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A Little Bird Told Me

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“You won’t believe us what we saw!” Poe proclaimed, catching Finn’s right elbow.

“I bet you haven’t heard it yet," Rose added, taking her place at Finn’s left side.

“What, Netherfield is let at last?”

The two shared confused looks.

“What?”

“Who?”

Finn sighed. “It’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’, you heathens.”

“God, you are such a nerd,” Rose rolled her eyes with fond exasperation, “Poe, tell him.”

“Yes, you are.”

The woman huffed. “Not that, you idiot, the news.”

“Oh, sorry. So I heard from Snap, who heard from Paige, who heard from Jess, who overheard Phasma telling Hux that she had found a temporary PA for Ren!” Poe happily delivered.

“And the best part is that she is here for, like, three hours already and still hasn’t run screaming for the hills,” Rose positively beamed.

“Oh, wow. Guess we are lucky for now,” said Finn pensively. Ever since Mitaka, the PA to CEO Kylo Ren, announced he was taking paternity leave, the First Order was in desperate search of a suitable substitution. Apparently no perks would be enough if your boss is moody 6’2” human tree prone to temper tantrums. The last unfortunate (fortunate?) soul hasn’t even made it to the office after a get-to-know with Poe and Jess. After that little stunt Phasma, the HR, announced that the First Order employees would take turns as Ren’s PA for a week each until Mitaka’s return so these news were very welcome.

“Yeah, but how are we going to persuade her to stay?”  Poe wondered.  “She’ll probably be crying on someone’s shoulder in a few hours.”

Rose smiled wickedly. “Blackmail, threats and bribes!”

Finn made a chocking sound. “Rosie, you can’t just do that! That’s horrible!”

“OK, maybe no threats, the boss will do that just fine, but the other two are viable options.”

“Can’t we just bring her coffee or something?”

Poe and Rose shared a look. “OK, one vote for bribe.”

“We may want to ask someone less pacifistically inclined,” they both pointedly looked at Finn. He glared back.

The trio found Paige and Kaydel in the office kitchen brewing their coffee and chatting each other’s ears out. The girls turn to them with identical happy expressions ready to deliver the newest piece of gossip, but Poe beat them to it.

“Ladies, how would you make someone stay somewhere they do not want to be?”

“Steal their passport,”  Kaydel chimed.

“Chain them to the wall, obviously,” Paige shrugs. Rose beamed at her sister.

“See, I’m not that bad.”

Finn only shook his head while trying to find his favorite mug. Chances were that the poor girl would be scared away by her coworkers long before she meets her monster boss.

“Guys, have you heard…” Poe began only to be interrupted by Kaydel.

“We had seen her!”

“No way!”

“How could you not tell me?!” Rose cried out loud.

“It was literally ten minutes ago and an accident,” Paige answers defensively.

“We saw Phasma introducing her to Peavey. Her name is Rey, Rey Niima,” her friend added.

“And how is she?”  Poe eagerly asks. The girls looked at each other for a moment and signed.

“Nice.”

“Sweet.”

“We are so fucked,” Rose lamented. No nice and sweet could handle their boss at his worse.

“Maybe this Rey only looks like a cinnamon roll?”

“U-hu, just like any other before her. I bet you, Poe, will be the first Phasma send to Ren,”  Paige retorted.

“Yep, because it’s your fault you scared away that Matt guy,”  Kaydel vindictively added.

“What was I supposed to do? He was so cute, I couldn’t just…”

Finn quietly slipped out of the kitchen with two cups of coffee, deciding to take the matters in his own hands. Just like he thought, the door to the CEO’s outer office was open, showing the young woman seating behind the table. He tapped the door.

“Hello!” she smiled brightly.

“Hi! I’m Finn, from tech support.”

“I’m Rey, your boss’ new PA. Mr. Ren is currently attending meeting. Do you want to leave him a message or?”

“Oh, no, I was actually here to see you. To greet you properly. Here,” he gave her one cup, “I suppose, you haven’t find our coffeemaker yet. I didn’t know how you like it so it’s with cream and sugar.”

Rey sipped the concoction than gave him a grateful smile. “Perfect.”

Finn seated himself across from her.

“So, how is your first day?”

“So far so good. Everyone is so nice and friendly.”

He internally winced remembering the suggestions of blackmailing and chaining to the wall.

“Um, yeah, we kind of are. Corporate spirit, you know.” He sipped his coffee to mask awkward shifting. “And how is your new boss?”

Rey shrugged. “He is OK.”

Finn almost chocked on his drink.

“He is?”

“Um, yeah, I guess. Why are you asking?” She eyed him curiously.

“No reason. Just checking. To make sure you are fine. Are you?”

Rey frowned. “Yes, why?”

“Wonderful!” Finn chirped. “Well, I’ve gotta go, see you soon, have a nice day!” He quickly backed out of the office until she could ask him more questions he would prefer not to answer. Better safe than sorry after all.

Later Finn noticed his colleagues taking turns on bringing Rey their peace offerings. By the end of the day she had gathered a significant pile of apples, cookies and candies.

“I hope the bribing will work,” Rose sighed on their way out. He wholeheartedly agreed.

 

“She is still here!” was the first thing Finn heard on his morning coffee stop.

