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“Finn, one meet-and-greet wouldn’t kill you.”

“Rey, the point of a pen name is that no one knows who the author actually is . You know, so people don’t bother you and stick their nose in your personal life.”

“But think of the children!”

“Rey, my books are written for adults.”

“Think of the middle-aged children!”

Finn glared at her from over his laptop. He loved Rey, but she could be a bit of a nag. She simply winked and went back to her cappuccino machine. He sighed, turning his attention back to the blank document on his screen. Finn had been suffering from writer’s block for some time now, struggling to find the motivation to put pen to paper (or, in this case, fingers to keyboard).

He glanced around, searching aimlessly for inspiration in the familiar space. The little bookshop and cafe he spent his days in, Millennium Books, was like a second home to him now, made even more comfortable by the presence of Rey, his closest friend, who owned the store. They were on the first level of the three story building, which served as a coffee shop and cafe, with a few small bookshelves lining the walls. The upper levels were where the towering bookshelves and cramped aisles were, where people could peruse the selections and sit down in the loveseats scattered in the corners.

Finn sighed, irritated. He loved the shop, but he was hardly going to find inspiration from dirty coffee mugs on the counter.

He looked back over at Rey, smiling softly at her mumbled swearing as she fumbled with the cappuccino machine. She had been the inspiration for his first novel, Jakku . Finn had never met anyone so strong, so filled with fire. When he’d needed to write a hero, he found that he hadn’t had to look very far to find one. She was his hero after all, and it only seemed fair that she get to be the rest of the world’s as well.

She was also, however, the most annoying person he’d ever met.

“Is this more of Black One , or a stand-alone?” Rey asked, going out from behind the cafe counter and toward the stack of magazines that needed to be shelved.

Black One was the best-selling series Finn had been writing for the past two years. There were two books out, beloved by critics and audiences alike. His other novels were well-received, but none had managed to create the kind of fanbase and fervor that Black One had. The series, named for the ship of its protagonist, centered around a space pilot who fought for a small rebellion against a fascist galactic empire.

“‘F.N. Solo’s Black One series has taken what could have been a run-of-the-mill space adventure and made it into something extraordinary. The young author has set a new standard for science fiction: from his distinctive writing style, to his riveting plots, to the truly remarkable complexity of his characters. I’d challenge any reader to try and put down Black Leader, the second of the series, after reading the first page. Believe me, it’s a challenge they would lose. This ongoing saga is one of the rare commercial successes that has real substance to it, that feels immediately timeless. How he manages to seamlessly merge difficult moral and complex issues with space battles and alien adventures, I will never understand. He is a defining voice of his generation, one that I am eager to hear more from.’”

Finn looked over at Rey, who had picked up a copy of Variety magazine and was reading the review of his latest novel aloud as she walked over to him. He felt his cheeks redden at the effusive praise and immediately grabbed it out of her hands, before she could finish reading the rest. He glanced at it quickly, intending to throw it in the recycling bin as soon as he could, but paused when he read the name of the critic. It wasn’t a critic at all, actually. It was a guest editor: Leia Organa.

Leia Organa, retired Air Force General turned Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist. Leia Organa , his literary idol. She’d written his favorite book, Alderaan . Finn still had his old (tattered, at this point) copy, from when he was 14 years old. Leia Organa was the reason he’d wanted to be an author in the first place, and she’d just written him a glowing review.

“Are you going to cry? Because even though it would be really sweet, I will make fun of you for the next two months at least .”

He gave Rey a half-hearted glare. “I’m not going to cry,” he said, which wasn’t exactly true. He was definitely going to cry, just later, when Rey couldn’t see him. “...I am going to save this, though. Maybe frame it. How much do I owe you for the magazine?”

“Finn, your hero just validated your entire career. It’s free.”

He smiled, before turning back to the article, determined to read it to the end, even if she did start to criticize his book. It was quiet for some time, until Rey spoke up.

“You know, if you did a meet-and-greet and actually let people know who you are, you’d get to meet Leia Organa.”

“Shut up.”

 

 

 

********

 

 

“So when do I get to read a draft?”

“When there’s actually a draft to read. I’m not supposed to let you read my manuscripts anyway.”

Rey grinned. “Yeah, but who would give you input on your leading man?”

Finn felt his cheeks grow hot. The protagonist of Black One , Han Xameron, had been inspired by a man Finn had monikered ‘Cute Dog Guy’ (“Poe, Finn. His name is Poe.”), who passed the bookshop every morning while walking his welsh corgi. He was possibly the most beautiful person Finn had ever laid eyes on. He came into the store every couple of weeks to grab some coffee and peruse the biography section, and every time Finn would hide in the back room, behind the cafe counter.

Finn wasn’t good with relationships, had never been. His last breakup had been three years ago, and it had been catastrophic. His girlfriend, Phasma, had been a complete asshole. The venomous things she’d said when Finn had tried to end things still kept him up at night.

So, two and a half years ago, when Cute Dog Guy had walked into the bookstore for the first time, Finn ran the other way, wanting to avoid all temptation while he licked his wounds.

That being said, his wounds had healed a long time ago, and he was still no closer to talking to Cute Dog Guy (“POE, Finn. I told you his name as soon as I met him!”). Rey talked to him all the time. She adored Cute Dog Guy, and the cute dog itself, BB.

About two months after Cute Dog Guy had literally walked into their lives, Finn had known three things about Poe Dameron.

The first: he used to be a pilot in the Air Force. He sometimes wore an Air Force cap, and when Rey had finally gotten around to asking about it she’d found herself almost regretting it. He’d immediately lit up and started talking about aeronautical mechanics and pulling out pictures of his old squadron. Rey had ended up spending the better part of an hour hearing old war stories.

The second: he was a smartass. Rey had informed him that the sass Poe throws her way rivals Finn’s own. She was still waiting for Finn to officially meet Poe, so that she could witness the ‘battle of the snark’. She was, however, insistent that Poe’s particular brand of banter was infinitely more charming than his own.

The third: he was a complete sweetheart. He brought his dog with him every time he went into town, and spoiled her rotten, according to Rey. He made sure to donate books to the store every so often, and came to help out when he could, like when a leak sprung over the children’s section. He’d even volunteered to help out at the store’s weekly story time when Finn had been in Los Angeles with his publishers and couldn’t do it himself. Rey had shown him pictures. He’d dressed up as a dinosaur. Finn would deny it until the day he died, but he’d swooned a little bit. In his defense, it had been unbelievably adorable.

Those three things were enough to give Finn an idea: a dashing space pilot, a commander with a heart of gold, who fought for a cause he believed in. A rebel who was charismatic and witty, who gave as good as he got. A rebel who puts his team before himself, who risks life and limb for the greater good.

Yes, Rey’s stories about Poe, the Cute Dog Guy, had sparked an image in his head: a hero for his story.

“I’m just saying! If you’re gonna base your protagonist on a guy you’ve never met, you should at least let me, someone who does know him, give you some pointers.”

“Rey, Cute Dog Guy is the inspiration for Han Xameron. They’re not carbon copies of each other.”

“Why do you insist on calling him that?”

Finn paused. “It’s easier. If I start calling him - ”

“His actual name?”

“ - Poe , that takes me one step further into awkward crush territory. If I keep calling him CDG, it helps me keep my distance, you know? It makes it less real.”

“Because calling him Cute Dog Guy for almost three years is a totally normal and healthy thing to do.”

“After last time - ”

“Last time was years ago, and Phasma was a nightmare. You’re not going to get your leg bitten off if you dip your toe in the water.”

“Why would you use that metaphor? You know how I feel about sharks.”

“I thought it was apt,” Rey retorted with a smirk. She held it for a time, before sighing. “Look, Finn, just - take baby steps, okay? You don’t have to go introduce yourself, or even ask him out. Just - you can call him ‘Poe’ without having the ghost of Phasmas past come back to haunt you.”

“If I let go of the Cute Dog Guy thing will you stop using metaphors?”



