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thief in the night

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Chirrut appeared in the cold blue hours before dawn. He was so quiet as he shed his boots in the doorway, it was hard to say why Baze had woken up at all. Maybe his body just knew by instinct when Chirrut was nearby.

Lying on his side, Baze watched silently as Chirrut made his way over to the table and felt around for the fruit bowl. He was little more than a ghost in the faint grey light from the window, only recognizable by the outline of his body, and the way he picked up a knife by sliding his palm across the table until he found what he was looking for. The fruit made a soft, wet sound as the knife bit in.

Baze’s eyes kept trying to fall shut, but he forced them to stay open. It seemed important to witness this moment of Chirrut acting as if he were alone, unconcerned about breaking into Baze's quarters and stealing his breakfast.

These rooms were built for individual occupants. That fact was dug into the stone. Like every other unmarried person in the Temple of the Whills, Baze slept on a narrow mattress in an alcove carved into the wall, in the same place where generations of other Guardians had slept before. A second alcove housed a bookshelf and his blaster collection, an idiosyncracy tolerated with poorly-concealed concern by the masters. They thought Baze was a paranoid zealot, taking the Guardian title too literally when his real duties were to guide pilgrims around a temple that had prospered without attack for centuries. But Baze never had an affinity for the graceful rhythms of the traditional Whills fighting techniques, and blasters were his substitute for that lack.

Leaning with his hip against the table, Chirrut ate slices of fruit from the point of the knife.

‘Come on,’ said Baze, his voice rough with sleep. ‘Get in.’

Chirrut started, which Baze took as a personal victory. It wasn’t often that he managed to take his friend by surprise.

Holding the rest of the fruit between his teeth, Chirrut untied the outer layer of his robes and slung them over the back of a chair. Then he ungraciously wriggled his way under Baze’s blankets, until their legs were tangled together and he was lying mostly on Baze’s chest, crushing the breath out of him. Propped up on his elbows, he finished eating the fruit, dripping juice onto Baze’s neck and making him twitch.

When Baze smoothed a thumb over Chirrut’s mouth he found chilly, wind-chapped skin with heat hiding beneath the surface, like Chirrut had been running outside.

‘Where did you go tonight?’

‘Climbing,’ said Chirrut. ‘And then being chased, because someone didn’t take kindly to the climbing.’

Baze pictured Chirrut getting caught clambering around on some poor unsuspecting citizen’s roof in the middle of the night, and snorted.

‘What?’ asked Chirrut.

‘I was about to say it’s more dangerous at night, but at least this way you're less likely to get caught. If you absolutely can't resist being an idiot.' Baze still didn’t get how Chirrut could love meditation so much, while also being so hungry for action that he’d break out and run around the city looking for trouble at night.

‘See? I knew you’d understand,’ said Chirrut, with satisfaction, and slid cold hands into Baze’s shirt, fingers spreading across his chest. Baze cursed, but the sound was quickly swallowed by Chirrut’s mouth: a laughing kind of kiss.

Chirrut brought with him the smell of cold desert air, and clean sweat. He was all elbows and knees until he found a comfortable position for them to trade long, slow kisses, and Baze felt himself slide into a kind of trance, mesmerized by the familiar slide of Chirrut’s skin.

Chirrut drew back and pinched his side. ‘Are you falling asleep on me?’ he demanded.

‘You’re the one on me ,’ said Baze, and twisted his body until Chirrut was sliding over onto the mattress beside him, crammed into the slim space between Baze’s body and the wall. Chirrut made a harrumphing sound under his breath, before curling forward into Baze’s arms, deceptively heavy.

They were both warm now, and Baze was torn between the low thrum of desire between them, and the temptation to sink back into sleep. ‘I don’t want to move,’ he mumbled into the soft bristles of Chirrut’s hair, and smiled as Chirrut grunted in reply, fingers twisting in the fabric of Baze’s shirt. ‘In the morning,’ he promised, and closed his eyes.

Everyone complained about these cramped little bed alcoves, but Baze had come to see them as a kind of test. He and Chirrut had been squeezing into one or other of their bunks for years now; almost since they were kids. If Baze wanted to get poetic about it, he'd characterize that as a kind of triumph over adversity. Like a plant growing in the gaps of a stone wall, their bodies had learned how to fit together and find the right spaces. So when Chirrut appeared in the middle of the night to steal his food and make him shiver with cold hands, Baze was never anything less than glad.