There’s probably a lot that Finn needs, now he’s conscious again, and probably half of it Poe is never going to be able to figure out, but at least he can tell him the stories.
Finn has never heard them. Not just stories of the first rebellion or the Old Republic, but any stories at all.
Finn, Poe discovers, does know names and designations – Luke Skywalker: Legendary Hero – the way he knows the name of every bone in his body, of each muscle and every type of blaster. He is primed for efficient communication of intel to others, who will do the thinking for him.
Poe doesn’t know why he’s surprised to learn this. When you think about it, it would be extraordinary if anything else were the case. The First Order might, just conceivably, feed its foot-soldiers some kind of propaganda, some sort of creation myth of their own for why they have to fight, but they’re certainly not going to be telling the tale of the Battle of Endor’s Moon in the way Poe knows it.
And as for another version, it would seem that The First Order thought the less the stormtroopers thought or felt anything, the better.
“I don’t know,” Finn says, and shrugs awkwardly, when Poe pushes him on a bit on what he was actually taught, growing up as FN-2187 along with all the other child troopers-in-training – at least, Poe assumes they were trained in groups. Finn won’t, or can’t, really talk about even that.
“Well what does anyone learn, growing up?” Finn protests to him, defensive. They’re working together on the engine of Poe’s X-wing, damaged in a skirmish when he was off scouting First Order activity in another star system.
When he’d gone to tell Finn – still in medical, then – that he was going off-world, Finn had clammed up and refused to talk to him for quite a while, until basically seconds before Poe was due to launch when he’d run out onto the landing strip, still in his med-bay clothes, and hugged Poe tightly enough to make breathing hard.
“They need to build an X-wing with a gunner position like in that TIE-fighter so I can come with you,” Finn had complained, cheek smushed into the side of Poe’s neck.
It’s quite likely that Finn is the most impossible and most delightful person Poe has ever met.
“I mean,” Finn is continuing now, still cranky, “I can do my dental hygiene, I know how to wash, I know how many calories you need in a day for normal and high activity. I know…” he shrugs, he’s looking irritable, and his welding is getting a bit haphazard. In another moment he flings the tools down to rest on the wing and sighs. “I know how to read and write Galactic Basic!” he says, and huffs. “What else is there?”
“How about a name?” Poe suggests, and then Finn winces and just looks sad.
Poe bites the inside of his mouth and wishes he’d bitten his tongue five seconds earlier.
He is so incredibly underqualified for this.
Poe was raised on Yavin 4, in a liberal community without much extra-systemic supervision, where things were – he knows now – very good indeed. Theirs was a lush, fertile planet, rich in resources and culture and he had two parents who were both around and always there for him. They took him on trips and taught him to cook and some evenings the three of them played music together. Outside their home, he had a huge number of playmates his own age, being one of many children conceived during the celebrations the night the first of the Empire’s super-killer ships was blown out of existence.
The son of a pilot and a commando who loved each other very deeply and chose to show it with near-constant teasing and friendly rivalry, he’s never exactly learnt how to tread carefully around emotions. He’s known other pilots who lost loved ones – siblings, partners – in the fight, but the flyers have their own code of interaction and it’s gruff and non-verbal.
He’s never once had to doubt who he is, though, or his own value.
So Poe knows that his qualifications for helping Finn, now, are approximately none whatsoever.
Poe named the guy, for goodness’ sake.
He didn’t ask Finn – FN-2187 - if he wanted to think about his own name or what it might mean or whether he remembered his birth parents or anything. Poe just straight up named him, and in a way that echoed how First Order had, and it wasn’t until about a week ago he even thought twice about that.
Maybe naming creates a sort of imprint in itself - like a mother fergit-fowl and her chicks, who if their actual mother isn’t around will follow the first thing they see just the same.
Finn stuck to Poe for all of that brief, wonderful, ridiculous escape to Jakku, and then it would seem Finn stuck to Rey like a thothian burr, and now that’s not possible he’s sticking to Poe again, and Poe could deal with being a comfort object if only he could be sure he was giving out comfort that’s actually healthy.
Poe sighs and reaches across the nose of the fighter to put his hand lightly on Finn’s.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t think. I just can’t…” Poe stops and shakes his head. “I’m still kind of getting whammied by what they did to you. I didn’t… really take it in, for a while.”
“What they did to me is my problem.”
Poe does bite his lip this time, rather than say the first things that rise to mind like I totally get it or it’s all fine though. He thinks for a moment.
Poe doesn’t move his hand. Finn turns his own over under it. Finn is extraordinarily touch-hungry, Poe’s realised. And not all that conscious of what people would normally mean by touch, or the weight it can carry.
If only Rey were still around. Finn connected so easily with her. Because they were both young, probably, and because she was so obviously no stranger to pain herself. Poe’s gathered that she didn’t have all that much childhood either.
Whereas Poe was rolling around the floor playing with his star-fighter toys and getting Salt Day gifts until he was probably thirteen or even older, oblivious and contented as a tusken hog-beast.
But Rey’s got her own path to follow, at least for now. And so Poe’s here with Finn, and he is just going to have to try and not totally fuck this up before she gets back.
“I’m asking about it because I want to help,” Poe says to Finn now, slowly. It’s very warm between their palms. Sweaty, but Finn doesn’t seem to mind and so Poe won’t. “And, I guess because I’m curious. Because you – stormtroopers – were always just… there? It’s easy to forget there’s a face behind the mask, and a story.”
“No story if I can’t remember it,” Finn mutters, and pulls his hand back, and wipes his palm on his trouser leg.
Poe chews his lip again. Then he picks up a hydro-spanner and passes it over, which is what Finn asked him do before they got into this conversation.
“Did I tell you about me being a Deathstar baby yet?” Poe asks, casually as he can.
