Series 10 Episode 1: New Beginnings

Blake saw his Nurse down the far end of the corridor, her back was to him and this was the chance he had been waiting for. So Blake eased out of his room and down the hall, trying not to let his footsteps fall too heavily as he limped his way to the exit. His body protested with each step, reminding him of how seriously injured he'd been when they'd brought him to this out of the way Californian convalescent center. Somewhere far enough away from Denver that Blake Carrington could recuperate in relative peace and anonymity without the judgmental eyes of the Denver Press stalking his every move.

Blake frowned as he took a heavy step, could feel the sudden jarring causing the normally constant dull ache in his chest to turn sharp, as if protesting loudly at the movement. If Blake took the time to peak under the neck of his shirt he could still see the constricting bundle of bandages from his gunshot wound, but he preferred not to look; even going so far as to close his eyes when his Nurse came in to change them.

It had been a hell of a few weeks.

First that corrupt Captain Handler had shot him and left him to die, and Blake had retaliated by shooting the man dead himself in self-defense. Now he was playing a waiting game to see if the DA was actually going to take him to trial for the man's unlawful killing, if only he had listened to Jeff when he had warned him but Blake hadn't listened.

Or maybe he just hadn't cared.

Blake knew he'd been taking an increasing number of foolhardy decisions lately. He knew why, too but when had knowing why he did things made it any easier to stop? Had he really become so reliant on Krystle to stop him from his own stupidity, had he handed over his own conscience so completely to his kind hearted wife that her lose made him unable to think rationally for himself?

Making it to the side door of the hospital without being captured and sent back to his prison swooshed open, warm, pine-scented air rushing in. He was out of breath after just that short walk, could feel the sweat beading up on his temple. He could not remember the last time he had felt this weak, clearly taking a slug to the chest could knock out even the most stubborn…even if he was Blake Carrington Stubborn.

Moving out of the doorway, he saw a bench in the sun a few feet ahead, it looked slightly tucked out of sight and Blake guessed he would be safe from detection there for a little while. A few weeks ago, he could have covered the distance in moments. Now, he measured every painful step in ragged breaths and force of will. It was amazing just how painful breathing could be.

He was not supposed to be out of bed. He was not yet cleared for walking on his own outside of his therapy sessions. The bullet that had almost claimed his life, puncturing and collapsing his lung was to blame for that. However Blake was not a man who enjoyed being told what to do by anyone, even medical personnel and lying in bed had left him too much time to think about what was gone.

To dwell on who was gone.

Reaching the bench Blake sank gratefully onto it, his legs trembling with the effort he'd put them through as his lungs struggled to pull in the required oxygen. Closing his eyes, he rested, enjoying the feel of the sun on his skin. He felt his sweat evaporating slowly, as he cooled off. Sitting in the peace and quiet Blake could simply picture what his Nurse would have to say when they eventually found him, she would probably lecture him on getting chilled in the light breeze. His hospital-issued clothing was still slightly damp from sweat, but the sun compensated enough to keep him comfortable and Blake was just so pleased to be outside he was willing to suffer a lecture or two…

He needed this. Needed to be active, to be doing something. Anything. Anything but being stuck in that hospital room thinking about how he had failed Krystle, failed his family, put his pride before his daughter's safety…If anything had actually happened to Krystina and Fallon Blake knew he would never have been able to forgive himself and whilst in his room, Blake could not seem to think about anything else.

What if he had done things differently would it have made a difference? He could have seen the Handler plot coming though if hadn't let all that business with Sable and the treasure distract him. And if he had was there a chance things might have turned out differently? Without him taking a bullet to the chest or his daughter's wracked by nightmares?

Blake was so wrapped up in his own little world that he almost forgot where he was and it wasn't until he heard a familiar voice close by, loudly muttering a sudden expletive, that was jarred back to the real world. Opening his eyes, Blake blinked in surprise as he struggled to believe what his eyes were telling him.

It couldn't be… not here…not now…would that damn woman never stop stalking him?

Yet no matter how many times Blake rubbed his eyes there she was, in the flesh, sitting bold as brass across the small lawn, seated behind a table… Alexis Colby sat staring at him, and she looked about as happy to see him as Blake was her. In fact if looks could kill Blake would have expected to spontaneously combust by now as Alexis continued to glare at him, and he held up his hand as if to keep her away…to ward away evil spirits and intentions.

For a moment their gazes locked and Blake could feel Alexis's eyes on him, taking in his reduced condition. Those spiteful lips twisted in a smirk as if she knew he was damaged and that he'd snuck out. Yet still Alexis didn't say anything. So in the end it was Blake who broke first.

"What the hell are you doing here, how the hell did you find me?"

For a moment Blake thought he saw a look of puzzlement in her eyes, and her forehead creased questioningly.

"Me find you?" Alexis retorted sarcastically yet she made no move to stalk over to him as was her usual style, for which Blake was relieved.

"It was Fallon wasn't it?" Blake retorted dismissing her obvious lie. "Dammit Alexis when are you going to realize I don't need you in my life, I don't need your fake concern or pity, I don't need that from anyone but especially from a conniving viper like you. I want you to leave…Dammit get the hell out of here!"

He had expected her to jump to her feet and storm away emerald eyes flashing furiously. What he hadn't expected was for her face to pale even more than it was already, or for her to clearly struggle to move, her delicate hands moving to grip what quickly became apparent were the rims of a wheelchair. Alexis stubbornly forced the contraption onto the path trying to head away from him as fast as she could, it was only when the rug covering her legs slipped that Blake was able to see her white pants and shirt were hospital issued, not her usual couturier.

And the realization high him like a freight train.

"You are hurt?" The question came out rough, harsh, uncaring even to anyone who didn't know him well. However Alexis wasn't just anyone. They had been married, she knew him better than most even if Blake would go to his grave denying that fact.

Yet even though she stopped, Alexis did not turn to look at him. "Would you really care Blake if I was? Would you even shed one solitary tear if I was dying? "

For a moment the "Of course" stilled on Blake's tongue yet it was a false platitude, even so the cruelty of his actual answer took them both by surprise.

"I am not sure I care about anything anymore. So no I probably wouldn't cry, I probably wouldn't even notice." The words came out too fast, rushing past lips that had, up to now, kept the truth fettered even from himself.

Alexis still didn't look at him the only indication he had heard him at all was her muttered. "I thought as much…You…selfish…bast…." The insult dying on her lips before Alexis even started pushing her chair away again, far faster than was probably good for her. Faster because she wanted to get so far away from him.

Yet Blake didn't move to stop her, he hadn't spoken an untruth after all and Alexis Colby was far to cold and bitter to be hurt by a little thing like the truth after all these years…Besides the sun was warm and his freedom had a time limit, why waste what little pleasure he could still find on yet another pointless argument with Alexis?

It seemed Blake's thoughts were prophetic as Blake spotted his nurse the moment she come out of the building, her face pinched and scowling as she caught sight of Blake in his hiding place . Yet Blake watched as she first said something to Alexis that made her slow down. The Nurse watching her for a moment as if checking to make sure she would continue on at a wiser pace, before turning and walking over to where Blake sat.

"It is most pleasant out here, almost enough to make a man forget his troubles," Blake cut in. Experience had taught him that sometimes the best defense was a good offense and with this nurse Blake needed all the advantages he could get. She already had an uncanny ability to see through most of his bullshit, like when he really was in pain but didn't want people to know, or when he was tired but resisting sleep…

"I'm sure it does. But you're not cleared for takeoff, Mr Carrington." His Nurse retorted sharply, sitting down on the far side of the bench. Leaning back, she closed her eyes and lifted her face to the sun. For a moment Blake thought she had taken the moment to drift off yet then she spoke, her southern accented voice tinged with humour.

"I always get the difficult ones… You… That stubborn woman…no worse patients in the entire facility and I am the lucky one who gets you both."

For a moment Blake held his tongue yet despite his earlier statement to the contrary Blake couldn't resist asking, "So Mrs Colby is badly injured?"

"She was badly injured in her fall; she needed surgery on her legs. She is here to recover and rehabilitate Mr Carrington just like you are."

Blake nodded, the fragmented prices falling into place. He could now remember through the haze of the last few weeks at Fallon's last visit she had mentioned something about an accident at The Carlton, Alexis and Dex being injured but Blake had assumed it had been nothing more than the latest in a long line of lover's tiffs. He had been so wrapped up in his own pain he had barely given his ex-wife a passing thought. Clearly it had been far more than a tiff.

"So she's recovering then."

"That's what's she's here for." The Nurse countered opening one eye to gaze curiously at her other difficult patient. "You know Mrs Colby?"

Stifling a chuckle, the first thing he had found remotely amusing in days, yes he knew her alright, knew her far better than most, so Blake nodded. "You could say that."

Although was it really true not anymore? While he had known Alexis once, intimately, he did not know much about her any longer, once he had been able to predict her every move. The Alexis he knew would never have backed down from that argument so easily, that reaction was a mystery to him.

"I take it she's not a friend?" At his scathing look, the nurse smiled. "Does the mighty Blake Carrington even have friends?"

Blake thought of Jeff, of Sable, of Krystle. "I do." He turned away, his face to the sun, his eyes closed to keep out the ghosts of friends, lovers lost forever. Once upon a time he had been a man surrounded by friends but now…where were those friends now?

"I'll be back out in twenty minutes with a wheelchair. Don't you dare walk anymore today!"

It was an order and Blake Carrington wasn't accustomed to taking orders from other but he hadn't the energy to fight the Nurse on this so Blake nodded. His chest was throbbing. More than it had after therapy. Perhaps it had been foolish to come out here, he was risking his recovery and the sooner he recovered the sooner he could get out of here and back to the mess that was his life. However Blake was quickly coming to realize there had been little logic to any of his actions lately.

"Did you get him settled?" Alexis asked as her Nurse came into her room, loaded down with meds. "Surely I'm not taking all of those? God knows what is in half of them, they'll probably make me swell up like some fairground balloon!"

"They're not all for you." The Nurse glared at her, her patience for her difficult patients clearly nearing its end. "I don't remember ordering an extra helping of cranky with my day. Now play nice or I might just slip you something that gives you flatulence!"

Wincing at that threat Alexis didn't doubt the nurse was capable of delivering on her threat, or that she had the iron will to continue to make Alexis suffer. Perhaps another tactic would be more effective? "I…I'm sorry. I just didn't expect to run into HIM here."

"Why's he's a nice enough guy. Stubborn as a mule, kind of like someone else I know, are all you corporate types the same?" Her Nurse was studying her, knowing eyes picking up on Alexis's flushed cheeks and faster breathing just at the mention of that man. "Is there a reason you two give each other the willies?"

"Natural anti-chemistry." Alexis blurted out causing her Nurse to laugh and Alexis found herslf chuckling alongside. That was only part of the story one that would only be true if Alexis weren't attracted to him. Still… after all these years, after all their history her stupid little heart insisted on speeding up at the sight of him even though he'd given up on her years ago.

"Anti-chemistry huh?" The Nurse laughed as she loaded up a syringe, her smile fading as she remembered just what had led to this situation in the first place. "And what the hell did you think you were doing out there?"

"Going for a walk." Alexis replied sarcastically watching as the nurse rolled her eyes.

"All the way down to the beach?"

"Is the beach off limits?"

"It is when you were legally dead a few weeks ago."

"I've been resuscitated before."

"Not by me you haven't and I would like to keep it that way so no pushing yourself too soon, your body needs time to come to terms with everything it's been through and so does your mind." The Nurse held the syringe to Alexis's arm and injected the drugs.

For a moment Alexis mulled over the Nurse's words before a woozy sensation overcame her, trying to decide what they'd given her this time. Some kind of sedative because she was already yawning, trust that damn nurse to figure out she hadn't been sleeping as much as she should.

Then again, Alexis had gotten off easy. Dex had not been so lucky he still hadn't woken up from their little trip over the balcony.

"Too much thinking going on in that head of yours," The Nurse muttered taking in Alexis's somber expression. She held up another syringe. "This one's just vitamins."

"I was back in The Carlton."

"Maybe you should stay here instead." The Nurse's smile was gentle. "I it's not the Ritz but the company's much nicer."

"Well, it was until a few minutes ago." Alexis added bitterly allowing her eyes to drift closed, Blake had to be here?

"My my Mrs Colby how can one man bothers you so? And such a gentleman at that?"

"It's...complicated." And Alexis had no intention of going into exactly what she meant by that. Yawning again, she scooted down in bed, getting more comfortable. "And I didn't need a sedative."

"I know you're not sleeping."

"All I've done is slept." Alexis protested but it was a lie. All she'd done was dream. Terrible, odd, fevered dreams. Of people she knew and loved, of falling, of Dex's rattled breathing against her ear as she lay paralyzed against his comatose form, the dull haze of people shouting her name, of pain and sirens.

