Kanan stirred in his bed, waking up to an anxious feeling in his chest.
Slowly opening his eyes, he remembered that he decided not to sleep in Hera’s bed last night. His nightmares after his ordeal with the Grand Inquisitor and Grand Moff Tarkin had subsided somewhat and he wanted to try to sleep on his own again.
She had joked that she couldn’t wait to have her bunk to herself, but he saw the reluctance and worry in her eyes. As much as they kept their relationship a friendship, Hera always let her true feelings show in those moments.
Kanan threw back his blanket and felt tiny droplets of sweat on his forehead. His hair was a little damp, too.
Did I have a nightmare again?
Whenever he had one, he usually woke up, heart racing and short of breath. He must’ve just been warm under the covers.
Kanan had been sleeping pretty good lately, but he couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling. He didn’t know what time it was. It felt early. Too early to do anything.
Still, he decided to get out of bed. He swung his legs to the side of the bunk, sat up and yawned loudly.
As he subconsciously pulled his dark hair into his usual pony at the nape of his neck, he heard a quiet whimper.
His ears perked up.
“Hera?” He whispered. “Ezra?” No one answered. It was only the three of them on the ship right now, which was parked on Lothal, on the plains. Zeb, Sabine and Chopper were on a short supply run with the Phantom grabbing food, fuel and Ezra’s favorite - Alkmanian apples.
He had been in low spirits, dealing with a lot since he learned about his parents’ death. No one blamed him for not being his usual self, though. All of the crew had lost something because of the Empire.
Some of us more than others, Kanan thought somberly.
Again, he heard the soft cry and realized the sound was coming from outside his door. He stood up, slid into his pants and walked towards it.
When he opened the door, he came face-to-face with a tiger-striped lothcat sitting at his feet.
“How did you get in here?” he asked, raising an eyebrow. It mewed back at him and started to circle his legs, affectionately rubbing him. With an amused smirk, Kanan bent down to scratch its head.
The lothcat jumped out of his reach, mewed at him again, a little louder this time, and took off down the hall. It stopped at Ezra and Zeb’s room and looked back at the jedi.
Puzzled and the uneasiness growing in his chest, he followed.
Soon he heard Ezra talking loudly, sadness in his voice.
“Mom… Dad… no….”
“Ezra?” Kanan said softly as he walked into his bedroom.
Ezra was back at home in Lothal. His parents were in the kitchen, his mother humming to music playing on the holovid as they prepared dinner.
He was sitting in the family room entertaining himself with his stuffed lothwolves. They were attacking a group of stormtroopers that had invaded Lothal, a game he usually played with his dad.
A few seconds later, he felt the room go dark.
“Mom? Dad?” Ezra called out, his voice betraying the dread he felt. He heard his mom call for him from the kitchen.
He walked in and his eyes went wide with fear.
“That feeling in your heart? The pain?” The Grand Inquisitor sneered at him. “It’ll keep happening as long as you surround yourself with friends, with family.”
Ezra looked down at the inquisitor’s feet. His mom and dad laid motionless, carbon-scored holes where their hearts should’ve been, their dead eyes staring up at him.
“If we don’t stand up, who will… Without hope, we have nothing… Stay strong, Ezra. Can you do that for us, son?” His parents’ voices echoed in his head.
“Mom… dad… no…” Ezra whispered, horrified.
He looked away. It was all his fault. If he hadn’t sent that message, his parents wouldn’t have planned the escape. They probably would still be alive!
His gaze went back to them, but he couldn’t breathe.
The bodies were no longer theirs. It was Hera. Zeb. Sabine. Ashoka. Their dead eyes were now starting up at him. Even Chopper just laid there, parts missing and his body dismantled.
But the inquisitor had Kanan in front of him, on his knees.
“Don’t you see?” The grand inquisitor asked, his sharp teeth forming a malicious grin. “They’ll all end up like your parents… dead, because of you!”
“Ezra?!” Kanan gasped, his eyebrows pulled together in concern.
The room was in chaos, drawers and cabinet doors open, Seb’s and Ezra’s clothes strewn all over the floor, random items suspended in the air. Several lothcats had found their way in and were growling and hissing at Kanan.
But he was looking past all of it. His eyes focused on Ezra, who was violently tossing and turning on the top bunk, his hands balled into fists around his blankets.
“No!” Ezra screamed in agony. “Not them… not my family… NOT KANAN!”
Kanan crossed the room in a couple strides and grabbed ahold of Ezra’s shoulders, to keep him from hurting himself.
“Ezra!” Kanan cried, his own voice breaking at hearing the terror in his padawan’s. “Ezra, wake up, WAKE UP!”
It wasn’t working. Ezra was still crying out, for him, for Hera, for all of them.
Kanan kook a step back and closed his eyes to refocus and calm himself. Ezra’s reaction to the nightmare was causing his fear, his anger, his hatred to seep into his connection to the Force. He was reaching out to everything around him, his emotions affecting it all and whatever was going on in his dream was causing him to lash out.
Kanan outstretched his hand toward Ezra and called to him through the Force, through their bond, sending soothing feelings to get him to calm down.
Ezra. I got you. You’re safe. Wake up!
It took a few seconds, but Ezra’s bright blue eyes suddenly shot open. He leaped off the bunk and silently called for his lightsaber. It found its way into his hands as it had many times before and ignited.
“Ezra?” Kanan whispered calmly, hands outstretched, non-threatening. His voice was soft, low and reassuring, trying not to show the worry he had for his padawan. “It’s okay… you were having a nightmare. You’re safe. I got you.”
“Kanan?” Ezra replied, eyes blinking, tears sliding down his checks. He was trying to adjust to his surroundings, but his chest felt like it was in a vice grip. He couldn’t breath. His legs were rubber. His hands wrapped tighter around his saber, its glow casting a blue hue on the lothcats, who were now silent.
