Chapter 1: In A New Light
Disclaimer: I don't own anything Star Wars.
There's an explanation of how the calendar works in the original 'Flame of Hope' if you're curious.
Flame of... Kriff That, Get your Ass Home NOW, Ezra Bridger!
In A New Light:
D 2/1 BBY, Mandalore
The day Ezra saved her father was the day Sabine realized that Ezra meant more to her than just a friend. More than her best friend even.
And you know what did it? It was the absolute fear that overtook her as the transport went over the cliff. Sabine wasn't used to being terrified, as there was very little that scared her. But the thought of losing Ezra stopped her heart. Fear for her father was in there too, but Ezra had become her world, and she didn't know when.
Time slowed to a crawl. Her heartbeat became slow and distinct and pounded like a drum in her ears. Her breath stopped. The yell of, "Ezra!" from Kanan was almost inaudible through the white noise that overtook her. She barely registered the distressed beep from Chopper either.
And then... Then a figure flew up and over the cliff just as the last of the three transports was going over the edge.
It was her father. She hadn't seen him in years, but she'd know him anywhere. Sabine remembered to breathe again for half a moment as a temporary joy ripped through her for all of one second.
It was short lived, as her primary focus, one Ezra Bridger, was still, to the best of her knowledge, falling down hundreds of meters to a terrible death.
Time was still moving one millisecond at a time when Sabine jumped off the ground and flew towards the cliff, thanking the Force that she was wearing her own jet pack. She passed Kanan, who'd already taken off at a sprint for the edge of the cliff. She passed Chopper, who was also flying towards the edge of the cliff.
As a hand in a familiar green glove appeared over the edge and then promptly disappeared again, Sabine literally dove for it, throwing her body almost entirely over the edge and just managing to catch onto his hand at the last second before he wasn't within reach anymore. She didn't breathe until she had a good grip on his hand and helped to pull him up as his feet scrambled for purchase.
"I was wondering where you were," Ezra quipped, totally pretending he hadn't had a total panic moment of his own. Somehow, his plan of running and jumping up the falling transports seemed a lot stupider in hindsight. But desperate times and all that.
Once they were both standing on the safety of solid ground, Sabine and Ezra stared at each other, both coming to the realization that he'd almost died. Panting for breath now, Sabine tossed her helmet off, pulled off Ezra's so she could see his face, and grabbed Ezra's shirt in her fists, pulling him right into her personal space. She narrowed her eyes at him fiercely. "Don't DO that to me, Ezra!" Sabine growl yelled as she stared into his absolutely stunning electric blue eyes that she'd been pretending for years weren't the most gorgeous eyes in the galaxy ever.
Ezra tried to shrug off the tension with a dorky half grin. "I couldn't let your father die, now could I? You'd murder me in my sleep."
Sabine's eyes narrowed further and a dangerous sounding growl escaped her, making Ezra's eyes widen in trepidation. She pulled him even closer by her grip on his shirt. Much to both of their surprise, Sabine pressed her mouth to his in a quick, hard kiss. As Ezra blinked at her in absolute shock, Sabine let go of his shirt like it was on fire. "That's for saving my father." Then she punched him as hard as she could in the shoulder, almost knocking him right back off the edge of the cliff. "And that's for scaring me to death!"
As Ezra regained his balance, barely even noticing the throbbing pain in his shoulder from her not so gentle punch, he watched her in speechless wonder as she bent down and grabbed her helmet, jamming it on her head and then flying off to the next cliff ledge above them. He had the ridiculous urge to pinch himself to see if he was actually awake, because he was pretty sure that Sabine had just kissed him. Not long, and not really in a loving fashion, but it was a kiss and it was his first one. Ezra was going to treasure the memory of that forever.
He was still standing in the same spot, staring up at where Sabine had disappeared when Kanan, Alrich, and Chopper joined him.
"So... Just friends, hmmm?" Alrich Wren said teasingly.
Ezra's head turned to look at Sabine's father and he felt himself turning somewhat red. "That's what I thought, I swear."
Alrich and Kanan laughed at him. Even Chopper beeped out his version of laughter.
Ezra flushed darker.
Kanan put a comforting arm across Ezra's shoulders. "Try not to overthink it too much or you'll give yourself a headache. Just let her figure herself out, and I'm pretty sure you'll like the results."
Ezra looked up at his Master / father figure with a raised brow. "So you're cool with it if this actually turns into something?" Ezra asked tentatively.
Kanan shrugged. "Honestly, yes. I'd be a horrible hypocrite if I said otherwise. You might want to ask her father the same question though. He might have a different opinion."
Ezra turned questioning, hopeful eyes back to Alrich. "ARE you okay with Sabine and I... umm. I don't even know what to call it. Dating? I guess? If that wasn't a fluke, that is."
Alrich pretended to look thoughtful, drawing out the suspense for as long as he could without cracking up. He'd only known this boy for maybe two minutes total and he'd already decided he liked him, Jedi or not. When the young man started to fiddle with the hem of his shirt and his expression of hope fell to something decidedly resigned, Alrich figured he better put him out of his misery.
Ezra looked up when he felt a hand that wasn't Kanan's grasp his shoulder and met the amber brown eyes that looked a lot like Sabine's.
"I'm fine with it, if that's what my daughter wants," Alrich reassured, squeezing the boy's shoulder gently. He grinned when the young Jedi's face lit up. "But... I can't speak for my Countess. She's a little more traditional, and I can't see her jumping for joy at the thought of a Jedi in the family."
Ezra went through a variety of emotions in only a couple of sentences. There was excitement at the prospect of maybe dating Sabine in more than his dreams. Then there was trepidation and maybe a little bit of fear at the prospect of dealing with Sabine's mother. (That was one seriously scary woman.) Then there was shock at Alrich suggesting he'd be a family member. As in... Marriage. Holy nerfherders, he'd never even begun to think about that possibility with Sabine yet. Ezra was still in the wishful thinking stage for a real kiss. The whole shebang with living together, and marriage, and KIDS was just beyond him right now. Then again, this was probably all wishful thinking and planning for naught. There was no way Sabine would ever change her mind about him and see him as something more than an annoying kid who might be her friend when she's in the right mood. The whole brief kiss thing was just her letting her emotions take over again and she'd regret it as soon as she thought about it. Her running away right after was proof of that.
Ezra smiled tightly at Alrich. "Yah, well. I doubt the Countess will have to worry about that too much. Sabine will probably just brush it off as a heat of the moment thing and nothing will come of it."
Kanan clapped him on the back with a smile and a strong burst of confidence booster through their bond. "Don't be so quick to dismiss what I just saw as nothing. Sabine surprised me with that one. And I doubt you noticed, since you were kind of preoccupied with not falling to your death at the time, but she was terrified for you. It was very clear to feel in the Force. I think she might have feelings for you too." Ezra looked at Kanan with clear surprise and Kanan chuckled. "Don't give me that look. I've always known you liked her, as it's kind of hard not to notice your emotions through the bond."
Ezra scoffed lightly and called his helmet from the ground with an absent gesture of his hand, tucking it under his arm. 'Like is an understatement,' he thought to himself as he did so. He squared his shoulders and faced Sabine's father and held out his free hand to shake. "Sorry, we've done this all backwards, sir," he said, "But I'm Ezra Bridger and this is my Master, Kanan Jarrus, and we're here to rescue you." Ezra managed to keep a straight face as the older men snorted in amusement at his deadpan humour.
Alrich shook the hand of the young man, liking him even more. "It's nice to meet you, Ezra Bridger."
Ezra and Alrich glanced up at the sky when Kanan (without even moving his masked head) said, "She's coming back. Pretend we weren't just talking about her if you value your life." He was only half joking.
The guys shared a commiserating look before Ezra put his helmet back on to hide his still confused emotions. Alrich shrugged out of Ezra's jet pack and handed it back to him with a, "Thank you, young Jedi."
Sabine was almost shaking as she flew away from Ezra. "What the kriffing hell was that?" she said to herself as she landed far out of sight from the others and kicked a rock in frustration, watching it bounce and skitter across the ground.
Somehow, Sabine had lost her mind and KISSED Ezra. It wasn't even a good kiss. It was a mashing of mouths for a second and a half that didn't really qualify as anything. But it was terribly stupid nonetheless. She must have lost three quarters of her IQ to do something so incredibly stupid. And in front of her father no less.
Sabine stomped across the ground and kicked another rock, finding immense satisfaction in how far it flew. "Di'kut, di'kut, di'kut," she muttered. She'd worked so hard to groom Ezra into a friends only category where everything was pretty much perfect between them. No awkward flirting. No expectations. It had been so easy to talk to him. Now she'd ruined everything. Ezra would get his hopes up again, and start looking at her with those big royal blue eyes like she was shabla perfect again.
Sabine didn't want him to think of her as perfect. She liked it the way it was. She liked that Ezra just saw her for who she was and didn't really judge her. She liked that they could count on each other for anything, as FRIENDS. She liked him as he was too. She liked how they could spend hours talking about everything and nothing. She liked how he had dedicated himself to being a Jedi and taking care of his family and the galaxy as best as he could. She liked him more every day, it seemed.
Sabine came to a dead halt and her eyes widened behind her helmet. Bloody hell. She LIKE liked him. When had that happened? She hadn't seen him in months, but had missed him like crazy. Of course, Sabine had just written that off as not feeling like Krownest was her home anymore, so she was longing for people who did. Then he appears in the Wren stronghold asking for help and her heart had skipped a beat or two to see him again, looking a fraction taller and more filled out, but she hadn't actually noticed that, not in the forefront of her mind. Now though, it was all she could think about as she replayed the scene on the edge of the cliff. She'd had to stand on her toes to kiss him, since he had no idea it was coming and hadn't bent down at all.
Ezra was growing up in more ways than one. And somewhere in the last few days, she'd noticed, at least subconsciously. He still cracked jokes, and couldn't seem to figure out a sense of decorum to save his life, but beneath that, he was definitely more mature in his attitude towards everything. There was a calmness to him now that reminded her more and more of how Kanan carried himself, which was not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination.
Sabine sighed as a new internal battle raged within her. What did she do about Ezra now? Because she needed to make a choice sooner than later. Mother had been hinting at finding her a husband, which had only filled Sabine with dread. But now, as she realized that perhaps Ezra might be the one for her, the thought of marrying him didn't make her want to run to the furthest possible planet away from him. That alone should have been enough of a deciding factor.
But it wasn't. Not just yet.
Sabine started pacing back and forth as her mind whirled. If she was going to choose Ezra, she needed to make sure it was one hundred percent what her heart wanted and not just a passing thing. Because once she picked a husband, there was no undoing it. Not for the rest of her life. And she couldn't play with him and then toss him away if it didn't feel right anymore. She couldn't do that to him. Sabine could never hurt him like that. Ever.
Okay, that was a good first step. She couldn't hurt Ezra emotionally. That definitely meant something. (Physically, she could still kick his ass if he deserved it or if they were sparring. That was a given.)
Could she picture herself living with Ezra for the rest of her life? She snorted to herself and smiled just a little as the quick answer of 'YES!' flew through her mind. He might be goofy, messy, and occasionally annoying, but he was also incredibly sweet, kind, determined, humble (most of the time), strong (both physically and mentally), smart (when he tried), easy to talk to, great at listening, and (this was the hardest to admit) incredibly handsome. So yes, she could picture living with him for the rest of her life.
Next, (and she blushed to think it), could she actually picture herself kissing Ezra for real? Yes. Could she picture herself touching him? Yes. Could she picture herself in a bed with him, sleeping together and... other things? Sabine bit her lip as a little thrill of desire shot through her as pictures formed in her mind.
Okay. Time for a new line of thought. This was all just too new for her to be entirely comfortable thinking of Ezra as a desirable person. Too bad her mind wasn't cooperating as a new image of Ezra and her popped into her mind. He was poised over her and lavishing attention to her breasts. Eep. And then her traitorous mind started imagining what he'd look like without any clothes on. And then she started wondering what it would feel like to actually kiss him, with tongues and everything.
"Argghh," she muttered and marched back to edge of the upper cliff. The only way to get these images to stop was to give herself something else real to think about. And thinking of her father was the biggest mood killer she could think of. So she flew back to where he was, standing with Ezra, Kanan, Chopper, and Bo-Katan and Fen Rau, who were just joining the little group.
Sabine landed in front of them and took off her helmet and addressed the man she hadn't seen for almost five years.
