“Hey, Antilles!” Commander Poe Dameron yelled up at her. “Are you going to hang around up there all day?”
Dara startled, and she nearly dropped a wrench on Poe’s head. She was hanging upside down, harnessed to the bottom of the wings on Poe’s precious X-Wing, Black One, doing some technical maintenance. The fact that he allowed the technician to even touch Black One, let alone do any sort of work on it, was a testament of just how talented she was, and how much he trusted her. He didn’t even flinch at the wrench flying past his head. His dark eyes glinted, teasing, as he gazed up at her. Her warm honey colored hair dangled down in a braid, her green eyes looked huge thanks to the magnification goggles she was wearing to deal with the delicate wiring she was servicing. She reached a hand to scratch her nose on her pale and lightly freckled face leaving a grease stain across it and her cheek. Her expression going from startled to smiling.
“Well, can you really blame me?” Dara replied as she crossed her otherwise dangling legs, her tone smooth, yet teasing. “I mean, who wouldn’t want to be caught under a piece of perfection like this? Really, I could get off from the s-foils alone.” She ran her not greasy hand along the bottom of the wing in a caress, not breaking eye contact with Poe.
Poe choked on nothing in reply, and he ran a suddenly shaky hand through his dark curly hair. His cheeks flushed. Dara snorted.
“Why do you ask, Dameron?” She laughed. It had been a while since she’s teased her friend speechless, and reveled s bit in her small victory.
Poe stared at her in disbelief for a full 30 seconds before he answered. “Uh, no reason, really...just...your datapad...the alarm has been going off for the last 45 minutes.” Poe said shaking his head to clear his thoughts. “You left it over on my desk. It’s been driving BB-8 absolutely nuts.”
“WHAT? SHIT, POE!!” She screeched at him. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner? What time is it?”
“About 14:45. What’s going on, Dara? You have a hot date?”
Dara unhooked the lower half of her harness and her legs swung down quickly. Then she pulled the upper hook of her harness, and she dropped to the ground, nearly flying into Poe. This time he jumped out of the way. Once Dara had her footing she hurried towards the communal refresher for the pilots. She was in there for all of 10 seconds when she came running back out again, freaking out like she’d just been scared half to death.
“BAH!!” She yelled.
This also caused Poe to jump.
“Dara, are you okay?” he asked rushing up to her.
“NAKED!! SNAP!! SNAP WAS NAKED!!”
“You do realize you ran into a communal refresher…” He placed his hand on her shoulder and tried his hardest not to laugh at her.
“BUT HE WASN’T IN ONE OF THE STALLS!!”
“You act like you’ve never seen a naked man before.”
Dara stopped at that, looked Poe dead in the eyes, and snorted. “We both know that’s not the case.”
Poe nodded, once again trying to stifle his laughter.
“I thought the technicians had a communal refresher in their barracks.”
“So, I’ve never heard you freaking out about naked technicians. And I would know if you had...I mean I’m pretty sure the whole base knows you’ve now seen Snap naked.”
“We don’t roam around outside the stalls while we’re naked.”
“That’s because most of the techs don’t look like you.”
Dara blushed a little.
“Hey, you’re a Commander. You should command your squadron to stay in their shower stalls until they’re not naked.”
Poe outright laughed at that.
“So what is it about seeing Snap, au natural, that has you all up in arms?”
“And if it were, oh, I don’t know...me?”
“I’d be flustered for a whole different reason.”
“Would you now?” Poe raised his eyebrows suggestively.
Dara groaned, and facepalmed. Poe laughed again. He patted her shoulder and turned away from her.
“Well, as much as I would love to continue this conversation, I have a briefing in Command at 1500. Come on, BB-8!”
Poe started towards the buildings where Command was located on the Resistance Base. BB-8 rolled over from Poe’s locker/desk area. He stopped to beep a suggestion that Dara take care of her datapad alarm, and possibly get a droid to help her keep track of her stuff.
“Not gonna happen BB-8. I’d just have to fix that all the time, too.” She replied as she rushed over to Poe’s desk to get her datapad.
She picked it up, turned on the screen, and she turned off the alarm. Maybe she would invest in a new clip and spring so she would be able to attach the datapad to her belt instead. As she thought that over she ran to catch up with Poe. When she fell into step beside him she had her messages from the day up, groaning at the long list of attachments that she knew she would be expected to read, and quickly...but it was a good thing to keep learning, keep expanding her abilities. It’s how she became the best technician in the Resistance.
When Poe realized she had caught up with him he raised an eyebrow in surprise.
“Where do you think you’re going?” he asked, not that he was going to complain. Under other circumstances he would be tempted to hold her hand...if he could get one off of her datapad. As it was he did have to grab onto her shoulders and guide her around spacecrafts, speeders, crates, doors, columns, Resistance members, and droids. He couldn’t pass up the chance to tease her once again. “You know, if you looked away from the datapad to do something other than work, I wouldn’t have to do this.”
“Yeah, but you like making sure I don’t run into things.” Dara said back. She glanced at him flashing a sweet smile.
“Okay, maybe a little...still doesn’t tell me why you came to walk with me.”
“Command briefing. I’m going, too. Which is why I set my alarm for an hour ago, so I could degrease myself properly. Oh, well!”
“You what? Really? They want a technician in on this?”
“Not just any technician...Me.” She fully grinned at him, now, and brandished her datapad, showing the request that she attend. “See!”
“Huh...maybe they want a tech on a troops transport or something.”
“I guess we’ll have to wait and see.”
There was something in her voice that told Poe she knew what was going on, but she wasn’t going to tell him. She probably wanted it to be a surprise. The idea of Dara going on a mission both made Poe happy, and it made him squirm a bit. He knew she had been wanting to do more for the Resistance, action wise, but he had made sure to tell her how extremely valuable she here on base. How things wouldn’t run anywhere near as smoothly as they currently did if she were out in battle. Plus, barring an attack on the base itself...or her falling down (she had a tendency of being clumsy, the fact that she didn’t hurt herself getting down from his X-wing was kind of huge)...he didn’t have to worry about her getting hurt, cause that...that would kill him. He never told her that part.
Poe tried his best to smile encouragingly.
