Finn was taken when he was a baby. He’d seen some of the babies come in, later, and they had been small, chubby legs and open, screaming mouths. It might’ve been when he was just born, or a year after, or a few months old. The point is: Finn was taken. It’s a complete sentence.
Finn wakes up in the infirmary with a headache like he’s been head-butted by a blaster--which: basically--and is instantly swallowed by an actual swarm of medics and nurses, who range in height from a tiny Mrlssi to someone with face-tentacles who could give Chewbacca a run for his money.
“Where’s Rey?” Finn says groggily. Until this moment, Chewbacca had been the tallest person Finn had ever seen. The Stormtroopers had been controlled for height, so everybody fit the regs and nobody fell too far outside the curve. It was part of the genetic reprogramming that they did, to make you the same speed as the guys next to you, to make you listen to the commands and follow them down to your muscle fibers.
One of the nurses clicks at Finn aggressively and pushes his shoulders down. “Hey, quit it,” Finn tries to say irritably, but his chest aches and he can’t get a lot of volume into it. “Hey, hey,” Finn tries again, and the big one, Face Tentacles, pins him to the mattress.
“Finn, buddy, cool it,” says someone behind Face Tentacles; it turns out to be Poe.
“Where’s Rey?” Finn tries.
“She’s off, it’s okay, she’ll be back,” Poe is saying. “She’s looking for him, Finn.”
Finn says, “Who?” and then, to Face Tentacles, “Seriously, I am going to punch one of these off.”
“Cool it,” Poe hisses. “Mb’kala is cool, okay, it’s fine. She’s looking for Him.”
Finn’s whole body hurts in a way that’s unfamiliar. It’s different from the ache he’d gotten on Jakkur, when Slip’s bloody handprint had come to rest against the visor of his helmet. The hurt then had been immediate, visceral, a kind of oh shit that came with baggage. Killing these people is wrong, that’s what the hurt had been, like Finn was remembering something that he’d been told a long time ago. This hurt is like Finn has been stepped on by an AT-AT.
“Him?” Finn says groggily, and then he remembers. “Oh. Oh.”
“Yeah, buddy,” Poe says. He’s grinning at Finn, like they’ve got some kind of joke now between them. Finn’s had friends, kind of, but not the kind where he’s ever been able to see their faces for long periods of time. Reading expressions instead of orders is this whole new world, and it’s mostly been a crapshoot thus far.
Except for Rey, of course. Finn could die, looking at Rey’s face, and he doesn’t think it would be the worse thing ever. It’s better than the inside of a Stormtrooper helmet.
“You just have to rest up, and she’ll be back quick,” Poe continues. “Just listen to the docs, okay, man?”
“That’s rich, coming from you, Dameron,” one of the nurses says. It might be Face Tentacles, although the voice is higher-pitched than Finn would’ve thought, coming from somebody that size.
“Come on, I do my stuff,” Poe says. “I listen to you.”
“Ha!” the nurse says; this time it’s definitely Face Tentacles. The tentacles lift in some kind of amused expression, like a shrug. But with, you know. Tentacles from the face. God, Finn feels really weird. He’s probably doped up and up. When he’d gotten doped after training exercises as a trooper, it had always been in an isolation pod. Hard to tell if the room is spinning if you’re, you know, alone in omnipresent darkness.
“Am I high?” Finn asks Poe. He means to do it seriously, but Poe laughs.
“Probably,” he says. “They keep you on the straight-and-narrow in Stormtrooper School?”
Face Tentacles, still high-pitched but softer now, says, “He needs to rest. Dameron, take five.” When Poe opens his mouth, Face Tentacles says, “It’s an order. Don't make me pull the general down here on you.”
Poe makes a face; it’s the last thing Finn sees before he conks right back into unconsciousness. He’s very good at emoting, Finn thinks.
For a person who grew up alone on a desert planet in a nowhere system with nobody around but low-grade scumballs, Rey is--
“Assertive,” Finn suggests.
