Finn wakes up gasping and in more pain than he can ever remember being in. There’s a line of fire right down his back, but he clamps his mouth shut on the scream that wants to escape with only a moment’s hesitation and curses the tears that spring to his eyes. He can’t remember much at first, but he knows he’s lying down and he knows he has to get up.
There are no old stormtroopers. If he can’t get up, can’t walk, can’t get into uniform, he’s got no purpose, and there’s no room on a Star Destroyer or a Starkiller Base for anyone without a purpose.
“Master Finn!” It’s a droid’s voice but it doesn’t quite make sense to him yet. “You must lay still!”
The better to make an easy kill, he thinks darkly, getting his arms underneath him and trying to push himself up to all fours, but his shoulder is protesting loudly now too, and he wants to scream in frustration. He does not want to get decommissioned laying on his belly, but it doesn’t feel like a single part of his body is willing to cooperate with his desires.
“Woah, woah, woah!” There’s a new voice in the room, accompanied by the alarmed beeping of an astromech droid that he doesn’t understand, but can get the gist of at least. “Finn! Buddy! Stand down! You’ve practically got a new spine, let’s not break it on the first day out, okay?” There’s a hand on his good shoulder, a firm, companionable squeeze, and then two hands gently arranging his arms back flat down on the bed.
It’s Poe. D’Qar and Poe and Rey and BB-8 all comes flooding back to him. It’s Poe, and Finn squeezes his eyes shut because he doesn’t want to appear this weak in front of someone he so admires. Doesn’t want Poe to have to make the call that he’s too hurt to continue on, and has to be put out of his misery. No use wasting precious resources on someone who can’t help.
“Can we ramp up his pain medication a little?” Poe murmurs quietly, and Finn can tell it’s not directed at him. Maybe for the droid that spoke before. BB-8 gives a quavering and concerned little note.
“Rey..?” Finn gets out. She’s the only one not here, and the last thing he remembers is Kylo Ren closing on her. If he’s not gonna make it, he needs to know if he let her down before he goes.
That companionable hand is back on his good shoulder again. “She’s okay. She’s okay, Finn,” Poe says, and Finn would weep with relief if he wasn’t fighting tears of pain. “You gave her enough time to recover. She did great. She’s just not here right now.” There’s a pause, as if even Poe can’t believe what he’s about to say. “She’s off in the Falcon trying to bring Luke Skywalker back.”
“Luke..!?” Finn chokes. The coughing doesn’t make his back hurt nearly as much as it should so maybe that pain medication did get turned up. Finn can hear the note of awe in Poe’s voice at the name, even through the pain and the narcotics, but Luke’s a completely different animal to Finn-- although he’s aware enough to realize the boogeymen of the First Order are, of course, the heroes of the Rebellion and the Resistance.
“Yeah, Luke. Amazing, right?” Poe laughs a little in disbelief before changing the topic. “You gonna calm down and just lay still for a while? I can’t stay very long, but I don’t want to leave if you’re gonna damage yourself if I go.”
Finn finally blinks his eyes open and looks up at him, frowning. Why is Poe grinning like that? “Already damaged,” he says, slurring a bit now that he’s starting to feel less pain and more floaty.
“Temporarily,” Poe corrects firmly.
Finn blinks drowsily at him, confused. “But I can’t help anyone right now.”
“Well, no…” Poe blinks back at him as if Finn is being particularly thick. “Which is why you have to lay still and get some rest, so you can in the future.” He glances away for a moment back to the droid who can speak Basic. “You may have overdone it with the pain meds,” he says with a smile in his voice.
“Well, yeah,” Poe says with a laugh, turning back to him. “It’s not like we take you out back and…” He trails off then, and a look comes over his face that Finn doesn’t like at all. He flings out his good arm to try and pat Poe’s thigh to reassure him. Poe shouldn’t have that look on his face ever. He looks pale. Like he ate something rotten.
Poe catches his hand instead and gives it a reassuring squeeze that Finn likes a lot. “You’re going to be okay, Finn. We’re not a soldier factory here. You’re allowed to rest as long as you need.”
BB-8 chirps, and Poe turns to look at the droid with a little frown before turning back. “Gotta run to the hangar now, buddy. A pilot’s work is never done around here,” he says with an apologetic smile. “I was just checking in to see if you were still sleeping before I left, and you went and woke up.” He chuckles. “You get some rest. I’ll visit again when I get back to base, all right?” He gives Finn’s hand another squeeze and then places it comfortably back on the bed. He backs off a step, and pauses uncomfortably for a moment like he’s trying to think of something else to say. BB-8 beeps at him again, and he sighs and tosses off a jaunty little salute instead and follows her out of the room.
The next time he wakes up, Poe isn’t there.
At least waking up is far less traumatic after the first time. He remembers where he is, remembers that his back burns in agony if he twists the wrong way. He remembers that he’s safe. He trusts Poe, so when Poe said he’d be safe he has to believe that’s the case. It still feels wrong to lie on his stomach all day, but no one who comes into the room ever seems to judge him for it. At least, not that he sees. He’s not awake for very long.
Poe’s not there the third or fourth or fifth time he wakes up either. It’s only to be expected, with Poe being a commander of two squadrons. Finn is just one lost ex-Stormtrooper confined to his sick-bed, and keeping him company is surely not the best use of Black Leader’s time, or really anyone’s time other than the medical personnel.
It was nice of Poe to check in at all, Finn thinks, when he’s up to stringing coherent thoughts together. Rey has undertaken a journey, and Poe has returned to his duties, and Finn wonders what’s left for him to do. There’s not much more he can tell the General about the First Order that is tactically significant. He suspects the training he’s received in both sanitation and being a Stormtrooper will not translate as easily as he might hope on D’Qar or any of the other free worlds. He is, at best, a warm body with a hell of a lot to learn about everything, including, apparently, relearning how to walk.
‘Rehabilitation’ is nothing at all like ‘reconditioning’ on the Star Destroyer. Both humans and droids who come to help him are only concerned with his comfort, which is strange and a little awkward, but he’s getting better at accepting their help. He just wishes there was a point to it all.
“Jess Pava,” a young woman says, coming into his room suddenly one day after his physio, thrusting her free hand out towards him as he sits awkwardly on the edge of his bed. She’s dressed in the orange jumpsuit of a pilot and she seems vaguely familiar. He cautiously lifts his hand to take hers and give it a shake. The repairs they’d done on his back and shoulder work, but they don’t feel like part of him yet, and the areas start to feel raw and painful after too much time on his feet. His shoulder burns dully.
“Finn,” he responds, a little confused as to why she’s here. The glimpse of flightsuit orange had made his heart give a strange little leap he didn’t entirely understand, but it’s settled now that she’s standing in front of him.
She smiles at him. “Yes, I know,” she says, taking her hand back. Her other hand is tapping a datapad against her thigh, and she glances around the room with a frown, taking in the beige walls. “It is dead dull in here. You need some flowers or some trashy holonovels.”
“I’ve mostly been sleeping,” he says, rolling his shoulder for the twentieth time.
“Yeah, I would be too, with nothing to do,” she says. “Here.” She thrusts out the datapad. “It’s not Romance of the Lost Kingdom, but Dameron thought you might find it interesting.”
“Poe?” He’s not quite sure why his heart gives that funny skip in his chest again, but he does know he misses the closest thing to a friend he has. He takes the datapad from her and glances down at it, wondering what Poe might have wanted him to see. “Is he around?” He’s probably very busy, but Finn is getting better at walking, so maybe he could go to Poe instead.
Jess sighs heavily. “You look like a kicked pittin. No, he’s not around. If he was around he’d be in here.” Finn can’t really interpret her look, or if she’s being serious or not. He doesn’t let himself get his hopes up. Poe is important and Finn is not. Not anymore, anyway. “He’s still out with Red Squadron, but he commed in, and after all the official business concluded… you may have come up.” She nudges the pad in his hand. “It’s history. Our history. You probably got the other side of the story… before.” Finn looks down at it, frowning. “I know it’s gotta be some crazy kind of culture shock for you, so he thought maybe this would help?”
He’s not quite sure if it will help or not, but having Jess for company, however briefly, has been nice, and it was very thoughtful of Poe to think of him while on duty (although possibly not the most professional thing) and for Jess to bring him the datapad on her downtime. “Thank you,” he says. “It’s very nice of you both. I’ll make sure to read it right away.”
“It’s not really an assignment…” Jess starts, but then gives a little sigh like it’s not worth continuing the thought. “Look, Poe, Snap, and I go way back, and you saved Poe’s life. Everybody knows it. You need anything… you have any questions about anything you read in there...” she taps the pad again, “hell, you just get bored-- and you ask for me and Snap and we’ll take care of it. At least until Poe comes back. It’s the least we can do. You got that?”
He nods. He understands all the words, certainly, and he understands what she’s saying she will do, but the meaning behind it-- why she would say such things-- is still a bit beyond him.
He thinks back to his squad. To Nines and Zeroes and Slip. He supposes they all went ‘way back’. In fact, it’s hard to remember anything that came before the four of them being grouped together. He was reprimanded, officially, numerous times for helping Slip, and Nines and Zeroes seemed wholly unsurprised he turned ‘traitor’. He’s not sure what ‘going way back’ has to do with anything.
Poe finally makes it back the day Finn’s to be discharged from the medical facility. He’s preceded by BB-8, of course, who rushes in and begins burbling happily when she sees Finn sitting up in bed.
“BB-8!” Finn exclaims, leaning down as much as he can to pat the little droid’s dome in welcome. His back is still stiff, but it’s not quite so painful anymore at least.
BB-8 is still talking a mile a minute when Poe finally makes his appearance. Poe’s out of breath, and though his clothes are dry, his curls are damp. He’s not in his flight suit, so it doesn’t make sense that he’s just come in from the rain. Finn’s heart gives a funny flip in his chest at the sight of him after so long.
“Well, look at you,” Poe says with a grin. “Sitting up and everything. Good to see.”
There is a lot he wants to say to Poe. For being trapped in a room for weeks being bored, it feels like he suddenly has so much to say and so much he wants to catch up on. And yet, what comes out of his mouth is: “Why’s your hair wet?”
Poe ducks his head, and runs his hand through his hair self-consciously. “I can’t stay long. I’m rushing between a post-mission shower and a debrief, and I just wanted to see how you were.” He shrugs helplessly, like he had no choice in the matter of stopping by even though the medbay is not on any direct paths between Poe’s room, the hangar or the war room.
“I’m fine,” Finn says. “Much better. Moving out of here today, actually.”
“Oh! Good!” Poe says. “That’s good! Where are you moving to?”
Finn shrugs. “I’m still working on getting clothes,” he says, tugging at the medical gown he’s been living in. “I’m sure they’ll tell me where I need to go when I need to go there.”
BB-8 beeps and it prompts Poe to look at the chrono on his wrist. “Right,” he says in response to her. “I have to run to the debrief,” he says apologetically. “But I’m hoping you not having a room quite yet means you’ll still be here when I’m done. I’ll check back in then, all right? I can help carry your bags or something.” He grins, and takes a step forward to clasp Finn’s good arm. “It’s good to see you again, buddy,” he says, and then, with BB-8 beeping at him a bit more forcefully, he lets go and ducks out of the room again at a jog before Finn can even mention that he doesn’t really have any bags.
Finn gets clothes, and a room assignment, and a special lotion he’s supposed to put on his healing skin when he wakes up in the morning and before he goes to bed. Finn frowns down at the little jar. Getting it on his shoulder shouldn’t be a problem, but he can’t figure out how he’ll manage to get it on the wound on his back-- even without the stiffness he’s still feeling, it would be impossible to cover the whole wound himself. He says as much to the medical droid, who pauses a moment and then recommends a stick with a sponge on the end. Finn supposes that might work, but it seems needlessly inefficient and messy.
Finn doesn’t have anything at all in the way to pack up, other than the datapad Poe had insisted he have, the key card for his new room and the provided lotion and stick. All the clothes he owns are on his body at the moment. Poe’s jacket was probably a complete loss, and one that he felt keenly. He’d been given one possession of his very own to take care of and it hadn’t even lasted a few days! He resolves to take better care of the datapad.
Poe (and BB-8, of course) make their reappearance as he’s in the hall outside the medical bay looking at a map of the base, trying to determine how best to make his way to his assigned quarters.
“Hey, I’m really sorry that took so long,” Poe says, looking harried, pushing his now dry hair back from his forehead. “That debrief was surprisingly thorough. Glad I caught you, though. Where’s your stuff?”
Finn shrugs, datapad and room assignment in one hand, stick and lotion in the other. “This is it, really.”
Poe makes a face that Finn can’t entirely interprate. It looks strangely sad, but maybe that’s just BB-8’s mournful-sounding cooing. Poe pulls himself together a moment later, though, and pokes the stick. “This for physical therapy?”
“It’s to get the bacta lotion onto the parts of my back I can’t reach,” Finn explains.
“That seems needlessly complicated,” Poe says, frowning, and then reaches for the room assignment slip. “Where have they got you quartered, anyway?” he asks, glancing at the number, and then up at the map in front of Finn.
“Section seven-seven?” Finn offers, pointing at the area he thinks it might be with the corner of the datapad. “I think it’s over here.” It seems to be quite a ways from the main parts of the base and on the opposite side of the hanger.
BB-8 beeps indignantly.
“Nope!” Poe suddenly exclaims. “No. This isn’t gonna work. Hold on. I’ll be right back.” He marches back into the med bay and when he returns a few minutes later the slip is gone. BB-8 is making approving humming sounds for some reason.
“All right,” Poe is saying, and starts to take Finn’s meagre belongings from his hands, “You saved the life of a squadron leader, so even if you’re not a pilot, you’ve been adopted. It’s too inconvenient for us to visit you over in support staff housing, so you’re living with us.”
“Us?” Finn asks, confused, as Poe gives him a gentle shove in his good shoulder to get him slowly moving down the hall.
“Well, me. For now,” Poe says, and there’s something funny in his voice that Finn can’t give a reason for. “But I’m hardly ever in my quarters anyway, so you’ll have more space than you think, and Jess and Snap won’t have to trek across base to find you, so it’s really just best for everyone. Plus, then you’ve got a roommate to help with the lotion. This whole stick thing seems… well, ridiculous.”
Finn moves much slower than he would like, but Poe is patient, and BB-8 is trilling happily in front of them, so it must not be as frustrating to them as it is to him. Poe is actually more than patient, Finn realizes, but seems actually really pleased by the whole arrangement…
At least until they finally come to a stop in front of a door. “So this is it,” he says with a little shrug. He reaches out to the door controls when he pauses. “I, uh,” he ducks his head self-deprecatingly, “I just remembered I was in a bit of a rush between my shower and coming to see you, so it’s a bit… wrecked,” he says with a wince.
BB-8 chirps scoldingly.
“Wrecked?” Finn asks, hesitantly.
“Well, maybe not wrecked,” Poe says, rushing to reassure, “but it could do with some straightening. And I just want to reassure you that I’m not usually a slob, and I want you to feel at home while you’re here and--”
BB-8 lets out a series of noises that sound very much like ‘get on with it’, and, with a pained sigh, Poe does, pressing his hand against the mechanism to open the door.
The door slides open. Finn doesn’t notice the flight suit dropped in the middle of the floor along with a damp towel, or the fact that the second bed is barely visible under flimsiplast star charts, he just sees the space. It’s a palace to him, with an ensuite refresher, and a huge picture window overlooking the hangar with the ships parked neatly all in their rows. He steps inside and goes right to the window, even as Poe rushes in to gently set Finn’s meagre belongings on a side table next to the second bed, and then starts neatening the place, starting with the flight suit and towel on the floor, and then attempting to clear off the star charts.
“If you need to lay down now, you can just have my bed, and I can take this one. Sorry, I really should have thought this through…” Poe says, glancing around to find someplace to dump his armful of star charts while BB-8 helpfully points out other things he needs to pick up off the floor.
