Somewhere in Bavaria
The rain had just began when Poe stepped outside, but it was heavy enough that his uniform was mostly soaked through by the time he found the right barracks. He forgot his discomfort, however, when he saw the small room was empty except for the very person he was hoping to find. “Flight Lieutenant Armitage Hux?”
“You.” The man glanced up from his book with a neutral expression that Poe assumed was hiding more uncharitable feelings. Still, he didn't miss that Hux had his eyes on the carafe that Poe sat carefully on the rough wood tabletop.
“Me," Poe agreed. "Did I get it right this time?”
“Nice to meet you. Captain Poe Dameron, U.S. Army Air Forces, at your service.” The American smiled and extended his hand out toward Hux.
The young redheaded Brit looked at him for a moment before standing up. He frowned as he took Poe's offered hand. "You do know you introduced yourself yesterday?"
"Well, yes, but I called you 'Lieutenant' and you didn't look very impressed. Now I know why. We're of equivalent ranks, huh?"
"I don't know why I was surprised. It's not as if our countries are allies."
"Ha! You're funny. The guys seemed to imply you didn't have a sense of humor. Guess they were wrong."
The Brit made a non-committal sound and drew his eyes back to his book.
"I just thought maybe we could be allies."
"We already established that-"
"I mean, you and me."
"Captain Dameron, we don't even know one another and this is a prison camp, not a holiday resort. I'm not looking to make acquaintances."
"Especially not with an obnoxious Yank?" Poe said with a laugh as he took a seat on the bench opposite Hux so they were sitting face to face. "Look, we're both outsiders in a way, aren't we? We could help each other out."
This got the other man's attention. "You're an outsider to the other Americans? But why?"
"You really don't know?" Poe asked, but Flight Lieutenant Hux just stared at him blankly. "Well, it doesn't matter then." He reached for the carafe. "Here I brought-"
"Is it tea?"
"No, it's coffee." Poe stifled a laugh at Hux's sour expression. "Okay, I'll try to get my hands on some tea before I come again."
"See? I brought tea this time."
Hux narrowed his eyes as he sipped the liquid Poe had poured into the tin cup.
"Next time, I promise."
"...and that's when the general said I was the only one who might manage to complete the mission, so I pretty much had to agree even though it was incredibly dangerous and would have to be kept off the official record." Poe was stretched out on Hux's bunk while the other man was at his usual place at the rickety table.
Hux rolled his eyes as he poured milk from a small tin into his tea. "Fascinating."
"Isn't it? Anyway, I can't tell you much, but it was a lot of fun. In hindsight, anyway. At the time it was terrifying and I was sure we were all going to die. Would you believe the plan involved a brand new airplane and a Nazi-sympathizing aristocrat? An Englishman like you, by the way."
Hux sat down his book to scowl at him directly, a rare occurrence. "I don't believe even a tenth of what you say at any given moment."
"That's probably for the best seeing as it's all classified."
"Of course it is."
Poe let his head fall back on the bundled up blanket Hux apparently used as a pillow. "Well, it's not easy being the best fighter pilot in the European theater. Everyone wants you for something."
That earned an actual laugh from the other prisoner. "Oh yes, despite the fact that you were shot down and captured?"
"Sure, because I wasn't, not really. I'm stationed here to be a point of contact behind enemy lines." Poe shrugged. "And to do some sabotage when I can."
Hux looked incensed. "Oh really now, Captain Dameron, of all the truly fantastic things you've uttered since we've met that has to be the-"
"I don't care if you believe me or not, Armitage. Meanwhile, I'm just trying to enjoy my time at this beautifully resort with my lovely English companion-"
Poe ducked just in time to miss being struck by the cup that was hurled at him.
"Dameron, I need a new cup. This one is dented to the point of being unusable."
"You're the one who threw it like you were trying out for the Major League!"
It was cold even inside so Poe bundled his jacket around himself as he leaned over the table and rested his head on his forearms. "Sir Brendol Hux of Arkanis Hall." He kept his voice low because several of Hux's barracks-mates were asleep in their bunks.
Hux, who had been rereading a letter he'd received before he was captured, looked up with surprise. "What about him?"
"That's your father, right?"
"Yes." Hux folded the letter and tucked it back inside his jacket.
"Why'd you never say?"
"You never asked."
"Mason told me. He said I should've known you were upper-crust by the way you talk, but all you Brits sound the same to me."
"I," Hux said, his lips forming a thin line, "sound nothing like Corporal Mason."
"If you say so. Is that why you didn't want to associate with me? Because I'm just an nobody from California and someday you'll have a title and a castle and all that?" Poe said, trying to keep the hurt out of his voice.
