"Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of our own mind.
Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance
His entire world was bathed in light gray, fuzzy and warm and soft all around him. There was nothing except the incessant ringing that had been going on for the last century or two. The void was nothing. He was nothing. But the muffled voice from far away was definitely something.
He chased it.
“Hey, you with me?”
His eyes flickered open to solid white. Poe blinked hard, finding himself in a metal and stone room, staring up at a vine covered ceiling. Everything that so much as reflected light had a halo surrounding it.
“There you are.”
His eyes traveled over to the source of the infamous voice. A young man, a little younger than himself, with dark skin, a very handsome face, and a bright smile. This kid had to be new, because Poe was very certain, even if his brain felt like it just gone through a blender, that he would have taken extreme notice of him. Either way, he was taking notice now.
“Welcome to the land of the living,” the guy said with that huge smile and deep eyes. If Poe could turn his head, he'd love to check the kid out right now. The width of his shoulders promised wonderful things, though. “How you feel, hotshot?”
Poe could feel the smile on his lips at the nickname. He wanted to shoot something back, but the only thing that came out of his hoarse throat was, “Helloooo, nurse.”
The kid laughed, quick and deep and, oh dear, do it again. “Hello to you, too. Seriously, though-” And his voice did turn serious just then, the smile dimming just enough to not let all of that beautiful happiness in his eyes shine through. “-how are you feeling, Poe? Any pain? You took a bad hit.”
Oh. Oh, uh- He tried to think back for a second, but couldn't come up with any mission so recently. The last thing he remembered, he was still on base. Poe frowned, scrunching up his nose, annoyed with himself. “Ship okay?”
The kid smiled again. Good. “Your ship's okay, dork. I'm asking about you.”
Oh yes. Poe decided that he definitely liked this kid. With another smile, he decided to stow a smart remark in favor of answering the guy. He quickly assessed himself. “Arm hurts. Headache.”
“Yeah, you crunched your thick skull,” the kid said, going out of Poe's line of sight for a moment. “Kalonia said it's a minor concussion, so no huge deal. Gonna be grounded for a bit, though. Is it this arm?”
His mood soured at the thought of being grounded, which quickly dissipated as a sharp pain went through his shoulder. “Yep,” Poe grunted, “that arm.”
“Sorry, sorry,” the other mumbled, putting the arm back down from where he had lightly lifted it, stroking down over the bicep a few times. Poe preened at the touch. Maybe this kid was into him, too. “The General's in a meeting right now about the mission. She'll be here soon to check on you, if you're up for it.”
Poe's mind screeched to a halt. Top brass was coming to see him? Fuck, that could- Oh, fuck. A hand met his good shoulder just as Poe realized he was trying to raise himself up. Before the cute kid could get a word in (and before the room stopped tumbling on an axis), he managed to ask, “How many we lose?”
The kid blinked, eyes going blank. “Lose?”
His cute ass was very rapidly draining his own respect points with that dumbass question. “Pilots! How many people did I lose?”
“What? Poe, you were the only one out there.” He stalled, confusion clouding him. That made no sense. He was always, always, sent out with at least three other members of his squadron. “Kalonia said you might not be able to remember the mission right away. That's all right.” The kid had kept talking while simultaneously pushing the pilot back onto the bed. “It was that covert op near Toola, remember? You were supposed to get to a contact and get out, but I guess they jipped us. TIE Fighters were waiting instead. You got hit, BB-8 took over and got you home. Scared me to death, Poe. You wouldn't respond for nothing.”
“Sorry?” Maybe the kid was a stalker now that he thought about it. Why would it scare him in particular so much? At least BB was okay. “Who's Kalonia?”
The other guy paused, face going terrifyingly blank this time, eyes wide enough for the white to peak out around the darkness. “Say again?”
“You keep mentioning a Kalonia,” Poe repeated perhaps a little too harshly, “Who is that? I haven't heard of them.” He mostly wanted rank and serial number, actually. Better to challenge this grounding business later. And, for that matter, who the hell decided it was a great plan to send him out there alone in search of intel contacts? That wasn't his business. Never mind that they weren't going to do shit about the Order showing up. Who else owned operational TIE Fighters these days?
For some reason, the kid stopped breathing and just stared at the pilot with a look of near terror. “Poe,” and as much of a stalker or jackass he could be, the small and weak voice was not a good fit for him, “I'm not playing.”