“Huh? No.” Finn frowns, but it’s a good one – interested. “What do you mean? Like born on the Deathstar?”
And his eyes light up. Because of course, that would be something he could relate to.
Poe clears his throat, and kicks himself in the shin where Finn can’t see it.
“Nah, not like that,” he says, and grins, all casual. “See, the situation was, back just before I was conceived? The Deathstar had actually just been completed.”
He waits a moment to see if ‘conceived’ is an incomprehensible term, but Finn seems to get it.
Poe bends over his own control panel, which still needs a lot of work. “So, it had become operational, ready to blow up a whole planet – which at the time was bigger than anything anyone had ever heard of, even during the Clone Wars - and General Organa – she was going by Princess Leia of Alderaan then…”
“Where’s Alderaan? I’ve never heard of it.”
“Alderaan isn’t anywhere anymore.” Poe sighs. General Organa must know a thing or two about how you survive the worst bits of what being alive involves. But he’d lead the Starkiller attack three times over before he’d approach her with that question.
Poe clears his throat. “But that’s getting ahead. So, she’d received the full specifications for the Deathstar from rebel spies, and she was trying to get them to the rebel base on Yavin 4 via a diplomatic courier ship. But, the ship was boarded and searched. So before she was captured she loaded the plans into an astromech droid and jettisoned it in an escape pod to reach the nearest planet. That planet was Tatooine, and on Tatooine there was this kid, barely older than you are now, working on his Uncle’s moisture farm, way out in the middle of nowhere. And his name was Luke Skywalker.”
Finn’s eyes go wide, fascinated, and Poe grins and keeps telling it, the way his mother used to tell him, night after night when he’d beg her for one more story before he fell asleep.
No wonder when Poe got caught up on Jakku he put his own precious data in BB-8. Stories are powerful things. They teach you what to expect, what to look for, what to fear, what to want.
And maybe the scariest thing about growing up is realising you might be in a story of your own, and then even more so that you might be forming part of someone else’s.
- - -
Finn sleeps very soundly, except when he doesn’t. There are just those two modes; still, silent slumber and freaking-out-thrashing-hallucinating-night-terrors. The latter are getting more common, Poe realises with a stomach-clench of worry.
Not least because he bowed to the inevitable and let Finn room with him once the kid had got out of the medical building. Besides Finn’s evident enthusiasm for the idea, thothian burr that he is, there had been the fact that – as one of the nurses told Poe before Finn regained consciousness – his vitals did much better when Poe or the General or even just anyone was in the room, spiking rough and agitated again when he was alone.
“I don’t want to stack, I’m not tired…” Finn had mumbled once, when Poe and a nurse were trying to getting him to settle, back then.
Stacked. Like machines. Like how Poe would feel uncomfortable treating an astromech.
And that’s probably the least of what was done to him.
So Finn sleeps in a bed opposite Poe’s, and now, more nights than not, Poe finds himself woken at some stupid hour by Finn delirious and kicking up havoc and looking set to injure himself with thrashing against the wall.
Poe goes to him – not too near, he’s learnt, no touching when Finn’s like this unless he wants his arm damn near broken off and Finn’s state to escalate into near-panic – and he pretty much starts saying Finn’s name, clearly but not too loud, over and over until eventually Finn startles into proper consciousness and blinks at him.
Finn says things, those times when he’s stuck back in the memories that never formed properly, that make Poe want to go out, gear up, get in his X-wing and basically personally kill every First Order bastard and go back again twice over just to be certain.
It’s not coherent intel, especially with Finn’s reluctance or inability to join up the gaps in the waking hours.
Which is why Poe isn’t telling anyone else about what Finn says, what Finn yells about, the things Finn begs to have stop, please, why, no…
Poe doesn’t deserve to hear that shit either. He didn’t earn the right or the punishment of knowing this, about Finn or about any stormtrooper.
Because isn’t that the thing? Every First Order stormtrooper he’s ever blasted out of the sky, every one of them got programmed the way Finn did. Got taken, like Finn. Got trained, like Finn. Got themselves wiped and re-programmed and torn away from their own brains, like Finn.
“We’re OK, Finn,” Poe says, when Finn comes back to reality. “We’re OK. Rey’s gone to the Jedi Temple, remember? But she’s OK, we’re OK, the base is OK, it’s oats for breakfast tomorrow morning, maybe with rignut jam if we’re lucky, yeah?”
And Finn frowns, and eventually smiles, and drifts back to sleep easy as a child.
Even when Finn settles, Poe doesn’t sleep so well himself.
“I’m sorry about waking you,” Finn says in the mornings sometimes, awkwardly scratching behind his head, just like the kid he is, not the cogwheel or the bullet or the waste-disposal compactor someone wanted him to be.
“Oh don’t worry, I’ll get back at you when I get my eight-string lasertar out of storage at last,” Poe teases back, and gives him a shove – and in the day, in the day Finn soaks that up like a sponge and comes back for more, wrestling and gasping and getting as close as he can – and Poe races him to breakfast in the canteen, giggling with him like he’s twenty again himself.
Poe would be tempted to hit up the medical bay and try to get a sedative – with the medics’ blessing or not – but there are two flaws in that plan.
Firstly that he doesn’t want to have the conversation offering it to Finn, because that might suggest he doesn’t want to put up with the nightmares or something, and he doesn’t want Finn shy of sharing any of this. And there is no way in this universe he’s administering it without Finn’s knowledge and consent.
And secondly, since the nightmares got more frequent, although Finn’s a bit more tired at times, he seems better in other ways. Calmer, maybe. Not quieter - Finn is probably constitutionally incapable of ‘quieter’, but there’s a kind of stillness to him all the same, and the energy that does come out is more like ‘happy’ and less like ‘manic’.
Poe found two old psych textbooks on the Resistance base e-library files. They’re so old they pre-date the founding of the Galactic Empire, and seem to have been about surviving ‘excess consumption ennui’ on Corsucant rather than surviving shit with genuine bleeding involved, but it’s something.
