Love Lives On
By: Pink-Green-White-4ever
Last Revised: August 26, 2009

Summary: Summer struggles to move on with a life that's less than she'd envisioned
Rating: T
Setting: Post RPM, slightly AU for the end of RPM
Ship: SD

Disclaimer: I don't own the song, that's by Mallary Hope. I don't own PR, wish I did!

Dedication – this one is all for you, Enigmaforum, for giving me the song even though it started out as SS images and spun into SD ones.

--

I reached for you this morning
Woke up with empty arms
Once again it's sinking in
How far away you are
I still pour two cups of coffee
And tell you all about my dreams
This kitchen's way to quiet
You should still be here with me

And even though I cry like crazy
Even though it hurts so bad
I'm thankful for the time god gave me
Even though we couldn't make it last
I'm learning how to live without you
Even though I don't want to
And even with you gone love lives on

I still call your mom on Sunday
It's good to hear her voice
She always tells me that same story
About her stubborn little boy
And I kept your favorite t-shirt
You know the one I used to hate
Ain't it funny how it's the one thing now
I just can't throw away

And even though I cry like crazy
Even though it hurts so bad
I'm thankful for the time god gave me
Even though we couldn't make it last
I'm learning how to live without you
Even though I don't want to
And even with you gone love lives on

She comes with me on your birthday
Little flowers in her hand
She's always known that something's missing
But to young to understand
And someday she's going to ask me
What kind of man you were
I'll tell her all the ways I loved you
And all of you I see in her

And even though I cry like crazy
Even though it hurts so bad
I'm thankful for what god gave me
And she's the perfect way to make it last
I'm learning how to live without you
Baby I don't want to
But even with you gone
Love lives on yeah

I reached for you this morning
Woke up with empty arms
-- Mallary Hope, Love Lives On

--

Her face was buried in the pillow, but it did nothing to muffle the sobs that were wrenching out of her throat or the tears that she found herself crying like crazy every day since it had happened. She'd woken with empty arms again, after dreaming that he was right there in bed with her, holding her close like he always had. It was morning, and though she knew she had to get up and start her day, she found she just couldn't summon the energy to roll out of bed. Last night, she'd finally caved in to what she said she wouldn't do – she pulled the old, beat up black t-shirt from his side of the closet, the same one she'd always teased him about burning, and had slipped it on before falling into bed and painful dreams of the way life use to be.

Yesterday had been Sunday, and like every Sunday since the war with Venjix had ended, she'd called his mother. It was good to hear her voice. It had been both a surprise and thrill when after they'd saved Tenaya, that both he and his sister had finally gotten their memories back and had remembered their parents. Their father had died in the initial invasion of Omega City, but their mother was alive and well, and living in Corinth just blocks from the Garage. She couldn't stop the smile at the thought of the relationship he'd built with the two most important people of his life before being a Ranger. His mom had told her the story again, the one about a stubborn little boy determined to teach his sister to ride a bike when they'd been kids.

It was that stubborn determination that she loved so much about him. He'd been a reluctant hero, but a hero none the less. So when the need arose to help people, he stepped up without so much as a backward glance. It was the reason she woke up with empty arms each morning. Shaking her head, she threw back the covers and got out of bed, heading for the shower. It was best not to think about it, not when she still had to get through the day.

An hour later in the kitchen, she poured two cups of coffee, shaking her head at herself when she realized she'd done it again. In the first months of their marriage, it had been their ritual after their showers to sit at the kitchen table and talk about their plans, their hopes, and life in general. They'd been so thankful for the blessings they'd been given – he still carried Venjix's hardware but thanks to Dr. K, he was virus free, the whole of their team had survived, and they'd finally taken that leap and gotten married.

Sitting there, she stared up at the picture on the refrigerator. He was smiling at the camera, snuggling the little pink bundle in his arms close. His face all but glowed with pride and awe. She could still remember Ziggy, camera in hand, snapping pictures in the delivery room. God, between him and Gem, she'd wanted to strangle them but good. Of course, it'd been Dr. K who'd snuck the picture to her the next day, and she'd fallen in love all over again. God, he looked so happy, so proud, so at peace.

