Life After Dark

Chapter 103

~ Aftershocks: The End ~

"The only thing that matters is you and me."

Jason lowered his face to claim Keesha's lips in a deep, imploring kiss. His mouth moved sensuously across her soft, pliant lips, silently demanding her to open herself up to him. She did and in his eagerness to taste her, his tongue darted into her mouth and found hers.

Tasting…probing…tantalizing and soul-stirring.

The feel of Jason's tongue on hers sent shivers up and down Keesha's spine. Her hands held on to the hard muscles of his bare back, as he threaded his large hands in the waves of her dark brown tresses. Gently and tenderly, he angled her head and kept it close to his so that the kiss didn't break…wouldn't end…as he continued to press his hot, open mouth against hers.

In time, the need for air forced their lips to separate. Breathless, the newlyweds stared at each other. Their need to join and be one was strong, and Jason found that he couldn't deny himself the pleasure of hearing her sign and moan in satisfaction from her husband's loving attention.

His hands slowly drifted from her hair to lightly stroke the sides of her neck. His thumb caressed her rapidly beating pulse and he smiled at the acknowledgement of how deeply his touch affected her. His hands continued downward on their journey until they rested at the top button of her shirt. He parted the folds of the shirt open with two inquisitive fingers, and as her soft, mocha flesh was revealed to him, he slipped one baby finger inside to gently stroke the swell of her breast. "Jason," she moaned softly as her entire being trembled.

"Yeah?" he asked. His piercing blue eyes were riveted to hers as a sensuous smile formed on his lips which were now slightly swollen from their kisses.

"This feels so good," she breathed, as he lowered his head to replace his baby finger on her hot, quivering flesh. "But…"

Mid-kiss, Jason paused. Heady with desire, he raised his head, and repeated, "But?"

"We should go back," she told him, cupping his strong jaw line with the palm of her hand. Her thumb traced the outline of his full lower lip as she waited for him to respond.

"Go back? Where?" he asked, confused by her response and dazed by her caresses.

"Back to the mansion," she told him before she placed a light kiss on his lips and removed herself from his lap.

"You can't be serious," he said, watching her as she moved away from him and headed to their walk-in closet.

"I am," she called out. She quickly found what she was looking for and rejoined him in the bedroom. She placed the beige linen pantsuit on the bed and began to strip out of the clothes she had borrowed from Eve.

"But, Keesha…baby, it's our wedding night…and… Well, baby, I'm ready to…well, you *know*," he said, pointing to his obvious state of readiness.

Keesha made a point of looking and by the time, she raised her eyes to his, he was even more ready than he had been moments before. Sadly, she shook her head, "I can see that you…are…very…*very* ready, but love, we have to go back. No one knows where we are, and we still have a wedding cake to cut. Not to mention, AJ-"

"What about AJ?" Jason asked. He rose to his feet and moved to stand in front of her.

"He knows," she said, pausing as she removed the button down top she wore. Her eyes never wavered from his as she said, "I went to him and told him everything. He went to the mansion and I'm pretty sure he's on the warpath. We need to go and make things right."

"Things were made right when you told him. He knows that Michael isn't mine. Isn't that enough?" Jason asked, his expression hard as his eyes clouded over at the pain of losing his 'son'.

"No," Keesha said as she shook her head, "it's not enough. He heard it from me. He should hear it from you, too. And, also from that thing known as Carly."

The sour expression on Jason's face vanished at his wife's uncharacteristic surliness. He chuckled softly as he drew her into his strong, loving arms. "Are you sure you want to face 'The Thing' again so soon?"

"Yeah. The sooner she understands that she's out of our lives, the better. I'm ready," she nodded. "Are you?" she asked, softly.

"As I'll ever be." He released a long sigh and hugged her to him. Facing AJ would be hard, but Keesha was right. Again. He and his brother were long overdue for a truthful, no-holds-barred discussion. Long overdue.


With a happy smile plastered on his face, Jordan left Sly and Lark to meet Emily as she crossed the room on her way to him. "Hi, Emmie," he said as he reached her.

