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         It was raining as Deanna drove her transport to Alexis's apartment. It seemed strange now, thinking of her as Alexis when she knew better, but it was easier that way for the moment.

 

         She walked up to the door of the apartment and knocked softly. No answer. She hadn't really expected one, she knew how confused and upset the younger woman must be, having her whole life and everything she knew turned inside out in a matter of moments. She felt rather like that herself right now. Any other time, she might have let it go, gone home and given a situation some space to work itself out. But this was no ordinary situation, her child needed her and she could not walk away.

 

         On impulse, she tried the door. It opened without protest. Deanna felt a stab of worry shoot through her. It must have been worse then she thought, Alexis hadn't even bothered to put the lock on the door.

 

         Her maternal instinct took over, and Deanna steeped into the apartment without another thought. Once inside, she paused, listening. The distinct sound of crying met her ears, bringing with it an echo of haunting memory. She follow the sound to the bedroom door. It too was open, enough for her to see the shaking form of her daughter lying face down on the bed. ~Her daughter~ the thought sent chills through her instantly, as she quietly entered the room.

 

         “Go away....Please, just....leave me alone...,” the words were muffled by tears and the pillow her face was buried in.

 

         Deanna shook her head, though she knew it wouldn't be noticed. “I can’t.” she whispered, surprised by the tears that lingered not only in her eyes, but her voice as well. “I've done that one too many times already, don't you think?”

 

         For a moment there was no response. Then Alexis turned slowly to face her, her eyes and most of her tear stained face hidden under the chestnut curls that had fallen over her face. “I'm sorry, I'm so sorry...” she repeated quietly, over and over, pleadingly.

 

         Deanna felt as though her heart were being torn from her chest, aching to make the pain disappear from those blue eyes. She moved over and sat down on the side of the bed. Her hand trembled slightly as she reached out to brush the soft damp hair back. When they finally touched, it was as if a door inside of her had opened up, and Deanna finally found her voice again. “Sorry for what?” She asked softly. “It isn't your fault, you know that, don't you?”

 

         “But I believed her!”

 

         “Lana?” Deanna asked, already sure of the answer. “What did she tell you?”

 

         Alexis nodded slowly. “She....she said that you said I was...too much trouble, she said you didn't want me anymore. I didn't want to believe it, but you never came.” She finished the sentence sounding very much like the little girl Deanna now remembered so clearly.

 

         “Oh, my Axie,” she breathed, “I would have come. I would have gone around the universe and back to find you, I just didn't know how. And then....they told me you died. After that, it was all a total blank....I wish I could tell you more than that, but I can't."

 

         The younger woman's eyes widened as Deanna spoke, as the sound of the nearly forgotten childhood nickname sunk in to her, like the final blow which destroyed all possibility that all of this could be a mistake. "N-no one has called me in a long time," she said shakily.

 

         Deanna smiled sadly. "No, I suppose not. Alexandra was just such a big name for such a little girl."

 

         Alexis gave a half laugh but something nagged at her mind. "What I still can't understand is, why couldn't you," she gestured toward her temple, "you know what I mean....tell? Before Lana, you know....made you forget."

 

         Deanna looked at her, saddened. "I'm afraid haven't any other answer except that I let my grief rule over my actions, and followed what I saw over what I knew, in my heart." Deanna's voice was little more than an anguished, broken whisper.

 

         "Saw?" Alexis's own voice was worn raw with emotion, and deep inside it was all she wanted to forget to all the questions and finally accept what she had spent most of her life trying to convince herself she didn't need, but in truth always wanted: her family. However, at the moment, the need for answers outweighed everything else.

 

         "After the disappearance, the police found bits and pieces of your things in various buildings where they believed, that you were being held.  It seemed that they were always one step behind.  Then, there was the fire.  At first I didn't want to believe it, but then," she reached into her pocket, and pulled out to the necklace, which she had been carrying with her since finding it the night before.  "Then," she whispered shakily, bringing the necklace out in her open palm, "They found this. "

 

         Alexis stared at it tearfully for a moment before breaking down again, sobbing harder than before. "It's my fault.....oh God, I didn't mean...."

 

         Deanna reacted on instinct, pushing aside her caution and confusion and finally taking her daughter into her arms. "What is it, hmm? I've told you already, you couldn't have stopped any of this, and you certainly haven't caused it. So, just tell me, please. Why do you keep blaming yourself?"

 

         Alexis drew back slightly, but only enough to look at Deanna closely. "You don't understand....I left that In that room, and all the others, on purpose. I guess I figured you'd find me, if you found them. Kiddie logic. If I hadn't...."

 

         Deanna pulled her close again, closing her eyes against the painful irony. "Shhh....it's all over now," she whispered, gently stroking her hands over the chestnut curls.

 

         "But, it isn't really, is it?"

 

         "No, I suppose we're really just starting, aren't we?"

 

         They sat there in that room, staring at one another: the young woman who had wanted nothing more than to forget her past, and the mother who longed to remember. It was a moment frozen in time, and one they would never forget, as the put the memories of darkness behind them and headed toward a brighter future.

 

Together.