“Look,” Jesskia says, midway through spreading something slimy over her bread. “All I’m saying is I think that starfighter pilots should have some rudimentary knowledge of binary.”
Its lunchtime in the canteen and Finn is sitting at what Poe affectionately refers to as ‘the crazy table’ along with Snap, Jess, and L’ulo.
Finn didn’t use to understand why exactly it was the table’s nickname, that is until he’d lived through a spat between Karé and Snap that almost devolved into a food fight.
“I disagree,” Snap interjects from the opposite end of the table.
Jess just rolls her eyes, gesturing to Snap with her knife. “That’s because you’re an idiot, Wexley. If you had two brain cells to rub together you would know how much it would benefit our flying.”
Snap spears a piece of Jogan fruit with a sour expression on his face.
Finn coughs without thinking. This is a bad move because now both Snap and Jessika have all their attention focused on him.
L’ulo shoots him a sympathetic look.
“And droidspeak is pretty easy to learn-- just ask Finn. Poe’s been teaching him so that he can speak with BB-8,” Jess says, looking satisfied. “Tell him, Finn.”
While it was true that Finn has made impressive headway with binary, the language is still incredibly difficult to understand. Poe’s just a fan of espousing Finn’s virtues around base, especially to their friends.
Snap takes this pause as a sign of Finn’s dissension. “See, Jess.” He grins, shooting a meaningful look in Finn’s direction. “Good-natured little Finn will not be drawn into your web of lies.”
L’ulo snorts rather loudly.
Finn gapes, trying to decide between his natural inclination to diffuse the situation and indignation at being called ‘little’.
In the end, it doesn’t matter because Jess is much quicker to the draw. “Why you pompous little-- web of lies? I’ll show you--”
The conversation descends quickly from a heated debate to a full-out verbal thrashing. Snap and Jessika square off from opposite sides of the table; Finn and L’ulo are, quite appropriately, caught directly in the middle.
“The food’s pretty good today,” Finn mentions offhandedly, taking a sip of caf. He figures the best way to survive this argument is to pretend that it’s not happening.
Squinting at him through red eyes, L’ulo inclines his head. “You say that every day, Finn.”
“Well it’s true every day,” he says through a mouthful of food. “I’ll stop saying it when it stops being true.”
L’ulo gives him an unimpressed look.
“I’m just trying to make some friendly conversation.” Alright, in terms of small-talk, maybe this isn’t his best showing.
“Hey, guys. What’s going on?” Poe’s standing just beyond the table, watching the unfolding battle with a mix of curiosity and apprehension.
And he’s wearing-
Finn does a double take.
Poe’s wearing his new leather jacket and a navy blue v-neck deep enough that Finn feels like a voyeur just looking at it.
Snap and Jess have both gone quiet, probably also hypnotized by the amount of skin Poe is showing.
“Dude. Why’re you dressed like that?” Snap asks, eyes wide.
Poe looks rather self-conscious. “Does it mean that it looks good or should I change?” He moves to pull the neck of his shirt down a little further and Finn averts his eyes.
Most of Finn’s thoughts have gone fuzzy, his mind a mess of, ‘oh kriff look at his chest,’ and, ‘force, do not look at his chest. Abort. Abort’.
While Finn has his freak out, Jess takes it upon herself to try and assuage Poe’s fears. “It looks fine, Dameron. Snap here just isn’t used to you looking like such a dish.”
Poe grins at her while Snap glares.
“For your information, Pava, I think Poe looks like a dish a hundred percent of the time, thank you very much,” he says, deadpan.
Now the words ‘Poe’ and ‘dish’ are running through Finn’s mind at warp speed.
Poe laughs, dropping into the empty seat next to Finn.
The movement draws Finn’s eyes back towards the gaping v of the shirt. “Yeah, you look good,” Finn coughs out, training his gaze anywhere but at Poe. He looks up to see L’ulo watching him, sipping his drink through an amused smile.
“Thanks, buddy,” Poe says, his voice warm. He claps Finn on the shoulder and Finn tries his hardest not to notice that he can almost see down his shirt from this angle.
“So, Poe.” Snap slams his hands on the tabletop, drawing the spotlight yet again. “What is the special occasion?”
“Suralinda’s visiting from Coruscant.”
The rest of the pilots nod as if that settles everything.
“Suralinda?” Finn asks, but not loud enough for anyone to actually hear him.
There’s a flurry of movement by the open door of the canteen, a woman sauntering into the room that Finn’s never seen before.
Her skin is a vibrant blue, which is the first thing Finn notices. She has long dark hair done up in elaborate knots, a long ridge dividing her head like a part. Her clothes are all dark colours and skin-tight materials: tall black boots, purple gauntlets, vaguely reptilian-looking shirt and pants.
