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New Republic Cakes

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     On a Monday, Leia Organa, probably the greatest pastry chef this side of the city, hell maybe in the entire country (and Poe is not just saying that because he had admired his boss since he was in kindergarten, she was the best) announced that she was selling her small bakery. On a Tuesday, Poe had sold nearly everything in his tiny apartment that had any value for probably a lot less than it was actually worth. Just after closing, he walked into Leia's office with an envelope containing every cent he had to his name and asked (not begged, he definitely didn't beg. Okay maybe he begged a little. Okay maybe he begged a lot so sue him) that if she was going to sell that could she please (here's where the begging started) sell to him. "Please, I partially grew up here, let me keep it going on," he said and most definitely did not tear up (okay fine maybe he did).
     Because it was true, Poe had partically grown up here. His late mother Shara had come to work at New Republic Cakes, which had been opened by Leia, her husband and brother after the first Republic Cakes (which everyone now called Old Republic cakes) had mysteriously burned down (rumor had it by rival shop Empire Bakers), after she had left the military. "She was a helluva pilot," his dad always said proudly, "and one helluva baker." She would work along side Leia with Poe on her back, painstakingly decorating cakes with details so fine it looked like they'd been painted on. Later, when he was old enough, Poe worked right beside her everyday after school and long after he had graduated.

  He kept working long after she had died and his dad had followed not long after. They both might be gone now but their memories were here and Poe wasn't about to let that go so easily. Leia was nice enough not to interrupt him while he basically poured his soul out to her, smiling faintly all the while. "Poe," she said finally, "it would be an honor." Poe jumped to his feet and all but clambered over the desk to wrap his arms around her. Leia caught him easily enough, rolling her eyes fondly but returned the embrace none the less.

    Here's the thing, although Poe had worked in the bakery for practically his entire life, he had never realized just how much work running a business actually was, which in hindsight seemed utterly ridiculous but it was the truth. Still, Poe was determined to make things work. So every morning, Poe and BB-8, his loveable little mutt of a dog with distinctive orange and white markings, made their way to the shop before the sun had even come up. Like any other job it had its ups and downs. Poe was on his feet about 12 hours hours a day.
His back hurt, his knees hurt, his hands hurt, hell, his everything hurt by the time he trudged home covered in sugar and flour only to get up a few hours later and do it all over again. Everyday. Six days a week. Making up to sixty recipes a day in a wild whirlwind of flour, sugar and chocolate powder, sometimes doing the same thing for hours on end.
It's not easy but he wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.
    "You need help," Jessikah Pava, one of the bread makers tells him one morning after she and her girlfriend, pastry chef Kaydel Co Connix, had found him and BB curled on a stack of 60 pound bags of flour when she came to open one morning. Poe had only sat down for a second to rest his eyes only to be shaken awake the next day by an amused but concerned looking Jessikah while Kaydel tried to dust off BB who made the process all the most difficult by barking happily and licking her face. "I'm fine," Poe said around a yawn, pouring himself a cup of coffee from the pot in the break room. "I'll believe that if you can tell me what day it is," Jessikah countered and Poe considered this for several long moments, trying to get his exhausted brain to function on at least some level. "It's Wed. . .Tues . . . Thursday?" he said with more uncertainty than he'd like to admit.
    Judging by the horrified looks on Jessikah and Kaydel's faces he wasn't even in the ballpark.

    Jessikah typed up a Help Wanted ad and posted it online before the end of the day.
    Monday as it turned out to be.

    Finn was the fifth applicant they interviewed. He came in around lunchtime, nervous but determined (and utterly adorable). He was currently at First Order Bakery, a massive chain bakery across the ally that seemed to have dozens of terrified looking employees who all wore the same distinctive white uniform. Poe had seen the franchise owner, an intense looking person (Kyle? Lauren? Ben? Ron? Kyle Ron?) who always seemed to be dressed in black (seriously why the hell did a baker wear all black?) who often got into screaming matches with an irritated looking red hair man who looked kind of like an accountant with anger management issues and liked to throw things. Finn currently worked doing clean up part time but what he really wanted to do was work in the kitchen.
    Poe wanted to hire him on the spot. "You can't hire him just because you think he's cute!" Jessikah said when Poe told her this as they closed up shop for the day. "He has excellent references, lots of experience," Poe countered. "And he's cute," Kaydel added unhelpfully as she stacked the chairs while Poe and Jessikah mopped and wiped down the counters. Poe turned to glare at her. "Who's side are you on?" Kaydel doesn't miss a beat, "Jessikah's." Poe rolled his eyes. And yeah, okay, maybe Poe did think Finn was cute. So what? He thought everyone was cute. Finn was good candidate, cute or not. "Let's give him a chance. What harm could it do?"
    Well as it turned out, it did a lot of harm.
    Because Poe fell head over heels in love with him.
    "I told you so," Jessikah said.
     Poe pretended not to hear her.

