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the war is over and we are beginning

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“It’s very important to avoid distractions that might lead you down a path towards fear and anger. In order to fight off the dark side, intimate relationships should be avoided. They can only lead to disaster.”

Rey stares at Luke as he speaks to her while she meditates, unsure that she’s ever been in peril of having an intimate relationship in her life that didn’t exist in her imagination. She can’t understand the very notion of one being awful, but as he goes on to talk about other rules and how intimacy can only lead to a broken heart, that thought of intimacy leading to disaster lingers in her mind.

And how in the galaxy could this apply to her when she’s never had more than a fleeting intimate moment in her life?

When she returns to D’Qar and rejoins the rebels, it seems that things have improved since she left. For one, Finn is awake, R2 tells her as they approach, and is waiting for them on the tarmac. As she strides down the ship’s ramp, her whole body practically shivers with anticipation as she sees him standing there like a statuesque figure dotting the horizon. She wants to jump into his arms and embrace him, but she stops at the last minute when she remembers his wound.

“Finn!” she greets brightly. “You’re okay!”

“I knew you’d be coming back. I figured I ought to get better for you.”

Brimming with joy, Rey lets out a giddy laugh. “I want to hug you, but I don’t know if your back is up for it.”

Finn glances to his side warily, shrugging like he hates to admit it. “It’s probably not a great idea.”

“You can hug me, instead,” Poe cheerfully offers, who’s been lurking beside Finn this whole time, patiently watching their reunion.

Rey is so full of relief and joy that she takes him up on the offer, practically jumping into his arms, made easier by Poe leaning down to scoop her up. She can feel Finn’s eyes on them, but Rey is so encompassed by Poe’s tight arms that she momentarily blanks out on anything but the warm embrace and buries her face into Poe’s neck, inhaling deeply to get more of that wonderful smell of engine grease and earth, making her feel safe and anchored.

She breathes out and feels the tension of the last few months of training dissipate. Luke has so many rules that she isn’t ever sure whether she’s breaking them or not, and for a girl who’s never had to answer to anyone but herself, it’s strange to live under someone else’s guidelines.

She finally leaves the safe embrace of Poe’s arms and even though Finn is injured, she cautiously wraps her arms around his waist and steps into his space while he arranges her against his chest.

“I’ve missed you,” she mumbles, glad that her words are absorbed by Finn’s chest so she doesn’t have to be embarrassed about confessing this kind of weakness.

Finn doesn’t seem to care, stroking his fingers through her hair. “Me too,” he promises, and when Poe steps in to hug her from the other side, his hand on Finn’s neck, everything feels right to Rey, securely tucked in between the both of them.

Luke’s words whisper in the back of her mind, but as she stubbornly burrows into the hug, she doesn’t pay attention to them. She can handle this. She’s no child anymore, and she won’t let this distract her from her lessons.

It’s just a momentary detour.

She turns to make sure Luke hasn’t seen this, but her teacher is steadfastly trying to ignore one of the pilots staring at him, turning instead to hold down a conversation with General Organa. Grateful that he doesn’t seem too attentive of her current situation, she curls into Finn’s protective arms and holds on tight.

Finn says he has a surprise for her.

Rey is starting to get used to all these firsts in her life. She’s never had someone care enough to offer her a surprise before and here she is, faced with Finn’s eager face looking like the only thing he wants in the world is to share this surprise with her. “Close your eyes,” he instructs.

She does as he says, her face scrunching up with a smile when he wraps his hands around her eyes, like he doesn’t believe she’ll keep them closed on her own. And then, they’re off, stumbling slowly across the base because without her vision, she’s a touch clumsier than usual.

“Keep your eyes closed,” Finn instructs, his hands covering her eyes as if she can’t listen to simple instructions, “We’re almost there.”

“Finn, what’s going on?” Rey protests with a laugh, stumbling along without her vision. She can hear people milling around and it doesn’t even take her newfound abilities for her to realize they’re outside on the tarmac, but she keeps quiet because Finn seems so occupied with this being a surprise. Finally, they stop and he lifts his hands off her eyes to reveal Poe standing behind a two-seater X-wing. “What is going on?” she asks, now genuinely confused.

“I figured I’d let the two best pilots I know get some air time together,” Finn says, eyes twinkling.

“What about you?” Rey asks.

“I’m gonna be down here, watching every second,” he promises, leaning in to kiss her cheek and then her forehead, making Rey tingle from the very tips of her fingers to her toes.

She turns to find Poe waiting for her, half up the ladder to the X-wing, his gloved fingers extended to her and a dashing grin on his face. He looks like the sort of pilot she’d imagined when growing up, leaning off his ship with the wind flowing through his hair and an adventure beckoning him closer. He looks like the sort of pilot whose picture you send out to the galaxy because you know his face will get people to sign up for your cause.

