Chapter 1: Reunion
“So that’s it, then?”
Hera stared up at Kanan, her lekku stiff and her eyes full of pain. He looked into them, and saw a terrible mixture of betrayal and sadness, with an attempt at anger to mask it. She was so obviously hurting.
And it was all his fault.
“Hera… I’m sorry.”
“You’re just going to leave,” she said. Her voice made him want to take it back. It was heartbroken. He would have preferred anger over this,
“I’m not the right person for-” he stopped himself from saying what he meant. “For this.”
After a brief moment, Hera sighed. “Are you sure?”
Kanan nodded, guilt washing over him, and she swallowed and looked down. When she looked back up at him, her face was impassive.
“Okay. Where should I drop you off?”
“Wherever you stop for fuel next.”
Hera pressed her lips together, and gave a small bob of her head.
“Alright. Go pack your things, we’ll probably be stopping in a few hours.”
Kanan watched her turn around, and walk towards the cockpit. He wouldn’t see her again until just as he left, when he passed her while she was rigging the fuel line up. He expected her to beg him to stay- wanted her to, actually.
But all he got was a small wave, and the hint of a forced, sad smile.
Kanan yawned, and pushed a couple of loose strands of hair from his face, tucking them behind his ear.
He heard the boy repeat himself, and then Kanan straightened up, rolling his shoulder.
“We’re out of jogans.”
Kanan frowned. “Are you sure? I thought I just bought some.”
He turned to the boy, an eyebrow raised, and he saw his blue eyes look down sheepishly. Kanan couldn’t hide the his playful smile.
“I got really hungry.”
Kanan laughed, and reached over to ruffle Ezra’s dark hair.
“We’ll get some. Get dressed, kid.”
Ezra grinned at him, and Kanan smiled back before standing up. Ezra followed him up, and ran a hand over the back of his neck.
Kanan pulled him into a brief, sideways hug.
Kanan threw his shirt on, and stepped outside of the room at the top of the tower that he and Ezra called their home, leaning on the railing and looking across the horizon of Lothal. He’d gotten to Lothal just under 2 years ago, after planet hopping once again for a long time. He befriended Ezra when he was thirteen, after getting him out of a tough spot with some stormtroopers, and after a while they became close, and Ezra offered to let him live with him after Kanan couldn’t find a place.
Kanan couldn’t believe how attached he’d gotten to Ezra. Kanan still remembered how closed off Ezra had been when they first met, and now they were so close. He felt an obligation to him, like he had a duty to protect him. Almost like a father. There was something else there too… like the Force had drawn him to Ezra that day he’d pulled him away from those stormtroopers. Not that he connected to the Force much anymore- it was too risky. He had to protect Ezra, had to stay with him. He hadn’t stayed this long… well, anywhere. He’d been living on Lothal even longer than he’d been with Hera.
Kanan winced at the thought of Hera. He missed her. He told himself he wouldn’t, that he’d eventually get over her like he’d gotten over every other person he’d been with. But he still hadn’t, all these years later. He thought about her more than he’d be willing to admit. He wondered how she’d feel if she knew what he’d done- would she be disappointed that he went back to his old life for so long? Would she be proud of how he’d changed, how he took care of Ezra?
Would she even care?
He was lost in his thoughts when Ezra stepped next to him, looking up at him earnestly.
“Ready to go?”
Kanan nodded, and followed Ezra down the tower, to the city. As they made their way, Kanan couldn’t help but feel a twinge of... something. Whether it was just hunger or tiredness or the Force, he was sure he’d find out soon enough.
Kanan slid the credits across the counter of the vendor’s stand, who counted them before putting some jogans in a bag and handing them to him. Kanan smiled and thanked him before taking the bag. Ezra reached in before Kanan could even step back, taking one and biting into it. Kanan laughed.
“Where’s your restraint?”
Ezra shrugged and took another bite, while Kanan shook his head, still chuckling. He and Ezra walked down the street of Lothal’s Capital City, Ezra chomping down the jogan fruit on the way. Kanan watched Ezra wipe his mouth with the back of his sleeve before reaching towards the bag, which Kanan sharply pulled out of his reach.
“You know there’s other foods too, kid.”
“You should try them sometime.”
Ezra folded his arms, and Kanan smiled.
“We’ll go out to eat somewhere tonight. I can scrounge up the credits.”
Ezra’s eyes brightened, and Kanan chuckled. “But,” he added, “only if you don’t eat any more jogans until then.”
Kanan started to say something else, when he heard blaster fire from down the street. His eyes widened, and he instinctively stepped in front of Ezra, and looked down the street to see two figures rounding a corner and running down the street, being chased by a group of stormtroopers, who were firing at them. The figures, a small one in colorful Mandalorian armor and a large purple alien- Kanan wanted to say it was a Lasat but it was at a distance and he’d never met one in person before, so he couldn’t be sure- were occasionally firing back at the stormtroopers, though mostly just running. As they got closer, Kanan swore he heard laughter coming from the Lasat, and he grabbed Ezra’s arm, pulling him through an alley, and around the side of the building.
And, as Kanan’s luck would permit, that’s where the pair being chased slid through, and the maybe-Lasat even found himself falling over from the turn, sliding and landing at Kanan and Ezra’s feet. The Mandalorian girl stopped and turned around to look at him, though Kanan couldn’t tell what she was feeling through her helmet.
Kanan watched Ezra’s initially startled face change to a familiar one, the confident one that he got before going in to swipe something. He knelt down and offered his hand to the alien, (Kanan had decided he was definitely a Lasat) who raised his brows and got himself up. Ezra took his hand back, but still kept eye contact.
“Are you okay?”
The Lasat shrugged and nodded, before looking to the Mandalorian girl. “You think they saw us?”
As if on cue, a blaster bolt flew in between the Lasat and Ezra, and both the Lasat and the Mandalorian took off running. More blaster bolts almost hit both Kanan and Ezra, and it took Kanan a moment to realize the troopers were firing at them too.
This day was going great.
It was Ezra who took Kanan’s hand and pulled him along, following the Lasat and the Mandalorian. Kanan ran with him, but furrowed his brows as they ran.
“I hope you have a plan!”
“Is it a good one?”
“Those two must be going somewhere! We follow them, and they can take us to… wherever they’re going!”
Kanan looked at him incredulously as they rounded a corner, still following the Lasat and the Mandalorian.
“That’s your plan?”
“Well, what’s yours?”
Kanan shook his head, muttering under his breath as they ran, ducking when blaster bolts flew over their shoulders.
It felt like forever when a ship swooped down (a VCX-100, a painful reminder for Kanan), it’s ramp open and within jumping distance. The Lasat jumped up, and then helped the Mandalorian steady herself when she got up there. They both turned around to see Kanan and Ezra running at them.
Ezra waved his arms as he ran, and Kanan worried for a second he’d get shot through the hand.
“HEY!” Ezra shouted. “LET US UP!”
Kanan ducked when a blaster bolt flew over his head, and Ezra looked alarmed for a moment before looking back up to the ship.
The Lasat and Mandalorian shared a brief exchange that Kanan couldn’t hear, before evidently deciding to let them up, as they both outstretched their hands. Kanan pointed to Ezra, directing him to go first, and he listened, jumping in a way that… Kanan felt seemed off. But he couldn’t worry about that now, he just followed Ezra up, jumping himself. The Lasat caught him a little, helping him steady himself. Kanan looked up, and nodded.
They all jogged up the ramp, and the Lasat closed it behind them once they were all up and in the cargo bay. Kanan looked around. The paint job inside looked… familiar. But maybe all VCX-100s looked like that on the inside? He hadn’t exactly been inside many.
He was pulled out of his thoughts by the gruff voice of the Lasat. “The name’s Zeb. Over there,” he pointed to the Mandalorian girl, who had taken off her helmet to reveal blue and orange hair. “That’s Sabine.”
Sabine nodded, and Ezra stepped forward, putting a hand on his chest to introduce himself.
“Well, my name is Ezra, and this is my… dad, his name is-”
He was cut off by a sharp gasp from above, and everyone looked up to the balcony over the cargo bay. Kanan felt his heart clench, and his face heat up.
Hera Syndulla’s hands gripped the railing of the balcony, and her eyes were fixed firmly on Kanan.
So the paint job was familiar.
Chapter 2: Reunion II
This chapter is a little shorter, but the chapters will (hopefully) get longer as time goes on.
To be honest, I rewrote this chapter a couple times, trying out different tones for Kanan and Hera's reunion and tried to figure out how they'd react, and I settled on this one, because it just felt the most natural while I was writing.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The door of the cockpit closed behind Hera, and she pressed the button for the locking mechanism. All of her interactions with Kanan were being questioned now. When did he decide he was going to leave? Did he know he’d eventually leave when he first moved in? Did he know when he’d taken her out to eat on the moons of Rion? The first time they kissed? The first time they slept together?
Did he know this morning, when they woke up together?
Her head was spinning with emotion when she checked the navigator. Batuu was the closest place, and had a good amount of fuel. She ran a thumb over the screen over the edge of the console.
She was mad at him. She was disappointed in herself. She felt betrayed. She felt stupid. She was upset with everything.
She wanted him to stay.
If he wanted to leave, she’d be better off without him.
But she wanted him to be with her.
She hated him.
She loved him.
Hera paused her train of thought, and swallowed. If she told him that, would he stay? Or would it just make him more eager to leave?
She didn’t have time to answer her own question, as a metallic knock clanged on the door, followed by the familiar warbles of Chopper. Hera quickly blinked the threatening tears from her eyes away and opened the door for him.
He rolled in, ranting proudly about the latest thing he’d fixed on the ship- maybe the coupling motivator, Hera didn’t really remember- before stopping suddenly, and asking her if she and Kanan were going anywhere.
Hera shook her head. “No,” she said. “Kanan is… leaving.”
Chopper was silent for a moment, unusual for the droid, before bumping lightly, affectionately into Hera’s leg, and warbling something else.
Hera found herself laughing, though somewhat bitterly.
“No Chop, you can’t kill him.”
Hera stared down, eyes wide. She could hardly believe it. After all this time… it was him. She could feel her heart ache- it had been too long, and she did miss him, as much as she’d tried to convince herself she didn’t. But she was upset with him. He’d left her so… suddenly. After everything they’d done together, he left.
And here he was. Back on her ship. Returning her gaze, looking every bit as surprised as she was.
He had a boy with him, too. He looked maybe a little younger than Sabine, but she couldn’t be totally sure. What was this boy doing with him?
Hera kept her calm on the outside, and slid down the ladder to the floor of the cargo bay. Zeb smiled at her.
“Sorry, we didn’t ask, Hera, but we were all getting shot at. This is Ezra,” he motioned towards the boy, then to Kanan. “And that’s his dad.”
Hera blinked in surprise. “His- his dad?” She looked at Kanan, who seemed to still be in shock and at a loss for words.
Sabine nodded, shrugging. “That’s what he said.”
She eyed Ezra. “How old are you?”
Ezra smiled at her confidently, though he still looked slightly confused. “Fourteen.”
Hera ran the math quickly in her head. Kanan would have been very young, but he’d never hid the fact that he’d had partners before her. It’s possible he just wasn’t responsible. Ezra didn’t look like Kanan, but he could have just taken after his mother. What happened to her? Did Kanan know he had a son while he was with Hera? Is that why he left?
Kanan cleared his throat loudly. “He’s… adopted. I met him about a year ago.”
That cleared things up, but only slightly. When did Kanan become the fatherly type?
But Hera just nodded, and met his eyes briefly. He looked apologetic, and after a moment averted his eyes.
Sabine folded her arms. “So, do you have a name?”
Sabine raised her eyebrows, and looked to Hera. Hera felt how she read her face, and sighed. She’d told both Zeb and Sabine about Kanan once, on a night where they all just stayed up late and poured their hearts to each other, to their new family. She’d cried and probably hadn’t made Kanan look too good, but to be fair she never would have guessed he’d show up on the Ghost .
Zeb protectively stepped close to Hera, scowling at Kanan. Hera watched Kanan’s face, and saw the realization that Zeb and Sabine knew who he was, and with that realization saw… guilt. Shame, regret.
Hera would’ve been lying if that didn’t make her feel a little better. But she had to be mature, so she smiled kindly, despite the awkward atmosphere.
“It’s been a long time, Kanan.”
She used to call him love.
Kanan smiled back at her, though it was clearly nervous. Whether it was from the uncomfortable situation or the towering Lasat and angry Mandalorian glaring at him, she couldn’t be sure.
“It has,” he said. “It’s… nice to see you again.”
Ezra looked between the two, clearly confused. Had Kanan not told him about her? Had he missed her at all?
An awkward silence hung over the room, as everyone just watched the clumsy reunion. Finally, Hera couldn’t take it anymore, and sighed.
“How about you two come in? We can… catch up.”
Kanan looked like he was about to protest, but Ezra beat him.
“Sounds great! Thank you so much, Miss…?”
Hera chuckled. She’d just met this kid, and he was already growing on her. Of course he turned Kanan into a dad.
“You can just call me Hera.”
They were all sitting around the table of the common room, Ezra chatting animatedly to Sabine. Zeb, was eyeing Kanan suspiciously- he hadn’t stopped since he introduced himself. Kanan winced every time he put a little weight on his leg- Chopper had caught the group on the way from the cargo bay, and decided to run quickly into Kanan’s leg, definitely leaving a large bruise.
Hera, meanwhile, was sitting quietly next to Kanan (at a much more... respectable distance than they used to), listen to Ezra’s stories. She had so much to say to him, but there was no way she could say it with everyone else in the room.
She looked at Kanan, who just stared at the floor, and she pursed her lips. She needed to get him alone.
Hera cleared her throat, and smiled at Ezra.
“Sabine, why don’t you and Zeb show Ezra around the ship? You can show him your art.”
Sabine grinned quickly. She was always excited to talk about her art to anyone that would listen.
“Okay, sure. Come on.”
She and Ezra both stood up, but Zeb didn’t move, he just looked at Ezra. She gave him a small nod, and he returned it before following Sabine and Ezra down the hall.
Hera sighed, and turned to Kanan, who was still evidently finding the floor very interesting.
“We, um… we should talk, don’t you think?”
Kanan looked up, and bobbed his head in agreement. “Probably, yeah.”
There was a moment where they just stared at each other. Hera thought it would be easier to talk to him alone, but if anything, it was more awkward. The tension was unbearable.
“So, uh,” Kanan started. “You… you look great.”
Hera just raised an eyebrow at him, but he was already cringing.
“Right, right,” he said. “That’s- yeah, sorry. Um… so how did Zeb and Sabine know about me?”
“I told them.”
Kanan nodded slowly. “Makes sense.”
Another awkward silence. This shouldn’t be so hard.
Hera fidgeted slightly, thinking about the future. Does he want to move back in? Does she want him to move back in? What about Ezra?
She pushed that out of her mind, and let out a sigh. Just make small talk, she thought. You can talk about that stuff a little later. Don’t make it even more uncomfortable right now.
Hera swallowed hard.
“So how did you meet Ezra?”
Thank you so much for reading! I'd love to know what you're thinking of it so far (only if you feel like commenting of course).
Kanan ran his hands through his hair as he leaned against a wall, looking up and down the streets of Lothal’s pride and joy: Capital City. He’d lost another job and been kicked out of his third apartment since he’d got here- he was convinced this planet had it out for him. He just couldn’t seem to make enough money to stay anywhere.
Normally he’d have left by now- pulled together enough credits to hop aboard the next ship out of here, and tried to re-establish himself somewhere else. But for some reason he didn’t quite understand, he just couldn’t leave here. Something was keeping him grounded here, making him stay. He just couldn’t bring himself to leave, which certainly didn’t make sense. He’d left plenty of planets better than this. And yet, here he was.
He wanted to say it was the Force. It was the only explanation he had, though he had no idea why the Force would want him to stay on this random planet. He and the Force hadn’t been too close as of late, not since… well, when he saved Hera.
Before he could let his thoughts dwell on her some more (as they often did), something caught his attention. A boy being harassed by some stormtroopers, over what just looked to be some fruit. He probably just needed to eat.
Kanan couldn’t even stop himself, and by the time he realized it he was already heading in that direction. Whether it was just the old Jedi dogma kicking in or some sort of call from the Force itself he didn’t know- didn’t care. This kid needed his help.
Kanan was mesmerized by her face. Somehow, it was even more beautiful than he remembered, which he never thought was possible. Her voice soothed him, it felt like a hug after returning home. Being so close to her made the guilt he’d been feeling all these years be magnified a hundred times, it was almost strangling him.
But this conversation though, that was hard. It used to be so easy to talk to her, sometimes easier than talking to himself. He’d practiced meeting her in his head a million times before- apologies, comforting words, and jokes he knew would make her laugh. But now that he was looking at her, he couldn’t remember a single thing he wanted to say.
He cleared his throat. She asked him a question, didn’t she? She looked expectant- she definitely asked him a question.
Just be calm , he chided himself.
“What- uh, what? What?”
Three times is not calm.
Hera didn’t seem to mind, though.
“How did you meet Ezra?”
“Oh he… got into trouble with some stormtroopers, and I helped him out.”
Hera smiled, the same amused smile she used to get when he told a joke or argued with Chopper over something inane. He’d missed it so much.
“Meeting people in fights seems to be common for you.”
Kanan chuckled, tension easing ever so slightly from his shoulders. “I guess so.”
And with that, the silence was back. It was unbearable.
He needs to apologize to her. She doesn’t have to take him back (though he wouldn’t be against the idea), but he at least wants her to know how he feels. He studies her face, and sees the same hurt he saw when he left.
She has to know how he feels.
Kanan takes a deep breath to build himself up, and evidently it catches her attention, because she looks at him with a raised eyebrow.
“Are you okay?”
Kanan nods. “Yes, I… Hera, I just-”
A blaster goes off, and Kanan freezes. Both he and Hera look at each other in alarm before quickly getting up and racing to Sabine’s room. They reach the door, and Kanan is immediately taken aback by the paintings all over Sabine’s room. He couldn’t believe Hera let her paint the walls, but more importantly he couldn’t believe that the paintings looked very similar to the graffiti he’d seen in back alleys of Lothal. Was Sabine behind the mysterious rebel art he and Ezra always admired when they walked through Capital City?
He didn’t think about that too long, though- Ezra was holding a blaster (a WESTAR-35, painted yellow, he noticed), and Sabine and Zeb were both behind him.
Hera opened her mouth to say something, but Sabine cut her off.
“Hera, it’s fine.”
“You’re firing blasters in my ship!”
“Just practice bolts, he didn’t hurt anything. I was just showing it to him, and he asked to hold it. It went off by accident, I swear!”
“It won’t happen again.”
Ezra looked guiltily at Kanan, and then to her.
“I’m sorry, he said. “It was my fault.”
Hera’s expression softened slightly.
“It’s alright, Ezra. I just don’t want you shooting anything in my ship. If you want to learn how to shoot, then you can go outside when we land.”
Ezra nodded, and Kanan gave him a pointed look before turning to Hera. “When are we landing?”
“Soon, it’s on autopilot until we get to where we usually land.”
He nodded, and both he and Hera stepped back, walking to the common room of the Ghost . He wanted to say something, but the courage he’d built up to try for a heartfelt apology had been jolted.
He cleared his throat. “I’m sorry about Ezra.”
Hera shook her head. “Don’t worry about. I’m sorry about Sabine being a bad influence.”
Kanan laughed. “She’s alright. Seems like a good kid.”
He saw a proud smile grow on her face, and got the sense that Hera and Sabine weren’t much different from him and Ezra.
“So,” Hera started. “Where do you and Ezra live? We can drop you off whenever the Empire stops their search.”
“An old tower outside of the city.”
Hera raised an eyebrow, but nodded. “Okay… I’ll take you in the Phantom. You’ll have to give me directions.”
“Won’t be a problem.”
Kanan ran a hand over the back of his neck, looking at Hera awkwardly. He sucked in a breath. “Thanks. Um… what I was saying earlier-”
“Hera?” Zeb’s low voice sounded from the hallway, and Kanan cursed under his breath. He and Hera seemed to have a habit of getting interrupted.
Hera looked sympathetically at Kanan before looking back to Zeb. “Yes?”
“Ezra asked if he and… Kanan,” Kanan felt a pointed glare in his direction, “could stay for dinner before we take them home.”
Hera looked to Kanan. “I don’t have a problem with that.”
Kanan nodded in agreement. Half of him was saying that it was probably stupid and that he was digging himself into a hole, but the other half just wanted to be near Hera again, and that was the half that won.
Zeb folded his arms. “Really?”
“Hmph,” Zeb turned around and left, presumably to tell Ezra that he could stay. Hera laughed quietly to herself, and Kanan smiled meekly.
“I don’t think he likes me very much.”
Hera shook her head. “Don’t worry about him. He’s just… protective.”
Kanan felt his heart sink a little, but he didn’t let her see that, and instead just raised an eyebrow at her. “Oh?”
“Not like that. He’s-” Hera looked at him with a sad smile on her face. “He’s like my best friend.”
Kanan nodded slowly, and a silence hung between the two of them. Again.
I can apologize now, he thought to himself. Just do it.
“Kanan?” Hera said, interrupting his thoughts.
They locked eyes, and he saw Hera’s anticipation grow for a brief moment, before she sighed and turned away.
I told myself I'd update every week, so I am sorry that this one was a few days late! Thank you so much for reading anyway, and I'll try to be more on time next time. I'm thinking Sunday updates but I'm not sure. October is a busy month for me.
Thank you so much again for reading, I hope you liked it!
Chapter 4: Dinnertime
Long time no update! Sorry about that. I actually wrote/re-wrote a couple versions of this chapter, but I think this is the one I hate the least so... here it is!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“I heard you need some muscle for a job?”
Hera looked up from her drink to see a Lasat towering over her. His lack of sleeves showed off his large arms- he certainly had any brawn she could need. Hera straightened herself up, making sure she seemed as big as possible, though it was probably pointless considering the size of the alien in front of her.
“Yes,” she said coolly. “I’m assuming you’re interested?”
The Lasat nodded, and Hera felt herself smirking. She and Kanan used to frequent old bars to look for help, but hadn’t ever had much luck, and they never knew where else to go.
Maybe this was the galaxy’s way of paying her back after Kanan left her.
“How much you paying?” the Lasat asked.
“You get a cut of whatever we make once we sell the cargo we steal. I’ll say half, unless more people sign on.”
The Lasat nodded again, though with a gleam in his eye this time.
“Alright, what’s the job?”
“How do you feel about stealing from the Empire?”
His face split into a grin, and Hera swore there was a vengeful anger there too. “Won’t be a problem.”
“That’s good to hear. There’s a shipment of ores coming by, and they’re scheduled to stop near here for fuel. We steal the cargo, and sell it to a buyer a few systems away.”
Hera left out the part where she was going to use the credits she made to buy crates upon crates of food to deliver to a poor settlement of people displaced after the Empire took her farms. She figured he wouldn’t care.
The Lasat nodded, as if thinking, though she could tell his mind was already made up. “I’m in, uh…”
She smiled wide. “Hera Syndulla.”
“It’s nice to meet you,” she said. “This way, I’ll show you my ship.”
As Hera guided him to where she’d landed the Ghost, she never could have guessed that this new friend would reveal his soft side when she eventually told him what she planned to do with the credits they’d made.
I missed you.
Hera cursed herself silently. It shouldn’t have been so hard to say. Why was it? Kanan used to be someone who she felt like she could tell anything to, no matter what it was. Now words just seemed to be abandoning her before she could get them out.
“So,” Kanan said, interrupting her thoughts. “Chopper’s still running?” He gently rubbed the leg Chopper had run into earlier.
“I know how to take care of my droid,” Hera snapped, though she instantly regretted her tone.
Kanan winced slightly and shook his head. “Of course, I just… he was already old when I was here.”
“Well-loved,” Hera corrected, though not without a slightly playful smile.
Kanan smiled back at her. “Right, right. You get him repainted?”
Hera chuckled. “That’s all Sabine. She’s… a bit of an artist.”
That was definitely an understatement.
Kanan nodded, running his fingers over the goatee on his chin. Hera remembered how it used to tickle her when she kissed him.
“I noticed,” he said.
She was enjoying herself more than she would’ve expected. She was upset with him for sure, the wound of his departure being reopened, but talking and laughing with him again, even if it was sort of awkward, was nice.
Maybe it would be easier if I just told him everything. We could talk about how we feel. Just like we used to, she thought.
Just tell him. Like ripping off a bacta patch.
“I’ll ask Zeb if he wants to start making dinner.”
Kanan nodded. “I can help him, if he wants.”
She did miss Kanan’s cooking, but judging by the day so far she couldn’t imagine Zeb would be eager to let Kanan in his way.
“I think you’ll have to convince him, but alright.”
Zeb wound up letting Kanan help cook, but not without lots of grumbling. Hera read the news on her datapad, occasionally looking up to see Zeb giving Kanan a dirty look. He was usually much more amiable while he was cooking, but this time he only smiled once, and it was when Kanan accidentally burned his finger on the stove.
“Careful, it’s hot,” Zeb said.
Kanan just muttered something under his breath, and Hera shook her head, returning to her datpad.
“Ointment and bandages are in the refresher, below the sink.”
“Thanks,” Kanan said, but he was already on his way there. Of course he knew, it was far from the first time he’d burned himself on board. Hera couldn’t keep herself from watching him walk away, and as soon as he was down the hall enough, Zeb set down the spoon he was using.
“When is he leaving?”
She rolled her eyes. “After dinner, I’ll take them home in the Phantom . It’s… it’s not a long-term thing.”
“You’re taking them home alone?”
“He left me, Zeb. He’s not a murderer.”
Zeb just shrugged and returned to his cooking.
“You never know...”
“Food’s almost ready,” Zeb interrupted casually.
Hera scowled at him for a moment, but then she just sighed. “I’ll go tell Ezra and Sabine.”
Overall, dinner went well, if awkward. Sabine ate in her room as she usually did, much to Ezra’s disappointment, and Zeb wedged himself between Kanan and Hera, which Hera had to admit made her disappointed too, so she mostly just talked to Ezra. She learned he was a Lothal native, and had never even been off-world.
She wondered if Kanan ever planned to take him somewhere.
Chopper came to clear the plates when they were done, which Hera thought was an unusual act of kindness until he collected them all, and then sat them in front of Kanan. Hera shook her head, but Zeb and Sabine laughed.
“Chopper,” Hera started.
Kanan smiled at her, though his eyes were guilty. “It’s alright, I can take care of them.”
He took the plates to the sink, but Hera followed him.
“Kanan, no, you’re a guest.”
Her hands brushed his when she took the dishes from him, and set them in the sink.
“We’ll take care of them later, I should take you and Ezra home.”
Kanan nodded, and motioned for Ezra to follow him to the Phantom . Hera smiled. All these years later, and he still knew his way around her ship. She started to walk to the Phantom too, but felt a large hand on her shoulder. Hera turned around to see Zeb frowning, concerned.
“I can go with you,” he said.
“I’ll be fine, Zeb.”
He still looked unconvinced, so Hera moved her hand up, placing it on his that still rested on her shoulder.
“I’ll help you clean the kitchen when I get home. I’ll be quick,”
Zeb nodded, turning to go to the sink, and Hera went to the Phantom . Kanan was helping Ezra put his seatbelt on, and it just clicked as Hera walked in. She smiled at them both, and sat in the pilot’s seat, turning around to see Kanan sitting next to Ezra. He gave her a light nod, and she nodded back.
“You’ll give me directions on how to get there?” Hera asked.
“Yeah just… go towards the city, and when we get close enough I can tell you from there.”
Hera swiveled around, taking the controls in her hands, letting out a small sigh. If she was being honest with herself, she didn’t really want to take them home.
But Kanan had been clear, hadn’t he? Fighting the Empire wasn’t what he wanted, he wanted to live life differently. Apparently, as a father, though she had to doubt that those were his plans when he had first left her.
Hera fired up the ship, and pulled it out of it’s docking in the Ghost , turning around to fly towards the city. It wasn’t far, just a couple of clicks.
A reflection in the glass let her see Ezra telling a barely-audible joke to Kanan, and then Kanan chuckling quietly and ruffling Ezra’s hair. Maybe Kanan had found his place. Hera’s mind wandered to Chopper, Zeb, and Sabine. Maybe she’d found hers too.
Painful as it was, maybe being separate was better for them both, in the end.
Thank you so much for reading! Sorry again for the long wait. I think I'm going to pick up the pace soon for this story, I'm getting more and more ideas for later scenes. Anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts so far!
Chapter 5: Apology
Kanan looked at Ezra’s helmet collection in the tower. It was late at night, but he could still see the white stormtrooper helmets gleaming from the moon.
The kid resting under his arm shifted slightly in his sleep, and Kanan pulled him close. Ezra had another nightmare- unsurprising, considering everything he’d been through so young- and Kanan helped him fall back asleep.
Now if only Kanan could get back to sleep himself.
Ezra started snoring softly, and Kanan couldn’t help but smile to himself. Ezra hadn’t been very trusting when they first met, but they’d grown closer and closer as they lived together. Kanan felt a connection to Ezra, one he couldn’t quite understand, yet didn’t want to question. Kanan could almost even consider himself a father at this point.
Father. A word that Kanan both loved and feared. He never would’ve pictured himself as one years ago, but Ezra grew on him a lot, and Kanan couldn’t help but be happy at the idea of being a guardian, a protector to him. A mentor. Especially since Ezra had no one else left.
But it came with worry, and self-doubt. Kanan still hadn’t found stable work on Lothal, which was already difficult when he was alone, and now that he had a kid to take care of it was so much worse.
Kanan mostly helped out with whatever odd jobs he could find. Mostly just moving boxes, loading up ships, delivering packages from vendors that needed him to. Old Jho gave him a fair amount of delivery work, and Kanan had been slowly prodding him about letting him help tend the bar.
There was always the Empire offering work too. They paid much better than the vendors, naturally, but Kanan could never do it. He was always far from a lover of the Empire for his own reasons, but even at his most desperate he never wanted to take jobs from them.
Even if she’d never know, it felt like he’d be letting her down.
Hera landed the Phantom at the base of the tower, opening up the ramp. Ezra bounced out happily, probably excited to be back on the grasses of Lothal. Ezra had never been in a ship that long before. Kanan remained seated to watch Hera swivel her seat around to face him. He smiled at her, before looking down.
“Thank you. For saving us, dinner… everything.”
“You’re welcome, Kanan.”
He looked up to see a warm, kind smile on her face, and he almost wanted to melt right then and there. She was so beautiful, and he didn’t deserve to have her look at him like that. Not anymore.
Ezra popped back into the ship. “Hera? Want to come up and see the tower?”
Hera raised an eyebrow, still smiling and still looking at Kanan. “I don’t know, is that okay with your dad?”
Kanan nodded, chuckling quietly. “Depends, are you busy?”
“I can stay for a quick tour.”
She stood up, and Kanan did the same. Ezra grinned, and motioned for both Kanan and Hera to follow him up the tower.
Ezra opened the door to the room where Kanan and Ezra lived, at the very top of the tower, and Kanan winced. Ezra’s helmets were everywhere. Their sleeping bags and pillows were haphazardly shoved in a corner to make more room on the floor. Nuts and bolts and other scraps were all over the floor from when Kanan had helped Ezra repair his slingshot. Kanan’s bag was sitting on a chair, and there was a pile of jogan rinds next to one of Ezra’s stormtrooper helmets. He knew it wasn’t the cleanest it could be, but he hadn’t realized quite how bad it was. He looked at Hera, trying to gage her reaction based on his face. He couldn’t imagine the kind of impression they were making.
Hera looked around the room, and kept her amused smile on her face.
“You’ve… got a lot of helmets.”
Ezra nodded earnestly. “I’ve been collecting them for a while now.”
“I’m sure Sabine would love to paint one of those for you.”
He grinned wide. “You think so?”
Hera nodded. “Definitely.”
There was a pause, and Kanan cleared his throat.
“Well, it’s getting late, and you should get ready for bed, Ezra. I’ll walk Hera back down to her ship.”
Ezra looked slightly disappointed, but nodded. “Alright. Bye, Hera!”
Hera laughed and waved goodbye, and she and Kanan both stepped outside, letting the door shut behind them so Ezra could change. Hera looked over, across the Lothal horizon. The sun was setting, and her mouth parted slightly as she walked over to the railing, and leaned against it to take in the colors of a Lothali sunset. Kanan slowly followed her, standing next to her.
“You guys have quite a view up here,” she said.
Kanan nodded, and let out a deep sigh. He’d been tense ever since he saw Hera earlier that day, but being up here relaxed him.
It just sort of came out. He didn’t even fully realize he actually said it until he turned to see her looking at him.
“I’m sorry. For leaving you.”
He watched her gaze lower, and then she nodded. Kanan swallowed hard. He felt like he’d practiced the apology a million times in his head, yet now he couldn’t even find the words he wanted to say. He wasn’t even sure there were words to express how sorry he was, how much he regretted leaving, how much he loved her.
“I never should have left. It… it was probably the stupidest thing I’d ever done, and I hurt you, but you’re still being so nice to me, and- and I’m so sorry.”
He cursed himself silently. He could do better than that. Hera deserved better than that. She deserved more. But before he could even open his mouth to continue, Kanan swore he saw her eyes growing wet before she closed them, and then she sighed.
“That means a lot,” she said, before pausing. She opened her eyes to look at him. “More than you know. Thank you.”
Kanan nodded. “I just wanted you to know before you left. I should’ve told you earlier.”
Hera nodded back at him, smiling sadly. “It’s okay, Kanan,” she said. She looked towards the sunset once more. “I should… probably get going, actually. I bet Zeb is worrying.”
“You’re probably right. He offered her a soft smile, and she stepped back towards the elevator down, before stopping and turning around, her lekku swinging as she did.
“It was nice seeing you again,” she said. “I… well, things were a lot different without you around.”
“Good to know.”
Another silence. Kanan was growing tired of them.
“I guess… this is goodbye, then.”
Their eyes met, and they both heard the “again” that neither of them dared to actually speak out loud.
Hera nodded. “I guess so. See you in a few years, right?”
Kanan chuckled quietly at her attempt to lighten the mood. “Yeah. Right.”
Hera smiled, but Kanan knew she felt the same mix of emotions that he was. He always had been able to read her so well.
“Bye, Kanan. Good luck with Ezra.”
“Good luck with taking down the Empire.
Hera snorted quietly. “Thanks.”
She pressed the button, and the elevator doors opened. She stepped inside, and Kanan got one last look at her as the doors closed. As if on cue, Ezra stepped out, now in his sleep-clothes.
“Did Hera go yet?”
“She’s just going now.”
Ezra nodded, chewing on his lip. “So you and Hera…”
Kanan raised an eyebrow, and tilted his head. “Yes?”
“Were you guys together? Like… together together?”
Kanan sucked in a short breath. He probably should have seen that coming. Ezra seemed to ask Kanan just as many questions as Caleb Dume did to the Jedi at the Temple.
Kanan just nodded to answer him. “A long time ago.”
Ezra frowned, and looked at Kanan, almost confused. “Why?”
Kanan couldn’t blame him for that question. Hera was amazing, and he asked himself the same thing often enough. He shook his head, sighing lightly. “I don’t know.”
That’s a lie, he thought to himself.
You know exactly why.
Chapter 6: Planning Ahead
Long time no update! I'm kinda trying to get into a schedule of an unrelated one-shot one week, and then an update for this story the next week. Just to keep the creative juices flowing, you feel?
Sorry about the wait, and thanks for your patience.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Hera’s nose was overwhelmed by the fumes of spray paint as soon as she opened the door. She looked to see Sabine crouched down, painting a picture on the wall, but before Hera could get a good view of what it was, turned around and covered it with her body.
Hera raised an eyebrow. “What’s that?”
That was an answer Hera had grown to expect from her. Sabine wasn’t necessarily shy with her and Zeb, but she didn’t exactly talk too much either. Which was expected, considering she was so young yet had been through so much.
That said, it was weird that Sabine didn’t want to talk about her art. That usually got her going for ages.
Sabine nodded, and Hera shook her head. No point in pressing the issue.
“Alright,” she said. “If you say so.”
Hera started to leave, and she swore she heard Sabine let out a sigh. After a moment, she felt Sabine tugging on her arm.
“Actually,” Sabine said, somewhat nervously. “It is something.”
Hera smiled and followed Sabine back to the painting, and found her heart warming up when she saw it. It was a small, cartoonish picture of her, Sabine, Chopper and Zeb. Zeb behind them, with a hand resting on each of their shoulders, with Chopper in front, arms extended as if waving to the viewer. They all smiled wide (well, not Chopper), and Hera felt herself start to match the small image of herself on the wall as she took it all in.
It was a family portrait if she ever saw one.
Hera docked the Phantom into its spot on the Ghost . Kanan’s apology was still sticking with her. It was exactly what she had been needing to hear for years. It was short, but meaningful.
She stepped out of the Phantom , so lost in her thoughts that she walked straight into Zeb. Hera stumbled back a step, and heard a low chuckle from him.
“Sorry, Hera. You okay?”
She nodded. “Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. Probably just going to head to bed now.”
Zeb raised an eyebrow at her. “Pretty early for you.”
She shrugged as she walked past him, towards her room. “Long day.”
The door to her bunk slid open, and Hera heard an unconvinced sigh from Zeb right before she stepped inside, letting it close back behind her. Her room was mostly tidy, a little cluttered in one of the corners, but overall pretty neat. She really didn’t spend enough time in here to make a mess. She sat down on her bed, and then reached underneath, to one of her drawers. She opened it, and picked up a small holoprojector. It hadn’t been touched in years. She swallowed hard, and clicked it on. A soft, blue glow filled her room as the image loaded.
The image was a picture Chopper had taken of her and Kanan the first time they’d made dinner together. They didn’t even know Chopper had taken it until he showed them after they ate. Hera had accidentally bumped the switch on the blender after she’d already taken the lid off. She made a huge mess of the kitchen and was covered in the sauce Kanan had made. She was embarrassed at first, and thought Kanan would be mad, but he just started laughing hysterically, and after a brief moment of shock Hera couldn’t help but join him.
That must have been when Chopper took the picture, both mid-laugh and happy to be together, to share that moment.
Hera stared at the picture for a moment longer. It was when she started to feel herself tearing up that she immediately shut the holoprojector off. Her room went dark, and she returned it to its place in the drawer under the bed, and laid down on her bed with a sigh.
She never forgot that she missed him, but today was an especially harsh reminder.
Hera was underneath the console in the cockpit, tools in her hand. But she wasn’t fixing anything.
Admittedly, she’d been a little distracted the past couple days. As much as she hated it, she just couldn’t get Kanan out of her head. She’d missed him so much, and seeing how he’d changed and getting an apology from him had her feelings all rushing back to her.
“Hera?” Zeb’s voice startled her, and she banged her head on the bottom of the console above her.
“Sorry. Can you take a break from that, or…?”
Hera pulled herself out from underneath the cockpit, rubbing her forehead tenderly. “Yeah, I can. What’s up?”
“Just thought we should go over the plan for the next mission.”
Hera nodded. Their next mission was seemingly simple- stealing crates of rations for Tarkintown. They crates were locked away ing for a warehouse in the city, and Chopper was in charge of slicing the controls to get the door open. Sabine and Zeb were drawing as many stormtroopers as possible away from the warehouse, and Hera was the getaway (as usual).
“What do you want to go over?”
“Someone has to go with Chopper and watch his back,” Zeb said as he rubbed a hand over the back of his neck. “But I can’t let Sabine go alone.”
“And I need to fly,” Hera said. Zeb sighed, thinking, and Hera chewed on her lip as she thought too. She had an idea, she just had to word it so Zeb would agree.
“Well,” Hera said. “I could always go find someone to help.”
“You wanna hire some thug to help us?”
Not necessarily a thug.
She smiled at him sweetly. “That’s how I met you, isn’t it?”
Zeb grimaced. “Maybe. But how can we trust them? They could report us.”
He definitely won’t report us.
“I’ve got good taste,” Hera said, smirking. She stood up, patting Zeb’s shoulder as she headed out towards the Phantom . While she was passing Sabine’s room, the door opened, startling Hera slightly. Sabine raised an eyebrow at her.
“You’re going to find someone to help with the mission?”
“We just need one more.”
Sabine folded her arms. “Who?”
Hera shrugged. “I don’t know, whoever I find.”
Sabine shut the door to her room again, and Hera sighed. So Sabine was on to her, but not stopping her. So that was something. Hera opened the back of the Phantom , and plopped herself down onto the seat, taking the controls. She pulled out of the dock of the Ghost , forming a plan in her head as she went.
She could just show up to the tower. But would that be too direct? She didn’t want to seem desperate.
Hera chided herself silently. She sounded like a little girl, trying to ask her crush on a date. This was a mission against the Empire, to help people.
She tried to think of more places that she might find him. He always had a sweet tooth, so maybe he’d go to a place like… Old Jho’s?
Even if he didn’t go to Old Jho’s, Jho knew everybody. If anyone would be able to help her find Kanan, it was him. She turned the ship to head towards the outpost, which was a short trip from the Ghost ’s usual landing spot. She tried to park her ship far enough from the restaurant. She let out a deep breath of anticipation before leaving the Phantom . It had only been a few days since she saw him, which was of course nothing compared to the years they’d been apart before, yet somehow it felt just as long.
She opened the door to the Phantom , and left, locking it up behind her as she walked into Old Jho’s, through the door under the front of an old Republic gunship.
She remembered those flying over Ryloth when she was a little girl. Did Kanan ever ride in one?
