Poe should’ve known that something was wrong. There were signs, obvious signs, and he should have been paying better attention. For one thing, Finn didn’t show up for breakfast. And Finn always shows up for breakfast. After a lifetime of subsisting solely on protein packs and other tasteless garbage, Finn attacks every meal like he’s eating the food for the first time. Which, for the first couple of weeks, was true. Poe should’ve known that something was wrong then, gone looking for Finn when he didn’t spot his familiar smile in the mess. But Poe was exhausted from his own mission, half asleep that morning, his cheek pillowed in his hand as he halfheartedly ate his food. He didn’t notice. He should have noticed.
As if that wasn’t obvious enough, Rey got a headache. Which wouldn’t have been unusual if it had been anybody but Rey. She doesn't get sick. As far as Poe knows, she’s never been sick in her life, not even during all her years inhaling the toxic air on Jakku. Something about being one of the last remaining Jedi, the Force making her immune system basically bulletproof. But that day she had been quiet, not her usual talkative self. She didn’t eat much either, just picked at the food before hanging her head in her hands. Poe assumed it was residual exhaustion from training with Luke Skywalker, not that her training was by any means complete. But Rey was a good fighter, one of their best, even untrained. And with the Republic in shambles after the First Order attack, they needed her. Skywalker himself had refused to come out of hiding, but when General Organa had sent for Rey, she’d returned.
He should’ve realized. He should have paid more attention. And now Finn is missing. General Organa assured them that it was just a routine recon mission; Finn knows the most about the First Order’s Star Destroyer, considering he was practically raised on board. It makes sense that he would accompany the team. But they were supposed to be back a day ago, and there’s been no sign of Finn or the rest of the mission squad.
“We need to find them,” Poe says at the emergency tac meeting. “I’ll head up a flight team, scout it out, and get them back.”
“I’ll come – ” Rey says before her voice cuts out. She winces, scrubbing her hand over her face, and when the pain seems to abate somewhat, she looks at the assembled rebels with wide eyes. “They’re dead,” she says with the unflinching confidence of a Jedi. “The team, they’re all dead.” Poe’s stomach bottoms out and Rey winces, her hand wandering to her throat like she can’t breathe. Poe reaches out to steady her and Rey – fierce, strong, independent Rey – lets him. That’s what scares him the most. “They have him,” she says, her voice so soft that only Poe can hear her. “They have Finn.” She stands upright, and Poe can see how much it’s costing her. Pain flickers in her eyes but she doesn’t flinch. “The First Order has Finn,” she says, looking General Organa in the eye. It used to bother Poe, how easily Rey spoke to the General. There is a kinship between them that doesn’t extend to the other soldiers. To them, she’s the General, but to Rey, she’s family.
Poe is thankful for the bond now. General Organa doesn’t hesitate for a second, barking orders and getting a team assembled to recover Finn. He’s too valuable to be allowed back into the hands of the First Order, she says. He knows too much about their base and their plans. Poe doesn’t give a steaming pile of Sarlacc shit about the base, not now. All he can think about is getting Finn back to the base safe and sound.
“I’ll lead the charge,” Poe volunteers immediately, but the General shakes her head.
“No,” she says. Poe stops dead in his tracks. She can’t be serious. He’s the best pilot they’ve got; he should head up this mission. “You and Rey are too close to this, and you’re too important to lose. I need you both here.”
“Leia,” Rey starts, quickly correcting herself. “General. We’re your best chance at – ” She winces again and Poe’s heart clenches, seeing the pain flicker over her face before she tamps it down again. “We can get him back.”
“I can’t lose all three of you. You two are grounded until we get Finn back,” the General says, her tone brooking no argument. Then, as if sensing more dissention: “That’s an order.” Poe’s mouth immediately clamps shut, years of military service kicking in. Rey, not used to taking orders after a lifetime as a scavenger, looks like she’s about to protest further, but another spasm of pain quickly silences her.
“Get her back to her bunk,” General Organa says, not unkindly. “I’ll have a medic sent down.” Poe nods.
“Come on,” he says, looping Rey’s arm around his neck and helping her back to her room. There isn’t exactly much by way of space on the base, but Rey quickly made her bunk her own. Poe recognizes the some of the trinkets from Jakku that Rey went back for a couple of months ago. He doesn’t understand why she would want mementos from her old life, but Finn says that they remind her of what she’s gained since then. Friends. Family. And then there’s the small matter of being a living avatar of the Force, but the rest of the Resistance is much more concerned with Rey’s newfound powers than she has ever been. Still, both of them had gotten an earful after Poe had helped Rey fly the unsanctioned mission to Jakku to recover her things. But it made her happy, so Poe supposed it was worth it.
“I’ve never seen you like this,” Poe murmurs once he’s gotten Rey settled in her bed. She draws the sheets up to her chin, shivering despite the blasting heat in the barracks.
“I’ve never been like this,” Rey says. “Is this what is feels like to be sick?”
“For the rest of us mere mortals, yeah,” Poe says, forcing a smile for her benefit. “You rest okay? I’ll let you know as soon as Finn comes home.” Poe moves to leave her bunk, when Rey’s hand catches his.
“They need to move fast,” she says, her voice taking on that smooth, sure quality that makes the hair on the back of Poe’s neck stand on end.
“General Organa is sending her best people to get him back for us,” Poe assures her.
“She’s not sending us,” Rey protests, her voice returned to normal.
