There had always been nights when Leia couldn’t sleep. There had been whole years when she’d had Han or Luke to keep her company, or her sleeping vulnerable son to watch over. These days, she preferred to wander about the base than stay in her quarters. D’Qar was a quiet planet, but there were always a few people around the Resistance base at odd hours of the night. Medical staff and radar operators coming off shift, or pilots staggering around the common spaces, either drunk or space-lagged. She often ended up in the hangars, where the late shift mechanics would be up to their elbows in engine oil or pulling apart fuel tankers, all generally too busy or too tired to care about a stray General wandering around.
She wasn’t expecting to find Poe Dameron wandering around, too, but the late shift didn’t seem to surprised to see him. He had a thermos and a stack of paper cups: caff, no doubt, a sure way to any mechanic’s heart. Leia watched him crouch down next to the woman who was flat on her back under Wexley's ship. Dameron passed her a wrench, and set her a cup of caff on the ground out of harm’s way. Leia couldn’t hear him, but from the look on his face, he was either sympathising with some terrible love life disaster or with the appalling state of Wexley's fuselage. Probably the latter, given the day they’d had.
‘General,’ Poe said, catching sight of her as he stood up. ‘Caff?’ he held out a paper cup.
Leia shook her head. ‘Can’t sleep as it is,’ she said, surprising herself with honesty. ‘Caff won’t help.’
‘Caff always helps,’ someone muttered behind her. Leia stepped out of the way, and the fellow with a trolley full of mysterious ship innards jumped to a startled attention. ‘Commander! General!’
‘At ease,’ Leia said, with a tired smile. ‘It’s too late at night to stand on ceremony.’
‘Right you are,’ the man said, accepting the coffee Poe was already pouring him.
‘I’m out,’ Poe said, shaking the thermos. ‘And I think I’ve bothered the ground-grubbers enough tonight.’
‘Walk with me,’ Leia said to him, turning toward the hangar doors. He matched her pace easily, with a slow, graceful stride. ‘Don’t tell me the Navy taught you to bring coffee for the ground crew late at night,’ she said.
Poe shrugged. ‘Taught me who makes the difference between a ship that flies like a dream and one that just flies,’ he said. He glanced down at her, evidently weighing his next words. ‘But no. The Navy’s not big on officers mixing with crew.’
They stepped out into the night air, and both automatically looked up, taking in the sky above them.
‘It’s one of the things I appreciate about not spending much time with the Navy anymore,’ Leia said, still looking up at the stars.
‘What, fraternising with the ranks?’ Poe asked, looking down at her, one eyebrow raised.
‘Well, I meant that as a matter of culture, our technical and service crew get a lot more respect.’ She let that hang in the air for a moment. ‘But you make a good point, too.’
An array of factors coalesced in Leia’s mind all at once. One, Poe Dameron was still unfairly good-looking; two, she had reason to believe he was good in bed and yet one peculiar three-person assignation with one’s estranged husband was hardly enough time to properly assess a man’s capacities; and three, she had had a very long and very tiresome day and sex seemed like an infinitely better use of insomnia than wandering around at a loose end.
She considered these things, and might have left them be, if Poe hadn’t shifted closer to her side. He raised one hand, as if he were about to touch her, and thought better of it.
‘What happens on board the Evrana stays on board the Evrana, am I right?’ he said.
Leia reached out to wrap one hand around his wrist. ‘Well, I’d rather the Resistance at large not know when and in what capacity I’ve been in contact with my infuriating husband, so in that sense, yes.’ Poe’s lips twitched in amusement.
He wasn’t going to push the question, Leia realised. Which, she had to concede, was an attractive quality. Of course, that did mean she would have to put words to it.
‘Han, and all things pertaining to Han, aside,’ she said, and this time the amusement went past Poe’s lips to crinkle in the corners of his eyes. ‘If you wanted to go to bed with me on my own merits, Poe, I wouldn’t say no.’ He stepped a little closer to her, which boded well.
‘You wouldn’t say no,’ he said, expression still one of amusement.
Leia considered that. ‘I would not,’ she confirmed. ‘I would say something affirmative and definite, like, yes please, would now be a convenient time?’
Now he did touch her, his free hand settling gently on her shoulder and the one she was holding by the wrist dropping to her waist. Leia leaned into him, taking stock of the shape and warmth of him. Lean rather than broad, strong but not stocky, warm in body and warm in the smile escaping from his eyes and spilling over his face.
