Ava was supposed to return sometime tonight. Her first plane took off around one, and she would get on the second flight in Colorado, or something like that. The specifics really didn't matter, all that did was that she was alive.
"I can't believe she's alive." Brad, his brother, had said. Caiden nodded. He and his wife and kids had arrived early in the morning from Iowa. Kara was getting extremely tall for her age, and little Ava was a year and a half already. Sienna was crying when she greeted Caiden, which brought him to tears. It was emotional all around, and it hadn't even started.
There was a knock on the door later in the evening. Cora had arrived. Caiden hugged her grateful that she had decided to come. He wasn't sure if she would feel comfortable enough to come.
"It's nice to meet you." Brad said shaking her hand. Everyone he wanted to have was with him, to support him in whatever happened when the time came. Would she still feel the same? Would she be stable enough to accept a relationship?
"Ava! Ava! Ava, wake up!" Az was shaking her awake. As she kicked and threw her body around in her sleep he put his arms around her tighter.
"Is she okay?" Nina asked.
"I think its a night terror, or just a terrible nightmare." He said worried. "Ava wake up, its just a dream.
"Get away!" Ava screamed. She jerked suddenly and her eyes shot wide open. Her pupils were wide open, and she looked absolutely terrified.
"Ow!" Az shouted. He held his hands up in surrender and just sat still. Breathing hard, Ava scrambled away from him and pushed up against the side of the bed.
"It's alright Ava," Az stepped scooted forward and gestured to himself. "It's me, Az."
"I'll got get some tea warm." Nina said rushing from the room. Ava looked around and took in her surroundings. She was in the small guest room in Azarias' house. She was on earth, San Diego California of the United States. She was home. She slumped over a bit and started to cry. She heard Az scoot in her direction and put his arms around her. He practically scooped her up into his lap and cradled her softly.
"It's alright, just a dream." He whispered into her ear. He kissed the top of her forehead and just repeated those words over and over.
"It felt so real." She muttered eventually.
"I know," he replied. "This bastard must have been awful. If he ever appears, I'll kill him."
"I know." Ava whispered. She knew however, that the man that took her would never appear on earth because Blue Eyes would kill him, Ava would and so would Azarias, and surly countless others. Ava held on to Az tightly and she felt herself calm down. Her heart rate decreased and the images of fire and blood began to fade.
"Here," Nina said. She walked into the room and sat beside Ava and Az. Ava moved from Azarias' lap and took the glass. She wasn't ever very fond of tea, but it was soothing as it slid down her throat. She licked her lips and smiled.
"Tea always settles me after a rough night as well." Nina said smiling. She took Ava's hand as a reassuring gesture.
No one had gone back to sleep after that, instead they sat together in the living room and caught Ava up on recent events like who was president and such.
"The thing I feel most behind with is reading. Five years, of being in the dark of good literature." Ava said honestly. "I am never going to catch up."
Azarias and Nina both laughed. Az stood and walked over to a bookshelf and pulled a thick novel from the top. He came back and sat in the love seat with Nina. He leaned forward and handed the book to Ava. It was heavy in her hands. She opened it and flipped through the pages. She lifted it to her nose and inhaled deeply, it smelled like a library.
"I forgot that you do that." Az laughed.
"The best books always smell lovely." She smiled. It was her favorite smell in the entire world. She read the back of the book and thanked Az.
"Send it in the mail when you finish. I've got you started on your first book." He smiled. After a moment it dissipated and was replaced with a thoughtful look. He glanced at the clock on the wall.
"Ava, there is something I should tell you before we head to Wisconsin." He said rubbing a hand over his head. Nina patted his back and looked almost sympathetic towards Ava. What was this about?
"Well go on? I doubt there is much that can shock me after all I have been through." She joked on the outside, but on the inside her heart was sinking. Had someone died? She wasn't sure if she could face whatever was coming.
"It's about Caiden." He started. Several options crossed Ava's mind; most of which she had thought about while she was in purgatory. None of which were scenarios she was hoping for. Her heart started to pound in her stomach. Regardless, she smiled.
"I understand..." She said.
"I just wanted you to know that when I called him he was with a someone... else."
"Its completely understandable. No one could have expected me to be alive after 5 years, statistically the odds were against it, especially with kidnappings." Azarias sighed and leaned back, but his eyes were watching her carefully.
"Are you sure you are okay with this?" Nina said.
"Okay with it? I kind of have to be. Is it what I would have wanted? No, every girl would probably wish that it was her knight in shining armor that saves her from danger... not some park ranger in the middle of know where. But those are fairy tales, fantasies."
"Still," Azarais said. His tone of voice had changed. He seemed angry now but he didn't say anything more on the subject.
