Poe visited Finn in medical every day. The med droids had begun treating him like part of the scenery and Doctor Kalonia merely smiled indulgently at him, responding to his frequent questions with calmly reassuring replies that never actually definitively answered anything.
Finn was fine. No one knew when he would wake up, but he was fine.
Or so they all told Poe.
Rey had been gone over a week now. Poe missed her steady optimism and her unwavering belief that Finn would wake up.
It felt harder without her.
Poe had always thought himself a pretty hopeful sort of guy. He figured nothing good came out of expecting the worst. Even so, he looked at Finn’s still face and found it difficult to remain optimistic, to hang onto Rey’s steady assurance that they would see him again, awake and well.
Sometimes he fell asleep with his head pillowed on the edge of Finn’s medical cot, his fingers brushing Finn’s hand or Finn’s thigh. Karé accused him of moping but she brought him meat pies when he forgot to eat and Iolo often sat in the corner and gave him heated up cups of caf.
Jess was already making boyfriend jokes. Snap said he had a bottle of Corellian brandy with Poe’s name on it for when he inevitably got his heart broken again. It sounded bad but that was just Snap’s way of expressing concern.
Poe was aware of how pathetic he was being. In terms of actual life experience, he hardly knew Finn at all.
He didn’t think that actually mattered.
He supposed it was an appropriate indication of his luck when Finn woke up while Poe was out flying. He came down out of his cockpit and Jess was there, smirking, saying, “Better hit the ‘fresher, Dameron, put on your cleanest shirt.”
Poe rubbed a hand through his sweaty mess of curls. “Why?”
“Don’t wanna let the boyfriend smell you before he sees you, do you?”
“Pava! You asshole, is Finn awake?”
Her smirk softening into something that was better termed a smile, she said, “Yeah, he’s up.”
Poe was off and running before she could say anything else, BB-8 speeding along after him. “Come on, pal, keep up!” Poe called. “Finn’s awake!”
BB-8’s excited chattering was only barely translatable, just a chorus of happiness and relief.
In the medical wing, Poe accidentally skidded into one of the droids, hurriedly apologizing as he edged around.
And then there was Finn, quietly resting as Doctor Kalonia checked the readings on her pad.
She saw Poe, gave him that benevolent smile again as she straightened. “Don’t stress him,” she warned. “That goes for you too, Beebee.”
BB-8 chirped indignantly but Poe was already squatting by Finn’s side. “Buddy, hey, Finn.”
Finn was smiling at him and just that small expression made Poe’s heart melt a little bit. “Hi, Poe.”
“How are you feeling? Sorry I wasn’t here, I was--”
“Off being a badass pilot?” Finn teased. “It’s okay. I know you you’re important around here.” He paused for just a second and then said, “Besides, Joph in the next bunk over told me you’ve practically been living here.”
Poe immediately looked over, saw Joph wink at him. Poe made the rudest gesture he knew in Joph’s direction. Joph blew him a kiss.
“They told me Rey went after Luke? You finished the map?”
“Yeah. Yeah, we did. Well, Artoo did.” After a protest from BB-8, Poe amended, “Artoo and Beebee, of course. Rey’s out of contact but she looked great when she left. Missing you, obviously, but otherwise…”
Finn dipped his chin in a nod. “I know she’ll find him. She’ll come back a big hero.”
“Speaking of big heroes, maybe next time you’ll think for a second before attacking Kylo Ren with a lightsaber?”
“He hurt Rey,” Finn said, as if that was the only explanation necessary.
It probably was. “I know, bud. I’m proud of you. Just… you scared me.”
Finn reached over and took Poe’s hand. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to.”
Poe rubbed his thumb over the back of Finn’s hand, smiling at him. “Just glad you’re okay.”
“I’m glad you’re okay, too. Joph told me you wouldn’t leave until you saw the Falcon; you disobeyed the general’s orders.”
“Joph talks too much,” Poe said with a glare across Finn’s bunk.
Joph innocently pretended he wasn’t listening.
“Hey, Poe,” Finn said, sounding almost nervous. “I think I’m gonna be stuck in here for a while. Therapy or something. You’ll still come visit me, won’t you?”
“You bet,” Poe said, as if there had ever been any doubt. He resisted the urge to raise Finn’s hand to his lips and kiss his knuckles. He wasn’t that pathetic.
From low towards the floor BB-8 inquired whether Poe would be sleeping in here with Finn tonight.
Joph laughed loudly, which startled Finn.
“What’d he say?”
Poe willed his blush away. “Never mind what he said. Get some rest, okay? I’ll be here.”
Next to the bed, for fuck’s sake.
“Rey would love this,” Finn said for about the hundredth time in the past couple of weeks.
“We’ll be sure to introduce her to it then,” Poe said, watching Finn delightedly scoop up another pile of noodles.
It was funny. At first Poe had actually thought he had a halfway decent shot at Finn. He had been just open enough, just interested enough, that Poe had thought maybe…
But the guy clearly adored Rey. That was cool, Poe supposed. Rey was a great girl, from what Poe had seen of her. Smart, resourceful, kind, brave. Hell of a face. Nice legs.
It was only… Well. Poe guessed maybe it didn’t matter. He had been half in love with Finn on that tarmac on D’Qar after Takodana. He didn’t think there was anything that could have saved him from this, not even figuring out earlier that Finn was already in love with Rey.
Finn licked his lips and grinned at Poe and Poe thought about how he would taste, thought about dragging his tongue over Finn’s skin, thought about sliding into Finn’s lap and grinding down.
Yeah, Poe was pretty sure it didn’t matter when he had realized Finn was into Rey.
The boyfriend jokes didn’t stop, even though Finn was awake but clearly not Poe’s boyfriend. Poe accepted that he was at least partially to blame; he did spend a hell of a lot of his free time in Finn’s presence. Karé stopped accusing him of moping and instead changed it to pining.
Poe couldn’t even pretend that was inaccurate.
When Finn was allowed to leave medical, Poe conveniently pointed out that there was an empty bunk in his room and did Finn want to have it? Finn had acted like this was the nicest offer he had ever had.
After the fact, Poe realized it had in fact been a poorly thought out plan. As were most of Poe’s plans, to be fair. All of them, probably.
Finn slept in only his underwear. This was torturous. In a good way, sort of, but still, torturous. Especially because now Poe had to put a lot of effort into making sure Finn wouldn’t be anywhere around when he wanted to jerk off.
He complained about this once and Iolo didn’t stop laughing for about two days.
The other drawback was that Finn’s shirtlessness meant that the scar on his back was frequently on display, pushing his injury to the forefront of Poe’s mind. It made him feel this surge of protectiveness, constantly, this desire to keep Finn safe and never let anything bad happen to him.
That was stupid. Finn was a grown man and Poe knew perfectly well that he was entirely capable and could very much take care of himself. He had taken on Kylo Ren with a lightsaber, for fuck’s sake.
Still. Finn got undressed in the evening and Poe looked over at him, saw that horrible, angry scar, and thought of him unmoving on the medical transport after Starkiller Base, thought of him still and hardly even seeming to breathe while he lay in a coma.
“Does it hurt?” he asked once as Finn folded up his pants.
Finn folded his clothes even when they were dirty and headed for the laundry service. Poe found this both adorable and painful, as a reminder of Finn’s rigid upbringing.
“Does what hurt?”
Poe nodded pointedly.
“Oh, that.” Finn seemed vaguely taken aback by the question. “Not really? Most of the time I forget it’s there.”
Standing up almost without the intention to, Poe found himself crossing the room, stretching his arm out until his fingers hovered over Finn’s skin. “May I?”
Finn shrugged. “Sure.”
Poe brushed his fingertips over the rough patch of skin, stretching from Finn’s shoulder blades to his waist, lightly, gently. Finn shivered beneath his touch and Poe drew his lip between his teeth, looked anxiously at Finn’s face. “Am I hurting you?”
Shaking his head, Finn said, “No, it’s just, uh, a little sensitive. No one’s touched it besides Doctor Kalonia, and sometimes the med droids.”
Focusing again on Finn’s back, Poe swept his fingers up the length of the scar, felt the difference between it and Finn’s smooth, unblemished skin. He wanted to see how it tasted, how it felt beneath his tongue, and let his hand fall away before he got carried away.
He stepped back. Finn was watching him, pupils somewhat dilated.
“Night,” Poe muttered, escaping to his bunk. He rolled over until he could only see the wall, willing his brain to stop conjuring up images of Finn beneath him, above him, Finn in his bed.
“Good night, Poe,” Finn said after a moment, and the light switched off.
“That actually worked?” Finn asked, eyebrow raised, side-eyeing Poe as they walked down the hall together.
His skepticism was insulting, really. This was an excellent story and Finn should be impressed with Poe’s ingenuity. “Well, I’m here, aren’t I?”
“I’m beginning to realize that I really shouldn’t be surprised that our first encounter was me helping you bust out of a Star Destroyer. You don’t do things the easy way, do you?”
Poe pretended to give that serious consideration. “The easy way? Is that the not fun way?”
“You kriffing dork,” Finn said, shaking his head, but Poe liked to think he did it fondly.
There was a divot in the floor, just before the corner; Poe knew because he had tripped over it more than once. Finn was looking at him, though, and Poe didn’t think, and before he had realized what was happening Finn stumbled.
Poe caught him awkwardly, an arm around his shoulders. “Whoa, you all right there, buddy?”
