It happens so innocently, Finn almost can't believe it. He and Poe are in the mess hall, bent over a plate of fried jibo root. They're laughing about something completely trivial, a scandalized comment C3PO made, which Poe feels the need to repeat over and over, in increasingly exaggerated imitation of the protocol droid's voice; it feels wrong, not because they actually like 3PO, but because there's a war going on. Finn and Poe and everyone they care about could both be dead tomorrow. But. But. They found each other. Despite starting out on opposite sides of the war, literally on opposite sides of the Galaxy, they found each other, and here they are laughing over a plate of fries. Against all odds. And somehow that insulates them, lets them feel separate, special.
Poe gets the last fry, picks it up and twiddles it between his two fingers, waggling his eyebrows and grinning suggestively. And Finn, who doesn't even want the dumb fry really, leans forward on his elbows, looks Poe right in his stupidly beautiful face and says, "You're going to give that to me."
Poe's expression goes utterly blank. It's one of the eeriest things Finn has ever seen: it's like something inside him just got switched off. He says in a dull voice, that almost seems to belong to someone else, "I'm going to give this to you." And he does. Mechanically, he extends his hand, offering Finn the fry.
Finn just stares at him. Is this a joke? He thinks, This has to be a joke. But how can anyone - never mind Poe "Hello, I Wear My Heart On My Sleeve" Dameron - fake a look like that? Just … vacant. Absent. And why would he? It's not funny.
"Poe." Finn grabs his wrist and shakes him. "Snap out of it. Please."
A small crease appears between Poe's eyebrows and the light comes back into his eyes. He glances down at Finn's fingers, wrapped tightly around his wrist, then up at Finn's face. His confusion is obvious, but he laughs. "If you want it, buddy, you can have it. It's fine."
But Finn doesn't take the fry. He's lost his appetite. In fact, he thinks he might be sick.
* * * *
And it was an accident, wasn't it? It has to have been. Finn can't believe there's any part of him that has any desire to control anyone, never mind someone who means as much to him as Poe.
So, then, why? And why now? And how?
It's the Force, he thinks. There's nothing else it could be. The old Jedi mind trick. But Finn isn't a Jedi. He's never had even the most rudimentary training. Hell, before Jakku and Rey, he wasn't even sure he believed in the Force. Why should he? He was a Stormtrooper. Glorified cannon fodder. The idea that he could possibly be part of anything greater, never mind bound to every other thing in the Galaxy by some kind of mystical link, was preposterous.
The idea of the Force still seems somewhat preposterous, despite all the things he's seen and done since he defected. Okay, maybe it seems just a little less preposterous when he's talking to Rey or lying in Poe's arms, but…
Is that really how it works? Do you just wake up one morning after twenty-three years of nothing and suddenly realize that you can use the Force? That seems pretty stupid.
Well. But what about Rey?
No, Finn thinks, that's not the same at all. Rey is … Rey. Besides which, she did have training as a small child; she's starting to remember, she told him in her last message. After Kylo Ren killed Luke Skywalker's other apprentices, her memories were suppressed and she was sent to Jakku to keep her safe. So her ability to use the Force didn't come out of nowhere.
And can it even be called an ability in Finn's case? Maybe it's just a fluke. A one-time thing. Maybe some weird anomaly - a distant supernova, perhaps - sent out waves of energy that just randomly gave him the power, and then took it away again. (He hopes.) Maybe other people had the same experience.
Somehow, he has the feeling that's not what happened at all.
He should talk to Rey. She might not know exactly what to do, but she's his best friend and she'll listen. Maybe she can ask Luke Skywalker, and he'll have the answer. Maybe they'll decide that Finn needs training too, and he'll be sent to wherever they are…
Too many maybes, thinks Finn.
The trouble is, it would probably take a while for a message to reach her and for her to respond. And he can't wait. Poe deserves to know now, tonight.
It's going to crush him, but he needs to know.
* * * *
Finn instinctively shrugs and makes a noncommittal noise, but Poe holds on tightly, resting his chin in the juncture of Finn's neck and shoulder, and murmurs, "Tell me. You can tell me anything." His lashes tickle the sensitive skin just below Finn's earlobe. "Everything seemed fine before supper. What happened?"
