Protecting Hera

Ezra knew Hera could take care of herself. He knew that, and he respected his captain, admired her bravery, quick wit, and kindness, and marveled at her skill. Yes, Hera Syndulla captain and pilot of the Ghost could take care of herself.

Ezra knew that, but he was still struggling with the concept that Hera Syndulla the pretty, very pretty in Ezra's opinion, Twi'lek was just as strong off the ship as she was on it.

Ezra knew that on or off the Ghost Hera could be a formidable foe. He knew that. . . in his head. He was still struggling to convince the rest of him.

Ezra trudged after Hera as she flitted from vendor to vendor and sighed, though it came out more as a growl. He was annoyed. Not because he had to go on a supply run on one of the very few days the crew unanimously decided to do nothing. Not because he was the only one Hera had dragged along with her to go shopping. Not even because he'd been turned into a human carrier droid. No, he was annoyed because once again it was happening.

His eyes narrowed as a few more heads turned to stare after Hera. His trudge became more of a stomp as he hurried to place himself between her and the lecherous gazes. He made sure to catch each of their eyes with his own, and most quickly looked away, not willing to anger the already grumpy teen.

Ezra huffed and readjusted his hold on the supplies, quickly replacing his glare with his more familiar smile as Hera turned to him.

"What do you think, Ezra? Should we stick with jogans or get something different?"

"Umm," came his oh so intelligent reply.

"Hmm, you're right," Hera agreed. "Since we actually have an option, let's get a variety."

Ezra rolled his eyes but didn't bother pointing out that he hadn't actually answered since this was the 5th time it'd happened. He watched her size up the different fruit venders and his scowl returned. Even just standing there in pilots' clothes, the most unflattering clothing imaginable, Hera was still drawing attention.

Ezra's scowl morphed into a worried frown. It wasn't that he didn't think she deserved it, because she did, but that fact the Hera didn't notice or care? Her apparent obliviousness to the danger her attractiveness put her in drove Ezra crazy. It was all he could do to keep slipping into a full blown panic every time someone stared at her too long or too intently, which was what happened every time someone looked at her.

Ezra started forward again as the source of his worrying moved out of sight. It seemed Hera had finally chosen someone to haggle with. Of course the way Hera haggled often looked like friendly banter or flirting to Ezra. The first he didn't mind, much, but the second. . .

Ezra made sure to stop right next to Hera, angling himself so he could see around the pile of supplies he was carrying. If his position meant that Hera couldn't see him glaring at the sleazy looking Ailuvian*. . .Well, that was just an unexpected bonus.

The man's reptilian red eyes sized him up before turning to Hera.

"May I help you, miss?"

"You have quite a variety here," Hera said, and the man turned his attention back to her. "I don't think I've seen some of them."

"Ah, yes," the reptile hissed. "I've been told I have many things people have not seen before, but I assure you they have all been well received."

Ezra scoffed and Hera pinched him.

"You'll want to be careful with that one." A reptilian hand shot out as Hera reached for a large, black fruit. "If you get too close to the center of a Barabel fruit it will fill your mouth full of seeds."

'Just what is that slimy reptile trying to say?' Ezra's glare increased, but Hera's hand pinched him again telling him to stay quiet.

"I don't think I've seen this type before." Hera gestured to a small pile of golden fruit. "What is it?"

"That's plaitfruit. It can be a bit fickle to work with, handle it too long and it'll get hard."

Ezra's face purpled, and his arm received a new bruise courtesy of Hera's pinch happy fingers.

"Do you mind if I check the freshness?"

"You can touch anything of mine you like," the Ailuvian offered with a smile that was much too suggestive for Ezra's liking leer.

Ezra's snarl was cut short by a yelp as Hera dug her heel into his foot. He simmered, glaring furiously at the vender who had the audacity to smirk at him!

"Alright, I think we'll take a few of each," Hera decided. "How much?"

"22 credits."

"Don't you think that's a little much?" Hera asked, frowning in a slightly pouty way.

"We all have our needs to take care of," The Ailuvian replied with a leer, and it definitely a leer. The crates rattled as Ezra shook with rage, and Hera's heel came crashing down on his foot again. Ezra's glare lost some of its effectiveness as his eyes began to water.

"Of course we do," Hera agreed. "But don't you think we could make a more reasonable deal?"

"I'd like to think I was reasonable. What are you offering me?"

Ezra's foot wasn't going to survive the day if Hera didn't stop abusing it, but at least the man was now well aware of Ezra's opinion. Of course the look Hera gave him quite clearly said "Shut up and let me handle this, or else!"

Ezra swallowed. Maybe he should let her handle just this one? Yeah, he would just stand there and look intimidating, and if Hera needed some help he was ready, more than ready! This would be an exercise in patience, Kanan would be proud.

He let out a long, slow breath and let the bargaining wash over him. He was actually doing quite well, just glaring and growling on occasion. . . Ok, maybe every few seconds.

Then he touched her lekku.

That was an intimate gesture, and meant one thing and one thing only.

He wasn't even aware of moving, just that one second the man was touching Hera and the next he was on the ground.

Ezra's hand throbbed slightly, but with Hera safely behind him it was an oddly satisfying feeling.

". . . and that's why Hera's mad at me," Ezra finished.

Kanan sighed and scratched the back of his head as he looked down at the boy in front of him. Ezra's head was bowed, hands hidden in his pockets, and shoulders hunched up defensively as he scuffed one foot on the metal floor. Kanan blew out a puff of air, fighting the urge to smile. The kid's demeanor made him look like a pouting puppy.

"Hera's right," he said bluntly. "She can take care of herself, but."

Ezra's head shot up as Kanan placed a hand on his shoulder.

"Just because she can doesn't mean she should. You did the right thing." Kanan let his smile show. "I'm proud of you."

He ruffled Ezra's hair through his hat, ignoring the automatic squawk of "Don't touch my hat!" that did nothing to diminish the beaming smile on Ezra's face. He watched Ezra scamper away still smiling, and shook his head.

"For someone who was supposed to be scolded, Ezra doesn't look to upset."

Kanan looked over to see Hera leaning against the door to the cockpit, eyebrow raised in question.

"Ezra told me what happened," Kanan replied, moving to lean against the wall next to her. "I didn't see any reason to punish him."

Hera rolled her eyes and straightened, one hand coming to rest on her hip.

"He broke the man's nose."

"Good," Kanan answered. 'Wish I'd had the pleasure.'

Something of his thoughts must have showed on his face because Hera's lips thinned.

"I can take care of myself," she said icily. "Perhaps you need to be reminded of that?"

She smiled at him, a very predatory smile, and a sense of impending doom washed over him.

"That isn't necessary," Kanan assured swiftly, backing away. "That's one lesson I don't think I'll ever forget."

"A little reinforcement never hurts," Hera shot back sweetly, grabbing him by the ponytail.

'It hurts me!' Kanan thought, but wisely kept his mouth shut as Hera tugged him along.

Ezra stared up at the sky and let out a long breath, before dropping his gaze back down.

"Kanan's right," he admitted with a grin. "Hera can take care of herself."

Perched on top of the Ghost, Ezra's grin widened as he watched Kanan fended off a very skilled and highly annoyed Twi'lek.

"Oooh," he winced. "He's gonna feel that tomorrow!"

Author's Notes:

* Another completely made up alien. I picture the species looking like a cross between a Twi'lec and a Fallen (both are actual species in the Star Wars universe) but you can imagine it any way ya want.

Oh, and if you didn't get the innuendoes, then you're too young to understand.