“Do you know what’s the worst?” Jess asks, throwing herself onto Poe’s cot. He doesn’t respond beyond a raised eyebrow before he turns back to the mirror, fiddling with the collar of his shirt. “Hey, Dameron, I asked if you knew what’s the worst.”
“I’m waiting with bated breath,” he informs her and she sighs at him in exasperation.
She still had to tell him, because of all the people on the base he might come close to understanding this shit.
She isn’t sure when her life has turned into this, but well.
“Do you know what my go to strategy for impressing girls is?”
Poe nodded, finally deigning to look at her. “Your hotshot piloting skills?”
“My hotshot piloting skills,” she agrees. “Do you see my problem?”
“Rey’s hotshot piloting skills are even more impressive than yours?” he guesses and she frowns at him.
“Okay, one, they’re on par with mine, excuse you,” she says, then sighs. “Who am I kidding, she’s better than me. She’s better than you, no, don’t even, she is.” Poe makes a face at her, but wisely holds in his protest. “It’s the Force, isn’t it. Poe, why is the Force ruining my love life?”
“Alright, first: the green one or the blue one?” he asks, holding up two shirts and she rolls her eyes.
“Blue,” she says at the same time as BB-8 chirps with [Green]. Poe throws one of the shirts onto the bed and starts putting on the other. “Seriously, you’re taking the droid’s opinion over mine.”
[I can monitor Finn’s vitals and so provide reliable data] BB-8 tells her cheerfully, head spinning and she puts her head in her hands for a moment. “You know what, I’m not even gonna.”
“Good. Okay, second. Here’s a novel thought, why don’t you just talk to her?”
“Okay, one, Dameron, you’re useless. Second, seriously, you are useless.”
“I can have my boyfriend talk you up to his best friend?”
“You know an astonishing number of Skywalker trivia,” Finn tells her, placing his tray next to hers in the mess. Jessika blinks at him slowly. Not that she doesn’t enjoy a good non sequitur, she’s a big fan, especially when it messes with Snap, but what the hell.
“What the hell?”
“It’s impressive, I was impressed,” Finn tells her.
“Poe told you,” she concludes and groans. “Of course he told you, you’re gonna be one of those couples who have no secrets from each other.”
“Why would you be with someone you have to keep secrets from?” he asks sweetly and she looks around for some support. Unfortunately, the first person he makes eye contact with is Rey, who grins at her from the food queue she insists on waiting in even though every single person on base would let her skip it and has offered.
“Fuck. How’s my hair?” she mutters between her teeth and Finn gives it a considering look.
“Good?” he tries and she doesn’t even know why she’s asked.
“Also, Finn, she’s training with Skywalker, she’s not gonna be impressed by a bunch of trivia from his Alliance days.”
“I don’t know, I liked the one about Solo and the tauntaun.”
“I’m at least seventy percent sure Solo made that one up though,” she mutters and grins at Rey when she slides onto Finn’s bench. “Hey.”
“Hi,” Rey smiles at her and starts transferring some of her food onto Finn’s plate. The mess personnel is biased as all fuck and Rey gets all the cake. Well, except the cake they save for Dameron, because that man has half the base wrapped around his little finger, because somehow they’ve missed the fact that he’s kind of an asshole.
“Hi,” Jess says, and realises she’s already said ‘hey’ and now it’s weird. Also, she feels like she has crumbs stuck to her chin.
“Hey,” Rey grins and gestures at her tray. “Cake?”
Training with Skywalker, way too pretty to exist, and also shares her cake. How.
“The one about the tauntaun is absolutely true,” Rey says, poking her head under the fighter Jess is working on. “I asked Luke, he confirmed that.”
Luke. Okay. It’s fine, Jess is fine.
She stubs her finger with a wrench and rolls out from under the ship. “Okay, this is seriously awesome. Do you think he’d be open to a few more questions? I have a bet about the Battle of Endor going on with Kare that I would love to win.”
“I can try, but I’m warning you, half of his answers are cryptic non-statements, I think he’s doing this on purpose to train me in patience,” Rey grinned, sitting down on one of the crates by the ship. Jess climbed onto the other, folding one of her legs under her and fishing out a nutrition bar out of her suit’s pocket.
“So, what are you doing here?” she asks and wants to bite her tongue immediately, because she sounds accusatory, like she doesn't want Rey here. Rey however, just smiles and accepts half of the nutrition bar, biting into it happily.
