“You aren’t serious,” Finn said.
“Do I look like a cat person?” Snap said, struggling against the black and orange mottled cat in his arms. Apparently admitting defeat, he let the cat drop to the ground, whereupon it immediately ran over to Finn, twining around his ankles and mewing loudly.
Finn stared at the cat. The cat stared hopefully back.
“It’s loud enough to be Poe,” Finn admitted.
The cat rubbed its face against Finn’s shin.
“They promised he would be back to normal soon,” Snap said, rubbing the back of his head. “Soon-ish. We told them he’s kind of important and they promised.”
BB-8 added something mournful and anxious-sounding in binary from where he was lingering in place behind Snap’s legs. Finn’s grasp of the language wasn’t as good as Poe’s but the intent came through clear enough.
The cat was still mewing, butting its face more vehemently against whatever parts of Finn it could reach. It went up on its hind legs, bracing its front paws on Finn’s leg.
Snap sighed. “Just pick him up, would you, for kriff’s sake?”
Finn looked down, meeting the cat’s eyes in a staring match he knew he could never win.
He bent down, holding out his arms, and the cat victoriously crawled into Finn’s grasp, curling against his chest and rubbing its face underneath Finn’s chin. Stroking the cat’s long, soft fur, Finn said, “Well, he likes hugs as much as Poe.”
The cat’s fur was kind of ridiculously pretty, too. Finn hadn’t even known cats’ fur could be this nice.
“Can he be your problem for now?” Snap asked. “He’ll be happier, I’ll be happier…” He trailed off meaningfully.
The cat was purring and kneading his paws into Finn.
BB-8 beeped out the most recognizable phrase Finn knew. [Assist Partner-Poe!]
Then something else Finn couldn’t entirely understand, but which made Snap snort. “Nah, I’m not offended, Beebee. Everybody knows Poe likes Finn better than he likes me.”
Crap. It really was Poe.
“He can be my problem,” Finn said with a sigh.
Poe purred louder.
“He’s a very beautiful cat,” Rey said, later, while Poe purred in Finn’s lap. “I suppose Poe would make a beautiful cat.”
Poe’s contented rumbling increased in volume and he closed his eyes.
“Don’t encourage him,” Finn said, scratching behind Poe’s ears.
Rey took pointed notice of that. “Right. It’s me we should be worried about.”
“If I don’t let him do what he wants he sulks and annoys me.”
Rey made a half-laughing, half-snorting sort of sound. “You certainly seem to be suffering.”
Finn felt his skin heat up. “He’s very soft,” he said defensively.
“Uh huh,” Rey said. “I still don’t understand how this happened.”
“I don’t think Snap even understands and he was there. Some sort of cultural misunderstanding, I guess, and they thought they were doing him a favor? I don’t know. They said it will wear off when he’s fully benefited from the experience. Or something.”
“He seems relaxed enough now.”
“Yeah, until something happens and he won’t be able to help. Because cat.”
Poe emitted a low, throaty sound that seemed to indicate concern.
Finn rubbed the back of Poe’s neck. “I’m sure you’ll be back to yourself soon.”
Rey was watching them with a careful, interested gaze. “Can I hold him, do you think?”
Finn shrugged. “Be my guest. He likes it.” He lifted Poe off his lap and the cat protested weakly, disgruntled at the sudden movement.
He settled quickly though as Rey held her arms out for him. She pulled him in to her chest, gently maneuvering him into place, squashed against her breasts with his front feet braced against her.
Poe seemed to realize where he was situated, bits of his human-ness sparking through his cat brain, and he lifted up one paw like he was trying to stop pressing his feet against Rey’s breasts. He mewed very softly, like an apology.
Rey was smiling at him. “It’s okay, Poe.” She cuddled him tighter until he had no choice but to either relax against her or struggle free completely, likely scratching her with his pinpoint nails in the process.
He chose to relax, tucked against Rey’s chest, bumping the top of his head against her chin.
“You do remember that’s actually Poe, right?” Finn asked, absolutely not jealous whatsoever of a cat.
Rolling her eyes, Rey said, “Yes, Finn, I know it’s Poe.”
“It’s just, he’s, well, you know.” Finn stopped talking at the arch of Rey’s eyebrow.
Poe looked rather pleased with himself. Finn couldn’t tell how much of that was Poe and how much was the cat.
Rey shifted, and Poe settled more securely against her chest. She stroked one hand over his back. “He is very soft.”
“I never got to have a pet,” Rey said, rather mournfully. She looked like she didn’t want to let go ever.