She’d never asked him while they were together, but maybe she could now.
Now that what? Hera heard a tiny voice- her own, actually- snap. Now that he’s going to help you with this mission? Or are you just doing this because you want more?
Hera honestly couldn’t argue back. Maybe she did want more. Which was ridiculous, of course, he’d been pretty clear when he left.
Unless he changed his mind. He’s not the same exact man, she heard a voice say again. This one was a little softer than the first.
Hera shook all of those thoughts from her head. She could focus on the mission now, and any… possibilities, could be thought about later. She reached the counter, and rapped on it twice to get Jho’s attention. He turned to her.
“Hera! It’s been-”
“Just a couple of weeks, Jho.”
“Right, right. Nysillin tea?”
Hera shook her head. “Thank you, but I’m not actually that thirsty. I need to find someone, and I think you might know him.”
Jho tilted his head slightly. “Yeah?”
Hera nodded. “You ever met a Kanan Jarrus?”
“Hmm,” Jho said, before pausing. “I know who you mean.”
“Really?” Hera felt a swell of excitement in her chest, but she wasn’t really sure why.
“Yeah, he comes in here for work sometimes. I could get someone to find him.”
Jho nodded towards her to acknowledge. “You can just wait here for him.”
“Great. I’ll take that Nysillin tea now, too.”
Jho went below the counter, and within a few moments passed her a glass. She smiled and slid a few credits across the counter before finding a booth in the back corner of the cantina. She sat in the back, by herself, sipping the tea and trying to figure out what the hell she was going to say to Kanan when he got there.
I hope you enjoyed the chapter! Thank you so much for reading!
Chapter 7: Lunch Date(?)
“Jho, I’ve tended bars before. You can trust me.”
The old Ithorian waved a hand dismissively.
“No one tends my bar but me.”
Kanan huffed. Lothal had given him trouble finding work since the very beginning. The only stable source of income seemed to be setting up a shop, and he just didn’t have the resources for that. Well, either that or working for the Empire in the shipyards. Or worse, enlisting as a stormtrooper.
Kanan still wasn’t quite desperate enough to seriously entertain the idea. He was pretty sure he’d rather die than wear the armor. But still, he needed work. He’d been able to survive alone for long enough, but now that he had a kid to take care of it was even more essential that Kanan found a job.
Kanan sighed, smacking a fist on the counter in desperation. “Please, you’ve gotta give me something to do. I need the money.”
Jho stared at him for a moment, blinking slowly. Kanan tried to read him, but considering how different Ithorian faces were from more humanoid ones, it was difficult.
“Bah!” Jho said. “Fine.”
Kanan lit up. “I can tend the bar?”
“No,” he said firmly, and Kanan deflated slightly, but perked up when Jho pulled a package from behind the counter. “Someone came through and asked to have this delivered to someone in the city.” Jho tapped where the address was written on the package with a long finger, and then tossed it to Kanan. It was a lot heavier than he expected, and he caught it with a soft ‘oof.’ Kanan looked over it. He didn’t exactly love the idea of being some sort of delivery boy, but if that was what it took to feed Ezra, then it was better than his alternatives.
Kanan sat cross-legged on the balcony of the tower he and Ezra lived in. His eyes were closed and he took a deep breath.
Meditation was what he clung onto the most from his days a Jedi. Sure, he still had his lightsaber and holocron, but they were kept hidden. Ezra didn’t even know about them. He’d almost found them more than a few times, it seemed he had a knack for accidentally stumbling across the pieces of lightsaber no matter where Kanan put them. But that was it, just pieces, Ezra hadn’t seen the holocron and never pieced together (both literally and figuratively) what his lightsaber was.
It was probably safer for both of them that way.
Kanan took another deep breath, fidgeting slightly, trying to concentrate on the Force flowing all around him. He could feel something- like it was tugging inside of him. It didn’t feel quite like the Force, and Kanan could feel himself grow tense. Was this a sense of something good to come? Something bad?
His stomach growled loudly.
Kanan shook his head, annoyed with himself. Of course he was just hungry, he’d barely eaten since he and Ezra had eaten dinner with Hera and her crew. He’d given most of the food they had left to Ezra (but he was making sure Ezra thought they were splitting it evenly), and they were running low on credits.
He needed to go look for a damn job.
Kanan stood up, steadying himself on the railing when he felt his head rush a little bit. He had to eat something. He walked around, to the door of the room in the tower. Ezra was still sleeping soundly, and Kanan couldn’t help but smile as he opened the cooler they used to keep food to grab a bite before he left. Sitting inside the cooler was a single piece of bread. Kanan closed his eyes, sighing. Of course there was just one piece left.
He heard a snort, and turned to see Ezra stirring in his sleep. Kanan’s stomach growled loudly, and Kanan found himself shushing it before he realized that he was just talking to his own body. He picked up the piece of bread.
Ezra’s gonna need breakfast , he thought to himself immediately.
Kanan groaned, cursing himself as he put the bread back into the cooler and closed it up. He crouched down next to Ezra, smiling warmly down at him. He shook him awake gently. Ezra blinked groggily a few times before sitting up. His hair was a mess on top of his head, and Kanan chuckled.
“Morning,” Ezra yawned. He rubbed his eyes, and tilted his head slightly. “What’s up?”
“I gotta go to the city. I’m assuming I can trust you to be good?” Kanan said, an eyebrow raised. Ezra nodded, and Kanan ruffled his already messy hair.
“That’s what I like to hear. There’s some bread in there for you to eat for breakfast, I’ll be back as soon as I can with some groceries.”
Kanan stood up straight, and saw Ezra fall back down, eyes closing. Kanan chuckled as he left Ezra to fall asleep, and took the elevator down the tower.
Kanan thumbed the few credit chips he had left in his pocket. His job search had turned up nothing so far, and the least he could do was try and bring something home for Ezra. He wouldn’t be able to afford much with what he had left. Part of him wanted to get jogans since Ezra loved them so much, but he knew he needed to get something more filling for the both of them. Kanan stopped in front of a charbote root stand, considering, when he got run into. Kanan stumbled, almost falling, before turning around to see a large human standing, unfazed. Kanan folded his arms.
“Old Jho is looking for you.”
Kanan stopped and frowned. “Jho is looking for me?”
The man nodded. “Said there’s someone there looking for you.”
Kanan tensed up. “Who’s looking for me?”
He shrugged. “Don’t know. Something about a job.”
Kanan perked up. Maybe his luck was finally turning around. “Alright,” he said. “You offering a ride to Jho’s, then?”
The man just grunted, and nodded towards as speeder parked against a wall. Kanan would soon find himself on the back of that speeder, the man driving it way faster than it was probably supposed to go, and Kanan found himself at Jho’s. He walked inside, underneath the old Republic gunship over the door- something that brought back memories every time he’d gone to Jho’s- and walked in. The smell of food made his stomach growl, but Kanan ignored it, giving Jho a quick wave and a winning smile.
“Hey, long time no see!”
Jho let out a sound that Kanan could only assume was a snort of laughter before looking down, cleaning a glass, and Kanan sighed. “Uh, Jho?” Kanan said. “You were looking for me?”
Jho shook his head and pointed a long finger to a booth in the back corner of the bar.
Kanan raised an eyebrow, and turned around to the booth, only to see Hera Syndulla, of all people, sipping a tea. Kanan’s eyes widened and he turned to Jho.
“She was looking for me? Are you sure?”
Jho nodded, and Kanan turned back around towards Hera. He stared at her incredulously. What did Hera want with him? Was this really a job?
Hera looked up from her tea, and smiled at Kanan, waving him towards her. Kanan smiled awkwardly, and walked over to her booth, sliding across from her. She drummed her fingers against the table, still smiling at him.
“Can I… get you anything? It’s on me, I’m the one that called you out here.”
“No, I-” Kanan’s stomach growled, and he watched Hera raise an eyebrow. “I’m good,” he finished.”
Hera nodded slowly. “Right. Well, how about I get you a minced Loth-rat pie as… compensation, for having you come out here.”
“You don’t have to do that.”
“Maybe I want to,” Hera said, her smile warming him. Kanan swallowed, and she got up to order. He let out a sigh, staring at her empty glass.
Is this a date? A small, hopeful voice inside of him asked. She insisted on paying for me. She had us meet here instead of just coming to the tower. She’s here alone.
They said she was here for a job.
Kanan cleared his throat and straightened up in his seat, trying to quiet that hopeful voice. Hera came back, setting the pie in front of him and sitting back down. Kanan’s mouth watered when the scent hit him, and his stomach growled yet again, even louder than the first time. He swallowed hard and looked up to Hera.
“You didn’t have to do that.”
She shook her head. “I know,” she looked at him, watching him merely stare at the pie. “Don’t bother not eating it out of protest, I already paid.”
Kanan nodded, before picking up a fork and taking a bite from the pie. He chewed and swallowed, savoring the taste. He saw Hera smiling at him, and sighed lightly.
“So, why am I here?”
Hera smoothed her hands across her lap. “I need your help.”
“My help?” Kanan took another bite from the pie.
“My crew and I have a job in two days, and we just need one more person to help us. I’ll pay you well, I promise.”
Kanan ran a thumb over his goatee as he continued to eat, pausing for a moment to ask her a question. “How much are you making?”
Hera bit her lip. “Well,” she said. “We’re not making any money. But I have credits. I can pay you.”
Kanan furrowed his brow, swallowing down another bite of the pie. “You’re not getting paid?”
Hera lowered her voice. “We’re stealing crates of rations and delivering them to Tarkintown, so we can feed the people there.”
Kanan stopped eating, and set his fork down. “You don’t have to pay me.”
He put a hand up. “Just give me some of the rations, and I’ll be alright.”
Hera looked at him, both confused and concerned. “Are you sure? Because I can afford to pay you.”
“I know, I’d just rather have some of those rations.”
Hera shook her head. “Alright, if that’s you want.”
Kanan smiled and took a fork to the pie, but only scraped the plate. He looked down, but all that was left was crumbs. Hera laughed, and Kanan closed his eyes, joining her after a moment. She reached across the table for his plate.
“Here, I’ll get you another.”
Kanan shook his head. “No, I’m fine. Thank you.”
Hera nodded, pulling her arm back. “You sure? I don’t mind, it’s all on me.”
“Actually,” Kanan said, clearing his throat. “If you don’t mind, I told Ezra I’d bring him something home.”
Hera smiled. “No problem. How about a jogan fruit cake?”
Kanan chuckled. “I’m sure he’d love that.”
Hera patted Chopper’s dome affectionately, and he let out a sound that was close to a purr. She smiled at him before looking back at the news broadcast playing. A stiff core-worlds accent was relaying news. Most of it wholly unimportant- senate announcements (as if the Imperial Senate could even do anything, Hera thought to herself), production numbers, recruitment campaigns, and “mining accidents” that Hera had learned by now were almost always just cover-ups for atrocities that the Empire was responsible for.
Chopper bumped her leg affectionately, waving an arm around wildly and warbling something. Hera shook her head.
“I told you, you get oil baths when the ship is running perfectly. And last I checked, you still haven’t done anything for the water pressure in the refresher.”
Chopper let out a groan before turning around and wheeling his way down the hall, grumbling. Hera shook her head.
“It’s still a part of the ship, Chop,” she called after him.
She returned her focus to the newscast, where the announcer was now reading a standard propaganda message about joining the Imperial Navy to see the galaxy. Hera rolled her eyes, and reached to shut the holoprojector off, when the recruitment ad ended and the announcer’s next words caught her attention.
“...a supposed Jedi added to the list of arrests made by the ISB this past week.”
Hera froze, stunned, and swallowed nervously. It couldn’t be him, right? She turned the volume of the broadcast up while the announcer continued.
“The name of this individual has yet to be confirmed, but the prisoner being kept in custody is a human male.”
Hera’s stomach turned.
“This is the image released of the prisoner. Execution date is unknown.”
The blue hologram floated a picture of a pale, round-faced man in front of Hera’s face, and she sighed in relief. The image blinked away to another, and the announcer launched into a (likely staged) story about a stormtrooper saving a child’s pet voorpak.
The announcer’s voice seemed to fade away Hera let her mind drift to the man she swore she didn’t care about.
Hera spared a quick glance back at Kanan while she flew him back to the tower. He was balancing the small box that held Ezra’s fruitcake on his thighs, and staring down at it. The flight was almost completely silent, and Hera was being driven mad because of it.
But then again, it’s not like she could think of anything to say.
Well, she could. But not all of it was things she wanted to say out loud.
Hera pulled the Phantom down to land in front of Kanan and Ezra’s tower. Kanan cleared his throat.
“Probably should’ve asked this sooner, but when do you need me for this job?”
Hera opened the back of the ship and spun around to face him. Things were still a little awkward, but Kanan seemed much more relaxed than when they’d first met, and when he looked at her there was an all-too-familiar softness.
“We aren’t quite sure when exactly. Sabine has been monitoring Imperial communications, so as soon as there’s an opening we can strike.”
Kanan nodded, clicking his tongue quietly. “So I’ll have to be on call 24/7 until the mission is over.”
Hera bit her lip. She hadn’t quite thought about that in her eagerness to work with Kanan again. “Is that going to be too much of a problem?”
“I just don’t want to be late and ruin your mission.”
“Well…” her voice trailed off as she tried to think. “Well, you could… stay with us until it’s time for the mission.”
Kanan blinked in surprise, and Hera had to resist the urge to smile.
“Stay with you? Like on the Ghost ?”
Hera shrugged as casually as she could. “Why not? Your room is still empty. Ezra could stay too, since there’s two bunks.”
Kanan furrowed his brows. “I don’t know,” he said. “We wouldn’t want to get in the way.”
“You won’t get in the way of anything. I wouldn’t have asked you for help on the mission if I thought you would.”
“I don’t think Zeb likes me very much.”
“It’s my ship.”
Kanan raised an eyebrow. “Alright. What would Ezra do during the mission?”
“He can help me on the Ghost ,” Hera said. “Never know when you’ll need an extra set of hands.”
Kanan stared at her for a moment, and then chuckled. “You’re persistent.”
“Is that a yes?”
Kanan nodded, smiling at her, and Hera felt her heart skip a beat.
“I’ll go tell Ezra,” he said. “Be right back.”
He stood up, carrying the box in his hands and stepped out of the ship. Hera spun back around in her chair back towards the console. She caught a hint of her reflection in the viewport, smiling triumphantly.
You’re way too excited about this, she thought to herself.
But she didn’t care.
Her comm went off. “Spectre 4 to Spectre 2,” Zeb said. “Everything alright?”
Hera lifted her comm up. “Everything’s perfect, Zeb.”
“You’ve been out a while.”
Hera shrugged, even though Zeb couldn’t see it. “Good help is hard to find. I’ll be home soon.”
“Who’d you find?”
She heard voices approaching the Phantom .
“Yep, you’ll love him. Spectre 2 out.”
She shut her comm off and stood up from her seat to walk to the back of the ship, and saw Kanan and Ezra walking towards her. Ezra was holding the fruitcake box in his hands, and he grinned wide when he saw her.
Hera waved to him. “Hey, Ezra. Good to see you again.”
He nodded. “Thanks for the fruitcake.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
Ezra took a seat, and Kanan sat down next to him. Hera closed the ramp to the Phantom up. She took off, and cleared her throat. She refused to have another silent flight.
“You guys can sleep in the empty room, there’s room for both of you. Or, if you want, one of you can bunk with Zeb.”
“I think we’ll just take the empty room,” Kanan said, and Hera chuckled at the slight nervousness in his voice. Zeb was protective, sure, but she knew he’d never actually hurt Kanan. But Kanan didn’t know that, and she didn’t doubt that Zeb liked it that way.
It wasn’t long before the Ghost came into view, and that’s when Kanan stood up, moving behind Hera. He rested a hand on the back of her seat, and Hera inhaled sharply when his finger brushed her shoulder.
“Sorry,” he said. “Just wanted to look at the ship a bit.”
Hera nodded. He’d always appreciated the Ghost , it was part of what drew her to him so much when they were first together. “No worries.”
He stayed like that, right by her side, all the way up as she docked the Phantom. She looked up at him, and he looked like he was about to say something when there was a large slurping sound. Hera frowned, and turned around to see Ezra wearing what looked like a third of the fruitcake on his face. He swallowed when he noticed them staring at him. Hera shared a look with Kanan, stifling a laugh and Kanan sighed.
“What?” Ezra said with the same fake-innocence Sabine had when she painted something she wasn’t supposed to.
“You’re making a mess!”
Hera put a hand up to shush Kanan and shook her head. “You’re alright, Ezra. Remember where the refresher is?”
He nodded, and she smiled at him.
“Go get yourself cleaned up, and then get a fork from the kitchen.”
Ezra nodded again, and then walked out the back of the ship, the box of fruitcake still tight in his hands, as if he was worried someone would steal it..
“I am so sorry,” Kanan said.
“Please, Kanan, I live with a Lasat that sheds everywhere and a teenager that paints everything. I don’t care about crumbs.”
“If you say so.”
Hera stood up out of her seat, and found herself very close to Kanan for just a second before he stepped back quickly.
“I’m assuming you remember where your room is?”
He nodded, and Hera smiled warmly. “Good.”
Suddenly, Zeb’s voice roared from the down the hall. “Hera!” he called. “What’s that kid doing here?”
Kanan swallowed, and Hera gave him a reassuring nod.
“He and his dad are helping us.”
Zeb appeared in the doorway, and Kanan stepped back.
“He’s the ‘guy’ you found?”
Hera shook her head, and walked towards Zeb, grabbing his arm and pulling him away from Kanan, into her room. She turned to him the second the door closed. “Zeb, listen-”
“Are you crazy?”
“No! Listen to me, this is going to work out for us. I know he won’t sell us out to the Empire, and we’re not even paying him, he’s just taking a crate of the rations. Plus, Ezra can help me out on the ship.”
“Do you trust him?
“I trust him to help us out on the mission. Zeb, this is our best option.”
Zeb stared at her for a moment more, and then let out a half-sigh, half-groan. “Fine. But what are they doing here now ?”
“They’ll be staying with us until the mission is over, in Kanan’s old room,” Hera said.
Zeb shook his head. “I just don’t like him.”
“I’m not asking you to be his best friend. Just… play nice.”
He huffed. “Fine. I’ll play nice.”
It was more insincere than she would’ve liked, but Hera didn’t bother pushing for more.
“Thank you. I’ll go help them get settled.”
She brushed her hand on his arm before leaving her room, walking towards Kanan with a smile.
“Your room hasn’t been used for years, I’ll help you clean it up a little bit.”
Sorry for the longer wait! Also sorry that this chapter was a little longer than usual.
I hope you all have a happy holiday season!
Chapter 9: Settling In
Kanan ducked behind a crate, just in time for sparks to fly from the wall behind him when the shot struck where his head was just seconds ago. Kanan looked over to Hera, who was up against the crate next to his.
“I’m assuming you have a plan?”
“I always have a plan, love,” she said with a grin.
Kanan smiled back at her. His heart always leapt when she called him that. It was good, but… it scared him. A lot.
A blaster bolt struck the crate Kanan was hid behind, and he was jolted from his thoughts.
Another time, he thought. Hera leaned around the side of her crate, and shot a few times before ducking back. She lifted her comm from her hips.
“Chop! We could use a pick-up!”
Kanan heard some warbling from the comm. He peered over the crates, but before he could shoot at the stormtroopers he ducked back down to avoid their barrage. He was just in time to see Hera roll her eyes as Chopper finished grumbling.
“That’s fine! Just get here as fast as possible.”
She clipped the comm back away, and Kanan fired four shots over the crates before crouching back down. Hera gave him a smile.
“He’ll be here soon.”
Kanan nodded while a stray blaster bolt flew over the crate. “I hope so.”
“Have some faith in him,” Hera said. “He hasn’t let us down yet.”
“Maybe not,” Kanan admitted, chuckling just a little. “But he has been late before.”
Hera smirked. “For you, maybe.”
Kanan woke up to Ezra snoring in the bunk above him. He turned over to look at the chrono, and groaned. The Ghost ’s beds were way more comfortable than the bedrolls he and Ezra had been using, and Kanan had truly forgotten how much he missed them.
He sat up, pushing thoughts about such beds from his head, and quietly left the room. He stopped by the refresher to brush his teeth and was tying his hair back when the door quickly opened.
He heard a soft “ oh ” that made his face warm up. It was Hera’s voice, and Kanan suddenly was very aware he didn’t have a shirt on.
“Sorry!” she said. “Didn’t realize you were in here.”
Kanan finished with his hair and offered her a smile in the least awkward way he could manage.
“No worries, I was just finishing up. At least I wasn’t on the toilet.”
He immediately got a very strong urge to bang his head against the counter.
Hera raised an eyebrow at him. “Right… well, um…”
They both stared at each other for a moment, and then Kanan cleared his throat.
“I’m going to go get dressed, so if you need the fresher, it’s all yours,” Kanan said, before swallowing nervously. “I mean, obviously it’s yours, because it’s your ship, but it’s, uh, it’s free. I mean not ‘free’ like it doesn’t cost money, free like it’s open. It doesn’t cost money either though.”
Kanan resisted the urge to physically cringe with his whole body while Hera stared at him, confused. “Um… thanks.”
He attempted at a smile.“Anytime.”
Kanan and Hera both passed each other through the doorway, and Kanan let out a low groan when the door shut behind him. When he went back to his room and was changing, he found himself very tempted to climb back into his bed and hide for eternity. Maybe it was because he was living in the Ghost again, but he’d been even more nervous- stupid is a better word , he thought- around Hera the past two days.
Once he was changed, Kanan walked down the hall, past Sabine’s open door, and got hit with paint fumes. He looked in to see her bent down with her paint sprayer while she listened to her radio tuned in to the Imperial comms, and Kanan smiled at her. He liked her art a lot- it brightened up the inside of the Ghost considerably, and added some color he never realized it needed. Not to mention that asking her about it had helped Sabine start to warm up to him more. He still wasn’t sure that she exactly liked him, but it was a start. And she was certainly more fond of him than Zeb was.
She kept painting, not even sparing him a glance. “What do you want?”
Kanan put his hands up in defense. “Hey, I was just wondering what you’re working on.”
Sabine paused her painting, and then stepped away from it, standing up straight and gesturing towards it with her boot. Kanan stepped into her room to get a closer look. It was a cartoonish painting of the Ghost , flying through the air with a little Hera standing proudly on top of it, smiling wide. It looked almost finished, with half-painted light blue clouds around Hera and her ship.
“What do you think?”
“I think Hera will love it.”
Sabine got a proud twinkle in her eye, but didn’t seem to show much otherwise. “Thanks, Kanan.”
He gave her an affirmative nod.
“Well, I think I’m going to get something to eat. You hungry?”
“Already ate,” Sabine said, returning to her painting.
Kanan let out a half-sigh before heading towards the kitchen, where Zeb was. Zeb hardly even looked up at him.
“Oh. You’re awake.”
“Took me long enough,” Kanan joked. “You have any food left?”
“Nope,” Zeb said, putting leftovers in the fridge. “Ate it all.”
Zeb shut the fridge door and passed Kanan on his way out, clapping him so hard on the back he stumbled a little bit. Kanan shook his head when he left, and then walked towards the fridge, opening it and pulling out the leftovers Zeb had just put away. Ezra bound into the kitchen just moments after Zeb left, and Kanan chuckled when he immediately sat at the table.
Ezra nodded eagerly. “Sorry I didn’t get up earlier.”
Kanan shrugged, grinning at him. “Eh, not everyone can get up as early as I do.”
Ezra looked down, almost ashamed, but smiled wide when Kanan slid a plate in front of him, and happily started to eat. Kanan poured himself a glass of water, took his plate and sat across from him, though he ate at a much slower pace than Ezra did.
“Kanan?” Ezra asked, though it was muffled.
“Don’t talk with your mouth full.”
He swallowed. “What am I supposed to do during the mission?”
“You stay onboard and help Hera.”
“I don’t think Hera needs my help,” Ezra said pointedly.
Kanan shook his head. “Maybe she doesn’t need it, but you could still be useful. Plus, this is a good opportunity for you to learn about flying.”
Ezra sighed and nodded reluctantly. “I guess.”
He returned to his plate, finishing the last of his food quickly and then taking his plate to the sink to wash it. While he was washing it, Hera walked in, across the kitchen and slid into the seat Ezra was just at, placing a mini-holoprojector on the table.
“Hi Hera,” Kanan responded, and some crumbs fell out of his mouth. Why did he always have to be an idiot when she was around?
“Don’t talk with your mouth full,” said Ezra cheekily, and Kanan had to stop himself from sending a glare at him.
Hera looked between the two of them, smiling, and then focused on Kanan.
“I want to make sure you’re clear on the mission. Sabine said tomorrow afternoon they’re making some security updates, so the schedule will be off and the troopers will mostly be with the maintenance crew on the other end of the sector. That’s when we go for it.”
Kanan nods, setting his fork down. “I just have to cover Chopper, right? Won’t be a problem.”
“You have a blaster?”
Kanan nods, and Hera smiles at him, making his heart skip a beat. She switched on the holoprojector, and a map of the warehouse complex appeared. She pointed to the right side of the hologram.
“This is the East side. We’ll drop Zeb and Sabine there first, and they’ll make the alarms go off, so they can draw as many stormtroopers as possible to that side. And it’ll seem real, they’ve got weapons stored in there right now, plus that’s where the maintenance crew will be. While they’re taking care of the distraction, I’ll drop you and Chopper off here,” she moved her finger to the left side. “I’ll fly away for a bit to keep attention away from you guys while you get the door open, then come back so you can load as many crates as you can. We’ll go pick up Sabine and Zeb, then we’re off to Tarkintown.”
“Seems like a smart plan, assuming everything goes well.”
“Have some faith, everything will go fine.”
“What do I do?” Ezra asked abruptly, and Kanan shook his head.
“You’re staying on the ship,” he says firmly.
Hera smiles at him. “I’ve gotta have a co-pilot, don’t I?”
Kanan feels just a twinge of guilt.
“You want me to help fly?”
“Well, that is usually what a co-pilot does.”
“I… I don’t know how.”
Hera shuts the holoprojector off, but leaves it on the table. “Don’t worry about it, I’ll teach you. Come on.”
Kanan watches her leave with an excited Ezra, heading towards the cockpit, and he can’t help but grin. Sure, he could still be pretty stupid around Hera sometimes, but he really found himself settling back into life on the Ghost , if it was a little different compared to when he’d left it.
“We need to leave!”
Hera grimaced, pulling the ship in a loop, twisting and turning. The TIE Fighters were still close on her tail, firing at the Ghost.
“I can’t shake them!”
There was a beeping and she saw something flashing in the corner of her eye. Kanan leaned over and checked the monitor, groaning as he tapped on it.
“What?” Hera asked as she spun the ship around quickly.
“It’s the shields.”
Hera tore her eyes away from the viewport to look at him. “How bad is it?”
“They’re at eighteen percent,” Kanan said.
She tightened her hold on the controls of the ship and returned her gaze to the starfield in front of her.
“Get to the guns, I need you to cover us.”
“Any of them!”
A TIE fighter landed another hit, the ship rocked, and the monitor blinked again. Kanan leaned over the monitor.
“Shields are at-”
“I don’t wanna know! Chop, start planning a jump for us.”
Kanan dashed out of the cockpit, and Chopper warbled something, and Hera shook her head.
“Anywhere but here!”
He grumbled, but plugged into the Ghost’s systems. Within a moment, she heard the familiar sounds of the Ghost’s cannons firing, and her lips curled into a smile.
“How are those coordinates coming?”
Chopper told her they were almost done, and Hera nodded at him to thank him. When she turned back, there was a TIE fighter coming right heads on towards her. She let out a surprised gasp, and jerked the ship away, but not before she could see the TIE fighter explode.
“Nice shot, Kanan!”
The console beeped, and Hera grinned.
“Perfect timing, Chopper.”
He let out a proud sound and spun his head around triumphantly, and Hera laughed before launching the ship into hyperspace. The stars blurred into lines as the ship sped up, and suddenly all that surrounded the viewport was blue. Hera stood up, and practically ran out of the cockpit, colliding into a hug with Kanan, who let out a relieved laugh.
“You were amazing, love,” was all Hera could think to say before she kissed him.
Hera laughed along with Ezra. He certainly was a charming kid, and teaching him what to do when he co-pilots was some of the most fun she’d had in a while.
“Okay, okay,” Hera said as her own laughter started to die down along with Ezra’s. She lowered her voice, as if she was about to tell Ezra a secret. “Want me to show you something about the Ghost that no one else knows about?”
He nodded eagerly, and Hera focused back on the console. She pressed a few buttons, and after a brief pause while the power redirected, arcs of electricity shot quickly across the viewport. If there had been anything on there, whether it be a person or creature or droid, they’d have been shocked instantly, and most likely have fallen off.
Hera heard Ezra gasp, and when she looked at him again his eyes were wide, though he was grinning.
She knew he wasn’t biologically Kanan’s son, but that didn’t stop her from thinking about how similar their grins were. They both had the same mix of charm and what she could only describe as dorkiness.
“Wow,” Ezra said, entirely in awe.
He bobbed his head. “This ship is amazing.”
“I wouldn’t be flying it if it wasn’t.”
Ezra nodded. “You have to teach me to really fly it someday. By myself.”
“You want to fly my ship?”
“In case of an emergency! Please?”
Hera smiled, trying not to think about the fact that he and Kanan would be going home in just a couple of days. “Yeah, someday.”
She seemed to hear her own voice like it was separate from herself, and was surprised by her own tone. It was kind and almost… maternal. Sort of like how it was when she comforted Sabine after a really bad nightmare, or when she was teaching Sabine some flight techniques she’d never learned at the Imperial Academy.
Maybe that’s what drew Kanan to Ezra , she thought. Maybe he’s just got this effect on people, that they can’t help but want to take him in.
The doors to the cockpit slid open, and Hera and Ezra both spun around in their chairs to see Kanan walking in.
And (entirely coincidentally) Hera felt her heart speed up a bit.
A total coincidence. For sure.
“Everything okay in here?”
“Of course, don’t you trust me?” Ezra said before Hera could say anything. Hera chuckled, and shook her head.
“Are you sure?” Kanan asked. “Because the lights just blinked out for a sec. You’re not breaking Hera’s ship, are you?”
“Hera was just showing me something the Ghost can do!” Ezra answered.
Kanan raised an eyebrow. “Oh? What is it?”
Ezra gave Hera a look she couldn’t resist, and she turned back to the console while letting out a sigh.
“Alright, but just one more time, okay?”
Ezra beamed right before she started her work on the console of the Ghost , diverted the auxiliary power to the hull with a couple of button presses. Once again, arcs of bright electricity jolted across the hull, bouncing around for a second before stopping. Hera had only had to actually use that trick once, when she and Chopper got in a tough spot with too many mynocks clinging to the viewport.
Of course before then Chopper had discovered it by accident while Hera was standing on the hull, cleaning mud off of it after a particularly messy storm. But Ezra and Kanan didn’t have to know about that.
She looked at Kanan, and saw his eyebrows raised. He seemed impressed, and Hera would be lying if she said she wasn’t proud of creating that expression on her face. He smiled at her.
“I never knew the Ghost could do that.”
She smirked. “There’s a lot you don’t know about my ship.”
She saw Ezra make a face out of the corner of her eye, cleared her throat and turned back to the front viewport.
“We shouldn’t do that too much, though. I don’t want any more complaints about the lights blinking off.”
Kanan nodded, and took the seat behind Ezra. He put a hand on the back of Ezra’s chair.
“So, what have we been learning up here?”
“I was just showing Ezra the basics. Checking shield levels, keeping the engine warm, and how to use the front guns,” Hera said, offering a smile to Ezra who grinned back proudly. “I think he’ll be a great co-pilot tomorrow.”
Kanan looked proud too. He was definitely taking his role as a father to Ezra seriously.
More serious than he took other things.
“Good to hear,” Kanan said. “I knew he’d be great at it. And he had a good teacher.”
Their eyes met, both of them with soft smiles on their faces. After a moment, Hera looked away, back to Ezra.
“I think that’s just about everything I have to teach you for now, Ezra.”
Kanan nodded, and he got that instantly familiar shit-eating grin. Hera steeled herself when he started to open his mouth.
“Really, the best way to learn is on the fly .”
Ezra groaned, and Hera shook her head.
“Bad jokes aside,” she shot a look at Kanan, who laughed in pride. “He’s right. The only way to get better is with real practice. Which you’ll get tomorrow. But don’t worry, I’ll be right here to help you.”
Ezra nodded. “Thanks, Hera.”
“Anytime. I could talk about my ship all day.”
“She will too, if you ask her to,” Kanan added, and Hera found herself laughing with him at his joke this time.
It felt nice, familiar, to be laughing with him at bad jokes in the cockpit again. Sure, it was a little different- they were both older now, the Ghost was a lot more full, and they both seemed to have adopted teenagers. But there was a familiarity to it that Hera felt deep within her.
Because really, it was these kind of moments that she’d missed the most.
Sorry for the wait, midterms and activities and everything have been piling up.
Still, I hope you enjoyed the chapter! Thank you so much for reading!!! <3
Chapter 11: The Job
I am so so so so so sorry about the embarrassingly long wait for this chapter! Life has been crazy lately between school and home and everything else, and my study period where I usually took some time to write got taken over by a new class. So I'm really sorry. This chapter is short, but I definitely want to update this story more soon, and a lot more quickly too. Loads of apologies again, I'm so sorry. I hope you enjoy it regardless.
Kanan woke up with a sleeping Hera settled in his arms. He pressed a soft kiss to the back of her neck and she stirred a little, craning her neck back towards him, and smiled drowsily.
“‘Morning, love,” she mumbled. Her voice was incredibly sleepy, and it made Kanan’s heart flutter a little bit as he started to wake up more and more.
“Good morning,” Kanan replied. She turned her whole body over so she was facing him, and then buried her face into his shoulder. He chuckled.
“What happened to my ‘morning-person’ Hera?”
“She hasn’t woken up yet.”
Kanan pressed a kiss to the top of her head, close to the base of her lekku, and she nuzzled into him some more. They snuggled under the blankets, drowsy and close within the warmth of a shared bed. It had become a norm for them in many mornings. It was so domestic, so soft.
He loved it.
And he started to realize that that terrified him.
The room seemed to collapse on him, and the woman in his arms was completely oblivious to it. Dread built up within him. He didn’t want to leave her, honestly. He felt about her the way he never thought he’d feel about anyone.
He had to leave. For her sake.
It was easier if he told himself that.
Kanan was clipping on some pieces of armor he’d had for who knows how long, in preparation for the mission that day. He put his belt on, and lifted his blaster, looking it over.
Admittedly, he was a little out of practice with shooting. He’d hardly used his blaster since the last time he and Hera had run a job together. He examined it carefully, rolling his wrist to get a good luck at all sides of it. It had some scratches in the finish, but he’d always taken good care of it. He spun it in his hand before holstering it.
“Well,” Zeb said dryly from behind him. “Maybe you can scare the bucketheads off with your spinning skills.”
Kanan shook his head, and turned around. “I know how to shoot.”
“Sure you do. Get to the cockpit when you’re done goofing off.”
“I wasn’t-” Kanan groaned and rolled his eyes before simply following Zeb to the cockpit. Sabine was sitting in a seat that, based on the fact it was spray-painted, he could only assume was designated as her seat. Hera and Ezra both had the pilot and co-pilot seats. Kanan started to sit down in the seat behind Hera, but Zeb shoved his chest and took it before he could. Kanan staggered back before straightening himself up. He folded his arms and looked towards Hera, who smiled at him.
Kanan nodded. “Yeah, I am.”
“Good to hear. Sabine, Zeb, get yourselves ready to be dropped off.”
Zeb nodded, and left the cockpit. Sabine paused before following him, looking over Kanan carefully. He raised an eyebrow.
“You should let me repaint that armor for you sometime.”
She left before Kanan could respond, and he gave Hera a puzzled look. She just shrugged.
“She’s being nice, don’t question it.”
Kanan took what was Zeb’s seat while Hera prepped the Ghost for launch. Her comm buzzed, and Sabine’s voice sounded from it.
“We’re ready when you are.”
“Acknowledged, Spectre 5,” Hera said.
Kanaan counted quickly in his head. If Sabine was Spectre 5, then that meant that Hera must’ve still been Spectre 2. That she hadn’t taken over Spectre 1 when he left. He felt a pang of guilt as Hera lifted the Ghost into the air.
The flight was mostly silent the whole way there. Ezra was carefully watching Hera’s movements on the controls as she flew- Kanan had never seen him that focused. Hera turned the ship, and tilted her head back a bit to talk to Kanan, while keeping her eyes ahead of her.
“Kanan, you should get down there with Zeb and Sabine, because we’re dropping you and Chopper off right after them.”
Kanan nodded, and stood up. “Works for me,” he shared a glance with Ezra, and smiled comfortingly at him.
“You’ll do great, kid, just listen to Hera.”
Ezra beamed, and Kanan headed out of the cockpit, down towards the cargo bay, where Sabine and Zeb were laughing and joking. Kanan slid down the ladder and joined them. Zeb’s laughing slowly faded when he noticed Kanan.
“I don’t know. He’ll probably be here soon.”
Zeb grunted and turned back to Sabine, but Sabine was still looking at Kanan.
“You ever do a mission like this before?”
Kanan swallowed. “Uh, not exactly like this, no. Hera and I never really had this many people, back-”
“Back before you left her.” Zeb interrupted, earning him an elbow from Sabine. Kanan cleared his throat, and nodded guiltily.
“Yeah. Back before… that.”
There was a moment of tension, with everyone quiet, when Zeb’s comm rang.
“I’m opening the doors from here, you guys can jump whenever you feel it’s right. I’ll get as low as I can, okay? Be careful, both of you.”
Zeb lifted his comm. “Understood, Spectre 2. We’ll be fine.”
The ramp lowered a moment later, and Zeb and Sabine readied themselves to jump while the Ghost was slowly brought closer and closer to the ground. Kanan stepped back to give them room.
Kanan heard Sabine say “thanks,” but he just got a scoff from Zeb before the pair ran down the ramp and jumped, getting ready to make their distraction. Kanan watched them from the open ramp, and his comm beeped.
“Are they out yet?” It was Ezra asking, not Hera, and Kanan smiled.
“Yeah, you can close the ramp up.”
“Okay, okay…” Ezra said, and then his voice got a little more distant, as if he’d set the comm down. “Which one is that?”
“That one, Ezra,” Hera said through the comm. “And turn the comm o-”
It cut out, and Kanan shook his head, chuckling as the ramp closed. Before it closed all the way, Kanan could see- and feel- the Ghost rising in altitude again as Hera got them ready to go to the other side of the hangar.
He heard the ever familiar sound of small wheels rolling across the metal floor, and pursed his lips. He turned around to see Chopper rolling across the floor. Almost like a child, Chopper made a show of spinning his head away from Kanan, refusing to look at him.
“I’m guessing you’re still pretty mad, huh?”
Chopper warbled curtly, extending a mechanical arm to accentuate his point.
“Alright, fine, you’re not speaking to me. But we still have to work together.”
True to his word, Chopper stayed silent, and Kanan sighed.
“Come on, it’s for Hera. You know she always hated it when we fought.”
Still nothing from the droid. Kanan gave up, and turned on his comm.
“How much longer?”
“Well,” it was Hera’s voice this time. “Just a little bit longer. We’re taking a detour, flying out of the city, and then around back to the hangar. So we don’t draw too much suspicion.”
It was a smart plan, with details that considered many possibilities. Definitely one of Hera’s.
“Makes sense. Just let us know when you’re ready to drop us off. Chopper and I are on standby.
“Copy that, Spec- Kanan.”
It wasn’t until she almost said it that Kanan really felt how much he missed being her Spectre One.
Hera looked up from her datapad at the newest member of her little crew. Sabine was a kid, who she’d saved the life of just a month ago. Her hair and Mandalorian armor were colorfully dyed and painted respectively, although right now she was just lounging in her black shirt and brown pants, the only color being the fiery red of her hair.
“Who’s Spectre One?”
Hera swallowed nervously and rolled her neck, letting one of her green lekku fall over her shoulder.
Sabine had been given the moniker “Spectre Five” just two weeks ago, before their first mission all together. Zeb hadn’t questioned why he was Spectre Four, and she and Chopper both knew exactly why they were Spectres Two and Three.
Zeb hadn’t questioned it, but of course Sabine was. She asked way too many questions.
“No one,” Hera lied. “It’s... a strategic decision. If someone heard me me get called Spectre Two, they would think that there’s someone else in charge. It throws the Empire off.”
Sabine’s eyes narrowed, and she considered Hera for a moment. That was another thing about her that Hera was learning quickly, she was very good at detecting lies, and Hera could feel that she saw right through her.
“Okay,” Sabine said, evidently not wanting to push it.
Hera was grateful for that.
“Copy that, Spec- Kanan.”
Hera winced as she almost called Kanan by his old code name. It just felt so… natural, even after all these years. It was right
Well, technically, it wasn’t right anymore. But that hurt too much to think about.
Hera veered the Ghost through the air, spinning it around. She spared a glance to Ezra, who was looking a little queasy.
“How you holding up?”
“Could be worse.”
She raised an eyebrow, looking back to the viewport as she flew. “But could you be better, too?”
“What’s the problem?”
She could see Ezra shrug out of the corner of her eye. “This is just… different… than whay I’m used to.”
She smiled warmly at him. “Are you getting airsick?”
Ezra shook his head firmly, but he still looked nauseous. Hera nodded. “Well, if you are, let me know.”
