Poe let out an aggravated sigh as he ran a hand through his curls. He wasn’t quite sure what he was going to do, now that the Resistance was reduced down to a number that was almost insignificant and unable to make a difference. He pushed the thought out of his mind as he squeezed his eyes shut. It was despicable that Poe, of all people, would think such a desperately hopeless thing. The Resistance was more than just groups of people who dedicated their lives to a war that would outlive even the best of them. The Resistance was a symbol of hope, of something bigger than the people that surrounded him. Poe’s entire life was built around a sense of hope. He was eight when his mother died and he found himself hoping it was just another nightmare. He spent years hoping he could prove to everyone that he was more than a loud mouth, a pretty face, and a fiery temper. Hope was all he had to hold on to through his encounters with the First Order. Hope was all any of them had. Poe constantly had to remind himself of that. They were a spark even as the hope died out for some. The ashes were still hot, waiting to burn again.
Poe was met with a questioning beep when he opened his eyes and saw BB-8 at his feet. “Hey buddy,” Poe mumbled to his companion, a sad smile playing on his lips. He put a hand out and BB-8 rolled into it, letting out a satisfied string of beeps. The droid knew his master was in a state of despair and it was quite against BB-8’s personal protocol to allow Poe to be anything but happy, even as the Resistance fell silent. Poe had kept BB-8 as safe as possible through more than most droids were supposed to experience. The little sphere was thankful of that. BB-8 beeped aggressively, motivation far from hidden. Poe let out a soft chuckle at his droid’s attempt to raise his spirits.
“You sure know me pretty well, don’t you buddy?” More beeps answered his question. This time, Poe could hear the excitement rising. Poe knew BB-8’s motivation was right. The Resistance was still alive even after the destruction of their base, their ships, and the lives of many. It was also just a reason to keep fighting for the light.
Poe had noticed his step into leadership even before the Resistance made it onto Crait. While it was more arrogance and trigger-happy tendencies that brought him to quick and reckless decisions, it was for survival. Poe knew all eyes were on him after the general began to follow Poe’s orders. He wasn’t sure where his voice was. He had to speak up, to say something that lifted up the spirits of those around him, but nothing he came up with in his head seemed to do the situation justice. The Resistance was so strong, standing as tall as possible even through the relentless collision and aftermath. Find a planet, rebuild, and continue on. Poe couldn’t quite come up with how such a small amount of people were going to achieve such a treacherous and monumental task. He sighed to himself, looking at BB-8 with furrowed eyebrows. His eyes scanned over those who surrounded him on the Millennium Falcon, lingering on the General for a brief second more, before returning to BB-8. Continuing to stay quiet was out of the question. Poe couldn’t just sit and watch things crumble. A sharp intake of breath was all Poe needed to get the ball rolling. He stood up and let out a cough, something to gather attention. Many didn’t even look away from their conversations, while some glanced quickly at Poe before returning to their original action. Poe narrowed his eyes in confusion. His hands, which were naturally at his sides, balled up into fists. He shook his head at himself as a way to get him to clear his mind and try again.
“Listen up,” He spoke loudly, almost yelling. This brought the attention he wanted. He smiled slyly at himself when he realized he had accomplished one part of the task at hand. “I know this doesn’t look good or feel right, but we are not done here yet. We can come back from this and fight even harder next time.” He wasn’t sure where he was going with this, but he let out a breath and continued. “We need a new base on a planet the First Order won’t think to look for right away. Somewhere with some inhabitants and supplies. We need to try to reach our allies again and show them that we have not been defeated. When they see that we are still standing, maybe they will regain that trust they once have and stop looking at us like we are hopeless. We are so far from that. We are the face of hope and dammit, I will not let us crumble,” Poe spoke these words with more passion than he had ever shown before. The frustration and fear gathered in his chest and came off as cracks in his voice. He tried not to falter. He watched as those around him gave him mixed expressions. Some smiled and nodded, others looked towards the ground.
Certain people caught Poe’s attention. Finn smiled back at Poe, a certain amount of trust showing in his expression. Rey tried not to grin at the words she was hearing and nodded, knowing Poe was right. She began to think systematically and Poe was sure she was going to be a huge support system. Poe swallowed hard before locking eyes with General Organa- Leia. The woman who had filled a place in Poe’s heart that had been a hole since his mother’s death. There was always going to be a spot that no one could replace, but Leia filled in so many of the cracks. She believed in Poe more than she would ever admit, knowing his ego was just the right size already. She looked up at him with so much love in her eyes. She was proud of him. Poe knew it and it practically refilled him with enough energy and strength to just start rebuilding right there, right in front of Leia on that very ship. BB-8 let out excited beeps and spun around Poe in circles. Poe lifted up his foot, hoping to not step too close to his droid and possibly embarrass himself. Poe could restore the Resistance from this.
