Chapter Forty-Eight:

Merry Christmas to everyone, and to celebrate here is the final chapter of Phoning Home. Thank you to everyone who has read, liked and commented over the months. I'll be working on something new, in the Arrowverse soon.

Walter offered Shado a glass of champagne with a grin as she took in the decorations that filled the ballroom of the latest charity gala they had been invited too. Shado declined with a small shake of her head, wondering for the millionth time how Slade had managed to weasel his way out of yet another gathering and she couldn't. Tommy and Oliver were working the crowds expertly and she had excused herself very quickly from the conversations and had found some quiet by Walter's side.

Walter had lost many friends when he ended his marriage to Moira, and more again when she lost in court and Walter remained CEO of Queen's Consolidated. He often joked about it, but Shado could see how much it hurt him when people he had probably been friends with for years, snubbed their noses into the air and strode past Walter. She had offered earlier to give them a piece of their mind but Walter had declined, not wanting to cause a scene or damage Shado's early career as a doctor. Shado was still considering calling Slade and having him come down here, Slade didn't give any thought to how other people viewed him unless he considered them family and would happily give them a piece of his mind.

Tommy sighed as he finally had a minute to himself, without anyone bugging him into another conversation of mindless chatter and immediately spotted Shado and Walter standing off to the side, with Shado glaring daggers at the crowd. Making his way quickly over to the pair, he noticed the look a couple gave Walter as they walked by and Shado's mood suddenly made a lot of sense.

"Has this been going on all night?" Tommy asked quietly as the put a hand on Walter's shoulder to show his support.

"People can be fickle, I suppose," Walter answered while Shado nodded to answer Tommy's question bluntly. Tommy thought it over and then decided on what he thought the best course of action to take.

"Oliver!" Tommy shouted. Oliver looked over, quickly excused himself and hurried to join Tommy, Shado and Walter.

"What's wrong?" Oliver asked.

"We're leaving," Tommy told him, making sure his voice was loud enough to be heard by the majority of the people listening. And with that Tommy took Shado's hand and lead her out of the room, knowing that Oliver and Walter would be following.

"Tomorrow's Christmas, and I'm not spending Christmas Eve with a bunch of busy bodies ignoring and snubbing Walter. We can send a check to the charity after the holidays, but I want to spend the rest of Christmas Eve with family," Tommy announced.

"Sounds like a plan," Oliver said with a smile, looking out the window to the shaping of a white Christmas, one he would be able to enjoy.

"I hate snow," Slade said in way of greeting as the four entered the house. Oliver and Shado rolled their eyes and continued to walk past the grumpy man.

"See how much they care Joe? What I had to put up with on the Island everyday" Slade whined.

"You do this every time it snows. And you're not going to stop until all the snow has melted. You hate the snow, everyone knows this." Oliver told him. Slade huffed and walked off muttering about the horribleness of snow.

"Why does he hate snow so much still, it's been over 5 years now?" Tommy asked.

"And yet it still seems like yesterday in our heads. The memories as fresh as they were when we made them," Shado explained.

"The winters were the worst. Snow storms that would keep us trapped for days. We would have to abandon the fuselage the second the signs of winter showed. We would go into the deepest cave and start storing fire wood and food. We would always have a large store of tree roots to eat that we swore we would never touch, and yet we would always have too. We'd starve and spend almost every hour of the day sleeping because we wouldn't have the energy to do anything else. Slade would always do it the worst though. He would huddle us as far back as possible and put his back to the opening of the cave. He would feed us first and have the leftovers. He would be the one to go out into the cold to get snow for drinking water. His ribs would always be the first to show and the last to disappear again after winter had ended. Slade has reason enough to hate snow, for with it resurfaced the memories that came with it on the Island." Oliver said quietly, Shado walking over to hold his hand while he talked.

"So much can change in our lives, but the past will always be there," Walter added thinking of the gala.

"But we can't be so focused on the past that we forget about what is happening in the present," Tommy continued, remembering visiting his parents graves a few days earlier to clean them up and lay fresh flowers for Christmas.

"Let's make snowmen tomorrow, create some good memories of snow to start balancing out the bad ones," Oliver suggested, knowing it would take a lot of convincing to get Slade outside for any length of time.