She twisted the ship again, taking it back in a curve.
“Ezra, can you check the fuel levels?”
She didn’t need to check the fuel levels, Sabine had helped her fuel up some before they left. But she figured giving Ezra something to do might keep his mind off the airsickness. He reached over on the console, and tapped a few buttons on the monitor.
“See?” Hera said. “You already know you’re way around her.”
She caught a proud glint in Ezra’s eye as he tapped another button, and quickly read it.
“92% full, we’re perfect.”
Hera shrugged. “You can never be too sure.”
She turned the ship again, making her route as unclear and indirect as possible to keep from drawing any suspicion.
“You’re a good co-pilot, Ezra.”
She looked over to see him beaming. “Thanks. You’re… a good pilot.”
Hera laughed. “I’ve got plenty of practice. Why don’t you comm Zeb, see how he and Sabine are doing?”
Ezra nodded, and leaned over to the Ghost ’s comm.
“Hey there, Spectre…”
“Four,” Hera offered.
“Spectre Four,” Ezra said, thanking Hera with a nod. “How’s everything going?”
“Great, great,” said Zeb, his voice slightly static-y from the comm. Hera could hear blaster fire in the background. “There’s plenty of stormtroopers here, so I think the distraction worked.”
“Good to hear,” Hera said, cutting Ezra off. “You and Sabine are holding up okay?”
“Nothing we can’t handle.” Hera could practically hear the cocky grin he definitely had. The comm clicked off and Ezra reached for it again, but Hera waved her hand.
“We don’t want to distract them.”
“Right, right, sorry.”
Hera shook her head, smiling. “Don’t worry about it.”
She turned the ship again. They’d gone on such an indirect route, but now they were heading straight for the warehouse.
“Ezra, get ready to open the ramp again, we’ll be dropping Kanan and Chopper off soon.”
Ezra nodded, and sat up straight in his seat, moving his hand close to the button to open up the ramp. He swallowed hard.
“So… did Sabine and Zeb distract all of the stormtroopers?”
“Well, I don’t know about all of them, but probably a lot of them.”
Ezra scratched the back of his neck. “But how many will Kanan and Chopper have to fight?”
Hera looked away from the viewport back to Ezra. He was only a little younger than Sabine, but in that moment the boy looking back at her seemed even younger than that, and he looked so afraid. She tore her gaze away from him to look forward again to fly.
“I don’t know, Ezra. But Kanan will be okay. He knows what to do in a fight, and he can defend himself. You know, probably saved my life fifty times,” Hera admitted.
Ezra seemed to perk up a little at that. “Really?”
Hera chuckled. “Yeah, but I saved his life too. You should ask him some time about the things we got up to when we were together.”
Ezra smiled. “Maybe I will.”
Hera glanced over to him again for a moment. “You have nothing to worry about. I mean it, Ezra.”
He nodded. “I know. Thanks.”
Hera started to bring the ship down, keeping an eye on the dropping altitude meter.
He tapped the comm on, and Hera leaned in. “Kanan, Chop, you two ready to go?”
She heard an affirmative “wop-wah” from Chopper, and smiled.
“Okay. You two take care of each other, alright? I want you both back in one piece.”
“Understood,” was all she got from Kanan, though she could perfectly hear his voice saying “ oh, you want me? ” or “ which piece? ”
The thought nearly made her laugh.
“I won’t be too long,” was what she said instead of laughing. “Make it quick, you two.”
Hera tapped the comm off, and found they were near enough to the warehouse. “Ezra,” she said as she continued the Ghost ’s descent in altitude. “Open the doors.”
“They’ll jump when they’re ready.”
Ezra hesitated, but pressed the button to open the ramp down. Without even being told, he pressed the comm on and told Kanan and Chopper that they could jump whenever they thought it was low enough, they just had to comm and let them know they were off.
Oddly, it made Hera feel a swell of pride.
She brought the ship down lower, and lower, and lower, until-
“You guys can get up now, we’re both off,” said Kanan through the comm.
“Take care of yourself,” Hera said before he clicked the comm off. She pulled the Ghost quickly up into the air, admittedly a little too quickly, as she saw Ezra squeeze his eyes shut and grip the edges of his seat. She righted the ship.
“I know,” he said as he opened his eyes to reach over to close up the back ramp. Hera flew away from the hangar, but planned on keeping in range so she could get to Chopper and Kanan as soon as they were ready.
“So, Ezra, how are you liking your first mission so far?”
Ezra looked at her, and she was surprised to see some sadness in his face.
“Good, but… aren’t Kanan and I leaving after this?”
Hera’s face fell, and she nodded sadly. “Yeah… right.”
She’d been enjoying being with Kanan again so much she forgot he’d have to go. She looked back over to Ezra, and felt a little hopeful.
If Ezra wanted to stay, then maybe Kanan would too.
I hope you're liking the story so far! I have tons planned, and I'm trying to write as much as I can.
Chapter 13: The Job III
I know this update was super super super soon compared to the last one, but I've been looking forward to writing this chapter for so long!!!!!! Speaking of long, this chapter is just that. I hope you enjoy reading it, because I enjoyed writing it!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Hera was humming contentedly as she combed through Kanan’s hair, and he smiled- he never would’ve known that the sound of someone humming could make him so happy.
She didn’t need to comb his hair, they both knew that.
It just didn’t stop them.
He was sitting cross-legged on his bed, and Hera sat behind him. They were both dressed for bed, Kanan shirtless and wearing a pair of sleep pants, and Hera in a tank top and shorts. Compared to her usual flight suit, it was like lingerie to Kanan.
His hair was smooth and soft now, just touching his bare shoulders, and it definitely had no knots left. There was a pause, and Kanan was just about to move to get up when Hera’s fingers ran through his hair, replacing the comb. He leaned back a little into her touch, and she pulled her hand away to wrap his arms around his waist.
It was a soft, caring intimacy that Kanan had never had with anyone before, and it felt so natural.
She pressed a gentle kiss to the back of his neck, and Kanan finally shifted and turned around to see her. She smiled warmly at him.
“Your hair is done,” she said, though she sounded slightly embarrassed.
Kanan stopped, pressing himself flush against the wall while a group of stormtroopers ran by, Chopper right next to him. Chopper was still being rude, which to be fair wasn’t unusual.
All the stormtroopers passed, presumably on their way to Zeb and Sabine, and Kanan and Chopper continued on. Once they were at the door of the warehouse, Kanan drew his blaster. He was about to spin it in his hand, before remembering Zeb’s earlier chiding, and stopped himself.
“Open the door as fast as you can, Chop.”
Chopper was silent- which was unusual, still evidently not speaking to him, but still rolled to the access panel. Kanan sighed, but kept an eye out for any Imperials that could’ve been looking out for them. He took a deep breath and a risk, and tapped into the Force for a moment, to see if he could sense anything.
His eyes were closed. Most of the stormtroopers guarding the outside were occupied with Sabine and Zeb’s distraction. But inside…
Kanan’s eyes snapped open.
Nothing from the droid, he continued work on the door.
Chopper was still silent, and Kanan groaned.
Finally, Chopper at least spun his head so that his primary lens was facing Kanan. He let out an indignant warble, and Kanan sighed.
“There’s too many stormtroopers inside. You have to… I don’t know. Trip an alarm somewhere. Can you do that?”
Chopper paused for a second, as if thinking. Then, he extended a mechanical arm out, and asked for Kanan’s comm. Reluctantly, Kanan handed it over. Chopper turned his tiny working rod in the access panel, and motioned with the comm for Kanan to approach. Kanan frowned, before putting Chopper’s plan together, and nodded slowly. Kanan got down on his knees and leaned into the microphone of the comm.
“All troopers in unit, uh… “ Kanan said, putting on his best core worlds accent, bringing him back a little to his years at the Jedi Temple. Chopper made a quiet sound, and Kanan thanked him with a nod.
“Unit Seventeen of the Lothal complex, you must report to the East Side as reinforcements to help them deal with the insurgents.”
Kanan closed his eyes, hoping that he was using the words an Imperial Officer would. There was a static burst and a voice came through the comm.
“Understood, commander, we’ll be on their way.”
Kanan breathed a sigh of relief, and after tuning it back to the Ghost ’s channel, Chopper handed the comm back to Kanan. Chopper worked on the door again, and then stopped and looked to Kanan, as if waiting for a signal. Kanan put a hand on the door, and felt through it. Just a couple of stormtroopers were left behind, but it was nothing Kanan felt he couldn’t handle.
“Alright Chop, open it. We gotta be fast, I don’t know how long Sabine and Zeb will be able to take care of those guys when they get there.”
Chopper didn’t say anything, evidently giving Kanan the silent treatment again. A couple of clicks and whirrs, and the door flew open. There were three stormtroopers inside, and they pointed their blasters at Kanan, but he was faster. Two of them were taken down near immediately, and the third ducked behind a crate. Kanan fired four times, the blaster bolts skimming the top of the crate. The stormtrooper leaned up to take a shot himself, which was his last mistake. Kanan scanned the area quickly, and then quickly holstered his pistol.
“I don’t think any of them called for back-up, which means they’re not letting up on Zeb and Sabine. We gotta be quick.”
Chopper ignored him in favor of pushing the crates towards the edge of the warehouse, and Kanan lifted his comm to his mouth.
“Hera, we’re in.”
“Copy that. We’ll be down soon, get those crates ready.”
Kanan clipped the comm back to his belt, and went to help Chopper with the crates. There were fourteen total, and as they were pushing the last two, Kanan looked down at Chopper.
“I know you’re mad at me still, and I don’t blame you. But… we do make a pretty good team, you have to admit.”
Chopper let out a sound that was suspiciously similar to “ bah! ” and waved a small mechanical arm dismissively. But it wasn’t like Kanan expected much more.
The Ghost pulled down slowly moments later. It hovered a little off the ground, and the ramp opened down to reveal a grinning Ezra at the top of it.
“Hera sent me to help,” he said, running down the ramp, which was still a couple feet off the ground. He was about to jump down, but Kanan stopped him with a hand.
“Stay up there, you can help with getting crates all the way in.”
Kanan took to lifting the crates one by one, carefully passing them up to Ezra, who pulled them into the cargo bay. It was easier than Kanan expected- the Empire had issued mandatory grav lifts on all cargo crates in the years since he and Hera split up, when not all crates had them. Evidently, they’d decided that the increase in cost was made up for in how much faster it made hauling.
Kanan was loading the last crate when his comm beeped. He gave it a final push, allowing Ezra and Chopper to pull it, and he answered his comm as he hopped up onto the ramp and was walking into the cargo bay.
“What’s going on?”
“Sabine just commed in,” Hera said, and he was struck by how worried she sounded. “She said they’re starting to get overwhelmed over there, we’ve gotta go.”
Kanan nodded before remembering Hera couldn’t see him. “Yeah, yeah, Ezra’s closing the ramp up now, we can get over there.”
He felt the Ghost start to speed up once the ramp closed all the way. Chopper had already disappeared somewhere, presumably to give Hera some help in the cockpit.
Suddenly, Ezra collided into Kanan with a hug. He chuckled.
“You miss me?”
He felt Ezra nod against his chest, and Kanan returned the hug, affectionately rubbing his back.
“How was flying with Hera?”
Ezra pulled away, beaming. “Good! I like it here.”
Kanan smiled. “I do too,” he said, and he really meant it. “Go back up to cockpit and help her out some more, okay?”
“What about you?”
“I’m gonna stay and help Sabine and Zeb get back on board, don’t worry about me.”
Ezra nodded, and climbed up the ladder. Kanan readied his blaster again, and then Hera’s voice came through his comm.
“Get ready, Kanan, we’re almost there,” she said. She still sounded worried.
“That was fast.”
“Took the direct route. Opening the doors in a second. Help them, Kanan.”
Kanan felt himself soften a bit at her tone. “I will.”
True to her word, the ramp opened down, and Kanan was greeted by blasterfire. He scanned the scene quickly, and spotted Sabine’s colorful armor and Zeb’s purple fur. He couldn’t quite tell within all the chaos, but it looked like they were both crouched behind a barrier for some cover. Kanan fired at a couple shots at some stormtroopers, and Sabine looked behind herself to see him. She frantically waved, beckoning him.
Kanan fired a few more times, but only landing a hit on one. He jumped down the ramp, ducked behind a barrier for cover for a few moments, and then dived to join Sabine and Zeb behind theirs. He looked up into the visor of Sabine’s helmet.
“What’s going on?”
She motioned down to Zeb before leaning around to shoot at some stormtroopers. Kanan looked down, and stifled a gasp. Zeb had been hit. Nothing fatal, just a shot to his shoulder, as well as one to his side and another to his leg. It was nothing fatal or even particularly dangerous, but it had to hurt, and Zeb was breathing shakily, leaning against the barrier.
“I- I’m not strong enough to support him, you have to help!”
Kanan hadn’t known Sabine very long, but she’d always been calm and cool, and hearing her so distressed made him ache a little bit, and reminded him of how young she was. He nodded.
“I will, I’ve got him. Can you make it back to the ship yourself?”
She nodded, and Kanan gave her a reassuring smile. “Okay, go back and cover us. I’ll help him get across. And take his…” Kanan looked at Zeb’s weapon. It wasn’t just a blaster, he could see that, but he couldn’t exactly tell what it was. “His thingie.”
Sabine picked it up carefully.
“Go when you’re ready, Sabine,” Kanan said.
He couldn’t see her through her helmet, but he heard her let out a shaky sigh for breaking into a sprint, ducking and rolling under cover but quickly making her way back to the Ghost . Once she was about halfway up the ramp, she tossed his weapon inside and drew both of her pistols, firing at the stormtroopers, taking down some and distracting the others.
Kanan scooted a little closer to Zeb.
“Hey big guy, I know you don’t like me, but can you at least let me help you out of this one?”
Zeb nodded, although he still gave Kanan a weary glare, which he was fine with. Kanan slung Zeb’s arm from his non-hurt side over his shoulder, and helped him get onto his feet. He swallowed hard.
“Guess I have to be,” Zeb grumbled.
Kanan shook his head, but chuckled breathily. “That’s the spirit, come on.”
He helped Zeb through the blaster fire, trying to help him keep as much as weight as possible off of his hurt leg, as Sabine distracted the stormtroopers. A couple of bolts flew a little too closely by them, and Kanan drew his blaster from his holster (with difficulty, considering the Lasat hanging on him) and fired at the stormtroopers, taking down the one he was pretty sure was responsible.
Kanan could’ve sworn he heard a half-impressed “ hmmph ” from Zeb, but didn’t press it. They finally made it to the Ghost’s ramp, where Sabine helped to pull Zeb up. She seemed to struggle with it, but Kanan wasn’t surprised considering how much smaller she was than him. Zeb limped over to a spot in the cargo bay and fell against the wall. Sabine started pushing crates away to give him space, and Kanan pressed the button to manually close the ramp. He commed Hera.
“We’re good to go, get us out of here!”
“On it. Thank you, Kanan.”
“It’s just what you brought me here for.”
Kanan put his comm away, and crouched down next to Zeb, across from Sabine, who’d tossed her helmet aside. She held one of his much bigger hands in hers.
“Are you okay?”
Zeb grinned, but it was half-hearted. “Yeah, yeah, I’m alright, kid. Takes more than a few bucketheads to get rid of me.”
Sabine laughed, evidently relieved. “Good. I’ll go get the medkit,” she said, leaving Kanan and Zeb alone.
Kanan looked down awkwardly at the floor, but felt a tap on his shoulder. He looked up to Zeb, who cleared his throat.
“Uh, guess I should say thanks. You saved my life.”
Kanan nodded. “Yeah, uh… no problem, man. Glad to help.”
Zeb nodded back. “Sorry I’ve been giving you a hard time.”
Kanan laughed quietly. “No, no, I definitely deserve it. Hera’s too nice, someone had to do it.”
Zeb laughed too, though he winced as he did. Still, Kanan felt a connection of sorts, and he knew that if he’d stayed with Hera like he should have, he and Zeb probably would’ve been great friends.
Kanan chuckled, and brought a hand up to run through it himself, even if it wasn’t the same as when she did it.
He looked up at her, at how close she was in his bed, and kinda wanted her to mess it up again.
Thank you so so so much for reading! I love writing this story, and all of the support it gets brings me so so so much joy!!! Thank you <3
Chapter 14: Tarkintown
Thank you so much for reading! Also, I've decided to re-add the "Slow Burn" tag to this story :)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Hera finished wrapping Kanan’s wounds with the bandages. She’d already smeared bacta all over where he’d been hurt, in spots all over his body, and just needed to finish up. He was seated in the Ghost’s common room, and she was on her knees in front of him, getting to his hurt knee last. She tugged on the edge of the bandage, tightening it, and then tied it off. She stood up, wiping some of the excess bacta on her hands with a scrap piece of gauze, and looked at Kanan as she sat down next to him.
“So, any other injuries I should know about?”
Kanan smirked, and got a familiar twinkle in his eye- the one that always made Hera have to ready herself for a bad flirty joke.
“Well, my lips do kinda hurt. Think you could kiss them better?”
Hera heard Kanan laughing at her eye-roll before she even realized that she was rolling her eyes.
“Come on, doc,” Kanan said with a faux-dramatic flair. “I’m dying here.”
Hera shook her head, laughing. “Alright, alright, I get it,” she teased. She leaned over and kissed him softly, smiling into it as he kissed her back. He took her hand and when she pulled away, she gave his a squeeze.
She didn’t want to say it out loud, but she was starting to think that she wanted to keep him around forever.
Hera spun the ship around, and heard one of the panels on the console of the Ghost ’s cockpit start to beep.
“Karabast,” Hera cursed under her breath- it was the ship’s sensor. The Empire had sent TIE Fighters after them. Ezra frantically looked at the monitor, and then up to Hera.
“I know, I know Ezra. It’s time for Plan B.”
“There’s a Plan B?”
“There’s always a Plan B,” Hera said. “Tap the comm on for me.”
Ezra did as he was told, and Hera leaned into it a little.
“They set some TIEs on us, so everybody hold on while I evade.”
She gave a moment’s pause, and then quickly spun the ship to dodge some incoming fire. She could just start to hear the roar of TIE fighters, and groaned. The doors of the cockpit flew open, and Sabine was holding the wall as she walked to keep from falling. Hera turned her head quickly to look at her before turning back to the viewport.
“Sabine, can you get to the gun?”
“No, I’m looking for a medkit,” she responded. Hera didn’t look back to check, but she heard shuffling around through some of the compartments. She frowned.
“A medkit?” She jerked the ship quickly to the right. “Who needs a medkit?”
Hera’s eyes widened. “Zeb? Is he okay?”
“Yeah, yeah” Sabine said. “He’s fine, Kanan and I are taking care of him. Just get us out of here.”
There was a slam of one of the compartment doors, and then the door to the cockpit shut while Sabine left. Hera felt like the tension in her shoulders had increased tenfold- she needed to go check on Zeb as soon as possible. She stabilized the ship a bit, and then pulled up, trying to break atmosphere as soon as possible, her jaw set.
“Chopper, get us some hyperspace coordinates!” She called.
He responded with a warble, and she shook her head.
“Anywhere! Just don’t send us far.”
They got higher, and higher, and the roars of the TIE Fighters grew more and more distant, evidently not all of them wanting to follow them out of Lothal.
“Aren’t we getting these crates to Tarkintown?” Ezra asked. “Why are we leaving Lothal?”
“We’ll be back, we just need to get them off of us,” Hera said. The black expanse of space soon overtook the viewport, and she heard Ezra gasp. She smiled.
“Never been in space before?”
A couple of bright green bolts flew over the Ghost- they still had some TIEs after them, apparently. She looked over to him just in time to see him shake his head. The console rung to let her know that Chopper’s coordinates were ready, and she laughed.
“Wait until you see this.”
She pulled the Ghost into hyperspace, and Ezra gasped again, even louder this time. Hera breathed a loud sigh of relief herself, and leaned back a moment in her chair.
They were safe.
She practically leapt out of her chair, and slid out the door of the cockpit, running to the cargo bay and quickly climbing down the ladder. She pushed herself through the crates over to where Zeb was laying propped against the wall, with Sabine and Kanan on either one of his sides, wrapping him in bandages. Hera got down on her knees in front of Zeb, and he gave her a reassuring smile.
“Hey, Hera, how’s it going?”
Hera shook her head. “Are you okay?”
Zeb nodded, and extended a hand, which Hera took with both of her own. “Thanks to Kanan, actually,” he said.
Hera looked up to Kanan, who had deeply invested himself in wrapping Zeb’s shoulder with bandages. She felt her heart flutter a bit, and smiled at him before looking back to Zeb.
“I’m glad you’re alright. You should go rest.”
“What about Tarkintown?”
“We’ll take care of that. Kanan, can you help him get to his room?”
Kanan finally looked at her, and nodded as he finished tying off the bandages. “Yeah. Come on, Zeb.”
Zeb winced as Kanan helped him up, and helped him limp his way through the cargo bay. Sabine stood up, and Hera hugged her quickly.
“I’m glad you’re okay.”
Sabine hugged her back for just as second for stepping back. Hera finally got a good look at her face, and there was guilt written all over it. She smiled softly at Sabine, and put a hand on her shoulder.
“Zeb’s gonna be alright.”
“And it wasn’t your fault.”
Sabine nodded, and Hera walked a few steps over, bending down and picking up her helmet, handing it to her.
“You should go get some rest too, we’ll be in Tarkintown soon.”
“As long as I get to help hand out everything!”
Hera pulled the Ghost down slowly, landing it just outside of Tarkintown. She walked out of the cockpit and rapped on Sabine’s door as she passed it.
“We’re here, Sabine.”
Hera kept walking, and heard Sabine’s door open behind her half a moment later. Hera slid down the ladder to the cargo bay to see Ezra and Kanan prepping the crates already. She smiled at them.
“You two ready?”
Ezra nodded eagerly, and Hera opened the ramp down. All four of them moved the crates out, and the residents eagerly lined up, recognizing the Ghost and its crew. Sabine and Ezra popped the tops off of their crates and started handing out the food inside, while Hera and Kanan both stepped back to give them some room. Hera pretended not to see Ezra stuff a few pieces of fruit into his pocket, and looked at Kanan.
“I missed this,” he said. “I always loved this part of missions with you.”
Hera smiled at him, and watched Sabine and Ezra joke and laugh with each other and the people of Tarkintown. Sabine was talking to a couple of the people she’d recognized from previous runs here.
One woman came over to Hera, holding some of the food Ezra and Sabine had given to her.
“Thank you so much, Miss, we always appreciate what you all do for us.”
Hera smiled warmly at the woman. “It’s what we do, it’s an honor to help.”
The woman nodded and looked at Kanan. “Are you new?”
Kanan looked caught off guard. “Um…”
“Yes, he is,” Hera said. “So is the boy over there.”
The woman chuckles. “I thought he was. And where’s Zed?”
Hera laughs quietly, mentally filing away “Zed” as something to annoy Zeb with in the future. “He’s resting in the ship.”
“Well, thank him for us all.”
“I will,” Hera said, waving at the woman as she left. Hera turned to Kanan to see him with a giant grin on his face, and she raised an eyebrow.
“Nothing, nothing,” Kanan said, looking back at where Sabine and Ezra were still passing out food.
“Hera, if you’ve ever got another mission like this,” Kanan said. “You let me and Ezra know. I know I love this, and I think he enjoyed it too.”
This is your chance.
“What if,” she started slowly. She was just watching Sabine and Ezra, she couldn’t make eye contact. “Instead of me calling you, I could just… tell you when we have a mission.”
“I don’t follow.”
Hera sighed quietly. “I guess, what I mean is, if you were already on the Ghost , I wouldn’t have to tell you when we have a mission coming up. It’d be much more efficient, don’t you think?”
Kanan stepped around in front of her, and she looked up at him. He looked shocked, for sure, but she could tell it’s a happy, heartwarming surprise.
“You want me back on the Ghost ?”
Hera smiled. “You and Ezra were a big help today, and having you on board for the past couple days was pretty great. So, if you two want to, you’re invited to join us.”
His face was split into a giant grin. “I- I’ll have to talk to Ezra. Thank you so much.”
Kanan jogged over to Sabine and Ezra. Hera couldn’t hear them, but she could guess that he told Sabine that he’d take over for her, since he took her spot handing out food. Sabine met back with Hera, folding her arms and standing next to her.
“He seemed happy. What did you say to him?” Sabine asked.
“I invited him to live on the Ghost with us.”
Sabine cocked an eyebrow. “Oh, did you?”
Hera shook her head. “As a friend, Sabine.”
“Ezra would come too!”
Sabine stared at her for a moment, obviously amused but still trying to keep a straight face. “That doesn’t really change much.”
Hera shook her head, and watched Kanan and Ezra hand out the last of everything, the pair chatting away. He really was a father to Ezra, and it made Hera realize how much he’d changed in all of the best ways.
Once all the crates were empty, Kanan walked back over to Sabine and Hera, with Ezra in tow. Hera smiled at them.
“Thank you both so much for all of the help today. Ezra, you were a great co-pilot.”
Ezra beamed proudly, and Kanan put an arm around his shoulders.
Sabine looked at Kanan and smiled at him, albeit a little awkwardly. “Thanks for saving Zeb, Kanan.”
“No problem,” Kanan said, and he sounded incredibly sincere. Hera swallowed and tapped her foot against the ground nervously a couple of times.
“So… about what I asked you.”
Kanan nodded. “Yeah, um… we’d love to move in with you guys.”
Hera felt her heart soar in that moment, and it took so much of her willpower to not jump for joy. Instead, she just settled to widen her smile.
“That’s great!” She said, silently chiding herself for letting her voice squeak just a tiny bit. “I’ll take you two in the Phantom to get all of your things once we land the Ghost somewhere else.”
Sabine started walking to the Ghost , with Ezra following behind her and talking about the mission and co-piloting with Hera, leaving her and Kanan behind. Hera looked over all of the empty food crates, and her eyes widened.
Kanan frowned and looked at her, concerned. “Are you okay?”
“I… yeah, I just… I totally forgot we had to save a crate for you and Ezra as payment for helping us. I’m so sorry.”
Kanan shook his head, smiling softly at her and taking her hand. “Hey, now that we’re moving in with you guys, we aren’t going to need that. Consider us getting to live with you our new payment.”
Hera nodded. “Alright, that works, I guess.”
They both stared at each other. Kanan still hadn’t let go of her hand, and Hera could feel herself getting warmer and desperately wishing she’d taken her gloves off at some point. She wanted to- no, needed to, say something.
She swallowed hard. “Uh, Kanan, I…”
Sabine’s voice came from the Ghost , and Kanan instantly jerked his hand away. “Hey, Hera! The ship isn’t gonna fly itself, we gotta get back to our spot!”
Hera forced an awkward smile and started walking towards the Ghost , with Kanan following her. Her face was incredibly warm, and she stared down at the grassy ground as they walked back. She didn’t say anything to Kanan, and he didn’t say anything to her. Once they were aboard the ship again, she went straight to the cockpit, and flew the Ghost back to one of her usual places where she landed.
She leaned back in the pilot’s seat once she landed, and stared at the Lothal sky.
She swore that she could still feel some sort of electricity in the hand that Kanan had held, and she also swore that she needed more of it.
Hope you enjoyed this chapter, and also have enjoyed the story so far!!! Thank you so much to everyone reading this story, it really means a lot to me.
Chapter 15: Moving In
Sorry for the long wait for this chapter! I've had a lot going on and not as much time to write as I would've liked, and lately I've had a little more time but I wasn't in the exact headspace I like to be in for this particular fic.
I want to say that the next chapter will be a lot sooner but i just don't know, especially because I've got some exams and stuff going on. Hopefully it will be, but I can't guarantee anything. Sorry!
“This is where you live?” Kanan asked. Ezra looked down, embarrassed, and Kanan realized his tone may have come off a little bit more accusatory than he’d meant it to.
“Yeah… it is,” Ezra said. “Sorry it’s a mess.”
Kanan shook his head and put a comforting hand on Ezra’s shoulder. “No, no, it’s alright. It’s nice, actually.”
Ezra frowned. “Really?”
Kanan shrugged. “Better than where I’ve been living.” He sat down and leaned against the wall, and Ezra mirrored him cautiously. Kanan looked over to him and offered a warm smile.
“Thanks for letting me up here.”
Ezra nodded, but didn’t meet his eyes. “Mmhmm.”
Kanan felt an urge to hug him, but judging by how Ezra seemed to be flinching away from just about any physical contact, he figured it probably wasn’t a good idea.
Kanan’s heart hurt for him. Ezra hadn’t told him too much about himself, but what he had told him was awful. His parents had been taken by the Empire when he was just seven, and he’d been left out on the streets, alone for years.
“So...” Ezra said. “You’re gonna help me get food and stuff, right?”
“Of course I am.”
Ezra smiled a little bit, and scooted an inch closer to Kanan, which helped ease some of Kanan’s worries just a little bit too.
“Ezra? You’ve got everything?”
“Yeah,” Ezra said. “Almost.”
He looked over to see Ezra struggling to shove another helmet into one of his bags, and shook his head.
“You’re taking all of those?”
Ezra shot a glare at him, and Kanan put his hands up in defense. “I’m not saying you can’t.”
Ezra returned to shoving the helmet away, and when he finally got it in, he started throwing some of his other stolen Imperial items into the bag. Kanan never really understood why Ezra kept all of that stuff, but it made him happy so Kanan didn’t really say much. He shouldered his own bag. He just had one, between growing up a Jedi and moving from place to place, he’d never been one to keep much stuff. All he really had was some clothes, his holocron and the pieces of his lightsaber; his armor and blaster were already on the Ghost .
Ezra had everything away in his bags, except for his TIE pilot helmet (he’d come home with it one day- Kanan still had no idea how he’d picked it up). He couldn’t get it to fit in his last bag, and Kanan tapped his shoulder gently.
“I can take that one, if you want.”
Ezra stared at him for a moment, and then passed the helmet to Kanan. Kanan folded his arms, the best he could with the big helmet in his hands.
“Is that everything?”
Ezra looked around the tower to double check, and then nodded. “Yeah, that’s everything.”
Kanan smiled at him, and opened the door, stepping out onto the tower’s balcony. He took in the view for what might be the last time. Ezra followed him, juggling his many bags and helmets. Kanan raised an eyebrow at him.
“Hera’s waiting. Are you ready, or do you need a minute?”
Ezra straightened himself up, balancing everything he was holding. “No, I’m ready.”
Kanan nodded, and let Ezra follow him down the tower. They reached Hera, who was waiting with the Phantom at the bottom. She wrinkled her nose when she saw all of the Imperial helmets, and looked at Kanan curiously.
“That sure is a lot of helmets.”
Kanan shrugged. “Kid likes to steal them.”
Ezra started loading his stuff into the ship, and Kanan smiled at Hera.
“Don’t worry, we’ll keep it all in our room,” he said, waving the TIE pilot helmet at her. Hera nodded, though she still looked unsure. She and Kanan walked into the Phantom , and watched Ezra’s attempt at neatly stacking his things for a few moments before they took their seats. Kanan sat the TIE pilot helmet on the ground and gently kicked it over near the rest of Ezra’s stuff.
Kanan kept his own bag in his lap while Ezra sat next to him. Hera had turned the pilot’s seat around to watch them both (Kanan thought she was looking more at him than Ezra, but it might’ve just been wishful thinking). When Ezra was situated, she clasped her hands together.
“Ready to go?”
Ezra nodded quickly, and Kanan laughed.
“Thanks again for taking us in. We won’t let you down.”
I won’t let you down.
Hera smiled. “I know you won’t.”
Kanan’s heart skipped a beat when he felt the amount of trust in her words. She spun her chair around, and slowly pulled the Phantom off the ground. Almost immediately, Ezra’s neat pile of things fell over, and he groaned. Kanan chuckled and put a comforting hand on his shoulder.
“You didn’t have anything breakable, don’t worry too much about it.”
“I’ll have Zeb help you with your things when we get home,” Hera said through poorly stifled laughter.
Ezra nodded semi-guiltily, and Kanan just laughed again.
It wasn’t long before they got back to the Ghost . Hera docked the Phantom and the back doors opened up. Kanan stood up, and Hera immediately slid past him and Ezra.
“Zeb,” she called. “Ezra has a lot of stuff, can you come help him?”
There was a loud, low groan from down the hall, accompanied by a slightly audible snickering that could only belong to Sabine. Zeb came lumbering through the hall, stopping in front of Hera.
“I just sat down to eat.”
“Well, your food will still be there when you get back.”
“Not with that brat back there.”
“Hey!” Sabine shouted, and Hera rolled her eyes.
“Well, then you better help him fast, huh?”
Zeb grumbled something and walked over to the open Phantom . Ezra gave him his most faux-innocent smile.
“Thank you for helping me, Mr. Orrelios.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Zeb said, scooping up all of Ezra’s bags in his arms and going towards Kanan and Ezra’s room, with Ezra following behind, holding the TIE pilot helmet in his arms. Kanan shook his head, and Hera looked at his bag, then up at him.
“Still a light packer, I see.”
“Yeah,” Kanan said. “You know me well.”
Hera’s lips twitched up. “Yeah, I do.”
Hera’s eyes had the same spark that they always did, the one that gave him butterflies whenever it had this kind of focus on him. When they looked at each other, he always felt that sense of understanding between them. They had connected so well, and he couldn’t help but feel it was the Force that drew them together.
He knew it had been a long time, but he wondered if she still felt it too.
“Droid!” Zeb roared from the kitchen. “Where’d my plate go?”
Chopper’s warbles sounded suspiciously like laughter as he spun around the corner, and practically flew across the hall, towards the cockpit. Zeb came out following him with a low growl.
“I’ll scrap you for parts!”
Hera put a hand to her face with a sigh.
“It’s a little louder around here now, huh?” Kanan joked.
Hera nodded. “Yeah. Just a little.”
Sabine stepped out of the kitchen, using a fork to dive into the pile of space waffles on Zeb’s plate. Hera shook her head.
“He can make more,” she said through a mouthful.
Hera snorted. “Yeah, but he’s going to hurt you.”
Sabine swallowed Zeb’s food and beamed, just as faux-innocent as Ezra was a few moments ago. “Zeb would never lay a finger on me.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure about that.”
Sabine shrugged and walked away with the plate, back to her room. Kanan raised an eyebrow at Hera, who just shook her head again.
“It’s nice to have you back. I was beginning to feel a bit outnumbered by those three.”
Kanan laughed. “Yeah, now instead of three to one, it’s four to two.”
“I’ll take it.”
Two soft knocks sounded at Hera’s door woke her up in the middle of the night. She sat up, and rubbed her eyes..
“Come in,” she said.
The door opened, and Sabine stepped inside. She was wringing her hands and looking down at the floor. It was hard to see in the dim light, but it looked to Hera like she might have been crying. Hera stood up from her bunk, and met with Sabine. She resisted the urge to give the girl a hug- she hadn’t known her for very long, but she did know that Sabine wasn’t all that comfortable with physical affection.
“What happened?” Hera asked softly.
Sabine still didn’t meet her eyes. “Remember when you told me that I could always talk to you if something was wrong?”
Hera nodded, and Sabine finally looked up at her. Her eyes were a red and wet.
“Well, I…” she swallowed hard. “I… actually, I don’t know.”
Hera gave her a warm smile, in hopes of comforting her. “Come sit with me, Sabine.”
Sabine followed Hera silently back to the bed, and sat down next to her.
“Did you have a nightmare?”
Sabine nodded, and let out a huff that had a hint of bitterness. “Yeah, that was it,” she said, wiping her eyes. “It was just a nightmare. I don’t know why I’m so upset about it.”
Her voice broke on the last words, and Hera’s heart did too. Sabine was usually so confident, and always so talented. She was fearless on missions, and Hera found that she too often forgot just how young Sabine was.
“There’s nothing wrong with being upset about nightmares,” Hera said. “And believe me, I know what I’m talking about. Do you want to tell me what it was?”
Sabine shook her head.
“That’s okay. Do you want me to just stay up with you? We can talk about other things, you could draw, whatever you want to do.”
Sabine tilted her head, and Hera could practically see the wheels turning behind her eyes.
“Let me go get my sketchbook,” Sabine said, quickly leaving Hera’s room. Hera laughed quietly, and got ready for a night of talking and doodling with the newest addition to her little family.
Lothal’s sun warmed Hera’s face as she took a few steps down the Ghost ’s ramp. She sat down on it, and watched Kanan, Ezra and Zeb all wrestle in the grass. Though he denied it, Hera could tell that Zeb had warmed up a lot more to both of them.
Though evidently, that wasn’t motivation enough to stop him from tossing them around in Lothal’s grasses. But the sounds of laughter quelled any worries she could have had about them getting hurt.
A cool breeze rustled the grasses, and Hera smiled as she felt it. She heard footsteps on the ramp behind her, and looked back to see Sabine holding her sketchbook. Hera motioned for her to sit down next to her, and she did.
“Any new art to show me?” Hera asked.
“As always,” Sabine said coolly, handing over her sketchbook. The page it was opened to was covered in doodles of Zeb, with various expressions and poses, some of them rather ridiculous. Hera laughed.
“He told me I should draw him more, so I gave him a whole page.”
“That’s pretty generous, Sabine,” Hera said with a smile. “I’m sure he’ll appreciate it.”
Sabine nodded, and looked out to where Zeb, Kanan and Ezra were roughhousing. Her face fell a bit. “He looks busy, though. I’ll wait.”
Hera put a gentle hand on her shoulder. “You can go join them if you want. I’ll hold your sketchbook.”
Sabine shook her head. “Nah, three on one would just be too much.”
Hera looked out to see Zeb push Kanan aside like he was weightless. “I don’t think Zeb is having any trouble.”
Sabine just brought her knees up to her chin and sighed. Hera raised her eyebrows at her.
“You’re moping,” Hera said.
“Nothing,” Sabine replied shortly.
Hera scooted over, closer to Sabine. “Don’t make me tell Zeb.”
Sabine lifted her head up to send Hera a glare, and Hera chuckled. She back to Zeb, Kanan and Ezra, and then slowly nodded.
“Are you jealous of Kanan and Ezra?”
Sabine shook her head, but Hera had gotten too good at reading her.
“Sabine,” Hera said, a hint of warning in her voice. “Talk to me.”
Sabine sighed. “Zeb and I used to do all sorts of stuff together,” she said. “But now he’s just always with Kanan and Ezra. His ‘guy-friends.’”
Hera could sense some bitterness there. Sabine sounded like a child feeling jealous over a new sibling taking everyone else’s time.
And she sort of was. She knew Sabine would never say it, but she and Zeb were really like a brother and sister.
“I’m sure if you talked to Zeb, he’d spend more time with you. And right now, I bet they’d all be happy if you joined them.”
Sabine snorted. “I doubt it.”
“Do you want to?” Hera asked.
Sabine looked out at the fight. “...kinda, yeah.”
“Then just go ask.”
“Then I’ll go ask,” Hera said, setting Sabine’s sketchbook down and standing up.
Hera walked over to where Kanan, Ezra and Zeb were wrestling, with Sabine on her heels. Kanan was the one to notice her first, and he promptly stepped back a little bit from Zeb and Ezra, who continued wrestling. Hera folded her arms when she got as close as she wanted to, and cleared her throat loudly. Ezra and Zeb both froze, and only after a few seconds did they stand up.
“Hey Hera,” Zeb said. “Hey, Sabine.”
Hera gave the trio her sweetest smile. “Would you guys mind if Sabine joined in?”
Ezra nodded, just a little bit out of breath. “Sure! Should we split it two-two, or go three-one, or-”
“Actually,” Kanan said with a tired wave of his hand. “Keep two-one, I’ll step out for a minute.”
Kanan walked out closer to Hera, and they both started to walk back towards the Ghost . It only took a few moments for Hera to hear the sounds of scuffling and laughter return. She and Kanan both laughed- she loved his laugh - and looked at each other.
He was sweaty and breathing just a little bit heavy, and his ponytail was messed up so loose hairs framed his face, and his clothes were a little dirty and rumpled, and he was giving her the most wonderful smile and why was her face heating up?
Hera looked away from him quickly.
“It’s a nice day,” was all she could think to say, and she internally scolded herself for it.
“Uh, yeah,” Kanan said, looking away from her.
Hera pursed her lips, and set herself into business mode, hoping it would help clear her head.
“I’ve been looking at the docking bay’s transmissions,” she said, looking back at Kanan. “There’s a shipment of droid parts leaving in a few days for an Imperial governor. If we can get them before they leave, I have a buyer that will pay well. We’ll have more than enough credits for fuel, food and ammunition to last us at least two months if we pull this off.”
Kanan whistled. “What kind of droid parts are these?”
“No idea,” Hera answered. “All I know is that they’re old enough it’s hard to find ones in good shape anymore. That’s what makes these so expensive.”
Kanan nodded. “And we only have a few days?”
“Yeah,” Hera said. “We’re going to need to come up with a plan fast.”
“I’ll help you with that,” Kanan offered.
Hera smiled at him. “Thank you. Let’s get started while they’re all…” She looked out to the grasses to see Zeb with Sabine and Ezra each hanging off one of his arms. “Doing that.
Kanan chuckled. “Hey, it’s fun.”
“I’ve sparred Zeb before,” Hera said. “I know.”
“Sparring is a pretty generous word for what’s going on over there.”
Hera laughed, and picked up Sabine’s sketchbook as they walked up the ramp. She looked down at the various sketches of Zeb, and Kanan looked over.
“She’s really good,” he commented.
