It's been twenty minutes, and the guy still won't leave him alone.
Poe tries his hardest not to roll his eyes; he just wanted to enjoy his night in peace, was that too much to ask? He doesn't even remember the guy's name, for Christ's sake— Brad or Bob or something.
"Listen, bud," he says, gritting his teeth into a smile. "I had fun too, but let's be real: it was a one time thing."
Unfortunately, this strategy backfires on him. Brad just glowers at him. "Don't give me that BS, Poe, we've only got a couple hours—"
At this point, Poe begins searching for a way out. He spots a guy sitting at a table alone, hunched over his drink, and strides over.
"Hey, buddy!" he exclaims, plopping down into the seat next to him. "Long time no see! How have you been?"
The stranger turns to look at him, wide-eyed. When Poe juts his chin at the guy hovering behind them, he mercifully plays along. "Pretty good. What about you?"
"Oh, not bad, not bad," Poe laughs. He turns back to Brad. "Would you mind leaving us alone for a bit? My friend and I need to catch up. Private time."
Brad grumbles something under his breath, but eventually turns around and leaves.
Poe waves him goodbye; when Brad's out of earshot, he slumps back into his seat, and heaves a sigh. "Finally. Thanks for rescuing me back there." He holds out a hand. "I'm Poe, by the way. Poe Dameron."
The guy takes it. "Finn."
Poe takes a closer look at him— he's tall, broad, but he keeps ducking his head and staring at the ground, like he's trying to make himself look smaller.
And handsome, Poe realizes, admiring the way the fluorescent lights glance off his skin.
"He's not that bad a guy," Poe says, to fill the air. "I feel kinda bad. Met him at the First Order."
"The First Order?"
"Lots of unsavory types. Probably wouldn't be your scene." Poe smiles at him. "So you're new here?"
Finn laughs sheepishly. "Is it that obvious?"
"Well, I've already been here a while," Poe says, trying to be fair. He notices that Finn's glass is almost empty. "Want more?"
Without waiting for an answer, Poe takes him by the arm, and steers him over to the bar.
The Falcon's busy tonight, people tooling around with the arcade games in the corner or dancing to the low thrum of the bass.
He shoves his way through the crowd, and leans on the counter. "Hi, Rey."
The bartender, Rey, beams at him. "Hey, Poe, what can I do for you?"
"Jack and Coke. Times two, please."
"Mine was just a Coke—" Finn protests, but Poe hushes him.
"This is Finn, by the way," Poe tells Rey, as she's making their drinks, and she smiles politely at him. "Is Han around?"
"Different era," she replies, sliding them their drinks. "Chewie's around here somewhere, though; you should say hi before you go."
"Definitely." Poe raises his drink to her before she bustles off to serve another customer. He slides into one of the stools, and beckons Finn to join him.
They make small talk for a bit, with Poe rambling on in lazy, loose circles while Finn smiles helplessly and tries to laugh at his terrible jokes, bless his heart. Rey turns the music up at some point, and Poe drags Finn to the dance floor, despite his protests.
Half-drunk and handsy, Poe slings his arms over Finn's shoulders and rocks them back and forth, only sort of on time with the beat. Finn's hands settle over his hips — hesitant, achingly gentle — and Poe shivers under his touch, the weight of that earnest, heartfelt gaze.
Eventually, Poe makes some dumb excuse about needing fresh air, and they stumble out into the alleyway. Settling down against the brick wall with their shoulders pressed together, they watch the rain splatter down onto the asphalt.
When Finn wraps his arms around himself, trembling, Poe offers him his jacket; it makes the stuffy yellow button-down he's wearing look about ten times better.
"Ten minutes left," he tells Finn. "If we do this again, you need to get a better fashion sense."
Finn laughs, radiant under the glow of the red light in the distance. "Not all of us can be as stylish as you."
They lapse into comfortable silence.
"It felt like everyone was staring," Finn blurts out. "At us. I mean, two guys, dancing together—"
"Oh, people here don't really care about that." Poe waves a hand. "It's a party town, and a lot of us only get a few hours. We stay out of each other's business."
"I've never actually done that before," Finn mumbles, looking everywhere but at Poe. "Danced with another guy, I mean."
Poe feels a twinge of sympathy. Poor guy, he thinks, and scoots closer to him, laying a hand on his thigh. Finn looks up, startled, and exhales shakily.