Finn barely notices. “Of course you’ve got a room with a view of the fleet,” he grins, turning back to look at Poe, and then tries to help a bit, picking up one of the star charts Poe doesn’t have in his arms and examining it.
Poe bites at his lip. “Most people like looking at the mountains on the other side, but…” his voice goes reverent, “there is nothing more gorgeous than a line of X-Wings.” He shakes his head, and then returns to his task, finally rolling up all the charts more or less neatly (including the one in Finn’s hands) and throwing them in the closet.
“This whole room is for two people?” Finn asks, disbelief in his voice.
“Sort of? It’s for the leaders of the red and blue squadrons, and both of them are me, so…” he shrugs. “That’s why I’ve got an extra bed. So that’s convenient.” BB-8 extends a dirty sock to him in her pincers, and he grabs it and stuffs it in his back pocket.
Finn paces out the room in his stiff gait. “On the Finalizer we’d have put 12 or 16 in here. Bunks went three or four high depending on the room. Footlockers tucked under the bottom bed and a closet the length of one wall just for armor and weapons.” He shoves his hands in his pockets and marvels at it all.
“Well,” Poe starts, “I don’t want to give you entirely the wrong opinion… I mean, I am an officer, so that does get me a bit more space. Our enlisted do sleep a little tighter together, but there’s enough room for plenty of personal items.”
“I don’t think anyone on the Finalizer had personal items. At least not the enlisted troops,” Finn says quietly.
Poe shrugs again, and goes to pull the sheets straight on the second bed. “That may be why we beat the Starkiller with about one percent of the personnel.” He looks up at Finn meaningfully, and then slaps at the mattress. “There. Good as new. This one’s yours. Night stand should be…” he trails off, checking the drawers of the furniture in question, “empty, yes. Good. I know you don’t have much now, but you’ll start collecting belongings soon enough, so you can keep things in here, or in the closet, or wherever. There’s storage in the ‘fresher, too, if you need it.” He takes a step back from the bed, then, offering it out. “So, yeah. Make yourself at home.”
Finn doesn’t take a seat, or even go over to the bed, still wandering around the room, looking at things. He’s absolutely fascinated by the idea of personalization. There’s a desk, two actually, but pushed together into one long table, and there are more of the star charts that were on ‘his’ bed, but also images of people. There’s holos and plastis of pilots from Poe’s two squadrons, singly and in groups, and then a number of items of the same two people at a variety of ages.
“Those are my folks,” Poe says, coming up from behind him and pointing at the woman and man common in so many of the images. Finn frowns at first, not understanding until Poe clarifies, “my parents.”
Finn understands the concept of parents in a sort of vague sense. He knows Rey feels the lack of hers keenly. Poe clearly cherishes memories of his. Finn’s concept of his own is more or less blank-- he doesn’t even have the vague memories that Rey does to miss them. There were just two people in the galaxy who mixed genetic material to make him, and then he was taken away. He suspects he felt differently when he was younger, but he suspects that about much of his training and many of his thoughts.
“Does it help,” Finn asks, “to have pictures of them around?”
“Yeah. Of course it does,” Poe says, with a smile that is sad around the edges again for reasons Finn doesn’t understand. “It’s easier to fight a war when you’re reminded who you’re fighting for.”
BB-8 chatters something suddenly, and Poe’s eyebrows raise in surprise. “You do?” he asks her, and then sorts through all the items on his desk before picking up a holo of Jess Pava making a face. He turns off the mini-projector and kneels to offer it out to BB-8. “Here. You’ll see,” he tells Finn over his shoulder. “Jess is a pain in my ass daily, so I don’t need to project a reminder of her on my desk. Her holo can go back into storage for a while,” he mutters as BB-8 plugs into the projector for a moment, and then disconnects, chirping up at them both.
Poe stands again and offers it out. “Here. See if this helps you.”
Finn frowns. “What do you--”
Poe sighs deeply and interrupts him. “You’ve gotta push the button to turn it on. Here.” He takes Finn’s hand and presses his index finger firmly against the button on the side of the device. It lights up immediately, but rather than projecting an image of Jess Pava, as it had done, it was now an image of Rey that BB-8 must have captured without her knowing on Jakku.
Poe’s right. Seeing her face again, even if he doesn’t know where she currently is or how she’s doing, it helps a lot. He’d almost forgotten what she looked like, frankly, and now she’s fresh in his memory again and he can barely look away.
“This is for me?” Finn asks, a little in disbelief, clutching the tiny projector. Poe’s already given him so many things-- a jacket, a place to live, his time-- surely Poe is going to realize that Finn gives back so little in return. Surely bringing back BB-8 and completing Poe’s mission has been repaid by now.
Poe rubs the back of his neck. “Yeah, of course. You can pick up those little holoprojectors for a credit or two down in the quartermaster’s, and I’ve got too many anyway. BB-8 can make you as many as you want.”
Finn looks up at Poe over the top of Rey’s image feeling so stupidly and desperately grateful. He doesn’t think he’s ever felt gratitude like this, he’s never had all that much to be grateful for-- just surviving another day, really. “I’m really sorry I wrecked your jacket.”
Poe waves him off. “You didn’t wreck my jacket, a saber-wielding sociopath did. And honestly, a jacket like that looks nice, but the real reason to have it is to protect your skin in a speeder wreck, so if it saved you one micron of damage from Kylo, it fulfilled it’s purpose, and I don’t have a single regret, all right?” He steps close and presses his hands around both of Finn’s where they’re clutching the projector. “This is yours. The first of many personal belongings you’ll have to find a space for, all right?” He grins, and steps back a little when Finn can only nod. “Okay, what else can I show you?” he asks thoughtfully. “Where the canteen is? How to find Jess and Snap when I’m not around? Or maybe you just need a nap?”
“How long are you on planet for?” Finn asks. The muscles of his back are starting to protest having to hold him upright for so long, so laying down is probably an option he should be considering, but Poe is busy and important and he doesn’t want to waste any precious time with him.
“Oh,” Poe sounds surprised he’s asked. “Well, no guarantees, of course, but I generally get at least a standard day of downtime between missions-- unless there’s an emergency.”
Finn’s conflicted. A day is certainly more than they ever got on the Finalizer, and it seems an incredible luxury to have that time to recharge between missions, but somehow it also seems such a short time, and although his back is aching, he can see time unspooling in front of him, wasted, while he sits here looking at a holo of someone who isn’t even here. He sets the projector carefully down on the nightstand and straightens. “If you’ve got other things to do, by all means I can fend for myself, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a bit more of the base.”
Poe looks thoughtful for a moment and then seems to come up with an idea. “How do you feel about company?” he asks, grinning.
Honestly, Finn’s a little ambivalent about company. He’s still not sure how people on base will treat him aside from the pilots that Poe has sent to check in on him. He’s not about to do anything to make that grin dim, however, and he offers out a little shrug. It certainly can’t be more nerve wracking than escaping the Finalizer. “I’m game.”
Poe nods. “With Red Squadron coming back today with no losses, there’s probably going to be a bit of a party in the canteen. It’s a great way to meet all the pilots at once,” he suggests. “And a chance to eat something that’s not that protein ration they give you in the medbay.” He makes a face at the idea of the ration and then reaches out to grip Finn’s elbow to shepherd him out the door. “They ever let you drink booze on that Star Destroyer?” he asks.
“Sort of. No selection-- just some fermented vegetable mash, and just enough to take the edge off really.”
Poe laughs and pats him on the back, gently, and well clear of his scar. “Oh buddy,” he says, shaking his head. “All I’m gonna say, is moderation is key.”
‘Bit of a party’ is a bit of an understatement. Whatever it is is in full swing when they get there, and Poe is greeted with calls of “Commander!” and a cheer when they step into the canteen. Poe is in his element-- Finn thinks he only looks more at ease in a pilot’s seat-- smiling and greeting everyone as he makes his way to a long bar through the crowd to tell the person behind it (but loudly enough for the whole crowd to hear), “Round for the mechanics!” and another cheer goes up.
Finn feels bad that he kept Poe from this for all of the time it takes for someone to press a glass into his hand and welcome him heartily to the party. He doesn’t think he’s ever been welcomed to something in his whole life.
Poe turns around to see him holding the drink and raises an impressed eyebrow at him, before leaning close to explain, “That’s a sign of respect. Mechanics always get their drinks before the pilots because they take care of our ships. They keep us safe and get none of the glory.”
“I’m not a mechanic,” Finn says helplessly.
Poe tips his head consideringly. “Kept me safe, though.” He grins, flashing white teeth. “Drink up. It’s how you say ‘you’re welcome’ to this crew. I’ll get you something to eat so you’re not on the floor afterwards,” he laughs and then turns back to the man behind the counter to place an order.
Finn obediently takes a sip from the glass in his hand. Whatever it is, it’s strong, even his unsophisticated palate can tell that, but it tastes good, too. Nothing so bitter as what he’d had before. Poe finds them a place to sit, and Finn leans forward, propping himself up with his elbows on the table in front of him, the scar tissue on his back still too sensitive to be pressed against the chair back for long.
People start coming to the table once they’re settled, and he expects it’s all for Poe, but they go out of their way to talk to him too, and thank him, and push more full glasses at him (far more than Poe’s been offered), and maybe it’s all the free drinks, but he’s almost overwhelmed by it all. The camaraderie is so easy, and it’s what he always wanted with Slip, Zeroes and Nines, and here it is on offer like it’s nothing.
The food comes just as Finn is starting to go all buzzy ‘round the edges, and Snap and Jess come over to share their table with a few more plates of things to try. It’s all finger food, greasy and strangely satisfying and like nothing he’s ever had before, and he alternates bites with sips from his glass as he slowly goes warm all over, and time starts to expand and contract strangely around him, and he’s catching what’s happening only in snippets. Poe laughing. Jess pushing another plate of food at him. Snap pulling his glass out of his clutching hand and replacing it with a glass of water. Poe laughing sideways, as Finn puts his head down on the table in front of him, his spine feeling too loose and rubbery to stay upright all of a sudden.
There’s strange sounds from somewhere, and Poe is leaning down to check on him (“You all right, buddy? I’ll be right back.”) surrounded by pilots grinning and attempting to drag him away. He’s smiling, though, so Finn’s not worried, and Snap stays seated beside him, drinking Finn’s leftover drinks and keeping Finn’s glass topped up with water.
Another moment, and the sounds have resolved into music and Finn lifts his head a bit to see a large group of pilots (with Poe at the center) singing loudly near the bar. There’s a raucous song with a chorus everyone seems to know about being assigned to pilot a scow instead of a fighter where everything goes wrong. Another uptempo song with innuendo Finn only half gets the gist of comparing an X-Wing to a beautiful, faithful lover. As the night progresses the songs get slower, more beautiful, and sometimes sad. Poe’s got a good singing voice, he realizes, and both squadrons seem to know it, leaving him more and more often to sing the verses as they chime in on the choruses, if at all. What can’t Poe do, really? Finn thinks, as Poe looks over at him while he’s singing a verse about lovers being left behind when the pilots leave for battle. He gets a strange feeling in his stomach he is nowhere near sober enough to begin picking apart that only goes away when Poe breaks eye contact as Jess bumps companionably into him as the chorus kicks in.
He closes his eyes, so he can listen to the music without noticing Poe looking at him, so he won’t get that feeling again. It wasn’t entirely unpleasant, but it was complicated, and his brain is not up to that right now.
Another moment, and he’s upright again, and Poe is giggling beside him as he gently tries to get him to his feet. “Oh, buddy, I hope you don’t hate me tomorrow morning,” Poe is saying, and Finn feels floaty and loose-limbed and thinks “How could I hate you?” so hard that the words come right out of his mouth.
Then he’s sideways again as Poe and Snap gently get him settled face down on his bed. There’s some murmuring he can’t really make turn into words, and then the door closes and then Poe is face down on the bed across from him with an easy laugh. Poe turns his head to look at him, big smile on his face before it slowly melts into a frown. “Oh shit, shirt,” he says, and then giggles again-- probably because of how it sounds, Finn thinks, as he’s giggling at that too-- as he levers himself up from the bed to stagger over to Finn’s.
“Shirt,” he says again, and starts to tug at the hem of Finn’s top, pulling it up his torso. Finn complains with what he hopes is an eloquent moaning sound as it gets stuck over his head momentarily before one last sharp tug pulls it free. Poe goes away for a moment and then he’s back, holding Finn’s jar of lotion too close to his face. “I promised,” Poe explains carefully, unscrewing the jar.
Finn shrugs, the Med-Droid’s instructions not as important as sleep to him as Poe gets the lid off and gets some of the contents inside on his fingers. Finn closes his eyes and snuggles into the pillow under his head expecting that to be all he needs, but it’s really Poe’s firm, warm hands on his back kneading skillfully at his aching muscles that sends him right to sleep.
There’s a soft cooing noise first thing the next morning and Finn cracks his eyes open into a squint. Light is streaming through the big picture window overlooking the hangar and he had no idea light could hurt like this. He shields his eyes with his hand which cuts the light enough to see Poe in the other bed. “BB-8, you’re the best,” he’s murmuring, reaching out to where BB-8 is offering out a little bottle of pills to him in one of her pincer arms.
BB-8 trills happily and rolls a little with the praise.
“Shhh,” Poe says, patting BB-8 gently on the dome and then shaking pills into his hand. “Don’t wake Finn.”
BB-8 trills again, but much more quietly. It makes Finn chuckle despite himself and that lets Poe know he’s not asleep. Poe chuckles back. “Or maybe he’s already up?”
BB-8 chirps a little more loudly, rolling over to see Finn, and the noise makes him wince.
“Shh,” Poe murmurs, sliding out of bed. “We still have to be quiet, because I was a very bad wingman last night.”
BB-8 beeps quietly and mournfully in response.
“No, I was!” Poe insists. “I should have cut him off earlier! But he was having such a good time.” He pads across the space between the beds and offers out the pill bottle. “Here. Take a few of these and drink some water.” He taps his finger against a glass on his nightstand. “It’ll help.”
Finn does as he suggests, sitting up a little stiffly in his bed. His head hurts like anything, but he’s not gonna throw up, so he figures he can power through until the water and the pain reliever do their thing.
“How’s your back?” Poe asks, reaching for the lotion on the bedside table and jiggling it in his hand, asking for permission.
Finn shrugs. “Go ahead. And thanks for remembering last night.” His back is stiff and sore, but it’s nowhere close to agony. Poe’s hands are a bit more precise this morning compared to his scattershot memories from the night before, keeping the lotion to his wound rather than a sloppy but enthusiastic massage of his whole back. He kind of misses the massage, frankly.
“And how’s your head?” Poe asks from behind him with a smirk in his voice.
Finn snorts. “Feels like a mynock’s attached itself to the inside of my skull,” he says ruefully, “but I’ve had worse.”
“How have you had worse? I thought this was your first bar party?”
“Well, it’s all just dehydration, right?” he shrugs again, pulling vague memories from personal care classes from another lifetime ago. “This is nothing compared to a week of desert survival training, let me tell you.”
Poe’s hands go still on his back. “They--” he starts indignantly, before cutting himself off. “No, sorry. I’ll stop getting surprised every time I’m outraged by something the First Order does before you get bored of me.”
Finn finds it hard to believe that could ever happen, especially over Poe feeling bad about him, but this feels like one of those things he is slowly learning should not be said aloud without properly mulling over the consequences, so he keeps it to himself. Poe pulls his hands away a moment later, job done. Finn tries not to let his disappointment show.
BB-8 rolls up and offers out his shirt in her outstretched pincer. “Thanks, BB-8,” Finn says, taking it off the little droid with a pat to her head. He wonders where BB-8 found it. He’s got a vague memory it got flung into a corner of the room last night.
He shrugs into the shirt as Poe makes his way into the closet to dig out a change of clothes for himself.
“You remember how to get to the canteen for breakfast, or did you lose that to the alcohol?” Poe asks grinning, throwing the shirt he was wearing into a hamper and sliding on a new one. It’s not like Poe dresses particularly flamboyantly, mostly sticking to neutral colors when he’s not in flight-suit orange, but even the choice between beige and brown seems exotic to someone who’s only ever worn black. Finn wonders what it’ll be like to have choices like that to make. Poe tosses a look over his shoulder, “Do you even want breakfast this morning, or should I let you sleep the rest of that off?”