‘What if I suggested,’ Poe said, leaning down to her. His breath feathered over her cheek but he wasn’t quite kissing her skin. ‘What if I suggested that, entirely on your own considerable merits, you should take me to bed or to some other place where I can spend, oh, at least the next half hour going down on you?’
Well. That was a proposition Leia could get behind. ‘Would now be a convenient time, Commander?’
‘Absolutely it would.’ Poe stepped back, and she found herself leaning after him for a second. ‘At your service,’ he said, and she resisted the urge to grab him. Instead she started off in the direction of her quarters, trusting him to follow.
They lost two X-Wings in a skirmish in the Garis sector, the same day their one freighter lurched home with the news that someone had cleared out their dead drop on Utapau. Cobalt Squadron, or what remained of it when they staggered back in, had no hard data on their latest enemies. Someone flying old ARC-70s, is all Atsy could confirm. That could mean anything, given how much of the Old Republic’s armaments had ended up on the black market. The dead drop on Utapau had been burned to the ground, along with the two nearest villages.
This did not bode well, to say the least: they’d needed those supplies, and it would be that much harder to set up new drop zones if they were putting the locals at risk. They had to suppose the First Order, or someone working with them, was behind one or both of the attacks. Although, to be honest, the possibility of an independent operator cropping up in the region and making life difficult was no more reassuring.
Poe had a variety of professional, sensible plans for what he personally and the Starfighter corps more broadly ought to be doing in the circumstances. Blue Squadron had more-or-less instantly adopted Atsy, so he would need to see about getting the guy transferred, since Cobalt was pretty much a write-off now. He’d have to get in contact with Karé and Iolo and work out personnel rotations: Cobalt had been due a stint on the Echo of Hope soon.
His professional, sensible plans had not involved volunteering as the General’s booty call in a gesture of support, but that’s more or less how it worked out. Leia had been in the rec rooms: he was vaguely aware of her, in the way that everyone on base was vaguely aware of her whenever she was around. And, without any conscious forethought, he found himself excusing himself from the mess of pilots in the back corner, and intercepting Leia as she passed.
‘How’s Nunb holding up?’ The freighter crew had all been shaken up by Utapau - not so much by the loss of their drop site, but by the discovery of the razed villages. Leia had been talking with Nunb in a corner of the officer’s lounge.
‘He’ll hold up,’ Leia said, and the lines in her forehead seemed drawn deeper and more indelibly than usual. ‘He’s seen worse.’ Of course. Nunb had been with the Rebellion the first time around.
‘How are…’ Poe hesitated, and Leia cocked one eyebrow at him. ‘How are you holding up?’ he asked.
‘Me?’ Leia smiled at him, a little fond and a little mocking. ‘I’ve seen worse, Poe. I always have.’
‘I suppose so,’ Poe said, quietly. ‘Sometimes I think everyone around here has.’ Jess, Teffer, even Atsy. They were all so young, and he’d seen nothing like the shit they had, both with the Resistance and before that.
‘That’s why they’re here,’ Leia said. She considered him for a moment. ‘I knew your parents,’ she said.
‘I know.’ The necessity of avoiding thinking about the first time he’d met Leia and Han had dissolved in the wake of their collective encounter on the Evrana. Everything about that was bizarre (spectacular, memorable, amazing, but bizarre), but there was no reason not to think about it. Especially since Leia had recently taken him to bed in more normal circumstances and let him eat her out until his jaw ached and his head spun, and he really would like to do that again. Unfortunately, now he had to try not to think about the fact that he was (in a low-key way that was definitely not going to interfere with his on-the-job conduct, he swore) lusting after a woman who’d probably seen him in diapers.
‘They wanted you to grow up in a place that was safe and peaceful,’ Leia said. She gestured with one hand, the walk with me gesture. He followed. ‘They were lucky: they got what they wanted. Don’t… don’t think less of yourself because not everyone else was that lucky.’
‘I don’t think less of myself,’ Poe said, truthfully, ‘I think less of the Republic Navy. Ten years and change I spent tootling around trade lanes with them, when we could have been doing some good.’
Leia laughed gently. ‘Well, there’s that,’ she conceded. ‘But there’s also politics. Believe it or not, there are good reasons we keep all this cloak-and-dagger stuff up.’
