“Belinda Beatriz Dameron the 8th, for the last time, get out of the way of the movers!”
“Sorry, Daddy,” BB yells, scampering out of the way of the two men carrying her airplane shaped big-girl bed up the front steps. She runs over and slows her momentum by slamming into Poe’s knees, then hanging off of his belt loops, almost pulling his pants down. He hisses in pain.
“Watch the knees, baby,” he says, smoothing her orange streaked hair back from her face. She had wanted to dye her whole head of hair for the move to a new town, but Poe had gotten her to settle on streaks. Because he had done it himself in their bathroom, some of the streaks had turned out orange, but some had stayed bleached white. BB liked it, and Poe figured that even if she didn’t they could have just as easily dyed it back to black. It was just hair, after all, and hair grows back.
“Sorry, Daddy,” she says again, and bends down to gently kiss his kneecap.
“Oh, much better,” he says, and groans as he hoists her up onto his hip. At six, she’s getting big. When she gets too big to pick up, he’s pretty sure he’s going to have a crisis. “I know you want to help, honey, but right now it’s too dangerous. You’re too little, you might get crushed or stepped on.”
“Yeah, okay,” she says, snuggling into him, hooking her round chin over his shoulder. “I get it.”
Jesus, he’s lucky she’s such an easy-going kid. She has a tendency to get over-excited, but he can count the times she’s thrown a tantrum on one hand. How cuddly she is doesn’t hurt either. Some might say all that is down to good parenting, but Poe just thinks he has the best child on Earth. Maybe the whole galaxy, even.
“I’ll tell you what though,” he says, as he goes into the entranceway of the apartment building, following the men taking in his girl’s bed. “Once all the movers have everything into the apartment, you can unpack everything!”
BB draws her head back from his shoulder to look at him. She scrunches her nose. “Everything?” she asks.
“Yup. You can put away all of my books, and all of the sheets and towels, and heck, I’ll even let you do the kitchen. You haven’t dropped a plate in more than a week.”
BB hits him with the flattest stare imaginable. “That’s silly, Daddy. Let me down.” He bends over and puts her down on the floor, but she grabs the collar of his jacket before he can stand back up. “I will help, though,” she whispers.
“Of course, baby,” he says.
She runs off, and then plants herself in front of one of the movers. “This is our new HOUSE!” she yells. They’re working on her volume control. Inside voice is not a concept BB is entirely familiar with.
The mover looks nervously at Poe, then back at BB. “That’s nice?” he offers.
It’s only when BB runs off that Poe realizes she is not wearing shoes. She was wearing shoes when they got here. Where did her shoes go? Was she wearing her shoes outside?
When he gets outside, he’s greeted with the sight of a woman bemusedly standing in the parking lot outside of the apartment building, holding his daughter’s white sandals in one hand.
“Hi, I’m sorry,” he says, as he walks up to her. “Those are my daughter’s shoes, sorry.”
She laughs a little bit. “Yeah, I was wondering.”
He can't help but notice, as she hands him the shoes, that she's extraordinarily pretty. She has her brown hair drawn up in a floppy bun, and very nice eyes. When she hands him BB’s shoes back, there are a few smudges of grease on her hands, like she had washed, but just missed those bits.
“Thank you,” he says, and then sticks out his hand. “I’m Poe Dameron, I’m moving into the empty apartment on the first floor.”
“I’m Rey,” she says, taking his hand to shake, firmly. “I live on the second floor, so we’re neighbors, I guess.”
“Cool,” he says, and winces a little bit internally. Cool? He used to be at least a little bit charming. Maybe having a kid takes it out of you.
“Well, welcome to Jakku, Texas. It’s hot, and there isn’t really much to do.”
He laughs. “School system is good, though. And there’s a low crime rate.” Not to mention Resistance Industries, the huge Air and Space lab/factory out in the Texas desert, where Poe has been hired as an engineer.
Rey smiles. “Well, I guess it has that going for it.”
They smile at each other for a moment, before Rey coughs a little bit and turns to go in. Poe hurries a few steps to walk with her.
“So, your wife coming with the second truck?” Rey asks, as they head up the stairs into the building.
“Oh,” he says, a little bit taken aback. In their old town, nobody ever asked. Everyone knew the Damerons. Everybody knew Poe Dameron didn’t have a wife. “No wife, just me and BB.”
Rey looks down, then, and smiles. “Is that BB?” she asks, nodding her head to behind Poe. When he turns around, BB is clutching at the open door frame.
“Hi, I’m BB,” she says. “This is our new house.” She comes forward only enough to cling to Poe’s leg. He smoothes a hand over the side of her head and trails his fingers through her ponytail. BB is rarely intimidated by new people, which, in Poe’s mind, makes Rey special.
“I’m Rey,” says Rey. “I found your shoes outside.”
“Yeah, I took them off,” says BB. “I like your boots.” Rey is wearing a big pair of work boots. Rey lifts one foot to look at her boot, as if she hadn’t noticed it before.
“I like them, too,” she says, and smiles. When Rey smiles, it’s like a third of her face is taken up by her grin. Poe smiles back automatically, and so does BB.
