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turbulence, and something else

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Finn wakes—and Poe does everything he can to make him feel at home: which is to say, not at all. He takes Finn around the base and shows him where he eats, where he sleeps, and where he goes for all the moments in between, and Finn takes in all this information with a kind of wide-eyed acceptance that Poe equates with being somewhat overwhelmed.

Which. Is not Finn’s fault, really, not at all, but Poe would be lying if he’d said he wasn’t concerned.

Finn’s being too passive, with all the silence and the quick, sharp nods that Poe’s receiving, and how his questions are always simply-worded and there is personality coming through but it’s always minimized, like he’s aware and careful not to let too much of himself show through, which would—

Would what, really? What did Finn have to be afraid of?

Too much, Poe’s brain supplies, and he thinks about all these ways to reassure Finn but there isn’t much he could do in terms of speech, really, because words have been diluted with all of their experience and he’s not sure if he could say anything that would manage to convince Finn that this isn’t how we treat people here and I want you to share a part of my home.

It doesn’t feel real, because Finn’s his savior and Poe doesn’t know how to tell him that his lungs are full of gratitude that he doesn’t know how to convey. That Poe could tell him how he’ll never forget this over and over and it still wouldn’t be enough. That maybe Finn would hear all of this and still think that this is just what you say when someone saves your life – but it’s much more than that, isn’t it?

“I just want Finn to be happy,” Poe’s telling BB-8, cleaning out its components and making sure that everything runs in perfect order, because he doesn’t forget this luck that had somehow managed to promise him both Finn and BB-8’s safety after this entire wreck. “It’s just kind of hard.”

BB-8 whirs encouragingly.

“Yeah, buddy,” Poe says somewhat distractedly, because every image in his head is accompanied with an afterthought of Finn. “I know it’s worth it.”

///

One entire month passes, and Finn makes a somewhat full recovery, strong as he is.

Poe wants to bring him out and celebrate, let him experience everything that he’s been missing out on: because Poe knows that there are just some things that the First Order wouldn’t let their stormtroopers even have—but the medical droids have told him, very strictly, that there would not be any celebrating until another few months have passed.

Finn looks exceptionally disappointed with this, and it breaks Poe’s heart, really, because he should be free to do whatever he wants, now, he’s more than earned it. But orders are orders, and the droids know what they’re talking about—so Poe tries to comfort Finn as much as he can.

“There’s still a lot of other things we can do,” Poe says because there’s nothing else he can offer in consolation other than you’re still alive and I want to make sure you stay that way, Finn, your health is a priority.

Finn shrugs, and Poe can feel the movement of his shoulders underneath his palm, where he’s trying to support Finn as they walk back to their shared room. He doesn’t quite need it anymore, the support, but Poe thinks that you could never be sure.

“A while,” Finn smiles, but it’s a bit bitter, “they mean a whole decade.”

Poe meets his eyes, and offers him a few more pats on the back. His hand lingers longer than it has to, and he lets it rest there, lightly, so that Finn could easily shrug it off, if he wanted to. But he doesn’t.

“Pal,” Poe says, and Finn’s eyes are warm and he thinks he could compare it to the sky—it’s so vast but Poe’s certain he wouldn’t get lost in them. Only if he had permission, of course.

“Recovering is never an easy business,” Poe says, and Finn’s mouth is downturned in the way that it does whenever he accepts something he doesn’t quite like, “I’d much rather it if you didn’t push your luck so much.”

“Luck,” Finn repeats, and his eyes darken by a fraction—and Poe’s reminded of how the First Order treats their own. How pain is never something to be cured but terminated instead, because what does the First Order have, if not people? People like Finn, conditioned to serve and taken down immediately once there’s a flaw? It makes an old anger flare up in him, the knowledge that living beings aren’t supposed to even heal. How often did Finn had to swallow his pain, in order to keep living?

“Yeah, well,” Poe says, running a thumb down the fixed-up gash down Finn’s jacket, “we don’t like to leave things to chance, here.”

Finn averts his gaze, and Poe tries to tamp down that feeling of disappointment that comes rising up. He hasn’t been any less anxious than when he first woke up at the base, and Poe’s made it his mission to do something about that, and it’s not working so far, no. “I fixed it,” Finn says, and he’s taller than Poe, but he looks so much smaller with his eyes on the ground, “I don’t know if you’d want it back.”

“I’d rather you keep it,” Poe tells him. “I like the look of it on you.”

There’s a slight hesitation to Finn, but when he speaks, it keeps the grin on Poe’s face for hours on end: “it has character now, I suppose. Which is another way of saying that it looks kind of ugly, but hey. I like it, it’s mine.”

“Yeah,” Poe says, feeling like he’s made some progress, in the least, when Finn visibly relaxes and leans more of his weight onto Poe, “it’s yours now.”

///

“Poe,” Finn’s saying hours later, his name phrased as a question, and Poe turns to him with his body still wet from the shower. They’ve settled down in his room, and Finn’s supposed to be filling out his paperwork for the Resistance. But there’s a slight twist to the edges of his lips and Poe rushes to him in half a second. If his back hurts—Poe can probably carry Finn back to the medbay, even though he’s heavier than him, or they could get a stretcher, which is probably a better idea.

“What’s wrong,” Poe says after a momentary pause, sitting down on the bed beside Finn. It only hits him a second later that Finn is filling out applications and he’s only just gotten his name a few months ago, when he’d rescued Poe, and there are bound to be blanks left and right and how could Poe not think of this sooner?!

“It’s not as if we have to hand it in right away,” Poe tells him, gently withdrawing the holopad from Finn’s grasp. “It’s not as if it really cannot wait.”

“Are you sure?” Finn asks, looking down at the holopad where Poe had dropped it to the floor, and Poe forces himself to breathe. This really shouldn’t even be that complicated in the first place, the least Finn deserves is to at least know where he comes from. “Because—I guess it could just be—you know—incomplete.”

Poe purses his lips at Finn, and he almost misses the quick glance at it—but he doesn’t. Except it’s most likely wishful thinking, anyway, and he moves on. “Finn. It’s okay not to have a home.”

“I know,” Finn says, so soft that it could almost be a whisper. There’s nothing that sounds like disappointment in those words. Only something close to resignation, and Poe—Poe hates it.