“Well, then we better get to Command to see what’s going on.”
Now that he thought about it she had been training with Finn a bit lately. Since recuperating from the grave injuries he sustained at the hands and lightsaber of Kylo Ren, Finn had accepted the responsibility of being a combat instructor. It made sense to everyone in Command, because who better to train Resistance soldiers how to fight against the First Order than their resident defected Stormtrooper. And it Poe was pretty sure he’d seen Dara training with Finn more than joining one of his beginners classes. When he caught them at it they were sparring rather heatedly, one on one.
Poe felt his heart drop. Maybe they needed her out in the field to repair battle droids, not actually on the front lines. The General wouldn’t be crazy enough to send her somewhere dangerous, would she? Then Poe internally kicked himself. He didn’t know that they were sending her anywhere. Maybe they were getting new starships for their fleet, that would require both of them to be present. He begged the Force and whatever other powers might be out there that that was the case. That. And that Finn was teaching Dara basic self defense, not hand to hand combat.
Poe’s grip on Dara’s shoulders tightened slightly as they entered the doorway to the stairs that led to the underground Command Center. He told himself it was simply because he didn’t want his dear friend to fall down the stairs since she still had her nose buried in her data pad. He knew he wasn’t being honest with himself. He jumped when Dara gasped at something on her data pad. She stopped walking so abruptly that Poe nearly plowed her over at the bottom of the stairs.
“What?” He asked as his grip on her shoulders tightened to painful, and she cried out an “Easy there!” “What happened?”
“Oh...just, uh...good news...but I’ll tell you about it after the briefing, okay?”
She was clearly dodging telling Poe something. He wasn’t sure what it was, but it was definitely something. Before he could call her on it, she was off like a shot down the hall and through the doors to Command. She had even dropped the datapad enough to watch where she was going. BB-8 beeped out it’s surprise at Dara’s sudden rushing off and paying attention to where she was going.
“Yeah, Buddy, I don’t know what that was about either.”
When Poe and BB-8 arrived in Command there was a surprisingly small amount of people present, even with 5 minutes to spare before the Brief was scheduled to begin. Dara was conversing animatedly with General Leia Organa, Major Brance, and Admiral Ackbar. She had moved her goggles up to her forehead, and her datapad was tucked under her arm. He couldn’t make out what they were saying, but Dara appeared to be glowing and bouncing with excitement. When Leia pointed to an open door leading out of the main room of the Command Center, Dara and the others nodded and walk towards the room.
As she walked, Dara started to fiddle with the clasps of her harness. She proceeded to walk into one of the Holodisplay tables, bashed her thigh, and sent her datapad flying through the holoprojection. She stepped back, rubbing her thigh and apologizing to the Holo Technician, and ran into Admiral Ackbar. That caused the Mon Calamari to stumble back into Major Brance, who luckily caught the Admiral before he could fall. Dara sighed in relief, and continued to apologize to everyone that would listen, especially when another Holo Tech handed her datapad back while rubbing his shoulder.
Poe heard a chuckle behind him and turned to see Finn walking towards him.
“I think we’re lucky she’s not Force Sensitive like Rey is.” Finn laughed. “I mean, just imagine what she would do with a lightsaber in her hands.”
“She’d probably be perfect, but then send random objects flying when she’s just sitting there.” Poe joked back, but he hand a very fond, far off look on his face while he watched Dara as she continued on with her apologizing and explaining what had happened to a very confused Admiral Ackbar.
Finn caught the look on Poe’s face, and his own smile fell a fraction. Since waking up from his coma to find Rey gone, Finn practically glued himself to Poe. From there it was either imprint like a baby duck or fall for him...and Finn couldn’t help but to fall. Even when he saw the way Poe looked at Dara, Finn just quietly wished he would receive looks like that. And Finn adored Dara. She’d been a constant friend, she’d taught him how to fix many things around base, and she’d been a good ear when he had questions about normal life in general or wanted to talk about Poe. And she even encouraged him to go for it with Poe, tell the guy how he felt. Finn just chuckled. He figured it was Poe’s business to tell her why Poe wouldn’t be interested in him.
“Commander, Captain.” The General greeted them as she walked past them towards her office. “We’ll be meeting in Conference Room A, if you’ll please head in that direction. I will be along in a minute.”
They nodded, and went to join Dara, Ackbar, and Brance in the conference room. Admiral Ackbar still had a ruffled, confused look on his face. Dara’s face was bright red, and she was hiding behind her datapad, clearly embarrassed. Major Brance looked like he was struggling not to burst out laughing. Poe took the open chair on Dara’s left, Finn, the one on the right. Dara lowered the datapad slightly once she felt she had the protection of her friends.
“You think you’re ready for this?” Finn asked her quietly, with a warm smile.
“I...as ready as I’m going to be, I guess.” Dara answered.
“Ready for what?” Poe asked.
“OH, um, I-” Dara started.
“Wait, you haven’t told Poe?” Finn muttered indignantly.
“No, I couldn’t. It was classified.”
“But...I have one of the highest security clearances.” Poe huffed, mildly annoyed.
“You didn’t have clearance for this, Commander.” Admiral Ackbar cut in. “Until now, that is. We feel it is time to bring you into this as the mission is about to move forward from the planning and preparation phase into the action phase. We will wait for the General to join us before any more information is discussed.”
Dara and Poe hunched their shoulders, and she lifted her datapad to block her face again. It really felt like they were teenagers scolded by a firm tempered teacher. Finn took the small reprimand in easy stride. Dara chalked it up to his experience with the First Order. She caught Finn’s eye, then nodded determinedly. She lowered her datapad and sat up a little straighter. Then she slipped her hand into his and squeezed.
Poe’s eyes widened. He didn’t know what to do with that. He was almost certain nothing was going on between Dara and Finn, but he was definitely thrown off by her taking his hand. Poe shifted uncomfortably for a minute, not liking where his brain was going with the thoughts of his friends together. They were both wonderful, and, if Poe actually thought about it, they would be great together. But Dara had to be 10 years older than Finn. Poe strained his thoughts to try to remember if Dara ever dated anyone younger than her before. Or if she picked up that young of anyone during one of their bar trolling nights. Poe was lost in his spiraling thoughts when Dara then set down her datapad on the table in front of her. Poe was brought out of his stupor when he felt her now free hand run down his arm. Her fingers entwined with his, and she squeezed his hand like she had Finn’s.
