Finn remembers his first kiss clearly. A dark hallway, a hand encircling his wrist, sliding up his arm and around the back of his neck to pull him close enough that he couldn't hear all the rules shattering around them.
There had been lips finding his, awkward at first, but so starved for contact, for heat, that within a few seconds the clumsiness didn't even matter.
If he tried, he could recall the feeling of wanting, of aching, of fingers pressing into the nape of his neck and a body pressing against his and his heart pressing against the inside of his chest.
If he tried, he could recall his heart jumping from his chest to his throat to his kiss-bruised lips when they were found moments or minutes later.
If he tried, he could recall the extra reconditioning that came afterwards. It wasn't as hard to bring to mind as what had caused it.
It had been months and months of rigid lines and atrocities he still tasted the fear of when he closed his eyes before a second or third or fourth kiss had been introduced into the mix. Those hadn't been as quick to sour, but they still inevitably ended, leaving him with ghosts that liked to place their hands around his throat any chance they got.
The next time he'd felt another's body heat, hands on his skin in any way that wasn't a stinging slap, was a truly dazzling pilot.
But that had abruptly and searingly ended on Jakku, in the middle of sand and sun and so much tension in his chest he thought he was finally dying.
And then it had born itself anew in the middle of hot tarmac and hundreds of amicable bodies moving in some wild way he couldn't even begin to comprehend.
His vision had tunnelled until all he could see was a beaming man in his horrendously orange flight suit and a whirring droid, each barreling at him with the same level of enthusiasm until the former collided with him in a tangle of grasping arms and words alike. It had set the stage for them: they were a collision always waiting to happen, two planets escaping orbit to find one another no matter the distance.
The way Poe's fingers had grasped the lapel of his once jacket that day, the way they'd smoothed the leather down absently before curling into the gentlest fist that had ever met Finn's skin as his teeth sunk into his bottom lip and a half-flirting quip rolled from his tongue - Finn, however subconsciously, knew he was a goner. Touch had never set his skin on fire like that, never made him feeling anything other than pain and sickeningly sweet, almost dizzying fear.
But this - this was like a thousand hurried kisses in a dark hallway. This was flying a TIE fighter through Imperial-controlled airspace and getting away.
This was Poe and Finn, Finn and Poe, two souls unknowingly colliding for the first time and vowing to never let go.
It wasn't until Finn's coma-recovery and relapses and even more recovery, until Poe's continuous support through it all even as he dealt with the reality of what had brought them together, that they truly understood what had happened that day when Poe had told him to keep that damned jacket.
Unlike most things in their lives, their progression from Finn and Poe to finnandpoe had been overwhelmingly gradual. The terrain of the Resistance was always changing beneath their feet, one base to another, one backwoods planetary system to the next - new names and faces came in and left just as quick, whether by fire or by fear - so maybe that was why it was so hard to feel the shifting between them.
It was gentle. They were gentle.
They were Finn's shoulder grazing Poe's when the latter trailed out of his voluntary weekly sessions with the base's psychologist. They were Poe's hand on the small of Finn's back during the months of rigourous and frustratingly draining PT.
They were banter in the mess hall and almost-but-not-quite-contact still marred by fear and meeting eyes across a crowded room and sequestering themselves into corners at parties because the noise was too much.
They were fingers brushing in the hall when they passed one another and tense shoulders easing in one another's presence and eyes hanging onto eyes hanging onto lips.
And then one day, one unassuming, gray-aired day, they were Finn's trembling hand against Poe's cheek and Poe's wild smile boiling down to something so small and so genuine and then.
Then they were simultaneously leaning toward one another, they were blood rushing from ears to cheeks to the backs of necks and the tips of noses, they were being unsure of who got their first but knowing, all the same, they'd arrived at the same destination.
Because finally, finally after months - nearly a year - of this undercover shifting and learning and confusion, they were lips pressed against lips and noses brushing cheeks with 5 o'clock shadows and soft exhales and fingers on shoulders, on hips.
But never on the napes of necks.
Maybe it's the months spent observing - no, seeing - one another, that keeps Poe's hands from that spot, but it's some stark reminder to Finn that things are so much different now, and that that's okay.
