35 ABY, Ajan Kloss
Finn and Poe simultaneously turned around at Kaydel Ko Connix’s voice. Poe gave a breathy laugh.
“We’ll have to get that sorted,” he said, looking behind his shoulder at Finn as he jogged to Kaydel.
“General Dameron. Not General… General…” Kaydel started.
She seemed at a loss for words.
“Hey, that’s another thing we’ll have to get sorted!” said Poe jovially.
“Right. Well, anyway…”
And Kaydel gave her report to Poe, all the while Finn walked off to find Rose, suddenly questioning where the hell his life was going now.
Sure, he was a general, which was good, and also a clear indication of where his professional life was headed in the next few years, or at least the next few months. And he had a good support system. He had Rey, he had Rose, he had Poe. Hell, it even seemed like he had Jannah now, too! He couldn’t ask for anything better on that front. But there were still so many question marks, and not just in the grand scheme of the galaxy, which he definitely had to worry about now that he was the co-leader of the Resistance. And that both the First Order and the Republic were gone. It was still strange to imagine himself as the co-leader of such a big institution. Because of his age. Because of where he came from. Because of how little he liked war. But it was an honour to have been promoted to that position by Poe, of all people. Someone he knew trusted him, if the act of naming him general wasn’t enough on its own.
Then why can’t I bring myself to tell him?
It wasn’t that big a deal. Okay, it was that big a deal. But this was Poe, so it shouldn’t be that big a deal at all. He had come close to telling Rey then and there on Pasaana. And he knew he would have to tell her soon if he wanted to do something about it. But it was simply too strange to share it with anyone else yet, especially now that General Organa was gone. Which obviously led back to him becoming a general. His life seemed like an endless cycle of intertwined events.
And he couldn’t keep lying to Poe forever. Well, not exactly lying, properly, but hiding something from him, which was, according to the First Order mindset Finn had grown up with, essentially the same. He tried to shy away from anything the First Order had engrained in him, but that was one concept he didn’t think was worth throwing out. Not yet, anyway. What was certain was that Finn could not keep using his little secret to get back at Poe when he was infuriated with the older man. It was the only way Finn had come even remotely close to revealing his secret to Poe, and it had been just to hurt him. Both in intention and in result, back when Rey had escaped to the remnants of the Death Star, alone. Poe had had the reasonable conclusion, although he was going at it with too much of a hot head, according to Finn, and yet it had annoyed the young man, so he had shot back. Which wasn’t what one did to his friends. There was always this pattern with Finn, to try to protect and justify every action of Rey’s. She’d had it tough. Sure, they were all there, so they had all had it tough, but she had been exceptionally rattled and faced trials during the short time they’d all known each other. It made sense in Finn’s mind to keep the people who were supposedly on their sides from overstepping their boundaries when it came to Rey. Not that Poe was overstepping anything, as he was the general and their friend. God, that whole thing was complicated to think through.
But then there was also Zorii. That girl from Kijimi, obviously an old acquaintance of Poe’s, who had revealed that he had once been a spice runner, not that the notion made any sense to Finn, and with whom Poe was apparently on good enough terms to suggest… kissing. And of whom Finn knew nothing. Of course. So really, Finn wasn’t the only one keeping secrets from his friends and allies and mission partners and whatever else he wanted to call Poe in that moment.
An hour or so later, Poe found Finn and Rose working on some ship counts. With the eventful (to say the least) trip to Exegol, there was a lot to account for in all kinds of domains, and Finn firmly believed that his status should grant him no respite from partaking in such calculations. Poe admired that, but was not himself very good with numbers. Or staying calm enough to count. Or doing repetitive work, no matter how important it was or how much emotional weight it carried.
“Hey, Finn, Rose.”
“You mean, General and Rose,” the young woman teased with a smile.
“Right. General,” he said with a smile and a dip of his head in Finn’s direction, “can I talk to you for a second?”
“Oh, yeah, sure. Rose, can you carry on without me for a while?”
“Of course, go on.”
Finn got up from his spot in front of a screen, stepping over a log and several nondescript bags, to walk to Poe, and they both backed into a sandy part of the base, a few steps away from anyone else.
“I was just talking with Kaydel -”
“Oh, right, okay.”
“Nothing especially interesting you absolutely need to be aware of, but it did make me think of something. This,” he said as he gestured between the two of them, “is confusing to a lot of people around. I think we should do something about that.”
Finn looked confused for a second and Poe realized he probably hadn’t made it very clear. Finn probably thought… oh, no, Poe was not going there quite yet. Not while Finn was still keeping from him what he wanted to tell Rey.
“I mean, the generals thing. General and General, people get confused. You know?”
“Ohh, yeah, of course, I agree. But what can we do?”
“Well, we could start by getting you a last name. That’s got to come in handy, even outside of this setting.”
“Oh. Well, I had been thinking… but that’s not going to help with anything… Um…”
“What is it, Finn? What had you been thinking?”
Poe was slightly annoyed at Finn’s hesitation in the past few days to share information and feelings with him, and it reflected in the sharp tone of his voice. Now, annoyed wasn’t the exact word he was looking for or feeling at that moment, but it was all he was bringing himself to admit, even to himself.
“I was… I was wondering if I could borrow your name,” Finn mumbled, running a hand through his hair, visibly embarrassed.
That definitely took Poe by surprise.
“Buddy… sure! Yeah, of course you can take my name. I’d be honoured. Are you sure you want that one though? It’s the time to be creative, make up anything you want.”
“No, I think… I think I want to be called Dameron.”
“Finn Dameron,” Poe said with a wide smile, “it suits you.”
Finn was unable to hide his smile and he hugged his co-general before whispering words of thanks into the man’s ear. Poe patted Finn’s back, feeling once again that he’d made the right decision by sharing the generalship with the former Stormtrooper.
“You’re right though, that does not solve this little general referencing issue,” Poe laughed.
“They could always just call us Finn and Poe.”
“Usually, I’d be all for that, but right now, we need to be taken seriously by outside organizations, and if the Resistance refers to its generals by their first names, it won’t work. What about General P and General F, huh?”
“I like that.”
Poe felt he was going to regret the next thing that came out of his mouth, but he asked anyway.
“So, um… What is it you were going to tell Rey? Did you tell her? Can I know now, too, or is it still a secret from me?”
He tried to keep his voice as neutral as possible, but some jealousy was obviously still coming through, judging by Finn’s face. He looked annoyed, nervous or frustrated. Maybe all of these at the same time.
“Why are you so… so adamant about this?”
“Maybe I just want to know what’s going with you! With the man I trusted to be my co-general! With my friend!”
Poe was screaming, but not as loud as the voice in his head was urging him to. At Finn. At himself. At the universe for putting him in this situation.
“Then maybe you should just trust me!”
“Why should I when you don’t trust me?”
“I don’t trust you?” Finn said with a look of disbelief, “You were a spice runner! And you never told us!”
“You were a Stormtrooper!”
“You knew that the second we met and you still trusted me with your life! What changed?”
Poe looked bitterly to the ground, not saying anything.
“What changed?” Finn pushed further.
“Nothing’s changed! Not on my end!”
Poe wasn't entirely sure whether that was a good thing or a bad thing.
“What’s the deal with you and Zorii? What’s the deal with the kissing?”
“What’s it to you?”
“Maybe I want to know about your past! You know all about mine, why not return the favour?”
“It’s just an inside joke,” Poe spat out, still bitter, “from when we were kids. I kissed her once because some guy was harassing her and didn’t believe she had a boyfriend. I supplied the boyfriend. It became code for me getting her out of trouble. You happy?”
“Yeah, I’m happy!”
“Good. Now you’re the only one hiding anything.”
They’d reached the top of the mountain whose slope they’d been climbing. Finn was staying silent, so Poe took a deep breath and turned to him.
“Well, General F, I guess I’ll get going.”
His voice was hard, unforgiving, and mean. He spun on his feet and started walking back down the slope, too fast, and he slipped. A hand caught his and he looked up to see Finn kneeling on the edge of the mountain, a worried and apologetic smile tugging at his lips.
“Don’t kill off the general, please,” he said.
“I have the Force.”
“That’s what I was going to tell Rey. I have the Force.”
“Yeah, I guess so.”
“Can you pull me up a little?”
“Oh, yeah, sorry. Right away.”
36 ABY, Coruscant
“Can you help me with this tie?”
“Huh?” Poe asked, his head popping out of the hotel bathroom, shaving cream on his face.
“I know you showed me how that time for the auction mission in Coronet City but I can’t remember how it goes.”
Finn’s face was scrunched up in concentration and frustration, making a little something inside of Poe’s stomach flutter.
“Okay, just wait a sec ‘till I finish shaving and I’ll be right with you.”
“Thanks. Hey, do you think it’s weird we’re sharing a room here?”
“Nah. I mean,” he shook his razor in the sink water and brought it back up to his cheek, “Resistance funds are pretty short, and this room has two beds anyway. And it’s easier for strategy meetings. And we booked last minute, there couldn’t have been a lot of rooms available in the capital. We did everyone a favour, really.”
Except probably Poe’s heartrate by being so close to an occasionally shirtless Finn. But that didn’t matter. The fact that those were all lame excuses didn’t matter, either.
Poe came out of the bathroom, patting his face dry with a towel, and Finn asked:
“Do you know what’s our plan for today?”
“We’ll go visit the remnants of the Jedi Temple, then we get to speak in front of the Senate. At least, what’s left of it.”