“Oh, Daddy,” BB says. “The mover guys are done.”
“Thanks, baby,” he says, and turns to go inside. When he looks over his shoulder to hurry BB along, he sees Rey halfway up the stairs, returning BB’s shy wave.
It’s the morning of her first day at her new school, and BB is barely picking at her blueberry walnut back-to-school pancakes. Poe has been keeping an eye on her all morning, and she was fine getting dressed, but once they got to the table she became subdued.
“Something wrong with your pancakes, baby?” he asks, gently.
“No,” says BB, picking out a blueberry with her fingers and dropping it at the side of her plate.
“Well, I know something’s going on, because you love those.” He nods his head to the pancakes.
BB’s chin begins to wobble, and she mutters something.
“I’m sorry, baby, I didn’t hear that,” Poe says.
“I said, what if they think I’m fat?” BB sniffs, and Poe’s heart drops.
It’s true, BB is chubby. He’s not one of those parents who puts their kids on diets, and he’s always been glad that BB has a healthy appetite. He loves her round cheeks and stomach, and the dimples she still has in her knees. She gets plenty of exercise, and her pediatrician says it’s nothing to worry about, so neither he nor BB had ever really thought about it until earlier this year.
In March, Poe had gotten a call at work, saying that BB was in the principal’s office. He rushed to her school, afraid that something terrible had happened. What really happened was this: BB had been playing on the playground with a few of her friends when a boy from another class had come up to her and called her a “big old fattie”. BB had called him a stupid head, and punched him in the nose. BB had been sent to the principal’s office. The boy hadn’t.
The principal and BB’s teacher had talked about BB’s tendency for violence, about improving her reactions to conflict, but they hadn’t had to sit with her as she refused to eat meal after meal. They hadn’t had to beg her to finish the food on her plate because a mean-spirited little boy had decided to open his mouth.
He had gotten her back up to eating as she had before by the time the job offer in Jakku came through. So while they had mostly moved for Poe’s new job, he couldn’t help but want to get BB out of that school, and the bad memories with it.
“Oh, baby,” he says, and walks around the table to lift her up and settle down in her chair with her in his lap. “If somebody says something like that to you, that means there’s something wrong with them, not you. That they have to change something about themselves, not you, okay? You’re perfect the way you are, and I love you very much.”
BB gives one long sniff and then lets out a watery cough. Poe takes it as assent.
“And if somebody does give you trouble, go tell the teacher. It’s not tattling if whatever happened made you feel super bad. And if you don’t feel comfortable telling the teacher, tell me, okay? I can talk to the school about it and make sure it never happens again. Just no punching, okay?” He holds out a hand to fist bump.
“No punching,” BB agrees, and connects her fist with his. Their fists explode outward from each other, and they both make the appropriate explosion noises.
“Okay, kiddo, I have to go shave, finish your breakfast and put the dishes in the dishwasher when you’re done, then we’ll go to school.”
BB will usually be taking the bus into school, but Poe had missed Parent’s Night, what with the moving and settling in, so he wanted to take BB into the classroom to at least meet her teacher.
Elementary schools pretty much all look the same, Poe thinks, as he led BB down the school hallway. Jakku’s school is a little bit nicer than Yavin’s had been, just because they’ve recently completely redone the whole school system. This is now a joint elementary-middle school and not a small part of why Poe had taken the job in Jakku. The teachers were supposed to be great here, as well.
Poe and BB finally stop in front of a doorway that has a cheerful “Welcome to 1st Grade!” poster next to it, and an equally cheerful looking black man leaning against the doorway. Poe can’t help but notice how well the man’s white button down fits him, his sleeves stretching over strong arms and his black tie falling against a strong chest. Jesus, what was in the water here? Meeting two equally hot people he was now going to have to interact with regularly in just two days in town, what were the odds?
“Hi!” the man says, looking down at BB. “Are you in my class?”
“My name is Belinda Beatriz Dameron the 8th, but I go by BB,” says BB.
The man looks skeptically up at Poe, and Poe winces.
“It’s a family name,” he says, by way of explanation. “I’m Poe Dameron, you must be Mr.—”
“Just Finn,” says the man, reaching out a hand. “I have everybody call me by my first name.”
Poe shakes his hand, and Finn immediately turns his attention back to BB. Poe has to admire his dedication.
“Well, BB,” he says, “I’m very happy to have you in my class. Your seat is near the windows, next to Rodney and Chrysanthemum-Posey. Your name tag on your desk says Belinda right now, but I’ll make a new one that says BB, okay?”
“Okay!” says BB, then promptly walks away without saying goodbye to Poe. She makes her way over to an empty seat in between an extraordinarily short Asian boy in a blue and white sweatshirt with his two front teeth missing, and a tall, nervous looking blonde girl with a gold skirt and matching gold-rimmed glasses.
“That’s always the way of it, huh?” asks Finn.
“I guess I should be glad she’s not crying?” asks Poe. “Still, it would be nice to get some sort of acknowledgement.”
Finn chuckles a little bit.
Poe hesitates, then decides to open his mouth.