She had seen him shifting uncomfortably, and, not knowing what Poe might be nervous about, did was she always did. She took his hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. Then she caught his eye. She raised her eyebrow, silently asking if everything was okay. His cheeks colored slightly, like he was embarrassed at being caught, but he nodded. Then he relaxed a little, and squeezed her hand back.
The three sat there, with hands held comfortably, for the few minutes before Leia walked in. As soon as the General walked in that changed. Finn immediately dropped Dara’s hand and sat up even straighter as a sign of respect to his superior officer. Both Dara and Poe followed suit in sitting up, but Poe pulled her hand down to his lap. He didn’t want to give up the contact. And for some reason she didn’t pull her hand away. Instead she pulled her datapad towards herself, and used one hand to engage it.
“Good afternoon, Gentlemen, and Dara.” The General greeted them as she took her seat at the small table. They all murmured a ‘General’ in return. “As most of you know, we’ve been working towards a goal of gaining incalculable intelligence against the First Order. After months of preparation we are ready to move forward. If this mission is successful, I am almost certain that it will lead to the end of the First Order.” Poe being the only newcomer to the group gasped. Dara squeezed his hand again. “I know that up until this point you have not been involved in this Commander, so I will turn this over to Admiral Ackbar and Major Brance to explain the situation further.”
“As you know, Commander, our intelligence throughout the course of this war has been lucky coincidences and last minute or too late discoveries.” Major Brance started. “The most ideal situation would be for us to place a number of undercover agents in strategic placements among the First Order Elite.”
“It’s been attempted in the past, though, with disastrous results.” Poe said when Brance stopped talking.
“We currently have a unique situation that was not available in our previous attempts.” Admiral Ackbar continued with the explanation. “Firstly, we have Captain Storm, here, whom, as you know, has firsthand knowledge of the much of the inner workings of many of the facets of the First Order.”
“Yeah, but you’re not sending Finn back into the rancor’s den.”
“Of course not, but he has been instrumental in choosing and preparing the proper candidate. He helped us choose a more fail proof way of infiltrating the First Order with drawing the least amount of attention to the fact that our agent is a new comer.”
“You see, one of the things I remember is that the Order is constantly bringing in new, contracted technicians.” Finn broke in excitedly.
“Which is where Technical Officer Antilles comes into the equation. With the Captain’s inside knowledge, we decided to approach Officer Antilles above all our other possible candidates because, not only does she have the highest degree of technical knowledge of our entire technical staff, she has also received extensive intelligence and espionage training from her mother. Also, her face is relatively unfamiliar to those outside the base as she is currently a grounded technician.”
“Wha...no, no, I...You can’t send Dara.” Poe felt like the floor had fallen out from underneath him.
More of the Brief.
Then Poe and Dara talk.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Dara pulled her hand away from Poe. She had an indignant look on her face as she glared at him.
“They can send me.” She struggled to keep her voice level. “They are sending me. I’ve been training for this for 5 months.”
Poe only gave her a look of disbelief in return. He blinked at her a few times, the turned back to the General and the table at large to argue.
“General Organa...I...You...just can’t let her go. I mean, she’s our best technician.” Poe tried to sound calm himself, but his voice was strained. He had not expected this. His Dara couldn’t be rushing into the pit of the beast. She couldn’t be...leaving him before he even had a chance to tell her how he felt.
“And if she is willing to make this sacrifice, Poe, so are we.” Leia said levelly, her tone boding no argument. “Admiral, will you please continue?”
“Captain Storm has been training and tutoring Officer Antilles in everything she needs to assimilate into the First Order as a Contracted Technician.” Admiral Ackbar started to explain again, ignoring the brief interruption. “He has also been instructing her in hand to hand combat if the need to defend herself arises. In the recent weeks Officer Antilles has completed a number of courses and tests in order to gain entrance into the exam required to obtain a commission with the First Order Technical Staff. Today she received confirmation of her entry to the exam, and the time and location where it is to take place.”
“There...is absolutely nobody else that could go in her place?” Poe asked, almost pleading for an ease to his inner turmoil.
“Poe!” there was a scolding tone in Finn’s voice.
“This far in, if we were to replace Officer Antilles now, we would be set back for months.” Major Brance took up the argument. He looked confused at Poe’s objection to this mission. “It takes an intensive knowledge of the computer systems, the structure of all their crafts, of every piece of equipment that might need to tinkered with. The fact that we had someone who could learn as much of the information as Dara has in this short of an amount of time is huge. To lose her involvement now would be catastrophic. That on top of the fact that she has already been granted entry to the exam means she’s irreplaceable for the mission.”
“Okay. What about Kylo Ren? How is she really supposed to hide herself from him? Unless one of my best friends has been lying to me for years, and she actually has Force powers I don’t know about.”
Poe couldn't help that he was extremely worried on that part. With what the Darksider had done to him? He still had nightmares of the torture. He couldn’t cope if something like that would happen to his Dara.
“It’s a valid concern, Poe.” Leia started. “But first of all, we don’t know where Dara will be stationed when she gains a position with the First Order. Secondly, we have it on decent authority that Kylo Ren is currently training, and not with any of the First Order Fleet. Lastly, I have been working with Dara myself on blocking attempts of Force mind invasion. You have my complete certainty that Dara is as prepared and protected as she ever will be for this task.”
Poe wanted to keep arguing, but the looks he was getting from around the table told him to stop. He wasn’t going to win this fight. Dara would be leaving…Poe sighed.
“So what do you need from me? Why are you bringing me into this now?” He definitely sounded defeated.
Major Brance placed a portable holoprojector on the table. It flashed to life as he started to explain. “Well, first, Dara will need a safe transport to the Bormea Sector, where she will take up temporary residence before the exam takes place. Once Dara has secured her commission and is able to start collecting the intelligence, we will need to set up a ‘supply run’ whose base purpose will be to pick up the information drop.”
Poe grimaced. Not only was he losing her, he had to take her into First Order Territory and leave her there, unprotected. He sighed.
