Finn wakes up two days later, the Resistance doctors tell him, with stitches on his back sealing up his lightsaber wound and covered in the grit of D’Qar.
As he learns, the grit of D’Qar never really comes off.
They instruct him to bed rest for another few days due to his concussion.
“You’re lucky you didn’t die,” one of the nurses tells him as they rub betadine over Finn’s wounds and replace his bandages. Finn only nods, feeling dizzy in his teeth where the codeine kicked in.
He wants to say, I’ve never been restricted to bedrest before. Then again, Finn had never been in a battle before Jakku. He had never been in a real fight before facing off against Kylo Ren. He had never felt the weight and the consequences of coming out the most important moment of his life a loser, before now.
So he sits listlessly and doesn’t react as the nurse replaces bandages from his left shoulder to base of spine. Finn can feel the stitches whenever he stretches, always underneath the pills they give him to numb everything. He can feel his entire back pulling when he turns from side to side.
Finn rests the majority of the next two days, watching as the doctors tend to those fresh from the X-Wings, babbling nonstop about taking down the Starkiller while being healed, with lost limbs and debris lodged in their legs. Finn watches, silent, as a girl not older than fifteen sits on a cot, staring blankly at the other side of the tent, as the doctor carefully extracts a metal sheet sticking out from her shoulder blade like a ledge.
They tell her she won’t be able to use her arm again, that all the nerves were severed beyond repair.
The girl nods, drawing the remnants of her bloodied pilot uniform around her and tensing her shoulder so that the listless arm swings. “That’s fine,” she says flatly. “I’ll learn to be left-handed.”
Finn watches as she leaves, declining offers to bring her a sling and wheelchair.
He wonders where her parents are and why she fought this war, but then again, no one here has ever had any parents to speak of.
After the second day in the hospital tent, a tired humanoid releases him back to the barracks. “As long as you come back to clean the wound every day,” he tells Finn, and then juts his chin to the outside.
Finn spends the next four hours in a small lake nearby. Even with lowkey back pain, he hikes through the woods, marvelling at the fresh greenery and the small woodland animals completely uninterested in him. The squirrels fidget on the ground, hoarding nuts and sticks for any oncoming winter, and the birds chirp to one another, resting their wings on branches. All are utterly relaxed.
He sits by the lake, boots off and bare feet soaking in the water. There’s still sand underneath his fingernails and in the crooks of his eyes, but Jakku is mostly a distant memory.
When the sun sets, Finn walks back to the general barracks, gingerly stepping on uneven ground so as to not move his back in any way that triggers pain. The codeine wore off sometime between daydreaming about his parents and how to live like a hermit in this wilderness.
When he arrives at the barracks, he realizes that no one has assigned him a room. The Resistance’s version of an information desk is closed, so Finn asks a passing marksman (complete with the sniper rifle slung over her shoulder) where Poe Dameron’s room is.
The marksman looks him up and down and chuckles. “Just his type,” she muses. “Take your first right at the end of the hallway, and it’s three flights up the staircase at the end. 18B. Good luck,” she smirks.
Finn thinks faintly in his dehydrated-relieved-shocked stage that the marksman may have the wrong idea about him and Poe.
Then he admits to himself that he’s still wearing Poe Dameron’s jacket, which fits surprisingly nicely over his broad shoulders. That must be indicative of something.
When Finn knocks on Poe’s door, the orange sun is still setting in the clouds, dipping down and dragging the light with it. As Finn waits for Poe to answer, he stares out the window into the wilderness beyond.
If Finn had grown up planetside, not being bred to serve and kill on a chrome spaceship orbiting different galaxies every week — if he had been able to call any one place ‘home’ —
Poe opens his door an inch, and, recognizing who it is, quickly closes it again. There is a sound of a lock unlatching, and Poe opens the entire door.
“Finn,” he grins. “You’re up and walking!”
“Hey,” Finn says cautiously. “I was dismissed from the hospital, but no one gave me a room. Can I stay with you, just for tonight?”
“Sure.” Poe opens the door wide open, and gestures Finn in. “Always ready to help the hero of the Resistance, the key to thwarting the First Order and saving all our asses.”
“That was Rey,” Finn protests. “I am just the person who took the first hit and was out of the game five minutes in.”
“You saved all our lives!” Poe waves the self-deprecating insult off, and gestures to the small room. “Welcome to my humble abode. You can take the bed.”
In one corner, and occupying half the room’s space, a hammock is strung up between the two walls, and folded clothes are stacked underneath and around it. The other space in the room houses a fold-up chair, dry Ramen on the floor, an unassembled blaster, and a large paperback book, the bookmark stuck halfway through it.
“No,” protests Finn, “you take the bed. It’s your bed.”
