“So that’s where I’m from,” Finn whispers in an awed voice. Between he and Poe hangs the hologram of a blue-green world. Two moons, single yellow sun. Looks like a nice enough system, Poe thinks. Coming from Yavin Four, he has a thing for blue-green worlds.
Poe shrugs in response. “Maybe,” he says, trying to put a realistic damper on what might otherwise be overwhelming emotions for Finn. “Your genetic profile is the most close to the people from this world,” he says cautiously. “Now that could mean you’re from here, yes, but it could also mean your parents were from here but traveled elsewhere before you were born. Or maybe you’re from a planet we don’t have in the databanks and this was just the closest match.” He shrugs again. “We lost huge amounts of data when we lost Hosnian Prime.”
Finn nods, and Poe appreciates that he seems to be pulling himself back again. Best not to get all his hopes up. “What do we know about it?”
Poe looks down at the console in front of him, and scrolls through the read-out. “Not much. It’s called Yantu. Independant system out towards the rim. Constitutional Monarchy. Limited reports of skirmishes with the First Order, but it looks like they maintained their independence.” He smirks through the hologram at Finn. “That sounds familiar. Maybe you are from there, after all.”
Finn grins back in the unselfconscious way he has now that always makes Poe’s chest feel too small. All the shit he’s been through, and Finn can still smile like that. It’s a miracle, if you ask Poe. “And we can just go there?” Finn asks.
“Well, it’s not exactly ‘we can just’,” Poe says. “It’s a few days in a commercial passenger freighter with someone else flying.” He huffs his distaste at that. “And once we check in at Yantu and you do some sightseeing, we’ve gotta hit every planet on the way back with our hats out looking for support for the Resistance.” The destruction of Hosnian Prime had meant the death of nearly every skilled diplomat in the Galaxy aside from General Organa. The General had much better things to do than bow and scrape for the rim worlds, so she’d delegated to a ‘moderately charming ranking officer’: Poe.
Poe regrets ever allowing himself to be promoted, honestly. Jess and Snap never had to deal with this shit. He’s a pilot. Not a spy or a politician or a diplomat. Still, it’s a nice treat to be able to bring Finn with him to see Yantu, and the General had absolutely agreed that a ‘reformed’ member of the First Order might make for an excellent selling point on their trip back.
“I really want to see it,” Finn says, looking up at the hologram again. “But I’m really scared, too. What if they don’t know me? Or what if they do?” He chuckles like he realizes how ridiculous he sounds. “Either way, I’m glad you can come with me, buddy.”
Poe nods, “Yeah. Absolutely. Me too.” He smiles back at Finn, who seems to soak it up as reassurance. “Now see if you can pull yourself away from the holoprojector and go pack. The freighter,” he winces as he says it-- Force, he hates taking public transportation with pilots he doesn’t know-- “leaves first thing tomorrow.”
By the end of the journey to Yantu, Poe’s pretty sure that of the three of them (Poe, Finn, and BB-8), Poe is the worst diplomat. It’s not entirely his fault, he thinks. He just finds it really hard to be diplomatic when he’s on a ship with such a solidly terrible crew, and by day two he just can’t stop himself from talking about them loudly in public anymore no matter how much Finn shushes him.
“Finn, I know you don’t know much about interstellar navigation,” Poe is saying as they finally disembark, “but he navigated in pretty much a straight line, rather than taking advantage of at least two well known gravity wells! That added days to this trip!” Finn shoves his luggage into his hands, but Poe goes on anyway, gesticulating with his bags instead. “And the engineer! Those were not healthy engines! He had all the engineering skills of a particularly uncivilized nerf herder!”
“Is there a problem here?” a crewman asks them, and Poe is too caught up to care if he’s there to be helpful or because he’s insulted.
“No, there’s no pr--” Finn starts.
“Yeah, actually, there is a problem,” Poe says, ignoring the face Finn is making and the warning beeps of BB-8. “Can you please get me the contact information for your chief engineer? I would love to send him a gift of his first ever set of spanners. I think it’ll be a real treat for him.”
Finn takes him by both shoulders and pushes him firmly towards the gangway. “There is no problem,” he repeats with his most ingratiating smile to the crewman, and proceeds to hustle Poe and himself off the ship as fast as possible, with BB-8 trailing behind them.
“I don’t know what we’re gonna do on our way back,” Poe says, as they both step outside and get their first good look at the world of Yantu. They actually can’t see much-- just glimpses of green on the other side of walls and partitions. They have to go through customs first. “Because I would rather swim home through the vacuum of space than get back on a ship like that again.”
“Poe, buddy, we’re off the ship now, so can you stop talking about it?” Finn asks quietly beside him. “People are staring at us.”
Oh. Right. People are staring, obviously and disconcertingly, and he wonders if somehow it’s considered a huge faux pas to talk trash about other people’s flying skills on this planet. “Sorry, Finn,” Poe says quietly back. He wasn’t wrong, but Finn seems a bit embarrassed, and for that he is really sorry. “Our boots are on solid ground again, so I’ve got my best diplomat hat on from here on out. Promise. Best behaviour.”
“Thank you,” Finn says. “It’s just… if this is really my homeworld, I want to make a really good impression, you know?” His eyes are so hopeful and earnest, and Poe knows that deep down in Finn’s heart, no matter what the First Order did to him, he just wants people to like him. Poe doesn’t understand how anyone in the galaxy couldn’t.
Poe switches his bags into one hand, so he can pat Finn on the back with the other. “I know, buddy, but I’m sure everyone here that you meet is gonna love you.”
Finn gifts him with a relieved smile, and then they’re at the front of the line and it’s time to pull out their ident documents.
“Purpose of visit?” the customs officer asks.
“Diplomatic,” Poe says, shoulders square and speaking as precisely as he can. “I’m Commander Poe Dameron with the Resistance acting as an envoy from General Organa herself. This is Finn, my attaché, and my droid, BB-8.”
The officer doesn’t seem too impressed by that, which disappoints Poe a little. Saying all that nonsense to sound like a big deal is kind of a pain if no one treats him like a big deal afterwards.
Instead, the officer is going through the motions of scanning their documents into the podium in front of him. One card goes into and out of the scanner fine, but when the other one goes in, it gets spit out with an alarming beep. The officer frowns and sends it in again with the same result. Poe can’t tell whose card it is.
“Do either of you have anything to declare?” The officer asks, looking at them both seriously.
BB-8 coos in alarm and Poe can see Finn looking at him, concerned, out of the corner of his eye. Poe has no idea what is going on, but no low ranking customs officer is going to pressure him into saying anything incriminating. Especially when he hasn’t actually done anything incriminating. “We are here on a diplomatic mission,” he repeats calmly.
The officer nods, like his mind has been made up, and Poe can see security walking up casually to the podium so as to not alarm the other travellers. “I’m going to have to ask you to come with me, then,” the officer says, gesturing towards the waiting security guards.
“Can I ask what this is about?” Poe asks, even as he walks forward calmly. This has to be freaking Finn out, so he’s got to appear completely unruffled so Finn doesn’t do anything rash… like try to break him out of here and steal a TIE fighter.
“I have reason to believe one of you is traveling on false documents,” the officer says, just as security takes hold of them, two each for Poe and Finn and another two to take their belongings and to scoop up BB-8, who blats angrily at the treatment.
“It’s okay, BB-8,” Poe soothes, even as inwardly he’s rolling his eyes at all this overkill. “Just go with security and behave and I’ll sort this out and get you back in a minute, I promise.”
BB-8 and their bags go one way and Finn and Poe go down a hallway in the other direction. “Look, if you gentlemen would just comm General Organa, the head of the entire Resistance, she will absolutely vouch for the both of us and our documents.” Poe is saying as they are summarily marched straight into a holding room. There’s a metal table that’s bolted to the floor and a few folding chairs. The walls are bare apart from something that appears to be Yantu’s constitution or other founding document on one side and the usual portraits of the Monarchy and Prime Minister on the other. The security guards shut the heavy door behind them as they leave the room, and Poe strides over to call through the grate in it. “This is a diplomatic mission,” he shouts down the hall after them. “You guys are gonna be real embarrassed once you sort this all out!”
He huffs a sigh as the departing security guards move out of sight and then turns to face Finn. “This is not exactly how I wanted you to see your potential homeworld for the first time,” Poe says, wincing. “Still, once they realize they really kriffed up, I’ll bet they get real apologetic and give us everything the General wants, so this may pay off in the long run.” He grins broadly, and after only a moment’s hesitation, Finn grins back, and Poe inwardly breathes a sigh of relief.
Poe goes to take a look at the document on the wall, scanning through it for any mention of rules or laws he should be aware of. It would be nice to have a guarantee of contact with someone off-world-- then if they weren’t willing to call the General to sort this all out, he could.
“They look nice,” Finn says behind him, and the non-sequitur catches Poe off-guard until he glances back to see that Finn is examining the portrait of the Royal Family of Yantu. Poe goes back to reading the document in front of him.
“You never can tell with a portrait,” Poe mutters, scanning through the history of the monarchy to get to the stuff that was actually relevant. “Tell you what, though, this’ll make a great story to tell Snap and Jess when we get back.”
“You think we will get back, then?” Finn asks, a little hesitantly.
“Of course we’ll get back. Both of our ident cards were made under the direct orders of General Organa herself. You can’t get more legitimate than that. Maybe the ship’s engineer’s cousin works for an ident scanner manufacturer,” he tosses out with a grin, and actually gets a laugh out of Finn, which delights him.
The sound of footsteps in the hall again has him stepping back to the center of the room. “Heads up. Here we go,” he alerts Finn, who blinks and then steps over next to him. “Watch this. After this screw up, they’re going to give us everything the General wants and a parade.”
The customs officer that comes back into the room has quite a few more bars on his sleeve than the one who originally interviewed them. There’s also a very finely dressed elderly gentleman who remains standing in the back of the room, even as the officer approaches them.
“You attempted to land on the planet with an ident document that gave your name only as ‘Finn’,” the officer says, and Poe frowns a bit, as he really, honestly believed that it was his card that was causing the problem. It’s older, after all, and sometimes the data gets scrambled on old cards, especially around electronics. Finn is standing up straight beside him, though, bless him, and not giving anything away.
“That’s my name,” Finn replies, with a determined set to his lip like he’s daring anyone to argue with him about it. About the name Poe gave him.
“But your biometrics indicate you are actually Elias Yantun,” the officer continues, as if Finn hadn’t said anything. Poe frowns. Yantun certainly sounds a lot like…
“I don’t know who that is,” Finn says, shaking his head. “I’ve never heard of Elias Yantun.”
Poe is getting a tremendously bad feeling about this and finally turns his head to take in the portrait of the Royal Family of Yantu, which he had almost entirely ignored up until this point. Finn was right, they do look nice, but they also look… Holy kriffing Sith! Now he knows why people were staring.
The man in the back steps forward, as Poe’s heart rabbits in utter shock and disbelief in his chest. When the man speaks he is not angry or stern, but rather sounds so emotional that his voice quavers. “I am Anto Kun, Minister of the Homeworld,” he says, bowing a little in respect towards Finn. “And you are Elias Yantun, Crown Prince of Yantu, only child of the King and Queen, stolen from us as a baby and finally returned safe and sound to his home. I would recognise you anywhere, even grown.” Tears are running down the minister’s cheeks. “Welcome home, Prince Eli.” He bows again, much deeper this time, and the customs officer does the same. Finn looks stunned, eyes wide, and glances to Poe for help.
Poe diplomatically shouts, “You’re a KRIFFING PRINCE!?”
The next standard hour goes by in something like a blur. They are reunited with BB-8 and their belongings and Poe has no idea how to even start explaining the situation to the little droid, who just keeps trilling queries up at them. He should probably report in to the General as soon as he can find a comm suite, but he has no idea what to say to her either. The two of them, and BB-8, are escorted to ground transportation to take them to the royal grounds where they will meet the King and Queen and stay in the palace. It’s honestly like words have no meaning anymore.
Minister Kun is gesturing out the window of the transport at the sights of Finn’s kingdom. Or Eli’s kingdom, Poe supposes. He guesses Finn sort of looks like an Eli. Still, it’s going to be strange to get used to.
Finn/Eli is politely looking out the window and nodding at the proper points in Kun’s speech, but there is more and more white showing around his eyes as he sits there, traveling across what is clearly the beautiful and prosperous capital city of a beautiful and prosperous world which apparently he now owns. Or something. Poe reaches out to lay his hand briefly on Finn’s in support-- it’s resting on the back seat between them-- but Finn latches onto him instantly, turning the brief gesture into a solid handhold. Poe’s a bit surprised, but the whites around Finn’s eyes go back to the normal amount, so he doesn’t mind doing it if it helps. It’s nice, actually. It’s going a long way towards calming Poe down too.