Poe’s eyes had drifted closed again and he was sinking farther down into Rey’s lap, his head resting between her breasts.
Not jealous, Finn thought, and then, she never had a pet. But the cat is Poe. Kriffing hell.
“This is just all kinds of weird,” Finn said. “Because, still Poe.”
Rey ignored that. “How aware is he, though? I mean, is he still processing everything as Poe? Or is a bit of him just a cat?”
“He’s aware enough that I put his waste pan in the refresher because he refused to use it otherwise.”
Poe mewed in what might have been embarrassment but Rey was laughing and scratching his ears. “Poor Poe.”
He seemed mollified by the attention, leaning into Rey’s touch.
“You’re milking this for all it’s worth, aren’t you,” Finn said.
Poe closed his eyes.
Finn had dinner in his quarters by himself for Poe’s benefit. Seemed kinder than making the cat eat in the mess amongst the pilots who were meant to respect him when he was human-shaped; there just wasn’t a dignified way to eat a bowl full of shredded meat when you lacked opposable thumbs.
He passed the time talking to Poe like he was just Poe, instead of a cat. Poe couldn’t respond in any meaningful way but he watched Finn with large, observant eyes and talked back with a vocabulary that was sort of impressive, if only Finn could understand what he was saying.
Before bed, Finn stood gazing at the two bunks where he and Poe normally slept, Finn on the bottom, Poe on the top. Poe sat back on his haunches beside Finn.
“It’s kind of high,” Finn observed. “I can put you up there if you want.”
Poe was just watching him, tail twitching.
“Or, hell, I don’t know, you’re a cat. I guess you can probably climb up yourself.”
Poe jumped up onto the low bunk, the bunk that was Finn’s, and curled up.
“Or I guess you can sleep in my bed. Whatever.” Finn pulled his shirt over his head and stepped onto the low rung of the ladder, preparing to climb up to Poe’s bunk.
Except Poe mewed loudly, drawing Finn’s focus to him.
Poe mewed again, scratching at the blankets.
“Yeah, I can see you’re sleeping there. That’s why I’m going up.”
The mewing got more insistent and Poe stood on his four legs, walking over to bump his face against Finn’s calf.
Frustrated, Finn went to sit on his bunk. “I can’t tell what you want, Poe.”
Poe climbed into his lap and lay down.
“Seriously? You want to sleep with me.” The back of Finn’s neck heated up. “You know what I mean.”
Poe kneaded his paws into Finn’s thighs.
“You’re kriffing needy as a cat, Poe,” Finn said, to which Poe only mewed.
Finn pushed him over, earning a hissing grumble, so that he could stretch out beneath the blankets. Poe settled by Finn’s knees, pawing and kneading at the blankets like he was trying to push them exactly the way he wanted them. Finally he curled up, his small, warm body pressed against Finn.
It was weirdly comfortable, not that Finn was going to admit it.
“Night, buddy,” Finn said, and Poe purred.
Poe wasn’t exactly useful as a cat the way he was when he was human, but all the same he insisted on hanging around the hangar while his pilots fixed up their ships. He would sit on his haunches next to Jessika Pava and make encouraging noises as she talked about modifications to her engine she was thinking of and he would go over to Snap and push at tools with his nose, nudging them closer to Snap’s grasp.
“Thanks, man,” Snap would say idly, ruffling Poe’s fur with one big, grease-smeared hand.
“Resistance mascot?” Finn said to Rey, watching.
“Don’t say that where Poe can hear you,” Rey said, snorting a laugh.
“I mean, Poe’s already on posters, and he’s certainly photogenic enough as a cat…”
“He’s going to bite you. Look, he’s glaring over here. He knows.”
“He does not. His hearing isn’t that good.” Still, Finn decided it might be best not to push it.
Poe’s teeth were sharp.
“He’s got to be frustrated,” Rey said, more seriously. “Not much he can do like this.”
“Yeah,” Finn said. Poe was circling around Black One now, eying it with a longing even his cat features couldn’t disguise. Finn walked nearer with Rey, just as Poe sprang up, scaling the side of the ship until he was perched on one wing.
“Cat Poe is a hell of a lot more graceful than actual Poe,” Finn remarked.
Poe narrowed his eyes into slits before starting to carefully wash his paw.
“Um,” Finn said, pausing inside the doorway to General Organa’s small office. “General?”
The general raised her eyes from her datapad, seeming entirely unconcerned by the cat perched on her shoulder, tail twitching while he examined what she was reading. “Yes, Finn, thank you. I understand you’ve taken on the responsibility of Dameron here?”