“I mean, I was going to say bossy,” Poe says. “You can say assertive, if you want, but I think I’m going to stick with bossy.”
“She’s not bossy,” Finn says, annoyed, although Poe is probably, technically-speaking, correct. “She just knows what she wants.”
“Yeah, well, she knew what she wanted when she told me to stick to you like we’d been welded together.” This sounds irritated coming out of Poe’s mouth but he’s smiling. It’s a charming smile. It charms Finn, who didn’t even know he could be charmed. He’s learning all sorts of things about himself, including that it’s only the first week of mandated bed rest that’s sort of fun; everything after that is hell and also extremely boring.
It’s week two, now, and Finn is Doing Well and On the Mend and has graduated from laying flat on his back to be propped at a thirty degree angle. He’s seen a lot of the bottom of Poe’s chin; it’s a nice chin. “Really?” Finn says. “She told you what to do, hotshot?”
Poe points a finger at Finn and says, “Don’t repeat whatever the medics tell you.”
The medics have a lot of nicknames for Poe. Face Tentacles calls him little sucker, but in an affectionate way. It’s a weird hospital. There are weird people working in it, and only about 5% of them act professionally at any given point of time.
“They don’t tell me anything,” Finn says, not really truthfully, but it makes an okay segue. “Like, for example, where Rey is.”
“I told you,” Poe says, almost placid. “She’s gone after Luke.” He leans a little closer, propping an elbow on the mattress next to Finn. In a burst of uncomfortable self-awareness, Finn thinks about the catheter that he’s been trying really hard not to think about, two weeks into conscious, mandated bed-rest. “The system’s classified, I’m sure you’re not surprised, but it’ll take a dozen or so jumps for her to get there. The Falcon’s a good ship but it’s old, really old. It’ll be another few weeks before she’ll be back, and that’s if she can convince Luke to come with her.” The smile peels away from Poe’s mouth, leaving the corners hard-set.
Weeks? “Weeks?” Finn says weakly. He doesn’t mean to, it just sort of croaks out of him. “Right,” he continues, trying to sound unruffled. “Of course. A few weeks.”
“It’ll be over before you know it, buddy,” Poe says.
It is not over before Finn knows it. Week two drags into week three, and then week four. Finn gets to sit up (a whole ninety degrees!), down-dose his pain meds, then meet his physical therapist. The third time he attempts a jailbreak for the canteen and real food that has not been liquified by a droid with a rage complex, Face Tentacles--Dr. Mb’kala--gets him addicted to a holo drama from their home planet in sadistic retaliation. Poe brings BB-8 with him at meals and they watch it together, BB-8 projecting the holo with subtitles and adding editorial asides that only Poe can understand.
“This is trash,” Poe says. He’s brought his supper with him and is eating a piece of toast as Finn sadly stirs a spoon in his liquid protein. He’s staring at the holo raptly, jabbing a piece of toast absently into the corner of his mouth. “Who’s that one again?”
BB-8 beeps aggressively. “I wasn’t asking you, I know how you feel about this show,” Poe says.
“That’s Septum Piercing,” Finn says.
“She’s the prime minister’s illegitimate daughter, right? The one who was freed from slavery by whatshisface’s stepmother?”
Finn says, “No, that’s Navel Piercing. Can I get a piece of that?”
“No,” Poe says. “Shit, which one is Septum Piercing again?”
Septum Piercing and Little Sucker go down in a flail of tentacles; the music gets heavier, louder, with more emphasis on the cymbals. Finn is perfectly capable of assessing what’s happening; he averts his eyes down to his liquid protein, because he doesn’t have a catheter in anymore but he’s not exactly interested in thinking about any of that in Poe’s company.
“The one sleeping with Little Sucker to trick him into executing her ex-husband for piracy,” Finn says belatedly.
“Right,” Poe says. “I see that now.”
