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It has been a long time since Baze believed in anything like the Force, in anything other than the scarred strength of his hands and the resolute iron of Chirrut’s spine, in anything more. For years now, Baze has considered himself simply incapable of faith—it was burned out of him, not by the quick toppling of the Republic but the slow lingering suffering of his people, leaving him hollowed out and adrift—no matter how Chirrut had argued that as long as Baze believed in something, it would be enough.

But now Chirrut is gasping in his arms, bleeding out, dying.

Everything Baze holds dear has been stripped from him. He feels like all the strings tethering him to this galaxy have been cut, one by one. His Temple, then his faith. His people. His planet. And now the Force wants to take his love, his partner, away from him too?

Chirrut’s eyelids fall closed and don’t open again; his hand goes slack against the curve of Baze’s cheek. The slow rattle of his lungs goes quiet.

And for the first time in over fifteen years, Baze Malbus turns his thoughts and words to prayer.

 

 

 

The truth is simple, Baze finds. Two answers present themselves, when he offers up the familiar mantra between blinding bolts of fire screaming over his head.

Option 1: The Force exists, and Chirrut was right, and they will be reunited again in the beyond.

Option 2: The Force does not exist, and Chirrut was wrong, and Baze will simply cease to be. He won’t be reunited with Chirrut, as his heart so desperately hopes for.

But Baze won’t have to live without him, either.

That doesn’t seem so terrible.

 

 

 

His entire body is lit aflame, it seems. There are screaming points of pain at each of his joints, stretching across the span of his ribs, in the hollow of his throat. His vision has been reduced to incandescent streaks, everything blurry and out of focus.

Another bolt connects, radiating a fresh agony through his shoulder, and Baze finally lets himself sag to his knees. Then further, collapsing into a boneless heap in the sand.

The bodies of twenty Imperials are scattered around his, scorch marks on all their chests from where his repeater cannon found its target. There are more fighters advancing on their stretch of beach, always more coming. Always wanting, searching, taking. But he’s made a dent, he’s made a difference. Maybe it’ll be enough to help the rebels win the war.

Feeling relieved, Baze closes his eyes.

 

 

 

Some indeterminable time later: Baze opens his eyes.

 

 

 

(An interlude.

An hour after they tumble into the ship and escape the destruction on Jedha, Captain Andor comes back again from the cockpit. His expression is stony and cold, but a lifetime of acting as Chirrut’s eyes has taught Baze that a face rarely tells the whole story.

So Baze looks at the hunched curve of the captain’s shoulders, at the hands clenched into white-knuckled fists and the near-soundless rumble of his boots on the grates covering the ship’s floor.

Chirrut leans further into the space between them, pressing his warmth against Baze’s shoulder. He murmurs, “is that the captain?”

Baze hums an assent, which is enough to satisfy Chirrut’s curiosity. He prefers to save his words when he can, and over the years they’ve developed an understanding that lets them communicate in grunts and hums and small touches just as well.

Captain Andor comes to a stop in front of their seats, crossing his arms over his chest uncomfortably. He’s removed the fur-lined parka, Baze sees. Small is not a word that really applies to the man, but Baze finds himself thinking it anyways. Or—not small, maybe, but. Lean. Sharp. Andor is all angular planes and thorny joints, standoffish and sullen and starving for whatever it is that drives men to war.

“We’ve plotted a course to Eadu,” Andor says. His voice is hoarse, the edges of his words softened by that unfamiliar accent. He sounds like he’s been doing a lot of shouting lately, which—Baze supposes they all have, really. “I don’t mind making a stop on the way. It’s my fault you got caught up with us, but this isn’t your fight.”

There is something glinting behind Andor’s eyes, something hidden in the curl of his lip as he gives them a small smile, that says he knows the pain they’re going through. That says he has seen similar things happen before, and grieved them, and that he wishes he could’ve spared them from it. That says he is sorry.

But the captain keeps the words to himself.

Baze finds himself absurdly thankful for that small consideration. His pain is his own, to be shared with Chirrut once he’s had time to let it sink into his bones like everything else that has been taken from him, and he thinks that having strangers offer their sympathies will feel too much like digging into an open wound.

“I go where he goes,” Baze says, tilting his head towards where Chirrut is still pressed close against his side. It feels like a peace offering, to both of them in equal amounts, and he feels Chirrut sketch a question against the back of his hand in response.

Andor just smiles, and turns expectantly to Chirrut.

