Summary: Jaina gets ready for a friend's wedding and Zekk tries to keep his dignity - not to mention his sanity
Author's Note: this is the sequel to "By My Side"
~Excerpt from "Mother We Just Can't Get Enough" by New Radicals
I never, ever, ever should have quit my job as a bounty hunter.
I mean it. Quitting that was about the stupidest thing I ever did - well, no, falling for Brakiss' manipulations of my pride and then leading an attack against the Jedi takes that prize, but renouncing bounty hunter-hood was definitely up there in second place.
I should be going around the galaxy right now, bringing in cash and making no commitments but noooo…I had to be all righteous and buy into the save-the-galaxy thing.
Alright, so maybe the save-the-galaxy part was good, but the brochures did not say anything about running around like a pansy whenever a girl - formerly your best friend/girl friend, and the one you're currently trying to rebuild a relationship with - needs you for some odd, female-thing.
Now, Jaina is alright - she prefers flightsuits to skirts (not that, you know, she looks bad in skirts - quite the opposite; it's just that it's a lot more…distracting - which is purely a friendly and outsider-like observation) and grease over jewellery (quite the blessing when her Lifeday comes around, I'll tell you). But there are times - such as when a certain Tayra Lam (one of her squadron buddies) has decided to get hitched - that I can only stand back and watch in horror.
This was one of those times.
Fortunately, she picked up on my dismay quite early on in the morning and suggested I go through the paperwork for the new ship we were buying (again, I assure you, this is purely platonic and yes there are two different bunks on two different sides of the ship). Well, that took a load off my mind, let me tell you. So off I go, my com-link clipped onto my belt as an after-thought, (falsely) secure that I won't need to have anything to do with bridesmaids' gowns or flowers or females giggling over some "surprises" for the honeymoon…
The keyword here being "falsely".
I was just signing my name to the ownership document for the ship when my comm rang. At first, I ignored it; after five minutes of beeping, however, it began to grate on my nerves, so I whipped it out and barked, in a justifiably rude way, "What?!"
"Zekk?" I should have noted the chagrin in Jaina's voice right away. Unfortunately, a small and more-than-a-little-friendly part of me had surged forward at that moment and was too busy basking in the sound of her (deceptively) sweet voice to notice the danger signs.
So much for the Force giving people a head's up when something's wrong. Or maybe that's just for galaxy-wide catastrophes and not something as "minor" as the trouble a guy could get into because of a girl friend (notice the space, please, this is still friendly).
"Yeah…look, Zekk, could I ask you a huge favour?" Definite pleading in her voice.
"What is it?"
"I left my purse at the hotel." I could almost see her wince.
I still can't believe it took me that long to see the red flags. Really, it's a wonder I lasted the 'Vong war. "And…?" I asked, hoping she wouldn't really ask what I thought she was going to ask.
"I can't buy my bridesmaid dress without my money or ID," she continued.
She spoke in a rush. "Wouldyoupleasepleasepleasegogetitandbringittotheboutique?"
I choked and I'm sure I got an odd look from the ship dealer, but I turned away before I could see it. "WHAT?!"
I distinctly heard her stomp her foot. I guess comm sound quality had picked up sometime over the war - I couldn't remember the volume being that good before the 'Vong. And I thought all the mechanics were working on was weaponry or ships.
"Zekk, would you please get my purse and bring it to the boutique?"
"Not. A. Blasted. Chance."
"But Zekk - "
"Why don't you just go get it yourself?" Blasted woman. Does she think that just because we're working together and trying to rebuild our friendship she can turn me into her servant?
"It's too far to walk and our ride doesn't come for another three hours and the shop'll be closed by then," she moaned pitifully.
"It's called public transportation, Jaina."
"It's called non-existent, Zekk!"
"So get the store to hold it and go back for it tomorrow!"
"I can't," she said, sounding both condescending and pathetic.
Well, and adorable. Not that I'd tell her that.
"Why not? It's a bridal store, they'll understand - it's their job."
"They're closed tomorrow!"
"So get it the day after."
"The wedding's the day after, you idiot."
"Just go early."
Her silence said it all.
"But - but - Jaaaaaaaaaay…" I whined. So much for being in my twenties.
"Pleeeeeeeeeeeease, Zekk?" Yep, she was pouting. Shavit. Why did she have to be inhumanely cute when she wanted something?
"Fine," I grumbled. "Where's your kriffing purse?"
"It's on my bed," she said quickly. "Actually, it's not really a purse…just a black bag about the size of a binder. You can't miss it."
Really, she underestimates my ability to ignore something when I want nothing to do with it. "And where's this - " I lowered my voice " - boutique?"
"I wrote the address and shop name down on a piece of paper on my bedstead."
"What, you mean you planned this?"
