Contrary to what people might think, Poe could be patient. Although being the pilot of an X-wing could be very exciting and dangerous, most of the time they were waiting for something. Waiting for a mission, waiting for clearance to take off or to engage the enemy, waiting for their fighter to be fixed or for themselves to heal. Poe was used to waiting but that didn’t mean he liked it.
He liked it even less when what he was waiting for was for Finn to wake up when no one on the medical staff could give him any idea when or even if that was going to happen. Already Rey had had to leave because she couldn’t wait any longer. Poe had only met her after the destruction of Starkiller. They’d met in Finn’s room and kind of bonded right then and there over their mutual concern for the former Stormtrooper. Poe could easily understand why Finn had been hellbent on going after her. She was determined and strong and delightful and, yeah, Poe would probably walk through fire for her as well. It also helped that BB-8 liked her. His droid had good taste. He’d had no hesitation in promising her that he’d look after Finn when he woke up.
But four weeks had passed and Finn hadn’t woken up and Poe would privately admit that he was both worried and incredibly antsy. They’ve been laying low for the moment, recovering from their losses and preparing for what was to come. The First Order had taken a hit but no one was thinking that they’d taken a fatal blow, especially when they’d had reports in the last week that both General Hux and Kylo Ren had been sighted. Intel was still working to confirm those reports but Poe was inclined to believe them until they were definitively proven to be incorrect.
Missions were likely to start up again soon and Poe was caught between wanting to stay with Finn until he woke up and needing to get out and fly, to rid himself of the nerves and twitchiness that was starting to crawl under his skin. All the simulations and exercise in the world wouldn’t rid him of that feeling but blasting into space would do it. But he didn’t want to leave Finn alone. Even if he hadn’t made a promise to Rey, he didn’t want Finn to wake up to strange faces.
The pilot gave a start and turned his head to find the General standing in the doorway, looking at him with concern. He was holding Finn’s hand but he didn’t let go. The General had known him since he was about knee high so he wasn’t worried about her reaction to the fact he was holding Finn’s hand. Not that it was precisely ‘the General’ who was visiting him. From her use of his first name and the way she was holding herself, this was not an official visit.
“General.” Not that he wasn’t going to call her by her title. He respected her far too much for that.
“How is he?”
Poe grimaced. “Physically he’s going to be fine. It’ll take time but they say everything will heal. They just don’t know when he’s going to wake up.”
Leia nodded and came in, pulling the second chair in the room close and sitting down. “He’ll wake when he’s ready. He went through a great deal.”
That wasn’t an answer that gave Poe any comfort and he made a non-committal noise in reply. They sat in silence for a moment then he glanced over at her.
“Rey will bring him back.”
Leia gave him a look, knowing exactly which ‘him’ Poe was referring to. “I hope so.”
Poe grinned. “She’s a very determined young woman. I don’t think she’s going to give him a lot of choice.”
He saw the smile that flickered over Leia’s face and felt pleased with himself. She’d known about Han Solo’s death before anyone could tell her. Long before they’d returned to D’Qar. The Force, he guessed. His parents had told him she could do things like that even though she wasn’t a Jedi like her brother. It wasn’t exactly something he could ask about. But she’d been grim and drawn ever since Starkiller, as though the weight of the galaxy was heavy on her shoulders, so he was glad he could give her something to smile about, even briefly.
“You’ve spoken to her?” Leia asked.
“Before she left,” he said with a nod. “She spent as much time here as I did. We talked a lot, mostly about how she met Finn and what happened to them. They had some adventures.” He chuckled for a moment then abruptly sobered. “I should have looked harder for him on Jakku.”
Leia placed her hand on his shoulder. “Things went as they did for a reason.”
“The Force?” Poe said dubiously.
“Possibly.” Leia chuckled softly. “It often works subtly. I can’t help but think that lightsaber had something to do with it.”
She looked faintly disturbed and Poe couldn’t help his curious question, “What’s so special about it?”
She was silent for a long time, long enough that Poe figured she wasn’t going to answer, then she said, “It was lost a long time ago, in circumstances that meant that we thought it was lost forever.”
Poe gave her a confused look but she didn’t say anything else. “Finn fought with it on Takodana,” he said. “Rey told me. She’s not sure how Finn lost his blaster – she was unconscious then – but he was definitely using it when she came round.”
Leia looked at Finn speculatively. “Indeed? That is interesting.”
