Hey all, wanted to wrap this one up so I did. You all probably know who won this one. Thank you all for your support and I'll either be finishing up some of my others or I'll start a new one... hard to say. :D Anywho, REVIEW!


Recovery

Darien walked down the familiar sidewalk with his hands buried in his pockets. His eyes scanned the street now filled with playing children. It was summer and the bright sun peaked through the bows of the large maple trees lining the road.

He sighed as he thought of what he'd wasted. How many times had he pictured his life differently? How many times had he sat awake at night knowing that she was with someone else?

He would go back in time and change everything if he could. He would be Serena's one and only and she would be his in return. He would have married her and lived on this very street. He pictured a little girl with long flowing hair the strands of which would be a brilliant gold. She would laugh with a musical quality and her midnight blue eyes would shine with innocence.

He could have had a family of his own if only he hadn't been such an ass. Of course that wasn't what had happened. Instead he now stood at the end of the sidewalk that lead to what was once the house she loved so much. It was a simple house, a single story ranch with a lush green lawn and a stereotypical white picket fence. It had been so cliché but she had loved it, and he'd loved her for it.

As he admired the house a little boy rushed past him and to the front door followed by a small procession of children. The group went inside, shutting the red door with a soft thud.

"I need to stop this." He shook his head and turned towards the arcade. Since he was in the area he might as well pay a visit to his old friend Andrew.

Walking the few blocks to the old sanctuary was truly a stroll down memory lane. The sights hadn't changed much. A few of the shops had been taken over by new owners, the trees were taller, and the roads were busier. Other than that it was as if he were in the twilight zone.

Stepping up to the arcade doors, the familiar slick of the objects sliding to yield passage combined with the ding sound from the sensor made him smile. He had missed this.

"Oh my stars. Hey pal! Wasn't sure when I'd see you again. How are you?" Andrew grinned happily as Darien approached the counter and sat at his old bar stool. "When did you get out?"

"Yesterday." The dark haired man stated fairly flatly and looked around. Sitting in her favorite booth was a group of girls excitedly talking about something or another. It brought him back to when that was her and her friends. "It's good to be here." Darien finally smiled and looked back at Andrew who's expression had changed.

"Yeah. It's been like… three years now right?" Andrew tossed his drying cloth over his shoulder and leaned onto the counter. "So… how are you?" The two men stared at one another for a minute, each understanding the question that was being asked.

"I'm good… I feel like such an idiot. Every day for the past three years, I sat in that psychologist's chair thinking about her. I just can't believe that I was that… disturbed. Moreover, it bothers me that none of you tried to stop what I was doing. You all stood back and watched me ruin everything." Darien simply shook his head. "I'm not blaming anyone but myself. It just shocked me to think of everything."

"Hm… so now that you're better. Are you allowed to see Serena?" Andrew ventured the question that was on both of their minds. Darien simply shrugged and looked at the counter.

"Even if I was allowed, what makes you think she'd want to see me?" Darien picked his head up, his deep blue eyes holding a sadness to them that made Andrew want to grab him into a bear hug. "She's with that Diamond guy isn't she?"

"She was." Andrew nodded and sighed. "It's sort of a sad story really." Darien looked at his friend with a bit of worry. Had Diamond hurt Serena in some way? It pained him to think about the possibility.

"Well, after they hauled your ass out of that house she sold it. Practically everything included. It made bank really. She and Diamond stayed together and he even proposed to her after a year. They were so happy. Of course, as you know, Diamond's a detective, a damn good one too. Anywho, he wound up on this case, it was a pretty severe one that had him up at night even. Serena was getting really worried about him. Every minute of every day, that's all he thought about. Then one day, the guy found out where they lived… Serena and Diamond that is. Afterwards they discovered that the guy had been stalking them, following them for some time. Anyway, one night he broke into the house and shot Diamond. I don't know what would have happened if Serena hadn't gotten a hold of Diamond's gun but it would have been bad to say the least." Andrew sighed and suddenly started scrubbing an invisible dirt mark of the table.

Darien felt himself tense. Why did Andrew stop there? "Did… Diamond make it?" He finally breathed and looked at his friend who simply shook his head back and forth.

"It happened about a year ago and she's not dealing with it very well. She's been to therapy and everything and she still can't help but mourn for him. Much like she did for you." Andrew added then shrugged. "Her music's gotten a bit dark since then."

"I can imagine." Darien nodded and thought about her. She had been through too much. Why was it that after she'd found some slice of happiness it had been taken from her?

"You should hang out. She often comes in around one or so." Andrew offered and turned his back to his friend. "Should I get you some coffee?"

Darien thought about it for a while. He wanted to see her again but he wasn't sure what she would do. "Yeah, bring me some coffee please." He nodded and allowed himself to feel the butterflies flittering about in his stomach. In his mind she hadn't changed at all. He remembered her walking past the cop car with Diamond's arm around her waist. She'd tried hard not to look at him, he could tell.

A little while later he heard the doors slide open and the small ding that signaled someone had stepped into the arcade and almost instantaneously, he could feel her. She hadn't moved since stepping in and he could tell she was deciding whether or not to run.

