"Why didn't we just land the Falcon up there?" Finn panted. They were halfway up the Jedi steps, the four of them carrying all the supplies they'd need for a few days at the temple.
"Too windy up there, the updrafts are murder." Rey carried the tree cuttings in their stasis pods in addition to the supplies on her back. "Besides, look at this view." She gestured out over the vast expanse of water, distant islands dotting the horizon.
"This climb is murder," Finn muttered.
The island felt different this time, but Rey knew it was because she was the one who had changed.
After months of training with Luke, she could feel the power contained in this place, see it almost, radiating out from the ancient stone. It sank through her skin into her bones.
Luke led the way up ahead, and Poe brought up the rear. Watching him say goodbye to Kes had been difficult. As much as she'd tried to block it, she couldn't miss the waves of worry coming from him as the two men had hugged. She wished she had some way to reassure him, but what did she know of parents?
They were quiet most of the climb up, except when Poe decided to start serenading them all with Yavin drinking songs that got more and more ridiculous until he couldn't sing for laughing breathlessly.
By the time they reached the top, it was close to dusk. Although the temple was in ruins, there were still corners strong enough to serve as temporary shelter for the night. Poe offered to make dinner, and Luke wandered off who knew where. Rey and Finn went exploring before it got dark, their hands linked.
They found a spot to sit and watch the setting sun, huddled together against the sea wind. Ever since she'd kissed him, Rey found it more and more difficult to relax and be comfortable in Finn's arms. That first night she'd tried to sleep next to him again, but instead lay awake, afraid to snuggle, overwhelmed by her own feelings.
All she could think was that she wanted to kiss him again. "Finn?"
"Hm?" He looked down at her, and something in her chest squeezed almost painfully. She tilted her head up to him and that must have been enough, because he leaned down and met her halfway.
He kissed her slowly, but each tiny movement sent a spark spiraling down her body, the full softness of his mouth caressing hers. It made her want to cry, to laugh, it tore through her uncertainties and her fears of losing control. It was like dancing on the edge of a cliff and daring gravity to do its worst.
And then he parted his lips and the tip of his tongue touched her mouth. It was almost instinct that made her open her own mouth in return, gasping as their tongues touched. The sparks turned into tiny embers burning through her skin, tingling and twinging through every part of her. This was desire, and she was equal parts intrigued and terrified. She recognized a small irrational corner of her brain that would gladly do anything to chase this feeling, to satisfy it. Here was the loss of control she feared; this feeling seemed big enough to tear apart the universe.
His arms tightened around her like he was trying to hold her together even while his mouth was breaking her down into atoms. Finally they parted, and he rested his forehead against hers. Finn drew a breath. "That was—"
"Yeah," she agreed. Her face was flushed, he must be able to feel her skin burning against his.
"I thought... you weren't interested in this. Are you sure you're okay?"
Rey took a moment to think about her answer, seriously think about it. "I feel safe with you. Even when I'm scared. So, yes."
"I don't want you to be afraid of me." Finn kissed her again, carefully and gently.
"Not of you, of... this. You make me feel so much."
He smiled down at her and she couldn't help but smile in return. "You make me feel a lot too."
Rey glanced away, still smiling. "So... we'll go slow and see what happens?"
Finn kissed her cheek. "You're the boss."
Faintly, the wind carried the sound of Poe calling their names. "Dinner must be ready," Rey said.
Finn stood up and offered her his hands, pulling her up as if she weighed nothing.
That night, she was able to sleep peacefully curled up against him. The nightmare about the tree came again, even more vivid, only this time she could see the bleeding bodies at the base of the tree. Before she could get close enough to see who they were, she jerked awake.
Finn was sleeping stiff and straight on his back again, but Rey curled against him, and he relaxed enough to wrap one arm around her. That was enough.
She woke with the daylight to see Luke already up and outside the temple, moving through a series of lightsaber forms so fast she could barely follow him with her eyes. He stopped when he saw her watching, and motioned her over, brandishing his lightsaber.
He didn't spar with her often; in the beginning they had spent most of their time focused on the more internal aspects of training. After he'd taught her the forms, her opponent was the training remote more often than not.
