To call it relief, this feeling of embracing both of them and being held in return, would be a pale shadow of the truth. It was free-falling with a soft landing, it was the silent air after a furious storm.
Rey dropped her face onto Finn's shoulder and gripped whatever part of Poe her fingers could find, and let tears fall. It was too much, it was far short of being enough.
The humid forest was alive with sound and frantic motion, but theirs was an island of three that everything else flowed around. In the shadow of trees and hulking spacecraft they clung together, and no one said anything; there wasn’t anything to say. One of them was breathing in hot shudders against Rey’s skin, and she realized it was Poe a split second before she felt his mouth on her neck. He dragged his lips down to her shoulder, not quite a kiss, not quite a desperately platonic reassurance.
Rey squeezed her eyes shut and gripped Poe harder, answering even when she didn't understand the question.
When they broke away from each other, no one quite making eye contact, Rey suddenly sensed that their family dynamic was about to shift. It didn’t surprise her; very few things could surprise Rey anymore. They were all on uneven ground now, ends and beginnings all jumbled up.
Finn opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. Rey stood patiently, and Finn finally kissed her forehead and gripped Poe's arm, and after a moment slipped away.
It didn't sting, truly, not even when she watched him stride over to a jubilant group nearby, catch hold of Rose, and yank her forward into a startled kiss. Rose's eyes widened and she flung her arms around Finn's neck. They were both grinning like they'd reached the end of a long race. Rey caught Poe watching them with a faintly conflicted expression.
She realized she was still holding Poe's hand and she squeezed it gently. He turned away from Finn and raised his eyes to hers. With slow, careful movements he wiped tears from her cheeks with his free hand, and she let him. He radiated relief and comfort, his dark eyes intense with so many unspoken things that Rey could perhaps have guessed at, at any time other than this one.
"What happened down there?" he asked, hushed amidst all the riotous emotion around them, the jubilation and mourning.
All of a sudden, as though hit by blaster fire, she saw Ben's face, could feel his mouth on hers and taste salt on her tongue, and the life leaving him as he smiled. Her whole body jerked and the motion dislodged Poe's hand. He stepped back from her, looking uncomfortable.
"I'm sorry, it's," Rey tried, staring up at the thick canopy of trees with wet eyes. "I just. Sorry."
"Hey, it's no problem." He rubbed the back of his neck. "You should go get cleaned up, get some rest."
“You too,” she replied, and he turned away first, leaving her adrift in a sea of people.
At that moment Rey couldn’t stand to hear who else had been lost and who had been saved. Later there would be time for all that. Right now her blood hummed with the Force, Ben’s Force and every Jedi who had come before, and she felt dangerously unbalanced.
Rey’s small quarters were silent and cold. She undressed by the bed, the tatters of her clothes falling in filthy heaps on her feet. If she could have, she would have burned them right there. Her hair was tangled and caught up in its ties, and the strands caught and pulled painfully as she let it down. It would take ages to comb it out, and she didn’t have the patience for that.
She turned on the water in the ‘fresher as hot as she could stand it and stood there watching the dirt and sweat swirl down the drain. Every cut and scrape stung, every muscle ached, and Rey still felt jittery and uneasy in her own skin, wide awake.
Afterward she dried her hair with a towel and left it tangled. She thought for a moment about just cutting it off, but even that seemed too much effort to devote to such a petty thing. Her softest tunic and trousers felt like sandpaper against her skin and she almost ripped them off again.
Rey paced around her small quarters like a caged animal, her hands shaking and her breath coming fast. She couldn’t celebrate, and she couldn’t mourn. The thought of Ben made her press the heels of her hands to her eyes. She needed to breathe, to run, to shake off this energy that trailed darkly in her wake like the afterimage of a bright flash.
"I can do this," Rey whispered to herself as she knelt down and pressed her hands flat to the floor. She visualized the excess Force energy flowing from her body back into the ground, imagined that humming burn washing away from her.
She couldn't let go, and she was afraid.
Before she could rationally decide to do it, Rey was outside her quarters and walking fast for an exit. As soon as she saw a group of pilots in the hall, however, she darted to the side and hid, desperate not to be seen. She rested her forehead against the wall and thought about turning back, then opened her eyes to see that it was Poe’s door she was sheltering against.
She touched his door with her fingertips. She thought about his mouth on her skin. It was the easiest thing in the world to curl her fist and knock, and wait four heartbeats, five, six.
Poe’s door opened and he was standing there still damp from his shower, shirtless, a fresh bandage on his bicep. He looked shocked to see her, and she tried a smile. She wasn’t entirely sure she succeeded.
“Can I come in?”
Rey watched him swallow, watched his hand flex where it rested on the door frame. “Yeah, yes. Yes.” He stood aside for her and she stepped in, breathing the clean scent of him as she passed.
“I can’t rest. Can’t even sit down.”
He shook his head. “Me either.”