He’s always being willing to train to get better, and he’s going to try his best at this, however little he has to start with.
He has a feeling that whenever Rey does come back, she’s going to be expecting Poe to have studied as hard at Helping Finn as she has at whatever it is Jedi do.
And she’s probably going to be moving planets from their orbits with her mind and a flick of her wrist, so…
At the same time he got the textbooks, he got Finn sorted out with a brick-reader of his own and ‘The Quest of the Twi’lek Knight’, which Poe had read about eight times by the time he was fifteen. He thinks, latterly, of all the violence and vaguely erotic stuff in the book (which may have had something to do with his fondness for it, looking back), but that doesn’t seem to bother Finn either way, although he insists on recounting the events of each chapter to Poe whilst they work, even though Poe literally knows them by heart.
“And then Xykon left Habo at the palace, even though he loved him!” Finn is exclaiming this particular day, which Poe has set aside for more work on the X-wing – it’s nearly nineteen days since he got back, now, and they’re finally getting towards done with it.
Which means, probably, that he’ll have another off-world mission just as soon as the High Command can come up with one. No, scratch that, they’ve probably got a list he’s not even halfway through yet.
“Why do you think Xykon did that, then?” he asks casually, adjusting a screw-fixing.
Finn has a really strong sense of duty. Really, really strong. And clearly he threw off his First Order indoctrination, but sometimes Poe can’t help wondering if something about devotion and sacrifice and burning yourself out to help another is programmed in deep down from that, still.
Or maybe it’s genetics. Or maybe it’s just Finn, the person he is and always was underneath, coming through everything. Poe’s not sure which of those is the scariest.
Now, Finn frowns. “Well obviously Xykon thought that Habo would be safer without him. But Habo was miserable when Xykon left! Xykon could have at least told him he was in love with him instead of just disappearing like he didn’t even care.”
Poe taps his screwdriver against the fighter shell.
“I’m sorry you didn’t get to say goodbye to Rey before she had to go. She did sit with you, at your bedside, every day, as long as she could.”
Finn sighs heavily, and gazes away across the landing strip into the woods beyond the base. D’Qar is a mostly forested planet, and the Resistance base makes only a small incursion in the wilds.
“If you get told to leave, you’d always tell me first, right?” Finn says, turning back.
Which is not what Poe was expecting.
He’s gearing up to promise – yes, of course, absolutely kid, don’t worry.
But he’s gotten to waiting that half second before he speaks, where Finn’s concerned, and he remembers how many lies Finn’s been fed, the ones Poe knows about and the ones he infers: this is for your benefit, you need this, you can’t have that, that is bad, but you have to let me…
“I would try with everything I could,” he says, and stares into Finn’s eyes. “I wouldn’t just leave unless I had no choice. And with the Resistance, and everything, I might have to put saving other peoples’ lives – saving your life – over how much I don’t want to hurt you. You understand?”
“Like Xykon,” Finn says, and rolls his eyes. Then he shrugs and nods. “I get it. Thank you.”
That’s not quite what Poe expected to hear either.
He’s starting to wish he’d given Finn The Young Being’s Guide to Space, or Murder in the Cantina or even Hutt Happenings.
“Hey, Poe.” Finn picks up his hydro-spanner. “Could you tell me about how the General and her brother saved Han Solo from Jabba again?”
“The Song of the Slaver-Slayers? You like that one, huh?”
Finn stares into the middle distance again, and nods emphatically.
- - -
In further details of Poe Dameron’s complete lack of suitability to do whatever it is he’s doing for Finn, he’s never actually sustained a long-term relationship in his life.
Not that him and Finn are in a relationship, exactly… Except, honestly, they are. What are they otherwise? He won’t chastise himself for thinking of it in those terms, he decides, because it’s not like this is any less serious than some sort of romance, and although for him, normally, relationship means sex, it doesn’t for everyone and maybe that’s the best way to think about it all.
Actually, to say that normally ‘relationship’ means ‘sex’ to him is inaccurate, because normally for him sex just happens, and relations are never really established beyond that.
When he’d been young and stupid, he’d bought into the reputation flyers had for love-em-and-leave-‘em, and felt like it was something you had to live by, that it came with the role. His mother had been nothing like that, but since when did kids let parents be their models? He had one night stands round half his squad, and casual arrangements with most of the other half, and then there were all the off-world trips and the bars and the skin-sinks, and it was awesome until the night he was all on his own drinking banthan rum with no one who gave a shit to talk to about his Dad’s passing, and realised it wasn’t.
Well, he’d got a reputation by then, and quite sensibly no one who knew him wanted to know.
And then the Resistance had crystallized from something some of the New Republic subscribed to or talked about and become an actual splinter group, and he’d taken the decision to join – it seemed like the best way to feel close to his parents again - and accidentally become the most senior and accomplished pilot on the team, and that didn’t leave a lot of time for extra-curricular activities.
The Resistance became his family, and a big and sprawling and demanding one, giving everything but intimacy.
And now somehow it’s twenty years later, and he’s wound up in the longest relationship of his life – even though it’s barely been half a cycle - with a guy who probably views their interaction as familial, or at least would if he’d not been horribly kidnapped from his actual family and mind-wiped and exploited until any sense of how people might relate normally was stripped from him and…
It’s not like Poe never catches sight of Finn wandering over the landing strip or the canteen towards him in Poe’s own lucky jacket and enjoys the view.
But that’s all it’s going to be.
Not least because Poe has no clue how sex even works when it’s someone you really care about.
- - -
“The Endethen System is one of the more challenging to navigate safely, for anyone, under any circumstances,” General Organa says at the Team Leader Briefing. “So, Poe, I guess it’s your lucky day again.”
