Disclaimer: It all belongs to Lucas, I make no money off this, etc, etc, etc... I only wish I did cheeky grin

Title: Change

Author: JadeMax

Timeframe: Post YJK, Pre NJO

Characters: Jaina Solo and Zekk

Summary: Sometimes you have to move on before you can grow up

Notes: Breakup Fic - J/Z Index challenge fic at ducked away from the after party excitement, leaving Jacen and Tenel Ka to fend for themselves with their relatives and friends.

He needed to be alone.

A lot had happened in the last few months. He'd turned eighteen; the twins were now sixteen, Tenel Ka seventeen. They'd brought down an evil plot to ruin the galaxy, and they'd been knighted. Knighted. He sighed, looking down at the saber hanging from his belt as he leaned against the railing, looking out across the jungle of Yavin IV.

He'd been given an honor he didn't really feel he'd earned yet, one he wasn't certain he was ready for. Just one more burden in a series of burdens. One more choice in a series of choices. Some choices more difficult than others.

"Credit for your thoughts."

He'd known she would come looking for him. Part of him was grateful; he enjoyed no one elses company like he did hers. "Just thinking."

"I figured as much." She came to stand beside him, following his gaze out across the jungle. "It's crazy in there, huh?"

He nodded. "Crazy." he echoed. He fell silent, wondering how to broach a sensitive subject without hurting her feelings. The silence between them felt awkward, forced, as it hadn't been before. They both knew what was coming, but neither really wanted to face it.

Finally, he turned to face her. "Jaya, we have to talk."

"I know." She slanted a look at him. "I'm too young for you."

He blinked. "Pardon?"

She shrugged, her hair being teased by the light evening breeze. "I'm too young for you. You're an adult, a Knight in your own right. I still need training and I need to grow up. Right?"

He chuckled. "Wrong." He shook his head, wondering where she'd ever gotten the impression. "Our paths aren't going in the same direction anymore Jaina. You're being apprenticed to your Aunt, I'm going off to find my own way. It's not fair for me to hold you down."

She sniffed, and he swore he saw the sparkle of tears on her lashes. But as she turned to face him, her eyes swimming with tears, she smiled. "You know I'll never forget you right?"

He lifted his hand to gently brush the tears off her lashes. "This isn't a goodbye forever, Jaya. We'll meet again, you'll see."

"When I'm old enough for you?"

He chuckled. "You're old enough for me now, I swear. I just can't... we can't expect to do this long distance. I'll ever be your friend, no matter what happens."

She launched herself into his arms, hugging him tightly. "I'll hold you to that, Zekk."

He hugged her back, resting his chin on the top of her head, his heart aching. She wasn't ready for what he wanted to ask her, she might never be, and so he was choosing to let her go. That didn't mean he couldn't enjoy one last hug.

Jaina finally pulled back, dashing one hand across her face. "Would it be too much to ask for a goodbye kiss?" The question was soft, uncertain.

He couldn't deny her that. His head came down and he gently brushed his lips across hers. Her lips tasted bittersweet, a tantalizing forbidden fruit that wasn't his to sample. He pulled back. "I'll see you around, Jaya."

"You too." Her throat closed as she spoke. She held onto him, reluctantly letting him slide from her grasp as he moved away and disappeared back into the temple. The only comfort she could derive from that last embrace was that he was as reluctant as she to let go.

He was simply the stronger for doing so.