‘Oh, I believe you,’ Poe said. They emerged from the central buildings into the space between hangars and gardens. ‘I just don’t like it.’
‘We’ll make a diplomat of you yet,’ Leia said, with a little smile that brought out the dimple in her cheek and turned the care-lines in her face to crinkles of humour.
‘Please don’t,’ Poe said, making an elaborate gesture of despair, hand over heart. ‘I’ll do many things for you, General Organa, but not politics!’
‘Well, I’m afraid right now we need you in jobs with a far higher risk of instant death,’ Leia said, and it was probably supposed to be a joke but it came out bleak. ‘If you live long enough to be shunted into diplomatic work, count yourself lucky.’
And there was the second problem with Poe’s current relationship with his commanding officer. It wasn’t just that he would quite like to take her to bed, or be taken to bed by her, again. The problem was that that had collided with the awe-tinted care that everyone on this base had for Leia Organa, the thing that had everyone from pilots to the catering staff hanging on her every word and saving up memories of that time she’d smiled directly at them. And now here he was, with his commanding officer looking tired and worn (and incredibly attractive, but that was another matter) and he very, very much wanted to find ways to make her smile. She looked as if the weight of the galaxy were on her shoulders, and she bore it well, but if he knew a way to lift it off her for a moment he would, just to see her stretch out her back and roll the kinks out of her shoulders.
It wasn’t inconceivable that he could make some kind of offer along the lines of ‘any time you want to fuck, call me.’ He could probably even manage to put it in words that sounded respectful but not military-hierarchy respectful. But nothing he could plausibly say would express any of the rest of it, and he probably shouldn’t even be thinking about Leia like that.
Fortunately, he was spared the attempt, at least for today.
‘Dameron,’ Leia said, and corrected herself. ‘Poe. This is a completely open-ended offer, no strings attached. I could really use a distraction right now: come to bed with me?’ Poe considered the worrying possibility that she’d read his mind somehow, and must have let the moment stretch out too long, because she added, ‘No is an acceptable answer.’
‘Good to know,’ Poe said, looking down at her. She looked concerned, not in the broad concerned-about-the-terrible-fate-of-the-galaxy-and-her-place-in-it way, but specifically concerned about him. ‘Acceptable answer, but not one I feel like giving today,’ he said, and was rewarded with a smile wiping some of the concern off her face.
It wasn’t as if he didn’t know Leia Organa was a determined woman. That was sort of like saying an X-Wing flew fast. Both a fact to be taken for granted and a terrible understatement. It certainly wasn’t as if she’d been reticent in bed on either of the previous occasions he’d had the honour of being in a bed with her. Still, Poe wasn’t entirely prepared for the amount of focus and very definite intention with which Leia walked him backward into her bed and set about divesting him of his clothes.
He wasn’t quite prepared for it, but he really kind of liked it. He wound up half-splayed across the bed, propped on his own elbows with Leia straddled across his hips. Most of her weight bore down on his shoulders as she kissed him, hands tangled in his hair and teeth scraping over his lips. He thought, for about two seconds, of exercising self-restraint and not pushing up against her, not angling his hips for friction against her pelvis. The reaction he got when he did - a sharp bite and shift in her weight so that she could grind down against him - pretty much convinced him that self-restraint was over-rated. Instead he focused his attention on getting one arm free and making an attempt at unbuttoning her shirt. She’d got his shirt off, and pants too, but not stopped to do anything about her own clothes.
‘You’re wearing too many clothes,’ he said, breaking off the kiss to protest. ‘General,’ he added, because apparently accusing Leia Organa of anything, even an unfair lack of nakedness, felt like a breach of protocol.
‘Pretty sure we agreed you don’t call me General in circumstances like these,’ Leia said, sitting back from him a little. She began unbuttoning her shirt, though, so Poe figured she wasn’t angry about it. He slid one hand up her back, under the shirt, fingers splayed out across warm skin.
‘What was I supposed to call you, again?’ he asked. That was pushing his luck, he knew: the fact that Han Solo, her husband, called her Princess did not, in any universe, mean that Poe got to do the same.
‘Impress me,’ she said, discarding the shirt. Poe had had designs on removing her underwear himself, but he was sufficiently distracted that she got there first.
‘I think I’ll start by calling you gorgeous,’ he said, and he knew he sounded embarrassingly fervent, like a moonstruck teenager. Leia huffed a small laugh down at him and pressed him back onto his elbows again, pressing a kiss to his collarbone.