Hera nodded. “I know,” she said proudly.
She tucked it under her arm and climbed up the ladder, with Kanan close behind her. She set the sketchbook down on the table in the Ghost ’s common room, and then slid into the booth. Kanan stood across her, and finally took to fixing his hair. He pulled the hairband out and it fell completely loose. Hera bit her lip as he pulled it back again.
“Let’s figure out this droid shipment,” he said as he pulled his ponytail tight.
Sorry for the slow updates. I hope you enjoyed this chapter, and are enjoying this story as a whole so far!
Chapter 17: Droid Parts
This update came much sooner than the last one! Hopefully I can keep that up (but I'm not totally sure).
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The only sound in the tower was Ezra’s soft snoring. Kanan sat on the floor across the small room, fiddling with the pieces of his lightsaber.
He pulled out the tiny, powerful kyber crystal, and turned it over in his fingers. He still remembered first getting his crystal. He’d tried to impress one of his friends in the cave, but had slipped on the ice instead and fallen on his face.
He wondered sometimes what happened to the other padawans at the Temple. He knew the answer, of course, but wondering made him feel at least a little more hopeful.
He started putting his lightsaber back together, until it was in two simple pieces. All he’d need to do was click them together, and he’d have his lightsaber back. He still remembered building it with Huyang.
He wondered if Huyang was on a ship somewhere, waiting to help build lightsabers for younglings that would never come. Or if the Empire had found him, and destroyed what a thousand years couldn’t.
As he looked down at the pieces in his hand, he knew would never put it together fully again, despite the temptation being there. In such close quarters, the risk of Ezra finding it and asking questions was too great. Anyone who knew he was a Jedi was at risk.
And he couldn’t leave Ezra too.
Kanan disassembled his lightsaber until it looked like simple spare parts, and hid it back away.
“No, Ezra, it’s too dangerous. This is the plan that Hera and I came up with, and we’re going to follow it.”
Kanan adjusted his belt, and holstered his blaster
Ezra huffed. “It’s not fair!”
“You didn’t complain last time. You stayed on the ship then, too.”
Kanan strapped on the last of his armor.
“That was different, we were flying! This time I’ll just be waiting around,” Ezra said.
Kanan finished adjusting his armor and put a hand on Ezra’s shoulder. “Having someone to watch the ship is important. And I’m sure Hera will like to have the company.”
Ezra folded his arms, and pulled his gaze away from Kanan’s eyes. “I can go with you and help. You’re always treating me like a kid.”
Kanan softened a bit. “Ezra-”
“Sabine’s not that much older than me. Why does she get to go?”
“Because she has more experience with this than you do,” Kanan said.
“How am I supposed to get experience when you keep me on the ship?”
Kanan sighed. “You won’t always be on the ship. That’s just how it worked out, alright? I’ll try and bring you along next time.”
Ezra nodded and sat down on the bottom bunk, moping. Kanan ruffled his hair.
“How about instead of sitting in our room the whole time, you spend some time with Hera? It’ll make you feel better,” Kanan said.
Ezra nodded, and flopped back onto Kanan’s bed. Kanan shook his head as he left the room.
“I’ll see you when I get back, kid,” Kanan said. He walked to the cargo bay, where the rest of the crew was waiting for him. Hera smiled when she saw him.
“Your first mission officially back as Spectre One,” Hera commented. “Excited?”
Kanan felt his heart jump in his chest. “Of course I am.”
“And Ezra is Spectre Six now,” she said.
Kanan snorted. “Maybe you should go tell him that, it’ll cheer him up. He’s grumpy about being left on the ship.”
Hera nodded, understanding. “I’ll try and keep him entertained.”
Zeb put a large hand on Kanan’s shoulder. “Ready to go?”
“Be more careful this time, Zeb,” Hera said. “And both of you keep an eye on Sabine.”
“We got it, Hera,” Zeb said. “Come on, everyone.”
Kanan, Zeb, Sabine and Chopper all walked down the ramp of the Ghost . Kanan looked back to smile at Hera one more time before leaving with everyone else.
“Chopper,” Zeb grumbled. “What’s taking so long?”
Chopper warbled indignantly as he worked on the door. Sabine was tapping her foot impatiently, and Kanan kept a hand on his blaster, looking around for any stormtroopers. They’d been lucky so far, being able to sneak in almost completely without detection. Sabine had talked her way past an Imperial minister woman with a tall hat that noticed them, but other than that they hadn’t had any problems.
Sabine tapped on the screen of one of her gauntlets. “Here, Chop, let me try.” She nudged him with her knee, and her helmeted head was tilted down to her gauntlet. She switched between the screen and the console. Kanan and Zeb both waited eagerly as she silently worked, until finally she groaned and pounded on the wall with her fist.
“What’s wrong?” Kanan asked.
“It locked me out of the system. The only way to open it now is with Imperial authorization codes or from the inside.”
Kanan looked over the large door to the warehouse. He imagined cutting through it with his lightsaber, even though he didn’t have it on him. Not that he would have if he did anyway, some droid parts weren’t worth that. He put his hand on the door, and could feel the mechanisms inside. He closed his eyes.
“What are you doing?” Zeb said with a chuckle.
“Uh, thinking,” Kanan said quickly. He focused back on the door. He could practically see the parts of it in front of him. He couldn’t lift it in front of Sabine and Zeb, he’d never be able to explain.
And even if he could, he was out of practice with the Force, he could never open it on his own. He wasn’t strong enough.
The door slowly started to open, lifting up into the ceiling. Sabine and Zeb both gasped. Kanan stepped back, bewildered as the door continued to open. Did he do that?
Maybe he was strong enough.
He looked back to Zeb and Sabine, who were both staring at him, aghast.
“H- how did you…” Zeb’s voice trailed off.
Kanan swallowed hard. “I didn’t… I don’t…”
A small, recognizable voice sounded from behind him. “Since I opened the door, can you promise not to be mad?”
Kanan turned around, and Ezra poked his head from around the edge of the doorframe. Kanan’s mouth fell opened.
“Ezra you- you were supposed to- we talked about this!” Kanan sputtered.
“I opened the door for you!”
“Does Hera know you’re here?”
“She thinks I’m taking a nap. I came through the vents”
Kanan shook his head, and took his comm off his belt. “Spectre 2, Spectre 6 is here with us. He escaped the ship.”
“What?” Hera’s voice came through the comm. “He was just in his room!”
“He got out. I’ll keep an eye on him.”
“It’s fine,” Kanan said. “We’ll get these parts and be out soon. Meet you at the rendezvous point.”
He clipped his comm back, and looked up at Ezra. “You are so-”
“Hey, it’s good I came, right? Or you wouldn’t have gotten in here.”
Kanan’s eyes flicked over to Zeb and Sabine, who were both watching expectantly with amused smiled. He sighed.
“Yes, it’s good. But it’s also dangerous, and-”
“Let’s get these crates!” Ezra interrupted, and waved Sabine, Zeb and Chopper into the warehouse. Kanan shook his head, and couldn’t help but chuckle as he followed them all to the three crates Ezra had pointed out.
“These are the ones,” he said.
Kanan couldn’t see Sabine’s face under her helmet, but she tilted her head. “How do you know?”
“I just do.”
Sabine knelt down and checked the numbers on them. “Yeah, these… are. Nice work, Ezra.”
Ezra beamed proudly, and Kanan couldn’t hold back his proud smile.
Zeb wedged his clawed under the lid of one. “Let’s see what they’ve got in here,” he said as he lifted the lid off. Zeb, Sabine and Ezra all crowded around the crate. Sabine took her helmet off, holding it at her side as she leaned in to get a better look.
“Wow, these are old.”
“Even older than me,” Zeb joked.
Kanan came up behind them, and peered over Ezra’s shoulder, and froze as soon as he saw what was inside.
Beige droid parts, a couple of them somewhat scratched. They were almost skeletal in shape, but the distinct, curved head shape chilled Kanan and drew all the blood from his face.
Kanan stepped back from the crate, swallowing a lump in his throat.He had never wanted to see another one of those in his life with his own two eyes again. Memories rushed back to him- clone troopers, lightsabers swinging, blaster bolts flying over his head.
And Master Billaba.
“You should close that up,” Kanan said quickly. “We just need to get this stuff back to the ship.”
Sabine looked over to Kanan, an eyebrow raised. “Come on, Kanan, it’s not every day you get to see some old B1s in this kind of shape.”
Chopper let out an alarmed sound, and rolled back away from the crates by a few feet. Kanan remembered Hera telling him about where she got Chopper from, and realized Chopper probably had similar ideas about battle droids.
“And you can look at it on the Ghost , let’s just go.”
Zeb looked over Kanan, considering him in a way he never really had before, but didn’t say anything. He slid the lid back onto the crate, and activated the grav-lifts.
“Sabine, Ezra, get the other ones,” Zeb said. Kanan’s temptation to offer help was overcome by his relief over the fact that he didn’t have to touch those crates.
He walked alongside Chopper as the rest pushed the crates with them. Kanan leaned over to Chopper a bit and let his fingers brush gently over Chopper’s dome.
“You don’t like those things either, do you?” Kanan asked in a whisper.
Chopper let out a quiet, affirmative grumble.
Chopper had practically disappeared as soon as they got back to the Ghost . Hera was in the cockpit, flying them back to their usual landing spot. As soon as they’d got back to the ship, Sabine and Ezra had opened one of the crates again and were marvelling over the droids again. It’s not like Kanan could blame them- Sabine would’ve been too young to remember the Clone Wars, and Ezra was born at the tail end of them.
Kanan immediately made a beeline for the cockpit to talk to Hera, but he didn’t realize Zeb had followed him until he felt one of those large, fuzzy hands on his non-armored shoulder.
“Hey,” Zeb said. “You alright?”
Kanan turned around slowly, nodding and shrugging Zeb’s hand off. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
“You didn’t seem to like those droids.”
“I just wanted to get on with the mission,” Kanan said. He tried to turn around again, but Zeb stopped him again with his hand.
“Hey, man, I get it,” Zeb said. “There’s certain things that just…” his voice faded a bit. “I, basically, uh, I understand.”
Zeb’s sincerity took Kanan aback a little bit. Kanan examined Zeb’s face for a moment- it had never really occurred to him that there was more to Zeb than he’d assumed. All he could do was quickly thank him with a nod, and then he continued his walk to the cockpit. The door opened for him, and he sat down in the seat next to Hera’s.
“Hey,” Hera said. She looked over to Kanan, and her face fell a bit. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
She’s not wrong.
Thank you so much to everyone reading this story and following my sporadic update schedule, it really means so much to me! I love writing this story a lot, and I always get so excited when I hear that other people love reading it too.
Thank you so much for everyone who reads this story, whether you've been reading it since the beginning or just started recently, and thank you so so so much to everyone who's commented on it! I love you all so much and am so appreciative! It's what makes me jump whenever I get an email notification <3.
Hera turned over in her bed for the hundredth time. She wanted to sleep, but every time she closed her eyes, she saw war. Her homeworld being torn apart by Separatist armies. Battle droids marching in perfect lines. Friends and family being dragged away and rounded up like animals. Clones, droids, and Twi’leks alike falling to blaster fire. Fires and explosions. Ships flying through the sky in dogfights. Wounded soldiers being carried into the shelter where she hid with her mother.
Hera let out a frustrated groan and sat up. If she wasn’t sleeping, she might as well do something useful.
She picked up her datapad and turned it on, blinking quickly as her eyes adjusted to the sudden light in her dark room. She started filing through all of the Imperial reports she’d stolen (with Chopper’s help) over the past month or so. She’d only been able to read through about half of them, and only a few had really stuck out to her. Ones about a potential ship manufacturing plant to be built on a planet called Lothal.
The report in front of her revealed, as she read it, that it wasn’t just about the plant though. The Empire planned on destroying and taking over Lothal’s farms, and increasing stormtrooper recruitment on Lothal “by any means necessary.”
Hera wasn’t sure how much she, Chopper, Zeb and Sabine could do about any of that. But she hadn’t left Ryloth not to try.
“Technically,” Kanan replied. “We’re on the Ghost .”
Hera snorted and rolled her eyes. “You know what I meant. Are you okay?”
Kanan nodded. “Yeah, I’m perfect.”
Hera raised an eyebrow. “Right.”
She steered the ship for landing far away from the city. She tucked the Ghost behind one of Lothal’s tall rock spires. She looked over to Kanan for a moment, considering his face. There was something very off about him.
“Are you sure you’re alright?”
“Go get some water or something,” Hera said. “And maybe lie down if you’re not feeling well.”
Kanan nodded again, and Hera stood up out of her seat. She gently rubbed his shoulder as she passed him, though she didn’t even realize she’d done it until she was just outside the cockpit. Zeb stopped her in the hall.
“Hey, Hera,” he said.
“Hey,” she replied. “How’d it go? You get all the crates?”
Zeb nodded. “Mmhmm,” he then brought his voice lower. “Is Kanan okay?”
“I don’t know, he seems off. Did anything happen?”
Zeb shrugged, shaking his head. “I don’t know. Sabine opened one of the crates and he just… got all weird. I don’t think he liked those old droids. Chopper didn’t seem to either.”
Hera felt a twist in her gut. “What… kind of droid parts did we get?”
She was sure she already knew the answer.
“Old B1s from the Clone Wars,” Zeb answered.
Hera felt a cold wash all over her, and she felt one of her lekku twitch uncomfortably.
“Oh,” was all she could say.
“I think Kanan might’ve had his home planet invaded by them,” Zeb said. “Do you know what could’ve happened?”
Hera swallowed. “Yeah, it was… something like that. Let me go see those droids.”
She ducked past Zeb, down to the cargo bay. She stood over the balcony, holding onto the ramp, while Sabine and Ezra were both below her with the crates. Sabine was holding a battle droid head, examining it in awe, and it made Hera sick to her stomach.
Sabine looked up at Hera with a smile.
“I could really paint this up,” Sabine said. “You think we could keep-”
“Absolutely not,” Hera said, admittedly a little too quickly and harshly. Sabine’s face fell a little bit, and she carefully put the droid head back.
“Sorry,” Sabine said quietly. Hera slid down the ladder, and lifted the lid of the crate, placing it back where it belonged.
“It’s alright, Sabine,” Hera said. It’s not like it was her fault- Sabine was too young to remember the things those droids were responsible for. Neither was Ezra, who was standing back nervously. “We just need to careful with these. They’re old, and we have to sell them to Vizago, remember?”
Sabine nodded. “What does Vizago want with some old battle droids, anyway?”
“That’s none of our business,” Hera snapped. She nearly winced at her own words, especially when she saw the flash of hurt on Sabine’s face. She just needed those droids off her ship as quickly as possible.
Sabine started towards the ladder. “Right. I’ll be in my room.”
Hera sighed as Sabine left, and then watched Ezra climb up the ladder after her Hera followed them both too, eager to get away from the battle droid crates. She stopped Ezra right outside of his and Kanan’s room.
“Ezra Bridger, you told me you were taking a nap.”
Ezra stopped and looked down guiltily. “I’m sorry, Hera.”
“You can’t lie to me. That’s not how we do things around here. Kanan only wanted you to stay here because he wants you to be safe. What you did was very dangerous,” Hera said.
He nodded, still looking down, and Hera couldn’t help but smirk a little bit.
“But,” she started. “It is also exactly something I would’ve done at your age.”
Ezra looked up at her, his eyes wide. “What?”
Hera smiled at him and put a hand on his shoulder. “How’d your first mission outside of the ship go?”
He smiled back at her. “Well, I got into the ventilation system of the warehouse,” he said excitedly. His voice seemed to speed up with every word. “And I was following them all, just so I could see. Then, they couldn’t get the door open, so I went into the other side of the door and opened it for them!”
Hera chuckled. “That’s good, so you’re saying they couldn’t have done it without you?”
Ezra nodded quickly. “Pretty much,” he said. Hera could hear some of Kanan in his confidence.
“I’ll remind Kanan of that when we plan the next one,” she said. “I told him I thought you could do it. I think he just worries about you a little too much sometimes. My dad was the same way with me.”
“I have to go see Kanan,” Hera said. “We can talk more later.”
She let him go into his room, possibly to take a nap for real this time, and she walked to the cockpit. When Kanan wasn’t there, she checked the kitchen. He was slowly drinking a glass of water, as she’d suggested, and staring down at the counter. She rapped on it twice to get his attention. He looked up quickly, but then turned back to staring down.
“I saw the battle droids,” she said softly, stepping slowly towards him. “I’m so sorry, I really had no idea.”
Kanan nodded, and set his water down. He didn’t meet Hera’s eyes, instead looking down into the glass. “Who are we selling them to?”
“His name is Vizago. He’s a crime lor-”
“We’re not selling them to him.”
Hera folded her arms. “It’s better than an Imperial having them.”
“No crime lord should have them either.”
“So what, we just keep them? They aren’t staying on this ship.”
“We can destroy them.”
Hera shook her head. “We need the money, Kanan. For fuel, food, ammunition, everything. We have to sell them. I know it’s not ideal, but-”
“It’s more than just ‘not ideal,’ Hera. You haven’t seen them like I did,” Kanan said quickly.
Hera’s nostrils flared, and she felt a surge of anger within her, and she swallowed hard. “Those droids tore apart my homeworld and killed my people.”
She didn’t mean to raise her voice, but she didn’t particular care.
“I don’t like them any more than you do, believe me,” she continued. “But I don’t know when the next opportunity is going to come up, and we need the money now. I don’t want to sell them to Vizago either, but unless you have a better idea that will still get us the money, then that’s what we have to do.”
A tense silence hung in the air.
“I’m sorry,” Kanan said, finally meeting her eyes. His voice was quiet. “I forgot.”
Hera softened a bit while looking at him. They were both in pain, she had to remind herself of that. “I don’t like it either, Kanan, but we do have to sell them. We really don’t have a choice this time.”
“We used to just destroy things we realized we didn’t want to sell,” Kanan commented. “Why can’t we do that now?”
“Because it’s not just us anymore. We have four more people to feed and arm.”
Kanan raised an eyebrow. “Four?”
“Zeb counts for two.”
There was a pause, and then they both laughed quietly, and Hera smiled at him. “I know it’s hard. You don’t have to like it. You don’t even have to go, just Zeb and I will. But this is just something we have to do.”
He nodded. “Yeah, I understand.”
“And at least we’ll be getting them off my ship.”
Kanan nodded, and Hera chewed on her bottom lip nervously. She uncertainly stepped forward and put her arms around Kanan in a hug. Once she touched him, her nervousness about it faded away, and it just felt natural.
Kanan returned her hug after a moment of hesitation, and Hera sighed happily at the feeling. She really had missed hugs from him.
“Thank you,” Hera said, her head resting against him. “This is hard for both of us, and I don’t want to make things harder on each other.”
She felt Kanan nod, and Hera just closed her eyes and let herself rest in the hug for a few more moments. She could faintly make out the heartbeat she used to fall asleep to some nights.
She knew she should pull away, but she just couldn’t bring herself to break it sooner than she really had to. When Hera finally stepped back, she smiled at Kanan, and he smiled back at her.
“I’ll go contact Vizago,” she said. “We’ll probably be meeting him somewhere in a couple of hours, if I know him well enough.”
Kanan nodded, and Hera walked out of the kitchen, now feeling a quite a bit warmer than she had since Zeb first told her about the battle droids.
Kanan closed the last cupboard, and let out a deep sigh of relief. The dishes were all finally done, and the kitchen was totally clean for the first time in longer than he or Hera would’ve liked to admit. He crossed his arms, and looked across the kitchen to double-check for any spots he missed, and Hera was doing the same.
“Next time,” she said. “Let’s not put this off for so long.”
Kanan laughed and nodded. “Sounds like a good idea to me.”
The music they had playing was still going softly, and Hera reached over to turn it off, but Kanan stepped in front of the speaker.
“What are you doing?” Hera asked, an eyebrow raised.
“We can stay up for a little longer, can’t we?”
Kanan turned up the music just a bit, and extended a hand to Hera.
“It’s so late.”
“It’s not that late,” Kanan said. Hera smiled (though also rolled her eyes) and took his hand, and he pulled her a little closer, putting an arm around her waist and swaying back and forth. Hera moved with him, and rested her forehead against his.
“Just this song,” Kanan said softly. “Then we can go to bed.”
Hera nodded, and they continued to dance slowly in the kitchen. As the song ended, slowly fading out, Kanan bent his head down to kiss her, which Hera returned, letting him feel her smile. The next song started, and Kanan started to let go of Hera to turn it off, but she pulled him back to her.
“I think we can do just one more,” she said.
When he heard the Phantom docking back into the Ghost , Kanan knew that Hera and Zeb had come home from selling the battle droid parts. He sat up from his bed, and quickly dashed to the bathroom to fix his hair in the mirror. He combed through it, smoothing it out and then pulling it back into his usual ponytail. When he left the bathroom, he smiled and went to the docking area to greet Hera and Zeb.
“Hey!” Kanan said.
Zeb and Hera exchanged a look. “Hey, Kanan,” Hera said slowly. “You’re in a good mood.”
Kanan nodded. “I found this recipe I want to try for dinner. We’ll need to get some of the ingredients, but I think everyone will like it.”
He took Hera to his room and picked up a datapad, and showed her the recipe. She read it quickly, and scrunched her eyebrows as she did sometimes when thinking.
Kanan had always found it impossibly cute.
“I can send Zeb and the kids to get the stuff we need,” she said. “It says the first part should take an almost an hour, and we have everything for it, so we can start on that while they’re gone.”
Kanan raised an eyebrow and smirked at her. “We?”
“I want to help,” she said.
Kanan continued to give her a look- they both knew the extent of her cooking skills. Hera just shook her head.
“I’ll do the stuff you can’t mess up,” Hera said. “It’ll be fun.”
Kanan nodded. “Alright.”
“I’ll go make the list. Zeb, you’ll take the kids to get all of the ingredients?”
“Mmhmm,” Zeb said, eyeing Kanan suspiciously.
Hera left, datapad in hand to make the list of everything they needed for dinner. Zeb was still looking at Kanan, who frowned at him.
Zeb paused, and then snorted and shook his head. “Nothin’.”
Hera came back, a list in hand, and gave it to Zeb. “Here’s everything you need to get,” Hera said. “None of it should be too hard to find or expensive.”
“And I’m taking both of the kids?” Zeb asked.
Hera nodded, and Zeb shook his head again and made a “hmmph” sound.
“Sabine, Ezra!” Zeb called. “We’re going grocery shopping!”
Both of them came out of their rooms and met with Zeb. Sabine raised an eyebrow.
“We’re all going grocery shopping?”
Zeb shook his head. “No, Hera and Kanan are staying behind.”
Sabine’s mouth fell open a bit, and then she nodded slowly. “Ohhh, okay.”
She tapped Zeb quickly, motioning for him to lean down, and then whispered something in his ear. They both started laughing, and Ezra frowned.
“What? What did you say?”
“Nothing, Ezra,” Zeb said, still chuckling. “Let’s go.”
Zeb left with Sabine and Ezra, and Hera shook her head.
Kanan laughed, and started to walk back towards the kitchen, with Hera following him. Hera plugged the datpad into a small holoprojector, so the recipe was in the air and they could read it from everywhere. They both went through the cupboards, pulling out everything they needed, and occasionally checking the hologram to make sure they were getting everything. Kanan stepped back once they had them all out on the counter, bumping into Hera.
“Oops, sorry,” he said quickly.
Hera shook her head, stepping beside him and looking over all the ingredients, and then quickly reading the hologram.
“I think we have everything for this part,” Hera said. “We can start now.”
Kanan nodded. “Yeah, yeah. Can you measure all the ingredients? I’ll mix them.”
“Sounds easy enough,” Hera replied. She ducked down to get the measuring cups, and started measuring out the amounts needed for the various ingredients. Kanan grabbed himself a bowl, and as she measured something and handed it to him, he poured it in and mixed it around in the bowl. Kanan looked over to her as she measured out some groundnut oil, as precisely and delicately as she possibly could. Her face was all scrunched up again as she focused on getting it as exact as she could, and Kanan smiled while watching her.
Satisfied with her measuring, Hera straightened up and smiled proudly to herself, before handing the measuring cup to Kanan. She raised an eyebrow as she handed it to him.
“What are you smiling about?”
“Nothing,” Kanan said. “Just in a good mood.”
Kanan poured the groundnut oil into the bowl and continued to mix the batter, which was still too loose. They just needed to add the pom seed flour. Hera was trying to open the bag of it, though she was clearly struggling. Kanan frowned.
“You need help?”
“No, no,” Hera said, still pulling on the bag. “It’s just stuck. I got it.”
She pulled some more on it, trying to open the seal of the bag, and when she finally did, it was too quick. Flour exploded everywhere, flying up into the air, and all over Hera’s face and flightsuit. Kanan froze, as she stood there covered in flour. Hera was silent too, but suddenly she burst into laughter. Kanan smiled, and slowly started to laugh with her.
Kanan tried to ask her if she was okay, but he was laughing too hard to form words. They continued to laugh, and finally as they started to die down, Hera shook her head, and wiped some flour from her face.
“I’ll come back to help in a minute, I just need to change and wash this off.”
“Why?” Kanan said with a chuckle.
Hera made a point to bump into Kanan as she walked past him, getting flour onto him, and she flashed him a grin.
Kanan laughed as she walked out, and then measured out the amount of pom seed flour he needed and poured it into the bowl, and finished mixing the batter until it was stiff enough. He took a pan from a cupboard and poured the batter into it, trying to get it as even into the pan as he could. Once he was satisfied, he slid it into the oven, and turned it on to let the breadlike base bake. He turned back to the counter where they had all of the ingredients out, and sighed at the mess of pom seed flour.
“I can clean that up,” Hera said. “It was my fault, after all.”
Hera had gotten all of the flour off of her, and was wearing a simple sleeveless top and shorts that made her even more alluring to Kanan.
“Mmhmm,” he said. Kanan started to put all of the other ingredients away, while Hera took to cleaning the flour off the counter and walls. Once Kanan had all of the ingredients they didn’t need anymore away, he got onto his knees and helped Hera clean. She smiled at him, and looked down at his shirt, which still had flour on it from Hera bumping into him. She took her washcloth and wiped at his shirt, laughing quietly.
“I have to clean up the whole mess, right?”
Kanan nodded, though he was so fixated on Hera’s face he could hardly make sense of her words.
Hera returned to cleaning off of the floor, and then she stood up and stepped back, looking over where she had cleaned.
“Looks good enough to me,” she said. “What do you think?”
Kanan stood up too, and stepped next to her. “Yeah, I think so.”
Hera tossed her washcloth into the sink, and then took Kanan’s and did the same. She still had some flour on her fingers, and she laughed and reached up to rub it into the hair on his chin. Kanan laughed and batted her hand away playfully, and Hera smiled at him, and when she moved her hand, she only moved it to rest on his shoulder, and Kanan felt a heat where her hand laid. She looked up at him, and their eyes met.
Kanan’s heart began to pound in his chest.
“Kanan,” she said softly.
His stomach did a backflip.
“I, um…” Hera said, her voice fading a bit.
She turned her head quickly when she heard the cargo bay’s ramp open up. She quickly pulled her hand down.
“They must be back with the ingredients,” Hera said. “I’ll go see if they got everything we need.”
Hera left the kitchen quickly, her head ducked low. Kanan swallowed hard and stared down at the floor. The dizziness he felt when she was so close to him had faded, and he just shook his head.
Does she really even want to go down that road again? Kanan thought to himself. After what happened?
After what I did?
Kanan reached his hand up to stroke his goatee, and his fingers came back with flour on them. Kanan chuckled quietly as he looked down at them, rubbing them together.
Maybe she does.
I'm really having fun writing slow burn, as agonizing as it is.
In my defense, it wouldn't be kanera without them getting interrupted, right?
Chapter 20: Empire Day
Consistent upload schedule? I don't know her! I hope you enjoy this chapter!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Kanan’s hands were working Hera’s shoulders deeply and pleasantly, and she hummed in content. His hands seemed to be magical against her skin, and Hera never wanted them off of her.
“You’re good at that,” she commented, her voice barely above a whisper.
She felt him lean forward to kiss the base of her neck, and it sent a warm tingling feeling down her spine.
“I used to work at a massage place.”
Hera blinked in surprise and turned around, and she caught Kanan leaning back to avoid her lekku, though the very ends caught him in the nose, which made Hera have to avoid laughing, but she couldn’t stifle her amused smile.
She cocked an eyebrow. “What… kind of massage place?”
Kanan laughed. “Not that kind. Just a normal one, where people come in and pay for massages.”
“I’m familiar with the idea.”
Kanan chuckled. “Well, I just had to make sure.”
Hera laughed too, and then rested her forehead on his, nuzzling his nose with hers. “You’ve got all kinds of hidden talents.”
Kanan nodded, and then kissed her. He nudged her to turn back around, and put his hands back on her shoulders once she did, massaging them. Hera let out a deep, satisfied sigh, and leaned back into his touch.
“We’re doing what?”
Sabine’s eyes were wide, and she was staring at Hera incredulously.
“I know, I know, it’s bold. But I really think we can pull it off.”
“I don’t know, Hera…”
“Come on. There’s six of us now. We can do this.”
Sabine nodded. “Alright, what’s the plan?”
Hera smiled at her. “How do you feel about fireworks? We’ll need lots of them.”
Sabine grinned deviously. “I think you already know that,” she said with a laugh.
Hera laughed too. “That’s perfect. So, you and Zeb can take care of those for a distraction when the new TIE Advanced comes into view, right? Kanan will set the charges on the TIE fighter when it reaches the end of the parade, and Ezra will cover for him and make sure no one sees.”
“And you and Chopper?”
“When you’re getting into position, Chopper and I will split up and make sure everything is going well. When the fireworks start, we’ll get back to the Phantom . We’ll pick everyone up just outside the city.”
Sabine nodded slowly. “Okay… so when you and Chopper split up, who’s going with who?”
“Chopper will be with you and Zeb, and I’ll be with Kanan and Ezra.”
Sabine pursed her lips in a clear attempt to hide a smile. “Yeah, that’s what I figured.”
Hera rolled her eyes. “Sabine-”
“I’ll go get to work on all of the explosives we need. Sounds like these will be our biggest ones yet.”
“Yeah, I thought you’d be excited.”
Sabine smiled at her and went back to her room, and Hera started absentmindedly tracing shapes onto the cockpit’s console.
Sabine doesn’t know what she’s talking about , Hera reasoned with herself. I didn’t decide to go with Kanan and Ezra because of anything like that. She wasn't letting Kanan become a distraction- she couldn't. She wanted to be with him again, sure, but she couldn't let him distract her from what was important.
Though she didn’t really want to admit it, she wasn’t totally convinced.
The whole time Hera explained the plan to Kanan, he nodded and listened closely. When she finally finished, she settled her hands on her lap.
“Does that all… make sense to you?”
“Uh yea, it’s just… what’s the parade for?” Kanan asked.
“That’s what I thought.”
Hera raised an eyebrow. “Is there… a problem with that?”
Kanan sucked in a breath, and shook his head. “No, no problem, it’s just that, um…”
His voice trailed off, and Hera furrowed her brows in concern.
“We won’t hurt any civilians, if that’s what you’re worried about. We’ll only set the charges off once the TIE is at the very end of the parade, and it will be too far to hurt anyone.”
“It’s not that,” Kanan said. “It’s that… Empire Day is Ezra’s birthday.”
“Oh,” Hera said softly. “I didn’t know that. Do you think…”
“He’ll still want to do it,” Kanan said. “I was just planning on making him a cake and having a little thing for him, with all of us. As a surprise.”
Hera smiled, and rubbed his arm. “We can still do that. You can make the cake beforehand, and then after everything is over, we can have Ezra’s surprise party.”
Kanan nodded. “Won’t that be late?
“No one will mind staying up late for him,” Hera said.
Kanan smiled gratefully. “Thank you, Hera.”
They locked eyes, and Hera smiled back at him, before clearing her throat. “I better go explain the plan to everybody else.”
Kanan nodded. “Yeah, yeah, that… yeah. Go do that.”
It was Empire Day.
And also, Ezra’s birthday.
She hadn’t wished him a happy birthday yet. Ezra didn’t tell anyone that it was his birthday (though he certainly seemed off, which worried Hera about him getting hurt on the mission), and she didn’t know if he had really wanted Kanan to tell her. As much as Ezra talked, he was always quiet about these sorts of things. Kanan came up behind Ezra, and Hera watched him throw an arm around Ezra’s shoulders.
“Excited?” Kanan asked.
Ezra nodded quickly, and Kanan leaned into his ear, whispering something that Hera couldn’t make out. Ezra rolled his eyes, and pulled his head away.
“I know, I know,” Ezra said. Hera smiled, and then turned to Sabine and Zeb. Sabine was checking over all of the fireworks she was bringing, and Kanan shouldered the bag of explosives she’d given him.
Chopper rolled over to join Sabine and Zeb, and Sabine smiled at them, putting away the fireworks.
“Ready to go, Chop?”
Chopper made an affirmative wop-wah sound, and Sabine nodded.
“Great, let’s go then.”
Just as she turned to leave with Chopper and Zeb, Hera reached out to grab Sabine’s arm.
“Hey,” she said. “All three of you be careful, alright?”
“We will be,” Sabine answered, smirking at Hera. “Have fun with your little group.”
Hera rolled her eyes, and watched Sabine and Zeb laugh as they went to get into position along with Chopper. Hera turned back to Kanan and Ezra.
“Both of you ready?”
Ezra nodded eagerly, and practically bounced away, but Kanan grabbed him by the collar and pulled him back.
“Kid, you don’t even know where you’re going. Let’s let Hera lead the way.”
Hera chuckled, putting an affectionate hand on Ezra’s shoulder as she passed him, and started to walk towards Kanan and Ezra’s position, and she could hear them both following behind her.
It was somehow very comforting to know that they were so close, and that they trusted her to lead the way. Which was such a simple thing, especially considering that they trusted her to fly them, manage money, plan missions, and keep the ship running, but it still sparked some tiny bit of joy in Hera that she wasn’t going to question too much.
Hera and Ezra both walked past the security easily. Granted, there wasn’t much to begin with, though Hera supposed the crew’s exploits as of late had been a little smaller, so the Empire must have been getting comfortable.
Not for long.
It was when they heard Kanan get stopped by a stormtrooper for his bag that they both turned around, and saw Kanan defensively holding it closed.
“Sir, I’m going to need to see what is in the bag,” the stormtrooper said, his voice filtered through his helmet. Sabine had a voice modulator similar when they first met, from her time as a bounty hunter. No one was all that disappointed when it broke and she threw it away.
Ezra tapped the stormtrooper on the back. “Sir, that’s just some food my dad packed to eat with me and my mom while we watch the parade. It’s packed really tight, and moving it too much for a check would ruin it, so if you could just let him pass.”
He motioned to Hera, and her eyes widened for only a second before she composed herself to play the part, and she smiled sweetly at the stormtrooper, who tilted his head and examined her.
Hera folded her arms and lifted her chin up, and gave the stormtrooper the same look she gave to Sabine or Zeb when they were arguing, or broke something.
“Yes,” she said. “You don’t have a problem with that, do you?”
“Uh, no, no, not at all, ma’am,” the stormtrooper said quickly. He looked back at Kanan. “I’m sorry sir, I didn’t mean to cause any trouble. Enjoy the parade, have a nice time with your family.”
Hera nodded at the stormtrooper as he let Kanan pass, and then she walked alongside him and Ezra. She nudged Ezra and smiled at him.
“Quick thinking,” she said quietly. “I like it.”
Ezra beamed proudly, and they all finally found their spot, towards where the parade would end. Walkers, tanks, and fleets of stormtroopers and other soldiers, led by officers, walked through the streets. Kanan still held onto the bag, and he shifted it.
“Want a snack?”
Hera laughed. “Oh yeah, I’m sure you’ve got some stuff in there that tastes great.”
“Never know until you try it.”
Hera shook her head, and continued to watch the parade go by. It was an awful lot of forces here, so the rest of the city’s security was spread pretty thin. Hera made a mental note of that for next year, if they were still on Lothal by then.
Of course, after this stunt, they might change some things up for the next Empire Day.
A loud bang, brought Hera’s eyes upward, and she smiled as she saw the fireworks go off. The rest of the crowd seemed captivated as the colors fizzled and faded, and another one went off. Hera looked to Kanan, and her gaze lingered on him for a moment longer than it probably should have- the colored lights illuminated his face beautifully.
“I guess that’s my cue,” Hera said.
Kanan nodded, craning his neck over the crowd to get a view of where exactly the TIE was. He looked down at her, and smiled.
Another firework went off.
His eyes were on her, too long just like hers had been on him.
He leaned in a little closer, and Hera’s heart leapt in her chest.
“Yeah,” he said simply. “Good luck.”
Stay focused, Hera.
“Thanks,” Hera replied. “You too.”
She tapped Ezra, who was watching Sabine and Zeb’s fireworks. He turned around, and tilted his head. Hera smiled at him.
“Good luck, Ezra. Stay focused, stay safe” she smiled warmly at him. “And happy birthday.”
When I started, I told myself I wasn't just going to completely re-use actual episode ideas, but doing something with Ezra's birthday was just too tempting. This (obviously) doesn't exactly follow the episode, but still.
My plan with this story has never been to just re-write Season 1 within the frame of this AU, which would be difficult anyway, considering I'm not doing a lot of Jedi stuff (for now...), I wanted to be a little more different than that. But I have (and will again going forward) used a lot of elements from it, even if they're changed in certain ways and/or moved around in the timeline.
This is a long winded-excuse for making this very similar to an episode, I guess. I hope you liked this chapter regardless!
Chapter 21: Empire Day II
Thank you so much for all of the nice comments and support this fic receives! It always makes me so happy, and I reread the comments on this fic (as well as my others) all the time. I cannot thank you all enough! <3
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The moment Hera went down was the slowest moment in Kanan’s life.
The blaster bolt that hit her seemed to move at a snail’s place, and her fall was as if they were on a ship with low-grav settings. Kanan couldn’t remember if he screamed or not, but he did remember immediately running out of cover to get to her.
He ducked behind the crates she had been behind, and quickly cradled her. She mumbled something to him before closing her eyes, which made Kanan’s heart sink.
He remembered something a boss of his once said, that getting hit by blasters in certain areas could make people pass out almost immediately from the pain. He knelt his head to her heart, and still could hear a heartbeat. He breathed a sigh of relief, and looked her over.
She was hit on the right side of her chest, though it didn’t seem to have hit a lung, thankfully. Kanan wasn’t a doctor, but it didn’t seem to be as bad as it could’ve been. He held her tight to him with one arm, and spun his gun to quickly dispatch the stormtroopers that had been firing at them. Adrenaline and fear seemed to greatly improve his aim.
He remembered taking her back to the Ghost, ripping her shirt off (he’d sew it back together later), and cleaning it all best he could. Kanan smeared probably more bacta than necessary over the wound and he bandaged her quickly.
For the first time in years, he prayed to the Force as he paced around her bed, and didn’t stop until she woke up and chided him about her shirt.
Kanan watched Hera walk away with a small smile on his face. She’d looked even more stunning than usual when her face had been highlighted by the different colors of Sabine’s fireworks.
Ezra tapped his arm. “Did you tell her it was my birthday?”
Kanan nodded, and looked back towards Ezra as he saw Hera disappear into the crowd for good. “Yeah, that okay?”
Ezra nodded, and Kanan ruffled his hair gently. “I just want you to have a good birthday, that’s all,” Kanan said.
Kanan himself had never had a real birthday party. The Jedi didn’t exactly do that sort of thing: even as a youngling, a birthday just meant extra dessert at dinnertime and a small present from the caretakers. He wanted to do better for Ezra, with a cake and a couple of presents.
And a family.
Kanan saw what must have the TIE Advanced, sitting on its platform, be pulled through the parade. It looked almost exactly like a normal TIE Fighter, except its wings were curved around the center cockpit, rather than just flat. Kanan didn’t understand enough about ships to understand how much of an improvement that could possibly be, though Hera probably did. He nudged Ezra, and motioned towards the TIE with his head.
“That’s our target. When it gets to the end, I’m gonna sneak through and put the charges around it, and you gotta keep an eye out, remember?”
Ezra nodded, and kept his eyes glued on the TIE, even as Sabine’s fireworks continued.
“She must have brought a lot of those,” Kanan commented.
Ezra laughed, but still watched the TIE. It passed them, and was slowing down a lot.
“Let’s go,” Ezra said quickly.
Kanan nodded, and they both pushed their way through the crowd, Kanan holding tight onto the bag of explosives. They saw the TIE Advanced get to the end and stop, near where an Imperial officer, an ISB agent, a TIE pilot and the tall-hatted form of Minister Tua all stood on a podium. Tua was giving another one of the speeches he’d used to hear at Old Jho’s, though he’d only ever caught the beginnings before Jho got annoyed and turned them off.
If everything went well, Tua would probably get interrupted again.
Kanan ducked low, and peeked out of cover to examine everything. Security was surprisingly lax, but they had stormtroopers where it was most important. Kanan knew he would have to take a long way around the back if he wanted to set the charges without getting caught by anyone.
“Keep an eye out, Ezra,” Kanan said. “But stay safe.”
Kanan, keeping himself at a low crouch, snuck around a tank, all the way back until he was far behind the TIE. He scanned the area again quickly- there were no particularly threatening stormtroopers- and he crept closer to the TIE fighter, only stopping to hide behind a crate whenever one of Sabine’s fireworks lit up the sky, which Tua seemed annoyed by as she tried to speak.