 

 

********

 

 

It was during week three of his writer’s block that Finn had his epiphany. He’d been in his apartment, staring blankly at the walls, when his eyes had fallen on an old manuscript of Jakku that he’d thrown on his bookshelf. His “a-ha” moment had been more of a “holy shit” moment.

He bolted out of his apartment and sprinted the four blocks to Millennium Books, throwing the door open with a bang.

“REY! I’m a genius! Fuck you, writer’s block! Suck my dick , Stephen King!” He crowed victoriously.

Finn looked over to grin at Rey, and froze.

She wasn’t alone.

Sitting at the counter before Rey was none other than Poe Dameron, Cute Dog Guy.

Who had just watched Finn be a complete fucking idiot.

Poe Dameron, whose first impression of Finn was going to be the younger man yelling profanities at Rey.

Finn was going to die.

He was distracted from his humiliation when he noticed Rey bent over, crying with laughter. Finn scowled, running over to grab her arm. He turned to Poe.

“Excuse us, please. If someone comes in and loots the register, we’re blaming you.” He pulled Rey up the stairs quickly, his cheeks burning. He slumped into one of the leather armchairs in the corner, defeated. “You could have warned me, you know.”

Rey still hadn’t stopped cackling. It was a little insulting, at this point.

“He can probably hear you laughing, you know.”

“I just - can’t believe you. Three years of awkward pining, and the first thing you say in his presence is ‘Suck my dick, Stephen King?’” She dissolved back into helpless giggles at that.

Finn groaned. “I know, I’m a trainwreck. Don’t remind me.”

“I’m sorry, but - how many times have you pictured him sucking your dick? And now - Stephen King ?”

He’d actually imagined it the other way around, not that it was relevant.

“I thought we’d agreed that anything I said while drunk off my ass on tequila would never be spoken of again.”

“What, like how you want to bend him over the nearest flat surface and - ”

“You see, that’s the exactly the kind of thing we agreed to not talk about.”

Rey patted his back consolingly. “Wanna distract yourself and tell me why you’re a ‘fucking genius’?”

Finn bolted upright, his earlier excitement returning full force. “Seon. From my first novel? What if she exists in the same universe as Han Xameron? They’re both sci-fi books, after all.”

Rey’s eyes widened. “You mean I get to be in two of your books?”

“Probably more than two, if she becomes a main character. Xameron’s gonna get separated from his squad in the new book, and he needed a companion. I always wanted to revisit her story anyway.”

Rey smiled softly, touched. Of course, she couldn’t let the moment go without teasing him. “I never knew I was such an inspiration. I’m practically your muse.”

“Well, you are my Rey of Seonshine .”

“I hate you.”



 

*********

 



Rey dragged Finn back to the cafe after about 20 minutes of him whining and moaning and trying to remain in hiding until the day he died. He’d thought it had been a pretty solid life plan. It had involved him living in the upper levels of the store, becoming a hermit, and never having to talk to Poe and therefore be humiliated ever again.

Rey hadn’t seen fit to leave Finn to his shame, instead choosing to take this opportunity to finally introduce the two men.

“It’s good to finally meet you,” Poe said with an amused grin and a firm handshake.

Finn paused. “...Finally?”

Poe chuckled, rubbing the back of his neck. Finn could have sworn his cheeks were red, but in all fairness it was a bit warm in the shop. “Uh - yeah. I mean, Rey’s talked about you, and I’ve seen you around, when I walk my dog and stuff. I’m surprised we haven’t met before actually.”

Rey snorted. “Yeah, Finn, why has it taken this long for you two to meet?”

Finn glared at her. She knew perfectly well why they hadn’t met, and it was because Finn was a complete loser who was incapable of dealing with his feelings. “I guess it was just bad luck.”

Poe beamed, oblivious to Rey’s teasing Finn. “So, let’s get to know each other a bit! Rey tells me you’re a writer?”

Finn shot Rey a sharp look. She shrugged with a grin, unrepentant. “Yeah, I...write for TIME . You know, the magazine?”

It wasn’t exactly a lie, per se. He had written for TIME . As a guest editor.

Once.

Three years ago.

What was he supposed to say? ‘Hi, I’m Finn, I wrote an internationally acclaimed bestselling series vaguely inspired by you without your permission?’

He thought not.

“Is that what your writer’s block was about? You know, the thing you told to go fuck itself?”

Finn flushed. “Yeah, kind of,” he smiled, albeit a bit embarrassedly. “Look, I’m sorry about that. I promise I’m not usually that...uh….explicit?”

Poe just laughed. “I’m not complaining. Believe me, I heard way worse back in the Air Force. Though none of it was aimed at Stephen King. He seems like a nice guy, Finn. What did he ever do to you?”

In all honesty, nothing. He was just the first author Finn had thought of. “Oh, um - I’m writing a review of his latest book.”

Poe raised a brow. “The one that came out four months ago?”

Shit. Of course he was a Stephen King fan. Why couldn’t he have just been into Agatha Christie or some other dead author? No new books, no new release dates that would contradict Finn’s blatant lies.

“Yeah, it’s a year-in-review type deal.”

“...in August?”

“I’m getting a head start.”

Poe shook his head, laughing. “Whatever you say, man,” he said, pushing himself off his stool. “I’d better head out. I have to go to the airport, sort out some paperwork,” he sent Finn a smile that was unfairly charming. “It was good to meet you, Finn. I’ll be sure to bring my dog BB next time, so you can meet the whole Dameron clan.”

Finn waved back faintly, still stuck on ‘next time.’ Next time? Finn barely survived this time, and it had only been about five minutes, max.

He turned to Rey after a good minute of just staring dumbly at the door, having a sudden thought. “Airport? But I thought you said he was retired?”

“Well, from the Air Force, yeah. He’s a Young Eagles pilot now,” At Finn’s blank look, she elaborated. “You know, they fly smaller planes around an open field and let the little kids sit in the cockpit and see all the controls and touch the wheel and stuff. He showed me pictures: they all have matching hats, him and the five year olds. It was really cute.”

“....are you fucking kidding me?”



 

********

 

 

 

“Remember when I said Seon was going to be in the third book?”

“What, like, two days ago?”

“I lied. She’s gonna be in the fourth.”

Rey groaned. “Fiiiiiiiinn, why? What happened to Stephen King sucking your dick? Was it all for nothing?”

“If Stephen’s gonna be sucking my dick, it’ll be over something well written.”

She sighed, sitting across from him at the corner table he’d appropriated for himself several hours (and cups of coffee) ago. She grabbed a piece of his croissant before leaning back to listen to Finn rant about narrative structures.

“You know how Black Leader ended with Xameron being sent on a top secret mission?” Rey nodded, having read the manuscript several times and served as a sounding board for months. She knew the plot and characters almost as well as Finn, at this point. “It’s not going to go very well.”

“Of course not.”

“The first fifteen chapters at least are going to be about him getting captured and then the escape, right?”

Rey grinned, picking up where he left off. “You wanna focus more on how he’s affected by his internment. He was gonna be stranded on Jakku with Seon, right?” Finn nodded. He’d given her a vague outline of what he’d wanted to do with ‘her’ character the day before.  “But he’s going to be more preoccupied with getting back to the Resistance than bonding in the sand. Besides, what would he need her for? She’s a pilot, but so is he. He doesn’t need her help getting off the planet.”

Finn sighed. “Exactly. I want her in the story, but I need her to have a purpose. Right now, she doesn’t have one.”

“Makes sense. So where are you right now?” She asked, gesturing to his laptop and the open notebook sitting on the table.

Finn paused, looking back at the blinking cursor on his screen. He’d been making some headway before he’d had his storytelling crisis and deleted seventeen pages.  So far he’d written the following:

‘Torture torture sad Xameron also maybe space magic? Space wizardry? Relive worst memories? Emotional trauma?

Also a daring escape.’

It wasn’t exactly George Orwell.

“...I’m brainstorming.”

Rey smirked. “Hey, by the way - Poe asked about you the other day. Said he was looking forward to seeing you.”

