"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.
Okay, to follow up a little. TFA happens in the year 30 ABE (After the Battle of Endor). Poe thinks it's two years BEFORE that, when really the story is two years AFTER TFA. All right? Cool.
And no, I didn't just conveniently forget the Hosnian system. There's a lot that they're going to try keeping away from Poe, but they're not going to keep absolutely everything from him either. But give this a little time, chapter three or so, and this is going to be a full-fledged Stormpilot fic. Right now, Poe's just trying to find his feet. (Did he even know Snap in the Republic? Idk, man. Idk.)
Thanks for reading!
After monitoring him for the rest of the night – which Poe was extremely thankful for as it kept the literal future of the galaxy outside of his room, but was also a curse as he was damn curious – the doctors decided he could retire to his own quarters if he so chose, so long as he reported in daily, didn't strain himself, drank plenty of water, and so on.
The clothes they gave back to him was a tad bit overwhelming which it really shouldn't have been. First of all, it wasn't uniform. Secondly, when had he switched to steel-toed boots as a casual part of his wardrobe? Third, that shirt was way too big for his little frame- wait, wait, no, nope, it wasn't. As he tugged on the jacket – a black, durable, cloth looking thing – he absently wondered where his sense of style went. Or comfort, for that matter. Were the boots really necessary?
A nurse showed him to his quarters. And that was another thing. His own quarters? Not bunks? He tried to debate whether or not it was the situation that was different or the people's wording. It helped to ignore the looks he was getting from random passersby, people he was fairly sure he'd never seen before in his life, who either looked at anywhere but him or just flat out stared. Word traveled fast around here.
The nurse gave him the security lock code to his room and left him in front of the door with a you got this and a pat on the back. Any insecurity that this wasn't his room was struck out when he noticed the aurebesh text above the keypad. His name, POE DAMERON, shown back in teal lettering with a space just below it on the green plate, just enough room for two. Well. He counted his luck that the space was blank, typed in the code, and entered the room.
The door closed behind him, swallowing him in darkness. Shit. Fuck. He hated it already. Poe's hand thumped uselessly against the wall, attempting to find a switch or nob or- “Where's the fuckin' light?”
The light turned on. Oh. Voice activated. Right, duh, of course.
He cleared his throat, embarrassed in his own privacy, and chanced a glance around. It was a small space, with a door off to his left that looked to lead to a private 'fresher. Nice. Fancy. Very fancy. There was a well made bed to his left, as well, the end table next to it empty. His ghost of a roomie, then. Fantastic.
To his right was another bed, made up enough but obviously lived in. And, well, there was clutter. A whole lot of fucking clutter. From the head of the bed (the start of his closet, apparently) and all the way to the end wall, there was just so much clutter. A few pieces of it was clothing. Socks, a discarded shirt here and there, most of which looked to be covered in engine grease and had down graded to rags. Most of the clutter was parts. Scraps of turbines, fuel injectors, at least a couple thousand spark plugs, so many ball bearing joints that he couldn't see straight, pieces of welded metal here and there- Goodness, it was a mess. A controlled mess, he could tell, but a mess all the same. Some things never changed.
As he was walking around, navigating the museum of pieces from fighters he'd never even seen before, he came upon a desk at the end of the room. He only found out it was a desk because the damn clutter obscured it. He shuffled some parts around, moving a very large book entitled, ehem, Incom-FreiTek Operational Manual: T-70 X-Wing Starfighter Class. Poe made a grunt of approval and moved on to- His eyes widened.
After tossing some more spark plugs off the desk, he found a rolled out blueprint for- for... an X-Wing. It was an X-Wing, definitely, he just couldn't place the model. His eyes roamed the edges, finally finding T-85 written sloppily in the corner. Holy crap, those things were brand new, paint hardly dry- No. No, they were brand new four years ago.
Poe sighed but couldn't resist scanning the blueprints in interest anyway. This page was focusing primarily on the wings and handling. Seeing more pages beneath it, he flipped to look for more. But it wasn't the X-Wing. There he found the engine thrust of a U-Wing, UT-60D. He flipped to the next long sheet. Fuel capacity of a Z-95 Headhunter. Flipped. Blasters on the RZ-1 A-Wing Interceptor. He smiled. Flipped. TIE/SF Space SuperioooooooaaaAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH-
Whatever was left on the desk was flung off to get a better look at a blueprint for a literal freaking TIE Fighter. He was looking at the blueprint of a TIE Fighter. How in the hell did anyone get their hands on that? The page was focusing on speed and maneuverability and holy shit he was looking at a blueprint for a TIE Fighter. “Fuck, I'm a badass,” he muttered to nothing, glancing around the page to find the bleed through of a trademark or artist name or something to trace back, but it was bare aside from the essential information. Probably so the engineer could keep their neck, but it was amazing all the same.
He glanced around the room, noticing cluttered shelves above his bed that held anything but machinery. And then there was the untouched closet. Poe grumbled, jabbing his finger into the sketched TIE Fighter drifting in place over the white grids. “Don't go anywhere, baby. I'll be right back.”
Next stop, the shelves that looked to hold various amounts of junk and personal effects. He figured he had already had a minor panic attack over clothes, so the closet would just wait. Poe kneeled on the bed, bouncing once on the firm mattress – Nice. Very nice. – and began looking through this new set of clutter. There were parts of a disassembled blaster pushed to the side, about a row's worth of books (only half of them sounded vaguely familiar), a datapad with classified messages sent to and from him that he couldn't make heads or tails of, various nuts and bolts, a couple of credit chips that he totally maybe didn't probably pocket even if it was technically his, three ration bars all in separate spots, a sock that he wasn't entirely sure if it had been placed there innocently or not, and some pictures.
He had always liked pictures, just like he had always liked books. A bit rarer, a bit old-fashioned, but he always liked having something physical to hold on to. Thank goodness that hadn't changed.
Poe picked up the first frame, sitting down on the bed with a smile at the very familiar image. His father, mother, and himself as a child, posed in front of a sapling that was barely taller than himself at the time. It was taken a couple of years before she had gotten ill, but he still remembered this moment plain as any... Almost any. He sighed again, thankful that the amnesia hadn't taken more than just four years, however long they may have been.
He had to be thankful for the little things. Stay up-beat. Stay optimistic. It'll work out. It'll be okay. You'll be okay. A deep breath out and the resolution that he'll just have to make the fucking best of it made him square his shoulders again.
He replaced the picture back, picking up the second and last one that was tucked to the side. Now this scene, he did not remember. It was himself, not looking anywhere near the camera, laughing while some sort of sport was going on behind him, looking to be set somewhere outside on D'Qar. What caught his eye was the person in the picture who had noticed the camera, who was smiling wide anyway, a hand placed gently on Poe's own shoulder and laughing at whatever was going on. It was The Kid. Poe felt his own breath on his neck, realizing that his nose was less than a hair away from the image. “What the fu-?”
There was a knock at his door.
He only just managed to catch the picture midair after being startled, like he was guilty, like he was looking through someone else's stuff. Poe put the picture back exactly where he'd found it and began to brush himself off. “One second! One sec...” Once standing and moderately composed, he took a deep breath and walked to the door, already terrified of whoever was on the other side. For some reason, his mind settled on the thought that it was The Kid, there to blush and fuss at him for looking at that picture when he clearly had no right-
Poe cleared his throat and opened his bunk up to the visitor.
“For a moment there, son, I thought you forgot how to open doors.”
“L'ulo!!” Poe jumped on the Duros pilot before he could even finish squealing, wrapping his arms tight around the other's neck. “Holy shit! It's you! I can't believe it! How are you here? How are you doing? What happened?”
The much older pilot laughed, squeezed Poe tight around the middle once, and set him firmly back on the ground. “I'm with the Resistance, too, hotshot. Just got back from a mission and they told me you weren't doing well.”
“I'm great!” Poe quickly parroted, not wanting to worry his psuedo-uncle. But, uh- “Well, I'm not great but I'm okay! Everything's still working. Ticker's still ticking. Wait, you're-” Finally, the man stepped back and got a good look at his friend, finding he was definitely dressed in a green pilot's jump suit. “You're with the Resistance?”
“That's what I said, yes,” L'ulo chuckled. “You were just as shocked when you first got here.”
“I hadn't seen you in years, man!” Which meant L'ulo had probably been with the Resistance for, literally, years. Had his dad known the whole time? “Wait, so I get to see you like all the time? I'm loving this place.”
“We're all family here,” the Duros laughed, landing a heavy hand to Poe's shoulder before his features turned somber. “But really, kid. How are you doing?”
“Head's a little sore, but I'm okay.”
“That's good. But how are you really doing?”
Poe grimaced, trying to keep his upbeat smile from turning straight into a terrified frown. But there really wasn't hiding much from this guy, so Dameron rubbed the back of his neck and glanced to the wall. “I'm... doing. Doc said I should have my memories back sometime soon, so what's the point of freaking out, right?”
L'ulo smiled but paused for a second. “I suppose so,” was finally the answer. “That's the spirit, son. But since you currently don't remember everything, I thought I'd come by and show you something to take your mind off of it.”
“Really?” Poe kind of wanted to argue that the other just mentioned he had come back from a mission recently, wanted to brush off the kindness in favor for the other's down time. But he hadn't seen L'ulo in years, his years, and there was that saying about curiosity and cats that his dad used to tell him- “What is it?”
The Republic – every base Poe had been to, anyway – had damn impressive hangars with damn impressive ships. Always top of the line, always immaculate, always shiny and new and clean. They were nice. It was cool.
The Resistance was everything opposite. Every model of ship – from A-Wing to X-Wing – was at least several years old, most of them held together with various parts from other ships. There was an entire engine in one corner of the hangar, split in half for parts after the hull cracked from what Poe could tell. Grease was everywhere and covered everything. The ships spilled on to the tarmac, all in neat enough rows with people working on them either for repairs or modifications. There were some booklets around, but so many jobs looked to be frankenstein'd with know-how and determination that manuals hardly seemed to matter here. All that and soft rock played out of a beat up radio in the corner propped up on an oil barrel.
The Republic was cool. The Resistance was amazing.
“Are those T-65 engines on a T-70? How does it not burn out on itself? Oh Maker, is that a ChaseX? How did they even get their hands on that? Surely it can't run. Wait, that's not a- Holy shit! Is that a T-65C-A2? Who found that? I heard they didn't put many out on production. How do you guys even find this- Is that custom paint? Who is doing this stuff? Who is literally actually standing on this planet doing this stuff? Look at those stripes, L'ulo! That's beautiful- Is that your A-Wing!? I haven't even seen an A-Wing since I left home. How are you still getting parts for-? That one's black! Stars, L'ulo! Look at that!”
The Duros stopped in front of the aforementioned black T-70, allowing Poe to walk up to it and run his hands over the nose, taking it all in. “The engines were modified. So was the hull.” He rapped his knuckles against one durasteel plate, hearing an echo rather than the expected thump. He ducked underneath. “This is amazing. The pilot's definitely a gear head.” Everyone here was a gear head, actually. It was awesome.
“I'd say,” L'ulo chuckled. “This is your ship, after all.”
Poe whacked his head on the undercarriage before popping out to look dumbly at the Duros. “You're lying.”
“Black One,” he announced, waving his hand at the ship. “It's all yours. Modifications and everything.”
“Shit.” Poe looked up at the ship, not as new as the T-85, certainly, but definitely way way way cooler. “Shit. Shit.” He grabbed on to the first hand hold he could find, kicking his legs and scrambling up to the wings. His present self may have gained some weight, but at least some of it seemed to be muscle. Some of it. “Shit. This is insane.” On the body of the ship now, his hands roved over one of the engines, trying to get enough of a look at it without messing with anything because how could this be his? He scooted himself over to the cockpit, glancing inside to see the very modified controls, realizing instantly that everything in there was just so. Two pictures sat beside the seat. One he couldn't see from the awkward angle, but the one of Kes and Shara confirmed that, yeah, this is his ship. “This is my ship!”
People were probably looking at him funny, but he only heard L'ulo laughing and a lot of excited binary. “Oh,” the Duros said from the ground, “your old friend's here.”
“My old-” Poe looked around, but certainly didn't have to look far.
<FRIEND-POE! FRIEND-POE! PILOTS SNAP AND JESS INFORMED BB-8 THAT BB-8 COULD NOT SEE YOU DURING RECOVERY! NO ONE TOLD BB-8 YOU WERE NO LONGER RECOVERING! BB-8 WAS TOLD YOU DO NOT REMEMBER BB-8! BB-8 WILL MAKE FRIEND-POE REMEMBER BB-8! REMEMBER BB-8, FRIEND-POE! REMEMBER BB-8!>
“Buddy!” Through all the confusion and stress, Poe completely forgot that The Kid had mentioned his favorite droid was still tagging along. The pilot started scrambling again, finally finding his way off the X-Wing and down to the ground, thankfully landing on his feet. He jogged to his droid, who was next to L'ulo, dancing in a line and screaming as loud as his speakers could get.
<REMEMBER BB-8, FRIEND-POE! BB-8 WILL BE SAD IF FRIEND-POE CANNOT REMEMBER BB-8! PLEASE, FRIEND-POE!>
“Hush, buddy! It's okay.” Despite the potential embarrassment, Poe was grinning as he crouched to the droid's level. “I remember you, BB-8. Don't worry. I only lost about four years. We've been friends a longer time than that, remember?”
Whether the droid did or didn't, there was a very excited WHEEEEE that was directly translated to WHEEEEE, before BB-8 started doing quick laps around the two pilots.
Poe straightened up with a big smile. “At least some things haven't changed.”
“I think you'd be surprised,” L'ulo smiled back, watching the droid dart around with deep red eyes.
… There had been something worrying Poe in the back of his mind, something he didn't want to address or consider or even speculate on. Kind of went against his Don't Freak Out rule. But he frowned as the thought occurred to him again, realizing that he had the perfect opportunity to bring it up. And it wasn't like he just... couldn't do it. “Hey, L'ulo?”
Poe rubbed his palms together and swallowed. “How's dad doing?”
“Same old Kes,” the Duros answered and the younger pilot was already letting out a held breath at the certainty that his father was still alive. “Still grumbling about monsoon season. Still herding around his cattle for Maker knows what. Still has the best moonshine that side of the galaxy-”
Poe laughed outright from that one, but scratched at his nose and sombered up. “But he's not... like, sick or anything, right?”
“His knee acts up more often,” L'ulo answered conversationally but quickly turned more serious. “Poe, if something was wrong on Yavin IV, you know that would have been the first thing I would have told you.”
“I know. I know, man.” Poe still let out a relieved sigh anyway. “It's just- They said they couldn't tell me everything?”
“Yeah.” The Duros chewed on his lip with obvious worry, the excited droid totally forgotten. “About that-... A lot of bad has happened in the last four years.”
Poe frowned, very sure that he didn't want to know what that was even if he felt that he should. “But a lot of good, too, right?”
L'ulo took a deep breath and looked at him... and glanced over his shoulder.
Dameron turned, following the line of sight to Snap talking seriously with-... with The Kid. Fuck. Dammit. Shit. Poe hustled over to the Duros' side, trying like hell to look inconspicuous. “Who's the kid?” he whispered.
The older pilot looked at him, blinked, grinned, “What was that?”
Poe tried to very subtly toss his head in the direction of the conversation. “The- The kid, L'ulo. Who's the kid? The one with Snap.”
“Oh, him?” L'ulo, the asshole, was openly enjoying this. “That's Finn, General Organa's aide. He also works in medical and intelligence from time to time.”
What? Poe glanced at The Kid- Finn, before quickly turning back before he was noticed. A general's aide? And he worked in the medbay and with intelligence? He understood a jack of all trades but that was a little- He glanced over again. “What kind of rank do you have to be-?”
“He's a Major.”
Oh. So he got an I Can Do What I Want rank, then. “Major what?”
L'ulo shrugged. “Finn's all I know him by.”
Poe tried glancing over again, accidentally catching eyes with Major Kid before they both turned away sharply. Still, the pilot couldn't resist looking back, but Finn was already walking away. “Dammit.”
“Something going on with you two?”
“I pissed him off earlier, I think.” And hit on him. And couldn't help but be super nervous around him. And now The Kid was kind of basically outranking him. And he was a total enigma. “I'm not sure, actually.”
L'ulo hummed to himself, but BB ran into Poe's shins, breaking the moment with a thud and a curse.
Bless Wookieepedia for all of that Star Wars ship knowledge. There's a few Legacy references but it's fine, it's fine, it's whatever. Anyway! Sorry this took so long. I'm loving this fic so much right now. Thanks for reading, everybody. And please let me know if I messed up anything this chapter. There were some errors in the first one you guys helpfully pointed out for me. If this continues, I'll need a beta. :( But anywho, Thanks again!!
Poe woke in the dark to an unfamiliar room in an unfamiliar bed surrounded by unfamiliar things.
He shot up, looking around frantically, pushing the blankets off until he realized where he was. The Resistance. D'Qar. Only... some part of him had figured he would have woken up and remembered everything.
Poe fell back in bed with a huff, glancing to the faint lights of BB-8's charging station. Once they had been paired up again, the little droid hardly let him be. Which was fine by Poe. There were so few familiar faces on D'Qar. He wanted them all as close as possible.
But everything was so different. So much so that he couldn't just not think about his current situation for even a moment. Even his private quarters and having a room all to himself was a bit too much at the moment. He turned his head towards the neatly made bed across the room that no one used. He would have liked to, in that moment, think on how understaffed the Resistance was, how everyone there was so proud to be a part of something so powerful and small, how many pilots must have been lost on a scheduled basis for the barracks to be so empty.
All he could think about was his last roommate. All he could see in the shadows of that bed was Muran's sleeping form.
Poe rolled over to face the wall, not even wanting to think about that, not even wanting to begin processing it. But how many of his other friends had died? How many had been injured and sent home? How many had seen too much, gone through too much, and couldn't see the light anymore? How had he been injured? What had he seen too much of? When was the last time he was able to see any light in this fight at all? Everyone talked about how bad the years had been. Had there even been so much as a moment of goodness in the last four years? Did he even want to remember it all and take the chance or was ignorance truly bliss?
But he wanted to remember Muran's final moments. He wanted to know everything they weren't telling him.
He felt the tears rolling across his nose unbidden and glanced up to his parents for even a small fraction of strength. His eyes fell on The Kid's smiling face, a picture he didn't understand, a symbol of everything he didn't know.
It occurred to him like a shot that this other Poe Dameron, Black Leader, the Commander of the Resistance forces, no longer existed. No one even realized he had died, all hoping that the imposter would bring back the man they really wanted. And that's what he was. An imposter. Playing dress up. A traitor. A weakness. A taint. Nothing. Disgusting. Small. Nothing. Nothing. Noth-
Poe kicked the blankets off and ran to the fresher, barely making it to the toilet in time to hurl. Was it the doubt? Was it the pain? His head hurt. His chest hurt. His knees hurt. Why did his knees hurt? He felt the ghost of something knocking into the back of his leg and retched again.
When he was more or less sure it was done, Poe spat into the toilet and fell on his ass against the tiled floor, backing up against the wall and bracing his legs against his chest, just trying to hold on. Everything hurt. He didn't understand why his entire body hurt. His head felt like it would explode. He wished it would just do it already.
A shriek made him want to claw his brain out himself, tucking his legs tighter, but the shrill sound continued until it became a pattern. Thankfully, a dull pattern. He turned his thoughts to it, recognizing beeps at the same frequency, then five beeps lower. Five high, pause, five low, pause.
It was binary.
<In. In. In. In. In... Out. Out. Out. Out. Out... In. In. In.>
He breathed along to the rhythm as best he could, forcing his chest to cooperate even if his lungs refused.
After several rounds, Poe came out of it enough to realize he was shaking. His whole body was trembling. The front of his shirt was damp. His arms and legs were wet where his face had pressed against them. His throat felt raw. He didn't hurt anymore... A panic attack? The absolute worst panic attack of his life.
A sob escaped him before blinking hard and looking over to BB-8, the droid sitting beside him with a high powered flashlight illuminating the room.
<You're okay, Friend-Poe. It's okay.>
When had his astromech learned how to handle panic attacks?
Poe laughed at the thought, figuring his past must have been absolute hell if his droid had to regularly calm him down. He tried to picture everyone's big bad Commander, sitting alone in the hangar with only a droid to keep him from falling apart. Poe laughed harder, tossing his head back before burying his face back into his legs, arms shuddering.
BB pressed against his side and purred until Poe stopped.
When he woke again at a much brighter hour, he was still a bit jostled by the fact that he couldn't remember fuck all, but it didn't punch him in the gut this time. BB-8 probably had something to do with it, what with ordering him to the fresher to clean up before breakfast no sooner than his eyes had opened. Instead of arguing, snapping back, or even remarking on it at all, Poe grabbed some clothes and did as told.
He felt much better after the fresher, to the point that whatever had happened to him the night before seemed more like a dream than reality. He definitely wanted to treat the episode that way. Things had gotten a little dark there, much darker thinking than he was used to. So, yes, Poe didn't care to spend much time dwelling on it.
<You have a meeting with General Organa at 0800.> BB-8 jingled at him just as he bit into a piece of toast. Since he had been grounded and generally didn't know what to do with himself, everyone had been to work hours before he had quite literally crawled out of bed. As such, the mess was kind of deserted aside from a few stragglers like himself. All the better that no one saw him choke on a piece of bread.
Princess Organa wanted to meet with him personally? At first, it was a thrilling thought. Then reality crashed down and worry sat in. He still didn't remember anything. He was still useless to the Resistance as far as his previous job went. Perhaps she wanted to speak with him about putting him back in the fleet with a lower rank. That was totally fine with him. Or perhaps the Resistance didn't have too much time for rehabilitating pilots. That was understandable...
Poe swallowed hard. “Why?”
<BB-8 asked!> If a droid could puff his chest out, this one was a champ at it. <It is nothing to worry about.>
Nothing to worry about. Sure. “All right, buddy. I'll take your word for it.” Sort of. It was more of an attempt to keep calm about the whole thing. Sure, he'd already sort of met the woman, in much worse circumstances than he would have liked, but this was still pushing it for him. “I should go change first,” he muttered.
“Yeah, you know.” Poe tugged on the much looser fitting shirt – baggier in the shoulders, looser in the neck – that he had found buried in his closet, something that was definitely more his speed, along with regular boots for a change. Take that, New Poe. Still, small victories aside, he did happen to see a dress uniform in there, too. “Change my clothes. Something more presentable.”
BB-8 whirred, cocking his head to the side as if he were checking his pilot over. <You look presentable, Friend-Poe.>
Poe chuckled. “For a General?”
<General-Organa has seen you in less.> Poe balked. <She's very nice. General-Organa talks to BB-8 a lot. Much nicer than Designation-Goldenrod.>
The pilot rubbed his hand up and down the shirt, noting that while it didn't fit too well, it was still a very nice shirt, warm and soft... Maybe that was okay around here? But she was a Princess. He can't talk to a Princess looking like this. “I don't know who that is, but I really should go back and-”
<You'll just be over dressed,> BB whined. <Come, Friend-Poe. BB-8 knows a lot about Resistance fashion trends and when clothing is and is not appropriate. You can trust, BB-8. We should go meet her before you have more second thoughts.>
“Did you just say you know when clothes are not appropriate?”
BB-8 made a gurgled sound, dismissing Poe as he rolled out the door. After a second, he shrieked down the hall, yelling at Poe to go follow him.
Taking a deep breath never helped. He didn't know why people said it did. It never helped him.
Poe took a deep breath in front of Princess- er, General Organa's office door. It didn't help. <JUST KNOCK!> Poe knocked.
Shuffling was heard on the other side, a voice or two, before the door flung open, a protocol droid standing not an inch from Poe's face. A very shiny protocol droid. A very shiny, bright gold protocol droid.
“Commander Dameron!” the droid greeted him, raising his arms in something akin to a flourish, stepping out into the hall and getting very much into his space. “I'm so glad to see that you have joined us and so very pleased to hear that you are recuperating pleasantly. If there's anything you may need of me-”
“Hey!” Poe pointed a finger at the droid's chest, big grin going across his face when the name struck him. No way! his ten year-old voice screamed. This is so cool! “Aren't you-?”
C-3PO looked down at the astromech in a huff. “BB-8, I do wish you stopped picking up such language from R2D2. Not everyone is as accustomed to his flowery nicknames as I have become over the years.”
Poe glanced up to the doorway, spying Princess Leia seated behind a desk with a fond smile, waving him inside. He glanced down to his droid, noticing that there was a heated argument about to unfold around him, so he ducked in without the little guy's support and the door closed behind him.
It was only after the door had closed that he realized they weren't alone. Poe hesitated. The Kid hesitated. Hovering near Leia's elbow, clipboards and documents in his hands, Finn cleared his throat with a guilty look on his face. Aw shit.
“I can leave if-”
“I'll just go and-”
“No, no, you were already-”
“I should have left before-”
The Princess raised a hand. “It's all right. Finn, please stay. This won't take but a moment.”
Okay, but why did The Kid have to be present for this? Poe was likely to either get the dressing down of his life – or what he remembered of it – or was about to get the galaxy's biggest sympathy card from his childhood hero. Either way, he did not want that damn Kid involved.
Finn looked to more or less feel the same about the situation, but easily went along with orders. He tucked the documents behind his back and stood up straight at parade rest, giving Poe a pretty intense look. His gaze flicked down to his chest then quickly to the wall over his shoulder, a new glint in his eye, a new wrinkle between his brow.
Did he- Did he just check Poe out?
This whole thing was very slowly beginning to piss the pilot off. First he wakes up to this guy, then the Kid flat out ignores his existence, now he's giving him looks. What the fuck is the deal? If they had been fucking or something – and, boy, was that a thought for when he was alone later – then no one was certainly giving him any signs as to the whole situation.
Just to fuck with him, Poe also went to parade rest in front of his General, giving Finn a cursory look up and down. And, really, it wasn't like it was a sight that was particularly horrible. Those broad shoulders, those huge biceps hidden under that leather jacket, the flat stomach, the hips, the thighs – Maker, save him, those thighs. By the time Poe made it back to his face, Finn was looking to the corner, a whole new set of wrinkles in between his brow and a more pronounced frown than before. HA! He did notice.
Whether the Princess noticed the quick exchange or not, she didn't let on. Only folded her hands over the desk and leaned forward. “Commander, how are you feeling this morning? Any changes?”
Courtesy call? Really? Still, he couldn't very well tell her that he felt worse. “No, ma'am, but I'm ready to report to duty when needed.”
She smiled, huffing a laugh and closing her eyes. “I think you'll take comfort in knowing that you've hardly changed, Commander.” He smiled, too, actually feeling pretty good about that, but the dread in his stomach only built. This wasn't about putting him in rotation. “But I'm glad to hear you're ready to go back to the fight. However-” Fuck. “-I'm not clearing you for any type of duty until that concussion is cleared by a doctor. Understood?”
Then why the fuck was he here? She already told him this. “Yes, General.”
“Have you seen Kalonia yet this morning?”
“She told me to see her at noon today, ma'am.”
“Good.” She nodded, then pulled her hands closer to herself, leaning back in the chair. Oh, here it comes. “Dameron, the doctors and a few people in Command have discussed your condition, myself included. The doctors believe that you need a stable and more familiar environment in order to properly heal, at least to have the best chance of getting your memories back sooner. Therefore, we'd like to send you on leave to Yavin IV.”
… What!? “Princess-! General, I'm sorry- General!” Force, help him, he knew he was going way out of line but he couldn't stop. “I- I can't- I'm still- I mean- I can fly! I can still fly! I know how to fly!”
“Poe,” though her voice was quiet and calm, she commanded him to silence, “if you think that even for a moment we're getting rid of you, then you have an entirely different reality to work with. You are by far our best pilot in this operation. So long as you want to be here, your help in this war is sincerely appreciated and far more than welcome.”
He blinked, breathed in and out twice, and turned red. Poe cleared his throat, straightening his back again, adjusting his shirt. “I- Sorry, General. I just-”
“It's okay, pilot. I understand to at least some degree. Everything must be a confusing mess right now.”
Was it ever. He glanced to Finn and back to the General, really wishing the Kid hadn't seen him freak out like that. “Sorry, General.”
The Princess smiled, nodded, and continued. “You've very rarely taken leave since joining the Resistance, so you have a lot of time built up. We're giving you two months at most, two weeks at least. You may come back at anytime in between as you wish, provided a certified doctor clears your concussion and any other problems that may arise. You're to leave in the morning. Am I clear?”
“Yes, ma'am.” He was both loving and dreading the idea of seeing his father, of going home. He hadn't seen Yavin IV since before he left for the Republic. Shit had to have changed, and he kind of didn't want to see it.
Leia began speaking again, thankfully derailing his thoughts. “We've already commed Kes and told him your situation. Of course, you're more than free to follow up with him before you're to be shipped off.” Did she just refer to his father by his first name? “And one more thing. Since you're not clear to fly, I'm sending a pilot to drop you off.”
… Oh? He frowned, confused. “Why not public transit, ma'am?”
She smiled. “You're... kind of a wanted man in several sectors by the First Order. I'd hate for you to cross paths with a bounty hunter.”
When the fuck had he-? Poe blinked. Later. That was for later. “Right.” He shifted, a little uncomfortable that no one told him he had a kriffing price on his head. “Will it be L'ulo bringing me to and from then?”
“We need L'ulo,” she sighed, almost seeming regretful about that. “In fact, we need every capable pilot. Thankfully, I've got someone here who knows how to fly without being needed in a starfighter.”
She turned to Finn. Finn who was still staring at the wall until he realized everyone in the room was looking at him. Finn who blinked between the two of them and turned back to the General. “What?”
“Major, I have a mission for you.”
“What?” His voice was far more strangled that time. Poe took personal offense.
