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Cold Hands Warm Heart

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It was common to be up late on D’Qar. The sun set early, and the ‘mess hall would be filled not long after that. A huge urn sat against one wall dispensing hot water, flavoured with a handful of leaves and almost brown enough to be called tea. Countless mugs were downed, over warm conversation, laughter, maybe even a card game or two.

Rey was wedged into a chair next to the scuffed chrome of the urn, two hands wrapped around a full mug. She stayed in position as everyone said their good-nights, tossed dregs down the sink, filtered out.

“Heading to bed?” Finn asked. He would walk her to her quarters, if she asked.

“No, I’m going to sit up a little longer.” She smiled up at him, a reassurance, almost hugging the tea into her chest, making herself small.

Finn looked at her arm almost resting against the warmth of the urn. He could feel it the heat of it against his face from where he stood.

“Alright,” he acquiesced with a half-shrug. He knew better than to argue with her.

___

Poe couldn’t help but notice that Rey looked tired. Animatedly discussing the differences between the T-85 and the newer T-70’s with Jessika Pava across the hangar, but tired. Her desert tan seemed to be fading unnaturally fast, and the dark circles that started under her eyes were threatening to take over her whole face.

He also couldn’t help but notice that she was mostly still wearing the same clothes she’d arrived in. There was a jacket over the top of her loose desert gear, sure, but even as he watched, Rey cracked open a panel on Jessika’s T-70 and shrugged off the woollen overcoat impatiently. He could even see the bare skin of her calves peeping over the top of her sensible booties, despite the wide door of the hangar standing open and a steady cold wind streaming through.

He half shook his head, turning away. He wasn’t sure why he was observing her. He barely knew her. 

Well... he knew that she had an almost uncanny knack for the mechanical. Plus, BB-8 definitely liked her. He could easily see she was slotting in with his crew like she was born to it. And there was this liquid grace about her… and those cheekbones.

He was staring again. She looked cold.

__

Finn was trailing Rey as she unleashed a steady stream of excited technobabble. She pushed open the door to her quarters and he followed. He only understood about one fifth of what she was saying, but he’d still listen to her all day.

The quarters were identical to Finn’s. Somewhat spare, single narrow mattress, but serviceable enough. He glanced around the small room. Her footlocker was shut, blankets still apparently inside, but the rest of the place was a wreck. The sheet and pillow looked like they’d been trampled. He had to take some spare parts off a stool to sit down.

“Don’t you use your blanket?” Finn asked. He reached over with his foot to half lift the lid of the chest, seeing the blankets jammed in there in a crumpled mess. He looked up at Rey, a question in his eyes.

“Can’t sleep with something…” She scuffed her feet, searching for words, “...on me.” She wouldn’t meet his eyes, voice lowered and Finn was trying not to gape in surprise at this strange new Rey demeanour.

“It’s itchy. I don’t know how people do it. I’ve never needed to before. It’s… urgh. It doesn’t matter.”

“But it’s cold at night!” He protested. He stood up as though to, to what, he didn’t know. To fist fight the sheer temperature of the evening? He’d do it if he could.

She looked up at him, and again he was struck by how pale she looked, how tired. He even heard it in her defeated voice. “I know. I know it is.”

If he’d been observing himself, Finn would have seen the look of determination fill his eyes. His lips pressed together, and suddenly that’s it, I’m gonna hug you, and no power in the galaxy can stop me was written all over his face. Rey’s thwarted face crinkled into a watery smile.

There was barely room for a single person between them in the tiny quarters, and he closed the distance between them in a half-step, folding Rey into his arms and rubbing warm circles over her back. She sighed, leaning into him.

Sometimes Finn felt like there was no way he could make a difference in this world. There were enemies he could not fight, friends he could not save… but this? He could make a difference in this.

___

Poe had been musing on it for days. But every one of those days, he’d seen Rey come down to work in the hangar looking more and more haggard. This morning she’d come down and he’d clapped a hand on her bare shoulder (and it was getting easier to touch her after this time working together, and he didn’t want to think about what that meant) but what he WAS thinking about was how cold she felt.