“All is as the Force wills it,” Chirrut says. He’s been telling Baze this for years, trying to bring some measure of comfort when the galaxy refused to make sense, but this time there’s an undercurrent of desperation to the phrase. Like Chirrut is trying to comfort himself as much as anyone else.

Baze’s hardened heart thrums with their shared grief. “He doesn’t know what that means,” he says, jostling Chirrut’s shoulder with his own.

Chirrut rolls his eyes and bumps back, like they used to do during the long hours of Elder Kumarri’s guided morning meditation. “We have been guided to join your mission, Captain,” he says. “It would be cowardly of us to turn away from the path that is laid before our feet.”

Andor’s mouth curves into a smile, the first genuine smile Baze has seen from the man. It’s gone in the blink of an eye, his expression smoothing out into militaristic stoniness once again, but Baze marvels at how much such a simple thing can soften his impression of the Captain. Andor is young, for someone so hardened to the realities of war.

Baze looks around the shuttle, at the deserter pilot and the reprogrammed droid and the girl who used to be one of Gerrera’s, and thinks that they’re all so young. The Empire will swallow all of them up, that ravenous hungry war machine, and there is no one to warn them that they are hurtling closer and closer to the maw.

Maybe this is why Baze and Chirrut are here?

Maybe they, who have lost everything but each other, have something yet to give.)

 

 

 

When the Alliance nurses decant him from the bacta, Baze is given a set of loose white scrubs to change into. He feels weak as a newborn pittin, limbs trembling at even minor exertions and large swathes of his skin shiny pink where the blaster wounds have mostly healed. The nurses get him settled onto a bed, fitted with thin white sheets to match the white sterility of the medical ward.

“Chirrut,” he asks one of them desperately. “Where’s Chirrut? Did he make it?”

The nurse purses her lips and doesn’t answer the question.

Exhausted by the minor exertion, Baze slips into a restless sleep.

 

 

 

When he wakes again, he’s been moved out of the main ward and into a recovery room. There are two other beds in the room, both occupied, and enough free space to add a fourth against the far wall.

Captain Andor—Cassian, now, Baze guesses he should probably call the man by his first name since they went on a suicide mission together—looks up from the datapad in his lap at the soft rustle of covers. He smiles at Baze, a small uncertain thing, and jerks his head at the third bed in the room. Says, “It’s good to see you awake. Maybe now he’ll stop making the doctors pull their hair out with his escape attempts.”

Baze follows his gaze across the room and feels his heart give a dramatic stutter.

It’s Chirrut. His skin is pale and washed-out against the white bed, swathed in medical scrubs just like Baze, and his eyelashes are soft and dark against his cheeks. Baze can just see the hint of bandages wrapped around his chest, the way a couple soft pink cuts on his face and arms have been sealed. The rhythm of his breathing is slow and even, a little heavier than Baze is used to hearing it but wonderfully, comfortably familiar.

He exhales heavily, a sigh of relief, and slumps back into his bed.

“He’s going to be alright?” he asks.

Cassian shrugs, as best he’s able to with one arm in a sling. “Doctors haven’t told me anything, but mostly they’ve just been worried about him getting out of bed all the time.”

Now that he’s been reassured of Chirrut’s safety, Baze takes a closer look at the captain. Cassian’s also got heavily bandaged ribs—the way he’s propped up against a small mountain of pillows looks very deliberate, and he’s breathing shallowly like he doesn’t want to strain them—and his leg from the knee down is wrapped in a plastacast. But there’s a vicious satisfaction in Cassian’s eyes that wasn’t there before, mixed with the gaunt hollowness of grief that Baze recognizes so well.

“What happened?”

Cassian looks down, fiddling with his datapad. “We transmitted the plans,” he says. “I dunno how a shuttle got down to the surface, but it did. Picked you two up, and Bodhi. Medics onboard were already trying to stabilize all of you by the time they rescued me and Jyn off the Citadel spire.”

He must see the question that information inspires, because Cassian gives another almost-shrug.

“She’s alright. Wrenched knee, bruised shoulder—she came out of it a lot better than the rest of us. Gave what information she could to the council and hightailed it off base before I even woke up.”

The words come out flat, emotionless. Cassian’s face might as well be carved from stone.

But Baze hasn’t relied solely on faces to understand people in decades. He reads the tension in Cassian’s shoulders, the way he curls a little more around his bandaged ribs, and doesn’t like what he sees there. He especially doesn’t like the way Cassian’s eyes shutter, like boarding up a house before a storm, and how after that nothing else can be gleaned from them.

