Disclaimer: Star Wars belongs to Disney and is the intellectual property of George Lucas; he created the sandbox. I'm simply destroying the sandcastles.


Title: The Fool II

Author: Jade_Max

Timeframe: 6 years post "The Joiner Trilogy" - Major AU

Genre: Angst

Characters: Zekk, Jaina Solo

Summary: One sided love is not enough...


The Fool II

Two toned emerald green eye stared into the blue liquid as it swirled around in the glass, drowning him in the color as much as the heady feel of the liquor running through his system unchecked. The shade reminding him of his wife's eyes; sparkling, shining and completely open with love and laughter - until he'd killed it.

His lips tightened, and he knocked back the rest of the drink, as much to banish the memory as to rid himself of the reminder.

Wife.

Right.

Ex-wife was more accurate.

Reaching for the decanter that sat on his desk, he paused before pouring himself more of the same liquid, seriously debating throwing it across the room. Instead he pushed to his feet and headed for the liquor dispenser. One of the perks of having married someone incredibly successful and wealthy was that just about anything was on tap and he wasn't restricted to a liquid that reminded him of her.

It was a shame it'd be all gone come morning.

Or rather, he would be.

It was part of their mutually beneficial agreement; he would give her back her life and her freedom, and he would get some kind of credit compensation. It was the agreement they'd come to almost a year to the day today; a year to the day after she'd confronted him on his feelings for a certain Jedi he'd once been linked to as closely as she wore her comm. implants. A year to the day after Zira had left him because she refused to be 'the replacement' any longer; a year to the day he'd been forced to take a look at himself and realize he didn't much like what he saw.

Especially not when the whole divorce had taken less time to negotiate than their wedding plans.

Keep it up and you'll kill yourself.

The thought intruded without warning as amber liquid splashed into his glass - a rare Corellian Brandy - and his hand shook, splashing his fingers.

Jaina?

Are you drunk?

He must be; she couldn't communicate with him this way unless he consciously allowed her; and when he was drunk, that permission seemed to be given automatically. It was a testament to his willpower that he could count on one hand just how many times he'd been drunk enough for her to intrude without his permission.

Normally it was a signal that he'd had enough.

Tonight, he didn't care. Not drunk enough, he replied silently, tossing back the amber liquid with a gulp before filling the glass again. Why do you ask?

I just saw the holo-news.

He wished he couldn't picture her; Jaina was likely sitting in her posh apartment, lounging on her sofa with her head back against it, her brown hair spilling across the back, her eyes closed as she 'spoke' with him; it was a pose he remembered well from her own memories. Memories he'd once shared as intimately as the closest of lovers. He shied away from the thought, instead focusing on her statement.

She'd just seen the holo-news... what would a segment of that trash-spewing filth be- ah.

Right.

The reason he was drinking.

Are you okay?

He laughed, unable to help himself, the dark sound resounding through the room to mock him. Okay? He hadn't been okay since before his divorce; before his disastrous marriage; since before the whole Joiner fiasco. Hell, if he was honest with himself, he hadn't been 'okay' since before learning he had the same abilities to use the Force as the Solos; or even better, since before his parents had died on Ennth.

Chalk it up to another disappointment in a long line of disappointments he could claim personal responsibility for.

Should I be?

Jaina was suspiciously silent for long moments as he sipped on his refilled glass, leaning against the wall by the dispenser.

You did agree to the divorce; wouldn't that mean you should be happy she found someone else?

Happy.

His lips twisted.

If he'd only realized then what he'd come to understand too late - what he'd come to understand now - as the rare gift he'd willingly surrendered, this whole mess wouldn't be happening.

No offense, Jaina, but don't you have someone else you should be messing with?

No; you need me.

Since when do you care?

Even as he thought the hurtful words, he knew the answer; she always had. Jaina simply hadn't cared about him 'that way' no matter his feelings for her. Kind of like his feelings for his wife; Zira had always wanted the wedding more than he had - he'd simply gone along with it, thinking the attractions she'd confessed to him would eventually bloom into the love he saw in her eyes for him. Instead, he watched that love smother and fade - and it was his fault.

All of it; marrying her hadn't been his brightest idea.

Jaina didn't respond and Zekk hoped he'd pushed her away, consciously concentrating on blocking her out even as he hoped it, while secretly hoping he wouldn't be able to. Jaina had a talent for bluntness he'd never mastered and a quick smack upside the head might just be what he deserved right now - at the very least. Still, when she didn't respond, he couldn't help but feel like a jerk.

