The Darkest Prison
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Archive Warning:
No Archive Warnings Apply
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Chirrut Îmwe/Baze Malbus
Chirrut Îmwe, Baze Malbus
Additional Tags:
Pre-Rogue One, Fluff, Established Relationship, Loss of Faith, Emotional Hurt/Comfort, Light Angst, Tenderness
Published: 2017-01-24 Words: 2,280 Chapters: 1/1

The Darkest Prison


The city is crumbling around them, the light gone from its heart. There have been worse cages in Baze's life than Saw Gerrerra's cell. But the worst cages are those of the heart. This is the story of the darkest prison.

The Darkest Prison

Baze keeps going. That's the secret. He keeps going.

“Come, this way!” Chirrut tugs on his sleeve and Baze follows. One last glance into the direction they're coming from, just to be certain they aren't followed, then he plods after Chirrut. The alleyway is tiny. Baze has to walk carefully not to smash his heavy repeater cannon into the walls.
“Slow as always,” Chirrut chides him. Baze loves the teasing edge to his partner's whispery voice.
“Making sure it's me and not you they get, is what I do,” he says. “Who's even after us?”
Chirrut doesn't reply, only halts, chapped hands around his staff. Baze almost walks into him. The black of his overcoat is powdered with dust and sand. “They're past us now,”, Chirrut finally replies.
“Stormtroopers?” Baze asks, because nowadays that's the most obvious choice.
“The Force warned me about them.”
Guilt tears at Baze. 'Your extraordinary perception skills warned you,' he wants to say, but doesn't. It must be the combination of hearing and feeling vibrations on the floor. Like a snake. “Let's go on.” Because going on is what they do. Because going on is all there is left to do. Chirrut's hand finds his own, and Baze squeezes back. He'll have to look through his supplies this evening. There has to be some hand cream left. “Lead the way.”

And Chirrut does. It's not as if Baze doesn't know the streets they're walking, doesn't recognize the path. Baze knows the city by heart. He knows every corner, every house and street and wall. He knows it early in the morning, buzzing with activity – heavily clad people trying to shield their faces against the piercing winter winds whizzing over the market place, merchants selling hot broth, pilgrims making their way towards the temple. He knows it in bright daylight when the sun manages to finally bring some warmth, he knows it when the sun sets and darkness settles, when the only warm places are the hearts and fireplaces of its inhabitants. The city is his home, but under imperial occupation, his home is foreign to him.

It's that Chirrut has a goal while Baze hasn't. Where once was a light, there's now a dull darkness chewing away almost any certainty Baze has ever had. It's something he's heard of, naturally, as a Guardian. Sometimes the light leaves people. He used to think that was because the Force doesn't deem them worthy of its attention. Now, he's the one who's caught up in this darkness, he and thousands of people living in NiJedha. A city without a heart, because as they walk its roads, the heart is broken into pieces and taken from it.
“It's a bad thing for a warrior not to be aware of his surroundings,” Chirrut remarks as Baze once again almost walks into him. Baze places a hand on his partner's shoulder. “I know,” he says. “Where are you taking us?”
Chirrut's hands scrabble about until he finds the handle of a wooden door. Warm air caresses Baze's face as the door opens. Baze has to duck his head to not collide with the low frame and then finds himself in a surprisingly warm and deserted room. It doesn't contain more than a bed and a table. It doesn't even have a window. “A place to stay tonight.”


Baze doesn't ask how Chirrut knows about it. Someone must have told him, yet he'd probably credit the Force. Baze doesn't want to hear about the Force right now. Actually, he's not sure he'll ever want to hear about the Force again. The Empire has occupied the temple and, as Baze has heard, slain the Jedi, but the wound in Baze's heart doesn't heal with the short time it is given. He knows the Force exists. He's just not so sure anymore the Force knows he exists.
The weight of his repeating blaster is being lifted from his shoulders. He doesn't protest, although he hates being without his weapon. With the Force gone, the blaster is the only reliable weapon he has. But if there's someone to disarm him, it's Chirrut. Chirrut, whose arms are holding him now and whose head is rested against his back. Baze rests his hands on top of Chirrut's, their fingers interlaced. Baze doesn't know how long they are standing like this. In Chirrut's company, time is a construct that isn't to be trusted.

