Poe had tried to convince his rescue to go back for BB-8 instead of dragging his sorry ass clear back to base first. It didn't work. He even tried to get them to look for Finn. That didn't work either. He never could convince Pava to go against a direct order from the General herself.
He trudged towards her quarters behind C-3PO, who was chattering about how Poe had lost BB-8 and how the galaxy was doomed now. Poe sighed as he followed the droid into the General's sitting room slash debriefing room when it all had gone to rancor shit.
She shooed C-3PO away with an indulgent expression while Poe did his best not to allow his need to blurt out his apologies overwhelm him. She gently cupped his chin and turned his head side to side to look at the wounds he'd sealed up on the way in.
"Hmm." She patted his cheek before dropping her hand to rest on his shoulder. "Don't look fine."
She tilted her head as her eyes narrowed at him. "Don't ma'am me, Dameron. You're sore and about dead on your feet. Sit down before you fall over."
Poe sank into the least stainable chair she had in case he had blood on his back somewhere he wasn't feeling yet. "I'm sorry..."
"Don't apologize. You did as well as you could." She settled across from him and held out a cup. "I'm not mad."
Poe felt like bawling. "I gave the map to BB-8 and then..." He took the cup and gulped down several mouthfuls before he stopped long enough to cough. "Woah."
The General smiled at him and produced the bottle to pour him more. "And then?"
He sipped carefully. "They came. The whole village..." He sighed and looked up at her. "Kylo Ren came too. He held one of my blaster shots mid-air for several minutes while he talked. He didn't even look in the direction of the shot."
She bit her lip as she leaned back in her seat. "And you were taken prisoner."
"Yes, ma'am." He sat the cup down. "They wanted to know where the map was. They knew it existed and...he..." Poe put his hands between his knees and took slow, careful breaths. "I tried. I tried to hide the knowledge from him." He looked across to her and tried to focus as the edges of his vision started to fade. "He...it hurt so much..."
She leaned forward and cupped his cheek. "Poe, you need to breathe."
His chest heaved as he tried to bring himself back under control. "I'm sorry."
"No." The General eased him forward and leaned him against her shoulder. "There's nothing to be sorry for. You couldn't have kept him out of your mind, son. Trust me on that."
He nodded against her shoulder. "I'm probably getting blood on you."
She huffed a soft laugh, but didn't allow him to pull away. "Your droid will turn up. You need to rest now because I'm certain you'll need to fly when we get a location."
Poe did pull away and sit up at that. "BB-8 is on Jakku."
The General raised an eyebrow. "According to the news report stating that a orange and white droid stole an old freighter and out ran the First Order to lightspeed? Not likely."
"Huh." He blinked. "How could BB-8 steal a ship?"
She was laughing at him with her eyes as she took his cup and drank it down. "How did you escape?"
"I..." He grinned. "A Stormtrooper defected and helped me get to a TIE fighter. I, uh, sort of named him, General."
She glanced up from refilling the cup. "You found time to talk names in the middle of an escape?"
Poe nodded and accepted the refilled cup back. "We were in the middle of a firefight and he had a serial number for a name. FN-2187, he said. I couldn't..." He took a drink. "I named him Finn."
"And did he accept that?"
"He said he liked it." Poe rolled the cup between his palms. "I'm hoping he survived the crash. He wanted to get away from the First Order very badly."
"Hmm." She plucked the cup from his hands. "You survived. He might have as well."
Poe nodded and scrubbed his hand across his face. "I'm good to fly."
The General sat the cup down and stood up. "You aren't flying right now, son. Come on."
Poe blinked as he found himself partway to Medical with the General under one arm, practically holding him up. "What?"
"You're safe, Poe. Just walk."
He knew orders when he heard them, so Poe quit worrying about BB-8 and whether Finn might have survived. He walked.
Poe felt like his smile was going to split his face wide open as BB-8 just about knocked people over to get to him. "BB-8! Buddy!" He knelt and patted at BB-8's head as the droid beeped at him about having found Poe's jacket.
He looked up and there was Finn, in his jacket, hurrying towards them. "Finn!" He grabbed the man into a tight hug. They talked about the jacket for a moment before they were off to find the General. Poe knew what it meant for Finn to beg to get someone rescued from the First Order.
After the plan was formed, Poe pulled Finn aside. "Hey."
Finn looked at him with so much panic tucked inside that Poe wanted to go find every First Order asshole that had ever hurt Finn so he could shoot them all. "I'm glad you didn't die."
"You too, Finn." Poe patted him on the shoulder. "You're sure you can get the shields down? We didn't get a chance to talk about what you did as a Stormtrooper."
Finn frowned and glanced around the alcove Poe had pulled them into.
Poe felt a spike of fear go through his gut. "Buddy, if you don't know..."
Finn shook his head. "We have to save Rey. I know who can get the shields down. I just...it's a flimsy plan and I can't just leave her there."