“Probably because he’s perfect, and he’s too good for this world.”

“Or because he thinks you’re cute, too.”

“Don’t mock me, Rey.”

Just then, the bell above the entrance chimed, signalling the arrival of a customer. Finn went to turn back to his laptop as Rey stood to greet them, but stopped when she slapped his shoulder, hard. He turned to her with a scowl, but she wasn’t paying attention, already moving toward the small corgi that was yipping excitedly at the door.

The small corgi.

The small corgi that belonged to Cute Dog G - Poe.

The small corgi that belonged to Poe was here, which meant Poe was here, and Finn was wearing sweatpants that were six years old and a t-shirt with holes around the collar.

Fuck .

“Finn!” Poe called cheerfully, oblivious to the younger man’s inner turmoil. “Fancy meeting you here!” He walked over and leaned against Finn’s table, his dog trotting at his heels. The corgi jumped up, putting her front paws on Finn’s lap. Finn reflexively started petting behind her ear, almost absent-mindedly, as he stared up at Poe’s stupid, perfect jawline.

“I knew she’d like you,” Poe said, smiling down at the two of them fondly. Well, staring down at his dog fondly. “BB’s always had good instincts when it comes to people. My last boyfriend was an asshole, and BB knew it all along. She knew sooner than I did, that’s for sure.”

Finn who’d been taking a sip of his coffee with his free hand, promptly choked on his drink, coughing violently. Poe leaned over, rubbing his back soothingly.

Which was not helpful, given that he’d just given Finn’s pathetic crush new wings.

Boyfriend?

Once it became clear that Finn was not going to die of asphyxiation, Poe turned to Rey. “Hey, so I started that book series you recommended, the one about the space pilot? It’s kind of amazing.”

Finn had deemed it safe to take another sip of his coffee and found himself regretting it as he immediately sprayed it across his laptop screen.  Poe looked over, raising a brow.

“....it was really hot?”

Poe chuckled, giving Finn a friendly slap on the shoulder. “Man, today is not your day, is it?”

“Oh, you have no idea.”

Rey laughed at the scowl Finn sent her way, instead turning the conversation back to the book. “Isn’t it great?”

Poe lit up as he started to tell Rey about his favorite parts about his favorite characters, and how much he loved F.N. Solo’s writing style, and how could he not have read this series before? It was making Finn’s heart do funny things, to hear Poe talk about his book in such a way.

“....and god, the way this guy just gets it, when it comes to the military and the bonds you form. If I didn’t know better, I’d think he was a veteran himself. Right now Han’s considering leaving the Republic to join the resistance, and man, I hope he does. There comes a time when your ideals and your heart have to outweigh your sense of duty, you know?”

Finn gaped at Poe. Good lord, he really was Xameron. To a startling extent. It would seem that Finn’s romanticizing of Poe from afar wasn’t entirely off the mark.

“Do you think this guy knew Han Solo?”

Rey and Finn startled at that. “Why do you ask?”

“I mean, for one thing, his pen name is F.N. Solo . And then he names his protagonist Han? It can’t be a coincidence.”

As Rey floundered for an explanation, Finn blundered his way through a half truth. “I think I read in an interview somewhere that Han Solo helped the author through some tough times when he was younger, right after he left foster care. He said something about Han giving his first manuscript to an author he knew.”

It was true, although Finn hadn’t read it anywhere. When he and Rey had aged out of the system, they’d been lost, and hadn’t known where to go. Han had found them trying to break into a car, and instead of reporting them, he’d given Rey a job at his auto repair shop, Finn a meeting with an agent he happened to know, and a roof over their heads until they got back on their feet. Even after the two of them had moved out and found their way, they’d remained close, until Han’s death a few years ago. Finn had chosen Solo as a pen name because he owed his literary career to the older man, but he named his hero Han as a way to honor his friend.

Poe laughed. “That sounds like him, although I’d bet good money that he spent the whole time complaining and pretending to be really grumpy about the whole situation.”

He had.

“You knew Han?” Rey asked, her voice a little strangled. She’d been much closer to Han than Finn: he’d been like a father to Rey, and his death had been hard on her.

“Yeah. He and my parents all fought together in the War. I was probably six months old when he met me. He was a good guy.”

Rey smiled wistfully, before bombarding Poe with questions about Han. What was he like when he was younger? Was he always so crotchety? Have you met his son? Did he really make the kessel run in such a short distance?

Finn turned back to his computer, smiling as he wiped it off and went back to work. He was happy for Rey: she finally had someone other than Finn to tell all her stories about Han, and someone to tell her some, too.



 

********



 

‘Han had never been the type to flee when the fight came his way. If there was no light at the end of the tunnel, Han would blow a hole in the ceiling, make his own way.

But didn’t know if that was true anymore. It seemed so much easier to just give up, to roll over and let the world over take him.

Every time he closed his eyes, all he could see was that gloved hand reaching out, that cold, empty mask looming over him. Worse were the visions that hand, that mask, had unearthed: he saw his mother’s lifeless face; his squad being shot out of the sky over and over and over again; General Orlaith’s disgusted face, calling him a traitor, a failure. His deepest fears, his worst nightmares, the memories that haunted him: they were all torn from him without his consent, like they were nothing.That monster had broken his mind, had violated him, had reached inside Han and taken everything, and what had been left behind was a shadow of the man he’d once been.

So here he was, sitting in a seedy bar, nursing a cold drink when he should have been sidling up to the nearest cargo hauler and sweet talking his way onto a freighter, or maybe even scamming some drunks out of their pocket money in a game of darts so that he could buy a ticket from a travel agency. Instead he was hiding in the corner, spooking at every shadow, flinching every time someone so much as looked at him.

Han wondered if they saw what he saw. If they saw him as he truly was: weak, pathetic, empty...He wondered if they could tell, just from his bruised and battered face, that he wasn’t - he wasn’t a person anymore.

He was a shell.’

 

Finn paused, leaning back from his laptop. It was easy enough to get across Xameron’s suffering, but he had to admit he was out of his depth. He’d never been a soldier, never been in an active battlefield, been a prisoner of war. Finn had experienced grief, sure, he’d been lost, and scared, but not like this.

Well, this was going to be a depressing research session.

He saved his document, opened up his browser, and pulled out a journal for note-taking. He searched ‘prisoner of war’, ‘P.T.S.D.’, ‘shell shock’: anything that could give him some insight into the mind of a veteran. If he was going to write about Xameron’s post-traumatic stress, he was going to do it right. He was going to learn from those who had actually experienced and were dealing with it, instead of just going on Wikipedia or Encyclopedia Britannica.

Finn was about an hour into his research when he stumbled upon a video that had been uploaded to New York University’s youtube page: ‘Former P.O.W. Gives Talk on Post-Traumatic Stress’.

Well. Got it in one.

He clicked the link, and promptly dropped his pen as Poe Dameron walked onto the auditorium stage. He paused the video immediately, scrolling down to see the publishing date: it was uploaded about six months before Finn and Rey had first seen him.

Shit.

 

 

*********


 

 

Rey picked up on the first ring.

Millennium Books , Rey speaking.

“I have a problem.”

“...hello to you too, Finn.”

“I’ve written twenty chapters, twenty good chapters, twenty chapters that I’m really proud of.”

“....and the problem is?”

“I’m doing research on P.T.S.D.? You know, like we talked about?”

“Yup, yup, gotcha.”

Finn sighed, running his hand over his face. “I was looking through first hand veteran accounts, and I found a video of Poe.”

“Oh my god, is he in porn? Does he do porn? How did you find porn with Poe in it while you were doing research?”

“REY. Poe’s not in any porn that I know of,” And wasn’t that a thought? But Finn, unlike Rey, apparently, had his priorities in check. “...he’s in a lecture. As in, he’s giving a lecture.”

“Oh. Oh no. What about?”

“I’ve only watched about half, but he was apparently a prisoner of war for several months. He’s a war hero, and he’s devoted his time to teaching children how to fly and inspiring the masses.”