"It - it's nothing," Finn stammers, then flushes with shame. Poe turns him around and starts to kiss him. Stop, Finn wants to say, not because he actually wants Poe to stop but because he's already in deep, and if he gets in any deeper, it's going to go really, really badly. Not that there's any way this can end well at this point, but… But he can't tell Poe to stop what he's doing because what if it happens again? What if Finn says the words and Poe looks up at him again with that utterly blank expression, like everything that makes him Poe is just gone?
Poe walks him backward toward the bed, kissing him all the while, and Finn - hating himself, hating the Force and everything connected to it (which is actually everything, he thinks a little wildly) - kisses him back, burying his fingers in the thick, messy curls. When they're in bed, Poe climbs on top, straddling Finn's thighs, capturing Finn's face between his warm palms.
"You promise it's nothing?" Poe whispers, lifting his lips an inch away from Finn's.
"Yes," Finn groans. His hands clutch at Poe's shirt. But it's no good. "No," he mutters, shutting his eyes and trying to turn his face away as Poe starts to kiss him again. "No, Poe - please. Stop for a sec and listen. There's something I have to tell you."
* * * *
"I'm sorry," Finn says miserably, at last. "I wasn't trying to, I swear. I promise--"
"This is the first time this has happened?" Poe says. His voice is rough, but the words come steadily. "The only time?"
"How do you know? How do I know?"
"I'm sorry, I have to--" He twists away from Finn, rising to his feet. Finn can hear him in the darkness, fumbling for his clothes. It's in Finn's mind to get up, to stop him. But he can't move. The door slides open, and for a moment he sees Poe in silhouette, hair all tangled, shirt buttoned wrong so it hangs askew across his chest. He looks back at Finn and his shoulders hunch suddenly, like someone just hit him in the stomach. Finn winces. Then the door closes again, and he's gone and Finn's alone.
* * * *
* * * *
Finn wants to try to explain again, and do a better job. He fumbled it before, he thinks, because he assumed that he would. There may not be a good way to tell someone he's been Force-whammied, but there has to be a good way to tell someone--
That I'm sorry. Really, really sorry. I don't know why it happened, or how. But it's not going to happen again, I promise.
And then if Poe tells him to just shut up and go away, then he will, without a word of protest. He'll even leave the Resistance if Poe wants him far away, just pick up and go. He can, he thinks. He hasn't been here very long, only a few months. He likes it here; he likes most of the people and their cause; he thinks that maybe, if he could figure out how he can help, then maybe he might belong. But this isn't his home.
Finn doesn't have a home.
He doesn't know where he'll go, but he'll think of something.
He'll think of something.
He always does in the end.
It occurs to Finn as he's jogging down the corridor in his pajamas and slippers, that he's getting way ahead of himself: first he has to figure out where he's going right now. Where could Poe have disappeared to? There are really only a few possibilities: when he's not flying in his X-wing, Poe is pretty much a creature of habit. He might be in the mess, or bedded down on another pilots' floor, most likely Snap or Jess.
Finn stops to think. He can't just go barging into someone else's quarters late at night, so he should probably head over to the mess. If Poe isn't there, well… But before he's gone two strides, he feels a tug in another direction. It's like small fingers pinching his ankle, insistent but not painful, and when he blinks a vision of the darkened hangar bay flashes behind his eyelids.
He doesn't know if it's intuition or the Force, or which he honestly prefers, but he listens to it, pivoting on his heel, and heading off in the direction it seems to want him to go.
* * * *
They all come rushing back - every single one of them - at the sight of BB-8 speeding toward him from out of the darkness, tiny lights flickering in fury, making a sound not at all unlike a hawk-bat swooping down for the kill. Finn yelps and jumps backward, but BB-8 comes just short of bowling him over, screaming to a halt mere inches from his slippered feet. For a moment, they just look at each other, warily sizing each other up. BB-8 probably wonders if Finn is here to make amends - or make things worse. For his part, Finn wonders if he's about to die.
At the hands of a knee-high droid that doesn't actually have hands.
