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Finding Home

Chapter Text

“Are you Cassian Andor?”

Cassian looked up with a start. “Yes?” he said hesitantly.

“Wonderful. I'm Kay. I believe you are looking for a roommate.”

Cassian studied the tall man standing before him. He noted the messenger bag hanging across his body and the thick scarf wrapped asymmetrically across his chest. He raised an eyebrow. “I am. May I ask who informed you?”

“Whom. And I believe it was your landlord. I had stumbled across a review online for a place down the road but was unimpressed with it. He was in the yard and suggested I come talk to you.”

Cassian blinked and reached across the table for his coffee. It was entirely too early for this. “I see. Would you care to sit down, mister...?”

“Essoh. But please, just call me Kay.” He pulled out a chair and settled in. “I am able to supply the first and last months deposit, as well as pay two months in advance, if this will help.”

“Wait wait wait. I'm sorry. Which of my landlords sent you here?” he asked, incredulous.

“He said his name was Chirrut. And he did not exactly tell me where to find you except to say you were a creature of habit. I looked you up by name and found that your listed employment is within two miles of here and surmised that you would most likely be found within one of the shops located on this street. Your landlord provided a pretty accurate description of you, though I do have to ask. Is he really blind?”

Cassian rubbed his forehead. There were so many things going wrong with this scenario. “Okay, to start with the easy part, yes, Chirrut is blind. However, his partner usually describes people to him and he has a good memory. Second, yes, I am looking for a roommate, but I'm not sure this is a good idea. I don't know anything about you. And third,” he said quickly, cutting Kay off before he could speak, “third, you have to agree, it's pretty creepy that you followed me. It feels a bit like stalking, don't you agree?”

“I never stalked you. Chirrut told me that you usually leave about seven each morning and since most businesses around here open late, it only left this coffee shop, a fast food restaurant, and the city park. The odds were quite high that you would be here. And as for not knowing me, I am currently enrolled in online courses. I'm currently studying psychology. I've already completed a course in basic medical care, as well as having a degree in statistical analysis computer science, and am willing to take on exactly half the chores necessary towards running a household. I do not believe in throwing loud parties, or indeed parties of any kind. I do not have a pet nor intend to obtain one.”

“Ahhhh.....”

“I'm well aware of your real job,” Kay said, voice dropping in volume. “I know that you work for Bothan Investigations as an undercover agent, though I suspect that that is merely a front. I am familiar with the owner and I believe I can be of assistance in your current mission.”

Cassian glanced around to see if anyone was listening in. “Listen, pal,” he whispered angrily. “I don't know what you're playing at. I am NOT—”

Kay had reached into his bag and pulled out a folder while Cassian had been talking. He dropped it in front of him, effectively shutting him up. Reluctantly, Cassian picked it up, paling as he saw the sheets within. “Where did you get these?”

“I believe from your current employer. Listen, I do not wish to cause problems. I am in need of a bit of help. I truly do need a place to stay, but beyond that, I cannot return to where I have been. I would not like to discuss this further in public.”

Cassian studied him for a moment, looking for deception and finding none. “Okay. We can go back to my place. But if I find out you are lying to me, you will never be found.”

“If you are trying to intimidate me, you'll have to do better. Clearly, you are not an enforcer,” Kay said, sniffing with disdain. “You have my word.”

“Alright. Let's go.”

* * *

It was Forty-seven steps from the back porch to the trash cans. Chirrut Imwe knew this because he walked the same route everyday; when they had first moved in, he had taken to counting steps out of boredom, not necessity. He knew exactly which way the can would be facing, as well as how to avoid the crack in the walkway that Baze had wanted to fix and he'd made him leave. “Nothing in life is perfect,” he had told him. “Everything is as the force wills it. Besides, it's a good mark point.”

Forty-seven steps to the trash can, another fifteen to the alley. Twenty-five to the right for the garage. Ten to cross the walkway. Fifty-five to the tree with the bench from the back door. Nothing had changed since they had moved in. It bored him most days.

Today was no exception. Baze had been gone since before dawn, and Chirrut, who normally didn't need an excuse to wander the city on his own, had been reluctant to leave the house today. It irritated him when that feeling came over him. He had worked hard to not let things bother him after the accident. He truly believed that there was a force within every living thing that decided the fates of those that believed in it. For those moments where he needed a reminder, he got by quite well with his mantra. I am one with the force, the force is with me. Baze would roll his eyes but otherwise rarely commented. He had been raised with the same beliefs, but had left the tenants behind. Not that Chirrut blamed him. Things had gotten pretty rough for a while. But no matter how bad things been, the one constant in his life had remained Baze Malbus.

Sighing, Chirrut reluctantly turned onto the walkway that led around to the front of the property (one hundred and seventy two steps until the side stairs leading to the front porch, twenty-nine until the front door, seventeen to their door behind the stairs). He had left his staff inside, deciding to forego it for his walk around the yard. As he walked to the door, he paused, listening as he felt a presence approaching him—no, two; there were two people approaching. Turning, he raised an eyebrow and waited until they were closer before calling out a greeting. “Cassian. Back early I see.”

Snorting softly, Cassian smiled as he walked up. “Good morning, Chirrut. Just about to show my new 'potential roommate' the available space.”

Grinning broadly, Chirrut nodded his head. “Good, I'm glad you found him. Kay, was it? I'm glad. You'll like it here. It's usually fairly quiet.”

“Thank you,” Kay muttered, frowning. “Shall we?”

“Yes. See you later, Chirrut. Call if you need anything.”

Chirrut listened to them walking up the steps. He knew that Baze would be upset when he returned once he found out that Chirrut had rented more space out in the house, but Chirrut was looking forward to a fight. It would teach Baze to not tell him what he was up to.

He was about to enter the house when something stopped him. Call it a feeling, but it was hard to ignore. Frowning, he walked down the five steps to the front walk, twenty-four to the gate, and waited. On either side of their property were businesses. Their house, once a large home, had been converted into apartments before they purchased it. Cassian had laughed after he moved in, claiming that they were probably the last hold outs keeping the neighborhood from being redeveloped. Baze had rolled his eyes and walked away, but Chirrut quietly agreed. It was what he liked best about the house. It reminded him of growing up in the temple compound. A quiet oasis in a hectic city center.

He listened, allowing his senses to expand out and felt for the force he knew was nearby. There. Half a block down, on the left. Tilting his head slightly, he listened to the uneven steps approaching, smiling as they reached him. “Good morning.”

The steps stopped. He could feel the tension and fear rolling off the individual—man, he thought. A young man. Curious.

“Hello,” stammered a soft reply. Chirrut's smile grew bigger with the confirmation that he was right.

“Are you looking for something in particular?”

“No, thank you, I'm fine, really,” the voice said, growing more nervous as it continued. The young man slowly started backing away.

Nodding, Chirrut closed his eyes. “You know were to find me if you need anything.”

“Thank—thank you, but really, I'm fine. Good bye.”

“Good day.”

Chirrut waited until he heard the man move off down the road. He wondered if he would see him again (he snorted at his own pun), he felt that he would. Laughing softly, he turned and moved back toward the house. Maybe he'd rearrange the furniture just to piss Baze off. He'd have plenty of time to relearn the configuration before he returned home. It would keep him occupied for a bit at least.

* * *

Cassian gestured to the couch as he closed and locked the front door. “Please, have a seat.”

“Thank you,” Kay said, immediately heading for Cassian's arm chair next to the fireplace.

Frowning, Cassian hung his jacket up and settled onto the couch. “Mister Essoh—”

“Kay.”

“Kay. Please explain how you came about that file.”

“I was given redacted copies of the profiles by a Mr. Dawson, though in all honesty who actually redacts reports, let alone has hard copies to hand out. However, I was able to search online and have surmised the original intentions of the files through reports and news articles surrounding a one Galen Erso. I noticed one of your names attached as agent in charge and decided it would be best to come to you first with what I know.”

Cassian was sitting with his hands folded under his chin, elbows on his knees, studying the strange man before him. “That doesn't help me much. Galen Erso has been in hiding for more than ten years now. Anyone could have looked him up. There have been numerous investigations into his disappearance. You could be lying.”

“It is true that I am not aware of where Galen himself is currently, but I do know of someone that might. I would like to offer what I know in exchange for protection.”

“Protection.”

“No need to be skeptical. I was involved in a bit of trouble with the Empire—”

Cassian sat up quickly. “The Empire? Those terrorists? How exactly did you get involved?”

“Promise you won't shoot me,” Kay said nervously, bag hugged tight in his arms as if he planned to use it like a shield. “From your posture and the placement of your hand, I am assuming you have a gun hidden under the couch.”

Inhaling deeply, Cassian slowly tried to relax his body. He was slightly impressed that Kay had picked up on his body language; few ever did. He settled back and gestured for him to continue.

“I used to work for them,” Kay said reluctantly, as if ashamed to admit this bit of knowledge. “I was part of 'knowledge acquisitions', which is a fancy way of saying I was in charge of tracking down information. At first I wasn't aware of what I was doing. I know,” he said, quickly interpreting Cassian's raised eyebrow, “how could I not be aware? Well, in all honesty, the people that hired me didn't exactly advertise who they were. They seemed very nice and charismatic at first. But I started noticing some discrepancies over time. People would go missing, invoices for large shipments were arriving daily, the level of security increased at an alarming rate. So I started digging. I started looking for things that were out of place. And I found them.”

“What did you find?” Cassian prompted softly.

“Weapons. Money. Soldiers. I—,” he hesitated, gulping. “I started to make copies of what I could, committed to memory what I couldn't. And then I found the information on Galen Erso. He was a highly regarded scientist in energy resources. The Empire was interested in him. They had apparently been trying to recruit him for years. I believe, based on what I've seen that they finally succeeded, though it seems that they have yet to get him to complete the plans they need in order to move forward. I think they might be targeting his daughter in order to get him to comply.”

“What plans?”

“A weapon that would make it possible to overtake an military, any countries security measures. Galen's research seems to be vital to the outcome.”

“But Galen's field was in energy. What use would he be in designing a weapon?” Cassian asked, though in truth, he already knew the answer.

“To power it.”

“So why do you need my help? You could take this information to any government agency around the world and be granted protection. Why come here?”

“Because I don't know if I can trust anyone in a government position and from what I've heard about you, you've always tried to uphold what is right. At least that is what I have seen in your colleague's files, as well as was told by Chirrut. If I'm not mistaken, I believe you were one of those that has been involved in infiltrating certain locations around the world. I would formally like to offer my assistance, but only if you can promise to try and help me. I do not wish to return nor am I likely to survive the encounter if I am forced to. Do we have a deal?”

Cassian leaned back, eyes hard. “How do I know I can trust you?”

“Because I can find his daughter. She's in grave danger and doesn't deserve to die.”

Cassian searched his face for any signs of duplicity, but he was unable to find any. With a sigh, he stood up and gestured for Kay to follow him. “I'll show you your room. Tomorrow, you will be going with me to meet my boss, and if he agrees with my assessment, you'll be given a chance to help us. You better not be lying to me.”

“You have my word,” Kay said, following him.

“For what it's worth,” Cassian muttered.

Chapter Text

Jyn Erso had learned early on to travel light. Numerous moves in her early years (first due to her parents research opportunities, then later while on the run) had turned it into an almost art form. She had learned to not become so attached to an object that it could potentially risk her life. She was confident in her skills. Which was why she was so upset that she found herself surrounded by mementos and artifacts of great importance.

Scowling, she shifted through the papers stacked on the floor. Most of them could be burned, she concluded, quickly tossing them into a bag to be taken down to the incinerator (that in and of itself had surprised her about living in this building; she had never lived in another large city where people still burned their trash). Cloths were a bit harder. She already only had a bare minimum wardrobe, there was very little there that she could discard. The novel she was currently reading could be dropped off at a charity bin on her way out of town. Her laptop would have to go with her, though she was already planning on how to acquire a new one without it being traced to her. Shoes were easy. She only had one pair. Harder still was the box of memories that she had recently been sent by the man that had saved her life.

She reached for the box and started removing items. A small doll, made for her when she was a baby. A crocheted blanket, done in soft blues, purples, and greens. Photos, some of which she had never seen before, but she was not allowing herself to be distracted by them just yet. Videos, home movies of another life. A ring, simple yet elegant. An unopened letter, addressed to her.

She removed each item multiple times, and yet, each time, found herself returning them to their original places within their cardboard tomb. Sighing, she reached for the photos, knowing that it was a bad idea, but seeing no other option as of yet.

The first one was of her parents, nervous but smiling. It must have been taken on their wedding day, she thought. Her mom was stunning in a simple yellow dress, hair tied up tight on her head, a small bouquet of cosmos and larkspur that looked as if she had picked them just before the wedding began. Her father stood close beside her, a big man hunched forward as if to make himself smaller; he looked scared. He was dressed in pale green dress shirt with a stained blue and green patterned tie. He was looking at Lyra like she was the sun, though, something that Jyn remembered even from years after that day. They were holding hands and smiling at each other. She knew that they had gotten married quickly, with only a few friends there as witnesses, but it was something they had never regretted.

The next was her mom standing on a mountain slope, surrounded by snow, noticeably pregnant with Jyn. Lyra's arms were raised in triumph, her eyes bright and shiny. She looked as if she owned the world.

Jyn smiled as she flipped the photo out of the way to discover a picture of her, only a few hours old, being held tightly by her dad. Galen had clearly been crying, even though in the photo he was grinning from ear to ear. Throat growing tight, she flipped it aside, studying a photo of herself, at age three, standing beside a large hairy dog, eyes shining as she held up a seashell. “Stardust,” her dad used to say; “your eyes always sparkled like stardust. Your mother had the same eyes when I met her. I didn't think I could love anyone as much as her, until I met you.”

On and on she looked, eyes misting up as she studied family picnics, school events, work, home, group shots, and individuals. She carefully straightened the stack and returned them to the envelop before turning to the videos. She had scavenged a VHS player not that long ago when Saw Gerrera's messenger had told her of the find. She started the first tape, quickly losing herself in shots of her as a baby, being passed back and forth between her parents; school recitals and kindergarten graduation; playing in the ocean, screaming in delight as her dad carried her on his shoulders, keeping her just high enough that she could get splashed by the waves without being submerged. By the end, she found herself curled up in front of the TV, baby blanket draped across her shoulders, doll (Mina, she finally remembered) in her lap, twisting the ring (her mother's wedding ring) between her fingers. It was nearly two in the morning before Jyn returned to packing, carefully tucking everything back into the box and setting it by the front door of the one room apartment. She was already formulating a plan to trade her current car in for something newer; well, newer for her at least.

No, Jyn was not sentimental. She prided herself on practicality. She told herself that the box of memories meant nothing.

It would be the first thing she packed in the car once she was ready to leave.

* * *

Baze pulled up to the front of the house sometime before sunset. He was tired and irritated, nothing new after a day following more dead ends than he cared to admit. He wanted nothing more than to take a shower, eat a ton of food, snuggle Chirrut (not necessarily in that order), and forget the world existed. He was not at all surprised to see Cassian waiting for him in the hallway; based on the text he had received earlier that day, his life was about to get even more stressful.

“Baze. How was your day?”

Baze glared at him before replying, “long. What do you want, Cassian?”

“You got my text about my new roommate?”

“I did. And I believe I've made it clear before that Chirrut is in charge of tenants, not me.”

“You got the information about who he was?”

“Yes, and you know how I feel about that.”

“Chirrut seemed okay with him, but I want to get your approval first.”

Baze studied him before gruffly asking stating, “I trust your assessment of character, otherwise I wouldn't work with you. Also, I trust Chirrut implicitly. What do you think of him? Do you trust him?”

“I do. I don't believe he was lying to me,” Cassian said, head held high.

“And why is that?”

“Because when he speaks normally or is trying to bluff, he never contracts words. When he gets nervous, he does. I think he's being level, but I'm having him meet with me tomorrow morning to go see Draven.”

“If you vouch for him, I won't say anything. I trust you. Usually.”

Cassian smiled and nodded his head. “Thank you. I'll see you tomorrow. If all goes well, we'll come by to say hi.” Waving, Cassian started up the stairs. Huffing, Baze reached into his pocket for his keys and let himself into his home.

Only everything was wrong.

Baze let the door swing shut behind him, barely registering the lock engaging. The couch, which normally faced the television, was turned to face the window. There were normally two wing-backed chairs facing each other on either side of the fireplace—one was currently tucked into a corner, facing the wall, while the other was upside down. The coffee table was turned longways, essentially walling off the living room. All of Baze's books were turned backwards on the shelves. Sighing, Baze closed his eyes and slowly counted to ten in his head. He could hear Chirrut in the kitchen, but he knew he needed to find his calm center before he entered the room. Exhaling most of his tension, he dropped his coat on the hall table and walked past the disorganized room, breathing deeply as he entered the kitchen.

The kitchen was brightly lit, something he normally found amusing. Chirrut insisted on turning on all the lights in it, even if he couldn't see it. “It's the principle of the matter,” he always said. Chirrut was standing at the sink, carefully washing a set of dishes. Baze knew it wasn't for fear of breaking it, but more to keep occupied until he could feel out Baze's mood. Chirrut could take this one of two ways, Baze knew. He could choose to be innocent, or become angry and turn it back on him. Crossing his arms over his chest, Baze stared at the back of his head. “Really Chirrut? The chair? What are you, a giant cat?”

Chirrut slowly moved the plate in his hand to the drying rack before wiping off his hands and leaning on the counter. “I like it better that way. It makes it more interesting.”

“Why are you mad at me?”

“You left and didn't say goodbye.”

Baze stopped breathing for a moment, eyes closing in pain. He thought back to that morning, when he had received the text asking him to come in. He had gotten up and dressed swiftly, moving about as if time was of the essence. He had paused next to Chirrut, who had been laying there asleep, eyes closed tight and breathing even. He had wanted to kiss his cheek, to brush his hand across his too short hair, but had hesitated. In the end, he had just walked out.

“You were awake.”

Chirrut's shoulders shrugged slightly.

“I'm sorry. I couldn't say it today. I thought....”

“Yes?” Chirrut prompted.

“I had hoped you were still asleep. I wanted to say goodbye so bad, but I couldn't. I couldn't have stood it today if you had been awake and I had had to leave you. I'm sorry.”

Shoulders slumping, Chirrut finally turned to face him. “I see.”

It took Baze a moment to recognize the joke, a clear sign that Chirrut was well on his way to forgiving him. Smiling slightly, he asked, “what can I do to make it up to you?”

“You can start by making me dinner. Something hot. We'll see what we can get you to do later,” Chirrut said, a cheeky grin spreading across his face.

Laughing, Baze crossed the room and pulled him into a hug, placing a kiss on his lips. “Go fix the furniture you idiot. I'll start the food.”

“You expect a blind man to safely navigate that disaster area? I can't even see the furniture let alone get it back to normal,” he said, faking innocence and incredulous rage all at once.

“You know damn well you could fix it if you wanted to.”

“I could, but I'd rather make you do it.”

“Fine,” Baze mumbled, pushing away from him. “But I expect the vegetables to be clean by the time I return.”

It took a bit to fix things; Baze was adamant about making sure the furniture was returned to the exact original positions (he was helped by the permanent dents in the carpet), but he still walked the room three times with his eyes closed before being satisfied. The books he chose to deal with later. He returned to the kitchen, eyes lighting up as he watched Chirrut washing carrots. He walked over and draped himself across his back, dwarfing the smaller frame before him. Chirrut grunted as he took the full force of Baze's weight, tilting his head to the left to allow him better access to his neck “You're heavy, you old fool.”

“You like it.”

“Yeah, when we're in the middle of other activities,” Chirrut joked, sighing as Baze nuzzled behind his ear. He closed his eyes as he found the sensitive spot on his neck just below his ear. “Standing at a sink with a carrot in my hand wondering when I'll be getting dinner is not when I would normally want it.”

“Liar.” Baze kissed the top of his collarbone before moving away. “Chicken or beef?” he asked, carefully nudging Chirrut aside so he could wash his hands.

“I think we still have some beef left from yesterday.”

“Okay.”

Chirrut leaned against the counter, enjoying the soothing sounds of Baze moving about. He grinned when Baze pushed a mug of tea into his hands as he placed a quick kiss on his cheek. He sipped slowly, allowing himself to feel Baze. In his senses, Baze was a bright light, warmer than the sun in summer, stronger than a mighty tree, as unbreakable and as solid as a mountain, and yet as gentle as a brook. He knew that no one else saw him that way, what with his scruffy beard and long overgrown hair, the permanent scowl etched onto his face and his gruff voice. But Chirrut had known him for years, had known him even as a child, had seen him and felt him even before he had lost his sight. Baze was a force to not be dismissed or underestimated, but he was a force of good. He believed in doing the right thing, even if he was slow to start, the opposite of Chirrut's brashness, his headlong plunge. Together, they complimented each other better than anyone could have foreseen. Together, they were one.

“What are you thinking about over there?” Baze asked, curious, as he dished up their food.

“About how maybe I should have just had you for dinner instead.”

“Shut up and eat your food.” Chirrut could feel the heat on Baze's face caused by more than just cooking.

“Of course. The quicker we finish eating, the quicker we can get to dessert.”

Growling, Baze pushed him toward the living room. “You're a little shit, you know that, right?”

“You may have mentioned it a time or two.” Chirrut settled onto a cushion, leaning into Baze as he sat down. “Do you want to talk about today or just internalize it?”

“We're still tracking leads,” Baze said softly. “They keep sending tidbits over to Bothan, things the Alliance can't do, but nothing pans out. It's driving me insane. And then today, we finally came across a lead and it turns out to not be related to weapons but to children. They've started targeting children. I can't—,” he inhaled and exhaled deeply.

“Trust in the force. It's never steered you wrong,” Chirrut said, head resting over Baze's heart.

“I don't believe in the force anymore.”

“Then believe in yourself. After all, you are my force.”

* * *

Bodhi Rook had always been afraid.

As a child, anxiety had been his closest friend. As the eldest, he was the first to see what his parents went through to keep him and his safe and fed. Both had worked difficult jobs round the clock for little pay just to make ends meet. They had scrimped and saved every cent just to ensure there was food for the table, even if it wasn't always enough. Tempers were short sometimes, but Bodhi had come to realize that it was more to do with a lack of sleep than any actual anger toward their kids. As he got older, he started to take on a more active roll with his sisters, often distracting them in order for his parents to have a few moments of peace. He mowed lawns and found bottles to recycle, often slipping the money into his parent's hiding place. He didn't know if they ever realized what he was doing. They must have, but they never said anything.

He kept his head down in school, neither thriving nor failing. He tried to avoid attention at all costs. He studied just enough to stay in the middle of all test groups, to be the blandly average kid often forgotten by teachers in their struggles to ignore the trouble makers, help the ones lagging, and encourage the ones in need of more stimulation. He stayed on the periphery of several friend groups. He was afraid to get close for several reasons—his cloths were neither new nor very clean at times, and had been patched more times than he could remember; friends, especially close ones, often wanted to visit each others house and Bodhi knew that if he denied his friends that privilege, there would be talk, or worse, if he did invite them over, there would be an investigation into the one bedroom motel room they all shared with inadequate heating and spotty water supplies; but most of all, because he was different. He didn't look like the other kids at school, but had managed to avoid being singled out so far. With luck, he'd be fine until he graduated.

For Bodhi, though, luck wasn't something he could rely on. Fate, as it were, seemed to have it out for him.

He was twelve when his mom became ill. She had laughed it off as nothing, pretended it didn't exist until she no longer could. A collapse at work, an ambulance ride to the emergency room, a diagnosis, no money for treatments, dad taking on yet another illegal job to pay the doctor bills, but in the end it was too late. His father kept the job, now that he was the only provider for his family and legal means were not cutting it. Bodhi never knew what he did, but he suspected that he either ran drugs or weapons for one of the local gangs (thanks dad for making us an even bigger stereotype, he thought without any real heat). Either way, when Bodhi was fifteen and his oldest sister was eleven, his father was shot to death outside their current residence. Within the hour, CPS had been called and the five of them were bundled off into the foster care system to be lost to the world. His three younger sisters were lucky and were kept together in a group home. They were cute, round cheeks with big smiles and bright eyes, a set of twins and a younger sister close enough to be one. They were also very young. Last he had heard, they had been adopted together. His eldest sister had clung to him, crying as they tried to separate them. He had told her it would be alright, but she didn't listen. Finally, she had been ripped from his arms and loaded into a car. The look on her face haunted him for years, even as he went through his own private hell. He was shy, skinny, timid with a slight stutter, and worst of all, in the eyes of foster families, the product of a bad home. By seventeen, he had been shuffled through close to fifty homes. Whether by luck or by fate, in his last one he learned of the whereabouts of his sister, living with an older lady a few miles away. Tired of everything, he ran away, taking nothing but his coat and backpack, and went to visit her.

She had been overjoyed to see him, hugging him tightly and asking if he would stay. The lady that had taken her in, a little old blue-haired pensioner, had eyed him nervously, but had invited him in and offered him tea. He had wanted to stay with her, but looking around, he realized that there wasn't a place for him. The house was old and small, the budget tight. And yes, the state would pay a small stipend for his care, but he was due to age out in less than a year, even if they would allow him to stay. He knew it would break her heart, but he needed to move on. He thought about the contents of his bag, a change of cloths, a blanket, a notebook and a few photos of the family, the last ones to survive, and buried deep within, hidden inside his oldest pair of socks, nearly a thousand dollars that he had managed to save up in order to start a new life. As he said goodbye, assuring her that his family was just as nice as hers, he asked the old lady if he could speak to her in private. In her kitchen, he handed her the money and asked if she'd consider keeping his sister. “She's all I have left. I just need to know she's safe.”

“She's been such a dear, helping out when my arthritis kicks in. She has such perfect manners too. My family just adores her. I won't take your money, dear. You look as if you need it more.”

Bodhi nervously rubbed at a fading bruise on his cheek. “If you won't take it, I'll leave it here. I love my sisters. Thank you for everything.”

He had left that day and never looked back. He spent that night hiding under a bridge, cold and frightened, listening to the noises of an uncaring world. Just before dawn, he was robbed at knife point of his blanket and jacket, but managed to escape with his bag and, more importantly, his life. He was able to hitch a ride on a truck out of town, and soon found himself over a hundred miles away. He was able to get a job cleaning up a shipping yard for cash for a days work, no questions asked. He dug ditches and did day labor tasks, slowly stockpiling money until he had enough for visit the local thrift store. He bought himself a new coat (winter was well on its way and Bodhi still wasn't sure where he would end up) before heading to the nearest bus station. He bought a one-way ticket out of town and left that night.

He spent the next two years working odd jobs, usually relying on a fake id as reference, sending money back for his sisters. The old lady had died, but her family had asked to adopt his sister after seeing how hard she had worked to help her. Bodhi had written down the address in his notebook, and had been delighted when he learned that his sisters had been reunited, at least during the holidays. He sent both families photos of their early years so that they would not forget, and wired them money as often as he could to help. He had picked up an old laptop on the way, and as often as he was able to access free WiFi, he would send them emails and lie about himself. He told them that he was enrolled in school, studying to be a pilot; that he had a roof over his head and a comfortable bed; that he was safe and happy; that the only reason he had yet to visit was because his job was too important and he couldn't leave long enough to return. Bodhi was good at lying to himself.

Which was why he regretted ever taking the job as an assistant in a shipping company. They had merely shrugged off his lack of identification and had handed him a forged passport and papers like it was normal. It didn't take him long to realize that nothing they were hauling was legal (he thought back to how his dad had died and had a mild panic attack) but once in, once he became used to eating regular meals, having a dry place to sleep, having a constant paycheck, he didn't know if he had the strength to leave. He probably would have stayed forever, quietly going about his business, pretending he didn't notice the things that kept him up at night, if he had never met the man that gave him the courage he needed.

He had started talking with the scientist once at the facility he was waiting for a delivery from (more accurately, the scientist had started talking to him and Bodhi had found himself drawn into a conversation that continued each time he was there). The man, a Mr. Erso, had finally asked him what he was waiting for.

“Courage. I'm afraid. I don't think I can go on on my own.”

Galen had studied him a moment before clapping him on the shoulder. “You're a good man, Bodhi Rook. I'll see you next week.”

When Bodhi walked into the facility the next week, he was met by a smiling Galen Erso. “Did you mean what you said about needing courage?”

Puzzled, Bodhi nodded, following Galen toward the lounge located at the back of the first floor. “What do you know about the people you work with?”

“Not much. I try to stay out of it. Just, do my job, keep my head down. Why?”

Galen looked around before wrapping an arm over Bodhi's shoulders. “Do you know what you carry when you come here?”

“Supplies, mostly. Parts. I don't look. I think I'm happier not knowing.”

“Smart man. Have you ever heard of the Empire?” Galen asked, lowering his voice.

“They're a terrorist organization, aren't they? They've been pretty quiet lately, mostly just public demonstrations around the world. They seem more like they are bluffing than actually causing problems.”

“They're a political power, slowly gathering followers, money, more politicians. They probably have control of half the world by this point. No, they've been quiet due to not having enough resources yet for the weapons they want to create. They need things that cannot be traced.”

Bodhi's eyes opened wide. “The boxes?”

“Good boy. Yes. They've been bringing things here to be modified. They've been asking for my help, but I've been refusing. Currently they have some leverage over me that I'd rather they didn't. With your help, I believe I can get some information to the right people. It would require you to be very brave, which I know you can be. You've proven it time and again by being the only one to talk to me. Can I trust you?”

Bodhi thought back to all the times in his life he had wished he'd had the courage to stand up and speak his mind. When he was bullied in elementary school. When his mother got sick and he needed someone to talk to. When he went to bed hungry while in foster care. When he was hit and punched, when he was called names, when he wanted to disappear. He had only ever found the courage to act once, and that had been when he had fled the system. This would be a chance to do something good, to be the man he remembered his father being when he was young. He slowly nodded his head. “What do you need me to do?”

“Bodhi, I must tell you that this will be extremely dangerous. If they catch you, they will kill you.”

“I don't have anything else to lose,” he said, drawing in a deep breath. “At least if I die, it'll be for a good reason.”

Galen shook his hand and tucked a slip of paper into his pocket. “We'll meet again I'm sure. Keep your head up.”

Bodhi could never figure out how he managed to finish his assignment that day without getting caught. He felt as if he was walking around with a suspicious expression on his face, as if at any moment he would be confronted and taken away. By the time he returned to his rented room, he was a nervous wreck. I can't do this, he thought. He sat on his bed with his head in his hands, panic rising. With a sharp exhale, he dug out the note that Galen had handed him. He started to toss it away, hesitating just long enough to read it. “I believe in you. I know you'll do the right thing.” Closing his eyes, he dropped his head into his hands, elbows on his knees, crying softly. He stood up quickly and grabbed his wallet. As he shoved it into his pocket, he was surprised to find another folded up piece of paper wrapped around a flash drive. Inside were written two names and a city. He studied it for a moment, thoughts racing. He turned to face the room, noting how he had never bothered to unpack, a habit from his early years. It would be easy to leave and disappear. He had already had years of practice.

Chapter Text

The food had been finished and the kitchen cleaned up. Baze had settled back on the couch with a sigh, eyes closed, content to just bask in the warmth of Chirrut snuggled under his arm. Chirrut, it seemed, had other ideas. He had started to kiss Baze next to his ear, and in due time had taken to straddling his lap as Baze had finally gotten with the program. He had pulled Chirrut close to him, hands wandering under his cloths as Chirrut rocked against him. He pulled away for a moment in order to catch his breath. “I think it would be best to continue this in the bedroom.”

“Nope. Here is fine. Or will be if you were more naked.”

“Chirrut,” Baze grumbled.

“Baze, you left without saying anything. I didn't know if or when you were planning to return. I missed you. Now get undressed or I'll make you regret it.”

“Get off me and I will.”

“No,” Chirrut said, clinging closer.

“Petulant child,” he muttered. “How do you except anything to happen if you don't help.”

Chirrut shrugged. “I'm not moving.”

Baze stared at him for a moment before grabbing his shirt hem and pulling it over his head. “Up.” Chirrut lifted his hips, grinning as Baze pushed his sweats down.

“There's lube in the pocket.”

“Of course there is,” Baze muttered, digging out the package. “You planned this all out, didn't you?”

“I had a lot of time on my hands today.”

“So you were bored.”

“Extremely.” Chirrut resettled on his lap. “Going to tire me out?”

“We'll see.” Baze kissed him hard, hands wrapped around his ass.

“Off!” Chirrut demanded with a growl, tugging at Baze's belt.

“Impatient,” Baze said, grinning. He quickly undid his belt and zipper, groaning at the feeling of Chirrut's hands wandering down to meet his. He fumbled with the packet, finally succeeding in tearing it open before he lost all use of higher functions. “Slow?”

“Not if you value your life.”

Chirrut moaned as he felt the first finger start teasing him. He whimpered into Baze's neck as the light touches moved on to firmer strokes and finally a harsh breach. By the time Baze entered him, he was shaking, hands gripped tight onto his shoulders, fingers pulling harshly at the fabric of Baze's shirt. “Perfect,” he groaned, eyes squeezed shut.

“You truly are,” Baze breathed, thrusts getting stronger. His hands were pulling at his hips, encouraging him to move as well. It took only a few prompts before Chirrut joined in, rolling his hips forward, meeting him with each passing movement.

“More...”

“Let me—,” Baze said, trying to roll them over onto the couch, only to be stopped by Chirrut pushing him against the back again.

“No! Like this. Please!”

Nodding, even though Chirrut couldn't see it, he pulled him closer, forehead to forehead, and reached back. His fingers found where they were joined. Carefully, he started rubbing where he was stretching him tight, finger slipping in every now and then. With a cry, Chirrut jolted upright, spilling over onto his shirt, Baze following soon after. For a few minutes, neither man could move; they sat there entwined in each others arms, waiting for their breathing to return to normal. Baze recovered first. He kissed Chirrut's forehead and carefully pulled out, listening to the small whine that came from the smaller man. He rolled him off his lap and onto the couch, slowly rising to his feet with a groan. “We're getting to old for couch sex, I think.”

“No one is ever to old for couch sex,” Chirrut mumbled, clearly on the edge of sleep.

“Whatever you say. Come on. Let's get cleaned up and go to bed.”

“It's barely nighttime. You're truly turning into an old man,” Chirrut joked as he felt Baze pull him upright.

“You're practically the same age as me,” Baze said, pulling him down the hall toward their room.

“You're a year older. That makes you an old man.”

“You're an ass.”

“You love my ass.”

“You'll never stop with the cheesy jokes will you?”

“Nope,” Chirrut grinned.

“Good.”

* * *

 

Bodhi walked until he was exhausted. He had spent three weeks traveling, backtracking on several occasions to avoid being followed. He knew who one of the people he was looking for was, but not necessarily how to find him. He had managed to look up both names, coming up with very little. He found rumors, not concrete evidence. He had started to become frustrated until he had stumbled across an old photo of the man posing with a teenage boy. Both were smiling, remnants from another life. He started to track the boy and found three names attached to him, one eerily similar to the one he needed, but only one current address. The location seemed to match an address for a house near the edge of the city. It was a mixed use residential and business area, allowing for one to blend in better. He pondered what this could mean exactly, but decided it was a puzzle better left for the light of morning.

He found an out of the way coffee shop that was open all night and settled in at a corner booth near the bathroom (after first making sure that he could crawl out through the window in the tiny room if necessary); he ordered a cup of coffee, not even embarrassed when he recognized the look in the waitress's eyes, a look that said she knew he would be nursing that coffee for longer than necessary. No, he was not embarrassed, nor was he worried about standing out. There were at least three other homeless people planning to spend the night in the same manner. Once she knew what to expect, she quickly forgot about him, allowing him to catch a few minutes of sleep every now and again.

As the sun started to rise, he wandered off (he had left a small tip—he wanted to leave more, but that would have been suspicious and he wanted to be forgotten). He knew where he needed to go. He walked for a bit, finding a park where he sat and worked up his courage. Finally, knowing that putting off what needed to be done would just make it worse, he squared his shoulders and set off. He had always had a good sense of direction; his walk around the city yesterday had cemented the locations for most streets and public buildings fairly well in his mind. He quickly found the street he needed, frowning when he recognized it as where the blind man from the day before had spoken to him. Surely that couldn't be right. The man was much too old to be the boy in the photo. Had he moved and disappeared from the records? Had he died?

Anxiety was beginning to overwhelm Bodhi when he heard footsteps approaching him. It was the man from the day before, slowly walking toward the house. He was burdened with two large paper bags balanced in one arm while his other carried a wooden staff and a plastic bag. Bodhi bit his lip, warring between ignoring him and helping; in the end, he did the only decent thing he could. “Excuse me? Would you like some help?”

The man looked up, head tilted for a moment before he grinned. “Ah, see, I knew I'd be seeing you again. I'm fairly sure I can manage, but if you want to feel useful, please.” He held out his right arm, the one balancing the two bags.

Frowning, Bodhi took the bags and staggered under their weight. He regained his balance and looked at the skinny man in a whole new light. The man was still smiling, an earsplitting grin that mildly concerned Bodhi. This one could clearly be dangerous if need be.

“Come on then,” the man said, quickly walking away. Bodhi stumbled after him, arms shaking. By the time they reached the porch he was starting to regret helping. The man swiftly unlocked the door and led him toward a door in the back. He ushered Bodhi into the apartment, pointing him toward the kitchen. “Put those on the counter, please.”

Relieved of his bags, he shook out his arms and looked around. The room was brightly lit and painted a pale blue. It had a warm, homey feeling. Something in his chest clenched; in another life, something like this could have been his.

The blind man came into the room, having paused to put away his coat and stick. He nodded in Bodhi's direction and started to remove items from the bags. “Can I offer you something to drink? We have water, tea, coffee, maybe some hot chocolate left over.”

“Ah, no, thank you. I should really be going.”

“Before you meet the person you came to see? I think not. Besides, it's common courtesy to offer thanks for ones assistance.”

Bodhi's eyes narrowed. “How did you know I was looking for someone?”

“You were pacing in front of the walkway for quite a while. I assume you're here for Cassian. Baze would have mentioned you.”

Bodhi watched as the man puttered around the kitchen, simultaneously putting things away and preparing hot tea and food.

“I'm actually looking for a Joreth Sward. I have something I'm supposed to deliver to a colleague of his.”

“Hmm,” the man hummed, handing Bodhi a mug and gesturing for him to take a seat. “I see.”
The man placed a container into the microwave and grabbed some bowls from the rack by the sink. “I'm Chirrut, by the way. And you are?”

“Brady.”

“What's your real name?”

Bodhi grew still. “It's Brady. Brady Rand.”

“I know you're lying, I can feel it. Tell me your real name,” Chirrut said, voice quiet.

He hesitated for a moment, biting at his lip. He finally said in a quiet voice, “Bodhi...Bodhi Rook.”

“Well Bodhi, thank you for trusting me with the truth. That and your eyes tells me I can trust you.” Chirrut dished the food into the bowls and brought them to the table. “Eat. You look like you need it.”

Puzzled, Bodhi picked up a fork and asked, “are you really blind?”

“Why do you ask that?” Chirrut said, smiling.

“Because you keep saying things like you can see me and you mentioned my eyes. I was just wondering,” he finished weakly, afraid he had been too rude.

“I cannot see, not the way that you do. I can feel the force within living things, however. So it's practically the same thing.”

Bodhi nodded like he understood, even though he didn't truly, before realizing that the gesture was pointless. He was startled by Chirrut laughing.

“Did you just nod your head?”

“Sorry,” he stuttered, face flushing.

“I like you,” Chirrut said. He pointed toward their bowls. “Eat. You're probably starving.”

“Thank you. How much do I owe you?”

“Consider it a thank you for the help earlier.”

“Please, that's not necessary. It was the right thing to do, even if you didn't technically need the help.” Bodhi took a bite; his eyes widened. “This is amazing. Did you make it?”

“No, my husband did.” Chirrut sensed Bodhi's hesitation. “Is that going to be a problem?”

“No! No, it's not. I don't have a problem, but will he? I mean, you let a stranger into your home. You don't know me. I could be a murderer, I could be a thief. I could be anyone.”

“But you're not. You are Bodhi Rook. You are a person in need and Baze, like the idiot he is, trusts me. Both he and Cassian should be back soon and you can talk to them. In the mean time, eat and get some rest. You look dead on your feet.”

It was true. By the time the bowl was empty (in less time than Bodhi normally would have thought was possible, seeing as how Chirrut had clearly given him more than half the portion), Bodhi could barely keep his eyes open. Chirrut laughingly pushed him toward the couch and handed him a blanket. Intending only to sit for a bit, he quickly passed out. He barely flinched as Chirrut lifted his legs up onto the couch and covered him with the blanket. Thankfully, he didn't dream; he felt truly safe for the first time in too long. Sighing, he snuggled deeper into the cushions, a small smile on his lips.

* * *

Kay was bored. He had met with Cassian's—supervisors? Teammates? Who ever they were supposed to be (he didn't care enough to remember at this point), they had been extremely rude in his opinion. They had asked him hundreds of redundant questions, subjected him to lie detector tests, and made him swear allegiance to their organization (he had silently laughed at this; as if loyalty could be gained like that). That had been a week before. He had been left to putter about to his own devices since then, except he was fairly certain that he was being followed every time he left the apartment. The fact that Chirrut (who tended to spend large amounts of his time wandering around in the yard) often waved at people neither he nor Kay could see confirmed this (when Kay had asked Cassian about this, Cassian had rolled his eyes and said that Chirrut hated spies of any kind and liked to annoy them—Kay felt a small amount of admiration grow for him).

Kay had taken to spending his free time researching his housemates. He had found during his time within the Empire that no trail could be completely erased if one knew how to look. He had found that Cassian had infiltrated the organization on numerous occasions, even serving as an aide to one highly placed government official in one of the countries the Empire was currently controlling. He found a wanted poster for Baze with a minor bounty attached issued by the Empire for harassment and seizure of crew and deliveries from ten years prior; there was nothing more recent, which surprised him. He found paperwork making Chirrut a ward of a disbanded religious order as a small child, then nothing until a redacted medical report from around the same time that Baze's trail disappeared. He did, upon further searches of Chirrut's name, find a marriage certificate, dated to the year before the medical report. He made a note to research the religious order in more detail, hoping to learn more about his elusive landlords.

Kay was not looking them up in order to cause problems. On the contrary, he merely did it because he was curious. He wanted to know everything about those around him and was unable to see (or possibly care) if his searches upset anyone. It was part of the same reason he left the Empire; boundaries had never mattered to Kay.

Cassian had left that morning, promising to text him if he'd be gone for longer than that day. Kay had shrugged, feigning indifference, but in truth he was glad. He was beginning to like Cassian, whom after the first day had treated him like a human being and had asked for his opinions on things related to their living conditions. By rights, Cassian should have hated him, seeing as Kay had barged his way into Cassian's life, but Cassian had been gracious. Kay decided he would be his next big focus, right after the Whills.

He was settling in on the couch when he heard a knock at the door. Sighing, he put aside his laptop and cautiously approached the door. “Yes?” he called through it.

“Good day, Kay. Mind if I come in?” Chirrut said.

Kay activated the security feature in the wall next to the door, making sure that Chirrut was alone before undoing the locks. He pulled the door open and faced down the smiling man. “What do you want? Cassian is not here and I do not believe I should let you in without his permission.”

“Technically as your landlord, I have the right to access this space at any given time,” Chirrut said, grinning. “However, it is not Cassian I am looking for at the moment. It is you I would like to speak to. May I?” He gestured toward the room with his staff.

Kay held his ground for a moment before stepping aside.

“Thank you,” Chirrut said, carefully moving forward. He felt with the staff for the chair that Cassian preferred (and truthfully, Kay only sat in it to see if he could annoy Cassian; he found it horribly uncomfortable) and settled in. “How are you today Kay?”

“I am not a fan of small talk as a rule, so why not cut to the chase. Why are you here if it is not to see Cassian?”

“I would like you to look up someone for me.”

“Why not just ask Baze to do it?”

“Because Baze is not here right now and I'd like your take on him. I believe he was part of your former organization and I need to know just how well I can trust him.”

“If he was part of the Empire, you probably shouldn't.”

“Ah, but I trust you,” Chirrut said, voice serious.

Kay pondered this statement for a moment before muttering, “you probably shouldn't trust me either.”

“Maybe,” Chirrut said, shrugging. “But as of yet you have given me no reason not to. Cassian has never opened up his home to anyone, so the fact that he allows you in here tells me a lot.”

“He only let me in because you sent me to find him. He trusts you.”

“I merely pointed you in the right direction. Cassian made his choice.”

“Fine,” Kay huffed. “Who do you need me to look up?”

“He has two names. Bodhi Rook and Brady Rand.”

Sighing, Kay picked up the laptop. “Give me some time.” He started his search, quickly becoming absorbed in following links and obscure trails, hacking through protected data and rerouting servers so as to not be traced. He was good at what he did; his searches were untraceable, but he still maintained caution. Chirrut was a good companion for this; he did not feel the need to make small talk and was content to sit in his own dark, silent world, listening to the rapid fire typing and the gentle breathing that was Kay. Before long, the timber of typing changed, slowing at times, halting at others, resuming for a moment before Kay sighed. “You picked an interesting one.”

“Really?”

“Bodhi Rook, orphaned at fifteen, disappeared at seventeen, no arrest records, no warrants, no recognition's, only one missing persons report. Brady Rand, on the other hand, was a low level minor performer in the Empire, working as a runner within imperial controlled countries, both on the ground and in the air. He went missing after a run to a engineering facility that he made regular deliveries to, and a small bounty was placed for his return alive only. It looks as if they do not have his real name on file, nor did they care enough about him to track him. Does this help?”

“More than you can know.” Chirrut stood up, nodding to Kay. “Thank you. You've been a big help. I'm glad Cassian is opening up to you.”

Kay blinked. “He barely talks to me about anything other than food and chores.”

“Friendships have started on less.”

Kay pondered his statement as Chirrut closed the door. Friendship had never occurred to him. It was a foreign concept.

The idea of it made him extremely happy.

Chapter Text

“Chirrut, why are you sitting on the stairs?” Baze sighed. He tucked his keys into his pocket, turning to face the stairwell leading to the upper floors.

“Why wouldn't I be sitting here?” he asked, serene expression on his face. “It's just as good a place as any. Besides, I get to see my beautiful husband as soon as he comes home.”

“What did you do this time?”

“I am perfectly innocent in all things.”

Baze huffed and started to walk forward, only to have Chirrut raise his staff to block his way. Eyebrow rising, he stopped and faced him fully. “Again, what did you do?”

“We have a house guest.”

Baze rubbed the space between his eyes. “Who?”

“His name is Bodhi and he's in trouble.”

“Chirrut...” he warned.

“He needs to speak to Cassian. He has no where to go.”

“Then send him to Cassian.”

“Cassian is gone for a few days. Kay just informed me.”

“Then send him someplace else!” Baze yelled, temper flaring.

Chirrut slowly lowered his staff and stood up, his face stormy. “He stays.”

“Chirrut,” Baze said, trying to reign in his frustration, “it's my home too. I think I should have a say—”

“He's on the run from the Empire. He has a message for Cassian. I believe you're supposed to be helping him right now?”

Sighing, he closed his eyes. “How long?”

“At least until Cassian returns.”

“At least.” Baze opened his eyes and pulled Chirrut into a tight hug. “You owe me.”

“Sure, sure,” Chirrut mumbled, face pressed into Baze's chest, arms wrapped tight around his waist.

“I mean it. Anything I want, I get.”

“All will be as the force wills it.”

“Fuck the force, I get what I want, when I want it. Understood?”

“Yeah, yeah. Make me dinner, you big lug.”

Rolling his eyes, Baze kept his arm around his waist as they walked to the door. “Fine. Chili sound good?”

“Sounds perfect.”

Baze glanced toward the couch at the still sleeping Bodhi as he entered the room. Sighing, he continued toward the kitchen as Chirrut wandered off toward the bedroom. He had the ingredients prepared and simmering on the stove before he heard a noise from the other room. He stood in the doorway and watched as the young man slowly woke up.

He saw him clearly for the first time.

The man was too young for the haunted look on his face. He was thin, probably malnourished as a child; he had fading bruises on his face, hidden behind streaks of dirt and a pair of cracked goggles. His cloths had been repaired numerous times, kept neat with rows of tiny awkward stitches. His boots, which were beside him on the floor, were old and well worn; socks full of holes. He had clearly been on his own for too long and had not taken well to it. He flinched back when he noticed Baze.

“Dinner will be ready soon. Do you have an food allergies?”

“N—no—o,” he stuttered, grabbing his boots and standing up quickly. “I'm—”

“Chirrut already explained,” Baze said roughly, turning away. “Bathroom is at the end of the hall, right side. Go clean up. You're filthy.”

“Yes—yes, ah, right away.”

Baze pulled out a set of bowls before heading toward the bedroom. He listened to the sounds of the sink running, calculating if he had enough clean towels left before laundry day. Rubbing at the pain forming behind his left eye, he pushed open the door.

Chirrut was sitting cross legged on the bed, meditating, hands folded carefully on his knees. He had taken a shower earlier, his short hair still damp; he was wearing an old pair of pajama pants and one of Baze's shirts, a soft dark gray one with a hole forming in the shoulder. His face was peaceful. Crossing his arms, Baze leaned on the door jam.

“Your 'house guest' is washing up. You could have made him do that before allowing him to sleep on my couch.”

“Considering the things we do on that couch I didn't think it would matter too much.”

“He's cleaning it tomorrow.”

“Yes, yes. Whatever you want. You can reclaim your territory after he leaves.”

“Foods ready. Assuming the force will let you eat.”

“You laugh, but you used to believe once.”

Snorting, Baze turned away.

“I see you're not going to deny it.”

“Don't be smug or I'll make you dish up your own food.”

“Such a horrible husband I married.”

Smirking, Baze ignored the grumbles behind him and retraced his steps. He noticed Bodhi hovering nervously by the kitchen door, hair pulled back with a hair tie (one of Baze's if he wasn't mistaken), jacket and goggles clutched to his chest. Baze pointed toward the hall table. “Leave them there for now.”

“Ah, yes, yes of course, definitely, sorry—”

“You talk to much,” Baze said, eyes rolling.

Bodhi quickly shut up and rushed to comply. He sat in the chair Baze pointed at and tried not to fidget.

Baze placed a platter on the table filled with toppings and ladled up a bowl. “It's mild,” he told Bodhi, handing it to him. “Use the sauces or the peppers if you like it hot.”

“Than—thank you.”

Chirrut entered right as Baze filled a second bowl. Smiling, he walked with a stately purpose over to the stove and took the bowl, planting a small kiss on Baze's cheek. Baze's expression never changed, but his eyes softened. Chirrut took what was clearly his seat, with Baze following not long after.

Baze reached for the platter, spreading cheese, sour cream, and green onions on his bowl. Bodhi hesitantly reached over, taking just a small amount of the cream. Baze dumped a rather large helping of cilantro on his before handing it to Bodhi. “Stop eyeing everything; if you want something, take it.”
Smiling nervously, Bodhi nodded and began to doctor his bowl in earnest.

Chirrut sat in silence, listening to the others move around him. He slowly closed his eyes and began to intone, “I am one with the force and the force is with me. All is as the force wills it. Trust in the force and allow it to move through you. Feel it surround every living being and connect us as one. Have faith and may the force be with you always.”

Sighing, Baze said, “hurry up and eat before your food gets cold.”

“Traditions must be observed,” he said primly.

“Tradition was why you never got enough to eat.”

“Heathen,” Chirrut said without heat. He reached unerringly for a bowl of diced onions, quickly followed by jalapenos, hot sauce, and chili paste. “Did you forget the red pepper flakes?”

“You don't need them.”

“What about the garlic paste?”

“Do you not want me to kiss you tonight?”

“Make the blind man do everything,” Chirrut sighed, as he stood up to hunt for the rest of his toppings. Finally satisfied that his food would be too spicy for anyone to handle, he returned to his chair, grin splitting his face. Bodhi watched in horror as he took the first bite, glancing at Baze to see if he was going to be okay.

“And that's why I make it mild. No one but this fool could eat it that way. In case you've forgotten, no one here is going to steal your food. Nor do you have anything to prove.”

“Maybe I like it this way,” he said around a mouthful of jalapeno.

“I regret ever talking to you,” Baze said, turning back to his bowl. Chirrut started laughing, cloudy blue eyes lighting up.

“So, Chirrut told me you were here to see Cassian,” Baze said, pointing his spoon at Bodhi.

Gulping, he nodded his head.

“He's away on business. Might be a few days.”

“Oh. Oh...” Well, damn, he thought. He mentally ran through his dwindling resources, calculating if he would have enough to spend on a cheap room somewhere. “I'll get out of your hair, then, after dinner. Thank you for the food, it's delicious.”

“You're staying here and that's not open for discussion,” Chirrut said.

“But—”

“Chirrut is right. If what he told me is true, you're safer here. However, it won't be a free ride,” Baze said. “You'll help out, keep the place clean. Stay out of the way. Once Cassian is back, you two can decide what you'll do from that point. Deal?”

“Ah, yes, okay...”

“You can use the couch. Do you have a change of cloths? Those are filthy. I don't want them anywhere near my stuff.”

“Half of it is mine,” Chirrut argued.

“Not the point.”

“I, um, I only have one other set; these are the cleanest anyway.”

Baze glared at him. “I'm burning your cloths tomorrow.”

“You can borrow some of my things. I might have something that will fit you.” Chirrut stood up and set his bowl in the sink. “I'll go find something. Baze will get you a towel and another blanket.”

Baze sighed and moved toward the stove. “Do you want more?” he asked, searching for containers.

“I can have more?” Bodhi asked, incredulous.

“Feel free.”

He quickly scrambled over and dished up another helping, filling the bowl. He was half way through it when he noticed Baze dishing up what was left into individual portions, carefully eyeing them so that each was a similar amount. Once he was done, he sealed them and placed them in the freezer, lining them up along side the other containers in a way that could only be deliberate. Baze noticed him watching and quietly said, “each type of food goes in a certain place so that Chirrut can find them if I'm not here.”

“If my being here is going to cause a problem, I can—”

“You're staying. End of discussion.”

“But you don't like me.” It wasn't a question.

“I don't know you and that makes me wary. You worked for the people that I fight. I trust Chirrut, no one else. Whether I like you or not is not your concern. I believe in Chirrut, even if I think he is too trusting. Hurt him, however, and you'll have to answer to me.”

Gulping, Bodhi nodded in understanding.

“Found some cloths for you,” Chirrut called from the hall. “I'll leave them on the sink.”

“Towels are in the hall cabinet. Use anything but the gray ones. I'll find you a pillow and blanket after.”

“Thank you,” he said softly, setting his empty bowl in the sink and backing away.

Baze leaned against the sink and sighed. His quiet world was coming to an end. He was being drawn back into a fight he had hoped to leave behind, for all the good it would do. This wasn't a fight they could win alone. There would be no peace.

The darkness was taking over again.

* * *

Bodhi took his time in the shower, enjoying his first chance at hot water in a while. He had been nosy and had rummaged through the cabinets, finding an unopened toothbrush package tucked into a drawer (he didn't think Chirrut would mind, but Baze scared him). He scrubbed the layers of dirt out of his hair, muscles relaxing for the first time in too long. He didn't know what the next few days would bring, but he planned to enjoy what little security he had right now. It had taken him a while to realize that that was what this was—safety. He had never slept well around others, always having to watch his back. And yet here, he had slept an entire day away in front of a stranger.

Toweling off, he pulled on the old cloths that Chirrut had left out. He was thin enough for them (they clearly belonged to Chirrut, seeing as Baze was much wider), though the pants did require him to roll up the cuff. Pulling back his hair again, he carefully hung up the towel and gathered up his dirty cloths. He only half hoped that Baze had been joking about burning them. He started to walk back toward the living room before he heard the voices.

“Are you mad at me?”

He recognized it as Chirrut, though it was a tone he hadn't heard yet. It was unsure and hesitant, at odds with the vibrant, carefree attitude he knew.

“No,” came the soft reply. “I'm not mad. Just concerned.”

“Baze...it's going to be okay.”

“Is it?”

Bodhi slowly crept forward, standing where he could observe but not be seen himself. Chirrut and Baze were sitting side by side on the couch. Chirrut had Baze's hands firmly clasped in his own, his face soft and sad. Baze's eyes were downcast, his shoulders slumped.

“I would never intentionally do anything to hurt you.”

“Then why bring us back into this fight? We left it all behind. The Empire, the rebellion, all of it. Why bring it to us?”

“Because we can only run so far. This fight is bigger than us, but we can make a difference. You used to believe that.”

“Have you forgotten what they took from us? Have you?” Baze's voice was raw with pain, his fingers tightening on Chirrut's hands.

“You know I haven't,” Chirrut whispered. “Do you truly think I could ever forget?”

“I can't lose you.”

“You won't.”

“You don't know that. I almost did once and it almost killed me. I can't go through that again.”

“The force protects those that believe.”

“Don't.” The anger was back. “Don't spout nonsense.”

Chirrut was silent for a moment. He pulled his hands out of Baze's and pulled him close, tugging gently until his head was leaning on his chest. “I'm not going anywhere. You won't lose me,” he whispered, voice shaking.

Baze slumped into his hold, arms tight around his back. “I won't let them take you.”

“They won't.”

“I'm not joining this fight.”

“We may not have a choice.”

“I can't.”

“I'm sorry.”

Bodhi retraced his steps and closed the door behind him. He sank to the floor behind the door, head on his knees. I brought this to them, he thought. It's on me. Deep down, he knew that wasn't true. But he couldn't help the voices that spiraled through his head.

He stayed hidden until he heard them go to bed. He quietly ventured into the living room, finding the couch turned into a cozy bed, complete with sheets and a set of blankets, a pillow fluffed and ready. He excepted to not fall asleep for a while, thoughts churning as they were. But he was safe, he was welcomed (as much as he could be), and he was warm.

He was out before he could fully plan his departure the next day.

* * *

“Look, man, I don't know anything.”

Cassian kept his expression neutral, even as he wanted to scream in frustrated rage. This had been happening over and over; he tracked down leads only to find either they knew nothing or that they only knew what he already knew.

He wished General Draven would let him use Kay already, but he understood the concern. He himself was reluctant to follow that route for few reasons, one being that he was starting to like the man. He was refreshingly honest, even if it grated on his nerves at times. He wanted to be helpful as well. Cassian decided that he'd start feeling him out on the lead front once he returned. Assuming he could get what he needed today.

“All I'm asking is if you know a Liana Hallick. I heard she's for hire and I have a job I need done.”

“You'd just as soon as get a knife in your back as any assistance,” Garth muttered, draining his mug and signaling for another.

Cassian resisted the urge to sigh. “I thought you didn't know anything?” He was carefully nursing his drink; he had a high tolerance for alcohol, a plus in his line of work, but he had been searching for leads for hours and had already imbibed in more than he should have.

“Yeah, I know her. Worked with her once. She's a devil. Fights like a crazy person, doesn't back down easily. Doesn't talk unless it's necessary. Cold. Aloof. Money isn't even a driving factor,” he said, as of unable to believe his own words. “Who doesn't take jobs for money?”

Who indeed? “What did she do when you knew her?”

“Ran interference. Security mostly. She worked with Saw the first time I met her. Not sure which one scared me more. That man is crazy. Unpredictable. She's just calculating. Mark my word, you avoid her at all costs.”

“So you've said.” Cassian tossed some bills on the bar as Garth's next drink arrived. “When did you last hear of her?”

“Oh, not for a while now. Not her personally, at least. But there are rumors.”

“Rumors?”

Garth glanced around before dropping his voice. “Rumors that the Empire is looking for her. There was a runner of theirs that went missing recently; they'll pay good money to get him back. Somehow, their names got attached. Maybe she helped him, maybe he's got something for her, I don't know. I stay out of the Empire's business. Keeps my head in one piece. All I know is she's probably laying low. Saw ain't seen her in years, but he's looking for her too. Can't say he'll be very happy when he finds her.”

“Who is the driver?”

“Brady something. Reed? Rand? Band?”

Cassian turned his glass in a slow circle while studying Garth. The man's eyes were glassy and distant, his ruddy face beginning to sweat profusely. He was swaying slightly, a good sign. It meant Cassian could slip away unnoticed. Smiling once, he patted Garth on the shoulder. “Thank you, my friend, you've been a big help.”

Grunting, Garth returned to his drink, already forgetting Cassian had ever been there. Pulling his coat tighter around his body, he wandered back out into the night, alert for those that might follow him. He had a name to track now, another in a long list.

It was definitely time to bring Kay into this, and maybe Baze if he could convince him to fully join the cause. Sighing, he started the long process home, already forming contingency plans for covering his tracks. Cassian had not survived as long as he had by not planning ahead. He used his brains and street smarts to keep himself safe, but he also trusted his instinct. It was what had led him to Chirrut and Baze's house three years before. It was what led him to trust them with what he did. It was why he had agreed to take in Kay. Now, it told him that Kay was about to become vital.

Home had never sounded as good.

Chapter Text

Jyn realized her mistake as soon as she turned into the driveway of the motel. She had been here before, less than a year ago. She had been in this town before, and in fact had left it in bad terms. She slowly drove through the parking lot, weighing her options. It was late and she had been traveling for days. She was tired; rest was essential and she needed time to form a new plan. On the other hand, she could be recognized here, especially if any of Saw's enemies still existed in this part of the world; if not, the Empire might have their hand here.

In the end, practicality won out. She needed to rest. She needed food. And it would look more suspicious if she drove away at sunset than if she stayed. She had changed her hair since she had last rolled through town. She'd chance her luck.

She shifted through the cards in her wallet, pulling out an identification for a Nari McVee, an alias she rarely used but kept active for days like today. Keeping her stride loose and her head up, she walked into the office.

“What'd'ya want?” came the bitter reply to the off-key bell over the door.

“I'd like a room, please. Single occupant.” The please was a calculated risk. Being either too polite or too rude could backfire; the clerk was eyeing her with suspicion, studying her face and attempting to recognize her. Keeping a bland smile on her face, she stopped at the counter.

“Might have a room or two left. It'll cost you.”

Jyn kept her expression neutral. She could see by the number of keys on the wall that nearly every room was empty. This is a bad idea her inner voice warned her. “How much?”

“Hundred fifty.”

She inwardly cringed at the outrageous amount. A room in a dump like this shouldn't have cost more than half of that. “Okay. I think I can do that.”

“Cash only. No change.”

Of course. Jyn pretended to search her wallet, pulling out bills that were gently worn, no identifying marks worked into them yet, finishing off the bill with ones and pocket change (because she wanted to see him count everything out and verify that she hadn't cheated him; it would give her a least a little bit of pleasure).

Scowling, he counted and recounted before dumping everything into a lock box and gruffly grabbing a key. He threw it on the counter. “If I find out you have anyone else in there with you—and I will find out—you'll pay double, ya hear?”

“Of course, thank you.”

Huffing, he dropped back into the chair, paper rising, forgetting she existed now that he was done harassing her. She walked back to her car, noting that her room was 113. Contrary to its number, it appeared to be on the second floor, near the far end. She moved her car closer to the stairs and pulled out her bag; the boxes hidden in the trunk could stay there. She'd decide what she intended to do after.

The room turned out to be just as bad as she imagined. Stained carpet, old worn down bed, moldy shower, and unidentifiable smell. Just like the hundreds of rooms she had lived in over the years. Places forgotten by time, left to their own devices; places where memories did not linger and people turned blind eyes away from the despair. She tossed her bag on the dresser and flopped onto the bed, landing lightly on her back.

Food first, she thought. There was a dinner across the street that looked like it specialized in cheap food for the truckers passing through. She could blend in there fairly easily. Then a shower. As much as the bathroom disgusted her, she needed one. Finally, a cat nap. She had already decided not to stay. If the traffic pattern held, there would be several convoys passing through tonight. It would be easy to slip out as one went by. She'd have to retire the Nari persona, but that wouldn't be a hardship. She had others.

The food was as she expected, bland and overly salted, but it was warm. She sipped at her coffee, tucked into a corner booth, paper spread before her. The waitress had only acknowledged her long enough to take her order, then had gone back to gossiping with a laughing man at the other end of the counter. Jyn listened with half an ear, noting that the man was probably a hauler of some kind. She had turned the page when she suddenly became interested in their conversation.

“Still haven't seen that punk you used to bring in here? The little guy that seemed scared of his own shadow?”

“Nah,” the guy spit out. “He's probably long gone by now. Bounty still stands, though. Personally, I think he probably got himself killed out there. Boy couldn't survive for shit. Never stopped running his mouth.”

“Maybe he joined that rebel group that hides in the mountains?”

“They'd kill him before helping him. Boy like that ain't worth the dirt he walked on.”

“Still,” the waitress said, refilling his coffee, “you'd think the Empire would be trying harder to find him.”

“They don't want anyone to know they lost him in the first place. Plus, it wouldn't do to have people realize just how far they're spreading.”

“Alliance doesn't care about us,” she said, bitterness seeping into her words.

“True, but there's no way that those clowns will sit back if they knew how close they were to losing everything.”

Interesting. Jyn signaled for her check and paid, leaving her change as a tip. She walked back to her room, thinking over what she had learned. Saw's men must be the rebel group. They must be targeting shipping lines again, trying to impede both sides in their war efforts. The Empire was missing low level people. That didn't concern her as much, though she filed away the information for a later date. The fact that they were running supplies through this area was a concern. The only road through town lead to an Alliance held country. That meant either infiltration or a full on invasion was about to be underway.

Her decision was made. She needed to leave. Grabbing a set of cloths, she rushed through a shower and repacked her gear just as the first truck pulled up across the way. She would wait an hour before leaving, enough time for the drivers to arrive and eat before they began the long drive again. She set an alarm on her watch and settled in. She was thankful that she had always been able to fall asleep anywhere quickly. It had helped while traveling with Saw and his rebels and again in rowdy towns and while hiding out in train yards (a year of her life she'd rather forget). She never slept deeply, which was why she was up and alert as soon as she heard the first step creak. Rising swiftly, she grabbed her pack and swung it onto her back, truncheons in hand. Her knife was still strapped inside her boot (she never removed them while sleeping, her paranoia too high for that) and a taser rested on her hip. She moved to the side of the door, waiting.

The steps were slow and quiet, as if trying to sound unhurried. She listened and was able to discern four unique sets. She knew they were coming for her. She had known since she had stepped out of the car that this town was probably a mistake. She would be fine; she had handled worse. Saw had seen to it that she could defend herself against anything.

The footsteps moved on. She waited, her breath even and light, eyes closed, counting. At ten, she heard them stop. There was a quick shuffling as they lined up. Surrounding the door. Crouching down, she steadied her weight, count beginning again. By seven, she heard the leader mutter something indistinct. There was a faint bump against the door. She drew in a deep breath, eyes closed tight, and held it.

With a bang, the door flew open and the first person dove in. Jyn jumped into the air, truncheon flying to hit him in the back with the right, left hitting the second man in the face as he came in through the door. With a cry, he fell back into the leader, who was shouting for order. She landed on the first man, grinning as he cried out in pain. Swiftly, she barged past them and out the door, ducking beneath the arms of the third man as he lunged forward. She roundhouse kicked him in the back and grabbed the rail. Not giving herself time to think, she dived over the side, grabbing at a hanging lamp to slow her fall. She hit the ground and rolled onto her shoulder, allowing it to take the brunt of the impact, and crouched as she got her bearings. The leader was yelling orders, pointing toward the stairs. She scrambled to her feet as the first man reached the bottom, face full of rage. She darted away, circling as he advanced. She narrowly avoided his punch as she ducked, truncheon hitting him full in the stomach. He went down, wheezing. She didn't think he would be getting up again any time soon. She turned in time to see the other two running up. She aimed at the first one's head, kicking at the second one. She tasered the first man and swung at the second when she heard felt something metal press into her back. Freezing, she dropped her weapons, breathing hard, as the gun was pressed harder against her.

“Well well well. If it isn't little Jyn. Saw's been expecting you. He's not going to like you very much though when he hears what you did to his men.”

“Talon. It's been awhile. I see you're still afraid to do your own dirty work.”

Laughing, he moved slowly away. “Get up, you idiots. Get the van.”

“What about Frank?” one of the men asked, pointing to the unconscious guard on the floor.

“We should leave him, but that'll arouse suspicions. Grab him too.”

“Where are we going?” Jyn asked, carefully shifting her weight.

“Never you mind. Saw will either explain or he'll kill you. It's not really my concern.”

Fuming, Jyn bid her time. She didn't fight as Talon secured her wrists with zip ties, nor as he removed her bag and weapons. The bag he tossed aside before hurrying her into the van. She bit her lip as he blindfolded her and tried her best to relax.