Finn chuckles and pushes himself to his feet, although he’s a little wobbly still. “I can make it if you can.”
Poe dips his head. “I’ve actually gotta duck out this morning. Morning briefing. Then I gotta check on the girl.”
“The girl?” Finn frowns, but he’s not sure why.
Poe chuckles. “Sorry. Black One. My fighter.”
“Your girl.” Finn chuckles in realization, and he thinks Poe might actually be flushing in embarrassment.
“All pilots do that.” Poe sounds a little bit defensive. “Bet even First Order pilots call their ships girls.” He chuckles a little. “Or boys. Depending. But Black One is definitely a lady.” He glances over towards the desk and the pictures on it. “Think mom’s A-Wing was a guy, though.”
“Your mother was a pilot?” Finn asks.
Poe laughs. “Yeah, of course she was a pilot!” He looks over to his desk again at the pictures before making a face and turning back. “Huh. I guess she’s not in her flight suit in any of these. Whenever I think of her, she’s in her flight suit.”
BB-8 bleeps and flashes her laser pointer at the datapad and Finn glances over at it. “Is she in the stories you gave me? I read all of them, but I’m not sure...” He trails off. There were a lot of people in them. A lot of pilots.
Poe lifts his eyebrows in surprise. “You read all of them?”
“You gave them to me to read. You said they’d help,” Finn explains simply.
“Yeah. I guess I did.” He licks his lips, looking stunned for some reason and then shakes himself out of it. “Shara Bey,” he says at last. “Mom was Shara Bey. Dad’s Kes Dameron, if he’s in there.” He scruffs a hand through his hair.
Oh. Finn remembers those names. “Yeah. They were in there,” he says aloud, and then mulls things over, because suddenly things are rearranging themselves in his head. He says things aloud so that Poe can correct him if he’s wrong. “So second names-- they connect people?” he says, because Poe and Kes have the same second name. He’d just assumed it was coincidence, like the way that there’s a pilot named Jess and an attendant in the med bay called Jess.
“Yeah, sometimes,” Poe says, slipping a new (to Finn, at least) jacket out of his closet to throw on over his shirt. “Depends on the planet, mostly, but yeah. I’m Kes Dameron’s son, so I share his last name. Some people share names when they pair up, find someone they love. Or come up with new names.”
“I don’t have a last name,” Finn says. He only has a first name because Poe gave him one, frankly.
“Not yet. Maybe you’ll come up with something. You know, I’ve been to a planet where nobody has a last name until they become an adult-- they pick a name for themselves based on who they are or what they do. You could do that.”
Finn frowns. “I don’t really know who I am or what I do yet.”
“Well, then keep looking. You did help bring down the Starkiller base though. Maybe you could be Finn Starkiller.” Poe’s voice goes strange then, like he’s one of the dramatic announcers from a holoplay.
Finn laughs. “That makes me sound like one of those space pirates in Jess’s holonovel stories.”
Poe scrunches up his face. “It is maybe a little dramatic. Still, if anyone could pull it off…” He laughs and then turns away, going after his boots. One is in the entryway. BB-8 starts dragging the other one over from where it was kicked under his bed.
“So I have another question,” Finn says, and this one seems a little more complicated.
“Go for it, buddy.”
“So, your mom was a pilot, and your dad was infantry.”
“Yeah,” Poe confirms, pulling on his boot.
“And that was allowed?”
“Yeah, of course it was allowed.”
“After the Empire was defeated?”
“Hah. No,” Poe says, hopping on one foot, trying to get the other boot on. “I was born two years before the Battle of Endor. War can make some people a little frisky, hard to reign that in.”
“No court-martial? No reassignment to the opposite ends of the galaxy?”
“No. We don’t do that here.” Poe points over to the photos. “Like I said, we all need something to fight for. We’re not gonna get punished for finding it.” He chuckled. “Although they did ground mom for a bit before I was born ‘cause she couldn’t fit in the cockpit, so she sort of considered that a punishment.”
“So even I could pair up with someone? And it would be okay?” Finn frowns. It’s not something he’d ever considered before. It was never an option. It seems strange, small and precious, to have a squad of only two.
BB-8, strangely, is bumping insistently at Poe’s leg and chattering at him. Also strange: Poe’s eyes look wider than they usually are. “Uh. Yeah. Sure,” Poe says and scrambles for the datapad on his desk, nearly dropping it. “Um. BB-8 says I’m running late for the briefing.”
BB-8 lets out a squawking sound that Finn usually thinks means a negative, but he’s certainly no expert.
“Yes. Real late. Let’s go, BB-8.” Poe gestures sharply towards the door, and BB-8 rolls through it with a low tone that sounds strangely like a sigh, while Poe darts out at a jog.
Finn uses the time without Poe to explore the base. He has breakfast in the canteen, and chooses all his food himself, because after last night he’s a little wary of people ordering him things and where that leads (face down on his bed and giggling, apparently). He memorizes the map of the base so he doesn’t need to keep consulting it. He goes for lunch. He pulls out his datapad and reads some things. The stories Jess likes are not really to his taste-- there’s too much he doesn’t understand yet, and they all seem to be about pairing up.
Finn thinks about Poe’s parents and re-reads the parts of the history stories that they are in. Jess’s stories are mostly about picking your partner based on attractiveness, which is not strategically sound. The history stories don’t say anything about the attractiveness of Poe’s parents, although the images on Poe’s desk would imply they are. The important thing, Finn thinks, is the diverse and complementary skills Kes and Shara would have brought to their partnership. Kes could shoot a blaster, had survival training and endurance. Shara had engineering and navigation skills and could fly anything. It was hard to think of a situation the two would be ill-prepared for.
Poe comes back in his flight suit, BB-8 trailing behind him, while Finn is still sitting on his bed reading.
“Sorry that took so long,” Poe says, running a hand through his hair, where his curls have been compressed by his flight helmet. “Looks like both squadrons are headed out tomorrow for escort duty, so we wanted to get some practice maneuvering in.”
“Oh,” Finn says, not sure how to feel about that. He’d noticed the ships taking off and coming back, of course, they were right outside the window, but he hadn’t thought that would be a harbinger of Poe’s impending departure.
“Have you had dinner yet? I was just gonna jump in the ‘fresher, and then head to the canteen.”
“No, I haven’t,” Finn says, a little hesitantly. “But is it gonna be like last night, because I don’t think I can do that again so soon?”
Poe laughs hard, wiping at his eyes. “Stars, no,” he says, when he calms down. “Just food. The whole fleet would be permanently grounded if we did that every night.” He shakes his head, before reaching into his closet to pull out a change of clothes. “Be out in a flash,” he tosses over his shoulder on his way into the refresher.
Dinner is, as promised, just food. It’s good, like all the food is here, but he’s still pushing it around on his plate more than eating it.
“What’s up?” Poe asks with a little frown. His plate is nearly empty and Finn’s is clearly not.
“I’m not sure,” Finn says honestly.
Poe hums thoughtfully and props his chin up with his hand. “How’s your head?”
Poe frowns. “Did you--”
Finn cuts him off. “It’s just…” he sighs. “I’m just wondering how long the escort job will take?”
“Oh. Right,” Poe says, looking a little surprised. “Couple standard days. Maybe longer depending on the route we have to take around First Order patrol lines.” He shrugs. “Is this about the lotion, because--”
“No. I’ve got the stick, still. I’ll figure it out. Don’t worry about it.” Finn says. He’s not really sure what it’s about, just that he doesn’t like it for some reason. Which makes no sense because flying missions are the thing Poe loves most in the world, and shouldn’t he want his buddy to be happy?
“Okay. No problem, then,” Poe says cautiously.
Finn makes a game attempt at clearing his plate a bit more. “Can BB-8 give me a holo of anyone?” he asks suddenly.
“Uh,” Poe says, caught off-guard. BB-8 chirps from below the table. “BB-8 can give you a holo of anyone she’s used her imager on,” he explains.
Finn ducks his head under the table to talk directly to the droid. “Do you have one of Poe?” he asks.
BB-8 nods her dome.
Finn smiles. “Can I have it?”
“You want a holo of me?” Poe asks, and Finn lifts his head above the table to look at him again.
“Well, yeah,” Finn says. “I mean, Rey’s my friend, and you and BB-8 gave me one of her while she’s not here. And now you’re not going to be here and you’re my friend, so...” Laid out logically like that, he wonders why it took so much effort to say it out loud. “Can I have it?”
“Yeah. If you want it. Of course,” Poe says, looking pleased. Finn’s pleased that Poe’s pleased. “But I wanna make sure it’s a useful one-- BB-8’s usually looking at the back of my head after all.” BB-8 blats rudely under the table, but Poe doesn’t respond. “I’ll make sure you’ve got a good one by tomorrow morning.”
In the middle of the night, Finn wakes up to see a dim light on the far side of Poe’s bed. He blinks drowsily, wondering if Poe’s escort mission is shipping out even earlier than he’d thought, and lifts his head just enough to see what the light is for.
He’s surprised to see it’s not Poe packing a flight bag, or BB-8 working on some sort of pre-flight maintenance.
Poe is sitting on the floor in front of BB-8, and the dim light is illuminating his face. He scrubs his hands through his hair, frustrated, murmuring so quietly to the droid that Finn can barely hear. “Are any of these even remotely…” He trails off into a sigh.
BB-8 coos quietly back at him.
“We’ll try one more time, and if it doesn’t work out, we’ll just give him my ID photo.”
BB-8 bleeps in the negative.
“Well, then help me take a good one!” Poe runs his hands through his hair again, flattening back down what he’d ruffled up before, and BB-8 goes back to cooing at him.
Finn lays back down on the pillow and closes his eyes. He’s not sure what it all means, but he’s pretty sure he wasn’t supposed to see it.
Poe leaves in the morning, BB-8 trailing behind. Finn watches the squadron take off from the picture window in Poe’s bedroom. Poe’s holo is on his nightstand next to Rey’s, and Finn is really glad BB-8 thought of the holos in the first place, because it’s very lonely without his friends around, especially now that he’s out of the med bay. He presses the button on Poe’s holoprojector and a hologram of Poe lights up above it and smiles at him. It’s different from Rey’s, who was caught unaware. Ray’s hologram shows her looking off into the distance, hair escaping the knots at the back of her head and blowing in the wind. Poe’s was made especially for Finn, and he’s smiling right into the image recorder-- smiling at Finn-- like there’s nothing else he’d rather be doing. It’s a nice feeling to have when Poe is away.
Everyone is away, really. With both of Poe’s squadrons gone the pilots’ side of the base is empty indeed, and the members of the remaining squadrons treat him like a stranger.
Poe has frequently told him that things in the Resistance are Very Different from the First Order, but he doesn’t think laziness is a virtue for either. Sitting around staring at his holos and waiting for Poe to return seems very lazy indeed, and it feels like it’s time for him to contribute again.
The scar tissue on his back is tender and new, but it’s not excruciating, and he’s pushed himself through much worse. His range of motion is fine, he can still run, and he’s ambidextrous with firearms, so even if his shoulder doesn’t like the kickback much, he can always switch hands. He’s not smart in the way Poe is, he’s no strategist or operations manager-- He’s no officer-- but there’s still a place in the Resistance for infantry enlisted men, and Finn’s at least had a little experience doing that.
Finn doesn’t know her well, but he trusts General Organa. She’s as ruthless in her pursuit of the goals of the Resistance as any First Order officer is of theirs, but she also fiercely adheres to certain rules of engagement, and Poe says she’s the most honorable woman he knows. He thinks he’d be all right getting back into the business of killing if he knows it’s for a greater purpose. He won’t be asked to slaughter anyone again.
He tests himself on the floor between the two beds. He’s been off-duty for too long to be able to manage the standard First Order fitness test, but he’s not quite as weak as he fears. He does enough push-ups to feel like he can manage a rifle. His sit-ups are only too slow because he’s trying not to aggravate the scar tissue on his back. The squats are actually within First Order parameters, if not what he’s used to. Feeling reassured and competent enough to at least try training, if not go out on duty yet, he goes to try to find someone to enlist with.
Even when command staff aren’t in the war room, they’re usually around the war room. He’s learned that most sleep nearby, and that there’s a tiny version of the canteen, where they can go to get caf without having to leave the vicinity. Heading in that direction seems like a good place to start.
Poe’s taught him how to decode resistance uniforms-- how to tell officers from enlisted, pilots from infantry from engineers. Knowing what to look for, he goes looking for the first infantry officer he can find.
He runs into General Organa instead.
“Finn, wasn’t it?” she offers, greeting him. She seems sadder, somehow, than the first time he met her. Now that he’s read the history of the Rebellion and the Resistance, he thinks he understands. He’d only known Han Solo a few brief standard days and seeing him die had been a blow. He couldn’t imagine losing someone like that having known them for half of their life. Slip dying had seemed inevitable, really. Han Solo dying felt like the universe making a mistake.
He nods in reply. “General. It’s good to see you,” he starts, building his case in his head for why she should agree to what he was requesting.
“How are you settling in? Healing all right? I heard Commander Dameron’s taken you under his wing.”
He lifts his eyebrows in surprise. D’Qar is small compared to Starkiller or even the Finalizer, but there are still thousands of personnel. He’s touched that she thought him worthy of not only remembering but keeping track of. It bolsters his courage a little bit.
“I’m doing very well, General,” Finn answers. She’s tiny, but in her own way is as intimidating as Phasma, and he feels his shoulders pulling back and heels coming together as old habits die hard. “I was hoping to talk to someone about all that, actually. I’m feeling nearly back to my old self, and I’m hoping to find a place in the Resistance. I’m trained as infantry, so I figured that would be a natural match, but if there’s someplace else I can be of use…”
She looks at him thoughtfully for a moment. “There are plenty of places you can be of use, certainly,” she says, “but I can’t imagine it would be easy to take up arms directly against those you used to serve with.” He feels like she’s looking through him. He know’s she’s no Jedi, but she’s sensitive to the Force and he doesn’t think it’s paranoia to say that he feels he’s being measured by her with every sense she has. “Intelligence would take you for your inside knowledge of the First Order alone. I’ve no doubt you’d succeed in maintenance or support services. Commander Dameron spoke highly of your natural gunnery abilities, which at least puts the vacuum of space between you and your kill.”
He likes that she doesn’t sugar-coat it. They’re both clear on what he’s asking her to let him do. “With all due respect, General, it’s what I know,” he says frankly. “And I’m not going to lie and say it’ll be easy to shoot people in armor I’m intimately familiar with, but no one knows better than I do the consequences of the First Order advancing. It’s probably not fair to shoot a trooper who can’t remember anything else but the Order and the conditioning he’s gone through, but it’s far less fair to let him advance to take another hundred children to be fed into that system. I’ll take the shot, and I want to be put into a situation where I can take the shot.”
She takes her time to assess him, not feeling rushed to say anything, and Finn stands straight under her gaze and tries not to flinch. “Well, I see what Dameron sees in you, at least,” she says at last, letting her lips curve up ever so subtly into a smile. “That boy would rather have a cause to believe in than be a pilot, and I think he’d die if he wasn’t a pilot.” She nods. “All right. I believe you. I’ll put you in touch with Major Ardanna and we’ll see what you’ve got. The space battles are flashy, but when it comes down to it we’re going to need good troops on the ground, planet by planet. I think you’re a good man, Finn.”
Finn wants to flush up with pride. He hasn’t known her long, but he suspects the General is sparing with praise. She’s got better things to do than puff up the ego of one infantryman. “Thank you, General.”
“Don’t thank me yet. Like I said, Intelligence is going to want another crack at you as well. Think you can handle both?”
Finn resists the urge to salute. “Yes, sir!” he says, and she favors him with another smile.
“Then at ease and on your way. You’ve got a lot to prepare for.”