She looks like she actually likes the taste, fake fruit and all.
“Luke’s off to find a friend. He didn’t tell me much, it was cryptic time,” she shrugs. “All I have to do is keep up my training regimen and learn to trust the Force and myself.”
“Okay,” Jess says, nodding. “What does that mean?”
Rey grins at her, teeth and sunshine, and Jess is quite glad she’s sitting down, because her knees go wobbly on her. “I’ll let you know when I figure it out.”
She laughs, can’t help it. “Okay, so what I’m getting is, you basically have the afternoon free? Because I’ve just finished tinkering with my baby here and I’m dying to test it,” she says, patting the hull of her X-wing. “You up for a trip?”
“I don’t think you have much room for a passenger,” Rey says quizzically, and while some part of Jess’ wants to say something about lap sitting, she reins it in just in time. She doesn’t think she’s been that dumb since her school days, honestly.
“You can borrow Poe’s backup.”
“He won’t mind?”
“Not if it’s you. I mean, he probably still wouldn’t let you fly Black One, but that’s because that was his true love before Finn.”
“You know, I once saw them…” Rey bites her tongue, eyes shining. “You know what, nothing. I saw nothing.”
Jess covers her mouth with her hand, holding back a laugh. “Come on, then,” she says, standing up and reaching out to Rey, who doesn’t even hesitate before taking her hand.
Jess thinks she probably should apologise to Dameron, because apparently handholding is just as exciting as he made it seem. She’s not going to apologise, he’d be impossible to live with, but she thinks about it for a total of thirty seconds.
And then they go flying.
It’s clear Rey is used to bigger ships, but she’s a quick study, a true damn natural at this. Her voice is full of excitement and exhilaration on the comms as they speed over the forest, as Jess yells out manoeuvres and Rey follows easily.
It’s like they’re dancing, fitting perfectly, and Jessika has never felt something like this before.
She’s so completely, utterly fucked, she realises when they’re back on solid ground and Rey is taking off her borrowed, a-tad-too-big helmet and running her hand through her hair, laughing.
How does she even deal with this, is what she’d like to know.
“I don’t know how to deal with this. Poe, how do I deal with this?” Rey asks, throwing herself onto the bed rather dramatically and burrowing her head in one of the pillows.
“Is this about some Jedi business, because my experience is limited and mostly spectatorial, you might want to try to the General?”
“Girls, Poe. No one ever told me about girls,” she sighs heavily and Poe considers her for a moment before breaking out a packet of Mon Calamari sweets from his secret stash. They’re made out of seaweeds of some kind, but they’re kind of decadently delicious. He hands the packet to Rey and she unwraps it and bites in. “This is good,” she says, mouth full. “But my point is, do you know how many cute girls there were on Jakku?”
“I can name one,” he sends her a winning grin and she’s rolling her eyes even as she’s grinning around the candy.
“Save it for Finn,” she mutters, her voice laced with exasperation and fondness in equal measures.
“Plenty to go around,” he tells her cheerfully, then tilts his head in consideration. “Is this about Jess?”
“Did Finn tell you?” she asks and Poe almost snorts, except he’s been there just a couple weeks ago, a confused, flustered mess. He owes her more than this.
“I’m gonna deny I ever said this if you tell her, but Jess is like a sister. What am I talking about, of course you’re gonna tell her, just tell her I said annoying little sister,” he mutters and her lips twitches with a smile. “And you are like a long lost sister, so…” he stops, reconsidering. “You know, forget that, this is getting too weird.”
“Getting?” Finn says from the doorway and Poe tries to smile at him and sigh in exasperation at the same time, and it comes out like an enamoured sigh instead. He’ll go with that. “Jess was looking for you.”
“She was?” Rey perks up a little, and Finn grimaces immediately.
“I meant Poe,” he says apologetically. “Temmin’s back, apparently has news.”
Poe is on his feet in a matter of seconds - Wexley has been investigating suspicious Order activity, following the reports of construction on a significant scale. They’re not ready to consider it could be another superweapon, but some people never learn and the Empire did build two Death Stars.
“Thanks,” he says, kissing Finn’s forehead, Finn’s fingers running up his wrist in a quick caress. “Rey,” he says seriously, turning to her, “I know it’s terrifying, but tell her. It worked well for me because Finn is much braver than I am, but I should have told him months ago.”
“Yes, but you were both pretty damn obvious.”