“Go to sleep,” Poe says by way of answer, trying not to let her words bother him. She’s right. They’ve been sidelined. Rey is the single strongest fighter they have and Poe can fly better than anyone in the galaxy. It should be them out there.
Poe tries to rest but the idea of Finn being back in the hands of the First Order makes sleep impossible. He paces around the base, restless and anxious, until he finds himself on the roof. Settling himself against a wall, Poe tips his head back to look at the stars. He’s always loved them. When he was young, he and his mother would map out the constellations and galaxies, and she would tell him all about the places she’d visited when she was a pilot. They were a promise, even then, of freedom and adventure. Poe knew from the moment his mother first took him up in her retired ship that he wanted to fly for the rest of his life. The universe was his to traverse, and he was good. Damn, he was good. But now, all of his skill and experience doesn’t amount to shit. Finn is out there somewhere, buried in Poe’s stars, and there’s no way for Poe to get to him.
Soon, the sky stops being comforting and it starts to feel like it's mocking him for his inability to act. Poe heads back inside, wanders around for a little while, before ending up back in the control room. General Organa is already there.
“If it makes you feel better,” she says, her dark eyes on him as he walks into the room, “I’m worried about him too.”
“I know, ma’am,” Poe says. No matter how hard she is on them, there’s no doubt that the General cares about her troops.
“Tonight, call me Leia,” she says. “I won’t tell the others.”
“Thank you ma’am – sorry. Thank you, Leia,” Poe corrects. They stand in silence for a long while, watching the stats of the soldiers being sent after Finn. They should be at the Destroyer by now; they should already be inside. All of their pulses are good, steady. With any luck, they’ll be headed home within the hour.
“I know how much he means to you,” the General says. He has permission, but Poe can’t think of her as anything but the leader of the Resistance. “To both of you.” Then why didn’t you let us go and get him? Poe thinks, but he keeps his mouth shut. “I need you to know how important the three of you are to this movement. Without you…” Her words trail off as the stats on the holo-screen start spiking. Something is happening. This is a black op, so they’ve got no sound, no video, just the stats. Poe slams his hand on the table as the heart rates start flat lining, one by one. They’ve been blown. The First Order discovered them.
“Dammit,” Poe swears. “Dammit dammit dammit!” They’re dead. The extraction team. Pilots and soldiers that Poe has fought with for years. Good people, all killed in less than two minutes. The General bows her head, her mouth pressed into a thin, grim line.
“Dameron,” she says. “Do not do anything rash. We’ll come up with another plan of action.”
“General – ”
“We will find a way to get Finn back,” she says. “But you are not to act without authorization.” She leaves without another word, presumably to rally the others and come up with another plan. Poe remains in the control room for several long minutes after the General walks out, staring at the stats of the now-dead pilots on the screen.
Poe watches the stats of the now-dead pilots on the screen until two men appear in the control room. Escorts, no doubt. The General might trust him with some of the Resistance’s most sensitive missions, but she doesn’t trust him when it comes to Finn. There’s a reason she’s stayed in charge for so long. She doesn’t miss a trick.
“Sweet of you guys to help me find my bunk, but I can make it on my own,” Poe says, shooting the soldiers a disarming smile. One of them shrugs.
“General’s orders.” Poe nods like he understands. “If it makes you feel any better, she’s got guards on the scavenger too.” Poe’s smile withers, and for a moment he’s glad that Finn isn’t here to hear them talk about Rey that way. Some of the soldiers are still suspicious of her. They whisper she’s a plant, a traitor, a First Order spy that’s taken them all for fools. How else can they explain the miraculous appearance of her abilities, they ask, or her very convenient cover story of being abandoned on Jakku for fourteen years? Rey just brushes off the accusations, saying that if they think she’s a traitor, they’re more then welcome to say it to her face, but Finn takes it a little more personally.
So does Poe, as a matter of fact.
“Her name is Rey,” Poe says, his voice cool and pleasant even as he shoves his shoulder into the soldier’s stomach. The air bursts out of the man’s lungs in a whoosh, and Poe drops to one knee, sweeping his leg out in a low arc and knocking the second guard’s legs out from under him. He doesn’t go back for seconds, racing down the hall and blowing into the hangar. Despite the fact that he just assaulted two of his own people, the area is relatively quiet. Still, Poe moves quickly. Word will travel that he slipped away from his escorts, and he doesn’t want to be around when General Organa hears about it. There’s going to be hell to pay, but Poe isn’t thinking about that now.
Familiar beeping sounds behind him and Poe looks to see BB-8 on his tail.
“Hey buddy,” Poe says, the sight of his astromech droid lifting his spirits. “You ready to go?” BB-8 chimes his assent and rolls under Poe’s X-Wing. It’s quick work to gear up and Poe is in his seat in less than four minutes. It’s got to be some kind of record.
“You ready to fly then?” Poe nearly jumps out of his skin as Rey’s voice comes from his backseat. “I’ve already started the engine.”
“How the – dammit Rey!” Poe splutters. “How’d you slip your tail?”
“Oh you know me,” Rey replies. “I’m persuasive. But there are two very angry guards behind me who will be waking up any moment, so I suggest we go. Quickly.” The General is going to court martial them both after this, but they’re already in too deep to go back without Finn. Rey leans over her seat, eyes on the horizon. “Let’s go get our boy.”
