Title: To Love and To Lose
Summary: Someone once said it's better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.
Author's Note: I'd like to thank Kim for the beta, specifically for correcting my obsessive-compulsive comma-ing.
It was dark when Alison Mundy left the cemetery. Dark suited her. Her life was full of darkness and she had learned to accept it. Robert had been the first person since the wreck to bring some light into her existence.
Despite her initial feelings towards him, specifically feeling that he was a tosser, he had made her believe that there was hope for her. And later, he had been willing to put himself out for her and although it had terrified her, she had needed it. He and his friendship had given her the strength to survive. He had made her believe there was nothing she couldn't do or be. He had seen through the medium and discovered the woman underneath and had accepted her, noticed her and helped her in a way no one else ever had. And above all else, he had believed that her life was worth saving.
The streets were well-lit, the pale white glow shining onto the wet asphalt, a light drizzle blurring the lights and wetting Alison's hair as she walked slowly towards her house. There were no stars shining for her. She did not deserve them, did not deserve their comforting glow. Instead, her world was bathed in the cold, cruel light from the street-lamps.
She clenched her fists, wanting to carve brutal red marks into her skin and let her grief flow from her in blood and salty tears. Tiny droplets from the rain slid down her face just like they had slid over his name on the cold granite stone. Robert. She smiled weakly in the rain. The whole world should mourn for this man. They should have bowed their heads in respect and lit a hundred candles, all for this man, this one brave man, who had been everything to Alison. Instead it seemed that Alison was alone in her grief, with the dark sky and pouring rain as her only company, and all she wanted was to tear something to shreds and paint it black; black like the sky and like her soul.
She had stood by the gravestone for hours, looking down at the small square of dark, wet stone that covered the place where his urn had been buried. Her soul mate. A man whose life should not have been extinct, who should have been allowed to live on and who deserved to be remembered above all else. She couldn't, didn't want to believe that he was gone now. That he wouldn't be a part of her life anymore. That she would never see him again or hear his voice, full of scepticism; never again feel his eyes on her. Her tears mixed with the raindrops on her face and she let them fall.
A wretched sob escaped her throat and she slumped against a fence, hiding her face in her cold hands, sobbing heart-wrenchingly. She would have done anything, even given up her own life to spare his. Yet not even her self-sacrifice and all her pleading and crying had persuaded the Night Nurse to grant Alison her biggest, most heart-felt wish. All the love Alison felt for the dying man hadn't softened the spirit's cold grey eyes.
Alison had hated the spirit then, hated her so deeply that the strength of her emotions had almost scared herself. But her hatred had quickly been overwhelmed, though not dispelled, by her anguish as she had watched Robert die and his spirit walk out of her life, Alison unable to do anything to stop it from happening. All the tears she had cried, first at the hospital, later at home, sobbing into her pillow, had not managed to wash away the pain and loss which shone so strongly in her blue eyes that she could hardly bear to look at herself in the mirror.
Alison didn't feel the cold of the evening, nor the dampness of her own clothes as she sat sobbing in the middle of the pavement. She didn't care who saw her, didn't even consider the possibility of being seen, she just sobbed hollowly, having no more tears to spend.
She felt the tension in her chest lessen – not much, but enough to stop her sobbing. She wondered briefly if she'd ever be done crying, if she'd ever be without the dull, never-ceasing pain in her heart.
Someone had once said that it was better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. Alison laughed hoarsely out loud in sharp contrast to her earlier sobs. Her bitter, humourless laughter rang through the wet, empty streets, as she felt her mind scream mournfully that she would rather have never met, never known and never loved Robert than be without him now that she had met, known and, indeed, loved him more than anything.
But deep down, a part of her knew that without him, she would have been lost. He had been her soul mate and now that he was gone her life didn't make sense anymore, but without him her life would never have made sense in the first place.
She pulled herself up from the cold asphalt with difficulty; she felt completely void of strength as she dragged herself home, the cool night air bitter on her face. Her mind was empty as she hauled herself up the steps and unlocked the door. Stepping into her warm, dry hall, she closed the door heavily behind her and leaned against it for a moment, closing her eyes tightly. She slid down the wall, crumpling up in a foetal position on the floor, hugging herself. She was shivering, but she suspected the bitter cold that had seeped all the way into her bones had little to do with the chill outside.
She lay like that for ages, trying to get warm, to banish the cold. She opened her eyes, looking at the interior of her house without seeing it, but unable to bear the sight of Robert's face in her mind's eye.
God, Robert, Alison's mind sobbed, don't you know you made my life make sense? You changed everything for me! There's no hope for me now that you're gone. There's no one here anymore. No one can ever replace you. I'm not brave or smart… and when you aren't here, I don't even want to try, Robert. Without you nothing is clear anymore.
Her eyes squeezed shut against her will and Robert's face once again haunted her in the darkness of her eyelids while she sobbed bitterly, no tears coming from her eyes. Her hands gathered at her mouth, trying to muffle the painful sounds. She failed and her sobs rang through her lonely, empty flat, void as it was of any creature, living or dead. Never had Alison wished for a spirit more than she did now, not even when she thought her 'gift', her 'powers' were gone. She couldn't face the empty flat, couldn't face knowing that he would never be there again. I don't want to do this anymore, Robert. I don't. I don't. "I don't. I don't." Her words were punctuated by her heaving sobs as she spoke her thoughts out loud to an empty, unhearing and uncaring house.