Series 11: Full Circle continuation

Last time on Dynasty

---

"I love Krystle, I am going to marry her not you, we are going to raise our daughter together and you will have no part in our lives. I should never have gotten involved with you again; it was a mistake from the very beginning."

"A mistake is that all?"

Pausing Blake forced himself to nod wracking his brain for something anything to make her mad, a furious Alexis vowing revenge was far easier to face than this silent broken woman who lay at his feet.

"I didn't...don't love you Alexis not like I love her...You were simply convenient."

---

"Fallon!" Blake sharp exclamation stopped his daughter mid-flow and she turned to him in astonishment. "I'm sorry but I am really not in the mood for company right now."

Stunned by the outright dismissal Fallon stood still in surprise for a moment. "What happened did you and Mummy have a fight…Is that why you disappeared? Is that why she isn't here?"

"I would really rather not talk about this now." Blake muttered and he meant every word. It was still too raw, the confrontation with Alexis had flayed his emotions and he was in no state to go over every detail with his daughter, who like her mother refused to leave any stone unturned.

"But?"

"Fallon please. We'll talk about in the morning...I just can't..." Blake pleaded softly glancing up sadly at her, watching as Fallon's face paled and she glanced towards the door, clearly planning on immediately checking on her mother. Without another word of protest she sat her glass down and strode out the door.

---

"You Bastard!" Alexis screamed to the empty office before flinging the photograph as far from her as possible, relishing the sound of smashing glass and splintering wood.

Yet it wasn't enough.

Possessed by a fury the like of which she had never felt Alexis swept everything off of her desk in one swipe before turning her attention to anything else she could throw. Vases were smashed, papers scattered, crystal inkwell thrown smashing and staining the light walls. Her carefully tended exotic plants were uprooted, dirt smeared across the cream carpet until sobbing she collapsed in an undignified heap against the wall.

---

"So he dumped you. Just like that. Oh Alexis I..."

"No. No pity." Alexis hissed testily, finally a crack in her emotionless facade. "Don't you dare feel sorry for me."

"I can't help it." Dex answered honestly. "Darling I..." Dex added his voice breaking with emotion.

Standing on the edge Alexis could see all the twinkling lights of Denver. It seemed so perfect and unreal. Here nothing could touch her and she felt nothing, not her pain nor the chill of the wintry air. Yet the moment Dex's voice broke something broke in her as well. Waves of pain rushed over her, forcing the air from her lungs and the power from her limbs. Collapsing into herself she only managed to gasp "Dex" before she felt the blackness overtake her and she fell.

---

"Oh Mummy." Fallon whispered moving to crouch next to her mother; hesitantly reaching out to take her hand.

"She looks so small." Adam added from the doorway, unable to step inside and confront the issue, looking for all the world like the lost orphan he once thought he was.

Biting his lip Steven struggled to contain his feelings, he wanted to lash out, barely able to contain his anger. Seeing his mother like this only served to increase his fury.

Watching as Alexis's chest slowly rose and fell; he allowed his own breathing to slip into the same rhythm, his anger slowly building with each breath until it roared in his ears. He was never going to forgive Blake Carrington for this, never.

---

Episode 1:Consequences

----

Walking into the master bedroom Blake prepared himself for a fight.

Pushing open the door he was surprised to find the room neat and tidy, well apart from the mountain of luggage that seemed to dominate the space. Crossing the room quickly Blake pushed open the door to Alexis's dressing room surprised to find not Alexis herself but Fallon packing away the last of Alexis's things.

"Fallon what are you doing, where's your mother?"

Keeping her face turned away Fallon wiped angrily at the tears that kept trickling silently down her cheeks. "She's gone."

"What…When…Where?" Blake barked.

"She left, you told her too." Fallon retorted bitterly.

"I didn't mean she had to go straight away."

"You didn't honestly think she'd want to stay here another minute did you?" Fallon hissed, slamming the last trunk shut.

"Fallon what happened was between your mother and me…"

"And it's none of my business." Fallon finished for him.

Sighing as he tried to think of some way to reach his daughter to make her understand without giving her all the gory details Blake reached for Fallon stunned when she shrugged off his embrace.

"If you'll excuse me I need to have these delivered." Fallon muttered racing towards the door.

But before she could escape Blake asked once more. "Fallon where is your mother, is there anyone with her?" He added unable to keep all emotion from his voice.

Alexis was missing, hurting and it bothered him; he knew he couldn't go to her himself, he couldn't take the risk of his resolve weakening but he couldn't stomach the idea of her being alone. The possibility frightened him.

Trembling Fallon finally turned to face her father; no longer trying to hide the tears that made silent tracks down her face. Just the sight of him caused her discomfort. The man who had always been her rock, her world, her protector, had almost cost her mother's life and for the first time Fallon had to look at her father and see him for what he really was; just a man, flawed like all others and it distressed her terribly.

"Don't try and convince me you actually care, it won't work. As for where mother is, frankly that's none of your damn business, not anymore!" She said unable to stand being in the same room as him a moment longer.

Suddenly alone Blake gazed around the empty room, the bare closet and shelves, reflected his current state. He felt stripped raw. She was gone, he had no idea where and she clearly had given orders for him not to be told. She was cutting him out of her life; unknowingly ripping him cleanly in two, taking with her that part of him that was hers and always would be.

And what made it hurt the most was the knowledge he had asked her to do it.

Looking into the full-length mirror that dominated the room Blake saw a shell of a man stare back at him. On the surface he seemed the same as always. Neatly pressed, a composed noble expression on his brow but the eyes, they reflected the turmoil within; the ongoing war between duty and desire.

Unable to face looking at his reflection a moment longer Blake fled back into the bedroom hoping for some respite but no sooner had he entered than the door opened and Gerard appeared with several men.

"Oh forgive me Mr Carrington Miss Fallon asked us to retrieve Mrs Colby's things…Mr Carrington we can come back later?"

"No." Blake said softly. "Do it now and Gerard contact the decorators I want this room put back exactly the way it was before."

"Very good Mr Carrington and Mrs Colby's dressing room?"

"Seal it up." Blake added. "I don't want to see it again."

Nodding the butler silently withdrew, the trunks quickly vanishing until the door shut behind them for the last time.

Falling into one of the fireside chairs Blake stared around the empty room, knowing this was the last time he would see it like this. The last remaining monument to the months he and Alexis had spent together, to the future they had been planning. One big happy Carrington Colby family, the dynasty and empire that would last for many generations to come, now lay in ruins about him.

Destroyed by his own hands.

As surely as Nero had fiddled whilst Rome burned, Blake Carrington had stood by and watched as his family's bright future disintegrated.

Clenching his fist he beat it firmly against his forehead trying to drive out such morbid thoughts and feelings but over and over again his thoughts returned to Alexis, wondering and worrying.

"I'm so sorry Alexis…Wherever you are you have to know that…I do love you, and I always will but I cannot change things. If I abandoned Krystle now I couldn't live with myself, I would blame you for my weakness and it would destroy us just as surely. I'd end up hurting you no matter what I do." Blake muttered, not sure whether it was to reassure himself or in prayer that some higher power would intercede and convey his thoughts to his beloved.

Wherever she was, she had to be alright. He needed her to be alright.

---

Drumming his fingers against the side of his Styrofoam coffee cup Frank Dobson resisted the urge to glance once again at the clock. This freeway cafe was not his idea of an ideal morning spot but then it wasn't him doing the choosing.

Finally the payphone began to ring and checking to make sure no one was paying him the least amount of attention Frank slipped into the kiosk and picked up the receiver.

"The weather is pleasant in Havana." A crisp female voice announced as easily as if she were giving out the weather report on television.

"Then there should be a good harvest of bananas." Frank replied inwardly rolling his eye at the over the top cloak and dagger tactics favored by his client.

"Connecting you now sir." The female voice added and the line clicked and began to ring for a moment until it as picked up and a deep gravelly voice spoke.

"Dobson."

"Mr Davenport." Frank answered respectfully. No matter his client's fondness for dramatics the man was loaded and it was his clout with certain officials that had speeded up his request for parole.

"You had no problems?" The gravelly voice of the mysterious Mr Davenport demanded.

"No sir. Carrington's eldest son, Adam that is, proved most helpful. He has me set up in a respectable area, a line of credit untraceable to yourself."

"Excellent and your progress on infiltrating Denver Carrington?" Davenport demanded, his patience clearly in short supply.

