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Poe Dameron wasn’t lonely.

 

Why would he be? He had a solid job, great friends, and even a cute little corgi to cuddle up to on cold nights.

 Besides, New York is a big city. Who could be lonely in a city of 8 million people?

 The point is: he wasn’t lonely. But there were people who seemed to think otherwise.

 So what if Poe hadn’t had a serious relationship in years? That didn’t mean he was unhappy. A little sexually frustrated, maybe, but he was content. Truly.

 And if sometimes he looked at the couples passing by with a pang in his chest and longing in his eyes, then that was his business.

 

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 Poe’s alarm went off at 5:00, just as it did every day. The routine was the same: get up, shower, make coffee, walk BB, then open the bakery below his apartment.

 He unlocked the padlock, walked into the familiar parlor, and headed to the back to get started on the day’s bakes.

The bakery was small, but cozy, with mismatched tables and armchairs spread sporadically throughout the front parlor. There was a small bookshelf in the corner, filled with some of Poe’s old favorites, in case anyone came in just to relax and get away. At the counter, there was an old register, some stools, and a large display case under a chalkboard, on which Poe wrote the menu for the day.

 He’d inherited the bakery from his father, who’d named it Bey’s Bakes, after Poe’s late mother. Kes Dameron had bought the building when Poe was 9, just after his mother had died. His mother had always loved his father’s baking and her smile when she came home to the sight of her son and husband covered in flour, holding her favorite pie, was something Poe would never forget.  

 When Poe had been honorably discharged from the Air Force seven years ago, he hadn’t known what to do with himself. He’d been drifting, trying to find a purpose after leaving the military, struggling to cope with the after effects of fighting in a harsh and brutal war. When his father had gotten sick, Poe took it upon himself to run the bakery in his stead, until Pa was strong enough to get back on his feet. But Pa hadn’t recovered, and soon enough Poe found himself with newfound responsibilities, determined to make his father proud, and keep his business thriving.

 There was nothing that Poe loved more than flying. Nothing. But here, in the small backroom of his little bakery, he felt safe. He felt at home.

 Poe finished his first batch of pies and put them into the ovens. He strode to the storefront and climbed up on his stool to write the menu for the day. Very carefully, with purpose, he wrote: Shara’s Homemade Peach Cobbler.

Poe smiled. Happy birthday, Ma.

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Normally, Poe enjoyed having the first shift of the day. For the first couple hours, he only had a dozen or so customers, usually suits who got up as the ass-crack of dawn to go to a corporate job they hated. He’d only found out a few months ago that most of his early morning customers worked at First Order, a law firm a few blocks away. From what he could gather, the boss was a nightmare, the hours were absurd, and vacation days were few and far between. Every couple of weeks, someone would come in around 6 o’clock, looking dejected and disheveled, with a cardboard box filled with office supplies. Poe made sure to take the time to personally bring them some hot chocolate and a cupcake, on the house. Getting fired sucked.

On this particular morning, Poe was anticipating a bit more business than usual. It was the first day of classes for NYU, and Poe was preparing for an influx of eager students. It was because of the fairly steady stream of students that came through during the fall and spring months that Poe had decided to invest in an espresso machine and some extra tables. Once he’d added the extra sitting areas, Bey’s Bakes quickly became a favorite hangout for the undergrads. With his bakery so close to the campus, Poe usually found himself swamped with returning students anxious to revisit their favorite cakes and pies in the first few weeks of September.

Instead of the usual handful of lawyers he was used to, on this day he found himself surrounded by bleary-eyed students, bemoaning their decisions to take 8 am classes. Poe was just at his wits end when Jessika walked in, 15 minutes late and panting.

 “Jess! Thank god. Come handle the coffee orders while I take care of the bakes.”

 He and Jessika had served together overseas before Poe’d been discharged, and she’d been his closest friend for years. When she eventually left the Air Force, it had seemed only natural for Poe to offer her a job. She’d become such an intrinsic part of the shop; he couldn’t fathom how he’d survived without her.

 Together, they managed the morning rush, and eventually the shop was quiet enough for them to grab a stool each and have some coffee.

 A young woman with dark hair walked in, and Poe lit up.

 "Rey!” he yelled, jumping over the counter to wrap the girl in a hug, “How the hell are ya?”

 He pulled the smiling girl over to the counter, and listened raptly as she told he and Jess about her summer adventures over coffee. Rey was a senior this year, a thought that made Poe’s heart clench. He adored the girl, had ever since she came in two years ago holding his lost dog in her arms.He looked over to see Jess staring at Rey, enraptured. He rolled his eyes. He’d been patiently waiting for Jess to ask Rey out for years now, and he suspected the other girl was in much the same position.

 “-and then, Han offered me a job! Right on the spot! Can you believe that?”

 Jess squealed in excitement, and Poe realized he’d missed a key part of this conversation during his musings.

 “Wait, what?”

 Jess slapped him in the arm. “Solo offered Rey a job at his shop. She’s gonna start with him as soon as she graduates.”

 Poe froze. Han Solo’s repair shop was the best in the city, easily. Rey had really done well for herself. Moreover, Millennium Falcon Repairs was no more than 6 blocks away. Rey was going to stay in New York, instead of moving back to England after graduation.

 Poe let out a whoop as he grabbed Rey into a hug. He’d had more than his fill of people leaving him, and he was infinitely glad that he wouldn’t have to add Rey to that list.

 Rey giggled as the older pair held on to her tightly.

 “All right, all right, that’s enough. I have to head over to class – I just wanted to stop by and tell you about the job.”

 They said their goodbyes, and soon enough it was just the two of them in the shop. Jess was still glowing from the news Rey had told them, and Poe didn’t have it in him to tease her, not when he was in the same boat.

 She glanced over at the menu, getting up to head to the back and start making some cupcakes before the afternoon rush. Poe noticed her pause upon seeing the peach cobbler, and steeled himself for a question about how he was feeling, or if he needed the day off. Instead, Jess simply gave his shoulder a squeeze, shot him a quick smile, and left him to mind the storefront. Sometimes he loved her so much it hurt.

 

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 Around 6 o’clock, the door chimed, and Poe looked up to see a young man carrying a cardboard box, obviously having just lost his job. Poe went to make some hot chocolate and prep the “Post Firing Pity Cake”, as Jess had begun to call it. But he paused as he looked at the man. He didn’t seem all that upset, for someone who’d just been fired.

 Actually, the more Poe looked at him the more he forgot about a pity cake all together. He was stunning, with dark, smooth skin and a strong jawline. Poe couldn’t help but notice his full lips and wide, dark eyes. The man was slim, but nicely built and good lord that ass -

 The man set his stuff down and then walked up to the counter cheerfully. Before Poe could stop himself, he blurted out: “Why aren’t you crying?”

 The man paused, confused. “Pardon?”

 Poe felt his face get hot and looked down at his hands. “Sorry, it’s just that most people who come in here after being fired by First Order are a little distraught. Not that I’m assuming you did get fired! That is, I’m sure you were a good employee, so why would they fire you? I shouldn’t make assumptions –“ Poe stopped his rambling when he heard gentle laughter from the man in front of him. He looked up to see the man smiling warmly at him. Which. Wow. That smile could power a sun, Poe was sure.

 “I quit, actually.”

 Poe gaped at the stranger. You didn’t quit at First Order. Sure, it was a hellhole, but it was a six-figure job. Poe couldn’t even fathom the amount of money this guy had just passed on.

 “Besides, I was only an intern, anyway.”

 “Oh, so you’re a student?” Poe felt like there was something he needed to be doing, but he couldn’t remember what.

 “Yeah. It’s my last year of law school. Criminal law.”

 Something must have shown on Poe’s face, because the man started laughing.

 “That’s the usual reaction I get when I tell people that. Honestly, I was having doubts when I went to First Order with my buddies. We were all so excited about working at this well-known, fancy firm, but it was so soulless, you know? You have to protect these massive corporations from lawsuits from sick workers, environmental agencies…it was horrible, to have to defend people like that. I mean, I know criminal law is where you go if you want to get rich quick, but I want to help people; make a difference. I’m not in it for the money.”

 Poe stared in awe at the spark in the man’s eyes as he spoke, the conviction and determination on his (truly gorgeous) face. He was incredible.

 The man flushed, embarrassed by Poe’s staring. He’d obviously taken Poe’s silence as discomfort. “Sorry, I don’t know why I told you that. I swear I don’t usually over share like this.”

 Poe laughed. “That’s alright, buddy. We’ve all been there. I’ve been told I have a ‘comforting presence’: Maybe that’s it?”

The man smiled, relieved. “That must be it, then." He paused for a minute, looking around. "So… should I order now?”

