He knows who she is. Of course he does.
It’s Rey. Rey. Rey, the girl who Finn’s not been able to stop going on about, even though Poe has spent a total of three hours with the guy since he woke up. Rey, she who will bring salvation to them all. Rey, whose Force skill rivals that of Kylo Ren's. Rey. Rey. Rey.
At least, if you believe the stories.
Personally, he’s not too fond of legends. They tend to be a let-down.
In one corner of the bridge, Finn’s tucking a blanket over Rose, looking down at her with something akin to fondness. She's recovering, but it'll take some time. He can tell that he cares for her, and that's good. It’s good for him. It’s… good.
(Poe doesn’t think about it, doesn’t want to think about how good it is to see him still wearing his jacket, how good it is to see him alive and up on his feet. Now’s not the time.)
Rey’s sitting alone, looking somewhat at odds for a reason that Poe can’t read. He doesn’t quite get ‘ the Force thing’ - even though he’s seen it at work - it just doesn’t quite… gel with him. The Force might be one thing, but the only thing that keeps him in the air when he's flying is his damn good piloting skill, and he doesn't need any mysterious Force for that.
He approaches Rey, makes a show of it, and smiles widely to show he’s not a threat. She’s been trapped on Ren’s ship, she knows what he does, and she doesn’t need him to act weird around her. She’s beautiful, in a hardy sort of way, as well as a complete and total badass and he almost understands why Finn likes her so much.
“Hey, I’m Poe.”
She stands to join him. “Rey.”
“Believe me, I know.” He laughs, under his breath. Rey this, Rey that... he knows.
“How?” Her expression is guarded, but he can understand it. Dragged from the middle of nowhere into this mess? Anyone would keep their guard up.
“That lot tell stories about you, you know.” He indicates at the Rebels - at least, what remains of them. “The girl from the desert, turned into a warrior. Quite the mysterious character, you are.”
“I’m no-one’s mystery.” She turns, and moves to sit down, but he catches her arm.
He’s said something wrong, caused a problem almost immediately. Dammit. Where's his charm? He used to be so good at this. “I’m sorry.”
She blinks. “What?”
“I’m sorry. You’ve… had a hard time and I’m being an ass. Want to… uh… go for a walk?” He stumbles over his words, wondering not for the first time if he’s got a head injury. “I can stop talking for a bit, you can clear your head - there’s worse places to go.”
She looks at him for a moment, clearly weighing up her options, then sighs. “I suppose so. Come on, then."
Chapter 2: tears
The ship hums around them as they walk.
They’ve escaped, but at what cost? They’re down to their bones. The Rebels are scattered. Sometimes he wonders if it’s worth it. There’s probably only 20 or so Rebels left on the ship, and even that’s pushing it.
“I went to Ben, you know.” Rey interrupts his musing, very matter-of-factly. “Thought I could save him.”
“He even killed Snoke for me and helped me fight off all of his Praetorian Guards. I thought that was enough - I thought he’d come back with me, but he just walked away.”
Snoke was dead? Snoke was dead . Poe stops himself from running, turning back towards the bridge and screaming that to the heavens. But no. It doesn’t matter, not if Ren’s still around. “That must have been hard.”
“Yeah.” She says, after a moment. “Yeah. It was. Because I could feel the good in him, you know, but he just walked away from it. We could have ended this here. Now. But he- and Luke-”
Her voice catches on a high sob.
Does that mean… Poe guides her down to sit against one of the Falcon’s walls. “Luke’s… dead?”
“Gone.” She says, firmly. “He’s gone.”
Despair hits him hard and fast, even though he never actually met the man in the flesh. This isn’t the news that the Rebels need right now. It’s not the news he needs right now. Luke Skywalker was always this paragon, this guiding light that the Rebellion could always rely on. What will they be without him? At least they’ve still got the General.
“Yeah.” She draws her knees up to her chest and rests her head on them. “Yeah.”
There doesn’t seem to be much more he can say, so he goes for it. What does he have to lose? “Can I hug you?”
“Why would you want to?”
“Because if I leave you here alone you’ll sit and go over everything in your mind that you could have changed about today. You’ll think of the one lightsaber stroke you could have done differently, or the one word you could have said to change the outcome of today. It’s war, Rey, but the day’s over. You can rest now.”
“You sound like Luke.”
He’s not sure if that’s praise. He supposes that they’re similar in some respects. “This battle’s been going on for a long time. You pick things up.”
She sniffs into her knees, but he doesn’t acknowledge it. She’s a fighter. She doesn’t want him to acknowledge her weakness. “Poe?”
“Can I have that hug?”
Crying into Rey’s shoulder doesn’t feel as shameful considering she’s doing the same to him.
Neither of them mention it.
Chapter 3: the cabin
The Falcon’s a decently sized ship, but it’s hardly big enough for all of them. They lumber across the galaxy, trying not to attract the attentions of the First Order, and everyone attempts to fit in where they can.