Rey grabs the spare helmet and practically leaps onto the first rung, following Poe into the cockpit.

Once they’re in the sky, it doesn’t take long for exuberant joy to take over. She’s laughing before she even realizes it, letting out a soft gasp of delight when Poe relinquishes the controls and they dip for just a moment before she gets a hold of them and rights them. Rey’s sure that Finn’s on the ground having a heart attack, but as she guides the ship back to equilibrium, she feels at home and secure and right.

“You’re a natural, beautiful!” Poe compliments her over the headset.

“Hey,” comes Finn’s voice in her ear, which means there must be a stolen helmet in play, “I can hear you trying to make me jealous.”

Rey doesn’t even have the time to care about who’s supposed to be jealous of who because she’s so blissful and carefree, a mile above the planet.

“Finn, it’s incredible!” she shouts, staring down with wonder at the world below her, the green of the trees dappling her vision and the shimmer of the water leaving her with kaleidoscope vision. If she looks up, they’re on the cusp of atmosphere and she can see the stars glistening above them. Below, there are mountains in the distance and Rey imagines flowers blooming in the valleys and life taking hold so easily in this place that’s so different from Jakku. She takes hold of the controls and pulls them into a barrel roll that has Poe whooping with infectious laughter.

They take turns pulling tricks in the air to impress one another until Rey can barely hear herself think for the way her heart is racing in her chest. When they land, she’s not sure who she wants to thank first.

“Thank you,” she says, leaping into a one-armed hug with Poe before she kisses his cheek, “thank you,” she goes on, tackling Finn with a hug as she holds onto him so tight. “We’ll go up again soon, right?”

“You got it,” Poe agrees smoothly. “If I’m not here, just tell one of my pilots that you want a go. They’ll hand over the keys.”

This is something else she’s getting used to. Not only does she have people in her life that want to surprise her, but there are people willing to give her things without demanding anything in exchange. She doesn’t have to earn every small victory in her life.

Fighting back tears at that realization, Rey hugs Finn a little tighter and tries not to think about how nice it feels with her body pressed up against his and how he smells so very good. She swallows back that epiphany and tucks it away with the other ones she’s had today, like how Poe’s hair begs touching or how Finn’s strong profile catches her attention no matter how high up she is.

It turns out that Rey’s not the only one awash with new, strange feelings. When she goes to fetch Poe to ask if they can go up for another round, she finds him and Finn tangled up in a corner with Poe’s hand down Finn’s trousers. Staring, eyes wide, a touch confused (and possibly a touch jealous), she clears her throat and refuses to run away.

Finn doesn’t seem very pleased to be caught out, bolting away from Poe’s touch to drag Rey away from the scene, not letting go of her as they skid around a corner.

“Rey, it’s not…” he trails off, breathing rapidly.

“Finn, calm down,” she coaxes, trying to alleviate the ache in her heart. “What is it?”

“Poe and I have this agreement. When I’m feeling pent up, he uses his hand to help,” he says. “And sometimes his mouth,” he adds in a rush, after. “It doesn’t mean that I don’t…that I haven’t got…”

Her heart pounds in her chest as she stares at him, wondering if this is something normal to be feeling. She feels like she could keel over from worry and the joy of realizing Finn might feel something for her, and all she wants to do is make Finn feel better.

“I really like you,” Finn says. “Please don’t think this means I don’t.”

The trouble is that she likes him very much right back, but there are Luke’s rules to think about and Rey’s only just become his student. She hates the thought of disappointing him. Even though Rey wants to continue the conversation and wants to push in and ask if Poe is treating Finn right (and whether he likes him, whether he likes her), she knows that’s an inevitable step down the path towards the intimacy Luke’s steering her away from.

“Be careful,” Rey says, able to share that much even if the rest of her emotions are currently an undecipherable wash.

“Rey…” Finn protests, but she’s already heading down the hall, glad that her back is to Finn so he can’t see the utter distress and heartbreak on her face at the feeling that her new moral code is causing her to miss out on something she wants so badly to be a part of.

How on earth can this avoid the dark side when this grief and anger fills her up like a shadow invading her every pore?

“There is no passion, there is serenity,” Rey recites as she paces the halls of the rebel base, but her mind is occupied with thoughts of Finn stepping out of the fresher with water running down his sloped-forward shoulders and with the distraction of the memory of Poe taking off his helmet. “Passion, yet serenity,” she says instead, but even that makes her fumble as she thinks of the embrace she’d found Poe and Finn in, Poe’s hands nowhere in plain sight given the admirable way Finn’s trousers had been hiding them.

Things have taken a turn for the intimate for them and Rey can’t help but think that despite how she’s stuck her heels into the ground to try and prevent it happening, she’s being pulled into the gravity of her two closest friends.

