It was official. The photocopier had a personal vendetta against Zeb.
As soon as he came within five metres of the pile of junk it would usually decide to flash that it was out of ink even though it wasn't or chew out his copies as though someone's pet dog had been let loose on them.
Today however it had just decided to stop working all together, despite the little green light clearly stating that it was on. Zeb had tried everything from turning it on and off again to furiously screaming at it but nothing seemed to do anything. Usually at this point he'd go and find Hera since for some reason it always worked for her but she was out on a lunch date with Kanan that they were quick to claim was not an actual 'date' just an outing between friends. Zeb had to call krayt spit on that.
He turned around to see their new intern Ezra standing nervously in the doorway. Ezra had started working here after Kanan had convinced (blackmailed) him into helping out at the firm for a few weeks after the kid had stolen his wallet on the promise that he wouldn't tell the police. Somehow this had ended up with the kid renting space on Zeb's couch.
"What?" He growled.
"There's a client here to see you."
"Get Sabine to deal with them!" He said aiming a kick at the pile of scrap metal.
"I would but they specifically asked for you."
Zeb stopped in shock just before his leg hit the photocopier. It wasn't unheard of for clients to request specific lawyers but when they did it was usually for Hera or Kanan since they were the most well-known out of all of them at the firm. He hadn't had anyone request him specially before.
"Fine." Zeb sighed. His photocopying would just have to wait. As he left he swore he heard the machine beep a laugh.
The Ghost was only a small firm so they only had to walk two doors down from the photocopying/kitchenette/place to crash room to get to Zeb's office. When he opened the door he was surprised at the man sitting in front of his desk
He was strikingly different from their usual clients. Most people who came to their firm were those on the poorer side since The Ghosts speciality was protecting people who had been wronged by more powerful corporations. However it was clear that whoever this man was he had money. He had immaculately slicked back blonde hair and wore an entirely black slim suit that probably cost more than Zeb made in a year.
He was also incredibly handsome.
Zeb shook that thought from his head as he walked over to his desk. The first rule of being a lawyer was never to get involved with your clients.
"What can I do for ya err...?" Zeb asked leaning back in his chair.
"Alexsandr Kallus." The man said whilst reaching into his briefcase before dumping a stack of papers onto the desk.
"What’s all of this?” Zeb asked as begun to briefly look over the documents. The instantly recognisable logo of The Empire was marked on all of them containing information on everything from embezzlement to bribery of officials.
"This is evidence of every less than legal thing The Empire leave ever done."
Zeb looked up from the documents in shock. He'd tried to sue the Empire unsuccessfully before and knew that trying to find documents like this past their ironclad security was near impossible.
"How did ya get this?" He asked in near disbelief.
He nearly missed the quick flash of shame that crossed Kallus’ eyes before he spoke.
"I work for them."
Whatever answer Zeb had been expecting it hadn't been that. Although his appearance and demeanour definitely now made a lot more sense. That still didn’t explain why he had brought these documents to Zeb though.
Sensing the need to explain himself Kallus leaned forward.
"I've been working for the Empire my entire career. My parents are stockholders with them so I assumed that the company had its customer’s best interests at heart. Or at least I convinced myself that they did." He glanced away in shame for a moment so small Zeb was half convinced he had imagined it before the man looked back at him with blinding conviction. "But I was wrong. Whilst I was working on a project I came across something I wasn't supposed to. At first I thought it was some sort of mistake but then I did some digging and I knew for certain that it wasn't. Then I did even more digging to find that this wasn't the first time the Empire had done something like this."
Zeb leaned back in his chair, looking at the man suspiciously with his large green eyes. Although he believed the man there was still something that didn’t make any sense.
"And did ya ask for me?"
Kallus reached back into his briefcase to pull out an old newspaper clipping. Zeb took it from his outstretched hand, ignoring the way his fingers momentarily brushed against his. His brows rose in surprise at what he saw.
It was a picture of him. A younger, more naive version but still him. He could still remember the day that picture had been taken. He could still remember the feral anger as he along with the rest of the Lasan tribe were dragged forcibly away from their home land. He could still remember the unbridled horror as he watched his ancestral home be bulldozed inform of his eyes.
"Where did you get this?" Zeb asked in disbelief.
Once again a nearly imaginary flash of shame crossed Kallus’ eyes.