Ezra watched the reunion between father and daughter with a smile in his heart and gracing his lips. It was so good to see her reunited with him in a way that was almost the exact opposite of her reunion with her mother. (She really was a scary woman.) Instead of threats and disapproval, there were hugs and compliments. Sabine just felt so happy in the Force in that moment.
Ezra exchanged pleased blind glances with Kanan, communicating through their bond how nice this was to see. Ezra closed his eyes and pictured the scene the way Kanan saw it, using his Force senses only.
Sabine and her father glowed warmly in the Force, contentment and joy radiating from both of them and reaching towards each other within their Force signatures in a way that told Ezra they used to have a very close bond once upon a time. Being separated from her father must have devastated Sabine greatly. At least everything was right again now.
Ezra took off his helmet and smiled at Sabine, letting her see how happy he was for her. She flicked a glance at him, and a tiny smile quirked her mouth in return in the midst of her banter with her father about her art skills.
Ezra made some inane comment about now understanding where Sabine had gotten her artistic side from, not expecting her father to be an artist too. He definitely liked the father better than the mother. Somehow, Sabine's warrior side just excited him, whereas her mother's warrior side (which was all of her, she had no other sides as far as he could tell), just flat out intimidated him. Which was pathetic, if you thought about it, considering he was a Jedi and could theoretically take care of himself against the Countess if she ever decided to kill him. But then again, he could never hurt Sabine's mother, because, well, she was Sabine's mother. Annnnnddd that left him back where he started; petrified of Ursa Wren.
Sabine, on the other hand, had so many sides to her that he adored. Besides her warrior personality (which she depended on more often than not), there was her artistic side, her playful side, her genius side, her (very) occasional girly side, and best of all, her caring side. She cared more than she lot on. She cared what people thought. She cared about her family (both of them). She cared about people in need. She cared that the galaxy wasn't as perfect as it should be. He'd thought it a million times before, and he would continue to think it until the end of time; Sabine was perfect.
And there was nothing she could do to make him think otherwise.
Chapter 2: Thine Eyes Doth See
Thine Eyes Doth See:
D2/1 BBY, Mandalore
And then the Duchess happened, and Ezra realized that Sabine wasn't perfect.
She was human. She made mistakes. She hurt. Actually, she was damn near broken after losing more than half of her Clan. But she fought on, because that's who she was. Sabine wasn't a quitter.
It only made him love her more.
Sabine was genuinely happy as she talked with father. It had been so LONG. And after the initial awkward moment, it was like they'd never been parted; teasing about art like old times.
Ezra, of course, had to get his own word in, but she didn't mind, not with how her father responded. And he was right. Mother really did love to destroy her enemies in the most creative ways. Too bad she'd been one of them.
But they'd moved past that. After a few months of proving herself a worthy clan member again, Mother was actually starting to trust her once more. It was a good feeling, even if the Wren Stronghold didn't exactly feel as much like home as it should.
More than anything, Sabine had enjoyed spending time with her little brother again. Little. Ha. That certainly didn't apply anymore. Tristan had grown a LOT while she was gone. She didn't remember her grandfather very well, but she did remember he'd been a massive man. Tristan was definitely taking after him, and at only seventeen, Tristan was nowhere near done growing and filling out. She could tell how proud Mother was of him. He was a dutiful son. He hadn't betrayed their people. He was a strong warrior. He was pretty much perfect.
But Sabine couldn't resent him. She never would. He should have been the eldest. He would have made a much better Count than she ever would. Sabine didn't know what she was going to do when her mother was ready to step down. For the time being, she was simply pretending that her mother would remain the Countess forever and not thinking about the day when she was supposed to take over the job.
Fate, or the Force, or whatever, must have been laughing at her the last time she'd told Mother that dealing with Clan business matters was not her problem and she wasn't ready yet to learn about them.
Her mother had insisted anyway.
She ever was the pragmatic one. And efficient.
As she proved once again as Sabine listened to her voice via Fenn's comm link, after he'd told her that they'd rescued Father.
"Then we have two victories today. Saxon's forces are in retreat." Sabine couldn't help but smile slightly at the sound of her mother's Westars in full voice as she pictured her chasing stormtroopers across the desolate landscape.
Tristan's voice came over the comm next a moment later. "Hold on. They're not all running. Looks like we got an incoming Imperial transport."
"Reinforcements to cover their retreat?" Sabine asked, getting closer to Fenn so Tristan could hear her. That was highly unusual.
"They deployed a single scout walker. With no other support. It's moving into attack position," Tristan said, the confusion in his voice just as apparent as what Sabine was feeling.
Her mother scoffed. "Laughable. Destroy it."
And that was when Sabine heard it over the comm; the sound that haunted her nightmares and kept her up for hours afterwards with tears leaving frozen trails on her face.
The high pitched whine was the sound of her greatest mistake.
"That sound. It can't be," Sabine said through a suddenly constricted throat. Heart hammering in panic, Sabine called, "Tristan, get out of there NOW!"
When no one answered, she called again. "Mother? Tristan?"
As a glow filled the sky in the distance where her clan were fighting off Saxon forces, Ezra turned to look at it. "What is that?"
Sabine was literally shaking as she saw what Ezra saw. She'd seen that glow firsthand. She knew exactly what it meant. Crying, "No!" she jammed her helmet on and took off for the distant battlefield which she already knew was probably now a graveyard.
Sabine landed a couple minutes later, seeing nothing but a couple flaming transports and ashes on the ground with blackened pieces of beskar armour in heaps here and there. She tossed off her helmet and knelt by the nearest pile, her emotions in a state of devastated shock. "No, no," she cried as self loathing filled her.
Ezra landed near Sabine, looking around the battlefield as a sense of extreme sorrow filled the Force around him. He sent a little nudge towards Kanan, just wanting some reassurance that SOMETHING was still alright. Kanan sent a sad little nudge back, both of them realizing that something truly awful had happened. "What happened here?" Ezra said aloud to anyone who cared to answer. He didn't think it would be Sabine, though.
He'd never seen her like this before. Not even when they were training with the Darksabre and he'd thought that was the most depressed he'd ever see her get. The pain she'd radiated then had nothing on the pain she was broadcasting now. Nothing.
Bo-Katan stepped up beside him. She too was feeling a lot of shock and pain that he couldn't miss unless he slammed his shields closed entirely. "Where are the survivors of this battle? The wounded? The victors?"
"I see only the defeated," came the resigned sounding voice of Alrich from behind him.
Ezra stepped forward to comfort Sabine and his boot sent up a cloud of ash, drawing his eyes downward. He frowned at the crispy metal before he understood what he was looking at. "Mandalorian armour? What could do this?"
"A weapon did this," Alrich said in that same resigned and defeated tone. "A weapon created by my daughter."
Ezra's first thought was that Sabine would never. And then everything she said on Atallon a few months ago finally made sense, and he realized that she HAD. No wonder she was in such pain. It would be like him killing his own family with his lightsabre in his sleep or something.
"There were rumours the Empire was working on a weapon to neutralize Mandalorian armour. That it had even been tested on our people. I didn't believe it," Bo-Katan's voice now said that she did. And the undercurrent of anger she was starting to feel was not a good thing. Not if it was going to be directed at Sabine.
Sabine finally spoke, her voice broken and torn. "Not the empire. Me. This is all my fault."
Ezra tried to make her feel better as he moved to kneel beside her, putting his helmet on the ground and touching her trembling back tentatively . "Sabine, you can't blame yourself for this. Nothing involving the Empire could ever be your fault."
She turned to look at him with broken, tear filled eyes. "Everything my father said was true, Ezra. This is my work. I created the weapon that did this. And because of me, the Empire is going to turn my world into a graveyard. Because of me, Mandalorians are going to die. My mother and brother are dead, Ezra." She paused for a moment as she gulped in a sob and then croaked out, "Because of me."
Ezra didn't know what to do other than what Kanan had done for him when he found out for sure that his parents were gone. He opened his arms and pulled her against his chest and held her while she cried her heart out. He brushed his hand over her cream and flower coloured hair over and over and said nonsense soothing words as sobs wracked her small frame.
Ezra looked up as the others came to stand around them.
Kanan was sending as much comfort as he could to both of them through the Force, but he doubted Sabine was feeling it. Ezra was grateful for his efforts though.
Sabine's father had his own tears streaming down his face as he realized that he'd just lost his wife and son, who he hadn't seen in months as he was held captive by the Saxon traitors.
Fenn had his helmet on, so Ezra couldn't see his face, but he could feel sympathy in his emotions.
And Bo-Katan? She was building up into something that didn't bode well for Sabine. The Mandalorian woman was taking this loss personally as she realized the deadly implications for her people. Ezra was going to have to watch her. Kanan understood too, as his masked head turned towards her and a frown crossed his face.
Chopper suddenly started beeping rapidly about picking up approaching comm signals.
"Choppers' picked up something," Kanan explained for the benefit of anyone who didn't understand his unique form of binary.
"Survivors?" Bo-Katan asked hopefully, overriding her current anger for the moment.
"No. The Empire's coming back to finish the job," Fenn said as he looked to the sky.
Sabine fell into Ezra's arms gratefully, needing to be held right now more than she ever had in her entire life. The pain of her past and its consequences was almost more than she could bear. But with Ezra holding her close, and his hands rubbing her soothingly, and his voice whispering that it was going to be okay, maybe not right now, but eventually, Sabine felt like she might just have enough fight left in her to keep going.
Her tears were finally starting to dry up when Chopper started beeping. She was wiping her face on a dry spot on Ezra's shirt when Fenn said the Empire was coming back.
"Sabine," Ezra said gently. "I know this sucks but..."
She cut him off as she looked up at him and determination filled her, replacing the empty space in her chest. "I know. And they're going to pay." She touched his cheek for one brief second, suddenly so thankful that he was back in her life, and stood, drawing the Darksabre and glaring at the approaching figures flying in on Mandalorian jet packs but wearing Imperial marked armour.
Sabine growled in rage and flew up towards the nearest one, taking the man out with a body check in the sky and forcing him to the ground. She sliced the blaster he pointed at her in half and then cut off his head, all her sympathy for the life of another being completely gone at the moment.
With that one taken care of, Sabine looked for another target. Spotting one creeping up on Ezra as he protected her father, Sabine drew a blaster with her free hand and shot him in the small space between his shoulder armour and his helmet, not taking the chance that his armour would stop the shot.
And then she moved on, her sole focus the annihilation of every single traitor to her people, wishing it would also make her feel better about betraying her people herself. In a little corner of her mind that still whimpered in pain, she knew it wouldn't.
Ezra was trying to get Alrich out of the kill zone, the man having nothing in the way of armour or weapons to defend himself. He was determined that Sabine was not going to lose her last parent.
They'd almost made it to the speeder bike when three TIEs joined the fray and one of them shot the bike, exploding it right in his face. Ezra picked himself up off the ground and looked for Alrich. He was just sitting up only a meter away and looking a little dazed, but otherwise unhurt. Ezra was really really happy he'd taken the time to put his helmet back on before going on the defensive, because he'd be in bad shape right now without it. As is, he felt a few places on his body that throbbed from being struck by shrapnel. He had the passing thought that this would have been a good time to be covered in armour.
Pushing aside the pain to the back of his mind, he helped Alrich to his feet. "Are you okay?"
The older man nodded slowly. "You?"
"Better than the bike," he replied, forcing his tone into something resembling joking. With that came a little warning in the Force and Ezra stuck his lightsabre out, blocking the shot that would have taken Alrich out and deflecting it right back to the shooter, and watching the Imperial Mando fall with a burnt hole in his chest armour. "Right. We gotta get you outta here."
Alrich nodded, wide eyed. He was more impressed with Sabine's young Jedi the longer he knew him.
Ezra scanned the battlefield, searching for Kanan, relieved to see him having what looked like a blast with a couple of flyers as he jumped up on them and took out their jetpacks and then landed lightly on the ground again as they fell like rocks and didn't get up again.
Sabine was still on the warpath, the purple in her hair easy to spot. He wished she'd put her helmet on first, but there was no time now to get it for her.
Fenn and Bo-Katan were fighting on the ground in hand to hand combats with their own opponents, and Chopper had picked up a fallen blaster and was taking pot shots at anything that moved in white armour. Gotta love that droid.
They were winning the ground battle easily, but the TIEs were a concern as they passed overhead and blasted at them from above. Ezra just deflected their shots and continued to protect Alrich.