‘Flatterer,’ she said, and tweaked one nipple hard enough to be just shy of painful.
‘Honest!’ Poe protested. He knew, in the way he knew facts about, say, the government of the Old Republic, that some people would look upon Leia Organa naked (or even clothed) and see something less than she used to be. See lines and creases and old scars and find themselves disappointed rather than awe-struck. He knew this, in the same way the colonist kids on Yavin 4 knew about the Old Republic Senate: as something far away that had very little bearing on his existence right now.
Leia licked gently over the nipple she’d just pinched, which made Poe rock his hips up against her. He was gathering his wits to ask her to do that again, more, please, and to the other one as well, when she slithered off his lap and stood over him. He blinked up at her as she hooked her fingers in his briefs and tugged them down. They caught on his dick, already hard and straining against the cloth.
‘Off,’ she said. Poe lifted up obligingly and she stripped the briefs off and discarded them.
He sat up, reaching for the fastening on her pants, but she batted his hands away. ‘Later,’ she said, stifling his protest with another kiss, all tongue and teeth this time. She ran one hand down his side and wrapped the other around his dick, which… was really, really nice.
‘Later?’ he asked, brain catching up with her words. ‘What’s now?’
Both of Leia’s hands stopped still and she stared down at him with an expression that said, pretty clearly, that that was a daft question. Shifting his legs apart with one of hers, she slid from leaning over him to sitting back on her heels between his legs. The hand around his dick shifted minutely, nothing like real friction but enough to remind him it was there.
‘Oh,’ Poe said.
‘Oh,’ Leia said right back at him, putting a sarcastic twist on it. She leaned in and licked slowly up the underside of his dick.
‘Um,’ Poe said. ‘Wow.’ It wasn’t as if, had anyone asked him, he would have predicted that Leia had a policy against going down on people. He just hadn’t thought about that in connection with himself.
She was smirking at him, he realised. She had her lips pressed against the very tip of his dick, but not exactly around it, and she was smirking up at him. He might actually die.
‘Don’t tell me you thought I was too old, or too high-ranking, to suck dick,’ she said, breath skimming over his skin.
‘I, uh,’ Poe said, and she spoiled his attempt at respectful and coherent conversation by rubbing her thumb absently over the underside of his dick.
Leia was still staring up at him, and the smirk had given way to something closer to a challenge. ‘I’ve been sucking dick since before you were born, young man,’ she said. ‘And I’m a lot better at it now than I was then. I am very stressed right now, and I plan to deal with that by thinking about nothing but sucking your dick for the next fifteen minutes, unless you have any objections?’
‘My only objection,’ Poe managed, voice cracking a little, ‘is that I’m not sure I can withstand fifteen minutes.’
She just looked up at him for a moment, both eyebrows raised. ‘Try,’ she said, drily.
‘I can do that,’ he said, and, pushing his luck again, added, ‘Princess.’
She rolled her eyes up at him and then bent to suck his dick with exactly as much focused attention as promised. It was a little terrifying and a lot fantastic.
He had no idea, in the end, if he made it to fifteen minutes - for all he could tell it could’ve been an hour, except that common sense said even Leia probably couldn’t suck dick for an hour at a time. Somewhere in there she pulled off long enough to glare at him and say,
‘You will tell me when you’re close,’ and he did. Several times. Because that turned out to be the point of him telling her: not courtesy or so she could finish him off by hand, oh no, but so she could squeeze the base of his cock and tug his balls down gently until it passed, and then start again. Somewhere around the third or fourth time he lost the power of coherent speech and was reduced to patting ineffectually at her hair, still unwilling to push or pull her away. Leia let him come, then, sucking him through shuddering, wracking climax that kept shivering through him for long moments afterwards.
Poe flopped flat out across her bed, one hand over his face as he tried to get himself back under control. He felt oddly like he might cry, which was probably just the strain but was disconcerting anyway.
Also disconcerting was the fact that Leia didn’t crawl up the bed next to him. She was still kneeling between his legs, head nestled into the curve of his thigh. He forced his eyes open and head up to look down at her: she had her eyes closed, and looked almost peaceful. Poe hesitated for a second about disturbing her, but she looked up at him and he reached out one hand.
‘Come here,’ he said. She stood up, taking a moment to stretch out her spine, and then lay down alongside him, head on his arm.
