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Safe & Sound

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I remember tears streaming down your face when I said I’d never let you go

When all those shadows almost killed your light

I remember you said don't leave me here alone

But all that's dead and gone and passed tonight

Just close your eyes, the sun is going down

You'll be alright, no one can hurt you now

Come morning light, you and I'll be safe and sound

Don't you dare look out your window, darling everything's on fire

The war outside our door keeps raging on

Hold onto this lullaby even when the music’s gone, gone

Just close your eyes, the sun is going down

You'll be alright, no one can hurt you now

Come morning light, you and I'll be safe and sound

Just close your eyes, you'll be alright

Come morning light, you and I'll be safe and sound

 

***

 

Shara Bey pushed her A-Wing into the hangar, still clad from head to toe in her piloting gear. She hung her helmet up on the wall and wiped the sweat off her brow. She looked outside, sighed and headed inside, to her awaiting husband.

“He’s already asleep,” Kes whispered as she passed the living room threshold. Not again, Shara thought. She had really hoped that for once, she’d get to see her 7 month old son before he went to sleep. But she always worked late, on missions for the Rebellion or on practice runs with her squadron, and usually, she missed his bedtime. Her disappointment must have been evident on her face, because Kes looked at her sadly.

“You know he’ll wake up during the night, and probably more than once.”

She nodded, but it still stung to know that her boy was slowly growing up without memorizing her face or her voice. As she walked down the hall as quietly as she could so she wouldn’t wake the infant, she stole a look at his crib. His tiny lips were vibrating, creating bubbles on his delicate mouth, and his fists were closed on either side of his head. He was fast asleep.

Just as she backed out of the doorway, a floorboard creaked. Damn it! The baby’s eyelids, seeming heavy on his eyeballs, fluttered open and he stared at his mother’s dark figure, a shadow in the familiar setting. Before a scream could escape his mouth, Shara rushed to little Poe’s side. She started singing, softly.

Don’t you dare look out your window, darling everything’s on fire.

She picked up the minuscule boy and wrapped him in his blanket.

The war outside our door keeps raging on.

She rocked him back and forth, whispering the words to the baby’s ear.

Hold on to this lullaby even when the music’s gone, gone.

She held him to her chest, softly, afraid he would crumble at her touch if she made any sudden movement.

Just close your eyes, the sun is going down.

His breathing evened out and he closed his eyes lazily.

You’ll be alright, no one can hurt you now.

The little body in her arms felt slightly heavier. He had been taken by Morpheus. She sang one last line, just in case.

Come morning light, you and I’ll be safe and sound.

She placed him delicately back in his crib and exited the room discreetly, heading to her own room.

 

***

 

“I think we’re done.”

“I think we are.”

Shara looked up at her husband, beaming. The tree was firmly planted into the soil, which meant that she could rest, meant that she was properly retired. It meant that their family life on the small lot of ground could start properly.

A little boy toddled out the back door and into the luscious green of the grass the vast garden offered. He quickly fell on his rear end, laughing, and got back up. Poe was just learning how to walk, and had firmly decided that any moment not spent walking was a moment wasted. So he walked. Or at least, he tried to. Shara laughed and picked him up. She brought him to the base of the tree, where she put him back down.

“Look, Poe. Mommy and Daddy planted the tree right there. You be careful, now, okay? Don’t get too close or you might get hurt.”

Poe nodded, eyes wide, reaching out with a chubby hand towards the tree.

He spent the rest of the day, under his parents’ watchful eyes, playing around the backyard, fascinated by the tree and the raw energy it emitted. At night, he was practically falling asleep in the grass, refusing to admit he was sleepy. When he finally did collapse, stumbling to his mother’s lap and closing his eyes, she scooped him up and brought him inside.

I remember tears streaming down your face when I said I’d never let you go.

She reached his bedroom, remembering the baby’s desperate cries when she went away with Luke for the last time.

When all those shadows almost killed your light.

The Empire was gone, that much she was sure of now. Poe was safe.

I remember you said don’t leave me here alone.

Or at least, his eyes had said it, he couldn’t speak quite yet then, she remembered.

But all that’s dead and gone and passed tonight.

