“Wait. Where’s Ezra?” Kanan asked. The whole crew—minus Ezra—was sitting in the galley for breakfast. They all had a few days off from their duties, so Kanan decided to celebrate the occasion by making breakfast for everyone.
“He was still asleep when I woke up.” Zeb said.
“And he didn’t wake up when you started getting ready?” Hera asked, raising an eyebrow. “That’s unlike him.”
“I’ll go check on him.” Kanan said as he stood from the table and began to walk towards the door.
When Kanan reached Ezra’s room and opened the door, the smell of sickly sweat assaulted his senses. As he got closer to the bunk, Kanan noticed how Ezra’s shaggy hair was sticking to his forehead, drenched in sweat. While he was clearly asleep, that sleep seemed to be fitful at best. His face was scrunched in pain, and as Kanan took a step closer he could see many tiny red dots marking his face, neck and arms.
Kanan gulped. That wasn’t good. That wasn’t good at all. Realizing that he had no idea how to deal with all of this, he ran back to the galley to get Hera.
“Hera!” Kanan said breathlessly, bolting into the galley.
“What?” Hera said, standing from her seat.
“It’s Ezra. He has a fever and all these red dots all over.”
“Zeb!” Hera said, turning on her heel to face him. “You didn’t think to tell us about this?”
Putting his arms in the air as if to gesture innocence, Zeb said, “I didn’t know! The kid was curled into a tiny ball with a blanket and his back to me when I woke up. I thought he was just tired!”
“It’s alright, Zeb.” Kanan said, moving to put an arm on the Lasat. “Ezra likes to hide it when he’s sick or injured anyway.”
Hera nodded in agreement. “He probably hasn’t been feeling well the past couple days. An illness like this doesn’t just appear overnight, after all.” Moving toward the galley door, Hera said, “I’ll go get the medkit. Kanan, go wake Ezra up. We need to figure out what’s wrong with him.”
Back in Ezra’s room, Kanan was reluctant to wake Ezra up. Contrary to earlier when his face was twisted in pain, Ezra looked so peaceful now. But Hera would be back with the medkit soon, and if he didn’t wake Ezra up, Hera would. After all, besides a general body scan, they couldn’t conduct the proper tests if Ezra wasn’t awake and telling them what was hurting.
Biting his bottom lip and taking a breath, Kanan gently shook Ezra’s shoulder. “Ezra.” He said gently. “I need you to wake up.”
Without a sound, Ezra blearily opened his large blue eyes. Kanan noticed how they were hooded with exhaustion and glassy with fever.
“Kanan?” Ezra asked, his voice weak and cracking.
“How are you feeling, kid?” Kanan asked. “And don’t lie, I can see those red bumps all over you.”
Ezra looked into Kanan’s eyes, confused. He then proceeded to hold out one of his arms to examine it. “Those weren’t there yesterday.” Ezra said, coughing.
“Yeah? Well, they’re there now, and you have a fever.”
Ezra opened his mouth as if to give a retort, but at that moment Hera walked in.
“How are you feeling Ezra?” Hera asked, concerned.
Realizing Ezra was about to say he was fine, Kanan gave him a pointed look.
“Lousy.” Ezra said. “My throat hurts and I’m itchy all over.”
Kanan gave a small chuckle. “With how many angry little red dots you’ve got all over you, it would be strange if you weren’t. They look pretty itchy after all.”
“Stop calling them little red dots, Kanan.” Hera said. “Those are Bantha Pox. Have you really never seen them before?”
“I grew up in the inner rim, Hera. Diseases like this have been eradicated there.” Kanan said. “Besides, how can you tell what they are just by looking at them?”
“But you’ve spent the majority of your life outside the inner rim.” Hera huffed, seemingly annoyed. “This is a common illness on Ryloth, especially since the Empire banned vaccinations for non-human sentients.”
Hera went quiet for a moment after that. Then, seeming to realize something, she turned to Ezra. Looking him straight in the eyes, she said, “You haven’t had your vaccinations.” It wasn’t a question.
Ezra, who had been quietly watching the exchange between Hera and Kanan diverted his gaze. “I had some… when I was little. I mean, before my parents were taken. I know you’re supposed to get more when you are like ten or something, but… I couldn’t—I mean—food, um eating was more… it was more important.”
Kanan gave Hera a quick look when Ezra was done talking. Clearly that was difficult for him get out. Besides the fiasco on Empire Day, Ezra had stayed away from discussing what his life was like in the time when he was alone. Kanan didn’t want to push him. He understood what it was like not wanting to talk about your past, but things like not getting your vaccinations was important to know.
“It’s okay, Ezra.” He said, putting a hand on Ezra’s knee. “We probably need to get you to a medcenter to get your vaccinations though. Better late than never.”
“Well, how are we going to do that?” Ezra said glumly and slightly annoyed. “It’s not like the Empire’s looking for us or anyth—” His sentence was abruptly cut off by a fit of coughing.
“We can worry about vaccinations later.” Hera said once Ezra’s coughing had subsided. “First, lets do what we can to help you feel better.”
Getting out the body scanner from the medkit, Hera began to reach up to wave it over Ezra but changed her mind and put it back down. “Can you come sit on the bottom bunk, Ezra? It will be easier to get an accurate reading if I hold this level.”
“Kay.” Ezra said, shivering and bringing the blanket he had tucked around his shoulders with him.
