That the First Order is evil and horrible is a truth universally acknowledged. Or it would be, Finn thinks tiredly, if the Rebellion fails and the First Order takes over and spreads out, assimilating world after world until the galaxy is no longer big enough to contain it.
The thing is, though. The thing is that, even in an organisation so devoid of any kind of light, good people still manage to survive.
And the truth is, anything that Finn is, anything he's done, or will go on to do - it's all because of FN-2135.
FN-2135 was everything a stormtrooper should be. Top of his class in marksmanship, subtle political mind, brilliant tactician who wiped the floor with the rest of the trainees in Dejarik and the never-ending battlefield that was peer interaction. Captain Phasma herself was known to oversee his training. He would probably have been drafted into her division, if… If he'd survived their first battle.
FN-2135 was the best friend Finn ever had. He was the big brother Finn never knew. He was tall and broad, only a couple months older than Finn, but so far ahead in the social order that he might as well have been years ahead of their class. And for some reason, he'd decided that FN-2187 was someone worthy of being protected.
Finn still remembers the first time they met. FN-2187 had just been drafted and entered into his age group, a scrawny 15-year-old with a permanent ball of fear-tinged awkwardness under his ribcage. He wasn't the best at his lessons, always fumbled the history of the treachery at the heart of the Empire's fall and the rise of the Republic, fuelled by the support of rebel scum. He didn't have friends, either, because in the hierarchy of his peers, he was barely scraping bottom.
But when he'd been cornered by three of the bigger trainees, and was already dreading the bruising that would take weeks to heal, FN-2135 had stepped between him and the two boys and girl intent on beating him into the plastic floor of their holdings.
Afterwards, FN-2187 looked at FN-2135 with big, worshipful eyes, and nothing felt as good as FN-2135's hand on his head. When FN-2135 proposed the usual arrangement, FN-2187 agreed more than eagerly. FN-2135 was tall and handsome, broad-shouldered and angular, but his hands were gentle and FN-2187 felt nothing but pleased to fall to his knees and do his part for their partnership. FN-2135 taught him more than all of their instructors put together - how to navigate the tiers of the Order, how to shoot straight, how to fight. He showed FN-2187 how to slip under the radar and how to navigate a battlefield.
He also taught FN-2187 how to suck dick like a pro, and unlike the other arrangements FN-2187 knew of, FN-2135 even returned the favour.
Point is, without FN-2135, FN-2187 would be long dead, and Finn would never exist. When FN-2135 died on Jakku, the hand FN-2187 knew as well as his own tracing FN-2187's helmet for the last time… Well, there was nothing left to keep FN-2187 in the Order. Especially not when Phasma ordered his reconditioning. He'd have lost even the memory of FN-2135, and fuck them, FUCK THEM, FN-2187 was not gonna let them take that from him, too.
So, he ran. He ran, just like FN-2135 had taught him, straight for his most valuable resource: the pilot.
And if, when the pilot narrowed his eyes so he could see straight through him, and told him he knew exactly what FN-2187 was after with that banked affability in his voice, FN-2135's smiling face flashed through FN-2187's memory - he would never tell, just like FN-2135 would have instructed.
Except Poe Dameron was like no one FN-2187 had ever known. Case in point: Poe gave him A NAME. He taught him to shoot the TIE-16's guns. He treated him like Finn was human. Like he was worth something. Not even FN-2135 had given Finn a name. Is it any wonder Finn imprinted on Poe from minute one?
Being in battle was ugly and terrifying and shockingly real. Thinking he'd lost Poe when he'd just found him… Finn doesn't remember dread like that. No, he can't, he can't lose another person, not like that. But some lessons are hard to unlearn, and so the newly-labelled Finn keeps going on, further and further, desperate to prove he's worth taking a chance on. Truthfully, running into Rey saves his life, in more ways than one - just in time to stop him from self-destructing or running so far, all he knows is numb.
Far enough that he wouldn't have known Poe was alive. Seeing him again is like electricity running through Finn's veins, like his skin is too small to contain everything he's feeling; like if he doesn't put his hands on Poe's body immediately, he will combust and burn out in a pyre of suppressed emotions.
