The moment she stepped off the Falcon’s ramp she found herself being hugged by a stranger, something that would normally be guaranteed to raise her hackles, but she gave into it instead, holding tight, giving in to the elation and cheers around her.
Except he wasn’t really a stranger, not quite. BB-8 was on his heels, dancing around them excitedly as they finally introduced themselves, and she knew the name that would fall from his lips before he actually said. Poe Dameron, BB-8’s Master and Finn’s friend and…
She stepped back, face falling, turning back to the ramp as Chewbacca made his way down, carrying Finn. Next to her, she could feel all elation and happiness leave Poe in one violent shudder of his whole body as he moved forward, trying to asses Finn.
“He fought Kylo Ren,” she said quietly and saw Poe stilling completely, face drained of colour. “I’m not sure…” she noticed an older woman watching them and felt the grief coming out of her in waves. Han, she thought, and that was another thing. “I’m sorry…” she muttered and Poe nodded at her grimly, hand clasping her shoulder tightly, warm and comforting, even in this moment.
“They’re taking him to medbay, I’ll go check on him,” he offered before rushing off, her shoulder stinging with the loss of contact.
A moment later she found herself embraced by another stranger who wasn’t and let her tears fall.
She found Poe in the medbay, sitting on the corridor’s floor, still wearing his pilot uniform.
“They’ve rushed him into surgery,” he told her. She could see the dark circles under his eyes now, as if the exhaustion finally caught up with him. “Severe spine injury, made worse by the fact that he was moved.”
“We had to…”
He shook his head, reaching out to her. She blinked at his extended hand, her eyes stinging, but after a moment grasped it with hers and slid down to the floor next to him, their legs pressed together.
“I know,” he told her. “You got him out of there, there’s nothing more you could have done,” he ran his thumb over her knuckles and it eased something inside her chest, something cold and tightly wound. “The main problem right now is that we’re out of bacta, our last shipment has been compromised. They’re doing it the old fashioned way,” he added with a grimace, running his hand over his face, rubbing at his eyes with the back of it.
She wanted to help somehow, but she felt paralysed with worry herself, any words of comfort or platitudes dying on her tongue.
“I’m not very good at this, aren’t I?” he muttered, surprising her.
“I wanted to say something comforting, but I’m making a mess out of it. I wanted to say he’ll pull through.”
Rey blinked at him, turning to get a better look at his face, the worry and kindness in his eyes. “You’re not making a mess out of it,” she told him softly, feeling a smile tug at her mouth. She let it bloom, a little surprised she still could smile.
Poe grinned at her in return, quick and wide, the lines around his eyes crinkling. He looked like a man whose smiles came easy but still mattered a lot.
BB-8 bounced off the steps leading to the corridor, whistling at them. [Debriefing at 1700 standard] it informed Poe and rolled over to them, nudging at Rey’s foot. [Inquiry: Finn’s status?] The droid hesitated a little, head rolling to the side. [Will he be okay?]
“He has to be, buddy,” Poe told BB-8 firmly before Rey can answer. She glanced up as he scrambled to his feet, letting go off her hand. His mouth was set in a determined line, like he’s decided Finn was going to be alright and could make it happen by the sheer force of his will.
[Well-intentioned lie?] BB-8 asked and Poe huffed a laugh, placing a hand on the droid’s head.
“More like wishful thinking, but he’s been through worse.”
Rey wasn’t so sure, but she found herself nodding anyway, some of Poe’s conviction apparently quite contagious.
“I need to go to the debriefing,” he told her reluctantly, glancing at the door to the surgery room. “You’ll be here?”
“Wouldn’t move for the world,” she said firmly, noting the relief flickering through his face. He turned to head out before hesitating, his limbs slow with reluctance. “I’ll send BB-8 if there are any news,” she told him and his shoulders dropped, some small part of his anxiety easing up.
He turned to nod at her, a small grateful smile on his lips, before walking out, and Rey sighed, letting her head fall against the wall, settling herself in to wait.
She’s jostled awake by someone moving next to her, even though they’re clearly trying to be careful. But she’s lived alone for a long time, wary of scavengers and thieves, and even the softness and warmth of something over her woke her, her hand feeling around for a weapon that wasn't there.
“Sorry,” Poe said, grimacing in the half-dark of the corridor. “Didn’t want to wake you up,” he added, looking down at the blanket he put over her with an apologetic shrug. “But since I did, I also brought food.” He handed her a covered metal plate and she could feel the rich smell wafting towards her.
“Thanks,” she muttered, grabbing the plate. Stew of some kind, still warm and rich, full of flavour and spice. A little too spicy for her, after years of all but tasteless rations Plutt was dealing out, but she gulps all of it down anyway, her tongue burning.
“Oh, here,” Poe muttered, reaching to the large pocket of the flight suit he was still wearing and producing too bottles of cold water.
“Don’t you want some?” she asked, a little ashamed to realise when most of the large portion was already gone.
“I ate before I came here,” he said, and he was lying so clearly, so blatantly, she stared at him for a moment.
“You are a terrible liar,” she said with some awe at the fact that he’d lie to make her feel better, to let her have all of the food.
Poe shifted back a little, putting his hand over his heart, as if she had wounded him dearly. “I am a brilliant liar, if need be,” he told her firmly, then made a little a-ha sound, as if remembering something. “Almost forgot,” he said, taking something else out of his pocket, wrapped in foil. Some sort of pastry, fluffy and golden. He reached out to hand it to her and she tilted her head at him pointedly.
“Share it with you?”
He sighed in exasperation but nodded at her. When he broke it down into two parts and handed her the larger piece, she did him the courtesy of not commenting.
She pulled the pastry apart, stuffing a large piece into her mouth and chewing while she watched him eat. Before, she had only known his name as the man who inspired devotion in BB-8, and whose death made grief come off Finn in waves - she could feel it since their first conversation, but at the time didn’t know or suspect he and Poe had just met one another. She expected to like him well enough, but not quite like this, like they’re friends already, even if all they really have in common is the man lying in the medbay and the droid by their side.
He was watching her as well and she wondered what he thought of her, the scavenger girl who stumbled into this great fight, feeling her way blindly. But his eyes were kind and his smile friendly and she forced herself to relax under his gaze.
“Did you hear anything?” he asked, gesturing at the still closed door, and Rey shook her head.
“No, sorry, I fell asleep and didn’t think to ask if…”
He touched her shoulder briefly in comfort and stood up swiftly, stepping towards the door and rapping his knuckles against it. The medic who opened it was an older woman, her gaze tired but kind when she looked Poe up and down and then glanced down to Rey.
“Dameron, I didn’t know you were here.”
“We didn’t want to interrupt but we need to know,” he said quietly, gesturing between himself and Rey. “How’s Finn?”
“He’s out of surgery, for now. We’ll see if the implants take. We could do more if we get the bacta shipment soon enough, but there’s no telling if we do. He’s still unconscious and likely remain so for now. The visitor’s list is restricted to family for now…”
“He is a former stormtrooper who helped me escape from the Order, Dr. Kalonia. We’re the closest thing to family he has,” Poe said simply and Rey nodded firmly, standing up. The medic looked between them both, then down at BB-8, who was humming impatiently, positively vibrating on the spot, then sighed.
“Fine, you can come in and see him,” she told Poe, who grinned widely, practically bouncing on his heels. “You owe me one, Dameron, and this means that you’re going to come by after your next mission without protest or avoidance tactics and get your proper check-up.”
Poe straightened and tossed her off a quick salute with a sharp “yes, ma’am” and she shook her head at him, exasperated and fond. He moved in to kiss her on the top of her head briefly before reaching to wave Rey in, a new spring in his step.
She felt his excitement at seeing Finn mirrored in her, a new energy in her bones drowning out the exhaustion. It didn’t last long, melting at the sight of Finn’s prone body, stretched on one of the beds, his heartbeat loud in the chamber. It was a steady beat, and the only thing that was keeping her from crying. Guilt twisted in her stomach, cold and heavy. He picked up the lightsaber to protect her, he went to the base to find her in the first place.
“Hey,” Poe muttered behind her, placing his hand on her back gently, warm and steady. “Go on,” he said encouragingly and she had no choice but to step forward, reaching out to grasp Finn’s hand in hers. Finn’s hand was cold and dry, unlike the times he took her hand on Jakku, when it was warm and clammy and she had shaken it off back then, but now she desperately wanted his fingers to grasp hers.
He remained still, just the steady rise and fall of his chest and the heartbeat in her ears to hold on to. She felt her eyes stinging again, her body shudder with everything she was holding back.