He reports for duty first thing the next morning. Not real duty, not yet, but assessment. It hadn’t occurred to him before now that other people might have gotten hurt while he was hurt, and there’s actually a group of young men and women assembled just outside base who are in the same situation he’s in along with a few raw recruits. A woman with a new prosthetic hand. A man with scarring across his face. He marvels at the investment that the Resistance puts into them when they must be low on resources. He knows he’s made the right choice.
There’s something comforting about being back in a uniform. There can be a dark side to uniformity that he knows intimately-- the loss of self, the brutal suppression of uniqueness-- but there’s also a comradeship that he didn’t even realize he’d been missing. Hanging out with Poe and the pilots had been nice, but he was never really one of them. Even in the training uniform he has on now, he feels like if something happens to him it tells people ‘Here is where he belongs, and what he was called, and here are the people who will miss him’. The Stormtrooper armor made him nameless, faceless-- just another one of the replaceable multitude.
“I don’t recognise you,” says the man with the scarred face. His uniform identifies him as ‘D. Krell’. “You new to base?”
Finn offers out his hand. “Finn,” he introduces, and isn’t it a thrill to have that on the patch on his chest rather than FN-2187? “And I’ve been around since just before Starkiller, but most of that was in the medbay.”
The woman with the prosthetic flexes her hand and chuckles ruefully, but that’s all they have time for before Captain Artax arrives to put them all through their paces.
“Hello and welcome, or welcome back, to the Resistance infantry,” she says in the booming voice of drill instructors everywhere, regardless of planet or affiliation. “Your job is to prove to me that you can be trusted with a weapon, a uniform and the lives of your fellow troops.” Finn can’t help but blink in surprise, even though he knows he should expect by now that the Resistance takes care of it’s own. Artax catches him staring. “Do you have a question about that, Finn?” she snaps.
He straightens even further. “No, Captain!” he announces, resolving to do better.
“Good.” Artax marches down the line of them, all at attention. “You will be marching two days out into the D’Qar wilderness, and then two days back in. At each checkpoint marked on the map, you will have to pass a skills assessment. If you fail a skills assessment, you fail this qualification. If you do not complete the route, you fail this qualification. If your squad does not return as a unit, on time, you all fail this qualification.”
One of the youngest in the line sputters at that, and Artax is immediately in his face. “Is there a problem, Zanday?”
The kid takes a moment to pull himself back into order and then responds sharply, “No, Captain!”
She backs off a step and addresses them all as a group again. “If you can’t manage to keep your squad together on a nature hike, then there’s no place for you in this army. There is no cannon fodder here. There are no expendables. We are on the side of the Light, but we are outgunned and outmanned. All we’ve got is superior personnel, so if you’re not capable of protecting the resources of the infantry, we will find another place for you.” She looks at them all expectantly. “Do we need to find you another place, soldiers?”
The response is unanimous. “No, Captain!” they all snap back.
She slaps a holoprojector with the map into Krell’s hands. “Then pick up your kriffing packs and get moving!” she barks.
“What in Force happened to you?” Poe exclaims, as Finn comes through the door of Poe’s quarters. BB-8 squawks in alarm.
“I enlisted!” Finn says, grinning. He is pretty sure he knows what he looks like. He is covered in mud, and probably smells like a rancor pit. He should be exhausted. After all, he had to carry his pack and Zanday for the last two klicks after Zanday twisted his ankle during the obstacle course. Instead he is elated.
“You did what?” Poe asks, looking poleaxed.
“I enlisted. In the infantry.” Finn says, proudly. “While you were gone, I did the assessment course. At first, it was a little awful because Zanday called me ‘that Stormtrooper’ and I thought they all might hate me, but they really just cared that I could keep up. I got top marks on almost all of my skills tests, and we made it back three standard hours early even though Zanday hurt himself, and Captain Artax wants to make me a sergeant!”
“A sergeant,” Poe says, sort of sounding impressed but also sounding something else.
“Yeah! In command of a squad! She said she,” he licked his lips trying to remember exactly what she said-- He wanted to remember it forever, “she hadn’t seen such dedication to the well-being of fellow soldiers in a very long time.” His cheeks hurt from smiling so much. He can’t believe he’s getting praise for what once earned him rebukes. “She’s putting through a promotion recommendation today.”
Poe’s thoughtful for a moment and then says, “Well, keep that up and you won’t be enlisted for long,” he says, smiling softly. “Couple more promotions and you’ll have to take the Officer’s Exam.”
Finn shakes his head. “I’m no officer.”
Poe looks at him knowingly. “Just because those First Order idiots didn’t think you were capable, doesn’t mean you’re not. In fact, it probably means the opposite.” He sticks his hands in his pockets. “Go take a shower and then we’ll go to the canteen. I’ll buy you a drink. We should celebrate.”
Finn blanches. “I dunno if I want--” he starts.
Poe laughs. “One drink. Not all the drinks like last time. I promise, you’ll be able to say your name afterwards.”
“Oh. Okay,” Finn smiles back. That sounds nice, and it’s been a long time since he’s last seen Poe, so it’ll be good to catch up. He gets a spare set of clothes from the closet and heads to the refresher.
It feels amazing to scrub the dirt off, and it’s still a refreshing change to take showers here on the Resistance base where he’s not on the clock like he was on the Finalizer. He lets himself luxuriate, but only a little. Just because he can doesn’t mean he should waste resources after all.
He shuts off the shower and towels off before sliding into his clothes and padding back into the bedroom. Poe’s sitting on his own bed with BB-8 at his feet and BB-8 beeps a query. It sounds like an innocent enough question, but Poe frowns faintly.
“What was that, BB-8?” Finn asks with a smile, not for the first time wishing he knew binary.
“BB-8 wondered how you took care of your back while you were out,” Poe translates.
“Oh,” Finn says, a little surprised. “My back was feeling better, so I stopped putting the lotion on. It was a pain to do it by myself anyway.” Finn shrugs. “I was carrying a full pack and it didn’t bother me, so I’m sure it’s fine.”
BB-8 beeps another query and looks up at Poe.
“Can I take a look?” Poe asks, before adding, “BB-8 wants to make sure you’re ‘fully repaired’.”
Finn chuckles at the little droid before he shrugs and walks over, pulling the back of his shirt up over his head. “I’m fine BB-8. I promise.”
Poe huffs a breath out as he moves behind Finn. “It’s still pretty pink,” he says, and Finn can feel a delicate touch on his back, before the sensitivity fades over the scar tissue and on the far side of the wound. Nerve damage obviously, but nothing catastrophic. This isn’t his first scar after all.
“I’ve…” he starts.
“So help me, if you say ‘I’ve had worse...’” Poe mutters under his breath, and Finn snaps his mouth shut. Finn hears Poe step away and he goes to pull his shirt back down.
“Hold on,” Poe says, and Finn keeps his shirt up, confused. “Might as well use up the rest of this lotion while you’ve got me around to put it on.” Footsteps signal Poe coming back and then his warm hand is on his back again, smoothing the cool bacta lotion down the length of his scar.
“How much of the lotion is left?” Finn asks from underneath his shirt.
Poe pauses a moment, and Finn imagines he’s checking the jar. “Another day or two maybe?”
“I guess that’s enough to take with me,” Finn says. Poe’s pulled his hand away from Finn’s back so Finn guesses it’s safe to pull his shirt down.
“Take with you where?” Poe asks, sounding concerned, and Finn glances back over his shoulder at him, smiling to put him at ease. It wasn’t like he was shipping out somewhere tomorrow.
“Just the infantry barracks. You’ll finally have your place back to yourself.” He tugs his shirt straight.
BB-8 beeps, swiveling her dome between them as she looks back and forth. Poe runs his hand through his hair and smiles back but even Finn can tell it’s a little strained. “It’s not like…” he starts, and then blows a heavy breath through his lips. “I’m honestly gonna miss the company, buddy.”
Oh. He may have miscalculated. He opens his mouth to say something, although he’s not sure what. Maybe something about admiring Kes Dameron would be good. Or that he needed to give back to the Resistance the best way he knew how. Or that he liked the pilots, but knew he could never really be one of them. No clever words are coming out of his mouth now, though, and he remembers that Poe is the one with that skill set-- he’s the smart officer.
Poe must see that no words are going to be forthcoming and pats his arm. “No. It’ll be good you’re over there,” he’s saying. “If you’re going to command troops, you should be nearby. Good for morale. I’m really proud of you, Finn.” He swallows. “Come on. Lemme buy you that drink.”
BB-8 chatters quite a bit at that, but Poe doesn’t translate, so Finn just follows Poe out the door, BB-8 following behind and talking at their backs.
Poe gets cheerier as they walk the corridor, and once they get to the canteen Poe drags him right up to the long bar and throws an arm around Finn’s neck. “My buddy here,” he says to the somewhat amused man behind the counter, “has just been made sergeant. Get this man a sergeant’s drink.” BB-8 chirps in support.
Finn sputters. He hasn’t really been made a sergeant yet, there’s just been a recommendation. “I’m not quite--” he starts.
Poe shushes him as the man behind the bar speaks up. “And what is a sergeant’s drink?” he asks, looking between them.
Finn opens his mouth to speak again, but doesn’t really know what to say. He doesn’t know what any of the drinks he had before were even called.
Fortunately Poe rushes in like he never intended Finn to answer. “Something incredibly alcoholic,” Poe says with a grin. “But he’s cut off after that. He’s a leader of men now, so he’s got to be responsible.” Poe slaps him on the chest with his free hand and then goes on to order his own drink and two plates full of whatever’s for dinner.
The glass slides across the bar a moment later. It’s a very large drink, and it’s a completely different color than any of the drinks he had the other night… at least the ones he remembers drinking. Poe’s laughing and sliding credits across the bar to the server, though, so he has to assume it wasn’t a complete mistake.
“Well, I think you’ll still be able to say your name after that, but spelling it might be a little more challenging than it usually is,” Poe says, still laughing, and collecting his own, smaller, glass. The laughter is good to see, because for a moment there in Poe’s room he thought he’d really done something wrong, damaged their friendship somehow, but Poe is laughing again and back to his old self, so maybe it was only temporary.
They find a table near enough to some other pilots to seem companionable while still having a little bit of privacy. BB-8 tucks underneath the table and bumps gently into their shins or trills when she has something to add to the conversation. The drink Poe got him tastes distressingly like syrup, but he is determined to get it all down, because every time he takes another sip and winces afterwards, Poe’s eyes go all squinty with laughter.
He half expects the exclamation is from some pilot who might have bought him a drink before, but when he whips his head around to look to the voice he sees it’s actually Krell, surrounded by a few more infantry he doesn’t know, and he remembers that yes, the canteen is for everyone, not just the pilots. “Hi, Krell!” he responds, giving a little wave.
Poe’s frowning in confusion and Finn realizes belatedly that they don’t know each other. “That’s Danver Krell,” he explains to Poe. “He was in the squad I did the assessment run with. Really excellent map skills. Good shot too.”
“Not as good a shot as you!” Krell says, coming up to the table with his infantry friends and slapping Finn on the back. It’s a little uncomfortable on the scar tissue, but it’s Poe who winces. “Dead center every target,” he tells Poe and his friends, “and you carried that kriffing loudmouth Zanday the whole way back. Almost would have been worth failing to leave him behind, you ask me.”
Finn frowns. “We’re supposed to take care of each other,” he says seriously.
Krell snorts. “Yeah, I know. Only teasing, mostly. Still, a couple days alone in the woods with no one to listen to him be a blowhard might be just the thing he needs.”
“Oh,” Finn says, finally getting the joke and nodding. “Well, he failed so maybe that’ll teach him some humility.”
“I hope they bust him down to the lowest of support staff for a while. The humility of latrine scrubbing would do him good,” Krell says with a smirk.
Out of the corner of his eye Finn sees Poe sit up straighter. “Nothing wrong with sanitation,” Poe says seriously. “Every job on base is important and serves the cause.” BB-8 peeks out from the table to beep her support.
Krell looks Poe up and down. “Sure. Right.” Krell is agreeing, but something tells Finn he doesn’t really agree. Finn hasn’t told Krell what he did aside from being a Stormtrooper in the First Order, though, so it’s not really his fault and he doesn’t take offence.
Krell’s infantry friends look between Krell and Poe and move off towards the bar. There is a strange tension now between his two friends who don’t know each other, so it’s up to Finn to try to break it. “Krell, this is my friend Poe. He helped me escape the Finalizer.”
Krell raises the eyebrow on the unscarred half of his face. “Thought I recognised him,” Krell offers his hand out and speaks directly to Poe. “Blue Squadron chased some First Order fighters away from a troop ship I was on. I got this mess on my face out of it,” he says, pointing at the scarring there, “but I’m alive. Thanks.”
Poe nods in acknowledgement, and the tension seems to melt just a little.
“‘Course, I’d probably know you anyway. Finn talked about you a lot out in the woods. Sounds like you’ve had a few adventures.” He chuckles, and Poe looks over at Finn as if to confirm. Finn shrugs. He knows two people, Poe and Rey. Who else is he gonna talk about? “Can I buy you two heroes a drink?” Krell offers.
“I’m cut off.” Finn parrots Poe’s words from earlier instantly. He doesn’t think he can handle another one of these syrupy things-- frankly more due to the taste then the alcohol.
Krell chuckles and Poe puts his hand over his own glass. “I think we’re both good. Finn’s moving to your side of the base, so we should probably be mostly sober when he packs or he’ll end up with holonovels and spare droid parts instead of clothes when he opens his bag.” Poe grins ruefully, like maybe he’s actually had that happen to him once or twice.
“Right,” Krell nods with a little smile. “Good call. You’d get unholy grief from your bunkmates for years if you introduce yourself that way.” He takes a moment, glancing between Finn and Poe again and then gestures towards the bar. “Well, I’ll leave you two to your meal then,” he says after a moment. “Finn, if you want to meet your possible bunkmates early, a bunch of us are sitting over there.” He tosses his thumb over his shoulder to a close set group of tables on the other side of the room, already crowded with infantry having a good time by the sound of things.
Finn nods and waves him off, turning back to Poe as Krell leaves for the bar. “I don’t think anyone would have listened to me out there if Krell hadn’t trusted me.” He feels like he needs to explain. “He made Zanday shut up.”
“Well, then I’m glad he was out there with you,” Poe says, returning to his food.
Finn nods and glances back over his shoulder at the infantrymen on the other side of the room. “Do you think I should head over there?” he asks cautiously. Finn has never really been in charge successfully before. He was nominally the leader of his Stormtrooper squad, but two of them hated him and the other he got reprimanded for coddling, so he’s pretty sure he did it wrong. Poe on the other hand-- Poe’s got more leadership experience than Finn thinks he will ever have. If he’s really going to be made a sergeant, he’s going to need some advice.
Poe looks up from his food. At first Finn thinks Poe is going to say something funny, his mouth already quirking up in a wry grin, but Finn must be giving away more than he’s intending to with the expression on his face, and Poe’s grin goes more serious. “You worried about this?”
“A little?” Finn offers. “If I’m gonna be in charge of anyone-- or even just part of a group-- I want to do it right. I’ve never gotten it right before.”
“Sure you have. You’re all right with me and BB-8.” BB-8 concurs, rolling gently into his shins and trilling her support. “You’re all right with Rey… and honestly, she seems like a tougher nut to crack than any of those folks.”
“I suppose you’re right,” Finn says, to which Poe unexpectedly laughs and shakes his head.
“Yeah, that seemed heartfelt.” He puts both of his palms on the table and makes sincere eye contact that Finn doesn’t know how to look away from. “Look. The important thing about any situation you find yourself in now, is that you have to trust your instincts. You have, if you’ll let me say so, fantastic instincts. You pretty much guessed your way off of the Finalizer, off of Jakku, and through the destruction of Starkiller Base. I can safely say that is the most stunning streak of instinct I have ever heard of, and I’m including the story about Luke Skywalker turning his targeting computer off during the run on the first Death Star.” Poe laughs. “If you think you should go over there and say hello, I think that’s probably a real safe bet.”
