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From the air, coming in, the city had shown as darkness and dim light veined with glittering brightness. They're in one of the darkest parts now: no streetlights, no spilling doorways, just the haze off the cloud cover, now purple now orange. The infrared goggles are cutting into Finn's temples, and he runs a finger under the strap with the hand that's not holding the bag of explosives.

The building their contact indicated is a massive dome, hard to find purchase on. The windows aren't transparisteel but quartz, and probably their best bet as far as weak spots go. “Can you feel anyone inside?” Poe asks in an undertone, trying not to hiss the S.

Finn opens his mind, listens with the Force, feels the night spreading out around him. “Nope. People in the buildings on either side, that's it.”

“Good to know. Gimme those. And a boost.”

They practiced this before coming here. Finn stoops against the curve of the dome; Poe climbs to his shoulders, and he rises, Poe's boots digging into the muscle. “Can you reach?”

“Fuck. Fucking—not quite. Okay, really not at all. Okay. New plan. Get me down.” They reverse the process, and Finn tries not to rub his shoulders when Poe's standing next to him again. “C'mon,” Poe says, and lopes over to the entrance. Finn frowns. “You think here? This door looks reinforced to me.”

“That's why we're gonna open it.” Poe's doing something to the keypad, something that involves the tiniest flash of violet light. There's a clicking sound where the door panels meet. “Okay. That buys us—six minutes. Ish. Let's go.”

They waste precious seconds prying the panels apart, because they're meant to move automatically. But placing the charges goes fast until-- “Poe,” Finn says, pulling back from what he thought was a wall, “this is a library.”

“It's a server room,” Poe says, “and if what the contact told us is true, blowing it is gonna knock out about a third of the First Order comm channels. But yes, okay, it's also a library, c'mon, we have like two more minutes, not even.” On the way out Finn grabs randomly at a shelf, shoves whatever he grabbed—it's not big, maybe hand-sized--under his jacket and into his waistband.

“C'mon, c'mon,” Poe's saying, grabbing his hand, and they clatter up the stairs, fling themselves through the crack they wedged in the door, just as klaxons start to sound and lights spring up throughout the street and windows fly open. Finn jams his thumb down on the detonator and behind them, a few blocks back and getting further all the time, they hear dull thuds and the sound of masonry collapsing inward.

“Which way from here,” Poe gasps, and Finn says, “This way,” shifting the pull between their hands so that he's leading and Poe following. Three turns, following the map in his head, and at the end of the fourth street a mellow glow. “Take a second,” Finn says, breathing hard himself now, leaning against a wall, damp where the ones near the library were dry.

“Good idea. Great idea, in fact.” Poe leans on the wall too, but pivots to lean on Finn instead, chest to chest. Goes to kiss him, but the night-vision goggles bump against each other, and they have to bite back laughter. “Better lose these anyway,” Finn says. “And the detonator.” He flicks his wrist and rolls it away toward a sewer grating.

“Says the man who's always saying the Resistance is on a budget and we have to be careful what we spend and who we bribe.” The detonator reaches a hole in the grid and clanks down into the darkness.

“If you can figure out a reason why a pair of tourists would be carrying infrared goggles and a detonator, you can pinch all the pennies you want.”

“Hmm,” Poe says. “Can we be honeymooning tourists?” Minus goggles now, he leans back in and Finn feels how he always feels when Poe gets close, like his chest is opening to let in more of everything. “Yeah,” he breathes, “I know you really like to immerse yourself in a role.”

“Deep cover,” Poe says, laughing, “so deep, wait'll you feel,” and kisses Finn, hands roaming downward.

“We have a rendezvous,” Finn reminds him regretfully, just when the kisses are getting good.

“It's not for half an hour yet. But you're right, we should show ourselves. These markets are famous, I bet you'll like it.” By the time they reach the end of the alley and walk out into the night market, they're in character, which means they get to brush against each other and gaze into each other's eyes almost as much as Finn wants to.