Swallowing nervously Frank paused before answering. "It is progressing sir, I have an in at Colby Co, and with Mrs Colby's close relationship to Mr Carrington…"

"That is not acceptable."

"But…"

"The Carrington Colby connection has been successfully terminated." Davenport growled his patience clearly at an end. "You will find another means to attack Carrington."

"But…"

"I don't enjoy repeating myself Mr Dobson, the support of Colby Co and the Colby fortune is now out of Carrington's reach, he has never been more vulnerable. So you will find another means to destroy Blake Carrington that was the sole reason you were re-activated. Unless of course you would prefer to return to jail?"

"No…No sir." Frank answered unable to conceal the frown that marred his brow even as the line went dead.

His employer had just made his job ten times more difficult, but somehow he would find away. After all he knew what happened to people who failed Charles Davenport. He had been lucky to only end up in jail, Captain Handler as his replacement hadn't gotten off anywhere near as lightly.

---

Groaning as she woke up; Alexis blinked her eyes trying the shift the bleary images.

As things slowly came into focus Alexis frowned, confused as she studied a particularly ugly lamp on the bedside table. With a shall encrusted base and ugly orange shade it was an eyesore, one that Alexis was certain she could not own…And why would Blake have changed…

Blake.

Her train of thought came to an abrupt end. Thoughts of Blake, of the night before came flooding back; at least she thought it was the night before. And along with them the pain. Choking back a sob Alexis shook her head, now was not the time for this, she had to figure out where she was and she couldn't do that if she allowed one thought of Blake to distract her. So she forced her pain down, trampling it down into her stomach.

Confused and groggy Alexis swung her legs out of the bed staggering as she stood up and tried to keep her balance. Taking a deep breath Alexis forced one foot in front of the other, ignoring the dizzy drugged feeling as she made her way over to the window.

Leaning against the sill she was surprised to find it ajar, a warm breeze caressing her face causing wisps of hair to dance about. Squinting against the bright sunshine Alexis knew only one thing for certain; she was not in Denver anymore, not in Colorado. Yet she had no memory of taking her jet, of planning any trip.

Out of the window the rural terrain stretched out to the horizon, vast dusty pastures giving way to rocky desert the vista unbroken by any other house. The only break in the landscape was the occasional grove of Orange Maces that sprung up along a dirt track that stretched off into the distance. The only sound, other than the wind, the lowing of cattle.

She was alone…

Or if not alone, isolated, in the middle of nowhere and she had no memory of how she came to be here.

Glancing around the spartan room Alexis took in the decoration. Other than the bed, the only other pieces of furniture were a set of rickety chest of drawers with her purse set on top and an armchair over which her fur was draped, her shoes sat neatly beside it on the stripped floorboards.

She hadn't been robbed.

A quick glance at her wrist, which was still circled by several thousands of dollars worth of diamonds confirmed that.

Running her hands down her body, she was relieved when nothing hurt and her clothes although rumpled appeared untouched; so it appeared she hadn't been molested either.

So that only left one other option…Kidnapping.

She was a very wealthy woman. Blake was a rich man. Her kidnapper couldn't be expected to realise they had broken up and Blake was more likely to pay him to keep her here than want her returned.

Yet somehow despite the logic Alexis couldn't help doubting the idea. She didn't feel threatened or confined.

And what kidnapper left their hostage alone in a room they could easily escape from?

True she was in the middle of nowhere but she had her purse and her shoes; escape would be onerous but not impossible.

So if kidnapping didn't fit…

Suddenly as if her brain had finally woken up the pieces began to slide into place.

Colby Co…

The Roof…

Dex…

Dex had been there, he had stopped her.

And slowly memories of another time and another meeting with Mr Dexter flooded back.

"With your eyes and your incredible body you would simply thrive in New Mexico…"

"New Mexico…" Alexis had scoffed trying to place as much space between herself and her persistent young suitor."

Nodding Dex had ignored her attempts to flee, crossing the room and leaning over her, his dark eyes moving hungrily over her body. "I have a ranch there…I know a narrow dirt road that winds itself like a snake through Navaho country…Through Orange Maces…To a spot where the turquoise seems to float to the surface."

Growling Alexis slammed her hand down on the bedside table the sharp noise drawing the attention of the ranch's only other occupant, who rushed to open the bedroom door uncertain just what reception he would get, but afraid that she might have fallen and hurt herself.

Scowling the moment she head the door click open Alexis whirled round the full focus of her fury directed at a silent Dex.

"Dex Dexter what the hell do you think you are playing at?"

---

"Dex Dexter you have pulled some stunts in your time but this one really takes the cake…This is kidnapping Dex!" Alexis all but screeched, her hands firmly on her hips as she stared Dex down.

"It was a rescue and we both damn well know it Alexis!" Dex retorted trying to keep his voice even, realizing just how his must all look, yet he would be damned if he let her accused him of having anything but having her best interests at heart.

Rolling her eyes at his earnest tone Alexis scoffed. "Don't be so dramatic Dex. Now I don't know what the hell you were thinking of bringing me here, but we are leaving."

"No." Dex answered simply crossing his arms and watching her stunned expression.

"Fine you can stay but I refuse to remain here a moment longer." Alexis hissed stomping over to her shoes and coat, slipping her heels back on picking up her fur and purse.

"Neither of us are going anywhere Alexis." Dex added holding his hands up and blocking the door.

"You can't keep me here Dex."

"Watch me." Dex retorted watching as her expression changed rapidly from righteous fury, to disbelief then back to anger.

"And how exactly do you expect to accomplish that; planning on tying me to the bedposts? Sorry Darling I didn't realize that was your thing…" Alexis added raising a provocative eyebrow.

Fighting a blush as he visualized that particular scenario Dex shook his head, focusing on the here and now and not impossible fantasies.

"Oh you're free to try and walk out of here but we are a good thirty miles from the nearest town and in those heels and this heat I doubt you'd make more than five before you turned back."

Flinging her purse down Alexis huffed her annoyance. "Fine I'll phone for a car…No the Colby Co helicopter, the sooner I am away from you and this hovel the better!"

"Ahhh." Dex added unable to keep a smile from playing about his lips. "There might be a slight problem with that Mrs Colby..."

Clenching her jaw Alexis felt herself begin to shake as the reality of their situation set in. "Let me guess, no phone?"

"Oh there is a phone, we are not quite as behind the times out here in the sticks but it just might have been cut off." Dex admitted with a smirk.

"Might have been…You mean you had it cut off on purpose." Alexis hissed her cheeks flushing with anger. "You can't just kidnap me Dex, people will notice I am missing, my children…"

"Know exactly where you are." Dex finished for her. "In fact they suggested it."

"What?"

"Alexis it is for the best, you needed somewhere to recover, somewhere discrete." Dex added pleadingly hoping that he could appeal to her common sense if nothing else.

"I don't need to recover I'm not sick, what I need is to go home, to get the hell away from you…from…from…"

"From Blake? And do you even have a home anymore Alexis?" Dex queried innocently watching closely as Alexis's face blanched.

"That is none of your damn business." She hissed, backing away from him.

"It became my damn business when I was the one to find you on that roof." Dex snapped back coming near the end of his tether, he hadn't slept more than two hours together, terrified that he might miss her waking up, might not be there when she needed him and that lack of sleep was beginning to show.

"You were the one planning on killing yourself by throwing yourself off of your own building! If anyone can be accused of being dramatic…"

"Don't be ridiculous Dex…"

"Oh now I'm ridiculous?" Dex snapped.

"Yes I never had any intention of doing something so idiotic." Alexis added.

"Well at least we agree on something…"

"Thank you." Alexis cut in smugly, her smirk falling off quickly when Dex added. "That you were being idiotic."

"How dare…"

"And delusional, I was there remember." Dex cut her off reaching into his back pocket and pulling out a familiar piece of paper. "Remember this? Or shall I read an excerpt to jog your memory a little."

"That was not addressed to you Dexter, and it is certainly none of your business." Alexis snapped closing the distance between them and reaching to snatch the letter from him, yet Dex anticipated that and yanked it back out of her reach.

Grabbing Alexis's upper arm Dex leant close, his dark eyes scanning her face searching desperately for some sign, some crack in her façade that he could use to break through this armor of denial.

Muttering softly he watched her expression closely. "You can stand here and lie to me, lie to yourself, until you are blue in the face Alexis." He paused reaching up to cup her face between his hands, shaking her gently when she continued to glare at him, her emerald eyes frozen like chips of ice.