   Hiring Finn was simultaneously the best and worst decision Poe had ever made. And that was saying something because he had once tried to move a van with the parking break still on. Finn is there every morning when Poe comes to open, massive smile on his face and coffee for the both of them. Now Pow isn't a morning person by any stretch of the imagination but maybe, for totally unrelated reasons, he doesn't mind them so much now. He works along side Poe in the kitchen, skillfully and happily baking delicious tarts and sweet breads that have costumers lined up. And the costumers?
    They love Finn.
    Poe can relate.
    A few weeks after Poe hired Finn, he decided to ask if he would be co-head baker. He could use the help and Finn was an amazing baker so it made sense to ask him. Finn doesn't answer right away and for a second Poe's worried he'd been too hasty in his offer then Finn lit up like the sunrise and threw his arms around Poe's neck, covering them both in flour though Poe honestly doesn't care. Finn is beaming and Poe can't stop smiling. "I'm so happy I could kiss you!" Finn laughed. "Okay," Poe said and then promptly wanted to bury himself in a hole because seriously what the ever loving Dameron?
    Who the hell even said things like that? Finn, if possible, only smiled wider and leaned forward and pressed their lips together. Poe takes it back, hiring Finn was the best freaking idea he'd ever had. He doesn't even care that Jessikah and Kaydel shoot him smug looks and grins for weeks afterwards. Honestly, he wouldn't have cared if the sun exploded.

   Finn and Poe have been together about six months when Rey walks in. Granted, it wasn't a surprise when Rey walked in since Leia had called to tell Poe she was coming in to apply. Rey was student of Leia's brother Luke, a legendary pastry chef who had retired a number of years earlier. She was the only student he'd taken on in years. Now, Poe wasn't sure who he was expecting to walk in but it sure as hell wasn't an actual living ray of sunshine!
When Rey came in and beamed at him and Finn, who grinned back at her just as awestruck as Poe felt he only had one thought: oh crap.

   Rey's specialty was cupcakes, each decorated with intricately beautiful flowers made of sugar. "I grew up in the desert," she explained to Poe, "you didn't see a lot of flowers there." They were as beautiful as they were delicious. She was a great addition to the shop. She was funny and kind and an amazing pastry chef. Plus, she was the only one who could make sense of what the tall, heavily bearded delivery man who had been making runs to the shop as long as Poe could remember was saying. Plus BB loved her, that was a shining endorsement in Poe's book. Between her and Finn they were packing the place daily. In a few months, they'd finally be out of the red.
They were also driving Poe up the wall.
    His boyfriend and crush had become best friends. That was special layer of hell he hadn't known existed before. The two of them loved taking BB on walks during their breaks and always came back smiling and laughing and Poe was so screwed. At least he thought he was screwed until one day while he and Rey were boxing up Jessikah and Kaydel's wedding cake and she looked up at him and said "So are you and Finn ever going to ask me out or am I going to have to do everything myself?"
  And yeah, Poe was still screwed but it was a different kind of screwed. The good kind. The how in the hell did he get so lucky kind? The what the hell did he do to deserve them kind?

   Everyday at exactly 4:45 PM, Phasma, the manager of the First Order Bakery steps out into the alley connecting the two shops to take out the trash. Less than a second later, Finn throws open the door, still bursting with joy even a year later and screams at the top of his lungs, "I'M IN CHARGE NOW PHASMA, I'M IN CHARGE NOW!" For the first month, the imposing figure would scream right back but now she mostly just shoots glares at him that could wilt flowers but otherwise pointedly ignored him (which was more than they could say for the overly intense First Order night manager who screamed "TRAITOR!" and brandished a rolling pin every time he saw Finn) and went about her business. This was Poe's queue to announce "Closing time!" "Are you going to do that for the rest of your life?" Rey laughed when he came back in and turned the sign off. "No, I'm going to do it for the rest of her life," Finn replied and Rey laughed while Poe rolled his eyes.
Poe wasn't sure exactly what he had done to deserve them but sure as hell was glad he had.