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Training Grounds

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*****

“You need something to do while we’re grounded," General Organa says. "And so does Finn. Get him out, get him active; whatever you want to do with him." A smile just short of teasing flickers across her lips.

Poe sneaks a sidelong glance at her for that, wondering if she's guessed, or, more likely, sensed his attraction to Finn. He has never figured out for certain how strong the Force is with her; there have been times when she knew this or that missing squadron pilot would come home safely, or gotten them all out of a tight spot just before the hammer would have dropped. But until now it's been easy to explain it away as the skill of a born and bred leader. Until now, because General Organa is ordering—no, asking—Poe to deliver proof that Finn is Force-sensitive.

He'll do it, of course; anything for the General. And, he admits privately, anything to get time with Finn now that he's out of the medbay. But he still straightens his spine and asks, directly, because she has never liked it when he or anyone else prevaricates, even around questions she doesn’t want to hear, "Why not you, ma'am?"

"I'm busy, Commander," she says, stressing his rank lightly, and gives him a stern look that holds for only a heartbeat before dropping. "And he trusts you more than anyone else besides Rey."

She does not say, and I'm the mother of the man who nearly killed him, but Poe reads it in her eyes. He, of course, still adores her, despite Kylo Ren's attempts to shred those feelings into dust during his time on the Finalizer. But it's an adoration long tempered by the reality of the things she has done—and the things he has done on her orders. 

So he only says, "I'll let you know what I find out, General," and goes off in search of Finn.

He finds Finn sitting under a wing of Black One, skimming through a datapad with BB-8 at his side. It's a sight Poe files away as another happy new memory, free from the dark side taint of confusion and hatred and pain that Kylo Ren did his best to cloud all his other memories with.

“Hey,” Poe says, strolling over. BB-8 swivels its head up and beeps a greeting. Finn starts to push to his feet—“No, no, don’t get up,” Poe says, sitting down cross-legged beside him. “What are you and BB-8 up to?”

“I’m under orders to take a break,” Finn says. He holds up his datapad and grins. “I thought I’d start learning Binary.”

“That’s great!” Poe says. BB-8 echoes the sentiment with a cheerful chirp. “I can’t believe it wasn’t part of your training before.”

Finn shrugs. “Stormtroopers didn’t need to know what probe droids or interrogation droids found out. And maintenance droids weren’t exactly chatty.”

“Not like this one here,” Poe says, smiling affectionately at BB-8, who swivels its head back and forth between him and Finn.

“Exactly,” Finn says. “I got tired of asking ‘what did he say?’ all the time.” He groans, then, and stretches his arms over his head. “I think I’ve been sitting on the ground too long,” he mutters, twisting his upper body from side to side.

“How long have you been out here?” Poe asks, pleased that this is where Finn chose to go on his break.

“Since after breakfast,” Finn replies.

“That’s hours ago! No wonder you’re stiff,” Poe says. He resists the temptation to reach over and rub Finn’s shoulders. “I know, let’s go do something else.”

“Like what?”

“Like . . .” Poe thinks quickly—Finn doesn’t do ‘breaks’ the way the Resistance does; every moment is an opportunity to learn or train or—“That’s it,” he says, out loud. “Tell me about your combat training.”

Finn frowns. “There’s not a lot to tell,” he says. “A lot of running, exercise routines, hand-to-hand combat, blaster practice, training simulations . . . it must be like Resistance fighter training for ground troops, right?”

“Maybe,” Poe says. “I know, why don’t you show me what you’ve got?” He gets up and leans down to pull Finn to his feet.

Finn takes Poe’s hand and starts to stand, but eyes him warily. “I just got out of medbay, remember?”

“Come on,” Poe says encouragingly. “It’ll be just the thing to get you back in the game.”

“What game?” Finn asks. “We’re waiting on Rey and Luke Skywalker to return. There’s no game.”

Poe smiles. “Indulge me, would you?” BB-8 chirps something like You can do it!

Finn shoots BB-8 an amused glare. Poe smirks—the man’s a fast learner.

Finn lets Poe lead him into the base and through its twisting halls to a training room. There’s no one else around; probably everybody agrees with Finn that there’s nothing much going on and is off taking advantage of the rare downtime someplace else. Poe has a pretty good idea as to what his squadron is up to—Snap had fairly sprinted past him in the morning, followed a minute later by Jess swearing vengeance, her hair turned a bright green. He’s still a little torn about whether he should have tripped Snap or not.