"But I was there up on that roof with you and I know what I saw, what I heard…The woman up on that building wasn't an Alexis Colby I knew and I'll be honest it scared the crap out of me."

Snorting in derision Alexis pushed his hands away before retorting sarcastically. "What an elegant expression, your Wyoming education really paid off didn't it Dex."

Clenching his jaw Dex couldn't bite back his angry response, she just knew the buttons to press to make him mad and for a moment Dex forgot what she had recently been through as he hissed. "And how elegant would you have been splattered all over that pavement?"

Reeling back Alexis gasped, her hand lifting up and slapping him right across the face.

Massaging his jaw Dex allowed the blow, relieved that finally he seemed to be getting through to her, knowing that as much as he would love to pull her close and console her that would probably be the worst thing he could do at this moment. He had to keep pushing her, pushing her until she admitted what she had been planning on doing.

"Do you have any idea how seeing you like that would have been for your children? Or didn't you even think about that? How you killing yourself might hurt them?"

"Don't you dare talk to me about my children." Alexis hissed unable to keep the tremble from her voice, wrapping her arms around herself in a defensive gesture.

"Why not? Because you don't care to hear the truth Alexis? That you valued your wounded pride over them, because that's what it looks like from where I am standing."

"No…No…I didn't mean…I thought it would be easier, that they wouldn't have to choose."

"So you admit it! Blake dumped you Alexis, so you chose to throw your life away." Dex ploughed on even though it was breaking his heart seeing her teeter on the cusp of breaking down.

"I always knew you as a self obsessed woman, but I always thought you loved your children. You certainly claimed to enough. But what do they say, actions speak louder than words, and all your actions have proven is just how selfish you really are!"

This time Dex was expecting her blow and he caught her wrist before she could slap him, holding it tight as Alexis struggled against him.

"You're losing your touch Alexis."

"You Bastard…" Alexis screeched thumping him on the chest with her other fist, tears finally springing to her eyes. In her temper Alexis tried to hold them back, swearing she was not going to give Dex the satisfaction of seeing her breakdown.

Yet Dex wouldn't be Dex if he didn't know her better than she knew herself, he could see her wavering, the sheen of unspilt tears in her eyes. Running his hands down her arms Dex pulled her into his embrace, crushing her against his chest as he rubbed her back, feeling her control break and sobs wrack her tiny frame he held her close as she cried.

"I hate you." Alexis choked out into his damp plaid shirt, yet she still fisted her hands into the fabric so he couldn't leave.

Tucking her head under his chin Dex rubbed her shoulders, his heart clenching as he felt every sob like a fatal blow, adding softly. "I know I hate me too sometimes."

---

Blake Carrington hated himself sometimes, hated what life had made him become, or perhaps if he were honest what he had made out of life. Yet as he pushed opened the door to the library and caught sight of his assembled staff Blake couldn't think of a damn way to change things, not without making everything ten times worse. No he had made his bed now he had to lie in it; it was time to stop feeling sorry for himself.

He had a second chance, a chance that a year ago he would have given every possession he owned up for. He didn't have the right to complain about the unfairness of it, even if it seemed God had an ironic sense of humor not to mention timing.

"Thank you for waiting for me." Blake said to his assembled staff, unable to ignore the exchanged looks and whispered comments that were being exchanged; clearly news of Alexis's departure was now common knowledge.

It was to be expected news like that, especially in a house like this, would travel fast; Blake could only hope it was sans any of the gory details. He couldn't bear it if on top of the pain he had already caused, he had added public humiliation to the list of injuries he had inflicted. Yet even he wasn't naive enough to think, despite his best intentions or any commands he gave his staff, that his split from his Alexis wouldn't eventually make the papers. Everything he did now would be damage limitation.

"As I am sure you are aware Mrs Colby has moved out of the mansion." Blake added pausing as his throat closed up painfully.

"It was a difficult and private matter that I ask you to respect. However there is some news that you need to be made aware as it will directly affect you all. A week ago I traveled to Switzerland, and I am delighted to report that Mrs Carrington has finally woken from her coma."

Blake stopped as excited whispers broke out amongst the staff, most of whom had served under the last Mrs Carrington and Krystle had been a popular employer.

Holding up his hand to stem the tide of questions Blake raised his voice to be heard over the chatter. "Yes I understand that this is most sudden and exciting news. I will be heading back to Switzerland in a few days and as soon as the doctors give their permission I will bring Mrs Carrington home with me."

"Oh Mr Carrington this is wonderful news." Jeanette broke in drabbing back happy tears. "Miss Krystina must be so excited."

"Thank you Jeanette." Blake added forcing a smile as that seemed appropriate, yet he envied the way his staff could take such uncomplicated joy in Krystle's recovery.

"This will of course be a difficult time for all of us, Krystle will need therapy after such a long time in a coma and I ask you all to show consideration…What I mean to say is that I would appreciate it if you kept the gossip of the last six months to a minimum…"

"Or what he is trying to say, is that he expects you all to take a vow silence about my mother's residence in this house, or am I wrong Daddy?" Fallon's sharp accusatory tone cut through the suddenly deathly quiet room.

Taking a deep breath Blake turned and glared at Fallon, yet instead of quailing under his glare Fallon met it and returned it just as harshly.

"Now is not the time Fa…"

"Well when will be?" Fallon cut him off. "After you've re-written the last six months, pretending to yourself that they never happened. Well sorry Daddy but I doubt the rest of the world will see it that way."

Gritting his teeth in an effort to control himself, since at least Blake recognized they had an audience. "I am not trying to pretend otherwise Fallon, but is it asking too much for a little discretion?"

Folding her arms Fallon fixed him with her blue eyes narrowed in disgust. "You don't mean discretion you mean misdirection. Have you even told Krystle about you and Mummy?"

"That young lady is frankly none of your business."

"It is if you expect me to lie for you, expect us all to pretend nothing has changed." Fallon added waving her hand at the gathered staff who awkwardly gawped at this very public row.

Sighing Blake ran his hands through his hair before turning back to his staff. "If you would excuse us…I will see you all individually about Mrs Carrington's requirements."

Waiting until the last member of staff had left Blake turned and grabbed Fallon by the arm. "What the hell do you think you are playing at Fallon, how dare you talk to me like that in front of the staff?"

"I'm trying to get you to face reality Daddy." Fallon retorted pulling herself free of his grasp. "I'm trying to stop you before you make the biggest mistake of your life!"

"Mistake?" Blake echoed shaking his head. "I've made a choice Fallon, I had to for the sake of my family, but how can you of all people call it a mistake? You know what Krystle means to this family…to me. Do you really think I could abandon her?"

"You've abandoned Mummy!" Fallon hissed her face scrunching up as she fought back the tears, the memory of her mother laying small and sedated still haunted her thoughts.

"Your mother is strong, she will recover…"

"You are certain of that? If you…" Fallon started, never more tempted to throw Alexis's attempt at suicide in his face, to see how her father would recoil in horror and guilt. Yet the thought of anyone else finding that out, of having that hold over her mother stopped the words on her tongue.

"If I what?" Blake demanded his own temper getting the better of him. It was hard enough justifying his decision to himself; he didn't need this right now. "Don't stop Fallon, say what you really mean."

Shaking her head Fallon turned and strode out of the library, wiping at the tears that had sprung to her eyes. It just wasn't fair and here she was caught slap bang in the middle. So she didn't see the person loitering in the hallway until she ran smack into them.

"Hey what's wrong?"

At Jeff's soft concerned tone Fallon felt what remained of her control break and she flung her arms around his shoulders, relieved when he held her close. At least here was someone she could rely on.

Frowning in alarm and confusion Jeff held his sobbing wife close unable to make out her mutterings by sure something terrible had happened yet unsure what to do about it. It was only as he saw Steven come striding down the corridor, his own face twisted up with pain and anger that Jeff once again found his voice.

"Will somebody please tell me what the hell is going on?"

---

Standing in front of the full length mirror Jeff Colby held two ties up against his shirt unable to choose between them.

"The red or the blue Fallon?" He called out, a frown marring his handsome face as his question hung in the air unanswered.

Glancing back over his shoulder Jeff resisted the urge to sigh before trying for the second time to get his wife's attention. "Fallon."

His sharp tone finally snapped Fallon out of her daydream and she almost dropped the spoonful of grapefruit that had been hovering in front of her mouth for the last five minutes. "Jeff?"