What right did he have to feel hurt that Zira had found someone to worship the ground she walked on when he couldn't? What right did he have to feel anything but grateful she was finally with someone who loved her the way she deserved?

None.

Not that it had stopped him from getting ripped.

Suddenly disgusted with his hypocrisy, Zekk placed his glass on the edge of the dispenser and straightened. The world wove and dipped around him and he braced his hands on the wall to help it stop spinning. Closing his eyes, he focused. The Force slipped into his unstable grasp with such force he gritted his teeth as sweat popped out on his forehead. Discipline from having done this many times was second nature, and he quickly counteracted the alcohol in his blood stream.

Usually he did it as he was sipping lethal levels of alcohol - this time he hadn't cared.

Clear headed, he opened his eyes, feeling the sweet, sticky after taste of the expensive and not so expensive liquers he'd consumed coating his mouth. Pushing away from the wall, he quickly scanned the office that had been his the last five years before turning on his heel to leave.

The pain followed quickly - a pain of loss he'd never really shed - but this time, instead of wallowing in it, he forced himself to confront it; as Jaina had needed to upon Anakin's death; upon Jag's death; upon Jacen's death. She'd mourned for brothers and a lover - Zekk mourned for himself. For not seeing what he'd had until it was too late; for not realizing what he'd lost until someone else had shown her what was missing.

Zira deserved better and she'd found better; he had no right to begrudge her that.

A quick sweep through the house and a stop in the bedroom, that had stopped being 'theirs' a long time ago, had him packing a single bag, his own credit chit, toiletries and the bare minimum of what was actually his. His lightsaber had been on the bedside table and clipped to his belt almost before he'd given it any thought. His bag over one shoulder, he took the time to pen a short note on a nearby flimsi before heading to the main door. There, on the board Zira had always used to leave him notes, he placed one for her. Right next to the 2D holo of Zira and her new husband; a not-so-subtle reminder of her newfound happiness; a happiness that no longer included him.

Gently, regretfully, he traced her smiling face, remembering when she'd once smiled that way at him - and what a fool he'd been to see it only in hindsight. Leaning forward, he pressed a kiss to the hologram as best he could. A sad smile accompanied it; the holo was exactly like she was now to him - insubstantial. Exhaling, he let his regrets go in that breath and pushed back from the board.

His path was set, his course diverting away from her and it would be better for both of them. Without another word or look around he palmed open the door - and stopped.

Jaina Solo, leaning against the side of her speeder with both arms and legs crossed, waited for him with that roguish grin he'd never been able to forget - and wouldn't forget if he lived to be a thousand. She pushed away as he stepped through the portal, his fingers tightening on the handles of his bag.

A slow, deliberate perusal of him and then the residence behind him, made her cock an eyebrow. "Pretty far from the vents you used to crawl through."

"And the fountains we used to play in," before the door closed behind him, Zekk pulled his access pass from his pocket and tossed it inside without looking. He was confident it would land where he wanted it to. "What brings you by?"

A not so subtle reminder she'd never been here before - and that he'd been snapping at her.

Jaina pushed off the side of the speeder, motioning towards his bag. "Seems like you could use a lift."

"Even after-"

"Of course," her smile faded some, her brown eyes turning serious. "I know you, remember? No matter what you say, I know it's not directed at me."

"Are you going my way?"

"To hell in a hand-basket?" One dimple flashed in her cheek. "Probably."

He cracked an unexpected smile; Jaina Solo had always been able to lift one of his bad moods - even when she'd caused them. "Can you give me a lift?"

"Depends."

"On?"

"Is this a one way trip?"

"Why, you thinking about saving me if it's not?"

Her smile softened and he could see the way she was thrown back in time to an easier time with his hard-won tease. Her words though, were anything but a tease, her tone having turned deadly serious. "It's my turn, isn't it?"

Without a backwards glance, Zekk headed for Jaina's speeder and whatever future awaited him beyond this chapter in his life. Closing the door was like closing the book; the story was over without the fairytale ending he'd expected for himself and it was time to move on.

The note behind him would wait for her the way Zira had once waited for him - and expressed all his regrets and hopes for her.

Be happy Zira; it's all I ever wanted for you - Zekk

fin


Author's Note: Couldn't resist; I re-read "The Fool" the other day and this jumped at me - and Zekk deserved it :รพ Rabid plot bunnies...