price of their friendship. Maybe one day he won’t notice.
“If it’s nothing you intend to continue, be kind, all right? They deserve that much.” Her tone is light, but there’s a steely glint in her eyes, the kind that promises a galaxy of hurt if somebody she cares about is harmed.
He puts out his arms in the universal gesture of “surrender”, also “please don’t hurt me”. “Nothing’s going on, General. I swear it.” (He’s certainly not going to mention he wishes something was.)
“If you say so.” An aide hands her a datapad and she makes a face. “Go on, shoo. I know you’re dying to be away from here.”
He wanders out of the main complex, not really looking to be anywhere in particular, but he ends up near the training grounds. Rey and Skywalker are sparring, their lightsabers crashing together furiously. It’s the first time he’s ever seen a lightsaber fight up close, and he stops, entranced.
Skywalker is good; he should be. But Rey is almost as good. She’s all grace and quickness, countering Skywalker’s swings and holding her ground. As he comes in with an overhand chop, she blocks it, pushing back the blade. (There’s a fierce joy in her expression, her eyes blazing with something he can’t entirely name, and something in his chest shifts and yearns.) If this were a real fight, she probably could have forced it out of his hands. Poe sees that Skywalker realizes this too, and he disengages, obviously satisfied with the match. They bow to each other, and leave the ring to cheers from the other bystanders.
Rey sees him, and her face lights up. She’s flushed and sweaty, attractively glowing with exertion. She’s also wearing the blue shirt and a pair of his pants. He would have thought they’d be hard to fight in, but they don’t seem to hinder her at all. They’re plastered against her, soaked in sweat, and he tries to not think about how they cling. Maybe one day he’ll work up the courage to ask her to spar.
“Finn and I are going to have lunch on the shore. Would you like to join us?” It would be tolerable if it was just eating and enjoying each other’s company, but eventually things will lead to other things and awkwardness. Given how these things have proceeded in the past, Poe will excuse himself to walk back to the base alone and lay in bed, too miserable to even jerk off.
“Sorry, I’m busy today.” It’s not technically a lie, because he’ll find himself a technical manual to study, or reorder the maintenance schedule for the T-70s in Black Squadron whether it needs it or not. It’s a totally legitimate and important use of time, he tells himself even as Rey’s face clouds with disappointment.
“Another time then?” She says, and Poe nods, even though he’ll probably make an excuse the next time one of them asks. She squeezes his arm, obviously pleased to hear it, and it makes him feel even worse. “You seem to be busy a lot now. We miss you.”
“Sometimes it happens.” He excuses himself to head towards the yard, and wonders if it would be such a terrible thing if they stopped asking altogether.
Poe’s cleaning his helmet when Finn comes up to him. He has a remarkably serious expression on his face, which is enough to make Poe take notice. It doesn’t go away when even when Poe smiles at him, and he knows something is definitely not right.
“Hey buddy. What’s up?” He reaches out to Finn, expecting him to give him a hand up, but Finn stays right where he is.
“We haven’t seen you in a really long time.” Finn says without preamble, and no small bit of agitation. “Do you not like us anymore?” His voice gets very small, and Poe tries to remember the last time they’d spent any real time together. It occurs to him, with slowly dawning horror, that he can’t actually recall. Some of it was unavoidable; a great deal of it was simply not responding to invitations because it was easier than seeing them together. He thought it would make the sad gnawing feeling go away, but it just became background instead.
“No, of course I do! It’s--” He puts down his helmet and tries to formulate some sort of explanation for how he managed to kriff up this beautiful, important thing he had, and might not anymore. “It’s complicated. Do I get a chance to explain myself? To both of you? I’m sorry.”
Finn’s face softens at hearing the emotion in Poe’s voice, and he sits down next to him, the leather of the jacket creaking as he moves. “Sometimes you’re a real bucketbrain, for being as important as you are here. Of course.” He punches Poe gently on the shoulder, and if it’s not mended, it’s at least better. The feeling in Poe’s gut doesn’t go away, but it’s at least quieter. They watch the bustle of the yard for a little while, and it feels good, some semblance of normal Poe didn’t realize he missed.