That assurance, that okayness, keeps him from jerking back from the kiss once his mind finally catches up with his actions. Instead, he easily - gently - pulls back from Poe, who looks so determined, who looks so in awe, who looks so much like hope that Finn doesn't think he will ever feel so at peace as he does there, in that exact moment, with his lips an inch away from a man he thinks he wants to learn what love is for and that same man's easy hands against his sides and mouth pulled into a small smile.
Finn picked up a long time ago that if you wanted anything to last, anything to remain whole and peaceful and welcoming, it was to be sheltered away in more shrouds of secrecy than those of which R2 and 3PO used to hold on to the Death Star's plans the first time around.
It was something of a life rule that he had. If anything brought him something close to a smidgen of joy, it was never to be discussed, to be referenced, or even to be thought about in the presence of anyone else.
But the more he lived like that outside of the First Order, the more he lived like that within the Resistance's ranks, he realized how taxing it truly was - how unnecessary it was.
And how much he hated it.
Just one more thing the First Order had unwittingly drilled into him that he would fight to undo.
Secrecy, he began to observe - real, honest to old gods secrecy - was for strategy. It was for undercover diplomatic meetings, backchannel deals, supply runs, attack plans, and base changes.
But there was another branch of secrecy that he'd never experienced before - dashed with sarcasm amd double meanings but never malice or ill intent - that seemed to thread itself through base after base like another Resistance fighter.
It was surprise parties for people who had nearly forgotten what a birthday was. It was a constant gossip mill walking throughout the mess and the hangar and the garage and the halls. It was backhanded, but not cruel, invasive, but never feared or hated. There were clear cut lines, and people were more than happy to travel within them. It was much more Finn's speed.
Truthfully, it was mostly bumbling and childish and made for things like who had been caught in what supply closest with who and did you hear who wishes they'd been in that closest instead.
But it was also comradery and inside jokes and caring in bucket loads. When a mission failed or people were lost with no chance of returning, support arced through the threads and rained down upon the people most affected like storms.
And Finn loved it.
He loved the bonds it exposed, he loved the connections that were made. People you'd never expect to find together could have their heads bowed in weathered glee as they relayed the latest tales to one another as they geared up for missions or meetings or something in between.
He loved that these people were comfortable enough to share their lives with one another and laugh about it over protein bars and measly rations or engines and gears or rustling paperwork and looming threats.
He wanted. He already had so much in comparison to what he left behind, but he still wanted this piece of things.
He wanted these people that he'd come to think of as the closest approximation to family that he had to know about the things that made his heart light.
He wanted for people to know that when he smiled at Poe, it was because he physically couldn't stop himself from doing so.
He wanted that false kind of secrecy - where it was known, but in slight, where it was teased, but respected, holy in and out of the four wall confines he'd created.
He wanted it for himself, to be able to say that he cared for something, someone, and wasn't ashamed of that.
He wanted it for Poe, too.
Poe, who lived through words and his relationships. Poe, who had been the one to suggest secrecy for both of their sake's, but a good part Finn's, knowing what kind of pressure it might bring to him.
He was ready now. Ready for whatever it might bring, because he knew that even though bases changed, these people were his home. And he trusted in home and in family more than he ever had in anything else in his life.
Like their beginnings and most-likely their end, it was a gradual shift.
Hands stacked when they sat next to one another, or pinkies intertwined when sitting wasn't an option. Shoulders pushed together, or an arm strewn across them for far too long - usually Poe doing the strowing, usually accompanied by him absently picking at the seams of Finn's jacket.
Finn gets used to this constant contact, relishes in it, initiates it.
A hand on the elbow to scoot past Poe, a bump of their hips to gain a spurt of quiet attention, hugs and hugs and hugs.
Everyone watches them fondly, but never presses for more - quotes of young love penned by long forgotten poets and dead writers make the rounds, nipping at their heels like old friends, but that's the extent.
And Finn is content.
The shifts keep coming - gentle words spoken in simultaneous love-drunk and sleep-deprived delirium in front of their closest friends, sweeter words and unshielded gazes in front of the newer recruits - until finally they fall into an easiness that is casually intimate and intimately casual.