“Uh, Finn, listen,” he starts, and Finn turns his full attention on Poe. His eyes are dark, and deep. Someone more romantic than Poe might describe them as pools. Not that Poe would, certainly. “BB had a little bit of a tough time in her last school. I know, obviously, that you pay attention to every kid in you class, and every parent asks you to pay special attention to their child—”
“But pay extra attention to your child?” Finn asks, grinning. He puts a hand on Poe’s shoulder, and Poe can feel it through his flight jacket. “Don’t worry about it man, I’ll make sure she’s okay.”
“Alright, thank you,” says Poe. “I really appreciate it.”
“No problem,” says Finn, as a scream erupts from the classroom. Finn glances back over his shoulder, and winces. “I’d better go check that out,” he says.
“Okay,” says Poe. “It was nice meeting you.”
“Nice meeting you too,” Finn says, smiling, as he heads back into the room. Poe watches him as he goes.
Seriously, what is in the water?
Poe thinks that BB’s time at school is going great, until one day about two weeks in she comes home and, upon seeing Poe sitting at the kitchen table looking over some airplane plans, promptly begins to wail. Poe immediately leaps up from the table and scoops her up, heading towards the living room couch. He can tell this is going to take some advanced cuddling to solve.
Eventually, through the sobbing, Poe weasels out what happened. Poe gave BB special permission to bring his Air Force medals in to show-and-tell today. They were supposed to bring something in that showed the story of their family. BB had begged and pleaded for Poe to let her bring in the medals. Poe had let BB bring them into class on the condition that she was very careful with them, and only took them out of her backpack when it was show-and-tell time, and put them right back in afterwards. And she kept them in her backpack all morning and only took them out the once, but when she checked her bag on the bus on the way home from school…
“They w-weren’t there, a-a-and I looked in my bag all over, every part, and I k-knew you were going to be so mad at me,” and the me dissolves into another wail. BB, at this point, has been crying so hard and for so long that she begins this terrible wracking cough, and Poe has to bundle her up in a Frozen blanket, and rock her back and forth on his lap, and sing to her in Spanish like he did when she was a baby, in order to calm her down.
He settles her down, still in his lap, and puts on The Little Mermaid. Just as Ursula begins to destroy the ship with Eric and Ariel on it, his phone pings on the table next to them, alerting him that he’s gotten an email. He only means to glance at it, but the subject headline catches his eyes.
Finn here. I found your medals that BB brought in today for show and tell! They were in her desk. I wasn’t sure if they’d be safe in the school over night, so I brought them home with me. I hope that’s okay. I’ll bring them to school tomorrow, and either BB can bring them home or you could come pick them up yourself.
Hope you’re having a good night!
1 st grade
Jakku Regional Elementary and Middle School
BB calms down when Poe reads her the email, but becomes adamant about getting the medals from Finn tonight. This seems like one of the things she’s going to put her foot down about, and Poe doesn’t want a replay of the previous meltdown, so he replies to the email.
Subject: re: Medals!!
Hi. Thank you very much for finding the medals! They mean a lot, to both BB and me.
I would never do this normally, but BB was unbelievably upset over losing the medals. I want to stress that she was, honestly, distraught. She really wants to get the medals back tonight, and I admit I wouldn’t mind having them in my hands right now instead of tomorrow. I don’t want to trouble you, but could I drive to your place to pick them up right now? Or if you’re uncomfortable with that, we could meet somewhere. It’s just, BB was so upset, and it would really mean a lot. But no pressure, I can also just pick them up tomorrow.
Thank you. Really.
Resistance Air and Space Industries
The movie is over, and Poe has tucked BB into bed with a promise that he will drive her into school tomorrow so they can pick up the medals together, when he hears a quiet knock on the door. When he opens it up, Finn is at the door, the case of medals in his hands. Poe can’t hide his shock.
“Hi,” Finn says, quickly. “I don’t want to creep you out, I’m sorry, but I just got your email. I knew where you live. I’m sorry, that’s creepy. It’s just, I’m close with Rey, upstairs, and she talked about you a little bit. Single dad named Poe with a cute daughter named BB, I figured there couldn’t be too many of those. This is still creepy though, I’m sorry. I have your medals.” Finn shoves them into Poe’s hands.
Poe blinks a couple of times, working through the monologue. “Not creepy. And thank you, for bringing them back.” Poe tries to look Finn up and down as subtly as he can, and bites his lip. Thinks, fuck it . “Want to come in for a beer?”
Finn shrugs. “I’m off work, so sure.”
As they walk through the hallway to the kitchen, Poe points at BB’s closed door, puts a finger to his lips. He just got her to go to sleep, he doesn’t want her to wake up to find her teacher and her dad drinking beers in her kitchen. Finn nods his understanding.
Still, having to sneak past a bedroom door makes Poe feel like he’s back in high school. It makes this feel illicit. Maybe a little sexy.
He opens up one beer for himself and one for Finn, and they sit across from each other at the kitchen table, the medals between them.
“So,” Finn says, “You were in the Air Force?”
“Yeah, I flew planes.”
“Got a lot of medals.”
Poe grins a little bit. “I was good at it.”
“I saw a Purple Heart in there. BB says you got it because you jumped out of a plane?”
