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Morale Surveys

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“No,” Jessika Pava said. “Guys, just-- no.”

“It’s hilarious,” Iolo Arana said.

Jessika covered her face with her hands. “Arana, you’re a dick.”

“You normally have the best sense of humor about this stuff,” Bastian said, looking over her shoulder at the holoscreen.

On the screen, which was showing the current ongoing bulletins for the base, was a little blinking notice. It was a survey, which was a pretty routine thing to have on the bulletins-- the morale department conducted them all the time.

This one was actually not all that far outside the bounds of what the surveys were usually like. The Resistance was much less formal than the New Republican Fleet had been. This survey was entitled, “What Do You Whack It To?” Which was bad enough, but someone had gone through and put in holopics to illustrate most of the multiple-choice options.

The way the surveys worked, they were write-in, but once more than a couple people had written in the same choice, it became a multiple choice option. This survey had been running long enough and had been popular enough that there were nearly a hundred choices that had gotten the multiple-choice-option treatment, and someone had taken it upon themselves to add images.

And one of the choices was illustrated with a glorious holopic of Commander Dameron, who for some reason was stepping out from under a cascade of water, wearing a drenched white t-shirt and looking completely debauched. Jessika vaguely remembered ducking under that fountain herself, there had been some training exercise on an unendurably hot day, and it really wasn’t fair. Dameron kept finding himself in front of ‘corders at opportune moments. She knew he didn’t do it on purpose.

“C’mon,” Arana said. “Vote. And be honest.”

“It’s so mean to do this shit to Poe,” Jessika said. “You guys, you didn’t see his face. The stupid holovid-- he thought we were fucking with him.”

“He has to know,” Arana said. “I flirt with him constantly .”

“He thinks you’re kidding!” Jess said. “I told him, last week , about that stupid holovid, I told him I was dead fucking serious, and he fucking laughed .”

“He knows he’s pretty,” Arana said. “Come on! He absolutely knows!”

“He knows,” Jess said, “but he doesn’t know know.”

“Vote,” Arana said. “And I’m watching you. If you pick the General, I’ll know you’re lying.”

Jessika chewed on her lip. “I’ve definitely masturbated thinking of the General,” she said. “In my formative years before I knew her personally, I absolutely had a holopic of Princess Leia on my bedroom wall and I definitely, definitely had a recurring fantasy where she showed up and told me I was her only hope.”

“Yeah we all had that,” Arana said. “Was it the pic of her in the white dress with the loopy puffs on the side of her head? Because we all had that one, and you could totally tell she wasn’t wearing anything up top under that dress.”

Jess let her lip slide out from between her teeth. “Nnn-hnn,” she agreed faintly. Those had really been some formative years. She’d very vividly imagined what the Princess might have been wearing under the lower half of that dress, and it wasn’t the sensible leggings she now knew the General always favored with skirted outfits.

“But c’mon, Organa’s nipples when she was nineteen vs. Dameron’s literal everything every day now ?” Arana pressed his arm against her arm. “Vote! And note that the question is in present tense! Come on, what are you going to spank it to tonight?”

“You’re reprehensible ,” Jess said, but, fuck . It was a thing now, ever since Prindel flipped out on everybody, that you didn’t lie in the surveys. And she absolutely had a recurring fantasy where that time last week when Poe had brought her a bottle of liquor as a thank-you for not saying anything to Finn about BB-8’s theory that he and Poe needed to bang-- well, in her fantasy, he came inside to thank her, and brought Finn along, so-- “Hey, why isn’t Finn an option on here?”

“He is,” Arana said. There were, to be fair, nearly a hundred choices, and they loaded randomly, and the holopic of Finn had wound up in the lower left corner so she hadn’t seen it. Also it wasn’t nearly as captivating as the one of Dameron. Finn was wearing Poe’s old jacket, and was grinning sweetly, and he looked cute but not fuckable . “Wait, really? You’re into him?”

“Oh come on,” Jess said. “He’s hot as fuck.”

“He’s like, a fetus,” Arana said, scrunching up his nose. “He’s too young for me.”

“He’s my age ,” Jess said, annoyed. “He’s like, exactly my age.”