“Go,” Talon said, softly.

“Hey, boss. Isn't she wanted by the Empire? Why don't we just sell her, make some money.” The voice was nasally and wet sounding. Jyn couldn't help but smile at the fact that she had broken his nose. She wished she had done more.

“We don't work for scum,” Talon growled. “For that, you'll be answering to Saw directly when we get back.”

“It was just a thought. I don't know why he even likes her. She betrayed everyone.”

Jyn stayed quiet, letting them argue. She wondered what Saw's endgame was. He had tracked her down before, in the past and again recently. He had asked her to help with missions that he was running; sometimes she would accept, sometimes she would decline. He had found her to return her parent's stuff, now potentially lost forever in a broken down old car abandoned at a run down motel in the middle of fuck knows where—she mentally drew a deep breath and tried to relax. She focused on the sting of the bruises she felt forming, on the cut of the zip ties, on the smell of sweat (okay, seriously guys, even freedom fighters need to shower), on the gentle hum of the tires on the road. She rested and tried to mentally plot their route.

After what felt like hours, but was probably a little less than one, she felt the van start to rise into the hillside. She figured from the number of turns they had taken they were trying to throw her off, keep her from anticipating their destination. She was rehearsing in her head what she would say when she felt the van begin to slow.

“The hell is that?” she heard one of the men mutter.

“Roadblock ahead, boss,” the driver called.

“Everyone stay calm. Pull over slowly.”

Breath speeding up, Jyn started testing her bonds. She figured she could break loose if she was willing to dislocate a thumb (something she had done before and was loathed to do again, but desperate times called for desperate measures). She subtly shifted in her seat, ready to react.

“Here's the paperwork,” Talon said, leaning toward the driver. “If no body does anything stupid, we'll be—”

His words were interrupted by a loud explosion outside the van. Jyn was thrown forward, chest impacting hard with the seat back in front of her. She heard shouts and commands being thrown around, quickly followed by gunshots. Dropping to the floor, she rubbed her head against the seat back, trying to remove the blindfold. She had almost succeeded when the door was ripped open and she heard Talon cry out as he was shot point blank. He slumped across her, weighing her down.

She was struggling to break free when an armored hand grabbed foot and pulled her from the van. She was tossed to the ground, pain flaring up through her ribs. Rough hands reached down and yanked the blindfold off, taking a chunk of hair with it. She blinked against the harsh light from the headlights. Around her were the bodies of three of Saw's men. Nasally voice was crouching to the side, hands on his head, eyes wild.

“I did what you wanted,” he was saying, babbling it over and over. “I did what you wanted, I got you the girl, you can't do this to me, I helped you, I'm supposed to be rewarded!”

“Here's your reward,” the armored trooper said, raising his gun. Jyn closed her eyes as the shot hit. She'd seen enough death, she didn't need to see more. Deep down, she knew that he was better off; had Saw found him first, his death would not have been as painless.

“Hey.”

She looked up at the trooper standing over her, his gun still drawn.

“Get up. Krennic is waiting.”

Jyn paled at the name, at the reminder of a past she had tried hard to forget. She was pulled bodily to her feet, zip ties cut off and electronic cuffs locked on. She was pushed toward the back of a troop transport. Hope at escape was fading fast. She was just hoping to survive at this point.

Chapter Text

Chirrut woke up slowly, basking in warmth of Baze at his back. He listened to his soft exhales, smiling at the feeling of his breath warm against the back of his neck; he pulled his arm tighter around his midriff, sighing as Baze pressed closer. He waited to see if he would wake up, but it didn't seem like a possibility. Chirrut tried to settle back into sleep, but was unable to. He carefully disentangled himself, laughing at the annoyed huff that followed his movements.

Moving slowly, he left the room and headed for the bathroom, pausing in the hallway to listen to Bodhi's gently snores. It was still early, then. Going about his business, he splashed water on his face before returning to bed. Baze had rolled onto his back; he snuggled in next to him, head pillowed on his chest. Sighing, Baze rolled toward him, pulling Chirrut tight against his chest. Chirrut wrapped his arms around him as well and fell back asleep with his face tucked in tight. He would take this peace when he could. It was a rare occurrence.

When he woke again, the sun was up; he could feel the warmth coming from the side of the room that housed the window. Groaning, he pulled away and sat up. Baze mumbled something about bed and rolled away from him. Stretching slowly, Chirrut stood up and shuffled toward the kitchen.

He was half way through heating water for tea when he heard Bodhi come into the kitchen. “Good morning. Did I wake you?”

“No,” Bodhi said with a yawn. “I was planning to get up soon.”

Chirrut hummed and grabbed two mugs. “Tea?”

“Oh, ah sure. Thank you.”

Smiling, Chirrut pointed at the counter. “What'll it be?”

“There's more than one kind?” Bodhi asked, incredulous.

Laughing, Chirrut asked, “bitter, mellow, fruity, or floral?”

“I'm not sure?”

“I'll make you mellow. Ease you into things.” Chirrut reached unerringly for two separate canisters, opening a drawer to located a measuring spoon and filter bags. Bodhi watched fascinated as he measured out the leaves, never once making a mistake or dropping a single leaf. He poured the water and moved toward the fridge. “Milk? Honey? Lemon?”

“How do you drink it?”

“That depends on the tea. I'd suggest milk if your not really sure.” He pulled out the carton and set it on the table along with the honey and a spoon. He next tossed the filters and set the mugs down in front of them. “Try it first and add what you need.”

Taking a careful sip, Bodhi reached for the milk, pouring in a generous amount before adding a large spoon of honey. He grimaced as he caught a whiff of Chirrut's. “What is that?”

“Green tea with jasmine. You probably won't like this one.”

“It smells bad.”

“The taste is somewhat acquired. It's one of my favorites, though.” He finished off his mug and placed it in the sink. “I'm thinking bagels for breakfast. Sound okay with you?”

“You don't have to feed me all the time,” Bodhi muttered, embarrassed.

“Yes I do. You're my guest. Plus, you need food.” Chirrut wandered back to the bedroom, dressing quickly. He came back out, keys in hand and started to leave.

“Where are you going?” Bodhi asked, turning away from the sink where he had been cleaning up.

“There's a bakery down the street. I'm going for bagels obviously.”

“Can I come along?” Bodhi asked, sounding like a lonely puppy.

“Grab a coat and lets get going.”

Bodhi rushed to catch up, grabbing his old coat as he went. Chirrut was already halfway down the walk, staff held loosely in his hand. Bodhi closed the door behind him and caught up at the gate. He shrugged on his jacket as they started down the walk, Chirrut humming a wordless tune, a serene smile on his face. He walked with an assurance that Bodhi envied, as if nothing would ever dare to stop him.

Bodhi tried to remain quiet, Baze's words from the night before running through his head. He turned to watch a woman walking her dog across the street before looking up the watch the clouds lazily move across the sky. He tried counting his steps next, a trick he had learned as a child to keep from calling attention to himself during field trips.

“I can hear you thinking from here,” Chirrut said, amused.

Gulping, Bodhi glanced nervously at him.

“Feel free to ask whatever is on your mind. If I feel like answering, I will.”

“How long have you and Baze known each other? Where did you first meet? How did you know he was the one? Does he ever scare you like he scares me?” He would have asked a thousand things more except that Chirrut had started to laugh uncontrollably.

“Ah, Bodhi Rook, you clearly never do things in halves. I like that. Short answers—we've known each other since we were about ten, we meet at the temple while studying, I knew he was the one when he didn't run away, and no, he's never scared me. Don't let his bark fool you, he's a big softie.”

“Maybe toward you,” Bodhi muttered. “What temple? What were you studying?”

“The Temple of the Whills in Jedha,” Chirrut said. “An old religious group now gone. What we studied doesn't matter anymore. It is best forgotten, though the force lives on in all living things.”

“You're from Jedha? That's where I was born.”

“Were you,” Chirrut said, humming softly. “There's no such thing as a coincidence. All is as the force wills it.”

Before Bodhi could say more, Chirrut pointed toward a door. “We're here.” Stepping inside, he moved toward the counter and smiled in the direction of the clerk. “Good morning,” he said, voice friendly and warm. “I'd like six plain bagels please, and five everything. Bodhi, do you want anything different?”

“Um, it's okay, you don't—”

“What do you want?”

“...blueberry?”

“And three blueberry please.”

“That'll be $17.45,” the clerk said, his partner starting to bag things up. “Did you want cream cheese to go with it?”

“Yes, two if you can.”

Nodding, the clerk reached into the refrigerated case under the counter and tossed them in the bag as it was handed over. “$23.”

Chirrut pulled out his wallet and handed over a twenty and a ten. Bodhi could see that the bills had been carefully arranged and marked, corners folded in precise ways so that he could tell right away which were which. Chirrut handed him the bag and waited patiently for his change. The clerk counted it out into his hand. Bodhi frowned, noticing the clerk, while counting out the correct number of bills, had failed to return the correct amount.

“Excuse me, but that's not right.”

Chirrut turned toward him, eyebrow raised.

“What?” asked the clerk, eyes narrowing.

Blushing, Bodhi shakily reached over and picked up the money. “You gave him three ones, not a five and two ones. That's wrong.”

Chirrut turned back toward the clerk, frown forming on his face.

“Dude, come on.”

“No,” Bodhi said. “It isn't right. Give him the correct change.” Bodhi's voice was shaking as well now. He had done something he had never done before. He had drawn attention to himself, made himself memorable. But he knew he couldn't back down. This was not something he could ignore.

Glaring, the clerk pulled out the correct change and handed it over. Chirrut carefully tucked it away and nodded. “Let's go home,” he said softly to Bodhi, turning toward the door. Bodhi rushed to catch up, glancing back to see the two clerks talking, heads together. He nearly bumped into Chirrut as he stopped abruptly.

“Why did you speak up?”

Bodhi looked at the ground. “Because what they did was wrong.”

“You're a good man, Bodhi Rook. The force did a good thing by bringing you here. I truly believe that things will work out in your favor.”

Eyes tearing up, Bodhi followed in silence behind Chirrut. No one had thought him important or brave for far too long. He didn't even think he was. He was lost in his own thoughts, startling as Chirrut started to speak.

“Baze and I met when I was ten and he had just turned eleven. His grandfather brought him to the Temple of the Whills to study the ways to be a guardian of the force. It was a tradition in his family. I was a considered a temple rat, an orphan living off the kindness of the monks. Where we grew up, temple rats were despised. I wasn't blind then. I remember him arriving, looking proud and scared. He was so young, still warm and loved. He had never seen cruelty or viciousness. His grandfather had gone to speak to the head monk and had left him in the courtyard. I threw an apple at his head,” Chirrut said laughing, eyes bright. “He was so startled, though how he could be, I'll never understand; he had three sisters, one of whom was just like me—uncontrollable, a free spirit. I was sitting in a tree, grinning like a monkey. He pretended to not care, but I could see he was angry—his ears were red and he was frowning. I teased him a bit and finally came down from my perch. I expected him to punch me; in fact, I think I wanted him to. I didn't think I needed friends at the time. I was happier alone. But he talked to me, made me laugh. In truth, I corrupted him. Took a nice boy and made him an outcast within the walls of the temple. He didn't care. I've never completely understood why, but all is as the force wills it. That's what I keep telling myself.”

“Maybe he knew you were a good person,” Bodhi supplied shyly.

“Nah, he was an idiot.” Chirrut turned up the walk, pace slowly slightly. “But he's my idiot, so I guess that makes me one too.”

“What do you two do for a living?”

“You'll have to ask Baze that.”

Bodhi followed Chirrut into the kitchen, setting the bag down where Chirrut indicated. “Can you start the coffee?” Chirrut asked, pointing toward the far side of the kitchen. Bodhi nodded, the habit ingrained. Chirrut was pulling dishes out of the cabinet when a tired sounding grunt came from the doorway. “Good morning sleepyhead. How would you like your bagel?”

Groaning, Baze shuffled forward and wrapped himself around Chirrut. Laughing, Chirrut pushed at his hands as they attempted to snake down his pants. “Behave yourself, you brute! We have a guest.”

“Get out,” Baze said, eyes closed tight, nose pressed into Chirrut's shoulder.

“Going,” Bodhi said nervously, scrambling out of the room.

“Bodhi! Stay!” Chirrut yelled, twisting out of Baze's grip, elbowing him as he started to whine. “Here,” he said, handing Bodhi a plate with four bagels and a tub of cream cheese. “Take this up the the second floor and give it to Kay. Tell him they're from Chirrut. Then come straight back here for breakfast. Do not even think about wandering off, understand?”

“Ye—yes,” he stuttered, rushing out of the apartment.

“Quit trying to scare the boy,” Chirrut scolded softly, kissing Baze on the cheek.

“It's my apartment, if I want to touch my husband I should be allowed,” Baze mumbled, dropping into a chair with another groan.

“Yes, yes. I can see you need to assert your dominance. I'll let you later. But first food,” Chirrut said, handing Baze his coffee. Chirrut turned back to the stove and started making another cup of tea. “Baze,” he asked softly, “do you remember how we met?”

“How could I forget. You threw food at me and called me big nose, then you made fun of my ears.”

“I liked your ears,” Chirrut laughed.

“Whatever. You really hurt my feelings that day,” Baze said, drinking half his cup in one go.

“I made it up to you,” Chirrut said, setting a plate before him. “Besides, I was a stupid little shit at the time. You can't hold that against me.”

“What's brought this about? Why the sudden questions about our past?” Baze asked, curious.

Chirrut pondered this as he set the other plates down. “Just thinking about things.”

Baze hummed and took another sip. “We'll talk about this later. In the mean time, who made this shit?” he asked, holding up his mug.

“Bodhi. That bad?”

“Excruciating.”

“I'll make you some tea.”

Chirrut had just settled in at the table when Bodhi returned. “How did things go with Kay?”

“Well, I knocked on the door and when he answered I told him what you told me and he said to go away and then slammed the door in my face.”

“Ah, better than I expected,” Chirrut said, grinning.

Bodhi cautiously sat down, eyeing Baze. “He kind of scares me.”

“Kay's just grumpy, like this lump,” Chirrut said, poking Baze.

Baze halfheartedly slapped his hand away and pointed at Bodhi. “You are never allowed to touch my coffee maker again.”

Bodhi looked sheepish. “Sorry. I probably should have mentioned I've never made coffee before.”

Sighing, Baze stood up and left the kitchen.

“I'm heading out to the garage if you want to join me,” Chirrut called.

“I'll get changed,” Baze yelled back.

“The garage?” Bodhi asked, puzzled.

“Come join us, you might like it,” Chirrut said, smirking.

* * *

The garage turned out to be a gym. One side had a few modest pieces of equipment while the rest was dedicated to a sparring area, complete with mats lining the floor and walls. Chirrut and Baze had changed into sweats and loose fitting shirts. Bodhi was huddled into a corner, nervously watching them stretch. He had noticed that Chirrut was significantly smaller in stature than Baze; he was slightly worried, especially since Chirrut kept goading Baze. He drew his knees up as they settled into fighting stances and was astonished when within seconds Chirrut had Baze pinned to the ground; his movements had been too fast for Bodhi to track, other than the blur that was the smaller man flipping his partner over his shoulder.

“Getting slow, old man,” Chirrut teased, backing off.

“I'm only a year older,” Baze complained, standing up and resettling.

“Exactly.”

Baze huffed and moved forward. This time the fight lasted longer, though the conclusion was the same. Chirrut remained on his feet with Baze sprawled before him.

“I'm bored,” Chirrut lamented. “Staffs?”

“As long as I get to hit you, yes.”

“You can try,” Chirrut sing-songed, laughing. “Bodhi, did he just roll his eyes at me?”

“Yes.”

“Good. That means I'm winning. Can you run in and grab my staff. Keys are by the door.”

Bodhi rushed off. Baze took a moment to shake out his shoulders and grab some water. He handed the bottle over to Chirrut, who hummed his thanks. “You're not putting your full effort into things,” Baze said, studying Chirrut's smaller frame.

“Neither are you,” he countered.

“It's been a while since we did this.”

“Is it your shoulder again?”

“Yes. Thanks for throwing me on it,” Baze said sarcastically.

“I'll rub it later. And if you didn't want me to aim for it, you should defend against it better.”

Baze was saved from replying by Bodhi's return, surprisingly with Kay in tow.

“I was bored and this seemed better than sitting around.”

“You can sit with Bodhi,” Chirrut said, taking his staff and doing a test swing. “Ready Baze?”

Grunting, he grabbed a staff from a rack near the wall and moved toward the center of the mat. “Try not to break anything.”

“All is as the force wills it.”

The first hit sounded like thunder, harsh and forceful. Soon their movements had taken on a rhythm, a flurry of moves that were more dance than fight. Neither man gave much ground, but moved forward and back in an easy give and take. Baze clearly had the brute strength to lay out his opponent, but Chirrut had the finesse and grace to counter. Where Baze was large and powerful, Chirrut was lean muscle, movements economical and fluid. Bodhi watched with his mouth open, unable to comprehend what he was seeing. Even Kay was impressed, though he would never admit it. The fight had been going for several minutes, neither man showing signs of backing down, when a new figure entered the building. He was wearing a blue parka with a fur trim; his shaggy black hair pushed back from his eyes. Leaning against the wall near the observers, a smile played across his face.

“Good morning, Cassian. Welcome back,” Kay said.

“Hey Kay. How long have they been up to this?”

“Several minutes now, though I believe Chirrut is about to win.”

“Ah.” Cassian glanced down at Bodhi, puzzled. “I don't believe we've met. I'm Cassian.”

“Oh, um, hi, I'm Bodhi. Bodhi Rook.” He held out his hand.

“Hello Bodhi Rook,” Cassian said, amused as he shook his hand.

“He's supposed to be talking to you,” Chirrut called, spinning and dropping, aiming for Baze's leg. With a bitten off curse, Baze jumped back to avoid it, hooking his staff behind Chirrut's knee. Chirrut rolled with it and came up on his knees, staff connecting with Baze's and sending it flying. “Ha!” he yelled before Baze caught him with his foot and flipped him over. “No fair!” he cried as Baze dropped his weight on him, effectively pinning him to the floor face down.

“Plenty fair. You give up?”

“No.”

Baze dug his elbow into his back, making him yelp.

“Okay, fine. You win this round.”

“That's what you get for being distracted,” he said, moving to help Chirrut to his feet.

“It was a pity win,” Chirrut muttered, rubbing his arm.

“Sure, sure.”

Cassian looked down at Bodhi, eyes narrowing. “Why would he say you're supposed to talk to me?”

“Oh, yes, um, I was looking for someone named Joreth Sward and Chirrut said you might know them.”

“And why were you looking for them?” Cassian asked, voice growing cold.

“I—” Bodhi stood up and backed away. “I was told to find a man named Saw, but when I looked him up I couldn't find anything about him. I tried searching, but I could only find one picture. There was a boy in it named Joreth, and then I found this address and I came here.”

“Who told you to come here? Who?!”

The others were watching, wary. Chirrut moved closer to Bodhi but didn't intervene. Kay was looking back and forth, eyes wide. Baze was tense, hand clenched in a fist. Bodhi had started to shake, eyes fearful.

“It was Galen,” he whispered. “Galen Erso.”

Chapter Text

Cassian paced back and forth. He was tired. He had spent two days traveling through Imperial territory and the better part of the night and morning debriefing. He had been looking forward to coming home and sleeping for a few days (hell, he thought, a few weeks would not be enough), not walking into what was quickly becoming a nightmare. He looked over at the man huddled on his couch, looking terrified and on the verge of tears. Calm down, he told himself, this one is going to need you to remain calm.

“Bodhi, I'm sorry that I yelled before, but it has been a bad couple of days. If I promise not to yell again, will you speak with me?”

“I'm sorry, I'm sorry! I shouldn't have come here! I never should have done this, I should have run away like I thought. I'm not brave enough for this, I can't do this, I can't—”

Shit. “Bodhi, please. Calm down. It's going to be okay.” Cassian ran his hands through his hair and dropped into his chair. Kay had agreed to make himself scarce for a while. “Would you feel better if I had Chirrut come up?”

Bodhi shook his head and wiped his eyes.

“Okay. Okay. Let's start at the beginning. You said Galen sent you. How did you meet him?”

“I was a runner,” he whispered. “I moved supplies for the Empire, but I didn't know that's who they were at first. You have to believe me. I'd never do something like that otherwise. I just needed a job, I needed the money; I was so hungry and scared—I—”

Cassian quickly tried to calm his babbling. “Shh, it's okay. You defected. You did the right thing in the end. You'll be safe here.” Why did you say that, he internally berated himself, you can't guarantee that. “I'll assume you met Galen on one of these runs?”

Bodhi nodded. “He, he worked at one of the facilities I went to. At least I thought he worked there at first. I realized in the end that he was trapped there, that they wouldn't let him leave. He told me that they were holding something over him, some kind of leverage. He told me that they were making him work on some kind of energy research, something to do with weapons. He—”

“Yes?” Cassian gently prompted.

“He—he told me I had the courage to do the right thing. That I just needed to be brave.”

There it was. Cassian closed is eyes for a moment, remembering things best left forgotten. “He was right. You were very courageous in what you did. It took a lot of bravery to leave and even more to come here. You were very smart.” He knew he had said the correct thing when Bodhi gave him a watery smile. “But I have to ask, do you have any idea what the leverage they're holding over Galen is?”

Bodhi shook his head. “No. I'm really, really sorry.”

“I believe I know what it is.”

Cassian and Bodhi both jumped, turning to look at the door. Kay stood in the doorway, trying to be discrete.

“I believe they are after his daughter, Jyn.”

* * *

Cassian had sent Bodhi back to Chirrut, knowing that he would get nothing more out of the man that day. Later, he would need to take him to the base, have what he had told him verified and cleared, but for now they both needed to rest. Pushing Bodhi Rook farther at the moment was likely to backfire. He glanced up as Kay handed him a plate of food.

“You looked like you needed this.”

He smiled slightly. “Thank you, my friend.”

“Are we really?” Kay asked, sitting on the couch.

“Are we what?” Cassian asked, puzzled.

“Friends. We've only known each other for a short amount of time. Are we really friends?”

Cassian pondered the question before carefully saying, “I believe we are well on our way towards being ones. I think we could definitely be friends if we get to know each other more.”

Kay studied his feet a moment, watching Cassian start to eat out of the corner of his eye. “I like movies about space,” he said.

Cassian paused, fork held in mid air. “Space?”

Kay nodded. “Movies. About space. Educational, science fiction, I'm not picky. I just think there is something awe inspiring involved in it.”

Cassian nodded his head, starting to smile. “Me too. Especially sci-fi.”

Kay nodded. “I love the old cheesy b-movies, the ones with the horrible effects.”

“And the horrible robots,” Cassian said, laughing.

“God, those things are so fake.” Kay shook his head. “I could build a better one.”

“I'm sure you could. Hey, I have a collection of old movies if you ever want to watch them.”

“I'd like that.”

Cassian smiled. “What else are you interested in?”

Startled, Kay tilted his head. “You really want to know?”

“I like learning about my friends.”

Kay smiled. “Well, I do love to read...”

* * *

Chirrut waited until he heard Bodhi close the bathroom door before turning to Baze. “Do you still think we can sit this one out?”

“Chirrut,” Baze warned.

“No. I'm not backing down. Answer me. Do you still think we can sit this one out?”

Baze turned away, arms crossed. “This isn't our fight.”

“Did you see his face?” Chirrut asked, angrily pointing toward the bathroom.

“Did you?”

“I'm not joking this time Baze.”

“I know!”

“How can you sit back and let this happen? You used to care.”

“I still do!” he yelled, rounding on Chirrut. His face was flushed in anger. “I'm out there, day after day, doing what I can. Those 'jobs' I take, every one of them, is about trying to stop this insanity, for all the good it's doing. I've been helping Cassian. What more do you expect me to do?”

Chirrut glared right back, hackles up. “I expect, Baze Malbus, for you to care about those that can't defend themselves. Or have you forgotten about that part of you?”

“He's not you,” he growled, poking him in the chest.

“Isn't he? How is this any different from the temple rat you rescued once?”

“Don't call yourself that.”

“Why? Does it hurt you? To think about the cruelty of the world? Do you really hate who we used to be so much?”

“You—” Baze started, only to be cut off by Chirrut raising his hand.

“That boy could very well have been me if I had had anyone to care about me as a child. I chose to lash out, not to hide. And look at what that got me. Fights, bruises, extra duties, no food. I never would have made it if you hadn't come along.”

“That's not true.”

“Stop lying. You know what would have happened.”

“I know what did happen. It's my fault that you're—”

“Don't.”

“Now who doesn't want to relive the past?” Baze laughed bitterly.

“I will never blame you for that.”

“But I blame myself. You can't change that.”

Chirrut placed his hands on his cheeks. “You're a fool.”

“So I've been told.”

“This fight is coming, whether we run or not. It's time to do something.”

“Maybe I don't want to fight anymore,” Baze whispered.

“Maybe I do.”

Baze touched his shoulders, hands gripping hard. “And what if it doesn't end? What if nothing changes? What will we do then?”

“Know that we helped set the right things in motion.”

Head dropping, he finally nodded. “Alright. I'll help. But just this once.”

“I love you,” Chirrut whispered, kissing him gently on the head.

“Love you too,” Baze whispered back. “I'll talk to Cassian later.”

“Thank you.”

Baze sighed and slumped against him. “I better get amazing sex for this later.”

“Well, Cassian will probably have to take Bodhi in for a clearance check later. I think I might be able to arrange something,” Chirrut said, smirk spreading across his face.

“God, you're such a tease.”

“You wouldn't have me any other way.”

“Unfortunately.”

Chapter Text

“If you are going to take Bodhi in, I want to come along,” Kay argued.

“Absolutely not,” Cassian said, shrugging into his jacket.

“Why not? I can be of assistance. Plus, I want to prove my 'loyalty' toward your precious organization.”

Sighing, Cassian rubbed at his face. “I can hear the quotes in your voice and that is why I'm saying no.”

“I thought we were friends.”

“Kay, look. I'm going to have enough trouble convincing Bodhi he's not in trouble. I don't need you tagging along and causing more problems with Draven. Please,” Cassian begged, “just stay here. I'll be back tonight and we can talk more.”

“You're going to need to find Jyn Erso, are you not? Let me come along and I'll help with that.”

“Kay, why?”

“Because I'm bored,” he said. Cassian stared at him. “I'm tired of just sitting here all day. I came to you expecting to be of use. I didn't expect you to do what everyone else has done and ignore me.”

Cassian sighed. “Fine. You can come. Maybe if you find something, I can finally convinced Draven to let us use you more.”

Kay smiled; putting on his scarf, he followed Cassian out of the door. “Wait. You've been trying to get me on your team?”

“Well, yeah. You've already given us some good information. Why wouldn't I want you to help more?”

Kay pondered this as they walked down the stairs and knocked on door below them. Baze answered, rolling his eyes at them. “Come in,” he muttered.

“Bodhi, are you ready?” Cassian asked.

Bodhi nervously looked up from where Chirrut was checking the fit of a coat. “No, but I guess I don't have a choice.”

“Not really,” Cassian said, with a gentle smile. “Let's go.”

“Just a moment,” Chirrut said, feeling along the lapels. “This should be presentable enough. And here.” He handed him a small carved stone. “May the force guide you in all things.”

Bodhi took it carefully and nodded, throat tight. “Thank you for the cloths.”

“It's fine. Baze is going to wash yours later. You need something for now.”

Bodhi tucked the stone, etched with the Jedhan symbol for luck, into his pocket and looked at Cassian. “Okay. I'm ready.”

“Are you really?” Kay asked.

“No, but stalling won't help.”

* * *

The drive was uneventful. Bodhi was a little surprised that Cassian didn't try to conceal where they were heading, though he supposed there was no point. They were far from the Empire's territory and even if he wanted to return, they would just kill him. He didn't want to go back. He wanted to stay. He wanted to be safe. He liked where he was right now, even if he knew he probably wouldn't be allowed to stay there for long.

The car pulled up to a gated building. Cassian flashed some kind of credentials and gave a coded phrase to the guard, too soft for either occupant to hear, and was let in. Before long, they were pulling into an underground parking lot. Bodhi's anxiety was rising. As they got out, Cassian came around and clapped him on the shoulder. “Everything will be fine.”

Nervous, Bodhi stayed close, head swiveling to take in everything as they entered the building. Kay walked along with the same ease as Cassian, not bothered in the least by the men and women in uniforms moving around them, some bearing weapons, some tablets and folders. Cassian gestured toward a hallway and a bank of elevators, quickly ushering them into the nearest one and pushing the button for the third floor.

“I'm taking you to meet the senator first,” he told Bodhi, licking his lip. “I think it will be better.”

“Hang on,” Kay said, glaring at him. “You had me see the general first. Why doesn't he have to?”

“Because I knew you could bully General Draven. He can't. Besides, what he knows is directly what the senator needs to hear.”

“Senator?” Bodhi asked, nervously playing with the cuff of his sleeve.

“Senator Mon Mothma. She's a powerful figure within the republic. She'll want to talk to you. She's very fair, provided you don't lie to her.”

“And who's Draven?”

“The man I report to. You won't like him.”

“I don't like him,” Kay added.

“I'm not sure anyone really does,” Cassian said. “But he knows how to do his job and how to use the intelligence we gather to our favor. You'll meet him, but hopefully not for a while.”

“The man is an asshole,” Kay said to Bodhi in a conspiring tone.

“Yes, thank you Kay. Feel free to shut up now.”

Bodhi continued to grow more nervous as they walked down the hall. Up here, people were watching him with distrustful expressions; even more were out right glaring at Kay. Cassian kept his head up, pausing to whisper something to the guard stationed outside the door. Nodding, the guard knocked on the door and spoke to the aide that answered. Glancing at the party waiting, he nodded to let them in. Cassian pushed him in front of him.

Never in his life had Bodhi wanted more to run away. He was terrified. What if they didn't believe him? What if they took what he said and then imprisoned him? (He guessed there could be worse things, though from what he had heard of prison, he didn't think he would survive long.) What if they held him hostage, or worse, used him as an exchange for one of their own caught behind enemy lines? He was starting to tremble, sweat building on his forehead.

“Senator, I believe you received my email?”

“I did, Captain Andor. Is this the man?” Mon Mothma had stood up behind her desk. She was dressed in a long white tunic over gray pants, sensible yet elegant. She turned to study Bodhi; he felt as if her eyes were seeing into his soul. He tried not to flinch.

“Yes, senator. This is Bodhi Rook. Bodhi, meet Mon Mothma. She'll listen to what you have to say.”

“Good to meet you, Bodhi. Cassian, I'll send for you when we're done. Please, have a seat.” She gestured toward a chair and resettled herself behind the desk.

Bodhi looked nervously over his shoulder at Cassian, trying to smile back when Cassian clapped him on the shoulder with a smile. He gulped as he heard him and Kay leave the room, the locks engaging behind them.

“Relax Bodhi, no harm will come to you here in this room.” The threat stood that outside was another story, depending on how their talk went. “Let's start by telling me what brought you here.”

Drawing a deep breath, Bodhi began his tale, perched on the edge of the seat.

* * *

Cassian reported to Draven, leaving Kay alone in a lounge with his laptop. “Can I access the transmissions received from the empire while I wait?” he asked. Cassian had nodded, giving over his code and warning Kay that he would be monitored as soon as he logged in. “Not like I'm trying to hide anything,” he muttered, pulling up an archive search of the Erso's. He had been searching for a while, pulling up dead-ends before stumbling across a photo from a security camera that flagged as Jyn. Frowning, he pulled up the footage, noticing that the girl in the video had taken great care to keep her body turned so that her face never was fully turned toward the camera. She had only been caught once, in a blurry image as she glanced back, as if watching for a follower. Kay pulled up a documented photo of her to compare, noting some similarities. He stood up and wandered over to the tech area. One of the men looked up and frowned. “What are you doing here?”

“I need you to cross reference this photo,” Kay said, holding out his laptop. “I believe it might be Jyn Erso.”

The office, which had already been fairly quiet, grew still as the tech studied the screen. “Where did you find this?”

“From a security camera in Wobani. That's an Imperial held country. I believe she was there recently. I could search by myself, but it will go faster with help. I believe she is one of the people you've been looking for?”

The tech handed back his computer and reached over to snag another chair. “Let's get started.”

* * *

“You should have brought him straight to me! What were you thinking?”

“General,” Cassian said, “with all due respect, I know I made the right choice. If given a gentle nudge, Bodhi will talk your ear off. If I had brought him here, he would be a rambling mess. He never would have gotten anything out.”

“That is not the point,” Draven scowled as he paced back and forth. “I'm the one that is in charge of intelligence. Or have you forgotten that? It's up to me to decide what is useful.”

“I haven't forgotten, but you will have a chance. If he feels safe, he'll open up to us and tell us everything he knows, which I can tell you is not a lot. He mostly knows about weapon shipments, which the senator will need if she plans to argue the case about moving against the empire. We would finally have a legal backing in the war.”

“You need to listen to me—”

“Cassian!” Kay yelled, bursting into the room, followed closely by the tech calling “General!”

“What is this nonsense!?” Draven cried, spinning around. “Who gave you permission to just walk in here?”

“Be quiet, I'm trying to talk to Cassian,” Kay said, pushing past Draven. Cassian rubbed his hand down his face, silently asking for the strength to deal with these idiots. “Look what I found.”

“I helped,” the tech said, glaring.

“Yes, yes, bravo for you. You only found anything because I pointed it out.”

“Kay!” Cassian hissed, as Draven exploded.

“Get out!” he yelled, pointing at the tech. “And you,” he said, rounding on Kay, “I should have had you locked up when I had the chance.”

“Excuse me, I—”

“General, please,” the tech pleaded. “You need to see what he found.”

Cassian looked at Kay, puzzled. Kay straightened up and held out his computer.

“I believe I found Jyn Erso.”

The exclamation was met with silence. “How did you...?” Cassian started to ask.

“Where is she?” Draven asked, moving forward to look at the proffered information.

“In the hands of the empire, I'm afraid. She was picked up near the outskirts of a town near the border of Wobani and Jedha. She appears to be in trouble.”

Chapter Text

The ground the transport raced across was uneven. Jyn sat with her cuffed hands in front of her, secured to the back wall. She was silent, events of the last day or so playing through her mind. Saw would have been disappointed. She had made too many mistakes, allowed herself to become too tired. She never should have stopped at the motel; she should have left when she first felt something was off; she should have retired that ID years before. Stop it, she told herself harshly. Hindsight would not help her now. She needed to focus on her current situation. She studied the troopers around her. There were four in the main transport area, and two in the drivers compartment. She knew she could take out that many easily, but first she would need to get her hands free. Sighing, she rested her head against the wall, eyes closing. The closer they came to their destination, the harder escape would become. She needed a plan.

“Ten minutes from check-in,” one of the troopers called out, waiting for acknowledgment from the others. They had made periodic stops to check-in with their base. Maybe, she thought, maybe I can use that time as a distraction.

“I heard they're phasing out the current rifles for a newer model,” trooper one said.

“About time. The old ones jam too often for my taste,” trooper two said. Jyn rolled her eyes.
Conversations within ground troops were the same no matter where she was. “Hey! Did you hear about—”

His sentence was interrupted by an abrupt explosion, the transport skidding around. The troopers started yelling out orders, falling quickly into formation. She tried to brace herself as another hit rocked the transport again. She felt more than heard the tires blow over the screech of metal and closed her eyes as the vehicle rolled over, crashing to a stop at the bottom of a small incline. Ears ringing and eyes blurry, Jyn flinched away as the doors were wrenched open and shots rang out. The troopers, having momentarily been stunned in the crash returned fire, but were quickly taken out. Armed individuals, helmets covering their faces, stormed inside. One rushed to her. “Jyn Erso?”

She blinked at him, unsure of what he wanted.

With an impatient sigh, he asked again. “Are you Jyn Erso?”

She slowly nodded, watching as one man cleared the transport. Two more stood outside, but from the noises she was hearing, she knew there were more hidden out of sight.

The armored man leaned forward and cut off her restraint. “Come with—”

Jyn surged up and hit him as hard as she could under the chin, cuffs adding extra weight. He went down with only a strangled cry, the second man turning quickly. “The hell?” she kicked him hard in the thigh, bringing her hands down on the back of his skull as he fell forward. Pivoting, she ran for the doors, leaping out into the beginnings of a sunrise. She crouched low, looking quickly from left to right, noting opponents. In front of her stood a man dressed in tactical gear, visor of his helmet flipped up. He was clearly the leader of the group.

“Jyn Erso. Stop. We're here to—” He was cut off as her fists hit him in the stomach, hard enough to knock the air out of him. He doubled over, retching, as she charged past him, running full out for the hillside surrounding them. If she could find cover, she would be safe.

As she rounded the vehicle, the shouts of the men ringing out behind her, she ran into a wall of a human being. Stumbling back, she lunged past him, growling as he grabbed her by the back of her jacket. He spun her around, easily dodging her kick. “Stay still,” he growled harshly, rifle gripped tight in his right hand. She twisted loose from his grip just as their leader staggered up, hand pressed tight to his stomach. She noted with some satisfaction that he had vomit on his cloths. She charged him again, only to stop short when the big man lifted her bodily into the air. She twisted around, gasping as she felt a needle stabbed into her neck. He dropped her, making her grunt as the world started to go blurry.

“I told you to do that before releasing her,” the man growled, disgust in his voice. “Next time listen to me.”

“It's not a good way to gain trust,” the leader wheezed, clearly in pain. She missed what was said next as the injected drug took over and she passed out.

When she came to she was on a plane. Nausea made her close her eyes tightly, breathing slowly through her nose. When she finally felt stable, she opened her eyes and looked around. The large man was sitting across from her, eyes closed. He was still wearing his gear, weapon resting across his chest. She glared at him, pondering who he could be with his shaggy hair in its messy braids and the over grown facial hair. He didn't look like a typical soldier, though he moved like one.

“Are you feeling okay?” came a voice from her right.

She turned and saw the leader standing between her and the cockpit. He had changed into clean cloths and was eyeing her warily.

“No, I'm not. I've been attacked no more that three times in the last twenty-four hours, I'm starving, I'm dehydrated, I don't know who any of you people are or even what you want, and I've had some unknown substance injected into me!”

“You're welcome,” the large man said, eyes still closed.

Huffing, she turned back to the leader. “Who are you? I demand to be released at once!”

“I'm afraid we can't do that.” He had the decency to at least sound embarrassed. “We really are trying to help you. We're with the rebellion.”

“Speak for yourself,” the big man muttered.

“I'm Cassian and that's Baze.”

“Charmed.” Jyn held up her hands. “Can I at least have these taken off? They're getting uncomfortable.”

“I'm not sure that's a good idea,” Cassian said.

“So I'm a prisoner? This isn't supposed to be a 'rescue'? How very surprising.”

“You're not a prisoner,” Cassian said, sighing. “Look, I'll take take off the cuffs if you promise to not fight. We really are trying to help you.”

“I'll promise no such thing.”

Cassian scratched at his head and glanced at Baze, who was choosing to ignore the exchange.

“At least promise not to punch me again.”

She stayed silent and held up her hands.

Cassian cautiously approached her and pulled something from his belt. He touched it to the cuffs, causing them to short out. He pulled them off and stepped back. Glaring, she rubbed at her wrists and looked around. “Where are we going?”

“Rebel base. The alliance has been looking for you and your father for quite a while.”

“Good luck finding him,” she spat out; “he's been missing for years.”

“So you haven't heard from him?” Cassian asked.

Jyn's face grew hard. “No. After he abandoned me, he choose to not contact me. I don't know where he is nor do I really care.”

“Lying to us will not help you,” Baze said, leaning further back into his seat.

“I'm not lying, I don't know where he could be.”

“We heard he might be working for the empire.”

She rounded on Cassian, eyes narrowed. “My father would never work for those people. He was a pacifist.”

“Then why are we finding information stating that he's been working on a project for them?” Cassian asked cruelly.

Jyn clammed up, her anger radiating out.

“We're not your enemy,” Baze muttered, “nor is your father. You cannot imagine the forces at work that effect the world right now.”

“I have been living this fight my whole life,” she said, voice cold. “I've watched people I love die, I've lost my home, my friends, my identity. Don't tell me I don't understand.”

Baze finally lifted his head and faced her. She blinked as she caught sight of the large scar that ran from his left temple to below his ear. “You're not the only one who has lost everything. You are not special. You can't keep running if you want to stay safe. Grow up, child.” He settled back, eyes closed tight, a nerve jumping in his temple.

Cassian sighed and sat down near her. “Being a pacifist will only get you killed today. We'll take you in and you'll tell us what you know. Afterwords, if there is someplace you'd like to go, we'll help you get there. You have my word.”

“And why should I trust you?”

“Because I took your cuffs off. No one else on this plane would do that.”

She turned away and pretended she was anywhere else. She was good at that.

* * *

Jyn had ignored everyone for the remainder of the flight. Cassian had tried at first to make small talk, but had quickly given up. Baze had feigned sleep until the pilot had announced they were back in Republic airspace. He had then excused himself toward the cargo hold in back, passing the galley were the remainder of the team was sitting. Cassian had watched him with a wary expression before moving off to speak to the pilot. Sleep had won out at this point. She had lost track of just how long she had been awake, but she knew that she couldn't go much longer. She startled awake, fists raised, to Baze touching her shoulder. He was nonplussed by her reaction and handed her a bottle of water, a protein bar, and individual package of generic ibuprofen. She frowned at him.

“Take it. You probably need it. I know he did,” he said, pointing toward the now sleeping Cassian.

She nodded her thanks and set about opening the packs.

“We'll be there within the hour,” He said, resettling in his seat, weapon at the ready again. He closed his eyes and tilted his head back. Jyn watched him, curious about the different sides she had seen of him. Cassian too. She wondered what waited for her now. She wondered if she even cared.

The plane landed at what could only be considered a base. Cassian gestured for her to follow him. She held out her arms at the bottom of the ramp, waiting for him to cuff her, but he had merely shook his head. “Come on.”

Frowning, she walked out onto the tarmac, Baze several feet behind her. Cassian turned toward his men. “Go debrief with General Veers, then check in with medical. You're dismissed after that.” They nodded and moved off, starting to joke among themselves. Cassian sighed and walked toward the building to their left. His steps were measured, his shoulders slightly hunched. Jyn suspected he was nervous. She knew she should be as well, but she wasn't. She would take whatever came her way with dignity, something instilled within her by both Saw and her mother.

She was led to a conference room deep within the compound. Along the way, they had picked up a set of guards that now stationed themselves inside the door. Jyn faced the table were seven individuals were seated in various styles of dress ranging from military uniforms to business suits. Cassian nodded to the two at the far end as he moved to her right side. Baze pulled a chair away from the table and sat behind her slightly to the left, eyes watching everyone. It made her think that he was guarding her not the room. He had finally relinquished his weapon to a guardsman outside, though he kept the armor on.

“Jyn Erso?” asked the woman dressed in white at the far end.

Oh how she hated that name sometimes. She glared back, refusing to speak.

“We've been looking for you for a while,” said a man to her left, gray hair slicked back. “You're a very hard person to find it would seem.”

“Popular, too,” another man said, eyeing her. “I've heard that the mountain rebels have put out a reward for information on you. Any idea as to why?”

Jyn kept her head high and her expression cold. She refused to break first. Beside her she heard Cassian mutter, “I knew this was a bad idea.”

“Let us be frank,” the woman said. “We know you are the daughter of Galen Erso. We know that the empire is currently looking for you, live capture only. We know that you have worked with extremist in the past, but have been on your own for a few years. What we would like to know is why everyone seems to be looking for you at once.”

“As he said, I'm popular.” Jyn eyed the table, arms crossed over her chest. “Is this an interrogation? If it is, it's not a very good one.”

“It is merely us trying to work with you,” the woman said, giving no indication that Jyn's words might have hurt her.

“If you'd prefer it, we could force what we want out of you,” said a man leaning in the corner, arms crossed like hers, a murderous look in his eyes.

Jyn laughed, eyes rolling. “I've been trained since a child to withstand interrogation techniques from various groups. I'd be surprised if you had anything that would work against me.”

“Be that as it may,” the woman said forcefully, cutting off the man's next sentence, “we'd much rather work with you as an ally, not as an enemy. We know that Galen is working with the empire. Our concern is that it might not have been voluntary.”

“What my father chose to do with his life after my mother died is of no concern to me. I haven't seen him since I was eight.”

“We have evidence that he is being held against his will within a research facility and is working to construct a weapon. The Empire has been looking for you. We believe it's to use you as leverage.”

“I mean nothing to him,” she said, bitter. “He proved that long ago.”

“I don't think that's quite the case,” the woman said, eyes reading more than Jyn was comfortable revealing. Jyn shifted nervously. “We would like you to help us. If we can find Galen, we can recover him and have him give evidence at a senate hearing against the empire. If we can gain more resources, we can put an end to this war that has been dragging on for far too long. This would be a chance for you to make things right.”

“And if I refuse to help? Just how comfortable will my cell be? Or will you hand me over to your enemies in exchange for others? I know how this works,” Jyn spat out, eyes blazing. “I am a bargaining chip, usefully until not. This is why I was hiding. I want nothing to do with—with politics and, and fighting. I just want to live my life as a normal being!”

“Does sleeping in run down motels and constantly running from place to place, no friends, no support, no possessions equal freedom?”

Jyn fell silent, hands clenched at her sides, chest heaving. “It was still my choice,” she said, voice quiet.

“And we're giving you another. Help us make things right.”

“We could always put you back where we found you,” the man in the corner said, eyes narrowed.

“I'd escape.”

“You didn't this time.”

“I'd find a way.” The stubbornness had returned to her voice.

“Please,” the woman said, hand raised in a placating manner. “We're all on the same side. How many more innocent people have to die before you see the truth?”

“I have seen it. The outcome is inevitable. I could help you, but at what cost? I would still be a prisoner.”

“We'd provide you with a place to live, food and necessities. A chance at a real life.”

“Within the walls of this base, I'm sure. That's not freedom.”

The woman stared at her, appraising. “And yet you'll help us?”

“I'm not exactly being given a choice, am I?”

“There is always a choice.”

“I'll tell you what I know, which is very little. I spent more time with Saw Gerrera's rebels than my own family. I know nothing about what my father has been up to.”

“Anything will help.”

“And after? Will I be allowed to leave?”

“We'll discuss that when we finish.”

* * *

Cassian was exhausted by the time the questions were finished, though he knew that for Jyn it had probably been worse. He could remember being in her shoes before, alone, not knowing who to trust or where the next meal would come from, not knowing if safety or danger was around the next corner. He had been much younger, though, and had gotten out of it before too much time had passed. He couldn't imagine doing it for as long as she had. He studied her profile, noting that her sarcasm and haughtiness had never diminished, even though she was clearly sagging. Everything she was saying was being recorded, to be analyzed at a later date. Behind them, Baze had yet to move. Cassian could never understand how the man could remain so still for so long and yet be more alert than the rest.

Cassian straightened his shoulders as Mon Mothma folded her hands. “Thank you, Jyn. I believe that will be enough for now. What you've told us has been very helpful.”

“Am I to be shown to my cage now?”

Sighing, Draven scowled at her. “You never quit, do you?”

“Apparently.”

“I'll call for a guard to escort you to your living quarters,” Mothma said, ignoring the barb.

Behind him, Baze cleared his throat. “With respect, I'd like to take charge of her.”

Frowning, Cassian turned toward him. Jyn raised an eyebrow as he stood up and moved to stand beside her.

“That won't be necessary,” Draven growled.

“On the contrary. She's the known daughter of a man helping the Imperials. Many here have lost family and friends in this war. She'd be a target. Unless you do plan on locking her up, she'd be in danger.”

“Are you saying we can't do our job?” Draven asked, voice cold.

“Interpret it as you will.”

“She stays on base.”

“Is she a prisoner?” Baze asked, insistent.

“She is not,” Mothma said.

“Then she comes with me. Cassian and I will keep her in line.”

“She is wanted by the Empire,” one of the men at the table argued.

“So are we. You're already watching my house, at least this way there will be a reason.”

Mon Mothma considered his proposal before nodding her head. “Very well, but we will be checking in. Miss Erso, I expect you to keep helping us. You are dismissed for now. And Mister Malbus. You'd best know what you are doing.”

Grunting, he moved toward the door. “Come on,” he muttered to Jyn. “The sooner we leave the sooner we're home.”

Cassian hesitated in the doorway, waiting to be dismissed by Draven. Draven flicked his hand at him. Sighing, Cassian hurried off after Baze. He knew he would pay for this later, but he couldn't bring himself to care at the moment.

The sun had long been set by the time they walked from the building. Baze had his phone out and was having a hushed conversation with someone, most likely Chirrut, Cassian suspected. Jyn was walking along as if she didn't care, but Cassian could see the tension in her shoulders. He pulled out his phone and sent a quick text, waiting for the reply before pocketing it.

Baze hung up and turned toward a garage. “Car's over here.”

“Just a moment,” Cassian said, watching a trio of men approaching them. Jyn frowned, noticing that they were carrying boxes with them. Cassian hurried over and pointed them towards Baze's car. Jyn stopped, unable to believe what she was seeing. Baze gently pushed her forward and into the backseat. Cassian settled into the front, eyes down. They had exited the compound and were driving through the dark streets before Jyn found her voice.

“Where did you get those boxes?”

Cassian sighed. “I sent some of my men to investigate the motel you were staying at. I told them to get your things. The base cleared them, though they might have confiscated a few items. I'm sorry. I just figured you'd like your stuff back, at least as much as we could recover.”

She sat there in silence, watching the city blocks roll past. It was well after midnight. As they pulled up in front of a house, Jyn tapped Cassian on the shoulder. “Thank you,” she whispered.

Nodding, he got out of the car and grabbed a box from the trunk.

“Third floor,” Baze muttered, grabbing the rest. Jyn followed them inside, freezing when she saw three men waiting in the doorway to the left. Baze sighed. “Go to bed,” he muttered to the group, moving quickly up the stairs. Jyn found herself staring at the older man, frowning at his blue eyes. He seemed to sense she was watching him and grinned back. She hurried up the stairs, catching up to Cassian.

“Who...?”

“The rest of the household. You'll meet them tomorrow.” He walked into the sparsely furnished room and set the box down. “Bedrooms are to the left and right.”

“Chirrut had Bodhi help him set up the room for you. Bathroom's next to the kitchen,” Baze said, walking out of the bedroom on the left and heading for the door. “There's some food on the counter. Make sure you eat it,” he called back, already moving down the stairs.

Cassian ducked his head. “Try and rest. I'll see you in the morning.”

Jyn stood there as the door closed and looked around. The rooms had been hastily cleaned. There was no furniture in the living room, a few mismatched plates and tableware in the kitchen, as well as the food. Taking a hasty bite, she wandered toward the bathroom and found a towel set, a toothbrush, and soap sitting on the counter. The bedroom had an old small bed, sheets and pillow tucked in carefully, curtains closed against the streetlight. She returned to the boxes, taking quick inventory, noting that most everything of her parents was there, with the exception of her father's notebooks and one photo of her father and his former colleagues. She sat down in the entryway, tears in her eyes. She had fully expected to never see any of it again. Tired, she slumped over on her side and cried, trying hard not to think about what might come next.

Chapter Text

Baze walked into the apartment, noting Bodhi sitting at the table struggling to stay awake. He nodded to him and walked into the bathroom, rushing through a shower to remove the worst of the grime and sweat from the last few days. He grimaced at the bruises blooming across his body, dressing quickly in the cloths Chirrut had left for him. He paused outside the door, listening to Bodhi sleeping and checking that the lights were off. Satisfied, he went into the bedroom. He was met by the sight of Chirrut sitting up in bed, legs crossed, arms propped up on his knees, chin on his hands. He moved about quickly, tossing his cloths in the hamper and putting away his personal items. Chirrut was silent, waiting for him to settle.

He laid down and Chirrut rolled toward him, wrapping his arms around his chest. “Bad trip?”

“Not the worst, but not the best.”

“First time you've ever brought someone home,” Chirrut said shrewdly.

“She had no where else to go. The alliance wasn't going to protect her. Too many people want her dead right now.”

Sighing, Chirrut snuggled in closer, head resting on Baze's shoulder. “I should have known that someday you'd bring home a younger girl. I knew my days were numbered. Just be honest with me. Is she prettier?”

Chirrut's laugh was interrupted by a pillow hitting him in the face.

“You,” Baze grumbled, smile forming as he sat up. “Keep up the stupid jokes and I just might.”

Laughing full out, Chirrut sat up and kissed him. “Tomorrow I want the full story. Tonight, though, I think a little fun is in order.”

“I've been up for over thirty-six hours,” Baze complained even as he reached for the hem of Chirrut's shirt.

“You can stay awake for another twenty minutes.”

“You seriously underestimate how horny I am right now,” Baze said, pushing him back. “How heavy a sleeper is Bodhi?”

“Pretty heavy usually,” Chirrut said, shuddering. “Unless you touch him.”

“Good,” Baze said, settling his weight on top of Chirrut. He was nipping at his collarbone, enjoying the little tremors running through the body beneath him. He sighed as Chirrut pushed at his pants. “Quit being so impatient.”

“Maybe you're moving too slow.”

“I could stop you know,” he said, pulling back. Growling, Chirrut grabbed his shoulders and flipped him over, hands grabbing his sweats and pulling them off.

Baze groaned as Chirrut moved between his legs, hot mouth engulfing him. Sitting up, he brushed at his hair, moaning as Chirrut pushed deeper. Eyes closed, he struggled to remain still, feeling the tension building. Unable to wait any longer, he pushed at Chirrut's shoulder, moving him away. He flipped him onto his back, fumbling on the nightstand for the bottle he knew they kept there. Chirrut laughed breathlessly as Baze kissed him, fingers working to open him up. He sighed as he felt Baze sink into him, gentle thrusts becoming stronger as time went on. All too soon, he was whimpering and groaning, mind blank as Baze rocked into him as hard as he could. Right at the end, before the peak, Baze leaned into his ear and whispered, “I love you.” It was what pushed both of them over the edge in a headlong rush that threatened to overwhelm their senses.

Panting, Baze collapsed on top of him, eyes closed tight; he knew he didn't have to worry about being too heavy and was, either way, in no big rush to move. He slowly became aware of Chirrut petting his hair, a soothing gesture that he was loathed to admit he enjoyed. He kissed softly at his neck, grinning as he felt Chirrut shake beneath him. “Better?”

“Something's wrong,” Chirrut muttered, hands tightening in his hair for a moment. “I think I'm blind. You fucked the sight right out of me.”

Groaning, Baze rolled over, head buried in a pillow. “Chirrut!” he said, listening to the idiot next to him laughing his ass off. “I swear I really hate you sometimes.”

“Nope. You said you loved me. No take backs.”

“Yeah, well, I obviously didn't do my job right if you can still talk.”

Wheezing, Chirrut rolled into his side and kissed his shoulder. “It was perfect, like always. I love you too, you brute.”

Baze peeked at him, at the flush still high on his cheeks, at the marks just starting to show on his neck, at the rapid rise and fall of his chest as he struggled to regain his breath. He felt himself stirring again and pulled Chirrut close. His eyes widened as he felt Baze pressing against him. “Already?”

“Told you twenty minutes wouldn't be enough,” he said, kissing him roughly.

“Okay, I definitely love you now.”