Then a Mando ship came screaming through the sky, guns blazing and took out a TIE before landing close to Bo-Katan and lowering a ramp.
"Come on!" Fenn yelled at everyone on their side.
Except Sabine. Of course.
Ezra was about to go get her, but Kanan beat him to it, Force running to her in an instant and grabbing her arm and talking some sense into her. Ezra watched in relief from the top of the ramp as Sabine gave up fighting and ran towards them instead, scooping up her helmet on the way by.
As Kanan and Sabine ran up the ramp, it closed and the ship took off again.
Alrich immediately gathered Sabine into his arms as soon as she was within the ship. Ezra's chest hurt for them as they remembered their shared grief again. "I'm so sorry, Father," he heard her say softly.
Alrich kissed the top of her head and hugged her tighter. "This wasn't your fault," he replied.
"It wasn't," Alrich insisted, and Sabine kind of sagged a little as she understood that her father didn't blame her.
Kanan stood beside Ezra, his hand on his shoulder. They didn't need words between them. They could feel the other's emotions more than well enough. Just being together was plenty.
Ezra wished that had been the end of it, but it wasn't. They were still being pursued by the last two TIEs. Everyone could feel it as shots rocked the shields.
And then shields gave up and a shot hit something important. Everyone could hear it as the sound of the engines changed to something not so healthy. Sabine ran off to fix the ship as Bo-Katan's clan mate who was flying the ship called over the comm that they were losing power and the weapons were down.
Bo-Katan hit a button and the cargo bay door opened in the floor. "Come on, kid," she said to him with a jerk of her helmeted head.
"Where are you going?" Ezra asked.
"A Mandalorian with a jet pack IS a weapon," she stated, and then dove out the opening and into the sky.
"I'm not a Mandalorian!" he called after her, even though there was no way she could hear him anymore, her figure already just a speck in the sky. "I don't want to be a Mandalorian," he said to himself. Mandos are nuts. Even his precious Sabine, but don't tell her he thought that. Good thing he liked her form of crazy. Shaking his head at his own insanity, Ezra jumped out of the ship as well.
At least he was finally getting the hang of flying in a jet pack. Sort of.
Ezra flew towards the second TIE, since Bo-Katan was in pursuit of the first. As the first TIE swept past him, the turbulence knocked him off balance and he ended up swimming through the sky.
Ezra hit his intended target right on the window, and felt rather like a bug. It brought back to mind the time he'd fallen off the top of the Ghost something like four years ago and slid down the window while waving at Sabine like an absolute idiot. Ah. Those were the days. Not.
The pilot of the TIE was certainly surprised at his unexpected passenger. Ezra had the absurd urge to wave at him as well, but he got over it and scrambled up and over the top of the TIE, intending to pull the hatch open and pull the pilot out with the Force.
Of course, that plan went out the window when the wind pulled him right off the TIE and he was left behind, once again floundering in the sky. Thank the Force Sabine wasn't watching this, because he still felt like an absolute moron in this jet pack.
Ezra got himself facing the right away again and took off after the TIE at the same time that he saw the one Bo-Katan had targeted blow up. Going for plan B, Ezra activated the rocket launcher thing built into his jet pack and sent it at his target, using the Force just a little to make sure it actually hit the target. (It would be terrible if he hit Bo-Katan's ship instead.)
Smiling inside his helmet as the TIE blew, Ezra joined Bo-Katan and they chased after her ship and flew back in. It's failing power was actually a good thing, or they'd never have been able to catch up.
Bo-Katan closed the cargo door and Ezra pulled his helmet off. "Well, that was interesting."
She took her helmet off too and kind of smiled at him. "Not bad, for a rookie."
Ezra took that as high praise and grinned.
Sabine appeared in the cargo area, smiling at Ezra, and grabbed his hand as she led him into the main part of the ship. "Look at you, taking out a TIE with a jet pack. I told you you'd get used to flying that," she teased.
Ezra felt his heart pound a little as her fingers joined with his, and covered up his joy with a casual shrug. "Well, I'm not completely hopeless."
Sabine squeezed his fingers and bumped his shoulder with hers gently. "No, Ez'ika. You're not."
Ezra's breath caught at the endearment, and he gulped. Her beautiful eyes were serious now as she looked up at him, an emotion shining through that Ezra was afraid to name. He went to raise his free hand to touch her cheek reverently but the helmet tucked under his elbow made itself known, so he settled on just smiling softly, letting his eyes say what his heart was feeling. "Thank you, cyar'ika." (He'd learned the Mando'a endearments on the holonet long ago, within a week of meeting her, and he'd never forgotten them. How could he? When Sabine was there every day, reminding him how much he wished they were more than friends?)
Somewhere in the last hour, everything had changed. Sabine had come to some sort of decision in her mind and she'd made it very clear with her actions and words that she was ready to move beyond friendship. Ezra couldn't have been much happier. (Sabine's family still being alive would have made it perfect.)
"Sooooo," Alrich drawled from his lean against a wall, arms crossed over his chest, and amber eyes twinkling at them as they turned to look at him in surprise, both forgetting in the moment that they weren't alone. "I take it the two of you are going to make this official sooner or later?"
Chapter 3: My Heart is Yours
My Heart is Yours:
D2/1 BBY, Mandalore
Sabine beamed at Ezra for knowing the proper Mando'a endearment to call her. She should have been surprised, but somehow she really wasn't. Ezra always had this habit of being more prepared than his laid back, sometimes goofy, personality let on. In his own way, he was actually VERY smart. He was so good at making friends, it couldn't really be a coincidence. When it came to dealing with people, he was certainly in a league of his own.
The sensation of having her fingers laced with his was doing funny things to her heartbeat and sending little flutters of awareness through her, and they were both wearing gloves. She couldn't imagine how much better it would be without them. And his eyes; they were melting her stuttering heart with how they looked at her. The love in them was so clear to see and it helped her forget, just for a moment, how WRONG the rest of her life was right now. Ezra, on the other hand, was RIGHT. Being with him felt right. She was actually thinking about moving closer to him and trying the whole kiss thing again when her father spoke and tore her out of her trance.
Sabine dropped Ezra's hand as she turned and faced her father with heat rapidly rising to her face. "Father!" Oh shabla, he'd seen her practically throw herself at Ezra twice now. What must he think of her?
She didn't get a chance to find out at that moment, because something else took everyone's attention.
The hairs on the back of her neck rose in warning just as she felt herself attacked from behind, her helmet flying out from under her arm. She had no time to react as Bo-Katan shoved her up against a wall face first and held the blade in her gauntlet to her throat, breaking the skin. Bo-Katan growled at her as she shoved her harder. "You're a Mandalorian! Why would you create such an abomination? That THING is the weapon of a coward."
There was a second clatter on the floor, like another helmet being dropped, followed by the sudden easing of the pressure. Sabine turned around to find Bo-Katan had been pulled back by Ezra. With the Force. His face was a study of concentration and anger as he held her in an invisible hold and she struggled in his grip. Bo-Katan stopped moving after a moment as she realized fighting was futile.
"No blades," Ezra growled. He didn't mind the girls having it out, as he sensed this was something that needed to be cleared up, but he wasn't going to watch Sabine bleed. Kanan had almost stopped him, as he sensed what Ezra was going to do, but then thought better of it, and didn't interfere. He realized Sabine was Ezra's to take care of, now more than ever.
Ezra walked around Bo-Katan, holding her still with one hand held up and came to stand beside Sabine, but keeping his eyes pined to the Mandalorian leader's. "If you promise to play nice, I'll let you go."
Bo-Katan's green eyes blazed murder, but she nodded stiffly.
Ezra let her go.
Bo-Katan took a deep breath and visibly calmed herself down. She turned her attention back to Sabine. "Why?" Just one word, but the hurt and pain in her voice was readily apparent.
Sabine sighed and slumped back against the wall, grateful for Ezra's strong presence beside her, but she was careful to keep her eyes locked with Bo-Katan's. She needed her to see her remorse. "I was young. It was a challenge. And I was arrogant. But when I realized the Empire tested it, and actually planned to use it, I sabotaged the prototype and destroyed the plans. I thought that was the end of it, I swear to you."
"Then how is it back?" Bo-Katan accused. "How come half your Clan and a few of mine are blowing in the wind? My nephew was there. Who's going to tell his wife and children that their father isn't coming home?"
Sabine went deathly pale and she shook her head. "I don't know! I don't know. I don't know," she finished in a whisper. She felt Ezra lace his fingers with hers again and Sabine found the courage to stand straighter and face her mistakes. "But I swear I won't rest until I make it right again. This is my mess and I'm going to fix it."
"Not by yourself," Ezra said. "I'm with you to the end."
Sabine looked up at him and almost got lost in the sincerity and commitment she found in the blue depths of his eyes. She squeezed his fingers appreciatively. "Thank you, Ezra."
"I'm with you too," Kanan said firmly, quickly followed by Chopper's beep of support.
"As am I," added Fenn Rau. "I promised I would follow you, back on Atallon, and I meant it."
"I will always support you, Daughter," Alrich added.
Sabine smiled a shaky smile at everyone in turn as they lent their support, and then she turned questioning eyes back to Bo-Katan, seeing the conflicted look on her face.
Bo-Katan sighed. "I suppose I am as well. You do deserve the right to make things as right as you can, but this doesn't mean I won't forget what you've done." She turned and swiftly stalked off to the door that led to the cockpit, shoulders stiff.
The room as a whole kind of exhaled in relief that things were settled for the moment.
Ezra focused his gaze on the still bleeding cut on Sabine's neck just above the collar of her bodysuit. "She hurt you," he said softly, regretting that he hadn't acted sooner and stopped Bo-Katan before she'd even touched Sabine. But he'd been so lost in the feelings swirling through him as Sabine finally acknowledged his devotion. And then they'd been caught making googoo eyes at each other by her father and Ezra's embarrassment had soared through the roof, and Kanan was laughing at him through their bond. Distraction wasn't a great excuse, but it was all he had.
Sabine reached up with her free hand reflexively, gloved fingers coming away red. She'd actually forgotten about the cut already, it not registering amongst all the emotional pain that kept her focus right now. "It's nothing, Ezra. I'll slap some bacta and a bandaid on it later."
Ezra touched her neck gently. "I wish I could fix it for you now, but Force Healing isn't in my bag of tricks."
Sabine laughed sadly at his equally sad attempt at lightening the mood. "It's okay, Ezra. We have much bigger things to worry about than a tiny cut."
"Like not getting fried to a crisp in our armour," Fenn said, only half joking.
Ezra raised a brow at that. "Okay, so this weapon only targets Mandalorian armour, right? So why not make your armour out of something different?"
Sabine snorted and dropped his hand, smacking his arm for saying something so stupid. "Ezra, the armour I wear is five hundred years old. I reforged it to my liking, but, the battles, the history, the blood, all lives within it. And the same goes for every Mandalorian."
"This armour is part of our identity," Alrich added, even though he rarely wore it, he did have his own set. "It makes us Mandalorians who we are."
"And now it's going to make us dead," Fenn scoffed.
"Not if I have anything to say about it," Sabine said determinedly. "I AM going to fix this."
"I'm holding you to that," Bo-Katan said as she re-emerged from the cockpit and everyone felt the ship come in for a landing. She stopped in front of Ezra and Sabine. "We're landing at my camp, and they've been informed of what has transpired. There are several clans here, since we were actually planning an attack on the Imperial Saxons before I was informed by the late Countess Wren of your plan to free your father. This is your chance to prove yourself, Sabine Wren. DON'T disappointment me."
Sabine nodded, her eyes not leaving Bo-Katan's until the older female nodded towards the cargo bay, indicating Sabine should go first.
Sabine squared her shoulders, picked up her helmet, which she'd dropped when Bo-Katan body slammed her, and walked proudly to the cargo bay.
As the ramp lowered, she found herself flanked by Ezra, Kanan, Fenn, and Chopper. Ezra and Kanan both touched an arm on either side of her at the same time in the same show of support, and Sabine couldn't help but smile slightly at how alike they were now. She doubted they even realized it.
Taking a deep breath, she walked down the ramp with her heart family at her side, Bo-Katan and her father following behind.
As she was spotted by the crowd of about thirty that had come to greet the ship, blasters were drawn and immediately pointed at her.
"I know you built that weapon."
"You betrayed us all."
"You're a traitor to Mandalore."