They’re hurting him. Rey can feel it. Master Luke warned her about this. He said that making connections was dangerous, that being as Force-sensitive as she is, getting too close to someone meant taking on their pain as her own. It’s happened before. Once, when Poe was injured during a training exercise, another when Finn burned himself on his lightsaber. They weren’t so much hurts then as twinges. Little vibrations through the Force, allowing her to keep tabs on the people that are important to her. But she’s never experienced anything like this. When it started three days ago, she assumed she was just getting sick. It had never happened before, but there's a first time for everything. Then word came that Finn had been sent on a mission to scout out the First Order, and that’s how Rey knew. That they have him, and they’re hurting him.
That’s not the worst of it. The worst part is knowing that no matter how much it hurts her, whatever they’re doing to Finn is worse. They’re killing him, and she and Poe are running out of time.
Rey tries to control her breathing as another onslaught threatens to drown her. Finn is strong, but the First Order is merciless. They’ve been steadily worsening their tactics since they captured him. Which means that Finn has managed to resist them so far, but he’s close to breaking. How could he not be? They’ve had him for seventy-two hours. It’s a miracle he’s lasted this long.
“They’re hurting him, aren’t they?” Poe says, hearing her breath catch. Of course he noticed. Poe sees everything.
“Yeah,” Rey says through her teeth. “They are.”
“We’re going to get him back,” Poe says, his voice projecting unwavering confidence, but Rey can feel his pain too. He’s so worried about Finn it’s making him sick. He hasn’t taken an easy breath since before Finn went missing and it’s starting to get to him.
“Poe,” Rey says, laying her hand on Poe’s shoulder and trying to project as much surety as she can muster. “We’re going to get him back.” Poe exhales once, some of the pain and tension draining out of him.
“I know what you’re doing,” Poe says softly. Rey immediately retracts her hand, guilt surging through her. Sometimes, the Force comes so naturally to her that she doesn’t even know she’s using it. But Master Luke has made it very clear that manipulating the wills of others is the fastest way to the Dark Side. I’m sorry. The words are halfway out of her mouth before Poe reaches for her again. “Thank you.”
She almost replies. Almost thanks him for still trusting her, even with her new abilities. He has no reason to. When Rey first came to the base, she was been met with suspicion, if not outright distrust. It didn’t bother her. These people had nothing on the rabble she’d had to contend with on Jakku, and if any one of them wanted to settle their grudge, they all knew where to find her. Besides, she had Leia and she had Finn. She had Chewie and Master Luke, even if the latter was a disgruntled, enigmatic old man. She might have had Han Solo, but his monster of a son took him before she got a chance to get to know him. Rey still stung from the his loss, and she wasn’t the only one. The whole of the Resistance mourned when Han was murdered. Leia still got quiet sometimes at night when she thought that no one could see her.
For someone who’d been alone her whole life, having four people was more than enough. And then Poe. Rey never expected Poe. He hung around Finn all the time, quick with a smile and a joke, and Finn obviously adored him. Rey kept out of their way, not wanting to intrude, or ruin anything between them. But soon, Poe would accompany her on short hops to local planets, watching her six. He even came with her to Jakku when she went back for her things from the AT-AT, though they’d both earned extra duty for that unsanctioned adventure. Sometimes, he’d come to the training rooms when she was sparring with the other recruits, usually many of them versus the one of her. Then, the three of them would sit together in the mess hall, and suddenly, without any of them saying it, Poe had added himself to her little family. After that, the three of them had become inseparable. They lived in the same barracks, close enough that when Rey woke up screaming from the nightmares, one of them always came running. Sometimes, they stayed until morning. Rey was sure to return the favor one night when she woke up with a start, feeling Finn’s terror all the way from across the room. She stayed with him until the nightmare passed before slipping back to her room. Sometimes, the Force is invasive, and Finn’s already had too many people messing around in his head. Rey isn’t going to be one of them.
When there isn’t anything else to do, the three of them sit in Rey’s bunk, playing card games she’d made up during the long, lonely hours on Jakku. Finn always picked up the rules quicker than Poe, who shouted foul but smiled through the games, though he never won. Sometime they all fell asleep in an exhausted heap, leaning on one another until morning. Those were the mornings Rey felt safest, and she knew her boys felt the same.
And with Finn gone, it was as if they’d both lost a piece of themselves. A piece they were racing to retrieve.
Rey is about to thank Poe for, well, for just being himself, when she doubles over in pain. She clenches her teeth together to keep from screaming, but a ragged sob still escapes. Her vision goes blurry and then she’s not in the X-Wing anymore. She’s on the First Order’s Destroyer. She sees Finn. He’s strapped in the chair where both Rey and Poe were questioned. A Stormtrooper stands behind him, dressed in shiny silver instead of stark white. Captain Phasma.
Kylo Ren is there too. He stands in front of Finn, his hand outstretched, and even in her non-corporeal form, Rey recognizes what he’s doing. Hot rage burns through her at the sight of him, and she tries to move towards them both, but Finn’s pain renders her immobile. It won’t do any good anyway. She’s just a ghost, a manifestation of the Force, and she can’t do anything but watch as Kylo tortures one of the people she loves most in the world. Finn doesn’t make a sound, but he’s still screaming. His voice is gone, rusted away after so many hours of their questioning. Dried blood covers nearly every inch of exposed skin, and Rey’s heart clenches to see what they did to him.
“Finn,” she says, somehow willing herself closer. She ghosts around Kylo and the Captain, stretching out her hand to Finn. She can’t touch him, of course she can’t, but she loans him as much strength as she can.
It’s not enough. It’s not nearly enough and Kylo steps closer to them, doubling his efforts. Finn can’t scream, so Rey does it for him. He’s killing them. He’s killing Finn and Rey is certain that his next breath is going to be his last when suddenly Kylo stops.