She kissed her son’s temple and delicately put him down in his bed, then fastened the barrier so that he wouldn’t fall.

Just close your eyes, the sun is going down.

The sun was already down, but she closed his curtains for the next morning.

You’ll be alright, no one can hurt you now.

Shara stayed beside his bed, singing until she was sure he was asleep.

Come morning light, you and I'll be safe and sound.

She pressed a kiss to his cheek, light as a feather.

 

***

 

Poe took off his black jacket, too tight to his taste. Not just in size, it felt as if it was smothering, strangling him, sucking the life out of him and slowing his heartrate. Once it was off, discarded in the wild grass, he walked to the unevenly carved stone bearing his mother’s name, treading upon dozens of wilted petals the wind had swept to the newest addition to the land. He sat down and started singing, his voice hoarse and unsure.

I remember tears streaming down your face when I said I’d never let you go.

His own started rolling, warm on his cheeks chilled by the piercing wind.

When all those shadows almost killed your light.

Almost. Her light was one thing that could never dim, no matter how low the sun in the sky dipped, as dangerously low as it was now, barely illuminating the carved letters anymore.

I remember you said don’t leave me here alone.

He was the one who was alone now. The graveyard was desert, no one had come in the past hour besides the boy.

But all that's dead and gone and passed tonight.

Just close your eyes, the sun is going down.

You’ll be alright, no one can hurt you now.

She was far from harm, quite literally feet below harm. They couldn’t touch her now, those bad guys she’d been off fighting all those years when he was a child. Or at least, a younger child than he was now.

Come morning light, you and I’ll be safe and sound.

Each on their side of the darkest and heaviest curtain, far from the prying hands of the Empire, her ready to have sunshine brightening her name again and again and again, every day, and him, desperately trying to move on to the next step in his life. Without the sunshine she should have been bringing every morning.

 

***

 

Finn woke up, clutching the sheets, terrorized, panting. He sat up in his bunk and looked around himself. He was the only one awake. He tried to calm his breathing, but flashes of white armour and rows of blasters, neat and black and ready to hurt came back to him. He couldn’t shake them, remembered crawling on the floor and the nudge of a metallic barrel urging him to stop it instantly. He remembered standing upright and his legs shaking, barely one year old. He shook his head, wishing it all away. Stop haunting me, he whispered, picturing an expressionless chrome helmet staring him down.

He didn’t hear Poe creep up from his own bunk until the man sat on his bed, asking in a low voice if he was going to be okay. Finn nodded, a terrified look clouding his brown eyes already overflowing with tears. Poe nodded in response, closing his own eyes and starting to sing in a whisper to his friend.

I remember tears streaming down your face when I said I’d never let you go.

After Starkiller base. Before Starkiller base. It was all a messy blur in their minds.

When all those shadows almost killed your light.

The First Order would never take Finn back, Poe wanted to promise him. He couldn’t but he wanted, it tugged at his heartstrings, and he clutched his hand to a fist, his voice unwavering.

I remember you said don't leave me here alone.

It was in his eyes, at least. Finn had never been made for war or killing, and the idea that the only use and quality the First Order had seen in him was just that made Poe’s heart clench in fury and despair.

But all that's dead and gone and passed tonight.

Poe wanted to repeat all the words he’d ever said to Finn, tell him that he was safe and that whoever had trained and “educated” him over the years would never have access to his mind to try and twist it again.

Just close your eyes, the sun is going down.

The Republic may have died down in a blinding light and majestic silence, but so had Starkiller base. Their sun was gone, never to rise again.

You'll be alright, no one can hurt you now.

Poe vowed to always protect Finn from whatever would come for him.

Come morning light, you and I'll be safe and sound.

The last word lingered in the air and Poe shook his head to banish the tears from his face. He gently cupped Finn’s cheek and kissed his forehead, then stood up and walked back to his bunk.

Finn opened his eyes gently and watched Poe bring the covers up his shoulders, naturally, as if nothing had happened at all. His resting heartbeat restored, his mind emptied, he let his eyelids slide down and slowly gave in to sleep.

 

***

 

“It just feels like it will never stop, you know? People go and go and it feels as though even if we win, there is no victory because we lost so many good people.”