“I need you to bring Commander Dameron to Yavin IV and bring him back to the Resistance when he's clear and willing. I'm also going to need you to stay with him and make sure he doesn't somehow get in trouble, what with not remembering who all he's previously gotten in trouble with.”
Poe made a chocking, gurgling sound. “What? He has to stay with me?”
He seemed to go ignored as Finn started stammering. “General, I can't take leave right now-”
“You're not taking leave. This is a mission.”
“But, General, I-”
“Are you refusing to carry out a mission for me?”
“I- N- No?”
“Excellent. You leave at 0500. Kun will have a small shuttle waiting on the tarmac.” She turned back to Poe, not much caring that the both of them had been stunned. “Commander, while you've been in recovery, we've instated Wexley to take your position temporarily. Kun will lead Red in his temporary stead, and Pava will remain in command of Blue. Any questions?”
Yes. Plenty. So many. Poe opened his mouth, looking at a shocked Finn and back to the General. “No?” Now he was just mocking the poor guy.
“Good. I'll see you in the morning, Commander. You're dismissed.”
Dismissed. Poe glanced between them again, squinting a bit this time. There was something here. There was something here flashing in big neon letters and, dammit, if he couldn't fucking make it out. He slowly turned away and began to leave. The door opened, a rush of binary hitting him as BB-8 continued arguing with the protocol droid, but it didn't do so much to drown out the voice from behind him.
“General, I can't do this. You know I can't-”
The door closed.
So I had to write a few long papers over the weekend. Otherwise, this would have come out much earlier. But, hey, now I know a lot about symbolism in Edgar Allen Poe's “The Masque of the Red Death” so that's something, right?
That aside, a few of you got into a speculation discussion about rank on my last chapter. Let it be clear that I LOVED that. It was so cool. But I wanted to clear up all the confusion and what not. The argument was that Finn shouldn't be outranking Poe, and what's a Commander to a Major anyway? Well, I researched this as I was writing chap 2, so I'm prepared. Poe, in the Resistance, is a Squadron Commander, basically putting him around the same rank as Finn's Major. However, there's a lot of different forms of Commander in American military (what I was going by), and Poe was on the lower rung of it while in the Republic – just leading his little squad of four fighters, so back then he was significantly less ranked and he's basically going by that logic. Snap told him he leads the whole squadron now, but it has yet to set in. (How could he outrank L'ulo?? It's outrageous!) That and Finn's rank is basically just for show, enough to get him close to Leia and Intelligence. She sees what Phasma saw in him and is trying to groom him for command as quickly as possible, so he's been speeding through the Resistance ranks, basically. In my headcanon, anyway. Also, someone mentioned that Star Wars ranks is just a hot mess and GOODNESS if that's not the truth.
All of that said, there's two different things hidden here. One is that there's a butt load of tiny details I'm laying out for you guys in this story. Literal freaking butt loads that Poe is noticing and looking over without much thought even when those things are IMPORTANT SO IMPORTANT. For example, one of those things in this chapter would be the shirt he's wearing. Secondly, while there's a lot of little hidden tidbits, I'm still making mistakes left and right so feel free to call me on my bullshit. If I got this, I'll explain. If not, I'll fix it or leave it with an apology or whatever.
Anywho! Sorry for the long note. Thank you guys so much for reading! Hopefully I'll have the next chapter out sooner. Thank you!
Poe jerked awake around midnight from a nightmare he couldn't recall and decided to just stay awake after two hours of rolling around in bed. He sat on a clear spot of the desk and watched the stars out of the small window. D'Qar was a planet he hadn't heard of before, which suggested that it was most likely in the Outer Rim. (Sue him if he had bigger things on his mind than finding out where he was in the galaxy.) It made sense, the Outer Rim thing. Less population, less conspicuous stars and planets and moons, less memorable locations. He watched the two moons slowly descend through the night sky, the large white one much faster than the little red one, and looked for constellations. Maybe in the last four years he had learned more constellations of the Outer Rim's stars, but he only knew a hand full at his current point in time and couldn't make out anything.
Lost and drifting through the galaxy with no knowledge other than what he's been told. It felt like a thing that should freak him out, but Poe just sat there until the black sky turned a bruising dark purple with a slow creeping orange, figuring it was probably time to get a move on.
“You've got everything?” L'ulo asked him some time later after Poe dressed and left his quarters with a pack slung over his shoulder.
“Everything I knew to bring,” Poe answered with a smile he hoped was reassuring and full of jest. He just wasn't feeling it today. But, he thought as he hoisted the pack a little higher up his back, he had brought a few things along. The pictures of his parents and Finn, a portable charging station he assumed was for BB-8 even if it looked very new, and what he could fit of those blueprints all rolled up and sticking out of the top. He might have left a shirt and two pairs of pants behind to fit them in there but priorities. “I'm not on some medicine that no one thought to tell me about until now, am I?”
“None that I know of, kid,” L'ulo smiled, patting him on the back with one hand and leading him towards the hangar. “Despite the circumstances, Kes is going to be ecstatic to see you.”
Oh fuck. “Shit,” Poe nearly tripped on his own foot, “I forgot to call him last night.”
“I'm sure Organa informed him,” the Duros comforted. “I had heard that someone called him a couple of days ago to tell him about what happened. You were still in the medbay.”
Ugh, dammit. “I should have called, though.” And now he was going to get the mother of all lectures when they landed. Never mind that he forgot to do it because he was procrastinating so hard on the subject. He didn't want to see his dad suddenly four years older, especially over a holovid call.
“He'll just be glad to see you standing,” L'ulo offered. “Don't stress about it. There's plenty of other things to stress about.”
“Yeah, but I like focusing on the smaller stuff, you know?”
The Duros frowned, and Poe figured that probably wasn't the best answer when trying to ward off concern in his loved ones. “It'll be fine, Poe. You'll see.”
Fine. Fine, he says. Poe adjusted his strap. “You know that Finn kid's supposed to be bringing me over there? And staying?”
Poe paused, blinked. “You did?”
“Word travels fast here,” L'ulo answered and crossed the hall to open the hangar doors. The sun was hardly over the horizon, but the sounds of work and mechanics was already filling the air, enough to knock Poe off his feet in surprise. Sure, it was technically daylight, but these guys really put their all into it. He did a quick glance of the tired, bright, hopeful faces as he followed L'ulo, some of them laughing at their droids, some looking intently at circuitry, some waving at him as he walked to the tarmac. Damn, he loved this place.
“It had to be something a little inconspicuous,” L'ulo continued, breaking Poe's train of thought. “Not exactly exciting, but at least you won't get shot at.”
“I am kind of glad about that,” Dameron muttered, catching sight of a pretty fucking old shuttle sitting out on the tarmac. There were dents and rust and faded paint and a worn out logo and one (1) thruster engine, but he also noticed at least three hidden canons on it, too. Retrofitted, at least. He would hazard a guess that the pitiful looking engine wasn't all that pitiful either since it was a model he hadn't seen before. Brand new and disguised as old. Fuck, he loved this place.
Karé Kun, a friend of his from the Republic that he finally had the chance to catch up with the night before, was walking into the shuttle and Princess Leia Organa was standing right there at the loading dock. Poe scowled. Maybe everyone's favorite Major got out of it after all. What a motherfucking shock.
Which was perfectly fucking fine with Poe. Who the hell wanted to be stuck with Major Stick Up His Ass for two weeks, anyway? Fuck him.
“Commander.” The Princess gained his attention like an electric shock, Poe completely forgetting she was even there with his internal tirade. He straightened and walked to her with less of a slump in his back and more pep in his feet. “Any changes this morning?”
“No, ma'am.” Except sleep was getting a little more difficult than originally thought but details. “I wasn't able to see the doctor before getting ready.”
“That's quite all right,” she smiled, nodded. “She informed me that you can skip a day if you so choose, but it's important to see a doctor tomorrow. Am I clear?”
She smiled a little wider, a little fonder. “Good. We want you back in good health, Poe. Give Kes my regards.”
And there she goes with that first name business again. “Yes, ma'am. Thank you.”
The Princess began to step away, but seemed to recall something and paused. “Oh, one more thing. In case anything comes up, I'm sending a second operative with you.”
He blinked, remembering Karé walking into the ship. “Who's-?”
<FRIEND-POE!> BB-8 shrieked, zooming out of the shuttle to land directly in Poe's shins. <Isn't it great? BB-8 gets time off, too! But it's not a vacation, General-Organa says! It's a mission! A mission only BB-8 can accomplish! A mission-! Are you okay?>
“Yeah, Bee,” Poe grunted, balancing on one leg as he cradled his right one. “I'm- Yeah. Good. I'm-... Please stop running into me. Gods, I can't possibly live like this.”
<Oh.> BB-8 whirred in silence, staring up at him. <Did you stop wearing your steel-toed boots again? They're fun to bounce off of, but there's been a lot less bouncing since you->
“Oh, fuck me,” he breathed out.
The Princess was the first one to start laughing at him, the smile reaching her eyes and making her glow a bit. She patted him on the shoulder. “See you soon, Commander,” Leia chuckled and left them.
“Did I-” Poe watched her go, trying to fight through the pain. “Did that just happen in front of the Leia Organa?”
“Yeah,” L'ulo answered, hardly forgotten since he was close to crying from holding back his laughter. “Yeah, it did. That happened.”
Poe groaned, long and loud, while BB-8 whistled <Sorry> kind of half heartedly. <You should wear your boots, Friend-Poe. It's dangerous.>
“I caught that. Thanks,” he grumbled, testing the weight of his leg.
The Duros did laugh that time, but managed to fend it off fairly quickly, even if the big grin remained. “Yes, Poe. I think you're going to be in perfectly capable hands. You'll be okay, son.”
“Thanks,” Poe answered with actual sincerity that time and looked up into the shuttle. Time to go... Time to-... He stared at the interior, knowing there were eyes on him, people he didn't even know watching him like he was the shit of legends. Poe licked his lip. “I need you to be honest with me,” he said, speaking lower with the hopes that even BB would get the idea and not interrupt. “I know they told you not to tell me anything, but I really need someone to be honest with me.”
When Poe got enough courage to look back to the Duros, all laughter had left him and a seriousness had settled in. “What is it?”
This was both dangerous and reassuring. Poe knew, without a doubt, L'ulo would honestly answer whatever he chose to ask. And he had so many questions. What the hell was up with Finn? Why hadn't the Republic ever fought back? How many of his other friends were dead or missing or prisoners? What had happened to him? Why did he have nightmares and panic attacks? Why did his astromech know what to do in case he freaked out? What was everyone making a point to not tell him? What was so fucking important that even speaking about it would be detrimental to his health? What the fuck happened?
Poe swallowed around the lump in his throat, his voice dropping to a whisper. “Is it even worth remembering?”
There was a sad twist to L'ulo's mouth before the Duros let out a deep breath. “Life has a way of balancing out, son. There's a lot there you don't want to leave behind.”
Like what? Every suspicion he'd had so far led down a road he would rather not look too closely at. Surely if something, anything out of the hell of his last four years in the galaxy was any good, they could just freaking tell him. It couldn't be that long of a conversation.
But Poe frowned, trying to swallow the dark thoughts. If L'ulo said it was worth it, well-
“Dameron,” a strong voice said. Poe whipped his head around, finding Karé walking out of the shuttle and Finn standing at the top of the ramp, hand clutching at a grate like he was either going to be sick or fling it off in a fit of rage. From the expression on his face as he looked down at the pilot, it was probably the latter. “We have a long trip. You wanna get going today?”
Oh. Well. If it wasn't The Kid there to drag Poe around against both of their wills. Fantastic. He couldn't decide if he preferred Finn to be staying behind (since he clearly wanted nothing to do with this) or if the sight of the cute little Major's deep set frown was enough to make his whole day light up. Ha ha, fuck him.
“Actually,” Poe smirked, “I just remembered that I hadn't had breakfast yet. Keep the engines running for me? Shouldn't be more than, oh, three hours.”
Karé punched his shoulder... pretty hard. “Stop being a brat,” she smiled at him, laughter in her eyes. “You better get up there before Finn drags you in.”
BB-8 whistled just as The Kid grunted, as if in agreement.
Poe did a show of rolling his eyes and groaning, which was honestly not a hard feat to convincingly pull off. At least two weeks back home where everything has potentially changed while tagging around with good ol' jolly Finn. It didn't scream vacation to him, to put it lightly. “Yeah, all right. Let's go, BB.”
<Yay!> The droid chimed, rolling back up the loading bay. <Mission time! Mission time! Mission time!> the mech happily chanted, zipping right past Finn and towards the cockpit.
The owner of said mech followed at a much more sedated pace, pulling his pack tighter, then remembered something and turned back around. “Wait, hold on, I really do have a question.” He ignored Finn's exasperated sigh, and lifted his pack of emphasis. “Who made these blueprints? Should I return them before I go?”
Karé barked a laugh. “Poe, moron, you drew those up.”
That... was surely a lie. That was surely- That-... “I what!?”
“Come on, flyboy. You can drool over them on the way.” Turning away from his friend's snickers, he caught Finn just as he turned inside of the shuttle with a little smile on his face, too confused about how he knew him that well and flyboy to process that one.
<FRIEND-POE! COME ON! IT'S MISSION TIME!>
“I'm coming! I-” He turned back to face L'ulo and Karé, the loading bay beginning to rise. “Um. See ya around?”
They both waved, sincere smiles shining back on him, and he really didn't want to leave. Couldn't he just go back to bed? “May the force be with you, kid.”
Poe was so surprised at the words that he didn't get to reply to L'ulo before the loading bay door sealed.
Still not entirely sure where he was other than Outer Rim, Dameron had no judgment on how long it really would take to get to Yavin IV. He was betting on a few hours but praying not a few days. Still, they hadn't left D'Qar yet, what with the ancient technology that was this shuttle trying to rumble to life.
He stored away his things and moved to the cockpit, wondering what was taking so long. The engine was newish, likely in decent condition, but that didn't necessarily mean everything was in good condition or even remotely new. But then he got to the cockpit and remembered that Finn was the one flying them out.
Poe smirked and fell into the copilot's seat to watch, legs sprawled over the arm rest, lightly brushing his feet against BB-8's casing. “Hey, cutie.”
“Don't call me-” Finn shot his eyes to Poe, seeming to only just realize he was there. “What are you doing here?”
“Well, you, my handsome companion-”
“Don't call me-”
“-are shuttling me out to Yavin IV for two weeks of sitting around and, what I can only assume, glaring at each other while we both envision getting physical, both romantically and violently-”
“I meant,” Finn growled, “what are you doing up here? I can't fly with you right there.”
“Why?” Poe's smirk grew, eyelashes fluttering. “Am I that distracting?”
The Major was unimpressed. “Yes. You are. You're going to sit there and correct every single damn move I make.”
“Not my fault if you do everything wrong, buddy.”
“Don't call me that either,” Finn grumbled, flipping a few switches above their head as the ship finally managed to lift off. Actually, The Kid wasn't doing half bad. So far.
But still. “What? We're not even buddies now? Come on, kid. You're killing me.”
“Don't call-” Finn closed his eyes, white knuckling the controls, and took a deep breath. When he let it out and opened his eyes, the ship began ascending to the atmosphere. “Just go in the back, Commander.”
“Nah, I'm comfy here,” Poe answered, wiggling his butt deeper into the seat. “Unless that was an order, of course.” Finn shot him a glare. “While we're at it, would you like me to keep my clothes on or-?”
“Fine,” the Major growled again. “Stay there. Just, please, shut up.”
“You obviously don't know me that well. You gonna prime the hyper drive there, buddy?”
Finn let out something between a groan and a yell, and Poe was almost certain that a vein was near bursting. “BB!” he yelled again, glaring down at the droid.
Immediately, BB-8 brought out his taser and aimed it at Poe. <You're interrupting Friend-Finn's mission!>
“Friend who?” Poe was so shocked by the honorific that he forgot the momentary danger – His own droid turning against him! – that he was zapped before even considering getting a move on. “AH! Fuck! Okay! Fuck! Put that away! Who's side are you-!? AH! BB! Stop it! I'm leaving! I'm leaving!”
I'm so sorry this is ridiculously late. I had so many essays to do, it's insane. But no, I'm not abandoning this one just yet. I just haven't had any free time lately. I also wish it could have been a bit longer, but at least we're still moving along. Thanks, everyone! The next chapter should be much better.
Poe's pride was more damaged than his bruising thigh. His own droid. His own droid. Calling that jackass Friend Finn, no less. Well, the pilot couldn't deny that they at least had known each other if he remembered waking up in the medbay correctly. But that was the whole point on why Finn was a jackass. First he's all friendly and worrying and nice, then he refuses to give Poe the time of day. Hell, he won't even look at him except to check him out that one time. Was he to watch over Poe for the General or something? Was he just friendly to him behind closed doors?
Well that second one was definitely a no-go seeing as all available doors were currently closed.
Poe huffed against the transparisteel viewport, watching the stars lick by their shuttle as he was transported to and from like cargo. He refused to think too deeply about what the fuck went on in that bastard's head. It was best to just treat Finn like the fine piece of ass he was and not dwell on it. Even if he didn't like the advances... Especially since he didn't like the advances. He was cute, Poe would give him that, but as far as personality went? Ugh. He'd rather be going home with a rancor piloting the ship.
He watched the stars go by, trying to clear his head and not think for a minute.
… But he was just so fucking pissed off! What right did that guy even have to be by his bed when he woke up like that? Why the fuck was he all smiles and nice, but as soon as Poe has something wrong with him, suddenly he drops him in a ditch? Nu-uh. Fuck that asshole. Fuck him. Whatever had happened back there was a betrayal or some sort, and Poe only wished that he had had the insight in the last four years to peg the guy before- before... this!
They came out of hyperspace in a flash followed by encroaching darkness that Poe was so familiar with that he hardly blinked. Grinding his jaw and glaring daggers to the space beyond, the stars quickly began to come into focus and- and he knew where he was. Previous frustration quickly forgotten, Poe plastered his face to the glass to look forward and back, eventually spotting the bright red gas giant below and to his left.
It looked exactly like home. Like nothing had changed. Like there was no gaping four years. Like he was just back home.
Poe scrambled from the viewport, bounding into the cockpit with as much of a racket as he could muster. “We're here! We're home! We're here!”
He heard Finn's groan before he saw him, realizing that the Major hadn't actually jumped from the outburst. Shame. “Yes, Poe. We're almost there.”
Without invitation (because he wasn't going to get one), Poe fell back into the co-pilot's seat. “I'm so excited. Eat some real food, catch up with old friends, check on the livestock, visit the old temples again, hiking, swimming, my old room- Ah. It's gonna be great. Where do you hail from, buddy?”
Finn shot him a disbelieving look, suggesting he knew Poe wasn't so excited but wanted to chatter about it just to annoy him anyway. “Somewhere cold,” he answered, watching as the little green dot in the distance quickly became a much larger green dot with an atmosphere.
“Cold?” Poe scoffed. “Buddy, your gonna dehydrate as soon as we step off this thing. The humidity on Yavin IV's a killer, then there's monsoon season which is the only time it ever cools off, if you call it that. I can see it now. If the humidity doesn't get you, the mosquitoes will. Big as my head, those things!”
Finn rolled his eyes, but BB-8 looked up towards Poe. <Friend-Finn is familiar with Yavin IV's weather patterns and animal life.>
Oh. Wait. “You've been to Yavin IV before?”
“Once or twice,” Finn answered looking completely unimpressed with Poe's one-sided banter, already taking them through the atmosphere of a very familiar moon.
But Poe just laughed. “Once or twice!” He rose up, clapping The Kid on the shoulder as the other flinched away from the touch. “Honey, you haven't been to Yavin's best moon until you've survived a week on nothing but my dad's bean chili. Former Rebellion soldier, ya know? Guy's tough as nails, buddy. You don't-”
“Can you-” Finn turned to him, seemed to think better of it, and looked back out the viewport for their landing with the same annoyed expression. “Can you please just stop calling me-”
Poe barked another laugh, interrupting him halfway through. “What would you like me to call you, sugar pie? Sweet dumpling? Honey badger?”
“I have a name,” Finn growled with an utter lack of playfulness and a bit of a threat behind the eyes that cut back up to the pilot. “Use it.”
He wasn't about to be intimidated. Well, he was kind of intimidated. As handsome as those biceps were, they each looked about the size of Poe's neck. Still, the point was being able to look the part. Poe smirked, tilting his head to side, giving in but not without a little bit of a dig. “Finn,” he said, drawing the name out like a cutesy little word. “Fine,” Poe stepped out of the cockpit to get his things, “be boring.”
The silence of the cockpit followed him out into the hold, and Poe refused to let it bother him. He refused to let anything about Friend Finn bother him. If he could just clock the guy in his jaw one good time, he'd probably be okay.
At least being angry at Finn took his mind off of being terrified about everything else.
Poe grunted as he hefted his bag down from the overhead compartment, cursing his older self for managing to get out of shape in the last few years. Sure, he never knew why he needed to work out so much if all he did was sit in an X-Wing all day, but he didn't think the idea would ever actually catch up to him.
BB-8 whistled a greeting as he rolled up beside Poe's legs, watching his human heft the bag on to his shoulder with some effort. <Are you all right?>
“Yeah, buddy,” Poe sighed, keeping his voice low. “I'm good. One too many honey cakes in the last four years, but I'm managing.”
The droid chimed something that was meant to be equivalent to an approving grunt, before adding in an equally hushed tone, <Stop interrupting Friend-Finn's mission.>
Poe groaned. This again. “I'm not... interrupting his babysitting duty.”
<Then stop making it difficult.>
“Come on, Bee. That's one of my few pleasures in this life.”
<Friend-Finn has enough going on without you acting like a whiny little->
“Since we're apparently taking pot shots at each other,” Poe interrupted, raising a finger at his astromech, “when did he become your friend-anything?”
<Friend-Finn saved BB-8> the droid shot back, clearly irritated. <Friend-Finn saved us all.>
“Yeah,” the pilot rolled his eyes, a common trait aboard this shuttle so far. “I'm sure he's the next Skywalker.”
<Friend-Finn has been nothing but polite to you.>
Polite. Polite. “That's the kriffing problem.”
Wrapped up in the argument against his own droid turned traitor, Poe totally forgot about Yavin and atmospheres and landing and- and nearly fell on his face when the shuttle jolted to a halt on the moon's surface. “Hey, do you fucking mind!?”
A blunt (and probably smug) voice drifted to him from the cockpit. “Did the Republic Navy not teach you to strap in for landing, Commander?”
Poe shot a look down at BB-8. “Polite my ass.”
<Play nice> BB-8 whirred before rolling back towards the cockpit.
Dameron sneered after it, but took a deep breath and chanced a look outside. Dense trees covered in vines and moss clung to the grassy clearing, trying hard to encroach on the land as best it could. From this angle, he could make out an old barbed wire fence, holding itself up with rotted posts of wood several feet apart, the metal rusted and bent and broken in places, lining one side of a dusty path that was worn into the soil by feet and speeder engines alike. A path that led into town that Poe had been on more times than he could possibly count. On the other side of the fence and the path, he could make out the edge of two old sheds, one made with scrap metal that was found here and there and one that was much newer and nicer, storing an A-Wing with Poe's last known memory.
Finn had taken him home. Finn had literally taken him right up to his damned doorstep. They must be handing out better coordinates than he thought nowadays.
The loading ramp unsealed with a hiss and began to lower just as the droid came bustling out again, rolling in place a spare few inches from the door. <Friend-Kes and R5-A3 are supposed to meet us.>
Well, at least the old astromech was still kicking. Poe took a deep breath, unable to bring himself to stand any closer to the lowering doorway.
But then Finn walked up beside him, carrying his own bag over his shoulder and muttered, “Stop fretting so much,” that gave Poe the strength to act like a complete pompous bastard.
He scoffed. “I'm not fretting. I grew up here, hotstot. Sorry. Finn.” It in no way sounded like a sincere apology and it wasn't meant to be. “Maybe you should start, though. Like I said, tough as nails. He's hard to get along with around certain people. And since you've been, well, you-”
“Time to put your money where your big mouth is, Commander,” Finn frowned at him, but made no other moves as the loading bay finally planted itself on the ground, BB-8 flying out of the ship as fast as his little body could and out of sight.
Poe gulped but refused to look weak in front of Finn and forced himself forward. With every step he took, Yavin IV suddenly came into view. The small hangar for his mother's A-Wing, the little barn and metal lean-to that was the entrance to the pasture, his childhood home presenting itself like a jewel in front of all that, and his dad with his mother's old droid at the bottom of the ramp. BB-8 and A3 were already beeping up a storm, but Kes Dameron was looking up into the ship with a smile and bright eyes, fists on his hips. The clothes were unfamiliar, hairline maybe a little further back along the temples, a little more gray peppered in to his more closely shaved beard. Otherwise, though, he looked the same. Poe didn't know what he had expected to happen in the last four years, but he hadn't expected his dad to look more or less... the same.
“You gonna stand there gawkin' all day?”
Jolting back to himself, Poe realized he had been gawking just a little bit, but smiled at his father's accusation anyway and ran out the ship. His dad made an oof as Poe rammed into him, wrapping his arms around his father and holding him as tight as he could. It had been four years and some odd months since he last saw his dad, nearly five years actually, so he allowed himself the moment.
Until he remembered that Finn existed. Poe peeled himself away with a laugh, hand raking through his hair in a poor attempt to play it off. “Sorry. Sorry. Got a little... carried away.”
“It's all right,” Kes chuckled, bringing a firm but gentle hand to the side of his face, making his son look him in the eye. “Heard you've had a rough few days.”
Poe immediately relaxed. “Pretty big understatement, dad,” he answered back quietly, still not wanting to seem weak around the Major but giving in regardless. “Missed you.”
“Missed you, too, kid,” his father softly smiled, ruffling his hair a little. “We'll get you fixed up. You'll see.”
“Yeah,” Poe breathed out, not sure if he believed it or not, but it didn't seem to matter. Kes' attention was already taken, eyes looking over his son's shoulder.
The younger Dameron turned just in time to catch Finn walking up behind him with a little smile on his face. “Hey, Kes.”
“Hey, son.” Kes pulled Finn into a tight, one armed hug, his other hand still planted deep in Poe's hair. “Glad you're here.”
Finn, absolutely shockingly, returned the hug just as tightly before stepping away with the same shy smile. He ducked his head, nodded. “I'm gonna go get BB settled in, let you have a minute.”
“Go ahead. Got food on the stove if you're hungry. Help yourself.”
“I'll wait for you two. Thanks,” Finn said with a small shake of his head, pulling completely away from Kes' orbit and going closer to the droids. “Hey, A3,” he greeted quietly, solemnly, patting the dark green and white astromech on the head. The old droid greeted him warmly with that deep tone of his, and both mechs followed Finn on his way to the house.
Poe, meanwhile, was pretty sure his throat was collapsing in on itself. “You know him?” Okay. Okay, he understood that no one should tell him what the last four years entailed, he got that, but actively avoiding the fact that Finn knew his own family? Allowing Poe to dig his own hole while he thought he was teasing the other man about the unknown? Oh, that son of a bitch.
Kes, not realizing that there was a crisis going on, just laughed and patted his son on the back. “Finn's a good kid.”
“A good kid?”
“I take it things have been rocky?”
“Again with the understatements.”
Kes chuckled again, putting his arm over Poe's shoulders and leading them towards the house. “Well, you'll be happy to know that I've got some meat soup and fried plantains in that house for you. Used to be some of your favorites. I'm guessing that considerin' the situation, it still is.”
“Maker, you spoil me,” the pilot sighed, allowing himself to relax a little.
His father tugged him closer in a makeshift hug, going along with Poe's stride as the younger one slowed down, not wanting Finn in on the moment just yet. Still, Kes' hands went to his hair again, gentler this time. “How's the head?”
Not as distracting as he'd like, actually. “Hurts,” Poe admitted, “like a dull ache that's always there, but it's let up the last couple of days. Doc said I might see spots and stuff, but none of that's happened yet.”
“We'll get you checked out in the morning,” Kes said a little more seriously. “What about the mental side of things?”
“Am I crazy if I think I'm the only one that hasn't gone crazy?” His father smirked at him, breathing a short laugh. Poe sighed. “I don't remember shit. People have shook my hand, told me stories about flying with me. I don't even know them. They've even told me that some of my friends have- are gone, and I don't- It just doesn't even feel like it.” He cradled his head with his free hand, frustrated, annoyed, sad, angry, hurt- “No flashbacks. No nothing.”
“Patience, kid,” Kes squeezed his shoulder tighter. “Give it time.”
“Time, yeah.” That's what kriffing everyone said. “What if I just don't remember? What if it doesn't come back?”
“Your Resistance assured me it would... But if it doesn't, we'll work through it.”
That was... a much better answer than what he had been getting lately. Poe stopped walking and hugged his dad tighter, comfortably knowing that the Major was far away and out of sight. “I really missed you, dad.”
For a moment, Kes just indulged him in the contact, not that they had ever been touchy-feely before, but Poe had never lost four years worth of his memories before either. He took a deep breath, inhaling his father and Yavin IV, the trees and the animals and his entire childhood home, older memories stirring in him that still managed to not help his newer ones come along. After a long enough moment that was too short for him but too long for his pride, Poe pulled away again. “How long will it take for you guys to tell me everything?”
His dad smiled. “We'll see how it goes,” he said, patting his shoulder. Then the soft smile went away and a wrinkle of worry and self-consciousness appeared in his brow. “Speaking of, there's something I oughta tell you before too much time passes.”
Poe groaned, not sure if he was delighted to be told something or wary. The only other thing he was told about was Muran's death, but L'ulo had said nothing bad had happened at home... “All right. I'm ready. Hit me.”
“I didn't make the plantains.”
The pilot blinked. Frowned. “You bought them? That's not like you.” He expected a laugh, a joke at his expense, but the tension sort of... lingered.