"You should talk to the shrink if you're having nightmares...?"

"I'm not."

"It had to have been a scary experience."

"Lots of experiences are frightening, monsters under the bed scare children but they don't need therapy for it." Alexis bit back, falling back on her cutting tongue as a last line of defence.

"Fine. Hide in sarcasm."

Alexis shook her head. There'd be no hiding this time. Sleep was calling, so she closed her eyes and prayed that her dreams would be gentle ones.

They weren't….They never were these days…

Blake sat on the far side of the center's cafeteria and watched Alexis. It was the first day he been allowed to take a meal outside of his room and Blake had initially been excited, the chance to breath different air, maybe even have a conversation with someone other than his exacting Nurse. Yet Blake hadn't done any of this, since arriving in the room and being seated at a table with his healthy if unappetizing tray he hadn't been able to keep his eyes from his ex-wife.

She just looked so broken…so small…and Blake had never seen her look quite so defeated before.

Alexis was seated alone by the window rubbing at her eyes, gulping at what was probably coffee. She didn't talk to anyone, didn't seem to be truly "in" the room and despite the briefness and vitriolic nature of their conversation he didn't remember her appearing so distant when he'd seen her several days before.

He stood carefully, leaving his tray for the room attendant to gather up. Moving slowly but steadily, so not to rip his healing stitches, Blake walked toward the entrance. The route he'd chosen would take him by her table.

He didn't know why had he chosen this route?...It wasn't like he really wanted to talk to Alexis of all people.

Perhaps it was just idle curiosity that made him do it? To see if it was just his age and poor eyesight that was imaging things that weren't really there and that closer he would see Alexis was not as vulnerable as she appeared from a distance.

She was facing the window. Unless he spoke to her, she would probably never know he'd been this close. He could just check his curiosity and move on….

"Are you all right?" Blake was surprised to hear his own voice ask.

The question seemed to startle Alexis and she looked up at him, her eyes dead. For a moment she seemed about to answer, but then turned and gazed out the window again. Ignoring him…She was ignoring him and Blake was surprised how much that bothered him. So before he had even realized it he was sitting down at her table. Avoiding Alexis's questioning expression Blake looked everywhere but at her, he noticed her cup was empty and motioned for the attendant to come fill it again.

"I don't need anything from you, Blake."

"I did not think you did."

"Then why are you sitting here?"

"An excellent question." Blake had to admit. "I'm not really sure myself." He lifted his gaze from the table and studied her as the attendant refilled her coffee. "I was told you were lucky to avoid permanent paralysis."

"Gossiping with the hired help again Blake?" Alexis spat back and for a moment Blake saw a glimmer of the woman he recognized before that fire was once again swallowed by the blankness.

"I merely asked our nurse, you do realize she attends us both?"

"I am aware…" Alexis trailed off sipping her coffee and staring down into it's dark depths. "So is this why you have come over in all your state to see me Blake? To sate your curiosity? Well let me enlighten you, I hurt my back in the fall but it was mainly bruising and swelling rather than permanent damage, but I had to have surgery on my legs, at the moment they don't know how much function I will get back. So now you know you can leave me alone."

"I am sorry Alexis…"

"Why are you sorry you didn't do it…not this time at any rate. Still you know me Blake, the bad penny always rising to the top whilst others suffer." Alexis muttered bitterly. "Look you checked on me, assuaged any lingering sense of duty, you can tell Fallon I'm fine."

She did not look fine but then given Alexis's short fuse Blake didn't think he should say that. Instead he waited, curious to see if she would break the uneasy silence that had fallen between them.

She did not. She just drank her coffee and stared out the window. The skin under her eyes was dark, but everywhere else it seemed pale to him. Her hand shook as she lifted the cup. She turned, aware of his scrutiny apparently, and her brows knit as she looked at him.

"Alexis, I-"

"What do you want Blake? I answered your damn question now leave me in peace!"

He could not answer that, Blake didn't know why he had felt the need to sit and talk to her in the first place just that it had been there. Getting up slowly, leaning on the chair more than he liked, he said, "I apologize. I should not have disturbed you."

Normally Alexis would have rolled her eyes, or at least delivered a witty parting shot but this time she didn't. It was if a switched had been flicked and the anger and energy just went away. She looked down, attention seemingly fixed on the now empty cup of coffee avoiding his gaze entirely.

He did not ask the attendant to bring her another.

Coffee was not going to make it all better and right now Blake Carrington was only certain of one thing, something was very very wrong with his ex-wife. Still it wasn't his problem to solve…yet Blake couldn't push aside the nagging thought that if he didn't who would?

The next time she saw him Alexis saw Blake sitting in the sun, on the same bench he'd used the first time they had bumped into one another. It had been a few days since their encounter in the cafeteria and their exchange had dominated her thoughts as had the unaccustomed feeling of guilt. Guilt was for insecure people or so Alexis had always claimed, yet as she was feeling far from secure right now that might just explain it.

Yet Alexis already had enough nightly terrors to deal with and adding Blake's hurt expression to the long list wasn't helping. So girding her courage she pushed her chair over, happy that her muscles and joints had quit aching, even if she was so tired that even a short distance tired her out.

Blake looked almost peaceful with his eyes shut and the sun on his face yet he looked up as Alexis stopped her chair in front of him, blocking the sunlight. "Alexis?"

Surprised Alexis couldn't help asking, "How did you know it was me?"

For a moment Blake paused, he couldn't admit to watching her out of the corner of his eyes whilst he pretended to doze, watching as she clearly debated with herself whether or not to come over. So instead he settled to a half truth. "Your perfume…You've always worn it."

That answer Alexis had not expected, it was true she had favored this particular scent since the then Prince Galen had taken her to Florence and had the perfumers hand engineer her a signature scent. Over the years Alexis had always commissioned the same perfume. Then after King Galen's return and subsequent eviction from her life Alexis had considered changing it but familiarity one out, it was about her and not him after all.

That Blake remembered and recognized it as her…still that was surprising and it gave Alexis strength to carry out her objective.

"I'm sorry. I was rude to the other day…"

"I am not certain rude is what you were. You seemed...distracted." Blake offered diplomatically. Once he would have given anything to see Alexis Colby brought low enough to actually apologize but now they were here Blake found the victory left a bitter taste in his mouth…seeing Alexis this low was not the pleasurable experience he had always imagined.

"Such a careful word." Alexis retorted her mouth twitching with a hint of her familar smirk. "May I join you?"

"Yes as long as you don't intend to spend the afternoon taking potshots at me?"

"I'll try and contain myself." She added listlessly leaning back in her chair, eyes closed, enjoying the feel of the sun on her face.

For a several minutes neither spoke, both uncertain of this fragile truce that existed between them.

It was Blake who surprisingly broke first, her answer to his earlier question still felt lacking somewhat and Blake couldn't help digging, it was like a scab he couldn't help picking at even though it might do more damage than good.

"The surgery has left you weak?"

It had, but not this weak but Alexis wasn't about to open that can of worms with Blake so she went with the nice, comfy lie. "Yes."

The conversation once more fell silent and Blake found himself studying his silent companion, the dark circles were even more pronounced than before and despite the colour from a few hours in the sun Alexis looked ashen under her light tan. Searching for a safe topic Blake alighted on one of the other things that had been bothering him.

"So has Fallon been to see you?" Blake asked suddenly intrigued as to how his daughter had managed to arrange for them both to convalesce in the same facility.

"Just the once." Alexis replied succinctly clearly unwilling to into more detail she didn't even open her eyes. Yet that didn't stop her from asking a question of her own.

"What about you?" She knew it must have been more, Fallon had always been more her father's daughter than her mother's; it was like picking at an old wound it was familiar and Alexis just wanted to hear him say it.

"Twice, she's going through enough on her own, what that Grimes boy put her and Krystina through..." Blake trailed off, feeling the flash point of anger at the danger his two girls had been in, all because of him, danger he had not been able to prevent.

The dangerous barely contained rage in Blake's voice startled Alexis, he clearly wasn't as unaffected as he appeared at first glance. Under that tough exterior god knows volcano that was bubbling away. "They are both tough. They're Carrington's after all they'll pull through."

Blake glanced at her, surprise showing on his face that had to have been the only time he had heard Alexis compliment his youngest child. "I do miss them." Blake said it as if it was a great concession to admit it.

"You must wonder what if...?" Alexis couldn't help herself it was like baiting a bear but she was unable to stop herself.

"What if?" His expression changed; his voice grew tight that anger now focused on her, only her and it sent a frission of fear and excitement surging thought her.

She wanted nothing more than to close her eyes, to not be sitting here trading what were probably cruel observances with this man. But he was staring, his eyes locked with hers, so she said, "What if you'd done something differently, gone to the police with your suspicions instead of trying to cover everything up?"

He looked away, jaw taut and fists clenched and she knew she'd hit the mark.

"You might have prevented all of this."

Blake shifted in his seat, leaning forward in the way someone would before they get up, either that or he was seconds away from striking her...

"You also might...just have forced their hand, and Handler might have succeeded in killing you. Then where would your girls be Blake? Where would any of us be without Blake Carrington around?"

His fingers clenched on the arm of the bench, then he stood. His expression as he looked down at her was unreadable as if she had pushed him beyond fury for a moment. "If it would have spared my children more grief then that would have been acceptable."

There were no words she could think of to follow that, so she didn't say anything. In his present mood there was no way even stuck in a wheelchair Alexis could get away with calling Blake Carrington a coward to his face and not unleash that torrent of grief and anger right at herself. Even as damaged as she was even Alexis wasn't feeling particularly suicidal.

Then Blake seemed to regain some semblance of control, shaking his head a little, as if coming out of a dream, then he turned and walked off, leaving her alone and Alexis felt her heart sink a little…this time she couldn't help but wonder whether he would ever bother coming back?

His Nurse watched him carefully as Blake packed his carryall, he could feel her eyes boring into him for any sign that he was over straining himself. It had been a difficult few days and Blake had channeled the anger his last encounter with Alexis had unleashed into his physical therapy. He had been so driven that on more than one occasion his Nurse had been forced to intervene to get him to rest.

"Ready to move?"

Blake was more ready to get out of this damn centre entirely, to get back home to his life and away from this version of Alexis and her insightful little digs. However his doctor had not yet cleared him to travel. Still they had at least given approval for him to get out of the main centre complex and into one of the more private, if small, dwellings.

"Thank you for your care Nurse but I am sure I can manage from here."

She smiled at Blake's stubbornness. "I'll see you around Mr Carrington. It's a small place."

He knew that too well. He had been unable to completely avoid seeing Alexis. Not that they had interacted. Since their last conversation, she would turn and push her chair the other way whenever she saw him or Blake would do the same.

Alexis was avoiding him and Blake didn't want to talk to her…even thought at times he did wonder what she had meant where would any of them be without him? Did she mean the family in general? Surely she couldn't have been talking about herself…

Oh Blake knew Alexis had often claimed to still care for him, even love him perhaps, but that had all been an act hadn't it? A way for her to try and manipulate him if Blake had let her…After all people didn't go declaring they loved someone one moment and then threatening to destroy them the next, no if you really loved someone then you would never have been able to hurt them the myriad of ways Alexis had him over the years.

No she was still trying to mess with his head…well Blake wasn't going to let her.

Still that would be far easier if….

"Is Mrs Colby moving into the residences, as well?" Blake asked.

Raising an eyebrow his Nurse shot him a glance Blake could not interpret. "She sure is."

"Oh I see." Blake muttered frowning as his plans for avoiding Alexis suddenly became slightly more complicated. "I assumed she would be staying here that in her condition she would have required more hands on care."

"I said she was moving into one of the residences not that I personally was happy about it." The Nurse batted back watching as her patient squirmed uncomfortably under her scrutiny.

"She is not recovering as quickly as you hoped?"

"You'd have to ask her that, Mr Carrington. I'm sure you wouldn't want me talking to her about your case."

He felt the sting of the gentle rebuke, then a surge of embarrassment. Why was he asking about Alexis at all? "You're right it was wrong of me to ask."

"She asked about you, too, by the way." The Nurse grinned at him, her southern drawl becoming even more pronounced as she added. "So you'll want to tell me why the two of you are so interested in each other but can't stand to be in the same damn room?"

Shoving the last shirt into his pack Blake avoided that question. "Perhaps you should ask her."

"Uh huh. That's what she said."

