Finn stood anxiously outside medical bay, focusing all his energy on not pacing the hallway. It was difficult, and he could practically feel his limbs vibrating against the desire to do something, but long years of training and conditioning kept him still, alert and ready.
Rey was doing no such thing. She had traced out a path for herself: across the corridor, along the wall until she reached one of the disposal bins, back across the corridor, up to where Finn stood, then repeat. BB-8 was rolling along worriedly behind her. Finn was fairly certain if they didn’t let them in soon, the pair of them would wear a groove into the concrete.
Poe had been in there for over an hour now. To be precise, it had been an hour, thirteen minutes and forty four seconds. Finn may or may not have been counting. They’d dragged him into medical the second the squadron had landed--Finn and Rey hadn’t even been able to say hello--and no one would tell them what was wrong. They’d gotten a terse answer out of Snap, that Poe was sick and Medical had to find out what it was before they let him out of quarantine, but that was all anyone knew.
Or at least, that was all anyone was willing to say. But Finn knew better. He’d seen this before, back in the first order: when a soldier came back wounded or ill, there would be an Evaluation. The soldier’s physical condition was assessed, then a comparison would be made between their chance of recovery and potential value to the Order, and the resources and time which would be required to repair them. If the latter exceeded the former, the soldier would be eliminated and recycled for parts.
Finn knew he probably had nothing to worry about. As the best pilot in the resistance, Poe’s potential value was enormous. Assuming nothing was wrong that would damage his ability to fly, of course. Finn didn’t even want to think about what would happen in that case.
“I still say we break in,” Rey growled again, jarring Finn from his thoughts.
“No,” Finn said, though in truth, he was very tempted to do just that. In fact, he’d occupied at least thirty minutes of the last hour trying to identify every potential structural weakness in the medbay doors. If the Resistance did decide Poe was not worth the resources to save...well, at least Finn had some experience at running away. He’d grab Poe, and Rey and BB-8, and they’d disappear again.
“Why not?” Rey kicked at the ground. “I could get them to let us in without breaking down the door.”
“You’re not supposed to use Jedi mind tricks on the medical staff anymore,” Finn reminded her.
Rey muttered something under her breath that, from BB-8’s indignant squawk, was not very polite. But she did resume her pacing without further protest, which Finn took as a victory.
It was another seventeen minutes and twenty two seconds before the doors to medbay finally slid open. Rey stopped so abruptly that BB-8 bumped into her, but Finn ignored the droid’s irritated bleeping and Rey’s attempts to shush him.
Instead, he rushed forward, grabbing the shoulders of the startled physician who’d been leaving the medbay. “Where is he?” he said, shaking her slightly.
“Where is who?” was the startled reply, and Finn felt the bottom drop out of his gut. If the resistance was already denying Poe’s existence, did that mean they’d--had they already…?
“Poe Dameron,” Rey said, striding up to the doctor and giving her a look Finn was pretty sure could freeze Jakku.
“Oh.” The doctor reached up and plucked Finn’s hands from her shoulders. “He’s inside. Bed four. I should warn you, though,” she added, “he's not exactly coherent right now.”
Finn frowned. "He's not?"
"He has a high fever," she said. "And believe me, there is no living with Poe Dameron when he's sick." She rolled her eyes and shook her head, then turned and strode away before Finn could question her further. He gulped, looking at Rey, finding the same worry in her eyes.
“Come on,” she said after a second, jaw firming with determination. She grabbed his hand and dragged him into the medical bay.
It was relatively quiet. The squadron had been on a recon mission only, so apart from whatever was wrong with Poe, no one else had needed to come to medical. So it was easy enough to find Poe’s bed, tucked into the corner, lit by a low-hanging lamp.
It also helped that Poe was moaning piteously.
Finn dropped Rey’s hand and raced forward, skidding to a halt next to Poe’s medbed. “Poe!”
The pilot looked awful. His face was pale, with dark, sunken circles under his eyes, which were bright with obvious fever. His blankets were dragged up to his neck, but Finn could see he was still shivering.
“Poe,” Finn said again, heart in his throat. This looked...bad. Really bad. “Oh, no, Poe--what happened to you?”
Poe looked up at him, eyes glazed. “Finn,” he said, his voice hoarse and pitiful. “I knew you'd come for me. My buddy. My best friend. My knight in black-and-white armor.”