“... I didn't buy them,” Kes' voice was a little weak, so he cleared his throat. “Someone else made them.”
Someone else. Poe blinked again, about to open his mouth, when realization hit him like a sledgehammer to the face. The effects of which must have been obvious as Kes' frown became more pronounced, and he continued. “She's staying up in town right now. We, uh- We didn't want to overwhelm-”
“I need to sit down.”
“Okay, yeah.” Kes' grip on his shoulder didn't waver as Poe lowered himself to the grass. “Yeah, we'll- we'll just sit here for a minute and-”
Poe's back fell into the grass with a solid thud, and he decided that this was a great place to not move from for the next four years.
Oh, Poe. Get your dramatic ass up.
Also, yeah, I know that A-Wings didn't have astromechs, but I figured there were a few that helped make repairs on their ships and all that. And, well, dammit, I thought the idea was cute. Thank you all for reading!
(EDIT: I just realized I used "beef" in a Star Wars story. I'm not gonna change it. I don't know the substitute. Imagine there's cows somewhere.)
(EDIT: I changed it.)
Poe chewed the plantain slowly, allowing himself to just taste it for a minute, before swallowing it down and digging his spoon in for a second bite, pretending that his father wasn't staring holes through his skull. They were good. Not too soggy, not undercooked, drizzled in chocolate sauce and honey. Kes never put anything on his. Poe chewed the second bite and swallowed, trying desperately to be mature and not make a scene.
Which was an incredibly difficult thing to do.
Did he freak out when he found out last time? Was he even okay with the thought of his dad in a relationship with a woman he didn't know? Sure, it didn't really matter what he felt about it – he was a grown fucking man despite whatever Finn thought – but this was a pretty huge step in his dad's social life. But how had he reacted to this news before? What did he used to think of it? What did older Poe make of this?
Was she human? Was she nice? How old was she? Was she older or younger? How did they meet? Did she like Poe? Did she get along with him? Did he get along with her? Had he even met her before? How did she feel about Kes having a child? What did she think of his mother? Did Kes want to marry her? Were they already married? Did he want to have more children? Was she pregnant? Does she already have children? Does she already have children with him?
Poe stuffed another bite of plantain in his mouth, trying to stop vibrating before he fell out of his chair. He chanced a glance to his right, watching Finn eat with utter calm and efficiency, demolishing through dinner like nothing else in the galaxy existed. Poe quickly looked away, still trying not to panic and not entirely sure why he looked to him of all people for comfort with this. He supposed because his dad was kinda out of the question.
“Maker, help me,” Kes suddenly groaned, making Poe jump slightly in his finicky state. “One of you, please, talk. I don't care about what. Just say something. Anything. Please.”
At least he hadn't been imagining the tension. With not much else to say other than BUT DO YOU LOVE HER THOUGH, Poe glanced back at Finn to save him. The other had stopped eating, staring up at Kes before looking over to Poe. The pilot, who did not want him to think that he actually wanted him to speak up (because Maker forbid) glared back with a quick frown.
Finn blinked at him, unmoved by the glare, and looked back to Kes. “How's the cattle so far this year?”
The older man's shoulders seemed to relax. “They're doing good. The rain's about to come in and one of them's so pregnant that she's miserable, but they're mostly doing fine.”
Poe stuffed another bite of plantain in his mouth, trying to forget the mere concept of pregnancies.
“Is she all right?”
“Yeah, she's fine. I don't know how much she's sleeping, but she's fine. It's not her first.”
“When do you think she'll give birth?”
“Knowing my luck, when the low pressure system comes in. It's easier if she's not all by herself, you know.”
“I'll help if we're still here for it.”
Poe's spoon lightly clanked against this plate, going for a bite that wasn't even there. Fuck. “Can you-” Finn, who was already in motion before the pilot had started talking, sat the platter of plantains beside him. Poe, not blushing at all, took another. “Thanks.”
“But seriously,” Finn continued, completely ignoring him, “the General sent me out here to make sure no trouble followed us, but otherwise-” A pause. A clearing throat. “If I'm needed, I'd like to help out where I can.”
Poe felt his dad's eyes on him again as he stuffed a rather large chunk of plantain in his mouth since he couldn't crawl under the table. “I'd like that, actually. Especially since this one's probably going to keep me busy.” His dad's voice was light enough, but something about the whole thing made him not like it so much. “Orders come first, though.” Yeah, he definitely didn't like it.
“Course,” Finn said with a short nod, quickly looking back down at his meal. His glanced over to the pilot and back, face unreadable.
Poe took another bite and looked away, a silence coming over the table, the tension somehow stronger than before.
“Well!” Kes tried again in vain, “I'm full. That was great... Poe, you hadn't touched the soup. You like the plantains that much?”
“They're okay,” he muttered, scooping another piece into his mouth and leaving it at that.
Of course Finn got his own damned room.
Poe scrubbed hard at his face, so frustrated and overwhelmed that he could hardly breathe. It wasn't like the house was too small to not spare the guest bedroom, but the way it happened without words really being exchanged somehow pissed Poe off more than he could imagine. How is that even a common thing around here? How does Finn get along with his dad so well that he gets his own freaking room without question?
Maybe it was just the polite thing. It was definitely just the polite thing.
But what about that woman? Kes said she wasn't here now, so was she here usually? And she didn't get the guest room?
Poe groaned low in his throat and slid down the door until he was sitting. He had barricaded himself in his childhood room for the night and-... Well, it wasn't strictly speaking terrible. Everything more or less looked the same. Which... was the problem. How often did he come back here? Had he come home for more than a day since he joined the Republic? Snap had said (L'ulo later repeating) that he was in command of the whole Resistance fleet, but it didn't really hit him how much he must have worked until just then. He wasn't a regular pilot anymore. He had a whole damn war to fight. Which meant he wasn't home much.
But that's good, right? That made his mother proud, right?
He ran a hand through his hair, wondering what the fuck had happened to his life – to the galaxy – in the last four stupid fucking years. How could anything change so much in just four years?
There was no sense in going into a panic now. He was home, away from the world, back to familiarity, back to his father. With a deep breath, he forced himself back to his feet, not too keen on thinking of anything outside of this room. Not everything had changed but a couple of things had.
First things first. Poe grabbed his bag by the door and hauled it over to sit on the bed. He took out the blueprints, setting them aside to study later, and opened the bag a bit wider. BB-8's portable charging station didn't seem so important anymore since Finn had brought one along, too, and set it up in the living room. Well, he wasn't Finn's droid, so Poe set his own up in the corner with an annoyed huff.
Moving along, he took out the pictures next, placing the one of his parents on the nightstand and stuffing the one of Finn to the bottom of his bag with a growl. Last was his few articles of clothes that he brought along. Unsure of what he had at home, especially since he had the proverbial growth spurt, Poe had brought enough along to do him for awhile what with his dad's skills at laundry and all.
He moved over to the small dresser with his bag, putting what he could into the first and second drawers without touching, seeing, or jostling Finn's stupid picture- Fuck, why did he bring that? With his clothes put away, he wrapped the duffel around the fucking picture, intending to hide it in the bottom dresser and forget it's existence for the rest of his miserable-
… Poe yanked again, the drawer not budging. He tried a third time, jostling the whole dresser, threatening to topple all of the junk placed on top, but the drawer still didn't open. The little keyhole above each handle would lead him to assume that it was locked.
Too lazy to get up for the key but too curious to let well enough alone, Poe opened the drawer above it with every intention of removing the thing and taking a peak into the the bottom one's contents. Only... it latched against something, refusing to take that last little bit to get away from the dresser completely.
With another groan, Poe slammed the drawer shut and stood, moving over to the little desk against the wall so he- Wait. Wait, no- He looked under everything splayed over the desk's surface, opening the little drawers and rustling through the contents. He always put the key on his desk. Ever since he was little, he always put the key- Poe groaned again, louder this time, tossing his head back to stare at the ceiling. It was things like this. It was fucking things like this.
A knock sounded at his door, and Poe had to bite his tongue to not snap at the intruder. A chiming trill accompanied the sound, signaling BB-8's return to his very special mission of watching his master's every motherfucking move.
With a deep breath, Poe walked over and yanked the door open... immediately sagging in relieve. “Oh, it's just you.”
“Who'd you think it'd be?” his dad asked in the doorway, actually managing to look confused. “The judge, jury, and executioner?”
“Pretty much,” he mumbled, turning away from the door as the droid rolled inside, letting out a happy squeak at seeing a charging station in this room, too. That made Poe feel a little better at least. The droid hunkered in for the night, going into low power mode. “I was just unpacking. What's up?”
“Not too much. Wanted to talk to you.”
When Poe turned back to him, Kes hadn't moved from the doorway and there was a seriousness on his face. Honestly. Honestly, he had had enough of this shit. “Fuck, dad, just tell me who's dead and get it over with.”
Kes' raised his eyebrows. “What? No one's dead. Why'd you-?”
With another groan, feeling like a fucking 18 year-old, Poe fell into his bed face first. “Sorry, I-” He rolled over on his back, feet planted firmly on the floor while he scrubbed his face. “Whenever someone wants to talk it hasn't been that... amazing.” He still hadn't processed Muran. He didn't even want to think about Muran. Poe sat up, eyes closed.
Before he could ask what was on his mind, Kes was heaving a heavy sigh. “Yeah, uh- I talked to Finn.”
“Did ya now?” Poe couldn't help the self-depreciating smirk. “And what did Wonder Kid have to tell you?”
“What's that about?”
He opened his eyes, looking up to the shock on his father's face. “What's what about?”
Kes looked back at him for a moment, trying to decide on something, before letting it go and glancing at the floor. “He told me some of the important parts that you don't remember, things that we should skirt around-”
“And how the hell does Finn know anything important that's happened in my life?” Poe interrupted, probably not the smartest move but fuck. “And for that matter, how the hell does he know you?”
“He's been here a few times.”
“Yeah, I-” Poe laughed, letting his head fall into his hands, pressing his thumbs against his eyes. “That's not an answer, dad.”
Instead of going off and snapping at him for being the brat Poe knew he was acting like, Kes just sighed and walked over until the bed dipped to his weight. “You've brought him here a few times,” he actually answered, a bit softer this time.
“I'd gathered,” Poe answered with a grimace, already having put those pieces together. “Why would I do that?”
He felt his dad shrug beside him, his arms raising just a bit off the bed. “I guess you two were closer before.” When the younger one made no answer other than a deep intake of air, holding it there for a moment, he continued. “You're not all that close right now I take it?”
Poe slowly let out the breath, counting to ten. “Not particularly, no.” If Finn were in the room, the pilot would get up and punch him in his stupid fucking face. “Please tell me that's not what you wanted to talk to me about.”
His father sighed, shifting beside him. “No. It's not. I wanted to talk to you about Miri.” When he didn't continue, Poe finally lifted his head to give his dad a confused eye. But there was that same awkward, guilty, worried look on his face, and Poe bowed his head again. “Look, it's not like-”
“I don't know what you want me to say, dad.” And that was ridiculously rude, but he really didn't know what to say and he was tired and his head hurt and the drawer won't open and Finn's an asshole and his dad's dating again- “I'm happy for you. I really am. It's just- I don't know. I should have expected that.”
“How could you? I wasn't near about looking at anyone four years ago.”
“But you like her, though?”
“Course, I like her-”
“Good. That's good. See? That's good.”
“Poe.” Kes leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees, voice firm and losing the worried edge. “I'm old as dirt, we both know that. I didn't go and put myself out on the market. It just... happened.”
For all of his panicked fantasies in the last couple of hours, Poe had at least gathered that. He could hardly picture his dad going out to bars or doing speed dating at the community center every other Tuesday night. But he also should have realized this a long time ago. When was the last time Poe had even come home? Of course his dad had gotten lonely without any family there, without his only son being safely tucked away nearby. And yet, before the war was even a whisper on anyone's lips, before the First Order could even finish drying the paint on their new TIE Fighters, Poe had left to join the Republic Navy. And Kes had been happy, proud, but never sad, never holding on too tight.
He let Poe go live his life. Why was it so hard to even imagine his father doing the same without him?
“How did I take it before?” he asked calmly, curious on what his older self had to say about this. It had only been four short years, but it was clear that the other side of him made much better choices – depending on perspective, of course.
Instead of answering, Kes barked a laugh. “Fuck how you took it before. How are you taking it now?”
But he didn't know how to take it now. He didn't know what he felt anymore. “Is she nice?”
“Too nice, if you ask me,” his dad surprisingly grumbled. “Named every damn head in the herd. Haven't been able to take a single one to slaughter in years. I think we're all organic now. Don't ask me when that happened.”
Poe couldn't help a little smile. “Does she typically seem to like me?”
“She loves you, kid.”
“Do you love her?”
Kes took a deep breath, and let it out in one word. “Yes,” he answered softly, “but it's not the same. No two loves are the same. I'm sure you're old enough to know that by now.”
Was he? Aside from that fling he had when he was a teenager, he'd never been in love. How could he understand something like that?
But his father continued before he could voice the thought. “She's not your mother... Hell, I don't think I know anyone who is less like Shara Bey than her. But she's kind, she's smart. She's good people, good company, and she cares about you. That's more than enough for me.”
Poe nodded, trying to think through his words before he spoke. “When do I meet her?” Because she lived there. With him.
“She's visiting her sister, so it's no problem if we take a few days,” Kes said plainly, bluntly, lightly nudging his son's shoulder with his. “We'll see what the doctor says, okay?”
Made enough sense. Plus it was an out in case he never wanted to see her, never wanted to acknowledge that she existed. Which wasn't right. So Poe nodded again, catching the we in that sentence. “Is Finn going with us tomorrow?”
“Do you want him to come with us?”
The obvious answer was no. He didn't want Major Kid to roll his eyes as Poe passed over the doctor's warnings with a nonchalance he clearly didn't feel just to prove a point. He didn't want to drag The Kid anywhere he didn't want to be which was apparently anywhere in a five mile radius of Poe Dameron. He didn't want to seem weak. He didn't want to feel weak. And Finn clearly did not give a damn anyway.
And yet the day was wearing heavy on his shoulders in a way he'd never felt before, and Poe looked away from his father to shrug a shoulder. “I don't care.” Be something good to look at if nothing else.
“I'll let him decide then,” Kes sighed, and looked back to Poe. “Are you two okay?”
“I'm still kind of shell shocked we were ever okay,” he grumbled, pulling a hand through his hair hard and slow enough to feel the pull down to the roots. “Dad, am I-... Have I changed?” Because he didn't know why he would ever bring Finn back home. He didn't know how anyone trusted him with the responsibilities of Squadron Commander- Fleet Commander, even. He didn't know how he knew someone like Princess Leia. He didn't know how he drew up TIE Fighter blueprints. He didn't know why he locked a drawer of his dresser and hid the key.
“You're still you,” his father answered quietly, placing a hand between his shoulder blades that somehow wasn't terribly awkward. “Different experiences, sure. More responsible, definitely... But you're still you where it matters, Poe. It'll just take time to put the pieces back.”
“Yeah,” he sighed, skin suddenly crawling, shrugging a shoulder before his dad quickly let him go. Poe, deeply wanting to change the subject, leaned back on his arms in an effort to act like everything was fine. “Do you know where my dresser key is?”
“Nope,” his father said, grunting as he stood back up and stretched his lower back. “I'm sure it's just vibrators and smutty magazines in there anyway-”
With a wave of his hand and a little chuckle, Kes turned away. “See you tomorrow, kid. Don't stay up too late looking for that key.”
Poe fell back into the bed with a groan.
A lot of you have told me that Poe's being an asshole. Oh, my sweet summer children.
Thank you so much for all the reviews, as always!
EDIT: lol Guys, it's okay. I know you all don't hate Poe. I'm just saying things are gonna get way worse before it gets better. I love you all so much! *mwah mwah*
Because it bothered some of you, just know that Poe is acting like an ass again in the first section of this chapter, but Finn shuts him down this time. Wanted to let you know first, though!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
He had dreamed of being trapped, caged like a feral animal, before jolting awake again. Poe started to wonder when was the last time he'd even had a decent night's sleep. The last few days? Last few months? Years?
“How are you sleeping?”
“Like a log.”
Finn, who had his strong arms crossed over his broad chest, standing at his side like a sentinel, fluttered his eyelids until they closed, a new strain presenting itself against the edge of his lips. Poe ignored him.
“What about the pain?” Dr. Kzell asked, his large Arconan eyes blinking up at Poe after tapping something on his tablet. He had been in the Rebellion as a medic, serving in many platoons with Kes, which basically sealed his fate as the family practitioner once settling on Yavin IV. “Were you prescribed anything to manage it?”
“No meds,” Poe answered, lightly kicking his legs from atop the high bed they'd set him down on. “Pain's not bothering me anymore.”
“And dizzy spells?” the doctor asked in his heavy accent. “Coordination problems?”
“Nah. Fit as a fiddle.” Not to say that the speeder ride over to the doctor didn't fuck him up pretty good, but he was pretty successful in not showing his dad or Finn that little fun fact. And besides all that, if they didn't want him in a speeder, they sure as hell wouldn't want him in an X-Wing. It was fine.
Kzell nodded, tapping something else on his tablet. “And your memories?”
Poe grimaced for a heartbeat before reigning himself in. “Nothing yet.”
The doctor huffed, making some sort of grunting sound, as he nodded and typed in something else. “I'm going to check your eyesight before you leave, Poe, just to make sure there's nothing wrong that could induce migraines. As for the last few years,” he sighed, looking back up to him with a genuine look between pity and sorrow, “I'm sure your doctor's explained it all. It could come back all at once, as these things tend to happen, or slowly over time. I've been told that there has been significant trauma in the years that you're missing. I'd like to prescribe a low dose of anxiety medication, in case a flashback triggers a panic attack.”
Significant trauma. Poe practically sneered. “I don't need it.”
“It'll be there if you do,” Kzell stood firm, pointing a menacing finger at him, before using the same finger to crook at Kes, nodding towards the door and walking away. His father patted one strong hand against his back, nearly knocking him right off the bed, before following Kzell out the door to talk about him out of earshot. That seemed like the hot new trend these days.
No sooner than the door had shut behind them, Finn turned away and fell into one of the seats lined against the wall, arms still crossed over his chest with legs spread wide, frowning up at Poe.
He considered (really, he really considered) ignoring him again, but it wasn't long before Dameron clicked his tongue and turned to Finn. “See something you like, pretty boy?” he asked with none of the playfulness of before.
Finn, for his part, just continued frowning back at him.
“You got a problem?”
Poe shifted his jaw in thought and hopped off the table, feet moving in Finn's direction slow enough to sway his hips to and fro. At least he still fucking remembered how to move his body despite his center of gravity still thrown off, even if the other man's gaze didn't waver from his unimpressed look. So Poe took the invitation and planted himself between Finn's legs, staring down at him with a leer. “You sure about that?”
After a beat, a moment in which Poe figured he'd have to step up his game if he wanted a reaction, Finn's lips twitched into a smirk. His boots scuffed against the floor until his soles pressed flat on the tiles, arms freeing themselves from his torso, and Finn stood up. He was- Shit, he was- Poe, was pretty sure if Finn flexed an arm, he'd die before his body hit the floor. While no taller than him, Finn was buff and huge and intimidating and smirking.
“Poe,” he said, voice gentle, eyes flashing with a hint of anger, “sit down before you fall down.”
Well, mad or not, at least he was finally playing along. Poe gave him a wide, crooked grin, shifting his feet for better balance. “Or what? You're gonna knock me flat on my back or am I- shit-” He had thought Finn was swaying, but Finn wasn't swaying, and the floor was moving, and-
With one hand wrapped firmly around his bicep, another gripping at his ribs, Poe was hauled to a chair and pushed down into it unceremoniously. Shit. “I'm fine,” he managed to stammer, his hand finding his temple in an effort to be fine.
“Yeah, I know,” Finn voiced, letting him go.
Poe's tongue licked his lips, frustrated. “I'm fine.”
A hand roved through his hair, grabbed, and tugged his head back not enough to hurt but enough to move him around at will. Poe gasped, his world suddenly filled with Finn's pissed off face. “Stop with the bullshit,” he growled, holding the pilot there for a moment as if to see if there would be a reaction.
Poe gulped, words of bravado suddenly escaping him. The world had righted itself again, a pain wanting to begin throbbing somewhere deep in his forehead, but all he could do was stare, mind blank and somehow easily submitting himself.
Satisfied – or apparently not from the way his frown deepened and his eyes turned a touch disappointed – Finn released him and went to the door, opening it a crack and calling for the doctor out in the hall.
When Kzell and his father returned, Poe glanced at Finn standing menacingly in the corner, and corrected his earlier answers. He couldn't sleep for more than three or four hours at a time or nightmares would wake him. The pain had been a constant throb but hadn't gotten worse. He was always dizzy in the mornings, when he tried to fall asleep, or apparently after speeder rides. And maybe anxiety meds wouldn't be so bad. Kes frowned at him and the doctor huffed in irritation, but Poe glanced over to the corner of the room for approval.
Finn was leaning against the wall, arms crossed over his chest again, staring out the window with the same deep frown.
Poe glared at the floor.
Almost as soon as they reached home again, Finn ducked away in the general direction of the barn, and Poe didn't care at all. He especially didn't care that Finn could just walk off from an incredibly tense speeder ride, but as soon as Poe tried to bolt into the house, his dad clamped an arm down on his shoulder. Nope. Did not care.
“What?” he snapped, at least keeping enough sense to not try to throw off his father's firm hand.
Kes, for his sake, did look genuinely worried. “Are you okay?”
“Oh for- I'm fine, dad. I'm not dizzy.” And Poe did shrug his shoulder back at this development, getting the hand off of him.
“All right,” Kes answered unbelieving, pointing a finger at him, “I'm pretty sure that's a lie, but I wasn't talking about that.”
“What then?” Poe grumbled, adjusting his neck and shoulder and trying to make the porch and ground parallel again with a glare. Maybe he was a little dizzy but he wasn't about to fall at least. Not that he did before-
“You and Finn.”
He barked a very self-depreciating laugh. “Are you implying that we were okay at some other point in time?”
“I'm serious, kid,” and Kes was serious for some reason. “I know he got you to fess up back there but-”
“Finn,” Poe growled, offended, “didn't get me to do anything. He's-” Pointing in the general direction of the barn, the pilot had to catch himself and breathe. He closed his eyes and balled his hand into a fist. “You know what? I'm-” Poe took a deep breath and opened his eyes, voice a little lower, a little less frantic. “I'm going to walk away from this conversation before I say something you make me regret saying, okay? We'll pick this up later.”
Despite Kes' annoyed frown, he didn't say anything as his son toed around him carefully and began to walk away from the house. Nothing in there could offer him a moment of peace. He was just reminded that it was now the home of someone he didn't know where his dresser was locked and he hadn't visited often enough.
Just short of allowing himself to jog across the yard, still hoping Finn wouldn't see him, Poe finally found himself in front the hangar and carefully yanking open the rusted side door. The last time he had been in there was, apparently, nearly five years ago. It was a hobby of his to keep his mother's A-Wing spotless and in working order, but Poe never flew her nor did he allow anyone else to touch her, save his dad who never seemed to want to anyway. He had been terrified before of entering the small hangar despite how much he really didn't want to admit to that. What if things had changed? What if the A-Wing was in shambles? What if it was gone?
Poe immediately shut the door behind him before looking around, leaning back against the durasteel walls and just breathing in the smell of oil. The A-Wing was there, all in one piece, still standing proudly on the strong landing gears and covered in a fine layer of dust. It hadn't been touched in awhile, but at least it didn't look like it had just been sitting there for the last four years either.
He pushed off the door and stepped forward in a daze, gently reaching up and rubbing the dirt away on a white panel. “Hey.” His voice softly reverberated through the building. There was a part of him that always felt stupid whenever he started talking to the ship, but a much larger part that always felt at ease about it. “I'm back. I came home.” Poe began to walk along the side of the ship, dragging his hand as he went, creating a line of white against the tan. “Not a minute too soon, either. I've let it get filthy. I bet the engines are wailing for attention.”
But if he stayed out there too long, Kes would assume that he was out there pouting and probably send Finn to get him. And if there was one person in the universe that Poe did not want in this building-
“I'll do a full check up soon, okay?” he sighed, lowering himself to the ground to lean against the landing gear, “When I finally get a minute, I mean. Time always seems to be the problem lately.” Poe huffed, dragging a hand through his hair in an attempt to get the ghost of Finn's touch off of him. “Everything seems to be my problem lately...”
He understood growing up over the years, acting like a civilized person of society and all that, but he didn't understand what Finn expected of him. Well, he got that he shouldn't lie to the doctor and the other man being sick of his recent come-on's to him, but he didn't get the spark of anger or why it made him feel like complete shit. He especially didn't know how Finn knew he was lying in the first place.
Poe snorted. “Maybe he's a Jedi,” he mused aloud. “Would explain why Leia likes him so much... Explains why everyone likes him so much, I guess...” It would make a sick sort of sense if there happened to be any Jedi left. Or maybe-... “Or maybe he really does know me that well... Dammit.”
Which that made less sense. Other than the way he had woken up, nothing about Finn screamed buddies. But Kes did say he brought the other man home with him from time to time. Which really didn't make any damn sense. Sure, he had a sweet body, but just- Poe could not see himself with someone like that. Poe could not see himself giving Finn the time of day, even with the promise of a one night stand considering his personality, much less bringing him back to meet his own damned father.
Or maybe Poe really had grown to be more professional. Maybe bringing Finn out to Yavin IV was strictly business. Kes had worked directly with Han Solo during the Rebellion, so surely he knew things about their old missions that could be pertinent to the Resistance. Maybe Finn had been sent to Yavin IV to ask him Top Secret Bullshit that was above Poe's pay grade. Now that made sense.
Except for the way he had woken up. Or how easily Finn could read the pilot.
“I'm getting a headache just thinking about it,” he grumbled, rubbing at one of his temples before glancing up to the A-Wing. “What should I do? Other than hold one of them down and make them tell me. I'm pretty sure that'll just end up with me tied to a bed with no one's company except for Dr. Kzell.”
He waited for a polite amount of time, almost believing an answer would actually present itself. Course, he could almost hear his mom remind him about Kes' old knee injury and how it locked up in a weird way if he ever bumped into something wrong, but, again, he was trying to avoid home arrest. So, short of his dad cursing him out for the next week, he figured the best thing would be to just act like the fucking civilized douchebag his older self apparently claimed to be. Civilized douchebags didn't hold grudges or act like an ass to people even if they were being treated that way. He groaned at the thought of having to be the bigger man about this, though. There weren't enough words in Basic to describe how dearly he did not like Finn.
But that was a bad way of putting it. Poe wasn't really sure if he didn't like Finn, but he sure as hell knew how he felt around the guy. Whenever Finn ignored or made efforts to not look at him or pretended he didn't exist or greeted him as soon as he woke in the medbay and then proceeded to avoid him at all costs- Whenever Finn did that shit, a bubble of confusion and hurt and anger welled in his chest. He didn't remember anything. Didn't Finn understand that? He didn't remember anything. How could Finn just go on with his life and act like that? Like he never knew him or never liked him or been to his home or took a picture with him or any of it? Poe didn't remember, but the shit was pretty fucking clear!
And it hurt! Why did it hurt!?
“The bigger man,” Poe spat, scrubbing one hand over his face again (a new habit as of late). “Don't see why I should even waste my damn breath.” But he had to. If any of them were to survive the next two or so weeks, he had to at least be able to say he tried. A real, decent, honest try.
Poe took a deep breath. “Okay.” He stood, dusted himself off, clapped his hands together, and made for the door. “Okay.”
As soon he was outside, door falling shut behind him, Poe's resolve had already began to crumble. Finn was going to stare at him for about two seconds before turning and walking away, but dammit he was going to do this. And if Finn did walk away, then he could say he tried and was totally justified for breaking his nose. (Trying to break his nose. He remembered the other man's shoulder span quite well, thank you.)
Poe was walking into the barn before he knew it, any attempt at backing out of this officially gone as he looked around for Finn. He caught hushed murmurs from the back stall and made his way over.
The nerf – very pregnant, poor thing – made a huff at the new arrival but was too busy lying on her side to do anything else about him. Finn, who had just finished kicking a little more fresh hay towards her head, froze at the sight of Poe.
As for the pilot- “You know, this actually does make you a nerf herder.” Fuck. Fuck, dammit, fuck, shit. Poe snapped his fingers. “That is not what I came her to say.”
“Poe,” the other sighed. Finn's shoulders sagged and he ran the back of his hand over his forehead. He looked out of the wide open doors facing the rest of the pasture, where a few more heads in the meadow and through the thick trees could be spotted, before facing him again. “I'm sorry about earlier.”
He blinked. After fully expecting an accusing why are you here or an angry I don't have time for this or maybe just a roll of his eyes and a shove in the chest, he hadn't expected that. “Huh?”
“At the doctor's office,” Finn answered, picking around the eating nerf and grabbing a rag from the end of the stall to scrub at his hands with. “I shouldn't have touched you like that- manhandled you like that. I'm sorry. That was wrong.” He finished with a shake of his head, staring at his dirty hands.
Poe had to look back the way he came in case his body was lying in the grass somewhere, having passed out and not actually made it into the barn. With no body to be found and no cameras having revealed themselves yet, Poe turned back to find Finn scowling and looking at the pasture. “It's-... Apology accepted?”
Finn's eyes flicked up to meet his for a brief second before nodding, looking back down as he scrubbed over each finger.
He immediately wanted to step away from the situation and reassess everything, but it was too late now. He was here. One of them had apologized already. “I'm, uh-” Poe stuffed his hands in his back pockets, looking anywhere else but at the other man. “I'm sorry if I, uh- Well. I mean, I'm sorry for, you know, making shit more difficult than it had to be. I'm sorry for being an ass. To you. I'm sorry for- You know. Yeah. I'm an asshole.”