“Why did they decide to put it back on Coruscant, anyway? Isn’t that just an especially loud reminder of the days of the Empire?”
“Because the First Order blew up Hosnian Prime, most likely, and we were collectively too broke to build a whole new Senate,” Poe suggested.
“Eh, makes sense.”
“So, this tie. Come on, I’ll show you again.”
“Thank you,” Finn said emphatically, finally giving up and letting the fabric fall to his lapel.
A few hours later, the two men were walking through the ruins of the Jedi temple that had once been the centre of Coruscant. The outside was still in good shape because of its recent reconstruction, but the inside was a wreck. Still, it felt like the right thing to do for both of them. Poe, because of Leia and his mother, who had planted a Force tree in their backyard on Yavin IV. Finn, for obvious reasons.
“I’ll go check out the historical frescos in that wing,” Poe said as he gestured left. He patted Finn on the chest as he passed him and headed off. Finn kept on straight ahead, towards an old training wing.
As he was walking through the wall paintings, some unrecognizable and some practically intact, Poe wondered if his mother had ever walked these halls, admired these frescos, wondered about a world in which the Jedi protected them all. She had been too young to remember a time before Order 66, and he had been born in the midst of the war, so he of course knew nothing of such a time. He also wondered if Leia had ever seen these paintings, or if her training with her brother had been exclusively offworld. Everything in her training had been unconventional and yet Poe felt as though Leia had been the person whose use of the Force appeared the most obvious, the most majestic. The Force was everywhere in her, around her, as if oozing from her very pores. Poe knew of course that it was nonsense, that the Force couldn’t ooze out of someone, his mother had relayed all the information about the Force she had learned from Luke Skywalker himself, but he did not have the Force and yet he had felt it around Leia.
It had been months since he had last felt it, the feeling he’d first experience playing in the backyard as a child, then when he’d climbed the ranks of the Resistance and started being around the General much more. He knew the Force was everywhere and his friends themselves had it, but he could only feel it in presence of what he called wells of Force. These people, objects, places, where the Force seemed to be overflowing. In a way, it might be why he was here at all, in this temple. The presence reminded him of his mother, and of the woman who had been like one for years. But he felt nothing of the sort yet, and it frustrated him.
He flattened his hand on the walls, beside a particularly lifelike representation of a Jedi Master wielding a double-bladed green lightsaber against adversaries he couldn’t quite make out, and closed his eyes. He willed himself to feel it, feel anything. He stayed there, silent, unyielding, for several minutes. He felt nothing.
I’ll never feel like that again, I have to realize that.
He wasn’t sure what that admission made him feel, but it was not something great. He let out a heavy breath and walked away from the wall, and there he stood, alone in this grand wreck of a fallen religion, surrounded by paintings of feats he could never fathom to understand, the impossibly high ceiling somehow miraculously intact. A wave of loneliness crashed over him, and he shivered. It was time to find Finn, it was not good to be alone with such feelings in this mystical place.
He walked back to where he was coming from, hoping to find his friend at the intersection at which he’d left him, which was, he realized as he reached it, dumb. Of course Finn would have moved, too.
“Finn?” he called out as he started down a corridor.
When there was no answer, not even the noise of someone walking or a small stone moving so much as a centimetre, Poe started jogging to cover ground quicker, and called out Finn’s name again. When there was still no answer, Poe started frantically looking around him and jogging faster. And when he finally caught sight of Finn, admiring the old Jedi Council room, he ran up to him.
Finn sounded both startled and relieved to hear his co-general. He walked to meet Poe halfway (it was more like a third of the way, but the thought was there), who hugged him as they collided.
“I thought I’d lost you.”
“I was right here,” Finn replied, confused.
“Yeah, I guess you were.”
And then Poe kissed Finn, he wasn’t sure why, but it felt like the right thing to do at that moment. And then Finn was kissing him back, so he guessed it really was the right thing to do at that moment.
“What was that for?” Finn breathed out.
“I’m relieved to see you.”
Poe nuzzled Finn’s neck, breathing him in. He really was relieved to see his friend. When he brought his face back up to look into Finn’s eye, the man kissed him, too.
“There’s a lot of relief going around,” Finn muttered as an explanation.
They spent the rest of the day together and in front of the Senate, but they didn’t bring up the kisses again.
37 ABY, Ajan Kloss
It was somewhat of a miracle that the Resistance had managed to keep their base for more than a few months. It had been 21 months since Leia had established a base in Ajan Kloss, and Poe and Finn saw no immediate reason to change that. There was the practicality, but there was also an unspoken agreement to keep as long as possible everything that pertained to the departed General who had preceded them. It wasn’t just Poe, either, most of the Resistance had this feeling.
That was why it was a bit of a shock when the idea of changing bases was brought up in a meeting.
“Are you sure, Poe? This base is fine, practical, and not in any immediate danger. Why would we move?” asked a worried Finn, visibly hearing the first of this, just like the rest of the Resistance around them.
“We keep having to go to Coruscant to visit the Senate, to explain, to give testimonies… And we’re stuck on an Outer Rim world. We would save time and fuel if we were based closer to the Core Worlds.”
“General P – while the idea is a good one, we could hardly get much closer. Most of the Core Worlds are full of cities, we can’t drop in a whole base in their midst, and much of the Colonies have been destroyed by the First Order,” noted Statura.
“Well then, what about planets on the Inner Rim?”
“Like Jakku?” a young pilot piped up.
“Oh, hell no,” said the younger of the two generals.
“No – not Jakku, but yeah. Birren, Riosa, Bastatha, Arreyel…” Poe kept on.
“Birren hated General Organa with a burning passion, Riosa has no space for us, Bastatha also hated General Organa, Arreyel has lethal radiation planet-wide.”
“Storms every day.”
“It’s a big city on a planet.”
“General, it’s a desert.”
“Gorse, or Cynda?”
“Gorse is tidally locked, General…”
“Are there any Inner Rim planets left?” Poe huffed, deflating.
“None come to mind, General P.”
“Well, let’s forget, then. Meeting adjourned.”
Poe walked out of the room fairly quickly, leaving everyone else dumbfounded. Finn felt all the looks in the room on him. He shrugged, his brow furrowed in a worried frown, and followed Poe out to the Generals’ quarters.
“Hey,” he said as he opened the door to their shared antechamber. Thankfully, Poe had not gotten to his bedroom and was still sitting on a couch, looking lost in thought.
“What was that all about?” Finn continued. When he received no answer, he sat down beside Poe and put his hand on his friend’s knee. Only then did Poe look up to Finn and give a sad smile.
“Coruscant is far away.”
“That’s it? You want to move away from the base General Organa built because the trips are too long for your taste?”
“I’m becoming my mother,” Poe whispered, a terror in his voice.
This puzzled Finn more than anything that had happened previously, because as far as he knew, Shara Bey had been a remarkable, admirable and admired woman, according to everyone, but most of all Poe. He had been following her footsteps all his life, since the moment he had enlisted into the Republic fleet as soon as he was old enough. What could possibly be terrifying about becoming like her?
“I don’t understand,” Finn quietly replied as he rubbed circles on Poe’s back, “even if you are, which I’m not saying you are or aren’t, why is that a bad thing?”
Poe bit his lip and gave a shaky breath, looking down at his intertwined hands.
“When I was a kid, my mom was always gone,” he finally said, “Always off to fight the Empire or on a mission with Luke Skywalker.”
There was a bitterness in the way he said the Jedi’s name.
“I know it was good. I know she was doing the right thing for the galaxy, for the Rebellion, for her conscience. And she was doing a real, useful job, with Rebellion icons and heroes. But she was never there. Even when the war was over, she was helping Luke Skywalker restore the Jedi and whatnot. I didn’t see all that much of her and then… she was gone. I was eight and she was gone and I barely knew how to fly her A-wing and she was never going to be there anymore.”
Finn did not say anything, letting Poe go on to get everything off his chest.
“And then… I don’t know. I followed along her footsteps. I became a pilot, I followed Leia around, I climbed ranks and I fell – I, uh… I fell… from grace.”
He gave a little cough, reddening.
“Not that she fell from grace,” he added quickly, doing a horrible job of covering up his mistake, “I guess what I’m trying to say is, the next step is that I’ll be away a lot. Too much. It starts with long trips and then it’ll be even longer trips and then a second living space away from here and…”
He had a small, dry laugh.
“And I’ll be away from the people I care about, the family I have left, sooner than I know.” He looked to the wall, not seeing it, and breathed in.
“I don’t want to be away from you,” he finally added in a heartbroken whisper.
“Hey… the Resistance will be fine. We know you care, we know you don’t want to be far away. Your people know you, Poe, and they won’t let you completely go away without putting up a fight.”
“Yeah… you’re probably right. Let’s forget that whole base idea for a while,” Poe said with a weak and unconvincing smile.
Finn stood up and smiled, walking away satisfied. He didn’t notice Poe fall back into the couch, his face in his hands.
“He thought you meant a general you? Like, a ‘the whole Resistance’ you?”
“Yeah. This is hopeless and stupid,” he said, sighing as he threw the cloth he was using to clean his X-wing on the floor and stepped over his toolbox.
Poe was recounting the previous day’s events with Finn to Jess Pava, his Black Squadron teammate, with increasing levels of unease and self-doubt.
“Oh, please, it’s not stupid. And it’s probably not helpless, either. You just have to be more upfront about it. He was most likely never used to subtle declarations like that, and it’s not like the First Order taught Stormtroopers how to flirt,” she noted with a smirk.