“Who?” Snap asked.

“Rey Niima,” Tallie sounded way too excited. “I saw her this morning and she was smiling! She even put flowers on her table.”

“No way!” the man even stopped checking his phone. “That’s the first.”

“Well, god to know the girl is no quitter,” Jess decided. “Can you imagine, I asked her how her day was and she said fine. Like working with Ren is no big deal.”

“I wish I knew her therapist,” Paige looked wistful, “Hux is driving me crazy sometimes”.

“Maybe she is that naturally that cheerful,” Finn assumed. Tallie gasped.

“Yes! Natural remedies. She probably drinks some tea or something.”

“Are you implying a recreational drug use?” Paige narrowed her eyes suspiciously.

“I wish she shared the recipe,” Jess sighed.

 

“I don’t get it. What is she doing here?” Poe admitted confusedly between adding sugar and creamer to his drink.

“Who doing what?” asked a distracted Rose.

“Rey Niima.”

“What’s about her?”

“She is nice and smart and woefully overqualified for this job. What on earth is she doing here?”

Finn shrugged. “Maybe she needs more experience to find something better?”

“Or maybe she is only smart enough to answer the calls and bring coffee,” Bazine sneered.

“Did you know that Rey has Master’s in engineering?” Poe asked, completely ignoring the woman. “She is supposed to build planes or ships or, I don’t know, skyscrapers…”

“Or sewers,” Bazine muttered. Rose and Finn both glared at her.

“Not moving papers around,” Poe finished, unperturbed. “It’s not logical.”

“You know, Paige told me that Jess asked her about it and Rey cited some ‘family reasons’, which is odd because she had never mentioned her family, not even once,” Rose said pensively.

“Yeah, I remember she said that she had no one to support her through college,” the man agreed.

“The girls think she had to take care of a sick grandfather or something, but Kaydel is pretty sure she had younger siblings to take care of after their parents died.”

“Or Phasma did steal her passport,” Poe quipped.

“Or better yet, Niima has children herself,” Bazine snickered.

“I don’t know. Rey never mentioned children. And isn’t she too young to have them?” Rose wondered.

“A teenage mom then. A single teenage mom.”

Rose and Finn both glared at the dark-haired woman again.

“You know, Bazine, if I hadn’t known better I would have said you are jealous,” Poe said.

“I have nothing to be jealous about,” the woman snapped before storming away.

 

“I’ve never thought I would live to see this day!” Paige proclaimed dramatically.

“Hux finally came out of the closet?” Poe asked overeagerly.

“You wish!” Paige snorted. “No, it’s just the first time I saw Ren actually saying nice things to people.”

“You are kidding,” Snap chimed in. “Boss won’t be caught dead giving compliments.”

“Ask Finn if you don’t believe me. He saw it too.”

Finn shifted uncomfortably as both men eyed him expectantly.

“Um, yeah, we saw Ren and Niima in the corridor talking about some report and he said ‘good work’. That’s a quotation FYI.”

“Oh, wow!”

“Is he sick or something?”

Both men looked simultaneously amazed and confused. Finn shrugged.

“Well, she is a good PA. Keeps everything in order and knows how to deal with Ren. Rey is probably as good as Mitaka.”

“I don’t remember him complimenting poor guy, like, ever,” Paige quipped.

“That’s probably because he never wore pencil skirts,” Poe snorted.

Finn rolled his eyes.

 

“I still think it’s weird,” Tallie sighed.

“But that will explain everything, so it’s a possibility,” Kaydel retorted, “Jess, what do you think?”

“I think,” Jess started, her eyes twinkling with mischief, “we should ask Finn.”

Finn, who was not listening, gave a little start hearing his name.

“What?”

The ladies shared a look.

“You are friends with Rey Niima, right?” Kaydel inquired.

“Yes, why?”

Another look.

“Do you think she likes it here?” Jess questioned.

“Yes, I think so.”

“Does she like anything in particular?” Tallie asked.

“Or anyone?” Jess detailed. Finn blinked confusedly.

“Could you, please, tell me what is going on?”

“We think…”

“There is rumor going around…”

“It’s kind of odd but if you just think about it…”

“We believe that Niima might have a little crush,” the girls finally delivered.

“Um, I guess it’s possible.”

“On Ren,” Kaydel abruptly finished.

Finn chocked on his coffee. After a prolonged period of violent coughing he managed to rasp, “What?!”

“I know, I know, but listen, it kind of makes sense,” Jess piped in, “Rey always speak nice of him and she never complains on her late hours and both Paige and Snap saw her staring at him. Wistfully.”

“And she had that dreamy look when she talks to Ren,” Kaydel added.

“And Bazine hates her, well, she hates everyone, but with Rey she is downright jealous,” Tallie finished. “So?”

Finn, who finally remembered how breezing worked, managed a response, “No, no way, you are so wrong! Rey is nice and sweet and Ren, he… he is...”

“A dick?”

“An asshole?”

“Kinda hot?”

Everyone stared at Jess. She shrugged.

“What? I have eyes, you know? After all, Niima definitely didn’t fall for his shining personality.”

“Well, maybe, but still I can’t picture Rey being into him,” Tallie hesitated.

