You Don't Have to be a Stranger

A/N: This movie's freaking haunted me since I saw it year and a half ago. I know the whole talking to Tyler thing has been done so many times, but here's my interpretation. Just a little vignette/one shot type thing from Ally's perspective. There's some offensive language.

By now the metal of the bike anchored to my wall has started to rust. Like my memories of you. Every day they become a little foggier in my mind. Sometimes I run my hands over the handlebars of your bike. Your hands once gripped those handlebars. The only way to touch you.

I have a lot of your things at my house. After you…

I raided your apartment. I took an old watch of yours, a notebook. I even took your half empty pack of cigarettes. Newport Lights. Something that had once been so disgusting to me was now a treasure.

I see Caroline every weekend. She's beautiful. Like you were.

Tall and slender. Her eyes remind me of you. Bright and captivating and a little sad. Sometimes she smiles or makes an expression and I see you.

Every night before I go to sleep I cry. Because away from all the distractions of the world I can think only about you and I hate it. You come alive in my memories as if you never left. As if you never left your apartment that Tuesday morning. As if you stayed in bed in your apartment under a cloudless blue sky. As if you were never in the World Trade Center.

I still have the panda you gave me. As embarrassing as it is to admit this I'll just say it. Sometimes I sleep with it. Like a little girl. I'm 29 freaking years old and I sleep with a stuffed animal.

It struck me the April after you died that I only have a few pictures of us together. Caroline had a solution. She took some photos of you and some of my photos of myself and she drew us together. I liked that, a lot. Even though it hurt.

I don't care when I have my dessert now. I can't enjoy anything anymore.

There's an entire hallway in the MET of Caroline's work. You would be so proud, Tyler. And half of the paintings and drawing are of you. It's the only way I can see you anymore. The memories in my head are becoming like dreams. Distant. Obscure. But every time I see those paintings you're with me again. I can almost hear your laugh.

I hear you laugh a lot. In the morning when I wake up. On the subway. In my sleep.

I fucking hate you. How could you do this to me?

You always needed to be the hero, didn't you? You always needed to save the day. You couldn't just be okay with being MY hero? With saving MY day?

The only person you should have ever felt responsible for was yourself. I wanted to tell you saving other people would never bring Michael back. Maybe if I had you would've stayed in bed with me that morning. No…I know it wouldn't.

Caroline is sitting across from me at the diner you used to frequent. She's so beautiful Tyler and she doesn't know it. Her appearance has changed, but she still walks around like she's a mute, like a soft breeze on an autumn day. She still thinks that if she opens her mouth to speak that people will shun her, that a friend's seemingly innocent smile will lead to chopped hair and mocking giggles.

I miss you so much, but I know I can make it, you know? But Caroline….

She picks up her sketchpad and smiles at me, leaving her portion of the tip on the table. And as her silky waist-length hair sways behind her I can almost see her climb that Alice in Wonderland statue at Central Park.

I can hear her talk to you. And for just a moment I stop worrying for her.

Real life heroes aren't invincible. They don't live forever, but their smiles and their words do.

I look up to see if the waitress has come to get the check. A guy my age walks past me and our eyes lock. He looks just like you, artfully disheveled light brown hair and blue eyes.

In my mind we're playing charades again. Aiden's being retarded. We all laugh and my cheek presses against your shoulder.

You smell like the ocean. You don't speak, but I know what you want to say. "Don't feel alone. Don't be a stranger."

I don't feel alone, Tyler.