All the King's Horses
Part I: Chapter 27

“Marry me.”

Breathing hard, Rafe put his forehead back against hers. Their eyes were locked, and he searched for what to say. Both were silently cursing the words for pulling him back to the real world, and both wanted desperately to still be lost in the thick haze of the fantasy life they’d just created. “Alison,” he started, her name barely a whisper as it poured from his lips.

God, even just her name sounded sexy and romantic and special when he said it. She struggled to get her breathing under control – not the easiest task while fighting the urge to kick, scream and cry. With tear filled eyes, Alison pulled back slightly and shook her head. Her shaky fingertip covered his lips and stopped the flow of words from his mouth before they could start. “Rafe,” she said softly, “please, don’t say it… I-I can’t hear you say it.”

He kissed the fingers that covered his lips then reluctantly pulled his hand away from her hip to take hers. “Alison,” he tried again.

“You love me,” she interrupted. “You love me, and I love you. You made me promise, Rafe… And I promised. I know. You told me, but you didn’t have to tell me because I can see it in your eyes, ok? I know. You love me, Rafe. You love me.”

“Of course I love you. It’s just that it’s-”

“Complicated,” Alison finished for him. “I know. But it doesn’t have to be.” Her lips pressed against his, and he gave into the kiss quicker than she thought he would. “It doesn’t have to be,” she repeated when she broke the kiss. Her lips brushed against his again before he could respond, then again and again and again… She loved kissing him, and he probably didn’t know that. Her tears were falling again, and she couldn’t stop them, couldn’t do anything more than brush her lips against his in a hopefully never ending series of gentle little kisses.

“Oh, honey,” he sighed, pulling back and wiping away her tears. “Don’t cry, Alison, please… Don’t cry because of me…”

Biting down on her bottom lip, she tried to stop the tears. “I love you.”

“I know,” he sighed again.

“And you love me.”

“More than anything, Alison.” Rafe pressed a kiss to her forehead and pulled her into an embrace before placing a kiss on the top of her head. God, they fit together so perfectly. “I love you more than anything,” he whispered into her hair. “But-”

“I know… I know,” she said, her voice muffled by his shirt. Alison fought off the tears, not pulling out of his arms even a little bit until she was sure she wouldn’t break down the moment her eyes met his. “It’s just-”

“I know.”

“I know.” Resting her chin on his chest she peered up at him and smiled though she still felt like crying. “I mean, I know that you know. Of course you do. You always seem to know what I mean, even if I don’t.”

“That’s becoming a popular phrase between us, you know. I know. Whatever that means. I don’t have a clue. I don’t know a damn thing, Alison.”

“I know,” she laughed. “Neither do I.”

His arms stayed locked around her, holding her to him while she held him to her. “I guess that’s not really true. I do know a few things. I know that I love you.” Rafe kissed her forehead. “I know that I love everything about you. I know that I want to just get lost in our dream world. I know that I want to get lost in you.”

“I wouldn’t stop you, you know.” Her tongue swept across her bottom lip, and she grinned when she could taste him there. “I know that I’d like that every bit as much as you would.”

Laughing lightly, he brushed feather light kisses on her face. Her eyes, her lips, her cheeks, her nose… “I know that I would love to stay like this forever.”

“I know that if I ever have to leave your arms it’ll be too soon.” Alison smiled sadly. “I know that I want you. And I know that I was right when I told you I can’t have what I want. I know that I… I can’t hear you say it, Rafe. Please, just don’t say it.”

“I don’t want to say it, Alison. I don’t want it to be true.” Resting his forehead back against hers, he sighed. “But that’s the way that it is.”

She bit down on her lower lip to keep it from trembling. “I know.”

“Don’t think that I don’t wish things were different,” he whispered, his thumb wiping away the tears that had started once again to fall. “Please don’t think for a second that I don’t wish…”

“I knew what I was getting into,” she murmured, trying to keep from sobbing. “I mean, I knew what was happening, and I tried so, so hard to fight it, but I couldn’t. I mean, you’d just give me that look, and I was pretty much hopeless. I knew that if I fell for you I was going to get hurt, and not because you tried to hurt me, or even because you didn’t feel the same way… I knew it couldn’t happen. I knew that nothing could happen. I knew that I was just… I was just being stupid to even dream that anything could happen between us. I went and fell for you anyway. And you know what, it’s really all your fault. You’re too… perfect not to fall for.”