“I think. That you could leave this for later—if you want. You don’t have to fill this in right away.” Finn’s giving him a look, the one that screams confusion, about. About what? The fact that he’s allowed some autonomy?

There’s a silence that drapes over them after, but it’s nothing Poe would mind. It’s a nice breather, because Finn’s not looking at him and Poe can etch the shape of his face into his memories as much as he wants. No one is here to shame him for it.

“Only if you want, Finn,” he says after a while, because Finn doesn’t owe him an answer, doesn’t owe him anything, “you could always choose what you wanna do.”

“I guess,” Finn says, but Poe’s hearing a slight increase of conviction in his voice and it’s not everything he wants for Finn, but. It’s enough.

///

“So you’re Finn,” Jessika says with her mouth half-full, ignoring every glare that Poe’s sending her way, “we’ve heard quite a bit about you.”

Finn, because he’s Finn, blushes, and stammers out, “I don’t think there’s much to hear about?”

Poe hates the look in Jessika’s eyes; nothing ever ends well when she looks at Poe like that.

“No,” she says, dangling a fork in her hand, “it’s a pleasure to meet the subject Poe’s been harping on about for months.”

“Months,” Finn says, turning to Poe in confusion, and Poe cannot. “You talked about me?”

But there’s nothing like mockery in Finn’s eyes, and it soothes the burn of embarrassment that crawling up Poe’s neck, hot and tingling. “Yeah, of course I do, buddy. Why wouldn’t I?”

Finn’s nose scrunches up slightly, his eyebrows knitting together, and it makes Poe laugh, because there’s something about him this way, and it’s a relief to watch him stop worrying, stop overthinking.

“There’s. Not really much to talk about, is there,” Finn says, and turns to him with those big, guileless eyes, and Poe thinks that his mind might have just short-circuited. It’s kind of stupid that he’s so handsome, really, because it’s all kinds of disgusting and someday Finn will see through him and know that Poe will never be able to look at him without smiling like he’s mad, like he’s back in the air but he doesn’t think he cares.

(Jessika and Iolo are giving him very, very unimpressed looks right now but Poe doesn’t even bother even glancing towards their direction, because Finn—Finn is beautiful and—oh.

Oh, no.)

///

Because Poe is an idiot and can’t quite get enough of Finn—he doesn’t avoid him. Doesn’t look away whenever Finn beams at him like he’s done something good. All he can think about is Finn, Finn, Finn, Finn, Finn, and the entire base could see that, probably, the way that Poe wears his adoration out for everyone to see. Because it’s really difficult to hide at this stage, not when Finn is the way he is and impossibly kind, always wanting to help, it’s almost like that’s the only thing on his mind. Poe’s just so fucking gone; it’s not even funny.

“It’s real obvious,” Jessika says, pointing it out as if Poe isn’t suffering enough on his own in silence, “you should really tone it down a little.”

“I know,” Poe says somewhat dejectedly, because even General Organa knows about this infatuation he has with Finn now, had even pulled him aside to give him some advice. Something like, we’re fighting a war and make your time count.

And it was almost enough for him to reconsider keeping his mouth shut: until Finn had rushed to him one day with a scarf in his hands – which he had knitted himself, apparently – and draped it around Poe’s neck. Poe had stared at him wordlessly, because Finn had made something for him and he’s trying to think of something he could give in return, but. His hands are empty.

So Finn had mistook his silence as something else and apologized, telling Poe that he didn’t have to keep it if it was ugly, and Poe had to fight to keep it. He had to climb onto Finn’s shoulders and wrestle it off of him, because he could almost imagine it then, Finn with his large hands, his careful fingers. And he was—thinking of me.

Of course, all of this doesn’t escape Jessika’s watchful eye, and because she never stops commenting on anything that would mildly embarrass Poe anyway, she says: “it’s like you’re wearing his favour,” while pulling out random tools nearly at the speed of light, “it’s so romantic, I think I might throw up a little.”

And maybe it’s luck, or something, because Finn chooses this moment in time to come bursting into the hangar, and almost every other pilot’s eye is trained on the both of them as Finn comes striding over, and the only thought Poe’s capable of having is: damn, he’s handsome today.

Jessika’s squinting at him in disapproval, but Finn most probably would think nothing of it, so Poe lets his guard down anyway—and wraps his arms around him, perhaps a little too tight to pass as something casual between friends. The scarf is slightly damp now, because the weather is nowhere near cold and Finn had intended Poe to be wearing it on other planets, freezing planets, but Poe doesn’t care, not particularly.

“What brings you here, buddy,” Poe’s says, leaning his chin on Finn’s shoulder. He hugs him a little tighter because. Why not?

But Finn pulls away eventually, and Poe follows suit, but they don’t stray far from each other; the world has always been a bit too kind to Poe and he knows it. “You’re still wearing the scarf I made for you,” Finn says after a brief pause, his eyes searching, “why?”

“Why?” Poe says, feeling a bit stunned. “You made it for me, buddy, why wouldn’t I wear it?”

Finn looks at him with something akin to pride and Poe thinks he might be melting into the ground any time soon, figuratively or literally. “It’s hot, Poe. You don’t have to wear it all the time.”

“But I want to.”

“You don’t—” Finn starts to say, but he relents somewhere in between and Poe thinks it might be due to the expression on his face, but he’s not too sure.

(Jessika says that it was a cross between indignation and misery. Poe thinks that she might be exaggerating.)

“Well. I wanted to ask if. You wanted to get dinner with me? I mean, you’ve been really busy and we share a room, but. I just don’t see you that often anymore, you know?”

Finn blinks at him, eyes darting down occasionally to eye the scarf that’s currently a mess around his neck, and Poe forgets to respond.

“Oh,” he says finally, because disappointment was starting to surface on Finn’s face, and Poe doesn’t think he could bear that, not when Finn had come all the way down here just to ask if they could have dinner together. “Of course, buddy,” Poe agrees, pressing his hand onto Finn’s shoulder, “just let me wrap things up here and I’m all yours for the evening.”

“Great,” Finn beams at him, eyes dancing, and Jessika’s going to harass him for the entirety of the next week but he doesn’t think he cares, not when Finn’s looking at him like that.

