Baze becomes a Guardian of the Whills by accident.
He’s drawn more to their weaponry than their faith. His curiosity about the lightbow wielded by the Guardians gets the better of him eventually. It’s a beautiful and powerful weapon.
He stands across the square from the temple on too many days to count. The monks practice sparring and their forms and target practice most afternoons on front of the temple, before their evening prayers. He comes to know many of them by sight: the heavy-set monk who makes patient demonstrations over and over again for the children who come to watch; the short-haired woman with the quick hands; the elderly man with the scar on his cheek and surprisingly gentle laugh; and the blind monk with cloudy eyes who moves more gracefully than any of them.
“Are you going to stand here and stare all day?” The young monk with the cloudy eyes is suddenly next to him, a wicked teasing undercurrent in his voice. “Again?”
Baze doesn’t want to give him the satisfaction of being startled, even though he had nearly jumped out of his skin. “Didn’t really have anything better to do.”
The monk takes him by the elbow and pulls him forward. “Come, ask questions. Learn.” His hand travels up Baze’s arm, finds the strap of the heavy blaster slung over Baze’s arm, and then the blaster itself. He smiles. “Maybe we could learn something from you, too.”
Baze and Chirrut became friends, well, not instantly, but much more quickly than Baze has ever made a friend before. People tend to give him a wide berth. At least until they need him for something, and then they are all, Baze, and your badass firepower, get over here, man. Where do you even get a blaster like this? They say it like they’re comrades, but he doesn’t believe it for a second.
Chirrut is different.
With the help of Chirrut’s gentle urging, Baze finds his faith too, comes to believe in, to trust in, the Force. They’re not Jedi, but the Force flows through everything, the older Guardians tell him, and the Force is strong in each of them. And they in turn are strong for Jedha.
They live in simple cells in the monastery behind the temple, Chirrut and Baze at opposite ends of the hall. Until one day Baze comes back from the evening meal to find Chirrut dragging his cot into Baze’s room.
“Give me a hand?”
Baze does, grabs the opposite end of the cot and navigates it through the doorway. “Why are we doing this?”
“You snore,” Chirrut says. “I can hear it all the way down the hall. Might as well be in the same room as you. At least then I can throw things at you to make you stop.”
After that, Chirrut’s nightly prayers lull Baze to sleep. And the small stones Chirrut lobs across the room wake him up in the middle of the night.
Sometimes, Chirrut leaves the monastery late at night and walks the city. He says it helps his mediation. Baze thinks it’s a stupid thing to do.
There have been whispers lately about the growing power of the Empire. With each passing day, there are more and more unfriendly faces in the streets of NiJedha. The Guardians of the Whills are starting to be treated with suspicion, rather than respect. Chirrut can’t see those looks.
Baze follows him, every time, to make sure he’s okay.
One night, Chirrut is set upon by thieves in an alley. Baze readies his blaster just in case, but hangs back. Chirrut makes short work of them. He leans on his staff as they scatter, then turns his head toward where Baze is waiting, and says, “I’m ready to go home. You?”
“You knew I was there the whole time?” Baze is furious and relieved at once.
“Well, you were trying so hard to be stealthy. I didn’t want to ruin it for you.”
Later, when they are back in the monastery, Baze pushes their cots together, and pulls Chirrut to him. Chirrut tugs at Baze’s shirt and presses against him. There is no hurry, just slow exploration.
“I can feel the change, you know, in the Force” Chirrut says, as Baze drifts off. “It flows differently around many in the city now. A sort of... prickly anger.”
Baze can’t feel it, never could. He’s jealous, almost, of how the Force manifests for Chirrut. He runs a hand through Chirrut’s hair and says, “What do we do?”
“Same thing we always do, trust in the Force.”
Baze loses his faith quickly.
The Imperials occupy, the temple is destroyed. They keep fighting, but a monastery is no match for the Empire, even a monastery with as much firepower as they have. The Guardians, what’s left of them, regroup in the shadowy corners of NiJedha. Baze fights with Chirrut and the other monks about the best course of action. The Guardians begin to dwindle: some go down fighting, a few turn traitor, but most just disappear, their stories unknown. And then, eventually, Chirrut is the only one left.
The temple is gone, but there are still crystals to mine. Baze and Chirrut stay in NiJedha, cause trouble for the Imperials where they can. It’s a drop in the bucket, but the ripple it causes frustrates the stormtroopers enough that the effort doesn’t seem entirely worthless.
They move around the city a lot, never sleeping in the same place twice. The chaos becomes almost a routine. Throughout everything, Chirrut is a constant beacon for Baze; they may no longer have the temple or the monestary, but ending each day with Chirrut by his side is still like coming home.
Tonight, home is an abandoned storefront. Baze is on watch, but the street outside is quiet. He keeps an eye and an ear out while he cleans his heavy blaster. Chirrut comes and sits with him, works his way into Baze’s personal space, between him and his blaster. Baze leans back against the wall and closes his eyes.
“You feel it too, don’t you?” Chirrut asks.
“A warm thrumming in your chest. I feel it when you’re near.”
He does feel it, feels it in a way that he’s never felt anything before. The fire’s grown slowly over the years, like it’s been carefully fed. So slowly he didn’t notice it at first, and one day he woke up and realized it had been their for a long time. But it’s too much, maybe, to say it out loud. He’s brave in many things, but not this.
Chirrut smiles knowingly against Baze’s silence. “The Force.”
Baze scowls. “You think everything’s the Force.”
“Hmm. Something else then.” Chirrut settles back into him more fully, and Baze’s hands find Chirrut’s hips and his lips find the base of Chirrut’s neck, and press a kiss there. The something else goes unspoken.
It doesn’t need to be said.