She didn't know any of these people but their accusations cut her to the core. Ezra and Kanan drawing their lightsabres on either side of her and getting into a protective stance made the hurt just a little less. She glanced over and saw Fenn had his blasters drawn as well, ready to fight for her.
And then her father's voice came from above them from his position halfway up the ramp, and her breath caught on the rush of love she felt for him.
"Lower your weapons," Alrich called firmly. "Sabine did everything she could to stop this from happening. You must believe us. Any attack on my daughter is an attack on Clan Wren and an attack on the new Countess."
That seemed to shock the crowd slightly as their blasters lowered ever so slightly and they looked at each other in confusion. Attacking a Countess was NOT a good idea. And this one was protected by two Jedi. Which made it even more confusing, since Jedi were supposed to be the enemy.
The opposing sides stared at each other for a whole minute, no one making a move to DO anything, but no one actually backing down either.
Sabine couldn't take the tension anymore. She threw her helmet on the ground and almost screamed, "No!"
Ezra looked at her in shock, his fingers tightening restlessly on the hilt of his lightsabre. "Sabine! What are you doing?"
"I'm prepared to take responsibility for my actions." Ezra blinked and then nodded slightly in acceptance, but he didn't turn off his lightsabre. She didn't blame him.
She addressed the crowd, raising her voice so all could hear her, especially as it seemed that even more had joined the back of the gathering. (Hard to tell for sure, though, since she was so short.) "It's true. I designed the weapon as a loyal student at the Imperial Academy. The Empire is using my prototype. But, it's only functioning at a fraction of its capacity. At full power, it will destroy armies. So, you've got a choice to make. We can fight each other, or we can destroy this weapon once and for all!"
Bo-Katan had been watching the whole thing, not taking sides. She came to a decision as she'd seen what she'd needed to from the girl. She stepped forward and addressed the crowd as well, after exchanging a quick glance with Sabine. "I understand your anger. In many ways, I feel the same. But Sabine is right. Now is not the time for us to be divisive. She knows the most about this weapon and how to destroy it. We need her."
Bo-Katan stared down her own clan members, telling them silently to put their blasters away. As they did so, the members from the other clans followed their lead, the Jedi put their weapons away, and the tension left the air. With a murmur as people talked amongst themselves, the crowd dispersed, going back to their tasks for the evening or to their tents. She turned to Sabine and gave her a look that said everything was up to her now. "It's time for you to prove your loyalty. Not just to your family, but to all of Mandalore. Come with me and we will make plans." Her eyes swept over Sabine's little family and she raised an imperious brow until they all nodded meekly.
Bo-Katan turned on her heel and stalked to the large command tent in the center of the camp, followed by Fenn, who thought she just might be the fiercest, hottest female he'd ever encountered. Fenn was thinking he might be in love and how come it had taken so long for him to meet her?
Ezra and Sabine looked at each other and he shrugged with a bashful look as she raised a brow at him for questioning her in front of so many. He bent down and picked Sabine's helmet up for her. She shook her head at him as she accepted the offering of her own helmet and smiled at the blush that had taken over his entire face at the quick kiss she'd pressed to his cheek for being so dorkily sweet.
Ezra was left behind, staring at her confidently striding figure with his heart in his eyes as he held his hand to his cheek in awe. He startled when Kanan clapped him on the back. "I think It's safe to say that you two are dating now," he said, laughter in his voice.
Ezra gaped at Kanan and then was clapped on the back again by Alrich. "Congratulations, son. Don't make me wait too long for grandkids."
Ezra's jaw practically dropped to the ground as he stared after the two men who were laughing like lothloons as they followed in Sabine's footsteps.
Chopper bumped into the back of his legs, beeped something like, "Get a move on, meatbag," and rolled after the others.
Ezra startled out of his frozen position and ran after the older men. He caught up to Alrich. "You're kidding, right? Please tell me you're kidding?"
Alrich just grinned and swept into the guarded tent like he belonged there.
Ezra turned to Kanan. "He was kidding, right?"
Kanan shrugged, a smile playing on the corners of his mouth. "Probably not. Their clan is a little depleted right now. They have to grow their numbers somehow. And I believe it is quite common for their people to marry young and produce children early."
"Kanan!" Ezra said in shock that his Master was playing along as well.
Kanan just squeezed his shoulder, laughter practically taking over the entire bond, and ducked into the tent.
Ezra looked from one guard to the other, armoured in Bo-Katan's clan colours. "Was he kidding?"
They shrugged in tandem and one held the door open for him. Ezra shook his head at himself, eyes wide, and entered the massive tent. He walked over to where everyone else was gathered around Chopper, who was projecting the schematics of a Star Destroyer. He was basically in a daze over the concept of having kids sooner than later, so he didn't contribute to the conversations, but he did manage to more or less listen.
Alrich was speaking as he stopped beside Kanan. "Saxon has worked hard to keep the weapon secret, so he likely has it aboard his Imperial Star Destroyer outside of Sundari. Needless to say, it will be very well guarded."
Sabine was next. "Once we get inside that ship, we'll need two teams. One to find the weapon and one to wipe out every shred of data on the Imperial computer systems." Ezra suppressed the urge to smile like a dork from listening to her voice. It was sweet and commanding at the same time. How she did that, he didn't know, but he sure was a sucker for it.
"This weapon. Is there any way it could be turned against the Empire?" Fenn asked Sabine.
"I've studied stormtrooper armour, and, while the thought has crossed my mind, that isn't our mission," she replied. "No. No, we have to destroy it."
Ezra and Kanan caught the hint of something in her voice that said a new idea was brewing at the back of her mind. Ezra wouldn't be surprised if Sabine did something completely unexpected during the mission. She was good at that; coming up with new ways to destroy things on the fly.
"If I can get to the weapon, I can make sure it's destroyed," Sabine finished with, radiating determination into the Force.
"I'll get you there," Bo-Katan said, just as determinedly.
"Ezra and I will take Chopper to the data core," Kanan volunteered for them. Ezra would rather be with Sabine's team, but he didn't oppose his Master.
"All right. Let's go over our infiltration plan." Sabine became more animated and hopeful as she talked about her plan and the schematics of the Star Destroyer and the most likely place the weapon would be located.
Ezra's attention divided as Fenn and Bo-Katan stepped away from the group and started talking quietly to each other. Ezra found it quite amusing that Fenn seemed to have fallen so hard for the woman. He'd caught him looking at Bo-Katan the same way Ezra looked at Sabine and Kanan looked at Hera. They were all just a bunch of lovesick fools, weren't they?
Ezra's attention returned wholly to Sabine and he couldn't help the small smile as he watched her animated face as she talked about attacking the enemy. She was so good at this, and really was a born leader. Ezra was more than happy to stand at her side and let her make the big decisions, protecting her back as necessary. He could lead when he had to, but he enjoyed watching Sabine take control of things more. When it came to her, Ezra was just happy to spend whatever time he could with her.
The meeting came to an end some fifteen minutes later and Bo-Katan invited them to dine with her clan for the evening meal. The attack on Saxon's Star Destroyer was scheduled to take place a few hours before dawn, so more forces could arrive, giving them about six hours to eat and rest.
Since the Wren camp and their ships were about an hour away, Sabine and company were invited to stay with Bo-Katan's camp. A spare tent was erected in minutes for them and five cots placed around the edges.
Sabine stripped off her armour plates, gloves, and boots, but left everything else on, and fell into the cot, exhausted from the long day, but too agitated to sleep. She stared up at the ceiling of the tent while she listened to the breathing of the men turn regular and deep. The lump in the darkness that was Fenn was the first to start snoring softly. Within minutes, her father joined in and they were snoring in harmony. Normally, it would have been either comical or annoying, depending on her mood, but tonight, Sabine was just numb.
She knew she was grateful to have her father back, but at the cost of losing her mother and brother just made it agonizingly bittersweet. If she had known this was how it was going to play out, would she have done it again? How do you choose between the father that you adore and the mother you respect but can't ever love again because of what she did to you? Not to mention her beloved baby brother. Tristan didn't deserve this. None of her clan did.
Her eyes started leaking tears, the tracks running down into her ears uncomfortably.
Hating herself right now, Sabine rose silently from her cot, grabbed her boots and ducked out of the tent. She shoved her feet into her boots and walked with crossed arms holding her together through the nearly silent camp. The guard at the perimeter wall peered at her but didn't say anything as she walked past him out into the desert and just kept walking. When the camp was just a speck in the distance, she sank to her knees in the sand and let the sorrow take over but held back the screams, not wanting to wake the camp that would hear her, even as far out as she was.
With her head bowed and her shoulders shaking with the force of her grief, her eyes closed and the sound and sight of the Duchess doing its evil work assaulted her mind, memories taking over from today and years ago.
Ezra had been asleep for maybe half an hour when jolts of pain and sorrow woke him up, feeling like they came from within him, furrowing his brows in surprise. He glanced over at Kanan and saw that his Master was sleeping soundly and quietly, the bond between them quiet. Kanan had had his share of bad nights, but this wasn't his grief. So who...? What?
Ezra looked to Sabine's cot next and found it empty. Understanding dawned as he realized he was feeling Sabine. Jolting off his cot, he stuffed his feet into his boots and pulled on his shirt, having gone to bed in just his undershirt and trousers. He hurried through the camp, sensing that Sabine needed him. NOW.
Ezra went to pass the guard but paused when he called out, "She went that way."
The guard wasn't surprised by Ezra appearing shortly after the new Countess had left. He'd seen how protective the Jedi was of her and had observed them together during the evening meal. The two were clearly close and rumours had been flying around the camp that the new Countess had picked a Jedi as her consort. No one knew quite what to make of that, but no one dared insult her choice now. Fenn Rau had told the tale of how she had defeated Gar Saxon with the Darksabre, which made her one of the most powerful people on Mandalore right now. If she chose to be the next Mand'alor, some would oppose her, but not many.
Ezra gave a quick nod of acknowledgement, not actually needing the help, but was glad the warrior was being friendly. He took off at a run, beelining for where he felt Sabine's presence off in the distance, his path lit by faint moonlight. As her sorrow built and built to something he wasn't sure even she, with all her innate strength, could survive, Ezra pushed his feet into moving faster, calling on the Force to lend him the speed of the wind.
Within moments, he was sinking down to the sand beside her and drawing her into his lap, hugging his arms around her shaking body. He knew she hadn't had enough time to grieve properly earlier, and so wasn't too surprised by this, but his heart near broke for her anyway.
Sabine buried her face in Ezra's shoulder. "Ezra," she managed to sob out. "It hurts."
He kissed the top of her head and rocked her gently. "I know, Sabine. I know. Just let it out. It helps. I promise," he whispered in a voice almost as haggard as hers. "Kanan would tell you to give the pain to the Force, if he was here."
Sabine clenched her hands on Ezra's shirt and tried to give the pain away, but she didn't know how. It was all just so built up in her. Years and years of holding it all in, culminating with the loss of her family was just too much. All she could do was cry harder, which didn't seem possible, but she did.
Ezra wished he could help her desperately, more than just being there to hold her. He wanted to take her pain away. Make her feel better. Make everything right for her again. Turn back time even. "I'm sorry, cyar'ika. So very very sorry," he whispered into her hair.
He didn't know how it happened but he was pretty sure he now had a mental bond with Sabine much like his with Kanan. He was feeling her much too clearly for it to be anything else. He was practically drowning in her grief. Maybe because she'd decided to open her emotions to him earlier today?
Deciding to try something that he and Kanan did when the situation was dire enough, Ezra closed his eyes and pushed his thoughts into Sabine's mind, her despair leaving her naturally shielded mind more open than usual. "Give me your pain," he thought clearly. "I can take care of it for you. Let me do this for you."
Sabine nodded slightly against his chest and opened her mind wider, sending her pain to Ezra instinctively, because she trusted him to take care of it.
Ezra almost gasped as she opened the floodgates, but he breathed through it and started siphoning it out into the Force like Kanan had taught him so many years ago, basically going into a meditative state to do it. He didn't know how long it took for Sabine's grief to slow down, but he dealt with it. When the last trickles of sorrow had been given to a better place, Ezra squeezed her a little tighter to his chest and kissed the top of head again. "Are you feeling better now?" he asked in her mind, not wanting to give up the deep connection that they'd established.
Sabine nodded again, scrubbing her face against his soft shirt, and suddenly noticing how hard his body was underneath of it. "Ummm hmmmm, thank you, Ez'ika."