Yet it wasn't like Blake could give her an answer even if he wanted to. He was not entirely sure why he cared about Alexis's health. She had been so many things to him, most of them unpleasant. Their nine year marriage was still a black hole of pain, exultation, despair and desire. Her unexpected return to Denver almost ten years ago had made him uncomfortable had made it impossible to be even civil to her without her making more of the interaction than what it was. And later, even after she found Dex Dexter, when they'd worked together on the South China Sea oil leases, she'd seemed to hold it against him that those early years had been as difficult as they were.

But he'd thought they'd reached some kind of detente after Krystle left. He'd decided that not having to deal with her replacement had allowed her to finally let go of any lingering bitterness. They'd been cordial to each other when they'd been forced to interact-cordial without being friendly. It had been a comfortable ambivalence.

So why could he not leave it at that? Why worry about her?

Was he worried about her?

He looked over at his Nurse. She was smiling the way Krystle used to when he'd been trying not to laugh at him.

"You have something to say, Nurse?"

"Me? Not a thing, Mr Carrington." She hailed an orderly coming down the corridor, handed him the carryall. "Monroe will take your bag to the jeep out front. You catch the same car to get back here for physical therapy." She gave him a stern look. "And we will know if you don't show up."

"Of course." He let his eyebrow rise slowly, which made her smile.

But then her smile died. She leaned in, pitching her voice low. "I am worried about her. If you could help her..." She shook her head. "Listen to me. Such a busybody. I'll see you around, Mr Carrington." She hurried out.

"Ready, sir?" Monroe asked.

Blake followed him out of the ward. Alexis was already on the jeep. She saw Blake as he got on the vehicle and stared at him for a long moment before looking away.

Blake would not have thought it possible but she looked worse than before, her normally vivid emerald eyes drawn and bloodshot.

He walked to the seat opposite her, sat as Monroe stowed his gear. As the orderly left, Blake looked over at Alexis. She was still staring out the window, as if the view of the center's front entrance was mesmerizing.

"I am pleased to be leaving the ward," Blake tried, offering the unspoken olive branch to drop their previous hostility at least to pass a few moments conversation.

She didn't answer.

"I am sure you are, too." Blake tried again, keeping a tight rein on his anger at Alexis's apparent pettiness. Shouldn't he be the one holding the grudge, she was the one who had baited him not the other way around.

Still Alexis ignored him.

She ignored him…it was an unsettling experience and Blake did his best not to dwell on the feelings it evoked, he certainly refused to dwell on the passing thought that perhaps this felt a little bit like she must have when she'd been trying to get his attention all those years ago. Still he forged on.

"Our Nurse…"

"Is a goddamned troublemaker," Alexis spat, never once turning away from the window. "Leave me alone, Blake. You're usually so very good at that."

Reeling back Blake felt as if she'd slapped him, but was not sure why. Nothing she'd said was untrue yet why then did it feel like she had taken something sharp and rammed it into his chest. Taking a deep, calming breath, he decided to follow her lead and find solace in the view from his window. Alexis didn't want to talk, fine, Blake was an expert at not talking.

Alexis fumed, trying to keep herself awake. She'd ordered coffee from the cafeteria and had found herself restricted to decaf. "Caffeinated beverages are not allowed before a rest period," the orderly had told her.

She'd tried to order several herbal beverages that had no caffeine but would still keep her awake but it seemed these immigrants were getting smarter as despite his poor command of English the orderly had not been fooled….That damn Nurse had to be behind it, that woman saw everything, which was the main reason Alexis had leant so heavily on her doctor to agree to her transfer to the private little dwellings in the first place. At least here she had some semblance of privacy and she could rant and rave without having to explain herself or her feelings to anyone.

If anyone suggested she talk about her feelings one more time….

So she was reduced to cursing.

Every swearword in every language that she knew.

Yet despite purging her feelings it seemed the room became smaller the angrier she got, and she finally gave up, going out to the small patio in the hope that fresh air would wake her up.

"Are you all right?" she heard from the patio next to hers. "I heard yelling, not that I could understand most of it."

She peered into the shadows, he had the lights out and was sitting in darkness, but she would know Blake's voice anywhere. And of course he was in the dwelling next to her that damn interfering Nurse had probably made the room assignments.

She steered her chair clumsily around the low hedge that divided their patios and glared at him. Even up close she could barely make out his expression. Alexis was just about to let fly with her opinion on busybody nurses and unwelcome visitors when Blake's question took her by surprise.

"Would you like some tea?" Blake asked, hiding his own amusement as that seemed to take the wind out of Alexis's sails before she could start her tirade of abuse.

In all of there years together Alexis couldn't once remember Blake offering to make her tea, it was just not something he would do and the change of direction wrong footed her. "I….Will it wake me up or put me to sleep?"

"The latter."

"Then no." Alexis was about to turn, to head back to her own place, her desire to fight leaving her as her ever constant exhaustion returned but before she could she heard him shift, and then his hand settled on her arm. The sudden human contact causing her to stop in surprise.

"You do not wish to sleep?"

She could shake him off, she should have done so but it felt good to be touched. That he'd touched her. That some part of him still cared enough to ask after her.

And she hated that it felt good… Alexis couldn't do this not again…

She jerked her arm away, glaring at him, still not able to see his face in the dark but able to imagine the smug expression nonetheless. Blake had always enjoyed playing with her feelings for him.

"Goodnight Blake"

"Stay," Blake asked, his voice even, as if she had not just rejected his overture. "Please Alexis I'd rather not be alone right now."

She should leave; ignore the something in his voice that called to an equally lonely damaged part of her. Perhaps it had not been that? Perhaps she was imagining it all, the need in his voice, but when in the last ten years had he ever willingly touched her? Blake had admitted a weakness to her, it was only fair she do the same…and perhaps if she admitted it to someone it might help?

As if sensing her thoughts Blake spoke again, his voice low an encouraging. "Sometimes I don't like to sleep either. I'd fight it, any way I can. Often through vigorous exercise."

"Let me guess in your bed with the oh so sterling Krystle?"

The silence was horrible. Why in God's name had she just said that? It was like a self-destruct button that Alexis couldn't help pressing and she cringed in expectation of the backlash. There would be no more chances, or soft questions or casual touches now…

"No. Not in my bed." Blake sounded more than a little angry. His voice tight as if he was trying not to blow up at her. He was probably asking himself why he'd wanted her to stay.

Seizing her escape route Alexis stumbled over her words. "I should go."

Again he grabbed her, and this time he held on firmly. "You did that on purpose? Struck out to anger me so I would forget my original question? You forget how well I know you Alexis."

This time Blake's voice was not low and gentle but rough and dangerous and Alexis tried to pull away.

"When I fought sleep, it was because of my dreams. Bad dreams…"

Trying to calm her pounding heart Alexis exhaled slowly. "I'm fine."

She forced herself to relax in his grip, lulling him into a false sense of security, but as soon as he loosened his grip, she pulled away and using all her strength pushed her chair back over to her own patio.

"Good night, Blake." The quick closing of her door cut off his reply.

If there even was one.

Blake stared into the night, replaying what had just happened. How dare she do that?

He was trying to help, he opened himself up to her when god knows he didn't have to and she threw it back into his face with insults.

She was rude and disgusting and aggressive and Blake was not about to let her continue to get away with this behavior. Others may allow it but he wasn't going to.

Slowly he rose and stepped over to Alexis's patio. He took a step, then another. Two more carried him to the door.

He knocked. There was no answer. He knocked again this time his anger kept him knocking until he got an answer.

Finally Alexis opened the door; she was crying…really crying not just one of those misty eyed performances. Blake couldn't remember the last time he had seen Alexis cry, she was not a woman to shed meaningless tears.

Fallon, when they had thought Fallon was dead and he had gone to visit her in prison to tell her the awful news. Before that it had been Steven, missing and presumed dead after the oil rig explosion and before that…The night had thrown her out of his bed and out of their family's life.

He didn't say anything. Just stood and waited. Waited for an apology or explanation that he doubted would come.

"I'm sorry," Alexis whispered her throat raw as the unaccustomed words spilled from her lips.

He eased her aside so he could step in and closed the door behind him.

Alexis looked over at him, wiping at her eyes as if she was angry he'd caught her crying.

He let out a long breath, a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. "What is wrong?"

"I don't know." By the way her voice trembled, he knew she was telling him the truth. She turned away from him, moving to put some distance between them. She sat, wrapping her arms around her torso, hugging herself. As if she was protecting herself.

From what? From him?

"Talk to me please…let me help if I can…"

Sitting down in a chair across from her, he waited. She smiled at him, and it was the first real smile he'd seen on her face. Even if her lips trembled and the smile died almost instantly.

"Was it the fall?" he asked. "Is it Dex?"

"Why do you even care Blake? Because you can't help him, I know you tried to warn him about me. Because you couldn't help Krystle?"

Ignoring Alexis's attempt at deflection Blake refused to allow her distract him again. "Possibly…does it matter why? Tell me?"

"Helping me won't bring them back you know Blake."

"I am aware of that. Stop avoiding it and answer my question Alexis."

Suddenly she seemed to give up, to stop fighting to keep him out.

Alexis was so exhausted and Blake was relentless. She wouldn't look into those concerned dark eyes, instead she leant back against her chair and stared past him, at something very far away.

"It was bad…falling seemed to take forever and at the same time no time at all. But...I've been more frightened, the fire in the cabin. Much worse..." She met his eyes. "But this time they say I died. For a few minutes. They had to resuscitate me in the ambulance."

"I did not realize that."

"I've been close before." She gave him another shaky smile. "It's a trend for us Carrington's and Colby's, yet somehow we manage to claw our way back."

"Not all of us." His wife was never coming back. Krystle's face swam in front of him with that soft look she used to wear. A look that Blake would never see again because he had failed her.

"I'm sorry," she said. "I didn't mean that one to bring up bad memories."

"I know." He leaned in for a moment debating whether or not to take her hand, yet it seemed too intimate a gesture when Alexis was already bearing her soul. "Are you sleeping?"

"Not if I can help it." Alexis admitted bluntly before looking away. "You were right. It's the dreams. About this accident. About other accidents .Things that went right that suddenly go wrong in the dreams. Things that went wrong that go even worse."

"Has it occurred to you that you may need some time out, to talk to someone…"

"No I can do this by myself...I have taken care of myself for years Blake I can do it again if I have to."

"No doubt you can. But should you?" He looked down. "Perhaps at a subconscious level, you are tired of being constantly at war with everyone, putting yourself at risk. Maybe it is time to let others help?"

"You realize the irony of that coming from you? The man who can't seem to stop himself from taking risks lately. The man who never turns to anyone for help!"

He frowned his dark eyes meeting her knowing gaze. "You've been talking to Fallon?"

"I have." She said it as a challenge, as if daring him rebuke her and he realized she was doing it again, trying to anger him to divert him from the real question.

On the other hand, his recklessness might be an unexpected asset in this situation. What left did he have to lose? "I was not there when my family needed me, Alexis."

She looked surprised he'd admitted that and to her of all people. Yet she wouldn't be Alexis if she couldn't recover just as quickly. "Getting yourself killed through your own stubbornness won't change that Blake."

"You may have a point." Blake leaned back, let his eyes close. "But you are also just as stubborn why else won't you let people help you. All these years what do you have to show for it?"

"I have Colby Co…"

"Colby Co is not a substitute for peace of mind. No matter how much of yourself you have invested."

"I'd get upset with you, but I think you're the pot calling the kettle black, Blake. What do you have left?"

"I have my children...I don't need anything more."

"Ah…"

"Ah?" Blake opened his eyes frowning at her tone. "Surely that it more than enough for any man?"

"A normal person? Or you?" She smiled, but this time it was biting. "There is a difference."

"Do you hate me?" The question seemed to take her by surprise coming as it did from nowhere. It surprised Blake himself but even so he forged on. "Or is it more that you hate yourself for still loving me?"

"Your sense of self-preservation may be shot to hell, but there's nothing wrong with your ego." Alexis bit back shaking her head.

Snorting at her cutting wit Blake let a small smile show. "That is not an answer Alexis."

"What makes you think I'll give you one?"

"After our last conversations, I truly have no idea."

Another smile, real again, broke through, and she laughed softly. "You're a masochist. Who knew that all I had to do to get through to you all these years was ignore you?"

Blake chose to ignore that loaded comment, instead bringing the conversation back to original topic. "Have you told the doctors about your dreams?"

The smile vanished as quickly as it appeared and once again Alexis seemed to shut down.

"They must be logging your activity. I doubt Nurse busybody would allow…"

"They know. They suggested I talk about it. I declined. End of story."

"Perhaps that is why they have not released you?"

"That and the fact I am still getting used to this damn chair and the fact that I look like death warmed over." Alexis bit back sarcastically. Before suddenly pushing her chair into the small kitchen. "Look I appreciate the thought Blake but I really don't want to discuss this with you. Now can I get you something?"

"I am fine."

