Poe Dameron, ace pilot and darling of the Resistance, couldn’t walk into a room without half its occupants noticing. Not that he had any idea. It was a week or more since the battle at Starkiller base and he was busying himself with repairs to his x-wing while the remainder of the fleet pretended not to watch.
“This Poe Dameron situation is getting to be a problem,” sighed Jessika Pava.
The cadet next to her blinked, shaking himself out of a reverie. “What?”
Jess rolled her eyes. “You’re all enamored with him.”
“Oh yeah?” That was Miko Sol, one of the newer aeronauts in their squadron. “I dare you to find someone on this base who isn’t.”
Jess jerked her head towards the corner where that Rey girl was helping offload crates. “Her, for a start.”
“Rey just got here, that’ll soon be helped, and then she’ll be as poorly off as the rest of us.”
Unfortunately, he was probably right. There was something about Poe Dameron that inspired a certain breathless admiration in nearly everyone he met. Perhaps it was his flyboy swagger, or his polite yet edgy manner, or his perfect hair. The whole damn fleet had been trying to find dirt on him since he arrived, but there was nothing, not so far as Jess could tell. His charisma was a menace—he was systematically breaking every heart in the Resistance without even being aware of it.
Someone clouted her on the back of the head.
“Snap Wexley you are the worst,” Jess said, spinning around to face the captain.
“Staring again, Jess?”
“Go pester one of the cadets. They’re the ones doing the staring.”
“General Organa says I’m not allowed to,” Snap said in a mock-sorrowful tone, “she says I might scare them off.”
Jess snorted. “She’s one to talk. I’m still more than a little afraid of her.”
“The General is an intimidating figure.” Snap nodded sagely. “So, as to the cause of today’s duty shirking. I presume it has to do with a certain dashing young battle hero?”
“The usual suspect,” Jess affirmed, “we should use him as a marketing strategy, half the galaxy would join up before tomorrow.”
“And then run away again as soon as they get shot down.” Snap gazed wistfully into the distance.
Jessika elbowed him in the ribs. “Just because you were turned down once—
“Me? Hardly. I’m too old for that sort of thing.”
“You talk as if you’re already a grandpa,” Jess declared, “but he’s not that much younger than you.”
“Well, either way, it never would have worked out,” said Snap dismissively.
Last year he’d asked Poe on a date with him, and the poor pilot had been very confused and very flattered and then swept away on a mission by General Organa, and that had been that. It wasn’t as if there was much time for things like dating on the main base of operations for the Resistance. But Jess thought the memory still stung a bit for Snap.
“Miko Sol,” the captain growled.
Miko jumped and looked over at the pair of them guiltily. “Um. Yes?”
“Get back to work. And the next time I catch you slacking I’ll personally see to it that you’re assigned an extra hour of kitchen duty.”
“Yes sir!” Miko saluted.
Snap winked at Jess. She shook her head, smiling. It certainly is a problem. But at least it’s an entertaining one.
That evening in the mess hall Jess wound up seated next to Pamich Nerro, Brance, and Lieutenant Connix. They’d pulled her aside to speak about some “urgent manner” that she suspected had to do with a very particular squadron commander.
“So Jessika,” Pamich said conversationally, “tell us about what it’s like to fly with the famed Poe Dameron.”
“You could just ask him yourself,” Jess muttered.
“Nah, Brance here would be too embarrassed for that,” Lieutenant Connix whispered conspiratorially, leaning across the table.
Brance shoved her, cheeks going red. “I’m just curious, is all. I think Poe Dameron is an attractive man.”
“You and all of D’Qar.” Pamich took a thoughtful bite of potatoes. “I don’t think he’s so bad looking myself. And that positively rakish grin of his. I’d go up in his spaceship any day of the week.”
“Pamich,” Lieutenant Connix admonished, “this is supposed to be for the sake of Brance.”
“Right, right. But you can’t deny that you’d jump at the chance to pilot his cockpit.”
It was the lieutenant’s turn to blush. “Yes, well, that’s quite beside the point.”