Ezra smiled gently into her hair, not wanting to lose the feel of it against his cheek. It was so silky and smelled like the sweetest of flowers. "You're welcome."
Sabine's eyes opened wide and she reared back in his arms. "Ezra Bridger, are you talking in my mind?!"
Ezra shrugged and one side of his mouth quirked up and he returned to talking out loud. "If I say yes, will you be mad?"
Sabine narrowed her eyes at him and thought about it. It WAS an invasion of privacy, but on the other hand, he did help her feel better. "I'll let you get away with it this time, Bridger. But you better not make a habit of that. My mind is my own."
Ezra smiled and pulled her closer again. "I know, Sabine. I would never dare to intrude unless it was important. This felt important."
Sabine relaxed against his chest again, finger tracing the line on his shirt where two different colours met across his collarbone and up his shoulder. "You're right. It was justified." She looked up at him, eyes taking in the line of his jaw from that angle. It looked very kissable all of a sudden. "I didn't know you could mind talk to other people."
Ezra looked uncomfortable all of a sudden and his eyes no longer met hers. "I can't, not usually. Only to people I have a Force bond with, like Kanan."
Sabine's eyes widened as she realized what he was saying. "And me?" she asked very softly.
Ezra looked back at her, his blue eyes looking almost black in the dark. He nodded ever so slightly. "And you."
Sabine breathed in as she understood the implications of that. They were BOUND. It was incredible. And thrilling. Ezra really was hers now.
Her arms crept up around his neck and her fingers rubbed against the short hairs at the back of his neck. She suddenly wished he'd grow his hair out again so she could play with it. "Ezra," she said softly, invitingly, raising her mouth towards his.
Ezra's breath caught in his throat at how beautiful her pale face looked in the moonlight. "Sabine." He cupped one side of her face with his hand lovingly and bent down to press his mouth to hers in a soft, experimental kiss. The electricity that shot through him at the contact was amazing and he wanted it again.
Their eyes met for a moment and then closed as their mouths pressed together again, fitting just right and whispering soft caresses. Sabine opened her mouth a little with a gasp at how amazing this felt and found herself the recipient of Ezra's tentative tongue. She sucked on the tip, which made him groan and soon they were duelling in the most passionate way that made her shake with need and move around on his lap so she was straddling him, wanting to get even closer and feel even more of her body pressed to his hard one. She found herself grinding against the hard length that was in just the right place now to stimulate her senses even more. Jolts of electricity shot through her with every slight movement of her hips.
When she felt like she was going to combust from the fire trying to take over her insides, Sabine pulled her mouth away from his and stared at him in shock, breathing heavily. "I had no idea it could be like that."
Ezra gasped in air, the bare fingers of one hand buried in her silky hair and his other hand curled around her hip and basically holding her against his hardness. He THROBBED against her and he could swear he could feel her heat through their layers of clothes. It felt like he was about two seconds away from exploding then and there. He gulped as he realized he was holding her butt and practically forcing her to rub against him. Ezra reluctantly forced his hand to move up a little higher to the curve of her waist. "I didn't either. I think I lost all control."
Sabine smirked and wiggled just a little, teasing him. "You're not the only one, babe." She rubbed her chest against his, happy she wasn't wearing her armour plating. "I think we need more practice. You wanna do it again?"
Ezra's eyes went wide before a predatory smile settled on his face. "Force, yes."
Sabine hummed a little in contentment as his mouth crashed down onto hers again.
Choosing Ezra as her future husband had definitely not been a mistake.
Chapter 4: You're My Everything
You're My Everything:
D3/1 BBY, Mandalore
Ezra was drowning in Sabine.
He was overwhelmed by her sweet taste. Her scent of flowers and paint. The feel of her weight on him. The feel of her slender curves under his hands that had lost the ability to stay still. The way she moaned and hummed her pleasure in tiny sounds in her throat as he worshipped her cute little ears and neck with his lips and teeth and tongue, careful of the small bandage on one side.
When he did manage to open his eyes, he drowned in the sight of her passion filled features, so exotically beautiful. The skin of her face was exquisitely soft, making a mockery of his own stubble and scar covered one. Her eyebrows arched just so over the amber eyes he'd never get tired of looking into. Her cheekbones were high and well defined in her delicate face, a flush of pleasure colouring them, even in the dark. Her nose was adorable. Her chin and jaw line, proud and pointed. Her lips were the perfect pillows for his own, parted right now as she gasped in air.
Somehow, he was managing to maintain enough control over his flaming body to keep from shooting off in his underwear, but he wasn't sure how.
Sabine could barely think, Ezra was doing such a good job turning her brain to mush. Who knew her neck was so sensitive? Or her ears? And her clit was practically singing from all the grinding she'd been doing against the large bulge in his pants. She loved the fire he brought to life in her and wanted more, so much more.
Deciding that he needed to feel this too, Sabine grabbed the sides of his face, since he didn't have enough hair to hang on to, and pulled his mouth away from her neck and plastered her lips to his in another mind blowing kiss. She had the passing thought that they'd wasted a lot of kissing time over the last four years, but it quickly flittered away.
Putting her hands on his shoulders, she pushed his back down to the ground so she was completely perched over him and in control. "You're mine, Ez'ika," she said teasingly.
Ezra didn't mind. She looked like a goddess with the moonlight outlining her face and figure. "I always have been." One hand reached up and pushed a lock of her hair behind her ear and she smiled at him before she swooped down and pressed her mouth to his neck just like he'd been doing to her a couple minutes before. Ezra's eyes near rolled into the back of his head. No wonder she'd been making little pleasure noises. This was GOOD. "Sabiiiinnnneee," he moaned.
In response, one of her hands snaked down his chest and then back up again, but this time under his shirt. Ezra sucked in his breath at the feel of her little hand on his bare skin and almost forgot to let it out again.
Sabine couldn't help but be impressed by the toned muscles she was feeling. There wasn't an ounce of fat on him. His skin was smooth and hard all at the same time in a complete contradiction of terms. Her hand came to rest over his heart, feeling it pound under her palm. This was so incredibly intimate and thrilling. She nipped his ear and then kissed a path down his rough jaw line and returned to kissing, delving her tongue in his mouth once again, yet another little moan escaping her throat at the raw pleasure of the carnal act.
Kanan woke up with a raging hardon and a pounding heart as the last of his dream of Hera and him doing very un Jedi like things faded from the forefront of his mind. After breathing through it for a minute or two, not able to give in to temptation to take care of the problem with others in the tent, Kanan realized he was feeling more than his own passion.
He also realized that two people were missing from the tent. Thunking his head against the pillow, he suppressed the urge to groan in embarrassed horror, realizing that a great deal of the current problem in his pants didn't actually stem from his own emotions. Although, in all fairness, this was exactly how he and Ezra had discovered they had a bond in the first place. Years ago, Ezra had come knocking on Hera's door while they were getting frisky, and asked if it was normal that he could basically feel everything Kanan was. Needless to say, there was no more frisky moments between him and Hera until he and Ezra learned how to shield.
Right now, Ezra had completely forgotten his shields and Kanan wasn't impressed. He didn't begrudge the kids their fun, since that would make him the galaxy's biggest hypocrite, but kriff, this wasn't how he wanted to find out they had moved past the friendship stage.
Throwing politeness to the wind, Kanan thought very loudly and very clearly, "EZRA! Put up your kriffing shields!"
Ezra pushed Sabine back as his eyes popped open and he gulped in horror. "I'm so sorry, Kanan," he thought back, then slammed his shields closed between him and Kanan, but that also closed him off from Sabine. This was going to take some figuring out. How did Kanan do it? He knew Kanan had a bond with Hera too. It was somewhat one sided when only one person had control of the Force, but it was there, just like Ezra's new one with Sabine.
Sabine stared down at Ezra in befuddled hurt. Had she done something offensive? "What's wrong? What did I do?"
Seeing the hurt on her expressive face, Ezra sat up quickly, pushing her back so she sat on his thighs and away from his quickly deflating erection. He hugged her and kissed her forehead in apology, his passionate mood lost to the flaming embarrassment. "It's not you, I swear. You were perfect. It's me. I forgot to keep my shields up between me and Kanan and he knows what we were doing."
Sabine blinked a couple times and then her own cheeks burst with heat as well and own frisky mood shrank down like someone had just thrown a bucket of ice on her. Too bad she still had the damp underwear to remind her of how close she'd been to climaxing. "Oh, kriff, that's embarrassing."
Ezra buried his face in her shoulder. "I know, right?" he mumbled into her bodysuit.
Sabine sighed and wrapped her arms around his back, putting her cheek on his shoulder in return. "Oh well. Just imagine it as repayment for all the times we've stumbled upon Kanan and Hera making out."
Ezra chuckled and kissed her cheek before mirroring her position. "You mean like the time Zeb and I practically fell on them in the cargo hold when we were chasing Chopper?"
Sabine laughed. "I remember that day. You still have the painting I made in your room."
Ezra grinned at her. "And I always will. I don't care how stupid it makes me look. You painted it, so it's staying. I had a lot of battles with Zeb over it."
Sabine beamed at him and kissed his cheek in return, letting her lips linger, whispering against it, "You keep saying things like that, Bridger, and I might just have to fall in love with you." Her tone was light and teasing, but Sabine could feel the truth of her own words in her heart. She really was falling in love with him. Maybe she was already there. Maybe she'd been there for years and just refused to see it.
Ezra lost his breath once again. He pulled back a little so he could see her face. "Do you really mean that?"
Sabine stared into his eyes that looked so incredibly vulnerable right now and knew she could never break his heart. She cupped his face in her hands, fingers resting on the sexy dual scars on his cheek, and met his eyes, willing him to feel her sincerity. "Yes, Ez'ika. I do mean it. You're my everything."
Ezra gulped and worked up the courage to say what had wanted to tumble off his tongue for years. "I love you, Sabine. I have since the first day I met you. I saw you blow up a bike right under the noses of the Imps. You jumped off a roof onto a moving bike like it was nothing. You didn't shoot me when you could have. You literally picked me up and tossed me out of your chair. You blew up some TIEs like it was fun. You were relatively nice to me compared to most people who encounter a streetrat. And of course, there was how beautiful you are. I love your colourful hair. I love your big eyes. I love you."
Sabine gaped and blinked at Ezra for a couple of seconds. That was an incredible speech, and she'd never felt more like she was actually worth something in her life. She felt special because she understood now that Ezra thought she was. And looking at herself through his eyes helped heal a broken piece inside of her that her mother had caused when she was banished from the clan all those years ago.
"Ezra." She didn't know what to say, so she pressed her mouth to his in a very gentle kiss that expressed everything she was feeling. Gratitude. Love. Acceptance. Need. Want. Home.
After, she pressed her forehead to his and they just breathed together, no more words needed between them. Ezra didn't need his new bond with her to know she loved him too. He was content to wait for her to be ready to say it for real. She'd already showed him that she did and it was enough.
They sat like that for awhile, wrapped around each other, their heads eventually finding a comfy place on the other's shoulder again. Soon enough, Sabine's breathing settled into a deep and slow pattern that indicated she'd fallen asleep.
Knowing that she needed her rest, Ezra didn't move for a long time. Not even when a cold breeze picked up. He just ignored it, pulling a little Force to him to warm them up as needed. He basked in her presence in his arms, having thought for years that this moment would never happen. At some point, his legs fell asleep, but he didn't care about that either. Sabine was all that mattered.
Ezra eventually fell into something that resembled a meditative trance, the Force swirling happily around and through him. He used the time to figure out how to separate his shields so he could feel Sabine and not Kanan, or vice versa, or both, in varying degrees.
As the moon was near setting at the horizon, Ezra felt Kanan approaching, but he still didn't move. A minute later, Kanan stopped and looked down at them with a raised brow, amusement and something that felt a lot like pride and approval in their bond for him to feel. He didn't say anything, understanding Ezra's reluctance to wake up Sabine, but he knelt down beside them and very gently extracted her from Ezra's arms, standing and holding her small form in his arms while Ezra very carefully worked some circulation back into his legs and got to his feet. The tingling was awful, but Ezra breathed through it while Kanan's mouth quirked up and he did a valiant job at not laughing out loud.
Ezra took Sabine back, cuddling her against his chest. She hummed happily in her sleep, wrapping her arms around his neck and snuggling back into his shoulder. Ezra kissed the top of her head and carried her back towards the camp, Kanan walking at his side.
Ezra was incredibly content in that moment, and he would file it away as one to treasure forever.
