“You’re going to get off the cruiser, and the humidity is going to smack you in the face,” Poe had warned him. His tone edged on self-deprecating, but the corners of his eyes continued to crease and dance.
“Yeah, yeah,” Finn had said.
When Finn’s boots make contact with damp earth, he wishes he hadn’t been so flippant.
He doesn’t say a word for a long moment; doesn’t breathe, even. Just stands there in wonder of green. He grips the straps of his pack as he attempts to take it all in, knowing his mouth is hanging open but doing nothing about it. It’s green everywhere he looks: under his feet and stretched out in front of him as far as he can see, up into the mountains and all the way down to a large river that flows to the east.
Finn blinks and takes in a long gulp of warm, damp air that doesn’t quite fill up his lungs.
“Warned you, didn’t I?”
When Finn turns to his right, Poe stands beside him, looking up at Finn and giving him what might be a smirk if he weren’t too busy smiling. It’s that same smile that’s made home on his face ever since Finn said, “I’d like to see Yavin IV. If I’d be welcome.”
Poe had blinked fast, but the smile came slow. “Buddy,” he’d replied, “I’m offended that you even had to ask.”
And here they stand, one month away from a year since the war ended. Since the fall of the First Order, Finn and Poe had worked tirelessly to string the galaxy together and form the Resistance into something long-term and stable. To bring Leia’s dream of peace to fruition.
Finn had thought that, once they stopped fighting, they’d have time to rest. That they might properly settle at last, in the way they all deserved. But it didn’t take long to realize that it was just beginning; being a general meant getting more but worse sleep than they did during the war. It meant leaning against Poe and making choices that neither felt qualified to make. It meant missing Leia, every day.
(There were moments that Finn felt like screaming. Because he’s just a stormtrooper; what could he possibly know about peace? But Poe was there, always there, feeling the same. What could a former spice-runner-turned-Republic-defector know about establishing governments or toppling regimes? But they had each other. Somehow, that made all the difference.)
Then there came a point, with the right people in positions and appointments all over the galaxy, that things finally started to come together and make sense like Finn never actually got around to dreaming of. Poe had been wanting to go home for the entirety of that year, but wouldn’t, no matter how many times Finn told him to just go, I can handle this. So, when Poe had sat him down and said, “I think it’s time for me to visit home. I’m afraid it might be now or never,” there was never a question of whether Poe was going to go.
It was simply a matter of Finn plucking up the courage and asking to go along, because Poe had always told him, It’s the most beautiful place in the galaxy and The food is unlike anything you’ve ever had and Everything is just better there! When the war is over, I’ll have to take you.
And, well. Here they stand, elbow to elbow, surrounded by the most fragrant air that Finn has ever encountered. It’s thick, nearly tangible, and something about it makes him want to sink into it.
But not before saying to Poe, “You told me it was going to smack me, not swallow me whole.”
Poe grins. “That’s just part of the charm,” he says, clapping Finn on the shoulder.
Poe had guided the cruiser into a large garage, big enough that it could probably be considered a small hangar, with space for two crafts. He had pulled the cruiser into the left side because the right was occupied by some kind of flyer concealed completely in a giant white tarp. From the shape, Finn guesses it’s an A-wing, but he can’t be sure.
“That yours?” Finn asks, pointing to the amorphous white shape.
Poe has just finished slinging his pack over his shoulders and turns to look in the direction Finn’s finger led. Smiling wistfully, he says, “No,” and leaves it at that.
It’s a short walk up to the house from the garage; only about ten minutes, and Finn can tell that Poe’s taking his time because his legs are stiff after the flight. He doesn’t call Poe out on it, though part of him wants to, just to make conversation, or to watch how Poe will roll his eyes and almost surely punch him in the shoulder.
They’d talked enough on the way out here, Finn reasons, with Poe describing the landscape, telling Finn about purple-barked trees and giant orchids that glowed at sunset. He told Finn more about his father, Kes, who is the only member of his family still living on Yavin IV. Kes is an architect, Finn learned, and an incredible cook. Poe’s love for Kes shined through every word. Poe also told Finn about the Massassi people who had been here first, who had built a thriving civilization on this land, only to be enslaved and ultimately slaughtered by Sith Lords who demanded their labor and resources and offered nothing in exchange. Finn noted the anger in Poe’s voice as he relayed this to Finn.
“It’s just a damned shame,” Poe had finished. “Thousands of years of culture, almost entirely erased. Because once the temples were finished, the Sith didn’t need them anymore.” His fingers gripped the armrest so hard his knuckles turned white; the cruiser was on autopilot, leading the way for now. “I want to think that, now that the First Order is gone, things like that will never happen again.”
“I don’t know about never,” Finn said, “But I know that we’re going to make sure it doesn’t happen again in our lifetime.”
Poe looked out the window, into the glittering vastness of space. “What if we fail?” he asked. It was a question that hovered on the edge of many of their conversations, always remaining unspoken.
Finn thought of Rey, who already had a group of four young padawans that she cherished above almost all else. Of Rose, who was working to rebuild infrastructure on worlds that had been gutted by the First Order. Of Jannah, who had dedicated herself to discovering the heritage of thousands of former stormtroopers.
Of Poe, and the steady, calming presence of his shared command.
“We won’t,” Finn said.
Poe met Finn’s eyes; Finn knew Poe recognized the unrelenting truth of his words. He nodded, just once. “We won’t,” he echoed.
Finn instead stays quiet, now, watching as Poe leads the way by a stride. With eyes half-closed, he breathes deeply, easily. He’s at home, and Finn can feel the earth beneath Poe’s feet stretch towards him, welcoming him back, as if it’s been lying in wait for his return. Poe is as much a part of this place as the dirt and the grass and the trees and the bright purple flowers that grow up to their waists. All made of the same stuff.
Finn stuffs down the envy that creeps into his consciousness as fast as it came, swallowing it down with some fresh air. He’s getting used to it, the air, feeling his lungs expand to accommodate it. The air on star destroyers always felt thin, recycled, and stale, and the air on Jakku was dry and burned his nostrils, ensuring he could never take a full breath without getting a mouth full of sand. Yavin IV, for all its thickness, has proven to be the best Finn’s had thus far.
When they emerge from the jungle into a clearing, more sparse with trees to make room for the towering but narrow three-story dwelling before them, Kes Dameron is already waiting on the porch with his arms outstretched. Finn knows it’s him because he’s seen him in Poe’s holocalls; even if he hadn't, his resemblance to Poe from even this distance is too striking to ignore.
“Well?” he calls, his strong voice carrying easily to bridge the distance, “What took you so long?”
Poe picks up his pace to meet his father, dropping his pack to the ground and moving to embrace the man and bury his face in his neck. Kes does the same to Poe, and the two do not part for a long moment. Finn hangs back and stuffs his hands deep into his pockets, not wanting to intrude on the moment several years in the making.
When they do part, Poe finally responds, “Had a galaxy to save, you know how it is.”
“Sons and their excuses,” Kes grumbles, before turning his attention towards Finn, who suddenly feels shy like he hasn’t in awhile. “Finn! It’s nice to finally meet the man behind the legend.”
Kes is old; that much is obvious, by his nearly completely gray hair and creased brown eyes (that so resemble Poe’s that Finn’s breath catches), but his demeanor reflects the energy of a man several years his junior. His skin is darker than Poe’s by a few shades; whether it’s from having the luxury of an excess of natural sunlight or genetics, Finn has no idea. But for his age, there is no curve to his spine, and his shoulders remain broad and proud. It’s not hard to imagine him standing in this very spot decades ago, holding a toddler on his hip and watching the sky.
“Papi, don’t start—” Poe warns.
“Callate, mijo, and let me thank the man who saved your life,” Kes addresses Poe, before turning to Finn and giving him a big pat on the shoulder that quickly turns into a tight hug. “Thank you for what you did,” he says close to Finn’s ear. “Something like that can never be repaid.”
Finn struggles to find his voice. “Right place, right time,” he murmurs back, still unable to allow himself to take much credit for an act that stemmed from his own desperate desire to flee the First Order.
Kes pulls back, maintaining eye contact with Finn for a moment before finally breaking into a smile that is partially hidden beneath a thick, gray-streaked beard. “I’m sure that’s not the last time he’s had to save your ass, is it?” Kes asks Poe.
Grinning, Poe looks right at Finn as he answers, “He’s practically made a career out of it.”
Finn doesn’t realize he was holding his breath until he’s not anymore, inhaling deep through his mouth so he can smile back at Poe.
That night at dinner, Finn witnesses a complete family— as complete as it can be— for the first time.
Finn will be the first to say that he doesn’t know where he came from or who his parents are, but he still has a family. Rey, Rose, General Organa— no matter where she is— Jannah, Chewie, even BB-8 and R2 and C3-PO: they’re all his family, no matter how spread out they are. Poe is part of his family, too, and has been ever since Poe gave him a name and up until now, where they sit across from Kes, up to their elbows in spicy meat pastries and rice and beans and plantains— both salty and sweet— and a thick custard-like dessert that’s dripping in sweet syrup.
But as much as Finn understands the value of his own family, what he’s watching is different. It’s unique.
Maybe it’s not that they’re biologically related at all, but something unique to Poe and Kes, whose mannerisms are so alike that Finn has to hold back delighted laughter. The way they communicate with their hands, how neither can seem shut up, down to the way they hold their drinking glasses. They’re like mirrors of one another, and Finn just watches, taking it all in. As Finn stuffs himself to the brim, Kes launches into a story about Poe at six years old, climbing into his mother’s A-wing by himself.
“He sat himself in that chair like it was made for him and pressed the button to the airlock like it was nothing!” Kes exclaims. “Luckily for us, the little shit couldn’t remember how to work the controls.”
Poe leans back into his chair to laugh, holding his belly like it hurts. “I have never heard him scream like that, before or since. I was so scared that I curled up in the cockpit and tried to wait for him to go away, so I could sneak out like it never happened.” He wipes a tear away from the corner of his eye.
“Of course, that was nothing compared to the way Shara came in like a force, saying in a very calm, firm voice, that he needed to disengage the airlock within three seconds, or he would never be allowed to go up with her again,” Kes continues like a wistful smile. Not for the first time, Finn finds himself wishing he could meet Shara Bey.
Poe, for his part, says nothing for a moment and swallows before speaking again. “As you can imagine,” he says, looking at Finn, “I was out before she could say one.”
Finn’s mouth curls up into a lazy smile. It’s been a long day of travelling, his stomach is full, and he knows a good night’s sleep is next up on the menu. He sips at his glass of dark, spicy rum that’s turning him utterly boneless and says, “Of course you were. About the only thing that could keep you out of the pilot’s seat is the threat of never being able to go back in, I’d guess.”