Comforting people has never been a strength of his.

He’ll tell Chirrut about it, Baze decides. Let Chirrut decide what course they should take.

Baze realizes he’s exhausted, suddenly. He’s only been awake for twenty minutes, at the most, but consciousness feels like it’s sapped all his strength.

 

 

 

(An Interlude.

Once they get safely into hyperspace, everyone on the shuttle to Scarif calms down.

It’s weird to Baze, because every single one of these soldiers knows the odds of them getting out, of coming back alive. He’d think that the flight would be rowdier, everyone trying to shove away thoughts of their impending doom.

The corner that he and Chirrut have staked out for themselves is left alone—even the nearest soldiers have squeezed together so that there’s a gap a couple feet wide—and Baze catches a few soldiers giving them wide-eyed looks of admiration. It leaves him feeling prickly, defensive without knowing why.

At least until Jyn stalks over, brash confidence in her every step, and settles into the seat on Baze’s other side.

Chirrut chuckles, squeezes Baze’s hand.

“What?” Jyn asks sharply. She’s always defensive—or at least it seems that way to Baze, who has only known her for a couple days—and always has her hackles up, looking for the next potential fight.

Baze inclines his head, the way he used to with debate peers back at the Temple. “Usually, when faced with a choice of who to sit next to, people choose Chirrut,” he says.

Chirrut, because he’s incorrigible and takes pleasure out of making others uncomfortable, laughs again. “Am I less intimidating, do you think? Or do people assume that because I’m blind, I won’t notice them?”

She stares at them both, wide eyed, uncertain what to say for the first time Baze has seen.

“No, you’re right, I’m definitely less intimidating,” Chirrut says agreeably, as though Jyn had actually given him an answer.

Baze snorts.

His partner smacks his arm in rebuke, and Baze just grumbles under his breath for a minute about impudent foolish men and shakes his head fondly.

Jyn looks fascinated by the exchange, he notices. Baze smiles at her, as gently as he knows how, but he must be out of practice because Jyn abruptly steels her face into a neutral expression.

“I’m glad you’re coming with us,” Jyn says eventually, when the silence has grown comfortable and is broken only by the sound of thirty men shifting in their seats. “But—why?”

“Why else do people fight?” Chirrut asks. His staff thumps against the floor as he angles his whole body to stare in Jyn’s direction.

The question is mostly rhetorical, which makes Baze roll his eyes and Jyn glance uncertainly between them, biting her lip like she’s afraid to answer.

Baze reaches out and covers her tiny hand with his own. “We have been fighting against the Empire just as long as these men,” he says gently. “In our own way. But NiJedha is gone—that path is closed to us now. Which means we must forge another. And this seems as good a path as any.”

“Nay, better, if your father’s message is right,” Chirrut says.

Jyn blinks rapidly, turning her hand over and latching onto Baze’s with a ferocity that takes him by surprise. Her eyes are glassy, shining in the shuttle lighting with unshed tears.

“Thank you,” she says. It’s unclear if she means for helping her against the Stormtroopers, or for agreeing to this mission, or for simply sticking around once they left Jedha.

Baze would like to think she means for all of it.)

 

 

 

The next time he swims back to consciousness, Chirrut is sitting at the foot of Baze’s bed, cross-legged with his hands clasped in his lap in meditation. He’s murmuring lightly under his breath, and though it takes a second for Baze’s hearing to tune in he smiles when he recognizes the familiar mantra.

“The Force is with me, I am one with the Force. The Force is with me, I am one with the Force. The Force is with me, I am one with…”

Baze nudges his knee against Chirrut’s side gently.

He hasn’t had time to think about the Force, or what it means that they survived, that they’re still here and still together. Baze has spent most of the past couple days sleeping, and he doesn’t know what happened to the Death Star plans after they were transmitted off Scarif. Doesn’t know if the rebels found what they were looking for, if they’ve tried to stop it yet.

He doesn’t know anything, really. Just that he’s here, and Chirrut’s here, and they’re apparently both still alive.

For now, that might be enough.

“Good morning, sleepyhead,” Chirrut teases him gently. There’s not an ounce of worry in his voice, and his body is relaxed with meditation except for where the bandaged wounds still hold him stiff.

Still, Baze considers, he is perched on Baze’s bed instead of his own. And what had Cassian said, about Chirrut driving all the doctors mad with his escape attempts?

He grunts.

There are so many things he wants to say, but Baze doesn’t have the words. Luckily, Chirrut looks like he understands, because he rests a hand unerringly on Baze’s knee and squeezes gently.

