Title: A Christmas for Cameron

Author: Ras

Description: This story occurs somewhere in the future once Cameron and Amanda are a happy couple again; they have been together for quite a long time now. Everything came out in the open, and all couples are still together. The story deals with the past of the Sinclair brothers and the power of love in everyday life (Give it a chance, it gets much better towards the middle).

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters in Another World. I am borrowing them in this story for a nonprofit appreciation of the show. Don't sue.

Rating: ~TV 14, Language, Violence, Suggestive Dialogue

Setting: Christmas Eve at the Cory mansion.

The entire Cory family and all of their friends were gathered around the Christmas tree as light music full of good cheer arose from the background. A maid with a tray of drinks walked around the room.

Cameron hated seeing alcohol, even just champagne. The smell turned his stomach. Ever since he learned to deal with his alcoholism, he couldn't stand to be near the stuff. As the maid neared Cameron, Amanda asked her, "Claudia, did you get the sparkling grape juice that I asked for?"

"Yes Miss, here you go Sir," she said as she handed the bubbling glass to Cameron. Picking up a glass from the other side of the tray, Claudia said, "here you go Miss."

"Actually, I'd like the grape juice as well," Amanda replied.

"Oh . . . certainly, here you are."

Cameron smiled thinking that she wasn't drinking because of him. "She didn't have to do that," he thought to himself, but then kissed her because it was so sweet of her. Amanda had a real bossy side. That was the side that everyone saw, but she had a real soft streak too. It was that side that Cameron had seen in the park that first time they met, and it was that same side that made him fall in love with her.

Matt Cory interrupted Cameron's thoughts when he said, "I propose a toast: to family and loved ones . . . and to Christmas past."

Rachel looked around the room at all the loved ones there, and thought of those not there too. Happy memories flooded her head, happy memories of Mac and Carl . . . times when the family looked quite different, but no less happy. Rachel thought deeply about how each Christmas was different and about how time changed things.

"Mom," Matt's voice broke through her swirl of thoughts. "You still with us?"

"Hmm? Oh yes, I was just thinking . . . about Christmas past. Matt, what's your favorite Christmas memory?"

"Well my happiness Christmas memory would have to be . . . ." His eyes gleamed with the nostalgia of his happy childhood. "There are so many to chose from. You know that would be a great question to pass around the room. You know what we remember or like best about past Christmases."

That's what started it all. Everyone went around reminiscing of Christmas past, of happy times, of Santa Claus and presents, of missed loved ones, pleasant memories.

Everyone had happy memories, everyone that is except for Cameron. Even as Matt first began describing Mac Cory dressing up as Santa Claus and delivering Christmas cheer, Cameron's head filled with memories of his own, but his memories were more correctly labeled traumas. No memory of the Sinclair family could possibly be happy, and that's why Cameron kept pushing them out of his head.

"Stop it," he thought to himself. "Just concentrate on what they're saying . . . okay. These people have happy memories, and you don't. So what? You can handle this." But he couldn't. Every story brought flashes of horror closer and closer to his mind; flashes of Gary flying across the room and liquor bottles rolling across the floor.

********

It was Christmas Day and Cameron was 5 years old. He knew that Santa Claus had been there, and he would get the cherry red fire engine he wanted so badly. Even boys like him were allowed to have fun on Christmas.

"Wake up Gary, it's morning, Christmas morning!" an ecstatic Cameron exclaimed while shaking his eight-year old brother.

Gary looked at his little brother and smiled. Cameron was so excited. "Merry Christmas" Gary said with a grin. He loved Cameron so much, and seeing the thrill in him made him happy too.

"Let's go open presents!" Cameron yelled as he ran for the stairs, his brother two feet behind. They raced at top speed around the couch to where the Christmas tree stood anxiously expecting the brightly colored packages sitting there.

Words can not describe the expression of confusion and disappointment on the faces of two very little boys when they rounded the corner and saw a bare floor in front of them. Bare that is, except for the empty bottles of whisky rolling away from their drunken father's arm. Yes, Christmas Eve at the Sinclair house sure was a happy one.