The transport only stops when it reaches its final destination. Police or military or security kept their path clear through the city. Poe glances out the window on his side of the vehicle to look out at where they are. They’re in an open paved courtyard, made of intricately laid bricks of two tones. Behind him, the way they’ve come, lays the gleaming capital city, durasteel and glass and modern as Hosnian Prime was, but in front of them is the palace, tall and white and beautiful as only a very old building can be.
Finn’s door is opened for him, and after a moment, he steps out, still clutching Poe’s hand. Poe slides along the bench seat in the back to follow him out, and the two of them stand next to the transport, holding hands and staring up in awe at what is, apparently, Finn’s home.
“Does any of this seem familiar?” Poe murmurs, as behind them footmen rush to gather their bags and help BB-8 out of the transport. The giant doors in front of them swing open to admit them.
Finn shakes his head. “I can’t remember anything from before the First Order,” he murmurs back, voice tight. “My first memory is assembling a rifle, I think.” He turns to Poe. “They’re going to want me to be Eli and I don’t know how to do that at all.” The two of them watch the minister rush inside ahead of them, announcing Eli’s eminent arrival. “I feel like I’m tricking them, or something. Taking advantage. What if they just want Eli to be back so bad that they thought I was him, but I’m not?”
“Honestly, I don’t think anyone has ever been in this situation before,” Poe says, a little dryly, “so you’ll just have to make it up as you go along. But I seem to recall you’re pretty good at that.” He squeezes Finn’s hand and grins and him and gets a little smile in return.
“Prince Eli,” calls the minister from the doorway. “Your parents are waiting for you in the throne room.”
Finn swallows hard. “Here we go,” Poe coaxes gently, pulling Finn forwards by his hand. “We’re gonna do this.”
Poe is still dressed in his travelling clothes, that is, pretty much still as a pilot on his day off. He has nicer ‘diplomacy’ clothes in his bag, but there’s been no time to change, and if he were the King and Queen he certainly wouldn’t want to wait a moment to see Finn again after so long. Even Finn is dressed like a pilot on his day off, frankly, because Finn has a habit of accidentally/on purpose mistaking Poe’s clothes for his. He’s pretty sure the shirt Finn’s wearing used to be his, honestly.
He feels very, very out of place in the palace. He and Finn pass guards with armor polished to a mirror finish. Servants starched to within an inch of their lives. One of them will probably have to mop the foyer again after he and Finn have passed through it with their dusty traveling boots, and he feels like apologizing. Finn is still clutching his hand.
Poe wonders why the King and Queen have chosen the throne room to meet their son. It seems huge and impersonal. Surely a small sitting room would be better for this sort of meeting? But then they are lead to the doors, and Poe realizes it is the room closest to the front entrance. The King and Queen could not wait for Finn to walk a step further to meet them than he had to.
The doors open to admit them and close behind them almost immediately to afford the Royal Family privacy. The King and Queen are not sitting on their thrones at the far end of the room, but rather hovering right near the door waiting for them to come through.
They are a handsome pair, Poe thinks. The Queen somehow gives the impression of utmost serenity, even as tears fall from her eyes. Her hair is cut very short, emphasizing her strong profile and intelligent face. Her long, graceful neck is emphasized by a high-collared red gown made from draped fabric that flows as she moves, making it seem as if she’s not so much moving as being carried gently on the breeze like a falling flower petal.
The King, in a long, embroidered jacket that Poe has seen on enough of the locals to think is traditional, is more solidly built than his wife, and has a handsome face that seems firm but very fair. Though both are of an average height, like Finn himself, they give the impression of being much taller.
Any doubts Poe had disappear. The royal family is regal and polished, while Poe thinks of Finn as a bit more hardscrabble and goofy, but the resemblance is uncanny. There is Finn’s kind eyes and full lips. His smooth, dark skin and arched eyebrows. Looking at the King and Queen is like looking into the future, at what his friend could be refined into if given the chance. Now that he sees it, he wonders how he’d ever seen Finn as anything less than a young prince.
“Oh, Eli,” the Queen says, leaning on her husband for support, tears dropping onto her cheeks. “It is you.”
The Queen lets go of her husband and steps forward to take Finn’s face into her hands kissing him gently on his forehead and both cheeks before leaning back to look into his eyes. “Do you remember us?” she asks kindly.
Finn looks like he’s about to cry himself. “I don’t,” he says, “but I really wish I did.”
“Plenty of time for that, son, now that you’ve returned,” says the King, touching his arm as if he’s afraid Finn will turn into smoke. “And we are so glad you have returned.”
“And who has returned you?” the Queen asks, suddenly turning her clear eyes on Poe, but not before she has glanced down to their joined hands. She smiles at Poe through her tears. “We must thank you, as well.” She moves to put her hands on either side of Poe’s face and kisses him on both cheeks and the forehead, as she had Finn, and he realizes it must be a local greeting. Still, it feels as if he’s been personally blessed by a creature far greater than he, and he really wishes he could have managed a shower and a change into nicer clothes before he’d come here.
“This is Poe,” Finn says proudly beside him. Poe means to give his full name and title, and be a professional about all this, but he’s finding it hard to find his voice.
“And what is Poe to you?” The Queen asks Finn kindly, and Poe feels a cold rush of adrenaline as he realizes what they must look like, coming in here hand in hand.
Finn, of course, is oblivious, however. “We’re buddies,” he says with a smile, as if friends is the very best thing any two people could be.
“Welcome then, Poe, Protector and Friend of the Prince,” says the Queen, bowing to him as the King does the same. “We are in your debt.”
It is a massive honor. It is an amazing diplomatic coup. The General is going to give him a medal if there is any room left on his jacket after the royal family gives him all of theirs. Yet somehow he feels dread because Finn is a Prince and he is a Resistance Commander and he has no idea what that means.
King Angost and Queen Astrid have either amazing instincts or excellent advisors. The four of them sit together in the throne room for less than an hour, it seems, just long enough for Finn to tell them vaguely of how he grew up and for the King and Queen to tell him of the day the First Order attacked and tried to force the planet under it’s bootheel by kidnapping the young Crown Prince. The Royal Family and the Parliament refused to concede, and the military fought the Star Destroyer to a standstill, but they were unable to board the Star Destroyer to free the Prince and it left the system with him still on board. The Queen lost the child she was carrying in her grief, and was told she could have no more children, and so the kingdom was left without an heir, until Eli’s return.
At the end of the exchange of both stories, and though Poe can tell it must be killing her to do so, Queen Astrid tells them to take their leave. “You have both journeyed far, and though your return has been blessed, Eli, it must also be a shock and exhausting. We have the rest of our lives to talk and get to know each other once again, there is no need to overwhelm you in one long day. You should go to your rooms and eat something and rest, and perhaps you will both join us for dinner?”
“Of course we will,” Finn says, and as they all stand to take their parting, Finn hugs them both in the way he does, full contact and with a pound on the back. Both the King and Queen are hardly expecting it, but they take it in good grace, and Poe manages to clamp down on the chuckle that wants to escape as he watches.
Finn’s drained from all of it, Poe can tell as they leave the throne room. It’s overwhelming, especially for someone with not a lot of social contact, but it’s a good sort of drained-- Like a kid passed out on Life Day morning after he’s had nothing but sweets and played with too many new toys.
They are shown to their rooms by an attentive butler-type, Poe first. Poe’s room is massive, no luxury overlooked. A huge, ornate bed. Plush carpet that looks like it’s never been stepped on. A gilt-framed mirror bigger than any of the walls of his room on base. He’s pretty sure the refresher alone is bigger than his whole room back on D’Qar. He’s never seen anything like it...
At least until they go next door to Finn’s room. Poe’s seen cargo bays smaller. BB-8 is there waiting for them, gleaming and probably looking better than the day she was manufactured. She rolls up to them screeching, and Poe’s sure even Finn can tell that BB-8 is demanding to know what is going on. Finn looks like he’s verging on the edge of hysteria, so when the butler asks where they’d like lunch brought, Poe answers for both of them that they’d like it in the Prince’s bedroom, since there’s a dining area and everything.
The butler leaves with a “Very good, Sir,” and finally they’re alone for this first time since this madness started. They look around the room, look at each other, and then Poe starts laughing, doubled over, clutching at his sides and unable to stop.
“You’re supposed to pinch me, right?” Finn asks, sounding concerned. “That’s what you do when you think you might be sleeping or dead or something, right?”
Poe is unable to do anything of the sort, too concerned with getting a full breath in, but a yelp a few seconds later confirms that BB-8 was able to oblige Finn.
“Thanks, BB-8,” Finn says, and folds himself down on the ground to sit next to the little droid. “So apparently, I’m not dreaming and I’m a long lost prince,” he explains, sounding bewildered. “This is where I was stolen from when the First Order took me.”
BB-8 coos in awe at him.
“You look very nice, by the way,” Finn says, and BB-8 twitters proudly and twirls.
Poe finally collapses down on the carpet next to the two of them, breathing heavily and wiping the tears from his eyes. “Sorry,” he pants. “Apparently I laugh when I’m losing my mind.” Stars, even the carpet is luxurious. Feels like he’s laying on a cloud. He wonders what the mattress on the bed is like.
“Poe, they’re really nice,” Finn says, digging his fingers into the pile of the carpet.
“Yeah, they are,” Poe agrees. “You’re really lucky.”
“This is all just so… big,” Finn says, and Poe knows he’s not talking about the room.
“Yeah,” Poe agrees seriously. “Is anything at all familiar?”
Finn shakes his head. “I think this used to be my old room, though,” he says, pointing to a large toy chest over by the window. “Look, there’s a bunch of toys there.”
Poe nods his head encouragingly. “You should go look. Toys can be really important to kids. I had a toy X-wing that my mother got me when I was, like, three. I’d still know it anywhere. Every scratch. Maybe a favorite old toy might trigger something,” he suggests. “Help you remember.”
Finn nods and climbs to his feet. BB-8 rolls with him, and the two of them start sorting through the contents of the chest. Finn laughs after a moment and BB-8 chirps and Poe pushes himself up to investigate.
“What did you find? Something you remember?” he asks, peering over Finn’s shoulder.
“No, but look!” he offers out a child’s toy soldier, only this one isn’t ground forces. “It looks like you!”
BB-8 chirps again, and sure enough, the little toy is painted with the orange flightsuit of what must be a Rebellion pilot. “This better have been your favorite,” Poe teases, shaking it at him scoldingly before setting the little figure on the windowsill.
Outside the window it’s a beautiful sunny day and the gardens surrounding the palace are in full bloom. For a moment, he thinks there are gardens outside the palace grounds as well, but then he realizes that hundreds-- maybe thousands!-- of people are leaving flowers at the palace fence. Now that he’s noticed them, he can faintly hear them cheering. He swears at the shock of it and Finn looks up at him questioningly and then looks out the window. Poe can see him making the same connections he just did.
“Oh, right,” Finn says, sounding faint. “I have subjects.”
“We need advice,” Poe says firmly after a moment, pushing his fingers through his hair. “Serious, serious advice. When the food comes, I’m going to ask for access to a comm suite and I’ll contact the General.”
“Do you think she’ll know what to do?” Finn asks, still frowning faintly out the window at the sea of flowers. The traffic around the palace is gridlocked.
Poe chuckles. “Believe it or not, she used to be a princess.”
The food comes a few minutes later, a selection of local delicacies and planetary cuisine, clearly another attempt to trigger Finn’s memory. It comes on silver trays and the drinks come in crystal decanters and the utensils are all gold. Poe glances over at Finn. It wasn’t that long ago he’d only had protein bars and nutrient drinks to choose from. Food itself is kind of a new thing for him and this is even overwhelming to Poe who manages to go out for a nice dinner every now and again.
He distracts the servers from Finn’s impending freakout by asking about a comm suite, and of course there’s one in his room. Why wouldn’t there be? It’s got everything else. Hell, the balcony is probably his own personal landing pad.
He escorts the servers out, leaving he and Finn alone again and comes over to squeeze Finn’s shoulder as he sits at the table, a feast in front of him. “How you doin’, buddy?”
“I’m freaking out,” Finn says. He’s staring at all the food as if it might attack.
“You don’t have to eat everything, and you don’t have to try anything that doesn’t look good, but food will actually help with the freakout. You haven’t eaten since early this morning,” Poe says. “I’m going to run next door and contact the General. I’ll be as quick as I can. While I’m gone, just put three things on your plate and fill up your glass with whatever beverage looks the best, and just eat that. Take it over to another part of the room if you have to. Don’t let the rest of the food overwhelm you, okay?”
“Okay,” Finn responds, and bites his lip as he looks over the food, looking for his three things.
“BB-8 is gonna stay here and keep you company, and will come get me if anything’s wrong. Right BB-8?”
The droid chirps an affirmative and with that Poe leaves to the guest room next door, finds the comm station (the screen is hidden behind a vast mirror that moves out of the way when a button is pressed) and dials the General.
“Commander. News already?” The General looks surprised to hear from him and has a neutral expression on her face that could easily go in either direction she needs it to: ‘Pleasantly surprised’ or ‘How could you kriff this up already!?’
