It was that voice. Zuko would have recognized that voice anywhere.
As soon as his passenger recognized the person approaching, every warning light in Zuko’s head went haywire at her reaction. Eyes lingering on her hands as she got out of the car—the scrap of paper with his name and number lying forgotten in her seat—he felt a stony calmness settle over him.
When she told him to leave with desperation threaded through her voice and closed the door without waiting for him to say anything, when she pressed her back to the side of his Jeep as if she could melt into it, there really was no other choice he could make.
And then, he heard that voice. The cocky asshole who’d befriended him in anthropology a few years ago, only to turn around and start a fight with him when he found out Zuko’s family name. University police had intervened before either of them had done any real damage or gotten the upper hand, but it had done nothing to ingratiate him toward Jet. The fact that he was the ex who sent girls running behind the first thing they could find didn’t surprise him at all.
Even before she threatened Jet with calling the police, Zuko knew he was going to step in. Then Jet opened his mouth to address him, in the car and still unknown, and it was all Zuko could do not to run over and deck him.
I hit it first!
Zuko felt the anger boil and condense in him until it felt like a single, iron-dense ember lodged between his lungs. He cut the engine and got out, making his way around the Jeep and preparing himself for an altercation.
His mystery woman still leaned against the passenger door, hands partially raised and balled into shaking fists so tight her knuckles paled. Something taut in him threatened to snap into sharp, frayed pieces.
When he spoke, though his voice was rough along the edges, it was calm and hard. “I’m surprised she still remembers you, if you fuck anything like the way you throw a punch.”
Recognition flashed across Jet’s face and was swiftly overtaken by anger, his eyebrows disappearing beneath the mess of his hair they lifted so high. “You want a rematch, daddy’s boy?” The feral grin that slashed across Jet’s mouth was as much a challenge as his words.
A sneer curled up Zuko’s lip and he gave Jet the most aristocratic and condescending look he could muster. “Not really.” He stepped up to his impromptu evening companion and slid an easy arm low around her waist, his hand coming to rest protectively against her opposite hip, hoping she’d play along and not knee him in the nuts or something. He made sure to put an arrogant smirk on both his face and weave it smooth as silk into his tone. “We’ve already made plans for the evening. You’ll just have to go home unsatisfied.”