"You love someone you open yourself up to suffering, that's the sad truth. Maybe they'll break your heart; maybe you'll break their heart and never be able to look at yourself in the same way. Those are the risks. That's the burden. Like wings they have weight, we feel that weight on our backs, but they are a burden that lifts us. Burdens which allow us to fly"

"No, Devlin!" She cried in frustration, "Just let me, just let me finish." She screamed dramatically, sniffing hard to stop the endless stream of tears.

His warm, honey eyes showed the concern he felt for her and the immense amount of love. But Sage, being the beautiful but stubborn independent person she was, wouldn't give him a chance to explain or a chance to understand. She was so damn irritating – in the most angelic way, of course.

He tried to ignore the lifeless chill that dampened her usually vibrant blue eyes. She was hurting. He tried to ignore the beatific way her long, wavy hair, twisted into natural curves cascading down her back. He tried with all his might to not notice how unbelievably pouty her lips were – how kissable she looked, even though her eyes were an overflowing dam, just waiting to break. He knew she wouldn't let it though, she was strong. Stronger than anyone he'd ever met; she was stubborn and didn't want anybody's help, even when she most needed it. She was proud. She was narrow-minded and opinionated but, Sage was everything he'd ever wanted; and yet nothing he could have ever prepared himself for.

His gaze focused on her drooped form against her kitchen counter; one hand rubbing at her forehead furiously and the other holding onto the counter, keeping herself upstanding. He just wanted to hold her, to comfort her. He wanted her to let him in. He knew that together, they could be everything they'd each, ever wanted. But she had to want him as much as he wanted her. And she had to tell him.

Sadly, he wondered if finally confessing his love for her last night over dinner was a bad idea. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

"Sage, I want to tell you something." Devlin whispered, reaching for her hand across the table not meeting her curious gaze.

"So tell me." She smiled warmly and Devlin felt his heart jackhammer out of his chest. It was a strange sensation. One that he definitely wasn't used to, but it was a pleasant sensation and one that he definitely could get used to.

"I want too." He started, "But, I'm afraid it's going to change everything." Devlin confessed.

She grabbed his hand back in response, squeezing it a little and he felt his confidence lift from its dismal and depressing place in the pit of his stomach. He peeked a look at her through his eyelashes - she was giving him a reassuring smile that was so warm and inviting. The way her lips curved into perfection was profound and heart-stopping to him.

"I-" he began, her smile never fading as he stuttered over his words, "Sage." He whispered breathily.

"Devlin," She whispered teasingly back in the same breathy kind of voice. It shot wonderful chills all the way down to his nether region and he shook his head, knowing he had to get his game face on and keep his mind away from…that.

"Sage, we've known each other for a while now, right?" He started.

She raised an eyebrow at his cliché beginning, but the comforting smile never faded, "You're not breaking up with me right?" She teased, her eyes squinted playfully.

Devlin had to chuckle; running his free hand through his hair nervously he replied, "That's usually what people say when they're going to get down on one knee and propose - not break up with you. The phrase you're looking for is 'We need to talk.'" Dev smiled as she scrunched her face.

"No need to rub in the fact that I'm a total social deficit." She sniffed, indignantly.

Devlin just grinned in reply.

"So," she began thoughtfully, "if you start with the sentence, 'We need to talk' it means you're running for the hills?"

"No." Dev grinned, his smile widening at the confusion plastered on her face.

"But you just said-" She began, trailing off. Her eyebrows bunched together and she curled her lips to the side trying to make sense of what he had said.

Devlin squeezed the hand he still held in his grasp to get her attention, "I'd never ever run from you, Sage. So you'd never hear that sentence from me. Ever." He reiterated.

A soft, loving look flitted into her eyes and his brows furrowed as he watched her shake her head.

"What's wrong?" He asked, placing his other hand over hers.

"Nothing," she smiled, "This is all just, getting so serious." She avoided his gaze valiantly.

His heart slowed down painfully. Did that mean she wasn't ready? She didn't want him? She was done with him? He didn't know.

"What…what does that mean?" He asked, lost for words as he concentrated hard on their interconnected hands.

"It doesn't mean anything, Devlin." She whispered, tilting his chin up to meet her gaze.

For the most part, she seemed to believe it, but he'd come to know Sage well since he'd met her and he could read the cynicism in her words, the cynicism she kept hidden in her eyes. As much as he wanted to believe her words and trust the strength in her eyes – he couldn't. Because there was a small part in him – no matter how minute – that knew there was a meaning behind her words. One that couldn't be found in the dictionary or on the internet; but she wouldn't tell him what she meant. She was so set in her ways and that was okay - an imperfection that he perfectly loved about her. He didn't want to fix her or change her or mould her into somebody she wasn't. He just wanted her to open up and let him in.