“You’d guess right,” Poe replies. Finn realizes that Poe is smiling back at him, in a soft, relaxed way that Finn can’t look away from. After a moment, Poe raises his own glass of liquor in Finn’s direction. “To finally getting Finn to Yavin IV, after all these years.”
Finn feels his cheeks heat and thanks the Force that Poe will never be able to tell. “We already toasted to the end of the war and long-lasting peace,” Finn reminds him, hoping his tone is as casual as he’s aiming for.
“And to the food,” Kes adds, “Which you went on for about five minutes.”
“Hush, old man,” Poe says, “Don’t act like you weren’t tearing up about my soliloquy about your cooking.”
“Who’s calling who an old man, now? I saw you limping in here—”
Finn laughs openly, unable to hold it back anymore. He slides further down into his seat.
“Anyways!” Poe cuts in. “To Finn finally getting to have the best food in the galaxy, and experiencing the highest humidity he hopes to ever face.”
“I’m getting used to it, now!” Finn protests.
“To Finn,” Kes agrees, smiling softly with bright eyes, as he raises his glass as well. “It’s a pleasure to have you here.”
Heat creeps up the back of Finn’s neck. “You’re embarrassing me, Poe,” he says plainly.
“Raise that glass, Finn, or you’re sleeping in the jungle,” Poe warns, but he’s smiling that wide smile again.
Finn huffs, but that smile is infectious. “To all of us,” Finn corrects. “To me, to Poe, to Kes, all getting to consume the greatest food and finest liquor in the galaxy.”
“He’s a lightweight,” Poe stage-whispers to Kes, after they’ve all drank.
Kes smiles goodnaturedly. “Go get him to bed,” he says to Poe. “I’ll clean up.”
“No, I can help!” Finn protests. He can't stand the idea of leaving Kes to deal with the mess by himself, after Finn didn’t even get to contribute to the making of the meal.
“You can help by helping me set up the bedroom. C’mon, hotshot,” Poe urges, his hand landing to grasp Finn’s shoulder.
Poe’s room is on the top level, up a narrow spiral staircase and through a pair of thin doors that slide open to reveal a small room with a sloped ceiling that forces them to duck their heads as it narrows. The Dameron home is organic, in a way that Finn isn’t accustomed to. The walls are made of wood, rich in varying tones of brown, and the floor squeaks and dips beneath their feet. Finn couldn’t conjure up an image in further contrast to the white on white First Order bases he grew up on, even if he tried.
“Sorry that it’s small,” Poe says, scratching the back of his neck.
“I think sometimes you forget where I come from,” Finn replies, chuckling lightly.
Poe shakes his head, eyes downcast. “‘Course I don’t. Still, that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve the best.”
Finn doesn’t know what to say to that, so he doesn’t say anything. He clumsily helps Poe make up the double bed, tucking in the sheet tightly and neatly into the corners like he was taught and puts the pillows in their cases while Poe shakes out a slightly thicker blanket to throw on top. “Probably won’t need it, but. In case,” Poe elaborates.
Finn nods. He likes blankets. Who is he to complain about a blanket? He’s just eager to climb in and pass out until the morning, ready to do so in his clothes if Poe doesn’t stop him.
“Shit,” Poe curses, looking at Finn with widened eyes. “I know you don’t usually mind sharing, but I can always go down with my Pa if you want space. Sorry, I just assumed—”
“Don’t be stupid,” Finn says. They’ve shared beds countless times, often when necessity called for it, sometimes just out of convenience. Finn sees no reason why that should change, even now when it is far from necessary.
When Finn looks up to meet Poe’s eyes, he seems tired but happy. His hair is a mess, like he just ran a hand through it, and his eyes are hooded, but he’s content. “Sorry,” Poe shrugs, “It’s second nature.”
Finn hits him with a pillow, and Poe laughs and turns to head into the ‘fresher.
On his first morning on Yavin IV, Finn wakes up with a throat that feels like it’s been stuffed with rocks and eyes so swollen and teary that he has to wipe them several times before he can take in the sunlight that’s begun to filter through the large windows lining Poe’s bedroom.
Finn attempts to clear his throat, to no avail. The scratch persists, and he rubs a fist over his eyes once more. This must be what being sick feels like, he thinks; in the First Order, they were immunized regularly, all of them, and deep sanitation was routine. He’d never felt this way before. They kept them healthy, just to discard them when they broke.
“Finn,” Poe mumbles, voice thick with sleep.
Turning towards him, the first thing Finn notices is how the sunlight has painted patterns over the broad expanse of Poe’s bare shoulders. He’s facing Finn, lying on his stomach with the thin sheet pooling at his waist, shining golden in contrast to pale sheets. He’s a sight; Finn can admit that. He looks like something straight out of a holovid, even though his breath reeks at this time of day and he snores like a dying thing.
“Go back to sleep, Poe,” Finn replies. His voice grates even his own ears.
Poe attempts to look at Finn through the curtain of curls that have fallen over his eyes during the night. “You sound like shit,” he mutters, voice muffled by the pillow.
“‘M fine,” Finn insists, turning away from Poe and closing his swollen eyes, trying to pretend like they don’t feel like they’re about to ache their way right out of his skull.
When Poe speaks again, it’s in Finn’s ear. “Roll over. Let me see your tonsils,” he urges.
“Don’t be disgusting,” Finn mutters. “I’m sleeping.”
“C’mon, I’m practically a med-droid,” Poe insists. Finn can tell without looking that he’s trying hard not to laugh. “Now, pop that mouth open. Lemme see what’s going on under the hood.”
Finn throws an elbow Poe’s way for his troubles. “Stop trying to get in my mouth!”
“Hey, that’s the first time I’ve heard that one,” Poe laughs.
Smug bastard, Finn thinks, huffing. “I swear on the Force, man. If I let you look at me, will you shut up?” Finn questions. He’s eager to get it over with; every word he says draws a deeper pain from the back of his throat.
“No,” Poe admits, “But I’ll stop being this annoying.”
Sighing, Finn replies, “Fine,” and turns so Poe can see his face.
“Oh no,” is all Poe says.
Finn narrows his eyes the best he can, which is a feat, given that eyelids are already swollen to a squinting position. “After all that, that’s all you have to say?”
“Well, there’s good news and bad news,” Poe begins. He’s doing his General Voice, tone strong but earnest. “Good news: this is completely and totally fixable and will definitely be gone within 12 hours or less. The bad news? You look like you took a couple good hits to the face. And that you’ve been crying about it.”
“Well,” Finn mutters, “Thank the stars I’m not trying to impress you with my appearance.”
“Point,” Poe allows, stoking a hand over his chin. He’s two days past needing a shave, but it doesn’t look horrible on him. “But you sure you’re not trying to impress Kes?”
Finn’s cheeks heat. “Man, what did I say about being disgusting!” he exclaims, pushing Poe away by the shoulder. His skin is sleep-warm and soft, and Finn pulls his hand back quickly.
Poe collapses onto his back and laughs freely up at the ceiling. “Kidding, buddy, chill! You look great, as always. Just... pained.”
Finn sighs again. “Well, what’s the diagnosis?”
“Allergies,” Poe answers. “Bad ones. I’m guessing you weren’t exactly exposed to a lot of plants in your life; especially not those native to this very specific moon.”
“Definitely not,” Finn affirms.
“I really should have anticipated this, but don’t worry! My pa has a great at-home remedy for this, and I’ll head into town in a bit and pick up some tablets that will fix you up good as new.” Poe slides out of bed as he speaks, pulling on shorts and a shirt that’s more open than it is not. He has a frenetic energy about him that makes Finn want to reach out and calm him.
“Don’t fuss over me, Poe,” Finn warns. “I know how you get, and it’s not that bad.”
Poe has a tendency to be overprotective, and there are moments that it drives Finn crazy. He can take care of himself, has proven it several times over, but Poe is Poe and has jumped prematurely to Finn’s defense against off-world dignitaries more than once because they dared to mention his former allegiance to the First Order. But that’s just how Poe is: passionate and devoted to a fault. It’s hard to begrudge him for it, because it’s how he shows he cares. Finn had to accept that fact a long time ago.
“Sorry, General, but we’re on my moon, now. You don’t have authority here.” Poe grins and moves towards the doorway. “Now get moving; I can smell caf.”
Though claiming Finn has no authority here, Poe doesn’t fuss. He heads out without fanfare on his father’s speeder— too fast, but to no one’s surprise— after a huge breakfast complete with the best caf that Finn has ever tasted, lightyears better than the instant stuff he’s grown accustomed to.
“We grow it here, up on the mountain,” Kes had said in response to a delighted groan that fell from Finn’s lips, unbidden. He nods to the west. “You boys should check out the farm, while you’re here. Saturo might let you roast some beans for you to take, if you’re nice to him.”
When Poe returns, he presses a box into Finn’s hands and pats his shoulder. Finn squeezes Poe’s hand in return before he rips the box open and downs two of the tablets without hesitation. He chases them with the hot drink Kes had made him, inhaling the earthy scent of dried herbs as he does. It feels like instant relief to his aching throat, and Finn sighs in relief.
The rest of the day passes uneventfully, and Finn has never experienced before. There are no drills to run, no battles to fight. It’s him and Poe and Kes, sitting on the front porch with big, full mugs of fermented tea, letting the world pass around them.
The only disturbance is the noise that every living thing here seems to emit. Yavin IV is both louder and more alive than any other place Finn has been. Birds squawk in the distance, and insects hum loud high in the trees. What’s loudest, though, is the earth. It vibrates, almost, giving off a high pitched thrum that permeates his thoughts; if he focuses, he thinks he could hear it calling his name. It’s overwhelming. After putting up with it for a while, Finn closes his eyes and attempts to clear his mind, the way Rey taught him. Focuses on the inner workings of his own body and the sound of his breathing. The sensation of his lungs expanding and filling.
Time suspends. It could be just minutes, perhaps longer. But the space around Finn goes quiet and completely still. Finn relaxes further into his seat, feeling weightless and peaceful
Finn’s bubble is interrupted by a hand shaking his shoulder. “Finn! Did you fall asleep? I called you like ten times,” Poe is saying. His head is stretched into Finn’s view, eyebrows pinching as he studies Finn’s face.
Finn blinks, rubs his eyes. The swelling has gone down significantly, and Finn lets out a small sigh. “I don’t think so,” he replies. “Sorry, I was kind of just... drifting.”
Poe raises an eyebrow, appraising, but doesn’t make any further comment. “C’mon, I wanna show you my ma’s A-wing before it gets too dark.” He’s smiling slightly, waiting for Finn’s reaction.
