Chapter 1: Cyc-5 Blues
Cyc-5 Blues- n. Mess halls run on a schedule. Stormtroopers aren't gourmets. Cyc-5 sucks. Kinda.
“I hate Cyc-5s.” Finn’s tray dropped onto the table, empty except for a hydrobag and two portion bread packets. Poe didn’t move from behind the double set of data pads he had set up, hurriedly finishing off a set of overdue fleet reports for General Organa from the look of it. Jess snorted and tossed the packet that skidded across the table back at him. Finn shook it out, pouring the powder into a tray section.
“Every Cyc-5. Blue shrimp, margrove and tarro. Or crico-protein and darshu. How did they manage to put all the worst food on one day.” He stirred the mush resentfully, waiting for it to proof and expand.
“Aw, come on Finn! I grew up on these and you have no idea how happy I was when I saw them setting up the production pool here. I mean, it’s not fresh delvic prawns, but still.” Jess peeled the shrimp and took a relishing bite of the meat, washing it down with the cold margrove and tarro soup. Finn’s lip recoiled, looking disgusted. He pulled his own tray closer, guarding his portion bread from any fragments and slopped soup.
“It’s still got legs. Like… a bunch of them.” Wex nodded, stabbing at his own tray of crico patties and darshu leaves.
“I’m with him on that. Shrimp are pretty gross.”
“Your food has legs too!” Finn exclaimed. Wex shrugged.
“Yeah, but not attached still. Crico’s so compressed you can barely tell what’s what. Crunchy!” Finn batted away the fork full of crico that Wex was waving towards him. He waved his hand dismissively at the whole table.
“That’s disgusting.This whole meal? It's about as appealing as getting crystal sand in your a cath-1 tube!” Finn exclaimed, ripping another piece off his portion. There was a sharp burst of laughter, followed by a wet snort and a second, even louder burst from around the table.
Jess had managed to laugh in the midst of another sip of soup, and was pressing a shop rag to her face to stop broth fromleaking out her nose. L’ulo was grinning, while Temmin and Karé were openly laughing at their squadmate. Poe’s raised brow finally appeared for a moment from behind the expanded data pad he had been tapping on.
“Is soup via the nasal cavities a childhood favourite too Jess?” Jess coughed into the rag, and glared at the data pad shield.
“Ugh. Damn it Finn. Warn a girl before you break out something like that.”
Finn looked a bit abashed at the raucous outburst his words had generated.
“What. Did you think troopersuits make it easy to bioevac? I swear the First Order’s infantry motto should have been suit up, tube up.”
“No- nope! Stop talking.” Jess demanded, coughing hard and waving her hands in surrender at Finn. “I’m not gonna finish this meal if you keep it up. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean you can ruin it for the rest of us.”
She blew her nose and Wex groaned, putting his head down on the table, shoulders still shaking.
“Ten credits if someone yells that during the next engagement.” Karé declared, and Wex actually hooted like a loevery bird.
But Finn was still in a mood over the meal.
“Well at least everyone else is enjoying my misery.” He complained, shaking out the second portion pack and a splash of water. He impatiently watched the bread rise up, prodding at it with his spoon.
“There wasn’t even any sucrogel left.” Finn complained, quietly enough that the rest of the table wouldn’t hear over their own amusement.
Emerging with a sympathetic smile, Poe finally pulled down his fortress of data pads, tucking them into his bag and a couple of styluses into his shirt pocket.
“Sorry buddy. Tough luck tonight.” He rested his hand on Finn’s shoulder blade as he swung his legs out from under the table.
“Yeah.” Finn grumbled, watching Poe duck into the serving cove. He came out screwing the lid back onto his canteen. Cha, always in the evenings, Finn remembered. Poe only ever had the hot steaming cha in the evenings. He tried to phase back into the conversation as Poe came back towards the table.
“I’ve gotta head out to the Summary Call. See you guys in the morning yeah?” He announced to the table. The squad waved him off, already back to chat as he reached for his jacket hanging over the seat. He tossed it over his shoulder, and paused to lean in, nudging Finn lightly in the back.
“Here. Got a spare from the mess staff. Commander’s privilege.” Poe murmured, slipping a sealed pod full of jiggling sucrogel next to Finn on the bench.
“Wha-” Finn turned around, catching the quick wink Poe threw him before he jogged off to his briefing session.
He looked down at the pod again and saw a grease pencil mark scrawled in Poe’s untidy hand.
Don’t get your cath-1 in a knot, buddy. I got your 6.
Chapter 2: Protocol Query
Protocol Query- n. Code for when you have a question for someone, but you don't want to bring it up in front of everyone.
I maybe decided to continue this as a series of Stormpilot shorts based around Finn and Poe's adjustment to baselife after TLJ. They might jump around a bit timeline wise. Maybe.
“Javos!” Finn glanced up at the shout from Jess and saw Poe leaving the chow line with a tall female with bright blue skin. Jess kicked out the seat next to her with a clatter and waved them down.
There was a chorus of greetings from around them as Poe spun a chair around at the end of the table and straddled it.
“Finn, Suralinda Javos. Former Black Squad pilot, visiting journalist, general pain in my ass.” Finn rose to hold out his hand, tossing on a friendly grin.
“Hey. Any friend of Poe’s is a friend of mine.”
Suralinda’s gaze traced over his face and frame leisurely. His eyes popped open a little at the pointed canines that marked her smile. “Right back at you.” She pulled his hand close and pressed a kiss to it.
“Alright, alright.” Poe scolded, pushing Suralinda back towards her seat. “No need to seduce every new member of the resistance. It’s not an entry requirement.”
“Just a perk?” Wexley piped up. He got a sharp toothed grin in reply.
“So Finn.” Suralinda fixed him in her gaze again. Her voice slipped over the consonants. “Are you the new pilot in my old crew here?”
“Nah, I’m, um…I guess...” He fumbled over the best way to describe where he was now.
“Tactics and Intel Specialist. Pathfinders.” L’ulo provided, succinctly. A slow realization rolled over her and her smile was suddenly less hooded.
“You….you’re the trooper!” She exclaimed, prodding at his shoulder with a sharp finger. Finn shrugged.
“Yup. Ex. But, yeah…”
“You are big news still in the galactic rumour mill.” Her attention snapped back to Poe.“Oh, you owe him big Dameron. He showing you some gratitude Finn?” She grinned at him, but flicked out her hand at Poe’s leg, making him scoot his chair further away with a screech.
“Uh, I guess.” Her eyes shot over to Poe.
“‘I guess.’ Oof. Must be losing your touch Poe.”
“My touch is doing just fine I’ll have you know.” Poe shot back, challenging her tone. “Now why don’t you stop flirting with the ground crew for once and catch us all up.”
“Losing your touch and you’re no fun.” Suralinda ribbed, reaching out to press a finger against his forehead. Finn puffed out a laugh watching Poe go cross eyed as he swatted her away again.
Poe and Suralinda were taking turns swapping old scandal stories about merchant bigwigs to entertain the rest of the table. Several others had gathered to greet her and grouped around the table, listening eagerly.
Finn slipped out of his seat and wandered to the service alcove. A complicated looking chrome yavinese samovar had already been wheeled out, twittering with steam. He grabbed an extra cup from the tray. It took turns on a few of the knobs and taps so the heavily spiced cha flowed out. A second spigot filled his own mug with a clear, grassy-scented tea.
He expected he would have to stand on his return, but Poe had casually lifted his feet to rest on his chair. As Finn passed behind him, he shifted forward and stomped both feet back to the ground in emphasis. Finn pushed the mug towards him, and Poe didn’t falter for a moment in his telling. But his hand wrapped around it with a quick double tap of thanks from his bottom two fingers.
Finn and Poe headed down the hall, BB-8 wheeling between them.
“So were you and Javos ever together?” Finn asked, his face open and curious.
“Sura? Nah. Javos' just is the biggest flirt in the system.” Poe waved off.
“Next to you?” Finn challenged him back.
“Title’s disputed.” Poe returned. He shrugged at the conversation. “We get along, but we never really clicked like that.”
“Yeah, yeah I get that.” Finn nodded, brow drawn down. He slowed a bit, letting BB-8 move ahead of them.
“What’s that look for?” Poe shifted his path to knock his elbow against Finn’s.
“Nothin’! Nah it’s…” He shook his head, but Poe caught the furtive glance he sent him. Poe spun in front and put his hands to Finn’s shoulders to stop him.
Finn huffed. His mouth pursed for a moment before he rolled his eyes hard.
“Yes, it’s a Protocol Query.”
“Well come on then, lay it on me buddy.” Poe encouraged, thumbs pressing playfully to shake the tension from the corded muscle above Finn’s collarbones. Early on he had promised Finn he could come to him with any questions, anything that didn’t make sense after a lifetime of regimented, controlled existence. They’d both laughed when Poe had jokingly suggested they codeword it as a “Protocol Query” in case there were others around. The term had stuck.
“It just seems that a lot of people here don’t seem to care about, you know, species or anything. The First Order...it’s all humanoid or droids.”
“In general?” Poe posed. He knew that’s not what Finn meant.
“Yeah, of course. But for like...sex, romance, whatever.” Finn elaborated. Poe nodded along with him.
“I guess, for a lot of people you grow up with so many different forms, or you get off world, start seeing how crazy all the places out there are. All the people. I mean, why limit yourself if you connect with someone.”
Poe let his thumb push just slightly up the line of Finn’s neck, watching the flicker of thought across his face with amusement.
“But how do they-” Finn didn’t seem entirely sure what he was trying to communicate, but was swirling his hands rapidly in front of himself, between their bodies. “Like, I would think not everyone would have parts that…”
“Couple?” Poe provided, dropping his grip to make a clicking gesture with his hands.
“Well. Yeah.” Finn retorted, crossing his arms. It was a logical question. There was no reason for Poe to be so smug looking at the moment.
Finn watched cautiously as Poe’s hand lifted again, this time his palm pressing broad and warm and flush against Finn’s neck. The blunt edge of his thumbnail grazed the underside of Finn’s jaw.
“Oh kid, there is a whole galaxy of difference between good sex and effective breeding.”
Finn felt like a burst of fever was pushing upwards from his chest. He watched a bit slack-jawed as Poe’s lip caught between his teeth, jutting out his jaw. His eyebrow twitched, and with a slip of his hand over Finn’s shoulder and arm, he took a few easy steps backwards before pivoting on his foot and striding down the hall.
“Have a good sleep Finn.”
Chapter 3: Perco
Perco- n. Portmanteau for “Personal Communication”. A message from home, usually of high significance.
Prompts? For this? For other fics? Perhaps?
Finn was reading through the section on the Molnara System in the galactic atlas Jess had given him, watching in his periphery for the rise of silhouettes over the horizon. Poe had wanted to run some dusk manoeuvers with Black and Green Squad to work on low vision flying without advanced guidance.
