“Hey, Dameron, wake up,” Jess says, throwing something at him without much in the way of a warning. He catches the roll and bites into it - it’s pretty much tasteless but warm. “How’s the boyfriend?”
“Fuck off, Pava” he tells her pleasantly and she shows him thumbs up before sitting down on an empty cot, legs swinging.
No matter what some people say (Snap and Jess, when they’re feeling like they’re hilarious, BB-8 when it’s in a nagging mood), he doesn’t move into the field hospital. He’s there every day, sure, but he still bunks with the rest of the squadron, he’s been there last… no, the day before… Well, very recently at least.
The days seem longer than usual now, in the quiet aftermath of the Starkiller base. Their agents are trying to figure out the Order’s next move, their leaders are concerned about the void left by the Republic’s central government, General Organa is preoccupied, growing more thoughtful every day.
Before his capture on Jakku, Poe’s weeks were filled with the frantic scavenger quest that was hunting down the news about Skywalker, most of them bullshit and gossip, but always something to do, somewhere to go. Now there are pilots to train and fighters repairs to supervise, but those don’t quite fill the days in a way he’s used to.
The first two days he couldn’t bring himself to leave, if he has to be honest with himself. Rey was right there with him, balancing on her heels, biting her lip as she watched the medics move around. BB-8 rolled itself into the corner, keeping out of the way, clearly trying to keep in the anxious beeping.
When they were told Finn was out of the woods, that he was unconscious but stable, Rey’s fingers grasped his, squeezing a little too hard. He didn’t care, grinning right back at her.
She left a couple of days later, setting out to succeed on a quest he was sent on months ago. It’s quiet without her, even though they didn’t speak much. BB-8 seems a little morose without her, the little guy got attached.
Now he comes by once or twice a day, gets the same shrug and a tight smile from one of the attending medics, and settles in for a couple of quiet minutes. It’s a comforting enough routine, even if the persisting lack of change is starting to worry him.
Well, he says starting…
“Are you falling asleep again?” Jess asks conversationally, her head tilted left. Poe doesn’t dignify that with an answer. She clearly has something on her mind and she’ll get to it, but there’s no point in encouraging her, he’s learned that one the hard way and so has everyone else on the squad.
Especially Snap, that shit was hilarious.
Jess makes a humming sound, kicking his foot. “Shame about the jacket,” she tells him. The thing is still on one of the chairs, where Rey carefully folded it before the medics could throw it away; the burned hole in the back visible from where he’s sitting.
“Alright, out with it, Pava.”
“The recon mission, I want in.”
He gives her a look. “You know something I don’t?”
There’s a flicker on her face when she’s clearly considering “many things” as an answer, but she chooses to hold her tongue. “Wexley’s back and the General has been looking for you.”
“You should have started with that,” he mutters, scrambling to stand up when he feels someone clearing their throat behind him and snaps to attention. “Ma’am.”
“Don’t worry, Commander, I knew where to find you,” General Organa says and nods at Pava’s perfect salute. “Lieutenant.”
“Ma’am,” Jess says and steps towards the door, nodding at Poe. “I’ll leave you to it.”
General Organa turns to look at Finn, her hand brushing over Poe’s arm in comfort. “How is he?” she asks, like she’s not getting daily updates - one of the medics told him the general wanted to be informed of all changes in the patient’s status. That’s something that has remained unchanged since the day he met her - no matter her own personal losses, she’s always looking out for everyone else.
“There’s cause for cautious optimism, I’ve been told.” He’s beginning to think the phrase, offered by at least three different medics, means that they have no idea why Finn isn’t waking up and have run out of guesses.
Organa’s mouth twitches in a soft smile. “You’ll be glad to hear we’ve secured a new source of bacta. The first shipment is on the way, if everything goes well it’ll be here in three days.”
“That’s…” great news doesn’t begin to cover it, they’ve been struggling with a bacta shortage for months now. “Thank you.”
“Oh, don’t thank me yet, I have a big favour to ask of you.”
“Anything,” he tells her honestly, because there’s no question of that. “The recon mission?” he hazards and the general looks at him askance.
“Good to know the grapevine is working,” she says lightly. “We’ve been monitoring First Order activity and their movement on Sullust is worrying. We need…”
“Of course,” he says simply, even though he glances back at Finn before he can stop himself. Finn’s breathing is even, chest rising and falling. Cautious optimism, they’ve said, and well out of danger, but…
“You could stay, rest,” General Organa says softly, reaching out to fix the lapels of his jacket. His mother used to do that, a habit he found comforting. He wonders if General Organa knows this. “I’ve asked enough of you.”
“Anything you need, General,” he tells her. It’s still true, even if it doesn’t come as easy as it did before, even if something in his gut turns at the thought of leaving now.
He doesn’t really feel like considering the reasons why, not with Finn’s heartbeat loud in his ears.