“The something that I wasn’t supposed to come across was a copy of a document dating back to the nineteenth century declaring an agreement between the Lasan tribe and the mayor of the time giving them the legal right to their land. During my investigation to whether it was true or not I came across your name as one of the leaders of the protests against the loss of your land. I recognised it as one of the lawyers under the firm of The Ghost when the head of your firm Hera Syndulla won a tenant dispute against one of my colleagues. So I knew that you would have personal interest in the success of this case and would also be less likely to accept a bribe from The Empire.”
Zeb’s mind was frozen in shock. He’d dedicated part of his life to finding that document. His grandmother Chava had always claimed it existed but they never found. With this he could finally restore his people to their homeland.
And apparently that was only the tip of the iceberg. Zeb’s mind lit up as he thought of how all this information could help others who had been wronged by The Empire. But one burning question still weighed on Zeb’s mind.
"What do you want from all of this?" He asked.
"What do I want?" Kallus said in confusion as though the thought that he personally might want something from, The Empire hadn't occurred to him. “I don't want anything. I don't deserve anything. I just want to make sure that justice is given to those who've been wronged."
“And why come to me? Why not go to the police?”
Kallus scoffed. “I want The Empire to pay for their actions, not to get let off by a crooked cop. Also I’ve done my research but I’m no expert on the law. Not like you. You can tell me exactly what evidence I need to find to get them convicted.”
“Wait…” Zeb said, musing over those last few words. “Are ya sayin that ya still work there? No, we need to get ya to a safe house! The Empire is dangerous! If they find out what ya up to-“
“I know!” Kallus interrupted him, startling them both with his outburst. The man leaned back in his seat, for a moment almost coming out of his façade of control. He then let out a sigh. “It doesn’t matter if I’m in danger. I have helped these monsters destroy peoples’ lives. I would be no better than The Empire if I didn’t help them in any way I can.”
Zeb studied the man once again. The selflessness and desire to do good to rectify for his past was mistakes was very intriguing (and also very attractive a small voice at the back of mind added unhelpfully). And if he truly had a way to bring down The Empire then this was an opportunity Zeb couldn’t afford to miss.
“Alright.” Zeb said, his expression of suspicion relaxing into a welcoming grin. “I’ll take the case. As long as ya promise me to leave The Empire if it gets to dangerous.”
For the first time since he’d arrived a reluctant smirk like smile graced Kallus’ lips.
Over the next few weeks Zeb and Kallus managed to make a lot of progress on the case thanks to the staggering number of witnesses to The Empire's tyranny and Kallus' inside help. They met up every few days to exchange information and plan their next move. However they never met in the same place, always at secluded cafes or restaurants with a large number of escape routes at Kallus' suggestion. Zeb thought this was a bit unnecessary but went along with it as it seemed to make Kallus slightly less tense and after all it was better to be safe than sorry. Kallus also kept trying to pay for Zeb’s meals, claiming that they came under expenses but Zeb wouldn’t let him.
Zeb felt like he'd gotten to know Kallus well over those weeks. Like how he had an almost unhealthy obsession with earl grey tea and that he could talk with wit dryer than the Sahara desert. He also learnt how he would puck out his lower lip in an adorable pout and how the corners of his eyes would light up on the rare occasion that he smiled.
Zeb found himself looking forward to those meeting more and more every day, even though he had to constantly remind himself that this was as close to Kallus as he could get without being unprofessional.
About two months after Kallus had first come into his office Zeb was sleeping peacefully in his bed when was woken up by a loud banging sound.
"Kid I swear to the Ashla if you're having a house party!" Zeb shouted before burying his head under the covers.
"It's not me! Someone's at the door." Ezra called from the living room.
Reluctantly he crawled out from the warm covers of his bed and dragged himself to the door.
"Listen whatever you're selling I'm not-"
Zeb cut himself off in shock when he realised that the man standing on his doorstep was none other than Kallus. His arms were wrapped around the ripped fabric of his signature black suit as blood dripped from his spilt lip and angry black eye.
"The Empire...they found out about...they were waiting for me outside my apartment and..." His words were as much of a mess as how he looked. It was startling to see such a contrast to his usual in control demeanour. He must have been really shaken up.
Zeb didn't hesitate to wrap his arms around the man, pulling him close to his chest.
"Hey." Zeb said soothingly, stroking his golden locks. "It's alright. You're safe now. You're safe here."
Somehow he managed to hold him even closer when Kallus melted into his embrace at those words.