“It’s a little bit more complicated than that. I was flying a mission when my plane got shot down. I managed to eject myself and open my parachute, but I was flying low. I came in too fast and at the wrong angle, and I broke my left leg in three places.”
“And I mean, it definitely didn’t help that I had to walk two miles to the rendezvous point on a broken leg, so. They fixed me up the best they could, but my leg’s still not up to active service. After I was all splinted up and healed, they gave me a Purple Heart and an honorary discharge.”
“Holy crap.” Finn takes a long sip from his beer. “Thank you for your service.”
“Oh, I—don’t worry about it.” Poe doesn’t really like to talk about his injury or his medals. His leg still gives him bad days, and his service was important to him, but it feels too much like bragging. Look at my medals. Aren’t I brave.
The only thing he really likes talking about that time in his life is the flying. He’d never give up BB, and he’s glad he can be around for her, but sometimes he wished his mother hadn’t talked him into going back to school for his engineering degree instead of becoming a commercial pilot. Flying still feels like the only thing he was really good at. Second only to BB, flying is still one of the best things in the world. He builds airplanes now, though, which is the closest he can get to flying them.
“You know, I was actually enlisted in the Army when I was younger,” says Finn.
“Really?” asks Poe.
“Yeah. When I graduated high school I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. The Army seemed like a viable option. I made it through the first few weeks of boot camp, until they actually handed us the guns. I had never held one before. It terrified me. I freaked out, dropped the gun, and dropped out of boot camp. Then I went home, and after spending half a year babysitting around the neighborhood for cash, figured ‘Hey, I like kids,’ and got my teacher’s license.”
Poe finished his beer with one long swallow. “I have to say, I think this suits you better.”
“You know what?” Finn asks, and his eyes are actually dancing , who does that —“I think it does, too.” He finishes his beer, and Poe can feel the night coming to a close.
“Do you need me to drive you home?” asks Poe, trying to draw his time out.
“Oh, I was actually planning to crash at Rey’s,” says Finn, and oh, it’s like that. They’re close , he said. Figures.
“Alright, then, I’ll take these out to the recycling,” say Poe, getting up. Finn hands Poe his bottle, and Poe follows him out the door to the recycling bin at the bottom of the stairs.
Finn jogs up the stairs, takes out a key, and lets himself into Rey’s apartment. As he closes the door, he waves.
“—Chrysanthemum-Posey has such a long name, like me, that she started going by CP! Like, me, daddy! She’s my best friend! Her and Rodney! Me and her and him played robots yesterday at recess, and I was BB-8 because robot names are just letters and numbers, right? And I’m the eighth BB there is! So I’m BB-8! And Rodney’s favorite number is two because he’s lost two teeth, so he was R2-D2, and CP’s favorite number is three because she was born on April 3rd, so she was C3PO. I don’t know where the O came from but I didn’t want to ask. Anyway we ran around and we beeped because that’s how robots talk! Then CP got scared that we were too far away from the teacher but Rodney didn’t want to go back but I made him go back because CP was scared. I’m cold, Daddy, can I have your jacket?”
“Yeah, sure thing, baby,” says Poe, and slips off his jacket. He’s looking at the selection of beef they have at the supermarket butcher counter, trying to figure out which cut of meat is best for the steaks he’s making tonight.
He notices, then, that BB’s monologue had ended. She pretty much never stops talking unless something is really wrong or she isn’t… there. Poe looks down to the end of the cart, where BB had been perched.
She isn’t there.
Don’t panic , he thinks to himself.
Immediately, he begins to panic.
Where has she gone? Did someone take her? He can’t believe she wouldn’t make a fuss if someone grabbed her, so it’s more likely she just slipped away on her own. Where would she go? Why? Did she go to grab something, thinking she would be helpful? Did she want to sneak something into the cart without him noticing? She does that sometimes.
He begins to head towards the cereal aisle without explaining to the girl behind the meat counter which cut of meat he wanted after all. BB loves sugary cereal and Poe doesn’t let her eat it, so if she wanted to sneak something into the cart she would have headed there. He’s halfway to the cereal aisle before he jolts to a stop, stricken by the idea that, having gotten her cereal, BB would head back to the meat counter, thinking he hadn’t noticed her leaving. And he hadn’t noticed her leaving, not right away.
God, he’s a terrible father. What if she was walking along the other side of the aisles and he missed her? Should he go up front and have them make a missing child announcement? That would be humiliating, but if it found BB it would be worth it. Maybe he should head back to the meat counter and wait for her there? He could also ask the other grocery patrons, find out if anyone saw a six year old girl with orange streaks in her hair walking alone, possibly with a box of Lucky Charms. Maybe he should make that announcement after all.
He used to strategize military engagements, how hard is it to find a six year old in a supermarket?
“There he is!” He hears a bright voice come from behind him. He turns around to see BB, with a box of… is that Cookie Crunch? Jesus, she’s going to sit in time out for the rest of her life, that stuff is literally just dessert with milk poured over it. BB is holding Rey’s hand, who is the one who had spoken. In Rey’s other hand is a basket half-full of groceries, and draped over her elbow is his flight jacket.