“Playing?” And now he managed to sit up a little better this time since the kid had completely stopped touching him. “Neither am I! I want to know who the hell has the authority to ground me.”
The guy didn't seem to hear him. He just asked in a shaky and soft voice, “Poe, you know who I am, right?”
Poe's back straightened up... If this was someone's idea of a joke, it wasn't fucking funny. “No, I don't- Dammit, I want to talk to a fucking doctor. And whoever the hell put you up to this, you best warn them that their ass is-” He grunted, having accidentally leaned on his very very hurt arm. The grunt was more from anger at being interrupted than anything.
The frightened kid reached for him and pulled back, like Poe was a ball of fire that would burn him alive. He wasn't entirely wrong. “I will! I will. I'll get a doctor, Poe. Just don't move. You're okay, I promise. I'll be right back. Right back.” The rambling followed the guy out the room, and that was basically all Poe was aware of.
He flopped back onto the bed, successfully pissed off. He hadn't gotten laid in at least a month, then that Adonis flounces into his life only to be an asshole. Fucking Muran. He probably orchestrated the whole damn thing, that jackass. He groaned, using his good hand to push the hair from his sweating forehead. Well, at least he knew Kid McHotStuff existed in case a rainy day came around.
Just as he was finally simmering down, an older woman rushed into the room, striding to his bed in about two steps. “Dameron, how do you feel?”
And then there was a light in his eyes, something from the woman's little pen thing. “Please tell me you're a doctor,” he grumbled.
What frown she had on her face deepened into something serious. “I'm Dr. Kalonia. What's the last thing you remember?”
He internally groaned. “I was on base. I think coming back from mess. I'm not sure.”
The doctor moved the light away and took a strong intake. He figured she was about to ask something else when movement caught the corner of his eye. When he looked, he found the kid hovering in the doorway, face still blank. “Hey!”
The guy startled, like he just realized where he was, and took off. Dammit.
The doctor ignored the scene, suddenly turning his head this way and that. “Can you tell me what year we're in?”
“28 ABE,” he rattled off, trying to keep the dizzy spell under control.
“What year were you born?”
“Homeworld?” she asked, checking on what he assumed to be the aforementioned head wound. Burned like hell.
“How old are you?”
“What's eight divided by four?”
What? Math? “I, uh- Two? Two.”
“Four times seven?”
“I- What? It's- It's twenty-eight. Twenty-eight. Why am I doing timetables?”
“Because your concussion's worse than I thought,” the doctor mumbled before righting herself over him. “Poe, what I have to tell you won't be that easy to hear, but I'm confident everything's going to be okay.”
He stared back at her, glowing halo and all. “... Please tell me you're messing with me.”
“I'm not.” Kalonia's frown deepened, shoulders sagging. “Poe, you have amnesia. It could be temporary, but I want to do more scans regardless. We deduced before you woke that you have no permanent damage, but I'd like to check again. We expected some memory loss but not this much.”
Poe blinked and glanced to the empty doorway where the cute guy had been hovering a moment again. After a breath, realizing that she was waiting for him, he asked, “How much is this much?”
Apparently a very blunt woman, she answered him plainly. “You're missing about four years. We're in 32 ABE. You're thirty-four.”
He wasn't entirely sure how he felt about that. It didn't really feel like it hit him actually. This whole thing still kind of felt like a joke. Without knowing where to start at, she went ahead and continued. “You're in the Resistance base medbay on D'Qar. Not the Republic Navy.”
“What?” Poe sat up as best he could, dizzy spells be damned. “Why aren't I with the Republic? I had years left- I'm dreaming. This is me dreaming. Or I'm high. I'm very very high right now. I haven't been high in ages.”
“I'll find some proof for you,” she answered plainly. “Until then, I think the General's going to have to answer some of your more pressing questions, but I do have hopes that the amnesia won't be permanent.” Well that was a fucking relief. “I also think you should know that it won't be wise to just fill in the gaps with answers. You'll have to remember some of it on your own. A lot's happened in the last four years.”
“A good lot or a bad lot?”
Kalonia looked over his shoulder, face twisting in thought. “I'd say it goes back and forth some days.”
“So same as usual.”
She let out a breath of a laugh and patted him on the knee. “I'm going to give you a minute. The General will be by soon.”