He hid behind the TIE itself once he was close enough, and opened his bag, and pulled out one of the charges. He activated the magnet, and stuck it around the mobile platform that the ship sat on. He went across the back of the platform- the sides and front were far too dangerous to even try- sticking charges on different points across the side, bottom and top of the platform.
He shouldered the bag, now a lot lighter without any of the explosives in it, and crept slowly back to Ezra, who was beckoning him with his hand. Kanan straightened up when he got back to Ezra, and put a hand over his shoulders as they started to walk back to join the crowd.
“Anyone see me?”
“I don’t think so. Let’s just find a place to comm Sabine and Zeb.”
Kanan and Ezra pushed through the crowd, to get to a more open area to comm Sabine and Zeb. The stormtrooper from earlier called after them as they passed.
“Hey, where’s your wife?”
Kanan and Ezra froze, and Kanan slowly turned around.
“My wife,” Kanan said slowly. “She, uh, she wasn’t feeling well. Went home early, we’re going to check on her.”
“Alright, have a good night, citizen.”
They continued walking, and Kanan had a bit of extra bounce in his step now.
“My wife” sounded awfully nice.
Ezra pulled his comm up as they got out. “Sabi- er, Spectre Five, everything is ready.”
“Good,” she said. “Because I’m starting to run low on fireworks.”
“Go whenever you’re ready,” Kanan said into Ezra’s comm. “We’ll meet with you.”
“Affirmative, Spectre One.”
The fireworks broke their rhythm, and there was a long pause. Kanan could hear Tua’s speech more clearly.
A loud explosion ripped through the air, and the TIE Advanced exploded. The crowd of the parade started to run in every direction, loud screams and chattering ripping through the air, soon joined by a loud Imperial klaxon. Kanan pulled Ezra into a small nook in a building, and they watched for Zeb and Sabine. They weren’t hard to spot, behind Sabine’s bright armor, Zeb’s height, and the fact that the street where the parade had just occurred was almost completely cleared.
Sabine started running towards them towards the rendezvous, but Zeb stopped suddenly, staring at where the TIE had exploded. Kanan looked at Ezra, confused, and patted his shoulder.
“Stay here, kid,” Kanan said. He ducked out of their spot and pushed through what remained of the running crowd. He passed Sabine.
“What are you doing?” she asked as she ran by.
“Go with Ezra, I’m getting Zeb.”
By the time Kanan had got to Zeb, he was still just staring, though Kanan noted it was at the ISB officer, who was deep in conversation with Minister Tua and the Imperial officer.
“Zeb, what’s wrong?”
“He has a bo-rifle.”
Kanan looked at the weapon Zeb had slung across his back, and it looked similar enough to the one that the ISB agent was holding, though his was a lot sleeker and more Imperial-esque than Zeb’s.
“Only the Honor Guard of Lasan carried those,” Zeb said, pulling his off his back and quickly setting it into the rifle configuration. “He shouldn’t have one.”
“Zeb, no, the mission, we can’t-”
Zeb started firing at the scrambling Imperials, though they were too far and there was too much smoke from the explosion for Zeb to land a hit. Tua and the officer both immediately cowered and hid behind their podium, and the ISB agent in question lifted his weapon, which he’d already had at the ready since the explosion, and started firing back at Zeb.
Kanan tugged on Zeb’s arm, trying to pull him away as the blaster bolts whizzed past them. “We’re out in the open, we gotta go!”
Reluctantly, Zeb followed him, and they both started to run back to join the kids. The ISB agent continued to fire at them, and their dodges were getting narrower and narrower.
He heard the ISB agent fire again and Kanan felt a sudden, burning pain rip through his chest as they ran, and he stumbled and fell onto the street. He tried to push himself up, but the pain became more and more unbearable with every ounce of effort.
His vision started to get darker, and he could see Zeb’s feet stop and turn around back towards him.
He possibly heard Ezra cry out his name, but his ears were ringing.
Kanan blacked out just in time to feel himself getting scooped up by arms much larger than his.
Dun dun DUNNNNN!
Thanks for reading!
Hera was sitting on Sabine’s top bunk with her at the very end with her legs hanging off the side, while Sabine was sitting up against the side, her legs spread towards Hera. She had one pant leg rolled up, allowing Hera to finishing dressing Sabine’s wound.
“Did they get you anywhere else?”
Sabine shook her head. It had taken a lot of convincing to get her to let Hera take care of the injury for her- in fact, the only reason Hera knew about it in the first place was that she had caught Sabine trying to do it herself in the bathroom. Since Hera had gotten her permission to help, Sabine hadn’t said a word.
“Alright,” Hera said. “You should rest for a while, I don’t think it will be good to put weight on this, okay? Keep your comm by you, we’ll get you anything you need, and help however we can.”
Sabine nodded, and then pointed down below them.
“My sketchbook is on the table,” she said quietly. “Do you mind-?”
Hera nodded, and slowly climbed down the ladder of Sabine’s bunk. She took the sketchbook and the pen on top of it from the table below her bed, and handed it up to Sabine, who nodded gratefully.
“Food, drink, anything, just call Zeb or I.”
Sabine nodded, and Hera started to leave.
“Thank you, Hera. For everything.”
Hera turned back around and smiled warmly at her.
“You’re part of the family now, Sabine. Me, you, Chopper and Zeb. We take care of each other, right?”
Sabine smiled. “Right.”
It was small, and it had taken time, but the trust in Sabine’s voice was unmistakable.
Hera traced over Chopper’s dome. Sabine had repainted him a little while ago, (which he more than needed- Hera was good at maintaining all of his systems, but that was the one thing she tended to neglect) but the paint was starting to chip again.
“You’ll have to ask Sabine to paint you again.”
Chopper warbled in alarm, and Hera laughed. “The same color Chop, you just need a touch-up.”
Chopper told her that she needed a touch-up, and Hera shook her head.
She tapped her fingers on the Phantom ’s console. She hadn’t heard anything from the rest of the crew yet. She tried to remind herself that no news was good news, but she was still nervous. The booming of the fireworks stopped, and Hera looked up, bracing herself for the explosion of the TIE Fighter, which came just a few moments later. Hera waited for her comm to beep, but it didn’t.
She picked the comm up, and lifted it to her face.
“What’s going on out there?”
“We’re on our way to the pick-up point,” Zeb said, much to Hera’s relief. “Be ready for us.”
He sounded slightly out of breath, and Hera knew him well enough to know that there was also a panic in his voice.
“Is everything okay?”
Zeb didn’t answer, and Hera’s heart sank. She opened the back of the Phantom up and poked her head outside to look and see if she could see them coming. A small group of TIE fighters roared overhead- they’d definitely caught the Empire’s attention. She saw Sabine and Ezra quickly round the corner, and a few moments after them, Zeb did too.
And he was carrying Kanan, who wasn’t moving.
She felt the blood drain from her face.
Sabine and Ezra got to the Phantom first- Hera could see tears in Ezra’s eyes when he got to her. Sabine immediately took the emergency medkit from a box underneath one of the seats- it wasn’t as big as the one on the Ghost , but it was all they had on hand.
At least she’s getting a medkit , Hera thought. That means it could be worse, right?
Hera could feel her heart pounding as Zeb got closer.
Kanan had been shot in the chest.
Hera watched Zeb lay him across some of the seats, and Hera sat down into the pilot’s chair, shakily working on booting the ship up. Sabine had opened the medkit and was looking through all of the supplies, while Zeb’s large claws fumbled with the clasps on Kanan’s armor.
“Damn things are too small,” Zeb mumbled. “Ezra, can you help?”
“Y- yeah, I can try,” Ezra stammered. He came closer to Zeb, and helped undo the armor and slide it off his arm. The pieces clattered onto the floor- no one could be bothered to pick them up in that moment. Zeb started pulling Kanan’s one-sleeved, greenish shirt up, and then his black undershirt.
Armored feet on pavement could be heard closer to the Phantom .
“They boarded that ship!” a stormtrooper called.
Hera quickly closed the back of the ship and took off, flying away from the city while she heard Sabine, Zeb and Ezra all working on Kanan.
Hera heard TIE fighters flying behind her, and checked the monitor- there were three after her. Hera swallowed hard. She needed to focus on flying, or none of them would make it.
“Chopper, I need you to man the guns,”
Chopper plugged himself into the ship’s console and grumbled in agreement. Hera turned the ship towards a cluster of rock spires, forming a quick, impulsive plan.
“Can you all hold on back there?”
“We’ll try,” Sabine replied quickly.
Hera turned the ship onto its side to fly through the spires, though not as quickly as she usually would. She jerked the ship a little bit to curve around one of the spires, and the three TIEs tried to match her to follow, though the one on the edge of the formation caught its wing on the side of the rock, and spiraled into another one nearby.
Hera let the rush of flying take over her, and tried to put everything else out of her mind. She straightened out a bit as she flew through a more clear spot in the cluster, swaying the ship back and forth slightly to keep from getting hit.
The Phantom ’s cannon fired backward, and another blip disappeared from her screen. Hera grinned, and curved around another rock spire. She started to weave through the cluster- this patch was particularly dense, and made a sharp turn around one side. She slowed the ship down quickly and stuck the ship against the side of the largest spire in the entire cluster, and waited as the TIE rounded the corner she did, and continued straight, looking for her.
With a smirk, Hera pulled the Phantom off, back into the air and spun quickly to follow the TIE fighter.
“Chop, you’ve got a clear sh-”
She was cut off by the sound of the Phantom ’s main two guns firing quickly at the TIE, and it exploded in front of Hera. Hera let out a deep breath, and turned to head towards the Ghost ’s spot.
“How is he?” Hera asked.
There was silence for a few moments, and Hera felt a lump in her throat.
“I think he’ll be okay,” Zeb said finally.
Hera nodded, as the Ghost came into view below them. “Good, that’s good.”
Kanan had been laid down in his bed as soon as they got back to the ship, with his wound cleaned and a bacta patch over it. Hera stopped Ezra as Zeb and Sabine took him to his room, and put a hand on his shoulder.
“Hey,” she said gently. “Are you okay?”
Ezra nodded, and Hera smiled at him.
“Kanan will be alright. Back when we were together, we both would get hit all the time,” she said. “It’s part of what we do.”
Ezra nodded again, looking down, Hera heard him sniffle quietly, and suddenly he collided with her, hugging her tightly. Hera hugged him back quickly, and felt him bury his face into her shoulder.
“It’s okay,” Hera said. “It’s okay.”
He clung onto her for a few moments more, and then finally stepped back, wiping at his tears.
“Don’t apologize, Ezra.”
Sabine and Zeb came back out, and Zeb rested one of his large hands on Ezra’s head, moving his head around,while Ezra scrunched up his face in a small show of protest.
“Let’s get a little something to eat in us, alright Ezra?”
“When do you think Kanan will wake up?” Ezra asked.
“Probably soon,” Sabine answered, on the way back to her room.
Hera smiled at her as she passed, and then Zeb threw an arm around Ezra, trying to keep the mood light as he started to pull him back to the kitchen.
“You coming, Hera?”
“I’ll be there in a minute,” Hera said. “Don’t open the door on the bottom drawer of the fridge, okay?”
That was where Kanan had put Ezra’s cake.
“We won’t,” Zeb called back.
Hera folded her arms, rubbing her hands gently. She walked backwards a few steps, and then turned all the way around and went into Kanan’s room. Both of his shirts, each with a hole through the chest that they’d have to fix later, were folded and sitting by his head, and Kanan was laying on his bed, a bacta patch on his chest where the wound was.
Hera walked over next to his bed, and adjusted his head so it was straighter on the pillow, and her fingers brushed through his hair as she did. Hera smiled tearily, and crouched down next to his bed. Close up, and in the quiet, she could see the gentle rise and fall of his chest, and it was comforting to see him look so peaceful.
“Hey love,” she whispered.
The years she’d spent not saying it had never felt so real.
Thank you so much for reading! Whenever I get an email about comments or kudos, it always puts a smile on my face. It's crazy to think that real people actually read what I write <3 I appreciate you all so much!
Chapter 23: Birthday
“This is where you used to live?”
Ezra nodded. He’d gotten a lot quieter since they’d gone into the house, and Kanan was looking around. It was in obvious disrepair, and it was old and everything was covered in dust. Kanan was walking around, and he tripped over a small lip in the floor.
“That’s the basement,” Ezra said. He came over and lifted the top off, revealing a small ladder. Kanan looked at Ezra.
“Can I go down?”
Kanan climbed down the ladder, and looked around the small basement. There was… recording equipment. It was old, and it looked partially destroyed, but there was a lot of it. Kanan stepped on something, and picked up a small, round disk from the floor.
It was a file for a holograph. It needed a lot of cleaning before you could put it in any holoprojector (and it wasn’t like Kanan and Ezra had one anywhere- the tower had an old one built into it, but it wasn’t working), but Kanan tucked it into his pocket anyway.
Kanan climbed back up the ladder, and walked over to Ezra, and gently put a hand on his shoulder.
“Thank you for showing me,” Kanan said quietly.
Ezra nodded, and gave him a small smile.
“Yeah,” he said. “Let’s just go home.”
Kanan opened his eyes slowly, and blinked a few times. He was in his room in the Ghost , based on the fact that he could see the bunk above him. He sat up, feeling a burning in his chest, but looked around. Hera was by his bed, and she smiled at him, though there was a definite worry in her eyes.
“How are you feeling? Are you okay?” Hera asked.
“Could be better,” Kanan admitted with a small laugh. “Just toeing the line between life and death, as usual.”
She rolled her eyes in response. “That is only funny because you’re still alive.”
Her tone was firm, but she had a relieved smile on her face.
“Hey, it’s part of the job, right?”
Hera nodded. “I guess so,” she said. “What do you remember?”
“I got shot,” Kanan said. “And I fell.”
Hera nodded. “That sounds about right. Zeb got you, he carried you back.”
Kanan swallowed hard, considering her face. “It’s still Ezra’s birthday, right?”
Hera chuckled. “Yeah, it’s still Ezra’s birthday.”
“Good,” Kanan said. He stood up, wincing as the motion caused pain to shoot in his chest, but he kept going through it. He went under his bed, taking Ezra’s presents out from a drawer.
“Kanan, I don’t think you should be-”
“I’m fine, Kanan said.”
He grabbed for his black undershirt, which was folded by his bed, but when he lifted it he saw a hole in it. Hera grimaced a little bit.
“We’ll fix it, Kanan, but you really should be resting.”
Kanan dropped the shirt, fine with going bare-chested (though it left his bacta patch exposed), and he started walking towards the door of his room.
Hera stepped in front of him. “You should stay in bed, Kanan.”
“I will, after we’re done.”
Hera shook her head. “Get back in bed.”
Hera’s eyes drifted down to the bacta patch on his chest, and she chewed on her bottom lip for a moment.
“We can have his birthday in here,” she said. “You can be in bed, and I’ll bring the cake, and everybody can just be in here for it. Does that work?”
Kanan considered her proposition. The pain in his chest was practically begging him to agree with her, so he nodded.
“Alright,” he replied, slowly backing up, and sitting down on the bottom bunk.
Hera smiled at him, and opened the door. “I’ll go tell everyone.”
She stepped out, and Kanan couldn’t help but feel warm from how she’d been caring about him so much. He heard her knock on Sabine’s door, and then go towards the kitchen and call for Zeb and Ezra, and then call for Chopper somewhere.
Ezra got to his room even before Sabine did, crashing into the bottom bunk. He went for a hug, but Kanan put a hand up, and then pointed at the bacta patch. Ezra looked down guiltily, scooting over a little bit, but still sitting on the bed next to Kanan.
“Sorry,” he said.
Kanan laughed and shook his head. “It’s alright, kid.”
Sabine and Zeb came in a few moments later, followed by Chopper. Zeb looked even more guilty than Ezra did.
“I wanna apologize,” Zeb said, his voice low. “It was my fault. I should’ve just run.”
“It’s alright, Zeb. Besides, you owed me one,” Kanan joked.
Hera came in, holding Ezra’s cake, which Kanan had frosted with blue that morning and decorated with small jogan fruit slices. It was a little sloppily done, but in his defense, just because he could cook didn’t mean that he could decorate a cake. Ezra stared at the cake in awe, as did Sabine and Zeb.
“What’s this for?” Sabine asked.
Hera smiled as she pulled a small table from the corner towards the bed with her foot. “It’s Ezra’s birthday.”
Ezra looked at Kanan, clearly embarrassed, but Kanan just smiled and tried to put an arm around him, before deciding against it as pain shot through his shoulder.
“He’s fifteen today,” Kanan said. He watched Hera sit the cake down in front of the bed, where he and Ezra were sitting. He looked down at the cake, and then cursed under his breath.
“I’m sorry, Ezra, I forgot to get candles.”
“It’s okay,” Ezra said, a big smile on his face, with his eyes still locked onto the cake in front of him.
Hera’s face caught the corner of his eye, and Kanan looked at her. She was thinking, and Kanan raised an eyebrow. She reached into the pocket of her flightsuit, and fished out some pieces Kanan couldn’t see, and took to working with them in her hands. It only took a moment, but she held out what she had made in front of her to show Kanan.
It was a makeshift candle, formed out of a piece of repair wax usually used to patch up ships in emergencies, with a wick made out of a scrap of the twine that Hera used to bundle spare screws and bolts with. Kanan grinned at her.
“That’s perfect, Hera,” he said. Hera smiled and stuck the candle into the cake.
“Glad to help,” she said. “Chopper, do you think-”
Chopper extended his blowtorch tool, and lit the top of the twine, which cast an orange glow on the crew as they watched.
“Should we sing?” Zeb asked.
“Please don’t,” Ezra answered.
The crew all laughed, even Chopper making warbles that matched their laughter.
“Happy birthday, Ezra Bridger,” Sabine said, and Zeb and Hera both repeated it in unison. Chopper did too, earning him an affectionate pat from Hera.
Ezra leaned forward and blew out the candle, and Kanan smiled at him.
“Happy birthday, Ezra.”
Ezra nodded, and wiped his eyes quickly with the back of his sleeve. Kanan put an arm around him and pulled him close to his non-injured side, ignoring the pain that time.
“I’ll get plates and forks,” Hera said, leaving quickly for the kitchen.
“I have presents for you too,” Kanan said.
“We would’ve got you presents, if we knew about it,” Zeb grumbled. Sabine jabbed him with an elbow, and Kanan shook his head. When Hera came back, she cut the cake and gave everybody a plate and fork.
Kanan watched Ezra smiling and laughing as he ate his cake and watched Sabine and Zeb argue over who got the last piece, and felt happier than he had in a very long time.
Hera and Zeb didn’t let Kanan help clean up after everyone ate. Since it was late, Sabine and Zeb went to bed after they cleaned up, and Ezra was in the bathroom, showering before bed. Kanan had (with some difficulty, considering moving his arm caused pain) taken off his boots and changed out of his normal pants into softer ones, and was still sitting in his bed, waiting to give Ezra his presents when he came back from the shower.
Someone knocked on the door twice, and then it opened and he saw Hera, also in her sleepclothes.
Kanan tried to keep himself from staring as she came closer, and sat next to him on the bed. She was sitting very close, and Kanan swallowed nervously.
“Here’s the little holoprojector you asked for,” Hera said, handing it to him. “I’m assuming you need it for one of his gifts?”
Kanan nodded. “Yeah, thank you.”
Hera smiled at him. “Ezra seemed really happy.”
Kanan nodded, smiling back at her. “It was the least I could do for him. He’s been through a lot.”
“I can tell. I think we all have,” Hera said as she rubbed his shoulder. “You’re a really good dad to him, you know,” she said. “He’s lucky he met you.”
“I don’t know about that. I- I’m just trying my best.”
“I know you are,” Hera said. “Although, apparently I’m his mom too.”
Kanan laughed. “Apparently.”
“I never did get those snacks you brought,” she said, laughing too.
“You had cake!”
She sighed after a moment and moved her gaze to the floor, saying something so quiet that he couldn’t quite make it out.
“What?” Kanan asked.
“I was really worried about you,” Hera repeated, louder this time. She looked up at him, meeting his eyes. “When I first saw Zeb carrying you, I-”
Hera swallowed hard, and she folded her arms. “I was scared,” she admitted, and Kanan realized he’d never heard her say that before. “I thought I was going to lose you- for real this time.”
Kanan smiled sadly, his gaze still locked with hers. He chuckled in an attempt to lighten the mood. “Hey, you know it takes more than a single blaster bolt to take me down. This time around, I think you’ll be stuck with me for a while.”
Hera smiled at him, snorting quietly. “I’m holding you to that.”
She leaned in and kissed his cheek gently before standing up. Kanan’s eyes widened, and he felt his face heat up as she started to walk away.
“Good night, Kanan.”
“Mmhmm, yeah, good night,” he replied quickly, his face feeling a thousand times warmer now. He picked up his pillow and pressed his face into it and groaned loudly, burying himself into it.
The door opened suddenly, and Kanan heard Ezra’s amused laugh. He set the pillow back down, and saw Ezra standing there in his long pajamas, his hair still wet.
“Are you okay?” Ezra said, still laughing.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Kanan said. He beckoned Ezra to come and sit down next to him, and Ezra did. Kanan smiled at him.
“This wasn’t… exactly what I planned for your birthday. I would’ve liked to have it in the kitchen with everybody, and some more food, and not so late, and-”
“I liked it how we had it,” Ezra said, cutting him off.
Kanan smiled at him, his heart swelling a little bit. “I’m glad you did. You want your presents now?”
Ezra nodded eagerly, and Kanan laughed, and handed Ezra his gifts. The first was just in an envelope, and the second one was in a small box.
“They’re not much,” Kanan admitted, as Ezra opened it. It was a handwritten card with some credits and a holograph disk. The card was simple- Kanan hadn’t even tried to draw anything, focusing his energy on the note inside- telling Ezra how proud he was of him, how grateful he was for him, and of course, happy birthday.
Ezra smiled as he read it, and pulled the credits out of the card. He set the credits aside, and then picked up the box, unwrapping the flimsiplast Kanan had covered it with. Ezra opened the top off, and then picked up the holodisk, turning it over in his fingers and examining it.
“It’s a holodisk,” Ezra said.
Kanan lifted the small holoprojector that Hera had given him. “Yeah. I found that a while ago, when you took me to your old house, and cleaned it up for you.”
Ezra took the holoprojector, and plugged his disk into it. Kanan clicked it on for him, and the holograph appeared in the air.
The picture that floated in front of them was of a tiny Ezra, laughing with who Kanan could only assume were his mother and father. Kanan smiled, and put his arm around Ezra. Pain shot through his arm from lifting it too much, but he grimaced and pushed past it.
“Thank you,” Ezra said softly. The emotion in his voice was rawer than Kanan had ever heard in his time living with Ezra.
Kanan smiled at him.
Maybe Hera wasn’t wrong about him being a good dad.
Of course, Hera was hardly wrong about anything.
Chapter 24: Armor
Hera heard Zeb’s voice from the common room on her way there.
“I love it, Sabine, it’s perfect.”
Hera smiled as she walked in on Sabine showing Zeb his armor, though she’d added some design to it. The pattern of muted lighter and darker greens was now broken up by a stylized teal creature with a wide, toothy grin and angry eyes, with the back ends of the design spreading out onto his chest.
“Hey, that looks good!”
Sabine turned around, beaming. “You like it?”
Hera nodded and came closer, looking at the armor that Sabine was holding. It looked even larger in her arms than it usually did. Hera looked at the design up close, and then at Zeb.
“It’s very… you.”
Zeb laughed, and Sabine looked back at him, still smiling. Hera had never seen Sabine smile so much, and it made Hera smile too.
“Let me try it on,” Zeb said, reaching for it. Sabine gave it to him, and he put it up onto his shoulders. He grinned at both Sabine and Hera.
“How does it look?”
Hera smiled at him, and then at Sabine.
“It looks great.”
Sabine smiled at Hera, and then pointed at Hera’s leather shoulder armor.
“Maybe I can do yours next.”
Hera laughed. “I’m not sure about that. But we’ll see.”
“Hey, Chop, Sabine did paint you up!”
Chopper let out a short, low sound that Hera could only really describe as a grunt as he rolled by, and she shook her head and laughed.
“It looks good!” Hera called back at him. She kept walking, down towards the cockpit, and when she opened the door, she was greeted by the sight of Kanan sitting in the co-pilot’s seat. He smiled when she came in.
Hera smiled back at him, and sat down in the pilot’s seat next to him.
“How’s your… injury?” Hera asked, her eyes drifting down to his chest for just a moment.
Kanan’s hand slowly moved up to where he had been shot.
“It’s alright,” he answered. “It’s pretty much just a scar now. We’ll need to restock on bacta, though”
“That’s good. About the injury, not the bacta. I’ve got bacta on the list, though.”
“Sorry about that,” Kanan said, averting his eyes from her.
“It was worth it, Kanan. We’re all glad you’re okay.”
Kanan smiled at her. “Yeah, I am too.”
They both looked at each other for a moment, and Hera bit her bottom lip.
The crew had taken it a little easier in the weeks since Kanan got injured. They wanted to give him time to heal, and they all needed some rest after the biggest stunt they’d ever pulled with the Empire.
“Have you seen Chopper? Sabine gave him a fresh coat of paint.”
“Yeah, I have, Kanan said. It looks good. Sabine is painting my armor right now, actually.”
“Yeah. She said it doesn’t match my jacket well enough, and she thinks it’s too bland, so she offered to paint it for me.”
Hera laughed. “I know she sounds harsh, but I promise you that that’s just her way of being nice.”
“I figured,” Kanan replied, laughing with her. “She’s a nice kid.”
“Once she warms up to you,” Hera pointed out.
“True. So, uh… got an idea for the next mission? I want to know when I’ll get to take out my freshly-painted armor.”
Hera shook her head. “Nothing yet. I’ve been keeping an eye on Imperial transmissions, but I’m not seeing anything too exciting. Soon, hopefully.”
Kanan smiled at her. “Well, you don’t have to wait on me any longer. I’m ready for another mission whenever you are.”
“As long as you’re careful with yourself,” Hera said. “I wouldn’t want to make things worse.”
Kanan’s eyes twinkled as he looked at her, and Hera felt her heart jump a little bit.
“I will be. And besides, I can tell that you’re getting antsy sitting in here too.”
Hera laughed, still looking into his eyes. She’d always loved them- they were so beautiful.
“Yeah, I think I have,” she said.
There were two knocks on the door, startling Hera.
Sabine came in through the doors, holding Kanan’s armor pieces in her arms. Kanan raised his eyebrows, smiling at her.
“You finished already?”
“Mmhmm,” she said proudly. “What do you think of the color?”
The color was similar, though know the green was much richer and just slightly darker than it once was. It was smoother and more even too, Sabine had managed to cover up the scuffs and scratches that Kanan’s armor sported.
“It looks great, Sabine!” Kanan said. Hera smiled at him, and then back at Sabine. She handed him most of the arm pieces, but still kept a hold on the shoulderbell, though she had the outside held to her.
“Ready to see the design?” Sabine asked.
Hera nodded, and she could see Kanan nodding too. Beaming, Sabine turned the shoulderbell around. There was a white mark on the shoulderbell, a design with three prongs pointed up. It was almost like a version of Sabine’s starbird, or (not that Sabine could’ve known) the Jedi symbol that Hera remembered from the Clone Wars.
“What do you think?”
“It’s perfect, Sabine, thank you,” Kanan said. She handed the armor piece to him, and Kanan took it, tracing his finger around the design. Hera leaned over to look at it more clearly, admiring the design and smiling. She looked up and met Kanan’s eyes, and they both smiled at each other, and Hera couldn’t help but notice how close their faces are.
“Well…” Sabine said slowly. “I’ll leave you two, I guess.”
Sabine backed out slowly, and Hera and Kanan both laughed and shook their heads.
“Kids,” Kanan said, and Hera nodded, still laughing.
“Kids,” she agreed.
Hera swallowed hard. “I do… um, I do want to talk to you. About some stuff.”
Kanan frowned. “What kind of stuff?”
Hera pressed her lips together. “About… us.”
Kanan straightened up a little bit, nodding slowly. “Oh, uh, yeah, okay, us. What about… us?”
Hera’s face was warm, and she felt like sirens were going off in her head. Somehow she hadn’t really thought about this part. She had thought about starting the conversation, and then she’d thought about what might happen after they talked, but the in-between had apparently eluded her.
“Well, I’ve just been thinking, you know, that we’ve been living together a little while now, and we’re getting along, and everything seems to be… working out. And last time we did that, we were… you know, so…”
Hera’s voice trailed off, and the corners of Kanan’s mouth had turned up a little bit as he looked into her eyes. Kanan had always been the one that was better at talking about this stuff (though he would also get nervous, especially when they were new together), but Hera couldn’t wait for him to say something. She felt her heart pounding. It was hard, but she was getting closer and closer.
“So?” Kanan asked.
“I mean, I guess I’m asking if… if-”
A comm channel beeped on the cockpit’s console, and it drew Hera’s attention and she looked at it quickly, then back at Kanan, but she frowned and looked back at the small screen again.
Hera slowly moved her hand to answer. “It’s from Tarkintown, but they never call.”
She answered the call, and leaned in.
“This is the Ghost ,” she said. “Is there a problem?”
“Yes,” said a ragged voice from the other end of the call. “We’ve spotted Imperial troop transports heading in our direction. We don’t know what they’re planning, but… we need help, please.”
“We’ll help you,” Hera said firmly. “We’ll be there as soon as we can, just hold on.”
Hera looked up at Kanan. “Tell the others to get ready,” she said quickly. He nodded and got up out of his seat as Hera started flipping systems on for the Ghost . Kanan left the cockpit, holding all of the armor that Sabine had just painted for him.
They’d have to talk later.
Kanan and Hera were pinned down.
While having a crew of two (plus droid) was efficient because they needed less food, ammunition, and medical supplies, it also meant they were always very outnumbered when it came to firefights.
But Kanan hardly worried about them. When they were together, they had yet to find a fight they couldn’t win.
Well, maybe not win. But they always both made it away in one piece, and that was infinitely more important to Kanan than winning.
Both tucked into an indent in the wall, Hera’s back was pressed close to Kanan, as she occasionally peeked out into the blasterfire, firing a few times to keep the stormtroopers from advancing.
“If only we had some detonators left,” Hera said, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
Kanan shook his head. “You said to use all of them on the shipyard!”
“Well what do I know? It was your idea in the first place!”
If Kanan didn’t know her better, he’d have thought that she was mad at him. She turned around, smirking at Kanan. He raised an eyebrow at her.
“I bet if we go together, I’ll hit more than you,” he remarked.
“Fifteen credits,” she said, before raising her blaster and stepping out, and Kanan followed right at her heels, holding his own right with her.
“Everybody, we’re going to Tarkintown!”
Kanan was struggling not to drop the armor pieces as he walked towards his room in the Ghost .
“Why?” Sabine asked, leaning out the doorway of her room.
“The Empire is coming for them,” Kanan called. “Get ready!”
When he got back to his room, he dumped all of the armor onto his bed, and started putting on his jacket, which he’d recently stitched up. He lifted his belt and quickly put it on, and then put his blaster into the holster. He started putting on his newly-painted armor onto his arm, attaching it quickly. He flexed his arm with it on, making sure it was all moving properly, and started to turn around, but he stopped, and looked slowly towards one of the drawers in his room.
He didn’t know exactly why, but he was feeling the urge to do something he hadn’t done in a very long time.
It was more than an urge. He was being told to do it.
He opened the drawer. His lightsaber was in pieces, and Kanan kept it that way, attaching them to his back on his belt.
I won’t use it , Kanan reasoned with himself. But if the Force is telling me to bring it along, then it can’t hurt to do that.
He turned around, and left his room.
“Zeb? Sabine? You both getting ready?”
Zeb stepped out, armor snapped on and his bo-rifle in his hands. “How soon are we getting there?”
“Soon,” Kanan answered. Sabine came out of her room, holding her helmet in her hands.
“Are we all going?”
“Yes,” Kanan said. Ezra came out of the bathroom.
“Yes, really,” Kanan said. “Go get ready. But you have to stick with me once the fighting starts.”
“Can I use my slingshot?”
“Absolutely,” Kanan said. Ezra grinned and quickly pushed past him to get to their room.
Zeb snorted. “Kid has a slingshot?”
“Yeah, an energy slingshot” Kanan said, as he started to walk back towards the cockpit. “It’s not lethal, but it can work for us.”
When he got back to the cockpit, he could see Tarkintown in the distance through the viewport, but his eyes were more drawn to Hera, sitting in the pilot’s seat, and all he could think about was the conversation they’d been having earlier. That was one of the things she used to chide him about- not focusing on the mission. The cause.
But how was he supposed to focus when they had been so close?
She’d want you to focus , he reminded himself.
“They’re ready,” Kanan said.
Kanan took the seat next to her, but she still didn’t look at him, focused straight ahead as she flew towards Tarkintown, and she slowly started to bring the Ghost down. Once it touched, she shut it off and immediately got out of her seat, and marched towards the cargo bay, and Kanan followed behind her. They passed Zeb, Sabine and Ezra, who also followed. Once they got down to the cargo bay, Hera slid down the ladder. Chopper was already down there, waiting for them.
Hera reached the button to open down the ramp, and stopped and turned around, looking over the crew.
“Whatever happens, keep your eyes on the mission, okay? We’re here to protect Tarkintown. They’re relying on us. But also…” she sighed, and smiled at them all. “Please be careful.”
Kanan met her eyes, and he wasn’t sure if it was his imagination, or if Hera actually gave him a little nod as she opened the ramp down. She watched the crew leave the ship, waiting for Kanan to go down, and then walked with him.
“You ready?” Hera asked.
“As I can be. Did they say how many transports?”
“No. We can ask them now.”
Kanan nodded, and then raised an eyebrow when Hera frowned and looked behind him, and it seemed like she was looking at his…
“Hera?” Kanan asked, his face flushing. “Are you really-?”
“Is that your lightsaber?” she whispered quickly.
Oh, that makes more sense.
“Uh, yeah I just… I had a feeling I should bring it,” Kanan confessed, his voice low. “I don’t know, it was like the Force wanted me to.”
Hera considered him for a few moments, and Kanan watched her nervously as her eyes flickered over his face, like she was analyzing his expression. She turned away, and sped up her pace as they walked, and Kanan matched her.
“The others are getting ahead of us,” she said. “Let’s see what we can do for Tarkintown, and how long we have until the Empire gets here.”
They got into Tarkintown, catching up with the rest of the crew, and they met with some of the people of the town. While Tarkintown didn’t have any official leadership structure that Kanan could tell, there were a few people that seemed to sort of run things and keep everybody taken care of.
A woman with her hair tightly pulled back and kept under a bandana stepped forward and clasped Hera’s hand.
“Thank you so much for coming,” she said, and Kanan from her voice Kanan figured that she was the one who had called. “I know it was sudden, but we’re all so grateful.”
“We’re here to help,” Hera replied. “Do you know how many transports are coming?”
“My son was climbing some of the spires, and he said he saw six in his rangefinders,” the woman answered, motioning towards a boy that looked to be even younger than Ezra. Zeb whistled.
“Six troop transports? That’s a lot of bucketheads.”
Kanan heard Zeb make a soft “oof” noise, and assumed that Sabine had elbowed or kicked him.
Hera smiled comfortingly at the woman, which seemed to put her at ease with just that- her ability to make people feel safe was one of the many traits Kanan had always admired about her.
“We can handle them, but can we get help from your people?” Hera asked. “If we can set up some defenses before they get here, it’ll be safer for everybody.”
The woman nodded. “Of course, of course. Some of us have blasters, too, and we can help fight once they get here.”
“Only if they want to.”
“They do,” the woman said. “We all want to defend each other.”
Hera nodded at her, and Kanan couldn’t help but notice her eyes flicking back to him and the rest of the crew, making his heart skip a beat. “I understand that completely.”
Thank you so much for reading!!!
Chapter 26: Defending Tarkintown II
Sorry for going so long without an update! I've just been crazy busy with life and stuff.
Hera yawned and stretched her neck, cracking it and groaning as she did so. She and Kanan had fallen asleep in the common room again, which was not a comfortable way to sleep. Kanan was already up- Hera always noticed that he only ever got up first when they were asleep together. Hera rubbed her mouth, and apparently she had been drooling (gross).
She rubbed her eyes groggily and stood up slowly, and heard some noise from the kitchen. When she walked in, she was hit by the delicious smells of Kanan’s cooking. Hera smiled at him, though it was still somewhat sleepily.
“What are we having today?”
“Just omelets,” Kanan answered. “Nothing special.”
“Sounds good,” she said, quickly going to the refresher to brush her teeth. When she came back, Kanan had finished one of the omelets, and it was sitting on the table. Hera sat down, and started to eat.
“You drooled on my chest all night, you know,” Kanan said with a laugh.
Hera snorted. “Sorry about that.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Kanan said. He finished the second omelet, and placed it on the table, across from her, but before he sat down to eat, he leaned over and kissed Hera gently. She smiled into the kiss.
“You taste like caf,” she said when he pulled away.
“Oh yeah,” Kanan replied. “Want some?”
“Of course I do.”
Kanan chuckled as he poured her a cup of it, and brought it over to her. Hera took a sip as Kanan finally got to eat breakfast with her, and Hera decided she wanted every morning to be like this.
Hera looked around Tarkintown- things were starting to shape up for a battle. Zeb was building some barricades, Sabine and Ezra were setting mines and explosives, and Chopper and Kanan were helping bring the children and elderly into the Ghost to hide. Hera’s eyes lingered on Kanan for a moment too long, and she smiled when she saw him say something to a young kid that earned him a laugh.
Putting everything to the side and focusing on the mission had always been easy for her. It was something that she knew Kanan was never really thrilled about, but it was how she was. But looking at Kanan helping people, she was itching to just jump back into the conversation they’d been having before they were interrupted. As long as it didn’t interfere with the cause, she really wanted to be with him again like they used to.
“Hera, can you come here a minute?” Zeb called. She could hear him straining, and turned back to see Zeb struggling with a piece of rock that had fallen off the top of barricade.
Hera jogged over to him.
“Just push it a little bit, I need a better grip,” Zeb said.
Hera helped Zeb shift the rock into his arms, and then she helped him push it up so that it was more secure on the wall. They both stepped back, and Zeb brushed his hands against his pants.
“Don’t worry about it. Let me help some more.”
Hera started lifting rocks with Zeb. Being much smaller than him, she couldn’t lift as much or reach as high, but her help definitely sped things up for the barricade.
“These will take regular blasterfire,” Zeb commented as they continued to build up the defenses. “But if they start using cannons, they won’t hold up.”
“We have to hope they don’t use cannons then.”
Zeb furrowed his brow at Hera as she handed him another large piece of stone. “That’s it?”
Hera sighed. “I don’t know, Zeb. We’ll need cover for a firefight, and a wall gives these people chances to run and hide. It slows the Empire down. It’s not perfect, but unless you have a better idea, then this is what we’ve got.”
Zeb’s ears flicked down to lay flat on his head for a few moments, and Hera immediately regretted snapping at him. He nodded slowly, eyeing her as he lifted up another rock.
“We’re gonna be fine, Hera. We can handle some stormtroopers.”
Hera handed him the last stone for the barricade, and when it was done, they both stepped back to admire what they’d done.
“Nice job, Zeb.”
“Everyone that isn’t fighting is on the Ghost ,” Kanan said. Hera turned around and smiled at him.
“That’s great. I think we might actually be able to pull this off.
“Have a little more faith,” Kanan replied with a chuckle.
Hera rolled her eyes. “I have faith. But… we’ve never even tried anything this big. This is… a real battle. We’re probably going to be heavily outnumbered.”
“We’re usually outnumbered,” Zeb pointed out. “And we do just fine.”
Kanan nodded, and Hera raised an eyebrow.
“Says the two who have gotten hurt on our recent missions.”
“But,” Kanan offered. “We’re fine. And ready to fight.”
Hera opened her mouth to retort, but she felt a tap on her shoulder from behind.
“Mines are ready,” Sabine said. “I haven’t had the chance to restock in a while, but the first transport will for sure be wiped out when it comes in, but that’s all.”
“We’ll take what we can get,” Hera said with a grateful smile. Thank you, Sabine. And you too, Ezra.”
Sabine nodded quickly, and Ezra beamed.
“Anything else for us to do?” Ezra asked.
Hera pressed her lips together, and looked around. The mines were set, the people of Tarkintown had armed themselves and were in position, and the barrier was up.
“I think that’s it,” Hera said. “The Empire shouldn’t know we knew they were coming, so we hopefully they came a little underprepared.”
Six troop transports didn’t sound underprepared, though Hera tried to kid herself some and hope that maybe they weren’t all full. And at least they didn’t have any walkers coming.
“Let’s get in position,” Hera said.
Her heart was already pounding.
They weren’t simply waiting for very long, though the suspense made it feel like hours. Hera could feel her palms sweating in her gloves as she kept a tight grip on her blaster. Tarkintown was deathly quiet, with everybody just waiting for the fight to come.
When she first heard the transports coming, she exchanged a quick look with Kanan, who also had his blaster at the ready. His lightsaber pieces were on the back of his belt still, and Hera got a prickly feeling in her stomach when she looked at them. He’d never carried them on a mission before, even on their most dangerous ones. Even though he said he wouldn’t use his lightsaber, the fact that he had brought the pieces at all made her even more nervous.
The transports got closer and closer, until Hera could tell they were almost right outside.
A fiery explosion was visible over the top of the barrier. Hera saw Sabine and Ezra bump fists from the corner of her eye, and checked to make sure her blaster was loaded.