Poe planned to keep talking. He had so much to say and he knew persistence was key. Surprisingly, only a short breath escaped his lips as they parted, for Leia shook her head at him. Poe raised an eyebrow before quitting his attempt to speak again.
Leia stood up and made her way over to Poe, causing Poe’s heart to beat rapidly. Leia was such a firecracker that Poe could only hope her actions here followed the expression she was previously giving him. Leia smiled softly and nodded at Poe before turning to face the group. Everyone seemed to straighten up their posture and give their General more attention than they had given Poe. He held his breath as he noticed this and waited for Leia to break the silence.
“I know no one answered us during our time of despair on Crait. The silence and destruction are enough to put out any flame, but we are not just a spark. We have started bonfires before, and we will again. Poe is right. If we don’t listen to him, we will get nowhere. We can’t give up hope, not now, not ever. We are more than idle bodies and diminished optimism. We are the Resistance.” Leia said, her passion infecting everyone listening.
“She’s right!” The audience turned to look at the unlikely speaker. It was Rey, who suddenly realized that she was the center of attention. Her eyes widened for a moment, but she continued on, determined. “I haven’t known Poe for very long, but Finn has told me enough. Poe is the best pilot in the Resistance, and I’ve seen that with my own eyes! He’s exactly what we need in a leader, just like General Organa and you all believe in her, don’t you? Poe is just the same. There’s no way we can give up now, or we’ll have lost all of the progress we’ve ever made.”
Everyone, enthralled by Leia’s and Rey’s words, was nodding along, slowly acclimating to the fervor with which they were speaking. Rey’s words stuck with Finn as he thought of something to say. He replayed his first encounter with Poe in his mind to distract himself from the rising panic of staying silent. Poe was the sole reason Finn escaped the First Order. He was just a sequence of letters and numbers before Poe’s optimistic attitude and charm took hold of a TIE fighter and changed everything Finn had ever known.
Poe’s expression, pointed towards Rey, was full of admiration and thankfulness. They hadn’t known each other well enough yet for Rey to truly trust him, but her words inflated Poe’s ego enough for him to break out into a smile. His attention flickered from Rey to Finn, his smile fading when he sensed Finn’s apprehension. Finn was previously leaning against the wall next to Rose, but after hearing General Organa and Rey speak he seemed to be conflicted, fidgeting slightly with an intense look on his face. And yet, his eyes were locked on Poe’s, and the naked trust and support almost took his breath away.
Seeing Poe look at him seemed to strengthen Finn’s resolve and bring him to a solution, as he pushed himself off from the wall and started walking slowly and deliberately towards Poe. Everyone, still buzzing slightly from Rey’s forceful words, looked at him curiously. Finn had only spoke up once before and his words fell short due to the lack of substance. It wasn’t his fault and the attempt was honorable. Poe bit his lip as his eyes followed Finn. He stopped when he was beside Poe, who was now sandwiched between two of his favorite people, Leia and Finn. A rapid blush crawled onto his cheeks, the heat fairly noticeable. Finn glanced over at Poe and gently put a hand on his shoulder.
“Poe was the reason I ended up deserting the First Order. He showed me an unmatched amount of faith and trust, how to believe, how to be human. I will follow him even through the dark. You all should too.” Finn words were soft but full of raw emotion. It was a simple and short speech yet the impact was enough to rattle the hearts of the entire group, who looked on with support gleaming in their eyes. Finn watched as smiles crept on the faces of his comrades before looking back at Poe, gratefully. Poe returned the look before clapping his hands together.
“Alright, looks like the time to start is now,” Poe declared before rattling off different instructions to certain people. The Resistance could do this, Poe could do this. They didn’t need to rely only on hope anymore, and he was sure they were heading in the right direction. The amount of rising support caused his heart to skip a beat. He knew he was capable of a role far more rewarding than a condescending title such as the best pilot in the Resistance and he was finally there. The only pang of guilt that rang in Poe’s ears was directly related to his love for Leia. He never wanted to take her place, but with everyone starting to listen to him, he felt as if he was stepping in shoes he could never fill. He swallowed hard and let his thoughts trail off before a sharp whistle turned his attention to BB-8. His droid was leaning against his leg and looking up at him. BB-8 beeped quickly and Poe chuckled, shaking his head.
“Yes, BeeBee-Ate. You were right.”