His wits were coming back enough to register that Leia seemed sad, but Poe couldn’t think of anything to do about that except lean over her to kiss her, bend down and cover her body with his. She seemed to take that as it was meant, arching up into him and kissing back, much slower than they’d started out. Poe ran his free hand down the skin of her back, relishing the soft warm texture of it.
He wasn’t going to get hard again, not for a good while yet - he might be a couple of decades younger than Leia but he wasn’t exactly a tireless teenager. Still, there were advantages to that, and as Leia sighed and wriggled a little underneath him he remembered what he had initially intended to do when she brought him here: he had planned on getting her on her back, or possibly kneeling over him, and on revisiting the glorious experience of having his face buried in Leia Organa’s cunt for as long as she’d have him there. Which, he considered, could really be an indefinite amount of time if he wasn’t distracted by his own dick.
With this in mind, Poe worked his hand from Leia’s back to her belly, and snapped the fastening on her pants. She had one hand in his hair but used the other to shove the waistband down. Poe sat up long enough to pull the pants off properly. He moved next to kiss her hipbones, and to press his fingers up against her through her panties. Something about the dynamic between them shifted, and he looked up at her for confirmation. Leia was frowning: she was warm and damp, he could feel that through the fabric, but she wasn’t pressing up against him and she was frowning. He moved his hand away, settling his palms over her hipbones instead.
‘Hey,’ he said. ‘Did I do something wrong?’
Leia shook her head. ‘No,’ she said. ‘Not you.’ She shifted onto her side, which meant Poe had to let go of her hips. ‘I just… not tonight, okay?’
The curve of her back seemed pretty definite, almost self-protective, but the frown had gone, replaced with a small fond smile. Poe spread his palm out over her thigh.
‘Okay,’ he said. He had a feeling there was something important in the balance here, and he didn’t have much data from which to draw conclusions. ‘That’s totally okay,’ he said, again. ‘But, just to be clear, I’m not scared of periods and I can take specific instructions like fingers only, it’s not an all or nothing package deal.’
He ought to feel put out that Leia laughed at him for that, but at least he knew he hadn’t offended her.
‘Come here,’ she said, and he scrambled over to be pulled down and thoroughly kissed. She wasn’t disinterested, he could see that much, but the kiss seemed more about, well, affection than anything else. Which was a whole precipice of its own that they weren’t talking about.
‘I know you’re commendably cooperative,’ Leia said, flopping back onto the mattress after a minute or so. ‘But I can tell you right away you won’t get me off tonight, no matter how many instructions I give you’ she said, with a wry smile. ‘Some of us aren’t as young as we used to be.’
‘I’d do it anyway,’ Poe said, at once, ‘go down on you, I mean.’ And then, ‘oh, hell, that sounded pathetic, didn’t it?’ He would, though. He’d really, really enjoyed that.
She was laughing at him again, and roughing up his hair. ‘No,’ she said.
‘Okay, okay.’ Poe rolled onto his back. ‘Come and kiss me again anyway?’ Before she’d rolled over to face him the next thought caught up with him. ‘Unless that was a sign I should put my pants back on and get out of here?’
‘Not right away, no,’ Leia said, ducking down to kiss the corner of his mouth.
‘Good. Because I’m not sure my legs would hold me up yet,’ Poe said. ‘I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but that wasn’t a blowjob, it was an experience.’
‘Not sure I’ve heard it put quite like that before,’ Leia said, working one leg in between his. ‘But I recognise the sentiment.’
Poe devoted the next short while to kissing Leia with his full attention, because, firstly, how could you not kiss a woman who gave head like that, and secondly, because it seemed like the safest way to prevent himself blurting out unwisely adoring pronouncements. After a while, though, he registered that Leia was rocking her hips against him, pushing up against the leg she had wrapped herself around. Because he was an obliging sort of man, Poe shifted himself to get her a better angle, and got a gratifying quick intake of breath in return.
‘Forgive me, Princess,’ he said, into her ear, and yep, that earned him a full-body shudder. ‘But you don’t seem quite done here.’ He slid his hand down her ass, pulling her a little harder against him.
‘Maybe not,’ Leia conceded. ‘But…’
‘Okay then,’ Poe said, running all the data he had on Leia Organa’s sexual preferences through his head. The mental imagine of her and Han both kneeling over him, Han’s hands on her breasts while she got herself off and he lay beneath them in a dazed, post-orgasmic haze seemed particularly relevant. ‘Then, this is an open-ended suggestion, and no is an acceptable answer: if you want to get yourself off with as little input from me as you like, I would support that endeavour.’