Poe gripped Finn's shoulder. "It's important. If we can't stop them they kill us, Finn. All of us." He waved his free hand to indicate the whole base.
Finn nodded. "I know." He looked Poe in the eye. "I'll get the shields down."
Poe had trusted Finn when he'd only needed a pilot, he could trust him now. "Alright." It was the only chance they had anyway. Might as well go out fighting.
Poe landed and watched another X-Wing from the other remaining squad limp in, before popping his cockpit open. He hurried over to the Falcon only to have to dodge out of the way of a medical transport as they whisked Finn away. He caught the arm of the woman Finn had gone to rescue.
"Let go of me!"
"Calm down. They won't let you follow him into surgery."
She shook her arm and pulled until he let go. "He came back for me."
Poe eased her towards the nearest bench as BB-8 beeped worriedly behind him. "Yes, he did."
"He's terrified of the First Order. He was going to run as soon as we got BB-8 to the Resistance. He was going to just go. He wasn't even going to try to fight."
Poe got her sitting and waved off one of his remaining squad when she looked like she was going to approach. "He was raised to be a Stormtrooper. He had every reason to be terrified of them capturing him."
She looked up at him. "Oh. You're him."
Poe knelt in front of her. "Him?"
She nodded. "Poe Dameron, right?"
He nodded. "That's me."
"BB-8 talked about you and Finn knew your name. He said you'd died in a crash getting away from the First Order."
Poe bit his lip. "Well, I had thought he had probably died in the crash, so there's that."
Poe shook her hand. "Pleased to met you, Rey."
"Same." She looked down at her hands in her lap. "I got really mad at him. I told him he needed to fight."
Poe patted her knee. "It's okay."
She looked at him and frowned. "No, it isn't."
He patted her knee again. "No, but it will be. Come on. I'm sure you didn't get fed while being a captive. They certainly didn't feed me." He pushed up to his feet.
She stood up and eyed him as they started towards the main building. "I haven't done anything to earn rations, though."
Poe rubbed his hand over the back of his neck to lay the hairs that had just stood up back down. "I'll explain how it works here later. Right now, let's just say since you fought the First Order, you get to eat. As much as you want to eat."
"You can't give someone unlimited rations. That's just..." She stopped as they turned into the dining hall. "...insane."
The celebrations were in full swing. They'd gotten good at celebrating while mourning over the years. Poe lead them through the crowd to the serving line. He kept to the simple fare that wasn't too spicy or sweet as Rey copied him. She grew a little more bold in her choices about halfway down the line. He kept Rey from picking a dish that would have had her sick later.
He picked a corner to settle them in with a hand signal to his remaining squad that he'd join them later.
Rey stared down at her food for a moment before starting to devour it.
"At least take a breath every other bite."
She rolled her eyes at him as she chewed.
Poe grinned and shoveled food into his mouth as he looked out over the crowd.
"Can I ask you something?"
Poe eyed her as he sat down his fork. "Ask."
"Did you know him? Han?"
"I...knew of him more than anything. I've walked between him and the General arguing before, because that's just how you handle them arguing. Act like it isn't happening." He sighed. "He saved Luke Skywalker and the General. They saved him. That was before I was born."
Rey nodded thoughtfully as she stirred food with her spoon. "The General hugged me. Like I...imagine family would hug."
Poe shoved another forkful of food into his mouth so he wouldn't blurt out what he was thinking about the Force and how all things are connected and how maybe she was family to the General.
She frowned at him.
Poe swallowed and put his fork back down. "You'll find that family isn't always blood relation. You can pick family that you choose for yourself."
She lit up. "Like Finn?"
He smiled at her elation. "Yes, like Finn."
Her expression smoothed out to neutral. "Like you?"
She waved at the room at large with her spoon. "You didn't have to find me a relative quiet corner, or stay with me when you have crewmates to sit with, or try to explain Finn's reasons to me."
"Anyone here would have done the same."
She quirked the corner of her mouth up. "No, they wouldn't."
He was going to protest, but BB-8 rolled into the room clearly looking for them. "Grab your tray. BB-8 wants us."
Poe bribed one of the medics into letting Rey eat the rest of her food outside of Finn's room. He left her the rest of his tray with clear permission given for her to finish his tray too. He hurried after BB-8 so he didn't keep the General waiting any longer.
She was leaning against the main data display in an unusually quiet command center. "Poe."
"General." He leaned against another console facing her. "You wanted to see me?"
"I did." She punched buttons and pulled up numbers on their remaining ships.
He mentally winced at the losses and frowned at the terrible loss of talent. Of his people. "It's bad."
"It is." She punched another button and a system came into view. "Finn took it upon himself to put as much intel on the First Order into the Falcon's computer as he could on the way to Starkiller."
Poe looked over the system and the marked planet. "What is this?"
"Training base. He marked it as stormtroopers and pilots."
"Possibly." She looked over at him. "We need a lot of things now."
"Yeah." Poe looked over the system again. "This asteroid field would give me plenty of cover for a recon mission."