She licks her lips and starts her recitations again, focusing on ‘no passion, only serenity’, ceding to ‘passion, yet serenity’, but then she thinks of the warmth of Finn’s hand under her shirt as he guides her through the canteen and the way Poe’s hips move when he dances around while BB-8 plays audio files.

She’s so lost in her recitation that she doesn’t even realize she’s not alone until she hears the clearing of a throat.

Flushing ridiculously pink, Rey finds herself standing in the path of the General, thinking about what it would feel like to pin Finn down on a bed and tie his wrists to the boards while Poe sat on his face.

Her daydreams are getting progressively filthier and she’s not sure there’s any serenity in the fabric of reality that will stop her now.

“I’ve heard that one before,” Leia says wryly. “One of Luke’s old favorites. Has he not told you the whole story about why that one phrase in particular had always been such a favorite of his?”

Rey shakes her head, not willing to say anything because she’s a little concerned that the filter between her brain and her mouth might let something slip that she’s not very keen on anyone knowing.

“My brother has good intentions,” Leia says, taking Rey by the elbow to walk with her, “and he has good reason to fear the darkness. He also has a bad habit of letting his own experiences filter his judgment.”

This is news to Rey, who’s never even approached the notion of Luke having any sort of intimate anything. Half the time, she struggles to see him as a human being and not some mythical Jedi story from her childhood. She knows that it’s not proper to gossip, but every bit of her is curious and is demanding that she ask, and while she knows she’s meant to uphold serious values, she also knows that she’s only human.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that a certain retired Rebellion pilot and my brother were plenty intimate up until Luke ran away. When he says ‘no intimacy’, he just doesn’t want you to get hurt. He broke his own heart trying to protect the galaxy, so now he thinks that if he doesn’t warn you, the same will happen,” Leia shares. “I understand what he’s trying to do. Now, more than ever.”

Rey stares at Leia warily, not sure whether the topic of Han should be brought up, but there’s one question that she wants to ask and it burns on her lips.

“Is the pain worth it?” she asks. “Would it really lead me to darkness?”

Leia takes Rey by the shoulders so she can look her in the eye. “Every single terrible minute was worth it for the bright and glorious ones,” she vows. “If you think you’re ready to fall in love and give your heart to someone, then don’t worry about Luke. Follow his teachings and keep the light in your heart and it will guide you.”

“He’ll be cross,” Rey says warily.

“He’ll be too distracted by me shoving him in Wedge Antilles’ waiting arms,” Leia huffs. “And then he’ll be too occupied with getting my boot out of his ass for scaring you half to death.”

Rey doesn’t want to get bogged down in questions about whether it’s just as safe to love two people, thinking that she’s getting ahead of herself when she’s not even sure she can undo the little bits of damage she’s done, alienating herself from little world of intimacy Poe and Finn have been building.

“Thank you,” she says, as grateful as she can be, because she had been worried that some of her life experiences were being curtailed before ever getting to live them.

Now it’s just a matter of talking to Finn and Poe and finding out whether they’ve still got a spot for her in their hearts (and just maybe their beds, too.)

Rey slides a note under Luke’s door to apologize for what she’s about to do, hopeful that he isn’t using the Force to anticipate her actions and stop her. From there, she heads to Finn’s room, honestly surprised when she doesn’t find Poe already there. “Where is he?”

“We aren’t actually joined at the hip,” Finn replies, setting down the manual he’s studying on droid upkeep. “He went to get some food. Did you want to go up in the X-wing?”

“No, I wanted to talk, but with both of you,” she says, sitting down on the bed beside Finn, curling up against his arm. “I can wait. Go back to reading,” she coaxes. “I’ll just go along over your shoulder.” She wraps her arms around his waist, resting comfortably with her cheek pressed to her very favorite’s person’s body while they wait for their other favorite. “When you said that you like me, that’s one of the reasons why you cared whether I had a cute boyfriend, wasn’t it?” she teases fondly.

Finn splutters, gaping at her. “I thought we were reading!”

“We can do both. I can do both,” she brags a little. “Did you know that Luke has a secret crush on Wedge Antilles? I feel like I’m retreading old ground, what with the whole Jedi having a crush on a pilot.”

“What?” Finn asks warily. “You like Poe?”

He sounds so disappointed and Rey wants to put him out of his misery before it can spiral.

“I think everyone has a crush on Poe,” Rey says. “I suppose I’m one of them. And you are too, I know that. I’ve seen what your crush on Poe looks like. I think, though, that I have an even bigger crush on you and for the longest time, I thought that I wasn’t allowed to have one. Luke talked about how intimacy meant the dark side, but I think he was just lonely or rejected or hurt,” she rambles, “and I don’t think that my heart alone can push me to the dark when love and friendship have been the lightest, brightest things I’ve ever felt. And I saw what you and Poe had and I’ve been dreaming about things like that since I got back here, like you without your shirt and your capable hands and how Poe looks when he’s flying or those lips of his…” She draws a shuddering breath, feeling her chest ache at the thought of not getting to have those things, not even once. “Do you like me like that?”