“You’re injured,” Poe says, as if that’s the deciding vote. “You obviously take the bed. I can sleep on the floor for one night, it’s not like I haven’t before.”
Poe shakes his head. “Don’t mention it. You saved my life, you can take my bed.”
Finn swallows at the simple statement, because it’s possible to read so much into that statement. But, as Poe obviously will want nothing to do with a broken ex-Stormtrooper with a debilitating injury, he’s deliberately not reading into it. For all Poe’s smiles and quick wit, there’s no way he would ever deign to consider someone as broken and patched-up as FN-2187.
Later, when he’s drifting off to sleep on his stomach, watching the ground through the threaded mesh of the hammock as he sways slightly to the breeze of an open window, Finn listens to the soft sounds of Poe snoring in his sleep.
He sneaks a glance at the man on the floor, sleeping with a pile of dirty laundry serving as a pillow, curled around no blanket or mattress.
Not that the weather makes either of those necessary.
Poe looks so unlike the man he took from a First Order cell to freedom. That Poe a week ago was wide-eyed, with curled defiance and nerves that shook to the forefront. That Poe Finn had known for an hour or two at most, but in that little time he had been given his name and a purpose.
That Poe had died in the sinking sand with the TIE Fighter. This Poe was only the haunted eyes Finn had caught the glance of in the fleeting touches between them before the battle, and this moment right now defines this Poe’s character more than anything.
Poe neither looks serene nor haunted in his sleep, and he does not look like a soldier in his sleep. He does not look like a former prisoner of war in his sleep.
Finn listens to Poe’s soft snores and fades to sleep without nightmares, the first time in forever.
Finn’s internal clock wakes him up at 0530, Standard Time, and when he bolts up, expecting to be accompanied by the other groans of Troopers in varying stages of exhaustion, he hears nothing but Poe Dameron’s soft breaths in the early morning air.
The hammock swings side to side, creaking slightly, and Finn turns to Poe, sleeping on the floor.
The man is now half-covered in the clothes he used to make his pillow, and he’s completely asleep, hair scrunched on the side of his face in his dreams.
Finn watches as Poe coughs, mumbles something, and rolls over, so that his back is facing Finn.
The very presence of Poe in this room gives Finn a sense of safety, which Finn relishes. He first felt safe when he jumped into that TIE Fighter with the same man, so long ago. The same man is currently sleeping like he has all the time in the galaxy to rest.
He welcomed Finn with open arms into his room, without even the slightest hesitation. He doesn’t fear that Finn will revert to his programming, that his alliance with the Resistance will be rended. Poe doesn’t fear what Finn fears about himself — that Finn’s feelings and memories will die when his conditioning kicks back in, and he will become his worst enemy.
Apparently the Resistance doesn’t keep a military schedule, Finn thinks as he closes his eyes again and doesn’t think about the past.
Later in the morning, Finn wakes up to the change in noise in the room. Poe’s snores have been replaced by a shuffle of clothing, and when he blearily opens his eyes and looks over, Poe is changing out of his shirt.
Finn keeps quiet and still as Poe tosses his shirt into the pile of dirty laundry underneath him. He’s facing away from Finn, who cannot soak in his appearance enough. The man’s matted curly hair sticks to a prominent spinal cord, stretching all the way down into the waistband of his sweats, and the top of his boxers peek out of the grey material, bright orange.
Finn swallows at the outline of Poe’s ass, the prominent ribs poking out of his sternum, the scars of blaster fire and bullets that pepper his back. Poe’s small scars, reminders of the fights he’s won, are nothing like the pain Finn has to carry around with him now, forever.
Poe bends over to pick from a pile of his clean shirts, folded haphazardly in the corner, some still in a small suitcase. Finn can’t help himself looking as the sweatpants inch down over Poe’s ass, and between the open skin and the shiny, enticing boxers, there’s a small tattoo over his left cheek, like a tramp stamp.
Finn can’t make out what it is before Poe stands back up, quickly donning a soft blue sweatshirt, the sleeves of which cover his hands and drape, too large, over his shoulders. Finn doesn’t know if the clothing choice is intentionally the farthest thing from the pilot uniform, which is incidentally an entirely different shade of orange than Poe’s boxers. Finn doesn’t know if Poe just chose the sweatshirt because the fabric is as soft as it looks.
“Do you want your jacket back?” Finn asks. He has a brain filter, and it’s saved his life several times to date, but he’s completely forgotten it.
Poe turns around, a wide, surprised smile on his face. Is that a blush on his cheeks? Finn can’t quite make it out in the sparse light from the open window. “Nah, keep it. As you can see, I have more clothes,” Poe says, voice noticeably higher than before. He looks at how the jacket is currently wrapped over Finn’s body like a blanket, over the under-armour he’s worn for too many days to count.