It was Cyc-5 again anyways, so Finn had stowed away extras at lunch and skipped the evening meal. Without the squad around he much preferred working his way through some leftovers, waiting for them in an old transport ship seat that had been stripped from its vessel and left against a wall of the flight deck.
“Ah, you got the good seat!” Finn turned towards the unfamiliar voice, a casual smile rising up.
“You gotta be fast or lucky around here.” Finn returned, repeating Poe’s favorite excuse for nabbing the best seats, best snacks or best opportunities.
“Or both.” The voice belonged to a short, charcoal skinned corporal, who had brightly iridescent scales over their brow, head and trailing down their spine. They settled down on the floor, leaning back against the wall.
“You’re Finn, right?” Finn lowered his data pad into his lap and nodded, reaching across to shake hands.
“Yeah. I guess you abandon one galatic order, and all of a sudden you give up any chance at anonymity you ever had?” There was a rolling, lisping laugh from the corporal. “You been around base long?”
“No, just arrived. I was off-planet working on at a comms outpost for a while.”
“Well, good to have you back then…” Finn paused, waiting for their name.
“Sadly, you can’t actually pronounce it without a forked tongue?” The corporal provided quickly, flashing their bifurcated tongue out at Finn. “So, you can just call me Tee.”
“Good to meet you then Tee.” Finn shot them a wide smile and got one in return. “Why hanging around flight deck if you’re in comms?”
“Our station got a perco just as I was prepping to come here. So I grabbed it and brought it along. I guess it’s for one of the pilots who’s out flying. Soon as I debriefed they said I could bring it down. It’s easiest to be new when you’re delivering one of these, that way you can either take credit and start off on a high note with everyone, or just sorta fade away and let the regulars handle the fallout.” Tee’s mouth flipped into a half grimace, pulling out a square drive chip from their shirt pocket. Finn studied it for a moment, before glancing back to Tee.
“Sorry, the perco is what?”
“I dunno what’s on it, I don’t hack-” Tee seemed vaguely insulted at first before Finn drew back sharply and a spark of realization changed his tone. “Sorry, right. First Order probably doesn’t have them… They’re personal communications, percos. Encrypted messages for from family or friends who aren’t active resistance. That stuff can’t just come in on our official channels.”
“Like news from home planets, yeah?” Poe turned in his seat to follow Tee’s explanation more closely.
“Big news.” Tee emphasized. “They’re a huge hassle to send. You have to use a biomatched beacon to get the current frequency for our nearest comms station, get the message cleared and cleansed of all coordinate info, trip-crypt it, then wait for someone to take the hard copy to base. So it’s usually only major stuff- birth, death, major relocation.”
Finn nodded along.
“Yeah, that is not First Order standard.” Finn murmured. “You’d have to know someone on the outside for that.”
Tee’s tongue dipped out into the air momentarily. They pocketed the drive again and the flicking end of their tail wrapped snug around their feet.
“Sorry. Kind of a downer, I know.”
Finn huffed a laugh, shrugging and glancing back out at the sky.
“Well, maybe it’ll be good news this time.”
“Yeah,” Tee sighed, their head nodding against their chest on the exhale.“Hope so.”
The flare of the engines cut out as Black Squad landed, a few of them still giving off short blasts as they shuttled forward to give more space for the incoming Green Squad A-Wings.
Cockpits popped and both Tee and Finn stood up. A sharp trill sounded as Poe’s feet hit the ground. He popped up onto his toes to catch sight of where Finn was.
“Thanks BB-8. You got it from here?” A twitter of agreement drifted through the hanger as Poe tucked his helmet under his arm and jogged over, patting Jess and Snap on the shoulders as he passed.
“Hey buddy.” Poe cocked a grin at Finn, before noticing the corporal beside him. “Who’s this?”
“Commander Dameron, sir.” Tee stepped forward and held out his hand for a firm shake. “Corporal Tshsthlystloyoth. Comms Div. 12 until recently. But you can just call me Tee. Or Corporal.” Tee added quickly.
Poe looked cheerily relieved at the nickname provided.
“Good to meet you Tee. Finn just showing you around base or-”
“No, sir, sorry. The general asked me to report down here right after my arrival debrief. I have a perco here. For one of the pilots.”
Finn was surprised at the speed with which the hush slipped across the deck. The remaining members of the crew stopped yapping back and forth. Instead they murmured brief instructions to their flight droids and wiped their hands, glancing warily at each other as they shifted over towards Poe.
“Perco. Right.” Poe frowned, thumb and finger rubbing against the smooth side of his flight helmet. “Who is it for?”
“Lutho Apps.” Tee reported crisply, but their eyes were scanning the pilots gathering behind their commander for any signs of recognition.
“Green Squad.” Poe breathed out. “Right, they’re just coming in now.”
Finn could see some of the tension fall from the Squad, all of them glancing at each other with reserved relief.
“Oddy, go grab that bottle of Goran spirits from the stash yeah? And let the other squad leaders know. They’ll want to grab something and head down.” Poe tossed a passcard to Oddy, who headed off towards the store holds at a quick step.
“Ugh. Always the strong stuff for a perco party.” Karé winced, but seemed to agree with the choice.
“Perco party…” Finn shifted over, glancing at Poe, who was looking out into the darkening sky. Poe tilted his head slightly, brow furrowed at the question in Finn’s voice.
“Oh, uh. Percos are-”
“Yeah, Tee explained those.”
Poe gave a few quick tight nods, shifting his gaze between Finn and the open bay of the flight deck.
“Okay. Well, when one comes in it’s either really good or really bad news. Squad and div leaders all bring a bottle of something out, and we either celebrate or mourn alongside whoever its for..”
“Perco party.” Finn murmured with comprehension, letting his own eyes join Poe’s to scan the horizon. He caught sight of the landing boosters of an A-wing firing up in the dark sky, followed by others and in a moment, Green Squad was dropping carefully into the port.
The leading ship pulled up closest, a stylized kelp leaf outline roughly painted on the nose in dark green.
“Starting the debrief without us Dameron?” A shouted call came from the squad commander Udbar as soon as he stabilized and released the cockpit latches, looking in interest at the gathering just beyond the X-wing cluster. His harness buckles zipped back into the seat as he climbed out quickly, frowning as Poe shook his head with unusual solemnity.
“There’s a perco for one of yours.” Poe said, his voice lowering as Udbar drew towards them. The other canopies were still just rising and it would be hard for the pilots to hear him as the hydros released and they pulled their flight comms and helmets off.
“Which one?” He demanded, looking from Poe to Tee, who was now holding out the drive to him.
“Lutho Apps, sir.”
There was a communal breath held as the information processed and a low, rippling hum came from Udbar.
“Okay. Okaay. Her wife is expecting, so the odds are good. Thanks corporal.” Udbar turned back towards his squad, who were talking to each other with curious glances.
“Apps!” A human woman with a carefully scarified scalp and dark eyes snapped to. “Perco.”
“Shit!” In a flash she had already sworn, shoved her helmet and flight jacket at her squadmates and sprinted towards them. She was followed by a hard clattering of boots as they trailed behind, ox-masks and unwound data plugs trailing from their flight suits.
“Here, here.” Her fingers and voice were trembling as she took the drive from Tee. Her fingers found the seam for the drive, and snapped open the disc covering the bio-decryptor pad. Her thumb pressed hard, and she pulled it back quickly, wiping the rising point of blood off on her lip. She dropping to the floor, putting the drive down in front of her.
The rest of Green Squad joined into the huddle around her.
A spray of blue light shot up, a short message crawling out as Lutho breathed it aloud with a shaky voice.
“Hi Lu. Take a look at what we did. Ever and ever, Bael.” She held still as the message scrolled away, and a small image appeared of a woman with slick, dark hair pulled into a braid over her shoulder, and a tiny dark head, wrapped in blankets, laying on their chest. The image held for a moment in silence, before another 2D picture appeared, showing a closer view of a small, squished face, with drowsy, deep, dark eyes.
Lutho reached out to pet a finger over the shape of its tiny mouth and looked up.
“I’m a mom." She grabbed the drive and clasped it to her chest before leaping at her squad mates. “I’m a mom now! I’m a fucking mom!”
There was a woop and relieved smiles crashed across faces. She was caught up in the crush as the huddle of pilots closed around her. Poe shifted back from the rush, sliding next to Finn.
“Not the worst Cyc-5 ever then.” He murmured. His grin was softer than his prods at Finn usually were.
Finn snorted, but couldn’t help agree. He dropped an arm around Poe’s waist and tapped his knuckles against his hip for a moment.
“See? You're just a big sap Dameron. Someday everyone else around here is gonna find out too.”
Poe slipped his fingers into Finn’s jacket pocket to pull teasingly. As he released he leaned in close, his mouth ghosting past Finn’s ear. “Nah, that’s our little secret.” He whispered, before taking a few more steps and calling back loudly to the group. “I’ll go let everyone know it’s time for the fun liquor!”
Finn watched him disappear around the doorway before he turned back and happily stepped forward to throw his arms over Tee and Jess’s shoulders.
“Well, bearer of good news it is Tee! You’ll have to stick around.” Tee smiled and their tongue flicked swiftly from the corner of their mouth.
"Good. Cause I couldn't take another 4 day transpo stint in the back of a Kars cargo brick."
“Damn right! Now buck up for a long night you two, ‘cause things are about to get messy!” Jess crowed, hugging Finn tight around the waist and lifting him slightly off his feet. "Davas kirran Lutho!"
Perco-late: v. When you don’t show up on time the morning after a perco party because the caf line was a parsec long with hung-over beings
Chapter 4: Free-Willed Adult Consenting Degenerate
Free-Willed Adult Consenting Degenerate- n. A member of the Resistance
It's all a bit sweary, but so am I.
“How do you do it?” Poe glanced over at Finn. He was walking in long, if unsteady steps beside him, on their second lap of the outdoor landing pad.
Finn considered the dark night sky for a moment.
“Handle all these fucking feelings?”
Poe laughed out loud.
Finn looked at him in consternation, turning towards the dark outline of the forest and throwing his arms out.
“All. These. Fucking. Feelings. It’s like everything in the Order was black and white, bad or worse. 90% of the time the only feelings were afraid or bored.”
“Other ten?” Poe interjected. Finn’s eyebrows pulled in and he was almost pouting.
“Hungry.” Poe huffed a laugh, jamming his hands into his jacket.
“And now, here it’s like everyone is so conspicuously happy, and angry, and sad, and horny.”
“Who is being conspicuously horny?” Damn it, Poe was at least a little bit in charge here. He wasn’t a huge fan of order and decorum, but really?
“Karé and Mo were actually conspicuously fucking.” Finn countered. Poe opened his mouth to protest, but let his teeth click closed after a moment. Finn looked pleased to have countered his attempt at a rebuttal and got another shot in. “I’ve accidentally caught them doing it three times. And I have been very careful about looking behind crates and in storage rooms."