Unbeknownst to him, that's all Sage had wanted to do since she'd met him.

"Sage, I have a feeling I know what you're going to say…" Devlin sighed, forlornly. It broke her heart, but she had to get it out while she had the courage, before his obvious breaking heart cut through her resolve, "Please don't." He whispered, peeking up at her.

She felt her heart shatter to pieces – two words, ten letters and a look.

He didn't understand though. He could never understand. She was doing this for him. They'd never have worked, they were from two different worlds and it wasn't possible. He had a future, a bright, amazing future filled with possibilities and promise. She couldn't get in the way of that – and she knew she would.

God, if only he'd known how much she'd yearned to hear his words last night. How much she appreciated them. How full and loved she felt – she still felt.

"Devlin, god," Sage continued despite his whispered plea not to, "I want you to understand and realize how much you mean to me. How much I wish I didn't have to do this."

"Sage," he whispered, much like he had the previous night before, "Whatever it is you think you have to do, I'm telling you now, you don't have to. I know you don't want this to end – us to end. We're so perfect for each other." He said softly, closing the small distance between them by wrapping his arms around her thin waste and resting his forehead against her own.

His light brown eyes, showed patience and love. Sage couldn't look. She squeezed her eyes shut tightly, wincing as his hand came up to lightly brush against her cheek.

"Please," she whimpered, "I'm doing this for us."

"If you were doing this for us, then you'd know that this really wasn't for us at all."

She tried to smile at his confusing way of speaking, hardly understanding much of his sentence at all, but she couldn't. It would just become a saved memory she'd use to torture herself with every cold, lonely night she spent in her bed of tears, filled with sorrow and regret. There were already enough torturous memories, she didn't need anymore

"You don't understand, Devlin." Sage whispered, broken.

He placed both fingers on her cheeks, lifting her face to his. His beautiful, warm eyes were asking – for permission. "Help me understand, Sage. Why won't you let me in?" He asked, dropping his head, so that her lips were lost in his soft, rich brown hair.

"I can't." She replied curtly.

She avoided his knowing look and sad smile, "You won't." He corrected.

She dropped her head, completely aware that he'd see straight through her façade. Truth was, Sage was scared. Scared as hell; last night had been the most amazing night of all her nineteen – almost twenty - years of living. But it seemed like all of this was just too good to be true and she had always been taught that when a situation was too good to be true, that's probably because it was. She'd been hurt all throughout her life and deep down she knew that Devlin was worth the dangerous risk, but the familiar, safe part of her, urged her to cut ties before things blew up in her face and she was brought smashing back down to reality.

He tilted her face to his, once again and rested his forehead against her own, his eyes closed, their noses touching, she felt him shake his head slightly.

Devlin knew he couldn't change her mind and she was set on this – whatever it was between them – ending. It absolutely tore him apart inside. He'd hoped that maybe he could help her, open her up to a better world; one better than the pernicious world she had currently been a part of. He felt a little foolish, rethinking over it, but instantly wiped that thought away. She did trust him and that meant more than anything to him, but, she didn't trust him fully and completely. He didn't blame her. He hadn't given her many reasons to – not that he'd given any reasons for her not to trust him. Devlin felt like he should've done more. He was disappointed with himself. He had hoped…

"Devlin," she said with a clear strength that snapped him from his thoughts, "whatever you're thinking right now and whatever you're blaming on yourself right now – just, stop." She demanded, "Stop it. Now."

He felt his chest burn – he forgot how well she also knew him.

"You are perfect." She whispered as she let out a heavy, stunted breath. "Absolutely perfect."

"If I wasn't perfect would you…would you not be doing this?" Devlin asked, not being able to stop the question before it was too late. He wanted to know what he could do to fix this.

She laughed, poignantly, "Devlin, you're imperfections make you perfect to me. But, I can't live up to your perfection."

He knew that was a complete lie; a flat out, deadest, lie. But what could he do about it? Get on his knees and beg? He sure could, but would it put him any step closer to actually trusting him? No. Only she could change that and she didn't want too. Devlin knew that this was it. Her goodbye; his love lost.

"Sage," he began softly, in between long, steady breaths, "just, tell me that you love me." She barely contained the deep, painful sob that threatened to escape. "Even if you don't mean it, even if it's a lie, just…for the road," he whispered, his eyes flashing open to meet her chilling blue.

"So tell me," she repeated, as she noticed the familiar 'thinking' look of Devlin's. Once she lost him to his own thoughtfulness there was no getting back to the topic and she desperately wanted to see this topic through. For Sage knew exactly what Devlin wanted to say and she sympathized when he stuttered and fumbled with his words not knowing exactly where to start because she had been having the exact same trouble. But, she couldn't. The words just caught in her throat and her eyes watered, her mouth dried and she couldn't swallow.