Finn was pushed up against Poe’s chest and Poe couldn’t quite seem to make himself let go, to let Finn settle back onto his feet. He waited for Finn to protest, to make some sort of joke, only he didn’t and he was actually leaning in, up and in.
Then Finn’s lips were pressed to Poe’s, soft but sure, and Poe couldn’t help himself.
He kissed Finn back.
It was a sweet kiss, soft and gentle, and Poe kept his eyes closed for a moment after they drew apart, savoring the sensation of Finn’s lips. Finn was smiling when Poe finally focused on him again, happy and pleased with himself.
Then he straightened, resumed walking as if nothing had happened, and all Poe could do was follow.
“I think you and Rey will get along great,” Finn said, and if Poe had let himself feel a sliver of hope, that killed it again.
“Sure,” Poe said, telling himself he wasn’t jealous of a cute girl who had never done a single thing to wrong him.
Predictably, Poe spent that evening in Karé’s quarters, flailing at her and Iolo. “I just don’t know what he means by it!”
Karé was starting to look bored. Probably Poe couldn’t blame her; he knew he had been talking in circles for the past half hour. “Maybe try asking Finn?”
Poe ignored that. “I mean, he’s in love with Rey, so what the hell is he doing kissing me?”
“Maybe he wants to have both,” Iolo suggested.
Poe eyed Iolo, attempting to discern if that had been a serious comment or not. Probably didn’t matter. Poe wasn’t sure Finn’s relationship boundaries stretched like that; the guy was so head over heels for Rey he probably couldn’t even see anyone else.
Except he had kissed Poe. An experiment, maybe? Practice? A way to pass the time?
Maybe it wouldn’t happen again. Maybe Finn had just wanted to see how it would feel.
Now he knew. He probably wouldn’t do it again.
Poe set to work convincing himself that he was fine with that.
“Oof,” Poe said as he landed on his back on the training mat.
Finn crouched down over him, very obviously amused. “You’re not even gonna try this time? Look, I’m not even touching you.”
“Buddy, that’s a cruel ploy and I’m not falling for it.” Again. Fool me twice, right? Poe was getting the idea that this “sparring session” was really just an excuse for Finn to show off.
Not that Poe particularly minded. He was fine with all the sanctioned touching and Finn kicking his ass was sort of hot.
Really hot. Poe thought he would like making a regular thing of this.
“Besides,” Poe said, “I’m obviously taking it easy on you. Not too long ago you were stuck in medical, remember?”
“I can feel the sarcasm radiating off you.”
“Let’s just say you’re clearly a pilot.”
“I’m hurt, Finn. You’ve wounded me deeply.”
“I could teach you some moves?” Finn offered but then he bit his lip, his gaze dropping to Poe’s mouth before flickering back up to his eyes. “Or maybe we could stay down here,” he said, and kissed Poe.
Poe made this wordless noise of surprise into Finn’s mouth. His hands drifted to Finn’s hips in a natural reflex and he parted his lips, let Finn kiss him deeper, exploratory, almost. He smelled of sweat and his skin was damp when Poe pushed his hand up underneath the edge of his shirt.
So much for it only being the one time, Poe thought, and let his mind fall pleasantly blank as Finn kept him pressed to the mat.
It happened again and again.
They never talked about it.
It felt vaguely like a relationship and Poe thought maybe that was the worst part.
Finn still brought up Rey at every opportunity. It was always, I wonder what Rey would think about this, or, Rey would go crazy over this, or, If Rey were here she would…
And on and on and on.
Poe told himself he didn’t mind. He didn’t care. He was clearly a stand-in but that was all right. Finn was happy. That was what mattered. They were having fun, right? He liked kissing Finn, and Finn must like kissing Poe or else he wouldn’t do it so often. The rest was just superfluous.
If Poe wanted more, well, that was on him. He had known from the start that wasn’t possible.
“I’m fine,” he told Karé for the hundredth time.
“Really,” she said, unimpressed.
BB-8 supported her, somehow managing to sound just as disbelieving.
“Really,” Poe insisted, glaring first at the droid and then at Karé.
“So when Rey comes back with Skywalker, you’re just going to step back, let Finn kiss his girl instead of you? You’re going to be happy for them? Watch them hold hands and giggle and make out in front of the Falcon?”
The thought made Poe feel sick to his stomach, actually, but he said, “That was always how this was gonna go. I knew that.”
BB-8 insulted his intelligence in binary.
Karé snorted. “Even your droid knows you’re a kriffing idiot, Dameron.”
“I’m fine, for fuck’s sake!” Poe said, his raised voice earning him a raised eyebrow from Karé. He got up, strode over to the door, met Iolo on the other side.
“Let me guess, you’re fine,” he said mildly.
“Fuck you, too,” Poe said and pushed his way out, not bothering to wait to see if BB-8 was following him.
The light in their quarters was off and BB-8 was powered down in the corner. Poe was almost asleep but not quite, hovering on the edge, thoughts flitting through his mind as he tried to banish them all away.
Finn’s quiet voice seemed oddly loud in the stillness. “Are you awake, Poe?”
“Can I ask you a question?”
“I’ll even let you have a second one.” Poe felt like he could see Finn rolling his eyes, even though he could only make out Finn’s outline in the darkness.
“How does it feel to wake up next to someone?”
Poe frowned. “Don’t take this the wrong way but that’s kind of a weird question.”
“Sorry. I just… You have, haven’t you? Gone to bed with someone and then woken up with them the next morning? I’ve never done it.” Finn’s voice sounded small and unsure.
“Uh, yeah. Yeah, I have. I guess it depends on your comfort level with physical closeness? I mean, if the bed’s big enough you can sleep with someone and hardly even know they’re there, but… I don’t know. It’s nice. I like it, anyway.” Poe closed his eyes, thought about it, imagined he was… “You feel warm, and safe, because you’re not alone. The feel of them there with you, the heat of your bodies pressed together, the smell of their hair or their skin.” Poe opened his eyes. “It’s nice.”
Finn was quiet for a while, long enough to wonder if Poe had misspoken, and then he said, “I’ve never been able to, you know. I’ve never slept alone, really, the dormitories were always full, and then the barracks, but I… I guess I just wondered how it felt. To be close to someone like that.”
“We can try, if you want?”
What. The. Fuck.
Poe didn’t know why he was talking, he truly didn’t. “I mean, my bed’s not that big but you’re welcome to it. If you want. You don’t have to. Up to you. I’m fine with whatever.”
For an endless, agonizing moment, Poe deeply, deeply hated himself. Then there was a rustle of movement as Finn got out of bed and Poe released the breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding.
He scooted over as Finn got in beside him and they nervously faced each other. At least, Poe was nervous.
“This is okay?” Finn asked. “You don’t mind?”
Since Poe couldn’t actually say that he had been dreaming about this very scenario for a disgustingly long time, he only said, “Nah, I don’t mind.”
A little bit tentatively, Finn leaned in to kiss Poe, his hand on Poe’s cheek. They gravitated towards each other until Poe could feel Finn’s warmth, the hard angles of his body, his bare skin beneath Poe’s hand.
Finn pressed his face to the front of Poe’s shoulder, breathed there, and Poe fell asleep in the steady comfort of his embrace.
The next morning was confusing.
Poe woke up and there was a warm body in his bed that wasn’t his own. His arm was flung over someone’s chest and there was a leg snaked in between his thighs and Poe had to sit there and digest it all for a while before he remembered.
He had suggested Finn sleep in his bed, because obviously Poe hated himself that much.
Finn is not your boyfriend, he reminded himself. Finn belongs to Rey. You’re just keeping him for her, for a little while.
But damn, it felt nice to wake up like this.
He moved closer, let himself breathe Finn in, watched Finn’s lips curve upwards into a smile.
“You were right,” Finn murmured. “This is nice.”
“Mmm,” Poe agreed, trying to hold off the moment where he would have to get up and begin the day.
“You’re very cuddly.”
“No, I like it. I wonder if Rey would? She’s a bit… prickly.”
That, that right there, that was Poe’s cue to get up.
“Guess you’ll find out soon,” Poe said, and climbed out over Finn.
Part of being in a war, Poe knew, was understanding that sometimes you didn’t win. Sometimes there was nothing you could do. Sometimes you got intel, you flew in, ready and prepared to do good, and then you realized you were too late.
They arrived to the village too late. If there had been any survivors, the First Order had taken them.
Finn’s face was hard and still. “The First Order,” he said. “That’s what they’re supposed to stand for-- order, order and law, but they… They say the New Republic didn’t care enough, let the galaxy fall into chaos, made themselves wealthy while billions starved. But the First Order cares above all for power and rule and if you don’t follow… Well. This is what happens.”
Poe didn’t say anything. He didn’t think there was anything to say.
While Snap organized the rest of their team in a clean-up effort, Poe and Finn went through all the buildings, checking. Just in case.
It was lucky he tripped, really. He doubted he would have noticed the latch in the floor if it hadn’t been literally right in front of his face.
Finn was already moving to his side, asking after him, but Poe held up his hand, listened. “Wait,” he said. “Wait, there’s--”
It was faint. He rested his ear to the floor.
“Careful,” he said, getting up into a crouch, hand on his blaster. Finn copied him from his feet, ready in case something went wrong.
Poe opened the latch.
The children blinked up at him in the darkness, eyes huge and frightened. They huddled together in a pile on the dirt-covered floor, gazing at him in terror.
“Stars,” Poe said, putting away his blaster. “It’s all right, it’s okay. I’m here to help you. We’re here to help.”