The transports got even louder and faster, and a blaster cannon fired. Another explosion of rubble shot through the air, and when the dust died, part of the barrier had been blown, though it still wasn’t enough for one of the transports to get through. Through the hole in the barrier, Hera could see stormtroopers start to climb out of the transports, and blasterfire from her crew and the people of Tarkintown began, falling some of the stormtroopers before they could even take a shot.
It didn’t take long for the stormtroopers to begin firing back at them, and Hera took to ducking in and out of different spots for cover. A couple of explosives were thrown by Zeb and Sabine, who had wound up together for a few moments.
Hera ran out of cover and fired quickly at the stormtroopers, diving when too many of them noticed her. She ended up next to Sabine behind a stack of crates. Sabine nudged her, and offered her a thermal detonator.
“My last one. Want to do the honors?”
Hera smirked and took it. She turned it over in her hands, and after a few moments, primed it and stood up throwing it towards the Imperials. It went through the hole in the barrier, and Hera could just barely see it roll under the lead transport. Just a second later it exploded, and the transport it was under was thrown to the side.
“Nice,” Sabine said.
“That should leave four transports left, right?”
“I think we can handle them.”
Hera fired at some more stormtroopers, taking a couple down, but there were too many coming in through the hole in the barrier. When another one of the transports’ blaster cannon fired, expanding the hole so even more stormtroopers could come through at once, Hera groaned. She rolled to another point of cover when the one she and Sabine were behind was drawing too much fire, and ended up next to Ezra behind a rock from the barrier that had been thrown back by the cannons. Ezra was occasionally looking out from behind the rock to fire his slingshot at the stormtroopers. It wasn’t as fatal as a blaster, but it was keeping the stormtroopers from concentrating their fire and it did seem to do some damage.
“How are you holding up, Ezra?”
“Good,” he said quickly.
“Let me give you some more cover fire, okay?”
Chapter 27: Defending Tarkintown III
To make up for not posting for like a whole month, I've decided to post a second chapter today too! I hope you enjoy it!
“This is your lightsaber?”
Kanan nodded, and swallowed hard. He’d never showed his lightsaber to anybody else before- he’d never trusted anyone enough. But that changed with Hera.
A lot of things changed with Hera.
Hera turned it over in her hands, tracing her fingers over the lines in the metal.
“I saw glimpses of lightsabers when the Republic was fighting on Ryloth,” she said, still not taking her eyes off of it. “But I never got a good look, I was too young to really be on the battlefield.”
Kanan smiled at her as he watched her examining it. It was the first time he’d put all the pieces together in years as well. Hera finally looked up at him, her eyes wide in amazement.
“Can I turn it on?”
“Uh, sure,” Kanan said. “It’s that button, right there. Just be really careful.”
Hera stood up, and Kanan took a few steps back. She held the lightsaber out in front of her, pointing it straight up.
“How long will it be? I don’t want to mess up my ceiling.”
“You should be fine holding it there,” Kanan said.
Hera nodded, and pressed the button to ignite it, and the lightsaber flared to life, it’s low humm and blue glow filling the room. Hera smiled wide, and it made Kanan smile too, and he was glad he hadn’t gotten rid of his lightsaber like he had sometimes wanted to.
Kanan was used to firefights. He’d been in plenty, and never found one that he couldn’t survive so far.
It was battles that he hated. And Tarkintown was a battle.
Sure, it wasn’t the same as his first battle. He was older, there weren’t any clones or battle droids, and there weren’t Jedi either.
Well, there was one sort-of Jedi. But Kanan wasn’t sure if he counted anymore, even with his lightsaber on him.
He watched one of the Tarkintown fighters fall some yards away from him. The people of Tarkintown, resilient as they were, were not soldiers. Kanan could see that. And as well as they were holding out, he wasn’t sure how much longer they’d all hold out, especially considering how outnumbered they were.
When he looked over at Hera, next to Ezra behind a rock a little ways ahead of him, he could see that she was worried too. Though she hid it less than Kanan did.
A voice boomed from where the stormtroopers were.
“Stop this fighting now,” a core-worlds accent said. When Kanan peeked, he could see a hologram of the ISB agent that had shot him on their last mission. The man was without his helmet, Kanan could see slicked back light hair and muttonchops.
“Come peacefully, and you will be detained and relocated,” the agent continued.
A lucky blaster bolt- Kanan thought it was Zeb’s, but he wasn’t sure- went through the hologram, and hit the holoprojector coming off of the top of the troop transport, and the hologram fizzled out.
The fighting continued, and Kanan managed to take down a couple of stormtroopers, but they just kept coming. One threw a thermal detonator and, to Kanan’s horror, it landed and rolled just a few meters behind Hera and Ezra, and everything seemed to slow down.
Hera and Ezra weren’t reacting- they apparently didn’t hear it land or beep in the commotion of battle. Before Kanan could think about it, he extended a hand, and pushed the detonator back, away from them. It rolled for just a few seconds before exploding, damaging one of the makeshift Tarkintown buildings.
Hera and Ezra both turned around quickly, watching the explosion, and Hera protectively grabbed Ezra. Kanan sighed in relief, and looked ahead again. The agent was out, for real this time, firing towards them with a bo-rifle like Zeb’s, except it was more… Imperial.
Kanan heard a growling behind him as Zeb ducked behind the same pile of crates as him.
“Zeb, last time you pissed that guy off, I almost died.”
“I think he’s already pissed off. And you were fine.”
Kanan rolled his eyes. “Just be careful, big guy.”
“I’m not gonna rush in there, if that’s what you think,” Zeb said.
Zeb stood up, his bo-rifle in the rifle configuration, and fired a few times at the agent, but missed.
Kanan watched more stormtroopers start to flood in through the hole in the barrier. It was way more than he had initially thought, and he almost felt like for every stormtrooper that fell, two more were to take their place.
But that was how the Empire did things, wasn’t it? Overwhelm their opponents with numbers until they were too exhausted to keep fighting.
Kanan rolled behind another set of crates, next to Sabine. He flashed her a grin.
“You holding up?”
“Never been better,” Sabine said, though Kanan could hear some exhaustion in her voice. He was sure that if she didn’t have her helmet on, he would’ve seen it on her face too.
“That’s good to hear.”
Sabine nodded, leaning out from cover to shoot some more at the stormtroopers. Kanan looked around quickly. The Tarkintown people were being taken down, their numbers slowly dwindling. The crew was all still together, but a negative, worrying voice in Kanan’s head asked how much longer they could do that.
“I’m gonna go check on Hera and Ezra, alright?”
“Yeah, that’s fine,” Sabine said quickly, and Kanan could tell she wasn’t really listening.
Kanan kept low to the ground and a tight grip on his blaster as he made his way to Hera and Ezra’s rock, both cautiously and quickly, speeding up as he got closer, until he was right behind them.
“How are you feeling, Ezra?”
Ezra smiled at him. “I’m good.”
Kanan looked to Hera. She was making the face that she usually made when she wanted to talk to him, and Kanan nudged Ezra and pointed over towards Sabine.
“Sabine’s back there, do you see? Think you can make it over there and give her some more cover fire?”
Ezra nodded, and started to crawl over to Sabine.
“Be careful!” Kanan whispered as he left. He peeked out from behind the rock to make sure no one was going to fire at Ezra until he was back with Sabine. Kanan turned to Hera once he was gone.
“Are you okay?”
Hera sighed. “I don’t know how much longer-” she ducked down even lower as sparks flew up when some blaster bolts hit the rock. “I don’t know how much longer we’ll be able to keep this up. There’s too many of them, we’re losing people, and everyone left is pretty much pinned down- I’m trying to have hope, but I think we’re in over our heads.”
The metal pieces hanging from the back of his belt started to weigh Kanan down more, as if they were tugging at him, but he tried to ignore it.
“What’s the plan, then?”
“I don’t know, Kanan,” Hera said. Her voice was almost desperate. “We can try and evacuate everyone to the Ghost , but it would take so long… we’d lose a lot of people, if we even made it at all.”
The lightsaber pieces seemed to pull on his belt again.
Maybe it’s time.
“What do you think?” Hera asked.
Kanan swallowed hard, and let out a deep breath.
“I… I know what I have to do.”
Hera furrowed her brows. “I’m not liking your tone.”
Kanan holstered his blaster and then reached behind himself, and unclipped the lightsaber pieces from his belt. They felt much lighter in his hands than they did on his belt.
Hera’s eyes widened as she looked at them in his hands. “Kanan, no. You can’t, it’s too risky.”
“Do you have a better idea?”
“I- no, but-”
“I’ll be okay.”
I am one with the Force.
He ignored her. Slowly, Kanan stood up, and started to walk out towards the middle, into the crossfire. It didn’t take long for the firing from his side to cease, but the Imperials still fired at him, though they weren’t hitting him, though many came close.
“What the hell are you doing, mate?” Zeb called.
And the Force is with me.
Kanan clicked the pieces together, and they instantly felt lighter together rather than apart. They had come together for the first time after years apart, and it felt so much more right.
Kanan knew the feeling.
He held the lightsaber up, and ignited it, the blue blade flaring to life for the first time in too long.
It was then that the Imperials stopped firing in their shock, and Kanan couldn’t help his smug smirk.
Kanan could see the agent’s face, a mix of awe and rage. He leveled his rifle up and fired at Kanan, and a mix of adrenaline and old Jedi training kicked in, and Kanan deflected it as soon as it had been fired.
“Focus all fire on… on the Jedi!”
The stormtroopers listened, and Kanan was bombarded with blasterfire, and Kanan deflected it quickly. Fire from his side resumed, and with the stormtroopers preoccupied with only firing on Kanan, they were able to stay out of cover and longer and be much more effective.
Kanan wasn’t sure how long he’d been deflecting blasterbolts, but it was enough time for the stormtroopers numbers to dwindle very quickly from both his deflections and the firing from Tarkintown. When he noticed that some of the stormtroopers had started to pull back through the hole in the barrier, he twirled his lightsaber and started to charge towards the agent, who backed up with his troops.
“All units, fall back!” the agent called. Kanan stopped, still holding his lightsaber as they left, crawling onto the transports and quickly driving away from Tarkintown. Kanan’s heart was still pounding, and he was breathing heavily, but he clipped his lightsaber to his belt as they were getting even farther away. He turned around just in time to have Hera collide into him for a hug. Kanan smiled and hugged her back, and heard her laughter.
“That. Was. Amazing,” Hera said.
Kanan laughed and squeezed her tight. “I just can’t believe it worked. And so well, too!”
Zeb snorted. “Of course it worked, you’re a kriffing Jedi, man!”
A moment later, Zeb had his arms wrapped around the already hugging pair, and lifted them up off their feet a few inches, and Kanan and Hera both laughed some more.
When Zeb set them down, Hera stepped back to give Kanan some room to breathe, though she was still smiling wide at him.
Kanan didn’t really get a moment though, as just a second later Ezra hugged him too. Kanan chuckled and wrapped his arms around Ezra to return the hug.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Ezra asked.
“I thought you’d be safer if you didn’t know.”
Kanan held tight onto Ezra, breathing easier than he had in a long time.
Hera eyed the radar on the Phantom’s console- it had stopped blinking.
“We lost them,” Hera said, relieved. “I’ll set a course to get us back to the Ghost.”
She punched the coordinates into the console. Hera’s breathing was still a little shallow- their mission had gone wrong, and they both had to run as fast as they could (while being shot at, too) back to the Phantom.
It didn’t take them long for her to pull back into the Phantom’s docking port in the Ghost, and she stood up and turned around, looking at Kanan.
Loose strands of hair were in front of his face, and his clothes were still disheveled, and Hera couldn’t stop staring at him.
And it looked like he couldn’t stop staring at her.
“That was a real close call,” Hera said quickly.
“Yeah, yeah it was.”
Their gazes were still fixed on each other.
And Hera couldn’t even kid herself and say she hadn’t thought about it before.
Hera stepped closer to him, and pushed some of the loose hair behind his ears, and when she was done she left her hand to cup his face. He smiled at her just a little bit, and Hera pulled him into a kiss. He kissed her back, wrapping his arms around her waist.
It was still new, but she decided right then that she liked being more than friends with Kanan.
Hera smiled as she watched Kanan and Ezra’s tight embrace. She still couldn’t really believe that Kanan had actually done what he just did, but it was incredible. Hera then felt a tap on her shoulder, and turned around to see the woman from before.
“Thank you so much,” she said. “All of you. You saved so many of us today.”
Hera nodded. “Your people were a great help. We couldn’t have done it if it was just us.”
“With a Jedi, I’m sure you could’ve managed.”
Kanan smiled at her, and Hera smiled too, looking at him and feeling her heart nearly burst. But she collected herself as she spoke to the woman.
“You’ll all have to move somewhere else. We can help you move things in the Ghost , and there’s still two transports they left out there. Sabine can disable the trackers, and we’ll get you to a new place to live.”
The woman shook her head respectfully. “We built ourselves here years before you all came along. We can take care of everything ourselves, I mean it. You’ve all done enough for us, just rest, please.”
“We can all help-”
“I know. But we’ll be alright. You can let us take care of ourselves just this one time.”
Hera pressed her lips together, hesitating for a few moments before she slowly nodded. “Alright. But don’t be afraid to call if you need us.”
The woman nodded, and stepped away, to talk to what was left of the Tarkintown people who had fought with them. Hera lifted her comm up. “Chopper, it’s all clear. Everybody onboard the Ghost can leave now.”
Chopper’s affirmative beeps sounded through the cinn, and Hera looked back to the Ghost . The cargo bay opened up, and Tarkintown people flooded through, looking over the town, assessing things for damage and checking to see if their family and friends who fought were among the survivors. They were all eager to get out, so it didn’t take long for the ship to empty out. Once it did, Hera looked over her weary crew.
“How’s everyone else feel about getting some sleep?”
They all laughed, though it was certainly very tired. Hera led them all to the Ghost , just as exhausted herself.
Hera smoothed the wrinkles out on her folded flightsuit, wearing her comfortable sleep-clothes for the night. She stepped out of her room, and Ezra passed her on the way to the bathroom. She smiled as he walked by.
“You did really great work today, Ezra.”
“Thanks,” he said. His voice was low and monotone, and very tired, and Hera chuckled. She couldn’t blame him, though. She went down the hall, and knocked on the door to Kanan and Ezra’s room.
“Kanan, you in there?”
“Can I come in?”
Hera pressed the button to open the door, and smiled at Kanan, who was sitting on his bed, also in his sleep-clothes, as she came in. The door closed behind her, and she walked towards him.
“What you did today was really brave, Kanan.”
“Thanks,” he said, smiling back at her. “I’m just glad we saved all those people.”
Hera sat down next to him. “We couldn’t have done it without you.”
“Knowing you, I’m sure you would’ve figured something out. You always do.”
Hera chuckled. “I don’t know. I felt pretty stuck back there.”
“I think you could’ve done it,” Kanan said. “You didn’t just need a Jedi.”
Hera chuckled, and rubbed his shoulder. “Yeah, but I like having this one around,” she replied. “Although, I am gonna miss being the only one who knew. Made me feel special.”
Kanan chuckled. “Hey, for what it’s worth, you’ll always be special to me.”
Hera’s lips curled up into a smile, and when she looked at him, she found him staring back at her.
She wasn’t sure if she was the one that kissed him first, or if he had kissed her. It happened too fast, and frankly, she didn’t care.
She cupped his face in her hands to kiss him more firmly, and one of her hands moved back to lock her fingers in his hair. When they finally broke apart, she pulled him tight and rested her forehead against his.
Things felt a lot more right in that moment.
“I really, really missed you,” she said, breathless.
“I missed you too,” Kanan said, his voice barely above a whisper.
They held each other for a while, and eventually they laid down beside one another, and he was slowly tracing his fingers down her back.
Just like how it used to be.
“So…” Kanan started. “Should we talk about, uh… y’know, what we were earlier…?”
“I mean… I feel like you kinda answered my question.”
Hera felt Kanan’s chuckle in his chest. “I guess so.”
He pulled her tighter, and Hera kissed him again before laying her head down on his chest.
The door opened, and Ezra froze in the doorframe when he saw them. Hera winced, and Kanan’s hold on her loosened a little.
“Hey… Ezra… how are you feeling?” Kanan asked.
Ezra just stared at them both, his jaw dropped and his eyes wide.
“You know what?” Ezra said, his voice much higher than usual. “Zeb once told me I could always spend a night in his room if I asked, I think I’ll just do that.”
“No, Ezra,” Hera said. “It’s okay.”
“Nah, I’m good with Zeb. See you guys in the morning!”
The door closed, and Hera and Kanan both laughed.
“Think he’ll tell the others?” Hera asked.
“Oh, for sure. He’s probably telling them right now.”
“Zeb first, and then Sabine would be my guess.”
Kanan laughed. “See, I think it would be the other way around.”
“No way,” Hera said. “He made up all that about Zeb saying he could sleep in his room so if we got up and saw Ezra in Zeb’s room when he goes to tell, he’d have an excuse. Then he’ll tell Sabine after that.”
Kanan chuckled and shook his head. “Wow, you’ve got it all figured out, huh?”
Hera laughed and snuggled even closer to Kanan, while he held her close.
“Good night, Hera.”
“Good night, love.”
Seeing his smile when she said that made her heart sing.
She hadn’t realized how much she missed having a companion when she tried to sleep until she was drifting off that night with Kanan. His snores rumbled softly in his chest once he fell asleep, and Hera listened to them, feeling the gentle rise and fall under her.
She didn’t want it to be any other way.
I have been waiting so so so so so so long to write this chapter, and that scene in particular!!! I know it's kinda been a long time coming, so I hope I lived up to any expectations you had.
Don't worry though, this story is far from over :D
(Maybe not too far though.)
Chapter 29: Project
So sorry about the slow update! I've been so busy with work and getting ready for school. Thank you so so so much to everybody who keeps up with this story, reads and leaves kudos or comments. You are all amazing!
Kanan sat on a pile of crates, drumming his fingers against them mindlessly. He’d given Ezra some credits and let him have a day in the market to himself. The joyful expression on his face and bounce in his step as Ezra ran to a baker’s stand made the expense more than worth it in Kanan’s eyes.
Some noise a ways behind him caught his attention. Kanan looked back to see some stormtroopers guarding a man scrubbing at a wall. The wall had been painted with a symbol- it was fading and disappearing rather quickly from the scrubbing, but the light green color still stood out against the stone. It was rather circular, with a sort of head and wings on the design, and it was at a tilt. Kanan had seen similar art popping up around the city lately, along with anti-Imperial slogans and other protest artwork.
Kanan always liked looking at the art scattered around the city, before the Empire got to a piece. He wasn’t sure if it was one artist, or a group, or even maybe just one inspiring many other ones, but he admired whoever it was. He admired people who were taking a stand against the tyranny.
Like he used to.
Like he was sure Hera still did, without him.
Kanan woke up feeling like he was floating.
Hera had already gotten out of bed by the time he was awake- which was normal- but there was still an indent in the bed and a warmth in himself. He could hardly believe that the night before wasn’t a dream.
He sat up, and pushed hair out of his face. He grabbed a hairbrush and quickly combed through it before tying it back, and when he sat the brush down, he looked at the lightsaber next to it. Kanan stopped for a moment, staring at the lightsaber, fully together.
Which meant earlier that day wasn’t a dream either.
He swallowed hard and shoved the lightsaber away into a drawer, keeping it hidden out of habit. When he opened the door to his room, he smelled caf, and smiled. Kanan headed straight for the kitchen, but instead of seeing Hera at the caf machine he saw… Zeb.
“Oh- hey, Zeb.”
Zeb turned around and smirked at him.
“Good morning. Sleep well?”
Kanan sighed. “I did.”
“Mmhmm, I figured,” Zeb replied, his smirk growing into a grin.
Kanan rolled his eyes. “Very funny. Do you know where Hera is?”
“Cockpit. Said she had to work on the console.”
Kanan nodded before leaving the kitchen, throwing a rude gesture back towards Zeb as laughing and snickering followed him. When he got to the cockpit, Hera was underneath the console, cranking at something with a servodriver, and there was a steaming, half-empty cup of caf by her toolbox. Kanan smiled as he sat down in one of the seats at the back, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees.
“Everything alright down there?”
Hera slid herself out from under the cockpit, sitting up and smiling at Kanan, making his heart flutter. There was a black swipe of grease on her forehead from being under the console, much to Kanan’s amusement.
“It’s nothing too big,” Hera explained. “When I was flying us home last night, the steering seemed to stick in one spot for a couple of seconds, and I just wanted to fix it before it got worse, or if it happened at a bad time.”
Kanan nodded. While he wasn’t clueless when it came to fixing ships, he never knew nearly as much as Hera did. Though even if he did know, he could listen to her explain mechanics all day.
“Sounds good to me. Need any help?”
He joined her on the floor, earning him a raised eyebrow.
“Thank you, but I can handle it.”
“Mmhmm,” he said, reaching into her toolbox to pull out an old rag. He shook it out and then reached over to gently rub at the grease on her forehead, while Hera scrunched up her face in confusion. He pulled the rag away and showed the black mark left on it, and they both laughed.
“Are you sure you don’t need help?”
“Hey, just because I’m messy doesn’t mean I can’t do it myself.”
Kanan smiled and tossed the rag back, though there was a thunk as he did so- he’d knocked over Hera’s cup.
“Kriff,” he hissed. “I’m sorry.”
He picked the rag back up and quickly used it to wipe up as much of the spilled caf as he could manage, setting the cup upright again. He held the caf-soaked rag in his hands.
“I’ll wash this.”
Hera smiled at him. “It’s fine, I’m pretty sure that rag is older than both of the kids, but thanks.”
He gave a quiet chuckle at her joke, but looked down.
“I’m so sorry, Hera, I didn’t mean to-”
He felt her gloved hand on the side of his face, and a moment later her lips connected to his. He felt like electricity ran through him as she kissed him, and his face started to get hot. When she pulled away, she smiled at him, her eyes soft.
“It’s alright, love.”
His heart skipped a beat when she said that- after missing it for so long, he was sure that hearing it too much would be impossible now- and he smiled back at her, feeling his cheeks get even hotter, which he’d have thought impossible. He leaned in to kiss her again, and she put a hand on his shoulder to steady herself as he did. He felt her smiling, and he pulled away.
“Well,” Hera said. “Now that you mention… that, Ezra definitely told the others about last night.”
Kanan snorted. “I know, Zeb was teasing me this morning. ‘I bet you slept well,’” Kanan said, in an attempted mimic of Zeb’s gruff, accented voice. Hera put a hand up to her mouth as she started to laugh.
“That is not Zeb.”
“What? Yes it is.”
“No, you sound like a core-worlder who smokes too many cigarras.”
Kanan waved his hand dismissively, though Hera’s laughter was both delightful to hear and contagious, and he couldn’t help joining in himself.
“That- that is not fair.”
There were two knocks on the cockpit door, and they both slowly stopped their laughter.
“Can I come in?” It was Sabine’s voice. “I mean, are you guys, uh, decent?”
Hera rolled her eyes. “Yes, you can come in.”
The door opened, and Sabine was smirking at both of them. Her gloves were even more splattered with paint, and it was certainly fresh- he could smell it as soon as she came in. He used his arms to turn himself towards the door.
“Good morning, Sabine.”
“Morning,” Sabine’s smirk didn’t leave her face. “What are you doing in the floor?”
“Working on the ship,” Hera answered. “What are you doing?”
“I’ve… been working on a project. Well, updating it. Once you’re done in here, could you come to my room?”
“Sure thing,” Hera said with a smile.
Sabine beamed. “Great!”
She left quickly, and the door shut behind her. Kanan looked back towards Hera.
“Are you sure you don’t need any help in here?”
Hera shook her head. “No, I’ve got it. I know how to fix things.”
Kanan felt a fondness within his heart, and he smiled softly at her.
Hera smiled back at him quickly, and then ducked back under the console, looking over everything. She stuck a hand out.
“Can you hand me the sub-loop spanner?”
Kanan looked over her toolkit, and he pulled it out, flipping it in his hand.
“Is this a new one?”
“Nope,” Hera said. “Same one I’ve always had, I just went over it with a carbon chisel a few weeks ago. Now give it here.”
She wiggled the fingers in her outstretched hand, and Kanan put the spanner in her hand.
She pulled the spanner underneath the console with her and got back to work quickly. Kanan watched her work for a few moments- he couldn’t actually see her face, but he could perfectly picture it- her brows furrowed as she focused, a tight, concentrated frown.
“Hey, Hera? I’ll go check out Sabine’s project as long as you don’t need help.”
“Okay! See you later!”
“Make sure you eat something. Caf doesn’t count as a meal.”
Kanan chuckled and opened the door, stepping out of the cockpit and going down to hall. Sabine’s door was open, which was uncommon, and Kanan poked his head in.
She hopped down from her bed.
“Still working. Can I see your project?”
Sabine nodded, and pointed him over to a piece on the wall, surrounded by many others. The painting was a small little cartoonish image that had Hera, Zeb, Sabine and Chopper, though their paint was clearly a little bit more aged (though not Sabine’s hair- that had clearly been updated) than the new characters in the image- Kanan and Ezra. Zeb was in the back, with a hand on both Sabine and Hera’s shoulders, who were on either side of him, with Zeb in front. Kanan was next to Hera, and Ezra was in between the two of them.
Everyone in the painting (with the exception of Chopper) was smiling wide at the viewer.
Kanan smiled at Sabine.
“I made the original one a while ago,” she explained. “But I thought it needed some, uh, improvements.”
“It’s great, Sabine.”
She nodded. “It’s complete now.”
Kanan felt a warmth within his core. He’d never had a family, but something about the sense of belonging he had made him know that he had one now.
Chapter 30: Fulcrum
Hera tuned the communicator knob in the console of the cockpit, trying to get the signal perfect. It was late at night- Zeb and Sabine were both asleep, and Chopper was charging. And Hera wasn’t sure when she would- if at all- tell them what she was doing.
“This is Spectre Two,” Hera said, careful to keep her voice low. “Do you read me?”
“Affirmative,” the voice on the other end replied. It was clearly run through a voxscrambler, something Hera wished she had thought of. She couldn’t even begin to guess the gender or species of the speaker. For all she knew, they weren’t speaking Basic at all, and were speaking through a vocoder. It was smart, and a precaution that Hera admired- though they were allies, confidentiality was key in their line of work.
Hera swallowed. “Is this Fulcrum?”
There was a long, suspenseful pause, giving Hera’s face time to get hotter and hotter. When she’d first been sent the cryptic transmission from Fulcrum about contacting them, she had her fears about the communications being intercepted, or her contacting the wrong person by mistake. In the silence, those thoughts were amplified in her head.
“How can I be sure?”
“Because it’s a long way to Alderaan.”
Hera could feel just a bit of the tension lift from her shoulders. While she would still do some extra research on the intel that Fulcrum promised to give her, and didn’t trust them fully, she still felt a little more secure.
It felt good to be a part of something like the network. People across the galaxy fighting the Empire together would be the only way they could save it.
Someone knocked on Hera’s door, and judging by how late it was, she knew exactly who was responsible.
“You can come in, love.”
The door opened quickly, and Kanan was smiling at the doorframe, wearing a simple tank-top and sleep pants.
Hera smiled back at him, and shifted over in bed. He took the hint and walked over, climbing in with her. He put an arm around her, gently kissing her temple.
“How’s your night going?”
“Any new mission plans?”
“Not right now, no. I’m working on it.”
Kanan nodded. “Let me know if you want help.”
Hera smiled at him. She was grateful, but she was also about to get a call from Fulcrum. Chopper was the only one that knew any details about them, and Zeb and Sabine only knew vaguely about her contact- and Sabine pestered her with questions every time it was brought up. She wasn’t sure how Kanan would react.
“I have to use the refresher,” Hera said quickly. “I’ll be just a second.”
She slid herself from under Kanan’s arm, quickly taking her communicator and going for the door.
“You need your comm in the ‘fresher?”
Hera stopped before the door, turning around slowly. Before she could come up with an excuse, it began to beep. Kanan raised an eyebrow at her, and Hera sighed before answering it.
“This is Spectre Two,” she said, not breaking eye contact with Kanan.
“This is Fulcrum,” the modulated voice said. “Where are you located?”
Hera swallowed. “Well, it’s a long way to Alderaan.”
Kanan frowned in confusion, and Hera just grimaced at him.
“I have some intel on troop movements in the city, which I can transfer to you tomorrow. I’m also sending you all intel on the location of a supply drop in three days. Thirty-four klicks south of the city, look for my symbol.”
“Thank you. We all appreciate it very much.”
“I’m sure you could all use it after what happened at Tarkintown. Fulcrum out.”
The signal just cut out like that, and Hera dropped the hand with her commlink to her side. She could see the wheels turning in Kanan’s head, and braced herself for a barrage of questions she couldn’t answer.
“So,” he started. “That’s a contact you have?”
Hera nodded. “They’re part of the Rebel Network. It’s just a group of rebel cells across the galaxy fighting the Empire and helping people, and each other. That’s all I can tell you, and no, I don’t know anything about who Fulcrum is.”
Kanan shrugged. “More than I needed to know. If you trust them, I trust them.”
Hera furrowed her brow. “Really?”
“Mmhmm. You’ve always had good judgement.”
Hera smiled at him, and set the comm back down before crawling back into bed with Kanan. He put his arm over her again, keeping her close.
“Did you know them when it was just us?”
“No. They contacted me a while after you left.”
He nodded, the hair on his chin brushing against her skin. Hera was surprised at how easily Kanan was taking it. How easily he was trusting her.
“I didn’t want to tell you earlier,” she explained. “I just didn’t know how you’d react. And they don’t call that often, they’ve got all the other cells to worry about.”
“I understand,” Kanan said. He slowly leaned back, laying down more on the bed, and Hera followed him slowly, resting with him as he was with her, making herself comfortable. Kanan gently stroked his hand down her back, not saying a word.
Hera took a deep breath, and let herself start to fall asleep, listening to Kanan’s heartbeat.
Hera was enjoying one of Zeb’s breakfasts- space waffles were a guilty pleasure of hers- when Kanan came in for the morning. Clearly he had lazily thrown some clothes on, but his hair was still loose, some strands framing his face. She knew that he kept it pulled back to keep it out of the way, but she liked the look of it loose a lot.
“Morning,” she said between bites.
He gave her a half-wave before heading straight to the caf maker, which she chuckled over. He made himself a quick cup, grabbed a fork and sat down across from Hera, leaning over to take a piece of one of her waffles with his fork. Hera swallowed her own bite quickly.
Kanan just smiled cheekily at her in response before eating his stolen chunk of waffle, though his demeanor shifted as he swallowed it and made eye contact with her.
“Can I ask you something about the, uh, network you were talking about last night?” Kanan asked, his voice low.
Hera looked quickly towards the open door for a sign of Zeb, Sabine, or Ezra, but found none.
“What’s on your mind?”
“It’s just… communication? With other people fighting back? And offering to help each other?”
Hera nodded slowly. “That’s… about it. For now.”
“Well, someday I think- I hope,” she corrected herself. “That it could be more. We could all really band together, and- and maybe have a base somewhere. Or several bases. We could build ourselves up, and be a real threat. That’s how we’ll take the Empire down.”
Just the thought of it all made Hera feel proud, excited even. She wanted to help build something powerful enough to end the tyranny for good. To free everyone around the galaxy, to make sure they didn’t have to live in fear anymore.
But she had known Kanan long enough to tell that he didn’t feel the same way.
“So… a military,” he said. She felt like he was disappointed.
“What we’re doing now is important, and good,” Hera said. “But it won’t be enough. If so many people all join together, and fight, then we’ll really have a chance to end this.”
Kanan nodded, his expression still rather downcast, before he quickly smiled and stole another bite of Hera’s waffle, as if trying to make a distraction from the unsettling feeling growing inside her.
Chapter 31: Supply Drop
“Get back here, loth-rat!”
Kanan looked up from the pricing list of the meat vendor’s stand he was holding, and saw a kid haphazardly stuffing fruit into his backpack while being chased by an angry-looking man.
“Kriff’s sake, Ezra,” Kanan grumbled.
That was his kid.
Kanan set the back list down on the table of the stand, and started walking quickly into the street to intercept Ezra, who tried to push past him at first. Kanan grabbed him by the collar of his vest and turned him around, and Ezra gave him a nervous grin, holding a bitten jogan in one of his hands.
“Oh. Hey Kanan.”
The vendor caught up to them, and started to move towards Ezra, but Kanan put a hand out to keep him away.
“What’s the problem here?” Kanan asked, as if he hadn’t already figured it out.
The vendor was panting. “This your kid?”
“He stole fruit from me! He’s either gotta give it back or pay for it!”
Ezra just tried to give the man a look of faux-innocence. “Sir, I would never do-”
Kanan shushed him. “How much did he take?”
“Sixteen credits worth.”
Kanan sighed and reached into his pocket, and pulled out enough credits, handing them over to the man.
“Keep the change for your troubles. It won’t happen again.”
The man huffed at them, but turned around and marched indignantly back to his stall. Kanan leaned in close to Ezra.
“I can’t afford to have you pull that again, kid.”
“I know,” Ezra grinned. “I won’t get caught next time.”
Kanan did not want to fight alongside a military.
He was in the Phantom with Sabine and Hera. Fulcrum had sent them to pick up some supply crates. They said that explosives, ammunition, fuel and food were all there. He didn’t know where the supplies were coming from, or how the network got their hands on them, but what mattered was that it was help.
Though, he wondered, in exchange for what? By getting supplies from them, was Hera being drafted into a military? Were they going to wage a war on the Empire? The Clone Wars tore the galaxy apart and left it worse than when they started, how could they be sure that wouldn’t happen this time? That it wouldn’t be even worse?
Kanan trusted Hera above all, of course, that’s why he wasn’t bothered when she first told him about Fulcrum. And it wasn’t that he didn’t trust Fulcrum, or even the network- he was sure that their intentions were good, that they truly wanted to take the Empire down, and were working hard towards their goal.
He just didn’t want to fight alongside soldiers or lose anyone else, especially not after he’d just reunited with Hera. What he loved about his work with her, and now with the rest of the crew, was that they just helped people who struggled against the Empire, and yes, made their strikes. They weren’t going to save the galaxy, or end Imperial reign, but that didn’t bother Kanan when he saw people’s faces light up as he provided them with food.
Hera thought bigger, though. She always did.
As Hera flew them through, having left Zeb and Ezra alone on the Ghost with Chopper (Kanan half-expected it to be destroyed when they returned), he realized why Hera didn’t talk about Fulcrum very much. She mentioned that they were the ones sending the supplies, and Sabine hadn’t stopped barraging her with questions since. In fact, Hera was originally intending to take the trip on her own, but Sabine insisted on going with her, and Kanan decided to join as well.
The whole flight, Sabine asked about who Fulcrum was, where they were from, what their intentions were. Hera seemed frustrated, and Kanan took her side in trying to tell Sabine to relax, but he admittedly found it rather amusing.
“Why are they helping us?” Sabinea asked, not listening to either Kanan or Hera. “What do they want? Do we have to pay them for the supplies?”
Hera sighed. “Sabine, what did I tell you?”
“Are we going to meet with them?”
Kanan smiled at her. “Give it a rest, kid.”
Hera looked at Kanan gratefully, though she seemed uneasy. Ever since they talked about Fulcrum, Kanan noticed that Hera had been acting somewhat cautious around him. Admittedly, he hadn’t done the best job of hiding his apprehension about the rebel network, so it’s not like he could blame her. But he still wanted to help Hera, and stay by her side.
“How close are we?” Kanan asked.
“It’s right there, dear.”
Kanan frowned and got up to look over her shoulder, and all he could see was a large asteroid among the stars.
“That’s where we’re landing?”
“There’s an abandoned Republic base where Fulcrum dropped the supplies. It won’t take long.”
Kanan bit his bottom lip. “Clone War era?”
“Yeah,” Hera said. She tore her eyes away from the ship to look back at Kanan, concern quickly written over her face- she hadn’t told them exactly where the pickup was, and must not have thought to warn Kanan. “Is that alright?”
“Yeah, it’s fine,” Kanan said, sitting back down in the back of the Phantom . Hera looked at him sympathetically for a few more moments before looking back out the viewport.
“We won’t be there long,” she explained. “We just have to load the crates and leave.”
“How does Fulcrum know so much about old Republic bases anyway?” Sabine asked, and Hera groaned. They pulled into the atmosphere of the asteroid, and it wasn’t long before they touched ground. Hera opened the back ramp of the ship, and pointed to a stack of crates over a few meters by what looked like some gas canisters.
“That should be it, over there.”
Sabine left first, going down the ramp and jogging to the crates to check them out, and Kanan went to follow her, but he felt Hera tug on his arm and he turned around.
“Sorry I didn’t warn you before we left.”
Kanan shrugged. “It’s no big deal.”
Hera smiled and squeezed his arm quickly before letting go, and they both walked out towards the crates. Sabine was already looking over them, brushing her hands over the tops and sides, looking around them and cracking them open to take a look at what was inside.
“Sabine, I’ll let you inspect them all you want when we’re home, right now just get it on the Phantom , alright?”
Sabine tapped the side of one of the crates. “They’ve all got this symbol. What is it?”
Kanan looked to where her finger was. A small symbol- two lines going down parallel, angling out to form a small diamond-shape before coming back in again and continuing to go down, with a diamond on either side of the design. Kanan had never seen a symbol like it before.
“I don’t know,” Hera answered. “It’s probably just from whatever company made the crates, can we load them now?”
Sabine reluctantly started pushing one of the crates back to the Phantom , and Hera sighed. Kanan patted her shoulder.
“It’s nothing personal.”
“I know,” Hera said.
Kanan took a crate himself to load, and Hera did the same. With all three of them, it didn’t take long at all- there weren’t very many to begin with, the Phantom only had so much room. Kanan was taking the last one back when he heard Hera and Sabine.
“I just need you to trust me.”
“When I was with the Empire,” Sabine said. Her voice was more dead serious than Kanan had heard before. “That’s how it was too. Trust with no information or truth, we were just supposed to have faith.”
“This isn’t like that. We need secrecy so that the Empire can’t find us.”
“I understand! But why am I supposed to trust you, when you won’t trust me!”
Hera was quiet for a few moments before answering. “I trust you. I just don’t want to put you in any more danger than I already am.”
Kanan understood that. He could tell that Hera’s affection for Sabine was maternal, and unlike his own for Ezra. But Sabine didn’t seem to feel the same way, she just looked over to where Kanan was approaching.
“That’s the last one,” she said. “Let’s go home.”
Hera watched Sabine climb into the ship before Kanan squeezed the last crate in. It was a tight fit, with all the supplies and the three of them, but they managed it. The ride back home was quiet, way quieter than the one there, and Sabine hardly said a word, even when Kanan tried to make some light conversation with her. When Hera docked the Phantom , Sabine helped them bring the crates to the cargo bay, but then promptly disappeared to her room. Zeb had frowned as she silently stormed off.
“What’s her deal?” he asked.
Hera sighed. “Nothing, Zeb. Can you put all the food in the kitchen?”
“Careful,” Ezra had said. “He might eat it all on the way.”
Zeb elbowed him, and did as Hera said. Kanan was sorting through the ammunition, and Ezra jumped in to help while Hera took the fuel canisters.
“Did something happen to Sabine?” Ezra asked.
“She… and Hera had an argument. She just needed to cool off, she’s fine.”
Ezra nodded and continued sorting ammunition Kanan until they were finished.
After dinner (where Sabine ate alone in her room), Kanan knocked on Hera’s door a few times.
He came in, and Hera was sitting on her bed, reading something on her datapad. She didn’t acknowledge him, even when he sat down next to her. He tilted his head.
Hera looked up from the datapad to finally meet his eyes.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do about Sabine.”
Kanan smiled at her. “She’s just upset. Try and talk to her tomorrow morning.”
“And if that doesn’t work?”
Kanan paused. “I… don’t know. But she’s alright. She’s a kid, Hera. A teenager. I’d bet good money you were difficult at her age too.”
Hera chuckled. “You don’t know that.”
“But I’m right?”
She shook her head, and set her datapad aside.
“I bet you were difficult too.”
“Oh, for sure. And I didn’t even have anyone to reel me in. Not until I met you.”
Hera smiled at him, and leaned in to press a soft kiss to his nose, and she took his hand, holding it tighter than normal. They both laid down on the bed, close to each other, and Kanan couldn’t help but notice that Hera kept herself closer and tighter against him than usual- not that he minded.
“If the network does become a military, and I joined… would you leave again?”
Kanan’s face warmed, and he pressed a soft kiss to the side of her head.
“Of course not.”
Hera sat down on a rock with her morning cup of caf. Lothal, despite the Imperial presence, was truly a beautiful place, especially in the early morning, when the sun was rising but the planet’s twin moons were still faintly in view. A gentle breeze flowed unobtrusively through the air, gently brushing the grasses and rustling them.
Sabine spent a lot of time drawing out here, and Hera could see why. The rock spires eclipsing the sun at dawn were mesmerizing, and Hera could watch the edgehawks circling the sky for ages, or the loth-cats rustling the tall grasses as they played with each other or hunted for loth-rats. Something about being outside, surrounded by nature and only nature, brought her peace.
She remembered Kanan talking about how the Jedi would meditate, and even trying to show her how to do it herself. She always had difficulty with it, though- how could she clear her head when she had so much to think about?
That was probably the reason Kanan tried to teach her in the first place.
Outside, though, alone with the natural side of the galaxy, she felt like she could see what he was talking about when he would explain it to her.