///

They have nightmares, because of course they do; what else happens when you’re trying to fight a war? The both of them collect dark circles underneath their eyes and spend this night and the next trying to lure themselves back to sleep, in one way or another. Finn loses weight, starts looking somewhat haggard, and Poe aches for him but he doesn’t have any words to quell the nightmares, not when he has them so often himself.

Poe holds his hand sometimes, knows that Finn finds some degree of comfort in physical interaction, that this is the least he could do. It’s nothing substantial. Sometimes they fall asleep like this, fingers twined with their backs against the wall and sometimes Poe doesn’t think about not letting go, of pulling Finn closer to his heart because he’s never sure what’s going to last between this mission and the next.

Occasionally—they stay like this until the sun rises, until the both of them has to leave for whatever it is that they have to do. It’s doesn’t make them feel well-rested, not quite, but Poe’s glad for the company, is willing to sacrifice sleep for it. Has learned to grow familiar with the calluses of Finn’s hands from using blasters, from his competency, knows the ridges of his fingers, his thumbs.

“It’s difficult to go to sleep, knowing what happens out there,” Finn says, once, and Poe could see his eyebrows furrowing in the dim light, has to stop himself from pressing a light kiss there.

“I know,” Poe says, because he really does. He’s got a bird’s eye view of what goes on in other planets, understands how it feels like to have fire scorching metal underneath him when he’s watching someone else’s home burn down. “I know how it’s like, Finn.”

“You would,” Finn agrees, softly, his hand shaking slightly beneath Poe’s. “Do you— do you think I should leave?”

“Why should you,” Poe asks, turns his head to see Finn’s face more clearly, so handsome that Poe doesn’t think he could breathe, but he finishes what he has to say, because Finn deserves all of this, deserves so much more. “You could. No one’s going to stop you.”

Finn looks at him, properly looks at him, and says, “do you want me to?”

Poe’s almost scared; it feels like Finn could see through him, look at the bottom of things, could realize that Poe’s not half the man he’s pretending to be. “Of course not. That’s the last thing I want, buddy.”

“Oh,” Finn says, quietly, looking away. The light catches the curve of his bottom lip, and Poe tries so hard not to want, not to lean in and kiss him properly, not to cling tighter because that’s not what Finn wants and that’s okay, it really is—but it’s also killing Poe inside.

“Buddy,” Poe says, shifting to rest his hand on Finn’s arm, “let’s go for a walk.”

Finn tilts his head at him, but he follows him out anyway, not shaking away the grip that Poe still has on his bicep. There’s a chill in the air that makes goosebumps stand on both his and Finn’s arms, but they pace forwards in silence anyway, blindly, until Poe realizes that he’s brought Finn to the hangar.

He half-drags Finn over to the tables situated at the end of it, but Finn's not complaining, and Poe leans against him as they sit down, thighs pressing against one another. They’re facing the entire spectacle of it, all these starfighters and machinery and good engineering, and Finn never seems to cease being overwhelmed by it all, his head tilted back and a smile on his face. Poe doesn't even remember the last time the both of them had slept the entire night through.

They sit like this for minutes, for hours, with Finn’s arm around Poe’s waist, and with Poe leaning on his shoulder and breathing in this familiarity of him, reveling in it. They don’t speak. Poe doesn’t spend his entire time there wondering what good he’s done to be able to meet someone like Finn, but it’s the last thing on his mind before he falls asleep, and it's close enough.

He's got Finn wrapped around him and, well, it feels safer this way.

///

Because he can't go without saying it any further:

“I’m in love with him,” Poe admits sometime in the air, his voice crackling over the comms.

And he doesn’t know why but he thinks she'd be smiling at him, now, proud that he could—say it out loud, in the least. Her words are grainy when it carries back to him, but somehow they ring clear in his head: “he’s a good man, Poe. You deserve him.”

///

Finn starts visiting him at work more often now, with his schedule cleared up due to the doctors still insisting on giving his back time due to the injury. Spends most of his time sitting down with General Organa instead, feeding the base information on how things run in the First Order, and everyone is impressed because. Because he’s Finn, of course, sharp as a knife and ridiculously competent.

But he visits Poe when he’s free, and it’s a common occurrence now, Finn swinging by to chat with Poe for a few minutes before he heads off and starts on his other projects. Happens so often that the rest of his crew doesn’t tease him as much anymore, and starts seeing Finn as one of their own. Jessika, in particular, takes a shine to him, and no one is surprised at how fast the two of them get along, because Jessika is. Well, relentless, and Finn gets along with everybody.

“You’re just jealous that Finn likes to spend time with me too,” Jessika says, smug, as she leans against the wall as Poe and BB-8 rummage through the toolboxes for a spare wrench to hold as backup, “I understand, man.”

BB-8 beeps quietly in agreement, and Poe squints at him in dismay. “Traitor,” he announces, and laughs softly when BB-8 bumps him in the side.

“It’s true,” Jessika shrugs, but changes the topic fast enough so that Poe doesn’t get a word in. “How are things with him?”

“Fine,” Poe tells her, tugging down his scarf. “We’re good, he’s good. Everything’s running smooth.”

Jessika rolls her eyes. “Not what I meant.”

“Don’t know what you’re talking about, then,” Poe lies, and shuts the lid of the toolbox. “There’s nothing else going on.”

Jessika tuts, and sits down beside him. “Maybe not with him,” she says, because she is nothing but honest and Poe adores that about her, adores that she doesn’t sugarcoat anything, especially not with him. “But something is definitely happening with you. Spit it out, you’ve been looking miserable.”

“Am I,” Poe sighs, lips pursing, tapping his foot onto the floor. “He’s just. I don’t know, he’s just Finn, I suppose.”

Just Finn,” Jessika says, raising her eyebrows, but BB-8 whirs happily as it zooms to Finn’s side, who’s walking in with a rather large box in his hands, and Poe grins at him.

“Poe,” Finn calls out, his smile toothy and adorable, “I made you some pastries, thought that it’d be better to give you them now. Rather than later, y’know, ‘cause they’ll get all soggy and. Yeah.”

