“Good morning, buddy.”
Poe was fairly sure Finn couldn't hear him or, if he could hear at all, understand what he was saying. At the same time, he didn't think a kind and gentle voice right now would be terrible. The only important thing in that moment was that Finn's eyes were open, however marginally but Poe could still see a glint between his eyelashes. His eyes looked dilated and glassy when Finn tried to open them more only to have them flutter back closed again. He gently squeezed Finn's hand. “It's okay. You're gonna be okay, Finn.”
Finn hummed and almost sort of looked at him maybe before his eyes roamed away. Poe looked up at Kalonia and asked in the same gentle tone so as not to startle anyone, “Is this the drugs or the coma?”
“Both,” she answered back just as firm as she always would and it annoyed him a little. “Coming out of the medically induced coma is going to make him feel lethargic and weak. I'm sure the cocktail we've given him for pain isn't going to help him wake up any. This is good, though. This is what I expected. He'll probably be more coherent tomorrow if you want to come back.”
“Okay. Good.” As if he was going to leave now. He'd predictably be shooed out of medical when they close the door to visitors, and since Finn was waking up and had a little color to his skin, Poe probably wasn't going to do anymore breaking and entering. “Hear that? Finn, buddy, you're gonna be okay.” Finn opened his eyes again and found Poe, making the other smile. “Hey, man. You remember me?”
Poe, Finn wanted to say. It took him a minute that this Finn he was referring to him, though. But that's right. He was Finn now. And that was Poe. Though, he couldn't place how he knew that but he did remember him.
Finn smiled up at him, and Poe could have probably burst right there. “Yeah,” he laughed. “I'm hard to forget, huh? We're gonna get you on your feet in no time, buddy. I promise. Tomorrow will be better.” Before he could finish talking, Finn had fallen back to sleep.
The next day wasn't better. Finn was awake, yes, but in pain. He remembered everything. Remembered watching Han die and protecting Rey from Kylo Ren, remembered losing and the explosion of nerves in his back. Poe had explained that Rey was okay as far as he knew, that she had gone to finish his mission and find Luke Skywalker. So that was great to know, except that Poe was angry and was having a hard time hiding it. It made Finn anxious, and he honestly wanted to ask Poe to leave but he didn't want him to leave so it was an emotional mess and he wished he could just fall back to sleep.
He wasn't angry at Finn, that much was clear. He was angry about Finn, for Finn, and that was annoying.
“We discovered it when we performed the surgery,” Kalonia had explained to them both. “The First Order had been giving you medication, Finn. Stimulants, as far as we could tell. Things to make you stronger, faster, more aware, more... potentionally volatile. You won't have to be weaned off or anything, but the drugs in your system have had problems getting along with the drugs that we gave you. We didn't think they'd have this reaction against the pain medication, though. We only have three different kinds here. This is the only one that seems to be showing results.”
Poe was gripping the edge of the bed until his knuckles turned white. Finn asked, “Could you just knock me out again?” in that slow and thick way he was speaking now. His mouth felt like Jakku.
Kalonia, for her part, gave a sympathetic smile. “I'm sorry. We can't. This is the only way you can heal now. To put you under again could cause more problems.”
Poe had wanted so badly to see Finn awake, just couldn't stop daydreaming about talking to him again. He wanted to shoot himself in the foot. He felt so fucking guilty. Of course, the First Order had to fuck this up, too. “Is there anything we can do about it?”
“No. We just need time.”
Finn knew that Poe was trying to keep his voice level for his sake but being harsh to the doctor wasn't going to help anyone. If there was nothing, then there was nothing. It hurt to move just about anything, but he raised his hand to gently press it against Poe's on the bed. “The Order would have had me thrown out the airlock,” he told him. “This is much better. I'll be okay.”
Poe looked down at Finn, air clogging in his throat, vision going red. He turned and left.
“Hey, buddy. I'm here. You thirsty?”
“You came back.”
“... I'm sorry about earlier.”
“I'm glad you came back.”
As luck would have it, time really was the answer. The more days that passed, the less pain Finn had. Kalonia said it was because the Order's drugs were slowly but surely leaving his system. He didn't know if that was true or if he was just getting used to the feeling. Or maybe all of the bacta was helping to both heal and numb him. Or maybe Poe was just a terrific distraction. The man knew about five different ways to play Sabacc but he never played against a Stormtrooper before. A deck of cards in a First Order barrack was something holy.
“Do you know what it means to hustle someone, buddy?”
“I would never do such a thing to you, Poe Dameron. I'm far too innocent.”
“Shut up,” Poe laughed. “Nah, man. When you're out of here, we have got to corner Snap into a game.”
Finn didn't like the idea of pulling one over on the same people he was trying to convince to like him. They brought an enemy soldier into their ranks and wasted tons of resources putting him back together, and he should thank them by stealing money out of an officer? But Poe was in a good mood today, so Finn just smiled and went along with it for now. “You're on. I'm not the best at keeping a straight face, though. Or so said Zeroes. He was always whipping me at Sabacc.” That said, Zeroes could whip the entire FN corp at Sabacc.
Finn made a point to not wonder if Zeroes was still alive.
“Well, you're killing me,” Poe mock grumbled, his smile giving him away. “It's just luck that we're not playing for money or clothes.”
“Clothes?” Finn paused, then thought about it. Civilians and the Resistance soldiers sure did have a lot of different varying clothes with a lot of different fashions, this was true. But for clothes? That didn't make a whole lot of sense.
But Poe basically squealed in delight. “Oh stars! You've never played Strip Sabacc.”
Ah! “Oh no, we definitely played that! We just got to keep our own clothes afterwards.”
Poe nearly doubled over in a hard laugh that bounced off the walls. He was so happy, he could practically be glowing. “Ah, man,” he finally wheezed calming down from the mental image of a bunch of naked Stormtroopers. “That's a bummer, though. Now I don't get the chance to teach you.” Then he winked.
Finn smiled back, a little confused. Why would he want to teach Finn that? Unless- But-
“Your move, hero,” Poe said with a smaller smile as he slapped down another card.