Rey’s made her home in one of the old smugglers compartments, by the end of their first week in the Falcon, deep underneath one of the floors of the ship. It’s small, hardly big enough for a couple of people standing up, but she seems to like it just fine.
Poe, who has very little to do now that they’re not actively fighting a war, knocks on the grate and says, “can I come in?” BB-8 chirps wildly from beside him.
“Do you have food?”
It’s no secret that Rey likes food. If the First Order knew that, they could probably tempt her to their side using a Nuna salad sandwich and a handful of Corellian hotcakes. The thought is disturbing.
Rey slides the grate open from underneath, pokes her head out, and says, “Come on then.” She pats BB-8 on their head before disappearing from view once more.
Poe tosses a small package of schroomchips in her general direction, before climbing down. BB-8, far too spherical to fit in the tiny space, whines mechanically before rolling off down the corridor in search of more interesting things to look at.
The compartment is even smaller than it looked from the outside. There’s a makeshift bed, crates piled to the ceiling, and junk strewn everywhere. Rey’s perched on one end of the bed, legs crossed.
It’s also unbelievably messy.
“This. Is filthy.” Poe says, moving a stack of what looks like mechanical parts (???) off the end of the bed so he can sit down. He’s lucky they’re roughly the same height.
“Like yours is any better.”
Poe’s accommodation at present is a bunk, half of which is taken up with parts for BB-8. It’s very… greasy, but he’s fine with it all the same. “Point. Everytime Finn walks past he starts worrying that I’ll catch a disease.”
“No need for water restrictions on a Star Destroyer.” Rey grins, ruefully. “Bet they have ‘freshers and all.”
“Simple but functional.” Poe agrees. “Probably.”
“How is he?” She asks, suddenly.
There’s no question to who she means. “Finn’s… pining. I have no idea if that’s the right word. It’s obvious he cares about Rose and she’s still asleep, and I think he thinks he did something wrong. Also, his.. Uh… team leader? Mentor? Whatever the First Order calls people who look after them? - died and that might be weighing on him.”
“He hated the First Order.” Rey says, flatly.
“Yeah, but if you had someone looking after you for all of your life - even if you hated them - surely you’d feel strange about it if they died.”
“Maybe.” She doesn't sound convinced.
It suddenly occurs to him that she would have never had that experience. He had Rebel
on Yavin 4, but Rey, all out in the middle of nowhere left to fend for herself…?
It hurts his heart. He ignores it and changes the subject. “You could go and ask Finn all of that yourself.”
“Finn’s occupied. He doesn’t need me.”
“What Finn needs is people around him to support him. You need that too. We all do. It’s one of the problems of being alive, I suppose.” He nudges her in the shoulder with his own.
She sighs and slumps back against the wall next to him. “Do you have anyone like that?”
“Used to.” Friends who stay around are hard to come by in the Rebellion. Usually they die, so it’s easier not to get too attached. He gets on fine with everyone, sure, but those relationships are not quite what he’s looking for.
She huffs again. “So you’re saying that I should… look out for Finn? Even if he’s… weird about it?”
“ Why is living with other people so complicated? Having feelings, bumping into people in corridors - it’s overrated.” She grabs her package of schroomchips off the floor and tucks into them with some serious vigour.
“You care about Finn too, then, huh?”
Rey glares at him balefully, still eating her chips, and doesn’t answer.
He doesn’t know why he presses the subject. It’s very uncharacteristic of him, and if he wasn’t quite so affected by the sheer waves of discomfort radiating through the ship, he probably wouldn’t have.
(Hell, of course he knows. He’s not an idiot. He’s got his own ulterior motives, like Rey no doubt has.) Quietly, he asks, “do you love him?”
She jumps, and the chips go flying. Ferociously, she hisses. “Do I love him? Do I love him? I’ve known him for such a short amount of time, how would I know? I don’t even know what ‘loving’ someone like that means!”
Alone on Jakku, all this time… It’d make sense if she didn’t… “When you care for someone. When you want to spend time with them. When you want them to touch you. When the thought of them leaving you hurts. And other things like that.”
“That can’t be love. I feel all of those things for you.” Rey says, scornfully, and starts picking her chips off the floor.
Oh. Well. That is a development.
He leaves her as quickly as he dares and goes off to find BB-8.
(He’s definitely not running away.)
The General makes the executive decision to land on Batuu, a warm planet near the edge of the Outer Rim, so they can rest, refuel, and hopefully regroup.
Batuu’s not a safe planet, exactly, because it’s become a haven for smugglers and criminals in more recent years, but it has an abandoned Rebel outpost on the eastern side.
The smugglers and criminals on the planet aren’t exactly fond of the First Order, though, which is something.
Poe quite literally runs into Finn on the way out of the Falcon, while he’s holding a large crate that may or may not contain several bottles of fine Corellian whiskey.