Thinking about Kanan made her angry sometimes, but mostly she would just be sad. She missed him terribly, yet she didn’t even know if he missed her at all.
It’s not like she’d see him again, anyway.
Kanan was already awake when Hera walked into the kitchen. She’d followed the sweet scent of something cooking down the hall from her room, and saw Kanan at the stove making flatcakes, and she smiled.
“So, that’s what I smell.”
Kanan grinned at her quickly, flipping one of the flatcakes.
“Thought I’d do something nice for everyone this morning,” he nodded his head towards the caf maker. “That should be about done now, too.”
Hera heard a snort that could only have come from Zeb behind her.
“He makes breakfast and caf? He’s a keeper, Hera, it’s not like there wasn’t someone here who already could do that.”
She rolled her eyes and stepped over to Kanan, smiling at him.
“Thank you, love, this is very nice.”
She kissed his cheek and looked at Zeb with a smirk before filling a mug with caf for herself. Zeb just pulled a face and shook his head as he sat down at the table. Kanan looked to Hera.
“You sit down too, I’ll bring them over.”
Hera nodded thankfully, and took her caf to sit next to Zeb.
“Do you know if Sabine is up yet?” Hera asked.
Zeb shook his head. “Don’t think so.”
Hera nodded, and then turned to watch Kanan cooking for a little bit, though her thoughts drifted quickly to Sabine. She did trust Sabine, but there were things she couldn’t tell her, especially about Fulcrum. Hera certainly didn’t want Sabine to feel like she might as well have stayed in the Imperial Academy, but that didn’t mean she could just tell her everything.
All Hera knew was that she needed to talk with her.
Kanan turned around with two plates of flatcakes in his hand, and sat one down in front of each Hera and Zeb. He gave them utensils, and set syrup in between them.
“Wow,” Hera said. “It’s like we’re in a restaurant.”
“He just needs a little uniform,” Zeb commented with a laugh. “With an apron.”
Kanan just smiled and rolled his eyes, and sat down across from them. Hera quickly indulged herself on the flatcakes, and Zeb joined her. The spark of pride in Kanan’s eyes as he watched them enjoy the food didn’t go unnoticed by Hera, and they both finished rather quickly.
“I’ll make fresh ones for the kids when they wake up,” he said. “I’ll eat then too.”
Hera nodded. “Let me go check on them, actually.”
She stood up from the table, leaving Zeb and Kanan in the kitchen but taking her mug of caf. She went down the hall and knocked on Kanan and Ezra’s door first.
“I’m up!” Ezra said- though clearly he wasn’t. Hera just chuckled.
“Good. Kanan made flatcakes.”
There was a rustling, and in just a second Ezra had rushed to the door. When it opened, Hera could see his hair still a mess on his head and his sleep-clothes were rustled. “Flatcakes?”
“Yes, fresh ones. Go to the kitchen.”
He practically ran to the kitchen, and Hera shook her head as she went over to Sabine’s door. Hera knocked a few times.
“Sabine? Can I come in?”
“Your ship, isn’t it?”
Hera sighed and opened the door. Sabine was sitting at the booth underneath her bunk, drawing something in her sketchbook. Hera slid in and sat across from her, putting her mug of caf down. Sabine didn’t look up, she just continued to draw. When Hera looked over, she just saw Sabine doodling her starbirds over the page.
“Can you talk to me?”
Sabine stopped her sketching. “Sure.”
She set her pencil down and looked up to Hera.
“What’s going on?”
“I trust you. I want you to know that.”
Sabine looked back down to the page of her sketchbook.
“It’s true,” Hera continued. “It might not feel like it, because of Fulcrum. But I have to keep those secrets.”
“I just… want to know who I’m working for, and who keeps sending us stuff.”
“I know you do, and I understand. But I can’t tell you that, and that’s not even my own choice.”
Sabine looked up at her. “But you would tell me if you were allowed?
“I like to think so.”
Sabine smiled a little bit, and Hera smiled back.
“I haven’t gotten to review the intel I got from Fulcrum about troop movements in the city. How about you eat a good breakfast, and then we can look at it together?”
Sabine perked up. “Really?”
Hera nodded. “But only after you eat. Kanan made flatcakes, how about you go get some, and then we can talk about it?”
Sabine beamed as she stood up, ducking under her bed before leaving her room. Hera took a sip of her caf as she watched her go, smiling to herself.
“...and then I could meet up with Kanan and Zeb here, and Ezra could climb in one of the vents again and meet us over there.”
Hera nodded, partially distracted by how excited Sabine was by getting to review intel and help plan out a mission.
“I can pick you all up here, or if that doesn’t work out, over there as a back-up,” Hera said, pointing to spots on the blue holomap floating in front of them.”
“What about here? It’ll be harder to fit, but it’s closer, and I doubt troopers will head that direction.”
Hera felt her heart swell with pride. “That’s perfect. And we can still use the other spots as back-up.”
Sabine grinned. “Can I brief the others?”
“You did most of the planning. This is your mission.”
Sabine blinked in surprise. “I’m in charge?”
Hera laughed. “Yes, you’re in charge of this one. We’ll follow your lead and have your back. I’ll get the boys so you can tell them.”
Hera stood up and started to walk out the door.
“Thank you, Hera,” Sabine said. Hera turned around to smile at her.
She walked out the door, and when she got to the kitchen, she saw it was empty. She checked the cockpit, as well as Kanan and Ezra’s room, then Zeb’s room, but all empty. She passed Chopper in the hall.
“Chopper, where’d everybody go?”
He warbled that they were all outside, messing around, and she snorted. Of course.
“Thanks, Chop!” Hera called back as she went towards the cargo bay of the Ghost , finding the ramp open and hearing laughter and yells outside. Hera climbed down the ladder and walked down the ramp. Ezra was screaming as he was being chased by a loth-cat, and Zeb and Kanan were both watching. Zeb was laughing hysterically and hollering taunts at Ezra, but Kanan seemed more like he was deep in thought as he watched.
Hera slowly walked over and stood next to Kanan. “What did he do to that cat?”
Kanan continued to watch Ezra. “Nothing. He was just looking at it, and it got angry at him. They’re not usually this aggressive.”
“Do you think it’s sick? We should help him.”
Kanan shook his head, though he still didn’t look at Hera. “It’s not sick, it looks perfectly fine. It was calm when Zeb and I were looking at it, but something about Ezra…”
His voice trailed off. Hera could tell when Kanan was really thinking about something, and this was one of those times. However, unlike she often could, she had no idea what he was implying.
“Well, we shouldn’t just let it chase him around.”
Zeb laughed. “It’s fun, though!”
Kanan reached a hand out towards Ezra and the loth-cat, slowly walking towards it. Ezra continued to run, but the cat stopped chasing him, calming down and even sitting, looking up at Kanan. Ezra eventually realized he was just running in circles for no reason, and stopped, panting.
“What was wrong with it?”
Kanan knelt down and stroked the top of its head.
“I don’t know, kid.”
Hera watched as Kanan looked over to Ezra, considering him, and the loth-cat purred and climbed up onto Kanan. Hera and Zeb both laughed.
“Aw, Kanan,” Zeb remarked. “It likes you!”
“No animals on my ship, Jarrus.”
“Then how come Zeb gets to come on?” Ezra asked.
Zeb picked up a rock and threw it at him, and Ezra ducked. “He sheds and he stinks!”
Zeb picked up another rock, and Hera put her hand on his arm to pull it down.
“Well, Ezra, would you rather have the cat on board?”
Zeb laughed, and Hera shook her head.
“Why don’t you all come back inside? Sabine has to brief you all on our next mission.”
Kanan set the cat down and stood up, brushing his hands on his pants. He raised an eyebrow at Hera.
“Sabine is briefing us?”
“Mmhmm. She planned most of the mission.”
Zeb put an arm around Ezra when he got close enough, pulling him in a near-chokehold and rubbing his head.
“Ow, Zeb, hey!”
Kanan laughed as he caught up to Hera, and walked behind her into the cargo bay.
“I’m guessing you two talked, then?”
Hera nodded. “It’s all worked out.”
“That’s good,” he said. “I can’t wait for this mission briefing, then.”
Hera smiled proudly. “Me too.”
Thank you so much for reading! I would like to finish this story on the 26th (anniversary of when it was published- I can't believe it's been almost a year!), but with school I can't guarantee that.
Speaking of it being almost a year, thank you so so much to everybody who has read this story from the beginning, and thank you so so much to everybody who started later! I've really enjoyed writing this story, and I hope you've enjoyed reading it too.
Kanan held his lightsaber in his hands, fully put together.
He’d put it together for the first time in years to show Hera, even letting her ignite it, and hadn’t taken it apart yet again. He liked having it together, even though he knew he couldn’t keep it like that for too long. He was tempted to ignite it again, swing it around, see how much of his old forms he could still remember.
Though if he couldn’t, how would he learn again? Could he? Who would be there to teach him? He had his holocron, sure, but how much could he really learn from that?
As far as Kanan knew, he was the last Jedi left. He knew that probably wasn’t completely true- there were so many Jedi, not all of them in the Temple or with clones when the Purge started. There had to be others out there. If he could escape as a fresh padawan, then some of the more seasoned masters had to be out there.
Would he ever connect with them? When the Empire fell (as it would eventually, for that is the way of the galaxy), could the Jedi Order be rebuilt?
Should the Jedi Order be rebuilt?
The people at the Temple were right, Kanan couldn’t help but think. I do ask too many questions.
He took apart his lightsaber, set it in the drawer and laid down in bed, trying to calm the whirling storm of thoughts within his mind.
Kanan still couldn’t stop thinking about the loth-cat that had chased Ezra the day before. He’d never had a problem with an over-aggressive one before, and the fact that the loth-cat in question was calm with himself and Zeb, but not when Ezra reached out to him was suspicious.
Kanan had certainly been drawn to Ezra by the Force for reasons he’d never understood. He figured that maybe it was some sort of destiny, that the Force guided him to Ezra because the future relied on them uniting. But maybe it was deeper than that. Maybe there was something about Ezra, something in Ezra that made him so important.
But he didn’t want to bring it up with Ezra. It’s not like he would know, anyway, and in the galaxy they lived in, that might have been for the better.
He had to focus on their mission, anyway.
It was Sabine’s idea- for whatever reason, the stormtroopers that day were being drawn towards another point in the city, so the security complex would be less heavily guarded than usual. There had been rumors that the complex on Lothal was used to hold people who spoke out or fought back against the Empire, and they hoped to make some new friends and allies by freeing them.
Hera landed the Phantom outside the complex, and turned around in her seat.
“Chopper and I will pick you all up as soon as you give me the word.”
Sabine nodded, and looked at Zeb, Ezra and Kanan as she put on her helmet. “Ready to head out?”
They all stood up to answer her, and then followed Sabine out of the ship, towards the security complex. Kanan’s lightsaber rested on his belt, but he had quickly become accustomed to the extra weight, as if he’d always carried it around, and never stopped.
But he also had his blaster holstered on his thigh, which he was planning on using more. No need to pull out his lightsaber for a couple of stormtroopers who probably wouldn’t recognize him as the Jedi on the news before that.
Sabine guided them towards a side entrance of the complex, and they crouched behind some crates. Only a couple of stormtroopers stood guard in front of the door, and Kanan watched Zeb lift his bo-rifle.
“I got ‘em,” he said, but Kanan pushed his blaster down.
“We don’t want to make too much sound, or draw attention. I’ll take care of them.”
“It’s Sabine’s mission, let’s ask her,” Zeb said. They both looked to Sabine, and though they couldn’t read her face through the visor of her helmet, her head was tilted in a way that clearly showed that she was thinking.
“Being quiet is probably best, for now at least. Kanan, go ahead.”
Ezra grinned at him. “Going to use your lightsaber?”
Kanan chuckled. “No, I’ll try something else.”
He flexed his fingers as he crouched and snuck along, around the crates and towards the wall of the security complex. He kept himself tight along the wall, crouching and keeping quiet. He got close to them, and then stood up straight and walked out in front of them. Finally noticing him, the stormtroopers leveled their blasters, aiming them at him.
“You shouldn’t be here. Get lost,” the one on the right of the door said.
Kanan shrugged. “My bad.”
He raised his arms and connected with the Force, pushing the two stormtroopers back against the wall as hard as he reasonably could. The helmets hit the wall simultaneously with a loud crack and the two troopers slumped onto the ground. Kanan couldn’t help but grin- the rush of adrenaline that came with manipulating the Force around him for the first time was powerful.
He heard a whistle from behind him, and turned around to see Zeb, Sabine and Ezra coming out from the cover of the crate.
“I’ll have to remember you can do that,” Zeb said with a laugh as they got closer. “Could come in handy.”
Kanan snorted and looked to Sabine. “You got the door?”
“Mmhmm,” Sabine replied, already tapping on her gauntlet. She approached the door’s control panel, and alternated between working on her gauntlet and the screen on the wall. Kanan wasn’t bad with technology by any means, but he didn’t know enough to follow what Sabine was doing- before he knew it, the door had opened wide for them. Zeb clapped Sabine’s shoulder to congratulate her, though his much larger size and strength compared to her left him pushing her forward a bit, to which she responded by huffing and smacking his arm.
“The Empire should be holding ‘insurgents’ in corridor nineteen, which is all the way towards the end,” Sabine said. “Be ready.”
Kanan pulled his blaster from the holster, and he saw Ezra put a hand over the slingshot on his wrist. They followed Sabine down the hall, and Kanan counted the corridors as they passed them.
Nine… ten… eleven.
Kanan got a chilling feeling down his spine. But the building wasn’t cold, it was something else.
Twelve… thirteen… fourteen.
He could sense something nearby. Something calling out to him, asking for his attention.
Fifteen… sixteen… seventeen.
Kanan stopped dead in his tracks.
It was a cry for help.
“Corridor eighteen,” Kanan said. “We have to go down there.”
Sabine, Zeb and Ezra all turned towards him, and Sabine cocked her head.
“Why? That’s not who we’re here for.”
“I know,” Kanan admitted. “But I sense something down there. I think… I think there’s someone…”
“Jedi stuff?” Zeb asked, and Kanan nodded.
“I- yeah, Jedi stuff.”
Sabine looked down corridor eighteen, and sighed. “It can’t hurt to look. But we have to be quick.”
“Thank you,” Kanan said, and he turned down the corridor, Sabine, Ezra and Zeb all following him. He reached out towards each of the cells they passed, but wasn’t finding the person he was sensing. He didn’t know who it was reaching out to him, but they were calling to him, and he’d denied the Force for too long to do it again.
There was an undercurrent of cold within his senses as well, but he couldn’t be sure what it meant.
They finally reached the cell all the way at the end of the hallway, and Kanan pointed to it. “That’s the one.”
Sabine cautiously reached over to the button beside the door, and pressed it. The door lifted and opened, and Kanan looked inside and saw-
He hadn’t known Luminara Unduli well, only seen her in the Jedi Temple’s hallways or library, but he could still recognize her easily. She was a fair Mirialan woman (not dissimilar to Hera in complexion) with strikingly blue eyes and diamond-patterned tattoo down her chin.
She was sitting on the hard bench across the cell, her hands folded in her lap. She looked up sadly at Kanan, without saying a word.
“Master Unduli,” Kanan repeated, stepping into the cell. “I was a Jedi Padawan, Master Billaba was my master. I’m here to help you. Come with us.”
Luminara’s body heaved slightly in a silent sigh, and then she dissipated into blue, as a hologram. Kanan’s jaw dropped, and he felt his entire body go cold as he realized his mistake.
He started to step back out, but he heard the door quickly close behind him just as he was about to reach it, running his back into it.
He heard Ezra cry out for him on the other side of the door, but it was muffled. From the shadow in the close corner of the cell, which Kanan hadn’t looked at, a figure stepped out from against the wall.
“Not my usual place to draw Jedi, but it worked just the same, didn’t it?”
His voice was cold and crisp, tinged with a core-worlds accent. It sent a shiver down Kanan’s spine.
Kanan pulled his lightsaber quickly off his belt, igniting it and holding it in front of him defensively.
“Who are you?”
The figure, a tall, pale and gaunt Pau’an dressed in Imperial black gave Kanan a pointy-toothed grin.
“I am the Inquisitor. It is my duty to make sure that the last of the Jedi are wiped from the galaxy.”
Kanan gripped his lightsaber tightly. “Well, you won’t get this one.”
“We’ll see about that, Caleb Dume.”
Kanan hardly had time to process the fact that the Inquisitor knew his old name before he pulled a circular device off his back, which ignited into a double-bladed blood red lightsaber. Kanan tried to step back again, forgetting that he was already against the door.
The Inquisitor bared his pointy teeth again. “Let’s see how well Depa Billaba trained you, hmm?”
Kanan grimaced, holding his lightsaber at the ready.
The door opened behind him, and he stepped back, keeping his lightsaber up.
“Run!” Kanan yelled, looking to the bewildered three behind him. “Call Hera!”
Sabine stepped back from the panel next to the door. Kanan stayed up against the door frame to let Zeb, Sabine and Ezra get behind him as the Inquisitor, smirking, advanced slowly towards Kanan. Once they were both out the door he finally went for a strike towards Kanan, which Kanan blocked, though before he knew it he was being attacked with the other blade. In real lightsaber-on-lightsaber combat (not training) for the first time in his life, Kanan was overwhelmed and suddenly acutely aware of how out of practice he was.
“You’re sloppy,” the Inquisitor taunted, as if reading Kanan’s thoughts. “Unpracticed.”
Kanan continued to be pushed back by the Inquisitor, blocking much more than he was going on the offensive. Their blades locked, and they pushed against each other, faces closer, and Kanan was unfortunately able to appreciate the angular aspects of the Inquisitor’s face.
“You’re in over your head,” the Inquisitor hissed at him.
Kanan pushed against him with his lightsaber, channeling the Force through it to push the Inquisitor back, and up against the ceiling. The Inquisitor, apparently also with Force abilities, was working against him, and Kanan struggled to keep him up as he backed up. Zeb, Sabine and Ezra regrouped with him.
“I told you,” Kanan said, his voice strained from the effort. “To run.”
“We’re not leaving you,” Ezra said firmly.
Kanan finally let go of the Inquisitor now that there was some distance between them, and he fell to the ground, though evidently wasn’t deterred. He re-ignited his lightsaber and held it out to the side, and the two blades began to spin, and he threw it at them.
Kanan pushed Zeb down, and yelled to the kids.
They did, and the lightsaber went over their heads and then back over again as it returned to the Inquisitor,
“Can yours do that?” Ezra asked.
“Let’s just go, Ezra!” Kanan said quickly as they all quickly left through the door of the security complex, out more in the open. The Inquisitor wasn’t far enough behind them, and came out only a few moments later, and Kanan rushed at him quickly to keep him off of the rest as best as he could. Kanan still was out of practice, but battling in the open was much easier than in the hallway of the security complex.
He did, however, find himself entirely on the defensive rather quickly, only being able to focus on keeping himself from harm over trying to strike the Inquisitor. Zeb and Sabine, having made (Kanan hoped, at least) enough distance, were firing at the Inquisitor, but his quick movements and twin blades gave him an advantage over them, and presumably Sabine and Zeb were being extra careful while firing to avoid hitting Kanan.
Kanan took a risk to look up for just a second, hoping to see Hera coming through the sky.
Thank you so much for reading! I think this fic (unless I start re-doing my outline, which isn't completely impossible) will have about 9 more chapters.
Chapter 34: Escape
Hera softly rubbed Kanan’s arm, but he still didn’t stir. She chuckled as she pressed a gentle kiss to his cheek, being very careful not to disturb him.
“Good night, dear.”
He could sleep sitting in the Ghost’s common room all he wanted, but Hera preferred her bed. She most preferred her bed with him in it, but he looked so peaceful as he slept that she didn’t want to wake him up just to take him to her room.
Hera did her usual nighttime rituals, folding her clothes and settling in, before she fell asleep.
When she woke up, Kanan was in bed with her, though he was already awake.
Hera frowned as she slowly sat up and groggily rubbed at her eyes.
“What are you doing here?”
Kanan smiled at her. “The Force works in mysterious ways.”
Hera simply raised an eyebrow at him, and he laughed.
“I woke up in the common room- with an awful crick in my neck, by the way- and figured you already went to bed, so I came to join you.”
“You slid in here without waking me up?”
He grinned at her and shrugged. “I’m talented.”
Hera shook her head, and swung her legs over so she was sitting up, stretching her arms out. Kanan chuckled and sat up next to her.
“So, what kind of adventures do you have planned today?”
Hera simply smiled at him, her heart singing within her chest.
“Hera, help us!”
Sabine’s voice was more panicked than Hera had ever heard it in her life. She quickly turned on her own comm.
“There’s some… guy, I don’t know! He’s trying to kill us, and he has a lightsaber. And stormtroopers!”
Hera frowned, but she was already lifting the ship into the air. She could hear blasterfire and shouts in the background of Sabine’s call. “A lightsaber?”
“I know. He’s fighting Kanan right now.”
Hera let the ship continue to rise into the air, and she could already feel her heart beginning to pound. “Where are you?”
“Outside the security complex, where we came in.”
“I’m coming. Hold tight.”
“We’ll try.” Sabine said
Hera turned the ship towards the security complex, flying over it. She knew she was drawing attention to herself and the Phantom , but she couldn’t care. In the air, it didn’t take long to come up on the security complex, and as soon as Hera had a view she could see exactly where they were. There was blaster fire, Sabine and Zeb shooting at a group of stormtroopers (and Ezra using his slingshot) while Kanan was in the center of it all, locked in lightsaber combat with a figure Hera didn’t recognize.
And Hera didn’t know too much about lightsaber fights, but it looked like it was not going well for Kanan.
“Chop, pull us down.”
She stood up and went to the back of the ship, readying her blaster as Chopper plugged into the console to start and bring the ship towards the ground. Hera opened the back ramp down of the ship and aimed her blaster and firing down at the stormtroopers below, managing to take one of them down.
The ship got closer and closer to the ground, where Sabine, Zeb and Ezra had taken cover behind some crates, but Kanan was still fighting whoever his combatant was. Hera could hear the stormtrooper’s blaster bolts hitting the side of the ship.
“Turn us around.”
Chopper did as she said, and as they landed Sabine and Zeb quickly ran into the ship, with Ezra behind them.
“What about Kanan?” Ezra asked.
“We’ll get him, don’t worry,” Hera said, though she wished she could take her own advice. “Chopper, up again, just a little bit. And turn back around.”
Chopper turned the ship again, and their back was towards the heat of the action again. Zeb and Sabine were next to Hera on the ramp, firing at the stormtroopers.
Kanan backed up from who he was fighting, still holding his lightsaber up. He looked up at the ship for a few seconds, before returning his attention to the dark-clad figure.
“We have to go down some more, and let him on,” Hera said.
“But that guy will try and get on too,” Sabine pointed out.
Hera nodded. “I know, but we have to go lower.”
“No we don’t,” Ezra said quietly. Hera blinked in surprise and turned to him.
“He doesn’t need us to go lower. I just know it.”
Hera looked back down towards Kanan. He deflected a couple blaster bolts from stormtroopers. Even from a distance, Hera could see his chest heaving. He was getting tired.
“Kanan!” Hera called.
He spared a glance up towards them, still trying to put distance between himself and his opponent. He was almost underneath the Phantom now, and he gave what looked like a small salute before leaping into the air- much higher than what should have been possible, and landed on the opened ramp. Zeb pulled him inside quickly and they shut the ramp quickly.
“Get us out of here, Chop!”
Chopper warbled that she didn’t have to tell him twice as he flew them off, away from the security complex.
“Take the long way, Chopper,” Hera reminded him. “Until we know for sure they didn’t send any TIEs after us. And let me know if anything comes up on the radar.”
She crouched next to Kanan, who was sitting against the wall on the floor. His breathing was heavy, some strands of his hair had been pulled loose, and sweat covered his forehead. Ezra was crouched on his other side, and Sabine and Zeb were standing over them.
“Who was that?” Ezra asked.
“Said he was the Inquisitor.”
“From what I gathered, I think he’s a Jedi hunter.”
Hera’s blood ran cold, and she rubbed Kanan’s shoulder comfortingly.
“Well, at least we had you there,” she said. “It could’ve gone a lot worse.”
He gave a half-nod, but Hera could tell he was in deep thought again. Not that she could blame him. She stood up, stepping back towards the pilot’s seat to try and give Kanan some space to recuperate.
Chopper told her that there wasn’t anything on the radar, and she nodded.
“Well, if they sent anyone after us, we’d have picked them up by now. I’ll take us home,” Hera said, taking over for Chopper and veering the ship towards the Ghost .
The ride back wasn’t too long, but it was very quiet. As soon as Hera docked the Phantom , they’d all unloaded, Zeb and Chopper leaving first, then with Ezra helping Kanan up and the pair going to their room. Sabine was still sitting on one of the seats, and Hera gave her a small smile.
Sabine nodded, but Hera had known her too long to be fooled. She sat down across from her.
“Are you sure?”
Sabine chewed on her bottom lip for a moment.
“You trusted me to be in charge of a mission, and I failed.”
“None of us could have anticipated… that, alright? We didn’t even know that Inquisitor existed. It’s not your fault.”
Sabine still didn’t look convinced, staring down at the floor, and Hera reached over to gently pat her shoulder and get her to look up.
“You were a good leader today. You called me and got everybody home safe. Maybe we didn’t do what we intended to today, but we learned about a new agent of the Empire, and that they’re on Lothal looking for Kanan, and whatever else you figured out about them. That’s something important for us to report to Fulcrum.”
Sabine looked surprised. “Us?”
“If you want to. And if you don’t start asking questions about their identity.”
Sabine smiled at her. “I- I’ll make some notes. Maybe talk to Kanan, see if he noticed anything.”
Sabine quickly rushed to her room, and Hera brushed her hands against the pantlegs of her flightsuit as she left before standing up. Kanan had looked very shaken up, and she had to check on him.
She knocked on the door to Kanan and Ezra’s room, and Ezra opened the door. Kanan was sitting on the bed, stripped down to just his undershirt and pants, with his belt tossed onto the floor. He gave her a smile and small wave, and Hera returned it before looking at Ezra.
“How are you feeling?”
“Good,” Ezra said. “I’m sorry we didn’t get to free any of the prisoners.”
Hera shook her head. “I’m just glad you’re all okay. We can always try and free the prisoners another time.”
“Mmhmm,” Ezra said. His voice was quiet, almost a little distant. “I- I’m going to get eat something.”
Ezra left, leaving Hera a little confused, but she just walked over to Kanan.
“Everything okay? He didn’t hurt you, did he?”
He shook his head. “No, just… scared the hell out of me.”
Hera sat next to him, and Kanan locked eyes with her- his face was almost mournful.
“It was my fault, I… I thought I sensed something, and I went towards it, and it was a trap. He came out- he knew my name, my birth name- and… I couldn’t take him.”
“You held your own, I thought,” Hera said. “You’re still here, aren’t you?”
“I’m out of practice. If you hadn’t come…” Kanan sighed. “I don’t know what I was thinking. I used my lightsaber once, and now I put you all in danger.”
“We’ve been clashing with the Empire on purpose all this time, we were already putting ourselves in danger.”
Kanan snorted and nodded. “You didn’t have the Inquisitor going after you.”
“Maybe not, but… you can practice some more, and get better. And next time, I know you’ll be able to handle him.”
He shook his head. “I don’t know. He’ll be able to find us more than regular Imperials could. He’s more dangerous than any ISB agent ever could be. But he’s only looking for Jedi- for me. You’d all be safer without me around, and you’d have an easier time continuing your work.”
Hera felt her face start to warm up, as Kanan looked at her sadly.
“What- what are you trying to say?”
The pit in her stomach told her that she already knew.
The first night Kanan spent after leaving Hera was hard.
Not that he thought leaving her would be easy- he loved her, after all, even if he never told her, even if he was afraid of how he felt. But he didn’t realize how much he’d miss her, or how quickly.
He had a good life with her. Sure, they’d get themselves into trouble, and he didn’t always get along all that well with her vindictive little droid, but they worked well together. He was comfortable with her, and she seemed to be with him, and he enjoyed her company in a way he never had anybody else’s. She brought out the very best in him, she didn’t doubt him- she trusted him.
Why did he leave again?
He suddenly couldn’t remember. But it didn’t matter. Even if he had a way to contact her now, when she was surely out of the system, she wouldn’t want him back. And he woudn’t be able to blame her for that. He hurt her.
Tears stung Kanan’s eyes. Hera had been kinder to him than anybody had ever been, and he up and left her with no warning. She didn’t do anything wrong.
He wanted to go back, he realized. He’d made a mistake.
But it was too late. She was gone, and it was his fault.
“No,” Hera said softly.
“The Inquisitor is only looking for Jedi. I’m putting you all in danger just by being here. This is what I have to do to keep you all safe. Believe me, Hera, I don’t want to do this to you again.”
Hera met his eyes, seemingly gazing into them for a few moments before she sighed.
“I believe you. I just don’t agree. We can help protect you from the Inquisitor, and protect each other. We can’t do that if you go off alone.”
Kanan shook his head. “I can’t stay here knowing that he’ll come after all of you just because of me. I’m sorry.”
Hera pressed her lips tightly together. “I understand. But- at least keep a comm with you this time.”
He leaned in to kiss her gently, and she cupped his face in her hands as she kissed him back. Kanan thought he could feel a tear run down her cheek, and it released some of his own. When they pulled away, Hera still held his face.
“What are you going to tell Ezra?”
“Well… you’ll take care of him, right?”
“Of course I will. But he’s going to be heartbroken.”
Kanan nodded. “I’ll go talk to him right now, if that’s okay.”
Hera nodded back to him, and Kanan took her hand and gently squeezed it before leaving. He felt just as guilty about leaving Ezra as he did Hera, especially after today- Ezra’s parents had been arrested for speaking out against the Empire, and he’d confided to Kanan that he had hoped that maybe they’d find them in the security complex. But that was taken away from him, because of Kanan, and now Kanan was leaving him too.
But Kanan couldn’t think of a reason to stay and just endanger all of their lives. He was the only one the Inquisitor was after, and it would be better for the others if he left, as much it did pain him this time. He went into the kitchen, where Ezra was eating a reheated bowl of the soup Zeb had made the night previous, and Kanan smiled at him.
“Hey, Ezra. Can I talk to you?”
Ezra nodded as he slurped his soup, and Kanan sat down across from him.
“So, we know that the Inquisitor is a Jedi hunter, right?”
“So, by being here, I’m making the Inquisitor come after all of us. And that’s not fair to anyone else.”
Ezra swallowed his soup and frowned. “Does that mean we have to leave?”
Kanan sighed. “No, not us. Just me. I have to leave.”
“But what are you going to do?”
“I’ll just have to hide. But you’ll be okay here. You like Hera, right?”
Ezra folded his arms. “Yeah, but I want to go with you.”
“The Inquisitor won’t stop looking for me. I can’t let you do that.”
“I can handle myself” Ezra protested.
“I know you can,” Kanan said gently. “But this is different. This doesn’t mean goodbye forever, Ezra. And I’ll keep a comm with me. On a secure channel, so we can still talk sometimes. I’m sorry, Ezra, I know this is hard, and believe me, I wish it was different, but I can’t justify putting you all in danger like this if it’s all just because of me.”
Ezra stood up from his seat, and Kanan thought he was going to storm off, but he slid in next to Kanan and leaned against him. Kanan put an arm over him.
“I really am sorry, Ezra,” he said quietly. “But this is the best thing to protect you.”
There was a long pause, until Ezra gently whispered back to him.
They stayed like that in silence for a long, long while. Ezra eventually went off to bed, and Kanan had a quick bite to eat before he started to go back himself. As he passed the Hera’s door in the hallway, it opened, and Hera smiled sadly at him.
“You’re leaving tomorrow, I’m guessing?”
Kanan nodded, and she gently reached out and pulled him into her room, shutting the door behind him as she wrapped her arms over his shoulders, looking at him.
“Then we have one more night?”
Kanan wrapped his hands around her waist, kissing her as she guided him into the bed.
When Kanan woke up, Hera was still in his arms, already awake and tracing gentle lines down his arm with her nails. He pressed a gentle kiss to her forehead to let her know he was awake too, and she smiled, but it was bittersweet.
“You still going?”
“Yeah,” Kanan said sadly. “I just want you all to be safe.”
“I know,” Hera answered, moving forward so her head rested against his chest. “But it still hurts.”
Kanan kissed the top of her head again.
Hera stretched, sitting up and pulling the sheets up with her, and Kanan did the same, reaching down to the floor to start picking up his clothes and putting them on. Hera just watched him quietly as he did, and once he was dressed, Kanan stood up fully straight.
“I’ll just be in the refresher. Then… well, I guess I have to pack.”
Hera nodded. “Let me know if you need help.”
Kanan smiled at her before leaving her room, and heading to the refresher. He combed his hair in front of the mirror, eyeing a small mark on his neck. He chuckled, and quietly wished it would never fade. He pulled his hair back and brushed his teeth, before shaving quickly. When he finished, he took his things from the refresher, and to his room. Ezra was sleeping soundly when he walked in, curled up on the bottom bunk instead of the top. Kanan couldn’t help but chuckle at the sight before he started packing up his things- clothes, blaster, and lightsaber fitting them into a bag. He didn’t have much, but his bag wasn’t all that big, so he had to squeeze his holocron into the top of it.
He went over to Ezra as he finished, gently ruffling his already-messy hair.
“Hey, kid, rise and shine.”
Ezra blinked groggily a few times, yawning and sitting up, with his eyes half-closed. Kanan laughed and put a hand on shoulder.
Ezra rubbed his eyes, and looked at Kanan, his eyes suddenly flashing with sadness as he eyed Kanan’s bag.
“You’re really leaving?”
Kanan nodded. “Yeah.”
“Are you sure I can’t come with you?”
“I’m sure, Ezra. I know you can take care of yourself, but this is different.”
To be honest, Kanan wasn’t completely sure how long he’d be able to take care of himself if the Inquisitor found him again. But what mattered to him most was that Hera, Ezra and the others were all out of the way.
Ezra hugged him quickly, knocking Kanan back a bit, and Kanan set his bag down and returned the hug tightly.
“I’m gonna miss you, kid.”
“Me too,” Ezra admitted, and Kanan squeezed him even tighter.
“We’ll get together again someday, and you hold me to that.”
Ezra laughed. “I will.”
Kanan finally pulled away, and ruffled Ezra’s hair. “I’ll go say goodbye to the others, okay?”
When Kanan left the room, he went towards the kitchen, where Hera was sitting with the rest of the crew.
“Are you really going?” Sabine asked. Kanan nodded.
“It’s what’s best for everybody. I can’t let the Inquisitor get close to you all again.”
Hera met his eyes, melancholy written over her face, and Kanan wanted to undo everything right then. But he couldn’t.
“Be careful, man,” Zeb grumbled. “That Inquisitor wasn’t joking around.”
“Thanks,” Kanan said, reaching to shoulder his bag, but found it not there. He started to back up towards his (old) room. “I- my bag, sorry.”
“It’s right here,” Ezra said from behind him, handing it to him. “You left it in the room.”
Kanan smiled. “Thanks.”
Hera approached him slowly. “I guess… this is goodbye.”
“Not forever,” Kanan said to her. “I promise.”
She pressed a comm into his hand.
“It’s on a secure channel, but it will still be risky to send transmissions from long distances. Just check in once in a while.”
“I will,” Kanan said softly, holding her hand with the comm between them. She pulled her hand away so she could hug him, and Kanan rubbed her back gently.
“I’m going to try and catch a ship off-world. I’ll call you when I make it.”
Man, wouldn't it suck if I ended the story here?
I won't. But it would suck.
(I really won't, I've got more chapters outlined I promise.)
Chapter 36: Holocron
“What is that?”
Hera pointed at the blue cube Kanan was holding. She’d first seen it when Kanan was moving his things into the ship, but she didn’t ask about it. But she and Kanan had been together and told each other so much, she felt like it couldn’t hurt.
“It’s a Jedi holocron. They hold information, and transmissions.”
Hera frowned, and he handed it to her. She turned it over in her hands and traced the lines on it with her fingers.
“How do you open it?”
“It can only be opened with the Force. Here, let me show you.”
Kanan sat cross-legged on the bed, next to Hera, and took the holocron from Hera. He closed his eyes, and took a deep breath.
The holocron began to rise, and Hera gasped quietly. The corners twisted and the holocron opened. A blue hologram filled her room, a beautiful map of planets, moons and stars seemed to surround them.
“Wow,” she whispered. She saw Kanan’s mouth flick up into a small smile out of the corner of her eye. “It’s beautiful.”
Kanan opened his eyes, and looked at the map in front of them. “Only Jedi- or rather, people who can use the Force, I guess- can open these. That’s why they used holocrons to protect the Jedi’s secrets.”
“Yeah,” Kanan said, his voice tinged with sorrow. “But it wasn’t enough.”
As Hera watched Kanan leave towards the city, she realized she was mad.
She understood why he left. She couldn’t say she may not have done the same thing if she were in his position. And she would certainly miss him. But that didn’t mean there wasn’t any anger there.
He was leaving her again. And while she knew he didn’t want to do it, and that it hurt him too, she still felt that anger bubbling within her.
Though she began to realize that the anger wasn’t all directed at him, more at the galaxy. Why would they let her meet someone who understood her, who cared about her, who seemed to be her perfect match if he could hardly stay?
It almost seemed to be some kind of sick joke by whatever powers governed the universe. Could she blame the Force for this? She really wanted to.
After they’d all said goodbye and he had left, Zeb and Sabine had retreated to the kitchen to make something (or more likely, Zeb would make something while Sabine would tease him for making a mess), Chopper had gone to work on something, and Ezra retreated to his room.
Hera found herself still standing on the ramp, looking towards the city. Kanan’s figure had all but disappeared in the distance, so Hera was just watching the grasses wave gently in the breeze.
She couldn’t help but figure that the galaxy just had it out for her and everybody who knew her, and she carried that feeling to her bedroom through the night, where her mind was to busy to let her sleep for long.
The next morning, when it finally arrived, Hera went to the kitchen for caf, and Zeb came in to begin making breakfast. Hera smiled at him.
“Kids still asleep?”
“Sabine isn’t, I heard her moving around in her room. Ezra’s still quiet in there, though.”
“I should check on Ezra,” Hera said. This is probably hard on him.”
Zeb nodded as he started cooking something up- that smelled delicious, Hera couldn’t help but notice. She finished her caf and set the cup down.
“I’ll be right back.”
Hera walked down the hallway, passing all the rooms. She heard walking around in her room and smiled; at least Kanan wasn’t leaving her with a nearly-empty ship this time.
She reached Ezra’s door, and pressed the button to open it. The door flew open, and she gasped.
There was a clang as the corners of what Hera recognized as Kanan’s holocron closed up and fell to the floor. Ezra was sitting on the bed, looking just as surprised as she did.
“Where did you get that?” Hera asked.
“It fell out of Kanan’s bag,” Ezra explained quickly. “I had never seen it before, I figured… it was just some cube, it didn’t matter, so I just… I thought it would be something to remember him by.”
Hera stepped forward and picked it up. The corners were twisted so it wasn’t a perfect cube anymore, and she swallowed hard.
“You- you opened it?”
“I didn’t mean to. I was just holding it and I was thinking about Kanan, and it started floating, and there was this guy saying something about… the Jedi.”
Hera stared down at the holocron in her hands. Did Kanan know Ezra could do this? Did he leave him with them to protect him from the Inquisitor?
“Ezra,” she said slowly. “Did you know you could do this?”
“I didn’t do anything, it did it by itself.”
Hera frowned. She didn’t know much about the Force or holocrons, but that didn’t sound right.
“We- we have to find Kanan.”
“Why? Do you think he’ll be mad I took it? He’s probably made it to the city by now.”
“I’ve got speeders. He needs to know that you could open it.”
Ezra stood up in protest. “I didn’t open it, it opened itself!”
Hera sighed, and went to Ezra to put a hand on his shoulder. “Kanan told me about this before. He said only Jedi could open it. If you opened it-”
“I’m a Jedi?”
“I- I guess. We have to find Kanan. I’ll get the bikes ready, go tell the others.”
Hera went towards the hangar bay, trying to contact Kanan through the comm, but he wasn’t picking up.
“Karabast,” she groaned. He must not have turned it on yet.
Hera couldn’t ready the speeders fast enough. Kanan said that he would try and get a ship out of the system, which meant their best bet would be to look in the hangar bays.
Zeb seemed to appear behind her to help her with setting them up.
“We’ve only got three of these things,” he said. “I’ll stay behind with Chopper.”
Hera nodded. “Thank you, Zeb.”
“So Ezra’s a Jedi now too?”
Hera snorted as she pulled one out towards the ramp. “Apparently.”
“Is that like… a human thing or what?”
“Sabine isn’t one,” Hera said with a laugh. “And it’s not a human thing, my mom used to tell me about a Twi’lek girl from Clan Secura that left with the Jedi.”
“We didn’t think Ezra was. Sabine still has time,” Zeb said. “And I never heard about any Lasat Jedi.”
Hera chuckled as they finished setting the speeders up, and brushed her hands on her pants.
“I bet there were some. You sure about staying behind?”
Zeb nodded, giving a small wave of his hand. “I hate those things anyway. Good luck finding him.”
“I just hope he didn’t find a ship already and leave.”
“With how much they’ve been stopping ‘em lately, I’m sure he didn’t,” Zeb said. “Just be careful.”