He stops and he turns his attention to her. Rey can feel his gaze as if she’s standing there herself. She freezes. It’s impossible. He can’t see her. It’s –
“Hello Rey,” Kylo Ren says, his voice distorted by the black mask. “I eagerly await our reunion.” Then, as quickly as the pain came, it’s gone. Kylo, Finn, Phasma, the Destroyer, all of it.
“Rey!” Poe’s voice filters back to her slowly, like sand through a sieve. “Rey!”
“I’m okay,” she says, though she’s far from it. “I’m fine.” Her heart is pounding so hard she’s sure it’ll break her ribs, and her breath comes in short, ragged gasps. “Keep flying. We’ve got to get to him now.” The pain is gone now, replaced by blank numbness, and that scares her most of all. At least before she knew that he was alive, but now –
We’re coming for you Finn, Rey thinks desperately. Just hang on a little longer.
It’s easy, that’s all Rey can think. Poe manages to dock the X-Wing without firing a single shot, and there’s no one in sight as they sneak aboard the enormous vessel.
“They know we’re here,” Rey whispers, her hand straying to the saber clipped on her belt.
“Funny,” Poe replies. “I was thinking the same thing.” Rey is thankful for his steadiness. Having him close by makes her feel a touch more confident despite the fact that they’re walking into an obvious trap. BB-8 chimes softly.
“Good to know we’re on the same page,” Rey murmurs. She hates that Poe has to be here again. She knows what Kylo did to him – exactly what he did to her, only Poe didn’t have the Force to protect him. “Come on.” Poe follows her without question, watching her back as they prowl through the belly of the ship. Rey doesn’t resist the tug guiding her towards Finn, doesn’t question it. “He’s through there,” Rey says, stopping in front of a steel door.
“You get him,” Poe says, cocking his blaster. “I’ll keep the shell-heads busy.” Rey nods once before bursting through the door, her lightsaber at the ready.
“Finn,” Rey hisses, forcing herself not to look at him before she makes sure the room is safe. Or, at least, empty. “Finn.” She quickly sweeps the room before rushing to his side. She thought that seeing him in her vision would prepare her somehow, but the reality is far worse. His skin is torn and burned in at least a dozen places, blood and sweat mingling together all over his bare chest. “Bleeding, falling stars,” she swears, pressing her fingers against his neck. He’s still breathing, thank the Maker, but not by much. “Finn, please wake up. I need you to wake up.” Rey cups his face in her hands, but there’s still nothing. “Please. You came back for me, and now I’m coming back for you. That’s what we do, Finn. We find each-other, even when it should be impossible.” Please. She can’t lose him, not him. Not Finn.
Outside, there’s an enormous crash, and then Poe bursts in, firing his blaster wildly.
“We’ve got company!” he shouts, getting off two more shots before a small army of Stormtroopers descends upon them. Rey doesn’t think, instinct taking over as she activates her lightsaber, firing up the dual blades and deflecting the blasts as they come. Master Luke always says that a lightsaber is different than a quarterstaff, but fourteen years of muscle memory is hard to get rid of, and eventually he’d acquiesced to a double-bladed saber. Thank the stars for it now.
“Get him out of here!” Rey yells, maneuvering herself so that she’s in front of Poe and Finn. With a flick of her wrist, Rey releases Finn’s restraints. “I’ll hold them off.”
“But – ”
“Do it!” Rey orders, turning her attention back to the onslaught of white-armored soldiers. Moving fluidly like Master Luke taught her, Rey carves out a path for Poe follow. “Get to the ship,” Rey says in the split second of stillness before the second wave of troops arrives. “I’ll be right behind you.” This time, Poe doesn’t argue, hobbling away as fast as he can with an unconscious Finn on his back.
“There she is!” one of the Stormtroopers shouts, seeing Rey in the hall. She doesn’t flinch, turning towards them. Her will is steel, and she channels every bit of power she can into a single command:
“Stop!” The Stormtroopers turn on their heels, and behind her, someone claps. Rey whirls around, holding her saber in a defensive position.
“Very impressive. You’ve learned some new tricks since the last time we saw one another,” Kylo Ren says, and Rey feels that same hatred coiling in her stomach before she clamps down on it. Anger stems from the Dark Side. Slowly, he removes his mask, revealing an ugly red scar marring the right side of his face. The scar she gave him. “So have I.” Rey darts forward, swinging her lightsaber in a high arc. Kylo’s own saber is activated in a moment, parrying her thrust and slashing in kind. It looks different than before, less like it’s about to spontaneously combust, and he swings it faster than she remembers. He must have worked on it since their last encounter, done something to stabilize the damaged crystal core. He’s faster now, more direct, and Rey quickly finds herself on the defensive. “Did you feel it?” Kylo asks as they dance around the interrogation room, trading blows. “Did you feel his pain? What we did to him?” Rey’s vision goes red and she attacks him with renewed vigor. Kylo neatly evades her, still talking as if they’re out to drinks at a cantina, and Rey isn’t trying her best to kill him. “I wonder if he’ll ever recover. Somehow I doubt it.”
“You’re a monster!” Rey screams, throwing herself at him. For a moment, she thinks she might best him, but Kylo Ren whirls faster than she’s ever seen anyone move, and then her world is nothing but pain. Rey manages to slash at him once more before Kylo’s hand is outstretched and her body is rendered immobile. Her back is aflame and even frozen, she can feel blood turning her skin crimson.