The liquid protein sort of smells appetizing, which is frankly the worst part. Finn has eaten a lot of solid protein in his time--you could even say that FN-2187 was raised on it--and it had always tasted the same, like a foam brick. Liquid protein was for when you were in the medbay, like the time that Finn had fallen into a sub-tank of the Starkiller septic system while repairing it and had gotten a gastrointestinal bug. He’d eaten and thrown up liquid protein for a week and a half before he’d been okay to go back to work.
Finn’s eaten a lot of protein, that’s all. There had been fruit on Takodana; Rey had licked juice off of her fingers and Finn had told her to wash her hands first and Rey had said, why, because she had raised herself on a desert planet full of scumbags.
“Seriously,” Finn says to Poe, “just one piece? Half a piece.”
“You’re gonna get me kicked out,” Poe gripes but he tears his last piece of toast in half and hands it to Finn. “It’s got umnaka butter on it; Jess says it’s an acquired taste.”
Whatever umnaka butter is, it’s soft and rich, salty enough to make Finn’s tongue curl inside his mouth. “Wow,” he says. The bread underneath is cold but crunchy. The inside of Finn’s mouth feels soft from a diet of liquid protein; it feels like the toast and the salt are peeling away the top layer of skin. It’s not a terrible feeling. “Is this from your home planet?”
“Ma’s finest,” Poe says, then, “I’m kidding, I’m kidding. My ma never saw the inside of a kitchen in her life. Yeah, it’s from my home planet. Good, right?”
“Yeah,” Finn says, taking another bite. The umnaka sticks to the roof of his mouth and he has to scrape it off with his tongue. “Really good.”
Poe, looking satisfied, settles back into his chair. It’s become his chair basically permanently; everyone else that Finn knows, all two other people, are off-planet. When Dr. Mb’kala and the nurses come by to check on Finn, they don’t have the time to sit. “Jess doesn’t know what she’s talking about,” Poe tells him. “Lieutenant Pava talks a lot of trash.”
“Uh-huh,” Poe says. “Really? You think?”
Finn really needs to learn to speak droid.
“Well, you’re wrong,” Poe continues. Over BB-8’s aggressive, continued beeping--Finn can’t read the subtitles anymore and the holo’s getting fuzzy; it looks like Little Sucker is haranguing a wall painting--Poe says, “Lieutenant Pava does not have my best interests at heart, she wants me to do whatever will let her make the most fun of me.”
BB-8 beeps thoughtfully.
“Of course I’m right, I’m Poe Dameron.” Poe tilts in his chair, looks at Finn out of the corner of his eye, and winks.
The wink makes Finn feel dizzy, like he’s been shot in simulation training. Instead of YOU HAVE FAILED, REPORT TO MEDICAL FOR DEBRIEF & ISOLATION flashing in front of his eyes, it’s the way the light glints off of the raw edge of stubble along Poe’s jaw. Finn can’t even think of anything clever to say.
For physical therapy homework, Finn has to go to the flight deck and back “on your own two feet. Take as many breaks as you need!” Finn’s physical therapist is a very nice lady named Astoria who can put her foot behind her head and has an inflated sense of Finn’s baseline flexibility. She’s also clearly in cahoots with Dr. Mb’kala if this is her idea of homework.
It takes Finn about two hours to get to the flight deck and he takes a lot of breaks--more than he’d needed, really, except it seemed like every time he turned a corner somebody wanted to say hello and talk about how excited they were to see him on his feet.
“Hello, ma’am,” says Finn suspiciously when he turns his fourteenth corner and it’s General Organa on the other side. “Sir?” he remembers, after a second.
“At ease,” says General Organa. She looks irritated but not angry. “I’m glad to see you on your feet, Finn.”
“Thanks, ma’am,” Finn says. After a second’s pause he adds, “I’m--on my way to the flight deck. It’s for my physical therapy homework.”
“Who are you working with?” she asks. “Astoria? She’s a very skilled medic. When my idiot ex-husband broke his hip she helped get him back on his feet and never once had to threaten to murder him.”
Finn says, “Yes, Astoria, ma’am,” because all other options seem not good.
