We get some lovely Zayne-tushy in this one. Fair warning 😛
Zayne’s eyes slowly fluttered open, staring up at the cracked white ceiling above his head. He lay there in silence for several long moments, fighting through the dense fog that seemed to cloud his mind. Last night still felt like such a blur — it was hard to figure out what parts had been real, and what was a dream.
At last, he slowly pulled himself upright, swinging his legs over the side of the bed with a heavy sigh. Behind him, he heard the soft rustling of someone adjusting the covers and shifting in their sleep. In that moment, Zayne became keenly aware of three things.
First, his head was pounding terribly.
Second, he was completely naked.
And third, for the first time in over a year, he had woken up beside the most beautiful woman in the entire world.
He stood there for a few moments, watching the gentle rise and fall of Hope’s breaths as she slept. Memories from the night before seemed to come rushing back to him as he watched her — every sound, every smell, every taste…
Zayne shook himself mentally, fighting back his arousal as he headed toward the bathroom. Not now, he told himself. Right now, what he needed to do was think.
But not about what he wanted to.
The heat from the shower helped to relax his muscles and soothe his hangover headache a bit… But did little to help clear the muddled and uncertain thoughts that seemed to clutter his brain.
Last night had given him so much to think about… He almost didn’t even know where to begin. It was overwhelming.
When Zayne finally emerged from the bathroom to get dressed, he found Hope still fast asleep. A small, smug part of himself wanted to think he was the sole reason for her exhaustion… But the more likely answer was that it was the lingering effects of her jetlag and busy schedule catching up with her.
Zayne still remembered when she’d sleep half the day away after she returned from one of her trips abroad. He’d let her sleep as long as she needed to, then surprise her with one of her favorite meals when she awoke. Hope never ceased to amaze him with how hard she worked… And now, with the way her career had been going, she was working even harder than ever before.
As he headed out to the kitchen to start breakfast, Zayne glanced over by the couch, where their piles of clothes still lay on the floor from the night before. They didn’t even make it to the bedroom… Not the first time, anyway. The moment Hope pressed her lips against his, something had taken over. It was electric. And it had felt so perfect, so right…
Shit. We’ve gotta talk about this.
As though on cue, the sound of the opening bedroom door reached his ears. Hope stepped out with a soft smile on her face, looking as beautiful as ever — even wearing nothing but one of his old t-shirts. The sight sent a strange mixture of desire and sadness rushing through him.
“Hey.” She spoke at last, her smile widening a bit.
“Hey.” Zayne shut off the stove as he spoke, though he hadn’t even finished one batch of french toast. Breakfast could wait. “Sorry… I probably should have brought you your clothes.”
“It’s fine… It was kinda fun digging through your closet to find something to wear.” She teased, taking a seat at the counter. “I remember this shirt… I got it for you for Christmas, right?”
He nodded, laughing softly to himself. “Yup… Even though I’d never played Overwatch in my life.”
Hope’s bright, beautiful laughter quickly joined his. “In my defense, you play so many damn games that it’s hard to keep track… But I tried.”
“I know.” Zayne replied seriously as he took a seat beside her. “And that’s why I loved it anyway… And didn’t have the heart to tell you.” He added with a small smile. “It was pretty hysterical when Dom finally spilled the beans though. The look on your face was priceless!”
“I know… You reminded me about it for weeks!” She paused for a moment as her smile slowly vanished from her face. “God, I miss those days.” Hope admitted, her voice very small.
She hesitated before speaking again. “Well… Maybe it’s not too late to get them back again? I mean, after last night…”
Zayne sighed softly. “I know. We’ve… we’ve really gotta talk about that.”
Hope nodded. “Yeah, we do.”
Neither of them said a word for a long time after that. Zayne was still struggling to find where to begin. Why does this have to be so HARD?
Thankfully, it was Hope who ended up breaking the silence at last. “I know we both had a little too much to drink last night… So maybe we weren’t completely thinking things through.” She shrugged. “But I don’t think it was a mistake. I think we really needed that.”
“We did.” He agreed. “I don’t regret it either, I just…” It seemed impossible to find the right words. “I dunno.”
“Look, I need to be honest with you. I wanted to move on after I left, but the truth is, I couldn’t…” Hope admitted. “I still love you, Zayne.” Despite everything, he felt his heart skip a beat at her words. “I never stopped. And you didn’t either, did you?”
He shook his head. “Never.”
“And you said it yourself last night… You’ve changed. And so have I.” Her lips curled into a slight smile. “We’re both in a better place than we used to be. And, well…” Hope paused for a moment. “Maybe we should try again?”
