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I Know There's Nothing Good in Goodbye

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Waiting on the doorstep of a very nice apartment complex, Rey fidgeted with the strap of her faded Jansport; it was cold out, a sign that autumn had truly arrived in Takodana, but she’d stubbornly worn her Tevas despite knowing that it would drop below forty that evening. It wasn’t like she planned to be out late— she needed to study for Ackbar’s midterm, that was all, and she’d decided to study with the one person in her section of Linear Algebra that she didn’t want to totally murder.

Okay. Okay, so she didn’t want to murder her study partner at all. Unless he didn’t answer the door in a goddamn second because it was cold out, and her toes were not happy, and she could smell the pizza that someone had ordered because it lingered in the air outside the door and—

There he was.

He skittered out of the stairwell and slid along the lobby for a few seconds; he spotted Rey, then, and she ducked her head to hide a grin when he smoothed out his curls and walked towards the front entrance at a normal pace, clearly trying to pretend that he hadn’t almost taken himself out on the tile.

“I’m so sorry,” he was saying before he’d opened the door fully, “Sorry, the concierge is out for dinner. Jesus, I hope you weren’t out here for long.”

“Not too long,” Rey fibbed, offering him a shrug. “Don’t worry about it, Dameron.”

Dameron, as in Poe Dameron. The actual movie star. A student in her crappy Linear Algebra class. What was the world. 

“I’m still sorry.” Poe shook his head and held the door open for her. “Oh, your poor toes.”

“Huh?” Rey quirked an eyebrow at him and then looked down at her, admittedly, bright red feet. “Oh, I can’t even feel them.”

“That’s usually not good.” He wrung his hands together and then sighed, gesturing at the stairwell he’d slammed out of a few moments ago. “I’m on the third floor. The elevator is broken, I’m sorry.”

“You have to stop saying sorry.” Rey was already walking for the staircase, not wanting to do something stupid like smile at his mild flailing because then he would know she was the kind of person who smiled at (very pretty) celebrities who happened to be enrolled in the same college as her, and while that might not seem like the worst thing, Rey also had an image to uphold.

(Uphold to whom was anyone’s guess: her only friend was Finn Calrissian, a transfer from Batt U, and he knew she was a secret marshmallow, something she’d sworn him to fiercest secrecy on). 

They walked in silence up the stairs, and Rey felt her ears reddening at the random thought of are these the leggings that make my butt look okay? She had cared about what her butt looked like all of never in her life, so she was surprised to find that yes, her brain had created a category of pants that make my ass look great and that yes, she was wearing a pair in that category, which was good because she was walking in front of Poe up the stairs. 

Poe cleared his throat when they hit the third floor landing, and Rey nodded without saying anything, pushing through the door in front of him; he walked to a door in the middle of the hallway and opened it.

“You don’t lock your door?” Rey asked curiously, probably harsher than she meant to, and Poe shrugged.

“Nah. I don’t think anyone would want this stuff, anyway.”

She walked in and immediately doubted that assessment. There was plenty to steal— a large, plasma screen TV, an exercise bike, a comfy looking futon, matching living room furniture, and a very cute dog bed, from which a very cute dog arose.

“This is Beatrice.” Poe waved at the dog, an orange and white terrier, who trotted over to Rey. “Shit. You’re not - allergic to dogs, right?”

“No.” Rey sank to her knees and buried her face in the ruff of the dog, who wiggled joyously. “Oh, you’re perfect.” She scratched the dog behind the ears and giggled. “What a good name. Shakespeare would be proud.”

“Yeah, that was my favorite Shakespeare play when I was a kid.” Poe seemed to be muttering to himself, so Rey ignored it and kept scratching the dog, not wanting to admit that it was also her favorite Shakespeare play (because there was no way to share that and sound like she wasn’t trying to just be agreeable, something she wasn’t really inclined to be). “Oh, I, uh, got some pizza.”

“What?” Rey looked up from Beatrice, who was now kissing her jaw happily - the first kiss Rey had been given in a while, and definitely the nicest one she could recall getting in years. Poe was bright red when she looked over at him, and was tapping his fingers anxiously on the counter where there were, in fact, three large pizza boxes stacked on top of each other.

Rey frowned and stood slowly, wiping slobber from her face using the sleeve of her jumper. “...Are those … leftovers?”

“Leftovers?” Poe repeated, as though not understanding the word.

“From a party or something.” 

“N-no, they’re … new.” Poe shoved his hands in the pockets of his nice jeans (everything about him was nice, honestly, his pants, his apartment, his smile, his hair, ugh, Rey wanted to go home and sit under her not-nice blanket in her not-nice dorm room and eat not-nice ramen because it was what she knew ). “I, uh, ordered a few pizzas because I hadn’t eaten dinner yet, and I didn’t want to be rude and not offer you some.”

“So you ordered...three?” Rey tilted her head at him and shook her head. “I don’t think even I could eat three pizzas.”

“At least two are for me.” Poe grinned at her and walked to a cabinet, pulling out some plates. “So is that a yes to pizza?”

Rey’s stomach growled traitorously, and she had to nod or risk looking like a total idiot. “Yeah, that’d be- how much do I owe you?”

“Owe?” Poe set the plates down and opened the box of pizza, shooting her a confused frown.

“For the pizza,” Rey said slowly. “How much do I owe you for the pizza?” She had a five dollar bill in the bottom of her front zip pocket in her backpack, a bill she’d been saving on the off-chance her subway card got lost (she’d never lose it), or in case of emergency. But, if she was going to have to pay back the egregiously cute boy from her Linear Algebra class-

“What?” Poe’s nose wrinkled in a way that was annoyingly pretty. “No, I got it for us to share. It’s fair game.”

“It’s a lot.” Rey shuffled her feet and gritted her teeth. “A lot to just … take, you know?”

“You aren’t taking.” Poe put a slice on each plate and scooted one across the counter towards her. “I’m giving. Different.”

“Uh-” Rey’s neck flushed, but Poe was turning around, digging in his fridge.

What she could see of the fridge remained her painfully of the barren mini-fridge she’d squirreled away in the back of her close in her dorm room- she’d found it at the dump last fall and rewired it so it worked almost like brand new. Poe’s fridge was brand new, with an ice dispenser in the front, and smart readings along the doors that told him how cold the air was: each shelf was filled with neatly stacked tupperwares, fresh fruit and vegetables, the sort of produce she didn’t even look at when she went to the grocery store because canned was cheaper and lasted longer. 

“Do you want a drink?”

While her neck was hot a minute ago, it was suddenly cold. “No.”

She must have spoken quieter than she thought because Poe was straightening up, a few bottles in his hands. “I got sparkling water, orange juice, I have beer and wine, too-”

“I’m twenty.” Rey dragged a hand through her hair anxiously. “I don’t drink.”

“Gotcha.” Poe seemed to falter for a moment but then flashed her a megawatt smile. “So OJ or water?”

“I don’t want a drink.” Rey knew that was something impolite to say-at least, she was pretty sure it was, and she swore his smile got dimmer-but she didn’t feel like being polite about it. Not after…

“Okay.” Poe nodded and closed the fridge door. “So…”

“I brought my own water.” She knew her anxiety was talking for her, wanted to shut her mouth and stop talking, but she was suddenly worried about offending him, or making him mad, or making him think she was a bitch (and she was a bitch, but for completely different reasons then this, and why did she care again ). “Sorry, I just-” Poe looked confused now, and she realized he probably didn’t care what a girl five years younger than him was drinking at his apartment. “Sorry.”

“I thought you said I needed to stop saying that word so much.” Poe’s teasing was gentle as he handed her the plate he’d left out for her, and he nudged past her shoulder gently enough to be an accident as he walked to his table. “Is here good?”

When she didn’t answer, still rooted to the spot in embarrassment, he turned and smiled at her. “Do you want to study here? I figured we could eat too.”

The only other spot for them to study was on the futon (which, while comfortable, opened up a whole realm of closeness Rey didn’t think she could handle at the moment, or in the near future, or ever). “That sounds great.” She tucked a strand of her messy hair behind her ear and snagged her backpack from the floor, Beatrice hot on her heels as she walked to the table.

Poe pulled out his seat, but then weirdly went to the other side of the table; Rey’s steps faltered for a second, and she stared at the seat he’d pulled out. “After you,” Poe said softly, gesturing at the chair.

He’d pulled it out for her, she realized, and then she wanted to cry, or puke, or run out the door. Instead, she slid into the chair with another mumbled thanks and hid how much she was blushing by digging into her backpack with the alleged goal of finding her Linear Algebra textbook.

“Did you want to start with 2.1 or 3.1?” Rey asked pulling out a pencil and her notebook. “Because I think the vector spaces chapter was a lot easier than isomorphism, but-”

“Could we start with 2.1?” Poe winced when she looked up at him, and she frowned, not knowing why he looked so chagrined. “Sorry, I was- I was out for the first lecture on vector spaces, my dad needed me home that week.”

“Oh yeah.” Rey tapped her pencil on the table and shook her head. “You weren’t in class that day, I remember.”

What. The. Fuck. Don’t just tell boys you noticed they weren’t in class! That is not normal! Even if there are only eighteen other people in that class! Not normal!

Poe didn’t give her a weird look, thank the Maker. “Yeah, it sorta all got jumbled after that. Go figure.” He wiped a hand down his face. “Shit, you probably wish you had a better study partner.”

“What?” Rey waved her slice of pizza. “You’re feeding me. You have a dog. ” She pointed at Beatrice demonstratively, and Beatrice sniffled her finger with intense interest. “Your apartment has heat. This is great!”

“Yeah?” Poe grinned and ducked his head before frowning suddenly. “Wait a second- your apartment doesn’t have heat?”

“It’s the dorms, really.” Rey felt her face growing hot again-when would the agony end- and pretended she had to hunt for the start of 2.1, as if she didn’t know it started on page 78. “So, uh, I guess we need to start with simple conditions?”

She didn’t look up beyond patting Beatrice on the head for the next quarter of an hour, instead reading her notes aloud to Poe, who scribbled down notes quickly, and when their hands brushed for half a second as she slid her stack of notecards towards him, she pretended that sparks didn’t ignite up and down her forearm as a result. She had this in the bag. She could do normal college things. Her uncle didn’t have to worry anymore. 

Just don’t look at him so he can’t figure out what a massive crush you have on him.


Fuck, he had a crush on Rey Kenobi.

She was smart, okay? Really smart. Beyond smart. And he’d always, always been a sucker for smart people. His first boyfriend, Jacob Muran, was valedictorian at his private academy that Poe sometimes audited classes for; they’d broken up long before Jacob graduated, but Poe still went when he got his diploma, went and watched him cross the stage and cheered and wished that he hadn’t chosen acting at thirteen, wished he hadn’t avoided the normalcy of education, wished he had half the brain Jacob did. 

And even past being smart, she was cute. Gorgeous, really, subtle in the way a sunrise was, creeping up on you until it cracked over the horizon and blinded you without thought. He’d noticed her on the first day of classes; he could have sworn he’d seen her across campus more than once in the past, but he’d walked around in a fog during his first two years at Takodana, wrapping up X-Wing at the set fifty miles away, driving back and forth to classes three times a week. He was a fully dedicated student now, which meant he had time for the more advanced classes, which meant he’d landed in the ten a.m. section of Ackbar’s infamous Linear Algebra course, two seats to the left of the prettiest girl he’d ever seen. 

Rey Kenobi didn’t raise her hand, but she always had the right answer. Rey Kenobi wasn’t mean, but she didn’t talk to anyone. Rey Kenobi didn’t have a lot of friends, but everyone seemed to like her. Rey Kenobi never went to the dining hall, never went to parties (and Poe hadn’t gone to many either- things just weren’t as fun when you were 25, already tired of the scene thanks to the shitshow that was Hollywood, and didn’t like to drink), never had a bad word to say about anyone, and was never, ever wrong.

He still couldn’t believe she agreed to study with him. He’d mentioned her name in passing when Pava asked what he was up to that night, and he still couldn’t figure out the strange expression Jess wore when he said Rey Kenobi. It was the oddest combination of sadness, hesitance, and concern, but when he asked her about it, she’d just said, enigmatically, “ Be nice to her, Dameron ,” and had refused to elaborate. 

So, he’d panic-cleaned his apartment for an hour that afternoon, considered wearing his nicest clothes, settled on a button down and his best pair of jeans, walked Beatrice for three times the length of her normal walk, and spent a ridiculous amount of time in the shower doing what Han Solo, his favorite co-worker, would have called over-grooming, and his manager, Snap Wexley, would have called, manscaping.

There was no reason for him to be nervous, but there he was, palms sweating as he tried to take notes and keep up with Rey Kenobi’s beautiful, lilting voice, as he tried not to stare too much at her lovely, freckled face, as he tried not to think too much about what she’d say or do if he asked to hold her hand (and honestly, he’d want to ask for a lot more than holding her hand, but he would start there because it seemed pretty damn nice). 

He finished the matrices that Rey had passed him, and she looked them over, brow furrowed, fist propping her head up as she scanned his handwriting. Eventually, she nodded and gave him a ghost of a smile. “You got it.”

“Oh, thank God.” He sank into his chair with exaggerated relief. “Next chapter?”

Rey’s eyes darted over his shoulder; he twisted and saw that she was looking at the time. It was almost nine- they’d been there for two hours, something that surprised him. Time never went that fast when you were doing math. Ever.

“Or not.” Poe smiled in what he hoped was a reassuring way. “If you gotta get home, don’t worry about it, this was already so helpful.”

“No, I-I can-” Rey tucked her hair behind her ear, and Poe found himself wondering if it were a nervous habit, the way him playing with his mother’s ring was. “I can probably stay ‘til ten?”

“Alright.” Poe shrugged and flipped the page in his textbook. “If it gets too late, you’re always welcome to crash here.”

He glanced up, just to see if she was on the same page as him, literally, but blanched when he saw her expression: stricken, vaguely horrified, eyes distant. He’d seen that look before, nowhere near this context, and his gut churned in guilt for having caused it, somehow. 

“Or, I mean, I can call you an Uber.” Poe put his hand on the table slowly, resting it between them at a safe distance, trying to capture her attention. “...Rey?”

“...Isomophisms,” Rey whispered.

“Rey, I don’t know what I said, but I’m sorry-”

“Isomorphic spaces, they, um, exist where there’s an invertible linear transformation, from, uhm, yeah, this figure, it shows it-” Rey’s hands were shaking slightly as she turned her textbook around and pointed at a collection of numbers Poe suddenly didn’t give a shit about.

  “Rey, I’m sorry-”

“Can we just.” Rey tapped the book again and flipped through her notes. “So, V and W are only isomorphic if…” 

She continued in her explanation, ignoring Poe’s attempts to apologize, and he eventually swallowed them and shook his head, willing to let it slide if that was what she wanted or needed. Eventually, the color returned to her face, and they worked on another practice problem as the time ticked onward to ten. 

Rey made a few, endearing noises of frustration when she encountered an issue, grumbling to herself as she made short work of her eraser, and Poe grinned, not at all worried that his own matrices were beyond fucked, not when Rey suddenly seemed more herself. He still wanted to ask what he’d done, but he knew that it wasn’t his place to push if she didn’t want to talk; the best he could do was pay more attention to what he was saying, and give her the space she needed and the options she needed to feel more comfortable.

They worked their way through two practice problems and two pizzas; Rey put away four more slices than he did, and he laughed delightedly when she belched loud enough to wake Beatrice up from her doze on the futon. Rey turned bright red, and as she winced her way through the beginning of an apology, Poe burped right back, making her laugh, and helping him achieve his best success of the evening. 

“You’re great,” he said wonderingly as they neared the end of the third section. 

“What?” Rey looked at him as though he’d said something shocking.

“You’re great.” Poe shrugged, pretending like it was an easy motion and not like his heart was fit to beat out of his chest. He hadn’t felt this nervous around someone he liked since … middle school. “That’s all.”

“Oh.” Rey squirmed in her seat, visibly, something that made her even more endearing and then gave him a half-smile. “You are, too.”

“Lies.” Poe sighed and shut his textbook. “I’m terrible at math.”

“That isn’t a moral failing.” Rey grinned. “A lot of people aren’t good at math.” And he cracked up slightly at her refusal to coddle his ego. After years in show business, it was honestly relieving to have someone not try to bolster his admittedly healthy self esteem. 

Rey slipped her textbook into her bookbag, and Poe was trying to think of ways to extend their time together without seeming needy or clingy or making her upset again, when Rey asked, “If you don’t like math, why are you in this class?”

She didn’t sound rude, just curious, and he hummed thoughtfully before answering. “My mom worked for NASA. Astrophysicist. Went to space. Real whiz with numbers.” He smiled ruefully. “I don’t think she imagined having an actor for a son; I guess...I guess I just wanted to do something that made me feel close to her.”

“You played a space pilot on TV for five years.” Rey tilted her head at him. 

“Yeah, but, my mom, she was … a real hero.” Poe felt hot under the collar as the weight of Rey’s gaze settled over him, powerful, singular. “I was playing some asshole in a cockpit. Anyone could do that.”

“Not anyone.” Rey didn’t say it to flatter him, and he felt something deeper than superficial pride stir in him. “I liked your show.”

“Really?” He had a feeling Rey Kenobi didn’t just pay compliments for fun. “You did?”

“Mhm.” Rey zipped up her bookbag, not looking at him again. “I used to watch it with my uncle when I moved to the States to live with him.”

“I knew that accent was from somewhere.” She laughed softly and didn’t deny it, straightening back out in her chair and tucking her hair behind her ear again - Poe was glad for the six feet between them, or he’d try to tuck it behind her ear himself, and he had a feeling that wouldn’t go too well. “England?”

“Nottingham,” Rey confirmed.

“Like Robin Hood?” Poe asked, grinning. 

“Like Robin Hood.” 

“Did you steal from the rich and give to the poor?” Poe regretted the question immediately because something closed off in Rey’s face, quickly. “Oh-”

“I do need to go.” Rey stood and pulled her backpack with her, holding onto the strap tighter than Poe ever held onto one of the Emmys lining the back of his closet. 

“Yeah.” Poe stood as well, gathering their plates for something to do with his hands that wasn’t physically reaching out to the person he kept finding unique ways to upset. “Yeah, of course- can I order you an Uber?”

“I can walk home,” Rey muttered, but he was already shaking his head while walking to the sink. 

“No way, nuh-uh. It’s freezing outside.”

“It’s not freezing, it’s thirty-six,” he could hear her mumbling with his back turned, and he chuckled.

“My dad always makes that joke.”

“Not a joke if it’s scientifically accurate.” She was pouting mulishly when he turned around, her eyes on the door, but Beatrice suddenly ran over and sat on her feet, wagging her tail expectantly, and Poe made a mental note to high five his dog later. 

“Which dorm are you in?” Poe pulled his phone out after wiping his hands on his pants. He clicked to Uber on his home screen and looked at Rey expectantly until she sighed and shook her head, kneeling to pet Beatrice.

“Darklighter.” 

“I’ve heard good things,” Poe lied, and Rey chuckled at that.

“There aren’t cockroaches, at least.” 

“Ride will be here in six,” Poe announced, sliding his phone back in his pocket.

“You’re terribly nice,” Rey said, and it was odd, how it didn’t sound complimentary- or insulting for that matter. More … analytical. Like he was a problem she wanted to puzzle out (and God, did he want to let puzzle him out any time she wanted). 

“Nothing wrong with manners.” Poe walked back to the table, giving Beatrice and Rey a wide enough berth that he wasn’t encroaching on the mild snuggle fest that he was only mildly jealous of. After he’d packed up his own textbook, he offered Rey a hand. “Can I walk you downstairs?”

She looked at his hand for maybe three seconds, not a long time, but it felt like an eternity before she nodded and took it; he pulled her to her feet, trying not to notice how her delicate, long fingers felt in his hand, trying not to notice how light she was as he tugged her upright, trying not notice that when she got to her feet, she was almost his height, pretty as anything, eyes wide and lips parted, and-

“Did you have a jacket?” Poe asked for something to ask that wasn’t Can I kiss you, please? 

Rey shook her head. “Don’t own one.” She was already walking to the door, so she missed his stare of incredulity. 

“It snows like three feet a winter here.”

She didn’t seem to care as she fiddled with the doorknob, avoiding his gaze. “And then the snow melts. No point in buying a jacket for a few months-”

Poe shook his head, laughing mildly. “That is … the weirdest logic I’ve ever heard from a math genius.”

Rey batted her eyelashes at him, and he froze slightly- was she...was she flirting with him? No, no he had to be misreading that, they hadn’t flirted all night, this was a study session, no matter what his hopes had told him beforehand- and laughed. “Don’t doubt my ways, Dameron.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it.” 

He floated down the stairs after her, Rey taking the lead confidently as though she were the one that lived here, confident as though she hadn’t frozen up at his table barely an hour before. When they got to the front entrance, his phone buzzed, letting him know Rey’s ride would be there in about a minute.

“Thanks for coming over tonight,” he said.

“That was … fun,” Rey said at the exact same time.

They laughed and looked down at the ground before smiling at each other. Something fluttered painfully in Poe’s chest, and he tried not to give it too much fuel, but Rey Kenobi was unfairly beautiful in the fluorescence of the atrium. 

“We should...do it again...sometime?” Rey asked, soft and shy and sweet enough to make Poe swallow, hard. 

“Yeah.” He nodded quickly, shocked that she’d be the one to suggest it. “Yeah, I mean - yes, that sounds- do you want my number?”

“I have your number.” Rey giggled and eyed the door, her body turned away from him slightly as though she were ready to take flight, out of the building. “That’s how I told you I was here?”

“Right.” Poe could slap himself, he really could. “Right, so - I’ll text you? Or, you’ll text me?”

“One of us will text.” The Honda Accord the Uber App had promised pulled up to the curb out front. “I guess this is me?”

“Yeah.” A delicate tension stretched between them as Rey looked at him one last time, her hand on the door. “Rey?”

“Yeah?” He wondered if her voice actually sounded as fluttering and nervous as he felt.

“...have a good night.”

She smiled, looking strangely relieved, if also disappointed. “You too.” 

And then she was gone.

Poe wouldn’t tell anyone how he stood in the doorway long after the car had vanished from sight, and he definitely wouldn’t tell anyone how he’d jumped in the air and shouted in excitement when his phone buzzed fifteen minutes later with a text from Rey Kenobi:

Thanks for dinner, Dameron. 

He was typing before he could stop himself. Anytime, Kenobi. 

Three dots appeared, vanished, then appeared again. 

You aren’t that bad at math...but, if you need help studying again, let me know? 

The grin he was wearing was so big it should have been illegal. Will do. How does tomorrow night sound? 

And he slept the best he had in months when her answer came back, half an hour later:

Sounds great. Goodnight. 

“Goodnight,” he whispered to himself, grinning like an idiot as he turned off the light and turned to dreams that were filled with mathematical geniuses with smiles like sunshine. 

Chapter Text

“Can’t you see? Those orders- the ones you’re inexplicably attached to- they will do nothing but harm the fleet!

“Yes,” Rey whispered in agreement, nodding along, eyes wide. She’d pulled her knees up to her chest and had wrapped her arms around her calves in an attempt to keep warm in Darklighter’s second floor common area. “Tell her!”

I’m sorry Commander - or was it...Captain? My word is final on the matter.” The purple-haired commanding officer smirked down at the hotshot pilot who was riled up beyond belief, his hair almost on end from perfectly projected anxiety, and Rey tried not to think about what that hair would feel like between her fingers, if it would be soft, or coarse, or have product in it - but the officer wasn’t done! “ Don’t think for a second that I don’t know what’s going on here.”

“And what’s that... Admiral ?” The recently demoted Captain gritted out. 

You don’t trust me because I’m a woman, and you can’t get your head out of the cockpit for a damn second.”

Rey squawked quietly in indignation as the “admiral” turned on her heel and marched down the corridor, leaving Captain Hernandez to stare at her in abject horror and fury. 

“That is not true!” Rey hissed. “That is so not true- he- he would follow the old admiral in a heartbeat, and she’s a woman! He thinks of her as his greatest mentor- there was like! Six episodes about it last season! You’re just a shitty, shitty leader!”

“Who’s a shitty leader?” 

Rey almost fell off the beat-up old couch she was curled up on. 

“Jess?” Rey turned around from the ancient television (which had cable, so she wasn’t complaining), to see her old roommate. “Oh, fuck, I didn’t see you there-”

“X-Wing?” Jess asked, nodding her chin towards the screen. “God, Dameron looks so stupid with that hair.”

“It doesn’t look...that bad,” Rey said weakly, already blushing from having been caught yelling at a silly tv show, and now she was blushing because she was defending her study partner’s hair. At least she wasn’t at home. Three years ago, she and Obi had splurged and bought matching X-Wing official memorabilia: two Rebel helmets, painted red and black, just like Captain Hernandez and his plucky squadron. They wore them every time they watched a new episode.

Yeah. Rey was cool. Completely cool. At least she hadn’t let that detail of her life slip when she was working with Poe. Yet.

“How’s your year going?” Jess propped her forearms on the back of the couch and offered Rey a slight smile. The television switched to commercial, and Rey pretended like that wasn’t secretly a relief, that she wouldn’t miss anything, even though talking to someone who’d seen her at rock bottom wasn’t really that relieving. 

“It’s … going.” Rey smiled back. She’d always liked Jess; really liked her. Thought of her as a friend. And Jess had done absolutely everything a friend would have done for her last year, had gone above and beyond and- Rey was done with taking advantage of her kindness. That was it. But she still liked her. “How’s your year?”

“Eh.” Jess wrinkled her nose. “Biochem is some bullshit. I’m still getting creative with explosions in the test lab.” They both laughed at that, remembering that time last year that Jess had stained her hands bright yellow for a whole week. “And I hear you’ve got a study partner?”

“What?” Rey blinked, something cold in her stomach.

“Poe Dameron?” Jess tilted her head and then laughed, a little awkwardly, pointing at the screen. “He mentioned you’ve been really saving his ass in Linear Algebra.”

“You-” Rey cleared her throat. “You know Poe?”

“Yeah.” Jess drummed her fingers on the couch and gave Rey a slightly odd look. “Our parents were friends growing up- I wouldn’t have gotten through middle school without Shara.”

Shara Bey - the astronaut. Rey knew her name because how could she not? She’d been with NASA two decades after her uncle, but had been one of the first women to complete a spacewalk. 

“So you two are good friends?” Rey asked, feeling distant from herself even as she asked.

She saw Jess nod, and Jess began to say something about age difference, and so much trouble when we were kids, but there was a faint roaring in her ears.

Jess had caught her gawking at his show, and now Jess was going to tell him Rey was some weird fan, and of course it was Jess, who’d already seen her at her worst, at her worse than worst, and to make everything even more awful, Rey was pretty sure she’d seen a tabloid article in the last year that speculated that Poe Dameron was secretly married to his best friend from childhood and wouldn’t that be typical? For it to be Rey’s old roommate? Because of course? 

Rey wasn’t sure how she got through the rest of the conversation, but she was pretty sure she ended it normally enough when the show came back on, and Jess got a phone call that pulled her from the room. That meant Rey was left alone with her thoughts, raging at herself, and so caught up in her spiral that she entirely missed the last twenty minutes of the show; when Obi texted her about the exciting revelation from the last two minutes, she just pretended to know what he was talking about and went to sleep early, exhausted beyond belief.


 

“What kind of day is it?” Finn closed the door behind him; a perk of the Horrific Pile of Shit that was Rey’s freshman year was that she didn’t have a roommate to check in with when she invited people (only Finn, only ever Finn) over.

“Eh.” Rey didn’t move from where she was leaning on the wall and pulled her stuffed Porg closer to her chest. 

“Want me to sit here, or there?” Finn pointed at the desk, and then to the space next her on the narrow double bed.

“...Here.” Rey felt her face turn red, but Finn didn’t tease her, only toed off his shoes, dropped his bookbag on the floor, and climbed into the bed next to her her. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her in tight, and Rey went willingly, relieved to have someone touch her, someone she trusted implicitly. 

“Still can’t believe you got a single.” Finn sighed in non-feigned luxury, stretching his legs out obnoxiously.

Rey snorted. “That’s what happens when no one wants to room with the girl who wakes up screaming every other night.”

“Hey.” Finn poked her in the side. “That’s my best friend you’re talking about.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“I mean it, peanut. Don’t talk about yourself like that.”

“It’s true.” Rey rubbed a tired hand over her eyes. “I do wake up screaming. It’s not a negative statement or a positive one. It’s neutral. Just true.”

“Tired?”

“All the time,” Rey whispered, suddenly sad and angry and exhausted to her bones. 

“Want to take a nap?” Finn nudged her. “Promise I don’t scare easy if you … uh, if you wake up badly?”

“You don’t mind?” Rey looked up at him blearily, and Finn smiled peacefully at her. 

“Not at all. I have a book I needed to finish.” He leaned forward to grab his backpack. “Go right ahead, I’ll keep watch.”

“Thanks.” Rey curled up into a ball, and Finn handed her the patchwork quilt from the bottom of the bed. 

“Rest up, peanut.”

She wanted to thank him again, genuinely, earnestly thank him for being someone she could trust, for being someone safe, for being her family, but she was already asleep.


The next day was Linear Algebra, and their midterm was waiting up front for them to collect.

Rey took hers from Ackbar, who looked at her and said in a deeply pleased baritone, “Excellent work, Ms. Kenobi, as usual.” She peeked at her grade as she climbed the steps, relieved to see a 97 at the top. In the spring, her grades had taken a hit, so it was more important than ever that she maintain her averages to keep her scholarship (which the school had been “generous” in allowing her to keep, according to the Dean of Students’ Office). 

She looked up in surprise when a familiar figure dropped into the seat next to her.

“Johnson dropped the course,” Poe Dameron said cheerily in lieu of greeting. “Do you mind if I take his seat?”

Rey gestured as if to say not at all, unsure of what her voice would do when confronted unexpectedly with the person she had a ridiculous, incredibly inconvenient crush on. 

“I got an 86, by the way.” Poe held up his exam with a cheery grin. “That’s seventeen points higher than the last exam.”

Rey, whose brain handled numbers at a frightening speed, figured out what score he got, and waited patiently for him to make the Typical Joke about the number less than seventy. Instead, what she got was:

“And it’s all thanks to you.” Poe beamed at her and opened a folder, tucking the exam into the pocket safely. Then, he pulled out his (new, top of the line, shiny, bizarrely nice) phone and snapped a photo of it.

“What are you doing?” Rey asked, her curiosity getting the better of her.

“Sending a picture to my dad,” Poe explained, his smile even brighter than normal. “He’s going to be so proud- he dropped math after one semester as a Pre-Med, and switched to History. I don’t know which of us is more surprised that I’m sticking with it.” He tilted his head and closed his folder before grinning at Rey, again (and he had to stop doing that, he really had to, or she’d get it into her head that Poe Dameron might actually be excited to talk to her). “I guess I’m not that surprised when I had such a great study partner.”

“Oh, hush,” Rey muttered, cheeks flaming. She was spared further agony and the confrontation of her lack of social skills when Ackbar cleared his throat and began his lecture. The entire class stopped talking at once- he never had to call them out for talking, probably because they were all too afraid of him to talk over him- and began to scribble notes furiously as he flicked serenely through a series of increasingly complex slides.

Class flew by, and Rey soon forgot that she was sitting next to the person who she watched on television at least once a week (and whose action figure she mortifyingly possessed in the bottom of a drawer at her house- she liked the show, that was all, she liked space and sci-fi and flying, and X-Wing had all of that), as she tried desperately to keep up with Ackbar’s pace, which was even more dogged and determined than usual.

Soon the hour and twenty minutes were up, and he dismissed them; Rey began to pack up immediately, her stomach faintly rumbling, and Poe turned to her with another bright smile that she couldn’t begin to decode. 

“I know it’s a little early,” he said, slipping his accordion folder into his stylish messenger bag, “But would you like to get lunch?”

“I’m um,” Rey tucked her hair behind her ear. “I don’t have any meal swipes left this week.” And that was a problem she’d decided not to think about too much just yet- she had some canned beans in her closet, and the girls down the hall had left three fourths of a pizza in the fridge, and Rey had swiped three pieces. She was sort of prepared for it, but she definitely couldn’t go out and pay fourteen dollars to eat in the shitty dining hall just because the cutest person on campus asked her to.

Where did that come from? 

Poe laughed, a pretty sound that was deep and full and warm. “I was planning on heading into town, anyway. D’you know Maz’s Cantina? We could, uh, head there together-”

A flare of anxiety erupted in her gut. Rey pulled her backpack close to her middle and tried not to glare, tried to control her facial expressions so she looked apologetic and not cross. “I really didn’t budget going out to eat...more than once this week.” 

It wasn’t a lie because she’d technically ‘gone out’ of her dorm room to steal the pizza, and this way, she didn’t sound totally lame or mean. 

“Oh.” Poe for some strange reason turned red, but Rey didn’t focus on it, not when her phone started buzzing the way it always did at 11:30- Ackbar must have lectured over his normal time. “No, I, uh, I was hoping that I could take you o-”

“Sorry.” Rey held her phone up, not really having heard what he had to say. “I’m really sorry to interrupt, but I have to take this.” She showed him the screen, with the picture of Obi displayed on it, with his brown sweatshirt hood pulled up as he made a goofy face. “My uncle calls me every day after class, and this is my only class today, and he’ll- well, he’ll freak out if I don’t-”

Poe deflated but nodded, his smile smaller but no less genuine. “Right, of course- um, go ahead?”

“Thanks.” Rey slid the accept button and nodded at Poe as she stood, gathering her backpack; he stumbled to stand up too, dropping his pen on the floor with a hissed shit . “I’ll see you next class, yeah?”

And then she walked away, her phone to her ear, which burned from a mortification that promised to linger well into her nightly anxious self-reflection- and she totally missed the warm, brown eyes that followed her as she walked out the door.


“And then she just walked away.” Poe dragged his hand down his face and sank into Iolo’s couch. “I wanted to melt into the carpet.”

“Unadvised.” Iolo grinned and took a swig of beer. “The carpet in Mon Cala is disgusting.”

“Moist, even,” Kare agreed from her perch on the ottoman, not even taking her eyes off of the soccer match on the screen. 

“Ugh.” Iolo lobbed the pillow at her, and Kare swatted it out of the air without looking. 

“Do you think she even realized you were asking her out?” Kare asked suddenly when the game switched to commercials. She turned and fixed Poe with that eerie stare of hers.

“Wh-what?” Poe spluttered, sitting up and resting his elbows on his knees. “Of course she- I mean, I was totally-”

“What exactly did you say, again? Something about eating lunch?” Iolo asked, rolling a coaster across the coffee table with a shit-eating grin.

“I-” Poe felt his face heat up unbearably for the second time that day. “I mentioned that we should- I mean, that I wanted to get lunch, and that we might want to get lunch together, and that Maz’s Cantina was … a good place to...get lunch.”

“Maz’s?” Kare almost fell off the ottoman as she moved to pick up the pillow and throw it at Poe, who barely caught it before it hit his face. “You were going to take the girl you’re totally in love with to that shithole?”

“Hey!” Poe set the pillow down with a scowl. “I happen to like that shithole!”

“It’s a great shithole,” Kare agreed, “But Poe, my darling, my wonder, my sweet summer child, it is not a first date location. It is a ‘hook up with me in the back stall’ location. It is a ‘ we broke up and I wanted to bump into you so you could see my revenge body and sixteen revenge tattoos’ location.”

“That’s oddly specific,” Poe muttered, toying with the fringe on Iolo’s bolster pillow.

“Did you say the words, can I take you on a date ?” Iolo asked, genuinely (well, seemingly) interested.

“I tried to.” Poe squeezed his eyes shut as his friends squawked in indignation. “She’s - she’s shy, and I really don’t want to freak her out.”

Jess walked in from the bedroom, where she’d been taking a cat nap; she stretched and yawned, her clothes oddly singed in places (after the last story she told him, Poe wasn’t sure that he wanted to know what disaster she was involved in today). She scratched her hip and frowned at Poe. 

“I need to stop walking into conversations,” she muttered to herself, walking to the fridge and cracking it up to pull out a Smart Water. “Let me guess. Poe’s crying about Rey Kenobi.”

“I’m not crying,” Poe grumbled, turning to frown at Jess. “I was merely saying that I don’t want to freak her out because the few times we’ve talked, she seems really shy.”

“She’s not shy, she’s-” Jess made a frustrated noise and cut herself off, choosing to chug her water and hipcheck the fridge door shut instead. 

“I didn’t realize you knew her that well,” Poe said slowly, remembering how strange Jess had seemed after he mentioned his first study session with Rey. 

“She was my roommate last year,” Jess said, uncharacteristically quiet.

Poe frowned, but was quickly distracted by a soft gasp from Kare. He looked over at her, and saw his bold, fearless friend covering her mouth in what looked like shock.

“Was she … was she a bad roommate?” Poe asked, something awful churning in his gut. He didn’t want to ask. Didn’t want to know. But at the same time, Rey was an enigma, and if he’d been reading this wrong-

“No.” Jess shook her head and glared at the granite countertop. She fiddled with the cap of her bottle and avoided Poe’s steady gaze. “No, she was- she was a really, really great roommate. Super smart. So kind. So hard-working. Here on scholarship, and we all know Takodana doesn’t like to give those out.” Jess looked up, and her expression was again unreadable.

“Then, why the-” 

A movement from the corner of his eye caught his attention; he turned in time to see Kare silently shaking her head at Jess, who made a face in return. 

“She had a really shitty second semester.” Jess pushed away from the counter and came to sit on the ottoman next to Kare, who crooned softly and began to comb her fingers through Jess’s dark hair. “And that’s all I’m comfortable saying, except that Rey’s a really great person, and I like her a lot, even if we aren’t close anymore.”

“...Okay.” Poe nodded, a little overwhelmed with the sudden, mysterious input from one of his oldest friends. “Um-”

“Did you guys see that Antilles added another fucking essay to the syllabus?” Iolo looked up from his phone, which he’d been conveniently buried in for the length of their conversation. “Jesus Christ, that man’s trying to kill me.”

Their conversation about Rey quickly faded into the past, at least for almost everyone there. Poe found himself thinking about it, and Rey, and the sadness in Jessika’s face, for a lot longer than he should have.

She didn’t seem delicate, or fragile, so he wondered what had made her semester so bad- not that it was his place to wonder at all, or his place to assume how she was doing just because she was the top of their class and always on the ball and always so steady. He knew better than anyone that a person could act one way while falling apart inside; he also knew how bad speculation could hurt a person, thanks to years in the limelight.

So, he focused on how well Rey seemed to be doing, and how wonderful she was, and put the conversation out of his head because until Rey Kenobi opened up to him (if she ever did), it wasn’t his place to ask questions or try to find answers.


Poe figured it out by the next class: a way to spend time with Rey that was suitably low pressure (had to do with class, where they were learning something new and incredibly difficult), non-stressful (public space, in the middle of the day, and not at his apartment at night), and free.

So on Monday, he turned to Rey after Ackbar wrapped up his lecture and smiled in what he hoped was a charming way.

“Do you want to study at the library later today?” He asked, trying not to sound too hopeful. “Chapter 5 is absolutely fucking weird-”

“-Agreed-” Rey laughed, closing her notebook and smiling at him so prettily he thought his heart would stop.

“-And,” he nearly forgot what he was going to say, “And it would be cool if we could go over some notes together.”

Rey tapped her fingers on her notebook, and Poe counted time by all the heartbeats that didn’t happen-

“Yeah.” She smiled and it was brighter than the goddamn sun. “Yeah, I’d - I’d like that.”

“Cool.” Poe tried not to heave a sigh of relief, figuring that would be a little too telling. “How does- four o’clock sound?”

“Sounds great.” Rey tucked her notebook into her backpack, and unlike Friday, made no effort to sprint from the room. 

“Great,” Poe echoed, definitely grinning like a damn fool. 

They forgot to stand up, busy smiling at each other, until the door behind them opened and a tired-looking senior walked into the lecture hall and paused, pouring a Five-Hour-Energy into a 48 oz. coffee.

“You okay buddy?” Poe asked, his attention finally pulled away from the goddess sitting next to him.

“RIP my life,” the senior muttered, slumping down the steps. He squinted at Poe on his way past. “Huh. That’s what I get for falling asleep watching X-Wing.” 

The boy collapsed into the row of seats right in front of them; Poe looked over at his study partner to see her barely stifling giggles behind her hand, and Poe ducked his head and started laughing too, and they stood up together and left the lecture hall and the senior having an intense existential crisis.

“I hope he’ll be alright,” Rey said genuinely as the doors closed behind them and they stood in the weak, autumn sunlight.

“The abyss definitely stared back at him this morning,” Poe joked, drawing another laugh out of Rey. She then looked, almost guiltily, down at her watch and shouldered her bag, looking nervous.

“I gotta go so I can catch the bus- I have Theoretical Mechanics, and it’s all the way in Scarif.”

“Oof.” Poe jabbed his thumb to wear his bike was leaned up against the curb. “Want me to give you a lift?”

Rey stared at it, fully open-mouthed in shock. “That’s yours ? I’ve been staring at it, like, every day since the start of term.”

“Yeah.” Poe grinned proudly at the motorcycle as they walked towards it, Rey with a look of keen interest in her eyes. “This baby is Black One. It was my mom’s, but she left it to me after she passed.”

There was that normal, awkward, horrible pause that always happened after he mentioned losing his mother, but then Rey blinked and the moment passed- and maybe it had never happened. 

“Your mother had fantastic taste.” Rey ran her hand over the back with a wistful sigh. “This is a work of art.”

“Here.” Poe pulled his spare helmet out of his bag and handed it to Rey with a grin. “Wanna go?”

Rey bit her lip and eyed the bus stop some five hundred yards away from them, but then she grinned and nodded, her eyes crinkled with the intensity of her smile. “Shit yes.”

“Alright.” Poe climbed on Black One, and offered his hand to help Rey slide on behind him. He put his own helmet on and then started the bike up, admiring the usual purr of the motor underneath him. “You okay?”

“Oh my God, yes,” Rey shouted over the roar, clearly delighted. Poe grinned and then revved the engine, somewhat for show, pulling away from the curb. Rey laughed, so close to his ear, and held onto him tightly as they flew down the road. Rey laughed , bright and free and happy in a way he’d never heard her be. 

And in that moment, Poe Dameron knew that he was totally, utterly screwed. 

Chapter Text

Poe straightened out the tupperware and stack of plates on top, hoping to make it look nice, but not too nice, inviting, but not like he’d planned it all afternoon. It was almost four, which meant Rey would be here any minute, which meant he’d have to act normal and not like his heart was beating in his throat from sheer anticipation.

Luckily, he knew a thing or two about acting, and pressure, so he took some deep breaths in through his nose, out through his mouth, and sipped some water until he felt himself calm down. 

Four came, and went, and then it was 4:10. Poe frowned and opened his lock screen, wondering if he should text Rey; he knew now that she took the bus to get around campus, and that her two o’clock professor, Mon Mothma (an austere and terrifying woman who had taught his mother, interestingly enough), liked to keep them over, but he also couldn’t shake the feeling that something bad could have happened. 

It was that sort of awfulizing his therapist had helped him work on a decade ago, the first time he attended therapy after Shara’s death, but he still was working on not assuming the worst when someone didn’t show up, when a plan was slightly altered. For all he knew, that meant he was about to get a call that would once again change his world by breaking it down to its foundations, cracking him wide open.

But, this was different, he told himself on the first floor of the Takodana University Library, a tupperware of tamales in front of him, and his notebooks neatly and nervously laid out in front of him. This was different. Nothing bad had happened to Rey Kenobi. This was just his brain.

Sure enough, Rey came around the corner towards the group study section a minute after his mild panic, about twelve minutes late, gripping a textbook to her chest like a lifeline, her shoulders tense under the straps of her backpack. She was wearing a loose, grey sweatshirt over leggings, and her hair was up in the three, oddly cute buns that she seemed to be so fond of.

Poe stood and waved at her, trying not to frown- he didn’t care that she was late, past the worry that had coursed through him, but he did care that she looked as though she’d seen a ghost. Her skin was paler than normal, he noticed as she walked towards the table, head slightly bowed and eyes distant, causing the circles under her eyes to stand out.

“Hey.” He managed to smile when she drew up to the table. “Is here good?”
Rey blinked and looked up, eyes clouded still. “What?” He opened his mouth to repeat the question, but Rey shook her head and blinked. “No, sorry, erm- yeah, yeah this is … this is fine.” 

With a look of distinct sadness, if not distraction, Rey settled into the chair opposite his and set her textbook on the table, reaching around to pull her backpack into her lap. Poe noticed that her hands were shaking.

“...Rey?”

She didn’t look up from unzipping her bag.

“Rey, are you okay?”

She did look up, her jaw set, even through the trembling, and nodded, eyes fierce now. “I’m fine. Why?”

“You look…” Poe cleared his throat and sat back down, slowly, feeling oddly as though he should move slowly, to not startle his study partner. “You look upset, I guess?”

“And you would know when I look upset?” Rey snapped, twin flames rising on her cheeks. Poe recoiled slightly, more out of embarrassment than anything else. Because how would he know? He barely knew the details of her life, other than she lived with her uncle and liked mushrooms on her pizza, loved green things, hated waking up early but would do it, had wanted a dog her whole life, and-

Then, Rey dropped her head into her hands and let out a shaky breath. “I’m so sorry.”

“Why?” Poe had a very intense urge to reach out across the table and hold her somehow, but he had a feeling that wasn’t the move. 

“I- I just - I saw someone I didn’t expect, is all.” Rey dropped her hands and placed them in her lap, where Poe could tell she was twisting them in anxiety. Her eyes weren’t swimming with tears, but something else entirely when she looked at him, a blush creeping in across her jaw. “I...I would have rather not s-seen him.”

“Oh.” Poe nodded, feeling unmoored from the swift redirections this had taken in the last few minutes and trying to keep up. “Uh, like, an ex?” He hoped his voice didn’t crack the way he thought it had on the last word.

Rey scoffed but looked ill. “Not like an ex.”

Poe tensed at the hunted look on her face, and knew immediately he should drop the subject, but he couldn’t help adding: “...If you need anything, Kenobi, you can...you can let me know, okay?” 

He had a sudden, strange vision of some asshole hounding her- maybe some jerk she’d rejected. Poe knew the type. Hollywood was full of them. Regretfully, the whole world was, too.

Rey nodded, although it looked like she didn’t mean it; her eyes went to the notebooks in the middle of the table. “I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks.”

Don’t thank me. Poe wanted to say. Any decent person would help another person. No one should feel unsafe, ever. I want you to feel safe. 

And he did want her to feel safe, so he took a slightly shaky breath and smiled at her. “Do you want to reschedule? Or take a few minutes before we start?”

Rey blinked and looked up at him, her mind clearly going a mile a minute. He doubted it was about his question. “Can we … can we start in a little bit? Sorry, I do … I need to think about something else before I think about…” She waved her hand over the textbook.

“Beatrice ate my slippers,” Poe blurted out, and Rey blinked. A small smile crept onto her face, and it thrilled like a victory through him.

“She didn’t.”

“Yep.” Poe opened his photo library on his phone and spun it around for Rey to see. “They were gifts from Cassian Andor.”

“You know Cassian Andor?” Rey asked, looking more herself now as she peered down at the sight of Beatrice sitting on a small mound of shearling, pieces of it stuck to her muzzle tellingly. 

“Yeah, Cass has been there for me since my first real gig.” Poe grinned at the thought of his favorite mentor, the one who’d handed him the ALMA Award last winter. “He’s incredible.”

“Yeah, he is!” Rey beamed at him, and again, it hit him like an oncoming train. It wasn’t fair; he wasn’t even recovered from her last smile. “Oh my God, I must have watched Life on Fest a hundred times as a kid.”

“Same!” Poe exclaimed, only a little excited to have something in common with the mysterious genius from his math class. “Are you a sci-fi nerd too, then?”

“Maybe.” Her smile was oddly coy now, and she continued to flip through his photo album, the one titled ‘Bea-Bea Ate.’

“She eats a lot of my shit,” Poe explained, when Rey got to one of his monstrous corgi chewing on the head of a limited edition action figure. 

“Oh no, poor Captain Hernandez,” Rey giggled, and Poe laughed along with her. Rey turned bright pink then, almost stricken, but when Poe cocked his head at her, she went back to the phone, refusing to make eye contact.

“I think I look better like that,” Poe joked, and Rey nodded noncommittally, now on the destruction of his father’s hamburger from that past summer. 

“Who is he?” Rey asked, tapping on the face of his dad.

“That’s Kes.” Poe grinned, literally always happy to talk about his dad. “He’s-”

“Your father.” Rey zoomed in on him and made a soft aw sound. “You look just like him.”

“Look more like my mom, actually.” Poe blushed immediately when Rey looked up, curious but not upset anymore, at least. “She, uh, people always said we looked exactly the same.”

And then she died, but he didn’t want to add that part.

Oddly enough, Rey didn’t recoil from the casual discussion of his dead mother. Instead, she tapped the phone toward him, a sweet, shy smile on her face. “Do you have any pictures of her?”

Poe took the phone slowly, and Rey pulled back, tucking a strand of loose hair behind her ear with a renewed nervous energy. “Or not, if that’s rude, I’m sorry, I-”

“I have a lot of photos of her.” Poe put his phone down and stood up from his chair slightly to pull his wallet out. “They’re just mostly … not on the phone. She, uh, she died a while ago.”

“Oh.” Rey nodded, bright red now, but he knew why this time. No mystery there.

He flipped through his wallet to the small stack of slightly faded photographs, and pulled out the one of him in his Halloween costume at six, grinning at the camera in his missing-teeth glory, in his mother’s lap. Poe handed it to Rey carefully and pretended his chest didn’t tighten at the way she took the photo from him. Gentle. Reverent.

“Wow.” Rey skated her fingers along the photo, a centimeter above it so she wouldn’t smudge it, her fingers not shaking anymore. “I’d seen some photos of her because my … my uncle talked about her a few times, but nothing like this where she was … wow, you guys look so happy.” 

Wistful. That was the word for her expression. 

“We were happy.” Poe handed her another photo, this one of his father, his mother, and himself, when he was a toddler. “The happiest.”

Rey’s smile was heartbreaking as she examined the photo, and her eyes were bright when she handed them back. 

“You were a beautiful child,” Rey said softly. 

It didn’t feel like a sly comment, with a hint of and an even more beautiful adult, which was a response he’d gotten before. It felt honest, and that was so much worse for his crush, a crush that was quickly accelerating out of crush territory, closer to tsunami levels now. 

“Yeah, that’s because I picked the good ones,” Poe joked, “not one where I had spaghetti sauce smeared all over my face.” Rey perked up at that, looking far too interested, so he dodged. “Do you have any photos of baby Rey?”

Her face fell, and he could kick himself. He really could. “No.” She shrugged, her expression carefully neutral. “No, I, erm, I grew up in a - I guess you could call it a group home.” Rey opened her textbook to chapter five, not meeting his eyes. “I never knew my parents and didn’t know I had any family until I was almost twelve, which is when Obi found me.” Rey let a breath out and shrugged again, almost fiercely nonchalant. 

“I had no idea,” Poe said carefully, watching her expression warily. 

“Why would you?” Rey didn’t snap it, just let it hang in the air between them. “Okay, so chapter five-”

Her stomach growled. And her face turned bright red. 

Okay, time to shine - Poe mentally thanked his father a thousand times for not only showing him how to cook, but also telling him that ladies loved snacks - 

He yawned slightly, pretending he hadn’t heard her stomach (and a thanks to Cassian Andor, for coaching him when he was a kid), and cracked open the tupperware. He pulled a fork out of his backpack and poked at the tamales. “You want one?” He asked, proud of how casual he sounded. He could get another Emmy for this. “I made way too many.”

“What are they?” Rey asked, squinting down at the tupperware.

“Guatemalan tamales.” Poe tilted the box so she could see them better. “I stress eat. And I stress cook, so here we are.” She eyed them with a keen interest, and he did an imagined victory lap of the library. “Seriously, I made way too many, and Beatrice can’t eat any more of these, vet’s orders.”

“Do you mind if I try one?” Rey asked, sounding unsure, even though he’d offered twice already. “Only if you really don’t mind-”

“I always feed my study groups,” Poe boasted, and that wasn’t a lie. He just wasn’t in that many study groups. This was a study group, and … sometimes he brought pizza to Iolo when he was up late with an essay, so yeah, not a lie. “That way I’m not eating alone.”

He loaded up a plate with three tamales and slid it towards Rey, glad that he’d found a spot in the eating friendly zone of the library. Rey took a fork from him and eyed her plate with excitement, but didn’t start eating until he tucked into his first tamale. 

“Oh my God.” Rey moaned and covered her mouth, eyes fluttering shut.

Poe pretended that the sound she’d just made didn’t in any way affect him, or in any way alter his body chemistry. “Good, right?”

“So good.” Rey moaned again and leaned back in her chair, eyes still closed. “Oh fuck, how have I ever eaten anything else?”

Poe preened, glad she couldn’t see him smiling like an idiot. “Aw, stop, I’m blushing.”

“These are incredible.” Rey started in on her tamales in earnest, eating them with an intense focus Poe usually applied to driving his motorcycle or practicing his lines. He grinned hard enough to make his cheeks hurt the whole time: when she finished the three, he was halfway through his first one. 

“Want some more?” Poe asked, already sliding more tamales onto her plate.

“Oh, alright.” Rey sighed happily and took another bite, her eyes fluttering shut again, but no noise that time, a noise that, admittedly, made it slightly difficult for Poe to sit in his jeans. “I guess we should start studying?”

“Yeah,” Poe agreed, having almost entirely forgot that they were there to study. “We should.”

The next hour passed by blissfully, aided by Poe’s lingering pride in having successfully cheered Rey up with stories and photos and food (and he laughed at himself, he really did, for the caveman like surge of joy he had in providing for the girl he liked, me Poe, you Rey, here food ).

They were both laughing over a terrible joke Poe had made about vectors and space when a man walked up to the table, startling Rey slightly- which made Poe tense, given how their study session had started. But, then she grinned at the newcomer. 

“Finn!”

“Hey, peanut.” He- Finn- stroked Rey’s hair affectionately, and Poe tensed again, this time for a different, uncomfortable, jealous reason. “How was your day?”

“It was…” She shifted in her seat, eyes darting to Poe so quickly he was sure he wasn’t supposed to have seen it. “Ups and downs.”

“I got your text.” Finn sighed and dropped into an open chair. Rey leaned into him like a sunflower in the sunlight, and Poe felt his heart twist into a tense, tight ball: this Finn, who was incredibly handsome, with a big smile and a kind face, was clearly… “I’m Finn Calrissian, by the way.” He turned to Poe, hand outstretched, and Poe took it. It wasn’t this guy’s fault that he was dating the girl Poe had a massive crush on; Rey looked infinitely happy now that he was here, and Poe couldn’t begrudge her that.

“Poe Dameron.” Poe shook his hand, and tried not to watch the way Rey leaned into the man’s side. “That last name’s pretty familiar.”

“My grandfather is Lando Calrissian.” Finn grinned and shrugged, wrapping an arm around Rey’s shoulder in a way that wasn’t the least bit possessive, the way some guys did it: no, it was a comfortable gesture, one that Rey didn’t shy away from. 

Well, Poe had a feeling he’d be crying in the shower later, but for right now, he could make a new friend.

“Whew.” Poe let out a whistle. “That guy’s a legend.”

“Lando? That old fart?” Finn snorted. “He cheats at Go Fish.”

Poe laughed genuinely at that, at the idea of the legendary businessman cheating his grandson at card games to the point that he spoke so dismissively of the self-made billionaire from Queens, and Rey giggled too. 

“Rey let me know she was studying with a friend at the library.” Finn’s expression was odd now. Assessing. Poe felt his cheeks heat up under the scrutiny, wondering if Finn was going to accuse him of harboring feelings for his girlfriend, but the expression didn’t contain any anger. More of a controlled, hidden message that Poe couldn’t decode. “She didn’t mention it was her famous math buddy.”

Rey elbowed Finn. Weird. 

“Uh.” Poe shrugged. “Not that famous.”

“Yeah, okay.” Finn grinned at him, the moment passing, and then squeezed Rey’s shoulder before letting her go. “Peanut, she talked to me today!”

She? 

“She did?” Rey laughed and closed her notebook carefully, smirking over at Poe. He took the cue and closed up his notes as well, beginning to pack up, his heart somewhat sore from her easygoing affection with this terribly handsome man. “No way! Did you manage to talk back this time?”

“Yes.” Finn sighed and propped his chin on his hand, looking over to Poe with a lovesick expression. “Oh, Poe, this girl. This girl, Poe.”

“This girl?” Poe asked, shooting a confused look at Rey, who was only giggling behind her hand, not at all perturbed by Finn’s sighing. 

“This girl in his weight-lifting elective,” Rey snorted, shoving her textbook into her worn-down backpack. 

“She can outlift me,” Finn added dreamily, staring out the window now as though she were walking by at that moment; but, when Poe looked, no one was there. “She’s so strong.”

“Finn, I can outlift you.”

“That’s true!” Finn pushed her shoulder playfully, and Rey pushed him back. And Poe stared at them both, realizing slowly how he’d misread the situation. “Rey can bench press me. We’ve tried it!”

“Finn,” Rey muttered, bright red again.

“But this girl, Poe.” Finn shook his head and sighed once more. “We’re so close to a connection, I can feel it. I might even get her number soon.”

“I’m sure,” Rey rolled her eyes and zipped her bag shut. “Finn’s a total genius at tactics and strategy. He’s studying Game Theory, for God’s sake.” She stuck her tongue out at him when he wrinkled his nose at her. “But he can’t figure out how to talk to a girl in his class.”

“We did talk today.” Finn grumbled. “I just told you.”

“Mhm.” Rey smiled sweetly at Poe, who was feeling the painful resurrection of hope in his chest because Rey and Finn were like brother and sister and he was wrong and maybe Rey wasn’t seeing anyone right now. “We do have to go, though.” She fiddled with the straps of her backpack. 

“We’re training for a half marathon,” Finn said proudly, “Well, I’m trying to train, and Rey’s kicking my ass.”

“I needed a running buddy, and you came through,” Rey stood and pulled her backpack on, and Poe shoved his books unceremoniously into his bag, wanting to head out with them, maybe to prolong their time a little more. 

They walked towards the front doors as a group, and Finn proved himself to be as gregarious and genial as Poe expected. When they got outside, Rey waved at Poe shyly, and he waved back.

“See you in class on Monday,” Poe said, hoping he didn’t sound as wistful as he expected. 

“Or, you can see us tomorrow,” Finn said. Rey poked him in the side, and he swatted her. “We’re going pumpkin picking tomorrow!”

“You are?” Poe asked, half-grinning as Rey poked Finn again. 

“Mhm.” Finn swatted at Rey’s hand, and she turned beet red. Interesting. “We’re leaving from Darklighter around nine a.m. I have a car, so I can drive us.”

“Sounds great,” Poe said carefully, waiting for Rey to say no, you aren’t actually invited, but Rey just looked oddly...pleased, but like she was trying not to be pleased. Huh.

“See you then. C’mon, Peanut.” Finn gripped Rey’s arm gently and pulled her away, down towards the parking lot behind the library. She stared at Poe before turning and following Finn.

Poe watched, bemused, as they pushed and shoved at each other as they walked down the sidewalk, and, at the last second, Rey turned around and saw him watching them. He blushed, having been caught, but Rey waved at him, shyly, and Poe waved back, a hopeless grin on his face.

Then, Rey turned back around and shoved Finn hard enough that he stumbled slightly to the side, and the two chased each other down into the parking lot and out of sight, their laughter audible from a distance.

Poe pulled his phone out, still grinning, and saw that his manager had texted him.

[ Snap, 5:52 p.m. ]: hey man, how’s your semester going?

Pretty good, he replied. ...what does…’pumpkin picking” entail? 

[Snap, 5:59 p.m.]: as the youth would say, lollollollollollollollollol


There was no way Poe didn’t know.

Rey writhed on the seat all the way to the pumpkin patch, praying that she looked okay in her jeans and slightly nicer than normal sweater, that the hairstyle Finn had helped her with this morning, a braid crown, didn’t look weird, hating that she cared in the first place.

Poe, sitting in the backseat, kept up an easy conversation with Finn as they drove to the pumpkin patch, his forearm resting on the back of Rey’s seat, emitting a heat that she was pretty sure she was imagining, that she was pretty sure wasn’t really leaking through to reach her in the way she thought it was. 

She’d been more quiet than she’d planned, flushed and shy and awkward in more intense way than normal, having stayed up all night worrying about how this would go; it was going pretty well, she could recognize, other than her own less than stellar response to it. Rey managed to nod and hum here and there when Poe kindly directed a question her way, or when Finn tried to tease a real response out of her, but inside she was fairly sure she was dying.

Poe had seen her at the library, after all. Before he’d calmed her down- and she still couldn’t believe that it had worked- she was nearing a panic attack to the level they’d reached last spring, when Obi had to move into the hotel near campus so she could have him close by, tanking his finances (something Obi didn’t blame her for, but she sure as hell did). And, with his careful question of was it an ex? and her incredibly telling response, there was no way Poe hadn’t begun to piece it together. No doubt he’d caught wind of some of the rumors by now anyway, and she was just waiting for him to ask her outright if there were any credence to them. 

If only she hadn’t seen him on her way to the library. If only he hadn’t crossed her path like a poltergeist, hadn’t smirked at her stumbling back from him, hadn’t been right there at the perfect time to ruin her entire day. If only she hadn’t been such a mess when she was supposed to be flirty and fun and happy the way all the other girls her age seemed to be. 

But, Poe let on no indication that it had bothered him. And Rey was pretty sure he was just a very good actor.

As they piled out of the car at the pumpkin patch, she immediately stepped in a divot on the ground, her ankle twisting slightly, throwing her off-balance.

“Whoa,” Poe murmured, reaching out to steady her. His grip was gentle on her arm, and brief, only holding her long enough to help her get righted, and he let go the second his help wasn’t needed anymore. “Careful, Kenobi.”

“Yeah, yeah, Dameron.” Rey shoved her hands in her pockets, blushing already, hoping it could be chalked up to the chill in the air. “Thanks.”

“Don’t mention it.” Poe nodded his chin towards Finn, who was already ambling towards the stand at the front of the fields. “I think we’re getting left behind.”

“Yeah.” Rey laughed awkwardly as they went to follow Finn, the ground still slightly frosted from the night before. They grabbed a wheelbarrow from the bored looking teenager working the booth, and headed out into Field C, where Finn and Poe immediately began rolling pumpkins around with increasing levels of somber examination.

“This bad boy right here,” Finn said on the fifth row, slapping an orange gourd on the side, “this bad boy can hold at least fifteen candles.”

“Think about the pepitas,” Poe sighed wistfully, patting another pumpkin and testing it with his boot. “Good firmness on this pumpkin, Calrissian. You don’t see that a lot these days.”

“You really don’t, Dameron.” Finn tsked and heaved the pumpkin into the wheelbarrow. “A lot of drugging happening these days, you don’t see real competitors much.”

Rey giggled, and Poe looked up, bright-eyed and happy, in time to see her shiver.

“You cold?” He asked softly as Finn turned to the next pumpkin (who he declared a very smol, very orange boi ). 

“A little.” Rey shivered again, and shrugged. She really did need to replace her jacket. “I’ll get over-” Poe took his jacket off without hesitating and held it out to her- “..it.”

“Or, you could be warm.” Poe didn’t pull away, even when she made no move to take it. “C’mon, I run hot, and you must be freezing.” He was wearing a thick, orange and blue sweater under his jacket, and it looked fairly warm. It also hugged his chest in a way that drew Rey’s attention in a way her attention hadn’t been drawn in almost a year. 

“Um.” Rey eyed Finn, who was talking to his pumpkin now as though it were a child. “Yeah, th-thanks.”

“Don’t mention it.” Poe helped her pull her arms through the sleeves and then stepped back before she could really analyze how close they were standing. “There, a perfect fit!”

The jacket was almost hilariously big on her: Poe was only an inch or two taller than she was, but much broader, and the leather jacket (which smelled like motor oil and sandalwood and something else that made her stomach tighten and not from nerves) hung around her frame loosely. But, it was incredibly warm, and Rey burrowed into it happily.

“Thank you,” she whispered, and Poe hummed and smiled at her.

“Suits you.” He smiled and ducked his head. “Your hair looks really nice today.”

“Oh?” Poe looked back up and nodded, something soft and warm in his eyes. Rey felt herself start to glow. Weird. “Uh, Finn helped me-”

A pumpkin rolled past them. “Guys! All the good pumpkins will be gone if you don’t hurry up!”

“No one is here, buddy,” Poe shouted back, turning away and stomping towards Finn, hands in the air. “And we have over a dozen pumpkins!”

“Need more!” Finn shouted, diving into the next row. Rey shook her head, feeling shaken by how Poe had been looking at her a second ago, and grabbed the wheelbarrow, following the boys down the next row. 


Rey dozed off in the car on the way back, curled up in the backseat and resting on their collection of pumpkins, and she heard Finn and Poe whispering at some point, but couldn’t clearly hear them. She woke only when they pulled up in front of Darklighter, and Poe opened her door for her.