********

"Don't do this to yourself," the older Cameron thought, pulling himself out of the pain of that memory.

Cameron realized that the conversation had made its way over to Gary, who was there with Josie. At least he wasn't alone in this. Gary had been through the same ordeal that he had. Gary smiled while thinking about the question in front of him and said, "My favorite Christmas was my first Christmas with my beautiful and sexy wife."

Josie laughed and kissed him. "Good answer, but don't think that's getting you a better Christmas present from Santa!"

Santa . . . Cameron hated that stupid myth. "Things are better now. You don't have to think about that anymore" he told himself,. But he did.

********

"Where are all the presents Gary?" a wide eyed child asked his older brother. He was completely clueless; Santa Claus brought presents to all the good boys and girls. He had been good this year, he was sure of that. Even if he hadn't been, Gary had. Gary was the best, always looking out for him and Mom. Surely, Santa Claus would bring Gary presents.

A little older and, as a matter of necessity, much wiser Gary saw right to what was really going on. How could he explain this to his poor Cameron? "There aren't any presents yet because Dad got too smashed to put them out last night." Gary didn't have the heart to do that to his little brother.

"I bet Santa just had trouble getting to the tree, Cameron. Why don't we go back to bed and wait for mom to get up. She'll know where Santa left the presents." Granted it sounded really lousy, but maybe a five-year-old would believe that. Gary just prayed that his mom was in good enough physical condition to get out of bed today. He remembered yelling last night; he had blocked it out to go to sleep.

Of course, Gary's plan completely backfired. Lost in his excitement over Christmas and a cherry red fire engine, Cameron forgot the number one rule of the house: never go anywhere near Dad when he was drunk or hung-over.

"Daddy, Daddy" the naive child yelled at the top of his lungs, "Do you know where Santa Claus put the presents? Did you see where he left them Daddy?"

Seeing what was coming, Gary tried to avert the unavoidable. Maybe if he could get Cameron out of there now, his father would be too drunk to know what was going on.

"Cam, Daddy's tired. Remember we have to be quiet for Daddy. Let's just go back to bed like good boys, okay?" Gary whispered.

Cameron's eyes widened as he realized how "bad" he had been, but it was too late. A dark hand reached out and grabbed Cameron by the arm with a firm grip. The poor boy tried to run, but there was no escaping Mr. Sinclair's grasp.

"Presents are only for good little boys," the sloshed man slurred. "Santa Claus was by here last night all right, and he told me to give you this . . ." With those words he ripped his belt free from its loops and whirled Cameron over. Raising his arm high and back, he whooshed the belt and buckle down with his full might on a bared back. The pain ripped through Cameron's back like a lightening bolt as a wail erupted from his gut. The belt reigned down, again and again. Blows from Santa Claus.

********

Amanda could sense the tension building in Cameron's arms, so she squeezed his hand. "I wonder what he's thinking?" she asked herself. She loved him so much; she couldn't imagine her life without him. She thanked God that she had forgiven him for that stupid thing with Josie months ago. She was meant to be with Cameron, and she couldn't ask for a greater guy.

Cameron smiled at his girlfriend. Amanda sure was something else. He loved her more than life itself, but why did she love him? How could she really love him? She had this huge family and more money than he could even possibly imagine having. Amanda was beautiful, ambitious, and sure of herself. Cameron's heart told him that Amanda loved him no matter what. After all, she had trusted him even after finding out about his being in prison and murdering his own father. Still, his own lack of self-esteem made him doubt. No one had ever really loved him like that. Even Gary who had been so good to him as a child had turned on him, eventually. Did true, steadfast, and unreserved love really exist or was it just another myth?

*******

Gary couldn't stand seeing Cameron getting hurt. He loved his brother more than he loved himself. He was so little and didn't understand. He didn't deserve to be punished like this. What could Gary do? "Mom, Mom," Gary yelled at the top of his lungs running up to her room. Gary banged on the locked door, begging her to get up and help. For her part, the battered wife tried to make it to the door, but never quite did. Realizing that Mom wasn't coming to help, Gary ran back to his brother's side.

