“Dad,” Poe shrieked. “Dad! Dad! Daaaaaaaaaaaaaad!”
Kes came running up the stairs two at a time to find Poe standing in the fresher, horrified, in front of the mirror. Kes did a quick scan: no other beings, no blood… What in the hell?
Poe turned to him, eyes wide, mouth hanging open, tears already falling down his cheeks.
“Poe, sweetie, you’ve gotta tell me what…”
Poe pointed to his neck as if his father were an idiot.
Kes came over, inspecting his son for any signs of trauma, but Poe looked perfectly fine. “Poe?”
Poe held out both arms and Kes half expected there to be cuts or scratches. He shook his head, looking back up to his son. “Poe, what is it?”
Poe looked down at his arms. “You can’t see it,” he whispered in disbelief.
And then, everything fell into place. Kes’ eyes fell shut as he let forth a relieved sigh. “Oh sweet maker,” he put a hand on Poe’s back. “It’s okay, kiddo. It’s your soulmark.”
Poe’s tears abruptly stopped. “My soulmark?”
Kes nodded. “Let me guess, you’ve got something, well, like a tattoo, on your…where is it exactly?”
Poe pointed to his neck and both arms and lifted his nightshirt.
“Oh boy,” Kes said. “So it’s a big one?”
Poe nodded, the worry creeping back into his eyes.
“No,” Kes said, pulling his son into a hug. “That’s not bad. That’s good! More chance your soulmate will see it.” He leaned back to smile at Poe, wiping away a stray tear on his son’s cheek with his thumb. “This is a good thing, Poe.”
Poe nodded, unconvinced.
“What does it look like,” Kes asked.
“You really can’t see it,” Poe asked.
Kes shook his head and squeezed his son a bit. “Guess I’m not your soulmate.” He ruffled the boy’s hair and finally got a smile.
Poe turned back towards the mirror and shrugged. “It’s…” He frowned. “A bunch of lines and symbols and…” He bit his lip. “There’s just so much.” Poe turned a bit for a view of his back. His frown deepened.
Kes chuckled. “It takes some getting used to.” He rubbed the part of his arm where his soulmark used to be. Before… “Your mama’s ship started off as a bunch of squiggles and then turned into a bird before it became an A-Wing.”
Poe nodded, still clearly unconvinced. “And you really can’t see it,” he asked, pulling up his shirt again and turning this way and that.
“I really can’t,” Kes answered. “That’s for you and your soulmate.”
Poe let down his shirt and turned, stomping towards the door. “But why does it have to be so big,” he whined.
Kes laughed. “The smaller ones are worse,” he called after his sullen son. “Trust me. It took me a damn year to find my mark on your mother.” And I was definitely looking, he thought to himself. Hard.
# # # #
The first few years he’d had it, Poe HATED his soulmark. Even though no one but he and his mate would ever be able to see it, he’d taken to wearing long-sleeved shirts with high necks, just to cover it. And in the jungles of Yavin IV, that was uncomfortable, to say the least.
Kes hated seeing his boy so miserable and in those moments when he could practically feel the pain radiating off of Poe, he missed Shara so acutely, it felt like his chest was splitting in two. She’d know how to handle this, how to get Poe to see the silver lining.
One day, when they were out in the barn, hauling hay to the loft, Kes chanced a glance at his son, sweat dripping from his forehead, shirt wet clean through, and he stopped, throwing down his pitchfork. “Okay, enough,” he said. “Come over here.” He nodded to a crate.
Poe looked confused.
“Sit,” Kes said, pointing to the crate. Kes knelt in front of him, looking Poe directly in the eye. “Now, I know that you hate your mark, son.”
Kes brought forth his don’t-mess-with-me voice, the kind he’d used on his soldiers during the war, “Poe.”
“I know you hate it, but…” Kes shook his head, letting himself fall back until he was sitting on the ground. “I ever tell you what I thought the first time I ever saw your mama?”
“That she was beautiful?”
Kes laughed. “Well, she was that, but no.”
Poe cocked his head to the side. He knew the story of how his parents met—the instant attraction, the constant flirting, the months of wondering whether they were really mates or not.
Kes ducked his head. “Truth be told, your mama and I met about a month before we actually met.”
Kes said, “Yeah, well, we officially met a few months before the Battle of Yavin, but I actually had a run-in with her…well, kind of, about a month before that.”
Poe looked worried. Kes put a hand on his son’s knee. “You see, I was coming in after a long day slogging through the jungle. I was hot and tired and so fragging hungry I would’ve eaten a tauntaun.”
Poe pulled a face.