Sullust is a bust, the Order already gone by the time they reach it. They get shreds of intel from the natives and it feels like playing catch up again. They hadn’t known about the Starkiller base until it was almost too late, and even with the recon they would have failed if not for Solo and Chewbacca, if not for Rey, if not for Finn.
His chest tightens when he thinks of Finn, something electric in his veins, and this is so inconvenient, so out of place, but he can’t even will himself to put a stop to it. Trouble is, it’s not even an attraction, that he’d be able to deal with easily, in one of the few tried and tested ways. But even though the man is attractive, that’s clear enough, the warmth and the worry and the uncontrollable pull were there before he even thought to look properly.
(Once he did look, that was a different story.)
Someone kicks his ankle and he looks up to see Pava, sitting in the freighter’s co-pilot seat, mouth ‘wow’ at him.
“Sorry, did you say something? I was tuning you out,” he tells her and ignores the glare she sends his way.
It’s late evening when they land, the pad all but empty, with a skeleton crew and one tiny, very excitable droid rolling towards them and beeping at the top of whatever serves as its little mechanical lungs.
“You’re lucky you’re cute,” Jess says darkly as she almost gets rolled over.
Poe doesn’t catch what she says next, because what BB-8 is saying is that Poe needs to hurry because Finn woke up. He almost breaks into a run before he remembers to look at Jess, who shrugs at him. “Go, I’ll handle the debrief.”
“I owe you,” he tells her, even though he knows fully well she will collect in some terrible manner, and she flashes him a thumbs up. His answering gesture is careless and hurries as he runs after BB-8 towards the med bay.
The medic in attendance is the one he likes the most, the one who answers all questions as patiently the first and the sixth time. She gives him a look when he rushes in, her arms crossed over her chest pointedly.
“Is he…?” Finn’s still asleep, lying on the same bed, but he’s no longer hooked to the controls, Poe can’t hear his heartbeat filling the room.
“He woke up yesterday, made a terrible fuss until we told him Rey was safe and away.”
Poe nods, short fingernails digging into his palm to keep himself from reaching out to Finn. “Didn’t make you call up witnesses?”
“Close enough, and then we went through the same process again when he asked about you,” she tells him and digs into a drawer before tossing a packet of gel at him. “Clean up a little at least, Dameron. You can use the cot if you want to stay,” she points with her chin, then crosses her arms again. “Try not to disturb my patient too much, or drive my personnel crazy again.”
He recalls her name now, Rahna. She barely reaches his shoulder and must be about five years younger than him, but damn if she isn’t terrifying. He does like her. Not to mention she was the one on duty after he stumbled back from Jakku and she doesn’t look at him differently after that.
“Sure thing, doctor.”
He settles in, BB-8 rolling to his side, humming companionably.
There’s a familiar thumping in Poe’s ears but it takes him a moment to identity it as his own heartbeat, loud and rushed. The excitement and disappointment of missing Finn waking up mixes with the sharp sting of realisation that he woke up to unfamiliar faces.
Poe never had any trouble making friends, it’s as easy as breathing - he likes most people he meets, unless they’re First Order, or assholes, or First Order assholes. And most people he meets, unless they’re First Order assholes and/or trying to kill him before greetings are exchanged, seem to like him well enough. Sure, he has his dickish moments, and it has been insinuated that his ego is not always his most attractive feature, but he hopes he makes up for that, most of the time.
The thing here is, he’s a friendly guy and he makes friends easily. And he’s never had any trouble in the love life department either - in his Republic service days or in the Resistance it’s always been simple, fun, uncomplicated.
This… thing, this softness unfurling in his chest, this anxious and exhilarating feeling stirring in him, this is new and terrifying and amazing at the same time. It’s a little bit like flying and a little bit like crashing down.
Rahna pokes up her head from behind the little screen hiding her desk from the patient area and throws a blanket at him wordlessly. Poe nods his thanks and makes himself comfortable on the cot, kicking off his shoes.
He’s not sure when he falls asleep or how long he stays out of it, but it’s still dark when he wakes up, feeling the weight of somebody watching him.
The paranoia really kicked up a notch since Jakku, his sleep much lighter than it used to be. But he still goes from asleep to fully woken up in less than a second, years of military service made sure of that. He sits up and looks into Finn’s concerned gaze, smiling instinctively.
It takes a moment for Finn’s worry to smoothen out into an answering grin. “Are you okay?” he asks.
Poe gives him a considering look. “Isn’t that my line? You’re the one who scared us by refusing to wake up.”
“I just… You’re here in med bay.” The worst part of it is how honest, how earnest the question is, because apparently Finn cannot conceive of a reason why Poe would be subjecting himself to the uncomfortable med bay cot.
He really has no idea, does he.
“He just loves being a nuisance,” Rahna says, appearing from behind her screen. Poe makes a show of winking at her and smiling broadly and she rolls her eyes at the antics. “I told you he’ll be back the moment they land, Mr Finn,” she adds, peering over the computer screen next to Finn’s bed.