The tears started again, blurring the moment of perfection captured forever on film. Her arms ached to hold him, as they'd ached to hold him everyday since he'd gone away and never come back.

Today was his birthday. That was another thing they'd found out when the war had finally ended. She'd made it a point every year to make a big deal out of his birthday. He'd grumbled like crazy, irritated by the attention, but she knew, deep down, he was happy for it, happy for the opportunity to know when his birthday was, how old he actually was. She could still remember that last birthday…she was sure that was the night they'd conceived their daughter, their tiny miracle.

"Mama?"

Turning, she saw her daughter standing in the doorway, her long blonde hair pulled into twin ponytails, her father's beloved brown eyes shinning out from a round, chubby face, a clutch of little yellow flowers in her hand. "Hope…"

"Is it time to go Mama?" Standing, she nodded and reached out a hand for her daughter's.

They walked to the cemetery, Hope asking questions about the father she never knew. "Mama, what kind of man was Daddy?" she softly asked, looking up at her. She looked down into her daughter and saw Dillon stamped all over her; the same grin, the same eyes, the same annoyance when she couldn't figure something out, and the same sense of right and wrong.

"You're daddy was a good man," she whispered, kneeling next to the headstone before drawing Hope into her arms. "He was the love of my life, and I see so much of him in you…"

Hope looked solemn as she bent over and placed the yellow flowers in her hand on the headstone. When she stood back up, her face broke out into a smile. "Uncle Scott!" Turning her head, she saw her best friend standing a few feet away, a sad smile on his face. "Mama?"

"Go on," she nodded, watching her daughter fly toward her uncle, chattering away. Turning back to the headstone, she let the tears come. "I miss you," she cried, reaching out to trace the lettering on the headstone. Dillon Thomas Scott. 2016 – 2046. Man, Hero, Beloved. "Dillon…"

She sat back on her legs, her sight blurring from the tears before she closed her eyes. In her mind she could see him standing before her, black jeans, black t-shirt, and his old beat up leather jacket, the one he got when he joined the team; a cocky smiled graced his lips and there was love shinning in his eyes as he stared at her. "I woke up with empty arms again, and realized how far away you are. Even though I cry like crazy still, and even though it hurts so bad, I'm thankful for the time God gave me, even though we couldn't make it last. I'm learning to live without you, even though I don't want to, but our love lives on," she murmured through the steady stream of tears and the rawness in her throat. "I talked to your mom yesterday, it's nice to hear her voice, and she still tells that story about her stubborn little boy. I kept your t-shirt, wore it to bed last night. You know the one I use to hate? Funny, it's the one thing I can't throw away. She comes with me on your birthday every year, leaves flowers for you. She's always known something was missing, but until now she was too young to understand. She's asking me what kind of man you were, and all I can tell her are all the ways I loved you, and all of you I see in her."

The sobs came now, cutting off her words as she rocked herself from side to side, her arms wrapped around her waist. If she concentrated hard enough, she could still feel his arms around her, holding her protectively, his lips pressed to her temple. "And even though I cry like crazy, even though it hurts so bad, I'm thankful for what God gave me, and she's the perfect way to make it last…I'm learning how to live without you, even though I don't want to…but Dillon, baby, love lives on…"

There was an overwhelming sense of peace that seemed to drape over her then, easing the tension from her shoulders and lightening the heaviness in her heart. It was almost as if he was there with her, safe and real in her arms. When she opened her eyes, she found her arms empty again, but felt the crack in her heart starting to mend. "I'll come back soon. I love you." Pushing up, she looked down at the headstone one last time before walking toward the group now gathered around her daughter. Gemma had her arm wrapped around Flynn's waist, her eyes searching for answers. Flynn was looking at her, his face a mixture of sympathy and regret. Gem and Tenaya stood together, Dillon and Tenaya's mother Emily between them, letting them support her. Ziggy stood next to them, holding tightly to Dr. K's hand while the Rangers' mentor smiled sadly at her. And then there was Scott, standing there, a quiet Hope snuggled into his arms. She let the tears come again, as she stood at the family they'd created. He might not be there with them physically, but love lived on in the ones who loved her most.

"Summer?" Scott started.

"Let's go. I want to celebrate his life, night mourn it."