“BB-8,” Finn growled between clenched teeth, “you know that I can't understand a kriffing thing you say, right?”
“He suggested earlier that lighting your pants on fire with his butane torch would make you move faster, so friendly encouragements was the compromise,” Poe explained, an annoyingly sweet smile on his face. “I think you have to settle with the beep-boops for now, buddy.”
<Don't doubt the healing power of fire, Friend-Poe.>
“Yeah, I'm gonna go ahead and doubt that, little guy,” Poe answered back to some warbles that Finn couldn't grasp into anything coherent, and squeezed Finn's elbows a little tighter. “Just a few more steps, man. If cursing me to hell and back helps with the breathing, go for it.”
“Shut up, Dameron.”
“Come on, I'm a filthy Resistance pilot. You can do better than that.”
“Don't make me laugh. I'll punch you in the face.”
Poe laughed heartily for both of them as he inched another step backwards, facing Finn. Finn, in turn, inched another step forward. His back felt like a mesh of metal and bone that grinded together with every move he made, which wasn't entirely inaccurate of what was really happening. He was told that he had been put in surgery, submerged into a bacta tank, put through more surgery, and back and forth until it was all said and done before waking him. One would think that his back would be as good as new after all that, but the combination of the First Order's medications, under funded medical equipment in the Resistance, and him just having to get used to his practically new body again made for it to be... not a fun experience.
Part of that unfun experience was learning to walk again. In truth, when he first heard about what he'd be doing in physical therapy, he thought it would be nothing to it. He already knew how to do all of that and working through pain wasn't an entirely new concept to him. But this? The difference between what his mind knew and what his body remembered was somehow a vast ocean of total bantha shit. “This sucks.”
“This is like your third time. You're doing incredible.” Poe, ever the cheerleader, had quite literally been with him every step of the way. Finn was sure he had missions at some point but he didn't ask. Didn't want to jinx the companionship... even if Poe was incredibly annoying at times like this. “Did I tell you about the time Iolo pulled a muscle in his calf?” Yes. Finn had heard the story about four times now. “He moaned and groaned for two weeks about it! Refused to do PT, whined about incoming missions. I wish he could see this so I could rub it in his face. I dragged him over to the mess, and he told a group of new recruits that a-”
“That a nerf bit him. Yes, Dameron. I know.”
“Oh, did I tell you already?”
When Finn shot him a glare, Poe was just smiling back like he was the physical embodiment of a glowing supernova. Finn grimaced. “You want me to punch you.”
“It'd get you moving,” Poe laughed again. “One more step then it's back to the chair.”
“I hate you so much.”
“Love you, too, man.”
Only three weeks passed before Finn was able to walk on his own again. It wasn't very miraculous for a normal person thanks to the bacta, but the doctor assured that it was miraculous for him given the conflicting medications and the lack of pain management. Now that the First Order was entirely out of his system, he just happened to be able to walk around again.
Of course, this change occurred while Poe happened to be on mission. He had been hesitant to leave at all and was pretty down about it. But the First Order wasn't taking any vacations so he couldn't either. D'Qar was compromised to hell and back, Snap had been on several scouting runs to find a new home for them since they didn't have to evacuate immediately anymore (and it was strategically inadvisable to do so with the Order so desperate as to possibly ambush them once they were separated anyway), and now they had finally found a home for themselves. Poe and his squadrons were sent out ahead of everyone to make triple and quadruple sure that the sector was secure before going back to base to escort everyone else. The rest of the base had rumors flying around, but no one was going to know that they would be leaving until the last second.
It had been hard to keep that tidbit hidden from Finn, but the Admirals had already stressed their displeasure that Poe was with him nearly all the time. It wasn't that they didn't trust him, so they said. It was that he had grown up with the First Order and, should he return to them, well... Poe knew otherwise, though. Finn wouldn't return. He may not join the Resistance but he'd never go back to the Order. Poe had told two Admirals where to go and directions as to how they could get there if that was their opinion on the matter before the General interrupted and sent him out on mission. But anyway, he didn't like just jumping an evacuation order on Finn while he still healed after such an awful injury.
When he got back and it became clear that the base was going to be ordered to clear out within the next six hours, the first stop he made was the medbay before even shedding the flight suit. He walked into the room, thankful to see that Finn was awake and standing beside the bed before putting on his best smile. “Oh, buddy. I hope you didn't miss me too much. I got some super juicy hot gos' to... tell-” He stopped halfway to Finn, looking the other man up and down before landing his eyes on Finn's gigantic smile. “You're standing!”
Poe screamed before running forward and just barely catching himself before barreling the poor guy down in a bear hug. Instead, he grasped Finn's biceps and just looked at him. “When did this happen? I missed everything! Stars, how long have I been gone? How do you feel? I can't believe I missed this!”
“Dameron.” They both turned at the sharp voice of an angry Dr. Kalonia. “I and the entire rest of the base know that you're happy, but please keep your voice down in the-”
“I know. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.” Poe rambled, his smile back on as he ran over and hugged her instead. “I'm sorry. Thank you. It won't happen again. I'm sorry.”
“Don't butter me up,” she smiled and patted him on the head to make him remove himself. “Just keep your voice down. And don't get all rough and cuddly. He's healing.”
“I can control myself.”
Kalonia huffed before walking away. Finn just laughed. He was in pain again, yeah, but he still felt better than he had since he woke up. “Well, you know all of my good news,” Finn chuckled. “What's up?”
“Oh, no.” Poe was smiling wider now. “You are not getting out of it that easy. Tell me everything. How are you feeling? Any better since I left? That's a stupid question, isn't it?”
“I'm all right, Poe,” Finn laughed again, holding the pilot's arm to steady both of them. “Standing unaided happened about two days ago. They were worried about me falling but that's what M3's here for. Right, man?” At this, he turned to a tall bipedal droid that had been standing motionless in the corner of the room.
