Right In Front of You|
Timeframe: This takes place five years after Dark Journey
A/N: Ok, I felt that since I had put up a Jaina/Kyp vignette, I should probably put up a Jaina/Zekk vignette to make things a little more even. The temperatures are in Celsius. For those of you who are interested in knowing the temperature in Fahrenheit whenever I mention it, the formula is 9/5 the Celsius temperature, plus 32.
One of Oo'tikan, as they called themselves, rested his palm against the squarish metallic beeping object. He jumped back immediately, blowing on his hand, and shouting in pain, and everyone carefully backed away. If their headman could be hurt by the objects, then the gods truly wouldn't protect them if they were foolhardy enough to continue touching it.
One of the children came running up, and through gestures and fast-moving words, told the story of the streak that had flown across the sky. The entire tribe took off towards the forest, and they saw the ship, front crumpled as if it had hit the ground face first. Some of the children rushed forward, eager to take in this new sight. When the ship groaned, and part of it almost collapsed, mothers grabbed their children and pulled them away. A creaking sound issued, and a boarding ramp lowered.
A clicking sound started, and a pair of knee-high black boots appeared. "Son-of-a-!" the figure spat as she turned to face her ship. A black fitted jumpsuit clung to her curves and pronounced her a female of the human species. Steely brown eyes observed every scratch and carbon pitting on her ship. "Damnation!" she continued to spit out curses as she circled her ship. After pulling off her black gloves, she reached up to touch the bold black letters that spelled out Legacy. The paint was obscured by carbon pitting, and a tear slipped over her filthy cheek.
The Oo'tikan melted back into the forest, hiding from the strange creature who was currently clambering back into her ship.
"Sithspit!" Jaina struggled to try to get her comm unit working again, but the battered piece of equipment refused to cooperate. "Dammit!" Jaina could feel the tears coming again. Legacy had been given to her for her twentieth birthday by her dad, and in the last three years since she had gotten it, she had kept it in prime condition. "And now it's totally trashed. No one could ever put her back together," she muttered.
Groaning, she got to her feet and started to pull together a survival pack. She didn't even know where the hell she was. All that she knew was that there was a small collection of buildings about thirty kilometers south of where she was, and it was in the mid-thirties temperature wise. Way too hot to be trekking all over the planet.
Looking down at her clothes, she realized it probably wouldn't be the smartest idea to wear the heat absorbent black jumpsuit when trekking over a planet in thirty degree weather. She sighed and looked through the duffel that was in her sleeping cabin. Black. Black. Black. Red dress. Black. More black. Even more black. Groaning again, she shucked off her boots and jumpsuit before pulling on thin black pants and a black tank top, hoping that it would keep her cooler than the clothing she had been wearing.
After gathering together ration bars, glow lamps, a med kit, the weapons that had survived the crashed, climbing tools, a blanket, and a jacket, she was ready to go. She check the topographic chart to see how far the space port was from her position, then the nav computer to see if it had any idea what system she was in. The system was unknown, according to the nav computer, and the spaceport was on the other side of the planet.
Groaning in apprehension of the arduous journey ahead of her, she started towards the hatch. Even as she opened it, the Force screamed that she was in danger. She dove towards the floor, grunting as the wait of her pack thumped hard on her back. Three blaster bolts zinged through the air to embed themselves in the bulkhead above her head.
"Sithspit! Just when I thought this damn day couldn't get any better!" Jaina spat as she rolled away from her vulnerable position in the hatch, and drew her blaster.
Another blaster bolt embedded itself deep into the framework around the hatch. Jaina popped up and let loose a couple of rounds towards the movement she saw in the trees before ducking back down again. The air whistled around her as blast bolts were aimed at her.
Swearing the air around her blue, she returned fire, all the while looking for a way out of the trap she had gotten herself into. Finally, her eyes landed on the back hatch. It had been welded shot because of the faultiness of the insulation around it, but Jaina figured that she might be able to open it- if she had the time. "And time would be the one Force damned thing I don't have!" she cursed as she slapped the door controls closed.
