Title: Goodbye Brown Eyes
Timeframe: During Shards of Alderaan
Summary: "Normal" is a relative term.
Notes: Title taken from--and vignette inspired by--Avril Lavigne's song Goodbye. (Don't judge! It's a pretty song!)
Goodbye Brown Eyes
“There’s no way I can talk you out of this, is there?” Jaina leaned against the stone framework of the doorway and watched Zekk, sitting on the edge of his small cot, carefully fold a flightsuit and place it in the travel bag at his feet. He looked up at her, his green eyes still so sad, so heavy, and shook his head without saying a word.
Jaina walked the length of the small room, her back turned to Zekk, and leaned against the windowsill. Yavin hovered on the horizon, a warm orange light much brighter than a moon.
“You know, you can stay if you want to.” She felt she had to say it one more time, just in case, and it was easier to say it when she couldn’t see his face, couldn’t read his objection before he spoke it. “I don’t care what you did--” Even though last night she dreamed his eyes were red, his lightsaber at her neck, the blade ready to carve destruction in her skin. “--and neither does anyone else.”
He still didn’t speak, so Jaina turned to watch him. She found herself studying the way his shoulder blades shifted underneath his close-fitting sleep tunic, the way his strong shoulders narrowed to a slim waist. She crossed the floor to his cot and slid herself onto the fresh sheets, rose to her knees behind him so she could comb her fingers through his loose, long hair. Just touching him made her face heat up, her heart race--
Funny how being so close to him could provoke the same response whether he was threatening her or letting her braid his black hair behind him.
Zekk stilled. “Jaina--” He pulled away from her and shifted his body so they were face to face. Jaina couldn’t read his expression; it hovered somewhere between wistful and confused, with a deeper cast she recognized as something bordering on lust. “I can’t be here. Not now. Not with you.” He took her hand, kissed her knuckles, closed his eyes. “I would do anything to take back what I’ve done. To you, to your family.”
Jaina swallowed the lump in her throat. “There’s nothing to take back. I’ve--we’ve--already forgiven you.” She found herself fascinated by the way his chapped lips moved back and forth over her hand, warm and rough, and wished there wasn’t a small part of her still frightened by the darkness she had seen in his eyes weeks ago.
Zekk opened his eyes. “Do you ever wonder,” he whispered, his breath warm on her hand, “what it would be like to be normal?”
“Like all the perfectly-groomed little clones at the private academies on Coruscant?” Jaina tried to scoff. “Why would we want that?”
Zekk shrugged and released her hand. “You’d be sitting by my side in a holovid chamber, not waiting for me to come out of a coma so the doctors could assess the psych damage.” He looked out the window. “We’d go to restaurants or something. I don’t know. I don’t know how real people do things.”
“Real people?” Jaina forced a smile. “Pretty sure you’re not a figment of my imagination.”
Zekk nudged her shoulder playfully. “You know what I mean.”
Jaina thought about it. Sure, maybe she’d like to take him out to Pointcross Academy’s sprawling landing docks and learn whatever those kids taught each other in the backs of their parents’ expensive speeders. It had occurred to her before that, yes, it would be much easier to worry about doing her hair and painting her face with exotic makeups and figuring out what foods wouldn’t get stuck in her teeth at a fancy restaurant than it was to face the fact that Zekk had almost--almost--killed her.
“That’s not us,” Jaina said, hoping she didn’t sound as sad as she felt.
“It can’t be.”
Jaina sighed. “But that’s okay. I like who we are now.” She lay back on the bed, her head on the single pillow, and crossed her arms over her chest. “I’m staying here tonight.”
Zekk’s lips twitched in a small smile and he lay down beside her. “Oh you are?”
Jaina smiled back at him and settled in against the sheets. The humid summer air warmed her like a blanket, and she kicked her boots off onto the floor. Zekk was close enough that his scent, warm and clean and musky, kicked her heart up into an aching flurry. She took a deep breath, wanting this for her dreams, wanting this rather than memories of his haunted face or the days spent at his bedside, wondering if she would ever see his green eyes open again.
Zekk slid one arm under her, one arm over her, and pulled her close in a hug. He rested his chin on the top of her head, and she brought one hand up to play with the unraveling braid that hung over his shoulder.
“I think we’re stronger than they are,” Jaina finally whispered. “Stronger than all of those real people.”
“We’ve been through too much to ever go back,” Jaina explained, “but that’s only made us”--love --“care for each other more.” She was too young to use words like love, even if that was the only descriptor her mind could think to offer up.
Zekk tightened his arms around her. “You’re a strange girl, Jaina Solo.”
Jaina nodded against his chest. “I know.”
“And even if I go away for awhile--even if I don’t come back for weeks, or months …” Zekk sighed. “It’s not because I don’t care for”--love -- “you.”
“It’s because we aren’t ready.” Jaina felt tears start to pool in her eyes and blinked them away. “That’s okay. Someday the time will be right.”
Zekk seemed to relax. “Someday,” he agreed. “And I’ll still be here for you, even if that someday doesn’t come around until forever.”
Jaina smiled slowly, a lopsided twist of her mouth. She pulled away and tilted her head up to look him in the eyes. “I don’t think you’ll have to wait that long.”
They fell asleep to the sounds of the jungle beyond the window, wrapped up in a present and a future and a promise.
- Goodbye Brown Eyes [J/Z vignette]