Rafe sighed, wiping away her tears and trying to hold onto her despite knowing that he shouldn’t be anywhere near her. “Alison…”

Her lips pressed to his, stopping the words she knew he was going to say. “Don’t,” Alison ordered when she broke the kiss. “Just don’t say it.”

He brushed his lips across hers. “Ok, I won’t say it, honey, I promise I won’t say it.” Again he brushed his lips over hers. “I love you.”

“I love you too… So much, Rafe. I just… I love you too.”

“I know,” he smiled sadly, kissing her again.

Alison opened her mouth under his, inviting him in, not knowing when he’d let himself get this close to her again. Almost surprisingly, he took the invitation. His tongue swept past her lips, dancing in a slow and dangerous motion with hers. But God, he was being so damn tender with her. It was almost like he thought she was so precious that she’d break if his touch became any less light and careful.

She broke the kiss with a sigh, knowing that she couldn’t handle having him pull away from her. “I want our dream life, you know. I want to marry you and have children with you and… I want to be your wife. I’d really like that.”

“Yeah,” he smiled. “I’d like that too. It’s just… you know, the whole ‘til death do us part thing might be kinda tricky.”

Losing the battle against the urge to smile, Alison rolled her eyes. “Rafe,” she said, turning his name into some sort of warning.

“I’m just saying-”

“Yeah, I get what you’re just saying.” Her lips pressed against his quickly before she pulled back again. “Still, it’s not funny.”

“Ok,” he agreed with a smile.

“Jamal isn’t who fate picked out for me, Rafe,” Alison said suddenly.

“Ok,” the angel repeated.

“Why can’t it be you?”

“I have to go, Alison. I can’t stay. No matter how much I want to… I have to go.”

“I just… I don’t think it’s completely unreasonable to think that maybe fate brought you here to me, you know?” Her lower lip found it’s way between her teeth. “I mean, it’s not totally out of the question or anything, is it? That… you know, maybe you are my destiny.”

His thumb found it’s way to her lip again, stroking it gently until she released it. With a sigh he kissed the lip her teeth held only seconds before. “Alison,” he whispered finally, knowing she could feel her name as he said it against her lips. “I love you, you know. But-”

“Don’t,” she ordered. “No ‘buts’. Just… Listen, I’m not going to suggest we run off and get married anymore since you don’t seem to like the idea much-”

“You think I don’t like the idea of having you as my wife?” he asked, forcing her to pause.

“I think you’re scared of hurting me,” Alison answered after a moment. Her eyes raised to lock with his, and she took his hand in hers. “I think you hate the idea of hurting me. But you gotta know that I’m gonna hurt anyway, Rafe. It’s… You know that I love you. And it’s going to hurt like hell when you have to leave. Just… remember what I said, would you? I fell in love with you knowing that you couldn’t stay. I know that we… We can’t have a future. That doesn’t mean I have to like the fact, you know. I mean… It’s gonna hurt when you go. But when you’re here, I don’t hurt. I couldn’t hurt with you.”

“But the closer we are-”

“The harder it’s going to hit,” she finished for him. “Don’t you think that I know that, Rafe? I mean, I’m no genius, but don’t you think I know that much? It’s gonna hurt when you leave either way, Rafe. I just… I want what time I can have with you. Is that really so wrong?”

“No, honey, it’s not wrong. It’s just that… You’re right, I’m terrified of hurting you,” Rafe admitted softly. “The last thing I would ever want to do is hurt you, and I already have… Alison, I can’t… I hate to see you cry, especially because of something I did…”

“You already made it clear that if you could stay you would,” she said quickly, desperation sinking in. “You said that you’d stay if you could, but you can’t. You have to leave and it’s not your fault. It’s not something you have any control over, right? I mean… Right?”


“There. See? It’s nothing that you did, Rafe. Please, just… Neither of us have any control over the future, you know, nobody has control over their future. It’s not wrong to live for today, sometimes, is it?”

“Alison,” he sighed. “It’s not wrong to live for today. But it’s wrong of me to do this to you! I’m not going to… to just play with you like they all think I’m going to. I won’t hurt you like that, Alison. I won’t try to take this somewhere when there’s nowhere that it can go.”