“Hey there, Sunshine.” He teased her, and Rey smiled sleepily up at him.

His expression stuttered somehow, and he bit his lip and looked away. “Do you need help with those?” He asked, pointing vaguely towards the pumpkins.

“Hm?” Rey was still trying to wake up, and yawned behind her hand. Poe looked away again, and Rey wondered if she looked that bad when she woke up. “Oh, uh, yeah, that’d be great.”

They unloaded pumpkins quietly, bringing them up to Finn’s double that he shared with a cheerful guy who Finn had inexplicably nicknamed Nines. 

When there were no pumpkins left, they stood at the car together, Finn having excused himself to go talk to the RA about having a pumpkin carving night with the newly acquired pumpkins. Rey locked the car and tucked the key into her pocket.

“That was fun,” she said softly. “I liked that.”

“Me too.” Poe scuffed his foot on the asphalt and smiled. “I really like Finn.”

“Me too.” Rey fidgeted with the edge of the jacket before she remembered it wasn’t hers. “Oh, here, you should-”

“Keep it.” Poe turned bright red. “For now, I mean. It’s going to be cold tonight, and Finn said you guys were going to that outdoor concert.”

“Yeah.” Rey nodded and bit her lip. Poe’s eyes tracked the movement, and she shivered, and not from the cold. Invite him, something whispered despite all her hang-ups about inviting men places. Invite him to come. “Hey, would you, uh, want to-”

Poe’s phone rang, shrilly, and he seemed to shake himself. “I’m sorry,” he said earnestly, “Fuck, sorry, that’s my manager’s ringtone.”

“Go ahead,” Rey said, hoping that she could get some more courage by the time he got off the phone. “No worries.”

“Sorry,” he muttered again before accepting the call. “Snap, hey, what’s-”

He blanched. Rey’s stomach tightened uncomfortably. 

“Fuck, that’s so- God, and you can’t convicne them not to run- Yeah, no, I get it, they say alleged, their ass is - oh fuck, she’s going to be so pissed. Yeah, yeah man, thanks for the heads up.”

Poe sighed and hung up, slipping his phone into his pocket. He smiled weakly at her. “Hey, I gotta go. Damage control.”

“Yeah, of course.” Rey offered him a timid smile, all courage gone out the window. 

“God she’s going to be so-” Poe pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. “I’ll see you in class on Monday?”

“Yeah.” Rey nodded, wrapping her arms around herself. Poe looked at her, and he really looked at her, it felt like, in a way that didn’t hurt, but in a way that felt like it could hurt, if it were anyone else but Poe Dameron. 

“Thanks for today, Sunshine,” he said softly, and then he turned and walked to his bike, Black One roaring to life as she watched him drive away. 

“Sunshine,” she whispered to herself, her cheeks hurting from the effort of trying not to smile.

She wandered inside and sat on her bed, sliding back to the wall. Rey didn’t even bother taking the jacket off, feeling too safe and warm inside it, and she soon dozed off again, a happy and dream-free sleep. 


 

The next day, Rey walked through the grocery store, ten dollars heavy in the pocket of her borrowed jacket as she tried to figure out what to buy for the week. She added the normal cans of beans and bags of rice to her basket, and was considering the sale bags of tortilla chips when an OK magazine cover caught her eye.

The tabloids usually didn’t catch her eye, but she supposed it was only normal to be distracted by your study partner’s face staring at you from the front of a magazine. 

Rey pulled the magazine from the rack and stared at the cover, her stomach plummeting. It was a picture of Poe from the red carpet last year, and the insert was of him with an arm around a girl, a very pretty woman who Rey recognized as an actress. Zorri something, maybe? Poe was whispering something in the woman’s ear, and she was smiling, part of a very private joke.

Poe Dameron’s Alleged Marriage - Confirmed? The cover read, and Rey felt the warmth drain out of her fingertips. She set the tabloid back into place carefully and walked to the self check-out, wishing to be home as soon as possible so she could bury her face in her pillow and not be the sort of person who cried in the middle of a Kroger. 

Married. Rey thought about the wedding ring Poe wore on a necklace, something that had caught her eye more than once when they studied because his hand always went to it when he was thinking.  Of course he - of course they weren’t- of course he was just being kind to her because he’d no doubt heard the stories. It hadn’t meant anything. 

Rey paid for her items and left the store; and later, she wouldn’t be able to recall the walk home at all. 

Chapter Text

The golden light filtered into the backseat, and Poe found himself turned in the seat, studying, for a second longer than he should have, the sight of Rey Kenobi curled up, her knees tucked to her chest, and her arms supporting her head as she rested against the biggest pumpkin.

With a dopey smile on his face, he straightened back out in his seat; but then he caught a glimpse of Finn Calrissian smirking at him.

“What?” Poe whispered, loud enough to be heard over the quiet sound of the radio.

“Nothin’.” Finn didn’t stop smirking, and Poe saw his eyes dart to the rearview mirror. “How long have you known Rey?”

“Uh.” Poe thought about it. “We started hanging out a few weeks ago, I guess. We introduced ourselves on the first day of classes because Ackbar wanted us to, but I didn’t feel, uh, comfortable talking to her right away.”

“You didn’t feel comfortable? Around Peanut?” Finn frowned, and Poe hastened to explain.

“She was just - she’s really smart, right?” Finn nodded slowly, clearly more than aware of Rey’s genius-like abilities. “And she’s … she’s obviously pretty,” Poe added, muttering, feeling heat creep up around his collar, watching Finn smirk again, “And - and it was hard to find an excuse to talk to her.”

“So how did you?” Finn asked, still quiet. “Only asking because I, too, am trying to talk to my crush.”

“I didn’t say-” Poe hissed, but looked over his shoulder to make sure Rey was still asleep. She was: and the golden-red hues of sunset coaxed the highlights from her hair and cast a gentle shadow down the regal curve of her neck. Poe cleared his throat. “Fine. Yeah, so - she talked to me first.”

“She did?” Finn seemed surprised at that; Poe figured it had something to do with how shy Rey was.

“Yeah. Asked me if she could copy notes that she missed when she went to the restroom; Ryan, the guy who used to sit between us, had skipped class that day. Thank God he did because it meant she asked me.”

“You’ve got a big crush on her then.” Finn grinned over at him, one hand on the steering wheel, the other arm propped up against the window.

Poe let out a breath, unwilling to lie. “Yeah,” he admitted, checking the side view mirror to see if he could see her at that angle. He could. God, she was beautiful. “Bigger than a crush, though. I … I like her, Finn. I really do.”

“And if she doesn’t want to date you?” He’d phrased it so oddly that Poe wondered if Rey had some unspoken rule about not dating; maybe Finn had run into the same rule?

“Then she doesn’t want to date me.” Poe shrugged and shifted in his seat. “It’ll hurt, but shit, I’d still want to be her friend. She’s one of the coolest people I’ve ever met.”

“She really is,” Finn agreed, and they smiled at each other.

“Not that it matters,” Poe muttered, staring out the window, “I can’t even figure out how to tell her I like her without coming across as creepy.”

“You won’t,” Finn answered automatically. “At least, I hope you won’t.”

“Me too.” Poe ran a hand through his hair and huffed a sigh. “But I don’t like talking about this too much while she’s asleep right there, so, uh-”

“So how about the Mets?” Finn said genially, and they switched topics with a great ease. 

And then they got out of the car, and Rey had seemed like she was about to invite him to the concert, and hope swelled in his chest- and then Snap had called and Poe’s weekend went from fantastic, amazing, incredible to a flaming garbage pile. 


 

By that following Monday, Poe was looking forward to Linear Algebra with a level of enthusiasm he would not have been able to predict when he registered for the class all those months ago.

Sunday had passed in a blur: he’d had to call his father first and insist that he wasn’t married (that hurt, that his father thought for a second it might be true, but at least he’d believed Poe the second he said it wasn’t), that he wasn’t secretly engaged, or even seeing anyone. He’d then talked to his dad for an hour about the girl he did like, and Kes had been gleeful enough that Poe’s mood was buoyed into his phone call to Zorri Bliss.

And talking to Zorri was always...interesting. They’d worked together on a project that was coming out that spring, and they’d become somewhat friends during filming. It didn’t change the fact that Zorri was purposefully condescending to him- she was an indie star with a lot more cred under her belt, who’d dismissed him at first due to his sci-fi roots, and his status as what she called a teen heartthrob . They’d parted on much better terms though, even if Poe was definitely sure he never wanted to work with her again.

She also had a nasty temper, a temper he had to deal with when he called her to discuss the tabloid eruption. At least she’d been furious with the paparazzi more than him, namely because her partner of four years had seen the photos and tantalizing headlines, causing a massive fight, apparently. While he wasn’t necessarily yelled at, he was yelled to, and that hadn’t been a whole lot better.

So, when Monday rolled around, bringing Linear Algebra and the promise of talking to Rey with it, Poe basically skipped to his bike and sped to the heart of campus with a wild grin on his face. Nerves settled in his stomach like butterflies as he took his seat fifteen minutes early, and he waited anxiously for Rey to show up. 

The seat next to him remained empty though. Poe frowned and turned in his seat around ten a.m. but there was no sign of Rey scurrying in; Dr. Ackbar started right on time, as usual, and Poe tapped his pencil against the desk in front of him a few times before shaking his head and starting to take notes. And they were some of the best notes he’d ever taken- Rey might be sick, he figured, unable to come to class, and she’d want the notes. It was, as he’d told Finn, the reason she started talking to him at all, and the reason he’d felt like he could ask her if she wanted to study with him. Rey cared about class, and he cared about Rey, and so he cared about the notes that day even more than normal.

Ackbar dismissed them a few minutes early, and Poe gathered up his things right as he reminded them of their next exam, scheduled for mid-November. There were only three weeks between the “midterm” and the final, so there were a few grumbles around the classroom; Poe didn’t particularly care though, as a third midterm meant another chance to raise his average in the class, so he was swinging his messenger bag onto his shoulder while a loud senior in the front started to argue with Ackbar.

Poe rolled his eyes and stood up, and as he planted his foot on the landing nearest his row, his knee twinged. “Fuck,” he muttered, wincing and rubbing his leg above the old injury. “Well, shit.” It had been a while since he had to ice it, but he was discovering that even though he was only 25, his body was more resistant than it used to be to basic movements, and apparently, he could no longer plant his foot a certain way without his knee screaming in pain. Great. 

Cursing the name of the bastard who’d caused the injury, Poe walked up the stairs. And that’s when he saw her: Rey Kenobi, in the back row, wearing a way too big sweatshirt that covered her hands, circles under her eyes, tapping a pencil listlessly against her notebook as she stared into space.

“Rey?” Poe said her name softly, not wanting to startle her, but she twitched anyway and looked at him with a guilty expression. He paused in front of her seat as the rest of the class began to file out, clearly having given up the task of changing Ackbar’s mind. “Hey, I was worried about you.”

“Oh.” Rey bit her lip and pulled her hands into her lap. “I’m - sorry?”

“Don’t be-” Poe laughed nervously and then stood out of the way to let the person sitting next to Rey climb out of the row. He returned to waiting for Rey, unsure if she’d hidden back here on purpose or not. He couldn’t stop himself from asking: “Were you running late today?”

“Yeah.” Rey nodded and tucked her hair behind her ear- she wore it loose today, and Poe thought she looked pretty, but more than that, she looked tired, and she also wouldn’t meet his eyes. “Missed the bus.”

“If that happens again, you can always ask me for a ride,” Poe said, heart jumping in his chest at the audacity of the offer.

Rey nodded but didn’t look like she’d actually heard him. “Yeah, cool. Uh.” She shoved her notebook in her backpack and stood up. “Thanks.”

They walked out together, awkwardly, in silence, and Rey still wouldn’t look at him.

“I had a really great time on Saturday,” Poe tried as they crossed the foyer of Mon Cala. “Way better than the rest of my weekend.”

“Right.” Rey smiled, all teeth. It didn’t reach her eyes at all, not that Poe could really see her eyes with her hair hanging in her face. He wanted to tuck some of it behind her ear, wanted to stop walking, wanted to talk to her, figure out what was wrong, but Rey didn’t seem inclined to stop. “It was fun.”

She spoke dully, with little to inflection, and the weak, late October sun was waiting for them on the other side, reminding Poe of his new nickname of her, the one he’d given her on Saturday when everything was light and happy and good. He paused right outside the doors, and Rey did too, but she stared at the ground. 

“Can I offer you a ride to your next class?” Poe rubbed his neck when Rey glanced over at him, but her eyes slid back to the ground in front of her after a second. “Just, Scarif is kind of a haul, right?”

“That’d be…” Rey chewed on her lip and looked at him straight on, for the first time all morning. “Are you sure it’d be okay?”

“Why wouldn’t it be-” Poe adjusted the strap of his bag on his shoulder and shifted his weight slightly to take some pressure off of his knee. “Are you okay?”

“Am I-” Rey scoffed and looked angry, eyes flashing. “I’m always okay, Dameron. Why wouldn’t I be okay?”

“I don’t know,” Poe said genuinely, feeling unmoored. “But … if you weren’t, that’d...that’d be...okay.”

Rey quirked her mouth oddly, as though considering what he’d said. “And what would you do if I said I wasn’t okay?”

“I’d ask if there was anything I could do. And if there wasn’t, then I’d be happy to listen.” Rey was clutching the straps of her backpack as though it were a parachute, her face grey and her eyes sad, and Poe took a wild leap of possibly poor judgment and touched her elbow gently, leaving his hand flat against her arm.

She didn’t seem angry, at least, and she didn’t pull away, but the next time she looked him in the eyes, she was reproachful.

“Do you … want to talk? Tell me anything?” Poe hedged nervously, searching her face for answers, wondering if he’d upset her somehow when he’d left so quickly on Saturday.

“I-” Rey nodded, but before she could fully explain, there was a clatter to Poe’s left, and he looked over to see a collection of photographers waiting for him.

“Well, fuck,” Poe swore, dropping his hand from Rey’s arm immediately.

“Who-” Rey began, but the paparazzi started talking over her.

“Poe!” A flash went off, and Poe groaned and turned his back on Rey, walking towards them in the hopes of drawing their attention off of her. “Poe, is that your girlfriend?”

“Don’t have one of those,” he said honestly, gritting his teeth. “Guys, you know the rules, you can’t come on campus, come on-”

“Poe, does Zorri know you’re cheating on her?” Another flash, and Poe prayed Rey had the sense to run away by now.

“I’m not with Zorri,” Poe snapped. “And I wouldn’t cheat on anyone. Now guys, seriously, you need to leave, or security is going to remove you.”

“She isn’t as pretty as Zorri.” The man in the front of the little crowd peered over Poe’s shoulder and frowned, clearly unaware that Poe was inches away from breaking his nose, a loud sound roaring in his ears. “She does look familiar though-”

“Who is she?” Another one shouted from the back. “What’s your name, sweetheart?”

“Fuck off,” Poe snarled, and when the first photographer tried to walk towards Rey, camera in front of his face, he snagged it and ripped it away from his face. 

“Hey!” The paparazzo shouted in protest, “You can’t do that-”

“And you can’t use any of these photos,” Poe reminded him with a thinly controlled smile. “At least, not the ones of a student on campus. Those are the rules, gentlemen.”

“What’s your name?” The guy shouted at Rey, and Poe snapped, throwing the camera at him before jabbing his finger at him.

“You don’t get to talk to her,” he hissed. “Now get the fuck off this campus.”

“Fine.” The first paparazzo smirked and looked at Rey one last time. “But we will figure out who your new girlfriend is.”

“She isn’t my-” Poe clenched his hands into fists and forced himself to loosen them a second later. “Fuck off, Terex.”

“See you, Poe.” Terex turned tail and walked off, and after a minute of Poe staring at them, the others did too.

“Sorry.” Poe let the tension bleed out of his shoulders and pulled his phone out of his pocket, hoping that Snap could handle this. “I’m so fucking-”

He turned to see Rey still standing there, staring at him as though she’d never seen him before; nausea rose in his throat, and he felt his eyes burn, mortifyingly enough, with tears.

“I’m sorry,” he repeated hoarsely. “I’m so sorry-”

“Do they really think you’d cheat on your wife with … with a nobody like me?” Rey whispered, and she looked like she was about to cry too. “I-”

“My wife?” Poe blinked in confusion and then pieces fell into place, the timing of the article and photographs, Rey’s weird behavior, all of it- “You...did you see the tabloids this weekend?”

Rey blushed and looked away, and that was a good enough answer.

“Rey, I’m not-” Poe deflated even more, but the nausea lingered. “I- do you think I’d be that scummy?”

“No,” Rey whispered, and he took a few steps towards her and saw that she was shaking. Fair enough. Dealing with the paparazzi was bad enough when you were used to it- Poe wanted to know how they knew his schedule so he could hunt down whoever had leaked it and fire them. 

“Let’s sit for a second?” Poe said, posing it like a question as he gestured to a bench right outside the doors of Mon Cala. Rey nodded and followed him, sitting down with a healthy space between them. She swung her backpack into her lap and wrapped her arms around it as though it were a shield, and Poe leaned back, took a deep breath, and then dialed Snap.

“I gotta- I need to talk to my manager real quick,” Poe explained, and Rey nodded, her gaze distant again.

Snap picked up on the third ring.

“Poe!” He roared into the phone. “How are you-”

“Six paparazzi,” Poe gritted out. “On Takodana campus. They took photos of me and another student.”

“The girl from the pumpkin patch?” Snap guessed, and Poe eyed Rey to see if she’d overheard somehow before grunting an affirmative. “Shit. Were you two …”

“Were we what?” Poe snapped when he didn’t finish the sentence.

“Were you two doing anything indecent?” Snap asked bluntly.

“What? No!” Poe coughed and glared at the ground. “No, we were leaving class and they ambushed us. Nothing untoward, but Snap, you can’t let them publish her photo, she’s just a student here, she shouldn’t have to-”

“I’ll take care of it.” Snap groaned and Poe swore he could hear him slamming his head into his desk once or twice. “God, Dameron, call with good news once in a while, would you?”

“No promises,” Poe muttered.

“Like maybe when you finally grow a pair and ask Pumpkin Girl out on a date and maybe even get la-”

“Bye Snap.” Poe hung up without any further warning, and his phone buzzed with a text, no doubt Snap cursing him out, before he even put it back in his pocket.

Rey was unzipping her backpack by then, and she fished out his jacket, folded carefully. She handed it to him without looking at him, only looking at the jacket.

“Thanks for letting me borrow it,” Rey said, and he took it from her, wanting to say you should keep it, but wanting to say a hundred other things too.

He figured the best one to start with was: “I’m not married. I haven’t had a serious relationship since I was eighteen years old.”

“Jess?” Rey guessed, and Poe blinked in surprise before frowning and shaking his head.

“No, Jess is just a friend. And she would have been fourteen when I was eighteen, and that wouldn’t have been… no, I, uhm,” he rubbed his neck, not sure how to phrase it because no one knew it, but he figured Rey wasn’t the sort of person to sell information about someone, “it was a guy, actually, and not a famous guy either.”

“Oh.” Rey looked at him for real then, eyes wide and glassy. “Oh my God, I’m - I didn’t know that you were, uh-”

“I’m bi,” Poe said quickly, wondering if Terex had managed to light him on fire before he left because it honestly felt like he was on fire. “I’m - I’m bi, I’ve had male and female partners, but no serious relationship since- uhm- but, I’m not - I’m not married, definitely not married-”

Rey stared at her hands, eyes still massive, and Poe cursed his awkwardness. 

“I didn’t mean to … look for that sort of information,” Rey said carefully, and Poe felt his chest tighten. “I wasn’t - I wasn’t googling you...or anything, I was at the grocery store, and I saw the cover, and … and I remembered that you do wear a wedding ring, so I thought, maybe.” It was like an optical illusion: Rey seemed to get smaller the longer she spoke, and Poe felt smaller and smaller the more she spoke.

Swallowing hard, Poe pulled his necklace over his head and held the ring out, the chain swinging from it slowly. Rey paused for a long moment before taking it from him; she shifted her backpack off her lap, took the ring, and weighed it in the palm of her small hand, and Poe tried not to stare at how the light caught on it, or how it looked against her skin, in her hand. 

“My mother died when I was ten years old,” he said, the pain still fresh a decade and a half later, “and she was my father’s best friend. They were … they were soulmates. That might sound cheesy, but it wasn’t. If you’d seen them together,” he shook his head, and Rey watched him, the fingers of her other hand tracing the ring gently, “you’d know. It was true love, what they had. And when she died, my dad, uh, he wasn’t really ever the same, but he wasn’t … he wasn’t the kinda person who was just going to stop talking about her, or loving her, or loving me. I know I was lucky that way because my mom died, but I didn’t lose her. Not really.”

Rey made a small noise that could have been from pain.

“He gave that to me when I started acting. Said I needed something to ground myself, and that was the reminder that one day I’d find the perfect partner, the person who I loved more than anything else in the whole world, more than myself, more than money, more than fame- and I needed to be the best person I could be, every day, so that when I met them, I wouldn’t have to transform to be the sort of person who deserved them. I’d already be that person, and they could love me for who I was in return.”

Rey closed her fingers around the ring and tilted her head at him, and he realized he was crying. Poe wiped the tears away, not really embarrassed, and propped his knees on his elbows, staring at his hands. “That ring wouldn’t go to Zorri Bliss,” he snorted at the very idea of it, “And it didn’t go to the boy I was in love with at eighteen, if only because part of me knew I wasn’t ready for that sort of commitment yet. When I give that ring to someone, that’ll be it, just like it was it for my dad when he gave it to my mom.”

What he didn’t say was this: he’d never let anyone hold the ring before. Not once. Not ever. And here was Rey Kenobi, holding the ring gently in her small, perfect, calloused hand, looking at him in a way that hurt, so he couldn’t look back at her. 

“No one’s ever…” Rey slipped the ring into his hands, and Poe swore her hand lingered against his for a heartbeat; when he closed his fingers around the necklace, she pulled away, slower than she could have, her thumb brushing against his knuckles and making his heart race. 

“No one’s ever what, Sunshine?” Poe looked up at her, eyes still damp, and Rey smiled, not at him, but at the ring in his hands. It was a sad smile, and Poe thought it half-broke his heart.

“I can’t imagine...ever being loved like that.” Rey admitted shyly. “I guess I’m just not the kind of person that people love.” And there wasn’t a hint of self-pity in her voice. It was matter-of-fact, and it broke his heart all the way, and Poe shook his head in immediate denial.

“Don’t you know?” He asked, his voice rough. Rey glanced at him, surprised. “You are that kind of person,” Poe said, well aware that he was well on his way to exposing his feelings in a way that set him up to get his heart crushed, but it felt more important in that moment to have Rey understand, to not have her think the opposite was true. “And one day, someone’s going to love you so much, and in the right way. They’ll love every part of you, and you won’t ever have to doubt it.”

“I-” Rey’s face crumpled, and she stood without warning. “I really have to get to Physics.” Her voice broke halfway through the statement, and Poe honestly hated himself.

The bus was pulling up, five hundred feet away, and Poe didn’t get to his feet, completely aware that he’d overstepped, and kicking himself internally. 

“I’m sorry,” he said earnestly, shaking his head at his stupidity. “I didn’t mean to be so intense, I-”

“It’s fine.” Rey shouldered her backpack, clearly crying and shook her head. “It’s- I’ll see you later-”

And then she was gone, almost running for the bus, flagging the driver down, and she left Poe behind on the bench, the ring cold in his hands, and his heart colder in his chest.

Chapter Text

The bus window rattled against Rey’s head as she closed her eyes and tried to stop the tears in her eyes. It was ridiculous- she hadn’t cried in front of anyone in months, had kept it locked down, far out of sight, that rising tide of grief that often threatened to swallow her whole, but Poe Dameron said fifteen nice words to her and she turned into a puddle.

“Get it together,” she hissed to herself through gritted teeth, pressing her fingers to the sore spot between her eyebrows. Her breath caught in her throat, once, twice, but she breathed through it, chest stuttering. 

This was not the worst that had happened to her. Crying in front of the boy she liked was not the worst thing that had happened to her. It was embarrassing. Very. But it was not the worst thing.

You are that kind of person,” the echo of Poe’s voice caught up with her, and Rey shook her head angrily, folding her arms around her. 

Stupid. Stupid of her to expose her grief in front of a guy she barely knew but very much liked. Stupid of her to think that she could have something like that when so much had been ruined already. Stupid of her to like him in the first place. The relief of discovering he wasn’t married was so far outweighed by the mortification of what happened right after that she felt like all of that had happened to an entirely different person. 

Rey felt like a different person every hour of the day sometimes. 

She glared out the window and tried to wipe her mind blank; the bus hit a pothole, jarring her slightly, and the voice in her ears morphed from the gentle kindness of Poe Dameron to a cold, slimy one:

You’re nobody,” it warned, “Nothing. But not to-”

“No,” Rey said, much louder than she meant to. The woman in front of her turned to look at her with concern, and Rey shook her head and looked back out the window, her chest tight with panic. He didn’t get to live in her head, she reminded herself grimly, he didn’t get to tell her how to feel. She’d been to hell and back in the last year, scraping and scrambling and scavenging for every last reserve of strength she could manage.

She would not be undone by a crush; she would not be undone by a ghost that still haunted the campus; she would not be undone by any of this. 

Rey took one last, deep, shuddering breath and steeled herself to putting this silly crush on Poe Dameron- Oscar nominee Poe Dameron , she reminded herself, Golden Globe Winner Poe Dameron - far behind her. The bus neared Scarif, and she yanked the cord to request the stop; as she hopped off the last step and swept up towards the Physics building, a leaf skittered over her shoe, the color of well worn leather, and without bidding, another echo crossed her mind:

-one day, someone’s going to love you so much, and in the right way-

“What do you know,” Rey muttered, shouldering the glass door open and stalking into the lobby. She could hear Dr. Andor’s voice from the main lecture hall, and Rey resigned herself to seventy-four minutes of refusing to think of anything but numbers and figures and theorems, things she could analyze and study and comprehend without doubt. 

She resigned herself not to think about boys with warm voices and soft eyes, with cute dogs and motorcycles and mother’s rings. She resigned herself not to think about Poe Dameron and his ridiculous belief that she could ever, ever be loved the way she so desperately, secretly wanted to be.

Stupid of her to want to believe him.


“It’s Halloween!” Finn screeched as he bounced into her room that Thursday, and Rey looked up from her notes to nod at him slowly.

“It is.” Rey went back to highlighting a passage of Andor’s lecture.

Ackbar had the flu, and while Rey hoped he got better soon, she also a little selfishly was glad he had cancelled class yesterday. It gave her an excuse not to worry about the lack of text messages from Poe. No new material meant no need to meet and study, so that was probably why he hadn’t texted her.

He’d sort of maybe sent her texts on Sunday and Monday morning, little good morning texts that, at the time, she’d ignored because she thought he was sending them behind his non-existent wife’s back. Now, she wished she could go back in time and tell herself the truth, encourage herself to text him back, let him in a little because in a few days time she was going to mortify herself and ruin whatever tentative friendship they’d built up, and-

Nope. No. She was not going to be so sad and silly over a boy, even if that boy was actually a man with broad shoulders and great hair and who cried a little when he talked about his mother and-

Nope. 

Rey’s phone buzzed, and she dove for it, scooping the crappy first generation model off her bedsheets.

It was from Finn.

[IT’S HALLOWEEN!]

“You just said that!” Rey snapped, fighting the urge to throw her brick of a phone at her best friend’s head.

“Halloween, peanut! Best day of the year.” Rey looked at him more closely and frowned. 

“Are you … are you dressed as Mace Windu?”

“Am I dressed as one of the most influential black characters in all of science fiction?” Finn preened and smoothed his hands down his robes. “Why yes, yes I am.”

“Hm.” Rey tapped her highlighter against her notebook and shook her head as she realized why her friend’s eyes were so bright. “No. I don’t have a costume, so don’t even ask me to-”

Finn dropped his backpack on the floor and dug through it, emerging with a packaged costume and an ornery grin.

“I swear to God, if that’s a Hutt costume,” Rey warned, remembering her friend’s affinity for the overweight alien race. 

“What? No!” Finn turned the costume around and beamed at Rey’s look of shocked recognition. “It’s-”

“The Scavenger.” Rey groaned and covered her eyes with her hands. “Finn, I can’t wear that.”

“Why not?” Finn tossed the costume onto the bed and hopped up after it, bouncing next to her and poking her in the leg. “Come onnn, it’s October 31st only once a year!”

“That is how dates work,” Rey grumbled, picking up the costume and eyeing it. She sighed, heavily. “I guess it’s not a Sexy Scavenger costume.”

“They had a few of those.” Finn shrugged and smiled at her when she rolled her eyes. “But I know Kira’s your favorite X-Wing character,” Rey nodded in acknowledgement, “...after Commander Hernandez, of course.”

Finn.

“Oh, right, sorry,” Finn regarded her with a somber expression. “... Captain Hernandez. I forgot he was demot- hey!” Rey walloped him in the arm with the costume, but ended up laughing uproariously when Finn extended his lightsaber to fend her off. 

“En garde!” Finn shouted, standing up and waving his lightsaber at her exaggeratedly. 

“That’s not a Galactic Republic-recognized dialect!” Rey shouted back, picking up her pillow to defend herself. 

They giggled and swatted at each other for half a minute or so before Rey relented.

“Fine, fine, I’ll wear the damn costume!” She snagged the bag and ignored Finn’s whoop of success. “But I’m not going to any party.” Her voice, which had been so confident a moment ago, tapered off into almost nothing by the end of her statement.

“I know,” Finn nodded, sobered suddenly. “Hey, Peanut, I know.” Rey clutched the bag to her chest and stared at the floor. “We’ll go to the dining hall, and maybe check out trunk or treat?”

“Trunk or treat?” Rey wrinkled her nose.

“It’s great,” Finn assured her. “Little kids from Takodana Elementary come over to campus and different organizations give them candy in the Geonosis Arena parking lot. It’s a way to encourage safe trick-or-treating, and probably to keep us from drinking ourselves to death too early in the night.”

“That does sound nice,” Rey muttered begrudgingly. “Should we bring anything?” She couldn’t afford a bag of candy, but if she cut into her grocery budget-

“No,” Finn said quickly, suddenly looking guilty. “Uh, the … the Southeast Asian Students Association has a booth, and… and I might have agreed to… to, uh, work there for half an hour or so…”

“The truth comes out.” Rey smirked at him, gleeful at his chagrined expression. “Could perhaps a tiny, beautiful, weight-lifting girl be working at the SASA booth?”

“Please, Rey.” Finn switched tactics, probably well aware that he already had Rey on his side for the night. “Please? She’s so beautiful. She loves kids. She wants me to help her give candy to kids. Please?”

“Alright, alright.” Rey giggled, feeling lighter than she had all week. Admiring the costume one last time- she really did like Kira for reasons she refused to analyze- Rey pushed Finn from the room so she could change into her costume.

No harm in being a kid for a night.


“Are you cold?” Finn asked worriedly as they walked towards Geonosis Arena. 

Rey thought about it for a second and shook her head. “No. It’s pretty nice out.” 

“Let me know if that changes, okay?” Finn scanned the crowd up ahead and smiled at her. “You can borrow my Jedi robes.”

“Tempting.” Rey giggle-snorted, her cheeks a little warm from laughter and the delicate bubble of happiness that had grown the second she put the costume on. 

It was silly, she knew, to feel stronger in Kira’s clothes, but it was nice, honestly, to wear something a little more form-fitting than normal (a Scavenger in the desert had to stay cool, she understood that logically), but far less form-fitting than what most of the people around her were wearing. And, the fabric wraps around her arms were cool and definitely showed off what Finn proudly called her “guns.”

They crossed the parking lot- Rey counted at least four Scavengers below the age of ten, something that made her feel even warmer when they squealed in recognition when they saw her- and made it to the SASA booth as the sun was starting to set behind the trees at the edge of campus. 

“There she is,” Finn stage-whispered to Rey, eyes wide at the sight of the small young woman passing out King-size candy bars to a group of Toy Story aliens. “Oh God, I should-”

“Go talk to her,” Rey finished for him, taking the staff that had come with her costume and whacking him in the arm, and pushing him forward with a laugh. Finn stumbled, drawing Rose’s attention, and Rey watched happily as Rose’s face lit up with a smile.

Within seconds, Rose, dressed as one of the Fellowship, had pulled Finn to her side and had corraled him into passing out candy to the next wave of kids. He said something that made Rose laugh, and he looked over at Rey with an excited air of success; Rey gave him a thumbs up and shook her head, still chuckling, as she turned to walk through the parking lot towards the bathrooms at the edge of the arena.

After she’d relieved her bladder (getting out of the costume was relatively easy, thank God) and went to wash her hands, she saw a mother help her daughter up to the sink, both of them dressed as Harry Potter characters. A long familiar sadness crept into her then, and Rey finished up washing her hands quickly, not wanting to stare at a happy mother and child, or ruin her night.

Her hands were slightly clammy when she walked back into the Trunk or Treat zone because of course Geonosis was out of paper towels; Rey wiped them ineffectively on her brown leggings, and was trying to remember which way the SASA booth was, when she heard a very familiar laugh.

Against her better judgement, Rey turned to the source of the sound, and saw him, surrounded by children, right in front of the Latin American Student Association booth, less than thirty feet to her left.

Black One was parked up on the curb, next to a pick-up truck packed with candy and treats, and Rey couldn’t look away from Poe Dameron, handsome and dashing in an astronaut costume, his hair almost a midnight blue in the fading light.

A child was talking very quickly to Poe in Spanish, and Poe laughed again and nodded, flashing a smile and a pose. He knelt down to hug the boy, and then the little boy tugged on his father’s sleeve excitedly, and the dad laughed at his excitement and shook Poe’s hand. Rey watched the entire scene feeling like an outsider, that is, until the little boy turned and saw her standing there.

His eyes turned as wide as saucers, and he bounced up and down on his feet, pointing at her, and Rey froze to the spot.

Poe’s eyes also widened when he followed the boy’s gesturing, and Rey felt her face flush miserably because she was wearing the costume of Zaac Hernandez’s love interest, of course she was, this was why this was a bad idea, Finn Calrissian, oh God, if I run now maybe he won’t notice -

“Kira!” The little boy shouted, waving at her. “Kira!”

Rey waved back, because fuck her.

Poe rose to his feet slowly, looking at her the way one might look at a mirage in the desert. Rey tucked her hair behind her ears, wishing it was up and not hanging around her face, but Kira wore her damn hair down, and Finn had demanded authenticity, and-

“Kira!” The little boy ran up to her and threw his arms around her. Rey smiled at him, a little unsure- she hadn’t spent much time around little kids since she was one, but as the oldest at Plutt’s group home, she’d had to take care of them before she was ready, so she had a rough idea of how to talk to them, at least.

“Hi!” Rey saw his costume more clearly and smiled at him. “Hello, Commander.”

“I’m not Comm-am-mer Hernandez,” the little boy informed her solemnly.

“You look just like him,” Rey said as sweetly as she knew how, hoping Poe wasn’t looking at her. She looked up to check. Of course he was. Rey shook her head and gripped her staff tightly. 

“He’s over here!” The little boy grabbed her hand and pulled her forward; he was much smaller than Rey, but she wasn’t expecting it, so she stumbled after him.

Poe was still staring at her when she walked up to him, led by the tiny child who was so keen to finish off the rest of her dignity. 

“Wow!” The dad laughed, not picking up on the awkwardness between Rey and Poe. “Do you two know each other?’

“Dad,” the little boy hissed, “They’re in love.” Rey’s face erupted in flames, and she refused to look over at Poe.

“Maybe,” the dad teased him, “We don’t know yet, mijo.”

The little boy rolled his eyes with such impressive force that Rey found herself envying his talent. “Can I get a picture?” He asked earnestly, and Rey shot Poe a look, mumbling something unsure before Poe shrugged.

“If it’s okay with Kira.” His tone was unreadable, his voice hoarse and rough and soft and warm all at once, and Rey shivered for the first time that night.

“Um. Yeah.” She nodded, unwilling to make a little kid unhappy, even if it meant sacrificing the very last vestiges of pride she had. “Of course, Commander.” Poe smiled, a small smile but a pretty one, and that made Rey feel a little better.

The little boy stood in front of them, and Poe took a small step in; Rey noticed that he didn’t wrap an arm around her shoulders, or worse, her waist, and she was privately relieved while also aggravated by the lack of contact. It was odd, she thought as she smiled through four or five photos, that she should want Poe Dameron to be as close to her and as far away from her as possible. Odd.

“Thank you!” The little boy shouted, clearly his preferred decibel, and the dad thanked them as well before they wandered off to the next booth.

Rey gripped her staff and nodded at Poe. “Uhm. Sorry about that, I didn’t mean to-”

“You look great,” Poe blurted out, and Rey stared at him. His cheeks turned bright red a second later. “Shit. I mean-”

“You do too,” Rey said with a smile, pointing at his NASA costume. 

“Yeah.” Poe let out a huff of air and grinned sheepishly. “Figured I’d go as my hero.”

Rey tilted her head and smiled at him, overcome with an inexplicable wave of fondness for the man who dressed up as his mother for Halloween. She didn’t say anything though, and the next voice she heard wasn’t Poe’s, but a cute man on the back of the pick-up truck.

“Dameron!” The guy grinned at them and waggled his eyebrows. “¿Es tu novia?”

“¡Cállate!” Poe snapped, throwing a Kit Kat at his friend. Rey waved at him awkwardly, unsure of what they were saying, but pretty sure Poe didn’t want her to know.

It wasn’t a long statement, at least, so she could rule out is this the girl who had a meltdown in front of you three days ago, who you’re being nice to because you’re a good guy but secretly you pity her and sorta resent ever asking her to study with you ? Yeah. She didn’t think Spanish was that efficient.

“Uhm,” Poe rubbed the back of his neck endearingly and looked at her through lowered lashes. He bit his lip slowly before he spoke, and Rey was completely distracted by that movement. “What are you doing later?”

“Huh?” Rey blinked and shook herself.

“Uh, it’s just-I’m having a party at my place, and-”

“I don’t go to parties,” Rey said automatically, and then winced. “S-sorry. I just. I don’t.”

“Oh, yeah.” Poe nodded quickly. “I get it. Especially on a Thursday. We, uh, we’re not going to be drinking or anything,” he laughed quietly, “Most of us have 8 AMs. It’s more of, uh, a get-together than a party, but if we call it a party, I have to order us pizza, so that’s why they’ve, they’ve been calling it… a party.” Poe ducked his head and muttered something too quiet for Rey to hear. 

“Um.” She shifted awkwardly and turned to where the SASA booth was waiting to save her. She could almost imagine Finn flirting with Rose and not seeing her in a time of need. “M-maybe, then?”

“You don’t have to,” Poe assured her quickly, hands raised and eyes wide. “I just - I don’t want you thinking I’m, like, throwing a rager on a weekday or anything, it’s just a low-key-”

“I sort of promised Finn I’d hang out with him tonight,” Rey explained, “Even if he did sort of ditch me for a girl.”

“Rose!” Poe beamed, clearly happy for Finn, and Rey raised her eyebrows. “Good work, buddy!”  Clearly Finn and Poe talked more than she realized.

Maybe that meant Finn knew that Poe would be here tonight ... Rey’s eyes narrowed at the thought.

“But you guys can all come,” Poe added, still in a rush, almost as though he were nervous. “Seriously, there’ll be a lot of food, and we’re going to watch shitty movies, and pass out candy, and you can meet my friends.”

Why would he want me to-

“Sure,” Rey heard herself saying. “That sounds great, I’ll, uh, I’ll ask Finn and then text you when I know for sure?”

“Brilliant,” Poe said, eyes wide. He nodded quickly. “Incredible. Yes, uh, please text, and I’ll, uh, put the pizza order in, and-”

“What time would it start?” Rey’s feet were aching to take flight, and she wondered why she hadn’t sprinted from the scene already. 

“Eight,” Poe said firmly, nodding. “Eight, and we’ll probably be done before midnight, but you can - you can leave whenever, of course, and show up whenever-” He cut himself off as a group of children approached, and his nervous smile became more genuine.

“Great,” Rey said, tapping her staff on the ground. “I’ll… I’ll see you then?”

“Yeah.” Poe nodded and grabbed a bag of candy, holding it in front of him almost like a shield. “I’ll… I’ll see you.”

Rey waggled her fingers in goodbye- and she’d never made that gesture in her life, why did she choose this moment to start- and walked away as quickly as she could without it seeming like she was sprinting.

When she was well clear of Poe’s booth, she groaned to herself and slapped a hand to her forehead. Of course Finn was going to want to go. Dear God. Maybe he’d have mercy on her and let her change out of Kira’s clothes before they went over.


There was a knock on Poe’s door, and he almost took himself out trying to get to it on time; horrifically, Karé answered it, and her grin was the most shit-eating he’d seen in months. 

“You must be Rey,” she purred, holding the door open. “And Finn and Rose,” she added, smirking at Poe over her shoulder.

Rey walked into the apartment, now wearing one of her thick sweaters over her brown leggings (and nope, Poe did not commit the image of Rey as Kira to memory, nope, he had no interest in how muscular her arms were, or how her collarbone looked in the delicate fabric of her costume, or how the gentle curve of waist stood in such contrast to the clear power of her lithe frame, no, he was normal and it was all good, and he was so fucked). She immediately knelt down to greet Beatrice, and the Corgi bestowed many happy kisses on Rey’s hands and wrists.

Rey was giggling as Finn and Rose walked in, both of them still in costume, and very much holding hands. Poe shot Finn a surreptitious thumbs up before coming over, hand extended, to Rose.

They made introductions, Rey standing up and wiping her face clean with her sleeves as she waved shyly at his friends- Karé, Iolo, Kaydel, and Jess, who she already knew- and then she smiled at Poe, who felt his heart flutter obnoxiously in his chest.

He was shocked she said yes after her scared her away so badly earlier that week. Her tears had haunted him the last few days, and he’d been kicking himself at every opportunity for making the girl he liked (and was probably, definitely falling in love with) cry, and he’d withheld from texting her out of sheer embarrassment and self-loathing. 

But now she was in his apartment, looking cozy and cute and, dare he say, happy, with Beatrice on her heels as she walked towards him.

Poe had been accused of having a powerful imagination, and he couldn’t help the image that sprung to mind, where Rey swept towards him and greeted him with a kiss, her thin fingers threading through his curls and pulling him in, where she pressed her body against his and made him hers as much as he wanted to be-

That was not reality. Reality was Rey shuffling up to him, Beatrice behind her, and Karé smirking at Poe behind her back, and whispering, “Could I have some water?”

Poe nodded and hurried to get her a glass, and Karé struck up a loud conversation with Finn and Rose in the living room while he fiddled with the faucet in the kitchen, happy to have a brief moment of privacy with Rey.

“Sorry,” Rey said, and he frowned, not knowing why she was apologizing. “I have to take this at the same time every day.” He watched as she popped a small pill in her mouth and knocked it back with some water. Her cheeks were pink when she looked back up at him, her freckles standing against the blush like fallen stars, and Poe nodded at her, hoping he didn’t look too eager to see her standing in his kitchen.

Rey took another sip of water, and Poe cleared his throat, bending down to scratch Bea for something to do. 

“I’m glad you could make it,” he said honestly, “I know it was kinda last minute, but these guys are alright.”

“This is a very nice party,” Rey said, smiling as though at a private joke. She eyed the bat and jack-o-lantern decorations littering his place, the cobwebs near the door, and the smoking cauldron of hot cider behind him. “And, oh- there’s the pizza!”

“Yep.” Poe gestured at the six boxes of pizza. “Same place I ordered from last time you were here.”

“Yum.” Rey hovered over it, twisting her hands together, probably completely unaware of how beautiful she looked as she examined the greasy, steaming boxes. “Can I-”

“Help yourself.” Poe handed her a plate from the counter. “Karé and Jess already ate an entire pizza.”

“Jess did what now?” They both looked over to Jessika, who’d wandered in from the living room. She opened his fridge and dug through for a Corona. “Hey, Rey!”

“Hi, Jess.” Rey grabbed a piece of Hawaiian and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “How are you?”

“Doin’ great.” Jess grinned at her choice in pizza. “Oh my God, remember when we ruined Beth’s pizza last year?”

“Oh my God.” Rey laughed and closed the lid of the pizza box. “You would have thought we were trying to kill her!”

“Our RA,” Jess explained to Poe with a giggle, “ hated pineapple on pizza, but we didn’t know that, so we ordered a pizza-”

“-And she stole a slice!” Rey broke in, indignantly, and Jess roared and pointed at Rey.

“Yes! She stole it from us!” Jess leaned against the counter next to Rey and shook her head, tossing her hair back from her face. “And then had the gall! To yell at us! For getting pineapple on pizza!"

“It’s poisoned,” Rey moaned dramatically, clutching her thin stomach. “You two poisoned me!”

They broke into giggles, and Jess elbowed Rey fondly. “Good times, Kenobi. Good times. Hey, come meet Iolo, you’ll love him.” And Jess escorted Rey out of the kitchen, pausing only to wink at Poe over her shoulder as they headed out. 

Poe felt a warmth in his chest at how easily Jess had gotten Rey out off her shell- it clearly wasn’t her element, and he didn’t think he ever again wanted to see the look of panic on Rey’s face when he said the word party - and he followed them through to the living room, a piece of pepperoni on his own plate.

He fed pieces of cheese to Beatrice as they all sat and talked and laughed - stopping at times to watch Winnie’s shenanigans on Hocus Pocus - and they took turns answering the door when trick-or-treaters came by.

Rey’s hand brushed against his for a glorious moment when they coordinated dumping Skittles into a chubby dinosaur’s bag, and Poe felt the lingering static of connection long after they closed the door. He sat on the floor after that, a few feet away from where Rey was balanced on an ottoman, and pretended to be playing with Bea when all he was really doing was calculating how to interrupt the conversation and manage to score a seat next to Rey.

“Addams Family!” Kaydel said out of nowhere, clambering to grab a dvd from Poe’s collection. 

“Addams Family, or Addams Family Values?” Finn asked.

“Oh, great question!” Rose grinned at him and then turned very somber. “I’m a homicidal maniac. They look just like everyone else.”

“You’d be a fantastic Wednesday,” Finn declared, sloshing some of his cider as he wrapped an arm around Rose’s shoulder. Poe glanced over at Rey, who was smiling fondly, if a little sadly, at the cuddling of her best friend. 

“Alright, get comfortable everyone,” Kaydel ordered, slipping the dvd into the player. “We’ll start with the first one, and then the strong can stick around for the sequel.”

“Perfect,” Poe snorted. 

“I have to pee!” Jess shouted, jumping up and running for the bathroom. “Don’t start without me!”

This left the seat behind Rey completely open; anyone who sat there would have the opportunity to have her lean back against them- something she’d done with Jess, who’d absentmindedly braided Rey’s hair as they sat close together. Poe was at war with himself. Should he steal Jess’s seat, and maybe be the person lucky enough to have Rey lean on them? Or should he stick to where he was, happy to be within three feet of her, and let Jess keep her seat, where she was clearly making Rey comfortable. 

He spent too long in deliberation: Iolo Arana slipped into the spot instead with a sigh of utter satisfaction. “Hey, Rey,” he winked at her as he nodded to the coffee table in front of her. “Could you please pass me the candy?”

“Um, sure.” Rey grabbed the bowl and handed it to him, and Iolo dragged his hands through it cheerfully. 

“You want any?” He held up a bag of M&M’s and a pack of Starburst, and Rey thought for a second before pointing at the M&M’s. “Excellent choice,” he praised her, “I recommend the green, they’re the best,” and Rey giggled.

Poe’s blood turned to fire- he had a wild, mad vision of standing up and jettisoning Iolo off the back of the couch, pulling a Mufasa as he kicked him from Poe’s rightful spot- and then he settled, swallowing his jealousy. It was a seat. Just a seat, while they watched a movie. It didn’t matter. For all he knew, Rey hated talking during movies.

“Hey,” Iolo said in a stage whisper as the theme song began on the screen. “You can use me as a pillow if you want.”

Rey turned beet red when Poe turned around to scowl at Iolo, who had the decency to look concerned at Rey’s reaction; a second later, Jess returned from the bathroom and howled in rage at the sight of Iolo in her seat.

“Move it, Arana!”

“Shh!” Kaydel scolded, turning from where she was sitting in front of the TV. “It’s starting!”

“Get up!” Jess hissed, grabbing a pillow and smacking Iolo with it.

“Nope.”

“Get! Up!” 

Finn and Rose giggled from where they were curled up together on the loveseat, and Karé rolled her eyes affectionately at the tussle.

“Here.” Rey slid off the ottoman and patted it with her hand. “Sit here, Jess.”

 “No,” Jess insisted, “No, we’ll make Iolo move-”

“Yeah, Rey, don’t sit on the floor,” Iolo muttered apologetically.

“Just sit next to each other,” Rey waved her hands enigmatically and curled her knees up to her chest. “And watch the movie!”

“Yes, let’s watch the movie,” Kaydel grumbled, and they all settled in after that.

Rey was now less than two feet to Poe’s right, and he tried not to imagine all the ways he could close the distance between them. His chance came right after the Addams family dumped hot oil on unsuspecting carollers: Rey shivered.

“You cold?” He whispered.

“Shh!” Kaydel hissed.

He and Rey laughed under their breath before she nodded, her fingers threading together around her knees.

“Here,” Poe mouthed, digging into the basket under the coffee table for a fluffy blanket that he preferred on winter days. He shook it out and threw it around Rey’s legs, trying not to crowd her with the movement, and Rey smiled and stretched her legs out, smoothing out the blanket around her.

“Do you-” She gestured to the blanket, and Poe stammered quietly in protest until she took the corner and threw it over his right leg. “There you go.”

They sat in silence then, watching the movie, laughing in all the right spots. Poe stayed where he was, only half paying attention to one of his favorite movies, far too distracted by the fact that he was sharing a blanket with Rey, and sure only one of his legs was half-under the blanket, and he could definitely get more under the blanket, and he could definitely get close enough to maybe brush his foot against Rey’s.

It was decided for him when Beatrice flopped onto Rey’s lap and looked up at him dolefully, whimpering until he scratched her behind the ears.

Rey giggled quietly under the noise of the movie, and Poe scooted a little closer as Beatrice tried to butt her head into his hand. Good girl, he thought, pleased to be so close to Rey, whose hair smelled like flowers and something intoxicating.

“Good girl,” he heard Rey whisper to Beatrice, and they spent the rest of the movie tucked under the blanket together. 

It was both the longest and shortest hour and a half of Poe’s life, and later, after everyone had gone home, and he was cleaning up, he couldn’t avoid the urge to pick up Beatrice and dance around the living room with her, thrilled and elated and relieved that Rey Kenobi was talking to him again, that she’d been in his home, that she’d let him sit close to her and take in her laughter and her smiles and her warmth for so long. 

Chapter Text

Rey stood in front of the little theatre at the edge of campus, her arms wrapped around her middle as she stared up at the poster for Millennium Falcon. It was her absolute favorite movie, and it had been re-released to theaters on its thirtieth anniversary. The next showtime was in ten minutes, and she was done with classes for the day, and it was a special occasion- Finn couldn’t get off work to come see it with her, though, and that felt like a sign from the universe.

She could just go back to her dorm room and watch it on her beat-up DVD player that she’d salvaged from the dumpster last year. Yeah. That was a better use of her time and money, even if Han Solo’s thirty-year-old face looked so much better in HD.

It was funny, how differently she felt about Han Solo’s face than … her mind trailed off at the thought, a familiar and still horrible cold trickling down her spine. She didn’t even think about them in the same breath; Han Solo was an actor, a genial older man, and well--

“Rey?”

She almost tipped over as she spun to face the person who’d walked up next to her without her realizing: Poe Dameron smiled awkwardly at her, apologetically, as though he’d noticed he’d startled her.

“Sorry.” He held his hands up with his stupidly adorable, sheepish grin. Rey ignored the little flutter in her chest. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“You’re fine.” Rey shrugged. 

“You here to see the Falcon too?” Poe nodded up at the 80s poster, and Rey shuffled her feet.

“Um, yeah, I was… I was thinking about it.” Oh God. She didn’t know if the idea of sitting in a dark theatre with Poe Dameron was a brilliant, amazing idea, or a terrifying one. “Thought I might treat myself.”

She wrinkled her nose as she used the phrase that Finn loved to shout randomly when he saw something online he wanted; Poe ran his hand through his hair and gestured at the ticket booth. “Um, I can - I can get your ticket, if you want?”

“What?” Rey froze in surprise. “You don’t have to do that.”

“I know…” Poe tugged on the necklace he always wore, something she was sure was a sign of anxiety. Great. She must have sounded mean. “I’d, uh, I want to?”

“Why?” What the hell is wrong with you, let him be nice, sometimes people are just being nice, no ulterior motive - Her suspicious nature clashed with the desire to make Poe Dameron stop looking so sad, and they both floundered for a second. Something clicked in her brain. “Oh. Did Finn tell you?”

“Tell me what?” Poe made a confused face that shouldn’t have been cute but disastrously was, and so Rey answered automatically, distracted like normal by Poe’s face.

“That it’s my birthday.” She rolled her eyes, having been woken up at 12:01 a.m. from a half-nap, by no less than thirty text messages from Finn with various levels of spelling errors, all capitalized letters, and fifty-six exclamation points total. 

Her uncle, conversely, had waited until ten a.m. to call her, so the response he got was much more graceful.

“It’s your birthday,” Poe repeated, in disbelief. He looked unhappy for a second, and then he shrugged and grinned at her. “Then I have to buy your ticket.”

“What? No!” Rey protested, but Poe was already walking up to the booth with a confidence that was endearing and not aggravating. She was still mortified at the thought of him spending money on her though, so she followed and tugged on his arm with a strength that should have pulled him back. Poe Dameron, unfortunately, was very solid, and didn’t so much as budge.

“Two tickets for Millennium Falcon ,” he said serenely, ignoring Rey tugging on his arm. His muscular, solid, warm arm. “You can get the next ones,” he muttered to her, smiling up at the cashier. 

Rey could see herself blushing in the reflection of the window of the booth. 

“That’ll be eighteen d-” the kid behind the window rattled off before pausing. “Holy shit.

“Uh.” Poe blinked politely at him, something freezing in his face.

“Oh my God, you’re - you’re Poe Dameron.” The kid fumbled under the counter and came up with his phone, holding it in front of him eagerly. “I love your-”

“Hang on.” Rey frowned, tapping on the glass. “He didn’t say you could take his picture.”

“Oh, that’s-” Poe muttered, shaking his head.

“Shit.” The kid dropped the phone. “Sorry, I’m sorry- I just love X-Wing, and, and my kid sister loves it- hang on.” He peered at Rey. “Are you Zorri whats-her-face?”

Rey’s face reached nuclear levels of heat, and Poe spluttered, an uncommon occurrence for the normally suave man. “No,” he said more firmly. “And if you’re going to take my picture, please leave her out of it.”

“Yeah, of course-” the kid was still stammering as he got out of the booth. “Can it - can it be a selfie?”

“Sure.” Poe shrugged and didn’t even flinch when the kid slung his arm around his back. He smiled gorgeously, perfectly even, up at the camera, his face almost transforming for three seconds, and Rey blinked. He was back to normal, shaking the kid’s hand a few seconds later, and he looked normal again. 

“Thank you!” The kid squeaked, and then waved at the door. “You guys can go in for free, seriously, my dad owns this place, he’ll be so excited you stopped by-”

“Could you please,” Poe coughed and shot Rey an unreadable look, “Do you mind waiting to post that on social media until we’re gone?”

“Of course.” The kid nodded quickly. “And you can even use the employee exit when you leave, it’s right through there,” he gestured vaguely to the corner of the indoor lobby, and Poe thanked him, clapping him on the arm as he walked to the doors.

“Wow,” the kid breathed, and Rey walked past him. She sized him up for a second, frowning slightly.

“You will wait, right? For us to leave?”

“I won’t even put it on my Instagram,” the kid swore, “I’m just going to show it to my sister and then keep it forever.”

“Alright.” She squinted at him, hoping that he realized she could kick his ass to Tatooine if she needed to, and then walked up to the doors. Her feet slowed as she realized Poe had been holding the door for her the whole time. “Thanks,” she muttered, and he followed her inside. 

“Does that happen a lot?” Rey asked carefully as they crossed the lobby.

“Yeah.” Poe lifted a shoulder and looked nonchalant, but in a way that suggested he was trying to look nonchalant. Rey knew that expression very intimately from her own perspective. “But hey, these tickets were free, which means I can get us some popcorn!”

“No, you don’t have to-”

“I’m getting the biggest, butteriest popcorn they have,” Poe announced, marching up to the concession stand. “And you’re welcome to eat it, or not eat it, but if I eat it by myself and my arteries get clogged, it’ll be all  your fault.”

He was already sliding money across the counter by the time she caught up to him, and he shot her a shit-eating grin that shouldn’t have been half so charming. “Butteriest isn’t a word,” she muttered, leaning against the counter and watching the girl drizzle more butter on the popcorn at Poe’s request.

“Nah, Sunshine.” He beamed at her and bumped their elbows together, clearly unaware that he made a hurricane rise in her stomach every time he brushed against her. “It’s a lifestyle.”

They settled into seats at the very back of the small theater, and Poe set the popcorn on his lap for a second before he quieted and looked at her. “Do you want to hold it?” He asked softly, under the noise of the first preview. “Or me?”

She thought about it, recognizing that he was letting her pick: have it be in her space, and have him reach into it whenever he wanted a handful, or keep it in his space, where she would then have to reach (into his lap ) to get it.

“I can hold it,” she whispered back, and Poe smiled at her, handing it over without hesitation. He pulled some napkins out of his pocket and stuffed them into a cupholder, and Rey handed him his Diet Mountain Dew that she’d been carrying for him as he wrangled the popcorn.

“I don’t know how you can drink that,” she giggled, and Poe slurped the green beverage obnoxiously. 

“Nectar of the gods,” he declared, still sipping and smirking at her.

“Boogers of the gods, maybe,” Rey retorted, and then she laughed wildly as Poe snorted and Mountain Dew came out of his nose.

Poe wiped his face, looking horrified, before he broke out into laughter as well. Rey was relieved no one else was in the theatre, or they would have been shushed by now.

“You’re dangerous, Kenobi,” Poe said with a grin, leaning over to snag a few pieces of popcorn; Rey caught her breath, for what reason she didn’t know, as he crossed over his armrest. He threw the kernels back with an air of haughtiness. “Trying to kill me.”

“What a baby,” Rey teased.

“Hey, they don’t let babies drink Mountain Dew,” Poe pointed out, “and besides, I-”

I was twenty years old when the war started -” Poe’s voice layered eerily with the sound coming from the screen, and Rey turned to watch the next preview with a growing sense of nervousness.

It was Poe on screen, handsome and twenty feet tall; he was wearing a tan shirt tucked into brown pants, peering out of a foxhole. The Screen-Poe, who was wearing layers of carefully applied dirt on his face, turned to his friend and muttered rapidly in Spanish, as bombs started to go off around them.

The scene cut to Screen-Poe holding his friend’s body and sobbing: “ And I was twenty-five when the war took everything from me.

Not a friend, then. Rey’s eyebrows lifted as she watched the next two minutes of Screen-Poe scrambling through the trees, running through towns, dodging bombs, and taking down an oppressive Latin American dictator as a spy. She was very, potently aware of Poe squirming in the seat next to her; she realized he’d covered his face with his hands within the first ten seconds of the trailer, but she couldn’t ask him what was wrong, not when the score to the film was so beautiful, and the story was so compelling, and the leading man even more so.

And we’re the spark, ” Poe said in a voiceover. 

The screen faded to black; the words This February... appeared on screen.

Who will start the fire,” Voiceover-Poe continued, the words fading out and blending with rapid-fire images of people fighting a violent battle.

And then, it cut to black again, with the words Join….

Voiceover-Poe finished with: “ Even if we die, we’ll burn them all down. Every last one.”

And finally, the title screen: The Resistance. 

“Wow,” Rey squeaked, tapping the armrest rapidly, overcome with a rush of enthusiasm, “Holy fuck, that looks so good-”

“Does it?” Poe was still buried in his hands. “Oh, good.”

“Poe!” Rey grabbed his arm without realizing what she was doing, some of the popcorn sloshing out of the tub. “Oh my god, Poe!” She shook his arm until he looked up, his expression mortified. “That looks so good! You didn’t tell me you were in a movie!” 

“Yeah.” Poe winced. “I gotta take off the beginning of next semester for the goddamn circuit.”

“Really?” Rey deflated slightly, suddenly sad at the thought of not seeing Poe once in a while.

Then again, when Linear Algebra ended in December… she pushed the thought away roughly.

“Really.” Poe sighed and then gave her a half-smile. “But I feel better about it if you liked the trailer.”

“You hadn’t seen it before?” Rey gaped at him, and Poe shrugged.

“I usually don’t watch any of it until the premiere. I obviously watch the play-back, on-set if the director needs something, but-” He winced. “I don’t like watching myself on camera.”

“But you’re so good!” Rey half-shouted. Thank God no one was in there with them. “Poe! I’ve seen every episode of X-Wing at least twice!”

Shut up, her brain hissed, shut the fuck up right now, oh my god, go jump into a hole and never come out. She snapped her mouth shut, face on fire again. 

“Thanks.” Poe didn’t seem overwhelmed by her confession; he looked oddly...pleased. Huh. “I’m sure you’re just saying that, but,”

“I’m not,” Rey muttered, pulling her hand away from his arm-- how long had she been touching him, holy shit-- wrapping her arms around the popcorn and sliding back into her chair, hoping for the ground to do her a solid and swallow her whole. 

“Then thanks.” Poe’s knee nudged hers, and Rey swallowed, fighting back embarrassed tears. “Really.”

She nodded and shoved a hideous handful of popcorn in her mouth. Thankfully, The Resistance was the last trailer, so she was able to watch the movie-- classic Han Solo, with futuristic car chases and explosions but a hell of a lot of heart -- for the next blessedly silent hour and a half.

Silent, except for her and Poe’s identical whoops of excitement in the final act, as Han’s character, Ford Hanson, jumped off the back of the plane into another plane’s cockpit, stopping it from careening out of the sky. “Hell yeah!” Poe shouted, laughing happily, and Rey laughed too, now decently removed from her embarrassment to the point where she could enjoy herself again. And her relief was extended to the movie as well. She was relieved she could still watch her favorite movie and not have to think about him because they didn’t look terribly alike, and besides, that piece of shit was going by a different name these days, and-

Rey was distracted by her train of thought and missed the last fifteen minutes of the movie. It wasn’t until Poe stretched in the seat next to her that she realized it was even over.

The lights came back on as the credits rolled, and Rey stood up slowly, hating that she had to break the bubble that had formed between them in the dark; the popcorn was almost empty, and she stared at the bottom of it glumly. Her examination meant she almost missed Poe getting up, almost missed him wincing horribly when he put weight on his left leg.

“Are you okay?” She asked, setting the popcorn aside to touch his arm. Like that would help. Stop touching the man, Kenobi. 

“Yeah.” Poe grimaced and took an unsure step. “It’s, uh, an old injury from set. Shattered a bone or two doing a stunt for X-Wing.”

“You got hurt on set?” Rey asked, frowning. She didn’t follow celebrity news, but she did watch X-Wing near religiously, so she thought she would have noticed the main character walking with an injured leg for a season. 

“We kept it hush-hush.” Poe shrugged and looked uncomfortable. “No one knew besides me and Han and the production team. He got hurt the same day.”

“He was off that season,” Rey said slowly. “I figured he was filming for Corellia.

“That’s what they wanted you to think.” Poe took another unsteady step, and Rey fought the urge to help him; she had a strong feeling that wouldn’t really help him. “He’s fine now, though, so…”

“I won’t tell anyone,” Rey promised in hushed tones, and Poe looked over his shoulder at her, almost surprised.

“I know.”

They didn’t speak again until they were out of the lobby, and exiting through the employee door. The sun was setting, and Poe turned to her with a real smile, and Rey wanted to never leave, to let the day linger on as it was, happy and almost normal for once.

“Can I give you a ride somewhere?” Poe asked, jabbing his thumb over to his motorcycle, which was parked up the block, and Rey gave him a chagrined smile.

“I wish.” She laughed and gestured down the block. “I was just going to head back to the dorm, and Darklighter’s only, like, a five minute walk from here.”

“We don’t have to go anywhere,” Poe said, a shy smile on his face as he dangled the keys. “We can just drive, if you want.”

“I-” Rey hesitated, eyeing Black One and its owner carefully. “I don’t want to take up your time.”

“You won’t. You could never.” Rey blushed, but she hoped he didn’t notice. “I can even teach you how to drive it,” Poe wheedled, at least, as close to wheedling as he ever got.

That got her.

“Really?” She bit her lip and studied the way the setting sun flashed on the keys. She missed the way Poe stared at her before he answered, or how hoarse his voice was when he answered.

“Of course, Sunshine.”

They walked to the motorcycle--at least, he walked and Rey bounced-- and then drove to a parking lot, where Poe gave Rey the most thrilling, frustrating, and joyful lesson of her life. 