He’s more than aware that everyone in the room is staring at the both of them right now, but Poe hugs him anyway, briefly. Finn’s still wearing that smile, which means that he’s still pleased about the fact that Poe wears the scarf he’d knit him everywhere, which is. Rather sweet, he thinks.

“Of course, buddy,” Poe says, feeling Finn’s hand on his back, paying no attention to either that, or Jessika’s smirk pointedly. “I was just about to go to the mess hall anyway.”

“Oh,” Finn says, halfway through opening the box, his eyes dimming down a little, “you could still go if you’d like, I could share these with other people?”

No,” Poe almost shrieks out, and he recognizes that he has just thrown away the last shred of his dignity but he will never turn down anything Finn makes for him, that’s just blasphemy, “I’m eating these. You can’t stop me.”

“Okay,” Finn says warily, watching him with a slightly concerned look, hands holding up his weight on the table. “You sure?”

Poe nods sharply, stuffing one of it into his mouth because he’s really fucking certain. And oh, he didn’t expect this, but it’s—“actually really good,” he mumbles out with his mouth half-full, and Finn practically lights up.

“Really,” he asks, and even if it wasn’t—Poe would have said yes anyway, just to keep that look on Finn’s face.

“Really,” Poe confirms, licking his lips, and Finn’s gaze darts down for half a second, “I love it.”

“Good,” Finn says, and Poe stuffs another slice of pie into his mouth because he’s always hungry after maintenance checks, moaning quietly because it tastes like flying, if there was a flavor for it.

Finn looks slightly at a loss for words, and Poe remembers to keep his mouth shut, because sometimes he forgets the manners his ma had taught him and people make mistakes, sometimes. Jessika’s sending him a truly lecherous smirk, and Iolo and Snap are looking at him like they’re done with his shit, but Poe just cannot bring himself to care.

“It’s real good, Finn,” Poe nods, clapping Finn on the back to give him a quick embrace again. “Thank you; you really didn’t have to.”

Finn’s watching him with a quiet intensity, and Poe almost panics in fear that he's said something wrong, wants to swallow his tongue and apologise. But there's an even brighter grin breaking across Finn’s face, and there are no words for the contentment that Poe feels at the bottom of his stomach, the heavy satisfaction. Thinks that nothing could even come close. 

///

“Aren’t we getting the next two days off,” Iolo says one day, when the lot of them are sitting in the mess hall, not doing much during their break, “why don’t we head out and grab a drink? Later tonight, I mean.”

Poe looks up, and Jessika’s already assenting to the idea, so there’s no point in speaking because Jessika’ll do the talking for him. Snap agrees calmly, like the mediator to everything that he is, and all of them look towards Finn, who’s uncharacteristically quiet for a change. He’s not chattering on about his progress on his latest projects, or bickering with BB-8 at the side, and Poe doesn’t know how to bring it up with so many people around. Everything about Finn makes him feel transparent, now, like one look is all it takes for anyone else to know how he’s already half-way there, as if all his engines are malfunctioning and rusty.

“I’ll pass on this one,” Finn says eventually, scratching at his head, “I need to analyze some intel with the General later on, for the other squadrons—I’m sorry that I can’t come.”

“Aww,” Jessika coos, patting Finn’s shoulder, “there, there. You could always come with next time. Do your favorite Poe proud by drinking him under the table.”

Poe raises an eyebrow at her, idly touching his stubble with his fingers—until his gaze locks on to Finn’s, who coughs and turns away.

Of course, Poe’s thinking, tamping down that disappointment because there’s no reason to be feeling it in the first place, Rey might not be present but it is difficult to forget the radiance that she exudes, the brilliance.

They’re a good match, Poe supposes, and looks up to see Jessika’s eyes on him, her expression soft.

Poe doesn’t want to think about what any of this means, really, so he doesn’t. Lets the bitterness wash over him before he gathers up the courage to look at Finn in the eye again, because it’s all Finn’s been doing lately. Looking back at him, eyes searching for something that feels like it could almost tear Poe in half, leave him aching for a reprieve. Like Finn could see all of him within a millisecond.

“I’m going to go now,” Poe says, standing up from the table, startling the rest of them, but he doesn't think he quite cares.

///

“I’m not. I’m not angry at him,” Poe says a few hours later, with both his hands curled around the empty glass, and the rest of the crew are looking at him a certain way. Poe’s too drunk to recall the word, but he feels like he’s cracking and it doesn’t feel like it’s because of the alcohol, feels like the combination of Finn and everything else, actually.

Snap’s the first one to say something, Poe thinks, and through this haze it comes out as something like this: “I don’t think anyone said that you did, Poe. Why can’t you go and talk to him?”

“Because,” Poe says, but there’s something that’s shutting down his brain and he thinks that it’s an excuse enough not to say anything. “I love him. And this could be the last thing he wants to hear if he’s considering leaving. The Resistance. Leaving us. Leaving me, and he’s going to, he’s going to—“

“You don’t know that,” Jessika says, uncharacteristically quiet for most of the evening, even though she’s about as drunk as Poe, “you really don’t,” and Poe stays silent.

///

The thing is: everything is left as a possibility. Either Finn loves him back or he doesn’t. Either he doesn’t mind Poe or he hates him. Either he stays or packs up his belongings to leave. And Poe admits it, admits that he might be selfish for wanting Finn to remain in his orbit, but he’s only human, he’s trying to be selfless but sometimes he just can’t do it. It’s difficult to watch Finn this way, always within reach but never there for him to touch; it’s driving Poe insane.

He just can’t do it.

///

There’s a cute man from the base sliding into the seat next to his, and everyone’s left except for him and Jessika, and everything is hazy at the edges and Poe’s feeling a little daring today. He can’t remember his name but Poe knows his face, knows it well enough to see the awkwardness that would arise whenever they’d bump into each other in the future, and he’s feeling brave today.

So he doesn’t correct Jessika when she tells the cute lad that Finn’s his boyfriend, that Poe’s taken indefinitely for this period of time, thank you.

The man doesn’t seem to be offended, fortunately enough in this night of horrors (even though Poe can feel himself regretting this strongly in the morning, but. He’s lost count of how many shots he’s downed and he’s not even sure if he cares), and congratulates him instead, says that they’d all saw it for a long time coming but they were never sure.