She couldn’t quite believe how short they have known each other, and yet he has become maybe the most important person in her life, her true friend. There could be a place for her in the Resistance, but she couldn’t imagine taking it without him, without the man who wanted so desperately to run and yet came back to save her. The same man who stumbled and fell on Jakku and yet his first thought was to ask if she was okay.
“Here,” Poe said behind her, startling her a little, and she turned to see he had pulled a chair close to the bed and was gesturing at her to sit down. She took the chair gratefully with a nod and he smiled tightly at her before moving to pull up another one, from the other side of the room.
He sat down on Finn’s other side, his head bowed and Finn’s other hand clasped in his. “Hey, buddy,” he said quietly, his thumb running over Finn’s knuckles. “You gave us a right scare and honestly, this shtick is getting old. No more almost dying,” he said firmly, as if he could just will it.
He caught Rey’s gaze and shrugged at her, ducking his head a little, and she pushed a smile onto her lips to let him know she didn’t mind him talking. She envied that, a little, the way his words spilled easily, the way he felt so comfortable here, at Finn’s side. There was no guilt in him and no premature grief at what could have been or maybe what could be.
“You…” she started, her voice more of a croak than anything else and she paused to clear her throat. Words still couldn’t push past her throat, and in the end what she said was just “You care about him.”
“He saved me,” Poe told her, and she waited expectantly, knowing there was more from the way he huffed, a half-laugh, tired and fond. “I thought I was pretty much done for, and I knew not to expect a rescue from a First Order ship. And then there he was, taking off that helmet, and I don’t think I’ve ever…” he paused when he caught her eye and she nodded, breathing out.
“Yeah,” she muttered. She thought that maybe ‘care’ wasn’t the right word to use here.
“You could talk to him, if you want,” he said after a moment and Rey shrugged.
“I don’t know what to say. Do you think he can hear us?”
“No idea,” he said earnestly, gently turning Finn’s hand in his, palm up as he laced their fingers together. “But it can’t hurt and besides, it’s not just for him.”
She nodded and looked down on Finn, studying his face. She reached out, fingers tracing his cheek, the softest touch she could manage. “Hey, Finn,” she said, her voice a little above a whisper. “We did it, we got away from the base. Which you probably know, since we’re not dead,” she chuckled wetly, still teary. “I don’t know what to do,” she muttered, leaning in closer. “So much has happened, strange and terrifying and a little bit wonderful, it feels… I thought the Force was a myth and yet, here I am and…”
She felt Poe move to stand up, touching her shoulder briefly as he stepped away, as if to give her privacy. She was grateful for both, for the comfort and the space. That was another strange thing, not quite knowing what she wanted. Years alone made her wary of people, made it uneasy for her to talk this much, but Poe was apparently right and she needed both.
She started by squeezing Finn’s hand again. “I need you to wake up and help me make some sense of this,” she told him.
She could hear Poe talking to somebody in the next room, and she couldn’t help but eavesdrop.
“…me and her as the next of kin. Can you do that?” he was saying, someone huffing in response, and then a sound of someone typing fast.
“There is precedent, but I’m mostly doing this because I don’t want General Organa on my head asking why you’re moping,” another man replies, the voice clipped and with a guttural tinge that isn’t human. “I have your details, Poe, what about the girl?”
“Her name’s Rey.”
“And I’ll ask if she’d like to share more?”
A long-suffering sigh in response and more typing. Rey squeezed Finn’s hand again, turning back to him. “He’s a good man,” she told him. “Just like you. And we both need you to wake up.”
They settled into a mutually agreed on watch rotation, neither of them willing to leave Finn’s side but both insisting the other would get some rest.
Poe had some time to study the girl the whole base was talking about, the mysterious scavenger who found the Millenium Falcon, who brought in the map to Luke Skywalker, who fought and won over Kylo Ren. In the stories she was made of steel and desert sun, powerful and unflinching.
He watched her over Finn’s bed and there was steel in her, and there was the desert sun, but there was also an ocean of kindness, a world of barely hidden softness, as she held Finn’s hand and spoke softly to BB-8 and insisted Poe ate some of the food he brought in for her.
He was glad for her company, and reluctant to leave Finn’s side, always anxious when he had to. The medics were professing cautious optimism, but the prolonged sleep signalled not everything was alright. He couldn’t quite yet explain the fear to himself, the well of affection he held for Finn. They’ve met under the most extreme circumstances and they haven’t known each other for that long, but something in the other man called to him, something light and heady and unflinching.
For all that Finn wanted to run as far as possible from Jakku, he chose to find and bring BB-8 home instead. He chose again, to go back to the Order’s base and save his friend, and save them all.
When they met, the instant connection between them might have been adrenaline and elation at seeing someone human, someone willing to take risks and to help him. Probably have been. But now Poe couldn’t separate this from the twist in his stomach at the second sight of Finn, from the warmth of their brief embrace, from the tightening in his chest when Finn insisted on going down to the Starkiller base with determination on his face.
From the fear and pain when Chewbacca brought him out of the Falcon.
He could see this pain, and this warmth, reflected on Rey’s face, and it made him feel both better and worse.
They were sitting in companionable silence, sharing late lunch Poe brought in, when Jessika Pava poked her head into the medbay. “The General is looking for you,” she said, both Poe and Rey raising their heads questioningly. “Both of you,” she added. “Apparently they might have some good news on the Skywalker front.”
She took in their hesitance when they stood up, and sighed. “I can watch your boyfriend, let you know if he decides to wake up.”
“He’s not my…” Rey started and stopped, biting her tongue when Poe shook her head at her.
“Save this for the comedy nights in the mess, Pava,” he told her lightly and she saluted him lazily before pulling up a chair.
He found Pava by her fighter the next morning, cleaning out her repair kit.
“How are we with favours?” he asked her and she held up her hand, thinking for a moment, head tilted left.
“Yeah, by my count I owe you one for the couplings, so ask away.”
“The ceremony is tomorrow morning and afterwards Rey will be heading out. Can you get her a couple of clothes changes and anything else she might need?”
Pava gave him a searching look, putting down the cleaning rag. “Poe, are we finally going to talk clothes? Is this a girl talk that we’re having right now?”
He crossed his arms, leaning back. “Okay, have at it.”
“You gave away your one good jacket, do you own anything else but the flight suit?”
“How do you even know about the jacket?”
“Please. Everyone saw you two, the knitting circle is all a-flutter. So, clothes?” she asked, scrunching up her nose at him.
“You have the quartermaster wrapped around your little finger, Jess, that’s why I’m asking.”
“Oh, that,” she hummed happily. “There’s that. Okay, but this is much bigger than the couplings, you’re gonna owe me now.”
“When don’t I?” he sighed and patted her arm briefly. “Thanks.”
Later, when they were seating in the medbay, Rey fiddling with one of the datapads she got from General Organa and Poe quietly working on the letters to the families of the pilots who died in the Starkiller base attack, the quiet around them filled only with Finn’s heartbeat, Pava marched in proudly, handing Rey a wrapped package.
“Clothes change for the ceremony,” she explained. “I’ve left the rest of things with Chewbacca on the Falcon, you can look through them whenever, let me know if you need anything else, anything that doesn’t have to be specifically ordered I can get from the quartermaster. When you’re back we’ll have to talk to her about your future requisitions, but this should do for now,” she said, her voice rising in a question as Rey nodded dazedly.
“Good. Poe, I’ll see you later, do something about your hair, I think there’s something nesting in it.”
He thought about flipping her off, but for one it was unbecoming of her commander, and for another, she had already turned to leave and his hands went to his hair, patting it down.
“It looks fine,” Rey assured him, before looking down at the package in her arms, still seeming a little bemused. “I guess I owe you thanks for this,” she guessed and he waved her off.
“Jess took care of everything. We don’t really have time to set you up with a proper quarters and everything, but that can wait until you’re back.”
“Poe,” she muttered, stepping closer to him, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Thank you.”
He nodded, clenching his jaw around a sound of protest, thinking better of it. “You’re welcome.”
Poe was never quite comfortable in the dress uniform, but he was always eager to fulfil the General’s request, even if it meant this.
He stood next to her on the little makeshift podium, listening to her speech, and once again left in awe of this woman, who has just suffered another great loss and was turning the service into a message of hope for her people.
The service was dedicated to memory of all who lost their lives in the Starkiller base attack, but one name especially was on everyone’s mind - a great many of them grew up on the stories about the Rebellion’r greatest heroes and they’ve all thought Skywalker, Organa and Solo to be immortal, creatures of myth.