"It's a country estate, not a castle." Hux sighed. "And no, I will not inherit the estate nor the title."
"I don't understand. You told me you're an only child."
Hux nodded and glanced down. "I am, but my father's heir is a second cousin of his from York."
"Now I really don't understand."
"Fine, if you insist I spell it out for you." Hux eyes met Poe's again, but they were filled with bitterness. "Sir Brendol married Lady Maratelle, the daughter of an earl. She, however, failed to give him any heirs."
"My mother worked at Arkanis as a kitchen maid. After she fell pregnant, she left and moved in with her sister in London. When my father realized he wasn't likely to have any legitimate children, he forced her to give me up. I was not quite five years old. Officially, I was said to be a distant relative and his ward, though I doubt that fooled anyone. I cried myself to sleep every night until he managed to beat that out of me."
"I don't need your pity, Dameron."
"Then you don't have it. Just my friendship."
Hux turned his face toward the wall. "It's almost lights out, you should go."
"Do you ever think about going dancing?" Poe asked as he looked down at the picture in his hands. It was a line drawing of a couple dancing in front of a stylized depiction of Parisian landmarks that had been torn from an old magazine.
Hux gave him what Poe had by then determined was a classic Hux expression. "No, I can't say that I do."
"I miss it sometimes. Do you even like to dance? I'm sure you must know how."
"It's mildly amusing on occasion, I suppose."
Poe leaned closer. "Do you ever think about- Stop, said the rational part of his brain. "Do you ever think about dancing with- Stop or you'll ruin everything.
"What? I didn't quite get that." When the American didn't answer, Hux sighed and set down the small notebook he often wrote in (poetry, he'd confided once, but he refused to show any of it to Poe). "What is it you're saying?"
"Never mind, let's talk about baseball. What's your favorite team?"
"Has anyone ever told you you're a terrible conversationalist?"
One evening, Poe showed up at the door with a couple small paper packets and a wary glance around the room. "Anyone else here?" He asked when Hux came up to greet him.
"No, they're all off playing cards. I'd say we have until evening roll call."
"Good." He hands Hux the packets. "Here, you can make some tea and I brought some spare cigarettes. Sorry there's no milk, Sergeant Mueller couldn't-"
Hux glanced up to give him a withering look. "Please don't say any more. I'd prefer to know as little as possible about your shady black market dealings."
"But you're willing to benefit from them?" Poe asked with a laugh.
Poe sat down on the bench next to Hux. "Right. Anyway, we need to talk and I want you to be straight with me."
"You Americans and your absurd need for directness. What is this about?"
"You've heard there's a spy in here with us? Feeding information to the Krauts."
Hux nodded. "I've heard the rumors, yes."
"They're true." Poe took a deep breath. "And your people think it's you. Why on Earth do they think it's you?"
"Ah, well." Hux blinked. "That's because of the family connection, I suppose."
"Family? Your father?" Poe frowned. "You mean he's sympathetic to-"
"No, not my father. My mother."
"Your mother? The one who worked in the kitchen?"
"Yes, her family emigrated before the Great War. So I suppose people could reasonably assume my loyalties might be to the Fatherland." He added bitterly, before staring the American pilot in the eyes. "Is that what you think, Poe?"
"No! That's ridiculous. How could anyone think that? I mean, you hate German food."
"Oh, brilliant." Hux laughed. "Maybe you are military intelligence after all."
Poe tapped his fingers on the table. "This just means we have to find the real spy as soon as possible."
Poe was seated on the floor near his bunk working on a letter to his father when the door to his barracks burst open."Dameron! There you are. I've been looking everywhere!" Hux exclaimed before realizing that there were two men sitting at the table. They gaped at him as his face turned beet red. "That is, could I have a word, Captain? Outside?"
Hux forced him to walk all the way to empty mess hall and they huddled behind it. "You better have a good reason for this. It's freezing." Poe said, shoving his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket.
"It's the spy. I know who he is." Hux's face was flushed from the cold, but his eyes were brighter than Dameron ever remembered seeing them. Behind him, something shimmered in the air. Snow. It was starting to snow.
"What, are you sure?"
"Yes, and I have proof. It's Sergeant Larsen."
Poe started in surprise. "The American? From, uh, Iowa, I think?"
"That's only what they want you to think. I told you, I can prove it. I'll tell you everything once it's safe to talk in my barracks."
"All right, I assume we're the only ones who know?" At Hux's nod, he continued. "So then what do we do?" He asked as he lit a cigarette, took a drag and passed it to Hux.