“Um...what?” Finn glanced down at his standard issue clothing (topped off with Poe’s battered but mended jacket) and frowned. “I’m not in black-and-white armor.”
“You shouldn’t be here,” Poe said hoarsely. “You put yourself in great danger.”
Finn’s eyes widened, and he looked up at Rey, who was frowning down at Poe.
“Why is Finn in danger?” she asked slowly.
Poe looked at her, and shook his head slowly. "Rey," he said sadly. "Rey, my beautiful Rey. So strong, so brave. I knew you'd come for me."
"What are you talking about?" Rey frowned.
"My friends," Poe said sadly. "It's too late for me. Save yourselves. You'll have to leave me behind. I can't go on."
Finn swallowed hard, a mix of terror and sorrow clogging his throat as his eyes grew blurry. "Poe," he begged, reaching out and grabbing Poe's hand, "you'll be okay, won't you? You'll get better, won't you?"
Poe gazed up at him again and smiled softly. "Ah, Finn, te amo, mi corazon. No llorres, mi amor." He reached up and lay his hand against Finn's cheek for a second; Finn grabbed his hand and held it in place, leaning his cheek against Poe's palm.
"What is he saying?" he asked Rey, but she just shrugged, staring at Poe in consternation. Finn looked back down at Poe. "Poe, I don't understand. What are you saying?"
Poe didn't answer. Instead, he gazed up at Finn, his eyes large and soulful, for several silent moments, before he sighed and closed his eyes, his hand going limp in Finn's grip. For one wildly terrifying moment, Finn thought he had died, but after a second, Poe began to snore.
Finn slumped, bowing his head and pressing his brow to Poe's clammy hand. He didn't know what he'd do, if he lost Poe. He honestly couldn't imagine it. Every time the pilot left on a mission, Finn was beside himself with worry, but it was a distant worry--he could throw himself into his work to distract himself from it, and trust in Poe's considerable skills to keep him alive. But this...
How could he fight an enemy he couldn't see? And what would he do, if the Resistance decided they weren't willing to fight it, either?
Rey and Finn stayed with Poe until a medical droid shooed them out again, insisting that the patient needed to rest. Finn wasn't sure how their presence was preventing this--Poe was still snoring soundly--but he obeyed, not wanting to do anything to upset the medical staff.
Once back in the corridors, Finn turned to Rey, who hadn't spoken since her question to Poe. Her face was grim, and when he looked at her, she offered him a terse smile that didn't reach her eyes. Finn wanted to ask her what she thought, but he realized abruptly he was afraid to hear the answer.
Instead, he followed her and BB-8 back to their quarters, heart heavy in his chest.
Please, Poe, he begged his friend silently. Please be all right. Please.
* * *
Finn tried to keep his head down the next few days, and his ear to the ground, listening for any news about Poe. He was only able to visit a few times, and then only briefly. Poe slept through the first visit, and during the second, he was still delirious with fever, muttering in his native language and moaning. Once, his eyes cleared enough that he recognized Finn; he grabbed his hand and squeezed tight, saying, "Finn, thank Gods, a friendly face at last," but then he was gone again, eyes glazing over once more.
Finn would have stayed with him, but medical was keeping people away most of the time, insisting Poe needed rest.
Finn knew better. During an Evaluation, the trooper was kept isolated, and the rest of the order assessed, so the First Order could observe how well they functioned in the trooper's absence.
Finn had reason to suspect this was the case, when the X-Wing pilots left on another recon mission the very next day, with Snap flying command in Poe's place. When they returned, Finn made excuses to linger in the hangar, eavesdropping on their chatter; he overheard them laughing, and thought he heard Poe's name. Under the guise of needing to check one of the hangar's shield generators, he sidled closer.
"...obviously doing just fine without him," Jess was saying, elbowing Snap in the side. "We should tell him he can park his worthless ass in medical as long as he likes."
Snap smirked. "It did feel good bossing you around," he said, shoving her shoulder. "Maybe I'll tell Organa we don't need Dameron anymore after all. I imagine she could arrange early retirement for him, don't you think?"
Their laughter followed them out of the hangar, and Finn couldn't hear any more of their chatter, but it didn't matter anyway. His hands had curled into sweaty fists, and his heart was pounding loudly in his ears. He turned and all but sprinted back to his chambers.