“Oh, Jesus Christ,” Poe gasps, and scoops up BB, holding her so tight she drops the box of cereal on the ground. He presses a single, hard kiss against her temple and tucks her up against his body.
“Daddy, you’re squeezing too hard,” whimpers BB, squirming in his grip.
“Baby, I thought I lost you,” he says, and lets her down on the ground, kneeling on the ground and grasping her by the shoulders to make sure she’s paying attention. “You can’t do that, you can’t run away from me. What if you had gotten lost, or hurt, and I wasn’t there to take care of you? What if somebody had taken you? You scared me, sweetheart, you scared me really bad.”
When BB sees the look on his face, her lips start to tremble. He doesn’t think she’s ever seen him as upset as he is right now. “I’m sorry, I just wanted to go get the cereal. And then Rey saw me, and so we went to go look for you.” The last bit fades into a mumble.
“We’ll talk about this more at home,” he says, and picks her back up. He’s too raw right now to think about his like a human being and reasonable parent, unsure if he’s going to start screaming at her or sit down in the middle of the grocery store and cry in relief. He turns to Rey. “Thank you so much for finding her.”
“Oh, it’s no problem,” says Rey, handing his coat back to him. “She was pretty distinctive, wandering around in your jacket.”
“Really, thank you,” he says. BB is snuggled up into his side, and he literally can’t imagine what he would have done if Rey hadn’t found BB and brought her back.
Rey shrugs. “We get along, don’t we, BB?”
BB beams. She has the sweetest crush on Rey, asking if Rey can come babysit, if they can go visit Rey upstairs, if she can go with Poe when he brings the car to Millennium Garage, where Rey works, to get it tuned.
He had acquiesced on that last one, and BB had spend the time nearly vibrating with excitement as Rey had patiently shown her the different parts of a motorcycle engine, how each part worked. When Rey had even let her gently place a part of the engine back into the correct place, BB had nearly started crying in joy. Poe’s car had actually been serviced by the owner of the garage, an older, incredibly grumpy man named Han. He had rustled around in the engine, tore something out, and then kicked the back tire, and charged Poe 300 bucks for it. On the other hand, the car worked like a dream now, and Poe had made the acquaintance of a tiny Yorkie named Chewie, who apparently belonged to the Han.
Together, Poe and Rey wander towards the checkout aisles. Poe drops the box of Cookie Crunch into his basket. Maybe it’s reinforcement of negative behaviors, but he’s too tired to care about that right now. He has his daughter, and that’s what matters.
Although Rey, with her little basket, had gone to the express aisle, and gotten done much faster than Poe did, she’s waiting for him when he gets out.
“There’s a Starbucks across the street. The coffee’s not so good, but you still look a little bit shaken up from what happened. Do you want to go put your groceries in the car and then sit there for a little while?”
Poe sighs in relief. “Yeah, that sounds great.”
He brings his groceries to the car, then digs out a coloring book and some colored pencils for BB. BB’s thrilled that she’s going to be spending more time with Rey, so she goes along happily. He meets up with Rey at the Starbucks. They both order iced coffees, along with a box of chocolate milk for BB from the cooler in front, and sit down to find a table. He gets BB settled with her “Cars and Trucks and Things That Go” coloring book, and turns around to find Rey sipping steadily from her iced coffee and staring at him.
“Why did you move to Jakku?” she asks. He’s noticed this about Rey, that she’s direct. She always says what’s on her mind. It’s refreshing.
“I got a new job, over at Resistance Industries?”
Rey nods knowingly. Resistance employs practically half the town, and the other half definitely has friends or family working there, either as engineers or factory workers.
“So you know Leia Organa?” asks Rey. Poe nods in assent. Ms. Organa—or Leia, as he has been told (but can’t quite bring himself) to call her—is the CEO of Resistance Industries. As a project manager, he works nearly directly under her. She’s a tough woman, but very kind, once you get to know her. She has a hell of a sharp tongue, though. Some of the workers call her The General, for her military efficiency. Although they’re a civilian company, Ms. Organa runs her operation like a well oiled machine.
“Do you know her?” Poe asks.
Rey nods. “She’s married to Han, my boss.”
“Really?” asks Poe, shocked.
“Yeah, he used to work for her, actually. Apparently it was a disaster and they nearly blew up the company, literally. Han left, and started up the garage. He says he likes fixing up old junkers better than working on planes anyhow.” Rey shrugs.
“You know, now that I’m thinking about it, they make perfect sense as a couple. But also no sense,” says Poe. Rey laughs, and, again, he can’t help but notice how big her smile is. It’s endearing. You have to love a face with a smile that big. He tilts his head, wondering. “How did you end up in Jakku? Were you born here?”
Rey makes a face. “No, thank god. I came here when I was around BB’s age. Foster kid.” Poe cups a protective hand over the back of BB’s head, rubbing his thumb against her hair. He can’t imagine BB on her own, as young as she is. Rey sighs. “My foster family moved when I was sixteen, but I got a legal emancipation so I could stay here and finish out high school. I was trying to figure a way out of here the summer after senior year when Han offered me a job. I never meant to stay, but I’m 26 now, so it’s been… Jesus, eight years since then. I mean, the town sucks, but the people are good.”