Even the General herself, who spent every day among the Resistance fighters, had been thought greater than life. Today too, when she acknowledged their losses and spoke about fighting for the future, everyone’s eyes shining a little brighter afterwards.
Poe was close enough, or maybe one of the few who were allowed to be close enough, to see her hands shake when she left the podium and let him guide her down the steps.
“Thank you, Commander,” she told him officially, then paused, looking up with concern. “You’re not sleeping enough,” she decided.
“Middle of the war, General, no one is sleeping enough,” he shot back and she was startled into a chuckle, nodding at him.
“Fair enough. How is Finn? You’ve been spending a lot of time in the medbay.”
She knew him well, or has been keeping tabs on him. Quite probably both, and he was touched but at the same time wished she wouldn’t worry like this; he should be the least of her concern.
Still, he probably shouldn’t have expected anything else from her.
“Cautious optimism is the general consensus.”
“Sounds like a lot of waiting and not a lot of answers,” she said dryly and it was his turn to be startled into a laugh.
“Yes, ma’am. Speaking of, I’ve been wondering if I could ask a favour of you,” he said, lowering his head, and she nodded expectantly for him to continue. “The bacta shortage. Permission to have a team put together a mission plan for securing a shipment?”
Her eyebrows rose at that and she tilted her head at him. “Seems like you’d be doing me a favour,” she said flatly before taking his hand in hers, palm over the back of his. “You know I can’t in good conscience deny you this one, Commander, but please be careful. No unnecessary risks.”
“This is important.”
“Yes, so be careful,” she told him firmly and tugged him a little closer and he obligingly lowered his head, accepting the kiss on the cheek with pride and affection warm in his chest.
“Yes, ma’am,” he told her and stepped back when she nodded at him again. She moved on down the path, stopping to talk with Ackbar, and he turned to find Rey on the edge of the crowd, fiddling with her bag and doing her best to answer Jess’ questions about the fight with Kylo Ren.
“Didn’t you hear this one like five times by now, Pava?”
“Yes but it’s the greatest,” she told him earnestly. “And don’t lie, you love hearing about it too.”
Part of it, he did. The part about Rey’s triumph, the part about her calling up the lightsaber to her. Less so about Finn’s injury, but still he felt pride bloom in his chest when hearing about how he took up the saber to defend Rey.
“Well,” Pava muttered, glancing at him. “I’m gonna go talk to Snap. Rey, good luck and safe travels,” she added, moving to hug the other woman briefly, Rey tensing for half a second before relaxing into it, hand patting Pava’s back.
“You’re doing better, you’ll be a pro by the time Finn wakes up,” he teased her and her mouth twitched in a smile.
“Take care of him?” she asked and he didn’t tell her it was a given, choosing instead to nod at her and take half a step closer.
“You take care of yourself.”
She rolled her eyes at him. “Right back at you, don’t forget to eat when I’m not here to remind you.”
“Got that one backwards,” he said and opened his arms exaggeratedly, willing to play it off as a joke if she needed him to.
She didn’t even hesitate before stepping forward, hand sneaking around his waist as she held on for what mast have been at least half a minute. “I will miss you,” she assured him and he nodded against the top of her head.
“Right back at you.”
She stepped back, smiling at him tightly before heading for the General and BB-8. He caught General Organa’s last words to her and saw the way Rey stood up a little straighter, a little less nervous. BB-8 hummed at her, offering to look after Finn and Poe for her, and while Poe wasn’t quite surprised at that, BB-8 has always been a bit of a mother hen at heart, he wasn’t sure when his wellbeing became this much of Rey’s concern.
Probably around the same time hers became his, he supposed.
“What would we need to just get Thyferra back from the First Order?” Pava sighed, resting her elbows on the table and peering at him from over the datapads. “Rough estimate?”
“The Republic’s Army in full force,” Snap told her and shrugged. “Maybe a couple of Jedis for backup.”
“Poe knows one,” Pava volunteered cheerfully and he stood up, picking up the reports they got from Statura’s aide.
“Thyferra is not the only option,” he said flatly and they all straightened up, immediately back to business. “There’s a merchant on Sullust willing to send a shipment if we take care of the security. Ground transport and flight both.”
Wexley reached for the copy of the report and scanned it quickly. “A little too convenient, could be a trap.”
“According to all of our reports, they’re still scrambling after the Starkiller base. A seriously planned ambush is unlikely,” Nien said.
“What about a jokingly planned ambush?” Pava asked, then shrugged. “Yeah, I’m in, boss.”
“I have a couple of contacts on Sullust who can take a look before we commit. No time for a solid recon, but asking around won’t hurt.”
“Good, get back to me with these,” Poe told him. “Wexley, want to take point?”
“Sounds good, I’ll have the route ready for tomorrow.”
“Alright, that’s all,” Poe clicked the display off and stepped back from the table. “Thank you.”
They had a plan ready to present to General Organa two days later, and she signed off on it, making it clear to everyone that it was volunteers only for this one. Pava grinned widely at her. “Had to draw for it, ma’am, everyone wanted to go.”
The General gave her a look before glancing at Poe, fond and stern at the same time somehow. “You’re being a terrible influence, Commander. Keep it up,” she added and he saluted smartly, making her smile. “Stay safe and may the Force be with you,” she told them softly.
He has heard her say it before, but now that he thought of it, not for a long time, not until Rey.
Their roster was being expanded, new pilots coming in daily now. The destruction of the Republic’s central system made waves, some cowering from the First Order, some flocking to the Resistance. The destruction of the Starkiller base in turn gave hope to those willing to pick up the fight.
The remnants of the Republic’s fleet, ships and commanders that weren’t stationed in the Hosnian, were slowly making contact.
Poe had been put in charge of the Starfighter Command, the official name given to their former much looser structure of the Reds and Blues. Dagger and Stiletto squadrons were called back in and the Rapier squadron was reinstated with new members. That meant weeks of test flights and trying to put the best working flight wings together - they didn’t have the simulators equipment that the Republic used to put them through, so it was manoeuvres training and occasional short supply runs, especially when it came to the newest pilots.
Kare rushed into his cramped office without knocking, a little flushed from a run. “Get moving,” she told him and Poe was on his feet even before asking, letting the datapad fall to the floor.
No alarm siren so not an attack, but it seemed important.
“Medbay,” she said, grinning, a hard pat on the back as they went through the door. “He woke up.”
He started running before she finished speaking, getting to the medbay in record time, breathing harshly.
“I told you he’d be here,” someone said but Poe didn’t look at them, focused on getting to Finn’s bed. Finn was sitting up a little, the bed raised to allow for it. He looked groggy, eyes a little unfocused, but definitely, fully, wonderfully awake.
Something made him look towards the door, blink at Poe and smile widely, blindingly. “You’re alive. I mean, they told me, but the last I’ve seen, things didn't look that great, from the ground.”
“We’ve managed, thanks to you.”
He shook his head. “That was… that was mostly Solo and Chewbacca. And Rey.”
“Not to hear her tell it,” Poe told him earnestly, sitting down in the chair that has been unofficially declared as his. He wanted to reach out and take Finn’s hand as has become his habit, but it was a little different now. He grasped the edge of the bed instead, fingers tapping anxiously against the sheet. “She went to find Skywalker, we put the map together,” he added.
“Yeah, the doctor said something about that,” Finn nodded, his smile dimming a little.
“Told me to look after you,” he offered, aiming to get the smile back. He wasn’t disappointed. “Well, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. BB-8 definitely picked up that mission, it’s been here every day.”
“And you?” it seemed to slip from his tongue unbidden, his gaze rising to meet Poe’s again, a quick flicker of something nervous on his face and Poe nodded quickly.
“Any time I could spare,” he admitted easily.
“Thanks,” Finn said earnestly, after a pause that seemed a little too long. “Okay, fill me in. What did I miss?” he asked, leaning back against his pillows. Poe should have probably insisted he’d get some rest, that everything else could wait, but he leaned in anyway, launching into the recap of everything that has been going on since the Starkiller base.
Finn was up in no time, definitely earlier than the medics were comfortable with given the extent of his injuries, but he had insisted. Going mad in the medbay, he said, unused to idleness.
He seemed unsure of his place, and his welcome. Even when General Organa came by to see how he was settling in, he seemed half-surprised she even remembered his name and half terrified at her questions.
“She likes you,” Poe told him flatly, because she did, and she looked at Finn with sympathy and concern.