Pushing himself up and stretching, Finn replies, “Lead the way, flyboy.”
“Be back for dinner, or I’m coming after you!” Kes calls after them.
They head back the way they came in the day before, this time with Poe barefoot and Finn in a pair of sandals he borrowed from Kes. It’s the first time he’s worn shoes like this, and the grass tickles the tips of his toes as they make their way to the garage that holds the cruiser they landed in and, Finn’s guessing, Shara Bey’s A-wing.
The cruiser is there, still in one piece, but Poe ignores it in favor of the large, white tarp on the right. Poe tugs the sheet back and there it is, in all its glory, far bigger than Finn had actually anticipated.
“You learned to fly in this?” Finn questions. The craft isn’t necessarily tall, but what it lacks in height, it more than makes up for in length. Finn runs his hand from the domed cockpit down its long silver side, down to the tip of its squared-off rusty red nose. When Finn lifts his hand, dust clings to his fingertips.
“Sometimes, you have to learn to fly before you can walk,” Poe announces. He’s grinning with bright eyes, his cheeks flushed as he takes a moment to look over the craft himself.
Finn finds himself struck by how young Poe looks and pauses, hand moving back to brace himself against the A-wing.
Poe must notice that Finn has stilled; he looks up with concern etched in his brow. “What’s wrong?” he asks.
“Nothing,” Finn denies, allowing himself to smile. “I just don’t know if I’ve ever seen you this happy.”
Poe ducks his head for a moment before moving his eyes to the cockpit. “Well, lots of good memories, here,” he says, patting the metal hull. “Just wish my ma could see me now.” His other hand moves to the chain around his throat, fingering the silver ring that hangs from it. Pushes the edge of his pointer finger through it and holds it that way, considering. Finn knows it belonged to Shara, and that Poe never takes it off.
“She’d be proud,” Finn assures him. He doesn’t know much about mothers, but he knows that if he’s proud of Poe, no doubt Shara would be, too.
Poe sighs. “Sometimes, I’m not sure. I’ve done a lot of stupid things, made too many choices based on ego. I just...” He trails off and lets the ring fall back against his chest. “I wonder what she’d say, if she was here.” His voice is wistful, how it usually is when he talks about Shara.
“Poe,” Finn says. “You are far from perfect. You’ve done some shady things and made the wrong call more than once. Hell, you know I’ve been tempted to strangle you more than once!” Poe laughs at that, his shoulders loosening slightly, to Finn’s relief. “But you’re a good man, and she’d see that. I knew it within the first minute of meeting you.”
The corner of Poe’s mouth curls up, and Finn’s mind supplies the joyous whoop Poe had made as they escaped in the TIE fighter. It had been the best moment of Finn’s life, up until that point. “Thanks for the pep talk,” Poe tells him. “I’m a grown man and shouldn’t need it, but it doesn’t hurt to hear.”
Finn smiles back. “Well, someone’s gotta keep you in line,” he tells Poe, clapping him on the shoulder.
Poe's smile evolves into a grin before he turns his attention back to the A-wing. He presses a button on the side that causes the dome of the cockpit to disengage and slide forward so Poe can haul himself inside. “I used to sit right here, in her lap, pretending I was the one doing the flying,” Poe says, “Now I barely fit in here by myself.”
A sudden thought makes Finn grin. “Scoot forward,” he urges. “Let’s test it out.”
Poe narrows his eyes over the edge of the A-wing. “Are you under the impression that either of us are particularly small men? Because I can tell you for certain, buddy: we’re not.”
Finn rolls his eyes and steps onto the foothold. “Shove over, or I’m just going to land on top of you.”
Poe bites his lip and shakes his head. “Fine, but no complaining,” he states, scooting forward and leaving barely enough room for Finn to slide in behind him.
Finn manages it, though, because Poe may be stubborn but so is he. He makes space for himself in between Poe’s body and the back of the seat, settling in with a punched out exhale as he realizes how little room there really is in the cockpit. “Oh,” Finn says, and attempts to stretch out his legs. His thighs are pressed tightly against Poe’s, and, when Poe shifts, his ass makes contact with the vee of Finn’s open legs.
“Yeah, oh,” Poe replies, shifting and sounding out of breath.
“Okay,” Finn says, swallowing, “Good thing I’m not claustrophobic.” He doesn’t know where to put his hands; they hover over his own legs, grasping nothing.
“Me neither,” Poe snorts, relaxing fractionally back into Finn’s chest. “I wonder if I could fly it like this. Don’t think the harness would fit us both, though.”
Finn shakes his head. “Nope, definitely not,” he breathes. Poe’s fingers brush his right thigh, and Finn nearly jolts at the contact.
“I’ll have to take you up in the cruiser, then,” Poe continues. “Fly low so you can really see the landscape. I want you to see the temples.” His shoulders make full contact with Finn’s chest. The motion is gentle, but it knocks the air from Finn’s lungs. When Poe’s hair tickles Finn’s cheek, Finn notices the sparse grays growing in, just glinting in the low light.
After a deep breath, Finn asks, “Does it even run? How long’s it been sitting here?”
Poe sighs, “Probably not. I’m sure I was the last one who took her up.” He seems to have no intention of moving any time soon.
The back of Finn’s neck grows hot, and he clears his throat. “Alright, get up, old man. My legs are going numb.”
“That’s complaining,” Poe protests. “And ageist. Inappropriate, General.” He moves to get out regardless, elbowing Finn purposefully in the side as he does but managing to get out carefully enough that Finn doesn’t get kicked in the face.
Alone in the A-wing, Finn takes a deep breath. After a moment, he scoots forward to wrap his fingers around the worn leather of the yoke, wondering what it’d feel like to fly it. To possess the ability to just go whenever he pleased, never having to look back. It’s all he dreamt about in his last months in the First Order. There was even a desperate moment where he nearly climbed into a TIE fighter alone, willing to escape or die trying.
But it’s been a long time since Finn has felt that way. Since he had that fraught urge to run. He has people, now, who’d miss him. People he would miss.
“You coming, or you gonna take off?” Poe calls from the ground.
Finn hops out of the A-wing and goes to Poe’s side. If he had to rank the best moments of his life right now, he thinks this one would land somewhere near the top.
The thing is, there had been a moment that felt like there might be a shift; a natural progression that Finn had been waiting for without realizing it.
Finn had been sitting next to Rey’s bedside after she’d made it back to them, shaky and weak but bright eyed, so relieved to see them that it washed over Finn and centered him. He helped her to bed once she’d filled them in on what had happened and sat by her, unable to believe that she was here beside him, all in one piece. That they had not only all survived, but won.
I felt you die, he wanted to tell her, but it would have to wait. She needed to rest, now. Discussions of the Force could come later.
Finn continued to watch Rey after she'd fallen asleep, keeping track of her breaths in an attempt to keep himself calm and focused as he felt the adrenaline of the day wearing off.
Poe entered the tent after a while, and his presence was welcomed and longed for. Finn began to feel himself slip into a more peaceful state as Poe pulled up a chair to sit beside him. Things were better, when they were all together. Poe stretched forward in his chair, resting his elbows on his knees so he could study Rey.
“I can’t believe we all made it,” Poe said softly, eyes not leaving Rey, who did not stir as he spoke. The adrenaline had long faded by now, leaving him looking tired but thoughtful. “For a minute there, I really thought we wouldn’t.”
“We did it,” Finn confirmed. “We make a hell of a team.”
“Finn,” Poe whispered, looking at the ground. “You scared the shit out of me out there. You can’t do things like that, you can’t risk yourself—”
Finn bristled. “Like you wouldn’t?” he hissed, mindful to keep his voice low so as to not disturb Rey.
Poe shook his head and finally looked at Finn. “You’re too valuable, Finn. I’m not.”
Finn’s fingers dug into his own thigh. “You’re a general, for kriff’s sake. Why are you talking like you’re expendable?”
“Too valuable to me, Finn,” Poe stated, “And I thought you were about to die.” Finn realized then that Poe’s voice was shaky; this wasn’t a reprimand. It was something else.
Softening, Finn replied, “But I’m here.” He moved a hand to Poe’s knee, hoping to calm him. “Look at me, Poe. I’m right here, and I know you would have saved my ass no matter what.”
Poe inhaled then, a deep breath that Finn could almost see enter and leave his body. His eyes drifted down to where Finn’s hand lay on his knee. “I wouldn’t be able to live with myself, if something ever happened to you. I would have regretted...” he trailed off, his voice barely a whisper.
“Regretted what?” Finn questioned, taking his hand from Poe’s knee to lean back and study his face.
Hesitation laced Poe’s features; his forehead was creased, and his mouth downturned. Poe’s eyes lifted slowly to meet Finn’s. Another breath flowed through him, and on the exhale he said, “Finn, you know that I—”
“Generals,” a voice chimed from the doorway. It was C-3PO, holding the curtain open with a stiff arm. “Miss Rose wanted me to inform you both that you need to come eat, or she will, and I quote: ‘Drag them to the mess by their ears.’”
The moment evaporated instantly. Poe leaned back and wiped the back of his hand over his eyes before standing. “I’ll bring you both something, buddy,” he said. He squeezed Finn’s shoulder on the way out like nothing had happened. Finn had been left alone, suspended, heart aching like someone had it in a vice grip but not quite understanding why.
Rey began to stir shortly after, while Finn did his best to swallow down what felt a lot like disappointment.
Poe had never mentioned it again, and Finn had done his best to forget it.
The second night, without the warm, lulling influence of rum, Finn finds it hard to sleep. He can’t even blame Poe’s snoring, even though it’s loud enough to wake the dead. Finn learned how to fall asleep stacked five high in the Trooper dormitory, surrounded on all sides by other people, some sleeping, some not. It’s not because of the heat, either; the ceiling fan is keeping air circulating pleasantly through the room. Since Jakku, Finn hasn’t complained about heat.
No, it’s because when Finn finally nears unconsciousness, it sounds like a choir of voices is calling his name. FinnFinnFinnFinnFinnFi—
Finn bolts up in bed, looking around the room and breathing hard. His blaster is in the wardrobe with the rest of his things, reachable in just a second, but he finds himself frozen.
Poe remains undisturbed, turned away from Finn and snoring away. Finn wants to shake him awake— to question whether he’d heard the voices, too— but he doesn’t, because he hates feeling like the naive stormtrooper who gets spooked by every noise he’s never heard before.
Finn sits up for a long time, ultimately hearing nothing except for the sound of his own breathing and the low hum of insects outside.
When Finn finally settles down to drift off again, he hears a singular voice.