Poe scrubs at his face with his hands. “General,” he says, drawing the word out because he’s not actually sure what he should say next. “First of all, you’re not going to believe it, but everything I’m going to say is absolutely true.”
“Dameron, you are not instilling me with confidence,” she says dryly. He can see people in the background of the war room looking up at the screen with interest and he winces.
Poe takes a deep breath. “Finn’s a long lost prince, the heir to the throne of Yantu, and I’m calling you from the palace. Where we’re staying.”
The General pinches the bridge of her nose. “You don’t do things by half-measures, do you, Poe?” When she pulls her hand away from her face, though, she’s smiling a little. “Still, I imagine they’re pretty grateful.”
“Very!” Poe says. “The King and Queen of Yantu are incredibly kind and are being really gentle with Finn, or Eli, I guess I should say-- that’s his real name-- because he is really overwhelmed right now… but I was expecting to meet with, like, a lower cabinet minister and now I’m living at the palace, and neither of us really knows what to do.”
The General looks thoughtful and taps her fingers against her lip for a moment before speaking again. “I do know a little something about living in a palace,” she says, smiling gently at him, “so I’m going to send you some help on the fastest transport we have. Just keep your head above water for a day or two and the cavalry will arrive.”
When Poe comes back into the room, he finds Finn sitting on the edge of the bed with a plate, BB-8 parked at his feet. “How’s the food?” Poe asks.
“Really good,” Finn says enthusiastically. “Is the General going to come teach me how to be a prince?”
“I don’t know,” Poe answers, picking up his own plate and looking at the spread on the table. “She said she was sending help, though. Should be here in a day or two, whoever it is. Sound good?” He looks up in time to see Finn nod in response. “Okay, what three things did you try here?”
“What?” Poe looks up with a frown, not understanding.
“This is my second plate full,” Finn says sheepishly. He scrapes a golden fork across his plate to pick up the last bite of food and polishes it off, and then hops off the bed to walk back towards the dining table. “Coming back for seven, eight, and nine.”
Poe laughs. “Guess you were hungry. Okay, show me what’s good.”
Finn points out his new favorites and puts three new things on his plate. Poe tries two of Finn’s favorites and two things he hasn’t tried yet. They go back and sit on the edge of the bed side by side. It’s ridiculous, considering there are about 15 chairs in the room and four suitable tables, and they have to lean over their plates on their laps, but somehow sitting in a completely inappropriate place is completely appropriate for them.
Poe pops some sort of savory puff pastry in his mouth and chews. It is easily the best thing he has ever tasted. “By the seven moons and all the twinkly little stars!” he moans, covering his mouth with his hand as he finishes chewing.
Finn laughs, looking over at him. “Good, right?” His eyes are crinkled up and his grin is huge, and Poe is so glad he’s not scared anymore. “Here, try this!” Finn loads up his own fork with a piece of a filet from his plate and offers it out.
Poe opens his mouth and takes the bite. It’s even better. “Prince Finn, if all the food is this good here, I won’t be able to fit in the cockpit of my X-Wing when I get back home!”
Finn chuckles a little, but it doesn’t reach his eyes like before and Poe frowns, trying to make a guess at why. “Should I…” Poe licks his lips. “Would you prefer if I called you Eli? I suppose I should now. Sorry.”
Finn, or Eli, frowns, and puts his fork down on his plate. “I don’t know. I mean, I suppose you probably should…”
Poe raises an eyebrow. “But?” he prompts.
“But I don’t feel like Eli. I don’t know who Eli is. In my head, I’m still Finn. I like the name Finn.”
“Then I’ll call you Finn,” Poe says with a smile.
“Is that allowed?”
“Why not? Eli’s already a nickname for Elias. Finn can just be another one.”
Finn frowns. “I don’t have to have a nickname that’s just the short version of my legal name?”
Poe laughs. “What do you think Snap’s legal name is?”
“I thought his name was Snap!”
Poe laughs so hard, he almost drops his plate. “His name is Temmin!” he exclaims, wiping at his eyes.
Finn makes a face. “I prefer Snap.”
“Yeah, so does he. That’s the point.” Poe grins. “Whatever you want me to call you, I’ll call you.”
“I like Finn,” Finn says, and picks up his fork again.
“Not Your Royal Highness?” Poe teases, grinning broadly.
“No!” Finn says, making a face.
“Not Your Worship?”
“Ugh,” Finn manages around a mouthful of food.
“My Leige!” Poe says, and bows low over his plate.
“Please stop!” Finn begs, even though he’s fighting a grin.
“How about buddy?” Poe asks, unable to help the honest smile tipping up the corners of his mouth.
Finn clearly wasn’t expecting it, and his grin softens back to a smile. “Yeah, I guess buddy’s all right too,” he says, and gently checks his shoulder into Poe’s as they go back to eating.
“Well, buddy,” Poe says, a few moments later, offering out his fork, “you have got to try some of this.”
They eat until they can barely move, and suddenly despite the excitement of the day and it being the middle of the afternoon, nothing in the world sounds better than a nice long sleep. After some stumbling around Finn’s cavernous room, they find the button that calls the servants back in to take the food away so they can’t do any more damage to themselves.
When the servants do arrive, Finn makes them promise to try all the leftovers, and they promise him that it won’t go to waste with a polite smile. Then he asks them to please thank whoever made it and they assure him they will, as the trays finally go out the door.
“Alright,” Poe says, once they’ve left. “I am going to go next door. I am going to sleep like the dead. I’m going to shower. I’m going to see if I still fit into my nice clothes, and then I guess I’ll meet you for dinner, even though I never really want to see food again at this point.” Poe runs his hands through his hair drowsily. He’s been through five hour fighter battles before that took less out of him. Who knew sitting and talking and eating could be so exhausting? “Sound good?”
“Sounds good,” Finn says back, blinking heavily, and as he leaves Poe wonders if he’ll even manage to get underneath the covers.
Back in his much smaller, but still ridiculous room, Poe takes one look at the sheets on the bed and decides to have his shower first because it would a crime to get them dirty. And it’s all ridiculous. Everything’s ridiculous. The sheets cost more than his X-Wing, the shower has four shower heads, and all the hundred tiny soaps smell richly of exotic plants he’s never heard of. He should be chafing against every inch of it-- hell, he can barely wear his dress uniform without tugging the collar so much it gets bent out of shape and it’s still technically a pilot’s uniform-- but somehow, because this is all about Finn, he doesn’t mind so much. He’s glad that someone who’s had it so rough, but is still so kind, gets all of this now. And he can almost convince himself that he’s won a prize for some crazy luxury holiday, if he thinks about it right. In fact, when he thinks about it in that light, he remembers that Jess will be so insanely jealous when she hears about it, that he decides to start taking mental notes and trying to enjoy himself in order to properly report back to her.
He’s standing in the middle of the spacious refresher trying to come up with a proper adjective for the towels (‘Luxurious?’ ‘Heavenly?’ He’s not great with words) when he hears something from his bedroom.
“Poe?” Finn is calling for him, from his own bedroom. He wraps himself in a towel and pokes his head out of the ‘fresher door.
“Finn? What’s wrong?”
Finn doesn’t look upset or anything, but he does look mildly embarrassed. “My room is big and quiet.”
“Yeah?” Poe asks, and then realizes Finn’s probably never slept in a room by himself before. Even recovering from his wounds after Starkiller Base there’d always been a med droid in there with him. “BB-8 not enough company?” he asks.
BB-8 twitters from behind the bed and then rolls around to stop by Finn’s feet. “Oh, we’re all in here now. Okay,” Poe says, laughing. He’s gotta admit it’s a little weird to be in a room as big as his, too. “Toss me my bag and I’ll be out in a minute,” he says, gesturing to where one of the footmen neatly stacked all his belongings.
Finn obligingly goes to get it and hands it over. “You smell different,” Finn says, and Poe can’t help but laugh.
“Yeah, you’ll smell different too, after a shower in here. I have never seen this much fancy soap in my life.” Poe grins and ducks away with his bag, shutting the door in Finn’s face. “Out in a second!” he calls through the door.
He digs through his bag, finds his sleep pants and a shirt, and once he’s changed, pads back into the bedroom to find Finn sitting on the edge of his bed. “Have you ever slept in a room without someone else snoring in it?” Poe asks, coming over.
Finn starts to shake his head, but then remembers where he is. “Apparently I did when I was a kid,” he says, throwing a hand out to indicate the room next door. He pushes himself to his feet. “Is it okay if I sleep on the couch over there?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Poe says, and hurries on so Finn doesn’t think he’s chiding him for being in the room at all. “I could land a freighter on this mattress. If you sleep on the far side, we might as well be on different planets.” Poe walks around to the other side and gives the mattress a firm prod with his hand. “Unless it's too soft, ‘cause then we’ll both be sleeping on the floor.” He tugs the covers back from his corner of the bed and climbs in, and of course it’s not too soft. Of course it’s absolutely perfect. Not what he’s used to, but not so different that it’s uncomfortable.
Finn makes a satisfied noise on the other side of the bed. “What do you think these sheets are made of?” he asks, sounding awed.
“I don’t think I make enough credits to even know the answer to that question, let alone afford it.” Poe chuckles. “You’re kinda rich now, Finn.”
Finn rolls over to look at him and grins. “Know any freedom fighters who could use some credits?”
“I might know one or two,” he grins. This one stupid little trip, to one planet, is going to solve everyone’s problems. Finn found his family and will have everything he needs for the rest of his life, Poe is going to have bragging rights forever in the pilot’s lounge and might actually get made a duke or something, and the General is going to get her funds. Hell, if he can get Finn to get the King and Queen onboard with actually joining the Resistance instead of just contributing, she might actually get a few more squadrons. Any local military that can chase off a Star Destroyer is certainly welcome in his fleet.
There is a sad bleeping from Poe’s side of the bed and he rolls over to see BB-8 looking up at him mournfully. “You can’t need a charge already?” he asks, incredulous.
BB-8 shakes her head and beeps at him, rolling back and forth by the edge of the bed.
“You want up here too?”
BB-8 beeps an affirmative. He can hear Finn laughing quietly on the other side of the bed.
Poe sighs deeply. “No matter what, this will not be the most ridiculous thing I’ve done today,” he says, and leans over to get his arms under BB-8’s ball and hoist her onto the bed.
BB-8 trills a cheer, rolls up and down the middle of the bed, bounces a bit as if she’s testing the mattress herself, and then settles herself at the foot of the bed between them with a contented binary sigh.
Poe honestly can’t complain about Resistance accommodations. They’re more comfortable than they have to be, really, and he’s never felt they kept him from performing his best, but usually when he wakes up after a post-meal nap in the middle of the day he feels like he’s died. His mouth tastes terrible, he’s sluggish, he feels vaguely nauseous, and he can’t get his eyes fully open until about five cups of the strongest caf he can find.
None of this is currently the case. He feels fantastic.
He stretches a little and BB-8 trills quietly at him.
“Shh. Finn’s still asleep,” he whispers.
“No, I’m not. I just don’t want to move ever again,” Finn says, sounding slightly muffled by a pillow. “I feel like I’m back in zero gravity training-- but just the weightless part, not the getting sick part.”
“I feel like this mattress is imbued with the Force itself, and has mystical properties that we mere mortals are not worthy of,” Poe says, and Finn laughs at him. He grins back. “I just want you to know, I am stealing this mattress when I leave. I don’t think it’ll fit through the door of my room, but if I have to sleep in the hangar, so be it.”
The response from the other side of the bed is more subdued than Poe thought it would be. “How long do you think you can stay?” Finn asks quietly.
Oh. Right. When Poe goes back to the Resistance, Finn will probably stay here. Forever. Poe supposes he can come visit on his leave time, and maybe Finn might like to come visit him on Yavin Four once or twice, but it certainly won’t be the same. Funny how they haven’t really known each other for all that long but it feels like they’ve known each other forever. Poe scratches the back of his neck as he thinks. “Well, I have to make sure you’re settled, and then work out some sort of arrangement with your government,”-- and isn’t that a weird thing to have to say?-- “and I imagine that’ll take a while. A week or two at least, and the General’s help might not be getting here for two days yet, so nothing can really happen before that does.”
“Okay,” Finn says, sounding only slightly mollified.
“Come on!” Poe coaxes. He tries to reach across the bed to poke Finn in the arm, but doesn’t quite reach and has to slide over a bit to finally do it. It’s a really big bed. “You won’t even have time to miss me. You’re going to be so busy, meeting your people, and learning how to run your planet, and getting to know your parents! I’m sure there’s Prince School that you have to go to.”
“Prince School?” Finn snorts.
“Yeah. Manners and dancing and which fork to use and how to keep your ego small enough so your crown fits on your big head,” he teases, poking at his arm again, and Finn bats his hand away.
“Stop it,” Finn says, trying to frown at him but failing miserably, as BB-8 rolls between them, twittering. “What time is it?”