“I guess you’re awake.”
Finn’s gaze flickers to about level with where Poe’s tattoo would be, if Poe turned around, and says, “I guess I am.”
“Mess hall’s open,” Poe shrugs, sticking his hands into his pockets and shrugging. “If you want to join me.”
Finn rolls out of his hammock, standing up hurriedly. He looks Poe in the eyes, and he’s taller than the other man.
What a concept.
The mess hall is a fancy word for temporary benches set up next to a cooler of protein packets, which, in Finn’s humble opinion, are the grossest food known to the galaxy.
“They’re not even good enough to qualify as food,” he jokes to Poe as he opens the wrapping of his bar. “They’re nutrients.”
Poe scowls at his own with equal passion, a hilarious expression on one so obviously tired, and stands up, pocketing the nutrients. “That’s it. We’re getting out the liquor.”
Finn says, “Oh hell yes.”
The liquor cabinet of the Resistance is housed in the pharmacy, next to the locked-away prescription drugs.
“No one here would ever just break in to get drunk and have a good time,” Poe tells him as he takes a lockpick set out of his pocket and bends down, eye level with the pharmacy’s doorknob.
Finn takes a step back, because Poe’s crouching down right in front of him, and there’s a gap between the sweatshirt and the pants and Finn might be able to make out Poe’s tattoo, but he’s also not too keen on Poe unwittingly pressing his ass up against him.
Poe continues, unaware of Finn’s internal struggle, “We’re not all military, but we are all completely devoted to taking down the First Order. No one’s about to get drunk on duty, so no one checks to see if there’s any of the fun stuff missing.”
“So we’re not breaking the rules,” Finn clarifies. “Because not drinking was never specified in the rulebook? Is that even a thing?”
The lock clicks, and Poe opens the door, grinning. “To be honest, I never read the rulebook. After you.”
It’s not even noon, and Finn and Poe are seriously drunk in the forest, probably not too far from the base. Finn hopes, at least.
“Look,” he giggles to Poe, almost falling off the log he found to sit on. “I’ve never drank too much before, so if I say anything weird, discount it, please.”
Poe, who is comparatively much more composed, nods with a straight face.
“What?” Finn protests. “Do I sound weird? Do I have something on my face?”
Poe bursts out laughing. “You’re so happy,” he slurs, and maybe Poe is just pretending to be sober, because Finn has never seen him this happy, either. “God, we have to get drunk more often.”
He raises a fist to Finn, who fistbumps him. “Deal,” Finn promises, falling off the log.
There’s a twinge in his back, suddenly, and Finn stills.
“What? What is it?” Poe asks, now also on the damp grass, face a mixture of excitement and delayed concern.
“My meds wore off. Shit. My back feels like it’s going to split apart again.” Finn grabs onto Poe’s arms blindly, the transformation out of meds happening rapidly.
“Roll around. I need to see if your back’s fine,” Poe says, and Finn clamps his jaw over a groan of pain as he rolls around to the other side, eyes closed, breathing heavy.
There’s a low level of pain when Finn lies completely still, but when moving, it’s not pretty.
Finn feels Poe tug his shirt up over his head, and lets himself be partially undressed, until he’s lying, drunk and half naked, on the ground. Poe gently removes the bandage from his back.
Finn knows Poe can see his scar, the perpetual reminder that he failed. Poe traces a shaky hand over the skin beside the wide wound, and the pull on the stitches makes Finn wince.
Poe’s hands, surprisingly cold, move down his side next to the wound, ever gentle, and Finn takes in a deep, ragged breath of despair and alcohol. This is when Poe will tell him — you’re too broken, you’re too weak, why the fuck would I ever want to see you again. Phasma would have already demoted him back to Sanitation due to a debilitation like this. Poe is just — being nice about it.
“Shit,” Poe says, almost impressed. “Nice memento you got saving the galaxy.”
Finn closes his eyes again, because if he keeps them open he’s going to cry. After the brief stint with the lightsaber, he could do nothing but lie on the ground in pain before he blacked out. The last thought through Finn’s mind had been I failed the Resistance.
“I didn’t save the galaxy,” he says. “I just stood in the way of Kylo Ren’s wrath until Rey could.”
And Rey opens up another bottle of liquored emotions. “And Rey — she left,” Finn hisses. “I didn’t leave because of her, I stayed and fought, and she went to find a fucking myth while I was unconscious.”
Finn breathes, tearless, hands shaking and back in pain.
He feels clammy arms encircle his stomach, as if in comfort. Behind him, Poe says, “That’s fucking tough. Need any help about it?”