Arana looked her up and down frankly. “No way,” he said. “I thought you were like thirty.”

“Fuck you,” Jess said, “I’m twenty-three.”

“You know I can’t tell with humans,” Arana said. “Wait, Finn is twenty-three? I have to re-evaluate some of my life choices. He’s totally in my range, I’d been assuming he wasn’t!”

Jess hovered her finger over Finn as a choice, but it didn’t feel honest. He was a pretty new addition to the rotation and he was still only supporting cast. Any more successful raids and he’d move up to a starring role, she was pretty sure, but-- “Shit,” she said, and picked Poe, because he was a standby and being honest on those surveys was a thing now, ever since The Incident With The Uniform Survey where they’d almost all ended up with fake fur crotch panels.

The survey blinked, thanked her, and then displayed the current standings. “Hell yes,” Arana said.

Fuck ,” Jess said in dismay. Poe was leading, unambiguously. There were six hundred votes cast and he had at least a hundred and fifty of them, which was a hundred more than the next contender, a popular holovid star. “Oh, fuck. He’s going to be so mad.”

 

about a month later

 

“What’s a survey?” Rey asked, looking up from the datapad.

“Oh,” Poe said, “the morale department does those. It’s just-- you ask a question, and everyone answers anonymously, so they can just kind of, you know. Get an idea of the prevailing opinions on stuff.”

Rey frowned, and poked at it. “Favorite Thing The Mess Hall Serves,” she said.

“Yeah,” Poe said. “That kind of thing.” He leaned in to look over her shoulder. “Some of ‘em-- yeah, they start off as a write-in but once more than a couple people have written in the same thing, it becomes a multiple choice. Like oh yeah, that one,” he gestured. “The one about new uniform suggestions, that one’s really funny because enough people wrote in merkins that it became a choice and then everyone after just voted for merkins.”

“What’s a merkin?” Rey asked, and looked up at him with that sweet innocent young face, and Poe backpedaled hastily.

“Uh,” he said, “they’re um, exotic dancers sometimes wear them. Um. It’s just-- they’re not something you’d really want in a uniform.” He looked for another funny survey to pick as a distraction because he really didn’t know her background with exotic dancers and didn’t want to delve into it.

“What Do You Whack It To,” Rey read, and before he could stop her, she had selected it.

“Oh,” Poe said, “oh my.” It was clearly a popular survey. There were-- there had to be three dozen choices, completely filling the datapad’s small screen. And someone had taken the trouble of putting holopics next to most of them. “Oh wow.”

“They mean masturbate,” Rey said, eyebrows going up. “Really? People ask each other that kind of question?”

“Apparently,” Poe said, and then he noticed that Finn was a choice. It was a nice holopic of Finn, in the leather jacket, smiling like the sun first breaking the horizon. “Oh shit.”

Rey laughed delightedly. “Finn,” she said. “Does he know?”

Finn was off at a meeting. He probably did not know. Poe bit his lip, worrying at it. Well, it wasn’t wrong to have him on there, among all the holo stars and the like; he really was attractive, and surely people admired him for his rapid rise to command. “I guess it’s meant kindly,” Poe said. “I mean. I guess it would be flattering, right?”

“There are so many choices they’re not even all loaded on the screen,” Rey said. “Hang on. What is this one?”

“That’s a Shozer holovid star,” Poe said, “but that’s not a very flattering holopic.” He tilted his head. “Maybe it’s flattering if you’re a Shozer.”

“Why is Finn the only person who actually lives on the base?” Rey asked, and paged to the next screen. “Oh. I guess the General lives on base too.”

“She’s like, a legend though,” Poe said. He sighed. “It’s flattering. People think he’s attractive. He’s kind of a hero, it makes sense that people would look up to him, even if it’s like that.”

Rey grinned up at him. “I might go back and vote for him,” she said, “but I feel like that might be cheating.”

“It might,” Poe admitted. “Well-- I mean.” How did you finish that sentence?

“This is ridiculous,” Rey said, “why would someone put both a T-70 and a T-85 X-Wing on here? Who has sexual thoughts about a machine?”