"The blue or the red?" He repeated alternating the ties, his concern growing when Fallon shrugged her shoulders disinterestedly and continued to play with her breakfast, pushing it round and round her plate before taking a half hearted bite.

"I don't know…The blue I suppose." Fallon finally answered her blue eyes unfocusing again as she drifted off once more.

"I wish you would tell me what is really going on Fallon." Jeff muttered sadly watching his wife's reflection in the mirror as he knotted his tie. "I know there is more to it, I just wish you could confide in me." He added when she tensed and pushed her unfinished breakfast away with a look of barely restrained revulsion.

Flinging back the covers Fallon escaped to the bathroom, turning on the shower and hoping that Jeff would drop it; knowing it was becoming harder and harder to keep the truth to herself. She loved Jeff and she hated keeping things from him, but he was Blake's man through and through, straight down the line, and the moment he knew what had happened with Alexis he would insist that Blake had a right to know. And that was something Fallon knew had to be avoided at all cost, her mother had already been humiliated enough.

Yet this time Jeff didn't drop it as she had hoped, this time he followed her into the bathroom, leaning against the sink as she stepped under the water, running her hands through her hair and sighing as she hot spray beat down on her skin.

"It's been a week Fallon."

"I know how long it has been Jeff." Fallon snapped unable to keep her irritation from her voice completely.

Yet Jeff ignored her sarcasm and pressed on regardless of all the warning signals. "It's been a week since Alexis left and I know you haven't spoken to Blake since I got back from LA. You can't carry on avoiding your father forever Fallon."

"I'm not…I just can't look at him right now, not without…" Fallon broke off biting her lip, and blinking back the tears that at the moment seemed to constantly sit below the surface. Her emotions had been all over the place for days and even avoiding Blake did little to calm them.

"You don't join the family for breakfast, you are working late so you can miss dinner…"

"I've been busy, with the conference on, you know that!"

"Stop making excuses. I've barely seen you for days, it has got to stop."

"Jeff please…I just can't…not yet it's too soon."

"You have to try, we live in the same house…"

"That can change." Fallon muttered petulantly slamming the water off and grabbing a towel as she got out of the shower, doing her best to ignore her husband's concerned gaze. "Just leave it Jeff…You'll be late for work, we both will be."

Sighing Jeff nodded reluctantly, following Fallon back into the bedroom. Yet he couldn't leave it like this, he didn't want them to part on a cross word. Wrapping his arms around her waist he muttered. "I just wish you'd let me in."

Then pressing a kiss to her damp forehead he released her slowly and picked up his suit jacket. "I'll see you at dinner?" He asked waiting until Fallon paused in brushing her hair and nodded before heading towards the door.

Pausing on the threshold Jeff tried one last time. "I know you seem set against it, but Blake is leaving for Switzerland today…All I am saying is try and clear the air before he leaves. Even if you can't forgive him, at least try for Krystle's sake; she's going to have enough to deal with without being stuck in the middle of a Carrington feud."

Trembling as Jeff shut the door behind him, Fallon set her hairbrush back on the vanity. Perhaps he had a small point, as mad as she was at Blake, she didn't have any right to ruin Krystle's homecoming. It wasn't right to blame her for a situation beyond her control. Yet there was still a petty childlike part of her that couldn't help blaming Krystle. If she had stayed how she was then none of this would have happened, and Fallon was ashamed when she realized how she was feeling.

Perhaps…Just perhaps she could try and negotiate a truce, not let Blake off the hook, but for Krystle's sake.

---

To say the last few days had been difficult for Blake would have been an understatement. To the wider world it would seem little had changed, he still got up at the same time, he still went to the office and worked as hard as ever, left late and returned home just in time for dinner. Yet beneath the noble brow and calm façade Blake Carrington was a deeply conflicted man.

Sitting at the head of the table Blake pretended to be engrossed in his newspaper, yet it was only a prop, a crutch that meant he could pretend to ignore the lack of conversation and tense atmosphere. Hidden behind the paper Blake could ignore the way Adam and Dana hurried their breakfast, making excuses about an early start. Ignore the way Krystina toyed with her food, when even the prospect of pancakes couldn't distract her from asking questions about when Alexis would be coming home.

Fallon was still furious with him and that hurt far more than he thought it would.

True he had expected a certain level of anger from his children. Alexis was their mother after all and it was only natural that having grown used to their parents' reunion they would find it difficult to accept a separation. Yet as a mother herself he would have thought at least Fallon would be able to see it from his point of view. Krystina was still so young, she needed her mother.

Blake could only console himself with the thought that it was only because they didn't know the full story. Once Krystle was home and her treatment underway and successful perhaps then would be the right time to tell them everything. Once they knew about the tumor they would understand why he did what he did; how he had little choice in the matter it was simply the right thing to do.

Until then he simply had to accept their anger, to let them come to terms with it in their own way.

To come to terms with it himself as well and he had to sooner rather than later. To stop waking up in the middle of the night with Alexis's name on his lips and rolling over to her side of the bed, pulling her pillow into his arms as a substitute. To stop worrying about where she was, whom she was with. To stop listening for her name in conversation, or scanning the paper for a picture. He had to find a way to stop loving her, or pretty soon he would be torn apart.

And he had to tell Krystle the truth, or at least a version of the truth.

Blake was so engrossed in his own thoughts that he didn't notice when Steven arrived for breakfast; in fact it wasn't until his son was seated next to him with a plate of eggs and a cup of coffee, his tentative.

"Dad can we talk?"

That Blake even noticed he was there.

Folding down one corner of his paper, so that he could glance over the top Blake raised an eyebrow in surprise. "I'm glad at least one of my children is talking to me but if this is going to be about your mother Steven…"

"No Dad this is about me, my future." Steven replied softly and a surprised Blake folded his paper and sat it down beside his plate to give his son his undivided attention.

"I'm listening Steven."

Sighing Steven paused before continuing. "This is kind of…well hard to admit. Dad I think I made a mistake moving to Washington. It was a snap decision."

"Which you are now regretting?"

"Yeah." Steven added softly. "I miss Denver, my family, hell I even miss arguing with the company controller…I want to come back Dad."

"Are you saying you want to come back home?" Blake asked pleasantly surprised.

"I'm saying more than that Dad, I want to come back to Denver Carrington, I want to have the chance to work with you again; properly this time."

Smiling Blake leant back in his chair, out of all of his children he had expected Steven to support his mother, to head back to Colby Co without a second thought. Yet he wanted to come to work with him, finally after all these years of waiting.

"That is the first good news I have heard in days. I'd love to have you work with me son. In fact whilst I'm away why don't you get yourself acquainted with our current projects, I'll tell Marsha to give you access to the confidential files. That way when I am back we can have a meeting to discuss which projects you want to lead on."

Smiling Steven added softly. "Thanks Dad."

"No, thank you Son…Well I'd better finish my packing." Blake added getting to his feet and patting his son on the shoulder.

"Have a good trip Dad, give Krystle my love."

"I will." Blake added a small smile tugging at his lips as he made his way to the door before adding in a low tone. "You don't know how good it feels to know one of my children doesn't hate me."

The moment Blake disappeared out the door Steven's smile fell away, his face contorting in disgust as he glared at his cold breakfast, muttering under his breath. "I wouldn't be so sure about that."

---

Dex Dexter was a man of many skills. He could multitask managing companies, run a rig site, plan an international rescue and do a mean Paso Doble. Yet cooking was not one of his talents. He could heat food and grill the occasional steak, yet that was the extent of his skills. So it took most of his concentration to put together a breakfast that Alexis might even consider eating.

It was simple, assorted fresh fruit, some lightly buttered toast but Dex was proud of his accomplishment, now if he could only get her to eat it.

Knocking lightly on her door Dex waited for an answer, not surprised when none was forthcoming.

Alexis had spent the last few days holed up in her room, withdrawing from him more and more. Where at first she would wail at him demanding he take her home, occasionally punctuating her demands by throwing whatever was to hand; the last day or so she had barely reacted to his presence at all. Instead she spent her days curled up in her bedside chair staring out of the window lost in thought, ignoring all attempts to draw her out of herself. When she wasn't there she was curled up in bed, shutting out the world.

Dex was beginning to miss ducking whenever he entered her room.

Entering the darkened room he set the breakfast tray on the chest of drawers moving to the window to yank open the curtains. That at least got some reaction, even if it was only a groan as Alexis pulled the covers over her head.

"It's after ten Alexis. You need to get up."