“I can feel your anger,” Kylo says, circling around her. Rey struggles to breathe through the pain and the rage, but she can’t break free. “Your hatred. Skywalker would have you deny these emotions, seal them off.” Kylo steps directly into her line of sight, his eyes wild. “But if you use it, you could be stronger than any of them. I know the power inside of you, I know what it’s like to – ”
“You don’t know anything about me,” Rey hisses between clenched teeth.
“Don’t I?” Rey wants to scream, she wants to curse and fight, but something splinters in her chest and she can only close her eyes. Suddenly, she can see Finn’s smile, the triumph on Poe’s face when they’ve completed a mission. They’re her family, and they’re waiting for her.
“No. You don’t,” Rey says. “You are a foolish, sullen little boy and your father would have been ashamed of you.” All her anger evaporates, and just like that, she can move under her own power again. At the mention of Han, Kylo Ren snaps, the taunting demeanor replaced by something cracked and crazed in an instant. He lunges at her and Rey has only a moment to bring up her weapon before it’s batted aside. She can barely move fast enough to block his attacks, and with the wound on her back slowing her down, Rey is quickly backed into a corner. She grits her teeth as Kylo slashes his lightsaber, her own saber barely moving into position before he has the chance to open her throat.
“If you will not join me,” Kylo Ren snarls, the red of his lightsaber reflecting in his eyes. “You will be slaughtered like the rest of them.” Rey screams as the heat of Kylo’s saber sears her skin, one of the side-blades plunging deep into her shoulder.
“Not today Ben.” Rey hears the voice a split second before a blast hits Kylo square in the back. Rey doesn’t waste a moment, taking the opportunity to slash at Kylo’s legs before racing into the hall. Poe takes her hand and Rey is thankful for the anchor as they sprint back to the bay. Her wounds are screaming, but adrenaline and fear course through her, pushing the pain to the side for the moment. Kylo must have been confident in his ability to convert or kill her, so there’s no one waiting for them in the hangar.
“Thank you,” Rey gasps, throwing herself into the back of the X-Wing where an unconscious Finn is already strapped in. For coming back. Somehow, she doesn’t think she’ll ever get used to it, not after a lifetime of waiting for a family that never came.
“We came to get Finn out of this place, I sure as hell ain’t leaving you there,” Poe says, and then they’re gone, shooting home at lightspeed.
Poe stays in Finn’s room in the infirmary. Rey would have been there too, but the General ordered her into her own hospital bed as soon as they landed, and she had no choice but to obey. Honestly, Poe considers them lucky not to be court martialed.
The medics patched Finn up hours ago, took care of all the superficial damage, but he still hasn’t come out of it. They say that it’s up to him now. Whatever the First Order did to him, it’s psychological as much as physical, and he’s got to fight his way back to them on his own.
“Come on buddy,” Poe whispers on the third morning. There’s still no sign of Rey, and Poe wishes that she could be beside him. She makes him feel stronger, more sure of himself, but the battle with Ben left her much worse for wear. “You’ve got to come back to us.” To me. Poe never noticed how dark the base had been before Finn. But having him with the Resistance, it’s like having a sun that just shines for him. He’s gotten so used to the light that his whole world is dark without Finn’s smile waiting for him around every corner.
Poe isn’t good at this. Leading up missions that could easily be called ‘suicidal,’ sure, sign him up. Wisecracking while on his knees, looking into the eyes of the most powerful Sith since Vader? Without hesitation. But this? Waiting around for Finn to wake up, unable to do anything… He’s no good at it. He’s not built for it. He is action, movement, purpose. Not this. Poe thought the last time was bad, when Finn had tried to go up against Ben with a lightsaber he barely knew how to turn on, but then Finn had managed to come out of it within seventy-two hours. Poe had been alerted the moment he woke up, and when Poe rushed into the room, Finn had smiled like Poe hung the goddamn moon. All three of them. And then, all of a sudden, he didn’t care about anyone else in the room, or who was watching. Poe kissed that boy like his life depended on it and Finn smiled as he kissed him back.
“Please, Finn,” Poe whispers, winding his fingers through Finn’s. They’re cold and still. “Please, please wake up. I need you.” Now that he’s got him, Poe doesn’t want a life without him in it.
Poe wakes to a hand on his shoulder. He startles awake, unaware that he’d even fallen asleep.
“He’s not dreaming,” Rey says softly, settling onto the arm of Poe’s chair.
“Is that good or bad?” Poe asks, rubbing the sleep from his eyes and carding long fingers through his hair.
“I don’t know,” Rey replies simply. Yawning, Poe turns to look at her, struck by how beautiful she looks in the half-light. Her hair is loose, hanging halfway down her back instead of in its customary triple buns, and her eyes look almost gold as she gazes down at Finn. How in the galaxy has Poe survived without them for so long? Before Finn, he never really saw people. He had friends, sure, tons of them. Colleagues, co-pilots, people he trusted and respected, but Poe always felt separate from them somehow. Then Finn saved his life, and Poe’s whole world turned on its axis. And just as soon as he thought he was used to seeing things sideways, in came Rey, turning him all the way upside-down. He loves them, Poe knows that for a fact, loves them like he’s never loved anyone in his life.
“How are you feeling?”