Finn flusters, shaking his head. “I’m not… it’s just Finn.”
“I’ve heard,” she says pleasantly, throwing Poe a quick glance he isn’t quite sure how to interpret. Was he babbling after Jakku? Or was it one of the nights here in med bay once they brought Finn in? “Vitals within range, pulse slightly elevated. Pain level?”
“I’m fine,” Finn says quickly and she clucks her tongue.
“Not what I asked. On a scale of one to ten, ten being that time you took lightsaber to your spine.”
“Uhm, three?” Finn hazards. Poe can see her little pad and she takes it down as five, which seems just about right.
“Well, the good news is you’ll live. The bad news is, even after you get out of here you might be stuck with that one,” she says, flicking her thumb at Poe, who gives a good go at his most wounded expression, hand over his heart. Her lips twitch and she reaches out, and for a moment it seems like she might try and ruffle his hair, but she resorts to hitting his arm instead.
“What happened to do no harm, doctor?”
“You did,” she grins smugly and turns back to Finn. “We’ll run the full test screen tomorrow, but you’ll probably be out in a couple of days, bacta does work wonders and we’ve been lucky enough to get the shipment in time.”
She sends Poe one more look before heading back out, fingers moving quickly over her pad. Unfortunately, he can hazard a guess what the looks are about and it’s a little discomforting how transparent he apparently is.
“You wanted to see me?” Finn asks, a hint of confusion and surprise in his tone, and apparently, Poe’s not transparent enough.
Good, probably. This might be the last thing Finn needs at the moment.
He shrugs and stretches out, legs under Finn’s bed. There’s a number of responses he could go with, all of them true but with various degrees of honesty. He could hide easily, but it’s been a long day and a long week and Finn deserves better.
“Of course. I’m sorry I wasn’t here when you first woke up.”
“It’s fine, you have more important things to do,” he says matter-of-factly, accepting. It’s not about him, Poe realises, or rather, not just about him. It’s about Finn’s life in the order that made friendship and loyalty seem alien, inconceivable.
It’s even worse because Finn seems to be a natural at both, something Poe has been sure since the moment on the Order’s destroyer.
Still, not really about him right now. Probably more about Rey, to be honest.
“Important, yes, the degree is debatable,” he offers. “Don’t worry, you’ll get sick of us yet.”
“Me and Rey definitely, I don't know how big this is gonna get, you might have other fans, but she’s been here every day until she had to leave, so probably will be back the moment she returns. Of course, by then we might have managed to spring you out, so we won’t bother the good doctors here.”
He waits for a beat in case Rahna is eavesdropping, but no comment comes from behind the screen.
Finn’s smile, meanwhile, is blinding, even if a little uneven, as he’s clearly fighting sleep. Poe reaches out to pat his hand, ignoring the way his fingers itch at the points of contact. “Go to sleep, you need the rest.”
“Can’t promise I’ll be here when you wake up, buddy, but I’ll be back, count on it.”
Finn is still smiling when his eyes close and his breathing evens out. Poe shakes his head at himself and settles in once again. He might have to be up at first light, a few hours away, but if Finn happens to wake up during the night once more, he wants to be here.
Next day he’s busy with the Sullust follow-up, and then with looking over the roster, trying to integrate the new pilots into their training routine, but during lunchtime he steals Nien’s deck of cards and gets additional pastries from the mess. Jace, who’s on mess duty today, gives him a dark look, then rolls his eyes at Poe’s best charming smile, but he’s smiling back and doesn’t even say a thing when Poe grabs two mugs of caf as well.
Finn still looks a little surprised to see him, but it’s gone quickly enough as they make their way through the food and Poe explains the rules of sabacc. It turns out, to no one’s surprise, that Finn has no game face to speak of. Poe was determined to just teach him so he could start winning on his own, but right now he’s actually considering letting the man win, because this is ridiculous.
The day after that Poe’s in the command centre when the transmission from the Millennium Falcon comes in, Rey bright-eyed and a little shaken as she reports she found Skywalker. Poe is breaking into a run the moment she starts speaking, and probably gives Finn and the medics a right scare, rushing in like they’re under attack.
By the time they reach the command, Finn is out of breath and grinning widely, and Rey has relinquished the message to the man who must be Luke Skywalker, though his face seems to have been eaten by a hairy creature of some kind.
The last time Poe saw him was years ago, must have been the Rogue Squadron anniversary shindig and Antilles’ promotion party, the one where they pulled all the stops. Poe has been a newly minted Lieutenant and Skywalker definitely didn’t have the scary beard.
Someone makes an embarrassingly excited noise, and it seems to have a weird echo as Rey pounces back into the frame, all but trampling Skywalker, who shakes his head with a grin.
General Organa is smiling widely, like she used to. “I think we’re done for now, why don’t we let these young people catch up. Good to see you, Luke,” she adds quietly and steps back, same as Skywalker, Rey filling the frame and Finn stepping forward instinctively, his grin bright like the sun.