He feels the sick laughter bubble in his chest, but before it emerges, BB-8 lets loose a flurry of high-pitched whistles and beeps, and Finn's understanding of Binary is still just rudimentary, but he knows he's being scolded within an inch of his life. He catches a few words here and there: Poe, and Finn, and broken, which has to be a mistranslation, something that's almost definitely an expletive, and X-wing.
Finn seizes on that last word. "He's in his X-wing?" he asks, peering over BB-8 into the dark hangar. Poe's X-wing is toward the back. There's no movement anywhere; even the maintenance droids appear to have powered down, or gone to perform other duties somewhere else. "Can I go see him? Please?" he adds when BB-8 emits a low rumble that could almost be a growl.
"Look," says Finn, kneeling down so he and the droid are at eye-level. "Nobody's broken. He's not broken. We are not broken." He still isn't sure he's translating that particular sound correctly. "I … hurt him. I know. I'm really sorry, I didn't mean to. I know that you love him. Me too, okay? That's a secret," he adds, because those are words he's never said aloud before, not even to Rey, and he doesn't want BB-8 gossiping to the other droids, or anyone else, before Finn has the chance to tell Poe. Assuming he gets that chance. "I just want to try to make things better. Okay? Can I go and see him?"
BB-8 whistles uncertainly.
"Should I even be here? I mean, if he really wants to be left alone, then I don't want to--"
BB-8 cuts him off with an admonishing bleep.
"I'm taking that to mean 'go ahead.' If I'm wrong, please just tell me and don't murder me. Okay?" Finn starts to rise slowly, half-expecting a sharp note of warning. But BB-8 is quiet. "He's really in his X-wing?" Finn says, frowning. "He's just sitting there? Was he planning on sleeping there?" The thought of Poe trying to curl up in his pilot's seat - which isn't exactly spacious even if you're not an especially tall person - hurts.
He takes a step forward, hesitates; but BB-8 doesn't try to stop him, doesn't make a sound. So Finn takes a deep breath and a few more cautious strides. And then he's just running, still without a plan, which he always seems to be doing, but he figures: it's Poe. They grew up on opposite sides of the war, on opposite sides of the Galaxy, but except for this one time, he's always somehow seemed to know how to be with Poe. He's aware of BB-8, rolling along beside him, and the hangar's dry air filling his lungs.
The lights on Poe's black-and-red X-wing are dark when Finn finally draws near to it. He can't tell that there's actually anyone in the cockpit, and he can't climb up to see because the ladder's been retracted. BB-8 stops beside him and gives an inquiring chirp: what next?
"I don't know," Finn says, momentarily deflated. Unfortunately, he doesn't have a comm link on him, and anyway, it's entirely possible Poe switched his off. He supposes he could find another ladder somewhere; there has to be one that the maintenance droids use. Or he could grab hold of a wing and try to hoist himself up. He can see that going pretty badly, even if BB-8 is kind enough to give him a boost - which he distinctly doubts. He has the impression he's being tested, that this is something he's got to do without assistance.
And then, what's he supposed to do if he even makes it up there without killing himself? Bang on the transparisteel canopy until Poe lets him in? At this point, Finn honestly doesn't care that much about his own dignity; he's prepared to look like a complete fool if it helps to make things right.
But there has to be a better, smarter approach than launching a one-man assault on an X-wing.
Finn raises his hands, cupping them around his mouth. But after a moment, he lets them fall back to his sides. Shouting isn't the answer, either. What's he supposed to say, anyway? Get down here so I can talk to you? Issuing commands is what wrecked things in the first place.
Finn takes a step backward, considering his options. Maybe thinking that he's giving up, BB-8 clicks dolefully.
What would Rey do? Finn wonders. Probably she'd be able to leap with feline grace to the nose of the X-wing, thump the canopy with her staff, and have her say.
A reluctant smile tugs at his lips. But then he shakes his head. No, she wouldn't do that. Rey will rap your skull if she thinks you're being stupid or mean, but she's kind to people in distress. She would find a more gentle approach. She would use the Force, but she'd do it right.