Rey grabbed her weapon and stretched briefly, working out the kinks from sleeping on the ground. "No fair, you're warmed up."
Luke grinned at her. "Nothing about this is going to be a fair fight."
"Oh ho, that's how we're playing this?" Rey ignited her lightsaber and got into position. She didn't see the playful side of her teacher nearly often enough. She could feel the Force coursing through her stronger than ever here and no doubt he did too.
Luke went easy on her at first, attacking with easily countered slashes—giving her a chance to warm up. She pressed the attack and he came back at her harder, their sabers crackling and flashing in the early morning light. Rey struggled to remember the forms, to keep her weapon as an extension of her awareness, to let it work through her. Dimly she grew aware that Finn and Poe were awake and standing to the side, watching.
That distraction cost her. She lost ground as he pushed her back farther and farther until a ruined wall was nearly at her back. Looking for an out, Rey saw only one option. It was something she hadn't tried before but...
The only direction to go was up. Rey let the Force flow freely through and around her and leapt. Years of practice climbing served her well; she was able to kick away from the ruined wall and fly over Luke's head, somersaulting to block his mid-air attack before landing on her feet behind him.
Finn and Poe cheered and whooped as she pressed her advantage, and in a moment, it was Luke with his back to the wall. "I yield," he laughed, powering down his lightsaber and raising his hands. "Well done, Rey."
She glowed at the words.
"She flew! She flew over him!" Finn had Poe by the shoulder and was shaking him a little. "Did you see that?"
"I saw it." Poe caught her eye and winked before giving his attention back to Finn. "She's amazing."
"You're damn right she's amazing. Whoo!" Finn turned to Rey, his face alight with joy. "You're amazing!"
Rey laughed, fidgeting at being the center of attention. It was inevitable on D'Qar, where being Luke's student made her an oddity, but not here, not with her—family.
The word didn't hurt the way it normally did, punctuated by the memory of her cries to come back. This was her family now. Maybe she would never know what happened to her birth family: why they left her, why they never came back. But Maz Kanata had been right. Her belonging was here, right here, with these three men.
Rey ran to Poe and Finn and threw her arms around both of them. Laughing, they hoisted her onto their shoulders and carried her around the training field in a victory lap, and she couldn't stop giggling. A little embarrassed, she looked to Luke to find him standing in the same place, watching the three of them with a quiet little smile on his face.
When the boys finally put her back down, she went to Luke. He said, "Don't get cocky, kid," and she heard the echoes back through time and knew they were thinking of the same person.
"I've got you to keep me in line," she said.
"And keep you busy." His demeanor shifted, becoming more business-like. "We have some trees to plant."
They left Finn and Poe behind to climb still higher above the temple ruins. The wind was sharper the higher they went. Finally they reached the top and Rey found a circle of standing stones, weathered and chipped. Some of them had fallen over, but pattern was there.
When she stepped into the center of the circle, a strange thing happened. There was no more wind, gone as if she had stepped into a building. An eerie quiet surrounded her, and a feeling of the Force pouring up through her feet and through the air around her. It was the feeling of the island itself, only concentrated and intensified.
"How...?" She looked back to Luke, who set down the bag of supplies for planting.
"I don't know how, but I think here's the right place for these trees, don't you?"
"Well I was worried about the wind at first but... yeah." She put down the stasis pods.
They quickly agreed on the right spots for the three cuttings. While they worked to dig the first hole, Luke said, "Eventually, we could rebuild here."
"Rebuild the temple?"
"The temple, a school. Another academy." He paused, looking off into some distance only he could see. "I tried to go too fast last time. I pushed the students. I pushed Ben." He glanced over at her. "I wanted to rebuild the Jedi within a single generation. My pride cost my sister first her son, then her husband. And cost the Resistance one of its most powerful potential allies."
"Is he very powerful?" Rey didn't think about that fight often, except in her dreams. Deep down she knew that was a fight she shouldn't have won, and trying to figure out why she had left her feeling uneasy.