The room slowly empties but they don’t even seem to notice, lost in chatter that resembles a dance, or a sparring match, one talking over the other excitedly, Rey retelling the last moments on the Starkiller base and asking about Finn’s recovery, which he obligingly recounts.
Poe can’t help but smile at them as he turns to head out after Wexley does but he only manages two steps before Rey calls out after him. “Poe, hey.”
“Rey, hey,” he echoes, rising his hand in greeting and laughing at himself. “Sorry. It’s good to see you.”
Finn steps to the left a little, turning slightly to look at him, and Poe steps forward, shoulder to shoulder with him. Rey grins at him, sharp and sweet, and Finn asks her about the Falcon and somehow this turns into Rey and Finn retelling their escape from Jakku for Poe’s benefit, talking over one another, and this turns into Finn making Poe tell them what happened in the air during the attack on the Starkiller base.
When Rey disconnects they’re all grinning and the room is eerily empty and quiet. Finn huffs a laugh again, still a little out of breath, a little unsteady on his feet, and Poe starts looking around for a chair to pull up.
Finn’s hand on his shoulder stops him in his tracks, warm and broad and steady. He can feel the heat through the layers of his jacket and shirt, and he glances into Finn’s eyes and can’t look away.
“Thank you,” Finn tells him earnestly.
“I knew you both needed to talk,” Poe shrugs and Finn’s fingers tighten, dig into his jacket, insistent. “Rey’s great,” he adds, knowing it’ll make Finn smile.
“She is,” he agrees happily. “And man, you’re amazing.”
Poe doesn’t know what to do with that, with the way his heart lurches and his stomach turns, something scratchy in his throat when he tries to speak.
He could act instead of speaking, he could lean in, breach the mere inches between them and taste the smile on Finn’s lips.
BB-8 rolls in down the stairs, making a racket and whirring indignantly, telling Poe off for not notifying him that Rey was calling. Poe steps back, running his hand through his hair, shaking his head at the droid and apologising for the infraction. Finn is promising that next time he’ll let BB-8 know and Poe isn’t quite sure when this happened, when he started to have to share the custody of the droid, but here they are.
The next few days are spent on packing the base up - they’ve finally found a good replacement and the Ileenium system is no longer safe and secure. The First Order might have been dealt a severe blow when the Starkiller base was destroyed, but they’ll rally soon enough and this is the first place they’ll come knocking.
Still, the mood on the base remains the one of careful optimism, everyone still riding the aftereffects of the victory, and even the need to run is not putting a damper on that. Especially since their new home might even be an improvement, environment wise. The older soldiers are muttering that everything is better than Hoth, but something worse could probably be found in a pinch.
Resistance equals living light by necessity, no one really has much in terms of personal belongings, but they still need to be packed. Finn’s belongings fit in one bag - the change of clothes Resistance provided him with, Poe’s old jacket and the sweater he forced on Finn when he noticed the man shivering a little in the medbay, a couple of datapads and a gun he got from Solo are pretty much all he has. Compared to that, Poe’s belongings seem to be incredibly numerous, especially the couple of knick-knacks he’s picked up from all over.
They spend an evening packing those up, Finn’s initial careful questions turning into an enthusiastic enquiry, Poe telling stories from the early days of Resistance and those from even earlier, and all the trouble he used to get into during training.
“I swear to you, I think even Janson was impressed,” he recalls as Finn hides his face in his hands, shoulders shaking with laughter. “Captain Antilles said that definitely wasn’t the standard we should aim for.”
“You didn't get written up? I’d have…” Finn stops, a trace of laughter in his tone fading quickly, his hands twitching before he digs his fingers into the material of his pants.
Cold shiver runs down Poe’s spine and he puts down the model ship he was holding into the box. “I guess prank wars are not a time-honoured tradition in the Order, huh?”
Finn shrugs. “Not unless you wanted to get send for reprogramming. Or… you know.”
He doesn’t really, but the scenarios he can think of are pretty damn grim. Finn’s face has gone blank, eerily calm, and that’s the most scary thing. Poe isn’t sure what he expects to see, anger would be appropriate, maybe. Instead, when he speaks about his past with the First Order, Finn sounds matter-of-fact, almost accepting.
There’s so many things Poe wants to show him, wants to tell him, and he doesn’t even know where to start.
“You should move in with me,” he blurts out instead, because he’s apparently an idiot. “I mean, on the new base, we should talk to the quartermaster about bunking together.”
“Isn’t having your own space a big advantage of a command?” Finn asks and yeah, Poe might have mentioned something like that when he was showing Finn his quarters for the first time. What did he say, idiot.
“It is, and I would not go back to bunking with Wexley for the world. Or Jess, she’d kill me in my sleep, I’m certain of it,” he grins and hopes it doesn’t come out as manic as he feels, heart racing in his chest. “But it’s different with you,” he says and prays to whoever might be listening that he doesn’t have to elaborate on that one. “Unless you snore, then I rescind my offer.”