“You’re on the Ghost. You’re safe. I got you.”
Ezra recognized his master’s voice, clearer now in his head, and lowered his saber. Kanan grabbed it from him, letting the beam disappear, and gingerly set it on the floor.
Ezra looked at Kanan, tired eyes filled with tears, and let out a cracked sob. The nightmare, every part of it, was fresh in his mind. He felt sick. His legs couldn’t hold him up any longer so he instinctively collapsed into Kanan’s arms.
“I got you, Ezra.” Kanan reassured him, slowly sitting down, holding him close. He stroked his back repeatedly. “I got you… I got you… it’s gonna be okay. I’m here.”
Feeling and hearing Kanan’s voice caused Ezra to sob louder and curl further into Kanan’s arms. Ezra laid his head on his chest and wrapped his arms tighter around Kanan’s body.
Kanan didn’t know how long they sat there together. He didn’t care. Ezra had held this in too long, been too brave in front of everyone.
Kanan had no idea what it was like to lose your parents. He had lost his master, but he knew it was different. Ezra had lost them twice. First, when they were taken by the Empire and then again when he discovered that the Empire had killed them during their attempted prison escape.
After several minutes, Ezra’s cries subsided and Kanan felt his chest steady into a regular rhythm. Kanan looked down at him and carefully moved his padawan’s hair out of his face. Ezra’s blue eyes were puffy, red, but he didn’t look up at his Master.
Then, Kanan heard Hera stumble down the hall, half-asleep. She must’ve heard his cries or the lightsaber.
She stopped when she walked into the room. After one quick glance, she locked eyes with Kanan and nodded. Sometimes Kanan thought she was more perceptive than the Jedi he had trained with at the temple.
While Hera quietly cleaned up, shooing away any lothcats in her path, Kanan decided to take Ezra back to his room.
“Come on, Ezra,” Kanan gently coaxed, but he didn’t wait for permission. Kanan stood up with Ezra in his arms and carried him into the hallway. Ezra didn’t protest, his eyes already drooping in exhaustion.
A few seconds later, Kanan placed Ezra on his bed. He seemed to already be fast asleep.
I better go help, Hera. he thought. We should clean up before Zeb gets back.
He turned to walk away, careful to not wake his padawan.
Kanan looked back. Ezra was laying on his stomach, looking at the opposite wall away from his master, but Kanan felt it. He was terrified.
“It looks like you have someone to keep you company,” Kanan replied in a lighter tone, noticing the same lothcat that sat outside his bedroom earlier curled up at Ezra’s feet.
“Please.” He begged, like a youngling to his parent.
Kanan sighed and stepped toward his bed.
“You should try to get some sleep, Ezra,” Kanan encouraged, placing his hand on Ezra’s back, using his thumb to make soothing circles. “We can talk about it later.”
Ezra was silent.
“Only if you want…” Kanan added, cautiously.
Ezra remained quiet so Kanan turned to leave again.
“I- I saw my parents, again,” Ezra stuttered out. Kanan looked back at him. This time he was sitting on the bed, feet on the floor, head in his hands.
“And?” Kanan asked. He sat down next to his padawan.
“We were home,” Ezra continued, still looking down. “It was like before they were taken, but…”
Kanan saw the tears hit the floor. He placed a hand on Ezra’s shoulder.
“You don’t have to talk about this now,” Kanan said again. He knew the difficulty of having dreams and nightmares as someone strong with the Force. You felt it more deeply as if every single moment was real or a vision that was about to come true.
“I need to, Kanan. I need to get it out.”
“I walked into the kitchen and the Grand Inquisitor was there. He killed my parents, their hearts were gone… their dead eyes kept looking-”
“Ezra…” Kanan interrupted, feeling Ezra’s body shaking again, his tears falling faster now.
“But that’s not the worst part, Kanan!” Ezra cried, angrily, his hands violently gripping his hair. “My parents are dead because of me! And soon, YOU AND EVERYONE ON THIS SHIP WILL BE, TOO!”
Ezra’s sobs were back, full force. His body wracking with each breath.
Kanan sighed heavily.
“Ezra, look at me.”
His padawan slowly looked up, his tear-stained face already searching for meaning in what Kanan was going to say.
“Your parents were two extremely brave and selfless people. They stood up to tyranny early on in the Empire’s reign when most people backed down. Who’s to say your parents wouldn’t have tried to escape eventually, with or without your message?”
Kanan paused, stopping to sense whether Ezra wanted him to go on. He continued.
“And everyone aboard this ship, who’s a part of this crew, is here because THEY want to be. Every decision, every choice they make is their own and to take that away from them is wrong.”
“I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t feel hurt, grief, or even a little anger right now. But remember what I said to you that night? Your parents will be with you, always. They believed in what they were doing… and I believe they would feel the same way about you, that I do. That everyone else on the Ghost does. You’re a part of our family, Ezra, and we believe in what we're doing... and you.”
Ezra closed his eyes, took a deep breath to steady himself and nodded. Kanan rubbed his shoulder, a gesture of comfort.
“Can you stay?” Ezra asked again, his tone slightly calmer than before.
“Yes,” Kanan replied, no hesitation this time.
The next morning, Ezra woke up to Kanan meditating on the floor. The last few hours were restful for him, something he’d been needing for a while.
And thanks to his Master, he finally got it. With Kanan by his side, Ezra felt peaceful for the first time since their conversation with Ryder a few weeks ago.
“You know, I think Sabine has a surprise for you,” Kanan said with a smirk.
“Of course she does,” Ezra replied, his eyes sparkling. “It’s those apples I like.”