A/N: Sorry this one is short, but what happens next doesn't really belong in the same chapter.
Chapter 5: I Pledge My Loyalty
I Pledge My Loyalty:
D3/1 BBY, Mandalore
Sabine woke up gradually to the sensation of smooth movement, feeling incredibly safe and loved. It was a feeling she had rarely ever felt, bringing back vague memories from her early childhood and being carried to bed by her father after he had let her stay up way too late painting with him.
Her eyes fluttered open as her arms tightened reflexively around Ezra's neck and she realized she actually was being carried. She had to admit it felt incredibly nice, but it wasn't in her nature to be carried anywhere. "Ezra," she murmured.
He glanced down at her and his teeth flashed in the dark as he smiled at her. "Down?"
Sabine nodded slightly, rubbing her cheek against his shirt just because. "This is nice and all, but I have legs and they work just fine."
Ezra chuckled lightly and so did Kanan, which made Sabine tense, because she hadn't realized they weren't alone. She craned her neck around, seeing Kanan walking beside Ezra on her blind side, and her cheeks flushed slightly with embarrassment. Curse him and his silent Jedi feet. Now she really wanted down. "Ezra," she said warningly as she wiggled and his arms held her tighter teasingly.
Ezra's eyes shone with mirth as he came to a stop, swooped down and kissed her warm cheek and then let her down.
Sabine gave him her best glare, which just made him smile wider.
Ezra looked at Kanan. "You let a girl sit on you for hours till your legs go to sleep and then you carry her for a kilometre or two and this is the thanks you get?"
Kanan shrugged, the corner of his mouth twitching. "Women. There's just no pleasing them sometimes. Get used to it."
Sabine huffed at the two males who where blatantly making fun of her while she stood right there. "Di'kuts," she muttered and started marching in the direction of the camp that was much closer than before. Actually, any closer and the guard would have seen her being carried like a child. That just wouldn't have been acceptable at all. Thank the Force she'd woken up. She was going to have to talk to Ezra about making sure her status as a badass was never questioned. A warrior Countess does NOT get carried unless they were unconscious and had two broken legs.
She called back over her shoulder at the men who were chuckling over her stomping figure. "Don't think I won't tell Hera what you just said, Kanan Jarrus. I'm sure she won't appreciate it. And Ezra, if you think there's going to be any more cuddling in the near future, you might want to hold your breath waiting for it." The chuckling came to an immediate end, making Sabine smirk to herself.
Ezra jogged up beside her to catch up, then matched his strides to hers. His eyes were wide in fear and remorse as he gazed at her. "Please don't say that. I was just teasing. I've waited forever for cuddling privileges; you wouldn't take them away already, would you?"
Sabine glanced at him and her lips twitched before she snorted with suppressed laughter. He'd actually believed her. He was already better trained than she thought. Taking pity on him, she laced her fingers with his and squeezed lightly. "Ezra, you're not the only one who can tease, you know."
He blinked a couple times and then he looked vastly relieved, shaking his head at himself. "I can't believe I fell for that."
Sabine grinned. "I can."
Kanan grinned at Sabine as he appeared on Ezra's other side. "So can I."
Sabine smiled at her second father conspiratorially. "He is incredibly gullible, isn't he?" She ignored Ezra's, 'Hey!' and continued talking to Kanan. "But I wasn't kidding about telling Hera. Us girls have to stick together when it comes to keeping the menfolk in line."
Now Ezra and Kanan both said, "Hey!"
Sabine grinned at them, let go of Ezra's hand, and marched up to and past the guard like she owned the world. After a quick stop at the refresher tent, she walked briskly to their borrowed tent, attached her armour and strapped on her weapons, then headed for the command tent with her helmet tucked under her arm.
Bo-Katan, Fenn, and her father were already there, along with the leaders of the various other clans that had come to help with the mission.
Bo-Katan glanced at her and Ezra, Kanan, and Chopper, who entered just behind her. "So glad you decided to join us. We were starting to wonder."
Sabine shrugged slightly, playing it cool. "I couldn't sleep, so Ezra and I took a walk. We went further than planned. I apologize if we kept you waiting."
Bo-Katan raised a red eyebrow, glancing from her to Ezra, who was, for once, doing a good job of keeping his mouth shut and not fidgeting, but his face was certainly turning red. "I see," Bo-Katan said, her tone clearly stating that she did, indeed, see.
Sabine sighed internally. If it hadn't been obvious already, she'd basically just declared her intention to take Ezra as her husband. One does not simply just go for a 'walk' with a boy in the dark for hours on a desert and then let it be known to everyone unless you intended to follow through with the implications. If she'd wanted to keep her relationship with Ezra a secret (which was probably impossible already since the guard had seen them) she could have come up with a hundred other excuses that didn't involve her and Ezra being alone.
Sabine glanced at the expressions of everyone in the tent at the implied declaration. Only her father, Fenn, and Bo-Katan portrayed actual acceptance. The others all looked either sceptical, were withholding judgement for the time being, or outright displeased. But no one made any moves to draw a blaster, so Sabine considered that a win. She focused on Bo-Kanan again. "I'm glad you do. Now. On to the small matter of getting rid of the Duchess once and for all..."
Bo-Katan's eyes widened and she stared at Sabine in shock. "Wait. Did you name your weapon after my sister?!"
Sabine winced. "It was a series of bad decisions that I'm not proud of. We can call it something else if you want?"
Bo-Katan was speechless for at least ten seconds as she glared at Sabine. A touch from Fenn on her arm brought her out of her mental snit. She sucked in a breath and forcibly calmed herself. "There's no point. We're getting rid of that thing and that will be the end of it. I just have to say that Satine was a pacifist until the very end and she would be appalled to find out that a weapon of mass destruction was named after her. I don't know what you were thinking."
Sabine glanced down at her helmet for a moment, deciding. Feeling Ezra step a fraction closer to her gave her the courage to say her piece. She looked back at the red haired woman, meeting the piercing green eyes steadily. "I was thinking that your sister's pacifist ways led to the fall of Mandalore. It was your sister's views on politics that eventually allowed the Imperials to take hold of our planet. She destroyed our people's spirit just as much as any weapon ever has. If she hadn't been a pacifist, there would never have been a need for the Republic to help our people. Maul and Death Watch should never have had the opportunity to take control. Clan Saxon should never have felt the need to ally with the Imperials just so what's left of our people aren't completely subjugated. It was your sister that was the catalyst for everything that is happening now. I don't claim to think that I could ever lead Mandalore better than anyone else, but Mandalore should never have been in the hands of a pacifist. And I know you know it. I know you were part of Death Watch because my mother was as well. I know you didn't believe in your sister's ideals, so you'd be a hypocrite if you said otherwise now."
Everyone in the tent was basically holding their breath as they looked from Sabine to Bo-Katan, waiting for her response. This could go one of two ways. Bo-Katan could be seriously offended and challenge Sabine to a duel to the death or she would agree with Sabine and let her words against her sister slide.
Bo-Katan's fists were clenched and she was barely breathing while proverbial steam rose from her. But as she stared into Sabine's eyes, her shoulders dropped ever so slightly and her fists unclenched. Everyone in the room breathed again. "You're right," Bo-Katan admitted quietly. "I didn't agree with my sister. It's the reason we hardly ever spoke to each other. We were on two different sides and in the end, we both lost and the Empire won. It's time to fix that. It's time to return Mandalore to being the home of people who are proud to call themselves Mandalorians. Proud of our warrior heritage. Proud to fight for what we believe in." Her voice rang with power and authority at the end and the tent erupted in cheers from the leaders of the other clans.
Sabine sighed in relief that that had turned out the way she'd hoped. Ezra nudged her with his foot and she glanced at him. He winked at her and smiled slightly as she fingered the Darksabre hanging off the side of her belt. She'd found the leader she sought. Sabine had always known it wasn't herself. Bo-Katan was the rightful leader of Mandalore based on heritage. It was gratifying to know the woman lived up to Sabine's expectations.
Sabine stepped forward, holding the Darksabre out to Bo-Katan and the room instantly went silent. "This belongs to you, My Lady. You are the true Mand'alor. The Mand'alor our people should have had leading us all along. I can't rightfully keep this anymore when I know I don't deserve to wield it. I now know that I found it so that I could pass it on to you."
Bo-Katan glanced from the sword hilt to Sabine's eyes and back again, indecision clear upon her face.
"Take it," Fenn said from beside her. "Sabine is right. You are a true leader of people and you uphold the original Mandalorian beliefs. I can think of no one better to be Mand'alor aside from Sabine, herself."
Bo-Katan glanced at him, and, seeing the sincerity and belief in his eyes, she reached forward and grasped the Darksabre. It instantly felt right in her hand, like a missing piece of her soul had been returned. Bo-Katan ignited the dark blade and held it above her head triumphantly, staring at her people. "I accept this sword as vengeance for my sister. For my clan. And for all of Mandalore."
Sabine went down to one knee in front of her, head bowed. "Clan Wren vows loyalty to Bo-Katan Kryze, the new Mand'alor."
Fenn Rau sank to a knee as well. "As the sole remaining Protector, I pledge my loyalty to you and vow to remain in your service for as long as I am of able body and mind."
One by one, the leaders of every clan knelt.
"Clan Awuad also vows loyalty."
"Clan Onyo vows loyalty."
"Clan Elder vows loyalty."
"Clan Rook vows loyalty."
"Clan Vizla vows loyalty."
And so it continued until every clan leader in the tent had their say.
Bo-Katan looked down at all the bowed heads and felt slightly overwhelmed. The only two people left in the tent not kneeling were the Jedi, but as she glanced at them, they both nodded at her respectfully, even the blind one. (How did he do that?) That was good enough, she supposed. Her sister's Jedi, Kenobi, had been a reasonable sort as well. Perhaps it was time to consider weaning people away from their hatred of the Jedi. Supporting Sabine's choice to marry one would be a good first step.
"I accept your loyalty," Bo-Katan's voice rang through the tent and everyone stood as one and cheered again. She slashed the Darksabre through the air, getting their attention before turning it off and hooking it to her belt. "Now is not the time for celebrating. We have a battle to win first and no more time to waste standing here. To your ships!"
There was a mass exodus out of the tent in a vaguely orderly fashion with a feeling of excitement in the air. Sabine, Ezra and Kanan waited patiently for the majority to exit. Bo-Katan swept past them with Fenn Rau at her side. "You three are with me," she said as she passed.
They dutifully followed. Sort of.
Sabine glanced back at her father, who was staying behind, his eyes worried. "I will come back, Father. Please believe that."
He smiled wanly. "I believe you will always try your hardest."
Sabine gave him an equally sad smile. "That has ever been the truth." Their identical eyes met for one more heartfelt second before Sabine turned and left the tent.
Ezra was waiting for her just outside. They walked together as they followed in the wake of the others. "I can tell you feel better now, now that you don't have the Darksabre anymore," he said quietly.
Sabine glanced at him and nodded slightly. "I was never comfortable with the thought of ruling the entirety of the Mandalorian people. It's going to be hard enough for me to adjust to the idea that I'm now the ruler of my clan. I know Father will help where he can, but he's not from the Wren line, so, no matter how wise he is, our clan won't follow him. Not openly. They'll listen to him, but they could disobey a direct order from him if they wished. From me? Not a chance. Unless someone from my family line challenges me to take the position. It would be a fight to the death of course."
Ezra gasped. "Please tell me you're kidding this time too."
She shook her head once. "No. I'm afraid not. But I wouldn't worry about it too much. I have no intention of being taken down in a duel."
As they walked up the ramp of Bo-Katan's Kom'rk fighter, Ezra gave her disbelieving eyes. "Not worry? Of course I'm going to worry. I always worry about you when you're doing something dangerous."
Sabine laughed softly and patted his cheek as they stopped in front of the door to the common area of the ship. "You're so cute." Since they were the only ones in the cargo hold, she grabbed his shirt with her free hand in a repeat of yesterday's move and pulled him down to her, kissing him quickly but thoroughly. Letting him go, she smirked at his wide eyed look. "Don't get yourself killed either, Bridger. It would make me very unhappy."
Ezra nodded dumbly as Sabine hit the button to close the ramp and another button to upon the door and walked through, leaving Ezra floundering on his feet as he tried to follow her. Did she even know how much she rocked his world when she kissed him? And not just a peck either. Her tongue had definitely been in his mouth. And to more or less declare that she worried about him too, but in her own badass way, was just the icing on the puffcake.