“No, I have to stop these delusions. He doesn’t feel that way about me, and that’s okay.”
He wiped his hands on the front of his jumper.
“Poe, come on… What’s going on? Why are you so… so unhappy and defeatist lately?”
“I’m not defeatist, I’m realistic. There is just no way he hasn’t picked up on my feelings. And he hasn’t said anything about it. Ergo, he doesn’t feel the same way.”
“Didn’t he tell you he didn’t have any romantic feelings for either Rey or Rose?”
“Before our mission in Coronet City, yes, but that was years ago, and it doesn’t mean he has romantic feelings for me.”
“Didn’t the two of you kiss a few months ago?”
“But he didn’t bring it up again,” Poe said, practically whining at that point.
Jess rolled her eyes.
“You’re literally living together!” she shrieked, exasperated.
“No, we’re not!” Poe replied, offended, “We are sharing quarters, as is normal for two generals to do.”
“I heard that Han Solo and Leia Organa had separate quarters in the Rebellion days, officially at least. And they were married. ‘Sharing quarters,’” she emphasized with air quotes, “is not common.”
“We sleep in two separate bedrooms.”
“You share a bathroom!”
“I like to talk strategy while brushing my teeth!”
“Do you know how ridiculous that sounds?”
“No,” he lied, sounding unconvinced, “and that isn’t the point at all. Whatever. There’s nothing I can do.”
“Whatever you say… I say you’re being ridiculous.”
“Oh, hi, Jessika.”
The Jedi looked up from the ship she was repairing and wiped sweat off her brow.
“Sorry to disturb you,” started the young pilot, “but I know you’re… well acquainted with both Finn and Poe and I had some questions.”
Rey carefully sat up from her lying position on the floor.
“What’s going on? Did something happen?”
“That thoroughly depends on who you’re asking, I think. Poe seems to think the problem is that nothing happened.”
Rey rolled her eyes.
“Is this about their mutual refusal to admit they’re in love?”
Jess was surprised she caught on so quickly.
“Well… yeah, actually. Anyone who knows Poe at all, and I’ve known him for years, sees that he’s been in love with Finn since the actual day they met. And now he wants to give up, although we can’t really consider he was doing much before.”
“Besides the lingering glances, lip biting and insistent touches?”
“Besides that, yeah. God, they’re hopeless.”
“I can’t believe they aren’t officially together yet,” Rey mused, looking lost in her thoughts.
“But wait, so you said Finn is also in love with Poe?”
“They’re living together!” Rey said, squinting at Jess as if she was out of her mind to think otherwise. Jess was incredibly close to laughing at the young woman’s expression and frankly cute accent.
“Has either of them said anything to you about that recently?”
“Well, a few days ago Finn seemed jealous of how much time Poe spends with you.”
“These two boys are insane.”
“They are,” Rey nodded, “and they won’t do anything about it on their own.”
“Will you help me?” Jess asked, standing up and extending her hand downward to the Jedi.
Rey took it with a smile.
“Hey, Finn, the meeting is in 5 minutes. We should get going,” Poe called as he picked up the other general’s jacket from the couch.
“Just a second,” Finn said, and he walked out of the bathroom, “What do you think Rey meant when she called in the meeting?”
“You mean ‘defining the inner structure of the relationship between command officers’? I wonder too. That’s one weird reason for a meeting.”
“I guess we’ll see soon. Thanks,” he added as Poe helped him into his sewn-up jacket.
“Come on,” murmured Poe, patting Finn’s chest and picking up his keys from the dish beside the door.
They were the first there, and Finn started sorting files to occupy time, while Poe kept looking around him and at his watch.
“Do you think maybe we got the time wrong?” he asked his co-general.
Finn checked his messages.
“I don’t think so. It says 1100 hours here. It’s… 1113 hours.”
Poe bit his lip in worry, then pushed himself off the wall to the communications apparatus.
“I’ll try to contact the others,” then, after a few seconds, “Rey? Do you copy?”
There was no answer. Poe tried again, without success.
“Just try somebody else,” Finn suggested.
Poe nodded and clicked a few buttons.
“Rose? This is Poe. Do you copy?”
There was no answer either.
“Maybe the machine is broken,” suggested Finn, unconvinced.
Poe sounded even less convinced. He pushed a few additional buttons.
“Karé? It’s Poe. Do you copy?”
“Poe? What’s the problem?”
“Why is no one at the command meeting? Finn and I are the only ones here. You didn’t get the message from Rey yesterday?”
“I did, but I received another message this morning that it had been canceled. I talked to Koo at the hangar and she got the same one, too. Weird that you and Finn didn’t – oh. Oh.”
“What do you mean, ‘oh’?”
“Poe, just… look over the subject matter of the meeting. I think your little Jedi friend is sending you a message. Talk to you later.”
She disconnected her comm and Poe was left to stare at the apparatus.
“What did she say?” Finn asked, taking a step towards the older man.
Defining the inner structure of the relationship between command officers… Maybe two officers in particular… The highest ranking officers… The inner structure of their relationship… Maybe the nature of their relationship…
Thoughts were swirling into Poe’s head. Well, Rey certainly was crafty. And the whole ordeal stank of a certain Black Squadron pilot.
The man whipped his head up at the mention of his name, his eyes still clouded over and his face still stuck in a frown.
“Yeah?” Poe said, as if he had no idea what was going on.
“What did she say?” Finn repeated, slowly.
“Not her exact words, but she said, ah,” Poe shook his head and crossed his arms, leaning back onto the wall behind him, “that we have to talk.”
“Then why isn’t she here?”
“Just you and me.”
“But we live together, that’s absurd, why here?”
Poe gave a sharp breath in and shook his head with a repressed smile. Why did everyone keep mentioning that?
“I think, I think maybe Rey orchestrated this. This meeting. The subject. I’m pretty sure Jess helped her.”
Poe was gesturing a lot and Finn looked at his comm again, to find Rey’s message about the meeting. “Defining the inner structure of the relationship between command officers”. What did that mean? Then, suddenly, it hit him. That suddenly made more sense. He looked up to Poe, who nodded.
“I don’t know if I want anything to change,” Finn started, and Poe looked down and nodded.
“Well then, I think we’re done here.”
“Wait, Poe. Come on. At least hear me out.”
Poe nodded and licked his bottom lip, looking at Finn more intently.
“I like how things are. I like knowing where I stand. I like feeling in control.”
“You know where you stand? I’ve been asking myself where I stand with you for years.”
“I know where my feelings stand, and I know we have a privileged relationship that I value.”
“Then like I said, I think we’re done.”
Finn sighed, frustrated.
“Look. I’m scared, okay? I’ve always been scared. I was terrified of the First Order, then I was terrified of leading Rey into a trap, and terrified of losing the whole Resistance, terrified of everything falling apart. I’m scared of everything slipping out of my hands because it feels like my personal life is the only thing I have a semblance of control over. And if anything changes, if I say anything, just the one word that’s too much, then I’ll be losing that, too.”
Poe’s face and voice softened.
“But you fought the First Order. You tried to lead Rey elsewhere. You led the Resistance to victory. Why can’t you talk to me?”
“Because every single person on the damn base in head over heels for you!”
“Head over heels for me? I had to ask you about Rey and Rose and Jannah because I didn’t know what was going on because every breathing being is in love with you!”
Finn took a step back, eyes wide and heart pounding.
“What did you just say?”
I said too much. But screw it, this is exactly what this little meeting was for, anyway. Poe gulped and took a step forward.
“I said that every breathing being is in love with you. That includes…” he took a shaky breath, “that includes me.”
Finn remained speechless, and angled his head to the side.
“Are you going to pretend that never happened, either?” he whispered.
“What?” Poe breathed, his voice hoarse and shaky, frowning slightly.
“The kiss. That time in the Jedi temple. You never talked about it again. I figured you just realized you made a mistake.”
“I thought you were the one ignoring it. That you wanted to forget I ever did that. I just wanted to give you space.”
“What if I don’t want to be given space?”
“Then I guess there’s not much else to be said.”
Poe took the last two steps separating him from Finn and grabbed the sides of his face, bringing the younger man to him. Their lips brushed fiercely, before the kiss got deeper and Finn’s hands were all over Poe’s hair and Poe’s were around Finn’s waist.
“Let’s not forget that one, okay?” Poe whispered.
“Let’s never forget it,” Finn confirmed before adding, “I love you too, by the way.”
Poe smiled very very brightly and didn’t stop at any point during that day.
38 ABY, Coruscant
“General, uh, P, what do you suggest, then?” an Abednedo voice boomed in the Senate.
“With all due respect, sir, I disagree with the policy the Senate is trying to pass. I am here on behalf of the Resistance –”
At that, murmurs started resonating throughout the room, hundreds of little voices expressing their unsolicited opinion.
“What use does the Resistance even have, these days?” the Senator from Naboo asked in annoyance.
“This is not what I am here to discuss today. My counterpart, General F, explained this the last time he was in this very room. The Resistance is a body of people fighting for the good cause. We have always been allied and affiliated to the Republic, and this time choose to remain in place in the eventuality that any organization decides to threaten the democracy or current order again. Now –”
But once again, Poe couldn’t finish before conversations started around him and it was all that he could not to roll his eyes in annoyance. How did these people ever get anything done?
“Now,” he said, more loudly, to regain the attention of the senators, “I am here on behalf of the Resistance and plead you to realize the mistake you are making. Democracy doesn’t discriminate between people’s past. Children have nothing to do with their parents’ and tutors’ choices and actions. Punishing them is not the answer. The Education Bill does just that. All the children in the galaxy should receive the same courses. If they are all aware of our collective shared history in the same way, we can better prevent falling back to the days of the Empire or the First Order. Discrimination now will only lead to more discrimination later, and that time, it may not benefit you.”