* * *

Baze woke up after a few hours, Chirrut draped across his chest. He brushed his hand across his hair, smiling as Chirrut grumbled and shifted away, head tucking deeper into his side. Predawn light made a faint glow at the window, mostly hidden behind the blackout curtains Baze has insisted on buying, to Chirrut's amusement. Exhaling deeply, he tightened his grip on him and tried to return to sleep. Their second round had been even more energetic; Baze could feel his muscles starting to protest. He had a feeling that they had woken Bodhi up on the second go; even with Chirrut buried face down into a pillow, they had gotten fairly loud. Baze couldn't bring himself to care. If they had been younger, he was certain they would be in the middle of a third round, but at fifty-three, Baze was craving sleep more than anything. He slowly drifted off, memories of their youth playing in his mind.

~~~
He stood nervously outside the building as his grandfather talked with the man inside. His mother didn't want him to go to the Temple of the Whills, but his grandfather had insisted. “It is tradition in our family,” he had said, gruff voice filling the kitchen. “Our family has studied the ways of the guardians for seven generations.”

“Then let his father decide when he should go,” his mother complained, hands on her hips.

“He just turned eleven. He's going today.”

Baze licked his lips and tried to feel something other than nerves. What if he messed up? What if they didn't want him? His father would hate him.

He heard a softly rustling in the tree above him, assuming it was the wind until he realized that there was none. Frowning, he looked up, trying to see if some kind of bird or small animal was up there when a half eaten apple hit him in the face. Grunting, he fell back, rubbing his eyes. He heard laughter ringing out above him. “Who's up there? Get down here!”

He wiped the mess out of his eyes just as a gentle thump sounded in front of him. He glared at the boy before him, trying hard to hold back his anger.

The boy was about his own age, tall, like him, but much thinner. He was dressed on faded temple robes,and had a bruise marring his right cheek. He was grinning, one front tooth missing, his dark eyes fully of mischief.

“That wasn't very nice. You should apologize,” Baze said.

“Why?” the boy asked, hands tucked into his sleeves.

“Because you could have hurt somebody. You could have hurt me!”

“I hardly think I could have made that nose of yours any bigger,” the boy said, sniffing. “Besides, it made a great target.”

Baze looked at him in horror, mouth hanging open.

“Although with ears that big, maybe I should have aimed for them. Thinking about taking flight?”

Baze seethed. Somehow this brat had known exactly how to hurt him; he clearly knew it too by the shit eating grin on his face. Trying hard not to react, Baze looked away.

“Aw, going to cry? Big baby want his mommy?” the skinny boy goaded, laughing. Baze finally looked at him fully. “Oh, or are you going to punch me?”

“I'm not going to hit you.”

“Why not? Afraid to hit the temple rat? Think my luck will rub off on you?” the boy sneered.

Baze frowned. He had never heard that term before, but he sensed from the boy's usage that he had heard it a lot. “I'm not going to hit you. That wouldn't be right.”

Snorting, the boy kicked at the dirt, bare feet filthy. “Mommy not let you fight?”

Sighing, Baze crossed his arms. “What's your problem?”

“Maybe I don't like you.”

“You don't even know me.”

Shrugging, the boy turned away. “Maybe I don't like anyone.”

Baze sat down on the step of the building and pulled out a chocolate bar. His mother had always taught him to be polite, even when no one else was. There was something about this boy that made him want to try and be nice, even if he also wanted to punch him in the face. He could see the boy watching him, trying to pretend he wasn't. He broke the bar in half and held part of it out. “Would you like some?”

The boy eyed him suspiciously. “Did you poison it?” he asked, slowly edging closer.

“No, I didn't do anything to it. See?” He took a bite and shook the other piece at the boy.

The boy darted forward and grabbed the piece he had bitten out of his hand and shoved it into his mouth, quickly moving out of range. Frowning, Baze watched him nervously chewing, looking around as if afraid someone would say something. The boy was licking his fingers, stomach growling, when Baze made up his mind. “You can have the rest,” he said, holding out the other half.

Eyes wide, the boy slowly approached him, nervously biting his lip. “Really?”

Shrugging, Baze held it out, watching. The boy moved like a scared animal, afraid to get too close. His fingers brushed against Baze's for a moment; it was like a spark, a feeling of recognition. Baze watched him eat it, only a little bit slower than the first piece.

“My name is Baze,” he said. “Baze Malbus.”

“Chirrut,” the boy said, wiping at his face. His cheeks were slightly flushed and he was holding himself very still. “Chirrut Imwe.”

“I'm here to study to be a guardian. How about you?”

“I don't think they'll let me,” Chirrut muttered, eyes downcast.

“Why not?” Baze asked, curious.

“Because he has no sponsor,” the head monk said, standing in the doorway with his grandfather. “Imwe! Don't you have duties to attend to?”

“Yes, master,” Chirrut said, bowing quickly; “but I thought it would be best to come and greet the new initiate,” he said, slowly backing out of range.

“Causing trouble, most likely. The masters will deal with you later. Be gone.”

Bowing, Chirrut took off, running around the corner and disappearing. Frowning, Baze turned back to the adults.

“The boy can start his training next week,” the monk was saying, Chirrut already forgotten. “I'm sure he'll excel, as all from your lineage have.”

“Thank you, honored one. We look forward toward seeing his progress. Come along boy.”

Baze looked back as the walked through the compound, trying to locate Chirrut but only seeing a few monks attending to the temple grounds and a handful of visitors.

“What troubles you boy?”

“Grandfather? What is a temple rat?”

“Hmm? You mean that boy? Don't be concerned with him. He's nothing.”

“But what does it mean?”

“He's an orphan. Abandoned at the temple and under the care of the monks. He has no lineage nor family to see to his existence. He lives off the fringes of others. Forget him,” he said, walking down the street.

“But why can't he train to be a guardian if he lives at the temple?”

“Because he has no one to pay his way. Training is not cheap,” his grandfather said, voice gruff. “Come, lets go home. Things of this nature are not worth discussing.”

Shoulders slumping, Baze followed behind, wondering. It hardly seemed fair. He knew he should follow his grandfather's advice, but he was unable to. And so, he spent the time until his training began thinking about the young boy that nobody wanted and forming a plan.

His first day at the temple was spent learning the grounds and learning the words to accompany the meditation rituals. He kept a lookout, but didn't see the boy anywhere. After three days, he was beginning to suspect, and rightly so, that Chirrut was hiding from him. On the forth day, he was sitting beneath a tree at the end of the courtyard, eating from a bento box his mother had sent when he heard movement above him. “If you promise not to throw things at me or to call me names, you can share my food.”

His statement was met with silence before the boy jumped down and landed in front of him. Baze shifted over and held out a pair of chopsticks. Chirrut settled in beside him, pretending that their last meeting had never happened. He quickly grabbed a chunk of chicken, followed by some vegetables and rice, mouth bulging as he reached for more.

“You can chew, you know,” Baze said, rolling his eyes. Chirrut swallowed and stared at him. “What?”

“Why are you being nice to me? What do you want?” he asked, suspicious.

“I don't want anything. I'm being polite. It's called having manners, something you should learn.”

Laughing, Chirrut leaned away. “A rat with manners. That's pretty funny.”

“Don't call yourself that.”

“Why?” Chirrut asked, grinning. “Does it upset you? Did your mommy tell you what it means?”

“My grandfather,” Baze said primly. “And that's not what you are. You're a boy, not something to be despised.”

“Sure, sure,” he said, shrugging his shoulders and rubbing at his shaved head. “You use big words for a kid.”

Rolling his eyes, Baze reached into his bag and pulled out a wrapped piece of cake. “Here. I have two, so you don't need to grab it.”

Chirrut frowned and took the offered treat. “Why?”

“Because maybe I'd like to be your friend, not your enemy.”

“No one here will talk to you if you are,” Chirrut warned, eyes hard.

Baze shrugged. “There are worse things that could happen.”

Chirrut smiled, a genuine expression, eyes lighting up and crinkling in the corners. Baze blushed slightly and tried to ignore the fading black eye Chirrut sported. Chirrut unwrapped the cake and took a bite, eyes closing. “This is so good.”

Smiling, Baze looked away and ate his at a slower rate. “So you can't be a guardian if you don't have a sponsor?”

“Not usually,” Chirrut said with a shrug. “It takes money, or at least a donation in your name to the temple. Don't have anyone to do that.”

Before Baze could ask anything else, he felt Chirrut tense up beside him. He looked up to see some of the older initiates walking up.

“Hey Malbus,” one of them yelled, pointing toward Chirrut. “Better stay away from the rat unless you want it's dirt to get on you.” He and the others started laughing. Baze growled.

Chirrut stood up calmly and walked away. Just as he was passing the boys, he shoved the oldest one down into the dirt. “Oh, dear. Looks like you're too late.” He grinned and licked his hand, bending down to rub it on his cheek. “Here, let me clean you up.”

Baze rushed into the fight that broke out at that, landing hits and kicking opponents as next to him Chirrut fought back. For being so small and skinny, he was a demon, hits felling his foes faster that Baze would have thought possible. He only stopped when the monks rushed out to pull them apart. By then, the damage had been done. One of the attackers looked dazed; Baze thought he probably had a concussion. Baze had a bruise forming on his jaw, while Chirrut had a split lip. He licked at it as the monk checked out the other boys; this clearly was familiar territory for him.

“That is enough! You three, back to the main hall. Malbus, go clean up. Imwe, go see the head monk.”

“They started it,” Baze said, trying to defend Chirrut.

“I don't care! He knows better than to fight. Go. Now!”

Rolling his eyes, Chirrut walked away, glancing back to throw a smile at Baze.

Baze sighed and went off to comply with the orders given to him. He was thinking about Chirrut's moves. He fought like a professional, not like an angry child. After he was dismissed for the day, he hurried to see baba, his grandfather on his mother's side. He ran a studio teaching fighting techniques to children and had once been renowned as one of the greatest fighters in Jedha.

“What has you in a tizzy?”

Baze recounted the fight (there was no way he could keep it a secret; the monks were sure to contact his family), perfectly describing Chirrut's moves. Baba waited for him to wind down, face thoughtful.

“Why are you so concerned with this boy? What is he to you?”

“He's my friend. And why should his potential be wasted just because he doesn't have a family?”

Baba leaned back in his chair. “Bring him to training this weekend and I'll see if he's as good as you say. Then, and only then Baze, will I consider what can be done with him. Even with a sponsor, it is very difficult for a temple rat to succeed as a guardian.”

Baze pondered how he was going to pull this off as he sat in his room. His parents had grounded him, much to his sisters delight, allowing him out only for his classes at the temple. By the weekend, he was nervous. He had only seen Chirrut from afar; Chirrut would pause in his duties to pull a face at him, laughing as Baze scowled back without any real heat. Baze had finally cornered him on Friday, asking if it was possible for him to leave the temple.

“Sure,” Chirrut said, shrugging. “As long as I've finished my chores and I'm not in trouble. Why?”

“I want you to meet my baba. He's an expert in fighting techniques. I want him to see what you can do.”

Chirrut had rolled his eyes but had promised to go with him the next day. Baze was waiting bright and early outside the gates when Chirrut came out, dressed in his typical dirty robes. It was the first time Baze had ever seen him in shoes, even if they were only old worn sandals left behind by some past pilgrim.

“Why are you wearing your robes?” Baze asked.

“They're the only cloths I have.”

Baze fell silent as they walked side by side. He soon became aware that Chirrut was studying the birds flying by, the light glinting off a car parked along side the road, the shop stands they passed. The roads were starting to become crowded as people woke up and began their shopping. His posture was both relaxed and tense; he was excited to be out of the compound but nervous as to where Baze was taking him. After all, this was the first time for either of them to have a friend.

Baba was waiting for them when they arrived, arms folded lightly across his chest. “I've heard from Baze that you're a good fighter. Prove it.” Frowning, Chirrut followed him inside, kicking off his shoes as he reached the mat. Baba readied himself, balancing on his back foot in a starting stance that Chirrut vaguely knew.

Chirrut looked at Baze in confusion. “I'm not fighting him; I might hurt him.”

“Good luck with that boy,” Baba said, lunging forward. Chirrut was taken off guard for an instant and barely managed to block the hit. He backed away, arms raised in defense. “Come on, boy. Fight back. Or are you just a sulking rat like everyone thinks?”

Mad, Chirrut rushed forward. What he lacked in technical skill, he made up in speed and enthusiasm. His hits were firm and fast, his moves sloppy but powerful. Baze watched with a smile, seeing his baba finally have to work against his opponent. The fight ended when baba locked Chirrut into a hold that he was unable to break. Breathing hard, Chirrut bowed his head and conceded. Nodding, baba released him and stepped back. Chirrut staggered over to were Baze was sitting and dropped to the floor.

“What's your name, boy?” baba asked.

“Chirrut,” he wheezed. “Chirrut Imwe.”

“Imwe? Any relation to the Grand Fighter Imwe?”

Chirrut shrugged, carefully sitting up. “I think she was my mother.”

Baze frowned at him. Baba was thoughtful. “You don't know?”

Chirrut was studying his feet, rubbing at a callous. “Not really. She died when I was really young. My uncle was the one that took me to the temple. He didn't want me around.”

“But her last name was Imwe, was it not? Or was that your father?”

“Don't have a father,” Chirrut said, eyes defiant.

Baba folded his arms and watched the two boys, sitting side by side, shoulders and knees touching. “You're mother was one of the greatest fighters in Jedha,” baba said. “She developed some of the techniques used by the guardians to this day. It'd be a shame to let that bloodline die out over a stupid rule. You will come here twice a week. You will train with my students, keep them on their toes. Especially Baze. He thinks he's the strongest here. I expect you to prove him wrong. You will clean the studio every night. I will talk to the monks. You will not start fights outside of training. Meet my expectations and I'll sponsor you. Work hard and you might even receive a reward. Do we have a deal?”

Chirrut's eyes were wide. “I can be a guardian?”

“If you want. But you have to stay out of trouble.”

He bit his lip. “Maybe I'll just forget it.”

“Chirrut,” Baze huffed, eyes rolling.

Chirrut started giggling and stood up, hand held out. “I'll do it.”

“Good,” baba said, gripping his hand. “I'll come by the temple tomorrow. Now get out of here boys.”

They left, walking down an alley toward the heart of the holy city. “Why'd you do that?” Chirrut asked, turning toward Baze with a frown.

Baze shrugged, embarrassed. “Because friends are supposed to help each other.”

“We're friends?” Chirrut asked, obviously confused.

“Well, yeah. At least I thought we were.”

Chirrut stopped walking. “If you're my friend, no one else will talk to you,” he warned. “You'll lose all your other friends.”

“I don't really have other friends,” Baze mumbled, rubbing at his neck.

Chirrut frowned. “But you're popular. Everyone always talks to you!”

“How would you know that?” Baze asked, confused.

“I've watched,” Chirrut said, not in the least ashamed. “The other kids at the temple all come to you for advice and stuff.”

“Yeah, but none of them will talk to me outside of the walls. Or eat with me.”

Chirrut fell silent, pondering. “Okay.”

“Okay?”

“Okay. I'll be your friend. But I'm still going to kick your butt in training.”

Laughing, Baze threw his arm around Chirrut's shoulder and lead him down the street. “You can try.”

Chapter Text

Bodhi was sitting at the table eating a bowl of cereal and reading one of Baze's books when Chirrut came into the kitchen. He glanced up and cleared his throat. “Water's hot if you want it.”

“Thank you Bodhi. Good morning. Did we wake you last night?”

Blushing slightly, Bodhi poked at his food. “It's okay. It's not the first time I've been woken up that way. Motel walls are very thin. And I lived in a one room apartment with my parents while they managed to have my four sisters. Besides,” he said, pushing away his bowl, “I can't really complain. I did take over your couch.”

“Baze has a hard time on missions. Sometimes he just need to be reminded that nothing has really changed. Not that I'm complaining,” Chirrut laughed. He turned away from the stove with his cup, face thoughtful. “Why don't we invite everyone for breakfast. We can use the common area. I'll make eggs.”

Bodhi wanted to ask him if he was okay to cook but decided to hold his tongue. He washed out his bowl and took the carton from Chirrut's hand. “At least let me help.”

“Excellent,” Chirrut said. “You can start chopping vegetables. We'll make omelets.” He bent over to pull a pan from the cabinet by the stove; as he did, his shirt gaped at the neck, revealing a sizable bruise. “Bodhi, can you get the oil from the cabinet? And the cutting board?”

Bodhi started cutting up the vegetables as Chirrut handed them to him, cringing slightly as he watched Chirrut adding large amounts of white pepper and chili oil to the eggs he was whipping up. He debated waking up Baze, but decided it would be impossible to sneak away; he coughed slightly as the mixture hit the hot pan and spicy smoke filled the room.

“Go wake everyone up,” Chirrut said, after directing Bodhi where to leave the vegetables. “Start upstairs please,” as he heard him moving toward the bedroom. Sighing, Bodhi pulled on his shoes and stomped upstairs. He pounded on Cassian and Kay's door. Kay opened it with a scowl, not that Bodhi was surprised. It was Kay's normal expression.

“Chirrut is making omelets.”

Kay raised an eyebrow. “Chirrut? Not Baze? Is it even going to be edible?”

“If you like things extra spicy.”

“I believe we have plans,” Kay said, moving to close the door.

“Chirrut insisted. If you say no he'll either make me come back up here or he'll do it himself. He asked me to get Jyn as well.”

Frowning, Kay finally relented. “Fine. I'll wake up Cassian. Just make sure Baze gets up before we get there so that there's real food.”

“I'm going to try,” Bodhi said, turning to go up to the third floor. He hesitated outside Jyn's door. She was an unknown factor. He didn't know how she was going to react, but he was too tired to really be scared. He knocked softly, waiting for a response. He wasn't expecting her to open it right away. Her eyes were wary.

“Who are you?”

“I'm Bodhi. Bodhi Rook.”

“You live down stairs,” she said, looking him up and down.

“Yes. With Chirrut and Baze. Chirrut wants you to come have breakfast with us. He's making omelets.”

“Fine,” she muttered, pulling on a sweater. “Not like I have any food here.”

“I can show you around later,” he offered. “There's a nice market nearby, and a bakery. And there is a farmers market in the park on the weekends.”

“Why are you trying to be nice?” she scowled.

“Because it's the right thing to do,” Bodhi said, serene smile on his face. Jyn fell silent as they approached the door. “Though I do have to warn you, Chirrut has a horrible sense of taste. He likes things spicy.”

“I can handle anything.”

“You've been warned.”

Jyn pondered this matter of fact statement as they entered the apartment. She followed Bodhi into the kitchen, eyebrow raised at the sight before.

“What happened?” Bodhi cried, rushing to Chirrut's side. Jyn was startled to notice that he was clearly blind and frowning at the pan in front of him.

“The omelets somehow became scrambles,” he said, turning off the stove. “I must have added too much liquid.”

“I told you I would help.”

“It's okay,” Chirrut said serenely. “They'll still taste good. Hand me the platter please.” Bodhi grabbed a large plate and held it out as Chirrut poured the egg and vegetable mixture onto it. “Are the others on their way?”

“Yes,” Bodhi said, sighing.

“Good. Take this out to the other room. I'll get the toast. Jyn?” Startled, she looked up into impossibly blue eyes. Chirrut was smiling at her, pointing toward the counter. “Can you make coffee?”

“Of course.”

Grinning, he nodded his head. “Excellent. Can you take the grounds over there and follow Bodhi. You'll find a coffee maker in the other room. I'll be along shortly. I need to wake up sleeping beauty.”

Chirrut made sure the toast was stacked on a plate with the butter next to it before wandering back toward the bedroom. He carefully felt along the bed until he felt Baze's bare shoulder; he had apparently turned over onto his stomach since Chirrut had woken up and was now spread out like a starfish across the bed, snoring softly. Smirking and wishing he still had the ability to roll his eyes, Chirrut reached over and caressed his back. “Baze,” he sang, fingers skimming lightly, “time to wake up.” Baze huffed out a breath and burrowed deeper into the pillows. Laughing to himself, Chirrut trailed his fingers beneath the sheet, goosing him hard. Yelping, Baze shot up, eyes wild. “Good morning, my sweet wonderful husband, love of my life! It's time to get up.”

“Chirrut,” Baze mumbled, eyes closing as he lay back down and pulled the pillow back over his face. “I just barely went to sleep.”

“Well whose fault is that. I certainly wasn't the one pushing for last nights activities.”

“Liar. And I didn't hear you complaining.”

“True.” Chirrut tilted his head. “But breakfast is waiting. Hurry up before everyone finishes it. I worked really hard on it.”

Baze pushed the pillow off his head. “What did you do?” he asked accusingly, glaring at Chirrut.

“I made eggs,” he said, grinning as he pulled on an old blue robe.

Groaning, Baze rolled onto his back and covered his face with his arm. “Fuck.”

“Maybe later. Food first.”

“I regret marrying you!” he yelled as Chirrut left the room.

“Love you too!”

* * *

“What is this room?” Jyn asked, finishing up at the coffee pot, watching as Bodhi put the food down in the center of a large table and backed away.

“I guess you could call it a common room. It's kind of a cross between a sun room and a living room,” Bodhi said, moving chairs around the table. “Chirrut says that everyone who lives here is allowed to use it if they need more space for parties or something.”

“Sure,” Jyn said, pouring herself a cup. “I'm sure there are a lot of wild parties here.”

Smirking, Bodhi set out the plates that he had returned for. “Mostly we use it for things like this, if Chirrut decides he wants everyone to eat together. Oh, by the way. Don't eat his eggs. Actually, don't eat anything he cooks.”

“Why?” Jyn said. “Smells good.”

Sighing, Bodhi turned away. “Your funeral.”

Jyn was glaring at him when Chirrut entered the room, carrying the toast and a carton of orange juice. “Go ahead and start. The rest should be here soon.” From the pocket of his robe he pulled out a bottle of chili paste. “In case it needs some flavor.”

Looking mildly sick, Bodhi grabbed a handful of bread slices and the butter. Jyn watched as Chirrut dished up two generous portions onto plates, handing one to her.

“Thank you,” she said, sitting down across from Bodhi.

“Bodhi?” he asked, holding out a plate.

“No thank you. I already ate,” he said.

“More for Cassian and Kay then,” Chirrut said, sitting down and pulling the chili paste toward him. Jyn's eyebrow rose as she watched him cover his plate in it, offering it to her. She took a spoonful and dropped it on her food, eyes narrowed as Bodhi frantically shook his head no. She grabbed her fork and took a large bite, cheeks bulging as she stared at Bodhi.

And instantly regretted life.

Her eyes bugged out and she gagged, trying desperately to spit the food out. Tears forming, she started coughing. “Oh my god!”

“It's good right?” Chirrut said, smiling.

Tears streaming down her face she frantically reached for the toast that Bodhi held out her way, shoving two pieces into her mouth. “Warned you,” Bodhi muttered.

The burning in her throat wouldn't stop. In fact, it seemed to be getting worse. She reached for the orange juice, only to be stopped by a hand on her shoulder.

“Don't,” Baze said. “Go back to the kitchen. There's milk in the fridge.”

She jumped up and ran, pushing Kay and Cassian out of the way.

Baze sighed, following her. “Give me ten minutes and I'll have actual food.”

“Oh, good,” Kay said, taking Jyn's seat and pushing her plate away. “Then I believe I'll actually have an appetite today.”

Cassian staggered over to the coffee pot, downing his first cup in one go. Eyes barely open, he dropped into the chair by Bodhi, second cup already half gone. Silently, Bodhi handed him a piece toast, giggling as Cassian fell asleep mid-bite. Rolling his eyes, Kay kicked him in the shin, making him grunt and blearily open his eyes. “I hate you,” he mumbled. Bodhi got up and returned with the coffee pot, refilling everyone's cups. “You, though, I think I love you.”

Bodhi blushed slightly as he sat down.

“He's talking about the coffee,” Kay said, smirking at Bodhi. Bodhi glared at him, arms crossed as Baze returned with Jyn, a plate covered in bacon and scrambled eggs balanced in one hand and pancakes in the other. Jyn was carrying syrup. Her eyes were red rimmed, cheeks flushed. She shuddered as she sat down next to Bodhi, only mildly upset to find her original seat occupied. Baze set about serving everyone, while Chirrut steadily ate his way through his food.

“Does he not realize how much spice he put in it?” Jyn whispered to Bodhi.

“He knows,” Baze answered, not bothering to keep his voice down. “He doesn't care. He's a jerk that way.”

“I don't know what you're talking about,” Chirrut said, thoughtful. “In fact, I could stand it to be spicier.”

“That's because you burned off your taste buds years ago,” Baze said, rubbing his forehead. “Stop trying to poison everyone else.”

Laughing, Chirrut leaned over and kissed his cheek. “Who knew I married a wimp. Cassian likes it.”

“My friend,” Cassian mumbled, mouth full of pancake, “I like spicy things as much as the next person, but your food is just painful.”

“No one appreciates good food anymore.”

Jyn ate her food in silence, listening to the conversations around her. Bodhi and Kay were discussing what sounded like a video game. Cassian occasionally commented, though most of his attention was focused on Baze and arguing about a mistake that has happened on their last mission. Chirrut just smiled and leaned into Baze's side. Without missing a beat, he wrapped his arm around him, pulling him close. Chirrut closed his eyes and rested his hand on Baze's heart. In some ways, this reminded Jyn of meals with Saw's rebels. But there was something else she was feeling here. It was hope. It was life. It was family.

Now she had to figure out just where she fit in within it.

* * *

Chirrut had followed her up to her rooms after, Bodhi tagging along like a lost puppy. Smiling, Chirrut had opened the windows. “This part of the house has been closed off for a while,” he said. “It'll need to be aired out. Feel free to decorate it as you want. We have some old furnishings in the attic over the garage if you want any of them. Feel free to paint. We can discuss rent later, but I can assure you it'll be reasonable. Bodhi can show you where to find stuff.”

“Why are you doing this?” she asked, voice hard.

“You are a good person, Jyn Erso, despite what everyone wants you to think. Only a good person would be allowed to wear a kyber crystal. Plus, I can see it in you. The force tells me that you are one with the light.”

Jyn's hand reached inside her jacket, hand closing around the pendant she kept hidden. Through everything that had happened to her, it was the one thing that she had never lost. “How did you know about my necklace? Did Baze tell you?”

“I can hear it. It has a distinct voice and it tells me what I need to know. Now, I'll leave you two alone. I have a husband waiting for me downstairs.” Chirrut walked out of the room, leaving Bodhi behind.

“Seriously, how did he know?” Jyn said, rounding on Bodhi. He nervously raised his hands.

“I honestly don't know. He's Chirrut. I've never seen him be wrong, though, not since I got here. Do you really have a kyber necklace?” he asked, curious.

Jyn thought about it for a minute before pulling it out. “It was my mothers,” she said, holding it up so that it caught the light.

“That's amazing,” Bodhi said, eyes wide. “I've never really seen one before. I know Chirrut and Baze both have. They used to be guardians at a kyber temple.”

“What temple?” Jyn asked, frowning.

“The Temple of the Whills, I believe. In the old part of Jedha. But that was a long time ago. Baze won't talk about it and Chirrut only mentions it in passing.”

Tucking away her pendant, Jyn walked from the room. “Show me this attic.”

Bodhi unlocked the garage door, laughing at the shocked look that came over Jyn's face. “If you ask, I'm sure they'll let you use it.”

“This is amazing,” Jyn said, rushing toward the mats. “Do you fight?” she asked Bodhi, eyes bright.

“No no no,” he said, hands held up. “I do not, nor do I have any desire.”

“Plus I don't think training is a good idea today,” Cassian said, following Bodhi inside. Jyn turned to face him with a glare. “If you are anything like me, you're very sore today. If you want to spar, we can try in a few days.”

“What are you doing out here, then?” she asked, suspicious.

He reached into a cabinet on the wall and pulled out a bottle of pain pills. “I'm willing to share,” he said, shaking out a handful into a plastic bag.

She reluctantly held out her hand, nodding her thanks as she dry swallowed one. Cassian held up a bottle of water he had retrieved from the shelf, smiling as she took it.

Bodhi had moved across the room, opening a door off to the side. “Up here,” he called, moving up the stairs. Jyn and Cassian followed him up. She was surprised when he turned on the light. The room ran the length of the building and contained neatly stacked boxes and sheet covered furniture. The boxes had been carefully labeled and sectioned off. A small group to the right of the door were labeled with Cassian's name. On the left were two boxes left open on what appeared to be an old coffee table; the winter cloths inside had been rifled through and were obviously being checked for size. Bodhi pushed them aside and moved toward the back. “There's some boxes back here with housewares. I'm pretty sure I saw some curtains. Chirrut won't mind if you take anything. He keeps telling Baze they should go through this stuff anyway.”

Jyn followed, curious. “And how would you know what's up here?”

“Chirrut told me I could go through anything that wasn't Cassian's, especially the cloths. I didn't have anything for winter otherwise. Plus Baze still has some books back here that he's never unpacked.” His voice was muffled as he dragged a box out into the open. “Here, try this one.”

She opened it to find it full of fabric, some of which appeared to be sheets and towels, mismatched sets of curtains below it. “I could go buy stuff, you know.”

“But some of this stuff is nice,” Bodhi said, surprised. “Besides, its better to save money on things you don't have to buy.”

Rolling her eyes, she hoisted up the box and moved back to the front. “Any lamps up here?”

“Floor or table?” Bodhi called.

“Both.”

“Right side. Rear.”

“Right. Cassian, can you grab that table,” she said, pointing to the table with the boxes. “Oh, and that chair?”

“I'll go get Kay,” he muttered, leaving the room.

“Hey Bodhi, where would plates be? And you said there were books?”

* * *

Kay had grumbled and complained the entire time that Cassian made him help. Together with Bodhi and Jyn, they had moved a decent amount of furniture into her apartment, along with numerous boxes of various things. “Just leave whatever you don't want outside,” Bodhi said. “I can take them back later.”

Jyn had dismissed them with a mumbled thank you, listening to Kay complain as Cassian herded him down the stairs. She quickly set to work sorting through the boxes, filling the cabinets with dishes and towels; extra sheets and blankets were tossed into the spare bedroom's closet. She was sorting through the curtains, pulling out enough to cover the windows before shoving the boxes out into the hall. As she was hanging up the pair in the kitchen, she had a memory of standing in the rundown kitchen in the last home she had ever lived in with her parents. Her mother had somehow found a pair of curtains at a thrift store with an organic pattern of reds and oranges. Her father had hated them, but her mother had laughed. “They're bright and cheery,” she had said. “They're garish,” Galen had said. “Says the man with no fashion sense,” Lyra had said, eyes rolling; “but they only cost fifty cents and I like them, so you can live with them.” Jyn had hated them as well, but she had kept quiet. She looked at the fabric hanging over the sink, a simple pattern of reds, yellows, oranges, and blues, and tried to ignore the rush of memories that threatened to overwhelm her. She turned quickly away and walked toward the bedroom, sitting carefully on the edge of the bed. She closed her eyes, silently begging the thoughts to fade away to little effect. For fifteen years she had managed to keep thoughts of her childhood at bay. But between the boxes and capture, it was getting harder and harder. And now the fucking curtains. Laughing hysterically, she fell back against the bed, tears filling her eyes.

~~~

“Jyn,” Lyra called as she walked into the house. Jyn popped her head out of the hallway where she had been crouching behind the stairs. “What are you up to, silly?” Lyra said, laughing tiredly as she moved toward the dining room to set her bags down. “Come here. Where's your father?”

“Outside,” Jyn said, eyeing the stuff her mom was pulling out. “What's that?” she asked, pointing toward a fuzzy blue blob.

“This,” her mother said, holding it up, “is a hat. For your father. Force knows he's going to get distracted someday and wander off a cliff. This is bright enough that at least we'll be able to see him if he does.”

“Oh.” Jyn watched her mother move about, setting a few knickknacks on the shelves in the dining room. She poked at the hat as her mother shook out a wad of bright fabric.

“Jyn, go get your father. It's time for lunch.”

“Okay,” she yelled, running outside. It had stopped raining not long before and everything was wet and humid, but Jyn didn't mind. Her mother had bought her a sturdy rain coat at a thrift store before they moved again and she had taken to wearing it constantly, especially since their roof was none too reliable. She moved through the thick grass, cresting a hill and seeing her father working on securing an old fence, Toby, their old dog standing beside him. “Papa!” Jyn called as she ran up. “Papa! Mama said you have to come in soon. It's lunch time.”

“Just a minute, Stardust,” he said, trying to line the wire up correctly. “I've almost—” Whatever he was about to say was lost in a loud twang as the wire snapped and flew back from them. Moving quickly, Galen grabbed Jyn and shielded her with his body, cringing as the fence post fell over and took down another section with it. Cautiously, he surveyed the damage, arms tight around her.

“You broke it,” she said, wonder in her voice.

Sighing, Galen released her and took off his gloves. “Are you alright, Jyn?”

“I'm fine. See?” She held out her arms and twirled around. “But where's Toby?”

Galen looked around before picking up his tools. “Knowing my luck, he's getting me in trouble. Come on. Let's go home.”

“Okay.” Jyn took his hand and tugged him toward the hill, slowing as they neared the top. “Papa,” she said, cautiously. “How long are we going to be here?”

“I don't know, Stardust. Hopefully not long. Why do you ask?”

“No reason,” she said. “I just—I miss when you and mama used to smile,” she said, voice trembling.

“Jyn,” he said, heart breaking. “Hey, look at me.” He stopped walking and dropped to his knees by her. He carefully brushed her hair from her face and gave her a tired smile. “You know we love you, right?” Galen waited until she nodded. “And you know we'd do anything for you, correct?”
Again, he waited until she indicated she understood. “And you know where ever we are that we'll always be a family and make a home, right? Things have been difficult lately, I know you know this. But it'll be okay. I'll never let anything hurt you. Ever.”

Smiling, Jyn threw her arms around his neck. “I love you, papa.”

“I love you too, Stardust.” Galen picked her up and started walking again. “Now let's go see what your mother has made for lunch, shall we?”

By the time they entered, Lyra had hung up the curtains and was heating something on the stove. Galen frowned at the shockingly bright colors that assaulted his eyes. “Lyra, what are those?”

“Curtains, obviously. And might I ask what you did to scare poor Toby half to death?” she asked, pointing with her spoon to the black and white dog cowering under the table.

“Papa broke the fence!” Jyn said, sliding down.

“Did he now?” Lyra raised an eyebrow. “Didn't I tell you I'd fix I later?”

“You did,” Galen muttered, looking away. “But I figured I could do it and save you the trouble.”

“You mean create more work,” Lyra sighed. “Jyn, set the table please. Galen, bowls.”

He moved to the shelf and picked up three, kissing her cheek as he handed them over.

“What am I going to do with you?” she mumbled, leaning against him.

“I'm sorry?”

Laughing, she pushed him away and brought the food to the table. “Let's eat and then we'll get to work. You can watch,” she said, pointing at Galen.

“Yes dear.”

* * *

Jyn was playing in the old barn when she heard the sound of a vehicle moving down the lane. Frowning, she peeked out the door and saw a large black transport heading toward the garage at the front of the property where her father was working on the old car. Galen straightened up, posture stiff as he watched it slow down. Jyn dropped her doll and ran toward the house, ducking low like she had been taught. She didn't know who the people in the car were, but she knew they couldn't be good. Her parents hadn't told anyone where they were going when they moved the first time, nearly two years ago. In that time, they has lived in nine different houses in three different countries, so this alarmed her.

Running into the house, she nearly tripped over Toby as he raced past her and toward Galen. “Mama!” she called, racing up the stairs. Lyra was in her room, pushing cloths and food into a knapsack. “Mama, there's a bunch of strange men outside!”

“Jyn, sweetheart, I need you to listen carefully,” Lyra said kneeling down. “I need you to run and hide, just like we practiced, okay?”

Frowning, confused even as she understood what Lyra was asking, Jyn shook her head. “But you and papa—”

“We'll be right behind you,” she said, hugging Jyn tight. “Oh, Stardust. It's going to be okay. I promise. Here.” Lyra pulled back and fumbled inside her cloths, pulling out a leather cord with a crystal pendant on it. “Take this.”

“No!” Jyn cried, trying to back away. “I can't take it! It's yours. You have to wear it. You said it protects whoever wears it.”

“It does, Jyn. That's why I need you to put it on. So I can find you after. I'll know where you are by it's call. The force won't let anything happen to you until I find you. Please! There isn't much time.”

Fighting back her tears, Jyn finally nodded her head. “You promise you'll find me?”

“On my life,” Lyra said, hardening her heart. She knew that if she didn't she'd never be able to let Jyn go. “Now, please I need you to—”

From outside came a loud shout, followed by Toby barking frantically. Quickly, Lyra secured the cord over Jyn's head and handed her the pack. “Jyn--”

Whatever she started to say was drowned out by a gunshot, followed by Toby crying out. Jyn startled, turning toward the door. Lyra stood up quickly and pushed her toward the window. “Jyn, go out through the roof. Hurry!”

Shaking, she nodded and scrambled out onto the window sill, crouching down. She reached up and caught the edge of the roof and pulled herself up. Being careful of the slippery shingles, she crawled along until she reached the drain pipe and could shimmy down. She had reached the ground and started to creep towards the hillsides when she saw Lyra come out of the house, moving swiftly toward where Galen was crouching over Toby's body. Gulping, Jyn hurried behind some rocks, hiding for a moment to catch her breath. She had never once been caught when she and her parents had played this “game” (“Your father needs to pretend that that is what this is,” Lyra had said one evening after tucking Jyn in, “it makes him feel better. Can you go along with it?”), even when they had known what path she planned on taking and were watching. Being careful, she lifted her head, watching as her mother approached a man dressed in a white uniform. She was too far away to hear what was said, but his smile seemed to enrage her mother, who started to run forward, even as Galen yelled for her to stop. Two men in black body armor grabbed him, holding him back as another stepped into her mother's path. Dropping low, she swung at him, trying to knock him off balance. She nearly succeeded until another man kicked her in the side, causing her to cry out and hit the ground, rolling onto her stomach. The man in white laughed and started toward, like a predator toying with its prey. Lyra lifted her head and that's when Jyn saw it—the old revolver her dad kept hidden in his desk. Gulping, Jyn squeezed her eyes shut as her mother shot at the man. She heard him yell and hit the ground, eyes flying open as Galen screamed Lyra's name. Jyn watched in horror as her mother was kicked in the head before being dragged to her feet, blood flowing freely as she sagged between the armored men as they continued to beat her. The man in white forced himself to his feet, hand clutched to his bleeding shoulder and growled something to the men holding Lyra. One nodded and pulled out his weapon. Galen was pleading by this time, desperately trying to break free, but it was too late. Jyn recoiled as she watched her mother jerk as the shot hit her, gasping as she slid to the ground.

“There's a child!” the man in white shouted. “Find it! I want it alive.”

Turning, Jyn ran as fast as she could, her father's cries growing fainter in the background. She somehow reached the shelter her parents had created outside their property and concealed herself within. She knew that unless she opened it, it would be impossible to reach her; plus her parents had designed it to blend in seamlessly with the surrounding landscape. Crawling into a corner, she pulled her pack tight to her chest, head resting on her knees as she struggled not to cry. She knew she shouldn't have stayed to watch. Her parents had always told her not to. Over and over, she replayed those final moments in her head. Somehow, her mother's crystal wound up in her hand. She could almost imagine it glowing, filling her with a warmth she couldn't feel. She barely reacted when she heard the men searching near the entrance, nor when she heard them drive off past her hiding spot. Eventually, the dull rumble of thunder reached her. Sobbing finally, she collapsed onto her side, curled into a tight ball. No one had come for her.

* * *

Bodhi had come to check if Jyn had needed anything, but paused before he could knock. He could hear her crying inside. Biting his lip, he closed his eyes tight and sighed, before retreating down the stairs. There was nothing he could do at the moment and he hated himself for it.

Sometimes he truly hated being afraid.

Chapter Text

For the second time that day, Jyn woke up to a knock on her door. Groaning, she rolled over, trying to figure out what time it was. It must have been late; there was little light left peeking around the edges of the curtains. She slowly rolled to her feet, feeling drunk. She always felt that way after crying; it was one of the main reasons she tried to avoid it. She opened the door to find Bodhi standing sheepishly on the other side, plastic bag hanging from his arm.

“May I come in?” He asked nervously. Nodding, she stepped aside, rubbing at her face. Bodhi held up the bag. “I went and bought you some food,” he mumbled, clearly embarrassed. “Figured you'd be hungry.”

She grunted and turned on the kitchen sink, sticking her head under the water. She dried off with a towel before turning to watch him place prepackaged food on the table—sandwiches, chips, a snack cake. Smirking, she leaned back, arms crossed. “Guess you aren't one of the ones here that cooks?”

“Baze banned me from doing anything in the kitchen that involves coffee or an open flame,” he said, unashamed. “Which is probably for the best seeing as I've hardly ever cooked. Hopefully you like turkey,” he said, holding up a sandwich.

“What's the deal here?” she asked. “What's expected of me?”

“Nothing,” Bodhi said, fiddling with the food. “No one expects anything.”

“No. There has to be some catch. There always is.”

Bodhi stopped moving, eyes downcast. “I lost my mother when I was young, my dad when I was fifteen, my sisters not long after that. I lost my home. We were really poor, couldn't afford medical care when my mom got sick. I used to think it was my fault when I was little. If I had helped more, if I had left school and lied to get a job, if I had told her I loved her more. But it doesn't work that way. I know that, though sometimes I wonder. No one wanted me after that. I was too scared, I didn't talk, I talked too much, I was too stupid, I was too clever—nothing that ever made sense. I ran away when I was seventeen, started working when I could, lying when necessary. I was so scared all the time. I got mixed up with a group I shouldn't have, lost contact with my sisters, never did make any real friends. Until I met your father.”

Jyn grew still, body stiff.

“Galen Erso's your father, right? He told me I could be brave. He told me I could be something other than what I was. So I ran away. From the Empire, from the only safety I had ever known, and I came here. Chirrut took me in, something no one else had ever done. He saved me, though I don't think he sees it that way. Cassian helped me find a reason to stay. I don't know a lot, but I do know enough to help the alliance in their fight. Cassian even said I could learn to be a pilot if I wanted. He's arranged it so I can start training at the base soon, provided I can pass the simulations. No one has ever thought I was worth saving until now. The same goes for you. Baze likes you. He's never let anyone in before unless Chirrut has asked. They're good people. They care. So do I. I heard you, earlier. I'm sorry,” he said, looking up into her eyes. “What I've been through in no way compares to you, but I do understand. So does Cassian. He's lost everything too. This,” he said, pointing toward the goggles sitting on top of his head, “this is all I have left of my mother. She bought them for me when I was five, because I was too afraid to look at people in public.” He smiled ruefully. “They were too big then, but she was right. I finally grew into them.”

“You've met my father,” she asked, voice thick with emotion.

Nodding, he bit his lip. “He loves you very much. He called you Stardust. Said you were braver than him and he needed to know you were safe. He sent me to find you. Guess it worked.”

Jyn slowly moved toward the table and pulled out a chair. “You can stay and eat, if you want.”

Grinning, Bodhi dropped into the chair. “Thanks. I kind of didn't want to go back yet. Chirrut and Baze can get pretty loud sometimes.”

“So what's the deal with them?” she asked, opening the packages.

Bodhi shrugged. “They've been together a long time.”

“Baze, though. He seems kind of mean.”

“He looks really scary but he's really not,” Bodhi agreed. “Like, I keep feeling like he's going to start yelling at me. I messed up the coffee a while ago and now I'm afraid to be caught near the kitchen.”

Laughing, Jyn leaned back, eyes bright. “Tell me everything.”

“Well, Kay's just as bad,” Bodhi began, smile forming on his face.

* * *

Baze's wordless growl of rage made Chirrut start laughing. “What do they want now?”

Baze rolled away and grabbed his phone. “It's three in the fucking morning. What else do they want?” He groaned as he read the notification, throwing his phone towards the closet and flopping back. “Fuck this bullshit, they can call someone else in.”

“Baze,” Chirrut said, sitting up to rub at his chest. “Quit being a baby. What is it this time?”

“They need someone to go after a bounty that was just posted. Local, spotted not too far from here. Level three priority.”

Chirrut hummed, hands moving slowly. “Sounds like an interesting one. You should take it.”

“Chirrut, I just got back. You trying to get rid of me already?”

“No, but I do enjoy our reunions,” he said with a grin.

“You are impossible to please,” Baze mumbled, slowly sitting up.

“Not really. I liked what we did a little bit ago. You know, when you—” Baze shut him up with a kiss, hand pressed hard to the back of his head.

“You need to stop talking or I'll never leave.”

“Yes dear.” Chirrut's smile split his face. Baze shoved him aside and stood up. Chirrut wolf whistled, leaning forward. “Nice view, as always.” He was hit in the face by Baze's shirt, falling back laughing.

“Just for that, you can do all the work next time.”

“Lazy,” he said, voice muffled under the fabric.

“No. Practical.” Baze pulled the shirt off his head and kissed his cheek. “I'll be home by dinner.”

“May the force be with you,” Chirrut responded, pulling him into a quick hug.

“I thought I was the force?”

“Then may you be with yourself.”

“That doesn't make any sense.”

“Of course not, it's three in the fucking morning.”

Sighing, Baze walked from the room. “Still not sure why I married you.”

“It's for my charming wit,” Chirrut called.

“Well, your mouth certainly was part of it.”

Chirrut's laughter followed him down the hall. It had sustained him through some of the worst times of his life; it could get him through this small inconvenience.

* * *

Cassian winced as he felt the bruise on his stomach catch on his belt. Sighing, he wandered down stairs, debating if he should show up to the base today or not. He wasn't scheduled to work nor had he been called in. He could go in and get some paperwork done, maybe get Bodhi set up with a flight instructor now that he had been cleared by the higher ups. Or he could just take a nap under the tree in the backyard. We have a winner, he thought.

He found Bodhi walking out of the garage, a frown on his face. “Hey Cassian. Have you seen Chirrut? He wasn't here this morning.”

“He's probably just taking a walk. He's fine.”

“I guess,” Bodhi sighed, sitting down next to him.

“Bored?” Cassian asked, leaning back.

“No. I just wanted to talk to him. Jyn wanted to spar with someone and I thought Chirrut would be perfect. Maybe you could practice with her.”

“No offense buddy, but I got enough practice in with her the other day. I have the bruises to prove it.”

Bodhi nodded. “Okay. I just thought it would be useful.”

“Useful?” Cassian asked, eyeing him.

“Yeah. Jyn said I should learn to defend myself, but she honestly scares me when she starts fighting.”

Cassian studied his profile for a moment. “Tell you what, we'll start training next week. It's honestly not a bad idea. And I'll get your pilot training going, if you still want to do that. Sound good?”

“Really? Thank you!”

Cassian figured it was all worth it to see the grin that spread across Bodhi's face. Smiling, he clapped him on the shoulder. “No problem.”

Draven would probably have his head, but it would all be worth it in the end, if he could see that smile again.

* * *

Chirrut had spent the morning meditating in a secluded area of the park. He often went there when the weather was nice and Baze was away. He liked to listen to the birds sing and the rhythm of the wind moving through the trees. It helped him feel closer to the force, closer to that which connected everything. At times, he could even pretend that it was just his eyes being closed that prevented him from seeing his surroundings. That at any moment, he would return to being a child, sitting beneath the big tree in the temple courtyard, waiting for Baze to show up. Sighing, he pushed himself to his feet, feeling carefully with his staff until he was sure of his footing. It would not do to fall into the water—again.

He started back home, taking a route that he walked daily, circling through the center of the town before turning toward his neighborhood. He felt at peace today; it was warm enough to not need a winter coat, things were relatively peaceful at home, he had spent some quality time with Baze who would be home by evening (he was already planning on how to convince him to make pasta that night).

As he walked turned down the alley, he felt the first inkling of a darkness in the force. Call it instinct, call it the training, all he knew was that he had never been wrong when he had listened and reacted. Ducking quickly, he spun around with his staff extended out, cracking it hard into the knees of his attacker. With a cry, the man fell back, but Chirrut was already moving forward, staff swinging high toward the next target, meeting with the side of the man's head. With a grunt, he collapsed, knocked unconscious. Chirrut steadied his breathing, listening to the movements around him. He counted six men, including the one at his feet. He smiled, expression feral. He could handle this easily.

He moved in a blur, staff flying, knocking away arms and striking legs with a ruthless efficiency. His foot connected with one attackers sternum, sending him flying back. His staff came down with a sickening crunch on someone's foot. “Oh, I'm sorry. Are you alright?” he asked as he spun around and drove the end of his staff into another ones stomach. He was keeping a count in his head; there should be three, maybe four left awake, though the odds of them launching another attack was unlikely; crouching low, he turned his head slowly, listening. He could hear a commotion down the street, a few groans from the men around him, and far off a siren. Frowning, he stood up, slowly lowering his staff. He started to turn away when he felt a hard force collide with the side of his head. Crying out, he dropped to the ground, curling in against the kick aimed at his side. He reached out and grabbed the leg of his attacker (how he missed one he didn't know, but he would figure it out after), trying to pull him off balance. The man stomped on his hand, kicking him again in the head. Pain and nausea flared up, and his grip slackened. He was gathering his strength to fight again when he heard someone running up.

“Chirrut!”

His attacker backed away and started running. Coughing, Chirrut pushed himself upright, injured hand held tight against him, staggering forward only to fall as a blinding pain flashed through his head, sending him to the ground.

“Chirrut!” he heard Bodhi yelling, though he seemed to be growing farther away. Concussion, he thought, eyes closed tight.

“Call for help,” he heard Cassian say. “I'll follow him.”

Chirrut was struggling to stay awake, head pounding as he listened to Bodhi on the phone. He tried to focus, but the words were blurring together and fading away. His last thought was of Baze and whether he'd be mad over Chirrut's failure. He passed out to Bodhi yelling for him to stay awake, Baze's name on his lips.

Chapter Text

Cassian was on his phone, directing the police toward where the attacker was running. Jyn was back with Bodhi, hopefully keeping him calm. He turned a corner, cursing as he realized he had lost him somewhere. He gave the officer the best description he could as well as his badge number from Bothan before hanging up and calling Baze; he growled in frustration as the call went straight to voicemail. He had forgotten that when Baze was working, the only call his phone would accept was from Chirrut's number. He quickly called Bothan. “This is Cassian. I need you to contact agent 17564 immediately.”

“I'm sorry,” the pleasant voice on the other end stated. “Once an operative is in the field, we are unable to contact them until their mission is completed. It's the standard operating procedure.”

“Then get me Dawson!” he yelled.

“One moment.” He was put on hold. Frustration building, he started retracing his steps back towards where he could hear sirens converging. “Dawson.”

“Dawson, it's Andor. I need you get Baze back immediately.”

“Andor, you do understand about radio silence on missions, correct?”

“Yes, I understand, but we have a very serious situation here that Baze needs to know about right away.”

“And what do you feel is so important?”

“Chirrut was just attacked. It's bad. He needs to get here as soon as possible.”

“Baze is on an important assignment right now.”

“A level three is not that much of a priority! Besides, do you want to explain to him why you refused to tell him his husband is in the hospital?”

There was a long pause over the phone. “We'll contact him right away.”

“Thank you,” Cassian said as he reached the scene. The paramedics already had Chirrut strapped to the gurney and were in the process of loading him. He was mumbling something about home as they worked, Bodhi clinging to his hand looking on the verge of tears. He looked at Jyn, nodding as he read her lips. “Tell him he's going to Saint Hamill's.”

After receiving confirmation, he tucked his phone back in his pocket. “Bodhi!”

Bodhi looked up, reluctantly letting go of Chirrut's hand.

“Go with him. We'll follow with the car.”

Nodding, Bodhi jumped in the back, nervously trying to stay out of the way.

Cassian waited until they had driven off before turning to Jyn. “Come on. Let's go get Kay and catch up.”

“Right,” she said, watching the lights fade in the distance. “Do things like this happen often around here?”

“Not usually.”

“Good to know.”

* * *

Chirrut hated hospitals. He hated them with a passion. The only thing keeping him in the bed was the fact that he was dizzy and nauseous every time he tried to stand up. “I am one with the force. The force is with me.” Deep breath in, then out. “I am one with the force. The force is with me.” Repeat the breathing exercise. “I am one with the force. The force—” He fought down the nausea and leaned back against the flat pillow he had been given. “Is not with me.” Groaning, he tried to settle his thoughts, but the days events kept playing through his mind.

He was interrupted by a knock on the door of his room. “Mister Imwe? I'm here to take you to imagining. The doctor wants another MRI done.”

“Sure, sure,” he said. “It's nice to be popular.”

The orderly laughed nervously and unhooked his iv, releasing the brake keeping the bed still and rolled him down the hall. He listened to the sounds associated with emergency rooms, the screams, the wails; tears and pleas. No. He truly hated hospitals.

* * *

Bodhi was perched on the edge of one of the most uncomfortable chairs he had ever had the displeasure to sit in. He had been pushed out of the room Chirrut was in by the doctors who sited the medical privacy act. Only immediate family would be allowed. On either side of him sat Jyn and Cassian. Kay sat across the room, scowling at year old magazines with coffee and other unidentifiable stains on them. Bodhi was ringing his hands when he felt Jyn lean on his shoulder. Jerking, he glanced at her as she took his hand. Cassian carefully reached for his other. “It'll be okay. Chirrut's pretty tough.”

“Why won't they tell us anything?” Bodhi asked, voice hoarse.

“It's because we are not family, which is stupid since we know most of his medical history,” Kay said, reading about a celebrity divorce from six months before.

“Kay,” Cassian sighed. “I thought I told you to stop looking us up.”

“You did and I did not and I'm not sorry.”

“We'll talk later,” Cassian warned as the door opened and Baze raced in. His eyes were wild as he looked around. Cassian stood up quickly and reached for him.

“Where is he?”

“Baze, relax. He's fine. They think it's a concussion. He's with the doctor—”

“What happened?”

“A couple of guys jumped him. We think they might have been Empire, but we're not sure. The alliance is investigating. Chirrut fought most of them off, but one got a drop on him. Privacy laws won't allow them to talk to us. Bodhi said he was talking a bit in the ambulance.”

Baze turned to Bodhi, who nervously rose to his feet. “Were you with him?”

“No,” he stuttered, ringing his hands. “He, he was gone when I got up. We, ah, we were going to go get lunch, I wanted to show Jyn the bakery when we heard the fight.”

“Bodhi recognized the sound of Chirrut's staff,” Cassian added softly as an aside.

“He started yelling and rushed the guy,” Jyn said. “It's probably why he ran off so quickly.”

Baze clenched his fists before reaching towards Bodhi. Bodhi flinched as Baze grabbed him, fear quickly becoming confusion as Baze pulled him into a bear hug. “Thank you,” he whispered into his ear. Sniffing, he pulled back and approached the counter.

“I need to see Chirrut Imwe,” he told the intake nurse.

“Immediate family only,” she said, not looking up from her screen.

“I'm his husband, its on his medical forms.” He pulled a second set of medical cards from his wallet and handed them over.

She started typing, finally waving him toward the door. “Second room on the right, end of the hall. He should be back from imagining now.”

Nodding, Baze moved down the hall; he never once looked back.

“Why does it seem more like he's on his way to kill someone than to check on Chirrut?” Kay asked.

“Because sometimes it's one and the same,” Cassian said with a sigh.

* * *

Baze pushed open the door and was relieved to see Chirrut propped up on the bed. His head had a large bandage taped to it, as well as several bruises that were starting to blossom. His eyes were closed, but from the steady movement of his lips, he clearly wasn't sleep.

“Have my prayers finally been answered? Has my chatter-mouth of a husband finally be silenced?”

Chirrut tried to frown at him but it quickly dissolved into a laugh. “You'll never be that lucky.”

“Good,” Baze stated as he came forward and hugged him gently; he pressed a kiss to the top of his head. “What happened?”

“Bruised ribs, mild concussion, small cut on my left temple, and a sprained hand,” he said, holding up his wrapped left hand. “I'm supposed to alternate heat and ice for a few days before starting therapy. So basically nothing new.”

Baze tried not to react to the bitterness he heard in his voice. “And the others?”

“Let's just say that the force let them live but they won't be enjoying it for a while.”

Laughing, Baze sat down in the chair next to his bed, carefully taking his injured hand. “Wouldn't have expected less.”

Chirrut hummed, blinking his eyes open. “You know, my lips aren't injured.”

“Insatiable,” Baze grumbled, leaning forward to kiss him fully. “Better?”

“It's a start.”

Baze was saved from responding by the doctor walking in. “Mister Imwe? I'm Doctor Kinn, I'm not sure if you remember me.”

“Pretty sure I do, since you were just here twenty minutes ago.”

Baze rolled his eyes. Being sick tended to make Chirrut more sarcastic than normal.

“And this is...?” the doctor asked, eyeing Baze skeptically.

“I'm his husband. I stay.”

“Fine. We have the results of your tests. Everything appears to be normal. Though your balance may be off for a few days. The nausea will most likely remain until then.” (“Oh, goody,” Chirrut mumbled under his breath.) “I think it would be best to keep you here for a few days for observation.”

“Thank you, but no,” Chirrut politely said, after feeling Baze's warning squeeze. “You just stated I was fine. I'd rather recover at home.”

“I'm afraid that is not your choice.” Chirrut started frowning as the doctor continued. “For a man in you condition, you've proven to be rather caviler with your health. I think it would be best to have a psych evaluation done.”

“I'm afraid I don't follow.” His voice had gone cold.

“I'll be blunt then. Your blind, Mister Imwe. As such, you should not be engaging in street fights, nor should you be wandering around alone. If people hadn't have come along, who knows what would have happened to you. It's a waste of time and resources that others have to look after you when—”

“That's enough.” Baze released Chirrut's hand and stood up. “That's enough. He has every right to walk through his own city. I think he did a good job defending himself against people that decided to attack him. He held his own against, what, six attackers. And what does sight have to do with anything? I think you are the one that is blind, that you can't see what is in front of you. How do you, someone pledged to care and heal, have any right to tear others down?” He pointed his finger at the doctors face. “Who are you to judge?”

“Baze.”

He turned immediately at Chirrut's whisper.

“I want to go home. Please?”

Breathing hard, he nodded his head. “He's checking out.”

“I think he should stay.”

“It's not up to you. He made his choice.”

“And you're causing him more harm than good!”

“No. I'm helping him be himself.”

With a huff, the doctor stormed out of the room. Baze dropped back in the chair, hand quickly finding Chirrut's. “I'm sorry,” he whispered. And he was. Sorry for the broken expression on Chirrut's face, for the tears that threatened to fall; for the way he had withdrawn and the dullness in his eyes; sorry that he had had those things said to him, but more so that he had had to defend him. “We'll leave as soon as the paperwork is done.”

“What if he won't let me leave?”

“Then we walk out. They can't stop us.” He rubbed his thumb along his palm and wrist. “We'll be home soon.”

It wasn't long before a nurse came in and began unhooking the monitors and the line for the IV. Chirrut stayed silent through it all, answering that he was fine when asked questions. The nurse handed Baze a packet with discharge instructions, noting the prescription provided for pain medication and an antibiotic. She asked if Chirrut wanted to sign the forms, but he merely waved them towards Baze. Sighing, knowing he had his work cut out for him, Baze signed the papers and started helping Chirrut dress as she went to copy them. She returned shortly with a wheelchair, which Chirrut slumped into without protesting. Baze knelt in front of him and kissed his cheek. “Let's go home.”

The others stood up as they reached the waiting room. Cassian came forward, keys in hand. “Jyn will drive Bodhi and Kay home in your car, I'll take you and Chirrut. It's easier that way.”

Baze started to say something before nodding. Cassian and Jyn left as Bodhi walked over. “Are you alright?” he asked, touching Chirrut's shoulder.

“I'm fine Bodhi, thank you.”

Nodding, Bodhi hugged him, sniffing softly as Chirrut hugged him back.

“Come on,” Baze said as Cassian pulled his SUV up to the curb. He picked up Chirrut and quickly settled him in the backseat. “You,” he called out to Jyn as she pulled up in his battered sedan. “If I find any scratches on my car, I'm holding you responsible.”

“It's nothing but scratches,” she complained.

“Then there better not be any new ones.”

The ride home was silent. Chirrut sat facing out the window, hands folded in his lap. Baze caught Cassian watching him for a moment in the rear view mirror and shook his head. Sighing, Baze closed his eyes and leaned back, silent until they pulled into the driveway. Cassian came around and took the bag with Chirrut's things and the discharge papers, moving toward the door to have it ready for them. Baze helped Chirrut leave the car, arm tight around his waist as he handed him his staff. “Take it slow. Let me know if you get dizzy.”

“I'm fine, Baze,” Chirrut huffed, starting to step forward before nearly losing his balance. Groaning, he caught himself on Baze's chest, eyes closed tight. “Okay, maybe a little dizzy.”

Snorting, Baze scooped him up, staggering a step before he adjusted to his weight. Chirrut kept the staff held tight in his hands as Baze carried him into the apartment and set him on the bed. “I'll be right back.”

He found Cassian in the kitchen, reading over the papers. “I'll go get the prescriptions. I already called Kay and told them to go get food for tonight. Do you need anything else?”

“Only get this one,” Baze said, pointing. “Also some more compression wraps and aspirin.”

“Okay. I'll be back. Good luck with him.”

Sighing, Baze went into the bathroom and started the water. He added a few drops of essential oils to help with the bruising he had seen starting and the tension he had felt in Chirrut as he had carried him in earlier. Satisfied with both the temperature and the smell, he turned off the water and went to fetch Chirrut. “You need a bath,” he said, moving forward to pull off his shirt. Chirrut grumbled at him as the fabric was pulled over his head.

“I'm fine.”

“No, you smell like an alley. Plus, you've been in a hospital and who knows what you picked up there. I'm not even comfortable with you sitting on the bedspread right now.”

Chirrut crossed his arms over his chest and pouted.

“Chirrut,” Baze warned, “if you're going to act like a five year old I'll treat you like one.”

Chirrut stuck out his tongue.

“Fine.” Baze pushed him back and pulled off his pants before picking him up and carrying him from the room, ignoring his shouts of protest. He dumped him gently in the water and reached for the soap.

“I can wash myself!” Chirrut complained, scowling at him.

“Nope. You wanted to act like a child so I'm treating you like one.” Baze set the soap aside and grabbed a bucket, upending it over his head. Chirrut sputtered as he lathered shampoo into his scalp, arms once again crossed over his chest.

“You're being silly,” he huffed.

“No, you are. Lift your arms.”

“No.”

“Fine.”

Before Chirrut could react, Baze dug his fingertips into his sides, easily finding one of the few ticklish spots Chirrut had. Laughing, he swatted at his hands, pushing him away. “Hey! Play fair. I was brutally attacked this morning!”

“Quit whining. You're truly being a child now. Maybe I should have Cassian pick up some bubble bath.”

“You're horrible.”

Laughing, Baze handed him the washcloth. “Hurry and finish up, you fool.” Baze left the bathroom, ignoring it as Chirrut splashed water at him. He went toward the kitchen where he could hear Jyn and Kay arguing about food. Cassian was just walking in with the medication, nodding toward Baze.

“Will you be needing anything else? I can get them out of your hair if you'd like.”

“We should be good. If Bodhi wants to stay he can.”

“Okay. We'll see you in the morning. I'll let you know if I hear anything before then.”

“Thank you.”

Cassian was quick to push Kay and Jyn out of the apartment; Baze shook his head as he listened to them still fighting on the stairs. Bodhi was keeping busy in the kitchen, heating soup and bread. He tensed as Baze came up behind him. “I'll leave in a few minutes. Jyn said I could stay with her if I wanted to tonight.”

“Stay.”

Bodhi turned around slowly, puzzled.

“You can stay as long as you wish. I'm not putting you out. And thank you. For helping Chirrut. It means a lot to me.”

“It's nothing.”

“Why did you do it? Why did you step in?” he asked, seeing the faint bruise forming on his cheek.

“Because it was the right thing to do. Chirrut is a good person; he's the first person in a long time to accept me for who I am, not what I can do for them. I like him. Besides,” he added, looking at his shoes, “I know he would have done it for me. I'd never be able to live with myself if I didn't do it for him. I mean, it's not fair to sneak up on someone during a fight.”

“The Empire doesn't play fair. Nor do thugs.”

“Well, I hate them,” Bodhi said, frowning.

Smiling, Baze clapped him on the shoulder, making his legs buckle. He picked up two bowls and carried them toward the bedroom, setting them on the end stand on his side. He found Chirrut's old bathrobe hidden in the back of the closet and shook it out. He wandered back into the bathroom, smiling as he saw Chirrut laying back in the tub, eyes closed.

“If you're trying to drown yourself, you need to go lower.”

Chirrut silently flipped him off.

Laughing, Baze drained the cooling water, ignoring the noise of protest from Chirrut as he pulled him upright. “Come on. You need to eat something.”

“I could eat you,” Chirrut mumbled, refusing to open his eyes.

“You have a concussion,” Baze said, wrapping a large towel around him.

“But I've been told I give amazing blow jobs. Besides, that never stopped us when we were younger. In fact, I seem to recall you quite enjoyed it then.”

“I did, until you threw up on my dick and then passed out. Gods, we were so stupid back then. I could have killed you.”

“Nah. I'm much too stubborn to die. Proved that again today.”

“Good,” Baze said vehemently. “I'm not sure how much more of this my heart can take,” he said, pulling Chirrut upright and wrapping the robe around him.

“You'll out live me, you old fool.”

“Probably. I'll most likely wind up being the one that finally does kill you.”

Laughing, Chirrut smacked his shoulder as he picked him up again. “I'm beginning to think you just like carrying me.”

“I might,” Baze admitted softly. “Although you are pretty heavy.”

“I can't believe you just called me fat.”

“Who said you were fat?” Baze said, setting him on the bed. “I meant your ego.” He handed him a set of cloths. “I'll be right back. Make sure you get dressed.”

He was quick to get the medical supplies and two glasses of water and hurried back to the room, closing the door behind him. He had barely noticed Bodhi curled up on the couch watching a nature documentary about Naboo, only noticing enough to be pleased that he had seemed to listen to him about staying. He looked at Chirrut, who was sitting cross legged on the bed, shoulders slumped and head tilted forward. He had changed into the sleep shirt and pants Baze had handed him, one of his old shirts that was too big for Chirrut, but was soft enough to be comfortable. He reached for his hands, setting two pills into it. “Here. Take these.”

Chirrut frowned, and looked away.

“It's just ibuprofen and an antibiotic.” He held out the water and kissed his nose. “Make sure you eat with it.”

Chirrut finally took the pills, reaching out carefully for the bowl Baze handed him as he sat on the edge of the bed in front of him. Baze rubbed his knee as he watched Chirrut pick at the food. Sighing, he picked up his own and ate it quickly, finally pulling the bowl from Chirrut's hand as he realized that he wasn't going to finish. “What's wrong?”

“Do you think he was right?” Chirrut asked, voice small and quiet.

Baze was quiet for a moment before asking, “the doctor?”

Nodding, Chirrut pulled his knees up to his chest.

“I think he was a moron and I'm planning to report him to the medical board. He had no right to talk to you that way.”

“But he was right that I am blind. Maybe I shouldn't have gone out alone.”

“Chirrut, where the hell is this coming from? It's been almost twenty-seven years. Why now?”

“I couldn't hear him!” Chirrut balled his hands into fists and slammed them into the bed. “I should have known he was there, but I didn't hear anything. And then suddenly he was hitting me and, and I—I should have known. I never should have let it happen, but it did, and I just—is he right?” he asked, voice dropping again, tears in his eyes.

Baze leaned forward and pulled him into as tight a hug as he could without hurting him. “Chirrut, being blind had nothing to do with this.”

“Didn't it?”

“No it didn't. You said it yourself. You couldn't hear him. So, that means one thing.”

“What?” came the watery question, as Chirrut pushed tighter against Baze.

“It means we start training harder. We get the others involved more. Maybe find a gym to join again. It took this long to find someone that could sneak up on you. I think that's pretty good. Now, the question is, are you going to let him win or are you going to fight back?”

Laughing, Chirrut wiped the tears from his eyes before kissing him. “How have you always known what to say to make me feel better?”

“You're the one that used to tell everyone we were soulmates.”

Chirrut sniffled as he started smiling. “I can't believe I cried,” he said sounding disgusted.

“You usually do after a concussion. It's nothing.”

“Sure I can't interest you in a little action?”

“Go to bed, you fool,” Baze said, pushing him to lie down. “I'm going to take a shower.” He gathered up their bowls and left the room, ignoring the rude noises Chirrut made behind him. By the time he returned, Chirrut was curled up on his side, breathing steady. Baze carefully laid down next to him, sighing in contentment as Chirrut rolled into him, head pressed firmly into his chest; he tangled their legs together and held him close as Chirrut's breath evened out again and he started to lightly snore, breath huffing across his chest. Baze pressed his lips the top of his head and tried to tell himself that they were safe; that nothing could harm them here within these walls. Chirrut was safe, they had friends and allies that cared about them, they had a home. They had made a family. He squeezed his eyes shut as the the first of the tears came, trying to keep his breathing calm. He felt Chirrut stir slightly, as well as the quick little intake of breath he did when first waking up, but was grateful that Chirrut chose not to say anything. He rested his chin on his head and held him close. Where Chirrut prayed to the force, Baze prayed to Chirrut, thankful that he had him here for another day.

~~~

“Chirrut, put your boots back on,” Baze chided, face stern.

“But it's hot,” Chirrut whined. He was sitting in what little shade could be found beside one of the trucks; his combat boots and socks were discarded beside him, pants rolled up almost to his knees. At least he's still wearing his vest and helmet, Baze thought, rolling his eyes.

“You're going to get in trouble if the commander sees you.”

“Baze, we're clearly going to be here a while. They've pitched a tent,” he said, pointing toward the sand colored structure set about thirty yards from the road. “I'm not on guard duty. In fact, I wasn't given any assignment as of yet. No one will care. Come on,” he said, smiling seductively, patting the ground next to him. “Come join your husband in the two inches of shade I can find. I'll make it worth your while.”

Baze blushed as Kip came up behind him laughing. “He's got a point, Malbus. We're clearly not going anywhere.”

“That's what worries me,” Baze said, scanning the horizon, weapon held ready in front of him. “I wish they had decided to stop someplace safer.”

“Tell me about it,” Kip said, dropping down next to Chirrut and gratefully taking the water he offered. “Man, I still can't believe they let you two be in the same unit.” Kip wiped at the sweat forming on his dark face, eyes bright as he studied them. “I didn't think they allowed spouses to fight besides one another.”

“They didn't have a choice,” Chirrut said, pushing his helmet up from where it had slide over his eyes from the sweat. “I go where Baze goes.”

Kip shook his head, patting him on the back. “Man, I truly hope that one day I find someone to love as much as you two love each other. You seemed pretty close last night.”

Baze's face flushed brighter as Chirrut laughed. “Well, Baze does know what I like. And he's especially good with his tongue when he wants to be. Last night he—”

“Chirrut!”

Kip laughed as Chirrut wiggled his eyebrows at Baze. “Looks like you've been in the sun too long, Malbus. You're dark red. Thought you two were from the desert?”

“Jedha is cold,” Chirrut said, “unlike this force forsaken place.” He looked up at Baze to say something snide when he caught the look in his eyes. Baze was studying the ridge line, back straight, weapon raised higher though still at rest. “What is it?”

“Someone's coming.”

Kip jumped up and pulled a pair of binoculars from his belt. “Looks like two trucks, ours from the marks.” He strode off the alert the others.

“Chirrut—”

“I know. Shoes going back on.”

By the time the vehicles had gotten within range, the commander had been notified. The sentries at the edge of the camp identified the trucks as being part of a nearby battalion. The men were arranged around the camp, nervous. Chirrut stood close to the tent, assigned guard duty by Kip. Baze had slapped him on the back before moving toward the front with Kip and DuLaine, ready to greet or repel whatever was coming their way. Beside Chirrut, Dearborne shifted from side to side, clearly uncomfortable in his first assignment. Chirrut opened the flap an inch and said to the men inside, “they're here.”

The trucks came to a stop near their own; eight men stepped out, four from each. Baze frowned; each transport was designed to hold twenty, plus the four personnel in the front cab. Either they were on their way to pick up supplies or something was wrong. Kip must have had the same idea; he had drawn himself up to his full height, towering over the rest of the men. He recognized one of the men as a communications expert that had worked with them on their last mission.

“Kilnay,” he said. “What brings you here?”

“Captain Ardos wanted to speak with Commander Den. We saw your unit drive by earlier and decided to follow.”

Baze frowned, suspicious. Kilnay seemed nervous, more than normal. Kip scrutinized him for a moment before raising his hand. His men surrounded them. “You won't mind if we take your weapons.”

“Not at all. It's standard procedure, isn't it?”

Baze glanced back at Chirrut, who carefully sifted his gaze to the man behind Ardos. Baze moved slowly until he was behind the man, glancing at the transports. They seemed to be riding low on their tires. He felt even more uneasy.

Ardos, Kilnay, and Kip were making small talk as his men were cleared. Kip finally waved him toward the tent. Ardos turned to the man Baze was watching. “Dex, stay here with Kilnay. Wait until I call you.”

Dex frowned, but did as he was told, glaring at Baze as he settled in. Kip gave his men the signal to stand at the ready. They slowly relaxed, weapons still drawn, but more at ease now that things had been settled. Chirrut glanced at Ardos as he passed by, frowning as he caught a whiff of chemicals. He tightened his grip on his gun, reaching out with his other hand to grab the front of Ardos's uniform. Ardos glared at him.

Distantly, Chirrut heard Baze call his name as Ardos slowly raised his fist. Chirrut brought his weapon up right as the transport on the right exploded, sending debris raining down on the camp. Yelling and gunfire started. Chirrut pushed his concerns for Baze to the back of his mind, stumbling back from Ardos and firing; he was only semi surprised when it was deflected; he could now see the armor he wore was different from the ones worn by either separatists or republic troops. He tried to call a warning as Kip yelled for everyone to take cover. Kilnay, eyes closed, tears on his face, was pushed by Dex into the center of the fight. Dex pulled a tab on his vest before shoving him into the crowded soldiers. An explosion rocked out, catching Dearborne and sending him flying. Cursing, Chirrut kicked Ardos back, yelling for those inside to run.

He grabbed a nearby shovel and drove it as hard as he could into Ardos's helmet, sending it flying. With a quick downward stab, he broke his arm, making Ardos scream in pain. He pulled a knife from his boot and stabbed through the neck piece, ending his fight. He looked up as the next transport went up in flames. Knocked back, he landed hard on the ground near where Dex was now kneeling. Ears ringing, he pushed himself onto his hands and knees, panting as he tried to gain his feet. He heard faint laughing coming from Dex. He finally made it upright, catching sight of Baze running toward him, weapon up. He turned, puzzled as he felt a hand grab his boot. Dex had lost part of his vest as well as a leg, but his hands still held onto one of the vials containing a strange blue liquid. He rose to his knees, pulling Chirrut down toward him; he held it close to Chirrut's face as his head throbbed painfully.

“This is just the beginning.”

Chirrut heard Baze yelling as an explosion went off next to them. The fire must have reached the fuel tanks, Chirrut thought as he felt the heat hit him. He looked at Baze as the blast knocked him from his feet and across the camp; as he hit the ground, he felt something liquid hit his face. For the first time in his life, pure pain overtook him. He screamed in agony as fire raced through his veins; he truly felt as if he was dying, though as the seconds wore on, he wished the end would come already. He cried out as he felt hands grab his shoulders.

“Chirrut! No! Chirrut! Stay with me! Stay with me!”

Tears mixed with blood on his face, the world around him growing dark. He was burning; there was no escape. He tried to take Baze's hand but was unable to move his fingers. He heard Baze pleading, calling for a medic. He was finally able to raise his hand shakily enough to brush over Baze's cheek, feeling the ruff mix of dirt and stubble wet with what he hoped were tears. He heard Baze moan his name against his hand and tried to smile as he drifted away. His last thoughts were that at least his life would end in the arms of his one protector. At least he would die loved.

~~~

Chirrut woke with a start, sweat beading on his forehead. Baze moaned, rubbing at his eyes.

“Chirrut? What's wrong?”

“Nothing. Bad dream. It's okay. Sorry I woke you.”

Rumbling, Baze wrapped him tighter into his arms and yawned. “Want to talk?”

“No, I'm okay.” He waited a moment, before closing his eyes. “Don't let go,” he whispered.

“Never.”

Chapter Text

Yawning, Bodhi rolled over and faced the window, sleepy eyes watching the light change as the sun rose. He rubbed his eyes, listening for any sounds coming from the bedroom. Hearing only silence, he slipped into the bathroom to change for the day, before heading out and up the stairs. He knocked softly on the door, barely surprised when Cassian answered right away.

“When can I start flight training?”

Cassian quirked an eyebrow. “I think we can set it up soon. How much do you know?”

“Mostly what I've read or practiced with the simulators. I did observe the pilots for the Empire a few times.”

“Why the hurry?”

“I want to help. I won't sit back anymore.”

Cassian nodded, smiling at Bodhi. “I'll do my best. I was planning to talk to Baze today anyway. If you can go get Jyn, we'll continue where we left off yesterday.”

Bodhi smiled and hurried up the stairs, lightly knocking on the door as Jyn pulled it open.

“Cassian says it's time.”

“Finally. I'm ready. What's the hold up?”

“Baze.”

* * *

Baze rolled onto his back and rubbed his eyes. Chirrut snorted and rolled away, wrapping the blankets tighter around his shoulders. Baze checked his bandages before getting up; he was halfway through making breakfast when the other arrived, sans Kay who refused to leave his room. Cassian quietly handed him a paper containing what had been discovered of the attackers. They were connected to the Empire, specifically to a man named Krennic. Unfortunately little information had been gathered from them, partly due to the condition Chirrut had left them in (and Baze couldn't help but be proud of that); one managed to commit suicide while in custody before the Alliance had taken over. One had let slip that they had been sent to locate Jyn. Aside from that one tidbit, Alliance intelligence officers were unable to gleam anything else from them so far. “One's still missing?” Baze asked.

“No one was able to get a good description of him. The Alliance is looking into it.”

Baze sighed as he set the paper down before returning his focus to the food. “Cassian, you can start the coffee, Jyn can make the toast. Bodhi, set the table.”

They moved seamlessly around each other, comfortable with each others presence. It was what helped make his decision.

“I'll help you,” he said to Cassian, eyes on the bacon and eggs cooking in the pan.

“Thank you. I cannot guarantee your safety, nor Chirrut if he helps—”

“That fool will never allow himself to be left behind. He'll probably help too.”

“Okay.” Cassian started filling mugs, setting them in their proper places, giving himself time to think. “I feel like our priority should be finding Galen; however, we need proof that sending a team after him will be worthwhile. I'm thinking we need to form a team, train up a bit before jumping in.”

“Or,” Jyn said, trying not to snap at Cassian, “we could leave the bastard behind.”

“Jyn—”

“Cassian, he left everything behind to work for those murderers. Why should I care what happens to him?”

“Because I don't think he was given a choice,” Cassian said, rubbing his forehead. “I've read his research. He was never a fighter. Bodhi told us what he asked. He wanted to make sure you were safe.”

“What about the message he sent?” Bodhi asked. “About finding Saw.”

Cassian and Jyn frowned at him. “I don't think Draven will approve.”

“But she knows him. Maybe he will.”

“It's not a bad idea,” Baze said, setting the food on the table.

“It is,” Jyn said, arms crossed. “I never said I would agree to help, just that I would consider. And I want nothing to do with anyone that abandoned me when I needed them.”

“Jyn, please. Just get us to him and if you still don't want to help, I'll find someplace for you to go, okay?” Cassian pleaded.

“If I can agree to help, you can agree to do this one thing, little sister,” Baze said, smiling softly.

“'Little sister'?”

“You have a kyber crystal. And you know how to fight. You would have made an excellent guardian.”

She took a bite of her eggs, not saying a word.

* * *

After breakfast, Baze asked Cassian to send Kay down to see him. Cassian agreed and left with Jyn, who was pestering him to spar with her in the gym. Bodhi volunteered to wash the dishes and cleanup the kitchen. Patting him on the shoulder, Baze went to wake up Chirrut; he found him curled up on his side, face buried in his pillow, drool spreading.

“Up,” he said, patting his hip. “Get up you old fool.”

“So mean,” came the muffled response. “I have a head injury. You should be nicer to me.”

“Yes, well, I need to make sure you're okay, so you need to get up before I leave.”

Chirrut cautiously sat up, gingerly rubbing his head as he did. “You took another job?”

“Not exactly,” Baze hedged.

“What exactly, then?”

“I'm going to the alliance base today. I'll make it official. Should I assume you'll be joining me?”

“You should.” He threw back the covers and tried to stand up, huffing as Baze pushed him back down.

“You stay here. At least for another day.”

“I'm fine. I'm barely even dizzy today.”

“Be that as it may, you are not going anywhere. You're on bed rest today.”

“Baze!”

“You owe me.”

Chirrut fell silent. “You wouldn't,” he warned, eyes narrowed.

“Do you remember when I let you bring Bodhi into this household?”

“You like him. Don't pretend you don't.”

“Besides the point. I told you that you would owe me. Well, times up. I'm cashing in.”

Sighing, Chirrut flopped back on the bed. “You know, I was thinking more along the lines of a sexual favor.”

“I'd rather have this. One day. You follow the doctors orders. Bed rest, take your pills, let someone else take care of you. Okay?”

“Fine. You big baby.”

Baze kissed his forehead. “I'll be leaving Bodhi and Kay in charge. I'll see you in a few hours.”

* * *

“You know, I don't think this is what Baze meant by bed rest,” Bodhi said, nervously, as he helped Chirrut walk to the garage.

“He's not stumbling, his word aren't slurred, and his eyes are clear,” Kay said with bored indifference. “He's fine as long as he just sits.”

Bodhi sighed and opened the door. “Fine, but you're explaining all of this to Baze.” He winced as he watched Jyn land a brutal blow to Cassian's thigh, thankful that they had both put on pads before starting. He helped Chirrut sit down, thinking back to the conversation he had had with Baze before he left.