"I bet the doctors doubt that, too. You're as big a mess as I am. Only you hide it better." Alexis spat back pouring herself a glass of water, her earlier crying fit had left her feeling dehydrated and raw and sipping her water was a good distraction from Blake, his questions and unsettling presence.

"I am." Blake muttered softly causing Alexis to snort with barely repressed amusement.

Turning to look at him, she said, "You just agreed with me, you know? I must remember to mark the date in my calendar, April 24th Blake Carrington admits I am right about something."

"It's late." Blake added, rising from his seat and walking to the door. Perhaps this had been a mistake after all. Talking about Alexis and her problems was one thing but Blake wasn't prepared to discuss his own. "I should go."

"Thank you...for coming over here."

Blake nodded, and saw the sweet smile break through again, realized he was glad to see it. She was probably right, however. He was in danger of making her a project. Even if it would not bring Krystle back.

"Goodnight, Alexis. Try to sleep."

"Yeah, I'll get right on that." She retorted sarcastically picking up an abandoned fashion magazine and flicking through the pages furiously.

He left her to it…after all there was nothing more he could do, and at least he could say he had tried, he owed it to their children to have done that much and perhaps now he would be able to move on. They had been divorced for almost twenty six years….Alexis Colby was no longer his to worry about.

Alexis saw Blake getting off the jeep; he barely paused as he made his way to the entrance, and he wasn't out of breath. He hadn't been last night, either, when he'd come over. She considered moving from the sunny spot she'd chosen, but decided it wouldn't hurt if he saw her watching him. Not after last night.

After last night they were…Alexis wasn't quite sure what last night made them… friends…confidants… certainly no longer enemies.

Yet even so Alexis was still surprised when Blake walked over and dropped into the empty chair next to her without preamble, or hesitation, stretching his legs out and closing his eyes as the sun beat down on him as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

"Good Morning to you, too Blake." Alexis drawled sarcastically watching as his lips tilted up just so slightly.

She had forgotten that once upon a time Blake had enjoyed the more acerbic side to her wit. Before it's venom had been solely directed at him on a daily basis. Life had been good once, hadn't it?

"Did you sleep?" His voice was soft, as if he was utterly relaxed and unconcerned with her answer.

"I'm afraid so."

"Were the dreams unpleasant?"

"They always are." Alexis turned to look at him, waiting for this relaxed Blake Carrington to start lecturing her like he always did, but this time he seemed to have given up, he still had his eyes closed. "Next time, I'll throw something at the wall and let you know I'm up." Alexis added.

"Our bedrooms share a wall. I heard you cry out."

"Oh." That was a revelation Alexis hadn't been expecting and for a moment she felt a flush of embarrassment. God knows what he must had heard her call out. Her dreams were a horrid mess of her worst memories. She hadn't heard him through the walls at all but then Blake normally slept like the dead.

"I'll sleep on the couch next time."

"That won't be necessary." Blake replied and this time Alexis could feel his accessing gaze heating her skin. "Is there nothing the doctors can do?" He added.

"There are ways to suppress dreams, but that isn't wise apparently." Alexis paused rolling her eyes at the so called wisdom of the medical professionals. "The dreams are trying to tell me something."

"What?"

"If I knew that, they'd probably stop." Alexis answered bitterly. "Can we please not talk about this anymore…"

"I see." Blake sighed, a strangely evocative sound and Alexis had to resist the urge to reach out and touch him. The urge to offer a comfort to someone else, one she hadn't felt in an age.

"I dream, too. Of traps I am able to avoid and…"

"Of people you miss?" Of course Krystle, it would always be about Krystle. Suddenly it was far easier to resist touching him.

"Yes." Blake shook his head seemingly oblivious to the subtle change in Alexis's mood. "I do not normally remember my dreams but those tend to stick around."

"Well aren't we the pair?" Alexis drawled until she realized how that sounded and made a sour face. "Or not."

Yet instead of being offended like she expected once again Blake's lips twisted as if he were trying his damndest not to laugh. Not to laugh at her…

"Glad I can amuse you?" Alexis drawled, huffing as she leant back into her chair.

For a moment Blake seemed to think about that, to think about it deeply it, the answer surprising him if the sudden change in his expression was an indicator. "You do."

"Even when I'm being mean to you?" Alexis retorted unsettled by Blake's soft and even tone. No she was not going to dwell on this, not let her imagination run away with her…Blake didn't like her in the slightest, hadn't he made that plain enough over the years?

"You are not being mean to me right now." Blake observed watching the conflict across Alexis's face as she battled some inner demons.

"Well, you know that can change in a flash." Alexis spat back.

"Indeed don't I know it but…" Blake leaned back, closed his eyes again, the picture of unconcern as he feigned disinterest. "I believe we are forging a new understanding."

"Oh you think that do you?"

"I do." Blake's superior calm and knowing attitude prickled her and Alexis and she couldn't help her retort.

"One fucked up invalid to another?"

His eyebrows jumped up in surprise at her unusual vulgarity. "That is not how I would choose to phrase it but empathy is a powerful leveler."

Shaking her head Alexis refused to believe what she was hearing, no this was all some sort of game. She would let her guard down and confide in him and Blake would use it against her. It was time to stop this before things became any weirder than they already were.

"Blake, I get why you're upset. You lost your wife. You're being set up for a murder you didn't commit. And you feel guilty because you weren't there to protect Fallon and Krystina. Your disregard for your own safety is understandable given how adrift you must feel." She took a deep breath. "What I don't get is what's wrong with me."

"You, too, have lost people you care about, have you not?" Blake's question was low and even and his dark eyes flickered open to hold her gaze.

"Adam is missing, yes."

"That is not what I meant." Blake snapped unable to quell a surge of temper at the thought of his eldest son who had turned and fled rather than face the consequences of his actions. That Alexis was hurt because of their boy, because he had failed to straighten Adam out…well that was a feeling Blake would rather not spend time dwelling on.

"I don't…."

Frustrated by the way Alexis seemed determined to hide from the truth even though the answer was so obvious to him Blake couldn't contain his frustration as he snapped. "Dex? You loved him, Alexis. You may have convinced everyone else he was just eye candy; you may even have been able to convince yourself that you hate him for betraying you with Sable. You may even feel guilty for the fact he is lying in a coma"

"I don't have to feel guilty, I wasn't involved no matter what that bitch of a cousin of mine may say…"

Blake held up a hand. "I believe you, I know Adam well enough to imagine how he could lose his temper but perhaps you feel guilty? Perhaps you believe you betrayed him or at least it's your fault he was hurt?"

"I never betrayed him. I had no part in this…" Alexis realized she was starting to cry. "It's not my fault…If Dex had just stayed away from Sable none of this would have happened…"

Blake was regarding her with such sympathy it made it even harder to fight back the tears but she did fight them back.

"I know how you are with people you love, you may rail at them, drive them to distraction but you have always felt things deeply. You loved him Alexis and what's more you still do."

"He cheated on me."

"So?" Blake retorted, this time speaking from his own bitter experience. "Does that make the feelings go away overnight?"

She clenched her fingers, made a fist. She wished she could use it to beat off these feelings that wouldn't die. "No."

"Are you alone, Alexis?" Blake asked. "If you aren't with Dex, do you have someone in your life?"

"Do you see anyone in my life? God even our children have all but abandoned me. Steven left without a word, Adam is on the run, Amanda is off in Europe probably doesn't care whether I live or die and poor Fallon…Fallon has enough problems of her own right now."

"No they care they all do." Blake insisted reaching out and grasping her arm. "They just can't deal with this right now."

"Right back at you, Blake." Alexis spat reeling from her emotional rollercoaster and turning her sights on the man responsible. "I don't see anyone here for you either."

"Well, I admit I am alone."

That quiet sad admission took the wind out of Alexis's sails. A hurting Blake was not something she had ever been able to resist and she leaned in towards him, like a moth to a flame. "Why? Why are you alone? You had Jeff. And Fallon, your little Krystina. God I have even been expecting my cousin Sybil to sweep in to mop your fevered brow."

"I still do." Blake chuckled before he sighed, leaning in toward her, so their heads were very close together, his words hushed. "When Krystle left, it was as if all the air went out of the room. I have other friends. I have family and those who care about me. I just cannot..."

"You just can't forgive yourself for not being able to save her, can you?" She touched his hand; he didn't jerk it away. "Maybe you're right. Maybe I do feel bad about Dex."

"It would be natural, I think." He gently freed his hand trying to lighten the mood and change the subject slightly before he allowed himself to wallow in his misery. "So how did you know I haven't had any visitors?"

"A certain Nurse who has an annoying tendency to gossip whilst she works. Though I can't say I'm upset Sable hasn't deigned to visit." Alexis confessed watching Blake's expression closely.

He glanced at her. "No?"

"Blake. Come on. Given how close you two were getting... And then her and Dex. It was hard enough seeing them together…" Alexis knew she was revealing more than she should but in this new spirit of friendship, it seemed right to do so.

"Actually I requested not to receive any visitors... I didn't feel like having to face the world just yet."

"Oh." Alexis sighed and tried to stifle a yawn.

She was fighting sleep and Blake knew her well enough to realize she was afraid to do so. "I will sit with you. If you want to close your eyes?"

"To sleep, perchance to avoid the hell out of dreaming?" Alexis muttered bitterly.

"A different venue might keep them away." Blake offered hope.

"And having someone to watch over me?" Alexis suddenly looked away. That had been going too far and had just slipped out she hadn't meant to say it lest it made him uncomfortable. Then she felt his hand on her arm. He wasn't leaving and her battered heart leapt for joy in her chest despite her mind telling it not to be so foolish.

"Close your eyes, Alexis."

Obeying a direct Carrington command Alexis leant her head back against the soft headrest on the wheelchair and closed her eyes. Blake didn't pull his hand away, and she smiled.

Unable to resist teasing him, and in a way warning him Alexis whispered softly. "You'll give me the wrong idea, Mr Carrington."

"Sleep." Alexis could hear the smile in his voice and he gave her arm a gentle squeeze and before letting go.

She slept. Not for long, but for the first time in weeks the minutes that passed were free of any dreams and if nothing else Alexis Colby would forever be grateful to Blake Carrington for that simple kindness. For watching over her whilst she slept and keeping her dragons away.

The night breeze was growing uncomfortably cool, and Blake considered going inside. Yet he didn't want to not just yet and the reason for that was growing increasingly complicated. He looked into his small bungalow and knew that he was too restless to retire this early. Yet to invite himself over seemed almost presumptuous. He had gone to Alexis that afternoon, surely if she wanted his company then it was now her turn to come to him?

Anything more from him might seem….desperate?

Blake was just about to give up waiting when he heard Alexis's door open and glanced over, waiting for her to come into view.

"Are you there Blake?" She said very softly.

"I am."

"I have goodies."

"Define that."

"Fallon sent me a few things and I'm willing to share. That's if you want me to come over?" Her voice was very tentative and Blake couldn't recall hearing Alexis sound less sure of herself.

Not that his answer sounded any less needy and pathetic. "Please."

Alexis wheeled herself carefully around the hedge, cradling a small hamper. "You don't really like caviar do you?"

"Not particularly."

"Good. More for me." She pulled a bag out and handed him the package. "However you do like these right? Go nuts."

He could just make out what was inside by the light spilling onto the patio from inside. He saw fruit and a few wrapped wholemeal muffins and pulled one out. "You are sure?"

She glanced over. "There are all yours."

He broke up one of the muffins and then reached for one of the grapes and bit into one; it was tangy and full of juice. He realized she was handing him a napkin and took it, nodding his thanks.

"See someone still cares." She shot him a look.

"I did not say our daughter was not considerate." Blake countered enjoying the taste of some homemade food. Unable to stop wondering why it was Fallon had sent her mother a care package and not one for Blake himself. Perhaps she hoped her parents would share? After all wholemeal muffins were really more Blake's favorite treat than Alexis's….Although somehow Blake imagined even Fallon would struggle to smuggle a magnum of champagne into a health centre.

Still Alexis seemed so happy that their daughter had sent her something, enjoying her caviar with relish so Blake decided not to argue with her. She seemed so...happy.

They ate in silence for several minutes, then she sealed her jar and put it back in the package. He started to do the same with the grapes, but she said, "No, you can keep them they are full of sugar and I have to watch my weight."

"Thank you."

Relaxing in the cordial atmosphere Alexis smiled and leaned back, her eyes drifting closed and for a moment, Blake thought she might fall asleep right there, but then she jerked up.

"Alexis you need sleep." Blake chastised her gently.

"Out here?" Alexis snorted.

"Out here. In your apartment. Wherever you are comfortable."