“I know,” Chirrut says softly. “I know.”

 

 

 

Once Baze is strong enough to stay awake for multiple hours at a time, instead of fading back to sleep after twenty minutes, he gets irritated at how long it’s taking his body to heal. It’s only been a few days, but Baze has never handled being sick well and he hates being unable to move around without every muscle in his body aching.

Chirrut is usually there to keep him company, which helps tremendously, and once Cassian gets cleared for duty again he wanders in and out of their room, checking on them multiple times a day. He’s always fiddling with a datapad, scowling at it furiously like it holds the key to the universe inside.

“What’s he working on?” Baze asks Chirrut, after such a visit. He’s growing tired again, but Chirrut is always there when he wakes up to remind Baze that they’re together, they’re alive, they made it. Faced with Chirrut’s particular brand of reassurance, it’s not so terrifying to feel the tug of exhaustion pulling him down.

Chirrut squeezes their palms together, fingers interlaced around the kyber crystal necklace Chirrut had received upon his graduation to Guardian status. Baze had once worn a matching necklace, but that crystal is lost now—probably reduced to cosmic dust just like the rest of NiJedha, he thinks. He’d thrown it out when he shed everything else, all his beliefs and prayers and traditions that the Guardians had clung to.

“He mentioned something about a backup for K2-SO,” Chirrut says quietly. “But whenever I ask him about it he leaves the room.”

“Has he heard anything about the pilot?” Last Baze knew, Bodhi was still in a bacta tank. He had suffered terrible burns to most of his back and arms, and the doctors were trying to stave off infection by accelerating most of the healing process.

“No one will tell us anything. But then, they wouldn’t tell us anything about you either. I had to go searching for answers on my own,” Chirrut grumbles.

Baze rolls his eyes, but tugs his partner down with him. If he’s going to nap again, he at least wants to be comfortable. There isn’t anything more comforting than having the thump-thump of Chirrut’s heart quietly pounding right next to his ear.

 

 

 

(An Interlude.

Tension is high on the flight back from Eadu. They’d scrambled to fit everyone into the stolen shuttle, blasted out of the atmosphere surrounded by a flock of X-Wings and with Imperial fighters screaming on their tail. Baze is starting to grow used to that, being in an absolute hurry to leave a planet.

Captain Andor kicks everyone else out of the cockpit after they jump to hyperspace, even his sulky reprogrammed droid, and locks the door behind him. Baze would be worried about that, except he had seen the captain’s face after Jyn called him a Stormtrooper and he suspects Andor just needs time to lick his wounds in private.

Jyn is hunched in the corner. She’s not crying, but shock and grief and anger are all mixed up on her face and the set of her shoulders suggests that one wrong word could make her shatter apart. The droid goes to the coms panel, probably trying to program it with rebel frequencies, and pointedly doesn’t look any of them in the eye.

Baze wishes he could say he’s surprised when the defector pilot comes and perches next to Chirrut on the bench seats, but he’s not. Bodhi is nearly as wracked with grief as Jyn is—Andor had gone up on that ridge to kill Jyn’s father, yes, but he’d also gone to kill Bodhi’s friend—but his is a different sort of grief, more dangerous. The kind that reaches in, scoops out everything inside and leaves a hollowed-out husk in its wake.

“Tell me a story about the Temple,” Bodhi says. His Jedhan is rusted and halting, the words coming like each one is an effort, like he hasn’t spoken his native language in years. “Tell me about NiJedha.”

For a moment, the grief rises up in Baze thick and choking. He bites back a mournful noise, strangles it before it can gain enough momentum to drown him in its wake. Now is not the time for mourning. Now is the time for watching over Chirrut, for running fighting surviving, for standing strong as the statues that had weathered a thousand years of wind and rain and frost.

“Grief shared is grief halved,” Chirrut says in Basic. It’s an old Temple platitude, one that Baze has long since stopped putting any stock in. The phrase is meant to guide Guardians through loss and hardship, encouraging them to release their feelings to the Force, but Baze doesn’t believe in the Force anymore. And even if he did, how could it take away the sheer magnitude of loss they’ve suffered? An entire city is gone.

But Bodhi just nods, like he expected the words, and the look in his eyes is desperate and searching.

Chirrut starts in on one of his favorite stories, from the days when they’d been young and carefree and war was an unfamiliar word.

By the end of the story, the heavy shroud on Baze’s shoulders has lifted, just for a moment. The grief doesn’t seem quite so near, the loss they’ve suffered not insurmountable.

