Falling
All the King's Horses
Part I: Chapter 9

He knocked on the door again, his inpatients growing because he knew she was in there. Hiding out no doubt. “Lucy!” he called through the door. “Come on, I need to talk to you! Would you just open the-”

In a flash she was standing in front of him, hugging her waist. “What? What, what, what? This better not be about Doc. I can’t handle another lecture about Doc and what a great guy he is and all that happy, positive thinking stuff.”

“Door,” Rafe finished. Shrugging his shoulders, he sighed. “What happened with you and Doc now?”

“Nothing! Nothing happened! Nothing at all, whatsoever, nothing. Get it?”

“Got it.”

“Great!” Lucy opened the door wider and took a step back. “Come on, come on, get in. It’s freezing out there.”

“Yeah, my first guess would have been the snow.” Walking inside Rafe looked around frantically from one suitcase to another. “Lucy, you can’t go! You can’t leave! You have to stay!”

“Why? What is there for me here? Huh? Doc has his other woman, Serena is with Scott almost all the time now, I hardly get to see her at all. Nothing is working out, and you know what, I don’t want to have a Christmas party-slash-would be wedding!” She turned quickly, zipping up a suitcase. “It’s impossible! Doc is… ohh.. you know what? I don’t care what Doc is. Not anymore. He can just go and have the time of his life, without me! But you know what, you know what, he’s not going to have the time of his life because he’ll be miserable without me! This entire town will be miserable without me!”

“Lucy, come on, please, don’t leave! Not now anyway? Please? Just… just wait until after Christmas. Then we can skip out of town together, you know? But you can’t leave now. You… you can’t!”

“But Doc is-”

“I don’t care what Doc is! I don’t care where Doc is, and I don’t care what he’s doing. Lucy please, I need you now! You can’t just skip out on me like this!”

“My soul mate is spending time with some other woman, Rafe! I can’t have that!” A beat. “What’s that on your shirt?”

He glanced down at his shirt. “Flour. Don’t ask. It’s a really long story.” Rafe sat down on the sofa without invitation next to a still open suitcase that appeared to be half filled. “If you can’t have it, Lucy, then fight for him! Besides, you don’t know the whole story! For all you know, your soul mate maybe spending time with this woman to do something for you! Or… or she could be a patient. Some people get really bad around the holidays, you know? So then maybe she’s just really depressed or something.”

“There is only one kind of house call Doc has ever made, and it didn’t include a lot of working!”

“Lucy,” he whined. “Please, please, please, please don’t go! Stay! For Serena, she’ll want to sneak in a few minutes with you around Christmas I know, and, and, you never know what else could popup, Lucy!”

She stood with her hands on her hips, glaring down at him. “And just what has gotten into you, Mr. Jolly-All-The-Time! What are you doing here anyway? If you don’t want to talk about Doc, what did you want to talk about?” Lucy started pacing while she talked, needing movement somehow.

What to talk about… Think, Rafe, think… “I kissed Alison again.” Ok, not the reason he came here, but talking about it might actually do some sort of good.

“You kissed, Alison? Alison?” Lucy paused for a second then crossed to him quickly. “As in Amanda Barrington’s granddaughter, the waitress at the Recovery Room, who has a boyfriend Alison?”

“Yeah…” he laughed nervously. “That’s the one.”

Her eyes widened. “What do you mean again?”

“Um… How many meanings are there for ‘again’ cause… I’m really only clear on one of them…”

“Again, as in this isn’t the first time?”

He shifted nervously, biting down on his lip and looking away. “Actually it’s the third.”

“You kissed Alison Barrington, who has a boyfriend, three times, and you are just now mentioning it to me?!”

“Hey! Hey! I tried to mention it before cause I like really needed to talk to someone about it, because I thought I had totally screwed everything up last time, you know, cause Jamal sort of walked in. But you were going on and on about Kevin cheating on you, which he wouldn’t do-”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, you just back it up there little mister! We’re not talking about Doc anymore! We’re talking about you smooching on some other guy’s girlfriend!”

Rafe sighed unhappily. Why, oh why did he bring this up? “It’s not like I planned it! She’s my friend, you know? And she’s a really beautiful girl, and I… I love spending time with her, or just being around her. I know that she loves Jamal! I know that she does! But… I couldn’t help it. It’s like she’s got this… pull on me or something, and even though I know, I know it’s a bad idea, I just can’t stop myself.”

“Well you better learn how, buddy! Do relationships mean nothing to men?” She paused for a second. “Don’t answer that. Just don’t. She has a boyfriend! You may not like it, Rafe, but you kind of have to accept that. You can’t kiss her while she’s dating someone else.”

“She kissed me.”

Lucy sat beside him. “What do you mean she kissed you?”

“She kissed me. I… She sort of talked me into helping her make cookies. I’m still not sure how I got sucked into that one… And it just… happened, you know? She kissed me! I knew that… That I should have just… But I couldn’t. It’s like I can’t say no to her, I don’t want to say no to her.”