A girl with two conical horns on her head, a Gotal, said, “They told us not to come out, not for anyone but our parents.”
Poe glanced to Finn, seeing his own heartbreak reflected on Finn’s face. War orphans. They were war orphans because Poe had been too late. “I know. You’ve been very good, very brave. But my name is Poe and I’m here with the Resistance. You know the Resistance?”
“I’m going to help you, okay? I’m going to come down.” He went down the ladder, gesturing to Finn to come closer so they could see him, too. “That’s my friend Finn, he’s with the Resistance, too. Do you think you guys can climb up and meet him out there?”
The children all looked hesitantly from Finn to Poe. A little blonde-headed boy with dirt smudged on his face said, “Our parents will meet us?”
Oh, fuck. Poe squatted down in the dirt. “Your parents told you to hide down here because they were worried, didn’t they?”
“We heard shouting and fighting,” the girl said. “We were scared but they told us not to make any noise.”
They had rioted. It was why the Resistance had been coming here, to see if they could do anything. It had been a risk, traveling to a First Order occupied world, but if they could have…
“What’s your name, sweetheart?” Poe asked.
“That’s very pretty. It’s nice to meet you, Taia.” He smiled at her.
She smiled back, shyly, a gap between her teeth.
“We’ve never been to this planet before. Do you think you could go up and see my friend Finn, tell him about it?”
Taia raised her eyes to Finn, who waved at her. She said, “I guess so.”
“Thank you, Taia. Your parents would be so proud of how brave you’re being.” Poe helped her up the first few rungs of the ladder and then let Finn take over.
When she reached the top, Finn gently grasped her beneath her armpits and hoisted her up. Though he made a move to set her back down on her feet, Taia held on. Finn grinned at her, letting her bottom rest against his hip while her legs dangled. “Make me do all the work, huh?”
Taia laughed and Poe made himself stop watching them, trying to ignore the warm, achy feeling in his chest.
“Who’s next?” he said.
They passed a subdued flight back to base. Explaining to those children that their parents were gone was one of the most difficult, miserable experiences of Poe’s life. He knew how it felt to lose a parent. Poe had been lucky; he had still had his dad. He had his home. These children were all going to have to be relocated.
Snap was flying the transport back out of First Order space so he could hand the kids over to the authorities. It was the best they could do; the Resistance base was no place for children. They would have to trust that good homes could be found for them.
Anything would be better than what would have happened to them if Poe and Finn hadn’t found them. He tried not to think about them in that dank basement, scared and alone, and he tried not to think about Finn saying, “If the First Order had searched better, you know what they would have done, don’t you? The ones with the right potential would have gone into stormtrooper training, and the rest…”
Finn hadn’t finished. Poe hadn’t actually wanted him to.
Back in their quarters, Finn and Poe still weren’t really talking. Poe knew Finn had been upset by what he had seen; he knew Finn wanted to do more. He had carried Taia around on his hip like she belonged there, had told them all stories to distract them while Snap got the transport ready.
Poe watched Finn take off his jacket and hang it up carefully like he always did, everything properly in its place. Poe’s own jacket lay half on his mattress and half hanging off the side, flung there with little thought. Later, when he thought Poe wasn’t looking, he knew Finn would hang it up, too.
Now Finn was just standing in the middle of the room, looking faintly lost, and Poe…
Poe went over to him and kissed him, pressed one hand to the small of Finn’s back as if he could anchor their hips together. Finn made this quiet, sighing sound into Poe’s mouth, let Poe kiss him, slow and languorous, his hands sliding around Poe’s waist. He was smiling against Poe’s lips, Poe could feel it.
Pulling back only a little, Poe asked, “Why are you smiling?”
“Because you’ve never kissed me before.”
“Either your body’s been hijacked by another lifeform or my kissing’s a hell of a lot less memorable than I thought.”
“No, I’ve kissed you, but you’ve never kissed me. Not first.”
So Poe thought about it and maybe… Maybe that was true. Maybe Poe had been afraid to, afraid to push, to instigate, to fall into the trap of believing Finn was actually his, believing this was something he could have.
But Finn was smiling at him, his face so close that Poe could only focus on part of it at a time, his eyes, his mouth, and Poe desperately wanted.
“Is it okay?” he asked.
“Yeah. Yeah, Poe. Of course.”
So Poe kissed him again, over and over, lips sliding together, Finn’s hand in his hair. They stood there a long time, bodies pressed together, and Poe let himself pretend that this was real.
It sure felt like it was.
Rey came back on an early morning, the rain pattering down. Finn sprinted to meet her, boots skidding on the wet tarmac towards the open ramp of the Falcon. Rey ran into his arms and it was almost like a cruel parody of that day on D’Qar when Poe had first seen Finn again.
Only this time, they both looked at each other the way that Poe knew he must have looked at Finn.
Poe turned away and walked to the safety of the hangar, wet and sodden. That seemed fitting. He might as well look as miserable as he felt.
He lay on a hover board beneath Black One and preoccupied himself with unnecessary repairs. Snap came and sat next to him and had the decency not to say ‘I told you so’.
What he said was, “I’ve got that brandy, if you want it.”
“Yeah,” Poe said. “Yeah, I do.”
Poe was still in the hangar when he got cornered by Finn and Rey. Finn still looked like this was the greatest day of his life. Rey simply looked amused by him, her eyes bright, her smile smaller but no less real.
They were adorable. Poe wished he hated them.
Finn moved beside him, stretching one hand up to rest on the side of Black One. “You ran off so quick, wasn’t sure what happened to you. Have you been here the whole time? Suppose I should have looked here first.”
“Thought I’d let you have some alone time,” Poe said and made himself smile.
Finn’s smile was far more obviously genuine. “Really? That was nice of you, but you didn’t have to. Anyway, Rey! Rey’s here!”
“I can see that, buddy.”
Rey was rolling her eyes. “Hi, Poe.”
“Rey,” Poe said and hugged her, because that was what he did. And it was what they did, apparently, so might as well keep up the tradition.
Finn beamed at them both. “Hey, maybe we can all have lunch? So we can talk? The three of us?”
The three of us, Poe thought and looked at Rey. It was really kriffing over.
“Sorry,” he said. “I’ve got a meeting.”
Finn’s face fell but he recovered quickly from his disappointment. After all, Rey was here. What else mattered? “Maybe later then?”
“Sure, buddy,” Poe said, lying through his teeth. Later he was going to be getting drunk on Snap’s brandy and mourning his life choices.
Though he wasn’t prepared to admit it, Poe was afraid to return to his own quarters. He didn’t want to see Finn. He didn’t want to see that Finn wasn’t there, leaving him to wonder what he was doing with Rey.
It was fortunate, then, that Snap let him spend half the evening sprawled on his bed with that brandy, getting progressively more inebriated. Poe talked a lot and Snap was kindly accommodating. He only called Poe variations of the word ‘stupid’ a few times.
Well, more than a few. But it was kindly meant. That was just Snap.
Poe knew that if he wanted him to, Snap would go find Finn right now and defend Poe’s honor.
Poe didn’t want him to; there was nothing to defend. Finn hadn’t done anything wrong. Poe appreciated knowing it, in any case.
After that, though, Poe still didn’t want to have to return to his own room so instead he went on slightly unsteady legs to Karé’s quarters.
She seemed to have been expecting him. She let him take up space on her bed, settling beside him.
“What did you think you were doing?” she asked.
“I’m not sure I was doing much thinking, honestly.” Poe wasn’t certain it was wise to do much thinking right now, actually. Or talking. He didn’t trust his brain.
Snap always had the best booze on base.
“I don’t know why you keep doing this to yourself. Don’t you think you deserve better than to be someone’s second choice?”
“I just wanted him,” Poe said, hearing his voice crack. He leaned against Karé, needing the comfort of her body pressed to his.
She pulled him close, stroked her fingers through his hair. “I know, babe. I know.”
“Did you even sleep last night?” Finn asked, finding Poe in the mess at lunchtime.
“Of course,” Poe said, avoiding Finn’s eyes.
“But you never came to bed.”
Poe felt his skin flushing at that particular turn of phrase, the words that had been so poorly chosen, no doubt unintentionally. Did Finn have any idea how much Poe desperately wanted to have the right to go to bed with him? “Was up late talking. Slept in Karé’s room.”
“Oh. Okay. But you’re all right?”
Finn sounded truly concerned so Poe tried to smile reassuringly. “Sure, yeah, of course.”
“Maybe… maybe next time, let me know where you are? Not to nag you or anything but I was kinda worried.”
Honestly Poe hadn’t been sure Finn would even notice, what with Rey here now. “I’m sorry, pal. I’ll try not to disappear on you like that.”
Finn nodded firmly. “Good.”
Then Poe stood up, clearing his tray. “I’ve gotta go, training thing.”
There was that strangely disappointed expression again. Poe wondered where Rey was. With Luke, maybe.
Finn held out his hand, palm up. Poe took it.
“See you later? For real, this time?”
Poe gave Finn’s hand a squeeze. “Promise.”
He did see Finn later. He saw Rey, too.
He knew he should have been ashamed by how long he paced the halls until he could finally force himself into his own damn room. Finn was there, and so was Rey, each of them sitting cross-legged on Finn’s bed. Finn was absently rubbing Rey’s ankle but he smiled when Poe came in.
“Finally! Thought we might have to go searching for you.”
“I got caught up, sorry,” Poe lied. “Hi, Rey.”
