Falling in love with Rey is very different from falling in love with Finn.
Flying a TIE fighter was all acceleration. Push the throttle and you're going a thousand miles an hour, quick as that. You feel it drag at your bones, push you back into your seat, the gravitational force hitting you hard. Like: the removal of a helmet. A name. An embrace, and his jacket fitting snug over broad shoulders. Love hitting you with a velocity you're powerless to fight against (and why would you, Poe thinks, when you could push out the throttle further and feel the burn of acceleration). Poe feels every minute of falling in love with Finn, from the moment the Stormtrooper pulls off his helmet and says, uncertainly, it's the right thing to do.
He lets the fire lick at him, burn him up like spaceship fuel, every time Finn smiles, and oh, he smiles so much, now. Now that he's out of medical and walking, and Rey is home all lit up with something Poe can't feel but knows must be the Force his mother talked about so much. The two of them are inseparable. Poe tags along, a third wheel and knowing he's a third wheel, and he still feels the force and the velocity of it.
Rey's cautious of him at first, uncertain of his relationship and hers and how they fit together with Finn, and Poe takes care to be as easy and charming as he knows how. She watches the way Finn looks at him, relaxes into it and begins to laugh at his jokes. Eats every different kind of cake in the mess, one after another, until she's complaining her teeth ache with the sweetness, and then eats another at his urging, because Corellian air cake is his favorite. Picks up his helmet where it's sitting on the shelf next to her, puts it too-large on her head, makes noises like explosions with her mouth and grins out at him from under the visor. Fights Finn, teaches him how to move with a quarterstaff, dances around him lithe and easy and quick on her feet. Wears the jacket, sometimes, when it's cold and Finn can see she needs a little comforting. It's comedically over-large on her, slouchy through the shoulders and hanging long over her wrists, and Poe grins to see it, likes the idea of something of his being used in this two-part act of care.
Poe watches the way Finn looks at Rey, too, sees how Finn's eyes are lit up with something that can only be love. Poe can see Finn's shocked by it, surprised, uncertain of how to proceed. He wonders what it must be like, to come out of Starkiller, to come out of years, decades of absolute discipline and to discover something like love so quickly. It must be a cultural shock, he thinks, and it's no wonder Finn wears bewilderment like a garment whenever he gazes at Rey. It burns, a little, just an extension of the burn Poe's felt all along for Finn, but he's deep in acceleration there, can't pull back the throttle now.
An X-Wing, though. An X-Wing doesn't handle like a TIE fighter. In an X-Wing with a good pilot, you can take off so smooth you've pushed through the atmosphere before you even realize you've left the surface of your world. Shara Bey was a good pilot, a great pilot, and the first time Poe ever went up into the air, it was nestled in her lap, looking out into the clear dark sky and the arc of the Yavin gas giant floating ahead and then, belatedly, at the ground that's dropped away beneath them, the green of Yavin 4 receding into nothing but a smudgy haze of jungle and water and earth.
He's the best pilot in the galaxy, he jokes, but even so, he can't always take off so smooth and fluid. When it happens, his breath catches in his throat, and his heart beats faster, and it's everything he loves about flying.
Finn loves physical contact, Poe discovers, loves bumping knees and thighs together in the mess benches, loves leaning his shoulder in against Poe's, loves hugging, embraces that are all unselfconscious and warm and genuine, bodies pressed up against each other. He's picked up Poe's habit of calling people buddy, clapping them on the shoulder with an open hand. Finn's so warm Poe can hardly stand it.
Rey's not as physical, more aloof in a way Poe can only think of as protective, but she holds Finn's hand like it means something, and the sight of it aches just a little. Poe likes Rey, likes her a lot, wants her to like him back, and she just eats another air cake, and licks carbosyrup off her fingers, and leans a shoulder in against him in a gesture that can only have been picked up from Finn.
And then Rey smiles, one day, smiles so blinding that Poe's breath catches. It's exactly the kind of love that's like an X-Wing take-off, so smooth he hadn't even realized he was falling in love with her at all until her smile drops everything out from underneath him and he realizes the ground is far below and he's floating free and untethered in the clear space of the sky.
Once he realizes, learns he's in love with them both, it only gets harder to navigate, because they're both so, so clearly in love with each other.
"I don't know the sky here, the stars, they're all different from Jakku," Rey complains, and Poe thinks, I can give you that at least, let me show you, and it's too easy to offer.
"You can learn them on a holo display," he says, "but why don't we go up on the roof tonight and look at them? We could take dinner up there, have a picnic." He says it so smoothly, artfully casual as if his heart isn't beating hard at the thought of Rey's face under the open night sky.