She looks absolutely wicked- like one of those exotic flowers Poe’s told him about that’s all pretty colours until it swallows you up.
Poe’s already up out of his chair before Finn even fully processes what’s going on. “Suralinda!” he calls as he approaches the blue woman.
The two throw their arms around each other like old friends and suddenly Finn feels just a little bit sick. “So who is Suralinda exactly?” Finn asks, his voice strained.
Jess is looking at him like he’s an entertaining holo of a very drunk Snap. “Suralinda Javos. She’s an old buddy of Poe’s from back in the New Republic Navy.”
Snap goes to say something but cuts himself off before any words can come out. He shoots a dirty look at Jess. “Really, Pava?”
She pretends not to hear him. “She left the navy to become a journalist, but she and Poe have stayed pretty close through everything.”
L’ulo chortles a little bit, which Finn doesn’t understand because nothing about this entire situation is at all funny.
“Oh really?” he says, trying very hard not to sound too interested.
He fails, quite epically if the sly grin on Jess’ face is any indicator. “Actually, Suralinda used to be a First Order spy.” Her diverted smile does not belie the seriousness of her voice. “But Poe brought her back from the dark side, if you know what I mean.” The look on her face is practically devilish.
No, Finn doesn’t know what she means, but the impression he’s getting from her lascivious tone does not make him feel any better.
“Poe does seem to have that effect on people,” Snap remarks innocently.
“Now she spies for us, though. She works with a network of intelligence experts stationed on Coruscant.”
Finn watches Poe and Suralinda choose a table on the other side of the mess. He catches a flash of sharp incisors as Suralinda smiles. The two have their heads bent together, deep in conversation. Finn recognizes the look on Poe’s face as the one he saves for his closest friends, the one he saves for Finn.
“I really need to go immediately right now.” Finn decides. He’s already out of his chair and through the mess door before any of the pilots even think about stopping him.
L’ulo rises from his chair, wiping at his mouth with a napkin. “I really hope you know what you’re doing, Pava,” he says critically.
“Don’t worry, L’ulo,” Jess calls at his retreating back. “Everything will work out in the end, just you wait.”
“I can’t believe you kicked me to get me to shut up. That’s cruelty, Pava,” Snap says, rather dejectedly.
“Life is cruel, Wexley. Suck it up.”
Finn barges through the General’s door, startling her from the reports she was reading.
“Hello, Finn. Is there something I can help you with?” A pair of glasses are perched precariously on the bridge of her nose. She pulls them off and sets them atop her discarded reading.
“Can I use one of your communication consoles?” Finn asks, slightly out of breath. He’d run almost all the way from the mess to the General’s office. “It’s an emergency.”
All he gets in response is a raised eyebrow.
“Poe’s friend Suralinda is visiting and I need to talk to Rey,” he admits.
Leia’s other eyebrow shoots up as a look of realization dawns across her face. “I see,” she says, trying to keep the neutral expression on her face.
Finn tries not to be offended- this is a real emergency!
“Go ahead,” she says, quickly losing ground in the fight to keep from laughing. She gestures to the door to her communications room.
As he leaves the room, Finn swears he can hear her giggling.
He settles himself down in front of the communications console. This isn’t the first time the General’s allowed him use of it to contact Rey and knowing him, it probably won’t be the last.
Finn wrings his hands as he waits for the message to go through. With his luck, Rey is probably miles away from her console, learning to do backflips or stack stones or something vaguely Jedi-like.
“Finn?” Rey’s image appears on the console, miniature and blue as holos tend to be. Her hair is tied back in a strict braid. There are deep circles underneath her eyes like she hasn’t slept in days.
Finn smiles. Even the crisis with Poe can’t stop him from being happy to see his friend. “Hey, Rey.”
“Is something wrong? You usually don’t call without checking in with me first.”
“I’m sorry. It’s just- something’s happened and I can’t talk to Poe about it but I really need to talk with someone or I think I might go crazy--”
Rey blinks. “Finn! Slow down, alright?” she says. “Start from the beginning; what is going on?”
Finn explains to her all about his lunch with the pilots and how Poe walked in wearing the strangest outfit-
“Wait,” Rey interrupts. “Strange how, exactly?”
Finn struggles to describe it. “Well, it had this neckline that went almost down to here,” he says, indicating just under halfway down his chest. “I swear, Rey, I could basically see down his shirt!”
Rey just cocks her head at him. “I still don’t see why this is a problem?”
“But then,” he continues, ignoring her. “This woman walks in and she’s beautiful and terrifying and apparently she and Poe are old friends and- why are you laughing at me?”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” Little hologram Rey snickers, brushing tears from her eyes. “It’s just, really, Finn? You had to comm me because you’re jealous and don’t know how to deal with it?”