 “Tell us a story about Galen Erso,” Baze says, as gentle as he knows how to be.

Bodhi’s eyes fill with tears. His voice is shaky and uncertain, full of pauses and misstarts, but Baze and Chirrut once meditated for an entire day from sunup to sundown. They are used to waiting for the things that matter. Bodhi tells them about meeting Galen, about how flattered he was that the Eadu base’s science director kept thanking him personally for his supply runs, and how that turned into drinks and hands of sabacc and stories of life beyond the Empire.

When Baze glances over, he finds that Jyn is listening to them intently, open yearning in her face.

When Bodhi runs out of words, when the well of emotion has been run dry for the moment, Baze nudges Chirrut in the side. A lifetime together has taught them how to communicate silently, and his partner just smiles and nods.

“Tell us another story, Jyn,” Chirrut offers.

She turns that over for a moment, weighing the advantages and disadvantages. Eventually, Jyn must decide that there’s no harm in sharing a story of her own, because she starts in on the bedtime fairytales her father used to lull her to sleep with. And that leads to a running lament on Saw Gerrera, and growing up in the middle of a rebel cell.

Baze leans back against the wall of the shuttle and lets the words wash over him. Chirrut squeezes his knee beneath the armor, and he can feel the smile in the gesture. They share words the whole way back to Yavin, and when Andor finally emerges from the cockpit and joins them Bodhi pesters the captain until he coughs up a small story of his own.

For those couple hours, this unlikely crew united by their common suffering, Baze doesn’t feel quite as alone. He thinks that, if they make it out of this alive, he might like these people to stick around.)

 

 

 

He finds himself inspired to meditate, the morning that the doctors wheel Bodhi into their room. Chirrut is out for the moment—physical therapy, though his wounds had never seemed severe enough to need it—and so is Cassian. Which means it’s just Baze and his thoughts and the sunlight streaming in through the base windows.

The Force seems to tug at Baze, nudging him to settle cross-legged on the floor in the pool of sunlight. Or maybe it’s just his conscience, full of misplaced guilt for surviving the mission to Scarif when so many rebels hadn’t. Baze had pestered Cassian for a casualty report; of the thirty two men they crammed onto that stolen shuttle, only nine had made it back alive.

But Baze had made it. And so had Chirrut.

He breathes deeply, trying to find the mental tranquility that had guided him for so many years at the Temple. But his newly-healed wounds protest the position almost immediately, and Baze’s mind refuses to quiet.

What does it mean, that they both made it off Scarif? Baze had seen Chirrut die in his arms, had felt his husband passing. He had turned into enemy fire with the intention of following Chirrut into death’s embrace.

Baze had told the Force that they would not be separated.

And the Force listened.

Could he have been wrong, these last fifteen years? Baze considers, for what seems like the first time, that the Force might be something other than the gentle guiding star the Temple elders had always described it as. The idea is mind-boggling. He had believed that the Force was kind, and gentle, and would provide for them always.

When the Empire came to Jedha, when they invaded the Temple and killed everyone who refused to stand aside, Baze had shed his faith along with his well-worn Guardian robes. The Force would not allow this to happen, he decided, and the fact that it had happened meant that the Force could not exist.

It was easier to believe that the Force was a lie than to accept that it had not protected them.

Baze inhales, as deep and slow as his lungs can manage, and holds the muggy Yavin air for a long minute. He exhales just as deliberately, trying to release the tension in his body as the Temple Elders had taught him decades ago. Repeats once, twice, thrice. He feels a little more grounded when he gets through, a little more settled in his bones.

It gives him the strength to think about NiJedha. About his beautiful city, hollowed out and gutted but still proud, still standing tall under the weight of Imperial occupation. About how it’s all gone now—not just the Temple, but the alleys where Baze had played as a child, the streets he and Chirrut had walked on their patrols, the doorways they’d huddled in for warmth when they had nowhere else to go. The little fruitseller’s stand, where Baze would spend a few of their precious coins on Chirrut’s favorite starfruit for special occasions.

Baze learned a long time ago how to cry silently, so that he didn’t disturb his partner with his useless tears. That’s how he cries now; there are fat wet tears rolling down his face, but Baze’s breath remains steady and his chest does not shake and tremble with the weight of his grief.

The Force did not protect NiJedha, but it protected him and Chirrut. It protected Jyn and Cassian, and the rest of the rebels who survived the assault. And the Force must have protected Bodhi, in whom Baze saw the hope and longing that marked all those who grew up under the Empire’s clenched fist.