"Comfort has nothing to do with it, Blake. It's a matter of..." She sighed. "I wake up and I don't know where I am. I don't know if the dreams are real. Sometimes I only think I wake up, and then I realize I'm still in the dream. Those are the worst of all."

He did not answer, just watched as she fidgeted in her chair.

"Besides I napped earlier."

"You slept for less than an hour." Blake countered.

"Well, it was a quality nap."

He let an eyebrow and stern glare answer that.

"Blake, I don't see you offering to tuck me in, so lay off the bedtime routine. I am a big girl I can take care of myself…"

"Would it help if I tucked you in?"

For a moment Alexis stared at him in shock, her expression darkening. "Very funny."

"I was not joking. Would sleeping with someone help?"

"With someone?" She exhaled loudly, a bitter sound. "I don't see a long queue of gentleman beating down my door right now Blake."

"Fine not someone… With me… In the same bed, platonically."

"Right. This is not in the least bit funny Blake."

Frowning Blake leant back. "I don't know why you're being this defensive Alexis I was just making a suggestion…."

"I'm not and stop it with the bizarre questions."

"If it was bizarre, I'm sorry. But I am asking you because I am concerned about the wellbeing of the mother of four of my children, not because I enjoy tormenting you. Do you believe you would sleep better if you were not alone?"

"I don't know. Probably not. You'd just end up getting mauled to death when I tried to wake up." Alexis made to leave unable to meet Blake's probing gaze.

"I thought we were past you storming off into the night."

"I wasn't going to storm; I was going to strategically retreat." Alexis countered grabbing her box. "I am going in now…This…This whatever this is not good for me so can we please just drop it and forget you ever brought it up."

Blake silently watched her leave, eating a few more grapes as she disappeared from his view. Yet it was not Alexis's reaction that he found himself dwelling on it was more the unexpected feeling of disappointment that had welled up that Alexis had not for one second taken him seriously….Was the thought of him lying beside her truly that repellant?

"Alexis?"

She woke. The room was dark. Pitch black. And it was freezing cold.

"Alexis darling, help me?"

She felt around, realized she wasn't on her bed. She was on a cold wooden floor. A floor that felt slick with some substance she didn't want to identify.

"Alexis, for the love of God."

"Dex?" She reached over, felt someone reaching back. Bones bit into her hand, and the lights suddenly went on, and she was holding onto a skeleton.

She screamed. In the dream and all the way into waking. She cut off the scream as soon as she realized she was awake. Sitting up in bed, she tried to catch her breath as her heart hammered in her chest. She wasn't dead she was here she was alive it was just a dream….Dex was still alive, he may be in the coma but he wasn't haunting her.

Suddenly was a knock on her patio door. Guessing who it would be Alexis ignored it. She couldn't deal with him right now.

Another knock, this time louder. Clearly Blake wasn't going to take the hint.

She struggled into her chair and wheeled herself over to the door, opening it and moving aside so Blake could come in.

"You woke me." He was in his pajamas, had not even put a robe on. His silver gray hair mussed and disheveled as if he had woken in a state and rushed over to see her…Alexis ignored the way that fact made her heart beat a little faster.

"I'm sorry. It won't happen again."

"I am not sure that is true." There was a firmness to Blake's voice that brooked no opposition and before Alexis could protest he had grabbed the handles of her chair. He turned her, pushing her toward the bed.

She resisted trying to hold on to the wheels of her chair to stop him, and he just pushed harder.

"You can't be serious, Blake."

He pulled her hand up, holding it at the wrist, so they could both see how badly she was trembling. "You cannot go on like this. You need sleep."

She jerked her hand away, but he pushed her again, toward the bed, with a face set in stone when she turned to glare at him.

"I don't want to sleep with you."

"I am not sure that you know what you want, Alexis. You are too tired." He settled his hand on her back, rubbing gently, it felt much too good.

She spun on him. "You shouldn't do this. You were right. Even after all these years I do still have feelings for you and I'll read into it and it'll ruin things and you'll be so sorry if…"

His hand came down over her mouth. Firmly, but not in a mean way. "Be quiet, Alexis." Blake commanded before helping her out of her chair and into bed before settling in beside her. Pulling the covers up over them, he said, "Do you need me to hold you?"

"No."

"Is the prospect so unpleasant?"

She couldn't answer. It wouldn't be unpleasant. It would be a dream come true but not now. Not because of this. She turned on her side, away from him, and felt him nestle against her. He pulled her closer, molding himself to her back.

"Blake. This isn't a good idea." God just being this close to him was torture, to feel the warmth of his body there and knowing that she would have to give this intimacy back up when Blake realized what a mistake it was.

"Shhh."

He rubbed her hip, his hand moving down, then back up in a soothing rhythm. His touch was warm, and knowing, even through the fabric of her silk pajamas. He knew her body and Alexis could help but arch into his touch dropping her arm, giving him better access, then immediately regretted it.

"Blake."

"Be still."

However he wasn't being still. Everywhere he touched felt like it was on fire, her face felt like it was on fire, too. He still knew her so well and Alexis was powerless to push his hands away way he rubbed slow circles across her stomach. He must know she was getting aroused, then she realized he was, too. He wasn't exactly taking any pains to hide it and that confused her even more.

Did he want sex was that what this was really about?

"Blake. Please."

"Shhh." He stopped stroking her; letting his hand sit on her waist, then slip around her, to nestle under her breasts.

The casual intimacy, the feeling of his breath on her neck had Alexis melting and part of her felt disappointed that he had stopped. "Why are you doing this?"

"You need to know I'm here. Your body needs to know I'm here." Blake explained yet he was glad the darkness hide his blush. He had meant to reassure her with innocent comfort yet it seemed his hands had other ideas…she was just so firm and warm that it had taken all of Blake's restraint not to slip his hands under her clothes and remind himself just how soft her skin was as well.

This was about helping Alexis and not about his own suppressed sexual appetite.

"My body is fully aware of that fact." Alexis snapped before deciding two could play at that game, pushing back, wriggling a little, trying to pay him back for making her so hyperaware of his nearness.

For a moment it would have been so easy. The smooth slope of her alabaster neck was exposed and near his lips and when her pert backside deliberately rubbed against his growing arousal Blake imagined falling. It would be sweet and god knows how much he wanted her right now.

But this was not about him….

Blake let his breath out slowly, blowing slightly against her neck. "Close your eyes," he finally said.

"This isn't a good idea." Yet even as she protested Alexis realized she had put her hand over his, as if part of her was afraid he'd leave and didn't want him to.

"Close your eyes, Alexis."

She closed her eyes as commanded and didn't try to suppress her flicker of irritation from her voice. "Now what? You want me to count sheep?"

He began to murmur something in her ear and It took her a moment to realize it was an old lullaby. One she used to sing to the children when they were babies.

"You've got to be kidding me."

But his voice, so low, so close to her ear, going on in that quiet, soothing tone was too much. She yawned, and felt him tighten his hold. He didn't let up, just kept talking, muttering softly, lulling a grown woman to fall fast asleep. She moaned, shifted a little to get more comfortable and then she was gone.

Eventually the dreams came for her but not until it was light out again and Blake was still there, easing her out of the false waking, stopping the dream from getting worse.

She didn't think, just turned and nestled against him as he soothed her, pressing her lips to the exposed skin above his collar and inhaling the scent of him. Then she realized what she was doing and tried to pull away. "I'm sorry, Blake. I shouldn't have done that."

"Do I appear to mind?"

She met his gaze, could tell he was assessing her and he did not appear at all disturbed despite her practically kissing him.

Gently Blake touched her cheek, his finger moving lightly to the skin under her eye. The dark circles had faded somewhat and her eyes looked more lifelike than they had in weeks.. "You look better."

"Define better." She smiled and saw his expression lift a little. Giving in to her own bad impulses, she cuddled against him, sure that this time he'd push her away.

Yet surprising them both Blake only pulled her closer and held her; until she grew self-conscious at the way their bodies were pressing together and drew back.

Feeling awkward with Blake's assessing gaze moving over her. Alexis couldn't help the most bizarre of thoughts, was this the first time Blake had seen her without make up since she was twenty six? God she must look ancient to him. Reaching for humour to cover her embarrassment Alexis quipped, "so should I make you breakfast or something."

"I am afraid I don't have the time I have a therapy appointment this morning besides you've never been much of a cook Alexis."

"Of course a wise man always has an escape plan." Alexis gave him her best Alexis Colby grin. The breezy look that said nothing mattered. Nothing could get to her. "You don't need to explain it to me Blake, its hardly the first time a man decided sleeping with me was a mistake besides I told you last night you would regret it…so no harm no foul there is no need to mention it again…"

Yet surprisingly Blake didn't appear to like the escape route Alexis had offered him, his brows drawn together in a frown. "I will see you later," he said, as if she was very dim before pressing a chaste kiss to her forehead.

Surprised at the gesture Alexis reached out and stopped him, her hand on his as he started to get out of bed. "You don't have to…"

"I realize that Alexis but tell me hasn't it occurred to you that I might actually want to?" He pulled his hand away very gently and left her alone to enjoy the first morning since the accident that she felt almost human.

Blake was just finishing up his therapy when his former Nurse walked in.

"You're looking stronger."

He looked down at his arms as he worked the exercise machine the way the therapist had showed him. His shoulder ached less each time.

"Ready to get out of here?"

"I am being discharged?" Blake asked in surprise, surprised when for the first time the thought of escape did not fill him with glee but a sense reluctance.

"Well, eventually. Not right this minute." She grinned at him. "Why, were you in a rush to get out of here?" At his look she laughed and walked out.

He realized he'd actually been disappointed at the thought that he might soon be discharged from the Center and as much as he might have once tried to deny it he knew exactly why that was…Or more to the point who… He closed his eyes as he worked his healing muscles, thinking back over the night he'd spent for the most part awake. In bed. With Alexis.

Enjoying being in bed with Alexis.

Wanting to do more than just lie still and hold her.

He knew that his empathy for her, his need to be useful, to make up for letting Krystle down, to make things better somehow had drive him to try and help Alexis , to get her to talk about her dreams with someone. However it hadn't been empathy or any feeling of helpfulness that had kept him next to her, holding her close against him. He'd wanted her, and when she'd cuddled up against him when she woke, he'd wanted her even more.

It had been years since he had thought of her that way. But they were different people now. Broken, perhaps, in some fundamental way. Helping each other put the pieces back?

He finished his exercises and showered, in a hurry to get back to the residence. The jeep moved quickly, and he felt no pings from his chest as he hurried through the lobby and down the hall to his room. Instead the only quickening in his chest was a growing excitement…

He walked out to the patio, expecting for some reason to find her on hers but she wasn't there, the sudden disappointment leaving Blake momentarily breathless. He looked at her door, the curtains were drawn and he couldn't tell if there were any lights on inside or not. Perhaps Alexis had fallen back to sleep without him, the idea left Blake feeling oddly bereft. Or perhaps she simple wanted her privacy?

Pushing his disappointment aside Blake decided to head inside his own dwelling and catch up on the letters that he was slowly working through. God knows the paperwork wasn't going to tend to itself and there were things Andrew had sent him about the Handler investigation Blake needed to catch up on.

A few hours later, he went back out to the patio, sitting this time and eating more of the grapes she'd given him. As he sat, enjoying the gentle breeze, he saw her coming up the path, her hair wet, a damp white t-shirt clinging to her in some spots, going transparent over her dark bathing suit.

He would not have noticed that a week ago. Or he might have noticed, but would not have admitted to enjoying the sight.

Alexis saw him and stopped, for a moment her heart warred with her head then mind made up she headed straight for him, her shoulders set, her lips very tight. The vision of Alexis Colby in control of her empire. Not even waiting for Blake's greeting Alexis jumped straight in

"We need to talk," she said, as brought her chair to an abrupt stop.

"Do we?" Blake replied unable to completely keep the teasing tone from his voice.

"Yes. Last night...I appreciate what you did for me Blake but it can't happen again."

"I see." He picked a small bunch of grapes out and handed it to her; she took it, started eating as if not realizing how casually they had done that. Seemingly no longer caring about the calorie content.

When had it become so easy to share things with her? Grapes. Her bed. Their secrets.

"It's not that I didn't enjoy it."

He let one eyebrow rise at her honesty. She wasn't the only one who had enjoyed it, surely Alexis realized that?

"A lot. Well, except the nightmare part. But the other..." She frowned as if frustrated with the way she was saying whatever she was trying to say. "It's that..."

"Yes?" He knew he was not making it easy for her; found that he did not overly care. There was something delightfully ego massaging about the blush on Alexis's face.

"It's not just therapeutic, or whatever you thought you were doing, for me."

Could lying beside a woman he had wanted so badly that he ached be considered therapeutic? For either of them? Yet Blake did know one thing and that was that he didn't want to stop.

