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Alexis pushed her face into the center of Cameron's firm, broad chest. The crisp cotton of his shirt drank in her tears as Cameron held her in his strong embrace, his resonant voice continuing to whisper reassurance that it was safe for her to let it all out. But crying freely in a man's arms was a difficult thing for Alexis to allow herself to do, and when the initial wave had crested and fallen, she couldn't help trying to prevent a second one that might be waiting to rise.

"I'm s-sorry." She choked.

"Shh…"

"I…I don't…"

"Shh…"

"But…"

"Alexis, be quiet."

Cameron's hand moved up from her back. Alexis swallowed and tried to take in a deeper, steadier breath as he began to stroke her hair.

"I d-don't know wh-what this is."

He sighed. "You're not being quiet."

"I-it's just been a…a r-really bad year."

Cameron smiled sadly, turning his face further into the sweet softness of her hair. "You aren't GOING to be quiet, are you?"

She shook her head. His smile grew bigger.

"Death, taxes and the non-stop ramblings of Alexis - the THREE unavoidable things in life."

He felt her body shake lightly as she laughed. It made him smile.

"That's nice to hear." He murmured as his arms firmed around her.

"That's nice to feel." She murmured back.

"But will it cut the brakes on that motor-mouth of yours?"

"I'm s-sorry." She sniffed.

Cameron felt her body stiffening.

"I'm not...I'm a stronger person than I've given you reason to think I am. Neediness isn't my usual M.O. And I won't fall if you stop holding me up."

"I'm not holding you up. I'm just holding you." Cameron's palm ran slowly down her side, then back up again. "And it IS nice to feel."

Alexis shivered, and a quiet new stream fell from her eyes. "The war is over, and I won. Why do I suddenly feel as if I ran into an enemy wall."

"Or more like the enemy wall hit you?"

She nodded. "Yeah. More like that."

"It HAS been a bad year. And you haven't had the luxury of being able to react to everything that's happened. You have that luxury now, and you're going to react whether you want to or not, and whether you realize that's what's happening or not."

She laughed through a sniffle. "You sound like a shrink or something."

"Occupational hazard."

"I know." Alexis rubbed at her wet eyes.

"And as trite as this might sound, it WILL get better with time."

"I know that too."

Cameron pressed a kiss to the top of her hair. He felt her back rising up against his arm as she took in a deep, calming breath. And then he felt it fall as she slowly sighed it out. His hand moved from her hair to her face, where his fingers brushed the wet trails from her cheek. Alexis swallowed and began to release the tension in her arms, locked tight like a breastplate between Cameron's chest and hers. Her wrist turned, palm pressing flat against the muscle wall. Her face turned too, toward the feel of his touch on her cheek, and Alexis could suddenly hear the frantic thumping of his heartbeat. It was a lovely sound.

"You know, if you want, you could sit down and write up a list of the black marks against every person you know in Port Charles. Present company exempted, of course. I'm sure that given some of the stories I've heard, you'll fare a hell of a lot better than most in comparison."

She turned her face into the broad firmness of his chest and inhaled the masculine scent of him. His hand moved back to her cheek, tenderly caressing the edge of her face. Her fingernails began tracing a pattern over the crisp cotton now stained with her salty tears.

"To our eyes, maybe. But the people I know - MOST of the people I know haven't committed intentional murder and everyone thinks I HAVE. Only you and I know it was self defense, and only you and I ever will."

"Brenda Barrett admitted to trying to kill Alkazar not once, but twice, and neither time was actual self defense. She's no better morally having failed than you are having succeeded. And she's far from being considered the pariah you assume yourself to be. She didn't even get charged with her confessed crime."

"But she's Brenda Barrett. She'll always be on higher ground than a mere mortal like me. Some people can do anything, to anyone, as often as they want and they'll walk away clean. Especially if I'm the one defending them."

"Unpunished, maybe. But they won't necessarily be clean. You've been punished more than what was right and just. But you are clean, Alexis."

Alexis smiled sadly, feeling the rising of a strange, uncomfortable emotion. "Th-thank you for saying that."

She couldn't help letting her mind go to Sonny, and the ugly thing he almost did to AJ the night Kristina was conceived. There was nothing more dirty than the cold blooded murder of an innocent person. And then, she remembered the day Sonny tried to do the same ugly thing to Zander, the son of the man who now held her in his arms and comforted her over her ordeal with Sonny's child. It was ironic. And for the first time, the secret of Kristina's paternity felt like a lie between her and Cameron - a lie that mattered. Would he hate her if he knew she'd once loved the man who tried to kill his son?