“We have some time together, though, Rafe. Can’t we just… use it? I just… I want to have whatever I can with you, you know? I love you, and I’m going to hurt either way!”

Rafe pulled away from her, taking one step back, then another to put space between them. When he lifted a hand to run it over his face tiredly, she saw the way it trembled. “It’s not even eleven days,” he said after a moment, and both tried to ignore the way his voice shook.

“W-What do you mean? It’s… After Christmas right?”

“No, Alison. Midnight on Christmas Eve is when I have to go.”

“O-Oh,” she whispered, her voice trembling in time with the rest of her. God, why did she feel so cold now? “T-There’s still time, Rafe. I mean, it’s not a lot, but it’s time. We can spend the next ten days together. You know, you’re going to have a really hard time getting rid of me anyway!”

“I don’t want to get rid of you, Alison,” Rafe said, resisting the urge to take her back into his arms. “I would never, never want to get rid of you. You know that don’t you?”

“Y-Yeah… I know that you wouldn’t want to get rid of me.” Her knees were shaking, and she knew she had to sit soon or she’s fall. Two steps back and she sat on the bed in defeat. “But you’d try to get rid of me anyway if… if you thought that’s what was best. If you actually thought it’d hurt me less.”

“Would it?”

“No! No, no, no, Rafe, it wouldn’t. God, don’t you know that it would just make things so much worse if you pushed me away? If you acted like you didn’t want me? I… I won’t be able to deal with you trying to pretend that you don’t feel the same way about me as I feel about you, you know.”

“It’s ten days, Alison. Then I’m gone. I won’t… I won’t do that to you. I mean, I won’t push you away. I don’t want to push you away. So we… We can fix it, somehow… We can still hang out, we can still be friends, it can be like it was yesterday!”

“Like it was yesterday? We actually have to settle for going back now?” Alison put her face in her hands and laughed bitterly. “Why the hell does fate have to be so damn cruel? I mean, really? Is this the universe’s idea of a sick joke?” Without warning, her shoulders were shaking with sobs. “I just want to be with you.”

He was standing in front of her with two steps, taking her hand away from her face to hold it in his. “Alison,” he whispered, taking her other hand as well. “Look at me,” he pleaded.

Reluctantly, she raised her tear filled eyes to his. Her tongue swept across her bottom lip, tasting the salt of her tears instead of him this time. And she tried to choke back the sobs, knowing he hated to see her cry. “I just want to be with you, Rafe.”

Take another tiny step forward, he released her hands to hug her. His fingers lost themselves in her hair when she pressed her face into his stomach and cried, and he did the best he could to comfort her. One hand ran soothingly along her back, the other tangled in her hair, enjoying the silky feel of her far too much. He didn’t know how long he stood there with her that way, he just knew that it took a while for her sobs to even die down slightly.

“I hate that you’re crying because of me,” he whispered, releasing her hair to touch her damp jaw. “I hate that you’re hurting because of me, Alison.”

“I just want to be with you,” Alison repeated again, her voice once again muffled by his shirt. “I don’t… You feel bad, and you shouldn’t, you know?” With a shaky sigh, she pulled back enough to look up at him. Tears were still falling from her eyes at a steady, but slower pace. “We love each other, and we want the same things… We have it all, Rafe. It should be simple. It should be easy. We should be allowed to be together.”

He crouched down in front of her, resting his hand on her knee a moment before he took both her hands in his again. Rafe placed a series of soft kisses along her hands before looking up at her. When their eyes met, she saw that he was battling back his own tears. “But it’s not going to work that way, Alison. Nothing is ever easy, nothing. A-And… this isn’t any different. Me and you… It just… I can’t let you keep hurting because of me, Alison. I can’t.”

“You don’t get a say in the matter,” she whispered, her voice thick and raw with tears both shed and still fighting to have their way with her. “I’m going to hurt when you leave, and I’m going to hurt when you try and push me away. And you can’t change that, Rafe. Hell, I can’t change that. Stop trying so hard to protect me from you.”

“I don’t have to like it, Alison. I know that I can’t tell you how to feel. But I don’t have to like that you’re upset because of me.”