 Poe could have smacked himself. He’d been so distracted by this handsome, earnest stranger that he’d completely forgotten he was meant to be serving him. At least Jess was cleaning up in the back. God, he’d have never heard the end of it if she’d seen him mooning over some guy.

 “Yes, of course. Sorry,” Poe managed to respond through his cringing, but it had been a close thing.

 The man looked at the menu, and then lit up suddenly.

 “Peach cobbler? That’s my absolute favorite. I’ll have two slices to go, please.”

 Poe stared. A handsome lawyer, who shared his mother’s love of peach cobbler? Somewhere, someone was laughing at him.

 “Well, they’re on the house. It’s not every day a man frees himself from corporate greed,” Poe said with a smile. The man paused, then his face broke out into a wide grin.

 “Hey, thanks man!” The handsome man took his pie, and his box, and headed to the door, as Poe stared unabashedly at his ass. Just as the man was walking through the door, he paused and turned around.

 “My name’s Finn, by the way. I’m sure I’ll see you around.”

 Poe startled. “I’m Poe.”

 The man – Finn – gave him a dazzling smile, before walking out, leaving Poe alone in the shop.

 Poe stared at the door for a long while, then let out a deep sigh.

 “Well, I’m fucked.”

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The next morning, Poe went through the morning bakes bleary-eyed and yawning. He’d been kept up by nightmares, yet again. It was hardly a new development, as Poe’d been dealing with night terrors ever since he’d been discharged. Even BB was used to them by now.

He was lucky, really, that he could make nearly all his desserts and pastries on autopilot, without really putting much thought into it. Otherwise, he would have had a disaster on hand.

 He went to grab some fruit for his first batch of pies, and paused when he noticed the box of peaches. Might as well, he thought. Wouldn’t want those peaches to go to waste. And if he thought of Finn’s 100-watt smile while he was rolling out the dough, well then that was his business.

 Somehow, he made it through the morning without falling asleep. When Jess came in at 7:30, she took one look at him and pushed him to the back room for a much needed nap. Yet another reason why he loved Jess: she understood, perhaps better than anybody in his life, what it is to be haunted.

 He woke up briefly as Jess draped a blanket over him, murmuring his thanks while she looked at him sympathetically. She gave him a gentle kiss on the forehead before heading back to the counter. Poe had done the same for her many times, when her own war memories had kept her up at night.

 What must have been several hours later, he heard the familiar padding of paws on tile, and felt a small pressure at his side. Jess must have gotten BB, and sent him to Poe to wake him. Sure enough, he felt BB licking at his face, and he groaned as the dog jumped on his stomach.

 Rubbing his eyes, he walked back into the storefront, only to be confronted with the sight of both Rey and Finn sitting at his counter, chatting with Jessika.

 “Poe! Come meet my roommate!” Rey yelled.

 Poe froze. This might be a problem.

 

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Apparently it had gone something like this:

Finn had been walking home from his internship one night, and seen what looked like Rey getting mugged. He’d gone over to help, only to see Rey kick the guy’s ass without any assistance needed. They’d gone for coffee, where, after an awkward attempt at flirting (“He tried to hit on me, Jess. Me!”), they’d both admitted to their need for a roommate. It was just like Rey, to meet someone, decide she liked them, and commit to them without thought. Her instincts were always solid, though, so he suspected she saw in Finn what Poe himself had seen.

This undoubtedly meant that he would be seeing Finn at least as much as Rey. Poe could handle that. Probably.

Finn grinned hugely when Poe came over, waving excitedly. Poe couldn’t help but give him a shy smile back. Honestly, having that smile directed at him was enough to make Poe’s knees weak.

“I see you’ve put my favorite on the menu again. Must be my lucky day, huh?” Finn said, delighted. When Jess shot him a confused look, he continued. “I was here last night. Poe listened to my woes and gave me some peach cobbler. He was very nice about it. Didn’t even make me pay.”

Poe felt his ears go pink and risked a glance at Jess, groaning internally as he saw her expression. There’d be questions later, he was sure.

The conversation moved on quickly from then on, Rey, Finn, and Jess debating the merits of pie vs. cobbler, while Poe tended the register and dealt with customers. He wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, honestly, but when Finn managed to work in a truly terrible baking pun, he snorted so loudly that he startled BB from where she’d been sitting next to him. Finn looked over, obviously pleased with himself at having made the baker laugh. Poe felt his face flush, again. It was like he was a little schoolgirl with a crush on the new kid.

Rey and Finn left soon after that, heading to work and class, respectively. The door had barely swung shut before Jess was dragging Poe into the back room. He braced himself, anticipating a slew of questions and demands when -

“You baked him a pie?”

 Poe blinked. This was not what he’d anticipated. “Wha – no?”

 Jess was unimpressed. “Your mom’s pie. You only make it on special occasions. As far as I know, there’s nothing especially significant that happened today.”

 “The peaches were gonna go bad! What was I supposed to do?”

 “Give them to the soup kitchen like you always do?”

 “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize making a pie in a bakery merited an interrogation from the Spanish Inquisition,” he retorted defensively. Jess’s expression softened at his discomfort.

 “Hey,” she said gently. “I’m not trying to be a bother. It’s just – I can’t remember the last time you were even interested in a guy, let alone baked for him.”

 Poe sighed, all the fight gone out of him. “I’m not. Interested, that is.” At Jess’s raised brow, he corrected himself. “Even if I was, which I’m not saying I am, what would I do about it? ‘Hey Finn, I think you’re real swell. Wanna go out sometime? I can tell you all about my P.T.S.D. Oh, you wanna know about my last boyfriend? Well, let me tell you – ‘”

 “Alright, I get it,” Jessika cut him off, “you have baggage. So do I. So does Rey. You think Finn doesn’t have his own shit he’s working through?”

 Poe sighed and glanced away. “It’s not that simple, Jess.”

 “It really is.”

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Around 6:00, Finn came in again, this time without Rey. Poe was relieved to that he’d come in after he’d sent Jess home for the day. He could do without an audience for this.

 “Hey Poe! I’ll have some coffee, please, and a slice of that cobbler. I’ll even pay this time!”

 Poe chuckled and handed over the dessert while he went to make the coffee. When he turned around, he was surprised to see that Finn had set his textbooks on the counter and was waiting expectantly.

 “So the food’s not to go tonight?”

 Finn grinned. “Nah. I thought it might be good to get out of the apartment for a while. Besides, Rey and Jess are hanging out, and who knows what they might get up to.” He winked at Poe, and the baker laughed, his ears going pink.

 “Well then, you’re in luck. It’s Friday, and Friday means date night.”

 Poe loved weekends at the bakery. Bey’s Bakes was a popular date spot, especially for first dates. Those were Poe’s favorite. They were always adorably awkward, painfully sweet, or horrifically bad. He secretly loved the bad ones most. Poe always made sure to write down the names of the couple after they ordered their coffees, in case he needed to stage an emergency on someone’s behalf.

 When Finn gave him a puzzled look, explained the perks of weekends at the bakery. Finn was delighted, and soon enough a young couple came in and ordered some coffee, sitting down at one of the cozier tables.

 Poe wrote down the names, just in case of a disaster: Hux and Sara.

 Finn gestured for Poe to lean forward. Poe was so distracted by the man’s mouth being so close to him that he almost missed what Finn said next: “That’s my old boss, Hux. He’s a nightmare.”

 He and Finn watched with a sick pleasure as the guy droned on about his many accomplishments while the poor girl sat and listened, clearly bored. Soon enough, they’d moved on to politics, and the red-haired man began to speak about the evils of immigrants, about their stealing jobs and constant breaking of the law.

 Poe leaned over the counter and whispered conspiratorially, “Little does he know that a child of those loathsome immigrants made the very scone he’s eating.”

 Finn choked on his coffee, having taken a sip at just the wrong moment. He continued to laugh even as he coughed. They looked over to see the girl glance surreptitiously at the door, which simply set them off again.

 Poe paused. “Did he just quote Mein Kampf?”

 “I think he might have.” Finn looked about as disturbed as Poe felt.

 “That’s it, abort mission.” Poe grabbed the corded phone from the wall (the official bakery phone) and pretended to receive a call. “Is there a Sara here? Sara? You’ve got a phone call.” The girl looked over, puzzled. Poe gave her a wink, and he saw understanding dawn on her face. She got up and practically sprinted to the counter.

 “Thank you so much,” she whispered, before having a very distressed, very convincing pretend phone call. She gave the man some excuse about a sick grandmother before bolting from the building.

 Poe and Finn somehow managed to keep straight faces until the disgruntled asshole left, then dissolved into giggles.

 Once their laughter died down, Finn spoke, wiping tears from his eyes. “I needed that.”

 “How did he not recognize you?”

 “There were a lot of interns. Eventually they just numbered us. I was 2187. I don’t think anyone there even bothered to learn my name, let alone get to know me.”

