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Two days post-Scarif

 

There were so many others in the medbay. Baze’s eyes caught and snagged on Bodhi, his right forearm ending in a white swathe of bandages just above his elbow, stark and snowy against his skin. His forehead was knitted, eyes closed—in the grip of another nightmare, it seemed. Beside him, Cassian stirred, reaching up to catch Bodhi’s hand. He pulled it to his face, pressed his cheek into the palm, murmured soft words in a language Baze didn’t speak.

Bodhi stilled, face sliding toward something like peace as he turned into Cassian’s touch. Cassian had a sling on his left arm, pinning it to his chest, and there was blood on his trousers. He’d allowed the nurses to bandage his wounds but had refused to leave Bodhi’s side for even an instant.

“He saved us,” he’d said thickly, holding Bodhi’s hand as a medic cleaned a cut on his forehead. “It was possible because—he did it. I’m not—no, I won’t leave him!”

“Let him be,” Baze had said, and the medics had stopped trying to dislodge Cassian from his seat.

Jyn was a few beds down, between Melshi and Tonc. She had some broken ribs, but had probably escaped with the fewest injuries.

“You should have let me die.” The voice was taut, thin with anger, but Baze would know it anywhere. He’d heard it in every incarnation, after all—stretched with terror, lazy with love, slurred with sleep. He’d heard the pain, the grief, the doubt that shivered through it when they were alone, when no one else could bear witness.

Baze closed his eyes briefly and then looked up. Chirrut was balancing on crutches at the end of the bed. There was a bandage on his forehead, more covering his bare torso, and tears—Baze’s heart stuttered in his chest. Tears ran down Chirrut’s face unheeded as he stood and waited for Baze’s reply.

“Come here,” Baze finally said.

Chirrut shook his head. “No.”

Baze held out a hand, even though Chirrut couldn’t see it. “Please,” he managed.

Chirrut’s face crumpled and he swayed on his crutches, but he shook his head again and turned away, crutching with a tenth of his usual grace back down the medbay to his bed on the other side of the room.

He’d asked to be put there, as far away from Baze as he could get.

Baze had been shot in the leg. He’d sustained severe damage to his torso from the grenade blast that nearly killed him as he dragged Chirrut’s limp, unresisting body back to the ship. He’d lost most of the mobility in his left shoulder and would never be able to lift what remained of his left arm over his head again.

And none of it hurt as much as Chirrut’s avoidance.

“He’ll come around,” Cassian said softly.

Baze closed his eyes and let his head fall back against the pillow.

 

Two weeks post-Scarif

 

It had been two weeks since the Rebel forces had scooped them off the beach in front of the Death Star’s ray. Two weeks of healing, of bacta tanks and wraps, agonizing physical therapy, and accustoming themselves to the reality they now faced.

Leia had gotten the plans away from Vader. The Rebellion had a chance. The Rogue One team were heroes, people standing when they entered rooms, offering food, beverages, even occasionally bed partners.

Baze ignored it all. The only thing he wanted was to speak to Chirrut.

But Chirrut was avoiding him. Even slowed by his crutches, he was fast and slippery, ducking down hallways and around corners when Baze got too close. Once he’d healed enough that he didn’t need the crutches, getting close to him was impossible.

Baze was getting desperate. He’d been cleared for light activity, told sternly by Mon Mothma to take things slow. He took walks around the base, pretending he wasn’t looking for Chirrut, that he was just exploring his new surroundings.

Chirrut had requested separate rooms, and when Baze heard that, he’d had to put a hand on the wall, take slow, shallow breaths around the pain in his heart.

Finally, Baze turned to Jyn for help.

“He likes you,” he told her. “I need you to get him to agree to talk to me.”

Jyn raised an eyebrow. “What makes you think I can help? And why should I?”

“Because a piece of me was left in the sand on Scarif, and I'm not talking about my arm,” Baze said, driven past desperation into bluntness. “Please, little sister.”