Leia stopped moving against him and raised one eyebrow for a second, then shook her head. He thought for a second that was a no, but she was shaking her head and smiling down at him. ‘Where did I dig you up from?’ she asked. ‘And where’d they teach you manners like that?’
‘Well, you dug me up from the Navy, and, ah, yeah, that’s pretty much where I learned most things about sex,’ Poe said. ‘Is that a yes?’
‘Yes, it’s a yes,’ Leia said. ‘And I’m glad to know the Navy’s good for something, but I’ve slept with more than a few Navy types in my time, and they tend to have more easily punctured egos than you. Here,’ she said, untangling herself and shoving him further up the bed. ‘Let me… yeah, that’ll do.’
Poe ended up with his back against the pillows and Leia sprawled across his chest, legs between his, one hand down her own panties. She was quiet, about as focused on this as she had been on sucking his dick earlier. He wasn’t even sure if she was aware of him after a few moments: she didn’t seem inclined to talk, or put on any kind of show. Which was fine. More than fine, it was impressively hot, enough to make his dick twitch against the small of her back.
‘I’m not breakable you know,’ she said, surfacing unexpectedly and tilting her head back to look up at him. He realised he had both hands hovering gently at her sides, barely touching skin. Holding her gaze, he skimmed his hands over her belly, still barely touching skin. Over her stomach and up the sides of her breasts and back down again, while he watched the breath flutter in and out of her chest.
‘Tease,’ she muttered, shoving her hand further down and pressing the heel of it up against her clit. Poe was paying attention, partly because it was hot as hell, and partly because it was information that might come in handy if he ever got another invitation of this sort.
‘Any particular requests?’ he asked. It wasn’t as if he didn’t think Leia would tell him what worked and what didn’t, she was more than capable of that, but he wanted to hear her ask directly.
‘Breasts,’ she grit out, hips quivering and pelvis working up against her own hand.
‘Gladly,’ Poe said. They were fairly awesome breasts. And, wow, he’d suspected the reaction would be memorable, and it was.
‘Hard,’ Leia said, snapping the word out on the end of a long breath as he brushed fingertips over her nipples. Hard. He could do that. He could do a lot of that, if that’s what got Leia from quietly quivering in his lap to shuddering and bucking, coming hard up against her own hand.
She was silent for a while afterwards, and he let her be, running his hands slowly over her skin.
‘Thank you,’ she said, quietly, as she started to disentangle herself. Poe sat up, winced as his back cracked, and started looking around for his pants.
‘I’d say any time,’ he said, not looking at her, ‘but we both know that’s not practical.’
‘No,’ Leia said, sounding a little sad. She had found a robe from somewhere and came to stand close to him, tangling one hand in his hair.
‘You know I’m not looking for…’ she trailed off, and then regrouped. ‘A partner, a romance.’
‘I figured,’ Poe said. ‘And if you were I’d suggest you start with someone less likely to die in an imploding X-Wing without warning.’
‘Poe, consider who you’re talking to for a moment,’ Leia said. ‘Precipitously courting death and disaster is practically a requirement for sticking around me in any capacity.’
‘You have a point there,’ he conceded. ‘But I get it. About what this… isn’t.’ He stood up, and then bent down to kiss her cheek. ‘I’ll happily repeat it, though, at a time of your choosing.’
‘You’re happy with that?’
‘Of course,’ he said. He was, too: he adored her, but not in a way that would make any sense as a conventional partnership.
‘Always a time of my choosing?’ She gave him a quizzical look.
‘Well…’ he thought about that for a bit. ‘Yeah. I can’t exactly call up the commanding officer for a booty call, that would be ridiculous.’
‘That doesn’t bother you?’ The question wasn’t just about the booty call, he thought. It was about the fact that she’d been coiled tight with stress when they came back here, too tight to even let him touch her sex, and now she was still tired and sad but the weight sat easier on her shoulders. She’d needed something, and had asked for it, and he’d given it. She might be able to give him something similar, but he couldn’t go to her and ask, most of the time.
Poe shrugged. ‘Not right now,’ he said. ‘When it does, I’ll start saying no.’ He couldn’t quite imagine it bothering him for his own sake, but it might if he thought he could be distracting her, providing an excuse to put that weight aside for a moment, but he wasn’t allowed.