 Poe reached out and grabbed the young man’s hand without thinking. “Well then, that’s their loss.”

 Finn smiled at Poe, only the baker hadn’t seen this one yet. It was softer, more intimate. He put his other hand over the baker’s. “Thanks, Poe.”

 

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 Poe headed up to his apartment that night, smiling widely. BB was practically vibrating with joy upon seeing him, and the man happily scooped his little buddy into his arms as he walked into the flat. He’d called her BB8, after the very first plane he’d ever flown, but eventually he’d just left it at BB, to avoid odd stares in the park.

 Normally, when Poe came home, he would cuddle with BB while reading for an hour or so before making the two of them a late dinner. Tonight, however, he found himself cutting his reading time short, too keyed up. Poe couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt such a draw to someone, such an instant connection. He whistled while he cooked dinner, chatting away happily with BB.

 “-and then he held my hand! I mean, I held his first, and he was probably just returning the gesture, but still. What do you think, BB, you think he likes me?”

 The corgi barked in agreement. Well, Poe liked to think it was agreement. She probably just smelled the chicken Poe was making.

 “Maybe Jess is right. What’s the worst that could happen if I did ask him out?”

 Poe checked his watch and sighed. 11:00. He was opening tomorrow, and already not looking forward to getting up in the morning. He ate quickly, then climbed into bed, letting BB settle in next to him. He fell briskly into a deep sleep.

 

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Hands touching him, jostling him, beating him– feet kicking him – water, again and again water – he can’t breathe, he’s going to drown, he’s going to drown – something’s pulling at his nails – pain, pain, pain – someone’s screaming, some one nearby – Ben, not Ben please no–

 

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Poe woke with a strangled shout, drenched in sweat. He took a few minutes to simply breathe and calm his frantic heart, petting a startled BB. He checked the time: 1:24 am.

 With a sigh, Poe flopped back onto his back, staring at his ceiling. He glanced over at his bedside table, at the framed photo under his lamp.

 It was an old picture, frayed from the years it had spent in his wallet. It was of Poe’s old team, from his Air Force days. There was Jess, Iolo, Kare, Snap, and, with his arm around Poe, Ben. He thought of Finn, of blinding smiles and bright eyes and a good, pure heart. He allowed himself one brief moment to imagine himself with the man, to imagine what could be. Then, he let that moment go. Bright, young, future-lawyers don’t deserve to be weighed down by broken ex-pilots with issues a mile long.

 And that was all right.

 Because Poe wasn’t lonely.

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The next morning, Poe could barely keep his eyes open. He went for some of his simpler recipes, as he was genuinely concerned that he would ruin his bakes. His nightmares had kept him up, and, having had similar issues the night before, he was exhausted.

 It was a Saturday, and weekends were always busy days. Normally, he loved the weekends, especially the mornings, because families would come in. School was out for the weekends, so mothers would bring in their children, harried looking babysitters would drag in little toddlers, and, Poe’s favorite, grandparents would have a sit down with their grandchildren, looking absolutely delighted the whole time. He always made sure BB was down in the shop with him on those days, as she adored the kids.

 On this morning, however, it took all Poe’s willpower to keep a smile on his face, let alone humor the excited children. It didn’t help that Jess was late. He never cared much when she was late, but on weekends, when they were always busy, he expected to see her on time. And she was, normally. However, as the morning dragged on, he grew more and more concerned. Jess was well over an hour late.

 Just as he went to grab his phone and give her a call, Jess came bursting in, yelling her apologies as she went to grab an apron. Poe was about to scold her, maybe even yell, when he noticed a hickey on her neck.

 “Jess, is that –“

 “Not a word, Dameron.” Jess cut him off, blushing furiously.

 Poe grinned, his frustration with his friend all but forgotten.

 “I wouldn’t have thought Rey would be the type to mark her territory,” he teased. That earned him a whack with a dishtowel, but it was worth the grin that spread over Jess’s face as she turned to take the next order. It made sense, he realized, that Jess had made her move now, as Rey was staying in the city after graduation. She wouldn’t have to say goodbye.

 He was distracted from his thinking when Jess grabbed him by the shoulders suddenly. He looked at her, confused, as she examined his face. Her expression softened.

 “Two nights in a row?” She whispered, pulling him away from the counter.

 Poe sighed, resigned. “Some weeks are worse than others. You know how it goes.”

 Jess smiled sympathetically, before her expression hardened. “That’s it, you go upstairs.”

 “What? Jess, Saturdays are a nightmare to work alone,” Poe protested.

 Jess ignored his protests, and soon he found himself in his bedroom. He was asleep before his head hit the pillow.

 

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He woke to the smell of coffee and bacon wafting through his apartment. He got up, looking for the source, only to find Finn standing in the foyer, looking rather uncomfortable. When he saw Poe, he startled.

 “I wouldn’t have let myself in, but Jess said she needed to stay downstairs and send me up to get you. I promise, I don’t normally walk into people’s apartments without permission-“

 Poe waved off his excuses, unperturbed. “Jess lets herself in all the time. What’s one more person?”

 Finn smiled and handed Poe the coffee, along with what looked like a breakfast sandwich. Poe paused. “We don’t sell these.”

 Finn flushed. “Yeah, well, Jess mentioned that you had a bad night, and that you probably hadn’t eaten. So I went out and got you something a little more substantial than a muffin.”

 Poe smiled gratefully, gesturing for Finn to take a seat with him at the table. They chatted amiably for some time before the conversation petered off into comfortable silence.

 Finn was looking at Poe thoughtfully.

 “Something wrong, buddy?”

 Finn jumped, embarrassed at having been caught staring. “Nothing, I was just – nothing.”

 Poe smiled. “It’s okay. What is it?”

 Finn frowned, before looking down. “Jess said you had a bad night. Does that happen a lot?”

 Poe looked at Finn carefully, weighing his options. The younger man seemed to be asking out of concern rather than curiosity. He wasn’t trying to pry, but rather, offer support. But he barely knew Finn, and he wasn’t about to unload all his baggage on the man all at once.

 “Not as much anymore,” Poe settled on.

 Finn nodded, accepting the answer. He reached over the table and clasped Poe’s hand.

 “Jess really loves you, you know. She just wants to help you. It’s not any of my business, really – hell, I don’t even know you – but I think you can rely on her to take care of you. If you let her.” At that, he got up, smiling. “I’ll see you downstairs?”

 Poe nodded absently, thunderstruck. Finn left Poe to his thoughts, closing the door behind him. How had this man, who he’d known for less than a week, seen through him so easily? He was right, of course. Poe knew that he didn’t have to suffer through his issues alone, that Jess would always be there for him, but he never wanted to be a burden.

 He was pulled out of his reverie by the sound of joyful barking from downstairs, followed by peals of laughter. He smiled, heading down to the shop. When he walked in, he was greeted with the sight of three small children chasing BB around the shop. When the dog saw him, she sprinted over, leaping into his arms when he crouched down. Poe let her lick his face and slobber all over him and made a disgusted face, hoping to get a laugh out of the kids. When he heard their giggles, he grinned. He looked down. The oldest couldn’t have been more than five. He beckoned them over, putting BB down.

 “You guys wanna know a special secret about BB?” At their eager nods, he continued. “She loves belly rubs. If you rub her belly, she’ll love you forever.”

 The kids immediately crouched over the dog, petting her and showering her with affection. Poe stood up, satisfied that a. BB was being taken care of, and b. his shop wasn’t going to be destroyed by overexcited children crashing into things.

 He looked over at the counter to see Finn looking at him, that same soft smile from before on his face.

 “You’re good with them,” the young man observed.

 “I don’t know about that. I love the little guys, and I think they realize that I’m actually just a big kid myself.”

 Finn laughed, then turned back to the textbooks he’d laid out on the counter in front of him. Poe went behind the counter, putting on an apron. He’d come down just in time for the afternoon rush, and Jess looked like she could use a break. He pushed her toward where Rey was sitting with a grin, and went to work taking orders.

 When there was a lull in the stream of customers, he headed to the back to check up on the bakes Jess had put in. When he came out, a new batch of cupcakes in hand, he saw Finn kneeling on the ground with a little girl, who was crying. The young man gestured for Poe to bring over one of the cupcakes.

 Poe handed it over and then went back to the counter, not wanting to crowd the girl. He watched from behind the register, until a customer came up and distracted him.

When he’d sorted out the order, he looked over to see Finn with trying to lick icing off his nose, much to the delight of the little girl. If Poe had thought he was in trouble before, it was nothing compared to now. He was good with kids, too? Poe was a goner.

