Darkest Before the Dawn – Chapter 36
Chapter 36

They kept having the same argument over and over, Nikolas realized as their kiss ended and he stepped out of the Jaguar. Dawn wanted to stay and he wanted to protect her. After being unable to protect her more times than he wanted to remember, he needed to be given the opportunity to prove to her and to himself that he could.

Her reasons for wanting to stay were clear to him. And, no, he thought as he moved around the sports car to open the door for her, it wasn't that she didn't trust him to take care of her. Everything about her told him that she believed in him with her whole heart. Her refusal to leave his side wasn't born from lack of trust, but from stubbornness and so much love that his heart ached.

Having opened the passenger door, he held out his hand to help her rise. A faint smile graced her face as she looked up at him and took his hand. A sharp edge jabbed his heart as he saw something else that she tried to hide. He saw another reason for her refusal…rage. She needed to see this thing through as much as he did. They both needed to make those criminals pay.

Oh, how he loved her.

Moving to the park's entrance, Nikolas brushed his shoulder against hers. The minimal contact was unsatisfying so he placed his hand at the small of her back. He looked down to see her reaction. Pleasure lit up her eyes for a moment and then, it was gone. Apprehension replaced her enjoyment. Immediately, he was concerned. Whispering, he asked, "What's wrong?"

"We're being watched," she answered. She smiled as she said the words, but there was a chill all around her. Her eyes glowed with the seriousness of the situation. "I don't think they're happy we're together."

"How do you know?" It wasn't that he didn't believe her. He did because he sensed it, too, but maybe she saw something. A flicker or a glance. Maybe he could do something now that would get their child back to them safely and soon.

"I didn't see anything," she told him, answering him as if she could read his mind, "but I can feel someone watching us. When you touched me, I could feel their hate. We have to get him back, Nikky."

"We will," he assured her.

The decision wasn't a conscious one, but he kept his hand firmly on her as they moved briskly down the brick path. They passed rollerblading teenagers, chess-playing old men, and strolling couples. Any of them could not be what they seemed. Any one of them could have knowledge of Dominik's whereabouts. He searched each face as they passed them, but nothing was revealed to him. His hand clenched at his sides. He hated feeling powerless.

"Baby, relax," Dawn advised, speaking under her breath. "I see Noelle and Father up ahead. Look at her. She happy she is to feed the pigeon. Feel her joy. She doesn't know that anything is wrong. We have to let her stay happy and innocent for as long as we can, okay?"

"Okay," he murmured. She made perfect sense. Noelle didn't know that Dominik was gone and if they acted responsibly, she need not know until she was old enough to digest the information. Looking at her, he saw the future and it was everything he wanted it to be. A pigeon waddled towards her and her peel of laughter brought sudden tears to his eyes. "Sunshine," he whispered as he and Dawn reached their daughter and Stefan.

"Papa!" she squealed. She ran into his arms, wrapping her small arms around his neck. She gave him a loud kiss on his cheek and then proclaimed, "Grandpa and me feed the pigeons."

"I saw," he said. He lowered her to the ground and watched as she and Dawn greeted each other with a hug and a kiss. Only one thing was missing that made this picture complete. Dominik.

"Has there been any word?" Stefan asked. Keeping his voice low, he broke through Nikolas' reverie.

"Tommy found a print and some fabric," Nikolas murmured. "He's using the lab at Wyndemere to test it. He will call me as soon as he has anything."

"Very good."

"Father," Nikolas said, "I haven't said anything to anyone else. Please don't mention it."

Stefan raised an eyebrow in surprise, but did not voice his concerns. He nodded his head once. "Of course not."

"It's not what you think," Nikolas explained, off Stefan's look. "I don't want to get her hopes up."

"It's not wise to deceive her," Stefan advised. "Don't play Russian roulette with your marriage."

"That's going a bit far, don't you think?" Nikolas asked.

"What's going too far?" Dawn asked. She and Noelle stared at the two men, curious expressions were on both their faces.

"What's wrong, Papa?" Noelle asked.

"Nothing," he said, as he caressed the little girl's smooth cheek. He looked at his wife. "Everything is fine."

A rustle of leaves and fluttering birds interrupted their conversation. Nikolas looked to the east side of the park and saw a flash of light. Acting on impulse, he thrust Noelle at Dawn, "Stay here!"

"I'm coming with you," Stefan told him and the two men disappeared down the path.

Their footsteps fell heavily on the brick pavement. Around them, their bodyguards moved into position and counted them, making sure that some had stayed behind to protect Dawn and Noelle. Satisfied that all the guards hadn't joined him and Stefan, he allowed himself to fully concentrate on the matter at hand.

"I saw the flash right over there," he said, pointing towards some bushes.

The bodyguards ran to inspect the area first. Nikolas and Stefan were fast on their heels when a blast of shots were fired a few yards behind them. Screams echoed through the park. A chill raced down his spine.

"DAWN!" he screamed. He spun on his heel and ran back towards the gunshots.


"I have to use the restroom," Keesha announced as she and Jason stood in the hallway outside of Dr. Graham's office. "I'll meet you at the car."

"Yes, ma'am!" Jason said, adding a mock salute.

"Cute," she said, swatting his behind as she went past him to her destination.

"Yes, you are. The cutest drill sergeant that I ever saw." He watched as the restroom door closed behind her. When she was safely inside, he went to the receptionist and made their next appointment. He signed the insurance forms and paid the remaining balance. With those duties performed, he went outside to wait for his wife as instructed. Thinking about what the doctor had told them, he did not expect to hear the sound of the familiar voice that called out to him.