Poe stops harassing him and turns over his shoulder to look at the chrono. “Plenty of time before dinner, I think. Time enough for you to get a shower, and then we should probably change into our nicest clothes for dinner. Might have time to explore the palace a bit if we can find someone to be our guide.”
“Yeah, alright.” Finn says, and with the deepest of sighs, climbs out of bed, as Poe somehow finds it within himself to do the same.
“I’d offer you my ‘fresher, but yours is probably even better,” Poe says, stretching out the kinks and turning up all the lights again. He helps BB-8 off the bed, and she beeps her thanks.
“Okay,” Finn agrees easily, picking up his boots from where he left them by the bed. “You should come over, though, whenever you’re ready, and we’ll figure out what to do next.”
Poe hadn’t packed his dress uniform because some cultures found military dress a threat. It was just easier to have a nice civilian outfit he could wear to all the occasions he could foresee. He honestly hadn’t foreseen this, but Finn doesn’t have much in the way of proper attire for a royal dinner either, so at least Poe won’t be the only one underdressed.
He’s only about half-way into it when there’s a knock at his door. He laughs. “You can’t possibly have showered already!” he says as he opens it, only to find a servant there instead. He blinks at her.
“Prince Elias has requested your presence in his rooms,” she says seriously, with a little curtsey, and Poe honestly has to remind himself who she’s talking about at first, since he’d put Finn’s ‘real’ name entirely out of his mind once Finn said he preferred Finn.
“I’ll be right there,” he says, and ducks back into his room to fasten the closures on his shirt and step into his dress boots before running next door to see what’s the matter.
Finn has actually managed to shower already, but then he’d mentioned before that First Order cleaning had to take place in a matter of a few minutes, so Poe supposes he shouldn’t be surprised, even if he hopes Finn will get to the point someday where he can luxuriate in a shower. Especially one as nice as the one undoubtedly in his rooms. Poe calls out a greeting to him to catch his attention. “Hey, Finn.”
Finn is also in the process of getting dressed for dinner, but not in the clothes he brought with him. He’s already wearing those. “Hi, Poe,” he says, trying to sound happy when he’s clearly a little overwhelmed again. “They brought me clothes.”
“I can see that,” Poe says, coming over to investigate. Two of the household staff have brought in a large rack of options and have stayed to help Finn pick some. There are plenty of the thigh-length, immaculately embroidered jackets he’d noticed before in a rainbow of colors, along with close-fitting pants and tailored shirts to go under the jackets. “This is a conspiracy to make me look underdressed, isn’t it?” he grins.
“You could probably borrow something?” he asks, turning his head to raise a questioning eyebrow to the female assistant. She’s holding a white jacket with silver and blue swirling, complex designs embroidered along the cuffs, high collar, and front opening and is looking between it and Finn appraisingly. BB-8 seems to like it, judging by her affirmative bleeping. “It’s not like you haven’t offered me clothes before.” Finn shrugs a little and smiles, and it’s good to see him starting to settle again.
“That is very true,” Poe agrees, “but I’m fine. Unless dressing like this will insult your parents?” he checks.
The young man who is at the other end of the rack turns his head to take in what he’s wearing. “As an offworlder, it is allowable,” he says, and then turns back to his perusal of the shirts.
“Thanks.” He isn’t sure if that’s a backhanded compliment or not. “There, see?” He addresses Finn, “I’m an offworlder, but you’re a local.” He grins again. “Honestly, I’m a little excited to meet the Prince… rather than ‘that guy I know who steals my clothes’.”
Finn looks down at what he’s currently wearing. “Is this your shirt too?” Finn asks, sheepishly.
“Pretty sure that’s my shirt, yeah,” Poe laughs. “But, hey, if stolen clothes look good on you, I can’t wait to see how the clothes you’re supposed to be wearing look.”
Poe glances up to see the two assistants seem to have come to some sort of decision, but it makes him frown. “Hey, add a little color, maybe?” he suggests. He’s no fashionista, but he’s pretty sure he’s right on this point. “Finn doesn’t like stark black and white.”
Poe thinks about going back to his own room to give Finn a little privacy while he changes, but really, just going over to stand by the window probably puts more distance between them, so he does that instead. This way, he can hear Finn if he shouts. BB-8 rolls over to the window with him.
Outside the window the sky is starting to dim, but people are still standing outside the palace gates. The sea of flowers must be near to blocking the entire street out there, and it touches him in a way he can’t really describe to see perfect strangers thinking as highly of Finn as he does. It feels right. However much it’s starting to hurt to realize that Poe is going to have to leave at some point and Finn is going to stay here, it makes it easier knowing he is staying someplace he is already so loved so much that it can probably be seen from space.
“What do you think, BB-8? You think you could live in a palace like this forever?” he murmurs, keeping his voice low. There’s no way Finn could hear it across the room.
BB-8 twirls and beeps the affirmative.
He laughs. “You’re a little short for a protocol droid.” He reaches down to pat BB-8’s dome. “Could you really stay down here and never see the stars again?”
There’s a mournful little ‘oh’ at that.
“Yeah,” Poe agrees, nodding his head a little. “I think we’re both built for different things.”
BB-8 gently bumps into his shins, and coos at him.
“Oh, absolutely. It’s a very nice vacation. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen you scrubbed up so nice. All the other astromechs will be very jealous when you get back to base.”
BB-8 twirls again.
“You think I could scrub up like that?”
BB-8 gives him an appraising hoot.
“Yeah, I dunno. I think even six showerheads couldn’t get the engine oil out from under my nails. I think one of Finn’s jackets on me would look like a kid playing dress-up.”
There’s a optimistic hoot from his knees, and he looks down in time to see BB-8 do a little dance.
“Yeah, maybe. It could be fun anyway.”
“Poe?” Finn calls, and Poe lifts his head to look towards him. “So. Uh. How do I look?”
It hits him like a blast from a TIE-fighter, like he’s been thrown against his safety harness, and it takes him a moment to recover and catch his breath. For the first time, it feels a little sacrilegious to call him Finn. He’s a prince, and all those games Poe’s been playing in his head, comparing Finn to his father, or imagining what Finn would be like if he’d grown up here, they don’t come close to seeing the real thing actually standing in front of him. He feels a ridiculous urge to bow. Instead he just tries to walk across the room to him, as normal as he can. “You look good,” he says at last, voice sounding a bit tight. “A lot better than in my old hand-me-downs.”
BB-8 gives an appreciative whistle.
Finn squirms, and tugs at the high collar of the green jacket he’s wearing. “I don’t know,” he says, “You’re sure it’s not silly? I think I’d rather be in your shirt.”
Poe rolls his eyes at him and crosses the last bit of space between them. “Well, it does start to look silly if you’re making a face like you’re neck deep in a Dagobah bog.” He slaps Finn’s hand down from the collar and pulls the jacket’s strong shoulders straight. “This can’t be more uncomfortable than Stormtrooper armor.”
“It’s not,” Finn says, frowning, “but I got really used to the way the armor was uncomfortable. This is all new.”
“You’ll get used to this too,” Poe says, smiling kindly. “Or used to this again, I guess.” He brushes invisible lint off the sleeve of the jacket. “I absolutely believe, you know. There’s not a doubt in my heart that you’re a prince and that you belong here. I know it’s all new, but so was the Resistance and you adapted and fit in there in no time. This is going to be even easier, because you’re surrounded by people who love you.”
Finn’s smiling gratefully at him, and it’s becoming a moment, so Poe does what he needs to to end it, poking him in the ribs with his finger. “Just, stand up straight!”
Finn flinches away, grinning, but then does as commanded, snapping to attention. “Not First Order straight,” he corrects, pushing at Finn’s back. “You keep your shoulders that far back in this jacket and the weight of all that gold embroidery will send you onto your ass. Just, attentive and in command straight. General Organa straight.”
“Right,” Finn says, adjusting his stance. “It’s really hard to think of her as a princess.”
“Only because your definition of ‘princess’ is too narrow, I think.” Poe smiles. A knock on the door interrupts them, and they both look at it expectantly. “Guess it’s time for dinner?” Poe suggests.
“Come in!” Finn calls, instead of going to the door, and Poe thinks he’s maybe getting a handle on this prince thing already.
The door opens, but it’s not a servant come to call them downstairs, but rather the Queen herself. Poe swallows and gives a hesitant bow. He really needs someone to lay this all out for him. He has no idea where “Buddy of the Crown Prince” puts him in the hierarchy of things.
“I thought I would come myself to see how you were doing,” she says, graciously ignoring the rough state of Poe’s bow. “It’s hard for me to believe that you’re really here, so waiting for dinner to come was taking too long.” She steps into the room and crosses the distance to them in her graceful, floating stride. “Oh, Eli. You look so like your father when he was your age,” she says, placing her hands on the shoulders of his jacket and admiring him. She leans closer to kiss him as she had before, once on each cheek and his forehead.
Finn bites at his lip. “Would it…” he starts hesitantly. “Do you think you and the King could maybe call me Finn?” he asks, and Poe chokes on air. It’s one thing for him to call Finn by the nickname he gave him, but asking the King and Queen to do the same? He feels like, somehow, somewhere, the General is looking at him disapprovingly.
“Would that make you more comfortable?” the Queen asks kindly and Finn nods. “I will speak to the King and we will do our best to remember,” she says. “I suppose it is very hard to feel like a name from so long ago is yours. This new one has been with you longer.”
Poe manfully keeps from choking again, but his eyes are watering. Thankfully, Finn does not make clear just how long he’s been answering to Finn.
“Finn, then,” the Queen says, and Finn beams at her. “I can see that it suits you as well.” She turns to take in Poe with her regal gaze, and Poe doesn’t think he’s ever so worried about his appearance and not offending anyone in his life. “And friend Poe, are you comfortable here?”
“Yes. Very. Thank you,” he says, and then adds, “Ma’am,” just in case. That’s safe, right?
She chuckles, but it doesn’t feel like she’s laughing at him, but that he’s somehow been extra charming. She is a very talented diplomat, indeed. He should really try to take some of this in if the General is going to send him around on these sorts of errands. “You may call me Astrid, if you like, Poe.”
Poe opens his mouth for a long moment before words come out. “I really don’t think I could.”
She laughs again. “We still have time before dinner. If you like, I could show you around the palace?” she offers.
“I’d really like that,” Finn says.
Poe almost says something like, “if you’re sure you don’t have anything better to do”, but thinks better of it when he sees the Queen beaming at Finn. Of course she has nothing better to do than to see her own son for the first time in so long. He swallows, and suddenly misses his own mother fiercely in a way he hasn’t for a decade or more.
“Come then,” she says, that queenly smile for the first time turning into a grin, as she offers out her hand to her son. Finn takes it instantly, of course he does, and Poe turns to beckon BB-8 along with them, so that he has someone to walk with, only Finn’s free hand reaches out and snatches his to drag him along.
It must look absolutely ridiculous, Poe thinks, three adults holding hands like children in a school group so they don’t get lost, but then everything in this palace has been ridiculous so far, so what’s one more thing, really? Besides, Finn looks so happy between Poe and his mother.
“Has anything struck you as familiar?” The Queen is asking Finn, hope in her eyes.
“Not really,” Finn says, making a face because he knows his answer will disappoint her, and he clearly doesn’t want to. “The food was all delicious, but I don’t think that was because I remembered it. Just that it was good. Poe ate a lot too, and he’s never been here before.”
She sighs. “Your father and I have been speaking with all the best doctors, all afternoon,” she explains. “Your father is still with them. They all say that your memories could return immediately, or they could return with time, or they could never return.” She looks sad. “I hate thinking that you’ll never recall how much you were loved as a boy, but you were so small. I am so sorry for what happened to you. That we couldn’t protect you.”
She looks so sad, and for the first time, small, in a way that seems so wrong. Poe can’t help himself. “He can’t remember details, but he has to remember something,” Poe insists. “If you really knew what he’s done-- he completely defeated over 15 years of First Order programming, he’s risked his life for others, trusts in people with his whole heart, and loves his friends fiercely. Despite everything, he remembers love, so that has to start with you.” Poe feels a little embarrassed after saying all that, but Finn squeezes his hand and the Queen looks at him with gratitude, so maybe it wasn’t so bad after all.
“My son,” she says. “To grow into such a man with only dim memories to guide you. You are special indeed. I am so glad you have found us again.”
The mood lifts after that, and she leads them through ballrooms and bedrooms, describes the symbolism carved into the thrones and explains each of the portraits that hang in the gallery. They step into the garden last, and though they keep close to the palace, and though night has fallen, they can hear the cheering from the palace fence. It’s a dull roar that every once in awhile resolves itself to a chant of “Eli! Eli!”