Rey finds it particularly amusing, the way they seem to move - no, dance - together like people who have been in synch for decades rather than a few months. She likes to remind him, on occasion, with her chin pressed into her palm and a crawling grin spreading across her tired face.
It's those moments, those moments when she teases and he acts bashful while secretly preening, that he feels like things are…okay. That they're just two normal friends who tease each other about trivial things like love lives over lunch instead of a First Order defect and a scavenger turned savior of the galaxy.
He likes those moments, lets their reprieve wash over him on the rough days that seem to weigh him down with each second that passes. Reminding himself that all this, all of it, is so the generations to come get more than just moments of okay, they'll get whole days, years, lifetimes.
He loves his life and he wouldn't change any part of it, but those little reminders - they get him through the worst of it.
He and Rey's little quips become a routine, one that their friends are all too happy to take part in, if only to see Finn's secret grin.
Rey and Rose are much easier to get after, Jess and Snap have admitted, because they each have about as many boundaries as a BB unit has legs and when combined in a romantic relationship they're ripe for picking - but that's fine, they enjoy the challenge of Finn and Poe and their secret language of touches and looks that only they know.
It's one early morning - lights full force in the mess because it's still dark out, a few consolidated tables worth of people milling about before the morning's mission - when they finally slip up.
Finn's still half asleep, hair damp from his quick tryst with the fresher and second cup of caf in his hand, but there nonetheless.
The pilots around him are animated, though, chattering away about the day's run which he's running baseside support on - the only reason he's putting up with their ungodly enthusiasm this early in the day.
Poe is leaned halfway across the table, flightsuit tied off around his waist, hand clasped in Jess's as they settle an argument that Finn had only caught a fourth of with arm restling.
The only one who seems to be in the same boat as Finn is Rose, who, as the newly acting lead mechanic, has to be there before and after takeoff.
Finn, half lost in the farthest reaches of his mind, jolts at the bang that rattles their table. He surmises what he needs to from Jess's wild grin and Poe's good-natured ribbing.
The base's intercom system crackles to life, and one of the Admirals' voices - which one, Finn is too tired to care - washes through the mess.
It's with that that the pilots begin hopping to their feet, trays in hand or draining the last of their caf or both.
Poe leans to press a kiss to Finn's cheek, murmuring promises of a safe return into the stubble that flecks Finn's jaw.
There's a pregnant pause as Poe leaves one extra kiss on Finn's cheek and leans back up to look across his squadrons.
It bursts first with Jess's complaints of being utterly scandalized, followed by Karé good-naturdely booing and telling them to get a room. Snap shakes his head solemnly, asking them if nothing is private anymore.
Laughter erupts from Finn and Poe in almost-synch, Poe's arms weaving around Finn's shoulders and his cheek finding the crown of Finn's head.
There's retorts in mock accusatory tones - of jealousy, of loneliness, of lying (which Jess admits to, agreeing she hasn't had innocence in any form for a long time.)
The intercoms burst to life once more, illiciting a response even from Rose, and the pilots finally sober enough to get themselves on the move.
Finn knows he'll only have a few minutes before he's called upon, but he can't help but stew in the way his skin still prickles from where Poe had pressed his lips.
These kisses, on the cheek - or the temple, or the forehead - are softer than all the rest combined. Usually reserved for moments too late to be night but too early to be morning, when the suns are low and bronze and filter softly through the blinds, when sleep is looming on their immediate horizons, but they need a final bit of contact.
They conjure a simmer of emotions and feelings to mind - calm and safety and so much more. It's easier for him to get to his feet and over to command with a promise like that still wavering around him.
Sleep is something that Finn has taught himself to treat as some holy practice.
In the First Order, sleep was an unfortunate sideaffect of life's illness. It was strict, always in shortage, and never something to be savored.
In the First Order, you performed sleep. Like a demonstration - dismantling and cleaning your weapon, keeping in synch in marches, eradicating who- or whatever was deemed the enemy, sleep.
Tiredness was weakness to be conditioned out of you. Sleep in general, but especially sleep outside of the permitted hours, was vulnerability, and vulnerability was some higher class of weakness to be conditioned out with extreme prejudice.
But in the Resistance, it was to be indulged.
It was something unspoken, but understood that the time outside of obligation was precious, and was something to be filled with activities that sidestepped regret. And this, this was number one.