Poe unties his boots, and steps onto the floormat barefoot. He motions for Finn to do the same. Finn sheds his jacket—Poe’s jacket—reluctantly, which makes Poe smile, and kicks off his boots. “What do you want me to do?” he asks, dropping into a loose fighting stance. BB-8 rolls back a few meters and tilts its head as if curious.

“Nothing too rough,” Poe answers. “Show me what you do to warm up.”

“Easy enough,” Finn agrees, and launches into a series of martial arts moves that take him across the mat and back. Halfway through, Finn glances at Poe, who is unconsciously mimicking changes in his footwork, and Poe catches the brief grin that flits across his face before he refocuses on the next step. At the end of the sequence, Finn is breathing just a little harder as he settles on the mat to stretch again.

“Anything hurt?” Poe says, dropping lightly to the mat beside him and copying the stretch.

“I feel pretty good,” Finn says, smiling.

“So hand-to-hand combat,” Poe notes. “You practice with weapons other than a blaster? I hear you’re a good shot.”

Finn shrugs. “Occasionally we practiced with riot batons.”

Poe’s expression stiffens, only for a heartbeat, but Finn notices. “What?”

Charged riot batons?”

“Yeah, why?” Finn says.

“Didn’t that hurt?”

Finn shrugs again. “It taught us to get better fast. When I was six I could dodge anything the older kids tried to hit me with.”

Poe is openly aghast. “When you were six.”  BB-8’s beep echoes Poe’s dismay.

“The First Order’s pretty serious about weeding out the weak,” Finn says. “What about you? What did you Resistance kids practice with? Lightsabers?” He’s teasing, but Poe feels the old pang nonetheless.

“Not me,” Poe says. “I’m not Force-sensitive.”

“But you hoped you were.” Finn is getting better at reading him—Poe’s uncertain if that means Finn’s picking things up through the Force or not, though.

“Yeah. All the children of the Rebellion who grew up with stories of Luke Skywalker wanted to become Jedi Knights,” Poe says. Of course, he had also wanted to be a smuggler and a politician and the best pilot in the galaxy—one out of four wasn’t bad, in the end.

Finn says, as the realization slowly dawns on him, “If you were Force-sensitive—if Skywalker had taken you on to be trained . . .”

“Kylo Ren would have killed me along with all of the other would-be Jedi,” Poe finishes for him. “Believe me, I know.” Then he brightens up again. “I heard you wielded Luke’s lightsaber, though. Against Ren.”

“And look where that got me,” Finn says dryly. “A month in sick bay flat on my back.”

“Rey said you held your own,” Poe admonishes him. “And I saw you use it on Takodana. That was pretty amazing.”

“You saw me in all of that?” Finn asks, a grin starting to form on his face.

“Lightsaber blades are pretty visible even from the air,” Poe says, smiling. “So when Rey brings Luke back to the base, are you going to train with them?” It’s blunter than he intends, but he figures it’s worth a shot.

Finn looks at him, puzzled. “To do what?”

“Aren’t you Force-sensitive?” He keeps his expression neutral, just this side of brightly curious.

“Do you have to be Force-sensitive to fight with a lightsaber?” Finn asks. “I thought it was like fighting with batons.”

“Huh.” Poe pretends to think about it for a second. “Maybe you’re just that good a fighter,” he says, putting a hand on Finn’s shoulder.

“If I was completely better, I’d pin you to the floor in a heartbeat,” Finn says. BB-8 makes a bunch of deeply amused and kind of suggestive noises at that. Poe doesn’t try to parse the details, but Finn is clearly working it out for himself, and looks both startled—and, to Poe’s delighted surprise, hopeful.

“Hey, I said nothing too rough,” Poe says, his eyes crinkling with laughter. “But maybe when you’re back to one hundred percent we can go a few rounds.”

Finn scoots a little closer to Poe on the mat. “Maybe if you take it slow, we could go for it now?” His dark eyes are warm, and he puts a hand tentatively on Poe’s knee.

Poe grins, gently puts his hands on both sides of Finn’s face, and, throwing caution and all of his previous restraint to the wind, kisses him.

When they break apart again, BB-8’s whistling encouraging noises. Finn laughs.

“What kind of training did you get about this?” Poe murmurs, wrapping his hand around the back of Finn’s neck.

“Not nearly enough,” Finn replies, grinning back. “You’ll have to teach me everything you know.”