She knew that time was running out, and she looked around desperately for some way to open the door. Groaning to herself, she reluctantly drew her lightsaber and plunged it into the center of the door. As the material around the blade started to glow red-hot, she carefully cut through the heated metal. The lightsaber cut down to the bottom of the door, then across, making an opening about a meter and a half tall by about half a meter wide.
When the final cut was made, the metal stood in place for a couple of seconds, then started wobbling back and forth before collapsing soundlessly on the grass covered ground. Jaina tossed the pack she had made through the hole, then bent and slid through. She left the pack where it had landed and circled silently around to the front of the ship.
Careful to stay down low, and move slowly, Jaina looked out from the edge to see how many she was facing. There were two in the hovervan, and three outside the hovercar. She left her lightsaber on her belt where she had rehooked it, and tossed it on the ground, within a quick reach. Then, drawing the two blasters she wore on her hips, she started firing.
Her first shot was good, striking the man whom had waiting patiently for her to appear, and spinning him around before he collapsed on the ground. Her three other shots didn't land on their marks, hitting only the metal of the hovervan's walls, and she ducked out of sight. The four remaining soldiers returned fire, and Jaina called her lightsaber back to her using the Force.
She melted back behind the ship to come around the other side. The Peace Brigaders were all focused on the spot where her shots had been coming from, not paying attention to anything else. Rookie mistake, she thought humorlessly, as she carefully aimed. This time her shots took out both their targets, who's only sounds as they collapsed on the ground floor were shouts of shock.
The driver of the hovervan nodded to the man sitting next to him, and the right door opened as the soldier eased out, gripping his rifle tightly to him. Poor idiot, she allowed herself to think before her shot blew the man's head into a spray of blood and gore. The only soldier left- the driver- looked terrified, and Jaina let herself have a moment's pity for him. He would have easily killed you if you hadn't taken out his entire team, she reminded herself as she found herself wishing that she didn't have to kill him.
The soldier looked like he wasn't ever going to get out of the hovervan, so Jaina reholstered her blasters, and drew the rifle that hung on her back. She aimed carefully, using the sight to focus on the fuel tanks, and gently pulled the trigger. The sky was lit with an explosive fireball seconds later as the shot found its target and blew the hovervan up, instantly killing the man.
Jaina allowed herself a couple seconds of commemorative thoughts before she headed to the back of the truck and shouldered her pack. She checked her global positioning, then started on her journey towards the small town she had seen on the sensors.
"Luke!" His beautiful, fiery tempered wife rushed into the room he was currently using as his office, a worried line between her eyes.
He immediately put aside the report he'd been looking over, knowing that she wouldn't have interrupted him so soon unless it was something important. "What is it?" he asked, a sense of foreboding growing in the back of his mind.
"It's the Legacy." As soon as Mara said those words, Luke knew it had to have been something terrible to have beaten his niece, so like his wife in temperament and abilities. "Kam had her on the comm after she was pulled out of hyper by an Interdictor. He says that she went off the waves somewhere near Dagobah," she finished placing a data pad with the full report on his desk.
"Dammit! This is the last thing that Han and Leia need, after what Jaina went through last year!" Luke cursed. Mara nodded in agreement even as he keyed on the comm unit on top of his desk. "Kam? Kam, who is the closest Jedi we've got to the Dagobah system?" he asked.
"The closest we've got is on Bothawui. And they're in the middle of something they can't drop. You might as well pull somebody from here, since they aren't doing anything," Kam informed him.
Luke thought over the possible Jedi he had on base, then ordered, "Have someone find Zekk and send him to my office." Kam confirmed the orders, then Luke shut off the comm speaker.
Luke and Mara spent an antsy seven minutes, thirty-eight seconds (he counted every single one of them) before a knock sounded on the door, and Luke responded with a loud, "Come on in!"
Zekk opened the door, and stepped through. "You call for me, Master Skywalker?" he asked politely.
"It's Luke," Luke answered automatically. It had been a losing battle so far to get Zekk to call him anything besides Master Skywalker. "I have a mission for you. I know it's kind of abrupt, but I need you to get Jaina out of the Dagobah system. We don't know if she's alive, or not, but if she is, she's going to need help getting off the planet. As far as we know, her ship was damaged after being pulled out of hyper by an Interdictor. Can you do it? You'll have to head out immediately if you accept."