Poe sits in his chair, scribbling notes, and gives her a casual, grinning salute.
Wasn’t so long ago, he thinks, that he would actually have considered this luck indeed. That he’d have been bursting for a chance to go into danger. That he’d have had nothing to lose or leave behind him.
From the way the General looks at him as she takes his acquiescence, he has a feeling she knows exactly how much that’s changed.
He does get time to say goodbye to Finn before he has to set off – they’ve got a last night to spend together before the time scheduled for launch.
Poe spends half his credits getting ingredients from the canteen backdoor, which is technically allowed if not exactly on the communal principles of the base, and trades his small collection of dirty holo-plays (none of which have had use since Finn moved in anyway) for a hotplate and a pan, and cooks his mother’s famous stew, which he can picture her laughing at him over the whole way through the preparation.
Chopping keel root, son? - she’d be saying, and dissolve into giggles -You have got it bad. Your father only chops keel root when he wants one thing.
“I just thought, you know, I’ll be away a bit, I wanted to….” Poe shrugs as eloquently as he can, and ushers Finn to the table and chairs he’s arranged, wedged between their beds, the pan of stew in the middle of the table, their mess bowls ready.
“Oh, alright. Wait a moment, though!”
And Finn dashes away.
He didn’t look cross, or upset, and Poe’s honestly at a bit of a loss – Finn wouldn’t go and invite other people, would he? Even if he’s not attuned to every undertone of interaction, he’d have counted the chairs at least?
Maybe he’s gone to fetch BB-8, who is of course leaving when Poe does. Poe could cope with that. Probably.
(Even if BB-8 knows exactly what Poe’s parents thought about people who chopped keel root for other people, and wouldn’t hesitate to mock either)
“Here!” Finn says, swinging back in through the curtain, which they hang over the doorway during the daytime. He pulls the door closed behind him, and holds out his hand.
Finn has got a bunch of wild flowers, and he’s offering them to Poe.
“For the table,” Finn says, like he’s amused Poe’s being slow. “Like in the picture on the cover of Coruscant Serenade?”
“Great, that’s great,” Poe makes himself say. “Use my mug, there’s water in my can.”
He turns away to dish up the stew, blinking hard. He’s been so worried about how Finn might take the prospect of parting, and never stopped for a moment to think that he, too, is going to be spending a pretty long time alone after tomorrow morning.
- - -
At the launch, Finn says he’s fine, bounces up and down, gets all enthusiastic, starts yelling about the First Order butt Poe’s going to kick.
Looking back in his viewer as he takes off, Poe sees Finn vomiting on the landing strip, and just about aches in half with the wish to fake a dodgy hyper-drive or a broken fuel cell or a coolant alarm – anything – so he can go back and hug him one more time.
Maybe one last time.
- - -
Poe makes it clear of the fucking Endethen-and-bounty-hunters-and-interplanetary-laser-mesh-and-yay-asteroids System by the skin of his teeth.
He has to take a long, strange route home to throw the last bounty ships off his tail, hiding in the long shadow of a nova for what feels like forever to mask his engine signature. He’s been bleeding steadily into the cockpit for maybe just a bit too long – a ricochet injury from when a control panel blew up in his face. But his cabin didn’t depressurize, so he’s counting it a win, if he can just keep conscious long enough to make his return. He used up the last of the adrenaline hypos stored in the cockpit a while back – didn’t really think to ration them. Can’t really think, now.
BB-8’s saying something, but Poe can’t remember his Mech just at the moment.
He’s flying on instinct, on rote. He knows the controls of his fighter like he used to know the strings of his lasertar before he joined the Resistance and the junk from his old penthouse went into storage in a box in a damp woodland, along with his family mementoes and his pitiful savings. The Resistance doesn’t do salaries, just room and board and inspiring speeches. If they – when they – win this, who knows how he’ll get a place of his own again.
But just now he’s in his X-wing, and it and he are drifting, maybe.
He could switch controls to BB-8 – quite possibly that’s what BB-8 is trilling about – but if he didn’t have anything to concentrate on he might just float away altogether.
The descent to D’Qar and the base happens in a narrow field of view, most of it grey. The ship stops moving and he’s still alive, so he must not have crashed it.
Someone else pops the cockpit.
“Poe!” a voice is screaming. “Poe!”
“In a minute,” he protests, barely getting the words out. “Be ready in a minute, ‘s good here, ‘s comfortable.”
“Poe!” he hears again, one more time, and someone’s hands are stroking his face, and then everything disappears.
- - -
“No, you don’t,” someone says, and pushes Poe back down.
Poe struggles, and blinks, trying to get his eyes to focus.
“Poe, it’s me, come on!”
Poe still can’t get his eyes to do what he wants. “What?”
“It’s Finn! Hey, come on, lie still for me? You’ll strain your stitches again.”
The vague form in front of Poe barrels in closer and suddenly he can smell him; the sweat and the scent of his hairline and the strangely odourless breath – the First Order used mouth-strippers, more than likely – and yeah, that’s Finn, and before Finn even was ‘Finn’, he was Poe’s best ever stroke of luck.
“Finn!” he manages to gasp out. A horrible sickness lurches in his stomach. “I can’t see,” he gasps, striving to blink, hands going to rub over his eyelids.
“You’ve been unconscious a long time,” Finn says at once, and he’s moving his hand to stroke over Poe’s shoulder, near the base of his neck, and there’s a reason, isn’t there, that it’s a bad thing to have that feel so good? “You’re just adjusting to the light, it’s OK. You’re OK. I’m here.”
Poe tries to make an affirmative noise. It comes out oddly.
“Solo couldn’t see, after they defrosted him from the carbonite,” Finn tells him, and now there’s a damp cloth wiping over Poe’s forehead. “You told me that. And he was back flying again in time to win the Battle of Endor’s Moon. Even though, I guess, he wasn’t actually in the space assault for that.”