“Information drop?” He asked.
“One of the reasons our past attempts at gathering internal intelligence have been such utter failures is that the transmissions have always been intercepted. So we have developed a plan to physically transport the information instead.”
“And I’m going to be the supply runner?”
“You’re our most daring, most trusted pilot, Poe.” Leia said.
Poe didn’t have to think about it. He would do it. He would do anything to help the Resistance rid the Galaxy of the First Order.
He would also do it because he needed to make sure Dara was still okay, and as long as the information drops kept coming he would know she was alright.
“Alright. I’m in. When do we start?”
“We need to secure a residence for Dara as well as funds that are compatible with the First Order and their territories. Once that is done, she will move out immediately.” Admiral Ackbar explained, but both Dara and Poe looked confused by this answer.
“It may take up to a week to secure everything necessary.” Leia explained. “But we are expecting it to be 3 days. Dara, Poe, we’ll expect you to be ready to depart as soon as you receive notice.”
“Yes, General.” They answered in unison.
The Brief lasted another 10 or 15 minutes, but Poe stopped listening. Normally he would have paid attention to every detail so he would know every aspect of the coming mission, what could go wrong, and how he could get out of the dangerous situations. This time he couldn’t get himself to concentrate. He sighed heavily when they were dismissed, and he rushed for the door before he could be stopped, BB-8 hot on his heels.
Dara watched him leave. She didn’t know whether she should be furious with his reaction to her mission, or upset because it appeared he didn’t believe she was capable of doing it. Sure she had a bit of a clumsy streak, but her mother had taught her well, as had Finn. She was certain she could enter the First Order, stay under the radar, and gather every piece of information that the Resistance could ever dream of.
Dara frowned at Finn, and he squeezed her shoulder reassuringly.
“You need to talk to him. I think it’s about time you guys had this talk.” was all Finn said before he left.
Dara looked confused, but she nodded and stood up to go after Poe. Leia stopped her first.
“Dara, one more thing. We do have a contact inside. I don’t know how much access you’ll have to him, but if you can find him he will help you.”
“Alright...do I get his name? Or will just have to figure it out on my own?” Dara replied a little snarky.
Leia actually laughed in response.
“Matt. His name is Matt, and you’ll have to mention the word ‘resistance’ in passing conversation to identify yourself to him. Something tells me you’ll know it’s him when you see him.”
Dara nodded again. “Thank you, General.”
Then she excused herself to rush after Poe. She knew she needed to get to the hangar fast so she would be able to catch him before he disappeared in Black One for hours to blow off steam, or avoid whoever he might be upset with so he wouldn’t blow up at them. It didn’t make sense to her that he was this upset over her getting a mission. She finally had her big chance to help out like both their parents had with the Rebellion, so why wasn’t he thrilled for her?
When Poe arrived back at Black One he groaned. Dara had left his baby’s s-foil open, but he knew he and BB-8 could finish the wiring and close up the pannell, no problem. He got BB-8 to work on the wiring while he started to remove the cables that had held Dara up under the Wing earlier. Part of Poe suddenly wanted to feel annoyed at that. She was always leaving her equipment everywhere. He wouldn’t have to worry about that when she was gone undercover. But then Poe felt terrible. He loved her stuff everywhere around his. He loved how she seemed to be everywhere in his life. He loved how comfortable they were together...He sighed...He was in love with her...and, damn, he had to tell her before she left. But right now he needed to get in the air to clear his head.
BB-8 beeped to Poe that he had finished the wiring and had closed the panel as he lowered himself to the ground.
“That's great, BB-8!” Poe pulled the cables down. “Let me get rid of theses, and then we’ll radio Command for clearance for a flight.”
Poe rushed to his locker/desk/office and deposited the cables on his desk next to Dara’s tool bag. He sighed. Then he rushed back to Black One. He climbed up into the cockpit and engaged the crane to load BB-8. He pulled on his helmet, and immediately commed Command, letting them know he was just going out for some in atmosphere rounds and maybe a touchdown near one of the lakes. He was cleared for flight right away, as he expected, and they were almost through with their pre-flight checks when the proximity alarm sounded. BB-8 squealed that a life form was approaching quickly, and was, in fact, climbing the pilot’s ladder. Poe did his best to facepalm wearing his helmet. Then she was knocking insistently on the transparisteel hatch. For a moment, the stubborn part of Poe’s brain considered just sitting there, hatch closed, waiting to see if Dara would leave. But the sensible part of his brain knew that she was just as stubborn as he was, if not more so. He sighed again, noting to himself that he’d been doing that a lot in the past hour, and pulled the hatch release.
“What are you doing, Dara?” Poe sounded exhausted.
“Catching you before you run away, so you can explain what happened back in the Briefing.” Dara’s tone was no nonsense and determined.
Poe sighed...and cringed because how many times was he going to sigh like that today?
“Look...I…” and then he looked her in the eyes, and he was done. He figured he would see the anger there, and even the confusion, but there was a mix of hurt and sadness that, shit! He put that there, didn’t he. Then her lower lip wobbled a bit, like she was fighting not to start crying. He had to really work not to sigh again. “Get in.”
“What!?” Dara nearly fell off the ladder.
“I...I need to go for a flight to clear my head, but I also really need to talk to you...and I can’t leave you looking like that, so...Get in.”
“I...across my lap...or by my feet…” There really wasn’t space for her in either spot, as much as he would enjoy it. She actually laughed a little.
“As much as I would love to get some flight time in here, I just don’t think it will work, Dameron.”
“Yeah...hang on.” He activated his comm again. “Command, this is Dameron again. Looks like I’m not taking Black One up after all. I’ll be going out in a small shuttle, instead. I’ll let you know which one when I get there.”
Dara waited until Poe pulled off his helmet and unhooked his flight harness before she descended the ladder. He followed her down closely and started off towards the shuttles. He’d only made it a few steps before he stopped, and looked back at Dara who was giving him a look. Then she pointed up at BB-8, who hadn’t been released from his place in Black One, and who was beeping rather indignant insults towards his master. Dara snorted a laugh as Poe rushed back up to release BB-8. Then he jumped back down, and lead Dara and BB-8 off towards the shuttles.