“We will,” Hera said. “You don’t have to worry about that.”
Hera smiled, and sat on the green speeder bike in the center, revving it and pulling her goggles down in front of her face to be ready. Zeb patted her shoulder.
“I’ll go get the other two. I hope you find him.”
Hera smiled at him. “So do I.”
Kanan found himself curled up in the room of a cheap inn, with an old, dim blue holoprojector.
And by cheap, he meant cheap. There was a leak in the roof, he swore he saw some rodents in the lobby, and there was an awful smell.
He wanted to go home.
What was home? The Jedi Temple? One of the nicer apartments he’d been able to stay at for a little while? Was it Hera’s ship?
It was just Hera.
Though the ship was nice, he could take it or leave it. Hera was who he missed. Who he still missed, after all this time. He missed talking with her, laughing with her, cooking with her, eating with her. He missed the glint she got in her eye when she got a new idea, her smirk when he said something a little dumb, her fierce determination while she flew, the softness in her voice when she was sleepy in his arms as the morning arrived.
He had left because he was too afraid to face his feelings, to settle in the way he needed to. It had quickly become one of his biggest regrets. And now, while Kanan had never stayed in one place for too long, he found himself moving around more and more quickly. The logistics of travel helped him keep his mind off her sometimes, if only for a brief while.
He was looking through the most inexpensive travel options he could find, to places he hadn’t been already, when one planet had strangely caught his eye- Lothal.
Kanan hadn’t really heard of it before, which meant it was probably the perfect place for him to go.
Kanan’s heart hurt as he walked through Lothal’s capitol city. He wanted to go back to the Ghost , tell Hera and Ezra that he changed his mind, that they could figure something out.
But he couldn’t do that. He couldn’t put them in danger that way. If the Inquisitor was going to be looking for him, then he couldn’t let them be involved, as much as it hurt him to leave them again.
He just had to get a ship out of here. Then the temptation wouldn’t be as strong.
He fingered the comm in his pocket. It was still turned off, he was worried about it sending a signal that could be picked up before he could even send a transmission. He was definitely going to tell Hera when he got safely off-world, he knew that much.
He knew where the main hangar was in the city, and headed through the streets towards it. The Empire’s occupation had grown on Lothal, and flight was being closely monitored, which meant that hitching a ride without drawing attention would be hard, but not impossible. He didn’t need to go far, just to another planet that may not have had as strong an Imperial presence, but then he could get on another ship from there and go even farther from Lothal.
Farther from Ezra.
Farther from Hera.
As long it pulled the Inquisitor away from Lothal and away from the crew of the Ghost , then it was more than worth it in Kanan’s mind.
Kanan kept his head down as he walked, dodging stormtrooper patrols and Imperial officers. He wasn’t sure if they’d be able to recognize his face or not- they probably wouldn’t- but he didn’t want to run the risk.
He just had to blend in. Be a simple traveller. He was already playing the part, having spent the night in the tower he and Ezra used to live in when he had realized that he wasn’t going to be catching a ship that late. He’d been that person for years, he could slip into it again.
His thoughts lingered on Ezra for a while. Kanan already missed him terribly- he certainly felt like a father towards Ezra after they spent some time with each other, trying to take care of him. It was painful to Kanan to know that he was the reason Ezra was certainly upset, as much as he knew that leaving was the best choice to keep him safe. That was the point, right?
Still, he missed him. He was proud of Ezra- he was capable, confident and he had a level head on his shoulders, very little of which had to do with Kanan, which made him even prouder. And at least, he figured, he was leaving him in good hands with Hera and her crew.
Kanan, though- Kanan was alone again. Maybe the Force thought he should be that way.
But maybe it was just his own fault.
Kanan swallowed hard as he continued to push through people to get towards the ship bay. All he needed was a simple transport ship out. He had some credits, probably not enough to pay a smuggler to get him out, but if he could risk buying a ticket for an official transport.
Kanan arrived at the hangar, and looked through all the ships there. Many of them were very nice, which meant very expensive trips, but anything was free for a stowaway.
He suddenly felt a chill run down his spine, but he shook his head and kept walking. He didn’t have time for that.
He saw one ship sitting in a bay marked forty-two. It was nice, if a lot older- Hera would know the make and model, he thought to himself, but Kanan could just tell that it was Correllian.
Well he was pretty sure, anyway.
But that didn’t matter, what mattered was that its pilot, a loud Quarren with a frantically translating protocol droid, was busy arguing with a frail-looking Imperial officer, and that Kanan had a window to sneak into the cargo bay.
He went to vault over the barrier around the ship, but froze.
Something happened with Ezra.
Something… good? Possibly. Kanan couldn’t tell for certain, but he hoped it was.
But whatever happened, Kanan instantly knew that he needed to go back.
He reached to pull the comm Hera had given him out of his pocket, going to turn it on, when it fell out of his hand.
Though he realized quickly that it hadn’t fallen.
It had been pulled.
Kanan turned around, greeted by the sight of the grinning Inquisitor (though the grin felt more like an intimidating baring of his sharp, pointy teeth), flanked by stormtroopers, holding the comm in his hand.
“You won’t be needing this,” he said, dropping the comm to the ground and stomping on it with his foot. It sparked for just a second, the circuitry on the inside crushed and in pieces on the ground.
Kanan quickly unclipped the two halves of his lightsaber from his belt, clicking them together and raising it, though he didn’t ignite the blade. The Inquisitor shook his head slowly.
“You’re surrounded, Jedi. And there’s a lot of people here. It would be a shame if any got caught in the crossfire.”
Kanan examined his surroundings, and weighed his odds. He was alone. There were a lot of stormtroopers, and a lot of innocent people too. Kanan could feel himself grow cold- he was quickly discovering that he was running out of options. The crowd was watching curiously, the bustle of activity the hangar usually always saw slowing to a halt. He glared at the Inquisitor, who just continued to smile at him.
The Inquisitor’s voice was stern, almost like he was scolding Kanan. Two stormtroopers stepped on either side of the Inquisitor, one of whom was holding a set of binders.
Kanan slowly lowered his lightsaber, still staring down the Inquisitor. “Like I have another choice.”
These last chapters are going to come out pretty fast, both because I'm trying to meet my goal of finishing the story on its anniversary, and also because these are the parts I've been waiting to write ever since I started.
Hera tossed and turned in her bed, the sheets rustling being the only sound in the dark of her room as she did.
She didn’t always have trouble sleeping. Just… most of the time.
Her thoughts kept leading to Kanan that night. She found herself longing to be with him again. The sense of comfort and familiarity his company always brought her was missing, and she wished that she could tease him about something, or offer him some sort of comfort. She just wanted to lean on his shoulder of have his arm over hers. Sometimes she desperately hoped she’d find him again, in an odd chance meeting.
She would scold herself sometimes for thinking about him that way. He left her so suddenly, and she was upset with him.
But she still missed him. A lot.
Her new friend- Zeb- was snoring in his room, and if Hera listened closely she could faintly hear it. She liked Zeb. They hadn’t known each other long, but he was capable, funny, and more caring than he let on. And he was a good cook, something the Ghost had been missing for quite a while. He’d been a good friend to her, in their short time together, and Hera enjoyed spending time with him.
But a dark thought encroached her mind.
What if he left her too?
Hera tapped a woman on the shoulder.
“Excuse me, I’m looking for someone, maybe you’ve seen him here. He’s human, and he has longer hair, probably pulled back, and hair on his chin too.”
The woman hardly seemed to pay attention to her though, shaking her head and continuing on her way. Hera sighed, looking around for Kanan, though it was hard to see in some of the clusters of people.
Maybe he was gone already.
She tried his comm again, but got nothing in response. She groaned and switched to comm Ezra and Sabine.
“Either of you find anything?”
“No,” Ezra said. “I don’t think so. No one’s listening.”
“Same here,” Sabine reported. “As soon as I describe him, they wave me away.”
“I don’t think he’s here,” Ezra said. “Or maybe he left already.”
“He couldn’t have,” Sabine said quickly. “The Empire blocked all ships out this morning.”
Hera sighed. “Let’s regroup by the entrance. There has to be other places we could look.”
She pushed through the crowd to get out away from everything, and only had to wait a few moments for Ezra to find her.
“What if we don’t find him?” Ezra asked.
“We will. Sabine said they blocked ships out, so he’s got to still be on the planet somewhere. Any idea where he might be?”
Ezra frowned, and seemed to think for a while. “He might have hidden in our old tower.”
“I was thinking he might have at least stopped by Old Jho’s,” Sabine’s voice said from behind them.
Hera nodded proudly at both of them. “We can cover more ground if we split up. Ezra, do you want to go back and look in the tower?”
“Sure,” he said, already going towards where they parked the speeders.
“Comm me when you get there, and let me know if you see anything.”
Sabine looked to Hera. “I’ll stay here, and keep looking around the hangar. He might turn up at some point.”
“I’ll go to Jho’s then,” Hera said. “Be careful, Sabine.”
“I will, don’t worry about that.”
Hera couldn’t help but smile at her as she hopped back onto her own bike, pulling her goggles onto her face and winding through people in the streets to get out of the city towards Old Jho’s. She had to find Kanan- for Ezra’s sake, and, admittedly, for her own rather selfish reasons too.
Though she was proud of Sabine and Ezra in this search. They were both so young, but they were handling themselves well, and being extremely helpful as they looked through Lothal for Kanan.
Once she got out of the city, and the space was more open around her and her speeder, Hera tried the comm again. Still no answer. She cursed under her breath and put it away again, setting her hands on the controls of the speeder.
It was nothing like flying a ship, in her humble opinion, but driving a speeder was very enjoyable to her. She couldn’t remember why she didn’t take the speeders out more often.
Maybe if Kanan moved back in again, they could take trips out together.
She turned her speeder in the direction of Jhothal, the grasses blowing by her as she did. It was a rather far drive from the capitol, but heading back to the Ghost and flying from there may have taken just as long, if not even longer. But still, she had a long while to think as she did.
Hera honestly didn’t know how Kanan would react if they were able to find him again. She still didn’t even know if he knew that Ezra could use the Force or not. Would that make him want to stay with them again, so they could all protect each other now that he wasn’t the only one that would draw the attention of the Inquisitor? Or would he take Ezra and the two of them would hide somewhere?
Hera had no way to know for sure. She certainly hoped it was the former, but she didn’t know.
She wouldn’t, at least, unless they found Kanan somewhere. Wherever he was, they had to find him.
Hera was close to Jhothal, seeing it in the distance, when her comm beeped, and she quickly answered it on the speeder.
“No, just me,” Ezra said. “I’m at the tower. He’s not here, but I think he was earlier. Stuff is kinda moved around, I think.”
“Thank you. That’s good to know,” Hera answered, though only slightly deflated. “I’m almost to Old Jho’s. Sabine is still at the hangar, go back into the city and help her look around the hangar some more.”
She put the comm away, and continued to get closer to Jhothal, speeding up as her mind began to spin with even more worries about all the places that Kanan could possibly be. She slowed down as she got closer to all the people. She stopped the speeder outside of Old Jho’s and hopped off, lifting her goggles up again and walking into the cantina, turning straight towards the bar where Old Jho was.
“Jho! I’m looking for Kanan, did he stop in here?”
“Chasing him again?”
Hera rolled her eyes. “Have you seen him or not, Jho?”
A hush seemed to fall over the few patrons at Old Jho’s at this time of day, and then there was a quiet murmur that Hera heard from behind her. Hera’s gaze lifted up towards the holoprojector behind the bar.
Her eyes slowly widened, and her mouth dropped open in shock at what she saw.
“This Jedi rebel terrorist, part of a group that has been tormenting the good, law-abiding citizens of the Empire,” an Imperial read on the HoloNet. “Has been detained by a brave squadron of stormtroopers while trying to leave the planet, presumably to spread his path of destruction to the hardworking people of other Imperial territories.”
Kanan’s face seemed to be staring at Hera from the hologram.
And with this chapter, I hit 60000 words!
Chapter 39: Torture
Kanan lifted another one of the crates into the back of the ship. They were heavy, but nothing he couldn’t handle, especially after doing this job for a little while now.
“What the hell do they have in these, anyway?” One of the other workers asked, wiping sweat off her brow. “I feel like I’m gonna pull something.”
“No idea,” Kanan answered, lifting another one of them up, struggling just a little bit.
The woman, the only other human in the group, tilted her head and gazed at Kanan. “Guess it’s no problem for someone as strong as you.”
Kanan muttered something awkwardly as she gave him a suggestive smirk. The Kanan of years ago likely would have flirted back, but ever since Hera, he just couldn’t find interest in anybody else.
He was planning on leaving this place in about a week anyway.
“We should open one,” another worker, a Rodian, said. “Just take a peek.”
“They told us not to do that,” yet another one, a low-voiced Nikto argued. “We should just be doing our jobs.”
“It’s not like they’d know,” the woman from before said. She was the only human in their little group of four. “Just open that one, right there.”
The Nikto rolled his eyes and continued to work alongside Kanan as the other two pulled at the top of the crate. Kanan couldn’t be bothered with what they were loading or who it went to, as long as they got paid extra for this like they were promised.
“Woah,” the Rodian said quietly.
“That looks… like a torture droid,” Kanan heard the woman say. “Who are these going to?”
“They didn’t say,” the Rodian answered.
Kanan had two hands on one of the boxes, and though it was no heavier than the rest, he found himself having difficulty lifting it up.
Kanan’s wrists were still raw from trying to struggle against his restraints, though he’d already given up on that a little while ago, and had just resigned himself to staying still. His back felt frozen against the cold metal of the interrogation chair (though chair was a strong word- his body was laying straight across a sheet of metal with his arms and legs strapped down to it).
Upon his capture, Kanan had been put in binders and had his bag taken before being led into a shuttle that took him up to a Star Destroyer just outside of Lotha’s atmosphere. The bag mostly wasn’t a real concern of his; the Inquisitor could have his spare clothes, toothbrush and comb if he wanted. The only thing of real value in his bag was a holocron, but as far as he was aware, people who used the Dark Side of the Force couldn’t open them.
His blaster and lightsaber had also been taken, and he had no idea where they were. He wasn’t worried about his blaster, his blaster wasn’t an uncommon type and was rather easily replaceable, but his lightsaber definitely wasn’t.
Of course, if he died here, then none of that would matter.
And he would die here. There was no one to come for him. He had no way to contact the Ghost crew, and even if he could, he wouldn’t. He didn’t want them rushing into an Imperial Star Destroyer for him. Why leave to protect them from the Inquisitor, then ask them to face that danger just for him? He wouldn’t do that to them, they deserved so much better than that, especially after all they did for him already.
No one was coming for him. He was going to die, and no one he cared about would know about it.
Would Hera and Ezra assume he’d truly just abandoned them? That he just decided never to call and forget about them?
If being angry with him would cause them less pain, then maybe he hoped that was what they thought, as terrible as that was.
The door opened, and Kanan looked up at it. The Inquisitor entered his cell, alone, smiling. Kanan instantly noticed that his lightsaber was hanging on his belt, and swallowed hard.
“Always nice to have visitors,” Kanan quipped. “I was getting lonely in here.”
Maybe if he was annoying enough, the Inquisitor would kill him quicker.
The Inquisitor just seemed to ignore his comment. “I have some questions about your connections to the insurgents on Lothal. And I’m looking for answers.”
“Then I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed.”
“I have ways of making you talk, Kanan Jarrus.”
A ball-like droid floated into the room behind the Inquisitor, presenting a prod out of the top of it. It looked sharp, and was reinforced with electric coils. Kanan gulped, and looked away from it, though he still caught a glimpse of the Inquisitor’s grin as the droid came to the side of the chair.
“Do you know where your rebel friends might be right now?”
Kanan didn’t even look at the Inquisitor. “I don’t know.”
That was mostly true. He was sure they were probably still in the spot he’d left them in on Lothal, but he didn’t know for sure. Technically, they could be out of the system.
“I find that unlikely,” the Inquisitor answered, waving a hand to the droid.
He heard a slight mechanical movement before an awful, burning pain ripped through his whole body as the droid shocked him. Kanan tried not to give the Inquisitor the satisfaction of hearing him scream, but it didn’t stop, and neither did the pain, and soon he couldn’t help it, crying out in agony. Tears formed in his eyes as he involuntarily struggled against the bindings on his wrists and ankles, but it was no use, he couldn’t get away from the pain. After what felt like forever, the droid finally stopped, leaving Kanan gasping for air as some of the pain still lingered in his body.
“Thought of an answer yet?” The Inquisitor asked.
Kanan still didn’t answer. If he was mute long enough, maybe the Inquisitor would just give up on an interrogation and move to an execution. He waited for another shock.
“Or do you not know?” The Inquisitor asked, although he seemed to be asking it more to himself than Kanan. “You were alone when we caught you, in the docking bays. Were you trying to get a ship away?”
Kanan kept his eyes closed, and his face pointing down towards the floor. He got another shock from the droid, but this one was much quicker and seemed to be more to simply catch his attention than anything else.
“You know all about running away, don’t you, Caleb Dume?”
Somehow, those words stung more than the electricity.
“When the clones turned on the Jedi, you were with your master. She died letting you escape, didn’t she?”
Kanan’s hands curled up into fists.
“What were her last words to you?”
Kanan swallowed thickly, and looked down towards the floor as the Inquisitor got closer to Kanan.
“What were they?” he hissed.
“Run,” Kanan whispered, though it didn’t feel like it was entirely of his own free will.
The Inquisitor’s voice was almost innocent-sounding.
“And you ran away from her. What an obedient padawan. And now, you’ve run away from the rebels. I’m guessing you’ve gotten good at it.”
Kanan bit his bottom lip. He was right. He’d run away. He’d run away from his master, from any person who remotely befriended him. He’d run away from Hera, then from Hera, Ezra, Zeb and Sabine.
The Inquisitor stepped back from him, turning around and pacing, as if he was mulling something over while he spoke.
“This ship is on its way to Mustafar,” he said, and he seemed to enjoy the flash of fearful recognition that was surely on Kanan’s face. “You can make the trip more comfortable by cooperating.”
“I really appreciate your hospitality,” Kanan said coldly, but the reality of his situation was beginning to truly set in. He’d never been to Mustafar, but he’d heard of it.
It was where Jedi went to die.
Before he knew it, Kanan let out another scream as the droid began shocking him again.
Chapter 40: Rescue
“Mmhmm. That was my name.”
His emphasis on “was” stuck out to Hera, and she rubbed his arm.
“It’s a nice name. It’s a shame you had to change it.”
Kanan simply shrugged in response. “Not really. Caleb Dume was a good kid, but he was just trying to be who the Jedi wanted him to be. Kanan Jarrus… that’s me. That’s who I chose to be, and who I want to be.”
Hera nodded thoughtfully, considering his words. He was talking about Caleb and Kanan like they were two completely separate people, but somehow, she still understood.
“And who do you want to be?”
He smiled at her, and took her hands. “I want to be someone that you can trust. Who does the right thing for the people he cares about, who protects them at all costs.”
“Sounds like a Jedi to me,” Hera said.
“Maybe,” Kanan admitted. “But it’s still different.”
Hera leaned in and kissed him softly, and he kissed her back. Were Jedi allowed to do that? She wasn’t sure, but it didn’t matter, if this was who Kanan wanted to be.
Though Hera questioned herself too. Who did she want to be?
A leader? A protector? Someone doing the right thing? Those all sounded good to her- maybe in some sense, she was already some of those things, or at least she was on the way to becoming them.
Kanan seemed to sense something from her, and he pulled away from her and frowned. “Are you alright?”
“Uh oh,” he said with a chuckle. “That’s never good.”
“Sabine, have you picked up any word on where Kanan might be?”
“It’s hard to tell, I think they’ve come up with some new codewords,” Sabine answered. “I made some notes about ship movements though, they might give us a clue.”
Zeb frowned. “Why would that give us a clue?”
“He’s a Jedi . A real one. Not just a normal prisoner. They won’t be holding him in the security complex here, I bet they’ll be taking him off-world somewhere.”
“Where are your notes?” Hera asked.
Sabine handed her the datapad, and Hera took it, looking over to Ezra as she did. He’d been unusually quiet since they found out Kanan was captured, and Hera couldn’t really blame him. They were all worried about Kanan, and she imagined Ezra was especially so.
Hera read through Sabine’s notes. Most of it didn’t stick out to her, just troop transports and cargo transports going to different Imperial bases across the galaxy- though it would still be good intel to give to Fulcrum when they got the chance. Hera continued to scroll through, until her finger stopped on one of the entries.
“A Star Destroyer going to Mustafar?”
Sabine nodded. “I thought that was odd, I didn’t think there was really anything on Mustafar. It’s just a lava planet, right?”
Hera swallowed hard. “It’s- it’s more than that. Kanan told me about it once. He said that it’s where they take Jedi. No one knows what happens there, but they’re never heard from again.”
Ezra stood up. “We have to go to that Star Destroyer.”
“How?” Zeb asked. “If there’s any security that the Empire doesn’t mess around with, it’s on those things.”
“We can steal a ship!” Ezra exclaimed. “And sneak on board.”
“Then how do we get out?” Hera asked. “They’re not going to just let us leave.”
Sabine seemed to ponder the question. “Not unless they’re distracted by something bigger going on.”
Hera raised an eyebrow. “Bigger like… what?”
“How about an explosion in the reactor core?”
“That wouldn’t leave us much time to get off.”
“It wouldn’t leave them much time to get off either,” Sabine pointed out. A smile slowly grew on Hera’s face, and she looked down at the datapad, scrolling through all the planned ship movements quickly.
“This is really risky, Sabine,” Hera said as she scrolled.
“I don’t think there’s another way.”
Hera nodded. “There’s only one transport that’s supposed to board the Star Destroyer before it goes to Mustafar, and it leaves the shipyard tonight.”
Sabine got out of her seat. “Then I better get all the explosives ready.”
She dashed to her room, and Hera smiled at Zeb and Ezra.
“We all better get ourselves ready fast.”
“Pilot said the code was two-two-four-six-nine," Zeb said as he walked into the cockpit. Hera just nodded and entered the code on the console. They had just broken out of the atmosphere of Lothal, and were heading towards the Star Destroyer.
“Where is the pilot now?” Hera asked.
“Just stunned,” Zeb said. “Won’t be waking up for a while.”
“Hopefully, things will be already in motion by the time he does.”
The console beeped twice, and a green light came on briefly. Hera let out a sigh of relief- the code went through perfectly.
“Once we get out of the ship,” Hera informed her crew. “They’re going to figure us out. So we just have to make sure as few people see us as possible.”
“And if they do see us?” Sabine asked.
“Do what we usually do.”
Hera slowed the ship down as they got to the hangar of the Star Destroyer, engaging the landing mechanisms and slowly bringing it to land down. Hera turned around once they touched base.
They all nodded, and Hera acknowledged Chopper.
“You watch the ship, alright? Stay out of sight, and comm us if something happens.”
Sabine handed Zeb the big bag of explosives, and he shouldered it. Sabine pulled up a map on one of her gauntlets, holding her blaster in her other hand.
“Ready, Zeb?” Sabine asked.
“Be careful, you two,” Hera reminded them, as they carefully walked out of the ship, looking around for any Imperials that may be watching. Hera looked to Ezra.
“We have to go find the prisoner cells.”
Ezra was still being quiet, but he looked focus.
“I know where they are. Follow me.”
Hera first wanted to ask him how he knew, but she also had learned to trust when a Jedi said something. She followed Ezra down the ramp of the shuttle, into the hangar of the ship. They watched the stormtroopers in the hangar carefully, making sure not to catch their attention as they moved between different ships to hide from them until they finally reached a hallway. Hera followed Ezra through what seemed almost like a maze of corridors, sneaking around patrolling stormtroopers until they finally reached a hallway where Ezra stopped.
“Is he down this way?” Hera asked.
“Yes.” They walked slower down the hall, Hera holding her blaster at the ready. They’d gotten lucky so far- no stormtroopers that they had gotten into firefights with, no causing a commotion to set off alarms. It was making Hera nervous.
Ezra was checking each of the cells as they passed, peeking into the small slits in the doors. He finally stopped at one, gasping quietly.
“This one,” he whispered. “He’s in here.”
He pressed a button on the lock panel outside the door, but it didn’t do anything- it needed a key in the console to unlock the door. The Empire rarely locked cell doors from the outside, hera realized. Maybe they were expecting them.
But it was too late now. Ezra pulled a tool out of his backpack, getting to work on the lock of the door. Hera patted her hand against her leg nervously. She again scanned the hallway, while waiting for Ezra to get the cell door open.
Maybe Sabine and Zeb were drawing stormtroopers, if they’d gotten noticed by the reactor. She hoped it wouldn’t overwhelm them before they could leave. If that were the case, Sabine and Zeb’s distraction seemed to be working- she and Ezra hadn’t run into any Imperials yet. And as far as she knew, Chopper hadn’t been discovered.
“Ezra, she whispered. It was almost a hiss, and when he looked up to her somewhat fearfully she silently chided herself, softening her tone. “Everything okay?”
“Yeah, yeah,” he responded quietly, refocusing and still working on the lock. “Almost done, I just need to…” his voice trailed off as he continued.
A second later, the door flew open, and Ezra grinned proudly at Hera before they both walked slowly into the cell. Kanan’s head was down, and his eyes were closed. He was strapped into an interrogation chair, which was almost completely upright.
If it wasn’t for the nervous twitches she noticed in one of his fingers, Hera would’ve assumed he was unconscious.
Maybe that’s what he was going for.
Hera cleared her throat.
“How many times now have I come to your rescue?”
Kanan looked up sharply, his eyes snapping open. He looked between both Ezra and Hera, a relieved (and surprised) smile slowly growing on his face. Now that he was looking up at them, and his face less cast in shadow, Hera could see that he was paler than usual, with some sweat on his face. It made her heart hurt.
“Well,” Kanan said, his voice slightly dry but not enough to totally negate his humorous tone. “Someone’s gotta be your damsel in distress.
Hera just snorted. “Yeah, you’re quite the damsel.”
She approached him, getting close to the chair he was bound to. She tapped at the restraints. Besides the chair was a droid, with a sharp-ended, protruding arm, presumably for shocking and torturing prisoners.
For shocking and torturing Kanan.
She met Kanan’s eyes, and he smiled softly at her.
Suddenly, the restraints unclasped, and Kanan fell forward into her arms. Hera gasped as she caught him (with some effort, he was a little bigger than her), and looked to Ezra, who was standing at a small control panel, his finger just above the button he had just pressed.
“Sorry…” Ezra said sheepishly.
Kanan laughed as he righted himself a bit, still leaning on Hera, though she didn't mind the extra weight.
“It’s alright, kid, come here.”
Ezra smiled at him, and came over to Kanan to quickly hug him, and Kanan returned the hug with one arm, the other still holding on to Hera.
“Let’s get out of here, huh?” Kanan said, and Hera smiled.
Chapter 41: Rescue II
“I said don’t move!” Hera snapped.
“You almost kicked me!”
Hera finished her work on his wound and then wound the bandage around his leg. When she backed up, Kanan tested it with a kick, though winced as it still hurt.
“You’ve gotta take it easy while that heals, love.”
“Those are some bold words coming from you,” Kanan laughed. He smiled at her as she stood up and sat next to him. As usual, Kanan was enamored by her, and the (relative) gentleness as she’d taken care of him made his heart even more full.
“I’m so lucky,” Kanan said. It more just fell out of his mouth than anything else. Hera just nodded.
“Yeah, you are. If they’d aimed a little higher and hit your knee, it could’ve been a lot worse. I probably wouldn’t really have known what to do, and it’s not like we can just go see any doctor.”
“Oh, yeah,” Kanan said quietly. “That would’ve been bad.”
Hera smiled at him. “I’d hate to lose you, you know.”
Kanan didn’t bother trying to hide the smile on his face. He nudged her gently with his arm. “I’d hate to lose you too.”
“Someone has to keep the ship running, right?”
He snorted indignantly. “Someone has to make sure that you eat real food, too.”
“Instant noodles are real food!” Hera protested, but both of them melted into laughter, Kanan putting his arm over Hera’s shoulders and pulling her close to him.
Kanan was leaning on Hera as they both followed only a few steps behind Ezra, who kept looking back as if to make sure they were still there. He hated putting his weight on Hera, making her keep him upright- he hated that he’d been left so weak and vulnerable- but she didn’t seem to mind at all. It was one of many things he truly admired about her.
He still couldn’t believe they’d come for him at all. He still didn’t know how they knew he was here, and why they’d pull a stunt as dangerous as flying headfirst into a Star Destroyer.
He had a lot of questions, but one was picking at him the most.
“How are we getting out?”
“We stole a shuttle,” Hera explained quietly. “We’ll just leave.”
“And they’ll just let us?”
“They’re going to be preoccupied.”
“With what?” Kanan asked.
There was a loud boom, and the ship rocked. Hera put more pressure onto Kanan for a few moments to keep him upright as the ship rocked, and Kanan caught a sly grin on her face.
“With Sabine and Zeb’s distraction.”
Kanan chuckled. “You always have a plan, don’t you?”
“Of course,” Hera said.
They rounded a corner, still following Ezra.
Kanan couldn’t imagine how painful his capture was for him. First, his parents were taken by the Empire, and now he was too. He was grateful that Ezra was able to see him be rescued and okay.
Of course, Kanan still wasn’t sure if he could stay with them, as much as he wanted to. As long as the Inquisitor was out there, having a Jedi with them would be dangerous.
But he was beginning to have second thoughts about leaving them all yet again.
They opened the door to the hangar. There was Imperial personnel scurrying about, but they didn’t seem to notice them, being too worried about whatever that explosion was.
“The reactor blew!” an officer yelled as he ran past them. Kanan looked at Hera, shocked.
“They blew up the reactor ?”
“Don’t worry about it, we’re leaving, Chopper should be right-”
Hera stopped midsentence, and stopped walking too.
“Where’s Chopper?” Ezra asked quietly.
“I- I don’t know. Do you- did he move the ship?”
Kanan couldn’t help but groan. Maybe Chopper had gotten found out, and flown away.
So he was going to die here. Just now, his friends- his family- were going to too.
Blasterfire sounded from behind them, and Kanan looked over his shoulder to see Zeb and Sabine coming towards them, engaged in a firefight with stormtroopers. Hera stiffened, still holding onto Kanan, but she pulled him to hide behind a TIE Fighter. Sabine and Zeb soon regrouped with them, and they all hid behind the wing, Sabine and Zeb leaning around the sides on occasion to shoot at the stormtroopers.
“Where did Chopper go?” Sabine asked.
“I have no idea,” Hera said, taking her comm and lifting it up.
“Figured he’d cut and run,” Zeb grumbled.
“No,” Hera protested, as her comm rang. “Chopper would never do that.”
There were warbles coming in through her comm, which Kanan could only half-understand. He said something about Fulcrum, but Kanan couldn’t make out the rest over all of the commotion. But it had to be good- Hera was smiling.
She put her comm down, and Kanan tilted his head.
“He’s on his way.”
She looked out towards the open space they could see out towards the hangar, and Kanan just watched her for a few moments- studying the features of her profile before looking into the stars with her.
Some ships came in, jumping out of hyperspace- the Ghost at the head of them, and Kanan didn’t really recognize the others. They appeared to catch Zeb’s attention too.
“What’s all that?”
“The Rebel Network,” Hera said proudly.
It did look like a military, Kanan noticed. But he didn’t really have time to think about anything other than getting out of the Star Destroyer at the moment.
The Ghost - presumably being flown by Chopper, was flying towards the hangar of the Star Destroyer, with the other ships flanking it. One of the other hangars, one further from the reactor, must have already noticed the ships, because TIE Fighters began scurrying out of the ship like a flock of bird and attacking the ships, who seemed to be doing rather well against the assault.
But Kanan didn’t have too much time to watch the dogfight.
“Hey, Kanan,” Sabine said. “Your friend is here.”
Kanan cursed quietly, and Hera looked at him, concerned.
“Where’s your lightsaber?”
“He has it.”
Hera pursed her lips, and Kanan looked around to the Inquisitor. He pulled away from leaning on Hera and stood up, leaning against the TIE Fighter that acted as their cover.
“Kanan, no!” he heard Hera say, but he walked around.
He could see the Inquisitor facing him, his circular lightsaber in his hand. More importantly, he could see his own lightsaber hanging on his belt. The Inquisitor was coming towards him, and while there was a distance between them Kanan could almost see a grin on his face.
Sabine, Zeb and Hera were all firing at the Inquisitor, slowing him down as he tried to deflect them all. Kanan extended a hand, mustering all his power to pull his own lightsaber off the belt of the Inquisitor. When it landed in his hand, he ignited it, holding it up defensively.
He was in no shape to fight the Inquisitor, even with the whole crew backing him up. But if it was what it took to protect them all, then he’d die trying.
“Kanan, the ship!” Hera called.
He spared a glance backwards- the Ghost had landed just inside the hangar, and there were some people in uniforms that Kanan didn’t recognize down the ramp with blasters ready, keeping any Imperials who tried to get to it at bay. Hera came to the side of Kanan where he wasn’t holding his lightsaber to support him, shooting at the Inquisitor and the stormtroopers as they all backed up into the Ghost , with Kanan blocking as many shots as he could with his lightsaber. As they were going up the ramp, the Inquisitor seemed to be getting angrier and angrier.
“No!” he roared. Kanan watched in horror as he threw his lightsaber, sending it spinning towards the crew. He deactivated his own lightsaber and let it drop onto the floor of the Ghost ’s cargo bay, and threw both of his arms forward, focusing entirely on the spinning lightsaber. It stopped in mid-air, and Kanan strained to keep it still. It inched forward just a little bit, and Kanan grunted as he tried to throw it back, but all he could do was push it back out of the way of the Ghost ’s ramp. Zeb smacked the button to close up the ramp, and once it lifted up enough Kanan finally let go, collapsing to the floor from the effort, next to his lightsaber.
Hera was beside him, wrapping her arms around him in a tight hug. The people with the uniforms Kanan didn’t recognize were talking to Zeb and Sabine, and Ezra kneeled down besides Kanan too.
Hera finally pulled away from Kanan, but he didn’t have a chance to say anything because Ezra quickly hugged him too. Kanan chuckled and returned the hug, letting Ezra bury his head into his shoulder. He saw Hera stand up out of the corner of his eye, patting him on the shoulder.
“I’ll go talk to Chopper, and see how he pulled this off,” she said, and Kanan nodded. She left, and Ezra leaned back from Kanan, smiling at him before reaching in his pocket and handing him-
“Is that my holocron?” Kanan asked, taking it in one hand and turning it over.
Ezra nodded nervously. “I didn’t know what it was, but-”
Kanan’s eyes narrowed as he considered Ezra in a new light. “Did you open it?”
“It opened itself! I was just holding it and it started… floating and stuff.”
Kanan laughed, and set the holocron to the side to hug Ezra again quickly.
“You’ve got the Force, kid! I- I should’ve known it all along.”
Ezra laughed too. “Does this mean I can be a Jedi?”
Kanan chewed on his lip. Ezra deserved a real Jedi master to train him. Someone who knew what they were doing, who didn’t stop their learning as a padawan.
But Jedi masters were in short supply, so Kanan would have to try his best.
“Yeah,” Kanan answered. “I’ll train you.”
“Will I get a lightsaber?”
“Well…” Kanan said. “We’ll see about that.”
How he was going to get Ezra a kyber crystal, Kanan didn’t know. But he’d try and figure it out for him.
Kanan was overjoyed about Ezra being a Jedi. He was nervous about training him- he wasn’t sure if he trusted himself to be a good teacher- but having that commonality with Ezra could only make them get even closer, and Kanan truly wanted them.
And in addition, it meant he had a reason to stay with the crew. He couldn’t defend both himself and Ezra from the Inquisitor (hell, he couldn’t even defend himself).
They both needed the crew.
He needed Hera.
Hera pulled the Ghost up once she was sure that Zeb and Sabine were in, admiring the Lothal sky as she did. She let out a deep sigh as they flew, relieved that they’d made it. They always did, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t worry about them.
She was proud of Sabine and Zeb, with how they’ve grown and how much they’d done in their time together. They really were a family, and they worked together well in all of the aspects of their lives. And Chopper, of course, was that ever-present part of her life, who was always right alongside her and part of her family.
“Chop, I’ll go check on those two, you keep us in the air, alright?”
Chopper acknowledged her with a little wave of his mechanical arm, and Hera smiled at him as she stood up out of her seat.
“Make sure you watch the spires,” Hera reminded him.
They hadn’t been on Lothal all that long, but Hera was enjoying her time there. The Imperial presence wasn’t overly powerful, but there were still plenty of people that needed help, especially in places like Tarkintown. Plus, it had plenty of wide, open space for the Ghost to land without drawing the Empire’s attention.
Hera went down the hall, and she heard some voices in the cargo bay- Zeb and Sabine’s, but also one that she didn’t recognize, which was certainly odd. Hera frowned and stepped on the balcony looking over the bay.
“-his name is-” she heard a voice- one of a younger boy- saying. But he didn’t finish his sentence- as Hera looked over the railing, she gripped it and gasped loudly, drawing everyone’s attention up towards her.
Including Kanan Jarrus’.
Hera cupped Kanan’s face in her hand.
“Feeling any better, love?”
Kanan nodded against her. “Mmhmm. I haven’t seen a real doctor in ages, it was nice.”
Hera laughed. “I know, I think I’ll have them look at all of us. It’s been a while.”
“At least the kids,” Kanan agreed, and Hera smiled at him. They both had their priorities in line as far as that went, but even after being rescued she could tell he was still apprehensive towards the Rebel Network being more of a military. Didn’t help that the ship the Ghost looked very battle-ready.
But that wasn’t what she wanted to talk with him about, not right then anyway.
She shifted, sitting tight next to Kanan in his bunk.
“I talked to Ezra. He’s in a good mood.”
Kanan sighed. “I don’t know how good of a teacher I’ll be. I’ll try my best, I just wish he had more options. He’s stuck with me.”
Hera shook her head. Kanan had a tendency to be insecure for as long as she’d known him, even if he tried to hide it.
“You underestimate yourself,” Hera said. “You know Ezra, and I think you’ll figure out the teaching thing pretty quick. I taught you those piloting tricks, remember? You’re a fast learner.”
Kanan nodded, and Hera rubbed his arm gently.
“At least something got you to stay.”
“Hey,” Kanan protested gently. “You were right, I shouldn’t have gone off alone, I realize that now. I’m staying right here, with you. I promise, I won’t leave again. Ever.”
Hera pursed her lips. She wanted to trust that.
“How can I believe you?”
Kanan smiled sadly at her. “I- I don’t know. But I’ll prove it to you.”
Hera traced her fingers down his arm to his hand, taking it and holding it tight. “You better.”
She kissed him softly, and then they just rested against each other, listening to their breathing. Hera had been so worried about him, so desperate to rescue him once she knew he was captured, and now she was grateful he was here.
She wanted to tell him, but she didn’t have to. She got the idea that he definitely knew.
Someone knocked on the door, and Hera sat up.
“Probably just Ezra,” Kanan said. Hera nodded and walked over to the door, opening it. She was greeted by a woman- a tall Togruta, orange with long montrals and white marks across her face. Hera saw her a couple times on the rebel’s ship, but didn’t really notice her- though now, Hera realized, she had two things hanging at her sides that must be lightsabers.
The woman smiled at her. “Hera Syndulla. It’s nice to finally meet you in person.”
Hera furrowed her brows, before her eyes quickly widened. “Fulcrum?”
She chuckled. “My name is Ahsoka Tano. Is that your Jedi back there?”
Hera nodded. “Yes, that’s Kanan.”
Kanan sat up in the bed, giving Ahsoka a wave.
“You’ve caused quite a stir, Kanan.”
“If I’m recognizing your name right, then I think you know what that’s like.”
Ahsoka laughed more openly then, though Hera was just confused- but if those were lightsabers that Ahsoka was carrying, then maybe she and Kanan knew each other from their Jedi days.
“We’ll definitely be in touch,” Ahsoka said. “I just wanted to introduce myself.”
Hera nodded. “Thank you for stopping by, and for all the help you’ve given us over the years. You’ve saved our lives. And be careful mentioning that you’re Fulcrum to Sabine- she’ll have a lot of questions.”
Ahsoka chuckled quietly. “I’ll keep that in mind. We’ll be seeing more of each other; you’re invited to a meeting with some of the Network’s leaders tomorrow, if you’re available.”
Hera felt excitement build inside of her. “I am. I’ll see you there.”
Ahsoka waved a quick goodbye before leaving, and Hera shut the door behind her, turning back around to Kanan, who looked less than pleased, and Hera already knew why.
“This won’t make you leave again, will it?”
“Of course not,” Kanan said. His voice was quiet, but still assured. He was telling the truth.
“Good,” Hera said, her voice quiet also, going back over to the bed and sitting next to him. She could tell that the topic wasn’t going to go away, but she didn’t want to argue with him right now.
She leaned her head on his shoulder, and felt him put his arm around her, and Hera couldn’t resist smiling.
However things turned out with the Network, she had faith that they’d be alright.
The first chapter was posted exactly one year ago today- if anybody has been reading it since then, I can't thank you enough for that. I've had a lot of fun writing this story, and I hope it's provided some type of enjoyment for you.
If you got into the story later, then I'm also really thankful to you! Thank you for picking up the story and following along!
Everybody who left kudos or comments also has my thanks! I've read (and reread, and reread again) all of the comments, and they make me smile, and kept me as dedicated to this story as I was.
I hope you liked the story, at least a little bit. Thank you so much for reading. <3