“So, even though you were trying to put some distance between Poe and Xameron with this whole P.O.W. thing, you’ve failed spectacularly.”

“Thanks for putting it so bluntly. What do I do?”

“Keep writing. Finish, and in the next few weeks, we’ll put a feeler out, see what Poe would think about something like this. About a character being based on someone without their knowing. If he feels really strongly, about it, we’ll work around it. You can go in a different direction. Or, at least try.”

They hung up soon after, and Finn turned back to the video: Poe was standing on the stage, having just finished a Q&A. He pressed play.

 

-

 

“....I’m not a powder keg about to explode, and neither are any of the veterans in your lives. It’s not like in the movies. I don’t see a ceiling fan and suddenly attack a loved one because it reminded me of a helicopter propellor. I’m looking at you, Grey’s Anatomy.

 

What I am, is stressed. I know, it’s in the title: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. But it’s true. There’s an anxiety that comes with P.T.S.D. that feels like it’ll never go away.

 

I used to live in the city, you know? But I got back, and suddenly it was too much. Too much noise, too many people, too many crowds: it was overwhelming. Like I said, most of us aren’t about to fly off the handle every time we have a flashback, but being in an environment like that, where I could be triggered all too easily, isn’t safe for me, and it isn’t an ideal situation for those around me. There’s an added level of paranoia that comes with this kind of anxiety….How do I explain….?

 

Look, I knew every exit from this room as soon as I walked in. I spent a good five minutes staring at the guy in the red shirt in row three earlier because he kept messing around with something in his jacket. My first instinct was gun or knife: it was a pack of cigarettes. And you, my man in the green jacket, row seven? You looked really uncomfortable when you were getting into your seat, almost like you snuck in or something. Like you weren’t supposed to be here. You see, I notice things like this, because there’s a part of me that never turns off. I’m constantly looking out for new threats, new dangers, no matter where I am. That’s who I am, now.

 

I’m sure you’ve heard the stories: flashbacks, nightmares, panic attacks - it’s true. Things can get pretty ugly in this steel trap of mine,” he taps his head lightly before pausing, searching for words. “Imagine the worst moment of your life. The scariest thing that’s ever happened to you. Now, imagine reliving that moment. Over, and over, and over again. Only it’s not exactly as it was. Now, it’s even worse. Now, everything is exaggerated, everything is more vivid and slightly wrong. Now, you’re anticipating what’s already going to happen, because you’ve been there before. I don’t know if that part makes it better or worse, to be honest,” Poe says, chuckling humorlessly and looking down at his hands.

 

“I’m not telling you this because I want you to feel bad for me. In fact, the last thing I or any other veteran dealing with P.T.S.D. wants is your pity. We want you to understand. We want you to listen to us, to be there for us. We don’t need you to ‘fix’ us: we need you to help us, if we ask. There’s a difference. We’re not broken, we’re not some sort of doll with a missing arm or ripped seam. Our baggage might be a little more...intense… than some of yours, but we’re still just people.

 

If there’s one thing I want you to take away from my lecture, it’s this: if you know a veteran, or anyone, who is suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress, make sure they know they’re loved. They’re not broken, we’re not broken, but we can’t help but feel like it, when our minds and our hearts feel out of our control. It’s easy to feel pathetic, or weak, when there’s so much to be afraid of, so much that could hurt us, both in our memories and around us. Make sure they know that they are not alone. Remind them that they are worth your love, your support. It’s an ongoing battle, but it’s not one they have to fight alone. You’re not their savior. You’re their partner, their comrade. Fight the battle with them.”

 

-

 

The audience burst into applause, and Finn stopped the video. Well, it seemed that he had already gotten some things right. But he was also in a world of trouble.



 

********

 

 

 

“Poe, how would you feel if someone based a book on you without your permission?”

Finn kicked Rey under the table, hard. When Poe had stopped in to say hello and grab some coffee, Finn had planned on taking the opportunity to feel him out. You know, ask some questions, hint politely. As opposed to Rey’s technique, which was apparently blunt force.

“Oh, um - I don’t know. I guess it would depend? What do you mean, like a character being inspired by you? That sounds flattering, don’t you think?”

Rey took a sip of her coffee, hiding her smug smile behind the brim of the mug. She shot Finn a wink. He rolled his eyes.

Poe looked between the two of them, perplexed. “What’s this about?”

“Oh - uh - Rey found out that she was the inspiration for a book. I felt funny about it, Rey didn’t.”

It was true, in part: when he’d written his first draft of Jakku , his debut novel, he hadn’t told Rey about it at all. It wasn’t until he’d finished the manuscript that he even let her read anything, let alone tell her she was the inspiration. Finn had spent nearly a year agonizing over basing a character on her without her permission, and she’d been ecstatic.

“Okay, say, hypothetically, your parents were shot and killed in an alley right in front of you when you were eight. And someone tried to use that tragedy as inspiration. Unintentionally or not.”

“Well, like I said, it depends. If someone used my hypothetical pain to turn me into an angsty murderer or something, I wouldn’t be very pleased. But if someone took my story and made me into, I don’t know, Batman ,” he said, smirking at Finn. “I think it would be kind of cool.”

“See? Who wouldn’t want to be Batman?” Rey said, slapping Finn on the shoulder. “I told you.”



 

*******

 

The moment Finn knew he was done for came on a rainy Sunday afternoon. It had been a bleary, blustery day, and Finn had taken one look out the window and seriously considered simply crawling back into bed. It didn’t help that he felt like death, his head was pounding, and his nose was practically a river of snot.

Still, he’d told Rey he would meet her for lunch, and a promise was a promise. Although Finn was about ready to go back home when he walked into the store and Rey burst into laughter at the sight of him. Honestly, just because he was wrapped in his quilt and wearing pajamas and octopus slippers didn’t mean it was okay to take joy in his suffering.

“A little sympathy would be nice,” he croaked hoarsely, pouting at Rey.

“It’s a cold. You’ll live,” she replied, the heartless jerk. “I called Poe, by the way. I figured you wouldn’t be up for reading to a bunch of five year olds today.”

Finn’s eyes widened, horrified. “Oh shit, I completely forgot,” he paused, thinking over where they’d left off last week. “Damn, we’re on chapter seven. I love that chapter: Harry’s about to get sorted into Gryffindor…”

“Finn, you love every chapter.”

They continued to bicker over Harry Potter until the families slowly began to trickle in, wandering up to the top floor, where one of the corners was dedicated to children’s books and ‘story time’. Over the years, Sunday Stories had become quite popular, garnering a crowd of about twenty to thirty kids, depending on the weather. Finn was sure that it was because of the giant beanbags littered around the kid’s section. Rey was sure that it was because of Finn’s unbridled enthusiasm for children’s literacy.

They were still waiting on a few regulars when a beaming Poe walked in, dressed in wizard’s robes, holding a wand and a cup of tea, and wearing a pointed hat.

Finn just about swooned.

“Hey guys!” He paused when he saw Finn’s face. He had no idea what he must have looked like, but he imagined it was not unlike the face one made when they were having a stroke. “…We are reading Harry Potter, right? I hope I didn’t come in the wrong costume…”

Rey grinned. “No, we definitely are. Finn’s just… surprised by your enthusiasm. We’re on chapter seven. You can head on up, Finn and I are just going to finish our coffee and then we’ll catch up.”

Poe’s face visibly brightened, even more than it already was. “Chapter seven? That’s a great one! I’m so glad we’re at Hogwarts already: my Maggie Smith impression has been well-honed over the years.”

Finn felt his eye twitch. “You – you know the chapters? You have the chapters memorized?”

“Well, obviously. We Gryffindors don’t do things by halves, you know. What house are you guys? Wait – let me guess: Rey’s gotta be a Hufflepuff, and Finn…maybe a Slytherin? I could see that.”

Rey grinned, nodding, before looking over at Finn’s stricken face and snickering.

Yet again, Rey was laughing at Finn’s struggles. She was such a terrible friend.

