Distracting as it was, Poe refused to take the necklace off. It was a part of him; the familiar warmth of metal against his chest was a tangible reminder of the legacy his mother left behind. Since he left for the New Republic Naval Academy when he was 16, the unadorned wedding band threaded on a simple chain had been a constant presence on his body. Poe was far from bonafide Force Sensitive, but the modest little circle of metal radiated powerful energy he couldn’t ignore. It usually seemed to go off in short pulses- as if it was sharing a secret in code. Not quite a temperature or vibration, something else that didn’t relate to any other sense. It was unique, like a distinct emotion that doesn’t have a name in Basic.
Not so that night. That night, the sensation was more akin to the pang Poe felt in his stomach, from the cockpit of his T-70 just before enemy craft showed up on scanners. It had never done that before.
Koyo harvest was in full-swing on Yavin IV, and that meant Kes would be out in the verdant groves. Collection of the sweet crop went late into the humid evenings, in an effort to head off the incoming monsoon season. Unsurprisingly, the encrypted message Poe sent asking about the strange happenings went unanswered as his father oversaw the farm and Poe didn’t want to add any more stress to his day. He considered asking General Organa what it meant, she was Force-sensitive after all, but the General was a woman in high demand and he refused to bother her. So Poe was left to ruminate, fingers tugging at the smooth loop as he updated his flight log from the datapad of his private quarters.
Poe Dameron felt it as surely as he breathed. But that didn’t mean he had any idea what it kriffing meant.
His father, Kes, had slipped that ring onto his mother’s finger the second she stepped down from her A-Wing after a particularly dangerous mission some 35 years ago. Kes shared the story so many times, the secondhand memory became almost like a holovid in Poe’s mind.
“I wanted to do this right,” Kes began, kneeling down on the duracrete much to Shara’s amusement. “I’ve been waiting for the right time to do this but today you scared me. I realized that there may never be a right time like you deserve. That there may not be a tomorrow—“
Shara’s nose crinkled as she cast a playful glance down at him. “Little morbid for a proposal, don’t you think, Dameron?”
The little silver ring was still concealed in his palm. She hadn’t even seen it yet (not that it was much to look at, regretfully). Kes’s anxiety diffused with a soft chuckle as he scrubbed a hand over his freshly buzzed scalp. Might as well finish what he started.
“I’m serious. Shara Bey…”
Kes could feel her breath lodge in her throat, as he knelt at her boot-clad feet.
Finishing the sentence was unnecessary. With a tug on the collar of his fatigues, Shara wordlessly answered. Besides, it would’ve been difficult to ask while his mouth was being tackled by hers.
Poe thought about that story as he finished updating his flight log for the day, wondering vaguely if the ring pulsed for the very first time at that moment. It was certainly a romantic notion.
Poe only then realized the true reason for Kes’s annual retellings. Yes, Shara lived on in it and Poe loved hearing it just as much as Kes loved repeating it- but there was more than that. He was telling Poe not to wait because while his son knew not to hold back during a dogfight, daring to be emotionally vulnerable during wartime can be scarier than a TIE on your ass. His son was a brave man, but even the most courageous warriors can seal themselves off from love.
Cowardice wasn’t to blame, it was the clandestine nature of love during wartime. He wasn’t afraid of his own heart shattering. Poe was forced to look his own mortality in the eye each time another empty casket marked the loss of a friend. For him, it felt more reckless to play with someone’s heart than it did to fly into an asteroid field as BB-8 screeched and sputtered out every curse in Binary. Going down wasn’t so much a problem. Taking someone down with him if he crashed? That was another matter. He saw the way his father was crushed under the wreckage of his mother’s death and didn’t want responsibility for the person he loved experiencing that kind of grief.
And yes, there was a person he loved. Entirely.
Poe could picture returning to Yavin IV together, walking through the groves hand-in-hand after an awkward introductory dinner with Kes. Despite the lingering moments and endless worrying and the way that smile made him ache, Poe channeled his discipline and wedged that longing deep into his chest. But it was distracting. Kinda like the beaming from the ring at his clavicle. ...Wasn’t that what Poe was fighting for, anyway? The freedom to settle down, live in a quaint system somewhere without the constant threat of violence from the First Order and whatever Death Star rip-off they built this time around. It was a nice idea, but one Poe couldn’t afford to focus on yet. One battle at a time, that’s how a pilot gets through a war.
After running BB-8’s diagnostics, he shut down the holopad, turning onto his side in bed. At this point, the frequency had become so intense that Poe squeezed it in his hand, willing it to be calm. He needed his rest and it was becoming ever more tempting to just take the damn necklace off and stuff it in a drawer somewhere ‘til it returned to a normal state.
Poe stretched his legs and drew the blanket up over his torso, sighing to himself in the darkness.
He’d been alone- not lonely per se but unattached- for years, telling himself it wasn’t the right time. First it was the academy. Then the awakening to a greater cause. Then the war. Responsibilities. Missions. Resistance secrets he was entrusted to protect. All very true, and quite useful excuses. But sometimes love flourishes when you don’t expect it. Inopportune times and places. Like in a dilapidated Rebel base on a forgotten planet, amidst a war. Love always finds a way to transcend pain. It rises above like the first lone crocus of spring rises above the snow. Poe believed that, truly he did. But his habit of shouldering guilt and responsibility somehow applied to this- and a thousand other potential scenarios.
Poe would’ve sworn the ring was rattling around between the fingers of his clenched hand, moving on its own volition. Searing with energy. Enough, he thought to himself as he sat up in bed and flipped on the lamp. After a moment of clumsily searching for the closure, Poe freed himself of the talisman.
Then, just as suddenly it had began, the ring went dormant again. A loop of metal. A symbol of devotion. An ordinary thing worth so much more than the sum of its parts. Poe examined it with curiosity, pinching it between his thumb and forefinger as he held it up to the golden light.
A sharp knock at the pneumatic door jarred Poe out of his awe. “Who’s there?”
”Poe? It’s me.”
His stomach dropped at the muffled voice through the metal. Of course. The Force had been trying to tell him something all night. There was no more use in denying it: Poe Dameron was in love and that ring wasn’t meant to stay on a chain around his neck forever.