He shook his head softly, looking up at her, his eyes shining adoringly, "Sage," he began, confidently. He was going to do it. That thought made her grin excitedly. "Well, we've been together for a long time and well, this has never really been said, kind of just…assumed or something. I don't know, but, you haven't said it and I'm not sure if there's a real important reason that you haven't or it's just like…personal preference," he babbled, "but, I want to tell you now – not because you haven't said it and I want to be first, I just want to say it because I know it's true. And it has been true for a long time," he added quickly, "And I just wanted you to know that you make me so happy and that I've really enjoyed being with you and cuddling and all that unmanly shit." He said it all so quickly she had to beam slightly. He took a deep breath and mumbled something.

"Sorry?" She asked, with a raised eyebrow.

He mumbled incoherently again and she turned her ear in his direction, "What?"

"I said…" he took another breath, raising his head defiantly, so his warm brown eyes were burning into hers, "I said that, I love you."

Sage's chest puffed and she felt full. "I-" she began, but was interrupted by their waiter, bringing their cheque. She'd forgotten they'd asked for it.

Shaking her head disappointedly, she thanked the waiter and placed it on the table.

"You don't have to say it back," he smiled warmly, "I know."

And she knew he did. She knew he understood, but, she did want to say it, she felt ready to say it, but the chance for her to reply had ended as Devlin swiped the cheque book and began filling it in. She smiled at him adoringly – always the gentleman – but couldn't help but feel hurt. Hurt that he'd expect her not to say it back, not to want to say it back. Even if he knew and he understood, that didn't mean it didn't hurt him. She could tell by the way he effectively cut the conversation short, busying himself with the cheque, that he was hurt.

She sighed inwardly, she would just have to show him how much she loved him when they got him.

And she did, Sage thought wistfully, she showed him how much she loved him and more. She gave him as much of herself as she could last night and she knew he felt it. He could feel her love and he ate it up – among other things. She shook her head, sadly taking her mind from those places. She couldn't be there anymore because those places wouldn't help her in the long run. When he was gone, she needed to move on, to not be fantasizing and remembering his hands and the magical talent they seem to have. She needed to forget his glorious lips and the talent they posses. She needed to overlook his warm, caring heart that she felt beating rapidly every time she touched him or hugged him – his heart that beat only for her.

She knew she would never forget him and she wasn't sure if she could ever stop loving him. She knew she could move on, but also knew that it would never be the same – nothing like this love.

She looked up at him, eyes shining with unshed tears. She could tell him this; she had too – for herself and for him. She smiled slightly, her eyes never leaving his own, "Devlin," she began breathily; he dropped his head instantly at hearing it, but she wasn't having it. He would hear her, he would look at her and he would believe her. She placed a finger under his chin and lightly tipped his head up to meet her. His eyes were misty and broken and she felt a painful shudder tear through her body, "I love you." She finished.

The silence was raw and it was tender.

Eventually, he let out a long breath, "Thank you." He whispered, his head down again, "Can I, give you a hug?" He asked, stretching his goodbye.

She nodded and he slowly wrapped his arm around her. Tears streamed down her cheeks endlessly, but she made no noise, as her hands were tucked in his embrace, resting softly against his chest. She could feel his heart beat slowly and cursed herself for being so cruel and idiotic. She felt his ever so glorious lips touch her forehead briefly, before he released her and walked to the door.

"Goodbye, Sage," he whispered in the open door, not turning back.

"Goodbye, Devlin." She said her voice slightly raised so he could hear her.

He turned his head to the side slightly, so she could see the small smile on his face and she felt her heart palpitate.

But without another word, he disappeared, closing the door with a soft click.

"I love you, Devlin." That was her goodbye; her love lost.

She sunk to the floor; arms wrapping around her stomach, legs pulled tightly to her chest, squishing her hands and her head rested lightly on her knees as the tears continued to fall, but again she made no sound.

Sighing, she stood and made her way to the shower removing her clothes as she went. She turned the water on scalding hot so the small room steamed up. She added a bit of cold water so it was the perfect temperature and then climbed in. The moment the water hit her the aching sobs tore through her entire self, loud cries escaped her and she did none to stop them. She sunk down the shower wall, water falling over her as she hung her head. Tears streaming and bawling like a woman scorned she placed both hands on her stomach.

"It's okay, baby," She whispered through bouts of trying to catch her breath, "Your daddy loves you, he always will." Sage continued, cradling her stomach affectionately, "But he can't ever know."

"We have to let him go," she sighed brokenly.