“I didn’t realize you were such a big fan, Poe,” she said, still chuckling at Finn.

“Oh yeah,” Poe paused, his face coloring a bit. “Sometimes I read the books to BB. I think the sound of my voice helps her relax. Or maybe it’s just me trying to justify rereading Harry Potter for the hundredth time,” He shrugged. “Anyway, I’d better head up. See you in a bit!”

They stared after him for a moment, still reeling from the sheer cuteness of the whole exchange. Suddenly, Poe reappeared, still holding his travel cup.

“I almost forgot! Rey told me you were feeling under the weather Finn, so I brought you some ginger tea! My mom always gave it to me when I was sick. I don’t know if it actually helps, or if it’s psychosomatic at this point, but I thought I’d bring it all the same,” He walked over, handing Finn the cup before leaning over to readjust his quilt from where it had fallen off his shoulder. “By the way, love the outfit,” he said with a wink.

As soon as Poe was back upstairs and out of earshot, Rey whipped her head around to Finn, grinning almost evilly. “On a scale from the Gobi to the Sahara, how thirsty for him are you right now?”

“Rey, I’m basically Lawrence of Arabia.”



 

********




 

Here was the thing, Finn realized: Poe was so different than he’d imagined. Not that he’d imagined , per se, but when you base a character on someone, you get some ideas about the kind of person they might be.

He and Poe had been spending more and more time together over the past six months, as Poe went from passing by as he walked his dog every day to stopping in for coffee every day, mid-walk. He came by so often that Rey had invested in a dog bed and some toys for BB to use while Poe sat with the two of them. Finn had gotten to know the older man pretty well, and he found himself more enchanted as each day went by.

So yes, Poe was different to Han Xameron: he was better. Xameron was just fiction, a character trapped within 900 pages, hundreds of thousands of words. But Poe? Finn could write for a thousand years and never truly encapsulate him.

How could he ever convey the exact look on Poe’s face as he gleefully poured four packets of sugar into his coffee? Or the pleased smile he made after his first (probably disgusting, in Finn’s opinion) sip? Or the way his face lit up when he talked about the kids he worked with?

How could he describe, in words, the exact sound of his voice as he talked to BB? How he cooed and doted on her, like a parent over their newborn? Or the soft, wistful cadence of his voice when he spoke about his mother? About the friends he’d lost in the Air Force?

No amount of poetic prose could quite capture the way his nose and eyes crinkled when he laughed, or the way he leaned into Finn as he did it. Or the little dimples in his cheeks. Or the pretty shade of pink his cheeks flushed when he was embarrassed. Or the way his leg bounced when he was reading, like he had too much energy to just stay still for a moment.

Or how he said his favorite color was blue, but every time he helped Rey paint her nails he always reached for the orange polish. Or how he knew every line of Jurassic Park , and every word of every ABBA song. Or how he cried every time he watched The Lion King , but couldn’t resist because ‘Hakuna Matata’ was so damn fun. Or how he normally read biographies and memoirs because “you can never learn enough, Finn, but I would not make it through a book about plants or rocks or god, math .” Or how he sang to himself when he helped Rey shelve books or bake muffins for the cafe, when he thought no one was watching. Or how he -

Anyway, the point was: for all that Finn had agonized over basing a character off Poe, he found it easier to write Xameron now that he’d gotten to know the man. He’d always had a firm idea of who his protagonist was as a person, but now that he knew Poe, he could see that the character was so very different to its inspiration.

Xameron could pilot a submarine, if necessary, but Poe hated sharks, and would never dream of going into the deep sea.

Xameron was cocky and brash while Poe was humble, and almost embarrassed to talk about his accomplishments.

Finn had never given much thought to Xameron’s ass, whereas Poe’s...he’d thought about it, fantasized about it, jacked off to it, dreamt about it - he had a lot of thoughts about Poe’s ass. Xameron’s? Not so much.

Xameron was a Pisces, and Poe was a Leo. Not that Finn held much stock in those kind of things, but...it was something to think about. Finn was a Sagittarius, and according to Rey, that meant he and Poe were extra compatible.

Not that Finn cared.

Just an observation.

He’d wondered, at first, if he would be tempted to add in all those little Poe-isms into his characterization, but -

All those little details, those things that made Poe, Poe - he didn’t want to share that with the rest of the world. He’d earned Poe’s smiles, his laughs, his kindness, and he wanted to keep them for himself.

Finn’s hopeless crush was getting dangerously close to love. It was a cliff Finn was wasn’t sure he was ready to jump off, but it would seem that he already had one foot dangling over the edge.



 

********

 

 

Finalizer was a hit.

Not that there had been any doubts.

Well, not that there had been any doubts on Rey’s part. Finn had had plenty of doubt to go around.

Rey had been convinced that it was the best of the series, and Finn had been convinced that he should give up writing entirely, because it was obviously a disgrace to literature.

Although, Rey’s initial reaction upon reading the manuscript had lifted his spirits a bit. She’d taken it upstairs, curling up on one of the love seats in the reading areas while Finn managed the cafe for her. Several times, she’d come down to yell at Finn about toying with her emotions, or to cry onto his shoulder, or to literally scream with excitement, or to beg him to ‘just tell me how it ends, for fuck’s sake, I can’t wait another 200 pages.’

It had been encouraging, to say the least.

Poe, after it was published, had raced into the store to talk to Rey, eager to talk about the newest book in ‘that space series you recommended!’ (Finn should have been irritated that Poe couldn’t seem to remember the name of his books, but instead he found it rather charming. Dear God, he was in too deep.) It was especially gratifying to hear that Poe was impressed with F.N. Solo’s handling of the protagonist’s P.T.S.D.: “It’s clear that the guy did his research, which I really appreciate. A lot of people would have just gone with what they’ve seen in movies, but it’s obvious that he cared enough to look into veteran accounts.”

All in all, things were going pretty well for Finn.

Naturally, it all went to shit, as things were wont to do.

The problems started, as most problems always seemed to, with money.

Since he’d published his first novel, Finn hadn’t really had any issues with money (a fact that he was still getting used to: growing up poor in an orphanage and living rough for a time built money habits that were hard to shake), but Rey hadn’t been so lucky. It wasn’t that the store wasn’t doing well: it was the nicest bookstore in town, and the coffee and food from the café ensured even the customers who had no interest in reading, whatsoever.

But Rey had taken out a mortgage on the storefront and paid rent on her apartment every month, and it was taking its toll.

Not that Finn would have known, if he hadn’t stopped by her apartment one night to give back a pot he had borrowed, only to find Rey sitting at her counter, her eyes puffy and red and tears running down her face.

“I knew I should have just moved into the top floor of the store. I was just so set on that godforsaken kid’s section, and now I’m on the brink of being evicted because I was too stupid. I don’t know what to do, Finn. What if I have to sell the store to make ends meet?”

Finn sat with Rey on her couch, wrapping an arm around her as she leaned her head on his shoulder. The obvious thing to do would be to have Rey move in with him. Finn’s apartment wasn’t enormous (another habit from his poorer childhood: never take more than you need), but he had a spare bedroom from back when Han would come to visit, and he’d be glad for the company. Besides, it hadn’t really felt like home these past few years without Rey around, anyway.

The real issue was the money. Finn would be happy to lend her as much money as she needed, but he knew that Rey was too proud to accept it. She was so fiercely independent, so determined to provide for herself: she refused to take any kind of ‘charity’, even if it was a loan from someone who loved and cared for her. So he stayed quiet, and schemed.

It took Finn about two minutes to figure out what to do, but it took another ten hours for him to make the tough choice: if he went through his plan, nothing would ever be the same.

His publicist just about hit the roof when he called her, and he couldn’t be sure, but it honestly sounded like his editor was crying with joy after he told her the plan: he would do a book signing, his first ever, at Rey’s store. Blowing his cover, so to speak, wasn’t something he’d ever planned on, but in the end Rey came first. Rey always came first. If bestselling author F.N. Solo’s first public appearance didn’t attract business, nothing would.