Poe isn’t quite sure what to tell her without betraying Pava’s confidence. And she’d kill him for that, no matter his intentions, and she’d be quite right to. “Yes,” he says instead. “Yes we were.”
Jess is pretty sure he was quite stealthy while sneaking out of the party, but Poe is climbing out of the window and into the railing about ten minutes later and she sighs, saluting him with her bottle of Rodian ale.
It’s a terrible swill, unearthed from somewhere by Snap’s wife, but it does the trick and quickly.
“You’re moping and BB-8 is worried,” he tells her. “And believe me, when BB-8 is worried, we’re all worried.”
“Sorry to worry BB-8,” she tells him, clicking her bottle against the glass he’s holding. “Not really in a mood for partying, I guess. And someone needs to be relatively sober to haul all of your drunk asses back to the quarters.”
“We drew lots for that one, C3PO is the designated driver tonight,” he says lightly, like he hasn’t been nursing the same drink for the past two hours like the mother hen he is. “But if anyone should really raise the roof celebrating tonight, it’s you. We’ve all kicked ass, but that was some amazing flying you pulled off there, Pava.”
She can’t help a grin at that. “I was pretty awesome.”
“Kare counted the tallies, you know, you’ve matched my kills,” he adds and she rolls her eyes.
“Yeah, that would mean a little more, Dameron, if you didn’t decide to land on the moon in the middle of the battle because your boyfriend went off comms.”
His face flickers through smugness and embarrassment, and he shrugs at her. “Still. Why are you moping, Pava?” he asks flatly and she gives him a disbelieving look.
“You saw her today. She saved the galaxy, Dameron, and it’s not like it was the first time.”
“My boyfriend helped,” he tells her, smugness back in full now, and she’s startled into a laugh.
“I’ve heard,” she says, because everyone has heard. And if they hadn’t yet somehow, Poe was definitely going to fix it, he practically vibrated with smug pride. “Why aren’t you off celebrating with him?”
“He’s busy trying to teach Rey how to dance. The problem with this is, he doesn’t know how either.”
“And you’re missing this?” she mutters, but she knows her eyes are shining and she knows she raised her head a little too quickly. Poe does her courtesy of not commenting, just shrugs.
“Iolo is recording it. And I said I’ll go find somebody with actual dancing skills to teach them.”
“That sounded suspiciously like a challenge, Dameron,” she says, straightening up. She can’t turn it down, really, not with the flimsy excuse it offers to dance with Rey.
She’s pretty damn sure Poe is the one who switches the music to a slow piece, but she can’t even bring herself to be angry, because Rey’s pulling at her hand and laughing, cheeks flushed. Rey’s probably a little tipsy, even though Poe has been watering her drinks with water like the mother hen he is, and her laugh is loud, and her hands are warm, her movements just a little lazy as she leans into Jess and lets her guide her through the dancefloor.
Jess hates admitting that Dameron was right about anything, but he’s too busy muttering something into Finn’s ear and making the guy fluster and laugh, so she figures she’s safe.
Then Rey’s hand is on her waist and she thinks she’s as far from safe as possible.
There’s an energetic knock at her door and Jess raises her head from over the converter she’s tinkering with. “Shit,” she mutters, looking at the time. She’s cutting it close to the ceremony, apparently. “Come in,” she yells, expecting one of her squadron mates. Instead, it’s Rey, poking her head into the room uncertainly.
“Hey, need help.”
“Come on in,” Jess says, almost casually. She picks up a rag to clean her hands. “What can I do you for?” she asks, and mentally courses herself. Smooth, real smooth, Pava.
Rey just grins. “I have a hair issue,” she says with a laugh. “I’ve always done it the same way, it kept it out of the way while I was working and I got used to it. But Leia sent over a dress for the ceremony and it’s the fanciest thing I’ve ever seen in my life, and somehow the usual buns just don’t seem right?”
“You want me to help you with your hair?” Jess asks to confirm and Rey nods hopefully.
“Finn tried to braid it, but he’s not very good. I thought I’d ask Poe, he seems to have a good grip on that sort of thing,” no kidding, Dameron’s hair is legendary, “but he’s with Leia. And,” she pauses, biting her lip, and honestly, Jess must have done something to deserve this, good or bad, she’s not sure. “Your hair is always nice.”
Most of the time Jess just does the usual braids up thing because it works well with the helmet, not because she thinks it’s all that pretty. Now, with her hand self-consciously up to her hair, she’s suddenly really happy at her usual choices.