Luke sat back from the hole they were digging, knocking the dirt from his hand and shovel. "Yes, and no. Ben was immensely strong with the Force, but impulsive, impatient. When he left, his training was nowhere near complete. I doubt whatever training he's received since has been adequate. And I doubt even he understands what his potential could have been." He fell quiet, then shook himself. "His potential doesn't matter now, yours does. You're stronger than he is, Rey, and I suspect he knows that. So you and I, we'll work together. When you're ready, you'll take on a student of your own, and so we'll rebuild the Jedi Order."
Together they lowered the first cutting into place. "I can't imagine teaching anyone," Rey laughed. "I barely understand any of this."
"You will though." Luke's eyes seemed to pierce through her. "You'll know when the time is right. And when it is, no one will be able to stand in your way."
"What do you suppose is up there?" Poe looked up the ridge where Rey and Luke had gone with the tree cuttings.
Finn came up behind him and snuck his arms around Poe's waist. "I'm more interested in how long they might be gone." He nuzzled Poe's ear, making him squirm.
Poe laughed and tilted his ear away from Finn's searching mouth. "Hey, aren't we supposed to be setting up camp, putting up the shelters right now?"
"We can set one up." With Poe's ear out of reach, Finn started kissing his neck instead.
Poe was quickly losing interest in being responsible. They'd had hardly a minute alone since that night in the hangar, and here on Ahch-To privacy was nearly non-existent. He turned around in Finn's arms and was lost the moment their lips touched. They seemed so perfectly matched, literally seeing eye to eye—at least when their eyes weren't closed.
Finn's mouth against his was warm enough to drive away the morning's chill, and he only got warmer still when Finn's hands started to roam over his body. This boldness was something new and a little unexpected, but he wasn't complaining. He broke the kiss when Finn cupped his ass. "Maybe we should stop standing out in the open, hm?"
"Good idea." Rather than setting up a shelter, they wound up on Poe's bedroll from the night before. Once they were lying down, Finn got a little shyer again, with just a hint of hesitation in his kisses.
"Okay?" Poe asked.
"Yeah." His grin was slow but brilliant. "I wanna try something."
Poe pulled him down to kiss that smiling, glorious mouth. "You can try anything you want, I'm all yours." Then as if to prove his words, he lay back and put his hands behind his head. Finn swarmed over him, crouching over him and kissing him hungrily, as if permission were all he'd needed.
"Sorry, I think my hands are cold," Finn muttered just before sliding them under Poe's shirt. They were, but having Finn here, so eager, more than made up for it. They'd warm soon enough.
And Finn was eager, Poe could feel him, hard against Poe's thigh already, just from a few kisses and touches. He shifted his thigh against Finn, just to hear him gasp. Definitely eager. It was catching, judging by the way his own body responded. Then those chilly fingers tentatively found their way to Poe's nipple, and he was the one gasping. "Oh. Cold isn't bad. I like cold."
Finn left icy trails over his chest and belly that faded with his body heat, and before long Finn's hands were warm against his skin just as his lips were warm against Poe's lips, his cheek, his neck—and then Finn was inching lower. Oh. That something.
Poe reached down to rest a hand on the back of Finn's head as he kissed his way down Poe's belly. When he reached Poe's waistband, Finn looked up at him—for permission? Reassurance?
"Anything you want," Poe repeated, cupping his cheek. He didn't think he'd ever get tired of Finn's eyes, soft and brown and lit from within with all the goodness in him. Then Finn smiled crookedly and Poe realized just how far gone he was.
After a careful glance over his shoulder, no doubt to make sure Rey and Luke were still gone, Finn started slowly unfastening Poe's pants. Poe bit his lower lip, lifting his hips to let Finn finish the job of taking them off.
As he watched, Finn blinked several times, running his hands up Poe's exposed thighs. He looked awed, and the look went straight to Poe's heart.
Finn was a fast learner. After a few tentative touches, he leaned over Poe and traced the shape of him with his tongue before taking him into his mouth, which was shockingly warm after the outside air.
Poe pressed a hand over his mouth to keep in the groan, but he couldn't resist arching his hips up. He wanted to watch, to keep his eyes open, but he couldn't, it was too much. It had been a long time since he'd done this with anything more than friendly intent, with so much of his heart already involved. He closed his eyes, but in his mind he could still see Finn, picturing the sweetness of his smile.