"What's a picnic?" Rey asks, and BB-8 explains in excited whirring. Rey gives Poe a very dry look. "Eating outside," she says, "as if I haven't done that my whole life," and Poe's about to apologize when he catches the sparkle in her eye, the twitch at the corner of her lips. Rey teasing him, Rey smirking at the joke she's made, it takes his breath away all over again, makes him stutter.
"I'll bring forest-honey cake," he says, "you'll like it, I promise."
He doesn't just bring forest-honey cake. He brings his old guitar, battered from years of dragging it from base to base, and a blanket from his bunk, and rounds of cheese he's wheedled out of the head of supplies. Rey brings Finn, and a bottle of Corellian wine she says Master Luke gave her. Finn brings a loaf of bread, real bread, because he's learning to bake and his sleeves and sweater are always dusted with flour now. BB-8 brings nothing except the uncomfortable sense, for Poe, that the droid is both judging him and laughing at his pining.
Poe points out his favorite constellations, and they drink wine straight from the bottle because nobody brought any cups, and Poe tries very hard not to watch the way Finn's lips wrap around the mouth of the bottle, or how Rey eats honey cake as if she's discovering a new world, until he can see how sticky her fingers are even in the dark.
"What's this?" Finn asks eventually, touches his guitar with one finger, and Poe smiles, picks it up, strums the strings thoughtfully.
"A musical instrument," he tells Finn, "it was my father's."
"Play us a song," Finn asks, obviously delighted, and Rey murmurs agreement, still looking up at the stars.
"A song, huh," Poe teases, tightens the strings until they're in tune. "What kind of a song?"
"Something you know and we don't," Finn says. Rey snorts.
"Do you mean, every song in the system?" she asks, softens it with a smile and a brush of her hand against Finn's knee.
"There's an old song I know," Poe says after a pause of consideration, finds his fingering, starts playing. Dicen que por las noches no más se le iba en puro llorar; dicen que no comía, no más se le iba en puro tomar, he sings, remembers his father's voice in the close and heady warmth of a Yavin 4 evening, how his mom had joined in with a sweet and easy harmony and the way the notes had drifted off into the jungle always encroaching at the edge of their yard.
"Oh," Rey says softly, leans back against Finn's thighs, watches him play.
Juran que el mismo cielo se estremecía al oír su llanto, he continues, and Rey glances at BB-8, listens to it quietly chirp a translation. [they swear that even the night skies tremble with pity] BB-8 says, [to his sad wails and sharp cries] and Rey sighs a little.
"What does it mean?" Finn asks, gently braiding and unbraiding Rey's hair, and Poe lets himself look at them as he plays, lets the emotion shiver in his voice. Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay cantaba, and Rey smiles, just a little.
"It's a song about love," she says, wistful, her gaze fixed on Poe's fingers as he picks out the chords and melody. Yes, Poe thinks, yes, a song about love, that's it, and when he reaches the next verse, Que una paloma triste muy de mañana le va a cantar, his voice catches, breaks on the note.
"It sounds sad," Finn says, his fingers still combing through the strands of Rey's hair in a way Poe can't take his eyes off for how delicate and easy Finn makes it look. Rey lifts a piece of forest-honey cake to Finn's mouth, lets him eat it from her fingers, licks them clean, and Poe's voice hitches again.
"It is sad," Rey agrees, and Finn frowns.
"I don't like sad songs about love," he says, determined in his new opinion, and Rey laughs.
"It's just a song," she says, but she's looking at Poe as she says it, her eyes clear and knowing, and Poe struggles to finish, drops his gaze. BB-8 whirrs applause when he's done, and he keeps strumming the guitar, picking out a random melody, focusing on the strings so he doesn't have to look up.
"I like your voice, though," Finn says. "Don't you like his voice, Rey?"
"Yes," Rey murmurs, "yes," goes silent for a moment. "I can't sing," she says, "but I can tell a story, about love, if you want me to." Poe tilts his head in assent, stills his fingers, and Rey smiles, shakes her own head. "No," she tells him, "keep playing, just like that," and then she doesn't shift at all, doesn't sit up, but she's somehow drawing herself together in a way that makes Poe think, unbidden, of Luke teaching the Force at the Academy. "A long time ago," she begins, "in a system far away, there was a girl named Dosmit Reah, and she could fly."
"She could fly?" Finn asks, eyes wide, and Rey swats at him.
"No interruptions," she says, still smiling, "this is my story. Dosmit Reah could fly, in her ship, and she went many places, many systems, and no matter how far she went, she always knew where home was. But one day, Reah crashed on a planet far out at the edges of space, and when she woke up, she had forgotten everything she knew." Rey falls silent for a moment, nibbles a little more honey cake, swallows some wine.
