Falling
Destiny, Roses & Romance
Part II: Chapter 42

"Did they live happily ever after?"

"What do you think?" he asked, dimples flashing as he smiled at the redhead in front of him. Pushing her curls away from her face, he couldn't help but grin even wider as her eyelids dropped then opened again quickly.

"I think…" she sighed, her brow furrowing as she thought about the question a moment longer. Wiggling, she pulled the worn teddy bear closer to her. "Yes."

"Yes?" Rafe pulled the pink blanket up to cover her a little more and tucked it in around her just a little tighter, making sure that her arms were free and her IV undisturbed. "Why yes?"

"Because they always live happily ever after," she giggled, rolling her eyes in a move the clearly showed just how ridiculous she thought the question was. "Don't you know the story?"

"Ummm… Which story should I know?"

"Any of 'em!"

"Any of 'em?" Rafe repeated, trying not to let the smile that was fighting to form show. "I know lots of 'em! I bet I know some that not even you know."

Again she giggled, and her eyes closed for just a moment longer. "No, you don't," the little girl said, laughter filling her voice. "You didn't even know that Cinderella lived happily ever after!"

"I did so! I just wanted to see if you knew, silly."

"I know all the stories!"

"All of them?" he asked, wonder lacing his tone as he grinned again when she closed her eyes. "I don't think so! Do you know… 'Little Red Riding Hood'?"

"Yup!" Becki smiled proudly and opened her eyes to nod her head. "And I know 'The Three Little Bears' and 'Sleeping Beauty' and 'Little Mermaid' and…"

"And?" he prompted as she trailed off.

"And all the others, silly!"

Alison leaned against the doorway, watching as he once again pushed the dark red curls away from the little girl's face. A smile played on her lips as she found herself rooted in place, mesmerized by his gentleness with the four year old that was fighting her sleep. His quiet laughter and tender, soothing voice filled the room as he started to list fairytales and Disney movies while counting on his fingers and continuing to look more amazed as she nodded to each one.

"Well, Miss Becki Faye," Rafe said a moment later. "I think you really may just know every single one of 'em!" Throwing his hands up in mock defeat, he couldn't help the smile that formed as she once again giggled. Another laugh joined hers, and he turned in his seat to see Alison standing there. "Maybe she should tell us a bedtime story!"

"No, silly," Rebecca laughed again. "You're 'posed to tell me a story."

"Well," Alison said, a smile still lighting her face as she walked into the room and stood beside Rafe, her hand landing on his shoulder. "Do you know the one about the angel?"

"The angel?" she asked, her interest obviously peeked.

"Uh huh. An angel that came down from Heaven to make people smile again. Do you know that one?"

"Nope." Becki shook her head, sending curls flying, then settled back down again. "Will you tell it to me, please?"

"Of course." Alison grinned as she leaned over to pull up the blanket on the little girl once more. "See, once upon a time there were a lot of people that were angry and upset and hurt. They'd lost all their friends, and they didn't trust each other anymore."

"Why?"

"Because the monster made them think that they couldn't," Rafe answered, his hand settling on Alison's hip. Smiling up at her quickly, he pulled her into his lap.

"There's a monster?"

"There was a monster," Alison answered, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. "And the people got rid of him once, but he came back again. This time when he came back, he made people even sadder than before. For a while, they all forgot how to smile!"

"They didn't know how to smile?"

"Not for a little while. But then God sent down an angel to help them." Her smile was sweet as she glanced at Rafe, knowing that he was watching her as she spoke. The feeling of his eyes on her sent a shiver of awareness down her spine, and his arm wrapped around her tighter in response.

"The angel came down from Heaven?"

"Yup. And he helped get rid of the monster once and for all. But even though the monster was gone, people were still really sad because of the things that he did. So God asked that the angel stay just a little while longer so that he could help everyone that was still hurt because of something that the monster did. The angel was sent to make everyone happy again."

"Did he?"

"Uh huh," she nodded. "He spread his magic love dust-"

"There was no magic love dust!" Rafe interrupted, poking her playfully in the side.

"Who is telling this story?" Alison bit her lip against her laughter and turned back to the little girl before continuing. "Anyway, he spread his magic love dust around and made people see that they could still be with the person that they loved. And all these people started to smile again, even more than they had before."

"Because of the love dust?"

"No. Because the angel showed people his magic and his light and made them see that everything is beautiful. He made everything seem like a little miracle right in the palm of his hand. All the people started to see that life was a miracle and love was the very greatest thing ever. And when he was around, one girl couldn't help but always want to smile."