At first, Finn could barely manage a second past six hours. At first, Finn could barely deal with the sounds that continued around him after his internal clock said lights out. At first, Finn could barely handle having his own single bed, sharing quarters with only one person, being able to leave his space - his bed - messy and unmade should the need arise.
He's been at it for a while now, unlearning the ways things were and teaching himself the way they are, but unlike most of his personal teachings, this one's easier - dare he say fun.
As long as his work is done, he can sleep whenever he wants. Hell, within reason, he can sleep wherever he wants.
On the night Rey returned, they stayed up until night became day, falling asleep with their temples and shoulders pressed together conspiratorially sometime in between.
One night, Finn got caught up in Snap's quarters and ended up sleeping on the pilot's free bed instead of tramping across the base to get to his.
Some nights, he falls asleep with arms around his waist or his hand positioned carefully on the hip of a gently snuffling pilot.
It's not often that he and Poe share a bed, neither of them able to commit to it for wildly different, but somehow impossibly similar, reasons.
In the First Order, sharing a bed, whether it be sharing a bed or simply sharing a bed, was strictly, expressly, vehemently prohibited.
That wasn't to say that neither happened, because they always did seem to find a way, but now, even this far from it all, Finn can't help but find anxiety in his chest when it's a predetermined and undeniably conscious decision to fall asleep next to Poe.
And Poe understands.
He still feels the echo of what happened on Starkiller Base everyday, but it seems to intensify when he's asleep. It's because that's when he feels at his most vulnerable, his therapist says; it's because that's when he can't escape the memories, he replies.
But sometimes, sometimes Finn can't sleep because there's the frigid weight of armor ghosting against his skin and a familiar rattle ringing in his ears and he just needs a reminder that when he wakes up, everything he's worked so hard for won't collapse.
And sometimes, sometimes Poe needs to feel the comfortable weight of a living, breathing, alive and safe and well person beside him - needs to huddle around warmth and steady breaths and an embrace that makes him feel, not safe, per se, but at ease because he needs easiness like he needs breath.
And so sometimes, sometimes Finn, bleary with umrelinquishing tiredness, will hear a soft request for room to be made, and sometimes, sometimes Poe will get a look full of turmoil and gutwrenching unease that begs to be comforted alongside another gentle request.
When these things happen, sometimes both at once, in a single night, they shuffle together. Poe hooks his ankle around Finn's, Finn rests a hand in the eye between them, Poe laces their fingers together for a few moments, Finn curves until there's a brush of contact at their foreheads.
They'll fall asleep like that, though, they never seem to wake up the same way.
Poe will be huddled against the wall, jaw tight, but his hand still extended to Finn, their legs still kicked together.
Finn will be as far from the edge as he can get, sometimes cheeks wet with atrocities he still can't forget, but his hand still between their warm bodies and his forhead bowed forward, awaiting the no doubt looming good morning kiss.
But sometimes, sometimes they wake up before the suns, before the moons have even begun thinking of their descent - they wake all at once with great bursts of air and calls for people and places long gone.
They awake with tears, with gasping breaths, and so much fear, so much pain and loss that they think, surely, this time it will consume them.
In these times, Poe shies from touch, but relaxes under calm, soft words until once again he can furl their fingers together.
In these times, Finn can't hear reason, but he can feel the arms around his waist, the chin on his shoulder, the heartbeat thumping against his back.
They learn these routines far quicker than anyone should ever have to, not in decades, nor simple years, but fast-paced months full of attacks and scouting and constant changes.
Stress is at an all time high somewherein the middle of the third - it must be third, but maybe fourth - base change that month.
The First Order shouldn't be able to find them as quickly as they do, but they do, and it means Finn being cooped up with the General and all the Admirals and various other titled people as they try to plot out something.
It means Poe (and Snap and Jess and Iolo and Karé) on scouting mission after supply run after scouting mission, never with their boots on the ground long enough to even take a well deserved excursion with their 'freshers before they're all gone again.
It means that finally, when they find a night where they're both on base, where they're both healthy and able to get away from work, all they want to do is fall into bed and hear one another breathe and know, that even for a moment, things are all right.
It goes without saying that things never really go to plan.