Finn sinks slowly to the hangar's cold floor beside BB-8, and contemplates the X-wing and the man sealed up inside. The Force connects everything, Finn thinks. It binds things. "If that's true," he says aloud, partly for BB-8's benefit, partly because it's just so damn quiet, "then it shouldn't matter about the sheets of metal between us, right? It shouldn't matter about the ship. We're all connected, all three of us. Everything we touch, even the air, it's all made out of particles, right? Everything is touching everything else. I know droids aren't Force-sensitive, but does that make any sense?"
BB-8 just looks at him.
Finn sighs. If everything is connected, he tells himself, then he's connected to Poe, even if he's down here on the ground and Poe is up in the ship.
He closes his eyes, thinks about the particles he's made up of … mingling, on some level, with the particles in the air, the particles that make up the ship, the particles that make up Poe. And he sends his feelings outward, across those particles, or through them, or however it's supposed to work. He doesn't know; he's not a Jedi; he's just fumbling in the dark, making this up as he goes.
Feelings of compassion, of remorse, of love.
I'm sorry. I love you. Over and over, Finn broadcasts the words to Poe, for what feels like hours.
This time, it really is hours.
* * * *
Rey, Finn thinks, not wanting to disturb her but needing to know, where are we?
She turns her face slightly, almost as if she heard. But then, before she can open her eyes - and a part of him is glad, because he truly did not want to interrupt her tranquility - Finn is slammed back into his immediate surroundings by BB-8's excited beeping.
Startled and disoriented, Finn looks up.
Poe is standing over them. He looks - well, like he's been trying to sleep in the cockpit of his X-wing for the past several hours, which is to say completely disheveled. His shirt is still buttoned wrong, and his hair is an utter disaster. He's also pale, with dark circles under his eyes, and visibly shaking. Finn starts to get up, to steady him, to take him in his arms, or something, but Poe waves him back down.
"No, it's better if I--" With a distinct lack of grace, he drops to the floor beside Finn. BB-8 makes a small, concerned sound, but Poe waves him away too. "I'm okay. I just--" He raises his head, gives Finn a look like a jab to the solar plexus. "I wish you hadn't told me, is all. I wish I didn't know. Not that you have powers, that I..."
"I hate that I hurt you," says Finn. "I hate that I even can hurt you."
Poe is slow in responding. He takes his time sliding his knees up to his chest, wrapping his arms loosely around them, and studying the toes of his boots. At length he says quietly. "Anyone can hurt anyone. That's just a fact. And you didn't, really. What you did, it just reminded me of what he did. Sometimes I convince myself I'm fine, I'm over it. Other times, I can still feel him in my head. I know he isn't really there, but I can still feel... I guess it's like a phantom pain. I don't like people in my head."
"I wasn't actually in your head," Finn says, wanting to touch him, but not sure what would happen if he did. "I didn't see anything, or touch anything."
"I know. Like I said, it just triggered a memory. And then, of course, I couldn't help thinking about how easily it happened: Kylo Ren just taking the information he wanted from me, you and that stupid fry. Maybe I'm weak. Some people are strong with the Force; maybe I'm just weak."
"You're not weak," Finn says adamantly, and BB-8 offers a sharp click of agreement. "Look, Kylo Ren is really powerful. Rey was only able to stand against him because she had Jedi training already. And, also, she's Rey."
"What about tonight?"
"Tonight … I don't know." Momentarily at a loss, Finn looks up at the ceiling. And, incredibly, an idea occurs to him. "Maybe - and I don't know if this is right or not - but maybe it's because we're really close. We're attuned to each other, or something. Our minds are more open. I don't know. It's possible, though; I mean, I guessed where you'd be and I was right. Anyway, you're not weak. You're the best pilot in the whole Resistance."
Poe nods tiredly. Then he turns his head and gives Finn a brief, humorless smile. "I came here because I always feel in control when I'm in a cockpit."
"That makes sense."
"I'm not angry, or hurt, really. I'm just a little…"
Broken, BB-8 had said.
"Fractured?" Finn offers. It sounds less permanent.
Poe huffs out a sound that isn't quite a laugh. "Yeah, fractured. That's a good word. Listen, I want you to do me a favor."
"If it happens again, don't tell me. Okay? I want you to promise."
