Falling
Destiny, Roses & Romance
Part II: Chapter 33

“… So basically it’s not written in stone, kid. Your cousin, Lucy, also has a point, sometimes you just have to grab the reigns and steer fate wherever you want it to go.”

Rafe sighed and blinked his eyes open. Shaking his head, he glanced at his watch. “Wow, Ed, two hours to avoid a question. That’s got to be a record, even for you.”

“Your sarcasm does not please me, my son,” the older angel muttered, fighting a smile.

Rolling his eyes, he laughed lightly at the attempt to joke. “Boss, if you don’t mind, I’d kind of like to get back to see Alison sometime this… oh, I don’t know, eternity, maybe.”

“My, my, my, my boy, it is becoming clear to me that a certain someone rubbed off on you during your lifetime after all…”

“Ed,” Rafe said, his tone taking on something that bordered on being either a threat or a warning. And maybe just a dash of whining for good measure.

“Which is really much better than you rubbing off on her,” Ed continued as if he hadn’t even spoken. “Although I get the sneaking suspicion that happened as well. She was right about you, you know. You really are impossible to deal with sometimes, kid. I have a whole new respect for the girl,” the older angel stated, rolling his eyes. “I don’t know why she put up with you for so long, Rafe, my boy.”

“She loved me,” Rafe replied, shrugging his shoulders and fighting a smile. “If you’ll remember, I put up with her. And, please, it’s not like you didn’t think she was perfect anyway. You’ve always been convinced that she could do no wrong.”

“I never said she was perfect! She does have her flaws… However few and far between as they may be.” A smile tugged at his lips for a second before he gave in and allowed it to show. “Of course, if that were true, then she got it from me.”

“You’re forgetting that her mother is the perfect one. And you are the one that keeps telling me that,” he smirked, rolling his eyes. “You gonna answer my question any time this century?”

“Not if I can help it.”

“Ed!”

Chuckling, Ed shrugged his shoulders then shook his head. “I’m impressed that you figured it out so quickly. The way Nadia always ranted on about you I was sure that it would take you a lot longer to catch on.”

“But it didn’t,” Rafe smiled. “So why don’t you tell me what you’re up to?”

“Who says I’m up to anything,” he asked innocently. His shoulders rose and fell on a sigh when a glare was shot his way. “Look, kid, I just told you, fate isn’t etched in stone. I don’t know what’s going to happen with your girl five minutes from now, and even if I did I couldn’t tell you because you’re too close. I just thought that you and the pretty blond needed a little bit of a wake up call. If it happened to come in the form of a little girl that looked just like the two of you and was named Destiny then so be it.”

“A wake up call to what, Ed? The fact that we’re in love with each other?” Crossing his arms again, Rafe sighed unhappily. “Considering the way that things are, don’t you think it would have been better to just keep that one under wraps?”

“No,” he drawled, letting a little exasperation slip into his voice. “I don’t think that at all. If I’ve learned one thing about you, son, I’ve learned that you are horrible to have to be near when you’re miserable. And you would have been nothing short of miserable if you’d lost your chance to tell your girl what’s going on in that soft heart of yours.”

“Ed,” he muttered, shaking his head. “I think we’re both pretty much going to be nothing short of miserable after it’s over and done anyway.”

“That may be true, but at least you won’t have to be miserable and wonder if there was a chance she felt the same way about you. Just remember that Ed knows best, ok, kid?”

Rafe started drumming his fingers unhappily as he tried to control his temper. “You really don’t,” he snapped finally. “She was crying, because she dreamed about us having children and I had to tell her that it wasn’t going to happen.”

“You didn’t have to tell her that.”

“Ed!”

“Ok, ok, sheesh, so maybe I went a little too far and her imagination got a little too carried away. But really, this whole nothing-can-happen idea is entirely yours. Last I checked you had ten more days to soak up what time you could with her.”

“I’ve never been the love ‘em and leave ‘em type, Ed, you know that as well as anyone. What makes you think I’d do that to her? I’m not my father!”

