Disclaimer: It's George's sandbox, I'm simply wrecking the sandcastles.
Title: Now You Get Me.
Genre: Vignette, Angst-ish?
Timeframe: LotF Era Vig - somewhere, likely AU
Summary: Zekk "explains" a few things to Jaina
Notes: Inspired by certain Vigs I've read about "Fury" - I haven't read anything about LotF so bear with me.
Now You Get Me.
Jaina rounded on Zekk her eyes blazing. "You had no right to interfere!"
"I had every right," he informed her tightly. "Every right and more."
"Then you overstepped your bound, Zekk," she shot back hotly. "If my actions bother you so much, why don't you just leave?"
"I can't." His tone was harsh. "Don't you realize that by now or are you really that selfish you can't see it?"
"See what? That you've been tagging along after me since our academy days? That you've been wasting your life hopelessly longing for something that I will never be? For something I can never give you? Don't you get it? I can't love you!"
"I know that. I've always known that," his words were laced with bitterness. "I'm not as dumb as you think I am Jaina."
"I don't think you're dumb, just dense. Why else would you hang on to a dream that has no hope of being realized?"
"You don't get it, do you?" He laughed harshly. "It's not about you. It never was about you!"
"Then explain it to me. Explain why you've dogged my steps since leaving the academy. Explain why we're always paired together, regardless of how much time has passed since we last saw each other. Explain what it is that's so irresistible about being around me that you can't bring yourself to leave."
Zekk matched her, toe to toe, and glared down into the eyes that still continued to haunt his dreams, and likely would until the day he died. Anger, he knew, was dangerous, but he also knew from experience that Jaina was the one person who could always - and would always - be his match in that. He bit his words out carefully. "It's. Not. About. You."
"Then what is it about?"
"Salvation." He almost spat the word at her. "Not something you'd understand."
"Mine, to be exact."
Her laughter was harsh. "You don't need saving. If anyone needs saving it's me."
"You saved yourself a long time ago. You had your brothers, your mother, your father, uncle and aunt. You had friends and relatives who all loved you, myself included. And you had Jag. You stumbled and fell and because of their strength you fought for your own salvation. You fought to be the person you knew you could be. You struggled to be strong and beat the odds - you're stronger now than you ever were before. Most people crumble under pressure, but oh no." His laughter was an echo of her own and held little joy. "Not Jaina Solo; does she crumble? Never. Does she need help - what's that? Turn to a friend - why bother? She's the woman who can do it all!"
Jaina's balled fist caught him square in the chest but he didn't so much as flinch, let alone budge. "You lie."
"Do I?" His hand came up to wrap around hers where it was still planted firmly against his heart. He gripped it tightly, not afraid of hurting her - she'd break free before he could. "Do I really, Jaina? You're the sword, remember, the woman who's tempered steel."
"And you've been beside me the whole time, so if I'm the sword, what does that make you?"
She tugged her hand away violently. "You're not nothing!"
"I'm worse than nothing, Jaina. I'm a parasite, a leech; a creature who is sustained by feeding off those around me - you."
"I won't defend you." She returned hotly. "But I don't see what this has to do with salvation - yours or otherwise."
Zekk's hands closed on her shoulders, gripping her tightly as they were brought suddenly nose to nose, Jaina fighting for balance as he jerked her to her tip-toes.
"I've wandered without you, and I've wandered with you. I've struggled against the darkness inside me, the one that's always clawing at the surface, begging for release and lost. I fell, hard, and you picked me up. I stumbled and you caught me. I stay because you accepted those flaws and failings as a part of who I am. Apart from you, I fear for my soul, I fear for my continued existence. The darkness is too powerful, it claws at me even now, demanding I give it free reign, but I can't. Because of you."
"Then give it free reign, join Jacen, at least he'd appreciate your skills!"
"And fight against you?" She stumbled as he let her go abruptly, turning his back on her and shoving his hands into his hair in frustration. "You remember how that went the last time it happened."
"You never could hurt me."
"Just as I could never fight against you for long. I belong to you, Jaina. That simple act of kindness that started our friendship - your concern for an overconfident, scruffy and jaded street kid - brought us to here and now." He turned to meet her gaze. "It's your own fault you can't get rid of me."
"Anyone else could have saved you Zekk - I was just in the right place at the right time."
He took a step towards her. "Do you really believe that?"
"Then I'll make you a deal."
Her expression turned wary. "What kind of deal?"
"One you'll like." His smile lacked warmth and didn't reach his eyes. "The best kind - it'll rid you of me forever. That's what you want isn't it?"
She nodded, but didn't speak, knowing she could never voice that particular lie. She didn't want him gone for good - just out of her shadow.
"Alright then," Zekk took a step towards her, his movements like that of a large feline stalking its prey. "The deal is this. You name one other person, a single other soul who was alive at the time, that you truly believe could have saved me and why, and I walk away from here. I walk through that door and out of your life for good."
Jaina stared at him dumbfounded, her anger and frustration draining away as shock reverberated through her system. His deal was no deal at all!
Zekk took another step towards her, his voice dangerously calm. "Come on, Jaina. You said you believed it, so give me a name. One name and I'm gone. I don't darken your doorstep again. I don't wake you with strange visions tied through our subconscious link. I don't stand between you and Fel and renewing the relationship you think you want. Surely you can think of someone."
His smile was feral. "Peckhum was a nice old man, but he never had the hold on me you did. I'd have cut him down without a second thought - and spent the rest of my life regretting it. Try again."
Jaina took an involuntary step backwards, unprepared for this side of him despite having shared his mind. "Jacen."
"Your brother was like a brother to me, it's true, but I'd have killed him in a heartbeat. You knew it then, and you know it now. It's what made you step in to fight me yourself. That's two down. " His eyes gleamed dangerously as he stalked ever closer. "Anyone else, princess?"
He had her and he knew that she knew it. "No, damn you, there's no one else! No one else cared about what happened to you like I did. No one else dared take the chance that they might have touched your jaded core even a little. No one believed you had any good left in you at all."
"No one but you." Zekk closed the distance between them, pinning her with a look as much as corralling her with his physical presence. "No one believed I was worth anything. No one but you. No one believe I was capable of fighting the darkness, of becoming something I wasn't. No one but you." His head dipped so he could look into her shining eyes and a faint smile tugged at his lips even as he was unable to resist the need to gently stroke her cheek with the backs of his fingers. "No one believed in my capacity to love another being; no one-"
"-but me." Jaina's words were whispered, shocked that he had the insight he did.
"So you see, Jaina, it's not about you. It's about me. It's about needing to be with someone who's seen me at my worst and not been driven away. It's about needing to be somewhere with someone who knows my strengths and how to best use them while bolstering my weaknesses with complementary skills. It's about needing to feel like I belong. Like I'm somewhere where I'm accepted unconditionally - faults and all. It's about my need to be with someone I love, regardless of how they feel about me."
"I didn't know."
His lips twitched, his anger drained and spent, as his fingers dropped from her face and he stepped away. "And now you get me. Good night Jaina."
Author's Note: Whee! Couldn't resist. :D