Finn couldn’t stop staring at the way Poe was curled over the general like it was no big thing, and the way General Organa seemed to think it was no big thing, too. “Uh. Yeah, I mean, I room with him anyway? When he isn’t a cat? So it seemed logical. Plus Snap really didn’t want to do it. Uh. Ma’am. Sir.” Damn it.
General Organa’s lips were curving with amusement. “Captain Wexley is better with droids than pets, it’s true.”
Poe flexed his nails in the general’s shirt, not enough for her to actually feel it (Finn was fairly certain that even as a cat, Poe would balk at the idea), but just to register his presence.
“Yes, Dameron, I am aware you are a pet in appearance only, though if the gossip is to be believed, you’ve been getting around the base regardless.”
Poe’s little cat face looked almost abashed.
Finn said, “Actually, he’s kind of good for morale. Everyone likes to pet a fluffy cat.” Well, almost everyone. Iolo was allergic and there were a couple of alien species Poe’s current form definitely didn’t agree with.
“Yes, I’ve heard that, too,” the general said. “Though having him in a cockpit serves us, and morale, a bit better, I think.”
“It’s not his fault.”
The general was watching him very carefully, but Finn couldn’t place her expression. “I am aware.”
“Sorry,” Finn mumbled, worried that it sounded like he was criticizing her. “What did you want, General?”
That faint amusement was back in her face again. “Actually I was only going to ask if you needed anything. A military base isn’t particularly suited for feline needs.”
“Oh. No. Thanks. He doesn’t need much, really, and he just sleeps in my bed.” Finn felt brilliantly hot. “Er. I mean--”
General Organa waved him off. “I don’t need to know. Just keep me informed? Not of your sleeping arrangements, please, but of his general progress. Force willing this won’t go on much longer, but if you run into trouble, I’d like to be made aware.”
She nodded at him. “Off with you. Take Dameron with you. He’s shedding all over me.”
Poe jumped off her shoulder and slunk away towards Finn, tail low. Finn was less sure if it was embarrassment at the conversation or if it was just more frustration at his predicament.
“General,” Finn said as he left, trying not to trip on Poe as he went through the door. It was a close thing, and he was fairly certain the general was laughing at him as the door slid closed.
“Come on,” Finn muttered to Poe, who was still weaving in between his feet. “Let’s find Beebee, he was looking for you. You know he gets anxious.”
Twenty minutes later, Poe was napping on top of BB-8’s domed head.
BB-8 seemed unperturbed, so Finn let them be.
Poe’s predicament lingered. Every time Finn asked Snap, hey, I thought you said he’d be himself soon? or, what exactly did the aliens say? or a dozen other variations on the same theme, Snap only shrugged and said, “I’ve got nothing, Finn, I told you everything they told me. Hell if I know when we’ll have the commander back.”
So Poe remained a cat, mostly cheerful when he paraded around the base, sometimes genuinely happy when he dozed in Finn’s lap or chased pebbles Rey tossed about with the Force or sometimes just with her hands, but increasingly maudlin at his lack of ability to help them. Finn wished he knew what to do.
After spending the morning making repairs to a busted shipment of blasters, half an eye on Rey while she practiced lifting and balancing small objects with the Force, Finn found Poe out on the tarmac gazing mournfully into the distance.
“Hey,” Finn said. “Hey, Poe. Hungry?”
Poe ignored him, not even offering so much as a sideways glance.
“Pava and Karé just took off on a recon flight,” Snap said, coming up alongside Finn. “He’s kinda bummed. Hasn’t moved since they left.”
“Oh,” Finn said on an exhale. He crouched down next to Poe, not touching him. “Okay, buddy?”
Poe mewed very quietly. He was still looking at the sky.
“It’s not forever,” Finn said, even though he had no guarantee that was true. This was supposed to help Poe, that was what Snap said the aliens had said, but he was just miserable.
Finn didn’t know how to help him and he hated it.
He said, “I think Rey was going to help Chewie with the Falcon. You want to come?”
After a moment, Poe dragged his gaze away from the sky and towards Finn. He mewed again.
“Yeah, come on,” Finn said, and let Poe climb up into his arms. Straightening, Finn ignored Snap’s obvious smirk and held Poe up to his chest while he walked.
Rey was just approaching the Falcon from the opposite direction as Finn arrived. Her eyes crinkled when she smiled, soft and genuine, and she reached out to scratch behind Poe’s ears.
“Brought a helper,” Finn said, and Poe rubbed his face against Finn’s chin.
“Finn,” Rey was saying, and Finn blinked his eyes.