Finn was sitting in the Falcon, helping with yet another relocation of the Resistance base, looking dejected at the holo-pad he was holding, endless sentences describing the latest counts of fighters lost. Poe looked back at him sympathetically from the co-pilot’s seat, trying not to shift his eyes from the space ahead too long, in case Cova Nell, who was piloting, needed any help.

“This is what we do,” the young man replied plainly. “We have to carry on no matter what happens, because we owe it to them to keep trying. We have to ensure they did not die in vain.”

“It feels like everything we do is in vain.”

“Don’t say that. We’ve done some good things. Saved some good people. We can’t save everyone, even if I wish we could.”

“Is this ever going to end?”

“I don’t know, buddy. I hope so. I like to think so.”

Cova nudged Poe and indicated Finn with her head, wordlessly assuring him that she had everything under control and didn’t need him there at the moment. He shot her a quick look before getting up and going to sit beside Finn, putting his hand on the younger man’s knee.

“I remember what my mom used to say,” he added quietly, looking not at Finn but at the wall, coaxing the memory out of himself. “She didn’t know when the war would end. It was a different war, but in so many ways, it was exactly the same. She said that every step along the way, every battle won, every person saved, made it worth it. We look at the big picture because we have to, or at least Leia has to, but we need to look at the individuals, too, to stay sane.”

Finn nodded, and just as they were starting their landing approach on Ryloth to pick up supplies to bring to the new base, Finn leaned back in his seat and closed his eyes, trying to think of all the small good deeds they’d done. Poe turned his head towards his friend’s peaceful form and started, in a whisper…

Don't you dare look out your window, darling everything's on fire.

The war was still raging, and it did not show any sign of stopping soon, not with Kylo Ren as the Supreme Leader, ransacking planet after planet.

The war outside our door keeps raging on.

Poe knew the two of them had to take part in it, they were in deep to their elbows, had to keep going until the war ended.

Hold onto this lullaby even when the music’s gone, gone.

Until the war ended, or until one of them was gone. Would Poe be able to continue down this path if Finn disappeared?

Just close your eyes, the sun is going down.

The ship was slowly approaching the ground, and Finn still had his eyes closed, although his face had morphed to a smile.

You'll be alright, no one can hurt you now.

Poe knew that wasn’t true. So many people could come up and break Finn’s confidence, break his heart, break… him. This was such a chaotic time, truly anything could happen.

Come morning light, you and I'll be safe and sound

When this was all over, he would tell him everything. Everything, Poe promised himself. They would be safe, the two of them, and Poe didn’t want to have to share Finn. Not when there was peace and quiet and he could tell him everything he’d ever wanted to express. But now was too early.

Just close your eyes, you'll be alright.

Could Poe still have Finn all to himself, now as well? He was right there, peaceful, beautiful, perfect, and all Poe wanted to do was kiss him. Just once. To know what it was like. Just a light kiss on his closed eyelids, full of tenderness. A reassurance.

Come morning light, you and I'll be safe and sound.

Once the First Order fell to the ground, whenever that would come. Then, they’d be safe. Then, they could live happily ever after. Was happily ever after even awarded to warriors? Or did all the war actions they’d committed cancel out their right to happily ever after?

Finn deserved a happily ever after.

 

***

 

Poe was sleeping, but visibly not well. He kept twitching, his eyes frowning, his lips trembling, his forehead sweating. Finn stole repeated glances at the man, increasingly worried. It had been half an hour since Poe had gone to sleep on the couch, and not once had he calmed down for more than a few seconds.

“Poe?” he asked in a whisper.

Poe jumped up, clutching the sides of the cover Finn had draped over him, sitting up and looking around him, his eyes wide open and his breath heavy.

“Whoa…” Finn started, extending a hand to his co-general to ease his conscience. He didn’t have time to go any further that Poe was already exclaiming, panicked:

“What is it?”

His voice was hurried, his eyes still wide open, and the letters he uttered seemed to be a single syllable because of how fast he’d spoken.

“Whoa, Poe, it’s nothing. Everything is fine,” Finn answered, finally able to drop his hand to Poe’s arm to calm him with his warm contact.