"Why?"

"Because she loved him," Alison answered simply, glancing at her angel quickly before going on. "She loved him whole bunches."

"Did she know he was an angel?"

"Uh huh. She did know that he was an angel. And she knew that he had to go back up to Heaven soon. But she loved him anyway. And she smiled lots when he was around. She started to think that maybe he was her very own little miracle."

"Did the angel love her?"

"Yes, he did," Rafe stated simply, his eyes never leaving the woman that owned his heart.

"Was she a princess? Cause there's always a princess in the stories."

"No, she wasn't a princess." Alison entwined her hand with his, her eyes focusing only on the way that Becki's eyes closed for longer and longer each time she blinked. A smile graced her lips as she shook her head slightly and forced herself to continue. "When she was a little girl, she'd use to dream that she was a princess. But she was just a regular girl. And she couldn't figure out why this angel loved her."

"Was she beautiful?" Becki yawned, forcing her eyes open again.

"The most beautiful girl the angel had ever seen," Rafe said, grinning wider as Alison started to blush at the compliment. "She was more beautiful than anyone or anything he'd seen before. Not even Heaven could compare. But that wasn't why he loved her."

"Why did he love her?"

"Because she was everything that he'd ever dreamed of and never got to have while he was alive. And because she was amazing and she made him laugh and smile. And because when he looked at her the rest of the world could disappear and he wouldn't know it at all."

"Why did the girl love him?"

"For lots of reasons," Alison said, blinking away tears as she turned back to the little girl who didn't even bother to open her eyes that time. "For all of the same reasons that he loved her. And because he always made everything better for her. She loved him because he was a very handsome angel that sometimes she thought was sent down to earth just so she could love forever and always. She loved that sometimes when he was around she had to remind herself to breathe because he took her breath away. But most of all she loved him because he made her feel like the princess that she used to dream about being."

Shifting on his lap, Alison leaned her back against his chest and her forehead against his temple as they watched in silence for a few minutes as Becki fought to open her eyes and lost. "She didn't want to love him at first, because she knew that he had to go back up to heaven, but she couldn't help it. Eventually," she sighed, her eyes on his face. "She just couldn't fight it anymore though. Because they were meant to be in love. They were meant to be everything to each other."

Rafe tapped her hip with his free hand, and she pulled away just a little to nod. Quietly Alison stood, her hand clutching his as he got up as well. Before they could make it further away than the foot of the hospital bed though they found themselves wrapped back up in each other.

He wrapped his arms around her, holding her against him. She wrapped her arms around his, smiling and glancing at him from the corner of her eye when he hunched down to put his chin on her shoulder. "Have I mentioned that you're going to make a great mother someday?" Rafe whispered softly.

"Rafe?"

Both sets of eyes turned back to the sleepy voice, and couldn't help but smile as the little body snuggled closer to her teddy bear. "Yeah?" he asked after a second longer.

"Did they live happily ever after?"

Pulling away from Alison he walked softly back toward the little girl. Tucking her blanket in around her a final time, Rafe sighed. His fingers gently pushed her hair from her eyes again and he couldn't help but smile as her breathing evened once more. Turning back to see if Alison could give him some idea of what to do he found that she had left the small hospital room.

Shaking his head, he bent down slightly. "What do you think, Miss Becki Faye?" he whispered, dropping a kiss on top of her head before walking toward the door. Smiling softly, he said a muted goodnight as he glanced over his shoulder before leaving.

"You're great with her," Alison whispered, her eyes focusing the floor as she attempted to force away the tears that had burned her eyes at the innocent question of a sleeping child. "You're great with all of them, Rafe."

Sighing, he took her hand, brushing kissing along her knuckles until her eyes met his. He smiled as he teasingly whispered his reply, "Maybe it's the magic love dust."

Giggling lightly, Alison shook her head. "It's not fair, Rafe," she muttered sadly.

"Life isn't fair, honey."

"And the afterlife?"

"Even less fair."

"That sucks."

Laughing, Rafe nodded. "Pretty much, yeah. It does. But there is nothing that we can do about it. There's nothing that anyone can do because that's the way that things are." With a sigh, he brushed away the stray tear that escaped from her eye. "Don't… Alison…"

"You would've made a great father," she said on a shaky sigh. "And a more than amazing husband."

"I guess we'll never know."

"It's not fair."

"Now that I know." Rafe squeezed her hand slightly before releasing it. "Come on, let's go. You look tired. Did you sleep at all last night?"