“No, but that was Leia Organa,” he muttered, still sounding awed. As it was Poe’s regular emotion when it came to the General he wasn’t quite surprised, but the tinge of terror was surprising. Turned out the First Order had put their own spin on the history of the Empire and the Alliance and Organa was painted as a ruthless, reckless politician orchestrating Palpatine’s downfall in a desperate grasp for power.
“And I know that’s not true, but she’s still terrifying,” Finn muttered and Poe couldn’t help but laugh, a little delighted.
“You know, I’m a little bit offended the Order isn’t making up shit about me. Here’s to a new life goal.”
“Seriously?” Finn asked, startled into laughter.
“Well, they’re certainly talking shit about you, now. You’ve made it, buddy,” he said, patting Finn’s back for emphasis. His hand lingered a moment as Finn turned to grin at him, clearly intent on looking as theatrically self-satisfied as possible.
It was not quite a surprise, but still something of a soft shock blooming in his chest, how much he actually liked Finn.
Their first meeting was adrenaline and elation, excitement and fear, and Poe falling a little for the ray of hope, the realisation that there was a person behind that helmet and that ridiculous designation of a name, a person who was as scared and as determined as he was. It was a flash in the darkness, bright and sharp and brief.
And then he saw Finn back after Takodana and it was the same feeling of elation, like flying, full thrusters, but something else settling in his stomach, warm and happy, when it turned out that not only Finn has survived but also found BB-8, completed his mission, picked up his jacket and held on to it. He felt the same pull, the one that later kept him at Finn’s bedside, but it felt like something bigger than him, something like gravity.
Now it’ was small and quiet and calm and he was finally getting to know Finn, and it was better and worse than he could have thought it’d be.
Finn, who was competent and quick and who picked things up with alacrity that amazed Poe, and who worked harder than anyone to earn a place he’d already been given and gladly.
Who started learning binary to talk to BB-8, who picked things up from all over the place to keep as gifts for Rey even though his own quarters were only rudimentary furnished. He seemed to have limitless capacity for kindness that made something twist and turn in Poe’s chest.
He was falling to deep and too easily and couldn’t even find it within himself to fight it.
“They hauled in the new simulator, finally,” Jess told him, plopping down on the mess table next to Finn and reaching to steal food from Poe’s plate. He smacked her hand and she grinned unapologetically, popping the piece of fruit into her mouth. “So we’re testing it tonight, you know, the usual get wasted and fly like a drunken mynock fun. Your presence is requested.”
It took Finn a moment to realise she was talking to him and only after Poe nodded at him pointedly. “I’m not a pilot,” he protested. “I’m kind of terrible.”
It wasn’t even true, but Jess just shrugged. “That’s sort of the point. We get our best pilots really, really drunk before they’re allowed at the thing, so they’ll fuck up in spectacular ways. The newbies are always a little less scared of, you know, the whole flying under the great Poe Dameron thing after they’ve seen him crash and burn a couple of times.”
“Time-honored tradition,” Poe nodded seriously as Finn was starting to smile.
“So, you should come.” Jess told him firmly, her tone indicating she wouldn't take no for an answer.
And that was yet another thing, his pilots have apparently collectively decided to adopt Finn into their fold. There might have been a meeting Poe missed. He’s been pulled into the meetings and card games and forced to endure the meals with them, slowly going from bemused to highly entertained, eyes shining when he glanced at Poe with disbelief and excitement at their antics.
All in all, Poe was pretty much a goner, and the knowing look Jess was giving him was not helping at all.
By some stroke of luck, or something else at work, he happened to be in the command centre when Rey’s transmission came in - the holo a little jerky at the beginning, until they worked out the settings. She was beaming at them, an older man standing to her right, his eyes searching for General Organa.
Poe was on his feet before she even had a chance to speak, rushing out the room and up the stairs, trying to frantically recall where Finn was supposed to be this morning. He found him bent over the weapons bench, pulling apart one of the experimental rifles they’ve received last week.
He started smiling at Poe before the smile flickered into concern. Poe shook his head, catching his breath. “Rey’s calling, thought you might want to be there.”
One of the rifle components scattered to the floor and Finn turned around, walking backwards. “Sorry, I’ll get to it later,” he called to one of the weapons specialists and she rolled her eyes at him, waving him off.
Finn didn’t need to be told twice, running to the command, Poe on his heels. They’ve rushed inside just as the General was saying goodbyes to her brother, and she glanced at them, eyes shining. She nodded at Poe and turned to her aide. “Please transfer this to the comms room, I think somebody wants to speak to Rey.”
Rey nodded emphatically, wide grin and eyes filled with tears as she took in Finn, standing before her. Poe wasn’t sure if General Organa has told her he was awake already, but it was clear she was overjoyed.
“This way, go on in,” Poe pointed to the door and Finn rushed in. “I’ll see you later,” he told Rey’s image, raising his hand. “It was good to see you.”
“Poe,” she called out, stopping him from turning. “Stay.”
He nodded sharply as the transmission flickered out, catching General Organa’s gaze from the other side of the room. “You heard her,” she told him, her smile kind and knowing, as she gestured at the comms room. He didn’t need to be told twice, and turned on his heel to go and join Finn.
Rey and Finn were talking animatedly, one over the other, about everything that happened since the last time they’ve seen each other. Poe could barely follow even the parts he’s been here for, Finn jumping from subject to subject as Rey laughed delightedly.
He was content enough to lean against the wall, arms crossed as he watched them, not capable of holding back a smile and not even trying. He studied Rey for a while, the way her smile seemed softer now, her face less guarded than when he met her.
She looked up, as if feeling his gaze on her. “You okay?” she asked, genuine concern in her voice, and Finn was already nodding.
“Okay, I need to tell you about the drink simulator run. It looked a bit like your first Falcon flight.”
“Oy,” Rey muttered, laughing.
“And also the bacta mission, I don’t know how they pulled it off,” he started. Poe blinked at him; he wasn’t aware Finn has heard about that one. He launched into an elaborate and incredibly exaggerated version of the story, which meant it had probably come from Pava.
Something must have shown on Poe’s face, because Rey was suddenly laughing at him, and he tried to roll his eyes but could only smile helplessly over Finn’s shoulder. She nodded at him, still grinning, and Finn turned to look at him and oh.
He had been doing so well so far, he could see himself falling for Finn and had resigned himself to this, but now he looked between them both, looked at Rey’s warm, fond smile, and at Finn’s infectious grin, and realised how completely, utterly fucked he apparently was.
He stepped forward, spreading his arms a little. “Alright, I’m gonna tell you about Finn’s first simulator run, because that one was gold.”
Ignoring it was going to go so great, he could tell.
Jess Pava asked him what was the thing that surprised him the most in the Resistance. It was during Snap’s birthday party, everyone on a good road to being pleasantly drunk, and Finn blinked at her for a long moment, considering.
She was one of the very few who asked him about things in his previous life that weren’t one hundred percent vital intelligence, about food rations, about the routine. Poe never really asked, letting Finn choose what he wanted to divulge, even if Finn thought he wouldn't mind the questions at all if they were coming from Poe.
He didn’t really mind questions from Jessika either, clearly stemming from curiosity but kind and considerate. He considered this one as carefully as all the others - sometimes answers required shifting his mental gears to explain himself in ways they’d understand.
“How much free time there is,” he said finally and Jess raised her eyebrows.
“Really? Man, I was just thinking that we’re much more busy than we’ve ever been in the Republic fleet. That was a cakewalk, nothing but simulators and occasional recon flights.”
“No, it’s not that. There wasn’t much to do in the Order on some days. It’s more about how you can decide what to do with your time? Take the mealtimes, we’ve had breakfast at 0700 sharp, and it lasted exactly seventeen minutes. Three minutes to get to your station before the work shift started.”
“That’s how Imperial Academy used to run, too,” Poe chimed in, sliding in closer next to Finn and bowing his head so he’d be audible among the loud murmur of conversation around the table. “Clockwork. Ask Ematt about it, Jess, he says they used to all go take a leak together, right on schedule.”
“Yeah, I’m gonna go talk to Major Ematt about urination, sounds great,” she made a face Finn couldn’t help grinning at. “That bad, though?”
“Scheduled breaks,” he shrugged. “You didn’t have to actually urinate if you didn’t need to, though it was frowned upon if you held it for too long.”
She looked at him for a long moment, as if trying to decide if he was joking. He flashed her a grin, startling her into a laughter.
“Fuck, okay, you had me on this one,” she reached out to punch his arm. “Next round’s on me. Poe, want something?”
“I bought the alcohol, Pava, but thank you all the same. And just water, I have to be up at 0600 for debriefing before Nien’s mission.”