Poe also looked at Finn and wondered for a moment if Finn could be a Jedi as well. He wasn’t sure if he liked the idea or not. On one hand, he wanted Finn to be great because he deserved good things but the part of him that was still shuddering about the way Kylo Ren had invaded his mind and stolen from him wasn’t quite so enthusiastic. He felt selfish thinking that way but... he couldn’t seem to help it. Then again, this was Finn they were talking about. He couldn’t imagine the young man who had looked at him with such desperation when seeking an escape then grinned so happily being cavalier about something as powerful as the Force.
They sat there silently for a time and Poe found himself relaxing more than he had at any other time. Although the General was a powerful and intimidating woman, she could also be very calming. Or maybe it was just because the medics were less likely to try and kick him out while she was here. Either one was likely.
“We’re going to start sending people out on missions in a couple of days,” the General finally said, arriving at her true reason for being there.
Poe’s shoulders hunched and he frowned down at his and Finn’s joined hands. He’d known it was coming but now that it was here, he didn’t know how to react. He felt elated and worried at the same time.
“I need my best pilot.”
Poe nodded jerkily. He knew better than to protest. If the General said she needed him, then she needed him. If she didn’t, if she felt the mission could be carried out by anyone else, she’d tell him to stay here. He felt the General grip his shoulder then she got up, returning the chair to its place against the wall.
“I’ll see that there is someone who can sit with him,” she said.
“Thank you, General,” Poe said quietly. “I don’t want him to wake up alone.”
There was a moment of silence then the General said in a fond tone that made Poe turned to look at her, “You’re a good man, Poe Dameron.”
He gave her a curious look but she merely patted his shoulder and left the room. He turned back to Finn and shook his head with a small laugh.
“Not sure what brought that on,” he murmured. “But Finn, buddy, now you’ve really got to wake up. Because, seriously, you’re killing me here. There’s never been a conflict before, you know. The choice has always been Black One over anything and everything… and anyone and everyone. Which hasn’t always gone down well but I’ve always been honest about my priorities. But this? Is confusing the hell out of me and I think it’d be a lot easier to work out if you were awake, buddy.”
He wasn’t expecting a response. He hadn’t had a response any other time. So he was naturally a little startled when Finn’s hand twitched in his grasp. He stood up and leaned over, his free hand coming up to cradle Finn’s face. The former Stormtrooper’s eyelids were fluttering as though he was trying to force them open but not having a lot of success.
“Finn?” Poe said with a growing grin. “It’s okay, buddy. Take your time. No rush. That’s it.”
Finn’s eyes slowly opened and rested on Poe. He looked blank and uncomprehending for a moment then he seemed to put the pieces together and he smiled weakly.
Poe grinned back at him. “Hey there, buddy. Good to see you again.”
“Like…” Finn rasped then coughed. “Likewise.”
Poe laughed outright then reluctantly untangled his hands and reached for the cup of water on the table bedside the bed. He helped Finn drink then took the young man’s hand again.
“Rey?” Finn asked once Poe had sat down again.
“She’s fine but she had to go, buddy.” Poe squeezed his hand reassuringly. “She’s gone to find Luke Skywalker and learn how to be a Jedi and bring Luke back to the Resistance. Chewbacca and R2-D2 have gone with her.”
Finn nodded slightly then winced. “Kylo Ren?”
Poe grimaced. “We don’t know what happened to him. Rey kicked the ever-loving bantha shit out of him after he hurt you though.”
Finn grinned weakly. “I’ll bet she did.”
“She’s a tough one.” Poe laughed. “I like her.”
“Me too.” Finn swallowed and his hand tightened around Poe’s. “My back?”
“You’re going to be fine,” Poe replied. “It’s going to hurt like hell and you’ve got a lot physical therapy to look forward to but it’s all going to heal. You’ll have one hell of a scar though.”
Finn just looked confused and a little worried and Poe leaned forward.
“What’s the matter, buddy?”
“Physical therapy?” He gulped. “You mean… I’m not going to be… decommissioned?”
Poe went very still for a moment as he parsed out what ‘decommissioned’ likely meant in terms of a Stormtrooper’s life and then a few fantasies about blasting the First Order into teeny little bits flooded through his mind.
“Finn, no.” He gripped Finn’s hand tightly, probably little too tightly if the wince he got was any measure. “We don’t do that. Nobody in their right mind does that.”
“But… I won’t be doing anything useful,” Finn objected.
“Yeah, that’s the whole point of healing, buddy,” Poe replied. “You let your body rest and recover. Dr Kalonia would have everybody’s heads, including yours, if you tried to get up and do anything until she says you can.”