“Okay. Well Karé and Mo are always conspicuously fucking. But its just kinda a thing for them both, so.” Finn was grinning, and Poe shrugged, giving up trying to logic this particular example away.
“The Order was right about one thing.” Finn nodded, his toe catching slightly on nothing and making him jog forwards for a moment. “Meant to do that...But they were right. The Resistance is totally just a bunch of degenerates.”
“Hey. We may be degenerates, but at least we are free willed, adult, consenting degenerates.” Poe countered, reaching forward to poke Finn in the chest. Abrupt laughter spilt out of Finn and he grasped Poe’s hand, clasping it tight against his chest and sighing dramatically. He continued to walk backwards, watching Poe follow him.
“But seriously Poe, I have so many feelings Poe. What am I supposed to do with them.”
“Well, first you can walk forwards before you split the back of your head open.” Poe reprimanded gently, tugging at his hand to pull Finn back alongside him. He relented, but only dropped one arm, reorganizing the closer hand tightly around Poe’s.
“And then?” Finn looked at him with genuine curiosity, swinging their arms absently as they started the third loop.
“Well, you get used to them a bit.” Poe started, frowning in thought, back to when he was a kid and everything, the sky, the galaxy, his emotions, his dreams, all felt endless. “And you find ways to deal with them, or express them. And that makes you feel better.” He was sort of happy with this explanation. He never said he was any kind of philosopher or sage. Most of the time any advice beyond drinks menus or engine repair was pulled directly out of his arse.
“What sort of things?”
“Well, some people like to express themselves with art, or music.”
“Like you.” Finn pointed out. Poe nodded.
“Yeah, playing instruments helps.”
“I’m not good at that kind of thing. I can’t even sing. Or draw.” Finn was clearly ruling out the possibilities as they went. Poe was slightly more careful as he compiled other examples.
“Some people like exercise, like going running or something? What, no!” Poe regretted this one immediately as Finn yanked him along as he broke into a run. They made it halfway around the pad before Finn slowed and stood panting, looking like he was focused on a deep and difficult question.
“Nope. That did not work.”
“So glad we tried it then.” Poe shot back breathlessly.
“It kind of just made me feel like vomiting.”
Poe pulled back slightly, stretching the link of their still connected hands.
“I’m fine. I’m not going to.” Finn paused for a moment, letting out a short burp and frowning. “I’m 90% sure I’m not going to vomit.”
“We should get you to bed soon bud.” Poe determined, tugging at Finn to move them slowly back towards the base.
“But I still have the feelings.” Finn’s voice was mournful, and Poe knew he shouldn’t laugh. He tried really hard not to.
“Well, luckily, some people also deal with their feelings by drinking a whole bunch and getting real shouty about it.”
He was teasing, but Finn wasn’t picking up on it.
‘Like me.” FInn smiled proudly.
“Yeah, like you buddy.” Poe laughed, and squeezed Finn’s hand.
“Okay. I guess it’s kinda a bit better. Or I’m just really sleepy.”
“Why not both?” Poe swiped them into the building with his thumb and they swerved gently from one side of the hall to the other as they made their way towards the sleeping quarters.
“Can we talk more in the morning if I’m still full of feelings?” Finn asked, as they turned the corner to Poe’s hall. Poe stopped at his door and unlocked it with his passcard, letting it zip back to his belt on its tether.
“We can always talk buddy.”
“‘Kay. You know, even with all this stuff-” Finn gestured with his free hand at his general chest area, and Poe quirked a smile. “It’s so much better here. With the Resistance.”
“Well, you’re one of us now Finn.” Poe patted Finn’s arm warmly, and stepped back into the dark space of his room. “Whether you like it or not.”
Finn’s face crinkled up and he laughed again.
“I’m really happy that I’m a free-willed adult consenting degenerate.”
Poe’s grin hurt a little at this.
“You and me both.”
It was quiet for a moment, a slow, pulsing hum coming from BB-8’s charging station the only noticeable noise. Finn leaned forward slightly, into the doorway. His hand squeezed Poe’s tight for a moment.
“Mhmmmh?” Poe didn’t want to say anything, was just tracking the slow sway of Finn’s body and the loosening of his fingers as he pulled them up.
“Gnight.” In a short moment, Finn pressed a kiss to the point of Poe’s nose, slapped the door release and disappeared behind it.
Poe just stood there for a moment, hearing Finn’s slightly stuttering steps heading down the hall, the uneven hum he started up on his way.
“Goodnight you fucking degenerate.”
He heard an echoing laugh from the hall, turning the corner towards Finn’s room.
Maybe Finn was actually onto something. Too many fucking feelings sounded about right
Chapter 5: -on/-om
-on/-om - suffix. Yanvinese suffix added to a mother’s family name as a cute pet name. Primarily used by parents for small children.
The rough bench was just wide enough for the two of them to collapse onto, adjusting their hand wraps and dragging their faces over a towel. Jess tossed her sweated-through headband into Poe’s face, and he spluttered, jamming it down the back of her shirt in return.
“Good, Finn. Again.” L’ulo put his hand up as a target, pulling back as Finn swung his elbow out and stepped forward to push L’ulo into a defensive stance.
“He looks good, right?” Poe observed, leaning back against the wall. Jess snorted out a short puff of air. “I mean his back. It’s healing up well.”
“Yahkay.” Jess said evenly, nodding her head slowly.
“What?” Poe goggled back at the unimpressed look on her face.
“What do you mean ‘what’- whoa!”
Jess glared up at Poe, who had shifted over into her space and hip checked her onto the floor.
“You’re such a brat Dameron.” Her hand whipped to flick at his hair as she pushed him back, regaining her seat.
“Keep it in your flysuits over there.” L’ulo barked, pausing from showing Finn a counterbalanced strike from his back foot to scowl at them. “I hung you up by your ankles when you were no bigger than an ewok Beyon and I’ll do it again.”
“Beyon?” FInn glanced from L’ulo to where Poe was still trying to stealthily push at Jess’ hip and fend off her own attacks at the same time.
“No.” Poe pointed warningly at Finn and then at L’ulo. “No, that is not becoming a thing. Ow!” Poe slapped at Jess’ hand as she pinched a spot on his waist.
“Enough!” L’ulo grabbed his towel and whipped it over his shoulder in frustration. “That’s enough. You’re acting like children. Go run it off. All of you. I am going to go work on my Wing, and I don’t want to see any of you until after mess tonight.”
“What did I do?” Finn protested, but immediately shuffled to pull on his shoes as he saw the dark mood spreading in L’ulo’s wake.
“Nevermind. Should we-” He pointed out the door and raised his eyebrows at Jess and Poe, who were being equally quick to grab their kit.
Finn slowed to a walk, stopping to look out over the edge of the ridge they had run to. The sun was high and hot, and reflected sharply off the waxy leaves of the tallest trees below them.
“I’m going….. To put beetles…. in your flight boots Dameron.” Jess panted, pulling her canteen from her back strap. “Today was supposed to be a light day, not hand to hand followed by a three hour trail run.”
“Well, you could have stuck around base, but I wasn’t gonna risk it. He used to get so steamed at me sometimes I had to hide up in the tree in our yard. One time, I borrowed an old pod racer from one of my mom’s friends, did some work on it. You should have seen L’ulo and my dad’s faces when I buzzed the fields.” Poe climbed up onto a log, clearly ready for a break as he pulled from his own canteen.
“L’ulo knew your father?” Finn slumped down on the ground, reaching to stretch his hamstrings. Jess sat down in front of him, reaching out a hand to help him extend further.
“Yeah. He lived with us for a while when I was a kid. He was friends with both my parents, from back in the Alliance.”
“Little Poe’s Uncle L’ulo.” Jess grinned, but she was friendly, confidential with Poe here on the hot dusty ground, settled among the tree roots. “Has he heard from Kes lately?”
“Not that I know.” Poe shrugged.
Finn stood and pulled his calf back to stretch, leaving Jess to shift into the softer grass beside the fallen log, basking in the radiant heat.
“When you’re not sprinting through it the heat’s actually pretty nice.” Jess hummed, her eyes closing slowly.
“You look like a gora sunning itself.” Poe smiled. Jess stuck her tongue out for a moment, stretching the sides of her mouth to make her face lizard-like.
“So how long do we have until we can go back to base without facing friendly fire?” Jess murmured, working to toe off her boots and kick them aside.
“Straight route back is about an hour and a half. And it’s still three, four hours until mess. Nap?”
“Mmmm.” Jess folded her arms behind her head.
“You tired?” Poe smiled over at Finn, who was shaking out his limbs and added a shake of his head.
“Nah. Could use a rest, but I’m not great at napping.”
“Grab a seat then buddy.” Poe slapped the log next to him. “We’ll wake you up in a bit Jess.”
“Mhm.” Jess was already drowsing out of consciousness as Finn braced his arms and hoisted himself up next to Poe.
“She can fall asleep anywhere, anytime.” Poe marvelled slightly.
“It’s a skill.” Finn agreed, shifting into a comfortable spot among the knots and branches. “She’s right about the heat though. It’s nice here. Not dry like Jakku.”
Poe hummed in agreement as he looked out over the ridgeline. Finn watched him side-eye for a time, letting his feet swing a little. It was nice. To just sit outside in the sun for a while, not concerned about water rations, or being disciplined for laziness, or being spotted by sand-people. Finn let one leg swing a bit further and nudged against Poe’s.
A soft, content smile turned onto him.
“Hey buddy.” Poe knocked his own foot back against Finn’s. Finn kept his gaze on Poe, watching the slow blink of his eyes in the bright light, hearing the droning buzz of insects rising around them with their stillness.
“Hey...non-protocol query?” Poe’s grin turned toothy and he gestured for Finn to proceed. Finn swung a leg over the trunk, straddling it and hooking his feet on the knobs of broken branches.
“What is a Beyon?”
Poe raised an eyebrow and whipped his own leg over the log to face Fin. His hands flowed down in front of him ending in a flourish.
“This, my friend, is a Beyon. Except about this high.” Poe held a flat, downwards palm about four feet off the ground.
Finn glanced from Poe to his hand, face quizzically held.
Poe reached a toe forward and nudged Finn’s ankle as he laughed.
“It was a lovename my parents called me when I was a kid. Mostly my mumma and her father, actually. Adding an on or om to the end of another family name was a thing in the family I guess? She was a Bey, and I was a boy, so its Beyon. Beyom if I was a girl. My grandfather called her Halerom sometimes. Grandmum was a Haler.”
“Must be nice to have so many names. To have people to give them to you.” Finn posited, looking back out at the ridgeline. Maybe so Poe couldn’t really see his face.
Poe swallowed against the rise of his stomach in his throat. He stayed quiet for once, and just hooked his foot around Finn’s ankle, trying to give him an anchor.
Finn looked back from the bared, bright skyline, his eyes catching Poe’s concern.