“Like I got into a fight with a Sith and lost,” Rey says, wincing as she rolls her heavily-bandaged shoulder. Poe feels a flash of anger, vividly remembering how her skin had blistered after coming in contact with Ben’s lightsaber. That isn’t the worst of her injuries – Poe knows that under her cotton pajamas, she’s sporting a gash on her back that matches Finn’s. Ben, you fucking bastard, Poe thinks furiously, placing his hand over Rey’s. She sighs, winding her fingers through his. “I used to hate it.”
"Touching,” Rey says softly. Poe makes as if to pull his hand away but Rey holds fast. “Growing up with scavengers doesn’t offer a lot of opportunities for hand-holding and coddling. I mean Jakku is no Tatooine. I was free, after a fashion, just stuck on a desert wasteland. Did you know BB-8 was the first one to ever stick around just because? And then Finn took my hand. I mean, we were running for our lives, but – ” She smiles, tears shining in her eyes. “His was the first kind touch I can really remember. Actually, I was seconds away from whacking him over the way with my staff.” Poe can imagine it. He’s seen what she can do with her quarterstaff, and Finn’s very fond of the story of how they met: He saw her take on four people on her own before bludgeoning Finn at BB-8’s behest.
“Look at you now,” Poe says, stroking his thumb over the back of her hand. “You’re practically cuddly.” Rey sniffs, smiling wetly.
“I don’t think I’d go that far.”
“Hm, maybe you’re right,” Poe says, pressing a kiss to her knuckles. “He’s gonna be okay, you know. Finn broke their control once, he’ll do it again.” Rey doesn’t answer this time, her lips pressed into a thin line. She’s not saying something, that Poe knows for certain, but he’s not willing to push it. Rey feels things, knows things, that the rest of them can only guess at, and it takes its toll. And Poe knows that whatever Ben said to her back there, it wasn’t good.
“I know,” Rey murmurs finally. “Nice shot, by the way. Back on the Destroyer.” Poe smiles. He’d been terrified that Ben would stop the blast like he did last time, but he had been too focused on Rey. The way Poe sees it, a shot to the back is just the first step in settling the score.
“You were doing fine on your own,” Poe says, trying to brush it off.
“You’re right,” Rey replies offhandedly, surprising him. “A few seconds later and Kylo and I would’ve been best mates. We were discussing friendship bracelets when you barged in so rudely.” She pauses, inhaling deeply. “You saved my life.”
“That’s what we do, isn’t it?” Poe answers. Rey doesn't say anything.
The silence becomes unbearable, so Poe fills it. He holds tight to Finn and Rey and tells them stories about the Resistance before they joined up. About his mother, the first time he flew. The first time he crashed. Rey giggles a little at that and Poe is sure to swear her to secrecy. “Can’t have my sterling reputation tarnished by gossip,” he says.
“Who am I going to tell? All my friends back on Jakku?” Rey protests, but she’s smiling. Poe keeps talking even once he feels Rey’s head drop onto his shoulder.
“We’ll be here when you wake up,” Poe promises, looking down at Finn. “We’re not going anywhere.”
Finn still hasn’t woken the next morning, but Poe brings in another visitor just in case. Rey’s already been shooed back into her own room and honestly, Poe’s never been all that good at silence.
“Look who’s here,” Poe says to Finn’s unresponsive form. BB-8 rolls into the room, beeping softly, his head swiveling back and forth. “I know you don’t speak binary, but BB-8’s been worried sick about you.”
Chiming lowly, BB-8 rolls against the bed, nudging at Finn’s hand.
“He’s gonna be okay,” Poe says. He’s said the words so many times in the last couple of days they’re starting to lose all meaning. Without warning, BB-8 starts shrieking, chiming excitedly. The next second, Finn’s heartbeat spikes, and his eyes flutter open. “Medic!” Poe shouts, his heart leaping. “Hey there,” Poe says, cupping Finn’s face in his palm. Finn blinks blearily and Poe is shoved out of the room as the doctors run their tests.
“You can see him now,” a nurse says, smiling wide. Finn is awake when Poe walks into the room again. He still looks a little out of it, but he’s sitting up and breathing of his own volition. Poe feels lighter than he has since before Finn vanished from the base.
“Finn,” Poe breathes, his voice heavy with relief. “Thank every star in the sky that you’re okay.” Finn doesn’t respond for a moment, before his eyes slowly slide to Poe. They’re blank and empty, and Poe should know that something is wrong, but he’s too elated to notice. “Finn?” Poe tries again when Finn doesn’t say anything.
Finn blinks once. “Who the hell is Finn?” Then he attacks, leaping out of the bed so fast Poe only has a split second to move out of the way.
“Finn!” Poe shouts, ducking as Finn’s fists aim for his head and chest again and again. What is wrong with him? “Finn, stop!”
“That’s not my name,” Finn growls in a low voice. Poe hardly recognizes him like this, the way he’s standing, the cruel twist of his mouth - this isn’t Finn. “I am FN-2187, Stormtrooper with the First Order, and you have been sentenced to death.” Poe doesn’t know where he got it, but suddenly there’s a scalpel in Finn’s hands, and Poe doubles his efforts to put distance between them. He throws his arm up, trying to block, shouting with pain as the blade slices through his skin. With a mechanical scream, BB-8 rushes at Finn’s ankles, zapping him with the taser mod Poe installed a couple of years back. Lips curling in disgust, Finn strikes out with a foot, knocking BB-8 into the wall. The droid doesn’t move again.
