He’s never seen Baze smile.
It occurs to Chirrut that this is a problem, that for once his lack of sight is an obstacle. He wants, desperately, to know what Baze looks like with a smile curving his mouth, lighting his eyes. Does he have a dimple? Chirrut needs to know.
They haven’t been friends for long. Sometimes, Chirrut isn’t sure they are friends yet. But they share a room, and occasionally a bed, when acolyte training is especially exhausting and Baze is too tired to drag himself to the top bunk.
Chirrut wakes sometimes with Baze’s arm around his waist. It takes everything in his power then not to trace the lines of Baze’s face while he’s unconscious, memorize everything about him. The shape of his mouth, loose in sleep. The line of his nose, his hair in its soft shamble around his head.
But he doesn’t. Because Baze hasn’t given him permission, and Chirrut won’t take that from him.
Sometimes he thinks Baze might be smiling, when Chirrut is at his most annoying. There’s a choked quality to his voice at times, like he’s strangling laughter, locking it behind his teeth. But when Chirrut turns to him, tilts his head inquisitively, feels the vibrations around Baze’s form and tries to see him, Baze has always sobered again.
Chirrut is head of his class, Baze right on his heels. The monks promote harmony, working in union, but not everyone likes the way Chirrut shines, how Baze amplifies him until together they’re unstoppable.
They’re rarely apart, and Chirrut is complacent with that, knowing that Baze is never far away.
So he doesn’t think much of it when he finds himself alone in the lower corridors of the temple, before the first bells. Baze had stopped, called away by another acolyte, and Chirrut had waved him off.
His feet scuff the dirt floor, his hand trailing an inch off the cool stone wall. He cannot see, it’s true, but sometimes, especially when Baze is near, he knows a thing will happen before it does, knows when to dodge and block a blow, where to set his feet and throw a fist to do the most damage.
He’s already halfway through a forward somersault when it happens, which is why the staff clips his shoulder instead of cracking open his skull.
Chirrut lands. Rolls. Is up on his feet, blocking and dodging, as curses fall with the meaty smack of his fists hitting flesh. He recognizes the distinctive whistle of Y’len’s breath, high and sharp just like the last time Chirrut had taken him down in front of the monks.
Chirrut ducks another staff, or maybe the same one, as someone lands a foot in his ribs. He doubles, wheezing, and staggers backward.
Where is Baze? He would have heard the commotion, would have been there by now if he were able, which means—
Chirrut is rarely afraid. He is one with the Force, and the Force is with him, what does he have to fear?
But terror drives the heel of his hand into the bridge of his attacker’s nose, dropping them on the spot. Nips at his calves as he sweeps a foot low to bring down another.
He has to find him.
Chirrut takes a blow that rocks his head back, and then he hears him, his feet pounding, the growl deep in Baze’s chest as he flings attackers away like tooka dolls. Bone cracks against stone and several heavy somethings hit the floor and Chirrut wants to fall with the silence, wants to collapse where he wavers, muscle and bone unable to bear him, but Baze is there, and his hands are on Chirrut’s arms, holding him up, and Chirrut reaches out.
He stops a scant inch from Baze’s face but it doesn’t matter because Baze is leaning into it, pressing his forehead into Chirrut’s hand, and Chirrut takes a careful breath.
“What took you so long?” he asks, and oh, there, Baze is smiling under his hand, the skin around his eyes creasing, his lips curving and he does have a dimple in his cheek, Chirrut realizes.
“Had something to deal with,” Baze says. “Thought you’d be fine on your own for five minutes, but I guess I was wrong.” His voice is gruff with the smile he’ll never be able to hide from Chirrut again, and it’s the easiest thing in the world for Chirrut to tangle his fingers in Baze’s braids and pull his head down until their lips meet.