“It's okay, Poe.”
His mind blanked out, screeching to a halt, vacating all premises and leaving behind nothing but scattered chairs and dirty dishes. Finn was staring down at his hands, that sad and disappointed frown thing back on his face again, and Poe had to check back one more time to see if his body was maybe lying somewhere further away than he initially checked.
It wasn't. “I-... Huh?”
Finn shrugged. “I get it. I mean, I haven't been the most supportive person in the galaxy lately. And I know you're scared and pissed off at everything and- I don't know.” He sighed, tossing the rag down to the hay covered dirt. “I don't know what I'm saying. But you're going through enough right now and-”
“What the fuck are you talking about?”
The other man snapped his jaw shut, stuffed his hands in the leather bomber jacket, and shrugged, now staring at the opposite wall.
What. What? “No. No, okay. No. I was being an asshole, and that's not cool, and I'm sorry for acting like that. You didn't want to come here. I know you have like a billion and one things to do back at base, and I've just been making shit worse-”
“You're not making-”
“Yes, I am, dammit! Would you just let me finish?” He tugged a hand through his hair again. “Why am I even defending you? No, wait, I didn't say that. Forget I said that. Look.” Poe huffed a deep breath, trying really hard to collect his thoughts into a tiny little bowl and dump it out of his mouth. “I'm sorry for being an ass. If we can, I'd like all this shit to start over so we can at least give my dad some peace of mind when he's stuck between us, okay?”
Finn stared up at him as Poe's words echoed around them, the only noise coming from the huffing of the nerf as she ate her hay. After what felt like too long of a time, the other man licked his lips in thought and nodded. “Okay... Apology accepted.”
… Okay. “Okay.”
“Okay.” Finn ducked his head, a little smile lighting up his face.
Poe blinked. “O-Okay.” He cleared his throat, backing slowly out the way he came. “I'll, um, see you at dinner.”
Finn looked up at him, his smile twitching a little wider. “Okay.”
Before he could trip on anything, the pilot turned and very nearly ran out of the barn, trying to power walk as quickly as he could towards the back porch of the house flooded in the red light hanging over the door. He stopped half way, weaving over to the tree his parents planted years ago that they both claimed had been in tune with the force. He stopped and looked up at it, asking quietly and with passion, “What the fuck?”
A breeze swept through the leaves in answer... Poe turned and made a bee line for the back door.
A little bit longer of a chapter, so yay!
A couple of you mentioned the uncomfortable tone of Poe basically harassing Finn with his advances. Good yet slightly spoiler-y news! This chapter should be the last of that (though not the last of everything else). You'll be proud to know that I had planned it this way from the get-go, but now that I know that it really bothered a few of you, I added it to the tags (with a few other things). Secondly, bring me all the speculation of what is in The Drawer (TM). It's going to be a little while before the reveal, lol.
The next chapter might be a little late in coming. I have a oneshot I wanna do, and I'm sure school is gonna jump out of the bushes when I least expect it, but I will be writing like the wind, I promise.
Thanks to everyone so much for the reviews and kudos and things!
This is why we're rated E now. Yes, you're still reading the same fic. No, you didn't skip a chapter.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Poe moaned in delight, so happy to finally be filled to the extent that he'd been dreaming of for the past three weeks. “More... More,” he panted, eyes screwed shut, losing himself on that edge. There was grumbling, a protest. “Faster, please. Gods. Just- Move. Please, move. Please- Ah, yes. Like that. Like- Yes, baby. Yes.”
The slide in and out was smooth and rough and hard and fast, and Poe whimpered with his face pressed against some pillows. It had been so long, the mission taking double the time to finish than originally planned, and he felt absolutely insatiable with lust and love and want and need.
His fingers curled tightly into the sheets, mouth slack and shaped into a silent Oh, pleasure practically overrunning him. Not many knew how or were even able to take him so completely apart, but- A warm hand pressed into his back, right between the shoulder blades, punching a sigh out of him as it traveled firmly to his neck and spilling over into his hair. He ducked his head, letting the hand pull him back, right on the cusp between pleasure and pain that made his body fucking sing. Another arm moved across his chest, both supporting him up and holding him down at the same time, and fuck-
His back was going to be a bitch in the morning, but the angle changed, the thrusts were harder, and he was- “Ah, yes! Baby, yes! Right there! Please! Please!” He didn't care who could hear them. He wanted them to hear it. He wanted them to know how well he'd been fucked, wanted them to know how good he had it, wanted everyone to know that he'd found it, that he'd made it, that he had everything- “Yes! Yes! Ye- Ahh!”
Poe groaned into the pillows, his eyes opening wide to see him, to see anything, sensory overload being taken to whole new level- And was promptly shocked to find that this wasn't his bunk.
With a gasp and a hand thrown behind him, Poe levered himself higher to get a look around, quickly noticing that he was alone. And this wasn't his bunk on D'Qar. This was Yavin IV. He was alone in his old room back on Yavin IV. Poe fell back into the sheets face first, suddenly jolting with another gasp. Correction: Along with everything else, he was also harder than he'd ever been in recent memory. With a far less pleasurable grumble, he adjusted until he was on his side, letting out a long breath and beginning to assess the situation.
He hadn't had a dream like that in forever. Or had he never had a dream like that? Either way, holy hell, that was both amazing and terrible. Poe briefly considered taking care of the very present and persistent problem going on down below, but was just shy of moving forward in case anyone decided to walk right in to wake him up or check on him. Because if anything had been proven in the last few days, it was that no one actually considered him to have the responsible capacity of an eight year-old. He could stay there and wait it out or make a mad dash for the 'fresher and a cold shower.
Poe huffed at the options, none of them sounding nearly as fun as going back to sleep and revisiting the mystery man with lovely hands and a lovelier dick. Though he'd felt something much more than just the utter joy of getting his hair pulled – and, also, by the way, when had that become a thing for him? But there had been just this wonderful sense of belonging and compassion and trust. It had been just as heady as the hard fucking, if not more so.
He hummed to himself, realizing that his eyes had closed back at some point, figuring that he either gained a very great imagination in the last four years or someone had fucked him very well at some point.
Oh. Shit. What?
His eyes popped open again, too afraid to move. Could that have been more than just a lucid dream? Could it have been a memory? Could that have somehow actually have happened to him?
Poe tried to think back on what he remembered of the dream, it already fading fast. He couldn't recall who his partner had been, but he remembered the feelings he felt for them. He had expected his bunk on D'Qar but he hadn't actually seen much of it in the dream, only being able to mostly feel and hear things. And no, he couldn't recall his partners voice either, not even little moans or grunts. He remembered their hands. A man. It had to be a man, not a woman with a strap on or something. Or maybe not... Was there even a condom involved? Fuck, he couldn't grab onto it. His hands cradled either side of his head, leaning further onto his back, racking his brain for anything. All he could think about was being split wide open and the hands in his hair and the quick pounding dead on his prostate-
His dick twitched at the thought, eliciting a sharp hiss out of him.
Fuck, dammit, fuck, fuck- Poe kicked the blankets off, opting for the 'fresher and a slightly warm shower just so his mind could maybe function a little bit if this was over and done with.
There was no one in the hall to stop him, so Poe's feet made a quick drumbeat across the floor until he was safely locked in the 'fresher, tugging at his clothes and getting tangled up in fabrics in an effort to just get it off! Off, off, off, off!
It probably took all of two minutes to get into the shower and less than that for his hand to make quick work of the issue, an extremely paltry offering when compared to what he very nearly had with mystery dream man. He grunted once, eyes clenched shut and teeth bared, spilling over himself, then taking that first dizzying breath in that settled him back in reality. “I'm going crazy,” he told the shower head before knocking his forehead against the tiles a few times. “I'm crazy. I'm crazy. I'm crazy.”
Despite the details of said dream, Poe was still eager to share the knowledge that he may be getting some memories back. In an irregular and odd manner. That left him a total mess in the mornings. And also he was going to lock his door at night from then on.
But despite all that, he still found himself tromping through the house on a quest to find his father and tell him (a small part of) the news. Instead, he found R5-A3 sitting like a lump in the kitchen, staring out of the back screen door. The old droid, at least ever since Shara had passed, enjoyed just sitting in one place and looking at nothing for copious amounts of time. Kes originally thought it was something wrong with his hard wiring, but it seemed to be just something that he enjoyed to do, perhaps a way to cope about not being in the air with his pilot anymore.
“Hey, A3,” Poe greeted cheerily, tapping a finger against the droid's outer casing. The astromech hummed a greeting back, still watching the back yard. “You know where dad is?”
<Sir-Kes and BB-8 have gone back into town this morning> he rumbled out <presumably to visit with Madam-Miri. I have heard she is quite worried about you, Young-Sir.>
The words Madam-Miri and worried sat about as well with Poe as the fact that his dad apparently went out to go see her. He swallowed, trying to keep a reign on his overactive imagination, especially after that dream. Still, he couldn't help shifting a bit. “You know when he'll be back?”
<Quite soon, I imagine. He left before daylight with the intention of getting back before you woke.> There was a pause, a deep rattle, then: <Not to say he was keeping any secrets, mind.>
“No, no. It's cool. I get it.” Poe rubbed at his left eye until he could see a burst of white and decided that maybe gouging his eyes out wasn't the best coping skill.
<If you are in need of another human's assistance, the Young-Companion is out feeding the livestock this morning.>
“The who-now?” he asked with a deep sigh, leaning enough to also see out of the back door and towards the fenced in pasture. Quickly, his vision narrowed in on the Young-Companion who was currently hauling buckets of feed over the fence towards a hungry crowd of nerf. “Finn?” Poe perked up, skirting around the droid to get outside. “Yeah, he'll work!” Literally anyone would work, honestly.
In his excitement to get the news out of his mouth, Poe was more than halfway there and already noticed by the other man inside the pasture when he realized he was running. Actually fucking running to Finn. Who would have thought? But he couldn't focus on his pride at the moment. Too much shit was happening and maybe everything was about to start making a little bit more sense soon. So Poe went with it, climbing two of the rungs on the gate and letting his torso lean over the edge. “I had a dream!”
Finn, who didn't look nearly as thrilled as he should be (the bastard), blinked back at him with a face filled with confusion. “That's... really great, Poe.”
“No, no, no.” Ugh. “I had a dream. But I think it was a memory. I think I dreamed a memory. I think it was a flashback. I think I remembered something.” He waved his hands around his head for a millisecond before losing his balance and gripping the gate again to right himself.
Finn, on the other hand, had dropped his bucket, mouth gaping up at Poe until it turned into the most brilliant smile Poe was fairly sure the other man was not entirely capable of. “That's amazing! That's- That's incredible, Poe!” And he really looked genuinely excited, too. “What was it? What did you remember?”
It was one thing to decide not to tell people but it was another for them to actually just come out and ask. He felt his cheeks and neck burn and it wasn't the sun or the humidity's fault. “It was-... Well, uh, it was-...”
“Embarrassing?” the other chuckled in a teasing manner and, okay, there were just too many crazy things happening in one day.
Still, he firmly corrected the statement, feeling his ears heat up, too. “Private. It was private.”
“Privately embarrassing?” Finn asked with a smirk.
Kind of, but Poe rolled his eyes and made an exasperated groan all the same. “Whatever. The point is that I'm pretty fairly certain that it wasn't just a dream and that I'm almost kinda sure that I'm starting to get my memories back maybe sorta.”
The laugh that came out of Finn, the deep and pleasant bark straight out of his chest, had Poe's mind going blank. He recalled suddenly that, oh yeah, Finn was a pretty attractive man and the sound of his laugh, when actually heard by someone, was a pretty charming aspect in his favor. He liked that laugh, Poe thought with a smile. He liked that they moved on enough so that he could hear it a time or two. “I'm not that funny, buddy.”
“You kinda are,” Finn answered with a final chuckle, wiping at the sweat on his brow with a smile. “I really am happy for you, though. You don't even know.”
He could certainly see why. It would do them both some good to get back to work. “And when the doc clears me of the concussion, we can finally get out of here.”
“Speak for yourself,” the other grunted, picking up the bucket of feed again. “I'm finally starting to enjoy my vacation.”
“I thought this was your mission.”
“Let's be real, man. BB-8's taking this way more seriously than I am. I might as well be lounging on a resort planet right now.”
Poe groaned, very easily remembering his own droid's insistence that he eat all of the vegetables on his plate the evening before, going so far as to threaten him with the taser. “He's definitely going above and beyond,” he answered, climbing the last few rungs until he could sit on top of the gate. “Last night, he tried to play a lullaby until I fell asleep but the longer it took me to nod off, the louder he'd turn the damn music. I had to literally kick him out.”
“Oh, I know,” Finn laughed, pouring the feed into the hungry nerfs' trough. “He woke me up and told me all about it. I think his exact words were something along the lines of, If he doesn't want to fall asleep to my selected stylings then perhaps he should sleep outside with the rest of the herd. I had to manually shut him down before he took your door out.”
Poe laughed, too, suddenly realizing that this is the most they've ever spoken to one another since he'd woken up back on base, finding that he enjoyed the conversation. And it was so easy, too. Perhaps they really had gotten along well before. It was almost insane seeing as how the last few days had been. But it was confusing, too. Whatever was going on in Finn's head about where they stood, it certainly wasn't all that clear. And maybe he forgave the other man for whatever was going on but he couldn't forget it either. There was a cautiousness to be had, a fear that as soon as he fully put his guard down, Finn would metaphorically ditch him just like before. Granted, maybe he had deserved that, but-
Ah, whatever. Either way, they were kind of trying to start fresh, and Poe resolved to enjoy their companionship while it lasted. Which included not ruining it by being an ass and holding grudges and acting as immature as possible. And flirting. Finn didn't like flirting.
But why would he even want to flirt? Yeah, Finn looked good, but if that dream really was a memory, then there was someone out there who made Poe feel... something. Something different.
His thoughts were derailed by a nerf huffing at Finn in the face, nearly knocking him back on his ass in surprise. “What? You want hay, too?” he muttered, using his shirt to wipe away anything on his face and head that could have been left behind and oh holy mother- Any existence of that someone completely fell out of Poe's head when he caught sight of those abs, holy shit, and the cut of his hip bones and the dark skin stretching over hard muscle- Poe swallowed, so so very thankful that Finn let his shirt fall back, completely unaware of the oogling going on in his direction. “Yeah, yeah, I'll get you some,” he murmured to the nerf nudging at his hand, and if he could just stop talking to the livestock for a minute then that would really save Poe's heart rate.
Conversation. He needed conversation. He needed it like blood and air, but fuck if he could think of anything in the moment.
Finn tossed the bucket aside, turning towards the pile of hay and taking off his shirt in one swift motion, draping it gently over the fence and- Okay. No. No! This wasn't fair. He was well aware that Poe was gay and attracted to him. He was well aware that they had only just yesterday apologized and vowed to not continue the bullshit and yet- And yet-
And yet Finn seemed totally unfazed, like this was a completely normal and totally okay thing to do. And it was, certainly. It was more than warm enough and Finn was working. He had every right to take his shirt off in the privacy of Poe's backyard, because they were buddies, right? Buddies? Buddies didn't oogle buddies. Buddies didn't stare at their buddy's abs like a tractor beam. Buddies didn't-
Poe chocked, the breath catching in his throat. “Holy shit!”
Buddies especially didn't scream profanity at their buddy's scars on their backs, even if said pale scar ran a wide, jagged line from somewhere below their waistband to the upper edge of their shoulder, right across the spine in a way that should not have been possible.
Finn stopped gathering up the hay, circling back towards Poe quickly at the outburst, somehow totally confused and alert. When the pilot made no movement, kind of a little fucking horrified, Finn blinked and suddenly seemed to realize the problem. “Oh! Is it my back? It totally forgot about that.”
“You forgot? I'm the one forgetting shit!” But, no. No, no. No immaturity. No being an ass. Poe ran his hands down his face. “Sorry! Sorry. I'm sorry. I didn't expect it. I freaked out. I'm sorry. I just- I'm sorry- How are you alive?”
Finn laughed, though. Why he was laughing, Poe had no clue, but at least he wasn't too offended by the reaction. “Bacta,” he answered. “A whole lot of bacta. I had a good supplier. Plus a ridiculously long recovery period, but I'm fine.”
“Yeah,” Finn chuckled, rotating one of his shoulders as if to prove it. “I mean, it knots up sometimes if I don't stretch enough of something, but I'm good. No assistance needed.”
“Holy fuck, Finn,” Poe breathed out in awe. “You're incredible.”
The laugh that greeted him that time was something shy if not even more charming. “No, I'm not,” Finn said, getting back to his task of bringing the nerf more hay. “Just stubborn and lucky.”
Poe was fairly certain he couldn't have survived something like that, but kept his mouth shut on that particular topic all the same. Maybe Finn was right. Either way, trying to put his amazing existence in his head may somehow make the recovery seem like lesser of a feat, and Poe wasn't about to do that by any means.
Still, curiosity eating him alive, Dameron swallowed and tried to lean back on the gate, attempting to be the picture of nonchalance. “So... how'd you get it?”
“Hmm?” Finn looked back at him, seemed to think for a moment, and smirked. “Got in a lightsaber fight with a Sith Lord.”
Poe properly groaned and rolled his eyes that time, losing his cool and just letting out a smile. “Fine, hotshot. Don't tell me. I'll remember eventually... I bet it was embarrassing.”
Finn laughed, turning away from him again. “Who says you knew before?”
“Oh, I get it. It was privately embarrassing. Sure.”
The other man snorted in his laughter, nearly making Poe fall right off the gate in shock and delight, before the sound of an engine from beyond the house caught both of their attentions. “Oh, thank the Force,” Finn sighed, his broad shoulders still shaking, his grin still splitting from ear to ear. “Your dad's finally back. Now you can go bother him with all of your privately embarrassing bullshit.”
Swinging his legs over the gate to go do just that, Poe replied over his shoulder, “You like my bullshit.” Finn's laugh followed him halfway back to the house and seemed to hang around in his thoughts for awhile more.
I'm going to be busy all day tomorrow and probably Sunday, so I thought I'd pump this thing out here and now. Don't know if I should apologize about the Suddenly Sex scene, but there you go, regardless.
Also, I just realized this is only chapter 8. We have so much more to go through, oh lord. I think there's going to be about 15-20 chapters in all, assuming I don't come up with anything else between now and then. And I started this as a little fic, too, like maybe 5 chapters or so. HA! Joke's on me!
But anyway. Thank you guys for the patience of me getting these chapters out whenever I have time, thank you for enjoying the fic, thank you for the comments and kudos, thank you for reading, and just thanks for being here with me. I love you, guys. ♥
I'm back. I'm dead inside after the biggest national shift since 9/11, but I'm back. So do we start calling each other comrade now or do we have to wait for February?
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Instead of jogging around the house, Poe figured that his dad had already gone inside, so he quickly tore through the back door where R5-A3 was now absent. Sure enough, Kes Dameron had just passed over the threshold still in jacket and boots.
Poe ignored the entire reason his father left in the first place and excitedly ran over to him. “I've got something to share!” he happily and mockingly yelled.
“Oh good,” Kes answered, decidedly less excited, “cause I do, too.”
“Me, first! Me, first!” The Resistance Commander hopped in place, big eyes hopeful. “I think I remembered something, and I'm getting along with Finn, and he actually talked to me! We had a conversation and everything!”
“You remembered something?” Finally looking appropriately alarmed, Kes ignored the rest of the excitement to focus on the first thing. “What did you remember?”
Poe stopped hopping and paused. “... It's private.”
His father let out a sigh, a sudden tired glaze falling over his eyes in understanding. “I didn't need to know that, son.”
“I just told you it's private!”
“And now you're blushing,” Kes groaned, pinching the bridge of his nose. “At least tell me you got in a shower this morning.”
“Of course, I-!”
His father suddenly seemed to jerk to life. “Wait, you told Finn?”
“No!” His dad's guffaw of a laugh drowned out his answer. “I didn't tell him that, I was just excited-” Kes doubled over, laughing harder. “Dad! It wasn't like that!” Poe could feel the heat radiating from his face not unlike the nearby star. If it wasn't for the damn content of his memory or wet dream or wishful thinking or whatever it was, then he'd be able to bask in this small achievement. Unfortunately, no one seemed to want to let him live it down. “Whatever! That's fine! We all know now! Everything's great. What's your news?”
“Oh, uh-” Kes chuckled a bit more before coughing into his hand and trying to sober a little. “Right, uh. It's about Miri.”
Oh, shit. Of course it is. Poe was so happy for a moment that he failed to see the blaster in front of his face... Okay, maybe too dark of a metaphor, but this was a strange subject for him. What was his dad going to say this time? Marriage? Children? Abandonment? “What about her?”
His father bit his lip, a nervous tick that had passed on to the next generation. “I'll rephrase. It's not about Miri. It is Miri.”
Poe's eyes widened. “She's outside.”
“Force, Dad! Seriously!?” Maybe he was trying to be more mature around Finn, but all thought of being a better man was suddenly gone when it came to his maternal insecurities. Never mind the fact that he was not ready for this. Poe nervously combed his hands through his hair.
Kes, credit to him, raised his hands in surrender. “She doesn't have to stay, kid. I just want you to meet her. She's worried about you. I'm sorry that I didn't have a chance to warn ya.”
“I don't know her,” Poe gave his rebuttal, but lacked a stronger argument so just repeated himself. “I don't know her. Dad, I don't know her.”
“It's all right, son. Calm down.” With a heavy sigh, his father closed the space between them and put a comforting hand on his shoulder. “If you don't want to do this then just say so and I'll take her back to town, but if you could try to do this then I think we'd all feel a little better.”
His immediate extinct was to go with the first option and maybe hide in the shed where he could continue to pretend this new woman didn't exist – At what point did pretending that become a priority? – but he stopped himself and recalled the conversation he'd had about her not too long ago. He also recalled the conversation with Finn, deciding that he would at the very least try to be a better man, try to be mature about this whole ordeal, try to act like he was the same man everyone else had come to know but was lost in space after a freak encounter. He also tried to remember that this person in front of him was still his dad, who wasn't about to put Poe in a position that he couldn't handle. He licked his lips and let out a slow breath. “Okay...”
Kes perked up, eyes a little wide in shock. Maybe he didn't have to agree so fast. “Really?”
He had said that she was nothing like Shara, so it had to work out fine. “Yeah, really. It's cool. I don't mind.”
“Well, you don't have to lie about it.”
“It's fine.” And he was back to the totally fine thing again. “So long as she doesn't bite-...”
“She doesn't,” Kes reassured him with a hopeful yet worried smile, slinging his arm over his son's shoulders and leading him to the front door. “And you liked her cooking, right? You two could always bond over food.”
“If it comes to that,” Poe grumbled. He had planned to go through a full midlife crisis before going outside, but his father had already opened the door.
A3 and BB-8 were beeping in conversation with a woman leaning against his dad's speeder. She was younger than Kes but not too young, thank the Force. Her graying hair drawn back into dreads that trailed down her back was evidence enough of her age, though her figure didn't really show it. The woman clearly took care of herself, long summer dress like a drape over her body. Her dark skin, not as dark as Finn's but much darker than Poe's, was a striking contrast to her white eyes- Oh dear Maker, was she blind?
Poe came to halt so fast that his dad, who still had an arm around him, nearly walked right off the porch with both of them in tow. The shuffling that ensued drew the woman's attention away from the droids and up to the Dameron men. Miri was definitely looking dead at Poe, who might have been blushing a bit, when she broke into a huge smile that lit up her whole face. So, not blind then. “Poe! I didn't think I would get to see you.”
“You came over here to see me,” was what he lamely mumbled as she approached them with that big smile. He suddenly had the clawing desire to run away, but his legs refused to budge, feeling exactly like he was caught in a tail spin or crash landing. No oxygen in the cockpit, engines on fire, adrenaline pumping, celestial body hurtling towards him, and the only thing going through his mind being shit, mom's gonna be disappointed.
“I know,” she answered with a warm smile, unknowing of his crisis, “but I didn't think you would come out and greet me.” Her voice was strong, accent familiar. She wasn't from Yavin IV, but he couldn't place it. “It is good to see you, Poe. You're looking well. Kes told me you still don't remember anything.”
His father, with a really fucking cheeky grin, slapped Poe on the back right between the shoulder blades. “Just had a memory this morning, it turns out.”
Beat red, Poe shot his father, the man who raised him, the man who taught him nearly everything he knew, a look that promised hell in his very near future.
“That's good!” Miri exclaimed happily, ignoring or not noticing the struggle between the men. “That shows progress. Perhaps it'll all come back soon.” Perhaps. But Poe didn't answer, and Miri didn't let the silence linger long enough that it became awkward. “If there's anything you'd like to ask of me, please, do so. I don't want to startle you if for nothing else than your health.” Blunt. He liked that. “And if there's anything I can do-”
“He liked your plantains.” Force save him! Poe shot his dad another fucking look.
Miri just laughed. “That's not a problem.” Fuck.
Without any regard to Poe's rapidly deteriorating mental state, Kes jerked his head to the door. “Come on in. I'll go get Finn, and we'll have a nice, big, non-awkward breakfast. My treat.”
With another laugh, the woman just answered in a sarcastic, “If you say so, sweetie,” before Kes went back inside.
BB-8 rolled after him, saying something along the lines of a hushed <Don't be a dick> before going through the front door.
R5-A3, on the other hand, stopped beside the woman. <Is there anything I can get for you, Madam-Miri? I'm afraid I'll be quite indisposed while supervising the food preparations.>
“No, A3. I'm okay. Thank you,” she politely smiled with a hand brushing against the top of his head.
The droid rumbled with either happiness or acceptance, one or the other, before making his way up the ramp attached to the porch and into the house, passing Poe by without much acknowledgment. Which was. Totally fine. Super fine.
He turned back to Miri, who was smiling up at him with a look that didn't quite reach her eyes, hands clasped in front of her where the gold rings and bracelets sort of melted into each other. She didn't seem like the vain type, though. Sentimental, maybe... Annnnd, he was staring. In silence. It took a moment before he realized that she was waiting for him to speak first. Shit.
Poe shifted, rubbing a hand over his shoulder, clearing his throat. “I, uh-...” He took a deep breath and slowly let it out with a quiet, “Fuck,” that he hoped she didn't hear.
By her laugh, she did. “It wasn't this awkward last time.”
“I wouldn't know.” Ah, dammit. Poe shifted back to the other leg, clearing his throat again.
“Well, last time-...,” she smiled, approaching the porch and smoothing the dress down on the back of her thighs to take a seat on the edge. “Last time, you were in military dress. I had known Kes for nearly three months before you were able to take leave and we could finally meet. But you showed up to dinner dressed like that- It wasn't awkward, and you didn't intend it to be intimidating. Kes had told me stories of you climbing trees high enough to fall and break your arm, or eating nothing but berries until you made yourself sick, or that time you tried to build your own speeder which apparently didn't turn out well.” No, that- That hadn't turned out well. “And then when he saw you, he greeted you and treated you just like he had talked about in all those stories. He still saw- still sees his little boy in you, and all I could see was a military commander with a charming smile. But you later told me that you only dressed your best with the idea to impress me, so that kind of defeated the purpose.”
Chewing on his lip, unsure of which direction he should go with this, Poe found himself relaxing. When she looked back to him with a little smile, he walked forward and set down beside her. She had said to ask anything. “Why are you telling me that?”
“You didn't know,” Miri shrugged.
That was all well and good but- Poe bit his lip, looking away. “They said that people shouldn't-”
“Kes told me what they said,” she answered in confidence. “There's a difference between keeping something from you for your health and just keeping something from you.”
… In a stroke of luck that even shocked himself, Poe decided that he liked her. “They're keeping a lot from me.”
“I know. I can't say I agree with a lot of the secrets, but Kes had his own arguments. He's worried about overwhelming you right now, unintentionally making things worse if you chose to reject something.” She shrugged again, looking out at the field and the ship that Finn had flown them in on. “But I have faith you'll remember everything regardless. I know you'll be okay.”
“They all keep saying how bad it is,” Poe sighed, pulling his legs up to his chest and resting his heels on the edge of the porch, finding that she was easy to speak to and totally forgetting the reason why she was there at all. “Well, they say it was bad with some good. And everyone's holding their breath for me to remember something. Like they think I'm going to realize I stopped liking cereal at some point and decide to kill someone.”
“Life's a mixed bag, Poe. There were good things, there were bad things-”
“Apparently really bad things. Did he tell you that they gave me anxiety pills?”
“No,” she chuckled, “but trust me. There were really bad things, you know that now. But there were really good things, too. Don't let them make you too afraid to look at your own thoughts.”
Something in the pit of his stomach that he didn't even know was there seemed to ease and unravel, allowing him to take his first full breath of air in recent memory. Poe rested his chin on his knees and looked out at the shuttle. “I think I was in love at some point.”
Her wide grin was easily noticeable from the edge of his vision. “Aren't they worth the bad times? Aren't they worth remembering?”
Maybe. He didn't know who they were, where they were. He didn't know if they were alive, if they hated him. He didn't even know if it was a one night stand or not, if they even cared for him in return. But hell, he'd give nearly anything to find out.
Instead of answering her, Poe smiled to himself, burying his mouth behind his knees. But his head perked up again, and he looked at her. “Are you blind?”
She outright laughed at that. “No. No, it's my eye color.”
“Did I ask you that incredibly rude question last time?”
“No, but I think you asked Kes.”
“More mature but still an idiot,” Poe sighed, looking up at the morning sky tinted a bright orange from the glare of Yavin.
She happily bumped his shoulder, like this conversation wasn't weird at all. “You're far from stupid, Poe. What else do you want to know?”
“What do you think of Finn?”
“He's a nice man, very respectable.”
“So you know him, too. Lovely.”
“You shouldn't drag your feet on asking what you want answered, Poe.”
“Are you hungry? I'm hungry. C'mon, let's go find dad.”