Meanwhile Finn's mouth stayed warm and soft and perfect and his hands seemed determined to find the most sensitive spots of Poe's body. Any clumsiness due to Finn's inexperience was irrelevant to Poe, who had to work increasingly harder to stay quiet as he writhed on his blankets.
It was a fight he lost in the end, and by the time he climaxed he didn't care if people heard him on D'Qar. His entire body glowed with heat like he was going supernova. Finn crawled up beside him and draped over him, nuzzling at his ear.
"How'd I do?" Finn asked, but he was grinning.
Despite being sated—for now—Poe wanted. He wanted to get back to D'Qar, where they could have privacy and a proper bed and oh, time. Time for a million things Poe wanted to share with him, in bed and out of it. But for now, he could still feel how hard Finn was, pressed against his bare leg.
Finn gasped gratifyingly when Poe reached for him. He was still wearing his pants and that just wasn't acceptable. Poe took care of that quickly and pulled Finn closer. "Come here."
Poe settled Finn on top of him, reaching with one hand to pull him down for a kiss, while his other guided Finn where he wanted him, tucked in the heat between his thighs.
"That's…" Finn breathed, closing his eyes.
Pressed belly-to-belly they started to move together, Finn sliding against Poe's skin until they were both slick and heated. Poe kissed away every gasp and cry Finn made, wanting to keep them for himself.
Finn buried his face against Poe's neck and froze, overcome by the force of his climax. Poe spared a rueful thought for the blankets beneath him before cradling Finn in his arms as he came back to the here and now.
"I keep thinking you can't get more amazing, and you do anyway," Finn murmured.
"Your fault for being irresistible," Poe teased.
"I am not irresistible."
"Yes you are, just ask—" Something on Finn's face made him stop.
"Not irresistible," Finn repeated and kissed him gently. "But you are amazing."
Finn settled against him, curled in his arms. Poe couldn't settle as easily. Should he ask? Finn didn't seem especially bothered, and it really wasn't any of his business what Finn and Rey did. But at the same time, if Finn was frustrated with Rey, it would explain why he'd been so quick to—
No. Finn wouldn't do that. Poe pressed a kiss to the top of Finn's head. It did remind him how different their lives had been, and how much older he was. Maybe he was too old for this. For them. But lying here now, with Finn in his arms, the last thing he wanted was to think and worry about doing the right thing. He was just selfish enough for that.
They didn't have long to cuddle, but Finn tried to make it last as long as he could. He was, he had decided, the luckiest man in the galaxy. When he was stuck on the Finalizer, he'd watched the officers, looking at how they interacted with each other. Officer romance was a popular topic of gossip among the stormtroopers. Most of them put up a front of disdain, mocking the emotional weakness of anyone who wasn't a stormtrooper. Finn wondered now how many of them, like him, watched the officers fall in love, fall out of love, fall in love again, and wondered what it would be like. Wondered what a connection to another living soul might be.
Finn didn't have to wonder anymore. He'd found not just one, but two people to love. He nuzzled at Poe's hair and tried not to worry that it was all some sort of clerical error on the part of the galaxy.
"Hey," Poe murmured, sounding a little sleepy. "We should get those shelters up."
The shelters were up just before Rey and Luke came back down the ridge. Rey was luminous, her eyes on fire with whatever had happened up there. She took Finn's breath away. He glanced over at Poe to see what he thought. Poe wasn't looking at Rey, he was looking at him, and Finn caught the strangest, saddest look on Poe's face. He raised his eyebrow in concern, but the look vanished, replaced with a smile.
Finn had no time to press further. They got caught up in finishing the camp set up, while Rey told them about planting the trees. She turned to Luke. "Can we take them up there later to show them?"
Luke smiled at her. "You can, but they won't feel what you do up there."
"Oh." She was crestfallen.
Poe came to her rescue, throwing his arm around her shoulders. "I wanna see what you did with my tree anyway."
"Your tree?" Rey laughed and gave him a little shove. "How is it yours?"
Unfazed, Poe kept up the charm offensive. "I grew up under that tree! Used to climb it every day, had my first kiss there, had my first—well, never mind that. It's as much my tree as anybody's."