"Uh huh." She turned as BB-8 rolled away from them towards where R2-D2 rested in low power mode. "I'm not sending you right away. I just wanted to run it by you in case you thought it'd be better to send someone else..."
They both turned at the increased beeping and C-3PO's exclamation. R2-D2 came rolling towards them.
"R2?" The General knelt down and swept her hand across the droid's dome.
Poe raised his eyebrows at what the droid was telling the General.
In short order they found themselves staring up at a completed map to Luke Skywalker.
Poe listened to Rey say goodbye to an unconscious Finn from the hallway. She poked Poe in the ribs as she settled against the wall beside him.
"I'm afraid he's going to wake while I'm gone." She bit her lip. "And I'm afraid he won't."
Poe pulled her into a hug. "I'll watch over him. He'll wake up. Promise."
She snorted and shoved on him. "You can't promise that."
He pulled her back in and kissed the top of her head. "I know."
She looked up at him as they parted. "Why aren't you afraid of me?"
Poe found himself a chair to sit in. "Should I be?"
Rey curled herself into a small hunched over miserable looking ball as she sat on the floor in front of him. "I can...do what he did to you."
A spike of cold terror hit him in the spine and speared deep for a moment before he pushed it down and away. "You wouldn't."
She picked at her nails. "I did though. I made a Stormtrooper do what I needed to escape. I made him leave his weapon behind."
"Did you rip into his mind to do it? Did you make him terrified?"
"What?" She frowned up at him. "No. I just shaped the idea that it'd be following orders to do what I needed."
"You didn't show him how he'd failed? Or torment him with how many of his friends would die because of him?"
"No." She wrapped her arms tighter around herself. "He would have been reconditioned because of what I did to him, wouldn't he?"
"The base probably blew up before that could happen to him, but yes. Probably. Don't ever ask Finn that, alright?"
Rey nodded. "After what I did...I'm not sure I should be the one going to find him."
Poe tucked the little curl of hair she kept loose behind her ear. "You need to train. He needs a kick in the ass. You can give him that and he can train you."
She tucked the other curl back. "You didn't answer me about why you don't fear me."
"I grew up on stories of the Force. The Force is the reason BB-8 found you and the both of you found Finn. The Force allows you to do these things, but you..." He poked her in the middle of her forehead. "...decide what to do with it. You didn't hurt that trooper any more than you had to. You'd have picked a different way out if you could have. If you'd thought there was rescue coming you might even have just waited. " He grinned at the shake of her head. "No, I know. My point is that being evil is a choice you would have to make. You don't just stumble into being on the Dark Side."
She nodded thoughtfully.
Poe stood up and held out his hand to her. "Come on. You're going to be late and Chewbacca will leave without you."
"He can't. R2 would make the ship wait for me."
Poe pulled her into a one arm hug. "Droids do seem to like you."
"BB-8 keeps telling them all about me keeping Teedo from selling BB-8 for parts."
"Yes, I've heard that one about as often as you knocking down Finn, the coat thief."
She jabbed him with her elbow so he let her go.
They didn't say anything more as she broke away from him to board the ship.
Poe stood near the General as the Millennium Falcon took off. "She'll find him."
"I hope she gives him a swift kick in the butt." The General eyed him for a moment. "You didn't hear that."
"Of course not, ma'am."
She rolled her eyes as she turned towards him. "Quit with the ma'am, Poe."
He grinned. "Yes, General." He offered his arm to her.
She shook her head and took his arm. "Itching to fly yet? It never took Han long to feel like he was glued to the ground."
"Low level itch. I give it a week before I'm insufferable."
"Good to know." She patted his arm with her free hand. "At some point she's going to tell you that Jedi aren't allowed to have families or emotions or some such crap. Please, for the sake of the galaxy tell her that's a pile of rancor shit."
Poe stared at the General as they walked. "Uh, ma'am..."
"What'd I say?"
She turned them down a corridor towards Medical. "You'll have a time between them, but I think...No. I know that it is worth it." She stopped them outside of Medical. "You are officially off the rotation until Finn wakes up or you get too itchy. Come to me before you scratch your eyes out, understood?"
"Yes?" Poe caught her elbow as she turned to move away. "General."
She smiled at him gently. "He went back into the mouth of the First Order with no plan to get those shields down and you didn't say a word against it. And, I let you all do it because we had no other chance. Don't assume I don't know what love looks like when it's still growing, Dameron. I spent a lot of time with my love in a block of carbonite while I worked out that I did actually love the man. Don't take as long as I did, hmm?"
"I...Yes, General. Thank you."
"Oh. Don't thank me yet. We've never dealt with an ex-Stormtrooper before." She tilted her head to look down her nose at him. "And next time I expect you to tell me he is bluffing or I'll personally blow up your X-Wing, understood?"
Poe nodded. "Understood."
"Good." She smiled sweetly at him and headed off down the corridor. As she turned the corner she looked back at him. "And get some damn sleep!"