“This much I know. And you can’t begin to imagine how happy I am about that fact, my boy. You can’t being to imagine how happy your aunt and my daughter are and always have been about that fact. But you can’t base every decision on the fear of hurting someone or getting hurt. I thought Nadia taught you that much while you were alive.” Ed shifted his weight, leaning forward in his chair. “Sometimes you have to take risks.”

“She doesn’t. Not anymore.”

“That’s right!” Nodding, Ed pointed at him before leaning back once again. “That’s right. And she’s a shell of herself because of it. She’s so wrapped up in hurt over losing you and blaming herself for not getting there two seconds sooner that she’s lost more than even she knows. All those risks she took, no matter how many times she’s been burned, she still put her heart out on the line, and it never mattered who thought it was wrong or right. You could have learned a lot more from her than you did.”

“She shouldn’t blame herself,” Rafe sighed. “All she did was love him.”

“But she loved you more. Losing you… She lost a part of herself, you know. You can still see it if you ever look in on her. People always said you and Ela were the other halves of each other, but you were always a much bigger part of her than your sister. And no matter what was going on in anyone’s life, she put you first. She loved you more.”

“Elso jön családom,” he muttered under his breath. He inhaled sharply as the sound of her voice entered and echoed in his mind. Rafe stood quickly, pacing in front of the desk as he fought to pull his mind back to here and now. “I’ve never been given a choice,” he snapped after another moment of silence. “I didn’t get to choose staying or going. I’ve never had the choice, Ed!”

“Kid,” he groaned. Tiredly running a hand over his face, he found himself oddly regretful for bringing up the topic. “You had a choice. From the moment you learned to speak, the choice was yours. All you had to do was say no. No one forced you into that life, and no one forced you into the afterlife.”

“You think I wanted to leave her? Knowing her as well as I do… As well as I did, Ed, you think I didn’t know that she’d blame herself if anything happened to me? You think I want to leave Alison ten days from now? Really, tell me where I have a choice when it comes to leaving her!” Turning quickly on his heel, Rafe put his palms flat on the smooth surface of the desk and leaned his weight forward. His voice dropped to a thick, emotion clogged whisper as he stared at his hands, unable to meet the eyes of his mentor of the last ten years. “I don’t have a choice, Ed. Once again, I’m just forced to follow the path that was chosen for me.”

“You always have a choice, son.”

“I know what you’re getting at-”

“Then what’s stopping you?”

Bitter laughter filled the room, and the anger, fear and sadness that were rolling off of him in waves threatened to take over for just a moment before he shook them from his head and took a step back. When he met the older angel’s eyes, he did so not caring that every emotion whirling around inside of him could be seen. “I’d still have to leave her.”

“Sometimes, kid, you have to settle. Often times, you’re in a take what you can get situation, and this is one of them. Do you really want to spend the rest of eternity playing the what if game?”

“I’ve never been afraid to take risks, Ed. You know that as well as anyone. But, sometimes, there’s a fine line between taking a risk and doing something stupid.”

“And, boy, do you line to straddle that line,” he muttered with a knowing smile.

“I fell for her,” he said, nodding in agreement. Rafe sighed and sat back down. “It was stupid. I shouldn’t have done it, but it was worth it. Just… Just being near her, Ed, it was worth the risk. But you know me. I’ll take risks, but the second rule… I won’t risk hurting her even more.”

“Don’t you think I know the rules, kid? You’re damn lucky I wasn’t the one teaching you the rules.” Ed shook his head, glaring until the kid relaxed just a little. “Sometimes, there’s something to be said for breaking the rules. You used to love to do it when you were just tiny. Before you let the family take you over.”

“The family didn’t take me over, Ed,” Rafe muttered, shaking his head sadly as he settled back into the chair. “The girls came first. Elso jön családom,” he repeated. “First comes my family. That doesn’t mean I let them take me over. I put their safety and happiness first, before some age old debt, and before duty, or honor. Did that make me a bad person? Obviously not, because I’m here. You’re so damn fond of your rule book, and you’re telling me to take risks and break the rules, but you… You’re forgetting that I’ve been the one that held her while she cried.”

“Which one are we talking about here?”