“I’m lucky the one I got is so good I don’t need any others.” He smiled a little and Poe wasn’t sure if he meant the name, or the person who gave it to him. Honestly he didn’t much care either way.
“Mmmm. Who needs the rest when you’ve got the best?” Poe offered and Finn huffed a laugh.
“Something like that.”
The buzz of insects in the grass and trees swallowed their silence easily, until Poe yawned, rubbing a hand clumsily along his cheek.
“You mind if I grab a quick few?” Poe asked, nodding towards Jess’s stilled form. Finn just shrugged, leaning back against a limb.
“Nah, I’ll wake you both up in a bit.”
Poe slipped off the log and settled himself against a stump, crossing his arms and letting his chin rest onto his chest.
“Enjoy your beauty sleep Beyon.” Finn murmured from above. Poe squeezed his eyes tight and stuck his tongue out at him.
Chapter 6: Photon Cannon for a Sand Flea
Photon Cannon for a Sand Flea- phr. To overreact, usually to your own detriment. Like trying to kill a small insect with a massive cannon.
Finn scratched at his arm. He had caught himself on some sort of weed out on an early morning run in the forest. Despite a hard scrub as soon as he was back at base, he could still feel the stinging, stippled hives running along his skin every time he moved.
He had only gone out for a run to let off some steam.
His back had been aching all night, he had somehow lost his datapad, and his bootlaces had both snapped when he tried to do them up this morning.
He hadn’t heard anything from or about Rey in weeks, and General Organa had implied strongly that she would find him when and if there was news.
And Rose had chewed him out yesterday for being so impatient, rushing her on the repair job she was doing on the hydrocondenser so she could show him how to fix the mess he had made of a little land cruiser he had been fiddling with for the past month.
It seemed like everyone was on his case. Even the damned plantlife.
The squad was thankfully quiet around the table, eyes blinking slow and sandy, mouths more interested in hot drinks than words. Most of the squad at least.
“Hey buddy, I thought we would be meeting up before heading over?” Poe chided him slightly as he appeared at his elbow, slipping into place with an already proofed portion bread and a mug of caf. “I knocked early, too. Wanted to see if you wanted to go for a jog, or something. You must have been sleeping pretty heavy.” Poe tore up his bread, dipping pieces into his caf.
“No, I was already up. Went for a run.” Finn fingers clenched as he tried not to rake at his skin.
“You could have woke me up.” Poe nudged him with his elbow, tucking a piece of bread into his mouth. “You know I’m always interested in hitting the trail with you.”
Finn twitched, giving in to the urge and rubbing at his wrist with the cuff of his sleeve.
“I just wanted to be alone, okay? We don’t always have to do everything together.” Finn snapped. A dark line followed his nail as the blood capillaries responded to the abrasion.
There was a grind as cutlery stopped in its work and Snap coughed on a mouthful of caf.
The piece of bread hanging in Poe’s caf saturated with liquid and detached, dropping beneath the surface.
“Oh. Yeah. Yeah, I get that.” Poe tried to catch up with the sharp turn in the conversation. Finn just shifted uncomfortably.
“I mean, I don’t need a chaperone every step I take. I can handle myself.”
“I didn’t think about it that way.” Poe started, confusion knitting his brows together. “I just thought we…”
He looked hard at Finn, who was obstinately staring at his tray. His eyes flicked around the table, but all the other faces looked equally unsure, food being picked at cautiously.
“Okay. Good to know. Guess I’ll find someone else to bother next time. You take all the alone time you need.” Poe returned, his voice a lot sweeter than his words. “I wasn’t exactly hurting for company before you came around.”
Jess’s knife skreeled against her plate and she winced at the sharp intrusion.
Kare gave her a sympathetic wince. Poe looked at the soggy remnants in his cup and put it to the corner of his tray.
“Well, I’m gonna go for my run then. Before it starts getting too warm.” Poe pressed a smile at the others around the table, letting his hands slap down on his thighs. “I’ll see you folks later.”
“Ay Commander.” Kare smiled at him softly, and the others waved or chorused along.
Poe took his tray to the alcove before weaving his way out of the mess. He was slowed by others as he went, nodding in recognition at a few people and stopping at the last table near the entrance to chat with one of the ground crew that had been working on Black One last night.
The squad table was quiet until he made it out of the mess, still laughing at something one of the crewmen had said.
“What was that?” Oddy mumbled in his quiet way, fixing his stare on Finn.
Finn shrugged, trying not to catch anyone’s eye.
“That was a bit harsh Finn.” Kare said softly, and Snap murmured his agreement.
“Kinda pulled out the photon cannons to kill a sand flea.”
Finn crossed his arms and stayed quiet, poking at his food until the rest of the squad tidied up and left, glancing back at him as they leaned together in conversation.
Finn hadn’t seen Poe all day when he caught sight of him leaving the laundry drop late in the afternoon.
“Poe. Hey.” Poe looked up at his voice, but his face stayed neutral and pleasant, hands tucking tightly into his pockets.
“I was wondering, maybe we could go have a drink after mess tonight.” Finn tried to sound buoyant and casual. Maybe they could just pretend nothing happened.
There was a pause, and Poe gave him a shrug and a tight smile.
“Auh, I’ll have to catch you next time. I told L’ulo I’d go a couple rounds with him tonight.” He jerked his head towards the general direction of the physio rooms.
“Oh, okay. Yeah sure.” Finn nodded, pasting a smile on that hopefully looked more genuine than it felt.
“Great. Catch up later.” Poe pointed at him as he continued on down the hallway. But he made no contact with Finn like he usually did when passing by, this time leaving a clear berth around him.
It had been three days of the most polite, uncomfortably friendly interactions Finn had experienced since escaping. He had even been hesitant to join the squad table today, aware that they knew exactly what was happening. Thinking they might not want him around after he had clearly screwed up everything.
But Oddy had just murmured at him as Finn tried to break away to a different table, grabbing him by the elbow and directing him to the usual spot.
“He’s out flying with Jess. Don’t be stupid. Again.”
Finn didn’t even complain about the Cyc-5 menu. He didn’t actually eat much of anything.
“Why so glum?” Rose demanded brusquely. Her voice echoed inside the duct she was halfway into.
She had taken him on for his engineering rotation over the last month, showing him the gritty details of the mechanics keeping the base operating. Today was just a maintenance check on the venting ducts and fan units.
“I think I’m fighting with Poe.”
“Why would you think that? Vibroratchet.” Finn carefully worked through Rose’s immaculately tidy toolkit to pull it out.
“He’s not talking to me.” Rose lifted a brow at him as he passed her the ratchet.
“No. He still...talks to me. But he’s just polite. Friendly. Not Poe.” Finn replied, watching Rose emerge again and start tightening the bolts on the duct cover.
“Did something happen?” Finn hesitated from responding for a moment and Rose admonished him, waving at his toe with the tool. “Finn! What happened?”
“I was just… I was in a really bad mood, and I said something stupid about not needing him to always be around or doing stuff with me...and so now we’re fighting and I don’t know how to fix it.”
Rose groaned, putting the ratchet back before she pushed at Finn’s shoulder in frustration. He tipped back in his crouch and landed hard on his tailbone on the packed dirt.
“Finn. You aren’t fighting with Poe.” Rose’s voice was as sharp as her glare.
“Really? Cause it kinda feels like I am.” Finn retorted.
“No, Finn. What happened was you were a jerk, and now Poe’s hurt. That’s not a fight. That’s you being a jerk.” Finn’s protested with an indignant noise, which was cut short as he drew his brows in and frowned.
“What do I do about it?”
“Apologize. Really well. Tell him you were a jerk. And hope he forgives you.”
Finn stalled for a bit in the aisle between the tables, looking at the dark curls hanging over Poe’s eyes, falling piece by piece from where he had pushed them back a moment ago. Finn took a few sure steps forward. He had a peace offering. He would give it to Poe, and Poe would thank him. And then he would apologize. And then everything would go back to normal.
“I grabbed you some cha.” Finn murmured.
He put it down on the table.
Poe glanced at the cup, but not at him.
Finn waited for anything. A nod or a smile indicating he was welcome to sit or keep talking, but Poe just frowned down at the schematics, reaching out to spin his perspective of the moons orbiting around an ashy coloured planet.
Finn rocked on his feet for a moment, and then found himself stepping back slowly, then turning around. He walked out of the mess and towards the flight deck.
Finn’s heels kicked slightly, letting the rough edge of the rock bite against the back of his legs.
“He’s not here. If you’re looking.” Finn glanced over his shoulder. L’ulo L’ampar was standing in his flight suit, wiping his hands on a work rag.
“Yeah, I know.” Finn looked back at the darkening skyline. “He’s working in the mess. No time to chat apparently.”
“Not surprising. He’s pretty busy.” L’ulo replied. “Poe always takes a lot on. Probably too much. Shara was like that.”
Finn nodded, glancing over at L’ulo and trying to read something useful or insightful out of his red eyes. It wasn’t much good. Finn slumped forward, resting his elbows on his knees and propping his chin.
“He always had time before.”
“He makes the time when it’s important to him.” L’ulo replied simply.
A green hand patted Finn’s shoulder, and booted steps receded slowly across the deck.
Finn just tried to swallow back against the rough tension pulling in his throat.
Chapter 7: Dameron Mask
Dameron Mask- n. The charming, out-going persona, historically used by Kes and Poe Dameron, to cover up the fact that shit has hit the proverbial fan.
L’ulo smiled at Poe and leaned against the wall of the physio room.
“Hey.” Poe gave him a tired nod in return, continuing into another set of sit-ups.
“How are you doing kid?”
There was no response as he huffed out the last few reps, before lying back on the mats. He stared up at the rough rock ceiling, arms still crossed over his chest.
“Pretty standard,” Poe shrugged, fully expecting and receiving a raised brow from L’ulo.
“I know you’re a big shot these days, but it's okay. If you’re upset. At least around me.”
Poe looked up at him, same dark eyes as the stubborn, reckless boy he had helped raise up.
“Can’t be upset over something that never existed.”
L’ulo just shifted his weight to cross his foot over the other.
“I saw him out on the deck last night. He seems pretty sorry.”
Poe seemed to process this for a bit, mouth twisting as he chewed the thought over.
“I should just leave him alone. It’s better.” He eventually said.
“You should let him talk to you.” L’ulo returned.
Poe stood up and grabbed a towel, scrubbing his face.
“I have. I’ve been friendly. “
“Try it without hiding behind that charming Dameron Mask thing you and your father both have. Your mother hated when Kes pulled that on her.”
“I’d kinda rather not.” Poe murmured.
L’ulo wrapped an arm around Poe, tugging him into his shoulder. Despite the sweat. Despite the fact he had been able to look L’ulo levelly in the eyes fifteen years since.
“Up to you Beyon.”
“Mmmhmm.” L’ulo tugged Poe against his side again for a moment before releasing him and pushing him towards the mat again.
“You Damerons are all the same. “ He teased, trying to lighten the room. “Can’t help yourself for getting in your own way.”