Finn was silent, his eyes distant as he rolled that around in his mind. Poe knew he was still distressed from his harsh breathing and the way he was clutching at his hand but he was a little distressed himself so he wasn’t worried. Damn the First Order for the way they treated their people and thank the stars or the Force or whatever for giving Finn the impetus to take the risk in releasing him, for taking the risk that a member of the enemy would help him.
“They…” Finn swallowed and couldn’t continue.
“Yeah,” Poe said heavily. “I guessed from decommissioned. Bastards.” He frowned when he saw that Finn’s breathing hadn’t returned to a normal rate and that he seemed a little grey and strained. “Buddy? What’s wrong?”
Finn swallowed hard again. “Hurts,” he admitted.
“Hold on, buddy. I’ll be back in a sec.” Poe let go of Finn’s hand and hurried over to the door. He waved at one of the medidroids. “Hey! Finn’s awake and he’s in pain.”
“I will inform the doctor, Commander Dameron,” the medidroid said before hurrying away with enough alacrity to appease Poe.
He returned to Finn’s bed and sat down again, reclaiming Finn’s hand. “Pain meds are on their way, buddy.”
“That’s new too,” Finn said a little wanly.
“You’ll like ‘em,” Poe replied with a lop-sided smile. “They feel pretty good.” He hesitated and licked his lips. “You’ve gotta tell them when it hurts, buddy. Promise me you’ll do that.”
Finn nodded. “Promise,” he said but anything else was lost when the door opened and Dr Kalonia came hurrying in, followed by a couple of medidroids.
Poe was summarily evicted from his place at Finn’s bedside but he didn’t argue when he wasn’t asked to leave the room. Instead he propped himself against the wall opposite Finn’s bed and made cheeky comments to the doctor to distract him. When Finn smiled or chuckled at each one, she merely responded very tartly and made a few empty threats about his next medical examination. When she was done, she dismissed the droids and waved Poe back into his seat.
“Alright. Finn, do you mind if Poe stays for this next bit or would you like him to leave? We’ll be talking about your condition and he is only entitled to that information if you want him to know.”
Finn looked startled and hesitated for a moment before he shook his head. “I’d like him to stay.”
Dr Kalonia nodded once and continued. “The lightsaber wound was very serious but we were able to repair the damage that was done. However that damage plus the four weeks you’ve been unconscious means that you’ve got a significant amount of recovery ahead of you.” She waited until Finn nodded to indicate he’d understood. “Tomorrow we’ll get you sitting up and doing some light exercises to start getting the muscles in your shoulder and back used to moving again. In a few days, we’ll start physical therapy. If you listen to our instructions and do what we say, you should be back on your feet and ready to make a decision about your future in a couple of months.”
“Months?” Finn said with surprise and both Poe and Dr Kalonia could see the panic in his eyes. Poe understood why.
“Finn, it’s fine,” he said, giving Finn’s hand a small tug to get his attention. “You’re allowed to take all the time you need to recover. No one is going to kick you out or… or decommission you.” He managed a smile. “Besides, you’re a hero. We take extra good care of our heroes.”
Dr Kalonia’s eyes had narrowed dangerously at the word ‘decommissioned’ but when Finn relaxed at Poe’s reassurances, she let it go. Though from the look she gave Poe, he knew he’d be answering some questions about it later.
“Poe is correct,” she said smoothly. “There is no need for you to worry about how long your recovery takes. Your attention should solely be on recovering.” Finn nodded tentatively and Dr Kalonia raised an eyebrow at both men. “Now, you both need to rest. And that means in your own bed, Poe Dameron. Finn has woken up and will be fine. Your bedside vigil is no longer required.”
Poe knew he was blushing at that comment but he met Finn’s eyes anyway. The younger man gave him a lopsided smile and Poe’s blush deepened.
“Right. Yes,” he said and though he stood, he was reluctant to let go of Finn’s hand. “I should sleep. Make sure I’m ready for these missions the General has in mind.”
“Yes, you should,” Dr Kalonia said with open amusement. “Get out of my medbay, Dameron. You can come back in the morning.”
Poe finally let go of Finn’s hand. He paused where he was for a moment, bouncing a little on the balls of his feet as he looked down at Finn. “I’ll be back tomorrow.”
He then turned and dashed out of the room, leaving Finn staring at him with bemusement. Kalonia patted him on the shoulder. “Those pain meds should be kicking in fairly soon so I’ll leave you to get some rest.”
She was almost out the door before Finn found his voice. “Thank you.”
She paused and looked back, smiling warmly. “Thank you, Finn. We wouldn’t be here if not for you.”
The door closed behind her and Finn was left to stare at the ceiling until the medication floated him away into sleep again.