Rey was sitting cross-legged on her bunk, eyes closed, hands resting on her knees. In front of her, BB-8 was levitating about three feet off the ground, looking somewhat nonplussed about the situation.
"Rey," Finn said, and Rey's eyes snapped open, BB-8 thunking to the ground abruptly. Rey cringed, as the droid spat a series of annoyed bleeps and squawks at her before trundling past Finn and rolling out of the room in an angry huff.
"Sorry," she called after it, before turning to Finn. "What's wrong?"
"It's Poe," he blurted, and it came out half on a sob. He slapped a hand over his mouth, even as Rey swept to her feet and came to stand right in front of him.
"What happened?" she said, voice soft and serious. "Is he...?"
"No," Finn said, moving away from her and pacing the room. "At least, I--I don't think so. Yet."
"He's getting worse?" Rey guessed.
"I don't know," Finn moaned. "They still won't let me in. But I heard the pilots talking, and--and I think they're going to recycle him, Rey."
"Recycle him?" Rey looked bewildered. "What's that?"
"It's what the First Order did," Finn said, voice choking again. "If we were injured or sick. They'd Evaluate us--determine if we were worth keeping alive. If the resources necessary to fix us were worth more than we were, they'd...they'd..."
"I think I get it," Rey cut him off, blessedly. "But Finn...this isn't the First Order. The resistance values life. They wouldn't do that."
"Are you sure?" Finn said, stopping in front of her and gripping her shoulders. "Are you positive, Rey? Because I overheard the other pilots, and they said..."
"What? What did they say?"
Finn slumped, ducking his head. "They said they didn't need him," he said. "That they'd be fine with Snap flying command. That they could convince General Organa to push him into early retirement." He didn't even want to contemplate what that was a euphemism for.
"I'm sure they were joking," Rey said, but she looked doubtful, now, worrying at her lower lip with her teeth.
"Are you positive?" Finn said softly. "Would you bet Poe's life on it?"
She stared at him for a second, then cursed under her breath. "What do we do?"
Finn squared his shoulders and stared at her grimly. "We get him out of here," he said. "Tonight. As soon as possible."
"Will that work?" Rey looked worried. "If he's still sick--Finn, taking him outside might make him worse."
"Do we have a choice?" Finn studied her. "Rey, we can't let them--we can't let them hurt Poe. I...I wouldn't...I couldn't..." Finn stopped talking and had to swallow, and blink away the mistiness in his eyes.
"Okay, Finn," she said softly, laying a hand on his arm. "Okay. Tonight, then."
Finn nodded. "You gather some provisions--you've got a better idea what we'll need," he said. "I'll get Poe out of medical. Can you fly a transport?"
Rey gave him a look. "Of course I can," she said. "But why should we? We could just take the Falcon. Chewie likes Poe, I'm sure he'd go with us."
"No," Finn said after a moment's thought. "No, we can't risk it. He's too loyal to General Organa. And the Falcon's too conspicuous. We need something they're less likely to miss."
Rey wasn't happy, but she eventually conceded his point. She left the room to begin scouting out the things they would need, while Finn looked around at the chambers and bunk that had been, for a few short months, the closest thing to a real home he'd ever had.
But no--that wasn't right, was it? If he'd learned anything in his life, it was that home wasn't a place. It was people. The resistance wasn't home, but Rey was. And so was Poe.
He'd finally found them, and he wasn't about to let them go. It didn't matter if Poe never got better--Finn would take care of him for the rest of their lives. Even if Poe could never fly, or even walk on his own again, Finn would be there to bathe him and feed him and take care of him, because he was family, and that's what family did.
Thus determined, Finn set about planning their daring escape.
* * *
Three hours later, he and Rey were seated in General Organa's office, flanked by stern-looking guards and being stared down by the Resistance's leader.
Finn tried very hard not to squirm, but it was difficult. In the end, he settled for staring at the desk.
A datapad slid into his line of sight; on it, he saw, was a security camera video of he and Rey sneaking across the hangar toward one of the transports. Finn cringed, watching as he half-dragged, half-carried the semi-conscious Poe; halfway across the hangar, the pilot began singing. Loudly and very off-key. Finn watched himself on camera desperately trying to shush him, but Poe simply sang louder still. A few second later, the hanger was swarming with personnel, including the armed guards who were still standing behind Finn and Rey.