But there's plenty besides Poe to look at. The market is as crowded as anyplace he's ever been that's not a trooper transport, but it's the exact opposite in every other way: bright lamps, the sizzle of oil and the hiss of steam, a new waft of delicious food smell or strong perfume or rank sweat or hot metal every step he takes. They pass a cart laden with what looks an awful lot like body parts, from several species, in backlit jars. There are people dressed in what's clearly their best and people who look like they just rolled out of bed, including some who look like their bed is probably a doorway or a bunch of crates.

Someone pokes Finn in the armpit and brandishes a satchel at him, apparently for purchase. It's a perfectly nice satchel, but the vendor will never know how close they came to getting pulled into a painful and immobilizing hold and possibly sustaining nerve damage to their hand. “Easy,” Poe says in his ear, and follows it up with a bite on the lobe.

“Easy for you to say easy, it wasn't your armpit.” But he can't put any conviction into it, and his eye's already been caught by other sights: a big man with jewels woven into his beard carrying a tiny person of great age and uncertain gender on his back through the crowd, a cluster of dejarik tables with spectators placing bets, a Bothan with--

“That's a slave collar,” Finn says. “Isn't it.”

Poe looks where he's looking. “Yeah,” he says.

“There's slavery here?”

“Not here here, that I know of. But someone who owns slaves can bring them here. Apparently. I know you read the background.”

Finn always reads the background. “There wasn't anything about slavery in it.”

“No, but it said that both politically and culturally they tend to stay neutral. I remembered that part, 'cause--”

Because if you're neutral in the presence of cruelty, or injustice, you're aligned with it. “That makes sense,” Finn said. “For why the server room was here. The Order would hate this--” he gestures at the market, all the bustle and brightness, the bumbling and touching, the littered streets. “But they'd like being left alone to do what they do.”

“Well, it's gonna be harder for them to do it now.”

“Yeah,” Finn says. “And we didn't kill anybody. I like the ones where nobody dies.” He frowns. “I mean, I know people are gonna die because of what we did tonight. But I just—sometimes I wish I could just stop the story, you know? Like I could think ahead just a little, and stop where I wanted.”

Poe's looking at him with the expression that Finn half-loves and half-hates. Loves because it's full of love, because Poe wants him to feel whole, to be free, and hates for him to be unhappy. Hates because while there's no condescension in it, there's pity, and he worries that it could turn into condescension if he left it there long enough. “C'mon,” he says, trying to do the vocal equivalent of dusting off his hands. “We have a little time still, and I'm starving. What are those round things?”

They end up with an armful of snacks, stuffed rolls and fried battered shellfish and little cones of a kind of fruit that smells like someone drenched it in X-wing fuel just as it started to rot, but that Poe has had before and assures Finn is delicious. He tips it into his mouth gingerly, trying not to breathe in through his nose. “Hey, it's not bad!”

“Told you,” Poe says, easing a round thing off a skewer with his teeth. “Try one of these, it's like fish, but bouncy.”

When they're done, they move on in the direction of the rendezvous point, a little greasier than before. A stand with softly glowing objects on it catches Finn's eye, and he pulls Poe over to look. “What are these?”

If Finn had ever wondered what a leer looked like on a Trandoshan, now he knows: the expression involves a totally different set of muscles and protrusions than it would on a human, but it's unmistakable. “For fun. You together? You use together, lots of fun.”

Finn turns to Poe for help, but Poe's eyeing an undulating grayish-mauve one with interest. “How much?”

“For you, handsome, sixty credits only.”

Poe shrugs. “We'll make our own fun,” and he turns as if to shoulder into the crowd again.

“Okay, forty, 'cause you look so happy, everybody deserve happy, huh?”

“Twenty, how about.”

“Twenty, my hakbla,” which Finn assumes is some intimate part of the Trandoshan anatomy. “Thirty-five, very good, safe for all species, last you many years.”