“Exactly!” Finn supported her, “you must be mistaken or something. I’m sure we’ll see that it’s just a rumor soon.”

“Yeah, we’ll see,” Kaydel reluctantly agreed.

 

“I told you so!” Jess proclaimed.

“Care to elaborate? You talk a lot,” Poe quipped. Jess gave him half-hearted glare.

“Our little Miss Niima is sweet on Ren,” she looked pointedly on Finn who stubbornly stared back.

“And you know that because…” Rose prompted.

“Kay pressed her a little and she admitted that she considers Ren attractive. Which you should probably already know, you guys go out with her every Friday.” The dark-haired girl huffed.

“Unlike Kaydel I do not pressure my friends into anything.”

“Yeah, and finding someone attractive doesn’t make you automatically interested in them. You yourself said that Ren is hot,” Finn supported her. Everyone gasped. Jess looked unconcerned.

“That’s different, I’m a lesbian hence I’m objective. She is not.”

“OK, that’s interesting but the real question is whether Niima is aware that Ren is married,” Paige stated. Rose gaped at her.

“He does not!”

“Does too! He even wears a ring. Jess, tell her.”

“Yep, he does. Though I’m not entirely sure if it’s a wedding band.”

Paige glared on her treacherous friend.

“If something looks like a wedding band it probably is a wedding band,” Finn mused. “I doubt Ren has a thing for jewelry.”

“And he had never shown any interest in anyone, not even when Bazine flung herself at him,” Rose pondered.

“Firstly, Ren is very private person, and secondly, no normal man wants Bazine to treat him like a piece of meat,” her sister snorted.

“Anyway, I pity his wife,” Jess stated.

“Are you sure it is a wife?” Poe wiggled his brows suggestively. “For all we know he might be gay.”

“No way!”

“You are kidding!”

“I’ve always thought he and Hux were an item,” Paige suddenly announced.

“What? Not the two of them! That’s gross,” Finn blurted, surprised.

“And Hux doesn’t wear any rings,” Jess added.

Paige brushed it off. “Maybe he is less committed to their relationship.”

“Or maybe they are just not together,” Poe stated. The girls huffed.

“Just because you have hots for a certain ginger it doesn’t automatically make him single,” smirked Jess.

“Say what you want, Pava, but Ren and Hux are not together,” Poe snorted.

“OK, guys, but who’s gonna tell Rey?” Rose looked on her colleagues with a frown.

“Tell me what?” the woman in question unexpectedly walked in on them.

“Oh, hi!” They greeted her awkwardly. She smiled back.

“So what did you want to tell me?”

“Um, did you know about Ren?” Jess tentatively asked.

“What about him?”

“You probably do not know that…” Poe started.

“Though you might have noticed the ring,” Jess interrupted him.

“But he is kind of subtle about it,” Rose added.

“Anyway, what I was trying to say is…”

“Ren is married,” Paige ended. Rey took a sharp intake of breath.

“What?” the poor girl squeaked. “How do you?..”

“We have our resources,” Poe flippantly said, while Finn looked at her with concern.

“Are you OK? You are a bit pale.”

“Yes, yes,” she brushed him off weakly. “And you… you know who his wife is?”

“Actually we never said it was a woman,” Jess claimed.

“Oh,” the poor girl said faintly.

“Yes, sweetie, Ren is married to a man,” Rose gently said, putting a hand on her shoulder.

“Oh,” Rey’s eyes rounded.

“To Hux,” Paige continued without missing a beat.

“What?!” The girl’s eyes rounded even more.

“Not to Hux,” Poe glowered. “He is indeed married to a man, but not to Hux.”

“You know something!” Rose gasped.

“You do!” Jess accused. “Tell us, tell us, tell us.”

Poe somehow managed to look both smug and abashed. “OK, but you can’t tell anyone, it’s private information. Remember that time I had an internship with Leia Organa?”

Paige smirked. “Of course we do, you pined over her for months.”

“I did not, I merely admired a strong, smart and independent woman,” he feigned offence. “Anyway, I accidentally overheard her talking with Ren and she mentioned his partner.”

“Just partner?” Paige questioned. “It could be anyone.”

“By name,” Poe finished with a glare. “And it was neither Armitage, nor Hux.”

“You know the name?” Jess asked, excited. Poe blushed.

“Frankly, I can’t remember it.”

“What? You must be kidding!”

“Listen, it was just a generic dudebro name I accidentally overheard, it didn’t seem important,” he retorted defensively.

“You could have at least told us,” Rose chided him.

“He is not supposed to share someone else’s private information,” Finn interjected.

“Thanks, buddy. That and I had no idea you would be that interested.”

“Well, we are,” Jess informed him.

Rey cleared her throat. “OK, guys, that was very enlightening but I have work to do,” she said unconvincingly.

“You sure you are OK?” Finn asked her.

“Yes, thank you,” Rey smiled weakly. “See you.”

“Poor girl,” Rose sighed after she was gone.

“It’s better this way, while she is not too deep in,” her sister pointed out.

“And now we are probably due to an impromptu night out,” Poe decided.

“Probably,” Finn agreed.

 

“OK, I don’t think it worked,” Tallie sighed.

“Yeah, at least we tried. Who knew that we could have such a problem?” Rose wondered. “What do you think, Finn?”

