DISCLAIMER:As always I own nothing but the idea for the story.

A/N: I know I promised this epiloge long ago. But better late than never. Even if late is over 3 years. I hope you enjoy. I believe it is a fitting end to the fairytale. THE DISTANT COUSIN: THE EPILOGUE

Sixteen years. That was all the time we got from the day Stavros brought Alexis back and when the cancer reared it's ugly head again.
A lot can happen in sixteen years. Kids grow up. Kristina is in college, studying business. Molly just graduated high school and is going to Harvard in the fall. She wants to be a lawyer like her mom. Sam married Jason and they adopted a set of adorable twin girls. Today is their fifteenth wedding anniversary. We're having a party, just close family it's all Alexis is up for.

I sit here watching her doze off and chaise lounger out here in the garden was fine she said. Knowing that very soon I wont ever have this privelge again.

She's granted me a lot of wishes these last few months. For the first time she's agreed to move into Greystone with me. I know perfectly well that wouldn't have happened without Nikolas and Spencer agreeing to come along.

It took me a year, before I finally understood why Alexis insisted on living at Wyndemere with Nikolas. I never would quite believe, her excuse. "Sonny, there is just so much more room for the girls and I at Wyndemere than here on the mainland with you."

I like anyone else believes what they want to believe. If when Alexis came back she insisted to everyone that she didn't know who they thought she was with, but it was not Stavros Cassadine. He was dead. Had been dead for years. With Nikolas agreeing with her, well frankly I didn't want to rock the boat. I was just glad she was back with us, apparently none the worse for the wear.

A year later at Sam and Jason's wedding, I finally had to accept what I'd refused to look at. Sam and Jason were getting ready to go off on their honeymoon. I'd been sent to hunt out Alexis, no one had seen her for the last half hour. I spotted her up on the parapet talking on her cellphone. I thought it was a little odd as I headed up the stairs to get her. I was sure Alexis had told me she never goes out on it. "It's an easy fall over the side." She'd told me.

I had just clicked the door and was about to push it all the way open when I heard her say..."You would be so proud of your daughter. She looks so beautiful in her wedding dress. I so wish you could have walked her down the aisle. I know no tears."

Even still those few words I probably would have remained blind to the truth, if the last thing she said to Sam's father...well if only Alexis hadn't spoken them in Greek. To the best of my knowledge Alexis only spoke Greek to one living person. That was Nikolas, and he was the one who'd sent me to look for Alexis. That left only one person she could be speaking to. Only one person who spoke Greek not only fluently but was actually old enough to be Sam's father.

I had to quickly push the thought away, as I watched Alexis close the phone and stick it back into her small beaded purse. I took a couple of steps back so it would look like I'd only just arrived.

"Hey, I've been looking for you. Your daughter and her new husband are ready to leave." I said as I stepped through the door out onto the parapet.

"Oh I'm sorry. I just needed some time alone. Gather my thoughts I guess you could say. Lets go I don't want to keep them waiting." Alexis said as she slipped her arm through mine.

It would be two more hours before I returned home. Finally in the privacy of my bedroom, I replayed everything that happened when Stavros had come for Alexis.

Max had said Alexis went willingly with him. He was different not the same man, he'd been all those years before. "They are someone's brother." Normally even Alexis would have said brotherhood means nothing to Stavros.

While I let my memory slowly drift over the confrontation between Stavros and Sam, well I couldn't deny any longer what the truth was. I'd never given voice to the thought he'd had over the years, whenever Sam and Nikolas stood side by side. They looked more like brother and sister than Lucky and Nikolas same dark hair, the same almost black penetrating eyes. Not the soft chocolate eyes Alexis has.

Stavros reaction to Sam demanding to know where Alexis was. Stavros anger that she was saying Alexis, not Mom or Mother.

Bits and pieces of everything Stavros had said that morning come slamming they're way back into my memory. I can hear Stavros saying them as if he was still standing in front of me.

"She deserves so much more than what the world has ever given her. What her family and friends have ever given her."

"If you are half as intelligent as my Alexis says you are...well you'll get down on your knees every night and thank whatever gods you believe in that you will never walk a day on this earth alone. That you don't have to pay for sins, that you didn't even know you'd committed, because of lies told by your parents. Sins that..."

"Be very careful how you sin little one. Some things can never be forgiven, no matter whether you knew it was sinful or not! "

"The worst way one can pay for their sins is to walk this earth alone for the rest of your days. I would truly hate for that to happen to you."

Sins you didn't even know-lies your parents told you. What sin would be unforgiveable to most people? Incest! That would be unforgiveable, that sin could leave you to walk this earth alone. How ever it happened I knew Stavros did not rape Alexis. For Helena that would be a bigger sin. Helena would have gone absolutely insane, to know, that not only had her beloved son Stavros bedded Alexis he had done so out of love. As Stavros had told Sam all those years ago Helena would not have allowed her to live.

In these last sixteen years I had tried to win Alexis heart. I'd never managed it. Whatever love they'd had was gone. I always wondered, if there had ever been a time when I had truly held Alexis heart. Maybe once for a single moment.

On very rare occasions I caught glimpses of her saddness. I saw her look around a room full of family and friends and know she was thinking how alone she really was.