Poe started, having not noticed the looming figure beforehand. Stars, it was becoming increasingly clear that he needed to sleep before the evacuation order kicked in but now was hardly the time. Instead, he flashed a charming smile up at 2-M3 who he had the unfortunate pleasure of knowing pretty well thanks to his job (or what the General referred to as reckless stunts but that was at the top of the job description so whatever).
“That is correct, Civilian Finn,” M3 answered in a deep monotone static-y voice. “Though the longer you stand increases the probability of you falling.”
“He calls me a civilian. It's great,” Finn told Poe with a little laugh before looking back at the droid. “I'm all right, M3. I like standing after being in bed for so long.”
Poe was at least happy that Finn hadn't been alone, but guilt still managed to eat at him even if no one else seemed to blame him for anything. He hated having been away for this but tried hard not to show his rising mood. “M3's a great character but he's no good at Sabacc.”
“You are what BB-8 refers to as a sore loser, Commander Dameron,” the droid whirred. “Winning against you would have only ever upset your injuries, though I am happy to make you lose when you are not interned in the medbay.”
Finn laughed so hard that he had to maneuver himself around to sit stiffly on the bed again before he really did fall. He was sore and achy and ridiculously happy. “Poe, I have missed you so much, man,” he finally said, rubbing a stray tear away from the corner of his eye before pulling on the sleeve of Poe's flight suit. “All right, c'mon. What's this hot gos' you have to tell me all about?”
Poe let out a world weary sigh before carefully sitting beside Finn with a rather large smile. “Okay, I'll tell you, but you can't repeat it, all right? It's a secret right now. Top brass, mega-classified, need to know basis-”
“Might I suggest,” M3 interjected, “that you simply do not tell us if the situation is so sensitive as to-”
Poe waved at him. “Oh, hush. Anyway, in about six or so hours from now, the Resistance is bugging out of D'Qar. When the order goes out, everything's gonna be crazy. I wanted to warn you.”
“Oh dear,” M3 sighed.
Finn looked rightfully confused. “Why are we bugging out now? The Order's known we've been here since Starkiller.”
“We've been laying low,” Poe answered, shaking his head. “Top brass figured if we left right after Starkiller, they'd just pick us off like flies. This way they hopefully already think we left. Either way, the route's clear and we already have a new home picked out. You'll like this one. Well, I hope you'll like this one. I'll definitely like it. Beach front property everywhere you step, buddy.”
“A beach?” Finn didn't know where to take this conversation first, even if he was worried about the entire Resistance leaving the planet and that he was able to walk again and M3 calling him a civilian... But he blinked and remembered troopers complaining about how much they hated beach planets because of the sand and then he remembered Jakku and- “You sure a beach is the best place?”
“The planet and system is,” Poe nodded, totally sure of the decision. “It's in a perfect position. All we have to do is get there. And it's beautiful, Finn. By the time we get settled, maybe medical will clear you to get out of the medbay once in a while.”
So was Finn going with them? Or did no one have the heart to tell Poe until it would be too late? He made himself give a smile anyway. “Yeah, I would like to see it.”
There was something sad behind Finn's eyes, and Poe frowned when he noticed it. “You okay? What's wrong?”
The other shook his head. “Nothing. Just... tired, I guess? I've been getting around a lot more than I should have today.”
“You can't stress yourself,” Poe chastised in a half-mock, half-serious tone that he always used when he was proud about Finn pushing himself. “Don't wear yourself down before you really get going, man. Slow and steady.” Finn chuckled at Poe advising anyone to go slow and steady as the pilot leaned to the side to look outside of the room. “I just wanted to warn you, though,” he said, leaning back in. “I know PT wears you out. Didn't want us scrambling to leave and just wake you up or something. Though, I imagine you'll have a more comfortable ride than me, anyway.”
“How are you getting there?” Of course Poe wouldn't be with him. That was crazy to assume under any circumstance.
“I'm running escort in Black One,” Poe said with a hotshot smile and a wink that was likely known to make beings swoon. “It sounds badass but it's just guard duty. I'll make sure we're all there in one piece, though.”
“I know you will.” Finn smiled and wondered if this was the last time he'd get to see Poe. He tried to get a better look at him, commit his features to memory, when he realized something he should have noticed much earlier. “You're still in star fighter gear. Poe, haven't you rested yet?”
The other shrugged. “You kidding? I haven't even debriefed yet. But... now that you mention it.” He smelled and he knew it. He needed to debrief, shower, eat, and sleep before everything went into action again. Being here wasn't helping with any of that but he hardly wanted to leave Finn after missing such a milestone. Then again, he wasn't the only one that needed to rest. That was the whole point of going against orders and telling him early. “Ah, I guess I should head out and get ready. And you should, too. You need to sleep before we're in the air, mister. That's Flying 101 right there.”
“I thought Flying 101 was don't crash.”
“I told you, that was landing with style,” Poe grumbled out the same excuse he'd said a hundred other times when they found themselves joking about the TIE Fighter. He stood up and stretched. “All right, come on. Get in bed and rest up. I outrank you.”
Finn managed a genuine laugh at that one, something Poe was immensely proud of, as he got his feet back in bed without any help. “Keep telling yourself that, Dameron.”
Poe just waved him off. “Yeah, yeah. I'll see you on the new home base, all right, buddy? Might be too busy to make the rounds again.”
Yeah, he figured. Finn made himself keep the smile, though. “I'll see you later, Poe.”
He knew that something was wrong with Finn but decided not to push it right now and just smiled back. “Later, hero,” Poe said with a smile, showing himself out again.
Finn's smile vanished, and he watched the ceiling for the next few hours, waiting.
The order to evacuate base went out at the exact time Poe had said it would. There was a rush but not something like there would be during an emergency. The Resistance was clearly afraid of the First Order finding out that they were moving through some sort of means, so the idea had been to do it suddenly and quickly. With all the protocols in place, that wasn't to be a problem.
Kalonia was going from bed to bed before coming upon Finn's and finding him wide awake. “Hello there. Unable to sleep?”
“Not with everything going on,” he answered honestly.
The doctor stepped forward to his IV bag and showed him the syringe in her hand. “Something to help you rest while we're moving base.”