“Yeah, well, I’m walking into the main hangar area and there’s this group of pilots sitting around and one of them, she’s sitting on this crate, holding court like a queen, and she flings her hair back and says, well of course we pilots do all the heavy lifting, and let me tell you son, I was ready to get into this pilot’s face because where does she get off saying that when the ground troops are the ones out there on the front lines, wading through mud and fighting off insects to make sure pilots can do their fragging jobs.”
“Did you tell her that?”
“No,” Kes said, “because the moment I was about to, she started laughing and said, can you imagine the nerve of him saying that? Like we’re something special because we can fly?” Kes smiled up at his son. “That pilot had been making fun of another pilot who thought he was better than the rest of us. What I thought I heard wasn’t actually what I heard, you see?”
Poe thought for a moment and then nodded. He then smiled. “It was mama,” Poe said.
“Of course, it was your mama. You ever know her not to dress someone down who was being a jerk?”
Poe laughed. “Why didn’t you talk to her?”
Kes ducked his head. “I figured I’d make a better first impression after a shower, but her squad got called out while I was in the fresher. I went looking, but she was already gone.” Kes got a faraway look in his eye for a moment before he stared back at Poe. “My point is, that right now, you look at your mark and you see this big, messy thing, but I think if you were to look at it from another perspective, you might see how it’s gonna be one of the best things to ever happen to you.”
Poe seemed to ponder this.
Kes squeezed his knee. “I mean, it’s gonna lead you to someone fantastic. I’m sure of that.”
Poe smiled. He liked the idea of finding someone who fit him as well as mama fit papa. He nodded and then pulled off his long-sleeve shirt.
Kes stood and walked back to the hay. “Doesn’t that feel better?”
“Yeah, it does,” Poe said, wiping his brow. “Why does Yavin have to be so kriffing hot?”
“Trust me, son, I’ll take hot any day of the week over something like Hoth.”
# # # #
Poe still had moments when his soulmark was overwhelming, but over the years, he’d gotten used to it, even grown fond of the way it seemed to wrap around him like a warm blanket: it was a massive thing that went from his neck, down both arms to the elbows, down part of his back and chest, trailing off around his belly button.
For the longest time, it had been that same big mess of lines that Poe had seen when he was nine, the thing that made his torso look like an over-complicated star map, but during the past few years, it has started to shift and mutate into something Poe really liked. Now, it looked a bit like armor that had been ripped apart, twisting into a sort of jagged scar on Poe’s back and a beautiful set of Yavinese vines and flowers on his belly.
Poe often caught himself studying it, trying to figure out what sort of being it fit with.
And one day, as he was toweling off, scouring his room for the right civilian clothes for his next mission, Poe paused in front of the full-length mirror attached to the back of his wardrobe door, his fingers tracing over the flowers near his bellybutton, and he smiled, wondering what sort of image his soulmate’s fingers traced on their own skin.
Poe closed his eyes, trying to imagine what it would be like to finally meet his mate, and his lips twisted up into a smile, before he remembered what he was supposed to be doing. Got a job to do, Dameron, he reminded himself, reaching for his pants. He looked around the room. What else? What else?
Definitely the jacket, he thought with a smile. Jakku gets cold at night.
As he put on his pants, he couldn’t help but wonder what his mate thought of his mark, if they liked it half as much as Poe did theirs.
They gotta like it, right?
# # # #
FN-2187 hated the small mark that rested on his chest, directly over his heart. And even though he knew that trying to remove a soulmark was pointless—no one else could see it after all—he still couldn’t help but wish that his mark would go away.
He frowned as he pulled on his underarmor, trying to ignore the tiny X-Wing surrounded by a ring of flowers and vines.
As if I need another reminder that I’m different.
He sighed and reached for his armor.
“Bad night,” Zeroes asked.
“Bad morning,” FN-2187 said.
Nines snorted. “Since when do you have bad mornings?”
Since I couldn’t shoot those miners on Pressy’s Tumble. Since I realized that I can’t be the mindless soldier the Order wants me to be.
Since I realized I need to get out.
“Troopers,” came a voice from the other end of the bunks, “get over here. We have a new assignment.”
Finn was thankful for the distraction, but as soon as they started loading up the transport for Jakku, he felt a horrible heavy feeling deep in the pit of his stomach. He pressed his lips together. I’m not going to kill for them. I’m just…
Frag, what in the hell am I going to do?
# # # #
FN-2187 stepped into the cell and for a split second, his plan went to hell. He blinked at the lines of a massive tattoo evident on the prisoner’s neck, going down to his chest. For some reason, he didn’t peg Resistance pilots as the types to go out and get full-body tattoos. Strange.