“About what?” he asked confusedly, turning off his phone

“That a girl would be pining over Ren,” Snap enlightened him. “Most people run run screaming for the hills after they meet him.”

“What did Bazine did this time? Tried to corner him and have her merry way with him?”

“That wouldn’t be the first,” Kaydel snorted, “but we actually are talking about Rey.”

“You can’t be serious about that. She is not a kind to be into Mr. Tantrum.”

Rose shook her head, “you are sometimes so naïve. She looks at him with heart eyes all the time. And remember how shocked she was when we told her that Ren is taken?”

“She was just surprised!” Finn protested.

“U-hu,” Rose hummed.

“No, seriously, Rey is interested in him just as much as he interested in her. And Ren is gay.”

“But is he really?” Snap interjected.

“Well, Poe said…” Rose started.

“I don’t know about Poe but I personally saw Ren checking Niima’s ass out a couple of times. And not in a ‘general appreciation’ way.”

“You are kidding!” Tallie gasped.

Kaydel hummed, “you know, I don’t remember a single time when Ren said anything rude about his PA ever since Rey started working here. And he is kind of less angry around her”

“O my God, you are right. He never screams at her and doesn’t call her names and he even made compliments,” Rose gushed.

“That and I saw him smile at her. Like, really smile, and Ren never does that.”

“Wow, that escalated quickly,” Tallie observed.

“I think you are imagining things,” Finn maintained, slightly shocked.

“We’ll see,” Snap promised.

 

“Well, shit!” Paige proclaimed.

“What’s wrong?” Poe asked curiously.

“Remember the flowers that Niima keeps on her table? The ones she brings to work every week.”

He nodded in agreement.

“So apparently Jess was early today and saw Ren of all people bringing a bouquet of daisies to work. And guess what is on Rey’s table right now?”

“No way!” the man exclaimed.

“See for yourself. Kay snapped a photo.” On the picture Paige showed him was indeed a bunch of daisies.

“It seems our Little Miss Sunshine is not so innocent after all,”  Snap chuckled, thoroughly amused. “Told you Mr. Grumpy can admire a nice ass.”

Finn tensed. “That was rude and you know it. Maybe he simply congratulated her with a month of work here.”

“That was a week ago,” Poe commented. “And flowers are kinda too serious.”

“For a gay married man?” Paige teased him. “I wonder how far did their relationships progress?”

“Probably not quite platonic, judging from a bouquet,” Poe mused. “Have or have not they done the deed, that is the question.”

“Man, did you saw her in those tight skirts? I bet he had already bent her over his table,” Snap snorted.

Finn looked appalled. “You all are disgusting!”

“Then how you explain why she keeps staying late all the time?” Paige questioned.

“They are working on that Raddus tender. You yourself had a plenty to do for it.”

“Well, yeah, but…”

“For God’s sake, stop the gossiping! You all are no better than Bazine!” Finn demanded with indignation.

“At least we are not trying to seduce a man in committed relationship,” Snap speculated.

“You know what? I’m not continuing this discussion. Bye.” The dark-skinned man abruptly turned to leave the room. His friends followed.

“Wait, man!”

Finn angrily turned around the corner just in time to see Bazine shouldering Rey who held a huge stuck of papers. The papers scattered dramatically all over the floor.

“Rey!” Finn was surprised to find that the exclamation came not from him but from their boss who was also an accidental witness of the whole interaction.

Bazine immediately paled. “Oh, I’m so sorry! My new shoes are a bit unstable,” she mustered an extremely fake apologetic smile.

“It’s fine,” the affected woman answered, trying to gather her documents.

In two long strides Ren reached his employees. “Miss Netal, may I advise you to wear more sensible footwear henceforth.” His icy tone made Bazine shrink.

“Y-yes, of course,” stammered the woman before darting to her office.

Ren knelt near his PA.

“You OK?” he asked with clear worry in his voice. Rey smiled apologetically.

“I’m fine,” she insisted. “It’s just…” the girl sighed, “the paperwork you requested for the next hour. It was sorted and alphabetized and now it’s a mess,” she softly trailed off.

“Rey, don’t worry about that, it’s just papers,” Ren softly said. It was the first time Finn heard his boss speak with such gentleness. Confused, he turned to his colleagues to see them just as struck with the interaction.

“Told you so,” Paige silently mouthed behind him.

 

“And then he bridal carried her to his office!” Tallie animatedly chirped. “You can ask Finn if you don’t believe me. He saw it himself.”

“Really?” Kaydel asked incredulously.

“Of course not,” Finn immediately responded, “don’t be ridiculous. Ren did not take bridal carried her and neither,” he pointedly looked at Poe, “bent her over his table later. He simply helped her to gather the documents. That’s it.”

“But Jess said…” Tallie pouted.

“Jess vastly exaggerated.”

“How can you still believe there is nothing between them? Their chemistry is crazy,” Poe interjected. His friend huffed.

“They are simply on amicable terms, nothing else. Just like, I don’t know, you and Jess.”

“More like you and Rose,” Kaydel quipped. The couple in question heavily blushed.

“We are not…”

“We are just…”

Their colleagues smiled smugly.

“Yeah, that’s exactly what I meant,” the blond woman snorted.