His hand shot out to grab her arm before she could inject it into his medicine. “I don't want it.”
“I want to stay awake.”
She paused and blinked down at him, confused at his sudden noncompliance, before moving into a soft explanation. “The journey could be jarring. We need everyone to be as relaxed as possible to not upset any injuries, especially with yours. It'll be safer for you, I promise.” When that didn't seem to change his views on the matter, she frowned and asked, “What's wrong?”
“I don't want the medicine.”
“Why?” This was new for him. He hadn't complained about anything before, even when he had every right to complain. “I assure you, there's nothing to worry about. You'll wake up just fine.”
Finn pulled Kalonia closer to his level, and she allowed him to tug her down. He glanced outside of the room and turned his attention back to her. “I'm worried that I won't wake up on the new base.”
Her confusion slowly turned into understanding before morphing into a line between pity and fury. Kalonia glared down at him and put a firm hand on his shoulder. “No one is going to touch my patients, understand me? If anyone tries, I'll give you their heads when you wake up on the new base. I swear this to you.”
Her sudden anger startled Finn into loosening his grip. He trusted Kalonia – he wanted to trust her – and felt like he was limited on his options anyway. So, he nodded. “Okay.”
“Okay,” she said quietly. He watched as the clear medicine mingled with the contents in his IV. “I'll see you on L'Umpree, Finn.”
He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, watching his IV drip for as long as he could keep his eyes open. “Okay.”
“Good morning, sunshine.”
Finn opened his eyes enough to see and wondered idly if he had gone blind before realizing that the room was just dark. He looked around slowly until he found the source of the voice.
Poe sat in a chair next to Finn's bed, decked out in jogging pants and pull-over hoodie, looking for all the world like he had just woken up, too. “Hey, there. They didn't tell me they'd be knocking you guys out. You missed entry and everything. Now you have to wait to see the beaches.”
“Poe.” They hadn't left him behind. This couldn't be dream, he refused to believe that. He realized belatedly that Poe was holding on to his hand, so he squeezed it tigher and pulled it closer to him.
The pilot just laughed awkardly but was happy to see Finn's suddenly huge if sleepy smile. “Hey, you okay?”
Finn shook his head once, too tired to move any more than that. “Really happy to see you, Dameron.”
“It's hardly been a day,” Poe laughed and was a little startled to see that Finn was crying. “Stars, they gave you the good stuff, didn't they? You're high as a kite. Do you hurt at all?”
He shook his head again, not even aware of the tears. “No, I'm okay.” And it was true. He didn't really feel anything except unrealistic amounts of relief. (Maybe he was hurting too bad after Starkiller to go through the same range of emotions or maybe he had accidently found himself truly getting attached and had time to fear the loss.) “I'm okay.”
“Whatever they gave you, I'm asking for it the next time I land in here,” Poe joked, and was happy to get a hearty laugh out of Finn. With his free hand, he tried to clear away the tears. “Just rest, yeah? When you wake up, you'll feel less loopy.”
He watched Poe for as long as he could keep his eyes open. “Okay."
Finn had never seen beaches before but he had never thought about it too hard either. Oceans, on the other hand, he was interested in. Just water as far as the eye could see. It sounded beautiful. And dangerous. It sounded horrible under the wrong circumstances, actually. But anyway, the point, he hadn't seen a beach before and didn't really know what to expect. He imagined something like Jakku except with water he couldn't drink, so... worse. He hadn't believed Poe's lavish descriptions for a second.
But Poe's descriptions turned out to be pretty spot on.
The new base was centered on an island and hidden with the planet's natural vegetation. It was like a tiny little jungle with trees climbing up to the clear sky. Just being outdoors was a wonder in itself, then experiencing the wildlife of L'umpree was amazing. But Poe didn't quit his wicked grin until the trees parted to reveal a distant horizon, where grass and weeds turned into white sand that met bright blue ocean. The water stretched ahead of them, changing into shades of green and navy. The waves made white caps on distant shores, but the water was still as glass on their little, private, almost intimate beach.
“It's so clear!” was the first thing out of Finn's mouth. He had seen plenty of bodies of water before but nothing quite like this. Then he felt dumb for blurting that out like a kid.
Poe, of course, just laughed. “Yeah, I know! It's beautiful from the sky. I'll show you if I'm ever able to take you up.” He didn't know why he just promised something like that. It wasn't like Poe was allowed to take any personnel up for just any old reason, much less someone still confined to a hover chair. But the promise was out there, and he wasn't about to take it back.
For his part, Finn doubted that little dream would ever come to pass, but it was still something to think about anyway. “I bet it's beautiful up there,” he muttered almost to himself. “Is the whole planet like this?”
“Most of it's just water,” Poe answered. “There's a lot of volcanic activity on the ocean floor. That's how this stretch of islands was made however long ago. Earthquakes are a possible hazard, but we're not expecting anything major. Not on base, anyway. Storms, too, but only during a certain season. The eggheads say it won't start back up again for another standard three years.”
Finn wanted to ask if there were plans or preparations in place for these storms but then he figured that it was too early to really start thinking about it. Then he realized they probably wouldn't be here so long as to see them anyway. “Well, it's nice for now. Humid but nice.”
“Yeah,” Poe chuckled, “but I like humid. Reminds me of ho- What are you doing?” Finn had kicked his shoes off and was pushing himself out of the chair. “Finn, sit down. What are you doing?”
“You sound like M3.”
“Finn, they're going to scalp me if you-” But the other man was giggling, and the complaints died in Poe's throat. His friend had his arms blooming away from his hips on either side like he was about to stand on a balance beam.
Finn, for his part, somehow found himself enjoying the warm feeling of sand beneath his feet. It wasn't terrible like Jakku, like sandpaper. It was soft. “I somehow have a feeling that we shouldn't be out here, Commander,” Finn teased, knowing full well that the entire base would be on this beach if they could. Then he started heading for the water.
“Well, you're definitely not supposed- Hey, wait!”
As he expected, Poe ran forward to hover beside Finn, not actually stopping him but enough to act like a security blanket if something did happen. Finn could do without the nagging, though. “I'm fine. See? Why's the water so clear?”