She managed to get the bike going and did a lap of the lot within an hour, Poe whooping in encouragement from the curb, and she laughed as the sun disappeared officially over the trees. Rey felt wild, and free, and a thousand years younger than she had in months, and she never wanted the day to end.


The Tuesday after Rey’s birthday, in mid-November, Poe had to go to campus unexpectedly. He’d set up his schedule on purpose so that his Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes were stacked, and he had Tuesday/Thursday off to study, but Kaydel had forgotten her notebook at his house over the weekend, and had managed to convince him to bring it to her Art History class.

He was walking through the Humanities campus, back to where he’d parked his bike, when he spotted the girl of his (literal) dreams walking along ahead of him.

Poe was running - like an idiot - before he could think twice.

“Rey!” He called out, and watched as she full body flinched. “ Shit, ” he muttered. Poe reminded himself for the thousandth time that Rey Kenobi was not someone to surprise. He was surprised she hadn’t smacked him by now. 

She was clutching her books to her chest when she spun to face him; the relief that ran through her was physically apparent, and Poe felt strange at the sight of it. Why would she be so tense?

“It’s you,” he heard her say as he approached, and her tone was, in fact, relieved. 

“It’s me,” he confirmed cheerfully, walking up to her. “Whereya headed?”

“Um.” Rey tucked her hair behind her ear and laughed shyly. “Promise you won’t laugh?”

“Promise.” Poe held his hand over his heart solemnly, and they fell in step, walking along the sidewalk.

“I take Religious Studies classes for fun,” Rey said in a rush, “I know, I know it’s weird for a Science person to be into that sort of stuff, but I’ve always liked it, and-”

“It’s cool,” Poe assured her, flashing her a real smile, pleased to have another tidbit of information, freely given, from Rey. “That’s really cool.”

“Yeah.” Rey’s eyes darted to the corner of the building ahead, and then to the trees lining the grass to their right. Huh. “Yeah, I really like it, Professor Malbus is a friend of my uncle’s, and he got me into it, really.”

“I’ve heard he’s awesome,” Poe said cheerfully, watching Rey’s face and the way her freckles were starting to fade.

“Not as awesome as his husband.” Rey wasn’t looking at him, though, but still studying the path in front of them with a careful sort of surveillance that made no sense. “But I think even Malbus would say that.”

Poe kept an eye out as well now, feeling oddly ill at ease; he figured he was reflecting Rey’s own apparent anxiety. “Hey, what time does your class let out?” He asked, but before Rey could answer, he felt her stumble to a stop next to him, right as a figure came into view at the edge of the intersecting sidewalk ahead of them.

What the fuck is Ben Solo doing over here ? Was his first thought.

His second thought: Oh right, he goes by Kylo Ren now. 

Third thought: Pretentious dipshit. 

And his fourth thought, which truthfully occurred less than two seconds after he spotted ‘Kylo’ up ahead: Rey? 

He said that one aloud, half-turning to look at her. “Rey?” Poe repeated when she said nothing.

In the last few months, Poe had seen Rey anxious, frozen, tired, exhausted, stressed, angry, and embarrassed. They were all emotions Poe didn’t like to see in a person he cared about, but it was nothing, nothing to how she looked now.

Rey was terrified.

Poe’s eyes slid back to Kylo, who was leaning against a tree, arms folded in front of his chest, and he swore he saw the guy smirk.

“Dick,” Poe muttered, completely unwilling to talk to that fucker today. Not after all the fucked up shit he’d put his family through, or Poe through, or -

Rey wasn’t moving.

“Hey, let’s go this way,” Poe suggested, waving his hand down a side path that looped around Kryze. Rey didn’t move. 

“Rey?” Poe glared at Kylo, who had the absolute gall to wave at them both. “Asshole,” Poe said, loud enough to be heard, and flipped him off. “Come on.” Rey looked at him, and his throat tightened at her thousand yard stare. “This way,” he said softly, turning his body to block her view so she couldn’t see Kylo, and he couldn’t see her.

Something roiled in his stomach, something painful and ugly that burned and writhed.

Rey followed him without a word, and he didn’t stop walking, or checking over his shoulder to see what Kylo did - kept leaning against the tree, like a fucking asshole - until they were hidden by the buildings. 

Did they used to date? Poe wondered. Did he hurt her, too? Something close to rage boiled in his veins then, at the thought of Kylo Ren or Ben Solo or whoever the fuck he thought he was, putting his hands on her in violence, or fucking up her future somehow, or-

“Rey?” She looked at him, and he saw that she was violently shaking. “Rey, are you-”

“Is he f-f-following us?” Rey asked, both nervous and hollow in her affect. Her eyes were wide when she looked at Poe, and she sort of looked over her shoulder, but not quite, like she couldn’t bear the idea of having to look.

“No.” Poe shook his head and took a step in towards her, his hands raised as he moved slowly. “No, he didn’t follow us.”

“H-he-he isn’t s-supposed to-” Rey shook her head and covered her ears with her thin, cold-red hands. Her books flattered to the ground with a hollowed noise but neither of them noticed. Rey squeezed her eyes shut and gritted her teeth before speaking. “B-but he k-keeps sh-sh-showing-”

“He isn’t supposed to be on campus?” Poe guessed, “Or he isn’t supposed to be … near you?”

His heart slammed in his chest when she nodded.

Did she have some kind of restraining order against him? 

“We should call the police then,” Poe decided firmly, and Rey opened her eyes, dropping her hands from her ears to catch his wrist as he went to grab his phone.

“No!” She half-shouted, half-sobbed, and her fingers were trembling on his wrist. Poe moved his hand away from his pocket slowly, and Rey’s breath choked painfully. She covered her hand with her mouth. “No, th-they won’t help, they won’t-”

“Okay.” Poe nodded and Rey wrapped her arms around herself so tightly, Poe thought she might crack in half. “How long has he been...showing up?”

“Just the last week,” Rey whispered, staring at the bricks below them. “I thought maybe I was … I was seeing things ...again....” she trailed off, and Poe wondered if she meant for him to hear that part. 

Pieces fell together in his brain haphazardly, assumptions and conclusions and horrible things he couldn’t confirm, not without the full story, but all his thoughts tended to one overall decision: he wanted to break Kylo-Ben’s face, and if he saw it again, he might just have to do that.

“He isn’t here now,” Poe promised softly, and Rey nodded, as though only sort of hearing him. 

“I hate him,” she whispered, the words burning Poe as he took them in.

He looked over his shoulder again, and his throat spasmed in a sort of unexplained fear. “He’s a huge piece of shit, yeah.”

Rey nodded and wiped her nose with the sleeve of her too big sweater, still shaking like she would fall apart. “I- I-” she tried to say something before making a noise that was halfway between rage and grief, a noise that cut Poe in half all the same. 

“Hey,,” she shuddered, her eyes wild and distant, and Poe swallowed nervously, “Sunshine, it’s okay-”

“I don’t know if I can be sunshine right now,” Rey choked out, half-sobbing, voice breaking, and Poe nodded, wishing the knowledge of what to do would fall out of the sky and smack him in the head. 

No answer came.

“That’s fine, you don’t have to be,” he promised her, the wind whistling through the alleyway, picking up dead leaves and brushing them against their shoes; Poe shivered. Rey didn’t. 

She shook. 

“Is it still okay if I’m not okay?” Rey asked, voice trembling as she lifted her red-rimmed eyes to his, calling back to a past conversation, one they’d had weeks ago, and Poe’s heart cracked along the edges he’d sworn had scarred over years ago. 

He nodded slowly, wanting her to see the truth on his face. “It’s always okay,” he whispered, and Rey ducked her head, crying for real now. “You don’t have to be anything but yourself with me. It will always be okay-”

Without warning, Rey stepped forward, and Poe realized he’d lifted his arms, either halfway through his promise, or in anticipation of her movement; either way, she slotted herself in, and Poe wrapped his arms around her tightly.

She was freezing, and shaking harder than ever, and Poe tried to will some of his sturdiness into her, knowing that she was a thousand times stronger than him and entirely unsure of how else to help her. Rey pressed her nose against his neck, where he could hear her whispering an apology.

“There isn’t a single thing you have to be sorry for,” he murmured, lifting a hand to stroke her hair; he felt her shudder again, and he nestled his chin into her shoulder, closing his eyes and hoping for some peace to find them. 

“Don’t be sorry.” Just be okay, he thought, just be safe, and okay, and tell me how I can help you .

He wished he knew the answer, he wished Kylo Ren had never laid eyes, and probably hands, on her, he wished he could take any of her pain away because the thought of her being in pain hurt him worse than any injury he could recall.

Mostly, Poe wished his brain hadn’t picked that exact moment to catch up to his heart, wished he hadn’t taken that exact moment, half-panicked and worried, to realize that he was in love with Rey Kenobi.

Chapter Text


You’re the brightest light I’ve ever seen.” 

Rey looked up from her misery cocoon on the couch; she’d been staring into space at the tail end of the X-Wing episode, and given that the squadron had ended things on a more or less non-issue (the Spice smuggler in prison, Hernandez and his team all safe and well, a rousing speech from the newly awakened General), she’d stopped paying attention and let her mind drift.

But, Hernandez was talking again, and that caught her attention; Rey looked up right as the [ Next Time, On X-Wing ] card faded away. 

“I don’t know if that’s true.” Kira fiddled with some sort of mech onscreen, looking up from the cockpit of Hernandez’s C-Class, hyperdrive retro-fitted speeder with a shy smile. Rey twisted her hands together under her threadbare blanket and frowned as the camera cut over to Hernandez again.

I’ve never seen anything like you,” he insisted earnestly, eyes wide with an honestly that Rey knew all too well in that handsome face. Her heart twinged at the doubt on Kira’s face, “You’re magnificent.

I’m alright, for a Scavenger,” Kira laughed sadly, and Rey tried not to compare herself to the strange, lost desert girl who’d been taken in by Rapier Squadron as their unofficial-official mechanic (and who had fallen in love with the handsome commander, even if she hadn’t said it out loud yet, another aspect Rey refused to sympathize with). “I’m not the best pilot in the Republic.

I am the best,” Hernandez confirmed, and Kira smirked at that without looking up from her tech; a second later, and Hernandez covered her hands with his. Rey’s breath caught. “And you’re the best.”

Kira met Hernandez’s gaze, something flickering in her lovely face; he leaned in over the cockpit, his elbow resting on the nose of the ship. The camera lingered on their profiles, Kira’s eyes darting down to Hernandez’s full mouth and-

X-Wing Will Return in 2020.

“No.” Rey shook her head and covered her mouth, horrified despite her lingering stupor from the week. “No! I am not - you can’t do that to me.”

There was the sound of pounding feet, and then Jess Pava clattered into the common area; she was panting, beet red in the face. She screeched when she saw the X-Wing credits playing on the ancient television. “TWO MONTHS!” She screamed, pointing at the screen. “They’re making us wait TWO MONTHS.”

“Bastards.” Rey shook her head and hugged the couch pillow close to her chest. She offered Jess a tired smile as Jess sank into the couch next to her, grumbling angrily.

“I’m glad you’re still watching.” Jess waggled her eyebrows at her. “Especially when you’re living out a real… Kirnandez of your own.”

Rey barely snorted a laugh at the popular ship name; instead, she shrugged and picked at the blanket, feeling awkward at Jess’s insinuation. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she mumbled, one of the only lies she’d told Jess. 

Well, that wasn’t fair. There’d been a few lies last year: I’m fine. Yeah, I ate. No, I slept before you got in. No, Obi’s only in town to see his friends. I’m fine. I’m okay. No, he hasn’t tried talking to me again. He’s left me alone. I haven’t seen him since. I’m fine.

She blinked and saw that Jess was smirking at her. Not in the mood to play games, Rey frowned. “What?”

“I saw you,” Jess sang, not annoyingly, or meanly, but silly and playful the way she’d been— and Rey had been, to the extent that Rey could be playful— on Move-In Day their freshman year.

They’d had so much fun that first semester: Jess, missing her sister terribly, had latched onto Rey immediately; Rey, who’d never had a sister, had felt so warm and happy at being able to confide to a girl close to her age; Jess, too kind to ask why Rey was a year older than everyone else, eager to have pillow fights and eat junk food at 2 a.m. and bitch about professors and boys, back when the worst thing a boy could do was forget to text them back, and nothing could hurt them and-

Rey fought the urge to cry, and tried to listen to what Jess was saying.

“Sorry, could you….” She trailed off, but Jess just smiled and repeated herself, clearly still used to Rey’s tendency to slip away from conversations from that disastrous spring semester.

“I said I saw you,” Jess grinned in a way that would be evil on anyone else, “walking through campus with a certain Mr. Short, Dark, and Handsome last Thursday. And then again on Tuesday. And if I recall correctly, a certain Mr. Short, Dark, and Handsome doesn’t have Tuesday-Thursday classes.”

“He’s not that short.” Rey flushed. “And it’s not like that.” She picked at the fraying blanket some more, wanting Jess to drop it, a strange surge of anger rising in her chest. Drop it, she prayed, but Jess, of course, didn’t.

“He stares at you,” Jess said matter-of-factly. “When you walk away from him. I swear he sighed when you walked into Jedha North-”

“He didn’t-” Rey protested, squirming in her seat. She squeezed her eyes shut, but Jess pushed a little more.

“And I know for a fact that he left lunch with Karé early today because he said your class was letting out.” Jess poked Rey in the hip with her socked foot playfully. “He checked his phone sixteen times today, Karé says, and-”

“It’s not like that.” Rey’s voice broke because fuck if it would make everything in her goddamn life easier if it were like that, but it wasn’t. She didn’t live in a world where Poe Dameron walked her to class because he thought she was pretty and wanted to sigh at her as she walked away.

She lived in a world where Poe Dameron most probably knew about her worst secret without her ever being able to get the words out, where he probably pitied her, where he probably knew that she came with eight thousand kilos of baggage— and that was without her getting into her abandonment issues, the abuse from the group home, the anger, the hot-thick-spooling anger that ran through the core of who she was. 

“Rey?” Jess had scooted in closer to her, and if she were someone else, Rey might have flinched away, but Jess was small and familiar and her body recognized her as a comfort before her mind did. Rey sagged into Jess’s hand on her arm. “Shit, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to tease-”

“It’s-” Rey shook her head and pinched her lips together, her stomach twisting painfully.

“You don’t gotta tell me,” Jess assured her, rubbing her arm slowly. “Hey, I was just being a dick, if you say it’s not like that, it’s not.”

Rey nodded, and they sat together. A re-run episode of House of Naboo started to play in the background, but neither of them paid attention to it. Eventually, Rey sucked in a breath and explained it all.

“He—Poe’s been walking me to class on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the last two weeks,” Rey said quietly, and Jess hummed, a sign she was listening. “And … and he drives me to Linear Algebra sometimes.”

“Okay.” Jess nodded again. “He’s a good friend.”

“He is.” Rey pretended like the words didn’t feel like knives in her throat. Jess scooted in closer until her knees were pressed up against Rey’s side. “He...he’s been following me.”

“Poe?” Confusion poured out of Jess, tangible in the limited space between them, but Rey shook her head.

“No.” The whisper ripped out of her. “...Him.”

She knew immediately that Jess understood; the smaller girl stiffened next to her, and she made a noise like an angry cat. “That fucking piece of-”

“Yeah.” Rey twisted her hands together for a second before wiping her nose on the back of her wrist. She let out a shaky laugh when Jess hissed again.

“I thought he was banned from campus,” Jess snapped, but Rey shook her head miserably.

“N-no. He j-just wasn’t allowed in the dorms, or in my academic buildings, b-but the Humanities campus is technically incorporated with the rest of Takodana, s-so there’s probably some loophole, and-”

“And he’s following you.” Jess tightened her fists. “I want to rip that fucker’s throat out-”

“Get in line,” Rey muttered.

“-but … you told Poe about this?” Jess tilted her head, and when Rey looked at her, there was a strange expression there. “You must really trust him.”

“I do.” Rey didn’t hesitate, but she did reconsider, considering her body was so out-of-sync with her mind these days.  “I mean, I think I do. But he saw B- him two weeks ago waiting for me outside Kryze, and he managed to pull me away from him. Insisted that I shouldn’t feel unsafe on campus, offered to pull some strings to get B- him removed from campus, or probably society, forever-” Rey almost smiled at the memory of an incensed Poe, dragging his hands through his hair and talking a mile a minute after he’d gotten her someplace safe and quiet with a mug of tea in her hands, “but I said I just wanted to go to my classes and live my life, so,” she shrugged. “He offered to walk me to class every Tuesday and Thursday, and give me a ride the rest of the time so I could avoid public transportation.”

She shuddered involuntarily at that; Rey honestly hadn’t even considered being on a bus by herself with him because she legitimately hadn’t considered he would ever want to take public transportation, that pretentious piece of shit. 

“Fuck.” Jess cleared her throat and then held her hand out to Rey; Rey took it after a second, and Jess squeezed her fingers gently. “Count me in, Kenobi.”

“Huh?” Rey blinked at her, confused.

“I’ll join your guard,” Jess said firmly, brows lowered and mouth set stubbornly. “You feel creeped out, you think that asshole is within a thousand fucking feet of you- call me. I don’t care where I am or what time it is. Call me, and I’ll help get you out.”

“Jess-” Rey fought through a sudden, painful lump in her throat. “You don’t have to-”

“I want to.” Jess squeezed her hand tighter. “I mean it. Promise me you’ll think about it. You should feel safe here, this is your school, and that motherfucking dickhead doesn’t get to stop you from living your life. Not again.”

“Not again,” Rey repeated softly before blinking rapidly, trying to knock back the tears.

Ever aware of the mood, Jess said, almost lightly, “And besides, I can’t count on Dameron to beat the shit out of that guy. Fucking actors are all pacifists.”

Rey giggled at that, and Jess did too; Rey tried not to let the hope expanding in her chest get too out of hand, but it was hard not to feel some kind of warmth with Jess, brave, determined, spirited Jess, sitting right next to her.

And it wasn’t just Jess who joined in, Rey found out. She didn’t know what Jess said- she knew she was discreet because she’d kept Rey’s business quiet last year too, not the type to gossip- but suddenly there was a pack of girls who Rey knew were also Poe’s friends, who surrounded her at the dining hall, or jogged to catch her attention as she crossed the green. 

Finn, who’d already been walking with her whenever he could, was often with Poe after class on Thursdays, waiting for her with a grin and usually some kind of ice cream; he wasn’t pushy or insistent about it, but Rey never went to the library by herself anymore either. Instead, her life filled to the edges with more people she’d ever thought she’d be lucky enough to have: a ragtag group of friends and acquaintances and allies who seemed to know exactly how to make Rey feel safe without making her feel confined or babied.

Ben remained a specter at the edge of her vision at times; but now, he would see her, and then her growing retinue, and sneer, turning on his heel and walking away, coat flapping behind him like the wings of an overgrown bat.

On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving Break, he did just that, appearing out of nowhere when Rey was walking with Poe and Beatrice (who often joined them after Rey’s Religious Studies class, and who was often the excuse for them to prolong their time together, as she liked to sniff around campus). He stared at them for a long second, and Poe stared right back before he shook his head and turned to Rey, clearly trying to convince her to turn around.

Instead, Rey stared back at Ben, the first time she’d met his eyes in almost a year, and held her chin up. Fury filled her, rapid and hot and consuming, and a tear dragged out of her eye, born of frustration and bottled up anger. How dare he, she thought suddenly, How dare he. 

Ben’s hands tightened into fists before he turned and walked away.

“Who’s nothing now?” Rey whispered, white-hot fury in her veins. 

“What?” Poe brushed against her elbow gently, startling her from her glaring at the receding figure. 

“Nothing.” Rey swallowed hard, suddenly exhausted and sad all the way through. Poe looked at her for a second and then held his hand out to her; it was tentative but not shy, assessing but not calculating. He held it out just enough that she couldn’t mistake it, but not too far that it intruded on her space.

Rey stared at it in a different way she’d stared down Ben Solo. Then, she slipped her hand into Poe’s, and they continued walking the way they’d started, hand in hand, a flush of warmth down Rey’s neck that felt something like victory but a lot more like home.


Rey didn’t tell him what had happened with Ben Solo (or Kylo Ren, a shitty Edgelord name which Poe assumed he’d picked out of a Hot Topic name generator), but Poe figured she either would when she was ready, or she never would. That was okay. Poe Dameron knew plenty about Rey Kenobi already.

He knew she liked X-Wing, something she was mortified about when he finally called her on it, teasing and soft and happy when she turned pink (before she rambled off a truly impressive meta-analysis of the show to defend why she watched it so closely, sweeping, gorgeous statements about hope and heroes and love that made him feel for the first time in years that he’d actually helped make something good).

He knew Rey liked cinnamon on top of her lattes, and he knew she liked it when there were pretty designs on top of the foam (so maybe he got up a half hour early on days they had class together so he could go to the cafe and order an extra coffee and beg the barista to make designs of suns shining or flowers or leaves - so maybe he’d gotten a heart once, and maybe he’d flailed for a minute before politely ordering a new latte, this one with different art because yeah, he wanted to give Rey his heart but maybe when he was ready, by which he meant when she was ready ).

He knew she was incredible at math, but secretly loved history and ancient world religions despite not being terribly religious herself; he knew she looked to hope like its own sort of faith, and spoke of it with more reverence than he’d ever heard in a church.

He knew she rejected compliments the way he rejected questions on a red carpet; he knew she hated waking up early but could do it; he knew she preferred large, baggy clothes and didn’t own a jacket; he knew she was lonely despite the fact that everyone who’d ever met her loved her; he knew her uncle was her only family; he knew to speak quietly even when he was excited around her, and he knew that she was sarcastic when she hadn’t gotten enough sleep, and he knew she never got enough sleep. 

Poe knew a lot about Rey Kenobi, and he learned more every day about what kind of person she was, about her likes and dislikes, her fears and hopes and what made her laugh the most. He knew her laugh was his favorite sound; he knew her eyes were his favorite color. And now he knew what her hand felt like in his (and he knew he never wanted to hold anyone else’s hand again).

He didn’t need to know everything about her to know that he loved her; he only hoped she knew that if she told him what it was that haunted her, what chased her through the day and into her dreams, that he wouldn’t be scared away. 

So, Poe waited patiently and did everything he could to make sure that Rey knew she could trust him, and he did everything he could to be worthy of that trust. 

It didn’t matter how long it took. His father had told him years ago how he’d fallen in love with Shara Bey: Suddenly, starling. It was like a comet went through the sky and blinded me to anything else. I knew she was coming, so I can’t say she crept up on me. But it was suddenly and all at once and then she was all there was. I saw her, really saw her, and I knew that was it.

Poe knew he would wait for Rey until she told him not to: Dameron men, it seemed, fell in love exactly the same way. 

Suddenly, and all at once, and then it was all there was. 

Chapter Text

Kira lifted her wrench tiredly and continued to work on the speeder. There was no reason for her to go into the mess hall. The party going on was everything to do with Rapier Squadron, and nothing to do with her.

She could hear laughter floating down the corridor into the mechanic bay; Kira smiled because she was glad her friends were happy and home safe from a difficult mission. Kira blushed because she wasn’t sure when she started thinking of them as friends. The squadron needed her skills, and they probably kept her on because she charged less than most expert mechanics. She’d been so desperate to leave her home planet that she would have worked for them for food and a safe place to sleep - the first day she got her credits, she had to pinch herself to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. She could still remember Xander’s teasing grin when she asked if he was sure all that money was for her. “Buy yourself something pretty,” he’d said to her, tugging on her braid. 

Kira had swatted him away; she’d noticed that the commander had seen the entire interaction, a strange look on his face. She didn’t think she imagined the space he put between them after that. That was almost six months ago, and while Xander and Zaph and Rue had all been growing more and more familiar with her, the commander always looked at her a little differently, the way she used to look at hippodores in the desert, wary but hopeful that they’d lead her to water. She wondered when it was that he started treating her so differently, and why it was that she cared at all. 

Kira knew, of course, but there were some things that weren’t worth admitting to yourself.

Someone was walking down the corridor towards the mechanics bay. Since she was a child, Kira was able to sense things coming before they happened; she always chalked it up to surviving in the hostile desert world she’d been abandoned on, but since they’d met with the last Jedi a few weeks back, Kira couldn’t help but connect some things in her mind. Why was it that she was so aware of her surroundings? Why did she fly so well despite never touching a ship until she was almost twenty? How could she pick up on the emotions of almost everyone around her, everyone except the one person she wanted so desperately to know the mind of-

“Credit for your thoughts?”

Kira didn’t look up from the laser cannon she was repairing. “Not worth that much, Hernandez.”

“No.” He stood in the entrance of the bay, not another step. Kira pretended not to care. “No, I’d say they’re worth a lot more.”

“Party got you sentimental?” She put the wrench down carefully and wiped her hands on a rag, turning to smirk at him. 

She was surprised at the look on his face: oddly intense, eyes burning, full attention on her. She put the rag down and switched to wiping her suddenly clammy palms on her coveralls.

“Party got me wondering where our mechanic was,” Hernandez corrected, and Kira nodded before digging through the tools on her bench.

“Your mechanic is fixing your damn bird.” She went for teasing. Seemed safe. “Considering you’re so intent on blowing it up behind her back.”

“Come to the party, Kira.” 

She didn’t look up. “Not my kinda thing, Commander.”

“I’m not a commander anymore.” Right. The business with that purple-haired idiot.

“You’ll always be my commander.” She was surprised at how the words came out. Tender, where she’d never been tender before. She heard his breath catch across the bay, over the sound of the heat vents and engines humming. 

Turning back to the underbelly of the ship, Kira jammed the hydrospanner into a board of circuits, dodging out of the way instinctively when sparks flew out. “Careful,” she heard him say, much closer than he’d been a few moments ago. 

“I’m always careful,” Kira lied easily, and she heard him laugh. “Just as careful as you.”

“I earned that,” Hernandez admitted, and she rolled her eyes, thinking back to his last mission where he’d outrun fifty Imps in an effort to distract from the refugees escaping. “Come to the party?”

“You’re really stuck on this party.” Kira dropped the spanner back into place and turned again to see Hernandez less than three feet away from her. She refused to blink in surprise. “Why?”

“Because there’s good food,” he began, and she snorted because at least he knew the most likely way to draw her in, “And the squadron’s there...and there’s dancing.”

“Dancing.” Kira shook her head, nose wrinkled, and moved to walk past him. “I don’t dance.”

Hernandez reached out and caught her elbow, and she spun, catching her hands on his shoulders to keep upright. Her breath escaped her in a surprised huff. 

“You don’t dance?” Hernandez repeated, and she nodded; a second later, he’d wrapped his hand around hers and spun her in a lazy circle, almost matching the beat of the music that floated down the corridor. “How about now?”

“Commander.” Kira rolled her eyes, but let him swing her around for a few seconds; if someone else, say, Xander, had tried this, she would have jolted them with her trusty zapper immediately. But Hernandez was smiling like he normally didn’t smile, and his hands were warm, and his eyes were kind, and she found that she didn’t hate dancing so much when she was dancing with him.

She graciously allowed him to spin her around the bay a few more times, before pulling away gently.

“I need to get back to work,” she said firmly, “That’s what you’re paying me for.”

“Kira.” She didn’t want to look at his face. “Kira, we don’t just … you don’t have to work all the time to be part of the squadron. I see that you think that, and I see that you’re … operating under a lot of assumptions, but - but we care about you.”

“You do?” Kira picked at a callous on her fourth finger, not looking up. “The squadron?”

“The squadron.” He was standing in front of her, and then his hand was under her chin. “...but also me.”

She looked up, surprised at how hoarse his voice had gotten. His eyes were liquid pools of amber now, hot and hungry enough to make her shiver. “You care?” She said, voice faint.

“So much.” Hernandez shook his head, lips parted as he stared at her mouth. “Kira, I don’t-”

“Hernandez.” Just his name. She didn’t know if she were pleading with him to stop, or keep going.

“Say my name,” he whispered, “Just this once. My real name.”

They were alone in the mechanics bay, a bubble of space and time enclosed around them, private but not, and Kira wanted something beyond survival, this time. 

“Zaac,” she obliged, watching him swallow, the smooth lines of his throat moving, “Izaac-”

He kissed her then, and she hadn’t seen it coming- why was it always him she couldn’t see coming - but she welcomed it more than she’d ever welcomed anything. Zaac kissed like wildfire whisky, hot and spicy-sweet with a strength that surprised her; his kisses became more intense as he backed her up against the lift she used to access the bottom of ships. A second later, he’d wrapped his hands around her thighs and lifted her roughly into the air, her back stabilized by the lift.

She gasped and felt his interest stir under his civvies: desperate for more contact, his fingers fumbled with the zipper of her coveralls, pulling it roughly downwards to mouth at the swell of her -

“That’s not rated T,” Rey whispered, cheeks pink as she flung her phone away from her. “Dear God.

She patted her cheeks anxiously as she willed the image out of her mind: she couldn’t lie and say she never swapped herself in for Kira while reading X-Wing fic, but she usually stuck to G and T rated ones, especially since she knew the man playing Hernandez now - and she more than knew him, really liked him, really really liked him, sometimes even thought about kissing him.

And now she had to wipe that image from her head, of Poe-as-Hernandez lifting Rey-as-Kira into the air and kissing her and her body and making her feel things that she hadn’t felt in over a year, things that made her anxious and shaky to even think about, let alone experience. “Sorry,” she whispered to the universe, more to Poe, for reading something that was so clearly a wish fulfillment, “Sorry.”

She rubbed her eyes for a second, but then, as always, curiosity got the better of her.

“Sorry,” she whispered again, sliding onto her stomach and grabbing her phone; she swiped in her password and then resumed reading.

--at the swell of her breasts. Kira moaned, happy but wildly so, and tangled her fingers in his dark curls. 

This was hers, she thought fiercely. The desert had not raised a gentle girl, after all. If he were to kiss her like this, make her feel like this, then he would be hers too, and she would be his, and she’d never stop kissing him.

Their mouths slotted together again, and Kira found herself impatiently tugging on his shirt. With a laugh huffed into her mouth, Hernandez stumbled backwards and sank to the ground, lying down so she was straddling him, and Kira could have crowed in victory because there he was, hard and gorgeous and-”

[INCOMING CALL FROM: POE DAMERON]

“Fuck!” Rey screeched, wondering if she’d somehow sent a link of what she was reading to the last number she’d texted (she’d done that once, to Finn, but he’d only laughed and admitted to also reading X-Wing fanfic). She would die if she’d sent this to Poe by accident, she really would, oh God-

She picked up after six seconds of flailing her feet against the wall and half-screaming into her pillow.

“Hi?”

Please please please please - 

“Hey, Sunshine.” Poe’s voice was warm over the line, and not at all accusatory; good, so he probably didn’t know what she was reading. “You busy?’

Rey’s stomach, despite the sudden uptick in anxiety, was still a heated coil of messy feelings that confused her and intrigued her, and - “N-no,” she said, half-honestly. “Not busy.”

“Good.” She closed her eyes at his voice, her stomach getting tighter for some reason. She rolled over onto her back as he kept talking, her fingers splayed out over her hip. “I was wondering if you had any plans for Friday night?”

“No.” Her heart leapt into her throat. Was he going to ask her out? What would she say? “No plans.”

“Great,” his voice just had to be so warm and perfect, didn’t it? “Would you like to come to Friendsgiving?”

“Friends-” Rey wrinkled her nose, and stopped her hand where it was stirring idle circles into the heated skin of her hip. Huh. She hadn’t noticed it doing that. “What’s that?”

“Me and my friends do it every year,” Poe continued, cheerful now, and decidedly not seductive, and Rey tried not to be disappointed. “We all bring some shitty side dish and eat a fuck ton of food. You and Finn are both invited!”

“That sounds … great.” Rey squeezed her eyes shut and prayed Poe wouldn’t ask why her voice was so shaky. “Um, I’ll ask Finn, but I’d love to come.”

Yeah, she would. Rey squeaked at the sudden, intrusive thought, and clapped a hand over her mouth. 

“You okay?” Poe asked, concerned.

“Yep. Just … sneezed.” What the fuck. 

“Bless you!” Poe said cheerfully, completely unaware of what a loser he was talking to. Rey kicked her feet against the bed and pretended to be normal.

“Okay, so...I’ll text Finn and let you know if he’s in?” Rey asked. “What - what time would it start?”

“Six.” Poe was quiet for a second and then added, “I’m … I’m really glad you can come, Rey.”

She blushed immediately at the sound of him saying her name; she’d never felt attached to it in the past, but when Poe said it, it sounded … right. Like she wanted to hear it again, over and over, if he were the one saying it.

You should probably respond, now. 

“Thanks for inviting me,” she whispered, and the line was quiet for a few seconds as Rey’s toes curled with a giddiness that almost didn’t feel real. 

“See you then,” Poe said, clearing his throat, “I mean- shit, I’ll...I’ll see you in class too, and, uh, outside and stuff, but-”

“I’ll see you,” Rey giggled. “Bye, Poe.”

“Bye.”

The call disconnected, and Rey rolled back over to bury her face in her pillow, smiling hard enough that her cheeks hurt.

A minute later, though, she opened her phone back up and resumed reading, blushing more and more as Kira and Hernandez had their moment in the hangar -

Whoever you are, aranasofaraway, thank you, Rey thought when they reached their stunning conclusion. She shook her head, overheated beyond belief.


“Happy Thanksgiving!” Jess screamed as she threw the door open to Poe’s apartment.

Rey laughed and let her friend tug her inside, and accepted the tight hug a second later. She held the green bean casserole delicately - she and Finn had made it together in the shitty dorm oven, and she was already prepared with an apology - so it wouldn’t get knocked over. Jess moved on to hug Finn a second later, and then Rose, who’d been invited as Finn’s new girlfriend. 

Rose had brought a sweet potato pie, and it was accepted with a woop of joy from Poe’s friends, Iolo and Yolo who then introduced themselves.

“You’re both named Yolo?” Rose asked, politely confused, as she looked between the two, handsome young men. 

“Yep.” Iolo slung an arm around Yolo’s shoulders, and grinned down at Rose. 

“Did that ever cause issues?” Rose kicked her shoes off and hugged Jess too. “Like, when you were growing up?”

“We didn’t grow up together,” Yolo said cheerfully. 

“Poe introduced you?”

“Nope.” Iolo shrugged. “We already knew each other.”

“How did you two meet, by the way?” Poe asked, coming around the corner. Rey’s mouth went dry at the sight of him: his blue button-down fit him perfectly, sleeves rolled up to the elbow, tucked into a pair of trousers, and covered with an adorably messy apron. 

“Don’t worry about it,” one of them muttered, but it was lost in Poe’s cry of: “Rey! Finn, buddy! Rose!” 

He hugged Rose first, after removing his apron, and then bumped chests with Finn, hugging him tightly at the end. 

Then, he was in front of Rey, and she swore he hesitated for a second; she threw her arms around him before she could change her mind, her eyes fluttering shut as she breathed in the scent of cinnamon that was lingering in his hair, mingling with his normal smell (and how did she know his normal smell? When had it begun to count as familiar?). 

Poe hugged her back, not tightly but firmly, and she swore she heard him inhale sharply as his nose brushed against her hair. 

“Thanks for having us,” she whispered, when they broke apart. “Here’s, uh, here’s a casserole?”

“Love it,” Poe said, taking it from her, his cheeks flushed from the heat of the kitchen. “Make yourself comfortable, we’ll eat in a bit-”

“Sounds good.” Rey wrapped her arms around herself, glad that Finn had talked her into her prettiest green sweater, glad that Rose had brushed her hair out and done something nice with pulling it up so she looked more put together than normal.

She swore too, that Poe’s eyes lingered on her entire self before he turned away, and she swore that the back of his neck was red-

Poe lifting Rey in a mechanics bay, an orange flight-suit unzipped and hanging around his hips, his hands tangled in her hair, and his moans echoing in the space, and-

Rey blinked and shook herself, beet red now judging by the heat radiating from her cheeks. Iolo waved at her to come help him set up the table, and the time passed amiably enough with the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special on the tv, and Karé and Connix popping in and out of the dining room to help with the place settings.

Poe wove in and out of the group, his hair increasingly wild from the hot air of the oven, and Rey teased him about it gently on his third pass through the dining room - he blushed, really truly blushed, and Rey reached out and smoothed a curl down with the flat of her hand without thinking.

His hair was soft. Of course it was. Poe stopped his fussing and hurrying about to stare at her, and she pulled her hand back. “Sorry.”

“Don’t be.” Poe shook his head and half-lifted his hands, and Rey tensed, unsure if she wanted what she thought might happen next, but sure if that she did want it, it would be with Poe -

The front door slammed open. “I have arrived!” A huge, booming voice filled the room, and people shouted in joyful recognition; Rey, having not expected a loud noise, flinched.

Poe half-turned so his body was almost protectively in front of hers, and sighed. “Snap, buddy, we talked about knocking.”

“What’s that?” Snap scooped Jess up and spun her in a circle.

“This is my manager,” Poe muttered to Rey, “We, uh, sort of grew up together.”

“Temmin.” 

Snap set Jess on the floor and looked over guiltily to where Karé was standing, arms crossed in front of her chest. 

“And he used to date Karé,” Poe continued, now in a stage whisper. Iolo and Yolo ducked around the corner, giggling. “They broke up, but we all know that will last about five minutes.”

Rey giggled too, at the very large man looking so very nervously happy at the sight of tiny Karé, and sure enough, when they sat down to eat twenty minutes later, Karé was sitting next to Snap, and they were holding hands. 

The food was delicious: the pies, the casseroles, the potatoes, and of course, Poe’s carefully made and perfectly seasoned turkey. Rey ate until she was stuffed. It was noisier than she normally preferred, but it was laughter and clanging silverware against plates and Beatrice- dressed as a turkey for the occasion- barking that made so much noise, and Rey let herself sink into it happily. 

Finn was on her left, and Poe on her right at the head of the table, and all her friends were there. The room was warm, and the conversation easy, and no one asked why Rey fell silent at times. She’d never thought, all those lonely nights in England, that she’d ever have anything close to a home; but here she was, surrounded by people who were happy and laughing and who wanted her with them, and no matter what she’d been told, or what had been done to her, she couldn’t bring herself to doubt that they wanted her there, that they cared about her, in that moment.


Poe would have frozen time on that Friday if he could have; as much as he loved going home to the farm, he wanted to stay in that moment where Rey Kenobi laughed so happily in his dining room, with Beatrice in her lap, and all his friends gathered in one place. Preferably, he would have brought Kes to that moment, and then it would have been truly perfect, something he never had to change or move on from.

But the night did come to a close, and Rey Kenobi did leave his dining room; he prayed he wasn’t imagining how she lingered hugging him goodbye, but then she was gone, walking down his stairs with Finn and Rose around her, and he had to clean up and get ready for the flight back to Yavin. 

He flew out on a red eye, taking an Uber that was dog-friendly; he made it through Takodana Regional without a hitch, and got his seat in business class without anyone recognizing him. But, as they began their descent into LAX, Poe slid the hood of his sweatshirt up and slipped his sunglasses out when he disembarked, unwilling to take a chance on the paparazzi spotting him on the first day of break.

A few people recognized him as he grabbed his checked luggage from the carousel; he nodded at them politely, and even let a young boy wearing an X-Wing shirt pet Beatrice as she waited patiently for him to get his stuff in order. The drive up to Yavin, in a car sent by Snap, was more peaceful than the flight, and Poe found himself drifting off as they wove through the mountains.

Right as they entered a no service area, his phone buzzed; he startled out of his doze and checked it.

It was a picture of Rey Kenobi, a selfie, as she wrinkled her nose at the camera, sitting in a bus seat; Finn was asleep on her shoulder, mouth opening, clearly snoring, and she was sticking her tongue out adorably. Poe’s heart skipped a beat, and then another.

I’m taking a survey: should I wet willy him? Text back Y/N

Simply put, it was the closest to a flirty text she’d ever sent him, and his mouth was dry as his fingers flew over his keyboard.

I vote: Y 

[Message Not Delivered]

“Goddamnit,” Poe hissed, glaring at the mountains as they sped down the road. He held the phone close to the window, like that made a difference. “Come on, come on, come on,” he tapped the phone on the window and groaned when it wouldn’t go through.

He didn’t enter a service area for fifteen minutes, the mountains giving way to stretches of farmland, and finally it went through; he prayed Rey hadn’t given up on waiting for a response for him.

Finally, his phone buzzed, right as they turned down the lane for his father’s farm.

I did, in fact, wet willy him. He was not amused. Poe snorted and imagined Finn startling awake, and how he’d probably tried to stay mad at Rey, and how he’d probably failed because no one could stay mad at someone like Rey.

He saved the selfie she sent him to his photo roll, thinking that it was probably fine for him to do so if she’d sent it to him, and smiled as he texted back. 

How’s the trip? 

It’s going, Rey responded quickly enough that Poe thought maybe she, too, was waiting for texts from him (and wasn’t that something). You?

He waited for the car to come to a stop outside the massive, renovated farmhouse, and then opened the door. Beatrice immediately burst free and ran, barking, to where a number of chickens had gathered on his father’s front stoop.

The birds scattered, and Beatrice chased them, tongue lolling out. He got a video that captured it all, and sent it to Rey before thanking his driver. 

The car rolled away when the door opened wide, and Kes Dameron walked out, wearing a loose flannel over faded jeans. Poe grinned at his dad, and they hugged tightly in front of the house before Kes patted his sides and huffed crossly.

“You’ve lost weight,” he said sternly, “Let’s fix that.”

“Dad,” Poe groaned, pushing him away half-heartedly. 

“Don’t tell me, my big college boy doesn’t want a big college meal! No more diets! You aren’t filming, we can eat and eat and eat,” Kes dragged him up the stairs, and Poe went happily enough, Beatrice barking at their heels.

He got a few more texts while sitting with his dad in the kitchen, eating freshly made bread and butter, and his dad only teased him about it for half an hour (“ my son, waiting by the phone for a girl, oh, it’s so 2007! ”) before they had a more serious conversation, one that Poe initiated by accident after his father’s fifteenth smart-ass remark, this one of “Have you given her a kiss yet?”

“No,” Poe said, more harshly than he meant, “No, and it might not be like that.”

“What do you mean it might not be like that?” Kes snorted indignantly and rested a dirty boot on the empty chair between them at the table. The other empty chair, the one on the other side of the square table, was never filled, never disturbed, and they never talked about it. It remained, unfilled, undisturbed, in a place of honor, and they never had to agree on that fact. It just was. “She texts, you grab your phone and get all misty-eyed. I’m supposed to believe it’s not like that ?”

“It might not be like that for her,” Poe said quietly, rubbing his thumb over a whorl in the tabletop. “It is for me. Fuck, Dad, of course it is, I -” he shook his head and grabbed the ring around his neck. “I understand this now.”

“What?” Kes’s boot hit the floor with a dull thunk.

“I understand what you were saying when you gave this to me,” Poe explained weakly, his face burning as he forced himself to meet Kes’s suddenly bright eyes. “I understand why you told me to wait and to listen and I understand now. She’s-” he made a noise of frustration, unable to fully describe Rey Kenobi. “She’s unlike anyone I’ve ever met, and I can’t … I don’t think I could feel this way about anyone else-”

“So tell her,” Kes urged. “There’s nothing wrong with honesty-”

“She’s been hurt,” Poe muttered, rubbing his neck. Kes softened immediately. “And I don’t know how, but the world’s been … shit to her. And she needs friends right now, and I don’t think she needs that from me. She needs a friend, and so…”

“So you won’t tell her you love her?”

“No.” Poe shrugged, exhausted suddenly. “Not yet. Maybe not ever.”

Kes made a soft noise and stood up, walking around the table to wrap his wiry arms around Poe’s shoulders. Poe patted his dad’s forearm a few times before collapsing into the embrace, and they stayed like that for a long time as the light changed in the kitchen and the sunlight slanted through the window and fell on a chair that hadn’t been filled for over half of Poe’s life.


His break got off to a good start, with Beatrice roaming the pack of alpaca and trying to herd the non-interested animals to her heart’s content. He and his dad got up early on Sunday and walked the length of the farm, and later that day, Poe sat in his mom’s old plane, the one Kes kept stored in the barn on the west pasture, for an hour, holding his ring and talking to her quietly about a girl with hazel eyes and freckles.

“You would have loved her,” Poe whispered, running his fingers over the control panel, settling into the leather chair that still crackled when you shifted your weight. “You would have-” He wiped a tear from his cheek and rested his hand against the ignition for a long moment.

Of course, it couldn’t all be idyllic farm moments and spending time with his family; Snap sent him a text on Sunday night reminding him of a party he had to go to in Coruscant the next day, over in the corner of LA that Poe hated the most for its obsession with glitz and glamor and gossip. Zorri would be there, and Amilyn, and the only consolation Poe had was that there was a slight chance of free food. 

Not that their food was any good.

But, he had six months left on his contract with New Republic Broadcasting, so he didn’t necessarily have a way to say no to the party thrown by one of X-Wing’s head producers; Poe found himself being bundled into a company car well after sunset on Monday, his one cheer the fact that his phone buzzed with a picture from Rey as he got into the car.

It was of an old man sitting with a fat cat on his lap: My uncle claims that he didn’t adopt this feral beast, but yet, the beast has a food bowl and sleeps in my room? 

Super cute, Poe wrote back quickly, does he/she/it have a name?

[Rey Kenobi, 7:35 pm]: IT is named Arthur, but my uncle calls it Artoo more often than not, for reasons unknown. How is Beatrice? 

Poe smiled as they drove down the road. Not here, he typed back, she can’t come to swanky parties. I’ve tried.

[Rey Kenobi, 7:40 pm]: Party? Sorry, don’t want to interrupt. 

Trust me, you’re not. Poe shook his head and growled to himself as he glared out the window. Haven’t gotten there and besides, I’d much rather be talking to you. 

Three dots appeared and then disappeared, and Poe waited on tenterhooks because it was a bit more direct than he usually was about how much he preferred Rey’s company to most (and if he was braver he’d say I’d much rather be with you, much rather be holding you, much rather be next to you than anywhere else in the world ). 

Finally, he got a response, right as they turned onto the main highway.

[Rey Kenobi, 7:45 pm]: Did you have to get all dressed up? 

Did she...did she just ask what he was wearing? Poe grinned, only slightly blushing as his mind got away from him - and wouldn’t it be something if this were a world where Rey did flirt with him like that, where they had those kinds of conversations-

He opened his camera and turned on the flash, taking a selfie with the unerring accuracy of someone who’d been photographed and had a perfectly maintained social media presence his entire career. Does this count as dressed up? He sent back, knowing that the Tom Ford suit was definitely fancier than anything Rey had ever seen him wear (they’d gone through an entire study session once with him not knowing that he’d managed to spill tomato sauce, in a stain bigger than his hand, all down his front). 

[Rey Kenobi, 7:50 pm]: Swanky. Almost feel like you shouldn’t be talking to the riffraff over here. 

Poe debated asking what she was wearing- somehow, it sounded so much creepier when it was a guy asking, he knew that much- but then a photo came through, unprompted.

Rey was wearing an ancient NASA sweatshirt and a pair of reading glasses that were perched endearingly on her nose; she was smiling, and her hair fell in waves around her face, and Artoo the fat cat was sitting on her shoulder, peering at the camera.

[Rey Kenobi, 7:50 pm]: Artoo and I wouldn’t be allowed ten feet of your party, Mr. Dameron.

Doubtful, Poe shot back, immediately. Artoo would blow them all away. Style mogul of the season.

[Rey Kenobi, 7:52 pm]: Yes, but then they’d ask, who’s that strange girl with him? 

C’mon, you’d be the most beautiful girl there. 

He sent it before he really thought about it, and immediately panicked. “Shit,” he hissed, “Shit, shit shit shitshit-” It was one thing to think that about Rey, and quite another to type it into existence for her to read. Now she knew that Poe thought she was beautiful (although to be fair saying Rey was beautiful was like saying the sky was blue) and worse, she probably thought he was trying to be sleazy and not honest.

Three dots appeared and disappeared, and Poe flayed himself internally. 

[Rey Kenobi, 8:00 pm]: I’m sure. Have fun at your party, I have to go help Obi shop for dinner tomorrow. 

Sounds good, Kenobi. Poe frowned and tucked his phone in his jacket when he didn’t get a response, and he thunked his head on the window until he imagined his stylist’s shriek of protest when she saw what he’d done with his curls.

He almost fell out of the car when it pulled up outside the Coruscanti hotel that was hosting the party, and he forced himself to smile as the flash of multiple cameras started to go off. Poe waved as he walked up the carpet of the establishment, and ducked into the relative calmness of the lobby.

The party was, for lack of a better word, a clusterfuck. There was literally no one there he gave half a rat’s ass about, and anyone he had to rub elbows with for the sake of Amilyn, his least favorite producer (who had yet to realize that the hateful purple-haired admiral on X-Wing was based on her), was honestly repellant. Still though, he survived the first two hours easily enough, and only checked his phone for another text from Rey a dozen times.

He was standing there, wishing he was on campus so seeing Rey was as easy as texting “ Got pizza, wanna review chapter 9 (yes this is a bribe)?” when he saw him.

Ben Solo - no, Kylo Ren. Lurking near the side exit, glaring at the crowd with his disgusting, repulsive producer-slash-handler, Reginald Snoke. Poe wasn’t sure why Takodana’s elite swimmer-turned-sort-of-model needed someone like Snoke in his corner, but he knew that they went back to the start of Ben--Kylo’s time at Takodana (and he only knew that because four years ago was right around the time that Han Solo started looking sad, that he started talking about his son more wistfully, that his son stopped showing up to set to see his parents). 

Poe was set to ignore them, until he turned around to grab a flute of champagne; they walked up behind him almost silently and almost scared the shit out of him when he turned and saw them waiting.

“Jesus.” Poe shook his head and sneered at Ben/Kylo. “Didn’t think they’d let you into one of these.”

After what you did, went unsaid, but Kylo clearly heard it. 

“I’ve come to you as a friend tonight,” he said in that stupid-deep voice of his, and Poe rolled his eyes.

“We aren’t friends, pal.” Poe shrugged and knocked back his glass of champagne, ignoring Snoke’s creepy, buggy eyes on him. “Sorry.” He moved to walk around them both, but Kylo grabbed his arm. Poe stiffened, and glanced around the room. There really wasn’t anyone here he trusted, and with so many people with phones, and so many cameras, he couldn’t afford to make a scene. 

“I mean it.” Kylo squeezed his arm threateningly before releasing him, and Poe took a step back, shaking his arm out. “There’s something we think you should know.”

“Oh, really?” Poe barked out a harsh laugh. “Was it - gee, look out buddy, I mighta tampered with that harness a bit? ” Kylo paled and then scowled at the reference, and the contortion of his face allowed Poe to notice the scar that ran from his eyebrow to his jaw, a new scar that was clearly covered up by some kind of cosmetic surgery, or make-up, or both. 

“Who fucked up your face?” Poe snorted when Kylo purpled, and saw Snoke put a warning hand on his back. “I’d love to send ‘em a thank you card.”

“You know them,” Kylo sneered, “and she’s the person I’m trying to warn you about.”

Something cold slid into his stomach. Poe shook his head. “Don’t,” he said, surprised at how sharp his voice was. He was usually in better control of his tone, and his reaction to things, but he was shocked at how quickly fury coursed through his system. “Don’t you even fucking try, I’ve seen you on campus, and I know you aren’t supposed to -”

“Aren’t supposed to what?” Kylo snapped. “Defend myself? Against her ludicrous allegations?” He got in Poe’s face, but Poe was too angry and confused to really count it as the threat it was. “I don’t know what she’s told you, Dameron, but you should know- she’s a danger to you, and anyone she comes into contact with.”

“What are you talking about?” Poe demanded and then shook his head. “No, I don’t care what you have to say-”

“The Kenobi girl,” Snoke broke in, his voice deadly calm, chilling and cruel, “has a dangerous imagination, and a proclivity to attaching herself to powerful men, like Kylo here, and, from what he’s told me, yourself.”

“Stay out of this,” Poe snapped, but Snoke just smirked. “You don’t know her-”

“I know plenty of women like her.” Snoke tsked at the half-stranged noise of rage Poe made. “Desperate, needy, clingy- so quick to turn on you when they think it benefits them. Poor Kylo here, was only trying to help the dear girl. She isn’t well, you know. Spent part of the spring in the psych ward-”

“Shut the fuck up,” Poe warned, bristling now, knowing that, as much as he hated violence, he was seconds away from punching one or both of them, and he wasn’t sure he’d be able to stop at one hit, “I don’t want to talk to either of you about- about anything, really, but certainly not about her.”

“She probably told you the same little sob story she tried selling to the police.” Snoke stood in front of Kylo now, and Poe eyed the exit, feeling nauseated like he hadn’t been in a long time. “Not that she didn’t take that back too, when she had her breakdown- she’s dangerous, Mr. Dameron, and my client and I would hate to see someone with your talent and promise brought down by a pernicious liar with a tentative grasp on reality-”

“Stop,” Poe warned, taking a step back when Snoke took a step forward.

“-And I’m sure she didn’t tell you about the charges she faced in England, which were, of course, expunged from her record when her uncle intervened, but theft ? And assault of her guardian?” Snoke tsked again. “Not the girl a nice young man with a good future should be affiliating himself with-”

“I’m done here,” Poe said flatly, holding his hands up. “I’m leaving, and I don’t want to talk to either of you ever again-”

“Don’t you know?” Snoke smiled at him eerily. “I just purchased large shares in NRB. We’ll be having plenty of conversations in the future.”

“Not if I can help it,” Poe retorted coldly. He turned on his heel, ready to march out, when Kylo stopped him again, having been silent for all of his puppeteer’s cold speech. His hand wrapped around Poe’s arm for the second time that evening, and Poe gritted his teeth.

“Watch your back Dameron.” Was that a threat? “With Rey Kenobi, I mean. She likes to cry wolf.” 

The horrible, building realization crashed into him, undeniable then- Poe wished for it desperately to be untrue, but with Kylo Ren looming over him, smirking coldly enough to transform his face into a mask of cruelty that he’d clearly learned at Snoke’s side, Poe knew almost certainly that it was true, hideously true.

He grabbed Kylo’s wrist and twisted viciously, digging his nails into the tendons until he released him with a snarl of pain, and then he was out the doors, walking so fast to his car he was almost running.

Poe felt his phone vibrate as the car wound through the mountains, but he was shaking too badly to care about it. He dragged his hands through his hair over and over again, and finally, after the third buzz of a missed call, he pulled his phone out.

There were three missed calls from Snap, one text from his dad, and one from Rey Kenobi.

He read Rey’s text as they turned onto the road towards Yavin. I hope you’re having a great time at your party! We had to buy a new turkey. It was accompanied by a picture of Artoo the cat sitting among the wreckage of a Butterball turkey. Poe laughed a little bit at the thought of Rey scolding a cat for wasting food; he laughed for half a second before it broke in half and became a sob, and he tossed his phone onto the seat next to him and fought his writhing thoughts until he was safely home.

“Mijo?” His father called out as he swept up the stairs. “Everything okay?”

“Yeah, dad,” Poe shouted back, closing his door and wrestling his suit jacket off. It was the first lie he’d told his father in a decade. “Just tired.”

He sat on the bed as midnight passed by, and finally he opened his phone and did what been avoiding since he’d left the party. There was no point in avoiding it now, other than wanting to hear it from the source; but, Poe needed to know, needed to understand - there were too many pieces falling together, and he couldn’t exactly call the girl he was in love with and demand answers she might not be able to give him, answers she shouldn’t have to give.

Poe didn’t for a second believe that Kylo was right in claiming that Rey was planning on ruining his life: he did believe the reason why powerful men, or men who wanted power, said that about women. His hands shook as he opened Google on his phone, and he wiped his eyes with his sleeve, trying to talk himself out of typing it until he couldn’t hold it back anymore:

Ben Solo Takodana he typed, pausing for a long second, head tilted back as he breathed through his nose. He added the final word, feeling like total shit as he did: rape.

The search came up immediately with an article from the Takodana Daily, dated January 28th, 2019. His thumb hovered over it for a long second before he clicked it. He scanned the article quickly, the heat draining from his fingers and face as he did so; the more he read, the nausea rose, a hot tide into his throat. He set the phone down when he was done. 

Poe twisted in his bed and slammed his fist into the wall, hard enough to make the hanging framed photos rattle ominously. Pain lanced up his wrist, but Poe didn’t pay it any mind; his father called up to him, sounding worried, but Poe didn’t answer. He buried his head in his hands and tried to breathe steadily. When that failed, he dug his fingers into his scalp and tried not to cry.

When that failed, he tried not to worry that he had no idea what to do next.

Chapter Text

Poe Dameron was acting strangely.

It started before they got back from break; he hadn’t texted her since he’d gone to that party, and Rey eyed the tabloids warily later that week, wondering if she’d see Poe Dameron, Quits School, or Poe Dameron, Linked with Insta-Model. She scolded herself when she did so, telling herself that Poe Dameron certainly didn’t have to text her, and if he had experienced some major life change that would explain his radio silence, well, that was his business and certainly not something she had any business reading in a magazine.

Still, she made it through the rest of her break feeling off-kilter and anxious, as if the world had shifted and hadn’t given her an update; if Obi noticed, he said nothing, probably too happy to have her home and relatively healthy to ask questions. Thanksgiving was spent peacefully enough- Satine was abroad, and Luke hadn’t been able to make it (and Rey couldn’t tell if she were disappointed or relieved she wouldn’t see her friendly-if-cantankerous lawyer/makeshift godfather), so it was just them eating turkey, feeding pieces to Artoo, who Rey was begrudgingly starting to like.

They decorated the house for Christmas, and then, with a kiss on her cheek, Obi put her back on the Saturday afternoon bus from Stewjon to Takodana; he waved merrily from the curb as they pulled away, but Rey’s heart twisted painfully when his hand dropped and went to his beard when he thought she couldn’t see him anymore. He looked older, and more tired, as the bus pulled away- she wondered if he were worried for her, or some other reason, and she wondered if he’d been hiding that exhaustion all break. 

She tried to put it from her mind but to no avail: it jumped onto the pile of Top Anxieties as the bus ride dragged on and on - this trip taking longer than the trip down, as Finn had flown out to see his grandfather a few days ago, and wasn’t there to be her bus buddy this time. Obi’s hidden worries, Poe Dameron’s sudden silence: Rey couldn’t even nap in the face of so much nervousness.

When she got back to campus, the streets were still eerily deserted. Rey pushed the paranoia away, her boots clacking against the asphalt of the street outside Darklighter, her arms wrapped tight around her to block out the chill. Maybe she should get a new jacket - but no. It was a waste of money, and winter would be over in three months, and then where would she be? Fifty or a hundred dollars down, with an item of clothing she could only really use for a fourth of the year. Silly.

The dorms were empty as she stomped up the stairs; Obi had offered to switch her ticket to tomorrow morning, but she’d wanted to come back to campus early to get a head start on studying. The next week was a reading week for her, and the week after, all her finals, so she could use this time by herself to begin reviewing her notes for Professor Malbus’s class before she began her essay.

Rey dropped into the chair in her room and lugged out her binders; halfway through her outline, her phone buzzed.

And, like an idiot, she dove for it.

It was from Finn, and as much as she loved Finn, Rey couldn’t deny the sinking of her heart.

[Finn, 9:41 pm]: See you tomorrow, Peanut! 

There was a cute picture of him and Rose, who he’d driven to see that morning, and to meet her aunt and uncle. Rey had learned a lot about Rose Tico in the last few weeks, things that made her think that maybe she wasn’t so different from the small girl who’d captured her best friend’s attention and his heart: her parents were killed in a factory accident when she was a child, and her sister, killed by a drunken frat boy two years ago.

Rose was resilient, and kind, and funny, and a brilliant computer programmer to boot. Rey quite liked her, and couldn’t even begrudge all the time she spent with Finn, not when she was so lovely, and Finn so enamored of her.

Looking good! See you tomorrow :) 

And back to the outline.

If she stayed up a little later than normal, maybe waiting for a text from a person who was maybe supposed to be flying back from California that night (and maybe that was a part of the reason that she maybe didn’t want to change her ticket), well. 

That would have been stupid because no text came.

She knew for sure that Poe was acting weird when she texted him to ask about their plans to do a study session that Monday. He hadn’t texted her on Sunday to let her know he was back on campus, and part of her was starting to worry that something had happened. As much as she hated to be the person to reach out (because the person who reached out usually got squashed, but then again, Poe had done so much reaching out already), she found herself starting a text to him on Monday morning.

Hey, Dameron. Are we still on to study tonight? Hope everything’s alright.

Rey gathered her things into her Jansport and lugged her bag over her shoulder; after combing her hair back into a hasty braid and brushing her teeth in the shoddy sink that each room in Darklighter had, she jogged down the steps and out onto campus towards the main library. She didn’t feel her phone buzz in the back pocket of her baggy jeans, and she told herself she wouldn’t care if it did anyway.

After she was settled at a seat in the quiet study section, she finally checked her phone - just for the time, of course - and nearly dropped it from her cold, red fingers when she saw that she did have a text.

[Poe Dameron, 9:25 am]: Hey. Yeah, we should study. And I’m fine? Hope your break was good.

Rey tapped her fingers against the table and blew her hair out of her eyes; it was ridiculous, how hurt she felt by a text message that was more than polite. This was her study partner, after all, the person who she was dragging through Linear Algebra. Why would he text her over break? They shared a few texts (that Rey thought had been flirty, but then again, she really wasn’t the best gauge of when men were interested or not interested in her, that was for-fucking-sure) but that meant nothing. 

She tugged on her braid and picked her phone up to text him back, but deleted every iteration she started with. She forced herself to type up the beginning of her outline on her ancient, semi-stolen Macbook before texting him an hour later because it certainly wasn’t as if he were waiting by the phone for her.

Let me know when. We can probably get through chapters 4-6 in a few hours. 

Rey tossed her phone into her bag, figuring she wouldn’t check it until lunch; she didn’t even look at the time until her outline had become more or less a rough draft, and by that point, her stomach was rumbling painfully.

No wonder: it was almost two in the afternoon, and she’d eaten a handful of cold cereal when she woke up at seven. She dug through her bookbag for the small tupperware of leftover turkey, and wandered over to the microwaves, working her way through the crowded library, to heat it up, and it was there that she bumped into Jess. 

“Hey!” Rey smiled at her friend, who looked actually happy to see her.

Funny, how that thought made her cry after how impassive Poe’s texts had been. When did she start caring so much about what Poe Dameron thought of her? 

“Rey!” Jess held her arms out for a hug, and Rey accepted it happily. Jess hummed in appreciation for the stuffing and turkey in Rey’s container as she popped it into the microwave and hit start. “That looks delicious.”

“Did you want some?” Rey asked shyly; there wasn’t a lot, but she’d be happy to share with Jess. Huh. Never thought she’d see the day where she’d be willing to share food. 

“Oh, no thanks,” Jess laughed and waved a hand cheerfully. “I just got back from lunch with Poe!”

“Oh.” Rey nodded, her cheeks cold suddenly. “Cool.”

She stared at the tupperware spinning in the microwave and almost missed what Jess said next.

“--but that was totally on Professor Mothma, don’t you think?”

“Yeah.” Rey nodded once and smiled at her. “She’s … she’s definitely something.”

“Right.” Jess frowned slightly. “You okay?”

“Mhm.” Rey popped her tupperware out of the microwave a few seconds early. “Just...tired. Stressed about finals.”

“Don’t I know it. Do you think if I drank six Five-Hour Energies, I’d get thirty hours of energy?”

“No. I think you’d grow a second head,” Rey teased, and Jess laughed. Rey smiled, happy to have returned the conversation to a place of normalcy, even if she felt a little sad still, sad at the thought of Poe actively socializing on campus and not texting her (and seriously, why did she care?), before turning to go.

And then she saw him.

Poe was standing there, probably looking for Jess, but he was staring at her. He looked exhausted in a way she’d never seen on him before, his messenger bag hanging from his shoulder, his curls tousled but not artfully, and his stubble darker than it had been before break. Rey’s stomach tightened inexplicably- was his dad sick? Was something wrong with Bea? Why would he look so upset, and why was he staring at her with so much sadness-

“Rey.” He said her name quietly, but it made her shiver. There was too much meaning in that one syllable; all she could do was offer an awkward wave.

“Hi.” 

“I - I -” Poe began twice, but stopped and licked his lip, looking to Jess almost desperately.

“You two are studying together tonight, yeah?” Jess grinned at them helpfully, and Rey swallowed as Poe nodded once. “Poe mentioned - what was it, five o’clock? Poe’s place?”

“Or here,” Poe said hoarsely. “We can - we can study here, if you’d prefer, you just never texted-”

“I forgot to check,” Rey admitted, “Got caught up writing a paper for Malbus-”

“-Of course,” Poe nodded rapidly. “No, that’s more than fine, really-”

“Well, ooooh-kay.” Jess gripped Poe by the arm and shot Rey a nervous smile. “I just remembered Poe offered to call my Spanish tutor and help me translate something with them, so, uh, we’ll text ya with deets later, kay?” She dragged Poe away, and his feet stumbled a few times as he stared at Rey until he couldn’t anymore.