"Poe," he screams, and he runs; and the wonder of it is, Poe is running too, sprinting, throwing his arms around Finn's shoulders and clinging as hard as Finn is. Finn has never seen a miracle before in his life, but this sure seems to fit the bill.
And the thing is, Finn has had sex before. Or at least, FN-2187 had a lot of it in the three years he was in the same basic as FN-2135. And he liked it. It was never some urgent, snapping connection, but it was nice, to be that for someone, to do a job well. It is only when Poe's face is tucked into his neck, with the smell of engine oil in Finn's nose and Poe's breath wafting past his ear, hot on his skin, that Finn feels a throbbing tug deep in his gut and thinks, Oh.
Rey, for all that she feels like his other half sometimes, never makes him feel like this. Full of fire, aching to please, to protect - yes. But not the way he wants to twist his fist in Poe's collar and yank him close, so that their bodies align and never part. Not like he craves to know the taste of Poe's lips, and what his dick will feel like in Finn's mouth. Not the stab of lust inside him at the thought of seeing Poe come on his mouth, down his throat, head thrown back and those luscious lips parted on a moan. Not the frighteningly intense need to be that person for Poe all the time.
He tells Poe to take care of himself out there, but it's him that sees the red overtake his world and sizzle the air in his lungs, and thinks, well, fuck.
At least Poe would be okay. Right?
The world flashes white with pain and goes dark.
Finn wakes up in a soft bed, lying on soft sheets, and doesn't wonder if he's dead, because there is no way that the afterlife will hurt this much. Phasma was very fond of the saying, 'Life is pain', and never did Finn suspect he would be so grateful to have that phrase drilled in his brain as he is right now, realising that, reciprocally, pain means life. He is alive, and hopefully (please, Powers), the pain will eventually fade.
Something makes a familiar thrilling beep at his side, followed by a series of excited noises that make Finn smile even though his back feeling like one giant raw patch.
"Hi, BB-8," he croaks, turning his head despite the pull of abused skin.
"I think I'm hurt," says an even more familiar and welcome voice, and Finn's head snaps fully to the side as his eyes open wider than slits, taking in the worn, yet still just as stunningly handsome face of Poe Dameron, one hell of a pilot and the recipient of Finn's embarrassing crush. "I can't believe you made time to greet BB-8, but not me."
"Poe," Finn whispers, reaching out weakly before he remembers himself and lets his arm drop. It doesn't have far to go, however, considering Poe's strong grip around his wrist. "It's really good to see you, too."
Poe's fingers tighten on his skin; he clenches his teeth once before slowly uncurling his hand.
"You scared me," he says roughly. His eyes are such a rich, beautiful dark amber, and so intent on Finn's. "Please don't do that again."
"I'll try?" Finn says weakly. He doesn't understand why Poe looks so upset, but he knows he doesn't want Poe to look like that because of him. He quirks a smile, relieved to see Poe's expression soften. Maybe he can make it up to Poe, or at least try and repay him for all Poe's done for him. Tentative, but gaining in confidence the more Poe doesn't pull away, Finn curls his fingers through Poe's. They twitch, then settle against Finn's hold, sweet and callused and so, so strong. Powers, Poe is amazing and Finn is completely fucked for him.
"I…" Finn swallows, then takes a deep breath. He wants this too badly to let nerves ruin it for him. "I don't know how the system works here, and you probably have a person already," shit, he probably does, too, and Finn bets they're super hot and competent, fuck, "but, um, I could be your person. I really want to be your person, actually."
Poe's throat bobs, and Finn watches, fascinated, as a pink tinge steals across his cheeks.
"My… person?" Poe says. His voice sounds shredded.
It gives Finn a boost of confidence, enough to grin and say, "Yeah. Your person. Who gets you off. You know." He gestures up and down with his right hand.