Finn feels his cheeks heat at the compliment. He’s not sure he’s ever had one so thorough before. “Well. Okay then,” he says, and pushes himself to his feet. “I’ll be right back.”
“I’ll be right here, when you’re done gracing those grunts with your presence,” Poe says, and returns to his food.
The infantry are a lot more like Krell than Zanday, and it’s nice. Poe had already warned him that news traveled fast through the barracks, although he was talking about the gossip of pilots at the time. Apparently the same was true of infantry and the men and women at the table have already heard all sorts of stories about his exploits on the qualification course. He confirms that he was perfect on the artillery range. He also confirms, albeit a bit more hesitantly, that he was one of the two to face off against Kylo Ren armed only with a lightsaber. He qualifies that by making the point that he was the one who was brought back unconscious and that Rey did most of the work, but that segues into an opportunity to tell all of them about how amazing Rey is, and that she’s learning to be a Jedi and bringing Luke Skywalker back, and that next time Kylo Ren doesn’t stand a chance.
Krell comes back with his friends a few minutes later with drinks for the table and Finn takes that as his cue to leave since he is not having another drink. It’s nice, though, to have that many people seem to appreciate him and look forward to seeing more of him. He thought his little squad of Poe and Rey and BB-8 would be more than he could ever hope to wish for, and now there are even more people! The strange thing is, is that even having so many more friends doesn’t make how he feels about his first three friends any less special. They are still his first real squad, and even if he stays with the infantry for years and years he thinks he’ll still feel that they are the most important people (and droid!) in the world to him.
He turns to head back to Poe with a big grin on his face and is surprised to see Snap sitting at the table with him. Finn likes Snap (and Jess and all the other pilots, really) so it is something of a surprise to see Poe looking so… Angry? Frustrated? Finn’s not quite sure, but they are both frowning at each other, and Finn jogs over to see what’s the matter.
“Hi, Snap,” Finn greets cautiously, to announce his return, stepping within earshot of the table.
Snap looks up at him and smiles, although it looks a bit strained. “Hi, Finn. I was just leaving. Kept your seat warm, though.” He pushes himself to his feet, and then, most surprisingly, reaches out and steals Poe’s drink (which looks like it’s been refilled while Finn was away).
“Hey!” Poe exclaims, making swipe at it.
Snap leans close to Poe and speaks more quietly, but Finn can still hear him. “Liquid courage didn’t work last time,” Snap is muttering to Poe. “So find some bravery all on your own.” He pulls back with a smile that looks more like a baring of teeth and then steps away from the table as Poe glowers after him.
Finn’s honestly a bit shaken. Poe, not brave? Snap being unfriendly with his Commander? What’s going on?
Snap’s smiling honestly, however, by the time he turns back to Finn and slaps him on the good shoulder as he takes a swig of Poe’s drink. “Heard congratulations are in order, man. Poe told me all about it.”
“Thanks, Snap,” Finn says, and then adds cautiously, “Is everything okay?”
“I think so,” Snap says, and then glances back at Poe who is still frowning at his back. “Poe will think so, too, in a minute or so. Or at least he better.” Snap says, and takes another big drink before moving away to join pilots at another table. Finn watches him leave with a frown, feeling rather confused by the whole situation. Poe is still sitting at the table though, and Poe can probably clarify everything for him. Poe is good at that sort of thing.
“Hey, Poe,” Finn says, taking his seat again. “Was that..?” he starts, before rephrasing, “Are you and Snap okay?”
Poe quirks a smile, at least. “Yeah, buddy. We’re fine. Snap just likes to think he’s older and wiser just because he’s got a beard… and is a decade older than me.” He chuckles a little.
“Can I ask what you were talking about?” Finn asks, biting his lip hesitantly. He doesn’t even really know what it means to be friends with someone as long as Poe and Snap have been friends.
Poe’s hand twitches like he wishes the glass Snap had taken was still there for him to grab. “Command decisions,” he says, after a long moment, looking thoughtful, but doesn’t add anything more to explain himself. Finn doesn’t think it’s very likely that he’s going to, even if he sits quietly and waits for more.
Poe taps his fingers on the table in front of him and then seems to come to a decision. “You done with dinner?” he asks, seeming suddenly at least a little more energetic.
Finn looks down at his plate. He’s satisfied enough and the food’s gone cold anyway. “Yeah,” he nods.
“Okay. Good,” Poe says, pushing up from his seat. “Come with me, then.” He steps around the table and offers Finn a hand up from his seat.
Finn’s a little confused but also a little curious. It’s an instinct he doesn’t even have to give thought to, however, to take Poe’s hand when it’s offered. Poe smiles at him and pulls him up to his feet, and then tugs him forward to get him moving in the direction of the door to the canteen. He lets go when they’re both moving in the right direction.
Finn flexes the hand he took a few times after he lets go, kind of like Poe reaching for that drink that was no longer on the table.
They don’t go back to the room. More surprising is that BB-8 does. Poe stops the little droid when they get to a set of service stairs, asks BB-8 for a flashlight and then sends her on her way. She goes, but not without bleeping extensively at Poe first.
“Yes. Yes, I’m going to!” Poe tells her, bending down, and Finn’s surprised to see him flushing. “Well, I can’t if you don’t leave, can I?”
As BB-8 rolls away, Poe finally straightens and leads Finn up the stairs. “What was that all about?” Finn asks, as he climbs.
Poe shakes his head. “I’ll tell you when we get where we’re going.”
“And about the thing with Snap, too? ‘Cause that was weird.”
Poe chuckles humorlessly. “Sure, why not? It seems to be that sort of evening.”
At the top of the stairs, there’s an access door and Poe pushes it open. Finn’s surprised to see it doesn’t come out on an upper level of the base, but on top of the base. “Okay, watch your step out here,” Poe warns him, “the light from the flashlight isn’t gonna be too bright. Don’t look up until I tell you, okay?”
“Where are we going?” Finn asks, confused, as he steps out onto the sodded roof. No moon has risen to light their way. He can’t even remember if D’Qar has one. He can pick out most of the features of the ground in the indirect light from the airfield but Poe takes his elbow and leads him away from the light, and when his flashlight turns on, the light it casts is red. Finn’s gone on enough night maneuvers to know that a red light preserves night vision, and he wonders what they’re doing out here that needs it.
“We are going to my favorite place on D’Qar,” Poe says with a smile in his voice that Finn can’t see because of the darkness. He doesn’t say anything after that and they walk the rest of the way in silence, carefully picking out their footsteps in the dim red light until the lights from the airfield can no longer been seen behind them.
“This should be good,” Poe says, and keeps the flashlight pointed at the ground between them as he comes to a stop. “Okay. Now, we’re gonna sit down, close our eyes, lay back, and not open them again until we’re looking straight up at the sky. Deal?”
“Uh, yeah. Sure.” Finn doesn’t really get all this. Did they really come all the way out here just to look up? Poe is asking him to do something, though, so when Poe folds down to sit, he does the same, closing his eyes before laying down flat next to Poe on the grassy roof of the base and not opening his eyes until he’s looking straight up.
He gasps, adrenaline flushing through him, and one hand digs automatically into the ground below him to hang on while the other seeks out Poe’s hand to clutch to it. Poe chuckles, pleased, next to him, but he barely pays attention, heart still pounding too fast at the idea that he might spin right off the surface of D’Qar into the beautiful void above him.
It’s so dark where they are, that even the dimmest star can be seen, the edge of the galaxy arcing overhead in a milky splash. What he hadn’t expected were the colors. He knows, from personal experience, that stars can be all sorts of colors, but he’s used to looking up (or out the window of a ship) and seeing the stars all be white. In the near perfect darkness here, that’s not the case and the stars glow red, blue, white and gold overhead. He’s never seen anything like it. It’s beautiful.
“Sometimes when I’m out in deep space,” Poe murmurs next to him, “I turn off all the lights in the cockpit so I can see it like this-- all the colors, all the stars. This is the closest I get to that while planetside.”
“I feel like I’m going to fall into it,” Finn says, and Poe squeezes his hand as if to prevent that from happening.
“But in a good way, right?” Poe asks.
Finn thinks it might be the most beautiful way to go that he’s ever thought of. “Yeah.”
Poe takes a deep breath beside him, as if he’s gathering his courage, and Finn can’t imagine what he’s gathering his courage for. After all, he’s got to be used to the hypnotizing void of space by now. “Finn, I feel like I’ve known you my whole life, but when I sit back and really count the time we’ve spent together… It’s, like, six days.” Poe laughs.
Huh. It does seem like much longer than that, but then… “Well,” he says slowly, “That’s days longer than any other friend that I’ve had.”
Poe squeezes his hand again. “Force, Finn. You can’t just…” He huffs a sigh. “You’ve got friends now. The infantry guys. Snap and Jess. And you must have known Rey longer than that.”
Finn shrugs. “I guess. They all just feel different from you.”
“Yeah?” Poe asks, and there’s a strange note of hope in his voice. “Different how?”
Finn stares up at the stars and feels the planet turn under his body. Feels Poe’s hand warm in his. “I dunno,” Finn says, not sure exactly why he feels the way he does. “We feel complementary. Like partners.” He thinks of Shara and Kes. Of Han and Leia. Of these tiny precious squads of two. He’s not sure how to convey all this to Poe.
“I told Snap I was thinking of volunteering to fly transports,” Poe murmurs.
“What!?” Finn bolts upright at that, despite the beauty of the stars, and tries to read Poe’s face in the dim starlight. Poe loves flying fighters. The idea of him behind the controls of anything slower or less maneuverable just seems wrong in a way Starkiller Base seemed wrong. A planet shouldn’t be a weapon. You shouldn’t burn up stars. Poe should not ever sit behind the controls of a flying box.
“Yeah, that was about his reaction, too.” Poe chuckles and pushes himself up to sit as well. “When you told me you enlisted, all I could think about was the vulnerability of transport ships. All the best pilots are in fighters, so if a troop ship is ever really under pressure there’s never anyone behind the controls who can really think their way out of it…” He pushes the fingers of his free hand through his hair. “I know we’re in a war, and I know it’s stupid to think any one of us is gonna get out of this alive, but when I thought you died when the TIE Fighter crashed it gutted me, and the idea of you getting hurt is only worse now. If I can do something to keep you that little bit safer, shouldn’t I do it?”
Finn opens his mouth, but he’s not sure what to say. He saved Poe’s life, sure, but they saved each other, really. Taking Poe out of a fighter to fly a bunch of grunts around instead can only hurt the chances of the Resistance.
Poe is still holding one of Finn’s hands and now he turns to reach for the other. “Do you understand what I’m trying to say?” Poe shakes his head like he’s struggling, but it’s hard to make out his face in the dim light of the stars. “I’m making a hash of this. I don’t suppose the First Order had anything like couples.”
Finn bites at his lip. “Is this like Shara and Kes?” he tries, although he’s unsure. “She flew his transport in the last battles of Endor.”
Poe chuckles and it’s a relieved sound. “Yeah, sort of. I honestly didn’t give you the history texts to get you to date me, but they’re turning out to be unexpectedly handy.” He squeezes both of Finn’s hands in his. “I really like you, Finn. So much so that BB-8 and Snap and Jess are starting to get bored of my mooning over you. I don’t know if you know about any of this, but… I want to watch your back in battle, but I also want to spend all my free time with you. I want to hold your hand. I want to watch you sleep. I want to kiss you.” He ducks his head. “And I’m really, really hoping that you want that with me too.”
Finn lets himself think about this for a very long moment. Poe’s not wrong, there aren’t couples in the First Order-- at least not that he knows about. Who knows what the officers were allowed to do that he wasn’t?
He doesn’t like Jess’s holonovels. He’s not a space pirate, and Poe is no princess with a torn dress-- the characters are awful-- but the things the characters do to express their feelings, well that never seemed so bad if only better people were doing them. He’d like to think he and Poe are better people. Real people. Like the histories. He wonders what the histories will say about he and Poe at the end of this war. Will he even be mentioned? Poe will, certainly, he’s sure.
Poe starts sliding his hands out of Finn’s. “Ah, sorry,” he says, shaking his head. “I rushed that. Your scar is still healing, for Force’s sake. Last time I get love advice from a droid.”
“Wait!” Finn says, clutching at Poe’s fingers. “I’m still thinking! It’s a lot to think about.”
“Okay.” Poe sounds cautiously optimistic, and leaves his hands where they are. “Can I help with that? Explain anything?”
“I like holding your hand. And I like having your back,” Finn starts. “And when I thought you died in the TIE Fighter I could barely understand anything about how I felt about that. I’d never cared about anyone like I cared about you after just a few minutes.”
Finn can’t see much, but he can see Poe’s white teeth flashing in a grin in the dim light of the stars. “And how about kissing? ‘Cause I am a real big fan of that.” Poe lets go of one of Finn’s hands and raises it instead to Finn’s cheek, fingertips just grazing the skin behind his jaw and thumb resting under his eye. He’s touching Finn like he’s fragile, made of crystal, and Finn chafes just a bit. It’s a nice touch, but he’s not delicate. He can assemble a rifle in 30 standard seconds, thank you very much. He’s even shot people with one.
“Look, we did get up to things, in the barracks, you know. It’s not like I’m some innocent,” Finn sputters.
Poe hums thoughtfully. “A bunch of fumbling around in the dark with someone you don’t really care about, desperately trying to get off before anyone catches you?” he murmurs, not unkindly. “Not really what I’m talking about.” Poe’s teeth clamp down on his own lower lip before he starts to lean forward, incrementally slowly, and Finn realizes Poe is giving him time to escape.
Finn may not know precisely what’s going on, but he’d never run from Poe.
The hand still on Finn’s cheek gets a bit firmer, the gentlest of pressure to tilt his head just slightly as Poe closes the remainder of the distance and presses his lips to Finn’s.
Poe’s lips are warm, and soft, and at first they just press against his as if testing his resolve, but when Finn doesn’t move away he can feel Poe smiling against his mouth. He can’t see much in the dark anyway, so he closes his eyes. It’s a shockingly pleasant feeling, kissing, considering it’s just pressing your face into someone else’s face. He can’t imagine this lasting very long, though, he thinks, when Poe’s other hand comes up to frame his jaw, Poe’s lips part slightly against his, and oh--!
Poe has opened his lips around Finn’s lower one, pulling on it ever so slightly. Poe’s lips move against his, encouraging Finn’s lips open, Poe’s hands cradling his head. It’s gentle. It’s unhurried. Poe is absolutely as confident in this as he is behind the control column of anything with thrusters and it’s devastating to be at the center of all that focus and skill. Finn sees what Poe means-- this is absolutely not to be rushed.
When they finally part, Poe’s biting his own lip again a few moments later and he’s staring at Finn’s mouth like he wishes Finn’s lower lip was between his teeth instead. His hands are still against Finn’s cheeks and one thumb stretches out to run across Finn’s sensitized lower lip, like Poe just can’t help himself somehow. “See?” Poe murmurs, sounding a bit breathless himself, “That’s not the sort of thing you do in five minutes in a broom closet.”
Stars no, Finn thinks. It feels like the sun has risen and set again while they were sitting here, Poe exploring his mouth. He feels boneless and tips forward towards Poe, like a magnet finally succumbing to the pull of its opposite. “I wish BB-8 was here,” Finn murmurs, pressing his forehead to Poe’s.
“Why would you possibly wish that?” Poe chuckles. Poe’s fingers are tracing Finn’s hairline along the nape of his neck and it’s terribly distracting.
“Because I kind of want a holo of this.” Finn smiles.
“You won’t need one. I’ll kiss you so often you’ll get bored of it,” Poe says with a chuckle, and nudges Finn’s head up with his nose so he can press his warm lips to Finn’s again.
Finn packs up his things that night in a bit of a haze to move to the infantry barracks on the other side of D’Qar base. “This is good,” Poe says to Finn, even though it sounds like he’s really saying it to himself. “The beginning of a relationship, we should really have our own space. Not move too fast.”