Finally getting his brain to more or less communicate with his lower limbs, Ezra stumbled into the common area, giving Kanan a grateful look as his Master covered his decidedly ungraceful entrance by turning to him and holding out his jetpack from yesterday, holding a second one in his other hand. Ezra grabbed the jetpack and Kanan held him up with it as he regained his balance. "You have any tips for me?" he asked glibly. "It looks like I get to wear one now too."
Ezra lowered his jetpack over his head as he felt the ship take off, engines still sounding not quite right, but someone obviously thought they would do for now. (Hera would be appalled.) He grinned at Kanan. "My only advice is to use the Force to steer. I don't know how they do it without. These things should be classified as suicide attempts."
Kanan snorted and put on his own as well. "I'll keep that in mind."
Of course, ten minutes later, when everyone but the pilot on Bo-Katan's ship jumped out of the cargo hold, Kanan flew straight and true in his jetpack. Ezra growled in disgust. "Why do I always look like a clutz compared to everyone else?" he muttered under his breath. Sabine and Chopper heard him of course, since she'd linked them via the comms in their helmets.
Chopper said something along the lines of, "Because you're a bumbling meatbag too pathetic to figure anything out." Ezra tried not to take that one too much to heart since Chopper had been insulting him for years but it still hurt.
Sabine giggled. (Giggled!) "I think that's cute too. Don't stress over it, Ez'ika. You're graceful when you really need to be. Have you seen yourself with a lightsabre lately? It's kriffin' hot."
Ezra flushed with pleasure while Chopper made the equivalent of gagging noises. Ezra turned off the link to the droid menace and just basked in the pleasure of Sabine's words. "Thank you, Sabine. If you were trying to make me love you more, you just succeeded."
Now Sabine was feeling all warm and glowy inside. "You keep talking like that, Ezra, and you're going to find yourself a very happy boy next time we get some alone time."
Ezra gulped, about a hundred different fantasies of him and Sabine doing naughty things all trying to take precedence at once and his pants getting rather tight all of sudden. At least this time, he'd remembered to keep his shields up between him and Kanan. With a little effort, he consciously lowered his voice to something he hoped sounded sexy. "Everyone knows a true gentleman takes care of the lady first. It would be my greatest pleasure to do so."
Sabine blinked as his rumbled words went straight to her core and she practically trembled with want. Holy nerfherders, who would have thought Ezra could do that to her? She cleared her throat. "Maybe we should shelve this conversation for later. We're almost at Saxon's Star Destroyer anyway."
Ezra glanced at the ISD that was dwarfed by the massive dome surrounding the city of Sundari, before looking back at Sabine, who flew just ahead of him. Her slender figure was much more pleasant to look at, hands down. He could stare at her for hours and be perfectly content. (He'd actually done so while she was painting or sketching and not paying attention to him, so he knew this for a fact.) "Sure, cyar'ika. But there's no way I'm forgetting to take this up where we left off when I get the chance."
Sabine smiled like a happy tooka inside her helmet. "I'm holding you to that, Bridger." Now that she'd decided she wanted Ezra, Sabine didn't see any reason to take it slow. If the last four years hadn't been enough of a test of the strength of their friendship, then nothing was.
A/N: If you last read this story before I moved it to the M section, I've since added some extra steam to Sabine and Ezra's make out session at the end of c3 and throughout c4.
Chapter 6: I Am Not Dar'manda!
I Am Not Dar'manda!:
D3/1 BBY, Mandalore
Still feeling flushed and tingly from her rather naughty banter with Ezra, Sabine poked her head above the decking of Saxon's Star Destroyer, looking into the hangar. The area wasn't as busy as it could be, since it was about two hours before dawn and the ship was following Sundari's time schedule, but there were still a few troopers wandering around on patrol.
Waiting for a moment when their backs were turned the other way, Sabine then signalled to her small group that the coast was clear. Ezra, Kanan, Chopper, and Bo-Katan all flew up onto the decking beside her and they dashed into a secluded hiding spot behind some handy crates.
Bo-Katan touched her wrist comm, signalling to Fenn Rau that they were in position and to start the diversion in the main hangar on the other side of the ship. Fenn's group would then engage whatever troopers and officers appeared to investigate.
The signal also went out to two other group leaders who were going to simultaneously attack the Imperial Headquarters inside the city. This was the biggest group, by far, consisting of hundreds of warriors, since they wanted to eradicate the building and all who worked within it.
Everyone counted to five and then there was a joint grin inside helmets as the ISD rocked with an explosion from the other side of the ship. Kanan, only wearing his mask, could also be seen smiling slightly, being a bit more restrained in his enjoyment of the moment. What few troopers were in this hangar immediately ran out.
Ezra, Kanan, and Chopper dashed off towards the inner part of the ship, hopefully stealthily, but willing to do whatever was necessary to get to the main computer that linked the ship to the Imperial database so that Chopper could delete everything pertaining to the Duchess weapon.
"Good luck," Sabine called over her private comm to Ezra as he hurried away.
"Thanks, gorgeous," he replied. "You too."
Sabine felt herself blushing yet again and was grateful for her helmet. If only she'd known that Ezra was capable of making her feel so special, she was pretty sure she would have pursued him years sooner; dorky teenage stage, stupid flirting, and all. At least he had hair back then.
She really needed to convince him to let it grow back.
She and Bo-Katan ran past the red painted AT-DP Walker that had been modified to carry the Duchess and boarded the lift to an upper level beside the hangar, assuming that the weapon was being worked on nearby.
She was right. The familiar circular power generator was sitting out in the open, not far from the lift. Sabine cringed to see it whole again and the ghosts of remembered screams whispered through her mind.
Holstering her blasters upon seeing that the area was clear, Sabine gestured at her greatest regret. "There it is," she said quietly to Bo-Katan.
Bo-Katan also holstered her blasters and they walked towards the weapon. "It doesn't seem so dangerous like this," she said, eyeballing the object that had somehow turned warriors into ashes. "So how do you plan to destroy it?"
Sabine glared at the machine, reluctant to get closer to it. "I was thinking about blowing it up, but I tried that last time, and they somehow managed to rebuild it. I need to come up with something a little more permanent, apparently."
Bo-Katan unhooked the Darksabre from her belt and looked at it. "What about this?"
Sabine raised a brow under her helmet. "That... just might work. It'll be dangerous though. We won't have a lot of time to run for it."
Bo-Katan's voice was amused as she said, "If danger isn't your middle name, your not a Mandalorian."
"I guess I qualify then," Sabine laughed. "Ezra is always whining about how I'm always running towards the danger."
"About him," Bo-Katan said hesitantly. "Are you prepared to deal with the fallout of marrying a Jedi? There's going to be more than a few unhappy people who won't be willing to excuse his heritage, no matter how much he's helped us."
Sabine sighed. "I know. I was almost one of them, once, when I first found out that Kanan and Ezra were Jedi. Don't even ask me how Ezra won me over, because I have no idea."
Bo-Katan chuckled. "My sister said the exact same thing about her Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi."
Sabine's helmet whipped around and she stared at the older woman in shock. "What? Your sister and Kenobi were a thing?"
"Without question. Aside from bickering like an old married couple whenever they were together, I caught them making out once, when we were all soo much younger. That was after Kenobi and his Master had been her protectors for almost an entire year and they were being reassigned to a new mission. I can tell you, they most definitely didn't like the idea of being parted."
"I can't imagine why," Sabine said dryly, thinking of how she'd feel if Ezra were to leave her for long periods of time.
Suddenly, a low buzzing sound filled the area and swiftly got louder. "What's that sound?" Bo-Katan asked, hooking the lightsabre to her belt as she moved forward cautiously.
Sabine almost froze in fear and then moved to rush the last metre to the Duchess and try and turn it off. "Oh no. It's been activated."
She didn't make it.
An electrical charge burst from the weapon and struck her and Bo-Katan.
It felt like her bones were being fried and her skin was on fire. It was agony. The worst pain she'd ever felt. And that was saying something, since she'd been shot more than once and broken a bone or two over the years.
It was all she could do not to scream.
Ezra and Kanan made quick work of the trip to the computer room. They'd only been spotted by one squad of troopers and they'd taken care of them as swiftly as possible. Ezra had pulled all of their blasters too him and neatly sliced and diced them as they flew towards him, while Kanan had grabbed the lot with the Force and tossed them against the nearest wall, knocking them all out.
It was a move they'd perfected over the years of raiding and escaping from Imperial facilities, and they were quite proud of it.
The computer room had a couple of techs working in it and only one guard on the door. Ezra took care of the guard. After relieving him of his blaster rifle, he threw him down the hallway with a big Force push, until he hit a wall with a thump. At the same time, Kanan opened the door with the Force, not bothering to wait for Chopper to do it.
"What are you...?!" came from inside the room before the male voice was quickly silenced by Kanan.
As Ezra walked into the room, carrying his new prize, he saw Kanan stunning the second officer and the man slumping over his console. Kanan twirled his blaster around his finger and holstered it with a grin in Ezra's direction.
Ezra chuckled. "That never gets old."
Kanan grinned wider and shrugged. "Once a gunslinger, always a gunslinger." He glanced at Chopper, who'd followed Ezra in. "Okay, Chop, do your thing. Find anything pertaining to the 'Duchess' or 'Arc Pulse Generator' and make it disappear forever."
"Yes, boss," Chopper beeped sarcastically, disgusted at being told his mission yet again.
Ezra suddenly gasped and almost collapsed as searing pain shot through his entire body and Kanan wavered as the pain kicked back through their bond until Ezra almost completely blocked his bond to Sabine.
"What is it, Ezra?" Kanan said softly, hurrying over and putting a hand on Ezra's shoulder, pouring strength into him through their bond.
Breathing heavily, Ezra straightened up. "Sabine. It's Sabine," he gasped.
Kanan squeezed his shoulder. "Go. Help her. I can hold the room."
Ezra nodded once and then took off, back the way he'd come, running as fast as the Force could lend wings to his feet. He kept his bond with her almost completely closed so that he could focus, but it was killing him that she was in pain and he wasn't there to save her. He wished he could take her pain and syphon it into the Force, but he couldn't do it and move at the same time. At the moment, he figured it was more important that he save her from whatever was hurting her.
He tried comming her on their private channel, but he got no response and had to assume that she either wasn't wearing her helmet or whatever was hurting her had shorted out the comm systems. Not good.
Not even a minute after Ezra left, a squad of troopers arrived at the computer room. They spotted Kanan and the leader barked out, "Don't move," while aiming his blaster at Kanan.
Kanan wasn't feeling quite as lenient as he had been now that he knew that Sabine was being tortured or something. He smiled coldly and ignited his lightsabre, sensing the troopers' surprise. "Oh, I'm moving," Kanan said mockingly.
They shot at him, blasters barking in staccato waves.
Kanan deflected their shots right back at them.
Thirty seconds later, it was over, and there was a pile of white armour clad bodies in the doorway.
"Well done, meathead," Chopper beeped. "Now we can't get out."
Kanan shot the droid what would have been a dirty glare if he wasn't wearing a mask. "You should know better than that by now, C1-10P," calling the droid by his designation number, knowing Chopper hated that just as much he hated being called meathead or meatbag or any of the other insults Chopper liked to throw at him.
Chopper raised a manipulator at him.
Kanan shook his head in defeat. Because he was Hera's droid, Kanan never could toss him out an airlock like he'd always wanted to, and dismantling him or crushing him with the Force was definitely off the table, so Kanan, as usual, ended up letting the droid get the last word. After all these years together, they were still frenemies at best. (And that was on a good day.)
Kanan turned his attention to the pile of bodies and started lifting them into the room and off to the side with the Force. While doing the grunt work, he wondered what was happening with Sabine and Ezra. All he could feel from Ezra at the moment was determination and worry, which wasn't very helpful.
Above the sound of her own brain cells frying, Sabine vaguely heard the sound of a door opening and a voice saying, "Stay back, Captain."
White boots came into her line of vision from her prone position on the floor and the excruciating agony finally eased off as the whine of the Duchess faded away.
"Sabine Wren," the voice belonging to the boots said condescendingly. "You truly are brilliant. Except for thinking you could infiltrate my ship unnoticed. Sadly, as much as I would like to end your life, I need you alive. You are going to upgrade your little experiment and deliver a weapon that operates at its full potential."