“Wait, wait.” A warm hand rested on his shoulder, settling Poe back to the porch and away from jumping out of this conversation. Her features had suddenly turned serious and sympathetic. “I want us to be honest with each other. I'll make something up to tell your father if you'd like me to leave. There's no hard feelings in the way. I understand the pressure on you right now.”
Well that's the first time someone acknowledged that he was being pressured. In fact, Miri seemed to understand a lot more about his situation than Finn, the doctors, or even Kes seemed to. “What do you do for a living, Miri?”
Not taken aback by the subject change, she gave a tiny smile. “I used to run a shop for herbal medicine before I retired. Before that, I served as a medic in the Rebellion.”
Oh... Dad hadn't told him that. “On the ground?” Poe asked, letting his legs fall over the edge of the porch again.
Miri nodded. “I didn't know your father back then, if that's what you're really asking. I did know Han Solo and Lando Calrissian well enough, and I even caught a glimpse of Luke Skywalker once. Sadly, I've never met General Organa, but you always speak so highly of her.”
Poe allowed himself a little smile before letting out a slow breath. “I don't-” I don't want you to leave. He liked Miri. He liked talking to her. There was something about her that was somehow calming. Perhaps it was the obvious fact that she was not in any way trying to take someone else's place, though his feelings were still mixed about the whole ordeal. “Dad, would really like it if you stayed, Miri.”
She smiled but shook her head. “What would you like?”
He blinked at her, licked his lips, and gave a genuine smile. “I would really like it if you stayed.”
To sum up, he had been kicked out of the kitchen.
The longer version was that he was happy. A memory had come back to him, Finn was being smiley and conversational, and Miri wasn't a monster who existed to devour his childhood. Slowly, one by one, his fears were changing from screaming rathtars to ants. And it was really nice. So maybe he had been a bit excited to get breakfast going and maybe his excitement was better suited away from butcher knives and open flames.
At least, that's what R5-A3 thought.
So Kes had officially taken over, Finn was cleaning up after feeding the cattle, and Poe decided to let his father talk to Miri without him hovering around.
Which was a win-win because he really needed the detox time, so to speak. So much had happened in such a short amount of time, and his mind was reeling with it. Maybe that was just the new him or the concussion, but Poe figured it wouldn't kill him to chill for a second and just think.
He sat on his bed for about half a moment before getting up and pacing the room, energy thrumming through him with no outlet. He didn't know what to focus on first. The dream, Finn, or Miri.
Finn was literally yesterday's news, though. They had made up and things were working themselves out. That was another story.
The dream? He'd probably get another hard on just thinking about it, and that wasn't the best plan of action right now. Poe had tried before to think of details, something that could single out who the mystery man was, how he just knew he was on D'Qar base, but nothing had come to him. Those thoughts led to Miri, how she egged him on to not be afraid of his memories despite what everyone else seemed to think or say.
If only willing the memories into existence was so easy. Yet, he didn't feel anxious or pressured about it. For now, at least. He doubted it would last.
With a deep sigh, he walked over to his bedside table and snatched up the blueprints. Originally, he had taken them to let himself get his mind off of things, but knowing that he was the one to draw them up made this a different business entirely. They were detailed, he remembered, so he had to have spent a long time on them, a lot of focus. Maybe they would lead him somewhere.
Poe unrolled them, spreading them over the table after brushing off the other bits of junk. He tried to smooth them down to just glance at them before breakfast was done, getting a peak at that beautiful sketch of a TIE Fighter. Unfortunately, all he could think about was how insane his drawing skills had gotten. Or that he had lied to Karé at some point, boasting that he had sketched the designs when it had been someone else. That sounded like something he'd do.
Giving in with a huff, Poe reached over to the bookshelf above his bed, grabbing two thick novels in one hand to weigh the edges of the blueprints down. He thunked one novel down on the closest end and began to place the second when he noticed how light it was compared to the first. He glanced at the pages and, without thinking, opened the book.
The inside had been hollowed out, the cuts jagged, oddly shaped, and in the middle sat the dresser key and a blaster pistol.
He snapped the book shut, jumping at Finn's voice before realizing he was still alone. “Yeah?”
“Coming!” he answered and waited.
Silence met him, and Poe let out a shaky breath. He cracked open the book again just to make sure he wasn't hallucinating – he wasn't – before closing the book, nearly throwing it back on the shelf, and allowing himself a second to calm down and put on a cheerful face before leaving the room.
To write this chapter, I thumbed through previous chapters and found so many typos and grammar errors. I am so sorry you had to read through that. I'm not going back to fix them because it truly is a lot, but I'm going to try and be better about it from now on.
I'm also going to try and be better about updating. The world hasn't imploded just yet, so there's still time to write. Thanks, comrades!
Finn had noticed that something was bothering Poe. He didn't say anything, but he had noticed. There were glances in Poe's direction, and they had backtracked to the days of tense silence at some point. Finn actually seemed genuinely concerned, but he hadn't asked, so nothing came up. And no one else noticed. So it was fine.
It was night now. As far as Poe knew, everyone was asleep, including Miri who had stayed due to everyone's insistence.
He could open it now. The house was quiet. Poe was wrapped in the blankets on his bed, the way he had woken up the morning before completely gone from his mind. He glared across the room at the dresser that he could barely see in the low light. He could open it now.
Poe rolled over.
Why was there a blaster with the key? Had he gotten paranoid in the last few years? Was it just more weapons in his dresser? That seemed the likely conclusion, so the big question now was why did he have a locked drawer of weapons in his father's house?
Was he too quick to trust Miri?
He huffed out a long breath, refusing to roll back over just to stare at the dresser some more. While the prospect of digging in there was killing him – practically eating him alive from the sheer curiosity alone – a larger part of him was scared to look. A larger part than that was too stubborn to admit he was scared of a fucking dresser, so Poe was resigned to glaring at a wall.
If he did have more weapons, then why? Did he bring trouble home with him at some point? Was the First Order closer to Yavin IV than anyone let on? Was it actually someone here that was bothering him that much? It had to be Miri, right? Who else would it be? It wasn't his father. That just left the droids. Or Finn. Finn who apparently accompanied Poe back home several times in the past for as of yet undisclosed reasons. Was it a way of keeping his enemies close?
Come to think of it, he didn't really know a lot about Finn.
Poe leaned up enough to look at the door, sitting still in the darkness, light barely filtering in from the hallway.
Why a blaster, though? Wouldn't a knife be more subtle?
He huffed again and fell back into bed, wrapping a pillow around his head this time and willing himself to just go to sleep. Maybe when he woke up this time, he'd just remember and it wouldn't be a problem anymore. So Poe hummed to himself, resolving to continue until he fell asleep.
He stopped humming thirty minutes in and didn't sleep at all that night.
The really shit thing about the whole situation was that when he tried to actively get The Dresser out of his head, something would inevitably remind him of it. It was like a constant throbbing in the back of his brain that had nothing to do with the concussion. Open me, dammit, his dresser called from the bedroom. You found the fucking key. Get it over with, dipshit. Poe groaned.
“You okay, man?”
He jerked, sitting straight up like he'd been shot. “Yeah. I'm good. Why wouldn't I be?”
Finn, still looking unconvinced, had paused at the back door in the middle of pulling on a glove. “You just seem-...” The other man shrugged, obviously struggling to find the right words. “Tense, I guess.”
Kes and Miri had just left for some reason that Poe didn't care to think too hard about. Finn was about to go outside and tend to the cattle, which Poe couldn't help with given his condition and the current heat index. He was about to be left in an empty house with nothing to do except reason with temptation. Yeah, he was tense. “Maybe that's just how people react when they forget the last four years, suddenly realize their dad's dating again, get shipped off base due to an injury they can hardly feel, and be thrown in the absolutely useless category. Does that sound a little fucking tense to you?”
Finn, unmoved, shrugged again. “More so than usual, I mean.”
It irritated Poe. And it really shouldn't, because they had just started getting along. Why did he have to rock the boat as soon as conflict presented itself?
Because Finn's an easy target, his mind instantly supplied. Because Finn's always there and always takes the brunt of whatever Poe has to get out and always shuts him down when it gets too much but allows him to go beyond the boundaries of what most people would accept anyway. Finn just... took it.
But that didn't make it fair.
Despite the short pang of guilt, Poe just groaned again, covered his eyes, and waved his hand. “Just go do your thing, nerf-herder. I've got my own shit to do.”
After a beat, the door opened and closed. A little shell shocked, Poe removed his hand to look around the room and found that he was alone. Wait, Finn listened to him? He groaned louder, cradling his head between his knees, not entirely sure why that was pretty upsetting. Probably because he had a lot more to get out, so this was really for the best... But still. “Fuck. Okay.”
Poe rose from his seat in the kitchen and walked to his room, finding it quiet with sunlight filtering in through the window. Even BB-8 was conveniently gone. It was a perfect opportunity. Even better than the night before.
What if it really was just porn, though? Or maybe it was empty, the thing that was so terribly important already moved to another location. Maybe it was top secret data on the Resistance. Or top secret intel on the First Order. Shit, maybe Poe had been a turn coat for the last four years and all of the evidence was in that drawer!
No, okay, he was just being stupid now.
With a deep breath, Poe pulled down the same book from the shelf and opened it. The small blaster was still inside, fully charged and ready to fire at any moment. Maybe this was just paranoia. Maybe he had a whole survival kit in the drawer. Maybe the new him was way more fucked up than he initially thought. Everyone kept saying it was bad, so- He carefully picked out the key, holding it in his palm. Now or never, he supposed. It was either open it or keep speculating.
Leaving the blaster where it was, Poe placed the book back on the shelf and made his way across the room. Finally, kneeling down in front of the dresser, he took a deep breath. Still didn't help, but whatever.
“It's just porn,” he muttered, shifting in place and fumbling with the key “or hoarded food or ratty clothes or droid parts or- or it's empty. It's empty. I'm just being stupid, and the damn thing has been empty this whole fucking time. It's fine. You're being dramatic, Dameron. You're being stupid.”
Clearing his throat, Poe straightened his shoulders, inserted the key, turned it until he heard a click, and let out a held breath. Maybe it was something good. Maybe it was money.
He opened the fucking drawer... and frowned in confusion.
It was filled practically to the brim with... tiny little wooden rectangular blocks. They were all stained various ways and had little plates on the top, none of them longer than his hand or wider than his palm. Had he been collecting something? He'd never seen something like this before.
One of the blocks on top looked better made than the rest, so he picked that one up to examine it. The first thing he noticed was that it wasn't a block, really. It was a box, which had been sealed along the outside. Flipping it over revealed a small transparisteel base that allowed one to see a little patterned cloth inside. He recognized it as a flag and flipped it over again to see the plate on top, engraved with Muran's name and rank with the Republic Navy's insignia embossed in the corner. The others were made similarly with the only differences being the stained wood, the Resistance logo, and the names.
These were given to Commanders to honor their fallen comrades. These were names of people who had served under him. These were names of people who had died serving under him.
His vision swam, color suddenly bleeding out of the room. His forehead felt like it was trying to split open, like something was trying to escape from his skull. It took his breath away, and struggle as he might, there was no air entering his lungs. He had to get out. He had to run. He had to escape. He had to get out.
But his body wouldn't work. He scrambled, but his arms and legs felt like they were strapped down to the floor, unrelenting in holding him in place, making sure he knew what he did, making sure the knife could sink as deep as it could through the gray matter of his brain, twisting and searching and prodding and digging.
Something was pulled from his grasp, another piece of himself ripped away. Begs gagged in his throat, needing the pieces back, needing to get out get out-
“Look at me!”
His body jerked. His eyes opened.
Finn had a hand gripping each shoulder, an angry look on his face that instantly dissolved around the same second Poe realized what he was seeing. Finn was kneeling in front of him, over him, and Poe's back was pressed against the wall. The room was bathed in gold light again, the air still too stuffy and thick to breathe. It felt like it had been years since he'd been in this room.
Finn's expression melted from anger and into something far more tender, his grip lessening until one hand was gingerly cupping Poe's jaw. “You're okay. It's okay. Just breathe. You're safe.” His voice was even more soothing than his touch, but air still didn't want to come easily. Poe's body was shaking with the effort. “Steady. You're doing perfect. You're doing great, Poe. We're okay.”
He tried his best to take it slow. Five in, five out, just like BB-8 showed him, but it was hard to keep count in his head. Finn wasn't counting. He was rubbing circles on Poe's cheek, making him desperately want to close his eyes and not come back up for air at all, but he tried to gain his bearings instead.
A few realizations came to Poe at once:
- He had just found a drawer filled with dozens of memorial box things dedicated to people who died following his orders.
- The drawer was still open on the other side of the room between himself and Finn.
- Muran's box, no longer in his hand, was next to Finn and placed so that it was intended to be out of sight.
- Finn already knew prior to all of this what was in that drawer.
- Poe was crying.
- Poe was crying in front of Finn.
He ducked his head, bringing his knees up closer to hide behind, burying his face in his hands. Shame flooded him. He didn't want Finn to see him like this. Anyone but Finn. So he tried to ignore his existence, ignore everything, spin himself into as small of a being as possible. He was small. Disgusting. Nothing-
Finn's hand on his back should have felt like fire or needles, but it was warm and firm and gentle and strong. “It's all right, Poe. I've got you.” That should have been even more humiliating, but the words were wrapped in a tone that just felt so safe. And before Poe could break the thought apart, Finn shifted. “I see you've found the memorial you made.” It's not much of a memorial. Letting a few slow gulps of breath in, Poe peaked his head up enough to see Finn looking at Muran's little box. “We should talk about it.”
He swallowed thickly, finding a remnant of his voice. “Talk about what?”
Finn's eyes found his again, and Poe didn't really know how to feel other than vulnerable. “These aren't your fault.”
He wanted to scream. How were these anything but his fault? They died following him. They died listening to him.
Finn must have seen the argument before it could boil to the surface, so he knocked his other hand against Muran's box. “Your team got a distress signal from a transport carrier while you were on patrol. When you guys got there, you defended the remaining vessel and drove back the First Order. When they jumped, his ship got caught in it. There was nothing you could have done.”
“You weren't there,” Poe heard himself say.
“No, but you, Karé, and Iolo all have the same story,” Finn answered, unmoved yet again without a trace of pity in his gaze. “This was the First Order's fault. Not yours.”
When Poe made no answer, Finn inched away, hesitated until he seemed to reassure himself, and left the older man's side to move closer to the dresser. Looking back as if trying to find permission, he slowly began to take the boxes out. Poe desperately wanted him to stop, but didn't voice this need either. He deserved to know, right? He should know. He should see all of it. He should never forget something like that.
When Finn was done – finally done – there were two stacks of boxes. The one on the left had about twenty, at least. The one on the right had five. Finn moved closer, placing them at Poe's feet one by one. “Sam and Jacque were shot down in two separate dog fights, one three years ago and the other about six months ago. Both times the Resistance was outnumbered ten to one, and both times entire civilizations depended on our victory, and we won both. Selene had a computer malfunction from a shock wave caused by the First Order. She couldn't regain control or eject before crashing. Kerry died while off duty in a bar fight that he started. Nickoli disobeyed your direct orders and engaged with a squadron of TIE Fighters while giving away the rest of your squad's position, but he was the only casualty. None of this was because of you.”
Too absorbed in the stories to really notice, Poe's breathing was beginning to find a familiar rhythm again. “I don't remember any of them.”
Poe audibly gulped, his hands shaking again before he could get a grip on himself, and glanced over to the larger pile. “So those are the ones that were because of me?”
“No.” Finn frowned, but not in a disappointing or in a pitying sort of way. He looked at the large pile and let out a deep breath through his nose. “The First Order had a weapon once, not unlike the Death Star. It was either destroy or die with the entire galaxy at stake. These people lost their lives in that battle.”
How could so many causalities come from one fight? How could the First Order build another Death Star within the last four years? “Did we win?”
“Yeah,” Finn smiled. “We won.”
Obviously. Poe was still alive. Of course, they won. Or was that smile for another reason other than to just poke fun at him? It seemed sincere...
With a deep breath – hey, it kind of helped this time – Poe adjusted to his knees, inching a little closer to the boxes. He was still shaking, but so long as Finn ignored it, he was going to ignore it, too. “You knew them?”
“I joined around the time news of the First Order's weapon got out,” he explained, frowning a bit again but not reacting to Poe's movements. “I know of them all, though. The ones I didn't meet, I mean. Heard plenty of stories.”
Poe licked his lip and swallowed thickly again, glancing to Finn with an olive branch of trust and the most vulnerablility he had ever felt in his life. “Tell me about them.”
They went through the boxes for over two hours, laughing about some of the better antics and scowling about some of lesser ones. Occasionally, Poe would interrupt the stories with, “I knew them in the Republic,” or, “that sounds really familiar.” He was told what they had all looked like, where they were from based on the little flags, who they had left behind, about how old they were when they died, what Poe claimed to have thought of them back when he could remember them all.
Finn apologized to him after they were done going through them, saying that Poe once had an orderly system of how the boxes were to be placed in the drawer, but he didn't remember it and hadn't thought of it until just that moment. But Poe really didn't give a fuck and voiced as much.
While they put them back together, one by one, Poe decided that he would leave off trying to figure out how Finn knew so much in favor of trying to get through the rest of his day.
I know the big dresser reveal is finally out, but there's still SO much that's still going to happen. Next chapter is going to be one hell of a doozy.
That said, what did you guys think about the reveal? No one managed to guess what it was, and with good reason. I mean, I've never heard of something like this before. But of course Poe would keep every cheap, intended-to-be-disposable in memoriam piece of every single pilot he lost. Also that panic attack was so widely different from your typical one on purpose. You guys can probably figure out why. (I'm still leaving bread crumbs of little clues for you guys in every chapter, muahahaha.)
Thanks again for reading.
So first my internet was out for like two days straight so I started playing Skyrim again, then when the internet came back on I realized that I had two rough drafts due that week for my final essays. So between existentialism theory in literature, the prospect of the civil rights movements in the 1900's reflecting on modern progressive liberal movements, and destroying Miraak to save all of Tamriel while also learning how to fly on a dragon's back while remaining in an offensive battle position, I'VE BEEN BUSY.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Everything had become... much quieter and much more confusing. It was like the galaxy was shushing itself up just to give him a little time to decompress and think about everything.
Poe decided to try accepting Muran's death. It was a little awkward and didn't really come easily. But it was war, right? People died suddenly all the time. Accepting shit like that was just part of it. It was just so fucking weird, though. It was weird and there were strange emotions there, and Poe was just pretty fucking overwhelmed, okay?
Finn had sort of lead him around for the rest of the day, gave him busy work that wouldn't upset his injuries any. It wasn't tedious but it didn't take his mind off things either. And the other man noticed how quiet Poe had become and didn't say anything, and fuck if Poe was going to try to wrap his head around it.
But Finn was an easier topic. Scarier in some ways. Safer in others. But the man was right there, breathing and everything, so that made it easier.
“You okay, kid?” his dad had asked in a hushed voice once he and Miri had gotten back. Poe had nodded, didn't speak, and spent a few hours out in the shed. The A-Wing didn't help much either. Actually, that was more overwhelming because it was quieter and reminded him of just more death in the galaxy and all the things he hadn't done or hadn't remembered doing and-
Dammit, he needed a drink. Between Finn, BB-8, and his father, the entire moon was probably dry just because of his concussion. So he ate, showered, took the anxiety meds, a put himself to bed, resigned to staring at the ceiling for the next six to eight hours.
It didn't matter if anyone decided to tell him about the past of not. He didn't remember. But there were other things he didn't remember either. Yes, some of it was clearly a priority. Like remembering Muran dying in front of him or joining the Resistance or becoming a Fleet Commander or meeting Miri or the lines of his ex-lover's face. But there were some things people hadn't thought to bring up either. Like when he felt relaxed enough to put on a few extra pounds or why BB-8 knew how to talk someone through a panic attack or why he couldn't sleep at night anymore or when he had started to get such dark and depressing thoughts about himself at random times or how some things said to him or acted around him hurt like a blaster to the chest for no apparent reason. Most people couldn't explain things like that.
The only sounds he could make out was the breeze outside his window and the slow rush of air flowing in and out of his lungs. If only existing was so much easier than this. If only everything wasn't so quiet, leaving him to his thoughts like this. He didn't want to think. He didn't want to speculate. He didn't want to second guess himself or fret about things he had no control over or blame himself for something he didn't cause.
Poe got up, cut the light on, and dug out the blueprints.
He had been trying to make modifications to another ship, as best he could tell. Or just build a whole new ship. Each blueprint only focused on one specific aspect and it was detailed to hell and back. The problem was that he couldn't really put all the pieces together without their endgame around, which was probably the black T-70 on D'Qar. Without it, he could only make a fair amount of speculation.
But he did know a T-70 X-Wing just as well as his mother's A-Wing, that wasn't the problem. It was the obvious modifications he'd done on the starfighter which included but was not limited to the blueprints in his hands. He didn't even know if these modifications were just wishful thinking or had actually been implemented. Hell, maybe he was trying to enhance his whole fleet with these notes.
The A-Wing blueprints brought up too many emotions, so he had set it aside quickly. The blueprints on the T-85 X-Wing was interesting, but not very informative. He knew an X-Wing.
The Z-95 Headhunter had been very interesting, though. These things were old, used back in the Clone Wars, yet Poe himself managed to draw up extremely detailed blueprints on the stupid thing. About its fuel range, no less. He'd never seen one in his life. Prior to four years ago, anyway. So he poured over that for awhile, finding that the Headhunter didn't really have better fuel capacity but better ways to space the fuel out for longer periods of time. He could already see how it would be more useful during a recon mission than a typical X-Wing without leaving the pilot defenseless in case of trouble. It could save them a lot of fuel cells in the long run. What would be even better is to somehow incorporate that into their X-Wings. Which is practically unheard of without gutting the whole thing, surely. But the New Poe seemed to think differently. The blueprint wasn't about switching to Headhunters, it was about taking advantage of their fuel usage and transferring that engineering marvel to something else. And New Poe seemed to think it a completely plausible course of action to take, not crazy at all. As if something like that's ever been done. And didn't immediately explode.
Maybe New Poe isn't as great as everyone thought after all.
Well, of course he isn't great. His damn droid had to beep him through panic attacks once a week. The dude was nuts.
With a much less enthusiastic heart, he moved on to the U-Wing blueprint. Again, he'd never seen a UT-60D, but that hardly meant much anymore, did it? This one was about engine thrust. The U-Wings were pretty bulky things compared to most starfighters, but they had more power in comparison to, say, an A-Wing's speed. On the blueprint, the U-Wing's engine was spread bare before him, showing off all of its intricate entrails, telling him all about how it sacrificed speed for power. What did New Poe plan to do with this, huh? Make an X-Wing that could haul a Star Destroyer through hyperspace? Idiot.
“You all right?”
Poe nearly jumped but didn't have the energy for it. Instead he straightened his spine just a tad and glanced to the door, realizing belatedly that a lot more light was pouring into the room through the windows than he'd last remembered. Perhaps he fell asleep at some point? That would explain why Finn was all dressed and everything, giving him a hard to read expression that Poe suspected was laced with pity. Ugh. “I'm fine,” he answered, going back to the blueprint. Well, more like staring at the page until a certain someone left.
But there were no footsteps. Just silence for a really harsh second where Poe's annoyance spiked a bit. Eventually, Finn responded. “You hungry?”
“I'm fine.” He had already growled the words out before the question hit him, but the answer was the same either way. “Leave me alone, man.”
Footsteps answered him that time, and Poe let out a deep breath through his nose. He felt worse, the whole reason for staying up rushing back to him, annoyed that he was left alone with it again by his own doing no less. No. No, he was done with blaming himself for bullshit. This one was Finn's fault. He came in his space and bothered him. It wasn't Poe's fault. It wasn't his fault.
He dug the palm of his hands into his eyes, trying to bring himself back to the here and now, the task at hand. The U-Wing. Right, the engines. He looked down at the paper, blurry vision slowly coming back into focus.
He had to find out what the New Poe was planning on doing with this engine, how it mattered to anything with the Resistance. Unless he really had been planning to modify it for speed and power, then the power thing must have been a sole asset that was important in some way. Perhaps he was trying to knock together some sort of transport shuttle that could go further and carry more goods. But why would he be worrying about that? Maybe it really was for hauling things but what? That just didn't make sense in the vacuum of space. Or maybe- Maybe he was trying to cobble together something with a powerful thrust that didn't need to go any faster in the long run, just for take off. Maybe it was just something that could break atmo quicker than anything else around. Add that on a lighter craft like an X-Wing and the enemy had hell.
But how the fuck would someone put that on an X-Wing? Again, explosions came to mind. And then the idiot wanted to add superior weapons and an extra fuel bypass to the same ship. It was amazing that the Resistance hadn't put him in front of a firing squad yet. How many people died testing out his stupid ideas?
No. No. Wait.
Poe groaned, rubbing hard at his eyes again, breathing deep in a steady rhythm. It felt like something was pulling on his chest, like a stone had settled there or a void had opened up. Maybe it wasn't new. Maybe he was only just now noticing it.
Something clunked on the desk, and this time he jumped.
Finn was standing next to him and had just put down a bowl of grits with a pad of butter on top next to the unrolled blueprints. The thought had made something in him lift, and he hated it. “I'm not hungry.”
“Then don't eat it.” Finn said simply without any harshness behind it and walked out, leaving him alone with his thoughts and his ships and his food.
The thing that had lifted quickly sunk down again, and Poe cradled his face in his hands. After a moment of slow breathing in and out, he tucked the bowl closer and started eating.
Maybe he needed to sleep. Staring at a piece of paper for an undetermined amount of time while not registering what exactly was on the paper was probably a sign that he needed to sleep. He wasn't sure when his next appointment was with the doctor because he wasn't terribly sure what day it was anymore.
Poe rubbed at his eyes, wondering idly if a shower would help. Hot water probably would, actually. But that would leave him with his thoughts, and there were more than enough distractions around him if he could just bring himself to focus. Caf would be nice, but he didn't really want to leave his room. He didn't want to bump into anyone, talk to anyone, see anyone, have anyone see him, etc. Maybe Finn had told them something, because he had been left alone for a good amount of time now.
Speaking of, Finn had left his room about an hour – eh, maybe two – ago, not coming back for Poe's empty bowl. Not that he expected he would. Or hoped he would. It was just a thought that he might, and Poe didn't care to pin an emotion or solid opinion to it. He just might. It didn't matter enough to dwell on.
But the U-Wing's engines really weren't doing it for him anymore. He'd established that New Poe was fucking nuts, what else was there to know? So he pulled that sheet away and let it drift to the floor, then considered getting up and doing something else just so he could avoid this particular subject.
How did he know the specs of a TIE Fighter?
He remembered speculating that there may be enough First Order material in the drawer to convict New Poe of treason against the Republic, and while that hadn't been true, this really didn't help the theory. It kind of made him sick.
But there could have been any number of things happen. They could have found an abandoned one on a scouting run, or traded for one from a very cunning smuggler, or shot one down gently enough that it hadn't destroyed everything. Or maybe they had stolen the plans from someone else. Or maybe Poe had seen enough parts fly by his cockpit that he eventually put the damn puzzle together.
He'd always wanted to fly one. See what they were really like in that little sphere. Where an X-Wing was like a hornet, TIE Fighters always kind of reminded him of gnats. Annoying little fuckers that never seemed to be where you were swatting, persistent, quick, not a one any different from the next. And this blueprint was focusing on their handling, on how quick they were, on how maneuverable they were. They seemed to be even better than what he had already assumed, not that he'd ever actually seen one in action. Well, New Poe definitely had.
The image of the controls had a rough detail to them, like the artist wasn't too great at drawing but was determined to get it absolutely perfect anyway. It wasn't the stick he was used to nor any sort of wheel. Just two handles made to maneuver each engine separately. Startlingly simple, actually, but still nothing he was used to operating.
But he could imagine it. The initial jolt of speed from the lightness of the starfighter, the bobbing and weaving easily from one position to the next, how quick things could change in a much faster pace than an X-Wing, the metal handles warming in his bare hands-
Can you shoot? The thought came to him, and he blinked by how suddenly it had arrived, but checked on it anyway. It was a two-person cockpit for the pilot and gunner, he found easily. The gunner was at the pilot's back, constantly being thrown around in reverse. But they would make a pair, an easy team.
They used to not be able to recycle oxygen or depressurize. The pilots would wear their own life support systems. But these did all that. He didn't know how he knew, but he did. He could smell it. The scent of artificially clean air that he's smelled millions of times before, the stale humidity, the hint of ammonia. It was as fresh as the Republic's air support systems in the T-85's. It was new. Brand new. It made him wild and scared and ready to do anything.
But Stormtroopers always made him scared. He had cried when his mother showed him an old helmet at one of Yavin IV's Rebel bases when he was little, one of his first memories. It was fresher now, though, like it had just happened, like she had just been there.
He could hear them pacing the halls, their boots clacking against the metal floor in time with one another, walking in pairs of twos, in sets of four or six. The officers' leather boots where a different sound, a squeaky noise that was by far the least comical thing he'd ever heard. And there was another set of boots. A thud like an implosion, something quiet that you felt in your bones-
There was a blaster pressed between his shoulder blades, and he wasn't afraid. No, pressed against his chest, and he was tired. His hands were bound to a chair. No. Shackled together. Loosely. He could break free if he wanted. He shouldn't. Counterproductive. Blow his cover. Ruin everything. Freak out later. Freak out after.
The TIE Fighter was so fast that it could zip from one side of the Finalizer to the next in hardly the space it took him to breathe, which was a while all things considered since he was still wheezing a little. He was worried it was too fast or else they'll miss the shot. He couldn't slow down, honestly didn't really know how, but they couldn't miss the shot.