Finn, she says, crystal clear and leaving no room for doubt.
Finn gets out of bed and follows the direction the voice came from, away from the bed towards the room’s natural end to fling open the window.
A tree stands there, not far from the house. It would be completely unremarkable— it isn’t particularly tall or broad, lacking many leaves— if it weren’t for the fact that it casts a soft blue light that makes it stand out like a beacon in the dark.
Finn stands in front of the window for a long moment, mesmerized.
It doesn’t take Finn long to make it downstairs to approach the tree. The glow beckons him, draws him in, the blue light shifting and glittering in a way that makes it almost seem to move. The grass bristles under Finn’s bare feet, and the night air feels sharp against his skin, but he doesn’t care. He presses forward until the tree is within arm’s reach and stops there, waiting.
Even though Finn feels so certain that the tree is the origin of the voices, it’s completely quiet, now. Just keeps on glowing, like Finn’s presence has no effect.
Finn holds his breath and reaches out.
The moment his fingertips connect with bark, it’s like a floodgate opens. Voices, all on top of each other, singing, laughing, calling out, all at once. It’s like they’re in his head, fighting for attention, saying everything and nothing all once. And behind his eyes it’s blue, swirling blue that doesn’t stop and makes Finn feels like he’s falling through it, into it, down and down and down until Finn wrenches himself back like he’s been burned.
It takes Finn several minutes to come back to himself. When he does, he’s doubled over, panting, with his hands on his knees. His cheeks are wet, and his ears continue to ring no matter how hard he shakes his head. Sweat, rapidly cooling on his skin, makes him shiver now. On the way back to the house, he has to pause to vomit before forcing himself back inside.
Finn returns to bed shaking. He feels stupid; he feels young, like he just woke up from a nightmare in a windowless room. He wills himself to calm down, like he had to when he was young. Ones that cried out were returned changed. They had been taught to keep quiet. Finn forced himself to learn from their mistakes.
It takes a while, but Finn’s body finally stills. He tries to make sense of what happened outside. Why did the tree call to him, and why couldn’t he understand it? He wishes that Rey were here, to help him sort out all of the swirling thoughts that threaten to drive him insane.
“Clear your mind,” Rey had told him once, when he had gotten overwhelmed with emotion in a room crowded with terrified refugees from the Outer Rim. “When you’re feeling like this, push everything else out. Picture yourself doing it. Then you can begin to make sense of it all.”
“I didn’t ask for this,” Finn said in a rush. He respected the Force, was even in awe of it at times, but he hated feeling like he had no choice in the matter. Rey urged him to train with her, to show him that it wasn’t as overwhelming as he’d built it up to be in his head, but he always turned her down. Rey’s disappointed frown was almost enough to make him reconsider.
“Neither did I,” replied Rey, her gaze unrelenting.
But Finn pressed on. “I don’t want to make sense of it. I just want it to stop.” His hands were shaking, and he hated it.
Rey shook her head, but her tone remained patient. “But that’s not how it works. It’s everywhere, in everything. It won’t stop feeling this way until you let it in, then learn to control it.”
“I just need it to be quiet,” Finn insisted. “That’s all.”
Rey leaned back, away from him. Resigned. “Okay,” she said. “Start by breathing.”
Finn breathes deeply now, like he had earlier that day on the porch. It takes longer than before, but eventually he’s in that bubble again, finally feeling safe and still. When Finn finally falls asleep, he hears nothing.
Finn is slow to wake the following day, his entire body feeling heavy. Poe teases him about it, but he brings him a cup of caf in bed to get him moving.
“What’s the deal with that tree?” Finn asks later. It’s midday with the sun blazing, but he’s protected in the garage, holding a bottle of Kes’s home brew and watching as Poe works on the A-wing, elbow deep in machinery.
“What tree?” Poe asks, not looking up. His back is arched over the engine, and it’s strange for Finn to see him like this outside of his bright orange jumpsuit.
Finn shifts in his chair; it’s an old one that folds up, a bit rusted at the corners. “The blue one, in your backyard,” he replies, ignoring how his stomach flips over unpleasantly.
Poe pauses and looks at Finn. There’s grease streaked below his left eye and sweat gathering at his temples, making the hair there stick flat against his head. “Oh,” he says, “That’s the Force Tree.”
Finn blinks, “I’m sorry, the what?”
Poe raises an eyebrow, amused. “What part of what I just said was confusing?”
“All of it?” Finn replies, “Mainly the part where you’re so kriffing nonchalant about having a Force-sensitive tree right outside your bedroom window? All the times you told me about this place, and you never mentioned it.”
“I grew up with it, Finn; I don’t know.” Poe shrugs. “Literally, it’s been there since before I was born. It’s like a pet that will never die. Kind of like BB-8.” He takes a moment to wipe his hands with a rag nearby and leans his weight against the hull of the A-wing. “What do you want to know?”
Does it call to you? Does it whisper your name in the dark? But he knows the answer: of course not. Poe wouldn’t be so calm about it if it did. “Where did it come from?” Finn questions.
“Originally from Coruscant,” Poe tells him. “That tree grew from a cutting given to my mother by Luke Skywalker.”
Finn narrows his eyes. “You’re joking,” he says. He had known that both of Poe’s parents had fought in the battle of Endor for the Rebel Alliance, but he hadn’t known that they were close with Luke Skywalker, of all people.
Poe smiles, obviously proud. “She and Luke were good friends. She was close with Leia, too. That’s probably why she looked after me, all that time. Even when I didn’t deserve it.”
Finn bites his lip. “What do you make of it, though?” he asks.
“People have different reactions to it,” Poe says. “Some find it creepy, others come to worship it. Force users can communicate with it, harness energy from it, if they’re strong enough. For me, it was just comforting, knowing it was always there. Like a little piece of my ma, after she was gone.”
After taking a deep breath, Finn dares to question, “Has it ever communicated with you?”
“Whispers,” Poe replies, “Just whispers. I used to climb it and fall asleep in the branches, and it was like it was singing me to sleep. Pa had to go get me down more than once.”
Finn’s heart thuds violently. “But wouldn’t that mean... Wouldn’t that make you—”
“No,” Poe says quickly. “I don’t think so. I think I’d know, you know? Growing up with it, touching it, having to nurse it back to health more than once. I think...” He trails off thoughtfully. “No. I’d know.”
Finn nods but doesn’t think he agrees. “Right, yeah.”
Poe tilts his head thoughtfully. “Why do you ask, buddy?”
Shrugging, Finn answers, “No reason. Just curious.”
As the days pass, Finn is convinced that time doesn’t properly exist, here on Yavin IV. He’s free to do what he wants, go where he pleases, and sleep as little or as much as he chooses to.
Sometimes he wakes up at a reasonable time to have breakfast with Poe and Kes, sometimes he sleeps in a bit later, just because he finally can. No matter what time he rolls out of bed, there is always a plate set aside for him, wrapped up in the conservator. On the days he’s up early, he helps Kes prepare the meal and makes sure to clean up afterwards, despite Kes telling him it’s unnecessary.
Most times, though, it’s Poe who rolls down the stairs late, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. The warm smile Finn gets when he hands Poe a steaming cup of caf is something Finn locks up in a hidden corner of his heart.
Finn spends most of his days with Poe, hiking up trails or playing sabacc with him against Kes or helping Poe fix up the A-wing. They even go into town, one day, when Poe needs to purchase a compressor. It’s small but busy, heavier on foot traffic than it is on speeders. Poe haggles easily with the woman who runs shop, and Finn doesn’t miss the look she gives Poe as she watches him walk away.
Making eye contact with Finn, she asks in Basic, “Your man?” Her large brown eyes glimmer with amusement, like something in his expression has her a hair’s breadth from laughter.
Poe has wandered several paces away, browsing one of the small stalls set up along the roadway that’s piled high with colorful fruits. He talks with the vendor as he does, laughing freely at something the man says.
“No,” Finn answers. It tastes like a lie in his mouth.
She laughs, then, not entirely cruel or kind. It reminds Finn of Rey. “You two can come back any time,” she tells him, eyes wandering down to study his form.
Finn, caught off guard, nods and walks away to join Poe.
It’s not the proposition that throws Finn off; contrary to common assumption, Finn is far from innocent. But it’s the openness of it, the way she stated her intentions in a crowded market where anyone could hear. In the First Order, there was no conversation or flirtation. They exchanged looks, sometimes, in the communal showers, but mostly exchanged hand signals before meeting quietly in the eerie dark of the bunks. It wasn’t formally accepted, but, as long as attachments weren’t formed, their officers continued to look the other way. Finn guessed it was better than ending up with a bunch of restless stormtroopers on their hands, frustrated with no actual means of release. The couplings were always quick and efficient, sterile in their own way. Finn had done it more than once someone whose face he never saw.
In the time since the war ended, Finn has not had much time for such connections. The exception was a memorable night on Coruscant; emboldened by Correllian wine and a lingering touch to his forearm, Finn had ended up entangled with four other sentients. Never had he been touched, in the way he was that night, never had he kissed or laughed or enjoyed the act of sex so much.
Still, Finn had trouble navigating open expressions of desire. Sexual acts came second-nature, but the idea of seduction, of being someone’s man continued to elude him.
Even once the rain started on the fifth day, leaving them with nothing to do except hole up and watch holovids while Kes had to work, the idea of romance continued to confound Finn.
“So they’re just together, now?” Finn asks. “One kiss, and that’s it?”
“I think we’re supposed to infer that a conversation happened off-screen,” Poe says. His voice is somewhat muffled due to the rain; it’s been coming down in buckets the entire day, with no sign of letting up anytime soon. “But, sometimes, a kiss is better than a love confession.” Finn watches as Poe’s lips form the words; he had finally shaved yesterday after lamenting over how much of his beard was growing in silver. Finn had thought it had looked good, but didn’t say.
Finn runs a hand over his head, over the braids that Jannah had carefully twisted into a design vaguely resembling a crown. He hadn’t thought it would suit him, but, when he looks in the mirror, he can’t help but admire the artistry of it. “It just feels like there’s so many rules about this stuff that I never learned. And when I ask, people just look at me like the poor stormtrooper who doesn’t know anything. It’s annoying,” he admits.
Poe is quiet for a moment, focused on where his bare feet are crossed on the table in front of them. “You can come to me about this stuff; you know that, right? I know I can be a dick sometimes, but. I want you to know you can tell me whatever’s on your mind, no matter what it is.”
After studying Poe for a moment— his clenched hands, his tight jaw— Finn says, “I know that. The feelings bit is just strange to me, still, and I don’t always know how to talk about it.”