Rage inspired her abused body to move and she shoved her helmet off her head and stared up at the light haired man she assumed was the next Saxon bastard trying his best to murder her. "Never!" she spat, raising herself up onto one hand and feeling her muscles tremble in protest. "I'd rather die than help you, mir'osik!"
"Oh, I'm sure that will happen sooner or later, dar'manda bitch. But for now, let's see if I could persuade you," Saxon's ice blue eyes promised more pain and death.
Sabine glared back at the traitorous shabuir wearing Imperial armour and forced herself to her feet. She refused to lie on the ground in front of him any longer. "I am not dar'manda!" she spat in his face. "My clan formally accepted me back months ago. And since you killed my mother with this weapon that I never should have made, I am now the Countess of Clan Wren! I will have vengeance on the Saxon clan for everything they have taken from my clan."
Saxon seemed only slightly taken aback by her words, before a light of glee lit his eyes. "Sooo, my little trap caught the Countess, did it? That turned out even better than I hoped."
Sabine snarled at him and was just about to leap on him and pummel him to death when the Super Commando Captain stepped up. She wondered what clan he was from. It couldn't be the Saxon clan, or he wouldn't dare to question the head of the clan. "Governor, stop. This is too much. I understand using the weapon against rebels, but if she makes it more powerful, how will we prevent the Empire from using it against ALL Mandalorians?"
Saxon was incensed, his face turning red with rage. "I am the Empire! Palpatine has shown me the way to true power." The mental image that brought made Sabine shudder at the squidgy thought. Before she could stop him, he pushed a button on his vambrace and the Duchess powered back up, electricity targeting the beskar armour on those in the room once again.
Sabine cried out and fell to the floor again, unable to stand through the pain. The Captain also fell, his cries anguished, and Bo-Katan whimpered on the floor beside her.
Saxon laughed evilly, his voice ringing in mocking echoes through her head. "This is not enough power to kill you; just enough to teach you a lesson. But in the end, all of Mandalore will bow to me."
"Not while I'm alive," Sabine said through clenched teeth under her breath.
She thought she heard Bo-Katan say, "Nor I," but the agony was building again and her ears were ringing, so she couldn't be sure.
Ezra's journey to Sabine was delayed when he came to an intersection and was suddenly caught between two large squads of troopers. He ducked back around the corner and then, peeking around the edge, emptied the rifle he'd just acquired into one of the squads, laying them flat with ruthless head shots.
Tossing that to the side, he pulled his blaster and lit his lightsabre at the same time and charged around the corner, running right at the second squad. His blaster sang and his green lightsabre was a blur as he returned shots from where they came.
Two minutes after the battle started, it was over and Ezra was once again sprinting towards his love, leaving about forty bodies in his wake.
He'd deal with the regret later.
Kanan had taught him that a Jedi always did their best to leave their opponents alive whenever possible. In most cases, Ezra was all for that philosophy. Today was no longer one of those cases.
Ezra finally reached the hangar after what felt like an eternity.
What Ezra wanted to do was charge up to the next level where he felt Sabine was with guns blazing, since he knew she was once again in extreme pain, but a sense of caution from Kanan reminded him to stop and think so he didn't accidently make the situation worse.
Forcing himself to take in a big breath to help calm his mind and heart, Ezra then looked up at the bottom of the lift that appeared to be the only way into the workshop area on the second level. He concentrated on the lift and made it lower a couple metres and then he jumped up onto the platform.
And then he listened, since Sabine's pain seemed to have stopped again and something in the Force was telling him to wait. Perhaps this was something that Sabine needed to do on her own. He didn't like it, but Ezra heeded his instincts.
Sabine was once again gasping for air and praying for strength as the Duchess came to a stop.
"Are you impressed by how well your weapon works?" Saxon taunted. He pressed another button on his gauntlet and two regular stormtroopers ran into the room. All three of them pointed their blasters at Bo-Katan, who was in worse shape than Sabine, since she had a lot more beskar on her than Sabine did. "I believe you can do better. Help me to increase the range of the weapon, or she will die."
Sabine struggled to her feet again, resolve growing in her. A half baked idea that had occurred to her hours ago was finalizing itself in her mind. "Stop! I'll do what you want."
"Sabine, don't," Bo-Katan said weakly as she struggled up onto her feet as well. At least she'd managed to get her helmet off too, before the latest onslaught from the Duchess.
Sabine ignored her and went to the weapon, accessing the computer system. She frowned in concentration as she swiftly familiarized herself with the new computer they'd given it, and then she changed the command codes and linked the computer to her wrist computer, downloading the new specifications in just moments that she'd written hours ago on a whim while eating dinner. She also left Saxon his link to the computer, because if this was going to happen, she wanted him to do it to himself.
"You're doing the right think, Sabine," Saxon said as she was working. "This weapon of yours... It can unite the Houses. It can bring peace."
Sabine shot him a look of disgust. "As long as our people are on their knees before you and your Emperor."
"Mandalore must adapt to survive. Would you rather we destroy ourselves in a fight that CANNOT be won?"
Yes, she would. But she didn't believe they couldn't win. As a united force, Mandalorians far outclassed whatever the Empire could throw at them. Their problem in the past had been that they weren't working together. Now, under a proper Mand'alor, they were. She doubted Saxon was aware of just how many clans were currently attacking Imperial Headquarters right now. Bo-Katan had already brought more Mandalorians together to fight for their freedom then any leader had managed in the last hundred years. Bo-Katan was the only weapon Mandalore needed to make everything right again. She longed to tell him this and gloat childishly, but for now, she had to keep Saxon relatively happy and that meant more or less playing along with his little power trip. "At least we'd die free, as TRUE Mandalorians." She stepped back from the Duchess, raising her hands in supplication. "It's done. The weapon is at full power now, but I'm begging you... DON'T use it."
"I'll take that into consideration." His tone clearly said otherwise. He smirked in perverse glee and then hit the button on his vambrace. Sabine suddenly remembered that Ezra was wearing an Imperial helmet, painted by hers truly, and she winced, hoping he managed to get it off before it hurt him.
The Duchess activated again, its whining filling the room, and its rays of energy seeking targets. It found them in the plastoid alloy of Saxon's and the troopers' armour and then continued out of the room. It was now set to seek out targets as far as a kilometre away in all directions, meaning it would take out every trooper in the entire Star Destroyer.
She looked down at the man now writhing on the floor at her feet. "This isn't enough power to kill you! Just to make you suffer! How does it feel?!" Her voice dripped with scorn and hatred and her eyes were hard.
"Sabine, stop!" rang out two voices at once.
Ezra listened and waited.
Kanan sent a mental question mark, and Ezra sent back a mental shrug, implying he wasn't sure what was going on at the moment, but no one was screaming in pain right now, so that was a start.
It sounded like Sabine was doing what the speaker (whom he assumed was Tiber Saxon) wanted. But he knew his Sabine, and he trusted her not to do what it sounded like she was. Which meant she was probably doing the opposite and changing the Duchess to take out Imperial armour instead, like had been suggested in the meeting last night.
Through his bond with her, he suddenly felt Sabine's concern for him. It took him a moment to figure out why, but then he quickly took off his helmet and placed it quietly at his feet beside him.
It wasn't a moment too soon, for the Duchess activated again, throwing a blue glue above his head and electrical streaks flew through the air. One hit the helmet and it actually jumped and smoked. Ezra stared at it wide eyed for a moment and then leapt up into the room.
"Sabine, stop!" he called. He couldn't let her torture the thousands of troopers that lived on the ISD. It just wasn't right. A quick death was one thing, but this... This was just cruel.
He glanced at Bo-Katan, who'd called out the same thing at the same time, before focusing on Sabine. All that torture must have unhinged her a little, because her eyes were filled with maniacal righteousness.
"Mandalore must be free!" she said fiercely.
Ezra ran over to her through the blue lightning streaks of energy that went past him harmlessly and put his hands on her shoulders, staring into her eyes. "It will be, I promise. But this isn't the way to do it, and you know it."
Sabine blinked, sanity returning to her eyes. She glanced down at the three men contorted on the decking and then looked shocked at what she had done. "Kriff," she whispered. "You're right, Ezra. I'm sorry."
He brushed her cheek tenderly. "It's okay, Sabine." He held out his lightsabre for her. "It's time to finally put this behind you."
Sabine stared at the lightsabre for a moment before she grabbed it, ignited it, and then slashed through the spinning weapon. Then, just to make sure it stayed dead this time, she pushed the lightsabre into the side for half a minute, superheating the power core. "This is for my mother and brother," she said softly. And then, glancing at Bo-Katan, she slashed it one more time. "For Mandalore," she cried.
"For Mandalore," Bo-Katan and Ezra repeated.
The machine still tried to function, but the energy shooting out now was targeting electrical systems and running through the walls. A computer consol blew up, startling them, and then a bright orange fluid started leaking out of the screaming weapon.
"That can't be good," Ezra said as Sabine gave him back his lightsabre.
Sabine bent down and grabbed her helmet off the floor and plunked it on her head. "It's not. Time to go everybody." She nudged Saxon with a toe. "Except you, you Saxon sleemo." She whipped off a pair of binders from the back of his belt that he probably meant to use on her and snapped them around a wrist, dragged him bodily along the floor, put the empty binder around a support column on the Duchess, and then closed it around his other wrist. "You can die with the weapon that you never should have used on my clan," she said coldly.
Ezra thought about stopping her for only half a second and then decided it wasn't worth it. The moron was fated to die anyway after everything he'd done to Sabine. She needed this closure and Ezra was willing to let her have it, brutal death or not.
Bo-Katan turned to the Commando Captain that was staring at Sabine with what she assumed was either horror or admiration under his helmet. "If you value your men at all, you might want to evacuate the ship. This thing is going to blow. Oh, and you might want to consider changing your alliance back to the people you belong to. It's not going to be very healthy for the Imps around here anymore. And that's your Mand'alor speaking."
He sucked in a noticeable breath and then nodded once, then took off out the door he'd come through, followed by the troopers who'd just dragged themselves off the floor. Sabine, Ezra, and Bo-Katan ran to the lift and took it back down to the hangar, all of them ignoring the swearing and shouting coming from the left behind Tiber Saxon.
Ezra scooped up his helmet from the lift floor and called Kanan. Beside him, Bo-Katan was calling Fenn Rau. "Kanan. The weapon's power core's been breached. This whole place is going up. Get out of there."
"The data's wiped and Chopper and I are all ready on the way to the hangar. I have a whole herd of shaky troopers on my tail." Kanan didn't sound worried.
Ezra smirked as he waited at the hole in the floor for Kanan; he wasn't leaving without him. "You might want to run a little faster. Things are going up as we speak. Sabine's enjoying it though," Ezra said in amusement as he watched her watch things go boom all around them; Walkers, TIEs, the consuls in the walls, you name it, it was exploding.
"I'm glad someone's getting a kick out of this," Kanan said as he ran up with Chopper right on his heels. "I can feel the energy crackling around me, and it's not a good feeling."
"We should probably go then," Ezra said dryly before they jumped out of the hangar as a group and flew down the underside of the Star Destroyer. They met up with Fenn's group, who looked like they were only one or two members short of what they'd started with, and they all flew off into the early morning darkness. "How was your mission?" Ezra asked Fenn.
Fenn sounded quite satisfied as he said, "Successful. Most of the troopers on board must have shown up to try and take us out. We must have been outnumbered ten to one at one point, but as you can see, we won."
Ezra and Sabine chuckled at his smug tone.
Behind them, the Star Destroyer rumbled and shook with increasingly louder explosions as more and more systems were attacked by what was left of the Duchess.
"There's two more ISD's incoming," Chopper beeped.
"Saxon or someone must have called for reinforcements," Bo-Katan said grimly as they all paused in mid air and looked back towards Sundari and saw the Star Destroyers flying around and over the city's protective dome.
Everyone watched in silence as Saxon's ISD exploded spectacularly, sending shrapnel in every direction, including at the two new threats, but bouncing off the shields harmlessly.
Bo-Katan glanced around at the warriors surrounding her. "Who's up for round two?"
Cyar'ika – beloved, sweetheart, soulmate.
Dar'manda – outcast, no longer recognized as an honourable Mandalorian.
Di'kut – idiot.
Mir'osik – dung for brains.
Shabla – screwed up, f**ked up, f**king. (depends on context)
Shabiir - screw up, person who has severely blown it.
Shabuir – worse than a jerk, f**ker.
Shebs – ass, rear end, butt, etc.