Good god but she was smart. Down the line of X-wings she’d gone, boosting power flow and other things he’d never even thought do. Nothing dented her enthusiasm for the work, and he knew it wasn’t any of his business but she’d just taken her jacket off again and she was practically translucent, and well, he was a good person! He wasn’t going to let this happen!

So, of course, he went to Finn. Screwed up all his courage, crumpled up all the images of the way she smiled when he’d touched her shoulder and jammed them into a little corner of his mind, and asked, “Does Rey look sick to you?”

Finn’s response was gloomy. He might as well have been swinging his feet. “She’s not sleeping at night. She can’t stand to have the blankets on her.”

Poe blinked. “But it’s cold at night !” he protested.

Finn just looked up, and gave a helpless what can you do shrug. “Jakku, remember?”

Poe plonked himself down, shoulder and thigh resting against Finn’s, because that’s just how things were. That, at least, was easy.

“Do you think that’s why she doesn’t seem to be able to wear a jacket for more than ten minutes, too?” He asked thoughtfully.

Finn, to his credit, didn’t stop to quiz Poe on his close observation of the girl. Poe was exceptionally relieved.

“That would make sense, yeah. She said it was too scratchy.” Finn sounded hopelessly defeated, as though they discussed a fate far heavier than a vivacious stray not getting enough sleep at night.

Poe, remembering the thick woollen jacket that had come from stores when Rey arrived, hummed thoughtfully.

“Have you still got the jacket I gave you?” He asked Finn. Poe slung one arm conspiratorially around Finn’s shoulders, pulling him in close. “I’ve got an idea.”

__

It took the Resistance technician mere seconds to replace the lining of The Jacket. It was a little worse for wear from being chewed up and spat out by Jakku, but the same could be said of its intended recipient. And the lining, a slippery satin, was as pleasing to the touch as fabric could be.

“You can’t just give it her, you know.” Finn pointed out practically. In a very passable imitation of Rey’s voice, he continued. “She’ll be all, ohh no, it’s fine, I’m fine, I don’t need your help or your jacket!” 

“I know that!” Poe said. She was courageous, she was stubborn… and he wasn’t overthinking this. Not at all.

Poe wore the jacket down to the hangar that day, sleeves rolled up a turn.

“Hey Big Shot,” Rey said, straightening from where she’d been working. Of course she’d gotten here before anyone else. It’s not like she had been asleep. She smiled and tilted her head, and Poe’s heart squeezed. Wan complexion and dark circles starting to look like moons, she was still… something to see. “You got your jacket back.”

“Yeah.” He subconsciously ran a hand down the worn leather. “Finn crashed with me last night. Watching movies, you know. He’s got a lot to catch up on.” Poe’s smile caught up with Rey’s, because aside from engines, the fact that they both loved Finn was the central pivot on which their relationship turned.

It was simple enough to wait for Rey to take off her big standard issue coat, and then “accidentally” spill coolant all over it. When he handed her The Jacket, she demurred, as Poe knew she would. “I couldn’t. It belongs to you and Finn!” she protested.

So do you. Poe sucked his breath back through his teeth, feeling gut punched by the clarity of the thought. He reeled, swallowed, pressed that wildly inappropriate feeling back. He’d had the next part of The Jacket handover all planned out, but instead he floundered, words stuck in his throat.

Jessika’s head popped up over the trashed Tie fighter they’d been studying. “Girl, would you please just put it on? I’m pretty sure one of these days you’re going to turn right into a snowflake and blow away.” As Rey laughed and caved, taking The Jacket from Poe’s hand’s, Jessika caught her commanding officer’s eyes over Rey’s head, winking cheekily. Poe went from flustered to downright panicky.

Rey slipped into the leather jacket easily. It was a little wide in the shoulders but otherwise a perfect fit. There was a look of marvel on her face as she mimicked Poe’s earlier action, patting an inquisitive hand down the leather of the jacket. She gripped both lapels, hugging them into herself, and shut her eyes, sighing out a huge breath of air.