“It’s alright,” Poe tells Finn with a slight smile. “No one’s an expert of feelings, no matter how much they claim to be. It’s just something you have to figure out as you go along.”
Finn doesn’t care for the uncertainty of it all but doesn’t mention it.
Then, at the end of every day, Finn and Poe go to bed together. Even when Finn finds his eyelids growing heavy, he waits for Poe. Whether it’s the ritual or comfort of it, he’s not sure. Regardless, they get into bed together, close but never touching. Sometimes they talk, about the things they miss about the base they call home, or the state of the galaxy, or something funny Kes did earlier; sometimes they’re too tired and just drift off, facing each other. The solace it brings Finn is difficult for him to rationalize. Maybe after a lifetime surrounded by faceless masks, just having Poe’s face so close feels precious.
The Tree still calls to Finn, once he’s lying still in the dark with Poe already sleeping soundly beside him. But it’s quieter, now, and Finn can manage that. Shielding his mind is becoming easier as the days pass, and he finds he can fall asleep now without much trouble.
On the sixth day, the rain stops, and the relentlessly blue sky returns. Poe finishes his work on the A-wing that day, and Finn and Kes are left sitting on the porch side by side, watching as Poe loops around in circles in the air.
“You and Poe are quite close,” Kes observes suddenly, eyes not leaving the A-wing.
“We are,” Finn confirms. Kes’s profile is strong and not unlike Poe’s, though his nose is longer and more narrow, and his chin is softened by his thick but well-kept beard.
Kes moves to meet Finn’s eyes. For a moment, it looks like there’s something he wants to say.
“What is it?” Finn asks.
Shaking his head slightly, Kes replies. “Just don’t stop caring for each other, the way you do. You’re good for each other. If there’s anything I’ve learned in the time I’ve watched you here together, it’s that.”
Finn swallows. The acceptance makes the back of his throat tickle. “I won’t,” he promises.
“I’ve tried not to mention it, because I can tell it embarrasses you,” Kes continues, “But I just need to say again how much it means to me that I’m able to sit here now and watch my idiot son fly around in that A-wing. Without you, he would have never come home.”
Finn looks away from Kes, to where Poe flies in spirals above the treeline. “Don’t underestimate him,” he says. “He may have gotten out on his own and taken out Kylo Ren right then and there, just to prove a point.”
Kes sighs and looks back up at the sky. “That very well may be, but— as much as I believe in my son— I can also acknowledge that he’s not invincible. Especially not against a Force user that powerful.”
Finn goes quiet. He remembers the shape Ren had left Poe in, when Finn got him out of the interrogation chamber. The smear of blood under his mouth, the dazed look in his eyes. “What do you know about the Force?” he asks after a moment.
Making a considering noise, Kes replies, “Besides the fact that I have that tree in my backyard? I know it’s everywhere, and it’s powerful. That it can be used for good, or for evil. I’m not sensitive myself, but Luke did his best to explain it to me.”
“Did you know him well?” Finn questions.
A warm smile grows on Kes’s face. “Yes. He spent a whole summer here with us, years before Poe was born. He gave us the tree when it was just a tiny thing. We were so proud to have it.”
Finn pictures Shara and Kes and Luke, laughing over the kitchen table in the same way he, Poe, and Kes have been every night. He’s seen holos of Shara, since he’s been here; she shares Poe’s eyes and nose and curly hair. Finn wonders if she would have liked him. Hopes so, he realizes, because he knows he would have loved her. “Does the tree have any effect on you?” Finn has to ask.
Kes shakes his head. “No. It just feels like a calming presence, something pretty to look at.” He looks at Finn and waits.
“I feel something,” Finn admits, finally. “When I touch it, it’s like it’s trying to tell me something.”
Kes raises an eyebrow; it’s a look he’s seen many times, but from Poe. “Well?” Kes retorts, “Listen, then.” He rises, then, heading back into the house and leaving Finn alone with his thoughts.
Finn watches the A-wing dip in the sky as Poe prepares to land. He wishes, not for the first time, that he could speak to Rey about this, but she is on Ahch-To with her padawans, currently unreachable.
Listen, Kes had said. But what if Finn can’t? What if the thought of using the Force terrifies him, because what if there is a dark side to him, previously untapped? What if he’s not ready for the power, and it begins to drive him mad? What if he hurts someone he loves? What if, what if—
Finn takes a deep breath before he can get himself carried away. Inhales the sweet Yavin air that has begun to feel comfortable and familiar in his lungs. Watches as Poe approaches from the jungle, flushed and grinning, and pushes all other thoughts away.
It’s been one standard week when Finn is stopped still at the top of the stairs by Kes Dameron hissing, “Two weeks? After four years, you’re only staying for two weeks?”
Finn should go back into Poe’s room; he knows that. He should not be eavesdropping on something so private. Breakfast will wait. Despite knowing these things, Finn can’t force himself to move.
“There’s too much to do,” Poe replies, voice hushed. “I can’t hole up here on vacation when there are treaties to arrange, ambassadors to delegate—”
“You’re going to run yourself ragged,” Kes voice replies, immovable. “How long do you think you can keep up this pace? You’re not getting any younger, mijo. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you.”
There’s a loud sigh; Finn knows Poe well enough to know it belongs to him. “Of course I know that, Papi. You don’t think I know that? That’s why I have Finn to help me. To share the burden.”
A pause, filled by the sound of cutlery clanging together. “But don’t you want to settle down? Start a family?” Kes presses.
“I have a family,” Poe answers immediately. “As for settling down, I’m not quite sure yet, but if you’re asking if I want children— of course I do. But I have too much I need to do first.”
“Poe,” Kes says, voice kind, careful. “You can’t be expected to wait forever. At some point, you have to—”
Poe cuts him short. “Don’t,” he states. “Please. I don’t want to talk about it.”
Like that, the conversation is over, and Finn is left standing at the top of the staircase, gripping the railing and breathing hard. Finally, he summons the will to retreat back into the bedroom and lie back down on the bed he made only minutes before. He stares up at the ceiling, watches as the fan spins, and attempts to make sense of what he just heard. He finds he can’t, though; when he tries, everything just feels muddled and wrong in his head.
Finn closes his eyes and focuses on his breathing instead.
“Finn, you up?” Poe asks from the doorway, minutes later.
Sitting up, Finn does his best not to look guilty. “Yeah, sorry. Tired today, I guess.”
“Well, get moving,” Poe urges. He pulls open the wardrobe, moving clothes aside and digging around. “We’re going swimming.” He smiles at Finn over his shoulder, but his eyes don’t match it. “You can swim, right?”
Finn rolls his eyes. He’d spent nearly an entire week of his life waterlogged and chilled to the bone, because it was required that they train in every kind of environment. That they would be ready for anything. Finn was unable to get warm for days after. “Upriver in Stormtrooper armor. Can you?”
Poe’s shoulders droop as he smiles a real smile. “Fair enough,” he says and pauses to take a deep breath.
“Everything okay?” Finn asks, even though he can feel that it’s not.
“Yeah,” Poe grumbles, turning his attention back to the pack he’s grabbed. “Why do you ask?”
Finn looks down at his hands, clenched in his lap, before looking back up. “I may have overheard a little... tense conversation, downstairs,” he admits.
Poe bites his lip. “You heard that, huh?” He doesn’t sound angry; just embarrassed, mostly. Maybe a little apologetic.
“Just a little bit,” Finn replies.
Poe turns away, just enough so Finn can only see the corner of his jaw, to stuff the bag too quickly for Finn to take stock of what he’s grabbed. “He thinks I work too hard, that I don’t take good enough care of myself,” he says. “Sometimes I think he’s right, but I can’t give him the satisfaction.”
Finn considers for a moment before speaking. “I know you know this, but you’re lucky to have him, Poe. Don’t waste too much time being angry. And, besides,” Finn smiles, “Doesn’t he know that’s what I’m here for? To make sure you don’t run yourself into the ground?”
There is a moment, so brief Finn nearly misses it, when Poe looks down at his feet. Like he’s sad, or regretful. But it passes in a flash, and Poe smiles.
“I know you are, buddy,” Poe replies. He reaches out to clap Finn on the shoulder. “C’mon, let’s get going before it gets too hot out.”
Again, Poe’s eyes don’t match.
Whatever mood Poe had been in when they left Kes’s house (with a kiss to his father’s temple, all forgiven), it dissipates as soon as they reach the swimming hole.
It had been a long walk down, with Finn getting bitten by insects several times before Poe sprayed him with some kind of foul smelling mist. When they get there, though, Finn’s irritation at the small welts dotting his arms proves to be worth it. The pool isn’t overwhelmingly huge, but large enough that several people could swim comfortably. It’s also completely clear; Finn can see straight to the white sandy bottom, and the water is as green as the trees that surround and curve towards it, secluding it from all else.
When Finn looks to Poe, Poe is already turned towards him. He has a proud look in his eyes and the hint of a genuine smile forming on his mouth. “I love being able to see this through your eyes,” he says. “Keeps me from taking anything for granted.” Something about the way Poe says it makes Finn want to trace the lines at the corner of his mouth.
Finn blinks and turns his attention back towards the water. “I’m surprised it’s empty,” he observes. It’s a perfect spot, and the sun is shining perfectly, warm enough but not too hot.
Poe looks around as well, confirming the fact that they’re alone. “It’s early, yet,” he replies. He abandons the pack by the edge, where sand meets grass, and moves to tug his shirt off. “C’mon, let’s enjoy the quiet while we still can.”
Poe tears the rest of his clothes off and dives in without abandon, ripples of tanned muscle swiftly getting lost beneath the water. The shape of him grows distorted, moving beneath the surface so quickly that it’s hard to pinpoint where he starts and stops. He stays under for a long time, long enough for Finn to take off his clothes and follow him in.
What Poe failed to mention, however, is how close the water temperature is to Hoth. “Dameron!” Finn shouts through gritted teeth. His body seizes up almost instantly, every muscle in him screaming for him to turn around and get out.
Poe emerges to throw his head back and laugh. The sound carries over the stretch of water between them, sounding close enough to be in Finn’s ear. “It’s not that bad, you baby!”
“It is that bad, you good-for-nothing nerfherder! It feels like my balls are about to drop off!” Finn manages to call back, wrapping his arms around himself in an attempt to raise his own body heat.
Poe ducks underwater and reappears moments later within arm’s reach of Finn. Water drips off his eyelashes, down the slope of his neck, further towards the dip in his chest where Shara’s ring rests, gleaming proudly in the sunlight. “Well, we can’t have that, can we,” Poe says, and, before Finn can respond to that, Poe fits his thumbs into the creases of Finn’s elbows, pressing hard. The touch manages to ground him.