“Twenty-five.”

“Twenty-seven and I throw in a battery.”

“Deal,” Poe says, and hands the credits over, apparently less concerned about the Resistance budget than he was a minute ago. He tucks the thing, which now that Finn sees it close is unmistakably tentacle-shaped, into his waistband, reminding Finn that he still has the book he stole. All the others are ash now, probably. Poe's grinning at him. “Can't wait to get back to base and take this for a test flight.”

“Speaking of which,” Finn says, because two figures in badly-fitting City Guard uniforms are barreling toward them, and they go through the motions of scuffle and arrest and being sullenly marched off. “Are we a hundred percent sure this was necessary,” Finn grumbles when they're out of earshot and their fellow operative Esdras Don, who obviously thinks the whole thing is a riot, is unlocking his binders. “I still think a quiet exit would've been better. What are you even supposed to be arresting us for?”

“For the bombing of the City Library, naturally,” Don says. “Obviously an act of anti-intellectual domestic terrorism, to protest the policies of the democratically elected government.” Poe, whose binders were never actually locked, offers Don a fistbump. Yael, the other operative, a quiet Duros, exchanges a sympathetic glance with Finn before they board and get underway.

Poe can't stand for anyone else to be at the controls, even of a shitty little tub like this. While he's getting them in position for the hyperlane, Finn takes the opportunity to look at the thing he salvaged from the library. It's an actual book, with pages and everything—he's only seen a few—and he can't read it. The symbols in it aren't ones he knows, or has ever seen; he touches them, feeling how they're stamped into the thick paper. He turns a page and there's a kind of—diagram, or map, he isn't sure, saturated colors weaving in and out of each other. They've entered the hyperlane now and they'll be here a while, so he brings it over: “Hey, Poe, look at this.”

“Cool.” Poe touches the pages just as Finn did. “I have no idea what this says. Where'd it come from?

“Grabbed it off the shelf, before the library blew.”

“Of course you did.” Poe reaches out and pulls him in by a belt loop. “So we both got a souvenir.”

“I don't know that word.”

“Oh, like a … thing you get to remember that you did something. Or were someplace.”

“Great,” Finn says, “every time I look at it I'll remember that I blew up a whole bunch of things just like it.”

“Well … yeah. I guess a sex toy is a weird souvenir of a world that plays nice with the First Order and condones slavery. Do you think it's weird?”

Finn pauses to carefully assemble his answer. “Well, if I had tentacles I wouldn't think it was weird at all, but it's a little weird to me. But I don't think it's weird that you wanna try it.”

Poe makes an impatient, brushing-away motion. “I've had sex with someone with tentacles. I didn't mean that. I meant switching from slave-collar mode to sex-toy mode. Or like, bombing a building and then stuffing my face with snacks. Is that fucked up, to switch gears so fast like that? Sometimes it feels fucked up.”

“No,” Finn says immediately and reflexively, and then, considering, “The fucked-up parts are what's fucked up. I'd rather just have the peaceful parts, but it's just our life, right? Life has all those things in it, they don't go away just because you can't see them.” Poe's arm tightens around him.

 

*

 

The debrief is, well, brief: yes, we destroyed the target, no, as far as we know we weren't spotted, yes, as far as we know the cover worked. No sentient casualties. Possible backlash against dissidents, but that, Rishy says, is not their problem, even as Poe shifts with irritation in his seat. The First Order will know damn well who knocked out a third of their communications, but as long as the sector media aren't talking about it, no one will say anything and there'll be no excuse for retaliation. The only risk is if anyone managed to record one or both of their faces during the fake arrest. “I told you we should've kept low,” Finn mutters, but the brass approved the mission plan as Poe submitted it and anyway, they're back now, with 36 hours respite instead of 24 because it's the middle of the night.

“Let's go, we're done here,” Poe's saying, drawing Finn with him out of the meeting room and toward their quarters. “How you feeling? Sleepy?”