Poe was definitely hovering, one hand raised against Finn's back but not coming anywhere near enough to touch. Kalonia was going to mount his head in the medbay's foyer. “Because people still wounded from lightsaber duels don't get in it.”
Finn guffawed. “Well good thing it was hardly a duel,” he laughed before toeing into the water. “It's cold!” It wasn't really cold. Just not nearly as warm as he thought it would be. “Didn't BB-8 say something about the healing power of nature? This is fine.”
“Fire. He was talking about fire.”
“Take your shoes off, old man. Stop freaking out.”
“One of us has to freak out,” Poe grumbled even as he bent over to pull off his boots and socks before tossing them back towards the chair. It took a deep breath and a conscious change in demeanor before he noticed that- “Hey, you're walking really good now, ya know?”
“Thanks,” Finn chuckled. “Can't wait to get out of medbay for good.”
That's right. Poe was going to go see the quartermaster today. He'd forgotten about it. He could just point Finn in that general direction and let the guy handle it himself but he also figured that Finn was going through enough. Or maybe Poe just wanted to do something and feel useful. Who knew? “Shouldn't be long now at the rate you're going, buddy.”
“Kalonia said another week or two if PT keeps going good.” Finn let out a sigh and looked out over the water. “I can't wait until Rey sees this place.”
“Here's hoping she will soon.”
Finn turned his bright smile on Poe for a second before looking out to the horizon again. They stayed there for a few minutes until Finn apparently had enough and started meandering back to the chair.
Three major things happened all in the span of a single day.
One: Finn was finally getting released from the medbay.
“Now, I don't have to tell you to take it easy,” Kalonia lectured. “The General wants to continue having meetings with you on the First Order, but I'm sure she'll start including more of command in them now.” Poe didn't know that Finn was having private meetings with Leia until that moment. “If you do decide to recruit yourself to the cause, at the very least hold off on joining Infantry or anything strenuous for a few months. I'm sure Intelligence would love for you to extend the vacation time anyway.”
“Thank you, doctor,” Finn answered, pulling on the jacket without any help. Poe had taken some time while he was in the coma to patch it up but never found the heart to tell Finn that he had done it himself. He blamed the quartermaster for the fix and hoped Finn didn't go thank them one day. He was pulled from his thoughts when Finn got serious and really looked at Kalonia. “Really. Thank you. I owe you my life.”
She shook her head, smiled, and patted his arm. “You owe me nothing. It's the very least I could do for you, Finn.”
He seemed somewhat confused about it. Finn still hadn't grasped that Poe wasn't joking around when he called the other man a hero all of those times. He definitely was a hero to Poe anyway. Regardless, he took Finn's arm and started pulling him from the medbay. “Come on, buddy. There's a big world out there, and I've got something to show you.”
“What is it?”
Poe shook his head and lead the way through base, passing several people he knew and several more he didn't, waving at everyone regardless. A lot of people eyed Finn. Everyone knew who he was, after all. Some people glared, some winked, some just stood there gaping, some flat out ignored him.
“Seriously,” Finn started, prodding Poe in the back as they took another turn down yet another long hall, “what are you showing me? Or are you just parading me through the whole base? I don't know how to feel about that yet.”
“Calm down,” Poe laughed, stopping by a door and inputting a code in the panel. “I'm waiting to do that at lunch time anyway. It'll be fun.”
Finn frowned as the door swished open. “Sounds like a total blast.”
The other shrugged and walked in. “You gotta eat. And you already know a lot of my pilots. They're the most ridiculous idiots in there. It'll go fine.”
He hummed back, unbelieving, and looked around the room. It was clean, sparse, with a freshly made bed. “Is this your bunk?” Finn found himself a little nervous to be in Poe's personal quarters but it was off-set by confusion over the empty shelves. Poe was the sentimental type and this room just didn't fit his character.
“No,” Poe barked a laugh before clearing his throat and trying to be more sincere. “No, uh- This is your bunk.” He spun around in a circle, throwing his hands up as if he were a model trying to sell it. Except his hands were hitting the closet, desk, shelf- Well, it was the best money could buy in the Resistance. Poe's quarters (being an officer and all) wasn't much better even if he got his own refresher unit with it. “Mine's, um- Let's just say that mine's at capacity. I mean, it's not that bad, you know? Can't bring a lot with you in a military life. But I get cold at night so I have way too many blankets and I really like old physical books so I try to collect them on missions and never seem to find time to send them home and then there's the guitar-”
“Wait, wait.” Finn was blinking rapidly, looking around the tiny room. “We can go back to that later, sorry, but this is mine? The whole thing? There's only one bed. I'm not sharing with anyone? I mean, it's too small to share really, but it's all mine? I don't- like- Do you guys not have barracks?”
Two: Finn was getting his own private space to do with as he pleased for the first time in his life.
Poe kind of expected the happy surprise and subsequent shock. He knew from stories that Finn only ever bunked with his squad, and it actually did make a lot of sense. Still, he thought it would be a nice gesture to offer Finn his own place if he wanted it. “We got barracks but those are for the new guys, you know?” he shrugged. “If you want to bunk with people, like if that makes you feel more comfortable or whatever, that's not a problem either. But this room wasn't getting used anyway.” Not lately, that is. Leia had warned him ahead of time that they should get an influx of new recruits soon, new pilots, so hopefully space would start filling back up again. Starkiller hadn't been kind to their side either.
Finn wondered if this was a special room just for him, if the whole place had been bugged, and he almost declined the offer. It wasn't like the Resistance would even be able to find anything on him in bugged rooms, but something in him still got paranoid about all of this. Maybe the best idea was to leave. That was the original plan. He only stayed long enough to save Rey, after all. Like she needed saving.
But even if they didn't trust him, which he could understand even at this point, he didn't want to leave. He would like to say it was because he owed the Resistance after the injury. He would like to think that it was because he had gotten too attached to a certain pilot. It was revenge, though. He was angry. It didn't really feel good to think about.