“I want you to keep an eye on him today. I'll pay.”

“You don't have to pay me,” Bodhi protested. “I'm willing to help out.”

“Be that as it may, I'm paying you. I'll give you a thousand for the week.”

Bodhi's eyes went wide. He tried to stammer out response when Baze raised his hand, cutting him off.

“Chirrut is hard to deal with when he feels useless. You might start to hate him before the day is up. If you don't want the money, you can do whatever you want with it after. But I'm not taking no for an answer. You'll have Key to help you. You'll need it.”

“You know,” Chirrut said, slowly shifting his staff from hand to hand, “I could just step in for a moment to give them some pointers.”

“No. You're supposed to be sitting.”

“Just for a minute. I'd be quick.”

“Chirrut. No.”

“It'd be easy. I'd never even have to move.”

“Kay, help,” Bodhi pleaded. “Tell him that's a bad idea.”

“You're the one watching him,” Kay said, reading something on his phone. “You stop him.”

Bodhi sighed. It was going to be a long day.

Chapter Text

In the week following, Bodhi felt like he was losing his mind. Chirrut had tested his patience more than he would admit to Baze, who had laughed at the haggard expression on his face that first afternoon. He had finally begun his pilot training—and done surprisingly well.

His instructor had been impressed. “I've never see anyone pick things up so quickly,” she had said, eyes impressed.

“I, uh, I might have spent some time talking with the cargo pilots the few times I traveled by plane with the Empire,” he muttered, grinning sheepishly as he flawlessly passed the advanced simulation.

The instructor, a woman named Henn, had studied him for a moment before pointing him toward a small carrier. “That one can carry up to twenty personnel. It can be handled solo, but a co-pilot is recommended. Think you can handle one?”

“Maybe? But I thought those were only used on missions. Why are you asking?”

“Because Cassian has stressed that he'd like you on the team he's trying to form. And since you clearly don't strike me as a fighter, I figured we'd utilize you as support. Teams are only as good as their equipment. Though others will tell you it's the commander that makes or breaks a team, it's the pilot that gets them in or out.”

“He really thinks I can do it?” He waited until she nodded, before smiling. “Okay. I'll try.”

“Good. Let's go get a closer look at it's systems. We'll also go over basic repairs, which will definitely come in handy.”

* * *

Jyn truly hated Draven. Her opinion of him had not changed since day one. He still struck her as arrogant, bullheaded, misogynistic, and narrow-minded; though it galled her to admit that sometimes he was correct in his ideas. She couldn't see herself joining the Alliance, not after their original plans for her, anymore than she could see herself as part of the team Cassian was putting together. She liked them well enough as people (she could even grudgingly admit that she might someday be friends with some of them); but she doubted she could ever trust them with her life. Trust was something of an issue for her.

She sat at the table, arms crossed over her chest as Cassian argued with him.

“Saw might have a lead for us,” Cassian was saying, yet again. “I truly think we need to speak with him.”

“He won't speak with us,” Dodonna said, shaking his head. “We've tried to get him on our side before.”

“He's an extremist,” Draven said. “A loose cannon. He's not someone we should trust.”

“How well do you know him, Miss Erso?” Mothma asked, face stern.

“As well as anyone can. He fought in the separatists war, on the Republic's side. He saw his family killed, his country destroyed. He's witnessed atrocities few can ever imagine. He doesn't have friends; I don't even think he believes in allies anymore, just people with the same goals.”

“But he trusts you,” Mothma said, insistent on an answer.

“He raised me. Trained me to fight, to stay ahead of the enemy. Then he dumped me.”

“You've been in contact with him, don't lie,” Draven said, posture mirroring hers.

“We've sent messages to each other now and then, mostly about movements of imperial troops.”

“Can you find his current location?” Cassian asked, hopeful.

“It's possible. What exactly would you be expecting from this?”

“Just an introduction,” Cassian said.

“The location to Galen Erso,” Draven said over him.

“As to whether Saw knows my father's location will be for you to determine. If you just want to meet him, I can arrange that. I'll just need some time.”

“You have three days.”

Jyn raised her eyebrow at Draven as he stalked from the room, Cassian already on his heels arguing for more time.

“I expect to hear more good things about you,” Mothma said, gathering her papers. “Cassian has already told us much.”

Interesting, she thought.

Chapter Text

Cassian was able to wrangle them two weeks. He had had his doubts that this would work, but had little choice. They needed to find Galen. Mon Mothma wanted him to go before the United Senates and present what the Empire intended to do. They had been searching for the scientist for years; their closest lead had come with Bodhi's arrival. They had sent a team to the location Bodhi had remembered, but the facility had been shut down; they found only traces of the research being conducted there, minor evidence that the scientist had existed. They were clearly on the right track; Saw was now their best bet.

He was worried more about the team dynamics. They had never worked together in the field. Dodonna had given him full reign to choose whom he wished; he had chosen to stick with the team he currently had. Baze had rolled his eyes and pointed out that leaving Bodhi and Kay behind might be for the best.

“Probably,” Cassian sighed, completing yet another weapons check. “But if I want this to work, I need to just run with it.”

“I'm starting to think you're a bigger fool than Chirrut,” he said.

“I'm starting to agree.”

“And just how are we to get there? Your pilot is good, but he hasn't passed his flight test yet.”

“I'll fly us. I'm certified as necessary. Besides, this will be good practice for Bodhi.”

“And just where are we going?” Baze asked, crossing his arms.

“Jedha.”

Baze's face lost most of it's color. “I didn't think that anything was left of it. The Empire was pretty ruthless in its takeover.”

“The main cities still exist, as well as the outlying towns. The holy city itself is under occupation, but from what Jyn has told us, Saw has been sticking to the surrounding hills and mountain sides. She knows most of his people; that'll be our in.” Cassian hesitated, not looking at Baze. “If you are uncomfortable with returning to Jedha, I'll understand.”

Baze huffed, arms crossed. “Geonosis would be worse. There is nothing left in Jedha for either of us to mourn. We're both war orphans, just in different ways.”

“Just, make sure Chirrut is okay with returning. We'll figure something out if he's not.”

“Chirrut is a fool. He's never let the past dictate his future. He'll probably think this is the greatest adventure of his life.”

Cassian laughed. “How have you put up with him for so long?”

“Easy. It's better to follow the force than to push against it. Chirrut leads, I follow.”

Cassian shook his head. “You're crazier than he is.”

“He's kept me sane. I've kept him level. We'll be fine.”

Nodding, Cassian left to file the necessary forms for what they would need. Time would be tight. He needed to focus.

* * *

They planned out the trip to take two flights, stopping at the last sector of protected Republic airspace for refueling and rest before completing the flight to Jedha. Bodhi had been nervous as Cassian coached him through the flight, though he had flown as if he was an expert. Baze had fought not to smile at the grin that split his face as he powered down the engines after landing; Bodhi's happiness could easily light up a room. It had been decided that Chirrut and Kay would stay behind with Bodhi once they arrived in Jedha; Cassian and Jyn would take point in finding Saw while Baze would provide back up. Chirrut had snorted, but hadn't fought it. He knew that he was staying to provide protection for not only the ship but for Bodhi and Kay.

Cassian took over for the flight into Jedha, managing through a combination of stealth and skill to avoid notice of the occupying forces. They landed on the outskirts of the holy city, concealed in the wilderness that surrounded the hillsides and wastelands. Cassian gave Bodhi a quick run down on how to preform an emergency take off while Jyn sorted through their gear, removing what she deemed nonessential. She tried to ignore Baze and Chirrut as they quietly held each other near the ramp; Chirrut's arms were tight around Baze's neck as Baze buried his face in his shoulder, arms crushing his waist. Chirrut was whispering something in his ear. Baze pulled away with a small sniffle and a quick laugh. He carefully brushed at Chirrut's cheek, mindful of the gloves he had already put on, before shouldering his pack and weapon. He nodded to Cassian and Jyn as they approached, opening the ramp.

“May the force of others be with you,” Chirrut said, leaning heavily on his staff. Baze closed his eyes and stepped out onto his home soil, silently leading the way toward the city. Bodhi joined Chirrut on the ramp, watching as they slowly receded into the distance.

“Will they be okay?”

“Baze promised to return. He's never failed before. They'll be fine.”

Bodhi bit his lip. “I'm scared,” he admitted as the ramp closed.

“So am I.”

 

* * *

They barely raised an eyebrow from the residents of Jedha City. Even before the occupation had begun, going back to the war with the separatists, armed individuals within the walls had become the norm. It was easy for Baze to fall back into the mindset he had as a child, when war first started to make itself known. As a teenager, he and Chirrut had found themselves often at odds with those around them—as guardians, they were expected to remain passive and set aside from the fights; as individuals, they had had strong opinions. Baze had hated the idea of a war, even as he had agreed with some of the Republic's assessments of the enemy forces. Chirrut, hothead that he had been, had often picked fights, playing the devil's advocate; more often than not he had walked away with a black eye or a loose tooth, though his opponent was never as lucky. That had changed the day the temple had been struck down. When the order had been disbanded, Chirrut had been left on the streets, his entire life gone in a flash. Baze had taken him in immediately, against his parents will; for him there had been no other option. When they too turned their backs on them, Baze and Chirrut had struck out on their own; it was then that Baze had hardened his heart and decided to join the fight where Chirrut had pulled back and sought out peace.

Tightening his grip on his holstered weapon, Baze pushed back his thoughts. He pulled his mind back to the now, noting the run down structures and piles of rubble, the scorch marks and blood stains marking the passage of time. He studied the tired citizens that trudged past, huddled in corners and doorways, peddled trinkets trying to earn any small coin they could, or simply begged. He thought of his sisters—no, he told himself; now was not the time to remember.

“Rumor has it that Saw has allies hiding in the temple ruins,” Cassian said, pointing down the road toward the east.

“If you plan to go to the temple, you go alone,” Baze said, eyes flashing. “I draw a line at that.”

“Saw won't be there. Anyone living in the ruins might be working with him but they won't help us. They'd be more likely to shoot us on site,” Jyn said, pushing her scarf farther back on her head. “We should head for the market district, listen for leads. See if the vendors I used to know are even still alive. They can point us toward Saw.”

“I agree with little sister,” Baze said. “Nothing good can come from a place of death.”

“Fine,” Cassian said, gesturing impatiently. “Lead off.”

Jyn started down an alley, ignoring the bodies wrapped up in blankets among the garbage; she couldn't tell if they were alive or dead, having frozen in the cold or having starved to death. “Little sister?” she muttered to Baze, who was following close beside her. “Why do you keep calling me that?”

“Your pendant came from our temple,” he said, eyes scanning constantly. “Had things been different, you might have joined the ranks of the guardians. That makes you my sister in arms.” He smiled at her, eyes bright.

Jyn's hand found the crystal tucked inside her clothes. “How do you know where it came from? My mother didn't even know.”

“You'll have to ask Chirrut that question sometime.”

* * *

The marketplace, once a cluttered square filled with shops and trees around which had sprung up stalls and booths, was now a collection of beggars and trash. The trees had long since been cut down for heat sources as natural resources became scarce; most of the shops were closed up, windows broken and graffiti covering their surfaces; the booths were little more than scraps of fabric beneath which people cried and begged, selling what they could or themselves if they had nothing else.

To Baze, it was worse than death.

He watched as Jyn moved slowly along the perimeter, studying the crowds. Cassian was tense beside him. “Do you have a bad feeling? Like we don't belong here?” he asked, warily eyeing the ragged group sitting on a crumbling wall across from them.

“I left Jedha for a reason. I swore I'd never come back. We don't belong here, but that doesn't mean much anymore.” Baze cautiously moved toward Jyn, Cassian flanking him. He touched her shoulder, sensing more than seeing her nod. She was watching a group of men; one was muttering to his partner; the other nodded before standing up and walking away.

“We should follow him,” Jyn said, starting toward the alley he had retreated down. “He used to be one of Saw's biggest allies.”

“He looks more likely to kill us,” Cassian said.

“He's the best lead we have.”

“I don't like this,” Baze said, reluctantly following along.

“Me neither,” Cassian muttered. “It could be a trap.”

“Oh, it's definitely a trap,” Jyn said cheerily. “But we'll be the ones springing it.”

“What's your plan?” Cassian asked suspiciously.

“We give them something they can't resist.”

“What's that?”

“The pilot.”

Chapter Text

Kay was getting bored with waiting. It annoyed him that Chirrut was clearly not bothered by any of the events; he was laying back across a row of seats, foot waving slowly in the air in time to a wordless tune he was humming. Bodhi was nervously reading and rereading the flight instructions on the tablet that Cassian had given him. He clearly had it memorized, as he was able to recite whole passages without looking at the screen.

Bodhi jumped in his seat as the communication array pinged with an incoming encoded message. Kay opened the screen, inputting the code that Cassian had taught him and quickly deciphering the message. He was frowning as Chirrut walked up. “This makes no sense.”

“What does it say?” Chirrut asked, face serene.

“'Pilot wanted. Full in. Central. Double time.' What is that supposed to mean?”

Chirrut inhaled sharply. “Bodhi. How well do you trust me?”

Bodhi was frowning at him, not that Chirrut could see it. “I'd trust you with my life.”

“Good.” Chirrut grabbed him by the shoulder, hard. “Get up. We need to go now.”

“Chirrut?”

“Kay, stay put. Shoot anyone that tries to come in that is not us. Bodhi, start walking toward the hills.”

“What are you planning?” Kay asked, locating the weapon Cassian had hidden in the cockpit.

“That message is from Baze. Stay here and keep this ship safe. We might need a quick escape later.”

Kay frowned as Chirrut forced Bodhi down the ramp. “Is it really a good idea to be leaving?”

“No. But sometimes there is no other choice.”

* * *

Bodhi was scared. While it wasn't a new feeling, he hadn't felt this afraid since before he had met Chirrut. It was true, though; he did trust him implicitly. But he was still worried. Chirrut hadn't said anything since leaving the plane behind, just carefully felt along the ground with his staff, gently pushing Bodhi in the correct direction even as his hand gripped tight enough to bruise. They had climbed into the hills and found a hidden trail; Chirrut was clearly counting in his head, though Bodhi wasn't sure what, if it was steps or something else. They climbed higher into the wilderness, veering towards an open plateau. Chirrut gestured for Bodhi to sit down; he did, settling nervously on a boulder.

“I need you to listen carefully,” Chirrut said, voice low. “When they come, you need to play along. Everything you will hear from us will be an act. We will keep you safe, you have my word, but you might still get hurt. Can you do that? Can you make this work?”

“Who's coming? I don't understand—”

“Bodhi, please. There isn't any time. Can you play along?”

“Yes,” he whispered, eyes closing.

“Good. I'm sorry. I won't leave your side, okay?”

Before Bodhi could respond, he heard the sound of foot steps approaching them from the north.

“And you're sure they'll be here? Cause if you're lying to me, I'll make you suffer. Saw doesn't like liars, remember that.”

“I know what Saw appreciates,” Jyn said, voice floating up to them. “We'll keep our end of the bargain. Just make sure you keep yours.”

Bodhi nervously rose to his feet as the group crested the hill. Jyn was walking along side a scruffy man, a long scar running down his face and twisting his cheek. He was carrying a rifle and grinned in delight as he caught sight of Bodhi and Chirrut.

“Well well well. Looks like you were telling the truth about your friends. Is he really the cargo driver?”

“As of yet, I have no reason to lie to you,” Jyn said, scowling at the man's friends, who had moved to ring the group. “Now will you lead us to Saw?”

“In a moment. First, I want to have a little fun with the Imperial.” Bodhi paled and started shaking, standing up quickly to hide behind Chirrut.

“Saw will not like it if you touch his things. Don't think I won't report you.”

“And what's to stop me from killing you right here?”

Jyn's smile grew colder, more feral. “Because I've been in continuous contact with Saw since arriving in this hell-hole. Carry to test if I'm lying?”

The man made an irritated noise before backing off. “Fine. We'll go. But don't even think about trying to run. I'm one of Saw's top enforcers; he trusts me more than anyone.”

“Sure, sure,” Jyn said, rolling her eyes. “Lead on.”

Bodhi glanced back at Chirrut as Baze stepped forward to push him on. “Courage, little one,” he muttered softly for only Bodhi to hear. “We've got you.” Bodhi drew in a deep breath and allowed himself to be moved, falling in between Baze and Chirrut; Cassian brought up the rear with the rest of Saw's men. They hiked for a while, approaching a cave system a few miles off. Bodhi was dismayed to see a series of guards outside the entrance, weapons held ready.

He flinched as he was roughly searched, along with the others, before being shoved into the cave. Lights had be installed after the first turn; it eventually opened up into a long cavern, leading deeper into the mountain. Farther in, the rooms began to have windows carved into them if they ran alongside the outside. Each room contained a motley collection of thugs, men and women hardened by rough living and warfare. The man escorting them pointed toward the back; he muttered something to the guard at the door before turning back.

“Saw will see us now. If he likes what you've brought him, he just might be persuaded to help your piddly little cause.”

Bodhi could tell that Jyn was trying hard not to roll her eyes as she followed him through the doors. He pressed himself back closer to Chirrut, licking his lip as he caught sight of a seated figure rubbing at his chin as he studied a map spread before him. The man looked up as the thug approached him with a swagger.

“Saw! I bring you a present. My men have finally tracked down that Imperial 'defector' that everyone is so keen on catching.”

The man stood up slowly, glaring at the group. Jyn was standing next to the thug, arms crossed over her chest. The man stared at her for a moment, before slowly approaching. He had a prosthetic limb, Bodhi noted with surprise, as well as braces covering half his body. He came to a halt in front of Jyn, eyes dark and cold.

“Hello Saw.”

“Jyn. It's been a long time. Welcome back, my girl.”

Jyn laughed as the man embraced her, arms wrapping tight around her. “I see you're still kicking.”

“It'll take more than a few bombs to stop old Saw. But what is this?” he said, pulling away from her to glare at Cassian and the rest. “When did you start siding with Rebels? I thought I taught you better than that.”

“Since I wasn't given much of a choice. Your little friends led the Imperials right to me. This beats trying to fight my way out of a work camp.”

Saw looked surprised and betrayed as he stared at her. “You think I sent people after you? Me? I raised you since you were a child, I took you in after no one else would. I treated you as a daughter.” His nostrils flared as he turned toward the thug standing beside Jyn. “Idiot!” He yelled. “Do you not recognize one of our own? One of our greatest? Get out of my sight! I'll deal with you later.”

His men hastily left the room except for the two stationed near the door. Saw chose to ignore them. He pointed at Jyn. “I never would have sent anyone to you. You know that, right?”

“Then how did Talon find me?”

“Talon? Is he still alive? I'll kill him! I'll tear him limb to limb! That traitor! He left us, about six months ago.”

“He's dead,” Cassian said, eyeing Saw as one would a dangerous animal. “Killed by the Imperials that captured Jyn.”

“I was found by the Rebels and given a choice. Help them or go to prison for my 'protection'. I rather like the illusion of freedom so I made my choice.”

“But you brought the defector,” Saw said, eyeing Bodhi suspiciously. “We can use him, gain what information we can.” He stepped forward to grab Bodhi, stopping short as Chirrut and Baze blocked his path.

“This one belongs to us,” Cassian said, arms over his chest. “You may talk to him but nothing else. No harm can come to him.”

“He is an Imperial!” Saw yelled, face flushing. “You would dare side with him?” he said, turning to face Jyn, eyes wild.

“I would,” Jyn said, perfectly relaxed. “He's given me no reason to doubt that he's truly defected. Plus, he said he had something to deliver to you and the Rebels.”

Saw turned back to the group, glaring at Baze. “I know you,” he muttered. “You were from Jedha originally, were you not? You fought in Geonosis. You of all people should hate the Imperials most of all. And yet you protect one? Why would you do this?”

“Bodhi has done nothing wrong,” Chirrut said, answering for Baze. “He is trying to make amends and do the right thing. He was sent by Galen with a message for you.”

Bodhi startled, subtly trying to signal Chirrut that he had nothing on him. Baze pushed him in front of them, bumping his pocket slightly. Frowning, Bodhi felt the hard edge of a flash drive push into his side. He reached into his pocket trying to figure out how it had gotten there. Baze flicked his eyes at Chirrut and suddenly Bodhi understood; this was Chirrut's plan. They needed Saw on their side and this was how they planned to win him over. He was worried that he wouldn't be able to pull it off, but Chirrut had promised to keep him safe. Bodhi decided to continue trusting him.

“Galen gave me this,” he said, voice only slightly shaking. “He told me to find you and Cassian. He said I could be brave, that I could make a difference. I didn't want to contribute anymore to an organization that does such awful things.” He held the drive out to Saw, hand shaking.

Saw glared at him before calling one of his men over. “Sen! Take that and check it. If everything checks out okay, I'll speak with you. If not, I have more men than you. You'll never be able to escape.” He gestured for Jyn to follow him. “You and I need to talk.”

* * *

Saw closed the door to his private area after waving Jyn in. She surveyed the room, sighing at the bare walls and hastily wired lantern lights; after losing her mother, this was how she had lived most of her life, constantly on the move, living in run down buildings and caves, never trusting anyone, never relaxing. The old tension was starting to return. She hadn't realized that she had been missing it before this mission had started; it was something she would have to explore later, after they were safe again. While she knew that Saw would not harm her, she knew that they were not safe from his men. She was surprised to see some of the men and women that she had known before she had been left on her own still alive. It wasn't a pleasant feeling.

“Jyn. Why are you really here?” Saw asked, tears in his eyes.

“I told you. The Alliance needs to know where my father is. He's been trying to contact you. They felt that you might be able to help them. I've never lied to you before, Saw. I'm not about to start now.”

“So you haven't come to kill me?”

She drew a deep breath at the quiver in his voice, in the belief that someone he considered his family could betray him that easily. “No, Saw. I could never kill you. Hate you, yes. You abandoned me, left me to fend for myself. Did you ever really care about me?”

“I loved you Jyn, as your parents did. Who do you think kept funneling money into your accounts? Kept your possessions? Child, the day I had to leave you is the one day that I regret. I did it to keep you safe. There were those within my organization that were close to discovering who you were. They would have harmed you. I couldn't have that. So I sent you away—”

“Abandoned.”

“Left you, and gods did it kill me. I left you to save you. I interrogated everyone, weeded out those that wanted to hurt the cause, cut ties with the Alliance even, and that—wait. That man.” His face transformed, going through shock and wonder and anger. “That boy. That Rebel! He was one I worked with. He—”

“Saved my life and asked nothing in return except to meet with you. They wanted him to kill you, his superiors did, years ago, and he refused. He still refuses, and he's done some terrible things. He's told me. He's a good liar, but I learned from the best how to tell a lie from a truth. You taught me that.”

“And you trust them?” Saw asked, suspicious.

“I do,” she said, finding that, for the first time, she truly meant it.

Saw sighed as he sat down. “Jyn, my girl. You have allied yourself with dangerous men.”

“Well, that's okay. I'm a dangerous woman.”

“That you are. Your mother would be so proud of you.”

Jyn froze, arms crossed over her chest.

“I see much of her in you. But I also see your father. Galen was a strong man, just slow to act. He did what he thought was right.”

“He let her die,” she hissed, eyes cold and filling with tears.

“And it broke him. Yes, I know,” he said, watching her face. “I saw him. Once, a few years ago. He was not the same. Lyra was his only love. When she died, he never recovered. He was led to believe that they had captured you too and were planning to use you as leverage against him, to force him to do what they wanted. He knows now that they don't have you and he's been trying to getting word out about the Empire's plans. He tried to escape once early on, but it was futile.”

“Why didn't you free him?”

“You think I didn't try? Jyn, it's not that easy. Where do you think I lost my leg? Had I retrieved him, it would have been a small sacrifice. I promised your mother once, years ago when I first helped them run, that I would protect the two of you.” He reached for her cheek, wiping gently at the tears that had started falling. “It's been my one regret.”

She drew in a shaky breath. “I hate him.”

“No you don't. Not completely. Remember, you can't lie to Saw Gerrera.”

Sniffing, she turned away as a knock came at the door.

“Quickly, Jyn. Do you want my help in escaping the Rebels? I can do that for you.”

“No,” she whispered. “I'll stay for now. These—this group hasn't given me a reason to mistrust them yet. They've accepted me for myself. Not many have ever done that.”

Sighing, Saw stood up slowly, nodding. “Come then. Let's see what the Imperial has brought.”

“Bodhi. His name is Bodhi.”

Saw paused for a moment. “This would be easier if you don't tell me details,” he warned. He walked out into the main room to find one of his men holding out the drive.

“It's encrypted, sir, but it does appear to be from Galen.”

Saw gestured for him to hand it over. He crossed to a computer and inserted the drive. His fingers were a blur on the keyboard as he typed, pausing only once to glance at Jyn as he entered a code. The screen filled with data. He scrolled through, pausing at a video file. “I think this one is for you.”

Frowning, Jyn approached, Cassian close on her heels. Saw hit play and sat back. On the screen, Galen's face filled the view, backing away quickly as he realized it was recording.

“Jyn, my love, I pray that this message finds you safe and in Saw's care. Your mother trusted him implicitly, as do I, now that I see just how bad the men surrounding us were. I'm sorry. I tried to keep you sheltered and away from it once I knew.” He paused and licked his lip. His hair had grown long and unkempt in the passing years. Jyn could see that he hadn't shaved in a while; there were circles under his eyes as well as bruises in his cheek. “Clearly, I've made far too many mistakes in my life. I wish I could undo so much, but I can't.

“Stardust,” his voice broke for a moment, causing Jyn to sob, “you are the only good thing in my life left yet, and I pray they never catch you. They would not be kind to you and that I could not stand. I can survive anything as long as I know you are free and safe. They have forced me to continue the research I started years ago, only they wish to use it to make weapons that can wipe out entire cities in one go. I can't let this happen, but I don't know how much longer I can continue to hinder the work from in here. I've included what information I can here on this drive. I need you or Saw to get them to the Alliance. They can stop this, if they truly wish to. With this information, it can prove you are innocent of my crimes. You can finally have the life you deserve.

“I've entrusted everything in the hands of a young man. He reminds me of you, my daughter. If you are seeing this, please, I ask that you protect him. He does not yet have someone like Saw to keep him safe. My stardust. Please forgive me. I did what I thought would be best. Losing Lyra caused a part of me to die. Believing that you are safe is all that has kept me going. It is too much for me to ask for your forgiveness, but how I long to hug you one more time. Your mother believed in the force and so must I. May the force protect you and guide you. Be brave, my stardust. Stand tall. You are capable of far greater things than I could have ever imagined. Help stop this madness. Help save the innocent. Be the person I never could. Jyn. My brave girl. I love you.”

The message cut off, leaving the room in silence. Jyn was crying softly, hand clutching the crystal around her neck. Cassian gently touched her shoulder, eyes downcast.

Saw sighed and began reading the other files. “What he said was true,” he muttered. “There are quite a few plans here, though not the recent ones. They must have been on to him when he made this.”

“The Alliance will be needing those plans,” Cassian said, voice cracking.

“And why should I share them with you?” Saw asked, copying the files onto a disk.

“We're fighting the same fight,” Cassian said, incredulous. “Why would you deny us they right to this information?”

“And what will I get in exchange? A bullet through my head? A prison sentence? A new leg?” Saw snorted as he disconnected the drive. “I will share this with you, but only because I don't think it will help you. You need Galen for that. I wish you luck.”

“So you won't help us?” Cassian asked, voice turning cold.

“No. I will not join your group. But I will not stop you.”

He was interrupted by one of his men running in. “Saw! The Imperials are making a move on the city again. What are we planning to do?”

“We fight.” He turned back to Jyn and Cassian. “You'd best be on your way if you do not wish to be caught in the cross fire. I'll have Luccia drop you off. It'd be best if you leave Jedha, though, unless you wish to greet death soon.” He tossed the drive at Cassian and turned away. “Ready the troops and call for an evacuation. We move out tonight. Go!”

“Come on,” Cassian muttered to Jyn, grabbing her shoulder. “We should get back to the ship.”

She nodded and followed him, glancing back at Saw once before closing off her heart again. Bodhi started to reach for her, hesitating as he did. She smiled softly at him as they were led out by a boy no older than fifteen. He led them to a truck, following Cassian's directions back to where Kay waited with the ship. They were quick to take off and began a roundabout trip home. The flight was a silent one, each caught up in their own thoughts. Jyn was studying the crystal her mother had handed her all those years before, turning it gently so it caught the reflected light of the ships sensors.

“Chirrut,” she called softly to the man sitting opposite her. “Is it true what Baze said? That my mother's necklace came from Jedha?”

“It did,” Chirrut said, nodding. “It came from the Temple of the Whills, to be exact.”

“How can you tell?”

“Because I made it. I carved that piece of kyber when I was fifteen. I gave it to your mother before she had you as a way to say thank you.”

“For what?” she asked, curiosity high.

“For saving me.”

~~~

Baze had refused to leave Chirrut's side, fighting to stay with him until he passed out from his own injuries. He woke in a medical transport, en route to a safe zone, the steady drone of the plane's engines nearly overwhelming his senses. He tried to get up, struggling in panic as he realized he was strapped down.

“Easy,” he heard. He frantically looked around until he noticed a medic bending over a still figure next to him. “Don't tear open your stitches. We've only just got the bleeding stopped.”

“Chirrut...” he croaked, voice barely working.

“He's alive.” The medic shifted away to show Chirrut unconscious, face mostly covered in bandages, tube inserted in his throat. “He was burned pretty bad, but he should be okay. They patched him up as best they could, though he's facing more surgeries once we land. His eyes are the biggest worry. As soon as we reach Naboo he'll be evaluated again.”

Baze moaned, wishing he could reach him.

“I'll make sure they let you stay with him,” the medic said, eyes sad. “It'll help him recover if he wakes up. For now, though, try and rest. You need to heal, too, especially if you want to help him.”

Baze let his head fall back against the pillow, tears running down his face. He closed his eyes, and for the first time since the ending of the Whills, he prayed. “The force is with me and I am one with the force. Please. If you've ever existed, don't do this to him. Don't hurt him more. The force is with me and I am one with the force. Please let him be okay. Please.”

Chapter Text

Bodhi remembered very little of the return flight, other than Cassian allowing him to man the controls most of the way. Cassian had pulled Kay away after they were safely in the air and explained what had happened. He was currently running through the data on the drive, caught up in his own thirst for knowledge. Bodhi knew that he was not the only one that was happy to return to ground in the relative safety of the Republic. Even the prospect of debriefing couldn't take from that joy. Jyn had been quiet after her talk with Chirrut, who had promised to share the entire story later. For once, she hadn't argued.

After being released, Cassian stated that it would be in their best interest to return home and sleep. Everyone agreed, and before Bodhi could process it they were home. Baze hugged him tightly before trudging toward his bedroom, Chirrut close on his heels. Bodhi eyed the couch before closing the door and following Jyn upstairs. She had smiled and hugged him tight, before allowing Cassian to steer them both into his and Kay's apartment. They settled side by side on the couch and were out within moments.

Downstairs, Baze pulled Chirrut close and kissed his cheek. Chirrut snuggled in closer, tucking his head under Baze's chin with a sigh, hand gently petting down his side. “I love you Baze.”

“Love you too.”

~~~

The summer sun was high in the sky, even as the temperatures in Jedha stayed cool. Baze, at fourteen, found himself awkward as he move through the exercises their master was putting them through. Beside him, Chirrut was as graceful as ever. Both of them were hitting their growth spurts, though while Chirrut was growing tall and thin, Baze was gaining both height and weight rapidly. He had lost much of his balance and was becoming clumsier by the day. Chirrut would often tease him about it. Baze would roll his eyes; Chirrut's words didn't hurt him. His best friend never meant them to, merely using them as a way to goad Baze into trying again when he felt like giving up.

Both were well on their ways to becoming full fledged guardians. Baze's family was against it. His father had wanted him to follow in his footsteps and work in his shipping company. Baze had fought it, saying that he felt a calling within the temple. His father hadn't spoken to him for more than a week after the announcement, not even saying anything when Baze left the house to spend the summer living and training at the temple. Chirrut had laughed, saying that Baze would make a rather odd monk, considering his size. Baze knew that deep down, Chirrut was pleased that he had stayed. Baze's Baba had died the year before and left Chirrut without a sponsor. Fearing that his dreams were over, Chirrut had been thrilled when a new leader of the temple had arrived, a progressive woman originally from Coruscant that had argued against the need for sponsors. “If one has the will, let them train. The calling is strong. Encourage it. Nurture it. These children, if not to be trained, should be found homes. Charity was once a founding principle, was it not?”

Baze stumbled through the final move set, sweating slightly as they halted and bowed to the master. Chirrut grabbed his hand as they were released for lunch, pulling him toward the mess hall.

“Come on. Merra made dumplings this morning. If we hurry, we can get the good ones.”

Baze snorted as they ran through the halls, ignoring the shouts of the guardians as they went. Chirrut, for all that he was becoming a star pupil, was still despised by a handful, even as the rest were starting to see his potential.

They skidded to a stop near the front of the line that was forming and quickly loaded plates with as much food as they could carry. Chirrut reached out as they neared the end of the table and snagged a pot of coconut pudding, earning him a smack on the head from head chef Ten. Laughing, he raced from the hall, followed at a much slower rate by Baze, struggling beneath the weight of his plate and flasks of water and tea. He wandered toward the tree in the inner courtyard that had unofficially become their meeting ground, sighing as he saw Chirrut already stuffing his face.

“You could have waited.”

“I saved you dessert.”

“You took the entire pot. That's enough for eight people Chirrut.”

“There were like twenty more in the back, its fine. Besides, master Ten knows that if he puts it out I'll take it. He does it on purpose.”

Baze rolled his eyes and sat down, trying and failing to savor his food. Both boys were growing quickly and found themselves hungry more often than not. Baze had to admit, that for all they were probably going to be punished later, stealing the entire pot had been a great idea.

Until they fell asleep during meditation practice.

“Seeing as how discipline and spiritual growth are lost on you two,” mistress Kessa said, pacing before their lowered forms as the rest of the class giggled nervously around them, “and since you two are obviously ahead on sleep, I feel that it would be beneficial to your training to have you two clean the entire great hall.”

“This is all your fault,” Baze muttered late that night as he scrubbed at the floor. His neck and knees were hurting; they had spent two hours dusting the high ceiling before scrubbing the polished wood of the floor.

“Still worth it,” Chirrut said, robes stained from the wax he was sealing the floor with. “At least this time I didn't have to clean the entire thing myself.”

Snorting, Baze threw his rag at him, making Chirrut laugh.

They finished around midnight, finally being released to return to the dorm they shared with the other boys in training. They were quiet as they set out their mats, claiming their normal corner near the window in the back. By now the other boys had stopped fighting them for it. Chirrut fell asleep quickly, used to the sounds of others around him. Baze was slower to drift off; his house had usually been quiet at night, only the occasional cry from one of his younger sisters to disturb him, sometimes the TV in the living room playing the news creating a gentle drone in the background. He found himself home sick, not for the first time that summer. The first two weeks had been hard; only Chirrut's relentless cheerfulness had kept him from quitting and returning home. He found himself thinking of his mother's cooking and her gentle smile, grimacing as he felt tears on his cheek.

Beside him, he heard Chirrut take a deep breath, turning over to face Baze. “Can't sleep?”

Baze sniffed and shook his head. Chirrut hummed softly and rolled toward him, settling his head against his chest. Baze froze for a moment. “What are you doing?”

“Hugging you. Go to sleep,” Chirrut mumbled, arms wrapping around his shoulders as he drifted off again.

Baze tried to ignore the feeling of his breaths against his shoulder, but quickly found himself relaxing. He was asleep before he realized it, head tilting to rest against Chirrut's. He woke far too early to the feeling of cloth hitting him in the face. Groaning, he pushed it aside, blinking up at Chirrut standing over him fully dressed.

“Get up. We're supposed to start training with staffs today.”

Sighing, he sat up and took the bun that Chirrut handed him. “Leftovers from yesterday?”

“Try it.”

He bit into it and looked up, startled. “This is...”

“I went out this morning and got it from that shop you like. I'm sorry about yesterday.”

Baze smiled and shook his head. “I expect to get in trouble daily, what with you as my friend.”

Chirrut laughed and tightened his sash. “Hurry up. I want to get a good spot.”

They gathered in the courtyard along with the other trainees. There were two masters teaching them to fight. Master Jin was broad shouldered and stoic while mistress Arya was full of smiles and laughter. Chirrut adored them both and leaned forward in anticipation as the lesson began. He had pulled Baze over to a group that consisted of a mix of girls and boys. Baze found himself blushing as Kayla smiled at him. She was the best trainee currently in the girls group and had taken to smiling at him whenever they met. It made him nervous. Chirrut liked to tease him about it, much to his dismay.

“Let's begin. Pair off in groups of four. Every stop you'll switch partners.” Jin looked over the groups as he passed out the training staffs. “Spread out please, give yourselves plenty of room.”

Kayla smiled at him and Chirrut. “Want to fight with Tori and me?”

“More like beat you,” Chirrut said, face bright.

“I hate this part,” Tori muttered, reluctantly standing up. “I always lose.”

“Especially to me,” Chirrut said.

“Always so humble, Mister Imwe,” Jin said as he reached them. “For that, you four can start with form nine.”

Chirrut grinned and dropped into position. Tori quickly found herself on the ground. Baze stumbled through his moves with Kayla, managing to hold his own until the last strike, when he found himself knocked down. Giggling, Kayla helped him up before turning to face Chirrut. Their fight took longer, both evenly matched. They ended with a draw and a nod from Jin before he moved on, calling out the next set.

They were given a break at midday. The chefs brought food out to them and Baze and his group settled in the corner, sharing gossip that circulated through the temple.

“I heard that Jin and Arya are dating,” Kayla said, nodding wisely.

“It's true,” Chirrut said. “I saw them last week behind the bathhouse. They're not very subtle.”

“It's gross,” Tori said, eyes rolling.

“Just because you're not interested in anyone doesn't mean everyone isn't,” Chirrut said, sticking out his tongue.

“I heard that Darla likes you, Chirrut. She'd probably say yes if you asked her out,” Kayla said, eyes shrewd.

Tori snorted as Chirrut rolled his eyes. “That'll never happen. Chirrut doesn't like girls.”

“It's true. She's lacking certain parts that are essential to a relationship. Now Phil on the other hand is date worthy.”

Kayla studied him for a moment before turning to Baze. “How am I just finding out about this? Did you know?”

“Of course. We're friends. We share everything.”

“Unbelievable. How did I never hear about this?”

“Its cause you only listen to gossip, not to fact,” Tori said.

“Well, in that case,” she said, looking at the group of boys laughing across the courtyard, “want me to set you two up?”

“I might be interested...”

* * *

It was late fall and Baze was sixteen. He was walking home from school, tired after a long day when he caught sight of a scuffle in front of the tea house near the temple. Frowning, he sped up, recognizing Chirrut's form as he got closer.

“You fucking asshole! I know you've been cheating on me!” Chirrut was being held by the back of his collar by the larger boy; he was squirming, trying to break free as the boy continued to yell at him. “You fucking piece of trash!”

Chirrut finally broke his hold as his jacket tore. He stepped back, eyes blazing. “I cheated? You were the cheater! I caught you! You think I wouldn't find out? I saw you! How could you?”

“Don't twist things around. I know you've been sleeping with that 'friend' of yours. We're done! Get out of my sight! I should have listened to the rumors.” He pushed Chirrut back, turning and stalking down the street. Chirrut huffed, swearing as he realized his jacket was torn beyond fixing. He slumped to the ground, back to the wall as Baze hurried up.

“Chirrut, where were you today? Are you okay?” Chirrut glanced up and Baze blanched. “I'll kill him,” he said, noting the bruise on Chirrut's face.

Scoffing, Chirrut pushed himself to his feet. “Don't bother. He's going to be in a lot of trouble tonight.”

“What do you mean?”

“Apparently I was the 'other woman'. I found out today. So I sent pics of us together to his girlfriend. Apparently she's rich and they were planning to get married after they finished school. Worth it.”

Baze frowned at him.

“Don't judge me,” Chirrut spat out, pushing him.

“I'm not. But you're my friend and I don't like seeing you get hurt. Come on, we're going to my house. You missed the project we were assigned at school today.” He started walking down the street, trusting that Chirrut would follow him. He wasn't disappointed.

At home, he pushed Chirrut toward the bathroom before rummaging in his closet. By the time Chirrut had returned, he had found an old jacket he had outgrown that would withstand the cold winds and freezing rains that came with Jedha's winters.

“Here. Yours isn't salvageable.”

“Why are you helping me?”

“I told you, you're my friend. You'd do the same for me.”

Chirrut sighed and flopped down on Baze's bed. He rolled until he could tuck his face into Baze's hip. “Why are all my boyfriends assholes?”

“I thought you liked asses and assholes?”

Despite himself, Chirrut snorted and smacked Baze's leg. “I'm serious!”

“It's cause you don't think you deserve better. I've told you this before.”

“Maybe I don't.”

“Then you're an idiot.”

Chirrut hummed and hugged his leg. “When is Kayla coming over? I'll leave.”

Baze hesitated. “She's not.”

Chirrut pulled away and looked up.

Sighing, Baze stared at the floor. “She dumped me this morning.”

“I'm sorry.”

Baze shrugged. “It was for the best.”

Chirrut sat up and hugged him. “If it helps, I can give you a blow job to make you feel better.”

Snorting, Baze pushed him away. “Shut up, you fool.”

“Come on, it'd be great. You'd finally get me to shut up, and besides, I'm really good with my mouth,” he said, eyebrows wiggling suggestively.

Baze fell back, laughing. “I highly doubt even that would make you shut up for long.”

“One way to find out.”

Baze rolled his eyes. “Don't skip school tomorrow, okay?”

“I won't.”

“Good. So, is it true we're practicing with Jedi's this weekend at the temple?”

* * *

“Tori, my love, I have a question for you.”

Tori turned slowly, balefully staring at Chirrut from beneath her shaggy black hair. “I'm not allowed to speak to you.”

Chirrut rolled his eyes as she tucked her arms inside her robes. “You don't know what I'm going to ask.”

“Yes I do. You're going to ask why Kayla and Baze broke up because I'm sure Baze won't tell you.”

“So you do know! Ha!”

Frowning, Tori turned and started off down the hall, Chirrut close on her heels. “Go away,” she said, heading for the library.

“Tori!” he whined, tugging on her robes. “Just tell me! What happened?”

She stopped suddenly, causing him to dart around her to keep from knocking her over. “Ask Kayla.”

“She doesn't talk to me anymore. Not since she started training with Master Daar.”

Tori sighed and dropped her head. “Chirrut. Do you really want to know?”

“Yes.”

“You might not like the answer.”

“When have I ever liked any answer?”

Tori bit her lip, glancing around. “She felt that Baze spent more time with you than with her. I told her she was being stupid, but she got her feelings hurt. She told Baze that she thinks he likes you more than her and she wouldn't put up with it anymore. She wanted him to choose between her and you. Obviously, we know who he chose.”

Chirrut was staring at her, eyes wide.

“I told you you wouldn't like it. Besides, I think she was wrong. And I don't think she should have made him choose.”

“What would you know?” Chirrut asked, trying to make a joke. “You've still never dated anyone.”

“Yeah, but even I know you don't ask a question like that during sex. She didn't like it that he walked out on her.” Tori reached up and patted his arm. “She'll get over it. Just don't spar with her for a bit. She's pretty vindictive.”

Chirrut hugged her and walked off.

“I'm really sorry!” she yelled.

Baze found Chirrut hours later sitting in his room in the upper floor of the dorms, carving something.

“Where were you?”

“What do you mean?”

“At training today. Where were you?”

“Master Tucker found out I skipped school and had me spend a hour in silent meditation earlier. Sorry. I figured you could stand to get your ass kicked by someone else today.”

Baze huffed and sat down on the rug next to him.

“Did Kayla really ask if you liked me?”

“Who told you that?”

“Answer the question.”

Baze sighed and closed his eyes. “Tori told you.”

“Did she?”

“Yes.”

“What did you say?”

“That, despite you being an major idiot, you were my best friend and nothing would change that. And if she didn't like that, then I'd have to think things over. And then I found out that Marco had asked her out last month and she was interested.”

“Is it true, though?” Chirrut asked, glancing up before darting his eyes away. “That she asked you while having sex?”

Baze blushed and picked up one of the stones sitting on the ground. “It wasn't during. It was at the beginning. And yes, I walked out.”

Chirrut snorted and kicked at his leg. “And you say I'm an idiot. What sixteen year old turns down sex with someone that looks like Kayla?”

“Maybe I wasn't into it anymore.”

Chirrut rolled his eyes. “Okay, old man. I'm sure there are meds for that, you know.”

Baze grabbed the pillow off his bed and smacked him with it. “You!”

Laughing, Chirrut reached under his bed and pulled out a box. He rummaged around inside until he found a carved crystal wrapped in a leather cord. “Here. Take it.”

“Is this kyber? Who gave you kyber?”

“Master Brindley. He wanted to see if I could do it.”

“Looks like you failed,” Baze said, noticing how the crystal had broken in half.

Chirrut rolled his eyes and pulled out another. “That was my first attempt. I got it on the second try. You can have that one. It's broken, like you.”

Baze pushed him over, tucking the cord into his pocket. He chose to ignore that mark carved into it, the one symbolizing belief in one. It was a symbol usually reserved for bonded couples. “Why not sell it in the market stalls like you do with the others?”

Chirrut didn't answer. Baze never asked again.

* * *

Baze was late for his lesson at the temple. He was running down the road, trying not to slip on the ice when he heard a sound from along the back wall. Slowing down, he glanced down the alley, noticing a couple being more than a little amorous. He rolled his eyes as he realized he recognized the figure on his knees, hands braced on the other man's thighs. He counted to ten before yelling at the top of his lungs, “Hey! Chirrut! Hurry up! You're going to be late!”

The man leaning against the wall yelped and shoved Chirrut back, who sprawled coughing on the ground. The man frantically pulled up his pants and took off in the other direction, leaving Chirrut to lay there scowling at the gray skies. Baze shook his head and headed for the gates, rushing toward the dorms. He was pulling on the robes that he kept stored in Chirrut's closet when the angry seventeen year old stormed in.

“You are the biggest jerk I've ever met!” he rasped, throwing his coat on the bed. Baze snorted as he adjusted his cloths. “Seriously. It's taken me months to get him to agree to go out with me and you go and ruin everything. Like, do you have any idea how big his dick was? It's huge! I hate you sometimes.”

“A blow job in a filthy alley is not the same as a date,” Baze scoffed. “Did he ever take you out to dinner? A movie?”

Chirrut glared at him, pointing a finger in his face. “Not the point. I don't interrupt your dates with Melanie. Or Todd. You need to stay out of mine.”

“Mel and I broke up last month.”

Chirrut stopped and stared at him. “Why didn't you tell me?”

“We only went out a few times. It didn't matter. And Todd was never going to be a thing.” Baze wouldn't meet his eyes as he folded his cloths. “Now hurry up. We're already late.”

“I'll help you find someone else. Who are you interested in?”

“Drop it, Chirrut. It's fine.”

“No, I'm serious. Who—” His words were cut off as Baze pulled him forward, roughly kissing him on the lips. He broke off with a scowl.

“What's that horrible taste?”

“I haven't had time to wash my mouth out, what did you expect?” Chirrut touched his lips softly. “Did you mean that?”

Baze nodded his head. “I did.”

“Good!” Chirrut threw himself forward, kissing Baze as hard as he could. He only broke free in order to catch his breath. “Took you long enough.”

Baze grabbed his shoulder, blushing. “Go wash up. We have lessons to get to.”

“Or we could blow them off and I could blow you.”

“Get dressed Chirrut.”

“Baze, come on! You interrupted things before they could get good!” Chirrut whined.

“Do you honestly think he was going to return the favor?”

“I don't know, probably not, but still!”

“My parents aren't going to be home tonight,” Baze said, face red. Chirrut froze. “My youngest sisters are staying at friend's houses and Shana won't care. You can stay all night, if you think you can sneak out of here, and no one will say anything.”

“Fine,” he groaned, sagging in his arms. “I'll get dressed and go to lessons.”

Baze laughed and kissed his hair.

“Have you ever thought of growing out your hair?” Chirrut asked as he hastily stripped out of his cloths. “You'd be very handsome.”

“Get dressed Chirrut!”

~~~

Bodhi cautiously opened the apartment door, sighing in relief as Chirrut waved from the couch.

“It's okay, Bodhi. We're decent.”

“I can leave if you want. I just wanted to get my book.”

Baze tightened his hold on Chirrut and went back to cycling through channels. “You're welcome to stay,” he rumbled.

Bodhi smiled and pointed toward the door. “I'm kind of worried about leaving Jyn alone right now. She seems okay, but...”

“Invite her in. Invite everyone,” Chirrut said, ignoring Baze as he huffed. “We can watch a movie together. Right, Baze?”

Baze sighed and stood up. “I'll start making popcorn.”

“Bodhi,” Chirrut said, stopping him before he could leave again. “I'm glad you are looking out for Jyn and the rest. You are a good person.”

Ducking his head, Bodhi left the room.

“Are they fucking?” Kay asked as he walked back into Cassian's.

“No, they aren't,” Bodhi said, laughing. “They invited everyone down for a movie.”

“Pass,” Kay said, turning back to his laptop.

“Kay, don't be rude,” Cassian chided.

“I want to finish processing this data.”

“And you think you can solve the problem before the techs at the base can?” Jyn asked from her place on the floor, feet propped up on the coffee table.

“I found you first, didn't I?”

“Dumb luck,” she replied.

“Now you listen to me!”

“No one is listening to anyone!” Cassian said, eyes rolling toward the ceiling. “Kay, turn off the computer. A few hours won't hurt. Jyn, quit picking fights with him. Both of you get up and get downstairs.”

Jyn flipped him off as she rolled to her feet. Kay scowled, but followed orders. Cassian shook his head at Bodhi. “I swear they are worse than children.”

Bodhi laughed as he followed him down the stairs. “They remind me of my sisters.”

Cassian sighed. “My friend, they remind me of my first team. There's a reason I switched to intelligence. I'd probably have killed them when I was younger.”

“We're practically the same age,” Bodhi said.

“Yes, but when you've dealt with as much shit as I have you feel way older than you are.”

They entered Baze and Chirrut's apartment to find Jyn and Kay arguing about who would get to sit where. Cassian groaned and rubbed his face, muttering curses under his breath. Baze solved the problem by pushing Kay into one chair and Jyn into the other, instantly regretting it as the started pulling faces at each other. Chirrut patted the couch next to him, gesturing for Bodhi to sit down. Cassian took one of the bowls from Baze and settling on the floor between Kay and Bodhi.

“So I'm thinking we should watch something calming,” Chirrut said as Baze settled in, pulling him against his chest. “No violence, no death, happy endings, etc.”

“That eliminates most movies then,” Jyn said.

“We could watch something animated,” Bodhi suggested.

Baze brought up the menu for a streaming service, flipping through offerings.

“I like that one,” Kay said.

“No,” Cassian countered. “The parents die in that one.”

“That one used to be good,” Jyn said, perking up as Baze paused on one of her favorites.

“But there's children in peril in that one,” Bodhi said, shaking his head.

“No matter what we pick, something bad is going to happen,” Baze warned.

“What about this one?” Bodhi asked, pointing at the screen. Cassian's eyes lit up.

“I forgot about this one! I used to think it was hilarious.”

“We have a winner. Baze, if you will?” Chirrut said, snuggling in closer.

By the half way mark, even Kay and Jyn were laughing along with the insane antics on the screen. Baze would periodically mumble descriptions in Chirrut's ear, though he was content to just sit back and listen to the happiness around him. Near the end, Bodhi sat back with a sigh.

“This is nice,” he said, gesturing to the room. “It's nice to have friends finally.”

The room fell silent for a moment at his words before Chirrut said “no. This is what it's like to have a family.”

There was no better way to put it.

* * *

Baze decided it would be best to order take out rather than cook. He called in the order, accepting some cash from Cassian as Jyn, Kay, and Bodhi started playing a video game. Chirrut was in the kitchen, starting a pot of tea.

“Chirrut,” Cassian asked. “What is your take on Saw?”

“He is a man with strong ideals, but misguided ones. He wants to protect the world from pure evil, but he's willing to let innocents get trampled to do it. We knew him once, as I believe you did too.” He waited for Cassian's confirmation before continuing. “He is a man that has lost his fight but has yet to realize it. He will not help us.”

“That's what I figured,” Cassian said, sighing. “So, finding Galen might be our only hope.”

“Draven still wants him dead?” Baze asked.

“He does. Jyn will kill me if I follow through.”

“If she doesn't kill him herself.”

“I don't think she will,” Chirrut said, leaning against the counter. “She resents him, but he's her only family. I think in the end she'll do the right thing.”

Cassian didn't reply. He merely shook his head and went to answer the door. Baze sighed and grabbed the plates. “This is not going to end well.”

“War never does.”

Cassian was quick to hand out the cartons, keeping special tabs on Chirrut's extra spicy curry. Baze started a cartoon series about a group of superheroes designed for kids, enjoying the ease at which they they all fell into conversation. He knew that peace would never last. It never did. Sure enough, it ended around the time they were finishing eating.

Jyn pulled out her necklace and held it out to Chirrut. “You never finished explaining this. You said you carved it.”

“I did. It was my first time working with kyber.”

“And this fool broke it,” Baze said, smirking.

“All is as the force wills it,” Chirrut said, airily, before laughing. “But he's right. It broke into two pieces.”

“So where's the other half?”

“Baze has it. I gave it to him, long ago now. It's to remind him that I'll always be there for him.”
Chirrut smiled and patted Baze's knee. “It has a symbol carved into it, the one I gave him. It means 'faith in one', a belief in the one that will never leave you or forget you. The one you carry, Jyn, has a symbol for 'protection', a way to remember who will always watch over you and guard your back. I was attempting to carve a ward, something I could sell in the marketplace in order to benefit the temple, but when it broke, I felt it wanted to symbolize a paired bond. I carved the marks into it, put it out for sale and watched as no one bought it. I was debating what to do with them when the opportunity to give it to Baze came along.”

“Because he was the love of your life?” Bodhi asked, hanging on to Chirrut's every word.

“Not at the time, though if you believe in the force, that outcome was inevitable. No. Those carvings can have many meanings. Baze was my one friend for so long. He protected me and helped me when no one else would. And I believed in him when no one in his family did. We were what kept each other going for so long that it just felt right.” Chirrut pointed at Jyn. “Your mother helped me at a time when I had no one. Baze wasn't there, though not because he didn't want to be. She helped me find my feet and keep moving. She was so strong and caring, but she scared the shit out of me,” Chirrut said, laughing. “She took on a group of thieves trying to rob the corner market and chased them three blocks. I think they were more scared of her than the police. That one, I had it. I carried it everywhere. It reminded me of the temple, of my first family, of home. We couldn't go back to Jedha, there was nothing to return to. It was just a small piece of it, but it kept me connected to Baze. Except, I came to realize that it was holding me back. I had just lost my sight, and more than anything, I wanted to return to what I remembered. But we can't go back. We never can. Your mother needed something to believe in. Galen had just been offered his position within the Empire as a scientist. Lyra wasn't happy, but she never would have told him no. She was alone, in a place they had never been before, and she believed in the force. No one would admit to it at the time. She used to ask me to tell her about the temple, about training to be a guardian. She had visited once, before she met Galen. She was fascinated by the lore. So I gave it to her. She needed it more than I did.”

Jyn held it up to the light. “It did protect her, until the end. She gave it to me, before she died. If she had kept it—”

“It wouldn't have made a difference. I know it's not what you wanted to hear, but it's the truth. Nothing can stop what is to come. But we can influence it. She gave it to you, Jyn, because she needed to know that you were going to be safe. Don't ever second guess her love for you.”

Jyn tucked it back inside her shirt, eyes turned away.

“Your not the only one who's lost loved one to this war,” Cassian said.

“And what would you know of it?” Jyn growled, angry. “My mother was murdered and my father did nothing to prevent it. What would you know of my pain?”

“What do I know of pain?” Cassian said, voice going quiet. “My parents lived in the middle of a war zone. They were killed along with my siblings and cousins in the crossfire by the very people sent to keep us safe. I've been on my own since I was six years old. I never had anyone to take me in. I was shuffled from one refugee camp to another. I was found by rebels and used to infiltrate enemy camps. I spent years never knowing who I was supposed to be. This,” he said, voice rising, “this was the first home I've ever know! I lost everything, even my name! So you want to talk about pain? Just remember then that some have it just as bad.” He stood up and pointed at her. “Grow up, princess. You're not that special.”

Jyn was frozen in her chair as Cassian stormed out of the room. During his speech, Bodhi had shrunk against Chirrut, legs pulled up tight against his chest.

“I didn't—I never meant—I'm sorry,” Jyn mumbled.

Chirrut sighed. “We know. I'm sure the captain knows it too. Just give him time to cool down. None of this has been easy on any of us. Too many memories.”

Jyn drew a breath and stood up. “Thank you for the food, but I think I should be going.”

“Don't leave the property,” Baze warned. “They will be watching for you still.”

Mouth tight, she nodded her head and stormed out.

Kay cleared his throat and stood up. “I should get back to my research, I just—good night.”

Chirrut nodded as he walked out, pulling Bodhi into a tight hug. “It'll be okay.”

“Everyone was so happy before,” Bodhi said, voice tight.

“And they will again. This is what families do. They fight. But they always make up. I promise.”

Baze stood up and gathered the plates. “If no one runs tonight.”

Chirrut pulled Bodhi tighter against him. “We won't let them.”

Chapter Text

~~~

Baze barely even noticed that the chair he sat in was padded; he had spent so long perched on the edge of a hard plastic bench waiting for Chirrut to be out of surgery that his legs had long gone numb. At first the doctors were reluctant to let him wait, worried about his injuries. He had fought them, even threatening them at one point until they had relented.

He watched the slow rise and fall of Chirrut's chest, the steady drip of the IV, the waving green line of the heart monitor. It had been days since they had arrived in Naboo, hours since they had stopped medically sedating him. Chirrut could wake at any moment. Or he might never wake, whispered a little voice in his head. Growling, Baze covered his face with his hands and tried to ignore it. He tried not to think about a life without Chirrut in it.

He gently lifted one of his wrapped hands, holding it loosely as he repeated Chirrut's favorite prayer in his head. At first, as the minutes wore on, he thought that he had imagined the tightening of fingers minutely around his. He kept up the prayer, hoping to find the sense of peace that it once would have brought. He glanced up suddenly, realizing for the first time that he was feeling pressure on his hand; his pulse sped up as he watched Chirrut's jaw flex around the breathing tube that had been reinserted after surgery number two. The nurse stationed in the corner of the room called quickly for a doctor as Baze stood up, holding tight to Chirrut's hand as he began to move his head, monitors beeping in alarm.

“Chirrut. Chirrut, it's okay. Stay still, I'm here.”

His head turned partially toward him, hand tightening in panic as he tried to talk and started choking.

“No. Don't talk. You have a tube in your throat. You're safe, we both are. Just please relax. It's okay.”

Slowly, the alarms faded into silence as the team of medics entered the room.

“Mister Imwe, I'm Doctor Pavel. Please try to relax. We're going to do a quick exam.”

Chirrut sagged back against the bed, hand trembling where Baze held it firmly in his own.

“I must say, your recovery has been quite remarkable, but you still have a long road ahead of you,” Dr. Pavel said, looking over the readouts. “We're going to try and remove the breathing tube, which I'm sure will make you happy.” She laughed at Chirrut's slight nod. “Mister Malbus, I'm not sure if you'd like to step out while we do it, it's not typically a pleasant sight.”

“I'm staying,” Baze said, ignoring as Chirrut's hand clutched at his at the thought of him leaving.

“No one will make you leave. I just wanted to offer.”

Baze found himself closing his eyes as they began, unable to watch further injustices being inflicted on his husband. He kissed Chirrut's knuckles as he heard him whimper near the end.

“Please don't try to talk, Mister Imwe,” the doctor said. “You're throat will be very sore for a while. It's best to rest it.”

“Not...the first...time...” Chirrut started to say, voice rasping.

Baze sighed. “Chirrut, shut up and listen to the doctor for once.” He smiled as he say a ghost of his typical grin float across his face.

“I can see you're going to be a handful. Just remember, we can always sedate you again if needed,” the doctor warned. She lightly tapped the back of his hand. “I will if you start to pick at those bandages on your face. We'll try and remove them once you've healed a bit more. Until then, please try and rest. I'll leave you two to talk.”

Chirrut waited until he heard the door close to pull at Baze's hand. “How bad?” he whispered.

Baze kissed his forehead as he thought about how to answer. He knew Chirrut would want the truth, but it was painful for him to think about. “Dislocated hip, fractured pelvis. You were thrown pretty far in the explosion. Cracked ribs. Burns on your arms and legs; those they think will heal fairly quickly and not scar. Naboo has some new experimental treatment for burns that seems to work well. Concussion. Fractured right wrist.” Here was where he hesitated, hand brushing across Chirrut's cheek. “They're—they're not sure about your eyes. They've never experienced something like this before. Whatever that chemical was, it left no physical damage, but...”

“Do they think I'll be able to see?”

“They don't know.”

Chirrut sighed. “And you?”

“I'm fine.”

“Baze,” he rasped, “I know when you are lying. What happened?”

“Shot three times, injured my shoulder, burn on my leg, some stitches. Mostly minor wounds.”

“Mostly minor,” Chirrut tried to chuckle, coughing as his throat seized up. “Getting shot is minor?”

“They were clean shots, straight through, little damage. At least I wasn't stupid enough to run out into the line of fire.”

Chirrut smiled. “I'd do it again to keep you safe.”

Baze carefully lowered himself back into his chair. “Never do that again.”

Chirrut hummed noncommittally. He rubbed his thumb across Baze's hand. “Pray with me?”

Baze was silent before leaning his head on Chirrut's hip. “I am one with the force and the force is with me,” he started, voice soft.

* * *

“Are you ready?” Doctor Pavel asked, hands touching the bandages on his face.

Chirrut nodded, mouth set in a determined line. Baze was leaning in a corner of the room, arms crossed over his chest as the nurses began carefully cutting away at the wraps. They had waited until the fractures had set enough for Chirrut to sit up, before turning toward the bandages on his face. They had removed the ones on his arms and hands two days before, leaving behind new shiny skin. Chirrut had been working on regaining full control over the muscles in his hands, making swift progress even as the nurses had advised him to rest.

“Keep your eyes closed as we take off the covers. We're going to lower the lights, but just in case...”

Chirrut nodded again, hands clenched in the sheets covering his lap.

“Okay, open them slowly.”

Baze managed to keep his reaction silent. Where once Chirrut's eyes had been a rich, deep brown, full of life and laughter, now he was facing a startling blue devoid of any expression.

The doctor leaned in and started her exam, quietly asking Chirrut questions and frowning at his answers. Baze couldn't hear anything over the roaring in his head. He had never heard of an injury like this before. He was brought back to the present by the doctor shaking her head and stepping back.

“I truly am sorry Mister Imwe,” she said. “We tried our best. I'll set up a meeting with a specialist, maybe they can suggest something else.”

Chirrut smiled and nodded his head, eyes staring straight ahead.

“I'll leave you two. Call us if you need anything.”

Baze slowly approached the bed, cringing as Chirrut flinched as he touched his shoulder. “It's me.”

Sighing, Chirrut shook his head. “You're going to have to start making noise when you walk.”

“Nothing?”

“Not even light.” Chirrut laughed, eyes closing. “I guess I should be thankful that the last thing the force allowed me to see was you.” His laughter quickly ended as sobs took over.

Baze dropped onto the bed next to him and pulled him into his chest. “I'm here. It's okay. This isn't the end.”

Baze kissed the top of his head. “I'll never leave you. I'll help you get through this. I promise.”

* * *

The specialists had nothing else to suggest or add. Chirrut laughed and brushed it off, but at night often wound himself tight up in Baze's grip, shaking until the early hours of the morning. He progressed quickly in his therapy for his other wounds, and before long, they found themselves being discharged from the hospital and boarding a plane bound for Alderaan. They checked in at a veterans rehabilitation center, where Chirrut was scheduled to undergo therapy to learn to deal with his blindness. Baze had balked at those words when the intake nurse had used them. He didn't think that this was something to be “dealt with”, but rather the start of a new phase in their lives. Chirrut had laughed at how indignant he had become, teasing him of once again being the more sensitive one to certain words.

Chirrut's therapist turned out to be a sweet young woman named Cecily with a sense of humor much like his. Chirrut loved her from the beginning. Baze just tried to stay calm.

The first day she sat in their room and explained what she had planned. “Being blind will only be a disability if you let it. You still have your other senses available to you, you just need to learn how to make them do what you want. The biggest issues will be handling little day to day things, but there are tricks to that that we'll get to later. For now, I want to get you up and walking. Here,” she took his hands and wrapped them around the handle of a cane. “You'll need to learn how to feel around yourself with this as a guide. You'll also need to learn how to listen,” she said, pausing as Baze snorted from his perch on the bed, “so that you can know where he is to accurately flip him off.”

Chirrut had laughed, doubling over at the annoyed huff from behind him.

She had started him off easy, playing recordings of different sounds and asking him to identify them. Once he could correctly identify half, she would stand him up and have him haltingly stumble around the room, occasionally moving obstacles into his path in order to make him learn to think quickly. More often than not, Chirrut would have bruises from crashing into something, Cecily joking calling out how he had fallen off a cliff, had walked into oncoming traffic, slipped on a banana peel.
Baze was pleased to note that the light was slowly returning to Chirrut's eyes, that his smile came more readily and sincerely with each passing day.

Baze started researching where they would be going after they were discharged from their service. He had no reason to believe that they would need to return. Both had been injured in the line of duty, Chirrut irreparably. They would need a home to return to. Baze was looking at places in Naboo; from what little he had seen of it, it seemed like a nice place. His other prospects were D'Qar and Alderaan itself. The climates were relatively mild, they could buy a house for a reasonable price. Both countries were willing to recognize their marriage, a plus for him. Jedha existed in the back of his mind as a last resort, but he was not sure if he was willing to subject Chirrut to the ire of his parents again.

Within two months, Chirrut had progressed to identifying sounds correctly each time they were presented, as well as being able to locate individual people in a room ninety percent of the time. He was able to navigate the halls with rarely any mishaps, though he would still return on certain days with bruises forming on his shins and arms.

As his progress got better, Cecily taught the two of them how to navigate daily life. She taught Baze things such as folding different denominations of bills in different ways in order to find them without help. She taught them how to measure a room, in order to form an accurate internal map; it was something Baze had never considered before, but found useful even for himself. He had always been careful about keeping things neat, but now found himself obsessively making sure everything had a place and was returned to it without fail. It was easy for him to fall into the habit of guiding Chirrut's hands toward their goals; any excuse to touch his husband was a welcome one.

Cecily's final challenge to Chirrut was to have him walk around the neighborhood surrounding the center without interference. She invited Baze along, hanging back with him as Chirrut lead them to the locations she would call out. Her pleased smile told him that they would probably be done with her shortly, something that made him sad. He came come to view her as a friend, as she reminded him strongly of some of their fellow guardians at the temple. In the end, when Chirrut finished with what she proudly proclaimed as the first perfect score in years, Baze had broken down and cried. Chirrut's answering laugh and tight hug had been the first truly happy thing to have happened to him in a while.

“See? All is as the force wills it. Everything will be alright.”

But it appeared that the darker aspects of the force were not done with them.

Baze was in the process of packing their meager possessions, resolutely trying to ignore Chirrut's foot nudging at his thigh as he passed by the bed.

“You could get up and help,” he said, ignoring the man sprawled across the bed.

“Baze,” Chirrut whined. “I'm bored. Come play with me.”

“Chirrut, we need to finish packing so we can leave. We can play later.”

“But I want to play now.”

Baze sighed, rubbing at his temple trying to stave off a headache when there came a knock at the door. Frowning, he pulled it open, straightening up as he faced their former unit commander.

“Sargent Malbus. Private Imwe. I trust you are both well?”

“Captain Damion. Good afternoon.” Baze started to snap into a salute, stopping when Damion placed a hand on his shoulder.

“Relax. No need for formalities right now.” Damion glanced at Chirrut, who had sat up and was staring in his general direction. “I'm sorry to disturb you in the middle of packing.”

“Is there something you came to discuss or do you just plan to beat around the bush?” Chirrut asked, arms crossed.

“Chirrut!” Baze hissed, but Damion held up a hand.

