Chapter XIX

Ava drank her coffee nervously. She soon began fiddling with her car keys that had been left alone a few minutes prior. After a few minutes she became fed up with her current form of enjoyment and decided to focus her full attention on the wall clock. Perhaps if she glared at it long and threateningly enough, it would start moving faster. Of course, the notion was utter bullshit, but she could not help but dream.

The sudden ringing of her phone made her jolt. She managed to catch her breath and flicked it open before answering.


"Good morning to you as well, love." An uncharacteristically cheerful voice sounded from the other end.

Ava's eyes widened before her she stopped breathing. Danny had not sounded so joyful since… almost ever. That obviously meant that something had happened.

"What did the doctors say?" Ava questioned immediately, ignoring his sigh in disappointment at her forwardness and complete neglect of his wonderful greeting.

"Why don't you come and see for yourself?" Danny enquired.

"Why can't you be merciful and tell me?" Ava shot back.

"Why can't you be more patient? I promise it will be worth the wait." Danny countered.

"Patience my ass." Ava huffed and glowered when she heard him chuckle slightly.

"I will be waiting, love." Danny said before he ended the call.

Ava huffed, rolled her eyes before she pocketed her phone. She then proceeded to pack all her belongings before exiting the café.

The walk to the hospital was not long yet Ava could not help but recall all the major changes that had occurred in her life during the past six months. Sam had returned which was something that had shocked her to a grave degree. At first she had been opposed to the idea of Peter's meeting Sam. However, as time passed she realized that even though the two had gone off on bad terms, they were made for one another. After all, Sam had been Peter's first… everything. It was hard to forget your first time and love sometimes. Rarely did one person happen to fit into both categories for someone else yet for Peter it happened. Ava was almost certain that the same went for Sam.

If Ava had to be honest, she was not too keen on the idea of meeting with Sam and discussing everything that had occurred almost eight years ago. Luke had not agreed with her and had actually urged her along with Danny to heed their advice and try to talk to Sam. Naturally, she had protested, but had soon given in.

It happened a few weeks after Ava and Peter had broken up completely, but they had promised each other to remain friends. Sam and Peter had got together soon after and so had Danny and Ava. Luke had spent some time with all of them, but always separately for there were still wounds that needed to be healed. He had had to leave in order to get back to his family, but had promised to come back when a meeting between all of them was arranged.

Although Sam was not too sure about how much of a warm welcome he would receive, he had soon caved in and had proposed to meet all five of them so that he could tell them exactly what happened.

Sam shook his head as he said, "I can't do it."

"Yes, you can." Peter immediately uttered as he adjusted Sam's coat. In his rush, the latter had buttoned it up wrongly.

"No, I can't." Sam repeated and after Peter finished he added, "I told you this was a bad idea."

Sam then turned around and was about to suggest going back home and calling the whole thing off when Peter grabbed his arm, making the boy turn back to face him. Peter immediately kissed him, making some of Sam's worry dissolve. Sam swore he was going to melt when Peter began tracing small circles on his back. Of course, Peter had to pull back before Sam had a chance to deepen the kiss. Naturally, Sam growled, Peter rolled his eyes, chuckled slightly and said, "You will get more if you go inside."

"Cheeky little bastard. You know exactly which kind of blackmail to use and when. I am impressed." Sam uttered.

Peter rolled his eyes and responded, "I would not have to be a 'cheeky little bastard', if you weren't such a stubborn idiot."

"I prefer the word patient or the term one who goes with the flow or even free spirit. Your call which one to use." Sam replied.

"I will not use either because you are neither of them." Peter countered and silenced Sam's growl with another short kiss.

Sam sighed as Peter pulled back, his breath forming small clouds in the cold air. Peter used one gloved hand to trace a small line from Sam's lips to his cheek and caressed it as Sam leaned into the touch.

"Trust me. You're ready." Peter said as he leaned in and kissed Sam's forehead before he offered one last encouraging smile. He then turned around and opened the door. He was half way inside when he turned back around and iterated, "Don't forget I'll be waiting."