“You don't like it?” Poe asked, trying to keep the whine out of his voice and utterly failing.
Finn jerked his head up and smiled. “No, Poe, I like it. I was just... thinking of all the reasons to stay.” He rubbed his hands over a clean shelf. Maybe the best revenge would be to live his life the way he wanted to, which included cluttering shelves with as much nonsense as he could find.
Poe, on the other hand, started to get a little scared. “Hey, if you still want to leave, that's not a problem either. I can find you a ship and directions. I was just thinking that maybe if you-”
He was cut off by a laugh. “No, Poe. I want to stay.”
“Really? You're sure.”
“Yeah, really.” He looked around the empty room happily. “I want to-” He wanted to get closer to Poe and his friends, to help General Organa get the upper hand, to get the idea in some people's heads that not all of the Stormtroopers want to be Stormtroopers. He wanted to help. “I don't want to leave.”
“Good,” Poe breathed and laughed at himself. “That's good. That's great, buddy. I can still show you off at lunch, then.”
As Finn laughed at him again, Poe realized just how disappointed and admittedly scared he had been at the prospect of never seeing his new friend again. He watched Finn shake his head and flash him that smile and- Oh, no.
Three: Poe realized he had fallen hard for Finn.
Rey had returned to the Resistance with Luke Skywalker, and Poe realized that all he felt about the situation was old. He just felt way too fucking old.
Finn scooped her up in a hug and swung her around like she weighed nothing, and Poe had never felt this damn old in his life.
Rey was pretty. Well, okay, she was beautiful. She had a lovely voice, sharp eyes, and a lightsaber hanging from her belt. She smiled broadly at Finn after he set her back down and laughed loud at something he had said. Their heads bowed together in the conversation, completely forgetting the Resistance losing their mind over Skywalker all around them, only existing in a moment just for Finn and Rey. She smiled at him, and he gazed at her.
And Poe just felt old.
Poe was old. The problem was that he kept conveniently forgetting that fact. He was definitely too old to even be looking at Finn. Then there was all of the other stuff. The whole Stormtrooper upbringing and coming from two totally different societies. Someone like Rey could understand that kind of stuff far better than Poe could. He never felt so spoiled in his life but he sure did now. He had known his parents, had grown up in a loving home, had a normal life, had the opportunity to choose if he wanted to be involved in the war or not.
He yanked hard on the power converter once, twice- three good times before it finally sprung free and threatened to make him lose his balance. Once Poe righted himself, he tossed it down to the hangar floor with a bit more force than was really warranted before diving back into Black One's engine from his perch on top of the bird.
He wasn't angry at Rey. He definitely wasn't angry at Finn. He was angry with himself for thinking for even a moment that maybe there could be something there. Something between the aging pilot with too good of an upbringing and the absolutely unrealistic hero of the entire galaxy. Maybe daydreaming about it had been fun, but it was stupid to think that he was actually worth Finn's time.
It was just a stupid crush anyway. It didn't mean anything. Besides, Finn was still young, still feeling everything out. Poe was old enough to know better. He had a job to do. They all had a job to do. That stupid shit didn't have a place here. He had been forgetting himself, had been stupid.
Poe threw down the second power converter. They weren't even in need of replacing yet. They had another week or so on them at least. He just needed something to do with his hands, which apparently included wasting Resistance resources but fuck it. It was something to do.
<Friend-Poe?> When he didn't respond, BB-8 continued. <Friend-Poe, it is dinner time. There's supposed to be lots of food to celebrate Master-Skywalker's return with Friend-Rey.>
“Yeah, I know,” he sighed but knew that wasn't enough for the droid to stop pestering him. “I'll eat later, Bee. I'm busy here.”
BB-8 whined and waited a moment before turning away and leaving. Friend-Poe wasn't acting right. He headed straight to the mess hall.
<Friend-Poe is sulking.>
Finn turned around to find BB-8 at his heels and frowned sadly. “Sorry, BB. I'm still trying to catch on to Binary. You said something about Poe, right?”
BB-8 thought that Finn was catching on well enough since he had been in mid-conversation with Jess, Snap, and Rey. The last of which also turned around to him with her friendly smile that the droid loved so much. “I'm sorry, BB-8,” Rey said, crouching down to his level, “I didn't catch any of that. What were you trying to say?”
The droid looked from Finn to Rey twice before speaking to the budding Jedi. <Tell Friend-Finn that Friend-Poe is working a lot again and has forgotten about the dinner.>
“BB-8 says that Poe's working and has forgotten to eat.”
“Aw, not now,” Finn whined before catching himself. He really wanted Poe and Rey to meet properly now that he was awake to see them interact. “Is there a lot wrong with Black One, Bee?”
<Tell Friend-Finn that Friend-Poe was doing maintenance and that Friend-Poe is also an idiot.>
“Um.” She frowned back at the droid and glanced up to Finn. “He says that Poe was doing maintenance.”
<And that he's an idiot.>
“And that he's... being silly.”
<You're not a very good translator, Friend-Rey.>
“I'm not going to say that.”
“Okay,” Finn sighed. “I'm gonna go get him. He gets like this sometimes with the X-Wing. It's no big deal. You wanna come with?”
BB-8 let out an err sound, making both of the humans freeze. After a short silence, he finally said, <That's fine>, before rolling out of the mess hall and back towards the hangar, sure that his friends were following close.
Poe was just replacing the metal plating and wondering what else he could get up to when a familiar voice met him.
“Dameron, are you going to spend all afternoon up there?”
He jolted and looked over the side to find Finn standing on the tarmac, hands in his jacket's pockets, and a huge smile on his face. Behind him sat BB-8, the traitor, and a polite looking Rey. There were few times when he had no idea what to say but this was definitely one of those times. All he knew was that he couldn't not smile back. “Buddy! Hey, man! I'm sorry. I got all wrapped up in stuff.”
“Practically no one is wrapped up in anything right now, and I know you're off duty,” Finn argued, smiling back like everything was perfect. To him, it kind of was. “Come on. At least take a second to come eat. They even have a pot full of those bean things you like with the meat.”