“Hi, Poe.” Rey’s smile was shy and sweet and impossible to fail to be endeared by.
Poe settled on his own bed, leaning his back against the wall with his knees bent. He didn’t know what he was supposed to say to them and all he could think was, I’ve been kissing your boyfriend for weeks, while he thought about you.
So he said, “I haven’t thanked you. For finding Luke. That was my mission but without you and Finn…” I would have failed, Poe thought. The most important task Leia had ever given him and it would have been a spectacular failure.
It had been a spectacular failure, in all honesty, at least as far as Poe’s role was concerned. Captured so he could give up his most valuable secret to the people Leia had least wanted to know.
“You did the hard part,” Rey said charitably. The worst part was that she seemed to mean it.
“I think probably getting Beebee off Jakku was the hard part. Not to mention getting him back to the Resistance after Kylo Ren personally came to collect him. Then there was--”
“We get the idea, Poe,” Finn interrupted.
“I see what you mean about him,” Rey said, faintly smiling.
Poe looked at Finn. “What? What does she mean?”
Finn was outright grinning. “Nothing.”
“Are you telling lies about me?” Poe slid his gaze over to Rey. “Is he telling lies about me?”
“I don’t think they’re lies,” Rey said but then rather than elaborating, she shifted her position and stood. “I’ve gotta go to bed, Luke’s got something planned for me in the morning. I’m worried, to tell you the truth. He had that look on his face.”
“So, not going to be fun?” Finn asked.
“Hardly likely,” Rey said. She kissed the corner of his mouth and waved to Poe. “See you tomorrow?”
“Definitely,” Finn said, and then Rey was gone. He looked at Poe. “Want to watch a holofilm or something?”
Watching a holofilm meant sharing the same space and probably meant that Finn would crowd all up against Poe. That didn’t sound like such a good idea anymore. “I’ve actually got some early morning meetings,” Poe said by way of an excuse. “I should probably get some sleep, too.”
“Oh. Okay.” Finn got up to take his shirt off and Poe watched him for one torturous moment before he looked away, lying flat on his back on his bed.
Why, damn it, why did I do this to myself?
“You’re gonna sleep like that?” Finn asked.
Poe made himself look at Finn again, standing there in only his underwear. Whereas Poe was still fully dressed aside from his shoes. “Maybe?” But he was being stupid, he knew he was, so Poe wriggled out of his clothes, slightly awkwardly, without getting out of bed. He flung his shirt and pants over the side onto the floor and then buried himself beneath the sheets. “Happy now?”
“You’re a dork,” Finn said but he was smiling. He leaned down to give Poe a quick kiss on the lips that Poe was too startled to avoid before he got into his own bed. “Night, Poe.”
“Night,” Poe said.
He stayed awake for a long time.
It would have been easier, maybe, Poe thought, if he didn’t like Rey.
She was guarded in a way that Finn wasn’t, always half a step back, always carefully assessing. She wanted but she didn’t ask and it made Poe want to give her things, do things for her, earn that bright smile. He gave her food off his plate and a turquoise stone hanging on a leather cord he bought in a shop on a planet in the Mid Rim just because he thought it would look nice around her neck, because he thought she might like it.
It did, and she did, and it made her hug him, too, thin arms around his neck. She looked embarrassed when she pulled away but she wore the stone constantly after that, hanging just beneath her shirt.
It gave Poe this weird, achy feeling in his chest. He wondered if he had actually given Rey her first gift though of course, Finn must have given her things. Still, though. It seemed like such a small thing, a necklace, not even an expensive one, from someone Rey probably only loosely considered a friend, and yet…
Poe tried not to think about it.
But he liked noticing the cord around her neck and he still pushed sweets and rolls and fruit off his plate and onto hers whenever he couldn’t think of an excuse to not eat with her and Finn.
Because he did try. Finn and Rey always sat next to each other, giggling and talking over each other and touching each other constantly, stealing each other’s food and generally being disgustingly adorable. It was a bit much, honestly. Poe thought he could only be expected to deal with so much and this was definitely past the limit.
But it wasn’t like he could just stop hanging out with Finn because Rey was here now. Finn was still Poe’s friend and Poe was still desperately, hopelessly in love with him, which meant that he hated seeing Finn make his sad face when Poe made excuses not to sit with him. Sure, Poe was maybe making an internal sad face whenever he had to watch Finn and Rey be soppily in love with each other, but it was sort of a matter of which seemed the bigger ill at the time.
And Poe liked Rey. He almost wished he didn’t, but he did.
He was in the hangar, drilling into Black One, when Rey came over to him, her face a little flushed and her lightsaber at her hip. “Finn said you were in here,” she said.
“Can I do something for you?” Poe asked, setting down the drill and wiping his hands on the back of his pants.
“Is it okay if we just talk?”
Talk. She wanted to talk. “Uh, yeah, sure, of course.” Do you wanna talk about how I’m in love with your boyfriend?
“You and Finn grew close while I was on Ahch-To.”
Oh, fuck. She already knew. Finn had told her, of course he had, he’d told her that Poe had happily kissed him for weeks, that he had never once said no, that he’d enjoyed their fake relationship, that he’d…
Rey probably hated him. He was surprised she hadn’t thrown the necklace in his face yet.
Poe said, “I didn’t mean--”
“I’m not accusing you of anything,” Rey hurriedly interrupted, as if she were concerned for his feelings, like she thought she might have upset him. “I’m glad, honestly. I’m glad he had you.”
“Wasn’t like it was difficult,” Poe said, feeling his face heat up. Kriffing hell. Maybe she didn’t know, after all. Or could she actually not mind?
Well, it wasn’t like Poe was a threat to her.
“You care about him. That gives us something in common.”
Poe looked closer at Rey’s face, noticing the nervous way her eyes were flickering from Poe’s face to his hands to his ship and back to his face. She was trying, he realized, even though she didn’t know quite what to do. She was trying to be Poe’s friend.
“More in common than that, I think,” Poe said, gesturing to Black One. “You want to help me, maybe? Finn couldn’t stop raving about how good you were in the Falcon the whole time you were away.”
“He did? Well, I am pretty good.”
Poe smiled at her. “You know a bit about X-wings, too, I think?”
She shrugged. “There were some beat-up T-65s on Jakku that I scavenged from, but nothing like this.” She reached for Black One and then hesitated. “She’s a beautiful ship.”
“I think so,” Poe said, running his hand over the smooth metal side. “Beebee says she’s the best ride of anything I’ve ever flown.”
“I suppose it would be rude to ask if I could fly her sometime.”
“Well, maybe after I’ve shown you a few things. Not that I don’t trust you.”
“But you don’t trust just anyone with your best girl,” Rey teased.
“Exactly. But hey, Beebee could go with you, he knows this ship as good as I do.”
“And to pay you back, maybe I’ll let you fly the Falcon sometime.”
Poe was positive his expression must have been shining with greed. Maybe even some lust. The slagging Millennium Falcon. Sure, she looked like a hunk of junk but the Falcon was amazing. “I’m not sure Chewbacca would approve.”
“Chewie will grumble a little but he says yes to everything I ask,” Rey said with a mischievous smile.
Poe laughed. As he watched her face, that sweet, impish smile, Poe thought he understood Chewie’s position. It must be difficult to deny anything to that face.
Looking back on it, that was probably the moment it all started to get too complicated.
“Poe,” Finn called out, and Poe turned to see Finn and Rey both hurrying towards him. They were holding hands.
Poe felt his heart clench. “Hey.”
“Remember that underground spring you took me to? I thought maybe we could show Rey.”
No, no, no. He absolutely did not want to take Finn and Rey to the picturesque, romantic underground spring so they could cuddle on the rocks and make out half-clothed in the warm water. Or completely unclothed. Poe didn’t know how adventurous they were.
Wait, he did. Pretty damn adventurous. “Sure, but you don’t really need me there. You know where it is now.”
“Iolo said you weren’t busy.”
Damn him. “Might be nice for the two of you to go on your own.”
Finn frowned. “Actually, I thought it might be nice for the three of us to go together.”
Wow, great. So Poe could be the awkward hanger-on. He glanced at Rey.
“Maybe we could spend some more time together,” she suggested, spinning the turquoise stone at her neck between her fingers. “I mean, if you want.”
Poe was pretty sure he couldn’t say no now, not without hurting Rey’s feelings, which he certainly didn’t want to do. “Okay. Yeah, it’ll be fun.”
Maybe it would be. Poe liked to think optimistically.
They left in an hour, as the sun was just starting to set. It would be fully dark by the time they returned but it had been a clear, pleasant day and there was no reason to assume the night would be any different. Finn and Rey had clearly been planning this because they had packed a basket of food, no doubt wheedled out of the kitchen staff by way of their sweet smiles and cajoling words. Not even the droids were unsusceptible, as Poe had observed firsthand.
Leaving the speeder outside the cave entrance, Finn grabbed the food while Rey took off without waiting for anyone else.
“Rey, wait a second,” Poe called, going after her. “Let me go first.”
She stopped, though she made a face at him. “I’m pretty sure I could figure it out, Poe.”
“Just don’t want you to roll an ankle or something; I don’t want to have to explain to Luke why you’ve got to take a day off from Jedi training.”
“So thoughtful, isn’t he?” Finn said, grinning and clapping Poe on the shoulder. “Well, go on then, fearless leader.”
“Try to do someone a favor and this is what you get,” Poe said with an exaggerated sigh. It made Rey giggle, so, mission accomplished.