Sam huffed, "Yeah yeah, I know."

Peter gave him a pointed look which made Sam sigh exasperatedly before he promised, "I'll come. I just… I think I need a little more fresh air."

Peter rolled his eyes at the obvious excuse, but chose to ignore it. He simply nodded and went inside.

Sam looked up at the sky, closed his eyes and breathed in deeply. He then exhaled and reopened them. He locked gazes with a cloud that reminded him of a soaring eagle and said, "I hope everything goes well."

Sam then brought his head back down and looked straight into his reflection. His gaze then moved inside and saw that Peter was looking through a menu already. A small smile formed on Sam's face as he realized that even if the others did not come or actually did, but left angry, it would not matter because in the end Peter would go back home with him. As his heart rate slowed down, Sam took the last steps forward, opened the door and went inside.

Ava sighed as she pushed the wheelchair in front of her. She had promised she would meet Peter and the others at the café at twelve, but had insisted on bringing Danny along alone. Apparently her plan had not been executed the way she had, well, planned it to. She had thought she would arrive on time, even have a few minutes to spare, but as it turned out she was already late. Needless to say, the mere idea of arriving late irritated her to no end.

Danny, on the other hand, remained as calm as ever. It seemed that he was thoroughly enjoying the small minutes he could spend outside. The beaming smile he now had on his face made all traces of Ava's anger disappear. She even found herself smiling as a snowflake landed on Danny's outstretched hand. She watched as Danny's smile turned into a giddy grin and he looked up and outstretched his other hand, waiting to welcome another snowflake. Ava noticed that they were near a park and decided that taking a little detour would not hurt too much. After all, they were already late as it was. A few extra minutes would not hurt anybody, right?

Ava pushed the wheelchair down the cemented path and watched the trees slowly grow a 'coat' for the winter. Ava could not believe it was already this late into the year. She suddenly shivered as the wind picked up. A sneeze soon followed and she had to stop pushing the wheelchair, as a result.

"Are you cold?" Danny asked as he began unbuttoning his coat, willing to offer it to Ava soon after, but she stopped him as she said, "No, I'm fine."

She then walked around his wheelchair and kneeled in front of him. She took his hands into hers, ignored his dubious look and smiled as a lone snowflake landed in-between their intertwined fingers.

"You know I love you, right?" She suddenly said as she looked directly into his eyes.

He smiled as he let go of one of her hands and brought it up to her face. He stroked her cheek and his smile grew when she leaned into the touch and closed her eyes.

"I do. I love you, too, Ava." Danny answered, making her open her eyes.

She was shocked when his gaze hardened and he withdrew both his hands from her reach. They returned to his lap soon after. She was about to question the sudden shift in his demeanor, but his enquiry answered her confusion.

"Are you having second thoughts about this?" He asked.

Her mouth fell open. She stared at him in disbelief. She was about to raise her voice significantly and deny his unvoiced accusation about not being willing to give Sam a second chance, but he beat her to it once more. What he said next shocked her greatly.

"Because if you are, I will not hesitate as well and will follow your lead just as you have followed mine thus far." Danny uttered as he smiled at her.

She was stunned. She had not believed he would show so much devotion and loyalty. She could not believe he would go against his principles and comply with her wishes even when he knew she was wrong. With a small smile she locked gazes with him. She soon leaned forward and kissed him. He did not have much time to return it, however. Naturally he was internally disappointed, but on the outside only slight confusion was visible.

"Thank you." She said before he had a chance to ask what the unexpected gesture of love had been for.

With a small smile he replied, "Anytime." He then looked at her watch and asked, "Isn't it high time we started moving once more?"

She followed the path of his gaze and with a frown she said, "It sure is." She then moved to the back of the wheelchair and began pushing it again. She smiled when another snowflake landed directly into Danny's hand. Another soon marked a spot on hers.