"Ezra! Get the med kit!" Zeb called over his shoulder as he continued to stroke his hair. For once in his life the kid actually listened to him without complaint and sprinted off to fetch it.
Reluctantly he removed one of his arms from around Kallus’ shoulders. He then lowered them to the other man’s waist so that he could help to walk him inside. Kallus leaned against him as they walked, his weight positioned heavily on one leg. Eventually they made it to the kitchen where Zeb helped Kallus sit down before opening the med kit that Ezra had placed on the table.
Zeb tried to ignore Ezra’ hovering form as he placed an alcohol soaked cotton pad to Kallus’ eye. He felt a stab of guilt when Kallus failed to hide his wince of pain. They sat there in comfortable silence as Zeb gently attended his injuries and wiped the blood of his face. Kallus had tried to resume his usual emotionless faced but even he couldn’t stop his involuntary shaking.
“Now do ya believe me that it’s too dangerous?” Zeb sighed. “Tomorrow we’ll get ya sorted up with a safe house. No arguments!”
Zeb couldn’t help but let out a small relieved smile as Kallus rolled his eyes.
“And ya staying here tonight. I don’t think ya should be alone right now. Ya still pretty shaken and I want to keep an eyes on them bruises. And if those punks try to hurt ya here then they’ll have to get through me.” Zeb told him rubbing his fists with a protective grin. The grateful smile on Kallus’ face made his heart flutter.
“Err…yeah. Ya can sleep on the-“
"Hey! He is not sleeping on my couch!" The kid interrupted before leaping over the back of the couch so that he was lying across it. "I pay money to sleep on this pile of dead moths so you can't kick me off!"
As much as Zeb wanted to throttle the kid right now he begrudgingly admitted that he was right. He was trying to think of another solution when Ezra spoke up once again.
"He could share your bed." He suggested in a voice that was far too innocent for Zeb's liking. "It's big enough and with his injuries he really should be sleeping somewhere comfortable."
Despite still wanting to throttle him Zeb couldn’t deny that his suggestion made sense. He turned to face Kallus, hoping that his blush was hidden underneath his beard.
"If you don't mind sharing then-"
"No!" Kallus said quickly. "I... I don’t mind."
"Well...I...err I'll just get you some clothes you can change into." Zeb said quickly heading towards his bedroom before things could get even more awkward.
Get a hold of yourself Zeb whispered in his head. They were just two business associates sharing a bed. Nothing strange about that at all. It didn’t matter than the man he was sharing his bed with was handsome and smart and funny and-
Zeb slammed his drawers shut with probably more force than necessary to distract himself from the rabbit hole of thoughts inside his head.
He then headed back to the kitchen where Kallus was waiting.
“Here.” He said, handing him an old pair of pyjamas. “Ya can get changed in the bathroom over there. Then my room is just there.”
Kallus nodded as Zeb pointed them out. The blonde man was just about to head for the bathroom when he stopped and looked deep into Zeb’s wide eyes.
“Zeb…thank you. For everything. I promise I will pay you back for all the medical supplies you had to use and I’ll buy you a new pair of pyjamas and-“
“Hey.” Zeb said placing his large hands on the other man’s equally large shoulders. “Ya don’t have to pay me back for anything’. Don’t worry about it. Now go and get changed.”
Kallus looked like he wanted to argue for a moment but then thought better of it. Zeb watched him as he headed for the bathroom. He ignored whatever looks Ezra was sending him from his couch as he went back into his room. As Kallus got changed he put a wall of pillows down the middle to divide his bed since he didn’t want him to feel uncomfortable. He also hastily tidied up his mess of a room the best he could in a few minutes and sprayed some of the air freshener that Ezra had given him for his birthday.
A few minutes later Kallus came out of the bathroom wearing his old clothes that were slightly too large on him. Zeb did not need to know how good Kallus looked wearing his old pyjama bottoms that hung loosely around his hips or the shirt that’s neck was so low on him that he could see a few curls of blonde chest hair.
Zeb quickly tried to distract himself by plumping up the pillows.
"I usually sleep on right anyway but I can switch if you want."
"It’s fine." Kallus aid quickly. He waited for Zeb to lie down on the bed before lying next to him with his head facing away from him. Zeb wasn’t offended by this. Honestly he was more worried he would face him and he wasn’t sure what he would do if that happened.
Most likely exhausted after everything he’d been through, it didn’t take long for Kallus to fall asleep. Zeb couldn’t help but notice how he’d curled up into a ball and was right on the edge of the bed as though trying to take up as little space as possible. Even sleeping his body was held tightly as if he was still stressed in his dreams.