 

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 The next few months went by quickly. It became a routine: Finn and Rey stopped by in the mornings before class on weekdays; Rey would pick up Jess around 6:00; and Finn would come in on Friday nights, after his evening lecture. Then on the weekends Finn and Rey would sit at the counter and study while Poe and Jess handled the masses. Poe’s favorite day was Friday. If he’d thought Fridays were fun before, it was nothing compared to those evenings when Finn was around. Watching the dates unfold was so much more enjoyable with Finn’s witty commentary, and his gentle laughter. They’d been keeping score: so far, there’d been 12 disasters, 10 awkward encounters, and 5 adorable couples.

 And every Friday, without fail, Shara’s Homemade Peach Cobbler made its way onto the menu. At this point, Poe would be kidding himself if he said it wasn’t because he loved the way Finn’s face lit up when he ate it.

 He was falling fast, and he knew it. Finn was incredible. He was so determined, so earnest, so genuinely good, and it made Poe’s heart ache to know that he would never deserve him. He might end up pining for Finn for the rest of his life, but it was better than forcing the man to put up with his wealth of issues. It was better than having Finn, only to lose him when he realized that being with Poe was more effort than he was worth. Besides, Finn hadn’t shown any interest in Poe anyway.

 Despite Poe’s determination to be a friend and nothing more to Finn, every time a patron flirted with the man at the counter, Poe felt himself grow bitter. It wasn’t Finn’s fault that he was irresistible; that one smile from him could make anyone weak at the knees. Still, he was glad that the younger man had thus far not taken anyone up on their offers.

 And if sometimes, Poe looked at Finn and imagined himself reaching over and simply holding his hand, then that was between him and his pies.

 Besides, Poe wasn’t lonely. Not really.

 

------------------------------

 

December rolled around, and Poe was not looking forward to it. Running a bakery had its drawbacks, especially around the holidays. He’d already had six orders for his holiday eggnog cake for Christmas Day, and a whopping 15 for his gingersnap cake. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had so many pie orders, either.

 The Sunday before Christmas, Poe was so swamped by orders that he’d had to close the shop and simply spend the day baking. Sundays were Jess’s day off anyway, but this particular weekend she had decided to go away with Rey, to go skiing in Vermont. So, Poe couldn’t even call her to come put in some over time.

 Poe loved baking, he really did, but he was not about to relish in making dozens of pies and cakes all on his own.

 He sighed as he made his way down to the bakery at 8 o’clock, BB at his heels. He’d just finished mixing the batter for his first batch of cakes when he heard a banging coming from the storefront. He walked out to see a grinning Finn waving from outside the door. Poe grinned, always delighted to see the man, before practically running to let him in.

 “Finn! Buddy! What are you doing here? We’re closed today.”

 “Jess mentioned that you’d be swamped today, baking all by yourself. So, I thought I might offer a hand? I’m no baker, but I’d be happy to mix, measure, maybe stir… something?”

 Poe laughed. “You have no idea what you’re talking about, do you?”

“Not a clue.”

 Poe laughed and gestured for Finn to come through to the back. The younger man paused as he took in the mountains of flour and eggs and tins that were on every surface. “I think I might be in over my head,” he muttered.

 Poe laughed. “Don’t be nervous. It’s pretty straightforward. If I could handle it at six, you can handle it at twenty-five.”

 Finn stared. “You’ve been baking since you were six? I’ve never even touched a cake mix, and you’re like a baking prodigy.” At this, Poe laughed even harder.

 “I’m hardly a prodigy,” he chuckled, “I used to bake with my dad. Most of these recipes are ones we came up with together. This place used to be his, you know. I inherited it. I never saw myself as a baker, but I couldn’t bear to part with it...after.” Poe smiled wistfully. Thinking about his dad always made him a little melancholy, especially around the holidays.

 “I grew up in a foster home,” Finn shared, ignoring Poe’s surprised look. “It wasn’t all bad, really. I don’t remember my parents; I was so young when I was put in the system. I was moved around a lot, and most of the time the foster parents couldn’t really spare the time to pay much attention to every kid. It wasn’t their fault, though. Most of them worked, and had several foster kids as well. I’m sure it was a lot to handle. Besides, some kids had it a lot worse,” Finn cleared his throat, and smiled at Poe. “Anyway, that’s why I haven’t really baked. It never seemed all that important, you know? If we had birthdays or anything, it was easier to just buy cakes or pies.”

 Poe was silent for a time, letting Finn collect his thoughts.

 “I’m not trying to make you feel bad for me or anything. What I’m trying to say is, that, I think it’s wonderful, that you have this precious memory of your dad, and you share it with everyone. It’s like we all get to know him, in a way. I’m sure you miss him, but I think he’d be happy that you’re still baking, for him.”

 Poe stared at Finn, before wrapping him in a tight hug. “Thank you,” he whispered, his throat tight. If Finn noticed that Poe’s eyes were a little wet when he pulled back, then he didn’t say.

 Poe cleared his throat. “Alright. Baking time?”

 

--------------------------

 

Soon enough they had worked out a system: Finn would measure out ingredients and mix while Poe handled the actual baking and decorating. Poe was still doing the majority of the work, but it was a much, much better time with company. Especially if that company was Finn.

 Poe had just put in the last tray of the day when Finn started laughing. He turned around to see the dark-skinned man hiding his smile behind his hand.

 “What is it?”

 Finn, still laughing, reached out and ran his fingers through the older man’s hair. Poe thought he might have stopped breathing. Despite their earlier embrace, he wasn’t used to having Finn so close, close enough to just lean forward and –

 “Your hair is caked with flour,” Finn laughed, “It looks like you’ve just aged twenty years.”

 Poe smirked, suitably distracted from his dangerous thoughts. “Oh yeah?” Before Finn could react, Poe had thrown a handful of flour at the younger man, coating his hair and face in flour. It quickly deteriorated into a full on war, with flour and sugar and even eggs being used as ammunition. They only stopped when they heard the oven go off, signaling that the cake was done. Still laughing, they pulled it out, and the two men sat in companionable silence as Poe iced and decorated the cake.

 Putting the cake in the fridge, Poe said, “Come on, let’s get you cleaned up.”

 Poe led Finn up to his flat, and left Finn to sit with BB as he took a quick shower. He came out, freshly washed and in his nightclothes, to see Finn asleep with BB on his lap. He bit his lip. This man was too much for his poor heart to handle. Poe shook him awake gently, and sent him off to shower. He took Finn’s dirty clothes and threw them in the wash, then grabbed some sweatpants and a slightly bigger t-shirt for the younger man to wear.

 Poe only realized he’d made a huge mistake when Finn walked out with just a towel around his waist. Poe felt his brain short, staring dumbly. The man was unfairly attractive. Lean and fit, with strong arms and smooth, dark skin and a little trail of hair leading down to –

 No. Nope. Poe was not even gonna go there.

 He cleared his throat, smiling tightly as he passed Finn the clothes. He changed quickly in the bathroom, then came out, and Poe honestly didn’t know which was worse, a shirtless Finn or a Finn wearing his clothes, the spare shirt just a tad too tight. He didn’t even know that was a kink he had.

 Finn went to the window, unaware of Poe’s suffering. He groaned, prompting Poe to walk over with him. It was snowing, quite heavily..

 “I should head back home, before it gets really bad,” Finn remarked. He sighed. “I wish I’d thought to bring a heavier jacket, but I didn’t bother to check the weather this morning.”

 Without thinking, Poe grabbed his jacket from where he’d thrown it that morning after his walk with BB. “Take this.”

 “Oh no, I couldn’t. I’ll be fine, it’s not that long a walk –“

 “Nonsense,” Poe interrupted. “I can’t have my new baking assistant getting sick, can I?”

 Finn smiled, accepting the jacket gratefully. Poe was pretty sure he’d do anything to see that gentle, intimate smile. It felt like it was meant just for him, like he was lucky to see it.

 They said their goodbyes, and as soon as the door was closed, Poe leaned back against the door, sighing. Finn was not making this easy.

 

-----------------------------

 

It was so dark, he couldn’t see, couldn’t think – he was drowning, there was so much water, he couldn’t get escape, couldn’t breathe – his knee was broken, he couldn’t walk, god it hurt so much – how long had he been here? Months? Years? – screaming, suddenly screaming – that wasn’t Ben, it was always Ben, who – Finn! - No, no, no, no, not Finn not his Finn not good sweet Finn please don’t hurt him – screaming, screaming-

 

----------------------------

 

Poe woke with a yell, weeping and shaking. He’d never dreamt of Finn before, not like this. BB curled up next to him, licking away his tears. He sighed, rubbing his hands over his face. He curled up with his dog, falling into a fitful sleep.

 

---------------------------

 

Finn came in that morning with Rey, still wearing Poe’s jacket. When Jess saw it, the look she sent Poe was so shocked he almost laughed. “But that’s –“

 “Not a word, Jess.”