There are two underlings behind the general, both of them carrying data pads and with blasters on their hips. They look efficient, ruthless, and tired. Finn has never seen so many tired faces in his life.
“Good luck with your PT, Finn,” General Organa says. “As soon as you’re feeling up to it, we’ll find you something more interesting to do.” She smiles as she says this; she never stops looking irritated, but it makes her look--well. It makes her look like Han.
“Thank you, ma’am,” Finn says. “I look forward to it, ma’am.”
Finn watches her walk away, briskly saying things to her underlings and not waiting for them to finish typing before she’s on to the next thought. FN-2187 had been put on KRD once and it had been hell; the guy was like twelve feet tall and walked really fast. Finn had spent the whole eight-hour shift scuttling around, trying not to trip on anything or draw attention to himself. The trooper who normally took that shift had been in medical isolation for burning herself on a piece of melted communications console and Finn had thought be calm, don’t melt things what felt like the entire time.
It’s awful to think, wow, they walk the same way, but they do. General Organa’s half the size but she walks just as quickly, with that same sort of muted lethality that’s waiting to erupt. Finn wonders wildly for a second if that’s how the force works, but he feels too exhausted and anyway who could he go ask? Rey’s off in some podunk system convincing a guy Finn still isn’t totally sure is real to come back and train her to be a Jedi. Finn’s got enough sense not to ask General Organa, that’s for sure.
In the end, Finn takes a long rest, propped against a bare patch of wall, before he continues on to the flight deck.
Rey has been gone for seven weeks--51 days--and Finn has been mostly-conscious for 47 of them when Poe bursts into Finn’s hospital room and yells, “He said yes!”
Finn says, “What?” and BB-8 comes in right behind Poe, beeping at a level of near-hysteria. She has her lighter out and it’s flickering wildly; Finn remembers after a few seconds to give her a thumbs-up in return.
“Can you believe it?” Poe says, still almost yelling. He looks wildly happily; his jacket’s askew but his hair is perfect. “I can’t, lemme tell you, I thought for sure he was going to tell Snap to go fuck himself, but he said yes!”
“Great!” Finn says. “Who said yes to what?”
“Temmin fucking Wexley is getting married!” Poe says, grabbing Finn by the shoulders. He pulls him into a hug, too fast and too gentle for it to hurt Finn’s back, and then he lets go. “Buddy, this is going to light up the entirety of D’Qar, you will not believe it.”
Poe’s hair smells like the forest. “Uh,” Finn says. “Great?”
“Good,” Poe assures him. “This is really good.” He’s still sort of flitting around excitedly but he slows, turning to look at Finn. Sometimes Poe looks at him in a way that’s narrowing, like he’s got Finn in the crosshairs of his attention. It should be more discomfiting than it actually is; Finn doesn’t feel so much like a cornered TIE fighter as a sun on the verge of supernova. “You--uh, have you been to a wedding, bud?”
“No,” Finn says. “I’m not a schlepper from the Outer Rim, I know what a wedding is, Dameron.”
“Of course,” Poe says. The attention doesn’t dim but it goes softer. Finn’s whole chest is burning with warmth. “But you’ve got no clue what kind of hell a Resistance wedding is going to rain down on this place, trust me on that.”
He’s probably right; Finn’s only ever seen weddings on holos and those usually involve somebody accidentally marrying their sister. The propaganda holos from the First Order had a wedding in one of them and it had been easy fodder for razzing; as long as you didn’t do it within earshot of a commander, they didn’t care.
“Sounds fun,” Finn says. In the First Order holo the couple had both been in their dress uniforms, unrelieved black against the red First Order flag. They’d both sworn to honor the First Order and uphold its maxims within their marriage and teach their children to do the same. The acting had been really terrible; even Finn, who barely saw other people without masks, had recognized the wooden and false enthusiasm. Slip had howled for days. When he came off of KRD for the first time after having seen it, he said, The first maxim I’m upholding in my marriage and teaching any of my kids is anger management.
It had been a joke, because Stormtroopers didn’t get married. Ha ha?