“Yeah, Finn’s the best,” Poe says, attempting to lean on Jessika, who has her face down on the bar, “I love him.”

And this is how it’s supposed to be, isn’t it? That he’s not going to be anywhere near self-aware the third time he says it out loud, that he’d be blindly feeling the weight of this confession of his tongue, still too scared to admit it to the one person that needs to know.

(Or doesn’t need to, because who is Poe kidding? Why would Finn need to know when he has already so much to re-learn, to rediscover? Where does his slot in Finn’s life fit in?)

///

“Poe,” Finn says hours later, materializing out of nowhere and looking—worried, which makes him want to kiss it right off his face, but then Poe’s reminded that he can’t do that and. It makes everything dim a little, but it’s alright because Finn is here and he’s here for him.

“Buddy,” Poe croaks out, wincing slightly as he tries to open his eyes to see Finn, “what are you doing here?”

“It’s late,” Finn says. “You weren’t coming home.”

Something warm spreads inside Poe’s chest, and he barely manages to stop himself from tearing up, because how long has it been since he was at Yavin 4? How much more flying and fighting and forgetting before this war calms down, lay told?

“Finn,” Poe says, suddenly, softly, and Finn turns to look at him, his arm around Poe’s waist, slowly walking him forwards—and he makes the words die down, focuses his gaze on the floor instead. Counts out the steps he’s taking. Finn’s still watching him, so gentle Poe thinks that he might break from all this tenderness, from the careful slope of Finn’s arms.

“Thanks,” he bites out finally, because Finn’s still waiting for a response and Poe’s about to collapse but he gives him the tightest hug he could muster, just for the reciprocation. Even if only for a hug; Poe will take whatever he can get.

Somehow they manage to get into their room, and maybe Poe is hallucinating, but Finn picks him up and carries him, slowly maneuvering through the room, attempt to avoid jostling him. And Poe—Poe’s having a seriously hard time right now, because apparently Finn can move him around like he weighs nothing and he doesn’t know what to do with that information, he really doesn’t.

“How are you so strong,” Poe mutters as Finn tries to lay him down without making his very apparent headache worse, cupping his hand behind Poe’s head as he lowers him, because he’s an idiot.

“Who knows,” Finn says, and Poe is positive but there’s something else that comes after but Finn looks ethereal in the low light and right now he thinks his more advanced brain functions have already stopped working.

“You’re too good for me.”

“I’m really not,” Finn argues, but Poe waves him off and sticks out his tongue at him, a hand reaching up to caress Finn’s cheek. It’s hot under his fingers, and Finn may be blushing, but it’s too dim to see and Poe doesn’t care, not when Finn is looking at him like that. He thinks about flying and then this, even with all this limited physical contact. It’s chaste, but he likes it anyway, doesn’t need a share of Finn’s love. Just wants him to be close and safe and happy.

“You’re one of the best things that’s ever happened to me,” Poe tells him, serious, because he doesn’t know when he’ll grasp the courage to tell him that sober. Maybe he’s a coward for being this afraid but who wouldn’t? Who wouldn’t, faced with the knowledge that Finn might stop looking at you like this, his smile all teeth and lighting you up from the inside out?

///

It feels like the entirety of Jakku is in his mouth when Poe wakes, which is entirely expected, of course, even with the heat stroke his brain is apparently getting. There’s a glass of water beside his bed, and— Finn, apparently, leaning over with a frown etched on his face.

“Hey,” Poe says, rather coherently. “Good morning.”

“Good afternoon, actually,” Finn tells him, obviously struggling to hide his smile. “You slept through most of the day, already.”

“Kriffing…” Poe grumbles, but Finn pushes at his shoulder gently, and he lies back down. The fact that Finn had come looking after him feels distant, feels like something he’s conjured up under the influence and not something that actually happened, because Finn had carried him to bed and oh, he is so embarrassed right now, about-ready to read his will to BB-8.

“I feel like someone just resurrected me,” Poe says, and Finn chuckles slightly, leaning the back of his hand to Poe’s forehead.

“Looks like it, too,” Finn responds, and Poe doesn’t take offense to that, probably because he’s feeling rather fever-ish, with his body temperature running hot. Finn’s hand is cold to the touch, and doesn’t move when Poe grasps it for—support, he supposes.

“I think you’re sick,” Finn says, and Poe blinks up at him, groggy.

“Am I.”

“You’re running hot,” Finn says, his voice low, and it would most likely do unspeakable things to Poe if he’s not half-dead, which. He is. “Do you want me to bring you to the medbay?”

“Unnecessary,” Poe says, and buries his face into Finn’s palm further. “I’ll recover at some point.”

“Alright,” Finn says, and he looks like an angel like this, with the afternoon light slanting onto him, making him all kinds of beautiful, “you tell me if you need anything, understand?”

“Yes. Finn. Sir,” Poe mumbles, and Finn’s hand slides downwards to cup the side of his face, and he thinks he might have died from alcohol poisoning, or something. This isn’t a bad afterlife, he thinks, if Finn could stay looking at him like this, like maybe Poe is someone good.

Poe clears his throat. “I could have sworn you carried me to bed.”

“I did,” Finn says, his fingers retreating back to his side, and Poe’s missing this physical contact already, albeit its simplicity, its innocence.

“That’s very commendable,” Poe groans out. “I’m not light.”

“No you aren’t,” Finn agrees, with the shifting light, hitting his face in all the right angles. Poe wants to take a photograph of him, would have probably overcome everything he’s afraid of to do so, but he feels loose-limbed and Finn’s voice is the only thing preventing him from hurling himself out of bed to curl up in the closet.

“Go to sleep, Poe,” Finn says, and Poe acquiesces.

///

“I have something to ask you,” Finn says a few hours later, when Poe is propped up against the headboard, his body temperature cooling down somewhat, “but you can go on sleeping, if you want.”

“Go on sleeping,” Poe says, raising an eyebrow. “I’ve been awake for one whole hour. Don’t think I’m going to drop off any time soon.”

“Alright,” Finn says, and he hesitates a little, sending all kinds of fear up Poe’s spine, but he represses it, dares himself to look Finn in the eye, “why do people say that we’re together?”