 Finn smiled, and handed over the clothes he had borrowed the day before. As Poe went to get Finn’s clothes, he heard Jess bombarding the younger man with questions, demanding to know why on earth he had a pair of Poe’s boxers.

 When Poe came back, he saw Finn start to take of his jacket, getting ready to give it back. Poe paused. He thought about that jacket; about running around with it falling to his feet, about the sleeves going well past his little hands, about his mother laughing as she rolled them up for him, so he could pretend to be a pilot just like her. Then he thought about Finn; kind, sweet Finn, who didn’t have any memories of his own mother, who hadn’t played with his parents, who deserved the moon on a string.

 “Keep it. It suits you.”

 The smile that spread across Finn’s face was so radiant, so pleased, that Poe knew he’d made the right decision. He had enough memories of his mother. He couldn’t regret parting with that jacket, not when it had made Finn smile like that.

 He felt a prickle at the back of his neck, and turned to see Jess staring at him like she’d never seen him before. She told Rey to mind the register as she forcibly dragged Poe into the back room, slamming the door behind them

 “You’re in love with him.”

 Poe froze. “No, I – I’m not, honestly I was just – “

 “Poe. That was your mom’s jacket. Your mom’s. Jacket. You wore it every time we went up.”

 “It’s just a jacket, Jess –“

 Jess interrupted, clearly frustrated. “No, it isn’t, you know it isn’t, god, Poe why can’t you just talk about how you’re feeling? Why do you have to push people away? You’re my best friend, and if it wasn’t for that damn jacket, I never would have known how much you cared about Finn…”

 Poe sat in silence, listening to Jess rant and rave, and he was suddenly reminded of something Finn had said to him all those months ago:

 

“Jess loves you. I think you can rely on her to take care of you. If you let her.”

 

Finn had been right then, and he still was now. Jess had been the most important person in his life for years now, and if he couldn’t talk to her then who?

 “- and another thing –“

 "I’m scared, Jess.”

 Jess froze, honestly surprised that Poe had spoken. Now that he had gotten started, it all came out at once.

 “Jess, I’m terrified. The last time I felt this way, it was with Ben, and I just – I can’t –“ He cut himself off. It was still so hard to talk about Ben, especially with people who knew him. “Finn has his whole life ahead of him, Jess. He’s gonna change the world, he’s going to change lives, he’s gonna do so many amazing things. He’s so good, Jess, he’s so earnest, he’s so full of hope and so caring and I can’t – I can’t let him see how broken I am. If he sees Poe, not Poe the baker or Poe the veteran but just Poe, he’s going to be disappointed. He’s gonna take one look at me, see how fucked up I am, and run for the hills. He’s gonna see that I’m not worth the effort it takes to be with me.”

 Poe hadn’t realized he was crying until Jess had him wrapped in her arms. He clung to her tightly. He didn’t know how long they stood there, just holding each other, but when they finally separated, he was both exhausted and relieved. It felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off his chest.

 Jess grabbed his face, tears in her eyes. “You listen to me, flyboy. You deserve to be happy. I know you think that you’re this broken, unworthy mess of a man, but you’re not. What happened to Ben wasn’t your fault. There was nothing you could have done, and you know it. He wouldn’t have wanted you to spend the rest of your life feeling guilty, like you’d betray him if you fell in love again. It’s been nearly seven years, Poe. You can let go.”

 Poe sighed. “What does it matter, Jess? Finn’s graduating in May. He’s leaving. He’s gonna go off and be a big shot lawyer, and I’ll be here, in my little bakery, with my little dog, living my little life.”

 Jess didn’t answer, and he knew that she hated the thought of Finn leaving almost as much as he did.

 Poe cleared his throat, fixing his apron and rubbing his eyes.

 “Besides,” he joked, “I think you’re getting enough action for the both of us, at the moment.”

 Jess smacked his arm, going beet red. “You’re unbearable.”

 As she walked away, Poe couldn’t help but smile. He might not ever have Finn, but he had Jess. And that was enough.

 

Besides, Poe Dameron wasn’t lonely, anyway.

 

-----------------------------

 

The holidays came and went, with Poe and Jess spending Christmas together while Finn and Rey went back to England to stay with her weird hippie dad, Luke.

 The sight of the two of them when he and Jess picked them up from the airport made Poe so happy he honestly could have cried. If he couldn’t handle one week without Finn, how was he going to manage after the two students graduated? Rey, at least, would still be around, but Finn? He shuddered at the thought.

 The new semester came with a new schedule for the two students, and with a new schedule came, apparently, much more time for Finn to spend with Poe.

“I’ve already taken my bar exams,” Finn had explained. “At this point, I’m just taking my final credits so I can graduate with all the requirements met.”

 Finn was spending nearly every night with Poe, helping him close up the bakery after Jess and Rey had left.

They would swap stories, talking well after closing. Finn told Poe about law school, about working at First Order, about anything, really. Poe mostly talked about flying, or his parents.

 “I swear, there’s nothing like it, Finn. You feel so free, like you could do anything.”

 Finn would always smile politely, humoring Poe as he waxed lyrical about the feeling of being in the air, about the subtlety of aeronautical engineering. Poe loved Jess, he really did, but honestly, she’d heard him talk about planes so much that if he spoke about these things with her she’d probably fall asleep.

 One day, the two of them were chatting at the counter (Poe in the midst of yet another lecture on flight maneuvers), when Jess came out with two peach cobblers to put in the display case. “You know, Poe, I’ve gotten to the point where I can actually make these on my own, after five years of working here.”

 Finn turned to her, confused. “What do you mean? Poe said it’s been on the menu for ages.”

 Arranging the pies, Jess answered absentmindedly. “Yeah, but before you came around, we used to only make them on special occasions, and Poe would bake them himself.”

 Poe cleared his throat pointedly, and Jess paused in her pie fiddling, looking over and mouthing an apology before disappearing into the back room. He sighed, before looking over at a bewildered Finn.

 “’Before I came along?’”

 Poe shrugged, feeling his ears go pink from embarrassment. “It’s your favorite, isn’t it?”

 “Well, yeah, but you don’t have to make it all the time just to make me happy.” Finn actually looked flustered, which was a new experience for Poe.

 “Finn, come on. You hardly ever order anything else. Besides, it’s a popular pie.” Before Poe could think of any more excuses that weren’t ‘I’m in love with you and like it when you smile’, Finn asked a question.

 “Why was it only for special occasions?”

 Poe honestly didn’t know how to answer that, but before he could get his wits together, Finn was looking at the menu quizzically. “Poe, who’s Shara?”

 The baker sighed, looking at his hands. “My mom. Peach cobbler was her favorite, just like you. It’s the only recipe that she made, not my dad or myself. I used to only make it on her birthday, my dad’s birthday, and their anniversary.”

 Finn simply looked at Poe, an unreadable expression on his face. Something about that look made Poe feel uneasy, like he was under a microscope. “It’s just – it made you so happy when we had the cobbler on the menu, and honestly I think she’d be glad to see someone enjoying her pie as much as she did, and – “

 “Poe,” Finn cut him off with another one of those gentle smiles, the ones he only ever seemed to aim at Poe. “I’m honored, that you shared your mother’s pie with me.”

 Poe blushed, smiling shyly at the younger man. “I wouldn’t want you to go without your favorite pie, buddy.”

 Finn frowned thoughtfully at that, and when he left later on he wore the same considering expression on his face.

 

---------------------------

 

Poe always hated his birthday. Not because he hated getting older, or anything, but he hated being the center of attention. He hadn’t done anything, really, except woken up that morning. He was heading down, preparing for a long day of well-wishers and polite smiles, when he heard laughing from the back room. He walked in, and saw Rey and Jess finishing up the morning bakes.

 “Happy Birthday, Poe!” they chorused, smiling widely. Next thing he knew, he was on the ground, having been essentially tackled by the two women. As they were getting up from their “hug”, Jess started to push him to the shop exit.

 “We’re taking care of the shop for you today, and BB. Finn’s waiting for you outside.”

 A confused Poe was practically shoved out the door, right into Finn. Strong hands grabbed his waist, steadying him. Poe flushed, and stepped away quickly. If Finn noticed how flustered Poe had gotten, he didn’t show it. He grinned excitedly.

 “Ready for your present, birthday boy? It’s not everyday you turn thirty-two.”

 Poe smiled. “You really didn’t have to get me anything, bud. It’s just a day, really. An excuse for people to pretend to like me and feel obligated to hug me.”

 Finn rolled his eyes and pulled him into a taxi. “You’re an idiot,” he said, and left it at that.

 “JFK airport, please.” He said to the cabbie, much to Poe’s bewilderment. JFK? What on earth were they going to do there?

