Poe could see the way the newbie was looking around the base – there was something odd to him. Kid was younger than Poe, scruff thick on the face and dark hair a messy cut close-shaved on the sides. He wore partial armor, vambraces and shin guards that looked like Stormtrooper gear that’d been repurposed and retooled – not the usual cheap crap, either.
Battered. Used. Any finish it had once had was gone and buffed off with use.
Shoddy. Most folks who bothered to get their hands on ‘trooper gear tried hard to keep it clean. That was half the point, after all. ‘I’m good enough to keep it shiny’ was a proud, defiant statement that mostly left Poe feeling tired at the idealism and enthusiasm.
Kid was staring around, and there was a funny contradiction. On the one hand, it was like the kid was familiar with military facilities, but on the other, the kid looked totally lost. Military brat, maybe? At his first posting?
Looked a little sad, too. Poe sauntered over, smiling as the kid turned. Ok, yeah, definitely some kind of military brat. Watching his surroundings enough to tell Poe was heading his way, and standing a little on guard but not enough to offend a non-hostile – probably a kid from the boonies.
“Hey, you look like a new face.”
Kid’s smile was a flicker that didn’t quite reach his eyes. “Yeah. I’m looking for Medical.”
Poe winced. “Oh that doesn’t sound good. C’mon, I’ll show you.”
By the time they reached Medical, Poe had Kix’s name, but the kid didn’t want to talk about anything else.
He hadn’t thought that the kid was the new medic they’d been expecting. Poe lingered, since the new guy had been brought in to help Finn. Was supposed to be some kind of specialist, but he looked so damn young.
Then Poe saw Kix’s eyes when the medic on shift introduced him to Finn. There was something old, too damn old and too damn hurt to that man’s eyes.
Not a kid.
With eyes like that, maybe never a kid.
Poe ran into Kix a lot since they were the two people most found around Finn. After about a week of keeping to himself when it didn’t involve being in Medical, Kix stopped trying to escape when Poe made a gamble to join him for the occasional meal. When Kix sassed him over injuries Poe got from a mission that went awry, he considered it a solid victory. The day Kix started asking Poe about General Organa, he felt like he just might be able to fly without an X-Wing.
It was downright weird that when Poe finally stopped talking, Kix just nodded, spinning his protein cube on a fork. Poe had heard a lot of things in response to his choruses of praise to the General, but it was a first when Kix glanced up and asked, “Is it true she’s General Skywalker’s daughter?”
Oh boy. That…didn’t come up much, and it was a prickly subject. Poe stared down at his mug of kaf, turning it slowly until the handle had done a full 180. It sounded like the obsessive rhetoric that the First Order so loved, but his instincts said that Kix would have none of that shit – while it was possible he was really good at covering himself, double agent was unlikely. “She was raised by the Organas, and–”
Kix waved that off. “I know. But biologically, she’s Anakin Skywalker’s kid?”
He was surprised that Kix looked so…stricken. Grieving, but the kind of grief that comes with old, burning joy that will never overcome whatever had caused the hurt. “Force. He’d’ve been so proud.”
“Who, Skywalker?” Poe knew he was a sight, brows trying to climb up into his hair. That…was not First Order propaganda. That was just weird.
Kix blinked and looked back at Poe, coming back from whatever mental place he’d been with only the hint of tears in his eyes. There was a moment where Kix weighed him, and he was quietly honored that he wasn’t found wanting. “Yeah. Him and Amidala both.”
Since Poe felt he had some kind of understanding about Kix, he started poking around old holos and war footage from the old Republic days. A lot of archives and historical data had been tinkered with during the Empire, so Poe hadn’t paid that much attention over the years.
Turned out Anakin Skywalker was almost as impressive as the General, at least in some respects. Kix didn’t have much to contribute when Poe started asking his opinion on old Clone Wars battles, but the look of perpetual amusement in the man’s eyes kept Poe talking.
Then one day Kix jerked upright and glared at Poe, who paused mid gesture. “What?”
“That’s – where are you getting this bullshit? That wasn’t General Skywalker, that was Kenobi all the way!” Kix seemed to realize what he was saying, and that funny look crossed his face again. He excused himself brusquely, ducking out of the mess hall like he had stormtroopers on his heels.
He was also very right, but that took some digging on Poe’s part.