“Still you can’t deny it that it was awfully romantic,” Tallie sighed.

“What, picking the papers?”

“No, protecting Rey from Bazine like a loyal knight.”

“It would be if he were not married,” Rose contemplated. “Loyalty is an important quality in men.” She side-eyed Finn. He chose to ignore it.

“Nevertheless it’s an interesting development,” Kaydel commented.

“’Yeah, who knew the man had balls for that?” Poe grinned. Finn disapprovingly shook his head.

“What’s so interesting?” a newly arrived Bazine questioned the group. Ever since the infamous encounter the woman wore sensible shoes accompanied with rather pissed facial expression which did little to encourage her coworkers to spend more time in her company.

“Nothing,” Finn promptly replied.

“Just discussing Niima’s love life,” Poe added, earning an elbow from Rose.

“Oh, our precious ray of sunshine? I wonder how long you’ll let yourself be fooled by her innocent looks.”

“You know, Baz, envy doesn’t suit you,” Kaydel interjected. The woman sneered.

“At least I’m not trying to wreck two homes!”

“Not for the lack of trying,” Poe muttered. The rest looked somewhat confused.

“Wait, two homes?” Tallie questioned with wide eyes. Bazine feigned surprise.

“Please, don’t tell me you didn’t know that your Little Miss Sunshine is actually a Missis.”

“She is what?!”

“Oh, yes. While she is canoodling with her boss her poor husband waits for her at home. Alone. Surprised?” The woman asked nonchalantly.

Her colleagues looked at her with the same gobsmacked expression.

“That must be a mistake,” Finn faltered.

“How do you even know that?” Tallie squeaked.

“Simple. I took a peek at her personal file while Phasma was distracted. And it clearly states that our miss Niima is married to a mister Ben Solo.” Poe loudly chocked on his coffee.

“There must be some kind of mistake or something. Or maybe they are divorced,” Finn persisted.

“No, he is listed as her next of kin and an emergency contact. I assume she didn’t tell you. So much for your precious friendship,” Bazine mocked.

“Maybe she had a reason to keep it secret?” Poe suddenly piped in.

“Like what, not to let it ruin her office romance?”

“You know, Poe, as weird as it is to say, Bazine is right. Apparently we know nothing about Rey,” Kaydel muttered with a frown.

“But…”

“Finn, Rey clearly lied to us and we are her friends. Why would you lie to your friends?” Rose implored. “And you are still protecting her.”

“Because that’s what friends do,” he responded stubbornly. “Because we choose what to believe into. And I know that Rey is not an adulteress. She is a nice person.”

“I wish everyone was as nice as you are,” Tallie sighed.

 

The things became somewhat tense after that. People slowly started to exclude Rey from casual conversations. If she picked on the suddenly cold treatment she didn’t show it, though coincidentally the more distant her co-worker became the bigger bouquets appeared on her table. On the other hand, she, like everybody else, was literally buried by the sheer amount of paperwork in preparation to the Raddus tender.

Finn, being his stubborn self, still made sure to chat with Rey here and there to check on her. Surprisingly, Poe of all people supported him while his friendship with Rose strained.

The situation unsurprisingly worsened on Friday when Rey joined their table for lunch.

“So, guys, are we going to Cantina tonight? This week was crazy, we deserve some fun.”

Finn barely opened his mouth when Rose’s elbowed his ribs.

“I don’t know,” the girl chimed, “I have way too much work to do.”

Finn didn’t even try to cover a betrayed look on his face.

“Oh,” Rey looked surprised.

“Well, Sunshine, you’ll have to content yourself with Finn and me,” Poe piped.

“Not so fast, Dameron,” Jess and Paige materialized behind him. “Do you remember that you promised to come help us tonight?”

“I did? With what?”

“With our presentation, obviously. We need your magical Power Point skills,” Jess reminded him.

“My what?”

“Oh, don’t be so shy, you are the best with dramatic effects,” Paige supplied.

“I am?” he asked, thoroughly confused.

“Of course.  Hux was impressed with your latest work. He’ll be overseeing us, you know?”

“He will?”

Jess snorted. “Yes, dummy. Meet us at four sharp.” Paige winked to Rose, she tightly smiled back.

Poe nodded eagerly. “Yes, yes, I will.”

“Good. See ya.” He blinked a couple of times snapping out of his reverie.

“O God, sorry, guys, I guess I’m roped in. You’ll be fine without me, right?”

“Yes, we’ll be just peachy,” Finn answered warily, eyeing a very silent Rose, “even though you two are so very busy.”

“It’s OK, Finn,” Rey gently reassured him. “I guess we’d better cancel. That probably wasn’t a good idea in the first place.”

“Yes, it was,” he maintained stubbornly. Rose beside him refused to meet anyone’s eyes.

“Then the timing is wrong. There is still so much to finish before the tender.  I wouldn’t want to inconvenience anyone.”

“But Rey…”

She smiled gently. “Don’t worry about me. At least I’d have extra time to proofread the contract once more. OK, see you later.”

Finn waited for the next Friday with a mix of guilt and dread but it didn’t matter after all. Rey didn’t ask any of them again.