“Suit yourself,” she nodded, using Finn’s shoulder as leverage to stand up, hand pressing down. “Finn, another one of these?”
“I’m good,” he shook his head. He was still nursing the drink Poe pressed into his hand when he arrived, a slightly sour sheer liquid that apparently wasn’t very strong - Finn confessed to not having a lot of experience with liquor, and by that, he meant practically no experience with it.
“Doing okay?” Poe asked, as always earnest and kind in his concern. Finn nodded.
“Just a little light headed, which I have been told is normal,” he said, gesturing with his now empty glass. Well, that and the room was gently spinning. “On second thought, I could use some fresh air.”
“Come on then,” Poe said easily, standing up. “I’m just gonna be a moment,” he added, moving swiftly to Wexley and clasping his shoulder, leaning in to say something that made Snap laugh out loud and not at Poe.
Poe waved Finn on towards the door, and as they made their way through the room Poe stopped to pick up the water from Pava and whisper something into her ear that made her cackle, to say his goodbyes to a couple of people, shaking hands and patting backs, taking some time to tell a young pilot she did well in the training today. He waved BB-8 over, the droid chatting cheerfully on their way out, Poe answering softly. By the time they left, Finn was light headed for an entirely different reason.
There were moments like these when he couldn’t quite believe Poe was a real person, that someone just walked around with all that niceness inside them, offering praise and encouragement and help where it was needed. He found most pilots and indeed, most of the people on base, to be kind and helpful most of the time, but Poe was clearly in a league of his own.
He wasn’t sure what he’d done to be rewarded with meeting Poe, and then Rey, both of them with such capacity for kindness.
Maybe it was a debt to pay forward, he thought, maybe he’d just have to work from now on to earn this.
“So, does alcohol make you thoughtful?” Poe asked as they moved into the path leading to the quarters.
“That’s what it does?” That’s definitely not what he heard.
“Depends on the person. I get maudlin, apparently,” he said with exaggerated distaste, making Finn laugh.
“That sounds like something I might want to see.”
Poe nodded magnanimously. “We can arrange that for some time. Now, this is your stop,” he said, gesturing at Finn’s door.
“Thanks. Want to come in?” Finn asked, eyeing the keypad as he tried the code for the second time, the door still blinking red.
“Let me,” Poe muttered, moving to stand next to him, hand moving over the pad. There was something strange in his expression, Finn thought, some tightness that wasn’t there before. The door blinked green and slid open smoothly. “Early start tomorrow,” he said, which wasn’t quite the answer. “Have a good night, buddy.”
He stepped away, hands shoved into his pockets, grinning softly at Finn before the door closed, BB-8 rolling after him companionably. Finn leaned against the door, exhaling slowly. His hands felt a little clammy, possibly another side effect of the alcohol.
No, that wasn’t quite the explanation, was it. His pulse was rushing as if something just happened, and this wasn’t the first time, though every time he pushed it down.
The pang in his chest, the clammy hands, the frantic heartbeat; the first time he felt like this was when Rey looked down at him back at Jakku, when she asked if he was Resistance. On the Falcon, with the adrenaline still coursing through his veins. On Takodana, when his words finally spilled and she looked down at him and asked him to stay and he chose to walk away like a coward instead.
Not just around Rey, either, but around Poe. First time when he saw the black X-wing’s pilot take off his helmet to reveal a familiar, welcome face. And then afterwards… The moments becoming more and more frequent, no longer possible to chalk up to adrenaline or exhilaration.
He didn’t have a proper frame of reference for this feeling, but it was mixed with want, with gentleness, with a need to protect and with something else, something warm blooming in his chest, heat pooling low in his stomach.
He put a hand to his head, the room spinning a little, and pushed away the thoughts for now, they were terrifying enough when he was sober.
General Organa came by to see him when he was working on the weapons systems, guided by one of the specialists.
“A moment of your time, Finn?” she asked and the specialist stood up, saluting, before she stepped away to give them some space. Finn jumped to his feet, reaching for a rag to clean his hands. He wasn’t sure if he should salute as well, he’d need to ask Poe about it later, as it was he just fiddled with the cloth before dropping it.
“Of course, General.”
“Leia’s fine,” she told him and he nodded, knowing already that he wouldn’t ever dare. “I’m sorry I haven’t been by to see you before.”
Now this he had no idea what to do with. Poe had told him stories about the General, war stories from the Alliance times, and his own private memories - it was clear he had the deepest respect and the deepest affection for Organa. To Finn, she seemed larger than life, maybe even more of a myth than Skywalker was. The fact that he’d seen her around the base, moving among soldiers, didn’t change much, maybe even made the whole thing worse.
He was quite unused to this sort of concern, to this sort of kindness, from a person who was, after all, his commanding officer.
She was looking at him expectantly and he raked his brain for a proper response. “Not at all, ma’am,” he decided on, and knew it wasn’t quite what she was looking for even as he was saying it. “You must be terribly busy.”
She smiled softly. “Middle of the war, everyone’s terribly busy. Poe told me you’ve settled in alright.”
This was another curious thing he’d noticed - he’s heard her talking to Poe, always using his official title, even if it happened to be followed by a pat on his cheek or a kiss on her forehead, as he’s witnessed once. Talking about him to Finn, her voice was fond, proud, when saying his name.
“I’m doing okay, I think. Trying to find out where I can be most of help, ma’am.”
She stopped and reached out for his hand, squeezing it in both of hers. “You have helped us immeasurably already,” she told him with a conviction he didn’t share. Something in her eyes reminded him so much of Rey, of the way she looked at him like he was much better than he was, and he had to duck his head, blinking at the stinging behind his lids. The General’s mouth twitched and she nodded. “Alright. Ask Poe about the mission he’s putting together. This is not an order,” she added with a kind smile, “but it might be something of interest to you.”
“Yes, ma’am,” he said and she nodded at him once more, letting go of his hand.
“Carry on, then. And thank you.”
He found Poe in the pilots’ debriefing room, where his makeshift office space was, tables covered in satellite photos and makeshift paperweights made of old fighter parts.
“General Organa said to ask you about a mission?”
Poe looked up, a flicker of his welcoming smile turning into a huff of exasperation. “Of course she did. For the record, I wanted to show you this anyway. What do they look like to you?” he asked and Finn moved to stand shoulder to shoulder with him, looking down.
It took him a moment to recognise the structures, he’s never seen them from this angle. There was too much greenery around the buildings for it to be the planet he knew, but the layout of the structure was familiar enough.
“First Order’s training facilities,” he said, his voice coming out a croak. They seem small on the photos taken from far above - he remembers winding corridors and sterile spaces, the first and only home he’s known for a long while.
“That’s what we were thinking, based on the intel,” Poe nodded, exhaling as he straightened up. “I’m gonna need you to help me with this.”
Finn cleared his throat, something scratchy and dry stuck there. “What do you need to know? Defences?”
Poe gave him a sharp, incredulous look. “In a way. It’s a recon mission for now, see what we’re dealing with, how to go in without casualties.”
He should have known, really, he thought he did know, but something in Finn’s stomach unfurled anyway. “How many people?”
“Well, there’s me,” Poe said with a wry smile. “And I thought you might be interested.”
“Yes,” Finn said before Poe even started talking and got a sharp nod in return, Poe’s hand clasping his shoulder before he turns back to the intel on the table.
“Let’s do this, then.”
It started over breakfast, as Rey was devouring the stew - her morning telekinesis exercises have ensured she was ravenous - and Luke was detailing the rest of today’s training. It was just a small stir of thought at the back of her mind, a nagging feeling like she forgot something important but couldn’t tell what it was.
Luke stilled suddenly, looking at her, and she felt the incoming wave, crashing over her.
She saw Kylo Ren, and the contraption she once was strapped into, but it wasn’t her this time. “Poe,” she yelled, but neither of them heard her, and she couldn’t move, rooted to the spot, her limbs frozen like that time on Takodana, when she felt truly helpless for the first time in her life.
Poe’s face was bloodied, lip split, and at first she thought it was a vision of the past, but Poe seemed to be looking at her, over Kylo Ren’s shoulder, his lips moving over a familiar word. “Finn.”
The room spun and she lost her balance, stumbling down some steps, echo of Stormtrooper boots loud in her ears. Finn was prone on a bed, like he had been in the medbay on D’Qar, but his eyes were open, a contraption over his head, bright lights and noise.
Something felt like a drill in her brain, pain and steel, unflinching, and she screamed.
When she blinked through the haze, she found herself sprawled on the floor, with Luke looking down with concern. He reached out to pull her up, and she held on to his hand.