Inside the cave it was dim, only a little light seeping in through the entrance and through cracks in the rock walls. The deeper they got the darker it became so Poe pulled out the small flashlight he had brought to light their way. He only needed it briefly, however, because the spring itself was mostly open to the air, the rock above having caved in at some point in the distant past.
Noticing this, Rey said, “We’re close?” She was trailing her fingertips over the mossy wall as they walked, noticeably downhill.
“Close,” Poe agreed.
The slope grew steeper and they could hear the trickle of water faintly in the distance. Almost… And then there it was, the wide pool, clear water tinted blue and green.
“Careful, it gets a bit…” Poe watched as Rey flitted past him, halfway down the slope already. “Slippery,” he finished.
Finn grabbed Poe’s outstretched hand. “You can hold my hand instead, Poe,” he said with a grin.
Poe felt painfully like the consolation prize, which he knew wasn’t Finn’s intention, but still. He made himself return Finn’s smile and squeeze his hand. “It’s like you’re making all my dreams come true, buddy.”
Finn huffed in amusement as they followed Rey down the path to the spring.
She already had her shoes off and was sitting at the edge, dangling her toes in the water. She peered back over her shoulder at them. “It’s warm!”
“Yeah, it’s naturally heated,” Poe said while Finn took off his boots and rolled up his pant legs, making himself comfortable by Rey’s side.
They were knocking their shoulders together and smiling at each other, feet swinging, skimming the water, and Poe wondered how he could have ever thought he had a chance because they were perfect.
“This would be a great place to work on your swimming, Rey,” Finn was saying, jarring Poe out of his melancholy thoughts. “It’s just deep enough and the water’s clear so you can see the bottom.”
“And it’s warm!” Rey said. “I can’t stand getting in when it’s cold.”
“Because you’re a desert baby.”
Rey smacked him. “Not any kind of baby, thanks. Aren’t you going to sit with us, Poe?”
Startled, Poe blinked at her. “What?”
“Come on, get your feet wet. The water’s nice, I promise.”
“Yeah, you got in when it was just us,” Finn pointed out. “Enjoyed yourself, even.”
Poe’s ears were heating up. He didn’t need Finn to remind him about last time. “No, I’m okay, I’ll just…” Stand here? Because that wouldn’t make him look like an idiot.
Rey leaned over to trail her fingers into the pool, flicking water at Poe. “Relax, Poe, come on. You’ve been so tense lately.”
“Maybe he needs an incentive?” Finn suggested before slipping out of his jacket and pulling his shirt off over his head. Rey whistled when he discarded his pants next, just before hopping off the edge and into the water.
He beamed at Poe. “Water’s great, just like she said, Poe!”
Poe thought he must be as red as his kriffing flight helmet. “Uh, I don’t think I will, buddy, I…”
But before he even knew what was happening he went flying off the rocks, head ducking under the water. He came up spluttering, still in all his clothes. “Kriffing hell!”
Rey was grinning at him from the ledge. “You just had to do it the hard way, huh?”
Finn was laughing like he had never seen anything funnier in his life and Rey just sat there looking pleased and Poe… Poe couldn’t even be irritated. Fuck. He was actually happy, he was happy that Rey was happy, that she was smiling and laughing, that Poe could give her something good even if it had been by accident. She deserved so much good in her life.
He threw his sodden jacket onto the rocks and tugged at Rey’s ankle until she came flailing in, too, landing practically on top of Poe. She held onto his shoulders and laughed and laughed, and Poe held her waist and looked at Finn, looked at Finn’s wide grin, and wondered how he could ever have thought, even for a moment, that Finn could love him when he had Rey right there in front of him.
“You’ve been in here all day,” Rey said, approaching Poe where he was buried to his elbows in the innards of Black One.
Poe pulled his hands back, running one through his hair. “She felt off on my recon flight, she’s not turning right. Thought I could fix her but I can’t seem to manage it. I took her out again this afternoon but she’s not quite…” He shrugged. He knew how Black One felt. She didn’t feel right.
Rey was a pilot. She’d get it.
“Maybe I can help? Finn was worried.”
She shrugged. “You know.”
Poe didn’t know, actually, but he wasn’t sure how to push further without, well, being pushy.
“What if we try this,” Rey said, gently nudging Poe out of the way, fingers moving nimbly within the jumble of Black One’s wiring. “Can you hand me the-- Thanks,” she said, tongue between her teeth as she concentrated.
Poe leaned over her, watching what she was doing, a slow smile spreading over his face. “Brilliant,” he breathed. “Brilliant! You’re brilliant!”
“I am,” Rey said, grinning up at him, a rosy flush in her cheeks. She wiped the back of one filthy hand across her forehead, leaving a streak of grease smeared in its wake.
Poe was fairly certain he had never seen any woman more beautiful in his entire life and that was when he realized he was absolutely fucked.
When Poe went that evening to see Karé, he found her sitting on her bed with Jess, obviously having been in the middle of something.
Too bad. This was way more important.
“Karé,” Poe moaned, flinging himself face-first onto the bed and jostling both women in the process. “Karé, I think there’s something wrong with me.”
“I’ve been telling you that since the day we met,” Jess said.
“What specifically is wrong with you now?” Karé asked, somewhat more charitably. Somewhat.
Poe hid his face in his arms, muffling his voice. “Rey has a really pretty smile, don’t you think so?”
There was silence.
Then Jess said, “If she weren’t with Finn I would’ve tried to hit that.”
Then Karé said, “Please, Poe. Please tell me you aren’t saying what I think you’re saying.”
Poe said, “I could tell you that but I would be lying.”
Karé smacked the back of his head. “Poe!”
“I think I’m missing something here,” Jess said. “Unless… Oh, no. Kriffing hell, even you can’t be that stupid and masochistic, Dameron.”
“No, he can be. Believe me.”
“She’s so good with ships,” Poe said into Karé’s pillow.
“What the fuck,” Karé said.
It had been suggested to Poe that he fell in love too easily. Mostly by Karé. Poe preferred to think of it this way - he was simply lucky enough to be surrounded by people who were so amazing he couldn’t help but fall for them.
The problem was that they didn’t always fall for him, or at least, they didn’t fall as hard.
Sometimes they didn’t fall at all.
It wasn’t like Poe could blame Finn and Rey for seeing each other rather than him. He loved them, after all. It was only logical that they would love each other.
He wondered sometimes what might have happened if he and Finn hadn’t been separated in the crash on Jakku, if they had found Rey and BB-8 together. Maybe then… But of course it didn’t matter. Finn had met Rey on his own, had shared an adventure with her, had shared pain and anguish with her. They had formed an inseparable bond while Poe had been far away and that was okay.
It was unfortunate for Poe but that was just… Well, there wasn’t anything he could do about it. He looked at them and wanted things but it wasn’t their fault that they didn’t look at him and want the same things.
Now he just had to live with it.
Their quarters were empty because Finn was with Rey. This was… good and bad.
Poe both hated and loved thinking of Finn with Rey. There was a part of him that guiltily fantasized about what they did together, imagined them together in his head, Rey’s lips on Finn’s skin, Finn’s hands skimming over her thighs. He was sure there was something terrible about this, something dirty and wrong, but he couldn’t quite stop himself.
Then there was the part of him that was desperately, achingly jealous. There was something terrible about that, too.
But Poe was alone, and he was lonely, and he craved what he couldn’t have outside his own head. All he had was his own imagination. That, and his hands.
He lay on his back and pushed his pants down his hips, gripped himself. He remembered how it had felt to wake up beside Finn’s warm weight; he held onto that memory.
He closed his eyes and imagined Rey sitting astride him, grinding down, slipping her shirt off over her head, leaving the bright stone just above her breasts. He almost thought he could feel her slight weight, her narrow hips beneath his hands, smooth skin and small breasts. She was leaning over him, hair falling in a sheet around Poe’s face, and Finn, Finn was kissing down her spine, making her gasp sweetly against Poe’s mouth.
In his mind Poe was reaching for Finn and then -
Poe’s eyes flew open. He swore and yanked his pants back up though it was obviously far, far too late to salvage his dignity. Poe’s cheeks were burning and he guiltily looked at someplace above Finn’s head where he was standing in the doorway.
“Sorry,” Finn said. He sounded far too amused by this. “Er, can I help?”
He wanted to die. Right now, Poe would like to die, yes, actually that would be excellent. If only someone would take pity on him and put him out of his misery. He rolled over onto his stomach, hissing as he crushed what was left of his erection against the mattress. “No, thank you,” he managed to say, voice muffled into his pillow. “That won’t be necessary.”
Finn was laughing even as he said, “Sorry. Didn’t know you had plans tonight.”
Poe could practically hear the eyebrow-waggling when Finn said ‘plans’. “Thought you’d be gone all night with Rey.”
“Obviously. Though I’ve gotta admit, I’m a little hurt you wanted private time and not, you know. Together time.”
What the hell. This wasn’t happening. Finn couldn’t possibly know what he was doing; he wasn’t that mean.
He really didn’t know. He really didn’t know that Poe -
Well, why should he?
But this wasn’t fun anymore, not for Poe. Maybe Finn thought he could have both, the girl he loved and the guy who was fun to kiss sometimes, but Poe wasn’t having fun anymore.
He really, really wasn’t.
“I’m tired, buddy,” Poe said, turning over to show his back to Finn. “I’m just gonna go to sleep.”
After a while, Finn said softly, “Okay, Poe. Sleep well.”