After a holovid that they lazily pay attention to, and after a comfortable nightly routine of bumping elbows as they brush their teeth and flicking water from their fingertips after scrubbing the day's grime from their faces, they lie together in the dark.
Their softly rumbling whispers scrape across the room's still air as they recount pertinent facts from the days they've missed until they can't keep their eyes open.
In an even rarer display than falling asleep next to one another, Finn tucks his head underneath Poe's chin, listening to his heart beating rhythmically.
Goodnights are exchanged, kisses are traded, and then sleep in found in one another's arms.
It's not long after - or maybe it is and the passage of time around them has slowed itself in feeling only - when Finn is awake once more.
He bolts from his sleep, jarring Poe's protective arm across his waist, and gulps in air like he took in that stagnant water in the marketplace on Jakku.
Poe snuffles slightly in his sleep before cracking one, two eyes open, then, his lips. He presses forward, aligning himself against the dips of Finn's spine, and wraps his arms back around Finn's waist. Slumping forward, he rests the scruffiness of his cheeks and jaw - from combination not enough energy or time to shave - against Finn's shoulder, and let's him ride the flashes out. There's no use in trying to pull Finn from them before he's ready.
Finn can hear blaster fire, see people falling, innocent people, good people - families torn apart in moments. He can hear Phasma's barking, disgusted tone, can feel fear in his spine, in his shoulders, in his palms.
Sweat glances across his skin, clutching at the back of his neck for what seems to be the long haul.
He swings his hand back, grasping feebly at Poe's, who easily obliges and offers the weight of his palm against Finn's.
Poe squeezes his hand encouragingly before he presses a weighty kiss through the thin fabric of the sleeveless shirt Finn can't sleep without until his lips are against the curve of his shoulder.
Finn's staggering breath seems to even out after that, until finally he finds himself resting back against Poe's chest, his eyes, still ragged with tears, closed firmly as he let's life, promises, the thump of Poe's heart, wash over him.
Morning isn't a time for deep reflection or in depth conversation or anything taxing, Finn had decided.
Mornings were, in their purest sense, lazy and fuzzy and genuine - who was he to mess with that, really? In all the tampering he did with his days and his nights, he figured, at least, he could let mornings be something unto themselves.
And so mornings were reserved for being as real as you were under moonlight, but happier, for dawn had arrived and assured that, even for a moment, a new day was rising and it could be anything you wanted it to be.
Mornings were for bleary eyes - for forgetting, even momentarily, that they were puffy and red-rimmed and sticky at the lashes from the night's tears.
Mornings were for the excess body heat that had accumulated during sleep - wrapping you in its warm embrace in the colder months as it begged you to stay all day, or pushing you from bed earlier than usual during the hot months.
Mornings were for untangling yourself - whether it be from the sheets, from lingering, washed-up dream guilt, or from the person lying next to or around you.
Mornings were for shedding the past's skin - because it was over and it wasn't changing and the only thing it could do now was dictate your future if you let it.
Mornings were for rebirth, for simplicity, for being free of prying eyes and judgement and questions and stress, for remolding yourself after being misshapen for too long.
Mornings were Finn's favorite part of the day, if not for the promises they sang of, then for the peace they allowed him.
They always happened the same - creaking eyes, sunlight bright enough to blind casting in through the blinds, deep inhales as he came to. They diverged here.
Sometimes, he would find expanses beside him, a finite infinity that yawned on and swallowed itself up within feet.
And sometimes, he'd find a slumbering pilot, face slackened in sleep, but still, somehow after it all, able to find a sliver of peace.
On these mornings, if he doesn't have to be to his duties for a while, Finn lies and listens to Poe's steady breath and… softly reflects.
Soft relfection isn't something horrible or strenuous or against the rules of mornings - not like this.
He thinks back to those months long before, when they stood in the center of that very room and brushed close for the first time. How unsure everything had been.
How scary and real and new.
And then, how simple.
He thinks back to time after time of collapsing together in a heap on one or the other's bed for sleep's elusive streaks. To watching holovids late into the night. To comforting one another when the night stole away their easiness. To living and laughing and - loving.
Here, in this room, love.
