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Human After All

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The jacket is ruined now. There's a burned slash down the spine of it and Finn holds it lamely in his hands. He's been awake three days. The skin on his back still feels like it wants to rip itself apart again when he moves too quickly. The scar will linger all his life, Finn knows, but honestly, he's more upset about the jacket. He's never had something of his own before, something he wanted to keep and treasure.

Finn turns when the door behind him opens to reveal Poe. He's in an undershirt and long pants—sleepwear, his hair pushed up to one side from his pillow. 

"Nice cut," he says. "Looks very distinguished." 

Finn tries to laugh but fails. It's not quite light out yet. He's been watching the daybreak outside the base since he woke up. Sleep hasn't been coming easily since his broke the coma. When he found out Rey was gone he wanted to go after her. It took both General Organa and Poe to convince him not to, to wait. He feels itchy now, listless, like he's walking in mud.

"Sorry," he says.

Poe takes a seat next to him, creases still visible on his cheek from sleep. Finn stares at them without thinking to look away. 

"What?" Poe says. "Don't apologize, it's your jacket, remember?" 

He gestures for the jacket and Finn gives it over to him. Poe sticks his hand through the hole and wiggles his fingers. This time, Finn laughs.

"That's nothing a patch job can't fix." 

"Are you saying you can sew?" Finn asks. 

"Best tailor in the galaxy," Poe says, and winks. 

He's already given him two things. A name. A jacket. Finn doesn't want to ask for anything else. Poe's already given him more than anyone else ever had. He scratches the back of his neck, self-conscious, and shrugs. 

"You really don't have to—" 

"C'mon, it's no big deal." Poe's hand closes over his shoulder. "I owe you."

Finn is positive that should be coming from him, though he doesn't say so. A selfish part of him wants that. This must be humanity, he thinks. 


"I lied about being the best tailor," Poe says the next day.

He hands Finn the jacket back and it's got stray thread sticking out like animal hair, the fabric bunched and wrinkled where Poe sewed the material back together. Finn doesn't care.

"Thanks," he says, and slips the jacket on, and feels better than he has since he woke up. 


He decides he wants to do something for him. He wants to give Poe something. Being a Stormtrooper was like being a clock—he was wound, he moved, and if he faulted, he was wound again. There was no empathy. There was no sympathy. But he's Finn, now, he's human, and he wants so terribly to give Poe something. That sort of desire makes his skin prickle, and, walking to mess hall, Finn feels something prickle and spark in his chest. It's not something he's ever felt before. This is humanity. It must be. And he likes this part of it, this giddy lightness. 

The trouble is, Finn has nothing to give him. He recognizes this when Poe waves to him across the hall. He grabs a tray and walks over, Poe's smile drawing him closer and closer. 

"Saved you a seat," Poe says. 

Finn sits with Poe and a few other pilots. He watches Poe dip his bread into the stew and take quick bites, talk with his mouth full and lean on his elbows to laugh. 

"How's your injury, Finn?" another pilot asks. 

"I'll be all right," Finn says. "It hurts less each day." 

"Good," the pilot says. "Because we need you training as soon as possible." 

"Me?" Finn pokes his own chest. 

"Of course," Poe says. "You're part of the Resistance." 

The way they all look at him makes Finn feel important, necessary, and forces the feeling from earlier back into his chest. He stirs absently as his stew and steals more glances at Poe. He wants to give him something, anything, everything. 

"Oh, that reminds me," Poe says. 

Finn turns his gaze into his stew and takes a hurried spoonful. It's scalding, but he swallows past the heat. 

"I have something for you," Poe says. "I'll show you when you're finished." 

Finn can't stop the smile that comes. 


Once they finish, Poe takes him to his bunk and hands him his very own blaster. Finn takes it with both hands, practically shaking. It isn't that he's never had a blaster before, but somehow coming from Poe, it feels like a lot more than that. Finn wanted to give him something, but somehow Poe beat him at the turn again. 

"Thanks," he says. 

"I wish I could say I hope you never have to use it, but…" 

Poe shrugs, and the look up at the same time, eyes catching. Finn's lungs feel cold suddenly. He doesn't look away, feels like he can't. And Poe doesn't look away either. There is something in this moment that Finn can't even begin to try and define. His head feels lighter but his feet feel heavy, and the longer Poe watches him the more Finn forgets that anything is happening outside of this. 