“I’m sorry about this,” Brance said to Jess, “you probably get it a lot, working so closely with him.”
“It happens on occasion,” Jess admitted, “I don’t mind too much, though I wish once and a while people would get up the courage to just talk to him themselves.”
“I probably should. But he’s been hanging around Finn a lot lately, and I…
“I understand,” said Jess.
“Once, when Poe and I were assigned to the same mission, he saved my life and then thanked me for having his back.” Brance laid his head against the table morosely. “What does that even mean?”
Rey was passing by their table with her tray of food and gave them a concerned look.
“Oi, Rey,” Pamich called brightly, “we’re questioning Jess Testor about the illustrious Mr. Poe Dameron. Care to join in?”
“I think I’ll escape while I still can,” Rey said, “are you alright, Jessika?”
“I’m holding up,” Jess replied.
She watched Rey maneuver herself around the mismatched tables and take a seat next to Poe.
“They do make a lovely pair,” Pamich murmured, “that Rey rescued herself from capture by the First Order, and that’s no easy task. I wouldn’t mind it if she were the one to make me see stars.”
Jess had to agree with her there.
A few nights later Jessika wound up on the same kitchen duty shift as Rey. The new girl approached her cautiously.
“Hey,” Jess said, trying to ignore the way her heart rate had begun to speed up.
“I wanted to ask you something, if that’s alright.”
“Those people at dinner the other night,” Rey began hesitantly, “they were asking you about Poe Dameron.”
“Information on that man is a hot commodity in these parts,” said Jess.
“So I’m realizing. But I can’t figure out why.”
Jess shrugged. “He’s been a hero since he got here, and add that to good looks and a naturally friendly personality and you’ve got a dangerous combination.”
“I suppose he is kind,” Rey agreed, “he let me fly his x-wing the other day. And Finn likes him.”
“Better not let either of those things get around or we’ll have a rebellion on our hands.”
“That’s exactly what I mean. How can one person inspire so much feeling?”
“You’ve got me there.” Jess rubbed a tired hand across her forehead. “I suppose from afar it’s easy for people to seem perfect. No one ever is, though, or else they’d be dreadfully irritating.”
There was a pause.
“It all seems so strange to me,” Rey confessed.
“You’ll get used to it,” Jess assured her, “around here, everyone simultaneously hates Poe, loves him, and wants to marry the poor bastard.”
“Ah, well. Poe’s handsome enough in his own right, and I won’t deny having felt my heartstrings flutter at his approach more than a few times, but truth be told I’m in it more for the amusement of seeing my team lose their reason around him than any deep well of feeling. I do respect him greatly, but…he’s not exactly my type.”
Rey cracked the hint of a smile at that. “Mine either.”
Listening to the cadets gossiping as they got ready in the morning was always an entertaining pastime. Jess was in line for the showers when she heard the talk turn to one of its favorite points of conversation.
“So what’s this about some pilot I keep hearing about?” one of the cadets asked.
“That’s Poe Dameron!” another supplied enthusiastically, “I hear he rescued that BB-8 unit of his from some Jawas on Tatooine and hasn’t left the droid’s side since.”
“I hear his mother was part of the Green Squadron during the assault on the Second Death Star and that she was his inspiration to become a pilot.”
“I hear he’s been going around heartsick because he’s caught feelings for someone on this base!”
All of the cadets squealed.
“I gave him a rose once,” someone said, “He said thank you very much and tucked it through the pocket of his jacket.”
“I wish I he’d say that to me,” another one whined.
“I spoke to him once, when he was serving food in the mess hall.”
“That doesn’t count, we all spoke to him then.”
It was all a little ridiculous.
On her way back to her bunk Jess ran into Rey.
“I think we need to do something about the Poe problem before it gets out of hand,” she said, “for the sanity of everyone on this base. He was all the cadets in the showers could talk about this morning.”
Rey got a thoughtful look on her face. “I had an idea about that. Follow me.”