‘I’m giving you the option of saying no, Commander,’ Leia said, reaching out and taking his hand. Some part of Poe’s brain said he ought to find this hilarious, the way they were having this conversation alone in her office without once mentioning the very similar and much less professional conversations they’d had.
It wasn’t hilarious, though. This was exactly why they’d had those earlier conversations. Not necessarily because a man might find it hard to say no to sex with the woman who could send him out to die, or not (although that was a thing, too). But because a man might find it awfully hard to say no to a mad doomed mission that came from the hands of the woman who’d given him the most spectacular blowjob of his life, and then curled up all trusting in his lap while she brought herself off.
Fortunately for his self-respect, Poe knew perfectly well he’d have said yes to missions madder than Operation Saber Strike without any sex-related influence at all. He was pretty sure Leia knew that, too. She’d recruited him on the basis of the Yassira Zyde incident.
Steal a Senator’s personal transport, without stealing the Senator in question, in an eight-minute window between the ship breaking hyperspace and the Republic response vessels getting there, without permitting the ships’ databanks to be wiped. Practically impossible. Ergo, he wanted to do it.
‘This is not an order,’ Leia was saying. ‘It could go very, very wrong, and if it does, the Resistance would have to deny any involvement. You and anyone you took with you to do this would be on your own.’
‘I’ll need to collect a few things,’ Poe told her. And, in defiance of all common sense and protocol, he winked at her. She shook her head at him and turned away, and he had the uncomfortable feeling she’d seen someone else in his shoes for a split second.
He made it back. Of course. He made it back with Karé and Iolo and their elderly Z-95s intact, although his had taken a dive into the nearest sun. He made it back with the Hevurion Grace in good condition and all her databanks intact. He also made it back deeply, ragingly angry at the fact that a Republic Senator could be in so deep with the First Order that they’d send TIE fighters out of their own sector to protect him.
He saw Leia, briefly, the day he got back. She commended him on his tricky flying, and said something about flyboys being all the same. Poe was beginning to be sure he knew who ‘the likes of you’ in Han’s past had been. Flyboys, or possibly girls.
She called him to her office early the next morning. He wasn’t expecting anything less than professional - booty calls had never yet been literally calls. What he got was confirmation that the Senator was in deep with the First Order, and now Leia had the paper trail to match it. Good. She also had confirmation the First Order were looking for someone named Lor San Tekka, who may or may not have a map to the original Jedi Temple that may or may not exist but if it did, was probably where Luke Skywalker had vanished to.
Poe knew about that, actually. Not about Lor San Tekka, but about the First Temple. His parents had been, well, not exactly converts to the Church of the Force, but very dedicated in their own way to the idea of the Force in general and the idea of Luke Skywalker’s new Jedi Order in particular. His mother had raised a tree from a sapling that, supposedly, was descended from one in the First Temple. When he was very small, they hung its branches with lights and held parties under it, which didn’t seem very reverent, but his mother had said the Force is in everything, even parties.
‘I’ll do it,’ he said.
Leia raised one eyebrow. ‘I haven’t said what the mission is, yet.’
‘Find Tekka. Find out if Tekka knows where Luke went and, if so, if he has the map. If yes, come back here, figure out how the hell to get there,’ Poe said, rattling the steps off.
‘You make it sound so easy,’ Leia said, smiling at him.
‘Oh no,’ Poe countered. ‘I know it’s not easy, but it’s simple. Everything that could go wrong in it depends on chance, or other people.’
Leia rubbed at her forehead with one hand. ‘It’s not like the last mission, where you’d be going incognito. But you get into hot water, we probably still can’t bail you out.’
Poe thought about that for a second. ‘Because the only people who’d see me as a problem would be the only other people looking for Lor San Tekka, and they’d probably kill me?’ He guessed.
‘More or less,’ Leia said. ‘They… have worse things than killing you. What do you know about the Knights of Ren?’
Poe knew more or less nothing about the Knights of Ren, except that they had been involved in the destruction of Luke Skywalker’s Jedi School. He had supposed, until this moment when Leia sketched out the story for him, that the boy Ben Solo (they’d met, once, too long ago for Poe to remember him clearly) had died with the other students there.
‘It will be him who’s looking for Luke,’ Leia said.