At that, applauds erupted from various points in the enormous room, and Poe was fairly certain that he had won these politicians over.
“And what authority in the matter do you have, General? You are only in your thirties. What war experience do you have?”
“I was a child of the war against the Empire, and mentored by General Leia Organa, who left me in charge of the Resistance. I led, along with General F, the final strike against the Sith. And I know children who were not given the choice because of where they came from, and they still took a chance, broke the mold built for them and chose good. They are some of the best people I know.”
I even fell in love with one, if you will believe that, he thought to himself.
“Thank you, General P, we will take your testimony in consideration for the redaction of the bill,” the Abednedo Senator reiterated.
Poe bowed his head as the platform holding him at the centre of the Senate retracted to the sides. This time, it really was a done deal. There was no way they could pass a bill Leia Organa’s protégé had opposed so vehemently.
“Why do they go by one letter?” whispered the nearby Senator of Mon Cala to her aide.
“I think the two generals have the same family name, so they go by the first letter of their first name.”
“Are they married?”
“I don’t think so. But they should be,” the aide dreamily answered as her gaze shifted to the platform Poe was exiting.
“Threepio,” he was saying, “notify Finn I’ll be home in half an hour.”
“Of course, Master Poe,” the droid acquiesced.
While Poe’s panicked eruption of the previous year about making long trips had been exaggerated on his part, as the Senate kept calling on them more and more to testify on various aspects of the war that had just ended or even the future the organization was building, making the trips was getting long and, frankly, a waste of time. The generals had decided to take an apartment in Coruscant, to stay there every few weeks to be close to the Senate, and to leave Kaydel Ko Connix in charge on Ajan Kloss when they were not there. Rose and Kaydel formed a great team and always managed to keep everything organized in their absence. Plus, everyone liked them.
Poe held his key to the detector, and pushed the door to the apartment he shared with his boyfriend when the light turned green.
“Hey, sleepyhead, I’m home,” he called into the apartment as he dropped his keys on the bowl beside the door. Finn was often dozing off by the time Poe came by from long hearings at the Senate. He always woke up, but was usually a bit foggy while Poe talked to him about what had happened.
“I’m not even sleeping,” a voice called from the kitchen.
“Good, the kitchen doesn’t seem like the best place to do that,” Poe replied, a smile in his voice.
“How was your day?” Finn asked when Poe entered the kitchen, where he was making a last minute dinner for the two of them.
“Did you wait for me to eat supper?” Poe said, surprised.
“Yeah. It gets a little lonely, eating alone. Especially since you took C-3PO with you.”
Poe chuckled and kissed Finn on the cheek, wrapping his arms around him from behind.
“I’m going to burn this if you keep distracting me.”
“Mhm… okay,” and Poe nuzzled into Finn’s neck, which caused the younger man to laugh.
“So, did the Senators listen to you?”
“I’m not entirely sure. I think so, but I had to drop the L-bomb for it to fully imprint in their minds just how bad their idea was.”
The L-bomb was what they’d grown to call the use of Leia’s name in political conversations to gain an advantage, just between the two of them, of course. They knew they followed the late General’s ideals, but they didn’t want to use her or her name excessively, to gain something for themselves.
“It was for the good of the galaxy and its children,” Finn asserted.
Poe nodded into Finn’s shoulder.
An hour later, they were lying in bed, both unable to sleep. Finn was the first to speak up.
“You don’t have to keep going to the Senate, you know? I can handle talking to them. I know you hate them and their politics and their attitude.”
“It wouldn’t be fair to you. You have your training. Anyway, I have to be good at this, talking to people.”
“Why? You’re a pilot and a General. It’s okay if you can’t suck up to stuck up politicians.”
“Suck up to stuck ups…” Poe laughed.
Finn threw a pillow at him.
“Shut up, you got what I meant.”
“Yeah,” Poe sobered, “but I need to do this, you know? I have to be able to do this.”
“General Organa was a force of nature. Her role was divided between the two of us. You don’t have to be everything she was. You don’t have to be a clone of who she was and how she ran things. She named you Acting General because of who you are, not because you’re her.”
Poe considered Finn’s words and gave him a little smile.
“I guess you’re probably right.”
“You know I’m right. And I love you because of who you are, too.”
Poe rolled over to his boyfriend and buried his face in Finn’s chest.
“I love you.”
Finn ran circles around Poe’s back, closing his eyes and holding him close.
“Don’t fall asleep yet.”
“Why not? It’s time.”
Poe sat up, much to Finn’s protesting moans.
“Where are you going?”
“Finn,” said Poe, wary, as he took his chain off.
“Yes?” asked Finn as he also sat up, rubbing his eyes.
Poe opened his palm to reveal the chain he had been wearing for as long as Finn knew him, a thick silvery grey ring hanging from it.
“Will you marry me?”
“Will you marry me?” Poe repeated, a smile tugging at his lips.
“Oh, hell yeah,” Finn said, smothering Poe’s lips with his own, closing his eyes.
When they broke apart, Poe looked down shyly at his open palm.
“That was my mother’s wedding ring. She said to give it to the right person, that I’d know when they came along. The person I’d spend the rest of my life with.”
“I know,” Finn smiled.
“Jess told me.”
“She what now?”
“She warned me. When we started dating, she told me about the ring.”
“What a secret breaker. Can’t have any romantic surprises around here.”
Finn laughed and kissed Poe again.
“Well anyway…” Poe spoke up, looking nervous as he brought the chain up to Finn’s neck. He fastened it and Finn lay his hand on Poe’s when Poe couldn’t bring it down.
“I guess now you have the whole outfit I had when I met you. Except maybe the underwear,” the pilot joked.
“I’ve seen them, you can keep those.”
“There’s also your fabulous hair, I’ll never be able to steal that.”
“Stop teasing or I might take that back!” Poe laughed, pointing a finger at Finn’s neck.
“No, I wouldn’t,” he conceded.
Poe realized that he really did know when Finn came along that he’d be the one he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. Finn had probably not been aware, but Poe had fallen in love right then with that cute Stormtrooper screaming “did you see that?!” proudly, 10 minutes into their meeting. It was the craziest, most surreal thing that a Stormtrooper with years of abuse behind him would trust so openly and carefreely a Resistance pilot he’d just met. He told Finn exactly that, wonder in his eyes as he talked to his new fiancé.
“It was the rugged hero look. Split lip, tousled hair, cute butt,” Finn said without blinking.
“You didn’t even have time to see my butt.”
“Oh, yes, I did. Great view.”
Poe shook his head and laughed, kissing Finn another time.
“It wasn’t really that,” Finn finally said, “although I did notice all of it, make no mistake. There was something in your eyes I decided just had to be good. And I was amazed at the idea that you could fly anything.”
“I fell in love with you that day.”
“I didn’t really know if what I was feeling for you was just because you were the first truly good person I met or if it was something else.”
“When did you figure it out?”
“When Rose kissed me.”
“I mean, I knew I liked you a lot and that you weren’t like the others. But when she kissed me, I realized I didn’t want to be kissing her, I wanted to be kissing you. And I realized I was relieved I was still alive so that maybe one day you’d know.”
“It took us so long, damnit. So, when we relocated the Resistance to Ryloth, we were both in love. When we went to Coronet City to get those lists, we were both in love. When we did all these missions just the two of us and kept fighting, we were both in love. We were practically a married couple before I even proposed.”
They both looked at each other and burst out laughing, again.
“I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you,” Finn whispered.
40 ABY, Skeressa
Rey was cornered, covered in dirt, panting, a lightsaber pointed at her while her own was laying a few paces to her left. Some might have considered it a bad situation. Rey saw it as progress, although she easily could have swiped her legs at her opponent’s and rolled away to her own yellow saber, dodging the green one pointed at her. She got up as Finn took a step back, accepting his hand to help her stand up. He then pushed the control button to his lightsaber blade and asked her how he’d been.
“Good. Better. You know, not my level quite yet but you’re getting there,” she said with a teasing grin as she wiped dirt from her clothes.
“One is only ever as good as one’s master,” Finn replied cheekily.
They made their way to Rey’s small hut and she offered him some of the hengberry she had been growing, or, rather, that had, against her will, sprung up in her backyard. He shook his head.
“I should be going back, it’s getting late. Poe will be waiting for me, and he’s already had a long week, I can’t keep him up at ungodly hours.”
“Of course. Say hi for me.”
“I will. See you next week!”
Rey smiled at her friend and popped a hengberry in her mouth. She grimaced. Not even near to being ripe. That was the problem with those purple berries; you never could tell whether they were ripe or not because of their unchanging colour.
“Do think of what I told you about!” she called after him, and he turned back to give her a nod and a wave.
Once he got to the apartment he shared with his fiancé on Coruscant, Finn dropped his bag to the floor and turned the lights on, only to find Poe asleep on the couch, legs spread and drool dripping out of the corner of his mouth. Finn tiptoed to said couch and kissed the man on the cheek delicately.
“I’m home. You can go to sleep in the bedroom now,” he whispered before heading to the bathroom to take the shower he had decided he didn’t have time to take on Skeressa. When he had finally gotten the damn showerhead to work and started spreading soap over his body, he heard the floorboards of the hallway creak and his fiancé’s voice from the doorway.