"What's the verdict?" Poe whispers, holding onto his gaze, refusing to let go.
"I might need another go," Finn breathes out, and Poe laughs, and moves his hand to the back of his neck, and leans in until—
Finn clambers to his feet, panting and apologizing profusely.
"It's fine, buddy," Poe assures him, trying to pretend like he doesn't want to melt into the wall right about now. He eases to his feet, unsure of what to do with his hands. "I'm the one who should apologize."
"It's not you, I swear," Finn tries to tell him, and takes a deep breath. "I have a fiancé. Rose."
Poe does his best not to break into hysterical laughter; he definitely hadn't seen that one coming. "Oh, um, okay. I get it." He glances at his watch— two minutes left. How to make a graceful exit?
He's still reviewing his options when Finn sticks his hand out. "It was great to meet you," he says weakly, before glancing down at himself and fumbling with the jacket. "You probably want this back—"
"No, you keep it." Against his better judgment, Poe reaches out, smooths the lapels down with both hands. "It suits you."
One week later
Poe's chatting up another guy at the Falcon when he spots Finn out of the corner of his eye. Feeling spiteful, he takes them to the dance floor and makes sure to put an extra swing in his hips.
Three songs later, Poe excuses himself to the bathroom. He stands there staring at his reflection for a minute; his face looks smooth and unlined, hair more pepper than salt. Not old, not tired.
Finn steps in a moment later— still wearing his jacket, Poe realizes with a pang.
"I don't know what I'm doing," he says, a beat later.
Poe raises an eyebrow at the mirror, trying not to seem too hopeful. "Yeah?"
"Can you just help me?" Finn stammers, flustered.
When Poe turns to face him, he immediately looks away. Poe reaches out to touch Finn's cheek, and tilts his head up so their eyes meet. "Wanna go to my place?"
They're sprawled out in his bed afterwards, boneless and tangled up in his sheets, when Finn starts to ask him questions. "How long have you been here?"
"In San Junipero?" Finn is tucked into his side, head resting on Poe's collarbone, warm and solid around him. "Almost eight months. I'm a tourist, just like you."
"That's a long time," Finn says, his voice hushed, reaching up to twist a lock of Poe's hair around his finger.
Poe drops a kiss to the top of his head. "I'm dying, but it's taking a bit longer than they expected. A year ago they gave me five months, max; last week, they gave me another four. I just show up at the hospital once a week, and they hook me up."
"Alright, I get a question now," Poe says. "What do you do?"
Finn stiffens, and considers it for a moment. "I'm...unemployed."
"Me too, I guess. I'm not allowed to fly anymore," Poe says; he's not even bitter anymore, just resigned. "I was a pilot."
"Yeah, for Resistance Airlines. Now I just fuck around all week and wait for Saturdays." He's trembling, he realizes. Finn reaches up to brush his cheek, and Poe leans into his touch.
"Are you being treated?" Finn asks. "Is there any way you could—"
Poe shakes his head,. "I tried at first...but there's no point."
"What d'you mean?"
Poe tilts his head back, staring straight up at the ceiling, and tries to find the right words. "I'm an only child, and my parents are gone, and the rest of my family lives in Guatemala. Yeah, I have friends from my old crew, but they all have their own lives and can't take care of me all the time. And I don't have a boyfriend or a fiancé or whatever, 'cause I've spent my entire life flying around the world and trying not to get attached to anybody."
"What are you trying to say?" Finn whispers.
"I don't have anybody to fight for," he says, gently. "So I might as well just die myself."
"That's so dumb." Finn sits up against the headboard, the heat of his gaze burning into Poe. "You have a chance to live, and you're just throwing it away."
"There's no chance for me, Finn. Whatever I do now, it's just between dying sooner or later." Poe smiles sadly.
"Anyways, enough about me. Tell me about you."
He doesn't say much before they run out of time.
"Hey, Han," Poe says, sidling up to the bar. "How's it going?"
Han grunts, lowering the glass he's polishing. "Not bad. Seen Leia around lately?"
"Last Sunday, for dinner." Poe smirks at him. "Same as every week."
Han scowls at him, reaching for a bottle on the shelf. "Don't sass me, kid."