“As a matter of fact, I did wish to discuss something. This is never an easy conversation, but I'm afraid it needs to be said. Private Imwe, your paperwork for honorable discharge has been approved—”

“Really? You mean the Republic doesn't have a use for blind soldiers?”

Baze crossed to him and clamped a hand across his mouth. “Be quiet, you fool.” He hissed as Chirrut bit him.

“The Republic is very sorry for what happened to you—to the both of you—during your service. You will be compensated for your loss,” he paused as Chirrut snorted. “I truly wish I could do more,” he said, sincerity bleeding through. “This is not easy for me to have to tell you.”

“Finish what you came to say,” Chirrut sighed. “I know that's not the only thing you came to tell us. What about Baze?”

Damion hesitated, glancing at Baze. “I'm sorry as well. I tried, but—” He cleared his throat and stood up straight. “Sargent Malbus, you will be expected to report to Datooine for reassignment until the end of your service agreement. Your medical records were evaluated and it was decided that your injuries were not sufficient enough to warrant a release.” He gulped and held up his hands pleadingly. “I fought against it, but you know how hard up the Republic is for people right now. I'm sorry.”

Baze felt like he was hyperventilating. He sat down on the bed, barely feeling Chirrut's hand on his shoulder. “No,” he said, shaking his head.

“He can't be cleared for duty,” Chirrut said, gripping him tight. “He has nightmares—I think the doctors here called it PTSD. He'd be a liability in the field.”

“They're willing to take that chance.”

“No.” Baze stared at Damion in horror. “I can't leave Chirrut. I won't. We don't even have a place to go yet, how am I supposed to leave him? He needs me.” He left the 'I need him' part unspoken, though he knew that Chirrut heard it as he leaned closer to him.

“It'll mean a court marshal at the least if you do not return, abandonment of duty coupled with jail time otherwise. Please don't make this difficult, Baze.”

“When does he need to report?” Chirrut asked softly.

“Six weeks. They wanted it to be the next one. I argued that you would need more time.” Damion nervously backed towards the door. “If you need anything, I'll help if I can.”

Baze never heard him leave; his hands were covering his eyes as he fought to catch his breath. He slowly came back to Chirrut whispering in his ear that everything will be okay. With a sob, he pulled him close, head buried in his neck. Chirrut rubbed his back and pressed kisses to his hair, just now starting to get shaggy.

Chirrut slowly pushed him back far enough to kiss his nose. “Let's finish packing and go to the hotel. We'll figure out what we're going to do later.”

“I'm not going back.”

“Later. Let's get out of here.”

“Chirrut, I'm not. I'm not going back. I can't leave you.”

“Baze, please. I just want to leave this place.”

Sniffing, Baze nodded and stood up. “Okay. There's just a few things left. Just give me a few minutes.” Baze pulled back his shoulders. “It'll be okay.”

* * *

In the end, Chirrut convinced Baze to return. “If you're going to be taken from me, I'd rather know that I'm going to be getting you back sooner, not later. If they send you to prison,” Chirrut had said, fingers on Baze's lips to cut him off as they lay in bed that night, “it could be a decade before you come back. You only have seventeen months left before this tour is up. I'll be seeing you before you know it.”

Baze had been unable to stop the snort that came at his choice of words. He'd pulled Chirrut close, arms shaking. “I can't leave you,” he'd whispered.

“You're not. You'll come back. It's okay. Besides, think about the future. Once you're done, no one can ever separate us again.”

Baze had refused to talk about it anymore, but he began looking for a place for Chirrut to stay while he was away. Ideally, he would have liked to have set Chirrut up in their own apartment, with everything in its place and set up for his safety and comfort; but their funds and time were limited. He'd finally contacted his sister Shana to ask for help. She was living in Bespin; she offered her room in a house she was sharing with three others—she would be away for several months due to her work within the Republic. “Baze, it's the least I can do. Both of you deserve better.”

So it was that Baze loaded up a second hand car with their meager processions and drove for just over a week until they arrived. He meet with Sha's housemates; Tekk, a long haired mechanic living across the hall, had agreed to help out after Shana had explained the situation. He asked for a payment that Baze felt was higher than it needed to be, but had agreed. His flight was due to leave in two days. He had run out of time.

The morning Baze left had dawned rainy and cold; a reflection of a mood if Baze had anything to say about it. Chirrut had tried to remain cheerful as Tekk drove them to the airport. He waited by the check in counter as Baze and Chirrut said their goodbyes. Neither could speak; they merely held each other close, arms tight as they tried not to cry. Baze finally pulled away as the loudspeaker announced the final boarding call for his flight. Ducking his head, he kissed Chirrut's hand and turned away. As he reached the hall, Chirrut called out “look to the force and you will always find me. I'll be waiting.”

Though he could not see, Chirrut knew that Baze hadn't looked back. He hadn't expected him to.

Chirrut stood still, shaking himself out of his reverie when Tekk touched his arm.

“Come on, we need to leave.”

Nodding, throat tight, Chirrut turned and allowed himself to be led back to the car. Seventeen months, he told himself. He could survive.

~~~

Baze found himself unable to sleep that night. He lay there, listening to Chirrut breath and worried about what was to come. Just before dawn, he grew sick of just laying around. He needed to get out, to get away. Chirrut mumbled softly as he stood up, but otherwise stayed asleep. Baze dressed quickly and left the room. His movements startled Bodhi, who looked as if he had barely slept; he patted him on the shoulder. “I'll be in the garage.” Bodhi nodded, and settled back down.

Baze carefully wrapped his hands and set up a punching bag in the corner. He settled in, his stance gradually loosening as he found his center and his mind quieted. He glanced up as Cassian entered, nodding in greeting. He completed his set and stepped back, gesturing to the bag.

“Feel free.”

Cassian gave a tight smile and walked up.

“She didn't mean it.”

“I know,” he said softly, checking that his gear was secured correctly. “I never meant to yell at her either. God, I probably fucked everything up.”

“I wouldn't say that,” Baze said, nodding toward the door. Jyn stood silhouetted in the door way, dressed in loose fitting cloths. She hesitated, unsure if she was welcome.

“Garage is a shared area,” Baze said, taking a drink from his bottle. “Come in if you wish.”

“I'm not sure that's a good idea,” she muttered, slowly moving toward the opposite end of the room.

“Look, last night tempers were running high,” Baze said, trying to foster peace between the team. “It's been a rough couple of days. We need to rely on each other, however, which means coming to terms with the fact that everyone said things they probably shouldn't. Now, I could make both of you say sorry, because I know you both are, but,” he added, seeing their faces, “it might be better to work off some steam.” He opened a cabinet and started pulling out padded gear. “I think you two should practice on each other for a while.”

Jyn eyed Cassian, who was frowning at Baze.

“It's a good way to see what we need to work on if we need to fight together. You already know how Chirrut and I fight. Jyn, you've only fought twice, one of which wasn't the best example. It makes sense,” Baze said, face neutral.

Cassian finally nodded and turned to Jyn. “Okay?”

“Okay,” she said, grinning.

* * *

Chirrut wandered into the garage an hour later, mug of tea in hand. Bodhi trailed after him, flinching as Jyn landed a vicious kick to Cassian's midsection. Baze was leaning against the wall watching; he lowered his crossed arms as they approached and accepted the mug with a kiss.

“How's it going?” Chirrut asked.

“They've been at it for almost an hour,” Baze said, voice betraying his amusement. “It's been beneficial, though.”

“How so?” Bodhi asked, watching them circle each other, feinting.

“Yes. I noticed it last time,” Chirrut said. “Jyn! Cassian! Come here for a moment.”

They paused for a moment and faced their observers.

Chirrut shook his head as he smiled. “Jyn, Cassian is probably too kind to say anything, but it's easy to tell where you plan to be.”

“What?” Jyn asked, face scrunching up in anger.

“You telegraph your moves,” Chirrut said. “I can hear you do it, which means that anyone who watches you fight will see it.”

“He's right,” Baze said. “Before you lunge, you shuffle your feet. Before you swing, you drop your arm. It's small things, but they could make a difference.” Baze stepped close and pointed to her arm. She nodded her consent, frowning as he took her arm and placed it in a certain position. “Hold it closer to your body, like this.”

She glared at Cassian. “Did you know this?”

“Not at first,” he admitted. “I figured it out this morning after the first round.”

Baze cleared his throat and adjusted her body. “Try hitting him again. I'm going to assist you.”

“With pleasure,” she said, sardonic smile spreading across her face.

“Bodhi,” Chirrut said, “remind me to buy more pain pills later.”

* * *

Kay cleared his throat as he walked into the garage, freezing as he watched Baze slash with a knife, demonstrating to Jyn the correct posture. Cassian looked up from his seat on a cushion, bruises blossoming brightly across his face.

“What is it Kay?”

“You need to see this,” he muttered, handing over his laptop. Frowning, Cassian took it and started reading. The color drained from his face and he jumped to his feet.

“Jyn!” he yelled as he ran from the building, “get your gear. We need to get to base, now!”

“What's going on?” Bodhi called, nervously looking around at the group.

“Saw found your father,” Kay said, face grime. “He tried to 'rescue' him. A compound blew up.” Kay knelt down and picked up his computer, shutting it down. “Saw and his forces tried to fight their way out, but Galen was recaptured and taken with the escaping Imperials. They're on the move. If we hurry, we might be able to catch up.”

Jyn hadn't moved once during this, just now startling as she felt Chirrut's hand on her shoulder.

“Go. He will try and help you as much as he is able,” Chirrut said.

“I'll get the car,” Baze said, voice resigned. “Hurry.”

“We'll be there with you,” Chirrut said, pushing her toward the door. “Go.”

Nodding, she ran after Cassian. Chirrut turned to Kay and Bodhi. “This time is going to be worse,” he said, voice serious. “There will be fighting. It will be dangerous. Do you still want to help?”

Kay was quick to confirm. Bodhi thought about it for a moment before agreeing. “Okay. Be by the gate in fifteen. May the force be with all of us.”

* * *

They were in the air within two hours; their smaller team had been supplemented by a group of ground troops. This time, when they went in, it wouldn't be for information; this time, it would be for blood.

Bodhi found himself sharing the cockpit with a seasoned pilot a few years older than himself. He liked the guy, who merely asked to be called Tahl. Tahl took the time to explain things and actively wanted Bodhi's help. He didn't seem to care that Bodhi had once been on the side of the Empire—in fact, he seemed to find it amusing that Bodhi had defected and was now helping to bring them down.

Cassian had briefly explained what their mission was before take off, carefully eyeing the crew. He usually had his doubts when he had not been in charge of picking his team, but this one struck him as a good one. They had impeccable records, were good at following orders but also at thinking on their feet, and, better yet, had readily agreed to Cassian's orders that Bodhi and Kay be allowed on the flight (despite Draven trying to get them grounded).

“As we know from the transmission we received from Saw, the Empire is currently moving one of its research facilities. In it, they are working on developing a weapon system that could wipe out an entire city in one go. We think it might be chemical, but it could be a bomb of unimaginable proportions. In their possession is Galen Erso, lead researcher. We need to recover him, first and foremost.”

“Sir,” one of the troops asked, eyes dark under his helmet. “Draven was heard stating that Erso was to be shot on sight. Is that not your order?”

Cassian felt Jyn startle behind him, but he ignored her. “No. That is not my order. I feel, as does Mon Mothma, that it is better that he have a chance to speak before the senate. We need support in order to win this fight.”

“Good,” the trooper said, smiling. “Killing a victim never felt right.” There were muttered agreements around him. “We've all seen the messages; most of us used to be in intelligence. We've been undercover, assassins, double agents. We've heard the rumors for years. Erso's done a lot wrong, caused a lot of people to die, but it seems to me like he didn't have much of a choice. Killing him would just make us the bad guys as well. Not that I mind, mind you.”

The others started laughing, jokes moving through the ranks. Cassian smiled and waved them off. He reluctantly turned toward Jyn, sighing when he saw her frown.

“When were you told to kill my father?”

“It's been a standing order since we began looking for him. Same with you. I was only supposed to interrogate you and then dispose of you; I was never supposed to bring you back. But it never felt right.”

Jyn crossed her arms. “Why should I believe you?”

“I brought you to where I live. Do you think I'd have done that if I planned to kill you? Allowed you to meet my friends, share my food. You have no one; none of us do. But we have each other.”

“I don't need your pity.”

“It's not pity. It's finally making the right decision. All my life, since my family died, I've been used by others. I finally had the chance to make a call that I felt was right. And I'll defend it as best I can. Do you honestly think your father is siding with those murderers of his own free will?”

Jyn dropped her eyes.

“I am not in the habit of second guessing myself. And when I do, I turn to Chirrut. Have you ever wondered why a blind man is being allowed to take part in this mission?”

Jyn frowned, glancing at where Chirrut was taking part in an animated conversation with a young soldier, Baze lounging beside him smirking. “I assumed it was because Baze insisted.”

“Partly. It was one of Baze's stipulations. No, the real reason is that Chirrut used to be a soldier. He was part of a specialized team along with Baze. After he was hurt, he was discharged from the Republic's forces, but when the rebellion started, he signed up. He's one of our interrogators, one of our best, actually. He can always tell when someone is lying, same with Baze, though unlike Baze, he's never been wrong. If he trusts you, then I will die to defend you.”

Jyn turned to face him, looking into his eyes. “Do you ever lie?”

“Not to my friends. I only lie in the field when I need information.”

Jyn smiled then, brightly. “Thank you.”

“I can't guarantee that Galen will survive this,” he warned.

“The fact that you are willing to try is more than anyone else has ever tried. And I'll make sure he survives, don't you doubt it.”

Cassian smiled. “I never doubt anything when it comes to you. I have the bruises to prove it.”

“Maybe when this is all over I can give you a different set.”

“Let's focus on surviving this before we get into anything new, shall we?”

Jyn shrugged. “Never forget that I offered.”

“Go sit down,” he laughed, pushing her away. “I need to go talk to Kay.”

“I'm just saying that I'm a lot cuter than Kay is.”

“Jyn...”

“Cassian.”

* * *

Shep brought Cassian a decoded message after it came in. It contained a series of coordinates as well as a name.

“Where we heading captain?” someone called out.

“Eadu.”

There was a muffled groan from behind him. “Fuck. I hate the rain.”

“I thought you hated sand,” came a questioning reply.

“Nah, he hates everything.”

Half the troops started laughing. Cassian smiled tightly and gestured for Chirrut and Baze to join him below. Kay and Jyn were already seated, Kay still on his computer.

“I don't like this,” Cassian said. “I don't feel like these coordinates are where we should be heading.”

“It's not,” Jyn said, reading over Kay's shoulder. “ That part of Eadu was where Saw found them.” She pointed at the screen, showing security photos from the buildings. “Someone on Saw's team managed to get this out before things went bad. If we go there, we'd be walking into a trap.”

Kay was looking things up as she spoke. “She's right. That facility was evacuated this morning. However, there are other buildings used by the empire in that country. Reports being put out say that Galen has been moved, but there is a suspiciously high concentration of forces in the northern half.”

Cassian rubbed at his face, eyes hard. “Bastion!”

“Yes sir?” the young man said, hurrying over.

“You're flight trained, correct?”

“Yes sir.”

“I need you to relieve Bodhi for a bit. Have him join us as soon as possible.”

Nodding, he hurried up the stairs.

“What are you thinking?” Jyn asked.

“Bodhi worked for the Empire. He's been to the places they kept your father. He would know best if this is on the right track.”

Baze leaned back against the wall, arms crossed across his chest. He rolled his eyes and kicked softly at Chirrut's shin to stop him from tugging restlessly at the vest strapped to his chest. Chirrut huffed at him, but left it alone. Cassian did his best to ignore them both; he was used to their peculiarities in the field, even knew the stories of why Baze would grow quiet and ruthless while Chirrut fidgeted. Jyn was drumming her fingers on the bench when Bodhi came in, face nervous.

“You needed me?”

“Bodhi, how many research facilities in Eadu did you visit?”

“I believe there were four main ones. The rest were mainly warehouses that were used as fronts, so the security for them was minimal.”

“Would it be possible to tell if that security had been beefed up?”

“At the warehouses? Of course. They were barely staffed to begin with, so if they started using them, it would be noticeable.”

“What of the research labs?”

Bodhi looked around, frowning. “What's going on?”

“The coordinates we received were for a warehouse in Eadu, but it doesn't feel right. Saw's forces targeted this one,” Cassian said, pointing at the screen. “They found Galen, but things went bad. We're not sure how many survived, but reports indicate that Galen has been moved again.”

“No,” Bodhi said, shaking his head. “They didn't move him, not if they killed Saw's people. They plan on moving him, most likely, but they'll wait until things die down.”

“How can you be sure?” Baze asked.

“Because that is where they were building the weapons,” Kay said, pulling up classified report. “They wouldn't be able to move that much in this short of a time frame. It's a set up.”

“Which means either we got the wrong information or we have a mole,” Cassian said. He growled in frustration. “Chirrut? What do you feel is right?”

Chirrut sat down next to Jyn with a sigh. “No matter what we choose, it will be a hard fight. I don't believe they moved him, but are waiting to see what we do. We received info that he was in the north, but Bodhi and Kay think it's wrong, which means someone is setting us up.” He closed his eyes and leaned forward. “I will trust your judgment, captain. I trust this team.”

Cassian nodded and left the hold. “Then we change our course but tell no one. We go to where Saw went. Be prepared to fight.”

“Are we even sure he's still alive?” Jyn asked after he left.

“Have faith in the force,” Chirrut told her, gripping her shoulder tight. “You're father has survived far longer than he probably thought he could. He's smart. We'll find him.”

Chapter Text

Galen Erso flinched as the guard threw one of his researchers against the wall.

“Is this how we are to be repaid, after keeping you safe and fed for years?” Krennic said, pacing back and forth. “With betrayal?” He glared at the assembled crowd, pausing to stand over the body of the one of the partisan fighters. “I will know who sent that message. But first, we must see to it that our project is kept safe.” He turned to the trooper standing behind him. “How much longer until we are clear?”

“They're loading the last of it.”

“Good.” Krennic glared at the cowering scientists, pointing out two. “Then make an example of them. Someone will pay for this.”

Galen was horrified as the troopers dragged the terrified scientists forward, guns drawn. “Wait!” he yelled, lunging forward. “Orson, stop this, please. They are innocent. Don't do this.”

“And how would you know?” Krennic asked, voice soft and deadly.

“I sent it. I had someone smuggle out a message with what we were doing here. If anyone should take the blame, let it be me,” he pleaded, hands held out.

“You? You betrayed my trust? I must admit, I'm shocked, Galen. I never knew you had it in you. Maybe Lyra was right in what she saw in you all those years ago.” Krennic stepped forward and clapped Galen on the shoulder. “But your death will accomplish little, I'm afraid. No one here cares if you live or die. Except for me, it would seem. But you, you care about your team, do you not?” He nodded at the troopers. “Kill them all.”

“No!” Galen shouted, trying to fight. Krennic pulled his gun, slamming it against Galen's head as he tried to get away. He hit the ground as the troopers opened fire on his team. Tears in his eyes, he struggled against the dizziness and climbed to his feet. He turned back to Krennic, horrified. “Orson, please. Don't do this. Hasn't there been enough blood spilled?”

Krennic smiled and leaned in close. “My dear Galen. We've only just begun.”

Galen froze as he felt the gun being pushed into his stomach. “Lyra was right,” he said, staring into Krennic's eyes. “You are a monster. There never was any good in you.”

“And had you been as smart as you thought you were, you would have listened to that bitch to begin with.” Krennic smiled as he pulled the trigger.

As Galen crumpled to the floor alarms started going off. “Director!” a trooper called. “Enemy troops are in the compound!”

“Rebel's?” Krennic asked, watching Galen as he tried to crawl away.

“We believe so.”

“How much is left?”

“The main components have been moved. They just finished downloading the plans.”

“Good. Wipe the rest and set the charges.” He brought his boot down hard on Galen's back, making him scream. “Let the rats burn.” He fired another shot into his back, watching as Galen jerked. He knelt down and leaned forward. “You always did choose the wrong people to give your loyalties to, didn't you?”

With a flourish, Orson Krennic stood up and turned away. He ignored the blood splattered on his white uniform as he strode from the room, snapping at his personal guards as he did. “Ready my plane. We leave immediately.”

“What about Erso?”

“Leave him. He's useless to me.”

* * *

Cassian's team had been quick to take out the remaining troops stationed near the perimeter. He had signaled for Tucker and Shep to divide the troops up; Tucker had taken her team toward the hanger in the back, targeting the last of the transports taking off. Shep's team charged the building, splitting into smaller groups. “Get whatever information you can!” Cassian called, gun raised as he moved further in. “In and out, save what you can, get back to the ship. Look for survivors if possible. We'll look for Saw and Galen. Kay, stick close to Shep. Bodhi, where did you normally meet with Galen?”

Bodhi nervously pointed down a hallway. “Near the hangers. It was the central meeting point.”

Cassian nodded and gestured for Jyn, Baze, Bodhi, and Chirrut to follow him. “Right. Let's go.”

“Stay close, Bodhi,” Chirrut said, adjusting something hooked to his belt. He pressed a series of buttons on it, smiling as it emitted a faint beep. “Baze?”

“Already on,” Baze said, following close behind him.

“What is that?” Bodhi asked, curious despite being nervous.

“Echo locator. So no one has to lead me around during combat,” Chirrut said, head tilted as he listened. “Baze carries the other half.”

Cassian and Jyn took point, taking turns clearing the doorways. They were nearing the area Bodhi pointed them towards when they heard the gunshots.

“Down!” Baze growled, pushing past Chirrut as he pulled Bodhi toward the ground. Baze and Cassian reached the door, weapons ready as they listened to the sound of a plane taking off. Nodding, Baze pushed through the door, sweeping the room as Cassian came up behind him. He stepped over the body of Luccia, left broken on the floor as they carefully cleared the room. There were bodies everywhere; before them, a sealed blast door showed an open bay where the departing plane must have left from. Cassian called Tucker, getting her confirmation, as the rest entered. Baze had approached one of the bodies lying by itself in the middle of the room, waving at Cassian. “This one's still alive.”

Cassian hurried over, careful not to slip in the spreading pool of blood as Baze flipped the man over.

“No,” Jyn moaned, rushing to his side. “Papa! Can you hear me? Please!”

“Jyn....stardust—you shouldn't...you have to go,” Galen rasped, hand reaching for hers.

“Mister Erso, don't try to speak,” Cassian said, calling for a medic. “We need to get you out of here.”

“No...leave me. It's too late. This place...it's wired...they—they plan on blowing it up...Jyn...you have—to...to keep her—safe.” His eyes were rolling as a team ran up, make shift stretcher between them. “Lyra—Jyn...I'm sorry...I didn't...”

Cassian pulled Jyn away as she started screaming. Chirrut grabbed his shoulder. “Get her back. We need to leave, now!” Nodding, Cassian pulled her along after the medics, calling for the teams to fall back. Baze was removing something from a bank of computers along the wall, rushing back to Chirrut's side as he and Bodhi hurried from the room.

“Run!” he yelled, pushing Bodhi to go faster.

“What's—?”

“Five minutes!” came across the comms.

“Cassian!” Kay yelled as he stumbled out into the hall. “I found—!”

“Later, Kay! Run! Get to the ship!” Cassian screamed, shoving at Jyn to keep her moving. “Jyn, I know you're worried, but we can't help him if we all die. Keep moving!”

“But Cassian—!”

“Kay,” Chirrut said, grabbing his arm. “This place is going to blow. Can it wait?”

Kay jogged beside Chirrut, eyes wide. “I found something important. I copied what I could, but I feel like I missed something.”

“Then it stays,” Baze growled, shoeing them forward. “Unless you want to die here.”

“Definitely not,” Kay said, picking up the speed.

Cassian was waiting on the ramp with Shep and Dren, counting the soldiers as they entered. He waved them forward. “Jyn's already inside with Galen. They found Saw, or what's left of him. A few of the partisans survived. Jackman managed to snag a ship, Tucker's team will fly that one back.” Shep activated the controls to close the ramp as Cassian hit the comm connected to the cockpit. “Tahl! Get us out!”

Chirrut was fumbling with his echo locator, getting it turned off as Baze shoved him into a jump seat. He grabbed Bodhi's hand and pulled him into the seat to his right. “Let someone else help Tahl, there's no time. Secure yourself.” He took Baze's hand as he settled next to him.

“Clear!” someone yelled and the plane started forward. Chirrut was mumbling his prayer under his breath as the first of the explosions started outside. Bodhi was huddled next to him, eyes closed in terror as the ship was rocked hard by one of the blasts, the interior lights going out for a moment. Baze gripped Chirrut's hand tighter and leaned back. They had barely cleared the area when the main facility caught fire, gas lines rupturing. They gained altitude quickly, leveling out once they were safe.

“Fuck,” someone muttered, followed by a muted laugh.

“Anyone who was hurt report to the bay,” Cassian said, standing up swiftly. “Those in charge of collecting information, meet me in the hold in ten minutes. Bodhi? You okay to fly?” When Bodhi nodded he smiled. “Good. Get to the cockpit. We're short pilots on this plane.” He noticed Jyn staggering toward him, blood staining her cloths. “Jyn, how is Galen?”

“They said he's stable,” she said as a few of the troops brushed past her seeking medical help. She was shaking slightly, but her eyes were bright. “He'll need surgery as soon as we land.”

“Jyn,” Cassian said, hand resting on her shoulder. “I'm sorry that this happened, but I need you to understand. If you ever do something like that again, ever endanger either the mission or my men again, I will shoot you myself, are we clear?”

“Yes. I'm sorry, I just—” She froze as he grabbed her, hugging her close.

“He'll be okay. We'll be back soon. Just hang on.”

Nodding, she tried to hold back her tears. “He might need a blood transfusion before we get back. They'll only let me give a little.”

“We'll help, if we can,” Chirrut volunteered from where he leaned against Baze's chest. “The force will always provide.”

“I'm sure Saw taught you better,” Cassian joked; he was relieved when she rolled her eyes and gave him a watery smile.

“Who shot him, though?” Kay wondered.

“I managed to get the security footage,” Baze said, pulling out the drive he had taken from the hanger. “Kay, maybe you can review it later?”

“What were you trying to say earlier?” Chirrut asked.

“Yes,” Kay said, eyes bright. “I think I know what they're building, but I need someone else to help go over the schematics. I couldn't copy it all.”

“I'll help,” Jyn said, quiet. “I can interpret my father's notes, I know how he writes things.”

“Maybe later, Kay,” Cassian suggested.

“I really think we should get started,” Kay grumbled, arms crossed.

“No one is in the right frame of mind—”

“I want to,” Jyn said. “I'd rather keep busy, stay out of the medics way.”

Sighing, Cassian sat down. “Fine. It's not like I can stop you.”

Jyn studied him for a moment before walking away.

“She'll be fine, captain,” Chirrut said, patting his knee. “Let her handle things her way. Pushing her right now will just hurt your relationship in the long run.”

“There is no relationship,” Cassian muttered, glaring at Chirrut.

“Of course,” he smirked, leaning against Baze's shoulder. “Wake us if you need us.”

* * *

An hour before they were due to land, Jyn wandered back toward where the injured were being kept. She and Kay were able to decode parts of her father's files, but some of it was impossible and would have to wait until Galen woke up and could talk—she refused to think about an alternative outcome. She passed to see Baze sitting beside her father, watching as the IV gave blood to the unconscious man. There was a bandage taped to the crook of his arm.

“They're getting him ready for surgery,” Baze said, voice a quiet rumble. “He's being taken in as soon as we land.”

“How is he?”

“Stable. He's strong, little sister. He knew you were there. He won't give up easy. Neither should you.”

“I don't know what happened back there, why I reacted like I did.”

“It's shock. It's seeing the one you love get hurt in ways too horrible to imagine. It makes you do stupid things, things you know will cause more harm than good.”

She watched something move behind his eyes. “You were there. When Chirrut was hurt. Cassian told me that you two were on a team. You watched it happen.”

Baze twisted his hands in his lap. “I thought he was dead. Everything had started normal that day. We came under attack and I couldn't get to him in time. They deployed some kind of chemical, it was—it was the worst day of my life. I watched him get hit; I held him as he...I truly thought he had died at first. Then I realized he was still breathing and I lost it. I shot a bunch of people, but I wouldn't leave his side. I even tried to keep our own people away from him.” He gave a bitter laugh. “I could have been the reason he didn't make it. They were threatening to sedate me when I finally passed out. They made me go back, though, before he fully recovered. I had to leave him, alone, blind, still unsteady. I almost didn't make it. I only survived because I hoped he was still there waiting for me to return.”

“Did you really think he wouldn't be?”

“No. But I was resentful of being taken from him before I was ready. I did things I'm not proud of. I lost my faith. But in the end it was for the best. I found something better.”

Jyn sat beside him and stared at her feet. “Why do you do this?” she said, gesturing around the ship but implying everything in general. “You got out. Why would you continue to fight?”

“Because sometimes its the right thing to do, even if I don't always agree with it. Chirrut likes to remind me of that. He's not wrong, usually.”

“Thank you,” Jyn mumbled. “For fighting. For helping my father and myself. For being here.”

Baze smiled at her. “Things will work out, Jyn. We just have to believe in each other, all of us. Don't worry about Galen. Mothma wants him alive. No harm will come to him.”

She wished she could believe him.

Chapter Text

Bodhi stuck close to Chirrut once they landed, forgoing the chance to help some of the techs process the captured ship. While he was quickly becoming accepted by the men and women that Cassian worked with daily, he was still uncomfortable when it came to dealing with the higher ups. He knew how they referred to him, knew how many of them felt about him. Most still considered him a part of the Empire. While he didn't let it hurt him, he preferred to stay near those he felt he could trust. Chirrut had merely smiled, arm tight around his shoulders once the briefing ended. He had jokingly called him a duckling and led him toward the cafeteria in search of a snack.

Kay had wandered off to join the other analyst while Baze stayed with Jyn near the medial center, awaiting word about her father. She had been silent since ending her talk with Mothma and Draven, refusing to leave the bench tucked into the corner of the waiting room. Baze paced slowly back and forth in an attempt to burn off excess energy; he didn't like being separated from Chirrut after a mission, it brought back too many memories, but he was reluctant to leave Jyn alone. The need for food had finally sent Chirrut and Bodhi to hunt it down; Baze could wait the few minutes that that took. He hoped.

“I sorry.”

Soft as Jyn's voice was, it still had the power to startle Baze. “Don't be.”

“But I am. I can't help but feel that this is all my fault somehow.”

“You are not responsible for the actions of others. The Empire, the war—none of it is your fault.”

“My father was working for them—,” she started, jumping as he slammed his fist into the wall.

“Shut up and listen. I will not be repeating myself. You are not ever responsible for what another does. Yes, your father worked for an evil organization. Did he regret it? Obviously, since he tried to escape it. But more than that, this would still be happening with or without him. With or without you. We would still be in this fight; we were never going to be able to stay out of it. It was only a matter of time. You need to find who you want to be and follow that path.”

“And if I don't know what I want to be? If it's too late?”

“It's never too late,” Bodhi said, entering the room balancing a cardboard tray of coffee on top of an armful of water and soda bottles. “Look at me, I'm getting a second chance. Why can't your father?”

Jyn gave a hollow laugh, arms crossing over her chest. “Do you really think any of these people will help him in the long run?”

“They're trying to save him now,” Bodhi said, confused. He reached out to take one of the bags that Chirrut was carrying, setting it on an empty chair.

“Bodhi, you can't honestly be that stupid. They're only helping him in order to get what they want. As soon as they have it, they'll either place the blame squarely on him or else he'll 'disappear'. I've seen it happen before. None of us are safe.”

“Unfortunately, I must agree with Jyn,” Chirrut said, voice solemn. “Galen is a liability right now. He was in-charge of creating weapons that will eventually be turned against the rest of the world. To the Republic, the fact that he tried to get the information to us came too late. They'll argue that he worked for them for years, knowing full well what they planned to do. The truth will mean little to the public.”

At Bodhi's horrified expression, Baze sighed and tossed him a sandwich. “We'll do what we can to fix things, but sometimes there is no easy solution. Eat that. You'll feel better if you do.”

“But if he's a liability, what about me?” Bodhi asked. “I was an Imperial as well. What'll happen to me?”

“Relax,” Chirrut said, pushing him toward a chair. “You were too low within the ranks to be of much concern. Very few will ever care. There will always be those that will try and hold it against you, but you have plenty of allies. It'd be pretty hard to make you a scapegoat at this time.”

Far from reassured, Bodhi settled in across from Jyn and tried to eat his food. It tasted like sawdust. For the first time in a while, he thought about what life on the run would be like again. It wasn't a pleasant thought.

* * *

Cassian had sat through worse meetings. Barely. He had been listening to intelligence officers from across the Republic arguing since his mission briefing had ended and never before had he wanted to shoot someone as bad as now. Each refused to listen to the others, feeling as if their opinions were the only one that mattered. As of yet, he had not heard a good point, nor had he been called upon to give his take. He was starting to wonder if Draven was keeping him here just to torture him for siding with Jyn and Baze.

The headache that had started on the ship had grown into a migraine that was getting worse. He had his elbows resting on the table, fingers pushed into the pressure points above his eyes when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

“Captain Andor? Are you feeling okay?”

He turned to focus on Commander Reyland, trying to smile as she frowned in concern at him. “I'm fine. Just a bit tired.”

“Have you been to medical?” General Tarkos asked, shuffling a stack of papers around.

“Not yet. It wasn't necessary.”

General Dodonna pointed him toward the door. “Captain Andor, thank you for everything in regards to this mission, but it would be within all of our best interests to have you report to medical. Afterwords, if at all possible, I'd ask that your team remain on or near the base, in case we have need of you again.”

Nodding, Cassian excused himself and hurried from the room. Once in the hallway, he allowed his shoulders to slump as he started off towards his office. He didn't need medical; all he really wanted was a long nap and maybe a drink. After locking the door, he dug out an old bottle of aspirin and settled back in his chair, eyes closed.

He startled awake to someone entering the room. Before he was fully aware, a gun was in his hand and pointed directly at Kay's head. Kay let out a squeak but managed to keep a tight grip on his laptop, raising it to shield his face.

“Fucking hell, Kay! You could have died! What were you thinking?”

“I thought you knew that I figured out the door code. I wanted to ask you something.”

Sighing, Cassian tucked the gun away again and leaned back in the chair. “What's wrong?”

Kay hesitated, biting his lip, before closing and locking the door behind him. “There is a file I can't access,” he finally muttered, expression petulant.

“What do you mean?” Cassian asked, rubbing his temples.

“I've managed to read all of the files I could save from Eadu, except one. It came off of Galen Erso's personal computer. Nothing I've tried has allowed me to access it, no matter what I do. Even the techs here can't read it.”

“Have you asked Jyn?”

“I haven't seen her since we got here.”

“She should be with Baze. I'll have him bring her here.” Cassian was quick to send a text, dropping his phone after reading the response. “It bothers you that you can't read it, doesn't it,” Cassian smirked.

Kay glared at him. “More than you can imagine.”

It wasn't long before Baze arrived with Jyn in tow, both looking like how Cassian felt. “You needed us?”

“I only needed Jyn, really,” Kay said, pulling up the copied files. “Do you have any idea what this could be?”

Jyn frowned and leaned over the screen, eyes growing wider as she saw the file name. “Where did you find this? We looked at all the files.”

“It was hidden. But I can't read it. It makes no sense.”

“Well it wouldn't,” Jyn said, face thoughtful. “It's not complete. Also, it's in a code my father used when I was young.”

“Can you read it?” Cassian asked.

“Yes, but it won't do you any good. There's nothing here to read except a project name and a location.”

“What's it say?” Cassian asked, impatient.

“The location it lists is someplace called Scarif. It gives the coordinates, as well as access codes for the compound.”

“And what's the name?”

“It's me. It's stardust.”

Chapter Text

There were armed guard placed outside the room Galen Erso was transferred to after his surgeries were completed. Jyn was unsure if they were for his protection or to prove he was a prisoner. She didn't care; she refused to leave his side and was prepared to fight to stay when a few quiet words from Chirrut and Cassian had an orderly dragging in a reclining chair for her.

“Try and get some rest,” Cassian said as she settled in.

“And are you going to take your own advice?”

“What I do is none of your concern,” he said, smirking. “But relax. Between Bodhi and Baze, there are enough mother hens in this group.” Jyn's quiet laugh made his smile more genuine, if no less tired. “I'll sleep in my office as soon as I get the chance.”

“What will happen with Saw and his men?” she tentatively asked.

“There will be a funeral sometime later. He was an ally once, they'll give him that honor at least. As for his men, they'll be questioned soon. Chirrut will take part in that.”

“I'd like to be present.”

“I'll see what I can do.” Cassian hesitated before gesturing toward Galen. “How is he?”

“He'll live, though they're not sure as to the extent of the damage. He might very well be paralyzed; one of the bullets was lodged in his spine. I'm assuming they'll need to interrogate him as well?”

“Yes.”

She nodded. “Fine.”

Cassian nodded and left the room. As he walked back to his office, he passed a lounge in which Baze and Chirrut had taken over one end of the couch, Bodhi the other. Bodhi had wedged himself into a corner, pillow held tight against his chest as he slept, knees tucked under his chin. To Cassian, he looked both too old and too young. It startled him to realize that they were the same age, though he knew that he had not looked that young in ages. He turned away from the scene, ignoring the quiet conversation being held between Baze and Chirrut, the too intimate moment being shared at the end of a long day.

He nodded a greeting to Kay as he walked into his own private space and dropped into his chair, eyes closing swiftly. He had learned early on how to function on little to no sleep, but sometimes, the only option left was a nap. The tapping of the keyboard coming from Kay's side of the room created a gentle white noise, allowing him to drift off into a dreamless sleep, horrors of the past few days pushed away for now.

Outright war was coming sooner than any could anticipate. No longer would the rebellion hide within the shadows, but take the fight to the foreground. Deep down, he feared he wouldn't survive it, but he was willing to fight. Rebellions were built on hope, he knew; he had believed that since he was young. He just had to find whatever was needed to create that hope.

He had to keep believing that it would be worth it in the end.

* * *

Cassian startled awake when the phone on his desk started rang. Rubbing at his face, he fumbled to pick it up. “Andor.”

“Captain, rooms four through seven are ready.”

“Copy. I'll gather the crew and come down.” Sighing, he hung up and leaned back.

“Trouble?” Kay asked, indifferent to the answer.

“I'll know soon. Keep your phone on, I'll be in the interrogation rooms. I'll call if I need you.”

“What good would I do? I don't know anything about interrogating prisoners.”

“We might need you to confirm data. I'd trust you over others right now.”

“Then you're a bigger fool than the general thinks.”

“I'm well aware of what gets said. But in truth? You're the only one that has yet to give me the wrong information. Thank you for that.”

“That's what friends are for,” Kay said, clearly embarrassed. “Good luck.”

Cassian patted him on the shoulder as he walked by. He headed for the lounge, happy to see that Baze and Chirrut were still there, though they had given the couch to Bodhi and had moved to the floor. He paused a moment in the doorway, watching as Chirrut helped Baze stretch out his shoulder and back. “Chirrut? They're ready for us.”

Chirrut tilted his head and nodded, silently counting out the seconds before releasing Baze's arm and standing up. “Fine. Let's go.”

Baze grumbled under his breath as he stood up and grabbed Chirrut's staff. He nudged at Bodhi with his knee, grabbing his shoulder as he jumped up. “Bodhi, go join Jyn in the medical wing. We'll come get you later.”

“Where are you going?” he asked, stifling a yawn.

“The less you know, the better little one,” Chirrut said as he followed Cassian out.

“Don't worry. Just do as we say.” Baze smiled at him and wandered off, leaving Bodhi feeling slightly lost.

“How many are there?” Chirrut was asking as Baze caught up.

“Four. Three of Saw's men and one of the men that attacked you before. Our people on base have managed to get very little out of them. They just need to know if they're hiding anything, they don't need you to talk personally with them if you don't want to.”

“Why'd they wait this long?” Baze growled, making a passing aide flinch away from them. “We should have made them speak when it first happened.”

“It's because they didn't think that they had any ties to the Empire. Now, they're not so sure. I tried to get Draven to let you interrogate them a while ago, not that it did any good.” Cassian typed in the access code for the elevator as he shook his head. “Don't tell him I said this, but sometimes I really hate that man.”

“Someday, there is going to be an accident on the range and he'll be mistaken for a target,” Baze muttered making Cassian laugh.

“I wouldn't be surprised. He truly has no people skills.”

Chirrut merely smiled as the doors opened. “I'll assume he's going to be watching?”

“He is.”

“Perfect! I love to irritate that man.”

“Sadly, what irritates him the most is knowing that you're right.” Cassian sighed as they approached the gathered group. “Just try to play nice.”

“I make no such promise,” Chirrut said, head held high.

Sighing, Cassian flashed his ID to the guard posted by the door. He nodded and allowed them entry, locking the door behind them. Draven was waiting, arms crossed over his chest, his usual scowl locked onto his face. Beside him stood Mon Mothma as well as Dodonna and a handful of others. Baze stood behind Chirrut, arms crossed over his chest, legs spread shoulder width apart, making himself appear as large as he could. Chirrut smiled serenely and leaned on his staff, seemingly at odds with the tension in the room.

“Mister Imwe, thank you for agreeing to help us. I know I've said it before, but I appreciate your services. They've been invaluable in the past.”

Chirrut smiled and reached for her hand. “It is an honor to be of help. I will assist as much as the force allows me to.”

General Dodonna stepped forward. “We'd like for you to start with the partisans if possible. We can have someone lead you to them—”

“Please, that won't be necessary. Baze will suffice.” Chirrut held out his arm, smile growing as Baze grabbed his elbow.

“Kiss ass,” Baze muttered into his ear as he guided him toward the first room.

“Maybe later, sweet cheeks,” Chirrut whispered back, wiggling his eyebrows. “Or I could always just lick—”

Baze shoved him into the room, eyes rolling. “Just shut up and do your job.”

“Yes dear.” Chirrut dropped his smile as he tried to orient himself in the small room. Dodonna and Draven moved to stand by the window while a tech set up the recording equipment. Chirrut used his staff to locate a chair, sitting down with a sigh. “No need to stand and watch, might as well get comfortable.” He leaned his head back to rest against Baze, listening to Cassian settle in the corner.

“Would you like to talk with the individual first, or wait?” Dodonna asked.

“I'll let you know if I feel it will be necessary,” Chirrut said, eyes closed.

Dodonna signaled for the interrogation to begin, watching as the interviewer entered the soundproof room next door.

“File number 28350791, subject Operation Breakthrough. I need to start by asking your name.”

The man sitting at the table glared at the woman seated with her back to the mirror, refusing to speak.

“Please be advised that we already have a file on you. I ask as a courtesy. If you wish to make this harder, we can, but I wish to proceed along a more civil route. We are not the Empire here.”

“Aren't you?” the man hissed, eyes hard. “You call yourselves a Republic, but you're just as bad. You care nothing for the plight of the citizens being crushed in your stupid talks and inactivity. Saw was the only one willing to do anything. The rest of you don't care. You never have. Empire, Republic, it's all the same. The poor and the weak get trampled for the 'greater good.' You're all scum.”

Chirrut sighed and shook his head. “This is pointless. You'll get nothing from this man. He's merely a fanatic, someone that Gerrera would never have trusted. He'll tell you nothing.”

In the end, Chirrut was proven right. The man had nothing to offer that was not already known.

They moved into the next room, repeating the set up as the interviewer restated the file number and subject name, once again asking for a name. This time, the male, little more than a young man, complied. “Janson. Janson Kelpar.”

“Mister Kelpar, thank you. May I call you Janson?”

The boy gave a nervous nod, glancing around, eyes darting quickly away from the mirror as if he knew there were people watching him on the other side.

“Janson, how long were you a part of the partisans?”

“Two years.”

“Where were you from originally?”

“Datooine.”

“And why did you join?”

The boy bit at his lip, eyes down. “They said I could be a hero.”

“Would you care to elaborate?”

The boy, Janson, fell silent, shoulders slumped forward. Chirrut sat up straighter in his chair, frowning.
“He's nervous. He's afraid, but he wants us to believe him.”

“Are you sure?” Dodonna asked.

“Watch. Listen.”

Janson glanced back up at the interviewer, eyes shining. “The Empire,” he said, trying to explain. “They destroy everything. They don't care about anyone but themselves. They destroy families, cities. The war with the Separatists didn't effect me much, but I heard the talk, I saw the elders. When the Empire came, I thought they would be good for us, they said so much that seemed okay. And then people started disappearing and secret arrests started happening and they—my family—I don't know what happened to them. They just—so I ran. I heard about the freedom fighters, in Jedha. They had groups all over. I joined up with one in Wobani, we targeted prison transports. Saw came and choose some of us to join his main group. That's where I met Luccia. We were friends. And then he—I didn't want to die. I ran. I—I was scared.”

He started to cry. “I didn't realize he was crazy. Saw? He was losing it. He didn't trust anyone by the end. He said that someone had betrayed him. That everyone was out to kill him. They knew we were coming. The Empire. They knew we would target that lab in Eadu. And when Luccia died and I panicked, I ran into Saw and he...”

“What did Saw do, Janson?”

“He pushed me out of the way. They shot him and he just started laughing, saying that this time he would make it right. He told me to run, to find the scientist, but I didn't, I couldn't, I was—they had us pinned down. Saw set off some kind of explosion, took out part of their base. They started evacuating, I don't think they thought we would fight that hard. I don't remember much after, I was knocked out. When I came to, you guys were there and—are you going to try and kill me too?”

The woman started making some kind of reassuring speech. Chirrut tuned it out as he stood up. “He's telling the truth. He's scared, but he's being as honest as he can be. Allow me to speak to him.”

Dodonna nodded and spoke softly into the handset he held. The woman inside paused as she listened, nodding and sitting back farther in her chair. Chirrut was out the door, pausing only for the stationed guard to unlock it for him. He carefully felt his way forward, movements exaggerated.

“Mister Keplar. Do you know who I am?”

“You were with that girl that came to meet Saw. I saw you there.”

“Yes, I was. So you know we are on the same side. The rebels, the Alliance, the partisans, we all have one goal, just different ways to achieve it. What are you most afraid of, Mister Keplar?”

“Of dying...” he whispered, voice tight.

“Ah. But there is something you must understand. Death comes to all of us in the end. It is not always kind, though one can hope it will be. We must always strive to be the best we can, to do what is right with the time given to us. Fear is fine, but it cannot rule us. You, though, were very brave. You fought many times, from what it sounds like. You joined up with what you truly must have known was a death sentence. And still you fought. That takes courage. Might I ask you to be brave just one more time?”

“How?” he asked, hesitant.

“We can offer you safety, a new start. All we ask is that you tell us, honestly, all you know. You've done well so far, but there is much more we need. May I ask, what happened to your family?”

“I—I don't know. My father, I think they took him. My mom, she tried to fight, but—my sister was still in Datooine when I left, but I hadn't seen her in months. They locked down my village and I couldn't get back.”

Chirrut smiled and nodded. “I'm sure we can try and locate her. No guarantees, of course, but we can try. Would you like that?”

“Ye—yes. But what will happen to me?”

“That depends, Janson,” the woman said, making notes on the papers in front of her. “If you agree to help us, we will keep you here. There will be more interviews, and if your stories check out, then we will be giving you a choice of either continuing your fight with us or else being relocated somewhere. Right now, honesty is in your best interest.”

“What about Saw?” Janson asked, eyes dark. “I heard you guys have his body. What do you plan to do to him?”

“Saw Gerrera, for all his faults, was still an ally at one time as well as a veteran. He will be receiving a proper burial at some point in the future.”

Janson glanced back and forth between the woman and Chirrut, gently touching the bandage tied tight around his head. “I know what they were building. I saw a little bit of what it can do. It needs to be stopped. I'll help you.”

“Is that what happened to the outer buildings?” Chirrut asked.

“They had some kind of chemical stored there, along with a bunch of crystals. Saw said they were planning to hit it with some kind of energy source, that the explosion would be devastating. It needs to be stopped. I'll help.”

“Thank you mister Keplar. May the force of others be with you.”

As Chirrut stepped out into the hallway, he was meet by an angry Draven. “What the hell was that? Why would you promise anything to that man?”

“Because he has information we need. Or did you know any of that? Finding his sister will not be hard for you. And at this point in the war, do you really want another enemy? Would beating the information out of him really help? If you truly thought that, you wouldn't have asked me to sit in.”

“You were asked to sit in, not interfere!” he said, finger jabbing towards Chirrut's chest. With a growl, Baze stepped in front of him, blocking his path.

“Enough. Don't touch him again.”

Chirrut tapped Baze on the shoulder, silently asking him to move. “May I ask a question? Have I ever been wrong? In my judgments, have I ever been wrong?”

With a huff, Draven turned and walked back into the room, pulling Dodonna aside.

“I'm going to shoot him,” Baze threatened.

Sighing, Chirrut clasped him on the shoulder. “I think there might be a line for that.” Chirrut leaned against him. “Do you think I read the situation correctly?”

“You know you did.” Baze leaned forward and rested his forehead on Chirrut's. “Now is not the time to start letting them see any doubts.”

Chirrut snorted and gently hit him in the chest with his fists. “As if I'd ever let that happen.” He stood up straighter and tilted his head. “Which room next?”

“Here.” Baze gently turned him toward the others. “I'm staying next to you this time.”

“Ah, yes, make me the excuse for you to practice your murder stare.”

“Shut up or you'll be on the receiving end of it.”

“Yes, yes, love, whatever you say.”

Baze rolled his eyes, but pulled Chirrut close to him as they stood near Cassian as the next man was brought in. He glared at the woman as she read the file number, lips raised to show his teeth.

“Please state your name.”

“Fuck you, bitch.”

The interviewer took it in stride, bland smile in place. “I'll ask one more time. What is your name?”

“Hey, you want a name? First, show me a little action. I got a better use for that mouth.”

Cassian rubbed at his face, sighing. “Any one want to bet how long she'll hold out before she punches this guy?”

“Ten bucks says five minutes,” Chirrut said, laughing as he pulled Baze's arms tighter around his waist.

“Fifty, but she shoots him in the dick rather than punch him,” Baze said.

“Gentlemen,” Dodonna warned.

“Agent Haley is a highly skilled asset,” Mon Mothma said. “She'll make it ten before he regrets his words.”

True to Mothma's prediction, agent Haley was keeping her cool, even as the man was growing cruder and cruder. She had moved on from his name and had started asking about the raid the partisans had committed.

“Tell me about the raid.”

“What's there to tell. Saw got what was coming to him. He was fucked in the head. Not there anymore. Hey, want me to show you a fucking good time? Bet the other dickheads watching this shit show would enjoy it.”

“Just stick to the answers. How did he come about the location?”

“You know, it's not nice to ask about another guy while one's sitting in front of you. Hurts one's feelings.”

“Where did you get the location?”

“Found it in that cute ass of yours. Bet it's amazing. Why not show it off a bit?”

Agent Haley's smile was becoming more forced as a small vein started showing on her forehead.

“Look, babe, this isn't going to work,” the man said, smiling brightly. “We both know how this ends. I'm clearly superior to you, in every way. You'll never get me to say anything other than what I want to say. Saw was an idiot, mentally unstable. I made sure that he got what he deserved. He and all those other fools, they were nothing. You, though, you're a prime example of someone deluded by a corrupt system. They have you believing that you have a purpose other than providing pleasure. They let you think you're smart, and yet I have clearly won this round. You understand yet, hun?”

“Perfectly,” Haley said with a smile. She tapped away at the tablet before her, pulling up a report and linking it to the screen before them. “Thank you for confirming the facts we needed.”

“See, this is what I mean. You're such a little bimbo that you don't even realize you've lost.”

“No, I'm afraid it's you who have lost. What was it you said, 'Saw got what was coming to him'? We've been hearing, from several sources, about a possible spy within Saw's forces and it's just been confirmed.”

“You're twisting my words. Typical bitch.”

“Then would you care to comment on this?” She turned the tablet toward him and leaned back in her chair.

“What's this shit?”

“I'm sorry, I assumed you could read. Guess that just proves how 'stupid' I truly am. This is a communication from an Imperial agent to you stating where to lead Saw's men for capture. We found it back at his hideout. Saw was kind enough to contact us before the raid, but somehow all his forces didn't go where he planned them to. How much were you paid to set him up?”

The man screamed in rage and lunged at her. Baze cursed and ran for the door, ignoring the shouts behind him. The guard at the door already had it opened and was standing with his weapon drawn as agent Haley stood over the man's twitching body, tazer in hand. As his screams died out and he stopped moving, Baze and the guard grabbed his arms and hauled him to his feet. The guard secured him with handcuffs, stopping as Haley touched his arm.

“One more thing,” she said, waiting until the man was looking at her. She lifted her left foot, slamming the heel of her reinforced boot into his crotch. “Have a nice time downstairs. I'm sure they'll appreciate your humor.”

Chirrut started laughing as Baze helped drag off the man. “I've never been prouder to say that I taught her that.”

Dodonna and Draven were reading over the report that Haley had shown the man, comparing it to what they had already seen. “He's clearly one of the informants,” Dodonna said, showing Mon Mothma. “Saw wasn't as crazy as everyone thought.”

“Inform the others. Is our team still in place?” At Draven's confirmation, she nodded. “Good. See what else they find. Ask for Janson's assistance in this.” She frowned, pointing at a passage further down the page. “What is this part referring too?”

Draven frowned and leaned closer. “It looks as if he was in contact with more than one Imperial.” He narrowed his eyes. “That's the man we have in custody already.”

Cassian stepped forward. “The man that attacked Chirrut? You've identified him?”

“We learned who he was a week ago.”

“Why was I not informed of this?” Cassian asked, incredulous.

“It wasn't something you needed to know at the time.” Draven raised his hand to cut Cassian off. “Listen, I can't tell you everything that turns up. I need you to focus on the job assigned to you. Too much information can be just as bad as too little.” Draven crossed his arms at the petulant expression on Cassian's face. “Is this going to be a problem?”

Cassian glared at him but held his tongue.

Draven sighed and turned back to the report. “All we know is a name, nothing else. He is suspected of ties to the Empire, but we hadn't confirmed it yet. This might be the link we needed.”

Cassian walked back over to his corner and leaned his head against the wall. “What will it take to not tell Baze about this?”

“Baze won't really shoot him,” Chirrut said with a laugh.

“All the same, lets keep this between us, shall we?”

Chirrut clasped him on the shoulder. “Get me those pastries I like and you have a deal.”

Before Cassian could respond, Baze came back looking vaguely disgruntled. He moved close to Chirrut, who opened his arms and pulled him into a hug, whispering softly in his ear until Baze rested his head on his shoulder. Whatever Chirrut was saying finally succeeded in making him laugh under his breath, eyes closed as he whispered back. Cassian reluctantly cleared his throat, bringing their attention back to the present. “We should move next door, they're ready for us.”

“You okay?” Chirrut asked, concerned face turned toward Baze.

“No. Let's just get this over with.” Baze sighed as he straightened up. “I just want to go home.”
Chirrut gripped his hand tight.

Agent Haley was seated at the table in room seven, armed guard now standing behind her. She pressed the button to start the recording process, glancing at the stoic man in front of her. “Please state your name.”

“I know by now that you have that information readily available. In fact, I'd be highly disappointed if you did not. My stating my name will be of no consequence.”

“Then you do not deny that your name is Tark Sanda, currently a resident of Hosnia, formerly of Coruscant, Naboo, and Genosis?”

Sanda smiled serenely and tilted his head in agreement. “Pass on my appreciation to your intelligence department, if they are not currently witnessing this. I'm impressed.”

Haley smiled and adjusted the mic. “How long have you been with the Empire?”

“And now I am disappointed. How do you know I'm with the Empire? Why could I not just be a free agent, working for whomever will pay me?”

“Why were you in contact with Saw Gerrera's rebels?”

He slowly blinked at her, eyes hooded. “You tell me? Or is it really not obvious?”

“How did you bypass the checkpoints into D'Qar?”

“There are always those who are willing to betray others.”

In the observation room, Draven stiffened at his words. He turned toward Cassian, who nodded in agreement. They would have to investigate everyone yet again. Cassian mentally said goodbye to his thoughts of vacation.

“Why target one of our agents? Why not target the base instead?”

Sanda started laughing, eyes closed tight. “Had I been given free will on this, I might have. Though I will admit, we did not realize until much later whom we had targeted. The others were trying to send a message. Our orders were to target those working on a certain investigation, but as you can clearly see since none of them are sitting here, the others were imbeciles that couldn't even pull off a simple intimidation mission.” Sanda shifted slightly within the cuffs on his wrists and ankles. “Had they listened to me, more of them might still be out there fighting.”

“What was the ultimate goal with targeting Agent Imwe?”

“The goal? Kidnap. If that failed, then to kill him.”

Baze tensed beside Chirrut and reached for his hand.

Sanda had lost his smile as he continued. “I warned against it, but the others insisted. They did not seem to think that even the Allegiance would have use for a blind man. In truth, they chose him due to his closeness to Bothan's Malbus. Send a message.”

“And what was Malbus investigating that made your employers so nervous?”

“If you don't know that, you'll have to ask him yourself. I'll say nothing more on that front.”

“If you refuse to answer then I can always turn you over to those who will make you,” Haley warned.

“Do not threaten me, my dear. There is little that I fear and even less that will make me say more than I already have.”

Haley lowered one hand below the table to signal to the room if there was anything else they wanted asked.

“Ask about Saw again,” Chirrut said. Dodanna pressed the comm, watching as Haley acknowledged the prompt.

“Why is the Empire targeting Saw and his partisans?”

“Would you allow an irritant to keep bothering you? Besides, who is to say it did not accomplish a goal. It lead your forces there, did it not? Tracking works both ways.”

“We're done here,” Draven growled, arms crossed over his chest. Dodonna signaled for the guards to remove Sanda and turned to confer with Mon Mothma.

Chirrut poked a finger into Baze's cheek and frowned. “He can't see your murder stare.”

“Shut up,” Baze growled, pulling away from Chirrut's hand. “I'm allowed to make whatever face will make me feel better.”

Chirrut raised his eyes toward the ceiling. “Such a child.”

“I can't help it. Unlike some people I know, learning that my husband could have died because of me is not something that sits easy within me.”

“You underestimate my abilities,” Chirrut said, smiling.

“Chirrut, please. This isn't a joke. I—”

Chirrut placed his hands on his cheeks, pulling until Baze rested his forehead on his. “I know. I know how you feel. I'm not belittling things, but I can't take this seriously. Not here.”

Dodonna cleared his throat, clearly embarrassed to interrupt them. “I'm sorry, but we do have a few questions. Mr. Malbus, I'm afraid we will need to know what he was referring to in regards to your work with Bothan.”

“The Alliance is already aware. Contact Dawson if you need anything more specific; he has all the files.” Baze moved to stand in front of Chirrut. “Anything else? Or can we finally leave?”

“That will be all Mr. Malbus, Mr. Imwe. Thank you,” Mothma said, nodding them toward the door.

Baze looked questioningly at Cassian, who shrugged his shoulders before turning toward Draven.

Draven sighed and gestured toward the hall. “As much as I'd like to have you start investigating right this minute, I feel it would be best for you to get some rest first. Your team is dismissed.”

Cassian nodded and said to Baze, “I'll get the others and meet you by the car.”

“Jyn'll want to stay with Galen,” Chirrut warned.

“I'll figure something out. Give me a half an hour, at least.”

Baze mumbled something under his breath in Jedian making Chirrut snort. “Is the motor pool available?”

“Yes.”

“Good. We'll take that. Tell Bodhi we'll see him at home.” Chirrut grabbed Baze's arm. “Ready?”

“I want to go home,” Baze said, eyes pleading.

“Then let's go.”

~~~

Baze knocked softly on the door, waiting for Chirrut's snorted “come in” before entering the room. Chirrut was grinning from where he was balancing on the old mattress as he wiped the window next to the bed. The room was empty except for the single mattress in an old metal frame and a battered dresser tucked under the window. Chirrut spread his arms wide and gestured around. “Welcome to my new room!”

Baze leaned against the doorway and smiled back. Chirrut at fourteen was just as much a little shit as Chirrut at ten had been. “It's pretty empty, much like your head.”

“Hey hey hey! No insults, I just moved in. Give it some time. I'm about to go raid the storage sheds, see if anyone left things behind. Want to help? I was also thinking of going to the marketplace, see if I can trade for anything to decorate the walls.”

“Good thing its the disciples that take the vow of poverty and not the guardians, otherwise you'd have nothing in here at all.”

“You shut up. Hey,” Chirrut asked as he jumped down to the floor. “Why'd you knock before? You could have just come right in.”

“It's your room, it's polite to ask first,” Baze said, following Chirrut down the hall and toward the stairs. Chirrut rolled his eyes but held his tongue until they reached the back area.

“See if you can find any sheets and blankets. I'll look for curtains.”

“Want me to see if my parents have anything they plan to get rid of?” Baze asked as he opened a box. He cringed as he pulled out a gaudy bright red sheet set with a dark stain in the middle.

“I'd prefer something with less stains, please,” Chirrut said, sarcasm stronger than normal. “And I don't think your parents would agree to it, especially if you tell them it's for me.”

“My mom thinks you're okay. And Shana likes you.”

“Baze,” Chirrut said, frowning. “Quit lying. Your mom tolerates me--sometimes. She'd never give me stuff. Besides, I already asked Shana.” Chirrut started laughing. “Man, she really hates Kayla. What'd she do to incur the wrath of Sha?”

Baze contemplated the pile of cloth he had set aside. “Kayla might have made a comment about Shana dropping out of guardian training. It's kind of a sore subject in our house right now.”

“I can imagine. Sha would have been great. Hey, tell her if she wants to betray the family and become another black sheep she can share my room. We can get bunk beds!”

Baze shook his head at him and gathered up his finds. “You're an idiot. Come on, let's go and finish up.”

It didn't take them long to set everything up, even with having to move the bed entirely into the hallway in order to fit the rug Chirrut had insisted on dragging up the four flights of stairs; in the end, they had had to fold part of it under itself and place the bed back on top of it. Baze was sitting on the bed, watching as Chirrut slowly revolved in the center of the small room. He couldn't help smiling at the bright grin spreading across his friend's face.

“Welcome home, Chirrut.”

* * *

Chirrut was sprawled on his stomach across Baze's bed, arms and legs spread to take up as much room as possible. Baze stood over him, arms crossed over his chest. “Move.”

“No,” came the muffled response. “I like your bed. It's big and cushy. I'm never moving.”

“Chirrut, you're so annoying sometimes. Move over. I want to lay down too.”

Chirrut merely wiggled his hips, making the sheet that was barely covering his bare body slip dangerously lower.

“Fine. You asked for it.” Baze laid down on top of him, covering him from head to toe, fingers digging into his ribs, making Chirrut laugh and squirm.

“No fair tickling!”

“But crushing you is okay? I'll never understand your weirdness,” Baze said, kissing the shell of his ear.

“I like your weight,” Chirrut murmured, arching his back to push his ass back against Baze. “Among other things.”

Baze groaned and pinned his wrists to the bed. “Nick used to hate it when I pinned him down.”

“Then he was clearly an idiot.” Chirrut purred as Baze kissed the nape of his neck and ran his hands down his body. “Don't you dare get up.”

“Not even to...” Baze started whispering in his ear, making Chirrut moan when they were interrupted by a frantic knock on Baze's door. Growling, Baze climbed off the bed, pulling on sweatpants before tossing a blanket over Chirrut. He yanked open his door to find Shana standing outside, looking desperate. “Sha?”

“Thank god you're here! Please tell me Chirrut is with you?” Shana's eyes were wild as she tried to peer past him.

“He is, but he isn't decent. What's going on?”

“Shana?” Chirrut asked, walking up behind Baze wrapped in the blanket.

“There's a riot going on in the city. The whole area in front of the temple square is under lock down. Mom and dad called a bit ago, but they're stuck outside to the west. The phone lines are down now, so I can't get a hold of them. I thought you might be at the temple and I got scared. I left my car at Janie's and ran back here.” She pulled them both into a hug, tears running down her face. “Thank the force you're both okay.”

“Where are Tarah and Maya?” Baze asked, blood running cold. He pulled her closer toward him, grip tight.

“They're with mom and dad. They said they were going to try and get to Aunt Mira's.” Shana pulled back, wiping at her nose. “Baze...they're burning buildings. People—they shot some one outside the gates. I was so scared that you were there, the guardians were trying to bar the gates, it's on the news.”

“The disciples?” Chirrut asked. “The leaders, are they alright?”

“I'm not sure.”

“We'll be down in a moment. Let us get dressed.” Baze kissed the top of her head and walked back into his room.

“I need to get back,” Chirrut muttered, eyes wild.

“You heard Sha, everything is probably on lock down. You can't get back there.” Baze tossed him a set of his cloths before digging around under his bed.

“But they might need me. I need to—”

“Chirrut! Stop. I'm not letting you go.” Baze stood up quickly, pressing something metal into Chirrut's hands. “Please. I need you to be safe, I need you to stay here, at least until I know what's going on.”

Chirrut looked at what was in his hands, recoiling when he saw the knife. He wanted to ask how Baze had come by it but was unable to form the words. He startled as he heard a click, frowning as he watched Baze checking over a gun he had also pulled from the box under his bed.

“We need to find out what's going on first. Tomorrow, one way or another, we'll get to the temple. I promise.”

Chirrut could only nod, shaking slightly where he stood.

“Come on. Get dressed. We'll see what's on the news, figure something out.” He brushed his hand across Chirrut's check, kissing him softly. “Okay?”

Chirrut nodded dully and reached for the cloths. They smelled like Baze, something that helped settle him. After he was dressed, he allowed Baze to pull him into a tight hug, before guiding him down the stairs toward the living room. Shana was curled up in their dad's chair, TV on in the background. Baze placed the gun on the coffee table, setting the knife down next to it, before pulling Chirrut down next to him. They watched as fires raged and people ran screaming, some in fear, others like madmen. Now and then, they would hear distant sounds of fighting, but they remained safe in the house. Chirrut fell asleep just before dawn, curled up tight against Baze.

Around eight in the morning, the lock down restrictions were lifted. Baze reluctantly followed Chirrut back to the temple, eyes cold as they took in the destruction around them. The temple still stood tall, though evidence of the violence that had occurred was visible in the burns and blood stains along the outer walls. A few of the statues of ancient warriors in the market square had been knocked down, as well as the awnings that adorned the shops. Soldiers were visible on every corner, checkpoints set up throughout. They were asked more times then was comfortable to identify themselves before they were allowed to approach the gates into the courtyard.

Chirrut was practicality vibrating with nervous tension, sighing in relief once they were inside. He pulled Baze along with him as he rushed toward the main hall, sobbing as he saw the gathered monks and guardians. He allowed Master Irena to pull him into a tight hug, though he never released his grip on Baze's hand. Irena pulled them aside, explaining what had happened.

“There was so much fear and anger,” she said, clutching a cup of tea. “We tried to open the gates to those seeking refuge, but there were too many. The guardians finally locked the gates and stayed along the walls. The soldiers today are saying there is a civil war starting outside of Jedha, that the united countries are becoming involved. Jedha's leaders do not wish us to stay neutral, they are calling for the guardians to pick a side and fight.”

“I'll do what I can,” Chirrut said, leaning forward.

“Chirrut,” Irena said, voice chastising even as she cupped his face. “Child, while your dedication to the temple is to be admired, especially after how you were treated in your early years, you are young, merely eighteen. Neither you nor Malbus are fully fledged guardians yet, this is not your fight.”

“But this is my home!” Chirrut cried, fists clenched. “It's the only place I have, I want to defend it.”

“Sweet, dear boy, you are so young, I forget that sometimes. Home is not always a place; sometimes it is a feeling, other times a person. It can be physical or emotional. You'll see someday. For now, do not be too eager to fight for what is changing. Things will be alright, Chirrut. The force will guide us and protect us. All will be as the force wills it.”

Chirrut smiled a dull smile and settled back on his heels, Baze pressed close to his side. Baze took in the richly decorated room, gold leaf emblems mixed with carved wood and inlaid stone murals. It had always meant strength and tradition to him; for Chirrut, he knew, it had been home for far too long. Baze vowed then and there to do whatever he could to protect that feeling for him, regardless of what Irena had said.

* * *

The flight returning to Bespin had been long and crowded. Baze had struggled to keep his temper in check as the noise level in the plane rose to the point where he felt like he was losing his mind. Only the thought of Chirrut waiting for his return had kept him from actively going crazy; his tour had been extended against his will and he was ready to kill people by the time he was released. Finding the flight he was supposed to take overbooked, he had pleaded for any seat available; he had managed to snag the last row, middle seat. By the time the flight landed, his head throbbed and his knees hated him. He gathered his backpack from the overhead bin and followed the last of the screaming children out of the cabin and towards the baggage claim. As he waited for the bags to be unloaded, he once again checked the notes he had made after his last call to Chirrut the night before; his eyes locked on the sign pointing toward the reunion lounge as the light started flashing signaling that their bags were ready.