Finn gapes at her. “Excuse me? I am not jealous!”
“So it doesn’t bother you at all that Poe and this woman might be seeing one another?”
“Of course it doesn’t, Poe can do whatever he wants,” he protests, barely even sparing a second to think about it.
Rey still doesn’t look convinced. “So, if she and him decide sometime down the road that they want to get married-”
“Woah, woah, woah.” Finn cuts her off, hands held up as if he can physically stop that sentence from being finished. “Who said anything about getting married?”
“Well, typically two people who love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together will get married and move in together.”
Finn doesn’t like the way the words ‘love’ and ‘married’ make his stomach twist itself into knots when he thinks about how they might apply to Poe and Suralinda.
“It doesn’t bother me.” It’s a lie.
“It bothers me. It bothers me very much.”
Rey sighs, a self-satisfied look on her face. “Have you thought about why specifically it bothers you so much.”
“Well,” he starts. “He’ll want to spend more time with her, right? And that’ll mean that he won’t want to spend as much time with me or the rest of the pilots.”
Rey makes a ‘keep going’ gesture with her hands.
“He’ll move out of our quarters; I’ll have to share with someone else. And if they get together he probably won’t talk to me, or hug me, or grab my hand-” he breaks off, breathing heavily. Finn feels like he’s just done the run from the mess to the General’s office twenty times over.
The thing about the First Order is that they don’t teach their stormtroopers about interpersonal relationships. Their main priority from the time of induction is the well-being of the First Order. There was no need for personal relationships because they did nothing to serve the Order. They were taught only the skills they would need for warfare. Sure, Finn might know how to disassemble most blasters blindfolded, but he knows absolutely nothing about love.
His knowledge of love begins and ends with the fact that he’s in love with Poe Dameron.
“I love him,” Finn says. He’s finally able to identify the painful feeling that springs up when he thinks about Poe and Suralinda together: heartbreak.
“This is really bad, Rey.” He risks a glance up at her.
She doesn’t look smug, just a little bit sad that she ended up being right all along. “I’m really sorry, Finn.”
“What’re you going to do?’ she asks.
“If Poe loves her then I won’t let my feelings come between them.” He has to fight through the pain in his chest to squeeze the words out.
“Even if it hurts you?”
Finn nods, sighs. “Maybe it’s for the best though.”
She squints at him. “What do you mean?”
Finn sighs and looks somewhere over Rey’s holographic head. “I don’t know anything about love, or relationships- I wouldn’t know the first thing about being with someone.”
Rey crosses her arms over her chest, a stubborn set to her jaw.
Finn can already feel the lecture coming on- this is what Finn likes to call Rey’s ‘I’m right, now stop being an idiot, Finn’ face.
“No. Don’t tell me you don’t know anything about love. You’re the one who battled your way through a First Order superweapon to save me from Kylo Ren, the one who mourned Han Solo despite the fact that you barely knew him, and who calls me whenever Poe is late getting back from a mission.
“You know much more about love than you think you do, Finn.”
“But I don’t know how to love him.” Finn protests, halfheartedly.
Rey just smiles at him. “Oh Finn,” she says. “I think you’ve loved him since he gave you your name.”
“What do I do now, Rey?” How is Finn supposed to carry on when everything he knows has shifted on its axis? When he’s figured out that he’s in love with a best friend that may love someone else?
She looks honestly lost. “I don’t know, Finn. There’s no Jedi-wisdom I can share with you about a broken heart.”
“The Jedi were pretty smart about that stuff. I’ll see you soon, Rey.” He sighs before cutting off the connection.
Finn sits by himself in the dark communications room. “Well shit,” he says eloquently.
“Finn! Buddy, hey. I want to introduce you to someone.”
Finn halts in his tracks, though the only thing he really wants to do right now is run in the opposite direction.
Suralinda’s even more beautiful up close. Finn’s briefly distracted by the intricate blue lines running across her cheeks and bridge of her nose.
“So this is the famous Finn.” She grins at his blank look. “Suralinda Javos, pleased to meet you.”
Finn takes her outstretched hand. “Finn- but, uh, I guess you knew that already.” The words don’t come out nearly as bitter as Finn feared they would.
“Yeah, Dameron’s told me all about you,” she says, exchanging a loaded glance with Poe.
“Suralinda,” Poe warns.
The Squamatan just laughs, flipping her hair over her shoulder. “Just having some fun, Dameron.”
Poe doesn’t look very amused. “Well, can you go have fun somewhere else for a second, I want to talk to Finn. Alone.”