 

The First Order employees firmly adhered to a theory that the best thing to maintain corporate spirit is free booze, with pizza and karaoke nights proud seconds. The management was well aware of these inclinations so the moment the Raddus deal was finalized all the work stopped, the conference room was cleared and copious amount of food and drinks was ordered. By the time Ren and Hux returned to the building the party was already in the full rage.

Finn strategically positioned himself closer to the food table where the music wasn’t so loud, nursing a cup of punch and observing his colleagues who already relaxed enough to dance but not enough to start singing yet. Snap as usually was on DJ duty while girls under Phasma’s watchful eye made sure the tables had enough empty plastic cups and full plates.

“Already bored?” a flushed Poe joined him.

“No, just watching. You?”

The man grinned. “Having fun while I can. Hey, girls!” He waved enthusiastically to Paige and Rose. The sisters waved back.

“I love office parties!” Paige proclaimed emphatically, waving her cup. Rose, who was drinking grape juice, snorted, “of course you do. Someone has already spiked the punch.”

Poe grinned.

“You didn’t!” Finn breezed.

“I totally did,” was his proud response, “and with a good stuff. After all, I deserve some fun since Phasma put me on a Bazine duty.”

“On a what?” Rose asked, confused.

“Oh my sweet naïve sister, I sometimes forget how little you know,” Paige sing-songed.

“A Bazine duty is like a designated driver duty, but you mostly try to make sure she won’t make a fool of herself when drank,” Finn supplied.

“The girl can’t hold her liquor, like, at all,” Poe sighed.

“It can’t be that bad.”

 PhasmaThe group shared a look. “Guys, remember that time when she tried to give a lap dance?” Paige recalled.

“Or the time she started wet shirt competition?” Poe continued.

“Or the time she made out with a plastic deer?” Finn shuddered.

“Wow,” Rose gasped, wide-eyed. “In that case I should let you know that Bazine is having a second serving of the punch you so generously spiked.”

“Oh shit!” Poe cursed, searching the room for the dark-haired woman. And there she was, making a beeline toward the corner where seriously-looking Ren, Hux and Niima discussed something most likely work-related, judging from their facial expressions. The man quickly darted to intercept Bazine, but the room was too crowded to move freely. Finn managed to catch Rey’s eye across the room and he tried his best to convey the message, making faces and jerking his head emphatically. When her eyes rounded in understanding, the girl gave him an imperceptible nod, deftly grabbed Ren’s hand and dragged him to the dance floor, effectively leaving Hux and Poe to deal with a tipsy and annoyed Bazine.

“Well, that was close,” Rose muttered, eyeing the gently swaying couple.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ren dance before,” Finn commented incredulously.

“You still think they are not involved?” Paige snorted. Indeed, both the way the dark-clad man held Rey and the look on his face suggested that Ren cared at least a little about her. Even though they were in public, there was something rather intimate about their interaction and Finn had a weird feeling he was intruding.

“What have I missed?” Poe gingerly asked them as soon as he returned.

“Same old, same old. Just discussing our star-crossed lovers,” Paige quipped.

“Why did you left Baz unsupervised?” Rose immediately rounded on him. “We barely avoided a public humiliation.”

“Don’t worry, we left her near the karaoke machine. She won’t be bothering our lovebirds again, the girl loves attention way too much and Jess will keep an eye on her,” Poe winked.

“And the scene is conveniently far away from the booze. Well done, man,” Paige approved.

“You clearly haven’t heard her rendition off ‘I Will Always Love You’ if you say that,” Finn sighed.

They silently observed as the woman unconfidently climbed with a microphone onto the scene, swaying in her high heels. Their coworkers clearly appreciated Bazine’s drunken shenanigans since there were a few whistles and requests.

“Give us a dance, Bazine!”

“All The Single Ladies!”

“Dance for us!”

“No,” she pouted.

“Come on, move a little!”

“You go, girl!”

“No!” she clearly enjoyed the attention of the audience.

“Be a good girl, Bazine,” Snap taunted her.

The woman jerked her head. “Why?”

The man was surprised by the question. “Um, because? Girls should be good.”

Bazine swayed again. “No, some girls are mean. Rey Niima is mean.” There were a few gasps. The woman in question froze on a dance floor.

Poe produced a string of colorful Spanish expletives before rushing back to the scene.

“Here we go,” Paige muttered.

“OK, Bazine, that’s enough, get down,” Hux demanded.

“Why?  I don’t want to, I like it here better.”

“You are drunk and talk nonsense.”

“Am not!” she contradicted stubbornly swaying in the process. “Everyone knows that Niima is a liar and an adu… adult… adulte… a cheater! She is married!”

The room descended into dead quiet. In the background Phasma motioned Jess to turn off the microphone.

“Bazine, please, get down and we’ll talk,” Poe pleaded her.

“No! You won’t listen! You never do!” the woman cried.

“OK, I’m coming up,” the annoyed man announced and rushed up the stairs, backed by Hux. Bazine squealed and climbed on a platform with a surprising grace for someone so inebriate.

“Don’t touch me! Mr. Ren, please, listen, it is true!” the woman screamed on the top of her lungs. When Poe reached to grab her she hit him in a face with her microphone, bruising his cheekbone.

“Stop, you’ll hurt her,” Phasma yelled.

“Oh, really?” he yelled back.