Poe didn’t sleep well. He never did.
“Do you think I could ask Leia to station me somewhere else?” Poe asked Karé. “Just for a while, until I can…” Get over how pathetically in love he was with people he couldn’t have? And how kriffing long would that take? “Maybe I can relocate to one of the small bases and command their squadrons, so…”
“So you don’t have to look at them anymore?” Karé’s eyes were wide and serious, her gaze intent on Poe’s face.
“Yeah. Yeah, I guess so.”
“I told you this would happen, didn’t I? I told you not to get involved with Finn. I told you you would only get hurt.”
“I know, okay? I know.”
“This is pathetic,” Karé said. “You have to stop. No more of this moping, Poe, I won’t have it. What are you doing in the morning?”
Somewhat startled at the abrupt subject change, Poe hesitated before saying, “Cleaning Black One, probably? I have a late morning meeting with the general and I thought beforehand--”
“Now you’re going to be sleeping off your hangover. I’ll make sure you’re presentable in time for your meeting.”
“We’re gonna have a small get together,” Karé proclaimed in that special tone of voice that meant absolutely no arguing. “Snap’s got booze. Iolo’s got a couple new bottles of something weird, probably potent.”
“I was gonna say terrible, but, you know, whatever.”
“Poe,” Karé said, gaze steady. “You can’t keep pining after what you can’t have and I can’t keep watching you do it. Have some fun, okay? For me.”
Honestly Poe didn’t feel at all in the mood for fun and he wasn’t sure how to have any when he felt like this, but it was Karé. He would do a hell of a lot more than try to have a few drinks and relax if it was Karé asking.
“I guess I can get drunk if you really want me to,” he said.
Karé’s mouth twitched into a small smile. “Oh, the sacrifices you make for me, Dameron.”
“I’m an excellent friend.”
Squeezing his hand, Karé said, “You are.” It wasn’t a joke, or sarcasm, or anything. She meant it. “I want you to be happy, Poe.”
Poe turned his palm over so he could hold Karé’s hand. “I want that, too.”
Karé’s idea of a small get-together seemed to mean that most of the staff on base, pilots, mechanics, and everyone in between, were meandering in and out of the common area. Apparently everyone was in on the ‘get Poe drunk’ plan because his glass was always full and he was never alone.
It was okay, really. He felt more relaxed than he had in a long time and while he knew it was just an illusion brought on by the alcoholic buzz in his head, it felt sort of nice anyway. He laughed at Jess’ stories, he rolled his eyes at Snap and Karé’s vaguely adorable inept dating techniques, he got beat by Iolo at holochess.
He was actually kind of having fun so it was as much as Karé could have hoped for.
Then someone put on some music with a good beat and Poe was warm and comfortable and a little tipsy, so he found Jess and dragged her into an open area on the floor so they could dance. Poe had always liked to dance; something about it just felt freeing.
Jess was grinning, her black hair loose and bouncing around her shoulders, her hands on Poe’s hips while they exaggeratedly ground against each other, more silly than sexy. “I’m just saying, Dameron,” Jess said over the music, “if I didn’t know you were such a fucking dork this would’ve been fun sometime. You and me.”
“You wouldn’t know what to do with me if you had me, Pava,” Poe said, sliding his hands up Jess’ waist.
“That a challenge? ‘Cause I can take you in the hall right now and fucking blow your mind.”
Poe laughed but before he could say anything, there was a voice behind his ear saying, “Whoa, hey, slow down there, guys, no one wants to see that.”
“You’re just hoping I’ll make the offer to you, Seastriker,” Jess said.
Joph came around to stand between them, one hand on Poe’s hip. “Nah, actually, I was kinda hoping to cut in with Dameron.”
Poe snorted while Pava gestured rudely at Joph and said, “I need another drink, you enjoy him, Dameron. He’s sure as hell never gonna be lucky enough to get any of me.”
“You know I’ve always said you’ve got a fine ass, Pava, don’t be sore,” Joph called after her, but she only raised her hand to make that gesture again without turning around.
“You’ve really got a way with the ladies,” Poe said, easily switching track to dance with Joph instead.
Joph chuckled. “We can’t all be as charming as you.”
“Not that charming, clearly, or else we wouldn’t be here.”
Forehead creasing, Joph said, “Hey, I thought this was a moping-free night.”
“Probably need another drink,” Poe muttered, moving past Joph and towards the counter where Snap had set up a makeshift bar. He didn’t even know why he had said what he had. He had been having a good time; he had actually managed to stop thinking about the sorry mess of his lack of a love life for a while.
Snap intercepted him on the way, glass in hand. “Karé thought you might need this.”
Poe took a swallow, feeling the sharp burn down his throat. He knew this didn’t solve anything. He knew tomorrow morning when he woke up with his hangover he was still going to be in love with Finn and Rey and they still wouldn’t be in love with him.
But it was nice to not think for a while.
Poe finished the drink and gave the empty glass back to Snap, who rolled his eyes. Then Poe grabbed Joph’s hand and pulled him over towards the back of the room, where the crowd was thinner, where they could be at least somewhat alone.
“When you said you wanted to cut in, how far were you willing to take it?” Poe asked, one hand on Joph’s hip and the other at the back of his neck.
Joph’s eyes looked wide and dark. He moved even closer, the heat from his body seeping into Poe. “What are my options?”
“Whatever’s gonna make me forget for a night.”
“Pretty damn far, then,” Joph said, pressing his lips to Poe’s.
Joph’s lips were soft and he smelled warm and woodsy, with that underlying pilot smell that Poe thought hung on all of them, engine oil and the hangar bay. He kissed like he wanted to get somewhere, impatient, hands wandering.
It was nice, for a while. Poe thought he might like to let Joph get somewhere; he suspected it would be enjoyable. Quick and thoughtless and fun, and maybe that was what Poe needed.
But Joph kissed his neck and Poe watched the room, watched Finn come in with Rey, holding hands, smiling at each other, looking around like they were trying to find something. Their eyes met and that…
That was it. Poe could fuck Joph and it wouldn’t mean anything and that was the problem. He could fuck Joph but he would be thinking about Finn and Rey and he didn’t think that was fair to either of them.
“Sorry,” Poe said, pushing gently at Joph’s shoulders. “Sorry, I can’t… This isn’t gonna work for me.”
Joph stroked his hand down through Poe’s hair, over the back of his neck, his small smile mostly wry. “Shame. Would’ve been fun.”
“Would’ve been,” Poe agreed, slipping away.
He didn’t see Finn and Rey again and maybe that was for the best. He found Iolo so they could pass that bottle of something weird and definitely potent between them until Karé took him back to her room and he passed out in her bed.
Nothing changed. It had been nice, to pretend for one night that Poe didn’t have a broken heart, but he could only pretend for so long. He knew Karé was concerned and that she wasn’t the only one but Poe didn’t know how to fix this, how to make it better, how to make himself stop caring for people who were unavailable.
He spent long evenings with Black One, hiding in the hangar bay as the sky outside grew darker and darker, while BB-8 hovered and made mournful noises and wondered why Poe didn’t ever want to sleep anymore, why Poe spent so little time with Finn and Rey, because didn’t Poe love them anymore?
“That’s the problem, pal,” Poe said to him, wrench in hand. “That’s the whole problem.”
He was actively avoiding Finn and Rey now, as much as he could, with Finn giving him big, hurt eyes whenever Poe made excuses not to sit with him, with Rey constantly inserting herself into Poe’s space. Finn obviously didn’t understand that there was a problem and Rey seemed determined to ignore it.
Poe knew he had to say something. He couldn’t go on like this. He just wasn’t sure how to say, please leave me alone because I love you, without sounding like some combination of an idiot and an asshole.
As Poe continued on in an anxious spiral of moping and stalled momentum, he knew it was only a matter of time before someone said something to him first. That someone turned out to be Finn.
“Have I done something wrong?” he asked, cornering Poe on the tarmac, his deep, brown eyes wide and sad in his face.
“Why would you ask that?”
“Because you’ve been weird, Poe, and don’t think I haven’t noticed. I’m not stupid.”
“I would never--”
“And you never even want to be around me, and you haven’t kissed me since Rey came back, and I know that party the other night was for you. No one would give me a straight answer but I know it was for you. To cheer you up. But if you need cheering up shouldn’t I know why? Why won’t you talk to me?”
When Finn paused for breath, Poe found himself unable to fill the silence. What in the hell could he say? The only thing you’ve done wrong is not love me the way I want you to? You and your girlfriend?
Poe just kept standing there like an idiot.
Eventually Finn said, “I saw you with Joph. At the party. Is that… Is that what you want?”
“That was nothing. Failed experiment.”
Finn moved closer, putting his hands on Poe’s hips. He ducked his head, leaning in, and Poe wanted this, fuck, his traitorous body reveled in the feeling of Finn so close to him, the heat from his body, the warm puff of his breath. Poe couldn’t make himself move away.
“Tell me what’s wrong, Poe,” Finn said softly. “Tell me what I should I do. I hate how we’ve been, so far apart.”
Poe hated it, too, but he didn’t know what was worse. Being close but not close enough, or letting Finn and Rey slip away.
Finn was turning his face, pressing his lips to Poe’s temple, and that was what finally gave Poe the impetus to push Finn back. He couldn’t do this.
“This isn’t fair to Rey,” he said, forcing himself to meet Finn’s eyes. “And it isn’t fair to me.”
Karé was right. Poe deserved better. He deserved better than this.