“Hummm.” Hera said after scanning him and looking in his throat. “Your temperature is a few degrees above the average for a human. And with the cough and sore throat… definitely Bantha Pox. Let me just run a swab on your throat to rule out any secondary infection.”
After prepping the swab Hera paused adding, “your throat looked really red and swollen, so I just want to warn you, this might hurt.”
Gulping and itching his arm vigorously, Ezra nodded.
Kanan noticed that Ezra seemed nervous, but he wasn’t sure if he should ask the kid if he wanted him to hold his hand or not. One of the first things Kanan noticed about Ezra since he came on board was his fierce independence. He always wanted to do things on his own accord, even after he had begun to realize he could always ask the crew for help.
“Ready?” Hera asked.
Ezra just nodded and opened his mouth.
At the last second, Kanan grabbed Ezra’s hand.
Ezra seemed a little surprised at that, glancing over at Kanan without moving his head since Hera had already begun to put the swab down Ezra’s throat.
Ezra winced and gagged as Hera activated the swab and then retracted it, putting it in the scanning machine to be tested. Unfortunately, Ezra’s gagging seemed to cause a coughing fit. Ezra doubled over taking short, harsh breaths and coughing mucus onto the floor.
Kanan rubbed Ezra’s back with his free hand, mumbling soothing words until Ezra’s fit was finished. “Shhhh. It’s okay.” Kanan said as he gently guided Ezra back upright. The kid was trembling badly. Hera handed him a cloth and he began to wipe the excess mucus from Ezra’s face.
“I can do it myself.” Ezra said, grabbing the cloth weakly.
Deciding that Ezra probably felt his pride was injured enough, Kanan consented.
After Ezra finished wiping his face off, he laid down on Zeb’s bunk and closed his eyes. It was a testament to how exhausted all that coughing made him that he didn’t even complain about the Lasat’s lingering smell.
“Well,” Hera said after a moment, “you don’t have a secondary infection, but we don’t have the proper medicines to treat Bantha Pox on the Ghost.”
“Are you saying I have to go to a medcenter?” Ezra asked, opening his eyes.
“No,” Hera said. “Usually when one of us comes down with something we just buy the medicines on the black market.”
Ezra looked up at Hera in surprise at that statement. “But… medicines sold there are really expensive.”
Kanan and Hera looked at each other at that statement. Kanan wasn’t exactly sure how Ezra knew that, but he had a pretty good guess.
“Don’t worry.” Kanan said, softly running a hand through Ezra’s hair. “We’ll manage. We always do.”
Standing up and gathering the med supplies in hand, Hera addressed Kanan saying, “I’ll get Zeb, Sabine and Chopper to come with me to get the medicine. You stay here and keep an eye on him.”
“Of course, Hera.” Kanan acknowledged.
“We’ll get you feeling better in no time.” Hera whispered to Ezra as she placed a motherly kiss on his forehead.
“Uh huh.” Was Ezra’s only response. He was quickly falling back asleep.
“See you soon, Love.” Hera told Kanan as she exited the room.
That afternoon Ezra found himself curled up in three blankets on the sofa in the common area. Despite his ability to sleep easily earlier, he had no such luck now. His body couldn’t seem to decide if it wanted to be burning hot or freezing cold. His throat felt like an open wound and his skin was on fire. Despite Kanan telling him to stop itching numerous times, he just couldn’t. It gave him a little relief from the constant tingling.
Apparently, the whole crew minus him and Kanan had gone out to get Ezra some medicines. Kanan told him Hera had told him earlier, but Ezra didn’t remember it. All he remembered was getting that awful swab test done and coughing violently.
“I made you some tea.” Kanan announced, drawing him from his thoughts. “It was my master’s favorite. It’ll help your throat hurt less.”
“Thanks.” Ezra said, pulling the steaming cup of liquid into his freezing hands.
“Hera commed me. She said they would be back soon.”
“That’s good.” Ezra said. “I don’t feel good.”
Kanan laughed at that. “I didn’t notice, Kid.”
Taking a tentative sip of the tea Kanan brought him, Ezra realized that was probably a dumb thing to say, but he didn’t really feel well enough to care. He and Kanan sat in the common area quietly. Ezra didn’t really feel up to talking and Kanan seemed to understand that. Ezra felt himself starting to nod off, the warmth of the tea making him feel more comfortable.
“We’re back.” Zeb announced, jolting Ezra out of his half-slumber.
“Zeb!” Kanan hissed. “Did you have to say that so loud?”
“Sorry.” Zeb said. “I didn’t realize the kid was sleeping.”
“I wasn’t really asleep. Just dozing.”
“See its fine.” Zeb said.
Kanan rolled his eyes.
“We brought you some medicines.” Hera said, holding up a small bag. “Some more fever reducers, a cream for the itching, some cough drops, and of course Mylofloxen, the medicine for Bantha Pox itself.”
Ezra was amazed. He felt tears welling up in the corners of his eyes, and he began to blink excessively to keep them from falling. He didn’t expect all that. Back when he was alone, he had to result to buying medicine off the black market a few times, but he could only ever afford a few pills here and there. Never full bottles like Hera was holding up now, and certainly not ever more than one medicine at a time.
“Th—thank you.” Ezra finally managed. He felt overwhelmed. It had been so long since anyone had cared for him like this.
Kanan must have sensed his emotions, for he put his arm around his padawan and gave him a big hug.
“Of course, Ezra.” Hera said, a warm smile on her face. “We always look out for each other. That’s what family does.”
And at that moment, Ezra realized they were truly a family. His new family. Where he was meant to be.