Better To Have Loved

'Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.
Alfred Lord Tennyson

They'd both loved her.

In different ways, true; she as her friend, he as her boyfriend. But they'd both loved her. And now she was gone.

And neither of them knew how to handle it. No amount of talking, brooding, or even beating up the bad guys would fix things.

One night, as they parted to go back to their empty rooms, alone once more, she hugged him. He flinched, and tried to breathe, and hugged her back.

Since Stephanie had died, neither of them let anyone near. Neither of them had been able to bear anyone close.

Except each other.

Cassandra was the first to hug him; Timothy was the first to kiss her.

Both of them felt the loss hurt less as they comforted each other in this new, entirely unexpected, yet unsurprising way. They'd loved her, but she was gone. They…weren't. And they had to learn to live without her.

Maybe…maybe loving each other would make things better, though.

It wasn't like either of them had anything – anyone – else left to lose. And they had everything in each other to gain.