All the King's Horses
Part I: Chapter 6

He was becoming an experienced crying shoulder. She knew it, somewhere inside, she knew that falling apart on him was an all around bad idea. And somewhere else inside, the thought that she’d be more than content to remain right here in his arms was echoing through her. Her mind kept screaming at her, again and again, don’t fall for it, Alison. Don’t fall for him. Get away. Runaway. Find Jamal. Don’t fall for it…

She didn’t want to listen. She didn’t want to do much of anything but stay right here in this spot, practically sitting in his lap with his arms tightly, protectively wrapped around her. It may have registered somewhere that she’d stopped crying hours ago to the both them, but if it had neither showed any signs of it.

The sun was setting outside, and the light that came through the window was slowly fading, casting shadows on the cabinets across from them. It was almost as if they were watching the sunset itself. But then, he always seemed to make her feel like she was seeing something absolutely beautiful and rare. He never failed to bring the beauty of her life into better focus, letting her see the light instead of the darkness and shadows that sometimes still threatened to over take her.

His fingers had found their motion from before, sweeping through her hair with pure gentleness and caring. His tenderness with her was enough to make her want to weep. The motion didn’t bring drowsiness this time, only a small ache inside of her that she wasn’t entirely sure how to describe. It was comforting and confusing, and she didn’t think she wanted it to go away.

A thought from earlier came again, repeated itself like a whisper in her ear. This was easy. Maybe the easiest thing in her life. Everything was complicated, and her friendship with him may have caused more than a few bumps when she was supposed to be sailing on smooth waters, but being like this, or any other way with him for that matter, was unbelievable easy. Simple, uncomplicated, gentle, not demanding anything but that she be herself and smile from time to time. If she was tired of hurting, she found him.

And she was falling. She was falling fast, and she was falling hard. And the idea had to be one of the worst ones she’d ever had. He couldn’t feel the same way about her. Even... Even if he wanted to he couldn’t. He’s leaving, Alison reminded herself. He’s leaving, she had two weeks with him tops before Christmas came and he was stolen away from her. Besides, he’s an angel.

Alison smiled. Her angel.

“Now that’s what I like to see.” His fingers halted their rhythm and he burshed her cheek with the pad of his thumb. “What’s so funny?”

She giggled lightly. “Nothing. I-I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be.” Rafe put his chin on her head, smiling lightly with her. “You have nothing to be sorry for, Alison. I think we’ve been over this already.”

Her arms tightened around him. “Yeah, we have… I probably shouldn’t have called you. I mean, you probably have tons of other things you have to do, and instead you’re stuck here with me.”

“I can think of worse places to be stuck.”

“B-But aren’t you like super busy?”

“Never too busy for you, Alison,” he promised. Tucking her hair behind her ear again, he finally just let his fingers linger in the soft blond locks. “I’m glad you called me. Jamal probably wouldn’t be thrilled, but you know that you can call me any time. Got it?”

“Got it.” She sniffed, shifted on her knees tiredly to sit closer to him. “I feel better now that you’re here.” The admission came out as soft as air.

Rafe pulled away slightly to look in her eyes. “I’m glad I can make you feel better.” He studied her for a minute more before they both returned to their previous position. “You wanna talk about it?”

She shook her head against his chest, and even as she did it words were spilling from her mouth, “He said I was lying to everyone. To him, to you, and to me. J-Jamal thinks…” Alison laughed nervously. “He thinks I’m in love with you.”

Ok, so it was probably not a good thing that his heart soared at the idea. “Well,” Rafe whispered. “We both know that isn’t true. So eventually Jamal will get over the idea. Because you… You having feelings like that for me is just… It’s laughable.”

Alison pulled back then. “R-Right,” she agreed almost reluctantly. “I mean, you’re an angel.” An incredibly sweet, charming, caring, good looking, great kissing angel, but an angel none the less.

“Exactly! That’s… yeah…”

She laughed again softly. “Guess what?”