“Not that sleepy.”

“You need anything? Something to eat, a shower?”

Finn laughs. “We can try it out if you want.”

Poe insists on swabbing the thing down with bacta wipes first, and washing it off, and putting a condom over it-- “Safe for all species, yeah, maybe.” Finn finds all of this highly entertaining, but also touching in its earnestness, its thoroughness.

“Hold that for a second,” Poe says, handing Finn the tentacle thing; he takes it with trepidation. Powered off, it's limp, like a human dick would be, or maybe an actual tentacle too, Finn isn't sure. Poe's stepping out of his pants, throwing his black sweater over a chair already festooned with sweaters.“You wanna watch me, or you wanna use it on me?”

“Can I watch you first? See how you do, then once I get it, I'll take over.” They have a few toys they use from time to time, and Finn's a little irritated with himself for being squeamish about this one, but most of the others are...stationary.

“Okay, gimme it back then, and get out of those clothes, I need to see you.”

Finn undresses, hanging up the things that need hanging up and folding the things that need folding. When he turns back, Poe's naked and laid out on the bed, knees up, tracing his rim with lube, his eyes locked on Finn. “Fuck,” Finn says with feeling. “You look--”

Poe makes a come-hither face, but spoils it almost immediately by frowning at the toy and muttering, “How does this thing turn on,” then finding a switch that seems designed for a non-human appendage. The tentacle arcs, flexes, undulates. “That's what I'm talking about,” Poe says, and poises it between his legs.

Finn's almost tempted to say that it doesn't seem interested. It probes a little, but mostly it bends; Poe can't get it into himself, and finally flings it aside. “Piece of shit.”

“If you want something in you, I can help with that,” Finn offers.

“'Something,'” Poe says, making fun, but his eyes are gleaming now.

“Fine. My dick, if you want my dick in you--”

“There is no time when I don't want that,” Poe says, which is factually untrue, but hyperbole was one of the first things Finn got used to after joining the Resistance, and he appreciates the sentiment. He gets on the bed and kneels between Poe's knees, kisses one kneecap. He's not all the way hard, so he says, “Sit up and kiss me.”

Poe does, wrapping his legs around Finn's hips to lever himself closer. He's holding on tight, digging into Finn's back, cock pressing against Finn's belly. They're sort of mashed together awkwardly at the groin and Poe seems to want something beside the obvious: he responds to Finn's kisses, escalates to biting, seems like he wants to drive up the intensity. Finn tries to meet him where he is, and it's mostly working, he's getting hard and grinding back, and then he moves to brace his knees a little more and yelps as hard plastic digs into the spot right under his kneecap.

Poe slides back off his lap instantly. “What happened? You okay?”

“Yeah, just surprised.” That shouldn't have made him yell, he thinks, it was barely anything, and then he remembers that it's okay to acknowledge pain here. This is a thought process he goes through often; he thinks the gap between feeling and remembering is getting shorter.“My knee came down on the handle.” He picks the toy up gingerly by the tentacle part, and it twines around his finger, so that when he yelps again in shock and lets go, it hangs on, pulsing, squeezing him tenderly.

They look at each other, look at the toy, look at each other. A grin spreads on Poe's face, and Finn realizes he's smiling too. “Well okay then,” Poe says.

“Lie back,” Finn tells him. “All the way back, put your hands behind your head,” and oh, that's what Poe wants, the grin sharpens and becomes wilder. He arranges himself with care, settling his hips and spreading his legs a little.

Finn kneels between them again. He wants to ask questions, but needs to figure out a way to do it that Poe, in this mood, will like. He'll figure it out as he goes along.

He unwraps the tentacle from his finger—it resists a little, but only about as much as flesh would. He says, “Tell me how it feels,” and lays the tentacle part of the toy flush with Poe's cock.