“I don’t think I do,” Finn says slowly, thoughtfully. The corners of his mouth lift in an excited smile and he’s nodding already. “Yeah, sure.”
“Really? I mean, you could probably swing your own place if you played the hero card right.”
Why is Poe trying to talk him out of this once he talked him into it? Probably because maybe he has the last remnants of self-preservation instinct and knows deep down that living with Finn is only going to make this worse.
Unfortunately, he doesn’t care, he’ll risk it.
“I don’t think I’m in the league with the best pilot in the Resistance,” Finn says, teasing and too serious at the same time and yeah, did Poe mentioned he’s pretty much done for?
“Buddy, trust me, you’re in a league of your own.” His cheeks are flushing and he sounds strange to his own ears, like he’s out of breath. Fortunately Finn doesn’t seem to notice, rolling his eyes good-naturedly and reaching for the next box and tape.
Poe doesn’t sleep well since Jakku.
That’s an understatement on two levels at least. First, there wasn’t much time to sleep properly since Jakku, what with the whole map mess and then the attack, followed by the vigil at Finn’s bedside and then the busy schedule of the battle’s aftermath and the transfer to the new base.
Second, when he does actually sleep and sleep properly, not napping when he finds the time or crashing from exhaustion, he usually wakes up drenched in sweat and shaking from the memory of a foreign presence in his mind, rummaging and reshaping, sharp and cold like steel.
There was nothing careful or artful about it, it wasn’t a surgical strike, it was messy and brutal, probing and cutting. All the techniques for withstanding interrogation proved useless in seconds, there was no defence, just pain and all of his worst memories, ugliest thoughts, brought close to the surface.
He probably should have warned Finn before they started bunking together that this was a sad possibility, but it’s too late now, when he wakes up shivering and screaming, wide-eyed and breathing harshly. His eyes search the room to orient himself, to grasp for something familiar, for something real.
A hand grasps his, warm and broad, fingers lacing together. He holds on like a man drowning, looking up into Finn’s face. There’s concern in his eyes, yes, but also understanding and acceptance and words of explanation escape Poe’s tongue but it doesn’t matter.
He holds on.
For the life of him, Poe has no idea why he keeps picking Pava for undercover missions.
Alright, he does. She speaks more languages than him and is calm under pressure, even if she spends most of the time when they’re not under pressure making fun of him.
They have a couple of hours before they’re supposed to meet their contact on Nar Shadaa, and somehow this turns into a shopping trip. Fine, Poe turns it into a shopping trip, because it’s their first time off base in a long while and a chance to get things that don’t go through the quartermaster.
Jess has a list of requests, or rather demands, from the rest of their squadron, and Poe has a mission - find a gift for Finn.
He’s pretty sure Jess has been laughing at him for the past three hours, but it’s proving to be much more difficult than he initially expected. On one hand, Finn has so very little in the way of possessions it should be fairly easy to buy him something. On the other, he seems to need little and want even less, his side of the room empty of clutter and neat, shaming Poe into folding his damn clothes every evening.
He did seem to like Poe’s model ships, so maybe…
“For fuck’s sake, stop agonising and get him some fucking flowers,” Jess mutters before biting into some kind of street food on a stick he isn’s so sure about even though it does smell great.
“I have no idea what you mean,” he says with as much dignity as he can muster, which admittedly is not much, because he really has no leg to stand on here. “Also, how’s your love life?”
She all but cackles and he realises the tactical error of saying love life. Fuck.
“Okay, I’m gonna let this one go, Dameron, but only because you have it real bad. Now, how about a modded scope for a rifle? He could use one.”
“Personal,” he corrects flatly and she rolls her eyes.
“You say Ewok, I say Wookie.”
“Very much not the same thing.”
“Exactly, because you’re doing this wrong. Flowers, Dameron, can’t go wrong with flowers.”
He crosses his arms and tilts his head at her. He gives in, denial isn’t getting him anywhere. “What if he’s allergic?”
“Okay, could go wrong with flowers, how about…” she stops and turns, suddenly very engrossed in one of the stands. The hair on the back of his neck stands up in the same way it happens sometimes when he just knows his fighter is lined up in someone’s targeting system.
“We’re being watched,” he mutters through his teeth and picks up a bauble from display, showing it to her with a smile.
“On your nine, I’d say. Any chance it’s out contact jumping the gun on the meeting?”
“Doesn’t look like her description,” Poe mutters. Their tail is a slim man with a face of someone from the core systems, not a female devaronian smuggler, for one. “Alright, Pava, break on three, backup location in twenty. Try not to cause a scene.”
“You love it, boss,” she tells him and turns abruptly, throwing her hands up. “Thief!” she yells, pointing somewhere in the crowd and breaking into a run. Poe uses the commotion to slip behind the stall and into an alley - between the two of them Jess has a better chance of losing the tail, she’s tiny and scarily fast, he’ll need more subtlety than that.