Now Zeb had more reason to win this case quicker and faster than before. So he could see Kallus relaxed for the first time in his life.
Ezra is best wingman!!! Thank you to everyone who’s stuck around for another chapter of my crazed imagination!!! Xxxxxxxxx
It was the last day of trial. There had been a few setbacks like 'robbers' breaking into Zeb's apartment who just happened to steal some of his evidence as well as his TV and a few witnesses deciding not to come forward after obtaining some unexplained bruises. But Zeb was confident that they'd done enough to put the heads of The Empire away for a long time and to have everyone properly compensated for all the damage they'd done to people's lives.
Zeb tried not to fidget in his chair as they waited for the verdict. He was glad they'd gotten Mon Mothma as a judge. He'd had her before and knew that she wasn't crooked like an unfortunate number of others.
"The jury has decided that The Empire Incorporated-"
Zeb along with the rest of the room held their breath as she lifted her hammer.
"-guilty of all charges and will have to pay an excess of one billion dollars in compensation. Case dismissed."
Cheers erupted from Zeb's side of the courtroom. He could hear Ezra's whoops over the cheering of the crowd. He turned around to face the witness stands but could pick out Kallus amongst all the bodies jumping up and down in celebration.
Once Sheev Palpatine had been cuffed away Zeb headed out of the courtroom to the hallway where he'd planned to meet up with the others.
He turned around to see the smiling face of Kallus rushing towards him.
"We did it!" He said coming to a breathless stop barely inches in front of him. He was dressed in a light cream suit that somehow made him look even more dashing than his old black one and his hair had grown our since they'd met and now hung loose around his ears. He looked more happy and relaxed than Zeb had ever seen him. He wanted to hug him.
So he did.
He wrapped him in his large arms, lifting him off his feet and spinning him around. Kallus didn't seem to mind, clutching his own arms around Zeb's neck. Zeb thought his heart would stop beating as he heard a giggle escape the other man's lips.
Eventually he put him down but the two men didn't release their hold on each other. Kallus' chest was pressed so close to Zeb's that he could feel his elevated heartbeat.
Jumping out each other’s arms at the sudden interruption Zeb turned to see Kanan and the others heading in their direction. Zeb wasn't the only one sending a glare in the blind man's direction who seemed oblivious to what he'd interrupted.
"Kallus, we were planning on heading out for a meal to celebrate. We would love it if you could join us." Hera offered kindly once she'd finished glaring at Kanan.
Kallus looked away shyly. "I would want to impose."
"Nah you wouldn't be imposing.” Zeb insisted, realising that now the case was over this could be the last time he would ever see the other man. He wanted to spend as much time with him as possible. “If it wasn't for we wouldn't have got this case in the first place."
"Alright." Kallus said as though unable to refuse any word from Zeb's mouth.
They headed to Takodana’s bar, a favourite of the workers at The Ghost, especially since they’d helped the owner Maz out with a worker’s dispute once and now she gave them twenty percent off. And the food was pretty good to.
"So what were you thinking doing you know now that your old boss has been arrested and stuff?" Ezra asked through a mouthful of ice cream after they’d eaten their man courses.
Kallus shrugged. "I was thinking of becoming a private detective."
Zeb thought the job suited him. He definitely had a knack for sneaking around and finding out information that others wanted to be kept hidden.
“I need the toilet. If you’ll please excuse me.” Kallus said politely before heading off towards the toilets. Zeb watched him go forlornly.
Ezra didn’t miss his longing looks. The boy leant forwards to cross Zeb’s line of sight with conspiratorial smirk on his face. "Soooooo… Kallus isn't your client anymore."
"Yeah kid I know." Zeb grumbled.
"So that means you don't have to break the number one rule anymore." Ezra explained as though Zeb was the child in the situation.
Zeb’s heart soared for a moment at the kid’s words before it came crashing back down again. "Yeah right like he'd be interested in me."
He was slightly disconcerted when everyone stared at him with identical looks of disbelief.
"Please tell me you’re not really this dense?" Sabine groaned.
"Buddy, even I can see that he's head over heels for you." Kanan said unable to resist smiling at his own blind joke. Everyone else collectively rolled their eyes.
“You guys aren’t having me on are ya?” Zeb asked cautiously.
Hera kindly reached across the table to pat his arm.