Poe can’t help laughing a little. He grabs for Finn’s hand and finds it on the second try. You can hold hands with a person when you’re glad you’re not dead – Finn won’t read anything into it.
“Glad to see you too, kid,” he says, and laughs darkly.
“You can’t see. And I’m not your kid,” Finn says, not unkindly, and there’s a soft touch, like a kiss, to Poe’s cheek.
- - -
“So, a tech-runner sat next to me in the canteen and asked me where I berth,” Finn says, one lunchtime three days after Poe’s awakening, by which time, thank goodness, Poe’s vision has recovered.
So he was already watching for the sight of Finn coming into medical, and glad to see him again carrying a box of something from the canteen for Poe, as he’s done every meal so far – the medics give out these little trays of enriched-protein stews, which are very efficient and totally disgusting.
“Oh yeah? Did you tell them? Were they cute?” Poe shuffles back in the bed to sit up straighter, and tries to look casual, like he doesn’t want to get out of bed and track down this tech-runner and demand to know their intentions.
“I said I berthed with you,” Finn says, and from the way he says it and the set of his shoulders and the way he’s staring, Poe can tell he’s figured out enough to know exactly how that sounds.
Things to say to that try to trip off Poe’s tongue and he reels them back in again and closes his eyes a moment.
“Why did you say that?” he asks, in the end.
“True, isn’t it?”
“Depends on your point of view.”
Finn sits in the chair by Poe’s bunk and leans forward on his elbows, resting his hands on his chin. “Don’t you want me? I want you.”
Poe takes a breath, winded by the sheer bluntness of it. “I’m not sure that you…”
“I made my choice!” Finn cuts him off, yelling. He gets up, marches over to stand leaning over Poe’s face. “I know you think I’m… broken somehow, but I made my choice and I walked away and that wasn’t you that made that happen, that was me! I saved you! I know how to want things and I wanted freedom and I wanted you!”
Holding out his hands, Poe breathes again, tries to keep his voice steady. “I’m quite a bit older than you.”
“What does that have to do with anything? Either of us could die anytime. You want to go comparing life expectancies now?”
“What about Rey?”
Finn snorts. “You think she doesn’t know how I feel about you? She told me to go for it. I think she might have just wanted me to shut up telling her about you for a while, but…” he shrugs, smiles that impish smile that could belong to boy who never saw blood at all.
“Or…” Finn continues, frowning now. “Do you mean that you like Rey too? Because that’s OK. There’s more than one lot of love in a person – that’s what it said in The Fortress of Dantooine.
Poe runs his hand over his face and rolls back his eyes. “Who gave you The Fortress of Dantooine to read, for fuck’s sake?”
Finn lifts his chin. “General Organa. She said to read it to you while you were asleep and see if it went in. She gave me a citron-ball too.”
Then Finn sighs, moves to sit on the bed near Poe’s knees and starts picking at the blanket. “I missed you so much, you know? Worse when you were asleep here than when you were away. I kept going over to make tea and thinking: If I stir this one hundred times, when I turn back he’ll be awake.”
He looks up, meets Poe’s gaze, his eyes dark and liquid.
Poe clears his throat. He puts his hand out near Finn’s, but not touching. “Do you know what it would mean if we… if we shared a berth, properly? No, don’t tell me you had a biology lesson in stormtrooper school.” He holds up his hand. “Have you ever done anything like that? Been intimate with someone physically in a… in a relationship way?”
Finn bites his lip. “Depends on your point of view,” he says, slowly.
Poe’s heart starts beating sickly fast. There’s a buzzing in his ears. “Do you want to talk about it?”
A shake of the head, Finn’s eyes dropping for a moment, then looking up, fierce.
“No. And it’s not just… I don’t know exactly what you’re imagining but…”
“I don’t know what you’re imagining either,” Poe points out, “when you talk about wanting us to bunk together like it means something, not that…” He pauses, winces. “It can mean something just as it is. You don’t have to want to… be naked and stimulate me, or for me to stimulate you, for us to…to love each other.”
He’s blushing clear through to his ears, which are probably glowing. He’s never had to lay it out like this before in his life.
Maybe, though, there’s something to be said for it.
Finn stares at him, searching. “Do I love you?” he asks, softly.
Poe wants to laugh and cry and shake him and kiss him and worse than that.
He takes Finn’s hand into his own, in a tight grasp, and lifts it so he can brush his lips against Finn’s knuckles.
“I don’t know,” Poe tells him.
Then he sighs, and shifts a little in the bend, wincing only a bit. “Come on, how about lying down next to me, and reading us some more of your book, and seeing whether that feels comfortable, just to begin with?”
Finn’s smile is like being in the aura of a supernova, all over again.
- - -
“Wow,” Poe says, stepping into the room, pushing the curtain aside.
“You seemed to like them before,” Finn says, shrugging, twisting his hands together a little nervously maybe.
Poe turns back to him. “It’s gorgeous,” he says, firmly, “I just never even expected – I thought for a moment my eyesight was… Wow,” he says again, and steps further into the room, going to examine the walls.
There are bunches of flowers everywhere. Wedged into little cracks and strung from bits of old twine from the ceiling and in a mug on the window ledge and, yeah, everywhere. It’s quite possibly the nicest thing anyone has done for Poe since his parents were alive.
“Wow,” he says again, and goes to sit on his bed. He pats the space next to him, and Finn comes over, sits right close next to him.
Poe puts his arm round Finn, and leans his head down to rest on Finn’s shoulder.
Finn’s arm comes up round him in response and they sit a while, just breathing.
They stay like that until the digital display on the wall clicks over to the time for the first seating of dinner.