“Yes, ma'am,” Poe nodded, and she was gone. He knew he should be feeling something, thinking something, but it was just vague and hollow and a little bit terrifying. So he leaned back into the bed and stared at the ceiling instead.
Seriously, how the hell was he supposed to think about this? Whatever was going on, it would clear itself up soon, so he definitely shouldn't panic. That would be very bed at the moment. Very bad. Instead, he leaned up slowly again and observed his surroundings... This definitely wasn't a Republic medbay. Whatever the Resistance was, it didn't look to be very well funded. It almost reminded him of the old Rebel bases near his home. Clean enough to be on just this side of dirty, junked up yet practical, everything put together however it could be in order to work as best it could. He looked down at himself. Pristine white shirt, soft enough looking blankets, bandages going up and down his right arm- At least they dished money out where it counted.
He leaned back again and tried to not hyperventilate.
A knock jerked him awake, his body suddenly heavy and sore, not even realizing he had fallen asleep in the first place. A quick look around told him that this wasn't a dream. Plus, the cute guy was hovering in the doorway again.
Well, if this wasn't an elaborate scheme, he might as well fix some bridges. “Uhhh... Hey, buddy.” The kid's face remained mostly blank with a touch of worry. Dammit. Dammit dammit dammit- “Look, I think we got off on the wrong foot-”
“It's all right,” the kid brushed him off but with none of the familiarity or joy from earlier. “I brought a visitor by if you're up for it.”
Well, time to make amends. “Anything for you.”
The kid frowned, glared, looked generally displeased. “Are you up for visitors or not, Dameron?”
“Is it your less clothed twin brother, because I think I might be able to squeeze you guys-”
“He's fine,” the guy told someone on the other side of the door. “Just go in there and see him before he says something else.”
Before Poe could retort to that, the kid was gone and suddenly replaced with- “Snap! Snap Wexley! Holy shit!”
“Hey, man!” That big booming voice was recognizable if the rest of him wasn't. Which he thankfully very much looked the same. Poe: 1, Muran: 0. Snap tapped him lightly enough on the shoulder to not upset the injury. “How you feel? We were all getting worried about you.”
“Like shit, Snap. Like shit.”
Wexley laughed and fell into a chair beside the bed. “Remind me, when's the last time we saw each other?”
Poe rolled his eyes, letting his head fall back again. “Man, not you, too. I'm tired of these mind fucks.”
“Not a mind fuck. It's an honest question.” He shifted in his seat, but at least it wasn't a nervous tick. “I know the last time I saw you, but I'm not sure about the last time you saw me.”
He couldn't help but smile at that logic and thought back. “I don't know... Maybe last week. You were running recon in Hutt space. For the bounty hunter thing. We met up on Tatooine in between jobs and got hammered as fast as we could before they called us back.”
“Oh, Maker.” Snap's eyes closed, memory apparently hitting him. “Wow, yeah, I remember that. I don't know what kind of stills they have out there, but I am never getting near that sector again. Especially not with you, boss.”
Poe paused at the nickname but laughed in an attempt to hide it. Now that he finally took a second, he really looked at Snap... “Fuck, you're old,” fell out of his mouth before he could catch it. It was small signs, little things, patches of graying beard, laugh lines deeper than what they were on Tatooine. If this was Kalonia's proof, it was pretty damn solid.
Snap – thankfully the guy never really seemed to take offense to anything – smiled warmly. “Yeah, I guess it has been awhile...”
There was a beat of silence before Poe's mind could come up with its first of many questions. “How are you here, too?”
“I left the Republic a while before you did,” Snap shrugged. “I felt they weren't going anywhere, met a guy who recruited me over, and here I am. Figured if I was gonna piss off the Empire wannabe's then I might as well piss off the Senate, too. That's what we do, by the way. Stop the First Order. All that good shit.”
Oh... So something was being done about the damn TIE Fighters, then. That was good. Answered some questions at least.
But then Snap gave a heavy sigh, and Poe realized bad news was about to come, too. Wexley pushed his chair closer and leaned in, voice low. “Look, I know they told me that you need to remember stuff on your own, I get that, but there's some shit that a man just has to know.”
Oh, fuck. “What happened?”