“I’m sure you’re right,” Finn says, because Poe sounds like he needs a bit of reassurance.
“This whole thing started by us stealing a TIE Fighter. We can’t keep going at that pace! I can’t possibly steal a Star Destroyer for our one month anniversary. You’ll have to wait for a year.” Poe cracks a smile and Finn snorts at the terrible joke.
Finn slings the strap of his infantry-issued duffle over his shoulder, his two holos cradled gently in one hand. “I am literally just down the hall,” he says, leaning forward for one last kiss before he goes. It’s intoxicating-- no wonder the First Order didn’t let him do it before. He feels just the slightest bit out of control, like on that first night at the canteen.
Poe obliges him, but keeps it a short one, pulling away reluctantly just far enough so that their noses still touch. “I know, but I don’t want to be the embarrassing clingy boyfriend in front of all your new friends. You deserve to have friends of your own, and we’ll still see each other plenty.” Poe takes a breath like he’s gathering inner strength and then steps away. “Now go on and get out of here before you decide to steal any more of my clothing and leave me with nothing but my flightsuit.”
“Okay, okay,” Finn says, grinning, and backs away down the hall until he has to make a turn and can’t see Poe leaning in his door frame any longer.
The barracks, after Poe’s officer’s quarters, are a bit tighter, but it hasn’t been so long that he can’t remember how cramped things are on a Star Destroyer by comparison, so it’s no real hardship. There’s a small window to let in some natural light once the sun rises, and a set of bunks set into each of two walls. Three of them are clearly taken, so the top one on the left must be his. There’s one locker without a name on it for his belongings, and as Poe promised, there’s a desk space for everyone. He wants his two precious holos closer than his desk, though, so he sets them carefully on the tiny shelf attached to his upper bunk that acts as a sort of night table, and turns them on, the images of Rey and Poe keeping him company as he works.
That sorted he goes to unpack his duffle into his locker. He’s delighted to recognize Krell’s name on one of the other lockers, which means he won’t entirely be with strangers, and Krell’s got experience in the infantry here which he hopes he can rely on. He knows infantry work, but he’s still only got four days training with Resistance infantry. Having a veteran nearby can only help him.
He’s still hanging his clothes up in his locker (and some of them are Poe’s, but what are a few borrowed clothing items between boyfriends, really?) when Krell comes through the door with two other infantry in tow, still in good spirits from the canteen. “Finn!” Krell cheers, loud enough that he’s clearly had a celebratory drink or two. “We’ve finally liberated you from the pilots!”
Finn chuckles politely as Krell steps past him and over to his bunk. Krell falls into the one underneath his, but not before he glances at the two holos on his shelf. “Well, maybe not entirely liberated,” he says dryly, kicking off his boots and tucking them under his bed. “Still, I’m willing to forgive you a flaw or two if you keep shooting as well as you did.” He turns his head to glance at the other two men. “Finn here was dead center every target during training coming straight back from the med bay. Damndest thing I’ve ever seen. Rumor has is he had something to do with the destruction of Starkiller too.”
Finn ducks his head from the praise, but turns as the two other roommates come over to introduce themselves. “Joron Odai,” the taller one says, offering out his hand. “This is Marcave Nexlan.”
Finn shakes both their hands and nods. “Finn.” They frown a bit, so he clarifies, “Just Finn.”
“You the Trooper?” Nexlan asks in a curious, awed voice.
Krell sits upright on his bunk again and gives Nexlan a glare. “Doesn’t matter what any of us did before we got to the Resistance. We’re here now, and I trust him with my life the same way I trust any of the rest of you.” It’s the same tone of voice he used on Zanday, but Nexlan’s not full of himself in the same way Zanday is and acknowledges it.
“I didn’t mean…” Nexlan starts, and licks his lips. “Sorry,” he apologizes to Finn, and Finn’s honestly a little surprised to get such a clearly heartfelt one. “I just meant, maybe he has inside information. Can tell us where to shoot and stuff.”
“He’s got the same inside information I’ve got. Shoot at the enemy and make a direct hit and they fall down, armor or no,” Krell says gruffly.
Finn raises his hands, a bit placatingly. He appreciates what Krell’s doing, but Nexlan’s sorry, so he doesn’t mind. He reaches out and claps Nexlan on the shoulder in the way he’s seen Poe greet Snap. “Tell you what, though. There’s no peripheral vision in those helmets. If you can flank ‘em, there’s not much they can do about it.”
Nexlan gives a relieved smile, and Odai looks a bit impressed with him, and Finn goes to sleep that night grinning and feeling a little accomplished.
“Oh, stars,” Snap groans, approaching with his breakfast plate. “You actually went and did it.”
Finn looks up from his plate to catch Poe looking smug and Snap looking exasperated. Finn doesn’t know what his own face looks like, he’s been a bit distracted with Poe running his fingers gently across the knuckles of Finn’s free hand the whole time they’ve been sitting here and it’s all he can do to make sure his fork hits his mouth half the time.
“You doubted me?” Poe asks, supremely confident.
“Force, yes,” Snap says, taking a seat heavily like he has no other choice. “Put you in a cockpit and you’re the bravest thing I’ve ever seen, but you’ve spent weeks staring dreamily at Finn’s back like a little girl at her very first dance trying to get the attention of the local bolo-ball star.”
“As a former little girl, I take offence,” Jess says, dropping her plate beside Snap’s. “It was way more pathetic than that.”
“Oh, here we go. I was wondering how long it would take,” Poe says, setting down his fork. “You can’t give me 12 standard hours before you bust my balls for this?”
Jess holds her chin thoughtfully and stares off to a middle distance before turning to Snap to consult. “How long did he give us when we both struck out at that Corellian casino? Was that 12 whole standard seconds or thirteen?”
“Oh!” Snap exclaims, “or that time on Dantooine with the--”
“Okay, I get it. I don’t even get a last meal,” Poe slides his plate forward away from him and then beckons them on with his free hand. “Let’s get this over with. Fire when ready.”
Finn tenses up a bit beside Poe, not quite sure how to take all this. It’s all friendly, he gets that, but what he has with Poe now is so new to him that he’s not sure he can take being teased about it yet. Though Poe’s attention is on his two friends, Poe’s stopped the gentle movements of his fingers to instead give Finn’s hand a reassuring squeeze.
Jess sets him at ease entirely a few moments later when she ignores Poe’s instructions to let him have it in order to turn her attention to him kindly. “Good morning, Finn. How are you?” she asks with a smile. “This creep isn’t harassing you, is he?”
Finn gives her a relieved smile. They’re only directing their fun at the person they know can take it, and he feels protected-- not just by Poe, but by his whole circle of friends. “Good morning. I’m very good, thanks.”
“Yeah?” She smiles fondly at him. “You look happy, Finn. I’m glad.” She turns to look dryly at Poe. “This asshole on the other hand…”
Poe rolls his eyes as Snap shakes his head in incredulity. “I don’t know how Poe managed to win you over, Finn. This has got to be like when you go to get a wug-pup for a pet and find one so ugly and pathetic that it somehow comes back around to cute again.”
Poe manages a stoic face for all of a second before he snorts and then laughs, tears springing to his eyes, like even he at his most modest can’t possibly even pretend such a thing is true. Finn chuckles a little in reaction as Poe wipes at his eyes with his free hand. “Oh, man, I was almost worried there for a second, but that was weak.” He picks up his fork and pulls his plate back in front of him, and goes back to eating, turning his body towards Finn and away from Snap and Jess like they’re now beneath him.
Finn’s close to finishing his own meal. “I’ve gotta run soon,” he says, apologetic. “Morning maneuvers.”
“Oh,” Poe looks disappointed, but there’s nothing much Finn can do about that. “What about lunch? Say 1300 hours?”
Finn makes a face, suddenly realizing that synchronizing the infantry and flying schedules was on no one’s radar. “Can we do 1200? I’m supposed to be teaching some recruits on the shooting range.”
Poe shakes his head. “Meeting with the General. Can you do a late dinner?”
“I think I’m going to need to eat right after conditioning,” Finn bites at his lip apprehensively. This is suddenly complicated. “Sorry.”
Poe smiles softly at him and puts his hand on his jaw, “Hey, don’t apologize. We’ll figure it out. No problem.” He uses his thumb to gently tug Finn’s lip from between his teeth. “Just come on over whenever you’re done for the day and wait for me if I’m not home yet. We’ll see each other then.”
“Okay,” Finn says quietly, relieved.
“Hey, Commander,” Jess says, grinning. “You can pencil us in for lunch before your meeting with the General, but, you know, I have to go pick up the Admiral’s laundry at 1235, so…”
Snap nods sadly, “And I’m having tea with the Queen of Naboo at 1600, but I might be able to free up a little time for dinner for you, if I rearrange--”
He’s interrupted by Poe giving him a good hard shove in the arm. “Force, whoever gave you two the impression that you were funny has done a real disservice to the Resistance.” Finn chuckles a little, despite himself, even as Poe warns him, “Do not encourage them or they will become even more insufferable than they already are.”
Finn polishes up the rest of his meal in good humor and glances at his chrono when he’s finished. He really can’t put off leaving any longer if he’s going to have time to pick up his pack on the way out to maneuvers. “I’m sorry, I have to go,” he says, but Poe just nods.
“Alright.” He leans over and gives Finn a very brief and perfunctory (but heartfelt) peck goodbye. “Have a good day. Shoot straight.”
Finn grins at him fondly as he pushes up from the table. “Fly right,” he responds. He could get used to starting his days like this, even if it does mean he sees less of Poe than he did.
Poe smiles fondly back as Finn gathers up his things and leaves the table. As he’s walking away he can hear the bickering starting up again:
“You never give me a kiss goodbye!”
“Yes, well, Finn is orders of magnitude more attractive than either of you, so that shouldn’t be a surprise.”
“He never brings us flowers, he never tells us we look nice…”
Finn leaves the canteen laughing.
“Finn, hey.” There’s a murmured voice in his ear, and gentle fingers scratching through his close-cropped hair and Finn blinks himself awake to find that he’s passed out while waiting for Poe to come back to his room.
“Oh! Poe! Sorry!” Finn scrubs at his eyes and sits up, stretching on what used to be his old bed.
“Don’t apologize,” Poe says, smiling kindly at him and helping him sit up. “It’s not every day I get to come home to a handsome man sleeping in my bed.”
“That’s your bed,” Finn says, pointing to the other one.
“Technically, they’re both mine again.” He grins and sits next to him, keeping his hand stroking along Finn’s hair and neck like he’s making up for lost time during the day.
“Where’s BB-8?” Finn asks. Honestly he thought he’d be alerted by her little tootle hello rather than Poe’s greeting.
“I asked her to give us a little alone time, and she’s charging tonight at the hangar.” He smiles. “You feeling all right?”
“Just out of shape,” Finn says, shaking his head. “I’ll get back into the habit soon.”
“Well, I certainly hated to wake you, but I have something to tell you that can’t really wait too long,” Poe said, making a face.
Finn frowns. “What is it?”
“With your squadrons?”
Poe blows out a breath like he doesn’t want to say. “On my own.”
Finn’s wide awake in a heartbeat. “I’m coming with you.” After all, the last time Poe had been on a solo mission he’d only survived because Finn was there.
“Nice thought,” Poe says, leaning over to tenderly kiss Finn’s cheek and then keeping his head close as he murmurs in Finn’s ear, “but the General was pretty clear. Me and BB-8 and an old stripped X-Wing and nothing and nobody else. Besides, you’ve got duties of your own.”
“Where are you going?”
Poe pulls his head back, mouth in a strange line like he’s not sure whether to smile or frown. He settles with smiling. “It’s not a very secret Secret Mission if I tell everyone where I’m going before I go,” he teases lightly. “You have to know I can’t tell you.”
“I don’t like this, Poe. You needed me last time.” His hands reach out to clench in the fabric of Poe’s jacket.
“Look. This should be very, very low key. I am a glorified messenger boy going someplace very safe, that for certain reasons can’t have an official Resistance visit.”
Finn is not mollified. “Should be,” he says sulkily.
“Hey, this was never not going to be awful,” Poe says, drawing a resistant Finn into his arms. “I’m sorry this happened so soon. I’m sorry you’re not going with me. I’m going to be a wreck the first time you go out on a ground mission without me.” He presses his temple to the side of Finn’s head and rocks him a little in his arms, clearly trying to cajole him. Finn lets his body relax and lets himself be moved, closing his eyes. “This is our job, though. We both signed on to follow orders. War is kriffing shit. But we do it, because when we win, and when this is all over, it’s going to be an amazing new galaxy. And have I got plans for you when this is all over.” Poe tucks his face into Finn’s neck, and Finn can feel him smiling into the skin there, end-of-the-day stubble scratching just a bit.
“Yeah? What plans?” Finn asks, the petulance mostly an act at this point. He’s discovering it’s very, very hard to stay mad at Poe.
Poe hums regretfully against his neck, and it tickles. “Afraid that’s secret too, Finn. Top secret, until the proper time.” He pulls his head up to look Finn in the eyes again. “However, I can promise we will both be there, there will be little, if any, peril, and we both should enjoy it quite a lot.”
Finn huffs a sigh. “When are you leaving?”
Poe makes a face. “So early tomorrow morning it might as well be tonight,” he bites at his lip. “Think I’ll miss our breakfast date, buddy. Sorry about that.”
“Can’t be helped apparently,” Finn says, shrugging. He’s still upset, but there’s nothing he can do about it. He supposes it’s a good lesson: that as nice as things are over on the Resistance side-- the medical attention, the camaraderie, the booze and the kissing-- it’s still war, there’s still tough choices, and people are still going to die. As much as he might want it to be, it’s not Paradise. It’s just a little bit fairer and kinder than the other side. It’s not fair to take any of that out on Poe.
He leans forward to press his lips to Poe’s, to finally return the favor and be the kisser for once. Poe actually startles back in surprise when he does, but he grins broadly and returns his lips within reach just a moment later. Finn expects Poe to take control of the kiss after a few moments of his inexpert fumbling, but Poe is content to sit there and be kissed, expert or no, doing little except responding and making encouraging little humming noises.
“I guess I owe you a secret,” Poe says at last when they part-- Finn having exhausted his limited kissing knowledge much too soon-- whispering right up against Finn’s sensitive lips, “since I can’t tell you any of the rest.”
“What kind of secret?” Finn murmurs back, pulling away just far enough so that he can focus his eyes on Poe’s fascinating mouth.
Poe smirks at him. “You put your lips right here, on my neck,” he points to the spot with his finger, very near the pulse point, “and suck just a little?” He chuckles. “That’s the shield generator, buddy. Kablooey.”
“What, really?” Finn asks, curious. It’s hard to imagine that anything could be better than kissing Poe’s mouth, but he’s willing to give it a shot.
“Try it and see,” Poe says and offers his neck out.
Finn shrugs, but he has a certain scientific curiosity about it. He leans forward and presses his lips to the spot in a wet, open kiss, and Poe sighs above him, head lolling back even further. He sucks, just the slightest bit, as gently as he can, and Poe gasps his name in a voice Finn has never heard before.
He wants to hear that voice again.
Poe’s scent is strong here, masculine and metallic-- recycled cockpit air and engine oil-- and he inhales, rubbing his nose against the spot and then returning his mouth to it. He doesn’t want to hurt Poe, not ever, so he doesn’t do anything hard, but he sucks gently, and laves his tongue over the skin, and presses his teeth down just enough so that Poe can feel it, and Poe shivers against him and suddenly falls backwards on the bed dragging Finn with him in a tumble.
“Stay here tonight,” Poe breathes, sounding a bit flustered, and looking like he hadn’t meant to say it, but plunging on anyway. “Until I have to go.” Finn’s caught himself with his hands on the mattress on either side of Poe’s head, and Poe’s looking right up at him with the biggest eyes Finn’s ever seen. “We don’t have to do anything… Stars, you can even sleep back in your old bed and I’ll sleep in mine. Just... Force, Finn! It’s just been a night and I miss you like crazy already.”