Now she has the smile that he’s noticed on both Finn and Rey’s faces, whenever they start thinking about each other. If he’s learned one thing in the month or two he’s been living underneath Rey, it’s that Rey and Finn are nearly violently in love. He hasn’t heard any sex noises, thank God, but he’s run into Finn more times than he can count on the staircase, and he’s seen them around town together, running errands or on dates. They hold hands. A lot.
“How did you and Finn, uh, meet?” he asks, to torture himself. He’s not going to lie and say that he doesn’t have a crush on his daughter’s first grade teacher and also his upstairs neighbor, both of whom are depressingly committed to each other, but sometimes it’s a good idea to remind himself just how off the table they both are.
“Well, he came to town four years ago, after dropped out of the Army and got his teaching license, and we met in the Farmer’s Market that comes once a month. He had gotten lost, and we struck up a conversation. Been together pretty much ever since,” she says, with the goofiest grin.
“That’s so nice,” says Poe, and hopes that his forced smile doesn’t look too much like a grimace.
Subject: Field Trip!!
I’m trying to organize a field trip to Tatooine Zoo (shh, don’t tell BB yet!). There’s only one problem: I need a parent chaperone before I can announce it. I’ve been emailing some of the usual volunteers, but no one is able to make it. I know you’re busy, but is there any way you’d be able to make it? It’s going to be Friday the 18 th . I can have Rey put in a good word with Han so he can talk to Leia!
1 st grade
Jakku Regional Elementary and Middle School
Subject: Friday the 18 th
Hello Mr. Dameron,
It has recently come to my attention that you may be chaperoning a field trip for the 1 st grade class two weeks from now, on Friday the 18 th . You may, of course, take a full or half day off, as long as you are willing to take it as a personal day.
Off the record: Good for you for taking an interest in your daughter’s education. Spending a day with Finn probably doesn’t hurt, huh? I’m sure he won’t mind it either.
Resistance Air and Space Industries
Poe exhales through his nose and sits back in his kitchen chair. He doesn’t really mind going on a field trip: spending half a day herding around 1st graders isn’t his idea of a great time, but spending the day with BB would be nice. He doesn’t even mind that he’s practically been forcibly volunteered to chaperone a field trip, because Finn is just enthusiastic, and Poe is so far gone he really just finds it sweet. He does mind, however, that Ms. Organa has apparently figured out his enormous crush on Finn, despite the three of them never having been in the same room together. And what does that last line even mean? Sighing, Poe opens up a reply to both emails.
The morning of the field trip dawns hot, even for Texas, a scalding 98 degrees. Poe has an internal debate over whether he wants to wear shorts, and be comfortable, or wear pants, and avoid looking like a middle-aged dad. God damn it, he’s 32, not dead, he thinks, as he pulls on a pair of jeans and one of his old Air Force shirts. If these particular pants make his ass look amazing, well, that isn’t why he had chosen them. And if this shirt was worn and soft, and perfect for a tired 1st grade teacher to rest his head on Poe’s shoulder on the bus ride home, well, that certainly isn’t something he was imagining.
“Good morning!” exclaims Finn, as Poe and BB approach the school building.
“Hey, buddy,” says Poe, and claps Finn on the shoulder.
Finn gestures to a yellow school bus. “If you guys want to hop on? Almost everyone is here.” He bends down low to look at BB. “CP and Rodney are towards the back, if you want to sit with them.” BB runs off, and Finn straightens back up. “God, I hope they sit three to a seat. Have you ever seen three little kids all sitting on one bus seat? It’s adorable.”
“Well, I’ll definitely keep an eye out for it.”
“You do that. The other chaperone is already in there, up near the front. I’m going to be sitting there, too, if you want to go get settled.”
“Yeah, sounds great.”
Finn grabs at Poe’s arm before he can move away. “The other chaperone, she’s, well… she’s nice, but. You know what, never mind, you can see for yourself.”
Puzzling that over, Poe heads up into the bus and then promptly forgets it as he looks towards the back. BB, CP, and Rodney are, in fact, sitting three to a seat, and it is, in fact, adorable. Poe looks down at a muffled cough coming from the seat to his left. In it sits a tiny, extremely wrinkled old woman with enormous eyes behind her thick glasses. She’s wearing leather pants, a sweater, and a stocking cap, in the heat, and has a necklace of prayer beads around her neck.
“Hello,” says the woman, sticking out a hand to shake. “My name is Maz Kanata, I’m the school counselor.”
“I’m Poe Dameron,” says Poe, taking her hand. It’s incredibly soft, like his grandmother’s, and delicate. Poe is, abruptly, terrified of accidentally doing something to break this woman. It looked incredibly easy. But, based on what he’s gotten from her personality, also impossible.
“Well, aren’t you handsome,” says Maz. “You must be such a heartbreaker.”
“Oh, thank you, I’m glad a beautiful girl such as yourself thinks so.” Poe loves old ladies like this. He looks exaggeratedly over his shoulder. “Is your boyfriend around, should I not have said that?”