Ren pinched the bridge of his nose in annoyance.

“Bazine, please, calm down. You are a grown-up woman. Please, behave like one.”

She shook her head sniffling.

“You don’t believe me, but that’s true. I have his number. What if I call him right now and tell him what his wife is up to?”

The crowd only gaped as she produced a cell phone.

“Oh no, you don’t!” Hux lunged toward her only to obtain a black eye. The woman squealed holding the phone high in her hand.

“Yes, I do!” She managed to press the call and the whole room stopped breezing. Suddenly sound of a ringtone pierced the silence. Every head snapped toward it. Under the scrutiny of watchful eyes Ren with exaggerating calmness let go of Rey’s waist, reached into his pocket, took out his phone and answered the call, looking the woman on the scene dead in the eye.

“Bazine. Put. The. Fucking. Phone. Down.”

Someone cursed. Dozens of jaws dropped on the floor.

“But… but how? It belongs to Ben Solo, Niima’s husband.”

I am her husband!” he growled with murderous expression.

“Holy shit!” blurted Snap.

Ren looked around, his jaw tight.

“I am Benjamin Organa Solo Skywalker, professional alias Kylo Ren, married to Rey Solo nee Niima. Are you satisfied or there is anything else you want to know?” His tone was taut and freezing cold. The crowd unconsciously took a step back.

“Ben,” his wife gently called him.

“No?” Ren, no, Solo, mockingly lifted an eyebrow. “You sure?”

“Ben, please,” Rey tugged his hand, “let’s go home.”

“Of course, sweetheart,” his face immediately softened in response to her. He put protective hand small of her back and guided her out, shielding her from the prying eyes.

“Are you happy, you morons?” Hux hissed as soon as they departed. “The party is over.”

The room suddenly came to life. Poe with the help of Phasma managed to get hold of Bazine who in her shock just followed dumbly their lead. Every single person, still wide-eyed and incredulous, started talking at once trying to contemplate what exactly had transpired. Suddenly the last couple of months looked strikingly different.

“Holy fuck,” Paige muttered.

“That was…” Finn faltered clearly lacking the right words.

“Horrible. We are horrible,” Rose mumbled, her face reddened with shame. “The things we said. God, we trashtalked her husband in front of her. And she never said a word.”

“We are such assholes,” her sister agreed. “Not Finn though. He is a saint.”

“He is. And Poe, too.”

Paige snorted. “That bastard! He knew and he never said a word.”

“No way,” Finn gasped. “He would have told us.”

“He totally did. Remember how he reacted when Bazine told us who exactly Niima is married to?”

“We should at least ask him. We have already assumed enough.”

They found Poe in the kitchen pressing a packet of ice to his cheekbone with one hand and stuffing his face with the celebratory cake with the other one.

“Hi, guys! It’s a shame to waste a perfectly good cake. Want some?”

“You ass!” Paige rounded on him. “You knew!”

“About Rey and Ren,” Finn clarified.

“I, um,” Poe looked guilty, “I swear, I didn’t at the beginning.”

“You said that Ren is gay! That he had a husband!” Rose accused him.

“Look, guys, I had no idea. All I knew was the name and ‘Ray’ is usually not a female one. I didn’t know back then it was ‘Rey’ with an ‘e’. I only knew after that Bazine’s stunt.”

Finn chortled. “You make it sound like we have our own Rey of the Green Gables”. The girls rolled their eyes.

“You are such a nerd,” fondly reproached him Rose.

“And you never told us that Ren is Organa’s son,” Paige pouted.

“Because I personally promised Leia not to! It was private information I couldn’t disclose. I thought I’d done enough damage already. And it was only a couple of weeks until Mitaka’s return, everything was supposed to fix itself eventually,” Poe bristled.

“But it did not. What are we going to do now?” Finn implored.

Poe shrugged. “Frankly, no idea.”

 

Monday came sooner than anyone expected. The whole office was in gloomy mood. Ren (or Solo?) came early and surprisingly with Rey in tow. They barricaded in his office, only letting in an irritated Phasma and Hux sporting a black eye. Even more surprisingly, Bazine showed up as well. She hid in her corner, looking completely miserable, and busied herself with work.

By eleven Finn came to a conclusion he must check up on Rey. He waited until Ren left for a meeting accompanied by Hux and Phasma, quickly made two cups of coffee and slipped into Rey’s office.

“Hi,” he said, suddenly remembering their first meeting, “I brought you coffee.”

“Thank you,” she wearily smiled back.

“Are you OK? We were so worried.”

Rey flushed.

“Oh, I’m fine, Ben, I mean Kylo, was upset much more than me. Also have you seen poor Armitage?”

Finn snorted. “Believe me, ‘poor Armitage’ is all Poe talks about. And he himself looks just as ‘dashing’.”

She sighed. “O God, he probably hates me.”

“You? Of course not,” protested Finn. “Why would you say that? It’s not like it was you who punched him.”

“But it’s my fault. If I didn’t try to keep my personal life a secret nothing would happen. I just didn’t want to incite the gossips,” Rey finished guiltily. Finn snorted.

“Well, maybe it wasn’t your smartest decision ever but that doesn’t excuse Bazine’s behavior. No one is blaming you.  In fact, everyone thinks you hate us after everything.”

