Baze first sees him at the Temple of the Whills: a skinny streak of nothing, smile broader than the horizon, your typical street rat, pared down to nothing but bones and cloth. If you were to give him a good shake his bones would rattle.
He turns milky eyes on Baze and catcalls, “Ready when you are!”
For a moment Baze is confused: he looks behind him, figuring that there must be someone else there. Nope. Just him, and the boy, and the swirling Jedha dust.
Baze looks back at the boy. He’s here on -- well, business and he says business in that sort of tone and the sort of people who understand what business is are the sort of people he will do business with and the ones who do not understand what business means tend to be the poor sod who gets business done around them -- and, sometimes, lamentably, to them.
It’s a living.
“I’m talking to you,” the little monk says. Spins his staff, laughs. It’s like copper bells, that laugh, clear and carrying. “What’s your name?”
“Baze,” he says, shocked into reply more than anything. He’s got a perpetual aura of don’t fuck with me , the sort of aura one must cultivate to survive in the business . People don't tend to talk to him so blithely.
“Great. Baze. Come here. The others won’t spar with me anymore. Will you?”
“I don’t fight blind children.”
“Fair enough. I can’t blame an assassin for wanting to preserve his reputation.”
Baze’s skin contracts; heat rises up his spine. His lips wreathe in a snarl. “Shut up, boy.”
“I’m no younger than you,” the monk says. “My name is Chirrut.”
“I don’t care.”
“Will you spar with me? Or you afraid?”
This is absurd. Baze turns to leave when --
“ Bork-bork-boorrkk .”
The boy has his hands wedged against his armpits, flapping his elbows like stubby wings.
“ Bork-bork-borrkkk, bork-bork .”
“You are an imbecile.”
“ Bork-bork-bork. And you, my fine fighting friend, are a coward.”
“I’m not your friend.”
“You’re right. My friends are much braver.”
He whips one arm out, gestures to the Temple chickens.
The chickens regard Baze.
Baze regards the chickens.
Rage simmers low in the pit of his stomach. He looks back at the blind monk. The boy smirks. Says, slow and deliberate, “ Bork -- “
Baze charges him.
“Oh, don’t be ridiculous,” Chirrut coos, as Baze cringes away from him. He’s got a Medipack in one hand and a hank of Baze’s hair in the other. After thoroughly kicking every inch of arse Baze has ever had, or ever will have, he had ushered him into his quarters: a tiny room carved right into the red rock, lit by a single fluttering blue light. There’s a bed and a table and a chair, because monks believe in austerity, and a neat gold frame into which Chirrut intends to put the hair
( a trophy of my great victory!)
because he’s a little shit.
“I most certainly did not!”
“You --you pulled my hair .”
“The Force considers all ways of fighting equal and good.”
“I don’t believe in the Force. I prefer to put my trust in things I can see.”
“Ah yes. I also do not believe in gravity, for I cannot see it. I do not believe in other planets. In fact,” and here he closes his eyes, waves both hands around madly, “I cannot see you. I do not believe in you!”
Baze growls, lurches to his feet --
-- tries to.
His head surges; black stars waver at the edge of his vision. Chirrut tuts, pushes him back down. “Don’t be foolish. I gave you a concussion. You must stay here and rest.”
“You don’t understand,” Baze says, propping one hand against the wall for support. “I have business to attend to here --”
“Ah yes,” Chirrut says merrily, “the criminals! I was informed of them.”
“Let me guess -- by the Force?”
“Oh no. By the nice old lady who runs the tavern you all insist on getting drunk at. But,” he muses, “the Force did place me in her life, and her in mine, so I suppose you could say that the Force did tell me. What fascinating theological points you make!”
“I will kill you,” Baze says.
“Drink this. It’ll help with the pain.”
Against his better judgement, and not wholly sure why he is doing so, Baze obeys. It isn't water. It is clear and sweet and --
“You bastard,” he says, as sleep steals over him. “Drugged me.”
“You could say that,” Chirrut says, “or you could say that the Force did it, working through me; I am its unworthy, limited vessel --”
Thankfully, darkness claims Baze before the theological lecture really gets going.
After Chirrut returns from his visit to the mobsters, his face is swelling up, red and purple and tender and Baze says “ I told you so, daft bastard ,” and refuses to move off the bed. His head still hurts. The monk can find somewhere else to heal --
-- or he could force his skinny self onto the square inch of bed Baze isn’t occupying and sprawl out like a starfish, over both Baze and blanket. He could do that. Baze is ready to shove him off when --
“The Force showed me what they were doing to the children,” Chirrut murmurs. “What they were doing to the little ones -- “
There’s a thickness in Baze’s throat, a tightness behind his eyes. For a moment he can’t speak. Then: “I know. That’s why I was here. I wasn’t going to do business with them. They thought I was. I was here to kill them.”
Familiar anger -- not extinguished, only banked to a low burn -- begins to build within him. “They deserve to suffer --”
Chirrut places a finger against his lips. “Shhh. Anger leads to hate -- “
“They should be hated!”
“--and hate leads to darkness, where all things drown. The Force is with me, and I am one with the Force. The Force is with me, and I am one with the Force.”
“What are you on about --”
Chirrut shuffles closer. Presses his head into Baze’s neck.
“I failed them,” he says. “I could not beat them, I -- the Force is with me, and I am one with the Force -- but I failed, I failed.” His face is wet. It could be blood. It could be something else. “The Force is with me, and I am one with the Force, darkness leads to hate where all things drown -- I failed --”
Baze’s heart throbs under his tongue. He could shove Chirrut away. He could break him like a splinter. He could --
“The Force is with you, you are one with the Force,” he mutters, with only a hint of resentment. Chirrut's shoulders shake. He hiccups on a sob. Baze curls one arm around him, feels the bird-frailness of his shoulderblades. "The Force is with you," he says, "and you are one with the Force."
Three days later, the pair go to the cartel smuggling children from the slums into the horrors of the labour camps on the Outer Rim.
Baze wields his gun, Chirrut his staff.
They save the day. Of course they do, for they are heroes, and this is how their story begins.