There’s a sound of blaster shot behind him and a sadly unmistakable whine of TIE engines somewhere above.
Apparently it’s not the most subtle of days.
A stolen speeder, a chase, some destruction of property and one slight concussion later there’s a blind alley and a blur of a girl, wielding a lightsaber of all things.
“Okay, run,” she yells before pulling on Poe’s hand insistently. He doesn’t have to be told twice, hot on her heels as she runs towards the back of the alley, climbing up an unsteady rigging with grace and skill he doesn’t quite possess as he scrambles to keep up.
He lets her climb first and turns to cover her, picking out the men shooting at them. He gets a searing pain in his shoulder for his trouble before Rey is pulling him up by the other arm.
“I’m not alone,” he tells her when they stop for a moment on one of the flat roofs, assessing the situation. “Pava will be waiting in the safehouse, I need to…”
Rey tosses him a commlink. “It should be secure, message her. Hangar bay seven should be good.”
He’s used enough to obeying orders in the field as much as he’s used to giving them, and she seems to know what she’s doing. Also, she has a lightsaber, so the lady’s clearly in charge here. He thumbs the commlink to the Blue’s regular frequency, hoping Pava’s is still active, and transmits a brief message. The comm clicks twice in response, an acknowledgement.
“What are you doing here?” he asks Rey. She’s the last person he’s expected to run into on Nar Shadaa of all places, not that he isn’t really fucking glad to see her.
She shrugs, biting her lip. “Long story, vision quest.”
He blinks at her. “Seriously?”
“Pretty much, tell you all about it later? Run now.”
“Yes, ma’am,” he tosses her a salute and she’s grinning even though she’s rolling her eyes.
They get to the hangar right before Jess does, and it’s not quite as empty as Rey has hoped, but between the three of them (mostly Rey, though they do help) they reach the freighter.
Poe and Rey collide on their way to the pilot seat and Jess covers her mouth to keep from laughing. He stares back at Rey and then rummages through his pocket. “Tell you what, I’ll flip you for it,” he says, turning the coin between his fingers.
Thirty seconds later he’s strapping into the gunner seat and thinking that a game of chance against a damn Jedi in training wasn’t the smartest thing he’s ever done.
In comparison to some other things he’s done it wasn’t that low on the scale, but definitely not the smartest.
“I would buy her flowers,” Jess tells him dreamily before she takes the co-pilot seat and Poe doesn’t really know what to do with that one.
A few hours later, as Rey makes the landing approach on the base, Jess joins Poe in the cramped little space of what passes for communal space on the freighter, and nods at him, tossing him a bacta packet he applies to the shoulder. “Well, it’s one way to go about a gift. Bring his best friend home, well done.”
He points his chin at her in mock-indignation. “What am I, then?” he asks, and it comes out less like a joke than he intended it to be. He’s not quite sure how they fit, the three of them, he’s not quite sure where things stand between Finn and Rey. He’s even less certain of what’s happening between him and Finn. He knows what he wants, sure, but he’ll take friendship and call himself lucky for it.
“Forgive the insubordination,” Jess mutters and he gives her a look - since when was that stopping her from saying what she thought he needed to hear, “but you’re really dense sometimes.”
Maybe. But he clearly isn’t as brave as he thought himself to be. It used to be so easy, to approach someone, to take a risk and put himself out there, to flirt. He knows now that’s because before he didn’t have anything to lose.
He probably wouldn’t lose Finn’s friendship, he knows better than that. But he could lose the maybes and the somedays he took to daydreaming about, and that’s scary enough.
The ship shakes minutely when it touches the ground, smooth and easy under Rey’s command. Jess heads out, calling out to Rey to hurry up, and Poe follows them, picking up his discarded jacket, only slightly torn and with a blaster fire burn on the shoulder.
There’s a number of people on the tarmac, but Poe only sees one, running at speed with BB-8 hot on his heels, whirring happily. It dances around Finn and Rey when they embrace, Finn picking her up and spinning her around joyfully as she laughs and buries her face in his shoulder.
“What are you even doing here? I didn’t know you were coming! Did we know you were coming?”
“Vision quest, long story,” she says, laughing and hitting him on the shoulder until he puts her down. “Ran into Poe, saved his ass, he took a blaster shot for me, we stole a freighter and here we are,” she bends down to run her hand over BB-8’s head affectionately, getting a series of happy beeps in response.
“Apparently not that long,” Jess mutters behind him while Poe finds himself under Finn’s searching glare.
“You got shot?” he asks indignantly, looking Poe up and down for a sign of injury.
“Just my shoulder and just a graze, she’s exaggerating.”
“Only the injury, not the bravery,” Jess chimes in and he turns to look at her.
“You weren’t even there.”
“Rude,” she tells him.
