“Poe,” Snap, says, very quietly, “are you - sure about this?”
Poe gives his friend a sharp look. Snap shrugs.
“Look, I like the kid, but - this is going to get dangerous. You and I can handle ourselves, but he’s a sweetheart. I don’t want him getting hurt.”
“He’ll be fine,” Poe says, somewhat more confidently than he actually feels. “He’s clever, he’ll stick close to us.”
Finn does, in fact, stick close to Snap and Poe, wide-eyed as they lead him on a tour of the bars and bazaars of half a dozen planets. This is an information-gathering trip more than anything else, though Snap picks up a couple of cases of bacta for a very good price and Poe snags half a dozen engine parts, dickering with the sellers so cheerfully that they don’t even seem to mind when he argues them down to very nearly wholesale prices.
It all goes very smoothly, which probably ought to have been a sign of trouble to come; but Poe and Snap are actually starting to think they might get home in one piece, with a great deal of useful information for their General, as they head back to the ship on the very last planet on their route.
Which is of course when half a dozen large beings step out around them in a dark alley, and their leader, stepping out from behind the largest one, says, sounding worryingly amused, “What’s this, boys? I think I see a couple of wanted criminals. First Order pays well for Resistance fighters, you know.”
Snap goes very still, and Poe opens his mouth to attempt to negotiate - and Finn says, softly, “I think you should just go on about your business, mister.”
The leader of the little gang laughs. “Oho, you’ve got a bodyguard, do you? Here, lad, whatever they’re paying you, I’ll double it if you just...sort of forget you ever saw these two, hey? No point getting yourself killed.” He clearly knows his gang can kill them all, should he so choose, and Poe, looking up at the half-dozen large and well-armed aliens, doesn’t doubt it himself. He and Snap are pilots, not ground troops - Poe’s a very good shot, but that doesn’t help in a melee.
“I appreciate the offer,” Finn says, tugging Poe and Snap back gently until their backs are against a wall and Finn is standing in front of them. “But I think I’ll pass.”
“Finn,” Poe hisses, desperately. “Don’t - you’ll be killed -”
Finn glances back over his shoulder, one eyebrow raised curiously, and then he laughs. “I forgot,” he says, grinning. “You’ve never actually seen me fight, have you.”
“There’s seven of them, you -” Poe says, not wanting to see his friend die for some sort of idiotic need to prove himself -
And Finn steps forward into the approach of the first looming gang member, reaches out and up and -
Poe’s not entirely sure what just happened, actually. Neither, from the looks of it, is the groaning alien on the filthy cobbles of the alley, one of his arms bent at a deeply unnatural angle. And Finn is practically dancing forward over his defeated enemy, ducking between two more of the goons and whirling to somehow toss one of them into the other, leaving both of them in a heap against the wall while he turns and seizes the gang’s leader - the man is gaping, much as Poe and Snap are, at the sudden explosion of near-silent, lightning-swift violence - and calmly throws the man headfirst into a wall.
The gang leader goes down in a heap like a puppet with the strings cut, and Finn turns to look at the remaining goons, not even breathing hard. The two he knocked into a wall are climbing back to their feet - the broken-armed one doesn’t appear to be interested in doing so, for which Poe is grateful - and Finn glances around and grabs up a length of wood left over from some abandoned construction project, ducks beneath an oncoming fist and comes around with his makeshift weapon to strike the offender’s head a blow that echoes off the alley walls. Poe winces as the goon goes down in a heap and does not move.
Four enemies left, and Finn breaks the nearest one’s kneecap with his ersatz club - the sound is sort of awful, and Poe winces again - and turns the blow into a spinning, gorgeous side kick that leaves another enemy down on his knees, clutching his stomach and retching desperately.
The last two gang members stop in their tracks and stare at Finn, standing there with his club in his hands and a tiny, worrisome smile on his lovely face, not even breathing hard. And then the lefthand alien says, slowly, “Not getting paid enough for this,” and the other nods, and they both back, slowly, out of the alley, eyes fixed on Finn.
Finn puts his makeshift club back where he found it, dusts his hands off on his trousers, re-settles the jacket on his shoulders, and comes strolling back to Poe and Snap with that same little smile playing on his lips.
“C’mon - we’ll miss our departure slot,” he says cheerfully.
“...Yeah,” Snap says, sounding more than a little shaken, and leads the way out of the alley and on to the spaceport, glancing behind him at Finn every few steps, frowning in confusion.
“I didn’t know you could fight like that,” Poe observes once they’ve lifted off.
“Best in my class,” Finn says easily. Poe glances back from their ship’s cockpit - Finn is stretched out on a couch, looking completely unbothered by the day’s events. “Always did like hand-to-hand. Though Rey is much better with a quarterstaff than I am. She’s been teaching me some of her tricks.”
“I am requesting you for all our intelligence-gathering missions,” Snap says solemnly.
“Sounds good to me,” Finn says, grinning, and Poe, still rather shaken, turns his attention back to flying the ship.
Snap buys Finn an entire bottle of Corellian whiskey that night, and tells the story of the fight to anyone who will listen - which is pretty much everyone. Many of his listeners are dubious, however: imagining sweet, helpful Finn breaking bones and heads without flinching is rather difficult.
“I’d be happy to spar with anyone who wants to,” Finn says mildly, and somehow - Poe is blaming Jess - this turns into a sort of exhibition tournament. Half the base turns out to see whether Finn or the regular infantry troops will come out on top. Rey bets on Finn, a little smirk hiding in the corners of her mouth. So do Poe and Snap, and also Jess, when she sees how many credits Rey has laid down. Pretty much everyone else bets on their favorite infantryperson - Finn’s such a sweetheart, after all. (Leia does not bet, that being unsuited to the dignity of a General, but she also has a look on her face that Poe has reason to know means that she thinks she knows a secret, and is looking forward to its revelation.)