“I can feel the loss, too, you know?” For once, Chirrut's voice isn't filled with the usual levity. “The Holy City was once a strong star. Now, its heart is broken. But as long as we have faith, not all hope is lost.”
Baze sighs and disengages himself from his partner. “We forgot to close the door.” Leaving it ajar isn't a good idea when there are stormtroopers sniffing around and potentially looking for them. Chirrut lits a candle and places it on the table while Baze closes the door. Darkness isn't a problem for Chirrut, but it is for Baze. “I've got some polystarch left. You must be hungry.” Baze fishes the box out of his pockets and puts it on the table.
“I'm really not,” Chirrut says.
“You really are,” Baze says. “You're not the only one with ears, you know? I heard your stomach rumbling.”
“That was my echolocation trying to find this room!”

A dry laugh escapes Baze. He gazes at Chirrut, who's settled himself on the bed, leaned against the wall. Supper can wait. The candle provides a flickering light that paints Chirrut in soft colors and shadows and reflects the blue vastness of his eyes. “Your echolocation works well, then.” He sits down beside Chirrut, who takes his hand. The world goes quiet. Chirrut's hand is cold from the sharp wind outside, cold from relentlessly wielding his quarterstaff, and reminds Baze of something. Chirrut leans his head on Baze's shoulder as Baze starts to lotion his partner's chapped hands. He slowly massages the fatty cream into the back of Chirrut's hand, then the palm, then every single finger. When he's done, he lifts the hand to his face and places a kiss on each fingertip. A smile tugs at the corners of Baze's mouth as Chirrut decides to look at his face by carefully reading it with his fingers – the appearing creases on his forehead, the deep bags beneath his eyes. Baze has started taking care of Chirrut's other hand when the touch becomes more a caress than an examination. He smells the lotion's scent, feels his skin prickle. When he finishes his treatment, he simply holds Chirrut's hand between his, enjoying Chirrut's soft touch as long as he can. A way of deferring the inevitable. Voicing the thoughts on what is bothering him is difficult. It's not because he fears Chirrut's reaction, it's because he fears hearing the truth in his own words. It's because something that was once an essential part of his world view now isn't there anymore.

“I can see you think,” Chirrut interrupts his line of thoughts. “Alas, I can't read your thoughts.” He lets his hand sink. Baze's face is cold and lonely without Chirrut's touch.
“And there I thought you'd know me well enough by now.”
“Well enough that you can't keep it a secret.” Chirrut voice is cheerful enough. There's a hint of something else – wariness, gingerliness? – that Baze can't exactly make out. A thick ball of sorrow blocks his throat. He turns his head, lips touching skin, the nose, and finally, lips touching lips. The sensation intensifies when he closes his eyes. Chirrut's breathing is calm and soothing, his constant presence a warm glow. Lips against lips, and Baze leans his face into Chirrut's hand as his partner cups his face. The sorrow faints into a distant smoke blanket. Lips against lips. A hand on his face, so very gentle, a hand on his neck, so very comforting. Their lips part. Letting go is not an option – resting his forehead against Chirrut's is.

Now, finally, the words leave Baze's head. “The Force doesn't guide me. It doesn't know I exist. Doesn't even know about the temple.”

Chirrut leans closer, snuggling his nose against Baze's. Their embrace is so tight, so secure, that Baze barely suppresses a sob. Chirrut is here. That's not the only thing that matters, but it's the best. “Thank you,” Baze says. He doesn't know how much time has passed. With Chirrut, he never knows. The candle isn't as big as before, and Chirrut's stomach rumbles in a way that can't be ignored. “We have to take care of your echolocation.”