“This isn’t you,” Poe says desperately, searching around for something – anything - to use to defend himself. “Your name is Finn, you rescued me from the First Order and we crashed on Jakku. You found Rey, you lead the charge to get her back. You’re shit with a lightsaber but you refuse to stop training – ” Poe just manages to get out of the way of a blow that puts a crater into the wall behind him. Cursing, he shoves the small side table between them. “Your name is Finn and – ”
“Shut up!” Finn shouts, suddenly inches away from Poe’s face. The scalpel glitters in his hands and Poe knows instinctively that Finn will go for his jugular. He throws his hands up, but it won’t do any good.
“Stop!” A single command splits the air and then everything goes still. Poe staggers towards Rey, who stands in the doorway, arm outstretched. Finn’s eyes are wide and unmoving and his whole form trembles in a way Poe knows only too well. “You are not FN-2187,” Rey says in a high, clear voice. “Your name is Finn. You know us.”
“I know the First Order,” Finn snarls. “I know that you two are Rebel scum and you will be destroyed.”
“Please, Finn,” Rey says, and Poe can hear the tremor in her voice. She hates doing this to him. “Please come back to us.” But the tempered anger in Finn’s eyes only grows. “I’m sorry,” she whispers. Her hand twitches and Finn collapses, boneless, onto the bed.
“What the hell just happened?” a woman Poe absently recognizes demands, bursting into the room.
“I…” Poe says, faltering. “I have no idea.”
Medics and security get called in and Poe and Rey are told to clear out. They both protest, and even Poe can feel the shift in the air as the Force reacts to Rey’s agitation.
“Dameron, Rey. Fall back.” Poe’s spine stiffens at the General’s voice behind him. “Come with me. Now.” Poe taps the back of Rey’s hand and they follows General Organa back into the control room.
“The reprogramming worked,” Poe says, the thought finally occurring to him. Until now, he hasn’t thought that the First Order would have been able to break Finn, not for a second. Hurt him, sure, but never break him. “He woke up and tried to kill me. Rey stopped him. What are our options?” The General’s eyes flick to Rey.
“Do you think you can get through to him?” Rey hesitates for a moment before she sets her jaw.
“I can try.”
Rey is exhausted. She never thought that using the Force would be more taxing than the drills Master Luke put her through, but she can hardly keep her eyes open. It’s been two days since Finn woke up and Rey hasn’t slept since. So far, using her powers has been as simple as breathing. The Force is a part of her, an extension of herself, much like her quarterstaff. But undoing the work the First Order did on Finn like trying to operate with a sledgehammer. She doesn’t have the tools to do this, not yet, or the experience. Most of all, she’s terrified of hurting Finn. Poe would never forgive her, and she’ll never forgive herself if anything happens to him. But so far, nothing has worked. Finn has been kept relatively unconscious since she started, though she tries to wake him a few times a day to see if she’s made any progress.
She hasn’t. Master Luke has already been sent for, but it’s a long journey, and the medics say that if they don’t break the programming soon, it could be permanent. Rey is well and truly on her own. The only advantage she might have had is her connection to Finn, but since they rescued him, the Force has been completely silent. This New Order Finn, FN-2187, isn’t someone she knows, or who knows her.
“Rey.” Rey jerks awake, startled by a hand on her shoulder. She blinks the sleep out of her eyes, peering up at whoever woke her up before her heart drops into her toes. There, in the middle of the Resistance base, is Kylo Ren. Rey is moving before her mind can catch up to her body, leaping to her feet and throwing out her hand. She summons every bit of power she can muster to send the bastard flying through her air.
“Tell me,” Rey demands, her voice weighed down with desperation. “Tell me how to fix him.” Kylo chokes, and it takes Rey a moment to realize that he isn’t fighting back.
“Rey.” It’s not his voice, the voice that has been haunting her nightmares for weeks; it’s not Kylo Ren. His face vanishes before her eyes, replaced by a very wide-eyed, very red-faced Poe. Rey releases him immediately, pulling her hand back and holding it against her chest like she’s afraid it might act of its own accord. Poe collapses onto all fours, gasping and spluttering.
“I’m sorry,” Rey whispers, over and over again. She stands perfectly still, terrified of what she might do if she gets too close. She can’t do this. Her Jedi training has barely begun. She can hardly control herself, how is she expected to bring Finn back? And now she’s gone and attacked Poe… Maybe there was a reason she was left on Jakku all those years ago. Whoever took her memories of her family knew how dangerous she would become and sentenced her to a life of solitude. Not as a punishment, as a precaution to keep everyone safe from her. Suddenly, it’s hard to breathe. She needs space and needs air, she needs Finn’s bright smile and the comforting weight of his hand in hers.
Poe coughs and it breaks the spell. Rey drops to her knees, her traitorous hands fluttering uselessly around Poe’s face.
“Poe,” Rey says. “Poe, talk to me.”
“Y’know,” he rasps, finally looking her in the eye. “You’re getting pretty good at the whole telekinesis thing. Remind me to recruit you next time the squad pranks Snap.” He’s trying to make her feel better, make her smile, but Rey can only bite back a sob, tears crowding in the corners of her eyes. “Hey,” Poe says, standing. He doesn’t try to touch her and Rey is grateful. “I’m okay. You exhausted, accidents happen.”
“I thought you were him,” Rey says softly. “Kylo. I thought he’d found us.” Poe’s face shifts, the smile dropping into something more solemn.
“We’re safe.” The words don’t ring true. Finn isn’t safe. He’s unconscious, strapped onto the cot and trapped in his own head while Rey fumbles around with powers she can’t control, trying to save him. “I know you can do this.”