Whenever Poe sees him, he's always startled by how young Han is here, looking exactly how he does in the framed photos of him and Leia and Luke all over their house— the three of them piled into the Falcon, Han's arm around Leia, a cigarette clamped between his lips.
Simpler times, Leia would always sigh when she caught him staring at them.
"Anyways, she's good," Poe tells him. "Just took control of her neighborhood homeowner association."
Han snorts, and passes Poe his drink. "That's what retirement looks like for her?"
Poe takes a sip, smiling wryly. "Just a typical Tuesday afternoon."
Han hesitates. "And Ben?"
Poe shrugs. "Probably still an asshole. We saw one of his weird movies the other day."
Han's about to open his mouth when Finn bursts into the bar, breathing heavily, and storms over. He's still wearing that goddamn jacket and, Poe notes dispassionately, is still really fucking hot.
"What the hell, Poe? Where have you been?" Finn demands. "I've been looking all over for you."
"That's sweet," Poe demurs. Han shoots him a look, and busies himself with another drink, pretending like he isn't hanging onto their every word.
"I came here, and then the First Order — which is terrible, by the way — and then Rey told me to try another era— anyways, it doesn't matter." Finn shakes his head. "Are you avoiding me or something?"
"I just like a change of scenery," Poe says, and winces immediately. As far as excuses go, it's a pretty lame one.
"Is this what you do with all your guys? Take them home, and just ditch them the next week?"
Poe rubs his temples; he can feel a migraine coming on. "I'll tell Leia you said hi," he says to Han, before dragging Finn over to the DDR machine so they don't make a scene in front of everybody.
Finn looks at him expectantly, and Poe tries to think of something that'll make sense to him; he comes up empty.
"It's just fun, okay?" Poe says, through gritted teeth. "We're here to have fun."
"That's all it is to you?" Finn looks disgusted, and Poe tries not to let on how much he just wants it all to stop. "You don't even know who I am. What this means. This, all of this— it's new for me."
Poe can't stand the open look of hurt on his face— his naked vulnerability, his sheer inability to hide a single thing he felt. His anger, his confusion, his exasperation, incandescent and beautiful.
"New? How can it be new?" Poe laughs darkly. "Don't you have a fiancé?"
He fails to keep the venom out of his voice.
Finn flinches. "You don't even know what this means," he repeats. When Poe just blinks at him, Finn huffs and wheels around, disappearing through the door in the corner.
Poe leans back into the wall and pinches the bridge of his nose, giving himself a moment before he follows.
When Poe finds him, Finn is sitting on the edge of the roof, his legs dangling over the sides.
"Careful, buddy," Poe laughs nervously. "You do have your pain slider set to zero, right?"
"Don't worry," he says quietly. "I'm not gonna jump."
Poe sits next to him, leaning back against his palms, and holds the silence.
"I'm sorry about everything," he blurts out. "It's just...I didn't want to do feelings, here— I just wanted to have my fun, and get out. But then you came along, and I just fucking told you everything— like, I've never done that before. It really freaked me out. How much I wanted to care about you.
"I never wanted to like anyone here— so you've just been really fucking inconvenient," Poe laughs. "This is all new for me too, you know. I wasn't ready for this. For wanting—"
Finn kisses him to shut him up.
They sit on the beach just outside of Poe's house, barefoot, Finn tracing patterns in the sand, and listen to the waves crashing against the sand.
"I wonder why they decided to make it a beach town," Poe muses. "What if my happy place is the forest or the mountains? Or the desert?"
Finn pulls a face at that, and Poe can't help but laugh. "Hypothetically speaking, of course. I do love the beach."
They fall into companionable silence.
"Who's Leia?" Finn blurts out.
Poe just stares blankly at him. "...what?"
"At the Falcon — you said something to Han—"
"Right, right. She's Han's wife, out in the real world, and my…" Poe trails off. "Well, it's kind of a long story."
Finn glances down at his watch. "We've got time."
"Alright, alright," Poe sighs, and settles in. "She was my mom's friend— Leia was a junior senator when Mom was in the Air Force, and they met at some luncheon where Mom was getting an award, and Mom went to talk to her because she'd always advocated for women in the military. They hit off, Leia invited our family over for dinner, and the rest is history.
"Anyways, when I left the Air Force, I didn't know what I wanted to do next, or even have a place to live, really, so Leia helped me out. She's connected as hell — politics and whatnot — so she pulled some strings and got me a job with the Resistance, and that was that. Now we eat pot roast together once a week and bitch about our lives.