“Breathe through it,” Poe urges, and Finn suddenly remembers why he’d trust this man with his life.
Finn takes in as big of a breath as he can manage and lets it out through his mouth slowly. Focuses on Poe’s forehead, on the curl of hair that has sprung free to caress his temple. On the lines there, soft creases in sun-kissed skin. On the tiny freckles that appear sporadically on every inch of Poe’s skin that Finn’s seen up close.
As Finn’s eyes meet Poe’s, their feet brush. The water amplifies the touch, making it feel more expansive than it really is. Finn nearly kicks out to repeat the action, but thinks better of it.
“Sorry,” Poe murmurs as he pulls away. “Better?”
Finn just nods. Words evade him. The points where Poe’s thumbs sank into his skin burn, even now that Poe’s gone, turned away with creased eyes to dive into the water once more. He’s unable to look away when Poe emerges again, his back to Finn, showing off his broad shoulders and the way the tips of his hair just kiss where his neck meets his back. Tan, every inch of him so tan, here, and radiant. Beautiful.
Finn swallows hard and disappears into the water, allowing it to consume him.
The contrast between swimming in ‘trooper armor and now, swimming in absolutely nothing, is remarkable. The temperature is perfect now that Finn’s used to it, and the water supports every inch of him. It seems to move both around him through him, accommodating his form while also sinking into him. As weightless as he feels, Finn barely has to put in any effort at all into propelling himself forward. Just glides and flows like he watched Poe do and— fuck. Poe.
Finn pushes himself to dive further down, even though his lungs are squeezing, telling him to surface for a breath. He just needs another moment. He watches as a group of fish pass him, all in shades of blue and silver, before he lets go and allows his body to take him up to the surface and gasp in a huge breath of air.
Finn treads water for a moment, catching his breath, when he feels a sudden tug at his ankle. “Kriffing hell!” Finn screeches, kicking out, trying to escape, as Poe emerges beside him laughing once more.
“Is that why you brought me here?” Finn demands, panting from the sudden burst of adrenaline. “For your amusement?”
“Of course it is,” Poe replies easily, moving to float lazily on the surface with his hands behind his head, stretched out like a loth-cat. “If I did that to Kes, he’d put me in the ground.”
“As would be his right,” Finn says, splashing Poe.
Poe’s mouth drops open as he jolts, both amused and offended. “You’re starting a war you can’t win, General,” he warns.
Finn’s lips curl into a smirk. “Bring it on, General.”
They splash and dunk each other in the water, laughing and panting until the sun begins to rise to the highest point in the sky, drawing in sporadic groups of people looking to escape the heat.
They get out once more people begin to flood in and settle on a large, flat rock, nearby but secluded from the water’s edge by sparse trees. Poe throws a large blanket over the bulk of it before tossing Finn a towel from the bag he had furiously packed that morning, along with a big sandwich that Finn had watched Poe make and wrap up before they left.
Finn doesn’t want to act greedy, but he still hasn’t eaten; the sandwich is gone before Poe has polished off half of his. He flops down once he’s finished, feeling content. Even though every muscle in him aches, Finn is left so pleasantly sleepy that he thinks he could fall asleep here and have the best nap of his entire life.
So he does. He allows himself to drift, feels like he’s floating as what sounds like distant humming lulls him into a deep sleep.
Finn wakes up some time later to Poe stretched out beside him, propped up on one elbow and frowning down at a datapad. The bridge of his nose and tops of his cheeks have tinged slightly red from the sun as the rest of him has gone slightly darker, and his hair has almost completely dried and curled up more than usual so loose coils nearly fall into his eyes. He’s beautiful, Finn thinks, for the second time that day. He lets himself have the thought and accepts it for the fact that it is.
“That better not be work,” Finn finally says.
Poe smiles at Finn and sets down the datapad. “Not work, technically. I had BB-8 forward me relevant news, which I promised to only read recreationally. And infrequently,” he reveals.
“Hmm,” Finn considers, snatching the datapad up to read for himself: it’s an update on the political unrest on Onderon. Finn looks up and narrows his eyes at Poe. “This is completely and one hundred percent work! I’m telling BB.”
“Don’t you dare,” Poe protests. “They’ll be furious, and you know how they are when they’re mad.” He stretches over to snatch the pad back from Finn, resulting in Finn being eye level with Poe’s bicep. Poe retrieves the datapad easily from Finn’s slack fingers before rolling away.
Finn definitely knows; BB-8 has vindictively rolled over his feet more than once. They hadn’t been happy about being left behind, but getting to go with Rey to Ahch-To had served as consolation. “You know they can’t hold a grudge against you, though,” Finn points out. “That droid would follow you to hell and back, and you know it.”
Poe barks out a laugh. “They practically already have,” he points out, “But yeah, you have a point. They love me, or whatever the droid equivalent is.”
“He’s not the only one,” Finn comments, thinking of the various sentients he’s watched become enchanted with Poe over the years. Some successful in their pursuits, most not. If Finn had to guess, he would say Poe prefers men— human or not. They’ve never really talked about it, which Finn suddenly realizes is strange, now that he’s thinking about it. They’ve talked about Finn’s relationships— or, rather, lack thereof— but never Poe’s.
Poe’s voice draws Finn out of the thought. “Why did you ask to come here with me?” he asks. His tone is serious and thoughtful, biting his bottom lip as he waits for Finn to respond.
“Why did I ask to come with you?” Finn repeats. He feels stupid like he hasn’t in a long time. “I don’t understand the question.”
“Yeah,” Poe continues, “We work together, live in close quarters to each other. Hell, your face is usually the first thing I see on any given day. So, why would you want to come here and be forced to spend even more time with me?”
“We don’t actually spend that much time together,” Finn replies. Which is certainly true, to an extent. They work alongside each other, confer with each other on decision making, but they have their own individual teams that carry out separate tasks. There are days where Finn hardly sees Poe at all. “Besides,” he continues, “Working isn’t spending time.”
“But how aren’t you, like, sick of my general presence? Force, I would be,” Poe says. There’s a deep crease between his eyebrows that Finn briefly considers smoothing out with his thumb.
Finn swipes his tongue over his bottom lip while he considers. “I guess... You had just always talked about this place like it was some kind of paradise, ever since we met and I—” Finn looks to Poe, at how his jaw has gone slack as he listens, at his slightly parted mouth, and Finn— he moves his eyes back up to Poe’s. “We haven’t had a chance to stop and breathe, all that time, not until right now. So when you said you were finally going to come here, I knew I had to try to experience it for myself.”
Poe leans infinitesimally closer. “I already told you,” Poe says, his voice barely above a whisper, “You didn’t even have to ask.”
“You say that,” Finn points out, poking a finger against Poe’s chest, “Yet you still didn’t invite me.”
“I didn’t want to assume.” Poe ducks his head, then, and Finn watches as his dark eyelashes brush against flushed cheeks. “What your plans were, I mean. I figured you’d tell me, or eventually I would have.”
Finn narrows his eyes. “Uh huh. The night before, probably, giving me little to no time to prepare, pack, or give notice to our team.”
Poe’s mouth gapes as he scrambles for a comeback. “Okay, maybe!” he finally agrees. “So what? I like to be spontaneous.”
Finn finds himself smiling. “You like to be unorganized and fly on the seat of your pants,” he insists.
Grinning, Poe replies, “Maybe so, but it’s gotten me this far, hasn’t it?” He looks down at his hand that’s tracing circles on the blanket beneath them, smile slipping to make way for a thoughtful expression. “If I did, would you have said yes?”
Finn inhales sharply; there’s no point in pretending he doesn’t know what Poe is talking about. “Of course,” he admits.
Poe’s answering smile is nearly blinding.
They make it back to the house late afternoon, just as the sun has begun to kiss the horizon. Days are shorter here than Finn is used to, but it never goes completely dark due to the other three moons, of which at least two are visible at all times. Poe leads the way into the house, and they’re greeted by Kes in the kitchen, who’s putting a bowl into the conservator while something upbeat plays from a speaker nearby.
“Have a good day?” Kes asks. “You two were gone a long time.” His right eyebrow is arched in amusement, but Finn can’t tell what’s funny.
“Finn decided the pool was a good place for a nap,” Poe replies as he looks back at Finn and smiles. It’s a small jab at Finn’s expense, but somehow it makes him feel like he belongs, just a little bit.
“Can’t say I blame you,” Kes tells Finn with a smile. “I’m heading out in a bit for dinner at Saturo’s,” he continues, addressing them both, “And probably won’t be back until late. You two are on your own for dinner, but there’s dough for empanadas in the conservator.”
“He says he’s going for dinner,” Poe states, leaning against the kitchen counter, “When he really means he’s going to spend the night gambling and losing lots of money.”
“Hush,” Kes replies, but Finn knows there’s no heart in it.
Once Kes leaves, Finn ducks upstairs to rinse off in the ‘fresher while Poe begins chopping the vegetables. Finn offers to help, but Poe waves him off. “Go on,” he says, “There’ll still be plenty to do once you get out.” When Finn emerges, feeling warm and loose, he dresses in comfortable pants and a soft shirt that he thinks may have been Poe’s, once upon a time. It’s too nondescript to be sure, and Finn doesn’t really think it matters at this point, anyways.
Once Finn pulls the shirt over his head, he catches sight of the Force Tree through the open window, giving off its incandescent blue glow and beckoning.
Finn turns away from it after only a moment, but leaves the window open.
As soon as Finn reaches the stairs, the smell of meat and vegetables and spices simmering nearly overwhelms him. If this was three years ago, he may have drooled openly, but he has learned that it’s better to restrain his reactions to common things. He watches from above as Poe stands over the stove, using a large spoon to push around the contents of a large metal pan while he sways slightly, singing under his breath to whatever song plays from the speaker. Finn can’t understand the words, and he also can’t help how Poe singing them makes him feel.
Finn doesn’t know if he’s ready to think it, but the feeling swells up big in his chest, stealing his breath. It might be the most perfect moment that he can think of.
When Finn finally descends the stairs, Poe turns his head to look at him with a lazy smile on his face.
This is not the first time Finn has felt desire, not by a long shot. But it’s never been like this: so warm, spreading up his scarred spine through every nerve in his body. Never as gentle as this.
“Come on,” Poe says. “Help me fill the empanadas.”
Something in Poe’s voice reaches out, touches the deepest part of Finn. A part that light had never reached, before meeting Poe.
As they stand shoulder to shoulder in the kitchen, Poe demonstrates how to roll out the dough. He’s careful. Reverent. Finn knows Poe’s hands are rough and scarred, but they look delicate, now, as he presses dough flat with his palms and uses a metal circle to cut out perfect portions. He fills a circle with meat and vegetables, before folding it in half and crimping the edges with the tips of his fingers. Slight, purposeful movements. Poe, after catching Finn staring, gives Finn a portion of dough for himself.