"You know you could say something Blake." Alexis drawled sarcastically as the object of her misplaced affections continued to munch on his own grapes as if she were merely complaining about the weather.

"Was the water nice?"

"What?"

"You were swimming. I have not swum for some time it's been too cold back in Colorado. Was it pleasant?"

"It was the start of my therapy it was more floating than swimming but the water is heated and yes it felt good." Alexis retorted sitting back in her chair as she gazed at Blake in bemusement. "Honestly Blake did you even hear a word I said?"

"I heard every word you said. I could probably, if required, repeat each one." Blake teased before rising from his seat and handing her the bag of grapes. "Now I am going to change, don't go running off. When I get back do you fancy floating some more or are you too tired to head back down?"

"We're going swimming?"

"You can sleep in the sun while I swim if you like. I do not plan to lie next to you, so it shouldn't cause you any undue strain…unless of course I have underestimated the effect of my bathing trunks?"

"This is not a joke Blake."

"I did not say it was." Blake left her with her arms crossed and her mouth set tightly but when he came back out, she was still there and that caused his spirits to lift. "Are you ready?"

She sat there, not looking at him, clutching the bag of grapes to her until he took them away from her and stuck them inside. "I don't understand why you are doing this."

"Swimming? The therapist told me several days ago it would be excellent therapy for my shoulder." Blake retorted not waiting for Alexis's permission as he grabbed the handles of her chair and pushed the back down the path. Yet Blake didn't push them over to the pool but down the path towards the beach. Suddenly the idea of sharing Alexis and her bathing costume with the other patients seemed less appealing and the beach would be quieter.

"Not what I meant." Alexis muttered yet she didn't fight Blake, even if she frowned slightly when she realized where he was taking them.

"Yes, Alexis, I know that."

"Are you sure you want to swim down here? The waves…."

"I am strong enough to cope Alexis. But I appreciate your concern."

"You'll be leaving soon then."

"Eventually." Blake answered his own gut clenching as he recalled the conversation with his nurse only a few hours before. He really wasn't in any hurry any more.

"Well, that's something to think about, too."

Fortunately the beach came in sight before he had to reply. He help Alexis to get settled on a lounge chair, and then walked into the water. It was just cool enough to refresh, but not cold enough to chill. He swam for much longer than he'd first intended, enjoying the feeling of movement with no pressure. Finally, he left the water, walking over to where Alexis lay sleeping in the sun. He adjusted the umbrella over her, keeping her in the shade so her skin would not burn. Then he took the chair next to her, using no umbrella, letting the sun bake him.

Just as Blake was beginning to doze he heard Alexis began to moan softly, and he shook her just enough to pull her out of the dream. A few moments later, she groaned again.

He sat up and leaned over, his fingers ghosting over her skin brushing against the cupid's bow of her lips. That part of him ached to lean over and claim. Feeling her smile under his fingers Blake felt something warm flutter inside his chest. Clearly despite her protests some part of her knew he was here and didn't mind…now if he could just convince the rest of her?

"Sleep," he murmured, then he let go of her. Pushing aside that temptation for another time.

Still continued to smile, her mouth tilting up slowly, and she shifted a little in her sleep. She was hypnotizing to watch and Blake watched her for quite a while before closing his eyes and letting himself doze, too.

Alexis saw Nurse busybody coming and rolled her eyes. "I thought you were off shift?"

"Nope." The nurse picked up the clipboard and studied Alexis's notes. "Oh these are looking better, finally taking my instructions to heart or do I have someone else to thank for this miraculous change in attitude, I mean sleeping, eating and taking part in your physical therapy without complaining!"

"You're awfully impertinent for a nurse you know."

"Any less then I wouldn't be doing my job properly?" The Nurse looked away, but Alexis could tell from her tone she was grinning. "So, how's the new place working out? Nice neighbors?"

Oh of course how could she have been so naïve, "Not bad. I guess I have you to thank for me and Blake being so close?"

"I assigned the rooms but it wasn't my idea. Good friend of yours thought it might help."

Oh that one took even less time, who else would make such a suggestion then send her mother a gift basket knowing Alexis well enough to know she would at least want to rub it into Blake that he hadn't gotten one. It seemed their daughter was interfering once again. "Fallon."

"Nice girl you've both got there." The Nurse grinned at her.

"Was this before or after you told her I wasn't sleeping?"

Her Nurse just laughed and went back to studying the notes. "Your levels are much better. And you've lost that 'I died and forgot to fall down' look. You must be sleeping." She smiled gently. "Seems like our mutual friend may have been right about good company making for a healing environment."

"Blake is not good company." Which was a lie. Blake could always be witty and charming if it suited him and it scared the hell out of Alexis how much she liked being with him like this, just relaxing in each other's company.

She'd awakened on the beach to find Blake dozing in the chair next to her. He'd opened his eyes as she sat up, his expression gentle. She'd been able to feel him close as she rested and it had helped, just like he had said it would.

So she'd let the subject drop, leaving him and heading back to her rooms to change for her check-up.

She watched as the Nurse puttered around, writing comments in her notes. "It's not real, you know?"

"What's not?" The nurse didn't turn around.

"What's going on. It's...a project for him. I'm a project…He is just confused and soon he will realize it and accuse me of taking advantage of him when he was vulnerable."

"Hmm."

"Hmm?"

The Nurse turned, administering the first shot before she met Alexis's eyes. "Is it helping you?"

"You just said it was. So physically yes…emotionally?"

"Is it helping him?"

"I don't know." Alexis admitted looking down unable to meet that concerned gaze. "Yes. Maybe. I honestly don't know."

"Okay, then, your highness. Is it hurting him any?"

For a moment Alexis was going to retort of course but then she thought of how peaceful Blake had looked as he'd watched her. Besides he was a grown man and no one had ever been able to force Blake Carrington into doing something he didn't want to, of all people Alexis knew that better than anyone. "No."

"Then what's the problem?" The Nurse gave her the second shot and smiled. "A few more nights of good sleep and days in physical therapy and you'll soon be out of here."

And then it would be over. The project, Blake's "fix Alexis" experiment, would end and be nothing but a memory.

"You can get out of here now, Mrs Colby." The Nurse touched Alexis on the hand, her skin warm and surprisingly soft. "I've enjoyed getting to know you despite how difficult you've made my job. I'm glad to see you're getting better."

She started to let go and Alexis grabbed her. "Why didn't Doctor Stevens make me talk to the shrinks? He knew I wasn't sleeping."

"Would you have talked to them, or just sat in their offices for an hour wasting good golf time?"

Surprised by the younger woman's candor Alexis laughed, her first good laugh in what felt like whatever. "Probably the latter."

"Yeah, we all thought so, too. Very similar to a certain other person who also rejected that option and that's as much as I'm going to say about this." She patted Alexis's hand. "Go on. I'll see you tomorrow." She headed for the door.

"Thanks..." Alexis frowned a sudden realization coming over her that in typical Alexis Colby fashion... "I don't even know your name."

Surprised by the question the Nurse paused and turned and smiled. "It's Rebecca."

"Rebecca." Alexis shook her head, ashamed that this was the first time she'd even cared enough to know. How often did she do that to the people around her? Not bother to learn their names so she didn't have to take them or their feelings into consideration, even those people who only wanted to help?

"I'm sorry. I should have asked sooner."

"You've had a lot on your mind." With a last smile, Rebecca left her alone.

Blake looked up from his papers and realized he'd worked through what had been left of the afternoon and into the night. He wondered if he should go check on Alexis. Decided if she wanted to see him, she would come to him. The fact that he wanted to see her was something he could ignore, at least until it got too strong to simply ignore. He turned back to the reports, working away another hour before there was a soft knock on his door. He opened it, felt a surge of pleasure when he saw Alexis there.

She had come to him after all.

"Fallon set us up," Alexis said, pushing past him.

Frowning at such a conversation opener Blake allowed Alexis to enter before closing the door behind her. "Would you care to explain how?"

"She and Rebecca are in cahoots. Apparently, she's been keeping tabs on us lately. You probably worried her with your complete lack of concern with personal safety and she's been waiting for me to crack since Dex cheated on me with Sable." She was nervous, talking very fast. "I wasn't sure if I should tell you, but I'd want to know if I were in your shoes…Our own daughter Blake…"

"That was most considerate." Blake replied a hint of a smile in his voice as he reached down and rubbed her shoulders, knowing they had to be sore from pushing her chair around all day and honestly unable to completely resist the growing urge to touch her.

Surprised by Blake's lack of concern and the familiar way his strong hands felt on her aching shoulders Alexis gasped, stopped moving and just stared at him. "Aren't you upset?"

"Should I be?"

"She set us up. Our own flash and blood."

"Yes, you said that." Blake took a deep breath, his fingers kneading the knots in Alexis's shoulders as he marshaled his thoughts. "Knowing our daughter, she no doubt thought we needed help. She saw a way to help us both with minimal effort on her part. While displaying her mother's capacity to meddle."

"You sound as if you admire her."

"It has not hurt either of us."

"How do you know that?" Alexis spat back her face contorted and she looked like she was going to cry.

Alexis's claim was like a fist to Blake's stomach, for a moment it drove all the air from his lungs and he could only babble like an idiot, "I don't understand what you mean."

Huffing frustration Alexis pushed Blake's still hands from her shoulders, turning to stare him fully in the face. "It'll be over soon. You said that yourself. We'll leave and the rehab will be over." She looked at him, her emerald eyes piercing. "How can that do anything but hurt Blake?"

"It is no longer just rehabilitation, Alexis. Are we not friends now?" Blake asked tentatively, friends was the closer he could come to defining his feelings for her, feelings that he wasn't able to completely understand himself.

"Friends who sleep in the same bed?" Alexis drawled back her sarcasm coming out to play. "Who are kidding here Blake because it certainly isn't me!"

"Friends do under extreme circumstances." Blake blustered unable to bare looking at the heatbreak on Alexis's face yet unable to know what he could say to make it better. Instead he turned and walked to the patio door. "I've been thinking of Krystle less I don't dream of her."

"Bully for you Blake. Obsessing isn't healthy."

"I know." Blake answered softly choosing to ignore Alexis's bitterness rather than rise to it. He turned to look at her. "I did let her down."

"No, Blake you didn't. You let her take the chance of being well. If things had gone right you wouldn't think twice about that choice. And you shouldn't dwell on it. You've got to move on. And that's all right. Krystle loved you she wouldn't want you to wallow like this!"

"There is a certain sense to what you say but that doesn't make the doing any easier Alexis I loved her…I still love her…."

"Yes. I know." Blake's admission of love for another woman was like a knife through her own heart but for once Alexis couldn't find it in herself to blame him. He hadn't asked her to fall back in love with him…if she had ever really stopped that is.

Instead Alexis wheeled toward him, compassion evident in the soft way she was looking at him. "You didn't let her down and you didn't let me down. You helped me when I know that couldn't have been easy. We've never been...comfortable with each other not since..."

"That is not true." Blake denied it even though he knew she wasn't lying, things had been difficult between them, not that Alexis could ever understand the real reason why. Yet even if he couldn't find the words that didn't stop Blake from showing her…

He reached out, pulled her close. "We are comfortable now, are we not?"

"It'll end. You'll go your way and I'll go mine. Perhaps we will both go back to Denver but not together."

"And if not Denver where will yours lead?" He brushed her hair back, and she wrapped her arms around him and nestled in. The idea of losing her now, of her going off into the world and no longer being part of his life even only as a friend and former lover that frightened Blake more than he cared to admit even to himself.

"Maybe London." She looked up at him. "And you will have helped me get there."

"You are not there yet. You were still dreaming this afternoon." Blake added clinging to this remaining truth like a drowning man to a piece of driftwood.

"I know but I am sure you have a plan to get me the rest of the way?" Alexis prompted lifting her large emerald eyes up to meet Blake's gaze, giving him all the encouragement he needed.

Calling what he wanted to do with her a plan would be stretching the truth beyond all reason. So he just nodded.

She was looking up at him, waiting, her face turned to his, her lips open slightly. She had a beautiful mouth. He'd forgotten that. He traced it, and saw her eyes widen.

"We're going our separate ways, Blake. In days."

"I know we are. But we are not leaving tonight." He kissed her, startled at the jolt he felt as their lips met.

She reached up, twining her arms around his neck, her body pressed tightly against his. He let his own hands travel under her shirt, finding the warm, soft skin of her back. He pushed himself against her and heard a low moan, then realized it had come from him.

"What are we doing?" she whispered.

"The final step in your rehabilitation, Alexis and in mine. Saying goodbye to ghosts, putting the hurts of the past behind us. Resolving to do better in the future if we can." Blake muttered as he began to pull off her shirt.