"I promise," Finn says. "But it's not going to happen again."
"How do you know?"
He doesn't, of course, but he says resolutely, "I'm going to send a message to Rey, ask her to ask Luke Skywalker for advice." That sounds slightly crazy, but hey, it's a plan, right? "If anyone knows what to do, it's him."
"You should talk to the general," says Poe. "She's Luke Skywalker's sister, and she has powers, even if she doesn't like to use them."
"Okay." Finn nods. "Yeah, that's a good idea too. I will. Don't worry: I'm not going to turn to the Dark Side."
He said it lightly, almost jokingly, but Poe's head jerks up and he gives Finn a look of stunned dismay. "Were you really worried about that?"
"No! Oh, no, no." What happens next is pure instinct: Finn turns and grips Poe's biceps, pulling him closer so that they're almost forehead to forehead. "No," he says again to that ashen face. "No, I swear. Pretty much the only thing I've been worried about all night is you."
And Poe just.
Doesn't collapse in Finn's arms exactly, but he makes a small sound, almost a groan, and his body sags.
And Finn just.
Wraps his arms around him and holds him. And maybe rocks him a little, stroking his hair where it curls over the nape of his neck. Finn's own fatigue is finally catching up with him; keeping his eyes open is a struggle, and after a minute or two, he just gives up and lets them close. He's going to want to sleep for approximately a week and a half when they're finally sorted out (and he thinks maybe they're close), but he thinks he could probably keep holding Poe like this for a little while longer. Behind him, he hears BB-8 rolling away, thoughtfully giving them some privacy. Hopefully the droid will let them know if anyone approaches.
"All over a stupid fry," Poe mutters when they're alone.
Finn kisses his temple. Smiles, despite everything.
"I never asked you," Poe continues, his voice slightly muffled by Finn's shirt, "and I feel bad about it - but how do you feel about all this? It must be so weird."
"It's weird," Finn admits. "And I don't know how I feel. This is something I never even fantasized about. I don't think I'm exactly Jedi material."
"Why not? You'd be a great Jedi. I'd vote for you."
"That's not how it works. Anyway, traditionally - from what I read - I don't think they're supposed to, uh, form strong emotional attachments."
"Hmm, that's a nice way of describing what we do. Maybe you could be a new kind of Jedi."
"I don't know. It's - it's too much right now. It just happened too quickly. I don't even know what I can do with the Force, other than steal jibo fries and maybe figure out where you are when you want to avoid people. For once in my life, I want to take the time to really think about things, before I do anything. Okay?"
"Yeah, of course. I understand," says Poe. "But talk to the general. Maybe she can teach you to control your powers, even if you don't want anything else."
They're quiet after that. In the darkness and stillness, Finn's mind starts to wander again. He doesn't go far; he wants to try to see the island again, but Poe's warm body wrapped around his keeps him tethered to this one small corner of the Galaxy. And that's all right. In fact, it may be what he needs; because he can see now that they're not insulated against anything. They're not separate or special.
Poe murmurs something.
"I said--" and Finn can almost hear the grin in his voice "--you really don't know what a miracle you are."
It's a statement of fact, and Finn doesn't know how to respond.
"Also - I do too."
"What--? Oh. Oh." For a second, panic flashes through him. "You actually heard that. I wasn't trying to be in your head, I swear. I was just--"
"I know," Poe reassures him, lifting his face from Finn's shirt, touching two fingers to Finn's lips and tracing his frown. He looks amused. "You weren't. I just…" He shrugs. "Felt it, I guess."
Finn exhales in relief. "Oh," he says, rather lightheaded. "Good."
"'Good'?" Poe echoes, cocking his eyebrows.
In response, Finn kisses his fingertips. Then he brushes past them and kisses Poe's annoying, perfect mouth. And he thinks: Okay, sure, they're no less vulnerable or full of fractures than anyone else in this outfit (which is home, incidentally). Maybe they've even got a few more than they deserve. And occasionally they're going to fumble and get cut on each other's jagged edges. They just are, because they're human and a little bit stupid sometimes. But they're lucky too, and smart enough to know it. Barely smart enough, it often seems, but. They found each other.
Against all odds.