He was hungry. Poe hadn't eaten since breakfast and it was now after dark. He just really didn't know if he could handle everything just yet. Yet he found himself unable to resist... again. “All right, all right,” Poe laughed, not entirely faked. “Let me get the grease off of my everything and I'll join you guys.” And he might as well not be a total dick, Poe thought to himself as he jumped down with practiced ease. “Hey, Rey,” he greeted her. “Haven't been able to get a word in with you since you've gotten back.”
“I guess we've both been busy,” she chuckled as he started wiping his arms off with one of the many blue rags scattered around his tool station. “Can I ask you something?”
Poe froze and prayed she didn't notice. “Um, yeah.”
“What model X-Wing is that?” The question caught him so off guard that he almost didn't hear the rest. “We had plenty of wrecked T-65's on Jakku, but yours has a dual engine instead of a quad. I once had a flight simulator that had X-Wings similar to this but I can't place yours.”
Oh. Well. The best way to a man's heart and all that. Poe put on a big smile. “Black One's a T-70 with lots of modifications.” As she ooh'd over that, he continued. “I piloted a T-85 back with the Republic, but we can't afford that here. And to be honest, I like the T-70 better. It's way easier to modify to my own standards. Still, I know what both ships lack in certain areas. Black One is kinda one of a kind.”
“I can see that,” Rey laughed, looking up at his baby before back down to him. “Have you flown a T-65 before? Luke says that he did back during the Rebellion.”
“No, but I would love to.” It'd be second only to flying the Falcon for him. “I have flown an RZ-1 A-Wing before, though. Those things are fast.”
Rey's eyes lit up. “I love those. They must be incredible ships. They were so hard to find on Jakku. I only know of two ever being discovered in my lifetime.”
It was kind of weird to geek out with her about ships that had been shot down but he was still geeking out regardless. “I believe that! They're super hard to pilot but so worth learning for. We don't even have any in the Resistance anymore these days.”
“Luke says that the Force helps with piloting skills, and I thought that since I picked up the Falcon quickly, I could talk to Leia about piloting in one of your squadrons?”
She wasn't even finished before he got excited. “That sounds awesome! Yes, I would love that! Definitely talk to Leia. And Luke, I guess. We could definitely use a Force user in the skies. Not to mention that the we have a Boloball championship between the pilots and soldiers every year. I know that I want you on my team.”
Rey laughed at him.
“Um, guys.” They both turned to look at Finn, who was trying to pout but it couldn't really work through his smile. “I didn't finish eating, you know.”
“Oh, Finn,” she laughed again. “All right, let's go. Poe, you coming with us?”
“Right behind you.”
Finn was enjoying the evening more than he thought, but it became clear as the evening wore on that something was wrong with Poe. At first, he and Rey were chatting animatedly about almost everything, then Poe started to slowly quiet down before he was finally just silent. It was possible that he was tired but that never stopped his mouth in the past.
What made Finn really worried was when Poe declined his offer of spending the night watching holos with himself and Rey. Even if he was tired, this wasn't normal for him. “You sure?”
“Ah, yeah, buddy.” Poe scratched at the back of his head as the three of them walked down the hall to Finn's room. “I got stuff to do. Besides, you and Rey should spend the night catching up.”
He could still do that with Poe? And it wasn't like he and Rey hadn't spent the whole day together? Finn frowned, remembering that Poe was working on Black One instead of eating dinner before they took him away. Something was bothering him. An upcoming mission or the ghost of an old one or something else entirely.
“We've caught up all day,” Rey said with a little laugh to ease Finn's tension. “If you do want to come along, neither of us mind. Though, I'll admit, I'm not sure how busy an officer in the Resistance actually is.”
“Terribly busy,” Poe answered with an almost smug smirk on his face that didn't really reach his eyes. “So busy that I haven't done paperwork in a few days. The backlog is incredible.”
“Not all showboat flying then?”
“No,” he laughed genuinely. Rey must have come to the same conclusion as Finn if she was trying to make him laugh.
They finally arrived at his door and he opened it enough to usher Rey inside before turning back to Poe in the hallway. “Hey, you sure?”
For his part, Poe looked a little stunned at the special treatment. “'Course I'm sure. Why?”
Finn shrugged. “Nothing really, its just- Is everything okay?”
“'Course it is.”
“You would tell me if it wasn't?”
“Finn,” Poe sighed. “Look, Rey's back and there's no telling how long she'll stay. I want you to enjoy the time you get with her.”
“That doesn't mean just ditching you.”
“Finn.” Poe entire expression seemed to change into something Finn hadn't seen before, like he was angry or chastising. “I'm a grown man. My problems are my own. I'll handle it, all right?”
Finn wanted to push. But he hadn't seen Poe react like this before. He hadn't thought Poe would act like this towards him before. He suddenly felt bothersome, annoying, like a child. He glanced down and away. “Okay.”
Poe deflated next to him, the anger evaporating. “I'll see you tomorrow?”
“Yeah.” He turned and left.
Later on, Poe took a scalding shower, glared at himself in the 'fresher's mirror, threw... whatever he had just grabbed across the room, and fell into bed without drying off.
“He's in love with you,” Rey said from her seat on the bed as soon as Finn's door closed.
Finn was so wrapped into the conversation he had just had that he didn't hear what she said at first but even then it took a moment to register. “Huh?”
“Poe,” she elaborated. After a they stared at each other for a moment, she repeated, “He's in love with you.”
It took another second for what she was saying to sink in until it finally did and he answered her theory with a sharp laugh. “Yeah! Right. Sure,” he agreed as he picked his way across the small room.
Rey frowned, more concerned at first before it turned into a glare. “Finn, I'm serious.” He froze and stared back her. “Poe's in love with you... Haven't you noticed? He's incredibly obvious about it.”
“I-” His eyes darted around the room as if something would spring up and save him from this conversation. “No? No, Rey. You're crazy, come on. Why do you think that? We're just friends.”
She crossed her arms. “Is that how you feel? You just want to be friends?”
“I thought we were talking about Poe!”
