Those Too Innocent to Love
Disclaimer: I do not own the Teen Titans
Irecall the moment I first heard it. We had been gathered together for a holiday celebration of some sort… It was an obscure holiday, I believe. I can only suppose it was such, because even after my substantial time of having lived on earth (7 years at that point) it was the first time I had ever been compelled to participate in festivities in honor of it.
The fact is, I cannot quite recall which holiday it was. But I know it well now. For a different reason, I shall admit, but I know it.
And I will never forget it.
We had all settled ourselves in a large circle on the floor of Victor's living room… at that point we Titans had gone our separate ways and Cyborg was not a suitable name for an "average" working man. It was almost painful to realize how far apart we had grown, but I never doubted our loyalty to one another. After all, we had been with one another through our maturing years and that… was unbreakable. We would always be friends, I knew.
None the less, it was on an unremarkable holiday that we all sat around our good friend's house and heard those words which have utterly contorted my life as it is. I cannot say that this was good or bad. I cannot say that I was elated or forlorn. All I can attest to is that I was changed, and I will never understand quite how.
I recall that he called for our attention, and I… being as much enthralled with him then as I am now, was attentive from the first. He began to speak and, from the very moment the first words fell from his lips we all knew what he was trying to say.
And my heart stopped.
It took me up to the point at which he finally spoke those most empowered words for me to revive the flow of blood through my veins. And as he said them, I felt my effort may have been in vein for I was sure that it would stop again.
He told us he was in love.
He said that he had found his happiness.
He told us he was ready to "settle down."
He proposed… he posed the question I had so long desired to hear. But the one inclined to answer…
Was not me.
In two short months, Barbra Gordon was to be Barbra Grayson. Two short months have raced by and now there are but a few scant moments before he is bound to Barbra for life. I am happy for her, really. Perhaps I am happier for him, though… that he has found his happiness. I refuse to wallow in a state of self-pity… of course I will admit I had considered it. I love Richard Grayson. I loved him as Robin and I love him as Nightwing and as just plain Richard.
It is for that reason that I am happy. I will always be happy if he can smile. He is standing at the alter, waiting. His eyes are sharp, anticipating his bride's arrival. I can feel his emotions as if they were pouring from him in waves. And I am not the empath of our group. I hear the soft creak of wheels rolling slowly over the floor and I turn. Barbra is wheeled out in her chair… her Batgirl days are long gone. But she is the Oracle and still finds her way to fly… even if it is through cyberspace.
I watch the corners of his lips curve up into that notable half-grin that has won him so many sighs of adoration from the female population of Gotham. But this smile is a special one he wears just for her. At least, I shall let her think it as such. Despite the fact she is not able to walk, she still looks like a queen in white being steadily brought down the isle by the ever-loyal Alfred.
I am quiet and a bit distant through the ceremony, and I feel a little bad. I ought to be paying closer attention on his big day. But I cannot help but let my mind wander… back to what he said so long ago and to what I have heard so often since.
I remember we were still the Teen Titans then, and I was still unbearably naïve to the customs of earth. I remember it had been one of those all-too-common times when he had discovered me pouting on the roof of our gargantuan T and had endeavored to soothe my troubled mind. I cannot exactly recall the particular discontenting event of the day, but I know I was experiencing the distinct sting of one who has come under the impression (again) that they must be the most brainless being on the planet. Either way, we went through the usual routine of his explaining that my lack of experience with certain terran customs was understandable and that I was not nearly as dumb as I had currently suspected.
It was all well and good then because, naturally, I took whatever he said to be universal law and cherished it as such. It had not initially been a particularly memorable event, but then… before he left, he revealed to me a truth that has crippled me ever since. But he does not know it.
He told me that he loved me. He told me that he loved me and always would love me. Richard Grayson… told me that he would never love anyone more than he loved me. However, it became apparent soon after this revelation that no matter how much I professed my equally insurmountable love for him, he steadfastly remained under the impression that I could not possibly be speaking truthfully.
Richard told me later, after a tender kiss, that I did not know what love was. It shocked me, and as I recall I protested fiercely. Yet he regarded me with the sort of manner that one might a child and held fast to his belief.
It was years before I finally accepted that he could not be deterred from this discontenting idea, and I became mutely resigned to the fact… because, after all, he still told me he loved me every time we were alone… and there was a quiet moment for him to hold me… just for a little while.
That smile… the one Barbra knows to be for her alone… is for me as well. I see it often, when I catch his eye and match his gaze. Our love is one lived in brief snatches of time. I am alert again as I hear his voice ring out in the quiet church chapel.
They kiss. I watch and, perhaps I am wrong to, I note that he has kissed me with just as much passion. But I realize now… things will be different. He is married and… he loves someone more than he loves me. He loves Barbra. But I do not doubt that he loves me still, I am simply not the first in his heart.
I can accept this.
But it hurts… and I do not know how long I will be able to keep "accepting this." I believe I am numb as I walk from the church and slide my way away from the crowd wishing the newlyweds farewell. I proceed around the corner of the church, away from the noise and from Barbra's elated laughter as Richard lifts her from her chair and parades out of the building with her.