Cameron felt her small body take another hit, choke back another fresh sob. And then, he felt her begin to pull away.

"I'm going to go...um, wash my face. I must be a mess."

"No." His arm held her firmly, keeping her where she stood. "You're not."

His hand slipped under her chin and tilted her damp face upward, forcing her to look at him. And in her eyes, he saw that lingering pain from the past that Zander had spoken of. Nobody would do that to her again. Cameron let his thumb graze her bottom lip. And as he was about to lean in to kiss her, Alexis took her eyes away from his.

"Cameron, you should know that there is...someone besides you and me who knows I'm faking DID. Kristina's father."

Cameron held his breath. Kristina's father? She'd gone to see him - he knew that. She'd just never spoken of what happened between them. He was afraid to ask before. Now, he was afraid to be told.

"H-how?" He stammered.

"He doesn't have proof or anything, but he told me flat out that he knew I wasn't really insane. Of all the people who know me, and even those few who actually claim to love me, he's the only one who looked in my eyes and saw the truth. And I don't know how I'm supposed to feel about that."

"How DO you feel about it?"

Her eyes came back to his. "It scares me."

Cameron's stomach tightened. "Because you let someone know you that deeply?"

"Because I let the WRONG someone know me that deeply."

He sighed with relief. "I stand corrected. And gladly so."

She squinted at him.

"I was starting to feel a little jealous - until I heard the word 'wrong'."

She smiled wryly. "Jealous? No need."

"Does the theory of relativity apply here?"

"Relative to what?"

"May I assume that your specification of this man as being the WRONG person means that you believe there is a RIGHT person?"

"You may."

"May I presume that you believe it could be me?"

Alexis tilted her head and whispered her reply. "Yes."

He gave her shy smile, and Alexis began to blush.

"May I likewise presume...to assume..." Her hands toyed with the buttons of his shirt as her gaze darted between her fidgeting fingers and his eyes. "That you believe there's a right person for..."

"You may."

"And that you believe it could be..."

"Yes."

Her dimples made a deep display in her cheeks. Cameron grinned and brushed the bangs from her eyes.

"You know, my son accused me of having fallen for you…and encouraging you to reciprocate. That's what I meant when I said that 'you happened'."

Alexis's face fell. "And he's upset."

"Y-yeah, he was. But I think..."

"He doesn't want anything to happen between you and me because he thinks I'm crazy?"

"No! Because he loves you. And what he thinks - what he's afraid of, is that I'll hurt you. He's seen you hurt too much, and I suppose my failure as a father gives him good cause to assume I'll fail you too…if we cross the doctor/patient boundary that he and everyone else thinks really exists between us."

"Oh. I thought I heard one of you say something about a license. What did that mean?"

"My license to practice psychiatry, which Zander pointed out I could lose if..."

Alexis let her hand drop away from his chest. "No. I don't want you to lose anything because of me."

She tried to pull away from him, but Cameron wouldn't let her. "I could have easily lost everything already because of you."

"I know. And if I hadn't panicked so profoundly, if I'd been thinking with any clarity, I'd never have put you in such a position. But I AM clear now, and..."

"So am I. I was clear when I decided to help you by keeping your secrets and keeping up your ruse, by filing false reports to the court and by stealing and destroying the only incriminating evidence against you. And I'm also clear now. I'm clear that I'd do it all again because I'd rather have you free and with your daughter than have a license to put on my wall. I'd rather have you...period."

"Is that what you told Zander?"

He nodded. "It is. And for what it's worth, I think he might have actually believed me."

"It's worth quite a lot, actually."

"He's very protective of you."

She smiled softly. "Must be genetic."

"Must be." Cameron murmured as he took her face in both palms. "Just like loving you."

Her eyes widened. "Wha..."

But Cameron's mouth came quickly down upon hers, halting the question he knew she was about to ask. He pressed fully into her, sliding his hands through her hair. His lips parted against hers, and he wanted hers to do the same. But she was suddenly shy, and possibly trying to process what he's just confessed to her. The tip of his tongue began to pry at the door that was closed to him, gently teasing and begging for admission. Alexis made a small sound as her mouth responded, softening and opening slightly to allow him in. His hands firmed against her head as he flicked his tongue just inside of her mouth, tentatively accepting her invitation. Alexis moved her hands to his back and pulled herself closer against him, lips parting just a little more. His mouth ached...his hips reflexively pushing into her body.

He needed no further encouragement to partake of the mysteries of her body.

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