(He found it in Rey’s room, and it’s not like Han’s using it anymore. If anything, he’d probably be grudgingly pleased it was being repurposed.)
“Finn! Hi!” He’s almost embarrassed about how happy he sounds. He puts the box down before breaks the (definitely not) whiskey inside.
“Have you been avoiding me?”
“No.” Poe replies, smoothly. It’s not technically avoiding. He’s been giving him space.
Finn folds his arms and eyes him in a way that suggests he’s not quite convinced. “Really.”
“Rey and I thought you needed space. With Rose.” He realises he probably could have phrased that better. “Time to deal with… things.”
And the way his face lights up at the mention of her name stings, but he ignores it. Not now. Those two. They’re both idiots and completely, utterly oblivious. “Rey’s good. You should spend more time with her. You know.”
“She’s avoiding me too.”
“She really, definitely, is not.” He supposes he can understand it. Both Rey and Finn were brought up in less-than-ideal circumstances and probably have absolutely no experience with this sort of thing, but if he has to be the middleman in this, it’s going to hurt. “How about you talk to her about this?
“Really.” Finn narrows his eyes at him. “What are you doing, Poe?”
“Nothing.” He says quickly. Too quickly. “Good talk, pal, gotta go.”
He claps Finn on the back, and picks up the box of whiskey. He’s not going to get involved in it. Rey and Finn obviously have something between them, and he’s not going to begrudge them that.
The whiskey leaves a sour taste in his mouth.
He spends the next three days helping to fix the defenses around the base and resolutely avoiding both Finn and Rey.
Hopefully without him they’ll be able to sort themselves out. While he does fancy himself as a matchmaker (at times), he’s not going to intrude.
They’re better off without him.
Which leads to him climbing to the very top of the base, clamping himself to the aerial, spending several hours fixing their long-range transponder and resolutely thinking about nothing.
BB-8 chirps worriedly from below him. Friend-Poe, your elevation is nonoptimal. Do not fall.
“It’s good, Bee!”
When he comes down he’s sweaty, tired, and has grooves worn into his skin from the climbing harness. BB-8 rolls eagerly over to him and he pats them on their head, before flopping back against the wall.
It’s at about that time that Kaydel pops her head out from inside a large instrument panel at the base of the transponder tower and says, “You’re pining.”
“What are you - how did you even get in there?” He asks, rather taken aback. Kaydel’s small, yes, but climbing inside instrument panels is a bit much, even for her.
“I have my ways.” She replies, mysteriously. “I’m fixing the connections to the power cell, which you forgot to do, so the whole transponder doesn’t blow when you switch it on.”
“I mean - I was going to.” He was. It hadn’t slipped his mind in all of the confusion. Definitely not.
“Sure.” She ducks her head back inside the panel. “Come sit!” Her voice is muffled, but he can hear her clearly enough to know that it’s not something he can get out of.
He drops his bag of tools to the floor and collapses next to the panel just as his legs give out. “I’m not actually pining.” Bee rolls over and nudges at his arm until he loops it over over them.
“Mmmm, sure.” Her tone belies no argument. “And I’m not actually inside an instrument panel right now.”
“I’m not!” He’s not. Why would he be pining? “A lot of things have happened recently. I’m just… processing them.”
“Of course.” Kay hums, and sticks her hand out of the panel in his general direction. “Wrench.”
He passes her the wrench.
“If you’re not pining, why do you look so unbalanced when Rey and Finn are together? Or when Finn cares for Rose? Everyone’s happily together. If they’re just your friends, you should be happy for them to spend time together.”
“I am happy for them.”
If Bee could snort, they would. You are not displaying the dictionary definition of happiness, Friend-Poe.
“Bullshit.” Kay throws the wrench out of the panel and it hits him on the arm, narrowly missing Bee in the process. He doesn’t know if it was purposeful or not. “You’re pining.”
“I’m not pining.” He thunks his head back against the transponder and immediately regrets it. “....ow.”
“You are.” Her tone is matter-of-factual and unwavering. It doesn’t give him much room for argument.
She and the General are very similar in that regard. He’s always admired women like that, who speak clearly and matter-of-factly, but with an absolute desire to get what they want.
It almost makes him want to blurt out all his problems to her. But he shouldn’t. Gossip spreads like wildfire on a Rebel base. “I’m not.”
Bee beeps. Friend-Poe, ‘pining’ is described as ‘missing or longing for something’. You are pining.
Damn. Why is it now that Bee’s decided to run amok?
Kaydel sighs prolongedly from inside the panel. “You are pining. And that’s final. We’re not going to keep arguing about this. Go and do something before I’m forced to do something.”
“What would you be forced to do?” He asks, genuinely curious. Kay’s a good friend, but she’s strangely fixated on this.