My fingers rake through my long, ruby coils of hair and I press my back against the brick church wall. He loves me still… I shall keep that belief and pray I am right. He loves me still… I am just not first. That is all I have and all I will accept. And yet I am crippled because as long as he loves me, I cannot beat down my love for him. I cannot love any others… I cannot place him second as he has placed me. I shudder a sigh—I am happy for them, but self-pity is beginning to strike me as appealing.
My green eyes rake the ground in front of me… I want something… anything… to concentrate on. Anything but Barbra and the fact that she, not I, seems to be capable of loving him. "But I do love you, Richard…" I breathe softly.
"I know," he says, and I look up in a mixture of surprise and horror as he walks towards me, hand shoved into his pants pockets. I believe he has come to say goodbye to me before he leaves on his honeymoon.
"You know?" I blurt, not quite understanding. Richard's eyes are soft… a little sad. "Dick… you know?" I repeat. He nods and come to me and I am gently enveloped in a hug.
"I know," he confirms, and I want to cry. He has just been married. He has just bound his life to another and he tells me now that he knows I do love him.
"But… why…?" I stumble, my entire perception of the two of us now flopping uselessly to the ground. I do not understand… and he will need to teach me, but I am not sure I wish to know. He has just been married. I shake my head and wriggle from his hug, standing defiantly back from him. I feel the need to protect myself… defend myself from something.
"Star… Koriand'r… I know. I've always known. But you and I could never… work…" he explains slowly. And I want to slap him. He knew. He knew I loved him and he loved me. But he did not let us be with one another. He kept us apart and I am lost.
"If you knew…" I say slowly, keeping my voice as even as I possibly can. It is minutes after his wedding and he is choosing to tell me now that he has always known I loved him? I am not sure I can grasp this concept in full no matter how many times I roll it over in my head. "…If you knew… why could we not… 'work?' Did… was it… Did you lie? Was it all out of pity?" I ask in bewilderment. He looks offended, his eyes flashing stormily.
"No." he growls, as if he is angry I would suggest such a thing. "I never lied about how I felt about you. I still love you. I told you I would never love anyone more than I love you… and I don't. Don't you ever doubt that I love you," he snaps. I hug myself and shake my head. This does not make sense, but he expects me to listen to what he is saying and take it with a smile.
"I… do not understand," I say finally. I feel as if I am drowning… I am confused and dismayed and I simply do not know what to think. I love him. He knows I love him. He says he loves me. But he is married.
"Kori, don't you get it? You can't love me… you shouldn't love me. As much as I love you and as much as I wish I could accept your love, I can't. You shouldn't love me," he says quietly. I close my eyes, shuddering a sigh.
"But Babs… she can love you?" I ask. I open my eyes to see him nod.
"Kori, you have to believe me when I tell you that I love you more than I will ever love anyone else… but you also have to understand that I can't let you love me. I know this is complicated and that, frankly, this can't make much sense to you. Hell, I just got married…" he breathes with a faint, ironic chuckle. "But please, please don't ever think that I don't love you," he finishes.
I have nothing to say to him. He says I cannot love him… but I say that there is no way for me not to. But I know he will not hear this, so I remain silent. He takes a step toward me and reaches out a hand, pulling me to him and pressing a soft kiss to my forehead. I swallow back the desire to tell him that he is wrong to tell my I cannot love him. I cannot be with him even if he were to finally accept my feelings. He is married to Barbra Gordon… Barbra Grayson.
He sighs and turns to leave me; his bride is waiting for him in the car. He waves goodbye… I wave back. I will see him in a few weeks. When he returns, I will have much to deal with… after all, I will still love him and I will still have the knowledge that he loves me more than any other being in existence. I will also still have the knowledge that he is married to Babs and I can never have him. "You never told me why I cannot love you, Richard," I call after him.
He stops and turns, meeting my gaze with his dark blue eyes. "Because you… are too innocent to love," he replies. We hold each other's gaze for a moment longer and then he leaves. Back to Barbra. I remain where I am and then I turn and walk towards my own car. Because I listen to what he says, whether true or not…
…And it appears that to him I shall always be…
Just one of those few too innocent to love.
Author's Note: I'm sorry for my inactivity... but I'm still juggling school work with writing Chasing Mirrors and haven't had much time to get through the next chapter. Summer is just a little ways away and then I should be able to write quite a bit. For the moment, I hope this odd little one-shot will suffice. I'm hoping my next chapter of CM will be ready for posting in a few weeks. Anyhow, I don't know if this one-shot made sense at all... um, I hope it did... it was just one of those things where Robin loved Starfire so much that he was afraid of allowing her to love him back, knowing that he would disappoint her or even hurt her at times... so he ended up going off and marrying Barbra, who he did love but not nearly as much as Starfire and Starfire was left to deal with the fact that she loved him and knew he loved her but could never be with him. Yeah. I hope that made sense. .;; Either way... your comments are appreciated, good or bad... whatever you feel like saying.
Love, Princess Starfire of Tamaran