Hey, I read this series a while ago so I may be a bit fuzzy on the details but this idea just wouldn't let me go. While this is my first foray into Skinjacker fanfiction I do have other stories for Harry Potter, Psych, Percy Jackson, Alex Rider, and Mortal Instruments. Hopefully it's not to OOC but either way I enjoyed writing it :)

Disclaimer: I think the fact that I'm a girl means the chance that my name is Neal Shusterman is very slim, and if I was said person why would I be writing on fanfiction?

She was 20 when she first visited.

And as she stared at the cold stone she felt unsure of what to say.

She knew he wasn't there, he was... elsewhere. But his name etched into the stone seemed so permanent and real and maybe, just maybe, he was here too and she wasn't just talking to air in the vain hope it would give her all the answers.

If he was here,then she wasn't crazy.

She placed the chocolate bar before the grave and let out a chuckle as she imagined the look he would give her and how he would say "Not funny, Allie." but the corner of his chocolate-covered mouth would rise into an involuntary grin.

She took a deep breath and sat down heavily in front of the grave, after all this time she figured they were past formalities.

"Life's hard." She began.

"I know death isn't easy," she conceded as though foreseeing an objection she couldn't hear. "But at least you don't have homework." She gave a weak grin.

"It's the anniversary. It's been 5 years in "real" time." She said, making air-quotes around 'real' because who was to say what's real and what's not?

"It's the day where everyone clings to me like I'm going to leave again and tells me over and over how they're so glad I'm here, but they don't understand what it's like to be there. I guess you could say I don't either seeing as I only managed to get halfway." She paused, pushing the hair out of her eyes.

"It wasn't all bad. Sure there was that whole Mary thing and, you know, the food was awful but there was you, and Mikey..." She cleared her throat loudly.

"People don't really understand why I grieve for you, they think it's because it could easily be me in the ground and you out here, growing old. To tell you the truth, I'm not sure why either. I know you're not really gone, but it's hard when you're not with me and I'm left with people who try too damn hard to understand something that they can't."

Tears were falling down her cheeks and she tried to ignore them. They were pointless, Nick didn't want her tears.

"I guess that's pretty selfish of me. I mean, there's all those Afterlights that I know you're helping find peace. But where's mine?" She quieted for a moment, as though expecting a reply, the only sound her tears dripping to the dirt.

When there came no miraculous answer from the heavens or, more accurately, the in-between, she continued.

"You should have survived. To grow old, to have been the best of your brothers; the best of my friends. And it's all slightly ridiculous because we never really met in life and I know you're where you belong but one day a year I get tired of being strong. Of being tough Allie who's been through so much and fought for what she has. I get tired of pretending that I only really knew you for that one second when we collided. I get tired of pretending that nothing happened and that in some way I wasn't living for four years and that I'm the same Allie I was when I slipped into that coma!" At this point she was almost yelling.

Her tone softened.

"Sometimes all that pretending almost convinces myself and I can almost think that Everlost was just a dream. But not today. I can't do that today. Because faking that today seems wrong and it's wrong to even try to think it didn't happen when I know that you're out there doing what's right. Because that's what you always did, Nick."

She corrected herself. "That's what you always do."

"And when I'm ready to give up I know I can't because that would belittle your sacrifice. And maybe that sacrifice of your life was involuntary but the sacrifice of your afterlife, your peace, was all you and I wish I could be that good."

She sniffed.

"And I really hope your listening to this and not some random Afterlight because that would be awkward. And I didn't really know how to write that down on paper."

She pulled a carefully folded piece of paper from her pocket.

"Don't worry, life's not all bad either. I wrote down some happier stuff; things I just can't seem to say today."

A few stray tear droplets fell to the paper and she finally wiped at her face.

"Sorry, I hope this isn't smudged in Everlost."

She retrieved a lighter from her pocket and lit the edge of the paper.

"You better get this," she threatened more to the universe at large. "Because I think I care almost too much."

After the letter was engulfed by the flame she continued to stare at the headstone.

Then, she looked down the small cemetery hill and stood up.

"Well, here comes your brothers so I think I better go."

She addressed the headstone one last time.

"I wish I could tell them that you're okay out there."

With that she turned and began to walk away with a whispered promise to return next year.

And as she did she felt the light touch of a reassuring hand on her shoulder, though no one was there.

Again, hopefully not to OOC but considering what day it is I think we can give Allie a break.

P.S. I appreciate reviews almost as much as cheesecake. And I appreciate cheesecake ALOT!