Timeframe: Sometime mid YJK. Just after the big battle with the Shadow Academy and Zekk's decision to switch sides.
Genre: Mush, Vignette
Summary: Post- Jaina reaches out Zekk after he turns away from the Shadow Academy. Lots of Mush!
Disclaimer: Star Wars belongs to George Lucas, Lucasfilm, a bunch of folks who aren't me, etc. I'm none of those folks and I'm making no money off of any of this.
Notes: This is dedicated to my friend Jaya. I've owed her a J/Z fic for some time now and then we made a bet about a certain thing. I lost so the consequences were writing J/Z mush for her. Dude, I hope you enjoy!
"The whole Temple can feel you sulking, you know."
Eyes that are more grey than green at the moment continue to stare out at the jungle. A year ago, when he was just a street rat on Coruscant, he would have shot back that he wasn't sulking. Now the air only fills with silence.
"Well, okay, maybe, not the whole Temple," Jaina says, dropping down to sit beside him.
Out of the corner of his eye, he sees and notes the foot of space that she has left between them. He looks back out into the jungle.
"But Tenel Ka can't sleep and is acting moodier than a bunch of Dathomirian Nightsisters stuck in a leaky hut during monsoon season at a very bad time of the month. Jacen is practically snapping off the head of anyone who come near him and Lowie refuses to talk at all. Something is effecting us, and I don't think it's all this fresh jungle air."
"So that's why you're here?" he asks. Because you're worried about all of them, he thinks. I shouldn't be here. I should never have come here.
"Do you remember that time that Jacen had the Ithorian flu and had to stay home, so we went exploring by ourselves?"
Zekk does remember. It is, in fact, one of his favorite memories. Now he can hardly bear to think of those days.
"So what?" he snaps.
"We were down in the lower levels. I think that was the deepest that I've ever been before or since that day."
Zekk remembers how strange their usual aimless quest had been that day. Both of them had seemed to be driven to go deeper – farther into the underlevels. Zekk wondered now if they had been driven by the Force. He realizes abruptly that he hasn't been fully listening to Jaina for several moments now.
"And all of the sudden, that durasteel girder went out from underneath my feet."
Zekk sees the seemingly stable pile of beams that they had been walking across suddenly shift and slide out from underneath Jaina with frightening speed.
Jaina smiles over at him. "I don't know how you managed to grab my hand and keep me out from underneath all of that."
Zekk's fists clench convulsively at the memory.
"The thing is," Jaina says slowly, "you reached out and grabbed my hand, no matter how dangerous it was. I could have dragged you down with me, but you took a chance and we got out of it together."
"We shouldn't have been there at all," he hisses at her.
"True, but we were and we are. Will you take a chance on us, Zekk?"
His head jerks up.
"We're here, and we're all holding out a hand for you to grab," she says softly.
Zekk looks down and sees her hand, laying palm open on the space between them. He studies her hand, the long thing, beautifully tapered fingers. The hints of grease on the side of her index finger and the small scar on the back of her hand from a rough sparring match mark them as uniquely Jaina.
"It's not that easy, Jaina," he says softly.
"Take my hand, Zekk," she whispers back.
Without a conscious decision, his hand was hovering over hers, blocking it from sight and casting it into shadow.
"Don't be afraid," she whispers entreatingly.
He looks directly into her brown eyes for the first time.
"You don't know what you're doing, Jaina."
Before he can react, Jaina moves. Her hand connects to his with a smack and her fingers wrap around his own. In a flash that was just as jolting as her hand connecting with his, Zekk got a glance behind her mental shields.
She sees and she knows him – all that he has done. Jaina meets his gaze steadily.
"I won't ever let go, Zekk."
He nods slowly. It is there, but neither of them will speak of it again. He tries a smile, suddenly feeling lighter than he has in weeks or months.
"Thank you," he says, and he means it.
He squeezes Jaina's hand, and then tugs it up to lay a courtly kiss on the back of it. It was enough to make Zekk nearly forget about the emotions, the pain of just the moment before. He wants to savor it.
Zekk looks around again and then flashes Jaina a smile. "Hey, you want to go exploring? I don't think I've taken a good look around yet."
Jaina grins. "I'd like that."
Together they stand up.
"Let's go get everyone else, and then we can go," Jaina adds as they hurry towards the steps.
Zekk doesn't let her hand go. "Wait, Jaina. What if, I mean would it be so bad if it was just the two of us?" He reaches out and tucks an escaped strand of her long brunette hair back behind her ear. He lets his thumb brush across her cheek. "It's been a long time since I've been exploring just with one of my best friends in the galaxy." He takes a step closer. "She just reminded me of how foolish I've been being. I missed her so much," he confides in a low voice.
"I missed you too," Jaina whispers. "I thought about you every day."
"Do you know how I grabbed your hand that day?" Zekk asks. "I was reaching over to get up the courage to try to hold your hand."
"I'm glad you were," Jaina whispers.
Zekk inches closer, his long dark hair falling forward. "I've been wanting to do this since that day, too." He ducks his head in close to Jaina and presses his lips to her uncertainly.
Her free hand drifts up and slides into his hair as they melt into a sweet kiss.