Poe says, “So, you’ll come with me?”
“What?” Finn says. There’ve been a couple times since coming to D’Qar that Finn’s felt out of the loop, but most of the time it’s fine. The Resistance runs itself under a semi-military structure that’s like the First Order except less regimented and way less professional.
“Come with me to Snap’s wedding,” Poe says. “I bet I can sell it to Astoria as intensive physical therapy.”
“You’re nuts. Do you have altitude sickness?” Finn asks; Poe laughs, full-on, with his head thrown back. His hair still looks perfect. Does he, like, seal it with clear insulant or something? It’s incredible. “Yeah, I mean--sure. Of course. Which one is Snap again?”
Poe laughs again.
Snap is the one with the beard.
General Organa presides over the wedding, which is outside of the base on top of what feels like a very tall mountain by the time Poe and Finn are done climbing it. “Isn’t there, like, a big room where we can do this inside of the base?” Finn asks Poe after they’ve huffed their way up to the top. Finn feels like his lungs are going to crawl out of his mouth and he wants to set his lower back on fire, but Poe looks sort of--dewy. Very nice. The less said about his fucking hair, the better.
“Ed wanted it outside,” Poe says in an undertone. They’re standing in the front of the pack of people, near where Snap-with-the-beard and his future husband are talking to General Organa. The future husband is small, slight, and his hair is long enough to be braided up around his ears. “If you think General Organa is bad about getting what she wants, I recommend you never make yourself an obstacle in the way of Ed Kyrell.”
“Yeah, Poe’d know,” says Lieutenant Pava, conveniently appearing in time to leer at Poe over his shoulder.
“Shut up,” Poe hisses, putting a hand in the middle of Lieutenant Pava’s face and gently shoving her backwards.
She cackles and, undeterred, says to Finn, “Has anybody told you about the time Poe and Ed both tried to seduce Luke Skywalker?”
“Jess, I swear--” Poe tries, reaching for her face again; Lieutenant Pava twists under his reach and says, “The truth is out there!” over his squawking. “You can’t hide it forever, Dameron! Your terrible past will catch up with you!”
“Hey, assholes, can it!” Snap yells. Finn, who’s been watching Poe and Lieutenant Pava with this horrible liquid feeling of something nice in his gut, full-body startles. Some soldier he is. “Somebody’s trying to get married over here, if you don’t mind.”
Everybody laughs; what seems to be like half of the base is out on the mountain, soaking up the sunshine. Finn hasn’t been really outside in weeks, although he makes it out to the flight deck a few times a week now so that he doesn’t die of vitamin D deficiency. Everything is so beautifully green; it makes Finn think of Rey, as many things do. What did she think of this planet, the first time she flew in low enough to see the trees?
“Dearly beloved,” General Organa begins, “and everyone on base who thought they could sneak off on-shift--I see you, Calrissian--we are gathered here today to celebrate the union of Temmin Wexley and Edmund Kyrell.”
Somebody wolf-whistles and the whole clearing bursts into laughter; Snap reaches behind and flips them off collectively. Finn hurts, from the climb and because he’s still being weaned off of the pain meds. The lightsaber scar on his back hurts, of course, but it’s everywhere else that’s worse. Finn shifts his weight and then sags to the left when his hip aches microscopically less. Poe’s right there, wearing his dress uniform and grinning. He turns his head just a little when Finn sways closer. Because Finn doesn’t have a uniform anymore, he’s wearing Poe’s jacket and some reg pants liberated for his use.
“You okay, buddy?” Poe whispers. This close, Poe’s dark eyes take on a kaleidoscope of colors. It’s like a sun flare on the surface of a dark planet; Finn’s aching up to his eyeballs but he’s still dumb enough to be staring.
“Yeah,” Finn whispers back. “I’m okay.”
“By the power vested in me by you bunch of numbskulls, I now declare you married,” General Organa says. “Kiss him already, why don’t you.”