He wants to. Skies, does he want to. He’s not sure what the next step past kissing is in Resistance pairing up is, but he’s pretty sure if he stays he’s going to find out and he’s going to like it a lot… but it feels like dereliction of duty to not go back to the barracks tonight on only his second night there. He knows there’s no curfew here or anything, but Poe was so firm about Finn not abandoning things here to go with him, it seems like an extension of the same thought to make sure he gets back to his side of the base to his men tonight.
He’s not quite sure how to say any of this in a way that won’t hurt Poe, however. He opens his mouth to try, but Poe must see something in his eyes and speaks before he can.
“Force, I hope those infantry guys know what they have in you,” he says, smiling softly as his eyes go a little bit sad.
“It’s not that I don’t want to stay…” Finn says, torn.
“Yeah, I know.” Poe pushes himself up on his elbows, pupils starting to return to their usual size and breathing going back to normal. “But you’ve got an overdeveloped sense of duty, and if anyone can appreciate that, it’s me.”
Finn sits upright again on the bed to give Poe room to sit up entirely if he wants, or just to give him space if he’s upset with him. He looks down at the blanket on the bed and clenches it in his fingers. Eye contact feels awkward now-- Poe was gasping his name a minute ago.
The mattress shifts as Poe sits up next to him. Poe’s hand gently covers his and eases his fingers around the blanket he’s grasping. “It’s all okay,” Poe murmurs. “I was probably pushing things anyway.” Finn tries to sputter out a denial but Poe continues. “I’m just wondering… hoping, is probably a better word, if when I come back, if you’re on base, we can arrange to make the most of my post-mission downtime?”
Finn nods. “Of course. Maybe comm in on your way back and I can ask the Major to be pulled from any non-essential training for the day?” He’s been volunteering for duties lately-- teaching the new recruits marksman skills and relaying whatever he can remember about First Order organization, tactics and life in meetings with intelligence and his commanding officers. Surely he can dial that all back for a day or two once Poe returns.
“Absolutely,” Poe murmurs and bends his head so his cheek presses against Finn’s temple and his lips touch the shell of Finn’s ear as he speaks. “I’ll even remind BB-8 to remind me.”
Finn has to close his eyes at the feeling of it. Being touched at all for sustained periods is still relatively new. Being touched like this can be overwhelming. He shivers. “Okay.”
Poe turns his head slightly and kisses Finn’s temple. “Get out of here if you’re going, or it’ll just make it harder on me to let you go tonight.” He pulls back to smile at Finn to soften the words. “I’ll see you when I get back.” He leans in for one smacking kiss to Finn’s lips, and then gives him a playful shove at his hip to get him on his feet.
Finn chuckles as he stumbles away from the bed, thanks to the shove. “No dawdling, now. Straight home once you’re done,” he says, backing away to the door.
“On my honor as a pilot,” Poe says, winking rakishly. “A week at the latest. Trust me, I don’t wanna be away from you any longer than I have to.”
Finn bites at his lip. He’s never felt like this before. No one ever talked about this feeling on the Finalizer or Starkiller, and he hasn’t been on D’Qar long enough to really have the data to make things clear aside from a few overheard conversations and Jess’s terrible novels, but he still thinks he knows what it is, even with limited expertise. Oh shit, he thinks. Pretty sure I’m in love.
Poe is, as promised, gone the next morning. Finn takes the long way around to breakfast so he can walk by Black One in the hangar before he goes to eat. It’s strange for Poe’s beloved T-70 to be here and for him not to be, but its presence is something like a promise. Poe would never abandon that ship, so Poe will be coming back to him soon enough. He touches the matte black hull and feels a kinship with Poe’s ‘girl’, as they both wait for Poe to return. The thought makes him smile as he heads to the canteen to start his day. He waves to the pilots as he gets his food, but sits with the infantry.
A beeping at his elbow startles him away from his meal. It’s an astromech droid-- an R4 unit that Finn’s pretty sure is one of the spares. Not assigned to anyone but ready to fill in in a pinch. He frowns at it as it beeps at him again. “Hello,” Finn tells it, curious and a bit confused as some of the infantry look on, intrigued. “Can I help you?”
It chatters at him and then one of its panels pops open to reveal one of those cheap holoprojectors clutched in its pincer arm. He reaches out to take it carefully. His name is written on it in a masculine script that he guesses belongs to Poe.
“What’s that?” Finn turns his head to see that Nexlan’s asked the question.
“It’s a holo,” Finn says, clenching the projector safely in his fist as, job done, the R4 trundles away from the table again.
“You gonna look at it?” Nexlan asks.
“Not now,” Finn says coolly, and tucks it in a pocket so he won’t be tempted. He returns to his meal with a smile. Poe left him a present.
“Uh, hey Finn,” says the tiny holographic projection of Poe. The rest of Finn’s roommates are all at lunch. Finn begged off, saying he needed some recovery time after conditioning. It was at least partially true, but he mostly wanted some privacy. “It’s about 0300, and I’m just about ready to head to the hangar, and for the first time since I joined the Resistance, I’m torn about going on a mission. I think it’s important, and I’m going to do my best, and Force knows I love to be in a cockpit, but I just really want to see your face at breakfast this morning, too.” Poe ducks his head, looking embarrassed, and Finn can hear BB-8 twittering at him. “I really thought that just letting you know how I felt would make all this easier. I thought that leaving things unsaid between us was what was making it so hard for me to leave. But now I’ve said everything, pretty much, and it’s even harder to leave now that I know what you look like when you’re flustered, or when you’re thinking of me fondly, or after you’ve been kissed.” Poe bites his lip. “Don’t tell Black One, but I think you’re my favorite thing in the Galaxy right now, Finn, and I shouldn’t have let you leave my room last night without telling you that. I’m going to be thinking of you the whole way there and back, and I hope you’re thinking of me too. Miss you already and I’m not even gone yet.” Poe shakes his head, like he can’t believe himself, and then kisses his fingers and reaches out to press them towards Finn (really, towards BB-8’s recording imager) until the holo goes dark.
The cheap holoprojector has a tinny speaker, and only projects in blue light so he can’t see that Poe’s flight suit is orange or the pink flush that must spread across his cheeks when he ducks his head, but it is now Finn’s most precious possession. He bites at his lip, happy in a way he’s never really felt before and pushes ‘play’ again.
“I thought we had something special, Odai!” Nexlan is saying, dramatically flopping back on his lower bunk, as Finn comes out of the ‘fresher that evening.
Odai is throwing clothes and a few personal odds and ends from his locker and desk into his duffle. “You’re my best friend, Nexlan,” Odai tosses over his shoulder, “but, no offense, you snore and you smell and you are uglier than a gundark. Meanwhile, the lovely Lieutenant Descin is gorgeous and smells like the Flowering Hills of Udulan Prime. More importantly, she has no roommate for the next few days, a sex drive that rivals my own, and inexplicably thinks I’m pretty great.” He zips up his duffle with a flourish. “Do the math.”
Krell is laughing at his desk. “Inexplicably is right.”
Finn grins faintly as he catches up on what’s happening. “When can we expect you back?”
Odai slings his duffle over his shoulder. “With any luck, never!” he calls and ducks through the door.
Krell’s still laughing, and once Odai is gone Nexlan laughs too. Finn manages a chuckle, but suddenly his reasons for leaving Poe last night seem thin at best. It’s true that even as one of the newer guys Odai is more chummy with the infantry than Finn is. He’s outgoing and instantly likable, and Finn has yet to see him in a bad mood, even in the worst combat drill. Finn knows he’s more reserved, a holdover from a life of having to keep his feelings bottled up if he wanted to avoid reconditioning, so he knows he has to put in more time than someone like Odai to feel connected to the men around him.
But maybe, when Poe gets back, it wouldn’t be awful to stay away for just one night. Krell and Nexlan are taking a few cheap shots at Odai now that he’s left, and if anything it’s boosting the camaraderie in the room-- there’s certainly no lingering antagonism over Krell’s snapping at Nexlan the other night. Finn smiles at them both as he boosts himself into his own bunk and he thinks one night, every once in a while, wouldn’t hurt at all. Maybe he’ll surprise Poe with it when Poe returns to base.
Time passes incredibly slowly without Poe on base. Finn volunteers for anything he can just to keep his days busy. On day three without Poe, Jess makes a special trip all the way over to the infantry side of the barracks just to invite him to lunch with the pilots and gives him a few more stories to read. She calls them ‘historical fiction’ and says they’re like the histories he’s been reading so far, but with less truth and more internal monologues. He thanks her politely, but nothing past the first few paragraphs get read. Quiet reading does not prove enough of a distraction, especially as the days tick closer to a week. Poe said he would definitely be back in a week.
By day four, he’s listened to Poe’s hologram at least ten times (it would have been more if he’d had more free time alone), and it lifts his spirits despite the increased infantry workload he has. Between the hard training and keeping his squad healthy he’s exhausted and occupied, which is good. It means that only at night, as one day ticks into the next, he has the time to lay in his bed and wonder why Poe hasn’t contacted anyone yet.
On day six, Snap and Jess go out of their way to pull him aside at mealtime to explain that sometimes those old stripped down X-Wings aren’t the most reliable beasts, but that Poe’s a great mechanic, so if anything’s malfunctioned in the machine Poe will be a little late, but he’ll show up.
On day seven, Finn spends all his downtime in Poe’s room, so that he’ll be there waiting the instant Poe comes in to throw his pack on the floor and change back into his normal clothes. Poe never shows up. When Finn shuffles back to his bunk very late that night he’s filled with dread. Poe promised to be back by now! Where could he be?
On the morning of day eight, Finn is picking at his breakfast when Jess comes right over to his table with the infantry with her astromech in tow. Her face is not a hopeful one, and Finn looks pointedly down at his plate, regretting whatever meager food he’d managed so far.
“Have you heard something then?” he asks glumly when he senses her standing at his shoulder.
“No. He’s probably just broken down off a trading route somewhere,” Jess says, with forced cheer, “but Roxy…” she pats the dome of her R6 unit gently, “Roxy says Poe gave her something for you before he left to be delivered today.”
Finn whips his head around and looks sharply at the little red droid. As soon as he’s looking, Roxy removes another holoprojector from a compartment in her body and offers it out. Finn snatches at it and grips it tightly in his hands. He should wait until after mealtime, he thinks, he should say thank you to Jess and Roxy, he should wait to watch until he has a few safe minutes alone. But instead he pushes up from his half-eaten (if that) plate, and goes sprinting off without another word to find a quiet place to play the message.
“Hey Finn. I’m really hoping that you never, ever get this message,” Poe is saying, and even though Poe thought danger incredibly unlikely, he seems distressed by the necessity of recording the message at all, and he digs one hand deep into his hair and tugs a little. “First of all, I’m sorry. Something has clearly happened that I did not anticipate. Please know I’m doing everything I can to get home to you as soon as I can. Secondly, and I’m sorry for this too, I still can’t let you know what I was doing or where I was going, and the people who do know won’t tell you either. There’s not going to be a rescue mission, so don’t even try to volunteer. You’ve already helped me out once more than you were supposed to,” he smiles faintly, “so let me do my job and get back to you myself. Thirdly, and this is the most important one, so listen up here...” He takes a breath, smooths his hands through his hair, putting it to rights again, and sits up straight. “I don’t regret anything. Even if the worst happens, I was living on borrowed time ever since I met you, and so all of this has been a bonus. Knowing you has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and these last few days with you… I didn’t know I could be so happy. I hope I made you happy too.” He seems a bit stymied with what to say next, and BB-8 tootles outside the picture, and Poe seems relieved to fill space by translating it. “BB-8 sends her love, too.” Poe blinks and then sputters, and BB-8 twitters a laugh at him as Poe scrubs his hands over his face. “It’s a good thing you’re never going to see this, because I don’t want to tell you that for the first time because BB-8 tricked me into it!” He reaches out towards the recorder and must give BB-8 a little shove, because the image rocks a moment before it stabilizes again on a more serious Poe as BB-8 laughs again. “But yeah, I love you. And I guess this means I have to tell you in person when I get back. And if you do get this message, I’m sorry, I’m proud of you, I love you, and I promise, I’m trying so hard to come home to you to tell you that face-to-face like I should.” Poe makes a strange face, a sad but hopeful little smile that Finn’s never seen on him before, and then the image cuts out and goes to black.
He’s suddenly in the war room. He can’t actually remember going there. It’s just Poe’s message and then feeling too much of everything and then he’s standing there, looking at the holotank and wanting someone to just do something. He knows what Poe said in the message, but Poe is the best pilot in the Resistance! Surely he’s worth rescuing? Surely he means more to the Resistance than to be left stranded somewhere? The Resistance looks after their own!
Anything could be happening to him now. He’s trying not to think of what Poe looked like that first moment they met-- beaten, exhausted and resigned to death-- but it’s there, lingering in his vision when he lets his guard down.
General Organa is talking in front of the holotank, but it’s not about going to save Poe, and so none of the words really sink in. He catches her eye, he thinks, but she doesn’t come over to finally talk to him. Some underling does, and Finn can’t be bothered to glance at his uniform to figure out name and rank.
“Can I help you?” The man says in a way that Finn is pretty sure means that the only help he would like to provide is to help Finn out the door.
“He’s been gone for eight days now,” Finn says, and when the man frowns uncomprehendingly at him, he realizes that he’d preemptively started the conversation in his head and skipped ahead past the part where he explains who and what this is all about. “Commander Poe Dameron has been out on a mission he told me would take no longer than seven days,” he says, “today is the eighth day. If there’s a retrieval mission, I want to volunteer.”
“We are aware. There is no retrieval mission planned,” the man says coolly, even as he’s angling his body to encourage Poe to the door.
“But…” It just doesn’t compute. How could they not want Poe back? The Resistance doesn’t leave people to die. That’s what the First Order does. He glances over at General Organa, and she’s definitely looking at him now. He smiles at her, thankful that maybe now he’ll finally get an explanation, but she doesn’t come over to him, and he’s instead left with this officer who’s put his hand firmly on Finn’s shoulder and is pushing him towards the door.
“Look…” he says, and Finn thinks it’s supposed to sound kindly, “Finn, isn’t it? We’ll send someone to let you know if he comms in, all right?” He smiles a little at him and then suddenly Finn is out the door and it’s been closed in his face.
Finn could have taken the man in a fair fight, or even in most unfair fights. It speaks to his level of shock that he was able to be moved at all when he didn’t want to go. He honestly doesn’t know what to do. He’s never felt like this before-- angry, sad, betrayed, hollow, all at once. He honestly thought the Resistance was different, and now he just doesn’t understand.
The next thing he’s aware of-- and he’s not sure how long he’s been standing out in the hall-- is the beeping of Roxy. “Oh, thank the Force,” Jess is saying, “there you are.”
He looks up and Roxy has apparently lead Jess-- and oh, there’s Snap too-- right to him.
“Stars, you look awful,” Jess says, coming over and hugging him. “What was on that holo? I’m sorry I didn’t come with you, but I thought you’d want to be alone.”
“I don’t understand,” Finn says, letting Jess hug him, but not hugging her back and looking up at Snap confused. “Why aren’t we going to rescue Poe?”
Snap takes a deep breath and pats him on the shoulder. “Come on. Let’s get you a cup of something warm to drink and we’ll have a little chat.”
They get him back to Poe’s room, which is both fitting and uncomfortable. They settle him on ‘his’ bed. Snap has produced a steaming cup of caf from somewhere and Jess throws the blanket from his bed over his shoulders and they slide the two desk chairs over in front of him to talk, like they somehow knew he doesn’t want anyone touching Poe’s bed. He’s not sure why he doesn’t. It doesn’t really make sense since Poe’s not here to protest, but somehow it comforts him to see the still slightly rumpled sheets that he couldn’t be bothered to properly straighten at 0300 eight days ago.
Snap manages a tight smile as Jess leans over to touch his knee in comfort. He feels stupid. They’re Poe’s friends too, and he knows they’ve lost people before-- the aerial battle above Starkiller alone thinned Blue Squadron’s ranks heavily, and that wasn’t even that long ago. Force knows he’s seen a lot of people die, so why does this hit him so hard?