 When they arrived, Finn grabbed Poe by the hand and led him to a small hangar. There, in the empty space, was a small plane. At Poe’s shocked expression, Finn explained.

 “You can rent commercial planes to fly, you know? Jess and Rey chipped in too, it’s from all of us. You can have her for the whole day. You still have your license, right?” at Poe’s numb nod, he went on: “You always seem so sad when you talk about flying, like you miss it. So we thought you might want to go back up there, for a while. Jess says you were the best pilot she’d ever seen, you know. That she’d never seen someone so gifted. Do you like it? I’m sorry if it’s too much, or –“

 Finn was cut off by Poe throwing his arms around his friend, the older man at a loss for words. No one had ever done something like this for Poe. No one had ever taken the time and effort to make Poe this happy.

 “I don’t know what I did to deserve you,” Poe whispered into Finn’s neck. He felt Finn’s arm tighten around him in response.

 When Poe finally let go, he couldn’t stop smiling, even through his tears. Once he’d gotten himself together, he moved toward the plane. He paused, however, when Finn didn’t follow him. “Aren’t you coming? Flying’s not as fun without a copilot, you know.”

 Flying was even better than Poe remembered. He never wanted to land, really. What made it all the better was hearing Finn whoop and cheer behind him every time he did anything even vaguely impressive. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been so perfectly, incandescently happy. When they landed, Finn jumped out, practically vibrating with energy.

 “You’re incredible!” he shouted, his face flushed with excitement. “I can’t believe it’s been so long since you flew! That was amazing! When you did that barrel roll, it was so scary but so awesome I can’t believe I’m still alive!”

 Poe grinned, happy that he’d been able to share this day with Finn. They left the hangar, Finn babbling excitedly all the while. As they got into the cab, Finn surprised Poe by telling the cabbie to go to Central Park, rather than back to the bakery. When they arrived, Finn stopped in a deli to grab some sandwiches, then took Poe to sit under a tree, picnic style. It was mid-April, and finally warm enough to sit outside without freezing their asses off. They sat in silence for a while, when Poe decided to speak. He felt safer with Finn than he had in a long time. He trusted him. 

“I was a P.O.W.” he said simply. 

Finn looked at him, shocked. “P.O.W.? As in prisoner of war?” At Poe’s nod, he exhaled heavily. “Jesus, Poe.”

 “We were shot down overseas. Jess wasn’t taken, don’t worry. Of our squad, it was only me and my second, Ben, who were taken. The things they did…” Poe shut his eyes, taking a deep breath. He felt Finn take his hand.

 “Poe, I don’t want you to feel obligated to share this. I mean, just because I told you all that stuff about being in a foster home – “

 Poe held up his other hand. “No. I want to. You’re my friend: you deserve to know the truth.”

 He took a deep breath, and continued: “I guess I should go back, huh? I met Jess when I was 21, right out of college. I joined the Air Force, because I wanted to follow in my mom’s footsteps. I rose through the ranks pretty quickly, after some quick thinking while we were fighting overseas. I ended up being the Red Squadron Commander, along with Jess and a new guy, Ben Solo.” At Finn’s puzzled look, he added, “Yeah, Solo as in Rey’s boss Han. He was his son. Finn, he and I – we were – well – “

 “You were together,” Finn finished for him. Poe nodded.

 “We were good together, he and I. We worked well together on missions, never let our relationship get in the way, professionally. Finn, you have to understand I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with him. I thought we would retire from the Air Force eventually, move into the city near my dad, have a couple kids, the whole deal. But then we were shot down near Jakku. I don’t wanna get into what they did to me, but I could hear what they were doing to him. Finn, I could hear him suffering, hear him screaming, and I couldn’t do anything about it. I was his commanding officer, his partner, and I couldn’t save him. Eventually, the screaming, the crying, the angry shouts, they stopped. A few days later, a rescue party came and got me out. Ben didn’t make it.”

 Finn grasped his hand more tightly, as Poe felt a few tears slip down his cheeks. He took a long, shuddering breath, and continued.

 “They said that a new enemy, Kylo Ren, was the one that did it, who killed him. For a long time, all I wanted to do was hunt that bastard down and kill him where he stood. But that wouldn’t have brought Ben back, and I knew it. He’ll get what’s coming to him, I’m sure. Obviously I wasn’t fit for duty after that, so I was discharged. Honorably, of course.”

 Finn was quiet for a long time after that, letting Poe recover and pull himself together a bit. Then, he asked, “Is that what the ‘bad nights’ are about?”

 Poe nodded. “That’s what Jess and I call them. She gets them too, but not as bad. They’re just flashbacks, really, or nightmares. I’ve actually been getting better. But sometimes… sometimes it’s not just Ben. Sometimes it’s Jess, or my mom. Or,” Poe paused, hesitant. “-or you.”

 Finn shifted until he could rest Poe’s head against his shoulder, supporting the other man’s weight. He said nothing, just waiting for Poe to finish what he needed to say.

 “So… now you know. I’m damaged goods.”

 Finn said nothing, only held him closer. They stayed there for some time, just watching the sun go down.

 

----------------------------------

 After that, Poe had been worried that things between he and Finn would change. His fears were unfounded, however, as Finn treated him just as he always had. Which. Huh. Poe had thought that when Finn found out about what he was dealing with, he’d treat him like some fragile thing, like a pathetic, pitiful creature. If anything, Finn only seemed to want to get to know him more. Now that Finn knew about the elephant in the room, Poe and Jess were soon swapping war stories, entertaining Finn and Rey with their outlandish adventures. It was a nice change, Poe thought, to be able to talk about his Air Force days without feeling his chest get tight. If he started to get uncomfortable, Finn or Jess would hold his hand, and he would manage to get through it. Every time he did so, he could practically feel Jess’s proud smile.

 It was all going smoothly, better than ever, really, when May rolled around. Finn and Rey were graduating in two weeks. Poe had the date marked on the calendar, having been invited to both the law school and the engineering school graduations, which were being held at different times on the same day.

 Both Rey and Finn were feeling the pressure, with finals coming up and the rest of their lives on the other side. It was becoming clear that Han was grooming Rey to take over his repair shop when he retired, and she was both terrified and extremely excited. Finn, on the other hand, was completely stuck.

 “I know exactly what I want to do, guys, really. I want to start my own practice, you guys know that. But I don’t have the money, or the office space, or the clients. How am I going to stay in the city if I don’t have a place to work? I can’t go back to corporate law. I just can’t.”

 Poe had stopped listening after “stay in the city.”

 “You want to stay?” He asked urgently.

 Finn looked at him, bemused. “Well, yeah. Of course. My whole life is here. You guys are here.”

 Poe couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He wasn’t going to lose Finn. Finn wanted to stay.

 

This changed everything, as far as Poe was concerned.

 

Poe had opened himself up to Finn, faced his fears, and the younger man had stayed with him; hadn’t judged him; hadn’t pitied him. And now, Poe wasn’t going to lose him after he graduated. He could tell Finn, if he wanted, how he felt.

 But did he want to? He hadn’t put himself out there since Ben, and that had been seven years ago. But with Finn, he wanted to try. He didn’t want to spend his life waiting. Because here was the truth:

 

Poe Dameron was lonely. Incredibly so. But he was beginning to think that maybe he wouldn’t always have to be.

 

-------------------------

 

Poe knew that he wanted to do something big for Finn, both as a thank you for the plane rental, and as a grand, dramatic declaration of love. Because Poe was secretly, in his heart of hearts, a hopeless romantic.

 He was pondering what to do as he was walking BB, when he passed the travel agency six blocks down from the shop. He stopped, staring. It was for sale.

 It was like a gift from the gods. Poe'd had some money put aside for years, maybe to expand the shop someday, or even buy his own light aircraft. He knew, though, that Finn was more important. That Finn would always be more important. He called the realtor, and got to work.

 

-------------------

 

The day of graduation came, and Poe and Jess sat among all the families, cheering and crying at all the right times, hugging the two graduates tightly when they came over after the ceremony.

 Poe closed the shop that night for a private party, just the four of them.

Once they had eaten all the pie and cake they could stomach, and Rey had been given her graduation gifts (a personalized wrench from Poe, and a key to Jess’s apartment from her girlfriend), Poe announced that it was time to go get Finn’s present. Jess and Rey grinned, having helped Poe set up for his surprise.

 Poe dragged Finn by the hand, barely able to contain his excitement. When the door was unlocked, he motioned for Finn to open it and go in first.

There were three rooms: a sitting area, with a desk in the corner; a conference room with a wide table and several desk chairs; and a small office in the back, with some house plants and a book shelf lined with law texts. Finn walked around, perplexed, until his eyes fell on a nameplate sitting on the desk in the office. He went into the small room, and Poe followed, closing the door behind them. Finn reached out to pick it up, and Poe saw the young man stiffen as he read the inscribed words:

 

Finn Trooper:  Attorney at Law

 

“Congrats, buddy.”