L’ulo reached across the table to grab the data chip with the personnel reports on them, slipping it into his pad. Leia glanced up at him from her own reading.
“How is he?” They had sat in silence for an hour, but he knew exactly who she was referring to.
“He’s his parents’ son.” L’ulo replied. “He’ll do what he wants, no matter what anyone else says.”
Leia acknowledged this readily.
“When Shara told me they were pregnant...” Leia shook her head slightly, sharing a bemused look with him. “I always knew that their kid was going to cause trouble wherever he ended up. Not sure I ever fully anticipated Poe though.”
“He has a special talent for it.”
“He has a good heart though.” Leia sighed, her eyes softening, glossing slightly.
“Poe’s his parents’ son.”
This shook another smile out of her.
“That he is.”
Poe was closed up in his quarters, absently rewatching the few holos he had received from his father over the past few years.
“Orchard’s doing well. We’ve had some green-edge losses, but nothing major.” Poe watched his father’s forehead wrinkle in thought. “Nights are getting a bit cooler. I know this probably isn’t exciting as your days, but its-”
There was a knock and Poe tapped to pause the holopad.
“Yeah?” The door slid back and Finn’s tall form leaned in, arms spread across the doorframe, He let his body hang just outside the room, not wanting to enter presumptively.
“Hey. Sorry to interrupt you. I...Are you busy?” He looked apprehensive, his eyes scanning and observing like Poe was a potential threat. Poe folded his legs and pushed himself back, leaning up against the wall his bed was set against. His face had fallen into a slight frown at the knock and he wondered if the lines of his forehead were the same ones as his father’s recorded face a moment ago.
“Nah, not really.” He finally said quietly. “Come on in.” Finn slipped inside. He pressed the door latch to close it, more tentative and cautious that he had been since the first time he had seen the unfamiliar resistance quarters.
“What were you doing?” He nodded toward the hovering blue blur rising from Poe’s holopad.
“Oh, just, my dad’s last message. I was..he said something about- and I was trying to remember what it…”
Finn’s hands dropped to rest behind his back and he made a noise in his throat that made Poe stop speaking. A short abortive clearing that made Poe flip the holopad over and move it to the lid of his footlocker, before returning to sit, legs crossed, hands resting on his knees as Finn took a step forward, his hands dropping to his sides. He seemed to steel himself for a moment before his speech came rushing out.
“I’ve been a jerk. I’m still not great at being…friends. Or having people around me that haven’t been ordered to be there. And I don’t want it to sound like an excuse. ‘Cause I am sorry. Really sorry that I was a jerk. And you’ve taken your time to help me. You didn’t have to. I….I get that.”
Finn waited, watching, unsure but patient.
“I should have checked in with you.” Poe finally voiced. “Once you got your feet on the ground, I should have given you the chance to say you were good. That you could handle everything without me always hanging around” Poe sounded firm, but he looked unsure, and his gaze was still angled slightly away from Finn.
“Yeah, well when I get to that point we can have that talk.” Finn retorted, shaking his head. “To be honest, the degree to which I have no idea what I’m doing should really be a lot more concerning to a lot more people than it is.”
“You’re doing fine Finn.” Poe rebuked him. It was quiet for a moment, the space between them shifting slowly in tone and temperature. Poe’s face changed, relaxing around the mouth and at the lines in the corner of his eyes. He shifted slightly, finally catching Finn’s stare. His hands lifted a little towards the space between them when he spoke.
“I don’t want to crowd you buddy.”
Finn felt his diaphragm compress reflexively, squeezing his chest tight at the word.
“You aren’t. You don’t.” Finn reached out for a moment, before drawing back to scratch at his temple. “I’m sorry. Everything was going wrong that morning, and I took it out on you, and I shouldn’t have. And I should have apologized sooner.” Finn’s thumb kneaded hard at his opposite palm for a moment as he tried to figure out how to tell Poe what he wanted him to know for sure.
“I do like having someone around. And not just someone. I like having you.” Finn shook his pointed finger at Poe’s chest before letting his hand fall back to his side.
The flat of Poe’s fingers pushed across the corner of his mouth, redirecting the exhalation from his nose. His head dipped in an almost unconscious nod. A sort of short, abrupt hum tried to make its way out of Poe’s throat without any great success.
Finn took a cautious half step in, measuring the reception.
When Poe stood up slowly, unfolding his legs and arms from the tightly closed stance he had taken for the last week, Finn moved further and wrapped his arms around him, enclosing Poe’s shoulders in their circle.
Letting out his breath slowly, Poe let his arm hook up underneath, wrapping a hand over the point of Finn’s right shoulder. He caught a few fingers of his other hand in the pocket of Finn’s jacket.
“I’m sorry.” Finn said again, breathing it into Poe’s collar.
“I know buddy.” Finn gave him a squeeze and pulled back, his eyes dark and nervous as he looked at his friend.
“Can we maybe go have a drink then? My treat?”
“I think that might work in my schedule.”
Finn only smiled a little at the teasing remark, but he still glanced nervously over at Poe as they moved towards the door.
“Thank you.” He mumbled.
Poe just grinned softly and bumped him with his elbow as he passed by him through the doorway first.
“Not even you?” Finn teased back, his tone cautious. Poe finally laughed and looked to Finn with a spark of warmth and pleasure.
“Well, nobody else.”
Chapter 8: Dubdov
Dubdov- n. Sullustian word for 'little one'
(Edited two months ago by NNunb0097)
“Hi,” Finn looked up from his reading and smiled at Karé.
“Hey Kar. I thought you were flying out?” He shifted over, leaving room for her to sit. Karé just planted her feet on the spot and perched on the arm.
“So about that.” He frowned.
“Everything okay?” Finn was fairly in tune with the squadron, immersed in its circuitry of teasing and annoyances and tiddling gossip. But he sometimes missed out on the latest developments, the conversations and deliberations that ran over comms lines or across the flight deck.
“Yeah. Nothing wrong.” She was quick to ease him. Her hand squeezed his shoulder and she leaned in. “But can you keep a secret? And can I ask you a favour?”
“Well that’s slightly concerning.” Finn shot back, but still nodded in acquiescence.
Karé grinned and grabbed Finn’s hand in her own, pulling him up and out of the lounge.
Finn was fond of Karé. She was softer voiced, more settled than the other pilots, but with a deep, unquenchable spark.
And she liked holding hands.
She had been the fourth person on base he’d held hands with, after Rey and Poe, and the medic testing his grip strength after he woke up.
Jess had been teasing him at the mess table, noticing how he fiddled his hands and fingers together, still getting used to not wearing gloves all the time, to the feeling of dirt and grit always under his fingernails.
Finn had still been unsure of his place then, unsure about doing things wrong, or weirdly. He had apologized quickly and planted his palms flat on the bench.
Ducking his chin, he didn’t see Jess’s face drop, her mouth start and stop around an apology. Instead, he saw a hand reach over and pry up his grip. The small fingers stretched over the back of his hand, wrapping the tips around to his palm.
Finn glanced sideways, seeing the bright, clipped hair and friendly smile.
“She’s one to talk. Sometimes she bites her nails so far she almost takes off a joint.” Karé had murmured. Finn had turned his hand over and squeezed her fingers in appreciation.
Her hands reminded him of Rey’s, smaller and nimble, a bit rough along the joins of her fingers and palm.
Jess had pushed her dish of sucrogel across the table later as a peace offering and Finn had yanked it towards his own plate with a grin.
Since then Karé had made it a habit to grab Finn’s fingers, tugging his arm along when they trooped away from meals, full up and rowdy, or when Finn trailed slightly behind, unsure for the first few months whether he was invited along for twilight drinks on the edge of the hanger.
Now, she pulled him along the halls to her own quarters. She had a plate magnoed to the door with “Kun” and an etching of an unfamiliar constellation.
“Come in quick.” Karé stood close, crowding through the door and slapping it shut.
“Uh,” Finn was a bit confused, but stood alertly, glancing around like there should be something obvious waiting in the room. Karé moved to the far corner of the room and popped open a cabinet door, decorated with cut-outs in the same shape as the constellation on the door plate. A fold of cloth slipped out onto the floor and Karé gently snapped her fingers in a quick sequence.
“C’mere Dova. Come on out. I know, you’re sleeping.”
“Who are you talking to?” Finn wasn’t scared. No, maybe just wary.
“This...is the secret.” Her arms disappeared into the cabinet and returned with a lumpy sweater-like object that quickly fell to the floor. And shook itself out.
“What is that!” Finn pulled back and flattened against the door. Karé laughed.
“This is Dubdov! I know we aren’t supposed to, but I found him, with his little leg injured, at a market on Gamin Alpha. No one was taking care of him, no one cared, so I kind of….stole him. And snuck him back to base.” Karé crouched, crooking her finger at the creature. “Eh Dova?”
“Okay, but what is it?” Finn gestured in tentative jerky movements as the furred quadraped brushed past Karé and moved slowly towards him.
“It’s an animal.” Karé knew this wouldn’t be helpful, but was a little amused at Finn’s clear confusion.
“Yep. Got that. Why is this indoors?” Finn looked at her incredulously.
“It’s okay, he’s perfectly harmless.” Karé smiled, crouching down to rub a knuckle along the creature’s ear.”
“But why is there an animal in your quarters! Are there more?” Karé laughed, moving over beside him and laying a soothing palm on his forearm.
“No, it’s just the one. Um, so sometimes, not here really, its not officially allowed, but sometimes people have tame animals? That live with them?”
“Why, exactly?” Finn’s tone had settled slightly, hovering between alarmed and curious. Karé slid down the wall to sit cross-legged on the floor, patting the space beside her to beckon him down as well.
“Lots of reasons. Company. It’s nice to have another little life sharing the space.”
He lowered cautiously and the little creature moved towards him. In a quick patter, two pawed feet climbed up onto his knee, dark, limpid eyes peering at him.
“Oh. Hi…” Poe breathed out slowly, stretching out his fingers. The nostrils on the little black nose flared and there was a slight jump back before it advanced.
“There you go, Dubs. See? Finn’s a friend.” The creature craned forward to sniff Finn’s hand. There was a pause, before a liquid little trill came out of it and the smooth rub of its muzzle ran against his hand.
“Kinda like BB. But….soft. And less aggressive.”
Karé snorted a laugh.
“What is it?” Finn questioned, his hand tilting inquisitively as the little thing lifted another paw, pulling itself up onto his knee.
“He’s a Jax. They eat plants mostly. Wild ones are all white, but domesticated ones like this guy are in all sorts of colours.”
“He’s pretty.” Finn murmured, letting a finger stroke softly over the sandy coloured fur.
“And he knows it.” Karé touched lightly to the tip of its tail. “I almost named him after Poe because of it.”
Finn’s eyes joined hers, bright and bashful.
“Yeah, that would make sense.”
The feline carefully picked its way down Finn’s calf and curled itself into the well of his lap.