Smirking as she saw Blake's reaction to her lack of underwear Alexis ran her fingers through his thick silver hair as his hands touched her naked skin reverently, cupping and stroking her breasts in his palms. "Do you honestly believe that?"

"I do."

"It's a nice thought," Alexis muttered, helping Blake as he lifted her out of her chair and over to his couch before he tugged her pants down. "But are you sure we're not just having sex?"

"We will, of course, do that, as well." He kissed her again, felt her mouth open to his, her tongue fierce against his own.

She was strong. Even sick, even so tired, she was strong and loving in his arms and she was pulling his clothes off, not stopping until Blake was naked. His bare skin to hers. He pushed her down onto the couch, sank down on top of her, hands and mouth everywhere and then they were joined. Easily, almost effortlessly. She met his eyes, and his gaze seemed unfocused at first, then she gasped as he began to move inside, making her arch beneath him.

They kissed as they made love, their movements unhurried, tender. He stroked her back, kissed her neck, fondled her everywhere he had tried not to when he'd been holding her in sleep. He reached down, helping her pleasure along, rediscovering what she liked. She cried out and he let her rest, then he started again, touching her.

"Are you spoiling me?" she asked, biting down on his ear softly.

"The more relaxed you are, the better you will sleep."

"Ah. Very clever prognosis Dr Carrington." She moved to his mouth, kissed him for a long time before pulling away. "And the better I sleep, the better you sleep."

"Precisely." He wanted to say more but words were escaping him and he lost himself in her, pulling her close, burying his face in her chest, breathing in the smell of her as he cried out softly and finally he let go…

She pulled away a little, stroking his face, running her hands through his hair. Her smile was lazy and sweet. "I wasn't wrong. All those years ago when I came back to Denver. We do still have it…."

"I am not the same man, as you knew then. It might not have been the same..." He drew her back to him, kissing her deeply, knowing that she was not the same woman, either.

They'd both been tested. Both found wanting, perhaps. Both were fighting back from that position. He had to find a way to care about life again and Alexis was helping him somehow. Or helping her had helped him and she would go back into the world to try and find her home.

And that would be that.

Blakesuddenly felt cold. Concerned Alexis rubbed his arms, and Blake realized he must have shuddered.

"You know I bet your bed is much warmer, Blake." Alexis teased and he eased off her, gathering her up into his arms, despite her slight weight Blake was grateful for those hours of physical therapy that had rebuilt some of his youthful upper body strength. Still even carrying Alexis the short distance into his bedroom taxed that strength somewhat.

Alexis smile was surprisingly shy as she pulled the covers down and climbed into his bed. Much like a young seventeen year old bride he remembered. Blake lost track of her smile as he kissed his way down her body, finding new ways to make her moan. Then Alexis returned the favor, and he closed his eyes and gave himself over to her mouth and hands. Clearly their years apart had taught his ex-wife a few tricks that left Blake helplessly at her mercy.

They finally lay quietly, cuddled close, and he held her tightly.

She kissed his cheek softly, whispered, "This will be over soon."

She seemed so certain an Blake could only tentatively suggest. "It does not have to be over."

Sighing Alexis ran her fingers along the curve of Blake's chest tracing the lines of his body as she nestled into him. No it was foolish to even entertain the hope that she would finally get him back. Oh Blake was here with her now, they had a connection but would that connection that she felt so deeply be able to survive out there in the real world. With all that history and all those people so anxious to drag them apart?

No it was better to accept this for what it was a beautiful gift made even more beautiful by its fleetingness.

"We both know it will be, Blake. This is lovely but it's like a sunset. It won't last long."

He wanted to argue with her. Tell her she was wrong and that they could last. But fear stopped him. After all they were on different paths and this wonderful healing sex might if they tried to force it to be more might give way to something hurtful and lonely. He had seen it happen to couples who tried to recapture a lost love. He was sure she had, too.

She pushed him to his back, draping herself on top of him. Her eyes were bright with tears, but her voice very calm as she said, "A sunset might not last long, but it's a beautiful thing while it's happening."

He touched her as she kissed him, deciding that this was a beautiful thing. Unexpected and lovely all at once.

When she finally collapsed against him, he held her tightly against him, feeling her heart pump wildly as they lay so close.

"Close your eyes," he said.

"I can't sleep this way."

"Close your eyes."

She closed her eyes. Moments later, she was asleep. They lay that way a long time, her sleeping quietly, no dreams disturbing her rest this time and he watched her and marveled at the whimsy of a world that had brought them back together this late, in a way that healed them both.

She moaned a little, and he let up on her, easing her to her side, nestling close to her. He laid his head on her chest, felt her arms come up to hold him.

"I love you," she murmured, and he looked up to see if he had woken her but she was still asleep. Her arms closed around him, her hands firm and comforting.

"I love you, too," Blake whispered, knowing in that moment that it was true and hoping that some part of her could hear it.

Alexis sat with Blake as he waited for his car. She smiled at him, hoping that it would only be a few days before she would be leaving the center, too. Rebecca had obviously not been in charge of departure plans, or Alexis and Blake would have been on the same ride out.

But maybe maybe this was exactly how it was supposed to be.

How it was supposed to end…. Finally with peace between them.

Alexis took a deep breath, met Blake's eyes and smiled bravely. His expression was very gentle, and he moved a little closer. Suddenly unsure Alexis looked away, afraid she'd lose control if she gave in to the softer Alexis and ended up gazing into his eyes like a lovesick girl.

Instead she stared at the sky, fighting for control as she watched it darken, reds and golds coloring it where the sun was sinking.

"The sunset will be beautiful," Blake said softly watching as the light played across Alexis's face and the brave way she swallowed her tears rather than letting them fall..

"You can watch it on your flight out, maybe?" But it would be gone by then. All over. Just like like they had to be.

Swallowing hard Alexis managed to find the words she needed to say and force them out. "Thank you, Blake. For everything."

"This does not have to be goodbye." But even to his own ears Blake didn't sound very convinced of that.

"Some things happen at a certain time for a certain reason, the combination of events can never be recaptured." Alexis tried to smile, and was afraid it came out crooked. "We probably shouldn't try to."

He exhaled softly Blake had to admit his own fears said the same thing. "Perhaps not."

"We should both give Fallon hell when we see her." Alexis added trying to lighten the mood watching as Blake smiled and nodded.

"She will expect no less."

Alexis nodded, unsure what more there was to say. They'd said what they needed to for the last few days. Said it not with words, but with their bodies. She thought Blake would have stayed with her, but she'd asked him not to. She'd known that it would be hard enough walking away from what she'd experienced so far. Prolonging the inevitable to it would make this just too difficult.

"I will see you from time to time. We still share our children Alexis." Blake grasped at straws, suddenly his departure felt like the worse idea he had ever had.

"I know and I am grateful for that." She leaned in and bumped up against him just a little, felt him push back. "We're friends now, Blake. If you're ever in London stop in anytime."

The limo drove up. She met his eyes, blinked back tears that he didn't seem to mind. "I'll never forget this."

"Nor will I." He seemed reluctant to move, so she gave him a little push.

"Take care of yourself, Blake." It was more than just casual advice, and he almost smiled.

"I shall. Enjoy London and promise to come and visit Denver once and a while."

"I will."

He climbed into the car, and she watched as he settled in, choosing to keep the window rolled down. He did not look away until the limo disappeared around the corner.

It was over. Blake was gone. And he would be all right and she would be all right. Eventually… Alexis paused, eyes pressed closed to keep the tears away.

"Did you hear about the BBQ tonight?"

Alexis turned in her chair, saw Rebecca standing behind her. "Oh, I don't think…"

"Nonsense. You can't turn down good beer and moderately unhealthy food." Rebecca wrapped a hospital-issued jacket around Alexis's shoulders. "Besides. What else have you got to do now that he's gone? Sit in your room and cry?"

"Maybe I just need to think, Rebecca."

"You can think on the way home. Tonight I recommend getting rip roaring drunk, and then you can tell me all the gossip from those high society parties. I'd love that."

"I'd love that too. I…" Alexis started to cry, the tears coming from a place that had less to do with Blake and more to do with things deep inside herself.

Rebecca folded her up in her arms, murmuring, "Oh Alexis. Let it out. It's all right. You're going home, soon."

"What if I don't have anything left to go home to?"

"You'll find that out once you get there, I guess." Rebecca let her clean up a little, then pushing her chair led her down the path to the beach. "But you know what I think? No one fights this hard to get back somewhere they don't belong and then doesn't go ahead and do something amazing with their life...This is just the beginning for you I promise."

"Thanks." Alexis spluttered wiping her tears and running mascara on the edge of her sleeve.

"All part of the service and besides, once you're drunk, you can tell me rip-roaring stories of all the men in your life...I understand you've had quite an interesting selection? Now was Kennedy really among them or is that just an urban legend?"

Alexis laughed. "I don't think so. Some memories I don't want to share."

"Fair enough." Rebecca sighed. "I don't mind saying I was worried about you Alexis. I thought your daughter was off her rocker suggesting you and Blake could help each other."

"She knows us both really well."

"Better than the two of you know yourselves, I guess. Anti-chemistry ring a bell?"

Alexis nodded, smiling in defeat. So now the anti-chemistry was gone, and she and Blake had the real kind of chemistry again. It didn't matter. They still weren't going to be together.

But at least her memories of him didn't have to make her cringe anymore.

Blake watched as the tarmac of Dallas airport fell away as the Denver Carrington jet slowly took to the air. The Texas deal was finally a reality, and Blake stretched tired muscles-muscles that were hurting not because of his injury, but from sitting too long in one chair while age-old enemies hammered out the details for a profitable deal.

He picked the phone, quickly dialing Jeff's number at the office.

"Finished already, Blake?" Jeff asked jovially the moment he answered the phone. "Wow you must have napalmed Old Grunnings for him to have given in so quickly."

"I did."

"And you are well?"

"Getting better every day, yes."

"Well, there's a first time for everything." Jeff had taken to teasing him about his injury record, and Blake let him.

"I will see you when I get back to Jeff."

"Absolutely, I look forward to it, Bye Blake."

Blake gathered up the paperwork and signed contract placing them safely in his briefcase.

He replayed the events of the negotiations, all the way to a day early on when the Old Grunnings and his retinue had stormed out of the room. Blake had nearly gone after them, even knowing the Grunnings hair trigger when angry. But this time he'd sat and waited, making small talk with Grunnings pretty secretary and eventually the old man had come back in, acting as if nothing had happened, and the negotiations had resumed.

They'd been disrupted like that several times, but Blake had not felt the same urge to intervene. He was content to let the process run its own course, which was exactly how it should be.

"Excuse me," he heard and glancing up he caught sight of George his steward holding a few national papers and magazines for his perusal. "Can I get you anything to drink Mr Carrington."

"No thank you." Blake replied pleasantly but he accepted the papers flicking through them as George retreated to the cockpit.

A familiar face caused him to stop flicking. It was an attractive shot, taken not long after her last disastrous marriage dark hair falling to just above her shoulders.

He realized his heart was beating fast, and he knew his mouth was turning up slightly. He hurried to the start of the article, stopping as he caught sight of her name in print, "Alexis."

Scanning the article he felt his anger mounting at the not so subtle cruel hints the hack journalist was making, claiming that perhaps finally the indomitable Alexis Colby had met a challenge she could not win and speculating about the consequences that might have, particularly on Colby Co stock prices. Mrs Colby he claimed could not be reached for comment as she was still recuperating in a private Californian facility, which surprised Blake, surely Alexis should have been released by now?

His phone rang. "Just letting you know Mr Carrington we have an ETA for an arrival in Denver of 3 hours" The pilot's voice held the good humor Blake had been missing. "Unless of course you finishing early means you get to take a vacation. Resort of your choice provided it's within reasonable distance."

"California is within reasonable distance, is it not?" Blake could not believe he had asked that. But he did not regret it exactly.

"Now, I know you're just fooling with me, Mr Carrington. That fine mind of yours has surely not forgotten your High school geography?"

"No I haven't forgotten."

The pilot paused. "You really want to go to California?"

Blake stared out the window, his hands folded in front of him, the way he'd often sat when he was trying to hide the fact that he was operating more under the influence of emotion than common sense. "I do."

Blake sat back in his chair decision made overhearing the two pilots' conversation. "Tom, how fast can we make it California if we don't break any regs?"

"Three and a half hours we need to set down at a local airport and file a new flight plan."

Even Blake was impressed.

"Well lets go to it." Then as Blake went to place the receiver down, he heard the pilot whisper, "And this has to be about a woman."

"Yeah, it's about a woman."

They laughed.