“Either or,” he replied, shrugging his shoulders before crossing his arms over his chest. “It doesn’t really matter now, does it?”

“Look, kiddo, I’m just trying to tell you that sometimes it’s worth the risk. You never know when something… You never know when it’ll work. There’s always the chance that you were the one man made just for her. Destiny likes to surprise everyone from time to time.”

“I’ve held her while she cried, Ed. I’ve wiped away her tears, and I’ve trying to calm her down when everything got to be too much for her. I’ve seen her in pain, I’ve even tried to help make it better once or twice. I won’t… I can’t go into something knowing that I’m leaving. I won’t hurt her that way. I can’t hurt her that way. I’d sell my soul before I did anything that I even thought would cause her an ounce of pain. As it is, I’m hurting her so much… And it tears at me to do it, but… I love her.”

“So then if you love her…” he trailed off, waving his hand to get his point across.

“You love your wife enough to spend eternity with her, Ed. Are you telling me that you don’t love her enough to walk away if it meant that she’d hurt less in the end?”

“Point taken.” Crossing his own arms in front of him, Ed leaned back in his chair and studied the younger version of a man he used to know so well. “Your father was a screw-up, kid. Don’t get me wrong, I love my brother, but he was always a screw-up. And as many siblings as we had it’s always been baffling to me that he ended up having all the best under his roof.”

Unhappiness oozed from every fiber of him, and he knew it didn’t go unnoticed. He looked away, his eyes finding the white wall above his superior’s head. “Is there a point to this trip down Memory Lane, or do you just think we need the exercise?”

“Don’t I always have a point?” he asked, raising an eyebrow in question.

“Well obviously that’s debatable.”

“My point is,” Ed said, choosing to ignore the bait that was being set before him. “He was an idiot, and he hurt your mother. He broke the one rule we don’t break, and you are going to spend the rest of eternity with a grudge against him because of it. But he was proud of you. He was proud of the man you were, he’s probably burning in hell proud of the man that you are. He was proud of you, of everything you accomplished and everything you should have been able to accomplish. And I’m still in shock that he had a hand in raising you or my daughter at all. Because you and the girls – even Ela – are the only thing that he ever did right in his life.”

“Ed-”

“No, no.” He held up a hand to block anything further from being said. “Let me finish.” He waited until Rafe nodded before he continued. “You have a good heart, and a good soul. You aren’t going to become my screw-up brother, you couldn’t if you tried because deep down, you’ve always been what your aunt calls a tender soul. I know that you don’t want to hurt Alison, and I’m proud of the sacrifices that I know you’re making by letting her go. But – and this is the big one – life isn’t fair. It wasn’t fair that you were taken so soon, and it’s not fair that you have this chance at happiness placed in your lap only to know that you’re going to be yanked away from it. Your girl is going to hurt either way, Rafe, even after she eventually moves on just a little from the pain of losing you. She’s going to be hurt, because life is a very painful thing, son. And you of all people should know that considering the life that you led and the darkness that surrounded you. You have to wonder if she is really going to be better off always wondering what if.”

“Don’t you think I have wondered that?” Rafe asked softly. “Don’t you think I’ve been selfish enough to think about just taking her to bed and being done with it? I don’t love her halfway, Ed. I love her too much to take the risk with her heart.”

Ed nodded, knowing he wasn’t going to get anywhere and accepting defeat. “Then go back to your girl, Rafe, my boy. Just hold her a little tighter, because you don’t know how much you’re going to miss the feeling of her in your arms.”

Standing once more, Rafe nodded back. “Yeah, I think I do know.” He turned to go, and paused inside of the doorway, turning when he heard his name being called.

“If I didn’t mention it before, I’m proud of you, too, son. And you deserved a lot better than what life gave you.”

“Thanks.” He turned, starting to leave once more before he turned again. “And you were wrong.” He smiled at the look of confusion that passed the other angel’s face. “We weren’t lucky that you weren’t the one teaching us the rules.”

“It’s a good thing you’re more like me than your father.” Smiling, Ed stood and waved his hand in dismissal. “Now get out of here!”

“Whatever you say. See ya, boss.”


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