“Um,” Poe says, ducking his head down a bit as the last night flashes through his brain in random streaks, “I think. I might have said something yesterday, when I was out drinking.” Telling the truth has never been scarier, he thinks, not when Finn’s looking at him like that, like he could do no wrong with the world and Poe knows that he’s going to disappoint him. “Someone may have asked me out, and. I didn’t really feel like shacking up with them, y’know?”

“Alright,” Finn says, his head tilted, considering, “I didn’t deny it.”

Which makes Poe’s head snap up a bit too quickly, and he thinks that what he’s experiencing right now may be what people call whiplash, but he’s not sure, he’s a pilot. But he’s drunk, so he thinks that this could be excusable, and asks, “why didn’t you?”

“I didn’t know what was going on,” Finn shrugs, and stands to sit down on the floor beside where Poe is lying, “and I didn’t want to mess things up.”

“Mess things up,” Poe mutters, with all the relief in the world crashing down on him at once, because Finn’s not trying to get as far from him as possible, “how would it? Buddy. Finn. You didn’t have to.”

“I don’t mind,” Finn says, raising an eyebrow at him. It’s incredibly jarring to be looking him in the eyes like this, with all of his personality flashing in them, with all of his warmth. It makes Poe feel ten different kinds of undeserved because Finn’s not angry even though he has every right to be, has every right to storm out of this room and not look after him for hours on end.

“I could. I could clear this up,” Poe tries, and feels his heart rate going faster, because he has no idea how to do that, without making himself look like an asshole. Which, admittedly, he is—but he has to own up to his lies, or something. Dishonesty bites you in the ass all too often, especially in the Resistance.

“You don’t have to,” Finn tells him, and Poe freezes.

“What do you mean,” Poe says, slowly, “we don’t have to?”

Finn grins at him, and Poe thinks that Finn might be some being conjured up by fate in order to taunt him, remind him that he could have the life he’d yearned for but there are still some things out of your hand. “We could pretend, right? Kind of awkward if you had to tell the lady that you’d lied to her—”

“—the guy,” Poe corrects in his haze of confusion, and he’s pretty sure he’s ogling, but Finn continues—

“and we’re good friends, aren’t we? Poe?”

“Yeah,” Poe replies eventually, still feeling like someone has slapped him in the face, “yeah, we are.”

///

What they don’t tell you about faking a relationship, Poe thinks, is the overwhelming guilt you have on making the other person do something he’s not completely comfortable with. That you could keep a lie up but none of it is still going to be real even when you try your best. There’s the guilt and then there is the gratitude, and Poe doesn’t know how any other emotion can fit in but there is something akin to disappointment. Because he’s staring at Finn and everybody is convinced.

They offer congratulations, tells them both that they’d saw it coming, that everyone was thinking it was a matter of time. They’re not thinking about the possibility of this being a hoax, conceived through the brashness of alcohol, of Finn being too kind and willing to take himself off the market because no one’s stupid in the Resistance, everyone knows of Finn and the kindness that he carries in his hands, his heart.

It’s slightly depressing to know that Finn’s doing this out of obligation. To just see what Finn would be like if he loved Poe back, if Finn had brought this up one day and kissed him in the hangar, if it was anything more than a saving grace.

It doesn’t feel too much like a reprieve for Poe, to keep on pretending like this. More like a punishment, he thinks.

///

Finn comes to him in the hangar even more often, if possible. Looks like Poe’s given him the world whenever they come to each other for a quick embrace, just for the show of it. They still talk like they do before, and everything feels more intimate and more distant at the same time: intimate, because Finn leans into him further when they talk, now, his face animated and his hands familiar to his own. Distant, because what is all of this, if not pretention?

///

They sleep in separate beds, because this is what good friends do for you: they hold your hand in public only to let go later; they make you feel like you’re flying with your two feet flush against the earth; they look at you like they love you when in reality they don’t.

///

So what if Poe loves him?

///

“We don’t have to keep this up for so long,” Poe says one day, when Finn’s adjusting his collar in the hangar for everyone to see, careful fingers pressing along the nape of his neck. “We could end this any time you want.”

“Mmm,” Finn says, and looks up to meet his gaze. “Do you want to?”

The truth is: he doesn’t. But it’s uncomfortable to know that Finn doesn’t want this and has to pretend that he does. There are better things to do than keep this up as a pretense—and the both of them knows it, even though Finn refuses to acknowledge this, turning away whenever Poe brings it up.

“I’m. I feel sorry, Finn,” Poe says, reaching up to hold Finn’s wrist, lifting his hand to press a kiss on his knuckles because this could be the last time he’ll get to do that, if Finn wants to stop. Nine days is long enough to convince they were together, he thinks, before they call it quits, say that they’re better off as friends anyway.

Finn looks down and bites his lip. It makes him look strangely vulnerable this way, which is something that Poe’s not too accustomed to. Finn might be made out of sunshine and sugar, but nothing about him is vulnerable, it’s almost always the opposite. There’s him grinning at you  “If this makes you uncomfortable—“

“—what? No, Finn, that’s not what I’m—“ Poe rushes out, slightly incredulous because Finn making him uncomfortable is the last thing that could possibly happen, in fact it’s probably the opposite; Finn grounds him like no other and it’s impossible that he likes it, likes the idea of being committed to one concept, to one person. But he didn’t think it was possible to survive being held captive in the First Order, either, and then Finn came along and here he is now, with his heart scraped something raw and Finn’s name etched into his ribs.

“Then,” Finn says, visibly swallowing as his gaze turns soft, “what are you saying?”

But Jessika pops up before Poe could get a word in, and he thinks he’s about to tear his hair out in frustration. There’s nothing like an interrupted moment, he thinks, especially when your fellow pilot is hell-bent on mixing everything up for you, and Jessika’s giving Finn a wink before Poe could protest about her dragging him away.

“Sorry about that, Finn,” she calls out, although nothing from her mouth sounds the least bit apologetic, “but piloting duties call! If you want to take his clothes off, you gotta do it in your room where none of us could see!”

“I’ll talk to you later!” Poe’s shouting through the distance, and Finn’s waving goodbye.

He thinks, rather pettily, that he’d get Jessika for this.