Jessika had never really spoken to Finn before. He’d only recently been discharged from the hospital, and he spent most of his time with Rey and Poe. He didn’t seem shy, exactly, just…hesitant. Jess supposed that made sense. The Resistance fighters were good people, but it was more than likely a few of them would have their biases against an ex-Stormtrooper, even if General Organa had said she wouldn’t stand for that sort of thing.
She could see why Rey liked him. He had an earnest and companionable nature, rather like Poe, and greeted her warmly.
“Rey says the two of you have a plan you’d like my assistance with.”
“Apparently,” Jess said, “Rey?”
The pilot took a deep breath. “Alright. Finn. I’m going to ask you a question, and I need you to answer me with complete honesty.”
Finn blinked. “Okay?”
“How do you feel about Poe Dameron?”
Finn paused. “Grateful. He’s the first person who ever saw me as more than just a number.”
“…and I think he’s kind and brave and value his friendship?”
“Rey, what are you getting at?”
Rey rolled her eyes. “And you’re slightly in love with him, you dolt. Anyone can see it.”
“I wouldn’t…that’s…love is a strong word…”
“But you do admit you’re attracted to him?”
“I don’t see the point of this,” Finn groaned. He turned to Jess. “Poe’s mentioned you before. What’s your angle in all this?”
“Poe Dameron is my friend and I want what’s best for him,” Jess said, “even if he is usually oblivious to what that is.”
“Are you…saying he likes me?”
“Rey would know better than I, but…yes. I think he does.”
“But you’d better act fast unless you want your future boyfriend swept off his feet by some other champion of the Resistance,” Rey put in.
“It could very well happen,” Jess maintained, “the cadets even talk about him in the showers.”
Finn threw his hands up. “Okay, okay, point taken. What do you want me to do?”
“Just…tell him how you feel,” Rey said, “You’ll know where to go from there.”
“When should I do it?”
Finn looked at Jess with a pleading expression, but she just grinned.
“You two are worse than the First Order,” he said.
Rey laughed. “No we’re not.”
It’s good to see her laughing, Jess thought as they dragged Finn through the halls to the x-wing hangar in search of Poe. She and Rey had hardly interacted before the start of these escapades, but Jess could hardly fail to notice a girl like that. For all the talk about Poe Dameron around the base there were whispers about Rey too. She’d been quiet, at first. Subdued. Every once and a while someone would catch her staring wistfully off into space, as if she was a million lightyears away. But lately she’d been opening up more, and Jess was grateful for that.
They found Poe working on his ship, as expected. Finn gave the two of them one last panicked look and Jess almost took pity on him, but Rey shoved him forward mercilessly.
“Finn,” Poe said with surprise, “what can I do for you?”
The ex-Stormtrooper shot Rey a glance. She nodded at him encouragingly.
“I…well…I was wondering if you would like to, at some future point, go on a date with me.”
Poe’s face broke into a smile bright enough to power planets. “I would like nothing more.”
Finn let out a whoop, and Poe laughed. Jess couldn’t keep herself from grinning a bit. Rey grabbed her hand and pulled her back out into the hallway.
“I figured we should give them some privacy.”
“Probably wise,” Jess agreed.
“That should take care of our issues,” Rey said, “Once the rest of the Resistance sees Poe’s taken they’ll probably pine a bit, but after a while they’ll move on and find some other target for their affections.”
Jess nodded. She realized she hadn’t let go of Rey’s hand and dropped it quickly, blushing. “I…”
“Yes?” Rey stepped closer to her.
Jess took a breath to steady herself. “I’ve been meaning to ask…how is it you managed to stay immune to Poe’s charms all this time? It’s not as if you aren’t close.”
“Oh, that.” Rey laughed. “Well, between the two of us…I’m not really into men.”
“Is that so?” Jess couldn’t help a small laugh herself. This entire time I’ve been so blind. “In that case…would you do me the honor of going on a date with me?”
This time Rey took both her hands and pulled her close. “I thought you’d never ask.”