"Maybe twenty minutes?"

He placed his hand on her hip to move her away from the wall she was leaning against. "Come on, I'm taking you home." Rafe slid his hand to her back, urging her forward gently. "Then you're going to bed, and you are going to sleep. Got it?"

"I'll try," she agreed reluctantly. Picking up their coats from where they'd been left by the nurse's station, Alison let him help her slip into hers without complaint. A moment later and a nod goodnight to the night nurse, and she was pressing the call button for the elevator once more.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing," Alison answered, once again sighing.

"Alison-"

She glanced up at him quickly before turning her eyes to their clasped hands. "It's just… It's not supposed to be like this, Rafe." They stepped into the elevator car together, and she pressed the button for the lobby and leaned back against him.

Wrapping his arms around her waist, Rafe held her close. "I can't change things."

"I know… I know that. It's just… It's something that Livvie and I were talking about yesterday. And then Becki…" Tears filled her eyes again, and she tried to blink them back only to make them fall. "We have a fairytale, Rafe. It's supposed to end with happily ever after. It's not fair that it doesn't."

Turning her around, he pushed her tears away. "I…" A sigh passed his lips and he bent to look her in the eye. "Alison, I love you. And that's… I love you."

The corner of her mouth turned upwards slightly as she nodded. "I know, Rafe. I know."

Nodding, he entwined his hand with hers again as the doors opened to the elevator and they stepped out. He held the door open for her, never letting her hand go, and they walked back to her apartment in silence. Each searching for words that they knew they had no hope of finding. And longing for the faith they needed to survive what they'd known before the beginning was going to have to come.

Their steps slowed the closer they got, both avoiding the goodbyes they knew they'd have to say tonight and then later. Neither wanted to let the other out of their site, out of their arms, but it was yet another of those unavoidable things. Just something else that they really had no control over.

Alison sighed, leaning back against the door to the apartment and smiling slightly up at him. "You gonna come in?"

"That's probably not the best idea," he answered, somewhat sadly, as his thumb brushed across her cheek.

"Why not? Come on, Rafe, I'm a big girl. I get to make my own choices."

"Since you like to quote me so much, what did I say about protecting you?"

She sighed unhappily. "I still don't get why you want to protect me from you. I love you."

"I know. And that's why."

"What?"

He laughed lightly and kissed her softly, quickly, before pulling away. "Love is a very powerful thing, Alison. And it can lift you up and it can tear you down. I won't tear you down. I won't… I don't have to try and hurt you to do it, Alison, and that's why it scares me so much. Even with the best of intentions, I could end up hurting you even more."

She shrugged halfheartedly. "I guess so. But, you know, I knew that it was going to break me when I started to fall for you."

"We don't get to have happily ever after, honey. Even though if we could then we would. We'd have it all and so much more. But we don't get that. Our fairytale has to end differently." Once again he brushed his lips against hers. "Even though you are the most beautiful girl in the entire universe."

Giggling, Alison felt her cheeks heating. "Well, you know, you aren't so bad yourself, Angel Boy."

Taking a step back, he reaching into his coat, "I almost forgot…"

Her laughter filled the air as she spotted the single pink rose. "And what is this for?" she asked with a smile as she took it from his hand.

"Because I love you whole bunches," he grinned in reply. "And because you are amazing, because I have to remind myself to breathe around you sometimes. And because you are the princess that I always knew I'd fall in love with."

Tears were in her eyes once more, and her smile was bright. She managed to say a nearly silent thank you before their lips had connected once again. "I love you," she whispered as they broke apart.

"I know." One more kiss and then he stepped back again. "Now, you need to go to bed."

"You could always join me," she grinned slyly. Laughing as he opened his mouth to reply then snapped it shut once more. "I'm sure Valerie would just call Livvie and Lucy and then leave again really quickly."

Chuckling, he shook his head. "You think?"

"Maybe…"

"I think that it gets harder to say goodbye to you everytime."

"This isn't goodbye, Rafe. Just goodnight. You don't get to leave me yet."

"I don't want to ever leave you, Alison."

"I know. And I don't ever want you to go." With a sigh, she pulled her key from her purse and turned to unlock the door. Looking back over her shoulder, she opened the door. "Come in?"

"Am I going to have to tuck you in too?"