"I guess when I said I didn't have anybody, that wasn't really true— Leia's the one who's always been there for me. Probably 'cause she doesn't have anybody left either—her kid's an asshole actor who's in some weird cult, so he doesn't even call her, Han's here, and her brother Luke chose not to pass over."
Finn looks at him incredulously. "Seriously? Why not?"
Poe shrugs. "He had his beliefs. Wouldn't even take the trial run."
"That's crazy. I mean, I didn't know if I wanted to do it, at first but—" Finn gestures to the expanse of night sky before them, the waves meeting the purple horizon. "Look at this place. Jesus...without it, I never would've met someone like you."
Poe frowns, and nudges him in the shoulder. "Sure you would have. We could've met outside all this."
"No." Finn shakes his head vehemently. "You wouldn't have got me at all. If we really met...you wouldn't look twice at me."
Finn looks at him, startled, and Poe holds his gaze. "Or— you wouldn't want to spend time with me. You'd show up, and I'd just—"
"Try me," Poe says, more insistently this time. Finn looks away from him again, and Poe takes his hand, keeps him tethered to him. "Before, you said I didn't I know you. Well, I want to. I've shown you me— tell me more about you."
"I'm not really anybody," he mumbles.
"Bullshit. Where are you from?"
Finn just sighs. "That's kind of a loaded question."
"Well, I was trying to start easy," Poe grouses. "But fine. Where are you right now?"
Finn looks at him uneasily, but answers the question. "New York."
"Alright, alright, the Big Apple," Poe says, trying to be encouraging. "I'm not too far away. Atlanta."
A crazy idea suddenly occurs to him, and he's unable to shove it out of his head.
"What if we met up?" When Finn glances up at him, bewildered, Poe clarifies. "In real life."
Finn stiffens. "I can't. I don't want you to—" he pauses, and bites his lip. "I won't be...what you expected."
Poe slings an arm over his shoulder and pulls Finn into him. "I'm dying, Finn. Whatever you are can't scare me."
He squeezes Finn's hand. "Let me come visit. I wanna say hi."
Finn nods, and Poe presses a kiss to his forehead, silently thanking him.
It's the first time he's been on a plane that he isn't flying in years, and he's agitated, tapping at the armrest, shifting restlessly in his seat.
Leia had told him in no uncertain terms that he was completely insane, and his doctors had pursed their lips when he told them about his plan— travel at this point posed a huge risk, and they'd started insisting he check into the hospital full time weeks ago.
It's worth it, he tells himself.
When the plane takes off, he closes his eyes and tries to relax into the rhythm of the aircraft beneath him.
When Poe enters the hospital, there's a doctor waiting for him in the lobby.
"You must be Poe," he says, smiling. "Finn's waiting for you."
Finn's room is breezy and sunlit, tucked into the end of a hallway on the twelfth floor. As Poe walks in and approaches the bed, he holds his breath, unsure of what he'll find.
"He won't be able to physically respond to you in any way," the doctor tells him. "But he can hear you."
Finn's asleep, it seems like — hooked up to an endless labyrinth of machines, an oxygen mask over his face. He looks older, more feeble, more gaunt, but he'll still Finn, and Poe can practically feel the affection well up inside of him.
Poe brushes the hair out of Finn's eyes, pressing a kiss to his temple. "Hey, buddy," he whispers. "It's good to see you."
"Um, hello." He turns, and sees a nurse striding down the hallway. "Are you Poe?"
"The one and only," Poe quips.
"It's so good to finally meet you," she chirps, taking his hand; there's a wide smile on her face, and Poe decides that he likes her almost immediately. "Finn's told me so much about you. I'm Rose."
Poe gapes at her. "You're Rose?" He doesn't really know what he'd imagined— just not this. "Holy shit."
She beams at him. "It was really nice of you to come see him in person. You know, before he passes over. He doesn't get that many—"
"He's passing over?" Poe cuts her off, dumbfounded.
She exchanges a look with the doctor. "Let's go get some coffee, okay?"
"How long has he been like this?" Poe asks Rose, after they've sat down in the hospital cafeteria.
Rose takes a sip, and grimaces. "A little over fifteen years now, but I've only been with him for the past three. Did he ever tell you how he ended up here?"