“So,” Snap starts, “the reason we’re not launching an all out rescue mission…” he glances at Jess briefly and sighs, and then faces Finn again. “Poe does some moonlighting as a spy,” he says. “And at the moment he’s one for three, so we’re all going to have to sit down and talk about that when he gets back.” Jess cracks a brief grin at that, and Finn appreciates that Snap said when and not if. “Spies have different rules. It’s not like honest warfare where you go at each other hard and do what you can to get your own back safely. Whatever Poe is doing, it can’t be connected to the Resistance for diplomatic or political or security reasons. If we go and rescue him with our Resistance ships and Resistance troops, it’ll undo all the good he was trying to do.”
Finn frowns. It sounds complicated. And stupid. Poe had told him it was just a quick easy mission and now it’s been eight days and Poe’s not back, and it’s like everyone else is just going to pretend he never existed. “What do we do in the meantime?” Finn asks, finding his voice.
“We do what he’d want us to do,” Jess says, rubbing his knee. “We train hard. We fight hard. We don’t let him not being here affect us professionally.” Finn swallows. “We keep our heads up, too,” she continues. “He’s smart, and BB-8’s smart too. If he’s stuck somewhere and can’t contact the Resistance by traditional means, he might think of another way to send a message or to get to us, so keep looking for him, all right?”
Finn nods. He hasn’t taken a drink of his caf, but the mug is nicely warm in his hands and is chasing away some of the numbness he’s felt since he got Poe’s holo. He really wishes Rey was here or that he had some way to get a message to her, but he doesn’t, and he’s glad Snap and Jess have come to look out for him instead, even if they must be hurting themselves with the loss of Poe.
The chrono on his wrist beeps and he looks down at it, blinking at the time. He’d lost more than he’d thought. It’s time for maneuvers already. He shrugs the blanket off his shoulders. “Gotta go. Infantry training,” he explains.
They both look at him with concern. “You sure?” Snap asks him. “If you explain the situation you can probably take a day.”
“You said Poe would want us to go on like normal, and you’re right,” Finn says. He sounds a little hoarse, and he takes a sip of the cooling caf just to soothe his throat.
“What about tonight?” Jess asks. “You’re always welcome to bunk with the pilots, you know, if you need company. Snap’s got an extra berth in his room at the moment, and I don’t think anyone would mind if you wanted to take it.”
Finn nods his thanks, but if he didn’t leave the infantry to spend one last night with Poe, he’s not going to leave them while Poe’s not here. “I’ll be all right,” Finn says as he pushes up to stand.
Snap gives him a searching look before pushing himself to his feet as well. “Okay,” he says, nodding, like he’s approved of what he sees. “But you tell someone-- and it doesn’t have to be us-- if you’re having trouble,” Snap says seriously, as he reaches out to take Finn’s half-full caf mug. “And don’t be a stranger. You’re family to Poe, so you’re family to us, and family helps each other when they’re hurting.”
It’s a strange and foreign sentiment to Finn. Even as he’s learning to be more open, and more trusting, his first default is still to hide weakness and pain until it overwhelms him, but he nods, thankful, because as much as it goes against his instincts, the offer soothes the jangling nerves still screaming about the Resistance leaving one of their own behind. The General may have made that decision, but the troops on the ground here-- Snap and Jess and all the rest-- they still care in a way that the First Order never could.
He gets commendations that week for his performance in training. He’s backsliding and he knows it. He doesn’t want to think about the possibility of him being a better soldier when Poe’s not here. It’s just so easy to turn it all off like the First Order taught him and focus on pushing himself until he’s too tired to think about Poe out there alone without Finn to rescue him. Until he’s too tired to be angry that Poe turned down his help, and he’s furious when he stops to think about it.
He has a meal with Snap and Jess at least once a day because they worry if he doesn’t, and frankly, they’re looking a little thin around the edges as well. Even if they don’t talk about Poe, Finn’s presence seems to bolster them, and while it’s sometimes a little awkward, it’s also a break in his day and he comes away feeling more rested than he feels after a night of sleep lately. If his roommates notice anything-- his sudden quiet and reserve, the fact that he’s turned off all of Poe’s holos and doesn’t look at them anymore, his inability to sleep through the night-- they don’t say anything. Fortunately, he knows how to function like this, because if he was a risk to the soldiers around him they’d bench him and insist on dragging things out of him that he’s not ready to deal with yet.
There’s a siren screaming in his room. Finn’s halfway to his locker before he even realizes what’s going on.
“What the hell--” Nexlan says, sitting up in bed, emergency lighting making him look strange.
“It’s the general scramble, you idiot,” Krell says, climbing out of bed. “Possible attack on base!” Nexlan says nothing in reply, only goes pale and trips over his bedclothes scrambling to get ready.
Finn’s already half into his uniform when Krell and then Nexlan join him at the lockers. The adrenaline from being startled awake has faded and now he’s calmed by the familiar drill: Uniform on. Boots laced. Comm charged. Rifle loaded. The three of them step into the hall together once Nexlan’s ready to go, and run to the muster point at the south exit.
Overhead fighters are flying into the sky as fast as their pilots can get them up. Behind them, support staff are scrambling to get essential equipment ready to be packed up in case of evacuation. Finn and the other infantry snap to attention as the officer of the watch screams out what he knows over the din.
“First Order ship went down in the woods about one klick from here!” he snaps. “Could be one lone maniac, could be a navigation mistake that gave us advanced warning of a full scale invasion. Until we know which, we are going to assume we are under attack! Rollo, Finn, Stizy, take your squads and go check it out. Everyone else, defense positions and wait for your orders.”
“Yes, sir!” the assembled infantry all respond, and snap to their duties. Krell, Nexlan and Odai fall into formation next to Finn and he can see the other squads doing the same as they move out into the forest at a jog. It’s the middle of the night, and as they move away from the lights of the base they switch on headlamps or the lights on their rifles to find their way in the woods. Even in the dark, Finn can see smoke from the crash site blotting out the stars, so it’s easy to keep on target.
The earpiece of his comm crackles to life. “Be advised, reports from the air are saying the ship is an Atmospheric Assault Lander. Proceed accordingly.” Finn glances at the other sergeants and with a few hand signals the other two go ahead and wide to flank the ship. The lights on their rifles and helmets get turned off so as to not betray their positions. Finn knows AALs intimately. At capacity they carry 20 Stormtroopers, and between the blinding floodlights and the antipersonnel cannon mounted on the ship, the danger isn’t just in the hold. He wonders how many more are on their way.
Fortunately for the pilot and whatever troops are inside, AALs are armored like tanks, and it’s probably the only reason the ship made it down in one piece. The smoke from the site is mostly coming from downed trees that ignited when the ship’s landing thrusters got too close, rather than the ship itself. Their rifles won’t do much against that hull, so they’re in something of a stand-off until Rollo comes into position behind the ship in the blind spot of the cannon.
“You have made an unauthorised landing on a planet of the New Republic!” he shouts up at the pilot compartment of the ship. “You are surrounded. Come out with hands raised and we will not fire!”
There’s not a sound from the ship. Finn knows there’s an external release for the crew compartment next to the ramp-- he can see it from where he’s standing, but he doesn’t want to leave cover in case the ship is only playing dead and brings that canon to bear. He touches the transmit button on his comm to see if Rollo feels like he can come at it from the blind spot when the hum of machinery indicates the troop ramp is folding down. Finn’s squad is positioned directly opposite, and the four of them tense for an impending firefight.
There’s a rattling sound that rings the crash site as every rifle is brought to bear simultaneously. The blinding floodlights above the ramp come on automatically and Finn doesn’t even blink before shooting both out with two quick shots from his rifle before his troops are too dazzled by the light to find targets. The ramp lowers, and lowers, and when it’s finally below eye level it appears the entire troop compartment is empty.
“Hold position,” Finn murmurs, as his troops shift in confusion. It could be a trap… a bomb… some sort of toxic gas, or…
There’s movement in the hold, and his troops snap back to attention, rifles aimed at whatever it is coming out of the dark towards them. The starlight is as dim as the night Poe took him up on the roof, but when the figure gets to the edge of the ramp, Finn knows it by heart even in low light, and he completely forgets procedure.
“BB-8!” he shouts and breaks from cover, turning on his headlamp to see better, even as the other sergeants squawk in alarm through his earpiece.
BB-8 chirps back to him, alarmed, and fretfully rolling back and forth at the top of the ramp. When she sees him making his way over she rolls back into the crew compartment, drawing him inside.
It’s a strange feeling to be sprinting up the gangway of a First Order Transporter again, but his heart is in his throat, and it chokes out any apprehension he might otherwise have. “Finn! This isn’t approved procedure!” Rollo is yelling in his ear, but Poe-- even the possibility of Poe-- has always made him go against his training and orders and follow his instincts. If the Resistance wants him, they’re just going to have to accept that.
His heart falls when he sees the crew compartment is empty aside from himself and BB-8, but he knows this ship well, thank the Force, and sprints over to the control panel and slams in the command for the pilot compartment override.
The pilot of an AAL rides in a pillbox compartment that sticks out from the top of the craft like the eye stalk of a dianoga, accessed by an elevating platform. The override gets the platform slowly moving downwards, and in the dim light of his headlamp, and then the headlamps and rifle lights of the others as they charge on board behind him, he can see a figure slumped against the guardrail as it descends.
“Poe!” Finn shouts up, and BB-8 coos worriedly beside him, but there’s nothing else he can do but wait for the platform to get within reach. It is an agonizing wait, and as far as he can see, the figure, which he can only hope is Poe at this point, is not moving. “The ship is friendly,” Finn comms over the questions of his fellow infantry. “I repeat, the ship is friendly. Please send a medical team to the crash site immediately.” Finally, the platform is low enough and he takes a leap to haul himself up to it that much faster rather than wait until it’s on the ground.
It’s Poe. Of course it is. Who else could elicit so much concern from BB-8, or escape capture with an unfamiliar craft, for that matter? Poe is unconscious and bloody, but breathing, and Finn’s hoping most of the blood is from the head wound, because they usually look worse than they actually are. He reaches for his canteen, and pours a little of the water over Poe’s face, both to clear off the blood to see how bad the damage is and to attempt to wake Poe up.
It works. Poe coughs weakly, and then licks his wet lips, clearly parched, and Finn tips the canteen into his mouth to offer him a drink. The AALs are sublight craft. No hyperdrive. He may have been traveling without supplies for a very long time. “Hi, Poe,” Finn says, trying to be calm and gentle despite the way his heart wants to fling itself from his chest. “You’re okay now. You’re safe.”
Poe coughs again, drinking too fast, and Finn pulls the canteen away from his mouth, apologetic, and lets him catch his breath. Poe looks up at him, eyes hazy and unfocused, and Finn wonders if it’s an optical illusion or if Poe is actually managing a smile. “Transports are the worst,” he manages, voice so rough that Finn can barely hear him. “I’m sorry I ever told you I’d fly one for you.”
The only reason Finn had stood still enough to be officially reprimanded (“Not following procedure”, “Ignoring direct orders”, “Putting fellow troops at risk”.) was because he knew Poe was unconscious and being treated, and that even if he was in the medical wing he wouldn’t be allowed to see him. Dressing down finished (and filed away to be embarrassed about later) he sprints to the medical wing in time to see Poe being taken from the bacta tank, BB-8’s concerned hoots mirroring his own feelings as he sees the mistreatment spelled out on Poe’s body. The bruises he got in the crash are just starting to come to the surface-- there’s no way to brace for impact in the tiny pilot’s compartment of an AAL, so he must have been thrown against the wall and console badly-- and he’s clearly missed some meals, but he’s whole and he’s home and that’s more than Finn had the right to ask for at this point.
Finn sits by his bedside with BB-8 once he’s allowed, holding Poe’s hand and doing his best to ignore the wires and tubes leading into and out of him, monitoring his vitals and bringing his nutrient and hydration levels back up.
Jess and Snap stop by not long into his vigil. Jess looks a little tearful and puts a hand on Finn’s shoulder while Snap steps right up to the head of the bed and looks down into Poe’s pale face. “You were born with a holdred’s foot up your ass, Poe, I swear on the stars!” Snap mutters, digging his hands into his own hair with frustration and relief. Finn knows the feeling. “Everything’s a production with you. You can’t just come back home, you have to announce your return to the entire Resistance with a general alarm!” Snap says, pulling up another chair and shaking his head scoldingly. “Force! I was dreaming about twins, Poe! Twins!”
Finn manages a weak smile, knowing as soon as Poe is awake and up to it he’s going to get unending grief about his dramatic arrival. Finn squeezes his hand, looking forward to him being well enough to take the harassment again.
Snap and Jess leave for a meal after about a standard hour, while Finn elects to stay. He can manage the medbay’s protein rations if it means being here when Poe awakes. The base is subdued after the excitement of the evening, the usual schedules interrupted, and Finn suspects anyone on base with the option has gone back to bed for a nap. He stays by Poe’s bed, stroking his fingers over Poe’s knuckles as Poe used to do to him, mostly as a comfort to himself. Poe drew himself down far, and Finn doesn’t think anything he can do at the moment could possibly rouse him from his sleep.
Poe’s hand twitches beneath his, however, and a few moments later Poe’s blinking hazy brown eyes at him, and smiling softly like Finn is all he ever wants to see when he wakes up. Finn returns the soft smile as BB-8 coos up at him, happy he’s awake. “Finn,” Poe murmurs, voice raspy still. “Sorry I’m late, buddy.”
“You better be,” Finn chastises gently. “You think I don’t have better things to be doing than sit around all week waiting for my boyfriend to finally come home?” He lets go of Poe’s hand for a moment to pour Poe a glass of water from the pitcher waiting on the nightstand and turns to hold it to Poe’s lips.
Poe takes a grateful swallow. “I did bring you a souvenir as an apologetic romantic gesture,” Poe says as Finn pulls the cup away. “Stolen First Order ships always remind me of our first date.”
Finn laughs despite himself, and reaches down to brush Poe’s hair back from his forehead, as Poe closes his eyes in pleasure. “Is that all you have to say for yourself?” What will the histories have to say about them? he thinks to himself again. Will they make note of how they met, their shared jokes, the things that were important to them both, or will it just be a list of battles, dates, strategies that succeeded or failed?
“Did you get my second holo?” Poe asks, face suddenly serious.
“Mmhmm,” Finn nods, keeping his fingers idly moving through Poe’s hair, gentle on his bruised scalp.
“Then I suppose I’d better say I love you,” Poe murmurs, eyes fond. “If BB-8 had to remind me again, I’d never hear the end of it.” BB-8 chatters at him from below the bed and he laughs.
“I love you, too.” Finn smiles at him. “Thanks for coming back so I could tell you.”
“I knew, though,” Poe says confidently. “Who wouldn’t love all this?” Poe gestures to his face.
Finn doesn’t know if Poe realizes he’s essentially gesturing to his new black eye or not. He bites down on his lip to keep from laughing, just in case. “I kept my promise too, by the way.”
Poe frowns at him, not understanding.
“I cleared my whole schedule,” Finn explains with a smile, “For as long as you’re off.” He drops his voice to what he hopes is a sultry register. “I’m even planning on spending the night.”
Poe’s face lights up. “No time like the present,” he says, and despite the narrowness of the medical cot he scoots backwards and rolls on his side to make room and then pats the mattress enticingly.
“I didn’t exactly mean...” Finn starts. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Not possible. And I want to make the most of our free time… by being unconscious with you for a good chunk of it.” Poe grins.
Finn smiles and sighs, defeated, before bending to kick off his boots. “Well, some asshole did wake me up first thing this morning to go drag him out of some wreckage, so I am a little tired.” He carefully slides into bed so he doesn’t disturb Poe or any of his wires or tubes.
“Yeah, thanks for that,” Poe says, shifting to lay half on top of him once he’s settled.
“The Resistance takes care of it’s own,” Finn says, and kisses the top of Poe’s head.