Suralinda’s brows disappear into her hairline. “Alright, let it not be said that I don’t know when I’m not wanted.” She fixes him with a charming smile. “It was nice to meet you, Finn.” She leans in close to Poe to whisper, just loud enough for Finn to hear, “Remember what we talked about, Dameron- just go for it.”
Poe blushes and Finn doesn’t want to spend any time over analyzing that statement. At this point, all Finn really wants to do is go back to his room and crawl into bed, maybe cry a little bit. Anything to make himself feel better.
“So what did you want to talk about?” he asks instead, his voice coming out rather stilted.
“Oh, right. Um-” Poe flounders, shifting his feet. It’s something Finn recognizes as one of his nervous gestures.
“If this is about Suralinda, don’t worry- I like her.”
Poe blinks. “What?”
“She’s nice,” Finn says, feeling rather detached from his body. “I think you two are good together.” He turns on his heel before he does something stupid like burst into tears, and starts down the corridor.
The faint sound of Poe calling his name follows him down the hallway. Finn speeds up, ducks into the first supply closet he sees.
A shadow speeds through the light coming from under the door. “Wait, Finn? Finn?” Poe’s voice calls out for him, moving further and further away.
Finn suddenly realizes that he’s standing in a closet, hiding from his best friend whom he is in love with, and barely managing not to cry. “Oh Force.” He curses to himself, wiping his hands over his face. “This is such a mess.”
First, he stops by the medbay for a while, saying hello to all the staff that had helped with his recovery and offering to help sort inventory. His former doctors are overjoyed by his visit and the sorting is just the sort of menial task he needs to take his mind off of Poe. When it comes time for the night shift to start, the nurses usher Finn out of the medbay and tell him to get some rest.
Instead, he takes another lap around the compound.
L’ulo finds him in the training center, a sole figure practicing with a blaster. “Poe’s looking for you,” he says.
“I know,” Finn bites out, raising the piece. “That’s why I’m here.” He shoots off nine consecutive blasts at the target. None of them miss.
L’ulo sighs. “I told Jess not to get involved with you and Poe, I knew it would only mess things up.”
Finn’s next two shots both miss. “What do you mean?”
“It’s not something I can explain. You need to talk to Poe.”
“I’ll have to eventually,” Finn says without expression. He keeps his blaster cocked but doesn’t fire. He can feel L’ulo’s displeasure at his aloof answer.
“He’s hurting just as much as you are right now, Finn.” He hears the sound of gravel scraping as L’ulo turns back towards the main compound. “Either you go talk to him or I’m sending him out to find you.”
Finn doesn’t respond. He won’t go talk to Poe- not yet at least. Until he’s had some time to process everything, Finn won’t be able to look into Poe’s eyes without giving it all away.
Poe’s standing by the x-wing’s nose, hands in his pockets. He’s changed out of the strange outfit and into his sleep clothes.
“What’re you doing here?” Finn asks, pushing away from Black One. He doesn’t especially want to have this talk with Poe right now, but he recognizes that at this point he really doesn’t have a choice.
“I was waiting up for you in our room,” Poe says, determined. “We need to talk.” He approaches Finn slowly, like he might take off at any second.
“What’s there to talk about? You and Sur-”
“Finn,” Poe interrupts. He places his hands on Finn’s shoulders. “I feel like we’re just determined to misunderstand one another sometimes.”
Finn doesn’t respond, just waits to see where this all is going.
Satisfied with Finn’s compliance, Poe continues. “Suralinda and I have never been a couple, alright? We’ve never dated and we have no intention of dating one another.”
Finn feels as if a large weight has just been taken off of his chest. He tries not to let it show on his face. “Oh.”
“Yeah, Oh. So now I’m going to say something and you’re not going to interrupt me, okay?”
He nods. Poe’s looking crazed and just a little bit sleep deprived, only someone truly crazy would say no to him now.
“I- I don’t know how you’re gonna react to this but I need to tell you something important.” His face, so open, so full of hope and some familiar expression that Finn can’t put his finger on.
He recognizes it, and all at once everything makes sense. Finn’s hands come up to cup Poe’s face.
“Finn?” he asks, obviously confused by the sudden turn this conversation has taken.
“I’m in love with you,” Finn says simply and presses their lips together.
This kiss pretty terrible, all things considered. Finn’s too inexperienced and Poe is still too surprised to really take an active role. There's harsh teeth and tongue and Poe accidentally almost loses his balance trying to move closer.
But then Poe sighs a little into the kiss, and Finn suddenly thinks-
“This is probably a good time for me to mention that I’m in love with you as well,” Poe says, breaking the kiss.
Their noses are still touching; they’re so close Finn can’t even properly focus on his face.
Finn laughs. ”Oh. I know.”