Poe’s whole head spun towards Finn, as if only noticing him then. Maybe he really was just noticing he was not alone.

“Are you okay?” Finn continued.

“Uh-huh. Why wouldn’t I be?” Poe asked robotically, his heartbeat slowly decreasing.

Finn simply gazed into his eyes softly, and brought his hand up and down to stroke Poe’s arm, letting him calm down.

“It’s the war, isn’t it?” he eventually asked, when Poe seemed almost back to normal. Poe nodded.

“When I was growing up, my parents kept telling me it was over. And it was. But then it wasn’t, it was back on, it was like it had never stopped. And now it’s over, but is it really? Is it ever?”

Finn didn’t know how to answer that, so he didn’t.

“And now it can just start again any day and we won’t know until it’s too late, until it’s dangerous again and we’re all so close to dying.”

Finn nodded and Poe lay his head on Finn’s chest, curling up against the younger man. Finn didn’t know what to do, so he did the first thing that came to his mind. He started singing.

I remember tears streaming down your face when I said I’d never let you go.

It was months ago now. Months since Finn had agreed without even thinking twice to lead alongside Poe a ragtag band of desperate fighters, that he would never let him down, never let him do any of it alone. He hadn’t regretted it once.

When all those shadows almost killed your light.

He, too, often saw glimpses of what his life had been every day of his life up until just a few weeks ago, since it had all died down… finally. Blasters and immaculate armours still, they kept coming back, but other sights had come to nest inside his peaceless nights. Blood. Tears. Lifeless bodies hitting the ground, dead eyes swimming in a quenched liquid. X-Wings blasted out of the sky, spiraling to their demise, to nothingness. Rey screaming, Rose crying, Poe losing all hope.

I remember you said don't leave me here alone.

Poe was still shaking under Finn’s calming hands on his back, and Finn could only imagine what it was that was haunting him.

But all that's dead and gone and passed tonight.

Poe looked up at Finn, his eyes like those of a deer in the headlights, completely lost, looking around for reassurance. Finn dropped his eyes to the other man’s and smiled at him, bringing one of his hands to the cheek covered with stubble.

Just close your eyes, the sun is going down.

Everything was passing through that look. Not a word was said, they were just staring into each other’s eyes, as if hypnotized by the song of Poe’s childhood.

You'll be alright, no one can hurt you now.

Finn repeated all of Poe’s promises, all the ones he’d heard over the years, all the ones he knew the universe hadn’t let Shara Bey keep.

Come morning light, you and I'll be safe and sound.

They could stay like this all night. Finn could keep Poe right there in his arms, safe from the war and safe from his nightly demons, until the morning came.

Don't you dare look out your window, darling everything's on fire.

Finn was scared that if Poe closed his eyes again, all he’d see were the flames and embers of what had startled him awake. So he kept gazing into his eyes in the hopes that Poe would stay hypnotized.

The war outside our door keeps raging on.

Finn brought his thumb back, tucking away a curl of Poe’s hair from his face.

Hold onto this lullaby even when the music’s gone, gone.

Finn knew he was slowly getting to the end of the lullaby, and he didn’t want to have to stop, he was terrified that if he stopped singing, Poe would fall back asleep, swallowed by the shadows in his mind.

Just close your eyes, the sun is going down.

Poe’s eyelids fluttered and Finn’s heart jumped in his chest.

You'll be alright, no one can hurt you now.

Finn tightened his grip on Poe, and his voice started wavering.

Come morning light, you and I'll be safe and sound.

Poe reached up to cup the back of Finn’s head.

Just close your eyes, you'll be alright.

Poe started sitting up and Finn wanted to cry out, wanted to stop him from going anywhere. But he had a song to finish, so he breathed out the last line.

Come morning light, you and I'll be safe and sound.

Poe’s second hand reached up to Finn’s cheek and he brought their lips together. Finn’s voice had faded, the silence was deafening, and the whole world was gone in a sfumato stroke of a paintbrush. There was only Finn, Poe, and everything that they’d never told each other hanging in the air, concentrated in the few remaining molecules of oxygen between them. And soon, that was gone, too.