The Queen smiles faintly. “We lost much in the battle against the First Order,” she says, leading them down a path that threads through some of the most stunning flowers Poe’s ever seen. The two moons of Yantu are rising together, and illuminate the garden in silvery light. “Many were killed, either in the fighting, or during the First Order’s bombing campaigns that targeted civilians. Industry and infrastructure was destroyed. Losing the heir felt like a sign to many people that the future of the planet was gone. But we did rebuild. We cultivated allies in trade, we developed new industries and technologies, the Parliament made bold decisions in a time of crisis, and now we are a more prosperous planet than we were when we began. Your return has seemed a sign that the work is finally done. The people are eager to celebrate both your return and to congratulate themselves for their resiliency at long last.” At the end of the path she leads them to a beautiful tall weeping tree with large white flowers that catch the light from the two moons so well they glow from within. “See? Your arrival is very auspicious,” she says. “To have the tree in full bloom during the time of a double moonrise, it happens only rarely.”
Finn drops both of their hands to examine it more closely. “What kind of tree is this?”
“We call it a starfall,” the Queen says. “We think it only grows on our world.”
Poe can see why it was named, a slight breeze dislodges a few of the petals, and they fall twinkling to the grass around them. “I’ve been to a lot of planets, ma’am,” Poe says in awe, “and I’ve never seen anything like this.”
“Poe! Come here!” Finn calls. He’s leaning against the trunk of the tree and staring up into the branches.
Poe goes obligingly, parting the drooping branches to get to him, and looks up, BB-8 trailing after him. He laughs, and looks down at BB-8. “Well, you said you missed being among the stars...” he murmurs at her and looks back up again. The flowers are visible through the branches and standing here, looking up, is like free-floating at the center of a galaxy. Poe doesn’t think he’s ever seen anything more beautiful as another breeze sends a cascade of shooting stars down around them.
He feels bad, staying as long as they do, looking up with the Queen standing patiently waiting for them, but he feels like he might never see something this beautiful again, and just this once he’s allowed to be selfish. Even BB-8 seems to enjoy it, rolling around and picking up fallen petals to examine closely through her sensors.
Eventually Finn sighs, however, and says, “We should go,” and though Poe can’t help feeling a little jealous that Finn will have this tree in his backyard for the rest of his life, he has to agree they’ve been here long enough. They make their way out, and Poe reaches out and plucks a clinging petal off of Finn’s new jacket. Finn notices and smiles and then reaches up and brushes his hand through Poe’s hair.
“Stardust,” Finn explains with a grin.
Poe sees stars fall away from him out of the corner of his eye as his breath catches in his throat, and he wonders why he feels so dizzy despite having both his boots so firmly planted on the ground.
There are lots of tiny golden forks at dinner, and multiple glasses. It’s everything Poe’s feared, but the King and Queen are generally focused on Finn, and Finn is not afraid to ask questions so Poe alternates between flying under the radar and and getting the correct answers from Finn just before he needs them.
The food is just as good as before, although, thank the stars, there’s less of it, and Poe’s just taking a big bite of some sort of roast when the King directs his attention to him. “Poe, you’ve been very good sharing all the information you have about our son, Finn.” The King and Queen have been saying Finn’s name in almost every sentence at dinner, like they’re trying very hard to commit it to memory. “Can we ask what brought you here?”
Poe’s eyes go a bit wide and makes sure to take the time to chew his bite completely and then pat at his mouth with his napkin before speaking. He’s not quite sure where to go with this. “I’m Commander Poe Dameron, here on behalf of the Resistance and General Organa. We’re doing well against the First Order-- I don’t know if you heard about Starkiller Base, but your son was instrumental in its destruction.” He smiles over at Finn. Finn’s practically blushing at the sudden attention and pride of his parents again. “We could always use more allies, however. It will take the whole Galaxy, united, to destroy the First Order once and for all.” He’s not sure how much shop he should talk at the table, so he gets to the point. “I was sent to find more worlds to help with the cause. Finn couldn’t remember anything from before the First Order, so we did a genetic scan to get a best guess at his homeworld, and the computer pointed us here. Seemed like a good place to start. The plan was to first ask around and see if we could find any clues about Finn’s past, and then I would see if I could get an appointment with some under-secretary somewhere to talk about joining the Resistance.” He shrugs. “Step one has worked amazingly well.”
Finn laughs, covering his mouth with his hand.
“Well, Commander,” the King says, using his title, and Poe’s not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. “We’ve always been a fiercely independent system. We have economic partners, of course, very strong trade routes, but our people want to decide their own future-- we remember the political infighting of the First Republic and want nothing to do with it.”
Poe nods. “I can absolutely understand that,” he says, even as Finn looks like he wants to say something in protest.
“However, I think this planet also knows too well the destruction the First Order can bring. If only we’d had some military allies, perhaps Finn would never have been lost to us.”
The Queen steeples her hands in front of her. “We have a very strong military. We were able to fight them off. But I think we can all see that with every system they defeat, they only get stronger. Who’s to say we would win should they try again? What if they bring more than a single Star Destroyer next time?”
“Better to defeat them at the Core before they ever make it to the Rim,” the King says, nodding. “This is a Constitutional Monarchy. My wife and I cannot unilaterally say yes, but we can arrange for you to have meetings with the appropriate members of Parliament-- far better than under-secretaries. The rest will be up to you.”
Poe nods, grateful. “Thank you, very much. That’s more than I was hoping for.”
“It’s the least we can do, for your help bringing Finn to us,” says the Queen. “But if there is anything else you would like, you can always ask for it.”
Poe bites his lip. There is something else that he wants, but he’s not sure if he’s allowed. Still, he’s never going to get a better opening. “I don’t know if it’s a military secret, or anything, but I would love to be able to see the ships that drove off a Star Destroyer,” he says, leaning forward eagerly. “There was no information at all about them in the Resistance database and I’m incredibly curious.”
The King smiles a little at that. “Know something about ships, do you?”
Poe’s about to answer, when Finn beats him to it. “He’s the best pilot in the Galaxy! He can fly anything!” Poe doesn’t know whether to laugh or blush and hide under the table.
“You’re a pilot!” The King says in response and somehow, even though Poe had hand delivered their long-lost son, it’s like his worth has suddenly gone up even higher in their eyes. “I’m something of a flier myself,” he says, casually, and Poe glances at the King’s hands. The ships of Yantu may have a completely different control system, but he recognises steering control calluses when he sees them. He should have noticed before.
Poe arches an eyebrow. “It’s not just pleasure craft you’re flying,” he says confidently.
The King grins back at him. “I did think it was a little strange for someone on a ‘diplomatic mission’ to have an astromech following him around.” He puts his hands flat on the table in front of him. “So what do you fly then?”
Poe laughs out loud. Just like that, a royal dinner with too many forks has devolved into a couple of pilots in a canteen comparing engines. “T70 X-Wing mostly,” he says. “Do you see many of them out here?”
“I’m more familiar with the T65Bs, of course. We’re isolated enough that it takes a while for the newer ships to come through that aren’t just cargo or passenger freighters.”
“There’s a T85 now. I flew one with the New Republic. Which, you know, of course the Republic is going to have the newer ships, compared to the Resistance, but I really prefer the T70. The T85s get this shimmy coming out of hyperspace that they have never managed to figure out…” he trails off, glancing around at his dinner companions that are not the King. “Sorry, maybe I should save the shop talk for later.”
“It’s my own fault for encouraging a pilot,” says the King. “I know what we’re like.” The Queen reaches out her hand to him across the table as if she’s forgiving him and loves him anyway and the King takes it with a smile. “Still, I look forward to see what you make of our little Raptors. They’re nothing like an X-Wing, that’s for sure.”
“This might be a lot to ask, but I’d love to take one up, if that can be arranged. I mean, I learned on my mom’s A-Wing, so I’m comfortable with a more compact engine arrangement, if that’s the case.”
“And he flew a TIE Fighter!” Finn says, and Poe’s again not sure if he wants to be pleased or embarrassed.
“I think that can be arranged,” says the King, “if you can keep up.”
Poe loves a good challenge.
Dinner goes late into the evening, and Poe manages to contain himself until he gets back to his room, but his brain is buzzing. Finn follows him into his room and once the door closes he can’t help but to grab Finn by the shoulders and spin him around excitedly. “Members of Parliament and getting to fly a ship I have never even seen before?” He pushes his fingers deep into his hair and tugs, unable to believe his luck as Finn laughs at him. “I’d say it’s my lucky day, but I’ve been on a hot streak since the day I met you!”
BB-8, who has been waiting patiently in the room for them to return, gets caught up in the excitement and makes some quick circles around them both.
Finn’s still chuckling as he toes off his boots and unfastens his jacket. “Are you going to be able to sleep tonight at all?”
“I give it even odds,” Poe grins, still so thrilled he’s practically bouncing on his toes.
“Well, I am exhausted, so keep the celebrations to a dull roar, alright?” Finn asks, before groaning. “Ugh. I left my sleep clothes in the other room.” He sits heavily on the bed with a sigh and looks at the door like asking him to cross to it and go get his own clothes would be akin to asking him to walk back to D’Qar.
Poe gapes at him. “You are pathetic,” he says, marching over to his bags and digging through his luggage for his spare set of sleep clothes. The ones he wore before are folded neatly under his pillow waiting for him to change. “You just got an entire wardrobe of incredibly expensive outfits just for you and you are still stealing my clothes!”
Finn smiles sheepishly at him. “Thank you?” he offers tentatively as Poe finds what he’s looking for and holds them out. Finn looks at him for a moment and then flops out his hand like he can’t possibly move.
Poe throws the clothes at his head.
Finn just laughs and starts to change.
Poe decides he’s going to change into his sleep clothes as well, and lay down in bed and then toss and turn as much as he possibly can just to bother Finn, but the moment his back hits that blessed mattress he can’t manage much more than rolling over and falling right to sleep.
In the morning they have breakfast together, because for the first time since they left D’Qar (and probably for a few days before that, frankly), they’re going to spend almost the entire day apart. Poe has his appointments-- and BB-8 is equally excited as he is about the chance to fly a new ship. She’s been spinning in excited circles since Poe told her the details this morning-- and Finn has day one of Prince School, with the intention of stuffing him full of as much history, civics and manners as possible before his official coronation in a few days.
Poe’s both looking forward to and dreading the coronation. On the one hand, Finn’s quickly become his best friend, and an entire planet throwing a party to celebrate his very best friend is the best thing ever! On the other hand, it marks the moment when their paths will have to diverge irrevocably. From that first moment in the Finalizer he’d felt like he’d found a bond with Finn, and, if they survived, he felt they would always have each other in their orbits. A binary system. And then Rey added herself, and they were three. But now Rey is a Jedi, or on her way to be, and Finn is going to be a prince on a rim world, and Poe is what..? A freedom fighter? A revolutionary? In his heart, he’s just a pilot with a fast ship and a good droid. Even if someone crowns him the best one in the Galaxy, he’s still just got a ship and a droid.
Thankfully, he’s got enough planned for the day to keep him distracted, and as they part for the day after breakfast their eventual final parting is the furthest from his mind.
They don’t see each other again until just before dinner. Poe’s blood is absolutely thrumming, any anxiety over breakfast forgotten as he bursts into Finn’s room.
“Stars, Finn!” he shouts, as soon as he sees him. Finn’s sitting in an armchair, wearing a brand-new set of prince clothes, with a pile of books by his side, as if his studying isn’t quite over yet. BB-8 is only a few steps behind Poe, and twirls into the room trumpeting, equally as excited. “Those little Raptors--” He clutches at his chest. “I am in love. I am in passionate love with those ships, Finn.” The Raptors are perfect. They’re beautiful to look at, sleek as anything that ever came from Naboo, and inside they are a masterpiece of engineering, an engine that feels like being strapped to a rocket, and the maneuverability of an insect. They’re incredibly compact-- just big enough for a pilot and an astromech, so there’s no room for half the weapons that are on his X-Wing. One on one, the Raptor would get annihilated if it couldn’t run away. But in a swarm, those things must be deadly. He’s absolutely confident that it wasn’t just a fluke that they chased a Star Destroyer away. “It’s the closest I’ll ever get to having wings and flying myself through space. They’re amazing. Strategizing for them is just a whole other language from X-Wing combat,” he says, already thinking about how to integrate them into the fleet, banking his body as he imagines how he could sweep Blue Squadron through a wing of TIE-Fighters and send the Raptors in to clean up what was left and keep any survivors from getting a lock on Blue Squadron’s tail. General Organa is going to kiss him on the mouth when he gets back.
Finn’s grinning indulgently at him, and at BB-8 who is still circling his chair excitedly. Finn pushes himself to his feet, but now there’s a certain reserve in the motion that Poe’s never seen in him before, and Poe thinks that it must be something he learned at Prince Lessons today. Something of the way his mother moves has been transferred to Finn. “And how did the meeting go with Parliament?”
“Amazing!” Poe enthuses. “I mean, it’s politics, so there’s always going to be some back and forth working out the details, so nothing’s certain yet, but I asked for what the General told me to ask for and got offered twice as much instead, so…” he throws his hands wide in a shrug. “This visit could be the turning point of the whole Resistance, Finn, and it’s all down to you!”