Love formed from a scuffed stormtrooper helmet streaked with blood and a leather jacket patched to hell and back. Love grew between passing jokes and quiet concern and mutual respect with added awe. Love found its way through all of it, just to smack Finn on the back of the head and say, don't you see, now?
He had wanted to learn love so badly, but he realizes that he's known it all along and is just finally, finally ready for it.
It's like a weight lifts from his chest.
He shuffles forward then, hands roaming up and down Poe's side, wrinkling his already rumpled t-shirt.
Poe always snuffles awake, somehow making a production out of craggy eyes and sleep-stuck lips.
Now, he squints at Finn through thick lashes and a smile hums onto his face and Finn's chest constricts in the best possible way because he can finally, finally after all this time, can put a name to that warmth that spreads through his chest in these early morning hours.
Poe croaks something that might have been questioning how long Finn had been staring at him like that, but his throat is still too dry and his voice still too scratchy for it to really land.
Instead, he closes the space between them and lazily slots his lips to Finn's, slots his fingers to the dip in Finn's side.
This is something they always find time for, whether it's like this, now, within tangled sheets and a swell of quiet, or inbetween one shaving his face at the sink and one still with a towel around his hips from the 'fresher.
Eventually, Finn rests his hand against Poe's jaw and their lips part.
They manage to shut their eyes for a few more seconds in which they revel in the feeling of morning before BB-8 whirs to life and begins it's round of daily complaints about time consumption and management and how making out with your boyfriend in front of a poor, helpless droid who doesn't want to see all that really should be banned.
Poe captures his own lip between his teeth and tries to hold in his laughter, lest it egg the bot on, but Finn lapses for both of them and releases a string of breathy laughter right next to Poe's ear.
This, of course, leaves Poe with no other choice but to let his laughter roll soft and rumbling as steals what few more private kisses they can manage.
His mouth grins against Finn's, so they aren't quite the most prolific of kisses, but something about them makes Finn think he might never forget them.
v. base of the neck
Finn sits hunched over a rolling stack of plans. Some First Order base that's to be infiltrated and scraped clean.
A pen dangles between his fingers, thick black ink coating the nib. His cheek rests in his other hand, and he twirls the pen idly as his eyes coat the page.
Stark sheets of notes sit crisply beside him, his slanted penmanship dotting across the pages.
A light, so bright it's nearly white, cascades across the desk and all of its contents - casting dark shadows across the hidden edges of his face.
This has become somewhat normal - notes and observations and ideas and suggestions, they seem to be his currency around base.
He shifts, the joints in his back cracking dully, and jots down an aside in his notes for the General. She won't be pleased with this write up as a whole, but that note, he knows, will seal the deal.
And it's not his fault, he knows she won't hold it against him, but he still hates it as he painstakingly letters the page.
TOO RISKY, LIKELY TO RESULT IN UNDUE CASUALTIES IF CARRIED OUT
He sighs, shoulders tense, fingers even more so.
They need this mission, they need it so badly - supplies are low, the First Order is getting smarter, morale is mucking around somewhere below ground level, and everyone's sufficiently on edge.
They need a win, so why, why can't he make this happen? Why can't he do his job, make it safe, make it better-
Warmth sprouts at the base of his neck, just above the collar of his shirt. It used to be his whole body skipped a beat at touches that landed there, but this- this was familiar, happily permitted.
Hands smooth his shoulders, and a chin hooks in the crook of his neck.
Poe's voice rises deep from within his chest, rattling against Finn's back, pulling a small grin to Finn's tired face.
Poe finally slings his arms around Finn's shoulders and peers curiously over them as the latter explains his current conundrum, tracing out failed escape plan after failed escape plan with the tip of his finger.
Frowning, Poe tilts his head to the side, hoping for a better look at the map. After a few moments of bouncing options off of one another, they seem to realize it's as fruitless as Finn had thought it to be.
Finn can't help but, for a moment at least, let his face fall and his lamenting be tinged with the disappointment that's brewing in his chest.
Poe presses another kiss, this one to the fragile skin that stretches across Finn's aching temple, and mumbles gentle words of encouragement. In these, Finn finds a sliver of reprieve that he closes his eyes to sink into.
They both fall completely quiet, only their mingling breaths signaling the life that's still rushing around them.
