When Poe Dameron is young and doesn't yet know how to fly he meets a Joker in a bar. He's five years old, shouldn't actually be in a bar and his mother will definitely kill him when she finds him, but the crowd had been a bit too thick for Poe to find his way back to her side after having been waylaid by a particularly shiny piece of machine, and then stuff happened. Trying to find her in the market is a no go, it's too big and full of weird places to hide. And also Poe is really small, what with being five, and his mother is unlikely to spot him under the sea of people. His mother has also told him, repeatedly, that if he was to ever get separated from her he should find a safe enough location and wait for her there.
This area is not that full with places that Poe thinks his mother would consider safe. There's a bank – which could be robbed therefore not safe. There's the actual port – Poe could accidentally on purpose get on a ship and be sent to space, also not safe. There's some repair shops – Poe has a tendency to stick his fingers in things, which rules them out, because sticking his sticky fingers into electrical sockets is the very definition of not safe.
Really, finding a passably reputable bar is the better option in his time of need.
The bar is quite clean. No dirt gathering in piles in the corners, wallpaper fairly whole – there's not even any scantily dressed people in sight. Poe could have done much worse.
(He has, in fact, done much worse – his mother started dissing his "safe" places for a reason – but that's irrelevant.)
He looks around the bar, trying to locate someone that his mother is unlikely to shoot on sight, then catches the hem of a humanoid's pants and pulls on it until he gets the man's attention.
"I'm lost," Poe says.
The man stares at him over his glass of something amber and below the brim of his cap. "Well, isn't that a fun coincidence; so am I."
Poe's eyes widen. "Really? I didn't know adults could get lost." Poe lets go of the man's clothes and jumps up on the empty stool next to him. "My mom never gets lost, and my dad and grandma don't either. Do you have a bad sense of direction?"
The man snorts. "Sure kid, let's go with that. It's as good an explanation as any."
Poe frowns in confusion for a moment, because that wasn't really much of an answer, but then shrugs and lets it go. "It's okay if you do, you know." He claps the man on his arm in comfort. "My mom can help you get back; she knows all the places in the galaxy."
"Yeah? Sounds like you've got an awesome mom. The galaxy is pretty large." The man waves the bartender over, a bright blue toydarian with an eyepatch and an unusually pleasant look on his face. "Get me a juice for the kid, some fruit blend that won't kill your regular humanoid."
"Apple please," Poe says with a wide smile and the toydarian grunts in reply. He does give Poe a purple straw with the juice though, so Poe counts it as a win. "And yes, my mom's the best. She's a pilot."
The man pauses, about to take another swig at his drink but instead sets it down on the bar. "A pilot, huh. What does she fly?"
"Starfighters." Poe sucks in a big gulp of the juice before he sets it down, too. "Back home we have a RZ-1 A-wing interceptor, and during the war she flew a T-65 X-wing and the T-66B and lots of other ships for the rebellion."
She's also promised to teach Poe how to fly next standard year and he's pretty stoked. Very stoked. Flying is awesome.
The man snorts but his voice is soft. "Definitely a cool lady, then, if she's able to fly all those models. I've been told the B model is particularly sensitive. Haven't actually got my hands on one myself, but you hear so much at ports and bars."
Poe smiles. This man gets it.
"So you're a pilot, too? Sweet! What do you fly?"
The man snorts. "That would be far too many to mention." He takes a quick sip of his drink. "But if you must know, my all-time favorite ships are the Normandy SR-1 and 2. Never piloted anything better than them. Don't think I ever will."
Poe racks his brain but can't make any connection. "I've never heard of those models before."
"Would be surprised if you had, kid," the man says. "They're the only ones ever made and I was Chief Helmsman for both of them. And I, the best damn helmsman the System's Alliance had ever seen or not, am not very famous in this galaxy. To everyone's great loss, I assure you."
"What's the System's Alliance?" Poe asks with a frown. "And how do you know if you were the best? Isn't that, like, presimturous or something? My grandma says arrogance is bad."
"Presumptuous, I think is the word you're looking for." The man drums his fingers against the metal bar disk, a fast paced beat that doesn't at all align with the background song playing from the speakers. "And your grandma's right, arrogance is bad and will get you in trouble. But it's not arrogance if it's true." The man smiles toothily, cockiness settling on his face like it belongs there. "And I'm the effing best."
Poe side eyes him just a little bit and the man laughs good-naturedly.
"And as for the System's Alliance... Around these parts it's nothing at all. Back where I'm from, though, it's a pretty big deal. Lots of people, ships and far too many enemies to be comfortable." He scratches at his shin and its grey bristly hairs. "Got in many interesting situations back then. Met even more interesting people." He grins and leans closer, as if ready to share a secret. "One actually married me."
He laughs at the unimpressed expression on Poe's face.
"I bet they're a lot cooler than you," Poe challenges.
"Definitely," the man agrees. "Not to say I'm not cool myself, mind you. But she's definitely cooler."
Poe scoffs, disbelieving, but he's smiling and the man isn't offended in the least. "Sure," he says. "You're so cool. Supercool. All-around awesome."
"Excuse you," he says, hand on his chest and mock hurt on his face. "I'm a pilot. Pilots are automatically cool. And people love a sharp pilot."
Poe frowns. "What does that even mean?"
The man goes to answer but catches himself with a cough. "Ah," he says and scratches the back of his neck. "I think it's better you find that one out on your own."
"I think that's a terrific idea," someone says from behind him and before Poe is able to turn around a hand forcefully ruffles the hair on his head.
"I see you got something of mine," his mother says. "Hope he wasn't too much of a hassle."
Poe bats ineffectually at her hands. "Mom, that's completely unfair," he pouts loudly up at her.
The man snorts, clearly amused. "Not at all, ma'am, it was a pleasure." He winks at Poe. "Always fun meeting the next generation of pilots."
His mother smiles good naturedly at the man and stretches out a hand for him to shake. "Shara Bey," she says. "Thanks for taking care of my son."
"And I'm Poe," Poe says right after. His mother says that names are best kept secret, but since she told hers Poe can tell his, too. That's how it works. He also reaches out and takes the man's hand to shake, the man letting him with a weird look on his face before the already wrinkled skin around his eyes scrunches up further when he smiles.
"Joker," he says. "It's very nice to meet you, Poe."