Feb 2003

Disclaimer: I don't own it, it all belongs to lucasfilm...
Disclaimer 2: The song is by B4-4 (The inspiration for this fic) Go listen to it, it's an awesome song!

AN: I wrote this for a short story contest on theforce.net, however, I'm debating turning it into either a multiple part fic or going ahead and writing a long NJO J/Z... so lemme know what you think people and I'll see what I can come up with!
How Did We End Up Here?
He waited for her across the flight deck, watching the way she spoke to the tall Colonel climbing into the Chiss Clawcraft. The discussion was intense and he saw her frown, reaching up to tuck a stray strand of her brown hair behind one ear as she shook her head emphatically. He couldn't hear her words but her body language said it all. No. In big, bold, flashing neon letters. He smiled faintly as the man, Jagged Fel, looked at her stunned. It was an answer Jag hadn't been expecting. But then, watching them, he hadn't expected his heart to leap with sudden joy and anticipation of the Colonel's question. He hadn't expected the surge of hope when he'd thought his interest in her long dead.

He turned away, unable to watch as she said goodbye to the man who'd been her companion for the last five years. A man who was something he'd never been. Trained. Disciplined. Military material. A man who could give her everything she ever wanted. The man he'd stood aside for because she hadn't turned to him. Shaking his head once, he glanced over to see her walking his way. The Chiss craft had risen and was heading for the grav shield, away from her.

His emerald eyes watched as the object of all his secret fantasies headed his way, her strides sure and even. She looked every inch what she was. She was military polish; he was junk. Well, maybe not junk, but he'd certainly collected a lot of it. He didn't smile, simply took her in. She was supple, well trained from her long hours in combat. Her hair was still shoulder length but she didn't tie it in a ponytail anymore. Her face was lined with worries and cares he'd been unable to help her with. Ones she hadn't wanted his help with. And that still hurt.

He took in her orange jumpsuit, the scuffmarks on her polished boots and the slash of grime across her cheek. There was a lightness in her walk, a sense of worries or cares finally lifted and he couldn't help but wonder if he'd finally lost her for good, forever. Just looking at her sent an urge of longing through his system and he couldn't deny it. She was still the best looking, the most gorgeous female he'd ever laid eyes on. Not just her looks, but her spirit came through from within. It drew him irresistibly.

She smiled at him, "Long time no see."

Her voice was almost a physical caress for all the lightness in it and he had to fight the instant reaction. The one that wanted to pull her into his arms and kiss her senseless. He smiled. "Hey Jay. I was in the neighborhood so I figured I'd stop by."

She laughed. "We're in the middle of nowhere, Zekk, nobody's in the neighborhood!"

"It was worth a shot." He came back quickly. "Do I get a hug?"

Her smile was bright, almost dazzling, as she threw herself into his arms. He hugged her tightly, his arms around her waist as hers encircled his neck. It was a fierce, welcoming hug. One that spoke of a long absence and friends sorely missed. "I missed you," she whispered against his neck, squeezing a little tighter.

He smiled against her shoulder, dropping a kiss she'd never feel through the fabric of her flight suit. "Same here, Stix." He relished the feel of her against him, the temptation he could never give into. She was with someone else, even if he wasn't. It wasn't right for him to want more, they'd agreed when they'd parted last that they'd only just be friends. That there was nothing more in the cards for them. Yet he couldn't help but want more. He couldn't help wishing for just one more chance to make her his.

He released her reluctantly but she didn't step away completely, leaving his hands on her hips, her palms teasing his shoulders. Her smile faded a little as she stared up into his face, her brown eyes suddenly becoming serious. "Zekk?" she asked softly, searching his face.

He pulled his thoughts back to the present. "I'm alright. I saw you with Jag. Not a happy conversation?"

She smiled ruefully. "Is there a breakup that is?"

He froze, his hands on her waist. "You what?"

She made a face at him. "You heard me. I broke up with him."

"Why?"

She stepped away, his hands falling away from her reluctantly, hers only a little faster. "It was time. Jag is great, but he's not what I need."

"Not what you need? For five years?" He chuckled, feeling as if he couldn't breathe as his chest constricted. "You certainly took your time with that decision, Jay."

"Want to know why?"

He shrugged. "Sure."

"Because of you."

"What?" Ok, now he was officially confused. What did he have to do with her relationship and consequential breakup? He hadn't seen her since then!

She stepped closer. "You, Zekk, you're the reason. Jag asked me to go back with him to Chiss space today. He asked me to marry him. I told him no because I didn't feel right. I felt like I was pretending to like having him kiss me, having him around. I felt like I was putting on a show whenever we were alone. And when he asked me to marry him I said no. No because I don't love him and never have. No because I could never leave my family and friends. No because I'm in love with someone else."

He didn't dare speak, simply stared at her, afraid of what she'd say next. And yet, terrified she wouldn't. She loved him, is that what she was saying? He hoped so, oh Force he hoped so!

She stepped closer to him again. "I love you, Zekk. I never stopped."

"I thought we'd agreed to be friends." He finally croaked out, kicking himself mentally. He wanted this, why was he asking her? Because he wanted her to be sure, he realized. He wanted her to admit that they'd made a mistake. "I thought you said we could never work things out between us as more than friends."

She blushed. "I did, didn't I? I have an admission. I never stopped loving you. When I told you that I was afraid. Afraid that you only loved me because I'd rescued and befriended you. Because I believed in you. I didn't want you to love me for that. I want more, Zekk. If I wanted to be admired and worshiped, I would have married Jag. But he doesn't really see me. He never has. What I have with you, as just your friend is wonderful, but I want more. I want it all. I'm just sorry it took me five years to realize I should have been asking you to stay, instead of pushing you away. I'm so sorry."

He reached out, pulling her to him. Staring down into her brown eyes, eyes that were glittering with unshed tears, his heart squeezed. "I let you go," he said softly. "I did as you asked and walked away. I told myself I didn't need you and that I'd get over you, even as it killed me to walk away. This is a one way ticket Jaina. Once you're mine, really mine, I'm not letting you go."

She smiled, reaching up one hand to gently cup his face. "We've wasted five years and it's brought us full circle. Do you need any more proof? I love -you- Zekk. I love the scavenger in you, the control, the recklessness. I love the way you ties your hair back," she teased his ponytail with her fingertip, "and I love the way you're loyal. True and steady beyond all measure. You're always here for me when I screw up and I want to be here for you. Do you love me?"

"Do you need to ask?" his smile was slow, roguish and gorgeous. "Of course I love you, I never stopped."

She threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly. "Promise me something?"

"Anything." His arms wrapped around her tighter than before, pulling her deeper into the curve of his body. Pulling her so close their clothing melded.

"You'll love me forever and we'll never go through one of these again."

He laughed softly, a slightly husky, sexy sound that sent shivers down her spine. "I swear, Jaina Solo, from this day forward we'll never, ever do that again. You're mine and I intend to keep it that way."

And there, in the plain sight of the tech and pilots on the flight deck, Zekk dipped her backwards and covered her lips in a slow, languid kiss. A kiss of promise, of intention and, most of all, love.

Fin