"Why Captain Dameron, we take him down."
Poe met the other man's eyes for a moment and then nodded slowly. He accepted the cigarette back and smiled. "Yeah, we take him down."
Late winter 1945
It was just after mid-day and the weather was fairly mild, so most of the camp's inhabitants were occupied by various activities, but Poe found Hux curled up in his bunk, facing the wall. "Buddy? Hey, are you okay? Are you sick?" Hux grumbled something unintelligible and buried his head further into his blanket. "If you are, we can get you medicine. The best I can get, I promise. The doc owes me one." He tried to keep the worry from his voice. Again, the response were muffled. "What was that?"
"I said," Hux said, finally emerging from his cocoon. "Stop spouting nonsense. I'm not sick."
Poe could only stare. "You- Um, what-"
"If you've lost the ability to speak coherently, I suggest you leave."
"Armitage, you have a black eye."
"I'm well aware."
Poe sat down on the edge of the bed. "But we caught Larsen! Surely, no one still thinks-"
"Then what happened?"
Hux slumped back down on the bunk and turned his face toward the wall. "They can't- they can't just say something like that. Not without consequences."
Slowly, it dawned on him. "Wait Hux, was this about me?"
"It's not appropriate and-" He was sitting up again, cheeks pink and eyes slightly bugged out. "And it's conduct unbecoming."
"Hux-" But the other man was on a roll.
"They think they're superior because of their color, of all things, but those- those morons aren't superior to anything! To mud, even." Hux glared at him. "We're supposed to be comrades, in this together, not treating each other as badly as-" He stopped. "Why are you laughing?"
Poe pulled himself up onto the bed so that they each sat on opposite ends facing each other. "Because," he said, grinning. "All this time, I thought you were just using me to get tea and smokes." A wadded up uniform jacket sailed toward his face, and this time he wasn't fast enough to dodge it.
"What makes you think I'm not?"
Early autumn 1945
It was raining when Poe left his hotel, but it was more of a drizzle. He still hadn't got used to wearing a dress uniform again, but he wasn't entirely discouraged by what he saw when he caught a glimpse of his reflection in a shop window. He had been relieved that the address he got for Hux was another hotel. That felt less intimidating, somehow, and yet he was terrified it would no longer be accurate.
The receptionist nodded at him. "Oh yes, Squadron Leader Hux is a guest here. However, he went out this morning and hasn't returned. Would you like to leave a message?"
"Uh, no, that's all right. I'll come back." He'd come back as many times as it took, he promised himself, but he only made it as far as the hotel entrance when someone walking the other direction grabbed his shoulder.
He felt his heart leap. "Me."
Hux's hotel room didn't have much of a view, but to Poe everything was suddenly magnified and beautiful. "You know, I do know somewhere where we could."
The other man was standing at the sink in a dressing gown, slicking back his hair. "Where we could what?"
"Go dancing. Here in London, I mean."
"Poe! That's not safe."
"We survived years of war and months in a prison camp and you're worried about being safe?"
The man at the mirror said something that sounded a lot like "hmph."
"Well, fair enough. If you want to be safe, we can be safe. We can go anywhere you want. We can do anything."
Hux turned to him then, eyes bright once again like they had been that one snowy evening in the camp. "Yes, I rather think we can."
"And then one time, he had me risk my life for some milk for his tea. Despite the fact that I was on thin ice with the commandant already. Um, that was like the warden, the German officer in charge of the prison camp." Poe leaned back in his chair, wrapped his blanket around himself and grinned at the two children sitting on beanbags.
"Really?" The older child, a curly-haired girl in her early teens, asked.
"Yes, really, and I managed too. But I could only get a tiny little can of milk and when I gave it to him he said, 'Is that all?'"
The subject of the tale slammed down the book he was reading on the coffee table. "Poe, if you really must tell war stories to your godson's impressionable young offspring, I'd really prefer if you told them something other than that."
"Why don't you tell us a story?" The girl's little brother asked.
Hux removed his reading glasses and nodded slowly. "Well, there's an idea. I do have several good ones."
"Maybe you're right, Armitage. It's not appropriate-"
"Oh no, Dameron, you started this."
Poe sighed. "Yes, I started it the day I walked into that barracks in 1944 and I've regretted it ever since."
Hux just smiled his cat-like smile that age hadn't managed to alter much at all. "Liar."
"Uncle Armitage, did Grandpa Poe really sneak out of the prison and blow up a train?"
"Of course not. However, something that really did happen was-"
"Uh children, maybe you should see if your parents need help with lunch?"