Something flashed in Zekk's eyes as he answered, "I'll do it, Sir. What ship am I taking?"
Luke looked at Mara, who nodded once she saw the question in his eyes. He then replied, "Take the Shadow," naming the ship that Luke had given his wife for their wedding anniversary, the ship that neither of them allowed anyone else to use.
Zekk stared, flabbergasted. "You want me to take the Shadow?" he asked, shocked.
"Yes. You're going to need all the help you can get to get through the Peace Brigade and Yuuzhan Vong blockade in the surrounding systems. The Shadow will give you the extra push you might end up needing. You have to leave within a standard hour and a half, Zekk, so I suggest you go make any good-byes that you need to," Luke replied.
Zekk nodded, then turned and disappeared through the door. Luke and Mara watched as the door slid shut. "I hope he finds her in time," the Jedi Master remarked to his wife.
"He will. He has to."
Zekk somehow managed to be ready and waiting to go before half his allotted time was up. He didn't have many people to say good-bye to, and all he had to do besides that was throw some clothes and other paraphernalia into a duffle.
No one was there in the hanger to see him off, but that was normal for him, and he blocked off the loneliness that emerged as he concentrated on flying the ship off-planet and into hyperspace. Once he had pulled the lever that jumped the Shadow into hyper, he allowed himself the luxury of thinking about Jaina.
He hadn't seen her beautiful face in while, nor had he permitted himself to think about her. It seemed like years since he had last seen her, which it almost was, he reminded himself. Jaina was both a fighter pilot and a Jedi, and being transferred all over the universe was part of the job description, but Zekk knew that Jaina was avoiding him. Somehow, she would get knowledge of him arriving, and by the time he set down on-planet, she was long gone.
He closed his eyes, thinking about her, and swung his booted feet up onto the console. Seconds later, they were on the floor, Zekk having remembered that this was the personal ship of the former Emperor's Hand, and putting his feet on top of the equipment was the equivalent of shooting himself in the head- immediate, painful death.
Jaina has changed so much since this war started, he mused. She had gone through the deaths of Chewie and her brothers, and the losses of her friends. Countless pilots had died in the battles she had fought- and survived- and their deaths had to weigh heavily on her, whether or not they had belonged to the same squadron. Zekk hadn't seen her for two years after the first month of the year, and when he had first seen her again, he had been amazed by how much she had changed.
His childhood love had changed from a naïve teenaged girl who believed that good always triumphed to a hardened, mature young woman who knew good people could die. Spending several days with her made him realize that he hadn't changed as much as she had- that he hadn't seen nearly as many atrocities committed by the Yuuzhan Vong as she had, and thus was more "untouched", though he didn't feel that that was the right words. He also discovered that her love from him, although he wasn't sure if that was the right word either, had changed. Now, she treated him with easy friendship.
Zekk longed for something more with the vibrant young woman he had loved for so long. He didn't know how much more, but he did know that if she was happier with someone else, he would let things stay at that.
Meanwhile, he had bigger problems on his hands. In less than three hours, he would be pulling out of hyperspace to rescue someone who had been avoiding him for close to half a decade. If he added in the fact that she was a highly independent woman who hated the idea of needing to be rescued, he could pretty much safely assume that she wouldn't be welcoming him with open arms.
He sighed and thought of what he would do once he had reverted back to real space. Surprisingly, the three hours passed much quicker than he had expected, and before he knew it, a beeping noise was interrupted his reverie, informing him that he had two minutes before the ship reverted to real space.
Zekk pushed himself up from his slouching position, and silently counted down until the timer stated zero in blinking red letters, then he pulled the lever that controlled the hyperdrive. There was a second long silence as the hyperdrive disengaged and the sublight engines started up, then the steady hum of a well-tuned engine filled the cockpit once more.
His sensors immediately picked up on the speeding proton torpedoes coming at him. Reflexively, he threw the Shadow into a dizzying spiral, and the torpedo shot past him, just close enough that some cosmetic damage- scorching of the paint- was reported on his damage board.