“And you!” Finn says, and then takes Poe’s face in his warm hands and kisses him like the Queen had, both cheeks and forehead, before pulling away.
Poe can’t do much more than blink at him, mouth hanging a little open. That was unexpected.
“That’s how they greet friends and family here,” Finn explains, politely ignoring his reaction. “Two moons and the sun. A past together, a present together, and a future together.”
“Was that in your lesson today?” Poe finally gathers himself together enough to ask.
Finn nods. “I’m finding the cultural stuff really interesting. It’s all the things the First Order tries to strip away, you know? Feels like revenge to learn it again.”
“I can see that,” Poe agrees, as BB-8 comes to a stop in front of Finn and hoots a query up at him. “Apparently BB-8 is feeling left out,” Poe says with a grin.
Finn laughs and drops to his knees in his expensive trousers in front of the droid and kisses her on either side of her photoreceptors and on top of her dome. “There. Past, present, and future, BB-8.”
BB-8 chirps and twirls a response and Finn and Poe both chuckle. “So, tell me everything you learned today,” Poe starts, walking over to offer Finn a hand to his feet. “Especially anything I need to know so I don’t accidentally embarrass you at your coronation.”
Finn lets Poe pull him up and looks like he’s about to launch into quite the review when he’s interrupted by a knock at the door. “Come in,” he calls, frowning, before turning to Poe. “It can’t be dinner time already.”
One of the palace staff comes in with a curtsey. “Prince E… Finn,” she starts, and Poe realizes the King and Queen must have asked the servants to use his new name too. He loves that they love him so much. “There is an arrival for you and Commander Dameron.”
Poe blinks for a moment and then adds it up in his head. “Oh, thank the Stars!” he says, turning to Finn. “The General’s help!” he explains, eagerly walking to the door to see who or what it is.
He’s not expecting what he sees, and he suddenly hates the General more than a little bit.
“Ohh, thank the Maker! Finally a return to my primary function!” C-3PO says, coming into the room.
C-3PO has brought his dress uniform, which he dislikes because the collar feels like it cuts off the circulation to his head. C-3PO has also brought what he says is the traditional costume of Yavin Four-- which Poe has never seen before, and frankly looks like something Snap would make him wear after losing a bet-- which he insists Poe should wear to the coronation.
“That is not happening,” Poe insists, putting his foot down. “I’ll wear my dress uniform, but that’s it. That’s as far as I go.”
It’s amazing how a droid with an inflexible face can somehow express extreme disapproval through it. “The General has sent me as an expert on protocol. You would do well to listen to me. The last thing she needs is a interplanetary incident because you were wearing the wrong trousers.”
“I managed this long without you, so I wouldn’t mind seeing if I could manage the rest without you, too,” Poe says, perilously close to growling.
“I think the dress uniform is fine,” Finn says. “Our military officers will be wearing theirs.”
“There, see? The Prince says I’m fine.”
“And I suppose you’ll be wearing the dress uniform for the ball that evening as well,” Threepio says, apparently acknowledging he’s lost the battle but plugging along in the war.
“There’s a ball?” he looks to Finn for confirmation, who nods even as Threepio gets indignant.
“Of course there’s a ball!” Threepio throws his hands in the air like Poe is a lost cause. “Now, as, essentially, the Crown Prince’s right hand, you will be expected to dance with the princesses and ladies that are of slightly lower station than those the Prince will dance with. Now, the traditional dances of Yantu are the Three-Step, the Yantun Cycle and the--”
Poe stops listening. “Princesses?”
Finn nods. “The surrounding systems are almost all constitutional or absolute monarchies, and intermarrying is common, although my parents are both from Yantu,” he explains, as Threepio talks about the footwork intricacies of the Yantun Cycle.
Poe thinks, that if he stays in a palace and has the opportunity to dance with a full-on princess and doesn’t do it, Jess will beat him to death with a spanner when he finally returns to tell the story. “You’re learning to dance?” he asks Finn.
“I’m learning to dance,” Finn confirms. “I think you probably have to learn to dance too.”
This ‘Protector and Friend of the Crown Prince’ thing, Poe finds out, is an actual, legitimate title that has been bestowed upon him. It means, that when he’s not meeting with Parliament, he’s in rehearsals for the coronation (although, does he really need to be there to rehearse standing by the right of Finn’s chair for a few hours?), dance and etiquette lessons, or C3PO is dragging him to a tailor’s to have alterations done to his standard-issue dress uniform so it fits him ‘properly’. (He grudgingly admits the collar does fit better afterwards.) If he gets a moment to himself after all that, he usually begs for an hour to sneak a flight in a Raptor again, just to clear his head. He’s seeing less and less of Finn as the days progress, sometimes only catching him in the morning when they both wake from Poe’s bed after Finn has staggered in after Poe’s already fallen asleep.
“You were right,” Finn says one morning, looking sort of exhausted. Even the usual selection of breakfast pastries in front of him can’t seem to perk him up. Poe tries to imagine how tired he’d look if Yantu’s palace didn’t have such fabulous mattresses. “They’re throwing us a parade.”
“What?” Poe says blankly, and then casts his mind back to what seems years ago when they were both locked in a holding cell thinking they’d been mistaken for smugglers. “Oh Force.” He says at last, rubbing his face with his hands. “When is that going to be?”
“After the coronation, before the ball,” Finn says. “The people want to see me.” He shrugs.
“In the parade too, yes.” Finn says. “The people want to thank you.”
If the people really wanted to thank him they should let he and Finn have a nap, Poe thinks, bolstering his energy reserves with a big swig of the hot caf in his cup. Or, even better, give him a day without Threepio.
“Master Dameron,” the droid is saying as he comes into Finn’s bedroom and approaches the breakfast table, “once you’ve finished eating, you will have to learn how to properly wave.”
Poe looks flatly at Finn, who shrugs, and then they’re both laughing. “This is not what I imagined when we climbed into a TIE Fighter together,” Poe says, shaking his head.
“I’m sorry,” Finn apologizes, smiling a little, but it’s heartfelt. “You know you don’t have to stay. I’m glad you’re here for all this, but I know it’s a lot. I know the deal with Parliament is as good as sealed. If it’s time to move on to the next planet, you can go.”
Poe looks at him seriously, pain clenching his heart at the idea of leaving Finn here a moment before he has to. The strength of the feeling catches him off-guard, and he doesn’t like it, and he has to say something immediately in an attempt to diffuse it. “If you think I saved you from a Star Destroyer, nursed you back to health after a lightsaber attack, and brought you half way across the Galaxy just to leave before the most massive party I have ever been to, you’re out of your mind.”
“Thank you.” Finn grins back at him, grateful. “I wish Rey were here too, though,” he says. “I miss her.”
“Please imagine C3PO trying to get her ready for a ball,” Poe laughs. “You think I’m bad, Threepio, I dare you to try and explain the necessity of a ballgown to a desert scavenger Jedi.”
“Fortunately for all of us, Mistress Rey has more important things to do than pick fights about proper clothing,” Threepio snaps back. “Your Highness, you will be late for your government lessons if you dawdle any longer.”
“Thanks, Threepio,” Finn says, and has enough manners now to sound like he actually means it as he pushes himself up from his chair.
Poe finishes his caf, and the cycle begins again.
The night before the coronation, a scrap of paper is pressed into his hand by a very subtle servant, as Threepio corrects his dance form. He glances at it while Threepio’s attention is elsewhere. There’s one word on the paper, and he smiles.
“Thank you so much, Threepio, for all your help, but I think I want to check and make sure… my uniform still fits,” he says. “You know. We’ve all been eating pretty well lately,” he says, which is an absolute lie. After those first relaxed days, they’ve had to grab meals where they can as the palace gears up for the coronation and all that is to follow.
“Oh,” Threepio says. “Well, if it would set your mind at ease, I suppose that would be all right. I can tell you that your measurements are well within parameters, however.”
“Yes, I need to set my mind at ease,” Poe says. “Thank you.” He backs out of the room and sprints down the hall and out of the palace, trying to remember the path he’s only taken once before.
He finds his way and lifts a branch ducking under the canopy of the tree, grinning broadly as he sees who’s waiting. “Got your message,” he says, holding out the scrap of paper. “‘Starfall’.”
Finn pushes himself off from leaning against the trunk of the tree. “I was going to send BB-8, but I thought she might be more conspicuous. Threepio would definitely be able to tell you were playing hookie.” Finn steps up to Poe and takes his face in his hands, and greets him the Yantu way. His lips are dry and soft as they press against Poe’s face, and Poe lets his eyes fall closed as he receives the greeting, letting his neck go loose in Finn’s warm hands to let Finn tip his head down to reach his forehead. It’s less strange than it should be now, even though only Finn’s mother and Finn have ever greeted him this way, and he’s never been asked to return it. “Past. Present. Future,” Finn murmurs, pulling back as Poe lets his eyes open again. “Thanks for coming.”
“What’s up? Are we colluding to overthrow Parliament or did you just want a break?”
Finn laughs. “Just a kriffing break,” he groans, taking a few steps backwards so he can slide down the trunk of the tree and sit leaning up against it. “So much work just to put a metal hoop on my head!”
Poe laughs and takes a seat next to him. “Pretty fancy hoop, though. They let me see it today. It’s nice. You’ll almost look like a prince or something.”
Finn chuckles. “Dad said you filed your flight plan today,” he says after a moment. “The day after the coronation.”
“Yeah, even more fun-filled than originally planned, now that Threepio’s coming with me instead of you,” Poe groans.
“The day after the coronation, though?” Finn asks.
“Minister Kun said you’re going to be hopping around the planet on a 20-city tour. You won’t have time to entertain me. I might as well leave the palace when you do.”
“I suppose that makes sense,” Finn sighs, and doesn’t look happy about it.
Poe lets his head fall back against the trunk of the tree and looks up into the branches. The flowers are glowing, but not nearly as much as they were. Only one moon is up, he realizes, so some of the magic is gone. “Look,” he says, playing with a petal he finds on the ground. “We both knew I wasn’t going to be able to stay forever, but you belong here, Finn. You fit here, and you have a family that loves you here, and you’ve got a whole planet who finally recognises your noble heart, rather than just a wanna-be Jedi and a pretty good pilot.”
“Best pilot,” Finn corrects automatically.
“All right. I’ll take that. Best pilot,” he smiles. “But come on, back on D’Qar, you’re one soldier. Here? You can lead a whole planet!”
“Past, present, future,” Finn murmurs with a sigh. “That’s really important to the people here, Poe. It’s in the art, the music, ceremonies like weddings and funerals--” He lets his head fall back against the trunk of the tree again. “We need to pick when and where we’re going to meet again after you leave. We can’t part without establishing our future.”
Poe turns his head to look at Finn. “Are you serious?” he asks, not sure whether to smile or frown. Finn turns his head to return Poe’s look, and Finn is dead serious. He’s upset in a way Poe hasn’t seen since Finn started acting like a prince. Poe breaths out a thoughtful sigh and scruffs his hands through his hair as he tries to come up with a plan for them both. “Okay. So I’ve got a special tree in my backyard, too. Well, it’s my parents’ backyard, really. On Yavin Four.” He glances up at Finn again, and Finn is hanging on his every word, and suddenly Poe really needs this to happen. “It’s was a gift. From Luke Skywalker, actually. To my mother.” He suddenly realizes how appropriate this is given how Finn’s interactions with his mother have made Poe think more about his own than he has in years. “So every Life Day, everybody in the neighborhood comes down to the tree and we have a party. It’s, you know, nothing compared to all this, but it’s kinda fun.”
“Life Day. Yavin Four,” Finn says seriously. “You’ll be there?”
“I will absolutely be there,” Poe swears. “Presents are traditional. You can bring me a Raptor.”
Finn chuckles, and it finally breaks the tension between them. “What are you going to give me in return?” he demands.
“Stars! I already found you a whole kriffing kingdom, what more do you want!” Poe exclaims, throwing his hands in the air as Finn dissolves into laughter. Poe laughs with him. “Look, you’re my best friend. We know the comm suites here can contact D’Qar. I’m pretty sure you can afford a freighter ticket, now. It’s a longer trip than just down the hall on Resistance Base, but we’ll still see each other plenty, buddy.”
“I guess,” Finn says.
“Hey, I need a promise about the future too,” Poe says, pushing at his shoulder. “You have to comm me as soon as I get back to D’Qar, because Snap and Jess are never going to believe this unless you’re on the other side of the comm screen in your crown.”
Finn nods, grinning. “Okay. There’s a big robe-cape thing I’ve gotta wear for the coronation too. Should I wear that?”
“Whatever you’ve got, buddy. They are going to lose their minds,” Poe laughs, and then pushes himself to his feet. “Come on. I bet if we head in now we might be able to get back to my room without anybody trying to shove one last piece of protocol in our heads. An actual full night’s sleep. What do you say?” He offers his hand to pull Finn up, and Finn takes it in a firm grip and Poe tugs him to his feet.