Poe boarded a small T-6 shuttle that had been commandeered as a ruin by himself for the Resistance, and had been rebuilt largely thanks to Dara and her fellow technicians. She smiled as she and BB-8 followed him onto what she generally considered her own ship. She ran her hands along the bulkhead as she followed Poe into the cockpit.
“Kind of poetic, isn’t it?” Dara mused as she strapped herself into the co-pilot seat.
“What is?” Poe responded as he started pre-flight checks. BB-8 plugged in to help the process along.
“You know...that our last...well not last flight together, but our last...non-mission flight together before I go is on my baby!” She started flicking switches and prepping the engine to help out. “Promise me you’ll take care of her.”
Poe chuckled as he commed Command for clearance for the flight. It took him quite a while to answer, not wanting to tell her too much just yet.
“Dara, how could you think I’d let her go to waste? You know, I’m completely capable of servicing flight-crafts, it’s just so much easier to have you help out.”
“Yeah, well, I do wonder how you managed before you and General Organa rescued me from a boring life of repairs for that Senator on Chandrila.”
BB-8 beeped that Poe’s always had the droid to help, and that droids are always helpful.
“He’s right. Droids are very helpful.” Poe laughed.
“Until they break and I have to fix them. Not that I don’t appreciate you, BB-8. I know you’ll take good care of Poe while I’m gone.”
BB-8 beeped a happy affirmative.
They took off, and Poe flew them to the other side of the planet. During the short flight Dara and BB-8 had wandered off in the small shuttle. When Poe landed the ship, he found them by the gangplank, and Dara was cleaning up some of BB-8’s wiring. She finished up quickly when she saw Poe watching them, and replaced the small panel she’d managed to remove from BB-8’s ball.
“There.” Dara said, patting his dome. “Everything should run smoothly now. Let me know if you feel anything else out of whack before I go.”
BB-8 squealed that he would. Then he rolled over to nudge Poe’s leg, twittering Dara’s praises.
“Yeah.” Poe grinned. “She’s pretty amazing, isn’t she. Look, buddy, would you mind going to the cockpit to plug in again? Make sure everything is fully functioning, and do repairs if you need to. We’ll come find you when we’re ready to go, okay?”
BB-8 chirped an okay. Then he rolled off in the direction Poe had come from.
Poe released the hatch to lower the gangplank. Dara stood up and followed Poe off the shuttle. She wasn’t about to let him run off and avoid explaining why he’d reacted the way he had at the briefing.
They had landed by a quiet lake on the opposite side of the planet from the base, and Poe was heading straight for it. If he had been alone in Black One he would have been skimming the water, practicing aquatic maneuvers, and probably driving poor BB-8 to distraction. Instead he was walking with what appeared to be purpose, like he wanted nothing more than to just walk into the lake and find a Gungan settlement at the bottom of it. He stopped a few feet from the water’s edge, and sank down into the sand and pebbles. Dara, not sure what to do, sat down near him, and watched him for a few minutes before she finally said something.
“So...what...why don’t...is it because I’m absentminded and clumsy?” Sentences could be hard sometimes.
Poe snapped out of whatever train of thought he’d been lost in, and turned to look at her.
“I guess I get it. I mean, I realize that I’m absentminded, and I run into things, a lot, and I tend to trip over nothing, but...Finn thinks I can do this mission thing. So why don’t you?”
Poe couldn’t hold it back anymore. He sighed, heavily.
“I do think you can do it. I know you can do it. Dara, you can do anything you want to...I...I don’t...want you to go. I mean...I know you’ve wanted to do more for the Resistance, but why couldn’t you just...fly an X-wing?”
“I’ve tried that.”
“Wait! You have?”
“Yeah, ten times now. Just because I didn’t finish at the academy didn’t mean I didn’t want to fly.”
“But...I was never told about your applications to join the Resistance Starfleet.”
“Well, no, you wouldn’t have been.” Dara sighed this time. “See my applications went to Leia...and, of course, Leia sent them to be approved by the Admiral.”
And Poe knew that her father, Admiral Antilles of the New Republic Navy, would never approve of his only daughter becoming a Starpilot with the current casualty rate they had.
“Well, at least I would be able to keep my eye on you.”
“You know, I can walk without you guiding me.”
“Yes...but that’s not...You...you have no idea, do you?” Dara gave him a confused look. What was she supposed to know? “I don’t want you to go...not because I don’t think you can do it, but because...I don’t think I can handle you being gone.”
“I know, I know...I am the best technician in the Resistance.”
“No, Dara...I...I don’t know what I’ll do when I don’t have you to guide around the base, and I don’t know what I’ll do when your tools aren’t all over my desk and stuck in my locker, and I don’t know what I’ll do when you’re not there to argue with BB-8 about whether or not you need a droid.” Poe stopped and scooted closer to her.
“Sounds to me like your life will be a bit easier without me getting in your space.” Dara laughed lightly.
“No...see...you…” He reached for her hand. Deep breath...it was now or never. “Dara, you’re everything. You’re the sky, and space...you’re flying...you’re the Resistance, and you’re Black One, and you’re my squad. You’re Yavin IV, and the farm, and waking up and hearing my dad laugh in the kitchen. You’re the memory of flying with my mother. You’re everything…”
Dara just blinked at him. For a full 2 minutes her brain just shorted out. Poe...Poe had said such sweet, wonderful things. Things she had absolutely no idea that he felt. They had always been friends. And yes, they had had a hand full of nights, trolling the bars together where they both struck out so they hooked-up instead. But things had always gone back to normal in the morning. He’d never once clued her in that his feelings had developed beyond friends who occasionally fucked. She was shocked...reeling almost.
“So...you don’t want me to leave because…”
“I’m in love with you.”
Quick note about the T-6: It was a Jedi Shuttle used during the Clone Wars. Since it's typically known that the Resistance doesn't have a lot of funding, I figured a rebuilt ruin of a ship would be the way to go. Plus I can see it being both a technician's and a pilot's dream to fix and fly some of the old shuttles and starships.
Dara doesn't make the best of decisions in response to Poe's confession.