Snap licked his lips. “When you first got to the Resistance, I asked what made you switch sides. I don't know how to tell you this-”
His words fell silent and the pilots looked to the door. A couple of seconds later, the sound of footsteps made their way into his room, and a shorter older woman stopped just inside the door. Snap rose, but she waved a hand and he seated himself again. Poe was too busy staring at her to care much about the obvious power she was throwing around. Was this the so-called General? Why did she seem so familiar?
She cleared her throat, straightened up with hands behind her back. “Poe, do you remember me?”
It had to be her voice that did it. No one could mistake that strong voice. His jaw fell open, eyes went wide. He had heard stories, but- but- “You're Leia Organa!”
“I think I'll take that as a no,” she said but not unkindly, not without a little smile. The Princess walked forward, placing her hand on the foot of his bed. “How do you feel, pilot?”
“Like hell, ma'am.”
Snap barked a laugh before he could rein it in.
Leia gave another little smile before turning a bit more serious. “I think you understand why I'm grounding you, Commander. I want you to rest after a concussion like that. If you cooperate, you'll be up back in the air in no time.”
“And my memory?” He was honestly worried it wouldn't come back because, hell, there was sure as shit nothing there to catch between his fingers. Would that prevent him flying again?
She went around his question, taking it a different way. “The doctors have informed me that they aren't sure how long this could persist, only that they don't believe it'll be permanent. They say they'll know more in time. In the meanwhile, we'll get you caught up on the more menial things, but you're officially off-duty as of now and until I say so. Am I clear?”
“Yes, ma'am.” Yeah, he could see why people followed her into hellfire and back. To think he'd been working with a legend...
She nodded and gave Snap a knowing glance. Was that the force? Was she using the force? He knew that wasn't a damn rumor. Poe looked between the two of them, and she cleared her throat. “Poe, we can't tell you a lot of things that's happened in the last few years. I'm sure you understand the why. We're only looking out for your health. But there's a few personal things that may be unavoidable that you should know, and I believe Wexley was about to tell you one of those things.” She looked back to Snap. “Would you like me to tell him?”
“No, no.” The pilot shifted again, looking ashamed for being caught like that, but turned serious. “Poe, I don't know how to tell you so I'm just going to do it.” A silence fell, and Snap sighed. “Muran's dead.” Poe felt his eyes widen, his face fall. “I know you two were close.”
Poe just stared back at him, mind officially stalled again, unsure what to do or say. “That-... That can't be...”
Snap sighed again. “You were out doing recon with the rest of Rapier squadron back in the Republic. You guys caught wind of something going on not far from your position and took off for it. It was First Order activity, things happened, went to shit. The Order went to hyperspace, tried to get away. Muran's bird was caught in one of the ship's leaving... I'm sorry...”
Poe leaned back into the bed, hand tracing one of the rails near his head, trying to find the right way to breathe again. Snap took a moment and continued. “You confronted the higher brass about it, told them that your crew caught the First Order in the middle of illegal activity plain as day, explained you lost one of your pilots to them.”
He took a deep breath, eyes glancing up to Snap. “They finally got involved? They finally get their ass in gear after I lose a friend?”
Wexley's lips twitched. “No... No, Poe. They refused your request to follow the issue up. They didn't do anything.”
How? How the fuck could they turn a blind eye like that? How could they look away when it was so fucking obvious that they were only making things worse? What was the goddamn point of it all? Why did his parents fight if this was all there was?
Poe looked away, covering his mouth, catching a few tears, realizing that Princess Leia was still there.
“You joined the Resistance a little while later,” Snap continued on. “Karé and Iolo followed you here. And you don't just command your own squadron anymore. You command the entire Starfighter Corps now.” Poe looked at him. “Not that it's any consolation-...”
“I just saw him,” he found himself saying, trying to breathe. “I just fucking saw him. I swear I just-... When did this happen?”
Snap bit his lip and looked to the floor. “About three years ago.”
Poe let his head fall into his hands before quickly looking up to Leia, anger striking through him hard enough to make the color drain from his sight. “Three years? I've been here three goddamn years!? And they're still out there!?”
“They're not the power they were,” Leia answered levelly, not reacting to his outburst. “They've weakened considerably, their alliances crumbling, their funding cut by seventy percent. That's because of you, Poe.” He leaned back in bed again, not sure what else to fucking say right now. “But I am sorry,” she said quieter before beginning to walk out of the room.
He watched her leave, his sight pausing at the exit, catching just a glimpse of dark skin and sad eyes, before the Princess closed the door behind her.