“Oh my god,” Rey says, disbelieving, “I leave you alone for three weeks, and you start dating the best pilot in the Resistance? This is ridiculous.”
Finn, to his credit, at least looks a little sheepish as he sticks his hands in the pockets of his jacket. Well, of Poe’s jacket, technically, and–
“I should have known something was up, what with the clothes sharing,” Rey says, shaking her head, “and the whole–hugging thing–”
“I like hugs,” Finn says simply, and then frowns. “Wait, you weren't even there! You were off being captured by an evil Jedi guy!”
“I hear things,” Rey says, trying to be mysterious, and then gives up on mysterious and beams widely at Finn. “I am happy for you, though,” she admits, and tackles him in a hug, being gentle of his back but still smothering him a little bit in her masses of hair.
“I hear you found Luke Skywalker,” Finn says, spitting out a stray strand of her hair, “that's pretty cool. That’s way cooler actually, why are we talking about me? Luke Skywalker!”
“Yeah,” Rey agrees, “he's, uh, pretty interesting–”
There’s a pointed cough from behind them, and Rey sighs internally before releasing Finn to turn around and nod at the source.
“Oh my God you’re Luke Skywalker,” Finn blurts loudly, his eyes going huge.
“That would be me,” Luke agrees, “and you must be Finn. I’ve heard a lot of good things.”
Finn makes a strangled choking noise that Rey thinks is supposed to indicate some sort of polite greeting, and gives a strange jaunty hand gesture that might be a wave.
She and Luke both take a moment to stare at Finn, who’s still clearly trying to collect his jaw off the floor after meeting a legendary mystical hero, and then Luke sighs and raises an eyebrow in Rey’s direction.
“We may be back with the Resistance, but we’re still training,” he says meaningfully. “Morning practice?”
Rey frowns. “But that’s not till 0900,” she says, confused.
Finn coughs again, and this time it comes out almost normal sounding. “It’s, ah, it’s 0914,” he says apologetically.
Rey groans and buries her face in her hands, feeling her cheeks flush bright red. “Why didn’t you tell me?” she says, and swats Finn lightly on the forearm. “I’m not the one with the watch!”
“I didn’t know you had anywhere to be!” Finn retorts, and then remembers Luke’s presence. “Ah, my apologies, Mr. Skywalker, sir,” he says, “I didn’t mean to–”
“Don’t apologize,” Luke says, “this is on Rey, not you. Come on, Rey–”
“Yes, yes,” she says, still blushing, “all right, I’m here–”
“Nice to meet you Mr. Skywalker!” Finn calls loudly as they walk away. “Have a nice day!”
“He seems nice,” Luke says innocently, and Rey sighs.
“Not a word,” she says darkly, “trust me, it’s not like that,” and Luke grins.
“Oh my god, Poe,” Jess says, rolling her eyes, “the innocent wide-eyed young hero of the Starkiller attack? Really?”
Poe grimaces. “It sounds really weird when you say it like that,” he complains. “I just … like him, is all.”
Jess smiles. “I know, I know,” she says, “I’m just teasing you. It’s just funny that of course he’s your exact opposite: idealistic, terrible at flying, and a total sweetheart.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Poe says, “mock me all you want, but we all know you’re not getting any.”
Jess starts laughing so hard she almost knocks her entire tray off the mess table. “Wow, Dameron,” she forces out between giggles, “not wasting any time, are we? Y
ou’re jumping right into corrupting the youth–”
“I don’t have to listen to this,” Poe mutters, and stands up. “Look, he’s over there,” he says, “and I’m going to go sit with Finn, who supports me and cares about me, instead of you, you–monster–”
Jess waves him off. “Do what you gotta do, bro,” she says, with a meaningful twitch of her eyebrows.
Poe flips her off as he gathers his tray. “Also, he’s not that much younger!” Poe shouts as he walks away, but unfortunately the mess hall chose that exact moment for a lull in the dull roar of general conversation, and a few dozen heads turn to stare at Poe.
He goes bright red, and nods curtly at the crowd before skulking off to join Finn’s table.
Jess, still snickering, turns back to her tray, and then notices a slight, dark-haired girl lingering a few meters away from where Finn and Poe are now sitting, a lost look on her face. Jess knows she looks familiar, but it takes a few seconds to place her, until she realizes that it’s Rey, the scavenger turned Jedi apprentice who’d been the one to finally track down Luke Skywalker after all these years.
One of the most important women in the system, and she’s about to go sit alone at lunch. That won’t do, Jess thinks, and before she realizes what she’s doing she’s waved Rey over to her own table and is sharing half her hard-won dessert ration.
“You got ditched too, huh,” she says sympathetically, and Rey, still looking a little confused, nods.
“I’m Jess,” she introduces herself, “I’m a pilot for the resistance; I fly with Poe a lot.”
