Title: Shadow of a Doubt Author: Raissa Baiard Timeframe: Saga, approximately 8 BBY Characters: Hera Syndulla, Kanan Jarrus, Chopper Genre: Romance Synopsis: A year after Kanan joins the Ghost’s crew, he and Hera struggle to define their feelings for each other. Notes: for the One-Hit Wonder Challenge. My song was Silhouettes—The Rays (1957) Thanks to @Findswoman, the Galaxy’s best beta-reader, beyond a shadow of a doubt. ———- The blue-skinned Twi’lek sitting across from Hera Syndulla was easily twice her age and was missing the lower third of his right lek, but her eyes sparkled merrily as the two of them chatted. He leaned forward and took one of her hands in his. Whatever he said to Hera made her laugh as she pulled her hand away and wagged a gently remonstrating finger at him. Kanan watched them from across the cluster of tables outside the Smiling Tooka Café in Amma city on Barcana while he sipped a cup of caf that had gone cold and bitter. Hera had said she was going to meet a very important contact at the café, that it wouldn’t take long and he should meet her there as soon as the Ghost was refueled. But she’d been talking to the Twi’lek for nearly an hour now, smiling across the table at him and laughing frequently. They did not seem to be discussing business, and Kanan was beginning to feel a bit irritated. Of course, Hera didn’t owe him any explanations; she was the captain and he was just...well, whatever it was he was aboard the Ghost. They’d never formally clarified his job. Whatever his title, it certainly didn’t mean she had to tell him anything about her personal life. Still, if she’d been going out with this disreputable looking Twi’lek instead of meeting a contact, it might have been nice of her to give him a heads up, so he didn’t have to sit here watching them flirt all afternoon. Kanan scowled into his mug and drummed his fingers on the table. “Bwaah!” Chopper, Hera’s eccentric Clone War-era astromech, who was waiting with him, prodded Kanan in the side with a grasper. “Bwah bwaahbwah bwop.” “I should tell her?” Kanan frowned. He gotten pretty good at understanding the droid’s vocalizations, but he wasn’t sure what Chopper was referring to this time. “Tell her what?” His answer did little to clarify things. “How I feel about her? Chopper, what are you talking about?” “Bwah bwop bwaah bwop!” “I like her? Of course I like her.” Kanan had been working in his capacity as a jack-of-all-trades on the Ghost for close to a year now, ever since he’d helped Hera thwart the Empire’s plans on Gorse. In that time, he’d come to genuinely respect her for the strength of her convictions. She was a good and honorable woman, kind and caring as well as passionate and fierce. She was an absolutely top-notch pilot. Intelligent. Witty. And beautiful, too, of course...but that was beside the point. “Hera’s an admirable woman What’s not to like?” “Bwaaah!” It was amazing how much annoyance the droid could express on that one syllable. “Bwah bwop bwahbwah bwop!” “Then what did you mean? “Bwah BWAAAH bwop!” The last “bwop” trailed off into an electronic smooching sound. “What?!” Kanan fumbled with his caf mug, nearly dropping it. “No! I can’t… I mean, I don’t!” The droid was crazy. Just because Kanan liked Hera didn’t mean he liked Hera. They were colleagues. Friends. They made a great team. Nothing more. He didn’t need to be more, even if Hera was an amazing and attractive woman. Chopper snorted and poked Kanan in the ribs again, harder this time. “Bwahahaha! Bwah b’bwah bwahbwah bwop!” “The way I’m watching her? I’m watching Hera so I’ll know when she’s ready to leave. I am not staring.” Did mind tricks work on droids? Was there an off switch somewhere on the back of that flattened orange dome? There had to be some way to stop that evil electronic chuckling. Kanan stabbed a finger at the doid. “You’re delusional, you know that? When was the last time Hera had your circuits wiped?” Chopper gave an affronted “BWWWAAH!” and his electroshock probe suddenly arced with crackling blue sparks, zapping Kanan’s outstretched hand. He winced and twitched as all his muscles seem to spasm at once. “Ow! Why you maladjusted—” “You boys look like you’ve been having fun without me.” Hera had apparently finished her meeting or date or whatever she wanted to call it while Kanan had been arguing with Chopper. She motioned for them to follow her. Kanan rubbed his stinging arm as he rose; behind him, the droid snickered quietly. “And you looked like you were enjoying yourself.” “It was good to see Nawwaf again.” Hera answered with a smile as they made their way down the narrow, winding avenue that led from Amma’s merchant quarter back to the spaceport. “It’s been a long time since I’ve talked to him.” “A special friend?” “An old friend...of my father’s.” She tilted her head to the side and raised an eyebrow at Kanan. “Why? Would it matter to you if he was?” “What?” Kanan’s steps faltered. “No! No, of course not. You and I just work together. Why should it bother me if…” He smothered another scowl. First Chopper and now Hera. Why would either of them have these silly, unfounded suspicions? All right, so he’d been attracted to her to begin with, but their friendship had moved past that. She’d made it clear when he signed on that she wasn’t looking for that kind of companionship from him. And that was fine. “Anyway, you don’t have to worry about me. Jedi don’t form those kind of attachments.” Her eyebrows arched a little higher. “Those kind of attachments?” “Yes, you know…” What was that phrase? “Romantic entanglements. Emotional involvement leads to possessive feelings and jealousy. It clouds one’s judgement, so we’re instructed to avoid it.” “Entanglements.” Now Hera stopped, and there was an odd note to her voice he couldn’t quite place. Her mouth thinned out into a line the way it did when she discovered the Ghost’s navicomputer had developed another new quirk. “I see. Well, thank you for explaining that to me. I feel so much better now.” She gave her head a quick shake, lekku twitching, and Kanan thought she sighed a bit as she started walking again. “At any rate, Nawwaf had some interesting intel for us. Feel like doing some surveillance work tonight?” “Sure,” Kanan replied, glad to move on to a topic that wasn’t as discomfiting. Though why discussing attachments with Hera should make him feel as mixed up inside as a youngling learning the Code, he didn’t know. “What have we got?” “According to Nawwaf, Moff Ramier has been meeting frequently with a woman named Adila Zamin, a member of a crime syndicate called ‘Eighty-seven’.” Hera’s lips curved up into the smile that meant she was going to make trouble for the Empire—and enjoy every moment of it. “I’d be curious to know what the good Moff is discussing with ryll smugglers, wouldn’t you?” “Absolutely.” And Kanan would enjoy every moment, too. Hera could make trouble for the Empire like no one else; the subtlety with which she worked was a thing of beauty. Her smile broadened as they approached the Ghost. “Good! Dinner in the galley in half an hour. We’ll make our plans then.” ——- Author’s Note: The criminal organization, Eighty-seven is @Gamiel ’s fanon.