“Huh?” First he looked towards where BB-8 had been projecting the holofilm they were watching, but there was nothing there now and BB-8 was powered down in the corner. Then he noticed the ache in his neck that likely was due to the odd position he found himself in, his head bent at a weird angle against Rey’s shoulder.
“It’s over?” Finn said, because that was an easier thing to acknowledge than the fact that he had been dozing on Rey.
“The ending was terrible,” Rey said. She felt warm wedged up against him and she smelled distracting, a combination of her plain Resistance-issue soap, sweat, and oil from the Falcon that Finn didn’t think he should find as appealing as he did. “Wish I’d slept through it.”
Finn wondered if he should move but he really didn’t want to and Rey didn’t seem anxious for him to – at least, she wasn’t shoving him off her – so he stayed where he was. Of course, considering, he wasn’t sure he could have moved if he had wanted to.
Poe had stretched himself over Finn’s thighs and, as though that wasn’t good enough, he was stretched out over Rey as well, his head against her belly, his own belly partly exposed like he was waiting for cuddles. Finn stroked him absently and earned a low, contented rumbling.
“I miss Poe,” Rey said quietly. “But this is pretty good, too.”
“Yeah,” Finn said, barely audible even to himself.
He didn’t know what made him do it except that he wanted to, and he thought he had for a long time.
Rey was so close and it was easy to turn into her, to catch her lips in a kiss. She was surprised but she responded immediately, lips pressing to Finn’s, her hand on his cheek. It was soft and chaste and so, so perfect, and Finn was smiling when they moved back.
There was the tiniest of flushes in Rey’s cheeks but Finn only had a moment to notice before his gaze was drawn away from her pretty face.
Poe was scrambling away from them, that rumbling purr completely vanished. Finn honestly hadn’t realized an animal could look as utterly dejected as Poe looked right then.
“Aw, Poe,” Finn said, grabbing for him, Poe struggling in his grasp.
Finn let him go and Poe sat there looking between the two of them. Finn desperately wished he knew what Poe was thinking, and that a cat’s facial expressions were a bit more nuanced. All he was getting was sad.
“I really miss hearing you talk right now,” Finn said, and Poe didn’t even make a sound.
When Finn looked at Rey again, she was watching Poe with a sort of fond dismay in her expression, like she wanted desperately not to have disappointed him.
Finn couldn’t be certain, given that he had never done this kind of thing before, not to mention the complicated circumstances that prevented actual discussion, but he was still fairly sure that there was a simple solution to all of this.
“Rey,” Finn said, and she looked at him.
There was a moment during which Finn knew that Rey understood what he was thinking, what he wanted, and then she nodded.
“Poe,” Finn said, shifting over carefully so as not to startle Poe, and hopefully to keep him from bolting.
Poe let Finn lean over him, keeping still while Finn pressed a kiss to Poe’s furry head, between his ears. When he looked down at the cat, Poe’s ears were still drooping.
“It’s a bit fuzzier than I imagined kissing you would be,” Finn tried to joke.
Poe continued to look hopelessly sad. Finn thought it must be something to do with those big eyes.
“Come here,” Rey said.
Poe looked away from her.
“Poe,” Rey said firmly, in that tone that meant, I’m not fucking around.
Reluctantly, Poe padded over to her, stopping before her knees.
“Stop sulking, it’s a bad look,” Rey informed him, kissing the soft fur just above his eyes. Poe was a study in contradictions, ears flattened and eyes wide, but leaning towards Rey longingly with a love me vibe radiating off him.
“I think we’re being pretty obvious about what we want,” Rey said. “As obvious as we can be while you’re a cat and we can’t do anything about it.”
“And I think it’s pretty obvious what you want,” Finn said. “Easier when you’re a cat, huh? Who’s gonna object to sleepy cuddles and requests for belly rubs from an adorable cat? But we like you best when you’re Poe. Human Poe.” He paused. “Even if you are a very handsome cat who gives excellent cuddles.”
Poe mewed so quietly. Tentatively he raised one paw and rested it delicately on Rey’s leg.
She smiled at him. “Finn and me, we’re best when we’re with you.”
“Yeah, so stop pretending like you don’t fit perfectly, cat or otherwise.” Finn yawned and stretched. “Now I actually want to sleep, so can we make that happen?” He pushed at Rey in an attempt to get her to lie down. She pushed back at him but settled anyway, close to his side.
When Poe continued to sit there, watching them, Rey said, “No sulking, remember? We like you. We want you.”
There was another long moment in which Poe did nothing, but then he came over, small feet padding onto Finn’s body. He curled up on Finn’s belly, purring, while Rey stroked her hand over his fur. Finn drifted off thinking that this felt pretty close to perfect.
