Disclaimer: Once again, I own nothing. No money is being made off this story. Please do not sue me.
Author's Note: In some ways this is a continuation of The Avoidance Methodology, but whereas that was a character study, this is more of a fix-it type of story. So, in other ways this is something completely different, and thus, not a true sequel. So while, it does closely follow the other story, I prefer to have them separate.
The Confrontation Experimentation
Summary: Jo could make Zane talk to her. Sequel to The Avoidance Methodology.
Spoilers through: 5x05—Jack of All Trades
Jo went home with Zane that night, partly just to prove something to him. That was not healthy. Of course, the other part was that she simply wanted to be with Zane regardless of Carter's relationship status.
After they were done, after she proved everything she could for one night, she slipped into his t-shirt. He pulled her down from behind, holding onto her so tightly. He wasn't hurting her, but it was uncomfortable, and it made it difficult for her to fall asleep. Eventually, she pulled at the arm around her midsection until it was just draped over her stomach rather than choking the life out of her.
"Something wrong?" Zane asked.
"You mean like do I wish I was in bed with Carter?" She knew that was the wrong thing to say; she just could not help herself. Her frustrations were bubbling over.
She felt Zane tense up behind her. "We could start with that," he said in a good-natured tone.
"No, I don't." Maybe if she said it enough times, that would finally sink in. She told herself repeatedly to just let it go, that she did not want a fight. Somehow, her mouth was not listening to her brain. "And can I just remind you that I had to watch you go on a date with Zoe?"
There might have been a second one after Zane was released from prison; Jo was not really sure. Those weren't the distinctions that mattered. "In real life. With someone who's like a sister to me."
"Or like a stepdaughter?" he asked innocently.
See, there it was. She told him he had to stop that, and he didn't stop. He couldn't stop. Where did that leave them? She knew that she started it this time; she put him on the defensive. But if those feelings were still there, maybe it was better to talk it out. Talking to Carter did not help, but if she could not even talk to Zane, that was a much more immediate problem. And unlike Carter, she could make Zane talk to her.
Zane had some kind of epiphany. "Oh, I should've looked up Zoe in the Matrix. If Carter was going to be screwing my girlfriend, I could have at least screwed his daughter."
Now he was thinking about having sex with another woman; did she get to be angry about that? Jo decided yes. "That's horrible." She rolled onto her back. "Would you really do that to her just to get revenge on me and Carter?"
He shrugged. "It wouldn't have been real."
It would have felt real, and he'd still remember doing it. Jo considered whether he might have a point, but no. Unlike Matrix-Jo, Matrix-Zane was real. His choices would be his own. Getting into that would be a digression. The take home message here was that Zane did not have sex with Zoe in the matrix, and Jo was willing to leave it at that. It did make her wonder about the choices he had made in the matrix though. "How hard did you fight for me?"
She did not immediately recognize the deflection in his tone. "When you found out I was with Carter, how hard—" She saw the look on his face. "You didn't even fight for me?" she asked raising her volume slightly.
Zane winced. "You said you loved him. And we weren't even really together when I left. I just figured . . ." He ran his hand over the stubble on his chin. "You and Carter weren't just dating; you were a family with Allison's kids. What chance did I have of . . . I did think that maybe Allison would break you two up, and then we might have a shot again. But I didn't want you like that, crawling back to me because Carter dumped you. You didn't choose me when I got back; that was all I needed to know."
There might have been some valid points in what he said, but she ignored them. She liked that Zane was having to explain himself for once. And there were some not so valid points in there too. "So you decided that your pride was more important than being with me? You didn't even try to remind me of the reasons why I was with you and not Carter in the first place?"
"What are the reasons?"
Just like that, he turned it around on her again. She did not know how to answer that. It wasn't that there weren't reasons; it was just that they were intangible, indescribable things. Saying because you're you and he's Carter wouldn't be enough of a reason. "Well, it has only a little bit to do with your abs," she joked.