Why did their officers walk in single file, too? Did you have to be of a certain rank to not have to walk every where you go in file? Or was there just a certain rank of Stormtrooper that allowed them to take their helmets off? Or were they all allowed and most just didn't want to? Why was everyone so uptight? Why was the ship so much bigger on the inside? Who the fuck was funding this?
The 'troopers sometimes paced alone, usually in pairs of two or sets of four to six. They were probably squads together, probably- probably-
How would they kill him? Would they make it a big ordeal? Would everyone be in attendance? Would they record it? Would they shoot him in the back of his head, on his knees? Would they chop his head off with a lightsaber? Or would they lock him in a cell and let him starve? Would they cut off his hands, burn out his eyes, and just let him go? Would they space him? Would they keep him for themselves?
He was shoved to the side. A blast of hot air hit him from the burning console and blaring alarms. No, it was from the hot sun and stinging sand. He felt like he was having a heart attack. His guts felt like they were trying to crawl out of his throat. He was angry and scared and alone. He could scream. He won't cry. He won't break. He already cried. He won't break.
The helmet won't hurt him. See, there's nothing on the inside. It's just a scary old mask. They can't hurt him anymore. They don't exist anymore. You can hold it if you want to. It's not going to bite you, sweetheart. It's just an old helmet.
Finn took off the helmet.
The bowl flew off the desk and the chair fell back as Poe jerked to life, suddenly standing, the world swimming in colors around him. He stumbled back, foot catching on something, falling falling falling
He didn't really remember opening his eyes. All Poe knew was that he was staring at the underside of his bed, trying to breathe. Had he blacked out? Had he feinted? Had he just been laying there in a daze? No one had seemed to come check on him. No one must have been around to hear the commotion. But his thoughts felt so distant right now, that no one being there didn't really register. Instead, he slowly picked himself up enough to sit a little better, drawing in his legs.
He'd remembered something. That was a much stronger memory than they told him it would be like, though. It was... consuming. It didn't just click into place and fade back in. It hit him like a comet. He felt like he'd been hit by a comet.
And he didn't really remember much. A lot of it didn't really make much sense. Except... he'd been on board a First Order ship at some point. As a prisoner. And Finn had- Finn was there.
Why had Finn been there?
He couldn't remember. His head hurt. He didn't want to jump to conclusions. He didn't want to think about the most obvious answer. His head fucking hurt. His brain was trying to scratch out through his forehead.
But Finn was there and he was- Fuck, Poe kind of wished he had the urge to throw up right now. Instead, he stood up on wobbly legs and tried to force his body to stop shaking. He had to find out what was going on, what had happened, what had really happened. And Finn was-
Poe found he didn't really hate Finn all that much. He wanted to crumple to the floor and cry for awhile about it. It hurt. The thought hurt. Seeing him like that hurt. But he couldn't jump to conclusions, he couldn't just assume- But what if it was true?
He couldn't take a deep breath. His ribs hurt if he tried. And the shaking wouldn't stop. But he wasn't weak. He wasn't useless. He wasn't incapable. He wasn't stupid.
Poe grabbed the book off the shelf and tucked the blaster down the back of his waistband, hidden behind his jacket, and left to find Finn.
This is by far not everything I wanted to put out in this chapter. I had every plan to include the oncoming conversation, but it just got a little longer than expected. I know that got a little crazy and fucked up there for a minute, so I'm kinda sorry about that if it was off putting. I know this chapter was very different from the rest of the fic thus far. Either way, I still hope you guys are enjoying it.
Thanks, folks. :)
WARNING sort of. There's a part in here that got more gory/graphic than I meant it to, but it really got my message across, and I didn't want to change it. If that's not your cup of tea, skip the paragraph that starts with “He could make out a figure” towards the end. Thanks!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Kes was running into the house from the front door at the same moment Poe made it to the kitchen. “Kid! Hey!” He looked harried, thick gloves still on his hands, eyes wide with worry. “You okay? BB-8 was with me, and I thought I heard-”
“I'm all right,” Poe answered, realizing that Kes must have heard him fall from somewhere outside the house but not really focusing much on that. He was busy. “Looking for Finn.”
“He's out back-” Before he could finish the words, Poe glanced out of the window over the sink, spying Finn near the barn hauling hay bales, and moved to the door. “What's going on?”
“Nothing,” he answered back and walked outside, closing the door between him and his father. He didn't know how much Kes knew, and he didn't want biased judgment right now. Just the truth.
So he made his way towards the barn, really feeling the distance between it and the house for the first time since he was a kid. Everything always seems bigger when you're a kid. But he was grown man now and the space between them could have been from Yavin IV to the planet they circled for all he felt. He wanted to rehearse what to say, what to ask, how to handle this, but his mind was a panicked blank at the moment.
Either Finn hadn't noticed him or was too busy to look his way. They had gotten small rectangular hay bales from- from somewhere- from wherever his dad got them these days. Finn was loading a few of them into the barn by hand to keep them away from the elements but also to use them quickly, probably in the next day or two. Most went in the loft, Poe knew that much. And the rains were coming soon.
He almost stumbled and walked back into the house. Finn was helping them. He had done nothing so far but try to help Poe.
But the pilot was breathing too hard, too afraid of this development, too scared of what it meant, too confused to make any sound judgment or even just let things be. He couldn't let things be.
About a yard away, Finn acknowledged him enough to glance at him after putting away one of the bales, giving a small smile before doing a double take. His face fell, freezing in place, looking a bit concerned and reaching to take off one of his gloves even though he clearly wasn't done working. “What's wrong?”
Poe stopped walking, keeping steady breaths. He watched Finn peel the glove away from one hand before stalling, going still, and they stared at each other. A part of him very strongly hated how well Finn seemed to know him. Another part didn't mind too much, almost liked it, but paranoia was a bitch.
But he came out here for an answer, and he needed an answer- Poe licked his bottom lip, still trying to steady his breathing. “They captured me.”
Finn's eyes went wide with... fear? Worry? Shame? “You-” When he took a step forward, Poe took one back, and they both stopped again.
“I was on a Star Destroyer.” How did he even know it was Star Destroyer? Because of the TIE Fighter thing? It could have been a base for all he knew. But Finn nodded, stepping back again. “You were there.”
“I was,” Finn's voice was low, almost mumbled, but he looked much more serious now. He had paused, waiting for Poe to continue before realizing that they were both waiting. So the other man settled into a comfortable stance, the concern from earlier flitting away, and answered matter of fact, “That's how we met.”
That really didn't settle Poe's stomach any. “You do undercover work? For the Resistance?”
The confusion from Finn wasn't helping either. “Wha-”
“You were undercover.” Poe was stating it like a fact intentionally. All Finn had to do was agree. The details didn't really matter, he'd remember later, but all Finn had to do was just agree and it would be enough. “The Resistance didn't want me singing, or I had something important, and they sent you in to get me out.”
It was quiet for a moment, longer than just a heartbeat, as if Finn was honestly considering the answer. “No.”
Short. Simple. Poe's jaw locked. “I saw you in 'trooper armor.” Another pause. “You were wearing their helmet.”
“I was,” Finn answered, eyes mixed between seriousness and fretting concern. “I mean, I did. I used to.”
He used to. He used to. Poe swallowed thickly, trying to keep the shaking to a minimum. He used to. He used to wear Stormtrooper armor. He used to fight for the First Order's regime. He used to kill Poe's friends to bring the Empire back. He used to. “Why didn't you tell me?” It came out as a choked, angry whisper, but Finn could hear him. “Why wasn't that the first thing you told me?”
Something flashed across Finn's face, making him look much younger, a little afraid. “I- I didn't-... I'm sorry, Poe. It happened so long ago. I didn't even think about it like that. I'm sorry. You're right. I should have told you.”
But he hadn't. And it couldn't be that he just fucking forgot. Poe didn't believe him. “Do they know? Does my father know?” He brought him to his house. He used to bring this man to his family. Why did he do that? Why the fuck would he do something like that? Had he truly switched sides? Was there something else going on? Had he been manipulated? Was this why he kept his space armed?
“Yes, everyone knows. We told Kes the first time I met him.” Why was he asking him anything? Poe still didn't believe him. Why would his dad let what he affectionately called a fucking bucket head in his home? Finn leaned forward, taking half a step. “Poe, I'm sor-”
Poe brandished the blaster and leveled it at the 'trooper's chest, effectively making him stop the approach.
Finn looked at the blaster warily, face blank with shock, before his throat bobbed in an audible swallow and he dropped the gloves to show his empty palms. Something like acceptance of the situation crossed his face when his eyes darted up to meet Poe's. When neither talked – because the pilot was trying to calm down enough to figure out what the fuck was going on – Finn shakily asked, “What do you want me to do?”
“You can't prove shit to me,” he hissed.
“I know,” Finn replied, just slightly steadier than the pilot felt. “You're in control, Poe. Just tell me what you want me to do about it.”
A bang from the house – the back door slamming open – made him flinch and grip the blaster tighter before Kes' voice reached him. “Poe!”
Finn raised his hand enough to signal for his father to stop, and Poe was too afraid to look away from the 'trooper to make sure he did as told. But no one tackled him to the ground so he must have. Finn locked eyes with him again, still showing his bare hands. “What do you want, Poe?”
He really didn't want to kill Finn. He couldn't express how badly he did not want to kill Finn. What else was there to do with him, though? He was a Stormtrooper. Maybe it had been a long time ago, maybe he honestly had defected from the First Order, but he had once been a Stormtrooper. He couldn't very well stay, and Poe didn't trust him enough to just leave either.
There was so much he was missing, so much he knew that he was missing, and he couldn't make heads or tails of all this without remembering it himself. Everyone had told him this and told him that, but if they thought a former Stormtrooper sleeping under his roof was a minimal thing, what the fuck else were they keeping from him?
“You should go back to the ship,” he finally decided. But it was armed, though. Armed pretty damn well. If Finn just casually decided to start it up, he could take the whole place out in a few seconds. But Poe still had the A-Wing, old yet able. “If I so much as hear an engine, you'll be in pieces. Understand? One of the droids will watch you.” But the droids liked him, that was another thing. Everyone liked Finn.
What the fuck else was he going to do about it? Lock him in the barn? Finn wasn't going in the house and he definitely wasn't going in the fucking shed with his mother's ship. And Poe wanted to trust him. Maker, help him, he wanted to trust him so badly. And his head was fucking killing him.
“Okay.” Finn very slowly edged around enough that he could walk backwards towards the house, keeping his front to Poe like a smart person should. “I'm going to the ship, okay? It's all right.” It really wasn't fucking all right, but he let Finn say it anyway, watching him slowly back away.
Binary gradually got louder until BB-8 was angrily beeping from Poe's heels. He didn't look down to the droid, didn't look away from Finn. <What in the fucking blazes do you think that you are fucking doing!?>
The droid rarely cursed, which was a thought for another time. “Go follow him.”
<You didn't answer me! Friend-Finn hasn't done anything that-!>
“Go. Follow. Him.” He was sick of people liking Finn so fucking much, hissing the words as sharp as he could.
BB-8 cursed at him again but did as told, rushing after the retreating figure. When the droid caught up, Finn paused, lowered his arms, and locked eyes with Poe again. From this distance he couldn't get a read on the other man, so it was kind of a shock when Finn turned his back on him and continued walking around the house.
Poe slowly lowered the weapon as Finn went out of view.
But it was another shock when someone roughly grabbed his elbow with one hand and yanked the blaster from him with another. Shit, he never heard his dad get any closer. Fucking Pathfinders.
“What in the fuck are you doing, son!?” The question was more bellowed than asked, and Poe hadn't seen Kes this angry since- he hadn't seen Kes this angry. “Where the hell did you even get this?”
“It was hidden in my room,” Poe answered quieter but no less upset and pointed at where Finn had been. “Did you know that he was fucking Stormtrooper?”
“Course I fucking know! Half the damn galaxy fucking knows!” To be fair, Poe really didn't think that was actually going to be his answer. “He left them! He left them years ago! Maybe if you figured he should explain his ass first, you wouldn't have had to pull a blaster on someone in my backyard!”
“He was a Stormtrooper! What? Are you senile now? He was one of your damn bucket heads. He was trying to bring the Empire back. He killed my friends!”
“It's not like that.” Kes was boiling with rage and, just a little but enough that Poe could see, fear. He had been scared. He was still a little scared. “The First Order doesn't work like that.”
“Oh, so they're the good guys, now!”
“No!” He was trying to take a breath, trying to steady himself, but Kes seemed to be on the verge of blasting his own damn son at the moment. “You don't know what they're like. You don't know what their troops are like. Maybe you should think before you jump to such fucking conclusions-”
“How should I know!?” Poe exploded, going much higher and louder than he planned, but it felt good. “I don't know anything! No one fucking tells me anything!”
“That's enough! He is not the enemy! He's doing everything he knows to help you.”
“How can that help anyone-!?”
“I said enough!”
What the fuck was happening? His father was taking the Stormtrooper's side, Finn's side- Everyone was always taking Finn's side- “Whatever. Just- Just- Fuck it. I don't-” He did care. He couldn't say that he didn't. He cared a whole fucking lot about whatever the hell was happening.
So he walked away instead, going in the general direction of the shed, thankful that Kes hadn't called him back immediately. His father was always the type to let things breathe after an argument before talking, so escaping from the situation wasn't hard. Though Poe was sure he didn't want to talk about it. He was also sure that Finn would be back in the house before anyone decided they missed either of them.
But closing the creaking doors and curling up underneath the starfighter really didn't make him feel any better for once in his life. In addition to not talking about it, he really didn't want to think about it. About how his father called Finn “son,” how Princess Leia worked Finn like a personal aide, how Finn had helped him the day before by reintroducing him to all of his pilots, how Finn had made him eat just that morning.
He didn't hate him – didn't want to hate him – but he probably should, and he knew it. Well maybe not hate. But resent, certainly. He wanted to resent him. Maybe he could find it in himself to do so, just a little bit, whenever he stopped shaking.
When he did stop, dusk was beginning to consider setting in and all of the hay bales had been put away. When he went inside, Finn wasn't there. But his father was, and they didn't talk. They glared a bit, and Kes clearly wanted to speak, but Poe walked away before he could get a word in.
He was halfway across his room before he realized that everything had been put back together. The chair was right side up again, all of the blueprints he brushed onto the floor were stacked on the desk, and the bowl that had careened across the room was missing.
They must have scoured his room to look for more weapons. Well, fuck them. He had nothing to hide. He literally had nothing to hide, nothing that they didn't already know about, and he suddenly really missed the blaster.
Poe fell into the bed fully clothed. He hadn't slept the night before and knew without a doubt that he wouldn't be able to fall asleep now. He couldn't even relax here anymore. It was a scary thought, honestly. And he still didn't want to talk about it.
So when his eyes began to get heavy, his breath evened out, and his mind began to wander, he still figured that there was no way in hell that he could possibly fall asleep despite everything going on.
Stay calm. Stay calm.
There was a pressure between his shoulder blades that felt suspiciously like the business end of a blaster, yet he was already pretty calm. Well calm wasn't the right word. Steady was a better one. His heart was beating through his ribcage so calm didn't really apply well here. And the cuffs. He hated the cuffs.
He told himself it was because they were useless and obvious. They were unlocked, for pity's sake. Anyone that stopped for two seconds to look at them would see it plain as day.
But it wasn't really that. It didn't matter if they were locked tight or not. He didn't want them there at all. They felt heavy and weighed him down like an anchor. He felt constrained, restricted. They were necessary, sure. But he hated it.
He hadn't always hated them. Used to crack a joke when he was temporarily and inevitably arrested for something or other, the cuffs clacking around his wrists, and he'd wink at his captor who would usually sneer impassively back. Hell, he even did use them in the bedroom once. It was okay, wasn't anything groundbreaking. The other guy seemed to get a lot out of it, but Poe didn't have much of an opinion on them one way or the other.
Now he did. He had a very very strong opinion now.
He tried to recall how he had gotten on this train of thought, why the cuffs felt so heavy on his wrists, dragging him down into unending darkness.
He couldn't recall what they were saying. Just a voice, something familiar, something welcoming yet not. The voice was warm, full of emotion, but it didn't fit in with the darkness and the cuffs.
They were heavy. Made his wrists sore. Made his whole body sore by the weight of them. It was as if they were locked around his wrists, but holding him down across the torso and waist and thighs and neck. His head felt heavy, slow, numb.
He could make out a figure, a face, a head- Lines of gleaming metal spotted in the dim lighting and two black voids where eyes should have been, and a hand with palm outward and fingers reaching towards his face. They slowly reached forward and touched him, but the advance didn't stop and he couldn't pull back. It wasn't like a slow, steady force to build up pressure against him. It was like he was made from wet paper and the hand was a very slow obstruction just passing through, crinkling and tearing through him. The fingers delved through his eyes and others slowly punctured through his skull, and they didn't stop, dragging along the skin and bones straight into his brain, tearing through his mind and flesh, and still didn't stop. Dark blood was pouring down his face and he was screaming and the figure didn't care. No one cared. So he kept screaming.
Another force jerked him forward, but the hand went no deeper. It had finally stopped, but seemed to just settle in place instead of completely removing itself, and slowly began to fade around the edges.
The cuffs were gone. He could move his arms. And something was touching his back, his front, his face. There was a voice, the same voice from before, the warm one. Something was moving through his hair. Something was holding him.
“He's in my head,” he heard himself say, his voice not sounding at all like his own. “I feel him. He's there. He's in my head. I feel him.”
“He's not there, baby. No one's there. You're okay. You're safe. We're all safe. You're okay. I've got you.”
He could make the voice out that time at least, and realized it was attached to a warm, solid body that he was pressed against. His hands ached from clutching something, probably at the person with the voice. And his face was wet – he realized, rubbing it against their shoulder – still wet from the blood. “Finn.” The name just slipped out, holding no association with anything at the moment, but it still felt right.
“I've got you, Poe.” He was being gently rocked in place, the thing petting his hair moving in calm circles. “You're okay. We're safe. It's okay.”
He pressed his face against Finn's neck and stayed there until the galaxy slowly dipped into blackness again.
Sleep was highly overrated. Poe could have rested better if he'd stayed up with blueprints all over again. He didn't feel any better. But, fuck, maybe everyone would back off if he just did one damn thing right.
He could probably use a shower, too. But that was two things, and Poe was a spiteful creature at heart.
Yet he rolled out of bed anyway, deciding that maybe shaving and taking a sonic shower would count for a half. So he'd get the added bonus of not being so itchy while also visibly not giving a fuck what everyone else thought until he couldn't stand it anymore, like a damn brat.
Poe washed his face in the sink, taking just a moment to enjoy the feeling, before looking at himself in the mirror. He hadn't shaved the day before, he suddenly realized, and his face showed it in the overgrowing dark stubble. Or maybe New Poe liked growing his beard out now. Who the fuck knew?
He sighed, glancing down for the shaving cream, when he looked back into the mirror after catching an extra hint of color that wasn't there before. It took a beat, but his eyes found it again, and he tilted his head to the side to see better. Three scratch marks, one longer than the next, sat deep and angry over his left temple as if someone had tried to pry his skull open in the night.
… Where did that come from?
That got slightly more graphic than I thought it would, hence the warning at the beginning. It's probably not a big deal, but better safe than sorry.
And I know a ton of you hate me for how Poe is back to treating Finn like this, so all I can ask is to please not hate me too much. He's being an asshole, and he's confused and hurting and scared, and FINN is like not exactly having the time of his life over here either. Thank God for Kes, honestly. And, no, Poe doesn't remember the night's antics.
But anyway. This one was longer so woo, I suppose. Thanks for still reading!
HEY! So, I'm alive. I'm really sorry about the long wait. But like so much has happened. Finals, mostly. Christmas. And my heart was completely broken with Carrie Fisher's passing, it was a little hard to even look at the fandom for awhile. I'm sure the rest of you understand that.
But all in all, I've been busy and I'm terribly sorry for the long wait. Here you are!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It was a relief and almost a shock to not see Finn when Poe tip-toed through the house. His peek into the living room showed nothing either, so he slowly made his way to the kitchen. And really, he could have just stayed locked in his room with the blueprints and the boxes and the fucking pictures he took from D'Qar, but he'd be damned if someone made him too uncomfortable to walk around in his own home. But Finn did, was the problem. Didn't mean Poe had to act like it.
Entering the kitchen while rubbing his scratch marks, Poe stopped short when he caught sight of his father cooking a small meal, a little afraid of whatever confrontation they could possibly have after the day before, but Kes noticed him before he could retreat. The reaction, however, wasn't the one that was totally expected.
“Hey.” The expression on Kes' face was soft, a little worried, a bit wary. He turned away from the food and gave his son his full attention. “You okay?”
Poe was suddenly adrift in a rush of déjà vu, his mind quickly shifting back to the moment he woke with Finn at his bedside and the entire galaxy tilted on a totally different axis than before. Like going down a staircase and missing a step. Maybe it was nothing, but his gut told him that he was lost again, that another handful of years have come and gone without him. “About what?”
“Last night,” Kes answered, gesturing to his temple. It took a moment before Poe realized he was referring to the marks he'd found on his face. “Scared me to death, kid.”
His dad blinked, a sort of realization coming over him in the breath of that moment. “You don't remember?”
Poe turned and had every single intention of running into his room and barring the door, but got no further than the half a step it took to almost knock over Miri. She didn't look shocked by his sudden evasive maneuver, but her elegant brow creased in worry. “It was just a bad dream, Poe. It's normal to not remember.”
His body relaxed, shoulders falling, but his mind wasn't entirely settled by the idea that he was starting to forget things rather than remember them. But then his dad decided to move in from his other side. “Aw hell, kid. I didn't mean to scare you.”
Poe looked between his dad and Miri. “I woke you up?” They knew about some supposed nightmare, which was bad enough to make him hurt himself, so his pride wasn't exactly through the roof.
“No,” Miri answered bluntly, “It wasn't like that.”
Wasn't like that. Yet everyone seemed to know and get all flustered about it. And the absolute worst part was- Poe blinked, searching around. “Where's Finn?”
“Outside with the herd, I imagine,” Miri answered him again. His father was suddenly and unconvincingly preoccupied with a dish towel. “Do you mind if you and I talk for a moment?”
Honestly, he kind of did. As easy as she was to talk to before, Poe wasn't ready to put on a happy face for anyone at the time being. However, with everyone else out of the question to preoccupy himself with and nothing to do other than stare at a wall and hope Finn didn't kill someone, Poe found he had few other options. Especially with Kes standing right there. “If you want to, sure.”
He didn't think she would bring him outside. Poe sat in the swing on the back porch like she had waved him towards, but he did not for a second let up watching the barn. There was no one there, though. No Stormtrooper or Nerf, which only made his agitation and paranoia spike. He couldn't see anything.
“-your face will stay like that.”
Poe jerked and glanced to Miri. “What?”
“I said,” and she was already sitting next to him, a hint of a smile already gracing her lips without the audacity to actually present itself right now, “that if you keep glaring, your face will stay like that.”
“My face is fine,” he grumbled, looking back out to the barn and making an effort to not glare this time.
And Miri actually laughed at him. “Don't fret, child. He's going to be stuck in there for awhile. He's preparing the area for the monsoon. It's coming in.”
Well, he had noticed the graying clouds... “Surely that's more than a one person job, though.”
“It is,” her frown was evident in her voice this time. “He wanted to do it alone, he said.”
Poe shifted, not even wanting to think about the implications of that. “Did they tell you what happened yesterday?”
“Tell me? Sweetheart, I saw it.”
“Yes. Your home has many windows.”
He shouldn't feel shame for something like that. They were making him feel bad for it, after all. By all rights, he had his own justifications. “I'm, uh-” That didn't mean he had to feel good about it, though. “I'm sorry if I scared you.”
“You didn't. I expected it eventually.” A little stunned, Poe looked over to her, and she just shrugged again. “I told Kes that we should let you know about Finn's past. Tried to reason with him about it. After all, you're not the only soldier in this house. But he was afraid it would be too much of a shock for you, scared of how you'd react to the news. It was his belief that if you remembered on your own, then you would be able to reconcile it in your own way. And I didn't have any evidence to contradict him, so I let it be. We knew it was a big issue, but we didn't realize how big. So I'm sorry about that, especially on my part. I should know better.”
“Hell, it's not your fault.” Poe didn't even know her. At least, he didn't know her before. She's the last one that should be expected to spill the truth to him. “Well-” He scoffed, kicking against the wooden floor to move the swing a bit. “Well, what about Finn? Did you ask him to tell me?”
“I tried to,” she sighed. “He didn't want to talk about it.” That shouldn't be a surprising answer, but Poe sneered at it anyway. “He was raised differently,” she continued. “Where Finn's from, memory loss is a big ordeal.”
Poe gave a depreciating laugh. “It's not exactly a small problem, in my experience.”
“Well, obviously,” she frowned back, unimpressed, “but he's never seen or heard of someone recovering their memories before you. He's not optimistic about your full recovery – meaning he's not really thinking ahead of the current timetable – but he is trying to do everything in his power to follow doctor's orders – which means not telling you anything. I knew going to him about informing you of his background was already not going to go well, so I didn't push him.”
Poe... had never really heard of something like that before. But frowned back anyway. “Are you saying I should feel bad for him? Or grateful even?”
Miri, again, just gave him a concerned look. “Actually, this isn't even what I wanted to speak to you about.”
“The nightmare?” Poe guessed, not pleased with his question being turned around.
“No,” she shook her head. “That's more your business than it is mine. I wanted to tell you about my family.”
“What?” That seemed to come right out of the sky. “Your family? Why?”
“Because you knew before,” she shrugged, answering simply, but seemed to go back over it. “I want to ease your mind, Poe. There's a lot that Kes and Finn can't agree about letting you in on, but I thought when it came to things between you and I, well... it should stay between you and I. What they don't know won't hurt them, but what you don't know clearly has consequences.”
She didn't have to put it like that. “Are you going to tell me you were with the First Order, too?”
“No,” she smiled, like it was funny, like he wasn't serious. “Like I said, I only wanted to ease you, and I'm sure you have questions. But we can talk about something else, if you like.”
A very noble part of him wanted to politely decline her offering. The rest of him was practically overflowing. “You know about my mom, right?”
Apparently, she really thought that was funny. Miri was nice enough to clap a hand over her mouth, but not before his ears turned red in embarrassment. “Yes! Geez, Poe. Of course. Even if I never met your father, what fool in the Rebellion didn't know about the Shara Bey?”
He was probably- most definitely a very strong red color all over now. “I'm sorry! It's just the first thing that came to mind. Sorry.” Like how could he even justify that in his head? Kes had a son with no mother? Sure.
Miri chuckled for a bit, and Poe didn't even begrudge her of it, before she settled down. “I've never met her,” she said with a dancing smile, “but I heard plenty about her. Kes mentioned her many times long before we began seeing each other.”
“Sorry,” Poe said again, scuffing the heel of his boot against the wood. “That was a stupid question.”
“There are no stupid questions, just ones that's funnier than others.” She still smiled, leaning back against the seat and draping an arm behind it to turn towards him. “Anything else?”
Plenty. Everything. But she mentioned family. Poe cleared his throat. “Were you, uh, with someone before? Married before?” Was that too invasive? Was that too obvious?
But she smiled and it wasn't in a condescending way, so he felt it was all right. “Yes, ages ago. We were married nearly five years before his death.”
Oh... Shit. “I'm sorry-”
Miri waved a hand and shook her head. “Like I said, it was so long ago. But he was a kind man, gentle, stronger than even he realized. He passed shortly after the Battle of Endor.”
So it was likely not in combat, but Poe didn't press for the circumstances. “I'm still sorry about it, though.”
“I know you are, but you don't need to be. Besides, my boys kept me company.”
Oh! Poe perked up. “You have kids? I didn't know.”
“Three boys,” she smiled fondly, though it didn't entirely reach her eyes. “The First Order took them all from me.”
Ah, fuck! “Shit, dammit, I'm-”
“Poe, seriously, don't start.” Despite the conversation, she chuckled. “Don't apologize. You helped me plenty when I lost them. Consider this me returning the favor.”
So it wasn't long ago. Fuck. “I didn't mean to- I didn't want- I didn't mean to stumble on to something like- something deep and-”
“It's all right. I wanted to tell you about them, remember?” He took a deep breath, nodded, and she smiled back warmly. “My husband, Ganyo, and I were from Hosnian Prime. Typical children of the old senators and what have you. After his death, my boys stayed close but I could never really sit still. I traveled a lot in my business, taking on a lot of transport jobs and running an entire shop on the side, before I eventually retired. But my boys hardly needed me. The youngest was born a bit before you. They all had families of their own.”
That placed her accent, then. How had he not recognized it before? “I was stationed on Hosnian Prime when I was with the New Republic.”
“I know,” she said, chuckling. “Again, we never met, but it's still quite the coincidence, don't you think? Perhaps it's the Force trying to tell us all something.”
Poe couldn't help but smile a little warily at that, but it didn't last very long. “Can I- The First Order.” And he shouldn't. He really shouldn't. All it would serve to do is add more kindling to his already brightly burning rage and mistrust. “What did they do?”
“What the First Order always does,” she answered grimly, for once. He glanced to the barn but didn't miss her tired sigh. “Don't be like that. He left them. Shouldn't that mean he's the complete opposite of what they are?”
“He joined them in the first place,” Poe sneered again, looking out towards the barn anyway. Sure, he'd been raised in a sort of forgive and forget nature, but this was pushing it.
“Poe, honestly.” Miri almost sounded exasperated for a moment – which just kind of pissed him off as everyone seemed to be that way when it came to Finn – but she continued. “We each know first hand the atrocities of the First Order. Do you really believe that they treated their troops any better? How else would you explain such a massive military?”
“Are you saying-?” Poe frowned deeply, finally looking back at her again. Did she mean Finn had been tricked into joining them? Or conned into it? Did they have leverage over him? Did they threaten something near to him? Honestly-... Honestly, Poe hadn't thought about that. And he squirmed, dreading to admit it, but Miri just patted his knee and the whole thing seemed to dissipate.