///

Poe doesn’t. Jessika teases him over the comms about how he should thank her for playing matchmaker; how she’s managed to speed things up for the both of them, and he stays quiet. Doesn’t mention how Finn’s doing all of this because he’s a good friend, or how much Poe aches whenever Finn looks at him a little longer in public, a little softer.

///

“Poe,” Finn says, right beside him once he steps out of his X-wing, “did you really mean it? About stopping?”

Poe inhales deeply. This is it. “Buddy, I’ve already overstayed my welcome, asking you to do this for me. I really don’t want to push it further, it’s selfish of me.”

Finn draws back, suddenly, looking like he’s just been burnt, all the happiness in his eyes flooding out of his face and Poe, Poe hates it, doesn’t know what he said that could make Finn look at him this way. “Are you… embarrassed to be seen with me? Or do you… like someone else?”

“What,” Poe says in response, because it’s all that his brain could come up with, and. Surely Finn must know? Must know that he’s ruined him for anyone else now, that it’s been a few months since Finn’s saved him already but he is still everything that he thinks about, capable hands pressing onto his face, or the jacket on his shoulders, or his eyes, warmer than any star—

Poe licks his lips, tries again. “Finn,” he says, placing a hand on his shoulder in an attempt to regain his attention, “what makes you think that?”

“I don’t know,” Finn says, his expression still hurt, the edges of his mouth downturned, “why else would you want to stop pretending?”

“Buddy,” Poe says, but quiets down a second later because he never thinks before he speaks. He knows that he doesn’t have the answer to this. Knows that there’s nothing that can come out of his mouth without the truth spilling out, spread bare. Poe owes Finn an explanation but there really is nothing, no excuse he has for himself other than I love you so much that I can’t breathe, sometimes, it’s like crashing down to Jakku one more time but worse—worse because I’m not good enough to let you go.

He doesn’t say anything when Finn shakes off the hand on his shoulder and leave.

///

“What happened,” Jessika’s asking later, because nothing ever escapes her watchful eye, jerking her head in the direction that Finn went off to. “You guys had a lover’s quarrel, or something?”

Poe sighs. “Or something, yeah,” he says, smiling somewhat dejectedly towards BB-8, who’s bumping against his legs, trying to make him feel better.

“We don’t live a stable life, Dameron,” Jessika says, leaning her arm against his shoulder, “make your time with him count.”

“What if—“ Poe stammers out, burying his face into his hands like he’s twelve again, “what if there’s no time left?”

“Depends,” she says, tilting her head, “if you’re talking about his time, or yours.”

///

Poe realizes, at last, that it’s really Finn’s time he’s wasting. Poe could very likely want Finn for whatever remaining time he has left, even though this could be the last day the both of them are on good terms—and Poe would still think that his time was well-spent.

He owes all of this time to Finn, anyway, to the moment when Finn decided that he’d had enough and was brave enough to leave, to the scars on his back. He’s got a thousand excuses as to why he wasn’t being righteous when he’d saved Poe’s life, but. How does one explain everything that he’s done after?

///

“The lot of you don’t really show affection in public, do you,” Iolo’s saying in the mess hall, where Finn’s forgiving enough to still eat dinner with him (or maybe he’s just doing this for everyone else), and this is why Poe’s so afraid. What does he do when all of Finn’s kindness translates over to resentment?

“Don’t we,” Finn says, calmly, like they weren’t fighting a few hours ago, a hand placed on Poe’s thigh, casual, with their legs brushing.

“Not really,” someone else pipes in, and Poe can feel the panic flickering in his chest, because everything is going to end in this moment and he knows it, is willing to accept that dishonesty could only last you for so long. “You two haven’t even kissed in front of us, yet. The rest of you is pretty disgusting, though, with all the staring and the smiling.”

Finn laughs, and it almost sounds genuine, probably does to everyone else at the table, “I didn’t know all of you were looking for it.”

“We’re not—“ someone’s saying, but Poe’s mind is blanking out because Finn has wrapped an arm around his waist and kissed him, briefly, so gentle that it hurts. It feels like an apology that Poe doesn’t want to accept, so he tugs him closer and deepens it. He’s going to make the only kiss they have worth it, Poe’s thinking, because there won’t be any more, Finn may just move out of the room and be mates with someone else and he doesn’t think he could bear it if he doesn’t give him his best when Finn’s the one that’s initiating.

There are whistles around the table but all Poe can think about is the wet heat of Finn’s mouth, his tongue grazing his teeth and how the rest of him fits underneath his palms. Finn’s not pulling away, and his mouth is slack against Poe’s own, searching, and Poe’s toes are curled inside his boots and it feels like the first time he was up in the air, with all that energy rushing in his veins and his thoughts so loud that it’s deafening.

“—forget what I said,” Iolo grumbles when they break apart, with the skin underneath Finn’s palms burning something fierce. This is it, Poe’s thinking, because Finn’s not even looking in his direction now, his gaze fixed solely on his food. This is where I lose him.

///

The walk back to their room is quiet. The tension is thicker than any cloud Poe’s flown through, and he’s gotten used to turbulence but this doesn’t feel quite the same, feels heavier, more dangerous.

He’s thinking of Jessika and her mouth opening to shape the word ‘careful’, about Finn’s hand tight around his own as they half-stroll to their destination. Poe’s had his fair share of crashing planes but he’s wagering that this would be more painful than staggering out of the jungle half-alive.

This is where it ends, he thinks again, and wills his heart to calm, not looking at Finn’s hand, warm around his as they walk the entire way back, wordless.

///

“I’m sorry,” Poe blurts out once their door is closed, his hold on Finn tightening despite him telling himself specifically not to, “I’m really sorry, Finn.”

“It’s fine,” Finn says, too kindly, “I just didn’t know what I did wrong.”

“Nothing’s wrong with you,” Poe says. “It’s me; I keep on taking advantage of you and it’s not right, I shouldn’t be doing this.”

“Doing—doing what, Poe? What is it that you’re doing, exactly?”

“I’m using you, Finn, that’s not okay, this is selfish of me,” Poe says.

“How are you—“ Finn bites his lips, inhaling deeply as he leans back against the wall, “I was the one that suggested it, Poe. You just went along with it.”

“Which is the problem.”