Jyn sagged and sighed. “I can’t,” she said, her voice heavy with regret. “I’ve tried, Baze, before you even came to me, I did try. But he won’t—I can’t get him to even say your name. He told me I’m forbidden to speak of you to him.”

Baze’s lips felt numb. Jyn’s lips were moving but he couldn’t hear past the buzzing in his ears.

Jyn took his arm. “Baze. Baze, snap out of it!”

Baze shook his head. His ears popped and his hearing cleared. “Sorry,” he said faintly. “Thank you for trying.”

“But like I was saying,” Jyn continued, “I know where he’ll be.”

“You… what?”

Jyn smiled, sorrow in her grey eyes. “It’s not right, the two of you separated. You belong together. This is hurting him as much as it is you, and I hate seeing it.”

Baze shook this off impatiently. “You said you knew where he’d be.”

“Yes,” Jyn said.

 

And so Baze found himself on the top tier of one of the abandoned temples that dotted the surface of the jungle surrounding their base on Yavin 4.

The evening was hot and thick, sweet with night-blooming flowers and wet on his skin as he climbed the last few steps, slippery with moss under his boots. He could see tracks from Chirrut’s slippers, evidence that he’d been here before, and Baze followed the footprints around the side of the pyramid.

He stopped at the sight of Chirrut kneeling, forehead pressed to the mossy stone in obeisance as he prayed.

Baze settled on his heels a few yards away and waited, watching his lover work through the long-form prayers.

He’d missed this more than he’d realized, being the silent sentinel while Chirrut devoted himself to the Force. He traced along the lines of Chirrut’s muscular back with his eyes, memorizing once more the dip and curve of his spine through the fine linen of his shirt. Baze had laid his lips along each vertebra, working his way up to the back of Chirrut’s neck with infinite patience as he whispered devotion against Chirrut’s skin.

Chirrut rolled upright, hands on his knees and head tilted back, exposing his long throat. His lips moved, and Baze’s heart ached yet again.

When Chirrut stood and turned, Baze was ready, on his feet and waiting.

He knew Chirrut had known he was there before he gained the top of the terrace. He also knew nothing short of heavy artillery would stop Chirrut in the middle of his evening prayers. He’d been counting on it.

“I just have one question,” he said.

Chirrut flinched at his voice and picked up his staff, gripping it as if it were a life preserver and he was drowning.

“One question,” Baze said. “Answer it honestly, and I’ll leave you alone for the rest of your life if that’s what you want.”

Chirrut tipped his chin up in that way he had, clinging to his defiance. “Ask it.”

“Have you stopped loving me?” Baze managed. The words scraped his throat as he said them, leaving him bleeding and raw, waiting for Chirrut to finish the job.

Chirrut’s mouth—his mouth, his beautiful mouth, lush lips that smile so easily, fall slack when I touch him—wobbled.

“You promised me,” Baze said through the grief threatening to drag him under. “You promised you’d never lie to me. No matter what.”

No matter what. Chirrut’s hands were soft, unscarred and long with lanky adolescence as he slipped the garland over Baze’s head and laughed at Baze’s unamused expression.

I’ll never lie to you, he’d whispered just before he’d kissed him.

“Answer me!” Baze said.

Chirrut drew his shoulders back. Set his jaw. Gripped the staff, knuckles white on the wood.

“This was—” He caught his breath, firmed his mouth, and continued. “I did this—for you.”

“This?” Baze asked, gesturing uselessly. “This? Leaving me to heal on my own? Making me wake up in an empty bed? Reaching for you a thousand—a million—times a day and you’re not there? You did that for me? Allow me to thank you, then, Chirrut Îmwe, all-knowing and all-seeing one, because surely this is exactly what I wanted, my heart being ripped in two every day in slow motion knowing I can’t touch you, I can’t hold you, I can’t have your hands on my face again, I can’t—” The sob ripped free before he could stop it and Baze covered his face, unable to staunch the tears that overwhelmed him.

He went to his knees, face still in his good hand, and only dimly heard the clatter of Chirrut’s staff as he dropped it.

But then Chirrut was there, cupping Baze’s face in both his warm palms, whispering to him as he wiped away the tears that continued to fall.