“How was training?” Poe mumbled, sleepy, pressing his palms to his eyelids.
“Uh, it was good. It was pretty good. I managed to corner Rey,” Finn called over the sound of the running water.
“Really? Wow, that is good.”
Finn stepped out of the shower, towel tied around his waist, and took a look at Poe.
“Babe, you have to go to sleep. You’re too tired,” was his assessment.
“No, this is fine. I want to,” he cleared his throat, “I want to know about your day.”
Finn just nodded, keeping eye contact with the older man, worrying slightly for him. For the past months, they had moved in to the apartment permanently, as the Resistance had started slowly disbanding, the base had been unutilized for a while and all the valuable equipment had found its way to a container Finn and Poe both kept a key to, but that was located offworld. The organization wasn’t needed anymore, peace was well established. The two generals wanted to keep all of it rolling in case there ever was an emergency again, but having permanent staff, a base, a fleet, was no longer necessary and a lot of it had been donated to the burgeoning Republic. (They wanted to call themselves the New Republic, but that had already been taken by a democracy that had crumbled within 30 years, so they simply reverted back to Republic. Some called it the Third Republic. Poe called it an assembly of buffoons unable to get anything done quickly.) Since then, they had both started getting new occupations. Poe had volunteered to do the task they both largely despised, although the pilot was by far the most averse to the exercise he had elected to spare Finn from: emissary to the Republic. He was an adviser to the Chancellor, some Togruta named Fijert Untoh, but was also often called upon as a pilot and military leader having served in the War. (That’s what they called it, the War, as if no other war had ever raged. Poe found it distasteful and lazy, but of course he couldn’t vocalize that opinion. The Chancellor had reminded him that fact rather coldly the first time he’d brought it up in front of hundreds of Senators.) Finn, on his side, had been training with Rey to harness his Force abilities. He was very far from calling himself a Jedi (and way too old for him to accept to call himself a Padawan) but he was getting good at manipulating a lightsaber, mind tricks and a few other Force abilities. He’d thought Force Lightning sounded very cool, but Rey refused to even try to perform it herself, despite her uncanny ability to summon it. They’d all witnessed it on Pasaana. She maintained no Skywalker had ever used Force Lightning and Finn had decided never to bring that up again.
“Rey did mention an idea she had. Nothing is decided or even a clear plan,” he added hastily.
“What is it?” Poe asked, curious.
“She’d like to start a small school. Maybe an orphanage of sorts. A boarding school. For Force-sensitive kids from all over the galaxies. They should learn to harness their abilities. And she could give them a home, too.”
“I think that’s a great idea! So many kids grow up without knowledge of how they can make sense of their… gifts.”
“Yeah, they do. I don’t think it would be a school for Jedi, not quite, just a place for them to not lose control, to feel seen, you know? And she asked me if I wanted to be a part of it. I think I do.”
“You’d be a brilliant teacher.”
“You think so?”
Poe stifled a yawn.
“Come on, go to sleep,” he said and led Poe to the bedroom, then tucked him in.
He wondered if many kids would want to join their little school. Where they’d build it. Whether Poe would like it. He knew Poe would be supportive and always behind him – hell, he was right now – but he felt like something hadn’t been quite right with his fiancé when he had brought up the idea.
Regardless, in under a year, the Skywalker Academy had been built on Skeressa, right beside Rey’s modest home and the wide spaces she had used to teach Finn, welcoming two dozen students aged between 5 and 12 years old the day it opened. Finn flew in every morning from Coruscant to teach the younglings and flew back home every night, to be with Poe, and thankfully the planets were not very distant. Regardless of the commute, Finn loved his job and felt fulfilled with all these kids. Every night, he whispered stories about the younglings’ progress to a smiling Poe, who stroked his cheeks and kissed his neck, trying to remember all the little ones’ names.
41 ABY, Coruscant
Beeps resonated through the Damerons’ apartment, over and over again.
“Whose comm is this?” Poe grumbled as he turned over in his bed, flattening a pillow over his ears.
“I don’t know. Just take a look at yours and I’ll take a look at mine,” Finn called from the living room, where he was finishing a piece of toast while fastening his jacket. He grabbed his comm from the nearby coffee table and his heart stopped.
URGENT ALERT! TO ALL PARTIES IT MAY CONCERN – ATTACK ON JAELEN, VILLAGES DECIMATED, RUMOURED TO BE CAUSED BY FIRST ORDER FANATICS – IMMEDIATE ACTION NECESSARY
“Poe! Get up right now!” he screamed as his comm beeped again. He looked down.
Rey Skywalker: Go. I’ll take care of the kids today.
Poe stumbled out of the bedroom, beard unshaven and shirt backward, eyes wide open.
“What are we going to do?” he breathed out.
“I’m going. I transmitted the message to all the Resistance fighters, and I hope they get back to me. You should go to the emergency Senate meeting they’re bound to call and try to get them to send help.”
Poe nodded, brow furrowed.
“You will need troops and ships but also first aid care. I’ll do what I can.”
“See you on the other side.”
“I love you,” Poe whispered as he embraced Finn.
“I love you.”
Fire, fire, fire, everywhere. In every direction Finn looked, all he could see was fire. Trees on fire. Houses on fire. Terrified citizens running away from fire. The only water he could see was streaming down people’s faces. He turned to the dozen or so people behind him, ready to follow his lead. It was a smaller group than he’d hoped for, but it would have to do.
“The most important thing is to get the people out of there. Get them out, get them here, try to keep families together. Try to figure out what’s happening. If you have to, extinguish fires and shoot attackers. Got it?”
Everyone behind him nodded, then disbanded towards the flaming town. Finn took Rose with him and they headed for what looked like it once had been a residential sector.
“Are you really going to walk into a crumbling house to see if there’s anyone?” Rose asked, dubious.
“No, only if I see or hear something. I have a flashlight,” he protested, showing her the object.
As if on cue, a small but persistent sound erupted from a nearby house. Finn gave a quick look to his friend before darting into the house.
“Finn, be careful!” Rose shouted out to him, “This house can come falling at any moment!”
Finn disregarded her input and kept going, walking over fallen objects and following the sound he’d heard outside. He eventually found himself faced with a door, with the certitude that the sound was coming from the other side and that it was a child emitting the sound. He didn’t know if it was an instinct or the Force, but he knew he had to get on the other side of that door, even if it was most likely immensely fragilized by the fire still flickering at various places around the house. He gave the door a small push, to no avail. He knocked it in and rushed inside, trying to locate the child as the doorway started crumbling. The young man flung himself forward to the crib in the corner of the room and cradled the wailing baby in his arms, looking around for a way out of the rapidly collapsing building. He could vaguely make out dusty feet from under fallen beams, where a wall had caved in long before he’d arrived, possibly even hours previously. His heart sank as he understood the implications for the infant in his arms. He grabbed the small, already worn, blanket from the crib, hunched over the newly quiet baby he held and kicked in what seemed like the weakest wall, before running for his life through the hole, stopping only when he reached Rose, on the other side of the small home. She gave him a puzzled but determined look and he gave a curt nod.
She left to find more survivors – there seemed to be so few in the burning, dead, town – while he headed back to the ship to drop his minuscule package off to healers. Once he reached the ship, though, the child had opened her wide green eyes and was looking straight into Finn’s brown and worried ones. She gave a little laugh and Finn’s heart clenched some more. She reached out with her tiny hands and cooed as she took in her saviour. He gave her a small smile so as to not worry her and handed her to Dr. Kalonia. The older woman matched his small smile and gave a simple nod. Finn looked back at the few citizens his team had managed to rescue, not nearly as many as he’d have wanted, and fled back to the embers.
“There was no one left. We have no idea who did this. All we know is they left First Order flags all over the place, burned it down, and left. We rescued anyone we could. They are all on the ship,” Kaydel was speaking calmly into her comm, eyes cold and focused, trying not to let any emotion through, when Finn walked to her.
“The Senate will be back in session in less than 10 minutes,” Poe’s somewhat robotized voice replied from the machine, “I’ll tell them what you’ve told me. I’ll try to make them send patrols to scout the area for more survivors or at least hints pointing towards the culprits.”
Finn imagined Poe passing his hand on his face in the small pause the man on the other side took.
“Is everyone we sent alright?” Poe continued.
“Only minor injuries. We’re fine,” Kaydel replied.
“Good. I’ll talk to all of you when you get here.”
Kaydel closed her eyes and sighed, turning off the comm.
“Thank you for coming today,” Finn told her, “I know your family is keeping you busy.”
Kaydel let out a small, breathy laugh and shook her head.
“Yeah. The twins are almost 2 now. But Cova can handle them.”
Cova Nell was Kaydel Ko Connix’s wife and the former pilot of General Organa’s shuttle. She was a skilled pilot, but had resigned from any military duties after the battle of Exegol. She had been with Leia for years, and could not serve alongside anybody else. Out of the many people scarred by Leia’s passing, Cova had been one of the more affected. Leia had taken her under her wing at the very start of the Resistance and mentored her, taught her everything she knew about politics and war. She had given her a home and a family when her own didn’t want her.
“General F!” a voice came from behind them, interrupting Finn’s train of thought. He turned around to find Dr. Kalonia approaching with a crying bundle in her arms.
“It was you who brought this child in, wasn’t it?” she asked, angling the baby towards Finn.
“Could you, by any chances, take care of her for the journey? I know it’s a lot to ask,” she said, “but she seemed serene in your arms and I have several patients to attend to.”
“Oh, uh, yeah, sure,” Finn said, reaching for the child.