“I mean, really,” Poe overhears someone saying to their neighbor, “It’s not as though a good Stormtrooper would have defected, is it? I mean, one who was good at being a Stormtrooper.”
And okay, it’s true that Finn was absolute crap as a Stormtrooper, but not, Poe suspects, because of any lack of raw skill or dedication to training. More because of the empathy, really.
Poe has a good seat - he and Snap got to the gym early to claim it - and he sits staring in awe and more than a little deeply inappropriate arousal as Finn proceeds to absolutely destroy each and every challenger. Doesn’t matter if they attack him one-on-one or five or eight at a time, Finn is never where their blows land, and while he’s clearly being very careful not to actually break anyone, he leaves the infantrypeople sitting on the sidelines cradling bruises and sprains and gaping up at him as he dances across the mat.
“Hot damn,” says Jess, from her place behind Poe. “Okay, I believe you guys now.”
Snap winces. “I don’t think elbows are supposed to bend that way.”
The last infantryman limps off the mat, leaving Finn panting just slightly and grinning at his stunned audience, and then Rey hands her quarterstaff to a startled Poe and goes sauntering out to face Finn.
“So, now that you’re warmed up, want to spar?” she inquires, and Finn’s grin gets wider.
“Best of three falls?” he suggests.
“Winner gets loser’s dessert,” Rey agrees - Poe sucks in a breath. Rey takes her desserts seriously.
“Oh kriff,” says Jess, and then Finn and Rey are moving, fast and sleek and deadly. Rey is marginally faster, Poe thinks; Finn is marginally stronger. They have clearly done this before, and the fight looks more like a dance at times, strikes and blocks and kicks blurring into each other as beautifully as if choreographed - but sometimes a strike lands.
Finn wins the first match, managing to pin a squirming Rey to the mat. Rey takes the second, knocking Finn down with a truly gorgeous kick. Poe watches, heart in his throat, as she offers him a hand back up, and Finn takes it with a rueful smile.
“Third time takes dessert,” Rey says, grinning. “Tonight it’s cake.”
“Then I’m doomed,” Finn replies cheerfully. Poe can’t help smiling: Rey’s love for cake is delightful and immense. It’s frankly astonishing how much of it she can put away in that slender frame.
“You could just concede,” Rey suggests, and Finn laughs and shakes his arms out, sets his feet more firmly on the mat.
“Or not,” he says, and battle is joined again.
Rey wins, though it is close - very close - and they are both panting and covered in sweat by the time Finn taps a hand on the mat and then flops down, exhausted, and admits defeat.
“Holy shit,” Poe hears someone murmur - the same person who had doubted that a good Stormtrooper would defect. “Remind me not to get between the baby Jedi and her cake, yeah?”
“Remind me not to piss the fluffball of joy and asskickery off,” the speaker’s neighbor replies. “Did you see that punch?”
The crowd filters out of the gym, most of them rather lighter in the pocket and all of them discussing the exhibition in awed tones. Poe collects a pair of water bottles and brings them and Rey’s staff over to the exhausted combatants.
“Thanks,” Finn says, sitting up to take one of the bottles and draining half of it. “That was fun! Do you think they’d let me do that again?”
Major Ematt clears his throat from behind Poe. Poe jumps a foot. “Actually,” the major says dryly, “I should like to discuss employing you as a hand-to-hand trainer for my troops, if you would be interested in such a position.”
Finn stands, coming to attention, and grins at the officer. “I’d be pleased to, sir!”
“For that matter,” Poe says as Major Ematt walks off to join the General in low-voiced colloquy, “would you mind giving me a refresher course? I haven’t done hand-to-hand since the Academy, and I think I’ve forgotten most of it.”
“Sure,” says Finn brightly. “Any time!”
Poe is forced to re-think the wisdom of this course of action, two days later when he and Finn manage to carve out a block of time for private lessons. Well, private except for Rey, who is meditating in a corner, staff across her knees.
The stretching portion of the hour goes well enough, and the reviewing basic stances, but then there’s the actual physical combat portion of the show, and when Poe finds himself flat on his back with Finn pinning him down effortlessly…
Well. Poe has always had a kink for competence, and also a little bit for manhandling. And recently one for Finn. The combination is sort of...deeply inappropriate at the moment, actually.
Finn laughs down at him, not even breathing hard, and says, softly, “I didn’t mean this to be foreplay, but I guess it can be if you like.”
“Not in front of me,” says Rey, not moving from her seat against the wall. “Go get naked somewhere else.”
Poe can feel his ears turning crimson, but he can also see the light in Finn’s eyes, joy and lust and easy affection. He clears his throat a little awkwardly.
“I think you win this bout, buddy,” he says, choosing his words carefully. “Shall we leave Rey to meditate in peace?”
“Yeah,” Finn says, rolling to his feet and offering Poe a hand up, tangling their fingers together and not letting go even once Poe’s steady on his feet. “Bye, Rey! Have fun meditating!”
Rey chuckles softly. “Have fun not meditating,” she says, voice full of rich amusement. “And I get your cake tonight.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Finn says, tugging Poe out of the gym. Poe follows him, grinning.
“So why’s Rey get your dessert again?”
“She bet me three days’ dessert that you’d rather fuck than spar,” Finn says, shrugging and grinning back. “But you know, I think that was a bet I don’t mind losing.”
“Sort of a win-win scenario,” Poe agrees, vastly amused, and then they reach his room and he pulls Finn through the doorway, shuts the door and pins Finn’s broad shoulders against it and stretches up for the first of many, many kisses.