Poe shakes his head, still reeling.
"He was living in the city at the time; he'd just come out to his parents, and they'd practically disowned him. He was only a few years out of school, and they'd cut him off, so he was almost always working late doing a bunch of odd jobs, sometimes in some pretty sketchy places.
"One night, he was walking home alone when a guy mugged him at knifepoint. He gave him all the money he had, but apparently it wasn't enough— he got slashed in the back anyways." Rose clucks her tongue. "His parents never even visited."
Poe leans back in his chair, stunned. "God, I can't even imagine."
"So the San Junipero system has been a really huge deal for him," Rose says. "Of course, until he passes over, he's on the five-hour weekly limit— like you, I guess."
"They say you go crazy if you have too much," Poe says. "I kinda see where they're coming from. Leaving it behind every week, it's always a shock."
He'd always felt so invincible when he was younger; he flew because he loved the thrill of danger, the uncertainty, the pure adrenaline of it. The diagnosis had been a kick in a teeth, a reminder of his own mortality.
And each time he left San Junipero, opened his eyes and felt the ache settle into his bones— it was like he was realizing it all over again.
"You're both so young." Rose shakes her head mournfully, and hesitates. "Can I ask…?"
"Cancer," Poe supplies. "It's spread almost everywhere at this point." He stares at the ground and takes a gulp of his coffee so he doesn't have to see the pity in her eyes.
"I'm so sorry," she whispers.
He manages a tight-lipped smile. "Don't be."
The thought occurs to him, and he struggles to find a way to broach the subject. "About this engagement…"
Rose shifts uncomfortably in her chair. "The state has a triple lockdown on euthanasia cases; you need a sign-off from the patient, the doctor, and a family member. Anyways, Finn's parents are super conservative, and they won't sign, but—"
"—a spouse can override them," Poe finishes.
"Exactly." Rose nods. "We got the pastor coming in tomorrow, and well...that's that."
"Got your white dress ready?" Poe teases.
"God, no, we're getting married during my lunch break." She laughs, leaning back into her chair. "I'm single, so I thought, what's the harm?"
"You're a really good person," he tells her, sincerely. "I'm glad you're his fiancé, and I don't have to fight you."
"It's the least I could do," Rose says, smiling. "He just— he really, really deserves this. I'm sure you know that."
He pauses, thinking, and leans forward conspiratorially. "Do you think I could talk to him right now? Before he passes over?"
Rose fidgets. "Well, he's only supposed to—"
"It won't take long," Poe wheedles, putting on his best puppy face. "Please?"
She sighs. "I'll do my best."
Rose puts both of their headpieces on. "Five minutes, okay?"
"Thank you," Poe tells her, closing his eyes, and feels himself sink in.
When he opens his eyes, he's on the beach, in broad daylight this time. He scans around, and there's Finn standing at the edge of the water, digging his toes into the wet sand, tilting his head back and staring at the sky.
Poe calls out his name; when Finn turns around, he's grinning from ear to ear.
"It's so warm right now," Finn says, awestruck.
Poe's struck by him for a moment— the silhouette of him against the sea and the sunshine, Poe's jacket tied around his waist, the waves lapping gently at his feet. Serene, happy, everything open and bright.
He forces himself to snap out of it, rushes over and clutches onto him. "Listen, we don't have much time. Rose told me what was going on."
"Oh," Finn says, the smile slipping off his face. "I'm sorry I—"
"Shh, it's okay." Poe pauses, and takes a deep breath. "So this is gonna sound completely batshit crazy."
Finn stares at him, wide-eyed. "Okay?"
Poe falls to his knees, taking Finn's hand in his. "Wanna marry me instead?"
The expression on Finn's face is priceless. "What?"
"It's just, Rose seems nice and all, but...why not me?" Poe waggles his eyebrows at him. "I mean, I think I'd be a pretty great husband."
Finn looks utterly perplexed for a moment. When he realizes what Poe is saying, his face clears itself into a radiant smile.
Poe fights back a grin. "So is that a yes? My knees are starting to hurt—"
Finn yanks Poe to his feet, grabs his face, and kisses him breathless.
When Poe signs the tablet and they turn all the systems off, he doesn't think Finn has ever looked more at peace.
Saturday night, when Poe hooks back up to the system, he shows up in a tux, his heart thrumming in his chest.