"Hi, Jordan," she replied with a tight smile. The search and rescue game she'd played with her family had irritated her just a little bit. And, the only thing that she was certain would calm her frazzled nerves was Jordan's exhilarating, yet calming presence, and the happy, smiling face of her nephew. "Where's Michael?" she asked, noticing that one half of her self-prescribed therapy was missing. "Did you take him upstairs?"

"No, he's with Dawn and Nikolas-"

"Why do they have him? I asked *you* to watch him!" she said, her voice rising slightly.

"Wait a minute. Chill out, okay? Why the rage? They wanted to get some practice in, so I-"

"Practice?" she repeated. "Michael is not a practice toy for Dawn to play with."

"Oh," he nodded slowly, as the realization dawned on him. (Author's note: No pun intended. ) "This isn't about Michael. This is about Dawn. I can't believe you, Em."

"What?" she asked, a frown creasing her brow. "For a change, this doesn't have anything to do with her."

"'For a change?'" he repeated. He folded his arms across his chest as he looked down into her fiery brown eyes. "So, what did she do now? Is this about Lucky and Liz's break up? I've noticed the looks you and Lark have been throwing her. Blaming her for what happened between them isn't right and you know it."

"I'm not blaming her for anything," she muttered, looking away as his eyes demanded her to admit to the validity of his words.

"Liar," he said softly. He wanted her to face him and admit that he was right, but he could read her well enough to know that she wouldn't. "She has enough problems without you and Lark giving her grief, too."

"What did you just say to me?" she asked, her eyes on his again. "So you're one of her many bodyguards, too? So, she's right and I'm wrong. Is that it?"

"I'm not her bodyguard. I'm her friend, and if you paid enough attention to the life she's living than to the petty crap Lark is feeding you, you'd realize that her bodyguards are necessary-"

"Where did they take Michael?" Emily asked, cutting him off in her refusal to discuss Dawn any further. Deep in her heart, she knew Nikolas' wife wasn't fully responsible for her closest friends' break up, but from the things Lark had told her…and what she had witnessed for herself...the way Dawn avoided Lucky at all costs… She knew that she shared part of the blame. And, that part was enough for Emily's doubts about her to surface.

Jordan's brown eyes darkened as he took as much of her rudeness he could stand. "They're in the kitchen," he said before he walked away from her.

Emily watched his retreating back until he was lost in the crowd. After he was no longer in her sight, she released a deep sigh. Then she went in search of her godson.


"You should have told us that you were leaving," Simone was telling her son. Little did she know that her son's mind was miles away. Actually, it wasn't as far away as all that. His mind was a few feet away as his thoughts were consumed with whatever was happening in the kitchen.

"Tommy? Are you listening to me?" Simone asked as her son moved past her and began to go toward the kitchen.

"I'm sorry, Mama," he said. He stopped in the middle of the hallway and turned around as he waited for her to reach him. "I was thinking about AJ and Michael. With Jason not here, maybe I should make sure Mikey's okay."

"AJ's Jason's brother," Simone shrugged. "I'm sure everything is fine."

"Yeah, I guess so, but in all the times I've been with Jason, I've never seen AJ come over." He frowned as he replayed the brief interchange from only moments before. Looking at his mother, he said, "And didn't it seem a little strange that he wasn't invited to the wedding, but he could come over to see Michael? And, what about the way he rushed off to the kitchen after him? I'd better see what's going on-"

Sonny, who had been listening to the private conversation between mother and son with highly trained ears, chose that moment to make his presence known. He opened the door and blocked its threshold with his body as he interrupted Tommy. "Tommy, where's Jase? Is everything okay?"

"Hey, Sonny," Tommy said, in greeting to the older man. He turned to face Sonny, missing the panic-stricken expression, which had come across his mother's face. Oblivious to her, he said, "I took him home. He's… Well, I wouldn't say he's okay, but…I guess… I don't know."

"Tommy." Simone's voice was quiet, yet steely as she grasped her son's upper arm in a vise-like grip. She pulled him towards her as she said, "It's time to go."