"I'll be careful," he says finally, much lower than he intended. 

Poe clears his throat and looks off over Finn's left shoulder. The moment seems different now, and Finn isn't sure if he did something wrong or not. In fact, he feels more out of depth than ever. His heart is pumping too hard, the sound of it too loud. 

"I know," Poe says. 

Their shoulders brush when he leaves. Finn stands in the bunk still holding the blaster, waiting for his heartbeat to calm down. His neck is burning hot. This is humanity. It aches.


He remembers not having feelings. He remembers conditioning, cold metal prods when their eyes faltered. Finn remembers the training, his number called by shrill voices and the way it all felt like steel scraping in his brain. They told him one thing, and for a while he believed it. He had nothing else. And then time passed and it made less sense, and the cruelty made his guts twist and knot. But he'd look around and no one else would react.

"Watch," Phasma said to them once. "This is what disobedience gets you." 

And she shot down three villagers in front of them—mother, son, daughter. No one flinched. No one moved but Finn felt a hot horror creep up his feet and settle into his neck and chest. He thought he was defective. 

When he woke up from his coma, for a moment he thought he was back with the First Order. He jerked upright and his mind told him to run, run, run, but his body pulled him back down. Finn breathed in and exhaled coughing. He was safe. He was with the Resistance. The sound his breathing was broken when a medical droid entered, calling attention to his wakeful state, checking his vitals. 

"I'm all right," he said. "I'm all right—where's Rey?" 

The droid cocked its head. 

"Where's Rey?" Finn said again. "Where's Poe?" 

The droid finished checking his blood pressure and then scurried out. Finn wanted to follow after it, but his body was heavy and the injury on his back ached so badly it felt like it was still burning. He waited in the room, alone, and felt it truly for the first time. Then he heard the slapping of feet in the hallway, the sound of someone running. Finn couldn't push himself upright to look but the door slid open and there was Poe's voice, "Finn!" and that loneliness left him just like that. 

"Finn," Poe said again. "You're awake." 

He kneeled next to him and grabbed Finn's hand his both of his own and shook it. He looked so relieved, so open and vulnerable and for a moment Finn wanted to run away, he wanted to go back. He wanted to forget feeling, and his name, and worrying about people dying and knowing suddenly that love meant pain. But the feeling passed the moment Poe squeezed his hand. 

"You're gonna be okay," Poe said. 

Finn nodded, slowly. 

"I am," he said.


A few days after Poe gives him his blaster, Finn meets with General Organa in her private office. She carries herself so calm and regal and Finn feels awkward in her presence. She notices immediately and laughs.

"Sit down," she says. "Have a drink."

She pours them both a glass of Corellian wine. Finn sniffs the glass. He's never actually had alcohol before. They weren't allowed any as Stormtroopers—it might mess with the programming. He takes a tentative sip and finds it's a bit sweet. General Organa watches him, amused, before taking a sip of her own.

"This was Han's favorite," she says.

Finn presses his lips together and looks down. He learned shortly after waking up that Kylo Ren is their child. It makes him feel all the worse, having stood there and watched it, helpless.

"Don't worry," Organa says. "I didn't call you in here to grieve with me." 


"Please, call me Leia." 

"Leia," Finn says. "I'm sorry. I wish—I'm sorry, I wish I could've done more—" 

"Finn, you already did so much," she says. "That's why I wanted to talk to you. Without your help we never would have achieved that victory over the First Order."

Finn takes another sip of his wine. The cool tingle of alcohol lingers in his throat now.

"I just wanted to help," he said.

"And you did," Leia says, her fingers grazing along the delicate pattern of her glass. "Which is why you'll be honored at our ceremony for your bravery and sacrifice." 

Finn nearly drops the glass. He can't help stuttering, pointing to himself again. 

"Me? You're honoring me?" 

"Yes," Leia says. "You seem so surprised." 

"Because I didn't—" Finn struggles to find the words. "I just helped, I didn't—Poe was the one who made the shot that destroyed Starkiller Base." 

"And Poe is the one who asked me about honoring you." 

"Poe did?" 

Finn can't help how loud his voice comes out. He's done it again. Finn's neck and cheeks go hot, from the alcohol he tells himself. Leia leans back in her chair and swallows the last of her wine. The way she pauses, Finn thinks she must be thinking of Han. 