Maz laughs, and reaches up to pat his hand. “Oh, I like you,” she says. Then, before he can sit down, she quickly shifts her grip to hold his hand in hers. Her face becomes serious and kind, and Poe is certain, in that moment, that she can see into his heart.
“You’re doing a good job, raising her,” Maz says. “She’s going to be just fine.”
She releases his hand, and Poe stumbles down into the seat across from her. He can’t remember ever mentioning to Maz that he had a daughter. He feels like something has been ripped out of his chest, and then pieced back together, better.
Finn runs up the stairs and takes his place at the front of the bus as it starts to move, shouting the rules of the field trip over the excited yells of 23 1st graders. Finn tosses himself next to Poe, and turns to him, excitedly, before seeing the expression on Poe’s face.
“Hey, you okay, man?” he asks, placing a hand on Poe’s chest.
Poe leans forward to look at Maz, who smiles and waves at Poe like nothing had happened. Poe leans back.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” he says.
They’re about 20 minutes into the 45 minute trip to Tatooine, the nearest big city with a zoo, when the bus engine begins to sputter and smoke. It interrupts a fascinating discussion that Finn and Poe had been having about the last episode of Game of Thrones. The driver manages to steer them off of the highway and into a parking lot before the engine completely dies. Finn leans up to talk to the driver.
“Hey, don’t worry about it, I know a mechanic who will drive up here right now. It’s no problem,” he says, and then sits back down and hands Poe his cell phone. “Could you call Rey and have her come up here and look at the engine? I need to do damage control with the kids.”
Poe looks through Finn’s contacts until he finds Rey’s name, followed by a few heart emojis. He presses “call”.
“Hey, peanut,” comes Rey’s voice over the phone, lazy and affectionate. Poe immediately feels awkward.
“Hi Rey, it’s Poe,” he says, biting at the corner of his lip.
“Oh, Poe, hi!” She sounds surprised, and then worried. “Is something wrong?”
“Yeah, actually. Nothing big, but we’re in a McDonald’s parking lot off of exit 12 of the interstate and the engine of the school bus cut out. Could you come up and take a look at it?”
“Absolutely, I’ll be there in 15 minutes.”
She makes it in 12.
“How did you get here so quick?” he hears Finn ask, as he steps off of the bus.
“My man was in trouble, so I drove fast,” Rey says back, getting off of her motorcycle and lifting up her toolbox. Poe has seen the bike before. It’s big, and a deep red, and pretty sexy, if he’s being honest.
Poe stands in the aisle, unsure if he should go out with Finn and Rey or stay and look after the kids. He doesn’t want to abandon the kids without supervision, but he also really wants to go spend time with Rey and Finn.
“You go along, honey,” says Maz. “I can handle the kids.” She gives him a knowing smile. He figures if he doesn’t think about it too much, he can let it go, because even a woman he just met can figure out what’s going on with him and Rey and Finn, and that’s not okay. So he doesn’t think about it, and heads outside.
When he gets to the front of the bus, Rey has her head stuck into the engine and Finn is leaning his hip against the side. Poe pats the side of the bus, then hisses and snatches his hand back.
“Jesus, that’s hot. What’s going on with the engine?”
“It’s fucked up,” says Finn, and Rey laughs.
“I mean, that’s not the technical term, but yeah. I can get it working again though, so no worries.” Rey’s head never comes up out of the engine. “Finn, can you hand me the plastic fastener remover?”
“This?” Finn grabs something at random and shoves it into Rey’s eye line.
“No, the fastener remover.”
“Yes.” Rey’s attention snaps back to the engine.
Finn leans against the bus in a way that make his shoulders look even broader, if that’s possible. Poe swallows.
“So, Poe, you’ve been living here for a while, now. How have you been settling in?”
“Well, BB’s made lots of friends—”
Finn shakes his head, and lays a hand on Poe’s shoulder. “I’m not talking about BB, I’m talking about you. How have you been?”
Poe shrugs. He hadn’t really thought about it, to be honest. As long as BB is happy, he’s okay. And Poe has a good place to live and work. And, even though he’s been trying not to think about it, he has Finn and Rey. They make the entire experience of living here wonderful.
“I’ve been good, buddy, really,” says Poe.
Finn nods, and squints in the sun. “Yeah, you’ve been settling in? Found somebody special? A girlfriend? A boyfriend? A cute boyfriend?”
Poe laughs a little bit. “No, no, nothing like that. I’m not opposed to it or anything. Either of them. But it just hasn’t happened. BB is so important; she takes up most of my time. And anyway, she’d have to really like whoever I was dating.”
“She really likes us,” offers Rey, but before Poe can reply to that the engine splutters to life.
“Hey!” Finn exclaims, and throws his hands up in the air. “You’re a lifesaver, babe!”
Rey slams the top closed, grinning. “And all for the low price of nothing, because I love you,” she says.
The kiss quickly, in victory, and Poe looks down at the ground. He looks up at a gentle touch to his elbow.
“Do you want to come to our place, tonight, after you put BB to sleep for a beer? Say, 10? You’ll need to relax after the school trip,” says Rey.
“Yeah, sure, I’d be glad to,” he says. She smiles, and removes her fingers from his elbow.