“We’re having dinner on the shore tonight.” Finn’s voice startles him out of a lull. Poe had forgotten how easy it was to let his guard around Finn, and Rey too. “You have to eat, and from what the General tells me, you need a break. You should take it with us.”
“The usual time then?” Poe asks. At least he still remembers that.
Finn nods, pleased. “Rey’ll be happy to hear it. She misses you. We both do.”
The sun is just starting to dip in the sky when he arrives at the shore. Rey and Finn are already there, with a big basket of food and a giant blanket laid out. Finn beams when he sees Poe, and Rey hugs him when he walks up, tucking her head against his neck. He closes his eyes, thinking about how much he missed all of this. After a moment, Finn tugs at them both and they sit down to eat.
They fall back into it easier than he expects. Finn throws food at him, and Rey rolls her eyes at this but laughs anyways. Eventually, all the food is gone, and they run out of inconsequential things to talk about. Finn puts his hand in Rey’s, and she squeezes it, in support or reassurance, Poe’s not quite sure. He takes a deep breath.
“We wanted to apologize. For how we’ve been acting around you.” He looks nervous, but steels himself anyways. “We were a little… occupied and didn’t realize how uncomfortable it would make you, and we’re sorry about that.” This? This is what they wanted to apologize for? Being in love, or at least really really intense and handsy like? He wants to laugh. Instead he just scrubs his hand through his hair and sighs.
“You two’ve got nothing to apologize for. I’m the one who should be doing that. For a lot of things.” Where does he even begin to start? For having kriffing terrible coping skills, pulling away into himself, being a shitty asshole friend, being too stupid to speak up about things he wants? All that ends up coming out is, “I’m sorry. I still have nightmares.” At this Finn just clutches him, like he can squeeze the bad memories out if he does it hard enough.
“Have you talked to anybody about this?” Rey asks. Poe shakes his head, and she looks like she’s going to smack him, but she doesn’t. “That might be a good place to start. And if you don’t want to talk to other people, you can talk to us!” She takes his hand, lacing her fingers into his. “We care about you. We want you to be happy.” He can feel Finn nod emphatically before he starts rubbing circles into the small of Poe’s back. He relaxes into it, and they don’t say anything for a little bit. He thinks this may be all he ever really needs: a lake and a shore, something good to eat, and these two.
“We also didn’t realize this”--Rey gestures to encompass all of them--”was something people did. So we looked it up on the holonet. There was a lot of useful information.” Poe blinks at Rey’s words, hope rising in his chest. Finn takes his other hand.. “We don’t know how this is going to work, not really, but we want to give it a try. If you’re willing?”
For a moment, Poe can’t speak around the lump in his throat.
“I’m yours, if you want me.” He says, his voice rough. And it seems they do. Rey grins wide and Finn actually punches the air. Rey wastes no time in climbing into his lap, curling her fingers into his hair as her lips ghost down his neck. Finn turns Poe’s face towards his, and Poe finds himself kissed with great enthusiasm and terrible technique. Enthusiasm, that he can work with. They can figure out the rest as they go along.
It is not a magical experience. They don’t really know how to deal with extraneous limbs, and they bump heads a lot. They just laugh when it happens and move on, learning to move together and apart. It’s absolutely not perfect but it is good, everybody ending up satisfied (some more than once), and they collapse into an exhausted pile, blissful and content.
When Poe wakes up, it’s dark. The moons are only half-full, but it’s light enough that he can make out Finn and Rey sitting on the blanket next to him, curled up together. Both of them have pleased, fond smiles. He shifts, and finds that one of them’s draped the jacket over him. Despite its warmth, the chill of the night is apparent on the parts of him that aren’t covered.
“Do you want to move this inside?” He asks, and they nod, getting up. They pull him to his feet and start heading back to the base. Poe looks forward to the prospect of a heated room and an actual bed. It’s small for three, but they’ll make it work. He finds he’s still carrying the jacket.
“Which one of you wants it?” He holds it out. They look at each other.
“We think you should wear it, for now,” Finn says.
Rey smiles, a glimmer of mischief in her eyes. “After all, it’s not like we won’t steal it back eventually.” Poe laughs and puts on the jacket, feeling lighter than he has in a long time.