The belt was being applied heavy and liberally. Red marks covered Cameron's back; welts and bruises were already starting to pop up. Gary had to stop it. "Don't Dad! It's Christmas; okay? Just leave him alone!" Gary knew it meant a whipping for sure, but at least Dad couldn't hit him and Cameron at the same time.

Still, Gary wasn't prepared for what happened next. A fist grabbed his shirt and lifted him up, slamming him into the wall. "You want this too, is that what it is? Well you're going to see what real pain is today boy! I've had enough of you!"

Cameron's next memory was of the hospital.

********

"What about you Cameron, what was your favorite Christmas like?" Paulina asked with a smile.

"You can handle this Cameron, just make something up . . . Santa Claus and chimneys and presents . . . and Gary going to the hospital because you couldn't keep your mouth shut," he thought to himself. He quickly glanced around the room and realized that all eyes were on him waiting for some happy tale of Christmas past. "and mom's black eye and beltings from Santa" The memory just kept flashing through his head like a slow motion movie: the belt reigning down again and again and Gary flying into the wall.

"It's okay honey; you think about it . . . My favorite Christmas was when . . ." Amanda attempted to come to his rescue, but it was too late. He couldn't listen to another happy Santa Claus story. He had to get out of there. Cameron could feel the tears welling up in his eyes and his throat tightening. "Don't cry Cameron, only wussy babies cry, crying only causes more pain," he thought, but that didn't stop the tears from coming. "Excuse me . . ." he managed to choke out as he barged out of the room and up the stairs to his and Amanda's room.

The once festive room fell somber. Everyone looked around at each other, but all eyes eventually rested on Amanda. She too stood up and gracefully excused herself. As she walked by Gary grabbed her arm and whispered, "just let him go Amanda. Let him blow it off," but she ignored his warning.

Standing outside Cameron's room, Gary's words kept running through her head. "Just let him go." Gary knew Cameron better than anyone, but how could she just let him be? He was obviously in pain, and she wanted to help him. She knew that when it came to stuff like this Cameron had a nice brick wall that he built up from letting people in. "Maybe I should just leave him," she thought to herself, but she couldn't do it. "I won't say anything; he just needs to know that he's loved."

Amanda cautiously tapped on the door. There was no response. "Cam, honey, it's me . . . Can I come in?" Still no response. She slowly opened the door to reveal him.

Cameron lay on his bed looking at the ceiling. Tears fell down from his eyes, but he was trying his damnedest to make them stop. He was NOT crying and that was that. When he saw Amanda's head sticking around the door, he wondered how long she had been standing there. He sat up and wiped the tears from his eyes. He was NOT crying. It was so embarrassing to have her to see him like this. "Just pretend like everything's fine," he told himself.

"Hey," he said as Amanda walked in the room.

"Are you okay?" she asked in a soft voice.

"Oh yeah, I'm fine. It's nothing," Cameron responded, hiding behind the wall.

Amanda just nodded and sat down behind him on the bed. "Why can't he just let me in?" she asked herself. She wrapped her arms around him and just held him. He obviously didn't want to talk about it, but that didn't mean she couldn't let him know how she felt.

Cameron melted at her touch. God, he loved her. But, why had she come up here? "You made a pretty big scene down there," he reminded himself. "She was probably too embarrassed to stay down there. Not only do you mess up your life, you have to ruin everyone else's too."

"I'm sorry I ruined your family get together," he whispered while looking away from her. He couldn't let her see him cry. He couldn't believe how big a baby he was being. Gary could handle this, as a matter of fact, it didn't even seem to phase him, so why couldn't he handle it?

"That doesn't matter, Cameron. I don't care about that. I'm just worried about you!" she said.

Cameron shrugged off her comment.

Amanda wished that she could do something, anything to take away his pain, but any action that could help was completely escaping her grasp. She just said the only thing she could think of, what came completely naturally to her: "Have I told you today how much I love you?"

This question broke Cameron's wall right in two. BOOM! She did love him, no matter how stupid he acted. She loved him no matter what he said or did; she just loved him. He laid his head on her chest and started weeping. It all just started rushing through.