 Finn turned around, in complete shock. “Poe, I –“

 “Look, I know it’s a lot,” Poe interrupted, his nerves getting the better of him, “But it was for sale and you were so stressed about finding an office, and bam! Here it was, just down the road. We even have clients for you, as well. I happen to know quite a few people who were wrongfully terminated from First Order, who could use a good lawyer with a heart of gold.” Poe smiled hesitantly. “And it’s really close to the bakery, so that’s a plus.”

 “Poe, did you pay for all this?”

 “Jess and Rey picked out the furniture, I’m useless with interior design. Rey insisted on having indoor plants, though I’m not sure why. The nameplate was Jess’s idea. She said it was more professional for you to have one. We would have made a sign for the door, but we didn’t know what you wanted to call your practice, so –“

 “Poe. Did you buy this place, with your own money, for me?” Finn asked, an unreadable expression on his face.

 “Yeah. I did. It was worth every cent, to see your face when you read that nameplate.”

 Poe paused. Now or never.

 “Finn, listen. There’s something I wanted to – “

 “FINN!” Rey ran into the office, leaping into his arms. “Isn’t this great? It was Poe’s idea, all of it. We’ll all be so close together! I can’t believe how well this all worked out.”

 Finn smiled at Rey, hugging her tightly. “I love it,” he said quietly. He looked up at Poe, eyes shining. “It’s the best present I’ve ever gotten.”

 Poe gave Finn a gentle smile, and excused himself from the room. He’d missed his chance. He’d hesitated, and he’d blown it. He’d never get another chance quite like that. Still, he couldn’t be too bitter about it, not when Finn was so happy. This wasn’t been about Poe, it was about Finn. Poe would get another chance, he was sure. It just might take some time for him to work up the courage again, that’s all.

 

-----------------------------------

 

The next morning, the four of them were all sitting at the counter, waiting for the first customers of the day. Poe had opened late, he and Jess having been a bit hungover from the festivities the night before.

 Rey was looking at the chalkboard above the display case, reading the day’s menu, when she paused.

 “Poe, I’ve been friends with you for nearly four years, and I just realized that I have no idea why your shop is called Bey’s Bakes.”

 Poe laughed. “It’s for my mother. Shara Bey was her maiden name. So, Bey’s Bakes.”

 Poe, Rey, and Jess jumped as Finn’s fork clattered loudly onto his plate.

 

What.”

 

Rey and Jess took one look at the expression on Finn’s face and started to back away slowly. “You two stay here. Poe and I are gonna go talk in the back.”

 Poe let himself be dragged into the baking room, completely perplexed. Once the door closed behind them, Finn backed Poe into a wall.

 “This jacket. It says Bey on it.”

 Poe paled. He’d completely forgotten. “Uh, yeah.”

 “I’d always just assumed it had something to do with the bakery, but that’s not it, is it? It was your mom’s, wasn’t it?” At Poe’s nod, Finn pulled back, searching his face. Poe felt himself blushing deeply under such intense scrutiny. Finn’s face softened.

 “You gave me your mom’s jacket?” he whispered.

 “Yeah, well, you needed it more than I did.”

 Finn stared at Poe, and unreadable expression on his face. Suddenly, he broke out into a dazzling smile.

“Oh my god. You love me, don’t you?”

Poe turned beet red and nodded, not trusting himself to speak.

 “You love me. You love me.”

 Poe rubbed the back of his neck, flustered. “Look, Finn, I understand if you don’t -“

 Poe never got to finish that sentence, having been interrupted by Finn’s mouth crashing into his own. His eyes widened in disbelief. He was sure his heart stopped. Finn was kissing him? Finn was kissing him? It was unfathomable. Just as Finn went to pull away, Poe leapt into action, grabbing the other man by the waist, adjusting his head to gentle the kiss. His eyes slipped closed, savoring the moment. You only get one first kiss, after all, and Poe was going to make it count. Finn’s arms made their way around Poe’s neck, and the baker found himself pulling the younger man even closer, until they were flush against one another.

 Eventually, they had to come up for air, panting slightly. Poe stared into Finn’s eyes, before leaning their foreheads together. His eyes slipped close as he laughed breathlessly, still clinging to Finn’s waist tightly.

 “I think I’ve loved you since that first night, if I’m being honest. It scared me, a little.”

 Finn pulled back, looking at Poe with wet eyes. “God, Poe. I’ve loved you for so long. I can’t even remember what it was like before I loved you, before you were the center of my universe.”

 Poe laughed joyously, feeling his own eyes prickle. He pulled Finn back in for a sweet, short kiss, before hugging him tightly, burying his face in the crook of his neck. “You saved me, Finn. You took my broken parts and made me whole again.”

 Finn clung to Poe tightly, before pulling back for a more desperate kiss. Soon enough, he had Poe backed against the door, tongue in his mouth and hands in his hair. Poe gave as good as he got, holding Finn’s face in his hands, running his thumbs along the younger man’s cheekbones. Finn gave an experimental tug to Poe’s hair, and the older man let out a whimper, unable to help himself.

 Finn pulled back, eyes wide, his irises all but swallowed by his pupils. Poe flushed. He must have looked a mess, with his bruised lips, flushed cheeks, and wild hair. Finn looked at him, glancing down at the clearly visible bulge in Poe’s trousers. He pushed Poe against the door, grinding their hips together.

 “I am going to ruin you.” He panted into Poe’s ear, prompting a needy moan from the baker.

 “Finn, please.” At Poe’s plea, Finn pulled away. “No, no, this is the opposite of what I want, come back,” he whined.

 Finn chuckled at the desperate man. “We need some slick, love.”

 Poe’s brain short-circuited at the thought of Finn inside him, and with a high-pitched moan he rushed to one of the back cupboards, pulling out a bottle of lube. At Finn’s raised eyebrows, he blushed. “Look, it was a gag gift from Jess. Something about making it easier for my right hand.”

 Finn groaned, apparently turned on by the idea of Poe touching himself. Next thing he knew, Poe was being shoved against the wall, legs hitched up around Finn’s waist. And oh god, he was so strong, he was lifting Poe like he weighed nothing at all, and Poe moaned helplessly: he’d always had a thing for being manhandled. He gripped Finn’s hair tightly as he pulled him in for another searing kiss.

 He suddenly felt a hand slipping into his boxers, and a wet finger circling his hole, and wow, when did that happen? How had he been so distracted that he missed Finn lubing up his fingers? How did Finn even do that?

 He was so busy wondering at Finn’s multitasking abilities that he was taken by complete surprise when Finn slipped his index finger inside him.

 Poe let out a wrecked groan, wrapping his legs more tightly around the man. “This okay?” Finn gasped, and at Poe’s frantic nod he started to move, adding another finger. He set a slow, tortuous pace, and soon enough Poe was practically gagging for Finn’s cock, pleading and cursing the younger man’s patience. But Finn took his time, wanting Poe to be prepped properly. Poe was nearly sobbing, he was so desperate.

 “Finn, I don’t want to be overdramatic, but if you don’t get your dick inside me, I will actually die.”

 Finn laughed breathlessly before practically throwing Poe onto the baking table, scattering ingredients and sending a cloud of flour into the air. Poe found himself laid bare on the table in seconds, Finn wasting no time in pulling his clothes off. Poe sat up and whined, tugging at Finn’s zipper. He helped Finn pull of his shirt, but the younger man pushed him onto his back while he removed his pants. Poe took a moment to lean up on his elbows and drink in the sight of a fully naked, hard Finn. Which. Whoa. That was Finn’s dick. His really, big, really nice dick. “You’re gorgeous,” he breathed, awe struck.

 Finn smiled, leaning forward to kiss him gently. “Look who’s talking,” he whispered, gesturing at Poe’s, well, everything. Poe flushed before pulling Finn into another kiss, trying to convey all he was feeling without words. He hoped Finn was as overwhelmed as he felt.

 Finn picked up Poe’s legs, lining himself up with Poe’s hole. “I don’t want to hurt you,” he began, but Poe wasn’t having any of that. He grabbed Finn’s ass and pulled, until the head of Finn’s cock slipped into him. They both let out desperate moans as Finn pushed into Poe, gasping when he bottomed out. Poe let out a high keen, overwhelmed by the sudden, perfect fullness. Finn leaned over, kissing him breathlessly. They both took a moment to adjust, and Poe was pleased to see that Finn was having just as much trouble as he was keeping it together.

