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Author's Chapter Notes:
There are two epilogues that bring the story to a conclusion. We start with the official version. This one is part of In Deep canon. Should you want something darker you can 'enjoy' the second epilogue. Be warned though, that version is EXTREMELY dark. Thank to all readers and many cuddles to Foxy for beta and constant support.
The sun was shining when Alex got out. Birds were chirping and the smell of spring was in the air. Normally things like wouldn’t have touched Alex like that, but the situation called for it. It was strange to be free after months in close confinement. The gate shut behind him with a big bang, almost startling him and making him jump into defense mode. He had become a bit jittery inside, constantly on the lookout for other inmates to jump him after they moved him to gen pop. A parting gift from Sullins no doubt. He survived it though, even though a cut from a dirty knife had almost killed him five months ago.

He had a small bag with him that contained his meager possessions, but nothing was as important as the card and envelope he had in his hand. The message on it gave him a reason to enjoy the warm sun shining on his face, the ticket a reason to sit and wait. He walked to the side of the street and sat down, just enjoying the fact that he could do so because he wanted it, and waited. He didn’t know how long it took since his watch had been stolen during his stint in jail. He tried his phone but the battery had long since died, not to mention that his subscription was no longer valid. Disconnected from life for a damn long time, but now he was ready to go at it again. However, the car he expected to take him away to second chances didn’t live up to expectations.

It was a black sedan, instead of a rental, that stopped in front of him and the window rolled down. “Welcome to the outside. Get in, Alex. Lincoln asked me to take you to the airport. Something about delays. I hung up the phone when he tried to color his explanation with street vocabulary.”

Alex had to grin, rose to his feet and got in the car. Lincoln was here, right? Just not *here*.

He looked at the driver and had a momentary lapse into sappiness. “Thank you for being here for me.” Lang shrugged, but Alex could see a small twinkle in her eye. The one she only showed when she was pleased. ”Lincoln is at the airport though? With Cameron?”

Her hand on the steering wheel tensed for a moment when he saw her hesitate and turn serious again. “You do realize he has a girlfriend?” she asked sternly and straightforwardly.

Alex inclined his head and smiled. “Yes, I know.”

She nodded, apparently satisfied, and started the car. “Good.”


~~~~~~

- Five years later -

“Dad! I’m off to Juan’s,” Cameron shouted, shaking Alex out of his reverie. He put the newspaper he wasn’t reading away and took his glasses off as he looked at his son. Thirteen years old, Cameron had his hair, but the rest was all Pam. Well, perhaps he had Alex’s knack for reading people and situations too. There were signs of that already both inside and outside school. He secretly hoped Cameron would follow in his footsteps into law, although if it was up to Alex, Cameron could forgo on the military track before that.

“Dad, you’re zoning out again.”

Alex chuckled. “I’m just thinking.”

Cameron rolled his eyes and grabbed the duffle bag that sat on the rocking chair. Juan was a boy in Cameron’s class who also happened to have a father who owned a ranch not far from San Jose. Coffee beans were big business here and they grew like coleslaw in the surrounding mountains. Cameron didn’t go for the coffee though. The ranchero had horses and great trails leading into the unspoiled mountains. Everything was positively littered with waterfalls, amazing forests and jungles, squawking birds and other wildlife too amazing to believe. Sometimes it was hard to imagine not living in this paradise and Alex certainly wouldn’t trade it for a life in Chicago. San Jose’s schools and nightlife were less than an hour’s drive away, while nature and health provided so much around them.

Their apartment was small, but it was enough. He had chosen the wooden cottage because it made him feel like he was home. He doubted he could live in a large house anyway, not after prison and those intense days in that Panamanian shack. Not that he was here much anyway; between driving Cameron to school, keeping his vegetable garden and his health top notch and working as a postman he didn’t have much time to just stay at home. When he was at home, however, he cleaned and cooked with Cameron, sharing chores, but mostly he waited.

“You weren’t thinking, you were dreaming; big difference when it comes to you,” Cameron said with a quirky smile around his mouth. “Oh, almost forgot to tell you. LJ said that Uncle Lincoln will drop by tonight.”

Alex’s heart skipped a beat. “He broke up with Manuela?” he asked as neutrally as he could. LJ always brought Cameron back from school. The boys had gotten quite close, almost like brothers reminiscent of Lincoln and Michael.

Cameron sighed and shook his head with great theatrics. “As if you don’t know. Can he keep anyone longer than three months? You want me to stay at Juan’s while you guys catch up?”

Alex stood, having a sudden urge to clean up the apartment and himself should Lincoln come early. “Of course not, you-”

Cameron held up his hand. “Dad, I actually don’t want to be here during the catching up, okay? It wasn’t really an offer.” Alex raised his eyebrow. “Some things I do not want to see or hear, all right?”

Alex snorted. “Fine, you go to Juan’s but do *not* go out riding in the dark on some fool trip.”

Cameron bounced towards the door. “I won’t,” he said in a voice that suggested otherwise.

“I mean it Cam! I am not going to get into some frantic search party again because you guys think Arenal volcano is an awesome place to visit at night!” He didn’t want to remember that nightmare. Cameron had gone missing together with Juan. They had taken horses and had decided to ride north to Arenal. Not only did they end up travelling in the dark, Arenal was one of the most active volcanoes one could find. He’d almost lost Cameron in a landslide; his son had been eleven at the time. Alex was lucky LJ and Lincoln had joined in the search, because it had been LJ’s quick thinking and Lincoln’s coolheaded strength that had saved both boys. Lincoln had lived near the beach for only a year before moving to a house near San Jose, not far from his, because of LJ’s university education. Michael, Sara and Sucre and their families still lived on the coast though.

“I am leaving; you’re getting that spacey look again,” Cameron declared. “Dad, we had dinner with them last week and he hasn’t changed since then, trust me,” Cameron teased as he opened the heavy wooden door to the terrace.

“Just you wait till you bring home your first girlfriend.” Alex pointed his finger at his son, but all he got was laughter in return.

“Fat chance. Have fun, Dad!” Cameron closed the door and bounced down the steps leading down from the terrace.

Alex felt lucky. He took a look around his apartment and wondered if he should shower first or clean the kitchen. Lincoln loved food, so perhaps he should try to cook something for him? It would probably be smart to take a shower just before Lincoln arrived so he wouldn’t be sweaty. He wanted everything to be perfect, for as long as Lincoln was between relationships and gave Alex his attention, it was.

Life was good and Alex was more than grateful for the second chance he had gotten with Cameron, but he lived for those moments in the year when it was more than that good. A couple of weeks a year he had days of perfection in his two-bedroom apartment shack. A couple of weeks a year he was back in Panama taking, and receiving, what he wanted so badly. A couple of weeks a year, he was truly at home.

The End