Kanan rolled the commlink slowly in his hands. He had just finished listening to Ezra's message for the second time. He had first found the comm in his pocket shortly after they had arrived at the rebel fleet and taken Ezra to the medical bay. But he had not noticed the recorded message until now, almost two days later. As soon as he heard it, he sought out Hera. He pulled her aside so that she could listen to it too, and now they sat in silence in a vacant meeting room.
"He was really going to do it," Hera at last said quietly.
Kanan didn't know how to process what had happened. In his dream (vision?) right before he had woken up on the nikto's ship, Master Billaba had appeared to him and made him aware of the situation. But still, a part of him had refused to believe it until now. The finality in Ezra's voice, the acceptance-it was too much. Kanan felt like an utter failure. His master had once sacrificed herself to save him, and he had almost let his padawan do the same thing. Ezra was just a kid. Growing up fast, sure, but still just a kid. If anyone should be doing the sacrificing, it was Kanan. Not the other way around.
Hera laid her hand over his. "You should be proud. What he did was very brave."
"He's an idiot," Kanan growled. "He almost died Hera. What was he thinking? What possessed him to believe that he could just throw away his life like that?!"
"I think it was you, Love," she replied gently. "Ezra learns by example. He wasn't throwing his life away, he was going to give it in protection of someone he loved. Just like you were willing to do."
"I know!" he snapped. Then with a sigh he ran one hand down his face and said more calmly, "I know. But I never wanted him to have to put that lesson into practice. Not for me. I didn't mean for this to happen."
"Of course you didn't. That's why it's not your fault."
"It is my fault. Explain to me how I come out without a scratch and my apprentice gets a concussion, multiple cuts, and a blaster burned leg, and it's not my fault. I'm the one who got myself captured on a mission and put him in a situation where he thought there was no other way out." After a brief pause he added, "A mission we wouldn't have even been on if the Rebellion hadn't wanted us to go."
Hera withdrew her hand. "The mission was a success," she said with quiet firmness. "We delivered supplies to people who desperately needed them."
"And it almost cost us a crew member."
"Almost. Ezra's going to be fine. The medical droids say he's recovering quickly. Our allies were there to help. Rebel allies."
"Sure. This time," Kanan grumbled.
Just then there came a knock on the door and a moment later Viscar let himself in. "I am sorry to interrupt," he said, "but we are heading back to Nar Shaddaa now. I wanted to thank you again for everything."
Hera smiled at him. "We're the ones who should be thanking you!"
He waved her off. "No, it was our pleasure. Also, I wanted to assure you that your secret is safe with us, Master Jedi."
Kanan stood and shook the rebel's hand. "I appreciate that. After seeing the trouble one gang on a non-Imperial world went through to collect a bounty on me, I'm sure you can understand that the fewer people who know, the better. The rest of your cell doesn't particularly need to know all the details of our escape."
Viscar nodded. "We do understand. There are too few people like you left in the galaxy. I'm honored to help protect them. ...Ah, and I was asked to see about getting one more crate of supplies to bring back with us."
"I'm not the one to talk to about that," Kanan said, gesturing to Hera. "But Captain Syndulla here can get you in touch with the right people."
Hera stood and led him from the room. "Come with me. I'm sure the Rebellion can accommodate you."
Before turning to leave, Viscar asked, "And the boy, Spectre Six? Will he be alright?"
"He's fine," Hera assured him. "In fact Kanan was just going to check on him, weren't you dear?"
"Yeah, I guess I was," Kanan replied sourly. There was more they needed to discuss about their reasons for hanging around the Rebellion for so long when it was clearly proving to be extremely hazardous, but he supposed it could wait until later. He left the two twi'leks to solve the cargo issue and stalked down the hall toward the med bay. He actually did want to check on Ezra, but was not sure exactly what to say to him now. His instincts told him that his padawan needed a good talking-to. His protectiveness told him to order Ezra to stay confined to the Ghost during missions for the next six months. And his heart just wanted to hug him.
When he came to the open doorway to the medical unit, he paused. Zeb's voice carried into the hallway.
"Time to call it, kid. Doc says the leg's no good. We've gotta chop it. I'll do the honors."
"Ha ha, very funny. The droid already told me it's just a burn. A couple more days of kolto and it will be back to normal."