Rey held her tupperware gingerly in the kitchenette, unsure of what had just happened, until she shook herself and remembered to move.


“So what the fuck-o was that?” Jess dumped her bag onto the nearest chair and shut the door to the study room quickly. 

“What?” Poe cleared his throat and avoided looking at Jess. 

“You didn’t want to talk about Rey all during lunch- which, might I add, is weird considering she’s your fave topic of conversation- and then she’s standing in front of you and it’s like you got hit by a truck. So, let me re-phrase: what the actual fuck is going on?”

She was scowling at him, and that probably wasn’t a good thing. Poe shrugged and turned halfway from the door. He considered sitting down, but Jess was perched on the table, her foot swinging back and forth the way an angry cat twitched its tail, and he decided that she probably couldn’t kick him from this far away.

“Nothing,” he muttered, shaking his head. “Nothing - really-”

“Mhm.” Jess lifted her eyebrows, clearly not believing him. “Did you suddenly decide you don’t like her? Because if you did-”

“That’s not it,” Poe mumbled, closing his eyes.

“-Then you have got to be a man and tell her because she has not had anything nice in her life, Dameron, and she is trying so hard to have a normal life,” and Jess’s voice broke, horribly, and Poe realized where exactly her anger was coming from, “and I love you, I really do, but you do not get to fuck this up for her.” 

Poe stared at Jess, brittle and exhausted. 

“You know.” 

“What?” Her foot stopped swinging. “What do I know?”

“You know,” Poe repeated, taking a step forward, half-pointing at the door as if she’d be able to see the absolute putrid black hole of shit his brain had spiralled into in the last week. “What happened to her-”

“She told you?” Jess looked shocked, but then she softened, “Shit, she told you - that’s ... that could be good, actually-”

“She didn’t tell me.” Poe dragged a hand down his face and dropped his messenger bag; he kicked it, pettily, as if its name were Kylo Ren. “That fucking dirtbag did-”

“You talked to him? He’s a liar, Poe, he lies, okay? You can’t listen to a thing he says-” Jess’s voice got progressively higher, and Poe held his hands up until she stumbled to a halt.

“He found me at a party,” Poe explained heavily, “tried to feed me some bullshit story about how Rey tried to… I don’t know, extort money from him or something-”

“It’s a fucking lie -”

“I know!” Poe half-shouted, and shook his head, raking a hand through his hair anxiously. “Of course it was- but, fuck, Jess, he tried to tell me more than I wanted to hear, so I had to know - I … I found the story online.”

“They said they’d taken that down.” Jess grabbed her phone and typed frantically. “Fucking shit - they just - they left it up, holy fuck, I thought part of the deal-”

“Deal?” Poe tilted his head. “What … deal?”

“No, of course not, he just changed his name and scrubbed it from social media, of course-” Jess laughed and set the phone down before gripping her knees tightly. “Motherfuckers-”

“What happened?” Poe asked hoarsely.

Jess shook her head. “No. I’m not telling you.”

“Jess, please-”

“And you already know too much!” She jabbed her finger into her kneecap emphatically, glowering at him, “And I get it, he ambushed you, you needed to know more, I get it, I get it, but all you need to know is that article isn’t even close to being a tenth of the fucking truth, or a tenth of the fucking horror show he put her through-”

“I just need to know,” Poe broke in, holding his hands up again, “I just need to know how to not hurt her.” 

He sank into a chair and buried his face in his hands. Jess didn’t speak over him this time. 

“I don’t know what to do,” he admitted to the floor. “I don’t...I’m so afraid that I’ll hurt her, and you’re right, I shouldn’t … I don’t have the right to know the full story, but I like her, Jess.” He looked up, and saw her staring at him. “I’m in love with her, and this - this whole thing is making me realize that … that doesn’t really matter, does it? Not when … not when there’s so much she’s gone through.”

Jess stared at him for a few seconds longer, and he’d almost given up on getting a response, sagging in his chair, when she finally spoke up.

“Boo hoo.”

“What?” His head snapped up to look at her again.

“I said: boo-fucking-hoo.” Jess stood, sliding off the table and towering over him. She pushed his shoulder, not hard enough to be mean, but enough that he shifted slightly. “You’re in love with a great girl. And you find out she’s been through actual hell, and your response is - is what, you don’t know how to love a girl who might be broken?

“No!” Poe shook his head emphatically and stood as well, desperate for her to know that wasn’t it. “She’s not - fuck that, she isn’t broken-”

“Okay.” Jess glared up at him. “So what is it then - self-pity? You think she won’t be able to love you ?” She spoke the last part in a mocking tone, and Poe shook his head again.

“Of course not -”

“Then what?” Jess pushed at him again, and he growled, remembering how she got under his skin when they were kids - they once wrestled so much they fell down a hill and into a creek and were both grounded for three weeks. 

“I meant what I said,” Poe said firmly. “I’m in love with her. I love her, okay? More than anything I could have ever imagined, and - and I’m so fucking furious with Ben Fucking Solo-”

“Eeeh.” Jess made a sound like a buzzer, her small thumb pointing towards the ground. “Try again, Dameron - this isn’t your trauma, you don’t get to say shit like that- why is this making you feel weird around Rey?”

“Because I really don’t know what to do,” Poe hung his head, frustrated that he didn’t know what to say, infuriated with himself more than Jess. “I … I want her to know that I’m there for her, that I’d do anything for her, be anything she needs me to be-”

“So tell her.” Jess rolled her eyes impressively. “Nitwit.”

“I don’t know how-”

“Look,” Jess sighed and crossed her arms in front of her chest. “She’s the same exact girl you fell in love with. You just know a little more about her past now. But fuck it- our pasts don’t define us. They don’t get to define us. You fell in love with a smart, funny, kind, and interesting girl, and she’s still that person! So don’t sit there, feeling sorry for yourself, or feeling sorry for her because holy-fucking-shitballs, that is not going to help you love her any better.” Poe nodded, feeling unmoored and nervous. “And tell her. Just tell her what you told me, and let her make her own fucking choices because God knows the rest of the world has tried to take those choices away from her.”

Jess’s voice broke again at the end of her declaration, and Poe felt his own face crumpling; he realized then, why Jess had looked so sad when he told her he was studying with Rey all those months ago, why it was that Jess had pulled away from their friend group briefly last spring. 

Here he was, worried about what learning of a piece of Rey’s past would do to his current situation, forgetting that someone he cared about had been supporting Rey all along. If he was so distraught at secondhand knowledge, at pieces of a story that were nauseating to even comprehend on a base level - 

“Hey.” He wrapped his arms around Jess. “Hey-”

Jess cried into his shirt then, and he rubbed her back, his eyes squeezed shut as he thanked God or whoever was listening that Rey had a friend like Jess, that Jessika Pava existed at all because most of them sure as hell didn’t deserve her.


Poe Dameron was still acting weird when they sat down to study that night.

But, at least he was talking to her now. 

“I think you meant-” Rey leaned over and tapped her pencil on his matrix, and Poe nodded and hummed.

“Thanks.”

They were quiet again after that, probably the quietest study group in that section of the library.

“How’s Beatrice?” Rey asked as they switched chapters. She felt the need to say something, anything. She wanted to figure out what it was that was bothering him, even if that thing were her. It probably was her.

“She’s good.” Poe smiled at her and then ducked his head. “She misses the farm already.”

“Yeah?” Rey smiled tentatively back, and was awarded by a bigger smile. That was slightly relieving. “When are you two headed back?”

“We’re leaving next Tuesday.”

“So soon?” Rey’s heart felt funny at the thought.

“Yeah, I, uh, only have the one real exam, the rest of my finals are all papers or projects.” Poe shrugged and smiled at her expression. “Why - you gonna miss me, Kenobi?”

It was as close to flirty as he’d gotten since the texts last week, but Rey didn’t feel the need to bat her eyelashes or play with her hair, like any of those magazines at the grocery store would probably instruct her. Instead, she went for honesty.

“Yes.” She swallowed hard, and Poe froze slightly, something unreadable in his face. “You’re...you’re not coming back next semester, right?”

“I am.” Poe reached across the table slowly, as if he were going to take her hand. She wished he would. She really did.

He didn’t. For some reason, he pulled back at the last second. 

“I’m coming back,” he said, placing his hand on the table between them; maybe Rey should take it, she thought wildly, maybe it was her turn to reach out again, “But...just a couple weeks late because of the press circuit.”

“Right.” Rey smiled at him, hoping she didn’t look too elated at the news. “Glad you’re coming back.”

“Me too.” Poe shrugged. “I’ll have to be gone when the actual movie premieres, though, but that’ll just be a weekend trip to LA or something, I don’t know.”

“That sounds fun,” Rey said, and it was almost a question.

“I’d rather be here.” Poe leveled an intense gaze at her then, and she shivered even though it was warm in the library. “Trust me, Sunshine, I’d rather be here.”

She nodded and resumed studying her notes, unsure of what else to say, but Poe spoke again.

“There’s something I need to talk to you about,” he said quietly, and she stiffened.

“Oh?” Rey looked up. “What’s...that?”

“Nothing bad.” Poe half-smiled at her, his brown eyes serious and warm, and making her think of a thousand things she shouldn’t think of in front of him, like what it might be like if she kissed him- “Just...something we shouldn’t talk about while we’re studying.”

“So… we should stop studying?” Rey went to close her textbook, but Poe stopped her, laughing.

“No - no, I’m just - I’m getting ahead of myself.” Poe fiddled with his pencil. “I don’t think - maybe after the exam? Next Monday? We could, uh… we could get dinner?” He turned bright red, and Rey stared at him, her heart speeding up and then stopping in her chest.

Was he asking her out? 

“Um-”

“Just you and me,” he continued, ducking his head and staring at his notes, but clearly not reading. “Not Finn this time, or Jess, as much as I love them- but you and me. So we can … so we can talk?”

“Yeah,” Rey breathed before nodding and speaking up. “Yes, I mean, yeah, I’d like that.”

“Okay.” His smile was strangely bittersweet when he looked back up; but, Rey reasoned, her mind racing and her heart running in time with it, that was probably because they had to wait a week for it, she knew she was disappointed it wasn’t right now:

But, they’d clearly been dancing around something like this all semester. What was another week ?

Maybe it wasn’t a date? No. It was. It was a date.

Poe smiled one more time and went back to his notes, and Rey pretended to study as well, but her cheeks were brilliantly warm, and her thoughts entirely muddled for the rest of the session.


“Maybe it isn’t a date?” Rey asked for the thousandth time as she got ready in her room the next Monday.

“It’s a date,” Finn and Rose said, fake-monotonous, at the same time. 

She laughed and scrunched her nose at the mirror. “It’s a date.” She nodded, quickly, and then laughed when Rose did. 

“Here, let’s fix your hair,” Rose fussed, grabbing a comb and beaming at Rey in the mirror.

“I thought I did Rey’s hair?” Finn asked mournfully from where he was perched on the bed, finishing up a book for Antilles’s class.

“You’ve been fired,” Rose informed him primly. She started to separate parts of Rey’s hair. “And - how did the final go?”

“Really well.” Rey sighed in relief, and Rose patted her on the head. “I wasn’t worried about it though. A little hard to focus with him six feet away from me, but then I was like … this is school, get your head in the game-”

“-Wildcats-” Finn interjected.

“-And then it was much easier to focus.” Rey stuck her tongue out at Finn, who didn’t notice. “But now, all I have to worry about is L’Ampar’s final, and his study guide was pretty clear.”

“Lucky.” Rose groaned and began to braid Rey’s hair. “Kallus might actually murder me.”

“I heard a rumor that he was CIA,” Finn said thoughtfully, twirling a pen before jotting a note down into his tattered copy of The Evolution of Cooperation. 

“Probably. And probably has confirmed kills. Like. Dozens of them.” 

Rey giggled and agreed with them both, privately far too happy and giddy at the thought of Poe taking her to dinner to really disagree with anyone. 


Poe had already gotten a table at Maz’s when Rey walked in.

He turned towards the door in time to see her enter, and the sight of her actually knocked his breath out of his body, violent if it weren’t for the way it echoed so softly in his chest.

“Hey.” She walked up and clasped her hands together, smiling at him nervously. “Sorry I’m a litle late-”

“You’re fine,” Poe said dazedly. “Here-”

Rey was wearing a pretty dress, dark blue with little white flowers, under a grey cardigan. Her hair was braided back, and not falling in her face at all for once; her boots were the only thing she was wearing that he’d seen before. 

“You look-” he gestured, and words failed him.

“Thanks.” Rey was pink, but that might have been from the cold.

Poe stumbled to pull her chair out for her, and Rey sat down, her hands in her lap; she took a menu from him with another shy smile destined to shatter his heart.

Why was she so beautiful? He couldn’t believe she got this dressed up just to go to dinner with him.

“How did you feel about the final?” Rey asked softly, and Poe twitched his shoulders, unbearably nervous about everything he was about to say to her.

“It was … it was okay. Woulda been screwed without all your help last week, and all semester, but hey, that’s the norm.”

“You don’t give yourself enough credit,” Rey said serenely, and Poe was about to retort when Maz herself walked up to the table.

“Hello, boyfriend,” she greeted him fondly, and Poe snorted; Maz turned her massive eyes, even more magnified behind her glasses, to Rey. “And who is this?

“This is Rey,” Poe introduced, and Rey held her hand out to Maz, who shook it grandly. “Rey Kenobi.”

“Kenobi, hmm?” Maz peered up at her and nodded. “You don’t look much like young Obi-Wan, but I can see the family resemblance.”

“You knew my uncle?” Rey wrinkled her nose. “ Young ?”

“Young to me.” Maz waved an airy hand. “He, too, came here with a lover, once upon a time-”

“Uh-” Rey turned bright red, and Poe was pretty sure he did too.

“It’s not like that,” he said hastily, “C’mon, Maz, geez.”

“Yes, Obi-Wan said that too. The young woman’s ex, the little prat, would have thrown quite a fit if word had gotten ‘round that she were seeing someone else.” Maz shook her head and squinted up at Rey. “That sort of jealousy, hatred … it passes from generation to generation, just as much as goodness or hope.”

“Oh-kay.” So this was one of Maz’s cryptic days. Great.

Rey didn’t look perturbed though; she only looked thoughtful.

“Was her name Padme?” Rey asked softly, as Maz was about to walk away. 

Maz looked over her shoulder and examined Rey keenly before nodding.

“We didn’t order,” Poe called out to Maz’s retreating figure, but she just waved at him dismissively.

Rey seemed sad when he looked over at her, and that put them a few steps back from where they needed to be if he was going to bring this up. They made idle, nervous chitchat instead until Maz came back with a Shirley Temple for Rey, and a Pacifica for Poe. 

“I didn’t mean to drink tonight,” Poe said firmly, ready to pass the beer back to Maz, but the old woman patted his hand and pushed the bottle back towards him. 

“You might need it.” And with that, she shuffled off, no doubt to put in what she assumed they wanted to eat. Poe groaned and wondered why the hell he hadn’t brought Rey to Wicket’s instead.

“I love it here,” Rey sighed happily, looking around at all of the eclectic decor, the dingy walls, the sticky floor, and Poe melted immediately. “Also, I don’t … care if you drink that-” She made a small face and pointed at the bottle, and Poe nodded.

“Right.” He poured it into the slightly dirty glass Maz had left behind and took a small sip. Rey fiddled with her drink before putting it back on the table; he noticed she didn’t drink anything, and the realization of why it was that Rey never drank anything that was handed to her, why she’d be so afraid to, fell into place harder than a plane coming out of the sky and hitting him dead on.

Fuck.

Well, this was coming out quicker than he anticipated.

“The thing I needed to talk to you about,” he said, almost desperate, and Rey looked over from where she’d been examining the photo of the 1999 Pod-Racing Championship winners. “Um-”

“Oh?” Rey gave him a confused smile. “I think … I know?”

“Yeah?” Poe tugged on his hair anxiously, and he swore the metal of his mother’s ring was burning him clear through his chest. “Fuck, I - I know I’ve been acting weird.”

“You really have.” Rey shrugged and smiled at him prettily, and his brain disconnected for a second because she looked a lot calmer than he’d assumed she’d be. “And that’s...that’s okay.”

“It’s not,” Poe said fervently, holding his hand out. Rey placed hers into his carefully, but without hesitation, and his heart skipped a hundred beats, it felt like. He forced himself to keep going. “I’ve been an asshole, all caught up in my head, and … and I know it hasn’t been okay, that I’ve been acting weird.”

“I understand.” Rey squeezed his hand, and Poe stroked his thumb over her knuckles, staring at her small hand in his, wondering at how right it felt. “Maybe, you were scared?”

“I was.” Poe nodded and met her eyes, miserably. “And I shouldn’t have been because- because the past doesn’t change the way I feel about you, at all-”

Rey pulled her hand out of his immediately, the color draining from her face. “What?”

“It doesn’t.” Poe swallowed, and left his hand out between them. “I promise it doesn’t, I’ve just -”

“What are you talking about?” Rey whispered, her eyes distant suddenly as she stared at the table, not at him at all.

“I…” Poe hung his head, his mind racing in confusion. What had he said wrong? Fuck, figure it out, keep talking, “I said that wrong, definitely-”

“What. Are you. Talking. About.” Rey gritted out, and he saw that tears were filling her eyes. She was also breathing faster than before, her body locked up as though she were inches from running away from the table, so he talked fast. Faster than he’d practiced. 

Mistake.

“I - I ran into … I ran into Kylo-” Rey flinched, and Poe swallowed, hard, “And he tried to tell me some- some bullshit-” Rey shook her head.

“No.” She shook her head. “He didn’t -”

“He tried,” Poe said softly, “He tried to, but I walked away, but...but I … heard enough to know-”

“You don’t know anything,” Rey hissed at him, angry now, her eyes wide and hurt. “You don’t -”

“Not everything.” Poe nodded, his hands gripping the table now as he tried to steer this back to normal, and fucking fuck did he step in it this time- “But, Rey, you need to know - I’m - I’m here for you, I am, I’m really here for you, and I’m on your side-”

“I don’t need your pity,” Rey snapped. “And I certainly don’t want it.”

“It’s not pity,” Poe said, horrified at how hurt she looked. Fuck. This was exactly what he wanted to avoid, what was he thinking - “I just … Rey, please, I’m trying to tell you how much I-”

“Leave.” Rey wouldn’t even look at him.

“What?”

“I need you to leave.” A tear rolled down her freckled cheek, carving a path to her jaw, and Poe hated himself more than he ever had. “Now.”

“Okay.” Poe nodded and stood up. He pulled his jacket off the chair. “Um- I’m sorry.”

Rey didn’t say anything.

“You don’t ever have to see me again,” he whispered, “Not if you don’t want to. I’m just… fuck, I’m so sorry.”

He walked away quickly, his eyes slipping shut when he heard her breath stagger; he settled his tab with Maz, and headed outside, tugging on his hair anxiously. Because he couldn’t help it, because he needed to know how badly he’d fucked up, he turned and looked through the window to see Rey Kenobi crying at the table by herself, her face in her hands. Maz walked up to her, a small withered hand on Rey’s shoulder, and Rey was shaking her head, saying something that Poe couldn’t hear.

“Fuck,” he muttered, pulling his phone out and dialing a number quickly. “Fuck me-”

Hello?”

“Finn.” Poe swallowed and dragged a hand down his neck as he walked to his bike. “I fucked up.”

“Where’s Rey?” Finn’s voice went from warm to cold in a matter of seconds. 

“She’s ... she’s at Maz’s.” Poe took a shuddering breath and grabbed his helmet from the seat. “I really fucked up, and she doesn’t want to talk to me, but - but she shouldn’t be alone right now. Could you -”

“I’ll be right there.” Finn groaned and Poe heard him grab a set of keys. “Fucking hell, Dameron, what did you do?”

“I didn’t want to hurt her,” Poe closed his eyes and shook his head. Why did intention matter? He did hurt her. “I just - please make sure she gets home alright?”

“Yeah,” Finn snorted, “I am her best friend. Thanks, though.”

“Finn, I-” 

“See you, Dameron.” 

Finn hung up abruptly, and Poe tilted his head back, staring at the stars. His breath fogged in front of his eyes, a low-hanging cloud that covered him and blocked the heavens from view. Not that it mattered. Nothing up there would be answering him tonight.

He crammed his helmet on and drove home, passing Finn’s car three blocks over from Maz’s.

Poe got home ten minutes later, and Bea barked at him anxiously as he stomped through the apartment. He chucked his helmet into the closet and collapsed on the bed, his head in his hands as his thoughts whirled painfully; how, how could he have fucked that up so quickly? So totally? 

There were a thousand and one better things he could have said to eased into that subject and instead he just … 

“Ugh!” Poe kicked a pillow on the ground angrily and glared at his messenger bag in the corner. A thousand and one ways he could have said that better-

The unwrapped box he’d intended to give Rey was still on his desk, and it was the sight of that, plus the thought rolling around his head so many ways to say it better, that had him dragging his sorry ass to his feet and yanking out his notebook. He wrote, and wrote, and wrote, scraps of paper falling to the ground, ink staining his fingers, and probably his forehead for all the times he brought his hand to his face, thinking, and he didn’t stop until well after midnight.

It was only then, after he’d tucked the paper into an envelope, tucked it away, and wrapped the gift that he was able to get any rest at all, even if calling it rest was generous.


Rey barely remembered how Finn got her home that night; she’d slipped into that place far away from anything resembling feeling a few minutes after Poe left. She remembered Maz talking her down, slightly, remembered it not being quite enough, and remembered sitting in her bed with Finn holding her hand until midnight, the story slipping out in disjointed pieces here and there.

“I thought it was a date,” Rey said, her voice broken beyond recognition, around 11:30. 

“I know, Peanut.” Finn rested his head on her shoulder, and she leaned into him. “I know.”

Of course it wasn’t a date.

Why would someone like Poe Dameron ever want to take her on a date? A nobody. He felt bad for her. Of course he did. He was a good person, even if he’d hurt her- broken her heart like Ben Solo or Kylo Ren never could. Not his fault that she wasn’t -

Rey fell asleep somewhere in the middle of that train of thought, and woke up to her phone buzzing at seven a.m.

[Poe Dameron, 7:01 a.m] I know I fucked up. There isn’t anything I could do that could take back hurting you, and it doesn’t matter that I didn’t mean to because I did. I’m so sorry, Rey. 

She wiped a tear from her eye and considered through her phone across the room when it buzzed again.

[Poe Dameron, 7:01 a.m.] You can say no, and I know you don’t want to talk to me, but I have something for you. I got it before I fucked up, and I understand if the answer is no, but can I drop it off for you? 

Rey stared at the blank wall across from her, and then over at Finn, who’d curled up around a pillow some point last night, his neck crooked at an awkward angle. She snorted at the sight of him snoring - that would definitely cramp later - and then sighed, her fingers moving slower than normal as she responded.

When? 

His reply was immediate. [ I’m headed to the airport in the next hour. Maybe twenty minutes? ]

… Fine. 

She considered waking Finn up to let him know that she had to go face the guy who’d broken her heart so quickly - he knew, how long had he known, how long had he pitied her - she regretted not finding out before demanding he leave, but dear God, how much did he know? 

Rey shuddered and fought a wave of nausea as she stood shakily. She rinsed her mouth out and brushed her teeth, and gave up on her hair, which looked more or less fine thanks to Rose’s careful braiding yesterday. Her hair had looked so nice, Rey thought wistfully as she tugged on a new sweater and a pair of flip flops. Because she’d been stupid enough to think -

Somehow, almost twenty minutes had passed when she looked back at her phone, and Rey shuffled down the stairs with her ID and phone loose in her hand. The sun was barely up when she opened the door, and of course, Poe Dameron was already standing there, his bike parked up the road slightly. 

“Hi.” He looked as awful as Rey felt, and she felt slightly vindicated that he felt bad about springing that on her, when she thought it was a fucking date, when she thought he might actually - “This is for you.”

Poe held out a present wrapped neatly in pretty green paper, and she took it with a faint nod. 

“Um.” Poe rubbed his neck and stared at her, but Rey wasn’t in the mood to stare back. “For what it’s worth; I’m sorry.”

“Stop saying sorry,” Rey whispered, a horrible echo of their first study session. Neither of them laughed. 

“I’ve gotta-” Poe jabbed his thumb at Black One, and Rey nodded, walking back to the foyer, pausing on the top step to look back at him as he drove away because why not get a little more pain in.

Poe hadn’t moved. He was watching her sadly from the sidewalk, his keys in hand, and he offered her a tremulous smile she didn’t return before he nodded and walked to his bike; Rey flinched at the sound of it starting, and hurried inside, pretending she didn’t listen to the retreating sound of the engine as she climbed the stairs.

“Was’at?” Finn mumbled as she let herself back into her room.

“Nothing.” Rey weighed the package in her hands and tucked it into her duffel bag, figuring she’d worry about it later. “Go back to sleep.”

“Mmkay-” Finn rolled over and started snoring again.

Rey sank into her desk chair, staring at the small mirror she had hanging on the wall for a long, long time. 


Rey was home by Friday, and she tried not to cry when she saw Obi-Wan; but, she walked off the bus at the depot and into his arms, and immediately started sobbing into his soft, brown sweatshirt.

“Darling girl.” Obi kissed her head gently and wrapped his arms around her. “Oh, oh-”

“He-he-he-” Rey half-sobbed, and Obi-Wan hugged her tighter. 

“Did he contact you again?” Obi asked, all steel, and she remembered that he’d been a formidable soldier in his youth.

“N-n-” Rey shook her head, relieved that she hadn’t told him that Kylo had stalked her that semester because Obi had enough to worry about. “P-Poe-”

“The Dameron boy?” Obi’s voice was still sharp.

“It’s s-stupid.” Rey pulled away from the hug and wiped her face. “It’s just - I never t-thought I’d care that a boy d-didn’t like me-” 

“Oh, my. I know what we need.” Obi wrapped an arm around her shoulders and guided her towards his tiny, beat-up blue sedan. “Ice cream.”

“It’s twenty degrees out.” Rey half-laughed, and Obi hummed.

“All the same. I know a thing or two about heartbreak, and I find that Rocky Road can cure even the most wounded hearts.”

And while it didn’t make it all better - if only because Rey couldn’t figure out how to say the boy I’m pretty sure I might be falling in love with only was talking to me out of pity, and I thought we were on a date but it wasn’t, it was him trying to tell me he pitied me - she did feel a little happier than she had all week as she curled up on the couch with Artoo on her lap, half a quart into her Neapolitan, with Millennium Falcon blaring on the tv (even though she knew Obi hated that ‘hunk of junk’ movie).

The next morning, she couldn’t ignore the box in her duffel bag any longer; it was the biggest thing she’d brought home, after all, as she’d really only brought her laptop and a handful of sweaters. 

She unwrapped it slowly, carefully, unsure of what she would see, what marker of Poe’s pity for her-

Her hands stilled as she pulled back the carefully folded tissue paper.

It was a gorgeous, tan, leather jacket. Not the one Poe wore, but something more feminine. Rey pulled it out, running her hands over the smooth material, and flipped it over. Her breath caught, and her eyes filled with tears at the lining:

She’d never seen anything like it. Cream, silk fabric with the Millennium Falcon printed on it, over and over again. She’d never been given anything so beautiful; and, it was something she honestly needed. Rey’s head spun dizzily. 

Standing from the bed, she pulled the jacket on, and admired it in the mirror; it fit her perfectly, and she wondered if Poe had asked Jess or Rose for help with the sizing. Rey smoothed her hands down the sides of the jacket, and something crinkled in the right pocket. She tucked her hand in to investigate, and pulled out an envelope that bore handwriting that was painfully familiar, from months of staring at it in Linear Algebra.

Rey was the only word on the outside. Her fingers were shaking as she folded back the flap and sat on her bed; her knee bounced as the letter slipped out of the envelope, and even with her new, warm jacket, Rey shivered.

She unfolded the letter, smoothed it out, and began reading, her heart pounding in her chest.

Dear Rey,

There is no reason for you to keep reading. I know that. If you stop here, I understand. But please, please, please, consider reading this. 

I should start with the basic facts. Well. Fact. The one I should have started with before I opened my abnormally large mouth and ruined everything. The most basic fact of all: I’m in love with you.

I have been for a while now, and at this point it’s as easy as saying Ackbar’s tests are ridiculous, or coffee is a necessity, or the sky is blue. I love you. 

That’s probably inconvenient. I know it probably is. I’ve done nothing but demonstrate how bad I can fuck things up, after all. But, I needed to get it into the universe at least once, even if you torch this letter when you’re done reading it (even if it’s already burning, if you never got past the first line). I love you, Rey Kenobi, for every good and wonderful thing that you are. 

What I was trying to say tonight, what I messed up saying, was that I will love you in any way I can. If you told me to walk to the peak of Mount Everest and get some snow because you were thirsty, I would. If you told me to fly to the Betelgeuse and collect a handful of stardust for you, I would. If you needed me for anything, to help you, to make you laugh, to laugh at, I’d be that person. I’d do it because I want to be there for you. However you need me, or want me.

And maybe you don’t want me. Or need me. Maybe I’ve fucked it up beyond all comprehension and you don’t even want to be friends anymore. I’d respect that, if you told me to fuck off for the rest of time. I’d love you, but I’d do it quietly. I’d never bring it up again. But if there’s a chance, any chance in hell that you would let me love you, anywhere near you, that you would let me sit in front of you and say the words that I’ve been screaming inside my head practically since the first time you smiled at me, then fuck, I have to try.

I love you. And I understand the world has been cruel to you; I’d fight the entire world if I could, to stop it from hurting you ever again. But I hurt you, and that’s not acceptable. I’m so sorry, Rey. Forgive me, don’t forgive me, but please, please know, that I mean these words now than I meant them months ago:

You deserve to be loved. Full stop. I’ve been a lot of places, and I have met a lot of people, and I can say this with full confidence: more than anyone I’ve ever met, you deserve to be loved, every single part of you. And I do love you, every single part of you, even the parts I don’t know yet. Because if I ever have the honor of knowing them, they’ll be part of you, and god, Rey. God. I love you so much, with so much of myself, that I know I’ll never stop. And I'll wait for you, until you tell me not to. I'll wait for you if it's a matter of you feeling ready; I'll wait for you until you make up your mind; I'll wait for you in any conceivable way, even if I have to wait until the sun dies and everything we know turns to dust.

I’m sorry. I love you, and I’m miserable knowing that I hurt you, and I’m sorry. 

I hope you have a really, really great break. You deserve it, Kenobi.

With all my heart,

Poe Dameron

***

Rey read the entire letter, hands shaking more and more violently as she went; then, she read it again. She wiped her eyes, fingers tracing the words, wondering if this was some elaborate, cruel dream, but it wasn’t. 

It wasn’t a dream.

Something in her snapped, worse than it had at Maz’s, and Rey covered her mouth with her hand and cried, horrible, quiet sobs that she suppressed so Obi wouldn’t worry or ask questions because she didn’t think she’d have the words to answer him. 

Chapter Text


It was basically the worst Winter Break of all time.

Sure, it was technically Poe’s first Winter Break. It was his first year as a full-time student, after all, and his first year being away from home for this much time for anything that wasn’t a shoot, but Poe figured there’d be some kind of relief involved in Winter Break. He wasn’t in danger of failing any of his classes, all of his exams had gone well, but there was the looming, awful, horrible shadow of his absolute fuck-up.

Rey would have found the note by now, he reasoned on Tuesday night as he sat dolefully at the kitchen table. She would have torn it up or burnt it or thrown it out the window. 

But, the little tiny optimistic voice inside him said. But maybe she didn’t see it yet because she’s studying for her last final with L’Ampar. 

Yeah. Maybe. 

He ate his dinner with a bit more vigor than anticipated; Kes watched him curiously for a few minutes but then shrugged and dug into the chili as well. 

On Wednesday afternoon, he was cursing that stupid, tiny optimistic voice inside himself. Her exam was this morning. She would have called by now. Or texted. Or she’s read it and she’s deleted your number you clingy, desperate, son of a -

“Alright.” Kes banged the cabinet door shut, and Poe startled from where he was gazing out the window towards the pastures. “You’re coming with me, pal.”

“I’m coming where?” Poe caught a face full of flannel a second later.

“We gotta go check the herd, and I gotta get you out of my window. All your wistful sighing is fogging it up.”

“I am not-” Poe turned and frowned at the window, where, sure enough, a translucent patch of condensation was slowly fading away. “Uh.”

“Vamonos.”

They drove out to the furthest pasture on his dad’s Gator; the fields were drier than normal, and Poe frowned up at the cloudless sky. “When was the last time it rained?”

“Too long ago,” Kes grunted. “We’re doing okay, with the aquifer and all, but other farms aren’t so lucky.”

“Are you worried about the fires?” Poe squinted at the mountains in the distance, and Kes shrugged again.

“I could choose to spend my day worried about a lot of things, mijo, but then I wouldn’t get anything done.” 

They came to a stop near a clump of alpaca that had wandered almost to the corner of the property, and Poe was given a stick and instructions to shoo them back towards the main compound.

“But dad,” he half-whined, and Kes pointed a finger at him.

“Distraction will do you good.” Kes put a hand to his forehead and sighed dramatically, pretending to swoon, “Oh Rey, amor, mi corazón sólo late por ti.”

Poe threw his alpaca stick in his dad’s direction, but Kes dodged it, giggling madly. Poe scowled at him, and Kes waved a hand at him. “No, no, no heart-to-heart right now. Tell me inside, please, I have at least five things to do before sundown.”

“Ugh.” Poe wrinkled his nose and walked towards the unimpressed alpacas. Beatrice was nowhere to be found (the last he’d seen her, she was inside, stretched out in a patch of sun), so it was a mostly non-enjoyable task, shaking the stick at the alpacas and patting them on the sides until they more or less ambled towards the main house. 

It took over an hour to round most of the herd up, and Poe stomped inside and kicked his boots off, cross and anxious and sad; he checked his phone, and sure enough, no texts from Rey. His father walked in, just in time to see him checking his phone and tilting his head back.

“So,” Kes said conversationally, hanging up his hat, “what did you do?”

“What didn’t I do.” Poe looked at his dad balefully, and Kes sighed before grabbing two beers from the fridge. He jerked his head towards the western door, and they each took a chair out on the porch as the sun began to set over the mountains.

Kes let him think about it before he started talking; Poe didn’t feel rushed as he took a deep breath, didn’t feel rushed as he explained, in halting terms, the things that weren’t private to Rey and her experiences, what had happened, more of Kylo lurking on campus, and Rey being uncomfortable around him and there being a bad business between them, and Kylo fucking with Poe at the party two weeks ago.

His father hissed through his teeth at the end of the first part. “I like Han,” he said thoughtfully, “and I respect the hell out of Leia, but their son, that pendejo-”

“He’s the fucking worst.” Poe picked at the label on his beer bottle, but all he could think about was how Rey flinched if she was offered a drink. He set it down on the table next to his chair and wiped his mouth. “But...I fucked up too. I tried to … tried to talk to Rey about it, about me running into Kylo, and I phrased it the worst possible way, and I hurt her feelings.” He hung his head and groaned softly. “I took her to dinner to try and tell her that I … more or less knew that something happened between them … and she, um, I think she thought it was just a normal date, and-”

“Shit.” Kes shook his head wonderingly at Poe, his eyes wide. “That couldn’t have been good.”

“It was not.” Poe closed his eyes and snorted at the understatement. “She … responded as badly as you assume and I can’t blame her. I’m … an idiot.”

“No.” Kes rubbed his shoulder and smiled at him when Poe rolled his eyes. “No, you did something … not smart, but your heart was in the right place. It always is, starling. And Rey knows this, but she’s been hurt, as you’ve said, and hurt people need more time to process things than most, and they take things in differently. She needs to know you’re there for her, and you’ll find a way to show her that.”

“I wrote her a letter,” Poe mumbled, staring at the floorboards beneath his boots. “Told her I loved her.”

“Atta boy.” Kes clapped him on the shoulder and pulled back. “I wrote a bunch of letters to your mother when we were on different coasts; she loved ‘em! When are you gonna give it to your lady?”

“I already did.” Poe scrunched up his nose at the sympathetic noise Kes made. “No response.”

“Ah.” Kes was quiet for a few minutes and then patted his knee. “Well, love can really kick you in the teeth sometimes, mijo. Doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it.”

“I know.” Poe looked up and smiled at his dad sadly. “Trust me, I know.”


More radio silence for days and days. The days stretched into an eternity, and that eternity folded in on itself and saw the birth of a new universe, over and over and over again -

On the Saturday of Winter Break, Poe stumbled through his day with slightly more grace and good spirits than he had the last four days. Rey was probably done with him, he acknowledged, and if she didn’t want to see him ever again, he’d respect that; it didn’t mean he had to sulk and ruin his dad’s holidays too. 

(And if he cried in the shower every morning, well, that was his business and it wasn’t hurting anyone)

He expected nothing from her, after all; that was the whole point of the letter. Let her know how he felt, take a big (biiiig) step back, and let the chips fall. The chips had fallen, and if Rey didn’t want him to be running around shouting at the world that he loved her, well. He respected that completely.

Then, of course, after a long, long day working in the field and helping his dad around the house, Poe heard his phone buzz around ten p.m., as he was washing dishes. 

“Can you see who that is, papa?” He shouted over the water and the TV playing in the next room. He heard his dad roll off the armchair with a grunt, and Beatrice followed Kes into the kitchen, her nails clacking on the linoleum. 

Poe rinsed the serving dish they’d found in storage that morning and set it on the rack to dry before grabbing a glass from the bottom of the sudsy-water-filled sink and rubbing it thoroughly with the sponge.

“It’s a text,” Kes announced, with no shortage of glee in his voice. “...And you’ll never guess from who !”

“Jess?” Poe guessed. 

Snap and Karé were on some kind of a sex vacation (Karé’s words, and not Snap’s), and Finn hadn’t exactly spoken to him since the fiasco on Monday; Iolo and Yolo were at some kind of convention, and Connix was driving across Canada for some reason, so that meant it was most likely Jess, who Kes had always had a soft spot for.

“Not Jess!”

“Who?” Poe sighed and dropped the glass onto the drying rack, reaching for a plate at the bottom of the sink. He ran it under the water while glaring at his dad over his shoulder. “C’mon, just tell me.”

“It’s from Rey !” Kes declared giddily, and Poe dropped the plate in the sink. Suds flew up and smacked him in the face, got stuck in his hair, and splashed onto the floor. “Clean up on aisle Six!” Kes teased.

“Gimme that.” Poe wiped his wet hands on his flannel and jeans, not caring that the water was still running, or that suds were clinging to his forearms. 

“Nope.” Kes shook his head and held the phone close to his chest. “Clean up all your mess first.”

“Dad,” Poe growled, reaching his hand out for the phone. “Give me. That. Phone… Please.”

“Now he says please.” Kes sniffed and dodged the swipe of Poe’s arm. “Maybe you should bribe me.”

“Dad!” Poe half-bellowed. “Come on!”

“Fine, fine,” Kes sighed and handed him the phone; Poe scrambled to type in his password, cursing his decision to hide texts when the phone was locked. “You used to be fun.”

“Uh huh,” Poe muttered, clicking on his text messages. “I wasn’t ever fun-”

[Rey Kenobi, 9:58 p.m.] Are you up?

“Fuck,” Poe tugged on his hair anxiously. Yes, he typed immediately, his heart pounding. He hit send and swayed from foot to foot.

“Let me guess, I have to clean up Mount Splashmore.” Kes sighed and grabbed the mop from the kitchen closet. “Work, work, work-”

His phone buzzed with Rey’s next text. “Thanks Dad-” Poe jogged for the door. “Love you, dad-”

“I know you weren’t a normal teenager, but that doesn’t mean you get to live out your missing adolescence now!” Kes shouted after him, but Poe mostly ignored him, waving over his shoulder as he stumbled outside, into the cool night air, Beatrice running down the steps in front of him and out into the pasture.

[Rey Kenobi, 10:01 p.m.] Can we talk? 

Poe didn’t bother responding, just swiped to his contacts and hit the call button. Rey picked up, mercifully, before his sudden surge of nervousness could tell him to stop.

“Hi,” he said breathlessly, forgetting that Rey was probably supposed to talk first. Why does it matter who talks first? 

“Hi.”

“Hi,” Poe breathed again, before laughing at himself. “Guess I already said that part, huh.”

“I guess so.” Rey sounded sad, and Poe rubbed his neck, praying for some kind of meteor to come out of the sky with the right thing to say next. “I don’t … quite know what to say.”

“Me either,” Poe laughed incredulously. “And that’s - that’s okay! You don’t have to say anything, um, unless there was something you needed, then, then, Uh, I’ll -” He winced and bit back his question of did you get the letter? Did you read it? Do you hate me? Could you ever love me back? 

“I called because…” 

Because your letter was disgusting. Because I loved it. Because I want to run away with you. Because I want to run away from you.

  “... I missed your voice,” she whispered, half-laughing at herself at the end, and Poe was thunderstruck. Nothing he could have conjured as a prediction could have hit him as hard as that shy admission.

“Well, I’m happy to talk.” He spun in a circle and smiled at the tree that was growing outside the main house. What a great tree. Wow, what a good tree. “I’m looking at the tree I fell out of when I was six,” Poe reported. “It’s awesome, but somehow, it looks a lot smaller than it did when I was a kid.” 

“Of course you climbed trees.” He didn’t know what to make of that statement. “I bet you had a treehouse.”

“Uh.” Poe laughed and glanced at the remnants of Fort Dameron up in the arms of the oak. “...Guilty.”

“Tell me about it?”

So he did. He told her about Fort Dameron, about the time he broke a branch and tried to bandage it back together because his mom had planted that tree, and she loved it. His throat tightened when he talked about how his mom used to sit in the shade of it when she came back from treatments. How happy it made her to watch him climb that stupid, fucking tree, how he’d conflated that in his mind to make the tree awesome, and perfect, and almost magical, because Shara Bey would watch him climb that tree for hours, and laugh like nothing was hurting her.

He was old enough now, of course, to know that it wasn’t the tree that made her smile.

Poe paused in his story and wiped his eyes, and Rey spoke for the first time in almost a quarter of an hour.

“She sounds like a wonderful mother.” She sounded half-heartbroken, and Poe nodded, wondering if he’d ended this phone call before it’d really began with his stores of grief that he kept buried so far below his smiles and charm he often forgot about it himself. “And … and that makes sense because ... “

“Because?” Poe prompted when she didn’t finish, but Rey changed the subject instead. 

“Can you see the stars?” Rey whispered. “It’s been raining for three days here.”

“Ohio, right?” Poe smirked at her soft grumble. “Ohio isn’t that bad.”

“It’s Ohio, ” Rey muttered.

“But yeah,” Poe tilted his head back. “I can see the stars. They’re … they’re really beautiful out here. You can kinda see LA in the distance, we’re less than two hours away from the city. So there’s this glow out that way, like it’s trying to push up on the sky. But the stars.” He shook his head and stared at the constellations that had captured his imagination as a child listening to his mother’s stories. “Wow.”

“I wonder how different they are from here.” 

“You’ll have to come see for yourself one day.” Poe swallowed because that was an intense thing to offer, but Rey only hummed noncommittally.  

“My mom used to tell me all the stories about the constellations.” He looked up and even though Rey couldn’t see him, trailed his finger through the air until he found it. “Like Cassiopeia.”

“Cassiopeia?”

“Cassiopeia,” Poe grinned. He talked about the constellations and his favorite stories for a few minutes, but then at the end, realized Rey had gotten quiet again.

“Rey?” Poe wasn’t sure if she was even there anymore, except: no, there it was. Her soft, measured breathing. He closed his eyes and held onto the noise like a lifeline, his chest aching with how badly he wanted to be with her at that moment.

“Can you… can you keep talking?” Rey asked, and he knew if she asked him for anything he’d say yes. God, he was so screwed.

“So, Beatrice,” he began again, hearing his dog bark out in the pasture. “She’s convinced that the alpaca are her family. She’ll chase them for hours if you let her…” He kept talking about Bea running around the fluffy, white creatures, howling with joy when they followed her (usually only accidental, as they definitely had minds of their own). He must have talked for at least twenty minutes, his voice getting hoarse at times; his throat started to hurt, so he wandered inside and grabbed a glass for water, Beatrice running in from the fields when he swung the screen door open.

“And the water here tastes different,” he muttered, filling the glass up at the filtered tap. “Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.”

Kes was standing in the doorway when he turned around, holding a pair of socks from the laundry. His dad pointed at the phone and mouthed, Rey? Poe nodded, and Kes clapped and pumped his fist. Poe rolled his eyes and shouldered past his dad, who ruffled his hair and hooted quietly. “And that was my dad,” Poe shot Kes a dirty look as he stomped towards the stairs, “Being weird.”

“Damn right!” Kes shouted, and Poe considered flicking him off - his dad was a killer shot though, and would probably bean him in the head with the socks. Jackass.

“Poe?” Rey whispered his name quietly as he closed his bedroom door, leaving it open just enough that Bea could nose it open in the night if she wanted to. 

His heart pounded at the sound of her voice. “Yeah?”

“I…” She didn’t say anything for a few seconds, and Poe sank onto his bed, threading his fingers through his hair anxiously. Then: “Did you … mean it?”

“Did I-” Poe frowned, wondering if she meant his dad being weird, but it hit him a second later. “Yeah, Sunshine.” He licked his bottom lip and wished that he could do anything with his voice to make her believe him. “I meant it.”

“Oh.” Rey was silent, and Poe writhed on his bed, praying for her to yell at him, or tell him to fuck off, or anything, anything would be better than waiting but- “I’m not sure … why you do.”

“I’ll find a way to show you,” Poe promised softly. “If you want me to. I’ll show you how much I mean it because … because saying it is one thing, but I want you to believe it.” He closed his eyes and dropped back onto his pillows, pressing his phone to his ear so hard it almost hurt, but unwilling to miss even a hitch in her breath. “But for right now, please just… trust me, Sunshine. I meant it.”

Rey was silent, and then she laughed quietly; Poe felt like he’d missed a step going downstairs at the sound of it. It sounded like light. It sounded like free fall. “I was nodding,” she almost giggled, but the sound was mostly air, but fuck he’d take it, “You can’t see me... shit. Um. I’d … I’d like that. I think.”

“Yeah?” 

Hope was painful, Poe was coming to find, but not too painful that he wasn’t going to grab onto it with both hands.

“Yeah. I’d … I’d want you to...to show me, I think.” Rey let out a tense breath, and Poe mirrored it. ”Maybe? It sounds...nice.”

“We can try it?” Poe asked, hoping he didn’t sound as pathetic as he thought he did, his voice cracked and bruised. “We can try … me showing you. And if you decide you don’t want to try it, that it’s not actually that nice to … to try, we’ll… no, I’ll leave you alone.”

“I don’t think I want that,” Rey whispered. “No. I know I don’t.”

“Okay.” Poe, weirdly enough, felt like crying. His heart but didn’t, his stomach hurt but didn’t. “Be careful Kenobi, or you won’t be able to get rid of me.”

“Like a bad smell,” Rey whispered, and then giggled at his answering snort. 

“My feet don’t smell that bad,” Poe muttered, “and the reports of halitosis have been greatly exaggerated.”

Rey giggled again, a heavenly noise that filled the empty space where she should be, that strange non-space beyond the phone. And then she yawned, soft and sweet, but undeniable.

“You tired, Sunshine?”

He checked the time as she hummed, “Mhm.”

“No wonder. It’s two a.m. where you are. If you need to get to sleep-”

“Can’t sleep,” Rey whispered. “It’s - it’s hard to go to sleep.”

“It is?” Poe swallowed painfully, sympathy for her predicament; insomnia was something he knew well from times in his acting career, with high stress and high demands and difficult roles.

“Yeah.” Rey yawned again. “Don’t...don’t like dreaming.”

“Nightmares?” Poe guessed, tilting his head back on the pillows to look out the window, up at the stars. 

“Nightmares.” Rey confirmed quietly. “Don’t have many good dreams anymore.”

“I’m sorry, Sunshine,” Poe said, hoping that his honesty leaked through.

“What do you dream about?” Her voice was quieter now, as if she were getting closer to sleep, and Poe smiled as he thought about how to answer.

“My mom,” he answered truthfully, even if it hurt to be truthful. “I dream that I’m a little kid sometimes, and she’s in her plane, and I’m in her lap, and we fly in circles, and everything is...golden.” 

He woke up crying from that dream more often than not. He’d also never told another living soul about it; his dad would be the only other person he’d want to tell, and Poe had a feeling it might hurt his dad more than it would help. He knew Kes still dreamed about Shara; he said her name sometimes when he was dozing on the couch.

He wiped a tear from his eye in time to hear Rey’s response.

“That sounds nice,” Rey murmured, and Poe smiled, rolling onto his side, almost curled around his phone now.

“Yeah, those are nice dreams. Other dreams, not so nice. Like, when I’m stressed, I dream that I’m on set.”

“And you forget your lines?” Rey teased, and Poe marveled at it, her sleepy-teasing voice. As a masochist, he was inclined to close his eyes and imagine she was there with him, for whatever reason, lying in his bed, their feet tangled together while they talked about dreams.

“Nah.” Poe snorted. “Nah, I dream the set is on fire, and I keep telling people … and no one gives a shit.”

“Stressful,” Rey whispered.

“Stressful,” Poe confirmed. “My producer Amilyn is usually in that one. Like, the set’s burning right behind her, and I’m pointing at it, and she’s like you’re not hitting your marks, Dameron, and I’m like, there aren’t gonna be any marks at all in a few minutes!”

“Flying, and fires,” Rey hummed. “What else do you dream about, Dameron?”

“You,” he said quietly, and Rey was silent again. He closed his eyes and snorted, frustrated with himself. “Fuck, sorry, but - I mean, I dream that - it’s stupid, but it isn’t creepy.”

“Oh?”

“I dreamt the other night that you, uh, you were holding my hand.” Poe shook his head and told himself he was imagining the feeling of Rey pulling away, that he wasn’t ruining this tentative whatever-it-was with his rambling. “I was so happy, Sunshine, holding your hand.”

“Sometimes,” Rey yawned softly, “sometimes I dream about kissing you.”

Poe sat upright, sliding his legs underneath him, and rubbed his neck. “Yeah?” His voice was strangely weak. 

“Mhm.” Rey sighed. “I dunno. Only sometimes. Those are good dreams, though.”

She was exhausted, Poe realized, and therefore he shouldn’t push this very interesting train of thought. 

“They sound good,” he said instead, “you need more good dreams.”

“Yeah.” Rey was quieter now, and Poe realized she was definitely falling asleep.

“Do you need me to go?”

“No.” He could envision Rey lying in bed, blankets to her chin, eyes closed and cheeks flushed. “No, I like your voice.”

Thank God for that - “Okay.” He lay back down, more carefully than normal so he didn’t make extra noise on the line. “So … so I have this script.” He grabbed the pages Snap had sent him. “Some romance they want me to read for.”

“Kirnandez?” 

Poe blinked. That was not a portmanteau he imagined Rey would know. “Uhhh- no. No, a different project.”

“Mmm.”

He smiled and flipped the page open. “Should I read you my lines? I’m supposed to be the romantic lead, or something.”

“Is he cute?”

“The cutest,” Poe confirmed, grinning at the character description. “ Juan, late twenties, early thirties. Smuggler by trade with a heart of gold… ” He snorted. “Says here my best friend is a hairy alien.”

“Oh?”

“Yep. We travel the galaxy, goddamnit I told Snap no more sci-fi this year, and oh, yep, there it is, they want me to rescue a princess.”

“A princess?”

“Not an ordinary princess. She doesn’t need saving, apparently.”

“I like that,” Rey mumbled, and Poe grinned.

“Yeah, I think you two have a lot in common. Young, brilliant, tough as nails- and Juan falls in love with her on page sixteen, if I’m reading this interaction right-”

There was a light tumble of breath on the other side, and Poe paused for a moment; a few seconds later, he heard it again. 

Rey was sleeping.

The aching behind his chest got even more powerful, and Poe’s thumb rubbed absentmindedly on the back of his phone, as if that would reduce the thousands of miles between them somehow. “Goodnight, Sunshine,” he whispered, and he let himself stay on the line for another fifteen minutes as he flipped through the script, in case she woke up and wondered where he’d went -

And then he fell asleep himself with Rey’s steady breathing lulling him without him realizing it. 

They were both slightly embarrassed the next morning, but somehow, somehow, Poe managed to secure another call from Rey the next night, and the night after that.

So maybe it wasn’t the worst Winter Break of all time.

Chapter Text


Red.

Everything was red. Then, darkness.

A dark room. Unfamiliar.

She’d never seen the room before, it wouldn’t stop spinning -

He was there. 

“You know I can take whatever I-

Rey woke up, half-choking on a scream, and sat in bed for a long time, her face in her hands as she tried to calm her breathing. Why did she have to see his fucking face in every nightmare? She shuddered at the memory of his cold eyes- she’d thought of him as a friend once, had trusted him- and swallowed some lingering bile in her throat. 

The clock next to her twin bed let her know that it was just after four in the morning; she’d fallen asleep around midnight, after tossing and turning for hours.

It was just after New Year’s, and while there were some things already good about this year (Poe had called her, at 12:01 her time, to shyly wish her a Happy New Year, and when he’d asked her how 2020 looked, she couldn’t help the wistful bubble of hope in her chest, the one that made her wish that he was next to her, that he could hold her hand and see it himself), Rey would have rather have left her nightmares far behind her in 2019.

When her hands wouldn’t stop shaking, she forced herself to get out of bed, wincing at the cold floor under her bare feet, and made her way down the stairs as quietly as possible. Obi’s snores were a pleasant rumble from the room at the other end of the house, and she knew the kitchen well enough that she didn’t have to turn on a light to get a glass and fill it up at the tap.

She turned around, resting her back against the counter, and drank slowly; her eyes caught on a shadow at the table. Her heart pounded, realizing that it wasn’t a misshapen sweater on a chair, or Artoo casting strange shadows. There was someone there. Rey opened her mouth to scream, but when she turned her head to the side, she saw a very familiar pair of slippers.

“Goddamnit, Luke.” Rey groaned and flipped the light on. “Why are you sitting in the dark?”

“Couldn’t sleep.” Luke looked over his shoulder and smiled at her. “Bodhi and I got in an hour ago. He’s passed out in the living room.”

“Ah.” Rey shook her head and when Luke kicked out the chair next to him, she slumped over to sit down. She rested her head on her hand and took another sip of water, willing her heart to stop beating so quickly.

“I didn’t scare you, right, kid?”

Rey shook her head before remembering Luke’s bizarre honesty policy. “A little,” she admitted. “Not too badly though. I saw your slippers.”

“Good eye,” Luke praised her quietly, and Rey smiled at him before staring down at the table. “You look like shit.”

“Jeez, thanks.” Rey rolled her eyes and ran her fingers along the cracks in the fake wood. “I didn’t make fun of the grizzly man look.”

“Bodhi digs the beard, thank you very much. And I didn’t mean to cause offense. Why the looking like shit?”

“Nightmare.” 

Luke grunted in understanding. 

He’d been her legal protection last spring, taking on the case pro bono when the school turned on her and tried to kick her out, when Kylo’s vulture producer/groomer/whatever had tried to destroy her, when they tried to publish her name and sue her for slander. 

He was also Obi Wan’s dearest living friend, and had been the first person to make her smile when Obi brought her to the States ten years ago. Not to mention, he’d been willing to take Rey’s side against his nephew, which she still couldn’t wrap her head around. Sure, she was the one telling the truth, the one whose life had actually been fucked up, despite Kylo’s legal team’s best efforts to convince people otherwise, but it couldn’t be easy to take sides against one’s own family.

Rey’s mind slipped that way for a minute or two, and her mind often slipped in the last year; but, Luke seemed to understand. He was the only person she knew who didn’t talk when she slipped into her thoughts. He just waited patiently, using some latent talent or people skill to know when she was back.

Sure enough, she looked back up at him, and he was looking out the window, Artoo now purring in his lap. “Luke?”

“Yeah?” Even though his face was lined now, and half-hidden by a thick beard, his eyes were still the bluest she’d ever seen. Sharp, intelligent, but also kind. Very kind.

“Why … why did you believe me?”

His eyes softened, and she swore she saw something glimmer in them before he blinked. “Because,” he said gruffly, “people don’t make up stories like that. And I know … knew my nephew. I know what he’s capable of.”

She nodded, staring at her hands, clasped on the table to stop them from shaking; it was why she didn’t see Luke reach out slowly to cover her hands with his large, calloused flesh one. His skin was paper-dry but warm.

“And I believed in you , kid.” Luke squeezed her hands gently. “Anyone decent would.” 

Rey realized she was crying, but he didn’t call her on it. They sat in silence for a few more minutes, Luke still covering her hands protectively, until Rey sniffed and nodded; he pulled away and smiled at her kindly when she looked up.

“I hear you’ve been making friends?”

“Yeah.” Rey offered him a watery smile in return and then wiped her nose on the sleeve of her sleep-shirt. “A few good friends. I think you’d really like Finn.”

“Finn. Hmm.” Luke rubbed his beard with his prosthetic. “Finn. Now why is that name familiar?”

“Finn...Calrissian?”

“Ah ha!” Luke slapped his leg and hooted before shooting a look over his shoulder guiltily, to where Bodhi and Obi were sleeping. “Is he a scoundrel like his grandfather?”

“No, Finn’s very good people. He’s helped me a lot this year.”

“Then I guess the apple fell as far from the tree as possible.” Luke cracked a wry grin. “I’m kidding, of course. Lando talks a big game, and likes to get in trouble, but he was kind to me at a very dark time in my life when not many other people would have been kind. I’m not surprised that his grandson inherited that trait, at least. Just … don’t let him play you in cards.”

“I have played him in cards, and I kicked his ass, every time,” Rey reported primly.

“Atta girl. Shouldn’t be surprised though; your uncle once convinced a dealer that he had a royal flush, but that ten was actually a spade,” he whispered almost conspiratorially, and Rey giggled. Probably Luke’s intent. “So, Finn. Is there anyone else good at that school?”

“Finn’s girlfriend Rose is amazing. She’s a computer programmer, but I swear she can hack anything.”

“Maybe my firm will hire her! We’re always looking for new rebels.”

“She’d love that.” Rey brought her feet up onto the chair and wrapped her arms around her knees. “And I’ve reconnected with my roommate...from last year-” Luke tilted his head and smiled in a worried way, and Rey rushed into the last part, “and I’ve also been hanging out with a guy-from-my-Linear-Algebra-classPoeDameron.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa.” Luke held a hand up and Rey rested her chin on her knees. “Poe who now?”

“Poe Dameron,” she mumbled.

“Poe Dameron?” Luke beamed at the name. “God, I love Kes - we go way back! And that Shara Bey, wow. No one like her in the galaxy.”

“She sounds lovely,” Rey whispered, shocked that Luke seemed to know the family so well.

“We planted this tree on their farm when we were kids. Just a little older than you, probably about Poe’s age.” Luke sighed and tilted his chair back, looking dreamy and far away. “After this ridiculous road trip. We musta clocked two thousand miles on that car. Used to call it the A because when Kes was driving, he had to eat granola to stay awake, and he’d fart so it would smell like ass--”

“Got it.” Rey wrinkled her nose. “Really. Got it.”

“But he’s a famous actor now.” Luke propped his chin on his hand and squinted at Rey. “Didn’t realize he was at school full-time.”

“Yep.” Rey couldn’t ignore how the tips of her ears were burning, and with Luke’s keen senses, he’d probably noticed. “And he was in my Linear Algebra class, so we studied together.”

“Mhm.” Luke fiddled with the strings of his sweatshirt. “Right.”

“We’re friends,” Rey said defensively, not sure why she was so worked up about this, if Luke hadn’t really even said anything, “Just friends.”

“Okay.” Luke shrugged amiably and grabbed his reusable water bottle from where it was resting on the floor. The action dislodged Artoo slightly, and he rolled off Luke’s lap with a hissed protest that could have been a curse. “So you’re just friends. It doesn’t matter either way, kid.”

“It doesn’t.” Rey crossed her arms and scowled at him.

“It doesn’t matter … as long as he’s good to you.” Luke took a long sip of water and set the bottle back down. “That’s what I was going to say. Be friends with the little Dameron, be more than friends, but if he’s being good to you, keep him in your life. Life’s shit enough, and we don’t often get enough people who are good to us. So if he’s good to you, don’t worry about anything else. And don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.”

Rey said nothing; she was blushing too hard (and, secretly wishing that Poe was here, but that wasn’t anything new, not even at 4:30 in the morning on a random Tuesday). 

“At least he’s cute.” She did splutter at that. “What? I’m old but I’m not dead.”

“Luke,” she laughed and threw a napkin from the table at him. “Gross.”

“And don’t get me wrong, he was a weird fucking kid. Obsessed with musicals.”

Rey giggled and clapped a hand to her mouth.

“Ever seen a fifteen-year-old kid perform the entirety of Les Miserables? And I mean the entirety. He played every role.” Luke rolled his eyes. “His Cosette was delicate enough, and his death scene as Enjorlas was absolutely stirring; but, I maintain his Javert left a lot to be desired.”

Her sides were aching from laughter as she tilted to the side, imagining a young, pink-cheeked Poe acting out a three hour musical by himself.

“God.” Luke closed his eyes and shook his head. “When he discovered Cats in the fifth grade … Bodhi pretended to break his foot so we “couldn’t” go over and visited when we were in town.”

“Like you yourself were not obsessed with … what was it … Pirates of Penzance?”

“Obi!” Rey almost jumped out of her skin when her uncle appeared in the doorway. “Oh, were we too loud?”

“No, no, my dove, I woke to use the restroom, and heard some familiar, well-loved voices.” He wandered in and stood behind her long enough to drop a kiss in her hair. Then, he walked over to Artoo’s food bowl and sprinkled some sort of treat into it from his pocket. Artoo came screeching out of the darkness, hooting and chirping in delight.

“I have no memory of that,” Luke said sternly.

“No, I quite remember…” Obi rubbed his beard and pretended to think; he winked at Rey over Luke’s head. “...I recall… some sort of festive hat, and a very passionate rendition of…”

“No memory,” Luke insisted.

“-Ah, yes, it was the HMS Pinafore, not Pirates, how silly of me-

“- Obi Wan Kenobi-

I’m called little Buttercup. ” Obi kicked at Luke’s chair playfully and waggled his eyebrows before continuing to sing badly. “ Dear, little buttercup. .. though I could … hmm.. What was it? Though I could…”

Luke scowled at ceiling, gritting his teeth before half-singing: “ Though I could never tell why.

Obi hooted in victory and lifted Artoo from where he was munching away at his treats; the cat growl-grumbled but otherwise kept chewing, and Luke buried his face in his hands as Obi waltzed out the kitchen with the cat held aloft.

“Your uncle is a monster,” Luke said with as much dignity as he could, but then he laughed, a rough, coughing sound that he hid in his fist.

“The worst,” Rey agreed, her cheeks absolutely aching from laughing.


Rey would never admit it, but the days at the end of her Winter Break couldn’t go quickly enough; not only was she excited to get back to campus and her small, wonderful group of friends (and she had friends, plural friends, who actively saw her every day and didn’t treat her existence like a bother), but she was also excited for her classes.

And, of course, she would be remiss if she didn’t admit she was excited for the end of Winter Break because it meant she might see Poe Dameron. He was going to arrive late to campus, almost a full two weeks after everyone else, and his busy schedule meant he couldn’t usually call her at night anymore, nor send many texts. Rey had grown used to hearing his voice with frequency, and she had to admit, she slept better when Poe was the last person she talked to before falling asleep (or even falling asleep mid-conversation, which was the norm in their phone calls). But, the return to campus signaled Poe’s approach, and Rey could no longer ignore the growing tangle of feelings in her stomach whenever she thought about him or talked to him.

It came to a head one afternoon, the day before she was set to head back to Takodana. Obi was outside, working on the car with Luke, and she was watching an interview on television. Not just any interview - an interview with Poe Dameron. He was wearing a sweater she’d never seen before (cream-colored, under a jacket that wasn’t his normal one, but fit him in a way that was clearly purposeful), and his ring was on full-display.

So, I just watched a clip, and I gotta say...wow - the chemistry for you two is unbelievable. How did that happen?”

Poe laughed and shifted in his chair, shooting a look at his co-star, who smiled at him. Rey wasn’t sure what she thought of Zorri Bliss, only that she was very pretty, and she was very glad they sat so far apart in their interviews. 

Well, I don’t know how much of the scene they showed you-” Poe huffed awkwardly and glanced at Zorri.

Enough to see you two kiss! Wow!”

“Yeah, well, we, uh, we have an … interesting dynamic to say the least.” Poe shrugged and Zorri grinned enigmatically. Rey’s chest tightened

When had they filmed the kiss, she wondered, and then kicked herself. No, that’s his fucking job, it doesn’t have to mean anything -

I think it was because we had a lot of trust in each other during those scenes,” Zorri added, and Poe looked relieved. “Especially because this one would ask, every single take, if I was still comfortable. Like, we’d kiss once, the director would want it a different way, and he’d be like - ‘oh, how are my hands’,” she held her hands up awkwardly as she dropped her voice in a bad-Poe impersonation, “‘ No, wait, was that too much tongue?’ And, for the record, it might look like too much tongue, but it was just exactly the right amount of tongue-”

“Oh, Jeez.” Poe flinched and tilted his head in embarrassment, and the interviewer and Zorri both laughed. 