- - -
There’s a Team Leaders’ Meeting, organizing a new supply chain after a major freighter was compromised. Poe gets tasked with assessing pilot profiles. The canteen suffers a murkgrub infestation and the whole base has to spend their free time painting sulf-juice into the floors, with even Admiral Ackbar and the General taking a turn. There’s a celebration for Salt Day, and the kids turning thirteen run around in delight brandishing their bags of sweets and telling people they’re adults now and they can totally stay up for fireworks, and all the adults go about telling each other loudly how it’s all extravagant and ridiculous but of course, for the kids….
It’s Finn’s first Salt Day, of course, and Poe makes him a batch of hard-syrup himself, because it has to come from family and, again, no one said what he and Finn have together was easy to define.
‘That is…” Finn says, tasting some, and moans. “Oh wow.” He scrabbles in the bag for another piece, still licking his lips.
He’s started talking a bit more like Poe does, using more of the same slang. To be fair, there are a lot of flyers and ex-flyers and flyer-partners on the base for him to have picked it up from.
Poe slings an arm round him – it’s not like they’re touching so much more, since he got out of medical, but Poe now feels comfortable to be the one initiating contact, and happier to let it linger, to let the sensations simply flow over him, permitted. They often lie on one or other bed together now – on top of the covers, clothes on – during the day, reading aloud. They hold hands whenever either of them feels like it, and Finn feels like it most of the time.
“Come on,” Poe says now, “or we’ll miss the display.”
Outside in the darkness there are rings of people gathered near the firework barrier rope. Poe spots the unmistakable silhouette of the legendary Chewbacca, over near the General. Those two must have known some parties, Poe thinks. He wonders if there was ever a time when they thought things might all be fine, like they wouldn’t be still here, thirty years later, with a kid conceived on the night of their first victory grown up and still fighting their war.
“Hey,” Finn says, and puts his hand in Poe’s. “You OK?”
It’s an old exchange between them now. “I’m OK,” Poe says, smiling at him, at the light in the brown depths of his eyes, sparkling even out here in the dark. “I’m OK. You’re here. And somewhere,” he looks up at the million spiraling stars of the sky. “Somewhere Rey is out there. And she’s OK too. Or at least I hope so.”
“I’d know if she wasn’t,” Finn says, with a confidence Poe’s completely taken aback by.
The fireworks explode above them quite suddenly, burning like the death of a planet, like the birth of a star. The kids yell and bounce, and Finn gasps.
When the show’s over, and the kids herded inside, there’s music and the booze comes out, and Poe thinks about his lasertar and sighs.
“Can I get some of your warm?” Finn asks, and slips his hands under Poe’s shirt to press against his skin without further warning. Poe startles from his cold skin, and pulls away and complains, but not hard enough to actually shift Finn’s position. They come to rest again, standing close, Finn’s dry palms easing over the planes of Poe’s chest.
“Kiss me, please,” Finn says.
Finn’s mouth tastes of salted hard-syrup, and the air smells like cordite and green things, and Poe’s not feeling cold at all any more, anywhere.
Back in their room, for the first time Finn moves to climb in with Poe before they go to sleep.
“Bit of a squeeze – are you sure about this?” Poe budges towards the wall and tries to hold himself small.
The kiss outside got him pretty worked up, and whilst he can keeps his hands to himself now, who knows what he might do when he’s asleep?
“Please,” Finn says, and grins, eyes flashing, like he knows exactly what that word does to Poe’s insides. It’s always been one of Poe’s private pleasures, in bed, to have someone really want him, and make it clear, to be enthusiastic, to make Poe feel like he was the only one who could meet their need.
And this time he feels like it might actually even be true.
“Your funeral if I fart when I snore,” Poe observes, and sighs theatrically and lays his head down, letting a joyful Finn clamber in to lie next to him.
Poe’s in his shorts only. Finn wears a sleep-vest in addition, but there’s still a lot of skin against skin going on, and the air seems to shimmer with heat between them.
Finn’s nightmares have been ebbing away, of late, and Poe’s worried that this change might bring their return, but the next time he wakes up it’s in the morning light and with Finn still asleep and spooned around him, Finn’s breath soft and hot against the back of his neck.
- - -
They’re about to pass their fourth consecutive night together when Finn apparently decides that kissing and bedtime (previously always undertaken separately) should be experimented with in combination.
“Yes, I’m sure,” Finn says, before Poe can even get the question out, and smiles and starts out with kissing the thin skin near the corner of Poe’s eye, and on down his cheek to come lip at his mouth, gentle enough to tease.
They lie together, side by side in the bed, making out, until Poe’s lips burn and his jaw aches and he’s so aroused he’s damp in his shorts. Finn’s never not been attractive to him, but this – the contact, the trust in it, the way Finn murmurs and complains under his mouth, his strong body angling for more of what he wants, is intoxicating.
Poe feels like he’s on an oxygen-short ration, or like he ascended too quickly and forgot to equalize pressure. He feels all the stupid things that happen in all the story books – giddy, trembling, overwhelmed, hungry for something that isn’t just touch.
Finn is hard too, pressing against Poe’s thigh, grinding up a little at intervals without apparent conscious thought. Poe keeps still, doesn’t move, keeps his hands above Finn’s waist until Finn makes a snort of frustration and takes his wrists and puts Poe’s hands where he wants them.
“Yeah?” Poe murmurs, and watches the expressions unfolding across Finn’s face as he gets his hand under the waistband of Finn’s shorts and – oh shit – cups the hot, tense skin of his dick. Finn’s been cut and Poe explores the fine edges and angles of him with fascination, using some of the fluid that’s welling up to ease the way.
Finn arches back his neck and groans and Poe laughs with sheer delight and moves his hand faster, coming up to nuzzle under Finn’s ear.
That’s all it takes. Finn’s bucking, bracing, coming all over place, and Poe gentles him through it, entranced.
