Falling
Destiny, Roses & Romance
Part II: Chapter 41

They were both laughing as they stepped out of the diner, bundled in their coats to fight off the cold. The chill in the air sent a shiver through Alison and she grabbed a hold of his hand, needing to touch him more than she needed to breathe at the moment. It was a good thing too. He spun her around in a circle in front of him, breaking the short spell of silence by laughing as she started to giggle, then pulling her back to him, needing to have her close for what they both knew eventually had to come. Once more she landed again his chest, locked into his eyes, with their laughter surrounding them like a blanket. And breathing was suddenly very, very overrated for them both.

“I love you, Alison Barrington,” he murmured with a smile as he pushed her hair away from her face. She continued to giggle, and before he could stop himself he was chuckling again as well. Her laughter was contagious, and her happiness was, without a doubt the single most beautiful thing he’d ever been blessed enough to lay his eyes upon in heaven or earth. “I love you,” he repeated, the laughter still edging his voice as he brushed his lips against hers.

“I love you, too,” she whispered in reply, her arms winding themselves around him to hold him as close as possible. Alison’s laughter faded as he barely brushed her lips with his once more. There was still the sinking fear of him answering her half teasing question in the pit of her stomach, because she knew without a doubt what his answer would be.

Rafe kissed her again, wishing he could ease the nervousness and fear of rejection that he saw in her eyes, but knowing that he couldn’t. All he could do right now, all he ever wanted to do, was kiss her. So he did. Again and again. Gentle little kisses that were so feather light they were barely even there. He sighed as she released his waist to bring up a hand to his, her fingers curled around his wrist, keeping his hand on her face as she turned just slightly so that his lips hit the corner of her mouth instead. “I’m sorry.”

Her tongue swept across her bottom lip and she looked away as tears filled her eyes without her permission. “It’s not your fault, Rafe. You just… I know that if you could make things different that you would. I know that you want… Destiny and all of that almost as much as I do. I know that it can’t happen. And I know that you’re just looking out for me. But didn’t we decide that I don’t have to like it?”

“Yeah… We did decide that. Neither one of us have to like it, but that’s the way that things are. Even… Alison, even if I wasn’t so completely terrified of hurting you… Kids aren’t exactly an option, I’m pretty sure that they take care of that.” He tucked her hair behind her ear once more before taking her other hand as well. “I’m sorry that I can’t make all your dreams come true, Alison. Because I promise you there is nothing that I want more.”

“It’s not your fault,” she repeated again. “I just… I guess I was just hoping, you know? I’d really like to be a mother. And I’d really love to carry your child inside of me. To have a part of you with me forever and always… I didn’t ever really think it could happen. So I don’t guess that I actually have a right to be disappointed.”

“You have the right to feel however you feel, Alison. I’m not going to tell you that you’re wrong for it.” Smiling slightly, he kissed her again. “You ready to go?”

Alison nodded and started walking only to have him stay standing still. “What?”

“I had a different idea.” He squeezed her hand slightly, then tugged her toward him gently. When she was beside him once more he couldn’t help but smile down at her. “I take it that you never made it back to see all the kids yesterday?”

She shook her head and smiled back at him, almost amazed that he knew her so well. Almost. Somehow she was beginning to get used to it. “We’re going to the hospital?”

“If that’s alright with you,” Rafe replied, nodding. “It made you smile, and I think that right now you need to smile.” He ran the pad of his thumb across her bottom lip like he’d been longing to do since yesterday afternoon. “Have I mentioned that I love your smile?”

Shrugging her shoulders, she flashed him a grin and started walking in the direction of the hospital. “Maybe not today… I am fairly certain that it was mentioned yesterday though. But, you know, you can tell me that as many times as you like.”

“That is very good to know,” Rafe chuckled, nearly pulling her back to him again for another kiss before he realized that they were in the middle of the street. His steps sped up, and the moment they were on the sidewalk again his lips were back on hers. “Sorry, I had to do that,” he explained with a smile when he forced himself to break the kiss.