Finn beams when he sees him. "Long time no see!"
Poe wrinkles his nose at Finn's outfit— shorts and a t-shirt. "You didn't dress up to see me?"
"Oh, whoops." He looks down, and it's replaced by a suit and tie. "Better?"
Poe grins, and tugs him into his car.
They drive around the city aimlessly for a while, watching as the sky tints gold, then pink. To pass the time, Poe tells him stories— muggy summer nights curled up in the tree in his childhood backyard and camping trips with his parents and Leia and Luke; his last flight, Jess and Snap and all the others saluting him as he left the plane, fighting back tears.
Eventually, they wind back up at the beach, sprawled out on the sand with their arms around one another.
"It looks so real," Finn breathes out.
Poe murmurs in agreement. As he gazes around the beach, he's seeing everything through Finn's eyes— what a miracle it is for him to walk, to dance, to lay in a bed other than his own. To wiggle his toes in the sand and gaze out at the sea.
"I love it here," Finn says, dreamily.
Poe laughs. "Well, now you get to stay forever."
Finn sits up, winds a hand in Poe's hair and cups his cheek, still looking like he can hardly believe his luck.
"Be with me," he says, so tenderly it just about breaks Poe's heart. "When it's your time."
Poe stiffens immediately, and recoils from his touch. "Finn…"
"Stay here with me," Finn says, rubbing soothing circles into his shoulder.
He needs to stop this trainwreck immediately. "Can't we just enjoy tonight?" Poe mumbles, shrugging him off.
"It's almost midnight," Finn says. "You'll be out of here in ten minutes, and then it's another week before I see you again."
"You know I'm just a visitor."
"A few months, then what?" Finn retorts. "What happens next?"
"Can we talk about this later?" Poe says, through gritted teeth. "I need to go."
He brushed the sand from his lap and moves to stand, but Finn tugs at his hand. "Wait— what's really bothering you?"
Poe closes his eyes, and lets out one long breath. "Okay, look— for you, this is amazing, and I get why. For me...I don't know. It just...it's not the same. When I'm here, surrounded by all this amazing stuff— I just see everything my life never got to be. And it makes me really fucking depressed, okay?
"And I see Han just fucking around in the bar, waiting, and everyone else trying anything just to feel something, and it just— it just isn't real, you know? And if it isn't real, if there aren't any consequences, why does it matter?"
"It is real," Finn insists, interlacing their fingers. "This is real."
Poe pulls away, casting his eyes to the ground. "I don't even know anymore."
"What the hell, Poe?" Finn demands, pointing to his ring. "We're married."
"You know that was just a gesture," he says weakly. "So you could pass over."
"Just stop," Finn spits out. "Jesus, I don't get what you're so afraid of. It's not a trap, Poe. You can have your fun, if that's what you want, and leave when you're done, whenever you want. Just like that." He snaps his fingers. "Or you could have forever."
With me, Poe imagines him saying, and tries to fathom a forever, an infinity of neon lights and jukeboxes and purple twilight, pavements slicked with rain and perfect pink sunsets and the feeling of slipping away into a dream; just thinking about it makes him feel him dizzy,
"I'm not doing this," he says thickly, and turns away.
The clock is ticking, he knows, the pulse of it hammering in his chest. One moment he's getting up and stumbling away from Finn, the next Poe's bolting up in his hospital bed, blinking away the memory of the hurt in Finn's eyes.
The nurse removes his headpiece and asks him how his visit was, and all he can do is smile up at her, like it isn't taking everything he has, and lie through his teeth.
Leia visits him on Sunday in lieu of their usual pot roast dinner, handing him a Tupperware packed to the brim with oatmeal-raisin cookies. "Contraband," she says,, pressing a finger to her lips.
"Don't worry, I won't tell," he assures her, chewing gratefully. "So, what's new with you?"
"I've been trying to get solar panels on my roof," Leia says, wrinkling her nose, and drops into the chair besides his bed. "It's been a real pain in the ass."
"Sounds thrilling," Poe laughs. "Definitely more excitement than I've had all week."
"Well, at least you have your happy place," Leia says, and hesitates. "How's Han?"
"He's alright. Same old with the Falcon."
"Wouldn't ever shut up about his 'plans' for thirty years and the first thing he does when he gets to heaven is open a goddamn bar," she grouses; it's not the first time Poe's heard her make the complaint.