“It's understandable, Poe. You didn't know.”
He... kind of felt like, suddenly, that he was being talked down to. He liked the reassurance and someone finally being on his side, but it still somehow felt belittling in a way he couldn't quite grasp. “The fact that I didn't know isn't an excuse. But I don't regret what I did either. I still don't trust him.”
She nodded and, surprisingly, didn't argue. “That's understandable, too. Taking everything in your own time is what's best right now.”
He grimaced, not liking that answer but figuring it was better than everything else. “Do you trust Finn?”
“Yes,” Miri answered quickly enough without a question put to her mind. And she had lost her children to his kind. “Does that mean you don't trust me?”
“I don't know what to think right now,” he muttered, but that really wasn't supposed to be out loud, or at least loud enough to where she could hear. But once it was out, he found that he didn't care all that much. He didn't know what to think. Fuck everyone else. Who could he trust if not his family, the ones hiding things and lying to him? Who could he turn to? Most importantly, he couldn't even rely on himself. This was the first time he ever truly felt like he'd been backed and wedged into a corner. Perhaps this is what it was like when the Republic refused his request.
Somehow, for some incredulous reason, Miri didn't seem offended in the least. “Then may I at least offer some advice to you?” Poe looked up enough to meet her eyes, and she continued. “Sometimes when you would come home, there were a lot of things on your mind. You were wound tighter than a spring but you were never angry or upset, at least not with anyone here. You came home to relax and unwind, but I noticed something that you did then that you don't do now, and I'm starting to believe that this habit began during your missing four years.” Before he could ask her to continue, she shifted in the seat enough to use her hands and point towards the shed. “You would spend copious amounts of time in there with your mother's ship, repairing damaged or old parts, upgrading things you felt were needed, mostly restoring it to its former glory, according to your own words. I couldn't help but notice you aren't out there nearly as much.”
“I-” Poe blinked, then frowned and furrowed his brow. “I used to tinker with it before I joined the Navy. I... didn't realize...”
Miri shrugged again before all of his thoughts could be put together. “I just thought it may help. It seemed to before. And there's no secrets in there, either. Just you and her.”
Poe wasn't sure if she was referring to the A-Wing or his mother, but it was a little emotional for him regardless. He swallowed and blinked a few times, keeping it down. “I'm, um...”
He glanced between the shed and Miri, until she eventually smiled, and patted his shoulder. “Go ahead. I've already talked my fill anyway. Just make sure to actually come back when you're hungry. You used to get so caught up in the work.”
With one last look back to her, he said, “Thank you,” and stood up to leave before he inevitably made a fool of himself.
The couple of times he had seen the ship before didn't clue him in to any work being done to it. Especially with the fine layer of dust coating the poor thing. Even once he began to look for it, it would have been impossible to notice if he hadn't known that particular A-Wing so well.
Miri had used the right words. He had been restoring the starship. Mostly upkeep, from what he could tell. The engines were in incredibly good condition considering the last time it had likely seen the sky, and the hull hardly had any dents or scorch marks in it. Of course, it had some – added character and good stories – but nothing detrimental. The ship was in damn fine condition. Much better condition he thought it was in when he threatened to shoot Finn down with it.
For the near hundredth time, Poe leaned up from where he knelt on the ship's nose – jacket long discarded and hands already stained in oil – to look through a window and at the barn. From his angle, he could only see the top half of the front door and all the way up to the top of the old building, but it was enough of a vantage point. He hadn't seen Finn come or go, but he could have missed it. The thought that the Stormtrooper may enter the shed before Poe realized what was happening crossed his mind, but he somehow wasn't too worried about it. Probably should be, though. Some people didn't take having a blaster pointed in their face too well, and who knew what Kes did with the damn thing.
Poe huffed and looked back down to his work – making sure there were no dangerous malfunctions on the weapons that could backdraft on to the A-Wing itself – and rubbed at his forehead with the back of his hand. He shouldn't be worried and thinking up scenarios. He was out there for the complete opposite reason. “I know you wouldn't lie to me,” he said to the quiet, again wondering if the reference was to the ship or his mother and didn't want to think too hard about it.
Before going back to the work, he decided to look up on more time, but found nothing out the window. He sighed, almost looking away again, before a drop of water slid down the glass, collecting dust and muck as it went. Another joined, then another, and a slow music from the rain began to play all around him until the barn was too blurry to see.
First of all, I'd like to thank all of the Poe-positive comments from last chapter. Not that he was being good last chapter because wow, but I'm really happy you guys understand where he's coming from here. I know Finn's not exactly having a great time, but neither of them are. I'm glad you guys see that.
Second, I'm sorry this chapter doesn't have much to it after waiting so long. More stuff is coming in the next one, I promise.
And lastly, thank you all so much for still being here! I should be able to update again very soon. ♥
You're going to come across something in here that's going to make you think “oh hell no, that's going to be too gross” but I promise it's not going to be that graphic. All gross things will be kept to a minimum because I can't do that either, honestly. But if you wanna skip THE part, then skip the paragraph that says “Poe's done this once before.” You'll have plenty of warning ahead of time to skip that whole section if you so choose to do so.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The entire electrical system needed a complete overhaul, and Poe just didn't have the equipment to deal with that kind of shit. Maybe when the rains calmed down and his ever observant protectors deemed him fit to travel, he could go out to a station and buy everything he needed. Not that the overhaul was totally necessary, but considering that the most action the A-Wing was going to see was from the inside of a shed, it could use it. Without stretching her legs regularly, the poor thing was just going to sit and rot. A5 couldn't fly her, and Poe was pretty sure Kes couldn't fly even if the man had wings sprouting out of his back. It was a sad future for such a great ship, but it wasn't the kind of thing the Resistance wanted in rotation as a donation (unless it came with its own pilot, like L'ulo's) since they were so difficult to learn compared to an X-Wing. This was its only lot in life.
But enough about the fucking depressing thoughts. The point was that the damn thing needed a totally new electrical system and that wasn't about to happen in the near future. The only thing Poe could do for the time being was to prevent the system from getting any worse by replacing the parts that were actually too damaged to work properly. At least he could do that much. Plus his dad could probably sell the scrap wiring if Poe stripped it, so everyone won.
Not that anyone needed to know that Poe was doing electrical work on a ship older than him while he was still occasionally getting headaches from the concussion. Compared to life lately, getting electrocuted didn't seem all that terrible.
He hadn't voiced the idea, but Poe had officially started to feel terrible for holding the 'trooper at gunpoint and regretted the whole thing. Maybe he had every right to suspect the guy of, like, plotting to kill them all in their sleep or whatever, but that was sure a shit way of handling it. At least Miri and A5 seemed to be acting normal. BB-8 was giving him the cold shoulder, Kes fluctuated from concerned to disappointed at the drop of a hat, and Finn-... Poe hadn't seen Finn. What's worse was that he wasn't totally sure why that bothered him.
“Come on, you little fucker...” Due to the humidity and the exposed wiring under the console (Why the fuck did he leave it exposed like that?), a plug had crusted over with rust. The wires from said plug connected to the stick controls and since the exposed plug had rusted, he wasn't hopeful that the wiring had survived. But the plug went into the main dash where everything sort of meshed together in the great hub of wiring before leading to the wing's slats and flats, and the engine's rotating motors. Thank the fucking Maker that none of that was rusted, too. Talk about a fucking nightmare without all of the parts he needed. However, instead of having to get rid of all of it, he only had to get rid of this one little piece... which was covered in rust and didn't feel like moving today.
He had carved and filed at it as best he could, but there was nothing left to do with the little bitch except to pull it out, unless he wanted to cut the perfectly good wiring and he did not, thanks. Which was why he had one foot pressed against the floorboard, another pressed against the dash, and his hands wrapped tight around the coated wires, yanking until his muscles actually bulged from the effort. “Come on, you piece of fucking-” There was movement, giving him an extra inch which he nearly celebrated, until the whole thing decided to finally come loose.
Poe toppled into the small space between the seat and the hull with an oof, really hoping nothing was hurt enough for someone to come and check on him. But he seemed fine and opened his eyes enough to get a good look at the offending wire still gripped tight in his hands. Sure enough, the male ended plug that had been exposed looked rusted to hell and back. With a groan, he tossed it over the side of the ship, barely hearing it hit the ground with the sound of rain all around him. Next order of business was to clean the rusted gunk out from the female ended plug so he could attach the new wiring, but fuck the effort to get up was phenomenal.
In part, he did know why Finn's absence really bothered him. It was mostly because he couldn't apologize to the damn man and let his conscience rest in peace. No, no. The guy had to listen to Poe and totally disappear. And he definitely knew that Finn was around, only that he conveniently came and went when Poe was unaware. It sucked. But even that shouldn't really bother him. After all, he'd apologize whenever the man rose from the ashes and one of two things would happen. Poe would either get decked in the jaw or be politely told that he did nothing wrong before the other left out of his life again.
The problem was less that he was unable to mend things with Finn and more that Finn was just... not there. He was gone, even more so than he had ever seemed before. And that should be fine. But it wasn't. Finn was always looking out for him before, making sure he ate, making sure he told the doctors the truth, making sure he rested, making sure he was comfortable, making sure he wasn't freaking out. Just being a stable presence that was both warm yet sharp to the touch. Back then, Poe wasn't sure how close or far Finn wanted them to be. Now he was just... gone.
With a grumbling protest, Poe rose from the crevice his body had gotten wedged in to lean forward underneath the dash. His hands were a filthy bronze from handling those rusted wires so he was careful when looking at the plug, trying to figure out what he was smearing on and what was actually a problem. He grabbed at one of the tools on the pilot's seat, something with a thin end that could scrape out the remaining rust, and carefully went to work. It was a menial task, something to keep his hands and mind preoccupied from all the issues going on in his life, so of course he dove head on into replacing the fucked up wiring. Once that was done, he plugged in the new wires and twisted around so he could attach the exposed bits to the live bits. The A-Wing wasn't running, thankfully, but there was still about a 50/50 chance of the stupid thing zapping the shit out of him. Like this, it wouldn't be enough to kill him. Actually, he might even remember something.
With a huffed laugh, he awkwardly twisted the pliers around and around until his wrist was sore and all three wires were connected. A fuck ton of electrical tape later – rule number one: there's never too much electrical tape – and a replaced panel under the dash to actually cover the stupid fucking wires this time, he started up the A-Wing from his spot on the floorboard. It wasn't the first time he'd revved it up since beginning work on it the day before, but the sound was always equal parts chilling and comforting. The engines hummed to life, practically begging him to take it for a spin, but that would only end badly in just about every scenario Poe could think up. He tested the stick, making sure the calibration was still aligned the way his mother liked it and glancing around the cockpit to make sure the wings followed his commands. They did, so he powered down the craft.
Out of pure curiosity and a need to double check everything, Poe removed the panel he'd just placed to check the wiring. The whole thing was perfect and everything worked properly, but... the panel was warm. The wires were wound as tight as they could go without being too tight, leaving no room for slack against the hull. On further inspection, he realized that the panel was slightly dented in. Not enough to notice from an aesthetic point of view but enough to be a minor problem on an actual flight. He didn't have any parts like this, so he'd have to add this particular sort of panel to his ever growing shopping list. But until he could get a new one, the best thing to do would be to leave it off in case an emergency happened and Poe had to jump in the ship... to... fly... Poe's knuckles turned white.
The panel clanked loudly against the ship. He picked it up again and threw it out of the cockpit, hearing it smack the wall of the shed pretty loudly but still not as satisfyingly as he would like. “Fuck!” That's why the wire was exposed. It needed a new panel, and he had planned to buy one... He punched the dash, knuckles screaming. “Fuck! Fuck!” Still seething, he tucked his legs close and ran his rusted hands through his hair, trying not to go from pissed off to freaking out.
He wanted Finn. He wanted Finn to climb into the cockpit with him, grab him firmly by the shoulder, and tell him that it was all right and he was overreacting. Someone would be going to get more supplies soon and they could pick up the parts for him, no sweat. It wasn't a big deal. Then he'd probably remind him that he hadn't gotten to the landing gears yet and distract him with that until it was time to eat.
Poe could always go apologize to him point blank. Face the music. It wasn't like he didn't know where Finn had run off to. And then, maybe on the next time Poe freaked out because his older self was always one random step ahead of him at everything, Finn could put that hand on his shoulder, tell him to breathe, and make it all okay again. Even if that made Poe sound incredibly pathetic.
But he didn't need Finn. He just wanted to smooth things over enough that they weren't tip-toeing around each other since they were both having to live under the same house and all. Maybe he did miss that camaraderie that had eventually come so easily to them, but that wasn't the point and it wasn't the reason why Poe was climbing out of the A-Wing with a big scowl on his face. Apologizing was the first step to dealing with the problem at hand. Even if Finn decided to literally break his neck, it would probably be better than what they were currently doing. But he didn't need him.
Poe kicked a toolbox on his way out, refusing to delve deep enough to really think about how he felt about this whole thing. A little introspection would only manage to come up with something that he wouldn't be able to understand, and he really didn't need to be more frustrated with everything right now. Speaking of, perhaps trying to apologize with his current mood wasn't his best idea, but his current mood was driving the whole thing so fuck it.
He opened the door and quickly shut it back before any of the lukewarm rain water could get in. The storm had only really set in that morning, though it had rained all through the night. It was finally coming down about as hard as it was going to, wind was picking up enough to bend trees to just below the point of snapping limbs, and the warm water was starting to get a little colder by the hour.
When he was little, still living with his grandfather while his parents fought in the war, monsoon season was his favorite. Abuelo didn't frighten easily, so he let Poe play in the rain with his supervision once they first moved to the jungle infested moon. When his parents came back, though, monsoon season became a time of isolation in the house as they were too afraid to let him out in the storm. As he got older, the weather just became steadily more and more annoying. Now, lifting his arms up at his sides and tilting his head back far enough to let the water run down his neck and soak his clothes while he closed his eyes and got lost in it all, it wasn't so annoying anymore.
But now he was just procrastinating.
Poe heaved a sigh and let his arms rest at his side, then sucked whatever else he had up and began slogging his way over to the barn. There was a light coming from the inside, meaning Finn was definitely in there. Poe didn't want to really consider if that was a good thing or bad thing.
Before he could panic and over think the situation, he leaned against the door and opened it up, closing it quickly to keep out the water. Wet hay was literally bullshit, as Poe personally knew. He was greeted by the huffing of all the nerfs in their stalls and a smell that wasn't as disgusting as people liked to make it out to be but that wasn't really pleasant either.
He hadn't taken more than two steps before Finn popped out of one of the stalls near the middle of the barn. It shouldn't have startled him as much as it did. “Oh! I, uh- Hey, um-” Fuck.
“Poe?” Finn sounded incredibly shocked to see him, which was justified, but- Actually- Poe looked at him a little better, realizing he was missing the usual jacket, his hands were filthy, and he looked absolutely fucking terrified. “I- You- Are you here to threaten me again?”
Poe blinked, figuring he was going to be offended later. “No?”
“Okay, good. I really need your dad. I don't know what to-”
“What's going on?” Suddenly bold, Poe stepped forward to peer into the stall as Finn stepped back. The nerf was-... Well, it-... Again, it wasn't pleasant.
Finn was talking a lot faster now. “I don't know what to do, I mean, it started about an hour and a half ago and every time I try to leave she freaks out and tries to follow me, but I have no idea what I'm doing and I really need your dad because he-”
Poe started running. It took a record ten seconds for him to get across the yard in the pouring monsoon and slam the back door open. “Dad, your fucking nerf's in labor!”
Something crashed and shattered from somewhere around the kitchen area, then Kes appeared, cursing and hopping on one foot to pull a boot on.
“I should have expected this. I don't know why I didn't expect this.”
“You're the one who told me the low pressure coming in might induce her labor. You knew about it.”
“But the rain started yesterday.”
“It's all the same to a nerf, Kes.”
“Found it!” Poe announced himself, wedging into the stall and handing a bundle of chains to his father. “How many times have you done this? I mean, really, why are you the one freaking out?”
“It's fine. I've got it.”
Before Poe could open his mouth, Finn voiced his exact thoughts. “That's not an answer, Kes.”
“Just stay at her head, smartass,” his dad muttered off-hand. “She likes you. Keep her calm. I think the feet are starting to come out.”
The poor nerf was now standing again with Finn, who looked way more relieved now, basically hugging her neck. His dad, looking nervous but capable, was on the business end and had already voiced his huge hopes for the calf coming out right so he wouldn't have to turn the poor thing around. Which Poe did not want to think about. He had seen this thing a few times, which was probably a few times too many. “How many times has she done this?” Poe asked, watching the nerf stare holes into the side of Finn's head. “She looks nervous.”
“She's had three,” Kes mumbled, paused, and let out a huge sigh. “Ah, gracias a Dios, I see the nose. The gross little fucker is coming out right for once.”
And that's about all Poe could handle. “I can't watch this.”
“Too bad. Help me get these chains on the little one.”
Poe heard himself give a very immature whine reserved only for small children, yet he moved forward anyway to do as was asked of him. He helped wrap the calving chains around the legs, really not looking around too much or thinking too much or doing anything too much-
“She's ready,” Kes continued, “We're gonna pull as she pushes, all right? It'll be done in no time.”
Poe's done this once before. And he never did it again. Intentionally. Besides, when did this become a two person job? Before he could finish the thought, he was pulling. Then stopping. Then pulling and stopping. And at some point half way through, Kes let go of the chains to grab the calf and then it was nothing to it.
The absolutely way too cute sound of the baby nerf sneezing was what made the mother turn her head to see the new little calf in the world, wobbly knees and everything. Poe half carried, half maneuvered the little one to the fresh hay that Finn had laid out before hand, and the mother instantly followed.
He stepped back, letting the new pair have their moment, then realized he was standing right beside Finn. Suddenly, the whole ordeal from before had come back, and without all of the agitation, Poe found himself nervous. Finn, however, was staring at the mother and calf, mouth slightly open in what looked like awe. Poe's mouth felt dry, but he struggled ahead anyway. “Never saw this stuff before?”
Finn jerked at the question but didn't look away from the pair either. He closed his mouth, opened it, closed it, opened it again. “No,” he said, the word coming out in own breath that seemed to deflate his chest and shoulders.
Poe swallowed and looked down at his hands, watching himself rub them together in a terrible attempt to clean them. “I'm sorry about the other day.”
He felt the other turn to him, could feel his eyes bearing down and sinking through his skin. Too afraid to meet his eyes, Dameron stayed still. After a long moment, Finn finally answered in a soft voice, “It's okay, Poe.”
With a frown, he turned to meet Finn's eyes because it wasn't okay. Pulling a gun on him was not okay. The circumstances did not call for him to react the way he did, and it wasn't fucking okay, and they already had the same discussion in this same spot, and it wasn't okay. But the other man's smile, tender and soft and warm and affectionate, made Poe shut his mouth and his brain to sputter to a stop.
Kes let out a tired sigh, different from the other five or so sighs he'd made in the last fifteen minutes, and stood in front of them. “We should leave her to it, check on her later.” He paused and glanced between Poe and Finn, his expression not giving any of his thoughts away. “You two all right now?”
Finn glanced over to him, and Poe had to croak out a, “Yeah,” even though that had been way too easy. Finn just chuckled to himself, grabbed his jacket from the top of the stall where it had been hanging the whole time, and walked away while tugging it on. His dad, with a big smile, clapped him on the shoulder and steered him out of the stall, too.
It was insane, honestly. And as soon as Poe was able to speak again, able to realize why that smile disarmed him so fast, he'd tell Finn exactly what was on his mind and how Poe should be hated right now, not being given such nice smiles and friendly laughs.
Kes shut the door back tightly behind them as they walked back to the house through the rain which had slacked off a little before it would inevitably get worse as night set in. Since it wasn't pouring as hard anymore, Poe allowed himself to look up at the clouds and watch as the few very rare bolts of lightning zipped from one cloud to the next, never touching the ground thanks to the smartly placed rods around the property.
They were his favorite part of the monsoon when he was a kid, much to the surprise of abuelo who thought water and mud would be more up Poe's alley. But, like his mother, his eyes stayed glued to the ever changing sky, watching the streaks of bright white and blue dance overhead without a fear in the world. The only sight that ever managed to come close was hyperspace travel, watching the stars and planets and nebulae soar by at damn near break neck speeds, only ever pushed so far when the situation was absolutely critical. And then the slow, heart wrenching descent out of hyperspace, everything flowing back into its proper place without so much as a smudge of it out of focus, a great blue and green planet beneath him, and a streak of bright red lightning seared into the vacuum of space above.
“Blue Three, send word to base.”
Finn turned around before he could finish the order, and Poe was thrown back into the present moment.
The world fell to black and he was falling and there were hands and the sound of his name and-
Well, this was a long chapter. I hope you guys like that sort of thing. Also, if my dad turned to me a few years ago and told me that helping him with scrap iron would help with my writing in the future, I probably would have considered flipping him off. That said, let me know if that whole thing is terrible or wrong. I used my own experiences with that nonsense as reference and didn't look up anything. But I did look up how to give birth to a cow and good lord.
Anyway. Thanks for reading! I hope you like the ending here and don't hate me for it or something. I gotta keep you guys hooked somehow.
We've got a heartbeat.
Relief rushed through him so fast that his knees nearly buckled. Instead, Poe turned on a dime in the middle of the crowded tarmac and jogged after-
That was the problem. There were lights. Scenery. Sometimes there were smells or tastes or touches. Mostly it was just feelings, emotions tumbling through him like an avalanche, like nose diving straight through a stratosphere. And words. There were a lot of words.
This will begin to make things right.
The old man gave it to you.
Just heat and sand and burning. Trying not to panic, trying to keep it together. But he was about to die, so to hell with it. He was more worried about everything else. About the mission. About the lives around him.
The red streak in the sky and Stormtroopers invading a village and TIE Fighters swarming a castle. An X-Wing silently exploding in the vacuum and a familiar voice still echoing a scream in his ears.
Muran! Muran, eject!
Denied. I said denied, Commander.
Every TIE Fighter we destroy now is one less that can attack us when things really get hot.
There was once a map on the wall of a Republic Navy base. It showed the entire galaxy and was divided into sectors. A large piece was under control of the Republic and a small sliver was labeled as territory of the First Order. It was seared into his mind, back dropped in nearly every moment, and it filled him with so much rage. Hate towards the ignorant and the conformers and the evil. Hate towards everyone. Not anger, just hate. Hate.
With some luck, he might just be able to walk again.
You were stationed on Hosnian Prime? My sons live there.
May the worst man win.
And sadness. Just hate and sadness. Overwhelming sadness. He wished he could give up. He wanted to. At times, he wondered if that's the exact reason General Organa gave him the position she did.
But there was good, too. There was so much good. One shy smile poorly hidden by a duck of the head, and all of those bad things seemed a little less encompassing.
Do you know how many systems there are?
I want to meet your dad. I don't care if he- Okay, I really care if he hates me, but I want to meet him anyway.
Have you heard from Rey?
I know what a nerf is, Poe. I grew up in a Star Destroyer, not under a rock.
You're beautiful. And I really didn't mean to say that out loud.
I think I'm in love with you.
This, right here, is where he wanted to stay. Dawn trying to creep in the window, tucked deep into a warm bed, pressed tightly against a warm body, feeling a breathy whisper against his hair. It was good. He was happy. Happy. Happy.
There was rain pounding against the metal roof of his father's back porch and this isn't what was planned, but he was so happy.
Did you just ask me to marry you?
“Ah thin' so,” he mumbled, tongue heavy and jaw tight. He felt cold and wet and the rain was so loud here, but the only really frustrating thing was his inability to get the words out. Something strong wrapped around his shoulders and behind his knees. One of his arms fell limp by his side. There were words and voices he couldn't understand. But when he tried to open his eyes, all he could make out was a dark blob over him that vaguely looked human shaped but he couldn't really tell. “Marry me?”
“Shh,” the blob said in a familiar voice that made his eyelids heavy all over again. “I've got you, Poe. I've got you. I've got you.”
So he closed his eyes again.
“It wasn't a stroke. If it was bad enough to make him faint, there would have been signs before hand. He's not showing any symptoms of it either.”
“Not right now. He's still out cold.”
“Dilation is normal. Reflexes are normal-”
“What about a seizure?”
“It's... possible. But if it were caused by the injury, he would have had them by now. And you said he just fainted. Were there any signs? You would have said already if it were serious.”
“It wasn't like- If it was a seizure, it wasn't like one I've seen.”
“If his memories caused this, that would have happened before, too.”
“Well, it hasn't. I don't know what the fuck it is but it's sure not norm-”
“You said you thought you heard him fall a few days ago?”
Poe's eyes fluttered open, trying to see why the voices that had been such a constant in the back of his mind had stopped. Then reality slowly drifted over him, and all air left his lungs. Had he been asleep? He was exhausted, but had no idea what just happened.
He was laying on his side in the bed of his room, which was easy enough to decipher. However, Miri was hovering close to him, kneeling at his bedside, hand gently placed in his hair. His father was a few feet away with a thick rain coat pulled half way on. The two of them were looking at each other, kind of like he wasn't in the room.
Poe tried to talk, but his voice failed him. Whatever had happened, he didn't recall it. In fact, he wasn't totally sure what his last memory was. He was just so fucking tired. And kind of scared.
He shifted, just a bit in a sorry effort to get up that was quickly abandoned, and Miri noticed him. “Kes.”
Faster than Poe had seen him move in recent memory, his father was suddenly at his side. “Poe! Boy, you okay? How you feel?”
How did he feel? Tired. Not really in any pain. More like something was weighing down on him, making him sluggish. And he didn't like it. He most definitely didn't like it. He tried to voice his thoughts again, a little afraid, a lot worried, and it came out in a hoarse whisper. “Finn... I want Finn. Where's-”
“Hold on,” his dad absently muttered, jumping up and rushing out of the room.
That didn't answer his question, but Poe was stalled from thinking too much about it by Miri angling his head to face her. “Sweetheart, do you know who I am?” She was touching around his eyes, looking at him thoroughly. Whatever happened, it freaked them out.
“Miri,” he answered in the same rough voice. He tried swallowing thickly, clearing his throat some.
“Do you know where you are?”
“My room,” he answered again, clenching his eyes shut, frustrated by his body's lack of motivation.
Heavy footfalls quickly pounded back into his room, but he had no time to open his eyes and see the ruckus for himself before they were crowding him. His dad knelt back into place beside his bed, and Finn – blessed Finn – sat beside him and grabbed on tight to Poe's outstretched and searching hand. That's better.
The kid, with big eyes that made him kind of feel like a jerk for worrying him like that, ran a hand through Poe's hair. “Headache?” he asked lowly.
Poe appreciated the thought but gently shook his head. “Don't hurt.”
Miri shifted to get back into his field of vision. “What's the last thing you remember, Poe?”
Ugh. Thinking sucked. It didn't hurt, but it sucked. “Don't know,” he said but squinted, still trying to think anyway. He remembered a lot, but was unsure what was recent and what wasn't. It was like everything was so far away and fuzzy. And gray. “Rain,” he finally answered, “It was raining.” A glance to his window proved that, but he could swear that he was just in the rain, yet he wasn't wet. Perhaps they dried him off. Perhaps he'd been out for awhile.
The others smiled a little, so apparently that was a good answer. His dad leaned forward. “You remember the baby nerf?”
The baby nerf... He'd seen a bunch of baby nerfs in his day, but- Oh. Poe wrinkled his nose. “Now I do... Wish I didn't.” Right, he had a front row seat to that one. Someone huffed a laugh, and Poe opened his eyes again, not realizing he had even closed them. “Are they okay?”
“Yeah, Poe. They're all right,” Finn answered him back with a small smile then seemed to turn somber. “Do you remember the planet we went to after we stole the TIE Fighter?”
The tension was suddenly very noticeable, and he realized what they had apparently been thinking, but his mind was stuck on something. “We stole a TIE Fighter?”
His dad deflated, the only one that had any reaction. “That's a no.”
“Wait a minute, I flew a TIE Fighter? That explains a lot.”
Kes stood up and popped his back. “Well, I'm glad you're awake, kid, but I gotta make a run. Can't get a signal out in this storm.”
“You shouldn't go alone-” Finn shifted to get up, but was stopped short by a wave of his dad's hand. Poe was grateful.
“You both stay here with him,” Kes told them. “I'll take one of the droids, if it'll make you feel any better. Not like I've been dealing with this weather for over thirty years now.” BB-8, who had apparently placed himself near the foot of the bed, made a warbling depressed sound. All that Poe could see of him was his antenna, but apparently his dad could see him since he grimaced. “I guess A3 just volunteered then.” With a sigh, he bent forward and placed a kiss in Poe's hair.
Poe, as much as he was liking all the attention, whined deep in his throat. “Where you going?”
“Get Dr. Kzell,” Kes muttered, patting him on the shoulder and standing up again. “I'll be right back. You won't have time to miss me.”
Any protests, which Poe had a lot of, died in his throat. He definitely needed a doctor, but he didn't want his dad out there either, but- Miri stood, pushing a few strands of hair away from Poe's forehead. “I'll walk him out. Won't be long.” He just nodded and watched them leave.
At least Finn had stayed. With a little strength, Poe managed to slowly fall onto his back, relaxing a bit more into the bed. Whatever was wrong with him, he didn't like it. “You okay?”
Finn, who had been watching him closely the whole time, chocked back a hollow laugh. “Am I okay? Did you really just ask me that, Dameron.”
“You all look pretty freaked out. I'm just making sure.”
The other shook his head, but not without another little smile. “Yes, I'm fine. You're something else.”
