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They were on schedule, as long as the asteroids didn’t get too troublesome when they passed through that one part of the Antar stretch. Finn was nervous about the mission, which meant Poe was trying to keep him busy.

“No, these readings,” Poe said, pointing to the part of the console that occasionally made vaguely alarming flashes but was now on a low glow of blue that had been on since Rey decided the Falcon needed a rework on the gravity neutralizers. “They’re telling you the drive grid’s being taxed, but that’s just because the pressure’s different while the grav’s in beta mode. No big deal. But anyway, if I was gonna go low I’d need you to hit that switch…”

“Sorry!” came Rey’s terse word from down in one of the circuitry bays.

Poe looked back. “For what?” Finn shouted, and then Poe started laughing. “What?”

“Just hoping you remember your zero-gravity training,” Poe said, and Finn finally noticed that they were floating off their seats. “And BB-8, go ask her if she needs help.”

From down the back BB-8 was heard clanging against the hull, but he was making noises of amusement. “...You could just ask her,” Finn muttered.

It didn’t matter because Rey was swimming up to the cockpit on four or five long steps, though Poe hadn’t noticed this: he was currently sniggering at the sight of Finn’s sweet cakes floating away from where they’d been propped on the console, and bobbed up to catch one in his mouth.

“Hey,” Finn protested, tugging down at Poe’s belt, “there were only a couple of those left,” and they both laughed through the struggle to get to the last one.

“Nobody get too horizontal,” Rey warned. “I had to do a reset to make sure it could operate at low capacity, but you’ll be back on the floor in a couple minutes.”

Wiping a crumb off his mouth and going almost stoic, Poe said, “Oh, thanks, Rey. You can take it up here if you want.” Then he kicked off the back of the chair and headed out the way she’d come.

Upon his absence, Rey immediately looked to Finn with a heavily meaningful glance he interpreted as, See? and returned with his own look of insistent protest.

“I told you," she said just above a whisper. "Poe just doesn't like me.”

"How could he possibly not like you?” His whisper was much more emphatic. “He's just intimidated.”

“What's so intimidating?”

“Where do I begin?”

She frowned.

“Think for a second about how we first met.”

“Well, it's hardly as if I hit him with a staff, but he sure acts like it sometimes.”

“No,” he interrupted in a warm grunt of dismissal, “it's because he doesn't know you. And you don't talk much about what you're really doing when you're away and for all we know this gravity stuff is just you practicing your whole—”

“I wouldn't!” She grinned in her affront. “Besides, I’m hardly developed enough to be able to lift a whole person or—”

“—but how would we know that? And to him, all the mystery makes you into this...high priestess or something. It's about respect.” Happy to think of it, he added, “I mean, he still gets weird around General Organa sometimes, and they've known each other a while.”

Her smile seemed to say that was a nice try. "He doesn't talk to Leia the way he talks to me...I don’t understand; I’m just a person.”

“A Jedi who talks with her mouth full is still a Jedi.”

She dug her heel at his leg for that, though with the low gravity it mostly translated into kicking off of him. “...Jedi apprentice,” she corrected in a sulky afterthought.

He soberly put a hand on her arm. “What can I do?...I really could talk to him about it.”

"You know all that would do is make him feel bad.”

"It is kind of up to him...He's the only one of us who knows anything about making friends, anyway.”

"You seem to be doing fine for yourself.”

“I didn't exactly meet either of you in any normal circumstances.”

“What with the terrifying escapes and…?”

“Theft?”

“Oh,” she interrupted with distaste. "You didn't steal him.”

“Maybe I was thinking he stole me.”

“Well, I like that talk even less," she said primly, anchoring her back against the helm chair with her foot on the console, "and I don't think he'd like it very much either.”

"Don't forget about the Falcon. Maybe she doesn't like the idea of being an unwitting object either.”

“Of course she doesn't, but she's never pleased with you so it wasn't worth remarking on,” she said without looking away from the view of the stars, and he loved how her deadpan always cracked when he rewarded her with a laugh that made her eyes sparkle. She pushed at his arm a little then, said, "Watch out, we’re dropping,” and couldn't help another laugh when his awkward angle of landing into the seat made him give a pained grunt.

