A Little Less Than Before

By The Silver Phoenix

Summary: Your kisses have become a little tamer now, your promises a little emptier, and I am left searching the dying embers for the flames of yesterday's fire, because you love me a little less than before. [RobxStar]

Disclaimer: I do not own the Teen Titans.

You came to see me today.

The sun was just sinking below the western horizon, a blazing disc painting the sky a thousand shades of pink and purple and orange. Once, long ago, we had watched a similar sunset together. You had held my hand, kissed me and told me you wanted to share the rest of your life with me, every last sunset and all the moments in between. I had believed you then.

When you came, you said, "Star, I'm sorry." I thought you were apologising for having been away for so long—twenty-two days to be exact, though it seemed much longer than that. Everything seems lonelier when you wake up in the mornings to an empty bed.

Then you said, "Let me hold you." It was then that my fears were confirmed. You had not come simply to say sorry. Your eyes, your beautiful blue eyes, said: let me hold you, for the last time, so that I can leave without feeling the burden of guilt.

You had come to say goodbye.

No, I wanted to scream. No, because I do not want us to end. If we did not say goodbye, then you could always come back later to convince me that we were still lovers, that there was still a future for us together. And I, seduced by the words my heart so desperately wished to hear, would fool myself into believing you because I truly wished to. If we never said goodbye, then nothing would have to end and we could just ride this endless spiral of self-deception forever, entangled in the web of pretences we have spun around ourselves.

"Yes," I replied instead, the word taking wings and escaping my lips unbidden. It had been far too long since I had felt your warmth, your touch.

So you held me in your arms like you used to, only things are so irrefutably different now and that made it too painful for me to bear. Your kisses have become a little tamer now, your promises a little emptier, and I am left searching the dying embers for the flames of yesterday's fire.

"I love you, Starfire," you said. You did not really mean it… at least, not the way you meant it before. I turned away so that you would not see my tears.

You wanted to stay the night. For a fleeting minute I hoped that maybe we could reconcile and I could make you fall in love with me again and things would return to the way they were. But not even I am deluded by that foolish illusion anymore. It is time to stop living a lie, time to stop playing this game of charades in which there are no ultimate winners.

The truth is… you love me a little less than before.

Things have changed—we have changed—and now everything is but a ghost of its former self, like a shadow thrown on a wall, its real-life counterpart eroded away by the relentless tide of time. Except you. You are still as real as you were on the day we first met. But you do not belong with me anymore.

So I made you leave and forced myself to close the door. I said I wanted to be alone; it was not the complete truth, for I was alone in your presence anyway. You could not have given me all of you and anything less was not enough for me. It is better this way—you can move on; indeed, I believe you have already taken the first steps. Then you will no longer feel obliged to look back, apologising for things that were not your fault, saying things you do not mean and leaving the truths unspoken. As for myself, perhaps I can learn to forget a little more and laugh a little more.

Oh, I hate myself for loving you still, for clinging on to false hopes. I hate myself for letting you take my heart when I am unable to keep yours in return. I know I should let go, but I do not wish to. We have come too far together to leave unscarred now, you and me both. We cannot so easily discard unwanted memoirs like scattered leaves borne away by a swift-flowing stream. We cannot erase the past, or spill the inkwell to blot out the mistakes. Like pages missing from a novel, the suppressed memories from the past, our past, will only return to haunt me. Without you, my story will forever be incomplete.

Our lives have become so irreversibly, so inextricably entwined that we cannot simply forgive and forget and start all over again. When the memory of your love and the lingering taste of your kisses are all I have left… how can I ever let you go?

A/N- This idea popped into my head while I was listening to 'Broken Strings' the other day. Anyway, I was inspired so I've tried to capture some of its essence in this piece. I also wanted to experiment a bit by writing something slightly different from what I usually write. I think it turned out OK, don't you?

~The Silver Phoenix