“Caleb. Caleb, wake up.”
He groans, mumbling incoherently into the pillow as he rolls onto his side.
The sudden, quiet hiss of his name is enough to wake him up, at least a little bit. He continues to grumble as he sits up, rubbing his eye tiredly and opening his mouth to complain when he sees his master’s face.
The older faerie looks panicked, or at least as panicked as Caleb’s ever seen her. Her braids are sloppy, looking as if she’s just barely finished them before rushing to wake him up.
“No time. We have to go, Caleb. Now.” He stumbles out of bed as her leonine tail lashes, indicating her anxiety. Once his first door is on the floor she grasps his hand, already tugging him after her as he stumbles to regain his balance.
“Wait, Depa, what—“
“I’ll explain later.” She pauses at a corner, glancing around before pulling him after her.
She rounds another corner and stops, shoving him behind her and opening her hand to summon her lightsaber at the same time. The faintly shimmering sword suddenly meets another, red-tinged one—and Caleb’s blood runs cold.
He turns and bolts, holding out his hand but not bothering to watch as his weapon appears in his grasp. Skidding around a corner, he hears the familiar sparking hiss as the weapons met, the sound of metal on metal lingering in the air as they break away only to clash together again. He keeps running, heart pounding in his throat.
Just an Unseelie. He can alert the guards, and then—
He rounds another corner and comes face to face with a blue-tinged lightsaber. He sighs in relief, breathing heavily and preparing for the words to pour out until he stops and gets a good look at the guard’s body language.
The helmeted faerie is standing defensively, hand and weapon out. Unease flickers in his mind. The whisper is soft when it comes.
He turns around and bolts, just in time to avoid the sharp arc that the guard’s weapon makes. A fraction of a second longer, and his head would’ve been separated from the rest of him.
Get out get out ge—
The rhythmic chanting in his head screeches to a halt, along with him, as he turns a corner and the sight of one of the guards fighting another Jedi, one he can’t remember the name of, meets him head on. Caleb turns once again, before the guard can notice, and runs.
He’s bolting down corridors heedlessly, just knowing he needs to get away, not caring how.
He skids to a stop and hurriedly backtracks to the door, wrenching it open and stepping out.
It looks as if the Seven Underworlds have broken loose.
Kanan gasps, panting heavily as the heat leaves him.
He’s not in the humidity of the midsummer night in the Seelie Court, he’s—
It’s cooler here. He grounds himself with that, allowing his fingers to dig themselves into the damp earth, curling around the larra grass as he breathes in deeply. The Court hadn’t smelled of horses and ash trees, not the same way it smells here.
And Caleb isn’t here, only Kanan.
But it’s not only him. It’s Hera, lying only a few feet away and stiller than the breeze had been on that night, the slight movement of her chest the only sign she’s alive. Ghost and Phantom dozing on their feet, the latter’s ear twitching every few seconds. Chopper, stretched out on his side with his own tail splayed out across his hind legs as his back touches Hera’s side lightly. Zeb, one leg crossed over the other in a manner that would leave anyone who doesn’t know him unsure if he’s really asleep or not, snoring loudly several meters away. And only a meter or two away from him, the kid, Ezra, curls in on himself as if trying to shield himself from something. Knowing where the kid came from, Kanan doesn’t blame him.
He doesn’t need to look to know Sabine’s on watch, likely awakened by nightmares of whatever she was trying to remember. And any attempt to take over her shift will get the same rebuttal.
That doesn’t mean he can’t sit with her as well.
Grunting softly, he gets to his feet, ignoring the memory of the searing heat that had greeted him upon opening the door to—
No. He shakes his head as he walks, running a hand through his loose hair in an attempt to untangle it enough to tie it back into its usual tail as he approaches Sabine. The teenager’s leaning against the front of a large rock that makes up most of the cliff that overlooks the valley below. If it was anyone else, he’d be surprised by the fact that she’s managing to keep her balance like that on the precipice.
However, it’s Sabine, and very few things about her surprise him anymore.
He clears his throat as he approaches, not wanting to startle her into falling off. She turns her head just enough to see that it’s him who’s walking up to sit on the edge of the rock above her before returning her gaze to the drop below.
He’s okay to let the silence remain as they take comfort in each other’s presence. He breathes in through his nose deeply, letting it out as a heavy sigh as he starts to tie his hair back. Sabine stays motionless, arms crossed as she stares down.
“Can’t sleep?” she asks finally, and he knows it’s to break the silence more than anything else.
She gives a short, breathy laugh in response, and they fall silent again. This time, it's him who speaks first.
“How long have you been up here?”
She shrugs, uncaring as a couple of pebbles slide loose from the dirt at the movement and skitter down the slope below. “A few hours, maybe. Took over for Zeb.”
She hesitates before nodding, and he doesn’t press her. She’ll answer in her own time, he knows. Or not. Either way, it’s her choice.
Or maybe dawn will come first.
It doesn’t matter which. It never has. Sighing again, he grabs the leather cord that’s wrapped around his wrist and pulls it loose in a swift motion as the other hand holds his hair back. Twisting it around before tying it off, he glances at Sabine again. Unlike him, she’s completely awake, showing no sign of falling asleep again or even of being tired as she stares out into the open air.
“Do you want to come sit up here, at least? You’re making me a bit nervous.” He tries to soften the suggestion with a joke, though he knows if she could read auras she’d see the truth in it immediately.