“Thanks, Poe,” Finn says, and bumps into him with a full-contact hug like he used to give, pounding Poe firmly on the back.
“Of course, Finn,” Poe says easily, returning the hug with as much force as he’s gotten. He hadn’t realized how restrained he’d been feeling until he’s in the middle of such a tight squeeze and it feels good. “Anytime.”
Poe must have gotten used to the magical properties of the mattress, which spells doom for his return to the real world. His normally acceptable bunk on the Resistance base is going to feel like a brick by comparison.
He hasn’t woken up in the middle of the night since he got here, but here it is, pitch black outside and he is wide awake and wondering why.
There’s a snuffling sound very close to him and he suddenly realizes that there are no longer lightyears of distance between he and Finn on the mattress. The two of them have traveled in their sleep to the center of the bed, and Finn is curled up as close as he can be to Poe and not be touching him. If Poe tips his head forward much at all, his chin will smack into Finn’s forehead.
Suddenly this thing, this trip, which has solved every problem they had so simply, seems like the most complicated thing in the world, and he has no idea how it happened. Finn has a family and Poe is bringing back a veritable second fleet for the General, and it isn’t like he doubts that Finn and he will stay in touch.
But in the past they were both the same-- men with not a lot besides a shared cause to fight for-- and fate had tangled their paths again and again. These last few hours before the coronation, Finn is a prince in every way that matters, and the ceremony is just for legality’s sake, but they still share a bed like they are still brothers in arms. For the last time.
Suddenly, he wants to be from Yantu, to have an excuse to give that greeting, and tell Finn-- and whatever watching fates or gods the people of Yantu believed in-- that he wants the same things Finn does in a way Finn will understand.
He can’t reach Finn’s cheeks with his lips without waking Finn up, and Finn needs his sleep, so he settles for pressing his lips against Finn’s cool forehead gently. He had the past and the present, so there's only one thing he wants blessed. “Future,” he murmurs, and then pulls back and closes his eyes.
He would rather fall into a Sarlacc Pit than admit Threepio was right about anything, but his dress uniform is, maybe, just the slightest bit drab for the occasion. It isn’t funereal black or anything-- leave that to the First Order-- but the colors are muted, and frankly flight suit orange would not have been out of place at the coronation, with all the colors on display.
Still, he thinks it’s a good show of symbolism to be there in his Resistance uniform standing right beside the Prince’s throne. With any luck, Yantu and the Resistance will be allies for years, long after the fall of the First Order.
He stands at parade rest with a neutral expression on his face for all of the speeches and blessings and recitations of verse that start the ceremony. The sun and the two moons. Past, present and future. Finn is now inexorably linked to Yantu no matter how Poe feels about it.
No matter his feelings about the rest of the ceremony he can’t keep the broad smile off his face when the gold circlet is finally placed on Finn’s head, like it’s the most natural thing in the world. Finn has worked so hard, and Poe can think of no one else who deserves a greater honor.
“I now present to you, people of Yantu,” cries the master of ceremony, “your Crown Prince and heir, Elias Finn Yantun!” The people lucky enough to attend the coronation break into cheering, and he can hear more cheering from outside the palace as he knows it’s being streamed on the local holonetwork for everyone on the planet to see.
Poe has to slap a hand over his mouth, though, to keep from laughing. It’s not even a nickname anymore. They went and made it official.
Finn is going to be such a good prince, Poe’s decided. Poe knew he’d be dedicated to his role as monarch when he saw how hard he was studying, cramming a lifetime’s worth of education into only a few days.
But he remembers how scared Finn had looked when he’d seen all those people at the palace fence, and now here he is in an open-topped, old-fashioned, mag-lev carriage pulled by four graceful, white, local fauna called pinnets like a proper prince from a children’s story waving into the cheering crowds only a few steps away. He’d been amazing at the ropeline earlier too, meeting a few lucky subjects and being genuinely interested in each one, accepting their small gifts with heartfelt thanks.
Finn sits upfront with the King as they wave to the people, and the Queen sits in the back with him. He waves, following Threepio’s instructions carefully, but he wonders how many of the people they pass wonder who this strange man in the drab clothes is who gets to sit with the royal family.
“I am glad we have a moment,” the Queen says to him, never stopping her waving. She picks up his hand with her free hand, like they are having a quiet conversation in a private room rather than being looked at by literally millions of people right now. “I wanted to share a conversation I had with my son.”
He glances over at her, but she’s not even making eye contact, still waving and looking out on the people lining the parade route. He swallows, but does the same, watching the locals throw flowers in their path, keeping his hand waving. “Alright.”
“I was teaching him about succession, about how one day he might want to choose a consort to share his kingdom with.” Her tone is so blithe it makes him wary, but he keeps smiling at the crowd.
“Yes,” he prompts cautiously.
“He asked what qualities one might look for in a consort, and so I described the partner I would wish for him. I may have mentioned things like: kind, intelligent, strong, moral, easy on the eyes,” she chuckles a little at the last, before adding more seriously, “he told me he already knew someone like that.” She finally looks at him then. It’s only a tiny glance out of the corner of her eye, the people watching the parade probably don’t even notice her attention is not on them, but Poe feels it like a blaster to the chest. He has no doubt whose name Finn said.
Poe swallows hard. He can’t read her at all, she’s so serene. Is she angry? She would have to be, wouldn’t she? Hard to have a succession without a prince and a princess. “Look,” Poe says carefully, licking his suddenly dry lips, trying to keep his voice as carefully modulated as hers had been, “sometimes Finn gets a little confused. He doesn’t have a lot of life experience and so sometimes…”
The Queen squeezes his hand gently and he shuts his mouth with a snap.
“I would never say it had to be someone who could bear him a child, only someone that he loved and loved him back,” she says.
His heart is pounding in his chest that same happy-sick way it did when he’d first pieced this whole thing together in the holding room at customs. Like something either amazing or terrible is going to happen in the very next moment. “But the succession,” he says breathlessly.
She pats at his hand. “Finn was our only child and we could not have another. What would have happened had he not returned?”
He shakes his head. He honestly doesn’t know. Maybe he should have gone to a bit of Prince School with Finn.
“We would have chosen another. A relation perhaps, or a worthy citizen. The parliament would have to approve, of course, but they generally trust our judgement. We are not a divine monarchy, Poe. We do not believe our line was selected to rule for all time. As a family, we are blessed to have been in a position to keep the culture and heritage of Yantu alive. Our children are raised to do this, and if there are no children, then we pick someone who is worthy of carrying the flame and pass on the torch with joy.”
Poe is having trouble with his wave. From a high window someone is throwing white confetti that flutters down around them like the petals of the starfall. “But I’m just a pilot!” he says, feeling overwhelmed.
“Oh, darling Poe,” she says, and again turns to look at him, but this time with eyes kinder than he thinks he’s ever seen as she squeezes his hand, “so was my husband.”
He thinks he may have scared Finn. He’s honestly a little terrified himself. As soon as the transport had come to a stop back in front of the palace he’d fled from the vehicle at a sprint, racing into the palace and pounding up the stairs to his room. “Threepio!” he yells as he throws open the door.
His room is empty. Typical, the one time he actually wants to see the droid and he’s hiding. He heads to Finn’s room. If Threepio isn’t there then he doesn’t know where he’ll check next. He flings open Finn’s door next. “Threepi-- oh thank the Force, you’re here,” he sighs in relief as Threepio goes from startled to pleasantly surprised in an instant.
“What can I do for you, Master Dameron?” Threepio asks, as Poe walks over as quickly as he can to grab the droid by the elbow and escort him out of the room.
“First things first, you can not be in Finn’s room,” Poe says, hustling the droid along until they are relatively safe next door. “Secondly,” he takes a breath, steeling himself. He can’t believe he’s doing this. “I need a grand gesture,” he says. “I need a better outfit for the ball. The best outfit.”
“Thank the Maker you came to your senses, although you could have given me more time!” Threepio says, the slightest bit indignant. “I have the Yavin Four outfit…”
Poe raises both hands. “Stars! Not the Yavin Four outfit.” What a horrible idea. “No. I need to look like I fit in here. In Finn’s life. Make me look like I come from Yantu.”
“Well!” Threepio says, scandalized. “You’re certainly lucky that I know the tailor!”
He wishes there was anyone in this room besides Threepio that he could get an opinion from as he looks at himself in the huge mirror in front of the commsuite. What the tailor pulled out in a few hours is miraculous, but he honestly can’t tell how he looks. Does it look like he’s playing dress-up, or is he being respectful? Finn looks like he was born to wear an outfit like this, and he was, honestly, but Poe’s the child of a couple of soldiers. He wants his mom to come tell him he looks handsome and the General to come tell him he’s not letting down the Resistance.
Despite the rush job he got the colors he wanted. He hopes Finn will appreciate the flight-suit orange shirt just visible at the throat and wrists under the long white jacket. Force, his hands are shaking.
There’s a sudden bang at his door that makes him jump like a bog-cat, and his heart goes into his throat. “Threepio, can you go see who that is?” he asks, trying to calm himself down, and praying it’s not Finn. Not yet.
It’s not Finn. Threepio opens the door and BB-8 comes screaming in and trying to run over his toes. He’s never seen BB-8 so angry, and certainly not at him, and he ducks away trying to keep clear while BB-8 chatters at him in the fastest binary he’s ever had to translate.
BB-8 has been listening to Finn for the last two standard hours while Poe has been hiding up here. Finn is very upset. Finn might have even cried. The upset is obviously all Poe’s fault, and now Finn is sad and the dancing is starting and Poe isn’t there and BB-8 isn’t there and what is Poe going to do about that?
“I’m sorry, BB-8!” Poe says, trying to keep clear of of BB-8’s dense metal body. “I know that’s not your job, and I’m sorry that Finn is upset, but I’m going to try to make it better.” He finally climbs on top of a chair to escape. “I came up here to make a plan!”
BB-8 whistles a suspicious query.
“The plan is…” he takes a deep breath. “The plan is to look very handsome and tell him I love him.”
BB-8 bumps into his chair with some force and an angry blat.
“I know. I know I could have done that all along,” Poe says, sad, “but I was dumb and scared, and I still kinda am, but I know I’m out of time.”
BB-8 rolls away, no longer angry but still huffy. “Wait, BB-8! I can’t do this if you’re mad at me too,” he says, and cautiously steps off the chair. “I need your opinion. Do I look alright? I’m wearing your favorite colors.”
BB-8 rolls back warily, looks him up and down, and chirps at him.
“You guess!?” Poe says, running his fingers through his hair in frustration. “That’s not what I’m going for!” He looks at himself in the mirror and tries to put his hair back to rights. “Look, is there anything I can do, in a hurry, that’ll make me look better?”
BB-8 hums thoughtfully for a moment, and then twirls, chirping.
“Go dance. Right.” He grins thankfully at BB-8 and blows her a kiss as he runs for the door. “Come on, BB-8, you should come dance, too.”
He’s missed the first dance and possibly the second. He feels incredibly conspicuous sliding into the back of the ballroom. There are a lot of people here and most of them want to dance with Finn. Force, most of them probably want to marry Finn. He wipes his palms off on his pants. Is he allowed to cut in? How does he get Finn’s attention? He makes his way to the edge of the dance floor and hopes Finn will just notice him standing there, wanting to talk.
The song ends and another one begins, but Finn doesn’t even look around. There’s another beautiful woman waiting to step into his hold as the first one leaves, and Poe doesn’t know what he’s going to do. Finn is a much better dancer than he is. Poe was supposed to be dancing with some of the women here. Should he pick one and start a dance just to get on the floor, or will Finn take that as rejection? If only he could just get Finn’s attention!
A loud screeching squawk comes from the vicinity of Poe’s shins and the music cuts off abruptly. Poe looks down in horror to see BB-8 twirling away primly, and looks back up to realize every eye in the ballroom is on him. He swallows. This is not what he’d planned, but Finn is certainly looking at him now. He licks his lips, finds his courage, and strides onto the dance floor. “Can I have this dance?” he asks Finn, voice tight and high.
Finn looks at him warily, and it’s killing Poe to have Finn ever look at him like that, but the music is starting again-- into a Three-Step, thank Force, that’s the easiest one-- and Finn takes him into his arms, with a huffed sigh like he has no choice. “Why did you run off?” he asks.
“Because I wanted to change,” he tries to explain, but Finn clearly could care less about his coat right now. Finn’s primary concern seems to be pushing him backwards, even though when Threepio taught him, he was supposed to go forwards… oh. They’re both trying to lead. “I wanted to make a good impression, but I somehow accomplished everything on my checklist while simultaneously screwing up everything,” he says, and shifts his hand from Finn’s waist to his arm.
“I said your dress uniform was fine, though,” Finn says, confused, even as his body relaxes now that he’s not literally dragging Poe through the dance.