Luke had arrived first. He had apologized for being late, but his guilt dissipated when he noticed that Danny and Ava had yet to arrive.

Sam had grown accustomed to Luke's limp so he had not been affected when said man had entered the café. However, when Ava and Danny had arrived his eyes widened slightly. He had seen pictures of Danny, but had yet to meet his former teammate and actually witness the way he moved. Sam managed to grow out of stupor fast enough so no one noticed apart from Peter who simply nudged his shoulder and gave him another encouraging smile which Sam mirrored.

Peter stood up and moved a chair away so that the wheelchair could be pushed into the table. Ava was grateful for his help. She was even more surprised when Sam got up and moved her chair back slightly, giving her a nervous smile. The initial shock soon dissipated and she managed a weak smile in return. Nonetheless, she nodded her thanks. Sam mirrored her actions. He then returned to his seat. Naturally, the exchange between the two had made Luke, Danny and Peter slightly nervous yet grateful. They had expected something a lot worse. Apparently even though the start was a little shaky, they would have time to build up upon that and the time they had on their hands made all three men sigh in relief.

All three of them ordered when the waitress came. However, deafening silence settled when she left. The thickness of the air was palpable. So was the tension. Naturally, Peter seemed to find a way to break it, although not entirely successfully.

"I suppose we all know why we are here today." He started as he looked at all four of them. They nodded in return. He was just about to continue when Sam beat him to it.

"First of all, I want to thank you all for coming. I know it was hard, but I want you all to know that I appreciate it." Sam uttered, surprising everyone.

Peter smiled, while Luke blinked before he smirked. Danny chuckled, while Ava stared in disbelief before she laughed. Sam glowered. He was trying to be slow and remain calm and collected, but their mockery would soon get the best of him.

"Never knew I would live to see the day when Sam will be forced to make a speech." Luke said, making the others chuckle, while Sam glared at him.

"It seems our human rocket has definitely grown over the years." Danny uttered.

"I suggest you drop the pretenses and get straight to the point, otherwise these two here," Ava pointed with a smirk to two equally smirking Danny and Luke, "will torment you and mock you like there's no tomorrow."

Sam was about to retort, but was stopped by a hand on his shoulder. He looked to his right and saw a slightly nervous and apologetically smiling Peter.

"I'm sorry but they're right."

Sam rolled his eyes. He could not believe that after all these years they still found it hard to take him seriously. He smirked. It seemed it was high time he got on with it as they had kindly put it. Perhaps, by the end of his little story the roles would have been reversed.

Sam told them everything he had informed Peter of. He then went on to explain quickly why he had left them.

"I know it may sound a bit selfish and I want you all to know that no matter my choices back then, you were all very important to me. The same goes for now. I… I know that I chose my family over you guys. However, up to this day I do not regret it because even though I severed our bonds and will likely have a hard time building them back, I managed to fulfill my duty. I had promised by siblings that if the need arose, they could seek my aid. Unfortunately, such a thing happened and I was forced to abandon the most important people to me. Please understand that I had never planned for that war to happen. I had also not intended to get myself involved in it, but it was for the best. I was the Emperor's son. Therefore I could not abandon my people and family in their direst hours. Plus, my powers were getting out of hand and would have most likely hurt you. That was something I could not allow to happen as well."

Sam stopped to catch his breath. He then looked at Ava, Danny and Luke, gauging each and every reaction. He was not surprised to see shock written all over them. However, he did not expect them to recover so fast.

"Why didn't you talk to someone? Why didn't you let us in on your plans? Why didn't you seek our help? We could have helped you, Sam!" Luke screamed as he resisted the urge to slam the table.

Sam cringed at his tone, but did not recoil. Instead he calmly answered, "I promised myself that I would not allow you four to get involved. You were my most precious people. I could not let you join a conflict that you had not started. Plus, with all due respect, the war had nothing to do with you."

Luke was furious. He was about to retort when Danny said, "You made decisions that were not yours to make, Sam."

