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let's walk through the fire together

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“You know,” Rey says, her voice thin and reedy, “you don’t have to be so gentle with me. I’m not some delicate flower.”

Finn stills with one of his hands on her inner thigh. His thumb strokes the soft skin at the juncture of her hip in tiny circular motions. He’s probably not even aware of it. “I—I know. I’ve just never done this sort of thing before.”

Rey crosses her arms over her chest to fight the sudden ache. Feels like she’s just gotten kicked in the chest by a bantha. “Never? With anyone? Or…”

“I mean, just… Back in the Order, in my unit—” Finn pulls his hands away and she immediately misses the contact, but he scoots up on the bed until they’re lying shoulder to shoulder. “I was the one who was responsible for, uh. Relieving his fellow ’troopers of their urges. Or, you know. Rewarding them for a mission well-done.”

Rey rolls onto her side and touches his waist. “They made you do that?”

She hopes he can’t hear the tremor in her voice. He’d probably mistake it for fear or sorrow, but it’s not. It’s more barely checked rage. It’s unbecoming of a Jedi, a voice at the back of her head—that sounds suspiciously like Master Luke—intones. Rey gathers hold of her rage and pulls it back in before she can unleash it on the world. That way lies darkness, and so on.

“Well, it was my job,” Finn says, shrugging, sounding for all the galaxy like she just smacked him upside the head. “Besides sanitation. Truth be told, I liked that a whole lot more than being on sanitation duty. Scrubbing down the garbage disposals? Not my idea of a good time.”

Finn shudders theatrically at that, and she realizes he means to make her laugh. He’s more concerned with her discomfort than the fact he was forced to endure such horrible—Rey glances down at herself, takes in her state of undress, and comes to a decision. She sits up, pulls her trousers back up slowly, and cinches her sash around her waist.

“You didn’t have much choice in the matter, did you?” she asks, proud of the way her voice wavers only the slightest bit.

“You don’t question the orders of a direct superior,” Finn says, without affect.

Rey shudders at the sudden chill that runs down her spine. She reaches out and grabs Finn’s hand with both of her own. His hand is cool and she rubs, hoping to bring back a little bit of warmth.

“You do have a choice here though,” she says, ducking her head to kiss his knuckles. “With me, I mean.”

“Do you think I agreed because I—I was afraid to tell you no?” Finn asks. His breath gusts against her temple.

“If I had ordered you around without checking to see if you were actually into it or just following my commands, would you have told me to stop?” she asks.

Finn considers this for a moment. “I wouldn’t have told you no. I would do anything you ask of me,” he tells her, flipping their hands in his lap and tightening his around hers.

“You know you can. Right? Tell me when you don’t want to do something, or we’re going too fast.” Rey leans into him and squashes her cheek against his shoulder.

“Oh, I know. But you’re the most important person in my life. And when I go along with you, it’s because I want to.” Finn turns against her until he can kiss her forehead. “See now, if you said you wanted to—I dunno—run off and battle an army of rathtars with only your quarterstaff to defend you, I’d say ‘thanks but no thanks’ and let you go on your way.”

Rey laughs and presses her face into his shoulder. “You wouldn’t,” she says, leaning up to kiss him on the cheek.

“Once was more than enough for me,” Finn says, grinning down at her. He sobers a bit, looping an arm around her waist. “I appreciate it.”

“What?” Rey asks.

“That you’d… You’d be willing to wait for me until I’m truly ready,” he says, ducking his head.

Rey tucks herself into his side. “I’ll wait as long as I have to. Even if you’re never ready, I—”

“You don’t mean that. And I’d never make you wait forever,” Finn gasps, sounding almost outraged on her behalf. “That would be cruel.”

“You know what would be truly cruel? Not having you in my life because I’d pushed when you didn’t want to do something. Or losing you because you thought you weren’t…good enough or some silly nonsense like that,” Rey says softly, rubbing her hand on his chest. “Or hurting someone I care about.”

Finn tightens his arm around her. He lets his eyes drift shut and he kisses her gently. “I don’t know how I got this lucky,” he murmurs against her lips.

“And neither do I.” Rey kisses him back and tugs on his hands until he lies back with her in bed. She links her fingers with Finn’s and gazes up at the ceiling. Finn had painted the starmap that led her to Master Luke on her ceiling in holographic paint, and it shimmers and shines over them like their own canopy of stars.

Rey smiles, letting her head drop to his shoulder. Finn traces wide circular patterns on her shoulder with his fingertips.

“I love you,” he says, brushing his lips against the top of her head.

Rey smiles, burrows a little against his chest. She closes her eyes. “I know.” She leans up to kiss his cheek. “I love you too.”