Oh kriff, yeah! The plan! “Ren wants the prisoner…”
# # # #
Finn studied the command center, trying to make sense of the fact that these beings—with a command center covered in vines, for crying the kriff out loud—were trying to take on the Order, and as he turned his attention to General Organa, he realized that no one else had the kinds of tattoos that Poe did.
Must be a cultural thing.
# # # #
Dr. Kalonia kept kicking Poe out of Finn’s sickroom—he needs to rest, Poe!
Finally, she’d resorted to changing the access codes to make sure he didn’t sneak in.
Poe rolled his eyes as he made it back to his room, wishing he could just sit next to the other man, hold his hand, tell him it was going to be okay.
Because it is.
It has to be.
He stared at the tattered jacket that one of the med techs had handed to him the first time they’d thrown him out of medical. Poe’s heart clenched as he looked at the burnt edges, his hands clasping it just a bit tighter.
He took a breath, trying to find his calm. Finn’s going to be fine.
He’s going to be fine.
Poe brought the leather jacket up to his face and pressed it in, wishing that it smelled like Finn or still held his warmth, wishing that Finn would just wake up already.
As he calmed down, he stared back down at it. He’s going to be fine.
And then he smiled. And he’s going to have his jacket ready and waiting for him when he wakes up.
# # # #
“Finn? Naked? Leaking?” Poe pushed up out of the cockpit and sprinted towards the other man. He’d never in his life wanted to shout in absolute glee the way he did now.
“Finn!” His hands found Finn’s shoulders. “You must have a thousand questions.”
And then, through the bacta suit, Poe noticed a small tattoo just above Finn’s heart. He couldn’t quite make it out, but he thought to himself, Huh? Wouldn’t have thought the Order would’ve gone in for that kind of thing.
And then Finn was asking about Rey, and Poe was drug back to reality.
Horrible, stinking reality.
Of course, he’d ask about her.
“Let’s get you some clothes, okay buddy?”
# # # #
“I’m not in love with you,” Rose said.
“Ummmm,” Finn started. “But, back on Crait, with the—”
Rose smiled and shook her head. “I love you, like a friend, but not…” She playfully shoved Finn. “I’m not in love with you, nerfherder.” She laughed.
“You sure?” Finn was still in shock. He’d really thought he was the one who was going to have to let her down easily.
Rose rolled her eyes. “Am I sure I’m not in love with you?” She pushed off the boulder the two had been sitting on. “Yes.” A sly smile spread across her face. “Besides, it’s not like I can see your soulmark, and you certainly can’t see mine.”
“How do you know?”
“Trust me, you would’ve said something.”
“But how do you know you can’t see mine,” Finn said, still trying to get his brain to catch up to the conversation.
“Fine,” Rose said, crossing her arms, “where is it?”
Finn jumped off the boulder and pulled up his shirt, nodding to his chest.
Rose shrugged. “Nothing.”
“Are you disappointed?”
Finn opened his mouth and realized that no, he wasn’t. Not in the least. “No,” he said. “I love you, but, yeah, I’m not in love with you.”
“Exactly.” Rose studied her friend for another moment. “Maybe you should talk to Rey about it?”
Rose rolled her eyes again.
“Or Poe,” Finn whispered, his eyes on the ground.
Rose’s whole face lit up and she made a self-satisfied little noise. “Poe?”
“Shhhhhhhh!” Finn looked around.
Currently, the Resistance were parked in the middle of a mountainous area on a moon in the Outer Rim. They’d been able to contact some allies and were waiting to get coordinates for a rendezvous. Most everyone was milling around near the Falcon, but a few beings—he and Rose included—had wandered a bit further away. That still didn’t mean that someone couldn’t overhear them.
Rose giggled. “So, Poe?”
Finn made his eyes wide, imploring her to keep her voice down.
“Have you talked to him yet?”
“And when would I have done that, hmmmm?”
“Good point.” Then, she smiled. “What about now?”
“What about now? He’s the kriffing leader of the Resistance, Rose. I think he’s a bit busy.”
“Never too busy for a little…” Rose gave Finn and exaggerated wink.
“Ummmmm, maybe never do that again, okay?”
Rose shoved Finn, hard. “Well, have you at least tried to look for his mark,” she asked. “It’s been pretty close quarters on the Falcon. Maker knows, I’ve seen some things I wish I hadn’t.”
Finn frowned. The truth was, he had been looking—or trying to. It was just that Poe’s tattoo was so big. “I mean, I’ve tried but,” he shook his head, “it’s kind of hard to tell with his tattoo and all.”