"So," General Organa said, and Finn glanced up at her, briefly meeting her gaze. "You want to tell me what was going on here?"
Finn bit his lip. He didn't like lying to the general, but how could he tell her what they were planning, when doing so might endanger Poe even further?
He heard a sigh, and looked up to see General Organa leaning forward across her desk. "Finn," she said softly. "I want to trust you. I do trust you. But I can't help you if I don't know what's going on."
Finn glanced at Rey, who was still glaring into the middle distance. She'd wanted to fight the resistance guards that had caught them, but Finn had urged her against it, not at all certain Poe wouldn't get hit in the crossfire. They could try again, later, if they had to, and Rey could use all the mind tricks she wanted, but they couldn't risk Poe.
"You were trying to get Poe Dameron onto a transport," General Organa continued. "You were stocked for a month's journey. Where were you going? And more importantly, why?"
Finn swallowed, closing his eyes. And it was then he became aware of a gentle prodding in his mind, questioning but not invasive.
His eyes flew open again, and he stared at the general, startled. He knew without a doubt the sensation had come from her; it wasn't unlike when Rey tried to read his mind using the force. But where Rey was loud and obvious, General Organa was so subtle Finn might have mistaken her presence in his mind for his own; a sense of calm washed over him, and he found himself relaxing incrementally, the tension in his body releasing itself of its own accord.
And with it went the last of Finn's control. His face crumpled, and he huddled forward, bowing his head and trying not to cry.
"Will you give us a moment, please?" he heard General Organa murmur, and then there was the shuffle of boots heading out of the office. The door slid shut behind them, and it was only Finn and Rey, with General Organa exuding a comforting presence into their minds.
"Finn?" she said softly. "What happened? Why did you try to take Poe away from here?"
Finn swallowed, and said, "I...I was afraid."
"Afraid of what?"
Finn drew a breath, and then, like a dam breaking, it spilled out of him. "He's sick. He's sick, and I thought...I was afraid you might not think it was worth the resources to make him well. If he wasn't valuable to the resistance anymore, I thought you might...that you would...and I couldn't let him it happen. I couldn't let him die. I'll take care of him, I promise I will, even if he can't ever fly again, just please, please, don't--don't hurt him? I can't lose him, General, I just can't."
He managed to halt his speech, embarrassed and a little ashamed of the hot tears he could feel tracing tracks down his cheeks. But he didn't pull away, when General Organa rose and moved around the desk to stand before him. He didn't pull away when she reached up and wiped the tears from his face, either, and when she tilted his head up, he met her gaze without argument.
He was startled to see there was a shine to her own eyes, and when she crouched in front of him so he was eye level, there was a slight tremble in her lip. But her voice was strong and as sure as ever when she spoke.
"Finn," she said. "I am so sorry. I sensed your turmoil but assumed you were simply worried about a sick friend. I should never have assumed..." she shook her head and changed tracks. "This is not the First Order, Finn. We value all life, and there is no cost too high to save one, no matter whom it belongs to. I am so sorry that you had to spend any amount of time fearing otherwise."
Finn blinked at her, hope rising in his heart, then glanced at Rey, who still looked troubled.
"But I...I heard the pilots," he said after a moment. "They said they'd...you'd make him retire, so Snap could be in charge."
General Organa sighed, and for a fleeting moment, her expression turned long-suffering. "I don't know what you overheard," she said, rising to her feet and moving back around the desk. "But perhaps I should have also told you that the last people you ever want to take seriously are the X-Wing squadron pilots. They have a way of interacting with one another that sometimes defies all reasonable social convention."
She scooped up the datapad and typed a few commands into it, then held it out again. "This is the security feed from the medical bay," she said. "Take a look for yourself."
Finn leaned forward, watching the video scroll by at a rapid speed, and noted that, apart from himself and Rey, Poe did seem to have a number of other visitors--including all of the squadron members, at one point or another. And Jess and Snap in particular seemed to be frequent visitors, even sneaking in after hours a few times to set up by Poe's bed and keep watch over him.
Something lifted in Finn's heart, and he slumped, as his fears about the Resistance finally melted away. But he hesitated, then, looking up at the general, trying to make himself give voice to the question he was afraid to ask.
