He can see his face, reflected, a mask of horror and pain.
He awakens. The blankets beside him are cold; Chirrut is sitting on the ledge where a window once was, listening.
"More have come," Chirrut says.
He grunts. "Is there anything for breakfast?"
"There is. Look what I found." Chirrut throws him a redfruit, small and lumpy. "Last tree in the grove. It had fallen off the construction plain and it was clinging to a rock by the tap root, but it was alive, and it had this fruit for me, so I saved it for you."
He looks up. Chirrut is smiling at him. "Don't say it," he says.
"Because I love you," Chirrut says.
He growls. He takes it off to the other side of the broken room.
He slices the fruit in half and sucks the sweet pulp into his mouth, sieving it between his front teeth, over and over, until there's nothing left but the tiny seeds. Those he spits out into a corner of his sash, which he rips free.
"We need to get some work in order to eat tomorrow," he says, and he presses the little bundle into Chirrut's hand; the seeds from the last of the temple grove.
He hears his own voice, screaming, and he can hear nothing else, echoing through the dead temple.
They are known in Jedha as men who can get things done. When they go down to the old temple plaza, it doesn't take long before they have a commission: take a very small bag to Jedha-Alla, forty miles away.
He takes the job, of course, even if the bag is very small and sealed very firmly. Five miles outside town, he asks Chirrut what's inside.
"You would know if you paid close enough attention," Chirrut says.
He rolls his eyes and rubs Chirrut's hair backwards.
"The force is with you," Chirrut says.
After twenty miles they make camp by an old mile marker stone in the shape of a Jedi. Chirrut cooks noodles over the portable stove.
He stares at the carved braids in the Jedi's hair. There's a flaw in the carving; the hairpin seems to pass straight through the point of her ear. It could be intentional. Lots of things were made imperfectly, once, to show that they were made by humans. Or it could just be a mistake. Or she could have worn her hair pinned through her ears. He's seen stranger things, especially on Jedi.
Chirrut prods a noodle with his bare finger, hisses, and puts the finger in his mouth. "Dinner," he says.
After dinner they make love by moonlight. The nights are very, very cold, but they are warm when they roll up in the blankets like two stamens in an unopened flower, and he slides through Chirrut's hands, and Chirrut slides through his own.
He feels nothing until he kneels at Chirrut's feet, hands leaving prints on his robes, and then he wishes never to feel anything ever again.
In the morning, Chirrut buries the redfruit seeds at the foot of the mile marker. They'll never grow here without water. They'll parch and mummify like the rest of the grove.
He says nothing, just packs their travelling bag and hands Chirrut his stick.
They reach Jedha-Alla in the late afternoon and deliver the very small bag. The young recipient cries out with pleasure and breaks the seal.
A locket falls out. When she opens it, a hologram of a crossed pick and shovel appears, the symbol of the old miner's union. "Grandfather's locket. A wedding present from Mama," she says. "She promised this months ago. Did you see her? Is she well?"
"She is well," Chirrut says. "She sells noodles. Very good noodles. She makes a lot of money off the miners."
"Tell her to come out here. The roots have taken, we're out of the hungry time. We have enough to support her, she doesn't have to make money in the city. And I'm with child and I want my Mama," she says.
Chirrut nods. Of course he does.
They start back the same day, though they only travel a few miles before dark. They make camp at another mile marker, this one in the diamond shape of a twinkling star, caught in stone.
He has the urge to push it over, to break it, so that it matches the rest of this broken world. He looks at the narrow base of the stone. He thinks of the young woman who wants her Mama.
"Dinner," Chirrut says.
After dinner, they wrap up in the blanket roll together, and Chirrut's fingers play back and forth on his neck, and Chirrrut's eyelashes brush his lips.
He cuts off his hair in grief. He burns his hair and his temple garb. The acrid smell fills his nostrils for the next twenty years.
The following day they walk. Even thirty miles away he can see the Imperial ships buzzing around Jedha like flies, stripping the fallen temple of all her remaining treasures.
Dinner is pounded bean cake. Ugh. They're within sight of the city walls. If he pushed, he could reach home by the light of one torch bulb.
Chirrut tugs on the back of his jacket. "I'm cold."
They wrap up together. Chirrut presses his cold nose into his hair. He pulls Chirrut's strong thigh up around his waist.
He sees his horrified face reflected in the slick, red pool.
They return to Jedha before midday. They report to the noodle seller and she gives them lunch in thanks for the message.
"But leaving, when I'm doing so well here?" the noodle seller says to Chirrut.
"She wants her Mama," Chirrut says.
He clears his throat. The others both turn to him.
"We are old," he says. "You and me."
"So you know how you start to see the past in the present," he says.
"I see death here. Go to Jedha-Alla." He turns his face to his bowl of noodles. It's very good. She's a wizard with her spice rack.
They return to their broken room in the evening. Chirrut combs the desert sand from his hair.
When he was a temple guard, he wore his hair short, like Chirrut, and wore long robes and a mask, and carried a double-bladed pike. But now he is nothing, so he carries a blaster, and he wears what is convenient, and he lets his hair grow, and he has discovered the pleasure of having his hair combed out.
"Every night you dream of darkness," Chirrut says.
"Every day I think of darkness."
"I love you," Chirrut says.
He doesn't say anything; he only lowers his eyes. They sleep together, entwined like unkillable weeds.
I am one with the Force. The Force is with me.
Death is not the end.
Chirrut is there, of course, waiting for him outside of time and space. But he's not alone.
He found the children; he found the younglings who were murdered in the Jedi Temple. They cluster around them both..
He sees their little faces for the first time in twenty years. He would like to pick them up and kiss them, but that was never his role; he was a guard, he only watched them train, only herded them from place to place, only served them breakfast and lunch and dinner and carried them to the healers when they were hurt. He looks down at himself and he is dressed in his robes and carrying his pike.
He reaches up and takes off his helmet.
"My name is Baze," he tells the children.
And later, if time means anything when one has joined the Force, Chirrut shows Baze the grove at the foot of the statue of the Jedi. The explosion of Jedha changed the climate of the region. Rain came to the desert. The farms of Jedha-Alla are thriving, on the edge of the new Jedha Sea. The seeds they planted grew into a pair of twin trees, which drop fruit which is eaten by the ghatti which excrete seeds all over the Jedha plains. The temple grove is vast. Endless.
Baze rustles the leaves of the twin trees. The trunks emerge from the ground at the same point, at the feet of the old mile marker."You did this," he says to Chirrut. "You grew these trees for us."
"I am the Force," Chirrut says, and Baze finally understands.