“Uhhh,” Poe said, nonchalant, “well, apparently enough people that there are two separate categories.”

“Is there a way to see what’s winning?” Rey asked.

“If you vote, then it shows you the results,” Poe said.

Rey laughed, then pulled the datapad closer to her chest and turned so he couldn’t see it. “I’m going to vote, then,” she said. “No peeking.”

“Fine,” Poe said, and sat down in the other chair.

She poked at the screen, clearly going through the rest of the choices. She played up her reactions to them, looking intrigued or thoughtful or amused, and finally made a decisive gesture and, clearly, picked one. Then she turned the screen back so he could see it, and he leaned in to see the results as they blinked up onto the screen.

“Why,” Rey said into the stunned silence, “it’s you!”

It was a ridiculous holopic of Poe, drenched to the skin, wet t-shirt clinging, pushing his wet hair back out of his face with one hand. Commander Poe Dameron, 32% of all votes cast, 232 of over 700 votes , it was captioned. Someone had annotated it, “A commanding lead!” and a number of anonymous users had given this comment the thumbs-up symbol.

“What are we looking at?” Finn asked, coming into the room and startling Poe. “A-- hey, that’s a nice pic of you, Poe.”

“It’s a survey result,” Rey said, smiling sweetly.

“What’s the survey?” Finn asked.

“What Do You Whack It To,” Rey said, and Poe put both hands over his face.

“Wha-hey,” Finn said, shedding his jacket and leaning over the back of the chair. “Whack it. You mean, like, jerk off?” And he made the gesture , which for some reason Poe hadn’t expected and it was-- awkward-hot, which was kind of Poe’s secret weak spot. He covered his face a little more thoroughly and sank further down in his chair, then peered through his fingers to watch the conversation. His discipline was kind of shit, lately.

“Yes,” Rey said. “Apparently a startling number of the members of the Resistance jerk off thinking about Poe.”

“Thirty-two percent isn’t that much,” Finn said, eyeing Poe; he’d caught on that Poe was a little, perhaps, dismayed.

Poe wasn’t really sure what he felt.

“Well,” Rey said, “the votes were split over like a hundred choices, the second-place finisher had sixty votes, and the third place finisher had fifty, so it’s a pretty… commanding lead.”

“Hey,” Finn said, “I’m in third place!” And he turned a bright, happy grin on Poe, who seriously considered hiding under the desk until everyone stopped talking about this.

 

But it was not to be.

Poe didn’t even hear what Arana said, he just saw Pava’s eyes go wide as she saw him. “Fuck,” she said, and then pretended to pass out, rolling her eyes back in her head and sliding under the table.

Poe sighed, and sat down on the bench next to her, putting his datapad down before tipping his head to look under the table. “Get out of there,” he said, “before Arana makes this into a crude joke.”

“Too late,” Arana said, “it’s already in my spank bank.”

Fuck ,” Pava said, “I’m staying under here.”

Poe rolled his eyes, noticing that the others-- he was here for a meeting, it was half a dozen of his most senior pilots-- had all kind of gone still, and even Arana was kind of grimacing a little, as if he were actually capable of feeling chagrin. Oh, yeah. That’s what this was about.

“I know,” he said. “I already know about it.”

“About what,” Pava asked cautiously, poking her head out from under the table.

“The damn survey,” Poe said.

Pava groaned, and crawled out from under the table. “Sorry, boss,” she said.

“I figured you guys started it somehow,” Poe said, “but it’s not like I can yell at anybody.”

Everyone was shaking their heads. “We didn’t start it,” Snap said. “You think we have that kind of clout? No way.”

“You’re genuinely the hottest thing on this base,” Karé said.

“I figure me winning,” and Poe gestured to separate ‘winning’ out in finger-quotes, “that survey is on about the same level as the merkins in the uniform survey.”

Everyone was shaking their heads again in sort of eerie unison. “No way,” Arana said. “After we got in so much shit over that survey? Prindel went around and put the Fear into us. He was going to really make us wear merkins. No way would we abuse the sanctity of the morale surveys again.”