Poe looks appalled. "That was the worst come-on I've ever heard," he says, but Finn notices his cheeks have only gotten pinker, and he hasn't let go of Finn's hand. He resists the urge to pump the air, lest Poe thinks Finn's trying to do better.
"You haven't said no," Finn points out slyly, adding a slow blink for good measure. "There's really no one who does that for you?" It's kind of a shock. Poe is smoking hot and a SUPER BADASS pilot.
BB-8 makes a rude sound, and Finn jumps. He'd forgotten the cuteball was there. When he looks back, though, his stomach clenches, because Poe is frowning at him and it's awful.
"Why do you say it like that?" Poe asks softly. "Like it would be one-sided? I want to get you off, too."
All of Finn's celebration days have come early. "You do?" he asks, heart in his throat. He never dreamt he could be so lucky.
Poe arches one eyebrow. It's devastatingly attractive. "Uh, yeah? That's how dating works?"
"Not where I'm from," Finn snorts under his breath.
...Or, apparently not that quietly at all, because BB-8 rears back to stare at him with a distressed beep, and so does Poe (without the noise, but with the facial expression equivalent).
"Tell me," Poe says, sounding strangled, "how it works in your experience."
Finn shrugs, wincing at the pull, and does.
Honestly, Poe is acting very weird right now. Finn would be fine with that, except Poe lets go of his hand, and that's so horrible, it physically hurts a little.
"And that's what you want with me," Poe says flatly.
Finn swallows. "Um, I mean. I'd like to kiss you too? I'm a really good kisser, I promise." WHY did he say that?! Finn has never kissed anyone in his life. "And I, uh, I liked the idea of you getting me off, too? That would be… I think it would be nice? Plus, I give real good head. I'll make it worth your while." He doesn't think he has ever blushed so hard. Thank Powers it's mostly impossible to tell with his dark skin.
Poe is breathing hard, like he's angry. Finn draws back, feeling nauseated. "Sorry, it was just, I just thought. Forget I said anything," he mutters. Why does the ground fail to open up and swallow him when he needs it?
He waits for Poe to leave.
Poe doesn't leave.
He does stand up, and step closer. Finn's entire face is on fire now; he feels like a squigram in the headlights, frozen motionless with fear.
Then Poe is leaning closer, and pressing a kiss to his lips. It's soft, and sweet, and Finn melts under it, closes his eyes and kisses back as best he can, so careful and wanting so badly for it to never end. But end it does. Poe pulls back, a dazed look in his eyes. His hand is on Finn's face, stroking his cheek.
"Oh," Finn says, sounding like Poe looks. "Oh, that was. That was nice." He knows he's looking at Poe kind of like Poe is the sun and Finn is a yellowflower that lives its life seeking those rays, but he can't help it. It's a lot. Overwhelming. And he wants so much.
"Light, Finn," Poe mutters. Finn doesn't get why Poe is looking at him like he's fragile, and he doesn't like it.
"What?" he snaps back. "Come on, Poe, I'm not a virgin. If you don't want me for that, just say so."
Poe's jaw ticks.
"Tell me what you want from me," he demands.
Finn rolls his eyes. He should tell Poe to fuck off, he really should, except Poe is stupidly gorgeous and clever and kind. "However much you want to give me, fuck. What's gone into you?"
"And if I said I wanted to date you? I mean, a reciprocal exchange of affection and sexual activities?"
Finn can't believe his ears, or his luck. "Yes," he yells. "Poe, there's no way I'd turn that down. That's… I never thought I could have that."
"Well, you can," Poe declares, eyes blazing. Finn resolutely does not swoon. "Freely given, with my best intentions."
Finn still doesn't know what Poe's deal is, or why he's making so much of this whole declaration, but he's no fool, and he isn't gonna look a gift transporter in the parts.
So he smiles, and hooks a finger around Poe's hand, and tugs him closer. "Okay," he says, absolutely in no way capable of dimming the smile taking over his face. "So, um. Kiss me again?"
Poe bites his lower lip (it's still just as distracting as before), then leans in, and does.
It's not fireworks, but if anything could spark a dying sun back to light, this just might be it.