“I’ve never done that,” Finn says, whispering, eyes all wide once they’re open again. He kisses blindly, weakly, at the corners of Poe’s mouth. “That felt… different. I liked it.”
Then a frown crosses his face, and Poe freezes.
“Would it be OK,” Finn says, “if I didn’t…” He bites his lip and looks quickly at where Poe’s shorts are still strained and stained between their hips.
“For sure,” Poe tells him earnestly.
“I could watch while you empty yourself? I mean when you, you know, climax thing?”
“That doesn’t even have to happen tonight, don’t worry about it.”
“No. No, I want to watch, I do, I just…” more lip-biting. “I really did think I was ready for it but now I….”
Poe leans down, kisses at his neck again. “Hey, hey, no worries. Whatever you want, kid.”
Finn sniffs. “I told you, not your kid.”
“I guess not.” Poe drops another kiss. “Whatever you want, Finn.”
Wide, dark eyes gazing up at him like he’s someone with some sort of answers in life. “You were the first person who ever called me Finn.”
“Well, yeah.” Poe strokes at his hairline. “Do you still like it? Never too late to change.”
Finn raises an eyebrow at him, gives him an indulgent but scornful look, and draws back a little. “Well, go on then,” he says, and affects a nonchalance that almost convinces as he gestures at Poe’s crotch.
Poe is shaking his head as he puts his hand to his mouth, licks it, and then brings it to his dick.
Finn scooches back some more, which is briefly alarming, but it seems he’s only doing it in order to get a better view. He’s staring at where Poe’s hand is working, tracking every tiny movement, and Poe thinks hey, why not give a proper demonstration?
He plays with his foreskin a bit. No doubt all the male stormtroopers were cut, it’s much more efficient for health purposes, and so this must look to Finn like Poe’s from another species, practically. Sliding the loose skin around, he feels the warmth starting to slither up his spine and he sighs and widens his legs.
Nothing with his hole, as much as he likes it, as much as it feels hot and empty, not now. Not going to confuse the issue.
Poe reaches with his other hand to cup his balls, though, rolls them around and squeezes down just that very slight amount that makes him whine in the back of his throat when he’s really letting go, letting it out.
Finn chokes a bit, coughs, and Poe grins and works himself just a little faster, slipping his index finger over his slit and playing around, racing to the climax so much faster for being aware of his audience.
“Your pulse,” Finn says, awestruck, and maybe it’s not the compliment Poe was expecting but there’s a lot in the tone, and then comes the soft warm weight of Poe’s hand resting over his chest, over where his heart is beating fit to burst.
Poe bucks up a little, helpless, and it makes Finn’s palm rub against his nipple, and that’s it, he’s off, blown, gone, shaking and shuddering through it.
Before he’s done falling apart, Finn is kissing him again.
Finn’s already hard for another round, Poe making a show of licking up his hand before reaching for him again. He can’t get it up twice in quick succession himself, not these days, but he’s throbbing and sensitive and with all his skin still on fire when finally they crawl under the covers and he remembers, abruptly, that one of them is going to have to carry the sheets to the central laundry and it’s going to be round the base by next sundown.
- - -
“The thing you have to remember, Poe,” General Organa says to him the next day at their briefing – he’s supposed to be helping out researching a design for a new middle-range fighter and troop carrier, which is based on the somewhat optimistic assumption that eventually they’ll have enough non-flyer personnel to qualify as ‘troops’. “Is that there’s never as much time as you think there’ll be. Take your moments, and live them. Good job.” She squeezes his shoulder and walks away.
Poe isn’t sure whether he’s insanely embarrassed or about to burst into tears.
Either is a good excuse to run over to the block where Finn is now working as a junior tech-runner and beckon him out of his chair for a moment and kiss him in the corridor.
- - -
One of the big advantages to not seeing so much of each other in the daytime is that they get to have nightly reunions.
Poe loves the feeling of remembering, in the middle of having a specs argument or fixing up a trial conversion plate, that he’s going back to his room at the end of the day and that Finn will be there.
Finn made it through junior tech-runner to senior runner to system strategist in next to no time, and the only thing blocking him from more seems to be those who are still wary of letting anyone who was once under First Order programming near the really sensitive stuff. Poe has a few opinions on that topic, but perhaps luckily he’s not in that command chain, and just makes a big deal of sometimes showing Finn round his own workshop and blueprints.
Finn can get home – get to the room, and since when could just a room feel like a home? – before Poe, though, with his job as it is, and that means Poe having a welcome waiting for him on the regular, and it may be a side effect of something stupid, but it’s pretty damn nice.
Once a collect, Poe does come back early too, and they cook in their room on the hotplate. One evening, out in the ad hoc herb garden behind the armoury, picking out a bunch of the various things he needs – including the keel root, which Finn turns out to have a taste for - Poe stops and looks around him a moment and sees the other people doing the same – long-married, half of them.
He stops on his way back in and goes to the wood edge, and picks Finn a bunch of wild flowers.
They’re onto The Meditations of Abbadon on Finn’s brick-reader. Poe would never have thought he’d want to listen to poetry on a regular basis, and after a couple they do tend to go back to one of Poe’s stories, told whilst they lie on the bed together after Poe’s got Finn and then himself off, and they’re kissing lazily and touching just to touch.
Thing is, half the time it’s the poetry that’s sent them into bed, kissing and grasping and gasping, in the first place. Those ancient Jedi certainly knew how to craft a ripe metaphor – no wonder the later knights banned it.
And no wonder the later knights were totally messed up, Poe can’t help thinking, as he lies there panting into the curve of Finn’s neck, sated and spent, if they thought this was bad for you.
By all accounts, Luke Skywalker’s no idiot, but Poe hopes, and hopes beyond hope, eyes closed and wishing like there’s a force in the universe that could hear him (and maybe there is), that Rey’s being taught the right things about love.
He worried about Finn, and worried about himself in relation to Finn.