Later, Rey was getting to work trying to repair the old signal jammer. They'd brought the minimum amount they needed, but when she learned there was a third that they’d been having trouble with she said she'd take a look at it and they threw it in with the supplies, right next to Poe’s hefty locker chest he seemed to take anywhere when he had the room for it and didn't have much time to weed out the non-essentials. Finn was close by in the main hold getting their dinners ready when he asked her what she'd been looking for in Chewbacca’s gearbox for a good amount of time.

“I can't find a rigging for a D-coil.”

“And I totally know what that is," he said sarcastically, throwing some seasoning on his bread. He hollered, “Poe?! D-coil rigging?”

“What about it?” Poe yelled back.

“Did you bring one?”

Carrying his plate, Finn got up and strayed into the curve of the corridor, but must have assumed Poe was in one of the engineering chambers and passed him up; in the next moment she heard Poe’s less hefty steps coming into the lounge.

“There is one in my locker, but you don't need a D-rig unless you're converting the range frequency and we don't have enough power to…” Poe had come around the corner to realize he was only talking to Rey.

“That's not what I need it for," she explained shortly.

He seemed to briefly wait for something before saying, "Okay,” and leaning over to undo the clasps on the chest.

A second awkwardly late, she realized she was letting a possible conversation get to an impasse; she was so used to talking and often debating about the technical things with people who definitely weren’t interested in more than the essential details, but she cleared her throat and added, “I’m trying to fix that micro-jammer; it’s so I can relay the frequencies in order to keep the main power capsules from overloading.”

He looked up curiously, tossing the rigging once and catching it in his hand, holding it out. “Does that work?”

“You just have to reroute the smaller circuits through the ring channels.”

“...Huh. Smart.” She couldn’t quite croak out a thanks before he pointed at the rigging and said, “Please, just hold onto that when you’re done.”

“Um.” She furrowed her brow. “Is it Resistance property?”

“It’s mine and I’m Resistance property,” he said with a cock of an eyebrow, as if amused at her wording, but then seemed to remember himself and flatten the attitude. “Seriously, I have a newer one, and you should have one. Keep it.”

“As long as you’re not just giving me this because Finn told you to be nicer to me or—”

Poe’s expression shot into a kind of horror. “Finn doesn’t think I’m nice to you?”

She could only give him an exasperated stare for a second. “Why don’t you go ask him about it so I can get this done?”

He fidgeted into a sigh of immediate regret, and when he moved she thought he really would walk away, but he was just folding a couple things back down into his chest, thinking.

She put her head down into the wiring, trying to pretend she was perfectly alone. She was so, so bad at this. “I didn’t mean anything by that,” she mumbled.

“I’ve offended you,” he said, and at least that usual hint of servility in his tone had been replaced by a more natural concern.

“Where is Finn now?” she thought aloud, then reacted belatedly as she stood up to go grab a piece of bread and gnaw it into the corner of her mouth, passing by him and the locker. “Look, it’s nothing. I was...hey—”

She’d pointed into the chest just as he was about to shut it, and he opened it back up.

“Is that an old Alliance helmet? Let me see...Did it belong to your family?”

“No,” he blinked and reached in to get it, saying, “I just...stumbled on it…”

"I used to have one of those back on Jakku,” she said a little wistfully. “It's one of the few things I actually miss.”

His motions slowed as if stiffened in shock; he leaned a hand on the edge of the locker, looked at her. "Where did you keep it?”

“...What do you mean?”

<All Terrain Armored Transport> BB-8 commented from his place in the corner. <Derelict, non-functioning, impractical for shelter, would not recommend for—>

Rey interrupted, “He doesn't need to know…,” trailing off as she saw Poe’s now very stilted motion of picking up the helmet and holding it out to her.

She stammered, “Again with the giving me things…”

“Rey,” he said, “look at it,” and pushed it to her so insistently that she was forced to take it so it didn't fall to the floor.