Poe grunted, looking up to the ceiling and taking a deep breath. Whatever had happened, there was only a vague sense of dreaming left. He didn't know if what he saw was recent or something long ago or had even happened at all. Still, there were snatches that he could grab on to, mostly sensations or thoughts or moods. And one was bothering him. “Am I married?”
There was a pause where Finn didn't move, and Poe was so sure he actually had found something deep in his mind, until he quietly said, “No.”
Oh. Well. Poe frowned, though it wasn't entirely from frustration. “I was with someone,” he muttered out in a low breath, voice nearly getting drowned out by the rain pelting against the window. “Did you know that?”
A thumb was making circles on the back of his hand, a gesture that was already keeping him calm. “Yeah, I did.”
The rain hitting against the house made a noise that was more like cacophony than music, but Poe focused on the sound of every drop as they got stronger and eased down, the ebb and flow of the storm like a tide against his dad's house. It was near impossible to sync his breathing up to it, though, but the air shook in and out of his chest anyway. “Are they dead?”
He could see Finn's shoulders fall from the edge of his vision, and, for a moment, his heart fell with him. Before he could think about it, though, Finn was answering with a tone full of emotion, rubbing Poe's hand between his. “No, Poe. They're alive. They're okay. They're alive, Poe. I'm so sorry.”
But Poe's whole being seemed to have deflated from the sheer relief of the thought. And, after a beat, he started laughing, a fit of giggles bubbling in his chest that he was too exhausted to let free. When he realized Finn had stopped rambling and was probably thinking he had gone crazy, Poe explained through a grin, “I've never been so happy to be dumped in my life.”
“Yeah,” Poe told the ceiling, eyelids getting heavy again. “I know that I wouldn't have left them... Him.” If what he remembered feeling meant anything, at least, he knew that much.
For a second, the sound of rain was all around him until Finn broke the silence, reminding him he wasn't alone. “Hey, Poe?”
“Hmm?” he hummed and waited a few seconds. Finn didn't answer, and Poe fell back into sleep, his tired mind more at ease than it had been in days.
Sorry for the short chapter, but the next scene was going to be too much to fit. That said, the next chapter should be pretty long. And we're nearing the end. GASP. Also, those quotes from the beginning are mostly from canon material (TFA, the novel Before The Awakening, and the Poe Dameron comic series) but some are my own, of course.
Thanks for reading, as always.
I don't know how many of you follow my tumblr, but I had this short phase where I just completely lost my motivation and ability to write. It was gross and terrifying. But anyway, I wanted to finish this chapter. I'll be honest, I don't know how good it is, but I followed my timeline and did my best. Just trying to get back in that groove.
You know in Space Jam when those NBA players lose their talent to a fucking basketball controlled by some little minion monsters or some shit and Bugs Bunny had to team up with Michael Jordan just to kick their asses? I feel like those NBA players.
… work that body work that body make sure you dont hurt nobody
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Poe jolted awake at the sight of a bright light blinding him. It suddenly vanished and was replaced by two large, amber eyes staring down at him. “Well, good morning, Poe,” Dr. Kzell spoke softly, gently touching the pilot's face to get him to turn his head this way and that.
Feeling particularly groggy, Poe just let himself be moved wherever the doctor pleased. “Is it even morning?”
“I'm sure it is somewhere,” the Arcona sighed and glanced over his shoulder. “Your boy seems perfectly healthy, Kes. Aside from the concussion, that is, which seems to be healing nicely.”
Poe clenched his eyes shut before daring to look at the rest of the room, which only occupied a worried Finn and an agitated father dripping wet from the rain, the latter of which speaking up. “Then why did he pass out like that? It wasn't exactly what I'd call normal.”
“No,” Kzell answered, looking back to Poe. “I imagine it had something to do with the amnesia. What about it, kid? Did you remember anything? See something? Do you even know what triggered it?”
Triggered? The last thing he knew for certain before waking up in his room was standing outside in the rain. As far as memories went, he was less sure of a solid answer. “No? I think. I don't know... A weird dream, if nothing else. Just voices and... places, I guess. I don't know why it happened.”
“Did anything in particular stand out to you?”
Poe shook his head, but still tried hard to think. “Just the rain and... talk about marriage, I think.” Finn and Kes seemed to perk up at that, so maybe there was something in there somewhere, even if it didn't really make sense. So if that meant something, then maybe- “There was... really fucked up lightning. In space. I was in an X-Wing, and I swear I could see red lightning or... something?” Kzell had no reaction, and Kes only looked confused, but Finn was teetering somewhere between awkward and horrified.
“Well,” Kzell sighed again before Poe could press it, “I know this is going to sound crazy, but this is a good thing. You're remembering more now. It should all be back before you know it.”
The doctor quizzed Poe on how he felt for a minute before finishing up and having Kes escort him towards the living room. Finn, who was suddenly left alone with him, fidgeted in place and cleared his throat, looking more than ready to make a run for it. Yet, he still rushed forward as Poe lifted himself to his elbows. “Don't move too much.”
“I'm all right.”
“Are you dizzy?”
“No, I'm all right. Just-” Before he could properly ask for anything, Finn wrapped his arms around Poe's shoulders and helped him to sit up properly. At least he was telling the truth. Poe wasn't dizzy and, in fact, he felt a lot better than he had the last time he woke. “Thanks.”
“Don't worry about it,” Finn muttered, sitting on the bed to face Poe just like he did before when he- when he held his hand. Maker, help him, Poe must have been loopy as hell. But there was no hand holding now, so Poe just licked his lips and asked, “I didn't imagine that red lightning thing, did I?”
Finn's eyes widened for a moment before he became very interested in the floor. “No. That happened.”
A few seconds ticked by before Poe realized there was no elaboration forthcoming, and he didn't know if he wanted to press it or not. “It must have been the storm outside or something that triggered it,” he sighed, rubbing the back of his neck and feeling clammy as hell. “How long was I out?”
Finn shrugged. “An hour and a half in all, maybe two.”
“That's it?” It felt like Poe had slept for weeks. “Just two hours? How did dad get Kzell here so fast?”
“We were worried about you, Poe.” It was the words and Finn's big concerned eyes that made the pilot snap his mouth shut and look away. Apparently, that was a stupid question with an honest answer.
A long silence fell between them and that was no good. It just made Poe think about their very weird relationship as of late and how much of a jackass he was probably being. “Um,” he cleared his throat and just dived in, because the atmosphere couldn't possibly get any worse between them at this point, “so it... can't hurt to tell me about the lightning thing now, right? Since I remember it and all.”
Evidently, from Finn's sliding spectrum of expressions, it was a big enough deal to make Poe pretty curious. The other man's face eventually sorted itself into a look of concern ridden with anxiety. He shifted and only glanced away for a moment before his eyes were back on Poe's. “You remember when I told you that the First Order had a weapon like the Death Star that the Resistance destroyed?”
Poe scrunched up his face and answered after a pause. “Vaguely.” Well, he did. Apparently, that was the mission that wiped out a rather large portion of his pilots, so of course he remembered Finn telling him. He just hadn't thought much more on the whole thing since then. It was destroyed years ago, right? But Poe's tired mind quickly made the connection between this apparent weapon and the red light from his dream... He didn't entirely want to accept that idea, though. “Wait.” He straightened up in bed, staring down at the blankets in an attempt to get his thoughts together. “No, that can't be right. What I saw was like a branching effect. It wasn't like- like lightning. It was like beams or-”
“Five beams,” Finn corrected solemnly. “It was five beams of light stretching out from one source, right?”
“It was huge,” the other sighed. “Really, really- It was crazy. Shouldn't have been possible on such a scale.”
An image of snow covered mountains came to mind, and Poe shook his head with the vain attempt to try to clear it. He noticed Finn reach out a hand, presumably to steady him, but Poe just backed away and twisted around so his feet could finally rest on the floor. “So you're telling me it hit five targets?”
Finn's hand, still reaching out to Poe, dropped into his lap. “Yeah.”
Five. Five. Five planets or moons or gas giants or stars. Five. That's a whole system. That's billions of people. Trillions. That's- “I really feel like I would remember something like that.” Yet there was something else in the back of his mind. The thought of being in his X-Wing, making a run through the valleys, chasing and being chased. “Where was it?”
Poe didn't look up to him, too busy rubbing at his eyes in an attempt to stay in the waking world and not fall back asleep so easily again. “The targets. What did they hit? What did they destroy?” He knew it wasn't Yavin, at least. Yet the sheer thought of this happening anywhere was... maddening. Alderaan happened before he was born, immediately placing it in the realm of some sort of legend that his parents got to witness. This was real. It was way too real. And he didn't even know the details.
But it felt balmy, and his clothes were too itchy, practically brand new from the quartermaster after what happened on the last practice run. He may have lost fifty credits, but at least he knew that T-85's couldn't do five barrel rolls in succession at maximum speed and that most things in an X-Wing aren't water proof, so he shouldn't be crash landing in lakes anymore. After the chewing out he got over it, he was ready to spend any amount of money before taking another bet like that.
“Fuck this, I'm turning in,” he grumbled, standing up and moving towards the door, preparing to take the walk of shame all the way from mess to his shared quarters.
A hand grabbed his elbow. “Poe?”
He turned back and found himself startled for a moment. This wasn't the mess. That wasn't Muran. He was on Yavin IV, at home. This was Finn standing in front of him. A very worried looking Finn who seemed to be getting more concerned by the second as Poe just stood there and stared back. Why did he think he was Hosnian Prime? Why had he just-?
He stared blankly at the wall, a little bit petrified. Fuck, he was going insane.
“Poe.” Finn's voice was much softer this time as he stepped closer, another hand gently finding the pilot's back. “Hey, I think you should lay back down.”
“I'm losing my mind,” he answered hoarsely.
The hands got firmer, became more persistent. “No, you're not. Just lay down, okay? You just need to eat, that's all. I'll go get something for you to eat, all right? You're okay.” Finn was speaking softly, but babbling was still babbling.
Was this normal? Was that why he left him? He would apparently panic regularly, needed to be on medication, decided to make stupid modifications to starfighters. He was crazy. He was fucking nuts. He was losing his fucking mind.
“No, Poe. Come on. Look at me.” He blinked and looked around until he found Finn, still talking softly with eyes full of fear. “You're okay, Poe. Everything's going to be all right. Just breathe with me, okay? I shouldn't have told you. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have told you. Just breathe with me, c'mon.”
Poe pulled away from the hands grasping for him, feeling the overwhelming urge that he really didn't belong in that moment. Or anywhere, specifically. He didn't know where he was supposed to be. Also, he was probably going to throw up maybe. “No, I-” He turned and continued moving at the best pace he could manage, ignoring Finn calling after him.
In fact, he was already outside on the back porch before Finn stopped him again. The sad part was that he didn't remember going through the kitchen or opening the door. But the other man had a good grip on his bicep, keeping him under the roofing and out of the pouring rain. It was night time. When did it get to be night?
“Stop it,” Finn growled, and Poe stopped struggling, only just then realizing that he was fighting back at all. “Where are you trying to go? What are you doing? Look at me.”
Poe couldn't even hope to steady himself. He was practically crawling in his own skin. There was no destination other than away and free and someplace that stayed the same, that didn't change without him, that would always be okay. But he couldn't voice that and just stared dumbly back at Finn, beginning to feel awfully dizzy all of a sudden. “I- I just-” He tried to say it, if only he knew what he needed to say. “I just need to-”
“The shed?” Finn asked, seeming to understand something. When Poe was silent, not catching on, Finn asked, “The A-Wing?” The A-Wing. His mom's A-Wing. Poe pulled again, but Finn just tugged him closer, unwilling to let go. “Wait, stop. Hold on. You don't even have shoes on. Hang on.”
Poe just stared at him, perpetually confused, seeing stars pass through hyperspace behind his eyes, hearing blaster fire against his ears, and trying desperately to focus on the fact that Finn was going to help him get back to his mother. He watched, blinking rapidly, trying to stop swaying, as Finn awkwardly took off his jacket while trying to hold on to Poe as much as possible. The leather thing was thrown across Poe's shoulders, the other man mumbling to himself and looking around for what Poe presumed to be shoes by the door.
He tugged the jacket closer, wrapping himself in it, letting the warmth and smell seep in. A thought hit him, and the words just came out. “This is my jacket.” He looked up at Finn, watching the other stop and stare back. This was his jacket. He remembered wearing it. Remembered losing it. Well, not entirely, but he remembered being hot and dirty and terrified and in so much pain-
Finn had his jacket. On D'Qar, Finn had his jacket. He had it the whole time.
And now Finn was standing in front of him, each hand gripping on to his shoulders. “Poe? You all right?”
Clearly not, but- “You had my jacket.” He had it the whole time Poe thought he was dead and thought the old jacket was gone forever. He had it draped over him while he slept for weeks in the medbay, when they started sharing a room, when he joined the Pathfinders, when Poe brought him home the first time-
“Poe?” A hand roved through his hair, bringing him back to see Finn – sans jacket – standing in front of him, fingers shaking a little. “Sweetheart, you're scaring me.”
Of course, he scared him. He drew a gun on him. “Sweetheart?”
He once knew of a warm bed in the early mornings and quick kisses before starting the day. And then the rare mornings when no one had anywhere they had to be, and they could just hold each other and exist in quiet tandem. A warm bed and a warm body and all the happiness in the galaxy, a hand gently moving up and down against his back, a heartbeat steady in the chest his head rested on, and Finn's sweet smile. I think I'm in love with you.
“Poe, please, look at me.”
He could shut his eyes, wet with tears, but he couldn't block out the noise. Rain pounded against the roof and ground, the cold seeping in through his skin like blades, the wood beneath his feet feeling like biting ice. Then the wood was gone.
“All right, listen to my voice, okay? I've got you, Poe. I've got you. Just keep breathing. You're doing great, baby. It's okay... I've got him. I know what he needs. I've got him. Poe? You listening? I've got you, all right? We're okay. Everything's okay.”
He pushed his face into Finn's neck, desperately willing everything else to stop. The voice, as scared and shaky as it sounded, was an anchor keeping him in the present. He didn't want to wander again. He was terrified of wandering again. And there was something there begging for his attention, something terribly obvious, but he just wanted everything to go away.
Focusing on the sound of Finn's voice, the rise and fall in tone and the vibrations in his chest and throat, helped a lot. So much so that he eventually realized that he could hardly hear the rain anymore... and that Finn was trying to instruct him on how to breathe again. Poe listened, slowly taking three deep breaths before opening his eyes.
They were in the shed, a light on over head, rain pelting against the dark window. His left arm and both legs were wet, apparently what couldn't be sheltered from the storm on the way over, and he was curled up in Finn's lap. “There you are,” the other man sighed, the tension seeming to leave his body just like that. “Hey, how do you feel?”
“Exhausted,” Poe answered in a whisper, but Finn smiled so it was okay. “I'm sorry.”
“You're all right. We're both all right.” Finn pulled him closer, getting them both in a more comfortable position, and Poe wanted to melt. “Do you know where we are?”
With mom. He glanced up at the A-Wing that Finn was sitting against, finding that he didn't mind at all that the other man was there with him. “Yeah.” He swallowed thickly and tucked himself back into a ball. “I'm sorry about everything,” he reiterated, finding that he wasn't at all ashamed anymore to show Finn his vulnerabilities. In fact, he really didn't care anymore. Everything was quieter now, but it hadn't really stopped... He took a few more deep breaths.
“Don't be sorry,” Finn murmured against, almost absently, tugging the jacket tighter in the apparent pretense to wrap Poe up in it. “You've got nothing to be sorry about. Everything's okay.”
“I love you so much.”
Finn froze against him, but Poe didn't want to look up just to see the other man staring down at him, so he stayed hidden in the same shoulder he'd come to in. “You remember?” Poe felt the question breeze against his hair more than actually hear it.
“Yes... I don't know.” Did he love Finn? He remembered something. He definitely felt something. But it was- Everything was just- “I wish it would stop,” he finally said, shaking a little. “I wish everything would stop. I keep going in and out. I don't know where I'm supposed to be. I don't know how to get back out again. I'm scared. I don't know what's happening-”
“Poe. Poe.” There was an edge of panic to Finn's voice, but it was deliberately slow and calm, enough to be for someone else's benefit. A hand moved through his hair again, and Poe looked up at him this time. Finn's eyes were still scared, but there was something else much warmer and far more fierce, like a protective edge that was almost frightening. “You're safe here. No matter what, you're safe. I'm here and I'm never going to let anything happen to you.”
Safe seemed to a subjective term, but Poe immediately relaxed anyway, feeling most of his body ache with the released tension. “Okay,” he said in between deep breaths, the nausea going further and further away every time. So he stayed there, sinking into Finn's touch and focusing on the arms wrapping around him. “I remember you, I think,” he said, trying to lay it out for the both of them. “I remember Jakku. And I remember Hosnia. And I remember-...” A dark clad man in a mask. “Kylo Ren.” The medbay. The refugees. The Republic fleet. The awkward proposal. Terex. Miri. Muran. Rey. Luke. “I remember you.”
“I love you, too, Poe.”
The door creaked open and shut quickly, but he didn't stir, unwilling to react to anything else in the waking world other than being wrapped up in Finn. Until he heard the voice of his father. “Son?”
Poe slowly turned to look at him only to see how soaked his dad was from walking out in that rain. But Finn answered before anything could even come to his mind. “He's okay,” he said softly. “He remembers.”
Kes stood there, shocked, before babbling out an excuse to leave them alone, but Poe reached a hand out to him. His dad instantly quieted, almost sheepish, before moving forward to sit beside Finn on the ground, putting Poe's feet in his lap and rubbing the calves.
“I'm okay,” Poe said after a deep breath and kind of believed it. He leaned back into Finn's shoulder and felt so so warm. And quiet. And dark. And safe. “I'm okay.”
The confusion vanished, everything having an answer and slotting right into its place again, but Poe began to drift off before even becoming totally aware of it.
I feel like that was incredibly unrealistic portrayal of remembering things after a bout of amnesia, even with the concussion and panic attacks. So let me know if you've had some experience with this stuff, so I can look back on this and ask myself what the hell I was thinking. I definitely got the panicking part right. I know that much.
Also. Commas. As far as the eye can see. I read through and honestly don't know how to fix them. Where did all my writing powers go? I have essays due.
Thanks for still reading! We're going to have... one more chapter, I think. A little epilogue sort of thing. Then Finn's POV! It'll be its own fic (and answer possible lingering questions), so I'll make this a series you guys can subscribe to if you're interested in seeing it. Thanks again!
“Are you sure it's wise to come back to base so soon, Commander?”
Well, he didn't know about anything wise, but there was enough of Poe that was itching to go back to work in whatever capacity they would have him. So he shook his head at the holo image of General Organa. “The doctor watched over me so well the past three days that dad made him a bed out of the couch. There's been no other... episodes related to the amnesia, and the concussion just needs more time. I'm sure Kalonia's up to that much. In the meantime, I'd bet there's plenty of paperwork Snap's been helpfully backlogging for me.”
The General crossed her arms, the image just large enough to see above her torso, and huffed at him. “And your memories? You'll be no good at paperwork if you forget how to spell your name.”
He gave a mocking laugh at that, but eventually gave a tired smiled. “Everything's there. Sometimes it takes a little digging, but it's all there. My short term memory isn't the best right now, but the doctor says it'll get better with the concussion.”
“Good,” Leia nods, looking pleased with the news of his progress. “Well, as far as I know, your pilots haven't taken your room for themselves yet. If the doctor's clearing you, then of course you can come back, Poe. I had thought you'd want an excuse for a vacation at the least.”
Again, Poe shook his head. “I'm ready to jump back in, General. We can be there by tomorrow evening D'Qar time.”
“Very well. I'll have Kalonia get in touch with Kzell, and have coordinates sent to your ship... You know, the ship that Finn is piloting back to base, Commander.”
Poe pouted. He actually hadn't even thought of flying the little shuttle, but it really sucked now that the idea was taken from him. “Understood, General.”
“Good,” she repeated, this time with a bright smile. “I'll make sure your pilots have enough time to plan your party before you get back. We've missed you, Poe. D'Qar, out.”
He turned off his end of the holo and leaned back in the beat up desk chair, not sure what he thought of a party when he still felt like literal hell.
After falling asleep in the shed next to the old A-Wing, Poe woke to find pale sunlight and hard rain beating against his bedroom window and had been told he'd slept until that afternoon. The doctor, who had stayed considering recent events, wasn't worried. So, naturally, Finn worried enough for everyone. It took two days of bickering for the other man to agree to the idea of going back to base, and the only thing that sealed the deal was Kzell going back home. BB-8 was adamant about staying for awhile longer but his opinion didn't count since Finn agreed to just pack him up in the shuttle's storage if push came to shove.
Poe stood and stretched his back, allowing himself a moment to watch the vast red blot of Yavin tilt through the sky from his bedroom window. The monsoon had stopped that morning, likely just to get its second wind ready, but water was still dripping soundly off of the roof.
The frustrating thing about his amnesia of the last four years being gone was that it wouldn't get any better. His mind was about as good as it was going to get at his current point. He remembered everything, but not always immediately or without some outside influence. If he thought about something, the memory would barge right in – like Karé and Iolo screaming on the comms a second before Muran's bird exploded, or the bright red lights greeting them over Takodana as he and his squads fell out of hyperspace, or being strapped to that chair with finger nails raking through his skull – but nothing seemed to present itself if it wasn't forthcoming. Finn had reluctantly agreed to quiz him on the time he had missed, which made him remember plenty of things – like meeting Miri for the first time, or helping Finn through physical therapy, or proposing on his dad's back porch in the middle of a storm to the mystery man that had been in front of his eyes the entire time.
There was a mix of good and bad jumbled in there, just like everyone said, but it was annoying that it took effort to dig anything out. It made him wonder if he should suggest getting more brain scans, actually. One's memory was a terrible thing to lose. And it wasn't like he didn't already feel old.
A warm, strong pair of arms slipped around his waist and held him tight against a firm body, lips ghosting over his neck. “You're thinking too much,” Finn's muttered against his skin.
Poe sighed, relaxing back against him. “I thought thinking too much was a good thing for my situation.”
“Nope. There's a quota,” Finn mumbled, nuzzling into Poe's neck. Ever since the memories had come trickling back, Finn's physical affection had tripled over the usual amount. It made something deep in Poe's chest ache a little. “How did the call go?”
“They're planning a party,” Poe sighed with a little grin.
Finn chuckled against him. “No drinking and everyone wanting to hold you for at least thirty minutes for themselves. Sounds like a fun night.”
Poe weaved his fingers through his lover's and held on tight, bowing his head forward a bit, eyes closed, just trying to think through what he'd been telling himself to say before they left for base. “Hey, um.” He noticed that Finn had paused in his kisses and nuzzles, realizing even before himself that there was something that needed to be said. Poe took a deep breath and slowly let it out again, imagining BB's count in his head. “I'm sorry.”
A beat, then, “For what?”
“For being an asshole.”
“I should have apologized earlier or like even during the whole thing or just-” He paused, took another deep breath. “I'm just sorry, and I- Fuck, Finn. I can't imagine what you were going through. If something like that happened to you, I don't know what I'd-”
“Stop.” Finn's hand ran up and down Poe's arm, slow and sure. “Just stop. It would have been different had things been switched. You know that. Even if I had people I remembered near me, would you have left me to fend for myself?”
“No.” In fact, he's a bit offended by the question. Which... is Finn's point. “No, I-”
“It wasn't your fault.” Finn's lips moved back to running down Poe's neck. “You didn't know, and I was taking the idea of keeping secrets way too far. I should have explained more than I did. You were scared, Poe, and I couldn't figure out a way to help.”
He shook his head, feeling this conversation leaning towards a different apology that he wasn't entirely ready to believe was about to be spoken. “I pulled a gun on you. That's not okay. What if I- What if-”
“You weren't going to.” Poe snapped his mouth shut, closing his eyes tight. Finn just pulled him closer, almost crushing them together. “You wanted to buy time. You wanted to get me away from your family. You didn't want anyone to get hurt.”
“I could have-”
“But I- No. No.” He shook his head, pushed Finn's arms away with a bit too much force than was necessary, and turned on him, eyes stinging. “No, it's not about that. It's about what I almost did. What I... could have-”
“Poe, nothing happened.”
He gasped, closing his eyes. “You're so... strong. After what I- I don't deserve you. I don't deserve-”
A hand gently cupped his jaw and cheek, grounding him back in the bedroom he'd almost forgotten they were in, effectively halting his rambling. Poe panted, trembled, felt tears falling down his cheek and wondered if he was panicking or dissociating or both. Kzell said that would happen with the medicine, but he'd yet to let himself get worked up enough to let it. The thought of losing Finn, even for his love's own good, was too much to handle for him at the moment. Or maybe ever.
His eyes cracked open, meeting Finn's worried look and small smile. “There you are.” He leaned forward, gently pressing a kiss to Poe's forehead. “I love you,” he muttered. “Do you love me?”
Poe's eyes fluttered closed, hoarsely speaking, “That doesn't matter.”
“Yes, it does. Because I love you. Look at me?” His eyes opened again, forcing himself to look at all of Finn's fondness for him. The other gave another little smile, letting his thumb work into Poe's cheek, before it fell away. “I know it bothers you, but we'll work through it. I forgive you, Poe. You have to work on forgiving yourself. For me, okay?”
Poe bowed his head forward again, this time meeting with Finn's shoulder as arms wrapped back around him. He clutched on to the old leather jacket, slowly bringing his arms around Finn and taking deep, measured breaths. “I do love you,” he whispered, still a little shaky, yet feeling completely safe if unworthy in his lover's arms.
Finn's cheek nuzzled against his jaw and hair, eventually settling against Poe's shoulder. “I know.”
“You sure you don't want to stay a few weeks longer?”
“Sorry, dad,” Poe chuckled. “I know he's a good farm hand, but that's why the galaxy needs him, too.”
Kes slapped his son playfully on the arm. “Smartass, I meant you.”
“Me? I'm no good. Saw one calf being brought into the world, and I feinted dead away.” His dad put his hands on his hips, so Poe laughed and took him a bit more seriously. “I'm all right. Won't be flying for awhile anyway. As crazy as it might seem, I actually have other stuff I do over there, all of which is piling up as we speak.”
“If I didn't know any better, I'd say it sounds like busy work.” Poe shrugged, but Kes looked back to the front door. “I can make you sign a bunch of blank flimsies here if you want.”
“Not the same,” Poe laughed again, very glad for the mood change. “Besides, Finn actually has a job, too.”
“Right, right,” Kes sighed, chewing on his lip. “Call. Please.”
His father nodded. “When are you two coming back?”
That was always a loaded question, and Kes damn well knew it. So Poe just shrugged again. “You'll see me when you see me. Maybe after the rain stops.”
“I ever tell you that you got your mother's mouth?” Poe snorted a laugh right before his dad drew him into a bear hug, placing a kiss on the top of his head. “Be careful. You hear me, boy?”
“Yes, sir,” Poe sighed in gratitude and belonging, not defiance. “I always am.”
“I know, kid. I know you are.”
They released each other just as Miri was approaching them after having left Finn's side. She hugged Poe tightly without saying a word, so of course he had to go and break that heartfelt moment up. “Thanks,” he said quietly, loud enough only for her to hear, before speaking up. “Make sure dad's still here when I get back, yeah?”
“I'm not feeble,” his father groaned.
Miri, bless her, just chuckled and drew away, brushing the hair on his forehead aside. “Of course, I will. You focus on keeping yourself in one piece.”
“Yeah,” he nodded, watching from the sidelines as Finn and Kes shook hands, hugged, and spoke in low voices. Instead, Poe turned to R5-A3, who had been dutifully sitting on the porch and watching the entire scene like a droid that had been powered down for years. He and BB-8 were beeping at one another, but Poe still reached over and brushed his hand over the top of A3's dome. “Take care of yourself, champ.”
<Yes, Young-Sir,> it gurgled back. <Please return swiftly and safely.>
Whatever reply he had to that was cut off by BB-8 zooming off the porch and making a beeline for the shuttle. <Mission time! Mission time!>
“Not every flight's a mission, Bee,” Poe called after him, but apparently that was ignored.
“You ready?” Finn asked, suddenly by his side.
Poe nodded, said a few more last goodbyes, gave a few more waves, tried to not start crying just to create a chain reaction, and headed to the shuttle with Finn. They stored their things, and Poe fell into the co-pilot's seat with a deep sigh, hoping that leaving atmo wouldn't fuck around with his nausea or something.
“Hey,” Finn quietly whispered, tapping him on the shoulder. Poe turned and found himself met with a sweet kiss, the barest hint of warmth and tongue against his lips, before his lover pulled away as if he didn't leave him breathless. Finn just smiled at him. “I missed you.”
Poe smiled back, feeling that ache in his chest loosening into something much warmer and more familiar. He watched as Finn took the pilot's seat, starting up the engines, noting every move his lover made. Eventually, he nodded up at the hyper drive ignition. “You gonna prime the-”
Finn groaned long and low, priming the hyper drive. “I probably didn't miss this part.”
Poe laughed, petting the top of BB's head as the shuttle lifted off the ground and slowly cleared the trees of Yavin-IV.
“The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times
the same good things for the first time.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human
Finally! School knuckled down and got to me. It's finally let out for a week, though, but it was rough. Plus, there was the issue with my troll. To counteract them coming back from the grave again and making up stupid shit, I turned off anon for all of my fics. (Sorry! I love my anon commenters, usually.) Jokes on them since they raised my hit count. Oh, and replaying the entire Kingdom Hearts series probably didn't help with getting this chapter out.
Anyway, I'm doing Camp NaNo next month for my novel. I don't know when I'll get to Finn's POV, so follow the series I created to keep up with that.
Thank you all so much for leaving encouragement on this fic. Some things were bumpy and other things were questionable, but we all made it through. I really enjoyed writing this, exploring Poe's character and bits of existentialism in the mind through what he experienced. It was really interesting. Thanks for reading along.
I love you, guys. Thank you!