Finn looked so confused, obviously hurt by the way Poe was pushing him away. “Poe, I don’t understand.”
But Poe was interrupted by an urgent beeping, indicating the arrival of a comm. “It’s the general,” Poe said. “I’d better…”
“Yeah,” Finn said. “Yeah, okay. Go be important.”
Then there was another beep.
Bring Finn with you.
Poe had an uncomfortable feeling that he knew what this would be about.
It was even worse than Poe had expected. Not only was Poe being sent on a mission with the person he was trying to avoid, but he was also being sent with the other person he was trying to avoid. Rey.
If he hadn’t known Leia better, he might have thought she was doing it on purpose.
Well, actually, she might be, in a secondary sense. A bonus, if you will. Get the mission taken care of and bully Poe into dealing with his shit.
Leia had always been good at multi-tasking.
The flight was horribly uncomfortable. Poe had claimed the cockpit for himself, insisting that he didn’t need help – or company – and Finn and Rey were in the back somewhere, maybe talking, maybe making out. Poe was trying not to think about it.
He wondered if they ever talked about him. He wondered if Finn was telling Rey all about how weird Poe was, about their interrupted conversation. Which, all right, they probably should have been continuing but Poe couldn’t – he couldn’t do it now, not when he needed to be focused and ready for what was ahead of them. When Poe finished that conversation, he was gonna need to have some time afterwards to fall apart.
He wanted Finn to be happy. He wanted Rey to be happy. He truly, truly did.
But he thought he was allowed to be sorry that he wasn’t happy, too.
Finn and Rey appeared as the ship dropped out of hyperspace, coming up from the back to stand on either side of Poe’s chair. Poe felt hyper-aware of their presence, of the sweet smell of Rey’s hair, of Finn’s fingertips pressed to the back of the chair.
“We’ll reach the surface soon,” Poe said, striving to keep his voice flat and even. “Our contact should meet us in the spaceport. Remember, we’re just a bunch of smugglers for hire. The general wants us to help these people so maybe they’ll help us in the future, so we don’t want to draw any undue attention to ourselves or to them.”
“We know, Poe,” Rey said. “We were at the briefing, too.”
“I know, I just--”
“I’m a practiced liar, remember?” Finn said, and Poe could hear the grin in his voice without even looking. “I think we can handle this.”
“I know,” Poe said, pressing a switch on the console. He trusted them, he did; he just didn’t want to admit that going over their mission yet again was the only thing keeping him from thinking about how his personal life was about to go to complete shit, as soon as they finished that conversation.
The mission went to shit, too. Poe supposed he should have figured.
It was fine, at first. All they were doing was moving mechanical parts across the planet’s surface for wealthy not-quite-criminals sympathetic to the Resistance.
It was the band of actual criminals that proved difficult.
“You need to go faster, Poe,” Finn urged, firing his blaster.
“Buddy, believe me, if this thing went any faster I’d be going faster.” Poe applied more pressure to the stick anyway, even though he knew he’d reached the speeder’s limits. He swerved, putting some zig and some zag into their path in an attempt to throw their pursuers. Or at least, to avoid the blaster fire.
Rey was actually standing in the back, maintaining her balance, lightsaber out as she deflected the oncoming fire, and Poe wished he was better able to appreciate the sight of her because he was really kriffing impressed. It was the sort of thing that made him want to get her in a bed. Shame that was inappropriate on multiple levels.
The speeder in pursuit of them continued to gain ground, no matter how erratic a path Poe took. In a moment they’d be on them. Poe considered an abrupt turn, just facing them head-on, in the hopes that maybe a sudden offense would catch them off-guard.
Before he could say anything Finn had climbed up out of his seat beside Poe, making his way to the back end of the speeder.
“What the hell are you doing?” Poe exclaimed
“Finn, don’t,” Rey said, sounding a bit frantic, but Finn ignored them both.
He ducked blaster fire coming in close to his ear and balanced on the back end of the speeder. Poe realized what he was doing just too late, and then Finn was gone, leaping over the short distance and flinging himself onto the enemy speeder.
Poe swore, barely managing to keep steady. The gap between them increased without any effort on Poe’s part, as their pursuers fell back, distracted by Finn.
“Get me closer!” Rey shouted at him and Poe swung the speeder around. Rey barely waited, throwing herself at their opponents just as Finn had done.
She landed a bit more nimbly than Finn, swinging her lightsaber back up to hand, and Poe pulled up to avoid crashing into the other speeder. Finn seemed to have lost his blaster, grappling with someone in the back. Frustrated and feeling helpless, watching his friends in danger, Poe reached for his own weapon, hoping he might be able to get in a lucky shot.
It all happened so fast that no one had time to react. Poe was just trying to hold steady and avoid crashing, looking for an opening where he could be sure he wouldn’t hit one of his friends by mistake, while Rey was preoccupied in her own fight. Finn had his guy half-hanging over the side but he must have lost his balance, stumbling when the speeder veered, and Poe saw him take a nasty blow to the head as both he and his opponent toppled over the edge.
“Finn!” Poe spared a glance for Rey but she was shouting at him to go as she dispatched one of the criminals with her blade through his chest.
They hadn’t wanted to kill anyone. What a kriffing mess.
Trusting that Rey could handle herself, Poe sped over the ground to where Finn had rolled. He had only just come to a stop before he vaulted out of the speeder, blaster in hand. The man Finn had been engaged with lay there some distance away, unmoving, a pool of red on the ground beneath him.
Finn lay there unmoving, too, and Poe crouched at his side. “Finn, oh, Finn, buddy,” he breathed, fingers trailing over Finn’s body as he assessed the damage. He was breathing, thank the Force, and it didn’t look like anything was broken, but he was still and quiet and his head was bleeding. Poe removed his jacket and balled it up, pressing it to Finn’s wound as he cradled his head in his lap.
He started at the sound of a crash, looking immediately in the direction of the other speeder. He saw smoke billowing up and his stomach turned over. Rey.
But before he could do more than uselessly call her name, he saw her, running, deactivated lightsaber in her hand. “Is Finn all right?” she yelled, worry written all over her dirty face.
“I don’t know,” Poe said honestly. “He’s breathing but he hit his head; he’s not waking up. He needs a doctor.”
Rey knelt in the dirt beside him. “Closest thing we’ve got here will be at the rendezvous point.”
“I know. We still have to get the goods where we promised we’d get them.” Poe hated that he needed to consider the mission with Finn… with Finn… But Finn wouldn’t thank him for doing something stupid and it would take them longer to get back to the spaceport anyway. He didn’t think they had any other options.
They would finish their mission and get Finn help at the same time. Hopefully by then he would be awake, or… Or at least stable enough that they could take him back to base and Doctor Kalonia. That was all Poe could do.
He stood carefully, grunting a little as he heaved Finn over his shoulder as gently as he could. “Come on,” he said to Rey. “Let’s move.”
She nodded, chewing at her lip. “He’ll be okay.”
“Yeah,” Poe said. “He will be.”
Poe couldn’t accept anything else.
“This is becoming an unfortunate pattern,” Poe said as he and Rey sat by Finn’s bedside in medical, watching the steady rise and fall of his chest.
Rey trailed her fingers over Finn’s hand where it lay there at his side. “He should be less heroic.”
“It’s bad for my heart,” Poe agreed.
Rey raised her eyes to Poe, her gaze intent. “After Starkiller, when… It helped having you. I know we didn’t really know each other but I could see how much you cared about him, and that… It made me feel better knowing that I wasn’t the only one, that you were as worried as I was. And when I left, it helped knowing you would be there for him when I couldn’t be.”
“I tried to be,” Poe muttered, feeling embarrassed. He didn’t deserve Rey’s gratitude. After everything he…
“You’re in love with him, aren’t you?” Though it was phrased like a question, Poe knew it wasn’t really a question. Rey already knew the answer.
There was no point in lying. “I’m sorry.”
“I knew he was yours, I knew… But I couldn’t stop myself. I’m sorry.”
“Don’t apologize,” Rey said, her tone sharp and angry. “Why would you apologize for that? Poe, you can want things. You shouldn’t feel sorry about that. You shouldn’t feel sorry for how you feel. You just keep… torturing yourself, like there’s something wrong with feeling the way you do, but you can--”
She stopped talking when Finn’s monitor started beeping, her expression going tense and anxious. She reached for Poe’s hand like a natural reflex.
A med droid came over, shortly followed by Doctor Kalonia. Poe watched them work anxiously, focusing on the feel of Rey’s hand in his, like a comforting anchor.
After a few minutes the doctor smiled at them. “He’s waking up,” she told them. “It’s a gradual process but he should be fully awake soon. He might be a little out of it at first, perhaps a little tired, a little woozy, but he’ll be fine.”
Poe felt relief flood through him like an ocean wave. Rey’s grip on his hand tightened and she was smiling. “Thank you,” she said.
Doctor Kalonia brushed her hand over Rey’s shoulder as she turned to walk away. “I’ll be nearby if you need me.”
Rey still had the sweetest, sweetest smile and Poe couldn’t help but return it. “He’ll be fine.”
“Yes,” Rey said. She was still holding Poe’s hand and she didn’t let go.
Doctor Kalonia hadn’t been lying when she said that Finn might be a little out of it. Even after he fully woke, his eyes were slightly unfocused and he seemed confused, trying to get himself up out of bed like they were still on the mission, like he still had an objective to complete.