Poe’s quarters were tidy and small, as hers were, and she still felt caged here but at least she wasn’t alone. He had the lights on low, and she could just make out small objects on a shelf above his bed: a photograph, a glittering stone, an old patch with the Rebel Alliance insignia on it.
His scent was in the air, the way he’d smelled outside when he had rested his mouth against her neck in a kiss that was not a kiss, like engine grease and sweat. It should have been distasteful but instead it made her blood run hotter, and it made her want to chase him down to see if she could find that scent beneath the standard issue soap he’d bathed with.
“Rey,” he said, and she sucked in a breath at hearing him say her name. “Do you need--”
And that was as far as he got before she was surging against him like a wave and crashing her mouth on his, just shy of painful. He grunted in surprise and kissed her back for a blessed moment before taking her by the shoulders and holding her there while he stepped back. She fought to get back to him and was relieved to see him breathing unevenly, his eyes wide. He was not unaffected by her.
“Please, Poe.” She touched his face, feeling the heat of him, the rough stubble on his cheeks. “I can’t shake it, I can’t. I have too much in me, and I can’t get it out.”
“What is it?” His eyes searched hers and he didn’t move away.
Rey breathed out slowly, trying to control her heartbeat. “The Force.”
He waited for a long moment that stretched between them, palpable in the air. She couldn’t express it any better; there were no words that could sum it up. When he seemed to realize that she wouldn’t be more forthcoming, he stopped trying to hold her back and carefully slid his hand down her arm, and she shuddered at the simple touch.
“I’m sorry to come to you, I just...I have no one else. I need help.” As gently as she was able, she leaned in and brushed her mouth across his. Everything inside her wanted to explode, to disintegrate, to attack, but she also knew that she didn’t want to destroy Poe in the process. “Please,” she whispered against his lips, “please.”
She felt his hand slip through her tangled hair to grip the back of her skull, harder than she had expected and just what she needed. “Okay, sweetheart. You need something, use me.”
Tears came to her eyes, prickling and hot. “I don’t want to use you. I truly don’t.”
Poe shook his head. “I can be that for you. Use me.” He kissed her finally, softly and then hard, pulling her into him with strong, sure hands. Rey felt every part of her body where it touched his, from breast to thigh, every inch on fire.
“You have to tell me if it’s too much,” Rey whispered when his mouth slipped down to taste the junction of her neck and shoulder. It was the same place he’d pressed his mouth when they embraced outside, the not-kiss that had started the whole thing, this permission to see him in a different light, and Rey couldn’t help but quietly moan.
“I can take it,” Poe replied, his voice stubborn and rough in her ear.
Rey huffed a weak laugh. “You don’t even know what I mean yet.”
“Yeah, well, I’m willing to take whatever you can give, sweetheart,” he said, biting her jaw. “You’re worth it. So lay it on me.”
Her hands shook with the energy building in her, and she grabbed Poe’s head and yanked him back up to where she wanted him, sealing her mouth on his and pushing him up against the door. He grunted and slid one hand to the small of her back, pulling her flush against him again so that she could feel how hard he was already.
The Force was nearly vibrating in her, hitting a frequency that made her moan because it hurt, but also went straight to her core as something akin to pleasure. She pulled her mouth away and pressed her forehead to his shoulder, reaching for control.
“Come on,” Poe said, tugging her hair harder. “Give it to me. Let go.”
And it just burst out of her, a shockwave that flowed from her and into him. Poe’s head snapped back and he gritted his teeth, hissing as the energy ran through his body. Rey sensed it flowing down into the ground and dissipating, and both of them sighed in the aftermath.
“Again,” Poe said after a minute, and Rey pulled back to meet his eyes.
He nodded. “I can handle it." His chin was set at a stubborn angle, and his mouth was pursed with resolve.
This time she let it out more slowly, a steady stream of energy, and she held his gaze the whole time. She watched him shudder, his dark eyes heavy lidded, felt his hips twitch against hers. She felt her own heartbeat slowing slightly, and she could breathe a little easier than when she had first come in.
“Still okay?” she asked softly.
Poe licked his lips and gave her a flash of a grin. “That ain’t nothing but a bee sting, sweetheart.”
Rey tried to grin back, relieved she hadn’t hurt him but still feeling so full of the Force that she had trouble finding herself inside it. She kissed him in thanks and he kissed back with the expectation of more, and she wondered how in the universe she could have deserved to find a man like Poe Dameron.
“Come here,” he said, pulling her to the bed. He sat on the edge and looked up at her as he slowly tugged her trousers off, letting them pool around her feet. “Have you done this before?”
She nodded. “A few times. There was another scavenger, for a little while...it doesn’t matter.”
“Of course it matters. I just want to know how slow I need to go.”
Rey smiled and let out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. “How slow should I go with you?”
He lifted her shirt and pressed a kiss to her hip bone. “You can go at whatever speed you need.”