Finn shuts his eyes, and Poe’s heart aches, because he doesn’t seem to be getting it, doesn’t seem to understand the intentions behind everything Poe’s saying—

“It’s okay if you don’t like being seen with me,” Finn says, gently, the distance between them shortening, “I understand.”

“Understand? There’s nothing to understand, Finn, I’m not. I’m—why would I ever be embarrassed of you?”

Finn shrugs, the resignation on his face filtering through. “Who knows? The fact that I’m an ex-stormtrooper?”

“Finn,” Poe says, firmly, “that doesn’t matter. What you were before doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter to me and it shouldn’t matter to anyone else. What are you talking about?”

“I don’t know,” he says, looking away. “Isn’t that why you’re, uh. Fake breaking-up with me?”

Poe blinks at him, incredulous, until what Finn’s saying sinks in. “Did anyone say anything to you?”

“No,” Finn admits, “but it kind of feels like they’re thinking that.”

Poe’s eyebrows narrow. “If anyone says anything like that… don’t hold out. You hear me?”

“Okay,” Finn nods, his gaze travelling down to Poe’s mouth, then back up, almost—almost wistfully. “I get it. It’s alright if you want to, uh, break up with me. Just tell me what I should do, how we’re going to play it out.”

Poe presses his lips together. “Good,” he says, even though it’s anything but that, it’s the furthest thing from ‘good’. “We’ll. We’ll figure this out soon, buddy,” he says, pulling on the most genuine smile he can muster, which feels like a painful grimace. His chest is so tight that he almost chokes from it, feels the sadness spreading out from bone to bone.

Even his body knows that it’s over, now, that Poe’s back to observing him and going without, that this could very well mark the end of a friendship as it is. But he’s going to salvage this as best as he can, because they could still be friends and it’s really better than nothing, even if this friendship is superficial—Poe will hold onto it anyway.

“This is as good a time to tell you,” Finn says, breaking the silence that’s settled over the two of them, “that. I was flattered. It was nice, knowing that people actually believed I was your boyfriend.”

“What—“ Poe frowns, disbelieving, because why wouldn’t anyone? “Why?”

“It’s just. You’re you? And,” Finn sighs, running a hand through his hair. “It doesn’t seem plausible, the idea of you and me.”

“Finn,” Poe says, voice breaking and stepping closer by a fraction, “there’s no reason for that. There really isn’t, because—“

A single snort escapes Finn’s mouth. “—because? I mean, it’s just not something that happens, Poe, not with you and me—“

“And why?!” Poe interrupts, and he knows he’s overstepping the boundaries here but he really doesn’t care, not when Finn thinks about himself this way, that’s just not right— “why? Finn. Finn, you don’t get it, anyone would consider themselves lucky to have you, not to say me, in the least, don’t you understand?”

“No,” Finn says slowly, like Poe’s a five year old who doesn’t know any better. “I don’t think you do.”

“What,” Poe snaps, even though he knows he’s not supposed to, “what don’t I understand? That you’re beautiful? That you’ve saved so many kriffing people’s lives and refuse to take credit for it? That you managed to break out of years of conditioning because you’re apparently just saving your own skin despite knowing that staying would have been more lucrative, anyway? What don’t I understand, Finn?”

Who’s. Who’s looking at Poe with his mouth pursed, disbelieving, until something seems to clear up in his head and shake him from within. “Oh,” Finn says, finally, smiling at Poe like he’s said something funny, and Poe almost groans because Finn just doesn’t get it.

“Finn. Buddy. I’m not saying this to humour you, I’m really not,” he says, trying the sternest expression he could pull off because Finn’s looking at him like he’s… giddy?

“It’s just. You really undercut yourself, you know? And. And I hate that,” Poe tries again, rubbing the heel of his palm against his forehead. “You’re much better than you claim to be, and it’s just. It’s just frustrating for you not to realize that I’m not sugarcoating anything that you’ve done.”

“Alright,” Finn says, who picks the strangest times to have a shit-eating grin on his face, and Poe thinks that it’s adorable but this is really not the time, “are you in love with me?”

“No,” Poe says, carefully, just lies out of his fucking mouth because he’s trying to salvage the last of his dignity even though everyone could see that he is, “I’m not. I’m… not. In love with you, that is, I’m not.”

But Finn’s face falls, and it looks like Poe’s just told him that half the people on base died, or something, he looks so dejected that Poe’s breath hitches at the possibility, trying not to think too much about it, because. What if he doesn’t?

“Okay,” Finn nods his head, evidently trying to be too-cheerful, “that’s alright, I get it,” and Poe thinks he might be going crazy, if he isn’t already.

“No,” Poe almost-squawks, “I just lied. Finn. Buddy. I lied, I’m lying, I’m so in love with you it’s not funny.”

Finn’s looking at him like he’s just grown a fifth head. “It’s okay, Poe, you don’t have to consider my feelings, I can take it.”

“I’m not.” Poe closes his eyes, willing himself to at least attempt breathing. “I’m. I really kriffing like you. I just said that because I thought you didn’t like me, and I didn’t want to make things awkward, and I’m sorry, look, Finn, I really like you, please believe me, I like you so much it’s not even funny, look, I actually love you and everything, it’s been a mess trying to sort out all these feelings in my head—why are you smiling?”

“Am I,” Finn says, his shit-eating grin growing even wider. “You couldn’t have said all this before?”

“Um,” Poe says coherently, and waits for the laughter that he’s certain will follow, clear as bells, and sure enough, it does. He feels like the biggest idiot in the world now but it’s okay, because he thinks Finn loves him back and it’s enough, everything is enough and he. He really doesn’t deserve any of this, he knows.

Finn’s grin is growing gentle now—and Poe decides that there’s nothing in the world that compares to his face softening, that he wants to take Finn to the corners of the galaxy someday, wants to show him everything.

Finn says, “I love you too, you know,” and leans his forehead onto Poe’s.

“Oh, thank the stars,” Poe says, and bursts out laughing in something akin to relief, to exhaustion. He’s lucky that he only has to go through this once, Poe’s thinking, with his hands clutching onto Finn and Finn’s hands latched onto his waist.

They meet in the middle. The world blanks out with Finn drawing him in, and Poe’s wondering if making Finn happy would always feel like this, like he’s flying with both his feet resting firmly against the ground.