This one is a bunch of smaller scenes that bring us to Poe leaving Dara in First Order Territory
Hey, sorry this one took as long as it did. I figure it's better to get things right, and be a little late, right?
You also probably noticed that the rating went up. Not much is happening here, but I do intend for there to be more in later chapters, so the rating is going up.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Poe woke up and opened his eyes. There was a strange light glowing in his dark room. He rolled from facing the wall, and there she was. His Dara.
She really was his, wasn’t she. Back on the beach, when he told her he was in love with her, he had been worried. She seemed so shocked, he half expected her to run. Instead she squeezed his hand, curled in close with her head on his shoulder, and finally uttered, “I had no idea…” Poe still wondered what she was thinking outside of shock when they flew back to base some time later, but she was reluctant to let go of his hand. She hadn’t said much, and she seemed to be deep in thought. When they landed, Poe asked if she wanted to go to the cafeteria to eat. She shook her head, and they walked to Poe’s quarters. “Let’s order in later,” she had said as she pulled him into his bedroom. And Poe couldn’t have been happier.
He had fallen asleep holding her a few hours earlier. He figured he must have rolled away from her in his sleep...or maybe she rolled him away herself. As he inched closer to her now he realized that she wasn’t asleep. She was, in fact, awake, and the strange glowing light was explained by the fact that she was busy studying something on her datapad. Poe didn’t want to startle her, but her bare back and her barely covered ass and her hair loose on her shoulder were all too inviting for him to ignore. He reached for her back, and she did jump a bit. Then he moved in, cuddled up against her, and kissed her neck and shoulder through her hair.
“Shouldn’t you be asleep, darling?” he asked quietly as he slipped his arms around her waist and pulled her more flush against him.
“I couldn’t sleep, so I decided to study the construction and components of one of the First Order Medical droids. I was hoping the material would put me to sleep...but it’s not like the toaster droids. Then again, it’s stuff I need to learn, so...here I am reading.” She scrolled the screen a bit. “I’m sorry if I woke you, Poe-Poe.”
“It’s alright.” He started to tease at and nibble on her ear. “Maybe I can help you sleep.”
He grinned wickedly into her hair as one of his hands moved down to explore the folds between her legs. She gasped as he started pumping a couple fingers into her and gently massaged her nub with his thumb. With his other hand he gently tried to pull her datapad away from her.
“Poe...mmmm, Poe, wait...at least let me turn it off.”
Poe chuckled as he nosed through her hair to find a place along her neck to show more proper attention. Dara finally gave up the datapad, having shut it down. He tossed it to the floor. Dara cringed slightly, but it wasn’t long before she forgot all about her datapad.
Dara woke up the next morning still wrapped in Poe’s arms. He had not been wrong about a few more orgasms leading to restful sleep. It was still dark in the room because all the window blinds were pulled down. She first stretched, then snuggled back against Poe’s chest. He was so warm, and so wonderful. She was still having trouble believing he was in love with her. It was just...when did he start feeling this way? She thought back...and back...and back...and she didn’t think it started when Ben Solo introduced them. And Poe, he seemed to never change his outward demeanor towards her. She assumed he came to the realization at the thought of her leaving. She would have to ask him when he woke.
As if on cue with her thoughts, Poe groaned and stretched. Then he scooted down so their faces were level, and pulled her close again. He blinked dreamily at her, a slight smile on his face. Then her hands were in his hair, and they shared a warm, languid, good morning kiss.
“This is so amazing…” he sighed as he pulled away from the kiss to gaze and blink at her again.
“What?” She didn’t pull her hands from his hair, instead she started massaging his scalp. He purred.
“You...all the other times you were in such a rush to leave in the morning.”
“Well, the majority of those times we were in seedy hotels, and I seem to recall you in a hurry to get out of those as well.”
Poe laughed. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
“How...how long have you been in love with me?”
“I...don’t know. It just sort of...crept up on me. You know, warm friendly feelings grew and evolved, I guess. I know when I realized it though.”
“You know how I’ve been striking out a bit lately when we’ve gone out? Well...the night that started...the last time we hooked-up. You were just...so...it was like you were on fire that night, or a star blazing. I may have, um, scared anyone who might have been interested in you away cause I realized I wanted you for myself. The next morning, I felt you crawling out of the bed, but I had to stop you.”
“You said, ‘Stay, we have plenty of time to get back to base before we’re missed. I just want to hold you a while longer.’”
He nosed her cheek before placing a kiss on the corner of her mouth.
“Yeah, you remember?”
“I...well...I thought you just wanted a lie in. But you did pull me back in, and you did hold me as close as you could for a few more hours.”
“I couldn’t help it. I needed you that morning. I’ve needed you a lot since then…”
“Why didn’t you tell me? Why not sooner?”
“Well, part of me was afraid of how you would react. And another part...I didn’t want to...have anything to tie me down with the war going on, but, really, I was already tied down.” He kissed her mouth gently. Then he pulled back and stroked his fingers down her cheek. “When did you figure it out?”
“When did you figure out that you’re in love with me, too?”
Oh...shit! She hadn’t...told him she was in love with him, too. She hadn’t actually worked any of that out for herself. She had just jumped into autopilot when he said it...and now...ohshitohshitoshit!
But before Dara could say anything there was a pounding at the door to Poe’s quarters.
“POE!” Finn’s muffled yell called. “POE! ARE YOU THERE?” More pounding. “I CAN’T FIND DARA!”
Poe groaned. Dara laughed, relieved. She pressed a light kiss against his lips. Then she pushed herself up from his bed, and started looking for the clothes she shed the night before. Poe got up after her, quickly finding briefs and a pair of pants, so he could let Finn in. He left Dara in the bedroom half dressed and searching for her bra. Poe opened the door he found Finn looking rather nervous. Finn walked in and raised his eyebrows when he saw Poe.
“Look, I know you’re upset about Dara going on this mission, but aren’t you supposed to be out running training exercises with your squadron?” Finn asked.
Poe squinted at Finn. “We have formations at 900...what time is it?”
“950. I was supposed to have a training session with Dara at 900, and she never showed up. I check her room, and one of the other techs said she never came back last night. So I went to check with you, and Jess said you hadn’t even shown up at the Hangar yet. BB-8 was about to roll down to Command when I suggested we check here first.”