A quick glance at the sensor board informed him that the large, obviously modified freighter that had originally fired upon him was now discharging a flight of ships that the Shadow's computer was having trouble identifying. Probably Uglies, he thought dismissively to himself as he pulled up out of his spin. Quick snap shots took care of two of the closest Uglies, then he veered off to the starboard.
Two of the Uglies followed him, and he led them on a merry chase throughout the system. "Come on, baby," he muttered under his breath as he altered his course a bit. One of the Uglies was right on his tail, and Zekk was speeding directly towards another one. Warning alarms sounded in the cockpit of the Shadow¸ warning him of an incoming missile. Determinedly, he held the ship on course, waiting until the last second to throw his ship upwards in a spin. The Ugly behind him had no warning, and exploded in a fiery blast. The second Ugly managed to pull up like Zekk, but not quickly enough, and his rickety craft broke apart as it rode the shock wave created by the destruction.
After making sure that the pilot was incacipated, Zekk turned his attention to the modified freighter. However, there was nothing to worry about. The freighter was currently fleeing the system. Zekk wondered why, but refused to let himself worry to much about it as he set about scanning the planet for Jaina's ship, The Legacy.
After about an hour of scanning the planet, he realized that the search could take hours. He changed the parameters slightly- any human life forms, and any metal that was about the size of Jaina's ship. Making sure that an alarm would go off if there was a problem, or if the sensors found anything, he then headed to the sleeping cabin. Seconds after his head hit the pillow, he was asleep.
Jaina wearily sat down on a rotting log, careful not to make it collapse under her slight weight. She had been trudging towards the settlement that the sensors had spotted for the last two hours. Checking the handheld global positioning, she found that she had traveled nine kilometers.
"Damn." The single curse didn't do anything to make her feel better. Moving through the forest was harder than she had expected. Jaina hadn't realized that she would have to deal with hanging vines with minds of their own, animals that wanted to make her part of their dinner, and the speed that dehydration had come. At the rate she was traveling, she'd be dead before she hit the settlement.
Swearing again, she got to her feet, determining her little break over. Checking the global positioning unit once more, she headed off towards the buildings.
Two hours later, she was forced by exhaustion to rest. Defending herself against the local predators and the lack of water had begun to take their toll. Scratches marred her tanned skin. Her face was pale, and the sweat that had so profusely covered her skin four hours before no longer existed. Her two ration bars had been consumed an hour before, but the energy rush was gone. She looked around her, taking in the trees, and bushes, knowing that she didn't have long before the animals followed her realized that she was as good as dead.
She was looking at a tree, trying to estimate how much strength it would take to get up there, when she heard the distinctive roar of speeder engines. Immediately, she dove into the bushes on her right, and watched as the brown vehicle came into view. Its driver was crouched down low over the handles.
She observed him as he came closer and closer to her hiding spot. When he was within twenty meters, she quietly picked up a rock. When he was within ten meters, she flung it with all her remaining strength. It hit the back of the speeder, causing it to go out of control. The driver went flying over the handlebars to hit up against a tree. The speeder did a nosedive into the ground.
Jaina was about to go running to the still-working speeder when she heard a familiar groan. She chanced a glance over her shoulder to see long, dark brown hair move as the head it was attached to shook gently. "Zekk?" her stunned question hung in the air for a couple of seconds, then the man raised his face.
There was no question who it was now. Jaina abruptly turned from the bike's direction and hurried over to the injured Jedi. "Sithspit, Zekk, I didn't mean to hurt you! I didn't even know it was you. What are you doing here anyway?"
Zekk remained silent in answer to her questions. When she finally stopped talking, he gave her a wan smile and attempted to get to his feet, saying, "We can talk about it on the Shadow."
Jaina immediately went to help him, but at his words, stood stock-still. "The Shadow?" she asked weakly. "What did you do, steal it when you learned I was in trouble?"
He cautiously moved one foot in front of the other and said, "No, your aunt told me that I should take it, just in case."
Jaina looked sharply over at him. When she could see nothing but the lines drawn in his face from the pain of crashing into the ground, she took pity on him, and drew his arm across her shoulders. "Here, lean on me," she offered.
He did so, then told her, "There is some food and water in my backpack. You look like you need it."