“I don’t know!” She pelts him with another tool. “Lock you all in the emergency shuttle until you sort this out?”
Friend-Rey likes the emergency shuttle. Friend-Kay’s idea is satisfactory. Bee nudges even more into his side.
Rey likes the emergency shuttle? What does that mean? No-one could like the emergency shuttle. It’s tiny, it’s warm and - oh. Damn, that hurts his heart.
He can’t do this. He can’t be the sort of person that his friends need. Life experience is nothing when dealing with the sort of trauma that those two have faced.
“See, even Bee agrees with me.” Kay drags herself out of the panel and slides it shut. “We’re fixed. You go and fix yourself.”
Poe rises to his feet, resolutely ignoring her for the moment, and powers the transponder on.
All lights green. Good.
“Well, are we finished with this heart to heart?” Kay asks, dusting herself off. “I have several other emotionally-stunted idiots to console before dinner.”
“It’s true though.” She laughs and punches him on the arm. “Bye, Poe. Later, Bee.”
She picks up her tools and turns to leave but Poe hurriedly catches her arm and says, “They’re both so young, Kay.”
“Is that really what’s stopping you?” She replies, not even bothering to turn around. “Or is it because you’re too afraid to care about people because you're afraid of losing them?”
“They don’t know what the galaxy is like. They don’t know what loving is like. I don’t want to ruin it for them.”
Bee whines with some discontent. Friend-Poe only ruins things sometimes. Not all of the time.
“Thanks, Bee.” He huffs.
“Get over yourself, Poe.” Kay gently removes his hand from her arm and pats it. “Word of advice. We’re at war. Don’t leave it too late.”
And with that damning admonishment, she leaves him.
Poe stares after her, feeling oddly bruised by her words. Bee nudges the back of his legs, making him stumble and grab onto the edge of the transponder tower for support
Friend-Poe needs to be happy. Friend-Rey and Friend-Finn make Friend-Poe happy.
“Yeah.” Poe murmurs, patting Bee gently on their dome. “Yeah, they do.”
Chapter 6: Chapter Six
tw for a bit of gruesome medical stuff.
believe me, this is not just going to be damerey! i'm getting there!
Before Poe has a chance to do anything about his damn brain and his stupid, stupid feelings, the General orders them all off on a reconnaissance mission.
There’s (yet another) base on the southern side of the planet - this one an old Empire one - and the General believes that there’ll be enough parts in it to repair their own base.
If they’re really lucky, they might even find some abandoned ships, so they won’t have to spend all their time ferrying things back and forth in the emergency shuttle.
The General (probably because she wants this weird tension to stop happening) sends him, Finn and Rey.
Bee is not allowed to come, because they’re too spherical to even have a remote chance of fitting in the emergency shuttle.
The emergency shuttle is good for being directed to one location and then left alone, so Rey programs in the coordinates and then they all sit back in their seats and watch as the ground falls away beneath them.
“So,” Poe says, jovially, trying very hard not to make things weird. “Anyone know any jokes? Games? If I have to sit here and watch the forest for the next four hours, I’m going to give myself over to the First Order.”
The joke falls very flat. In hindsight, maybe it was a little too much.
“You feeling okay?” Finn asks, sounding genuinely concerned. He’s sitting stiffly in his chair, palms resting on his knees. It’s almost uncomfortable how militarised it is. Poe wonders if he knows he’s doing it.
“I’m fine.” Poe listened to Kaydel, recognised the truth in her words, but he’s not going to do anything about it. Fleeting attractions pass, in time. This shuttle trip isn’t going to help matters, but he’s dealing with it.
“You sure?” Rey asks, sitting cross-legged in her chair. She swings from side to side, but resolutely keeps her eyes on his face. “You’ve been weird for days.”
“Completely fine.” He swings his chair around and checks the map. Three hours, 58 minutes until they reach their destination.
He suddenly understands why people invented faster-than-light travel. Unfortunately, the shuttle doesn’t have that capacity.
It’s going to be a long three hours and 57 minutes.
Rey and Finn spend the majority of the next few hours talking to each other in a language that he doesn’t know, while casting occasional glances in his direction. They’re weird glances, that leave him hot under his collar for reasons he can’t quite place.
They’re scheming. He can tell.
Of course, it doesn’t last. They’re ten minutes out from their destination when a stray concussion beam comes out of nowhere, strikes the shuttle, and they start plummeting towards the earth.
Waking up is painful.
He gets his eyes half open before he realises that he can hardly see anything through the blur in his right eye. He wipes at it. It doesn’t change, though his hand comes away bloody.
“Finn? Rey?” He yells, though he can hardly hear through the ringing in his ears, and manages to push himself up onto his right arm. They’re here. He needs to find them. He needs -
It’s dark. It’s so dark.
He’s out like a light before he’s even hit the floor again.
Consciousness is tricky. It darts away from Poe like a firefly, forcing him to chase it down.