"Maybe," she laughed, walking in and leaving the door open behind her to leave the choice up to him. She slid out of her coat, managing somehow to keep the flower he'd just given to her in her hand, and throwing her coat over the sofa before she spotted them. A dozen pink roses sat in a vase on the coffee table, another dozen in the kitchen, and another dozen by her bed. Everywhere she turned, she spotted flowers - her favorite flowers even. "Rafe," she sighed, an astonished smile lighting her face as she turned to find him leaning against the doorway with a smile.

"Lucy did have a few good ideas," he shrugged. "Like flowers. Of course, she wanted red roses, so that was a little bit of a fight. But eventually she came around to my way of thinking. The hard part was getting all of these here without you noticing. And, in case you were wondering, I didn't cheat."

"Get in here," Alison laughed. Watching as he complied to her demand without much hesitation. He shut the door behind him, threw his coat over hers, and stood in front of her with a shy smile. Before he could speak though, she threw her arms around his neck and found his lips with hers. "Thank you," she whispered again when he broke the kiss.

"Thank you."

"For what?"

"For knowing it was going to hurt and loving me anyway," he answered, sounding somewhat in awe of the fact as he said it.

Alison grinned and kissed him again. "You're worth it."

"No… You, Alison, are the one that is worth the heartache. You deserve someone that can make all of your dreams come true, honey."

"You don't get it do you, Rafe?" Shaking her head, Alison moved to sit on the sofa. She took off her shoes before meeting his gaze again. The question was written in his look, but he didn't dare ask it. And she knew that he'd stay for a while longer if she didn't answer right away. "You want some hot chocolate?"

"I'm good, thanks."

"Are you sure? Cause I'm gonna-"

"Go to bed."

"What?"

"I know what you're doing, Alison," he said, obviously fighting against a smile. "And it's not going to work. Now, go to bed. Go, go, go…"

"Rafe," she whined. "I don't-"

"You are tired and you need sleep, Alison. I'll be at Lucy's, ok? I'll see you tomorrow morning."

Sighing, she stood again, walking past him and toward her bedroom. She searched through her drawers for a few minutes before pulling out some clothes. "Don't go just yet, alright?"

"Alright…" he answered, unsure that he should stay but never ready to leave her. He watched her every step as she walked toward the bathroom, leaving the door open just a crack so that the light spilled toward the darkened bed. Shaking his head, he leaned against the arm of the couch, his fingers softly brushing one of the roses that sat on the end table.

In the silence all he could hear where the sounds of her moving around, obviously undressing. "Where's Valerie?" Rafe asked, needing to have a different sound to focus on, anything to remove the forbidden images that that brought to his mind.

"She's staying with Jack and Livvie for a few days to give me time to regroup. Well, yesterday it was to give us time to… get to know each other better or something. You know, they're crazy plan that really wasn't all that good."

"I know." He shrugged even though she couldn't see him. "But it did work, I guess."

"Yeah… They wanted to truth to come out and it did. Which is a really good thing…" Stepping out of the bathroom wearing a pair of purple pajama bottoms and the matching top, she was smiling as she pulled her hair back. "But I still say it was a lame plan."

Rafe laughed and nodded. "It was a lame plan," he admitted.

"You're really going to make me go to bed?"

"Yes."

"And you really won't join me?"

"No."

"Are you sure?" Alison asked, sly smile firmly in place as she caught the way his eyes took her in.

"No… I mean, yes. Yes, I'm sure."

Pouting playfully, she wrapped her arms around his neck, eye to eye with him because he was sitting. "But Rafe," she whined, fighting a smile as his hands landed on her hips. Alison brushed her lips against his cheek and then kissed him softly. "Why not?"

"Because it's a very, very bad idea."

"No?"

"No." Grinning, he stood, lifting her into his arms with one swift movement. "But you are going to bed now. No more stalling."

She smiled, letting him carry her and sit her on the bed. Sliding underneath the covers, she settled into a comfortable position, and he tucked the blankets in around her. "Goodnight," Alison told him softly. "I'll see you tomorrow."

"Yes you will," he answered her with a grin. Kissing her one more time, he backed up. "I'll be at Lucy's if you need me, alright?"

"Alright," she murmured, giving into the exaustion just a little bit. She relaxed into her pillows. "You'll be at Lucy's. And I'll see you tomorrow. Got it."

"Sweet dreams."

"They will be," Alison informed him with a smile. She heard the door open, and then decided to speak again. "Oh, and Rafe, if you change your mind you'll know where to find me."

Groaning, Rafe shook his head and finally gave in and laughed. "I love you, Alison."

"I love you too."

"Goodnight," he whispered, locking the door and shutting it behind him.

"Goodnight, my angel."


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