He made a few calming, shushing sounds and rocked her back and forth, and she slowly stopped crying.
“You’re good with her,” Kaydel said, surprised.
“Just luck,” Finn replied with a smile before returning his attention to the child.
“Do you know what happened to her parents?” the young woman asked.
“I think… I don’t think they’ll be coming back for her. I don’t think they’ll be doing much from now on.”
They sat in a pregnant silence, Finn not taking his eyes off the baby in his arms, occasionally tucking her little blanket around her more tightly. She seemed so unaware of all that she had been through, which of course Finn realized was normal, but it broke his heart just the same. When she started to yawn, he rocked her back and forth, whispering to her to go to sleep and that she was safe, slipping in the name he’d decided to call her. When she did go to sleep, it was while still clutching Finn’s index finger in her fist, her breaths brushing on his knuckle, completely oblivious to the world around her.
When Dr. Kalonia came to take her back upon their arrival in Coruscant, he shook his head and looked at the little girl warmly. The healer smiled and walked away.
Poe was waiting on the landing bay with dozens of others, looking worriedly at everyone coming out of the ship, welcoming every refugee to Coruscant. When he spotted Finn in the crowd, he excused himself and jogged to him. He had barely had time to open his mouth that Finn was already shushing him.
“She’s sleeping,” he said, gesturing to the child resting in his arms.
“Is she –”
“Then let’s get her home,” the man simply said, leading his fiancé to their apartment.
“You’ll be fine, Shara,” Finn murmured to the baby, following Poe as his chest fluttered with anticipation.
41 ABY, Yavin IV
Poe’s X-Wing landed on the planet of his childhood, a luxurious green planet that had been the setting of one of the most important Rebellion bases before becoming the home of the small Dameron family. Just like it was no longer a Rebel base or his family’s residence, Yavin IV was no longer green or luxurious, either. Poe had known in advance, but it still hurt to look at. The tall, centuries-old trees were ashes and the small trails between trees were as wide as galactic freeways in some places. The general bit his lip as he gazed at the desolation his first home had become, to the hands of First Order sympathizers. More than sympathizers, what did one call crazy folks who resurrected the ideals and actions of a defeated totalitarian regime?
It had been a few months since the humanitarian crisis on Jaelen, months of constant back and forth between Coruscant and the ruined ashes of what citizens swore had been the most gorgeous façades, months of being at a loss for words, at a loss for understanding. At a loss for answers. But also, months of learning to be a father, months of bonding with his daughter, months of unmitigated joy at her smallest accomplishments. Months of postponing Kes Dameron meeting his granddaughter because he was ill and her immune system was not solid quite yet.
Poe closed his eyes to hold back tears. His father had been the only parental figure he had left. His mother had been taken from him when he was just learning to be a person in this great big galaxy, Leia had been taken from him when he was just learning to be a leader and now his father had been taken from him when he was just learning to be a father himself.
Of course Kes Dameron had fought back. When the invaders had arrived, he’d come marching out of his house, limping on his bad leg and holding his old rifle. When they had started burning everything in sight, he’d marched up to them and tried to stop them. When he’d stirred up enough trouble and saved a family from a crumbling cottage, they’d shot him.
Such had been the account of the few witnesses the Republic and Resistance had managed to extract in one piece. And it didn’t surprise Poe one bit. Sure, Kes enjoyed his quiet life. He was even the one who had convinced his mother to resign from the Rebellion, back when Poe was still too young to remember anything. But there had always been the soul and spirit of a fighter in the man, a spirit Poe knew he didn’t get only from his mother.
This is how he’d have wanted to go, he told himself over and over again. But another thought kept nagging at him. Kes Dameron wouldn’t have wanted to go at all. He would have wanted to meet his granddaughter. He would have wanted to teach his neighbour’s son to pilot a speeder bike. He would have wanted his own son to visit him more often. He would have wanted all the hair on his head to be completely white before he thought of going.
He thought of his daughter, her birth parents gone in an unfair war. A war no one even knew was going on. A war with only one side fighting and the other just withering away, dying violently. His daughter, her fathers, generals in an army that had no precise purpose or affiliation besides fighting what was bad. Not for the first time, Poe found himself wondering if fighting what was bad should mean stepping back, making sure his daughter never experienced the loss of a parent again.
You would have loved her, dad. Shara was energetic, soft and happy. The happiest baby Poe had ever seen, which he thought was a miracle, given her life history. He wondered if she’d always be this happy child, even when she was old enough to know where she came from and her parents shared the information with her.
He wiped a tear from his cheek and set off to his father’s house. It was not very far, and easy to spot, thanks to the looming Force tree in the backyard. But like every other standing thing in the vicinity, the house and tree had been calcined.
Poe slowly walked through the remnants of the setting of his happiest childhood memories, collecting all he thought he could bring home. When he reached the back door, he carefully pushed it and slid through to what had once been a lush landscape. It was smaller than he remembered, and he couldn’t tell if it was because he was taller or because of the large fallen branches of the tree cutting off some of the space. If the house had had it bad, the tree had had it worse. Poe didn’t even know how the mercenaries had gotten to the tree. He wagered the wind had probably carried the flames. All the upper branches, blooming because of the season, had gone up in smoke and were badly damaged. A few flowers had fallen to the ashen ground, miraculously intact.
Poe bent over and picked one up, careful not to harm the delicate petals, and making sure the seeds and the pollen at the centre of the corolla remained there. He closed his hands around the small blossom and stood up, feeling the wind on his face and the utter presence of the Force surrounding him like it hadn’t in so long. He let his tears fall freely now, sticking to his face because of the gusts coming in his direction. He thought of his mother, of his father, of their sacrifice to the Rebellion to offer him a better galaxy.
He thought of his daughter, still too young to understand what was going on around her, of all the sacrifices he’d be willing to make for her. Of the tree he’d grow in their backyard from the little seeds he held in his hand, for her to play around.
He thought of all the love his parents had given him in the time he’d known them and vowed to make sure his daughter knew just as he did as a child that she was loved by her parents.
42 ABY, Coruscant
It had been almost a year since the first case of First Order fanatics burning villages for no apparent reason had occurred, and the strikes had since been observed on Jaelen, of course, Yavin IV, Ordnandell, Peekoine and a smaller scale attack on Bespin. The Republic had no idea who was behind the attacks, or even if they were the same group every time or simply lunatics united by their violent ideologies but not a common plan of attack. They had never caught a single prisoner or found a single body from their side. Some sensationalist news sources had even suggested that the victims were setting fire to their own homes to attract attention and profit off of the Republic’s benevolent help.
Poe and Finn had sent out a message a week previously to all the people who had once been in the Resistance to meet in Coruscant at their apartment to exchange ideas, strategies, plans, intel, anything anyone had to say on the attacks.
“How many people do you reckon will show up? We sent that message to hundreds of people, and our living room can only contain, at the very most, 50 people,” Poe told Finn in a low voice, as their daughter was napping.
“You think we can fit 50 people in here?! It’s a miracle if 30 can fit,” exclaimed Finn in the loudest whisper he could muster. He was sitting on a couch, arranging his cuffs.
It was a foolish and, frankly, delusional, attempt to simultaneously hope for a big turnout and have such a limited space to host the meeting, but the generals didn’t see any other solution. Poe crouched in front of Finn and fixed his rebellious cuffs for him, before standing back up.
“If too many people show up, I’ll point them to the meeting room on the 7th floor and you’ll go convince someone we booked it weeks ago,” he decided, nodding to himself at the plan he judged to be completely foolproof.
“That is the absolute dumbest plan I’ve ever heard, and I remember everyone telling me about the time you lost all the Resistance bomber ships when I was in a coma,” Finn said with a shake of his head.
“But we have no other option, so let’s go with that.”
“See? I’m the master of last minute perfect plans.”
“You’re the master of last minute… plans. I wouldn’t add any adjective there.”
“You wouldn’t – you know what, I’ll just pretend you didn’t say that.”
Poe smiled at Finn and kissed his cheek when he passed him on his way to the kitchen. Just then, there was a knock on the door and Finn leaped up to answer it.
“Oh, hi there, Jess! Good to see you. It’s been a while.”
Soon, guests were arriving continuously, and Finn let the door open to welcome everyone in. Kaydel, Rose, Lando, Chewbacca, Karé, Wedge and Norra, all those he expected, but even more filed in, Koo Millham, Boolio, Teza Nasz, Orrimaarko, Suralinda Javos, amongst others, amounting to visibly more than thirty people. When he noticed the place start to fill in, Poe wiggled his eyebrows and widened his eyes at Finn, making nudging motions out the door.
“Excuse me,” the younger man told Greer Sonnel and Joph Seastriker as he circled around them to exit his apartment.
Oh, the dumb things he’d do for his fiancé, Finn realized as he pushed open the door to the infamous 7th floor meeting room. He braced himself for some sumptuous Heptooinian wedding reception or some cult members eating vermin from each other’s scalps – god only knew what the couple had witnessed in their years of passing in front of that meeting room – but he found the room to be completely empty. He was taken aback, but he took a few steps inside, calling out greetings in the handful of languages with which he was familiar. When no one answered, he lunged for a sheet of paper and a pen and hastily wrote a note he then taped to the door so that no one entered during the meeting they’d be holding any minute – not even the potential group who had actually rented the meeting room. He took out his comm and called Poe.
“General P Damn, this is General F That. Route is clear.”
“Roger that, General F That.”
“Why do we still have those code names?”
“Because they’re fun.”