He wakes, and he still can’t see out of his right eye.
Well, he can’t do anything about it here.
He levers himself up on his left arm, trying hard not to put too much pressure on the bruises on his right. The ringing in his ears has stopped, but he still can’t stand without wobbling.
The dim light filtering through the cracks in the hull is just enough to help him see. He picks his way through the debris, stumbling occasionally, until his foot kicks something soft.
“Finn? Buddy?” He drops to his knees, digs away most of the detritus piled across his unmoving frame. “Can you hear me?”
And he panics, just for a second, because he doesn’t think Finn’s breathing. “No. Dammit. Come on.”
Sweaty fingers slipping on the clasps around Finn’s neck, he tears his shirt opens and feels for a pulse. “Come on.”
Nothing. He feels around his neck, the base of his throat, his collarbones.
But then there’s something. A weak fluttering, hardly recognisable as a heartbeat.
Poe drops his head to Finn’s chest, breath stuttering out weakly.
The faint rising and falling of the younger man’s chest is enough to prove it. He’s alive.
“Thought I lost you for a minute there.” Poe swallows heavily, rubs a comforting thumb over Finn’s shoulder, and goes to find Rey.
He’s not going to think about it.
She’s been flung to the other end of the ship, and is just opening her eyes when he stumbles up to her. One of her arms is twisted at an awful angle.
“Finn?” She croaks, upon seeing him. “Is he-”
“Alive.” He replies. “Not good though.”
“Can’t really see.”
“Okay.” She grunts, and pulls herself to her feet with her good arm. She looks at her left arm, which flops clumsily to her side and huffs through her teeth. “Going to have to fix this. So I can fix the ship. Give me something to bite down on.”
“Someone shot us down. We can’t be loud. I’ve done this before.”
And it’s clear, by the roughness in her voice, that she means during her time on Jakku. Shit. A woman like Rey, left to fend for herself, having to deal with these kind of things alone? That hurts his heart even more than his injuries do.
He finds a thick strip of leather among the debris and hands it to her.
She puts it between her teeth and lines up with the thick edge of one of the ship’s panels.
Poe, without thinking, offers her a hand.
She tilts her head, looks at him quizzically.
“Solidarity. Come on.”
She nods, understanding, and grasps his hand with her good one. Soldiers on the battlefield. That’s all they really are, now. Anything to make it slightly better.
Poe can’t look as she bangs her shoulder into the wall, but he can feel it. Her nails bite deep into the meat of his hand and he takes in a sharp breath, trying hard not to cry out.
There’s a sickening, visceral crack , and when he looks back, her arm’s back in its socket.
She exhales sharply, and spits out the leather. There’s thick teeth marks shining wetly in the faint light of the cabin. She grunts. “Not good.”
“Yeah.” He looks back at her face and sees that her eyes are filled with tears. “Are you-”
He doesn’t know why he asks. Rey doesn’t like being treated gently. She’d rather suffer in silence than ask for help.
It hurts that he can’t help them.
“We’ll get the ship fixed and fix me later.” She says, gruffly, and wipes a grubby hand across her eyes. “Come on.”
The ship is ruined. The command console is entirely destroyed, only one of the thrusters responds when Rey manages to connect to it, and there’s no way that they’re getting off the ground without a pressurised seal anyway. Even the comms don’t work.
What’s even worse is that the door doesn’t even open.
They’re stuck, with an unknown assailant on their way, and it’s beginning to get dark.
The pair of them slump down against the wall next to Finn’s prone body. He’s still breathing, but it’s slower, less rhythmical. It doesn’t look good.
Things can’t get much worse.
That is, of course, when the laser fire starts. It’s nearby, concussive, and he has no idea whether or not it’s friendly.
“Do you… uh… feel anything?” He asks Rey, who’s leaning into his shoulder, brow furrowed slightly. He believes in the Force, of course he does, but it’s still weird to have to ask about it.
Even blind in one eye, on the possible edge of death. Some things are still weird.
“Rage…” She breathes in sharply, jaw tense. “Blood, and fire. They want to kill us.”
“They-” She gasps, suddenly, and violently flings her head back against the wall, like a puppet on a string. “Ow, dammit.”
“Rey?” Poe asks, worriedly.
She feels along the back of her scalp with one hand. It comes away red and slicked with blood. “I think I’ll just sleep now…” She slurs, hand dropping to her side. “They… don’t know where we are. But they want us. Bad.”
“You really shouldn’t sleep.”
She waves him away. “It’s fine- ‘m fine.”
Her head droops down onto his shoulder, and he wraps an arm around her. With the last of his strength, he pulls a rag free from the debris and presses it against the gash in her scalp.
“If… die… tell him, ‘kay?” Rey floppily waves a hand in Finn’s direction. “You… know.”
“I do.” Because he does. It’s obvious what’s unspoken between them. It’s been obvious ever since he saw them both together. “But you’re not going to die.”