Does that mean, then, that the Force could not protect NiJedha?

The thought shakes Baze down to his core.

Voices and footsteps in the hall just outside his door jar him out of his thoughts. Baze wipes his face roughly with the sleeve of his scrubs and staggers to his feet, clambering back onto his cot just in time for the door to open. Another medical bed rolls in, surrounded by a trio of harried-looking nurses, and as they settle it into the one open corner of the room Baze stares at the occupant.

Bodhi is nearly unrecognizable; one side of his head has been shaved, healing burns stand out shiny and pink against the rest of his skin, and stark white bandages cover what seems like his entire back under the scrubs he’s wearing. They’ve rolled him onto his stomach to avoid aggravating the burns. His eyes are closed, but there’s still a faint hint of pain in the creases of his face. The nurses set up a pair of fluid drips on the right side of his bed, a heart monitor on the left, and hurry back out of the room.

Baze stares at the sleeping pilot, and when Chirrut comes back and starts praying on the bed beside him Baze stares some more.

 

 

 

Two days later, Bodhi’s starting to regain his strength. He’s only awake for half hour snatches at a time, but he listens with painful intensity to the stories Chirrut tells of their shared homeworld. Sometimes Baze will be moved enough to tell his own stories—ones that Chirrut was not present for, rare as that was, or that Chirrut pesters him to tell because he “gives the most vivid descriptions, Bodhi, it’s unfair that a man of so few words can wield them so well”—but most of the time he listens to the rise and fall of Chirrut’s voice in appreciative silence.

Baze doesn’t say that he’s had to learn to use his words wisely, describing the shape of the world to Chirrut, but from the gentle flick of Bodhi’s eyes as he listens to them bicker back and forth, the pilot knows.

They’re in the middle of one such tale when Cassian comes crashing into the room, all wide eyes and distress written large across his face. For once he’s without his ever present datapad, and as he settles onto the end of Bodhi’s bed his hands fidget nervously.

“Ah, Captain. Are you here to bring us more news of the outside?” Chirrut asks cheerfully. If he picks up on the tension filling Cassian, wound so tight he might shake apart right in front of them, Chirrut makes no mention of it.

But Cassian shakes his head. “The Death Star,” he says, biting off the words with a vicious sort of anger. Baze knows that feeling, can hear the dull throb of it in his chest. “It’s on its way here.”

The jolt of alarm that goes through Bodhi is visible. He winces, sharp and brief, and then struggles into a sitting position. “What? But how did it find us? What are we going to do?”

“There’s nothing we can do,” Cassian says.

“Bantha shit.”

Baze doesn’t realize who the words came from until every face in the room turns towards him. He glowers at the attention, but grumbles anyways, “There’s always something we can do.”

“Well, yes.” Cassian flushes, brilliant red spots appearing on both his sharp cheeks. “The Alliance finally got back the plans we stole—something about a smuggler and a farmboy rescuing the Alderaanian princess, they kicked me out of command before I could ask—and they found the weakness Galen built. They’re sending all the ships we have left to try and destroy it.”

“But the Death Star is on its way here,” Chirrut says slowly. “And there isn’t enough time to evacuate the base, is there?”

Cassian shakes his head. “We’d be sitting ducks in space, they’d just pick us off one by one. And that’s if we still had enough ships to carry everyone.”

“So we’re just waiting around to see if we’re gonna be blown up after all?” Bodhi huffs angrily, shakes his head; the outrage written across his face matches the pulse pounding through Baze’s heart.

Alright, Force, he thinks, with all the desperation and anger he’d felt on that beach. What was the point of saving us if we’re gonna die the same way a week later?

 

 

 

After an hour of waiting in tense silence, Chirrut bows his head. He tucks his legs up under him, warm and solid on the bed next to Baze, and starts to pray. The mantra curls around the room, Chirrut’s voice soft and fond and oh so familiar. Across the room, both Bodhi and Cassian look inexplicably reassured.

“…is with me, I am one with the Force. The Force is with me, I am one with the Force. The Force is with me, I am one with…”

There isn’t any harm in joining him. It’s all out of Baze’s hands now; his particular feelings regarding the Force have no impact on whether they are all about to be blown into cosmic dust or not. And it’s been so long since he heard the prayers the way they were meant to be recited.

Baze closes his eyes.

 

 

 

Some indeterminable time later: Baze opens his eyes.

“Huh,” he says, in the quietest of whispers.

Next to him, Chirrut hums.