‘Are you sure?’ Poe asked. He didn’t know what answer he expected to that: in practice, it didn’t really matter to him if the person who might beat him to Lor San Tekka was Ben Solo or some other Knight of Ren.
‘It’s what I’d do in his position,’ Leia said, which definitely wasn’t the answer Poe had expected. ‘In fact,’ she said, nodding at the data chip in Poe’s hand that contained all they knew of Tekka’s movements as per the First Order, ‘it’s what I am doing.’
‘What will you do if I find the map?’ Poe asked.
‘Get to Luke, or send someone else to Luke, before Ben does,’ Leia answered.
In that moment, he was more than a little scared of her. He accepted her invitation to dinner regardless, and afterwards let her take him to bed. She rode him slow and deep and he’d never known anyone who combined beautiful and terrifying quite so well.
Leia had no idea when Poe was taken prisoner. She didn’t know about it until a few days before he landed back up at base, having space-hopped from Jakku back to the Outer Rim and then onto a Resistance shipment to D’Qar.
She knew he was late, of course, but only by a few days, and that could mean anything. X-Wing broke down. Lor San Tekka was found but insisted on travelling back to meet her himself, requiring escort (she’d liked that idea: she’d known Tekka when he worked with Luke). Lor San Tekka was dead but someone else might have his knowledge and Poe had gone in search of them. Anything, really.
Of course it was also possible he’d fallen into the hands of the First Order, but she supposed the first she’d hear of that would be when her son turned up on D’Qar to cause havoc. Perhaps she was basing her assumptions too closely on her own experience with Vader, but then, Ben had apparently set out to imitate him in every way. At least she didn’t have a homeworld to be used against her this time.
Leia realised she’d calculated wrongly when their less-salubrious network of contacts started reporting that the First Order were looking for a droid that matched the description of Poe’s BB-8. No sign of First Order activity anywhere in the vicinity of D’Qar, so either they hadn’t got the base location out of Poe, or they had got it and didn’t care.
That they had Poe seemed certain. Leia allowed herself no more time to dwell on that than she had on the death of her parents. She mobilised people. She put out a bounty on BB-8 that doubled the one the First Order had put out, and prayed she could find the credits to pay it. In all this, she was rather surprised when C-3PO woke her early one morning with the news that Commander Dameron was back and asking to see her.
He looked like hell. He was perched on the edge of a chair, shoulders hunched forward, seemingly unable or unwilling to lean back. He flinched when she stepped too close to him.
‘You’ve seen Ben,’ she said, the words falling out of her mouth too fast.
‘How can you tell?’ Poe asked, folding his arms across his chest. ‘You read minds, too?’
‘No,’ Leia said, almost truthfully. She didn’t, couldn’t mind-probe. She had refused to learn enough to give herself that power. But she didn’t need to to know Poe had had his mind invaded: his Force signature was a mess, vibrating with pain and anger and fear. And loss, too, a surprisingly deep grief. ‘I’ve been interrogated that way before, too. I remember.’ She’d withstood it, which of course Poe couldn’t, because he had no particular aptitude for the Force. But she remembered the feeling.
She made him report, in full. Everything, including the torture and Ben’s interrogation. She listened carefully as he described the unexpected rescue, and then the death of his rescuer in a crash back onto Jakku.
‘He’s just… gone,’ Poe said, looking up at her with blank eyes. ‘He rescued me and now he’s gone.’
‘He was brave,’ Leia said. ‘And he died free.’
‘I didn’t stay to search for him,’ Poe said. ‘I could’ve stayed longer. I could’ve searched further.’
‘You did the right thing,’ she told him. ‘You needed to get back to base, so we can get to the droid before they do.’
‘I promised it I’d come back,’ Poe said. She thought for second he meant the Stormtrooper, but no, the droid. ‘I promised, and when I did it was too late.’
Leia didn’t reach out to him. She didn’t even put a hand on his shoulder, something she did half a dozen times a day with half a dozen soldiers. She promised him she’d move moons to find that droid: but that was hardly enough. They would all move moons to get the droid, because the droid had information they needed. They wouldn’t, she wouldn’t, have moved anything at all to get Poe Dameron back, and he knew it as well as she did.
She let him go, and called Snap Wexley in and told him to make sure Poe ate and turned up when he was supposed to for medical and psych treatment. And then she went back to what she did best: managing the many threads of the Resistance from her command centre, reminding herself of nothing so much as a spider at the centre of her web.