Jaina nearly went for the bag, forgetting about Zekk, then stopped. She helped him over to a large rock, made sure he was comfortable, then practically dived for the bag. As soon as she came across a ration bar, she tore away the protective foil covering and stuffed it in her mouth.
Zekk watched from his position on the rock as she inhaled another one, then said, "You're going to want to save the rest of those ration bars for later. We have about half a day's journey in front of us to get to the Shadow, and I think that it would be safe to assume that you're going to be hungry later.
She froze in the process of reaching for another ration bar, then started loading everything into the backpack. After shrugging the straps onto her shoulders, she righted the speeder bike, then carefully helped him up.
Zekk held his breath as the close contact with her body assured him that several of his parts were in perfect working order. Painfully perfect order. Even after two years of almost no contact, she still managed to affect him this strongly. He cursed mentally, and prayed that she wouldn't notice the slight hesitation that had overcome him at the thought of pressing his weight up against Jaina's slight body, and that if she did happen to notice, that she wouldn't figure out what the slight check in movement was for.
Jaina helped him onto the back of the speeder bike, then cushioned him with the two backpacks. Instructing him to wrap his arms as tightly around his waist as he could, she revved the engines, and they headed back to the Shadow. Every so often, she would glance down at the small grid embedded in the handlebars, just to make sure that they were on the right course.
Her exhaustion had been battled back by the energy bars, but she knew that it wouldn't last for long. Zekk held himself stiffly against her, and she figured that the beating he had gotten when he had gone flying off the bike must have harder than she had originally assumed. Zekk cursed whichever technician had decided to make the seats on the speeder bike so damnably small. He was right up against Jaina, and if he wasn't careful, she'd figure out what part of his problem was.
They rode in silence for the rest of the eight hour journey to the Shadow. When they finally arrived, she cut the engines, then hopped off the bike, and guided it up the lowered ramp on foot. When they got inside, she pressed the keypad next to the door, and the ramp rose.
Zekk gathered up his courage to ask, "How bad is the Legacy damaged?"
She froze, the only indication that she had heard his question. There was silence for a moment as she busied herself with removing the backpacks from the speeder, then, with a sad light in her eyes, she answered, "It's irreversible. The Legacy is only good as so much scrap metal now."
Zekk understood her pain. He had felt the same way when he had been forced to scrap the Lightning Rod after one too many hits in battle. There is little one could say or do to express their sorrow, except say that they're sorry. That's what he did then. Taking her hand, he told her, "I'm sorry that you lost your ship. I know that it was important to you."
She tried to force a nonchalant shrug, attempting to dismiss the importance of the ship in her life, but he still saw the tear that slipped down the cheek closest to him. He swung off the speeder bike, his breath hitching a bit with pain, and gathered her into his arms, managing to ignore the feel of her body up against his.
They stood like that for a while, arms wrapped around each other, her tears wetting his shirt. Zekk knew that she wasn't just crying for her ship, she was crying for lost friends, lost memories. He knew that she had used the ship as an emotional barrier- as long as her ship was okay, nothing else mattered, or so she tried to project.
Zekk rubbed his hands slowly up and down her back in a soothing pattern, gently kneading the tense muscles around her spine.
Her sobs gradually quieted to hiccups, but he still continued massaging her back. When she finally managed to get herself under complete control, she looked up at him. Tears still trembled on her eyelashes, and her eyes were a little red from her crying, but other than that, there was no evidence that she had just been crying her heart and soul out on his shirt.
She pushed her short height higher by standing on her tiptoes, and pressed her lips against his. The warm, soft curves clung for a brief second, then she pulled away and hurried towards the cockpit.
Zekk stood there, frozen in place. His fingers rose up and touched his lips wonderingly. His lips still felt the warmth of hers, and he could feel parts of his body come alive even more than they had been previously.
Groaning silently, he followed Jaina into the cockpit and sat himself down in the co-pilot's chair. He watched in fascination as her hands rapidly manipulated the controls, causing the Shadow to rise up in the air.
Jaina pushed the sublight engines to the maximum, itching to get away from the planet. Zekk watched the sensor board, keeping aware for any ships that might be in-system. However, nobody was there to challenge them, and Jaina pulled the lever that jumped the Shadow into hyperspace.