Yet Alexis didn't answer, burrowing deeper into her nest.

"You've hibernated long enough." Dex added, straining his hearing to catch her muttered. "Too early."

"It wouldn't be too early if you had gotten to bed before three." Dex snapped his patience waning. "And don't tell me I was imagining things, I heard you pacing."

"Spying on me now Dex." Alexis snorted sarcastically. "Why am I not surprised, after kidnapping what's a little voyeurism?"

Biting down on his lip to stifle his retort Dex ran his hand through his hair, calming himself before trying another tactic. "I made breakfast…I got you some of that fresh papaya you like."

"I'm not hungry."

"That's what you said at dinner, damnit Alexis you need to eat."

"S'no point." Alexis mumbled.

"Fine don't eat it…But at least take a shower and change. I told you yesterday that some of your things had arrived, and you haven't so much at looked at them…Alexis are you even listening to me?" Dex added testily when she didn't answer and made no effort to move, convinced that if she ignored him long enough he would give in a leave her alone to wallow.

Yet that was the final straw for Dex.

He had tried waiting patiently, tried cajoling. Had tried giving her time and space to deal with her ghosts.

After her initial breakdown she had become increasingly apathetic and it didn't take a psych degree to recognize the early signs of depression. Well Dex's patience had come to an end, what Alexis needed was a short sharp shock to jar her out of it. That was how they dealt with things out here; it was time to introduce Alexis to therapy Dexter style.

Crossing the room Dex dragged back the covers off of a startled Alexis as roughly as he had opened the curtains. She was curled up in the same shirt and shorts he had lent her the day after they arrived, and Dex ignored the expanse of shapely tanned thigh as he picked her up and flung her over his shoulder.

For a moment Alexis was too stunned to react and that was all it took for Dex to march them both out of her bedroom, along the hallway, through the great room and kitchen and out into the yard.

At the feel of the cool morning air on her bare skin Alexis squirm and kick in an effort to try and escape, yet Dex's hands tightened on her and she couldn't get him to let her go. It was only when Dex shifted her slightly and began to drag the lid off of the large water butt that Alexis really began to panic.

"Dex…Don't you dar…" She began her words cut off as she was suddenly dumped in the freezing water.

The sheer iciness took her breath away as she slipped beneath the surface, gasping for air the moment she bobbed to the surface. Alexis pushed her sodden curls out of her face unable to stop herself spluttering and chattering with cold.

"You…You…" She stuttered so shocked that even insults weren't forthcoming, staring up at Dex from between the gaps in her fringe.

Relenting slightly at the pathetic sight in front of him Dex reached out and half helped, half dragged Alexis out of the water butt. Her entire frame was shaking and Dex tried to avoid staring, but even he couldn't ignore the way her shirt was now practically transparent, clung to her like a second layer of skin.

"You Bastard!" Alexis finally managed to complete her insult, elbowing Dex in the stomach and deliberately stomping on his foot as she pushed passed him and strode towards the house.

"I'd take a nice hot shower if I were you." Dex smirked as he called after her, unable to tear his eyes away as his ex-wife stalked back to the ranch house. He may be a gentleman but he was still human after all, and damn she looked good.

"Try not to drip all over the carpet!" He called out smugly, laughing as Alexis continued walking yet gave him the finger before disappearing into the house.

A few minutes later he noted with a sense of satisfaction the sound of running water and the missing vanity case.

Perhaps…Perhaps they had finally turned a corner?

---

For Blake venturing back into the master bedroom for the first time since Alexis had vacated it was more difficult than he was prepared to admit. He stood in the doorway for a few minutes shocked by the complete transformation it was almost as if the last few months had simply been a dream from which he was only now waking up from. Yet Blake refused to dwell on those thoughts, marching over to his dresser in search of some spare socks his hand stopping as his hand met something unexpected.

Closing his fingers around the wrapped package Blake pulled it out frowning in confusion. Unwrapping the unassuming plain brown paper Blake choked back a sob. Nestled inside were three pairs of plain black socks, at first glance they appeared unadorned yet each pair had a small-embroidered patch. One the Denver Carrington logo, the next the emblem for his football team and the last his initials interlinked with another familiar set of letters. Dropping them back into the paper, Blake finally noticed the handwritten note.

"For my beloved Blake, just a little something for all the men you are, forever yours Alexis."

Blake stared at the note his fingers automatically tracing her looped handwriting, lingering on the capital A of her name. His heart lurching painfully, a sharp pain stabbing at his chest taking his breath away so for a moment he almost thought he was having an attack. That was certainly the only reason tears were pricking his eyelids or his hand was trembling.

For a moment Blake considered slamming the drawer shut, of escaping the room and telling Gerard to deal with them, yet he couldn't do it. Picking up the pair with their initials intertwined Blake didn't have the heart to discard them, yet he couldn't leave them here not where anyone might find them. Crossing to the safe set behind a favorite oil painting Blake entered the combination and swung it open. Reaching inside he rummaged through stacks of legal papers until he found his box, pulling it out Blake flipped open the lid; a smile tugging at his lips as he caught sight of his mother's portrait smiling up at him.

Underneath there were assorted items, or varying value, an old broken pocket watch that Tom had given him when Blake had gotten his first job, one of the few moments Blake could remember seeing a proud look in his father's eye. Assorted pictures of each of his children, their baby smiles caught forever. The set of keys to his first car, a beaten up old Cadillac that had meant Blake had been able to travel between the rig and his night classes.

Pushing all these aside Blake placed the socks and her note at the bottom before covering them over once again. Placing the box back in the safe, securing his treasures behind a reinforced door, Blake tried to do the same with his errant emotions. Locking his love for Alexis away behind a padlock, never to be spoken of, never to be admitted to, not even to himself.

He pictured Krystle's face in his mind, her warm loving eyes, her gentle smile; the peace he always felt when he was around her. He let the gentle love he still felt for her fill him.

Once he was in command of himself again Blake returned to his dresser, picking a few pairs of socks, his hands automatically avoiding the remaining two embroidered pairs. Then finishing his packing Blake picked up his suitcase and strode out of the room without a second glance.

Yet he hadn't expected his new resolution to be tested halfway down the staircase as he followed an unaware Fallon and Krystina, his sharp hearing picking up snippets of their conversation.

"So she isn't mad at me, that wasn't why she left?"

"No Krystina, Alexis could never be mad at you."

"You will tell her I miss her."

"Of course I will…I'll send her your love in my next letter I promise." Fallon reassured her.

"You'll tell her to come home soon right?" Krystina added earnestly.

Pausing out of their eye line Blake watched as Fallon swallowed nervously before leaning down and pressing a kiss to Krystina's forehead and he missed her whispered reply.

Waiting until Krystina scampered down the remaining steps and out the house to the waiting car Blake called out to his eldest daughter. "Fallon."

Hearing her father's voice Fallon tried not to overreact, forcing herself to relax and to school her features into a neutral expression Jeff's parting comment repeating in her mind. "Daddy…I've been meaning to talk to you, about last week…" Fallon began cordially.

Yet if Blake heard her hesitance his preoccupation with her previous conversation overruled his commonsense. "Do you really think it is appropriate to discuss your Mother with Krystina?"

Stunned by the sudden attack Fallon was unable to immediately answer. "What?"

"Krystle will be coming home soon and the last thing I want Krystina asking is when your mother will be returning as well."

"She has a name you know." Fallon spat her previous good intention flying out the window. The coldness with which her father referred to Alexis causing her blood to boil.

"That is not the point, Krystle is Krystina's mother and whilst I am away I would prefer it if you encouraged her to be excited about her mother's return not dwell on Alexis's departure. Is that clear?"

"Crystal clear." Fallon spat sarcasm dripping from her tongue.

Scowling Blake bit back an angry reply, glancing at his watch he realized he was already running late. "We will finish this when I get back…In the meantime I would appreciate you doing as I ask and if you could try and limit your disdain for me and my decisions whilst around my youngest child I would appreciate it."

Standing on the stairs Fallon watched her father stride away her fists clenched so tightly that her fingernails cut into her palms. She had tried, tried to do as Jeff suggested, yet it was hardly her fault if Blake refused her attempt to clear the air.

---

It was supposed to be a quiet consuming activity and since Dex had banned her from sitting in her room during the day with threats of another trip to the water butt if she refused; Alexis had taken her manicure set and claimed the comfortable rocker on the veranda. She needed the sun desperately, one glance in the pokey old mirror in the bathroom had confirmed that, she had shadows under her eyes that made her face seem old and gaunt.