Finn didn’t even have to close his eyes to picture his interlocutor shrugging and shaking his head in mock disbelief.
“You’re 40 years old. We have a child. We should be more mature than that.”
“But we’re not. See you in a few minutes,” Poe concluded before logging off.
Finn sighed and shook his head, but he was smiling from ear to ear.
After the promised few minutes had elapsed, Poe arrived to the 7th floor meeting room and opened the door with a flourish, letting everyone in. He ripped off the note on the door and showed it to Finn with a cocked eyebrow.
“’VERY important meeting, please do not disturb or the Force will curse you forever,’ really?” he asked.
“It’s ‘forever and ever’,” Finn mumbled.
Poe shrugged and hung the note back.
“Is there anyone still upstairs to redirect whoever else might show up?” Finn asked, swiftly changing the subject.
“Yeah, there’s Shara.”
Finn widened his eyes slightly and cocked his head towards Poe. It took the older man a fraction of a second before exclaiming “oh, kriff!” and dashing up to their apartment.
When everyone was seated around the table and Shara was safely in Poe’s arms, the meeting could finally start.
“We gathered you today, as you might have guessed, in regard to the attacks First Order sympathizers have been leading all over the galaxy, for seemingly no reason and not seemingly following any pattern,” were Finn’s opening words, the only standing member of the delegation.
“So, what do we seemingly know?” Suralinda Javos asked with a smirk.
“That it’s not your turn to speak, for one,” snapped Karé Kun. The two women, even if they had served for years in Black Squadron alongside each other, didn’t usually get along very well, and since Karé's husband Snap had died, no one had been holding her back from her bickering.
“Uh, right. We know that these people are not looking for recognition for their actions. We know all the planets have a Senator in the Republic as of the time of their attack. That… is sadly most of the information we’ve gathered. And of course, they could all be a set of coincidences.”
“So, we’re open to suggestions,” Poe called from his seat at Finn’s left, leaning back, legs crossed, and daughter firmly held in his arms.
The two men looked expectantly at their audience. Everyone shifted uncomfortably in their seats, biting their lips or looking around to others. Poe roughly massaged his brow with one hand, looking down in dejection. Shara, who had been until then quiet as a mouse, emitted a little babble and a laugh. This lifted the tension in the room and cracked Poe’s smile, who then wiped baby saliva from the little girl’s chin.
“So that’s little Shara,” a slow, deep, jovial voice spoke up.
The two fathers turned to see Lando Calrissian smiling at the child from his seat at the far end of the table. He turned his gaze to his hosts and smiled warmly.
“She is named after her grandmother, yes?” he asked, looking to Poe, who gave a curt nod in response. Lando continued, “An excellent A-wing pilot. I knew her,” he added for the interest of the group, “from the battle of Endor. And afterwards, of course,” he said with a wave of his hand before carrying on, “Shara Bey believed that the galaxy was a fundamentally good place, and that we had to fight for something, never against something. That war always needs to have a meaning besides itself.”
People around the room were nodding, some of the older ones, who had known the late pilot, were getting visibly emotional.
“We shouldn’t be finding ways to eliminate this group of terrorists, but ways to protect and preserve the galaxy the Republic is building,” said Koo Millham, catching on what the veteran was coming to.
It was not long before ideas and strategies were erupting from all over the conference table, ranging from plans to form local militias on all major systems to defend quickly and efficiently from attacks before any further help could be deployed to ideas of forming alliances with local gangs to further such purposes (which was met with loud opposition from many). Several ideas were discarded, but Lando’s intervention had fueled a wave of energy and empathy, as well as a deeper understanding of the reason of their presence. Once everyone was filing out, that a follow-up meeting had been planned (and the conference room properly booked), that a handful of older members had insisted on seeing little Shara Dameron, Poe and Finn could finally breathe.
“Thank you for that,” Finn told Lando as the man was the last to leave, along with his daughter.
“I once told your boyfriend there that the only way we managed to keep it together at all in the days of the Rebellion was by relying on our friends, relying on each other. All I did was follow my own advice and rely on my friend, wherever she may be.”
“Regardless, you saved us today.”
“And you saved the galaxy your good handful of times, too. If everyone in this room started thanking each other, we’d never be done.”
Finn gave one nod, a smile, and Jannah and Lando were out the door.
45 ABY, Skeressa
“Mister F, I can’t do it,” lamented a youngling.
Finn rushed to his side and sat down next to him.
“You can do it, Tradj. Sit down. Try not to keep adjusting your position like that. Close your eyes. Both of them. That’s it. Good. Now empty your mind. Don’t think of anything, just focus on my voice. Emptiness. Peace. Serenity. Balance. Now… reach out with your feelings. Focus.”
The little boy, barely older than 6, closed his eyes tighter, his fists following right afterwards. His legs, although they stayed crossed this time, trembled in concentration. He breathed out raggedly for a few seconds, then suddenly his breaths evened out, his whole body relaxed and a small smile graced his face.
“Good,” Finn whispered, standing back up and taking a look at the rest of his students, dispersed around the room, all focusing on trying to find the Force within them.
He had spent the past years teaching to an ever-growing number of children learning to harness their abilities with the Force, but this particular lesson, when it came along, was always his favourite. It was the exact moment he could see a shift in how the students perceived the Force and themselves as a being in the universe. Rey had told him it was a lesson Luke Skywalker himself had taught her – and one of the first she’d transmitted on to him.
With the increasing number of students every year, Finn and Rey had soon become not enough to teach and supervise all the apprentices. Since the opening of the school, 5 years previously, Rey had enlisted the help of three instructors who watched the kids when they ate, in between classes, and at night when they had nightmares or needed to pee and couldn’t find the bathroom in the dark, as well as two teachers for basic classes that did not require any use of the Force. Rey herself taught the little ones to use a lightsaber (an option most of the students chose but that Finn and Rey didn’t want to impose, as no child should be forced to learn to wield a deadly weapon), as well as using the Force in unusual situations (combat, finding one’s way, etc.), whereas Finn focused on the Force as an entity of meditation, concentration, peace. To the older ones, he taught Jedi mind tricks, relying on the inherent maturity associated with their age to ensure they wouldn’t abuse their ability.
Occasionally, one of them went on a trek across the galaxy, usually only a few days long, to seek out children in need of teaching or in need of a home. Finn had grown quite good at locating a Force sensitive child losing control from several metres away, and at sensing budding Force abilities ready to be harnessed.
The goal of the school was not to train a new generation of fighters, or even of peacekeepers or Jedi, but rather to give these children the option of putting their unique abilities to use and to keep them from going insane when it all awoke and they couldn’t do anything about it. Jheqa, an 8 years old student who had arrived a few months earlier, had been rescued by Rey just after she’d inadvertently blown up her house due to an explosive anger episode. She had had no control and her strong connection to the Force had simply made her pursue actions she had never wanted to pursue. She had been nervous and on the verge of tears each time someone mentioned her abilities for weeks.
This is why I do this, Finn thought, to save these kids from themselves.
He clapped in his hands and all the students opened their eyes.
“Alright, time to go! I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Come on, it’s time to sleep, now, Shara. It’s already late.”
Finn made a shushing motion with his hand, closed the light to his daughter’s room and then her door delicately. When he got to the kitchen, Poe was doing the dishes, lost in his thoughts. Happy ones, apparently, judging by his smile.
“Hey,” Finn whispered, slipping his hand around the older man’s waist. Poe turned to look at him and kissed him tenderly.
“I think I need to talk to you about something.”
“You think you need, or you need?”
Finn rolled his eyes and Poe smirked. He put down the dishcloth and dried his hands on his pants, then walked to the living room with Finn in tow.
“You know how I was playing outside with Shara earlier?”
“While I was making supper? Yes, I remember,” Poe replied, somewhat ironically.
“She was playing with the tree. Well, the shrub, really. The one you brought back from Yavin IV.”
“She didn’t get hurt, did she? She didn’t do anything to it, either?”
“No, no, nothing of the sort. I just… noticed something. I’m getting pretty good at that kind of thing, too,” he added, and Poe wasn’t sure if he was bragging or defending himself.
“Uh-huh,” he simply said, unsure of where the man was going.
“Shara has the Force,” Finn said bluntly, unable to sugar-coat it any more.
“How did you know?” Poe eventually asked Finn. They were standing in the kitchen again, and it had been several long minutes since Finn had told him, several long minutes since Poe had said a single word.
It wasn’t resentment, really. Maybe a bit of bitterness, at most. Poe couldn’t really explain what was going on in his head, and even less what was going on in his heart. All he knew is that he wasn’t as happy as the news that his daughter had the Force should make him. Was it even a good piece of news in this universe anymore?
Poe didn’t know what to think or why he was acting like a child about all of this. All he knew is that he needed a good glass of Corellian brandy right then.
“Just… a feeling,” was all Finn could come up with.
“Look at me.”
Poe thrust his face upwards towards his fiancé, a pout away from a teenage tantrum face. Finn sighed roughly, passing his fingers through the hair on the back of his head.
“I waited until I was sure to tell you. I knew you wouldn’t take it well.”
“Who says I’m not taking it well?”
There was an aggressive edge to his voice that Finn definitely did not like.
“Poe, please, calm down. Have a discussion with me.”
Finn breathed out exasperatedly, turning away from his interlocutor. Or rather, the lack thereof. He walked out of the kitchen and back to the living room, throwing his hands up in the air.
“It’s like I’m talking to one of the kids I teach. And not the old ones,” he said, his voice starting to rise as he pointed an accusatory finger at Poe.