"Just be glad he's not getting up to any trouble," Poe says. "Trust me, people do a whole lot worse there."
"So I've heard," Leia replies, before plastering on her best shit-eating grin— something she'd picked up from Han, over the years. "So...how's it going with your special someone?"
Poe shakes his head, failing to suppress a smile. "Why do I tell you anything?"
"An excellent question," Leia says briskly, before crossing her arms and looking at him expectantly. "Well…?"
"Let's just say there's trouble in paradise," Poe admits. "He...wants me to pass over."
Leia raises an eyebrow at him, her lips pursed; it's a familiar look, one that's made dozens of men braver than Poe quake in their boots. "So what's the problem?"
Poe falters. "Well, I don't know if I want to."
Leia heaves a sigh. "Poe, are you being stupid again?"
He barely stifles his laughter. "Is that even a question?"
"I was trying to be polite."
"I just...I don't know if it's what I want. You know how it is, with Luke and Han and whatever." Something occurs to Poe. "Did Han ever ask you what you thought?"
Leia snorts. "Honey, when has Han ever asked me my opinion on anything?"
"I guess you always just offered it anyway," he says, half-smiling, and Leia just shrugs.
They'd always fought, Poe knew; it sometimes got to the point where Ben had to stay with Luke for months at a time while his parents kicked and screamed, trying to pick up the pieces. Leia had once confessed to Poe that she blamed herself for what had happened with her and Ben, the divide between them.
Every time they fell apart, Poe privately wondered why they even bothered at all, why they both insisted on being so stubborn— they always found their way back to one another eventually, no matter how long it took.
Only, that last time, they were too late. Just after Han showed up on Leia's doorstep, five years after Ben stormed out, just as they were beginning to reconcile, Han found out he was sick and it all came crashing down.
"What did you think, though?" Poe asks her.
Leia considers this for a moment. "I didn't think much of it, I guess— it was all his choice. It made a lot of sense to me, really. Being old never suited him. As for Luke...well, you know him. He's always been old-fashioned. Superstitious."
"So you're no help at all," Poe groans, and buries his face in his hands. "Can you please just tell me what to do?"
"You're not five anymore, Poe," Leia laughs, patting him on the shoulder. "I think you're more than capable enough."
"I'm not. Seriously."
"Alright, then. Do you love him?"
Poe gapes at her. "What?"
"You heard me."
"Yes," Poe hears himself say. "I do."
It takes hearing it in his own voice to know that it's true. He misses Finn like a physical ache, he realizes, finds himself dreaming about the dimple in his cheek, the gleam of his skin in the lamplight, the cadence of his laughter.
"So if you really want to know what I think—"
"—I think you should get your head of your ass," Leia finishes. "Stop overthinking everything, Poe. Just trust yourself and go."
Poe slumps back into his pillows, and the nostalgia washes over him, bittersweet. "You sound just like my mom," he mumbles.
There's a twinkle in Leia's eyes. "She was a smart lady."
They sit in comfortable silence for a bit before Leia glances at her watch. "Well, I think I'll be heading out now. Jeopardy is starting soon." She leans over to tousle his hair, and kisses him on the forehead.
"Will I see you again?" Poe asks her, as she's slipping into her coat and gathering her things.
"We'll see," Leia sighs. "But I wouldn't worry about it too much — it's not happening anytime soon. You can't get rid of me that easily, Dameron."
He grins cheekily. "It was fun trying."
Just before she leaves, Poe calls out to her, and she glances back at him, cocking her head to the side.
"Han's waiting for you," Poe blurts out, before he can think better of it.
She only smiles at him, melancholy. "I know."
There's very little to say goodbye to, in the end; it feels like everything's been said, like he's ready to let go.
When Poe turns up in the middle of the day, Finn is ambling up and down the beach, picking through the mounds of sand for bits of seashell and coral, windswept and heartbreakingly lovely.
Poe just watches him fondly for a moment, drinking all the shapes and colors in, forcing himself to be patient. When he can't resist the temptation anymore, he jogs over and taps Finn on the shoulder, his heart racing.
When Finn whips around, startled, and sees him, his eyes go as wide as saucers.
"You're— you're—" he falters.
"I'm real," Poe says, and barely has time to brace himself before Finn tackles him.