“OH! SHIT!” Dara yelled from the bedroom. She stumbled out, fully dressed, as she gazed down at her datapad. “Finn, I’m so sorry. I turned my datapad off, so my alarm didn’t go off.”
“Hey, I’m just glad you’re okay.” A knowing smile plastered his face. “I know a mission like yours has to be a lot to handle. Look, I have the whole morning off from my regular training sessions with the ground troops for you...if you’re feeling up to it.”
“Yeah, I just need to head back to my quarters and clean up a bit. I’ll meet you in the small gym in 20 minutes?”
“Yeah, that’s fine. I’ll see you there. Poe? You might want to track down BB-8 before he recruits all the droids for a search and rescue mission.”
Poe laughed. “Yeah, I’ll comm him in a minute. Meet you in the commissary for lunch?”
“Sounds good, Poe. I’ll see you then.”
Finn left quietly, with an interesting smile. Dara was about to slip out behind him, when Poe grabbed her around the waist and pulled her back against him.
“You want to shower quick?” He asked with a too innocent smile.
“Yes...but we don’t have time. I need to meet Finn, and you should really get down to the Hangar if you’re supposed to be running training formations.”
Poe sighed again, but happily.
“You’re right. Look, our conversation earlier…”
“We’ll pick it up later, okay?”
“Yeah, I just...I love you.”
Dara worried at her lower lip for a second. Then she smiled.
She kissed Poe lightly before she hurried out the door.
Dara sat on the floor of the gym. Finn could sense she wasn’t ready for sparring, so he suggested he drill her on the information he’d given her about living in the First Order. She answered every question he asked correctly, but absently. Finn suggested they roll play, to see if Dara had the attitude and personality she would assume developed enough. She sat there, and barely reacted.
“You know, you’ve got the ‘just returned from reconditioning’ down, but I’m not sure that’s what you should act like right off the bat.” Finn commented somewhere between serious and teasing. When she didn’t respond he sat down on the mat facing her. “Dara, what’s the matter?”
She didn’t answer right away. She chewed on her lower lip. Then she looked up at Finn.
“I...Poe’s in love with me. He told me yesterday.”
Finn smiled a little sadly.
“Yeah, I know.”
Dara closed her eyes and turned her head away.
“Does everyone know?”
“It wouldn’t surprise me. I mean, he didn’t exactly hide it.”
“I...had no idea.” She looked back at Finn. “I mean he told me, and I...I just...I couldn’t think. I mean...it’s Poe. He’s my best friend, and we’ve been through a lot together. I’ve never thought of him in...in a relationshippy kind of way. I mean, yes, I get that we’ve slept together before, but it was always us blowing off steam when we otherwise struck out. I didn’t...I mean...this is war, so I never...thought about having a relationship with anyone. And, now? Shit! I’m a terrible person!”
“Come on, Dara, you’re not terrible.”
“I am! Holy Force, I’m awful. When he tells me he’s in love with me, what did I do? Did I say, ‘Wow, Poe, that’s sweet, but I’m not sure how I feel about you. I’m really flattered?’ NO! I said nothing, and then I jumped into bed with him...and had a lot of sex with him...and, fuck, I’m a terrible person. Why would I do that? He assumes that I feel the same way he does. And me, I don’t know...I think I could, I want to feel that way for him because...I mean, it’s Poe, but do I have time to find out? No, I’m going on a mission, and I will be GONE, for months, hell, years possibly.” Dara flopped down to lay on her back dramatically. She grabbed her hair and groaned. “What’s worse, is I’ll probably go back to his quarters with him tonight, and do it all over again...because I’m terrible!”
“Finn, I’m sorry. I know you’re crazy about him...in a way that I am not. And I’m sitting here complaining about that, and having sex with him...shit!”
Dara was quiet for a while. Finn crawled over to her and laid down next to her.
“Look, Dara, half the reason I’ve never did tell Poe how I feel about him is because I already knew how he felt about you.”
“Well, do me a favor, Finn. Don’t wait too long to get off your butt and tell him.”
“But if he wants you…”
“I know, but...I just want you both to be happy.”
“I think he’s pretty happy with you.”
“But I’m leaving...in two days, probably.”
“Maybe...let him decide what he wants?”
Dara didn’t answer. She didn’t know what else to say. She didn’t want to hurt Poe. Hurting Poe felt like hurting something sweet and innocent, like a puppy. She couldn’t see it ending well. She thought about Finn’s advice of letting Poe decide, but that didn’t change the fact that she wasn’t exactly in love with him. Did she love him? Yes, he was her best friend. Was she attracted to him? Who wasn’t, honestly? But it just didn’t feel like it was enough, not yet anyways. She sighed heavily and stood up.
“I just feel guilty. I’m leaving him before I’m able to work this out.” She turned and offered Finn a hand up. Finn accepted the help, and followed her as she walked towards the door, both knowing that the training thing wasn’t going to effectively happen anymore. “And, Finn, if we want him to decide what he wants he needs all the information, so tell him.”
It was the afternoon of the fourth day when Dara received a message on her datapad to report to Command immediately. She knew what that meant. It was go time. She also knew that Poe had been doing business as usual during the day, so he was currently in flight. He would join them as soon as he was able.
When Dara arrived in Command she was immediately ushered into General Organa’s office. Once seated Leia offered Dara an information chip to be inserted into her datapad.
“Everything is set.” the general began. “This chip contains the dossier with the identity you are to assume, as well as the location of your new residence. You'll be in a relatively safe area. We've also set up proper transportation for you when you take your exam.”
Dara nodded a thanks as she took the chip uploaded the information to her datapad. The first thing that caught her attention was the name.
“Is it a smart idea for me to use my mother’s name?” she asked.
“It shouldn’t pose a problem. Dara Antilles still exists, but all public files have been altered. Also, your new identity has been created and files uploaded into all holonet identifying systems. Any searches done on who you might be will lead to who you are to become in the coming weeks.”
Dara nodded again and tried not to feel too overwhelmed by it all. It was happening...now. She just had to wait for Poe to get in. Then they would grab the their packed bags and leave for Bormea.