“Did that already happen?”
He shook his head. “I hadn’t seen what you had seen, but… past and future are often intertwined. Not yet, I think.”
“I need to get to my friends,” she said firmly. Luke stared at her for a long moment, his face inscrutable, and she realised she heard that story before. It was one both Poe and Jess Pava liked, the one about the Cloud City and she realised she now heard the other side of it as well, a couple of days ago, when Luke was telling her about Force premonitions and his time training with Yoda.
She looked at Luke expectantly, wondering if he’d try to stop her from going, and trying to figure out her response if it came to that.
“Let’s go, then,” Luke said and she laughed in relief, scrambling to pick up her things.
When it came to First Order traps, this one was much smarter than their usual efforts, Poe thought personally. He’d share this with his captors but for one, it wouldn’t do to encourage them, and second, he had a couple of other choice things to say to Kylo Ren before he got to that.
“Scar’s an improvement,” Poe informed him.
He tuned out the response, concentrating on taking stock. At least three cracked ribs, thankfully probably not broken. His hand hurt like all hell, possibly because he went and tried to punch a stormtrooper when his gun was taken away from him. The most worrying was the blow to the head that brought him down, he felt too lightheaded and dizzy for comfort, metallic taste in his mouth.
Ren was still talking, certainly contributing to the headache. “I have to say, didn’t expect it to be you again. Shouldn’t the best pilot of the Resistance be less of a failure?”
“I think I’m touched you remembered me,” Poe muttered before he could stop himself. He felt the buzzing in his mind and braced himself, knowing what was coming. “We’re not even bothering with foreplay this time?”
He was promptly ignored, but then again you probably had to turn in your sense of humour when you signed up with the Order.
“I should thank you for bringing FN-2187 back though. His recalibration is underway now, shouldn’t take long. He’ll tell us what we need.”
Poe’s stomach turned, bile rising in his throat, and he struggled against the restraints harshly, until they bit into his skin, forgetting that he’s decided not to give Ren this satisfaction. He didn’t think he felt true hatred before, not like this, burning in his veins. He clenched his fists, grimacing at the pain in his hand. “His name is Finn,” he said through his teeth, making Ren chuckle humourlessly.
“So I’ve heard. Not for long now,” he added flatly, raising his hand. “Unfortunately, we’re once again at the point where I need to find Luke Skywalker, and you are the one who have seen the whole map. You’re going to give it to me, just as before.”
He felt the cut again, cold and sharp, going straight for the old wound this time, uncompromising, searching. He screamed, but it felt like no sound was coming out, he tried to hold on to something, close his mind, but it was like scrambling for solid ground on a quicksand.
He’s failed again, he doomed Finn, failed General Organa and… Rey. He felt her, somehow, right in his mind, soothing and calm, pulling at his thoughts, pulling him away from Ren.
Ren was gone then, spinning on his heel in shock. “Can’t be. He can’t be here,” he said and was abruptly left. Poe slumped against the restraints, head bowed, breathing harshly.
“Hey,” Rey said, touching his cheek, and when the hell did she get here? How did she even get here?
“You’re the best hallucination I could have,” he told her and she barked a laugh, her eyes shining.
She reached to the restraints and they snapped open, and Poe stumbled out, all but hitting the floor before she helped him up. “Finn,” he told her, hands closing on her wrist. “They have Finn.”
“I know, we’ll get him,” she assured him, poking her head out of the room, grabbing a blaster from Chewbacca. “Luke’s providing a distraction, I can find Finn. Are you okay to walk? Chewie can get you back to the Falcon while…”
“No,” he said sharply, pulling the sleeves of his jacket over his bloodied wrists and shaking his head to clear his thoughts. “I’m with you.”
Phasma has apparently gotten out of the trash compactor, he was almost impressed.
She probably wasn’t at all impressed with him, but for some reason sent him for recalibration instead of killing him on the spot. It might have been the worse option, to be honest.
He’s never been here before, but he’s heard enough talk - every once in a while the process melted somebody’s brain, et cetera, horror stories. He eyed the contraption above him, not so sure those were all bullshit anymore.
The setup took a while to wind up, but then it was noise and light and something drilling into his head, and he was flooded by white hot pain.
He didn’t know how long it went on, sense of time lost to him completely, but when he came to he could hear voices, something about ‘broken’, someone saying his old designation. “How hard is it to remember it’s Finn now?” he says, but it came out a mess of slurred words, so he gave up on that.
“…try again?” someone said and Finn made a noise of protest, couldn’t help it even though he knew he’d be ignored.
He braced for pain, but it didn’t come, room filled with blaster noise and smell of ozone instead. “Finn,” someone said and yeah, that did sound right.
“Finally,” he muttered and then looked up, into a familiar face. Poe was biting his lip as he fiddled with the restraints before they finally snapped open.
“Hey, buddy,” he said, hand on Finn’s head, trailing through his hair, resting on the back of his neck as Poe looked into his eyes searchingly, like he was looking for something.
“Next time, make sure I’m still in my right mind before you untie me?”
He succeeded in startling Poe into a laugh, his hand pressing on the back of Finn’s neck as Poe leaned in and kissed the top of Finn’s head. “Excellent advice, let’s go,” he said, already on his feet as if nothing happened, as if Finn’s heart wasn’t suddenly beating frantically.
“Come on,” Rey shouted at him and he was moving before he realised Rey was there, blaster in one hand and lightsaber in the other, grinning at him even as she yelled.
He laughed, with a tinge of manic exhilaration, and accepted the blaster she handed him. “Escape now, hug later?” he asked and she nodded, grinning.
They made it halfway down the corridor when Rey froze, her eyes a little glassy, and turned on her heel. “I need to get to Luke,” she told them.
“Luke Skywalker? Is here?” Finn asked, turning to Poe, who shrugged at him before looking around the corner, checking the route.
“Apparently. Rey, what’s the plan?”
She snapped to it, nodding sharply. “Chewie will get you to the Falcon. I’ll get Luke and we’ll meet you there. And Poe,” she said seriously, turning to catch his eyes. “If we’re not there, get the Falcon and get the hell out of here. We’ll manage.”
“Got it,” Poe told her and she was off with a final nod.
“We’re not really leaving without them, are we?” Finn asked quietly and Poe shook his head.
“Not a chance in hell. Come on.”
The walls were shaking with explosions and Rey thought she probably shouldn’t be so surprised at Luke’s penchant for the destruction of property - he did destroy the first Death Star, after all.
The main problem with that was, however, that their best route had been cut off, along with the second and third best as well. There were too many Stormtroopers between them and the Falcon, and it was already revving up the engines. If they didn’t take off now, it was going to be too late.
“Come on, Poe, go,” she muttered under her breath, ducking behind a crate as the Stormtroopers reinforcement arrived. It was only a matter of time until Kylo caught up with them, and she knew Luke was really trying to avoid a direct confrontation here.
As if he could hear her, the Falcon rose smoothly, piloted with steady hands. She breathed a sigh of relief and concentrated on the task at hand - find a way to the hangar, steal a ship.
And then there was a roar of engines overhead, the Falcon turning around and sliding between two buildings that were definitely too close to one another for that, its guns picking out troopers with astounding precision.
“Your friends are brave,” Luke told her and she shook her head.
“This is what I said,” he shot back cheerfully, powering of his saber. “Run now,” he yelled as the Falcon’s ramp started to open mid-flight, and what did she say, idiots.
The next she knew, Poe was making a landing that shouldn’t be possible, quite probably crushing a couple of Stormtroopers who didn’t run in time, and she was scrambling onto the ramp, Chewbacca helping her up, as the ship was already taking off.
She headed straight from the cockpit, where Poe was going through the pre-hyperspace check and course corrections. Finn climbed out of the gunner’s seat and joined her on the way, grinning at her in a way that was impossible not to respond to, even in her current angry state.
“Why did you come back for me?” she asked Poe and he finished the sequence, stars smudging around them, before standing up to face her.
“How is that even a question?” he asked incredulously and she stared at him before launching herself forward, his arms instinctively spreading and then closing around her as she buried her face in his neck. “Okay, hugging’s good,” he muttered against her shoulder, hand moving soothingly over her back. “Especially since you might have to prop me up a little, I think I’m gonna pass out soon.”
“What,” Finn said at the same time she did, and he was right next to her in a split of a second, holding on to Poe’s shoulder.
Poe smiled at them and now Rey could see he looked too pale, a little out of it. Did he actually pilot the Falcon in this state? “It’s fine, I’m pretty sure I’m not bleeding internally.”