Poe leaned over him, pressing him back down. “It’s all right, Finn, you’re safe, we’re all safe, we’re back at base. You were hurt, remember? But everything’s fine now. You’re fine.”
“Fine,” Finn murmured, settling again. He blinked up at Poe. “You’re pretty. Has anyone ever told you that? You’re so, so pretty.”
“Thanks, buddy,” Poe said, amused, sitting back a bit and patting Finn’s hand. “You’re not so bad yourself.”
“Should I leave you boys to be alone?” Rey asked, grinning.
“Rey!” Finn said, like he was only just noticing she was there, too. “You’re pretty, too, especially when you smile.”
“It’s a good job I smile a lot, then.”
“Definitely,” Finn agreed with a wide smile of his own. He and Rey sat there looking sappily at each other for a while, long enough that Poe started to think he needed to excuse himself.
Then Finn said, eyes darting from Rey to Poe and back again, “But you’re both okay?”
“Asks the guy in the infirmary,” Poe said. Frag. Could he love this man any more?
“We’re both okay, Finn,” Rey assured him. “We’re just glad that you are, too.”
“Likewise,” Finn said, a bit sheepishly. “Still, it’s not so bad, waking up to two beautiful people watching over me. How’d I get so lucky, huh?”
Poe wanted to shrink in on himself, become smaller, somehow, so maybe Finn wouldn’t pay him any mind.
Except Finn was looking at him. “We were having a conversation, Poe, that we didn’t get to finish. And I think we should. With Rey, too.”
“Well,” Poe said, flustered, “maybe now’s not a good time, I mean, you’re not yourself, you’ve only just woken up, and Doctor Kalonia said--”
“I’m perfectly capable of talking.”
Finn said, “I don’t see why this has to be so hard. You both like me, right? And you like each other. Don’t you?”
“Maybe not in quite the right way,” Poe said, risking a sideways glance at Rey. She looked disappointed for some reason and Poe wondered if she was just that disgusted by the suggestion she could like Poe.
“Well, how are you gonna know unless you try?”
“Um,” Poe said, his cheeks suddenly feeling over-warm. He looked at Rey again.
“Oh, for--” And then she kissed him.
Rey wasn’t aggressive, exactly, but she kissed like she knew what she wanted, intent and focused. The brush of her tongue, a nip at Poe’s lip.
Poe realized maybe he had read this entirely, entirely wrong.
He moved forward on his seat, let his lips part, kissed her harder. His hands went in her hair; she sighed into his mouth. Somehow she ended up half in Poe’s lap, like she was trying to climb onto him, get closer, and when they drew apart Rey’s eyes were only half-focused, her cheeks flushed, her mouth wet. Poe figured he must look much the same.
“You don’t have to stop,” Finn said, the sound of his voice making both of them turn. “I mean, it’s pretty clear you were enjoying that, and I know I was.”
“Actually, if there’s going to be that much tongue involved, perhaps you could wait until you are out of my infirmary, please,” Doctor Kalonia interjected from across the room, a spark of amusement in her eyes.
Finn actually laughed but Rey flushed as red as Poe had ever seen her. She moved fully back into her own chair.
“Sorry,” Poe said, only slightly abashed. It had been a good kiss. He wasn’t about to regret it.
“No apology required,” Doctor Kalonia said, giving them a smile before she turned away.
“I’m not actually sorry,” Poe said, his eyes on Rey’s face, but he was nervous now. Was that it? Would she think now, realize what they’d done, would she…
But Rey was smiling at him, that bright, sweet smile he loved so much, and she took his hand. Finn rested his on top.
“You shouldn’t be sorry,” Finn said. “That was sexy.”
Rey laughed even though her cheeks were still flushed. “Glad you approve.”
“Yeah, actually, I think it’s gotta be my turn, don’t you think? Especially because I’m the one injured here.”
“You poor thing,” Rey teased, leaning forward to press her lips to Finn’s.
Their hands slipped apart as they moved and Poe couldn’t help watching them, how easy they were together, the familiarity in the press of their mouths. Finn was holding the back of Rey’s neck, his fingers sliding into her hair, and Poe felt like a sleemo, intruding on their private moment.
Except when Rey pulled back they were both watching Poe, gentle and kind.
“Please, Poe,” Finn said, as Rey moved to take Poe’s hand again, tugging him towards Finn.
“You’re allowed to have this, Poe,” she said. She said it like a person who knew how it felt to think you couldn’t have, would never have, what you wanted most.
Poe didn’t know why he was so terrified. He had kissed Finn before, so many times, and now he had kissed Rey. He had been wrong, he had been so wrong, and they actually… They wanted him, and they could do this. He could have this.
All Poe had to do was say yes.
He looked at Finn, and he looked at Rey.
Finn’s lips were as soft as Poe remembered and he recognized the upward tilt of Finn’s mouth as he smiled into the kiss.
“There,” Finn said, his thumb brushing Poe’s chin. “That wasn’t so hard, was it?”
“We don’t have time for hard, buddy,” Poe joked, and Finn groaned, smacking Poe on the shoulder.
“Kriffing hell, Poe.”
Poe finally smiled, at Finn’s disgusted, exasperated expression, at the way Rey was wrinkling her nose even as she giggled. He thought maybe that he had never really had a choice; he had been theirs from the moment they had first smiled at him.
It had just taken him a while to realize that they knew it, too.
The weather was sunny and mild and Rey had taken her lightsaber outside to train, standing in an open, grassy field just beyond the base to move through the lightsaber forms. Poe and Finn were watching her, sitting on the ground and soaking in the sun. Poe felt languorous and content, idly stoking his fingers over Finn’s thigh while Rey moved in the near distance. He liked watching her, her elegant, lithe movements.
He particularly liked the fact that now he knew how those movements translated when she was in bed.
“There’s something that’s been bothering me,” Finn said.
“You thought it didn’t mean anything when I kissed you. You thought I was just killing time until Rey came back.”
Poe looked to Finn, the easy contentment of the moment fading just a little. “Sort of. Yeah.”
“Did you really think I could be that cruel? That I wouldn’t care about your feelings?” He seemed hurt and Poe had never wanted that.
“I guess I thought you weren’t doing it on purpose. I thought maybe you thought it was the same for me, that we were just having some fun.”
“I’m not an idiot, Poe. I knew how much you cared about me.”
“You’re not very good at hiding things, you know.”
“So everyone keeps saying,” Poe grumbled, mildly disgruntled. Apparently he was totally transparent.
Whatever. In any case, Finn’s statement raised another question. “So if you knew, then why didn’t you say something?”
Finn looked uncomfortable, like he knew he had made a mistake but hadn’t realized it at the time and didn’t know how to apologize for it now. “I just… I wanted you to like Rey, too, I wanted you to like her as much as I did, because I wanted… I didn’t want to have to choose. I guess maybe that was selfish.”
“No, Finn. I just thought you already had chosen. I figured you’d picked Rey. Because why wouldn’t you?”
Finn frowned at him, his brow furrowing. “Why wouldn’t I? Like there’s something wrong with you?”
“No, I just… I just thought…”
Reaching out until he was cupping Poe’s cheek, like he wanted to make sure Poe was looking at him, Finn said, “I was lucky that you wanted me. You’re not a back-up, Poe, and if I made you feel like that then that’s on me. Because you’re worth more than that; you’re worth so much more.”
Poe remembered Karé saying that he deserved better than to be someone’s second choice. Turned out he wasn’t second choice; he had never been that for Finn. He didn’t know what to do with this warm flush of pleasure building within him, with Finn’s focused gaze. He raised his hand to Finn’s where it rested against Poe’s cheek and pulled it down into his lap, loosely holding hands with Finn while he broke eye contact.
Poe watched Rey across the clearing, the graceful way she moved, the flow of her limbs as she trained almost like a dance. She was beautiful. They were both so, so beautiful.
“I was never a distraction for you,” he said softly, finally truly understanding. “This was what you wanted the whole time. I just never caught on.”
Finn was blushing faintly. It was cute. “I thought… I didn’t know how to say it. I’m, uh, I guess I’m not good at talking about these things, I’ve never… Relationships, you know? It’s still kinda new to me, and I figured you must’ve done this sort of thing before, I figured it was okay for you. But I’m sorry, Poe. I’m so sorry. I didn’t want to hurt you.”
Finn wasn’t the only one who had made a mistake. “You don’t have to apologize, Finn. I never told you. I was just… I wanted you so bad, however you would have me. It never occurred to me that you wanted me, too.”
“So pretty but so dumb,” Finn said, smiling, and then he was curling into Poe, hand sliding over Poe’s neck, their mouths meeting.
Poe was so caught up in Finn, in the sensation of his warm mouth and his body, that he didn’t notice Rey had shut off her lightsaber and walked over until she was standing in front of them and saying, “If you guys are gonna make out you could at least do it when I can watch.”
Finn chuckled against Poe’s lips and then they drew apart. Poe smiled up at Rey. “Just giving you an incentive to finish early.”
She dropped down to her knees in the grass, leaning forward to kiss Finn, then Poe. She was smiling into his mouth. “It worked.”
Rey put her hands to their chests and pushed them back until they fell into the grass. She settled herself between them, interlacing her fingers with theirs. “Did you figure out that you’ve both been stupid idiots? Are you done now?”
“We’re done now,” Finn said, a bit sheepishly, not denying any of it.
“Good,” Rey said, satisfied.
Poe lay there and looked up at the blue sky. He told himself, I can have this. This is mine.
He was happy.