Blake mustered as much dignity as he could as he set the telephone down; he didn't feel he had much to say in his defense. He wanted to get to California, and it was very much about a woman.

Alexis leaned back in her chair, only half listening as Fallon tried to tell her all about the latest gossip. Again.

"Mother have you heard a single word I've said?"

"What?" Alexis asked. "Oh of course Darling…"

"Right. Then what did I say?"

"Fine you have a point, Fallon." She patted her daughter on the shoulder. "I'm just tired the physio is taking a lot out of me…If you don't mind darling…" She paused mid turn to go back into her bungalow, and then stopped dead in her tracks.

"Mother?" Fallon asked, following her gaze. "Oh, my." She swallowed hard.

Blake stood at the other end of the garden. He walked over, making a casual tour of the garden, nodding to the patients. Then he strode up to her. "Alexis…Fallon."

"Daddy."

"Blake."

His face was calm, but his eyes were anything but. He looked amused. And very, very glad to see her.

"This is a surprise," she said.

"Yes." Again the humor glinting out of that handsome face.

Clearly uncomfortable caught in a situation well beyond her reckoning Fallon quickly made her escape.

"I'll visit tomorrow mother…Bye Daddy it's nice to see you…."

"Would you like to talk?" Alexis eventually asked, gesturing to her bungalow pushing her chair quickly along the path.

He nodded and followed her in. He didn't sit; they simple stared neither saying anything.

He glanced at his watch, then said, "I believe one of us better say something before we set a new world record."

"You came to see me." Alexis pointed out succinctly. "So you must have had something on your mind or was this just a I was in the neighborhood courtesy visit?"

"I did. My pilot is very good, but we were not precisely close when he decided to indulge my request to come to Californian."

"Your request?"

He nodded for a moment Blake looked very pleased with himself. Then his expression grew a little more serious, the reason for which soon became clear. "We do not have long to...talk...Visiting hours are nearly over."

"How long?"

"Twenty-five minutes."

"So then talk…Why are you really here Blake?"

"I needed to see you." Blake replied honestly unable to stop himself inching closer. His hands were itching to touch her…it had been days since he had felt her skin under his fingers…

"Needed or wanted?"

"Three sixths of one four eighths of the other. Lets just say I needed and wanted to see you."

"Why Blake stop playing games and tell me what it is you want from me."

"An excellent point and duly noted." Blake retorted unable to quell the chuckle of joy at being able to spar with her once more. "I missed you, I wanted to see you and when I heard you were still here…"

"You wondered why?"

"I admit to being more than a touch curious."

Oh so that was it and to think for a moment she had almost been getting her hopes up. He had all come all this way to see her; still for a man with his own private jet that spur of the moment decision wasn't exactly a declaration of love. Sighing Alexis waved him over to the seat next to her.

"I decided I was being a bit hasty, running away to London when I have so many matters to settle here and besides the facilities here are excellent I would struggle to find better and…"

"And?" Blake asked now truly curious.

"Doctor Stevens was unwilling to discharge me; he was concerned I would have no one to look after me in London. After all paid help will get you so much."

"I'm glad."

"Are you?"

"If you hadn't been here I would have had a wasted trip and felt like an idiot."

Alexis smiled. "Well, you've given Fallon something to gossip about for the next two weeks."

"Only two?" Blake questioned as he stepped edged closer. "Twenty minutes left."

Typical Blake Alexis smiled, wanting to touch him but knowing now that was not why he was here she squashed down the urge and settled for polite conversation. "So how did your first week back go?"

"Jeff said I looked like myself again which can only be a good thing, he was worried about me."

"I've always liked Jeff. He's a good man." Alexis answered softly glancing at her own watch as time ticked away and the moment when Blake would leave her again quickly approached. It had been hard enough to let him go the first time, now to have her hopes raised and dashed a second time Alexis wasn't sure her heart could recuperate.

"I...like him, too." Blake muttered finally lifting his gaze to meet her eyes, and there was absolutely nothing hidden, not the sorrow still for him or something that looked a little like heartbreak badly hidden behind a false smile.

"I'm glad, Blake."

"As am I." Blake moved to the window, seemed to suddenly be a bundle of nervous energy. It was now or never time was running out and he needed to be the one to take this step…

"So why are you really here? You didn't pop in just to check on me." Alexis was as direct as always. "The clock is ticking Blake."

"I wanted…No I want you to come home to Denver." Blake finally admitted turning to face her watching as Alexis's jaw fell open in shock.

"Home…Denver." Alexis replied shaking her head. "Apart from Colby Co what does Denver have…Fallon and the children are here…Steven and Danny are in Washington…Adam is god knows where…What do I have to come home to in Denver?"

Pausing as if unable to believe what he was about to offer Blake crossed the room, taking the seat next to her and her hand in his. "You can come home to me."

"Wha…" Alexis gasped unable to believe what her ears were telling her. Had Blake gone mad or had she, was she finally hearing things now?

"I know its sudden…And dammit even I am not sure what I mean but whether as competitor, companion, friend, lover…I need you home Alexis. I want us to try…"

"You're certain about this?" Alexis asked gripping his hand tightly unshed tears shining in her emerald eyes. "You can't play games with feelings Blake not with mine."

"I am. I can't promise you a happy ending. I won't deceive you, this thing may not work between us out there in the real world but we can give it a chance. And it nothing else I can at least give you a place to recuperate, a place to call home at least until you don't need it anymore."

"Oh you won't get rid of me that easily Mr Carrington." Alexis chuckled grasping Blake firmly by the lapels of his jacket and capturing his lips hungrily with hers, a kiss that Blake enthusiastically returned.

Eventually the kiss came to its natural end and Alexis shifted to rest her head on his shoulder. "So where did you stash your luggage Mr Carrington?" she asked teasingly drawing her nail along the line of Blake's shirt.

Smiling feigned an innocent expression. "What makes you think I would be so presumptuous Mrs Colby."

"Just a guess but I suppose I could provide most things you need." She gave him a slow once over, laughing at how his expression changed as she did so his innocent expression giving way to a familiar hunger one that she could feel building inside her.

She marveled that she could do this, that he could react that way, that she and Blake weren't over. That he had gone out of his way to make it so they weren't over…. A second chance isn't that what she had always wanted and now it was here in her grasp and it made her giddy as a school girl.

Even so Blake's suggestion came as a surprise.

"Alexis are you able to discharge yourself?"

"I like to think so."

"Then I believe if you can call the centre and start packing we both could be ensconced in the penthouse suite at The Ritz Carlton in time for dinner."

"And dessert?"

"If you wish." Blake's hand was on her sliding suggestively back, urging her towards the phone.

"So you're finally leaving?" Their Nurse demanded her act of annoyance undermined by the definite twinkle in her eye as she beheld Blake Carrington helping load Alexis's copious luggage into the back of a waiting limo.

"Mr Carrington and I have some business to attend to. So I'm cutting out a little early. I hope you don't mind?"

"Why should I mind enjoy yourself. Don't think of poor little me slaving away whilst you live the high life." Rebecca stared back at her with the innocent and hardworking look that meant she'd soon be the subject of a hot gossip.

"I really can't thank you enough…For everything."

"You're more than welcome." Rebecca smiled at her, a warm, big smile. She hated to think what the details of the gossip would be.

"Let's go," she murmured to Blake, giving the kind nurse a hug goodbye before allowing Blake to help her into the limo. "So, you want to whisk me away?"

"Yes."

She laughed. "Anxious?"

"I have spent the last few hours anticipating certain things….In particular that thing you do with your tongue when you…" Blake trailed off unable to contain his blush from spreading down his neck as his hand rubbed her knee suggestively.

"Ah." Alexis teased reaching down and covering his hand with her own. "You know I really didn't expect to see you."

"At all? Or now?" Blake bantered back taking the opportunity to lean in an inhale the familiar perfume that lingered on Alexis's skin before pressing his lips to her neck and making her shiver.

"Well, I knew I'd see you around. But...I thought what we had there, stayed there."

"Interesting." He paused and they both gazed out of the window, looking out over the city, to the water where the sun hung above it, the sky looking like it was on fire. "They have sunsets here, too, Alexis."

"So we burn just as hot and fast here and fade away?"

Blake paused thinking carefully before answering. "Sunsets are very dependable, Alexis. The sun sets on a regular basis. It burns bright, and then it burns bright, and then it burns bright..." He gave her a stern look ruining the gesture with a suggestive wiggle of his eyebrows. "We can spend time testing the theory if it helps reassure you?"

Laughing Alexis rested her hand against his chest feeling his heart beat under her palm. "That's ok I think I get it."

"Good. I trust I will not have to repeat the lecture anytime soon?"

"Well I can't promise that…I might have to ask for one or two demonstrations…." Grinning Alexis moved closer. "I've missed you, Blake."

"And I have missed you." Blake answered softly leaning back as he seemed to be studying her. "You have been sleeping?"

"More or less." Alexis shrugged. " Not as well as I did with you there. It's just...going to take a little time but it's not like it was. I'm not afraid to sleep anymore and when the dreams come, I try to figure out what they mean."

"Have you had success with that?"

"Some. I think I did suppress a lot of guilt about Dex. I think a lot of things got shaken out when I got so injured. It made me question so much about my life that I hadn't allowed myself to dwell on..." She stopped surprised as the car pulled up in front of the hotel. "You didn't mention it was so close?"

However Blake himself did not seem as surprised.

"Looked that up, too, huh? Someone was eager weren't they?"

Blushing Blake nodded, a bit sheepishly. It was a bit embarrassing to be obviously quite so desperate.

"I like that."

"Really?" Blake questioned his surprise wiped away when Alexis all but dragged him inside the hotel…clearly he was not the only one desperate.

"Oh, yes."

They rode the elevator up to the top floor, and he pushed her into the fabulous suite. "Hmmmm not bad Blake but somehow I doubt we'll be bothered with the view."

He turned to her as soon as the door was closed behind the bellhop. Pulled her to him and kissed her, pushing her chair against the wall, pressing himself close. She moaned, turning them so that Blake could push her chair into the bedroom. They set a new record for removal of clothes, she thought they might both have chafe marks from silk being yanked off with such vigor.

He pushed her down, murmuring her name in a way he'd never done. Then he was touching her, every way he had before, only it felt different this time.

He'd come all the way to California for this. For her.

She pulled him to her, wanted him inside her. As their bodies joined, he held his fingers to her cheek and forehead, cupping her cheek reverently as he stared deep into her eyes. He was going slow; like he was trying to savor every second.

The gentleness didn't last long.

"I need you Alexis." Blake grunted trying to restrain himself.

Alexis opened her eyes; saw him staring down at her his expression a mixture of joy and agony. "I'm so glad you're back."

"I will always come back for you." Blake whispered.

"Then I'll try to give you a good reason to do so."

"That would…. be agreeable." Blake's whispered gentle tone was at odds with the way he was moving inside her. His movements now frantic and wild.

She gave herself up to him. To whatever this was. To whatever it would become. She kissed him, and saw that he was smiling. She loved him. But she didn't think it was time to say that yet. Although he probably already knew.

After all when hadn't she loved him?

"Are you hungry," she asked later as he lay sprawled next to her on the large bed. "I can order us something."

"Later," Blake muttered his gaze dark, as he pulled her to him, so he could do other things to her as she lay with her back to his front.

Her stomach rumbled, she told it to forget that she'd already skipped lunch.

Blake slowed his movements, whispered in her ear, "Are you hungry?"

"For you." She wiggled against him, reminding him of the priorities, food could wait Alexis had been waiting for this moment for years. Fortunately Blake did not lose track of them again.

Hours later, when his own stomach growled Blake muttered. "I believe you mentioned food?"

Laughing Alexis rolled over to the phone. "Ok so what do you want?"

As an answer Blake pulled her back and kissed her.

"Hmmmm I don't think that's on the hotel menu Mr Carrington," Alexis teased relishing in the way Blake seemingly couldn't get enough of her. "Now I thought you were hungry."

"I am. For so many things."

"For me?."

He nodded. "Yes. For definitely for you."

"Me, too….I'm hungry for you…for us…" And she kissed him long and slow. "Thank you for coming back for me, for giving me my life back."

"I gave you nothing you didn't also give me." Blake answered running his fingers through her hair and curling her hair about his fingers.

They held each other until she finally pulled away and said sternly, "I'm hungry. You do want me to keep my strength up, don't you?"

"What can I say when you're right you're right." As she began to move away, he stopped her, laying a hand against her cheek, cupping it gently. "I believe this can work between us Alexis."

"I believe it can, too." She smiled, knew that a month ago if they'd had a pool for Blake and her making it as a couple, let alone wanting to be in the same room for five minutes, she'd have taken the short odds against.

So for the first time in her life Alexis Colby had never been happier to be proved wrong.