“He thinks we're together.” Finn's higher brain function seemed to stop again. “I mean, you are cute, Finn, don't get me wrong, but I have a feeling that we're both swinging different ways here.”
“Poe thinks that we're-”
“And he's brokenhearted, yes. I can guess how you feel for him but talking to him is probably the best thing to do either way-”
“Hold on. Hold on. Wait-” He scratched hard at his scalp and tried to calm down, tried to think this one through. “Poe doesn't- Oh, man.”
“BB-8 does not know,” Finn argued, still reeling from the discovery that couldn't be true. Before he fell down, he practically dove to sit beside Rey. “This is crazy. This is- Are you sure? How sure are you?” When she just frowned at him and didn't respond immediately, he started babbling again. “I don't know, Rey. I mean, he's older and been in the Resistance all his life and he's an officer-”
Rey grabbed his shoulder and let out another sigh. “You told me that he visited you when you were down. That he helped you through therapy, got you this room, didn't want you to leave... Now he's acting like his pet's died. I mean, Finn, it's a little obvious.”
Silence fell between them as Finn took a moment to really think about this. Poe had flirted with him several times, but he figured that was just Poe and how he interacted with people. What if he did have some romantic feelings for Finn? Not that he did because that was crazy but what if- Poe was certainly handsome. He'd have to be blind to not know that. Then there was Poe's personality. He was so giving and happy and cared so so much about so many beings. He helped Finn through so much when he never had to. Yes, Finn helped him get out of the Finalizer, but it didn't warrant all of this attention. Was that why Poe was upset? Did he think he had been rejected? Would Finn reject him if-? No. No, he definitely wouldn't.
All he had to do was think for half a second what it would be like to kiss Poe Dameron, a man who was so loving and excited and- He looked back over at Rey. “What do I do?”
She smiled back at him, not calling attention to the few minutes of silence that took place while he had a hard think about the situation. “I don't have much experience but talking is a good start no matter what you want to do with this.”
“I want to kiss him.”
Rey was so startled by the serious admission that she almost fell off the bed in laughter.
Unable to sleep even after drying off, Poe threw some clothes on and began walking the base. He didn't even want to work on Black One anymore. What he really wanted to do was drink until his brain stopped thinking but it was hard to find liquor on base these days. So he walked until his feet led him into the hangar and kept walking until he was in the darkness of night out on the tarmac. The beach would probably just make him feel worse about the whole thing but he started wandering in that direction regardless.
Until a voice stopped him. “Dameron!” Poe froze on the edge of the tarmac and turned to see Finn running towards him. “You are one hard guy to find, you know that?”
“Why are you even looking for me?” he asked before Finn even had the chance to slow to a stop in front of him. “What are you doing out here?”
Finn looked... serious. And sad and worried and nervous. “We need to talk.”
Oh, was this because something was wrong with him? That was the last thing Poe wanted to talk about. He rolled his eyes and didn't even try hiding it. “We need to talk? Are you serious, man?”
“Me and Rey aren't together.”
He... didn't know what to think about that for a moment. Why weren't they together? Why had Finn said that? Did Finn figure him out? Why did he say it like that? Deflect, deflect, deflect- Poe tried to laugh. “What? Why would I-? I never even-... Well, you two certainly act like it!”
“We're not,” Finn said again. “I don't feel like that for her, and she doesn't feel that way for me. We're not together and we don't plan on it.”
Poe stared at him for another handful of seconds. “Why are you telling me this?”
Then Finn really did look scared. “Because I- I thought-... Rey said-...”
“What did Rey say?”
“Nothing!” Finn brought his hand to the side of his neck, fidgeting, biting his lip. “I don't... like Rey like that. I... like you.”
Was this a trick? A dream? But, no, it was reality... and Poe felt sick. All of those reasons about why he couldn't be with Finn boiled up to the surface. “Buddy...” This wasn't fair! The feeling was mutual. He wanted this so badly. But how could he right now? How could they? “Buddy, I-” He stopped and looked at the ground to take a deep breath and steel himself. Poe met Finn's eyes and tried to do this the decent way even if it sucked. “I'm old, all right? How many old pilots you see around here? Not including Snap, he's old as dirt, but I'm too old for this. I command all these squadrons and I go undercover all the time and- and- and you're a hero! Everyone here looks up to you! Even Brance, and his head has been surgically inserted up his ass since I met the fucker! And you're young and you're you and you've got the Jedi instead of someone who feels like a selfish entitled jerk all the time, and there's just no way! There's no way! Good shit like this doesn't happen to me! And you-!”
“Poe, shut the hell up.”
“But there's so much more I need to say!”
“Poe!” It was almost just like how the other man had barked at him earlier, but Finn took command of the situation while Poe had his mouth snapped shut. “Are you turning me down because you want to or because you feel like you have to?” He intially wanted to hear the answer and even paused for it but quickly decided that it was unnecessary. “I'm a grown adult, too. I know what I want, and you know what you want. I don't care about ages or who deserves what. I'm not a kid. I know better than anyone what it means to live in the present. Now, you wanna try that again?”
He didn't know what to say after that. Poe stared at him, blinking owlishly, before asking in an embarrassingly meek voice, “Are you sure?”
Finn furrowed his brow. “Of course I'm sure. Why wouldn't I be?” Poe gestured to himself. “And what exactly is wrong with choosing you?”
“Because it's me!” he screeched again, seemingly unable to stop doing that. “I just listed a ton of reasons about me not being a good choice and- and you're-”
Finn moved closer suddenly, crowding Poe's space and gently touching each of his arms to pull them ever closer. Poe found that he couldn't blink, couldn't breathe, and realized that they were sharing the same air. The world faded into white noise and all he could hear was Finn's quiet voice. “Well I think you're pretty fucking incredible, Poe Dameron. Should I list all the reasons why?”
He almost wanted to nod but knew that their noses would brush together so he didn't. Poe was a little too scared to move at all. Yet he couldn't tear his eyes away from Finn's lips and heard a voice say- heard his own voice say, “Kiss me.”
Finn closed the distance until their lips met and all of the world ceased to exist.