Finn stares at her with wonder, speechless.

“Of course he does,” says Poe from the doorway. “So do I.” He’s leaning casually against the frame. “He’s been leaving you flowers in your room and bringing you gifts, trying to make you happy. I just figured you were taking your time getting around to putting him out of his waiting misery. What’s this about it being some kind of Jedi thing?”

“It’s not,” Rey hurries to say. It might be, but she won’t let it interfere. She turns to Finn, taking his hand in hers in a mirror of the first time they met. “Can I hear you say it?” she asks quietly, still getting used to being able to ask for the things she really wants.

“I really like you, Rey,” Finn says, his voice sounding rough like the sands of Jakku. “You want me?”

“So much I dream of it,” she affirms. “Walking in on you two did not help,” Rey continues, eyes wide and shiny as she realizes that she’s going to get what she wants. She stares at him, her heart bursting with such warmth that she can feel herself overflowing with it. She needs to do something about it, which is clearly just cause for climbing into Finn’s lap and wrapping her arms around his neck.

Right, this is it. This is her turn to decide on what happens next.

“You should…”

“Shh!” Rey cuts Poe off from making a suggestion, shooting him a mild glare. “You’ve been doing this ages, apparently. Let me have a turn.”

Poe grins as he closes the door behind him, sitting on the corner of the bed and twirling his hand at the wrist, giving her a ‘go on’ gesture. She sits up a little taller, feeling victorious in this little act, but there’s no darkness in it. The intimacy in this moment is a private and calm one between the three of them and as Rey leans down to clasp Finn’s cheeks, she has to fight the urge to close her eyes because she wants to see all of this.

She’ll have to trust in Poe to watch and describe it to her later.

Right now, she wants to ride through the tingling feeling of Finn pressing a hand to her back and lifting her up, coaxing her into a deeper kiss that has them collapsing on the bed in a horizontal heap while Rey tentatively explores techniques and thoughts and daydreams, all holding deep promise of what their future might look like.

She eases back from kissing Finn’s lips, her own feeling like they’re trembling. Finn looks wonderfully dazed, and the hope and joy blooming in Rey’s heart is like all the flowers she never got to plant on Jakku.

“So, we’re doing this?” Poe asks, some of that hope in his voice, as if the air is infected with it.

“Yes,” Rey decides firmly. “With passion and serenity,” she vows, and turns to yank on Poe’s shirt so she can drag him into the heap.

The next morning, Rey is wearing Finn’s black tank top with Poe’s jacket swimming over her shoulders, Poe is wearing one of her t-shirts that’s turned into a too-short garment on him, baring his midriff, and Finn has resorted to one of Poe’s flight suits because everything else is dirty.

When she catches Luke’s eye from across the canteen, she steadies her chin upwards defiantly, anticipating whatever lecture might be coming her way.

It’s lucky, then, that Luke is promptly distracted by Admiral Antilles coming around to lay a hand on Luke’s shoulder, leaning in to whisper something that gets Luke’s cheeks to turn a ridiculous shade of pink.

She’s been so distracted with this little show that she doesn’t realize her eggs have been stolen until she looks down and finds two forks making off with the last of her breakfast. “Hey!” she protests, trying to decide which of her boys she’s going to go after first.

“Growing boy,” Finn mumbles past a full mouth.

“Beauty food,” is Poe’s excuse.

Take care, Rey, she hears in her head, looking across the room to find Luke watching her. Keep your heart light and filled with love and you’ll avoid the dark side. Remember to do well by them and let them guide you towards the light.

Smiling warmly, she nods in understanding. The same goes for you, she thinks back at him before she turns to Finn and Poe, having made her decision. “Poe,” she says sweetly. “I’ll take Finn up in the X-wing today and you can watch from the ground.”

“What? But…”

“Next time, don’t touch my eggs,” she says sharply. “And Finn?”

Finn has a decidedly wary look in his eyes, but he’s grinning like an idiot. “Yeah?”

“Later on, only Poe gets to touch me.”

“Girl drives a hard bargain,” Poe mock-laments. “Lucky for me,” he says, shoveling eggs into his mouth and flashing a crude grin at the both of them, “I’m very, very patient.”

(He’s not. It’s one of the amazing things Rey gets to learn along with other little facts like Finn adoration of fresh, juicy fruits that make his lips pucker and shine, Poe’s talent with instruments and the graceful slide of his fingers on strings, and the most delightful of noises she can produce from each of them when all their clothes are off and they’re curled in various permutations together)

She can’t learn everything at once, but as her code has often told her – ignorance is only the beginning of knowledge. And Rey is more than okay with that, so long as she keeps this.