Now though since the cancer had come back, I saw that saddness attacking what little time she had left more vicously than the cancer itself.

It had taken more money and men then most people ever saw in their lives, but after three weeks of searching the globe, Stavros Cassadine had finally been found.

I made the one phone call I'd hoped to never make. I'd called Stavros and told him to come to Port Charles. Stavros listened as I told him about the cancer.

Then Stavros asked me..."Did she tell you to find me? Did she tell you she needed me?"

"No, neither of those things. You know Alexis better than anyone, you know that even in these last days of her life she will think only of her children's needs. Alexis will not think or give voice to what she needs, what she wants.
Come here to Port Charles Stavros. Come here and show Alexis that she need not pay one more day of her life, for a sin she didn't know she was committing. Hasn't Alexis earned the right to have her heart's desire fullfilled? Alexis deserves to die peacefully, in the arms of the man she loves." Then I told him about the party and what time I expected him to come.

I was so deep in thought that I never knew Max was coming towards me until he leaned down to whisper in my ear..."He's coming up the driveway now."

"Thanks Max."

Getting up I moved over to where Sam and Jason were sitting. Only Sam would fight what was about to happen. Kristina and Molly would be too shocked. They've led sweet, safe lives. It hadn't been easy but, I had finally extricated myself from organized crime.
Sam on the other hand, had learned at young age to quickly shake off the shock, and fight.

So here I stand, prepared to hold Sam back, like I did all those long years ago. Jason's eyes go wide as he watches my hands come down on both of Sam's shoulders to hold her in her chair.

A moment later, and Sam gasps in shock as Stavros is led onto the terrace by Max. Seconds after that she's struggling to get up..."WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING HERE!" She screams in anger.

My left hand comes up off her shoulder and covers her mouth. I lean down and calmly say..."She needs him. You must let her go now."

Max has moved over to stand by Molly and Kristina. If necessary I've told him to restrain them.

"Stavros?" Alexis asks, unsure if what she sees is real.

Stavros kneels down next, to where she lays on the chaise lounger.

We watch as he hand moves to cup her pale cheek..."Yes my love. It is I."

"You should not have come here, Stavros. You will be arrested, and I told you I cannot save you." I watch as tears quickly fill her beautiful eyes, at the thought of harm coming to him.

"You worry needlessly my love. " Stavros says gently picking up her hand and kissing her palm..."It is time to let me take you home. You have raised your beautiful daughters. You have seen to it that all their dreams have come true.

It is your turn now my Princess. Let me take you back to our kingdom. Back to where our dreams came true."

"Oh Stavros, we must not..."

Stavros stands, before Alexis can say any more, like a true Prince he scoops her up into his arms.

"Nikolas and Sonny will watch over your daughters for the rest of their lives. No harm will come to them. "Alexis turns to look at both Nikolas and I for confirmation. Both of us nod, that it is alright for her to go.

"Alexis, we have been denied our whole lives the right to love each other. Our time on this Earth is almost at it's end. Please do not deny us our love, for sins that were never ours to start with." Stavros tells her in voice that even I can't deny is full of love.

Nodding her head in consent Alexis quietly says..."Take me home."

Alexis wraps her arms around him, and lays her head on his broad shoulders. Stavros starts to carry Alexis away. He stops for just a moment by Sam and I.

"Thank you." He tells me and then they're gone. I let go of Sam and she drops her head into her hands sobbing.

Before Jason can move, Nikolas is suddenly kneeling in front of her. He gently pulls her hands from her face, forcing her to look at him as he starts to speak..."Once upon a time there was a castle on an island. Inside the castle lived the Dark King with his wife the Dark Queen. They had two sons. The youngest was the White Knight. The oldest the Grey Knight. One day the Dark King brought home a young girl he called the Distant Cousin."

Three months later:

I'm sitting in my study just staring at the flames. Letting the fairytale Nikolas told us replay in my mind, as I've done almost every night since I heard it.

"Boss." I look at Max standing in the door way holding a manilla envelope..."The courier said Nikolas sent this to you." He said walking in and passing it to me.

"Thanks Max." I look at my name written across the front. My hands start to shake, I'm sure I don't really want to know what's in here. I bite my bottom lip and pray for strength. Then I undo the clasp and shake out onto the coffee table the contents.

A picture face down slides across the slick surface. I put my index finger on it, stopping it's slide away from me. Dropping the envelope, I read the small note on the yellow post stuck to the back.

"They are at peace." Nikolas.

I fight to hold back the tears that have suddenly flooded my eyes. With still shaking fingers I slowly turn the photo over.

I'd always thought when Alexis smiled at her daughters, she was truly happy, and felt loved. Looking at the photo, Nikolas sent proved me very wrong. If I'd known only Stavros could bring this happiness to her beautiful face I would have called for him to take her years ago.

Standing on the bow of a sailboat fit only for royalty are Stavros and Alexis, their arms around each other. Looking very much like a couple in love. A couple who never had the brutality of Helena beaten into them.

I had to smile as I read the name of the ship "Zosime". The name Alexis had given the horse Stavros bought for her.

The name is as appropriate for a sailboat as it was for the horse. "Likely to survive." That is an apt description of Stavros and Alexis.

I say a silent prayer of thanks because I know...

They lived Happily ever after!