“Oh yeah? Then maybe you shouldn’t bother coming back all the way here every day!” Poe replied, his voice also dangerously rising.
Finn took a step back, wounded, just as they heard movement from Shara’s room. Finn rounded his eyes at Poe, as if to say, “see what you’ve done?” and didn’t wait for any reply before walking to the little girl, who was pushing open her door.
“Hey, hey, hey there, Shara. What are you doing up?”
All the bitterness and anger had melted from his voice as he picked up his daughter.
“Is Daddy mad?” she asked, looking worried.
“No, sweetie, Daddy is not mad. Daddy and Papa are just discussing, that’s all. We’ll try to keep quiet. Go back to sleep.”
Shara nodded, her eyes already half closed and sleepy, and Finn tucked her in, then walked out of her room.
“You didn’t mean that,” he told Poe as quietly as he could while still conveying his emotion, walking to the couch in which Poe had sat down.
“No,” Poe admitted, his voice breaking, looking down to his hands, still holding the full glass of brandy.
“Then why’d you say it?” Finn said as he sat down besides the other man.
Poe shrugged and took the first swig of his drink, resting his head backward against the couch and closing his eyes. When he opened them, they were full of tears.
“I can’t be the only idiot of the galaxy who doesn’t feel the… the all-powerful, all-consuming, cosmic Force the whole lot of you can control. And I grew up with a friggin’ Force tree in my backyard.”
Finn didn’t speak up, letting Poe get out what he needed to get out.
“I knew,” Poe finally croaked, pushing a fist to his eyes, as if to coax the tears back in, “I knew about Shara. I felt it.”
Finn was confused. Poe wasn’t being coherent.
“I don’t have the Force,” Poe continued, “but I can still feel… wells of Force. That’s what I call them. Beings who are so strong with the Force it almost hurts. I know it’s the Force. There was my mother… the tree, rather. She was exposed to it more, I don’t know. There was that about her. And then there was Leia. And I hadn’t felt it since she… ever since she’s been gone. Not until you brought along…” he gestured to their daughter’s door, “until Shara. That first day, I knew.”
Finn was starting to understand.
“Please don’t tell me it doesn’t make sense. I know. This tree in our own damn backyard should do it. Rey should do it. Hell, you should do it. But I only know three people with whom it happened. My mother, Leia, and Shara.”
“It makes sense.”
“Yeah. Selective Force bonds. Unconscious ones, it seems. That exists. I read about them.”
“What are they?”
“It’s hard to explain. You have a very strong connection to that person and sometimes the Force… brings you together. Never heard of it for someone who doesn’t usually have the Force, though.”
“Why hasn’t it happened with you, though?”
“I don’t know. It’s not the same thing. I don’t think it’s romantic. Not that soulmate crap. It has nothing to do with that, it’s… deeper. In your bones. Maybe for you it’s protective, motherly figures. And how you’re passing on their ideals and what they taught you.”
They were silent for a few instants.
“Why are you so… so… like that… about not having the Force?”
“Why would you stay for some random guy when you and our daughter could have a good Jedi or whatever? Someone to help you there. I can’t help her with that. I can’t understand your abilities.”
It seemed to have taken all of Poe’s strength to get all of that out.
“I’ll teach her that. You have other things to help her with. You don’t have to understand. You just have to know that I will never,” he lifted Poe’s chin with a hand and took Poe’s in his other, “never leave you. I love you, Poe Dameron, you non-random idiot. You’re not getting rid of me that easily.”
“I love you, too.”
48 ABY, Naboo
For Shara’s sixth birthday, her parents had decided to take a much-needed family vacation to the heavenly planet of Naboo. The lakes were as blue as can be, the plains greener than the members of the family, used to the metallics of Coruscant, could wrap their heads around, and the architecture more majestic than they’d ever envisioned. Finn and Poe had a lot of trouble keeping their daughter from running off at any moment, hungry for adventure and all the discoveries she imagined this brand new planet could offer. Of course, the planet was everything but brand new. Its bloody history was still marking the walls of the palace at places, but most importantly the faces of all the Naboo. Some were old enough to remember taking part of the numerous elections keeping Sheev Palpatine in the Senate, more were old enough to remember then-Senator Padmé Amidala’s mysterious and tragic death, and even more were old enough to remember the years of Imperial terror and unfair flourishing the planet held, and the restraints the population had had to break free from by the time the Battle of Endor had rolled around. The past few years, maybe even the past few decades, had been kinder to the planet, but no society can completely stand back up after being through all what Naboo had been through.
It was this history that had brought their friend Rey there the very first time. She had definite family ties with the place, both in her biological and her adopted family. After all, less than 10 years after her biological grandfather had represented the planet in the Galactic Senate, Padmé Amidala had done exactly the same thing, before dying in service right after giving birth to Luke and Leia. It had been with a heavy heart that the young Jedi had therefore set off to discover the luxuriant planet, but she had felt a deep connection to the people and the place, and had been back numerous times. It was she who had later suggested to Finn that he take his little family there for the vacation him and Poe were planning.
And so there they were, desperately trying to keep little Shara from running off to what had most recently caught her eye for long enough to get to the hotel and drop off their luggage. It was proving to be a perilous affair.
Finally, they reached the hotel, and Poe thought sourly that they should have probably taken a transport there from the landing bay instead of the scenic route he had suggested.
“There you go, Mr. Dameron,” the clerk at the reception desk said as he extended keys to their room towards Poe, “I think your husband and yourself will enjoy this room. It has a magnificent view.”
“Oh, we’re not – he’s not my – we’re not married.”
“Oh! I’m sorry. Have a nice stay regardless.”
Poe thanked him and gestured for Finn and Shara to follow him.
He said nothing of it to Finn, but still the thought stayed with him throughout the day, and it came back for him when he was tucking little Shara into bed.
“How are you liking your birthday trip so far, miss?”
“I like it a lot,” Shara said with an exaggerated nod.
“Yeah? What was your favourite part of the day?”
“The boat ride with the pretty water.”
She smiled wide and Poe smiled back at her.
“Yeah, that was a lot of fun. Now, come on, time for bed. Close your eyes and get to sleep, we have a big day tomorrow.”
He reached for the lamp on her nightstand and turned it off.
“Daddy,” Shara asked before Poe could stand up from her bedside, “why aren’t you and Papa married?”
“Because, the other kids at school,” she said importantly, “they have married parents. Except Tracey because she just has her mom. And Jayzyn because he has no parents.” She took a moment to reflect on her words before looking back up at Poe and repeating her question: “Why aren’t you and Papa married?”
“I don’t know, sweetie. Let’s talk about that tomorrow, okay? Tonight, we go to sleep.”
She nodded again and tugged her blanket upwards while Poe walked out of the section of the room reserved to the little girl.
“What was going on back there?” Finn asked in a whisper, sipping a mug of caf on the small loveseat. “It seemed serious.”
“Not really. I mean, maybe.”
“What do you think of it?”
“Think of what?”
“I heard the conversation. The spaces aren’t really very wide around here,” Finn said with a smile as he took another sip of the warm drink.
“You… you heard? Like, all of it?”
“Uh-huh. Pretty sure I did. So what do you say, Mr. Dameron?”
“I say you’ll have to be more precise. Are you suggesting another boat ride?” Poe replied with a smirk, crouching to be face to face with Finn, who was still sitting in his loveseat, hands around a steaming mug.
“Oh, we’re doing this now?” Finn asked and carefully placed his mug down on the floor.
“Oh, we’re doing this,” Poe replied assuredly, his smirk growing.
Finn took Poe’s hands in his and looked right into his fiancé’s eyes. He inched his face downwards, his lips now centimetres apart from Poe’s.
“Mh-hm,” Poe said, rocking his head back and forth almost unnoticeably and Finn felt Poe’s breath on his chin.
“Will you marry me next week?”
“I don’t know, I might be busy,” Poe said with a shake of his head.
And then Finn’s lips were on Poe’s smiling ones, softly kissing, softly yearning for each other’s touch. It was sweet and it was safe and it was secure. Secure in their standing with each other, secure with who they were, secure in the galaxy they’d helped liberate. It was trusting. Trusting that Poe’s hands would always cup Finn’s face when kissing him with his eyes closed. Trusting that Finn’s eyes would always flutter and that his eyelashes would always kiss Poe’s cheeks when his stomach soared. Trusting that no matter what happened, they’d always have these kisses to fall back to. It was home, it was real, and it was eternal. It was the knowledge that nothing could break this.
Poe tugged lightly on the chain on Finn’s neck.
“You’ll be able to wear this on your finger soon.”
“You’ll be able to wear this on your finger,” Finn whispered as he took out a golden ring from his pocket. Poe’s eyes lowered to the inscription carved on the inside of the band.
I need a pilot.
And in that Naboo hotel room, the blinds slicing off the moonlight filtering onto the floor, with their asleep daughter dreaming in the next room, they both knew this was not a new beginning. It was the continuation of a timeless love story and the stars zooming past, forever aligned in their exciting and unpredictable voyage. It was just one drop in the natural flow of life, a pebble washing up on a shore, a blade of grass in the infinite lands of Naboo. It was a stolen moment in an alcove on the Finalizer coming to completion. It was a jacket, a new name, an illicit mission, a trust beacon, an embrace, a secret, a squabble, a desperate attempt at vanquishing a decades-old enemy.
It was nothing more than a fleeting moment.
But it felt like a star exploding out in a blinding light over millions of years. A supernova.