“Okay, bye Finn! See you later, Poe!” she calls, heading back to her motorcycle. Finn and Poe both raise a hand in a wave. Finn then turns to Poe, and gives him a silly grin.
“Let’s get this field trip back on the road!” he yells. Poe throws his head back and groans.
In all honesty, the road trip doesn’t go nearly as badly as Poe expected. The kids listen to Finn, and are very well behaved. They watch animals while a tour guide explains about things like ecosystems and symbiosis . No one starts crying, or dies. It seems if one thing was meant to go wrong on the field trip, it was the bus, and that wasn’t too huge of a disaster. Before he knows it, Poe is back at the school, carrying a tuckered out BB back to their car.
Finn falls asleep on his shoulder on the ride back to the school. Poe is careful not to move the whole time.
He spends the next hours in a bit of a daze, playing with BB, sitting at the kitchen table catching up on emails while she does her homework, cooking dinner, putting BB into the bath, getting her ready for bed. He tucks her in and reads her a story, and by the time she’s dozed off its 9:15.
He jumps in the shower, because after a day in the hot sun, he doesn’t smell his best. He spends a solid, valuable 10 minutes trying to figure out if he should put on a new outfit or go in his old one. He decides to change his shirt into another one from his Air Force days, a little bit tight in the shoulders. He isn’t trying for anything, but no one ever said that Poe Dameron doesn’t know how to dress to his advantage. He makes it up the stairs and is knocking on Rey’s door by 10:02.
“Hey, hi, come in!” Rey says as she opens the door. She’s not wearing shoes, and so Poe takes his off as well.
Finn is in the kitchen, pulling beer out of the fridge. “Hey, I was thinking maybe we could watch a movie?” he asks.
Poe scratches the back of his head. “It has been a really long time since I’ve watched anything that’s not Disney,” he says, and Finn and Rey laugh. Rey’s hand is small and slightly cool on the small of his back as she leads him to the living room, even though her apartment is the same layout as his.
She seats him in the middle of the couch, which surprises him. Finn and Rey settle down on either side of him, and after a few minutes of friendly bickering, settle on a movie. Poe doesn’t really have an opinion, because with how Rey and Finn are pressed against him, he doubts he’s going to be watching much of the film. It’s a pretty small couch.
He’s drained his beer by the time they’re 45 minutes into the movie. He doesn’t drink very much, now that BB is around, so he’s the littlest bit tipsy off of that one drink. He’s so close he can hear Finn breathe, feel Rey’s long hair on his shoulder. He tips his head back against the couch and closes his eyes. When he opens them, Finn has his head leaning back as well, and is looking at him.
Finn begins to move forward, slowly, and Poe doesn’t even put it together until Finn is kissing him, gently. Poe can’t seem to do anything but kiss back, his hands still resting on his thighs. He hears Rey shift, and has a moment of panic before he feels a hot mouth kiss his neck, a small, cool hand slide up to rest on his chest. Poe releases his mouth, only to have Rey turn his head with a finger under his chin and kiss him, too. Kissing Rey is different than kissing Finn. Finn was gentle, and careful. Rey starts out delicate, but then rises to her knees so she’s above Poe, kissing him forcefully. He feels big, careful hands card through his hair and gentle sucking on his neck. Rey stops kissing him, but he still keeps his eyes closed, not wanting to wake up if this is a dream. At a gentle stroke to his cheek, he opens them. Rey is so close he has to cross his eyes to look at her.
“Hi,” she says, quietly.
“Hi,” Poe says back.
“We like you,” she says. “If you couldn’t tell.”
“I’m glad,” he says. He realizes his hands are still resting on his thighs, and he begins to pick at the seam, nervously. Finn takes his hand in his own, and kisses it. “I like you guys, too,” says Poe.
“I, um, looked it up,” says Finn. “It’s not against school rules to fraternize with the parent of a kid in your class. It seems like maybe it should be? But it isn’t, and you know I won’t treat BB any differently.”
“Is that what we’re doing?” Poe asks, nervous. “Fraternizing?”
“Well, ideally we’d be dating,” says Rey. “But if you just want to fraternize, that’s okay, too. We don’t want to ask for anything you’re uncomfortable with, we know you have BB to think about.” He feels Finn nod on his other side.
“No, it’s okay,” he says. “I’d like to date you guys, too.”
He hears Finn let out a victorious hiss of a “yes!” and Finn and Rey high five above his head.
“I mean, alright, cool,” says Finn, faux casually, and the two of them press in close to him, Finn resting his head on Poe’s shoulder, Rey resting hers against Poe’s chest. They go back to watching the movie, and Poe blinks a couple of times.
“So, that’s it, it’s settled?” Poe asks.
“Yeah, pretty much,” says Finn.
“Oh, before we forget, are you free this weekend? We want to take you out to dinner. And then fuck your brains out, if that’s okay with you.”
“Uh, yeah, that sounds great,” says Poe.
“Saturday night?” asks Finn.
“Absolutely,” says Poe. “I’ll find a babysitter.”
“Perfect,” says Rey.
As they settle in to finish the movie, Poe feels Rey and Finn up against him, can still feel their lips on his, and thinks, yeah, maybe it is.