And depressed or not she still had standards.

Besides sitting outside also got her out from under Dex's feet and his mother hen impression; god if he asked her one more time if she was alright or needed anything she thought she might actually scream, that or rip his head off.

Of course she wasn't fine.

She was far from fine. Her heart physically ached in her chest; even drawing breath was hard work. She wanted nothing more than to let herself sleep, sleep and forget. To push aside memories of Blake, of his callous betrayal but most importantly ignore the way her treacherous heart still longed for him.

But she had tried that, had spent the days trying to doze away, to keep the pain away and it only made the nights unbearable. When she was unable to sleep, when the pitch dark and silence seemed to close in on her and she struggled to tell dreams from reality. So she had paced the nights away and slept the days.

Yet it hadn't helped…Nothing had helped so far, so really she had nothing to lose by trying to keep herself busy.

She missed Blake…Her children…Her life. Yet she couldn't see a way forward, it was if the path was concealed and all she could do was stagger about blind. It would be so much easier to give up.

Yet every time she thought about it, about that time on the roof when everything had been so clear, so wonderfully numb, she couldn't help but remember Dex's words that first day she had woken up here. He had accused her of being selfish, of deliberately inflicted the worse kind of pain on her children. Blake Carrington was not worth hurting her children, not again.

So for them, even if not for herself she had to keep trying. To find a way to get from one day to next…

"Are you planning on sitting there and doing that all day?" Dex's petulant tone cut through Alexis's musing and she stared up at him from under her scowl; her quick eyes taking in his long lean form as he leant lazily against the screen door.

"I will take as long as necessary." She retorted sharply, feeling the weight of his gaze on her Alexis actually returned to shaping her nails, the rhythmic motion almost soothing.

"Because I could use your help with lunch…And there is some laundry to do." Dex added.

Snorting in distinct un-amusement Alexis didn't even lift her eyes to glare at him this time. "As I am your enforced guest Dex don't you think it is a little rude to expect me to do chores?"

"That depends on whether you want clean sheets on your bed." Dex replied glibly unable to keep the bite from his tone.

"I'm busy Dex, my nails won't finish themselves and besides detergent would ruin the finish." Alexis retorted setting down her nail file and picking up her buffer. "Now if you're so busy, as you claim, I suggest you hurry back…Wouldn't want to waste your day."

Yet Dex wouldn't be Dex if he simply accepted her sarcasm with good grace and left without putting up a fight.

So Alexis was startled when Dex grasped her hand, examining her nails closely as a beautician might. "You're right these are nowhere near finished."

"See I…" Alexis began startled when Dex picked up the nail clippers and positioned them over her beautifully shaped thumb nail.

"Dex don't!"

"Well…" Dex sighed dramatically his fingers poised dangerously around the clipper. "If doing a few chores would ruin them its best they go now…"

"No!"

"So you'll do the laundry?" Dex asked, suddenly all smiles even when Alexis scowled her eyes burning a hole in his chest.

"I'll do the laundry." She grudgingly agreed, relieved when Dex handed over the clippers.

"Excellent, washer is the outhouse, detergent in the cupboard above it…" Dex said reaching into the kitchen for the basket of washing, dumping it on Alexis's lap before she could object.

"And don't forget to separate the colors from the whites!" Dex added smugly before quickly darting out of the way as Alexis hurled her clippers at him and they bounced off of the closing screen door. Cutting off her flustered exclamation of retribution as Alexis struggled out from under the mountain of laundry.

And not for the first time Dex wished he had had the forethought to bring a camera.

---

Part 5:

---

Rummaging around the kitchen as he dried their lunch things and put them away Dex frowned as he took a mental inventory of their food. If they were going to be here much longer he needed to take the truck to the nearest town and stock up. Hearing the screen door shut close behind him Dex smiled as he heard Alexis mumble complaints under her breath.

She hated doing chores that much was obvious but he had to give her some credit, once she set her mind to something she didn't stop until it was done properly. By now he doubted there was a piece of clothing, sheet or towel in the house that hadn't been inspected and when found failing the Alexis Colby standard of cleanliness subjected to the washing machine.

"Alexis I need to head into town, we're running low on a few things…"

"Your leaving me alone…You can't what if something happens?" Alexis demanded and Dex turned round surprised by her reaction.

Smirking Dex dried his hands on his jeans watching her closely. "What? You break a nail?"

"Don't be factious Dex, what if the house catches fire…Or there are burglars?" Alexis added truly concerned, she truly knew nothing about their surroundings and there was no phone, no help nearby.

"Out here?" Dex joked shaking his head. "The only visitors are the lizards, as for a fire as long as you stay out of the kitchen Alexis…"

"Very funny Dex but what am I supposed to do whilst you're gone, twiddle my thumbs?"

"You could fold all that clean laundry?" Dex teased earning a glare. "Ok seriously I do have something that should keep you out of trouble at least for a while."

Dex's cryptic reply earned him a raised eyebrow, her curious expression falling as Dex retrieved an envelope from his back pocket and handed it over, the handwriting all too familiar.

"It's from…"

"Fallon." Alexis finished for him setting the sealed letter down on the table, her eyes fixed on it warily.

"Aren't you going to open it and find out what she has to say?"

"Maybe later." Alexis answered softly getting to her feet and leaving the room and the letter.

Frowning Dex followed her, allowing her to retreat but not escape entirely as he scooped up the letter and tucked it back into his pocket. Standing in the doorway as Alexis began to fold yet another mountain of dry laundry Dex felt his concern grow. "Why later why not now?"

"I'm busy Dex." Alexis retorted sharply gesturing to her work. "Now I thought you were leaving?"

"I'm not leaving until you tell me why you don't want to hear from your children?" Dex demanded his handsome brow creased in concern as Alexis pointedly ignored him.

Closing the distance between them Dex reached out and caught her hands, stilling them before turning her to face him his hands sliding to her slender waist and holding her in place.

"Dex let me go…I told you I'm busy I'll read it later. I am not going to drop everything just..."

Shaking his head Dex leant down until he could stare into her eyes. "You're not busy, you're hiding Alexis and I want to know why? I'm not going to give in on this Alexis, you're clearly mad about something. Just what?"

"Just because my children finally deign to pay me the slightest bit of attention!" Alexis snapped, now she had started the words split from her tongue, her pain very real even if was irrational. "Just because their consciences have finally kicked in and after a week they send a letter, a letter! The don't visit, don't try and reach out to me…No that might take time away from their own lives…Instead they palm me off like a defective embarrassment, out of sight out of mind."

However Dex in good conscience couldn't let her continue. "That is not fair Alexis. They all wanted to be here."

"Really then why aren't they?" Alexis snapped raising a superior eyebrow and folding her arms across her chest.

"Someone has to run Colby Co…"

"So Adam has a valid excuse but I have at least two more children Dex…Oh I don't expect anything from Amanda but Steven and Fallon."

"Both have children."

"Oh please, who have nannies and other parents who can look after them."

"And it wouldn't be at all suspicious if they suddenly left them and couldn't say when they would be back, or would you prefer your children didn't bother trying to keep this quiet? They are bending over backwards to protect you Alexis, they are worried sick."

Pouting slightly Alexis had to admit he had a small point yet she didn't feel like being reasonable. It still hurt to feel abandoned by her own family. She couldn't shake the nightmares, the images of her children playing happy families with Krystle and Blake; of them being happy she was out the way.

"You have Jack." Alexis countered. "It's just an excuse, you don't need to pretend or defend them Dex."

"I'm not pretending anything!" Dex snapped running his hand across his forehead, trying to think of a way to reach her, to reason with her. "Would you really have wanted your children, grandchildren, to have seen you in that state?"

"No…"

"So why are you so angry?" Dex demanded resisting the conflicting urges to shake some sense into her or pull her close and keep her safe from the world.

Biting her lip Alexis closed her eyes unable to face the pity in his gaze, the words slipping out quietly. "It just feels like they were relieved to have me out of the way…So that they were free to welcome Krystle back without feeling torn."

"Oh Alexis no…no…You're children love you, they are concerned for you. I've never seem them so furious, if Blake had been there when they found out they would have ripped his head off. They all wanted to look after you, I had to persuade them to let me help instead."

"And that's the truth?" Alexis asked, opening her eyes and staring up at him her emerald eyes wide and pleading.

"Yes but you don't need to take my word for it." Dex added pulling the letter back out of pocket and pressing it into her hand. "Why don't you find out for yourself."