He knows when he opens them, the best laid plans that crumbled under his fingers will still be strewn across his desk. He knows that life will keep going on, neither pulling its punches nor delivering him the things he wants on a silver platter.
But for now, he has this moment. This moment wrapped in the arms of a man who loves him so much that he can feel it in the air around them and who he adores so fiercely that it seems to thrum under his skin.
For now and for as long as he is, he has this.
That's more than he ever could have bargained for, more than he ever could have strived and been broken for.
Poe awakes to the screaming of alarms and the scuffling of a stampede of voices.
His mind stumbles into full on consciousness, jumping belatedly from bleary eyes to heart-hammering alertness.
Finn's name slips from his lips as he fumbles out of his sheets. It rises from his throat again, equal parts imploring and fearful and breathless.
His lungs constrict as he moves from his bed to the where yesterday's clothes sit crumpled at the foot of it.
Finn's face registers with a fear that Poe's never seen, never felt before. It's a shuddering thing that heavily blankets his features until he looks almost obscured with grief.
He rushes to the dresser, tugging out clothes with shaking hands. Poe watches, helpless, as he pulls his jacket - still smelling of new leather and oil - on over the loose fabric of yesterday's t-shirt.
He shoves his feet into his boots and laces them tight enough to shock him out of the dreamlike state he finds his mind in as Finn quickly and methodically dresses.
Poe had always known that a day like this would find all of them. It had been an unspoken thing known to all of those that found themselves upon the ramshackle doorstep of the Resistance. You fought the fight, but you were never guarenteed the win. You did what you could to further the lives of those in the galaxy, but you knew it was a one in a million to ever see it come to fruition with your own eyes.
And Poe had accepted that. He knew full well what it meant when he traded in that Navy dress for dusty skies and passionate hearts.
But something pulled in his stomach now, watching Finn with his glassy eyes console a frazzled BB-8.
It hit him then - he'd accepted it because he thought he'd already lived everything there was to live. He'd flown in day and night, across more planets, more systems, than he could tally. He'd seen what felt lile every star in the galaxy.
He'd lost and he'd gained and he'd decided and he'd had his choices made for him. He'd found family and fought for what he believed in, so really, what more was there?
It's when Finn stretches back up to his full height, when he locks eyes with Poe and looks so shattered, that Poe sees everything he'd miss if this were it.
There was so much that Poe had wanted to show Finn, had wanted to be the first to introduce him to.
Big things like sunrises on Yavin 4 and the old stories his mother had sang to him when he was a child. Those more trivial like spontaneous picnics and hiking and going to the beach with your friends and feeling the sun on your face and the water at your feet.
He hadn't realized just how much he wanted to be by Finn's side as he navigated all the beautiful things the galaxy had to offer, how much he'd wanted to live a life of love and laughter.
How much he'd wanted to live that life with Finn.
He wants a life with Finn.
The vastness and now seeming impossibility of that life nearly chokes him - it spreads in his chest, in his throat, through his mouth and nose and eyes.
There's so much more to live and it's gone, just like that.
He's drowning in wide open air.
Agonozing seconds pass - alarms still blaring, voices crackling over the base's intercom now, though they all rest at the back of his mind - until Finn takes notice.
He makes a noise that rests somewhere at the back of his throat before advancing forward.
Palms press against Poe's cheeks, fingers curling against his jaw, and pleading words are hung in front of his eyes.
He comes back to the room, to the sounds and the feeling of Finn's skin against his. Finn's telling him they have to go, they have to figure out what's happening, but Poe can't make himself move.
All the times he'd faced death, and never once did it bring such visceral fear to his heart.
He grabs at whatever he can of Finn - his jacket, his arms, all until he finds his hands knotted in the fabric of his shirt.
Finn's eyes - tears easily made out, this close - are tracking Poe's face with an open- and honestness that makes Poe want to lock their door and never leave.
Poe starts at his name, hands clutching tighter at Finn's shirt.
I know now isn't the best time, but I also know that I may never get another time- I know what's supposed to come next. I made my peace with it a long time ago, but I don't think I'll ever make peace with losing us, losing you.