“I don’t think I can,” Rey whispers. It’s the first time she’s said the words aloud and it feels like a betrayal. “I’m not strong enough for this.”
“Maybe not,” Poe says, ever the voice of honesty. “But you’re the best chance we have. And you’re no good to anyone half-asleep. You should get some rest. I'll have BB-8 wake you up in a few hours.” I’ll sleep when we get him back. The thought runs through Rey’s head but she’s seen that look on Poe’s face. He isn’t going to let this go, and if Rey is being honest with herself, she’s exhausted.
She doesn’t go far, crashing in a cot the next room over. Somehow, despite the stress and worry running through her mind faster than any speeder, Rey manages to fall asleep. She dreams of Finn, of the day they met. But instead of taking her hand as they ran from the TIE Fighter, he reaches into his belt and pulls out a blaster. Rey raises her hands but she’s too late. The blast punches a hole through her chest –
Rey wakes with a start, her heart pounding against her ribs. Something twinges behind her breastbone, and dread rushes though her. Something is wrong. Throwing off the thin blankets, Rey rushes into the hall, stopping dead when she hears voices coming from Finn’s room.
“Poe?” Finn says, his voice shaky and weak.
“Buddy,” Poe replies. Rey can feel his relief from where she stands. Part of her wants to run in, but something stops her. The twinge in her chest only grows more persistent. “I can’t believe it.”
“I can’t either.” Something changes in the air and Rey realizes what’s bothering her. Finn is up and talking by the sound of it, but their bond hasn’t reopened. There’s just an empty place in her chest where Finn should be. There’s a bang and Rey shakes off the paralysis, bursting into the room. Finn is awake. Awake and standing and holding Poe’s blaster.
“Finn, please,” Poe says desperately. ‘This isn’t you, this isn’t – ”
“Shut up!” Finn raises the gun, and Rey knows what is going to happen before it does. Poe’s muscles tense; he’s going to go for the gun. He won’t make it in time, not from where he’s standing. Rey sees Poe with a smoking hole in his stomach, something the medics will never be able to sew up in time to save him.
And then she’s moving, faster than she can think it through. Poe launches himself at Finn the same moment that Finn fires. She can only stop one of them: Redirect the blast or push Poe out of the way. She makes her choice even as she realizes there’s one to make, throwing her hand out and shoving Poe out of Finn’s range.
Someone screams her name and Rey jolts forward, her whole world tilting. For a moment, there isn’t any pain, just a loud ringing in her ears, but then Rey is rolled onto her side and her vision blurs. Shot. She’s been shot. It takes an embarrassingly long time to understand, but it feels like her mind is working at half-speed.
“Rey. Rey, open your eyes. Look at me.” Poe. His hand cups her face and when Rey finally pries her eyes open she can see that there are tears in his. Her mouth opens but no words come. Rey’s hand finds Poe’s, and she tries to make him feel everything she wants to say. I’m sorry, she tries to say, to no avail. I’m sorry I couldn’t save him in time. I love you. I love you both. He knows it, she knows that he does, but Rey wishes she could say the words. “I know,” Poe says softly, crying openly now. “I love you too.” He presses a kiss to her forehead and then Rey’s eyes find Finn. He hasn’t moved since the shot, and the blaster is laying on the ground where he dropped it.
Thank you, she thinks, loading the thoughts with every last bit of strength and power she has. He’ll feel it, if he’s still in there. For turning my life upside down. I would still be on Jakku if it weren’t for you, waiting for a family that is never coming back for me. You came back for me on the Star Destroyer. No one had ever done that before you. Rey takes a deep, shuddering breath, and she knows that there won’t be another before she loses consciousness. She summons the Force, bending it around her and praying that he’ll hear her last words. I love you Finn. I’m sorry I couldn’t save you.
Rey’s eyes flutter closed. As they do, something blooms inside of her, and her lungs fill with love and sorrow. Finn. He’s back. In her last moments of consciousness, Rey’s pale lips turn curve into a smile.
The afterlife isn’t what Rey expected. It’s louder than she thought it would be, there are more people shouting around her. Master Luke told her that some people, those especially gifted with the Force, are able to remain as ghosts in this world, but Rey doesn’t think she would want to be a ghost. Besides, there wouldn’t be so much pain as a ghost. Sometimes, familiar voices float above her, detached and bodiless. Rey tries to speak to them, but they’re too far away, and her voice is too small. Other times, she dreams of being back on Jakku, trapped amongst the sand and the ruins. Those are the worst, and when she comes out of them Rey welcomes the silent stillness her world has become.
And then she opens her eyes. Her vision is hazy, but she can see two figures seated by her bedside.
“You two,” she says in a gravelly rasp, “look like Sarlacc shit.”
“Hey you,” Poe says, his face swimming into view. “Look who’s here.” Finn’s never been good at keeping his emotions in check, even after years of Stormtrooper training. Tears glitter in his eyes but he manages a watery smile.
“Welcome back to the world of the living.” Rey reaches out, pulling her boys into the tiny cot with her. It takes some doing, but they all manage to fit. Rey breathes easily, snuggling into Finn’s chest. He’s back. He’s back and he’s hers. Theirs. Poe loops his arm around her stomach, minding the bandages that mummify her midsection, and settles his head against her neck.
“If you do anything like that ever again, I’m going to report you,” Poe threatens, but there’s no teeth behind it.
“I’m just happy you’re okay,” Finn whispers and Rey can feel his guilt. She nestles closer.
“I love you idiots too.”