Sam flinched at the gelidness in Danny's tone. He opened his mouth to say something, but Peter beat him to it. Peter put a hand on Sam's shoulder and squeezed it as he said:

"Alright, enough is enough."

"No, it's not. I haven't even begun." Luke uttered through gritted teeth.

"Neither have I." Danny joined in.

Peter sighed. He looked at both of them before he suddenly asked, "You don't understand half of what he is trying to tell you, do you?"

All four pairs of eyes widened. They were soon staring at Peter as though he had grown a second head. Luke was the first to recover and was about to retort, but Peter managed to interrupt him in time.

"I understand that you three are angry, alright? I was as well, at first, but then I gave myself some time to think things through." Peter gave each a pointed look, minus Sam, before he continued, "I realized that there was nothing I could have done. I… as much as I hate myself for saying this, I was actually glad that Sam left me behind."

Again all pairs of eyes widened. Sam managed to recover fast enough to shoot Peter a thankful smile which Peter returned. Their little moment, however, was ruined when shouts followed. Apparently Luke and Danny and even Ava still did not agree with Peter. Both Sam and Peter sighed. When were they finally going to see eye to eye?

"You don't know anything about what could have happened, Peter. And neither will we because that's just it! Sam did not give us a choice in the matter. He did not think first before acting and blindly rushed into the unknown, forgetting that he has a team that would gladly back him up." Ava iterated.

This time Sam retorted. "Do you have any knowledge of elemental powers?"

Ava stared at him agape. So did Danny and Luke.

"What does that have to do with anything?" Luke enquired.

Sam rolled his eyes before he smirked and gladly answered in full detail, "My family is one of the few on Amyss that specialize in elemental magic. We control the six elements. Fire, earth, water, air, light and last but not least, darkness. We vowed to use them in order to protect our people. However, there was misjudgment on my father's part. He underestimated the rebellion's power and in the end we had to use them to crush half of the people we had promised to protect. Ignore the fact that neither of you have anything to do with this. Ignore the fact that you do not possess any of the six elements in your arsenal. Ignore also that you would have been up against living, breathing humans that had mostly gone insane because they had ventured into unknown territories and had summoned monsters they could hardly control. Ignore the fact that you would have been forced to live and breath blood and death. Ignore the fact that you would have been forced to kill! Ignore everything and yet tell me – would you have survived in a place where the people who were your friends today could turn out to be your enemy tomorrow?"

Silence filled the table. Needless to say Sam's little exclamation had managed to give Luke, Danny and Ava something to think about.

"That is actually why it took me so long to actually muster up the courage to talk to you guys again." Sam suddenly confessed. "I was not certain if you would recognize the person I've become given the conditions I was forced to endure for five years."

Danny, Luke and Ava were speechless. They looked up and met Sam's eyes. What they witness made them choke. Even though there was something that flickered inside of them, the normally blazing light was gone. His green depths seemed like black wounds that would never be sealed again. Now they realized what Sam had spared them. He had not wanted to make them participate in something that would leave them so hollow, so broken, so shattered. He had actually saved them by hurting them deeply and keeping secrets from them. He had made himself seem as though he had abandoned them, betrayed them, played with their trust and ran away as though he had not cared for either of them.

Suddenly other questions emerged – how could they have not noticed? How could they have actually allowed themselves to believe that Sam did not care about them? How could they have forgotten about their teammate, their friend, their brother who had risked his life to save theirs?

Suddenly, at that moment, the notion that they had been the victim and he had been the offender seemed completely inconceivable. Suddenly it appeared that their roles had switched.

"Sam, I had no idea." Luke suddenly said as he tried to recover. "I'm sorry for what I said. I shouldn't have assumed…"

"It's fine. It is understandable that you would react that way." Sam replied, trying to stop the man from apologizing.

"No, it is not fine, Sam. We have wronged you in so many ways. For my utter lack of open-mindedness and rashness I apologize deeply." Danny responded.