Like Az had said, the officers arrived around noon and they were on their way to the airport by 12:15. Az drove his car and Nina sat shotgun against her protests. Ava took the back seat and looked out the window, mesmerized by the scenery around her. They were escorted by two cop cars. Inside the airport the officers led them straight to the terminal and introduced them to another officer, a federal agent.
"We don't have the authority to transport you ourselves so agent Hossler here will be escorting you on the plane rides."
"My partner will be joining us in a moment, he can't resist a good sandwich." He smiled. He had a thick mustache and a suit on. Ava looked him up and down and decided that he reminded her of her grandfather.
A shorter man approached them just then, he had sandy hair and green eyes. He wore a suit as well as bread crumbs. He brushed them off as he approached.
"Hello, you must be Ava." He said extending a hand, after seeing Ava's hesitation he took his hand back. "You're one lucky kid."
"I think she knows, James." Hossler said. "Excuse him,"
"Well the plane is boarding we better go." James said. "Why they couldn't get us a direct flight I will never understand." He muttered.
The first ride only took about an hour or so. Ava read the entire way and managed to read a good chunk of the book.
"I'm glad you are enjoying it." Azarias said as they made their way from the terminal. The next flight wasn't supposed to arrived for another hour, so they decided to sit down in a cafe. Ava was quiet most of the time, reading.
"Damn it. You're kidding right?" Hossler said loudly. "He was speaking with James outside the cafe."
"There's been some unexpected weather changes in Wisconsin, so we have been delayed." Hossler said once they sat down at the booth. Azarias came and sat beside Ava. He had two bagels in his hand. Silently he handed one over to Ava who munched on it happily.
"You can't be that surprised. The weather in the Midwest is practically unpredictable. I lived their my entire life." Ava said with her mouth full. James shrugged and Az laughed. "It's just my luck that it would happen to be the day that I am trying to get home after five years that the weather would be a bitch."
Nina chocked on her water and eyes Ava curiously. The others did the same for a moment and then started laughing.
"I like you kid, you can have a sense of humor about this. That's good, it'll help." Hossler said sipping at his second cup of coffee.
"She's always been that way." Az said.
By the time they were cleared to board the plane, it was four thirty. meaning they wouldn't arrive until almost six. Again, Ava passed the time by reading the rest of the novel. Before they even landed she shut the book and handed it back to Azarias.
"There's no need to mail this." She smiled. "It was wonderful."
"Good, I thought so too." He placed it into his carry on and sat back down beside her. "You should probably get some rest. It's going to be a long night for you I'm sure."
"I was just thinking the same thing." She said with her eyes already closed. She fell asleep and dreamed of nothing but clouds.
"Ava wake up, we are landing." Nina said smiling, she had the window seat. She had pulled back the curtain and was peering outside.
"Welcome home." She smiled. Her tone of voice was so giddy, almost like a teenage girl.
"Home." Ava said. Suddenly her stomach filled with fear. She leaned back and rested her head back against the seat and took a deep breath. She had no idea what to expect. She looked down at her feet, she was wearing a pair of flats that Nina had, and some jeans she had, and a pink blouse. She hated pink, but she didn't have the heart to tell her that. The jeans were a bit tight and short, so Ava had cuffed them to make them look like Capri's.
"It'll be fine." Nina said taking her hand. Ava squeezed it and hoped that she was right. "You know, this is my first time in Wisconsin." Ava could tell that she was trying to make her feel as comfortable as possible.
"Is it? Well I would show you around, but for all I know everything has changed. Hell when I first got here I was expecting flying cars." That wasn't a complete lie, because even now she was having trouble believing she had only been gone for five years rather than fifty. Nina laughed and shook her head.
"Lets go." Azarias said taking her hand. Nina didn' let go of hers either when they got off the plane and exited the terminal. Ava took a deep breath around the airport. The agents were standing in front of and behind them. They were joined by some more security and guided throughout the building.
"Now, once we get to the open areas the news channels are going to be there, ignore them as best as you can. They are annoying as hell." James said leaning closer to her.
"Okay." She said, swallowing her fear as best as she could.
"You're family and friends are also going to be escorted by security, we will follow you all home. We've convinced local and federal authorities not to bother you until tomorrow. They are all vultures." Hossler said, a smile playing at his lips.
"But you're one of them." Ava said looking at him.
"Indeed I am. Look over there." He said pointing somewhere in front of them. Az put his arm around me and held me close for both protection and for support. I hugged him tightly and we started walking forward.
Okay this is a quick chapter. I am getting really sad right now. It's been coming and I am telling you it is. Oh dear. COMMMENT please!!! Love ya!