"I was already going to, you know," she says, leaning forward again. "But Poe gets very excited about things." 

It hits him then, truly, that he's going to be honored. He's going to get a medal. There will be a ceremony. And people will look at him and know he's done something good. He takes two big gulps to finish his wine and coughs, shuddering. 

"Thank you," he says, voice still tight from the wine. "Thank you, General Organa." 

"Thank you, Finn," she says.

Finn sets the glass back on her desk and stands to leave, adjusts his jacket and coughs once more to make sure his voice will work properly. He pauses, fingers tapping on the desk, and then speaks again. 

"If you wanted to give someone something, but you had nothing to give them, what would you do?" 

"Nothing at all?" Leia says, eyebrows up. 

"No," says Finn. 

Leia considers him for a moment. 

"Something from the heart," she says. 

Finn blinks. He doesn't understand what that means. He doesn't understand but he's embarrassed to say so, so he just thanks her again. He leaves with a warmer feeling from the wine. He goes to find Poe. 

He finds in his bunk, cleaning his blaster. Poe waves him in and the door pushes shut behind them. He takes a seat on his cot and runs a cloth over the blaster. 

"Don't droids usually handle this kind of maintenance?" Finn says. 

Poe shrugs. "Yeah, but I like to look over things myself every now and again." 

He sets the blaster down and gives Finn his full attention, waiting, expecting Finn to tell him why he's come looking for him. Finn realizes he doesn't actually have an answer for that yet. He just left wanting to find him, and now he has. Should it always, he thinks, be this hard? Is this humanity? This mess of feelings, of mistakes and highs and lows and confusion? He doesn't know. The last few days, Finn's wondered if he'd never have the opportunity to be so human. That maybe he missed it all entirely, and that part of the conditioning would never leave him. And now, staring at Poe, Finn thinks being human has come far too easy.

Poe takes the initiative before he can work up the courage to speak. 

"Are you all right?" he says.

Finn swallows. He makes himself speak.

"General Organa told me you talked to her about honoring me…I mean, not you honoring me, but."

"Oh, yeah, yeah," Poe says. "Of course I did. Are you kidding me, Finn? You deserve it."

"No," Finn says. "I mean, yeah, I just…"

He trails off, tongue-tied, and takes a dejected seat next to Poe on the cot. Before he can try and explain himself further, his stomach growls. Poe laughs and reaches beside the bed.

"Hungry?" he says, and pushes something into hand. "I've got a ration bar."

And just like that, again, he's given Finn something. It's so simple. Finn takes the ration bar dumbly. Then he swears.

"Dammit," he says. "Dammit!"

Poe blinks and leans back a bit. "Do you hate ration bars? Is that all they gave you in the First Order?"

"No," Finn says, clutching the bar. "No, it's not that. You just keep giving me things."

He doesn't mean to say it like that. But the frustration has him unable to articulate himself the way he wants, and he isn't used to this. He isn't used to feeling, to expressing. The silence that follows makes Finn feel like he's really messed up. 

"I like giving you things," Poe says eventually. "Sorry if that's too much."

His voice is soft and careful and the back of Finn's neck prickles. He likes giving him things. The words make Finn blush. He looks up and Poe is watching him, very human, very open. 

"No, no…I like it," Finn says. "I just wanted to give you something too."

Poe smiles, disarmed. "Finn, you don't have to do that. You don't have to do anything." 

"I know," Finn says, and he does, but he still wants to. And he thinks about what Leia said. From the heart. And then it's just that easy, and then he knows.

Poe touches his shoulder. Finn leans forward and kisses him. It's that quick. He presses his lips to Poe's and squeezes his eyes shut, barely counts to one before pulling back. He has no idea if that was the right thing to do or not. He thinks that's part of it, though, not knowing. Poe is staring at him. Finn feels like the galaxy would explode around them and he'd still only remember this face—this moment.

"I take it back," Poe says, voice thick. "That's a good thing to give."

Finn smiles. They meet for it this time, Poe holding Finn's shoulders with both hands now. Finn drops the ration bar and tangles his hands in Poe's shirt and feels the hot breath of his mouth as his lips slide open, the quick press of his tongue. He shudders at Poe's teeth scraping against his lips. Blood pools in his groin. He wants, he wants, he wants. This is humanity. Finn decides he'll get used to it.