An eternity seemed to pass as he heard her sigh and slowly approach the counter. "Hello Darien." Her voice sounded soft, unsure, and oh so afraid.

Taking a deep breath he turned his head towards her, his eyes leading the way. When he saw her he felt his breath leave him. She was far more beautiful than he remembered. She had aged ever so slightly giving her a more mature and defined look. "Hello Serena." He nodded and smiled. "How are you?"

"I'm fine, and you?" She turned her cerulean orbs to his and in that moment he felt the weight of his errors. The sparkle in her eyes had dwindled a little and there was pain hidden beneath the surface.

"I'm better. Much better." He nodded then grew quiet and just gazed at her. He'd dreamt of this moment for a long time and it always involved them staring at one another. "I'm sorry." He finally breathed.

Serena blinked at him a few times and felt her heart flutter. His deep blue eyes held so much regret and sadness that she knew he was sincere. "I'm not." She finally smiled and tapped the counter, which was quickly occupied by a chocolate milkshake. "Everything that has happened has happened for a reason Darien. We both needed everything in our lives. It's made us stronger, not to mention it's taught us a valuable lesson."

Darien nodded and sipped his coffee. She had become far wiser since he'd last spoke with her. There was a maturity to her that had obviously come from everything she'd known. "Serena… would you be willing to go to dinner with me sometime? That is, if you want to and if you're not seeing anyone." He shrugged aloofly. She seemed to stare at him for a few moments then sighed.

"Darien, I think it would be in both of our interests if we just, started from the beginning. That being said, I'm not going to go to dinner with you, yet. If you want to meet here each day to just talk and such things I'm fine with that. I've learned my lesson and I will not let you beguile me into being my old self." She said sternly, her voice perhaps a little more forceful than she had anticipated.

"That's fine. I'm just happy to hear that I can beguile you." He smiled playfully and sipped his coffee as she chuckled, a small sparkle returning to her eyes.

"Come now Darien, you're not becoming you're old cocky self now are you? I think a bit of reform is needed out of you don't you think?" She grinned and looked at Andrew as if to receive confirmation.

"I'm not becoming the old me. I think we can both agree though, I've always been cocky. That will never change Serena and you know it." He winked at her, finished his coffee then stood up. "Okay then. I should be going. I'll leave you to yourself and tomorrow we can do this again."

"Perhaps. If I'm going to be heckled I'd rather not come here at all." She crossed her arms and looked at him pointedly. "If I am allowed the same privileges you are then I will come here tomorrow and we can battle it out."

"See you tomorrow then." He grinned and left the arcade.

"Serena, were you flirting with him?" Andrew asked playfully then grew serious as she snapped him a look of annoyance.

"No, I'm getting my revenge. I think I'm allowed to be a little challenging considering what all's gone on between us, don't you think?" She began to eat her milkshake and would occasionally smile to herself.

Andrew simply grinned. Sure, the pair would be there each day, arguing and picking on one another. They would be similar to the way they were in high school. Soon enough they'd be a couple again.


"OH! You are SUCH an ASSHOLE!" Serena growled angrily and balled her fists. "For your information, your little escapades did indeed impede my life. Every day you'd come over and brag about some hot chick you banged! It was disgusting!"

"It may have been but you participated in those discussions. Remember that meatball head?" Darien challenged as he glanced at a few people passing by. Their little spat had continued outside and now the public was fully aware of the fact that the two former partners were arguing openly with one another. He'd seen a few paparazzi snapping pictures but overall he didn't care. He enjoyed their new dynamic, she was so adamant about her arguments now. She was no longer afraid to fight him and it was refreshing.

"I remember, but you had me so brainwashed that I had no choice but to listen to what you had to say. I loved you so much I would have done anything for you." She growled and turned away from him.

He held his breath as she stepped up behind her and tucked one arm around her waist. "I loved you too… I still do." He whispered into her ear and felt her body loosen a bit. It had been two months and he felt closer to her. He could tell they were beginning to regain their romantic footing.

"Darien… I… love you too." She whispered back to him then stepped out of his embrace. "Which is why, I need to go home now. I have to get away from you before I do something I'm going to regret." She shook her head and walked away leaving him alone. He hated it when she did that and at the same time he found it amusing.

Serena walked quickly towards her apartment. She'd been careful as to not allow Darien to know where she lived. If he knew it could be dangerous for her. He would most certainly show up at any moment and interrupt her daily routine.

She smiled as she thought about him. She loved him, she always had. When Diamond was alive he used to look at her and smile and ask her if she was still sure she was happy that he wasn't Darien. She hadn't always been truthful when she said yes either.

Diamond had taught her so many things, most of all to be careful. She was careful, and at the same time she saw where her and Darien's carefulness was going. She could see it as plain as day. Sooner or later they were going to wind up in bed together and when that happened, she knew all hope of separating herself from him would be over. One thing was certain though, she was never going to let him treat her the way he had before. She was a different woman now and no matter what he said or did she would remain that woman. For better, or worse.

The End