Rose scrunched up her face. “Poe has a tattoo? Where?”
“Ummm,” Finn gestured at his neck and chest. “All over?”
Rose looked confused.
“Oh come on, I know you’ve seen parts of it on his neck! His shirt doesn’t cover the whole thing.”
For a moment, Rose just stood there. Then, both her hands flew to her mouth and she squealed.
“Rose? Ummmm, Rose?” Finn leaned in. “Rose?”
Her squealing grew louder.
“That’s his soulmark, you idiot,” she whisper-yelled at Finn.
“No, it’s not. It’s his…”
Rose was shaking her head. “Poe doesn’t have a tattoo on his neck, Finn.”
Finn’s mouth fell open. “What?”
Rose’s smile was wide as she repeated, “Poe doesn’t have a tattoo on his neck, Finn.”
Finn felt as if she’d punched him. His entire universe realigned.
And while he was trying to wrap his head around that, Rose got behind him and started shoving. “Go,” she said, grunting.
“Go. Talk to him. Now.”
“Uhhhh,” he turned to look at her. She wore a wide smile. “Go talk to him, you moof-milker!”
Finn laughed. Poe doesn’t have a tattoo. “Yeah,” he said, and he took off jogging towards the ship.
Poe doesn’t have a tattoo.
# # # #
Poe was sitting in the cockpit of the Falcon, his eyes closed, trying hard not to get yet another headache.
In the week since they’d blasted off of Crait, Leia had stepped down as General, he’d been promoted and was now leading the Resistance, they’d managed to contact both Maz and Lando Calrissian, and twenty-four new Porgs had hatched on the Falcon.
It had been an eventful few days, to say the least.
When they’d set down on this unnamed rock yesterday, Poe had set about delegating tasks and keeping busy, but now that he had a few minutes to himself, he could feel everything crashing around him.
He sunk further back into his seat, bringing a hand up to his temple.
It hadn’t helped that just after they’d gotten up this morning, he’d watched Finn and Rose traipse off together into the wooded area in front of the ship. Poe could just imagine what they were up to. He sighed, scrubbing a hand over his face.
It wasn’t meant to be, he told himself.
He sighed. Then why does it hurt so bad?
There was a noise in the doorway. Poe opened his eyes, half-expecting to see a Porg trying to chew up yet another bit of wiring. Seriously, can we just eat them, already? He was surprised to see Finn standing there instead. “Finn,” he said, trying to force himself to sound light. “How are you, buddy?”
Finn looked around the cockpit. “You busy?”
Poe laughed and gestured at the empty space. “Nope.”
“Good,” Finn said, far too seriously for Poe’s tastes.
Poe stood. “Buddy, what is it?”
Finn cocked his head to the side, as if contemplating something. He then reached for his shirt and pulled it off.
“Woah, woah, woah! What in the kriff is going on? Uh, Finn,” Poe said, his hands flying up between them—to either shield himself or to pull Finn’s shirt back on, Finn couldn’t tell.
Finn dropped his shirt to the floor and pointed to the mark on his chest. “Tell me what you see there, Poe.”
Poe had been averting his eyes, but now he stared at the tattoo on Finn’s chest. And he couldn’t help his smile. “Ummmm, it’s an X-Wing. T-70, by the looks of it. And a bunch of flowers. They’re Yavinese. I don’t know the technical term. We always called them moonflowers.” He looked up at Finn. “It’s pretty.”
Finn burst into the widest smile of his life. “Yeah, it is.”
Poe got lost in that smile for a moment before he remembered himself. He deliberately took a step back, leaning into the pilot’s chair and crossing his arms in front of him. “Yeah, I wouldn’t have figured the Order would go in for that kind of thing.”
Finn’s smile changed into something a bit more sly. “They don’t.”
The gears in Poe’s brain stopped turning. “Huh?”
Finn reached out with one finger, sliding it against the material of Poe’s shirt where it was open at the collar. “Just like I’m guessing that the New Republic Navy and the Resistance don’t go in for neck tattoos.”
Neck tattoos? But I don’t have a… Poe’s eyes flew up to Finn’s
“You can…” Poe started jerking off his jacket, pulling at his shirt. “You can see it?”
As Poe’s jacket and shirt hit the floor, Finn took in the whole thing. He reached out, his hand hovering over Poe’s chest at the point where the armor turned into flowers. Moonflowers, Finn noted with a smile.
“Turn around,” he whispered and Poe acquiesced.
Finn hissed as he recognized the mirror to the scar running down his back on Poe. This time, he allowed himself to touch, Poe’s skin blazing hot against his fingertips.