---

Leaning back in the desk chair Jeff Colby rubbed his aching forehead. With Blake leaving for Switzerland Jeff was once more defacto running Denver Carrington, and although Jeff didn't mind helping out the man he thought of as a father it didn't leave him much time for his own business affairs. He was still a major shareholder in Colby Enterprises and although Jason was happy, far too happy for Jeff's liking, to run the company by himself; there was still papers to read, minutes and proposals to go over.

In essence Jeff was doing two men's work for little reward and if he was honest it grated slightly.

Perhaps it would be easier to cope if it wasn't for the constant feeling of tension lying over the mansion like a shroud. Fallon was furious with Blake, Adam and Dana were withdrawn and Steven seemed to be avoiding him. Jeff couldn't shake off the feeling of once more being an outsider within the Carrington clan, just like when he was a child and Fallon and Steven would suddenly gang up and vanish, the Carrington children were pushing him out once again.

Yet Jeff Colby was no longer a child, and there was only so much he would take, especially from his own wife, before he started demanding answers. So instead of staying at the office all afternoon Jeff had informed his secretary at Denver Carrington that he would be attending to Colby Enterprise business that afternoon at the mansion and only to contact him if it was essential.

Closing his eyes Jeff stretched out, his back cramping slightly from sitting in one position for too long, lifting one leg and then the other. Cursing to himself when his exercise upset the precarious mountain of paperwork and half of it slumped to the floor. Muttering under his breath Jeff got to his knees, hissing when his back gave another warning twinge, reminding him yet again that he wasn't getting any younger.

Gathering all his spilt papers Jeff was just about to get to his feet when the door to the library swung open and he gained some unexpected visitors. For a moment Jeff was about to call out, yet his wife's breathy angry rant stopped him.

"Good it's empty…Honestly Adam I thought we had agreed not to talk about this just anywhere, you can't ask about Mummy in the corridor…What if one of the staff had come walking passed?"

"It's alright Fallon, no one heard us and besides Dad's already in the air." Steven's placating tone could be heard trying to calm down his sister. "Now what was so important?"

"Have you finally heard from Dex, is that it?" Adam's question or more importantly the desperate way he sounded made the hairs stand up on Jeff's arm.

"Yes I did, he couldn't talk for long he was in a public phone booth. He thought it better to talk away from the ranch."

"Dexter's feeble grasp of psychiatry and female sensibilities don't interest me Fallon." Adam snapped back. "All I care about is Mother."

"That is all any of us care about Adam." Steven added bitterly. "She hasn't tried to do anything to herself, not again, Dex has been keeping a close eye on her?" He trailed off voice breaking and leaving Jeff to draw his own terrible conclusions.

They couldn't mean…Not Alexis…Yet suddenly pieces of a puzzle he wasn't even aware of began to fall into place and Jeff strained his hearing to catch the rest of the whispered conversation.

"No she hasn't thank goodness, but Dex is worried she is becoming depressed, she has barely gotten out of bed, won't eat…"

"Not surprising if Dexter is cooking!" Adam snorted back earning him another angry retort from Steven.

"You agreed this was the best thing for Mother Adam, Dex is the best person to keep an eye on her. He cares about her."

"So do I!" Adam snapped.

"So do we all." Fallon insisted placating. "Look arguing between ourselves isn't going to do any good."

"What does Dex suggest we do?" Steven asked reasonably. "Does he think we should visit, because we could be down there tonight?"

"No not yet…He's gave mother the letter we wrote and he asks us to keep sending them even if she doesn't answer. Maybe if she hears we love her and want her back enough times she'll start to believe it."

"Mother knows that already!" Adam insisted.

"Well it can't hurt to hear it again now can it?" Fallon testily returned. "Now Dex wasn't sure how long it will be before Mother can even consider coming home…Adam is everything alright at Colby Co? Do you need Mother's signature for anything?"

"Not yet, I've been able to convince them she is in Europe spontaneously visiting Amanda and that things can wait until she gets back but that excuse won't hold much longer. We've got a board meeting next week and if Mother isn't there and I don't have a damn good excuse…"

"Alright I'll talk to Dex, maybe Mother will be up to thinking of a solution herself?"

"I hope so." Adam muttered and Jeff could hear the worry in his voice. "Dobson will be there and I trust that man about as far as I could throw him."

"And everything is covered here as well…I told Gerard Mummy was in Europe as well so that should filter through all the usual household gossips.

"What about Jeff Fallon?"

Steven's question was pointed and Jeff found himself very interested in her answer.

"What do you mean Steven?"

"How long are you going to be able to keep this from him?" Steven answered and Jeff waited with baited breath for her answer.

Why had she kept this from him, couldn't he have helped in some way?

"For as long as I can Steven you know that; he's not like Dana, sure he is trustworthy it's just…He's Blake's man Steven you know that."

"You still think he'd tell Blake even knowing what it would do to mother?" Steven asked.

"Don't you?" Fallon's tone was sharp. "Even if he didn't go right out and tell Daddy, you know every time it came up he'd insist that 'Blake has a right to know' that it's 'Wrong to keep him in the dark'."

"Fallon's right." Adam insisted. "Jeff will always take Blake's side, and imagine what will happen not now but years down the line when Mother is better and home and her and Blake are clashing over business. Can you imagine Jeff keeping it from Blake then, when it would be something to hold over Alexis?"

"Look can we just drop this for now it's almost time for dinner and I'd rather not be caught whispering behind the library door. I am not telling Jeff so it doesn't matter, I'll think of something to distract him." Fallon added bringing the conversation to an abrupt halt.

A few moments later as the door shut behind them a very stiff Jeff Colby got awkwardly to his feet, yet if he was honest the throbbing pain his back was the least of his worries.

It was true he loved Blake like a father but he would never tell someone else's secret. He cared about Alexis, and he wished there was someway he could help, but how could he help if his own wife refused to confide in him. That Fallon didn't trust him cut more deeply than Jeff could say and for a moment he considered spilling the beans just to lash out at her.

After all if Blake was the cause, and Jeff was certain he had been, Blake had a right to know, the right to try and make amends if he could…Didn't he?

---

Dex wasn't sure what it was that woke him. Perhaps it was a door shutting, perhaps some noise from outside or perhaps it was just a jarring dream that had him sitting up suddenly in bed gasping for breath and trying to calm his pounding heartbeat. Shivering in the early morning light and cool air Dex rolled out of bed. Stretching his tensed muscles he grabbed a shirt and jeans, dragging them on quickly over his boxers not bothering the button the shirt.

He didn't need to dress, he doubted Alexis was awake and she had seen him in less than his boxers before but somehow the idea of confronting an intruder in his underwear didn't seem prudent.

Slipping quietly from his room careful not to let the door bang Dex decided it would at least be prudent to check on Alexis; just in case she had woken as well and was concerned Dex convinced himself. It had nothing to do with the fact that he enjoyed, had always enjoyed watching Alexis sleep; no one would deny she was a beautiful woman yet when she slept there was a gentleness in her face that wasn't there any other time.

Dex had missed watching her sleep, had missed sharing that intimacy with someone he cared deeply about. So if he occasionally popped his head round the doorframe and checked on her whilst she slept it was a guilty pleasure that he realized would soon have to come to an end. Dex Dexter had been called many things in his life but he wasn't a fool; he still cared for Alexis very deeply, probably too deeply for his own good. And despite the progress they had made, perhaps now they could even be called friends he knew Alexis was still in love with Blake.

Yet when he rapped softly on Alexis's door before pushing it open he was astonished and worried to discover her bed empty.

Striding quickly into the great room and the kitchen Dex called out. "Alexis?"

When there was no answer he felt his stomach clench. She had been doing so well, true she had been very obstructive yesterday when he gave her Fallon's letter and had been quiet and introspective during dinner. Perhaps he had been wrong to back off and give her some space?

He tore through the kitchen like a whirling dervish his heart dropping into his stomach as he found it empty and the door unbolted.

"Alexis?" He called out crossing the yard. "Alexis…" His panic increasing when there was no answer.

Running his hands through his hair Dex turned on the spot glancing up and down the yard, yet it was deserted there was no sign of her. It was still early, the sun had barely risen and it was quite cold so he doubted she had spontaneously decided to go for a walk. There was only one place left to check however unlikely.

Walking towards the stables Dex was surprised to spot the gentle glow from the kerosene lamp he always kept in the tack room through the slightly open door. Sliding back the heavy sliding door further he stepped into the musky stables.