 At Poe’s go ahead, Finn slowly starting pulling out, before gently pushing in. He set a slow, gentle pace, driving Poe slowly mad. On one thrust, he found Poe’s prostate, and the older man seized up, whimpering. Finn grinned wickedly, before adjusting his angle so that he would hit that sweet spot on every thrust. Occasionally, he would stop and grind into Poe, causing the older man to clutch onto him even tighter. Poe was sure that Finn was going to have scratches on his shoulders, not that he seemed to be complaining.

 Poe grabbed the back of Finn’s head, pulling him down for a filthy kiss. “Finn, please, fuck me,” he whined. Finn groaned, before snapping his hips into Poe roughly. He moaned, pulling Finn closer with his legs. Finally.

 Finn set a brutal pace, and soon all that could be heard in the room were their heavy breathing and groans and the sound of the table scraping along the floor, moved by the force of Finn’s movements. He was going to have bruises tomorrow, from Finn’s hands on his hips, and that thought alone was nearly enough to send Poe over the edge.

 With Finn pounding into him, hitting his prostate on every thrust, Poe knew he wasn’t going to last much longer. He went to warn him:

 “Finn, I’m not gonna last, I can’t -“

 He was interrupted by Finn’s moan. “Yes, yes, god Poe, please, you’re so good, so tight, wanna see you come, wanna see you fall apart...”

 Poe whined, high and desperate, heading toward his peak rapidly. Finn leaned forward and panted into his ear: “Come on, baby. Come for me. Let me see you.”

 Finn sunk his teeth into the curve of Poe’s neck, and that was it, that was all she wrote: Poe came with a loud groan, come hitting Finn’s stomach and falling onto his chest. Finn followed soon after, and honestly, the sight Finn biting his lip as he came inside Poe was enough to make his dick twitch in a valiant effort to come again.

 Finn pulled out, and lay down next to Poe on the table, both men trying to catch their breath. Poe rolled onto his side, smiling at the younger man.

 “So. That happened.” Finn laughed at Poe’s casual opener, before reaching out and swiping some flour from Poe’s face. Poe grimaced, realizing suddenly that he’d been lying in the powder. Before he could complain, though, Finn pulled him in for a kiss, this one softer, more emotional.

 “I love you, Poe Dameron.”

 Poe’s cheeks hurt, he was smiling so wide. “I think I’m always gonna love you, Finn.”

 

-------------------------------

 

 

They walked out, disheveled and covered in flour, to see Jess and Rey waiting, grinning like loons.

 “Have fun?” Jess giggled. “You were in there for quite awhile.”

 “We heard some groaning. I hope you didn’t hurt yourself or anything…” Rey winked at Poe, who turned bright red and hid his face in Finn’s shoulder. Finn, surprisingly, just laughed and wrapped his arm around the embarrassed man.

 “If you’ll excuse us, ladies, I think Poe’s going to be taking the day off. We have a lot of work to do.”

 He all but dragged Poe upstairs to his flat., both of them practically delirious with joy. The two men did not emerge until the next morning.

 

-----------------

 

Epilogue – 7 months later

 

Poe woke with a cry, sweating and shaking. He’d had yet another nightmare, another flashback.

 Finn pulled Poe over to him until the older man was cradled in his arms, his head on his chest. Finn inhaled deeply, letting Poe breathe with him as he listened to the younger man’s heartbeat. Finn had been so patient with Poe these past few months, so gentle with him. He never pushed, he never blamed Poe for his nightmares, for his P.T.S.D. Poe thanked his lucky stars every day, so grateful to have Finn in his life, to take care of him. BB crawled over until she was right between the two men’s stomachs, making Poe smile. He pet her gently, and soon he was fast asleep, safe in Finn’s arms.

 Next morning, Poe woke with a sticky note on his forehead:

 

Gone to work: new client. Lunch later?

You did so well last night: I’m proud of you.

Love you – F.

 

 Poe smiled softly. Finn’s practice had taken off in the past six months, having won no less than 7 suits against First Order for wrongful termination. Finn was so happy that he was helping people, fighting for the little guy. Poe couldn’t be prouder, and bragged about his “genius lawyer boyfriend” to anyone who would listen, much to Finn’s chagrin.

 His (their, really, if he was being honest) whole apartment was littered with post-its, on the walls, furniture, the fridge: everywhere. They were sometimes little reminders, or short, sweet notes; sometimes they were silly drawings, or, on one memorable occasion, a poem. They’d write anything to make each other smile when one of them wasn’t home. Poe grabbed this new sticky and put it in the drawer in his bedside table, where he kept all the notes Finn left him.

 Poe walked into the kitchen to grab some breakfast, BB padding behind him. His grin widened when he saw cooked bacon and eggs on the counter, with another sticky note, this time just a silly cartoon heart. He laughed, delighted. Poe was dating a complete dork.

 He looked around his apartment, sighing contentedly. It was messier than it had been in years, with clothes strewn about from where he and Finn had thrown them in their haste to get to bed. There were two empty mugs on the counter, left out from the day before, and there was actual food in the fridge (Finn loved it when Poe cooked for him). There were case files and notebooks strewn across his coffee table, from when Finn brought his work home with him. Through the open door of the bathroom, he could see two toothbrushes, two razors, and two towels, one for he and Finn each. The apartment might have been messier, but Poe didn’t care. It felt like a home.

 Photos had slowly started to spread around the apartment, framed pictures of kisses on cheeks, of days at the beach, of late nights at the bakery.

 He smiled at a picture Finn had hung up of them and Jess and Rey, all standing around the counter in the bakery. It was a candid photo, none of them actually looking at the camera, but rather at each other. Han had taken it one afternoon, when he’d stopped by to see his protégé. Rey and Jess were laughing at something Han had said, while he and Finn were leaned against each other, smiling at the two women. They all looked so carefree in that photo, and each time he looked at it Poe was reminded of how far he’d come, how lucky he was to have the three of them; Of how happy he was now that he had Finn.

 He walked downstairs to see Jess and Rey laughing with an older woman. He froze, before a huge grin spread across his face.

 “General!” he yelled, sprinting across the room to embrace her. He hadn’t seen his old commanding officer in years, and even their regular phone calls hadn’t made him miss her any less. She and his mother had served together when they were younger, and Poe had known the older woman since he’d been a child. He’d idolized her growing up, constantly asking his mother to tell him stories about “Miss Leia”.

 The woman laughed, hugging him tightly. “Hey there, flyboy. How many times do I have to tell you? You’re not in the Force anymore, you don’t have to call me General. Leia is fine.”

 “Of course Gen – Leia. Are you here for the party?” Han was retiring that day, finally ready to pass the Millennium Falcon on to Rey. He and the general had been together for years, though Ben’s death had nearly torn them apart. Poe was glad that they’d made it through those dark years: he’d never met two people who complemented each other so perfectly. Despite all their bickering and teasing, he’d never seen two people more in love, even after all these years. The General had been overseas on a mission for the past year, but it looked like she was here to stay.

 The afternoon went by quickly, with Jess handling customers while Poe and Leia caught up. The bell about the door rang at 3:00, and Finn came in. When he saw Poe, he lit up. Poe smiled back adoringly, and he heard Jess groan from behind him. He’d been reliably informed that he and Finn were “sickening” and that he needed to “get a grip”, as they’d been together for months now.

 Finn walked over, giving Poe a quick kiss before turning to Leia.

 “Let me guess: General Organa?” at Leia’s surprised face, he continued. “You’re exactly how Poe described you. He talks about you all the time, you know. If you’re half as great as he seems to think you are, then it’s truly an honor to meet you.”

 Leia gave the man a gentle smile, before turning to Poe. “I like him. He’s a keeper.”

 Poe gave an inward sigh of relief. He knew it was unfounded, but he’d been concerned that Leia might not approve of Finn, being the first person Poe had been with since her late son. He’d been worried for no reason: everyone loved Finn, and he should have known Leia wouldn’t have been immune to his charms.

 The door opened, and an older man walked in, a large Irish setter at his heels. The man of the honor waved off the excited cheers from the group at the counter, sitting down grumpily next to his wife. Leia leaned over to give him a kiss, ignoring Han’s muttering about not needing a party, about how he didn’t need any special attention.

 Poe and Jess brought out the cake, and the baker couldn’t help but notice Han fighting a smile; the old softie. He smiled at the sight of BB and Chewbacca, Han’s dog, chasing each other around the bakery. As he looked around at the little family he made, Poe felt his throat get tight with emotion. Finn, noticing his partner’s sudden silence, pulled Poe closer to him. Wrapping an arm around Poe’s waist, Finn whispered, “You okay?”

 Poe nodded, trying to put how he was feeling into words. Eventually, he smiled. Leaning his head on Finn’s shoulder, clasping the younger man’s hand in his own, he murmured:

 “It’s nothing, I just realized something.”

 “And what’s that?”

 

“I’m not lonely. Not any more.”