He turned. "Sonny?" He raised a hand to shade his eyes from the sun. Squinting through the glare, he saw that his ears had not deceived him. It was Sonny. He walked over to the other man and grabbed him a brief, warm hug. "What are you doing here?" he asked, upon release.

"I was about to ask you the same thing," Sonny said.

"Keesha's pregnant," Jason said, smiling. "Our doctor's office is inside. Keesha should be out in a minute. She'll be surprised to see you. Is Simone with you? I know that Tommy has Shana."

"No, Simone's at home," Sonny answered him. His dark eyes narrowed. An air of grave importance descended around him. "What do you know about that Dr. Graham?"

Jason frowned. "She's Keesha's doctor. She's good. Her credentials check out. Why? What do you know about her?"

Sonny pinched the bridge of his nose. He took his time answering and Jason became agitated. Finally, he spoke again. "She's not any good. You should get a second opinion."

"What?" Jason asked, his expression incredulous. "You show up out of the blue in a parking lot and give me some cryptic message: 'You should get a second opinion.' What the hell is going on, Sonny?"

"I can't really talk about it," Sonny hedged.

"Bullshit. Spill it. Now."

"I shouldn't say anything and whatever I say, stays between you and me. Got it?" Jason's patience almost snapped. "I got it. Come on, Sonny. Keesha will be out here soon and I want to know now. What's the deal with the doctor?"

"Dara was one of her patients and now she has a disease that is slowly killing her."

"What?!" Jason exclaimed. Sonny's news was shocking.

"Simone and the Doctors Harmon are trying to find a cure, but what she was given was manufactured. Dara went to Dr. Graham to have some fertility tests done. Dr. Graham recommended that she go to another facility to for experimental therapy. Cassadine came over a few days ago to check it out and found that the facility has mysteriously disappeared. He's busy with some family problems right now, so I'm here to take up where he left off," Sonny explained. "Please, tell me that none of this sounds familiar to you. Keesha didn't come here until after she was pregnant, right?"

"Maybe this has all been a coincidence. Keesha's okay," he said, trying to convince himself. "I've been with her to every appointment."

"Jason, I know this is scary to think about, but she didn't use any special drugs to get pregnant, did she? She would tell you, right?"

"Of course, she would tell me," Jason said. "This is unbelievable."

"It sure is," Keesha said, having joined them without the two men being aware. "Hi, Sonny. What a surprise to see you here."

"Yeah," he agreed. He opened his arms to hug her and offer his congratulations. "I'm happy for you both."

"You came all the way from your beautiful island to tell us that. Wow. I'm impressed," Keesha said with a smile. She placed her arm around Jason's waist, as he put is arm around her shoulder. "How did you know we'd be here?"

Sonny gave her a charming smile. "I have my sources. I have to get going, but let's have dinner tonight at the Grille. Jason, think about what I said. Take care."

Sonny left as suddenly as he had appeared. Jason watched him leave, oblivious to Keesha until she tugged on his hand. "Yes?" he asked. He turned towards her and pulled her into the circle of his arms.

"Should I be worried?" she asked with a frown.

He kissed the tip of her nose. Taking her hand, he led her back to his truck. "I told you before. No worries. There's nothing worry about. Sonny and I were just talking. That's all."

"Okay," she murmured.


The trio of doctors sat at the desk, their eyes drawn to the computer screen. Outside, waves lapped against the shore and seagulls sung a baleful tune. Down the hall, a mother patted her daughter's hand and fought hard to keep their spirits up. But in the lab and behind the desk, three physicians studied their medical findings and dared to hope for a breakthrough.

"Do you see that strain there?" Matt asked. He outlined the wriggly pattern with his forefinger. He looked first at his wife and then their colleague before turning his attention to the screen again. "Do you see what I see?"

"It looks like it's feeding…off her blood," Ellen murmured. "That's what it looks like to me. Simone?"

"I see the same thing. It weakens her blood cells and then it turns around and eats them. I think we could try it," she said with confidence.

"Do you think it would work?" Matt asked, not wanting to get his hopes up too high.

"I think there's only one way to find out," Ellen said. "It wouldn't hurt to try."

"We'll have to move her—"

"No," Simone said, cutting Matt off. "We can do the blood transfusion here. I'll go make a few phone calls. With a well-placed donation, I can get the equipment here in under 2 hours."

"Sounds great," Matt said, slowly pushing the doubts away. "We'll go in and talk to Dara and Carrie."

"Carrie will say yes," Simone said. "She hates needles so lie. Tell her she won't feel a thing!"

Simone bounced out the room, leaving the couple staring after her in amusement. "She's a bundle of energy," Matt commented. "I hope this will work."

"It will," Ellen said, sliding her hand into his as he stood up. He leaned heavily on his cane and a bead of perspiration broke out on his upper lip. Ellen stopped him as he moved to walk past her. "Are you okay?"

"I'm hanging in there," he said with a tight smile. "There are good days and bad days. Today just happens to not be a good one."

"Should I get the chair?" Ellen asked, her eyes watched him closely.

He shook his head. "It's not so bad that I can't walk. The chair can stay where it is for now."

"Don't be bullheaded when you're in pain," his wife advised him. "You're smart man. You're too smart to play dumb-"

"Ouch!" he cried, placing a hand over his heart. "Woman, you wound me."

He laughed heartily as she playfully shook her finger under his nose. "You are too much."

"And that's why you love me," he told her.

"Maybe," she replied with a shrug. With her arm around his waist, they inched slowly to the door. When they reached the hallway, she asked him again, "Are you sure about the chair?"

"Positive," he told her. "I knew I'd have days like this. If it becomes too much, I'll sit Dara's procedure out, but 'til then, I want to be there."

"Okay," Ellen said, giving him an encouraging smile.