Finn steps closer, his hands careful as he pushes Poe’s jacket off his shoulders, looking up at him to make sure it’s alright. Poe wouldn’t dare move for the world. “I’m fine,” he says quietly as Finn inspects the patch. “I need to debrief the General, meet you for dinner?” he asks before tearing his gaze from Finn and looking at Jess and Rey, making sure to include them in this.
“I’ll go with you, I need to speak to General Organa anyway,” Rey volunteers. Poe nods and wills himself to step away from Finn.
There’s something about the look Rey is giving him when they head for the command centre, small smile in the corner of her mouth, that unnerves him and comforts him at the same time. “What?” he asks and her smile grows wider.
“I never had a place to come back to before,” she tells him in the same earnest manner Finn has sometimes, so matter-of-fact about the past, amazed at the thought of the present and the future. “It’s good to have this. You both… he looks better.”
“I should hope so, when you left he was still in a coma,” he shoots lightly, even though he knows what she means.
Rey chooses to ignore his evasive manoeuvres, probably for the best. “You… look better too.”
They’ve reached their destination but he stops in the doorway to look at her. “That’s not what you were going to say.”
“No,” she agrees, tilting her head at him. “Though I do love the look,” she teases gently and he rolls his eyes, because he’s still wearing what passes for civilian clothes on Nar Shadaa, and that style comes with a little too much leather. “You feel like your feet touch the ground now,” she tells him, and as cryptic as it is, she sounds more sure than before, earnest.
“Let me guess, that from your vision?”
“It’s all over your face, Poe,” she tells him softly. “He’s helped me find my home, and I think you helped him find his.”
“That sounds like something from a vision,” he mutters and reaches out to catch her hand, squeezing gently. “I’m glad you’re back,” he tells her.
“So am I.”
The day before Rey is supposed to leave again, to go back to Skywalker and continue her training, they steal out for half a day to the lake twenty clicks away. Rey and Poe make it a speeder race, with Finn holding on to Rey and laughing when she heads straight for the trees before turning abruptly right before the potential collision every time.
Poe wins by the slightest margin and doesn’t even gloat that much. Mostly because he has the slightest suspicion she might have let him win, he’s not sure how does it work when Force is your co-pilot.
“It’s time to spill, Rey,” he says when they’re sprawled on the blankets, Rey’s head pillowed on Finn’s stomach, Finn’s legs thrown over Poe’s. “How is it really, training with Skywalker?”
“Strange,” she says immediately, “but then again, not at all? A lot of things started to make sense. It’s still all jumbled up,” she touches her forehead, makes a circling motion with her fingers. “But it’s like remembering something you only know from a dream.”
Poe thinks it over and nods. “Sure, that explains it all.”
“Yeah, I know exactly what you mean,” Finn chimes in, matching his tone to Poe’s. Rey reaches out to pinch them both and then rises to sit up, legs folded under her.
“You know, Luke says he met you once,” she tells Poe. “Some squadron anniversary?”
“No way,” Poe thinks his jaw has dropped pretty low. “He remembers that? That was ages ago, I just made Lieutenant and…”
“This is gonna be an Antilles story,” Finn mutters to Rey. “I think I’ve heard them all. Twice.”
“Shut up, they were in the same squadron for a couple of years.”
“Poe, we know.” Finn reaches out to pat the back of his hand. His fingers stay there, Poe’s skin itching at the points of contact. He wants to turn his hand palm up, catch Finn’s fingers in his.
He catches Rey’s gaze, steady and kind, and he looks down at Finn’s hand before slowly turning his. Their fingers lace together. Finn doesn’t look down, he’s asking Rey about how long she’ll be away this time, but there’s a smile in the corner of his mouth, his voice a little deeper than usual.
Poe runs his thumb over Finn’s knuckles and things about maybes and somedays. He’s turning them into yes and today.
They give Rey a small going away party she didn’t really get before, not with the grief and elation in equal measures after the destruction of Starkiller base. The three of them, Poe’s squadron and a small number of the ground crew. Rahna from the medbay and the nurse Rey seems to be on good terms with. Admiral Statura makes a brief appearance before announcing he’s leaving partying to the young and heading out.
He’s just a couple years older than Poe, Jess points out. He’s younger than Wexley, if you want to get specific and a little mean.
“Jess, how about you drink and shut up?” Poe asks pleasantly and shares some of his carefully hidden corellian whiskey he’s decided to break out tonight.
“You’re a walking cliche, Dameron,” she says but downs the proffered drink in one go, coughing up a storm and gesturing at her empty glass impatiently. She turns to Rey, who’s squished in between Finn and Poe, peering suspiciously at her glass before sniffing it. “So, how does the vision thing work anyway? The Force told you Poe’s in deep shit and needs rescuing?”
The curiosity and excitement in her voice resonates with others around the table, judging by the way they all shift, lean in closer. Meta even puts her chin on her hands, eyes shining. After all, a lot of them grew up on the stories, and there’s one about the Cloud City and Skywalker arriving because he sensed his friends in trouble.