"I don't know Ezra," Sabine joined in. "You look pretty bad. Chopper thinks you should donate your body for scrap parts while there's still anything left worth using."
Chopper agreed with a wah-wah noise.
"You guys are just hilarious," Ezra answered sarcastically. "Zeb's the one you should really worry about though. He's pretty beat up after I saved his life."
"I thought we agreed we were eternally even!" the lasat roared. "An' a few little stitches is nothing compared to a fracture in your tiny human skull."
"Ow! Hairline fracture! And no poking!"
Kanan made his entrance then before any real damage could be done. "Okay you four, that's enough."
Zeb and Ezra both jumped at the sight of him, each muttering something about the other one starting it.
The med bay on the rebel command ship was not large. It only had three beds, a handful of chairs, one bacta tank, and one closet full of medicine and supplies. The two medical droids on staff flitted in and out frequently. Currently, his crew were the only people inhabiting the room. Ezra sat on the edge of one of the beds as his friends stood around him.
"Sabine, Chopper, Zeb: I think Hera could use your help sending off the Nar Shaddaa team," Kanan said as he crossed his arms, making sure they understood there was no room for argument. They all gave Ezra a cursory glance before silently exiting the room. (Well, almost silently. Chopper made comments on the way out that Kanan didn't care to translate).
Ezra looked up at his master sheepishly, seeming to know he was in trouble. It was the first time, Kanan realized, that he had ever really seen him dressed in anything other than his orange flight suit. They had put him in a short white robe and loose pants for optimal treatment purposes. He actually looked a little bit like a jedi. "So...what's up?" the boy asked tentatively.
Kanan pulled up a chair beside the bed. "Found this," he said, producing the commlink.
Ezra's eyes became a little wider than normal, as if he had forgotten all about it. "Oh. Yeah."
They both remained silent for a stretch, uncertain what to say.
Kanan finally sighed. "Look, I'm grateful for what you did. Or were willing to do. But I don't want you to ever try something like that again."
Ezra frowned stubbornly. "I can't promise that."
"You can, and you will," the jedi replied firmly. "You're too reckless. You have to learn to think before you act."
Ezra held his ground. "You said that when the time comes, we have to be ready to sacrifice for something bigger! I didn't get it then, but I do now. I'm ready!"
"I didn't mean me!" Kanan shouted. "I don't want you to sacrifice yourself for me! You're too young! You're too important!"
Ezra shut his mouth, the frown falling off his face.
Kanan leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms. "You almost gave me a heart attack," he muttered, looking away.
His padawan fidgeted his hands for a moment. "How did you know?" he asked then. "How did you already know what I was doing when you woke up? And how could you use the Force? The bounty hunters said they used the Force-suppressor on both of us."
"They did," Kanan replied. "I'm not convinced that was me using the Force."
"What do you mean?"
Kanan hesitated. "Just before I woke up, I had...a vision."
Ezra perked up. "A vision? What about?"
"I saw my master, Depa Billaba. She told me you were about to die. When she reached out to touch me, I understood everything. It was like I had been watching you the whole time I was out. I felt her power flow into me, just like…" Habit told him to stop, not to talk about it, but Ezra was listening intently. "Just like right before she died," he finished. He couldn't bring himself to elaborate.
Ezra seemed to think that over. "So you think...she was helping you somehow?"
Kanan leaned forward and rested his elbows on his knees. "I'm not really sure," he answered honestly. "It doesn't seem very likely, does it?"
"No, that totally makes sense!"
Kanan raised an eyebrow at him.
"I mean I could tell the whole time that something about you felt off. Just really different. Maybe it really was her."
He was constantly impressed by Ezra's rapidly growing abilities. When Kanan first began his training, it took him over a year to be able to distinguish between two force-users by feeling alone.
"I guess...masters never stop watching out for their padawans," Ezra said thoughtfully.
Kanan couldn't stop a smile from cracking his lips. He stood and wrapped one arm around the boy's shoulders, giving him a pat. "You got that right."
Ezra smiled up at him. "But padawans never stop watching out for their masters either! They need a lot of help."
Kanan rolled his eyes, sensing that he was fighting a losing battle. "I guess we'll watch out for each other."
Ezra nodded. "Until the very end."
Kanan would have ruffled his hair had it not been for his recovering injuries. Instead he pulled him into a one armed hug. "Yeah," he said. "Or maybe longer."