Of course, he couldn’t implement his plan immediately. First, he had to get the word out without tipping Rey off. Then he had to figure out a way to set up the storefront and stock the store while she wasn’t there.

Finn had never been so grateful that Rey didn’t have a twitter.

His solution to setting up the store without her noticing was to simply steal her keys and break in in the middle of the night.

...it worked, at least.



 

**********



 

Finn ended up falling asleep in one of the bean bag chairs on the top floor at 3 A.M., after spending half the night preparing for his first book signing. He was amazed he’d managed to get any rest at all: he’d never been so anxious in his entire life, he was sure.

He’d set an alarm for 7:30, so he could go meet Rey when she went to open up the store. He walked downstairs, only to find her already there, looking around in shock.

“Finn...what’s going on? There are hundreds of people lined up outside. And all this F.N. Solo and Black One merchandise…?”

Finn walked over, hands raised placatingly. “Okay, so don’t be mad. I may or may not have broken into the store without your permission.”

“I can see that. Why?”

“F.N. Solo’s making his first public appearance today at noon at the Millennium Falcon bookstore, and I assume those people are fans. I’ve never officially met one though, I’m not sure what they’re supposed to look like.”

“But what about - ”

“I’m sorry I broke in without permission, but I thought it might help give business a little bump, at least for the month, so you can pay your rent and mortgage and then move in with me.”

“But Finn - ”

“I know I might have overstepped, but you were so worried about having to give up the store, and I just wanted to help - ”

“FINN,” Rey raised her voice just enough to cut Finn off, staring at him with an unreadable look on her face. “Did you go public, did you give up your privacy, for me?”

Finn shrugged. “I know my priorities.”

He suddenly found that he couldn’t breathe, as Rey had thrown herself at him in a bone-crushing hug. “I don’t know what I did to deserve you.”

He smiled, burying his face in the crook of her neck.

Rey pulled away after a time, clearing her throat and wiping her eyes. “Alright, enough of this wishy washy bullshit. I’ve got a lot of micromanaging to do before we let the masses in.”

Three hours (and a lot of cleaning) later, Rey opened the doors.

And it was incredible.

Finn had spent all of this time hiding away, trying to maintain his individual freedom, but he hadn’t even realized what he was missing out on. Hundreds of fans, young and old, had come to see him , had come to talk about his work , about what it meant to them. It was easily the most rewarding experience of his life.

That didn’t mean that there weren’t some odd moments.

A group of girls came up, tittering with excitement. The apparent ringleader spoke up as he was smiling for a picture with one of the younger kids. “Mr. Solo, if you had to choose between Chris Pratt, Chris Evans, and Chris Hemsworth, which one would you pick to play Han Xameron in a movie?

To which he said, perplexedly: “You do realize Xameron isn’t white, right? I spent a good two hours trying to think of descriptors that weren’t just ‘coffee-colored’ for his skin tone; I hope it didn’t go to waste.”

Another girl asked him whether or not Xameron was going to hook up with Darth Revan.

“I mean, I’m not saying that the dynamic isn’t something I’ll explore later on, but...he literally tortured Xameron? Like, the dude invaded his mind without his consent. I don’t really see anything remotely romantic about that.”

When she brought up the way Revan had carried Xameron onto the enemy ship (bridal style, essentially) Finn just sort of stared. “Well, yeah, he did carry Xameron. Onto the enemy ship . To torture him.”

“But what about when Revan’s like ‘You know I can take what I want…’ Like, come on, that’s totally flirting, right?”

“I mean, I’ve always thought it came off a bit rapey. That was kind of the point. Listen, how many times have you read Twilight ?”



 

********

 



About three hours in, Rey intervened and called for a 20 minute break.

As soon as they were in the back room, she turned to him with a huge grin. “Man, the entire town is going to have a huge boost in business. I can’t even believe how many people are here. It must be at least four hundred.”

Finn shrugged. “I guess you’re gonna have to keep the bookstore after all.”

She beamed at him. “I started a twitter just for this occasion: I wanted to see what people were saying,” She smirked, before reading a tweet out: “Okay gang I have an update F.N. Solo is a young hot cutie and I almost fainted when I saw him omg!”

Finn blushed. “Oh my god, you’re making that up. Stop.”

“Oh, here’s another one: ‘F.N. Solo is a babe fyi you are not ready. Hashtag thirsty.’”

“Rey, please.”

“You’ll like this one: ‘My little sister asked F.N. Solo who his favorite superhero was and he said ‘Why you are, of course!’ Omg i’m gonna die how cute is that.’”

Finn smiled at that. The girl, Samantha, had been really cute. Her favorite superhero had been Batman. He’d complimented her on her excellent taste, and he’d drawn a little picture of Samantha as Batman on the inside cover of her sister’s book.

“Finn, I’m telling you, half of these tweets are about how hot you are, and the rest are about how nice you are. You’re a hit.”

 

 

********

 

 

 

The day finally started to wind down around ten o’clock, and there were only a few fans left in the store. It had been an incredible day, and Finn had already promised to make more appearances in the future: book signings; Q&As; the whole shebang. Finn’d never been so grateful to be him.

This, of course, was when Poe walked in.

“Hey, Rey, what the holy fuck is going on around here? I walked by with BB earlier and there was a ridiculous amount of people hanging around outside. Is there some kind of - ” 

Poe seemed to freeze, taking in the sight before him. Posters, books, signs: it was clearly a book signing, and Finn was still sat behind his table, writing his last note of the day in a teenage girl’s paperback. He could practically see the cogs working, and saw the second the pieces all fell into place for Poe.

“Oh. I - uh - oh.”

He looked between Finn and Rey, shock written all over his face. Then something in his face changed, hardened, almost, and he turned heel and walked out of the store without another word.

Finn stared after him, at a loss for words. What had he done? What had he done ? He turned to the girl, still looking at her autograph and note, and spoke quickly.

“Jennifer, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming here today, it means the world to me. But right now, I have to go chase after the love of my life, okay?”

Her eyes widened almost comically, before she nodded solemnly. “Go get him, Mr. Solo.”

And Finn was gone.

He caught up to Poe about six blocks down, panting breathlessly and leaning over onto his knees. “I - have never seen - someone - speedwalk - with such - determination.”

Poe turned to Finn, shooting him an unimpressed look. “Yeah, well I was pretty determined to get away from you.”

Finn sighed, gesturing helplessly. “Poe, I don’t know what to do here. I don’t know what to say.”

“Well, you’ve said about four hundred thousand words so far. I’m sure you’ll think of something.”

“It was before I knew you, Poe just - ” Finn pleaded, but Poe cut him off.

“Is that supposed to make it better?”

“I swear, you were just some cute  guy who passed by every day, and Rey told me a little about you, and I just - I don’t know, I was inspired. It just happened.”

“Well then, why didn’t you tell me once we got to know each other? Jesus, Finn, you’ve been lying to me since the day we met! ...Oh my god, does Rey know too? Who am I kidding, of course she does. I can’t believe you!”

Finn was at a loss. It’s not like Poe was wrong. “Poe, I - ”

“You know what, Finn? Just - just don’t,” Poe sighed. He walked away, and this time Finn didn’t chase after him.

He just stood there, like a fool, in a disaster of his own making.

 

 

 

**********

 

 

 

Finn didn’t know how long he stood there, before making the long walk home to get seriously drunk. Which is what one did, when their life falls apart. Or, at least the part that involved their heart.

Still, he was determined not to cry until he made it to his apartment. He had to preserve some of his dignity, after all of this. Finn made it to the front door before the first tears fell.

Good enough.

It took him nearly an hour to finish the first of what was sure to be many bouts of crying, and he was in sore need of some wine. Of course, when he went to his cabinet, there wasn’t a bottle anywhere. Naturally. He sighed, resigning himself to walking all the way down the road to the liquor store. Alcohol was a must tonight, and he just couldn’t have a good cry session without a bottle of red. He walked over, opened his door, and -

Poe was standing outside, looking determined.