"Of course not - I just thought it would be a good idea if you knew where I was. You know, in case you had a minor disaster or something."
Or something. "Whatever. I'll see you in a bit, I guess."
She sighed heavily in relief. "Oh, Zekk, thank you, I'll make it up to you, I promise!" There was a muffled squeal and Jaina's laugh spilled over the comm.
"Jay?" I queried, cursing the heart-flutters her laugh triggered.
She quieted again. "Sorry - Lanyr almost broke her ankle in some high heels. Guess she's been in a cockpit too much lately. Look, I gotta go - but you'll be here? Promise?"
I sighed. "Yeah, just let me finish up here."
"I'll make it up - "
" - to me. I know," I finished. "I'll talk to you later." Without waiting for a reply, I cut off the comm line.
"Your girlfriend certainly has you wrapped around her finger," the ship manager commented, trying to hide a smirk.
"Just give me the sithin' pen," I growled. "And she's not my girlfriend."
He gave me a "yeah, right" look.
Blast him, anyway.
You'd think that, after making me buzz around a little village where pigs and goats have the right of way and you have to talk to every single person you pass, Jaina would be at the front of the boutique, waiting for me. But noooo…she actually made me go into the store and find out that she was getting changed and I'd have to wait "a few minutes".
What I'd like to know is, what happened to the Jaina that could get changed in two seconds?
Unfortunately for me, Jaina was the only one getting changed, which left me with five of Jaina's friends.
"Do I know you from somewhere?" a red-head asked casually, beaming at me.
Another girl - a blonde - whacked the red-head with a veil. "He brought a girl's purse, Lanyr - do you really think he's not taken?" she teased.
Tayra, whom Jaina had introduced to me a few days ago, spotted me and headed over. "Zekk! What are you doing here?"
I was tempted to say, Going out of my mind, but figured it wouldn't be appropriate. "Jaina, scatterbrain that she is, forgot her purse."
"So you brought it for her?" the blonde asked. "That's so sweet!"
The red-head muttered something that sounded suspiciously like, "Why are the good ones always taken?" and received an elbow in the ribs from a woman with spiked, black hair.
"Points to you," the blonde remarked. "The Colonel would have died before he ever did anything like that."
Spikes snickered. "Yeah, well, the Colonel was too good for that kind of thing."
"The Colonel?" I queried, not enjoying the topic.
"Fel," a Twi'lek inserted. "Jaina's old boyfriend. She never did anything so well as to dump him."
The red-head smiled slyly. "He was a hot hand, though, and pretty easy on the eyes, you gotta admit…"
Spikes, the red-head, the blonde, and the Twi'lek continued to bicker and my participation was - thankfully - no longer required.
Tayra shook her head at her bridesmaids and turned back to me. "Don't mind them - they're always this odd. So…are you and Jaina going to be going down the aisle anytime soon, Zekk?"
I froze for exactly ten seconds - I know, because I counted. "We're just friends," I finally managed to say, drawing the attention of the others.
The girls exchanged a meaningful look. "Uh-huh," Tayra replied condescendingly. "That's what me and Gryq used to say. Don't worry, you'll get over it."
"Really, Tayra, Jaina and I - "
"Zekk! Oh, good," Jaina's voice said suddenly, saving me from the humiliation of explaining our relationship. "Tanyr, leave him alone."
"Of course, Goddess." The five snickered.
I turned to see a red-faced Jaina peeking out of the changing room. At my glare, she winced and mouthed "Sorry".
"Tanyr," she called, "get over here."
The bride-to-be rolled her eyes. "You mean you finally managed to get into that thing?"
"Shut up. You know how much I hate dresses."
"You mean you know how good you look in them. Everyone knows you spend hours primping when no one watches."
I had to hide a smirk at the blonde's reply. "Primping" was something I generally associated with Jaina.
Jaina stuck her tongue out at the blonde before stepping out.
I'd just like to state here and now that I had no control over my jaw when Jaina stepped out. It just…unhinges sometimes. Something to do with a missing bone. The doctors can't do anything, so I have to just deal with it. It has nothing to do with Jaina and it especially doesn't have to do with seeing Jaina looking unhealthily beautiful in a dress.
She did a little twirl, revealing too much back and my eyes widened. Another medical anomaly.
"Well, I think Zekk approves," Spikes remarked wryly.
Double blast her.
Jaina turned the colour of Tenel Ka's hair and refused to look me in the eye. "Well, it fits anyway," she mumbled. "So that's one less thing to worry about."
I'd like to say that I found my spine somewhere around there but I really can't. Mostly because I don't exactly remember what happened for the few minutes that followed. I guess she got changed and took her purse and thanked me again. Probably repeated that she'd 'make it up to me' a thousand times. No doubt the others giggled some more.
But I do remember saying (silently, of course) "Blast you, Jay" quite a few times.