A/N: Short one shot that popped into my head late last night, a bit different from the other stuff I've written.

Read, review, let me know what you think. :)

- Lenni

Falling Out of Like

What does it feel like to "fall out of like"?

Does it feel like dropping off the Empire State Building? Does your heart plummet like your body does, shattering into a million broken pieces as it hits the asphalt below? Or is it like a stake to a heart – the end to an immortal feeling?

I know what falling in like is like. It's that empty feeling you get inside your stomach – the one that fools you into thinking you're hungry at first. But it's not food you're looking to fill the void; it's companionship. It's that smile you keep biting back when you make eye contact with him, and then let break out across your face when he flashes a grin your way. It's that sweatiness you get when he's standing right next to you and that urge you get to close the distance. It's the joy that clouds your head when he has the same interests as you, when you can be a dork around him and he won't judge you.

I know what feeling lost in your own body is like too. It's that sick rumbling you get inside your stomach when your best friend texts you to say she's liked him all this time too. It's your brain yelling at you to look away when he hugs her and gives her a small smile, as if he's at peace with his own world, even if you aren't with yours. It's the rage and frustration you feel when your other friends offer you sympathetic looks.

I know teenagers are immature; they're too young to understand what love is.

But this isn't love, this is like.

And like isn't governed by the laws of love. Like isn't immortal – stabbing like is like stabbing a fly; you've killed something that was never meant to live long. You never forget your first love; you can't say the same for your first crush.

Everything I've described above? That's not for like. Falling out of like can't be that dramatic.

But then there's that stupid kind of like – the one that refuses to go away. It's the fly that keeps darting out from underneath the fly swatter. It's the buzzing that keeps traveling into your ears even when you try to pretend it's not there.

You felt that buzz for three years.

And then there's shock. That's the blank feeling you get when he's no longer in a relationship on Facebook. It's the awkwardness between you and your best friend, because she knew you liked him too. It's the "what now?" on your mind because you haven't spoken to him in ages.

So you figure out the "what now". It's becoming friends again – cracking stupid jokes and insulting each other. It's growing so close that other people around you are giving you suggestive looks and hinting that he might like you as more than just a friend.

That's called hope. Hope lifts you like a hot air balloon and makes you step back from your own world for a second. It's a beautiful view from up there – it puts everything into perspective.

Hot air balloons, however, can pop. So you fall. But it's not like falling off a building, because you never had a solid foundation to begin with. Falling from the sky wasn't your choice – it was the balloon that burst.

He doesn't ask you to that dance and he doesn't acknowledge what other people have been saying.

It's not for lack of trying on your part either.

And suddenly, you're growing too close to him; you're getting to know all of his little quirks and faults, and they irk you.

When you like someone, aren't you supposed to like them despite all of that?

So, you vent. You vent to your best friend because she's the only one who has been through a relationship with him; she's the only one who's truly faulted him for his stupid traits; for his insecurities, for his self-pity, for his condescension, for his egoism. You forgive her, because all along, she never really liked him. He was familiar, he was comforting. She'd moved half way across the country and he was like a small piece of home when she didn't have anything else. But as for him? He had his home – he hadn't needed a distant girlfriend.

What now? What about you?

You're on the brink of falling out of like when you begin to question yourself. It starts when your best friend tells you that it's okay if you date him, but you wish she'd take her consent back. It starts when you get a clenching in your chest when he tells you he's going out with another girl, but feel indifference when he tells you about their date. It starts when you chat with him online, but never initiate the conversation because you're not that eager to talk to him anymore.

You're not heart broken, you're heart numb.

And then you're asked, "Who do you like now?"

You say, "No one," because it's true.

The summer after he graduates, he asks you to hang out. You do, because he's going to college. It's the last hurrah of three years of yes, no, and maybe. Three years of will he or won't he, even though it's mostly been he won't.

You joke, you laugh, and you smile. Suddenly, it's like you're reliving the first few months you knew him. Before he started dating your best friend, before you regained hope, before he disappointed you, and before you started growing annoyed. It's a memory of the past.

This is hope, but it's a naïve one. It's jetting off in a high speed airplane when you haven't got the slightest idea on how to control it. Excitement and adrenaline wash over you, and then you crash, burn, and drown.

You want to stay in this moment, but you can't live in the past. You've learned too much, experienced too much, to just simply forget.

And then, he says the one thing you wished he should have said sooner.

"I love you."

And it frightens you.

Because you've only known like.

Because you're so young.

Because he's leaving and you know it's not supposed to happen; because if it was, it would have some time during all those years – before you started falling out of like.

It's like he didn't even say anything before when you drive him back to his house. He reaches out to pull you in for a hug, which you return without inhibition because this hug is a period, the signal of the end. You'll see him again in the future, but it won't be like how you did before.

You don't even cry when you watch him get out. You don't shed a tear when you fleetingly think about him later.

It's not heartless. It's just… the truth. Because, how can you feel anything for someone who only cared when it was convenient?

I think I've figured out what it feels like now.

Falling out of like is growing up and moving on.

It's putting yourself first, instead of him.

It's finally killing that stupid fly.