It’s a long moment before she responds in any way, but finally she nods and turns, more rocks rolling down the sheer slope as she throws herself up onto the rock, pulling herself up more before swinging a leg over and rolling into a crouch. She sits on the edge near his feet, kicking her legs and still staring aimlessly at the valley below them.
Sighing, Kanan sits as well, kneeling despite the hard rock beneath as he casts her a sideways glance.
“You know you can always talk to us if you remember something, right?”
She jumps, as if having forgotten he was there. Nodding hurriedly, Sabine replies. “Ye- yeah, I know.”
He nods. “Good.” They lapse into silence once more, but it's easier, and it doesn’t feel the need to be broken any longer.
“So when do I get one of those?”
Kanan smiles, raising an eyebrow and then his lightsaber. “This?”
“Yeah. Don’t all faeries get one?”
“You don’t just ‘get one,’ kid, you’ve gotta earn it.”
Kanan claps a hand on his shoulder, smiles, and he could be wrong but he doesn’t think the man notices his slight flinch.
Kanan’s smile only widens. “Training.” He holds the sword out to Ezra, whose eyes only widen as he studies the shimmering blade almost reverently. He ignores the man’s hand underneath his on the hilt, focusing instead of running his hand on the sword hilt.
Kanan extends another hand, stopping him before his grasp goes past the pommel. “You’ll burn yourself, kid.”
“It isn’t iron,” he mutters, twisting away mouth to rid the pommel of Kanan’s second hand and returning his grip to the hilt anyway. Kanan barks out a short laugh.
“That would burn anyone, faerie or no. And I think you’d like to keep all your fingers today.”
Ezra rolls his eyes, but takes the advice to heart. He gives the blade an experimental test swing, letting the not-completely-solid metal slice through the air in a wide arc. As the blade leaves Kanan’s grasp, however, it disappears. Turning back to Kanan, he raises an eyebrow.
“It only works for me, if I’m touching it. No one else can use it.” Ezra nods in understanding, still staring at the same place the sword had been before dissolving.
“Who made this?”
“I did,” he admits after a beat, eyes flickering down for a moment. “Back when the Seelie Court wasn’t...dissolved.”
“Alright, I have a question. Wh—“
“Not yet.” He shakes his head before continuing. “If you do this right, then you can ask one.”
Ezra sighs, glowers, but nods. He stoops to pick up the training stick from the ground again and raises it in a defensive position.
Kanan chuckles, shakes his head. He approaches and starts to fix the teen’s stance.
“We’ve got a long way to go, kid.”
It’s several weeks later, when they’re traveling, that he starts to get a hint as to what they’re really doing here. They stop the wagon at a fork in the road, and Kanan and Hera start arguing. Finally the dark-skinned woman gets out, Kanan following. They stop in front of the horses, and he notices Hera absently toying with Phantom’s forelock as she continues arguing with him in hushed tones.
He glances over at Sabine nervously. The pair, along with Zeb and Chopper—the latter of which is wandering somewhere in the woods nearby—are taking their turn out of the wagon for a change; Ezra never particularly likes taking his turns with Sabine because she’ll never talk to him. Or to anyone, really.
“What?” she asks with a strong undertone of exasperation, turning to him as if noticing him for the first time.
“What’re they arguing about?”
She shrugs. “Not sure. Ask Zeb.”
He turns to Zeb. Before he can even ask him the same question, the Lasat shakes his head.
“I dunno, kid.”
He groans in frustration, before blinking at an unfamiliar sound. Kanan’s unhitching Phantom from the wagon, and Hera’s standing by in tense silence. Ezra takes an unconscious step forward.
At the motion, Kanan turns, sees him, and makes a beckoning gesture. “Kid, let’s go.”
He approaches hesitantly, glancing up. “Go where?”
“I’ll explain later. But we have to hurry right now.”
Ezra nods slowly, and then Kanan’s handing him Phantom’s reins and unhitching Ghost, too. His brows shoot up in surprise.
“So everyone else is just staying here?”
“They’re hiding in the woods. Chopper might be able to take them a little farther, but Hera’s not sure. Wherever they are, they’ll be safe, and we’ll be back soon. Now mount up.”
“Um...okay…” he says slowly before leading the pony to a tree stump nearby. Phantom snorts as he gets on, raising a back hoof and threatening to kick out. Kanan mounts from the ground, bringing Ghost over without complaint from either party.
“ Let's get going, kid. We’re burning daylight.”
Ezra nods, finally getting the pony to move forward, albeit hesitantly. Together, the pair heads off onto the left fork of the road.
As soon as they round a bend and they’re out of sight, Kanan pushes Ghost into a trot, Ezra struggling momentarily to get Phantom to follow suit. Ezra glances over at the man while they’re trotting, and he swallows. Finally, he dares to ask his question.
“So why are we leaving them?”
“Hera said a contact of hers brought her a lead. She was gonna bring us all along, but.” He sighs.
“It’s less dangerous if just us two go to investigate it?” he asks in an attempt to fill in the gaps in Kanan’s explanation.
“No, it’s just the location. It’s near the sea. It’s easier for Hera if she doesn’t go.”
Something about Kanan’s explanation sounds off, and nags at him, but he shrugs it off, only nodding in response and falling silent as he quietly urges Phantom to keep pace with the larger grey mare.