What?

“Poe? But I - you - ?”

Poe gave Finn a light shove, sending him back into his apartment and slamming the door closed behind them.

“Okay, so here’s the thing - ” and he launched himself at Finn, kissing him fiercely.

What ?

Finn had never been so confused, but he wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth. He surged forward, grabbing Poe by the waist and pulling the older man closer, holding him tight against him. Poe groaned in response, wrapping his arms around Finn’s neck.

Finn pulled back after a time, breathless. It could have been thirty seconds or an hour, he couldn’t have said. But he absolutely didn’t want that kiss to end. But it had to.

“Poe, I don’t understand, what - ”

But Poe didn’t let him finish, lunging toward him again, pulling Finn close and slipping his tongue into the younger man’s open mouth. Finn moaned into the kiss, pulling Poe impossibly closer, clutching at him desperately.

Poe’s response to this was, naturally, to jump into Finn’s arms, wrapping his legs around the other man’s waist. Not that Finn was complaining. He spun around and fairly slammed Poe into the door, his back hitting the wood with a thud. Poe groaned as Finn moved his mouth along his neck, nipping and sucking as he went. When Finn bit down at the juncture of his neck, Poe writhed against him, cursing a blue streak. He tried to pull him back up, tried to kiss him again, but Finn wasn’t done yet. He fisted one hand in Poe’s hair and pulled just hard enough to tilt his head back and get better access to the long line of tanned skin.

And Poe gasped .

Finn froze, looking back up at Poe. He was wrecked: his curly hair was wild and tangled, his lips were swollen and red, and his eyes were nearly black they were so dilated, glazed over with pleasure.

He leant back down and sucked a mark into Poe’s skin, then tugged on that wild hair again, just to hear that noise again.

And again.

And again.

And again, until Poe was a panting, writhing mess, scrabbling at Finn’s back desperately.

“Finn, Finn, Finn , bedroom, please, I need - “

“Yes, yes, anything, anything , Poe, god -”

Finn practically ran to the bedroom, all but throwing Poe onto the mattress. Poe landed with a grunt, and without missing a beat crawled over to where Finn was standing, tugging uselessly at his shirt.

“God fucking damn it, the one time you wear clothes that aren’t sweatpants, for fuck’s sake, Finn - “

Finn laughed breathily, reaching down to undo the buttons on his shirt. Once that was settled, Poe went for Finn’s belt and fly. When Poe finally got his hand around Finn’s cock, he moaned almost louder than Finn himself.

“God, Finn, let me suck you, please let me suck you, god, let me get my mouth on that fucking beautiful cock - ”

Finn groaned, grabbing on Poe’s hair and pulling him up for a filthy, wet kiss. “Maybe later, okay? I’ve been fantasizing about eating you out for almost three years.”

“You think I haven’t waited just as long?”

Finn froze, pulling back from where he’d been mouthing at Poe’s jaw. “You - what?”

Poe shrugged, a playful smirk crossing his face. “I’m just saying. But if you’d rather eat me out than get a blowjob, be my guest.”

At Poe’s consent, Finn tackled him to the bed, the other man cackling as he wrestled him out of his jeans and his old Gryffindor t-shirt.

The first time they were having sex, and Poe was wearing a Harry Potter t-shirt. God, Finn loved him.

Finally, he had Poe naked underneath him. Finn took a moment to lean back on his haunches and just stare in disbelief. How had he ever gotten so lucky? Twenty minutes ago he’d been convinced that Poe would never speak to him again, and now he was naked in Finn’s bed.

“Poe, do you think we’re going to fast? Should we maybe talk first? I mean, if I don’t get in you soon I’m going to lose my mind, but I think I could hold off for like, ten minutes at least .”

“Talk later. Fuck now.”

“Are you sure? Because -”

“Finn, you just said you wanted to fuck me. I really don’t care about anything else.”

There was nothing to say to that, so Finn just kissed him again, slow and scorching, grinding down against Poe slowly, until they were both gasping for breath. He made his way slowly down Poe’s body, kissing and licking wherever he saw fit. When he reached his nipples, he raked his teeth against one, grinning at the hitch in Poe’s breath at the action. He bit down, hard, and Poe’s hands flew to the back of Finn’s head as he whimpered .

It was the hottest thing Finn had ever heard.

He doubled his efforts, nipping and biting and sucking on Poe’s nipples until he was a whimpering mess, rolling his hips up against Finn’s desperately.

“I thought - you said - you were gonna - oh , god do that again - rim me?”

Finn leant down to kiss Poe again, plundering the other man’s mouth. He moaned at the touch of Poe’s tongue to his own, and got lost in the kiss for a time. He pulled back with a hum, smiling softly as he ran his fingers through Poe’s sweaty hair.

“If you can still talk, I must be doing something wrong.”

“Hardly. Just - come on, man, I took a shower and everything. So you can either get your dick in me or I’ll go find someone else who appreciates a man who preps.”

Finn narrowed his eyes at the mention of another man, even jokingly, and leant down to bite at Poe’s nipple in retaliation. He smirked at the loud gasp Poe let out at that.

Then he paused.

“You showered?”

Poe leant up, resting on his elbows to look down at Finn with an amused expression. “Finn, when I came here and essentially mauled you, what exactly did you think my intentions were?”

Well, when he put it that way…

Finn didn’t answer, instead grabbing Poe’s hips and flipping him over roughly. He kissed his way down Poe’s back, before moving back to get a good look at his ass.

“God, I love your ass. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten hard just thinking about it, thinking about touching you, getting my hands on you, in you - “ Poe moaned softly, pushing his ass further toward Finn. “But you know what I’ve wanted to do, ever since I first saw you and your beautiful ass? This .”

He pulled Poe’s cheeks apart a licked a hot, wet line across his hole, moaning as Poe shuddered, legs shaking as he held himself up on his knees. And honestly, who could resist a sight like that? Not Finn, that’s for damn sure. He kneaded Poe’s ass gently while he licked around his tight, pink hole, wet and filthy. For all that he’d wanted to fuck Poe as soon as possible, Finn hadn’t been lying when he said he’d wanted this for years . So he took his time, fucking Poe gently with his tongue, listening to him moan and gasp as he scraped his teeth gently across his hole, his cheeks spread wide. He hummed against him, and Poe moaned at the vibration. When he latched onto his hole and sucked, Poe wailed , falling to his elbows, trembling with pleasure.

Finn leant back, ignoring Poe’s whine as he stared at the older man shake and whimper. “God, Poe look at you. You’re gagging for it, aren’t you? You’d do anything to get my tongue back in you,” He leant forward until his mouth was right up against Poe’s ear, his chest lined up along his back. “One day, I’m gonna eat you out for hours , and I’m not even gonna touch your cock, I’m not gonna let you. You’re gonna come, untouched, from just my tongue in your ass and it’ll be so good , Poe. You’re gonna be so good for me. And then I’m gonna spread you wide open and come all over your pretty little pink hole, and then, just when you think you’re completely spent, I’m gonna finger you until you’re begging for my cock.”

Poe whined helplessly, turning over and kissing Finn desperately, grappling with him until he was on top of Finn, panting as he leant over him.

“Fuck, Finn, you have a filthy mouth.”

Finn shrugged. “I’ve just had a lot of time to think about exactly what I want to do to you. In excruciating detail."

Poe smirked, before grinding down against Finn roughly, their cocks lined up perfectly.

“Joke’s on you, buddy, cause I’ve got a few ideas of my own.”

He reached over the side of the bed, digging through the pocket of his discarded jeans. After a few frantic moments, he let out a crow of victory, pulling out a packet of lube and a condom. Poe tossed the latter at Finn.

“Put that on,” he instructed, before squirting some of the lube on his fingers and reaching back to stretch himself open. He groaned at the sight of Poe, eyes closed and panting, fingering himself above Finn.

He was so caught up in watching the look on Poe’s face that he completely missed it when he moved to take Finn’s cock in hand and line it up against his hole.