He watched dispassionately as people jockeyed for position, elbowing each other out of the way in order to grab the endless stream of gray and black suitcases; he leaned forward and grabbed his drab camo duffle bag, moving to follow the crowd through the halls. Like cattle, he thought, tension rising as he fought back the panic starting to rise. What if Chirrut wasn't there? What if he had gotten sick of waiting, not only for the flight (which had been delayed for several hours) but for Baze to return at all? What if he was mad at him? What if he'd been hurt, someone having taken advantage of him as he waited? What if he had the wrong date? What if—

He entered the room, heart racing as he watched people rush to reunite with loved ones, eyes scanning until he found what he sought. Standing near the back, dressed casually in a black tee shirt and blue jeans, white cane clutched tightly before him, Chirrut nervously rubbed his thumbs across the hand grip. Baze instantly felt some of his tension leave his body. He slowly walked toward him, scuffing his feet as he got closer, studying his husband's face with his too bright blue eyes. Chirrut tilted his head to the side, face frowning slightly as he breathed in Baze's scent.

“Chirrut...”

A wide grin broke out across Chirrut's face. “Baze.”

Sniffing, Baze swiftly pulled him into a tight hug, face pressed into the junction of his neck and shoulder as Chirrut raised his arms to clutch at his back. Baze sobbed softly against him, eyes closed tight as he felt Chirrut gently brush a hand through his hair; he could feels Chirrut's tears mixing with his against his cheek, could feel him snuffle as time went on. Gradually, reluctantly, he slowly released his tight grip and pulled back to study the face that had haunted his dreams, that had kept him sane in a horrible situation. Chirrut was smiling, leaning forward begging for a kiss, which Baze was only too happy to give.

“Welcome home,” Chirrut whispered.

Baze took his hand and squeezed it tight. “Are you alone?”

Chirrut nodded, face suddenly tired. “I took a taxi here. The driver was actually really nice, he walked me in this far. Sha sends her regards; she's sorry for what happened, but she was a big help getting me set up in the new apartment.”

“I'm going to kill them,” Baze growled.

“No, love, it's fine,” Chirrut said, gripping his arm tight. “It's worked out well. The new place is...interesting. It's got character. But the neighbors are nice. They're a young married couple and they've been helping me get settled. You'll like them. This will be better for us.”

Us. That word had a powerful effect on Baze, relaxing him further still. He pulled Chirrut toward him again, hugging him once more. “I trust you.”

“You probably shouldn't,” Chirrut laughed. “Come on, let's go try and find a taxi.”

Baze held tight to his hand as they walked side by side out of the airport. They checked in at the cab stand before settling in on the bench near the wall to wait their turn. Chirrut rested his head on Baze's shoulder. “This is nice. I think I finally get it.”

Baze hummed a question.

“I think I finally understand what master Irena meant. This,” he held up their clasped hands, “this is truly what home feels like.”

Baze couldn't agree more.

Chapter Text

Cassian finally gave up trying to make Jyn leave the base around two in the morning. He had tried pleading, threatening, and even bribed to no avail. Jyn was adamant that she stay with her father.

“Look, I appreciate your concern, but this is my father. He's all I have left. And while you might trust people here, I don't. There are too many that want him dead.”

“Mothma would never allow that to happen,” Cassian said.

“Regardless, it only takes a moment for an 'accident' to happen. I'm staying.”

Cassian opened his mouth to argue when Bodhi stepped in.

“I'll stay with Jyn.” Both stared at him as if he had grown another head. Bodhi started blushing, glancing down at his feet. “If Jyn wants to stay, I'm willing to keep her company. That way you can go rest and not worry.” He smiled a bit sheepishly before adding, “besides, I'm sure Chirrut and Baze would like some alone time.”

Cassian reluctantly relented, if only because by that point he was so tired he was seeing double. He asked for a second chair to be brought to Galen's room, reminding them both to call him immediately if anything happened during the night. He finally collected Kay from his office and headed home, managing to send a quick text to Baze before falling into bed still dressed. He was out within seconds; he failed even to notice when Kay came in to cover him with a blanket.

His dreams that night were not empty, though everything was indistinct, but he had learned long before how to rest during a mission without letting its events get to him. When the sun rose high enough to reach his head, he grumbled and pulled a pillow over his face. Kay wandered in not long after, asking if he was planning on getting up soon. He grunted a reply that may have meant “fuck off” (Kay was certain that he knew Cassian well enough by this point to accurately interpret for him, but chose to pretend he misheard) and burrowed deeper. Around nine, Kay was back to say that Chirrut wanted to know if they'd like breakfast; Cassian threw his phone at him and rolled onto his stomach. At eleven thirty, Kay was back to say that Bodhi had been trying to reach him and that Baze was on his way up.

Cassian rolled over and blearily tried to focus on Kay, frowning as his words finally registered. “Bodhi called? I never heard my phone go off.”

“That's because you threw it at me, which I don't appreciate by the way. Apparently Erso woke up early this morning, but didn't say anything. He wanted to know when you were planning on coming back. When I said that I didn't know, he said he would call Baze.”

Cassian jumped out of bed with a curse, scrambling to find clean cloths. “You and I will be having words later, Kay, just you wait. Tell Baze I need ten minutes.”

“Why should I be the messenger?” Kay asked, indigent.

“Because I said so.”

Cassian rushed to the bathroom, washing up and changing his cloths as quickly as he could. He wished he had time for an actual shower, but that could wait for later. He was pulling his boots back on when he heard Baze and Chirrut talking with Kay in the living room. He hurried out, eyes lighting up as he saw Chirrut holding a wrapped sandwich out for him. He bit off half of it in one go and held out his hand for Kay to give him his phone.

“Thank you for the food,” he said as they headed for the car. Kay had opted to stay behind (“I've had quite enough of being sneered at by that buffoon who thinks he knows what he's doing to last a life time,” Kay said, nose in the air as he settled in on the couch; “I'd rather sit here and watch paint dry.”)

Chirrut smiled serenely as he followed Baze, hand resting lightly on his shoulder. “I figured you'd be hungry and Baze was kind enough to make extras. I have some more in the bag for Jyn and Bodhi.”

“We left some with Kay, so he'll be fine,” Baze said, unlocking the car doors. “Bodhi said not to rush over, but he seemed kind of nervous. Jyn is refusing to let anyone in the room that is not a nurse or doctor, and then she demands that they narrate everything that they do before they do it.” He sighed as he pulled out of the driveway.

“He's not coping well,” Chirrut said.

“Admittedly, leaving him behind might not have been the best choice.” Cassian sighed and rubbed his eyes. “Maybe I should have made Kay stay.”

Chirrut started laughing. “They'd have probably killed each other.”

“I'm sure the med staff would have found it entertaining,” Baze muttered, pulling out his identification to show the guard at the gate. “But we were talking and we decided that if Jyn insists on staying, Chirrut would make a better companion.”

Cassian was startled. He watched as Baze took Chirrut's bag and helped him up. “Are you serious? You two never voluntarily spend time apart. Did something happen?”

Baze sighed and started walking away. Chirrut stumbled along beside him, hand once again on his shoulder, staff slowly swinging so that every now and then he gently hit Baze's ankle with it. Baze hip checked him and scoffed, but slowed his stride. “Nothing happened. We just feel that this might be for the best.”

“It's practical, really,” Chirrut said as they reached the building. “Even thought they have the reports from Dawson, Baze will need to be interviewed. Once Galen fully wakes up, he'll need to be interrogated. I'd like to be able to speak to him first, recorded obviously. Jyn's a strong girl, but she needs someone as support right now and while Bodhi is great, he's too anxious to be of help. Besides,” he added as they stepped into the elevator, “it'll be like Baze is on a mission. It won't be too bad.”

“And it won't be as bad as long as we're at base,” Baze said, though the confidence with which he spoke did not reach his eyes.

“And this way Baze can bring me lunch everyday,” Chirrut said with a grin. He stepped out the doors as they opened on the correct floor, turning to the right. Baze grabbed his shoulders and turned him around, pushing him toward the left with a sigh.

“I take it neither of you slept last night,” Cassian muttered under his breath. Baze shook his head. “This isn't necessary. Nothing will happen to Galen here.”

“Do you truly believe that?”

Cassian had no answer.

“Besides, it won't be for long. And I can come see him whenever I need to.”

“Forgive me, my friend, but you are not very convincing right now.”

Baze didn't answer, just hurried to catch up to Chirrut and guide him toward the right door.

Bodhi was pleased to see them as they checked in with security. He pointed them out to Jyn, who raised an eyebrow but stayed silent. She settled back in her chair, arms crossed over her chest and smirked at Cassian as he walked in.

“What do you want, Andor?”

“Good afternoon to you too.” Cassian stifled a yawn. “How much sleep did you get?”

“More that you, it would seem.”

Cassian smiled ruefully and turned toward Bodhi. “Then I'll give you a choice. You can take a nap in my office or head to the airfield for practice.”

Bodhi was puzzled. “I'm fine here. Besides, I was helping Jyn.”

“I'll take over for a bit,” Chirrut said, his cheerful smile at odds with the beeping equipment. “It'll give me something to do while mister grumpy over there is in briefings all day.”

Bodhi started to protest, stopping when he felt Jyn's hand on his arm. “I'll...go to the airfield, if that's okay.”

“Good,” Cassian said, glancing at his phone. “If you need to rest today, though, you can use my office. Apparently Draven already knows I'm here and wants me in a meeting. I'd better go so I can grab some coffee on the way.”

“I'll come with you,” Baze said, pushing Bodhi toward the door. “You,” he said, pointing toward Chirrut, “behave.”

“I always behave. I am a model citizen.”

“You're a model pain in the ass.”

“I could be later.”

Baze chose to ignore his comment and hurried away. Chirrut was laughing as Jyn pushed a chair in his direction. He settled in, resting his staff between his knees, and closed his eyes.

“You know, regardless of what people seem to think, I don't need a babysitter,” Jyn said, carefully brushing a loose strand of hair off her father's face.

“We know you don't. But Baze seems to think that I do, so here I am. Plus, I think that right now, you could really use a friend.”

“I had Bodhi for that.”

“Bodhi is a great guy, but if it came to a fight, would you rather have him or me protecting your father?”

“And Baze is okay with the two of you being apart?” Jyn asked shrewdly.

Chirrut grinned and shook his head. “We are grown adults and as such can spend time away from each other. Besides, it'll make the reunion all that much better,” he said, eyebrows wiggling.

“How much sleep did you get last night?”

“Very little and I loved it.”

Jyn snorted and leaned back in her chair.

“How about you? I heard from Baze that Galen woke up?”

Jyn sat up straight, mood sobering. “He did, though not for long. It didn't seem like he was aware of anything either. The doctor told me no to worry, that this was common, but...”

Chirrut leaned forward and patted her knee. “I can't promise that everything will be alright in the end, but I can tell you that you will always have a family with us, if you want it. We will help you in anyway we can, if you wish us to.”

“Do you think that my father will ever be seen as a good person again?”

“The bigger question is, do you see him as a good person?”

Jyn couldn't answer him; she instead focused on rolling her pendant between her fingers. “How did you really meet my mother?”

Chirrut sighed and settled back deeper in the chair, head leaning back. “She became my friend. It was right after I was blinded. I didn't have Baze, I was alone, and I was angry. Lyra was a remarkable woman, though I'll admit that at the time it took far too long for me to feel comfortable around her.”

“Why was that?”

“Try to imagine, a blind man, alone for the first time in a while, in a country that was foreign with no friends or family. I was scared and I hated that. Baze had left, thinking I would be okay, but that obviously didn't work out. I think that Lyra was lonely too. She had Galen, but not much else. She helped me set up my life, I helped her find her peace. It was all for the best.”

“Tell me about her,” Jyn quietly pleaded.

“I met Lyra one day in the spring, sitting in a rundown cafe in the older part of Bespin City. I had come to use the payphone, but realized I was a coin short. I was trying to figure out what bills I had in my wallet when she walked up and handed me some change. Said to use what I needed and return the rest after.” He smiled and settled in as the memories took over.

~~~

By seven that morning, Chirrut needed to get out of the house. He had been reluctant to go far since Baze had left (five months down, twelve to go), but today he had wanted to run, to escape. Shana had yet to return and he'd been unable to get a hold of her. He had started to feel like he was being watched in the house and was becoming more paranoid as time went on. He'd tried to be careful in his phone calls with Baze to never let on how he was feeling (he didn't want to distract Baze during this time; he need him to come home safely more than ever now), remaining cheerful to the point of losing his mind. His mental map of the city was small and incomplete, but he knew enough to locate the cafe a few blocks from his current living situation with only a few missed turns. He had proceeded to the payphone first, digging in his pocket to find change, sighing in frustration as he found far fewer coins than he expected. He carefully propped the white cane into the corner and pulled out his wallet, heart dropping as he realized that none of the edges had been folded properly. He could have sworn that he had had the bank attendant do it for him, and had even checked her work after. This just confirmed to him that he couldn't trust anyone in that house. He bit his lip, wondering if he could trust the clerk enough not to lie to him when he heard someone clearing their throat behind him.

“Sorry, sorry,” he mumbled, trying to grab his cane and step aside.

“No, no, it's okay. I just wanted to see if you needed any help.”

Chirrut tilted his head at the voice. The woman sounded young and sincere, no pity evident, just a natural instinct to help others. He heard a strength in he voice that made his temper die down and his shoulders sag. “Thank you and I hate to have to ask this, but what bill is this?” He held up what he was hoping was a five note, mentally crossing his fingers.

“It's a single.”

Swearing softly, he gripped his cane tighter. “Are there any fives in my wallet?”

He could sense her hesitating, before she finally said, “no, just two other singles.”

“Thank you.” He wanted to scream in rage, instead clutching the bill and putting his wallet back. This was going to change his plans; he'd only have enough for one phone call now, especially if they put him on hold, which they certainly would do.

“Here,” the woman said, tapping his hand. She dropped a fist full of coins into it. “Use whatever you need and just give back the rest after. I'm in the booth in the far corner.”

He started to protest, but the woman cut him off. “I'd help you even if you weren't blind. If it bothers you, you can always buy me a cup of coffee after.”

Nodding, he turned back toward the phone. Now was not the time to let his pride win out. He sorted the coins out in his palm, calculating how many minutes he had. He dialed the number, listening with trepidation to the rings before a bored voice answered. “Republic Allies Veterans Affairs. How can I direct your call?”

“Housing please.”

“One moment.”

He sighed as the bland generic hold music took over, resting his head on the wall above the phone. After a bit, the phone prompted him to insert more money; another coin bought him a few more minutes of waiting. He startled as the call was finally answered, another bored voice advising him that he had reached the housing office and to state his name.

“Chirrut Imwe, service number 01984251, Jedha division.”

“And what is the nature of your call?”

“I'm looking for a new place to live and I need some assistance due to my disability.” He hated that word with a passion, but there were times when it could come in handy.

“Are you currently being housed through our program?”

“Not exactly. My husband is still serving and I was staying in a house with his sister and her roommates, but I need to move out. However, it's pretty hard to fill out applications when you're blind. I do receive a stipend through the program each month toward rent.”

“Are you seeking a higher stipend?”

“No, I'm not looking for more financial assistance. I merely need to find a room or an apartment to live in.”

“One moment while I review your file.” He sighed as the hold music came back. Chirrut had fed two more coins into the slot before the impersonal voice returned. “Mister Imwe? I'm afraid that due to having your own housing, you might no longer be eligible for assistance if you move. I can set you up with a representative and you can argue your case. Please make sure you bring all of your paperwork, including birth and marriage certificates, discharge information, housing paperwork, pay stubs, and unit information, including for your husband. The first available appointment I can give you is in four weeks.”

“Four weeks!” Chirrut yelped, hand clenching around the phone.

“We currently have a backlog of files to deal with. I'm afraid it's the best I can do.”

“Thank you,” he mumbled. “I'll be there. What's the address again?”

After he hung up the phone, he stood for a moment, desperately trying to remain calm. I am one with the force and the force is with me. All is as the force wills it. I am one with the force and the force is with me. Everything will be fine. He was not looking forward to having to tell Baze about this later, though he would have to before he found out from the service itself.

He turned toward the booth where he knew the woman was still waiting, signaling to the waitress to bring two cups of coffee. He settled into the bench opposite her, smiling as he handed back the change. “I thank you for that. It was very kind of you.”

“I don't believe it was a kindness,” she said. “I believe it is our duty to help others as we can and to pay it forward. Besides, it seems from your expression that things didn't work out they way you were hoping.”

Chirrut laughed softly and shook his head. “I keep trying to tell myself that all is as the force wills it, but sometimes its hard.”

“You believe in the force?” the woman said, surprised.

“I do, even if it is no longer as popular as it once was.”

“Did you ever visit the temple of the Whills?” The woman leaned forward in excitement. “I went once, while in high school. I wish it was still around, I'd love to visit again.”

“I actually lived there, I was one of the guardians.” He thought for a moment, before taking a leap. “My name is Chirrut.”

“I'm Lyra. Lyra Erso.”

* * *

Over the next few weeks, Chirrut and Lyra met up at various locations and had far reaching conversations about the force, science, literature, and politics. It allowed Chirrut to spend less time in the house while being able to cope with missing Baze easier. He found Lyra a delightful companion; he learned that she was married (and in fact, had married fairly young to a fellow student). He had recently taken a job as an intern at a research lab in Bespin. They weren't planning to stay long in the country and as such, Lyra was bored. She had taken to writing articles on the local geology and was attempting to sell them to a science journal.

Chirrut looked forward to those days, using them to mark the time until he had another phone call from Baze. Their weekly conversations often left him shaky after, fighting back tears, as he mentally counted down the days until they would see each other again. Lyra was usually able to make him laugh the next day, thus setting things right for the following week.

Things were not going as well on the living situation side of things. He had managed to argue successfully to keep his stipend, but they were reluctant to move him. “Housing situations are stretched thin right now, especially in Bespin. If you were willing to relocate—”

“That's not an option right now.”

“We'll keep looking, but it's not hopeful.”

That night, when he returned home, he was meet by his roommates at the door.

“What's this?” he asked, cane held tight in his hands.

“Look, man, it's nothing personal,” Tekk started, nervous. “But there is an issue with the lease.”

Chirrut stayed silent, eyebrow raised.

Marcon sighed and elbowed Tekk. “Want to sit down?” He asked Chirrut.

“I'm good with standing here.”

“Fine,” Marcon said. “Look, we're concerned with the lease. If our landlord comes in and sees that you're here instead of Malbus, it could mean trouble for us.”

“Shana said she had permission to let me stay under her name.”

“Shana's an idiot that doesn't know what she's talking about,” Gordon growled from the back.

“Shut up,” Marcon hissed before turning back in Chirrut's direction. “We don't want any problems here. We think you either need to leave or to pay more in rent. We've been letting you skate by because of Shana, but she isn't here right now, nor have we heard from her. To be fair, we'd also be asking her to pay more.”

“How much more?” Chirrut asked, dread filling his chest.

“Five hundred.”

He sputtered, hands tightening. “That's too much!”

“Then leave. It's your choice.”

Chirrut mulled over his options, sighing as he realized he had none. “Fine. I'll pay it. But I'm changing the locks on my door.”

He heard an angry sniff from the back before Marcon agreed. He slowly trudged up the stairs, tired in more ways that one. Eleven months, he told himself. He could survive for eleven more months.

* * *

In the end, against everything he wished for, he asked Lyra for help. “Do you know of anyplace that's renting? Preferably under nine hundred?”

Lyra had paused in their walk and turned to face him; Chirrut could sense it. “Is everything okay?”

Chirrut hesitated. He had told her a bit about the problems he had been having, without going into detail. “Not really, but I'm not ready to discuss it.”

“Fine,” Lyra sighed. “I'll keep an eye out. Maybe a place will open up in our building. We could be neighbors! That'd be nice.”

Chirrut laughed as they continued down the pathway in the park. “It would make coffee dates much more convenient.”

Lyra patted his arm and turned him toward the path to the right. “Maybe I'll look for a two room apartment. Rent might be a bit cheaper.” She grinned. “Think Baze would like that when he comes home?”

“It'd be better than where we currently are.”

“I'll start looking tonight.”

* * *

Chirrut had managed to survive for six months after the rent increase before he couldn't take another day. Lyra had been actively looking at places, but it was evident that even with combining their incomes, two room places were out of their league. He had been back to the housing office nine times, each time being told that the only option they had for him was a room in a boarding house (putting him back in the same situation) or that he could stay put.

He had been able to reach Shana two months before; she had been livid to learn that they had charged him more, but the call had been cut short before he could tell her about the other problems. The thefts had continued; he had spoken to the police, but was unable to prove what had actually been there before. He had finally given up and took to carrying a bag around with his most important possessions at all times.

It was becoming harder and harder not to let it all slip out when he was talking with Baze. “Chirrut. What's wrong?” Baze asked one evening. Chirrut had fallen silent, fighting back tears as everything came to a head. He had wanted to tell him, to unload all his burdens, but Baze was still so far away and unable to help; worrying him would do nothing but put him in danger. “Chirrut?”

“I'll be okay Baze. I don't want to talk about it right now. I just...I miss you so much.”

“I miss you too. I wish I could be there. I know something is wrong, you never could lie convincingly to me. But you don't want to tell me, so I won't press the issue. Is it because you don't want me to worry?”

“Yes,” Chirrut whispered, phone clutched tight in his hand.

“Fool. I always worry when I can't keep an eye on you.” Chirrut laughed at the fond exasperation he could hear in Baze's voice. “You always were the reason we got into trouble so often.”

“Hey now.”

“I love you, Chirrut. It'd be better if you just told me.”

“It's fine, Baze. All is as the force wills it. Things will be okay.” Chirrut smiled as he heard Baze huff. “Faith, Baze. You used to have it.”

“I used to have you by my side to remind me that good things still happened. Now, I'm not sure if I believe that anymore. It's so...there's so much...I hate this place.”

“Soon, love. You'll be back soon. I love you Baze. Stay safe. You promised to return to me. I won't let you break it.”

“Might not have a choice. They're sending us on a mission soon, deep cover. I don't know if I'll get to contact you for a while.”

“Then all the more reason for you to not worry. I want you to focus on the mission, so I'll tell you only good things. For example, I love you very much. I think about you every day. And I am currently not wearing anything while I am talking to you.”

“Chirrut! How is that last one supposed to help!”

Chirrut was still laughing when the tone sounded marking the final minute of the conversation. “I love you Baze. Please return to me safely.”

“I love you too Chirrut. Protect yourself in anyway you need to.”

“See you soon.”

“I love you.”

The call abruptly ended, leaving Chirrut listening to the dial tone. “I love you too,” he whispered, hanging up the phone. He curled up on his side, Baze's pillow clutched to his chest. Five months, he thought. It felt like forever.

* * *

Shana returned in a blaze of glory, laying into her housemates. Chirrut sat in what was once his room, now hers once again, listening to the fight raging downstairs. He hadn't heard from Baze in more than a month, something he was trying not to let worry him. He knew the fighting was increasing, that more countries were becoming involved with each passing week. He would ask Lyra on their near daily meet ups to check the lists of missing or dead, relaxing for a moment when Baze's name never appeared.

The sounds from downstairs were starting to get to him. Grabbing his jacket, he decided it was time to take a walk. He carefully maneuvered the stairs, sweeping each one cautiously with his cane, before stepping into the kitchen and the middle of a different kind of war zone.

“You had no right!” Shana screamed, finger in the face of Gordon.

“The hell we didn't! We signed the fucking lease, not him! It was our right. You don't like it, then move out.”

“I found this place! I negotiated the terms making it affordable,” Shana spit out, hand slamming down on the table. “I was in contact with the landlord, and he was fine with the arrangement. You—!”

Chirrut cleared his throat, hands twisting his cane. “None of you will have to worry anymore.
I'll leave soon.”

“Chirrut, no. You don't have to,” Shana started, reaching for his arm. Chirrut pulled away from her, backing toward the door. “You and Baze are welcome to stay. These idiots will pay for this, the lease was in my name—”

“Sha, enough. I'll be back later. But I'm done, okay?”

He didn't wait for a response, just hurried out into the yard and out the back gate. By now his map of the city was quite thorough, thanks to Lyra dragging him around on adventures. Galen would join them now and again, but he was usually content to sit at home with his research when he wasn't working. He followed the streets toward his favorite park, finding a bench near the edge of the cliffs empty and settled in. He closed his eyes, and allowed himself to feel the sun on his face and the gentle wind blowing. He let his mind clear, remembering his meditation practices from childhood and soon lost himself in repeating mantras. When he slowly came back, hours had passed but he was feeling better. More at peace. He could tell that the sun was beginning to set and as much as he was reluctant to, he knew he needed to return to the house. With a sigh, he stood up and slowly started walking.

He was a few blocks south of the park when he heard someone calling his name. He frowned, recognizing Lyra's voice; he waited for her to catch up.

“I'm glad I found you! I've been looking for you.”

“What's wrong?”

“There's an open apartment in our building. I talked to the landlord and he said if you came by tonight, he'd be willing to rent it to you. Hurry!” she grabbed his arm and started pulling him, making him laugh.

“Slow down. There's no hurry.”

“The hell there isn't. This is what we've been waiting for. I'm not letting you miss this.”

“All is as the force wills it,” he laughed, relief coursing through him. “Lead on, my dear.”

The landlord was waiting for them; he was reluctant at first to show Chirrut the room, but relented under Lyra's verbal assault. Chirrut stood behind her and laughed; Lyra in a mood was a sight to behold. She could easily hold her own against anyone or anything.

The room was far from perfect. It was small, barely big enough for one, let alone two grown men. It had a small bathroom attached and a kitchenette and came furnished with an old bed frame. Chirrut thought it was perfect.

“I'll take it. What's the rent?”

“Nine eighty.”

“It's perfect. When can I move in?”

Lyra helped him fill out the paperwork, her glee barely contained. She pulled him into a tight hug before sending him on his way. His mood was still high when he returned to the house; he was relieved to encounter no one as he mounted the stairs, though his luck failed as he reached his former room. Shana was sitting on the bed, waiting for him.

“Where the hell were you?”

Chirrut raised an eyebrow as he removed his jacket. “I could ask you the same thing. Where were you? I tried contacting you numerous times.”

“I do defense work, Chirrut; I'm pretty much in hiding at times. But I asked you a question. Where were you today?”

Chirrut pulled a chair over and sat down. “I went out to meditate. It's hard to find peace here sometimes. Then a friend told me about an apartment, so I signed the paperwork. She's going to help me move out this week.”

“Chirrut,” Shana started, pausing with a sigh. “Don't. Don't do anything rash. Baze asked me to watch out for you—”

“Sha. It's my choice. We couldn't stay here forever. This was only supposed to be temporary. Besides, would you really want to share a room with us once Baze returned? We are married, after all.”

“Can't be any worse than high school. I shared a wall with Baze, you know,” she said, eyes rolling. “You two weren't exactly discrete.”

Chirrut grinned, eyes bright. “Can you blame me? Your brother is hot. And amazing in bed. He's really good at—”

“Stop! Please, I really don't want to think of Baze that way.” She rubbed her face before reaching for his hands. “I'm serious, though. You don't have to leave. I can get you another place if you don't want to stay with me. Or I could take you back to Jedha; you could stay with our parents.”

“Jedha's a war zone. Do you really think Baze would like it if you took me there? And besides, your parents hate me. They always have, but it got worse after Baze and I started dating. They'd never let me in that house.”

“Then come with me, I'll find someplace we can all go.”

“No. I need to do this. I feel that it's the best choice. Besides, I have my friend helping me right now.”

“Are you sure you can trust her?”

“More than I trust Gordon.”

“Was it him? That broke the lock?”

“I think so. Tekk, he seems to stupid to mastermind something. Marcon is okay.”

Shana was quiet for a moment. “Fine. But you're staying with me until I can check out this new place.”

“Fine. I'll take the floor.”

“Get your ass in the bed, Chirrut.”

“I'll have you know that I'm a married man,” he said, feigning shock.

“I remember,” Shana said, snorting. “I was one of your witnesses.” She moved over, turning away as he changed his clothes. “You get the wall side.”

“Why are all you Malbus's so bossy?” he asked as he settled in. He squirmed around a bit, face screwed up. “This is my first time sleeping with a woman. I can't say I'm enjoying it.”

Shana smacked him on the head.

“Ow! How dare you hit a blind man! I'm definitely telling Baze about this.”

“Shut up you fool.” Shana turned off the light and settled in. “Hey, Chirrut? Why did my parents hate you? They never hated any of Baze's other partners.”

“Ah. That'd probably be my fault. I didn't exactly make a great first impression.”

“I remember you threw food at Baze.”

“That would have been part of it. And the fact that I was a temple rat. No family in good standing would like their kid dating someone like that. And my father wasn't exactly liked by your family. He was a known thief of the artifacts your parents legally sold. Plus the whole gay thing didn't help.”

“They didn't have an issue with Nick or Todd.”

“Yeah, but they probably never walked in on one of them topping their son.” He covered his face as he felt Shana aim another blow at him. Laughing, he pushed at her, turning onto his side. “They had to walk in the first time we tried it. I've never seen your brother blush so hard. He was pretty damn cute.”

“I take it you've never done that since?”

“Oh, no. We've tried it a few times, we just prefer it the other way. I thought you didn't want to hear about your brother's sex life?”

“Goodnight Chirrut.”

* * *

Lyra managed to get Galen to help on moving day, not that Chirrut and Baze had a lot of possessions to begin with. Since the temple had fallen, they had learned to live light, first due to the fact that being on their own was expensive and then due to the fact that they had both joined the United Republic military. They had stored most of their important items with trusted friends years before they joined up (a tea set that had belonged to Baze's grandfather, books from the temple library that Tori had been both upset about and thrilled when she learned that Baze had “forgotten” to return, heavy winter cloths, and a small box containing mementos from Chirrut's mother) and had only a few boxes with them before Baze was redeployed. Galen was his usual quiet self, lost in thought as he planned out his next project, smiling in a distracted way as Lyra handed him boxes to load in the car. She and Shana had glared at each other, neither trusting the other fully. Chirrut had laughed and said that even a blind man could see the tension; neither found it funny.

Chirrut didn't mind the tension, nor did he mind the snide comments thrown back and forth. He was happy to be moving on. In just over three months, Baze would be returning and life could finally get back to normal. He had made sure to contact Baze's unit and leave his new number for whenever Baze returned to base. All his paperwork had been filed and utilities set up. Lyra had become his emergency point of contact, much to Shana's displeasure, but Chirrut had explained that it made sense, especially since Shana's job threatened to transfer her permanently to Coruscant. “It's my choice, Sha. Let me have this one thing at least.”

That night, as he sat in the strange room alone for the first time, listening to the unknown noises of his as yet unseen neighbors (he laughed in his head a little at this description), he found himself missing Baze more than ever. Deep down, he was worried about him; they had never gone this long without contact and while Chirrut knew that he was probably safe (he knew by now he would have been contacted if anything had gone wrong), he couldn't help the fears that kept popping up. And if he fell asleep that night clutching an old shirt of Baze's, only he would ever need to know that.

Maybe it was because he had been thinking of Baze so much, or maybe the force decided to play fair for once, but at the end of the week, Chirrut's phone rang.

“Chirrut Imwe?” asked the harried voice over a static filled line.

“Yes?” he said, feeling nervous. He knew this voice well, though not by name. She was usually the one that announced Baze's calls along with their time limits. Normally, she sounded calmer, if not bored, as she went through her prompts, reminding them that all calls were to be monitored and to not discuss any information about the war. This was new and left him feeling disoriented.

“Direct call from Sargent Baze Malbus. Two minutes.”

“Wait, what—”

“Chirrut?”

Chirrut's breathing sped up, becoming labored as he heard Baze's voice for the first time in too long. He gulped, quickly pulling himself together as he remembered that they didn't have the luxury of time. “Baze. Are you alright? It's been so long, is everything okay?”

“Chirrut—” the connection faded for a moment before clearing. “Forget about me, I'm fine.” Chirrut could hear in his voice that he wasn't, not truly, but let him finish. “What about you? Why the new number? What happened?”

“It's nothing, Baze. I just decided that we needed our own place, since you're coming home soon.”

“Chirrut—”

“Baze, love, please, I don't want to talk about this now, I'll explain everything later—”

“Chirrut! They're not letting me come home.”

Chirrut clutched the phone tighter, hoping he had misheard. “What?”

“My time got extended. They're keeping me here longer, they can't say yet how long. They might be moving me as well.”

“No...nononono! They can't! You, you were only supposed to finish out your term. How—why—Baze, no!” He wanted to cry, throat tightening.

“Chirrut, I'm sorry. I want to come back, but I can't. There was a problem, an entire battalion got wiped out and the republic lost ground—”

“This information is private!” the voice broke in, cutting off Baze mid-sentence. “This call is to be ended.”

“No!” Chirrut shouted. “We still have a minute left! Put him back on!”

“Chirrut! I love—”

The dial tone was deafening, even as Chirrut's ears rang with shock. With a sob, he dropped the phone and pulled his knees up to his chest. His world was turning upside down again; when he had lost his sight, he had felt unmoored, unstable, but he had had Baze to help him. Now he just felt lost in the darkness and it hurt in ways he couldn't even begin to express.

* * *

After three days, Lyra picked his lock and entered his room.

“Get up,” she demanded, voice lined with steel.

Chirrut sluggishly rolled over, pulling his pillow over his head.

“Up!” she yelled, grabbing his foot and pulling him out of bed.

With a shout, he caught himself just before hitting the floor. His face screwed up in anger and he turned in her general direction. “What is wrong with you!”

“I should ask you the same thing. Get up. This is ridiculous. No more moping around. When did you last eat?”

Chirrut looked away, refusing to answer.

“That's what I thought. Enough of this. I am your friend, and I'm not going to allow this anymore. What's the number to call Baze?”

Chirrut frowned, head tilted. “Why? You can't call him. They won't let him take calls unless they're an emergency. I always have to wait for him to call me.”

“You underestimate just how ruthless I can be. Now. What's. The. Number?”

Chirrut listened with a mix of wonder and horror as Lyra ran her way through multiple channels, never allowing herself to be diverted. She was like a bulldog, holding her ground and finding the smallest of openings in which to twist things to her favor. She smiled when she found herself connected to the call center for Baze's unit.

“I'm Mister Imwe's personal assistant. I need to speak to Sargent Malbus immediately.”

“Listen lady,” the thready voice came through the phone; Lyra had it tilted away from her ear just enough to allow Chirrut to hear; “I don't know how you made it this far, but unless this is an emergency, you need to hang up before you're investigated by Republic Services.”

“I do consider this an emergency. Earlier this week, Mister Imwe's call with his husband was cut short, before he had a chance to confirm he was fine. He was told that his husband was having his service forcibly extended, which is against the rules, seeing as he was pulled back into service after being dealt a grievous injury while serving. Imwe was blinded in the same attack and was not fully recovered when his husband was redeployed. He's been without contact with his husband, his sole support system. Are you telling me that you're willing to deny a disabled veteran a chance to speak to someone voluntarily serving?”

There was a long pause before a timid “hold please.”

Chirrut snorted as Lyra huffed out a breath. “Quite the speech there. Do you really think it'll work?”

“Hey, I earned a free ride through college with my ability to argue that I should be allowed to apply for scholarships I was in no way qualified for. I never doubt what I'm able to do.” She listened to the voice as it returned and stated that she would have exactly three minutes. “Here.”

Chirrut took the phone with a shaking hand, sightless eyes wide as he heard Baze's voice tentatively calling his name. “Baze.”

“Chirrut? What's wrong, you never call me, is everything okay?”

“No, but it will be. We got disconnected last time and I didn't know if you were okay.”

“I'm fine.”

“Clearly now, but you weren't then. Baze. Please tell me the truth. Last time, were you okay?”

Baze's sigh was faint across the line, but Chirrut picked up on it. “No. I was in the infirmary last time. Concussion. We came under fire, but no one was seriously hurt. They're releasing me today.”

“Why wouldn't you tell me?”

“I didn't want you to worry. It's bad enough that I here and can't help you, I don't want you to worry about me as well.”

“Idiot. I love you, of course I worry.”

“And I worry about you too. Why did you move? You were hedging the issue last time. What happened?”

Chirrut hesitated until he felt Lyra's hand on his shoulder. “Tell him,” she whispered.

“I...there were problems, at the house. Sha already took care of it, but I needed to leave. I'll tell you everything later, maybe have someone write you for me.”

“I'll kill them.”

“Baze, no, it's okay. This will be better. I promise. I'm happy here. Well, I will be once you are back.”

“But nothing is set up for you,” Baze said, voice desperate.

“Actually, that's not true. I made a friend, she's been helping me. She got this call through for me,” Chirrut said, sounding proud.

His statement was met by silence, followed by a long suffering “Chirrut....”

Chirrut laughed, facing lighting up. “You'll like her, I promise.”

“We'll discuss this in detail when I get home,” Baze warned.

“Yes, yes. I'm sure we will.” Chirrut bit his lip, smile fading. “Do you know when that'll be? I know you can't say anything, but an idea?”

“I don't know. We had several people get hurt recently, but they've been making them come back. I'm here until they get more soldiers. I don't want to be, but I am. I just....”

“It's okay, love. It won't be forever. This war can't go on much longer.”

“I hope not.”

“And, hey! When you get back, at least we have our own room. I've really missed you.”

“Chirrut! That is completely unfair making me think of that right now!”

Chirrut was still laughing when the warning came that the call was ending. “I love you,” Baze said, “but I wish you wouldn't trust everyone after first meeting them.”

“I trusted you, didn't I? I love you too Baze. May the force of others protect you. We'll see each other soon.”

He didn't notice the tears as he hung up the phone; he felt calmer, even as his heart hurt thinking about how long it could be until they saw each other again. Lyra pulled him into a hug, making he jerk before relaxing in her arms.

“Courage. Things will be right soon.”

* * *

“What can you tell me about the Whills?”

Chirrut looked up with a frown. He was practicing his stretches as part of his therapy while Lyra mirrored him across the room.

“What did you want to know?”

“Everything. I visited the temple in Jedha once, but it was only for an hour. I wish I could have seen more. Did you ever work with the Jedi's?”

“We did. Our philosophies and fighting forms were very similar. The Whills were the protectors of kyber, among other things.”

“What was it like, being around kyber all the time? Jedha had so much of it at one time.”

Chirrut's head tilted. “Did you never get to see kyber?”

“Only a few small samples while I was in school.”

Chirrut thought for a moment before standing up with a grunt and moving toward the dresser by the bed. He dug around in the drawer before pulling out the carved kyber crystal, the mate to the one Baze still carried. “Here,” he said, holding it out. “Take a look if you'd like.”

Lyra slowly reached for it, hand shaking. “Is this a focusing crystal?”

Chirrut shrugged a shoulder, settling down on the bed. “It could be, if someone wanted to try and use it as one. Hit it on the floor. Don't worry,” he added, sensing Lyra's hesitation; “it won't break. Kyber is strong, it can only be broken if there is a flaw or if you use special tools.”

Lyra rolled it in her hands, watching it catch the light. She lifted it up, preparing to strike it.

“Go on. Trust me,” Chirrut said with a calm smile.

She lowered it swiftly, knocking its tip against the ground. She gasped as a sharp humming started, growing into a ringing melody that filled the room. She found herself relaxing as the sound grew, filling her mind and soul with thoughts of peace and contentment. She was smiling by the time the sound started to fade. “That's amazing! Is that normal?”

“Yes, though not everyone is able to hear the sound. Kyber is an interesting compound.”

“I've heard rumors over the year that different groups keep trying to figure out how to use it as a weapon.”

“It's probably possible, but it wouldn't be cost effective. It's not cheap to mine and as far as I know, there as no commercial tools available that can refine more than one stone before needing to be resharpened.”

“And yet this one is carved.”

“It is. I carved it. Spent almost a week on it and it's partner. Had to use hand tools that needed to be repaired after a few passes. Like I said, it's not cheap to work with.”

Lyra handed it back, reluctantly. “It's beautiful.”

Chirrut smiled as he put it away. “So, you never told me how the interview went. What'd they say?”

“It was okay. I think I'll get the job. Now it's just getting Galen to go along with it. We'd make more money if he'd apply too. I mean, I know he loves research, but we need to save up, especially if the war continues.”

“I'm sure you'll be able to convince him. He usually listens to you.”

“True. I just need to keep him away from his old friend. There's a recipe for disaster.”

“I'm sure you'll be fine. We can pray to the force about it, if you'd like.”

Lyra studied him where he sat perched on the edge of the old mattress they'd dragged up four months before. His eyes, a cloudy blue, were staring at the wall. The light from the small window caught on the scars slowly fading along his face and arms. He still had a slight limp, though that was beginning to disappear. She asked, curious, “how are you able to still believe in anything after all that's happened?”

Chirrut gave the question that consideration it needed, weighing his thoughts. He answered slowly and truthfully. “It's hard, each day, to remember that things could have been different. I think about what I lost. There has been so much bad stuff over the years, I should clearly hate the force and the Whills, but I can't. It brought so much to me too. It brought me Baze, and as of yet, has let me keep him. That's enough for now. I can be happy with just that.”

Lyra reached over and took his hands. “I'd love to learn more about the force. Will you teach me? How to accept whatever may come?”

“I will teach you about the force if you can teach me how to read people again.”

“Deal.”

* * *

Chirrut was walking back to the apartment one day, bags of groceries in his arms, lost in thought. His phone calls from Baze were few and far between; whenever they were able to talk, Baze sounded tired and desperate. Chirrut tried to tell him funny stories, and usually he could get a laugh out of him, but he worried about him. He had had Lyra write a few letters for him, trying to send Baze little notes or treats, but he knew that more than anything what Baze needed was to come home.

He was nearing the corner when he heard a shout from behind him. Frowning, he stopped in his tracks, listening for the source. He heard a set of footsteps running up behind him. On instinct, he moved closer to the wall; at the last second, following an urge that he couldn't quite understand, he stuck his cane out, tripping one of the men that was running by. He heard him shout and crash to the ground. He would have felt bad, except that he could hear the old man that ran the corner mart yelling that he was a thief.

“Oh dear, I'm so sorry,” Chirrut said, trying to act innocent. “I didn't see you behind me.”

The man jumped up, cursing him. He shoved Chirrut aside and took off again. Chirrut stumbled but didn't fall; he was listening behind him again, glad to note that his little move had slowed the man down enough that the police who were arriving would be able to see where he went. He was about to return to the store and see if any help was needed when he heard another set of foot steps running up. He recognized the scent of the runner as they raced by. “Lyra?”

She raced past without stopping, gaining quickly on the men. Chirrut started after them, stopping when he hear one of the men yelling in pain. The police came up behind him and he pointed them after Lyra. With a laugh, he continued on home, ignoring the cries coming from the next street over. He was half way up the stairs when he heard Galen call out a greeting.

“Good morning. Have you seen Lyra today? She went out for a run and hasn't returned.”

Chirrut grinned and nodded back over his shoulder. “She was running alright. Some idiots tried to rob the corner store and she was chasing them down. She's pretty feisty.”

Galen's face paled and he started to push past Chirrut before stopping with a sigh. “Maybe I'll just wait here for her.” He finally noticed Chirrut's full hands and reached out. “Here. Let me help you.”

“Thank you,” Chirrut said, holding out the heavier bag. “If you want, you can come in for some tea. Lyra will probably come by anyway to tell me about her exploits.”

“Yes, thank you, maybe I will.” Galen left the door unlocked behind them, knowing that Chirrut was probably right. “Sometimes though, I really wish she wouldn't put herself into danger like this.”

“She's a tough one. Injustices don't sit well with her. She's a firm believer in doing what is right and letting nothing stand in her way. I'd be terrified if she ever decided I was her enemy and not her friend.”

“I keep waiting for her to punch my old friend in the face. I don't know why she doesn't like him, Orson is a good guy.”

Chirrut was noncommittal in his hum, focusing on putting things away while the water boiled. “She's mentioned him a few times. She thinks he's hiding something.”

“The man is a genius, he's been nothing but helpful. He was the one that found me this research opportunity.” Galen accepted the cup handed to him with a small thank you. “And still she hates him.”

“Lyra is very perceptive. It wouldn't hurt to trust her.”

Before Galen could respond, the door opened and Lyra rushed in. Chirrut could sense the energy coming off her, the thrill she still felt from doing what she saw as right. She hugged him swiftly before moving to kiss Galen's cheek.

“Finished your crime fighting for the day?” Chirrut joked, pouring another cup of tea.

“You be quiet. You know you'd have done the same thing.”

Chirrut shrugged and turned to sit on the bed, leaving the old battered dining set for the couple.

“Lyra, are you alright?” Galen asked in concern.

“I'm fine. Not even a scratch. Chirrut taught me well.”

Galen sighed and muttered something the sounded suspiciously like the word reckless under his breath while Chirrut laughed.

“Oh, by the way Chirrut. I picked up your mail on the way up. You got a letter from the service office.”

“What's it say?” he asked, curious, tea forgotten for the moment.

Lyra carefully pulled it open, frowning at the short note. “It doesn't say much, just a date and time, plus a series of numbers.”

Chirrut frowned, leaning forward. “What?”

“It says '01946579 6 June t1250 x75hk910p765.' This makes no sense.”

Chirrut had gone very still, face pale. Galen reached out and took the cup from his hand before he could drop it.

“Chirrut?” Lyra asked, concerned. “Is everything okay?”

“He's coming home.”

“Who?” Galen asked.

“Baze. He's coming home. It's a flight number.” Chirrut's grin could no longer be contained. He was shaking with excitement, laughing and crying all at the same time. “He's coming home!” He barely felt Lyra's hug, too overwhelmed with emotion. In three weeks he'd be able to hold Baze again. He'd be complete once more.

It felt like forever.

~~~

Chirrut sighed as he thought about those early years. He felt Jyn shift next to him and squeezed her hand. “You are so much like your mom, I don't know if you know that. She was so strong and independent, a fighter. She stood up for those who couldn't. She helped so many.”

“I'm nothing like her,” Jyn said, watching her father's chest slowly rise and fall as the monitors beeped softly in the background. “I ran away from the conflict, I refused to help. I gave up.”

“Who's to say that wasn't the right thing to do at the time. The choices we make, right or wrong, are always our own. Own them, live up to them. Sometimes, running away is all we can do, if it leads us to where we need to be. Him?” he said, pointing toward Galen. “He wouldn't be here right now if you hadn't have run. If you hadn't have been caught. If you hadn't have been rescued. Everything led to this point. Now, we move forward.”

“To what?”

“I don't know. What do you want to do?”

Jyn didn't answer. “Did Baze know who I was when he and Cassian found me? When he brought me to your house?”

“We never met you. Your parents moved on right after Lyra found out she was pregnant. We knew they were expecting, but we lost touch. However, there are only so many Erso's in the world, and even fewer Galen's. I can tell you, though, that that is not why we helped you. You are a good person, inside. We trust you. You just need to trust yourself.”

Jyn smiled and squeezed his hand back. “Maybe someday I will.”

“I look forward to it.”

Chapter Text

“You have a leak,” Baze told Draven with a growl.

Draven gave him a blank look before shuffling the papers on his desk around. “We're aware of it.”

“Then what do you plan to do about it?”

“At the moment? Nothing. It's being investigated.”

Baze glared at him. He had just spent the better part of the day being asked about the investigation he had been running for Bothan. He was on edge; the thought of the missing kids burning at his consciousness making him want to take action, to fight, not to stand around while nothing was done. He wanted to see Chirrut, but he was busy with Jyn. He wanted to punch something. He wanted to run.

“Malbus. I understand more than you think I do. If we move now, this mole, whoever it might be, is sure to disappear. I want this to end. All of this.” Draven sat back and studied him. “Besides. Who is to say that the mole isn't one of your 'teammates'. That pilot of yours or even that Kay person. Any of them—”

“Don't you dare accuse them of this! You know for a fact that information was being leaked long before they ever joined us!”

“You think I don't know that! You think I haven't done everything I can. We've been planting information, seeing if we can pinpoint where it's coming from.”

“And has it worked?” Baze crossed his arms over his chest, suddenly beyond tired.

“We've made progress, but not enough,” Draven admitted reluctantly. “Far less than I had hoped to have made. Especially if word of this 'weapon' is true.”

“But you know who you suspect.”

“I do.”

“Have Chirrut talk to them.”

Draven tilted his head to the side, considering. “And what good would that do?”

“Chirrut can read people. He hasn't been wrong yet, not since we started working with the Rebellion.”

“I can't have them know that we suspect anything,” he warned.

“He doesn't even need to ask anything specific. Often how one answers questions about people they know will tell you a lot about them. For example, Chirrut knew early on that you were an ass.”

“He's not entirely wrong,” Draven said, sighing. “I've spent far too long using people to achieve goals to be anything else. Fine. I'll give you a list. I'm willing to try anything at this point.” He scribbled down a list of thirty names, handing it to Baze. “Don't fuck this up.”

Baze took the list and studied it for a moment, eyes widening as he caught a few names.

“Is there a problem?”

“No sir. Give us some time.”

“Dismissed then.”

Sighing, Baze wandered off to find Chirrut, thoughts churning. He might not have thought this one through.

* * *

On the way toward the medical wing, Baze tracked down Bodhi at the cafeteria. It pleased him to see Bodhi laughing and sharing stories with a few of the men and women that Cassian had chosen for his team. He smiled nervously as Baze approached, setting down his coffee cup. “Is everything okay?”

“So far. I was just wondering if I could get you to take some food to Jyn later. I'm going to relieve Chirrut for a bit, but I know she's too stubborn to leave.”

“I can sit with her, it's no problem.”

“Stay with your new friends. I need to talk to her anyway.”

“Oh. Okay...I'll, um, I'll take food over this evening. Um, are you sure?”

Baze smiled and clasped his shoulder. “Definitely.”

“Good,” Mackennon said, pulling out a deck of cards. “We were just about to start a game. Any takers?”

“Loser gets laundry duty for a week,” Tella suggested.

“That's not fair! Just because you hate laundry doesn't mean you can pawn your shifts off on us!” someone cried. “I bet kitchen duty!”

“Cleaning the showers.”

“That's disgusting!”

“That's why I'm betting it!”

Baze left them to argue good-naturedly among themselves, satisfied that Bodhi would be out of the way for a bit. He slumped against the wall of the elevator, debating how to bring up what he needed to say. He nodded to the guards out front before stepping into the room.

“Baze my darling my love my light!” Chirrut cried as he walked in. Jyn snorted with laughter, knees pulled up to her chest as she fought to control herself.

“Do I even want to know?” Baze asked, eyebrow raised.

“You do not,” Chirrut said, wiggling his eyebrows suggestively.

“Chirrut was telling me about the time you fell through a flower booth in the Jedha marketplace,” Jyn said, grinning from ear to ear.

“Did he now? Did he tell you that he was the one that pushed me?”

“He did not,” Chirrut said, smiling.

“Of course not. He always forgets those details where he was the problem.”

“I am perfectly innocent in all things at all times,” Chirrut said, trying and failing to look sincere.

“Of course you are,” Baze said, grabbing his arm. “Excuse us for a moment, I need to speak to this fool alone.”

“I'm sure Jyn wouldn't mind us kissing in front of her,” Chirrut said as he was pulled to his feet. “Unless you had other plans in mind, in which case I wholeheartedly agree with the alone aspect.”

Baze rolled his eyes and dragged him down the hall toward a private waiting room. He shoved Chirrut in first before locking the door.

“I missed you too,” Chirrut said, smirking, “but I feel like this is still a little too public.”

“Chirrut, be serious.”

“What's wrong?” he asked, sobering quickly.

“Nothing. I hope. But we do have a request from Draven. He's been trying to find who ever has been leaking information, but hasn't had much success. He knows who he suspects, but he needs confirmation. He'd like you to talk to some of them.”

“In an official capacity or....”

“Unofficial.”

Chirrut nodded, resting his hand on Baze's arm. “Give me the names.”

Baze hesitated before reading them off. He refused to look at Chirrut as he did, though he knew when Chirrut reacted to a name by the way he clenched his arm. He paused when Chirrut inhaled sharply, quickly wrapping up the list.

“He can't be serious about some of those, can he?”

“I'm assuming some of them are controls, but I don't know. Either way, it's not good. Some of these are people that are pretty high up.”

Chirrut shook his head and stepped closer to Baze. “I'll go get started. I can get through most of them today.”

“I'll stay with Jyn. Has he...?”

“Not fully. He's woken up once or twice, but not enough to be aware of what's going on around him. I've been trying to distract her, keep her calm. She's so much like Lyra, it's easy to forget sometimes.”

“You need a nap.” Baze pulled him into a tight hug, wishing they never had to part.

“Not unless you're there with me,” Chirrut mumbled. He kissed Baze's cheek, pulling back reluctantly. “I'll go. See you later.”

“Good luck.”

“Luck has nothing to do with anything. The force will guide me. Besides, why should I need luck when I have you?”

Baze's snort followed him out the door, making him grin. Time to work, he thought.

* * *

Baze settled into Chirrut's chair, giving Jyn a questioning look. “What?”

“You're actually a giant softie, aren't you?”

Baze sighed and rubbed his face. “Fucking Chirrut,” he mumbled. “What did he tell you?”

“Enough.” She shifted restlessly in her chair, fussing with Galen's blankets.

“He'll be okay.”

“You don't know that, not really.”

“You're right, I don't. But I do know a fighter when I see one. We won't let him die, not if we can help it. He's still necessary.”

“And after he testifies? Then what? Life imprisonment? That doesn't seem fair, considering how long he was held captive already.”

“Better than dead at the hands of the Empire.”

She slumped back, eyes closed. “I'm tired of this.”

Baze sighed and reached over, pulling her to rest against his chest. “Sleep. I'll keep watch. Cassian is going to need you at full strength if you plan on helping. If not, Galen will need your help to recover. It's safe here.”

She allowed the tension to drain away and settled back. “Tell me about the temple? What did you learn there?”

“I gave all that up.”

“But you believed at one time, didn't you?”

“I did.” Baze contemplated the question, eyes closed as he thought about how he would answer. He decided, for once, to be completely honest. “I learned about myself. I learned that sometimes what you believe won't always make sense, but that doesn't make it wrong. I learned to fight and to defend.”

“What was it like?”

“Home.”

* * *

Chirrut wandered for a bit, reveling in being able to stretch his legs. He loved Jyn and didn't regret staying to support her, but he was growing restless. Sitting still was something even the Whills hadn't been able to beat out of him.

He heard voices ahead of him, smiling when he recognized two of the names he was looking for. Time to get started, he thought.

It was a funny thing, being a blind man in a military base. Even those who knew what his job was rarely gave his questions a second thought. He could easily ask about ones mom or cat or secret boyfriend (that one got him a blush and quick laugh before a heartfelt answer arrived), nodding and smiling as he listened. He was naturally friendly by nature, so no one ever suspected that he might be fishing for something. He knew more that his fair share of gossip, as well; people tended to forget that just because he was blind that he could still hear things. He paid attention to when conversations ended if he walked into a room, or if they just became more discrete. He allowed himself to be called to, pretending he hadn't realized anyone else was in the room (a skill that highly amused him most days). He would allow people to take his arm and guide him around the base, pretending that he needed the help; normally this made him bristle, but at times like these it could be useful—did the person try and help out of misguided kindness, did they try and remove him, did they ignore him, or did they offer respect? He had learned the lesson as a child that one could read a soul by how they treated their inferiors (or even supposed inferiors) in daily life. A crowded base was as close to real life as they were going to get.

By the end of the dinner hour, he had managed to work his way through most of the list, skipping a few on principle. Bodhi, he knew, would never turn out to be a spy—the boy was an open book, too honest, especially around those he trusted. Chirrut never would have let him into the house if he had had any indication that something was off. Which is why he found himself sighing as he sat at a table, plate of food slowly cooling in front of him, as Cassian approached him.

“Good evening Captain! Care to join me?” Chirrut asked, trying for a smile and feeling like it came out more as a grimace.

Cassian laughed as he pulled out a chair and joined him. “Long day?”

“You have no idea.”

Cassian nudged a cup of coffee toward him. “I know you normally drink tea, but you look like you need this.”

“How very kind of you.” This time his smile was more genuine. He took a sip, sighing at its heat. “This is actually pretty good, so I'll assume it didn't come from the cafeteria.”

“Officers quarters. I was in a planning session with Dodonna.”

“Ah, the perks of being blind. I never get invited to those.

“Baze is with Jyn?”

“Yes. He knows I get restless, need to move around.”

“Still no change?”

“Nothing significant. You worry about her, don't you?”

“Of course,” Cassian said, playing with a napkin. “She's had a hard life, no one should have to go through this.”

“Least of all you,” Chirrut said, sounding shrewd. “Your life hasn't exactly been easy. You too have seen too much. How are you holding up?”

“You can't tell? I thought you could 'see' all. Isn't that what you told me when I first moved in?”

Chirrut laughed, remembering the uncertainty that had rolled off the young man that day at the base. Cassian had been an old soul in his mind, even if he was young enough to be their son. He had carried a world of hurts with him, built a wall to keep others out. Over the years together, he had opened up to them, become a friend. Chirrut reached for his hand now and squeezed it. “I almost got you to believe me that day. Best joke I ever told and you saw through it.”

“What are you up to Chirrut?” Cassian asked softly. “What's going on?”

Chirrut thought carefully as he went over what he knew. “There is a mole, but you know that. Draven wants to find the person or persons responsible. I'm trying to help him, feeling people out.”

“Reading them,” Cassian stated, hand tensing.

“It's my one skill.”

“That's a lie and you know it.” Cassian sighed. “He suspects me, doesn't he?”

“You were one of the ones on my list, yes. But not one of the ones I suspect.”

“Why not?”

“Because you never gave me reason to believe you are anything other than who you are. Yes, you are an amazing spy. I know how you work, how you move. I know what you can become. And yet, I never once have doubted that you have ever been anything but truthful with me.”

“How can you be sure?”

“You can't fake caring about someone. Oh, sure, friendship is easy. One can talk, go out, joke around, but true affection? That's hard to pull off long term. It's a subtle thing, but you learned what I needed from you; you offered help, but respected me even if I told you no—even that time I walked into the door. You allowed us into your life, something I've never seen you do with anyone else.”

“Is that why you sent Kay to me? Telling him I wanted a roommate?”

“Among other reasons. I trusted you to help him find the right path. I've always trusted you, even when you had dark intentions. Maybe I shouldn't have, but I did. So I'll ask you now, captain. Do I have a reason to not trust you?”

“You probably shouldn't.”

“Ah, but see, I probably shouldn't trust my staff to find the way for me, but I do. Even if there are sometimes doubts doesn't make something wrong.” Chirrut slowly pushed away from the table, sighing. “Whether you trust yourself is not for me to decide. That is for you. I don't allow anyone into my home without a reason. You have all become people that I care about. And you would not be wrong to open your heart to that girl. She means well.”

Chirrut patted his shoulder as he walked by. “I'll see you at home, Cassian. Hey, when this is all over, we should all go on a picnic! I'll make a spice cake!”

“Please don't,” Cassian said with a shudder.

“Oh, relax, I'll make it mild this time. It'll be fun!” Chirrut started laughing as he walked away, hearing Cassian's groan. He knew he was making the right call. Even if he wasn't, it was his decision and he was willing to live with it. He only had a few more names to get through, but he already knew who the leak might be.

Soon, he thought, as he walked on.

* * *

Chirrut returned to Galen's room tired but sure that he was on the right track. He had stopped to tell Draven his suspicions, pleased when he took his word that Cassian was clear without comment; he hid the fact that he had heard his relieved sigh. Draven had agreed to follow his suggestions. “Not like I have many other leads to work with.”

Chirrut nodded to the guard before entering. He smiled at Jyn before sitting down on Baze's knee, making him grunt. “How are things?”

“The doctor thinks he might wake up tonight,” Jyn said, voice quiet.

Chirrut tilted his head toward Baze, allowing him to whisper in his ear “his last scans didn't look good. They stopped sedation and are setting up for another surgery.”

Chirrut leaned forward and took Jyn's hand. “That's good. You'll feel better if you can speak to him.”

Jyn didn't say anything, just watched warily as a nurse came in and adjusted one of the monitors. She glanced back at her father, watching as his hand twitched. “If you were planning to interrogate him, now might be your best chance.”

“There are a few questions we need him to answer,” Chirrut said, voice gentle, “but they can wait, if you tell me that you don't want anyone in here. It's your call.”

“Who would it be?”

“Mothma I'm sure would like to be here. Dodonna. Draven. Cassian. Us.”

“I don't want Draven in this room,” she said, voice hardening.

“I'll go make the call,” Baze said, shifting Chirrut off his lap. Chirrut touched his arm as he stood up, raising his eyebrows and tilting his jaw minutely toward the door. Baze frowned and carefully tapped on his hand code for guard, sighing when Chirrut nodded. “Be careful,” he muttered as he left.

Jyn had caught the last exchange, frowning at Chirrut. “What's...?” She trailed off as he shook his head, frowning as he sat down next to her.

“Trust me. We'll keep him safe,” he murmured, hand gripping hers.

Cassian was there within moments, Mothma arriving not far behind him with her aides. Baze had yet to return when the monitors surrounding Galen started alerting them to his return to consciousness. Jyn was by his side, leaning over as his eyes fluttered open; they were unfocused as he struggled to draw a deep breath.

“Easy, papa. Just relax,” Jyn whispered, reaching up to brush the hair from his eyes.

Galen rolled his head in her direction, eyes searching as she gripped his hand tight. His face relaxed as he caught sight of her. “Jyn...? Is it really you?”

“Yes, papa, it's me. I'm here.”

“Jyn...I thought I had lost you. I thought...gone...you were gone. They didn't....Orson...you're alive.” He tried to raise his hand, to brush the tears from her eyes. With a sob, Jyn pulled his hand to her face, pressing it against her cheek. “My stardust,” he whispered, voice fading.

“Mister Erso, I'm sorry to have to disturb your reunion, but we must ask you a few questions,” Mothma said, stepping forward. “Do you know where you are?”

Galen tried to focus on her, but could do little more than roll his head away from Jyn. “Rebels...” he murmured, eyes closing for a moment. “Safe...Jyn....”

“You are currently in the custody of the Rebel Alliance, that is true. We would like to speak to you about a weapon you were developing for the empire.”

“Orson...Krennic. He was working on...weapons. Mass destruction...if it works. Death Star. He called it Death Star.” Galen's voice grew stronger as he spoke, eyes closed as he struggled to make his thoughts rational. “Chemical weapons powered by crystals, designed to wipe out entire cities if set up right. My fault. I found...a way I didn't know...never meant....” His voice started fading again, his grip on Jyn's hand spasming. “Jyn, stardust. I'm sorry. Lyra...she had it...you look like her.” He opened his eyes and studied her face. “My fault. Jyn....”

Jyn sniffed as he lost consciousness again, clutching his hand to her cheek as the medical team taking care of him moved in. She caught a sense of motion out of the corner of her eye, noting that the guard normally standing at the door had moved inside, hand on his weapon. Mothma and her team had moved out into the hall, deep in conversation. Jyn frowned at the guard, noticing Baze and Draven running up from the hall. “What's—”

She gasped as Cassian pulled a gun from his belt, pointing it at the guard. “Don't move,” he warned him, shifting his position so that he could cover the guard and not hit Jyn. Chirrut stood beside her, face pale but staff held tight, as the medical team around them ducked for cover.

“This will not end well,” Chirrut warned, head tilted back. “There are too many witnesses. Stand down.”

“Not to mention the oxygen running,” the doctor said, sounding nervous. “If you shoot, it'll cause an explosion.”

“Then there won't be any witnesses,” he said, lifting his gun.

Cassian cursed as he lunged forward. Chirrut pushed Jyn out of the way, swinging his staff in a tight arc to hit the guard in the legs, knocking him back. Cassian tackled him, pushing him against the wall, struggling to catch his arms. The guard was shouting, trying to point his gun when Jyn elbowed him hard in the chest and grabbed it from his hand. Outside the room, more staff had arrived and were shielding Mothma. Baze and Draven stormed the room, helping to subdue the man and drag him out; he was quickly handcuffed and pulled away. Draven turned to Chirrut, eyes cold. “We already have the others in custody. Why'd you suspect this one? He wasn't on the list.”

“What was being leaked was low level enough to not be noticed at first, but not complete enough to be someone in the meetings themselves. Hence, it was mostly overheard. There are two main ways that can happen. Speaking around a blind man or....”

“Or a guard,” Draven finished. He looked over at Mon Mothma, who was staring after the man as he was dragged away. “I'll be speaking with her about this. Dismissed for now.”

“Hold on,” Chirrut said, following him out of the room. The rest followed him. “I think I know how they will power this weapon.”

“Chirrut?” Baze asked, touching his shoulder.

“How?” Mothma asked, eyes cold. “We've dealt with chemicals before, there is nothing yet that can be hidden in plain sight that can cause such large scale destruction.”

“Kyber,” Chirrut said, making Jyn gasp behind him. “It can be used for focusing blasts, given the right fuel source. The Jedi would use it as a distraction method, creating light and sound to disrupt a battlefield. They must be planning to use kyber.” Beside him, Baze groaned.

“They would need more than is currently available,” Draven said, arms crossed.

“The Empire controls Jedha,” Cassian warned. “It was known for having one of the largest veins of kyber in the world.”

“They've been controlling it for years. Mining it, refining it. It makes sense,” Baze said.

“But how can they hide a crystal and still use it to power a weapon?”

“Run a heat or electrical source through it while it sits in a chemical compound. It's probably possible,” Baze sighed.

“If this is true, then it could mean the end of our fight,” Mothma warned. “I'll call a special council, we'll hold an emergency meeting in the morning. Can we be sure that what Erso said is true?”

“Kay read his notes, just as I did,” Jyn said, head held high. “There was mention of a shipment of coaxium being delivered to Eadu. Ask him to confirm it.”

“Coaxium? Isn't that used for jet fuel?”

“It could work,” Baze said.

“I'll go pick up Kay,” Cassian sighed. “General, do you want to speak to him?”

“We have those files already, so no. I'll have a team start reviewing them.” He brushed past Cassian. “All of you are on call.”

“Then I'll go fetch Kay and bring him back here. Can you set up rooms for us?” Baze asked, rubbing his forehead.

“Not a problem. I'll go find Bodhi.”

“Jyn,” Chirrut said, reaching for her arm. “Come with us. Your father will be in surgery tonight, there is nothing more you can do here right now. Come get some rest, you'll do him no good if you make yourself sick.”

She reluctantly nodded, glancing back as the staff prepared her father for surgery again. “I know. Let's go.”

Finding Bodhi turned out to be easy. He had heard of the incident and come running. He rounded the corner as they stepped off the elevator, skidding to a stop and clutching a stitch in his side. “Is everyone okay?”

“We're fine,” Cassian said, grabbing his arm and pulling him along. “We're staying here tonight. Meetings first thing in the morning.”

Bodhi looked puzzled as he allowed himself to be pulled along. “All of us?” he asked as Baze walked away from the group.

“Baze is on his way to get Kay,” Chirrut said, feeling his way with his staff. “Cassian? I'm thinking we should all stay close tonight.”

“There's an old dorm we can use. It's already being prepared.”

The dorm turned out to contain ten beds and an attached bath on a upper floor of an old administration building. Someone had dropped off sets of towels and sheets, which Bodhi and Jyn worked together to get set up. They had each claimed a bed when Kay and Baze returned, Kay looking grumpy about being forced to return to the base. Baze held out bags of cloths. “I figured no one would want to keep wearing the same cloths for multiple days.”

“There's three shower stalls,” Chirrut said. “That'll keep the wait time down.”

“I'll pass,” Kay said, settling in in the corner near the door as far from the others as he could get.

“Jyn should go first,” Chirrut said, gesturing vaguely toward the room. “Then the rest of us can get cleaned up.”

“You just said there were only three showers,” Kay said, already busy on his computer.

“Yes, yes, and Baze and I can share one. It'll be more economical.”

Baze huffed at the impish expression on Chirrut's face, pushing at him. “Absolutely not. We will not be sharing.”

“You'd just leave a blind man to navigate his way through an unfamiliar room? How callus!”

“It's amazing how you being blind only becomes an issue when you want something.”

“And what is it that I want, Baze my love my one true light?”