Fortunately, Rey did it for him. "General," she said softly, "Will Poe live?"
General Organa glanced at her, then back at Finn, and finally, a true smile graced her features.
"Yes, he will live," she assured them gently. "Poe Dameron has contracted a case of Corellian Flu. It's a nasty bug, and there's not much we can do but let it run its course, but it will run its course, and he'll be good as new."
Finn sobbed softly again, slumping and letting a few more tears fall. This time, though, they were tears of relief.
"Can we see him again?" Rey asked softly, seeming to sense that Finn was beyond speech just then.
"Of course," the general said. "In fact, why don't we all go see him? I want to make sure and double check security protocols in the medical bay. It would appear we have some gaps in our current system," she added dryly.
Finn chuckled sheepishly, and then did it again, because it felt so damn good. After a few seconds he was laughing--a full, hearty belly-laugh that banished the rest of the fear and worry. Rey joined in after a few moments with a soft, goofy giggle, and when Finn looked up again, he saw the general smiling indulgently at both of them.
"Come on, you two," she said, once their laughter had died down a bit. "Let's go see Poe."
* * *
It was two more days before Poe's fever finally broke.
Finn and Rey were there when it happened. After their ordeal, the General had given the medical staff orders to allow Finn and Rey full-time access, and they'd taken her at her word, setting up cots and having meals delivered right to the medical bay. Poe did little but sleep until his fever broke, though he would occasionally wake up and say something to them. It rarely made sense, and was often in his native language anyway, but once, he did wake up and look at Finn for a few minutes and smile, murmuring, "Hey, buddy," before drifting off again, his fingers curled around Finn's.
That, more than anything else, gave Finn hope.
When Poe's fever broke, it was early in the morning, and Rey was dozing lightly in her cot. Finn, used to the hours kept by the First Order, was awake, reading through a set of medical protocols and treatments given to him by one of the droids (he suspected at General Organa's request). He was startled and fascinated to learn there were other treatments to illness and injury than "throw them in a bacta tank," and was therefore quite engrossed in his studies. When Poe said, "Finn?" it startled the ex-trooper so badly he yelped and dropped the datapad. It clattered noisily to the ground, causing Rey to jump to her feet, falling into a defensive stance before her eyes were properly open.
"Whasa--whossit--whaa?" she demanded of the mostly-empty room, her arms lifted and hands curled into fists.
Finn blinked at her for a second, and she blinked back as she woke up completely. Then as one, they both turned to look at Poe.
The pilot was staring at them with wide eyes, looking torn between amusement and concern. "Ah...hey, guys," he said. "What's up?"
"Poe!" They spoke in unison, and the next second, they had both launched themselves onto the bed, wrapping the pilot in an awkward group hug.
"Oof," Poe said, though he did his best to return the embrace, wrapping one arm around Rey's waist and the other around Finn's shoulders. "Hello to you, too. What's going on?" When neither of them answered right away, Poe's voice grew concerned. "Guys? C'mon, what's wrong?"
Finn grinned, lifting his head and looking up at the bewildered-looking Poe. "Nothing," he said. "Nothing at all." Then he surged forward and planted a heartfelt kiss on Poe's mouth.
Poe made a startled noise, but didn't protest otherwise, and in fact returned the kiss with enthusiasm when it appeared Finn was not going to pull away immediately. When Finn did pull back, Poe was staring up at him in startled wonderment. But he didn't have time to stare for long, as in the next moment, Rey had launched herself at him and was giving him a kiss of her own.
"Whoa, whoa, okay, hold on," Poe said, when she'd pulled away. "Not that I'm opposed to the warm welcomes, but seriously, guys--what happened?"
"You were sick," Finn said softly.
"Really sick," Rey agreed.
Poe looked from Finn to Rey, then back to Finn, and nodded once to himself.
"Okay, then," he said, holding out his arms again. "Come here."
It was crowded, with three of them snuggled up on the medical bed, but they made it work. Finn pressed his nose against the side of Poe's neck, eyes drifting closed as he listened to Poe breathing, and felt his heartbeat in his chest. Poe's hand drifted to the back of Finn's neck, and began a gentle massage; when Finn opened his eyes, he saw that Poe's other hand was gently stroking Rey's hair. He sighed, and smiled, letting himself relax for the first time in over a week.
He was finally home.
* * *