Some even know the other part of the story, the part where General Organa turned the Falcon back to get him.
Rey shifts under the weight of all the gazes and Poe clears his throat, ready to give her an out. “I was doing fine, Pava, I could have stayed alive for at least five minutes more, I’ll let you know.”
Rey huffs something that might be a laugh and straightens a little, immediately drawing all the attention back. “It wasn’t quite like that. Nar Shadaa was actually following up on something, I started by going back to Jakku.” She’s evasive enough that they know not to ask for details, they’ve all been on both sides of classified often enough.
“Why does everyone want to go back?” Jess mutters instead and Poe shoots her a look, because they’re not talking about his brief panic mode after he got off that planet and his insistence that once everything was squared away they went looking for Finn and for BB-8. Jess ignores him, as she is wont to do whenever they’re not on a mission or in the cockpit.
“Past and future are jumbled up sometimes,” Rey shrugs. “I needed to go back.”
“I don’t think we’re meant to understand this, Pava,” Poe tells her, refilling her glass. “But for what it’s worth, I’m grateful you ended up where you did,” he adds, glancing sideways at Rey.
“Anytime,” she grins and looks down, making a decision. She closes her eyes and scrunches her nose when she gulps some of her drink. “Why would you drink this.”
“I can show you, but you’ll need to drink a little more,” Jess says quietly enough that Poe thinks it doesn’t carry to Rey, but the girl looks up sharply, a flicker of a smile, and raises her glass to inspect it thoughtfully again.
Half an hour later she and Jess have their heads together as Jess gestures widely, recounting some story and occasionally making laser noises and Poe shakes his head at her before climbing out of the window onto the scaffolding set by the maintenance crew.
“You’re awfully quiet today,” he tells Finn, sitting down and handing him a flask of water.
“If this is more alcohol, I’m gonna pass. They’ve had strict rules against alcohol consumption and I’m beginning to think it’s one thing they were right about that one.” He doesn't have to say who ‘they’ were and Poe feels a small pang of guilt at not considering it might have been Finn’s first drink ever.
“The trick is to not let Snap mix your drinks. And it’s just water.”
“Thanks,” he says and gulps down a good half of it in one go, head thrown back and neck exposed. Poe bites his lip and looks out towards the forest and the lights of the landing pad right in front of it.
Neither of them is usually prone to long silences, but the quiet now is comfortable, punctuated by the muffled sounds of the party winding down behind them. Poe stretches his legs and leans against the wall. In the small space of the makeshift balcony his thigh is pressed against Finn’s.
Finn’s head rolls back, eyes closed, a little frown between his brows, possibly from an alcohol-induced headache. “You okay there, buddy?”
“I will be, I think. It’s just… I’m worried if…” he frowns a little more in frustration, mouth working around words that don’t come out.
“She’ll be back. And she can more than take care of herself.”
“Yeah, I’ve noticed that,” Finn says with the same grin he always wears when he talks about Rey. “That’s not what I was going to say.” His hand grasps Poe’s and they’ve done this before, they’ve been at this point before, but this isn’t a hospital, it isn’t an after mission elation, it isn’t the middle of the night after a hell of a nightmare.
This is a calm night and their friends are inside laughing and Finn’s eyes are dark and shining and his smile is soft.
“So, how drunk are you?” Poe asks, pretty proud of how level his voice is.
“Not that much, I’ve passed into the other thing. It’s less fun,” Finn shrugs.
“Snap’s drinks will get you,” he nods sagely, his thumb moving over Finn’s knuckles. “Never drink anything Rodian, and nothing that has ‘surprise’ in its name. Or that is a vague sexual entendre.”
“Hey, Poe?” Finn asks dryly and yeah, Poe might have gone into the babble mode, happens to the best of us.
He never learns what Finn was going to say because he seems to have thought better of it, biting his lip on the words and leaning in, agonisingly slowly. Poe licks his dry lips and exhales softly, a puff of air against Finn’s mouth, and then they’re crawling into each other’s space even more, hands still clasped tightly.
“Hey, Dameron, wake up,” Jess’ head pops out of the window. “We’ve been looking for you, we’re going to wave at Rey’s ship as she flies away even though there’s no way she sees us when we do, so we’ll just stand on the tarmac like idiots. Wanna join us?”
He runs his hand over his face and looks down at Finn, whose head is pillowed on his chest, hands tangled in Poe’s undershirt. He seems to have lost his shirt somewhere and when he looks down, he finds that it landed on a small tree under the scaffolding.
He’s never gonna hear the end of it.
He doesn’t give a damn, to be honest.
“Yeah, we’ll be there, give us a moment.”
“Kay,” she agrees and makes no movement to go away, her eyes searching as they flick between him and Finn. “Hey, how’s the boyfriend?”
“Why don’t you ask him yourself?” he shoots back happily, tugging on Finn’s hand. “Hey, buddy, wake up.”