Alison just nodded and tried to force a smile without much luck. “But you have to accept it. Just like I have to accept that you have to go. You don’t have any say in it.”

“There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do,” he whispered, his voice cracking. A single tear escaped him, and she pulled her hand from his to brush it away with a whisper of a touch. “You know that don’t you, Alison? You know that there is nothing I wouldn’t do to change things.”

“I know.” Her hand covered his. “I know that, Rafe.”

“But there’s nothing that I can do, Alison. So… we’re stuck. We’re just stuck in this damn situation, and there’s no right or wrong or easy way out. We’re just… stuck.”

“You won’t let it go any further, will you?”

“I can’t hurt you like that, Alison.”

“So… we’re stuck,” she whispered sadly. “We’re stuck right back where we were yesterday, right? Friends who both want so much more and can’t have it? It doesn’t matter that I love you or that you love me, or that we could be amazing together? We’re just stuck trying to pretend we both aren’t going to be heartbroken when it has it end, and we’re both stuck just… knowing that it has to end?”

“Yeah,” he nodded. “And we don’t have to like it.”

“But we have to just accept it?”

“Yeah, we do. There’s nothing we can do to change it, Alison. It’s… It’s just the way things are.”

She nodded sadly, pulling her hand from on top of his to wipe her eyes with the back of it. “I hate the way things are.”

“So do I, honey,” he whispered sadly. “So do I.”

“The way things are sucks.”

Laughing softly, Rafe nodded again. “Yeah… Yeah, they do suck.”

Her smile was wobbly as she touched trembling fingers to his cheek. “I just… I wish we could just have our dream life, you know? I wish we could have stayed lost there for so much longer than we did… I wish we could have it all. The marriage, the relationship, the children, the family… eternity.”

“So do I, Alison. I wish the same things, and I feel the same way. I know how you feel. I just… There’s nothing we can do, honey.”

“I just…” She sighed softly, wet her lips and nearly winced at the taste of her tears. “Don’t you think that if we ever could have a daughter she would have looked like Destiny?”

“Yeah.” He tilted his head slightly in thought. “Exactly like her.” Rafe stood quickly and pressed his lips to hers. “I have to go,” he whispered when he pulled back.

“I wish you could stay, though,” she sighed.

“No, Alison, I need to go now. I need to see… someone.”

“Oh… Ok… Y-You’ll come back, right?”

“Of course.”

“And you aren’t going to try and avoid me or anything?”

“Not a chance,” he answered with a smile. “You’re stuck with me until I’m gone for good.”

“Good.” Alison tried to force a smile, and hated that it didn’t even convince her. “I do like the idea of being stuck with you.”

“It is a pretty good idea.” Reluctantly, he released her hand and took a step away. “It’ll probably be tomorrow before I see you.”

“Ok. Um… I think I’m working tomorrow night. You know, if we don’t see each other sooner. Promise that you aren’t going to try and pull that disappearing act again?”

“I promise.” He took another step back before he shook his head in defeat and closed the space between them to kiss her once more. “Ok,” he said, backing up quickly the minute he broke the kiss. “Now, I really am leaving this time. I’ll see you later.”

“Yeah, I’ll see you later. And if you don’t find me, don’t think I won’t find you.”

“I’ll find you as soon as I can,” Rafe promised, finally walking out of the bedroom and grabbing his coat from the chair he’d dropped it in. When he glanced back at her, he swore silently at the site of her watching him with tear filled eyes. “I love you.”

“Yeah… I love you too.”

He nodded. “I know.” With that, he turned toward the door once more, knowing that if he didn’t leave soon he wouldn’t.

“Rafe,” Alison said quickly, scrambling to get to him before he left. “I… I just…” When she reached him, she kissed him again. “It… It was a good dream. Wasn’t it?”

He was frozen in place, knowing that if he moved it would be to pull her back into his arms. “The best.”

“Yeah,” she nodded. “The best.” Alison sighed, cursing softly at the tears that were falling from her eyes. “Go.”

“I’m going,” Rafe answered, not moving.

“Go,” she said again. “But, you know, j-just make sure you come back.”

“I will,” he answered, walking out the door before his own tears could fall in front of her. He shut the door and leaned back against it. The sound of her sobbing hit his ears, and with a curse, and a swipe of his hand across his eyes he shook his head and walked away.

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