The supper is simple and sufficiently satisfying, with the instant bread only needing water to rise. Baze slides his feet towards Chirrut, who with a grin places his own feet on top of them. It's warmer like that, and right now, Baze needs the closeness even more than Chirrut. He's tired, so tired. For over thirty years the Force has been a constant in his life and now he's stripped bare. Without the Force, he's naked. In this state, Chirrut is the only person he's comfortable being around.
“You're brooding, old man. Want those creases to deepen?”
“Old man, ha! I'm telling you, I'm in the prime of my,” his voice drops, emptied, “life.”
“You certainly are.” The way Chirrut smiles and plays with his fingers tells Baze that if he had eyes able to see, they would be shamelessly running up and down Baze's body.
He chuckles. “I'm , I mean, between the two of us, you're the fit one. I'm just the guy with the big gun.”
“As long as you're using that gun for my benefit only, I won't argue.”
“Always, Chirrut, always.”

Baze breaks the short silence emerging between them by reaching over the table to take Chirrut's hand. It takes some time to form his thoughts and Chirrut for once doesn't interrupt him. “How can you feel the heart being taken from this city, bit by bit, and still believe this is as the Force wills?” he asks, because while they can carry entire conversations by touch alone, while they know each other by heart, important things are still talked about.
“Just because I don't see a reason to something doesn't mean there isn't one.”
“You put you faith in something whose goals you can't, like, do you even know if the Force is something good?”
“I do. Believe the Force is trustworthy, I mean. I know it. You used to know, too.” Chirrut turns his hand so that they are palm to palm.
“Perhaps a principle isn't worth following once you see the … destruction it brings. The death. Our siblings at the temple died, or are lost like we are now. The city, Chirrut. It's dead.” Baze's voice is raw. “Sorry. I didn't want to make you sad.”
Chirrut shakes his head. “You don't. The Empire does. They're taking the kyber. They're taking the hope. You, my friend, can never make me sad.”
Carefully, Baze runs his thumb around Chirrut's pale eyes, drying the hints of tears. Just as he's done, Chirrut places a kiss to Baze's hand. Baze moves the dishes aside and holds both of Chirrut's hands. “Good things are brought by the Force and bad things are people's doings, eh?”
Chirrut remains silent, pensive. “You remember, when I lost my eyesight, how difficult it was. Every day there was less I could see. Of the world, of you.”
Baze nods, keeps caressing Chirrut. “I do.” But it hadn't silenced Chirrut's faith, quite the contrary.
“That's when I noticed the Force. Funny how it sometimes needs a big loss to notice something beautiful and good.”
“Since then, you've been able to tell the troublemakers from the regular pilgrims,” Baze comments.
“Able to see the Force darken around those with bad intent. The Force talks. Like a constant murmur of all living things.”
“What's your point?”
Chirrut lets out a laugh. “My point is, losing my eyesight wasn't a bad thing.”
“I remember you cursing and crying and growing desperate about it.” The memory twists his stomach. If only he never has to see Chirrut in such a state again.
“Exactly – can't you see the parallel?”
For a moment, Baze can only stare at Chirrut. Surely he isn't serious. “Are you trying to tell me that the loss of thousands of lives, the desecration of the Holy City and imperial occupation are the equivalent of you losing your eyesight?”
A crooked smile appears on Chirrut's face. “Well, between the two of us, you have the bigger heart, haven't you?”
Baze closes his eyes. He leans back, drops his head into his hands which without Chirrut feel cold and empty. He is cold and empty, stripped bare. Take the Force from him, and what remains is … darkness and despair.

And Chirrut, whose arms close around Baze.

He must have left his place at the table, because now he's kneeing beside Baze, holding him. And Baze lets loose what's been building up inside of him. Tears are appearing, pouring down his cheeks, his body is quivering, the only sound coming out of his mouth is convulsive sobbing until his lungs and throat are aching.
“Baze,” Chirrut murmurs while he rubs his back, “Baze. Baze. Baze. Don't let this darkness take you,” and Baze hears, 'from me.'
A warm feeling is what Chirrut brings back into Baze's soul. Because while the Force has left him, Chirrut hasn't. Chirrut stays. Side by side, he can keep going. Chirrut stays. Because while this is the darkest prison, he still has Chirrut with him.

“I won't.” Because as long as he has Chirrut, there is hope.


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