"She thought her family would find her," Rey says softly. "But they didn't know where her ship had crashed, or they had forgotten her, or they were dead, and nobody came for Reah, not on the first day or the second day or the five thousandth day, and Reah knew she was alone."
"Why did she forget?" Poe asks, and Rey glances up at him. "When she crashed?"
"The planet stole memory," she tells him, "or someone had been in her head, in her thoughts, or the crash muddled her brain. It's not important. What mattered is Reah was alone, and she could only rely on herself to survive, every day, day after day. She waited and she waited, and then, finally, a man came to the planet, and he said he was a friend. 'I've never seen a friend before,' Reah told them, and he smiled very bright. 'Well, this is what we look like,' the man said, 'some of us,' and he took her hand, but Dosmit Reah did not know what to do with a hand held in hers. 'I don't need your help,' she said, and the friend tried to convince her to leave her planet with him anyway, to run with him somewhere safe, because he was afraid to stay, but Reah was afraid to go."
"This doesn't feel like a story about love," Finn says, and Rey rolls her eyes.
"I'm getting there," she chides, "so impatient, Finn. Reah was afraid to go, but she could not stay behind, and she could not turn back, and she could not stop what the universe wanted of her. So she fought, and she was taken, and again, she thought, nobody would come for her." Poe shivers, remembers being locked in place while Ren picked through his thoughts, and his fingers stall on the strings for a moment. Rey is still lying with her head in Finn's lap, but when Poe looks up, Rey's looking at him, and her gaze feels warm and tender and understanding.
"Reah was wrong," Rey continues. "Because there were people who had not forgotten, this time, and people who came for her, and though they were injured and the battle was hard, at the end of it all they stood together, and Reah felt what she had forgotten, and what she had discarded as unimportant."
"Love," Finn sighs happily, and Poe hides a smile.
"Love," she agrees. "Reah's friend had a friend, someone who he too thought was lost, and his friend became Reah's, the three of them together like moons in an orbit. And Reah discovered that although there were still things she had forgotten, and gaps where what she had lost would never be found, love was something she could discover new, like discovering the way the Force ran warm through her, or how many cakes there were in the whole universe, and Reah felt like she was eating and eating until love was so sweet in her mouth that it ached." She falls silent, and Poe hums a little, las piedras jamás, paloma, ¿qué van a saber de amores?
"Wait," Finn says, frowning. "Is that the end of the story?"
"Yes," Rey says, closes her eyes. "I don't know where it goes from there."
Poe feels that weightlessness again, Rey's words dropping everything out from under him, and then, glancing at Finn's face, the burn of acceleration too. He's a good pilot, he's the best pilot, but he doesn't know how to pick his way through this space.
"But-" Finn says, pauses, looks a little shy at Poe and then touches his fingers softly to Rey's mouth. "Why would love hurt?"
"If you love two people," Poe says. "Or you love someone and they don't love you back." His voice is rough, like his throat aches, and he sets his guitar down, looks up at the sky without seeing it. There's a constellation there, in the D'Qar system, one he'd pointed out earlier. Every pilot knows it, the Crux Minor. Follow its point and you'll fly straight home, even without bearings or navigational equipment. Poe feels, right now, like he has neither bearings nor navigational equipment, like he needs a crux to follow home. He closes his eyes, listens to the hum of their conversation.
"But," Finn says again. "Why can't you love two people?"
"Why?" Poe asks, and hears Rey say again, the three of them together like moons in an orbit.
"You can," Rey says very easily, shifts herself so her feet are tucked under Poe's thigh. "If you all want it."
"Don't we?" Finn says. "Don't we all want it? Isn't that how the story ends?"
"I don't know," Rey shrugs, "ask Poe," and it's a surprise that makes Poe's eyes fly open.
"You're in love with each other," he says, because it seems like an important place to start.
"And?" Finn asks, looking at him as if he's a prize idiot. "Aren't you in love with us both?"
He is. Of course he is. He learned that weeks ago. He didn't realize that all the time he was watching them, Finn and Rey were watching Poe right back, watching the way he looked at them and putting together every hitched breath and careful pause and easy press of his thigh against theirs. Rey's a pilot too, knows how to fly deft through all these rocks hanging in the conversational air, and Finn, Finn's always been good at spotting the target and taking aim at what matters.
"Aren't you?" Finn asks again, and Poe lets out a long breath, wraps his hand around Rey's ankle.
"Yes," he tells them. "Yes. Yes," and when they both smile, Poe feels the acceleration before either one of them ever kisses him.