It twines, and Poe gasps. As it starts to pulse and caress, the grayish-mauve glow intensifies, shining through the dull surface of the condom. The tip of Poe's cock shows beyond it, flushed and beading up precome, and the tip of the tentacle strokes him there, making him whine and arch. “I said tell me how it feels,” Finn says, making it more of an order and less of an invitation.

“It's—oh fuck. Fuck. Mmmh. I can't even—it just feels alive, it's so good, it's so good, I don't, I don't ever want it to stop, Finn, you're so good—you're so good to me--”

Finn doesn't think he's really doing much, just holding the end of a piece of plastic, but he looks down at Poe, wriggling against the grip of of the toy, grimacing and gasping, and revises his opinion. Whatever it is that Poe needs from this, he's clearly getting it, and Finn wants him to have it even if he still doesn't totally understand. He pulls at the handle, gently but firmly. The tentacle unwinds, and Poe stares up at him, dazed-looking, lips wet. “Ask for it back,” Finn says, and is proud to see that his guesses continue to be good: Poe's breath comes even faster and he says, “Please.”

“Say it again.”

“Please.”

Finn puts it back. Poe makes a sound between gasp and groan as the toy closes around him again. “I'm good to you, huh?” Finn says, and Poe says, “Holy fuck,” and shoots all over his belly. The toy pulses around him a few more times and then stills. Finn pulls it off and sets it to the side, leans over Poe and kisses his forehead. “Hey,” he says.

“Incredible,” Poe says, eyes closed. “Thank you.”

“We kinda did that in the wrong order. Next time tell me a little more about what you want first and I'll be better for you.”

That seems to shake Poe out of his daze. “Are you fucking kidding me,” he says. “You're perfect for me, perfect,” and he reaches up and takes Finn's face in a fierce grip, kisses him hard, pulls Finn's head down to his shoulder. “What do you want?” he says, “I haven't even touched you yet. You wanna try that thing? You wanna be inside me, like you said?”

“I'm not being down on myself,” Finn says, because it's important to him to get this clear. “I just mean I do better with a little more information.”

Poe's quiet for a minute. “Understood,” he says. “I don't always—no. Forget that. I'll keep you informed. Try to.”

“That's all I want.”

All you want?”

“Not all,” Finn says, “sit up with me like we were before.” He looks around for the lube, but can't find it, so he swipes his hand across Poe's belly and jacks himself a couple of times using Poe's spunk instead. Poe's eyes are wide now. “That's probably the hottest thing I've ever seen in my life,” he says.

Finn shrugs. “I'm learning to improvise,” he says. “I think it's hanging out with you.”

“And that,” Poe says, straddling him, “is one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me.” He starts to lower himself, but winces as Finn's cockhead bumps against his rim. “I think I need a little--”

“Sure, I got you.” Finn gives Poe his fingers to suck, then fingers him until he's just open enough and breathless and pulls him down on his cock again. “Ah,” he says as Poe tightens around him and the balance of control shifts, somehow. “Poe, I need--”

“Take as long as you want,” Poe says, lifting and driving down, releasing and clenching again, so that Finn groans and butts his head against Poe's collarbone, “take what you need, come in me when you're ready, I'll love it, I love everything you do, you're so good, so good, Finn.” And then there's no more words from either of them, just grunts and harsh breathing, bracing and thrusting, and a long sob finally when Finn can't hold back anymore.

“I'm sorry I was acting weird,” Poe says when they've wiped each other off, more or less, and are under the covers. The toy, limp again, is perched on top of the sweater pile; Poe said he'd deal with it tomorrow.

“You wanna tell me what it was about?” Finn's tired, and it's almost dawn, but he did ask for information and he does really want to know.

“I'm honestly not sure. I gotta get better at this whole self-reflection thing, keep up with you.” Finn stays still. “That's a compliment,” Poe says. “I'm being nice.”

“Let's go to sleep,” Finn says. “If you figure out what you were thinking, tell me in the morning. It's not like I won't be around.”