Jyn walked out while they were beginning what sounded like a well rehearsed argument, if Cassian's expression was anything to go off of. She was tired and just wanted to sleep, but she knew she needed a shower first. She couldn't stand the grime on her any longer. More than anything, she wanted to be alone for a while, even while she was afraid to be. Her thoughts and emotions were rolling around in her head, making her dizzy and confused. She rested her head against the wall, letting the water wash away her tears.

By the time she was dried off and dressed, the argument had worn itself out. Baze, Chirrut, and Bodhi went next; Cassian was in the middle of a quiet conversation with Kay. Kay was frowning, glancing up at her for a moment, before shaking his head and pointing back at the screen. Cassian sighed and gestured her over.

“Jyn, I'm sorry to have to ask this, but can you help us out?” Cassian asked.

She approached them slowly, raising an eyebrow as she looked at Cassian. “You look like death warmed over.”

“I assure you that I feel worse. What can you tell us about project stardust? You said it's in an old code your father used and that it's named after you, but what else do you know?”

Jyn frowned as she sat down next to them, thinking. “I honestly don't know. I was very little when he was actively doing research, it's not like I helped him. That was my mom.”

“Chirrut said something about kyber. Does that mean anything to you?”

“Maybe? My father used to talk about it, said it had the potential to create an infinite power force for generators, that they could provide power to impoverished countries or war zones to help with medical care and evacuations.” She touched her necklace, rolling it between her fingers. “My mom had this piece, she used to tell me legends and stories about kyber, but that was all they were. Stories. As far as I know, my father never figured out how to get it to work.”

“Until now,” Kay said, shutting down the computer.

“Do you think that's true?” Jyn asked Cassian. “Do you think they figured it out?”

“I don't know, but something has been made. Saw seemed to think so.” Cassian glanced up as Bodhi came out into the room. “They'll be interrogating those that they caught tonight, we should know more by morning. In the meantime, try and get some sleep.” He grabbed his cloths and staggered to the bathroom.

Baze was sitting on the counter inside, head tilted back against the mirror as he waited for Chirrut to finish shaving. “Did I miss anything?” he asked, safety razor held away from his face.

“Upper lip, below your nose. Right cheek near the back,” Baze answered without looking, eyes closed tight.

“I know your eyes are closed, Baze. Don't try and pretend.”

“I'm not pretending. Those are the spots you always miss. Did you double check them?”

“...yes.”

“Okay. Then you missed the upper lip under your nose and the right cheek near the back.”

Cassian stepped into the stall right as he heard Chirrut sigh and the scrape of the razor. He undressed quickly, listening to Chirrut asking again if he had missed anything. This time there was a moment of silence before Baze declared him done.

“Hey Captain! Don't drown in there!” Chirrut called as they left the room. Cassian rubbed at his face and quickly washed up before his energy faded. He had feeling that the next few days would be rough and sleep would be few and far between. He didn't bother drying off, just dressed in the loose cloths that Baze had brought and stumbled out, already half asleep, to fall into the bed next to Bodhi's. He mumbled a response to Bodhi's quiet “good night” before passing out.

Bodhi got up and switched off the overhead light, glad that there was a full moon illuminating the high windows. He waved to Jyn as he settled in across from Baze and Chirrut, not surprised that Chirrut had found a way to curl up on top of Baze even in the tiny bed. Baze wore his usual grumpy expression, but the way his arms were wrapped tight around him, he clearly didn't mind.

They were all tired and stressed, and deep down, Bodhi would not have been surprised if they didn't sleep well (Cassian excluded), but it wasn't long before each was out. The uncertainty of the morning could wait for the sun. For now, it was time to rest.

* * *

For the first time in too long, Cassian dreamed about his family. He rolled over in his sleep, face twisting into a frown.
~~~
“What are you doing?!”

His mother's shout startled his sister, who nearly dropped the pot of rice porridge she carried. “I was just trying to help!” Risa wailed, managing to steady the pot and set it down on the table.

“I told you not to touch anything! What would have happened if you had dropped that? What would we have eaten then? Do you know what your aunt and I had to go through to get that? Everything is rationed, and even if it wasn't there's no money to buy more. You need to listen to me!”

Risa stood by the table, lip quivering as their mother went on and on. As she ground to a halt, Risa, only nine years old, drew herself up and stated, “I'm sorry, mama. I just thought, since you and auntie are so busy all the time, that I could help you.”

Cassian, at six, stood in the doorway of the rundown apartment, shielding his younger brother and cousin from the fight. Tannien and Luka, five and two respectively either didn't notice or care. Tensions had been high for so long in the household that one hardly flinched anymore unless it was directed at them.

Cassian watched as his mother drew in a shaky breath and reached out for Risa. “My love, come here. I so sorry.”

Risa flew to her arms, tears on her face.

“I'm not mad at you, little one. I appreciate that you want to help, but you need to remember that you're still just a little girl. Let your cousins do it next time, okay? You can fetch the water if you want to help, but don't spill any,” she warned, ending the hug. “Cassian,” she called, spotting him in the doorway. “Go get your cousins, please. Papa will be home soon.”

He nodded, shrugging into his coat as he pulled open the door, scrambling up the snowy stairs toward the roof quickly. Lilith and Garrett were checking the traps they had set the night before, hoping to find a bird or a rodent. Garrett kicked one of the empty ones away, making Lilith cross.

“Don't do that! You'll break another and then what will we do?”

“I don't care,” Garrett said, face sullen. “Why should we have to eat vermin? Uncle should just quit being so stubborn and join the army. Then we'd eat like everyone else.”

“It's not that simple,” Lilith sighed, noticing Cassian. “What are you doing up here?”

“My mama said to come eat.”

“Go on, we'll be down in a bit.”

Nodding, Cassian hurried back down, hoping to make it in before his father was back. He could hear the far off whine of the fighter jets aiming at targets, but paid it little mind. He had grown up with that sound; he knew he only had to worry when they were close enough to tell the difference between the types of bombs. His mama and Risa had set the table, adding a few scraggly greens that were little more than roadside weeds to the rice as they dished it up. He heard the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs and rushed to greet his papa as he came in.

“You're filthy,” he said, noticing the dirty smeared across Cassian's face. “What have you been up to?”

“I found this today,” he said, proudly digging out the the spent shell casings from the bag behind the door. “Lil and Risa helped,” he added.

“Did you? Good job,” his papa said, rubbing his hair so that it stood up on end. Cassian grinned at him. “Those will sell well at the market tomorrow. Keep it up, son.”

Cassian followed him into the kitchen, sitting at the table next to his cousin Tannien, waiting for the meal to start. He could hear his aunt in the bedroom, crying that she was too sick to get up and eat. His sister sat across from him, shying away from Garrett who looked ready to punch something.

“Where is your father?” Cassian's papa asked Garrett.

“Like you care,” Garrett muttered, expression sullen.

Cassian glanced at his papa, waiting for him to get angry; he was slightly disappointed when all he did was sigh and settle at the table. If any of Cassian's siblings had spoken like that, they would have been punished.

Lilith and Risa set the bowls of food on the table as his mama came back in. “Your mother refuses to get up,” she complained to Lil.

“She misses Tyrel,” Lilith said, not looking up.

“Yes, well, I miss my Daros, but you don't see me moping about,” she said, slamming cabinets shut as she searched futilely for anything else that could be used to stretch the meal; when she came up empty, she huffed and dropped into a chair, scowl on her face. “We'll need to see if we can trade for something again. There's only a small amount of rice left,” she muttered to papa, as she helped Luka nibble at his food. Cassian's papa sighed and closed his eyes.

“I'll see what's available at the market. Maybe I can find an odd job or two this time. At least they haven't cut the heat again.”

“Want more!” Tannien yelled, waving his empty bowl.

“There is no more,” Cassian's mama said, wiping Luka's face.

“There'd be plenty if you weren't here,” Garrett said, arms crossed.

Lilith hit him on the arm, but the damage was done. Cassian's mom looked livid, eyes flashing dangerously.

“He didn't mean it, auntie, he's just upset.”

“That is no excuse for ignorance,” she said, hands clenched. “And if it wasn't for us, you wouldn't even had had that rice. Luka was the only reason we were able to get it.”

“We'd be fine if he'd get off his ass and join the military already!” Garrett yelled, pointing toward Cassian's papa. Cassian drew himself up, rage seething, as his papa sighed.

“Do not speak of things you cannot understand,” papa said, handing Tannien his bowl. “Eat that, child. I'm not hungry.” He pushed back from the chair and walked away, shoulders low.

Cassian jumped up to follow him as Tannien cheered and started stuffing his face. He found his father in the living room, which doubled as the family's bedroom, sorting through the salvaged material Cassian and the rest had found.

“Go back to your mother,” papa said, smiling briefly at him. It didn't quite reach his eyes. “I'll be back tonight.” He picked up the bag and walked out, door closing with a finality that scared Cassian for reasons he could not name. He waited until no on was paying attention before quietly slipping out after him.

It was easy for Cassian to follow his father in his old tattered green coat, even though he had to stay far behind him. People on the streets gave his papa a wide berth, refusing to meet his eyes and shying away if he came too close. A few hissed insults at him, threats that had Cassian scared. His papa kept his head high and walked as if he neither noticed or cared, boots crunching in the fresh layer of snow. He eventually reached an outpost set up near the out skirts of the town. The man running it sighed as his papa approached.

“I told you, Andor, I can't help you anymore.”

Cassian's papa shook his head and held up his hand in a placating manner. “I'm not looking for charity, Tal. I'm here to sell.”

Tal sighed and looked around. Cassian quickly ducked behind a wall, watching what was happening. Tal gestured him into the building through the roll up doors, pointing at a table. “Put it there.”

Cassian crept closer as his papa laid out the items he, his sibling, and his cousins had dug up over the last two days. “Please, if you can, I need a fair price. The kids, they're hungry.”

Tal looked over the items, picking a few up to appraise. “Where's your brother?”

“I don't know. He disappeared two weeks ago.”

“I can give you twenty for this.”

Papa was shaking his head. “That's not enough. We're barely pulling it, what with the rationing. We need money for more food.” His papa swallowed and quietly asked, “or do you know of any jobs I can do?”

“You know no one will hire you, Andor. Not with the government marking you as a traitor. And I know that I'm the only one that will buy from you. Look,” he sighed, pulling out his wallet, “I'll give you thirty five. If you take it to Claro's, you might be able to wrangle some eggs, I know he's got some hidden. I'm sorry, man. You used to be one of our heroes—”

“Don't.” The word came out hard and angry. “Let's not talk about the past. I'll take the twenty, its a fair price. And thank you for the tip. I'll see what they have.”

Tal studied him for a moment before handing him thirty-five. “Good luck.”

His papa was too proud to accept charity, but not so proud as to condemn his children to starve. “Is there anything that you need next round? Any particular salvage?”

“Mortar casings, if you can find them. They want to start reusing them.”

“So things aren't going well,” papa sighed, rubbing his head. “They'll be making the rounds again soon then.”

“Watch your back. I heard they're taking them younger this time.”

Cassian ducked back into hiding as his father walked away. “They already were too young.”

Cassian managed to sneak back into the apartment. He felt too confined to be content inside, but the bomb drops had neared the outskirts of the town to the west and his mother wouldn't let them out, not even to scavenge for food. Cassian sat in his corner, tired in a way that he didn't truly understand. Risa was playing with Luka, trying to distract him from hunger. Tannien was throwing a fit in the other room, while Garrett had left and had yet to return, not that his aunt noticed anything; she never left her room, not since the oldest boys were taken away the month before. Soon, it sounded like a storm passing through, thunder surrounding the old building. Cassian had fallen asleep by the time his papa returned. He woke up once to his parents quietly whispering in the kitchen. He could hear the fear that his mama was normally good at hiding while the sun was out; his papa tried to calm her, but even he didn't sound too sure of himself. Cassian rolled over toward Risa and passed out again. Things were usually better in his dreams.

Tensions were high over the next week or so. The army had been raiding the building around them, looking for men and women of fighting ages to be drafted into the cause. His mama swore that they'd be fine, that they'd want no one from their household; though his papa stayed quiet, he also never agreed with her. At the end of the week, though, there was suddenly a knock on the door.

Everyone had fallen into silence as his papa approached the door, steps measured. Risa moved to stand behind mama as two army officials entered; their uniforms, once clean and pressed, looked faded, patched, and ill-fitting. Cassian stayed sitting in his corner, though he did turn away from the window he had been staring out of.

“This is the Andor household, is it not?” the first man asked.

“It is,” papa said, sounding resigned.

“According to records, there are two persons of fighting age here, neither of whom have reported. We've come to escort them to the base.” He pointed toward where Lilith and Garrett were standing in the hall. Lilith took a step back before she caught herself; Garrett drew himself up to his full height, shoulder back and chest out.

“You can't,” Cassian's mama said, voice trembling. “They're too young.”

“They're old enough.”

“The boy is barely twelve!”

“Old enough to shoot,” the second man said, comparing them to the papers he carried. “Old enough to work.”

“I'm ready,” Garrett said, eyes bright and eager. “Unlike him,” he said, pointing toward papa.

“Didn't want him anyway. Come on, let's go.”

“I can't,” Lilith said, shaking her head. “My mother, she's sick. She needs my help. I can't leave her.”

“That's no concern of ours,” the first man said, grabbing her arm. “That's a job for the rest of them. Now come with us.”

Cassian would never forget the look of terror on her face as she was pushed toward the door. His papa stepped in front of it, hands raised up.

“Please,” he said, quietly begging. “She's only fourteen. Your daughter is the same age. Don't take her like this.”

The man backhanded him, knocking him into the wall. “Traitors don't get a say. Move or I will shoot you.”

Papa reached out to Lilith as she was pulled past. “I'm sorry,” he choked out as the door was slammed behind them.

Risa was sobbing as mama stormed into the bedroom to tell auntie what had happened. Tannien poked his head out from beneath the table where he had been hiding, face puzzled. “If they don't come home for dinner, can I have their share?”

Cassian got spanked for biting his over his comment, but he didn't regret it. If anything, he wanted to do it again. He now had only Risa to help him look for material to sell, but she was becoming more and more scared about leaving the apartment, afraid that she too would be taken. His papa had tried to explain that she was still too young, but she wouldn't listen. One day, long after they could no longer afford fuel for the heaters, fed up with being indoors and perpetually hungry, Cassian ran out the door and down the steps. He ignored his mama's calls to come back, racing into the street below and as far away as he could. He slowed down after a couple of blocks, struggling to draw a deep breath in the icy air.

He looked around, noticing for the first time the burn marks on the walls. The fighting had finally reached the city the week before; sirens sounding for people to take cover were a daily occurrence, often waking them at night. Biting his lip, Cassian wandered a bit, always circling the few blocks around his home, ducking away whenever he saw soldiers go by. He had just made up his mind to return home when the sirens went off.

Startled, he jumped as the first explosion rocked the ground. “Get down!” came the shouts of the soldiers as they leaped into action, rifles drawn. Someone grabbed Cassian, pulling him to cover right as a missile struck the building to their left. Ears ringing, Cassian was unable to fight as he was dragged down the stairs to a shelter, where he was handed off to the other occupants. As his hearing slowly came back, so did his fear for his family. He kept trying to tell the others that he needed to go, that he needed to get back. As soon as the all clear sounded, he raced up the steps, ignoring the shouts to come back. Outside, the air was filled with smoke and the smell of things burning. He coughed as he hurried toward his building, crying as he saw the fire and rubble that was all that remained. He was inconsolable as his neighbors tried to comfort him. He barely even registered the people that dragged him away, saying that he needed to go to the orphanage for his own safety.

He kept thinking of his mother, terrified but trying to hold them all together, and his father, a man that the world had tried to break but had kept going anyway; of his sister and his brother, gone before they could become anything. By the time he reached the orphanage, he had stopped talking, eyes dark and blank. His tears had dried up as the numbness took over.

Once it wore off, he would swear to get revenge on those that had caused this; he would push aside thoughts about his family and what they would want, thinking only of his needs to avenge them. But that would all come later. For now, he sat in silence as adults that cared little for him talked over his head.

For now he was lost.

~~~

Cassian woke with a gasp, sweat soaking his shirt. He fought down the panic, frantically looking around until he recognized the room he was in. He sat up and swung his feet over the side of the bed, head buried in his arms on his knees as he struggled to calm his breathing.

He swung his fist out as something touched his shoulder; he was mildly surprised when it was caught with ease and he turned to face Jyn, crouching near him with a cup of water in one hand. He looked away in shame, hating himself for automatically reacting like that. He tensed as she sat down next to him and wrapped her arm around his shoulders, pressing the water into his shaking hands. He took a cautious sip, fighting back the nausea the dream had caused.

Jyn rested her head on his shoulder, arm dropping down around his waist. He slowly started to relax, shaking subsiding as exhaustion took over. His head gradually dropped down to rest on hers, eyes drooping. He smiled slightly as he felt her snuggle closer.

Lost for a moment in the quiet darkness, he felt safe again, listening to the sounds of his teammates sleeping around him. Maybe things would be okay after all. Maybe things would get better.

It was a hope he refused to let go of.

Chapter Text

Cassian woke again just after first light. He was tired, but the sleep had helped; besides, he had functioned on less sleep before, though it was getting harder and harder with each passing year. He didn't know when it happened, but at some point during the night, after his nightmare, Jyn had returned to her own bed. She was currently curled up around her pillow, face hidden and hair standing on end. A smile played at the corner of his lips as thought back to the night. She hadn't asked for anything, not for him to tell her what was wrong or explain his inability to cry yet; she had merely allowed him comfort, as a friend, as a comrade, as maybe—someday, when the world was a quieter place—something more.

To his left, Bodhi was tucked in neatly on his side, face lax in sleep. He murmured something softly under his breath as he shifted slightly, drawing the blanket up tighter around his shoulders. Over by the door, Kay was flat on his back, laptop tucked half under his pillow, one hand resting against it. Cassian sometimes wondered if Kay wasn't just a physical extension of the machine itself.

He nearly snorted when he saw Baze and Chirrut. It didn't surprise him that Chirrut had failed to return to his own bed in the night. Chirrut was currently curled up in a tight ball, head tucked up under Baze's chin as he covered his chest. Baze had his arms wrapped tight around him, holding him close. Cassian would make the comparison to a teddy bear, but he had too much respect for these men who had always had his back. Chirrut's hand was fisted in Baze's shirt, holding tight over his heart. Baze, for the first time in a while looked at peace. Cassian was reluctant to disturb the team, knowing that quiet moments such as this were hard to come by, but he knew it was best not to linger.

He dressed swiftly, carefully shaking awake first Bodhi and then Jyn, nodding a greeting to Bodhi's tired questioning hum. Jyn was easier to wake; she merely opened her eyes, groaning when she saw the light. Baze and Chirrut, hearing the noises around them woke on their own, thought they stayed in bed longer then they normally would upon waking. Cassian had a harder time with Kay, who seemed determined to sleep as late as possible, something that surprised Cassian. Kay was usually the earlier riser of the two.

Jyn finally solved the problem. “Kay, if you don't get up, I'll steal your laptop.”

He sat up with a snarl, eyes cold. “Touch it and they'll never find your body.”

Cassian stopped the fight before it could take hold. “Guys, please, no killing until after coffee.”

“Coffee sounds like an excellent plan,” Baze said, pushing Chirrut off of him as he sat up. “I doubt any of us could survive a meeting with the council without it.”

Chirrut whined but rolled to his feet, hand groping for his staff. Baze held it out to him, stifling a yawn as he pulled on his cloths. He huffed as Chirrut reached up to pet his hair, attempting to straighten it out. “Leave it, you fool, it's too far gone.”

Chirrut huffed, face set in a pout. “When we get home, I'm fixing that rat's nest of yours. Make it more presentable.” He tilted his head, smirk starting to take over. “Maybe dye it purple. Put flowers in it. We'll see.”

“Move,” Baze sighed, pushing him toward the door. Bodhi grabbed his arm, leading him toward the stairs. Chirrut looked back over his shoulder, grinning, staff swinging gently in front of him as he allowed Bodhi to guide him.

“I have to ask,” Jyn said, coming up behind Baze. “Why does he have that stick instead of a cane?”

“Because he refused to use the cane when I came back. Said he didn't need. Nearly broke his neck falling down a set of stairs he didn't know were there. I told him he wouldn't have a choice, but it did little good. He hated it. I finally found a walking stick that was pretty durable, added the tips and polished it. He was willing to use that at least.” Baze lowered his voice and leaned closer. “Just don't tell him that it's painted white on the lower half. He'd probably chuck it out if he knew.”

Jyn snorted, nodding. “So you made it for him?”

Baze hummed an affirmative, smiling affectionately as he watched Bodhi and Chirrut having an animated conversation up ahead. “There's a piece of kyber embedded in the handle as well. To remind him that not all is lost. Tori sent it before she went into hiding; it was her own personal piece. I wanted to use the piece he carved, but he wouldn't let me.”

“Oh my god, you're such a romantic!” Jyn doubled over in laughter. “That's the sweetest thing I've ever heard!”

“Tell anyone outside this group and you'll be joining your father in the med wing,” he said without heat. She snorted but sobered up at the reminder of Galen.

“We'll go check on him before the meeting starts,” Cassian said as they entered the dining hall. “I had someone I trust watch him last night.”

“Thank you.”

“We protect our own,” was his only response.

Inside, tensions seemed high. Word of empire spies having invaded the base had left everyone quieter than normal. Bodhi was nervously twisting his hands while Kay sighed. “Looks like we might be back to being the enemy.”

“No one here is the enemy,” Cassian said, pointing toward a table in the far corner. “Someone grab that one, we need to discuss some things before we meet up with everyone else later.”

“Chirrut, you hold it. I'll get you food,” Baze said, steering him toward it.

Chirrut huffed and gently whacked his staff into Baze's knee. “I can get my own food.”

“Yes, I know,” Baze said with far too much patience. “But I'd rather not have to deal with your questionable food choices this early in the day.”

“Weird food freaks people out,” he said, settling into the chair Baze pulled out for him. “It makes people fear me.”

“They already fear you,” Baze said unconvincingly. “Just wait here.”

“Fine, but I want tea.”

“Yes, yes.”

Kay was the first to return, bearing a tray of porridge and toast. He frowned at Chirrut's peaceful expression, at the half smile slightly closed eyes. “What?”

“Hmm? Oh, it's nothing. Just listening to gossip. It seems like Lilian in acquisitions might be dating Stephanie in maintenance again. They broke up last year, but everyone knows they were meant to be together.”

Kay paused with his spoon halfway to his mouth. “And who told you this?”

“The perks of being blind,” Chirrut said, nodding his head knowingly. “People forget, sometimes, that it is your sight and not your hearing that is affected. The table across from us was being a lot louder before you arrived.”

“I can see why you always know things around here,” Kay sniffed as he resumed eating. “You're nosy.”

“Guilty!” Chirrut sang, laughing as the others joined them.

“Who's guilty?” Bodhi asked, confused, as he sat next to Kay.

“Chirrut is eavesdropping again.”

Baze thumped him softly on the head before handing him his tea. “I'd tell you to stop, but fat lot of good it'll do. Drink this and shut up for five minutes.”

Cassian pulled out his phone and set it in the middle of the table. “Meeting has been called for ten. I've been told to bring whomever I believe will be of help. I'd like Kay, Bodhi, and Jyn to attend. Baze? Chirrut? Care to join us?”

“If you need us to, we will, but I'd rather sit this one out,” Baze said. “I have some work I'd like to finish first.”

Chirrut nodded, setting down his cup. “I want to speak to agent Haley today, she what else they learned. I'll beg off, if I can.”

“Very well. Jyn, I know you want to check on your father, so go do so as soon as you're done here. Baze, Chirrut, I'll call as soon as we're done. Everyone else, stay with me.”

“Um, why am I attending?” Bodhi asked, nervous. “I'm no good at planning something like this.”

“You made deliveries for the empire. Did you ever visit Scarif?”

“No, but I used to know the access codes for it. It's an island in the south. Biggest issue is that you'll need an imperial ship to get there.”

“Would a plane or a boat be better?” Cassian asked.

“Plane. They won't be able to check it until its on the ground.”

“Good. Then I need you to come along. We need to convince them that a raid is necessary. And I need all of you to help.” Cassian studied them hard, eyes bright. “You are the hope we need, each with a knowledge that cannot be ignored. Now, Chirrut, what can you tell me about kyber?”

Chirrut grinned, face lighting up. “Where to begin?”

* * *

The meeting was just as bad as Cassian feared. Mon Mothma had managed to gather the leaders of the Rebel Alliance, many of them senators or trusted officials within the United Republic. Each wanted to be heard after the facts were presented, but none wanted to listen to the others.

“A direct attack is futile!” one aide screamed, hand banging down on the table. “It would just start a bigger fight with the Empire. We want this war to end, not grow even larger.”

“And how do we even know any of this is real?” sneered one senator, glaring at Jyn, Bodhi, and Kay were they stood opposite. “Are we to take the word of 'defectors', if they even are that. This could be a trap to lead us into fight to decimate our forces. There is no proof.”

“The proof is right in front of you,” Kay argued, pointing to the screens displaying schematics and research pulled from Galen's files. “Are you doubting the word of your own leader, as well? That seems pretty petty and suspect to me.”

“Kay...” Cassian muttered under his breath, kicking at his foot. Kay crossed his arms, but fell silent.

“We have the testimony of Galen Erso himself,” Dodonna said, “witnessed by some of us in this very room. That, along with the files leaves little room for interpretation.”

“Partial files, based on what we're seeing. And where is Erso to talk to us? What if we have questions? If we want to cross examine him.”

“My father is in no condition to speak to anyone right now,” Jyn said, mirroring Kay's stance.

“His injuries were quite severe,” Mon Mothma's aide said, consulting his tablet. “He was taken in last night again for internal bleeding and is currently in a medically induced coma.”

“How convenient,” the senator said, shuffling the papers before her. “So we have no definitive proof?”

“Saw Gerrera felt there was enough truth to base a raid on an Eadu base.”

“Saw Gerrera was insane!”

That statement threw the group into a heated argument again, as tempers flared and fears came to light. Fists were banged on tables, voices raised into shouts, wild gestures waving about. After several minutes, Mon Mothma stood up and waited for silence to fall.

“I know each of you is concerned,” she started, making eye contact with as many as she could. “I, too, am worried. Not only about our rebellion, not only about our Republic, but about our world. Our very lives could be at stake, and what proof do we have? A few incomplete reports and the words of a few individuals that may or may not be trustworthy.” She paused, pleased when no one dared interrupt. “However, I do trust these few. As of yet, they have not been proven wrong. They have been willing to put their lives at risk to try and bring us what is currently in front of us. Mister Rook,” she called, gesturing for Bodhi to come forward; “would you please tell us what you knew about what your job within the Empire was.”

Bodhi startled, glancing at Cassian for reassurance. He stepped forward when prompted, gulping nervously, as he took his place near the front.

“I, um, I'm Bodhi Rook. I used to work for the Empire, though I didn't know for sure that was who they were at first.”

“And we're supposed to believe that?” someone said, sarcasm dripping from their voice. Bodhi pulled in on himself before someone else called, “quiet! Let the boy speak!”

Drawing a deep breath, Bodhi started talking, words racing. “I didn't know at first. I needed a job and this company was hiring, they were a shipping company. Long haul. I, I learned to drive a truck, moved boxes around. Worked with the same people year after year. Eventually, I started hearing things, and I started to suspect that there might be someone else controlling things. But I needed the money. I, it...I was trying to help the families that adopted my sisters. We...Jedha was very poor by that time and there were little chances for legal work. My sisters, the families that adopted them were trying to leave, but the list was long and you needed a certain dollar amount. I figured it was too late for me, but they might have a chance. I sent them most of what I made. I lost contact though, around the time I met Galen.”

He paused as he heard murmuring around him, waiting to be interrupted and surprised when he wasn't. “Around the same time, I was asked if I'd be interested in a different type of delivery. They needed someone who was willing to go further, by plane mostly, carry more time sensitive items. I, I said yes. I thought I could earn more money, maybe get out myself once I had enough. I was in charge of loading and unloading, getting shipment lists signed off. I wanted to learn to fly, but that never happened, not there. Mister Erso was at the Eadu facility. They sent me there a few times. He sometimes was able to talk to me, if we had a free moment. Sometimes while they were checking what we dropped off, I would be in the break areas and Mister Erso, Galen, he would ask me about things—the weather, how the war was going, and later about me. I tried at first not to say much, but it was nice, you know? To have someone care. Or at least pretend to care. And I'm not brave. I knew what I had gotten into by this point was not good, that I needed to get out sooner rather than later. He started telling me about his life, about his daughter. About how he couldn't leave. He told be I could be strong, that I could be brave, if only I was willing to try. He gave me a flash drive, asked me to get it to either Saw or the Rebellion.

“So I ran. And ended up here. I hate what I did for them, especially knowing what they were planning. They are evil and must be stopped. Whether you believe me or not, know that I will do everything within my power to correct the mistakes I made.”

“Even if it means giving your life?” someone asked.

Bodhi pursed his lips, blinking rapidly. He tried to speak, dropping his head before he found his words. He looked up, eyes bright but determined. “Even if.”

He flinched as a hand landed on his shoulder, smiling when he recognized Jyn.

“I would like to speak as well,” she said, voice rising clear and with determination. “My name is Jyn Erso, and I am Galen's daughter. Until recently, I blamed a lot on my father. I felt that he had chosen to join the Empire, that he knew what he was doing. Until he was rescued, I continued to believe this. And then I saw where he was being held prisoner. From the time my mother was murdered by the Empire in front of us, my father has been held captive. He was forced to work, not on projects of peace like he wanted, but on weapons that could take the lives of millions, if used by those that want to spread fear. He tried to stall the work, to make it fail, but his efforts were recently discovered. He was left for dead by someone he once counted as a friend, and for what? To have no one believe that any of this is real?”

“Whether it is real or not is not the question,” the senator from Hosnia said. She pointed toward the screens, showing a partial schematic of a detonation device. “What, truly, could be done about this? How is it possible to stop it?”

“We think that the plans were just completed, or at least were in the final stages,” Kay said, tentatively stepping forward. “Galen's work is incomplete, though that appears to be on purpose. But some of the videos we acquired suggest that Orson Krennic, the man in charge of this project, had caught on to it and wasn't pleased?”

“And why should that matter?”

“Because Orson Krennic is no idiot,” Bail Organa, the senator from Alderaan said, arms crossed over his chest. He scowled at those collected in the room. “He was one of the top scientist to come out of an elite engineering program on Coruscant. Only a select few are ever accepted to it, and they have to be the best of the best in several scientific fields. Krennic and Erso were in the same year. It would make sense that Krennic would know if Galen was purposefully lying, just as it would make sense that he could finish the project himself if he applied himself. The man is also conceited and egotistical, as well as lazy. He wants the credit, but not the work.”

“He managed to escape,” Cassian stated as someone brought up the video feed from the raided facility, “along with most of the material being worked on. What was left was used to start the explosion that destroyed the base. I can tell you that whatever this stuff is, it has terrifying consequences.”

“Do you know where he went?”

“We believe Scarif,” Kay said, bringing up a map. “We found that records of the original plans might be stored there, as well as a testing sight for the compound.”

“Scarif is a resort area,” one of the senators scoffed. “Why would they target it? Why not someplace more populated?”

“Scarif is home to many wealthy individuals,” Jyn said, arms crossed over her chest. “Isn't also where the meeting between the Empire and the Republic is scheduled to take place soon? To discuss a treaty? The country is made up mostly of islands, it would be easy to run a test in a more secluded area and then target the meeting, would it not?”

“You seem to know an awful lot about planning a terrorist attack?”

“I was raised by Saw Gerrera,” Jyn said, smiling. “I was in charge of several hits against the Empire, something I never saw any of you do.”

Cassian elbowed her, glaring at her to shut up.

“And what is it you plan to do, then?” Bail asked. “What can you do?”

The four of them shared a quick look, before Jyn pulled her shoulders back. “We captured a plane. It should contain the access codes to get us through any restricted air space, if we need it. It's large enough for a infiltration team to be flown in. We get inside and set up a beacon for the rebels to take it out. If we can destroy the plans and their supplies, it'll ruin them.”

“I've talked to Chirrut. He knows about kyber,” Cassian said, shifting on his feet. “The mining process takes years, to get the amount that the Empire probably currently has. Traditional machinery is useless, due to the nature of refining it.” He hesitated, licking his lips before adding, “and, he thinks that the chemical they plan to use, coaxium, has been in play for years, going back to the separatist war. If it is, that alone will be devastating. He lost his sight to it, but got off luck. Other members of his team didn't fare as well.”

“I know what it is you speak of,” said an old man in the back. “It was used extensively in my country during the war. In it's natural state it will burn people, from the inside if inhaled, and unless its properly refined, it's highly unstable. There is little that can be done to stop it. It is, however, highly volatile and as such could only be used in its liquid form. Any other way it would burn up before reaching its target. There's a reason they stopped using it outside of flight tests. If they've figured out a way to contain it in a bomb and detonate it, this could mean disaster.”

“We must try something,” Jyn said, looking around at the room. “We must. To do nothing would be worse than death.”

“And what good would it do? It's a suicide mission.”

“It'd give the world hope. Isn't that what rebellions are for? It will show that we will not take this lying down, that we are willing to fight, not only for what is right, but for all those who cannot. At least, that is what someone told me when I first arrived here. And it's what I'll continue to believe.”

“Thank you,” Mon Mothma said, hands resting on the table. For a moment, she looked exhausted, much like how Cassian and the team felt. “I believe the time has come to put it to a vote. Do we infiltrate? Do we escalate this war? Or do we do nothing? All in favor?” She gazed around the room as hands went up, her aide making notes. “All opposed?” She sighed as far more hands went up at this. “Very well. I'm afraid that this is not a risk we can take at this time. As a rebellion, we are short on personnel, as well as funding and equipment. There is no concrete proof that they have moved the production to Scarif. As such, to make a move at this time would open up the Republic to negative attention. We are trying to garner peace, not condemn millions. I'm sorry.”

Cassian had known her long enough to know when she was being sincere. Her words were weighing heavy on her shoulders, aging her before his eyes. He nodded and gathered his team. “Come on,” he muttered. “Let's go.”

“This is ridiculous!” Jyn yelled, once they were away. “They're just going to sit back and do nothing? While the empire prepares to wipe us all out? How can they?”

“Jyn, please,” Cassian started. Jyn cut him off with a raised finger.

“This will be on them, not on us. I won't sit back and let this happen.”

“What do you plan on doing?” Bodhi asked dejectedly.

“I don't know yet, but I'm going to go check on my father again.” She hesitated, patting Cassian's arm. “Thank you for getting someone else to watch him.”

“I couldn't protect my own family,” he said; “it's only right that I try and help what's left of yours.”

* * *

There had been no change from that morning with Galen's condition. Jyn had thanked the rebel Cassian had charged with protection, wandering off until she found Bodhi.

“I was just looking for you,” he said. “Chirrut and Baze grabbed some sandwiches, if you want some. They're in the main hanger with Kay.”

“Why there and not the dining hall? Seems a bit odd.”

“Baze was pretty angry when Kay told him what happened. Having him in an area where officials might wander around didn't seem smart right now.”

Jyn snorted. “Sounds fair.”

“Have you thought more about what you want to do?” Bodhi asked as they walked in.

“I—” Jyn fell silent as she noticed Cassian walking up.

“Jyn.” He nervously licked his lip, glancing around. “If you have a plan, now may be a good time to say it.”

“Why?” she asked, suspicious.

“I can get us a team,” he said, voice quiet.

She frowned at him, unsure of what she heard. “Excuse me?”

Cassian started to speak when he noticed Bail walking up. “Senator Organa. What brings you out here?”

“I should ask you the same thing,” Bail said, raising an eyebrow as he took in the assorted personnel. “Seems to me that a lot of people are here that don't need to be.”

The three nervously exchanged a look, trying to come up with an excuse.

“What I'm trying to get at,” he said, arms crossed, “is that I will fully support whatever you decide to do.” He sighed. “Look, Alderaan has always been outspoken when it comes to human rights. We've always been the first ones in providing aid, never asking for anything in return. This war has been hard on us. We've been in a delicate situation of having to stay quiet far more than we'd like. I can't do that anymore. If this weapon comes to pass, we'll be one of the first targeted, after this base and the Republic capital. For my own safety, I hold no regards. But my wife? My daughter? My people? I can't let them suffer.”

“It could mean your seat in the senate, if you support us,” Cassian warned.

“I've already given it up. I resigned an hour ago. My daughter has stepped in in my place. Leia is far more capable than I am at this point. She would fully back you on this. She's been after the Republic to declare that they will not sit back anymore. She's made me very proud.”

“There is nothing we need, just back up. Think you can provide that?” Jyn asked, a smile starting to rise on her face.

“It would be my pleasure. I think that once the play is in motion, few will try and stop you. They had to make the token effort. You have more support than you know.”

“Very well. Cassian, were you serious about a team?”

“I was.”

“Then what are we waiting for?”

“I can tell you one thing,” Kay said, indignant as he, Baze, and Chirrut walked up behind them. “This is highly likely to be a suicide mission. The odds of any of you returning is next to none.”

“Which is why I'm not asking you to join us,” Cassian said. “No one has to join unless they want to.”

“Which is why I am,” Kay said, eyes flashing. “I won't sit back and let you do something incredibly stupid on your own. Someone needs to remind you of that.”

Cassian's eyebrow went up but he didn't respond. He turned toward Baze and Chirrut.

“Of course we're joining you,” Chirrut said, eyes bright. “The force has led us to this moment. It would be wrong to quit now.”

“This needs to stop,” Baze rumbled, hands shoved deep into his pockets. “No one else should suffer for ones inability to act.”

Cassian nodded and turned to Jyn.

“Obviously I'm in.”

“Just double checking. Bodhi?”

Bodhi hesitated, lower lip caught between his teeth. He pulled his shoulders back and drew a deep breath. “I'm in.”

“Good,” Bail said, clasping Bodhi and Jyn on the shoulders. “How soon can you get a team together?”

Cassian pointed back toward the hanger, were a crowd had gathered next to the stolen plane. “I think that should be sufficient for an infiltration mission. We can leave whenever.”

“Excellent. I'll get you back up. I'll start as soon as you leave.” Bail grew serious as he studied them. “What you are about to do, most won't ever realize. You are some of the bravest people I have ever had the honor to meet, and I had the pleasure to work with Jedi's. May the force be with you and maybe you safely return to us.”

“What...what'll happen if they refuse to send back up?” Bodhi asked, nervous.

“Then I'll mobilize every citizen in Alderaan itself. We won't let you fight alone.”

Cassian shook his hand and smiled. “It might be best if you are no where near here when we leave.”

“I fear very little,” Bail said, though he did turn to leave. “You have one hour before I mobilize who ever I can. Don't waste it.”

Cassian waited until he left before leading the group over to the gathered crowd. Most of the men and women that had taken part in the Eadu raid were there, joined by a handful more. They were dressed as if for battle, gear stacked near the plane as a ground crew readied it. Cassian studied them for a moment, appraising. “This fight will be one of the hardest of our lives,” he began. “If we go in, we go in with no support and possibly no exit strategy. If we survive, we could well be labeled traitors by our own. If you choose to do this, if you choose to risk everything, then get on board. If you choose to leave, know that we won't blame you. This is your choice; I can't and won't make it for you.”

Sargeant Melshi, off to the side, shifted slightly. “None of us are leaving captain. We've, all of us, done things for this rebellion that don't sit well with us. But we've done them because it's what was necessary. You told us, years ago, that rebellions were built on hope. We're willing to give it that. We're willing to be that hope.” The others murmured their agreements, heads nodding. Cassian nodded, unable to say anything as they started loading their gear. He ducked his head, overwhelmed for a moment. He had fought for so long; things were finally coming to a head and it was difficult to process that soon they could be facing that final ending, the last moment. Squaring his shoulders, eyes bright, Cassian turned to his team.

“Let's begin.”

Chapter Text

Baze was fussing over Chirrut in the hold, obsessively checking and rechecking his vest as the rebels around them worked on securing the needed gear. Chirrut huffed in annoyance, face tight. “I can put on my own armor you know. I might be blind, but I'm not helpless.”

“I never once have thought of you as helpless,” Baze said, voice calm. “I know you can do anything you set your mind to. But let me have this, please. I'll feel better knowing that you'll be safer.”

Sighing, Chirrut reached for his face, pulling him forward until their foreheads rested together. “Fine then. For your sanity, I'll allow it. But you're acting like a damn mother hen.”

“Like you don't enjoy it.” Baze smirked as he pulled him into a hug.

“Only when its you.”

Jyn walked past them on her way to check the communication gear stationed near the cockpit. “They're being sickeningly cute again,” she told Cassian, nodding back toward the couple tucked near a corner.

“It's the first major mission they've gone on in years. It could be worse.”

“I'm not complaining,” she said, smiling. “I aspire to that, someday. Relationship goals and what all. Tell me that you've never dreamed of loving someone as much as that?”

“I've been fighting an active war most of my life. Relationships haven't exactly been a priority,” Cassian deadpanned, finishing his check of the wiring. “Though, I wouldn't say no at a later date.”

Jyn watched as a slight blush spread across his face. “So is that your pathetic way of asking me to go on a date, captain?”

“I never said anything of the sort.”

“Fine. Then I'll ask. Want to go get coffee with me sometime?”

“No,” Cassian said, closing the cabinet and standing up. “But ask me again after this is all over. You might like the answer.”

Jyn snorted, trying hard to keep from laughing. “You are horrible at flirting.”

“Again, I've spent my life in an active war zone. I think that excuses me.”

“Just keep telling yourself that.”

Cassian glared at her. “Go check in with Curtis and make sure everyone is ready.”

“Yes sir, captain.” She winked at him as she walked away, laughing when she heard his sigh.

* * *

Bodhi was obsessively checking and rechecking everything in the cockpit, muttering to himself as he did. Beside him, Kay and Dolan, were programming in the coordinates for Scarif. Dolan reached over and patted him on the shoulder.

“You'll be fine,” he said, deep voice rumbling. “You clearly know what you're doing. If you're nervous, just know that Cassian won't fault you if you want to leave.”

“I need to do this,” Bodhi mumbled, frowning. “I need to prove to myself that I can do this.”

“Then I applaud you. Most wouldn't.” He looked up as Cassian came in. “We're ready when you are, captain. We've already been given clearance from the ground crew.”

“Does the tower know about this?”

“Not yet,” Bodhi said. “We thought it'd be best to wait until takeoff to notify them.”

“Good.” Cassian sat next to Bodhi and picked up a head set. He pressed a button on the intercom, checking one of the monitors as he did. “Is everything secured in the hold?”

“Affirmative, captain,” came the response.

“Good. Take off sequence to commence in one minute.” He nodded to Bodhi. “Ready?”

“No,” Bodhi said as he started the necessary steps. He keyed his own headset as he communicated with the ground crew, engines of the plane whining as they powered up.

“Kay, make sure you're strapped in,” Cassian said, following his own procedures. Kay rolled his eyes but tugged on the straps of the jump seat to prove they were tight.

When prompted, Bodhi eased the plane into motion, allowing it to roll slowly out of the hanger and onto the tarmac next to the runway. Cassian nodded toward an alert light that started blinking. “Looks like they've noticed us. Better answer it.”

“Maybe you should,” Bodhi said, sounding nervous.

“You're the pilot. I have faith in you.”

Gulping, Bodhi acknowledged the call, hands shaking slightly.

“Vehicle X-91, impounded Imperial shuttle, you are not authorized for movement. Power down immediately and be prepared for security protocol seven.”

“Negative, tower. Departing from runway two, vector nine, approximately two minutes.”

“Power down! Who is this?”

“They want a call sign,” Kay muttered, nervously watching a series of vehicles approaching.

Bodhi listened to the ground crew telling him they were clear and pushed the plane into motion again. “Tower, be advised, Rogue One departing from runway two.”

“Rogue One? There is no Rogue One? Who is this?!”

“Lifting off,” Bodhi said, pulling back on the controls as the plane lifted off the ground. “Rogue One clear of ground.” Bodhi swiftly cut the communication, ending the argument gearing up on the other end. “I, ah, is that name okay?” he asked Cassian.

Cassian smiled at him, eyes bright. “It's perfect.”

“I knew you had what it took to be a rebel,” Dolan said, reaching forward to smack him on the shoulder. “Welcome to the family of outcasts. We'll definitely be in trouble when we get back. I can't wait to see their faces.”

“Assuming we survive,” Kay said.

“Oh, we will. I want to lord this over them as long as I can, even if I have to do it from a jail cell.” Dolan checked the radar, laughing. “Looks like we're not important enough to follow at least.”

“The rebellion doesn't want to be associated with us in case we're wrong.” Cassian removed his headset and stood up. “Bodhi, if you'll be okay for a few minutes, I'll send Tahl up shortly.”

Bodhi nodded as he walked out, hands tight on the controls. “Do you think that Bail will be able to get us backup?”

“Organa's never lied before. I trust him, even if he is a politician. Just have to have faith.”

* * *

The mood on this flight was vastly different than the last one. Everyone seemed to know that the odds of surviving, of returning, were low; missions always carried a sense of danger, but this time was different. It was unsanctioned, with no guaranteed support. Conversations were quiet, laughter present but drying up quickly. Most tried to rest, if they could. Others performed obsessive checks on weapons.

Baze gazed around at the assembled men and women. Each one was a skilled agent within the rebellion. Most were spies, a few assassins, and as such had committed acts that often left them unable to truly fit in anywhere else. He had known most of them for the entire time he had been associated with the Alliance, a by-product of Chirrut having to strike up conversations with everyone he met. They were young, though there were a few around his age. Most of them wouldn't have looked out of place at a college; in another life, another world, that might have been their fate.

He sighed quietly and leaned closer to Chirrut. He hated this, the anticipation of what was to come. He felt the dread in the pit of his stomach, far stronger than normal. Beside him, Chirrut was leaning back, eyes closed tight as he meditated; he reached out, palm up, for Baze's hand, which he willingly gave over. A quick squeeze went a long way toward comforting him, even as he knew they would not walk away unscathed. Jyn sat opposite them, rolling her mother's pendant over and over in her hands, eyes dark. She seemed to sense Baze staring at her and finally glanced up. He was suddenly struck by just how young she was, barely considered a legal adult in some countries. He waved her over, pulling her in as she settled next to him.

And wished things could be different.

* * *

Bodhi and Tahl had switched out with two other pilots and were resting when Cassian received the first of the encoded transmissions. As tired as he was, he found himself unable to rest.

The first message was easy to interpret. It was from Bail and stated that a court martial would be awaiting each of them when they returned. He snorted and erased its evidence. The second was a bit tougher and finally he woke Dolan and Kay up, asking them to confirm what he suspected. The message contained two parts. The first part contained a series of numbers as well as a line from an old Alderaanian poem; the second half was what could only be a set of coordinates, though not a set that Cassian recognized.

Dolan was able to figure out that the coordinates were for a small ocean locked country known as Mon Cala, located half way between their starting point and Scarif. “It's Imperial occupied, but has a fueling station for transport ships to the south. Tourist planes tend to visit the northern half for the reefs, back when they were still allowed in.”

“Our access codes should allow us to land, but will it be safe?” Kay asked, frowning at the screen.

Dolan shrugged. “We have quite a few members in the rebellion that were from Mon Cala originally. They can't go home and the citizens still there aren't allowed to leave. There's little love for the Empire there.”

“Either way, we need to refuel.” Cassian glanced up as Baze walked over. “We have little choice. Baze, do you recognize this phrase?” Cassian asked, pointing out the line that was puzzling him. He was little prepared for Baze to break out into laughter, face lighting up.

“Of course. Our squad leader loved that poem, we used to use it all the time on missions to communicate what we couldn't actually say. Make the stop. They locals will know who we are, or at least who we work for. They'll help us.”

“So it's just the Imperials we have to worry about,” Kay muttered.

“Not necessarily,” Baze stated, ignoring the puzzled looks. “We found a small selection of Imperial uniforms in a storage compartment. Surprised the Alliance didn't burn them. Jyn already found one that'll fit her and one of the troopers. Looks like there are some that will fit both you and Kay,” he said, pointing to Cassian. “Shouldn't be that hard to pretend to be making a supply run, considering this is a cargo ship. Troops can hid in the holds long enough to refuel.”

“What if they recognize this ship?”

“As far as they know, this ship was destroyed along with the Eadu base. I wouldn't worry yet.”

Kay rolled his eyes but started plotting the course. “You're all insane.”

“Then why'd you join us?” Dolan asked.

“Poor impulse control.”

* * *

As the plane taxied to a stop, Cassian ran through the multiple ways this could go wrong in his head. He had forced Bodhi and Kay into hiding on this one, unsure if they would be recognized. He tugged nervously at the collar of the uniform before Jyn's gloved hands smacked his hands away.

“Stop that,” came her muffled response through her helmets speaker. She had flipped up the visor so she could glare at him. “I thought you were supposed to be a spy. At least pretend to be comfortable in the uniform.”

“I'll be fine once we start,” he threw back, glaring at her. He straightened his hat before striding toward the ramp. “Don't start any trouble.”

“I promise nothing.”

He huffed. “It's not too late to lock you up.”

She rolled her eyes before locking her visor in place. Around them the troops that Cassian had selected were dressed and in place. Empty storage units, normally stored below, had been brought up and replaced with his men after they had covered them in tarps and lined them along the walls of the hold. He drew himself up as the ramp was lowered.

The day was overcast, a light cool breeze filling the plane. Cassian and his men walked down and waited for the Imperial agent to approach them. As the man swaggered up, Cassian studied the men sullenly walking up behind him. They clearly hated the man but could do nothing about it.

“Cargo ship 8981, hand over your manifest,” the smug agent said. Cassian handed over tablet Kay had forged with Bodhi's help, pretending to be bored as he waited. The agent, trying to hold on to his power as long as possible, started scrutinizing the order, looking for anything he could nitpick. “It says here that you are carrying filament and metal components. I'll need to see inside the containers.”

“Our manifest marks us as a non search, top secret parts only. I cannot let you do that.”

“I'll have you know that it is my job to ensure that everything is on the up and up. Do you dare try and stop me?”

“I'm merely following orders. If you truly feel it is necessary,” Cassian continued, sounding as bored and uninterested as possible, “then allow me to contact Director Krennic and alert him to the issue as to why his delivery will be late.”

The agent visibly paled and handed back the tablet. “Very well, I won't need to see inside of them. But I will need to inspect the interior of your ship.”

“If its necessary.” Cassian waved at one of his men. “Make sure nothing is tampered with.”

The man glared at him with as much hatred as he could muster and stomped up the ramp. Cassian turned toward the waiting men and impatiently gestured for them to start the fueling process. He clasped his hands behind his back and gazes around, pretending disinterest as he took note of the armed troopers standing on the perimeter of the grounds. He noticed that while they held their weapons ready, they were also lax in their watch. He figured this was a place of exile for these troops, a place to be stationed out of the way in an unimportant assignment. The residents of Mon Cala had no way to fight back; they had been under Imperial occupation long enough that few remembered when they were independent, and as the world abandoned them, so too did hope. He turned back toward the man that was clearly in charge, noting as he did that while the man directed his crew he also was moving closer to Cassian. He scowled at him from under the brim of his hat.

Cassian cleared his throat and repeated the line of poetry from the transmission. The man looked away before reaching into his overalls. “Here,” the man muttered, passing a paper over. “May whatever guides you lead you to victory. We share the rebellions goals, even if we can personally do nothing about it. Good luck. The Mon Calamari cheer you on.”

Cassian nodded as the agent came back out, disgruntled at finding nothing. Jyn, helmet still in place, nudged one of the locals away from the ramp as they finished up, pointing with her weapon for them to back away. The agent made an angry gesture toward the ship.

“You have your fuel, so move on. You don't want to be late for you meeting with Krennic.”

“I'm sure he'll be thrilled to learn about the hospitality found here. Or maybe Grand Moff Tarkin will like to know better.” It gave him great pleasure to see the color once again drain from the man's face as they re-boarded.

“Nothing was planted, captain,” the trooper said, pulling off his cap.

“Good. Let's take off. We need to hurry.”

“Why's that?” Jyn asked.

Cassian unfolded the paper and held it up. A time was written on it. “Because we need to be in place before our backup arrives. Looks like we only have a four hour head start.”

She grabbed the paper, studying the writing. “That's either too much time or not enough.”

“Guess we'll find out.”

* * *

It had been early morning when they had left Mon Cala. By mid afternoon, local time, they arrived on the outskirts of Scarif. Bodhi and Tahl were back behind the controls, Dolan directing them toward which island they needed. Baze and Cassian were making sure everyone had their armor in place and gear ready. The teams had been prepped, each person knowing what they needed to do. Chirrut was in his corner, mumbling his usual prayer. “I am one with the force and the force is with me.” It was creating an almost soothing white noise, serving to relax people more than annoy them. Jyn was helping Kay into his uniform. He had managed to hack into the database at Mon Cala and determine that he and Bodhi were wanted in name only; they weren't high enough within the Empire to be considered a serious threat, thus no photos of them were available. He had started laughing when he told them this, stating that if it wasn't for the two of them, none of this would be happening.

“From what I've read, Scarif has several islands that are connected by natural land bridges, so we should be able to land farther away and trek in,” he said, frowning at the gloves Jyn was trying to hand him. “Do I have to wear them?”

“To pass as an officer, yes. You can take them off once we're inside.”

He sighed and pulled them on.

“Remember,” Cassian said. “Once we land I need you to stick close to Jyn and myself.”

“What about Bodhi?”

“He's going with Baze and Chirrut. There is something else I need them to do. I need you with us to help look for information. Think you can follow orders Kay?”

“I am insulted Cassian. Have I ever not done what you asked me to?”

“Yes. Quite often.”

Kay sniffed and lifted his nose toward the ceiling. “Well, those times you asked me to do things that were stupid.”

Cassian sighed and rubbed his forehead. “Kay...” he warned.

Jyn rolled her eyes and grabbed her own armor again.

“Approaching our landing site,” came across the intercom. “Five minutes.”

There was a scramble as everyone secured themselves or moved into position. Baze pulled Chirrut to his feet and braced him against the wall as the plane tipped downward. “Faith, my love,” Chirrut murmured to Baze, leaning against him. “It is time to fight. I'll stay by your side through it all.”

“Damn straight. You cause too much trouble otherwise.”

“Brace for impact!” Dolan yelled from the front of the plane. There was only time for a few muttered questions before the plane's wheels touched down on land for the first time, sending a hard jolt through the plane and bouncing those not strapped in around. A few people cried out as they lifted off again only to make another hard impact before the plane skidded to a shuddering stop.

“What the fuck was that!” Cassian shouted as he rushed toward the cockpit. Baze was already unlatching the ramp, working the controls to extend it.

“Cassian, I'm sorry!” Bodhi cried as he unbuckled his harness. “We tried to find a better landing point, but this was the best option!”

“We had a plan! Land us at the base and the troops would hide until we were clear. What the hell happened?”

“We picked up a signal for the Grand Moff's ship,” Tahl said, pushing his hair from his face. He pointed toward the screen. “There was an old landing strip we were planning to use near the base. We could have made it seem like we overshot and had to make an emergency landing, except with the Grand Moff there, we'd have never gotten away with it.”

“They didn't spot us,” Dolan said, leaning back in his seat. “There's a large number of Imperial ships flying around right now. We should be safe here.”

“And where is here?” Cassian sighed.

“Southern side of the island,” Tahl said, pointing at the map. “It's shouldn't be a hard hike. Right here,” he pointed out a trail, “there's an old path. If you keep the men to the right of it, they should be able to approach the base without detection.”

“Except what about us? We can't just walk up out of the jungle. 'Oh, hello, we've just been wandering around like idiots. Yes, no, I can't tell you where we came from.'”

“Contact the base,” Jyn said, coming up behind him. “I'm sure our plane was spotted, even if it wasn't suspicious to them. We can just contact them to come pick us up and take us there while the troops sneak up from the side.”

“And what about the plane?” Dolan asked, frowning. “If they come within twenty yards of it they'll know it was stolen.”

“We burn it,” Cassian said, watching Jyn. “Make it look like an engine malfunction.”

“But how do we escape?” Bodhi asked, nervous.

“Either we have a rescue coming or we steal another plane. I don't think we have any other choice.” Cassian sighed and pulled on his cap. “Send the message.”

Dolan and Tahl exchanged a look before setting up the frequency on the comm. Cassian gestured for Bodhi and Jyn to follow him. He found the troops standing outside, Baze and Chirrut at their head. “Slight change in plans,” Cassian said, glancing around. “As you can see, we didn't land where we expected. There is a trail through the jungle though that will lead to the base. Stay to the right of it, the cover's better. We'll be contacting the base and arranging a pick up. The documents we have should be good enough to get us inside.”

“And the plane?” Baze asked, already certain of the answer.

“Light it up.”

Baze nodded and turned toward the troops, barking out orders. Two women came forward to tamper with the engines, while Melshi started cobbling together a set of explosives. Dolan, Bodhi, and Tahl exited, Bodhi clearly nervous as he hurried toward Chirrut.

“Fifteen minutes,” Tahl said, glancing at his watch.

“Okay. Go with Baze, he'll sort you out. Everyone, get moving. Stick to the plan if you can. See you on the other side.” Cassian waited until they disappeared before nodding to the troops still standing by the plane. “Get clear and set it off.”

Everyone rushed out of range as the explosion took hold; in less than moment the plane was awash in flames, moving quickly towards being unrecognizable. Cassian turned toward Jyn, sighing. “I really hate to have to ask this, but I need you to hit me—”

The words were barely out of his mouth before her fist connected with his face, making him stagger back. Wincing, he brushed at the cut at the corner of his mouth, glaring at her. “Thank you, it's perfect.”

“Anytime. Glad to help.”

He scowled as he took in the others. Most had some form of bruising on them, lending an air of reality to their story of a crash landing. He nodded. “May this actually work.”

“What about a pilot?” One of this troops asked.

“Died on impact. By the time they get that out it won't matter that there is no body. We'll either be in or be dead.”

“Where's that hope you always talk about, Andor?” Jyn teased as she settled her helmet into place.

“It went out the window when Tarkin was spotted. That man is pure evil.”

“Krennic isn't any better,” Jyn huffed, tugging on her gloves.

“Krennic is bad, but he is cocky and egotistical. Tarkin is cold and calculating. If he shows up here, none of us will walk away.” Cassian sighed. “We could use some of Chirrut's force now.”

It wasn't long before they heard the sound of approaching engines. “Get ready!” one of the women yelled. “Two incoming transports.”

A nervous energy had settled over the rebels, an uncertainty that existed at the start of each mission. Cassian had worked with most of these men and women for years and trusted them. More so, he trusted Baze and Chirrut to lead the rest of them to where they needed to be. He glanced at Kay, who was frowning near the back in his stolen imperial uniform.

“Stay close to Kay,” he whispered to Jyn. “Make sure he stays safe.”

Jyn didn't have time to acknowledge him as a line of four all terrain transports pulled up. The disguised rebels loosely gathered around Cassian, alert but at ease. They shifted as doors opened and helmeted troopers stepped out, weapons drawn. Cassian held up his fist as a signal to stand down and took a step towards the officer that approached them.

“Papers or they open fire.”

Cassian pulled out their forged documents and held them out, waiting patiently as they were scrutinized. The officer looked over at their burning plane, eyebrow raised. “What happened?”

“Engine failure. We thought we could reach the airfield but lost altitude before that.”

“We have no record of your ship being inbound. Why would that be?”

“Unrecorded cargo generally doesn't come in announced.”

The officer studied Cassian, face suspicious. “What were you carrying?”

Kay stepped forward, tablet in hand. He held it out as he gestured toward the plane. “Casings and components, mostly. Small parts. We managed to save a few boxes before the fire spread.” He pointed toward a stack of boxes on the ground, filled with scavenged scrapes from the hold of the ship.

The officers expression never changed, boring into Kay before he snapped his fingers, sending two of the troops forward to pry open the boxes. They signaled that the boxes were clear before taking them and loading them in one of the vehicles. Sighing, the officer looked over the gathered men and women, frowning slightly. “Which one is the pilot?”

“Died when the engine blew,” Cassian said, “along with the rest of the crew. We were just a cargo ship, so we weren't fully staffed, thankfully.”

The officer huffed and signaled four of his men forward. “Stay with the ship, wait for support to come put out the fire. You three, take those boxes to be inspected. Make sure everything is what it's actually supposed to be. The rest of you will come with me. Krennic will want to speak to you.”

Cassian glanced over at his team, pointing toward Jyn, Kay, and one other rebel to join him. He didn't like having to separate, but knew there was little other choice. His team was smart, they could hold their own. He settled in the back of one vehicle, nestled between Kay and Jyn, as the engine sprung to life. For better or for worse, the mission was progressing, even if it wasn't going according to plan. Cassian was good at improvising, but he worried about Kay and Jyn. One had a hard time lying while the other was a loose cannon. He felt his headache returning, hoping that they could keep it together long enough to accomplish their goal. He wouldn't even think about survival right now. That would be a bonus.

Chapter Text

Dolan and Baze led the remaining men and women through the jungle, darting through the trees and dunes. Chirrut followed close to Baze, echo box picking up the signal from the box strapped to Baze's harness; he was careful to keep his staff low as he moved, sweeping it slightly wider than he normally would have as he kept his head down to avoid any vines they might encounter. He could hear Bodhi's breathing behind him as well as Baze's fist thumping on the trunks of the palm trees they passed between, all helping him to stay alert to his task. He paused when he felt Baze's arm on his chest, head tilted as he listened for the cause of the stop.

Up ahead, Dolan had spotted the approaching vehicles and signaled back for the rest to halt. Baze was quick to join him, watching from the cover as two black transports passed by, heading back toward the base. Dolan nodded and proceeded on, following low to the ground. Baze signaled for Darla to follow him, returning quickly to the group. “We're close,” he murmured, squatting down to wait. “Looks like we'll have to cross an open area ahead, a lagoon, possibly. Dolan and Darla are scouting it out.” The rest of the team settled in to wait, some choosing to remain standing while others laid down in the shade. Chirrut threw himself down next to Baze, poking his staff at his ankles.

“Is it nice here? It seems like it should be.”

“Chirrut, be quiet.”

“I'm just saying, it's a tropical island, so it must be nice. Maybe we should come back here on vacation after this is all over. Just you, me, the sun, the sand. Ocean breezes and cool waves. I could wear a speedo.”

“I will gag you and tie you to a tree if you don't shut up,” Baze scowled.

“Please, Baze! Not in front of our son,” Chirrut joked, head tilting toward Bodhi. “Let's save the kinkier stuff for when we're alone.”

Baze pushed him over, blushing as he stood up and walked away. Chirrut snorted where he lay next to Bodhi in the sand, grinning as he relaxed. “Tell me he was smiling at least. I know this is a serious mission, but I can't let him get too far into his head.”

“He was,” Bodhi said, voice soft. “Though he did look pretty mad as well.”

“Good, good. Then it helped.”

“Do you really see me as your son?” he asked, nervous.

“You're a good man, Bodhi Rook. You've been on your own far too long without any family. If you want, you'll always have a place in ours.”

Bodhi swallowed, unable to speak. He nodded his head, squeezing Chirrut's hand to tell him what he was thinking. Chirrut smiled and nodded.

It wasn't long before a whistle reached them. Within moments, they were on the move again, crossing out of the cover of the trees and into the bright sunlight of Scarif. They were swift to cross the hundred yards of open space, transitioning from sand to water before reaching the shore on the far side. They rushed back into the tree line, moving swiftly through the lines of palms toward the landing strip. They separated into their assigned groups, moving to take cover on the perimeter of the area. Baze pulled Chirrut and Bodhi with him, pushing Bodhi down as the guards patrolling the area turned in their direction. He scanned around them, nodding at Tahl across from them.

“Now what?” Bodhi whispered nervously.

“We wait.”

* * *

The officer that had picked them up was on his phone, conversation too quiet to be overheard. Jyn studied the scenery as they drove, attempting to see if she could spot any of the rebels and pleased when she couldn't. Saw had taught her that the Rebellion was lead by people who didn't understand stealth and tactics; she was glad to find that belief proven wrong so far.

Beside her, Cassian stiffened as they approached the base. She turned to see a private plane taxing down the runway, recognizing the seal on the side as used by the top officials in the empire. Good, she thought, at least we won't have to deal with Tarkin.

“Scan your ID at the door,” the official said, tucking his phone away. He pointed toward a building to their left. “Take the hallway on the right, Krennic will be waiting in the control room.” Cassian nodded and nudged Kay to get him to open the door. He was stopped by a hand on his shoulder. “Only these four men may accompany you. The rest can wait out here.”

“I take it there is little trust to be had here?”

“Call it a precaution.”

Fighting to keep his expression neutral, Cassian climbed out and waited for Jyn and the other rebel to join him. He waved away the others, watching with concern as they were surrounded by Imperial forces. He started for the door, leaning subtly toward Kay as they walked. “Will that ID that we acquired on Mon Cala work?”

“I think so.”

“How sure are you?”

“Sixty percent?”

Cassian turned to glare at Kay. “I don't like those odds.”

“Then I won't tell you the odds of us surviving this.”

“Please don't.”

Kay fidgeted as Cassian pulled out the pass. “They're not very high.”

“Kay. Please shut up.” Cassian took a deep breath and scanned the pass, relieved when the light turned green. He gestured for Jyn to proceed him, followed by Kay as he spoke to the rebel with them. “Is everyone in place?”

“Looks like it.”

“Good. Once we're in, give the signal to move in. Have them wait to attack until we're in place.”

“Yes sir.”

Cassian stepped inside and pressed the control to close the door. He looked around, nodding toward a door on their left. They swiftly moved out of the hall, just as a patrol turned the corner. Kay was already patching into their network, pulling up the building's floor plan. Beside him, the rebel was talking softly into his handset, relaying Cassian's orders.

Jyn pointed toward a room on the map. “There. That's where the archives are. If they have the full plans, that's where they'll be.”

Kay's fingers were flying over the keyboard, eyes scanning the screen. “I've sent the map to those locations outside. It looks like there is a large concentration of troops north of here, two floors down.”

“That's where the weapons are,” Cassian said, frowning. “We need to set the explosives.”

“Bigger problem,” the rebel said, listening to whatever was happening outside. “Looks like they might be gearing up for a test. There's a lot of movement going on near the airfield.”

“We need to hurry. Kay? Korbin? Can I trust you to get to the archives alone?”

“Got it, captain.”

“What about you?” Kay asked, suspicious. “Where are you going?”

“Jyn and I will be following, but first we need to cause a little havoc.”

“I want to join you. The Empire has made my life a living hell for years, I want to make them suffer.”

“And you will, Kay. But I need you to follow orders.”

Kay stared him down. “Fine, but you better stay safe. I'm not losing my only friend if I can help it.”

“What am I?” Jyn asked, teasing.

“I haven't formed an opinion about you yet.”

Jyn rolled her eyes but let it drop. Cassian signaled for them to go, turning toward Jyn as they did. He pulled out his handset and keyed it into the rebel's frequency. They wouldn't use it again until necessary, hoping to keep from being discovered before everything was in place.

“Come on,” he said to Jyn, glancing once more at the plans before clearing the computer. “We need to get to the security room and override their codes. Are you still good at rewiring systems?”

“Better than you, old man.”

“I'm only five years older than you.”

“Then quit acting like you're Baze's age.” She flipped down her visor and stepped out into the open, scanning her comm until it picked up the bases frequency. “Last one there has to buy the loser coffee.”

“We're not racing.”

“Say's the man about to lose.”

Cassian was saved from having to respond by a passing patrol. He and Jyn walked with a purpose, keeping their pace steady as they went. He pointed toward an elevator, stepping in quickly and scanning for access to the third floor. Jyn was checking the weapon she carried, standing back as the doors opened. Cassian stepped out, clearing his throat as he approached the two men sitting at a desk.

“No entry,” one said, barely glancing up. Cassian cleared his throat again and stepped aside.

Jyn was quick to dart forward, grabbing the first man and dragging her knife across his throat. With a gurgle, he fell back, unable to draw breath to scream. The other man jumped up, panicked as Cassian grabbed him and broke his neck. They quickly pushed the bodies under the desk and moved toward the double doors behind them. Jyn pulled one of the badges off one of the dead men and opened the door.

She and Cassian moved forward quickly, door locking behind them as Jyn opened fire on the technicians inside. The four men inside weren't suspecting any one intent on causing trouble and were unprepared for a fight. Cassian pulled one of the bodies away from the controls, studying the cameras as he settled in. He pointed toward one showing Kay and Korbin approaching the archives, looking quickly until he found Krennic in one of the conference rooms.

Jyn was already working on the systems, rewiring it to open all door at their command. “You know, Kay would have been faster at this.”

“I want him as far away from the fight as possible.”

“And yet you sent Bodhi into it,” she said, voice shrewd.