“I think he likes you.” Karé murmured.
“Yeah?” Finn’s eyes flicked up quickly, before catching back on the circled body across his legs. “Um, I guess so. What was his name?”
“Dubdov. Or Dubdub. Or bantha breath sometimes if he’s being a jerk.” Karé climbed back to her feet and moved over to the door that hid Dubdov’s cubby.
“He sleeps in here most of the day. Usually Mo or Snap will look after him if I’m on mission, but they both got called up for an extended survey, so I thought I’d see if you could maybe check on him while I’m gone. Just drop by in the evenings?”
“Oh.” Finn looked down in surprise. “I dunno if that’s a good idea.”
“It’s really easy, I promise. Just make sure his water is fresh, and his grass is getting sun.” She points at a little metal bowl in the corner and a flat planter half hidden on the window sill. “And make sure that the drain cover is propped securely.” She shifted a hamper to show the well -propped gate to a tunnel behind it.
“It’s just a run-off network for the base. Goes straight to the kitchen garden. He’ll take himself out for walks and stuff there. They like to spoil him. Think he’s a stray I guess.”
“Okay.” Finn clumsily picked the little jax up around the middle, shifting to his knees and up to his feet. “Is there anyone else that knows? In case I need help?” He tried to gently manipulate the animal into a comfortable position. He ended up cradled against Finn’s chest, belly-up with his front paws dangling loosely. A yawn exposed small sharp teeth, and dropped its eyelids drowsily.
“He likes a snug.” Karé smiled as Finn petted gently at the soft fur of Dubdov’s tummy. “You can hang out for a while when you come by too. Or play with him. He fetches or chases things if he’s in the mood. And Tymn Lassitar knows about him. She was still my roommate when I first got him, before we had finished prepping up all the new quarters. She runs the night shift hydro monitoring though, so she can’t check in during the evenings.”
“I guess I can give it a try.” Finn agreed. He looked up at Karé and she smiled, carefully trading off Dubdov for a copy of her roompass.
“Great. Thanks Finn. I guess Poe’s right, you’re a lifesaver.”
“Karé…” Finn groaned slightly as he opened the door.
Her laugh followed him out into the hall.
Karé had been gone for four days, and Finn had been able to schedule his visits around training and work shifts so that he didn’t appear to be changing his routines. But today he was working with Rose and Ju’dar, fixing some fuses for the airbay doors before the rainy season started. And Poe was there.
He wandered over late in the afternoon and grinned at the three of them, staring into a nest of wiring and fuses and switches in the wall.
“Getting anywhere with the doors?”
“No.” Rose and Ju’dar both replied immediately. Finn just shrugged.
“I’m mostly here to hold the light.” He vaguely wobbled the handlight that was illuminating the fuse box before Rose grabbed his wrist and held it steady.
“So at least keep it still?” She was sharp, but there was still the usual undercurrent of teasing. Rose was a bit intense.
“I should let you guys focus.” Poe whispered, catching Finn’s dramatic eye roll and exhaling subtley in amusement. “You guys wanna grab dinner in an hour before the planning report meeting?”
Finn looked like he was about to respond, but Rose beat him to it.
“Yeah! Sounds great Poe.” She shot him a quick smile. Poe just raised his eyebrows at Finn, and turned his grin into a whistle as he headed back to the maintenance floor and Black One.
They were walking towards the mess, passing the branch-off towards Karé’s room when Finn clicked his tongue against his teeth. Planning report meetings could go on for hours, and he had visited Dubdov early yesterday. He didn’t want the little guy to run out of water.
“Hey, I um.” Finn turned and started walking backwards towards the hall. “I just remembered I have to run a quick errand.” Poe, Rose and Ju’dar stopped and looked back at him. “ I promised Karé I would...water her plants. While she was on mission. It’ll just take a second.” It wasn’t a complete lie.
“Did you want us to wait?” Ju’dar asked, but Finn shook his head.
“Nah, I’ll be right back. You guys go ahead.” Finn waved them off and started walking.
Poe looked at the other two and shrugged. “I’m gonna tag along. Grab us a table, yeah?”
Finn cursed internally as Poe jogged up alongside him. He tried to dissuade him.
“Really though, you should go ahead to the mess. It’s nothing interesting.”
“Nah, I always wanted to see Karé’s plant.” Poe insisted, leading along the familiar way.
“It’s really nothing special. Honestly.” Finn tried again, at least hoping he could keep Poe out of the room.
“I dunno. I heard it’s pretty cute.” Poe quirked a look at Finn, coming to rest beside the doorway with the constellation.
“I guess. For a plant.” Finn mumbled. He swiped the pass card and looked back at Poe. His smile was casual and expectant. Finn looked from him to the door, and back, clearly conflicted.
“Look, I can’t tell you why, but you can’t come in. I promise it's nothing bad, just I told Karé-”
Poe reached out one hand to place it on Finn’s arm, and hovered the other over the door release.
“Finn. It’s good. I know Karé has a pet jax.”
“Wha-How do you know?” Finn hissed, glancing around for eavesdroppers.
Poe’s smile was warm and he slid his palm up Finn’s arm and gripped his shoulder, rubbing it gently.
“Buddy, everyone knows. I’m pretty sure the only people who don’t know that everyone knows are you and Kun. And now just Karé.” Finn let out a grunt of frustration and pushed Poe’s other hand away to slap at the door release.
“Well, might as well come meet him then.” Finn let Poe slide through before quickly closing the door behind him.
Finn had coaxed the jax out of his cubby with a few of the juicier shoots of the window sill grass and let him down next to a crouched Poe. Poe had scratched Dubdov’s head for a moment before resting back against the wall and watching Finn and the jax putter around the room.
“And then he apparently goes out to the kitchen garden through this vent.” Finn added to his narration of his tasks and his knowledge of the animal and its habits.
“Yeah. I mentioned to Rose not to grate up the other end. Mess staff like to have him visiting during the day.” Finn dropped his hands in frustration.
“Oh come on, even Rose knew?”
Poe didn’t even nod, just twisted his smile into something even more amused and indulgent.
“Yeah. Sorry. Kun’s about as good at secrets as I am at lying.”
“That bad?” Finn retorted, sliding down next to Poe.
“Yeah, that bad.” Poe parroted back, leaning out to wiggle a finger at the jax, who canted forward in interest. He pulled a spare instrument gasket out of his pocket and flung it across the room. Dubdov shot across the space and was quickly trotting back with it hanging from his mouth.
“Good jax!” Poe flung it again and looked at Finn. “She was absolutely furious about it at the market, and then came back with an extra life signal in her x-wing. Tried to insist her support systems were glitching. And then the next day started a very casual conversation on what everyone would name a pet if we were allowed one.”
Finn looked at him in mild disbelief.
Poe nodded, playing a little game of tug with the jax.
“Do you know what his name means?” Finn shook his head “It was Nien Nunb’s suggestion during the conversation. He told her it meant ‘little one’ in Sullustian.”
“And it actually means?”
“‘Dub’ means not and 'dov'….means “secret’.”
“She liked the sound of it though, so…” Poe shrugged, passing the gasket to Finn.
“Okay. It is kinda cute though.” Finn admitted, dangling the ring over the jax’s outstretched, grasping paws.
“The name or him?” Poe’s head cocked to one side, watching the little jumps and swipes, but shooting a glance over at Finn as well.
“Both.” Finn’s voice was decisive. “He’s….something different.There’s not a lot of soft things in the Order.” Finn snapped the little stretchy band, amused by the running pounce Dubdov took to capture it. The jax rolled onto his back, kicking ferociously as he held it in place with his front paws. “Have you had any tame animals?”
Poe looked thoughtful.
“Pets? No, not really. We had livestock. And I had a couple Endorran chickens when I was a kid.”
“Chickens? Like the food?” Finn grinned, dragging the band in circles on the floor now that Dubdov had brought it back.
“They were hens, so we just ate the eggs.” Poe rebuked, looking deeply offended. “I’ll have you know they are great pets. They used to run out to meet me every afternoon when I got back from academy.”
Finn couldn’t help it. He let out a bark of laughter at the image of a tiny Poe being mobbed by a herd of roasted birds, running on their drumsticks. Poe rocked nearer, knocking his fist against Finn’s arm in retaliation.
“I loved those chickens, alright?” Finn nodded, but couldn’t hide his smile. Poe slowly joined him.
“It was nice of you to take care of him. For Karé.” Poe glanced up at Finn, who shrugged.
“I was surprised she asked. No one’s ever asked me to keep something alive.”
It was suddenly quiet in the room, except for the soft rasp of Dubdov calmly grooming the length of his tail.
Finn scratched at his shoulder, not catching Poe’s eyes.
“Sorry. I guess that was a bit…”
“Nah, nah, buddy.” Poe rubbed his hand over Finn’s wrist. “I get it.”
Finn stared at the little creature for a moment before turning back to him
“Does the General know about him?” Poe felt the laugh swell out of his chest and knocked his head gently against Finn’s.
“Yeah buddy. She knows.”
Chapter 9: Offbase
Offbase- n. Informal bar or cantina, usually used as a non-com gathering place.
Finn could hear his comm buzz in his jacket pocket across the room and gestured at it.
“Can you toss it over?” Poe tilted his chair back precariously on two legs and reached over his head to grab it off the hook. He landed back on all four with a slight screech against the stone floor and used the momentum to huck the coat across to Finn.
Finn snorted at his pleased face and dug into the pocket, opening the comm channel as soon as he could get a grip on it.
“Hey, yeah?” A blurry image appeared, but the voice was more familiar.
“Yeah, hey Tee. What’s going on?”
“Any chance you know where Commander Dameron is? I’m at the offbase, and one of his is here, a little worse for wear.”
“Yeah, yeah, he’s right here-” Finn climbed off the bed he had spread out some work on and passed the comm to Poe.
“Hey Tee.” Poe frowned into the screen.
“Why didn’t anyone try me direct?”
“The ‘tender did. Couldn’t get through.” Poe scrunched his face in consternation.
“Right. I turned off non essential notifications for flight tests today. Didn’t turn it back on I guess.” He gestured to Finn with his chin towards his kit bag by the door. Finn searched through a couple of pockets before he found Poe’s comm. He showed it, the bright red message beacon blinking, to Poe. He cringed at his own forgetfulness.
“I figured the next best option was to try and get Finn. You two are usually within shouting distance when you’re at base, so.” Finn shot Poe a bemused look, but only got a shrug in return.
“Effective strategy apparently. So who needs the rescue mission? Please don’t tell me there was a fight….” Poe hated having to discipline his pilots. They needed everyone ready and on point. And it was awkward to have to scold friends. Or his uncle.
“Uh, Pilot Jessika Pava. Apparently she came in by herself a couple hours ago?”
“Jess?” Finn was nearly as surprised as Poe’s face looked. It wasn’t like Jess didn’t drink or let loose. But she usually kept it casual, or joined a night with the rest of the crew.