“Zeb. He obviously cares very deeply about you. You don’t want to waste the rest of your life wondering what could have been between you if you don’t ask him out now.”
She then leaned back so that her body was pressed against Kanan. As though to emphasise the point the blind man then wrapped him arm around her shoulders before pressing a kiss to her dyed green hair. Ezra pretended to gag as Kallus came to sit back down.
Zeb couldn’t help the large smile that grew on his face as Kallus sat beside him that grew even bigger when Kallus smiled back. This time Zeb elbowed Ezra in the side when he pretended to gag again.
When they finished eating Kallus tried to pay but Hera quickly shot that down. They then started to head their separate ways with Kanan getting into Hera’s truck as they went back to her place for a more private celebration and Sabine walked off in the direction of her apartment until it was just Zeb, Kallus and Ezra left. Zeb was about to ask Ezra if they wanted to get a cab back to their place when the kid shoved a load of crumpled notes and coins into his hand.
“Wait! What’s this for?” He asked in confusion.
“It’s the final payment of my rent.” Ezra told him with a smile that was far too smug for Zeb’s liking.
Just then a boy on a rickety old motorbike pulled up beside them.
“Hi Ezra!” The boy cried with a beaming smile, brushing a few strand of longish blond hair back under his helmet.
“Hey babe.” Ezra replied, placing a peck on the other boy’s lips. The blond boy handed him a cat inspired helmet in return before he climbed onto the bike behind him. That just made Zeb even more confused.
“Ok, what is happening right now?”
“This my new boyfriend Luke. I’m going to be staying with him from now on. So feel free to invite as many guys back to your place as you like!” Ezra called with his arms wrapped tightly around the boy who was apparently his boyfriend as they sped off down the road.
Zeb watched them go, flabbergasted and embarrassed.
“Hehe…kids am I right?” He looked anywhere but at Kallus, not wanting to see his reaction to the kid’s last comment.
“Yes…kids.” Kallus said as though he didn’t know what a child was.
They stood there awkwardly for a few more seconds but it felt like hours.
“So err… private investigating then?” Zeb said in a desperate attempt to start a conversation.
“Yes private investigating.” Kallus said, seemingly a lot happier to talk about this subject. “During the trail a man and a woman from Fulcrum Investigations approached me to tell me how impressed they were with how much information I managed to find on The Empire and offered me a job once the trail was over. I think I’ll accept their offer.”
"That’s great!" Zeb said, genuinely happy for him. “Being a private investigator sounds perfect for someone of your skills.”
"Thank you.” Kallus blushed, making Zeb’s heart beat faster. Noticing them standing outside the restaurant a taxi pulled up beside them.
“Hey! Any of you fellas wanna lift?” The driver shouted. Kallus opened his mouth presumably to tell Zeb to have the taxi but the larger man pushed him forward.
“You take it. I was planning on walking anyway.” He insisted. For once Kallus actually listened to him and told the driver he’d like a lift. But before he could get in Zeb spoke quickly, afraid he would miss his chance.
"Hey, if ya still unsure and ya want someone to bounce ya ideas off maybe we could meet up at cafe or something to talk?” He said quickly before he could chicken out.
“Do you mean like a date?” Kallus asked with a shy smile, stepping closer to Zeb.
“If ya want.” Zeb replied mirroring Kallus.
“I do. I want that very much.”
They were so close to each other now that their chests brushed against one another as they inhaled deep breathes. Before either of them knew it their lips were pressed against each other’s. Instinctively Zeb’s hands came up to cup his face to enjoy the soft sensations of his mutton chops under his fingers. Similarly Kallus grabbed hold of the collar of Zeb’s jacket to pull him closer. They stood there for what felt like a lifetime, lost in each other’s senses as their lips met. Until the taxi driver beeped their horn loudly, causing them to jump apart.
“Are you getting in this taxi or not?” The cabbie shouted impatiently.
Kallus rolled his eyes which made Zeb’s heart brighten even more.
“I guess I’ll see you on Saturday.” He said. He was still close enough to Zeb that the breathe of his words tingled Zeb’s lips.
“See ya on Saturday.” Zeb echoed as though in a dream as he watched Kallus climb into the taxi.
Saturday couldn’t come quick enough.
Yes ao3 is actually working!!! Thank you to everyone who stayed with me for this pretty out there story concept! I hope that you had as much fun reading it as I did writing it! Thank you to everyone who commented! You are all amazing! Xxxxxxxxx