“Hope... no’.” She drops her free hand to his chest and cuddles further into his side. “You’re so... good, Poe. Finn thinks so… too.”
“I’d hope so, considering I’ve been helping save your asses for a while now.” He just manages to say the entire sentence without wavering. She doesn’t need to know how worried he is. The meaning of the words don’t matter. Not now. “Don’t go to sleep, Rey.”
“...need to.” She threads his fingers through hers and leans in even closer. She’s so cold. Too cold.
But she shoots him a bright grin that’s only a semblance of her usual, and passes out right there on his chest.
And nothing he does can wake her.
Chapter 7: Batuu, Pt 2
Isolation is cold.
It aches in his bones, hangs hollow in the pit within his heart.
It hurts even more than the wounds on his body, the film over his eyesight, and the bruises around his wrists.
This cage is dark and damp, but he hardly feels it. He’s too worried about the silent bodies of his friends beside him. They’re both still breathing, he can tell that much, but he doesn’t know what damage has been done to their insides.
Coming to Batuu had always been a risk. They’d known that. They’d planned for it.
Apparently they’d not planned well enough.
A raid on an unmarked crashed emergency vehicle is the kind of thing that only really fiendish people would do, and unfortunately, Poe knows the type. Whoever their capturers are… they’re not the First Order. The First Order would never do something so dirty. If it was the First Order, they would have raided the main base, then picked off the stragglers.
They wouldn’t have waited long enough to shove them into a cage.
No, this is desperation. This is a well-organised group of raiders who haven’t a clue what to do with them. This is a bunch of raiders that didn’t expect survivors.
Or maybe they did.
Maybe they want them.
Poe shudders, and grasps Rey and Finn more firmly by the hands. If the raiders do want them, they’ll have to go through him first.
Rey’s a Jedi now (almost), and Finn was brought up by the First Order. They’re more important to the Rebellion anyway, in the end.
Sleep doesn’t come easy and it’s a staggered, twisted thing. He wakes more than once with a dry rasp in the back of his throat, violent coughs forcing their way out of his chest.
He’s soaked with sweat, heat shimmering under the surface of his skin, when he wakes properly. A fever. He’s running a fever. One of his cuts has got to be infected. If he doesn’t get out of here soon he’ll be no use to anyone.
The faint light of dawn filters into the cage and falls onto Finn’s face. He’s still breathing, heart’s still pumping.
He checks Rey.
He stands, does his best to pace the cell - trying, at least, to keep some measure of his strength up. It doesn’t work. The world starts swimming around him after two laps and he drops to the floor, sparks flicking wildly in his vision, after six.
At least he’s not totally blind in one eye any more.
That’s one thing that could be worse.
He must knock Finn or something when he falls back to the floor, because the younger man stirs, eyelids fluttering.
Poe can just see the movement in the dim light of the cage. He leans forward, taps two fingers against the smooth skin of Finn’s cheek. “Finn?”
There’s nothing for a few seconds, just a faint wheeze of breath.
“Come on, buddy, give me something to work with here.” There’s an embarrassing amount of desperation in his voice, but he’s really got no more to give. If they were captured by the First Order, maybe he’d try harder to keep some composure, but he doesn’t care if two-bit criminals see him beg. “Please.”
And he could cry at the sound of that voice. “Finn. Thank fuck. ”
“Language.” Finn croaks and reaches out blindly towards him. He doesn’t open his eyes.
Poe doesn’t know if he wants to.
Finn’s blind flailing hand smacks him in the face, so he grabs it and holds it tightly. “We’ve been captured by… someone. Not the First Order. You and Rey aren’t looking so hot, I’m… not feeling too great either. Any bright ideas?”
“Would it… be a good idea to open my eyes?”
“I’m probably not the picture of poster boy elegance right now.”
Finn cracks open an eye and winces. “True that. You look like hell. Should I-”
And then he tries to sit up. Like an idiot.
Poe does all he can to stop him from moving, by gripping him tighter around the hand and guiding him back down. “You’re broken. A lot. Please don’t move.”
The other man winces again and draws in a sharp breath through his teeth. “Not planning to, for the record. What happened?”
Poor memory recall. That’s never good. “Mission to abandoned Empire base to find tech? You and Rey were scheming about something? Then we got shot down?”
“Rey and I weren’t scheming. ” Finn pouts in his general direction. “We were- actually, I don’t really remember. It was important. I’m sure. I just-”
“Your head’s a bit fuzzy? Don’t worry, I can fill you in on the circumstances of the last few hours in appropriately gruesome detail.” He presses a kiss to the back of Finn’s knuckles and places his hand back down, heart hammering heavily in his chest. He doesn’t even really know why he did it.
This is why doing anything with a potentially life-threatening fever is a bad idea.