Rey dealt with the snarling green-eyed beast that had roared to life inside her. Just a job. Just a job. Just a -

I mean, it was like, ‘damn, I gotta kiss this good-looking man, yeah, no, that’s the worst.’” Zorri smirked and then the interviewer pointed at Poe’s chest.

So that’s not a real wedding ring?”

“Uh.” Poe grabbed the necklace and rubbed his thumb on the chain absentmindedly. “It is. Just. It’s… it was my mother’s.”

“Ah.” The interviewer nodded and didn’t seem to know what to ask next for a second. “ So you two aren’t in love?”

Zorri Bliss rolled her eyes, painfully, and Poe stared off-camera, as though looking for someone to come help him. 

“I think my wife would have an issue with that,” Zorri dead-panned, “ And besides, this one’s totally spoken for-”

“- Oh?” The interviewer leaned forward and stared at Poe, who was clearly trying to tell Zorri to stop talking with his eyes. 

Rey leaned forward as well without realizing it.  

You do have a girlfriend then? Because there’s been a lot of speculation-”

“Could we…” Poe coughed and eyed the camera warily. “I’m sorry, but I think we should talk about the movie-”

“Well, if you were in love, how would that affect your reading of the character in the movie?” Rey didn’t have to see the interviewer’s face to know how smug his expression was. She half-wanted to punch the guy, half-wanted to tell him to keep going. “How would that change your playing of Santiago, if you knew what it meant to be in love?”

“Really?” Poe shot someone a look off-camera before sighing and looking back at the interviewer, clearly annoyed; it might not seem like that to most people watching, but Rey saw the way his leg bounced, how his hand went to his bad knee, how the tic in his jaw worked slowly -

When had she gotten so good at reading his body language?

Well, if I were … to pull from … real life experience…” Poe coughed and made a face that was almost apologetic. “I’d think about all the … loyalty you have to feel and show to the person you’re in love with. Santiago’s trapped in an impossible situation, and the only thing driving him for the first quarter of the movie is his love for Fernando, who, as you see in the trailer, doesn’t exactly have a happy ending. And then he’s … he’s pushed and pulled by a lot of things, and there’s Sarah, who he might have feelings for, and also another few characters who pop up along the way, but honestly...I think after Fernando dies, that’s kinda game over for him, in terms of real love. Like, that was the real deal, and that’s how I tried to play it.”

Zorri was nodding thoughtfully, and the interviewer didn’t say anything; Poe kept talking, quieter this time, oddly intense.

I’ve seen it in my own family, and … and I know for sure now; if you have that kind of love, and you lose it, there’s no coming back from it. That’s the person you’ve devoted yourself to, your entire soul to. The person you’d do anything for. Who you’d walk into fire for. You look at this person, and you think, I’ve never even seen light before them, and you meet them, and it’s like walking out of a dark cave for the first time in your life. And then, what, one day they’re gone? And you just move on?” He shook his head and cleared his throat. “I don’t think so.

Rey’s phone was in her hand before she could think about it; she had to convince herself not to call him, but her heart was in her throat. She wanted to cry, but for what reason she didn’t know; she paced in the living room for four minutes before she calmed down enough to drop her phone, and it was then, staring out the window at the plains of grass outside, that she realized something, something massive, something that must have been screaming in her face for weeks now.

Oh. 

It was January 11, and she wouldn’t see Poe for two more weeks. 

Why did she have to pick this moment to realize that she was in love with him?


The damn car couldn’t drive fast enough. 

Poe was exhausted, into his bones. Beatrice could pick up on his stress and tiredness from the seat next to him; she picked her head off her paws and whined softly, and Poe shushed her, smiling at the driver in the rearview mirror. He tapped his fingers against his leg and stared out the window at the green forest streaking past.

His flight had been delayed. Of-fucking-course. It had been almost six weeks since he’d been on campus, six weeks since he’d seen Rey, and his flight got delayed. Great.

All the interviews, the awkward photo shoots, the tense discussions with Amilyn that left his shoulders increasingly tight and pained, all because he assumed he’d be back on campus bright and early on Saturday, the 25th.

And, his flight had been fucking delayed. Yep, that was about right.

So, now it was mid-afternoon, and the sun was already drooping in the sky; Poe was exhausted, and anxious, and frustrated, and all he had from Rey that day in his messages was a sad little, Oh, okay, from when he’d texted her that he’d be in later than expected.

They were supposed to get brunch. He could kick himself, and the entire goddamn airline, because they were supposed to get brunch together, and talk about things, and he was supposed to start showing her how much he meant everything. But he wasn’t able to take her on a date, a real date, a proper date that didn’t end with her crying, alone, from his stupidity, and the universe had conspired against them, and maybe she wouldn’t be available for brunch tomorrow, and-

Poe tilted his head back and let out a tense breath. He closed his eyes and tried to calm down, but all he could think about was Rey - on some level, he felt bad because all his excitement had been shunted towards seeing her, and not his group of friends (who he would, of course, be delighted to see) but at the same time, he didn’t exactly make any of his friends cry painfully before break through his big mouth and bad choices, so there was less of an urgency to seeing them. He also wasn’t in love with any of them, so. That too.

He was so distracted by his thoughts that he didn’t even notice the car turning down the road he lived on. The car came to a stop, and the driver muttered, “isn’t she cold?” and Poe blinked and turned his head to look out the window.

Rey Kenobi was outside his apartment.

“Uh.” Poe blinked a few more times, and Bea sat up with him, snuffling at the door. “Oh, fuck.” He fumbled with the door, but it was locked, “Shit-”

“Here, pal.” The driver flicked the lock mechanism, and Poe nearly fell out of the car trying to get the damn door open.

“Thanks,” Poe said breathlessly, grabbing his luggage and tossing it onto the street blindly behind him. “Really, thanks so much-”

“I’m guessing that’s your girlfriend?” The driver smirked at him, and all Poe could muster in response was a flustered merghhh , a sound he hadn’t made before in his life and probably would never make again. It got a startled laugh out of the driver, and then Poe slammed the door shut, aware that he’d probably tip the guy twice the amount of the fee for the drive to make up for how weird he was just then.

The car pulled away, and Beatrice yipped excitedly to see Rey; Poe grabbed her leash and swinging the duffel onto his shoulder and pulling the handle of his larger luggage as he walked up the path towards Rey.

She was even prettier than he remembered; maybe it was because she looked like she’d gotten a decent night’s sleep, or because she was wearing the jacket he’d given her, but he was definitely sure it was because she was smiling. A private, shy smile that didn’t go away as he walked up to her.

“Hi,” he breathed, eyes wide enough that he could feel it. “Um- hi.”

“I hope it’s okay that I showed up, unannounced.” Rey held her hands out before tucking them into her pockets. “I just … I saw your interview. All of them, I guess, but the...the one you gave two weeks ago.”

“They don’t air the day they’re filmed,” Poe said automatically, his mind racing as he tried to comprehend Rey being here, or her talking about his interviews (and which interview was it? ). 

“Oh. Right, of course.” Rey nodded, looking embarrassed for some reason, and Poe floundered. 

“But - but that’s fine, that’s - how long have you been waiting?” 

“A while.” Rey laughed and then made a face. Poe set his luggage aside, but didn’t drop his duffel, and Beatrice sniffed a blade of grace with most likely feigned interest. “I mean. Not long, in terms of waiting outside, only fifteen minutes or so. Thought you might be back, but then I buzzed to the apartment and you didn’t answer, so-” She tucked her hair behind her ear and stopped talking, and Poe realized she was rambling.

Why was Rey Kenobi waiting for him outside his apartment, rambling?

“I don’t like waiting,” she said quickly.

“I’m sorry,” Poe said automatically, and Rey laughed softly.

“No- no, don’t be, I mean - I don’t like waiting. Hate it, really, and I spent half my life waiting for my family before Obi found me, and it… it almost broke me the first time. So I hate it. Waiting, that is. And…” She looked at him, her hazel eyes wide and freckles standing out in perfect relief on her cheeks. “And I don’t want to make you wait.”

Poe nodded, assuming she was going to tell him to fuck off, or that she wasn’t ready, and his stomach sank even as he steeled himself to accept whatever she asked of him. Because he’d told her in that letter he’d wait as long as she wanted him to, and while their conversations at the beginning of break had made him hope otherwise, if she decided she couldn’t handle a relationship, or a relationship with him, well, he’d respect it. 

“And I shouldn’t make you wait because…well, it’s sort of like what Kira said to the commander, right?”

“Uh?” Poe blinked, shaken from his nervousness by her random non-sequitur. “Is it?”

“Yes! Like, in season two, she… she said that … that all people need are the ones who help us find the Light, and even … even if we can’t see it for ourselves, the people we need the most, they’re the ones who bring us out of the Darkness, even when we’re so lost we don’t even know we’re in the Dark.”

“Right.” Poe nodded, remembering the line. Nat had delivered it well. 

“And … and you were talking about light in your interview, and it got me thinking about that quote, and about … about everything else, and how you … you always make me feel...Light.” Rey gestured at herself vaguely, very much rambling, and very much nervous, and she dragged her hand through her hair, knocking half of it out of her loose ponytail. 

She twisted her hands together and took a deep breath. “I’m not doing this right, but what I’m trying to say is … you’re Light, and … and I’m not so far in the dark that I can’t see that, or appreciate you for how wonderful you are, and - and I don’t want to make you wait anymore-”

“I’d wait for a lot longer if you needed me to,” Poe said honestly, trying not to let his hope get the best of him, but it was there, threatening to eclipse every possible warning he could give himself to let her finish before he got excited, but it sounded like she was saying…

“I don’t want to wait either.” Rey stamped her foot for emphasis, and Bea looked up from the grass in mild interest before returning to her sniffs. “I’ve waited long enough, damnit, and he - he can’t take th-this - and - no, fuck it, I don’t even want to think about him-”

“Rey.” Poe held his hand out, and after a second, she took it, her fingertips ice-cold. He placed her hand between both of his and rubbed back and forth gently, trying to will some warmth into her. “What are you saying, sweetheart?”

“I’m trying to tell you I’m in love with you,” Rey half-laughed, but she looked almost sad, and Poe, well, Poe felt like he’d been kicked off the edge of the world, “But I’m really bad at it.”

“No you aren’t,” he promised fervently, taking a step towards her, her hand still clasped in his own. “That … that definitely wasn’t bad-”

“I’m in love with you, and I’m afraid,” Rey sniffed, and the aching in his chest intensified, “Because I don’t know what to do, or what I can handle-”

“Hey.” Poe brought her hand up to his mouth slowly and kissed her chilly-red fingertips. “We’ll figure it out together, okay?

“Okay.” Rey nodded, slowly and then quickly. “I mean, yes, yes, we can do that, I want to do that.”

“Can I take you on a date?” Poe asked, shy even though he was pretty sure of the answer. “So we can… we can start figuring it out?”

“I’d like that.” Rey smiled, and Poe grinned wildly, uncaring of the cold wind or the way Bea was tugging at the leash, or how heavy his duffel was because she loved him, she was in love with him, and he loved her, and they were going on a date -

And they’d figure everything else out together.

Chapter Text


Poe still couldn’t quite believe he managed to fall asleep that Saturday night with so much information buzzing around his head: Rey Kenobi was in love with him. She wanted to go on a date with him. She was in love with him. She thought he was a good person, and she liked spending time with him, and she was in love. With him.

They agreed to get dinner the next night, to give Poe time to catch up on an assignment for his Physics class (he didn’t really care about it in the face of Rey Kenobi being in love with him, but Rey probably didn’t have to know that he was willing to drop out of the damn class if it meant he could see her sooner, like lunch, or breakfast, or even five minutes after he dropped her off at Darklighter).

For all the stress of Winter Break and of the press and the interviews (which he couldn’t even curse now because one of those damn interviews, where he’d been unusually candid, had led Rey to tell him that she was in love with him, a thought he couldn’t get out of his head for more than ten seconds at any given time), Poe thought that maybe it was alright after all because Takodana University had never been more beautiful with its deciduous trees stripped of foliage and the decidedly grey pallor of late January settled over the campus. Dried leaves skittered over the ground at odd intervals, and the hint of snow was ever on the air, creating a dense, murky feeling no matter where you walked and hot damn, Poe had never seen anything more beautiful.

He rolled out of bed on Sunday at six a.m. and sent a good morning text to Rey; he also checked a text from Jess, from around 2 a.m. when she and Connix were coming back from the bars. That text just read If you hurt her, I will actually killllll you jk i love you but also not jk. Poe grinned at first at Jess’s protective streak (even more wonderful considering how absolutely tiny she was) before sobering at the thought of why Jess felt the need to be so protective. He was taking Rey on a date tonight, a real date - one that wasn’t going to end with a misunderstanding and her crying (because he would willingly let Jess murder him if that were teh case). This was going to be a real date, and Rey had sort of let it slip when he held the door open to her dorm that it was her first date, ever. 

Which, of course, explained why she’d been so upset that their time at Maz’s had gone to shit (well, it gave another explanation on top of the obvious, Poe acted the fucking idiot), and Poe was so gobsmackingly grateful that she was willing to reset the clock and call this their/her first date. Because wow he was in love with her, and she was in love with him, and there was no way this could go badly.

Poe even whistled as he laid out his pencils and notebooks, and scratched Bea’s ruff absentmindedly as he worked through the thirty or so problems he had to give his prof before the end of class tomorrow; he probably could have gotten them done when he was between interviews, but at the time, he’d been pining after Rey and also trying to get this script down, so his priorities had been elsewhere. And speaking of that script…

Around lunchtime, Poe took a break to walk Bea, and he settled in his armchair when he got back; his eyes twitched a little as he lifted the script, tentatively titled A New Order, and tried to memorize the set of lines Snap had confirmed as the final audition segment.

He’d read them next week, with the guy they’d confirmed as the villain of the piece. Poe was pretty excited - it would be his first major action movie since Squadron, and it meant that Amilyn, his least favorite producer who worked at NRB and also at its parent company’s movie production firm, no longer doubted if he were capable of keeping up with the rigor of an action movie after his accident. 

And if his knee twinged when he was coming up the stairs from walking Bea, a side effect of the cold weather and the general strain he’d put on it while working out at all the hotels of his press circuit, well, Amilyn fuckin’ Holdo didn’t have to know. Poe Dameron was ready to be an action star, and New Order was set to film in the summer, which meant he wouldn’t have to miss more than a week or two of school, and he could do it all, action movies, indie films, and school (and, of course, wooing Rey Kenobi).

As excited as he was for the part - Bea was a very convincing evil villain who was torturing him, howling when Poe grunted in faked pain - Poe couldn’t keep his attention on the script for long; he checked his watch with a sigh to discover it was only three o’clock, and he wasn’t supposed to pick up Rey until five for their date.

Poe shook the script out and kept reading for another thirty seconds before he dropped his script and stared at the floor in horror.

He was supposed to take Rey on a date in two hours. Rey, the girl he was massively, irretrievably in love with. Rey, the girl he wanted to impress more than anything. Rey, who would probably definitely care that he hadn’t showered yet that day. 

“Fuck.” Poe almost fell over trying to get up from the couch; Bea huffed, unimpressed, from the neighboring cushion. “Ohh, fuck, fuck fuck-”

A thirty minute shower and hair-styling session later, and Poe was hopping around his bedroom, trying to pick out one of the five outfits he’d planned last night when he couldn’t sleep. They were all various combinations of sweater and jeans, and when he caught Bea staring at him with clear disdain, he groaned and grabbed a brown sweater and dark wash jeans. “This couldn’t go any worse,” he hissed at the dog, who snorted in agreement.

“Oh, what if she doesn’t like this color?” Poe groaned, tugging at the brown sweater. He glared at the green sweater and the blue one he’d laid out, but Bea butted him in the calf, and he grumbled at her for a minute before nodding to himself and deciding that 3:45 was almost a good enough time to head out the door for a ten minute drive to Darklighter.

He had another hour. Fuck. Poe went back to reading his script, but his knee was bouncing too much for him to pay attention; he checked his phone, praying that maybe Rey had sent him something like let’s head out on our amazing date that you totally planned an hour early! But no, of course that hadn’t happened.

They were going to go to a little bistro Poe liked, about twenty minutes from campus in the small city near Takodana University - Rey had already approved of the menu when Poe sent her the Yelp reviews and address for the place, and he’d also sent the address to Finn and Jess to check his bases. They should know where Rey was, and on the off-chance that Rey felt uncomfortable during the date, she should know that her friends were completely aware of where she was in space. 

The reservations weren’t until 5:30, and Poe was doomed because no matter how much he sat on the couch and bounced his leg, time was still passing like normal, which meant it was five til 4:00 and he couldn’t speed up the universe to benefit himself in the least. 

“Beatrice.” He looked over at his corgi, who huffed at him dolefully. “This needs to go faster.”

She agreed with him, of course, but time still dragged on, and Poe was half out of his mind with anxiety - even taking ten minutes to drop his helmet on his hair, lift the helmet, drop his helmet, to see how badly it messed up his curls - before he finally let himself leave a little after 4:30. Beatrice whined at him when he didn’t grab her leash, and he apologized profusely (she didn’t like rides on Black One, and with Rey as his co-pilot, there wasn’t really any room for a chubby Corgi) while locking the door.

The ride to campus seemed even shorter than normal, and he found decent parking near Darklighter as the sun was beginning to set. The air was chilled with the promise of snow, and the trees were still; it was a cold night, but not a bitter one, and the lights were still twined around the lamp posts on campus, casting a warm, cheery glow to the street as he walked towards the dorm.

He was ten minutes early, but he’d sent Rey a text on his way out the door; she’d already responded with I’ll be down at 4:50, then! And he was cursing himself for potentially rushing her when the door opened and Rey walked out.

She was wearing the jacket he gave her; it fit her like a glove, accenting her figure without looking too tight or uncomfortable, and the warm, honeyed tan leather was perfect for her coloring. Rey paused at the top of the steps, peering first to the left, and then to the right; she saw him waiting for her a little up the sidewalk, and she smiled and waved at him. Poe waved back, eyes wide and probably looking a fool, but she bounced down the steps, seemingly unbothered by how ridiculously in love he was.

And thank God for that; Poe was even more powerfully reminded of how much he loved her when she walked up to him, carrying the scent of flowers and brightness with her. He was smiling like a total idiot, immediately cheered by the sight of her (and if things were different, if he were young and bolder and not so very afraid of scaring Rey away, he might have asked her to spend the night last night, not even for sex, but just to prolong their time together), and Rey’s nose was scrunched up like it did when she was actually happy and trying to hide it.

“My lady,” he gestured to the motorcycle, and Rey stared at him, eyebrows raised. “Well, fuck. Never said that before in my life.”

“Please don’t ever say it again.” Rey giggled and bumped his shoulder with hers, her hands tucked in her pockets. Poe smiled, internally screaming at himself, and walked side by side with her to the bike. She took her helmet from him, and he saw that she didn’t have gloves. He frowned but didn’t say anything; if he knew anything about Rey Kenobi, it was that she didn’t like being coddled.

The fact that she was wearing only the jacket he’d gotten her was worrisome enough - it was below forty degrees, and the air would feel sharper, colder up on the bike when they hit the highway, but he figured she would let him know if she couldn’t handle the temperature, and he could always lend her his thick coat (he debated for a second if he should have gotten her a better coat, a warmer one, before remembering that Rey might have seen that as him trying to coddle her, more than a cool leather jacket might have been perceived).

“You ready, Kenobi?” He called over his shoulder once they’d settled on the bike, and Rey wrapped her arms around his middle in response. Poe started the engine, and almost immediately fucked up when he pulled away from the curb and felt Rey rest her head against his shoulder. Be cool, be cool, be cool.

He wasn’t sure how he made it all the way to the bistro without making a mistake (and maybe he should buy a car so he could hold Rey’s hand while driving, or take her somewhere farther away and cooler, without worrying the entire time that she’d be too cold, or it would be too loud), but they pulled up front without much fanfare, and Poe parked the bike and let Rey get off first. 

“By the way,” she said serenely, handing him her helmet, which he locked to the front of the bike, “if you ever meet Obi,” his heart pounded at the thought of her wanting him to meet her only family, “...don’t mention that I got on a motorcycle.”

“Uhhh.” Poe said eloquently as he got off Black One. 

“In fact,” she continued, “Don’t mention the motorcycle at all.”

“Fuck,” Poe dragged his hand through his curls, effectively destroying their careful style like his helmet never could, “Fuck does he hate motorcycles? Because - because I’m happy to switch to a car if you need to, Sunshine, I don’t want you to get in trouble with your uncle-”

Rey cracked up as they walked towards the restaurant. “No. No, Obi-Wan loves motorcycles.”

“So-” Poe gave her a confused look, still nervous from the thought of Rey’s only family hating him. 

“So, I told him I didn’t want to learn how to drive one when I was 16, so I told him they were death traps, and he pretended to not be offended, but I’m pretty sure it’s the most I ever managed to insult him. Really, I was just in a bad mood, but it was hard to bring the subject up after that, so if he hears that not only do you regularly drive a motorcycle, but also that you’ve given me lessons, well…” Rey shook her hair out and laughed brightly. “I’d never hear the end of it.”

“Yeah.” Poe spoke dazedly as he held the door open for Rey; she was so different tonight.

Not in a bad way, not in a way that told him she was trying to act different: she was as clever and funny and interesting to talk to as always but she was freer somehow. Happier. Lighter. Poe smiled at his shoes before following Rey into the restaurant, a little hopeful that maybe he was the person responsible for making her a little happier, a little lighter, a little freer. 

She was still cheerful when they sat down for dinner, bright and making easy conversation with the waiter, and she didn’t play with her hair like she normally did when she was nervous; Poe stared at her in abject wonder. With the light from the table’s candle playing with her hair and illuminating her face, Rey looked like a goddess, or some kind of deity, and he couldn’t believe she was about to eat dinner with him.

“You seem really happy,” Poe said abruptly, and Rey paused in digging through the bread basket. “Like - in a really good way.” He smiled, so strangely nervous. “It’s … nice.”

“It feels nice.” Rey found a piece of raisin carrot bread and broke it in half on her plate before eating a large piece of one half. “And I don’t know … I thought a lot over Winter Break, and … it’s easy to be happy around you.” She swallowed the piece entirely, having spoken through it. “I mean … today, it’s easy to be happy. Tomorrow….” She shrugged. “Well, that’ll be tomorrow’s issue.”

“I like that,” Poe said, and Rey smiled at him before dunking her other half of bread in the butter and shoving it wholesale into her mouth. “Sounds like a pretty good way to live. And...for the record, it’s easy to be happy around you, too.”

The food came, effectively cutting him off from gushing too much more, but their conversation spread across their love of sci-fi movies (Rey admitted to seeing Squadron five times in theaters, and Poe pretended that didn’t make him want to crow with happiness), their career aspirations (Rey, to become an engineer or mathematician, and Poe, to maybe one day direct his own movie), and their shared interest in space. 

They sat at the table for almost two hours, the food gone long before the conversation, and Poe felt a sleepy intimacy settle over him, one he’d never felt before; he didn’t know every nook and cranny of Rey Kenobi’s mind yet, but the idea that he might one day know more of it was as thrilling as it was comforting. She looked at him like no one else had, and there, in the soft candlelight of the restaurant, eyes sparkling as she spoke, for what seemed the first time since he’d met her, without anxiety or fear or self-restraint, Poe found himself loving her more than he had that afternoon. 

Poe propped his chin in his hand and watched Rey speak, tucking away information she shared and the small idiosyncratic movements that were particular to her, and knew that he was never going to stop finding new things about her to love. And it was the happiest he could ever recall being.

If they didn’t both have class the next morning, Poe might have boldly asked for more time; as it was, he knew he was lucky to have these hours with her, and they meandered around the small park near the restaurant when they finished up their meal. The moon was bright overhead, and the stars were dim against the lights of the city, but it was a beautiful night for the company.

Rey laughed at something he said - and later, Poe wouldn’t be able to recall his cleverness in the least, only the sound of her laugh - and Poe held his hand out to her as they completed the first lap of the park. “Can I hold your hand?” He asked shyly, watching her face for any sign of disinterest.

Instead, Rey beamed at him and nodded, slipping her hand out of her pocket and into his hand. Poe smiled and then fake-shivered. “God, you’re cold.” He rubbed her knuckles with his thumb in an effort to generate heat. “Your hands are always freezing, Kenobi.”

“Mhm.” Rey shrugged and smiled, her eyes a little distant now as she tilted her head back and stared at the moon. Her mind was probably elsewhere, he realized, watching her cheeks fill with color in the cold air, and he should wait for her to come back. Rey released a breath that crystallized in the air, and Poe kept stroking his thumb over her knuckles, not to try to call her back early, but only to keep her warm while she was gone.

“Sorry,” she mumbled after a long minute of walking and no talking, “I was … thinking.”

“No problem,” Poe said honestly, swinging their hands back and forth. “About something good, I hope?”

“More of just … thinking.” Rey blinked and came a little more back to herself, but Poe didn’t think she was fully back. She wasn’t as cheerful as she’d been at dinner, but then again, it was after 7:30 and she could just be tired. “Do you know Luke Skywalker?”

“Uh.” Poe cleared his throat uncomfortably, wondering if the follow-up question to this would be do you know his sister because he did, and as much as he loved Leia, he didn’t want to think about her shitbag son. “Yeah.”

“He’s best friends with my uncle.” Rey tilted her head back again and smiled, but slower this time, sweeter. “They’re a real piece of work when they’re together.” Poe snorted. “But, I saw him over break, and we had a really good talk about … about keeping good things in your life and not letting fear control you. That sort of thing.”

Poe nodded, not sure if she was done with her thought yet. She wasn’t.

“That’s sort of what pushed me to tell you right away,” Rey continued, and Poe felt a rush of gratitude for that crotchety old man. “He said he’d seen a lot of people in his life fall to pieces because they rejected the good kind of love in their life, and some people had even actively destroyed the good people who loved them, and … and I didn’t want that. I don’t want to destroy myself with fear. And … and you’re good, Poe Dameron.” 

They stopped walking, there at the edge of the park, under the low-hanging limb of a pear tree, and the moonlight caught on the branches like a fall of snow.

“You’re so good.” Rey smiled at him and stroked her thumb over his knuckles, mirroring his movement and causing his heart to pick up speed. “And … I had a really nice time tonight.”

“Me too,” Poe heard himself saying, but he was trying to stay in this moment, so it was hard to focus on minor things like talking. This was a perfect moment, he realized, and he didn’t want anything to interfere with it, especially himself. “And you’re good too, Rey.”

“I’m not so sure about that,” she whispered ruefully, her eyes a little sad even though she insisted on smiling. 

“I am.” Poe took a step closer to her, and Rey didn’t take a step back. Their hands remained clasped. “And I’ll tell you, every day, until you believe it for yourself.”

“What if it takes a long time?” Rey asked, tilting her head. He wasn’t imagining that her eyes lingered on his lips, and he swallowed, his own eyes drifting to the perfect bow of her mouth.

“Doesn’t matter.” A heaviness fell over them, a significance he didn’t think either of them could ignore. “Every day, even if it’s a thousand years from now. You’re a good person, Rey Kenobi, and that’s why it’s so easy to love you.”

Rey closed her eyes for a second, and the world became very still. Poe tried to not even breathe as she seemed to be deciding something very important for the both of them. And, sure enough:

Her hazel eyes opened, dark brown in the moonlight, and her voice was hushed when she next spoke. “I want to kiss you, but I think I might be bad at it.”

“Not possible,” Poe answered, his heart pounding in his throat. Rey looked at him though, really looked at him, with her eyes that could freeze him where he stood, or make him the happiest person with half a glance. “I want to kiss you too,” he added, in case she wasn’t aware of that painfully obvious fact.

Her lips twitched into a smirk: yeah. She knew.

“Okay.” She licked her bottom lip, and his eyes tracked the movement helplessly. Then, Rey nodded and leaned over and kissed him.

Just like that, easy as anything: Rey Kenobi kissed him in a park that had that kind of quiet that came before snow, and the wind whispered in the pear tree above them, and he swore he felt the moonlight warming his back. But no, that was just Rey kissing him, her lips soft and dry, her nose sharp and cold, and it warmed him like a shot of whiskey taken after coming in from the cold.

“I love you,” he whispered as they broke apart; it was a chaste kiss, and his hands hadn’t moved from hers, but he knew it to be the most important kiss of his life so far because she was looking at him still with the sort of trust he could previously only dream about. 

“Say it again?” Rey asked, eyeing his mouth, her own lips pinker and fuller than they’d been a minute before.

“I love you,” Poe repeated, more than happy to oblige, “God, I love you,” and he kissed her this time, and when they broke apart, he rested his forehead on hers and smiled into the space between them, and he knew she was smiling too.

They didn’t move from the park until Rey shivered, her jacket not quite enough to block out the ongoing chill; they didn’t speak as they walked to Black One, but their hands were clasped between them, and Poe swore that he could hear every inch of the future in the clack of Rey’s boots against the pavement, echoing down the street and reminding him that, for now, he could hold Rey’s hand and they could be in love. 

And there wasn’t anything more he had to worry about. 

 

Chapter Text


The room swirled. 

The smell of detergent and vodka - she hadn’t been drinking. She hadn’t. She hadn’t. So why did she want to vomit?

“You’re so pretty, always been so-”

Where was her jacket? It was cold. She didn’t want to be here.

She should call Jess.

Where was she-

She could hear him. She could smell him.

“You know I can take whatever I want.”

Rey kicked her legs out and slammed her foot into the wall at the foot of her bed. She kicked again, harder because that was what made him let her go, when she cracked his face open, when she - she kicked a third time, half-screaming in fear, and then she realized the blankets tangled around her legs were her own.

She was in her dorm room.

It was 2020, and her heart wouldn’t slow down and she could still smell him.

Rey rolled over and retched, but she hadn’t been able to get dinner the previous night, her meal swipes tapped out for the week, so nothing came out. Rey stumbled to the sink across the room and stuck her face under the faucet to rinse out of her mouth, and to try to wake up more.

She could still smell him.

Gripping the sides of the ancient, rusted sink, Rey took one shuddering breath. Another. In through the nose. Out through the mouth. Like Dr. Yoda had shown her. 

In. Out. Imagine a tree. In. Out. Imagine a cat. Artoo. He was so fat. In. Out. Imagine a bird. Flying. A feather, what does it feel like? In. Out. How did vanilla smell? Cookies. Ramen. Detergent, vodka, bile, him - In. Out. Breathe. Just breathe. Imagine a solid cylinder. Take the cylinder of radius R and height 2R. Remove the right double cone which passes through the center of the solid cylinder and extends to meet the circular discs at the bottom and top of the cylinder. The volume remaining … the volume remaining…

Detergent. Vodka. I can take whatever I want - 

Rey retched again, sobbing emptily into the running water before sinking to her knees, her forehead resting on the lip of the sink. Forget it. Forget him. Forget it all. You’re nothing. No. But not to me. A lie. I always thought you were special - 

“Liar,” Rey sobbed, wrapping her arms around her middle and half-wailing from the fury that rose up in her, sharper than any double-edged sword. “ Liar. ” She leaned against the wall, curled up, miserable, and cried in anger and frustration and loss, cursing that her sleeping mind was able to piece parts of that night together over and over again.

Especially today.

Rey eventually stood on shaky legs and walked to where her crappy phone was charging. She didn’t bother checking the time, or the day. She knew what day it was.

Instead, she dialed a number from memory, her purple nail polish chipped and fading on the thumb that flashed across her screen, tapping in each number before she pressed the phone to her ear, and whispered a hundred silent apologies to the empty room.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” she closed her eyes and took a shuddering breath. “Pick up, pick up, pick up-”

No answer.

It was just after three a.m. Of course he wouldn’t pick up. Rey wiped her nose angrily, cursing herself for being so needy, and then collapsed on the bed, trying not to start crying again. She bounced her leg a few times, not even registering the cold tile beneath her bare foot, and she scratched at her thigh absently before she dialed another number.

“You can ask for help.” She gritted it out through her teeth, forcing herself to believe it. “You can ask for help. Pick up, pick up, pickuppickup-”

“‘Lo?” 

“Finn.” Rey choked his name out, and put her hand to her forehead, trying to stop the pounding behind her eyes. “I- I-”

“Where are you?” Finn spoke immediately, suddenly much more alert. “Are you - it’s Rey, honey-”

Rey? ” she could hear Rose on the other end, sleepy but concerned. “ Is she okay -”

“I didn’t mean to wake you up,” Rey gasped for air and then shook her head, “No, I mean, I’m sorry that I did wake you up, I just I just-”

“Just what, Peanut?”

“I don’t want to be alone right now.” Rey’s voice cracked painfully, and she scratched at the wall instead of her thigh, scraping off paint and scoring the wall for the twentieth time that week. “I’m scared.” She tilted her head back, hating herself for admitting it out loud.

“Where are you?” Finn repeated gently.

Is she okay? We should go pick her up-”

“I’m in my room,” Rey laughed at herself for being so pathetic, an angry, short sound as she wiped her thumb over her nose, hard. “It’s - it’s t-today-”

“Fuck.” Finn sighed and she heard some shuffling on the other end. “No, no, you stay here, I’ll head over- yeah, you too, babe-”

Rose said something indistinguishable, but Rey was trying to maintain her breathing and had begun staring at the fritzing overhead light, which she’d turned on in her mad dash to the sink. 

“I’ll be right there,” Finn promised. “Two minutes.” 

Rey nodded miserably and hung up, dropping her phone to the bed beside her. Finn was in the building right next to hers, part of the larger Darklighter complex, building B, and sure enough, he was there in two minutes, having swiped in and taken the stairs clearly two at a time, judging by how fast he did get there.

Rey still started when he knocked on the door, but got up to let him in, and Finn wrapped her up in a hug immediately; recognizing him as a safe person, someone she trusted, Rey cried again, humiliatingly, staining his shirt quickly, as Finn rubbed her shoulder blades and tried to calm her down.

Somehow, he got her to the bed, and after she tried to talk in stammering terms of what she’d dreamed about, Rey fell silent and stared at the sheets, her legs pulled up to her chest. Distantly, she was aware that she wasn’t wearing pants, just a large t-shirt that didn’t cover her ass when she sat like that, and she reached self-consciously for her threadbare blanket; Finn helped her adjust it over her legs and then returned to holding her hand patiently.

“Do you want a distraction?” Finn asked kindly, thirty minutes after he arrived. Rey thought about it without really thinking about it and nodded dully.

He pulled his backpack over, which he’d clearly grabbed on his dash over there, and pulled ot his laptop; Finn booted it up - Rey didn’t see him do it, only noticed that it was on suddenly, and she blinked slightly in response - and went to Netflix, and put on a baking show.

She sniffed and watched without watching for a few hours, and when Finn dozed off, she didn’t wake him, too relived to just have another person there that she didn’t mind he wasn’t chatty. Rey didn’t even think she could do chatty or talking or explaining herself right now. Maybe it was a good thing that her first call didn’t pick up-

Her first call.

The sun was already rising when Rey extricated herself from the blanket and grabbed her phone from the foot of the bed. Maybe she should have sent a text, but it was also early, so maybe he hadn’t-

[Poe Dameron, 5:48 a.m.]: Hey Sunshine, did you mean to call me? 

[Poe Dameron, 6:15 a.m.]: Everything alright? 

[Poe Dameron, 6:16 a.m.]: i have a voicemail thats you crying please please tell me youre okay-

“Shit.” She hadn’t realized she’d left a voicemail. Time always acted weird when she was having a panic attack, so she hadn’t hung up on time then. Fuck.

I’m fine, she texted back, sorry to worry you. 

[Poe Dameron, 6:25 a.m.]: Can I call? 

Rey hovered her thumb over the screen, unsure of how to respond. Finn snorted awake next to her and looked at her blearily. “Whats’it?”

“Poe.” Rey said simply. “I tried calling him l-last night, and-” She’s exhausted, near strung out from not getting any sleep after her nightmare, and her panic attack that she’s pretty sure is still going and Finn is waiting for her to explain more, “and he’s worried and wants to-to talk, but I- I can’t-”

Wordlessly, Finn took the phone from her hand, careful and slow, and he didn’t startle her in the least with his movements. Finn was good like that.

Finn was good, period.

“What should I tell him?” Finn asked, already flipping to her contacts.

“You can - you c-can tell...you can say what day … it is.” Rey stared at her hands which had twisted together at some point after Finn took the phone. “He -- he knows some of the s-story, how much I don’t know, but … but he found the …. The article, so...he probably has … some idea.”

Finn rubbed her shoulder over her sweater slowly and then hit call. “Do you want to see him?” he asked as it rang, and Rey shook her head. 

“I don’t want him to see me like this,” Rey whispered, and Finn nodded. 

“Right. Hey, man.” He was talking to Poe now, and Rey swore she could hear Poe’s voice, at least the outline of it, sharp and louder than normal. She winced, and Finn leaned away slightly. “No. No, she’s okay...that’s not a good idea.” More of Poe’s rapid-fire talking, indiscernible from where she was sitting. “Nightmare, man, that’s what upset - no, I’m going to sit with her. No, she doesn’t.” More Poe. “I get it, I really get it - but she - it’s today, man.” She couldn’t hear Poe, but Finn’s silence told her that Poe was talking; her stomach curdled. “Yeah. A year ago-” Her eyes welled over unexpectedly, and a tear dropped into her lap. She was too tired to wipe it away. “I’ll pass that along. Yeah. Yeah, of course. Bye.”

Finn handed her phone back to her, and Rey tucked it away without looking at him. 

“He says he loves you,” Finn said quietly, and Rey nodded. “And he’s there whenever you need him. And: I don’t know why, but he said … he said I should tell you that ‘you’re good, Rey Kenobi. The best.’ If that means something-” 

Rey cried, harder than before, and Finn pulled her into a half-hug where she leaned on his chest and tried to stop the pit inside her from swallowing her whole.


Rey stumbled out of Mon Cala that Wednesday, bleary-eyed from Ackbar’s lengthy lecture. Why she’d elected to take Abstract Algebra the same semester as Calc III was beyond her reckoning so far out from the day she’d registered for classes; she was reaping the consequences of her decision now, though. Rey rubbed her eyes and turned towards the bus stop; and her heart skipped in her chest.

Poe Dameron was waiting, sitting on the bench they’d sat on months ago, wearing a Takodana U sweatshirt under a parka, with a healthy growth of stubble, and two to-go cups of coffee sitting next to him.

“Hey,” he greeted her softly as she walked up. “Hope it’s alright that I brought some caffeine? Wasn’t sure if our previous arrangement still stood.”

Right. They drank coffee together after Wednesday classes last semester. Rey smiled, and gestured to the bench, wordlessly asking for permission to sit. Poe nodded and smiled back, and they sat in silence for a few minutes, other than Rey accepting the offer of her cappuccino with a murmur of thanks.

“No Bea?” She asked at last, and Poe twisted to face her, tucking one knee up on the bench. She hoped it wasn’t his bad knee.

“No Bea.” Poe tilted his head and studied her face, and she noticed how sad his eyes were. Her heart twisted. It was her fault that he was sad. “Wasn’t sure if you were going to want to talk or not, and I didn’t want to pressure you more-”

“Coffee isn’t pressure.” Rey took a demonstrative sip. “It’s the opposite of pressure.”

“Right.” Poe smiled but it didn’t reach his eyes. “Guess I just ...really wanted to see how you were doing.”

They’d been texting, Rey unwilling to freeze him out by accident. She’d forced herself to text back at least a one word response to his good morning texts, and his good night texts, of which she’d received four since he’d spoken to Finn on the phone.

“I-” Poe hovered his hand over her shoulder for a second before dropping it to the bench; he spoke thoughtfully, not looking right at her, but over at the dead tree across the building from them. “How are you?”

“Been better. Feel like shit.” Rey went for honesty and shrugged a shoulder. “Don’t … really want to talk about it.”

“Of course.” Poe smiled at her, and Rey felt her face crumple as she looked down. “Hey- hey, what’s-”

“I missed you.” Rey laughed at herself bitterly. “It hasn’t been more than four days and I miss you, God, you must think I’m pathetic-”

“I think you’re wonderful.” Normally, she’d squirm in embarrassment, but Poe sounded matter-of-fact. Calm. Honest. “I missed you too.”

“Can we -” Rey cleared her throat and stared at her cup. “I’m not ready to talk about-”

“No.” Poe shook his head. “We can do something else. Are you done with classes for the day?” She nodded, stroking her thumb over the eco-friendly sleeve that didn’t stop heat from leaking out and half-burning her palms. “Do you want to watch a movie?”

“Which one?” Rey wrinkled her nose and thought about the recent releases. “Oh, fuck your movie isn’t out yet is it-”

“No, and I wouldn’t watch it if it was.” Poe groaned and slapped a hand to his face. “I gotta watch that shit in three weeks. It’s going to be terrible.

“Oh yes, how terrible, a hundred people sitting around you, telling you how amazing you are,” Rey was surprised she was able to tease him, but it sparked something inside of her that was something other than the dull ache she’d been feeling all week.

“Hey now, Zorri Bliss is definitely not going to say that I was amazing, like, ever-”

“You poor thing.”

Poe grinned, and Rey found herself able to smile back genuinely. “I’m so hurt.” He batted his lashes at her and tilted his head. “Wounded.”

“I’m sure.”

“Nah, but I was - I was thinking, it’s cold out, and it’s going to snow any day now, and I always like to watch the classics when it’s real winter out-”

Rey was thinking Citizen Kane, or The Sundance Kid, or one of Obi’s favorites. Poe had other ideas.

“Like, the Breakfast Club, or Sixteen Candles, or Ghostbusters-”

“Never seen them.” 

It was like she’d slapped him. Poe stared at her in shock. 

“You haven’t-” Rey shook her head, smiling. “Next you’ll say you haven’t seen the Princess Bride-”

“Is that about Kate Middleton?”

“Oh, fuck.” Poe shook his head and drained his coffee dramatically, casting the cup aside with a sigh. “We have our work cut out for us, Kenobi.”

“Is that so?”

“That’s so. If you want to, of course.” Poe pulled his arm back from where he’d draped it over the back of the bench. “My place? Heartwarming teen comedy from the 80s? Or the most romantic movie ever made?”

“Die Hard!” Rey pointed at him. “That’s the most romantic movie ever made-”

“You’re killing me, Kenobi.” Poe’s eyes crinkled though, like they always did when he was happy, and Rey smiled and nodded, deciding that she could do something nice for herself.

“A movie,” she confirmed, and Poe didn’t move to get up, only pulled his phone out.

“Wanna invite Finn?” He asked, and her heart twinged at how effortlessly he offered; clearly, he was thinking that she needed Finn there as a buffer, to make this a not date, but-

“I think he has an afternoon class.” That was the truth. “And my ass is freezing, so.” Rey took Poe’s offered hand when he stood from the bench, and they walked towards Black One, parked up the road. 

Beatrice was beyond excited when she walked through the door, and Rey sank to her knees gratefully, burying her face in the orange and white ruff of the wiggling dog. 

Dogs were honest; you never had to worry they weren’t actually excited to see you. 

Poe dragged out a few blankets as she cuddled Beatrice on the floor, and queued up his movie collection; he offered her a crooked smile that stole her breath as he sat down and gestured to the couch.

“Which seat do you want?” 

He’d sat at the furthest end of the couch, a blanket pulled over his lap; a few more blankets were piled on the cushion right next to him, and the armchair and loveseat were both free. Rey thought for a second, scratching Beatrice’s ears, and then walked over and shifted the pile of blankets over so she could sit next to him. 

Her ears were warm as she shook out a blanket and threw it over her legs, and she nestled into the back of the couch, happy when Beatrice waddled over and hopped up next to her after a few attempts to get her short body airborne. “Good girl,” she praised, sneaking a look at Poe.

He was staring at her with a softness that made her heart clench; Rey smiled down at Bea, who was shuffling around her lap in a circle. The corgi settled after a moment of indecision, and then Poe tapped Rey on the elbow.

“Do you wanna watch something about misfits, about turning sixteen, or about pirates, danger, and true love?’

“Being sixteen sucked,” Rey laughed, “And if the misfits one isn’t sad, I’d watch that-”

“-It’s a little sad-”

“-I mean… we could always watch…” Rey tilted her head onto the back of the couch and lolled it over so she could smirk at Poe, “...Les Miserables.”

Poe froze with the remote in the air, and his neck turned bright red. “Luke didn’t.”

“Valjean… at last… we see each other plain…” Rey intoned dryly, and Poe set the remote down with a shout of feigned indignation.

“I was an amazing Javert! I don’t care what he says!”

Rey dissolved into giggles and then gestured at the screen. “I pick the pirate one.”

“I’m gonna kill Luke,” Poe muttered, clicking over on the options. “That old, wrinkly-”

A strange 80s style baseball video game filled the screen, and Rey titled her head. “I thought this was about pirates?”

“There are pirates in it,” Poe dropped the remote back down and settled back into the couch, still red-faced. “For a little bit-”

“Ugh.” Rey shook her head. “Not a promising start.”

The next few hours passed by dreamily, a sense of warmth and comfort washing over Rey with Bea on her lap and Poe sitting next to her. The story of Buttercup and her true love was in fact distracting enough, and Rey was enraptured with the somewhat cheesy dialogue and strong, beating heart at the center of the film.

“As you - wish -” Wesley shouted as he tumbled down the hill, and Rey heaved a sigh.

“Wow.”

“Yeah.” Poe snorted and leaned over to scratch Bea’s ears. “Imagine being thirteen and realizing you had a crush on both of them-”

Rey laughed and let herself scoot a little closer to Poe without making it obvious. Their legs bumped together where they were stretched out on the ottoman, and Rey let her foot rested against Poe’s shin purposefully, heat leaking from him and into her in a way she couldn’t ignore.

Poe would make a very handsome Dread Pirate, Rey decided as she fought the urge to burrow into his side. A very handsome pirate indeed.

Admittedly, she was distracted for the last forty minutes of the movie due to Poe’s proximity and the idea of Poe in a dashing pirate costume, and Rey willed herself to watch the wonderful reunion of Buttercup and her Wesley. Poe cheered when they jumped from the window of the tower, and Rey grinned at him affectionately; he caught her smiling at him, and he smiled back, his eyes soft, and the moment between them became intense. That is, until Poe blinked and broke the spell, turning back to the screen; he did, however, reach over and take her hand from where it was resting on the couch (and she’d only put it there an hour ago, waiting for him to take it, and it was slightly sweaty as a result).

She yawned when the credits rolled, and hummed sleepily when Poe asked if she’d liked it; Poe rubbed his thumb on the back of her hand and tilted his head at her. “Do you want to take a nap?” He asked quietly, and Rey really did, except-

“I get … nightmares.” She blushed, but she didn’t know why. That wasn’t anything Poe didn’t already know. She’d told him as much over the phone during break. But Poe didn’t say anything, only looked at her steadily. “I … wake up screaming. I don’t want to-”

“If you want to rest, rest,” Poe murmured. “I’ll head into the bedroom if you want, and Bea will keep you safe out here-”

“No.” Rey shook her head after thinking about it - the relative vulnerability she’d have to accept sleeping in front of Poe didn’t seem too terrible. She had a feeling Bea would bite even her beloved owner if he tried to - No. Poe wasn’t like that. “You can - can you stay?”

“As you wish.” God, she loved him. Poe, unaware that she was staring at him with stars in her tired eyes, clicked to a different screen on the television and pulled up Parks and Rec. “I’ll just watch something in the background? Unless you want it to be quiet?”

“That’s fine-” Rey yawned and her eyes fluttered shut. “I’ll-”

And it was the oddest thing. Rey didn’t dream of him at all, only of warm brown eyes and large hands, and sandalwood and a feeling of sweetness that made her smile even while she was sleeping. 

It was the best she’d slept in months, curled up on Poe Dameron’s couch with his dog on her lap, and his warm presence by her side, and Rey slept for much longer than she intended; when she finally did wake up, a few hours later, Poe was dozing next to her, his head rolled back at an awkward angle, his mouth open as he breathed loudly, and Rey smiled at him drowsily before accepting the kiss Beatrice was trying to give her jaw.

She had work to do, chapters to study for Multivariable tomorrow, but it could all wait. Rey was content in a way she didn’t think possible, and the sort of tiredness that washed over her wasn’t unpleasant at the least. It helped her doze off again, this time after tilting over until her head was nestled on Poe’s strong shoulder, his smell familiar and comforting and so damn attractive -

Rey was asleep before she could finish the thought. 


Amilyn was not pleased that he was only ten minutes early.

“This is a big deal,” she hissed at him as they walked through wardrobe quickly. “A big, big deal-”

“I’m aware, Amilyn,” Poe muttered through gritted teeth. He’d heard Leia was doctoring the script for this; where was she? He needed a friendly face before he did the screen test. “And I’m grateful-”

“I pulled a lot of strings.” Amilyn sighed and straightened out his leather jacket, frowning at the way it fell before tugging it a different way. The production assistant behind her shot Poe a sympathetic look; he grimaced back at her. “You have the script, right?’

“Don’t need it.” Poe shrugged, but when Amilyn made a hissing noise, he pointed to his messenger bag. “It’s right there, Amilyn, relax, but I have the scene memorized-”

“Are you sure? You know how to play it, do you want any -”

“I’m being tortured.” Poe snorted. “How could I possibly play it besides...being tortured? He’s a little flippant about it, but that’s basically the character-”

“The director wants this to be done organically.” Amilyn, clearly satisfied as she could be with his appearance, took a step back and gave a firm nod, studying his body with a level of detached disinterest that would normally be insulting if Poe gave a fuck for her opinion. “So you won’t even see the other person’s face, won’t talk to him outside the lines or between takes, and-”

“Let a stranger torture me, got it.” Who the fuck was this director again? Some a-hole who’d made a decent indie movie a few years back, Jackson or Johnson or something; Poe wasn’t sure how the director lucked into this gig, but he was also not sure how he lucked into the audition. 

“Jackson takes this very seriously-” Jackson, that was it - “So just do your best and-”

“Mr. Dameron?” Another PA walked into the room. “They’re ready for you.”

“Thank you.” He smiled at her, and the girl turned pink before turning on her heel and walking away.

“Well, at least we know you look hot.” Amilyn clapped him on the shoulder in a brisk, informal way and then led the way out to the set.

It was … eerie, to say the least. The director, Jackson, and a few other assistant directors were scattered around the small set, which looked exactly like a sci-fi torture chamber. Cold metal, a chair that was half-table with multiple restraints, and foreboding, blinking lights. 

“Hello, Mr. Dameron.” Jackson smiled genially enough, and Poe nodded back. 

“Thanks for having me.” Jackson gestured to the chair, and Poe got in it awkwardly, climbing onto it really; it was at an odd angle and was immediately uncomfortable, but that would only help him with the scene, he guessed.

“You’re not gonna use these yet, right?” Poe joked, pointing to the restraints, and Jackson grinned while looking back at the script, shaking his head. Poe heaved a private sigh of relief, and then eyed the looming, dark door in front of him. “When are we gonna start?”

“Right about now.” Jackson pointed at Poe and read from his notes. “So, you’ve been tortured for a few hours, they really want to know where the McGuffin is, and you’re dedicated to two things: your own hide, and also the princess now. The princess’s life will be in danger if you give up the location of the McGuffin, and you actually care more about her than yourself, which is very new for you. Ready?”

Poe nodded, letting himself settle into the parts of Juan he understood: brave, reckless, big-hearted. He dug into the pain he rarely liked to look at - the feeling of not being enough. Not being good. The fear of hurting someone he loved-

Rey, crying at Maz’s, her face in her hand -

No. His face twisted in actual pain, and he pushed the thought away. He wasn’t going to use that memory for this, not at -

“That’s great,” Jackson encouraged him. “And...here we go.”

Poe breathed heavily, Juan rising to the surface like he’d practiced with Bea and Snap over the last few weeks. The director and his crew watching him faded out, and he stared into the distance, his chest heaving, the tacky fake blood on his face drying and crackling uncomfortably as he hung his head. 

Ah. I see we have a famous pilot in our midst.

Poe’s head snapped up at the modulated voice, and his heart clenched in almost real fear.

The guy in front of him looked like a fucking monster: massive, almost a foot taller than he’d be out of this chair, with a mask made from nightmare, gleaming black and wicked. 

Fuck, he had a line. It was:

“It’s hard to hear you with all the,he gestured vaguely with his head, as his arms were supposed to be restrained, “apparatus. What was that?”

“Still so funny after so long with my best.” The Man tsked disapprovingly. The script had just called him The Man in Black, but Poe had a feeling his lack of identity made him more terrifying.

He was a little scared himself.

“Clearly they have more work to do.”

“Look, pal, I don’t know what it is you want from me, but-”

“I want the girl.” The Man stood over him, his voice strangely quiet now, and Poe swallowed. Was that his line? He couldn’t remember suddenly, not with this massive man hulking over him and blocking out the stage light behind him. “The robot - where is it?”

Right. The robot carrying the plans. 

“My family had a great robot when I was a kid.” Poe tilted his head to the side and pretended to wince in pain, like a rib had been cracked. “Super friendly. Great smile. Almost as good as y-”

The guy grabbed him by the shirt and shoved him back; Poe’s head slammed back and almost hit the chair. “Uh-” he choked out, shocked by the contact.

The script had said the guy had mystical powers and would do that by lifting his hand - Poe breathed through his nose, out through his mouth, and stared at the ceiling, waiting for Jackson to call it.

He didn’t.

“Where. Is. It.”

“I won’t be intimidated by you,” Poe gritted out, sweat beading his hairline now as his anxiety skyrocketed. “But good try, really-”

“Pathetic.” That wasn’t in the script. The Man released him and walked around the back of the chair; Poe could feel him staring down at him. He shivered. “And you think you can protect her, a little man like you? You think I care about this - you’re an ant, Decker, you’re nothing to me - and I want those plans.”

“I-” That really wasn’t in the script. Were they supposed to be improvising? Snap hadn’t said, and Poe was starting to be beyond uncomfortable, something closer to threatened. “That the best you got?”

The man grabbed the chair and came around the front again, the mask terrifying up close, and Jackson wasn’t saying shit as the guy reached for Poe’s fucking throat and-

“That’s enough.” Poe jumped down from the chair, avoiding touching the man as much as he could. “Jesus Fucking Christ, what the fuck was that?”

“That was real.” Jackson sighed, tenting his fingers together and looking between the two of them, starry-eyed. “That was chemistry -”

Poe’s stomach kept churning. “Like fuck it was,” he muttered, glaring up at the guy and then over at Jackson. Some of his crew also looked uncomfortable. “That wasn’t even the script-”

“I bet we can replicate it.” Jackson snapped his fingers as he thought and then pointed at the Man in Black. “Try it without the mask?” The Man nodded, but Poe shook his head.

“Nuh-uh, not unless he promises to keep his fucking hands off of me-”

“Scared, Dameron?” That was way too personal. Poe bristled, and turned, snarling to face him.

“Look, buddy, I don’t know who you think you are-”

The Man lifted his helmet and shook his long, dark hair out, his milky skin broken only by distinctive birth marks that Poe knew too well.

Poe stared in horror, up at Kylo Ren. 

“Let’s run it from the top,” Jackson said, blissfully unaware that Poe Dameron was about to start screaming, or punching, or both.

Chapter Text

Pennsylvania, Morning 

Rey needed a scarf.

It felt silly, to need a scarf, but she figured if she layered a scarf with the jacket Poe gave her, she might be less cold; and, a scarf was cheaper and easier to find than a sweater, so.

She needed a scarf.

It was only a few degrees above freezing as she walked towards the Takodana Goodwill, her backpack keeping out some of the chill from her back as she walked; Finn was off-campus this weekend, taking Rose to see her aunt and uncle, so Rey couldn’t ask him for a ride (or, more likely, mention to him she was walking three miles to the Goodwill, and then get an offer for a ride), which meant fork over two dollars in bus fares or just walk the six miles round trip for a scarf that was already going to cost money.

The weather was pretty, if cold, at least. There were only wisps of clouds on the horizon, and the air seemed to crackle with every step Rey took, brisk, cold air filling her lungs and making her more awake. She hadn’t slept well the previous night; Poe had gone to audition for some fancy blockbuster, which was going to take place later that day. It also meant he’d travelled last night and wasn’t available for their now-normal pre-bedtime phone call.

Her cheeks hurt from the cold as she turned down the final street, her fingertips slightly number, and her ears definitely numb, but the Goodwill was in her sights, and she didn’t have to worry much longer. 

Picking up the pace, Rey ducked under a low-hanging branch in the middle of the sidewalk, and let her mind wander to the pleasant thought of greeting Poe when he got back. It was only a week until Valentine’s Day, and Rey counted out, from memory, the bills in her wallet, wondering if she could find something at Goodwill to fix up to give to Poe for the day.

(When she mentioned the thought of gift-giving to Rose, Rose had only smiled evilly and suggested that Rey give him a kiss because God knows that would make him happy, but Rey wanted something real to give him, and not just rely on how starry-eyed Poe got when they did kiss)

Her stomach hurt a little at the thought of giving Poe something secondhand, but she wasn’t sure what else she could afford, so she pushed that lingering sense of shame away from herself, that shame she’d felt since she’d been a thin, pinched-stomach six-year-old who realized she was poor, and decided to hunt the shelves a little longer than planned to find, at the very least, an idea of what to give him.

The scarf was acquired quickly, a warm, woolen monstrosity that looked hand-knitted, no doubt by someone’s mum or nana, donated as quickly as possible; it was only a dollar fifty, which meant she had at least eight dollars to spare on something else.

Broken toys, old plates, odd paintings: Rey perused the shelves slowly, putting her hands on anything that seemed remotely valuable or interesting. She didn’t think Poe would want a salt and pepper shaker set that looked like rubber ducks, but they did make her smile, and she set them back carefully. There were some paintings that were clearly by someone’s child, and they made her smile as well - they were actually quite pretty, she thought as she turned down the electronics aisle, even if whoever donated them couldn’t see a use for them anymore.

She got distracted by the mini convection oven someone had abandoned, no doubt because they hadn’t realized what parts needed replacing; Rey eyed the coils on the back, figuring how much it would cost to buy the replacement, against how much the other parts would fetch if she scrapped it, before she shook herself and kept walking. She didn’t work for Plutt anymore. She hadn’t in almost ten years. No need to scrap things and put them together until her cracked and dry fingers bled in the cold air, no need to scramble to find worth in junk -

Her eyes were watering as she neared the end of the aisle, and her constant anxiety surged as she remembered why she was looking for a gift in the first place; she compared all the lovely, nice, new things Poe had in his apartment to the junk she was picking through, and realized she might not be able to give him anything . Rey swallowed back the strange guilt and queasiness that accompanied it, and adjusted her backpack, ready to go pay for the scarf up front.

She was glad that Poe had given her the jacket because even beyond how it helped her stay warm, and how it was beautiful and thoughtful, and how it reminded her of him whenever she wore it, it was also a very, very nice jacket, and this was the first time Rey had ever walked around a store by herself without at least one employee looking at her as though she were going to steal something, even though she hadn’t stolen anything since she was a very desperate child.

As she headed to the cash register, something caught her eye, and her steps slowed. Rey crouched to examine the find, her heart skipping a beat suddenly, and she pushed a few figurines and puzzles to the side to grab the item.

It was gorgeous, and it was still in good condition, and - Rey checked the price, and saw that it had an orange sticker, which meant it was on sale, half-off, at only six dollars. 

“What are the odds?” She whispered to herself, “And do they even know what you’re worth?” 

It was truly wonderful, and Rey felt hopeful for the first time since she’d started pondering what to give Poe for Valentine’s Day. The grin that came to her face was involuntary and wild and happy; Rey hugged her find close to her chest, as though afraid it would disappear, and almost skipped to the register to pay for her two items.

The walk back to Darklighter felt much faster this time around, and Rey carried Poe’s present in her arms. She was positive it wasn’t just the scarf looped round her neck that made her feel so warm.


California, Afternoon

“No.” Poe shook his head and took a step back, glaring at Kylo Ren as he did. “Fuck no.”

“Is there a problem, Poe?” Jackson called out from his chair, and Poe choked on a laugh.

“Like a hundred and one of them. Do you have any idea who this is?” He jabbed his thumb at Kylo as he shot a glare towards Jackson.

Jackson frowned and crossed his legs, leaning forward. “He’s the son of your co-star, I figured-”

“You figured wrong, pal.” Poe rubbed his clammy hands on the borrowed jacket and laughed, almost hysterically. “Considering he isn’t allowed within fifteen feet of my co-star-”

“What?” Jackson’s face stilled. “Is that true, Kylo?”

“You used your dad’s fame, but you won’t even use his name?” Poe sneered up at the taller man. “You’re a fucking coward - since when do you even act?”

“Really, Dameron, there’s no need to get hysterical,” Kylo said, his face oddly impassive. “We’ve had disagreements in the past-”

“Disagreements!” Poe barked out another laugh and took another step back, mostly to stop himself from throat punching the guy. “You call -” He coughed and shook his head, aware of the cameras on them suddenly. Who’s to say they weren’t recording this.

The last thing he needed with either story being released, going viral. He couldn’t do that to Han. He couldn’t do that to Rey.

“Let’s take a break?” Jackson suggested, getting out of his chair, and signaling for an assistant. “You two work this out, but… don’t lose too much of the aggression because honestly that was the best screen test I’ve seen-”

“Fuck you,” Poe muttered so that Jackson couldn’t hear it; he stomped off to the corner of the set, well aware that Kylo was walking behind him slowly. “And don’t you dare follow me, you sick son of a-”

“Son of a what, Poe?”

He paused, halfway off the set, as Leia Organa came around the corner, holding a copy of the script and a pen tucked behind her ear. Her steel grey hair hung over her shoulder, and she regarded him, and then Kylo, with a level of calm only belied by the flash of pain in her eyes when she saw her son.

“Leia.” His voice cracked, and he was torn between relief at seeing her, and anxiety because what else did she know? She looked at him with concern, and offered him a wrinkled hand, which he took without thinking.

“Ben,” she greeted her son calmly, like Poe hadn’t seen her cry for hours over his decisions in the past. “Would you wait for a moment, so we can talk?”

“Picking Dameron first, typical,” Kylo muttered, shaking his head with an ugly look on his face.

“I’m going to talk with Poe and help him calm down because I just watched the play-back of your test, and I feel like he has more cause to be upset right now.” Ever-judicious, Leia offered her son a small, tired smile. “I’m not picking, Ben. I’d be happy to talk to you.”

“Well, I can’t say the same.” Kylo shook his head and scoffed. “Have fun talking to the son you always wanted.” He stomped off in the other direction, kicking a chair as he stormed through the crew of assistants and writers; Poe barely watched him before turning to Leia, who was looking up at him sadly.

“Come with me.” She walked to a small office around the corner, and she closed the door behind them as Poe sat in an empty chair. Leia found a spot sitting on stacks of scripts and they looked at each other for a long time before either one said anything.

“I can’t work with him.” Poe looked out the window towards the set. “Not after … God, Leia, you were there that day. Han almost died.”

“I’m aware,” Leia’s lips quirked slightly as she grabbed a script from the desk and sighed heavily. “I want to support this project; one of the head writers is a girl who used to intern for me. Amilyn’s producing” - she smiled at Poe’s snort of irritation, but he’d always wondered at their camaraderie. Other than both being women in a shitty, male industry, he wasn’t sure of their connection. “And Jackson Ryan did promise to-”

“Fuck Jackson.” Poe snapped, and Leia fixed him with a stern glance. “Sorry, ma’am. It’s just - fuck him. He let Kylo-” Leia’s eyes closed in pain as he said her son’s chosen name, “put his hands on me. You know that’s a no-go - a torture scene is bad enough to get through, and I was wondering when Snap told me that was the scene they wanted to test today, but if you don’t trust your scene partner? Fuck it. And fuck him for letting it happen.”

“Your anger isn’t misplaced,” Leia admitted, “But this is a huge project-”

“I won’t work with him.”

“I thought as much.” Leia sighed and crossed her legs, her soft, purple, velvet pants almost glowing in the light of the office. “Trust takes a lot longer to heal than a leg.” Poe winced. “Sorry, that was inappropriate.”

 “Why was he even hired?” Poe rubbed his eyes, tired. “When he fucked with that stunt, Leia, I figured he’d just be banned from set, and that was it. I didn’t think he’d try to switch to acting, or I would have told everyone, every single person, to make sure he didn’t do it again some day to someone else.”

“And I would have respected that decision as much as I appreciated your willingness to keep it quiet.” Leia pursed her lips. “Han was much more forgiving than I would have been. Remember, dear, he was the one who asked you for your discretion.”

“Because more press would have made healing a broken back that much more excruciating?” Poe clenched his fists, angered by even the thought of that day.

Ben Solo, as he’d accepted his name a few years ago, had walked onto set that day in 2016, a sophomore in college, and, furious when he wasn’t given the due ‘respect’ by his father and his father’s co-star, had tampered with their safety harnesses. At least, that’s what the internal investigation found - security footage of Ben being the only person near the set before they ran the shot as the evidence of what he’d done. Poe had torn his ACL and broken his leg in the resulting malfunction, shattered it and any hope he might have had of one day leaving acting and going into flying like his mother had - his leg wouldn’t sustain the G-force of space flight. He had been 22, and scared shitless, but he’d more or less recovered.