Rey’s face clears a little, and she smiles. “Oh, that’s so great. I love flying. I’m–”
“I know who you are,” Jess interrupts, smirking. “C’mon, Rey; you’re the next coming of magical space Jesus–”
“You’re a pretty big deal. I’d be more surprised if there was a single person in this room who didn’t recognize you,” Jess finishes, unruffled. “Anyway, I have a few questions about the Force–”
Rey’s face immediately goes cold and blank. “I’m not here to tell you the dirty secrets of others,” she hisses, “Luke’s business is his business, and that’s that–”
“What?” Jess responds, baffled. “No, no, not that kind of questions. I was going to ask you if you’ve noticed the Force influencing your flying style at all, since Luke Skywalker was one of the best pilots alive in his heyday, and from what I hear you’re not too shabby yourself.”
“Oh,” Rey says, taken aback, “well–I mean, if the Force is contributing when I fly, I’m not really conscious of it, but I suppose I wouldn’t notice either way because I don’t know what not having the Force is like.”
“Oh, that’s interesting,” Jess says, abandoning the remains of her now-cold meal to focus on Rey, “so you’ve always had it, then?”
“I’m not sure,” Rey hedges, “but I have it now, and I don’t feel any different than I did before, so probably?”
“That’s so cool,” Jess breathes, and then lights up with an idea. “We should go flying sometime,” she says decisively, “just us. I bet you could teach me a few things, and I know I’ve got a few things to show you.”
Rey raises a skeptical eyebrow. “I wouldn’t be so sure about that,” she says, “I’ve been told I’m a pretty big deal.”
Jess reaches over the table to sock her gently on the shoulder. “Ancient magical mumbo-jumbo is no match for exhaustive formal training and the best reflexes this side of the galaxy.”
“I thought those belonged to Poe Dameron,” Rey says, smirking.
“That’s what he wants you to think,” Jess retorts, laughing.
“We’ll see,” Rey says. “Tomorrow afternoon?”
“It’s a date,” Jess confirms decisively, and pulls her hair out of its messy bun to fall in glossy sheets down her back, before standing up to take her tray back to the kitchen and get back to work.
She doesn’t turn back to check, but she can feel Rey’s eyes on her all the way out of the mess hall, and can’t quite manage to suppress a triumphant grin as she goes.
“I see you’ve been spending a lot of time with Jess lately,” Finn says mildly, and Rey sighs.
“Well, not this past week,” she says, “because she’s been gone on a recon mission for days.”
“Okay, so not lately lately,” Finn corrects, “but a lot of time.”
Rey shrugs. “I like her,” she says simply. “She’s nice to me, and she’s funny, and she doesn’t make me do pushups like a certain Jedi master I could name. Why’s it matter so much?”
“It doesn’t,” Finn says, “it’s just that I heard it from Poe, who heard it from Snap, who heard it from a medidroid, of all places. So I thought I should probably try to keep you aware that your personal business is rapidly becoming the number one source of gossip here on base.”
Rey makes a face. “Don’t people have anything better to talk about? I’m not really that interesting.”
Finn shrugs. “I guess people got bored of gossiping about me and Poe,” he says. “There’s always gotta be something floating around the grapevine.”
“Yeah, but why me and Jess?” she whines.
Finn fixes her with a firm stare. “Really?”
Rey shifts uncomfortably. “I mean, Jess is–”
“Oh, are we talking about me?” Jess says happily, coming up behind Rey and slinging a comfortable arm around her shoulders. “Perfect. Y’know, I’ve always felt like it was my destiny to be the center of attention at all times–”
“Jess!” Rey says delightedly, “You’re back!” She turns to wrap her arms fully around Jess’s waist and hug her tightly, burying her face in the other girl’s shoulder. “I missed you!”
“Aww,” Jess says, hugging Rey back, “that’s so sweet! I missed you, too, darling.”
“Darling?” Finn repeats with a snicker.
“Do not,” Rey says to him, not moving from her embrace. “You smell really good,” she tells her friend, and Jess laughs.
“Decontamination shower,” she says, “I’ve never really thought of it as smelling good, but better than being covered in hazardous materials, I suppose.”
“So the mission went well?” Rey asks, pulling back at last.
“That’s classified,” Jess tells her with a wink, “but I wouldn’t be here in one piece if it hadn’t, so draw your own conclusions from that.”
“I’m glad you’re back,” Rey says softly.
“Don’t worry,” Jess replies, “I am too.”
“Finn,” Rey says, “Finn, wake up.”
Finn groans and rolls over, and then realizes who’s talking to him and sits straight up in bed, eyes open wide but unseeing in the pre-dawn dark. Beside him, Poe pulls the blanket completely over his face and goes back to sleep. Rey ignores him.
“Oh my God, Rey,” Finn says, scandalized, “how did you get in here?”
She stares at him blankly for a few seconds, and then Finn rolls his eyes at himself. “The Force, right, obviously,” he says, “fine. So why are you here, then?”
“I need advice,” Rey says, and looks at Finn with wide, pleading eyes. “What does it feel like when you like someone?”
Finn squeezes his eyes shut and takes a deep breath. “I hate you so much right now,” he mutters, but drags himself out of bed and tugs a shirt on. “Come on,” he says softly, “let’s go somewhere else, I don’t want to wake up Poe.”