“Shit,” Finn said, catching Poe as he surged forward, passing out as promised. Finn groaned as he picked him up, wrapping Poe’s arm over his shoulder, and carrying him to the rec area of the ship.
She turned to Luke and he nodded. “I’ll mind the controls with Chewbacca, don’t worry.” At her look his mouth twitched. “I have actually flown this ship before, go.”
She nodded gratefully and went to Poe’s side, where Finn was going through the first aid kit. “Cracked ribs, I think,” he told Rey. “Bad concussion, probably, he has a nasty bump on the head. And I’ll need your help with setting his fingers while he’s out.”
“Fingers?” she asked, gingerly picking up Poe’s bloodied hand in hers.
“Looks like he punched a steel wall, to be honest.”
“He looks like the wall punched back,” she muttered, studying Poe’s face. She felt a pang of guilt at not noticing his state sooner, but he walked out of that room confidently, grabbing a blaster and ready to move, and there was no time to take stock and question him. “I can’t believe he flew like this.”
“I find it hard to believe anyone can fly like either of you, so there’s that,” Finn told her with a small smile. “Okay. Hold his arm here,” he directed her hands. “Sorry, Poe,” he added softly before setting his fingers. Rey grimaced at the sound of the bones crackling and the way Poe’s body jerked under her hands.
“He needs to rest, hopefully won’t wake up until we reach the base and the medics can take it from there,” he said, reaching out to touch Poe’s brow gently, right under the cut there. “He fought too hard, when they were taking us.”
His voice was flat, with something rippling underneath. “When they were taking you,” she guessed and he nodded, not looking up. “Finn…” she muttered, reaching for his hand.
“I spoke to Leia,” Luke said, walking in. “She said to head for the new base, they’re evacuating D’Qar now.”
“Are they under attack?” Rey asked anxiously and Luke shook his head.
“Not yet, but Ben can probably guess we’re going to head for the base.”
“They’ve had the location for a while, but with a weakened force after Starkiller, they’ve held off on the attack. We’ve been ready to move on a moment’s notice.”
“Leia said you’d have the coordinates,” Luke added and Finn stood up, nodding.
“I do,” he said, heading for the cockpit.
“So,” Rey called after him, grinning. “You’re with the Resistance.”
He glanced at her before smiling widely. “I’m with the Resistance,” he said and she moved in to hug him, his arms closing around her immediately. “I missed you.”
“I missed you too,” she said, and couldn’t help a smile when he kissed the top of her head. “Come on, gotta get you back to the base.”
Finn nodded, following her to the cockpit. “I really hope they won’t have Jess Pava fly Poe’s fighter to the new base, we’ll never hear the end of his complaining.”
Rey secretly thought he sounded as if he’d spend hours listening to Poe complaining. She could understand that.
He woke up in the medbay, with General Organa in the chair next to the bed, reading off a datapad, BB-8 chirping companionably by her side.
“Good evening, Commander,” she said without looking up, bookmarking something on the pad before she put it away. She sounded uncannily like his mother when he overslept as a kid.
BB-8 beeped with joy and then proceeded to berate him for getting injured, business as usual. “Sorry, buddy,” he muttered, reaching out to pat its head until it calmed down. He took a quick stock of the situation. Medbay, but not D’Qar, the layout was a little different, the walls made of white steel instead of old stone. The General was wearing a padded vest with wool lining.
“If you set up base on Hoth, I’m going back to being unconscious,” he said flatly, and the General pursed her lips, holding back a smile.
“You know, I actually quite liked Hoth,” she mused, which didn’t exactly fill him with confidence.
“Where…” he started and she shook her head, reaching for a glass of water on the table next to the bed to hand it to him.
“Rey and Finn are resting. Had to make this an order, they were practically dead on their feet and camping out here. It has been suggested by some of the medical professionals working here that you three get your own wing next time we set up a medbay, save everyone some trouble.”
“I am pretty sure you’re joking, but if we get some comfortable chairs out of it, I’m in,” he said, propping himself up on the pillows. “So that mission was a disaster,” he offered conversationally, calling up a smile even though the familiar sense of shame at failure settled in his stomach like lead.
He didn’t get as flustered now as he used to, the first couple couple of times when a mission went badly and he had to report back to Leia Organa, but still he feels the sting of shame in his chest.
“I don’t know,” she said gently, “you’ve all come back.” There was something else in her face, and he didn’t think he wanted to hear what she wanted to say next. “Poe, it’s the second time my son…”
“No,” he interrupted her, something he almost never did. He shook his head for emphasis when she sighed heavily. “Whatever Ben does, it doesn’t reflect on you, never,” he said firmly, forcing himself to say the name of the lanky kid he’s met a few times and not the nightmare he has become, not the man who has now tortured him twice.
The entire Resistance treaded lightly around this, those who knew (and most of them knew) trained themselves to think of Kylo Ren, not of Ben Organa Solo, the kid who used to trail after his mother in the Senate’s building. Ackbar slipped sometimes, the one who’s known them the longest, looking stricken every time as the General looked away in regret.
“I still think there’s light in him,” she said quietly, looking tired. “I’m probably deluding myself.”
Poe wasn’t the right person to have this conversation. He definitely wasn’t the right person for this conversation, torn between wanting to comfort his General and knowing that if he had the chance, he’d probably shoot Kylo Ren without second thought and only regret it a little because it’d bring her pain.
“I’m not the right person to ask,” he shrugged, knowing it was avoidance. “Rey’s been in his head, and Finn served under him. But hell,” he muttered, reaching out to cover her hand with his, “I’d never have said anyone would be able to turn Darth Vader to the light, and I’ve heard it from a good source that someone has managed.”
He shifted uncomfortably under her long gaze, and she squeezed his hand before moving to stand up. “Get better, Commander, we need you. I’ll let Finn and Rey know you’re up.”
“Thank you,” he called after her. BB-8 hummed next to him. “Yes, this could have gone better.”
It was a little colder in the new base than it was in the old one. Finn didn’t mind at all, he had spent most of his time in the Order at the Starkiller base, with its ever-present snow, and before that, training in a number of locations.
Rey, however, raised in the scorching desert of Jakku, was not impressed.
“This is unnatural,” she muttered, burying herself under a mountain of blankets on Finn’s bed, visible from nose up.
“You ran around in short sleeves on Starkiller,” he told her and the mountain of blankets shrugged.
“Ran around is key,” she said. “I have nothing to do now, so I have plenty of time to feel really cold.”
That wasn’t quite true, even though Finn too felt somehow idle. Rey has been training with Luke every day, but she said it didn’t seem quite as much work as her daily routine on Jakku was, and Finn definitely got that - First Order life was about training and work and training again, every minute of the day filled to the last second.
Now, there was downtime. There was personal training time. Finn didn’t have an official posting still, so he did what needed to be done and where he could use his skills. He trained the recruits in firearms, he learned fighter maintenance and gunnery skills - it all seemed to leave him with free time.
There was a quick rhythm tapped against the door and they opened to reveal Poe and his wide grin, which turned into a frown at the blanket mountain. “Rey?” he guessed and she poked her head out a little to nod at him.
Poe sat down on the one chair in the room, regarding them searchingly for a moment. Finn could feel himself fluster a little, something that had become a common occurrence around Poe, something he hadn’t yet begun to deal with. He envied Rey the mountain of blankets to hide inside of, a little.
“How do you two feel about a trip?”
“I thought you’re off the mission roster?” Rey asked, because they’ve heard him complain about it, even while he was still in the medical. But it was the General’s order, so he obeyed dutifully, even though he grumbled about it.
BB-8 rolled into the room, chirping in agreement with Rey, and Poe put his hand on the droid’s head soothingly. “Not a mission,” he offered. “It’s my mother’s birthday, I always go visit her grave at this time, if I can. And since I’m on enforced downtime…” he shrugged. “I thought you two might want to come with me, see Yavin.”
Rey moved up, shaking off the blankets. “You want us there?” she asked softly.
“It’s much warmer there,” Poe added, like he felt he needed to sweeten the pot, like Finn wasn’t already moving to his feet.
“Well in that case,” Rey drawled, rolling her eyes.
Chewie was working on the Falcon, so they took one of the smaller Resistance freighter’s, with General Organa’s permission. Rey was pretty sure at least part of the reason for this trip was that Poe has been crawling the walls while grounded, so she relinquished the controls, saying he knows the course better - waving off his offer to flip a coin for it.
They flew over a small grouping of settlements, then by a giant stone structure. There was something eerily familiar about the place, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it, like a dream she didn’t quite remember.