“What? No! You didn’t do anything.”

“That’s exactly the problem. We should have done something before it became a massive infringement of the code of conduct. I’m afraid to think what Phasma will do with Bazine now.” Finn shuddered.

“Actually she’ll probably be seriously reprimanded but that’s it. Ben was going to press charges but Gwen and I made him reconsider.”

“Gwen?”

“Phasma,” Rey supplied. “She and Armitage dropped by to discuss our um… predicament. I was lucky to have her on my side since Armie always supports Kylo.”

“Wow!” Finn winced. “Sorry, it’s like some kind of alternative universe. Supportive Hux, merciful Phasma, and you are on the first name basis with them…”

Rey smiled. “It would be weird if I wasn’t considering that they are Ben’s friends.  Armitage was Best Man on our wedding.” She laughed at Finn’s shocked expression. “Yes, your bosses do have a life outside of these walls. As for Gwen, she decided that letting Bazine stay is punishment in itself, especially after someone put the video of the whole ordeal on YouTube. Poor girl is probably extremely embarrassed.”

“Yeah, that sounds more like Phasma,” Finn conceded. He pondered for a minute. “Um, Rey, may I ask you a question? It’s kind of personal. If that’s OK, I mean.”

“Sure.”

Finn shifted uncomfortably. “Do you happen to know if Hux is gay? Asking for a friend,” he blurted quickly.

Rey gave a peal of laugh. “Of all the possible questions you are asking this? As a matter of fact, Armitage is not gay,” she paused dramatically, “but you can tell Mr. Dameron that he is bi.” She winked.

“But how… Did you pick up on that?”

Rey huffed. “Finn, that was obvious.”

“It was? I guess I’m not that perceptive.”

“You don’t say,” the woman deadpanned. “If you were you would have asked Rose out ages ago.”

“How?..”

She laughed on his gobsmacked expression. “Finn, trust me on this. If you do she’ll say yes.” Rey gave him an encouraging smile.

“Oh, um, yeah, thank you.” He fought the urge to hide under the table out of embarrassment. Apparently the universe decided to save him from further dramatic insights as the intercom suddenly come to life.

“A delivery for Rey Solo. Please, report to reception.”

“I think that was you.”

“But I didn’t order anything,” Rey furrowed her brows.

“Rey Solo, please, report to reception.”

“Do you want me to come with you?” Finn gently asked.

“Please.”

The reception area was empty safe for Tallie and a diminutive delivery man with a giant bouquet.

“Rey Solo? Please, sign here.”

“Who are they from?” she inquired.

The man shrugged. “No idea, ma’am. A flower shop probably put a card in there.”

Finn managed to fish the card out of the mass of flowers and handed it to Rey.

“So?”

“Finn? What is this?”

In a delicate script there was only handwritten ‘Please, forgive us’. When Rey lifted her head in confusion she saw her colleagues solemnly heading to the reception table.

“Rey, we are so sorry,” Tallie started.

“We messed up,” Paige agreed.

“We were shitty coworkers,” Jess stated.

“And even shittier friends,” Rose added.

“Except for Finn, he was a cinnamon roll,” Poe interjected.

“And we are very very sorry. Please, forgive us,” Kaydel finished.

Rey sniffed loudly.

“Oh, sweetie, please, don’t cry.”

She sniffed again. “Sorry, it’s just… you are so… Oh, come here!” She dragged Finn and Rose into a hug. The rest joined them. From the corner of his eye Finn saw Ren storming into reception area and doing a double take at the sight of a group hug. Rey gave him a teary smile. Her husband smiled back.

 

“Congratulations to the freshly minted father!” Poe shouted. Finn stopped rubbing small circles into Rose’s hand to see Mitaka entering the kitchen. The man looked sleep-deprived, very proud and in an extreme need of coffee.

“Congrats, Doph! Best wishes!” His colleagues beamed at him.

“Thank you, guys!” he smiled shyly.

“We missed you,” Paige said with a fond smile.

“The office wasn’t the same without you,” Jess added.

“Why, you didn’t get along with Rey? She is such a sweetheart. I know Ren can be a bit protective of her but…”

Everyone gasped.

“You knew?!” Poe accused.

“Um, it’s not exactly a top secret. Was there any problem?”

“No, not at all!” he replied cheerfully. The rest tried to look as nonchalant as possible. Mitaka looked at them with suspicion.

“Are you sure?”

Poe gave him very wide, very fake smile, “Positive. OK, buddy, it was nice to see you, but I really have to go now, a meeting, you know. See you around.” He quickly disappeared waving his hand.

“Yeah, I think Phasma is looking for me too. Bye, guys,” Jess gingerly followed him.

“Rose, could you help me with that technical problem so that I could finish a report for Hux?” Paige asked, wiggling her brows at her sister.

“What pro…” Rose widened her eyes in sudden understanding. “Oh, yes, the problem. I think I can take a look at it right now. Let’s go.”

“Sorry, babe,” she whispered to Finn leaving him alone with Mitaka. The men locked their eyes.

“I can’t remember them being that enthusiastic about work ever,” the latter observed with no small amount of suspicion.

“Weird, huh?” Finn shrugged, nonchalant. “So, want some coffee?”