As predicted, the base is fucked to hell by the party after the wedding. Finn’s never gotten drunk in his life and he’s not about to start now, with Dr. Mb’kala staring at him and wagging a tentacle disapprovingly, but he seems to be the the only one on base who has painkillers to think about.
“So then,” Lieutenant Pava--Jess--is saying, leaning forward and curling her finger towards Finn, “the boys decide that the only way to win is to ask Luke himself.”
“Oh my god, Jess,” Poe says, head in hands. He’s made little claws out of his hands and is raking them across his face. “Stop, Jess. Stop. Please.”
“Shut up, Republic scum,” Jess says, “and let Jessika tell this nice boy the story of how Luke Skywalker came back to his bunk to find two sixteen-year-olds making out naked on top of his bed.”
“Jess,” Poe moans. How has he managed not to disrupt a single hair with all of the face-clawing, Finn could not even begin to guess. “Please stop. Everybody was an idiot when they were sixteen, myself included, point made.”
There’s a bonfire in one of the soldering pits out on the flight deck, origins unknown. Jess and Finn and Poe are huddled on one side of it, using it for warmth and also because drunk people love fire for some reason. Finn is learning new things every day.
“Every time you play Commander Charming, little sucker, with the hair and everything, I am here!” Jess pokes Poe in the chest. “Here to remind everyone that you were an idiot sixteen-year-old just like the rest of us. Don’t be fooled by this perfect hair, Finn. It’s just a clever disguise.” Jess stops poking Poe in the chest and reaches up to grab a fistful of his hair. “Look at this,” she says to Finn disgustedly, letting go. Poe’s hair settles back into its normal, beautiful shape. “Natural, can you believe this shit.”
“No,” Finn says honestly. “Like, often? No.”
“You disgust us,” Jess tells Poe seriously. “I’m going to get more Corellian ale. You want another one, Poe? Something for you, Finn?”
“I’m good,” Finn tells her, and she breaks for the cluster of supply freighters further down the deck; one of them is making good trade peddling twelve systems’ worth of alcohol to drunk Resistance revelers. “So. She’s--nice.”
Poe shrugs and then grins at Finn, apparently having shaken off the embarrassment of earlier. “Our parents were friends growing up--my ma and pa, Jess’ moms, the Skywalkers. Yeah, I had a bad crush on Luke when I was a kid, but Jess, buddy, she was a firecracker.”
From the vague direction of the supply freighter, there’s some cackling and a loud boom. “Is a firecracker,” Poe says without blinking. “Man, get one pint of Corellian ale into that woman and it’s the Battle of Endor all over again.”
There is a very subtle sway to Poe’s body right now. “How many pints of Corellian ale are you working on, hotshot?” Finn asks. He shuffles a step closer, tells himself that it’s because he doesn’t want Poe to collapse face-first into the fire pit and burn his hair off, and then decides fuck it.
Poe laughs, full-bellied and warm. “Enough for me, buddy. It’s nice to have some time like this, you know? To take some time and take stock of what we have.”
There’s still cackling and the occasional muffled explosion from over by the supply freighters. There’s a sort of ragtag band set up closer to the forest, some drums and pipes and a stringed instrument that had been yanked out of people’s bunks and dusted off for the occasion. Finn can hear the loud stomping of dancing; a few people are singing along to the music, words that Finn doesn’t recognize. This could almost be a scene from a First Order holo about the debauchery of the Republic, except it has slightly better production values.
This close to Finn, Poe smells like the conifers that had grown on the surface of Starkiller base--smoky and warm, sharply green. Finn has never met anybody like Poe, so warm and so full of strength. Rey is warm and full of strength but they’re different values of warm and strong--just as powerfully alluring, but different. Finn’s head is swimming like he’s the one dipping into Corellian ale.
“Yeah,” Finn says vaguely; he’s already forgotten to what he’s agreeing.
“You can’t fight all the time,” Poe is saying. His voice has gotten awfully soft, but Finn doesn’t have any trouble hearing him over the shouting and singing and the snaps of the fire. “If you don’t do this--what are you fighting for, you know? You’re fighting for life.”