They had been in flight for hours, would be landing in maybe an hour more. Dara was sitting in the co-pilot seat munching on a ration bar while Poe had gone to prepare himself something more edible. To be honest Dara couldn’t really stomach much, so the flavorless, dry ration bar was perfect for her.
She knew there was a conversation that they needed to have. She knew she shouldn’t have spent the last 4 days with Poe the way she had. She wanted to give him a chance, she really did, but 3 or 4 days wasn’t enough time for her to discover if her feelings for him were more than the friendship and enjoyable fucking. And there went her stomach flipping with guilt again. She was going to break his heart, wasn’t she?
Poe came back with a pile of food and a couple water bottles, one of which he handed to Dara.
“You know, you don’t have to eat that thing.” Poe said pointing to the partially eaten bar. “I have more that enough fresh rations for you to eat something better.”
“It’s alright.” Dara replied quietly, taking another small bite. “I think this is about all I can manage right now.”
“You could say that.”
She opened the bottle and took a drink.
“You know I have complete faith that you...will get through this mission with flying colors. Dara, seriously, you can do anything. I just wish I could...be there, and protect you, and I just want you to be okay.”
Dara sighed heavily. “I know, Poe.”
“I just want you to know I believe in you.”
She glanced over at him with half a smile. “I do.”
They ate in silence for a while after that, watching the strange flashes of passing stars at light speed. Dara knew she should say something...try to let him down gently...or something like that, but how do you start a conversation like that? She didn’t know. And then to her worry, Poe started to talk.
“Dara...I know...I know this is not the best time to talk about this. I mean, I’m about to drop you off on a planet that’s controlled by the First Order, and it’s going to be a long time until we see eachother again.” He set down the food he still had left and turned in the pilot’s seat to face her. Then he reached for what was left of her ration bar. She quickly took a drink from her water before he could take that as well. He definitley wanted her full attention...shitshitshit...then he reached over to pull her so she faced him. He took the bottle of water, then he took her hands in his. “Look, I know I love you...and I’m...I know you love me back. I wish we had more time together now, but...we’ll have all the time in the universe when you come back from your mission.”
He heard her, she knew he did, but he didn’t stop. This...was the first time she’d seen him look this nervous about anything. He was Commander Poe Dameron of the Resistance, sure of himself in everything he did...and he...he was going to...propose? After 4 days? Dara’s eyes widened.
“When you do, I don’t want to wait.” He continued. “I want to leave you knowing...knowing that when you come home, it will be to me.” Poe stopped, closed his eyes for a second, cursed himself at his sudden difficulty to find the right words to say. “What I’m trying to say is, when you come home, I want you to-”
“POE, STOP!” Dara didn’t mean to yell as loud as she did, but she couldn’t let him say it. “I...I can’t...I can’t do this...oh, fuck! I need to…”
She was up, and she ran out of the cockpit. She ran back to the common area for passengers. She wanted to go further, she wanted to hide for the rest of the flight. But it wouldn’t matter, he would still find her. And he did deserve some form of explanation. Then she heard Poe walk into the common area behind her.
“Dara...I don’t...understand…” Oh, fuck, he sounded terrible.
She turned to him, and he looked so hurt and confused.
“Poe...I can’t let you...I’m...I’m sorry. I’m so fucking sorry.” And Dara started crying. And Poe, for being hurt and confused, didn’t hesitate to take her in his arms to comfort her. All she could think was she really was terrible, especially as she wrapped her arms around him in return. “I don’t...maybe if we had more time...but 4 days? I can’t...not now...I can’t let you ask me that.”
They stood there for a while, holding each other. They both needed the closeness and reassurance. Poe took his time to process what Dara said. He was almost certain she was just trying to protect him...in the event that she wouldn’t return. He decided it best not to argue the point, and let her take care of him for once.
“Okay...that’s okay. I’ll wait. I don’t need to ask right now. I’ll still be here when you get back.”
She pulled back to look him in the eyes.
“I need you to promise me something.”
“Anything, Dara, I swear. I’ll do anything.”
“Don’t...if someone comes along...and you think you might be...I don’t want you to wait for me. If you think you have a chance...then...do it.”
Poe looked so utterly confused by that. “How could you think I would want anyone but you?”
“Poe...you are my best friend. You have been for years...I love you! I only want you to be happy...How could you be happy if you’re stuck...waiting for me? If it were only a short time...I...in a perfect situation, I will be gone 6 months. But this is me...going into the First Order...I’ll be gone for...years probably, and that’s if I even make it out alive. Please, Poe. Promise me. Please!”
“Look...if I come back and we’re still wanting to see where this goes...okay, but...don’t wait for me.”
He blinked at her a couple times. Reminded himself that she was only trying to protect him, so finally he nodded.
“I don’t think I ever will, but if I do, I promise I will give it a chance.”
Dara nodded, but could get her mouth to say anything in response. She would have pulled him in, to just hold him again for a while, but before she could the proximity alarms sounded. Poe kissed her softly before pulling away to return to the cockpit.
She followed after a minute, knowing she should strap herself into the co-pilot seat. She started helping with preparations to enter the atmosphere and land as soon as Poe brought the shuttle out of light speed. For a few short minutes it was business as usual between them once again. Dara sighed. She was going to miss him, even if she wasn’t in love with him.
After they landed Poe helped Dara take her bags off the shuttle as she pulled out her datapad and her First Order credits chit. After finding the location of her new home she tried to hire a transport, only to find the driver wouldn’t accept the First Order credits. Poe offered to find her another driver, but Dara had another idea.
“How about this!” Dara said enthusiastically. “How about I fix your speeder for the price of the fare to my residence.”
“Ain’t nothin’ wrong with my speeder.” The driver grumbled in return.
“Really? Because I hear an audible whine in the engine. Let me take a look, and if I can’t get that to go away in 15 minutes, you can leave me here, and I’ll find someone else.”
Dara closed the lid to the engine 10 minutes later. The driver sputtered a disbelieving thanks as the engine buzzed to life and purred like a kitten. He even loaded all her bags himself.
Dara turned back to smile at Poe. He grinned back at her, he knew she would be just fine.
Thanks for reading so far. Kudos and Comments are appreciated. :-)