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Target Practice. Or, Missing the Mark

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"Convince me," Poe had said, leaning against the door, arms crossed, the tilt of his head and lift of his chin daring Finn to try.

So Finn had said, "Fine. Just watch me. I will convince you. You will be totally convinced." Then he'd said, "Wait, convince you what?"

Which was, after a few twists and turns, how he'd ended up in a spacer bar on the rim, trying to find something Poe called a "mark," which apparently was a bit like a target, but Finn wasn't supposed to shoot at it. If anyone ended up getting shot, it would, apparently, be a sign that things weren't going well. That hadn't been Finn's experience, but he kept his mouth shut for once. Poe had said if he did well here, he'd put in a word with General Organa to get him on real reconnaissance missions.

The place looked a bit like Maz's, but with more engine grease and less food, and music blared over the speakers loud enough to drown out most conversation. Finn didn't hear a lot of languages he spoke anyway, not even when he sidled past different groups of humans.

Well, never mind. If he were on an actual mission, he wouldn't have his pick of targets either. He decided to try the bar, jerking his chin up and slapping a credit on the steel counter. The shot the bartender poured smoked gently, and Finn hoped that the mini-Wookie, or whatever species that was, wouldn't poison a customer before he bought a second round. He raised it to his lips. He was blending in. This was what undercover looked like.

"Braver than me," the man to his left commented. He had to lean in close for Finn to hear him, his braids falling forward as he did, hiding half his face.

Finn glanced sideways and assessed the stranger: human, jacket made out of some kind of animal hide, curved sword across his back. He seemed to be alone. He wasn't carrying a blaster. He had grease under his nails, and a rope burn across his palm. His hands were long and slender, and his smile had a familiar challenge in it.

"Oh yeah?" Finn asked. He hooked his foot under the barstool so he could slouch back enough to look down his nose at the stranger. Poe always looked unbearably confident and collected when he did that.

"Cook says they put engine cleaner in that stuff," the stranger told Finn, and when Finn shrugged, he laughed. He had a nice laugh.

"So what are you doing here, if you don't like the drinks?" Finn asked. He let his gaze slide past the stranger to the group of humans in the booth along the wall. There was a pale man there whose muscles had muscles, and a woman with braids to her waist, and a slight man in a robe with fluffy hair. None of them was exactly watching them, but they all sat at enough of an angle that they could if they wanted to. Were they following this man? Were they with him? Or maybe they were following Finn. "Looking for friends?"

"Looking for work."

"Oh yeah?" Finn said again. Poe had said he wasn't supposed to ask too many questions, that it would make him stand out, which was something Finn understood from his old life, but somehow they kept slipping out. "What kind of work?"

"I have a ship; I need a cargo," the stranger said, leaning back so that his posture matched Finn's. Only, when he said, "I", his glance flicked back to take in the group of humans behind him.

"You the captain?" Finn asked.

"Of course." This time he deliberately did not look behind him, but met Finn's eyes squarely.

Finn took a breath, then realised that made him look nervous, and tried to hide it behind knocking back his shot.

The stranger was good enough to catch Finn as he fell off his bar stool. "Told you," he said, and patted Finn on the back as he tried to cough up the lining of his throat. "I'm Sinbad, by the way. Captain Sinbad."

"Finn," Finn choked out between coughs, then remembered that he was supposed to have a fake name. Oh well. Onward. "Looking for a captain."

Sinbad propped him against the bar, then fished a flask out of his back pocket and offered it to Finn, ignoring the bartender's glare. Finn took it, showing trust like Poe had said, and almost cried when it turned out to be water. Warm, tin-flavoured water, but still a relief.

When Sinbad didn't say anything, Finn realised that he was waiting for a story, an offer. If Finn made an offer, Sinbad would make a counter-offer, which would be more expensive, so Finn would have to talk him down somehow. Poe said that arguing about money was where Finn fell apart, and maybe he was a little bit right about that.

So instead of saying anything, Finn shifted so that his shoulder bumped into Sinbad's, and looked sideways and up through his lashes. "Definitely looking for a captain," he said.

Sinbad blinked, almost pulled back, then shook his head slightly and moved so that his hip brushed Finn's ass. "I like a man who knows what he wants."

That they could agree on, no bartering required.

"So," Poe asked when Finn got back to the ship, "how'd it go?"

Finn straightened his jacket, tugging it down to cover the tear in his undershirt. "I found a ship, and the captain didn't find out that I was with the Resistance."

"And?" Poe was clearly prepared to laugh at him. Well, not laugh at him, Poe wasn't mean, but maybe jolly him along and say encouraging things like, You'll do better next time, Buddy, like he had after that time on the Moon of Karthiq.

"And we're meeting again to talk about booking passage to the Bizu System," Finn said triumphantly, and Poe's smile made his heart glow.

They were meeting again, anyway, and Finn figured he'd work in a way to casually ask for a ride for himself and a few friends, and all their cargo. Sinbad had said he was looking for work.

It wasn't completely Finn's fault that they hadn't made it to the negotiating part. He'd do better next time.