I'll fight until I've got nothing left to make it back to you. But if I can't - if we die this minute, or this hour, or this day, if we don't make it to sunrise, I need you to know I loved you from the start. I loved you from the moment I set my eyes on you, even if I didn't realize it then. And I will never stop loving you, Poe Dameron, no matter what comes next.
Poe can feel the tears under his eyes, sliding slowly toward Finn's fingers, and he can't think of anything else to do but what he does next.
He releases Finn's shirt and sends his hands to the back of his neck, unlooping the chain that rests cooly against the base of his neck. He presses it over Finn's head, until the ring sits just over his heart.
I love you, too.
He lets Finn pull him into a kiss - softer and so much more than every one they've shared before. He remembers the last kiss they shared standing like this - their first - and something about poetry flits through his mind as he forces himself to pull back.
They leave the room with their hands brushing, immediately deposited into a writhing crowd of confused and scared fighters.
The moment they break contact, the moment Poe loses the feeling of Finn's fingers against his, he steels himself.
He pushes aside what could have been and instead brings close what already has been. Everything they've had floods him as he takes off toward the hangar, thudding against his chest like a replacement for the band he just gave away.
+ vii. palm
Finn eases down onto the grass, slotting himself neatly beside Poe. The pilot turns to give him a small smile, which shifts his entire face - the scraggly hairs of his cheeks that can no longer be deemed stubble, the chipped planes of his lips, the twinkle in his eyes.
Even pressed against one another's sides, they still gravitate toward one another, fingers entangling, heads tilting together, feet swatting playfully.
It takes a while for them to settle in, too wrapped up in giddiness for life to find it in themselves to call the other down.
The fought and they bled and they wept and they grieved, but above all, they survived.
They trade complaints about the hard ground underneath their aching backs and hips, they joke about the ticklings of grass, about the dew that dots the blades, about the sappiness of it all.
They do so because they can, because they've made it through everything that has been tossed their way and more.
Above them, the stars twinkle their hellos, happily watching over them for this open-aired night. The moons of the newest base stamp the sky like blurred vision, lighting the planes of their faces just enough for the other to make out the key parts.
They chat excitedly now, eyes tracking the sky and all it has to offer. The silver of the pinprick stars are like the edges of midnight waves that the blue of the sky seems to be channeling. Another reminder of the things that are still unseen to their in love eyes - of what will be, when the time comes.
When the first one winks across the sky - fast enough that they barely see it from where their eyes are locked together, and nearly their lips too - Finn inhales excitedly, a smile unfurling from his lips.
They manage to break from this eye contact - instead leaning into that of their hands and sides and hips and legs and feet - to watch as another meteor stretches across the sky. And then a minute later, another.
The stars seem to reflect in their eyes, in their hearts, and the meteors tag along. A once in a lifetime refraction to mark what was the beginning of a once in a lifetime love.
In the middle of what Finn discerns is the height of the hour, he brings their clasped hands up to his face, undoing their fingers and pressing a warm kiss to the flat of Poe's palm. It says I'm so glad we're alive, it whispers I didn't think we'd ever make it here, it aches of I love you.
Poe tears his eyes from the sky where the meteors seem to slow, he's seen it up close and personal for so long that he thinks it'll be all right to deny it this once. Instead he maps the constellations in Finn's eyes until Finn can't take it and pulls him close for one searing kiss that drops into slow, lazy territory quickly.
They miss most of the shower after that, happy to find themselves back where they began. Colliding - always and forever colliding.
When Poe slips his hand around the side of Finn's neck to tilt his head, he feels the familiar cold bite of a chain and can't help but grin into the kiss.
He mumbles the question against Finn's lips, which pulls a small laugh, an of course, a promise.
It's never hard for them to quickly delve into a pocket of laughter when they're alone together like this, alert and as safe as can be, and so they do.
They miss the meteor shower, and they miss the shifting of the stars, of the moons. They miss the world around them for a few short hours, but they don't miss one another.
They do so because they finally can. They do so because it's a prelude to the rest of their lives that they can't wait to write. They do so because the air is pleasant and the ground really isn't that uncomfortable when they rest together like this, side to side, chests swelling with adoration.
They do so because it's their one year anniversary, and they're in love, and they're alive. Joyously, contentedly, unapologetically.