Almost, but not quite.
Finn woke up with a heavy weight on him that he was certain hadn’t been there when he went to sleep. His sleep-fuddled mind was having difficulty puzzling out what the difference was. There was Rey, breathing lightly, pressed to his side, and –
All right, there was Poe, only Poe was Poe-sized again, draped over Finn’s bottom half with his face pressed intriguingly close to Finn’s crotch. Rey’s hand was tangled loosely in his hair.
That explained it.
“Well, this is awkward now,” Poe said, voice muffled.
Finn was inclined to disagree but Poe was already moving, Rey’s hand sliding out of his hair. She stirred as he shifted, always a light sleeper, blinking at them both.
“Er,” Poe said, his whole body flushing now, as he evidently realized that transforming back into himself meant that he was now, well, unclothed. “Wow. Awkward and inappropriate. Sorry.” He was as far away from them as he could get given the small bed and he pulled his knees up to his chest.
Finn felt like his heart was swelling, this fucking sweet dork.
“Feels pretty appropriate to me,” Finn said, glancing at Rey, who nodded.
Her cheeks had pinked slightly but her lips were tilting into a smirk. “You’ve already had your face in my chest and napped in Finn’s lap,” she said. “Seems only fair that we should get something, too.”
Poe’s blush was truly brilliant. “Kriff, I’m sorry.”
“Did I say I minded?” Rey scooted closer to him, her hand resting on his knee. “I’m pretty sure Finn didn’t, either.”
“I didn’t,” Finn confirmed. “Actually, you’re welcome to come sit in my lap again if you like.”
Poe swallowed, his eyes so wide. “I…”
“Poe,” Finn said, shifting over, too, so he was sitting beside Poe but not touching him, close but not crowding him. “I meant it, you know. What I said. That I think about kissing you. That I want to kiss you.”
“Why?” Poe breathed out, which was ridiculous because look at him, and also, Poe wasn’t exactly afflicted with low self-esteem.
If Finn and Rey made him this nervous, truly, Finn didn’t know if that was a compliment or what.
“You look so good together,” Poe went on. “I don’t know why… I mean, I’m…”
“First,” Finn said, “just stop talking. I know before I said I missed it but now you’re just talking crap. Second, I have a plan that might make things easier but I need you to tell me it’s okay first. Can I do this? Is this okay?” Finn slid his hand around the back of Poe’s neck, holding him there, leaning in.
Poe’s eyelashes were absurdly long this close up. “Um, okay,” he said, like he wanted but wasn’t sure if he was supposed to.
Finn kissed him soft and easy, gently, like an offering. Poe’s lips were dry but the press of his mouth was firm and sure. He kept his eyes closed for a few seconds after Finn drew back but when he opened them his expression was wondering.
“My turn?” Rey asked, moving closer.
Poe fixed wide eyes to her, nodding like he didn’t know what else to do, and Rey was already grinning before her lips even touched his. Poe’s fingers rested lightly on her wrist and Finn thought of him last night, his tiny paw on Rey’s thigh, like he was asking if it was okay.
“Where’s all your dumb cocky confidence now when it matters, huh?” Finn asked, kissing Poe again swiftly, and then Rey.
“Being a cat was exhausting,” Poe said. He still looked like he wasn’t sure exactly what was happening.
“Should’ve been natural for you. Cats always think they’re exactly where they belong, regardless of what anybody else thinks about it.”
Finn knew what he was talking about. He had heard Poe sass his way through a flight in binders on a First Order transport ship, flanked by stormtroopers, bound for torture and a cell. Poe acted like he belonged everywhere, no matter how he actually felt about it deep inside.
“And this?” Poe said. “I should be here?”
“When you were a cat,” Finn said, “you believed it. You went wherever you kriffing wanted, including my bed. Wish you would now, too. I mean…” He slid over so he was curled around Poe’s side, feeling the way Poe tensed but didn’t move away. “What more have we gotta do?”
Rey tucked herself around Poe from the other side. “Convincing enough?”
“Guys, I’m… Okay, I really hate to point this out but I’m not wearing any clothes, remember?”
“We’ll let you know when we care,” Finn said, pressing a kiss to Poe’s bare shoulder.
“You’ll be waiting a long time,” Rey confirmed.
Finn could feel the moment Poe gave in, the moment he relaxed, the moment he accepted it. A soft sigh hissed past his lips. “Your obvious isn’t actually that obvious,” he murmured, seeking out their skin with his fingers, finding reassuring touch. “For the record.”
Now, Finn thought. Now it was perfect.