Finn does his best to mimic Poe’s gestures, but his hands aren’t used to this kind of work. He can take apart and put a blaster back together again in his sleep, but these fine-tuned movements evade him. A near-lifetime in gloves has kept him clumsy.
Poe laughs softly, but it’s not unkind. “Like this,” he says, his voice honeyed in Finn’s ear. He moves to place his right hand over Finn’s to smooth out the piece of dough that Finn has succeeded in mashing up into a lumpy mess. He threads his fingers through Finn’s and shows him how to press the dough flat with the heel of his hand, working it in just to pull back and begin the motion again. Repetitive, but slow and gentle as a caress. They move together with Poe’s chest pressed against Finn’s shoulder, leaning in, pulling back. Over and over again, bodies moving in tandem until the dough in front of them is as stretched as smooth as Poe’s.
“Poe,” Finn says. There is no other word for the way he feels. Poe’s fingers remain laced with his own, resting together on the countertop, tacky from dough. Finn makes no move to pull away.
Poe’s answer is a quiet sigh that whispers against the skin just beneath Finn’s ear. Finn can’t see the emotion written across Poe’s face, but he can feel it: the longing, the caution, the tenderness. All directed towards Finn.
When Finn turns his head, Poe is there to meet his eyes, studying Finn’s gaze for something that Finn can’t name.
Kiss me. Poe’s voice, quiet in the back of Finn’s skull. But Poe does not lean forward, nor does he lean back. He continues to look into Finn’s eyes and waits.
Finn inhales before leaning in, brushing his lips against Poe’s. The kiss is the gentlest Finn has ever experienced, lingering even after Finn pulls away to search Poe’s wide brown eyes with bated breath. Poe, he thinks, mind emptying of all else.
Like he can hear it, Poe leans back in for a deeper kiss, wrapping his free hand to cup the back of Finn’s neck and hold him close. Finn’s fingers tighten around Poe’s as he turns his body to face him, to tangle his other hand in Poe’s hair, just to feel it. Poe’s soft curls welcome him, hold Finn’s hand firmly in place, and Finn pulls Poe, closer, closer, until Poe removes his hand from Finn’s to press it against the small of Finn’s back. Suddenly, they’re chest to chest, as close as they can be for the moment, and Finn suddenly has an idiotic urge to lift Poe up, to carry him up the stairs just to prove that he can, to lay him down on the bed and cover Poe’s body with his own. He almost does, hands hovering around Poe’s thighs, when Poe says, “Come on,” and grabs Finn’s hand.
So, Finn gets his wish regardless, but it’s Poe dragging Finn down to the bed with him, pulling Finn on top of him with sure hands. Finn goes easily. He moves with Poe, slotting a thigh between Poe’s legs and rolling his hips down while Poe pants unabashedly into Finn’s mouth. Finn is lost in Poe already, in the smooth and slick and perfect slide of his mouth, in the scrape of his chin and the sting of his teeth against Finn’s lower lip, in his tongue, hot and wet in Finn’s mouth and, Force, those hands, those perfect hands gripping his hips when—
“Wait, hold on,” Poe says suddenly.
Finn lifts his face from where it had been buried in the hollow of Poe’s throat, tasting there. “What’s wrong?” he asks. When he tries to swallow, he can’t quite manage it. Everywhere he was warm turns abruptly cold.
“Nothing, sorry, I just—” Poe cuts himself off, rubs both hands over his face before meeting Finn’s gaze. His eyes are rimmed red, and Finn realizes now that Poe is trembling, torso jumping beneath his fingers. “It’s just, it’s a lot at once. I’m a little overwhelmed here.”
“I’m sorry,” Finn says immediately, backing off, sliding away from Poe and to the other side of the bed. Of course it was too much, too quickly. What was he thinking? “I can go—”
Poe catches Finn’s elbow and pulls him back in. The pad of each finger warms Finn all over again: five points of perfect contact. “No,” Poe replies, “No, please, just. Lay down here, with me.”
Finn wants to laugh; with Poe’s eyes so wide and earnest, who would deny him a thing? He doesn’t, though. He settles into the circle of Poe’s arms, allows himself to be pulled until his cheek is resting on Poe’s chest. Finn is able to feel how fast Poe’s heart is beating, now, and wraps an arm around Poe’s torso in an attempt to anchor him.
“I’m here,” Finn says, even though it’s obvious.
Poe’s hand moves over Finn’s braids, to trace careful fingers over the exposed bits of his scalp. A long breath leaves him, and Finn can feel as his entire body deflates with it, relaxing all at once. “I know, buddy. I know you are. I just can’t even begin to unpack how much this means to me. How much—” Poe clears his throat. “How much you mean to me,” he finishes, voice low, shaky on the last syllable.
From this position, Finn can only see how Poe’s chest rises and falls with each breath and the way he holds it, now, as he waits for Finn to say something. So Finn leans up to look into Poe’s eyes, takes in the striking chestnut brown of them, before speaking. “Did you really think you were alone, in that?” he questions.
Poe blinks. “It felt like I was, sometimes,” he whispers.
Finn shakes his head. “You’re not, Poe,” he assures him, “You never were,” and Finn is struck by the trueness of it. He knows now that it has always been there, thrumming just beneath the surface, laced in every touch and look they ever shared. Something somehow bigger than them both, tying them together.
“Even when you were whispering secrets to Rey on Pasaana?” Poe tries, tone light, but Finn can feel the way his chest contracts as the words leave his mouth.
“Especially then, you stubborn bantha,” Finn states. He squeezes Poe’s torso, punishingly. “And I can’t believe you’re still going on about that, a year later!”
Grinning, Poe replies, “You know me better than to just let things go! I could’ve sworn you were about to confess your love to her, right in front of me!”
Finn shakes his head. “No. It wasn’t about that at all.” Poe’s body goes slack beneath his once more. “I promise I’ll tell you, when I’m ready.”
Poe nods, features going serious. His free arm moves to hold Finn around the waist, to tug him nearer; Finn lets him. “Okay,” Poe says. His relief is palpable.
“Oh, it was that easy, was it?” Finn replies, smiling widely.
“That easy, buddy. All you had to say was, ‘No, I’m not in love with Rey; you still have a chance, old man!’”
Finn feels a sudden rush of emotion towards Poe, longing to taste those lips again. He holds off, though, and says instead, “Shut up, you fool.”
The smirk that makes its way across Poe’s face is a slow one, intentional in the way Poe curls his lip up while his eyes drift down to Finn’s mouth. “Make me,” he prompts.
The urge to swat at Poe is strong, but the need to kiss him wins out. They kiss for a long time, the Force Tree casting a hazy blue glow around them that makes Finn almost think this must be a dream. But Finn’s dreams have never been quite this good, and Poe is so utterly, completely alive beneath him, reacting to every touch with a gasp or groan or touch of his own.
When the Force sings between them, Finn doesn’t fight it. Gives himself up to it, lets himself be open, and hears the songs of thousands of years in Poe’s sighs.
They still make empanadas.
Poe rolls out the remaining dough and cuts it into flat circles, and Finn fills them and manages to press the corners together neatly before dropping them into a pot of hot oil. He watches in awe as they puff up and turn brown and manages to only get burned once. Luckily, Poe is there to kiss it better.
They eat them standing in the kitchen, feeding them into each other’s mouths even though they’re too hot, and pastry flakes all over the counter and clings to their mouths. In between bites, Finn can’t stop himself from kissing Poe: on his mouth, his shoulders, his nose. Whatever part of Poe is closest. Poe returns those kisses with some of his own, punctuating them with tender touches. Poe handles Finn like he’s something precious, worthy of careful attention, and it makes Finn ache in the best way.
Kes arrives home late, as they’re cleaning up. He looks them over— only in their drawers, with Poe’s hair a mess— and says only, “You two better not be making a mess in my kitchen,” before disappearing into his bedroom.
Poe laughs and smacks a happy kiss onto Finn’s heated cheek. Finn, despite his embarrassment, can’t stop smiling.
Finn wakes up the next day feeling different. The sun streaming through the open window warms his skin, and he feels a pleasant at-oneness with the universe that, for once, doesn’t feel like a burden. It feels good. It makes him feel strong.
The best part is that Poe is plastered against his back, nuzzling into the nape of his neck. Finn reaches for the hand that’s resting on his stomach and threads his fingers through it, melting back into Poe’s body.
Poe’s hand squeezes Finn’s; the contact makes Finn’s stomach flop pleasantly. “You awake?” Poe asks.
Finn hums in ascent. “You’re up early,” he murmurs, drawing Poe’s hand up to his chest so Poe has no choice but to wrap himself more closely around Finn. He brings Poe’s knuckles to his lips, just because he can.
Poe laughs softly, close to his Finn’s ear. “It’s late, actually,” he corrects. “You slept in.”
“Good,” Finn says, stretching his shoulders out lightly. “Needed it, with how late you kept me up.” His mind rapidly scrolls through a selection of images, mostly featuring Poe’s hands and mouth and his tanned, bare skin. Finn bites his lip and arches his hips more purposefully towards Poe.
Poe takes his hand from Finn’s to curl his fingers firmly around Finn’s hip, holding Finn against him as his teeth graze Finn’s shoulder blade. “Regrets?” Poe murmurs into Finn’s overheated skin.
Finn turns his head to look at Poe. Sensing the real fear laced beneath Poe’s words, Finn states, “None at all. “You?”
Poe shakes his head. He’s trying to hold back a smile and failing as he replies, “Not a one.”
Finn rolls onto his back so he can thread his fingers through Poe’s hair and pull him in for a kiss. Poe’s breath is as unpleasant as it always is in the morning, but Finn sucks Poe’s lower lip into his mouth without a second thought. Poe sighs against Finn and presses closer, one of his hands running down Finn’s chest to spread over his stomach, heat gathering beneath his palm.
“You’re telling me we could have been doing this the entire time?” Finn pants when Poe moves to suck a kiss into his throat. Finn’s arms wrap around Poe’s waist to hold him close, feeling greedy with how eager he is to make up for lost time.
Poe pulls away from Finn’s neck and grins. “The entire kriffing time,” he confirms.
“I didn’t know you liked me like that,” Finn admits.
Poe raises his eyebrows, shifting back further to get a better view of Finn’s face. “You’re kidding, right?” he says. “I thought you knew and were politely not mentioning it. Everyone else did.”
Finn frowns at everyone. “But you never said anything!” he protests.