Finn’s gaze weakly flicks over his body and then settles on his face. He doesn’t say anything.
That’s not necessarily a good sign.
But then he sighs, relaxes into the pain, moves past it. “You going to tell me how we got here or what?”
So Poe does.
By the end of the story his head’s hammering louder than his heart, and he’s coughing every few seconds. “Basically, if we have to fight anyone off, we’re fucked. I can hardly stand and there’s no way that either of you can.”
“Thank you for the good news.” Finn moves in a way that would probably be nodding if he was actually up to it. “How are you? Really?”
He slumps back against the cage wall, a tiny huff of pain being forced out as he did. “Not so good and getting worse. Standing for any long amount of time is a no-go.”
“...We wait, then?”
He nods, and holds out a hand to Finn. What he doesn’t expect is that the other man takes it , and interlaces their fingers together. “We wait.”
The handholding doesn’t feel like much, but right now, it’s all they’ve got.
The use of gender neutral pronouns 'ze' and 'hir' are used in this chapter.
The guards that come to collect him don’t speak Basic, or at least ze don’t want to. Ze drag Poe to his feet, which really, is a feat in itself, because he’s not been able to walk for several hours, and rip him away from Finn at the same time.
“No.” He gasps, but it barely comes out as a whisper. He’s burning up inside, every movement sending flames coursing down his spine.
He’s going to die here. He can feel it.
Finn watches him go, one eye cracked open. He doesn’t move, but he and Rey are still breathing. That’s enough.
There’s so many things he could say, but he can’t speak them. His throat’s too dry.
He hopes they both know.
The big creature sitting in the prime position in the room is vaguely humanoid, but with deep grey skin. Poe doesn’t know whether he’s never seen one before, or if he’s just too far gone to remember.
It’s not like him to be pessimistic, to see no other way out, but the world hurts too much to try for cheeriness any more. He doesn’t see a way out of this one.
To have fought for the Rebels for so long and to die of a blood infection in enemy territory? Pathetic.
“Kneel.” The creature in the chair snaps, and Poe’s forced to the stone floor below with a kick to one of his knees.
He sags, muscles stinging. Even holding his head up is too much effort. The world’s beginning to go dark around the edges again. It’s not going to be long now.
“What business does the Rebellion have on my world?” The creature speaks in Basic, with a twang that Poe can’t place. It’s hard on the ears.
Hir world? Hir world.
“We are hardly a rebellion.” Poe whispers, not able to even attempt to make the words even louder. A cough forces its way out of his chest and he groans. “We are trying to survive. Nothing more.”
“You have invaded my planet.”
“Your planet is covered in smugglers and other criminals. Why do we matter so much?”
“Those who live here have paid for the privilege. You have not.” The creature grunts.
Poe manages to take a look at hir. Ze doesn’t look angry, not exactly, just vaguely irritated. Stars, he does not have the energy to negotiate right now. “What do they pay in? We do not have many people, but we’re skilled in many areas. We could offer repairs. Other things.”
“They pay in slaves.”
Fuck. He sags again, this time fully over, and places his head to the floor. It’s cool, and makes him shiver, uncontrollably. Fuck, he’s sick. It hurts to cough this way, but he can’t seem to stop himself. “We’re many things, but we don’t trade in people, man.”
“I didn’t think you would come along willingly.” The creature grunts, and before he knows what to do, Poe’s dragged to his feet again.
He gasps, crying out, as tears spring unbidden to his eyes. It hurts. It hurts. It hurts hurts hurts. Everything flickers, just for a moment, but then springs back into focus. “We’re all dying. All three of us. We’ll be dead in hours. We’re no use to you.”
“No matter.” The creature snaps several things that sound like instructions in a language he doesn’t recognise. “I have always enjoyed watching humans die.”
Poe doesn’t get a farewell. He’s stumbling back along the corridor, bare feet scraping against the rough stone floor. They’re probably bleeding right now.
He can’t even tell.
He lands on his knees back in the cell and just manages to see that Finn and Rey are still breathing, right before his vision completely goes again. He wavers, falls onto his chest, and scrabbles for a handhold, somewhere, someone.
There’s scoffing behind him, but he can’t turn his head to look. It wouldn’t matter anyway, all he can see right now is smeared images, like the world’s behind a pane of glass that’s not been cleaned properly.
It’s too much.
He shakes his head and gets one moment of sharpness - just enough to drag himself up to the wall and sit between his two friends. He can’t last any more. He can’t stop this. There’s nothing more he can do.
He coughs again, deep and hacking and bloody, and reaches for their hands. With one of Rey’s in his left and one of Finn’s in his right, he finally lets the darkness take him.
At least the others will go out in their sleep.
“Poe? Open your eyes for me.”
“Poe, I need you to breathe for me.”
Sometime in the darkness, he retches, but he can’t push out the evil from inside him. It hurts, it hurts, it hurts, and he wants it to stop.