“Right,” Finn says, just as soft. He almost can’t hear himself; it’s like there’s blood up in his ears and pouring into his head. He’d been fighting for the First Order because it was the right thing to do; that’s what Captain Phasma and General Hux and the propaganda holos had taught him. It had been hard to imagine something more compelling than the right thing.
“Finn, bud?” Poe says. “I’m going to kiss you, okay? Don’t push me into the fire pit if you don’t want to.”
Breathless, Finn says, “Okay,” and then, when his brain catches up to the party, “wait, yes, okay,” and he sort of crashes into Poe, inept and off-balance. He’s too warm in Poe’s coat and he wants to be warmer; he moves into Poe and Poe’s space like that’s where he’s going to find what he’s looking for. Poe tastes like the inside of an old boot, which is presumably the Corellian ale, but he smells even better up close.
Wow, Finn thinks, which is supremely un-smooth. “Wow,” he says, accidentally. Poe’s really--good at this, so Finn just lets him direct how this is going to go. It’s going to go wet, warm, old boots and all, the best use Finn has ever had for his mouth.
“Yeah,” Poe says breathlessly. His goddamn hair is still goddamn perfect, lit to amazing effect by the fire pit. “Wow, buddy.”
The last day of Finn’s PT starts really early, because it’s the only time Astoria has to see him. “This is just a final check, but I really think you’re set,” she tells him as he sits down on one of her brightly-painted straw mats and unpicks the knots in his boots. “We’ll just go through the exercises together and then I’ll sign off on the last of the forms for General Organa. How are you feeling, Finn?”
“Fine,” Finn says, grunting around his knee as he picks at the knots with his fingertips. He’s basically fine, it’s not a total lie.
“Uh-huh,” Astoria says. “Let’s start up top and work down. Last time we met, you said something about a sharp pain in your back. Dr. Mb’kala noted in your file that they expected some discomfort following surgery but this is a little long for a post-surgical pain. Do you mind if I take a look?”
Finn says, “Go ahead,” and then flops face-first on the straw mat. Astoria presses things and has him give her numbers for how much they hurt; Finn is a master of this kind of appointment. His lower back and hips still hurt, but he’s been able to read between the lines of that during meetings with Dr. Mb’kala; they’re going to hurt for a long time, possibly forever.
Well, whatever. At least Finn is still alive.
The mats on the floor of Astoria’s office are painted black and red and yellow and green, bright colors with strong patterns. Her “office” is essentially a repurposed supply closet with a skylight; as Finn lies on his back and pulls his knees up to his chest with slow, timed exhales, he can see the sky. It’s blue today, packed with neat clouds that drift by quickly. It’s probably windy out; the days have been getting chillier. Finn lowers his leg back to the floor, exhaling and counting to four.
“Good,” says Astoria soothingly. “Okay, now, wrist rotations--the whole alphabet please, left and then right.” The first appointment in her office, Finn had asked about the skylight; apparently it has big metal shutters that roll on top of it in case of attack. Astoria had shown him how they were deployed, from a crank near her desk, and then she had opened and closed the shutters twice to explain the mechanism. Finn doesn’t know anybody else on the base with a window; it seems like a structural liability. If somebody wants to get in, Astoria had said, just as soothingly as she says everything, they’ll have to get through blast doors, and me.
“Very good, Finn,” Astoria says. “You’re looking really great. How do you feel after those?”
“Like somebody who cleared their last physical therapy appointment?” Finn tries.
“Get up and give me a full circuit of the room,” Astoria says, writing on her datapad. “And then we’ll do it again with the cones. And then, maybe, you’ll look like somebody who’s done with PT.”
Outside of Astoria’s office there are people rattling around--it’s impossible not to hear them, the whole base creaks with activity like it’s been made out of hammered aluminum--but she’s tried to make it a quiet space for recovery. The idea of it sort of appeals to Finn; like an isolation pod, but without the sensory deprivation and vague memory of YOU HAVE FAILED flashing in front of your eyes. Astoria’s kind of isolation pod has ink drawings and colorful straw mats and stacks of rubber cones.