“Rafe…”

“Alison is just this really amazing woman, you know? And I love spending time with her. She’s beautiful and caring, she’s got such a big heart, and… These eyes that can just suck me in and get me to do anything, you know? She’s… She’s a great friend, she… understands me. It’s just… I don’t know what to do around her sometimes, because it’s like I can’t control myself. I just… I knew not to kiss her, and I knew not to kiss her back, but I couldn’t help it. I just… She’s amazing.”

“Rafe, she has a boyfriend.”

“Jamal is a jerk. He treats her like a piece of property, he was talking about her being his like he owned her or something. He’s jealous of the fact that she spends time with me, and I guess he has a right to be considering the fact that he did walk in on us kissing once, but still… She feels so left out, and alone, and all I want to do is let her know someone cares. Jamal… he slept with his ex-girlfriend, and accuses her of cheating on him every time she turns around, but if he knew anything about her at all, he’d know that she would never, ever do that to him. Alison isn’t like that at all. And she’s just upset, and heartbroken over how he’s been acting. He blows her off or blows up at her, you know? His ex is even living with them now, she’s just always feeling shut out and…”

“And you don’t shut her out.”

“I’ve tried?” he offered. “I tried blowing her off, I tried avoiding her, I tried just flat out telling her it wasn’t a good idea for us to spend time with each other, because I know that she loves Jamal, and if he makes her happy…”

“But he doesn’t make her happy.”

Rafe couldn’t help the smile that formed, leaning forward, he put his elbows on his thighs, his hands were laced together between his knees, and when he turned back to her his expression had faded into the shadow of a smile. “She says I do. And I… I love being able to make her smile or laugh or just forget about everything that’s bad in her life, you know?”

“I… I think I’m like Jamal. I screwed up, and I know that I did, and I hurt Kevin, so now he can’t forgive me…”

“Alison forgave Jamal! That’s the whole thing! She just forgave him for sleeping with his ex, who, by the way, she can’t stand.” Rafe looked back at his hands. “Kevin forgave you too, Lucy. Sometimes you just have to forgive another person’s mistakes so that you can be happy.”

“Then why is Alison spending time with you and Kevin spending time with his new ‘patient’?”

“Lucy, you don’t know anything about what’s going on with Kevin and that woman. It… It’s not the same thing. Or you know, maybe it is! Alison spends time with me because… we’re friends, and it’s never going to go beyond that, I know it isn’t. She just likes to get away from it all sometimes, you know? And she seems to think that I make it all go away for a while.” Rafe shrugged his shoulders. “Alison… I know that Jamal makes her happy, and I know that she loves Jamal, and maybe she knows that I’m always going to try and push her back toward him, because seeing her smile is completely worth it.”

“You know what I think?”

“That I’m hopeless?” he sighed. “Why can’t Jamal just trust her? I… I’m not making moves, I’m not trying to take his place, I’m not trying to be anything more than a friend to her, because I care about her. But he can’t see it that way. He’s lost his faith in her, and he doesn’t trust her anymore. Even after all the times he’s given her reasons not to trust him, she still does.” Rafe lifted his eyes to lock them with hers, hoping to get his double meaning across. “She still has faith in him, and all she wants… All she needs is someone to still have faith in her.”

Lucy nodded. “I need to have faith in Doc again don’t I?”

“He still has faith in you.”

Sighing, Lucy put her chin in her hand. “You have faith in Alison.”

“Yeah,” he replied, shrugging again. “I have a lot of faith in her. And I know… I know that she’d never cheat on Jamal, I know that she loves him, and I know that she wants to have a perfect and happy life with him. But he makes it hard, so she comes to me, because it’s easy, you know? I don’t…demand that she be anything or feel any way but how she’s feeling, and she likes that, she needs that.”

“Everyone needs someone they can just be themselves around.”

“Exactly! And for Alison, right now, that person is me. And… for me it’s her. So we spend a lot of time together. It’s not like anything will ever happen.” He stood, a sudden urge to move had him pacing the same path Lucy had followed earlier. “I want her to be happy, and I don’t know how to make that happen. I don’t know how to get Jamal to see that nothing is going on between us but a friendship…”

“And the fact that you have kissed each other more than once.”

“But it’s not like that! She’s not like that. Alison was just.. confused. You know? Jamal accused her of being in love with me, and she’s just really hurt that he would think that about her. She… Alison loves him, she loves him, and he makes her happy when he isn’t acting like an idiot.”

Lucy smiled slyly. “I thought you said she told you that you make her happy.”

She did say that didn’t she? “Lately,” he shrugged. “I’m not acting like a possessive fool. Just a regular fool.”

“Yeah,” Lucy muttered. “You dear cousin, are acting like a fool in love.”

Rafe chuckled, and sat down beside her. “I… I’m not…”

“Don’t even bother to deny it. I know these things.”

He laughed, bitterly, and put his head in his hands. “I’m not that obvious am I?”

“Oh yeah… You are very obviously in love. I’ve noticed it. Jamal has probably noticed it, and before too long, Alison is going to start to notice it.”

“That can’t happen, Lucy,” Rafe whispered. “She… Alison can’t know how I feel about her. She can’t know that I’m in love with her.”

Her heart broke when his voice did.


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