Sighing loudly, Poe replies, “I tried, after Exegol. Then 3PO interrupted, and you never asked what I was going to say, so I just… kept it to myself.” He bites his lip once he’s finished speaking, and Finn can feel the echoes of how Poe felt during that time period. The uncertainty and shame and anxiety and love he had carried.
“You should have just said,” Finn replies, running a thumb over Poe’s bottom lip to pull it free from between his teeth. “I’m no good at this feelings stuff. You have to be upfront with me.”
Poe’s body relaxes, melting back into Finn. “It’s not about being good or bad,” he explains, waving his hand somewhat nebulously in the space between them “It’s just about allowing yourself to feel what comes naturally to you and acting on it. There’s no exact science behind it, so I don’t want you to feel like you’ve been missing something.”
“That’s the exact opposite of what I’ve been taught my entire life,” Finn states. “I grew up having to stuff down my emotions, or risk reconditioning. I can’t just flip a switch and erase all of that. It’s going to take me some time for me to get a handle on this.” He doesn’t want to get into the details; he doesn’t want Poe to know what happened to the ones that didn’t fall in line. He hopes that Poe’s experience with Ren is for him to draw his own conclusions.
Poe tilts his head, like it’s finally coming together. “You’re right.” His hand moves from where it landed back on Finn’s stomach to rest his fingers along Finn’s collarbone. “I thought I was being obvious, but I should have just told you how I felt. From now on, I’ll be more clear.”
Finn’s hand moves to cover Poe’s. “It’s alright. I’ll learn. But, for now, subtlety isn’t my strong suit.” Finn stokes his fingers down Poe’s spine, feels him shudder against him. “Sorry it took me so long to catch up with you, Dameron.”
Shaking his head lightly, Poe replies, “Don’t be. The fact that it happened here…” A faraway smile blooms on his face before he continues. “It’s more perfect than I ever could have imagined.” He leans in to kiss Finn quickly, the briefness of the kiss only heightening the novelty of it. Finn is about to tug Poe back in for another when Poe says, “Besides, I knew you’d come around eventually. It was just a matter of when.”
Finn wants so badly to ask Poe about the Tree again. He says instead, “But how did you know?”
“I don’t know.” Poe’s brow furrows as he considers. “I just had a feeling, I guess. Do you ever get that?”
“Yeah,” Finn says. “Yeah, I do.”
Finn leaves Poe in bed on their last night on Yavin IV to cross the backyard and stand in front of the Force Tree, taking it in from a safe distance. He hears nothing now but the whisper of wind rustling its leaves.
He’s put this off, choosing instead to focus on spending time with Poe and settling into their new dynamic. Realistically, not much has actually changed; they still spend nearly all of their days together and sleep in the same bed at night. The difference is the touching, mostly, that always leaves Finn wanting more. He thinks it’s probably a good thing that they’re getting it out of their systems as much as possible, before they arrive back on base and are forced to maintain decorum. He’s made the most of every private moment they’ve had together and doesn’t regret a thing.
But he’s ready, now. A sense of calm flows over Finn as he finally steps forward to lay his hand on the Tree. He forces himself to keep his mind open as his fingertips brush against the bark, inhaling deeply.
At first contact, this time feels much like the first. Blue floods his vision and the voices overlap in a cacophony that makes Finn feel like he’s about to burst out of his skin. But he plants his feet into the earth and focuses, doing his best to shift through the white noise and allow the Force to move through him, into every nerve ending and blood vessel and molecule of oxygen that fills his lungs.
As the haze clears, Finn opens his eyes to see Leia standing in front of him, giving him a small, closed-lip smile. She stands there looking solid and formidable as ever, bathed in blue light that seems to come from within. “I’ve been calling you,” she says.
“General,” Finn gapes.
“There is no need to be afraid, Finn. The Force is strong, but you are filled with light. You will not allow yourself to be led astray,” Leia tells him. “Let the Force flow through you, as it is now, and your path will become clear.” She tilts her head, her smile growing wistful. “I’m proud of you. You have come so far.”
Finn finds himself almost overcome with emotion, but manages to croak out, “Thank you, General.”
A flash of something twinkles in Leia’s eyes. “Give my regards to General Dameron, would you? Tell that flyboy he’s done good.”
Finn’s smile almost hurts. “I will,” he promises.
With a nod, Leia vanishes, and Finn is left suspended as the energy of the universe continues to flow through him. Strongest is the lifepulse of the Tree; beneath Finn’s hands, it almost seems to breathe. He can feel its roots and how they cling to the soil to absorb its moisture. He can map the path of its veins, running underneath the bark and extending out through its branches. He can feel as its leaves vibrate with life and light as they welcome Finn into its embrace.
Finn leans forward to press his forehead against the bark; it’s slightly damp to the touch, but it feels as though it leans back into him, mirroring his action. A tear slides down Finn’s cheek as he finally realizes: he and the tree, they are made of the same stuff. He has a home, he has a family, and the Force connects it all.
Finn finally understands what’s coming next, and he’s ready for it.
Leaving Yavin IV hits Finn harder than he was expecting. Their packs are heavier now than they had been when they first arrived; Kes is sending them back with food and the bags of caf beans they had helped Sarturo roast on his farm once they’d finally made the long trek up the mountain. Finn hugs Kes for a long time as they say goodbye, tears pricking traitorously at the corners of his eyes. Kes’ voice is in his ear when he says, “Remember what I told you. Family takes care of each other. And you will be a part of this one for as long as you want to be.” Finn knows that Poe overheard when he hears a sniffle close by and looks up to see Poe ardently staring up at the sky. Kes just reaches out an arm to pull Poe into the embrace and smacks a kiss on his head.
As they ascend, Finn’s mood is lifted when Poe takes a detour to weave around the temples, making him laugh and white-knuckle his seat as Poe dips low enough so Finn can see the carvings etched into stone. Finn hopes it’s not long before they’re able to return. He’s going to miss this place, in a way he’s never had time to miss anywhere else.
Finn takes a deep breath once they’ve left the atmosphere. “I want you to know, Poe,” he says. “What I wanted to tell Rey in the sinking field.”
Poe leans back in the seat beside him, engaging the autopilot and giving Finn his full attention.
Finn takes a moment to look at Poe, taking in the small smile on his lips and the warmth in his eyes. The knowledge of Poe’s feelings spreads over Finn like a warm blanket. He may not fully understand how relationships work, or what the logical next step is when your boyfriend is also your best friend and co-general. But Finn does know that, as with everything, they’ll figure it out together.
“I’m Force-sensitive,” Finn states, hoping he’s not coming off as nervous as he feels.
Poe’s smile grows slowly but soon takes up his entire face. “I had a feeling, but… Finn, that’s incredible. Have you been training?” The last sentence is stilted; Finn knows that Poe’s afraid that Finn has been hiding this huge secret for him for a year and is trying to hide how much something like that would hurt him.
“With what free time?” Finn assures him, smiling. “No, I wasn’t ready then. I didn’t feel worthy of such a huge responsibility.”
“And now?” Poe presses, leaning closer.
When Finn speaks now, his voice does not waver. “And now I am. When we get back, I’m going to tell Rey that I’m ready to begin my training. I may need to step back from some of my duties, for a bit. Pending your approval, of course.”
Poe takes Finn’s hand and strokes his thumb over the palm. “Whatever you need, Finn. Force, I’m so kriffing in awe of you; it’s ridiculous.” His voice takes on almost a dreamy quality when he says, “From stormtrooper to Jedi.”
“I don’t know if I want to be a Jedi,” Finn admits, feeling his skin heat from Poe’s affection and the knowledge that Poe means every word he says. “But maybe Rey and I can form something new together, once I know more. Something not so limiting. Jedi aren’t supposed to form attachments, you know.”
“Oh?” Poe asks, feigning cluelessness. “Would you call yourself attached?”
Taking in the faux-innocent expression on Poe’s face, Finn is reminded how gone he is for this man. He can’t believe he kept it buried for so long. “Attached, symbiotically dependent. Same thing,” Finn grins.
Poe brushes off Finn’s comment with a warm smile. “We do make a great team, huh,” he states wistfully.
“We do,” Finn agrees, pausing before saying what he needs to. “So, when are you going to admit that you’re Force-sensitive, too?”
Poe releases Finn’s hand and ducks his head. “I don’t know how to feel about it,” he responds. “I had never felt it in a way that was undeniable, until I felt it through you. Like you’re my conduit, or something.”
Finn shakes his head. “It’s always been with you. The Tree told me, in not so many words.” It had given him glimpses of a young Poe, lounging in its branches and humming along to its song while his legs dangled in the air. “Leia told me to tell you she says hi, by the way, and that she’s proud of you.”
Rubbing a hand over his mouth, Poe inhales deeply. “She said that?” Her death still ached in his heart. It probably always would.
“Well, she said, ‘Tell that flyboy he’s done good.’ So, same thing.” Finn pauses and looks at Poe, who’s blinking rapidly, now. “It’s okay to feel conflicted, Poe. It took me a long time to come around.”
Poe takes another deep breath. “I just don’t want to feel like the Force is the only reason that I’m a good pilot, or a good anything. Feels like I’m cheating, now.”
“It’s not, Poe,” Finn assures him. “It’s subtle, in you; I can only feel it in the most intense moments. I don’t think you’re going to be the next Jedi master, but it does help make you one hell of a pilot, and that’s not cheating. Was Luke kriffing Skywalker cheating?”
Poe huffs but doesn’t respond to that; it’s how Finn knows he’s won the argument. “So when you say intense moments…” Poe trails off, eyes raking over Finn from head to toe.
“I’m saying, when you wanted me to kiss you in the kitchen, I heard you,” Finn answers.
“Well.” Poe stretches the word out, allowing Finn to bask in the low rasp of his tone. “This is giving way to all kinds of sexy potential.”
Finn bites back on a smile. “30 seconds ago, you didn’t want anything to do with the Force. Now, you want to use it to tell me you want a blowjob,” he states.
“Okay, first of all, I want to give you the blowjob. Some mighty Force-user you are,” Poe corrects, leaning in closer, eyes bright with mischief.
“I’m so sorry, General Dameron,” Finn replies, playing along. “It won’t happen again.”
Poe’s heated gaze gives way to something softer, and he traces the chain around his neck absently while he looks at Finn. “You know I love you, right?”
Finn grins. “Yeah, I know.”
“Good,” Poe replies on an exhale, following it with a smile so bright and beautiful that Finn wishes he had a cam to capture it. He leans forward to take Finn’s hand once more, placing a gentle kiss on his knuckles.
I love you too, Finn thinks at Poe, and he knows Poe’s heard when he feels a smile stretch across the back of his hand.