He wasn't going to let her play it off. "Seriously, Jo. Why?"
He needed an answer, and there was only one that would do. "Because I love you," she said in a defeated tone. "Old, new, any timeline. I see you, and my heart starts racing, and my palms start sweating, and all I want is you." What he had just told her about the matrix was still bothering her. She threw off the covers and rolled out of the bed. "And you didn't even try to get me back."
Zane sat up in the bed. "What about you? In this—in your new timeline, with your heart racing and your palms sweating, you didn't try."
She turned around to face him, crossing her arms. "That was different. There were protocols and . . . It was complicated."
Even though nothing she said was open to dispute, he shook his head in disagreement. "You didn't have to tell me anything about time travel to make this happen."
That might have been true. In the end, it had been pretty easy. Once he realized it was a possibility, Zane had been very eager to make"this" happen. "But I didn't know that then. I thought you hated me. But you—you knew how I felt about you."
"Really?" He laughed derisively. "I knew that you couldn't promise you'd wait for me. I knew that you withdrew—" He cut himself off. "Here's what I knew, you should have been there. I don't care if it's selfish, you should have lost four years of your life too. And then none of it would have happened."
None of it did happen. And of course, he would find a way to make this her fault. "You mean I wouldn't have saved your sorry ass?"
"I'm sure your team was more than capable."
He had an answer for everything, so she posed her problem to him. "You're mad at me for something that never happened. How am I supposed to fix that?"
Zane rolled his eyes. "Just come back to bed."
That wasn't a solution. "No, no, I've tried that. It's not working."
He sighed, shrugging, not taking responsibility for the mayhem he was causing in her life. "I just need some time to deal with this."
Was he really pulling that on her now? "Well, too bad," she said, throwing his own words back at him. "You either decide whether you want to be with me right now, or we stop. Because I can't do this anymore." She gestured back and forth between them.
He stared at her, watching her pace. Finally, he said, "Come to bed."
That was not a decision, but it was the middle of the night and Jo was tired of fighting. She sat down on the side of the bed, as Zane scooted back into a reclined position. Jo just wanted them to be okay again, and it made her sad to think that may not happen because of circumstances she couldn't control. She laid her head on his chest.
He pushed her hair away from her face. "So you really love me?"
The need to answer an earlier question had forced her to use the L-word before she was strictly comfortable with it, but she would not have said it if she didn't mean it. Since it had gone unanswered, she softened the sentiment. "Maybe."
He laughed at that, which was probably a really good sign. "I know what you said about it only happening if I was out of the picture. But don't I get to be a little freaked out for a little bit longer?"
Jo was not the one being unreasonable here. "You don't get to punish me."
He thought about that, his fingers playing idly with her hair. "Okay, well, maybe the reason I'm acting like this is that maybe I love you too."
She assumed that his maybe contained a lot more uncertainty than hers had, but it definitely meant something that he was willing to talk about it in maybes. Even though she was winning at the moment, she decided to bring up one last point of contention. "So this morning, did you see Allison naked?"
"No. Damn near though." He did not sound the least bit contrite. "She looks good, really good. Why? Are you jealous?"
This was delicate, but she had a point to make. "I didn't get to see Carter naked."
He did not freak out, another really good sign. "Trust me, you don't want to."
This time Jo laughed, not so much because it was funny but because, contrary to her previous thoughts, maybe they really were getting to the other side of this mess. She lifted her head to look him in the eye. "You're right; I don't."
It was too early to know if things were really going to get better for her and Zane. Only time would tell that. And it definitely was not going to fix all the weirdness with Carter and Allison. But for tonight, Jo was happy with the progress she had made.
Continued in "The Prognostication Analysis"
Author's Note: If I had to play favorites, I like The Avoidance Methodology much better than this one. So it's okay if you, the reader, do too. One of the reasons I severed them is because this is better alone than it is when you compare it to the other one.