The intriguing mystery only made him wonder more.
Poe was off-shift when Finn woke up, and Poe couldn’t swear why he ambled down into Medical at such an odd time. Privately, he decided it was the Force. To walk in and see Kix bending over Finn, taking vitals only to have Finn reach out, slow and agonizing but oh so clearly to try to stop the stranger in his personal space – it was enough to make Poe want to cry. Relief, more grief, he wasn’t sure, but didn’t matter. He was striding forward, listening to Kix murmur reassurances in a language that he didn’t recognize.
Finn did, though, and the look of wonder on his face meant Poe was in fact crying when he reached his friend’s side.
“Hey buddy. Glad to see you’re awake.”
Awake, and smiling the biggest, brightest grin Poe had ever seen in Medical.
Poe never had a chance to ask about the language, but hours later, when Finn woke up again, Poe was there. Kix had been ordered to go sleep by medics more senior than him, and then sedated by medics sneakier than him – though it had taken a concentrated effort by four different beings.
Finn just stared at him for a long moment, then smiled. “Had the weirdest dream,” he muttered – Kix wasn’t the only one on really good drugs.
“Yeah. Clone trooper told me it was time for me to get back into the action.” Finn’s smile turned soft, wondering. “Kept calling me vod’ika.”
…oh. Oh, Force. “Yeah?” Poe was trying really hard to keep his tone casual. “What’s that mean?”
“Little brother.” Finn’s grin turned a hair grumpy. “Could do without the little part, though.”
Oh wow. Poe had blown off the resemblance as coincidence, but – what if? “That’s a good thing, right?”
The grumpy disappeared. “Oh, yeah. The clonetroopers, they were everything we were expected to be.” Then the smile faded. “I mean, I know the First Order’s – I like having a name – ” Finn got the stubborn look, and Force help them all, grinned. “Ok, so maybe they weren’t the most model citizens, but I think it was a good thing. It was a good dream.”
Poe spent a moment chewing on Kix’s competence, the utter professionalism combined with a sense of humor that meant some of the base’s practical jokers were losing the occasional battle without ever knowing who was their foe. The armor Kix wore, battered and scuffed like it had seen a war, but Poe had seen him caring for it, spending as much time and care on maintenance as Poe did for his X-Wing. “I dunno, buddy. Wouldn’t hurt to look into some history holos and see what the non-propaganda has to say. Those clones might be pretty cool.”
Within a rotation of getting Finn some history holos, Poe had Kix giving him sideways looks, Finn was treating Kix like – well, like how Poe treated the General, so he couldn’t really complain – and the General was going around with the amused, long-suffering look she had whenever otherwise sensible adults developed hero-crushes on someone on base.
By the time Rey got back with Master Skywalker, things had settled down to Finn, Poe, and Kix being friends – Kix not nearly as, ah, friendly as Poe and Finn were with each other, so to speak – without the awkward.
The awkward came back the instant Rey and Master Skywalker exited the Millennium Falcon. Kix took one look at Rey, and his face went blank the way it did when he was trying to not show some extreme emotion – usually something to do with his past. Then he looked beyond her, at Master Skywalker.
Poe had to wonder, as Finn and Rey gushed at each other, words tumbling over each other like tussling puppies. That look was longing, wonder, not quite joy –
and it was clear Master Skywalker noticed it too. He walked over to Kix, his expression solemn yet curious. “Do I know you?”
“No, sir,” Kix said, voice soft and wobbling just a hair. “I served with your father, though.”
Master Skywalker’s expression was priceless. Confusion, then some warm memory chased by grief. “During the Clone Wa–” He broke off, his eyes going wide.
Kix stood straighter, smiling a little. “CT-6116, Medic Kix of the 501st. Torrent Company. I know you’re not the Skywalker I served with, but it’s an honor to meet you.”
Master Skywalker looked bemused. “I didn’t ever think I’d have a chance to talk with someone who knew him before the war ended. I’d love to trade stories, but….” The humor faded back into grief. “I need to talk to the local General first.” Skywalker looked off towards General Organa’s likely location, in the center of the base’s headquarters. “I think she’ll let me off with only a slight mauling for everything – and I probably deserve it.”
“I can take you to her,” Kix offered, then he grinned. The grief mingled into the smile matching Luke’s. “I’ll protect you, sir.”