Poe sucked in a breath as Finn’s fingers skimmed his skin, and as Finn’s fingers dipped down low, to the edge of the scar, Poe made a whimpering noise and then turned, grabbing Finn’s shoulders and pulling him in for a searing kiss.
# # # #
BB-8 rolled up the ramp, pausing in front of Rose, who sat at the top, carefully cleaning one of her tools. “Poe,” Rose responded to Bee’s inquiring beeps. “Ummmmm, he and Finn are having a…very important…conference right now.”
Bee made to roll past her and she put her arm up. “Ummmm, why don’t we give them a few minutes, okay Bee?”
Bee’s head tipped to the side, as if the droid were studying her face.
Rose smiled just a bit. She leaned in and confided, “I think they need their privacy.”
She didn’t have to understand binary to understand the “Ooooooh,” Bee trilled in response.
# # # #
“So, when did it first…”
“When I was nine,” Poe said, nuzzling the top of Finn’s head with a purr. He leaned back against the bunk they had…borrowed. His fingers traced the ship over Finn’s heart. “Oh man, did I hate it.”
Finn made a wounded sound.
“Sorry,” Poe said with a chuckle, “but imagining waking up one day covered in squiggly lines.” Poe kissed Finn’s temple. “I mean, how did you react when you first noticed yours?”
Finn shrugged, running his fingers across Poe’s arms. “Wouldn’t know. I’ve always had it.”
Poe hummed at that, nuzzling in a bit more. His lips were next to Finn’s ear now. “Was it always a ship?”
Finn nodded, leaning back into Poe’s chest. “Not always an X-Wing though.”
“Was an A-Wing for a while.”
Poe smiled, pressing his cheek against Finn. “Mama flew an A-Wing.”
Finn smiled, pulling Poe’s arms around him. “What about mine?”
Poe breathed out a laugh. “Yours was a kriffing mess. I looked like a damn star chart for years.”
Finn laughed. “Sorry.”
“No,” Poe said, pressing a light kiss to the side of Finn’s head. “I…” He ducked his head, confessing, “I really like it. It’s…” He shrugged, pulling Finn closer. “It’s all dynamic energy and beauty and—”
“And a scar down your kriffing back.”
“Our scar,” Poe said, moving to kiss the back of Finn’s neck. “My favorite scar,” he muttered against Finn’s skin.
Finn hummed at the feel of it. Then, he turned to look at Poe. “I can’t believe I was convinced you were the type of guy to get a neck tattoo.”
Poe threw back his head and laughed. “Yeah, not really my style.”
“Well, actually,” Finn said with a smile.
“Play nice,” Poe said, nibbling on his soulmate’s ear.
“Hey,” came a voice from somewhere inside the Falcon. “This is just a warning that people are going to start coming back into the Falcon now and you might want to…I’m just guessing here…put your pants back on?”
Finn rolled his eyes and called out, “Thanks, Rose!”
Poe buried his face in the Finn’s hair. “That’s a great way to start off as General, get caught shagging one of your Commanders.”
“Personally, I’m for it.” Finn swung his legs off the bunk, looking for their discarded clothes. “Very good for morale.” He threw Poe’s pants at him.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Poe said, standing and pulling on his pants.
Finn winked at him. “Do.”
“Seriously, guys,” came Rose’s voice. “The walls on this ship are really thin!”
Poe blushed and shouted, “Thank you, Commander Tico.” He pointed to the hallway, as they’d left their shirts in the cockpit. “After you.”
Finn smiled, looking down at his soulmark and suddenly finding it so comforting, so right. So Poe. He held out a hand for Poe.
As Poe took it, he was struck by how wrong he’d been about so many things—how much he’d hated his soulmark when he’d first gotten it; how he’d assumed that Finn’s mark was a tattoo; how he’d figured Finn would end up with Rose—and as he squeezed Finn’s hand, feeling as if he were going to vibrate out of his own skin he felt so good, Poe thanked the maker for second glances and second chances.
“It’s all about perception,” he muttered as they picked their shirts up off the cockpit floor.
“Hmmmm,” Finn asked.
Poe shook his head. “Nothing,” he said, “just…” He stared at his soulmate, a goofy grin plastered to face. “Just real damn glad I stopped wearing long sleeved shirts is all.”
Finn gave him a confused look.
Poe leaned in, pressing a small kiss to the tip of Finn’s nose. “I’ll explain later, mate.”
“Mate,” Finn laughed. “I’m gonna enjoy getting used to that.”
“Me too, buddy. Me too.”