Her arms were wrapped tightly around her knees once more, so she simply tilted her head to the stain at her right. “After you went through all the trouble of catching it, I still managed to drop that jar of syrup.”

He laughed softly as well. “Between the two of us, you may never get those muffins done.”

“My thoughts exactly.” Alison caught her bottom lip between her teeth, biting down for just a second before turning her attention back to him. “You wouldn’t be interested in decorating with me, or you know, maybe helping me make cookies would you? Cause I have like this really good idea for a gingerbread house, and you might even think it was fun or… something.”

He paused for a beat while he worked up the courage to force himself to speak his next words. “Are you sure you wouldn’t rather go find Jamal and… talk about it.”

“I’m tired of talking to Jamal,” she sighed. “It’s always the same thing, you know? And I’m just really tired of it. He thinks I’m capable of cheating on him, and he’s the one that slept with Valerie.” She shrugged her shoulders. “I’m tired of fighting, or talking and him not listening. He doesn’t listen to me at all. I think sometimes I’m talking to a wall instead of the man I live with, you know? Like you’re talking to a picture trying to get up the courage to say something to that person but it never works out the same way.”

“Jamal loves you.”

“Stop it. Please? You probably don’t want to talk about my relationship with Jamal anymore than I do. If he doesn’t trust me, then what’s the point?”

“Maybe it would help if I stayed away-”

“Don’t you dare!” She glared at him from across the short space, panic clamped down on her heart with a cold fist. “Don’t stay away from me just because Jamal is jealous and sudden decided that it’s not worth it to trust me.” Alison lowered her eyes when a thought hit her. “Oh… You know, unless of course, you like, have other things to do. And I’m sure you do! You… You probably have like a ton of better things to do than spend time with me holding my hand and just-”

“Alison, nothing is better than spending time with you.”

His confession was soft, barely reaching her ears. But when the words hit her she closed her mouth, cutting off the flow of words as her eyes darted back to him. “I can help you.”

“I know you can.” Rafe stood, throwing the dirty rag into the trash along with everything else. “Tell you what, I’ll stay here and watch you make a gingerbread house. I can promise that you don’t want me to try and help. I’ll only end up making things more work. But you have to help me figure something out for Kevin and Lucy.” He held his hands out for her to take. “Deal?”

“Deal,” she said, nodding. Placing both of her hands in his she stood with his assistance. “But do you think that maybe you’ll let me in on the secret of the mystery woman Kevin has?”

“Sure,” Rafe shrugged. “But after we go to see Lucy.”

“Oh, fine, fine… I see how you play! You like to tease me, you know.”

“Of course I know.” He smiled at her brightly. His thumbs running over the back of her hands. “It’s almost as fun as making you smile.”

“I’m so glad that I can amuse you,” Alison laughed. “You’re pretty sneaky for an angel.”

“As an angel I have to be sneaky. I can’t exactly just stand up and scream at them to get back together and realize the wonderful gift they have. The ability to look at someone and tell them that you love them, that’s a gift, Alison, and most people take it for granted. Love is one of the most precious things in the world.”

She swallowed hard and tore her eyes away from his before she lost herself in them completely. “You’re right. It is something most people take for granted. I’ll, you know, try to stop that.” Her eyes darted wildly around before finally settling on their still attached hands. How long had she been holding his hands? She released him quickly and took a step back, clearing her throat as she turned away from him. She could feel the blush forming on her cheeks. “So… So um, what’s your favorite kind of cookie? We can make those! It’ll be fun! We can do lots of things, I love baking Christmas cookies. I think most people love baking for Christmas. Do they?” She turned to face him again but only to walk past him. “Let’s get started!”

The nervousness was back. Rafe sighed. When was he going to learn to rope himself in? Way to go, he told himself silently, why not just blurt ‘I love you, Alison’ next time. You’ll probably get the same effect. “Chocolate chip.”

“Ok, we’ll make chocolate chip. I like chocolate chip! With extra chocolate!” She practically bounced from one side of the room to the other gathering things to start quickly. “It’ll be fun.”

He had no doubt.

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