“Okay,” Poe said, “ you I could buy really beating it thinking of me, because you joke about it fucking constantly , but there’s no way over thirty percent of this base actually thinks of me when they rub one out.”

Poe was ready for everyone to laugh. Nobody laughed. Everyone looked shifty. “Come on,” he said after a moment’s awkward pause, disbelieving.

“Ha,” Pava said, desperate and completely unconvincing. Well, fuck. She’d joked about it before, but he hadn’t figured she meant it. “Ha ha.” She covered her face with her hands.

“Dameron,” Karé said, “I’ve actually fucked you , you can’t seriously believe you didn’t make the highlight reel.”

“That was like ten years ago ,” Poe said, throwing his hands in the air.

“Highlight reel,” Karé said, rolling her eyes.

“Snap,” Poe said, turning to the man next to her in desperation, “you’re not even-- you don’t even swing this way, surely you haven’t--”

“I’m not blind ,” Snap said, holding his hands out as if to fend Poe off. “And don’t ask! You’re the one making it weird if you ask directly!”

“Please do not ask me,” Bastian said. He was sitting next to Snap, so Poe had turned to look at him. “Please.” He had his hands over his eyes. “Please do not ask me this.”

“Come on,” Poe said. “Come on! There has got to be someone in this room who has never once masturbated thinking of me.”

“I have the best timing ,” General Organa said brightly, from the doorway. “Is this about that survey?”

Poe gave her a plaintive look. She grinned at him. “Oh, sweetheart,” she said. “Come on. Did you notice I was on there twice?”

Poe brightened up a little bit. “Really?”

“I was on there as General Organa and as Princess Leia,” she said. “And they used that fucking holopic of me at nineteen in that white dress. Of course I didn’t have a fucking bra, I was a fucking refugee. You can’t give me tragic eyes like that when you were only on the survey once. Suck it up, buttercup.”

“Oh,” Poe said, struck suddenly by the visceral bone-deep memory of that particular holopic, of that white dress, of that very, very young princess with the gleaming coils of hair. “Oh, that holopic.”

Everyone was staring at him. He blinked, then recoiled in horror. “No! No, I never-- no! Guys! Ew! No! She’s like-- you’re like my mother , General! No, not even that pic, not even once!”

“I know I have a reputation for always knowing when people are telling the truth,” the General said calmly, “but I’ll have you all know that I am very carefully refraining from using it at this particular moment, because I have no desire to really consider this question too carefully.”

“I swear I would never lie to you,” Poe said, utterly sincere.

“Mm,” Organa said, giving him a skeptical look. She came into the room, though, and sat down at the table, setting down her holopad and fiddling with it.

“At least now there’s one person in this room who I know hasn’t gotten off thinking of me,” Poe said.

Organa paused, looked at him sidelong, raised both eyebrows as far as they could go, then looked back down at her holopad, keeping her mouth closed and not making any move or sign with her head.

“Right?” Poe said, unnerved.

“Don’t make it weird,” Pava said. “Don’t. You’re making it weird.”

“Fuck,” Poe said, and put his head down on the table.

“To be fair,” Organa said, after a moment, “you look like your mother, and she was a stone fox.”

“That’s even woooooorrse ,” Poe moaned.

“Don’t make those noises, dear,” Organa said. “They certainly don’t help.”

“When he goes real serious and says things like I swear I would never lie to you , with full burning intensity, it doesn’t help either,” Arana pointed out.

“True,” Organa said. “True.” She bit her lip. “He says things like that to me a lot.”

“Fuck,” Poe said.

“I don’t think less of you for it, sweetheart,” Organa said, patting his shoulder. “Now sit up, I have a briefing to conduct.”

“Yes ma’am,” he said.

 

*******
Edited to add: I am a big enough person to link to the photo that inspired the description of the holo they used of Poe. My favorite thing about Oscar Isaac's photoshoots is that his Trademark Sexy Face is one in which he mostly looks sort of confused and annoyed. The promo shots of Poe In Resistance Jumpsuit In Front Of X-Wing are notable to me mostly because he looks like he's fighting a migraine. I love it. Here is the entire photoset, but I loved this one especially because he's so WTF.