Han was 60 and less resilient; the accident had almost killed him. As it was, it had left him with a broken back, and a son too ashamed to talk to him, let alone apologize. Ben had snarled some petty excuse before leaving, and as far as Poe knew, that was the last time he’d spoken to his parents in the same room for almost four years.

Poe was starting to think it wasn’t a coincidence that the accident happened only six months after Reginald Snoke took Ben on as a client, at the time supporting his swimming career and talking a big game about an easy transition into modeling. 

Han had begged Poe not to tell the press why they were both left with injuries; out of respect and affection, Poe had agreed. But now.

“He shouldn’t be on a set,” Poe told Leia flatly. “Especially an action movie where there’s plenty of chance for him to take his grievances out on his colleagues. He could actually kill someone.”

“I’m aware.”

“And, like that’s even the only shitty thing he’s done.” Poe laughed bitterly and shook his head. 

Did she know? Should he tell her? How do you tell a mother her son is a rapist-

“Poe?” Leia reached out and touched the side of his knee delicately to draw his attention back to her. “Has my son tried to talk to you since that day?”

“Not exactly.” Poe crossed his arms and felt his leg start to bounce anxiously. He gnawed on his lip before answering. “I’ve … seen him on campus.”

“This year?” Leia folded her hands in her lap and sat very still. Not a single expression showed in her face; Poe remembered that she’d been a very popular actress before she switched to directing. 

“This year. December. November.” Poe wiped a hand down his face. “He’s … Leia, I don’t know what-” his hands were clenched into fists, and he felt his shoulders trembling. “I don’t know how to tell you-”

“You know?” Leia nodded softly and looked to the side. “That poor girl. Has he tried approaching her?”

The world tilted sickeningly. Leia did know, then. “Yes.” He picked at a stray thread on his borrowed jacket. “She said he wasn’t even supposed to be on campus after...” When Leia didn’t say anything, he tacked on mercilessly, “But I guess he’s a lot of places he’s not supposed to be these days.”

“I didn’t know he was reading for the part, and I certainly didn’t know he was asked to read opposite to you today.” Leia stood and gave him a steely look. “I would not have done that to you, and I am horrified Jackson let it happen the way it did.”

“People keep letting things happen,” Poe whispered, shaking his head. “And - and people get hurt. I don’t even know the full story of what he did to her, but if … if I’d told more people when he hurt me and Han, if I’d been more honest, maybe … maybe he wouldn’t have been in the position to, to-” He broke off, unable to say the words for the nausea he felt.

“You will kill yourself if you try to play that game, Poe. All we can do is move on with the intent to do better.” Leia sat in the chair next to him, looking more tired than he could ever remember. “When did you find out?” 

“Before we started dating.” If that surprised Leia, she didn’t show it. “After I fell in love with her.”

“I need more of a timeline than that,” Leia pointed out, dryly amused.

That got him to half-smile before he remembered how he found out. “Kylo approached me at a party a week before Christmas with … Snoke.” Leia hissed through her teeth. “Told me some wild story about how Rey tried to manipulate Kylo by lying. Didn’t believe it. Found an article about it, only one, and put the rest together.” He let out an angry breath, and Leia nodded, putting her hand on his arm, in an attempt to offer some comfort.

“I was on campus quite a bit last year. I don’t think you were aware, but… my brother took on her case in an effort to support her through the worst. She doesn’t have many resources, so when Snoke’s team tried to turn the table on her, she retracted her story. Luke was there to make sure nothing legal could stick to her - accusations of slander and attempts to get her expelled when she, understandably, didn’t respond well to the pressure of Snoke’s team. The local police department were horrible to her in questioning because the sheriff's son is regrettably friends with my son.” 

“I don’t … really want to learn more about it right now,” Poe mumbled, and Leia patted his arm again. “I - I just don’t want to know anything she doesn’t want me to know.” He swallowed and looked up at Leia, his eyes hot with tears. “How much … do you know?”

“I helped my brother go through the files, with Rey and her uncle’s permission.” Leia looked distant. Sad. “I know … almost all of it, except for the parts that Rey won’t share with anyone. It’s…” Leia broke off and cleared her throat, her typically serene disposition (which normally would only be interrupted by anger) shattered for once.

She looked, for once, every one of her years. Tired. Grey. Lost. Poe reached out and grabbed her hand, squeezing it firmly. 

He’d wondered for years, watching stories break on the news, reading about them, hearing them through the grapevine, exactly what kind of person would raise a son to be like that; who could fail so spectacularly that they raised a son to hurt someone else like that, to violate them, to try to destroy them - Shara had been such a wonderful mother, he’d reasoned, talking to him about consent as early as five, when he remembered her sitting him down at the park and telling him why he should have stopped when the girl he was playing with said she was tired (and he’d insisted on continuing to chase her anyway, having too much fun to stop). She hadn’t yelled. Hadn’t screamed. Just sat him down and firmly talked about people’s right to say no, their right to feel safe in their body, their right to have their decisions respected.

Poe had always wondered who could fail in raising a child to the point where they’d force themselves on someone - and, in that moment, he didn’t doubt that there were parents who raised their children to be entitled, to be cruel, to be greedy. But he knew Leia, knew the heart of her, had seen her work, and watched her, at times, with Ben growing up, as she balanced her career and motherhood as best as she could, with love and patience and a constant determination that was admirable even from the outside.

Whatever had gone wrong inside Ben Solo was not his mother’s fault. It was certainly not his father’s fault, his father who still cried when he thought no one was looking, when he pulled the frayed photograph from his wallet and looked at the picture of him holding his toddler son. Ben, as late as fifteen, following around eighteen-year-old Poe with a surly sort of curiosity, had been a nice if hot-tempered boy, prone to jealousy but certainly not to cruelty. No. Whatever happened to Ben Solo, whatever had led him to hurt Rey, and Poe and Han, hadn’t been Leia and Han’s fault. That much was certain.

“I’m going to call Han.” Leia patted Poe’s hand with her free one and he let her go so she could pull her phone from her bag. “And ask if it’s alright that I share the details of the accident with Jackson.”

“You don’t have to-” Poe muttered, his neck burning, but Leia shook her head. 

“We should have said something a long time ago.” She sighed, grieved again. “I suppose we were hoping we could bring our son back home. It was a mother’s hope. A foolish hope.”

“Hope isn’t foolish,” Poe said, and Leia smiled at him sadly. “It isn’t. I … I understand, Leia.”

“You’re a very good man to understand, especially when you know the worst of what he’s done. And, I’m guessing you don’t want to share with Jackson the details of what my son has done on your campus?” Poe shook his head, feeling sick at the thought of sharing Rey’s story without her permission. “Then I’ll call Han. There’s no reason you should be blocked from this movie because of our family’s need to avoid more scandal. Excuse me.”

Leia walked out of the office, her phone pressed to her ear, and Poe let out a breath and rubbed his hands over his eyes.

He felt terrible for Leia, he really did: scandal had in fact rocked her family horribly when she was a child, when her mother was killed in a car crash caused by her father. They’d been divorced at the time, and police were never able to figure out what compelled Padme Amidala to get in the car that night. Leia had emancipated herself from her father at fourteen, due to accusations of abuse, going to live with the Organas, and had even taken their last name. Her twin brother, Luke, had stayed with their father, who’d beat him to an inch of his life on more than one occasion and destroyed his hand in another horrifying car accident. 

Poe shuddered and thanked every star that he’d had Shara and Kes as parents. 

But, as badly as he felt for the Skywalker family, he couldn’t muster an inch of sympathy for Kylo Ren. His stomach lurched again at the thought that he was so close, and Poe couldn’t believe how he’d avoided trying to kill Kylo when that helmet came off. This was the man who’d hurt the person he loved, who stalked her and belittled her and caused her to have screaming nightmares a year later. Poe had never hated a single person in his entire life. He’d disliked plenty, sure, but figured they had some use in the world, some person that they made happy, so he couldn’t hate them.

He hated Kylo. Ben. He hated that man, and if he saw him again, he wasn’t sure how he’d stop himself from trying to take him down in any way possible. 

He needed to, though. The last thing anyone needed was to have the pop news cycle dominated by reports of Poe Dameron Attempts to Kill Son of Co-Star , if only because it meant people would go digging, and there were people whose job it was to dig, and those people would all too easily connect the dots and find that Rey was Poe’s girlfriend, and Rey had been connected to Kylo/Ben in police reports, and Ben had been in the local paper after he’d been arrested for criminal battery and sexual assault. 

If Poe could do it, half out of his mind with anxiety, then someone like Terex could all too easily.

His head sunk down until it hung, Poe struggling to take a breath without choking on anger - he was so close to him, the person who’d changed Rey’s life for the worse and shattered her freshman year, and his hands were basically tied.

The worst part is, despite Leia’s attempts to make it right, he wasn’t sure Jackson would give a shit if she warned him about Kylo. These things got swept aside all too easily, and if all they had to tell him was that he’d raped someone? Jackson probably wouldn’t even blink before asking the best way to hide it. 

Why do I even want to act? Poe asked himself as he wiped his mouth and stood shakily. Thirty minutes had passed, and he should at the very least go out there and save face. But why do I care? Why participate in a fucked system? 

He remembered though, the little boy on Halloween, who’d spoken to him in Spanish, as his father shook Poe’s hand. He remembered the first film Leia directed, the first film directed by a woman to break the top 10 highest grossing films, his first movie-acting gig. There were important reasons to stay acting, so, Poe figured there was a more important question to ask himself:

How do I fight a broken system from the inside? 


Rey bounced on her feet nervously, waiting for Poe to stop by Darklighter; he’d texted her from the airport saying he’d be there in an hour, but there was no sign of him. There were, however, snowflakes starting to fall from the sky, and Rey was debating the merits of waiting for Poe inside.

She was about to do just that when she heard the distinctive engine of Black One; Rey turned from the step and smiled wide, waving as Poe pulled up to the curb about half a block down from the entrance of the dorm. Rey shoved her hands in the pockets of her jacket and tucked her chin into the scarf, heading towards the motorcycle as Poe climbed off and took his helmet off, shaking his hair out in a way that would be vain if it didn’t look so damn good.

His face was unreadable when he saw her; he set his helmet down, not bothering to lock it like normal, and walked towards her, his eyes intense. Rey’s heart skipped a beat when she saw that intensity, and her stomach swooped, not unpleasant in the least. “Hi,” she said, her breath coming out in a small cloud on the grey Sunday afternoon. “How was-”

Poe framed her face in his hands and studied her face for a long moment; surprised, Rey stopped talking and half-smiled up at him, wondering if he was going to kiss her. She really hoped he would.

Instead, Poe’s face twisted as though in pain, and she switched to a worried frown.

“Was it okay?” She asked quietly, snow starting to build up on Poe’s shoulders. She brushed it off slowly and then slid her hand to rest on his bicep; he didn’t drop his hands from her face, only stroked his thumb over her cheekbone. “Did you get the part?”

“I - I turned it down.” Poe sounded upset, and Rey was confused. He’d been so excited about the audition; why would he turn it- 

She was distracted when Poe let out a breath and leaned in slowly; but, instead of kissing her, he rested his forehead against hers. It was as though Rey could feel the raw emotions pouring off of him, tension and anger and sadness, and she brought her own chilly hands to rest on his shoulder blades. She didn’t know how long they stood there in front of the dorm, but Poe pulled away slightly to kiss her forehead, and switched to holding her instead; it was warm and safe in his arms, so Rey shrugged and figured he needed this embrace for some reason. She certainly wasn’t complaining.

“What happened?” She asked eventually, her concerned curiosity winning out over her willingness to stand as long as he needed to. 

“Long story.” Poe pulled back and caught her hands. “Rather tell it in private. Yours or mine?”

Her heart throbbed in anxiety, and Rey lifted a shoulder. “Yours, I guess.” Beatrice would be there at least, and she figured Poe might need the extra set of paws on hand to help him feel better. Poe nodded, and as he turned back to his bike, Rey tugged on his hand, and he spun around to face her again.

“Can I-” She laughed nervously. “Would it be okay if we-”

Poe frowned, not understanding for a second before he smiled and leaned in. Their kiss was all too brief, and Rey wanted more, but when he pulled away and winked at her, she felt her toes curling in her boots all the same.

“I missed you, Sunshine,” he said earnestly, and Rey privately sighed in relief. Whatever was making him act weird probably wasn’t him about to dump her, then, if they were even officially dating. 

“I missed you too,” she said, and took his offered hand when he climbed onto the bike; she slid into place behind him and locked her hands around his middle. Then, they were driving through the dreary snow; but, Rey felt better knowing that at least they were together.


It was only two days until Valentine’s Day, and while normally that thought would fill her with either irritation or a strange numb loneliness, Rey felt partially excited for the totally made-up holiday.

Poe had been somber since his return from California, and Rey wasn’t surprised: if she needed another reason to hate him, she didn’t even need one powerful enough as the fact that he’d hurt Poe Dameron. Poe had been so careful in telling her the details of what had happened, that he’d looked honestly surprised when she’d snarled at the revelation that Ben had been behind the accident that had destroyed Poe’s knee years ago. 

“I don’t mean to upset you,” Poe had said carefully, “Only explain why I couldn’t take the role-”

“That Jackson is bloody idiot!” Rey had been so upset, Bea had hopped off her lap with a whine. “And he should - should - he should be fined, or something, for hearing all that from Leia and still not caring enough to fire him -”

They’d sat together on the couch for an hour after the conversation, taking turns kissing each other’s cheek, but they’d talked about it, and Rey had tried to hide her surprise when Poe said that he could have gotten over the sabotage, but never over what Kylo did to her.

“But I’m a nobody,” Rey had said softly, “I don’t even matter to Hollywood, or -”

“You matter.” Poe had stopped her at once. “You matter a whole hell of a lot to me, but also you matter. You’re not a nobody,” he’d kissed her forehead, “You’re Rey,” and then her cheek, “And I love you so fucking much. Trust me, having to turn down a jackass director and his shitty movie is the last thing I’m upset about right now.”

She’d kissed him for real after that, and Bea had even returned to the couch to join in the cuddling. 

That had been days ago, and now Valentine’s was two days away, and Rey had a chance to cheer Poe up with a gift; she worked on it when she could, borrowing paint from an all-too-eager-to-help Yolo Ziff, and borrowing glue from a lab to make sure the parts would hold. This was going to be a good day, and she hadn’t even thought about any other way to make it special when she heard Jess and Rose giggling together.

“You didn’t,” Jess was giggling, and Rey peeked over from where she was curled up on Jess’s bed with her Calc textbook open on her lap. The two girls were huddled over Rose’s laptop.

“I did.” Rose grinned at her, her cheeks slightly flushed. “Too much?”

“That man’s eyeballs are gonna fall right out of his head.” Jess patted Rose’s shoulders excitedly. “Do it!”

“Do you want something similar to surprise Kay with?”

“Oh, hush.” Jess shoved Rose’s arm, embarrassed, and Rey smiled.

“Are you two finally official?”

Jess opened her mouth to answer, and Rose shoved her arm. “They’re officially disgustingly cute. I saw Kaydel feeding Jess at lunch the other day and it was a hundred percent more sensual than Blue is the Warmest Color-”

“Gross.” Jess tugged on Rose’s ponytail, laughing. “You’re so gross and that movie is too-”

“What are you looking at?” Rey closed her textbook and peered over interestedly. “Are you surprising Finn?”

“No, I can’t show you.” Rose held the laptop closer to her body, looking worried. “He’s like, your brother-”

“It’s a sex thing,” Jess confirmed, and Rey felt her face heat up. “She’s giving him a special Valentine’s gift-”

“Shut up,” Rose cackled with laughter though, pushing at Jess with her foot. “Now you’re being gross-”

“But it’s truuuuue,” Jess sang, poking Rose in the arm.

“Can I see?” Rey tucked her hair behind her ear, and then folded her hands together. This was normal to talk about, right? Jess and Rose were her friends, and they were giggling over Rose’s sex life (with Finn, who was like Rey’s brother, so, a little gross), and Rey could giggle with them. There was nothing wrong with that.

Rose spun the laptop around, her eyes closed as she groaned, and Rey clapped a hand to her mouth.

“That’s … a lot of straps,” she said dazedly, and Jess smiled at her kindly as Rose squealed with laughter. “How do you even get into that-”

“Uh, probably with help,” Rose admitted, and Jess snorted.

“Rey and I are not helping you get into your domme get-up, girlfriend-”

“This is not for dommes!” Rose turned the computer back around and typed quickly before pointing at the screen. “ This is for dommes!”

“My eyes!” Jess clapped a hand over her eyes, moaning dramatically. “Oh, I’ll never look at Finn the same way again-”

Rey wrinkled her nose and ducked her head, her fingers itching to reach for her textbook, to hold it as a shield. She did just that as the two girls giggled across from her, and she took a second to collect herself before she cleared her throat.

They both stopped laughing and looked up at her. 

“Do you think…” Rey blinked twice and tapped her thumb on the textbook in front of her chest. “... Do you think Poe… expects-”

“No.” Jess was at her side in a second. “No, he doesn’t expect anything, babe, he doesn’t.” Rose sat on the bed next to them a few seconds later, her laptop closed and her expression worried.

“Finn and I have been having sex for a while,” Rose pointed out, “Even before we were boyfriend and girlfriend, but that doesn’t mean you have to-”

“He’ll be happy if you just smile at him, Rey, really, the way he talks about you-”

“-and a relationship doesn’t need to have sex to be healthy-”

“I don’t even know if we’re … in a relationship.” Rey admitted, face burning. “We’ve kissed maybe … twenty times, but like ... “ her face heated up more, “no tongue, or anything, and … and I don’t have a lot of experience with this sort of thing, and-”

“Oh my god.” Jess clapped a hand to her forehead and groaned. “Are you telling me that Dameron hasn’t DTR-ed?” 

“I guess not,” Rey laughed awkwardly, and Rose reached around Jess to rub her shoulder.

“He probably thinks he doesn’t have to because he’s so fucking in love with you. Like, he told you he loved you, right?” Rey nodded. “Yeah, he probably thinks, it’s obvious that Rey’s my girlfriend -”

“-and the center of his universe-” Jess offered, and Rose nodded emphatically in agreement. 

“- and the center of my universe, so I don’t have to worry about her worrying that we’re in a relationship! Like, he’s pretty emotional for a guy-”

“-for anyone-” Jess muttered.

“-For anyone, but that doesn’t mean he does everything right. If you want to make sure you’re his girlfriend, just ask, and I guarantee he’ll cry for thirty seconds and then write you some sort of passionate ballad where he declares you to be his lady love for all eternity.”

Rey laughed at the silly image, some of the knot loosening in her chest. “You’re right,” she decided, “I could just talk to him.”

“And as for sex?” Jess squeezed her ankle gently with her warm hand. “Poe won’t push you for anything until you’re ready. And if I’m wrong on that? I will personally murder him.”

“And I’ll hide the body,” Rose chimed in, and Rey felt the knot almost entirely dissolve. 

“I think I want … that with him,” Rey said slowly, and Jess squeezed her ankle again, this time with a soft smile. “But … I’m not sure if … if it will go okay… but Poe is … he’s good. And he’s obviously hot.” She was blushing again. “And I do … want more with him. At least I want to try.”

Jess wrapped her arms around Rey, and Rose said, “Maybe include that when you confirm that you’re his girlfriend?”

“And then we’ll buy you sexy lingerie so you can be like our Mistress Tico over here,” Jess teased, and then jolted as Rose kicked her in the butt. They all dissolved into giggles, and Rey hugged Jess back, with Rose jumping in on the pile with a happy shout.

Rey left Jess’s room with a bounce in her step, and she settled down for bed and her nightly phone call with Poe with a silly grin on her face.

The phone rang at eleven, right on time, and Rey picked up after the first ring.

“Hi!” She said, still smiling brightly.

“Hey, Sunshine.” Poe’s voice was warm, and she closed her eyes, imagining that he was right there next to her. “You sound happy.”

“I am happy,” Rey sighed and tilted her head back on the wall. “Had a good day.”

“Good. I’m happy that you had a good day, sweetheart.” Rey shivered slightly, imagining that same word in a different context, maybe while Poe was kissing her, and maybe with his hands drifting- her stomach clenched uncomfortably, and Rey frowned, subconsciously pushing the thought away. 

Maybe don’t think about that right now.

“I’m excited about Friday,” she said hesitantly, nervous now at the thought of everything, without the immediate support of Jess and Rose. Get it together. 

“Me too,” Poe paused, “You aren’t worried about the weather?”

“The weather?” Rey wrinkled her nose. “What about the weather.”

“Supposed to storm. They’re saying three inches before midnight?”

“Oh.” Rey shrugged. “That isn’t too bad. I guess we’ll just have to wrap up early?”

“Whatever you’re comfortable with, Sunshine. I have some good stuff planned, if I do say so myself.”

“Is that so?” Rey grinned. “Any chance at a preview?”

“Well, I’m gonna say … there’s going to be food…”

“I like that.”

“Mhm. Thought so. And there’s gonna be fun … and, if I’m lucky, maybe even a kiss?”

“Play your cards right, Dameron, and you might get your wish,” Rey teased, and Poe laughed endearingly, the sound coming through warm and rough over the phone. Her stomach twisted again, that swooping feeling she was getting used to where Poe was concerned, and Rey pulled at a snag in her leggings. “There was something I meant to ask you - I thought I might wait til Friday, but - just so we’re on the same page?”

“Of course, Sunshine. Ask anything you want.”

“Are we … I mean, are you ….” Rey trailed off, feeling silly suddenly. “Are you my… boyfriend?”

Poe was quiet for a second, and Rey panicked. “It’s okay if no,” she insisted, “if you don’t … like labels, or whatever, I was just wondering because … because Jess seemed to think you were, and I’ve never… never had a boyfriend before, so I wasn’t sure … if we were -”

“I love you,” Poe interrupted, sounding hoarse and disbelieving. “I’m so in love with you, and I am the biggest fucking idiot.”

“What?” Rey paused in her rambling, taken aback enough that she stopped panicking for a second.

“I assumed … and I shouldn’t have … god, Rey, I’d rather ask you in person, but if you need to hear this because you’re walking around in the world thinking I don’t want a label or more than just … casual, where you’re concerned - Rey, would you ever consider having a total fucking idiot for a boyfriend?”

“Hey now,” Rey said, her smile back and bigger than ever, her cheeks hurting from it. “I don’t want to hear my boyfriend call himself a total fucking idiot. Even if he is silly sometimes.”

“Right.” Poe laughed softly and shook his head. “Of course I want to be your boyfriend. And I want you to be my girlfriend. Of course I do. I love you, Sunshine.”

“I love you,” Rey whispered back, her cheeks burning now from happiness. She squirmed slightly and dragged her feet over the covers. 

“And I’m excited for Friday,” Poe continued. “And I’m excited to take my girlfriend on a date, and I’m excited that you’re my girlfriend.”

“Me too,” Rey giggled, “To all of it, only, make it boyfriend.”

They both laughed, and Rey felt young again, like something had sprung up around her and was blocking her from the idea of any sort of bad thing. Her chest still ached in a certain way when she thought too long about how easily Rose and Jess talked about sex, and she knew that, even with her best efforts, that might be something she couldn’t have yet, but she could try.

She wanted to try, and she had a boyfriend who would support her trying, and she loved him, and more importantly she trusted him.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Rey whispered, the kind of happy that wasn’t giddy but serious, and she smiled when Poe sighed.

“Tomorrow’s too far away,” he muttered, and she slid her feet around the sheets, the bubble in her chest expanding. “But yeah, Sunshine. I’ll see you tomorrow. I hope you sleep well.”

“You too.” 

They both waited a few seconds before Rey hung up, and she fell back onto the bed, grinning up at the ceiling like it had told some spectacular joke.

“Friday,” Rey whispered, curling up under her blanket and closing her eyes. Friday. 

 

Chapter Text

The clouds hung low and heavy-grey over Takodana. The trees seemed to grow grey with the rest of the world, the evergreens acting as the few and far spots of color in the surrounding forest. Rey shivered as she hurried through campus that Friday afternoon, exhilarated that she had finished classes for the day, on the phone with Obi.

He’d asked after Poe, albeit a bit cheekily, asking if her handsome fellow had been treating her well, and Rey had blushed and hummed, which made Obi laugh. “I’ve been catching up with Kes, Poe’s father,” Obi interjected casually, causing Rey to squeak and skitter as she crossed the street towards the store. “And he thinks we should come out there for Spring Break.”

“Does he?” Rey stumbled up the curb and into the Kroger. “Does he now?”

Obi had seemed gleeful at her shock, and after Rey hung up, she was still thinking about how attractive that offer sounded. She’d never been further west than Ohio, and California looked beautiful, based on the photos Poe had sent her. Part of her worried that Poe might not want her to visit his home, but then she remembered that he’d suggested it, months ago, when they were on the phone during Winter Break. Poe had told her he wanted to show her the stars near his home, and Rey’s heart fluttered at the thought of it.

She wasted an idle fifteen minutes wandering the card display and the gift wrapping before deciding that she could make do with the newspapers she’d collected to wrap his present, and selected instead to buy him a small box of chocolate. Poe had a huge sweet tooth, something she loved about him- what a silly thing to love about someone, Rey thought as she forked over six dollars (six!) for eight chocolates, but she did love it about him because it was just so … endearing, how his face lit up when he saw candy or anything sugar-based. Rey eyed the 48-piece chocolate wistfully, but shook her head and decided to be happy with the small box and the gift she already had ready to go. 

This all left her with about two hours before she was to meet Poe, so Rey raced back to Darklighter and wrapped her gift carefully, tucking in the letter she’d written (not nearly as good as Poe’s, but she was pretty sure saying I love you to him was the most emotional speech she’d ever managed to make, and that was three words), and carefully placing her chocolates in her backpack with her scarf and her purse. She wasn’t supposed to bring her purse- Poe had already insisted with an intense earnestness that he’d be treating her to ‘whatever she wanted, and then some’ tonight- but growing up in a group home made Rey leery of leaving any important belongings behind. 

That was why she always carried her passport, her birth certificate, her bank card, and deodorant and a toothbrush. Rey refused to leave anything important behind because she was so used to being forced to move, even though she’d had a very stable home life with Obi for the last decade of her life. Trust came hard to her; which was why she was so surprised she’d grown to trust Poe Dameron so quickly. It was like that with Obi, to be fair. She’d been wary of him for the first few months after he found her, but he’d won her over one day, not with a big gesture, but with countless small ones that showed her day in and day out that he’d be there for her no matter what.

Finn, too. Rey had trusted him almost immediately, faster than she’d ever trusted anyone. Jess had earned Rey’s trust, and the trial by fire last spring had only solidified it. Rey zipped up her backpack and put a hand to her flushed cheek, dizzy suddenly at the thought that she had so many people now in her life that she trusted, really trusted. Adding onto the list were Luke and now even Rose. 

“It’s a good life,” she whispered to herself fiercely, nodding before standing up and shouldering her bag. “A good one, Kenobi.” 

Her nerves fluttered slightly in her stomach as she locked her dorm behind her. She tried to tell herself to ignore it, but that only made the butterflies worse; this was supposed to be a good night, she told herself, walking out into the falling dusk outside, but … hadn’t she told herself that before?

It’s not like that. He’s not like that. It isn’t … 

Snow fell lightly around her, and Rey shivered as she waited under a lamp post. She kept an eye and an ear out for Black One, but every few seconds, she shivered again and pushed back the intrusive thoughts of this could happen again, you could let this happen again, you never know a person -

“I trust Poe,” she whispered to herself. And Finn knew where they were going, and Jess too, and Obi knew the basic outline. Poe was kind, and they would have a great night, and -

Black One rounded the corner, and Rey relaxed at the actual physical presence of Poe. It was easier to remember that he was good when he was right there; and, sure enough, he parked the bike and pulled the helmet free, giving her the biggest, warmest smile she’d ever seen. Rey smiled back, the tension loosening in her shoulders, and awkwardly waved around the foot-long gift in her arms. 

“Hi.” Poe kissed her cheek and pulled away quickly with a soft smile. “How are you?’

“Better now that you’re here,” Rey said honestly, and Poe ducked his head.

“You’re getting smoother by the second.” Poe looked down at the package in her hands and smiled. “Is that … for me?”

“It’s for my other boyfriend,” Rey teased, pleased by the way Poe bashfully ducked his head. “He’s not as cute as you, though.”

“God, you’re amazing.” Poe kissed her cheek again, and Rey turned her head and kissed him for real. Poe made a happy noise in his throat, and that made Rey shiver, but Poe pulled away. “You cold, Sunshine?”

“No.” Rey shivered again. “...Maybe.”

“Let’s get going, then.” Poe eyed his motorcycle doubtfully. “I should really get a car.”

“Just to drive your cold girlfriend around?” 

“Just to drive my cold girlfriend around,” Poe confirmed, walking back to the bike.

Rey thought for a moment and then carefully put the gift in her backpack, zipping it up so only the very top was sticking out. 

“Do you wanna swing by my apartment first so you can put that somewhere safe?” Poe asked from the seat. Then, he rubbed his neck. “Or, uh, we can come back here after dinner, sorry, just assumed-”

“We said we were going to watch a movie, Dameron, and your place has a couch, a TV, and a dog.” Rey sounded more confident than she felt. “So yes, we should probably go to your place.”

“And you’re sure you don’t want to invite Jess?” Poe stroked his gloved thumb over the throttle thoughtfully, staring at the pavement. “She’ll bring Kay, and they’ll be super into each other, but then you’ll … I just want you to feel comfortable, Sunshine.”

“I know.” Rey climbed on the bike behind him and kissed the corner of his jaw. “And I appreciate it. But I’d rather spend tonight with just you?”

It was Poe’s turn to shiver, and Rey felt a strange coil of power in her stomach she’d never felt before. The idea that she could make him shiver … hm. Rey wanted to explore that again, as soon as possible. “Let’s drop this off at your place before dinner?” Rey asked quietly, her voice lower even to her own ears, and Poe nodded quickly.

But, when they got to his apartment, he handed her his keys. “I’ll stay out here and you can hide the gift wherever you want. Just somewhere Bea can’t find it because she’ll try to eat whatever it is.”

“She couldn’t eat this,” Rey protested, mystified, and Poe snorted.

“She’ll find a way.” Poe tilted his head towards the door and didn’t move the bike. “Go on, Kenobi. If I go up there with you, I’ll probably try to find an excuse to cuddle with you the rest of the night and I did have an actual plan.”

“Cuddling sounds like a plan,” Rey pouted, and Poe only shook his head, a rueful smile. Rey rolled her eyes and ran upstairs to hide the gift as suggested, and soon she was back on the bike, her arms around Poe as they sped through the quickly darkening campus, the snow still lazily falling around them.

Maybe she should have felt cold, on the back of Poe’s motorcycle in nothing but a leather jacket, a pair of jeans, and her arms around his waist, but heat always radiated out of Poe Dameron, making her feel warmer than she had when she was standing still waiting for him.

They ended up at Wickett’s, an all-night diner that Rey had been to once or twice, and she beamed up at the familiar, rustic sign. “They have amazing pancakes,” she gushed as they walked in, holding hands. “Once I ate-”

“Ten in one sitting.” Poe smirked at her shocked face. “I asked Finn what your favorite place on campus was, and he told me the story of how you won a free breakfast by eating ten pancakes in two minutes.”

“I could have done it in one,” Rey said as they slid into a booth. They pulled the menus out from the mini jukebox on the table, and Poe’s hand quickly found hers over the formica tabletop. “But the rules offered two, and I didn’t want to throw up.” She turned pink. “I shouldn’t be talking about throwing up on a date.”

“Nah.” Poe shrugged and stroked his thumb over her knuckles without looking up from his menu. “I like it when you talk about vomit.”

“Gross.” Rey bumped her foot into his shin gently, and then Poe snorted and bumped her back; they tussled their feet together for a few seconds until their waiter came up to take their order.

Rey was pretty sure it was Wickett’s son, a tired-looking, bearded guy in his late thirties, who looked just like the photo that was over the cash register up front. But, she didn’t ask, and he didn’t seem to want to make any conversation past getting their order. Rey ordered a coke, and Poe, a water, and then Poe turned to her and said the magic words:

“Do you like milkshakes?”

“Yes.” Rey felt her eyes widen. She did, but they were six dollars each, and she already felt bad about ordering a soda when Poe got a water, and -

“Chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry?”

“I’m - I’m not sure-”

“Ron, what do you think?” Poe looked up at their waiter, who sighed, eyed the back, and then shrugged.

“They’re all good, dude, I don’t know what to tell you.”

“We’ll take all of them, then. One of each.” Poe smiled at Ron, who walked away with the order, and Rey stared at Poe.

“Is that our whole meal?” She asked in a hushed voice. She scrambled to explain, “Not - not that I mind of course, only, they’re so - they’re so expensive, and I’d be happy to eat ice cream for dinner, it’s honestly … honestly a dream of mine, and …” Rey petered off, embarrassed suddenly, and she ducked her head to hide her face.

“We’re getting real food, too.” Poe squeezed her hand until she looked up. “Whatever you want, Sunshine, really. I … I like milkshakes too, and it’s really only like, one and a half for each of us, and it’s a holiday. We can live a little large.”

Twenty dollars for beverages was slightly more than what Rey would call “living a little large,” but then again, she wasn’t an international movie star, so...maybe it was okay if Poe spent twenty dollars on beverages every now and then. He didn’t seem to flagrantly spend money in general (except for … her jacket, and all those pizzas, now that she thought about it, but that seemed more like fun and less concerning wealthy people habits), so Rey told herself that it didn’t matter that he was spending so much money on her, and she tucked that strange guilt away behind her ribcage where she could look at it later.

Rey returned to studying the menu (even though she already knew what she wanted), and only looked up when Poe cleared his throat.

“We can order all ice cream if you want?” Poe smiled shyly. “Skip dinner?”

“No!” Rey shook her head quickly. “No, I’m getting--”

“Pancakes?”

“Waffles.” Rey closed her menu firmly and tucked it back in place. “Waffles. To go with my milkshakes.”

“Waffles.” Poe smiled and tucked his menu away as well. 

Ron came back and took their order: Rey, blueberry waffles with syrup on the side, and Poe, a burger with fries. 

When Rey heard that, her eyes widened. “No, wait-” She shook her head. “A burger. Please. Extra pickle.”

Grunting in acknowledgement, Ron walked away to put their order in, and Rey settled back in the booth and took a sip of her coke.

“I always thought you were perfect, Rey Kenobi...but…” Poe sighed and stared out the dark window.

“But what?” Rey’s heart lurched painfully.

“But yuck .” Poe made a face. “ Pickle?

“Pickles are the best!” Rey argued, relieved immediately that it wasn’t something serious. 

“They’re sour. And wet. And they soak into the bread.”

“And then you have pickle-bread. I don’t see what the problem is.” 

“You can have all my pickles, forever,” Poe swore, and Rey blushed at the implication of forever. She was spared having to go down that path more with Ron’s arrival with three milkshakes, and they spent the next few minutes doing a Very Serious Taste Test.

“You got some-” Rey tapped on her upper lip, and Poe looked up, whipped cream hanging off his face. “Right there-”

Poe’s tongue darted out to the wrong side of his mouth, and Rey giggled and shook her head. “No. Here-” She leaned forward and swiped the whipped cream off his lip and, without thinking, popped her finger into her mouth to suck it clean.

Poe turned brighter red than the vinyl of the booth. Rey did too a second later, when she realized why. 

“So,” Poe’s voice seemed … different. “Uh...what’s your favorite?” He gestured to the milkshakes, not quite looking at her, and shifted on his side of the booth. She thought about his question seriously so she wouldn’t have to think about the obvious fact that she just turned him on by accident. 

“Strawberry.” Rey thought again and nodded. “Definitely the strawberry. You?”

“Vanilla.” Poe took another slurp to demonstrate and closed his eyes dreamily. “Yeah. Vanilla.” He licked some residue off his bottom lip and heat flared in Rey’s stomach like she’d never felt. She was knocked sideways by it, and thought maybe she might even fall out of the booth, but no, time just continued on as normal, with Poe Dameron now sucking whipped cream off the webbing between his forefinger and thumb, and Rey’s face was on fire, and she wondered what his mouth might feel like on parts of her body it hadn’t been before, like her neck, or her collarbone, and also, had his fingers always looked like that, sort of long and broad in a way she wouldn’t have thought she cared about fingers being -

“Two burgers, one extra pickles,” Ron announced, clearly unaware and uncaring that he was interrupting a very content movie star and a girl who was suddenly rediscovering what horny felt like. She ate her burger, relieved to have something to do, and thankfully, Poe brought up his Econ class and a very annoying dude-bro that she also knew, and they were able to spend a distracted fifteen minutes making fun of people like the “Well, Actually”s and the Devil’s Advocates.

Poe paid for their meal when Rey was in the bathroom, splashing cold water on her face and rinsing her mouth out in case they kissed later, and then they were out the door to something that Poe was excitedly calling “Round Two!” of their date.

Round Two! of their date turned out to be…

“Ice skating?” Rey stared up at the sign outside the rink, feeling rather dubious. “Um.”

“I figured we could skate for an hour.” Poe beamed at her and held his hand out; Rey took it reluctantly and scraped her boots along the sidewalk, trying to keep her legs warm. “And then head back to my apartment?”

There weren’t many people out, which was odd for Valentine’s Day. Rey figured, it being a college town, that most people in Takodana were either out at the bars, or at parties, or they were adults trying to avoid the college kids at the bars and walking to and from parties. It also was getting colder, it felt like, colder by the second, with snow starting to fall more in earnest. 

The snow had yet to accumulate on the road, so Rey pushed any worry about driving back on Black One away, and coughed before admitting what was bugging her, right after they paid for their skates.

“I’ve never … skated before,” Rey mumbled, and Poe looked at her, shocked.’

“Don’t you live in Ohio?”

“Uh. Yes.” Rey shrugged and tucked her hair behind her ear as they walked towards the rental lockers for their shoes. “But … not until I was almost eleven, and Obi was in his late sixties when he took me in, so … not exactly prime ice skating partners there. Also, I hate the cold.”

Poe paused in where he was trying to jimmy open their locker and frowned. “We can head back now, Sunshine. Really. I thought it might be fun, but if you don’t want to, I really don’t-”

“No, I want to. I just… ugh, I’m going to be so bad at it.” Rey covered her face with her hands. “I hate being bad at things.”

“Nah.” Poe knelt down and untied his shoes. “You won’t be bad at it.”

“I will.” Rey untied hers as well, and slipped her boots off to hand to Poe, who tucked them away safely in the locker. “I’ll be terrible at it. The worst. The children will laugh.”

“Then I’ll keep falling, and you can pretend we’re going slow because I suck.” Poe beamed at her and when she sat with her rented skates in hand, unsure of what to do next, he locked up their stuff and then knelt to slip her skates on for her. “There we go, Cinderella,” he joked, resting her blade on his thigh delicately as he laced up her skates. “Just don’t stab me.”

“Do you go ice skating a lot?” Rey asked curiously. “Or … sorry, did you play hockey?”

“Yes to both,” Poe answered cheerfully. “My mom taught me how to play hockey, and then … I kept ice skating after she died. It was a pretty big treat for us because the nearest indoor rink was an hour and a half away, but I always liked it.” He finished tying her other skate and patted her ankle, and Rey couldn’t help it - before he stood up, she put her hands on his shoulders and bit her bottom lip.

“Can I kiss you?”

“Hell yes, Valentine.” Poe kissed her sweetly, and Rey couldn’t help but feel that flare in her gut again, the one that told her Poe shouldn’t be kissing her sweetly, but maybe with something a little different, maybe with teeth, or tongue, or-

Poe got his own skates on, and he was much faster and efficient with his laces, like he cared less if his own ankles wobbled, and then they were scraping across the rubber protective mat and onto the rink.

“Okay.” Poe skated out first and then came right back after doing a small loop to test the ice. “This is going to feel weird, but I promise it doesn’t hurt too bad when you fall. A little, but you’ll be more cold than anything. Also, it’s better if you don’t think about falling. Because then you might…”

“Fall?” Rey took a step out onto the ice, and immediately her foot skittered away from her. “Jesus Fuck - ever heard of friction? I like friction, Dameron, friction is-” She eased out onto the ice all the way, clinging to the railing, “Friction is great, love it, can’t recommend it - eep!” Rey’s legs split away from each other like they’d had a flight, and her nails dug into the railing, “Enough, love it, okay, yeah, we did it, let’s head back-”

Poe was laughing but not unkindly as he skated slightly in front of her and held out his hand. “Keep one hand on the railing, and hold my hand, and try to stand up straight. Keep your feet a little apart, though.” It was unfair, how easily he stayed upright and swung around now and then to offer her tips, but by the time they made it all the way around the rink, Poe was giving her less tips, and Rey was doing that ‘push push glide’ thing he kept talking up. It was working. Ish.

“There we go.” Poe smiled at her. “With railing or without this time?”

Rey took her hand away from the railing and - push, push glide - almost fell on her ass. “With.” She grabbed the railing desperately, her legs spreading out wide again. “Definitely with.”

“Okay.” Poe stayed by her side again, happy to hold her hand and talk nonsense about his classes and his upcoming premiere, and Rey felt distracted enough from her constant fear of falling that she eventually did take her hand away from the railing on their third lap.

Their laughter was the loudest thing on the rink as other people (children mostly, but Rey tried not to compare) whizzed past them, and as their hour came to a close, Rey almost regretted having to get off the ice. Right as they skated towards the exit, a troop of junior hockey enthusiasts zoomed past them, and Rey forgot to push off on her foot, so nervous about hitting a child, that she fell quickly onto her ass, and pulled Poe with her. 

They tumbled to the ice, Rey’s hands in front of her chest to avoid the blades, and Poe, it seemed had done the same; they were very close now, their legs almost touching, and their faces inches apart. Poe looked panicked though - “Did I - did I get you?” He looked down anxiously, and what Rey had thought was a rom-com moment quickly faded. “Did I-”

“Ugh.” Rey rolled her eyes and lurched to her feet, slipping awkwardly to the exit. “Let’s get out of here Dameron.”

He apologized all the way back to Black One, and didn’t stop until she tugged him forward by the lapels of his jacket and kissed him, the snow falling steadily around them now.


Poe wasn’t sure how the night could get any better. Sure, there’d been a bit of a hiccup when Rey told him she’d never ice skated before (but God she was a trooper, he couldn’t believe she was willing to go out there and try it, and she looked so stinking pretty when she was trying it, and Poe was the one who almost fell a hundred times because he kept trying to stare at her when he should have been moving his feet). And then there was the hiccup of him getting an erection at dinner. Yeah, that could have … not happened and things could have been great (he was pretty sure Rey noticed because of course, fuck him). 

But now they were back at his apartment, and Rey was warming her hands over the vent as warm air blasted out, and Bea was waggling her butt excitedly as he brought her back from a quick spin around the block, and they were going to exchange presents and …

God, he was so happy. Like, the kind of happy he never really thought about outside of an abstract concept. 

“Presents?” He asked, emerging from the closet with the wrapped gifts he’d gotten Rey. He’d wanted to wrap them in pretty pink paper with bright red hearts, but when he was at Target, he’d seen something much cooler.

And, Rey’s face when she saw it confirmed that he made the right choice. 

“Where did you get this?” She gushed, running her hands over the sleek Millennium Falcon paper. “Oh my God.”

“Target.” Poe sat down on the couch and watched as Rey kept running her hands over the paper. She looked strangely guilty for a second, and she set the presents down carefully on the far cushion before rummaging around in a cabinet for her backpack.

“I didn’t think Bea knew how to work a zipper, but, just to be safe.” Rey smiled oddly as she sat down, and Poe watched as she pulled out the lumpy package she’d been holding outside of Darklighter. “Who goes first?”

“You.” Poe had always loved giving gifts, and at the moment, he was almost vibrating out of his skin with excitement at the thought of Rey opening what he’d gotten her. “You, definitely.”

“Alright.” Rey handed him his gift with a sheepish grin. “Sorry about the wrapping job, it just-”

“It looks like it’d be hard to wrap.” Poe shrugged and ran his hands over the gift, trying to figure it out. It felt sort of like a cylinder, but bumpy in places. Weird. “I have no idea what this is.”

Her smile was wry now. “Good,” she muttered, working open the tape carefully on the side of the gift. Her hands moved slowly, and Poe was mystified as he watched her open each flap, one by one.

“Just rip it open,” he encouraged her, and Rey shot him a scandalized look.

“But that would ruin the paper.” She frowned and slid the first box out. “You can reuse this.”

“I-” have the rest of the paper in the closet, Poe almost said, but he snapped his mouth shut at the serious look in Rey’s face. Instead, he nodded, feeling chagrined for being so wasteful. “No, I - that’s really sweet, thanks Sunshine. We’ll save it for later because you liked it so much.” Rey smiled and began to open the box, and Poe watched her face eagerly for a sign of her first impression.

Her smile was bright and beautiful, and Poe fought the urge to fist pump. “You shouldn’t have!” Rey pulled out the complete boxed set of The Squadron, Han Solo’s classic Sci-Fi show that she admitted to liking more than X-Wing. “Seriously, Poe, this is - holy shit-”

“There’s more!” Poe tapped the next box excitedly and beamed at her as she took it, looking dazed. She pulled out the box as slowly as the first one, and her smile was easier this time as she took out the warm hat and gloves he’d found. “That way your tiny, cold hands won’t be as cold when I hold them,” Poe teased. “Not that I’d begrudge sharing body heat with you, of course-”

“You make me sound like a reptile.” Rey jammed the hat on her head happily though and smiled happily. “I love it. I love you. Thank you.” He got a kiss on the nose, and Poe was wiggling happily as Rey ducked down to grab something out of her backpack. Bea was wagging her tail, picking up on the two humans’ happiness, and Poe scratched her ears as he waited for Rey to come back up.

“I know it’s not - not as fancy as yours-” Rey began, looking nervous again. “But, I know you have a sweet tooth-”

“Ooooh, caramels.” Poe could feel his eyes (and his ass) widening at the sight of them. “Holy fuck, yessssss.” He sniffed the box and closed his eyes dreamily.

“There’s no way you can smell through all those layers,” Rey protested, giggling, but Poe shook his head.

“I assure you, madam, I can.” He took another dramatic sniff. “Thank you. Oh, I am going to get a serious talking to by my nutritionist after all the junk I’m eating today. And I love it.”

He was thinking that was it, and honestly he was completely happy with that, but then - wasn’t there -

“I...um, this one’s harder to explain. Or not.” Rey was even more nervous now, and she pointed to the lumpy package he’d tucked into the couch behind him. “It feels … I don’t know… I hope you like it?”

Poe took the gift in his hands carefully, feeling oddly serious as he studied the gift. If Rey was this nervous about it … well. Even if he didn’t like it (impossible, it was from Rey, so he automatically loved it), he was an actor, so.

He took a deep breath and smiled at Rey to ease some of her anxiety as he slit open the newspaper that had been bundled carefully around the gift. The layers fell away and then he saw it.

And he stared.

Rey took that as a bad sign clearly because she started talking, but he almost couldn’t hear her, his eyes were blurred and his heartbeat in his ears. 

“It’s...the Persephone Mission.” Rey tapped the base of the model carefully, nervous in her explanation. As if he hadn’t recognized it immediately. She leaned over, and he felt her warm body next to his, but he couldn’t look up from the model. “It’s ... a 1/72 model, and … um, I saw it at the thrift store because someone had donated it because … because it had some panels missing? Or something? And it’s stupid because I’m sure you have these at your house, but-”

“I don’t.” His voice was ragged, and Poe swallowed to make it better. “We don’t, I mean. Have this.” They might have at one point, but Kes would have put them in storage. Some memories were still too painful for his dad.

The Persephone Mission. Where the first woman completed a spacewalk. His mother. 

“Yeah…” Rey took a deep breath. “So I fixed it. Repainted it. It was easy, really, and um, Yolo gave me the paint, and I reattached the base, and realigned the panels so they were more...accurate, and …”

“I-” Poe swallowed and didn’t know what to say. How had she even found this? In a million years, he never would have thought to go looking for this, but now that he was holding it...it was perfect.

“There’s something else.” Rey sat back on the couch when he looked over at her, and she was holding her arms around herself like she did when she was scared. She pulled her hat from her hair to twist it in her lap, and she nodded her chin at the model. “You might ... hate it. It’s not … regulation or anything for models, but...I asked Obi...for a favor.”

“What?” Poe found that his eyes wouldn’t stop blurring as he looked from his beautiful, amazing girlfriend, to this piece of his mother she’d handed back to him.

“Um. Press… the side panel.” He slid his thumb around until she hummed. “Yeah. That one …”

He pressed.

[ What are you seeing out there, Bey? ] came an unfamiliar male voice, tinny and slightly distorted. Poe’s heart slammed in his chest.

[ Whole lotta stars, Houston ]. It was her. It was really - hot tears slid down his face and landed on his lap. [ Space. I don’t - there aren’t words for this ]

He pressed the button again, wanting to hear-

It was a different audio clip.

[ I wish he could see this. ]

[ Who, Bey? ]

[ My baby. He would go nuts for this -] Poe sobbed softly, and Rey shifted next to him. [ I’d never get him back down to earth if he could see this ]

He pressed the button again when her voice faded away.

[ That’s one step for me… one for Kes … one for Poe… ]

Poe sat the model down next to him on the floor, carefully, aware that his hands were shaking too hard to keep holding it, and he covered his mouth with his hands and sobbed again.

“Shit.” Rey was there in a second, her hands hovering over his back as she eyed him anxiously. “Oh God, I fucked up, I’m so-”

“No.” Poe shook his head and patted her knee for a second before covering his face again. “These a-a-aren’t b-bad-”

“I’m sorry.” Rey kissed his shoulder a dozen times and wrapped her arms around his middle. “Um- I’m sorry, I didn’t - I should have -”

“It’s p-perfect.” Poe shook his head and kept crying. “Fuck. It’s perfect.”

“I’m sorry,” Rey whispered, but Poe wouldn’t hear it. He slowly slid back onto the couch and held his arms out, and Rey twisted so she was lying across his chest, her legs pressed against his. “I’m sorry,” she repeated but Poe shook his head and kissed her hair.

“Don’t be. It was … that’s the most incredible thing.” He sniffed and tried to blink the tears out of his eyes so he could actually talk. “Thank you. I just… thank you. There aren’t words - How did you get that?”

“I asked Obi if there declassified audio files from your mother’s mission.” Rey shrugged as if that were a casual thing, as if that were the sort of grand gesture most people could just think of at the drop of a hat. “And he sent me that file as an mp3. It was just a matter of isolating clips and then asking Rose for help circuit bending an old audio-board from a greeting card to turn it into something that would play when you pressed it.”

Poe stared at the ceiling, trying to comprehend how Rey was real. “I - thank you.” He kissed her forehead and awkwardly wiped his nose on the sleeve of his sweater. “Fucking hell. I don’t think I’ll ever give anyone a gift as good as that.”

“You don’t hate it?” Rey sounded shy, unsure.

“I love it.” Poe stroked her hair with the back of his fingers, and Rey cuddled into his side more. His emotions felt raw, near the surface, but he didn’t hate it. He felt vulnerable; but, it was easy to be vulnerable with someone like Rey. “I’d just never heard that before, and wasn’t expecting it, so, the waterworks. Sorry for crying all over you.”

“I don’t mind it when you cry.” Right, he’d cried in front of her before. All thoughts of looking cool for the pretty girl from Linear Algebra were officially terminated. “And...I can send you the whole file if you want?”

“Please.” He kissed the top of her head again, his swollen, gritty eyes closing. “Thank you.”

Rey hummed into his chest, drawing her legs up onto the couch, and they held each other for a long time, Bea jumping up next to them at some point and settling down with a huff.

He didn’t know how much time had passed, but his phone beeped after a while. Poe looked up from where he was curled around Rey and grabbed for his phone without really seeing it. He gathered it eventually from the crack between the cushion and the armrest, and read the notification blearily.

Then, he sat up, Rey moving with him with a startled exhalation.

“Fuck.”

“What’s wrong?” Rey knelt on the couch next to him, and her face went from anxious to pale when he flipped the phone for her to read the notification.

[ Urgent Weather Update: Winter Storm Warning for Takodana Campus. Unexpected development. Blizzard conditions possible from 10:30 PM tonight until 2:00 PM tomorrow, February 15, 2020. Gov. declared state of emergency at 9:30… ]

“Fuck,” Rey echoed, her eyes wide. “...What time is it?”

“9:45.” Poe stood and went to the window. “Maybe it’s not snowing too hard yet-” He pulled back the curtains and stopped talking.

Somehow, since they’d gotten back, the campus had been coated with snow, and what was probably a thin sheet of ice. He was grateful that he’d remembered to throw the protective cover over Black One when he was out walking Bea, but he couldn’t ignore the lurch of anxiety in his stomach as he turned to look at Rey. “Uh.”

She walked over to the window and blanched as well. “You can say that again. When the hell did that happen?”

“No idea, Sunshine.” Poe blew out his breath and held a hand to his forehead, taking in the glowing, white scene before him as the snow fell in increasing drifts outside the window. “No idea.”

Chapter Text

[Finn Calrissian, 10:28 pm]: are you gonna be okay, Peanut? 

Rey eyed the snow coming down in what seemed like endless drifts, building up on the campus outside the window of Poe’s bedroom. Yeah, she texted back, shivering slightly at the chill leaking through the glass. are you?

[Finn Calrissian, 10:29 pm]: I was at Rose’s when the worst started. I’ll stay here until it blows over. shes got cable and way better heating so im not that mad.

Goodnight then, Calrissian. Be safe. 

[Finn Calrissian, 10:29 pm]: You too, Kenobi. Tell Poe i said hi. and also, he owes me money. 

Rey smiled and moved to set her phone on the nightstand to charge; the screen lit up though, with an incoming call from Obi.

“Hello?” She answered immediately, knowing he was probably worried about the generic ‘got snowed in at my boyfriend’s apartment for the unforeseen future’ text she’d sent to him, Finn, and Jess (who’s just responded with a dozen winky faces and then a promise to be there in fifteen minutes if she needed her, even if Jess had to strap on snowshoes to do that).

“Hello, dear. Does Poe have power?”

“Uh.” Rey blinked, surprised that this was Obi’s first question. “...Yes. There’s still power.”

“Alright. And the nearest fire station?”

“...Five minute drive?” Rey guessed, before peering out the window. “Maybe longer … right now.”

“I see. Do you feel safe?”

“Yes.” Rey didn’t have to hesitate before answering. She’d already thought about that on her own, when she was considering Poe’s offer to have her stay until it cleared up. He’d offered to lock himself in the bathroom all weekend if she didn’t want to see him - he’d been mostly worried about her trying to walk home when there were blizzard conditions. “Poe’s a perfect gentleman."

There was a knock at the door, almost to prove her point; Poe poked his head in and smiled at her. 

“Want some pajamas?” 

Rey smiled and nodded, and Poe shuffled to the chest of drawers against the farthest wall. There were framed photos of Poe and his dad, and a few of his mom, hanging on the wall above the drawers; they were the main decoration in the room other than the thick, orange rug and the small, Millennium Falcon night light. He pulled out a thick pair of sweatpants and a warm-looking sweater and set both on the foot of the bed while Obi was telling Rey something about how to get clean water if the power went out.

“Got it,” she muttered where she was supposed to. “...Thanks, Poe.”

“Poe’s there right now?” She swore Obi sounded a little amused. “May I talk to him?”

“...er.” Rey held the phone out to Poe with a sheepish grin. “Obi wants to talk to you.”

“Uh.” Poe blinked twice and then accepted the phone. “Okay. Hello, sir. Yes, of course.” He nodded and then walked out into the kitchen area.

Rey took the moment to close the door slightly and quickly change into the sweatpants from her jeans, and then pull the sweater over the shirt she was wearing. Immediately warmer, she walked out into the main area of the apartment in time to see Poe rifling through a drawer, his phone cradled between his ear and his shoulder.

“I have fifteen replacement batteries, sir.” Poe held up three large flashlights one by one and tested the lights against the ceiling. “And three flashlights that work. There are also two dozen candles - I know, that’s a last resort, and not to - yep - The building? Less than ten years old. Yes sir. Concierge will stay here overnight. Let me -” Poe walked near the back of the apartment and squinted up at a round disc protruding from the ceiling. “Carbon monoxide detectors are working. Fire alarm is through the apartment complex. Yes sir, I keep bottled water. I have a lot of dried food - yeah. Mhm.” Poe nodded and rubbed his neck, before stilling. “I completely understand, sir…” He turned and saw Rey looking at him, her eyebrow cocked. He smiled at her, a little sadly. “Yes sir. Yes, she’s right here. You too, sir. Thank you.”

Poe handed the phone to Rey before heading into the kitchen, Bea hot on his heels. 

“Obi,” Rey sighed into the phone. “Did you want to FaceTime him to see the apartment?”

“Now that’s an idea,” Obi teased.

“It’s a thousand times safer than Darklighter,” Rey pointed out. “I’m sure they’ve already lost power.” Thank God Jess was staying with Kay after their Valentine’s date. Kay rented a condo from a professor on sabbatical, and they were probably more comfortable than even Rey.

“Your boyfriend is very polite,” Obi said serenely. “What a nice young man.”

“He’s alright.” Rey smirked at Poe, who ducked his head and continued working on something in the kitchen. “How’s the weather near you?”

“We’re getting the edge of the storm, my dear. Luke’s with me right now, and if something goes wrong, I’ll send him to fix it-”

“-I heard that, old man !” Rey could hear Luke’s protests in the distance, and she giggled. 

“-And you can call me or text me at any time, my dear. I hope you know that.”

“I know that, Obi.” Rey tugged on her braid and scuffed her foot on the carpet. “...Love you.”

“I love you too.” If Obi was surprised, he didn’t let it show in his voice. Rey didn’t often say those words out loud, after all, but something about meeting Poe, and pushing through some of her grief in the last few months made her more willing to say the words. Especially after seeing how Poe was so affected by losing a loved one, even a decade later, and remembering how Obi had put everything down to help her last spring, and had stayed nearby until she was well enough to stand on her own -- her throat clogged with unexpected sentimentality.

“And … thanks for everything, Obi. I mean … everything.”

“Anything for you, my dear.” Obi did sound touched now. “I hope you have a good night with your beau.”

“Obi.” Rey clapped a hand to her forehead. “It’s not like that-”

“And it’s none of my business either way,” Obi teased. “Goodnight!” And he hung up.

“Ugh.” Rey pretended to make a face at Poe even though she was smiling. “Uncles.”

“Don’t have any of those.” Poe shrugged and smiled as he came around the corner with two mugs. “But… I do have hot chocolate!”

“That’s not a great segue, but -” Rey took an offered mug. “Oh, that’s a good segue.”

“Secret Dameron recipe.” Poe went to sit on the couch, and Rey followed him. He’d also changed into sweatpants, and everything was very cozy as they snuggled up next to each other. Bea hopped up near them, and parked herself on Poe’s other side, and Rey curled her legs up onto the cushions. Poe propped his legs up on the ottoman - he couldn’t bend his knee comfortably still, Rey knew - and wrapped his arm around Rey’s shoulder as he sipped his cocoa.  

“Mmm, that’s the good shit.”

Rey blew on the top of hers before taking a sip; it was creamy, warm, and very chocolatey. “What’s the secret ingredient?” Rey asked, and Poe tsked and shook his head.

“Under the threat of torture, I won’t tell you.” He took a larger slurp. “You’ll have to kill me first.”

Sipping hers a little more, Rey decided. “Extra chocolate sauce. Milk instead of water. Swiss Miss.”

“Swiss --” Poe spluttered and looked at her in mock horror. “You have insulted my family, Rey Kenobi.”

“There’s nothing wrong with Swiss Miss!” Rey laughed and took another sip. “I didn’t even have the stuff until I moved to the States. Swiss Miss is plenty delicious-”

“The thought that I would poison you with Swiss Miss. That you would even entertain the thought! Clearly you aren’t ready for the full recipe.”

“Clearly.”

“But, I think I can tell you one secret ingredient.”

Rey took one last sip and placed her mug carefully on the side table next to the couch. “What’s that?”

Poe wiped some excess chocolate from his lip. “Extra marshmallows.”

“Dork.” Rey kissed his cheek, and Poe smiled. He turned his head and captured her lips in a real kiss, and Rey daringly ran her tongue over his bottom lip. Poe gasped slightly and tilted his head, and Rey’s stomach heated again. 

But Poe pulled away and drank some more cocoa, his cheeks flushed - and not from the heat of the beverage. “Almost time for bed, huh?”

Bea yawned as if to agree with Poe, and they both laughed, but Rey could feel something had slightly shifted between them. She didn’t know what to do with the heat that seemed to have slid down her insides to settle in her lower stomach; something told her she’d find the answer with Poe, but he’d begun scratching Bea’s ears and was determined to finish his hot cocoa, so Rey did the same. 

Later, they were brushing their teeth side by side in the vanity. Rey laughed when Poe gracefully applied strange little half moons under his eyes. “What on earth is that?”

“It’s for the bags under my eyes,” Poe explained, smoothing the second one out. 

“It looks like sour cream.” Rey wrinkled her nose in the mirror and fought the urge to lean over and poke one. 

“Doesn’t taste like it,” Poe quipped. “I’ve tried.” 

Rey giggled and let Poe kiss her even with his weird eye mask junk on, and they parted ways at Poe’s bedroom door.

“Are you sure you don’t mind?” Rey asked for the thousandth time. “I’m fine sleeping on the couch-”

“My father will literally transport here through the power of sheer indignation if he heard I made my girlfriend sleep on the couch. Even if I had no couch and just the floor, I’d be taking the floor. Don’t worry about me, Sunshine.” They kissed one last time, but it was brief and sweet, with none of the heat of earlier. “Goodnight.”

“Goodnight.” 

Bea followed Rey into the bedroom, and Poe wagged his finger. “Nuh, uh, uh, Bea, we’re sleeping out here.”

“I don’t mind,” Rey said automatically, very hopeful suddenly. “I’ve always wanted to sleep with a dog, it’s - I really don’t mind.”

“Alright.” Poe sighed and shook his head with a concerned expression. “If she licks your teeth in the middle of the night, I’m sincerely sorry. She thinks we hide treats in our mouths, I’m pretty sure.”

“I’ll … keep that in mind.” Rey made a face, and Poe laughed heartily before waving and heading to the couch.

Rey closed the door slightly and got in bed; Bea hopped up next to her, clearly used to sharing the bed with a human, and curled up against Rey’s middle as she rolled over on her side. “Goodnight Bea,” Rey whispered into the corgi’s short fur, and Bea huffed slightly. Slightly soothed from her combination of spending-the-night-at-her-boyfriend’s-nerves, and her normal, general anxiety, Rey closed her eyes and listened to Bea breathe until she drifted off to sleep.

***

“You know I can take whatever I want.

It was him. Kylo. He’d found her, somehow, through the howling wind and pouring snow. 

“Run!” Finn was there, tugging her elbow. “Rey, run!” Jess screamed in the distance, and the ground cracked open, separating Rey and Finn with no further warning. Finn shouted a warning to her, but Rey remembered without remembering that she had to get to the ship.

What ship?

It didn’t matter. Rey sprinted through the dead trees, dragging her feet through the snow, freezing cold. She knew he was following her; she refused to turn around. She just had to-

“Rey?” Poe was there. 

Rey stumbled into his arms and tried to tell him about Kylo, to warn him - nothing came out of her mouth. She opened her mouth and screamed but no sound. Nothing. Poe touched her cheek gently, a spot of warmth that melted the snow and ice that had gathered to the hair in front of her face. “Rey, what’s wr-” 

A blade of light cut Poe down, and Rey screamed in horror. Sound did come out this time as Kylo advanced on her, hand outstretched, his brown eyes horrifyingly red, and her feet wouldn’t move, and there was blood on her face, and she was going t

Rey startled awake to find Bea licking her face worriedly. Her throat hurt - no doubt from screaming - but Bea calmed her down almost on sight. Bea wasn’t normally there, after all, when she woke up, and had never been in her dreams. Rey scratched the dog’s head and tried to breathe normally. She winced, hoping Poe hadn’t heard anything, but-

There was a knock at the door.

“Come in,” Rey whispered. She cleared her throat and tried again, pushing herself up to a seated position and rearranging the blankets. “Come in.”

The door pushed open, and Poe came through with a glass of water. “Hey.”

“Hi.” Rey’s face burned. Of course she had to scream herself awake at her boyfriend’s apartment. That was a normal thing to do. Totally normal. 

“Thought you might be thirsty. Do you want some -” Poe held out the water and Rey nodded without speaking.

Poe handed her the glass and quickly sat at the foot of the bed, as though she wouldn’t want him any nearer. She drank the water, grateful for the way it soothed her throat, and they didn’t talk for a few minutes. The wind howled outside, as miserable as Rey felt, and she stared at the blanket in the half light coming from the hallway.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Poe asked quietly, and Rey shook her head. “Do you want me to stay?”