She took a deep breath and stripped the shirt over her head, dropping it to the floor. With tentative fingers Rey touched his hair, ran her fingers through it and back, and his groan was so low it reverberated through her bones. He kissed her again, bit at her hip and soothed it with his tongue. The stubble on his cheeks was rough on her skin and she shifted against him to feel it more. She clenched her thighs together and clutched his head, and he slid two fingers up the seam of her thighs to the damp curls above.
“Yes?” Poe asked, teasing her with his fingertips.
“Yes,” she whispered, trying to open up for him, but the Force was swirling in her again, and her muscles were locked.
“Rey,” he said, and all at once she let go, pushing out the energy as she shifted open, bracing her hands on his shoulders and panting with effort. Poe groaned again, his fingers rocking against her and up into her core, even as the Force flowed through him.
“Does it hurt?” she asked, anxious about it even as she moved with his fingers, which never broke rhythm.
“It...feels like flying at full burn. That moment before pulling up, just before the crash. Like hyperspace skipping."
Rey fought a smile. “So you don’t hate it?”
He looked up at her with an intensity that made her shiver. “Hit me again.”
This time she focused the flow through one fingertip, touching his lower lip and sliding it down his neck to trace across his bare chest. She skirted around the ring on a chain that hung there, feeling its own energy and not wanting to sully something so sacred with this kind of touch. Poe’s fingers jerked inside her and she sank down a little further on them, gasping.
“I can feel it around my fingers,” he said with wonder.
Suddenly she had had enough of slow and gentle. She stepped off his hand and he tried to follow her, but she pushed him back onto the bed and pulled his trousers off, took a moment to appreciate what she saw there, then climbed on top to straddle him. His cock was hot against her skin and his hands were a little unsteady as they skimmed her belly up to her breasts.
“Lean down,” he coaxed, his voice like gravel.
“You lean up,” she countered, and he huffed out a laugh.
“You like it.”
Poe nodded. “I really do.” He sat up and got his mouth on one nipple, suckling lightly and scraping his teeth across it so gently that she curled over him anyway, pushing him flat beneath her. His mouth moved to the space between her breasts, licking a hot trail up that center line from her sternum to her collarbone.
“Poe,” she gasped, “I need, I need…”
“Then take it,” he said, tugging at her hips until she lifted up and sank down on him.
It was like the overwhelming push of the Force made physical, the way he stretched her and filled every part of her she hadn’t known was empty. She cried out loud enough that she should have been embarrassed, but couldn’t spare any emotion to focus on it just then. Poe looked wrecked, his gaze locked on hers and so startled, like he hadn’t truly seen her until now.
“Take it,” he repeated, pushing up into her, and she found her own rhythm, rising up and down like the waves around Ahch-To as she chased her release.
“This might hurt,” she mumbled, struggling to keep her eyes open. She shifted her angle and moaned, the Force crackling through her fingertips where they braced on his chest.
“I don’t care, Rey. It’s you, that’s all that matters to me. You’re all that’s ever mattered.”
Shocked, she stared at him, eyes wide with comprehension even as the energy turned heavy and blunt, slamming out of her core and into him, harder than ever before. It was a wall of water, the tangible heat of a desert sun, the pure silence before roaring sound.
Poe gritted his teeth as his body arched high enough to lift her, and he came just after she did, spreading heat inside her as she pulsed around him, an ebb and flow.
Rey collapsed on him like a rag doll as the overwhelming energy subsided to the soft undercurrent she was used to. She was still aware of all those Jedi who had come before, still connected to them, and she could still feel Ben. It wasn’t unwanted, but it had no place there with Poe breathing hard beneath her. She shuddered and pushed it down. She could mourn later for all that had been lost.
She slipped off of Poe and curved her body to fit his, head on his shoulder and hand on his sternum. “Did I break you?”
He laughed shakily. “It would take more than that to make a dent in me, sweetheart.”
After a moment she pressed her fingers a little harder into his skin. “You make a good conduit.”
“I live to serve.”
She raised her head and looked Poe in the eye. “Do you really?”
His face was solemn. “For as long as you need me.”
Rey bit her lip and gathered her courage. “What if I said I might need you for a long time?”
“Then I’d say...I’m not going anywhere.”
She stroked his chest, carefully skipping around the ring on the chain, then put her head down on his shoulder again. Blindly her fingers followed the line of his throat up to his mouth, and touched his lips. “Can you still feel it?”
He shook his head. “I just feel you.” He tightened his arm around her, stroking her hair with his other hand, and kissed the top of her head.
She stared off into the dark corner of his quarters, counting his heartbeats. “I died today.”
Poe's hand stilled for a long minute. After a while he resumed carding his fingers through her tangled hair. “Well, I’m glad it didn’t stick.”
Rey nodded, wanting to cry but having no more tears. Here in this small, darkened room, she felt safe enough to let her muscles finally relax. The ache in them was enough to ground her, and her utter exhaustion made her eyelids heavy.
“Stay here,” Poe whispered.
“I will,” she replied, touching his throat to feel his pulse, regulating her own breathing to match his. “I will.”