Rey nods and leads him out the door and out a side door to sit on the grass outside, damp from overnight dew, the sun just beginning to crest over the horizon.
“Seriously,” Finn says, shivering slightly in the chill, “so much hate–”
“Finn!” Rey interrupts. “I need help!”
“Okay, who is this about?” Finn asks resignedly. “Is this about Jess?”
Rey turns bright red, and stammers, “Why would you say that? Who told you? I never said I liked Jess, she’s just … uh, just a friend?”
Finn rolls his eyes. “You’re not exactly subtle,” he snorts, and leans forward to rest his elbows on his crossed legs. “Plus, you definitely just confirmed it right then, if I had had any doubts.”
Rey hides her face in her hands. “But I don’t even know if I like her,” she says plaintively. “I just–think she’s really cool and pretty, and want her to think I’m cool and pretty, and want to spend time with her all the time, and–”
As she runs out of breath, Finn cuts her off. “Yeah, that’s basically what it’s like,” he says, “at least in my incredibly limited experience. Do you want to kiss her?”
Rey turns an even darker shade of red, an impressive feat considering how hard she’d already been blushing. “Um, maybe? I’m not really sure.”
Finn sighs, and shrugs. “Look, I’m about as far as you can get from an expert,” he says gently, “but maybe just go for it. That’s what I did, and it paid off pretty well.”
Rey groans and flops back onto the grass. “All right,” she says, “but consider this as an alternate option: I don’t say anything about it to Jess, ever, and then one day I die.”
“Not the worst plan,” Finn concedes, “but I’m pretty sure you can do better than that.”
“It’s hard, though.” Rey says, “What if she doesn’t like me? What if she gets really offended and doesn’t want to see me anymore? What if she thinks it’s ridiculous and laughs at me and tells all her friends and then they all laugh at me? What if she gets mad and sets me on fire?”
“Those are just risks you have to take,” Finn says, “but between you and me, I’m pretty sure you don’t have much to worry about. Even if she doesn’t like you, which I find highly doubtful, I can guarantee with one hundred percent certainty that she will not set you on fire.”
Rey opens her mouth to complain some more, but Finn rubs at his eyes and ignores her. “Can I go back to bed now?” he asks plaintively. “I’m so cold.”
“Yes, yes, fine,” Rey says brusquely, “I’ll deal with my emotional struggles alone.”
“Great!” Finn chirps, and stands up to head back inside. “Good luck!”
“Thanks,” Rey says, and makes a face as the dew finally soaks through her many layers of clothes and reaches her skin. “Gross,” she mutters, and goes to face the music.
Rey finds Jess in the hallway outside the mess hall, and her heart feels a little like it’s going to fly out of her mouth from nervousness, but she waves Jess down anyway.
“Hi,” Jess says, her brown eyes crinkling at the edges as she smiles and sparkling with mischievous energy, “fancy seeing you here.”
“Hi,” Rey says back, a little breathless. “I wanted to talk to you about something–”
“Me too,” Jess says. “Want to go out with me sometime?”
Rey stops, blinks. “Wait, what?”
“I’m asking you on a date,” Jess says, “because you’re cute and funny and nice, and I like you a lot.”
“Oh,” Rey says, dazed, “I–”
Jess fidgets, starting to look a little uncomfortable. “I thought you might like me, too, but if not then no big deal, as long as we can stay friends.”
“Yes,” Rey says, decisively, “yes to the date. That’s what I was going to ask you, actually, but you did it a lot better than I would have.”
Jess grins, and grabs Rey by the hand, tugging her gently forward, and somehow she doesn’t mind this quite as much as she’d minded Finn doing the same thing all those weeks ago.
“Nice,” Jess says happily, “that’s–that’s good.” She wraps up Rey in a hug, and presses a gentle chaste kiss to her cheek.
Rey blushes, and smiles warmly at Jess before kissing her back, even more gently, right at the corner of her mouth.
It’s at that point that there’s a pointed cough from behind them, and Rey breaks away to rest her forehead defeatedly against Jess’s shoulder.
“What time is it?” she asks, voice muffled in the fabric of Jess’s flight suit.
“0907,” two voices chime in unison.
“Right,” Rey says, straightening and turning around, “sorry about that, Luke, I’ll just–”
“So you must be the Jess I’m hearing so much about,” Luke says, mouth quirking up around the edges, and Rey hopes privately that the earth below her breaks apart to swallow her whole.
“That’s me,” Jess says, unruffled. “So you’re Luke Skywalker, huh? I thought you’d be taller for some reason.”
Luke sighs. “I get that a lot,” he admits. “Anyway, sorry to disturb the pair of you, but Rey has training scheduled, so …”
“Don’t let me keep you,” Jess says, and turns to Rey with fondness in her eyes and a shit-eating grin on her face. “See you later, Rey.”
“Later,” Rey says, face heating in embarrassment, and turns to follow Luke towards the clearing in the forest where they train.
“She seems nice,” Luke says innocently after a long moment of silence, and Rey groans.
“Not one single word,” Rey threatens, and Luke laughs, and laughs, and laughs.