He was more alarmed when Poe’s face suddenly dropped, like a cold downpour had hit him.
“Shit. Shit shit shi- sorry! Sorry Tee! Not you. I just…Thanks for letting me know. Be there soon. Thanks.” Poe was suddenly on his feet, digging his toes into his boots, snapping the comm closed.
“What. What’s wrong?” Finn was up as well, ready and wary to act.
“I forgot. I forgot the shitting anniversary.” Poe hovered back and forth between the fresher and his desk for a moment before grabbing his canteen and stuffing a scarf into his back pocket. “Can you come give me a hand?”
Finn was already kicking his own boots into the open and slipping into them, reaching for his jacket as Poe headed to the door.
“Yeah, of course. Is Jess okay?” Poe broke into a quick walk, occasionally into a jog as they found their way out of the base. They headed down the short path from the clearing that lead to a sheltered cavern. It had been adapted into a cantina for base members, an option aside from the mess or the smallish officer's lounge.
“She’ll be fine. She’ll be a mess. But she’ll be fine.” Poe insisted, several times, even when Finn didn’t ask.
“What’s the anniversary?”
The response wasn't very illuminating.
“I always try to make sure she isn’t alone, take her mind off of it, but… shit, I can’t believe I forgot.” Finn was still very much confused as they entered into the glow of the cantina. Poe stopped suddenly, scanning the crowd, and he barely managed to step away from colliding.
“Finn!” They both looked over to the voice, and saw Tee, standing off to the side and pointing at the back corner, where the space was still warm but the light was weaker. Finn flashed him a thumbs up and followed Poe, who was already cutting through the tables and resistance members.
Finn craned to see where Poe had stopped, by a small table tucked into a cary in the cavern wall.
Jess’ head laid heavily on her arms, crossed on the surface of the table.POe was dropped down, sitting back on his heels and pushing away the dark strands of hair hiding her face.
When the light crossed it Finn could see that her face was an unfamiliar red- not the colour she wore from exercise or excitement or even alcohol. Blotchy. Almost swollen. Poe’s thumb reached across her cheek and gently pulled the moisture away from her skin.
“I’m sorry Pav.”
Finn frowned at the gentleness in his voice. He hovered back, letting Poe deal with something he clearly knew much more about.
Jess rubbed her face against her arm, pulling in a wet, abrupt sniff.
“S’not your fault. I thought I was fine, really, and Lutho asked if I wanted to grab a drink before she headed off. And I thought it would be okay?” Poe stroked gently along Jess’ hairline, pushing back from her temple and letting his stubbed nails comb against her scalp. “But as soon as she left, I just thought, one more you know? Everything’s actually okay. And then it was two more, and then…” Jess’ voice was garbled, rough and pitchy all at the same time
“Sad Jess?” Finn could see Poe modelling a sad, small grin, hoping to pull the same reaction out of his friend. There was a tiny quirk at the corner of her lips, and he would take that.
“Yeah. Sad sloppy Jess.” She took a deep breath, needing a couple of hitches to fill her lungs and breathe out through pursed lips. “M’sorry boss. You’ve got enough without worryin’ about stupid Pava problems.”
“It’s not stupid Jessie. And I should have been here.”
“Don’t call me Jessie.” Poe just petted through her hair for a moment more, ignoring her retort.
“Do you wanna head back to base?” He murmured, and when she nodded into the crook of her arm, Poe pressed a kiss to her temple. “Okay Pavs.”
“You strong enough to carry me back yourself?” Jess mumbled, her feet clumsy and loud against the legs of the table as she tried to pull free.
“I may have brought in reinforcements?” Poe whispered against her temple as he wrapped an arm around her waist and ducked to let her hold onto his shoulder. Jess’s eyes just shut for a moment before she looked up and immediately caught sight of Finn. He had hung back to let Poe handle this, but stepped forward now, grabbing Jess’s kit bag and overshirt with a tight smile. He fell into step behind them as they wove back out of the offbase, moving three-abreast once there was space, in case Poe needed help or a break.
“This is so embarrassing.” Jess bemoaned quietly to Poe, kicking his’s ankle as her feet swerved from the straight route. Poe winced, but just rubbed her side as best he could while supporting most of her weight and providing all of their balance.
“It’s fine Pava.” He soothed, but she groaned in protest.
“Finn's gonna think I'm pathetic. I’m supposed to be one of the cool, in control pilots.”
Finn let out a little laugh and tapped her shoulder gently.
“Sorry Jess. Poe already ruined that any chance of that.” Poe glanced over with a thankful expression and played along.
“It’s true. I'm sorry Jess. I betrayed the pilot pact. I told him our secret.”
“-Ich one?” Jess frowned, dragging Poe to a pause and glaring between them. Finn took advantage of the situation to switch with Poe, taking Jess’ weight against his side and passing her belongings behind her back.
“That pilots are all just very well co-ordinated techbos. Nerds and mechheads of the worst kind.”
“Mnot a techbo!” Jess protested.
“You totally are. “ Poe interjected. Jess stumbled forwards again.
“This is the worst night ever. I’m never gonna be able to look either of you in the eye again.” She seemed to immediately embrace her own words, glaring at the ground as they made their way into the clearing.
Finn could hear the creak in her voice that belied the levity of the argument, and lowered his voice to something softer and more confidential.
“Come on Pava. You know you're amazing. And anyways, you’re talking to someone who has run the length of the base, all the way from med bay to flight deck, butt naked except for a leaking bacta suit. I think if we’re gonna battle over embarrassing ourselves I have a clear and significant lead.” He felt her sigh a little, and her head tilted towards him.
Poe tried to stifle his amusement at the memory, though it tempered when he remembered why it happened, and why they were here with Jess. He quickly cleared the door for them as they reached the base, and they made their way to Jess’s quarters.
Inside her room, Jess kicked off her boots haphazardly and crawled into the messy bunk, pulling a lump of blankets around her. Poe poured out his canteen into a cleanish cup on the bedside cubby, and dimmed the lights. He found Jess's canteen and placed it beside the bed as well, along with a basin.
Finn found himself tidying away, putting her boots by the door, and gently tugging the blankets to cover her toes and back.
“Thanks Finn.” Her mouth pursed and she reached out to squeeze Finn’s fingers in hers, looking from his face to Poe’s. Poe had just shaken out a few tablets from a little screwtop bottle and passed them to her. They went down with a mouthful of water and Jess slumped into herself, tugging the blanket between her arms, clasping tightly.
She bit her lip and her eyes were suddenly glossy and strained when she looked up at them.
“Can...could you stay?”
Finn’s own throat ached at the hesitance in her voice, the reluctant need seeping out around her usual fortifications of strength.
“Yeah, of course.” Poe said easily, glancing at Finn. He just nodded along, slipping off his shoes, and shrugging out of his jacket. "Get some rest. We'll be here when you wake up."
Jess nodded, watching absently as Poe grabbed a few spare ground mats from her trunk, and arranged them beside the bed. Finn bundled up his jacket under his head and laid on his back, arms crossed on his chest, head tilted to watch Jess.
A few wet tracks appeared on her face, but she didn’t bother swiping them away.
Poe leaned against the side of the bed, near to her face and reached up, grasping Jess' hand in his own.
"Get some rest" He murmured. His other hand turned off the lights fully, leaving them in the weird silver casts of the moonlight.
The morning light had replaced the silver tones when Jess woke up. She could see the top of Poe's head at the edge of her mattress and reached out to tap it gently with a finger.
"Mmmm?" Poe shifted and turned, waking slowly. His dark eyes peered over the edge.
"Bathroom. Don't wanna step on you." He nodded, swinging his legs out of the way as she clambered off the bed towards the fresher. Poe stretched out the uncomfortable night's sleep through his back and legs. He took the chance to prod at Finn's side with his toes.
"Mornin' starshine." He grumbled as Finn blinked awake, turning on his side on the thin mat.
"Jess okay?" He frowned at the empty bed, but his brow smoothed as he heard the running of water in the fresher pipes.
"Awake and alive. It's a good start." Poe stood, both knees popping. Finn snorted at him as he rolled up and transitioned easily to his feet.
"Shut up." Poe shot back, climbing onto the bunk and sitting back against the way, tucking one of Jess's pillows behind his back. "They've always done that."
"Sure." Finn placated him. He wandered over and flopped hard onto the bed as well.
The both looked up as Jess emerged from the fresher, hands over her head as she pulled her hair into an uneven tail.
She tried for amused, but just managed tired, and she slid down among the blankets as well. The bed creaked slightly under them.
They were silent together for a moment. Limbs shifted. Jess's head found a place against Poe's leg, and Finn patted his own lap to let Jess's calves rest on top.
“I hate crying.” Jess finally declared.
"Me too." Poe echoed. They both nodded firmly, looking like the whole concept of crying had gravely insulted their families at some past point.
“Really?” Finn frowned at her and Poe just rolled his eyes.
“Don’t encourage him. He loves a good cry.” Poe groaned.
“Seriously?" Jess looked skeptical and judgemental, but it was a step away from sad or angry, so Finn just nodded and Poe started spinning his story.
“Yeah. There was like a week, after he got out of the med bay, when he was in a bunk in mine, just in case he needed help getting around. Every evening after I went to get cha, or had a meeting, the lights would be off when I got in. His holopad was always face down on the bed. And he would be pretending to sleep. And our towels were coming back from the laundry every other day. I was convinced he was going through some sort of stormtrooper delayed puberty or something, and I finally decided I had to say something. So the next time I came in I turned the lights up full, marched over to the bed, flipped the holopad over, and Finn’s eyes shot open-”
“You definitely could have handled it better.” Finn retorted, but Poe waved him off.
“Anyways- turns out that for the whole week Finn had spent all his free time watching a bunch of bad old holovids and having a good cry. For hours and hours.”
“Seriously?” Jess looked almost amused now. But still very judgemental.
“It was emotional and cultural training okay?” Finn protested, pointing indignantly at the both of them, but still breaking into a smile. “Plus they had been doing some electroprobe work to check on my spinal adaptations and movement centres before my release, and they may have accidentally temporarily overstimmed my emotional cortex.”
“It was like living with a pregnant herlop for a week.” Poe grimaced. “His eyes were always red, and he went through all the towels, and a bunch of my shirts mopping it all up.”
“Second most dehydrated I’ve ever been, next to crawling out of a Jakku desert.” Finn nodded, feeling pleased as Jess broke a small grin.
“And since then?”
“Sometimes I....indulge.” Finn admitted, shrugging. “I feel….better afterwards. It’s weird, but it’s kind of liberating after year and years of compression to just….let it out. But mostly it’s still just when I watch bad holovids.”
“He has the worst taste.” Poe interjected. “Like a lovelorn junior cadet.”
“You still watch them too.” Finn shot back.
Jess let a little laughing hiccup out, and wrapped her arms around herself.