"It's okay, it's okay to have to cry about it. Just let it out . . . let it all out," Amanda comforted him by rocking back and forth.

Her words had the right effect. Someone else would have said "don't cry" or "everything's okay" but she knew what he needed. He needed to cry it out. Even though he didn't want to admit it, he needed her to know.

He tried to tell her about the memory, but the best that came out was, "Santa Claus brought me a belting."

That was all that really needed to be said. Amanda got the point. "Gees, he told me that he came from an abusive home, but I had no idea. What kind of bastard beats his kid on Christmas day?" she wondered. His father really was a monster.

"Gary got hurt real bad," the words blubbered out of Cameron's mouth.

Amanda nodded to let him know that she understood and then just kissed his forehead and continued to rock him. She held him and let him cry, that's what he needed. He needed to cry, and he needed to know that she loved him and cared.

As he slowly settled himself and as the sobbing began to brake up, Amanda held him tighter and whispered, "Talk to me Cameron. What's going on in there?" she asked kissing him again.

Cameron took a deep breath. How could he possibly explain this to her? "She loves you, Cameron," he told himself. "Just start talking and she'll understand. She's always understanding of what you have to say. You don't have to hide from her."

"I just felt so out of place down there. I've . . . I've never had a family, Amanda. I don't know what that feels like. And your family, sharing all of those happy memories . . . I don't have any of those either. I felt like I didn't belong there listening in on your family's happiness."

Amanda shook her head. "Not my family, Cameron. It's our family now, mine and yours. Gary and Josie are there. They're our family and so is everyone else. They all love you Cameron; you are a part of this family now."

Cameron tried to digest what she just said. He couldn't believe it was possible for a family to have so much love. "I keep thinking that I'm going to blink and then, boom, none of this was real. I'll open my eyes up back in prison again, alone."

Amanda caressed a tear off his cheek. "I promise we're real. I know you have doubts, but you can't doubt that we're real, you and me," she said taking his hand and putting it to his chest and hers. "This is real."

He nodded and paused another moment. "I'm afraid that . . . I'm going to screw it up somehow, just like I screw up everything else . . . and then . . . you won't love me anymore."

If only there were something, she could do to help him love himself. "There is NOTHING that you could do to screw us up. Sure, we're going to have problems, but we'll work through them. We've worked through other stuff haven't we?" He nodded. "Cameron, listen to me," she commanded while turning his head towards her, "I love you. That means no matter what. I love you, unconditionally, forever."

Tears trickled down his face. "Unconditionally, forever" no one had ever cared about him like this. No one had ever loved him at all. And then there was

Amanda. She gave him a reason to want to live in the world again.

He moved closer to her, and his lips brushed against hers; he whispered, "I love you too." They're lips joined together, and they're bodies seemed to merge into one as his arm slipped up her back and started unzipping her dress. His touch was exhilarating, electric. She wanted to be even closer to him. Her hands slid up his shirt . . .

"Knock, Knock!" a light bang rang from the door.

Amanda slumped back, disgusted. Cameron laid his head on her stomach, not wanting to stop. "Whoever it is, I am going to kill him," she whispered while stepping off the bed. "Who is it?" she asked while she pulled her dress back up.

"It's Gary," a cautious voice stated.

The door swung wide open. "Hey," Amanda said with a smile. If they had to be interrupted, Gary was a good person to do it. She was glad that Gary had forgiven Cameron and that they were brothers again. Cameron needed family and love; they both did.

"I'm not interrupting anything am I?" Gary asked while walking midway into the room.

Amanda shook her head, but Gary had the feeling that he was. "I guess it's too late" he thought to himself. "Hey, Bro," he said sitting on the bed next to his brother. "I just came to see if you were okay and all?" Cameron didn't look too good; his eyes were bloodshot, and it was obvious he had been crying. Cameron glanced off into the corner, trying to hide his eyes from his brother.

"Doing okay, now," Cameron responded. "Everything's fine."

Amanda had one of her ingenious plans that often got her in trouble. "Why don't I let you two talk?" she suggested stepping out of the room before Gary or Cameron could object.