“Poe - you need to calm down!”
“Captain Dameron, snap out of it!”
Consciousness hits him like a punch to the gut and he recoils, curls up into a ball, drags cold raspy sheets up around him and over his body.
It’s dark here - and tastes like dust.
“Poe, open your eyes.”
“Don’t want to.” The last time he’d been awake his friends had been dying. He doesn’t want to see them dead now.
“Stop acting like a child.” The General barks, and then BB-8 chirps from somewhere close by.
The General? Leia?
Is he dead? Are they dead?
Friend-Poe, you are safe. Bee chirps, and it gives him the strength to open his eyes. Just a little.
He can’t see anything for a moment, but that’s because of the sheets.
It takes a lot of strength to pull them back.
Leia’s sitting far too close, and eying him with some exasperation. “You. Are a moron.” She says, and thwacks him over the head with one of her gloves.
It throbs and it throbs, and yeah, that’s probably the head wound. “What did I do - I’m still not convinced that this isn’t some sort of hallucination.”
You are not hallucinating, Friend-Poe! Bee rolls over and nudges at his hand. It’s usually never this friendly. It’s a nice change. I am equipped with many sensors and will tell you when you are!
Actually, scratch that on the ‘nice change’ thing. Poe tries to focus. “What did I do? And where did Finn and Rey go? Are they okay? Did they… survive?”
They had to have survived. He would know it if they hadn’t. He’d survived. Surely.
Leia sighs. “Sooner or later your luck is going to run out, Poe - you can’t keep on being so self-sacrificing. Finn and Rey are both fine. Sore, groggy, but fine.”
It’s very rare in this world that he ever gets such good news.
“Yes.” Leia reaches out, grasps him by the shoulder and squeezes gently. “I push you a lot, Poe, I know, but the loss of any one of you three would have been -”
She cuts herself off and shakes her head carefully, refusing to meet his eyes. “-Never mind. Look. All three of you survived. We negotiated a deal with the owners of this planet. Aside from the loss of the shuttle there was no harm done.”
It’s clear that Leia’s hiding something from him, but he’s not going to push it. She’s had a lot of loss in recent years - the potential deaths of Finn, Rey and himself hardly equate to Han and Ben but even so - so he doesn’t make a thing of it. Plus, his head hurts too much to even try. “How bad am I? Can I go and see the others?”
It’s not even a question. He’s not going to let her stop him.
That’s probably pretty obvious in his voice, considering the look Leia gives him. “You nearly went blind in one eye, and you have a lot of broken ribs which haven’t healed properly because you rejected the bacta. Do you think you can walk?”
He tries to move - everything hurts a lot , but he’s not going to complain about it.
“You’re an idiot.” Leia says, but there’s a twinkle in her eye that suggests she’s been exactly where he is before. “But I’m not going to stop you. Come on.”
She helps lever him out of bed - with some struggling, on both their parts - even though he’s bowed from the pain he still stands a fair sight taller than her - but to her credit, she doesn’t let him fall.
Rey and Finn are sitting up and talking in their beds two rooms over. He feels a selfish, silly jolt of confusion - why had they been put in the same room - but it’s immediately replaced by something coming unknotted in his chest.
Bruised, broken - but alive.
Everything that’s felt so wrong for days feels right again. It’s a relief.
And suddenly he’s moving, moving much faster than should be possible with all of his broken parts and falling to the ground between the beds. It’s too much - it should hurt - but all he can feel is the relief, the connection, the feeling of seeing them both together and well and alive once again.
There’s tears dripping down his face and it takes him a moment to realise that they’re his. He doesn’t cry - usually - but this - this is too much. “Finn. Rey. You’re alive. You’re here.” He gasps, in a voice so hoarse that the words barely make it through.
They’re moving too - slowly and quickly and all at once - and suddenly they’re on the floor next to him, and it must hurt, surely it must hurt, but they don’t seem to feel it. In the distance, somewhere far away, Leia says, “I will… leave you to it.”
Rey sidles up next to him - skinny, scrappy, beautiful Rey and presses her face into his neck. It’s uncharacteristically tactile of her, but he worships it, relishes in the warmth of her body, wants more of it. “You took forever to wake up.” She says, muffled, and he laughs and presses a kiss to the top of her head.
It’s then that he realises that something is missing. Finn. Poe lifts his head, eyes him with some confusion. The other man is hanging back, looking torn. It’s like - he doesn’t quite know where his place is.
Which is heartbreaking.
“Finn.” He says, tiredly. “I want you too. We both do.”
He’s speaking for Rey, too, but it’s obvious. It’s transparent. What they’ve gone through - the horrors they’ve endeared - there’s nothing more to say. The tension in the room - they all feel it.
“Yeah.” Finn says, still staring, still wide-eyed. “Yeah. Me too.”
And he joins them in their embrace.
Not much more is said for a while after that.