Fate Chapter Three

Two Years Later

Addie was aware of nothing but immense, numbing cold. It was black and quiet in her head. No thoughts of her living son or her dead one troubled her mind only the knowledge of the endless, boundless ice remained. No regret or remorse or anger for her past troubled Addie, and for a time she did not exist, even to herself.

Someone was touching her forehead. It was the first sensation that sparked the first neuron in her brain to start firing, to tell her that she was a human being and not merely a cluster of cells. The sensation of another person's skin on hers brought her bubbling back to consciousness and for the first time she stirred. The owner of the hand did not stop touching her, nor did the person begin tearfully addressing her by name or shaking her by the shoulders. It was a smooth, constant touch, and by the time Addie realized that her hair was being methodically stroked away from her forehead she was conscious enough to try opening her eyes.

"Slade?"

Her voice came out in a feeble rasp, but it was the first word on her tongue as she squinted up into the bright hospital light. Addie's head ached but her vision gradually came into focus, her ex-husband's grim face looking down at her.

"Right here," he answered evenly, pulling his hand away and curling it around hers, gingerly maneuvering around her IV.

Addie fell silent for a moment and blinked hard. She wasn't in a real hospital. There were no windows in the small room and she was the only person in the only bed. She must have been taken by Slade. Her memory was fuzzy and slow to return but eventually it did.

"How long?" She asked, staring up at him and looking for obvious signs of aging.

"Two years. Not long."

"Good."

His hand in hers was comforting and Addie laced their fingers together without looking at them. He had strong hands, bigger than hers and with a steadier grip. They made her feel secure.

"I didn't think they'd do it," she continued, looking back at him and swallowing hard.

"There were too many of you. They didn't know what else to do."

Addie shuddered. Flash-freezing was a fate worse than death, at least in her mind. It was a kind of death in itself. Who was going to thaw out a villain, after all? She'd been captured with the Brotherhood of Evil, wearing her Headmistress disguise as she tried to protect some of her students. The Titans had frozen her along with the rest of the villains they'd found. She glanced back up at Slade. They were definitely in his compound. He wore his standard suit and his mask lay in two pieces on top of the counter behind him. They hadn't had much contact since their memorable night in her hotel room. She set her jaw. They'd had their post-divorce one-night stands with each other, but it didn't change anything. Still, this had to count for something.

"You saved my life, Slade," Addie said, giving his hand a weak squeeze, "Thank you. For what it's worth."

"Don't mention it," he replied with a grim smile, and for a moment she saw a spark of his old self, from his army days or perhaps before, in Slade's strange expression.

This changed nothing. It changed everything. It didn't make her fall in love with him again. She didn't think anything could accomplish that, but there was something different about her. The complete and utter repulsion for him wasn't there anymore. She was roused out of her thoughts when he moved behind her and started pressing buttons on the IV machine.

"What are you doing?"

"You need to get some sleep," Slade replied, "Real sleep, not like the coma you've been in."

"If you say so," she murmured tiredly, whatever he'd given her starting to work its way through her body, "Will you be here when I wake up?"

He didn't answer for a minute. Slade seemed to be pondering what to say, choosing his words carefully.

"If you want me to be."

"I do."

Her words were tired and slow. One would have to listen carefully to hear the vague thread of fondness in her tone. But she said the words, and she meant them. It wasn't a declaration of love or even a declaration of forgiveness. But it was a good start.

Author's Note: Finally done! I'll be finishing my other stories this summer as well and deleting some as well.