"Damn it," Gary thought. "Why do women always want me to talk about things?" He hated having to talk about it. It hurt; it sucked; so why talk about it.

A silence fell over the room. Neither brother spoke. It was just an awkward position.

********

Amanda paced the hallway over and over. Maybe this hadn't been such a good idea. Surely, Gary could make Cameron feel better though. She just didn't like feeling out of control of the situation. How long was it going to take them? What were they talking about?

Light footsteps could be heard coming up the steps. Amanda whirled around; it was Josie. She breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, someone who could understand what she was going through.

"Where's Gary?"

"In talking to Cameron."

"Wow, that's impressive."

"I just hope it works," Amanda said slumping to a seated position on the floor. Josie joined her.

"Gary's doing a lot better coping with the past since Cameron came and he knows that I know at least a little of what went on at that house. I think its easier for him to talk about it now. I think that hard place in his heart where he wouldn't let me go seems to be getting smaller."

"Well, hopefully, they can help each other work through this. If only they'll talk to each other."

Josie wondered if that would ever happen. Gary was pretty quiet and so was Cameron. Gary hated talking about the past. Would they be willing to risk the pain to help each other?

They waited.

********

Finally, Gary decided to break the stillness. "You know I do remember the Christmas you were thinking about." There, he had said it.

"Do you?" the tears started up again. Cameron got enraged with himself again for being such a baby. He didn't like letting other people see that he could be hurt. Then they'd know just what to do to get to him. Opening himself up like this was so hard. "You seemed so fine down there. . . . How do you . . . how do you get it out of your head?"

"The memories never go away, Cam. You don't forget about seeing your baby brother beaten the Hell out of or having to go the hospital on Christmas day. When I think about those memories, they still hurt . . . a lot," another deep breath. "But you have to think about what you DO have. I have a wonderful wife who loves me. What I said about my favorite Christmas being the first one I had with her was the exact truth because it was the first happy Christmas I ever had."

"I don't have any happy Christmases to remember at all, Gary. About the best one I had was in prison, because I was served a real meal, and some church group brought us bibles for presents."

"You have THIS Christmas. Start making the happy memories now. There is a great lady standing out there in the hall who is madly in love with you and wants nothing more than to see you happy. Start making the good memories with her right now."

Cameron nodded. Gary was right; he had been thinking on the past so much that he had almost overlooked what he had right there in front of him. "You're right, Gary. I'm going to go make those happy memories right now."

Cameron walked out first, greeting Amanda immediately with a smile.

"Thank God, it worked," she thought to herself.

"Hey there, sweetheart, you ready to go back to a Christmas party?" Cameron asked in a much happier tone while reaching for her hand.

Amanda nodded and took his hand as they walked down the stairs. Gary held Josie in his arms too. They truly were a family.

"I'm ready to start making some of these good memories I keep hearing about," Cameron commented as they hit the bottom of the stairs.

"Actually I have one planned for right now. At least I hope you think it's good news," she said. Turning to the entire group she announced in a loud voice, "Everyone, can I have your attention please?" The room quieted. "I was going to save this for a Christmas present, but um . . . this will be my favorite Christmas memory so I'm going to announce it now. I'm . . . I mean Cameron and I . . . we're preg . . . we're going to have a baby."

A rush of ahhs and congratulations came through the room.

"A baby . . ." Cameron said in awe.

Amanda nodded, "You're happy, aren't you hun?"

"YES, are you kidding? Yes! . . . it's just . . . I'm going be a daddy!"

"Congratulations, Bro! I can't wait to spoil my nephew," Gary said giving Cameron a light slap on the back.

"Wait a minute, I want a niece," Josie pipped in with a smile.

"Hey, don't I get a say in this?" Amanda asked.

"Of course, what do you want honey?" Cameron asked, still in a state of shock.

"I want a little boy as handsome and loving as his father . . . and as fun as his Uncle Gary, and as smart as his Uncle Matt, and as loving as his Aunt Paulina, and as wonderful as his grandparents."

---To be continued----