The young woman stood up and stretched, then informed him, "I need to go get some sleep. Keep an eye on the sensors, will you?"
Zekk nodded, and she disappeared from the cockpit. Zekk thought about how she had reacted to seeing him- besides the whole throw-a-rock-and-injure-him thing. She had seemed professional and efficient in everything she had done, except for when she had broken down and cried. But other than that, she didn't seem to react in any special way. "Damn," he muttered.
The war had obviously taken a lot out of her. Jaina had once been a teenaged girl, one who was free with her emotions. Now, seven years after the beginning of the war, all traces of a teenager were gone, replaced by an emotionally detached pilot. But she did avoid for a couple of years, part of his mind pointed out. That idea gave him some hope. Why would she avoid him? Because she felt that she couldn't be emotionally detached where he was concerned?
His thoughts were interrupted by a strangled cry, coming from the direction of the sleeping cabins. He was out of his chair and dashing towards the source of the cry before his rationality caught up with him and he started wondering who could be attacking Jaina.
He burst through the door of the sleeping cabin Jaina had chosen, then stopped at the realization that Jaina was alone in the room, but for him. Sounds coming from the bed on which she lay drew his attention to her once more.
She thrashed around in the bed, the sheets winding tighter and tighter around her limbs. A keening sound issued from her throat as tears rolled down her cheeks.
Before Zekk knew what he was doing, he was across the room, sitting down cautiously on the bed, and loosening the taut sheets. He gently drew the sobbing young woman into his arms, mindful of her wildly flinging arms, and instinctively, his hands moved into the massaging motion he had used on her earlier that day.
Her sobs quieted, but it was a long while before they completely ceased. He knew not what made her cry like she had just lost the universe, but he knew that the woman he loved was in pain, and perhaps there was something that he could do about it.
When her tears finally ended, she came to realize the position that she was in, seated in Zekk's lap, his arms firmly holding her in place against his body. As soon as he felt her body tense up, he released her, and she immediately scrambled out of his arms. "Get out." Her voice was shaky, and she refused to look him in the eye, but Zekk still complied with her order.
"Good-night," he told her, pausing in the doorframe. "I hope you sleep better now."
No reply came from the room.
As soon as they set down on Tynna, Jaina separated herself from Zekk. Whenever he attempted to find her, to talk to her about what happened that night on the Shadow, it was impossible. Finally giving up, recognizing that she obviously hated his guts for some reason, Zekk applied himself to his own tasks. That is, sparring and checking out the bars on Tynna.
About four days after he and Jaina had landed, he paused in the doorway of Chuck's, using the Force to scan for potential problem causers. When his Force sense warned of another Jedi in the room, he paused in his check to investigate further. The information led him towards a small booth where a brunette was well on her way to getting rip roaring drunk.
As he slid into the seat, he nearly grinned as she bestowed a very drunk, very wobbly glare upon him. "What's up?" he asked, noting the lomin ale at her elbow. Obviously something was wrong, otherwise she wouldn't be this drunk. He could count on one hand the number of times he had seen a Solo this plastered, and he could do that even if he had three fingers missing.
She shook her head mournfully and stared into the golden swirls of her drink. "It's the anniversary."
Zekk was mystified as to what she was talking about but decided that it wouldn't hurt to ask questions. However, he figured that he probably wouldn't enjoy the hearing. "Do you want to talk about it?"
His question hung in the air between them, but Jaina did not answer immediately. Instead, her already still body tensed up even more as she chewed on her lower lip. The silence between them grew to the suffocating stage, and still, Jaina did not answer.
He finally was about to say something else, anything else, to get rid of the silence when she finally spoke up. "About four years ago, I fell in love with somebody. You might have heard of him. Colonel Jagged Fel." She stopped talking for a minute, rapidly swallowing as she attempted to regain some of her composure. Zekk felt a blow to the gut at the mention of his love's old…he didn't know what the term for Colonel Fel was. Lover? Boyfriend?