“It wasn’t though, was it?” Poe’s shoulder crashes into Finn’s when he doesn’t take a turn that he only realized afterwards Finn clearly forecast. Finn starts getting a bit more obvious with his leading, broadcasting which way he’s supposed to go with a tilted shoulder, cocked head, or the hand on his waist pulling in or pushing out. “You kept trying to tell me. How important it is here: past, present, and future…” It’s hard to say what he wants and also keep his attention on all the dance cues Finn is broadcasting. “I’m dressing like the future I want now. Forget Yavin Four and Life Day. It’s me. Here. With you.”
Finn’s hand grips his hard, like he’s about to lead him into another turn, but the hand at his waist clenches as well and Poe thinks Finn just wants him to stay close. “What are you saying?” Finn says, suddenly looking very serious.
Finn is just holding on, not leading anymore, and a couple is about to spin into them, so Poe pulls Finn along with him until Finn can find his feet and tries to make things as simple as he can. “I love you. I’m in love with you. Finn the Stormtrooper, Finn the Resistance Fighter, Finn the Prince. Whatever you are, I think I’ll always love you, and I’ll be yours if you want me.”
Finn’s eyes are wide in shock, and yeah, maybe doing this in the ballroom in front of a few hundred people wasn’t the best plan Poe’s ever had. There’s a pillar that’s creating a natural breakwater in the ballroom and he walk-dances them in that direction to just stand in it’s lee. “You said you have to go back to the Resistance and I have to stay here,” Finn says, and somehow manages one more dance turn to put Poe’s back firmly against the column. “How do you think this will work?”
“I don’t know!” says Poe confidently, throwing his hands in the air. “I’ve been really dumb and I’ve made some really dumb plans!” Finn looks at him like he’s lost his mind and it’s entirely possible that he has. "So, step one, don’t listen to anything I say except for the part where I’m telling you that I love you.” Poe licks his lips. “I’m listening now, finally, and thinking back on the things you’ve said, and I think you’ve said you love me too.”
Finn glances away.
“And I’m listening to your parents, and they’re smart. And the general is smart. And I’m gonna keep listening until I hear how to make this work, because I don’t want to stop hearing that you love me.”
“You were an ass to run off after the parade,” Finn says, poking him in the chest.
Poe nods. “Dumb plan.”
“And how could you not know how I felt at the starfall?”
“Because I was dumb.”
“But you’re listening now?” Finn asks.
“If Yantu is providing such a large military force to the Resistance, it might be nice to have a member of the Royal Family stationed with them. To bolster their spirits,” Finn says, like he’s had this plan for quite some time if only Poe had asked.
Poe gapes at him. He hadn’t even considered that Finn could come with him. “By the Force, you’re smart too,” Poe says.
“And I love you,” Finn says fiercely, even as all the tension in his body seems to melt, and he lets his forehead fall against Poe’s.
Poe frames Finn’s face with his hands and pulls him back to look at him, and all his words are gone, dumb or not, but he thinks he might have heard some elsewhere that will work. “Past, present, and future,” he murmurs, and Finn looks resigned to the greeting, already tipping his head forward so Poe can reach his brow.
Poe obliges, pressing a tender, dry kiss to each of Finn’s cheeks, but then tilts his head up to press his mouth to Finn’s as Finn starts in surprise and then smiles against his lips. When they part, Finn bites at his own lip. “I think I like the look of that future,” he says grinning, and glances back at the dance floor and tips his head. “Will you join me, or do I have to find another partner?”
“I think I’m ready to follow your lead,” Poe says with a smile, letting Finn pull him back out into the flow of the dancers.
“You look very handsome,” Finn says.
“That’s good, because I think I took about three years off the Royal Tailor’s life trying to get ready before the ball.”
“You always look handsome, though,” Finn says.
“I do think you’d look more handsome in a crown, however.” Finn grins at him, and Poe grins back, overjoyed.
The mattress on the bed in the guest room of his dad’s house on Yavin Four is completely unacceptable after the mattresses of Yantu. It’s a good thing he actually slept mostly on top of a prince.
BB-8s gentle cooing has woken him up before dawn, which is unfortunate, but he’s woken up with his face already tucked in the juncture of his husband’s neck and shoulder, which means he’s perfectly positioned to convince Finn to stay here and have a lie-in.
“Power down, BB-8,” he murmurs, pressing his lips to the sleep-flushed skin beneath them, again and again. “It’s gotta be hours before dawn.” He moves his hand to slide along the bare skin of his husband’s chest, fingers mapping out the dips between muscle groups. Finn hums, pleased, underneath him still half-asleep, and Poe can feel it in his own chest.
Instead of leaving them to sleep or do whatever it is they might do instead, BB-8 blats a sharp indignant note at the rebuke of her internal chrono, and just like that, Finn is fully awake underneath him.
Finn’s hand slides along his skin, fingers stroking up and down alongside his spine at the dip of his back, and okay... Poe can work with this too. He rubs his nose along the cord in the side of Finn’s neck, inhaling. Finn smells good, still slightly of the exotic native flowers in the soap of Yantu. With a sleepy moan Finn tips his head to the side, putting more of his neck on offer, and Poe smiles against his skin, before moving on to slow, slightly open mouthed kisses all along the warm column of Finn’s neck. This is absolutely going to work.
“We have to get up now,” Finn moans, taking a deep first breath of wakefulness. Ugh. This is absolutely not going to work.
“Just, like, five more hours of sleep,” Poe wheedles, speaking the words directly into Finn’s neck. “We got in late last night.”
Finn chuckles and it moves both their chests. “Who’s fault was that?”
“Threepio’s,” Poe grumbles.
Finn looks at him with a raised eyebrow, waiting for the right answer.
“The pilot’s,” Poe sighs, pressing his forehead petulantly against Finn’s collarbone.
“And who was the pilot, I wonder?” Finn muses aloud, grinning, and Poe kind of hates him.
“...and the co-pilot,” Poe adds, “Who was being very distracting and made the pilot miss all his navigational adjustments.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I thought the best pilot in the Galaxy, who managed the killing blow of Starkiller Base despite attack on every side by a squadron of TIE Fighters set on his destruction, could manage a few lazy turns in open space while I was kissing his neck. I won’t be doing that again,” Finn says dryly.
“Ugh, what happened to you?” Poe complains. “You used to be such a model prince and now you’re all… sarcastic.”
“You’re clearly rubbing off on me.”
“We could do that,” Poe offers, lazily pressing his hips against Finn’s thigh.
“No!” Finn laughs, giving him a sharp enough shove in his shoulder that he’s sent rolling over onto his back on the cold part of the mattress. “You promised me Life Day-- dawn to fireworks!” Finn says, and starts climbing out of bed. This is intolerable.
“Come back to bed and we can start with the fireworks.” He smirks, shimmying sideways to get his back on the warm spot. Still, the view isn’t bad, he thinks, admiring Finn’s assets as he pads away from the bed.
“BB-8, you may fire when ready,” Finn says, and BB-8 beeps the affirmative, rolling back to the bed.
“Fire what!?” Poe yells, shooting upright in bed and pulling all his limbs in, away from the edge. He knows about BB-8’s little tazer and the torch, but what could she possibly fire? “What did you do to my droid!?”
“Nothing. Woke you up, though,” Finn says, laughing. BB-8 has the audacity to laugh along, twirling merrily in Finn’s wake. Finn brings the lights up, and Poe winces.
“You are a traitor to the crown!” he tells BB-8, groaning, and finally crawling on his hands and knees to the edge of the bed. “And one day our people will sing mournful dirges about the Tyrant Prince Finn of Yantu.”
Finn throws a shirt at his head. “And how is the Prince Consort ever going to overthrow him if he can’t get his lazy ass out of bed?”
The shirt is one of his Yantu ones. He’d thought about coming here in his off-duty pilot’s clothes-- he likes just being Shara and Kes’s boy to the neighbors on Life Day-- but word got back to him that the neighbors wanted to turn this year’s Life Day into something of a second reception for Poe the Prince, they were so proud, and he has a feeling that the children who usually ask about trying on his helmet might this year ask about trying on the crown.
“Ooh noo!” Poe sing-songs in a high voice. “A century of darkness is upon us!” He’s got his shirt already, he thinks, starting to slip a hand into the arm of it. Maybe if he keeps pushing it he’ll get the rest of his clothes thrown at him too and he won’t have to move much until the caf is finally brewed.
Finn’s back in his space again a moment later, smiling softly down at him. “A century?” he asks, bending down enough to touch his forehead to Poe’s. “Is that how long you’ll be cruelly chained to my side, Prince Consort Poe Dameron-Yantun?”
Poe grins up at him despite himself. He knows how important it was to Finn to give him a name too. Finn calls him by his full name now more than a little bit. “Oh, at least. Your oppressive reign may never end.”
There’s a sudden pounding on the floor. His father is clearly hitting the ceiling of the kitchen below with a broom. “Hey! Prince Consort Sleepyhead!” Kes Dameron calls up the stairs. “These puffcakes aren’t gonna make themselves!”
“You have no respect for the monarchy,” Poe says airily a few minutes later, coming down the stairs half-dressed. Finn follows behind him, carrying their embroidered jackets and crowns in his arms. BB-8 takes the stairs at a leisurely pace once Finn’s clear, body thunking down on each one. Poe rolls the sleeves of his shirt up, and throws an apron on to protect his trousers.
“I love the monarchy,” Kes says, walking over to give Finn a hug. “I don’t have any respect for inflating your ego any further. Hot-shot pilot-prince? That’s a recipe for disaster.” He turns his attention to Finn again. “Good morning Finn. Happy Life Day.”
“Happy Life Day, Dad.” Finn beams back, returning the hug and then greeting him with three kisses. “Past, present, future.”
“Oh, thank the Force, there’s caf,” Poe says, following his nose over to the pot. “No beheadings today.” His father’s cup is already steaming on the counter, so he pours out two mugs worth and brings one to Finn, offering it out with a kiss to his cheek before returning to the ingredients on the counter and getting started.
“Oh, your other houseguest is outside ‘keeping watch’. He was criticizing my juicing technique,” Kes says, and sure enough, when Poe glances out the window, Threepio is standing under the Force tree, diligently staring into the distance.
Poe makes up the puffcakes from the old Bey family recipe. Kes juices the pamma fruit. Despite the late start they get the food out on the tables surrounding the tree before any of their guests arrive and just as the sky is starting to lighten on the horizon. Poe steps back inside and lets Finn help him into his jacket. He drops his crown, a hoop of two golden twining starfall branches, on his head askew because he knows Finn likes to adjust it so it sits properly and steal a fond kiss while he does.
“Your royal h--” Threepio starts, attempting to alert them of company.
“Hey, your worships!” Kes calls over the top of him from outside. “The General is here!”
Finn grins and takes his hand, and they step outside again to meet their special guest. General Organa is just parting from greeting Kes as an old friend and handing over her Life Day gift for him.
The General greets Finn with a fond smile. “Finn,” she says warmly. “This suits you.”
Finn smiles back, royalty to royalty, and greets her with three gentle kisses which the General receives without a hint of surprise.
“Poe,” she says, turning to him.
“General.” He tosses a hasty salute as he smiles at her. “Sorry the trip got extended a bit. I’ll be back in Black One soon, I promise.”
“Your mother took two months off in the middle of the Rebellion to have you and we managed without her. The temporary loss of one pilot from Yavin never cripples us, especially when they’re away bringing reinforcements.” She grins at him. “Honestly, didn’t see this coming, though,” she admits, gently touching the crown on his head, and he laughs. “Thought I’d never see you so happy outside a cockpit… but then, you always reminded me a little bit of myself,” she says.
The slightest breeze would have knocked Poe over in that moment as he flushes with pride, and Finn squeezes his hand, proud for him, and then lets go to pick up the gift they’ve brought for the general.
“Happy Life Day, General,” Poe manages at last. “And welcome.”
Finn offers out a cutting from the starfall, one end carefully submerged in water, the other flush with buds and a few opened blossoms. “It’s from my homeworld, and exists only there,” Finn says, as the General takes it, flowers glittering softly in the dawn light, “but it’s too precious to not be shared.” She looks very touched, and Poe bites on his lip to keep his eyes dry.
“Happy Life Day to you as well,” she returns. “I know it appears I’ve arrived with no gifts for the two of you, but I’ve actually brought two for you to share.”
Finn and Poe both lean in a bit, intrigued. Poe hadn’t actually expected anything.
“My first gift, is that I will be taking Threepio off your hands at last,” she says with a grin.
Poe looks gratefully heavenward and mutters “Thank the Force!” under his breath.
General Organa chuckles. “Say what you like, but I sent him to help one man become a prince and ended up with two!”
Threepio, who is close enough to overhear the conversation, stands up a little bit straighter, looking pleased.
“My second gift,” she continues, “was to use my gift of diplomacy to negotiate a temporary release from custody for the third member of your merry band.” Poe can see Finn’s eyes light up when he figures out what the General means. “Rey will be here this afternoon,” she says warmly.
Finn actually laughs in his excitement, bouncing on his toes, and so very happy that he reaches out and envelops General Leia Organa in one of his back-slapping hugs.
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