"Alexis?"

"In here Dex." Alexis's soft voice echoed down the darkened corridor from the far end and the only occupied stall. Walking towards the light Dex was surprised to see Alexis sitting inside the stable with the colt, grooming comb in hand as she brushed the lame colt.

Leaning against the stable door Dex tried to keep an amused smile from his face, his panic now abating to leave only amused confusion. "This is a surprise."

Turning to face him Alexis didn't choose to dignify that with a reply simply raising an eyebrow.

"I never pictured you as a country girl." Dex added ignoring her slight glare. "Although I have to admit it kind of suits you." And it did Dex noted, the simply tied curls in a ponytail, a pair of tight jeans tucked into boots and a simple but tailored white shirt that from this angle gave him a tantalizingly fleeting glimpse of cleavage.

"Couldn't you sleep?"

"No not really and I remembered you mentioned that this little one had to come inside yesterday to rest his leg so I thought he might want to keep me company for a while."

"You could have woken me if you wanted to talk Alexis?"

"I didn't, I just didn't want to be alone with my thoughts."

"I could have just sat there not saying anything." Dex insisted unable to contain a note of hurt from his voice that of all the company Alexis chose a horse over him.

"Dex you could never just sit there." Alexis chastised him tempering her sharp retort with a fond gaze. "Even if you didn't talk you'd still sit there watching me and I would feel under scrutiny."

"Well is it my fault you're pretty easy on the eyes?" Dex countered yet his tone lacked any real bite. "So did Darius here have any valuable insight?"

"He's a good listener but not very forthcoming on advice." Alexis retorted with a half smile reaching out and giving the colt a fond stroke.

"Animals always make the best confidents. When I was a little girl and things were difficult at home…Let's just say Cassey and I didn't grow up in the most peaceful environment, my parents' relationship was rather turbulent. So when their yelling turned to smashing things I used to slip out the house and out to the stables, my pony was always the best listener."

Resting his chin on his hands Dex watched her closely trying to picture in his mind the girl she must have once been. It was just too difficult, he had never seen a childhood picture of Alexis, never seen a framed portrait of her parents. It had been a shock to discover quite by accident that Alexis even had a sister since during their marriage she had never mentioned her. Even though they had married in England, in a church nearby where Alexis had grown up there were few family friends, only a few people that Alexis had been friends with in London. Her life before her marriage to Blake was still something of a mystery to him, save for that irritant that was deposed monarch of Moldavia.

"I still can't picture you as a pony club girl, all jodhpurs and rosettes...Now tea parties and dressing up yes, but smelly hairy horses…I didn't even know that you rode."

"Oh I used to love riding, Daddy used to hunt and Mother encouraged both Cassey and I to ride and compete, she thought it was healthy to develop a desire to win from an early age. I often think she was trying to groom us both for life married to some wealthy aristocrat, she never did forgive me when I threw over an invitation from the Duke of Buckingham to attend Ascot and instead headed off to a certain Colby birthday party in Denver Colorado of all places."

"Of all places." Dex echoed with a smile. "So why don't you ride anymore. I'm sure I heard Fallon mention once you didn't, that when she and Steven used to go out riding with Blake you stayed at home."

"Oh…" Alexis sighed. "Well when I was thirteen I had an accident on a cross country course. I was alright, just a little bruised but my horse broke his leg and there wasn't anything that could be done. They shot him and I just couldn't face getting another horse. Mother couldn't understand, she told me I was being sentimental and silly, she brought another horse a week later so I could compete in the county championships. So to spite her I refused to ever ride again and then we had a few cross words which resulted in my being shipped to boarding school in Switzerland."

"Those must have been some words." Dex muttered and Alexis raised a teasing eyebrow.

"They raised a few eyebrows." Alexis quipped.

"Suffice it to say my Mother and I didn't see eye to eye on anything after that. She refused to come to my engagement party to Blake so we eloped to save her the satisfaction of refusing to come to the wedding. I swore at the time if I had a daughter I would always support her choices, if she wanted to ride she could, wanted to dance ballet it was up to her and I would never refuse to accept her choice of husband…I like to think I have managed to succeed on at least most of that…" Alexis added sadly. "Even if I haven't been the best mother to my children."

"Your children love you Alexis, you must have done something right." Dex added softly relieved when Alexis nodded and a small smile lifted her face.

"You're right they do." Alexis added her hand moving to rest over her heart where inside her shirt she had tucked her children's letter. Then reaching into her jean pocket she pulled out another letter, handing it to Dex without a word.

Glancing at the name and address Dex smiled, pocketing the reply without passing comment. Yet there was one subject he couldn't leave alone. "And you really haven't ridden since?"

Shaking her head Alexis added softly. "No…At first it was temper then it became habit and then after a while it had been so long since I had ridden I was almost afraid to get back in the saddle."

Unbolting the stable door Dex stepped inside and offered a confused Alexis his hand, waiting until she laid her small soft hand in his large rough palm before tugging her to her feet. "Well Mrs Colby, the Alexis I know doesn't run from things she is afraid of she faces them…So it is a beautiful morning why don't you come grab a saddle and join me in a morning ride?"

Chewing her lip for a moment Alexis looked up at him uncertain before a bright smile broke across her face and Dex marveled at the transformation. "Lead the way Mr Dexter!"

---

Meanwhile in Denver Jeff Colby woke to an empty bed. Stretching out Jeff rolled onto his side his hands automatically reaching out for his wife and enclosing a cold pillow. Blinking the sleep from his eyes Jeff frowned. The space beside him was cold.

As cold as the void that had grown between him and Fallon since revelation of the night before. Jeff struggled to look at her without recalling the things he had overheard and the accompanying feeling of hurt and distrust. Fallon had claimed to be feeling tired and she did indeed look pale so she had gone to bed early.

Jeff had worked late, he did have a lot of paperwork but he could admit to himself that it was an excuse; an excuse to put off the argument that he knew was coming. When he had come to bed Fallon had pretended to be asleep and he had let her, getting changed in the bathroom and turning his back on her back in bed.

Clearly this morning she had slipped out of bed in order to avoid him.

Angry Jeff flung back the covers and stalked towards the bathroom, determined to have a shower and head to work. Yet his resolution lasted only so long as it took to open the door and find his wife with her head over the toilet dry heaving.

"Fallon Sweetheart…"Jeff was all concern as he knelt down beside her and pulled back her hair, fumbling for a glass of water. "Do you need me to call a doctor?"

Accepting the glass of water Fallon shook her head swilling out her mouth before sitting up and fixing Jeff with her wide blue eyes. "Oh Jeff…I think…I think I might be pregnant."

Sitting back Jeff couldn't stop the smile from breaking out on his face, a baby, a new baby it was like a sign that despite everything that had happened there was still good things left in his marriage. A future to look forward to and he pulled Fallon into a hug.

Leaning into Jeff's embrace Fallon tried to summon an ounce of the same enthusiasm, yet all she could manage was a weak half smile, grateful for the fact that Jeff couldn't see her expression. A baby now? With everything else that was going on? Fallon couldn't think of a worse possible time and somehow Jeff's enthusiasm only made matters worse.

---

"So as you can see Mr Carrington…Mrs Carrington the initial test results are very encouraging. The drug treatment seems to be working. Of course it is early days. And Mrs Carrington is doing especially well in her physiotherapy." Dr Muir added smiling at the couple across from him.

If you didn't know better you would look at the happy smiles and joined hands and see only a married couple still very much in love. Yet Hans Muir did know better.

"That is wonderful darling." Blake gushed leaning forward to press a kiss to a serenely smiling Krystle's cheek. "So this means Krystle should be able to come home soon?"

"I think we still need to err on the side of caution Mr Carrington. Let us give it a few more days but if things continue at this pace then yes we will only be looking at weeks before Mrs Carrington can travel. Although I will insist on sending one of our nurses with her, I just wouldn't trust anyone else to continue with my treatment plan and monitor any side effects."

"Thank you Dr Muir." Krystle answered softly. "You've all been so kind."

Nodding away her thanks Dr Muir smiled and quietly withdrew leaving the happy couple to some privacy.

"Doctor there is a phone call for you in your office."

Thanking the nurse Dr Muir made his way quickly to his office picking up the phone waiting for a long moment before speaking. "Yes Carrington is here…No he hasn't a clue…I promise everything is proceeding according to plan Mr Davenport."

---