“Yes.” She nodded and looked up. “Could you - could you sit up here?”

“Of course.” Poe came around the other side of the bed and nudged Beat until the dog shuffled over slightly. He climbed into bed, the mattress dipping slightly, and he hesitated with his hand on the blanket. Rey pulled it back for him, and Poe slid in next to her; the second he had his back to the headboard, Rey snuggled in a little closer, happy to be near someone to ground her after the nightmare. “I can stay until you fall asleep.”

Rey nodded. “You could stay … longer, if you want.” She cleared her throat. “I mean… I only didn’t want to before because… I was worried I might have a …. And that already happened. So.” 

“So.” Poe reached out slowly and rubbed the top of her shoulder blade soothingly. “I can stay longer, Sunshine. That’s okay, too.”

“I’m sorry,” Rey muttered.

“Don’t be.” Poe stayed sitting upright as Rey set the glass down on the table and curled up on her side. “There’s nothing to be sorry for.”

“If I - if I start screaming again, just wake me up.” Rey was already half-asleep again, exhausted from everything, and her dream. “I don’t mind.”

“I love you,” Poe said softly. “I love you, and I’m happy you’re here.”

“Thanks.” And then she was out again, falling into a dreamless sleep this time, buoyed by the unshakeable feeling that someone was watching over her.


The light fell through the window differently, casting a grey tint to the room when Rey opened her eyes. She sat up slowly, rubbing her face, and saw that the door was half-open. Bea was nowhere in sight, and neither was Poe. Rey yawned and checked her phone; it was just after eight a.m., and she’d slept for much longer than she had in awhile. She had no idea when she’d woken up from the nightmare, but she winced to remember it.

No wonder Poe had booked it out of there as soon as possible. He was no doubt trying to shovel his way out of the apartment complex to get away from his sad girlfriend and her many problems. Rey made a face and flipped up a blind to look outside; it was still snowing heavily, with the drifts outside even taller than they’d been the previous night. It didn’t look like the snow plow had even bothered coming down the street yet, and no one seemed to be outside.

Dropping the blind back in place, Rey pulled the covers up to her chin for a moment, debating on the best way to see if Poe was sleeping on the couch, or had left the apartment entirely. It didn’t make a lot of sense for him to abandon his own apartment, she reasoned, but it also didn’t make a whole lot of sense for him to stick around. Not many people would be willing to stick around for someone who woke them up in the middle of the night screaming; and, people weren’t often willing to stick around for her in the first place.

Rey took a deep, steadying breath - and then another. There was a very warm, familiar smell in the air. Something … with vanilla. And … sugar … and…

She was getting ready to slip out of bed when the door opened more fully to reveal Poe Dameron in a big sweater and sweatpants, a plate of stacked pancakes in his hand. “Morning,” he greeted her. A bottle of syrup hung from his hand. 

“Good morning.” Rey wasn’t sure if she was dreaming - no, she definitely wasn’t. She never had dreams as good as this. 

Poe climbed back into bed after handing her the plate of pancakes and hummed happily. “I figured we could stay in bed for a while.” He shrugged and gestured to the window. “No point in going outside. Had to dig a trench for Bea to go to the bathroom two hours ago, and I just wanted to crawl back in bed after, but my feet were super cold and I didn’t want to wake you by accident.”

“You’re very … considerate.” Rey eyed the plate of pancakes she was holding. “Are these for me?”

“No, I thought I might make you watch me eat them.” Poe rolled his eyes affectionately and held the remote from the bedside table towards her. “Do you wanna watch cartoons while we see who can eat the most pancakes?”

“I do want to watch cartoons.” Rey wiggled her toes under the blankets, warmer than she’d ever been and in the best possible way. “But I know I can eat more pancakes than you.”

“Probably true.” Poe pulled forks and knives out of the pocket of his sweatpants and then worked his way under the blanket. “Here I can hold them.”

Poe placed the plate on his lap, and let Rey decide how much syrup was too much. She voiced her concern that perhaps getting syrup on the bed wasn’t a good move, but Poe shrugged nonchalantly and began to cut up the stack of pancakes, sliding a second plate out from underneath the first to load some up for Rey. 

“A risk I’m willing to take. I’m not eating these without syrup.” He eyed her anxiously as she took the first bite. 

They were delicious: fluffy, hot, and fresh, with cool syrup bringing out their natural sweetness. Rey made a small moaning noise she reserved for food and covered her mouth, tilting her head back in bliss. “Ugh, that’s so - ugh. Good.”

“Good.” Poe seemed particularly pleased as he turned on the television. “Good.”

An hour later, the pancakes were gone, and Rey was curled up into Poe’s side, his arm around her. She was feeling sleepy again, Poe’s heartbeat under her ear, and his hand stroking her upper arm lazily as Bea slept at their feet. It was a perfect morning, Rey realized, and one she wouldn’t mind replicating. 

The television was playing re-runs of children’s cartoons quietly, and she smiled every time Poe muttered a line in time with one of the characters (he was particularly fond of Cosmo on Fairly OddParents, she noticed), and she tried not to be too concerned that he had a television in his bedroom and his living room.

She and Obi had one television - one total - and it only got seven channels. Rey had always understood the gap between her and Poe was fairly large in terms of money, but the casual double-tv-ing was oddly a bit of a hang-up for her brain, even if she didn’t feel the need to voice it out loud.

There was, however, something she did need to voice out loud.

“I’m sorry for waking you up last night.” Rey was sure she’d apologized in the moment, but she wanted to say it again now that she was fully awake. 

“And I meant what I said. You don’t have to apologize for that.” When Rey made a disbelieving face up at him, her nose wrinkled, Poe turned the sound off on the cartoon, silencing Danny Phantom, and gathered up their plates to put beside the bed. He ran his fingers through her hair slowly as he examined her face. “I love you,” he said softly. “All of you. And I accept all of you.”

“Okay.” Rey nodded and tried to look like she could believe it. It wasn’t that Poe wasn’t convincing. He was very convincing. (That was part of his job, after all). But, she was still slightly sure that at some point, he’d become aware that she was so far out of his league and wasn’t worth his time.

In the meantime, though:

Poe kissed her forehead gently and pulled away with a soft smile. “Thank you for my present. Now that I’m done crying, I can tell you how much it meant to me.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. I was … I was already awake last night. Listening to it.” He ducked his head slightly, not meeting her eyes as he huffed a small laugh. “It was the best gift I ever got. And … you’re incredible.”

“Am not.” Rey was too sleepy-happy to mount a better argument. 

“Are too.” Poe didn’t seem much better well-spoken, and Rey giggled up at him.

She was the one who leaned up and kissed him, smiling into the kiss. Rey also was the one who lingered, as Poe stayed perfectly still, his hand still in her hair. 

Then, she was the one who ran her tongue along his bottom lip again, chasing the sweetness of their breakfast; she was not the one who moaned. The sound coming from Poe’s throat turned to liquid gold in her veins, and Rey surged in again, greedy to hear it again. Poe pushed into the kiss this time, his tongue stroking along her lip until her mouth opened with a gasp, and then they were kissing, really, truly kissing, with the heat building under their shared blanket. 

Rey was torn between pulling him down on top of her and sprinting from the room; her heart skipped twice and she landed towards the latter. “Wait-” she pulled back shaking her head, her heart slamming - “Sorry-”

“Don’t be-” Poe gasped slightly, looking dazed, and smiled at her. His lips were swollen, and his eyes were cloudy, but he still smiled. “Hey - that was - are you okay?”

“Mhm.” Rey nodded and fought the urge to bury her face in the pillow. “Sorry for … jumping on you like-”

“You didn’t,” Poe promised quickly, and they both laughed at how quickly they were speaking. “Wow.” Poe smiled at her and then tilted his head. “I didn’t … that didn’t frighten you at all, did it?”

“A little,” Rey admitted, and Poe nodded, his expression twisting towards sad. “But not like that!” She rushed to explain. “It was - not bad frightening. Not all the way. I liked it. Most of it. I was just - wow. You know?”

“I know.” Poe held his hand out and she took it happily. “Let me know if there’s anything I should do or avoid in the future because … I like kissing you. I’d like to do it more.”

“I’d like to do more … kissing too,” Rey was blushing when she added, “and a lot more than kissing.”

“Oh?” Poe’s mouth dropped opened for a second, but he snapped it shut quickly. “...Um, I’m all … I’m all ears.”

Rey took a deep breath, remembered what Jess and Rose told her, and decided to go for tactful. “I want to have sex with you,” she blurted out, and Poe turned beet red. Fuck. “Shit - I mean - I’d like to have sex with you. One day. I want that - to try that - with you. I trust you. And … I like you.” Rey clapped a hand to her forehead. “I like you and I want to try to have sex with you because you’re a good person, and you’re very um - and I’ll stop talking.”

“Um. Wow.” Poe nodded, eyes wide, and seemed to stare into the distance for a second. Rey squirmed when he turned to smile at her. “First of all, it means a lot that you … would want to try that with me. And - I obviously. Uh, feel the same way.” Poe coughed and turned even more red, his tan skin flushed thoroughly to the point Rey worried he was overheating. “Like. Very much. Yes. Uh. If you want to be more … physical, we should try that. But not just because you think - I expect it, with us being in here together all weekend, because I’d be just as happy to eat junk food and watch tv with you and-”

“And we’ll see how the day goes.” Rey folded her hands in her lap and smiled bashfully at him; Poe returned the smile. 

“We’ll see how the day goes,” he agreed.

A few minutes later, the sound was back on, and Poe was quoting along Danny Phantom as Rey smiled happily into the warm, fluffy sweater Poe wore. 

It was going to be a good day.


“What do you mean you’ve never made a pillow fort?” Poe asked, aghast, as Rey didn’t even look up from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

“Is his dad going to notice they’re in the same restaurant? Like. He’s right there- and I mean, I’ve never made a pillow fort. Is that like, a normal American thing?”

“I guarantee they have them in England,” Poe pointed out, and Rey stiffened slightly but still didn’t look away from the tv screen.

“I didn’t exactly have a pillow in England,” Rey said, somewhat snappily, and something inside Poe curled up miserably at the implication of what she just said, combined with things she’d said in the past. “So no forts for me, I’m afraid. Pillows were a luxury.”

“Right.” Poe cleared his throat and rubbed his neck. “...Do you wanna make one now?”

“Make a pillow fort?” Rey looked around. “You don’t have that many pillows.”

“If I did, would you change your mind?”

“I suppose…” Rey tapped her chin as though thinking about it. “You’d have to show me how to construct it, though. So I could replicate the experiment.”

“That’s only fair.” Poe hopped up and sprinted for the linen closet, Bea hot on his heels. He came back with his arms loaded up with his softest blankets and extra pillows. Carefully, slowly, he rearranged the ottomans and loveseat until they were suitable distance apart, and began to lay the groundwork. 

Bea proved to be more hindrance than help, parking her furry ass wherever she saw fit, but Rey soon joined in, and they worked together to tuck, fold, and prop pillows and blankets in the living room, until a seven foot square was perfectly dedicated for pillow fort-ing. They climbed in, giggling, and Bea huffed her way in as well, rolling her chubby body to the corner, where she promptly turned in circles and fell asleep, her back to Poe and Rey.

“This is … nice,” Rey allowed, examining their handiwork. “Does it have snacks?”

“Shit!” Poe tried to stand up without dislodging the blanket above their heads. “The snacks! I’ll go-”

Rey grabbed his arm and pulled him back down; they lay down on their fronts, a pillow under each of their chests, and their chins propped on their hands as the movie continued playing. Rey kept looking around and smiling, and Poe felt unusually pleased with the idea of making something Rey liked - a little caveman of him, sure, but he was also the guy who tried to feed her three pizzas at their first study session so she might like him better. Caveman flirting was a good fall-back. Food? Good. Heat? Good. Shelter? Good

Ferris and his friends were having a tense conversation about Cameron’s dad’s car when Rey leaned over and kissed Poe.

Not on the mouth, as he was facing the screen. No. She kissed him on the neck. Poe stiffened slightly in pleasant surprise, and waited for something else to happen. 

Rey kissed him again. A slightly different spot than before, but very much still on his neck, and very much more than brush of lips.

“Hmm?” Poe tilted his head towards her, too pleased to even bother to be coy. “Are you bored with the movie.”

“Not really.” Rey was smiling in a different way than he’d ever seen. “...is this okay?”

“Yeah.” They kissed for real this time, Poe already keyed up by her first kisses. “Did you want to - to try somethings more than kissing?” Poe asked. “Or keep kissing? I’m good with either.”

“I wanna-” Rey scooted in closer to him, and kissed him hard. “More. If that’s okay-”

“Yeah.” Poe nodded, and their feet tangled together as they kissed again. The blankets underneath them were soft and warm, and the pillow braced Rey’s head nicely when she tugged on his shirt and pulled him to hover almost over her. 

She was lying on her back, her eyes closed dreamily as they traded kisses, and Poe kept his weight off of her, only leaning over her enough to kiss her, his legs stretched out next to hers. Soon, the heat between them reached a new height, and Poe felt rather than heard Rey’s breath catch when he ran his hand slowly down her side, purposefully not lingering anywhere near her chest.

“Is this okay?” Poe almost forgot how to breathe as his fingers skimmed the hem of Rey’s shirt.

She seemed to think about it, and then nodded. He slipped his hand under her t-shirt and sucked in a breath at her heated, soft skin. He kissed her, not moving his hand past her navel, and when he slipped his tongue between her parted lips, Rey sighed and arched her back, pushing her body into his willing hand.

He slid his hand to cup her hipbone, and tried to keep his weight on his forearm, away from crushing Rey or pressing his body (and incredibly apparent erection) into hers without permission. That all went out the window when Rey surged up into him, pushing at his hip until he got the message and twisted, landing on his back with a laugh that cut short when she draped her body over his, clearly less worried about feeling caged in when she was on top.

“Good?” Rey asked shyly, her knees bracketing his hips, her hands on either side of his head.

“So good.” Poe gripped her hips, fingers pressing into her skin, and smiled into their next kiss. He was so in love with her it hurt, an ache that took up residence behind his breastbone, an ache that he was sure she could feel as she smoothed her hand over his chest and hummed happily into his jaw. She sank down onto him almost by accident, her hips dropping to allow her to kiss his neck, and Poe gasped as she brushed against his erection, bringing their pelvises very much into contact. 

Rey froze.

“Sorry.” Poe shook his head and brought his hands to frame her face, stroking his thumbs anxiously over her cheekbones. “Shit, sorry, sorry-”

Rey rolled her hips, her cheeks flushed and eyes bright but confused, and Poe groaned. He shook his head though. “We don’t have to-” he began, still staring into her beautiful hazel eyes,  “Just because I-”

“Feels good.” Rey laughed raggedly and rolled her hips again, dragging her heated core - and he could feel it, feel the heat radiating out from her, a thought that made his eyes roll into the back of his head- over his sweatpants, where his cock was starting to press more insistently against the fabric. “O -oh .”

“Yeah?” Poe ran his fingers through her hair before cupping the back of her neck. “You feel good too.”

Rey squeaked and kissed him greedily, still moving her hips, and he began to rock against her, in time, thrusting slowly. “Can I?” She gasped into his mouth. “Can I just-”

“I'm okay if you keep going, sweetheart.” Poe kissed her a little more filthily than he’d dared before, and used a lot of his remaining strength to still his hips. “Whatever works for you, I'm - this is great-”

She buried her face in the crook of his neck and continued to move her hips, small, desperate movements that he encouraged by keeping his hand flat on the small of her back, guiding her slightly. It wasn’t the most comfortable position for him to be in, but Rey whimpered prettily enough that he forgot all about any possible consequence or discomfort.

 “God, you’re so gorgeous,” he whispered, kissing the side of her neck. She rolled her hips particularly well, and he groaned again, wondering if he was going to be a total cliche and finish in his pants like a teenager, but the heat between them reached an almost unbearable height, and Rey’s fingers tightened where she was holding his bicep, tightened as she stiffened and let out an undeniable moan.

“Oh, sweetheart.” Poe peppered the side of her face with ardent kisses. “Did you- holy fuck-”

Rey was panting slightly, her eyes squeezed shut, and she covered them with her hand anyway. “Oh, fuck that was so embarrass-”

“No.” Poe said sternly. “No, that was - that was one of the sexiest things I’ve ever seen.”
“Was not,” Rey denied mulishly, shaking slightly from the exertion, “You didn’t even get to-”

“Get to?” Poe shook his head and nosed Rey gently along her hairline; she rolled over onto his side, and he rolled to face her, wrapping an arm around her and pulling her close. “I got to watch the most beautiful person I’ve ever met do that , and I got to be a part of it.”

“I can…” Rey trailed off, looking sad now as she reached down to where he was still tenting the front of his pants obscenely, but Poe caught her hand and brought it to his lips, kissing her fingertips gently.

“I just want to kiss you,” he said honestly. “Can I?”

“Of course.” Rey laughed, another embarrassed noise, and she sighed softly into his mouth as he surged forward and kissed her with a sort of desperation he hadn’t thought himself capable of. He didn’t realize he was whispering to her until he dragged his mouth to her cheek and pressed more kisses there, and then to the hollow under her ear, a place that made her gasp and roll her hips into his again. “... so beautiful ,” he was muttering, “ so sexy, so sweet, so-

“I love you,” Rey said, and they kissed again before lying down fully, Poe wrapping his arms around Rey as she nuzzled into his chest with a noise of contentment. “And I love pillow forts,” she added as an afterthought.

“Me too,” Poe laughed wonderingly, smiling up at the blanket over them.

Unknown to either, the snow continued to fall outside, covering Takodana and the surrounding forest; it brought a peace to the campus, a sort of stillness that had been hard-won. Neither Poe nor Rey paid the outside world any mind, too wrapped up in one another to care much at all for a silly little thing like the weather. 

Chapter Text

Rey woke up feeling over-warm and groggy. The first thing she saw was Bea next to her, her orange and white head on her paws, and the sight of the snoring dog made Rey smile in the grey light. She rolled over and saw Poe curled up next to her on her other side. He’d fallen asleep on top of the comforter and under a blanket pilfered from their fort; Rey had told him a few times she was more than comfortable if he slept under the comforter with her, but he was adamant that he would find a way to “octopus-snuggle her to death” in their sleep.

But on some level, Rey understood it was Poe’s way of keeping a boundary she’d expressed in the past. To his knowledge, she hadn’t wanted to sleep in the same bed as him before tonight - although really, she had, every time they got off the phone with each other before falling asleep, Rey had wished to be falling asleep next to Poe, even if she hadn’t been able to see it - so, he was going off the information he had, and clearly didn’t want to push any boundaries. 

The clock on the bedside table told her it was just after four a.m. All weather forecasts had suggested that the blizzard conditions would around midnight, but it would still snow heavily on and off until early Monday morning. In an unusual twist, Takodana had cancelled classes on Monday: the university was famous for resisting snow closures for as long as possible, but a power grid had gone down on west campus, and technicians wouldn’t be able to come down until Monday morning to fix it. 

Poe had extended the invitation to stay until campus was cleared, but Rey couldn’t kick the feeling that she was somehow intruding on his space. She loved his apartment, loved Bea - and loved Poe, of course - but it was his space, and she’d spent too long being told she was taking up valuable space and resources to really think that he truly wanted her there. It was impossible most days to not think of herself as a burden on others, even when the person was as selfless and giving as Poe or Obi, who she also felt like she took advantage of most days.

She sighed through her nose and reached a hand out blindly to scratch Bea, who twitched slightly and huffed before rolling to let Rey rub her belly while still snoozing. Rey giggled softly, and then Poe shifted, humming as he half-opened his eyes

“Wh’time’s’t?” he mumbled, only one eye cracked open, visible in the grey light of his bedroom.

“Four,” Rey whispered back, smiling at him. 

“Mmmmnooo.” Poe shook his head and slung an arm around Rey’s middle, rolling towards her. “Four’s too early.” His curls were midnight blue in the dark, spilled across his orange and white pillows, and Rey ran the backs of her fingers along the sharp line of his jaw, admiring the way his scruff felt against her skin. 

A shiver of want crossed over her, and she slid toward him under the covers. It was quiet, and felt safe, and Poe’s warmth radiated outwards, sleep-soft and gentle, and Rey wanted him in a way she hadn’t before. She wanted him here in the quiet dark of his room in the early morning, with the snow covering the world and turning it to something new. 

Daringly, Rey leaned in and replaced her fingers with her mouth, slowly kissing his jaw. Poe shifted once more, stilling but coming to life at the same time. 

“Rey.” He exhaled her name, both his eyes open now, but heavy with sleep. “You’re - ‘m I dreaming?”

Rey shook her head, smiling through the fluttering in her stomach, and Poe hummed, low in his throat. His arm was heavy but not constricing over her middle when he leaned in to kiss her for real; Rey briefly worried about her breath, but she found that she didn’t care, not with Poe’s tongue, hot and lazy-slow from sleep, dragging a careful pattern over her bottom lip and then stroking into her mouth. She pressed herself against him as much as she could with him above the covers, and when it wasn’t enough, she broke away from the kiss to thrash her limbs somewhat ungracefully to free them from the comforter, so she could get closer still.

“Rey,” Poe kept whispering her name between kisses, his hands hesitant but firm at the same time; hesitant in where to move, firm when they landed. It dragged more shivers across her skin, and Rey felt tipsy on the thrill of his want, the memory of the previous afternoon bold in her mind, telling her to chase that feeling again, to spiral dizzyingly out of control with someone she trusted to be good to her the whole time.

Poe kissed her neck slowly, still sleepy even in his clear arousal, and Rey felt a strange surging in her chest. “I love you,” Rey whispered to him, overcome suddenly with the truth of it. Poe’s mouth didn’t leave her skin as he dragged himself back up to kiss her, and he didn’t say a word; he didn’t have to, the way he kissed her, fierce and powerful, sparking lights under her skin that didn’t fade as she tried to kiss him back, no doubt clumsily, but earnestly still. 

They moved together in the dark, laughing softly when Bea jumped off the bed with a huff, and Rey tugged Poe on top of her, wanting but not quite understanding why she wanted him over her. He was less careful there in the early morning, clumsy from sleep, and his body was almost heavy over hers; her heart picked up pace, and her hips moved as they had yesterday, and she couldn’t understand the things her body was telling her to do.

All at once, she wanted more - and less, because more meant that - and then it wasn’t Poe’s hands she felt  - they were someone else’s, a ghost that never quite stopped hunting her, and Rey’s breath caught as her hands froze. She didn’t say anything. She couldn’t because her exhilaration at touching Poe and feel him on top of her suddenly surged and turned inside out, turning into shame and fear and doubt, and her words were frozen in her throat, never really born at all. Jagged shards of it seemed to pierce her, and her body stilled where it had been rejoicing only seconds before.

And Poe stopped moving. “Are you-” he pulled away and studied her face in the half-light trickling through the window from the nearby lamp post. “Hey. Hey Sunshine.” He stroked his thumb over her cheekbone, tracking a tear Rey hadn’t realized had fallen. “That was a lot, huh?”

She nodded soundlessly, staring at the ceiling and trying to stay there where it was warm and safe and smelled like Poe. The memories clouded in at the edges of her thoughts, and she pushed them away desperately.

“It’s okay,” Poe whispered, lying down on his side. “It’s okay if you want to stop.” 

“I’m sorry,” Rey muttered miserably, but it sounded pathetic to her own ears. “I-”

“Why are you sorry, sweetheart?” Poe took her hand where it was curled on her waist, her thumb scratching absently at her hipbone. He kissed her fingertips gently and smiled at her - she didn’t look at him, but she knew he was smiling somehow. 

“Because I - I kissed you and-”

“And we kissed.” Poe kissed her hand demonstratively, and she glared at the ceiling.

“But it was - it felt like more,” Rey tried to explain the tangle of thoughts in her head. “I wanted it to be more - and you did too -”

“I did,” Poe answered evenly. “Until you didn’t.”

“I’m sorry,” Rey repeated, finally turning to look at him. “I’m sorry for waking you up and - and then not knowing what I wanted and teasing you-”

“Hey.” He frowned, and Rey stilled, wondering what he would say. “Listen to me. Hey.” Their hands were clasped between them, their feet still touching, and Poe’s eyes were dark, his voice soft, and Rey barely felt her normal urge to curl up into a ball and hide from how she felt. “I love you. So much. And - and you’re brilliant. Incredible. Funny, and smart, like what the hell are you doing with me smart-” He ducked in to see her face more, and Rey smiled despite how embarrassed she was. “And even your brain won’t know be able to predict you’re going to feel every second of every day. But I need you to know that you can always tell me no. No, you don’t want to do something. No, you don’t like what I cooked-” Doubtful , Rey thought to herself, thinking back to his delicious dinner the previous night, “No, you’d rather not see that movie, or talk about that thing. No, you changed your mind.” 

Poe kissed her hand again, pressing his lips into the back of it like he was whispering something; Rey wished she could hear whatever it is he was thinking as he took a second to gather his thoughts. “I love your mind. I do.  And it’s going to change, a lot. And I’m going to love you when your mind changes, and I’m never going to care or feel … teased or whatever if you change it.”

“Okay,” Rey whispered, her cheeks warm and still somewhat knocked sideways by the interrupted kissing and her lingering embarrassment. She wanted to believe him though. 

“Okay.” Poe smiled at her and ran his fingers through her hair slowly; it felt nice, and Rey closed her eyes, remembering that it was four a.m. “That was a lot to talk about so early - do you want to go back to sleep? Or get up?”

“Sleep,” Rey shifted closer to him, chilly without the comforter or Poe right next to her. “Could you - could you maybe-” she managed to get herself under his arm, and Poe made a soft noise as he held her tightly to him, her face pressed into his solid, warm chest. She could feel the outline of his mother’s ring through his shirt, and her body relaxed being so close to him. 

“I love you,” Poe said, his lips against the top of her head, and Rey smiled, feeling safe once more. 

Bea eventually returned to the bed, only slightly insulted at having been booted in the first place, and the three fell back asleep in the early hours of the morning, the snow stopping outside the window as the sun finally rose, unknown to all.


“C’mon Bea.” Poe wiped a hand over his face and groaned in irritation. “Just … make. Poop. Do your thing.”

Beatrice the Eighth stared at him primly from the perfectly adequate trench he’d dug her and huffed reproachfully.

“Bea,” Poe was approaching a whine now. “We gotta go back inside. Rey’s there.” Bea’s ears perked up. “Yeah. You like Rey. If you poop, you can see Rey.” If you poop, I can see Rey, Poe grumbled to himself.

“That’s quite the ultimatum.” 

Poe and Bea both looked up to the stairs and watched Rey Kenobi make her way carefully down the icy steps. Her hair was tucked up in a braid, still damp from the shower (no, Poe had not let his mind wander to imagining Rey using his shower. Also, to answer his dad’s teasing text this morning, he was being totally chill with Rey basically living with him this weekend, thanks, Kes), and she was wearing at least two sweaters over her leggings.

“You could have borrowed one of my jackets,” Poe said automatically, concerned that she was cold. “Also - here-” Rey drew close to where he was waiting for Bea, and he took off his hat and handed it to her. Rey took it, brow quirked, and Poe rubbed his neck with the hand holding the slack leash. “You’ll get sick if you go outside with wet hair.”

“...did an adult tell you that?” Rey cocked her head and shrugged. “What a strange concept.”

“I am an adult,” Poe muttered mulishly, frowning until she put the hat on. Rey crouched down and scratched Bea behind the ears, the corgi abandoning her poop trench entirely to wiggle her butt happily next to Rey. “And she has to poop before we go inside.”

“Can you poop, Bea?” Rey asked sweetly. Bea wagged her tail and did not poop. “Guess we’ll have to wait for you then.”

With a sigh, Poe unclipped Bea’s leash: no one was on the road, and he doubted an animal less than a foot tall would get far in almost three feet of snow. Bea barked and then jumped into a pile of snow, almost swimming through it - they could see flashes of orange and off-white fur, and every so often, Bea would surface and then wade through more snow. 

“That’s not pooping,” Poe grumbled, walking over to watch Bea frolic in a large stretch of snow. The snow had settled here, making a flat surface that was interrupted only by the streaks and divets made by his dog; Rey examined the snow thoughtfully and then laughed when Bea breached the surface and flopped down again.

“I think she makes an excellent snowman,” Rey decreed when Bea paused to pant happily at them, a mound of snow on her head. She went back to burrowing in the snow, and as Rey laughed, Poe thought he could do something cuter than Bea, which might get Rey to laugh more.

He fell backwards without trying to catch himself; the snow caught him with a soft whump, and he began to wave his arms and legs like he was doing jumping jacks. The cold snow tickled his neck, but his parka stopped him from really feeling it. It felt great to be outside after being cooped up for over a day (even if he was cooped up with Rey, which made the entire experience about a billion times more preferable), and Poe closed his eyes, relishing in the clean air and light filtering through the still heavy clouds.

“...What are you doing?”

Poe smiled at the now-familiar sound of Rey’s lilting accent, the most beautiful voice he’d ever heard. “I’m making a snow angel,” he said, squinting up at her when she leaned over him to frown thoughfully.

“...I thought you had to build those?”

“What?” Poe paused and sat up: he offered his hand to Rey, who took it, clearly not understanding why until he moved to stand. She helped pull him out of the snow angel he’d made, and he hopped carefully so as not to disturb it. 

“Snow angel,” Poe said proudly, gesturing to the ground. 

“Never heard of it.” Rey made a face. “Is it an American thing?’

“I’m like a thousand percent sure the answer to that question is no.” Poe shrugged and wiped some snow out of his hair. “I didn’t make one until I was sixteen though; Cassian Andor had us out to his family home in Fest, and it snows all the time up there. His wife didn’t understand it either...although...come to think of it…” Poe wiped some melting snow off his neck, “Jyn is English too…”

“I see.” Rey picked up a handful of snow and let it fall through her bare, red fingers. “It’s all our fault, clearly.”

“Clearly.” Poe considered handing Rey his gloves but thought better of it. She picked up another handful of snow and, without warning, took a bite of it.

“Uhhh.” Poe held up a hand and pointed at the snow. “That’s...probably not clean.”

“Yes it is.” Rey held it out demonstratively. “It’s white still. It’s clean.”

“Yeah but...snow is … it’s like … contaminated like rain is. You wouldn’t drink ra--” He stopped at the look on Rey’s face, half-amused, half-exasperated. “You drink rain?” She nodded. “And … eat snow.”

Rey’s fingers curled over the snow protectively as her arm dropped to her side. She stared at the ground in front of her, her cheeks blossoming with red suddenly. “I … I was really hungry as a child.” She swallowed, and Poe took an instinctive step toward her, watching how the snow began to drip between the closed fingers of her fist. “...Starving, actually. And … it was very bad when I was seven or so. At least, I think I was seven.” She blinked, and Poe didn’t move, just listened as Rey carved out a memory from her past to show to him. It felt important for him to just listen.

“It snowed, in the village, and … there was piles of it. And I was so hungry, so I would eat it, and it would … it’d fill me up for a while. Maybe an hour or two. Because I’d eat a lot of it. Pretend it was real food.” She laughed but it didn’t sound happy. “I ate dirty snow by accident and got violently ill, but even that … that was better than being hungry.”

Poe’s throat spasmed like he was about to cry, and he spoke hoarsely when he trusted himself not to cry. “Christ, Rey - was that at the group home?” She’d told him months ago about growing up in the foster system in Nottingham (and he remembered how she’d tensed when he teased her about stealing food like Robin Hood - holy fucking hell, how had she ever forgiven him for being so insensitive?)

“I wouldn’t call that a home,” Rey snapped, standing up tall, half-fire, half-water in her eyes when she looked at Poe. “Unkar was more interested in using the money he got for keeping us - for forcing us to work for him, for forcing us to steal for him - he used that money for booze. Forget food.” She spat the words out, incensed, and Poe opened his mouth, unsure of what to say but knowing he needed to say something. Rey shook herself and looked down at Bea, who’d waddled up to her and was sitting at her feet.

“Good girl,” Rey said dispiritedly. “She finally went.”

“I’ll...I’ll clean it up.” Poe pulled the bag from his pocket and cleared his throat. “If you wanna take her inside … she’s expecting a treat.” Bea wagged her tail at the sound of her second favorite word (first being “Rey,” apparently), and Rey nodded, holding her hand out for the leash and keys.

Poe took a little longer than he could have, wanting to give Rey time to think and process, and himself, and the stairs felt taller than usual as he climbed them after cleaning up Bea’s mess. He knocked on the apartment door before walking in, and saw Rey sitting on the couch, Bea in her lap, crunching away at a massive Milkbone. 

“Hey.” Poe washed his hands in the kitchen sink after hanging up his jacket, and Rey muttered a greeting back to him. He could see from the sink that her neck was bright pink, and she made no move or sound after saying hello to him. Drying his hands carefully on a towel, Poe walked over to the sectional and sat on the stretch of the couch opposite to Rey. 

Their blanket fort was mildly in ruin at their feet, still discernible in shape, but its structure collapsing, but Poe felt a weird urge to crawl into it anyway, to take Rey’s hand and pull her in after him, to wrap her up in blankets and pillows and lock out the world from ever hurting her again. But … that wasn’t life. That wasn’t Rey’s life - she was too bold to hide, too brave to run, and he needed to give her what he could to help her get through the other side, even if that was just his silent support.

“Did you want to talk about it?” Poe asked quietly, his hands in his lap to stop them from fidgeting. The only sound between his words was the sound of Bea crunching. “...Your childhood?”

Rey shook her head without looking up; her eyes were a thousand miles away. “I survived,” she said simply. “There isn’t much more to talk about.”

“Okay.” Poe sat up closer to her on the couch, and pulled a pillow onto his lap. They sat in silence for a few minutes, Rey scratching Bea on the ruff. When the corgi finished her treat, she nosed Rey’s arm as though looking for another treat, and Rey’s hand moved to rubbing between her perky ears. It was then that Rey spoke again.

“Ben-” she pursed her lips and shook her head minutely before correcting herself, “ Kylo - he knew. He knew … all the shit that happened to me as a kid. He, uh, his uncle and my uncle are very close, and - and his parents were worried about him as a kid, so they sent him to live with Luke for a summer to give him a break. That was the summer Obi brought me home from England.”

Nauseated. That was how Poe would describe sitting on his couch, listening to Rey carve out this piece of herself for him - the revulsion he felt when normally thinking about Kylo Ren in relation to the woman he loved was only amplified with that knowledge. They knew each other as kids? 

“I wouldn’t say we … were best friends,” Rey said softly. “He was - is - a few years older, and … and I was half-feral when I went to live with Obi, but … he told me he understood. We were both so angry. His mother must have told him some version of … everything, so he already knew something, and I told him other parts, and … and we weren’t close, but… I thought of him as … someone who understood me.”

She paused, her voice catching horribly, and Poe sat as still as possible, aware of the foot and a half that separated them, worrying it was too much space, or not enough. Rey cleared her throat. “He … pretended to be sympathetic. I came here, and he was finishing up his degree, and … and I always thought that … that he was like an older brother, or like a cousin or something, and he didn’t… he didn’t think of me that way.” She ended in a whisper, her eyes sad and angry and everything in between. 

“Rey.” Poe said her name gently. What would he say then? It’s not your fault? He’s a monster? He shouldn’t have been allowed within ten miles of you?

“He … I wouldn’t have gone to a party without a friend,” her hand twisted in Bea’s fur, not enough to bother the dog, but enough for Poe to see how upset she was, “I wouldn’t have - I - I always went with Jess, but - but he was - he was a friend- and - and then he-”

She stilled and didn’t continue. Bea whined slightly and placed her nose in the crook of Rey’s elbow, and Poe studied Rey’s face through his own blurring eyes.

“Rey?” She blinked and looked back at him, her eyes distant and clouded. “Rey, sweetheart, I - I love you.”

She stared at him, looking slightly confused.

“I don’t know what else to say,” Poe admitted, shaking his head slowly. “Except - you can tell me anything, whenever. Anything at all. And - and I love you, and you’re a good person-” she looked doubtful now - “you are , and-” and I’d fight the world for you, I’d make sure he never looked at you again, and - “I always want to listen to you. Always.”

Rey nodded, her mouth trembling slightly. Then, she bowed her head and covered her eyes with her hand, her hand shaking as she did so. He thought she was crying because her shoulder shook too, but Rey gritted her teeth and looked up - her eyes free of tears.

“I’m so angry,” she said, the words spilling out in a rush. “I’m so fucking angry all the time, and - and I don’t know what to do with that because I’m angry, and I’m scared and - and -” She shook her head and covered her mouth for a second. “And it’s like it’s … it’s this poison inside of me. I don’t like being angry, but I’ve been angry since I was a child and how - how can a good person b-be angry all the time?”

Poe slid closer to her on the couch, his hand outstretched; he moved slowly to give her time to tell him to fuck off, but she didn’t. Instead, she leaned into his side and he could feel her shaking. It came to him, what to say:

“You aren’t cruel.”

Rey looked up at that.

“You’re kind.” Poe scratched Bea’s ruff. “Bea knows. Finn knows. Rose and Jess - they know. Your uncle, and Luke - they all know that you’re kind. People wouldn’t want to talk to you if you were cruel; or, the people you know would be cruel, and you’d just be like them. But you’re friends with good people, Rey, and they love you because you’re good. And - and you’re angry. So much shit has happened to you, I don’t even understand how -” his voice broke, horribly - “how the world has been so cruel to you, but it hasn’t made you mean or cruel or vindictive. You’re kind, and you help other people, and you can be those things and do those things and still be angry.”

“Are you sure?” Rey asked, sounding young and unsure.

“I’m sure,” Poe answered readily. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders, and Rey curved in until her face was buried in his neck, where it met his shoulder. “And I’m sure that I love you, and I’m sure that I wouldn’t love someone who wasn’t good - I love you.” He kissed the top of her head, and while he wasn’t sure if she cried then, he knew he did.

They stayed like that for a long time, neither one speaking, but both understanding what it meant to just sit and be with someone who loved you.

Chapter Text

“Spit!” 

“Fuck!”

Poe nearly dropped his cards as he hurried to lay out the next round of top cards; Rey took advantage of this and waited mercilessly at the start of the round to start preparing her victory. Poe was smart, after all, but she was quicker, and she’d won the last two card games they played.

They wouldn’t talk about Scrabble ever again, she decided. Scrabble was for nerds, anyway. That was why she lost.

Without hesitation, Rey quickly reordered her cards and kept an eye on the single spit pile left - Poe groaned and fell backward as she slapped the last card down and pumped her fist in the air.

“I’m ruined,” Poe moaned, “You’ve destroyed my self esteem.”

“Good,” Rey cackled, collecting her bounty. Two delicious chocolate chip cookies. She stuffed them both in her face as Poe stretched out his arms and groaned louder. Bea, concerned about Poe’s apparently impending death, waddled over and snuffled his face for a second before deciding he was in no danger. 

“Bea - no!”

Bea sat on Poe’s chest, her ass towards his face, and Poe tapped her on the side. “No, Bea-”

“She’s so tiny,” Rey protested, collecting the cards and shuffling them in a perfect arc before tapping them on the coffee table. “Leave her be.”

“She ate Pupperoni! And that means-” there was a horrible low-pitched squeal. Poe gagged and pushed at his dog. “Pupperoni farts, yuck.”

Rey wrinkled her nose and laughed. “Shall I kick your ass at rummy next?”

“Let’s play Boggle.”

“No, you tricked me before with your little nerdy word games. I won’t be brought in again, Dameron.” Rey pointed the deck of cards threateningly at him, and Poe sat up, free of Bea at last, and sighed heavily.

“Fine. Trivial Pursuit?”

“Not in a thousand years.”

“...Monopoly.”

Rey squinted at him. “I’ve never actually played that … is it actually fun?”

“Loads of fun,” Poe promised, smiling like a Boy Scout. Rey’s eyes narrowed further. 

“I don’t believe you.”

“It’s in the hall closet.” He stood up and brushed his sweater off with a height of dignity that was undercut by how much dog hair was on that sweater. “If you excuse me, I’m going to wash my face.”

Rey giggled as Poe marched into the bathroom; she could hear the water turn on as she shuffled to the closet in her borrowed slippers and opened the door.

Monopoly was in the top corner of the shelf, far back, so she hunted around for a step stool or a box to stand on while she dragged it down. It was there that she found it, propped up in the corner, masquerading as a broom handle or something of the sort.

Poe spotted her when he came out of the bathroom, drying his hands on his sweater, and his face lit up with a smile as she tested the staff she’d found.

“You know how to use that?” 

“Mhm.” Rey spun the bo staff, pleased to feel that the weight was the same in her hands as it had been over a year ago. She didn’t feel self-conscious with Poe watching her, but focused on the staff as an extension of herself, weaving through the open space of the living room, going through the warm-up motions that she used to practice much more frequently. “Jess and I took a class, and she’s really handy with one of these.”

“That’s actually Jess’s,” Poe commented, settling in on the couch to watch her. “She left it here one day, but she said she didn’t need it.”

Rey frowned at that, and flipped the staff in her hands - there it was. The notch she’d carved into it on a random urge her freshman year. “Because it’s actually mine.” She sat on the ottoman and studied the staff more, running her hands over it slowly. “I wondered where this went… I, um, wasn’t supposed to have … access to weapons … after …” She felt her face heat up, and Poe didn’t say anything, no doubt giving her the space to say what she needed to.

“They made me go to the hospital.” Rey’s hands tightened around the staff. “After… he made it seem like I was … losing my mind. I know now he was actually stalking me, but … but I was losing so much sleep, and … they were worried I’d hurt myself, so.” She shrugged.

“Would you have?” Poe’s question startled her slightly; it wasn’t like him to be blunt in his questions. She raised her eyes to his face and saw he was studying her thoughtfully. There wasn’t a hint of judgement in his face, but her anxiety flared anyway. 

“No.” Rey gripped the staff even tighter. “I might have given him another scar, but … I don’t think I would have hurt myself. But I can see why they’d be worried I might.” She studied the bo staff, and, not even to change the subject, she said, “I miss using my body like this.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. I liked … learning all the different forms. Feeling powerful. Seeing what my body could do. How I could control it. I miss it.”

“Karé teaches a self defense class.” Poe smiled when she looked up, very interested. “Twice a week, out of the Rec. She’d love it if you dropped in.”

Rey thought about that for a second, the idea bubbling warmly in her stomach. She nodded, eagerly, knowing that she had a goofy smile on her face, but it was matched by Poe’s. 

“You’d probably be top of the class, Kenobi.” Poe propped his feet up on the ottoman she was sitting on, and Rey pretended to jab at him with the bo staff. He held his hands up with a huff, and then groaned when Bea took a running jump from the floor to land on his stomach. “I’m an easy target,” he grumbled, “Even the dog can take me out.”

“I’m sure you’re much harder to take down than you’d expect,” Rey said comfortingly as she went back to the closet. 

Rey placed the bo staff carefully back in the closet, and then dragged the Monopoly box down; they played for an hour or so before Rey threw the card telling her to go to jail for the second time down with a huff.

“This is a horrible game,” Rey snapped, her chin propped up on her fist as she struggled to keep her eyes open. “How much longer will it take?”

“Uh. Another hour, maybe more?” Poe shuffled his disgustingly large stack of money, and Rey eyed his row of perfect houses on the other side of the board maliciously. “...What?”

“I’m going to attack.” Rey rattled the bottom of the coffee table, and Poe laughed.

“You can’t attack - this isn’t an attack kind of game-”

“You’re hoarding the wealth!” Rey declared, poking at one of his massive plastic houses. “Stealing from us little guys!”

“No!” Poe pretended to protect his houses with his hand, trying to stop her when she wiggled her fingers under his hand-shield. “We worked hard for this luxury!”

“That’s what they all say!” She jumped up and tried to grab his money pile, and Poe howled in protest. “I’m re-distributing the wealth!”

“I won’t let you!”

They fake-tussled over the money and the houses, eventually collapsing onto the couch, giggling, as Rey tried to wrest a property card from Poe’s hand; she ended up straddling his lap, reaching for the card as he tried to hold it out of reach, and they were both red-faced and panting when their eyes locked.

“...I want Broadway,” Rey whispered, and Poe’s eyes were wide and heated when he held the card up to her.

“Alright. I want you to have it.”

“Is this a trick, Mr. Moneybags?”

“Well, my real name is Rich Uncle Moneybags,” Poe muttered, still obviously staring at her mouth. “But-”

Rey grabbed the card and then kissed him, her hands on his face; she threw the card over her shoulder when she grew tired of holding it, and they spent a much happier half hour kissing on the couch, their hands wandering lazily over clothes. 

They were cuddling later, with Rey’s head on Poe’s chest, when he threaded their fingers together and kissed the top of her head. “Would you…” He cleared his throat. “You can say no, obviously, but … my premiere is on Thursday. Would you...would you want to be my date?”

She tensed, and Poe slid out from underneath her carefully to look at her expression. “I know it’s a lot.”

“Yeah.” Rey nodded, and tried to think of a good way to say it. “...Do you really want to be photographed with … me?”

“Yes.” He didn’t even think about it, just smiled and answered easily. 

“But … I’m a nobody.”

“No, you aren’t.” Poe propped his head on his hand and frowned. “You’re Rey. You’re my girlfriend, and I love you, and I want you to be my date, if you don’t mind coming to California with me.”

“It’s not that easy.” Rey sighed and glared at the ceiling for a second. “I don’t … think I want that many cameras on me. And I don’t think… I want to meet Hollywood before I even meet your dad.”

“Okay.” Poe kissed her hand again and settled in next to her, his arm around her waist. “That makes total sense. And, for the record, my dad really wants to meet you. We probably wouldn’t have time for it on this trip, but he does want to meet you, soon.”

“Okay.” Rey nodded and smiled at him. “I’d like that. And … I want you to meet Obi.”

“Yeah?” His smile was questioning but truly happy, and Rey kissed him for it, happy that he was happy, happy that he wanted her to meet his family - just happy.


Tomorrow, they’d head back to classes and normal life. Poe tried not to think about it as a tragedy, but the idea of Rey heading back to her dorm - he grumbled and turned the water on in the shower, wanting it as hot as possible to relax some of the tension in his knee. The old injury got worse with the bad weather, and three days of being cooped up inside (with Rey, which made it a billion times better) didn’t help matters. 

As he waited for the water to heat up, Poe let his mind wander to an impossible reality where he could convince Rey to move in with him; realistically, they’d only been officially dating for a few weeks. But, also realistically, they were in love, and Poe knew he loved Rey with that forever sort of love, and he knew her dorm room was crap, and he knew that he loved having her here all weekend. He loved holding her as they fell asleep, loved waking up to see her first thing in the morning, loved her kicking his ass in every possible game (except Scrabble, which he’d played with his mother for hours and hours and hours when she got sick), loved her chilly feet wiggling under the blanket to sap his warmth while they binged Netflix shows. 

When the steam was rising from the shower, he climbed in and stood under the stream for a few seconds, his eyes closed as his mind stayed firmly in a pleasant future that he prayed could actually happen. He didn’t think much of anything besides Rey, studying curled up on the couch where he’d left her to come shower; he didn’t even think about her the way he was sure people thought about their girlfriends in the shower, just let himself wander in the thought of her chewing on her pencil as she figured out a tough problem, or her laughing at Bea rolling around on the carpet.

There was a knock at the bathroom door, right as he rinsed the last of the shampoo from his hair.

“Yeah?”

Rey’s voice was muffled by the door. “Can I come in?”

“Uh, yeah, sure!” Poe made sure the curtain was all the way closed. The toothbrush he lent her was in here, so he figured she needed to freshen up. “Come in!”

He couldn’t hear the door over the shower, but he did hear Rey clear her throat a second or two after he told her to come in.

“Um.” 

Poe poked his head around the curtain and saw her waiting there, wearing nothing but a sweater; he pretended he didn’t gulp at the sight of her bare legs.

“Hi.” Poe stared at Rey, the water plastering his hair to his head starting to run into his eyes.

“Can I join you?” Rey asked shyly, and after a second of brain static, Poe nodded, mouth dry even though he was soaking wet.

“Uh, yeah, let me just,” Poe pulled back the curtain slightly while looking around for a towel or something to cover his dick, which had twitched and remembered how much it liked Rey. 

Rey pulled her sweater over her head and let it pool on the floor behind her.

“Uh-” Poe froze, hands in front of his penis. “What are you-”

“Is this okay?” Rey’s hands went behind her back, to the clasp of her faded but pretty blue bra. Poe nodded mutely. Rey smiled, bright pink, a color that went all the way down to her chest, and let the straps of her bra fall down her arms. It joined her sweater a second later, and then Rey was shimmying out of her underwear; Poe turned and faced the wall under the pretense of rinsing some shampoo out of his hair, but really he was willing his now-very-interested dick into submission. It wasn’t working.

He heard the shower curtain be pulled back more, and then Rey stepped into the shower behind him. Poe swore he could feel the heat radiating off of her, bleeding into his skin, and he tried not to turn around. He felt like Orpheus, worried that if he looked back, she’d disappear, or startle, or-

“Can I-” Poe shifted out of the way when Rey touched his arm, and he smiled when he met her eyes, scooting past her so she could stand under the spray. “Oh, that’s nice.”

“Mhm.” Poe hummed in agreement and watched as Rey’s hair was drenched by the stream of water. 

“It’s so warm.” Rey sighed happily and stretched her hands out, her eyes closing blissfully. Poe swallowed and kept his eyes on her lovely, upturned face. It wasn’t a herculean effort. It was his favorite face, after all. 

Poe shivered, his body cooler in the air outside the spray of water, and Rey noticed as her eyes had opened again. “C’mere,” she whispered, reaching for him. He paused for a second, unsure if she meant it, or if she was just being nice, but then Rey waved her hand at him impatiently. “C’mon, come get warm.”

“Okay.” Poe shuffled under the water and stood in front of Rey. The water coursed around them, trickling into their eyes and creating rivulets down Rey’s face, rivers between the landmarks of her freckles, and Poe chased the path with his fingertips. Rey closed her eyes again and tilted her face into his hand. They stood there for a few seconds, nothing but the water and the steam rising up around them.

“Guess I should-” Rey gestured at the shampoo next to Poe’s elbow, and he nodded, still wondering when he’d wake up from this dream. He grabbed it for her, and then hesitated.

“Do you want me to-” Poe held the bottle up, and Rey smiled at him.

“Yeah, sure.” She closed her eyes and took a step toward him. “Go ahead.”

The implicit trust in that gesture crashed into him and almost threw him off balance, but Poe didn’t let himself freeze up for long; he flipped open the bottle and poured out a decent amount into his hand and then began to work it into Rey’s damp hair. 

“How’s that?” He didn’t recognize his own voice.

“Mmm, ‘snice.” Rey sighed, and he tapped her shoulder. 

“Can I stand behind you?” 

She nodded, and they shuffled awkwardly around each other, Poe’s hands still in her hair, and with her back to him and the spray, Rey tilted her head back into his hands as he worked the shampoo into an actual lather. He tried not to notice when she moaned in contentment, his nails scratching at her scalp slightly, but when Rey took a step back as he rinsed some of the shampoo from her hair, he didn’t respond in time.

Which meant she bumped into his clearly erect cock. 

“Sorry.” Poe jerked back and almost slammed into the shower wall. “Shit, I’m so sorry-”

“It’s okay.” Rey finished rinsing the shampoo herself, and Poe set the bottle down, agonizing over how she must be - “Poe, it’s okay.” She turned around and took another step towards him, holding her hand out. “I … I came in here naked. I knew you’d be naked. It’s really … fine.”

“Right.” Poe nodded. Context. 

“Is it okay?” Rey looked unsure. “I sort of ambushed you in here-”

“You didn’t.” Poe laughed and took her hand, letting her pull him under the water. “You are … very much welcome in here. I mean,” he gestured at his dick, blushing furiously when her eyes followed the motion. “...Yeah.”

“Oh.” Rey’s face was pink when she looked back up at him, her eyes comically wide. Poe was half-proud, half-mortified, but landed on the former when Rey smirked at him. “Wow.”

“It’s nothin’ much,” Poe muttered, ducking his head. Rey darted in and kissed him quickly, and he smiled for real. 

“I knew you were fit,” Rey commented lightly, pulling back. “But … that’s a little ridiculous.”

“Uh?” Poe looked down at his body, confused. His torso was undefined, something that directors had griped at him for in the past. His shoulders were broad, sure, and he was proud of the muscles there, but he knew he didn’t have the ‘look’ of most tall, ripped actors. “...That’s really nothing much.”

“I disagree.” Rey was red now, and he caught her staring at his chest before her eyes darted up to his guiltily. “Sorry. I shouldn’t … ogle.”

“You can ogle whenever you want, Sunshine.” Poe laughed, and Rey smiled shyly. “Or more than ogle. Whatever … works for you.”

“Can I-” Rey reached out, and Poe nodded. 

He was grateful for his hot water heater because the steam gave him an excuse to be as red as he was when Rey touched his chest softly. She dragged her fingers slowly over his pectoral muscles, and Poe tried to keep his breath steady. When her fingers trailed over his abdomen, he sucked a breath in, and Rey muttered something under her breath.

“Pardon?”

“I said,” Rey laughed quietly, inaudible over the shower. “Holy fuck.”

Poe tried not to preen as her hands roved over his stomach and then switched to his forearms; she stroked her thumbs over his biceps, and he giggled as she dragged her fingertips along the inside of his upper arms.

“Ticklish?” 

“Yeah.” Poe twitched slightly when her hands moved. “Sorta-”

“Sorry.” Rey smiled guiltily. “Can I kiss you?”

“Mhm.” Poe tried not to let their bodies crash into each other when Rey stepped in for the kiss, but he forgot about decorum when her hands came up to cradle his jaw. He mirrored her, and soon they were pressed together, water trailing down their bare skin, and even though their hands didn’t go any lower than the neck, Poe shivered from how completely turned on he was. 

Rey gasped into his mouth when he switched to kissing her neck dreamily, and then she coughed -

He pulled back to study her face.

“Swallowed some-” She gestured at the showerhead and laughed, and Poe did too. His eyes were bleary from the water trailing into them, and Rey was pinker than she was a few minutes ago.

“Should we wrap up?” He turned off the water when Rey nodded, and he got out first to grab an extra towel.

Wrapping his around his waist, Poe handed the spare to Rey, who wrapped it around herself and tied it off neatly. He offered her a hand as she climbed out, and she stumbled slightly into his arms; they went from laughing to kissing in seconds, and while he didn’t feel any urgency in accelerating it past kissing, he couldn’t help the thrum of desire under his skin. Poe had never wanted someone as fully as this, wanted to be with them indefinitely, in any way possible. But, then again, he never could have predicted Rey Kenobi.


“Do you think Poe cares that people put him in fanart?” Finn asked idly, his feet propped up on the wall as he lay down on the bed, his head towards the floor.

“Huh?” Rey leaned over to see the photo Finn had pulled up from twitter.

It was - well, it was a very sexy drawing. Captain Hernandez had his shirt pulled up, showing off his abs, as a medical-bot tended to a jagged wound on his side. 

“They got his hair right,” Rey commented, going back to her matrices. “But his abs don’t look like that.”

She tapped her pencil on her paper, and almost missed Finn rolling onto his stomach to stare at her. When he didn’t so much as blink, Rey set her pencil down and looked at him.

“What?”

“...You know what Poe’s abs look like?”

“Uh.” Rey felt her ears turn pink, and she glared down at her homework. Her silence seemed to be vindication for Finn.

You know what Poe Dameron’s abs look like? ” 

“Maybe.” Rey tried to act nonchalant, but Finn flopped closer to her and took the pencil out of her hand.

“Did you two-”

“No!” Rey swatted at him and took her pencil back. “We made out. We were stuck inside for three days-”

“You made out with Poe Dameron’s shirt off ?” Finn demanded. Rey sighed, trying to figure out how to say this next part.

“No. We made out with his shirt on.” Finn hummed, and looked like he was going back to twitter, when she tacked on calmly, “I saw his abs in the shower.”

Finn fell off the bed as he tried to sit up to look at her. Rey glanced at him in concern, but Finn was already climbing back onto the bed. “Explain! Tell me everything!”

“Nope.” Rey shrugged and smiled at him. “But, if you must know, I joined him in the shower.”

“Peanut!”

Rey giggled as Finn clapped, a non-sarcastic round of applause. 

“Well, you could probably send your notes to you_only_love_xwing_once .” Finn waved his phone, and then clicked on something. “Hang on, he tagged Poe in this-”

“Poe doesn’t even have a twitter,” Rey mumbled. Snap had some intern run it, she knew by now, and Poe tried to avoid looking at it if he could. 

“Look! It’s a picture of Poe at the premiere!” Finn spun the phone to show Rey, and she smiled at the picture of Poe in California. Kes was his ‘date’ tonight, and the two were wearing matching suits of charcoal grey. 

“I think they’re winning the internet.” 

“Mmm.” Rey figured it was time to go back to her homework - but Finn had different ideas.

“Look, here’s Poe with his castmate, Zorri what’s-her-name-”

“Ugh.” Rey threw her notebook on the bed next to her and took the phone out of Finn’s hand. “Oh. She’s pretty… Annoying.” 

“She’s pretty annoying, or she’s pretty, and that’s annoying?”

Rey glared at him in answer, and Finn held a hand up in surrender. 

“Apparently, Poe looks tired, and Zorri looks pissed, so they clearly broke up,” Finn reported, clicking on a tabloid’s handle and reading the story there. 

“Oh, great.” Rey glowered and grabbed her notebook. 

“Really though, Poe does look tired. And a little sad?”

Rey grunted, and Finn set his phone down, catching onto her irritation. A minute later though, she sighed and said, “He invited me. And I said no.”

“Do you regret that?” 

“I regret not being there with him. I don’t regret not going. I… I really don’t think I could handle all that, and I know Poe would just be worried about me having a panic attack the whole time, and I would feel bad about him worrying, and-” She spun her pencil in a circle, indicating how it would go on and on, and Finn nodded sympathetically.

“Right.” He went back to his phone, and she went back to her work, and they were quiet for a few minutes, until Finn cleared his throat. “I might … be in a wikipedia article for your boyfriend.”

“Because, why not!” Rey closed her notebook and crossed her arms, realizing she probably wouldn’t get any more work done from the time being. Finn was giving her a strange look over the phone. “What?”

“...Do you know when your boyfriend was born?”

“That’s a weird question.” Rey thought about his age and did the math backwards. “1994?”

“Yep.” Finn tapped his fingers on the side of his phone. “And the day?”

“I-” Rey paused and tilted her head. “I’m not sure.”

“February 22, Peanut.” 

Rey stared at the floor, her eyes wide. “But … today’s…”

“February 20.” 

“Meep.” Rey didn’t think she’d ever made that noise before, but clearly her mouth had disconnected from her brain; which, to be fair, was now taking a major holiday.

“Yeah. Meep.” Finn patted her on the back. “So. Plans?”

Chapter Text

Poe returned without much aplomb on Friday morning. Rey waited for him outside his apartment, trying not to give off too much of an energy that said your birthday is tomorrow and I have no idea what to get you, lol!!!!!! Because inside, she was truly panicking.

Logically, she understood Poe wouldn’t care if she gave him absolutely nothing for his birthday, as long as they did something together. He was sweet that way, and she knew that he valued the time they spent together, if only because he seemed to make a point to tell her whenever they did anything as insignificant as study in the same room as each other. 

Romantically, Rey wanted to do some big gesture, like … like maybe ask him if he wanted to have sex. But, she still froze inside at the idea of - well, not of having sex with Poe. She wanted that, she knew she did, but she was so scared of how her body might react, or her brain, and the last thing she wanted was to have a full-blown panic attack or dissociate in the middle of their first time on Poe’s birthday. No, that … that could wait. Rey didn’t know when she’d trust herself enough to be that vulnerable with Poe, but at least she knew that she could trust Poe. That was a good first step.

Financially, there wasn’t much Rey could do for Poe’s birthday. She tried googling “birthday presents for college students” and when that yielded nothing useful, changed her search query to “I HAVE NO MONEY AND A CUTE BOYFRIEND WHAT DO” because it was two a.m. and she was really starting to worry. She could go the homemade route, but Rey was good at building mechanical things really, not cute things. Maybe Poe needed a circuit board re-wired…

Poe came home though, and when he got out of the car, wearing a soft, red sweater under his jacket, his jaw scruffy and eyes slightly swollen from the stress of his red-eye, Rey forgot her worry for a second, and launched herself into his arms, peppering the side of his face with kisses. 

“Well, that’s the best welcome I’ve ever gotten,” Poe commented warmly, humming in his throat when she kissed his jaw. His scruff scratched her cheek and nose, but she honestly didn’t care, not with Poe here - it was silly because he’d only been gone a full day, but-

“I missed you,” Rey whispered, embarrassed slightly by that fact, but Poe’s answering smile was brilliant when he pulled away.

“I missed you too.” He kissed her cheek and then they walked up to his apartment, hand-in-hand. Bea was as excited as Rey to see Poe, if not more, as she’d been left behind for this particular trip. Rey had been trusted with Poe’s spare key with the promise of walking and snuggling Bea (the latter being more emphasized in Poe’s directions because apparently Beatrice Dameron got into some shit when she felt unappreciated).

While Bea was happily slobbering over her owner, Rey took a seat at a bar stool at the kitchen counter and watched them for a long minute, wrestling with something on the tip of her tongue. Eventually, she couldn’t hold it back anymore.

“I’m really sorry,” Poe looked up, confused, “that I … wouldn’t go with you. I should have, and I had no real excuse to not go, I’m sorry-”

“Don’t be.” Poe stood up and wiped his face with the back of his hand. “You weren’t comfortable going, Sunshine, that’s literally the only ‘excuse’ you needed.” He washed his face at the sink and then came around the counter to give her a kiss. 

Poe smelled slightly stale - no doubt recycled air (Rey had been on an airplane once, when Obi brought her home from England, but she remembered clearly not liking the way it smelled on the plane) - but still like himself. Rey kissed him back enthusiastically, rising up from the stool, and Poe wrapped his arms around her middle to haul her in closer. 

“I love you,” he murmured, kissing her once, gently to end the embrace.

“I love you too,” Rey said, slightly off-balance from the kiss, as she leaned back against the counter.

“Well, that’s good.” 

Poe went to chuck his luggage into his bedroom, and Rey was impressed that he brought his laundry right to the washing machine; she avoided unpacking after coming back to campus, and that was with days worth of laundry usually. But, Poe was definitely responsible, and it was something she liked about him.

“How did it go?”

They’d talked briefly about it on the phone last night before he walked in, but Poe hadn’t wrapped up everything on his end until well after 3 a.m. in Takodana, so he’d sent her a text saying he loved her and hoped she was getting plenty of sleep (she wasn’t, she was panic-googling what to get your significant other, but he didn’t have to know that).  

“Pretty good.” Poe finished sorting his laundry and closed the lid to the machine. Bea hopped into the basket he left by the machine, and he scratched her ears before coming to sit on the couch. He smiled at Rey hopefully, gesturing to the seat next to him, and she walked over while trying to look like she wasn’t rushing; Poe wasn’t as worried about dignity, and snuggled into her side with a contented groan when she sat down. 

“It’s getting pretty good buzz,” he muttered into her shoulder. “We probably won’t know how good of buzz until next award season, and we couldn’t … get the production company to release it a few months early because it didn’t want to contend with their other more ‘Oscar-worthy’ projects, but … I’m glad we got to tell the story, and I didn’t hate watching it.”

“You didn’t?” Rey turned to face him, grinning. “Mr. Can’t Watch Himself Act? You liked it?”

“I said I didn’t hate it, I didn’t say I liked it!” Poe kissed her though, once on the nose, and once on the lips, smiling despite his grumbling. 

(Rey might have checked Rotten Tomatoes, and she knew for a fact that many, many critics more than ‘didn’t like’ Poe’s movie. The Resistance was actually around 93%, with the universal agreement being that this was a star-making turn for an already beloved television actor, but she decided that Poe probably didn’t want to hear that at the moment). 

“So, is this your favorite role?” Rey asked curiously. She never knew how many questions about Poe’s job were appropriate, and which ones were prying, but she figured if he brought it up, he might not mind answering one or two questions about acting. 

“Nah.” Poe rested his head on the back of the couch and shook his head slowly, studying the ceiling. His hand reached for hers, and Rey took it, threading their fingers together. “This is going to sound - so silly because I worked with a lot of important people on Resistance, and the story is obviously so important, and relevant, but -”

“But?”

“-But, I … I loved working on X-Wing.” Poe cleared his throat but didn’t look over. “It’s silly, I know, and I know it’s just a goofy tv show, and it had its … imperfections, but it was almost five years of my life, and I loved working on it, and it really sucks that NRBC got bought out by assholes because even if they wanted to prolong the series - which they definitely talked about during the takeover, after they held our fucking contracts hostage for months - I really, really don’t want to work for them.”

“Poe.” Rey squeezed his hand. “I had no idea, I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay.” Poe shrugged and turned his head to smile at her. “I loved Zaac Hernandez, and I loved my co-workers, and I loved the show, but … fuck Reginald Snoke.” He turned his head so she barely caught the way his expression twisted in disgust, and her stomach churned at the familiar name, familiar from the worst time in her life. Her cheeks heated at a painful thought.