“I’m not complaining,” Alison sighed, allowing him to pull away from her, but keeping his hand in hers. “I missed you, you know. Just in case I haven’t said that enough.”

His thumb brushed across her cheek as both their smiles turned bittersweet in the same instant. “I missed you too, Alison.” Rafe darted his eyes to the hospital, then back to the woman in front of him. “And I’m going to miss you,” he added softly.

“Oh, well, back at you,” she said as she smiled shyly. Her eyes cast downward, and she was yearning to be back in his arms again. “It’s just… Will you promise me something?”

“Anything.”

She met his gaze, more than just a little surprised to find that they screamed that what he had just said was nothing but the absolute truth. “Do you promise that we’ll at least get to really say goodbye? I mean, no just walking out the door and never coming back, ok?”

“I- That’s… You were afraid that’s what was going to happen yesterday?” Groaning, he took a step toward her releasing her hand in order to cup her face. “Oh, honey,” he sighed, brushing his lips against hers gently. “I’m so sorry about that, I didn’t mean to scare you, or hurt you. It was just that I realized something and had to talk to Ed, my boss, about it right away.” Her eyes pulled away from him, and he pressed a kiss onto her forehead. “But hey, listen to me, I promise, ok? I promise you that I’ll say goodbye to you. I’m not going to tell you that I’ll see you later and then just disappear. I couldn’t stand myself if I did that to you, Alison. I promise that we’ll get to say goodbye.”

Nodding in acceptance, Alison smiled slightly, obviously unhappy about the knowledge that he was leaving her at all. “Thank you,” she whispered softly. Standing on her tip toes, to press her lips to his briefly. When she was once again flat on her feet, she opened her eyes, and this time really smiled at her angel as she held up her hand and wiggled her fingers to get him to take it. “Let’s go see if we can’t read a few bedtime stories.”

“Sounds like a pretty good time to me,” he laughed, finally releasing her only to take her hand as they started walking toward the entrance. “You know that Destiny isn’t going to be here, right? I mean, I know you wanted to see her again, but she’s…”

“Home. Right. I know that.” She looked at him strangely as she stepped through the door he held open for her. “She was only staying the night because she had a slight concussion from when she fell ice skating. It was pretty silly of me to think she’d even be here yesterday afternoon.” Tilting her head slightly, Alison pressed the call button for the elevator before looking back at him with a smile. “She told me that her brother was there because he’d broken his arm and hit his head too? I guess that was her twin, right?”

“Right,” he nodded, stepping into the car in step with her and pressing the button for the children’s ward. “I just thought you should know that they won’t be here.”

“Ok.” Leaning against him, Alison closed her eyes and giggled lightly. “She told me that their mother said they got their grace on the ice from their father.”

Rolling his eyes, Rafe chuckled with her. “I’m sure that they did.”

“Rafe? Is there something you’re not telling me? I mean… I knew Destiny and her brother were going home yesterday, and you knew that I knew that…” Opening her eyes, she pulled away from him slightly as the elevator stopped on their floor. The doors opened, but she made no move to get off as she looked up at him. “So why bring it up?”

“I- I just don’t want to see you disappointed, that’s all.”

Questions were burning the tip of her tongue as he fidgeted, obviously lying to her and uncomfortable with it, but before she could ask any of them, he was holding open the doors so and letting go of her hand to place his palm on the small of her back to guide her. “Visiting hours may be over,” she said instead, making a note to investigate the topic more later. “But we can still like read stories and stuff. Some of the younger kids are probably supposed to be sleeping about now. It’s been a while since I volunteered here, so I’ve kind of forgotten the rules. Is that alright with you?”

He stopped half way to the nurse’s desk, and she turned around to see why. Rafe just smiled and shrugged. “As long at it makes you smile, Alison. That’s the most important thing to me right now. Making you smile and laugh and seeing you happy.”

“Rafe,” she whined lightly, the lightest of a blush beginning to form on her cheeks.

Fighting back the urge to laugh, he stepped closer and leaned down slightly to whisper into her ear. “Because I love you. And I love your smile.”


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