Zayne took a deep breath. He’d been agonizing about what to do ever since he’d woken up that morning… But everything seemed so clear now. And her question was so much easier to answer than he’d thought it would be.
“No, we shouldn’t.” He said at last. “We can’t.”
As he’d feared, her face fell instantly at his words. “B-but why not?” Hope seemed to be struggling to find her voice. “Last night…”
“Was amazing.” Zayne finished for her. “It really was. But we can’t just jump back into this… One night of hot sex isn’t enough to fix everything, no matter how much we want it to. That was part of our problem in the first place, remember?”
“I do…” Hope replied softly.
“I’d love to be with you again. More than anything… ” Zayne’s voice was pained. “But I just don’t think we can do this right now.”
“Okay, you’re right. We shouldn’t just jump back in and expect everything to go back to the way it used to be…” She agreed. “But why can’t we try taking it slow?”
“With you back in San Myshuno?” He shook his head. “We tried that whole long distance thing before… And it sucked ass.” The corner of his mouth twitched into a smile.
“Okay, it did.” For a moment, Hope almost laughed. “And… I guess moving wouldn’t be a great idea for either one of us right now.” She admitted. “Unless you’re looking to open that new restaurant in San Myshuno?” It was impossible to tell whether or not she was joking.
“Tempting.” Zayne was only half-joking himself. “But… Here in Windenburg is where it’s gonna happen for me. I can feel it.” He paused. “And I’d never stand a chance starting a business in the big city anyway… You know how cutthroat things can be out there.”
This time, Hope actually let out a small laugh. “True. It’s pretty brutal, I guess.”
“And honestly, I feel like I’ve still got a lot of work to do on myself before I’m ready to be with anybody… Especially you. I don’t think I’m ‘there’ yet, y’know? If we got back together, I’d want to do things right this time. I don’t want to make the same mistakes and end up hurting you again.”
He paused, waiting for Hope to reply. But she didn’t, so he continued. “We’d have a lot of shit to figure out if we really wanted to try to make this work again. Mostly me.” He admitted. “But we’d need to be able to work together and give one hundred percent, know what I mean?”
At last, she nodded. “And I guess neither one of us would be able to do that… Not right now, at least. We’ve got too much other shit going going on…” Hope shook her head slowly. “I guess maybe this really isn’t a good idea, huh?”
The sound of their laughter quickly filled the air and echoed around the tiny apartment. The past twelve hours had been such a rollercoaster of emotion for both of them… And yet somehow, they’d ended up exactly back where they’d begun. What else could they do now but laugh?
As painful as it had been, Zayne knew they were making the right decision. He’d been so sure he wanted to get back together with Hope — and part of him still did. But not now, he’d realized. And not like this. They simply weren’t ready to be together again, no matter how much they wanted it. Especially not him. And as long as he kept clinging to the past, he never would be.
It was strange how suddenly the realization had hit him… Hope had him trapped in a strange sort of paradox — If Zayne ever wanted to be with her again someday, he needed to learn to let her go first.
At last, their laughter slowly died away and the air between them was tense and still once more. But not for long.
“Just so we’re clear,” Zayne began uncertainly, “I really don’t regret last night. And I still love you… I think I always will.” He shrugged slightly. “And someday, if it is the right time, I’m all for giving this thing another chance. Actually… I’d really, really love for that to happen.”
“Me too.” Hope agreed. “And maybe it will… Remember what happened the first time we met, back when we were kids? The timing wasn’t right then either… And look at where we ended up.” She smiled warmly at him. “The universe brought us back together for a while. Maybe it’ll do it again.”
“Maybe.” Zayne returned her smile. “But… in case it doesn’t… I think we need to stop waiting for each other. ” His smile faltered slightly for a moment. It was so hard to say it, but Zayne knew he had to. “All it’s gonna do is hold us back. We shouldn’t be afraid to see other people.”
She sighed softly in resignation. “You’re right. If it’s really meant to be, then it’ll work out someday. And if it’s not…”
“Gotta have a backup plan, right?” Zayne teased, trying to lighten the mood. “Can’t have you turning into a crazy old cat lady.”
“Ugh, cats? Are you kidding?!” Hope giggled, shaking her head. “Maybe a crazy dog lady though…”
“Mmm, or what about guinea pigs? Those are kinda cute, right?”
“So… what does this mean for us?” Hope asked uncertainly after their laughter had died away once more. “Where does this leave us now?”
Zayne shrugged. “I dunno.” He admitted. “But… maybe in a better place than we were before?”
She smiled softly. “I think you’re right.”
It feels like I have so many songs for this ship… And here is yet another that I think fits them today ❤