Rey's ears were adorably pink. "Okay fine. We'll go up there later."
She kept her word, and after they'd eaten dinner she led Finn and Poe up the rocky cliffside. A few times Finn worried he was going to get blown off the side of the cliff, but Rey climbed like a natural and showed them the easiest paths. Luke must have been tougher than he looked to make the trip.
They reached the top, and she showed them the circle of stones, and the three tiny seedlings now growing in the soil. Luke was right, Finn didn't feel anything different here at all, unless it was the feeling he got looking at Rey. She was so in her element here. It was hard not to look at her like a—like a goddess.
Poe made a show of inspecting the tiny trees and nodding his approval. "Just one question, how come the wind stopped?"
"It's the stones," Rey said. "Something about the way they channel the Force up here." She spun in place, her head back. "Neither of you can feel that?"
Poe shrugged. "It's almost like… the air's a little warmer?"
Finn looked at him wide-eyed. "Really? You can feel it?"
"My mom always said the best pilots have at least a little bit of the Force on their side."
Rey came over to Finn and took his hand, and motioned Poe over to take the other. "Close your eyes, Finn," she said. "Just let your mind drift. What do you feel?"
At first, he felt their hands in his, the sweet warmth of connection, of belonging.
It felt good. Peaceful. A low hum started to vibrate under his feet, just below the threshold of his hearing. It surrounded him, slowly getting a little louder like something coming closer.
The ocean in front of him disappears, replaced by dark skies punctuated by red blaster bolts. The ground shifts, and he is running, running as hard as he ever has in his life.
He's too late, much too late. There are bodies on the ground and a black figure turns, waving the crackling red lightsaber he still sees in his nightmares, in the scars he bears.
"Get away from them!" Rage, so much rage flowing through him. It's dark and he can smell smoke from a massive fire, it's how the world smelled on Jakku when the village burned. Everything is red and orange and black and all he can do is scream…
That wasn't Rey's voice or Poe's voice. It was Luke's voice. Inside his head.
He gasped and opened his eyes. He was on his knees in the center of the standing stones, Rey and Poe each crouched beside him.
Rey was staring at him. "You felt that, right?"
"I—what was that?"
Poe looked between the two of them, shaking his head. "I didn't feel anything. You just… crumpled."
A slightly breathless Luke came up the steep path, and his attention zeroed in on Finn. "That's impossible…" he muttered, as if to himself, coming closer.
"What happened?" Rey asked. "Is he all right?"
Finn's head was spinning. Everything was too loud around him. The hum he thought he'd heard before was a roar, like being too close to a ship's engine just before lift-off.
Luke crouched next to him, his hand hovering just over Finn's forehead. "How do you feel, Finn?" His tone of voice was carefully measured, not asking him if he were ill, but asking something deeper.
"It's loud," Finn said, then realized he was trying to shout over the noise in his head. His heart was racing out of control and the world felt a thousand times bigger.
"It will get better."
"What is it?"
Luke sat back on his haunches, and looked up at Rey. "I knew when you found the lightsaber," he said. "I felt it. Felt your mind, like you'd been asleep on Jakku for years. Dormant and waiting. That was the start for you."
Finn waited for him to make sense.
It didn't happen.
"Finn," Luke went on, "I don't know how, or why. But I felt the same thing from you, just now."
Poe stood and took a step back. "Wait wait wait. Are you saying Finn's a Jedi now?"
"No." Luke wore a shrewd grin as he looked at Finn. "Not yet. But if he wanted to be…"
"But I'm nobody," Finn blurted.
"So was I." Rey squeezed his shoulder.
"I was just another farmboy," Luke added. "For whatever reason, you and Rey had your potential blocked at an early age. With you, that's not so hard to fathom. Taken by the First Order so young, going through their conditioning." His eyes hardened at his words. "I imagine we lost many young minds to them."
"But… what do I do?" Finn looked between Rey and Poe, unable to face looking at Luke Skywalker, of all people, just now.
"You can train with me!" Rey grabbed his arms, her smile blinding.
Poe's smile was tight around the edges, but he held out his hand to help Poe up. "Sounds like you can do whatever you want to, buddy."
Why was that so terrifying?