Sam was about to protest once more, but Ava held up her hand. She looked at the man and smiled sadly as she said, "Danny and Luke are right. It is not you who owes us an apology. It is not you who betrayed us, but we who betrayed you. I am sorry as well for all the times I have accused you for deeds you have not committed."

Sam was starting to feel guilty. He had not meant for this to happen. Honestly, he had expected… Now that he thought about it he had not known what to expect. He had known there would have been guilt, shame and a lot more unpleasant feelings in the air, but he had not anticipated such a turn of events. He did feel partially guilty. However, he felt partially grateful as well.

"How about we put it this way – I apologize for leaving without offering any form of a plausible explanation, you accept my apology, I accept yours and we can all move on from this awkward situation." Sam suggested.

It seemed that it took some time for the others to consider his proposition, but soon they accepted it. That was the reason why the rest of their time at the café was spent in idle chatter and banter. Naturally, Peter and Sam bickered about the dessert, while Danny tried to pacify them. Luke and Ava simply ignored them, whilst talking about Luke's family. Ava and the others later were pleased to hear that Luke's wife was expecting. They all congratulated him and could not wait to see whether Luke was going to have a boy or a girl.

Ava smiled fondly at the memory. Now that she thought about she felt even more joyful than she had after she had left that day with Danny. The mention of his name made her freeze. All trace of mirth emptied her system. It was instead replaced with anger. How dare he make her wait so long to tell her the results of his latest test? Said test was going to determine whether he would be able to walk again.

With a sigh Ava remembered that Danny had been able to stand a few weeks prior for a few seconds. She and he had been overjoyed by the fact, but soon Ava's happiness died because the idiot had decided to push himself further. In the end, he had collapsed after having stood upright for almost half an hour. Honestly, if he had been pushing himself too far once more, there was going to be hell to pay once she got her hands on him!

The doors to the hospital opened and Ava froze in her tracks. Her eyes were wide. Before her was standing none other than Danny or rather he was kneeling in the center of the waiting of the room. The nurses were all scattered along the edges of the room, whereas the people had formed a small curious circle around him. Needless to say, Ava was more than petrified.

She immediately walked up to him and asked, "What the hell do you think you're doing?!" She hissed as she kneeled before him, "Are you trying to jeopardize your rehabilitation after all the effort you've put into it?!"

Danny completely ignored the flames that were being shot at him. He paid no heed to her accusing words and simply spoke.

"Ava Ayala I know that this is sudden and the timing could be better. However, after all the time we have spent together and after everything we have been through, I reckon that we have proved not only to ourselves, but also to our dearest friends that you and I have what it takes to keep our relationship stable. This is the reason why on this day I am willing to ask you to spend the rest of your life with me. The question is would you be willing to join your path of life with mine for the rest of eternity?"

Ava was speechless. She stared at him before she asked, "Seriously? Is this the romantic moment that was supposed to sweep me off my feet and make me marry you?"

Danny smiled before he answered, "I most certainly think so."

Ava rolled her eyes. He did not show it most of the time, but on the rare occasions he did distribute this fine feature, he was hell-bent on letting the world know that his inflated ego could rival Everest.

"Is that so?" Ava asked as she raised an eyebrow.

She saw slight hesitance flicker through his eyes. She internally grinned gleefully. She then allowed the silence to stretch and the fear to consume Danny's being further. After a few more seconds she uttered the word that was going to seal their fates.


The End.

Disclaimer: I do not own the show or its characters. No profit is made from this story.

A/N: Well, I guess this is it, guys. Thank you for sticking with me throughout this journey. It was one hell of a ride, but, alas, it, too, has to come to an end.

Honestly, I am quite pleased with this chapter. I hope you are as well.

Lastly, I want to thank everyone who has reviewed, favourited and followed this story. Please know that I have appreciated and will continue to appreciate your warm and endless support.

I want to thank everyone who has read and congratulate you for this story recently hit more than 5600 reads which, honestly, for me it is a lot.


~ QueenofRhymes ~