“The Alliance had its first base here,” Poe said, not looking away from the dashboard. “There was talk, in the early days of Resistance, about coming back in here, there are still some structures left, but the idea was never actually picked up. We can go see later, if you want,” he offered, starting the landing approach on a small pad surrounded by giant trees.
It could comfortably house two starfighters, so their freighter was a tight fit, but Poe seemed like he could have done it with his eyes closed. “Come on, then,” he said, slapping Finn’s shoulder on the way, BB-8 rolling cheerfully behind them.
Poe led them towards a small structure not far away. She could see similar houses some distance away, but this one stood apart a little, on the edge of the clearing.
An older, dark-haired man stood on the path leading to the house, arms crossed. Poe straightened a little, tossing off a salute.
“Sergeant,” he said and got a flat “Commander” in return, with a returned salute. Rey blinked curiously at the exchange.
“I thought this wasn’t a mission,” Finn muttered behind them, and she didn’t have time to respond she didn’t think it was, because they both were almost ran over by BB-8 at full speed.
Poe groaned as the other man kneeled down, laughing. “How’s my favourite grandkid? Got the couplings I sent you?”
BB-8 beeped cheerfully as Poe shook his head. “Not your grandkid,” getting an offended chirp from the droid, who preened at the other man’s attention.
“What did it say?” Finn asked and she grinned.
“Beg to differ,” she translated, trying to hold back a grin and failing miserably, especially when Poe turned around to look at them, shrugging in exasperation.
“Come on in,” the older man said, and now she looked closer the resemblance between him and Poe was quite clear. “I’ve just made dinner. Poe, didn’t expect you this early, did Leia ground you?”
“I regret coming here already,” he said flatly, even while putting his arm around his father’s shoulders. Rey followed, grinning, and she didn’t even need to look at Finn to know he was thrilled with this. Thrilled, and a little nervous, yeah, that summed it up quite well for her too.
“Kes Dameron,” the man said once they got inside and Poe moved to introduce them. “Please, make yourself at home.”
She was actually quite surprised how easy it was to do just that. Finn stumbled a little around his words at first, tossing her nervous looks she could only return - neither of them had any experience at meeting parents, or families, but Poe’s father had the same knack for setting everyone at ease as Poe did, and soon they were devouring the dinner and regaling him with the stories of Jakku and Starkiller.
Kes (“Just call me Kes” said easily after the second time Rey flustered around “Mr. Dameron”, to Poe’s soft amusement) listened intently to the stories, throwing amused looks at Poe every time he rushed in to interject. In Rey’s opinion, Poe’s additions made her (and probably Finn, judging by his fluster) into someone more braver and more skilled than she felt herself to be, but she couldn’t quite bring herself to argue, not when faced with Poe’s pride.
After she finished recounting her first lightsaber duel, Kes turned to Poe. “You should show her the tree.”
“Part of why I wanted you here,” Poe nodded. “Dad, do you need…” he started gesturing at the dishes but was waved off. “Come on, then,” he clasped Finn’s shoulder and waved towards the door.
Rey wasn’t sure what that was about - as much as she was in awe of the trees, always and forever, she couldn’t guess what was special about a particular one… until she felt it. “Oh,” she breathed out, stepping forward.
The Force pulsed through it, calling to her. She had never felt something like this and she laughed out loud, unable to contain her joy.
“That’s a… great tree?” Finn tried and she turned to grin at him.
“My mother was given two saplings, long ago. By Skywalker, actually,” Poe told them. “Apparently it grew inside the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. I was wondering if you’d like it,” he told Rey.
“Are you kidding?” she muttered, touching one of the branches, running her fingers over a leaf. “How is this even possible?”
Finn moved to stand closer to her, looking between her and the tree. She saw wonder reflected in his face, but it bloomed when he was looking at her, not the branches. She smiled softly and slid her hand into his. There was something incredibly right about this moment, something warm in her veins, blooming in her chest.
Just one thing missing, but when she turned to take Poe’s hand she realised Finn was way ahead of her, fingers lacing with Poe’s and she smiled at both of them.
“So, did you ask the tree if you can take a cutting yet?” Poe grinned at her.
There was something between them since they came back from Yavin IV. They had spent the day in the jungle’s clearing, by the Force tree, sprawled on the grass, Poe’s hand in his and Rey’s head pillowed on his stomach.
It felt like everything to Finn, that moment, and there was still something of that between them even when they made their way back to the base, a little quiet, a little thoughtful, with Rey cradling the tree’s sapling and Poe grinning at both of them like he couldn’t stop, some kind of softness around his eyes.
He thought about doing something about it, but he wasn’t quite sure how you went about these things, if people got together in the Order it was rushed and convenient and quite over quite quickly, and this was the opposite of what he wanted now. He wanted everything now. So he waited, hoping that Rey’s sweet smiles or Poe’s heated looks would finally turn into something else, something more.
But then the life on the Resistance base interfered, with Rey off on a quest to find a crystal for her lightsaber, apparently, and Poe, finally allowed out on missions, taking of on a recon run.
Finn busied himself with work on base, trying not to feel like he was waiting for them - there was so many things to do it was easy enough to pass the time, and the work was important. Still, he thrilled when the Falcon returned with Rey safely on board, and when the Black One landed without a scratch on it.
“You’re not gonna like it,” Rey said, sliding in next to him at the mess table. Finn moved slightly to the left to make room for her trey as Poe headed straight for their table, making himself comfortable on the bench opposite them.
“My favourite words,” he told them and Finn rolled his eyes fondly.
“I need to go back to Jakku,” she said and Finn grimaced at her.
“I thought we were done with that junkyard?” he muttered at the same time as Poe leaned in, looking at Rey carefully. “You want some company?”
“Seriously, you too? BB-8, back me up, that planet is trouble.”
BB-8 chirped noncommittally and Finn sent him a betrayed look. “Fine, but if we get killed I deserve the right to tell you ‘I told you so.’”
As it turned out, it wasn’t the worst visit. Even considering the fact that he was a little biased against the planet.
They’ve started at Niima outpost, Rey telling them to wait while she went and talked to Plutt about something. Poe studied some of the wrecked ships that survived the air raid. “You know, they aren’t in the worst shape; you could scrounge up a small fleet out of this.”
“Please don’t tell me you’ve found a new project,” Finn muttered, trying to hold back the fond smile pressing itself onto his lips.
Rey came back a few minutes later, holding herself a little straighter, a little prouder, like she’s shed some invisible weight. Finn slid his hand into hers and squeezed.
“One more stop?” she said and led their borrowed speeders to a fallen AT-AT, half buried in the sand.
Finn felt Poe’s hand on his shoulder, fingers digging into the material, as they went inside, taking in the scratches on the wall and the mess inside.
“Somebody’s made out with most of my things,” Rey said matter-of-factly, no venom in her voice. “Ah-ha,” she muttered, picking up the things she was looking for. A doll made of scraps, a clunky metal bracelet that looked like it was made by a child, a little box of dirt with one sad little sprout still clinging to life, an old battered pilot helmet.
She held it up to Poe and he took it gingerly. Rey’s face was scrunched up in something like worry, as if she was uncertain of his reaction. “Yellow Aces,” he muttered thoughtfully. “Pava will be able to tell you more, probably.”
“You don’t mind…” she started and never finished, with Poe shaking his head.
“You should see Pava’s collection of memorabilia. Or, well, mine, but don’t tell her that,” he added sheepishly and handed her the helmet back. “We’ll need to see about getting you your own, though.”
Her fingers tightened on Finn’s wrist even as she was moving forward as if pulled by some invisible strings, leaning into Poe and angling her head for a kiss, exhaling slightly into Poe’s mouth. Finn’s chest tightened, something twisting in his stomach, and then they were both pulling away, breathing harshly, eyes shining.
“Hey,” Finn said, a little pointedly, and Rey grinned.
“Flip a coin, Poe?”
He laughed, the sound making Finn’s cheeks flush and his hands itch.
“You first,” Poe said gallantly, ruining it a little when he winked at Finn. “If I start, that’s gonna be a while.”
“You’re on, Dameron,” Rey muttered against Finn’s lips, and his arms were around her waist, pulling her closer until she gasped and grinned into his mouth. Her smile tasted sweet, like he imagined it would. She pulled away and waved her hand at Poe, and then Finn’s knees were hitting the back of the little cot, and everything was bliss.
“I’m beginning to like this planet,” he said later, much later. Rey laughed, a little muffled with her face against Poe’s chest.
“Great, but I was just about to suggest we go home.”
That sounded about right.