"I don't know if things ever would have worked out between the two of us, even though we felt at the time that we could take on the universe with just us and our love. Maybe it would have. We never got the chance to find out." Another tear slipped down her cheek but she paid it no mind as she continued with her story. "After we had been going out for about a year and a half, Jag was killed in combat." The stark sentence still managed to convey her pain at the loss of the man she loved. Zekk sat frozen, not knowing what to say.
"Then, a couple of months after the funeral, I saw you." Her voice was hard on the last word, accusing him of something. "It was like a blow to the stomach. I avoided you after that. I mean, I had just buried Jag, how could I be in love with you? But I was. Even though I was betraying Jag in every possible way, I couldn't do anything about it.
"So, I just avoided you, hoping that it would just go away, that everything would go back to normal. But it didn't. And last night," she gave a bitter laugh. "Last night pushed everything home for me. I had been trying to avoid you, avoid anything that would remind me of you, but I couldn't. I attempted to be just friends, but last night showed me what was right in front of me. I love you, Zekk," she looked him squarely in the eyes. "I know I shouldn't, but I really, truly love you." She took a deep breath, then asked, "Is it too late?"
Zekk slowly exhaled the breath he had been holding. How to answer this? Jaina was obviously extremely tipsy, or he wouldn't have been hearing any of this. The question was, how much of it was true? Finally, he asked, "This isn't a joke. You truly love me?"
Jaina slowly nodded, and he took in another large breath. After letting it out in a whoosh, he decided to lay his cards on the table. "I love you, Jaina. I always have loved you. I was just waiting for you."
A tear rolled down her cheek, happy tears, he realized. "I want to spend the rest of my life with you, Zekk." With that, her head pitched forward as she finally succumbed to the alcohol in her bloodstream and passed out.
Zekk swore, then tossed a couple of credit chips on the table, and picked Zekk up in his arms. He hired a hovercab and opened his mouth to give directions to Jaina's rooms, then he remembered that he didn't know where they were. Faced with a dilemma, he finally gave directions to his rooms.
It was about a fifteen minute ride to the building that housed his rooms. As he pushed open the door, Jaina in his arms once more, he took it in. Nothing too shabby, it was actually pretty nice for a bachelor's pad. He lay Jaina down on the only bed in the place- his bed- then stood there, looking at her. She was dead to the world, the result of too much alcohol consumption. Feeling exhaustion overtake him, he lay himself carefully down beside Jaina. Only for a couple of seconds, he promised himself.
When Jaina came to the following morning, she found herself on a strange bed, in a strange room, suffering only a minor headache as her hangover. Splashing water sounded from a 'fresher somewhere, and seconds later, Zekk appeared, cheerfully humming a song. As he stepped into view, his eyes immediately went to her, the song dying on his lips. When he realized that she was awake, his stance screamed awkward at her.
"Wha…" It was nearly impossible to force the words past dry lips, but she labored to do it. "What happened…last night?" She had a vague idea of telling Zekk she loved him, and him saying that he loved her back, but she knew that it could only be a hallucination. Zekk couldn't love her.
"Well, last night, you informed me that it was an anniversary of some kind, then proceeded to tell me all about Jag, finishing with some 'I love you's, and then you passed out," Zekk informed her lightly.
Jaina couldn't believe how relaxed he seemed about the whole thing, until she realized that he was tensely waiting for her reply. "Did you tell me you loved me?" she finally asked as a way to stall.
He hesitated, then nodded and said, "Jaina, I love you. Was it just the alcohol talking last night, or do you love me back?"
Jaina immediately broke into the largest, most lopsided grin of her life as she leaped off the bed into his arms. "I was so afraid that I had hallucinated it. I love you, Zekk! And you love me!" she exclaimed between the kisses that she dotted all over his face.
The force of her leap had caused him to stagger a bit, giving her time to get settled in his arms, her legs around his waist. Feeling so much of her body up against his caused Zekk to let loose with a groan and capture his lips with his. Heat spread throughout their bodies. Neither of them knew who pulled the other down onto the bed. All they knew was that they had themselves, and their love.
So, what did you think? And, before anybody asks, no, I'm not saying that the only way that Jaina and Zekk could be together is if Jag died. I think that they (Jaina and Zekk) would work out, even if Jag was very much alive.
Don't forget to review!