“See, it works on you!” Poe practically shouted, words coming back to him in a flood, hoping that his cheeks were just looking pink with cold.

Rey’s face took on a familiar cast, lips pressed firm together and a steely glint in her eye. Poe was busy wondering where he’d seen that look before when Rey threw her arms around him, practically hauling him down into the hug.

___

“Want to watch a movie tonight? Poe’s been showing me this series, it’s about this pilot- I think he’s a bit biased- and he’s got his own pilot school and- anyway, it’s really good. I wouldn’t mind watching the first one again if you’re down.”

Rey had to take an extra half step to keep up with Finn’s as they strode down D’Qar base corridors. Without asking, Finn easily slung his arm around her shoulders and slowed. The leather of The Jacket felt worn under his fingers. It felt like safety.

“Sure! Where though? The two of us hardly fit in each other’s beds.” She looked sidelong at Finn, sensing something mischievous coming.

“Well,” he said with exaggerated innocence, “Poe’s quarters are pretty big.”

Rey huffed out a laugh and shot back. “Oh, and you would know, wouldn’t you?” Finn gave her a playful shove before settling his arm back around her shoulders.

“Well, I’d only be in the way then, wouldn’t I?” she teased, though there was a sharpness to it now. They hadn’t known each other long, but already Finn could read the tones beneath her voice. She was already shutting herself out, denying herself the friendship Finn so determinedly offered.

“Rey.” He entreated, suddenly sombre. He paused their stride, cutting in front so he could turn and look at her.

She could be so prickly. Half the time she yanked her hand away again, but he still offered it. “Hey,” he said softly, taking her by the shoulders. “You know you’re more than welcome.”

She half shrugged into his hands, pushing him off. But there was a small smile on her lips. She was learning to make room, to let Finn in. Sometimes she just took a little needling.

__

Finn was warm against Rey’s side, Poe over the other side. There was room enough for the three of them across Poe’s generous bed, though not enough to avoid the pleasant warmth of their legs together, shoulders touching.

She’d teased Poe when she first walked in, calling him Big Shot, hero of the resistance, wondering if there was anyone with a bigger cabin except General Organa. And for all that she’d heard about Poe (hot shot indeed, good with his hands in the X-Wing and out, would pilot anything if you know what I mean), he’d seemed nervous to have her there, hands fluttering as he invited her to sit, on the bed, if she liked, that is.

It put her at ease in a way that anything more practised would not have.

About midway through the movie, Finn extracted himself, awkwardly climbing down the bottom of the bed and muttering about the bathroom, ducking in front of the holoscreen.

Rey was suddenly bereft of the warmth beside her. She glanced over at Poe, a seemingly huge swathe of bed between them.

Poe returned the glance, and with tentative hope, no words, raised one arm, inviting her to cross the expanse. In the light of the holoscreen, Rey could see yearning, and yet something so uncertain in his eyes.

She slid across, settling against his side, not wanting to speak, keeping her eyes forward. She made no comment on the heartbeat she could feel hammering beneath Poe’s ribs, or the way he released his held breath. It was better not to speak, and besides, as he lowered his arm gently, so gently around Rey’s shoulders, she couldn’t help but let a sigh of her own go. He was so warm.

When Finn returned, he didn’t speak, not daring to comment either. But Rey swore she could see the flash of his broad grin in the darkness as he flumped back down in the empty space by Rey. He slid his arm around her, resting over Poe’s.

Rey, pressed on both sides by beating hearts, pumping blood, felt her tired eyes close, movie be damned. Her bones had been cold for just long enough to ache. They’d been lonely for as long as she could remember.  

That night she slept in the middle, a woollen blanket pulled taut between bodies beside her, in a warm little pocket of safety between them. Even wrapped in the oppressive heat of Jakku, she couldn’t remember a time where she’d ever felt so warm, right down to her core, or slept quite so well.