At first she didn't understand. But then her thumb passed over a scratch on the surface and something compelled her to turn the helmet over, realizing that it certainly didn't just look a lot like the one she had. Gasping, she held it up to look inside the blast screen, and saw with a tightening in her throat the same initial she'd scratched into it when she was ten years old.

He was looking at her expectantly, reluctantly, as if not sure she’d be pleased. “Poe Dameron,” she said in slowly creaking disbelief, “this is mine. When did you…? I thought you flew a ship off from the west lands, you wouldn't have—”

"I did, but I went a bit the other way because the sand seemed a bit more level, at least at first, and found that walker some time just before dawn...I thought I might be able to use the computer to track BB-8, but the thing didn't turn on—in the dark, I couldn't really tell, but it didn't seem like it was being used, at least not for a long time; so I didn't think it was really taking from anyone if I…”

“The computer needed my thumb key to turn on; I kept it looking broken because I'd had two of them stolen before.” She was explaining this in automatic tones through the haze of shock. Her old helmet: one of the only things she’d ever owned that wasn’t an absolute necessity. She had no feeling of home about anywhere on Jakku, but her old things had been her only friends for such a long time. “BB-8,” she called over, her voice feeling and sounding a little heavy. “Did you never notice this? Why didn’t you say anything?”

The droid rolled around from what he’d been doing to say what amounted to <Stuff is stuff> in binary, and Poe shook his head, said, “But he only saw in your house, right; why would he have…?”

She looked up in confusion as his look sank into realizing, repenting.

“I...I didn’t mean—”

“That was where I lived,” she explained, trying to calm his idea that this could possibly be an insult. “It wasn’t really home, though.”

“It’s just that I thought it was maybe set up as an emergency sandstorm shelter, not…” He seemed to be reexamining his own sense of what had come over her when she realized it was hers. She wouldn't have liked to see him pitying her, but it wasn't that: there was only a deep and understanding compassion, something she was still a little unaccustomed to, and she felt it like a gentle rattle against her bones. Quietly he said, “If I’d known that was all that somebody had, I never would’ve taken anything.”

At this her reaction finally broke into elation: she laughed, looking between him and the helmet, “But I’m so glad you did! I never would have had any reason to go back there…”

Finally he smiled, and gasped as she used her free arm to pull him into a happy little half-hug. She came away shouting, “Finn! Come on, our food’s getting cold.”

 

.

 

“So...,” Finn worked out, “you stole from her.”

They were all sitting in a circle hovering over their plates, and Rey and Poe looked at each other uncertainly.

“It was—” Poe reasoned haltingly, “reappropriated for the cause.”

“Yeah, because that thing is totally in shape to pass equipment inspection.”

“He…he borrowed it,” Rey said simply. “He scavenged it.”

Finn cocked his eyebrow at Poe. "You knew it belonged to somebody.”

“Alright, yeah, I stole it,” Poe relented, and after a quickly passing silence, they all laughed a bit in nervously happy unison.

“...So are you two gonna stop being weird now?” was Finn’s graceful change of subject.

"You could have said something,” Poe complained to him.

“I didn't want to make anybody cry,” he protested, both of the others rising to this light mocking with annoyed looks.

“Hey, Rey,” Poe said, rocking into her space a little, “Finn swears he's immune to tickling.”

Finn glared. “You wouldn't—”

“I wouldn't even have to touch you to tickle you,” Rey said with exaggerated sternness, “so you just keep that in mind.”

Poe looked in reluctant dismay over to Finn, who shook his head and responded with “I can never tell if she's kidding or not.”

BB-8 interrupted them then, notifying Rey about the final results of one of the diagnostics she'd run earlier. Poe and Finn were chatting about something else when she turned back just in time to see Poe sneaking something off of her plate. Halfway to indignant, she looked at him, how he almost seemed unconscious of the fact that he’d done it, and only caught Finn's notice of it in the sidelong little smile he gave her.

Looking back down, she began to smile too.