But she could get broken too, as strong as she is.
And for the first time he’s feeling like he himself doesn’t actually represent the least good option someone could find to get them through… this. Life. Love. The Universe.
- - -
When Poe’s birthday comes around, he puts in for leave, and asks Finn to do the same, and sends a special request into High Command.
“Is it like entrenching?” Finn asks, sounding dubious, when Poe shows him the tent and the two bags.
“Not so much,” Poe says, and starts making a food list. “We walk for the first day, out into the forest, and find somewhere we like – near a stream, ideally – and we put up the tent and then we live there, for the next two days, just the two of us.” He gives Finn an encouraging hug, and Finn, as always, melts into it happily. “I used to go with my parents on Yavin 4. It’s good fun. Nothing like sleeping under the stars.”
Finn frowns. “But we’ll be in the tent, which has a roof? So it’s just like sleeping here, which also has a roof?”
“It’s not like sleeping here,” Poe points out, “because we won’t have anyone either side, or in the corridor, or at our meals. It’ll be a place just for us. And we can do anything we want. Yeah,” he laughs. “That’s the grin I’m looking for.” He kisses Finn’s nose, and then gets wrestled down onto the bed and has to kiss the rest of him.
And so they set off together, on the first day, and make their way through the forest, which has never really been mapped, just computer-surveyed from above.
The greenness is overwhelming. The forest isn’t as lush as on Yavin 4, there aren’t creepers and vines in the same way, more thick, dark pines and ferns underneath, the rich scent of leaf mould, the cries of birds above and the tracks of the little mammals that burrow under the root crowns and eat the cone-seeds.
Finn looks around him like he’s been taken to the biggest cathedral on Coruscant, and Poe wonders why he didn’t think to try and do this sooner.
Towards sunset, they get to a grove with a mossy floor, a stream nearby that they bathe in, naked and splashing. Finn gets fascinated with the wet clay on the streambed and makes pots and cups and BB-8 and something that’s apparently an X-wing, and leaves them out on a flat rock to dry. Poe’s pretty sure you have to do something else to clay to make it useable, but maybe if they take the things back to base someone will know.
He’s lying out on a towel on the ground, watching Finn and mocking his sculpting, and Finn crawls out and attacks him with smearing fingers, and then they have to go and wash again.
On Yavin 4, there were things to hunt for food, but no one really knows the state of the fauna here, so Poe’s brought ration packs and pre-chopped stuff in a bag, but they make up a campfire – one of Finn’s skills turns out to be incredibly geometrical accuracy in building twig stacks – and he sets up a tripod over it for the pot, then sits back and stares in the flames.
Finn comes and sits behind him, legs bracketing his hips, his chest pressed up warm and solid against Poe’s back, and rests his chin on Poe’s shoulder and watches too.
“Tell me,” Finn says, and Poe smiles and gears up for it.
“Tell me the story of how you met me,” Finn says.
“Really, yeah. I’ve never actually heard your side of it.”
Poe’s leant forward so he can get the angle to crane his head back and read Finn’s expression, and now Finn grunts, irritated, and pulls him back into place again. “Tell me about what happened,” he insists. “About how it felt, about when you saw me and what I looked like and what I said. Tell me how you named me. Tell me how you decided to trust me right away, despite everything.”
“Well… Will you correct me if I get it wrong?”
“You won’t,” Finn says, calmly.
“Well, OK then. But shuffle round here and lean against me. I want to see your face, in case I forget half-way through who I’m talking about.”
Finn gives him a shove, but complies, and soon they’re side by side under a blanket, the fire still dancing merrily, and Poe starts trying to put one word on top of another, to give Finn the origin story, the birthday tale, the creation myth that the First Order never bothered with for good or evil.
Poe kisses Finn one more time before he starts.
The food is good, the better for being cooked over the fire. After they’ve finished, Finn spreads out the blanket on the ground and starts getting Poe out of his clothes. He’s smiling, soft and eager, and moves confidently, knowing where to touch Poe to make him gasp, or shudder, or calm down a little to make the impact of whatever comes next even better.
Finn still has never touched Poe’s dick, but a little while ago he figured out he’s all good for fingering him, and as far as Poe’s concerned that’s more than enough to be going on with, maybe for forever, the way Finn does it, so good and thorough and eager and curious, playing with him, stretching and stroking and paying so much attention to each of his responses.
Finn crooks his fingers, brushing up inside, and Poe gasps and bucks, and has to beg him to stop before he’s done, because he still wants to be needing it when he sees Finn getting off.
“I dunno,” Finn teases. “This is pretty cool.”
Poe sits up with an almighty effort, pushes him away and then pulls him back in again, and kisses his mouth, and his throat, and all down his chest.
“What if I kept going?” Poe asks, softly. “What if I kissed you down there? Do you think that would be worth trying?”
And Finn chokes a little and then comes right away, untouched, which is a pretty good answer, but Poe still checks in again before he goes in for the second shot, and Finn can’t seem to find enough ways to say ‘yes’, muttering it over and over even as Poe goes down and sucks him in, and that doesn’t last all that long either, but it’s a heck of a birthday present all the same.
“You melted me, it’s not fair,” Finn complains after they’ve been lying together a bit afterwards. “Want to make you go off too, you bastard.”
“It’s OK, we’ve got time,” Poe says, and enjoys the sizzle down to his toes as Finn makes a half-hearted attempt to grab at his arse.
“It’s OK, is it?” Finn says, teasing.
“It’s all OK,” Poe tells him, and half-way out of his mouth the words get heavy, serious. “It’s OK, you’re here, I’m here, and tomorrow we’ve got oats for breakfast. And for now, for us, that’s OK.”
“Yeah.” Finn chuckles. “I love you too.”
Poe used to think that was how stories ended. He knows now, that’s just how they begin.
- - -