Finn certainly noticed that .

Poe went to bear down, when Finn stopped him, grabbing his hips tightly.

“Finn, as enthusiastic as I am, it’s not exactly easy to hold this position without, you know, sitting on your cock. Which was the plan.”

“I know, sorry, just - are you sure?”

The look Poe shot him was a mix of impatient and fond. “Yes, you idiot. You act like I don’t finger myself thinking of you on a daily basis.”

Finn groaned, trying to stop his hips from bucking up at the thought.

And then Poe snapped his hips down , until Finn was completely inside him. He didn’t even wait for Finn to catch his breath, lifting his hips up again and setting a brutal pace, riding Finn’s cock like a fucking - person that rides things - cowboy? Who the fuck cared, Poe was riding Finn’s cock and it felt so fucking good, fuck .

Just when he was getting used to Poe’s movements, he slowed down, grinding down, slowly and sultrily on to Finn, making the younger man pant and clutch at his hips desperately. When Finn whined, moving around and trying to get more leverage, Poe laughed teasingly at him..

If that wasn’t a challenge, Finn didn’t know what was.

Finn sat up suddenly, wrapping his arms around Poe’s back and flipping them over, until he was hovering over Poe.

“My turn,” he said, grinning predatorily. He shifted his hips just slightly, and started moving slowly, pushing into Poe, teasing him. He moved just slowly enough to watch every expression on Poe’s face, as he adjusted his angle.

“Come on, baby, show me - ” He was interrupted as Poe gasped loudly, eyes flying open as he clutched onto Finn’s back. “There we go.”

Finn leant down, giving Poe a soft kiss before pounding into the other man, making sure to hit his prostate on every thrust. Soon enough Poe was a writhing, moaning mess underneath him, and Finn wasn’t faring much better. They were both so close, but Finn didn’t want to miss it, he had to see -

“Poe, I need you to come. I wanna see you come so badly, come on, baby just fall apart -”

Poe came with a shout, white painting his own hand and both of their stomachs. He whimpered as Finn fucked him through it. Finn went to pull out, but Poe stopped him.

“Go ahead - I can take it.”

Finn kissed him sloppily as he fucked even harder into Poe, desperately seeking release. He was almost there, so close -

“Next time I’m gonna fuck you so hard you won’t be able to walk for a week,” Poe whispered into his ear, and that was it: Finn was gone. He didn’t know if it was the thought of Poe fucking him or just the thought of next time in general, but Finn came harder than he ever had in his life, before collapsing onto Poe.

Poe pushed him off with a grunt. “Why are you so heavy? We just burned like, ten million calories,” he griped, before getting up and wandering toward the bathroom, presumably, for a washcloth.

Finn rolled over onto his side solely for the purpose of seeing Poe’s bare ass as he walked away. Lord, but it was perfect.

When Poe walked in, he rolled onto his back, trying to pose seductively. Poe just snorted, and Finn pouted. “Hey, don’t laugh at me. I just gave you the best sex of your life,” he paused. “Well, it was the best of my life, for sure.”

Poe laughed, looking at Finn fondly. “Yes, Finn, it was definitely the best sex I’ve ever had. Feel free to gloat to Rey later.”

He wiped himself and Finn off before throwing the washcloth across the room. He crawled under the blankets, beckoning for Finn to join him.

As he did, Finn looked at Poe, suddenly hesitant. “Poe, I think we really need to talk, don’t you? I mean, you were really angry about the book thing, and I - ”

“Finn?”

“Yes?”

“Shut up. Now is the time for snuggles and sleep. We can talk in the morning.”

Well, Finn wasn’t about to say no to snuggles.





*********

 

 

 

Finn woke to the warm feeling of sunlight pouring across his skin, and the distinct sense that someone was watching him. He groaned, stretching, before peeking one eye open.

Poe was leaning on his elbow, watching Finn with a soft smile.

“...can I help you?”

Poe rolled his eyes, before leaning over and giving Finn a quick kiss. When he pulled back, he spoke some familiar words:

“‘This book is dedicated to the real Han Xameron. You may not be a smooth-talking space rebel, but I love you all the same. Xameron may be the galaxy’s hero, but you’re my hero. And that’s almost better.’”

“Oh.”

“Yeah, oh .”

Poe leaned in again, this time gently, more carefully, lazily exploring Finn’s mouth.

Finn hummed into the kiss, holding on to Poe’s arms.

“You memorized it?” He whispered, awed.

Poe sighed, smiling as he leaned their foreheads together. “I was so angry, for about an hour. I flipped through all the books, looking for clues, trying to see what I’d missed, and then I found that. And I knew, I knew that the newest book was written after you met me, which meant that - ”

“I meant it, you know.”

“Yeah?”

Finn laughed, shaking his head disbelievingly. “Poe, of course I love you. How could I not?”

Poe giggled, pulling back to look at Finn, his eyes bright and shining. “I love you, too.”

And Finn finally understood what the fuck Dr. Seuss was talking about all those years ago, because he swore he could feel his heart grow three sizes, if not more. He felt like he was going to burst, he was so happy.

It was June, not December, and Finn was in love, not learning the true meaning of Christmas, but the sentiment was the same, he felt.

He smiled, leaning over and pressing his face into Poe’s chest as the other man dropped onto his back. They were quiet for a time, just holding each other, Poe tracing small designs on Finn’s shoulder. Finally, Poe spoke up, softly, as if afraid to break their tranquil moment.

“So...three years, huh?”

Finn groaned, burrowing his face even further into Poe’s chest. “I know, I’m pathetic,” he paused, before his head shot up. “Wait a minute. You said you were pining.”

“Obviously.”

Finn stared.

“...or not? Come on, Finn. I’m walking my dog, minding my own business, when I see a hottie in a tank top and gym shorts talking to Rey outside the bookstore. I literally tripped over my own two feet at the sight of you.”

“I - what? Really?”

“Yes, you idiot. I asked Rey about you the next day . She said you’d just been through a bad break up, so I should back off. So I did. And then every time I walked past, or stopped in, you would go hide upstairs. So I figured, after that break up - which, by the way, Rey gave me the cliff notes, and honestly I’m glad you got the fuck away from that girl, that was like, the textbook definition of an unhealthy relationship -  you really didn’t want to start anything new, or meet new people. Which, I mean, I can totally get. After I got back from overseas, I didn’t want to do anything out of my comfort zone for a long time.”

Finn gaped at him. “I thought you didn’t know I existed! I ran away because I was too awkward to function! I didn’t talk to you because I was afraid I’d jump you the second you opened your mouth!”

Now it was Poe’s turn to stare. “Are you serious?”

“Yes! I called you Cute Dog Guy for over two years!”

“Cute Dog Guy?”

“Yes! Oh my god, we could have been having sex for years !”

“Was it Cute Dog Guy because I was a cute guy with a dog or because I was a guy with a cute dog?”

Finn just looked at him. “This is what you choose to focus on, instead of the hypothetical sex we could have been having?”

Poe shrugged. “To be more honest, I’m more interested in the very real, imminent sex we’re going to be having.”

Well.

In that case.

“Hey, do you think the Grinch has ever had sex?”

“Finn, what the actual fuck.”



 

*********

 

 

 

It was one o’clock and they’d yet to leave the bed, aside from the two minutes it had taken Finn to go get some frozen waffles from his freezer for sustenance.

They were lounging around, happily cuddling after round four (or was it five?) when Poe sat up like a shot.

“Oh my fucking god.”

“What?”

“Han Xameron? Xameron ? How could I not have seen this?”

“I never claimed to be subtle."

“Oh my GOD, his robot’s name is BB-8!”

“...I know.”

“BB-8! As in BB! My dog! Oh my god, I’m so stupid,” Poe cried, burying his face in his hands.

“Poe, the expression is young , dumb, and full of come.”

“Don’t make jokes about my age when I’ve just given you the best blowjob of your life.”

“Yeah, it was way better than Stephen King could have done.”




 

 

 

 

fin(n)