“What do you mean?”
“Someone to talk to, someone to badger General Organa with to get a message sent to the Falcon, and so on,” Poe grins.
“If I sent a message, what would I say? ‘Why did you leave? I thought we had something here?’” Finn laughs. “That won’t go over well.”
“Well, at least you would try,” Poe shrugs.
After Finn drinks way too much water to sober himself up and visits the makeshift hospital for some more pain meds, Poe takes him to the now-infamous front desk.
“It’s less like an information desk and more like the intern on duty’s worst nightmare. Hey, Mal!” Poe grins as they approach the young woman in a fold-out chair in the corner of the room. Poe and Finn are discreetly clutching onto each other to keep themselves upright and appearing sober.
The woman looks at them with a scowl.
“Fuck off, Poe,” she says without missing a beat.
“That’s not very nice of you,” Poe says, continuing the banter with an easy smile. He juts his head at Finn, who gives her a perfunctory grin. The meds haven’t quite kicked in yet.
“What do you want?”
“My friend here, Finn, needs a room,” Poe says.
“You’re out of luck. The rooms filled up last week. We’re doubling up now.”
“Awesome,” Finn groans. Being assigned to a room with a complete stranger is just his idea of fun.
Mal studies Poe. “You don’t currently have a roommate. Why not?”
Poe giggles. “Everyone assigned to me complained about being, ah, locked out very often at night and all got themselves reassigned. Why do you ask?”
“Your friend Finn can stay with you, then,” she says, and quirks her eyebrow. “You two look completely fine with that.”
Finn realizes that pulling at Poe’s shoulders to stay standing may be interpreted as something else. Something else he definitely wants, but something that there is no way Poe will give him.
“Awesome,” Poe says, giving her a thumbs up. He looks genuinely happy about the arrangement, though, or maybe he’s still drunk. “Thanks, Mal! You’re the best.”
This night is very different than the one before it, because as Finn and Poe slowly walk up the stairs to Poe’s — their — room, Poe clutches a half-empty bottle of scotch, hidden beneath the draping sleeves of his sweatshirt, and Finn rests his head on Poe’s shoulder.
Poe opens the door and they both stumble in, and Finn gingerly sits on the floor so his back doesn’t twinge, even on the meds. Poe sits next to him, taking a swig of the scotch.
“Is it still surreal to you?” Poe asks. “That we won?”
“Absolutely,” Finn murmurs. “I still can’t believe I’m alive.”
They sit in silence, resting against the hammock, and Finn adjusts Poe’s jacket around him to account for the newfound breeze.
He’s acutely aware of Poe sprawled next to him, hand listlessly brushing Finn’s. Maybe — maybe Poe’s hand would be as cold as it was earlier today. Maybe all the signs given to Finn by everyone he meets means that he should reach out and grab Poe’s hand.
Maybe Fate means for something to happen in this moment, shoulder to shoulder with the man who saved Finn’s life.
Finn can’t bring himself to make the move with the alcohol sticking in his chest and throat, watching Poe’s face as he breathes.
The bottle of scotch clunks on the floor, empty, and Poe turns to face Finn. “Fuck this,” Poe says, and reaches in with cold fingertips to pull the back of Finn’s head towards him, until they meet in a kiss.
Finn kisses back, overwhelmingly happy as Poe’s moan is lost in the moment, as Finn opens his mouth for Poe to explore. Poe moves, languid and easy, until he’s crouched over Finn’s almost-supine form, hands still buried in Finn’s short hair, focused on kissing into his mouth, slowly easing his back onto the floor.
“You really want this?” Finn says as soon as Poe sits back on top of him.
“Have you seen yourself?” Poe grins, leaning down to suck a bruise onto the side of Finn’s neck. Finn stifles a groan, and instead cups his hands around Poe’s surprisingly skinny waist.
“But you’re so hot,” Finn says, like it’s the most obvious fact in the galaxy.
“And you’re so hot,” Poe mimics. “Hey, you know you’re going to be okay, right?”
“Even with — your back, and Rey leaving, and any residual shit affecting you from being a Stormtrooper — you’re going to be fine.” Poe backs up and looks at Finn between his hands with all the determination of liquid courage.
“Right,” Finn says, because he’ll say whatever Poe wants him to say, as long as he gets back to sucking his neck. “I’ll be fine. And you’ll be fine, too.”
“I’m already peachy,” Poe grins, leaning back on top of Finn. “But thanks for clarifying.”
“Hey,” Finn says, because this is a thing he really wants to do. “Can I ask you something?”
“Go ahead,” grins Poe.
Finn squeezes Poe’s ass through his sweatpants. “Can I see your tattoo?”
Poe just blushes and grins.