“Don’t,” Chirrut begged. “Don’t cry because of me, Baze. Please. Please.”

Baze hiccupped and reached out, catching a handful of the back of Chirrut’s shirt and pulling him close. He pressed his face to the crook of Chirrut’s neck, smelling sweat and caf and flowers, and held on.

When he finally fell silent, Chirrut didn’t immediately speak. He was detangling strands of Baze's hair, gently smoothing the locks with unhesitating hands.

“You haven’t answered me,” Baze said, lifting his head.

In reply, Chirrut ran his hands down the stump of Baze’s left arm, careful not to jar it as he lifted it up in front of Baze’s eyes.

There were tears on his face too. “You should have let me die,” he repeated.

Baze stared at him. “You think—you think because I lost an arm, that somehow that means I don’t love you anymore? Or I shouldn’t love you anymore?”

Chirrut shook his head, mouth working. “You lost it—because of me. Because I followed Jyn out of Jedha. I encouraged her to listen to her heart. I wanted to fight. I went across the sand to flip the master switch. I, I, I, don’t you see, Baze? You only ever wanted to be with me. And what has it brought you? Pain. Pain and heartache and loss too great to be borne, all because of me.” He was crying in earnest now, tears slipping down his cheeks in silver rivulets from his milky blue eyes, and Baze had to close his own eyes and take a steadying breath.

“Chirrut,” he said. “If we hadn’t followed Jyn, we’d have died on Jedha. Nothing could have stopped the Death Star then. We’d be so many particles in the breeze if you hadn’t listened to the Force.”

Chirrut sniffed and wiped his face on his sleeve.

Encouraged, Baze touched Chirrut’s cheek, damp with tears. “I wanted to fight, too. I hate the Empire, you know this. I wanted to burn them down, make them pay. You don’t get to take all the blame for this yourself.”

“But, the sand,” Chirrut whispered. “The—explosion. You almost died. Because—”

“I didn’t,” Baze interrupted. “But Chirrut—” He drew a breath. “I know what you’re doing, I know you’re trying to ‘save me’, but beloved—” He closed his eyes briefly. “I would rather have died on that beach with you than live another day without you.”

Chirrut’s face crumpled and he fell forward into Baze’s arms on a great, wracking sob. Baze caught and steadied him, holding him close.

“It’s alright,” he whispered, over and over. “It’s alright, I have you. I’m here. Don’t go, Chirrut, don’t leave me again. I’m here.”

When Chirrut finally lifted his head, Baze thumbed a tear away.

“My prosthetic hand will be done next month,” he said. “The doctor says it’ll look and feel just like my actual hand.”

Chirrut nodded, swallowing hard.

“You still haven’t answered the question,” Baze prompted gently.

In answer, Chirrut wound both arms around Baze’s neck and straddled his legs. “I love you more than every moon in every galaxy,” he whispered, and then they were kissing, Chirrut tasting of salt and grief, and joy flowered in Baze’s chest, snaked through his lungs in silken tendrils as he pulled Chirrut closer.

“Don’t ever—don’t you ever do something so stupid again,” he managed.

The smile he’d missed so much curved Chirrut’s lips. “No more master switches to flip,” he pointed out. “I won’t.”

“That’s not what I meant and you know it,” Baze snapped. “Don’t you ever try to leave me for ‘my own good’ or whatever other load of bantha shit you’ve cooked up in that overheated head of yours, do you hear me?”

Remorse flickered across Chirrut’s face and he pressed forward, clutching Baze’s neck and holding on tight.

“I won’t,” he whispered. “I promise. Baze—”

Baze, busy kissing every bare inch of Chirrut’s skin he could reach, took a minute to answer. “Hm? What?”

Chirrut cupped his face in both hands. “Take me to bed, beloved. I’ve missed you so much.”

Baze swallowed hard and nodded. He helped Chirrut slide backward off his lap to stand, finding and retrieving his staff from where he’d dropped it.

Then, hand-in-hand, they went back down the steps of the pyramid, together.