XO

Hugs and kisses. A past broken heart and a soft exclamation. Or very simply an emoticon. It has been staring at me from my document file and mocking me for months. Still not completely sold on it, but I can't stand to edit any more. The quoted poem excerpts belong to Elizabeth Barret Browning. Please enjoy!

I don't own the Titans or the poem. And I keep telling myself I don't need another chapter story right now! – J. Mirembe


If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love's sake only.

He leant over and kissed her. Nothing too intense, almost like a butterfly wing brushing across her cheek. It's quick and painless, but for a moment she can't breathe. Then he smiled. The words fell from his lips as if they were easy.

"I love you."

"I know." And she did know. It was as real and tangible as his hand slipping into hers. His emotions were as clear as day to her empathy. He had always been the easiest to read, like a lighthouse from the shore.

If he had been anybody else, she might have been skeptical. It had only been a few weeks. Since he was Beast Boy, she trusted him. It wasn't some spontaneous impulse or a joke. For him, it was the simple honest truth.

He laughed quietly and started to walk after their teammates, keeping her hand his hostage.

"What's so funny?" He had shrugged absently and then actually began to swing their joined hands. As if they were just another stupid teenaged couple. She couldn't help but frown at the cliché picture they must have made. A boy and a girl walking down a sidewalk together, holding hands like a pair of star-crossed soul mates.

"Most people don't respond to I love you with I know. You know?" His flippant tone had been accidental. She knew he hadn't meant anything but it still hurt. A nearby streetlight shuddered, but remained intact.

She was in control. A goofy little boy wasn't going to change that. It didn't matter he was goofiest of all little boys. Not even the fact he was her goofy little boy was a good enough excuse.

"Of course I know. But I'm not going to lie to you just because it's traditional." The small smile that graced his face faltered for a moment. Then he pulled her to a stop.

A gentle tug on her hand had them standing face to face. The concern on his face was obvious. She had to hold her breath as a small wave of his old insecurity washed over her.

"Lie to me? Do you think I'm lying to you? I mean it. I really do..." He spoke in a rush, desperate to make her understand. She had squeezed his hand in reassurance.

He went quiet, still looking worried. It made her sad to know that he had spent the last week waiting for her to dump him. Sometimes she wished it was harder to read him.

"I know, remember? What I mean is that I don't feel right about telling you something that important just because you tell me. When and if it's true for me, I'll tell you." She watched as he chewed his lip thoughtfully. When the small smile reappeared, her world started to move normally again.

"I understand. And it's okay. But forget that if and just make it when. Because someday it's gonna happen. I love you too much to never hear it back."

The world still continued to turn. He was still holding tight to her hand. It was more than okay.

But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou may'st love on, through love's eternity
.