She tried cutting her hair short once, at the beginning of her training. It seems like much less of a hassle - but that made it all worse, hair sticking out in every direction every time she took her helmet off, no matter what product she used and how hard she tried to wrangle it. Apparently not everyone could pull off Dameron’s signature tousled look, damn him.
“Okay, sit down, I’ll see what I can do. Braids and up?”
“Sounds like a plan,” Rey nods seriously, as if they were discussing a battle plan. Jess fishes out a hairbrush and works it gently through the slight tangles, Rey’s hair falling to her shoulders in waves. “This is nice,” Rey says quietly, on exhale, her eyes closing a little, and Jess cannot deal with this, she cannot be expected to deal with this.
She feels like she’s holding her breath throughout the entire process, and hands Rey a small mirror afterwards. “I hope this is alright?”
“This is brilliant, you’re so…” Rey stops and looks at her, and Jess can’t handle that smile and those eyes. “Thank you.”
Half an hour later she’s standing by the podium in her dress uniform and trying not to think about the feel of Rey’s soft hair under her fingers.
Rey’s dress is indeed quite a fancy thing, reminding Jess of old holos of the General, from her Senate days. Jess has never admitted it to anyone, especially not to Dameron, but she had a holo of young Leia Organa speaking at an assembly playing a lot on loop when she was a teenager. With her hair up like this and in the long dress, Rey looks as regal as Princess Organa did. But then she turns and winks at Jess, mouth twitching in a smile, and Jess is so, so gone.
It all almost comes crashing down on Snoke’s base. In some ways, it does come crashing down.
The battle starts off really well - Finn is with the ground team, so Dameron is showing off, flying low and taking occasional shots at the troopers on the ground, and well into double digits on his TIE kills before some of the new pilots get one.
Jessika isn’t far behind, she might also be showing off a little, because Rey and Skywalker are with the ground team, sneaking into the base.
“Do you two wanna just take care of this while the rest of us go for some kaf?” Snap asks cheerfully, and Jessika fires at the TIE on Iolo’s tail.
“How about you keep up instead, Wexley?” she offers sweetly and hears familiar laughter over the comms.
So, it starts off really well, and then goes all to hell about twenty minutes in, when Rey and Skywalker go off comms and Finn is in their ears, asking if anyone has visual on them.
She’s distracted, looking at the ground instead of the skies, clicking through the comm frequencies until Dameron’s voice is in her ear. “Jess. Best you can do is clean the way out for her.”
“Didn’t you panic and land the last time this happened with Finn?”
“Yeah, but you’re smarter than me, Pava,” he says fondly.
She’s not quite sure of that.
She channels the fear into anger, which is probably against every damn Jedi teaching she’s ever read about, but thankfully you probably can’t go Dark Side if you’re not Force sensitive. She hopes.
She channels the worry into annoyance and the twitch in her fingers into kills, and it works for a while, she doesn’t think for a while, not until the sky is clearer and Poe’s voice is back on the comms, coming through the haze. “We have eyes on the Falcon, let’s get home.”
Jess exhales loudly enough everyone in the squadron can probably hear her, Snap’s voice a little concerned when he asks “Are you alright?”
“Yeah. I swear, if Rey’s alive, I’m asking her out, there’s no way that could be more scary than this was.”
“Finally,” Wexley mutters, Dameron echoing the sentiment with a few choice words, but it’s the new voice on the comms that has Jess’ heart beat frantically.
“Okay, what?” Rey says, clear and alive. Jess wants to laugh and cry and also maybe jump into hyperspace and never ever come out. “I mean, yeah. Yes.”
It’s the most nervous flight to the base she’s ever lived through, but then they’re home and she’s climbing down from the cockpit, and Rey is there and she must have ran all the way from the Falcon the moment it touched down, but then she stops and shuffles her feet a little, biting her lip, and Jess cannot honestly deal with this, what is happening.
“Fuck’s sake, Pava,” Snaps says, and Poe’s pushing at her shoulder on his way towards Finn, and then Jess is moving, and Rey is moving, and she honestly cannot say who actually moved first. They’ll argue about it later, quite a bit, but for now, it’s Rey’s lips on hers, and her arms around her waist, and it feels like dancing, and it feels like flying, and it feels like everything.
“Ten credits says they’re gonna be worse than Finn and Dameron,” Iolo says mournfully and Jess grins against Rey’s lips.
It’s a good bet, she truly intends to.