The biggest drawing behind her desk is of a human hand and wrist, without skin, the muscles and tendons all individually labeled with neat handwriting. At the bottom, in the corner, it says Luke S. in the same neat handwriting. If Finn was the kind of person to jump to conclusions, which he totally is, he would bet that Astoria was Luke Skywalker’s physical therapist, once upon a time.
This is totally nuts, Finn thinks not for the first time, trying to walk normally without overthinking it. If he overthinks it, he’ll trip. How are these people even real people.
“Nicely done,” Astoria says when he’s done with the cones. “I’m very impressed, Finn. I would say you look exactly like the kind of enterprising young gentleman who’s just finished his physical therapy in time for his meeting with General Organa.”
Finn whoops and gives Astoria a hug. “Thanks for all of it,” he tells her. “I don’t know if I could’ve done it without you.”
Astoria pats him on the back. “You’re very resourceful,” she says, which is presumably her way of telling him she knows about all those times Poe snuck him out of his hospital room to steal non-liquid protein rations from the canteen. “But you’re correct, so the next time you break something, you better show up for your appointments with me. And tell that to Commander Dameron.”
“Of course,” Finn says. He’s blushing--he can feel it--but he doesn’t think Astoria can tell. “I’ll, uh, get right on that. So where’s General Organa’s office from here?”
It’s next door; Finn shouldn’t be surprised that he hadn’t noticed, since General Organa seems to spend all of her time stomping around the base ordering people to do things. She’s actually inside of it, frowning down at her desk as her fleet of underlings run around efficiently. Finn clears his throat just inside of her office, falling into parade rest.
“Hello, Finn,” the general says, looking up and then sweeping her underlings with a long glance. All but two of them peel out in a line and vacate the room; the last one shuts the door, politely making eye contact with Finn and nodding before shutting it. “Come on in, please, and take a look at this.” She’s staring down paper read-outs from a transmission; the last two underlings are transcribing something onto a display module with a half-built star system arrayed on it.
It looks a little familiar. “Is this--the map?” Finn asks, tracing the edge of the system with a finger. It feels inappropriate to remember that the last time he’d seen this star, it was reflected onto Han Solo’s cheekbone. Finn is not an expert at human emotion--or any species’ emotion, really, except maybe the ‘punch first, emote later’ style of Wookiees--but he can tell from the way that the general says my ex-husband that something is broken up inside that.
“Rey’s on her way home,” the general says. “She’s here, we’re here, and here--” she sweeps a hand and a bunch of bright red lights appear, blinking in a scattered array between the two indicated points “--is the First fucking Order.”
“She’s going to end up right in the middle of them,” Finn says tightly. He wasn’t really trained for flight but he recognizes the formation of the ships. “This isn’t an easy net to escape, ma’am. Do you see these clusters here and here? They’ll be fast ships, bigger than a TIE fighter but just as fast. They’re the jaws that close around, by coming down and slingshotting here.” Finn draws the path for her with his finger. “Rey’s an incredible pilot but it’ll be nearly impossible to escape with just one ship, even the Falcon.”
“The Falcon’s a piece of junk, it doesn’t matter how good of a pilot Rey is,” the general says irritably. “So we’re sending her some back-up. Go see somebody about a jumpsuit and regs. I want you and Dameron and half a dozen of his squadron out there ASAP.”
Finn does something really awful and unprofessional here like gape or made an audible noise of surprise; he can't tell because he's too busy staring at the general.
"O--kay?" he says, finally. All of them are staring at him, underlings included. "Right! Okay! Get Rey, right, got it."
General Organa impassively watches this undignified display and then smiles at him, firmly but kind. "Bring her home, Finn," she says, like Finn could possibly do anything else.
The salute comes immediately, like muscle memory. Finn is probably still smiling as he says, "Yes, ma'am."