She missed these little moments. The little tiffs and piques and jokes. The insignificant things that no one else remembered or even knew about.
Poe saw the gloss rising in her eyes and urged her to sit up next to him, pulling her head onto his shoulder. He stroked her hair, smiling sadly at Finn, who slipped to kneel on the mat in front of them, looking into the bedside cubbyholes.
“I just miss her.” Jess finally spoke. “When do I get to stop missing her so much?”
Poe rested his chin on her hair.
“You don’t. I’m sorry Pav. It doesn’t go away.”
“It hurts.” Jess’s voice was small and broken, and all Finn could think to do was to pause and give her ankle a quick squeeze.
“Why don’t we just watch a holovid for a while. It might be a good distraction.” He offered, pulling out Jess's datapad from the bottom shelf of the cubby. She nodded a little.
“I’d like that.”
“It’s a good idea.” Poe agreed. “As long as it isn’t Finn’s choice.”
Jess snuffed out a laugh and burrowed into Poe, curling up small as Finn set up the datapad's voice command and leaned it to project against the wall. He climbed onto the bed, lifting Jess’s feet back into his lap. She pressed a heel down to catch his attention and gave him a grateful nod.
"Any preferences Jess?" Poe prompted.
“ In Galactia Proxima was her favorite. Let’s watch that.”
Chapter 10: Solder-bot
Solder-bot- n. Electrical engineer, especially one who likes being elbow deep in a nest of wires.
Rose and Finn were having breakfast outside, taking advantage of the unusual twinned rise of the moons, pale in the light blue of the morning. Their perch was on the catwalk around the water tower, up near the very top of the tree canopy.
They were sharing a canteen of hot caf and portion bread, dipped in a mash of sweet fruit. Their legs hung under the railings to swing in the cool air.
“Did you ever even let yourself imagine you’d get to see all the worlds we’ve seen?” Rose smiled and rested her chin on her arms, looking between the bars.
“Not with bare eyes.” Finn admitted. Rose hummed a little, tipping her head to invite more from him.
Finn just shrugged back, wrapping one of his hands over hers and giving it a squeeze.
“The thing for me is wondering if I’m ever going to have any actual favorites. You know? Each time I think I’ve had the best drink, or food, or seen the best holo, it seems like something even better appears. Is there anything that I will finally be able to say - this. THIS one is the best, no question.” Finn extrapolated wildly, making Rose laugh and roll her eyes at him.
“The galaxy is full of amazing things, but I think you’ve already established a few things that won’t be overtaken anytime soon. Speaking of.”
Finn furrowed his brow and followed her eye-line to the ground. Dark hair, pale shirt with the sleeves rolled up, Finn instantly knew it was Poe standing at the edge of the flight deck.
“Morning Commander!” Rose yelled, kneeling up to wave towards him. Finn looked to the shape of Poe, who waved in return before ducking into the shaded deck.
“Hey- Speaking of what?” Finn pressed his knuckles onto Rose’s side. Rose reached over and patted Finn’s shoulder, letting her hand rest warmly for a moment.
“Oh come on Finn. I think we both know that no one is ever going to overtake the place you’ve given him.”
“What?” Finn shifted his weight slightly, wary, guarded against even her friendship.
“We can keep pretending otherwise, but we both know how it is. Rey may be your best and favorite friend, but Poe?” Rose just made a soft noise and shrugged at him. “I think he’ll always be your heart’s first and most favorite.”
Finn scoffed, looking at her like that was the most ridiculous suggestion he’d ever heard.
“What, you don’t think I’d do something stupid like fall for Poe Dameron, right?”
Rose just rocked sideways, gently nudging him with her shoulder. She dropped her hand to Finn’s arm, glad to look him straight in the eye for once.
“Finn, I think that is exactly the kind of stupid thing you would do.”
Finn’s mouth dipped open for a moment, but Rose just leaned in and pressed a warm kiss to his forehead.
“I’m going to go help Ju’dar with the charge port at 4-B, but I’ll see you tonight okay? Connix signed us both up to help with the holo screening.”
Finn just nodded in response, letting Rose climb to her feet and move around the tower to the ladder. Metallic footfalls descended quickly towards the ground.
Finn gripped at his knees for a few moments, and just sat, trying to pull together his thoughts.
The sun was already dropping into view from his spot at the back of the bay, finishing the maintenance checks on the shielding mechanisms when the whir of metal raised his head.
Finn waved a couple fingers at BB-8, who was rolling towards him, letting out a short trill.
Finn paused, not entirely sure what the droid was trying to communicate. He looked up instinctively to try and find his corresponding human.
“That’s ‘wanna come help’ in BBese.” Poe provided at a shout, looking up from the repair cart down-deck from them. He winked at the bot, who quickly whirled his head in a circle of disagreement.
“And the actual translation?” Finn countered as the trill became more forceful. Poe’s tongue clicked against the roof of his mouth.
“More like ‘Get your lazy ass up, bucket of bolts?”
“Wow. Thanks Beeb.” Finn shook his head, but rose to his feet, his hands jamming into his pockets.
“You need a hand?” He called, following the rolling droid towards his friend.
“Yeah, come on.” Poe waved him close, walking towards Black-One. Finn reached out to run his palm admiringly over the dark underside of the wing as he passed underneath it. Poe’s smile was indulgent where it might have been irritated. “It’s only some softgear work, replacing a piece of the harness hardwear, but I could use an actual hand for this one.”
He made a pincer gesture and grimaced, which apparently didn’t win him BB-8 current affections. There was a stream of sharp, quick noises from the droid and Poe shot him a look.
There was a mocking whistle tone before BB-8 rolled his way down towards the opposite wing and plugged in to the diagnostics port. Finn pulled over an extra cockpit ladder so he could climb up next to Poe’s.
“Ignore him. He apparently just wants to sulk and unnecessarily rerun tests we already did!” Poe’s voice rose up at the end, pointedly yelling towards the droid.
His still grinned though as BB-8 spun to face obstinately in the other direction.
Finn looked up from tightening the bolt securing the harness ring to the back of the flight seat.
“What? I do it wrong?” He quickly ran a hand along the belting to see if he had twisted it during the installation.
“No, no, that’s real good.” Poe waved him away, giving a sharp tug at the buckles and nodding when it didn’t give. “Perfect. It’s just…” Poe looked up over Finn’s shoulder and a sympathetic twist appeared across his mouth. “It looks like that solder-bot’s trying to steal your girl.” He shot a glance at Rose and Ju’dar, talking animatedly over the charge port on the other side of the repair bay.
“What?” Finn cocked his head, confused, and followed the jutting gesture of Poe’s chin. “Who, Rose?”
Poe nodded, looking at Finn like he was an idiot.
“Yeah, Rose. What, you got too many on the go to keep track or something?”
“No!” Finn crossed his arms over his chest, feeling defensive. “I don’t have....people...on the go!”
“So it is just Rose.” Poe teased, winding the leftover belting into a loop around his hand.
“So which is it?” Poe continued, looking way too pleased at how riled up Finn was getting.
“I’m not doing anything with anyone. Kriff, Poe.” Finn shot back. He clomped down the ladder and wiped his hands harshly against his shirt. Rose and Ju’dar looked over at the noise and Poe just shrugged, waiting for their attention to fade, before sliding down the ladder rails and slipping up beside Finn.
“Hey, come on. I’m sorry.” He held his hands out in truce. “I was just trying to tease you kid.”
“Well you’re crap at it.” Finn shot a hard look at him and Poe took a slow breath.
“You’re right. I’m sorry.” Poe murmured, waiting patiently for Finn to eventually turn his body towards him. He looked contrite when he did.
“Look, it’s fine….”
Poe shook his head, waving Finn’s words away.
“Nah, I was being an idiot. I just...you and Rose have been...I saw you guys up on the tower this morning... and I didn’t want you to get hurt, if some other guy-” Poe’s hands stuttered, fingers flexing for a moment before they camped defensively on his belt.
“Poe. There is no me and Rose.” Finn swiped his arms at the idea and looked him straight in the eye. “There is nothing going on between us. We’re just friends.”
“But you said she kissed you? Back on Crait.” Poe frowned, and he poked at Finn’s chest slightly, reminding him. Finn groaned in frustration.
“So I thought you two were together or something. It’s not the craziest conclusion in the galaxy to come to!”
“Well apparently, you do enough dumb things in front of someone and the whole “Resistance Hero” appeal dries up faster than a tauntaun on a lava plain.” Finn returned, tone heavy with exasperation.“Her exact words when I brought the whole kiss thing up after were ‘Sorry. I thought I was dying and it seemed like a good idea at the time.’”
Poe barked out a laugh, before trying to reel his amusement back in under the damper of Finn’s frown. Finn punched at Poe’s arm.
“Shut up. It’s better this way anyways. She’s a good friend...but we had about as much chemistry as a vactubeful of inert gas.” Poe watched Finn’s easy shrug. Watched for any signs of hard feelings running under the surface. “And yes, she’s been spending a lot of time with Ju’dar. He’s the ‘solder-head’ who did the biokine work in her leg after the crash, and they really get along.”
“Ah. So shut down, and then already replaced, hunh?” Poe teased, his tone warmer and his smile more confidential. “I would have thought you’d be the one breaking hearts around here, not Tico.”
“I thought that was your job.” Finn returned glibly, moving away to shift the extra ladder back to the neighbouring pad space.
“Nah, I’m just for show.” Poe grinned, rubbing his hands on a spare rag and finally putting away some of the tools.
“Yeah, I’ve heard a few stories. Resistance posterboy.”
“Don’t even tell me who told you about that. I thought I said never to trust anyone in my squad. They’re all full of Gungan dung.” Poe gripped, annoyed at the gleeful look on Finn’s face.
“I think they’re pretty on target.”
Poe let out a lazy laugh, his gaze wandering out to sky.
“Well, my parents set a real high standard- Alliance heroes that fell in love during battle, survived the war, built a home and all that... Hard act to follow. That….stupid-big love thing, you know?”
“Yeah. Guess so.” Finn bit his lips together, no ideas floating in his head on how he could answer a statement like that properly.
Poe gazed for a moment over at Rose and Ju’dar, heads bent down together over a mess of wires and coupling pieces.
“Well thanks for the hand with the harness. Let’s go grab some chow, yeah? I’m starving.” Poe’s hand reached out to clap Finn on the back, but his fingers found themselves warm over the back of his neck. They rested there momentarily before he turned back to the ship.
“BB-8! Coming?” The droid disengaged from the fighter with a sharp click and zipped over, catching Poe’s heels as he slid between him and Finn.
“Hey!” Poe shot back, stepping quickly after the receding blur of orange and white. Finn rolled his eyes, but jogged to catch up as Poe blustered emptily at the droid, pointing at him in an empty threat as BB-8’s tones turned cajoling. “Don’t bother with the sweet talk now pal. If you think you’re getting extra free roll time tomorrow after this, you are sorely mistaken!”