“Bodhi is as safe as I can make him. Chirrut won't let anything happen to him, and Baze will protect Chirrut. Besides, Chirrut's orders are to get the archive information along with Bodhi and Kay onto a plane and out of here, regardless of whether we receive backup or not.”

“Anyone else in on this plan?”

“Enough that it hopefully works.”

“And what about us? About you?”

“I'm expendable,” Cassian said, working on the controls for the rolling doors of the warehouses and outbuildings.

“If you think that, than you truly are a moron. We all walk away from this or no one does. Rogue One is a team. Can't do much without a captain.”

“We'll discuss this later.”

“You better believe it.”

Cassian finished his part right as Jyn turned to him. “Ready?” he asked.

“As much as we can be.”

“Good.” He picked up his handset and keyed it on. “Rogue One. This is your captain. We are a go. Light it up. One prisoner.”

As the affirmatives started coming in, he leaned over and keyed in the override sequence Jyn had set up. Around the base, doors began unlocking as alarms started sounding. Jyn quickly set up one of the compact explosives that the rebels had developed, securing it to the underside of the panel. She and Cassian moved swiftly out of the room and toward the stairs right as the elevator opened and a group of troopers and technicians stormed out.

“What the hell?” one asked, taking in the dead men right as the explosive went off. Jyn and Cassian ducked low on the stairwell as the blast knocked out the door before hurrying toward the ground floor. They swiftly made their way to the archives, avoiding as many Imperials as they could on the way. As they burst into the room, Kay startled as Korbin leveled his gun at them, lowering it as he recognized them.

“Glad you could join us,” he said, pointing toward the row after row of data banks. “We might have a bigger problem that anticipated.”

“Kay, have you found what we were looking for?” Cassian asked, pulling off his Imperial uniform.

“Mostly. They've stored everything in parts. I've been trying to piece it together, without much luck.”

“Are there any rebel bases nearby?” Jyn asked. “It might be easier to transmit as much as we can. It would definitely hurt their operations more in the long run.”

“Bigger problem,” Kay said. “If you want to do that, you'll need to be able to get a signal out. Once the alarms went off, they jammed all outgoing communication.”

“Dammit!” Cassian muttered, pulling out his handset. “We need to fix that if we want backup. Baze! Baze do you copy?”

There was only static across the line.

“Baze! If you can hear me, respond.”

There was a tense moment before the sound of gunfire and explosions came through. “Copy! We're under fire out here! They have tanks!” Even garbled by static, Baze managed to sound indigent as he responded.

“There a communication building to the left of the runway,” Kay said, still searching the records. “If they can get it running, we might be able to upload this.”

“Who could fix it though?” Jyn asked.

“Bodhi. It's similar to the type used in the planes.” Cassian keyed the handset. “Baze. I need you to get Bodhi to the shed left of the runway, on the east side of the main building. The concrete bunker. Can you do that?”

A scream could be heard across the channel. “No promises.”

“Good. You have five minutes.” Cassian cut the communication and turned back to the problem at hand. He took in the size of the room, running his hands through his hair. “How much information does this contain?”

“Quite a lot,” Kay said, pulling up more files. “Project stardust was just the start. Black saber looks interesting. There's literally hundreds of projects, each with thousands of files. None organized very well.”

“You can complain about that later. For now, gather as much as you can. Make stardust your priority. Korbin, search for the nearest base. Jyn, cover us.”

“What are you going to be doing?” she asked, facing the door.

“Fixing the communication on our end.”

* * *

Baze was cursing the existence of the world as it exploded into chaos around him. At Cassian's signal, the rebels had started their ambush, coming out of cover and opening fire on the Imperials outside the main structure. A team had stormed the building, searching for those they needed to capture. Baze had fitted Chirrut with a gun, pointing him in the direction he needed cover in as they hid behind a wall. Cassian's orders to get Bodhi to the bunker were proving more difficult then he anticipated. He touched Chirrut's arm, leaning close to his ear. “On my mark, aim over the wall and fire for fifteen seconds. Then drop and run to the left. I'll guide you.”

Nodding, Chirrut drew a deep breath and closed his eyes, centering himself. He distantly felt Baze adjusting his helmet as he focused on his breathing. Beside him, Bodhi was flinching as bullets flew by. He opened his eyes as Baze tapped his knee. “Now!”

He was up and balancing the rifle on the wall before the word was complete, firing as Baze grabbed Bodhi and dragged him across the open space on their left. Chirrut was counting in his head, listening to the footsteps and sound of the tank turning toward his position. He ended his burst and dropped below the wall, covering his head as a blast took out the upper portion of the wall.

“Chirrut! Over here! Now! Come to me!”

Shaking his head, he climbed to his feet, crouching as he oriented himself toward Baze's voice. He frowned as he tilted his head, listening.

“Here! Chirrut! Straight ahead! Go!”

Inhaling, he nodded and trusted to fate, to the force as he charged forward, stumbling slightly as his staff, strapped to his back, caught on a pile of rubble. He could hear Baze's voice in front of him, calling out, guiding him, though he failed to listen to what he was saying exactly. Behind him, the tank continued to fire at the wall, reducing it to rubble in mere moments. Suddenly, hands were grabbing him and pulling him in, checking him over to make sure he was okay.

“I'm fine, I'm fine! Baze, I'm okay.”

Beside them were crouched two more rebels; like them, they were trying to reach the bunker as gun fire pinned them down.

“We need to take out that tank!” one yelled, pointing toward where it was moving to cut off their support.

“Anyone able to take out our heat?” the other called into the comm, listening as an affirmative came from a group across the way. Baze released Chirrut after a hurried, “stay close” and grabbed Bodhi, preparing to make another run.

Across the way, the rebels began firing, forcing the tank to turn in their direction. They had little chance for escape—behind them was an open area with little cover. Beside Chirrut, one of the men was preparing an explosive, handing it to the other. “Set the charge then hit the timer. You have to the count of five to get clear.”

Baze held up his fist, clearing his throat. “Stay low and move quickly. Go!”

As if in slow motion, several things happened at once. Two rebels across the way were hit directly by a shot from the tank, sending their bodies flying. The rest were forced to scatter, cutting off fire and ending the distraction they were providing. Baze dragged Bodhi out into the open, pushing him forward ahead of him as the rebel accompanying them started firing, covering their backs. Chirrut started to follow, listening to their footsteps when he heard a scream behind him followed by a thud. He stopped, reaching down and feeling around until he found the body of the man with the charge, primed in his hand. He hesitated, glancing in the direction he could hear Baze running in, mind turning.

He knew what needed to be done, but following through was difficult. His job was to protect Bodhi, to make sure he survived to the end. Cassian had discussed it with him and he had agreed; Bodhi had managed to start this in motion, carrying the needed information out to safety, he should be able to do it again. Chirrut had asked that Cassian not tell Baze, afraid that Baze would try and stop him. Chirrut knew that he had self-sacrificing tendencies; he had since childhood. Deep down, he knew that today would be no different. He picked up the explosive, running his fingers over it to familiarize himself with its design. He stood up and faced the tank.

Baze had almost reached the bunker, glancing back to see how close the tank was when he caught sight of Chirrut standing still, gleaming metal in hand. Baze stopped, horrified as Chirrut started forward, hand out in front of him. “No! Chirrut! Stop! Come here! Chirrut!!”

But it was too late. Chirrut had reached the tank, somehow avoiding being hit by gunfire as he went. He fumbled along the side of the base, finally getting the explosive set and setting the charge. He stood up shakily, stumbling back, disoriented once more. This time was worse. He couldn't hear anything but shots flying past him and explosions. He turned toward where he thought Baze had gone, listening, for once cursing his blindness while thankful to be spared the sight of the carnage around him. He started forward, rushing back to cover as the blast went off, sending the tank flying in several pieces across the field. He was knocked off his feet and sent flying, crashing to the ground near the cover he was seeking.

He lay gasping, wind knocked out of him as his ears rang from the blast. Great, deaf as well as blind. Clearly didn't think this one through, did you, Imwe? He crossed his arms over his head, wincing as he felt the knot forming under the helmet. Gingerly, he sat up, gasping as he felt pain running up his leg. As his hearing started to clear, he became aware of Baze screaming his name. He slowly climbed to his feet, legs shaking as he tried to find where his voice was coming from.

“Chirrut! To me! Come to me!”

“Baze?” he whispered, stumbling forward, leg barely taking his weight. “Baze?” he called louder, fear beginning to take over.

“Chirrut, get down!”

Before he could process the command, he felt something hit him in the leg. Crying out, he fell to the ground again, gasping as he was hit again in the side. His hand clutched his side, finding warm liquid seeping through his vest.

Baze watched in horror as Chirrut was shot, landing in the dirt. Beside him Bodhi started shaking, cowering in the doorway. Baze was frozen in place, reliving memories he had wished gone for good; he snapped out of it as he felt Bodhi try to push past him. Growling, he shoved Bodhi back. “Stay put.” He took off running toward Chirrut's body, shooting indiscriminately as he did. He barely registered himself muttering that Chirrut better be alive, the force owed him that much at least. He dropped to his knees beside Chirrut, carefully feeling along his back and neck before rolling him over. Chirrut's face was screwed up in pain, eyes closed. Baze noticed his hand pressed to his side, moaning as he saw how much blood was covering him.

“Chirrut! No, not again. Please, I can't do this again! Wake up!”

Chirrut's eyes slowly fluttered open, free hand grasping for Baze's. “We've got to stop meeting like this.”

“You fucking idiot. What's the matter with you?” Baze asked, voice choking up. He pressed his hand against Chirrut's, applying more pressure to try and stop the bleeding in his side; his leg wasn't nearly as bad, though the bone was clearly broken. “Are you trying to kill me?”

“You can't die, not before me. You promised.”

“Then quit trying to give me a heart attack.” Baze glance up as he heard footsteps approaching, recognizing two of their own. One was carrying a medic pack while the other covered him.

“Let me see.” The dark haired man pushed their hands away, lifting Chirrut's clothing. Baze grabbed his shoulders, holding him down as he cried out in pain. Baze studied the man, remembering that his name was Dameron as he tried to comfort Chirrut.

“Quit being a baby. Let the man work.”

“Getting shot hurts,” Chirrut babbled, head rolling from side to side.

“Yeah, I know. I got hit a few times.”

“And you said it was nothing! You're a fucking liar.”

“We need to move him,” Dameron was saying to his partner, pointing off toward the tree line. “Put him with the others.” He tied Chirrut's staff to his leg, making a temporary splint as his partner pressed a pressure dressing to the wound in his side. “You think you hurt now, just wait until we move you.”

“Wait wait wait! Baze! You need to keep Bodhi safe. Don't try to argue, make sure he gets back alive. Okay?”

“I'm not leaving you,” Baze growled, eyes watery.

“I can shoot you again if needed. Baze, please?”

“I hate you,” Baze muttered, tears starting to fall.

“We need to move,” Dameron said, pointing toward the south where a contingent of Imperial troops were approaching.

“Fine, I promise Chirrut. But you need to listen to Dameron—”

“Kes.”

“Listen to Kes. And you better survive this, okay?”

“Baze, go!”

“Keep him safe,” Baze said, stepping back and pointing his gun, ready to provide them with cover.

“Don't worry. We're pathfinders. This is normal for us,” Kes said with a laugh. His partner grabbed Chirrut's legs, making him scream as they lifted him up and ran. Baze opened fire, backing toward Bodhi as he aimed at the oncoming Imperials. He watched as Kes disappeared into the treeline, finally ducking into the bunker.

“Get that thing up and running!”

Bodhi was frantically trying to bypass the signal block, hands shaking. “Is Chirrut okay?”

Baze shot at another Imperial, pleased when he went down. “Focus on your job. Let others worry about Chirrut.”

“How do you do it?” Bodhi asked, desperate. “How do you turn it off?”

“Sometimes, its the only way to survive. Doesn't make it any easier.”

His comm crackled to life, making Bodhi jump. “Baze? Do you copy? What's your status?”

Baze pulled it out as the other rebel opened fire. “Working on it. Chirrut is down, more fire coming in.”

“Chirrut? What's his status?”

“Should be close,” Baze said, refusing to answer. “Ready on your end?”

“We have a situation. We're currently barricaded within. Any chance for cover?”

Baze looked around the bunker, frowning at the rear wall. “These rooms connect?”

“Affirmative.”

“Good. Get clear.”

“Baze? What are you planning?”

Baze dropped the device, turning toward Bodhi. “Tell me when its working.”

“Should be soon.”

“Will they be able to tell?”

“If Kay is looking at a display, then yeah.”

“Good.” Baze pulled a grenade from his belt and tossed it out among the troops. “Make it quick, we're running out of time.”

Bodhi closed his eyes and drew a deep breath. I can do this. I can do this. I can do—He jumped when he felt Baze's hand on his shoulder.

“You're doing fine. Chirrut is hurt, but he's in good hands. The pathfinders will get him to safety. I know you can do this. Just find your center and go.”

“I'm scared,” he whispered, hands clenching.

“So am I,” Baze admitted. “But we only have one chance. Let's not waste it.”

Nodding, Bodhi went back to work, trying hard to ignore the sounds around him. Baze and the other rebels were hard pressed to keep the Imperial forces away. He ducked beneath the console, rewiring as quickly as he could when he heard a beep. He pulled back, glancing at the readings, waving toward Baze frantically. “It's ready!”

Nodding, Baze grabbed the comm. “Now!”

Chapter Text

“There's literally years worth of information here,” Kay was saying, scrolling through the files. “I've gathered what is relevant, but this is insane. Who would be stupid enough to store everything in one place?”

“It makes sense,” Korbin said, moving to stand with Jyn. “The higher ups within the Empire are pretty egotistical, they probably thought that this would be fine.”

“Plus, as far as the world knows, a facility on Scarif doesn't exist,” Jyn added. “If there had been any indication, Saw would have targeted it years ago.”

Cassian was listening to the calls going across the handset, pacing nervously back and forth. He paused as he heard one call in particular, face tightening. “They're in place around the weapons. We need to hurry. Kay, are you ready?”

“Just waiting for the signal.”

Korbin nodded toward the screen, where an access code had been written out. “That's the code to access communications with a Republic cruiser. It's usually stationed near here and has links to a small outpost in Yavin. It's our best bet.” He turned suddenly as a noise outside the door caught his attention. Jyn already had her weapon raised, nodding toward the hall.

“We've got company.”

“Lock the door,” Cassian ordered. “Jam it if possible.”

Jyn fished a grenade out of her pouch, pulling the pin before tossing it into the hallway. Gun fire erupted, causing her to duck back in quickly as Korbin locked it. The explosion rocked the room, making the lights flicker. There was a loud crash that cut off the screams.

“Jyn! What were you thinking?” Cassian yelled.

Jyn shrugged, looking unrepentant. “Doors blocked, not sure what you're worried about.”

“But how are we supposed to leave?”

“We wouldn't have been able to leave that way anyway,” Jyn said, turning back toward the room. “They know we're in here, they would have kept sending troops to stop us. This is better.”

Cassian cursed at her before trying to reach Baze. “Baze. Do you copy? What's your status?”

There was a moment of silence as they waited, followed by a burst of static and gunfire. “Working on it. Chirrut is down, more fire coming in.”

Kay's head snapped up, horror in his eyes. Jyn rushed over, pulling the handset away from Cassian's ear so they could all hear better. Cassian tensed, hand gripping tight to the unit. “Chirrut? What's his status?”

Baze was slow to answer and gave little information. “Should be close. Ready on your end?”

Cassian glanced at the group. They had all heard the unspoken words. “We have a situation,” Cassian said. “We're currently barricaded within. Any chance for cover?”

“These rooms connect?”

Cassian frowned. Jyn pointed to a wall on their right. “Affirmative.”

“Good. Get clear.”

“Baze? What are you planning?” Cassian waited but got no response. “Baze!” He lowered the unit, rubbing his face. “Shit. This is not something I thought I'd have to deal with.”

“What's that?” Kay asked, nervously watching the display.

“A Baze that no longer cares. He's going to do something completely insane and hopefully we don't get caught in the middle.”

Jyn started to ask something when she was interrupted by a loud beeping. Kay moved forward just as Baze shouted “now!”, fingers flying as he started the transmission. “Hopefully they'll look at what we're sending, not just block it.”

The handset in Cassian's hand crackled to life. “Get clear!”

Jyn grabbed Kay and pulled him away from the desk, pushing him to the floor near the door right as a blast went off to the right. Alarms started sounding as the smoke cleared and Baze shoved Bodhi through the now gaping hole in the wall. His eyes were wild as he looked around, face streaked with soot.

“How in all the hells did you do that?” Cassian asked, coughing.

“We've acquired a tank. Or part of one. I used it's cannon.”

“I feel like that might have been a bit of an overkill.”

Baze shrugged and stalked forward, trying to open the door.

“Hallway collapsed,” Jyn said.

Baze snorted and turned away. “Nice one.”

Cassian was trying to raise the other rebels, frowning as only a few checked in. “What's the status?”

“Ready to blow,” came the response from the team by the storage area.

“Negative on prisoner.”

“Spotted en route to tower,” Melshi said.

“Copy.” Cassian took a deep breath. “On my mark.”

“Captain! Air support spotted!”

“Theirs?” Cassian asked, stomach dropping.

“No. Ours!”

“Thank fucking everything, Bail did it,” Cassian muttered. “Copy. Pull back. Get clear and go. Torch this place.”

The teams copied, sounding more cheerful than they had any right to be. Korbin was grinning, shaking his head. “Looks like Rogue One is no longer alone.”

Cassian pointed toward the broken wall. “Everyone get clear.” As they rushed outside, they were met by a group of rebels, stolen Imperial weapons at hand. Kes was at the front of them as a series of jets flew overhead. He nodded to Baze, pointing behind him.

“Med team already landed. They've got him. More ground support is arriving. We're about to go plant targets for those planes to hit. Make sure there's nothing left by the end.”

“Go,” Cassian said. “Make sure whatever the bombs miss gets destroyed. Nothing can survive.”
Kes saluted and motioned his team forward. Cassian turned toward Baze. “Get Bodhi and Kay to safety. Jyn and I will finish this.”

“Absolutely not. I'm coming with you,” Kay said, eyes wild.

“Kay, we're going into something far worse than this, something that could very well turn into a suicide mission,” Cassian said, checking his weapons. “I need you clear, not in the way.”

“I want to help,” Kay argued, refusing to back down.

“Then get clear.” Cassian's voice was hard, anger simmering below the surface. “You've helped already, but now I need to focus on finding Krennic. I can't do that if I have to watch your back. I need you to get out of here. Get to Yavin, or where ever the Alliance currently is, and help them analyze that data. This can never happen again.”

“I thought we were friends,” Kay mumbled.

“We are. Which is why I'm doing this. I'm giving you a direct order.”

“I could just ignore you.”

“You won't.”

Kay sighed and crossed his arms over his chest. “Very well. But you better survive this. You and I are having words when this is over.”

Cassian nodded before reaching past him to clasp Bodhi on the shoulder. “Good job out there. Now get going.”

Bodhi nodded and pulled at his helmet straps, a nervous gesture he had developed, trying to make it tighter. Baze knocked his hands away gently, nodding toward the open ground before them. “Come on.”

“Baze!” Cassian called. He waited until Baze turned around, nodding toward the tree line. “Tell Chirrut thank you.”

“Tell him yourself,” he growled back, gathering his charges. “You're the captain.”

Cassian watched as they moved out of sight, finally turning to Korbin. “Get back to the others and help them.”

“What about Krennic?”

“Two have a better chance at stealth than three right now. We'll call for back up when we have him.”

Korbin studied him for a moment before nodding. “Good luck, Andor, Erso. See you at the rescue.”

Jyn stood beside Cassian, weapon ready. “On your command.”

“Since when do you take orders?”

“I hate Krennic as much as you do. If it looks like we won't survive this, I'd rather he didn't either.”

Biting his lip, Cassian gestured toward the smoke outside. “Let's go.”

Chapter Text

To say that Krennic was having a bad day was an understatement. His day had started off wrong with a message arriving stating that his position within the Empire was in danger of being reassigned if his test today wasn't satisfactory, getting worse with the arrival of Tarkin, who Krennic saw as the bane of his existence as well as his biggest rival. And now, the attack on his facilities by these rebels, who he saw as little more than flies, irritants to be destroyed as quickly as possible, was making him want to rage at something.

It didn't help that Scarif was a place that imperial officials came to retire, as it was. For too long, it was the base that higher ups were sent to to keep them out of the way, a place where they could pretend to be useful while being ignored by the rest of the organization. It was a tropical paradise. Outside of the base, there was little besides resorts, warm beaches and gentle breezes.

Krennic hated it with a passion.

With the destruction of the Eadu facility, his position was already shaky. He had relocated his research to Scarif temporarily, planning to move it to a better equipped and more direct location, but found himself falling out of favor. He was told he was taking to long to accomplish anything, that his project was a waste of funds for little output (and damn Galen twice to hell for that, he thought, not for the first time); he had begged, something that galled him to admit, to be able to run the test planned for this week, working hard to convince those above him that his work was valid. He had finally been allowed to use one of the resorts the Republic officials were to stay at for upcoming negotiations (and if a few Imperial figures got caught up in the test, well, so be it). This was his final chance. And it was falling apart around him.

Tarkin's arrival should have clued him in to the fact that things weren't going to go as planned. Tarkin had been present at most of the embarrassing moments in Krennic's career, including when it became apparent that someone on his team had leaked information about the project. Krennic was currently looking into whether it would be possible to link his failures to Tarkin, turning the blame back onto him, though he would have to proceed with caution.

The man had had little to say, as always. He had just come to reiterate what had already been stated, to gloat about the fact that Krennic's “pet project” was a failure. Far from it. Krennic knew it would work. While he personally had not worked on the research, he had studied side by side with Galen, done the same work and graduated in the top of his class. He had reviewed everything, after the fact, and had corrected a few flaws that he had located, but otherwise the research was sound. It would work. It had to.

He would see to that.

So he found himself standing in the conference room, overlooking the rear of the facility as the alarms went off. He watched as confusion washed across the other faces as those in charge sat, as stupid as cattle chewing their cud, as reports of attacks came in. Disgusted, he threw down his papers and shouted, “are we blind? Deploy the garrison, you idiots! Why are you sitting around?!”

The others clamored to their feet, milling about as they called out orders that contradicted each other. Krennic finally took charge, ordering the troops about as he saw fit, calling for armored vehicles to advance, disregarding the cries that they might damage the facility if they missed their targets.

“Better to destroy these irritants before they cause any more harm. Besides, we can use any damage caused to further our cause that we need to destroy the Alliance once and for all. Propaganda can go a long way.”

Things had started to turn in their favor then, as Krennic set the troops in place with the orders that there were to be no survivors. He was pleased thus far.

Until the jets arrived.

He called for backup, but it was too late. Help would be unable to arrive before the rebels had destroyed the base. In a rage, he called for his guards and stalked from the room. He headed for the control tower, face grim as he saw the destruction being inflicted. While he had little love for Scarif, he needed this test to succeed.

“Have the technicians ready the test. We'll set it off from here,” he told his aide as he climbed the stairs.

“Sir,” his aide said, voice hesitant. “The rebels have already secured the hanger. We, we can't approach it—”

“Then have them ready the reserves!” he screamed, rounding on the man. “Use your brain, if you even have one!”

“But the test—”

“Will be done here, today. This ends now.”

Gulping, the man turned and ran off. Pointing toward one of his personal guards, Krennic said “follow him and kill him if he fails. Make sure the message gets through.” Saluting, the guard broke off from the group. Straightening the collar on his white uniform, he burst into the room, rubbing at a tick starting behind his eye. “Ready a way out,” he told the guard still with him. “As soon as we have confirmation that this works, we leave.”

“Yes sir.”

Krennic leaned against the control panels, gazing out the windows at the fires raging all around.

This truly was a rotten day.

* * *

Baze would much rather have gone with Cassian and Jyn, preferring to make Krennic suffer than playing babysitter, but he was also practical. He knew that getting Bodhi and Kay to safety was a priority, that others were already occupied. Besides, getting them out would reunite him with Chirrut that much faster.

He herded them forward, crouching behind cover until it was safe to move again. They had cleared the building and were crouched behind the burnt out remains of a tank. Baze was pushing for a outbuilding, little more than a shell now, as a final cover before reaching the trees and the staging area; he could see that the pathfinders had set up the spot as a triage location before moving the injured for evacuation. If they could make it there, he could send Bodhi and Kay on, have them lend a hand. If they could make it there, they would be safe. If they could make it there, his mission would be complete.

Nothing was ever that simple or easy, not in Baze's experience. He was running low on ammo, having one clip left. Sighing, he scanned the ground for any discarded weapons, spotting an Imperial rifle lying nearby. He grabbed it, checking it over quickly, pleased to see that it still worked. “Bodhi, do you still have that thing I gave you?”

“This?” Bodhi stuttered, pulling out the grenade that Baze had pushed into his hand before they started. Baze's grin was feral as he grabbed it.

“When I tell you to, started running. Keep your heads down, and no matter what happens, don't look back. Get to the others as quickly as you can.”

“What are you going to do?” Kay asked.

“Provide cover.” He handed his gun to Bodhi and pushed the the rifle into Kay's hands. “Take these in case.”

“What about you?” Bodhi asked, grabbing his arm.

“Forget about me and just do as I said. Get to safety.”

“And will you be joining us?” Kay asked, shrewd as ever.

“Of course. Chirrut would kill me if I didn't. Now get ready.”

He waited until there was a break in the smoke, waited until the fighting shifted. He pulled the pin, jumping to his feet and running into the open. “Now!” he yelled as he threw it forward.

Behind him, Kay and Bodhi started to run, as Baze grabbed the discarded gun he had pried off the tank. It was closer to a machine gun, built like a small cannon, in its size and weight, but he hefted it onto his shoulder and took aim. The long clip for it dragged on the ground as he slowly followed his teammates, firing continuously as he went. The weapon had the desired effect, drawing the fire away from them and towards Baze himself. He knew that he'd never hear the end of it from Chirrut if they both survived, but he'd deal with that later.

They were almost clear. Kay and Bodhi had reached cover when things went wrong.

“Baze! Look out!” Bodhi yelled.

Baze glanced back as what was left of a battalion of troopers opened fire behind him. Swearing, he spun around, firing on them as he quickly retreated. “Get moving!” he yelled. “Don't wait for me!”

Bodhi and Kay started to run as Baze covered them yet again. They had almost reached the trees when the gun Baze was using jammed. With a growl, he tossed it aside and raced for cover, grunting as a bullet grazed his arm. He caught up quickly to them, urging them on as the troopers continued to fire. They ducked into the tree line, attempting to use the palm trees as cover. Up ahead, Baze could see some of the rebels lying in wait, weapons at the ready. He started to point when Kay cried out and crashed to the ground.

Bodhi stopped abruptly, dropping down to check on Kay as Baze grabbed his fallen rifle, firing back at the Imperials. Bodhi's eyes were watery as Kay clutched his arm, moaning. “They shot me!” he cried, sounding incredulous. “They shot me!”

“Get up! Keep moving!” Baze yelled, quickly lining up his shots.

“Kay, come on!” Bodhi yelled, trying to pull the taller man to his feet.

“It hurts,” he said, as Bodhi pulled his good arm over his shoulder. “I'm bleeding.”

“Get to cover. There'll be medics ahead. Go!”

Bodhi nodded and started dragging Kay forward, awkward under his weight and height. Baze ducked behind a tree, covering their retreat. He glanced up as another man joined him.

“We called in a strike, hopefully they can stop them. We're losing men fast.”

“Where are the planes?” Baze growled, ducking as shots passed overhead.

“Targeting the base. Kes and his men blew up what they could, but they need the jets to finish it. Nothing can—”

His words were cut short as he was shot down, life over before he hit the ground. Swearing, Baze climbed to his feet, ignoring the dizziness that washed over him. The wound on his arm wasn't very deep, but was bleeding freely. Ahead of him, the rebels were scattering, making their way toward safety. Beside him, another man went down, leg hit. Baze grabbed his arm and pulled him up, tossing him over his shoulder as he went. He stumbled over a rock half hidden, gasping for breath as he went. Bodhi suddenly appeared at the end of the path, waving him forward.

“Baze! Hurry!”

Stumbling again, Baze heard a loud whine, turning right as an explosive landed nearby. Before he could react it went off, sending him and the rebel flying. He crashed down hard on his left side, pain flaring across his ribs and back as he tumbled end over end, finally coming to rest.

At first there was only a dull ringing noise, as well as a general ache across his body. Gasping, he struggled to breath, eyes unfocused. Faintly, he could hear his name being called; distantly, he knew this meant his hearing was returning. He tired to move his leg, crying out as pain, sharp and insistent flared through him. He went limp, waiting to see if it would pass. He felt tired, ready to give up, when once again he heard his name being called, louder and more desperate. Rolling his head to the side, ignoring the pain this time, he say Bodhi and a woman running toward him.

He tried to lift his hand and wave them off; his arm flopped weakly onto the ground. Drawing his strength, he rolled over, groaning as his limbs shook. He managed to get to his feet, weakly mumbling “don't...” as Bodhi reached him. He and the woman grabbed him on either side and started to pull him forward. He could hear Bodhi yelling something that sounded like run, but he was fading again, the movement causing his pain to rise up as blackness filled his vision.

“Left side!” the woman yelled as another explosion went off. Baze felt heat engulfing his body as he went flying again; this time, he was unconscious before he hit the ground.

* * *

“He's there,” Jyn said, pointing toward two troopers guarding an entryway to the control tower.

“How can you be sure?” Cassian asked, scanning the surrounding area.

“See those uniforms? Those are Krennic's personal guards. He hasn't changed their look since I was a child.”

Cassian nodded and pulled out his comm. “Rogue One leaders copy. Status?”

There was a long pause before voices started filtering through, static loud in the background. “Rogue leader from pathfinders, be advised hanger is clear. Air support finishing last strikes. Twelve troops remain. Advise?”

Jyn frowned at him as he stared at the unit in his hand in disbelief. “Did he say there are only twelve left?”

Cassian shook his head. “Repeat number.”

“Twelve. Twenty dead, the rest injured.”

“Can you get them clear?”

“Possible. We have a ship, just need air support.”

“Call it. Get clear.”

“Copy leader. Leaders status?”

Cassian looked at Jyn. “One more mission. Get clear.”

There was a long pause before “copy leader. Logging off.”

Jyn touched his arm. “Do you think they made it?”

Cassian shrugged. “Baze would have called unless something happened. But we can't focus on that right now. We need to concentrate.” He pointed toward their destination. “Krennic is up there. If possible, Mothma would want him brought in alive, but don't hold back if there is no other choice.”

“Don't worry, mercy is not something I have for him,” she snorted.

“We need to take out the guards quickly.”

“Think you can hit them from here, hotshot?”

Cassian glared at her before crouching down and taking aim. He carefully lined up his shots, moving the gun back and forth as he timed out his moves in his head. Beside him, Jyn watched their backs, silent as she let him focus. He closed his eyes for a moment, drawing a breath as he centered himself. Counting to three, he opened his eyes and fired in quick succession, jumping up and racing forward as the troopers fell. Jyn was close behind, eyes scanning around them. All around were the sounds of battle; explosions could be heard as the jets overhead targeted the hangers and warehouses hidden within the jungle.

Cassian was overriding the door lock when another trooper came around the building. Before he could call an alarm, Jyn was on him, truncheons flying as she took him down. She nudged Cassian aside and yanked off the man's helmet, shoving his face close to the reader. It beeped and flashed a green light, doors sliding open. She kicked the man away, hiring two shots to finish him. Cassian nodded his thanks and gestured for her to get inside.

They were silent as they moved around, clearing the ground floor. Jyn pointed at the stairs leading to the observation level. Cassian nodded and checked his weapon again as she started up. He followed close behind, weapon held steady and aimed over her shoulder.

At the door they paused, listening carefully. They could hear nothing from within. Cassian stepped back and nodded at the door knob. Jyn stepped aside and watched as he kicked at the door, sending it flying in. She quickly ducked into the room, gun up and pointed as she moved to the side, Cassian close behind.

In front of them, Krennic stood with his back to them, leaning on the console.

“I was wondering if anyone would be brave enough to try and come up here.” He turned slowly, a smile playing across his face. “You're just in time to witness something extraordinary. I do hope you are smart enough to appreciate it. I'd hate to waste it on the unimpressed.”

Jyn and Cassian stayed alert, weapons ready. Krennic sighed.

“Very well,” he said, gesturing toward the window. “I'll quit the theatrics and just move to the main event.” His hand moved to quickly to be caught, pressing the intercom. “Now.”

Outside the window, Cassian could see the last of the rebels, just now joined by an approaching support team, closing in on the last standing warehouse. At Krennic's words, a trooper stepped out of the building, a device held in his hand. The rebels dropped into a defensive position, taking aim. Too late, Cassian realized what was about to happen and reached for his comm to call them off. Before he could, the trooper was shot, dropping the switch in his hand. Behind him, the warehouse exploded, flames shooting out. Crates stacked up near the doorway caught fire; before the rebels could get clear, they too exploded, sending shards of something bright radiating outward. In horror, Cassian and Jyn were forced to watch as their friends and comrades went down, some quickly, some in obvious pain as they tried to get clear. Krennic started laughing, gazing fondly on the scene below.

“Admittedly, the blast would have been more powerful if we had had time to refine the kyber. It's best to grind it first, as finely as possible. As a dust, it spreads the blast even farther as each particle lights up and expands. Refined, it could wipe out a large city in minutes. But alas, I can't always get what I want. It is nice to know that it works, is it not? And look! I've achieved two of my goals. To test my greatest accomplishment and destroy an irritation. Well,” he said, facing them once again. “I suppose it might be a bit premature to say I've accomplished the second. After all, you're still standing before me.”

His smile turned feral. “But that's about to change, isn't it?”

Chapter Text

Jyn watched with equal parts rage and horror at the destruction being waged outside. This was not what Galen would have wanted. He had tried for years to remain neutral, to find alternatives to energy problems in underdeveloped areas. He wouldn't have wanted his research used to kill others.

As if reading her thoughts, Krennic said, “Galen was clearly a fool, all those years ago. He always did want to see the best in others. Manipulating him was far easier than I thought.” He studied Jyn, arms crossed over his chest. “You know, I'd never have recognized you except for the fact that you are almost the spitting image of Lyra. Except for the eyes—you clearly got one thing from Galen. It was a pity that I had to kill her, she would have been much more useful as a hostage to keep him in line. He was so distraught, after. We practically had to pry her body away from him. Distasteful really,” he said, sounding disgusted. “She was a horrible influence on him, distracting; he could have accomplished so much if she hadn't been there. And then you came along and almost spoiled everything. I could have gotten him under my control again, but for you. He wanted to make the world a better place for you. He started questioning our plans, started being less grateful for all I had done for him. I couldn't let that stand.

“And then he had the audacity to run. Lyra had some less than savory friends that helped them, as I'm sure you are aware of now. She thought we knew nothing of them. But I knew. Oh yes, I knew everything. I tracked them, almost losing them when they left Gault. Heading for Lahmu was a smart move on your mother's part, but in the end I proved to be smarter.” His eye grew hard. “Your mother was an idiot, to think she could keep Galen from greatness. I'm glad she gave us an opening. Killing her later would have just been suspicious. She was expendable from the start. You were what we wanted, a way to keep him in check. But that didn't work as well as I planned. Fortunately, in his grief, he failed to realize that I was lying about having you in custody. It worked for a few years, long enough for us to get this project off the ground. And we would have been ready years ago, if your father hadn't sabotaged everything. I can see it know, he was deliberately leaving words out of notes, misprinting equations, misplacing components. I never would have thought him capable of it. I must admit, I'm quite proud. But no more.”

During his talk, Cassian had been slowly moving around him, attempting to take him by surprise. He froze when Krennic turned to face him, pistol in his hand.

“I think not. I've worked far too hard for this to fail. I will not be taking the fall, just so that that imbecile Tarkin can take what is rightfully mine.” He shot at Cassian, who managed to dive out of the way. Jyn was on him before he could aim again, hitting him and knocking him back.

“The only way my father was a fool was in trusting you. He's a good man, just as my mother was a good woman. She saw you for what you truly were. You'll pay for what you did to them.” She was ruthless in her attacks, punching and kicking, though in her anger and haste she missed more often than she should have. Krennic moved away from her, taking aim. Cassian was on him in an instant, one of Jyn's truncheons in hand. He landed a blow that sent Krennic reeling back into the console behind him.

“Enough out of you,” Cassian muttered, moving to hit him again. “This ends here.”

“It never ends,” Krennic spat out, blood dripping from his lip. “Allow me to prove it.” He grabbed Cassian, pulling him forward, off balance.

Jyn grabbed Krennic's pistol off the ground, aiming at the two men. “Cassian! Get out of the way!”

“I'm trying!” he yelled, struggling. He had dropped the truncheon as Krennic got him in a choke hold. Cassian raised his booted foot and raked it down his shin, causing Krennic to growl and lose his grip. Cassian swung his elbow at Krennic's face. “Non lethal, Jyn!”

“I hit what I hit!” she yelled back, firing. She missed him, hitting the window behind them. She quickly re-aimed, firing again. This time she hit her target in the thigh.

Krennic clenched his teeth but didn't go down. He managed to grab Cassian's gun, shoving it into his stomach. “First rule,” he growled. “Always aim to kill.” He pulled the trigger, making Cassian gasp. “Second, a cornered enemy is your worst fear.” He dropped the gun, using both hands to pull Cassian closer to him. “Third. There is no mercy.”

Jyn was yelling something, though Cassian couldn't make out what it was. He could only hear a dull ringing in his ears as Krennic shoved him hard against the panel behind them, tipping him over it. Jagged glass caught on his jacket and hands as he rolled across the window sill into nothing. Dimly, he was aware of the bright blue sky and warm sun as he fell four stories to the ground below. The impact sent a distant pain flaring through his body as he bounced. He came to a rest in a broken heap, gasping for breath.

His last thoughts were that at least he could finally rest.

* * *

Jyn was already in motion as Krennic shoved at Cassian. She fired the pistol, even as the voice in her head was screaming that she was too late. Always too late. She had been unable to save her mother; she had arrived too late to help her father. And now Cassian—no! She refused to follow that thought, not while she still had Krennic before her.

Her first shot had missed—she wouldn't miss again. Taking better aim, steadying herself as Chirrut had taught her, she fired again, hitting Krennic in the shoulder. It pleased her to note it was the same one her mother had hit, all those years ago. She aimed again, refusing to let her anger and fear control her anymore in this fight, hitting him in his collarbone. He cried out as he fell, landing hard on the ground. She kicked the gun away from him, aiming for his knee. As he sat there, gasping, she pulled out the comm Cassian had handed her outside, keying in the code.

“Rebel base, from Rogue One. Target obtained, requesting containment and medical.”

“Rogue from Base One, copy. Request leader sign off.”

“Leader is down. Requesting medical.”

“Status?”

“Unknown.”

“Copy. Two minutes.”

On the ground, Krennic began laughing, which quickly became a wheeze.

“You need to shut up,” she growled, aiming at him again.

“Oh, my dear, you are so childish, to think you've won. This is only the beginning. You might as well kill me, for all the good capturing me will do.” He closed his eyes in pain before continuing. “Besides. It looks like you might be in trouble. You seem to be losing a lot of blood.”

Jyn refused to take her eyes off him, though as his words settled in her mind, she could feel a stabbing pain in her side and a dampness on her pant leg that could only be from blood loss. “So are you,” she retorted. “Better hope that helps arrives before I shoot you again.”

His head fell back against the console, eyes opening to glare at her. “If the only point in keeping me alive is to make an example of me, you should know that the empire won't allow it.”

“Yes, because you're so important that they can't even send backup when you're being attacked.”

He was kept from responding by Alliance troops storming into the room.

“We've secured the base,” one of the women said, as her men rushed toward Krennic. “Is this the only prisoner?”

“Only one that matters,” Jyn muttered, starting to feel dizzy.

“Put him in isolation. Treat his injuries just enough to see that he makes it back to base.” She waited for confirmation before turning back to Jyn. “You need a medic.”

“Cassian...Captain Andor. He was—”

“We found him. He's alive, but it's going to be touch and go. He's already being loaded.”

Jyn nodded and started toward the door, legs buckling before she could reach it. Two of the troops grabbed her.

“Get her to the med team right away,” their leader said.

Jyn protested lightly as she was carried toward the waiting plane. They hurried up the ramp, passing by others hurt in the final explosion. They set her on a seat near were the medics were working on the more severally injured. Outside the open ramp, she could see troops going about the morbid work of identifying the dead, lining them up and covering them. She closed her eyes as the ramp began to close, flinching as she felt a hand on her shoulder. Her eyes flashed open, hand lashing out to grab at who ever was in front of her. She flushed when she realized it was one of their own, emergency first aid kit in hand.

“I need to check your wound,” he said, pointing at her side. When she nodded, he helped her remove her vest before carefully but quickly cutting away part of her shirt. His face remained impassive as he pulled out a syringe. “I'm going to give you a local first, then we're going to pressure wrap it. You'll have to wait until we get to base to have it properly treated.”

She nodded her head, drawing a deep breath as he started cleaning the wound. The pain medication kicked in quickly, so that she barely reacted as he cut away some of the fabric that had gotten stuck to it. He was frowning by the end, as he wrapped a bandage around the pressure pack he had put in place. “This is going to need to be flushed out as soon as we land. You'll be lucky if it doesn't get infected.”

“Are we going straight to D'Qar?” she asked groggily, suddenly exhausted.

“No. The rebellion moved bases last night. We're heading for Yavin. They set up the med bay there first.”

Jyn nodded again as she felt the plane start to move. The medic grabbed the seat's harness and secured her before settling in next to her. “Cassian?”

“He's priority one when we land, as well as a few others.” He licked his lip, eyes wide as he asked, “what hit the others?”

“Something unimaginable,” she mumbled.

Before her she could see a team working on a prone individual, obviously in the middle of an argument about treatment. She could just make out Cassian's boot, legs strapped to a board. She closed her eyes, giving in sleep. She wished this had just been a nightmare, over as soon as she woke. She wished for many things. That she was faster, that she was braver; she wished none of this had happened.

Above all, as she fell into sleep, she wished, more than anything, that she could save someone, just once.

Chapter Text

The Rebel base in Yavin was hidden deep within it's jungles. Patrols moved constantly around the perimeter as crews worked to set up the needed equipment. The skies around were monitored for enemy aircraft and communications in and out had to be in code and encrypted before transmission.

Deep with in the base, hidden in the shadows of an ancient mountain and cave system, Mon Mothma and her war council were in what felt like never ending meetings. With the apparent destruction of the Empire's secret weapon, she was adamant that they prepare to strike sooner than later. Krennic had survived his injuries, and after interrogation, had admitted to there being another cache of kyber and coaxium ready to be used. She had gathered her trusted officials and sent them to investigate. Princess Leia Organa, adopted daughter of Bail, was quick to volunteer to move the needed men and women under the guise of being on a diplomatic mission. She was sent off with well wishes and calls for luck. Once she was underway, Mothma returned to Coruscant, Krennic in tow, to bring forth the Empire's deeds into the full light of the United Republic countries. She wanted to use him as an example; a public trial for the crimes associated with the potential deaths of millions.

Within the medical ward, the staff was hard pressed to treat the numerous injured. Upon landing, the two planes had been triaged and sent for surgeries. After several days, things were starting to settle down, even as new recruits arrived on base. Most of the injured had been discharged and were returning to their duties. Kay had been released the day after arriving; being the least seriously injured, he had been given a room on base to stay in. More often than not, he was found sitting in the med bay, most often with Bodhi or Jyn. Jyn was quiet most of the time. She would spend a few hours a day wandering the base, refusing to speak to anyone outside of the Rogue One crew or the generals that interviewed her daily. She never commented when Kay followed her around like a giant puppy, just would give him a tired smile and a nod.

Bodhi was still confined to medical, even after a week. He had sustained several injuries while trying to rescue Baze, the worst being permanent damage to the hearing on his left side and the loss of his lower left leg. He took it in stride, even going so far as to make jokes with the nurses treating him. “Do you think that eventually I can get a peg leg?” he joked one day, words slightly slurring as the next dose of pain medication kicked in. “Oh! Or maybe a robot one? Shiny silver or something?” The nurse had laughed and patted his shoulder. He met daily with an auditory specialist as well as a speech therapist, working hard to regain what he could. He was all smiles during the day, though night brought little sleep. He often startled awake remembering the events of Scarif, shaking as he fought to push it away. One night, after again waking up in a cold sweat, he jumped as his door opened and Kay walked in.

“Kay? What's wrong?”

Kay didn't respond, just sat next to him on the bed, head resting back against the headboard. Eventually, his silent companion lulled him to return to sleep. It was the best rest he had had since first waking up in Yavin.

When Jyn came to visit the next morning, she couldn't help smiling at them. Kay wandered off, muttering about finding breakfast, while Bodhi patted the bed next to him. She settled in, head resting on his right shoulder.

“How are you feeling today, Jyn?”

“Better. They removed a few stitches today, hopefully the rest will come out soon.”

Bodhi nodded and hummed, leaning closer to her. “How's Galen?”

“Dad's good. He's able to move around a bit, but he gets tired fairly quickly. He's still guarded twenty-four seven.”

“They just want to make sure he's safe,” he told her. She shrugged. “Still no change with Cassian?”

Jyn didn't respond. Bodhi dropped the subject.

* * *

“Rook! Erso!”

Bodhi startled as he heard his name being called. Jyn stopped where she was steadying him on his crutches as they slowly made their way down the hall; he was now allowed to move around for a few minutes each day, provided he had assistance. They turned to see Kes Dameron hobbling toward them. He had been caught in one of the explosions, injuring his knee. He had laughed it off, claiming that he knew he was lucky and didn't see the need to complain. He caught up to them and grinned his infectious grin. “I was looking for you. I wanted to ask you, both of you, if you'd like to join the pathfinders?”

Bodhi blinked, unsure if he had heard right. He had been fitted with a hearing aid the day before and was still having trouble adjusting to it. Jyn was frowning beside him, so he must have heard right.

“Ah, thank you,” Bodhi stammered, licking his lips nervously. “I can't speak for Jyn, but it's quite the honor that you asked. But I don't think I can. I mean, I'm deaf and I lost part of my leg, so...”

“Only partially deaf,” Kes said, nodding. “Trust me, that won't matter. We're kind of a crazy bunch, as you can tell. I'm looking for people I can trust at my back and you two fit the bill. I don't expect an answer today, but, please, think about it. Offer will always stand.”

Before either of them could say anything, they saw a woman standing at the end of the hall looking around. She spotted Kes and smiled, waving at him as she hurried over.

“I was wondering where the fuck you went. You weren't in your room.”

“Sorry, babe. Recruitment requires face-to-face time.” He kissed her cheek before turning back to them. “Guys, meet my wife, Shara Bey. Shara, meet Bodhi Rook and Jyn Erso.”

“We kind of met,” Shara grinned as she shook their hands. “I was flying one of the jets that came in for support. You guys were amazing. True heroes.”

This statement embarrassed both Bodhi and Jyn and they had to look away. Shara seemed unaware, or else she didn't care. She pulled Kes close to her and waved good-bye. “If you'll excuse us, my husband and I need to go discuss why he ignored my orders about waiting in our rooms for me.”

Kes wiggled his eyebrows at them before allowing Shara to lead him off.

Bodhi looked at Jyn, who shrugged. “I think he's right,” she said. “You'd be a good pathfinder.”

Bodhi didn't know what to say, so he ducked his head and let her resume their walk. In his mind, though, he was rolling over the idea that maybe he could find a way to pay the rebellion back for believing in him.

* * *

When Chirrut woke up in medical, he found himself disoriented at first. Slowly, he became aware of where he was, events returning slowly. He grabbed the arm of a nurse that came to check on him, desperate. “Baze? Is he okay?”

“He's in serious condition, but he should make a full recovery,” she said, rubbing his arm. “He's in intensive care right now under sedation He has fairly severe burns and multiple gunshot wounds, but he's progressing well.”

“Can I see him? Please?”

She shook her head. “I'm afraid not. Not yet. You were hurt pretty badly. The doctors want you to keep that leg elevated for a bit. The break was pretty severe. They had to use pins to help fix it. Even then, you'll need to keep it still for a while. I'm sorry.”

Nodding, Chirrut let her go and settled back with a sigh. He spent the next two days dozing in and out, waking to visit with Kay and Jyn, and asking every nurse and doctor that came in about Baze. He was woken one night to a loud commotion outside his room. He listened to the doctors and nurses rushing by, muttering about a missing patient. Chirrut frowned, ears straining as things quieted down. He was thinking about trying to sleep again when he heard footsteps in his doorway, followed by labored breathing.

“Baze?” he whispered.

There was no response, just uneven steps shuffling across the floor, followed by a grunt of pain as his bed dipped slightly. He held his hand out, gasping as a bandage wrapped hand wrapped around his. “Baze, what are you doing here?”

He felt Baze settle into his side, shaking arms wrapping around his chest. Sniffling, he leaned his head against Baze, hands resting lightly on the bandages on Baze's arms. They were interrupted by a team of nurse running in.

“We found him!” one called, moving toward the bed. Baze shoved his face tighter against Chirrut's neck, gasping in pain. “Sargent Malbus, you need to return to your room before you make your injuries worse.”

“Let him stay. Please? He'll just keep coming back,” Chirrut said, rubbing Baze's hand soothingly.

“He needs to be monitored,” the nurse said, the other already calling for a doctor.

“Then bring it all here. He's not leaving,” Chirrut said, voice growing firm.

The doctor arrived and sighed as he took in the room. “Malbus, I swear to all that is holy that if you pulled any of your stitches open you deserve to get an infection. Very well, get the equipment and bring it here. We're obviously not prying them apart without causing more harm. However,” he warned, as the nurses went off to comply, “nothing funny. Both of you need to rest. Malbus's injuries are serious and this is not something I'd normally allow.”

Chirrut nodded and turned his head to kiss Baze's forehead. It broke his heart to feel the bandages wrapped around his head and face as well.

The nurses were quick to reattach the monitors, cleaning a few of his wounds and re-wrapping them, while stitching up the new one's he had caused in his escape. Once they were finished, they left the two men alone, dimming the lights as they did.

“Don't ever do that again, you fool,” Chirrut muttered, lips pressed against Baze's temple. Baze hummed at him, breathing slowly settling. “Thank you for not leaving me,” he said, gently squeezing his hand. He smiled as Baze squeezed it back.

* * *

Jyn slowly pushed open the door to Cassian's room, steeling herself against the pain of the beeping monitors. She stood by his bed, gazing down at his battered body. The bruising was beginning to fade, though his closed eyes appeared sunken and his skin was pale. His legs were in traction, arms secured in braces, breathing shallow through the mask on his face. She was glad at least that they had removed the tube from his throat two days ago; though no one had said anything to her, she had always felt like the nurses sitting with him judged her whenever she came to visit.

Carefully, she brushed the hair on his forehead away from his eyes. She glanced at the IV dripping slowly beside her, helping to keep him sedated. He had arrived with multiple broken bones and swelling in the brain; Jyn tried not to stare at the shaved patch of hair that marked where they had performed surgery to relieve the pressure. He had been kept sedated since arriving, the doctors hoping that a medically induced coma would give his body the time it needed to recover. Today, after more than three weeks, was the day they were planning to lift it.

He looked small and vulnerable in the bed and it broke her heart.

She carefully leaned forward, lips barely brushing his cheek before she left, tears spilling from her eyes, running as far from the accusing beeps as she could.

When Cassian woke up hours later, he was unaware that anything was wrong. His eyes opened slowly, blinking at the dim lights before closing again. He woke again, a few hours later, not realizing any time had passed. He tried to turn his head, finding it difficult as little used muscles protested. Beside him, alarms started going off, getting louder as he tried to move his hand, frowning as he found it held in place. He attempted to focus on it, vision slowly resolving. There was a cord wrapped loosely around his hand. He blinked as it came into focus, a leather cord with a shiny clear stone attached to it.

Jyn's necklace, his brain supplied. His fingers closed around it as the med team rushed into his room. He closed his eye as they began assessing him, fingers tightening.

He had survived and Jyn had left.

Chapter Text

“Cassian, be carefully,” Bodhi warned as Cassian drew in a ragged breath. He was clinging tightly to a set of rails as his therapist held on to the strap around his waist.

“Bodhi, you're my friend, but please shut the fuck up,” Cassian remarked breathlessly as he forced himself to take another step. His right leg nearly buckled under him, his hands turning white as he used them to take the majority of his weight. He managed to stay upright for a few more steps before his legs gave out completely.

“I got you, Captain,” his therapist said, gently helping him to sit down on the mat. Cassian growled in frustration, flopping back on the ground.

“I'm not done,” Cassian wheezed out, pain flaring through the overtaxed muscles in his legs and back. His hands shook as he wiped the sweat from his face. Bodhi was perched on a nearby chair, crutches resting on the ground. He winced in sympathy, rubbing at the edge of his prosthetic.

“Of course not,” Mavin said, grinning at him. He handed him a bottle of water, helping him sit up straighter. “You promised me three sets of everything. So far, that's only two passes. One more to go before you can quit.”

“Help me up,” Cassian grunted, legs twitching as he tried to move them.

“Not yet. You're still hurting. I want to try something first,” Mavin said, reaching his hand out toward where Kay was sitting, reading something on his laptop. Kay handed him a bottle and a towel, glancing up at the TV in the corner of the room. “You've overworked yourself, which normally I'd be mad about, but I'll forgive you today. Let's rub out those muscles first, then try again.”

Cassian sighed and laid back. Since being shipped back to D'Qar in a wheelchair, he had been determined to walk again. He had made some progress, able to walk a few feet before his body betrayed him again. He and Bodhi often attended therapy together, Bodhi learning how to use his new leg while Cassian made peace with what was left of his body. The injury to his neck and spine had been bad, though he was thankful each day that he had not been fully paralyzed. He had been assured that with the right therapy, he'd be able to regain at least partial control of his body. He clung to those thoughts.

He sipped at the electrolyte drink Bodhi handed him, sighing again as his legs started to relax. He noticed Kay staring at him for a moment before returning his attention to his computer, typing swiftly. Frowning, Cassian put the bottle down as Mavin stood up again.

“Ready, Captain? Just like we practiced.”

Cassian steeled his nerves, grabbing the lower set of bars and bracing his arms. Shaking, he managed to pull his legs closer to his body, pushing up carefully until he was partially raised. He could feel Mavin hovering close behind him, ready to step in before he could hurt himself, something he had had to do often in the beginning. He reached up, one hand at a time, pulling at the upper bar as he got to his feet. Trembling, sweat once again running down his face, he stood still for a moment, adjusting, before taking a small cautious step. He focused on each step, gasping as he reached the end and turning slowly around to start back the other way. He reached the end right as his legs let him know he might have overdone it.

Mavin helped him back into his wheelchair, smiling. “Good job. Going to have you running again in no time.”

Cassian flipped him off, leaning back in relief. Shaking his head, Mavin started laughing and went to start cleaning up. Slowly, as the pounding in his ears subsided, Cassian became aware of what was on the TV.

“We're live in front of the senate hearings to decide the fate of scientist Galen Erso, who was one of the men responsible for the creation of a weapon that wiped out the capital city of Alderaan. Surprisingly enough, the princess herself is calling for a pardon, even as she remains in hiding, sending in recorded messages. It is believed that she will be taking part in the trial through a live broadcast. While unfortunately cameras will not be allowed inside, you can see that security is high, especially since Orson Krennic was assassinated on these very steps while arriving for his sentencing just a few months ago.”

“Mindy, just what are people's reactions like out there today?”

“People are obviously on two sides. There are plenty calling for his execution, while still others proclaim that he was given little choice. Even the senate seems divided from what we've been hearing. Everything we've been told though points to Erso cooperating fully with the Republic officials. He's been instrumental so far in providing the much needed evidence the rebel's fighting against the empire have needed in order to gain more support. It's also rumored that his daughter is with him during—”

“Turn that off,” Cassian said, looking away. Kay didn't hesitate, grabbing the remote and cutting the power.

Bodhi sat beside Cassian, watching him carefully. Cassian sighed and gripped the wheels of the chair, grunting as he started pushing himself toward the door. “Anyone else want some food?” he asked, allowing the chair to roll forward on it's own.

“I think it's meatloaf day in the cafeteria,” Bodhi said, carefully getting up, crutches helping him adjust as he walked after Cassian.

“Meatloaf is disgusting,” Kay said, closing the laptop and following them.

“I think Chirrut said he was going to cook curry if you want to go home instead,” Bodhi said.

“Meatloaf sounds amazing. I can't wait.” Kay was almost convincing. Cassian smirked and led the way. Things were starting to feel normal again. Sometimes, he was even able to forget just how dark the days were looking as the war continued around them.

* * *

Jyn sighed as the Alliance plane she was riding in landed at the old D'Qar airbase. It had been almost a year since she had last set foot in the country, almost a year since Scarif. She rubbed absently at her side, able to feel the puckered skin through her t-shirt. She grabbed her pack and thanked the crew she as she left, gazing around at the old base. Not much had changed, aside from the fact that there were now only a handful of planes and that most of the smaller, outlying buildings were boarded up. She walked toward the central building, checking in with the superiors there, before heading for the gates. It pleased her to see the medical buildings still being used, now more for civilians and rehabilitation than staff.

She had just passed through the gates when a shadow passed over her. Tensing, she dropped her bag and dropped into a fighting stance before noticing who stood in front of her. She gasped as she recognized Baze, hair now long again in the areas it had been cut off in the aftermath. She smiled, letting out a little laugh as his arms closed around her, pulling her off her feet and into a hug. “Wel...come home,” he gasped, voice stuttering through the words as he put her down.

“It's good to see you again, big guy. And even better to hear you talking.” She grinned as she grabbed her bag.

“Trying. Slow. Hard. Words don't...work...” he trailed off, shrugging.

“It takes time. You'll get there.” She laughed at the grateful look on his face. “Let me guess, someone told you I was returning today and you've been waiting for me.”

He ducked his head bashfully.

“Does anyone else know?”

He twisted at his wedding ring, proudly worn now that he was no longer in an active war zone. He wore it on his right hand, his ring and little finger missing on his left hand.

“So just Chirrut then. He's still doing okay?”

Baze nodded and pointed toward the car, a questioning look in his eyes.

“Yeah, let's go.” She patted his arm. “Thank you for waiting for me.”

“Anything for...little sister.”

Warmth blossomed in her chest at his words, struggled as they were. They were both quiet as they drove back to the apartment. In the back of her mind, Jyn was reliving the day that she had first arrived, in the same beat up car. She couldn't help but think about who was missing, growing nervous as they got closer. This time, rather that drive up to the front, Baze drove the car around to the back of the building, parking it next to the garage.

Jyn stepped out into the yard, pleased to see not much had changed. She grinned when she saw Chirrut mediating beneath the big old tree. Baze nudged her toward him, nodding as he did. Chirrut's eyes opened as she approached, head tilted to the side. “You came back.”

“Hello, Chirrut,” Jyn said, softly. She gasped as he scrambled to his feet and wrapped her up in a hug. “I missed you guys,” she whispered to him.

“We got your letters,” he told her, releasing her and running his hands over her face. “Thank you for keeping us updated.”

“How is everyone else?” she asked, nervous again.

Baze rolled his eyes and huffed.

“What tall, dark, and silent over there is trying to say is that they're much the same. They miss you too. You should go say hi. We can catch up later.” He smiled, nodding his head. “Go on, we're not going anywhere.”

Jyn nodded, squeezing their hands before walking toward the seldom used back door. She glanced back once to see Chirrut and Baze sitting beneath the tree, Baze's back against the trunk while Chirrut reclined back against his chest. Licking her lips nervously, she opened the door and stepped inside.

It felt like home, a feeling nothing else ever had for her. It felt like acceptance. She stood still for a moment, breathing deeply to fight off a wave a panic and tears, leaning against the wall of the stairs. She brought her hand up to her mouth, eyes closing as she pushed it away. Just as she regained control, she heard a loud exclamation from the stairs.

“Ow! Watch it! That was my foot!”

“Well if you'd help more, Kay, I wouldn't have dropped it on your foot!” She heard Bodhi respond, the exasperation clear as daylight in is voice.

“And I told both of you morons that I didn't need any help. I'd be fine walking up the stairs.”

“Except that you fell at therapy today and Mavin told you to take it easy,” Kay responded, sounding more put out than Cassian had.

Heart fluttering, Jyn rounded the corner and gazed up at the three men. Bodhi had his back to her, hands pushing on the arms of Cassian's wheelchair while Kay stood backwards a few steps above and pulled on the handles.

“Just to let you know that if either of you drop him, it can be considered attempted murder of a superior officer.”

She nearly laughed when Bodhi startled so bad that he let go of the chair, spinning around in panic. Cassian swore, throwing his hand out and grabbing the rails as he pitched forward. Kay was the only sensible one, managing to neither be startled nor let go. “Hello, Jyn. About time you showed up.”

“Missed you too, buddy,” she deadpanned, pushing past Bodhi and grabbing the arms of the chair. “Lean back, Andor. Ready Kay?”

Cassian leaned back, unable to speak as Jyn supported his weight and within a few moments had the chair up the stairs and into his and Kay's apartment. Bodhi was nervously standing by the door, hands twisting in his pockets.

“It's okay to come say hi, Bodhi. I won't bite.” She laughed as he ran up and hugged her, crying onto her shoulder.

“I didn't think you'd come back,” he muttered, holding on tight.

“What, and leave you three idiots all alone? You'd never survive.”

“We seemed to be doing well on our own,” Kay said, sniffing with disdain as he dropped into the chair in the corner.

“Yeah, obviously,” Jyn snarked back, warily watching Cassian. He continued to stare at her, eyes unreadable. “Hello Cassian.”

Kay rolled his eyes and kicked at his chair. “Say something before she leaves again. I'm sick of your pining.”

“I wasn't pining,” Cassian growled, glaring at his friend. Sighing, he pushed at his hair, glancing over at Jyn. “Besides, anything we have to discuss I'd rather not talk about in front of everyone.”

“We could leave,” Bodhi said, nervously.

“I'm not leaving,” Kay said, opening his laptop. “This is my apartment as much as yours. You want to talk in private, go somewhere else.”

“Fine,” Cassian huffed. “We'll go to my room.”

“I'll still hear everything,” Kay warned.

Before Cassian could vent his frustration, Jyn stated, “we could always go upstairs.”

Cassian side-eyed her. “Going to insist I use the chair?” he challenged.

Jyn snorted. “You're a big boy, use your legs.”

Cassian fought to keep the smile from his face as he grabbed his crutches and stood up slowly. He took a few cautious steps toward her, nodding his head toward the door. “Let's go, then.”

She let him lead the way up the stairs, pausing every other step to breath deep before starting again. Jyn said nothing as she unlocked the door, letting him in to the apartment and watching as he collapsed with a groan onto the old couch that had somehow made its way into the room.

“Thank you,” he muttered.

“For what?” she asked, taking the chair across from him.

“For letting me do this on my own.”

She shrugged, looking at her feet. “Kay's been keeping me informed of your progress. We've been emailing.”

“Of course you have,” he muttered, eyes closing.

“So,” she said, trying to make small talk as the silence started to get to her. “Looks like someone's been keeping this place pretty clean.”

“Bodhi moved in after you left. He and Chirrut fixed it up, brought in furniture.” Cassian shrugged. “Chirrut said you probably wouldn't mind.”

She nodded, refusing to ask yet if he had missed her. “I'm sorry I wasn't there when you woke up.”

“Jyn, its fine. I know you needed to be with your father, what with the trial starting and everything.”

“All that and we still couldn't make Krennic pay for what he did,” she spat out.

“It's over. Nothing we say or do will change it. We tried our best. At least your father got a fair trial.”

“Life imprisonment in exile.”

“Where'd they finally send him?”

“Naboo. A secured facility in the middle of a lake. Leia wanted him to be sent to Alderaan, but the senate thought that would be in bad taste.” She laughed bitterly, shaking her head. “At least if I go through the proper channels, I can visit him once a year.”

“I'm sorry, Jyn.” Cassian gulped, biting his lip before asking, “are you going to move there? To be closer to him?”

“I...I haven't decided yet. I, I'm still technically active within the rebellion. I need to see where they want to send me.”

“You could always move back in here,” Cassian said, softly.

Jyn looked up at him. He was the one now refusing to meet her eyes, staring at his hands in his lap, face flushed slightly.

“Is that what you want?” she asked, suddenly bold.

Cassian looked up with a frown. “Why does that matter? It is your life, you should decide.”

“Cassian, I came back here, not only because I rejoined active duty, but also because I need to ask you if you can ever forgive me. Luke said that I can't move on until I do.”

“Jyn, I—wait, who's Luke?” Cassian asked, confused.

“Skywalker. He's on some sort of spiritual training as well as a rebellion pilot. Says he's supposed to restart the Jedi or some such nonsense, I don't really pay attention when he talks about that crap. But he's always with Leia, so he's around a lot.”

“Do you like him?”

“He's okay. Not really my type.”

Cassian studied her from under hooded eyes, heart starting to race. “And what type is that?”

She shook her head. “Please, Cassian. Just answer my question. Can you forgive me? I know I abandoned you; I hate that I did to you what everyone has always done to me, so it's okay if you can't, but I need to know.”

Cassian was confused. “What do you need forgiveness for?”

“I wasn't fast enough. I hesitated and you got hurt. You could have died, Cassian. This,” she gestured at the crutches, at everything in general, “this is all my fault.”

“Jyn, I was a spy. A soldier. I knew the risk going in. Few ever make it through a war unscathed. This isn't your fault and never will be. There's nothing to forgive.”

“But I left you. I wasn't there when you woke up; wasn't there when you learned what happened, through recovery and therapy. I abandoned you. I wasn't—” She broke off, throat tightening.

Cassian was starting to understand. He sighed and reached into his shirt, pulling out the old leather cord with its cracked kyber crystal. “But you were there. You've always been there.”

“You kept it,” Jyn whispered.

“Of course I did. It belongs to you. I—why did you leave it with me? I woke up and it was there...why?”

“Because I couldn't be. They were moving Krennic and my father to Coruscant. I had to go. I didn't—I wanted—I didn't want you to think that I didn't care.”

“I never once did.” Cassian's shoulders slumped, chin dropping onto his chest. “I wanted too. Everyone else got to see you. They got to say good bye. But I just...I couldn't. I'd look at this,” he said, eyes desperate as he clutched the crystal, “and all I could think of was how it was the last thing of your mothers that you had. I kept hoping that it meant you'd return someday. This, this wasn't a gift to give lightly. I—thank you.” He smiled slightly as he saw the first tear roll down her cheek. “You never have to ask if I forgive you. You gave me the best gift of all.”

“Thank you,” she whispered.

“I kept hoping you'd return.”

“Well, someone still owes me coffee, so I couldn't very well stay away.”

Cassian glanced at her, shy and hopeful. “So, are you going to tell me what your type is?”

“Well, for some reason, I keep thinking back to this one person I know. Dark hair, slim build, unassuming but able to kick ass. Great at hiding who they really are to everyone but their friends. A soldier and a spy,” she added, throwing his word back at him. She stood up and moved toward him, leaning over him once she was close. “Got an idea yet?”

“You and Leia will make a lovely couple.”

Jyn snorted and leaned forward to kiss him. “So, when do we go get that coffee Andor?”

“Tomorrow,” he vowed, pulling her down to sit next to him, kissing her again. “I think this is a good start.”

She laughed and leaned in closer, arms around him as their lips met again.

It was almost dark when they were awoken from where they had dozed off, arms still holding on, by a knock on the door. Cassian looked up blurrily as Kay walked in with a frown.

“Well, at least you didn't kill each other.”

“What do you want?” Jyn grumbled.

“Chirrut wants to know if your hungry. Baze cooked.”

“We'll be right down,” Cassian said, sitting up straighter.

Jyn was already on her feet and handing him his crutches. He leaned heavily on her shoulder as they made their slow way down, pausing every now and then to rest and exchange kisses.

Bodhi smiled as they walked into the downstairs room and took their seats. Chirrut was fussing with something off to the side, glancing up as Baze carried in a larger platter of food. Chirrut let out a satisfied noise and stepped back to reveal a camera on a tripod.

“I think everything is ready. Baze, is it good?”

Baze came over and checked the settings, smiling as he turned it to properly face the table. He kissed Chirrut's cheek and pushed him toward his seat.

“Everyone smile,” Chirrut called as the flash went off. Laughing, Chirrut turned back toward the table, eyes bright. “Welcome back, Jyn.”

“Welcome back!” everyone chorused. Cassian squeezed her hand.

“Welcome home.”