“...If it weren’t for… me, would you… would you still do the show?”

“What?” Poe sat up and faced her fully. “No, Sunshine. No, don’t think like that, please - I mean, that only makes it so much easier to say no to those assholes because … because trust me when I say that it’s not any kind of sacrifice to stand with you and not with any motherfucker who’d hurt you -” his voice rose earnestly, and Rey’s ears felt very warm - Poe, when passionate, was very hard to look at because how was he real? “-but I wouldn’t work with them anyway because they’re the scum of the earth. What they - what he let happen - it -” Poe cut himself off, clearing his throat and he bent down to kiss her hands gently, bringing them up to meet his lips.

“I love you,” Rey offered, as if that could replace him losing his favorite role. 

The way Poe smiled at her made her hope that maybe, maybe it could. 

“I know,” he whispered, searching her face with a painfully evident joy on his face. “And - and I don’t know how I got so lucky, but goddamnit Rey, I’m going to make sure I deserve that, every day of my life if you’ll let me.”

The intensity of his promise caught her off-guard, but not as much as their next kiss; she got caught up in it, and when they tumbled backwards, Poe hovering over her carefully before twisting so they were lying side-by-side and kissing, all she could think about was the kind of forever that Poe had just talked about, so casually, as if he didn’t know that Rey Kenobi was the kind of person who was very easy to leave behind.

“I love you,” Poe murmured against her mouth, driving the thought of abandoned, left, unwanted, nobody from her mind almost entirely. “God, I love you.”

She hummed in response and tangled her fingers in his hair; they stopped only when her stomach growled, and Poe bounced up with a grin and a promise to make pancakes. Rey watched him almost skip into the kitchen and start clattering pots and pans around, and she propped her chin on the back of the couch, smiling through the curl of happiness in her stomach.

An idea struck her then, watching Poe crack eggs and mix batter, his hair still a mess from her hands. When he had his back to her at the range, the smell of sizzling batter filling the apartment, Rey whipped out her phone and created a quick group message, typing as quickly as she could before Poe turned back around.

When he did, with a plate full of pancakes and a broad smile, she smiled back at him, her phone back in her pocket - and, as she cut into her second pancake, her phone started to buzz, filling up with replies from people who also loved Poe Dameron.


On Saturday afternoon, Poe got a text from Finn, right around the time he was waiting on a text from Rey. 

She’d been busy all morning, and for some of last night as well, and he pretended that it didn’t bum him out - she didn’t know it was his birthday, after all, because he hadn’t told her, so he had no right to be mopey - but the idea of maybe getting to see her tonight was cheering him up considerably as he worked through an essay for Dr. Mothma. 

His phone buzzed right as he reached his conclusion. 

[Finn, 3:48 p.m . ]: Hey man, could you come to Col Serra in a bit?

Col Serra - what was Finn doing at an academic building on a weekend? Poe shrugged and responded.

Yeah man, give me twenty minutes. 

He got three thumbs up emojis in response, and Poe set his phone down and cracked his knuckles before resuming his essay. Luckily he’d already written his ultimate concluding statement on economic tensions in postcolonial states, so he had to connect his main ideas from his essay together - more or less coherent, he decided, but it was a first draft, so whatever - before hitting save, closing his laptop, and sliding it into his bag.

Poe checked his phone three times between the front door of the library and Black One in the parking lot. No texts from Rey, so he sent her one. Hey Sunshine, wanna get dinner? 

She did respond, and he saw it when he was walking through Old Campus towards Col Serra.

[Rey, 4:08 p.m.] I’d love to! Hey, Finn was looking for you, did he get ahold of you? 

Yeah, Sunshine, heading into Col Serra now. 

Poe dialed Finn’s number as he climbed the steps, and Finn picked up after two rings. “Hello?”

“Here, buddy. Where are you?”

The front doors opened a second later, and Finn grinned at him, looking comfortable in a Takodana University sweatshirt. “The man of the hour!” Finn roared, gesturing at Poe. “Happy birthday, man!”

“You knew?” Poe laughed as Finn pulled him into a hug. “How?”

“Internet.” Finn shrugged, and Poe nodded with an understanding noise. “It might sound like I was stalking you - but I swear I was only on your Wikipedia page for less than five minutes.”

“It’s not that long of a page?” Poe frowned at Finn in confusion, and Finn smirked at him.

“Maybe I was trying to edit it to say that Poe Dameron is a beautiful, wonderful man who was born on the day he descended from Heaven-”

“Oh, geez.” Poe snorted while they walked through the foyer of Col Serra, towards the side classrooms and away from the main lecture hall. “Did you call me here to embarrass me?”

“Maybe.” Finn was still smirking. “And maybe--” He pushed open the door to room 108B, and Poe was immediately met with a shriek of “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!”

“Guys!” Poe laughed as Jess and Yolo rushed up to hug him. “Ziff, how the hell did you-” He was wearing a shirt with Poe’s face on it. A little creepy. But, sweet, in the way Yolo Ziff was often sweet but a little creepy. 

“I made it!” Yolo said proudly, and Iolo and Connix came over to offer birthday hugs. 

Rose was there, beaming and holding out a birthday tiara that had a picture of Bea tucked into the main jewel, and Poe accepted the crown graciously, and a kiss on the cheek from his friend.

And, not so graciously, he looked around, frowning. “Hey. Where’s-”

“Movie time!” Finn announced, hitting the lights.

“Movie time?” 

Poe couldn’t get either of his questions answered because Iolo and Yolo more or less shoved him into a chair in front of the screen typically used for lecture slides, and Finn and Kare, who’d popped up with his favorite kind of root beer, settled on either side of him. Poe craned his neck, looking to see if anyone else was hiding, like, maybe his girlfriend, but no one seemed worried at her absence. 

Music started playing behind him - very familiar music. Poe spun in his chair and saw the X-Wing logo appear on screen, hand-drawn and honestly nicer looking than the final season’s version of the logo. 

In a galaxy - defined by war! ” 

“Is that you, Rosie?” Poe asked over the narration, and got shushed immediately by four voices. Rose just grinned and nodded. 

“One team stands against the ultimate evil! This! Is!”

“X-WING!” Everyone in the room shouted, and Poe laughed, still slightly wondering what the hell was going on. 

All of Poe’s friends were on screen, grouped around a conference table with their laptops on. Iolo stood at the head of the table, wearing a brown sweatshirt with a nametag that said: Hi, My Name is: Major Kesh! The camera made a point to zoom in on it. 

“Listen up, team.” 

“We’re listening Major.” On-Screen Connix did a perfect impersonation of Lieutenant Bill’s half-British accent, and also rolled her eyes almost as well as Bill did. In real life, Poe grinned over at her, and saw that she was smirking at him. 

It’s the Captain’s birth-date today! We need to celebrate!” Iolo’s taped-on moustache quivered magnificently, and everyone around the conference cheered in agreement. “ Now, Hernandez doesn’t like people making a fuss over him-”

“He’s plenty fussy!” Jess had her feet kicked up on the conference table, and she had her hair in the style of Maverick, the popular, hotshot pilot who often got in trouble with Hernandez - who still always protected her from the Admiral. 

That’s enough, Lieutenant! Now, as I was saying, we have six hours before Hernandez wakes up from his court-ordered nap. Let’s get planning!”

Off-screen, someone started whooping, mimicking an air-raid siren that was often used as a sound effect on X-Wing. The lights in the conference room were flickering, and everyone jumped up from the table. 

Just kidding!” Iolo-Kesh shouted. “ Get to your stations! Make sure the Captain doesn’t wake up!

Poe watched, increasingly amused, as the squadron raced to the door - the scene cut to the snowy forest (clearly the one outside Takodana), and everyone was now holding some kind of stick or, in Yolo’s case, an actual fake-blaster. 

Pew-pew!” Connix-Bill shouted, aiming her blaster at a fake enemy. She ducked behind a tree trunk, and Yolo, as Major Tuanul, popped up in her place. 

Pew pew pew!” He shouted, tripping over a hidden tree root. “ Ahhh! They got me!

We’re gonna lose!” Rose ran past the camera, fake-screaming. “ AhhhhhhHH!”

Not on my watch! ” Finn jumped over a fallen tree on screen, wearing very … familiar robes. 

Poe leaned over to Finn in real life. “Dude. Mace Windu isn’t in X-Wing-”

“Shhh,” Finn hissed. “I look great! And I already had the costume!” 

Poe laughed quietly and returned to the screen, waiting to see if -

There she was.

Rey, dressed as Kira, leapt on-screen, spinning her bo staff expertly.

Kira!” Maverick-Jess shouted joyfully. “You found us!’

“I did!” Rey landed on her feet and stood side-by-side with the Rebels. “Now, let’s clean up this mess.”

Rey ducked a second later as snowball whizzed past her head. “Finn!” She hissed, out of character, and people off-screen giggled. 

People in the classroom giggled too, Poe one of them. 

Somehow, the Rebels managed to save the day, and exhausted, they limped back to base, clapping each other on the back.

Kare stood at attention in front of a banner that said YOU DID IT in scrawled handwriting, and she shook each of their hands. Kira, however, disappeared through a door before she could shake the General’s hand, never one for fuss. 

“The galaxy thanks you all,” Kare said sternly to each Rebel.

“Thank you General!” Lieutenant Bill said, accepting a hug from Kare. That made sense, Poe figured, Bill and the General had a mother-daughter-like relationship on X-Wing, after all.

“Now, it’s time for that party!” Kare and Bill high-fived, but they were interrupted by a high-pitched, ugly voice.

“Now wait just a minute!” 

Everyone froze and turned - the camera zoomed to follow the direction they were facing. 

They were staring at … a mop. That had been dyed purple.

Poe started laughing in realization. “Is that - Snap?” He wheezed, and Kare giggled and nodded. Snap was the voice of -

Admiral,” the General sighed heavily. “What could you possibly have to-”

The camera cut back to the mop, and someone off-camera started to wiggle the mop so it flopped around gracelessly. “The Captain doesn’t deserve a party! He’s a big poop-head-”

“Ah, no one asked you.” Rose picked the mop up and shoved it into a nearby closet. Everyone cheered. “Now, let’s go see the Captain!”

“Hang on!” Maverick-Jess shouted, grinning evilly. “I think the Scavenger went to thank him personally-”

“oooOOOOoooOO!” Everyone jeered, and they laughed. 

The camera cut to: Kira-Rey, standing outside a door, looking nervous. 

“I’ve never … had a family before,” she whispered to herself. In real life, Poe’s heart lurched painfully. “I’ve never … had any place to belong. But I belong with you.” She cleared her throat and nodded. “Right. Just … tell him that. And … tell him -” Rey-as-Kira turned to face the camera, breaking the fourth wall. She smiled brilliantly.

Poe’s breath knocked all the way out of him - 

And tell him, Happy birthday.” 

There was a knock at the door - outside the real door, and Finn jumped up to open it. Kare spun Poe’s swivel chair around, and he was met with the sight of Rey holding a birthday cake with a dozen lit candles. 

“Happy birthday to you,” she sang softly, her voice beautiful even in the simple song.

“Happy birthday to you!” Finn joined in boisterously, and then they were all singing, loudly and sometimes out of tune.

“Happy birthday dear Po-oe! Happy birthday to you!”

Rey held the cake out, and Poe rose to his feet shakily to blow out the candles, his face hot and his stomach fluttering, and as the last flame disappeared, the wish solidified in his heart.

I always want to be this happy, he decided, And I want every good person in the world to have a chance to be this happy.

Finn took the cake from Rey, who wrapped her arms around Poe, smelling of buttercream and giggling as warmly as her nickname would suggest, and Poe kissed the side of her head, hugging her tightly. 

“I love you,” Rey whispered in his ear. “Happy birthday.”

Poe pulled back to kiss her, the happiness still roaring in his chest - that is, he kissed her until Yolo and Iolo started jumping up and down on either side of them, screaming “CAKE! CAKE! CAKE! CAKE!”

“Alright!” Poe roared back, pulling away from Rey reluctantly. Everyone was laughing, and the room was dizzy with joy. “You monsters! Cake!”

“CAKE!” 

Poe ate heartily, surrounded by his friends who were also his family, and tried to pretend not to be totally soft when Rey accepted bites of cake from his fork, her cheeks flushed with happiness as much as his were. 

It was a good day, Poe decided, the best day, and there were only more to come. 


The Friday after Poe’s birthday, Rey walked back to Darklighter by herself, her bo staff under her arm. Her hands were in her pockets, and her face was warm from exertion - Kare had put them through the wringer at her self-defense class, and Rey’s muscles were sore in the best kind of way. She hummed to herself as she walked, in a great mood - until someone called her name.

“Ms. Kenobi!”

She turned with a frown, not three hundred feet from her building. The sidewalk was slippery under her feet, and she almost fell over when she saw who was calling her name. In a second, the staff was in her hand, pointed towards the man walking towards her.

“You aren’t supposed to be on campus!” She snapped, anger covering up the fear in her voice. “And you aren’t supposed to talk to me.”

Reginald Snoke walked up to her anyway, his shriveled hands held up as if in mock-surrender. “Now, now my dear - I think there’s something we need to talk about-”

“There’s nothing you need to talk to me about without Luke here.” Rey hoped her voice wasn’t shaking to show how terrified she was. Did this mean Kylo wasn’t far behind? It was broad daylight out - people were walking on the other side of the street, a few of them looking over in concern, but of course no one crossed to see if she needed help.

“Still a wildcat, I see.” Snoke’s smirk was hideous, and Rey fought the urge to throw up from her surging anxiety. 

“You need to get away from me,” Rey said as firmly as she could. “Now. Before I call the-”

“The police?” Snoke tsked and shook his head, and Rey wanted to cry from sheer anger - of course the police were an empty threat as far as Snoke and his little pet were concerned - they were in their back pocket for the entirety of that shit show. The world turned grey at the edges, and Rey forced herself to take a normal breath, wondering if this were a nightmare or a stress dream - 

“I have something you’ve been looking for.” Snoke held up a thumb drive, innocuous to anyone who didn’t understand - and the world got a little greyer as Rey stared at it. “Or maybe, something you didn’t want to find.”

Rey was stunned. Sick, horrified, furious, so fucking tired - and Snoke just smiled.

“Now that I have your attention,” he sneered, “Let’s talk about Poe Dameron.”

Chapter Text

“Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about Poe Dameron.”

Rey stared, disbelieving, at the man whose face had haunted her in countless meetings with lawyers. “Why the hell would I want to talk to you about Poe?”

“Because. We both have an interest in the young man, and I’m sure you’d love to-”

“I don’t want to talk about Poe with you,” Rey said firmly, her continuing disbelief making her bolder. “I don’t want to talk to you about anything. I don’t care what you think that” - she gestured to the thumb drive Snoke was holding - “is, but I certainly don’t have to talk to you about it.”

Her heart slammed in her chest: she knew exactly what that was; of course it was that because when had Rey’s life been easy?

“I think that this little file contains a video of you and my client, from just over a year ago. I think you had a vague idea of its existence, but no one could ever confirm that your belief was well-founded, especially after your little breakdown landed you in the hospital-”

“Stop.” Rey shook her head, but Snoke didn’t care.

“-And no matter how hard Luke Skywalker tried, no jury could be convinced of your credibility after they found out you’d been in intense psychiatric care-”

“Because Ben Solo was stalking me!” Rey exploded, her voice getting louder and louder. “He was stalking me, making me feel like I was losing my mind and I wasn’t. I’m not crazy - and - and even if I were, I’d still deserve to feel safe. I wouldn’t deserve what Ben did to me - I wouldn’t deserve what you monsters put me through!”

Her voice rang strangely in the cold air, and Snoke said nothing, merely stared at her as she heaved for breath, overwhelmed with the intensity of her fury.

“Are you done?” Snoke tilted his head and sighed, almost amused. The bastard. “All this talk of deserve, Ms. Kenobi, when we both know it’s all about believe.

“Believe?” Rey scoffed. “What-”

“This tape is very peculiar,” Snoke continued. “Because without breaking confidentiality with my client, I can say that … your version of the events, Ms. Kenobi, the version … somewhat corroborated by the files from the hospital … they don’t coincide with what the tape shows.”

“What are you talking about?” Rey’s voice was a whisper now. 

“What do you really recall of that night?” Snoke smirked, his already twisted face growing more cruel from the expression. “As I recall, your camp was very convinced you’d been drugged, and had limited memories of what exactly transpired.”

“I had been drugged,” Rey snapped. “And-”

“And, all it would take for people to believe otherwise would be … a simple edit, here or there.” Snoke waved the thumb drive around mockingly, and Rey had a wild, intense vision of knocking him down with her staff, hitting him until he didn’t get up, shattering the drive under the force of her strikes. “Edits that have already been made, and would be so easy to release. Imagine the scandal, my dear.”

“But I’m nobody,” Rey said, her chest oddly hollow. She half-laughed from nervousness, shaking her head at the old man. “I’m - why would it matter? I’m nobody-”

“But Poe Dameron isn’t.” Snoke tucked the flash drive inside his coat pocket, and Rey eyed it, wondering if she could, at least, knock him over and take it - but he’d have more copies, she reasoned, more copies and then a reason to have her arrested for assault.

What a fucking joke.

“Which is why I’d like to talk to you about Poe Dameron,” Snoke continued, his oily voice setting her teeth on edge. “I understand that he thinks very highly of you - thinks he loves you, even. And, I’m sure it would absolutely destroy him if enough of his fans - X-Wing Fans, Squadron fans, what have you - thought you, his girlfriend they are already inclined to dislike for having what they don’t, were having a … dalliance with a man he’s had a long-standing feud with.” Snoke tsked. “As I said. The scandal.

“There is no scandal,” Rey snapped hotly, tears springing to her eyes in rage. “And I’m sure there’s no way to make what Ben- Kylo - did to me look romantic at all - he attacked me. He raped-”

“Yes, yes, but again, Rey, it’s belief. And if enough fans believe my tape is real … who’s to say Poe Dameron won’t? The court? A jury? Your own beloved Luke Skywalker, and your uncle?”

“They’ll believe me,” Rey said, confident in her voice even has her heart threatened to break from doubt. “They will-”

“Will it be enough for you, I wonder, knowing this is out here, when you could have stopped it from being released in the first place-”

“What do you want?” Rey set the staff against the ground and stared at Snoke wearily. She’d known greedy men her whole life - her early years spent scrambling in the dirt to serve greedy, wasteful men who abused her and hurt her. Was this going to be her whole life? Cowering from the next person who hurt her? 

She refused. She’d end this on her own terms, but she couldn’t until she knew Snoke’s whole game.

This was all going through her head even as her instincts screamed at her to run - or, really, to fight, to hit and kick and scream until someone, anyone heard how afraid she was, until someone helped her. She had friends, after all, friends who loved her, who cared about her - but where were they? Why hadn’t she accepted Jess’s offer to go lunch after class? Why … had he been waiting for her? 

Rey was familiar with the feeling of walls closing in around her: she felt it now.

“Information.” Snoke shrugged and pulled black leather gloves over his wrinkled, spotted hands. “I want information on Poe Dameron - and, as his girlfriend, I’m sure you could persuade him to be more …  amenable to working with my company in the future. He’s a valuable asset, Ms. Kenobi, we can agree, and the numbers certainly do. X-Wing has been the most lucrative television program on primetime in the last thirty years. We can’t let someone of his caliber go so easily - And he’s been reluctant to working with us in the past-”

“I wonder why?” Rey laughed again, a sharp and angry sound. “But - why would he say yes to you? If he knew you were holding - that over my head-”

“Why would he find out?” Snoke’s smile was cruel. “My people will be calling him shortly. There was talk of continuing X-Wing already, or to have him join in on our new project with Kylo Ren.” Rey refused to flinch at the name. “If he says no, I’ll know that your … attempt to persuade him didn’t work, and the video will have to go live. And this,” he patted his pocket, “Is not the only copy, Ms. Kenobi, so don’t get ideas.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it.” Rey felt the world tilting under her feet, a panic attack imminent - her heart was screaming in pain, but she had one last thing to try, in the moment, try to do to get Snoke away from her - “But … why do you think Poe cares about … me?”

“Why?” Snoke gave her an odd look. “You’re his precious girlfriend-”

“No, I’m not,” Rey lied brazenly. “I’m not his girlfriend.”

“A funny story, but-”

“Why wasn’t I at his premiere then?” Rey taunted. “Why would he not bring his girlfriend to his big, important film premiere?”

“I-” Snoke seemed taken aback before he shook himself. “There are photos of you two walking into his apartment as recently as last week-”

“We’re just fucking,” Rey said coldly, wanting to vomit, but knowing she had to get through this. “I don’t mean anything to him. And - if he means anything to me, well, you’ve already said it. I’m not the most credible person.”

Her heart was screaming in protest, the words almost impossible to get out, but she had to try.

“Interesting,” Snoke sneered. “I suppose it would be … easy to confirm-”

“I’m done talking to you,” Rey decided, her knees shaking and the back of her neck clammy; she was about to pass out, she realized. She had to -  “I’m going inside, and I’m telling you, if you release that tape, the only thing you’re going to have on your hands is a lawsuit from Luke Skywalker, and a very confused response from Poe Dameron’s manager. Have a nice day.” She stomped up to Darklighter, hoping the way her legs were buckling didn’t show, and didn’t hear what Snoke shouted at her back.

To be fair, that had a lot more to do with the roaring in her ears. Panic threatened to swallow her whole, and as Rey stumbled into the front hall of Darklighter, trying to get to the elevators, all she could think was: run. 

She managed to get to her room, and locked the door behind her with shaking hands; she sank to the floor and put her head between her knees, her hands over her ears as she took a shaking breath in, and let it out, took a breath in, and out. Nausea filled her to the brim, and she grabbed the trash can near the door and let herself be violently ill for a few moments. She sobbed hysterically in between waves of sickness, her heart pounding in her ears, the world still spinning violently - 

What would she do? What could she do? She was - 

Simple edits, here and there … edits that have already been made… and if enough fans believe my tape is real … who’s to say Poe Dameron won’t?” 

“No.” Rey wiped her mouth shakily and spoke aloud to herself. “He’s lying. He’s lying, he’s lying, he’s lying-”

But Poe might - no. He’d always been so kind, so understanding, had always believed her immediately and never made her feel … dirty, or ashamed, or awful -

But she did feel dirty. She was ashamed - she felt awful. Horrible, disgusting, terrible: she couldn’t block out the images now, not with Snoke’s threat so close and present, and that fucking tape - she knew it. She knew it was real, and when she’d brought it up to Luke, after Snoke and his lawyers doubled back and tried to sue her for slandering Ben Solo’s “good name,” Luke had believed her that it was real. 

They couldn’t get a warrant, though. Because they’d already established her memories were limited of much of that night, other than the time she’d been conscious enough to fight Ben off - so how could she suddenly have a memory of the thought of being recorded? But she had a gut feeling that there was more, that there had to be more, that she couldn’t just move on. For the past few months, Rey had let herself believe it was because Kylo was still stalking her, following her on campus where he wouldn’t technically be violating the very limited restraining order she’d been able to procure. 

But no. It was because it wasn’t over at all: there was this lingering, horrifying connection between them, this ephemeral evidence that hung in the air around her, following her like a cloud, threatening to ruin her life -

And Poe’s life. It could ruin Poe’s life, too. She already knew she wasn’t the ideal girlfriend: skittish, anxious, hesitant to progress the sexual part of their relationship. 

But hadn’t she been doing better? Rey tried to reason with herself. Hadn’t she been willing to push the boundaries, explore that part of herself again, try to have it with Poe - 

A wave of panic more powerful than before crashed over her, and it was like an earthquake setting off in the region of her upper stomach. Her limbs shook, her vision blurred, and Rey gasped for breath. She fumbled with her coat, knocking the bo staff over where she’d parked it against the door when she collapsed, and Rey managed to dig out her phone with her trembling fingers. 

Several times, she tried to tap the screen, but she kept hitting the wrong icon, tears falling too quickly now; she fought to stay upright, and she eventually managed to click the right button, call the right number -

Three rings, and then:

Hello?

“Obi,” Rey sobbed.

What is it?” Obi sounded startled, immediately concerned. “Rey?

“I want to come home,” Rey cried, “I need to come home-”

Alright.” Obi spoke calmly, but Rey couldn’t read too much into it. She tilted her head back and gasped for air. “Is it - are you safe?” 

“No,” Rey whispered, choking slightly on her next breath. “N-no, Obi, there’s - Kylo has the tape, he - he’s going to release it - or - I don’t know, I just - I want to come home-”

I’m calling Luke immediately,” Obi said, and she heard him fumbling with keys in the background.  "And I’m driving there to get you right now.

“Th-th-thank y-you,” Rey said, her voice catching a dozen times on the words. “I’m s-s-s-so-”

No.” Obi’s voice gentled. “No, you will not be sorry for this. I love you, little one. I’ll be there soon.

Rey nodded, forgetting Obi couldn’t see her, and she hung up a second later to bury her face in her knees.

Poe was going to - she couldn’t - she couldn’t explain this to him, couldn’t bear the look in his eyes, couldn’t bear the idea that he might think it true, couldn’t -

She couldn’t do this. 

Rey knew what she had to do. 

She stood, shakily, and began to throw clothes in her duffel bag. She sent a text to Finn, her movements more controlled now that she had a plan, and she calculated how much time until Obi would be here. Two and a half hours, at least. 

Rey would collect herself. She’d take a shower, ask Finn to drive her to Poe’s, and then -

She would leave. She would be gone, and she wouldn’t have to think about this until - until it went live, or until Kylo found her again, determined as he was to haunt her, and -

And that would be it.

At least she wouldn’t drag Poe down with her.


Poe hadn’t slept in four days.

It was Tuesday, he knew that much. He started with that fact. Facts were easier.

He woke up, and it was Tuesday. Bea needed to go out, another fact, so he took her out. He had class at 10, and again at 1, so he went to class, to deal with more facts.

And then he sat on a bench outside Mon Cala, hoping for some peace, something to settle the raging storm in his head, but he wouldn’t find it there.

He’d sat with Rey on this bench too many times; Rey, who he hadn’t seen since Friday, when she’d shown up, unannounced - not that it had ever been a problem before, her showing up unannounced, but it had been different that time - sobbing at his front door.

Poe had begged her to sit, begged her to stay and talk, but she was talking over him, her voice shaking. She hadn’t even looked at him when she’d done it. Rey broke up with him within two minutes of walking in his door, and he remembered even a week out how his heart had shattered into a thousand pieces with her words.

Rey,” he’d said, just her name a plea in his broken voice. “Please. Let’s talk about this.

There’s nothing to talk about,” she’d said, her voice cracking horribly. “I don’t - it’s not the same anymore, Poe. I - I can’t ignore it anymore. I’m no good for you-”

“What? You’re perfect for me,” Poe had whispered, his eyes wide as the chasm opening in his heart. “Rey, c’mon, you know that’s not true, you know I love-”

“I’m sorry.” Rey hadn’t even looked at him. “Everything’s changed.” 

But what changed?” He’d asked, desperate to know why, why she was suddenly saying this when they’d been so happy literally the night before, when she’d kissed him goodnight and told him she loved him, but Rey had startled back when he took a step towards her, his arms outstretched. Poe had frozen immediately, horrified to have made her flinch, and Rey took that as her window to say, one last time, I’m sorry, before turning and running out the door.

Bea had barked for a minute after Rey had vanished, and Poe had tried calling her a dozen times that first day.

He’d called her until Finn had texted him separately and asked him, not unkindly, to stop trying to get into contact with Rey. And, Poe couldn’t even argue with him. If Rey didn’t want to talk to him, if she didn’t want to be with him … he’d respect that. It was her choice, after all, and as much as Poe loved her, as much as it utterly, completely destroyed him to think she didn’t feel the same way anymore, he … he knew to let her go if that was what she wanted.

But he couldn’t shake the feeling that something odd had been behind it. It wasn’t just that they’d been kissing and exchanging I love you’ s the night before the break-up. It wasn’t just that Rey hadn’t been able to look at him. It was that Rey Kenobi wasn’t cruel, and that breakup had been.

All break-ups are cruel if you’re the dump-ee one part of his brain pointed out. Poe shook his head, rubbing his jaw. No. No, it had been … out of character. She’d been..

“Scared,” Poe whispered to himself, replaying the scene back in his mind for the millionth time. Rey had been scared. 

She didn’t have classes in Mon Cala on Thursdays, which is why he didn’t feel odd sitting outside of it; he wasn’t waiting for her by any means, but … but if she was scared, she should be with someone who knew her story … who knew to help her.

Poe was dialing Finn’s number before he finished the thought.

Hey man," Finn greeted after a few rings. 

“Hi.” Poe coughed and stared at his feet. “Finn, buddy, it’s … it’s good to hear your voice.”

“You too.”

“Um.” Poe rubbed his neck. “Look, I know … I know Rey’s … done with me, and everything, but -”

Finn made an odd noise, cutting Poe off. 

“What?” Poe asked, frowning.

“...Nothing.” Finn sighed, and he sounded incredibly tired. Huh.

“Yeah, so, I was just - Finn, is she okay?” Poe tilted his head back and glared at the overcast March sky. “She … I didn’t really notice it at the time, what with the … heartbreak and everything,” so what if Poe was melodramatic? He was an actor, for fuck’s sake, “but Finn, buddy, she was … it was like she was terrified, and not … not of my reaction.”

He could understand that, of course, given her history. 

“What are you asking?” 

“I’m asking … are you going to see her today? Could you just … I don’t know, not even … tell me because of course you don’t have to, but I’d feel a lot better if I knew she was … y’know.”

“She’s not on campus anymore,” Finn said, and Poe sat up straighter, frowning. “She … went home.”

“Is Obi okay?” Poe stood up and started pacing. “Fuck, Finn, is - is everything-”

“She didn’t … I’m not supposed to tell you, but … I can tell you … however shitty you’re feeling, it’s … Rey thought she was doing … Not the right thing. But, she thought she did what she had to do.”

“What the hell does that mean?” Poe’s anxiety, already heightened by his lack of sleep, ratcheted up a few dozen levels. 

“I’m sorry you’re heartbroken, man, I really am, but she’s my best friend,” Finn said apologetically. “I already said more than I should have. Just - she’s with Obi right now. She’s … she’s safe, at least physically.”

“What the fuck does that-”

“I gotta go. I’ve got an exam in two minutes, I’m really sorry. We can - we can get dinner later today, I promise, but I gotta-”

“Yeah, of course.” Poe wiped an exhausted hand down his face, catching on some of the sleep gathered in his eyes. “Thanks, buddy. Thanks for picking up. Good luck on your exam.”

“Thanks.”

Poe stood in front of Mon Cala for a long time after the phone call ended, his question having morphed into a thousand more, each one more painful than the last.


Thursday, Poe was feeling … not better, but at least he was feeling something, even if that something was two hundred pounds of bullshit pushing down on him.

He’d managed to sleep four hours the previous night, and he was four cups of coffee in when he left his morning Economics seminar. Poe turned the corner of Kryze building, trying not to think about the time he and Rey had taken refuge in this alleway; he was distracted by his thoughts, which was how he almost bumped into a regrettably familiar figure.

“You can’t be on campus,” Poe said automatically. 

Terex smirked at him instead, holding his hands up as though in surrender; his left hand was holding a bright green file folder. Poe eyed it suspiciously.

“I can’t take pictures of you on campus,” Terex corrected with a sneer. “No camera, pal.”

Poe put his hands in his pocket and pulled out his phone; he tapped a few buttons, making sure Terex couldn’t see his screen, and then tucked his phone back in his pocket. “What do you want, Terex? We’re in public. You can’t do anything or say anything without witnesses-”

As if to prove Poe’s point, two girls walked past them, eyeing them weirdly. Poe nodded at both of them.

“I don’t care who hears us,” Terex smirked. “That’s the point of all of this anyway - the public needs to know about your life, Poe Dameron - at least, they think they do. And that pays.”

“You’re disgusting,” Poe snapped. “A cockroach.”

“And I think I provide an invaluable resource to the public, but why split hairs?” Terex waved his hand airily, and then passed Poe the folder he was holding. “I’ve come to talk to you about this, though.”

“What is this?” Poe glanced at it warily, unwilling to take his eyes off of Terex for too long. “What do you want?”

“Go on.” Terex lifted his chin towards the folder. “Look.”

This is a bad idea, some logical part of Poe pointed out. He flipped the folder open, still glaring at Terex, and then looked down with a grimace.

He immediately recoiled.

It was a picture of Rey. Rather, a picture of the left side of Rey’s face, her temple bruised and bloody, her eye swollen, and what he swore were finger marks lining her jaw and deepening to a near-purple along the delicate skin of her neck.

“What the fuck is this?” He snapped the folder shut and shook it at Terex, his body taut with suppressed rage. Poe hadn’t wanted to hit anyone this badly in his life - Kylo Ren as the exception, of course. “Why the fuck are you showing me this?”

“You don’t know what that is?” Terex smirked.

A horrible thought occurred to him. “When was this photo taken?” Poe asked, his voice shaking. “Are these new?”

Had something happened when she took off? When she left campus, left him, left her friends - did Kylo find her, was she in a car crash -

“They’re from last January.” Terex took the folder from Poe’s hand and opened it, flipping through calmly; he lifted the photo of Rey’s face, and Poe flinched, refusing to look at it. “White female, 20 years old, 5 feet, 7 inches, 119 pounds. Reports sexual assault; rape kit consistent with report. Bloodwork shows traces of GHB. BAC levels, 0.0%. Injuries to person include mild concussion, evidence of attempted strangulation-”

“Shut the fuck up.” Poe thought he was going to throw up. The world spun around him nauseatingly. “Don’t - don’t fucking read that -”

“I thought you knew,” Terex taunted, “We all thought you knew, and that’s why you wouldn’t work with Kylo Ren, because he fucked your - ”

Poe put a finger in Terex’s face, vibrating with the urge to smack every one of his teeth out. “Stop. Don’t - where the fuck did you get this?”

“Your new boss,” Terex laughed. “I guess your old boss. Snoke? Reginald Snoke?”

Of course. “And what,” Poe licked his bottom lip to wet it, his mouth dry in his anxiety, “did Snoke want … from this?”

“He wanted me to break the story that you nearly killed the star of his upcoming movie - the son of your favorite co-star, and Hollywood’s oldest sweetheart.”

“That’s old news, Terex.” Poe ripped the folder from his hands and tucked it in his jacket; he had no intention of looking in it again, but at least he could burn it. Maybe it was the only copy Terex had.

Poe didn’t really think that, of course, but he had to think of something to get through the next few minutes without committing a felony.

“That’s old news, and not accurate. No one on set would back that up. I didn’t touch Kylo Ren - it was the total opposite.”

“And you’d go on record saying that?” Terex’s eyes were greedy, and Poe swallowed his revulsion.

“No. You won’t get shit out of me.” Poe shook his head and went to turn away, but Terex grabbed his arm.

“Then the file goes live.” He was smirking when Poe glared at him. “Everyone sees the awful, horrible things Kylo Ren did-”

“-he’s a fucking monster, Terex, the public would agree-”

“And I’m sure Snoke would release his version of the tape, and where will your little girlfriend be then, hiding under a rock?”

“Don’t talk about her-” Poe paused, something registering from Terex’s taunt. “...What tape?” Terex laughed cruelly, and Poe grabbed his arm this time. “What fucking tape, Terex?”

“The tape Kylo made of their...rendezvous. I heard Ms. Kenobi didn’t respond too well to the little teaser old Snoke gave her - the phrase verge of a nervous breakdown was used when Snoke contacted me to see if you’d be more reasonable to work with.”

“He didn’t.” Poe was going to throw up. Gotta fight that. It would be … not great if he wanted Terex to be even slightly afraid of consequences of this conversation. “He - there’s a tape ?”

“I can get you a copy.” Terex smirked, and it was an evil, hideous expression. “Before everyone else, even. Or-”

“Or?” Poe wiped his mouth, staring over Terex’s shoulder, exhausted and overwhelmed by all of this -

No wonder Rey left campus. No wonder she left me. No wonder - it’s my fault that this information came to light, if it weren’t for me, no one would have thought that valuable enough to dig up - holy fuck, she must hate me - no, fuck that - Rey must be so upset, is she safe? Does she feel safe? Is she okay?

He almost missed Terex’s self-satisfied sigh. There was no way he could miss what he said next, though.

“Or, you promise me the best photos, the best leads. Fun things, like date night with Zorri Bliss, and public fights. Also, Snoke probably wouldn’t mind it if you took on another season or two of X-Wing-”

“Really?” Poe shook his head, nauseated thoroughly. “That’s what it comes down to? Publicity shoots and … and a fucking TV show? You’re going to - to ruin the life of someone I love unless I let you take photos of me?”

“That’s basically it, yeah. Oh, and - and maybe a little money here or there wouldn’t hurt.” Terex pointed at the folder under Poe’s arm. “That’s not the only copy I have of that, Dameron. Snoke was very kind in sharing the details with me. I suggest you review it yourself tonight, and get back to me tomorrow morning. I’ll have a figure by then of what I’d accept in exchange for my benevolent silence.”

“And how should I get into contact with you?” Poe’s shoulders slumped, defeated, exhausted. Terex’s smile was slow as it stretched across his face, and Poe stared at the sidewalk, projecting nothing but dejection. “I’ll email you with the figure. Let me know if it’s reasonable, and we can make sure Rey Kenobi remains a private figure.”

Poe nodded, his throat tight with anxiety.

“Until then: toodles.”

Terex waggled his fingers and walked backwards before disappearing around the corner, and Poe leaned against the wall, his heart pounding like he’d run a marathon.

He pulled his phone out of the pocket and checked the screen: he’d gotten all of it.

Poe had been a celebrity for over a decade. There was no way in hell he’d talk to a paparazzi or anyone shitty one-on-one without some kind of recording happening - and, he’d reminded Terex at the start of the conversation that they were in public and could be heard. Terex had said he didn’t care who overheard them because 'that was the point, anyway.’

“Idiot,” Poe muttered to himself, saving the file to make sure. He braced his hand against the cold brick of the building and took a few breaths in through his nose, out through his mouth, his nausea rising to the surface quickly. When he closed his eyes to try and calm himself, all he could see was the picture of Rey from the file, her lovely face bruised and marred by - by that fucking monster - 

She had to be so scared, he realized. And the secrets in that folder … no one should ever be able to see them. But Terex had, and so had Snoke, and Ren - Kylo Ren had done those things to her. And now her private life was being used as a blackmail tool in a game she wanted no part of, a game Poe couldn’t even believe existed. Her leaving campus wasn’t an attempt to hurt him - he realized that now. After days of tormenting himself, he at least somewhat understood that by leaving, Rey was trying to take control of an impossible situation, trying to seek shelter from the storm, trying to go home where she could at least physically separate herself from the source of her troubles: Kylo and Snoke, Takodana University, and … Poe himself.

Fuck.

Well, there was one thing Poe could do to make sure Rey could sleep a little easier at night. She might not ever want to talk to him again, but he could do this for her:

The phone was against his ear a second later as he waited for the other end to pick up. When it did, he didn’t even bother to say hello.

“I have information on Kylo Ren, Reginald Snoke, and a paparazzi by the name of Ronald Terex. They’re attempting to blackmail me, and I have the evidence on tape.”

There was a long sigh on the other end. “Can’t you call just to say hello, kid?” Luke Skywalker asked gruffly, and despite the tangle of rage and anxiety in his stomach, Poe smiled.


Luke sat down heavily across from her at the kitchen table, tapping his flesh hand against the surface.

“What?” Rey looked up listlessly from the whorl in the wood she’d been studying. She was curled up in a chair wearing a sweatshirt that she hadn’t taken off in three days; her hair felt lank around her head, and her eyes were heavy from crying and lack of sleep. Luke stared at her appraisingly, but she was too tired to snap at him.

“Oh, nothing.” Luke tilted back and continued to examine her carefully. “...Just got back from meeting your boyfriend.”

“I don’t have a boyfriend,” Rey whispered, ears burning. She’d made damn sure of that - Poe Dameron was better off without her because all she was good for was ruining his life.

“Amazing,” Luke said with a forced lightness to his tone. “Every word of what you just said was wrong.”

“I said that out loud?” Rey asked weakly. Luke nodded, and she groaned, covering her eyes with her hands. “Well, I definitely don’t have a boyfriend, we - I broke up with him. And he hates me now, and - and why were you even meeting with him?

“He doesn’t hate you, Padawan.” Luke had called her that for years, a reference to an old movie they both loved. “Quite the opposite. And we were meeting because it seems Snoke’s camp reached out to him.”

“They didn’t.” Rey felt the need to be sick again, not that there was anything in her stomach (despite Obi’s best efforts to feed her).

“They did,” Luke rubbed his beard. “Tried to blackmail him with ...the video -” Oh God - “But, your … not-boyfriend is pretty smart. Got the whole thing on his phone. I reached out to my contacts in law enforcement, and let’s just say the man trying to blackmail him will be hit by charges from California and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania because he was stupid enough to fly back to California when he called Poe to demand money. A messy legal web, believe me.”

“Snoke?” Rey whispered.

“Not Snoke.” She deflated - of course not - of course someone else had access to information about this whole thing - “A cronie of his. And, because he directly implicated Snoke on tape twice, that was enough to get him arrested too. And … the tape hasn’t been found yet, but there’s a warrant that not even that murderous snake can wiggle out from.”

“What?” Rey’s feet dropped to the floor. “He - he’s been arrested?”

“Yes.” Luke’s smile was kind, and Rey stared at him, shocked. “He’s arrested, and that tape will never see the light of day when they find it. And because you live in Pennsylvania, and Snoke and … my nephew live in California, well, I wouldn’t be surprised if this became a federal case because their crimes crossed state lines.”

“I-” Rey let out a staggered breath, the world spinning. “It’s - will it go to court?”

“Yes.” Luke reached over and squeezed her hand comfortingly. “If you want it to. Snoke and Ronald Terex will be held accountable for blackmail and extortion; and my nephew...he was never tried for sexual assault, Rey. He could … still be tried. The statute of limitations certainly hasn’t passed.”

“I-” Rey blinked rapidly. “I don’t know what to -”

“You don’t have to know,” Luke consoled her, his hand still over hers. “Not right away. Not for a while. These things take time, but I thought, and Poe thought, you might sleep better without it hanging over your head. They can’t hurt you, Rey. Not right now. They’re all a little … tied up at the moment.”

“I-” Rey felt her lip quiver, and she clapped a hand to her mouth. She shook her head, and Luke stood up, tsking softly, and knelt next to her, wrapping his arms around her. Rey gripped his arm, a welcome support as the world spun and changed around her again, dizzyingly, and she let herself cry, even as she continued to hold the nagging doubt in her heart that there was no way this could really be close to being over, that she could really be free.


That Saturday morning, Poe was stretching after a run, feeling his muscles tighten and spasm slightly under his hands. He was exhausted, and he regretted trying to exercise the second he went out; but, he’d lost a significant amount of muscle mass lying on his couch and moping the last week, and he did have to go and promote the series finale of X-Wing soon (and he wanted to scream and say no, no and fuck it, knowing that it was the greedy desire of a few execs that almost ruined Rey’s life, that the weird need to push a series past its expiration date could have caused so much trouble and drama and harm). 

Poe was about to climb into the shower - trying hard not to think about the time that he’d shared it with Rey - when his phone started buzzing. He pivoted, one foot under the spray, and considered leaving it. But, his dad was supposed to call at some point today to talk about Spring Break next week, so Poe sighed and left the water on, dripping against the tile as he pulled out of the shower and reached for his phone on the counter.

His heart froze in his chest. Rey was calling. Rey. Rey was calling him. She’d been calling him, which meant the call might end soon-

“Fuck!” Poe dove for the phone and hit accept before it was even at his ear. He took a huge breath. “Hello?”

“Poe?”

He sagged against the counter, feeling vulnerable and miserable but yet elated at the sound of her voice. It was like his soul perked up at the sound of his name, said by Rey, his darling, perfect, incredible.

“Hey,” Poe whispered, resting his elbows on the counter. Steam rose out of the shower, but he didn’t care about wasting the hot water. “Hi, Sunshine.”

“I miss you.”

Did he fall and hit his head?

“I miss you too.” His voice creaked painfully. “Holy shit, I miss you.” Poe laughed at himself, a tear slipping out of his eye. “Are you okay?”

“I feel like I should be asking you that,” Rey huffed a soft laugh, and Poe closed his eyes, pressing his ear into the phone like he could lean into the precious sound. “Can you ever forgive me?”

“There’s nothing to forgive,” Poe said immediately. “Nothing at all.”

“I - I don’t want to be selfish, but … but I want to see you. ”

Poe’s heart slammed in his chest; he looked up into the slightly fogged-up bathroom mirror, and saw that his hair was on end, his cheeks flushed, eyes wild. He laughed at himself and gripped the counter tighter.

“Name the time and place, Sunshine, I’ll be there.”

“Um,” Rey laughed too, and Poe’s chest ached at the sound. “Today? As soon as possible?… I’m in Ohio though.”

“I’ll be there,” Poe swore. “As soon as I can -” 

He didn’t think to ask if this meant they were getting back together. It was definitely on his mind, but honestly, even if that weren’t the case … Rey said she wanted to see him, so he would go, and he would go and be whatever she needed, do whatever she needed. Because that’s what love was, he reasoned. Even if his role in Rey’s life changed … he couldn’t take it for granted. 

“Okay,” Rey said, her voice sweet and clear. “I’ll … see you soon, then? I’ll send you the address. ”

“See you soon, Sunshine.” Poe fought the urge to do a dance, completely naked as he was, in his bathroom. “I -” He almost said I love you. “I’m … glad to hear your voice.”

“Me too.” They were quiet for a second, the only sound the shower running in the background. “Goodbye?”

For now, Poe wanted to say. Goodbye for now. Goodbye until I see you again, until I feel whole again -

“Bye, Sunshine.” 

He hung up and fought the urge to scream to release some of the anticipation in his chest. Poe took the fastest shower of his life, hopping out in less than three minutes to throw some clothes in a bag. He texted Jess to confirm she could walk Bea, left his key under the mat so she could get it, and then he hurtled down the steps and jumped on Black One, driving west as fast as he could. 

Chapter Text

Poe liked to think he didn’t commit too many traffic violations as he flew down the highway, pushing Black One more than he ever had before. The reality was that a two and a half hour trip took just under two hours, only the thought of Rey and how he needed to be alive, unarrested, and unmaimed to see her, keeping the speed of his motorcycle at a relatively acceptable pace.

He tried not to think too much about the agony in her voice when she left him, amplified by the silence of the last week - he tried not to think about her face crumpling as she broke up with him and broke his heart. Rey was the love of his life, he knew that. He didn’t have to think about that. But he also had to acknowledge that because she was the love of his life, the next few hours would change the course of his life. They’d either get back together, or get on the path of getting back together, or she’d establish the boundary of keeping him as a friend. Poe could only hope that her calling him meant she at least wanted them to stay friends; she missed him, she’d said she missed him, and Rey didn’t lie. 

His hands gripped the handles of his bike tighter as he crossed into Ohio, coaching himself in how to respond if Rey said she only wanted friendship with him. Of course, he’d be upset, and crushed because she was the love of his life. Poe didn’t think it was naive to believe that. He’d heard his dad talk about Shara Bey enough to know how Dameron men felt when they met their match. Poe was sure he could love someone else, later in his life, but Rey … there’d never be anyone like that for him. And if she only wanted friendship … Poe was going to have to figure out a way, fast, to readjust how he looked at her (and that was also meant quite literally because he knew he had what Jess called “massive heart eyes” whenever he looked at her) so she wouldn’t feel his disappointment and internalize it in a way that made her anxiety worse.

So, he would know as soon as he arrived to his destination what the rest of his life would look like. A dramatized way to think of it, perhaps, but Poe would be lying if he said he’d never imagined proposing to Rey, if he said he’d never considered giving her his mother’s ring, if he said he hadn’t thought about them at eighty, looking at their grandkids and laughing, full of love from a lifetime of warmth, family, and light.

There was a thought though, as he approached Stewjon: how would they get back together? It mattered quite a bit, actually. They’d broken up so suddenly, and it came down to Rey’s fear to talk to him, and Poe’s fear of hurting her to the point where he’d backed off entirely and hadn’t asked for answers for several days. If they did get back together, they were going to have to do more to make sure they were better at communicating.

At last, Poe reached Obi’s house, his phone pinging in his pocket as he approached his destination. He hopped off Black One and pulled his phone out; one missed call from Rey. Poe called her back immediately, and she picked up.

“Hi,” she said softly.

“Hi.” Poe rubbed his neck, flushed from his drive, his legs shaking slightly. “I’m here, are you - is it still okay-”

The door opened, and he saw Rey standing there, his heart nearly stalling at the sight of her. She was wearing a baggy sweatshirt over leggings, her phone pressed to her ear.

“Hi.”

He saw her mouth form the word and heard it over the line. “Hi,” he repeated, smiling goofily even though he also wanted to cry. Fuck, he loved her so much.

“I gotta go,” Rey said softly. “Someone’s at the door.” 

Poe snorted and started to walk up the sidewalk. They both hung up and as Poe got closer to Rey, his pace quickened until he was almost jogging. Rey stepped out of the doorway as well, and she moved towards him, something in her face twisting; he caught her without even realizing he’d lifted his arms. 

Even though he’d just driven for two hours to a completely new place, Poe felt like he’d come home. He almost lifted her off the ground, he held her so tight; Rey tucked her face in his neck, her shoulders shaking slightly as she suppressed some emotion that Poe wasn’t sure of yet.

“I missed you,” he said roughly into the air. “Holy fuck.”

“I missed you,” Rey said. “I’m sorry, and I missed you-”

“Don’t be sorry.” Poe laughed wetly and fought the urge to kiss the side of her head.

They broke apart, both somewhat laughing awkwardly. They looked at each other before looking in opposite directions, no doubt remembering at the same time that they weren’t dating anymore. The thought cut Poe to the quick, and his eyes filled with tears - it hurt, seeing her, not knowing where they stood. But what hurt worse was the knowledge of all that had happened to her.

“Rey,” Poe looked at her at last, even though it hurt, “You have to know-”

“MAOW.”

They both startled, and looked over to see the massively fat tabby in the doorway, frowning at them. 

“Artoo,” Rey scolded. “Leave us be.”

Artoo strutted out of the warm house, his tail jauntily aloft, and he wound between Rey’s legs imperiously, considering Poe with a feline glare of lazy ferocity.

“Hello, Artoo,” Poe greeted him respectfully. “How are you?”

“Maow.” Artoo did not look amused, and bopped a paw on Rey’s calf; she knelt and picked him up, the cat nestling happily in her arms, a guttural purr rising from its throat. The cat was almost as long as Rey’s torso, and nearly as wide.

“That’s not a cat,” Poe said warily. “That’s a mountain lion.”

“He’s a beast,” Rey agreed before tilting her head towards the open door. “Um. Do you want to come in?”

Poe nodded, feeling wrong-footed suddenly, and he walked into the entry hall, slipping his shoes off once he was inside.

Obi’s house was a modest ranch-style home, with hardwood floors and architecture and furniture from the 70s. The house had a lived-in quality with knick-knacks scattered about and woven rugs covering most of the floor; there weren’t many modern appliances, and the television he could see looked like it was made in the nineties. 

Rey saw him looking around and gestured awkwardly around her, the living room to her right, the kitchen to her left, the small den behind her. “This is … almost everything. Except for my room and then Obi’s. Artoo runs the place.” She set the cat down mid-explanation, and Artoo waddled up to Poe, brushed against him while glaring suspiciously up at him, and then disappeared around a corner and down a darkened hallway. “The bedrooms are that way.”

“Cool.” Poe nodded and fidgeted with his keys as Rey led him into the living room, where the TV was on, set to mute on a news channel. “Uhm. I really like that painting.” He nodded at a small but beautiful portrait of a woman with her hair braided intricately. It hung in a place of honor in the living room. She looked … “Do I know her?” He frowned at it, trying to place her face.

“That’s Padme Amidala,” Rey explained softly, and Poe twitched at the name. “She’s…”

“Luke and Leia’s mom.” Poe frowned. “She looks so sad.”

“Luke says Leia doesn’t like that portrait for that reason.” Rey smiled up at Padme all the way. “I think she’s beautiful no matter what. Obi does too.”

“Where is Obi?” Poe looked around, waiting to see Rey’s uncle come around a corner or sit up on the couch.

“Store.” Rey scuffed her feet on the rug. “They should be back … in a half hour, hour maybe.”

“Gotcha.” Poe cleared his throat and stuffed his hands in his pockets, trying not to give into the instinct to hold her. She was standing a clear five feet away from him, and the adrenaline of his trip here was wearing off, leaving him insecure and exhausted. Poe swayed slightly, his knee buckling somewhat, and Rey started forward.

“Do you want to sit down? Maybe a glass of water?”

“Sure,” Poe sat on the couch towards the end on the off-chance she’d want to sit next to him. “And, uh, yes please.”

Normally he’d offer to get it himself, but he was a guest in the house, and Rey seemed to need a reason to step back, her eyes darting to the kitchen before he even finished his answer.

“Great. Cool. Um. Be right back.” She disappeared towards the kitchen, and Poe covered his face with his hands and bent forward towards his knees, letting his breath out in a quiet hiss of “ fuck .”

“Maow.”

“Yeah, buddy, I know,” Poe mumbled to Artoo, who rolled on by with a judgemental noise. “Get it together.” This is Rey. You love her. Who cares it it’s awkward - shes’s going through hell. You can be awkward for both of you. Don’t make her feel awkward.

“Poe?”

He looked up to see Rey standing there with a glass of water. Her smile was nervous, and his heart still clenched to see it.

“Hi, Sunshine.” She seemed to relax at the nickname, and Poe took that as his cue to take the water and smile more fully at her. “Wanna sit?”

She nodded and sat next to him on the couch like he’d hoped. For a minute or so, they sat quietly, Poe sipping the water, watching Artoo walk lazily to a patch of sunlight and collapse in it, the weak, late winter sunshine catching on his bristly fur. Rey curled her legs up underneath her and pulled the sweatshirt over her hands, playing with the sleeves while Poe tried to figure out what to say.

All he could come up with was: “I missed you.”

“Yeah.” Rey’s smile was tight now. “I’m - I … needed to leave. I didn’t want to … to leave you ,” her voice wavered. “But I was so scared, Poe. He had that...that tape, and all I could think about was how it could … ruin both our lives. And th-then, I thought what if you believed him, and-”

“No.” Poe shook his head quickly, setting the water glass down at the table in front of him, turning to take Rey’s hands in his, stopping her from tugging on her sleeves. “Rey, no, I would never-”

“-I knew that,” Rey protested, eyes wide. “But I couldn’t believe it, even if I knew it was true because how? How could you believe me over someone who...who had all this horrible evidence, and-”

“Because you told me he hurt you,” Poe said firmly. “And I know Snoke is a fucking snake. And I trust you, and I-” He stopped himself from saying I love you because the words hurt enough in his head. “I will always believe you, Rey.”

She nodded, biting on her lip in a clear attempt to keep from crying. “Luke told me you helped him get evidence on them all,” she said when it seemed like she wasn’t in as much danger of crying. 

“Didn’t do much,” Poe muttered. “Got a little blackmailed, but hey, it worked out in our favor.”

“You shouldn’t have been blackmailed at all,” Rey said almost angrily, tugging her hands out of his and wiping at her eyes again. “It was all my fault-”

“Are you kidding me?” Poe asked, flabbergasted. “It was their fault, Rey. All theirs. They hurt you. Kylo especially - and Snoke tried to take advantage of that connection, and of your and my connection. Terex is a fucking bottom feeder, and - and none of it is your fault.”

“If you hadn’t been dating me, they wouldn’t have-”

“They would have found some other way to fuck with me, believe me.” Poe wiped a hand over his eyes, more exhausted than ever. “And I could say the same thing. If you hadn’t been dating me, they would never have tried to dig up that video - which was totally fucking illegal for him to have in a thousand different ways, by the way, so definitely not your fault - and tried to … to what, I’m guessing it was the same as me? Try to make me perform for Snoke? Some sorta information?”

Rey nodded, her face twisting in misery and probably anger.

“Right. I don’t blame you for a second, sweetheart, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you blamed me because Snoke should have never have gotten within fifteen hundred miles of you.”

“But it isn’t your fault,” Rey said firmly, eyes flashing.

Poe lifted his eyebrows. See? He tried to ask with his eyes. Rey snorted and nodded. 

“Yeah. Got it.”

“Okay.” Poe reached out to tuck some of her hair behind her ear, but he redirected and gently touched her shoulder instead. He pulled away when Rey looked up; she looked sadder when he pulled away. “Okay, then.”

“Can we…” Rey studied her hands, her face slowly turning beet red. “Um.”

“Do you need something?” Poe looked around, frowning. “Are we sitting too close together?” He moved to get up, and Rey lurched forward, gasping.

“No!” 

Poe froze, confused. Rey tugged on the sleeve of his jacket, and Poe sat back down. It took Rey a few seconds to pull her hands back; they hovered over his arm long enough for him to get a dangerous sliver of hope.

“No, you can … please sit there?” Rey’s eyes were filling with tears, and Poe stayed frozen, wondering if he’d moved too quickly, or said something.

“Did I upset you?” He asked gently. “I can - what can I do differently?” She shook her head, tears slipping down her cheeks now, and he waited as she wiped them clean. “I can also be quiet. I swear I can be quiet.” He smiled to lighten it, and Rey huffed an angry laugh.

“It’s over, isn’t it?” Rey shook her head, and more tears slipped free. Poe watched, stupefied. “It’s all my damn fault, and don’t say it isn’t - you said you don’t blame me forgetting fucking blackmailed … so that means you wouldn’t h-have left me or broken up with me if you’d … if you’d s-seen the tape?”

“Of course I wouldn’t have done that,” Poe said, horrified by the idea of something so callous.

“So it’s my fault.” Rey covered her eyes for a second and talked quickly, her voice thick with tears. “I b-broke - I - it was me, and now you don’t want to even sit near me, and you drove all this way because you’re kind but you’re kind to everyone and we’re done, and there’s nothing I can do to make up for how shitty I was to you-”

“Whoa.” Poe tugged on Rey’s forearm so, so gently, until she dropped her hands and looked at him, her eyes red. There were huge circles under her eyes, too: how had he missed that? “There’s a whole lot to talk about there, but first - you weren’t shitty to me, Rey.”

“Yes I was.” She wiped her nose gracelessly. “I hurt you.”

“You did,” Poe agreed, and Rey closed her eyes to hear it. Her face, lovely and red as it was, twisted further. “Hey.” He touched one of her hands delicately, wanting her to open her eyes to look at him. She didn’t. “You hurt me, but not because you were trying to. That’s … that’s a huge distinction to make.”

“I still hurt you.” Rey tilted her head back and sucked in a breath of air, her left knee bouncing. “I hurt you, and things are over between us, and I can’t begin to tell you how sorry I am-”

“Rey, why do you assume things are over between us?” Poe asked evenly, even as his heart leaped in his chest with an even more dangerous proportion of hope than before. “Did I say that?”

“No.” Rey looked at him at last, her eyes wider now. “You didn’t.”

“We need to talk more,” Poe said firmly. “If we get back together, if we don’t, whatever happens. If we can be more open with each other - and I’m not saying you have to tell me every painful thing that’s ever happened to you, Sunshine, I’m not - but if we can be more open, if we can say what we’re thinking, I think … I think we can avoid a lot of trouble in the future. As friends, or as more.”

“What if I want it to be as more?” Rey asked softly. “What if I never stopped wanting that?”

Poe smiled, his heart aching now. “Then I’d be the happiest person on earth, Rey. And I say that as someone who wore the same pair of pants for three days in a row and only showered so I could have a new place to cry, so that’d be quite the turnaround.”

Rey made a wounded noise, and Poe shook his head, laughing slightly. “You don’t have to feel bad for me. Please don’t.” 

“I…” Rey cleared her throat and rolled her shoulders like she was squaring for a fight. She looked him dead in the eye. “I love you,” she said firmly. The world seemed to slot back into place, and Poe felt a knot of tension unwind in his chest. “I never stopped. Ever. I love you so much, and I was so afraid of - of what might happen that I chose something that hurt you. And I wish you’d let me be sorry for it.”

Poe knew he was seconds from crying. “Then I’ll let you be sorry for it,” he said as gentle as she’d been firm. “If you let me hold you?”

Rey was in his arms a half-second later, burrowing in and tucking her face in his neck like she’d never left. They adjusted naturally so she lay between his legs, curled up to his chest, and Poe wrapped his arms around her, kissing her head at long last, relieved to have her so close. It could have been any Saturday morning, pre-lunch cuddling on the couch, but there weren’t any textbooks nearby, and they both looked like they hadn’t slept or known joy in a week. They also clung to each other with a lot more urgency than normal, one of Poe’s hands constantly on Rey as he stroked her arms, her back, her hair, dropping innocent, grateful kisses to her hair and forehead, and once on the tip of her nose.

“I love you,” he said softly against the back of her head, when she pressed her face to his chest once more, her hand tracing patterns over his heart. “I love you so much.”

Rey murmured it back to him, the phrase lost in a muffle against his sweater, and Poe took a deep breath in and out, relieved to hear the words, and more relieved to feel them.

The front door opened after another quarter hour of them holding each other. In that time, Rey had dozed off on Poe’s chest, and when the door opened, Poe half-startled. Rey made a soft noise but continued sleeping.

Luke Skywalker walked in, smiling when he saw Poe, and he held a hand up to the person behind him, who was carrying several grocery bags.

Poe sat as tensely as he could, trying to seem like innocent, trustworthy Boy Scout who happens to be a pillow for your niece right now, that’s it, Sir, when the legendary astronaut Obi Wan Kenobi walked through the door. 

Obi Wan, or Obi as Rey called him, was in his eighties now, clearly still spry, but softened by time. His eyes were still bright blue, as bright as Luke’s, and his beard and hair were completely white.

“Poe Dameron,” Obi said in a regal accent not too different from Rey’s. “It is nice to finally see you.”

“Um. Same to you, sir,” Poe managed to say. Obi nodded at Rey with a smile. 

“Let her rest,” Obi said calmly, heading into the kitchen with his bags. “We can talk later, young Mr. Dameron.”

Poe nodded and went back to staring at Rey, astounded as ever that someone like her could trust him, someone as perfect and wonderful and amazingly -

Human, he told himself firmly. Rey was human, and he loved her for it, and he needed to stop putting her on a pedestal no matter what.

She napped in his arms for another hour, during which time his leg fell asleep, Artoo jumped on his back and curled up on his shoulder, needles like nails as they dug in and out of his jacket, Obi and Luke came in to sit on the other sofa to watch a program, and the sun was covered up completely by clouds.

A little after noon, Obi stood up and murmured, quieter than the tv really, “I’ll go fix us some lunch.”

Rey sat up, yawning softly and rubbing her eyes. “Lunch?”

“Did you just wake up?” Poe asked, mystified.

“She heard the word lunch ,” Luke teased. “My Padawan here can’t resist the call of Obi’s grilled cheese.”

“That’s definitely true.” Rey smiled up at Obi, who walked past the couch and touched her braid lightly, not seeming to care that she was still nestled against Poe. “Hi, Obi.”

“Hello, darling girl.” He smiled at them both, radiating peacefulness, and Poe decided that, especially when taking into account his mother’s stories of him, Obi Wan Kenobi might be one of the greatest men alive. “One or two?”

“Two,” Rey said, yawning before leaning back down onto Poe’s chest. “You’re warm,” she whispered to Poe, whose ears heated up unbearably. 

“Um.” Poe shifted, eyeing Obi slightly guiltily because he was flagrantly cuddling Rey in front of him having never been properly introduced, but Obi seemed terribly unbothered by it.

“Perhaps you can get some more sleep?” Obi suggested kindly. “If Mr. Dameron doesn’t mind.”

“I don’t mind,” Poe said hastily. “I don’t.” 

“Very good.” Obi walked to the kitchen, Artoo hot on his heels.

“How you doin’, kid?” Luke asked gruffly, and Rey lifted a shoulder - as far as Poe could tell, her eyes were shut again.

“Sleepy.” She curled a hand up against Poe’s stomach. “...hungry.”

“Atta girl.” Luke smiled, and Poe’s heart twinged at the thought of Rey the last few days if Obi and Luke were both so happy at the prospect of her eating and sleeping. 

He ran his fingers through her hair, avoiding some of the tangles, and within a few minutes, Rey’s breathing evened out, a sign she was asleep again. He could smell butter and bread heating up in the kitchen, hear the sizzle of the grilled cheeses being made, and Poe let himself drift in the quiet of the moment; it could almost cause whiplash, he mused, that he could be so at peace right now, Rey in his arms, still in love with him, lunch cooking and everything back to the way he wanted. 

Sure, the trial loomed over them now, of Terex and Snoke, and no doubt there’d be some serious maneuvering on Luke’s part to make sure the exact nature of the blackmail didn’t go public. But he had faith in Luke - and he always had faith in Rey. No matter how hard the path before them was, they could get through it, together. 

And in that moment, with lunch cooking, with Rey asleep in his arms, with his heart more whole than it had been in a week, Poe found that it wasn’t really all that difficult to have hope.