"Mama?" he asked, a quizzical expression on his handsome face. He carefully pried her fingers from around his biceps as he asked, "What's wrong? Are you sick?"

"No," was her brusque reply. Her eyes, filled with loathing and repugnance, swept over Sonny.

Tommy followed the direction of her gaze and looked at Sonny in confusion. Sonny looked at both of them with a blank expression on his face. He didn't know her. Through Jason and Tommy, he knew of her, but he knew that he had done nothing to her personally to warrant the venom, which oozed from her dark brown eyes and stung him viciously. As she continued to stare at him, he felt an odd need to set her at ease. Placing his hand over his heart, he took a step towards her. "I…" he began, but quickly stopped as she recoiled from him and pulled her son with her.

"Mama?" Tommy asked again. He placed his arm around her. He was surprised when her arm wrapped around his waist and she began to pull him away from Sonny. "What? Do you know him?"

"She doesn't know me," Sonny quickly denied. "Listen, Dr. Hardy, I-"

Sonny wasn't the only person eavesdropping in the den. Nor was he the only person who knew a good opportunity when…or in this case…she saw it. Standing just behind him, Carly saw her opportunity and took it. As Sonny began to try to explain himself, she pushed past him and ran down the hallway. She'd heard the kid say 'Michael' and 'kitchen'. Once she had him, her pot of gold would be within reach. She just had to follow the rainbow to get there. "Michael, Mama is on her way," she smirked to herself.

Part 2

The baby stared back at the man who hadn't stopped grinning at him. He knew that the man was not a part of his world. He wasn't his Dada, and the woman who stood next to him wasn't his Ma Ma. He felt safe in the man's arms, but still it didn't feel just right. Not like when his Dada held him. His Dada held him close and kept him safe. The man smiling back at him felt safe, but still, Michael didn't know him. And, the longer the man held him, the more anxious the baby became.

The cries began to build up inside of him, forcing his face to grow hot and his breathing to become labored. If the inhabitants of his world didn't arrive soon, he would become upset. Very upset.

Pursing his lips as the tears began to glisten his eyes, he began to squirm, frantically searching for his parents.


"There, there, Michael," AJ murmured, patting his son's small back as he began to cry. "Ssh, it's okay."

"Check his diaper," Eve suggested as AJ began to pace with the wailing child, "maybe he's wet."

AJ felt around Michael's diaper and shook his head. "He's not wet. Maybe he's hungry. Can someone grab a bottle for me?"

"I don't think he's hungry," Nikolas told him. "We just fed him, and he ate most of it."

"Well, what else could be wrong with him?" AJ asked, becoming frantic as Michael's cries increased in volume and intensity.

"He could be sleepy?" Eve suggested, trying to brush down Michael's hair, but giving up as he shied away from her touch.

"He was laughing before," Dawn said. She rose from her seated position beside Nikolas and went to the two anxious Quartermaine males. She was a little surprised when Michael's cries lessened upon her approach. Tentatively she held out her hands and was stunned when Michael almost leapt into her arms. "Would you mind?" she asked, looking into AJ's worried hazel eyes.

AJ didn't want to give Michael to Dawn, but the longer he hesitated the more upset Michael became again. Defeated, AJ carefully placed the child into Dawn's eager arms. She shrugged at AJ as if to say 'sorry' and then she began to walk around the room, gently rocking him with each step she took.

"Dawn, don't walk around with him so much," Nikolas gently scolded.

"Nikky, ssh," she said, to her husband using a gentle tone as Michael kept his eyes glued to her. "We're fine. He needs the rocking motion to calm down."

"Even so-"

The remainder of Nikolas thought was lost as a blonde whirlwind roared into the kitchen. She glanced around the room, obviously searching for something or someone. She quickly found who she was looking for and made a beeline straight to Dawn. "Give him to me," Carly demanded as she came face to face with the younger woman.

Dawn held Michael closer to her chest, moving him away from the stranger. "No," she told the rude woman, turning her back on her as she headed towards Nikolas.

"I *said* give him to me!" She closed her hand around the other woman's shoulder, squeezing for emphasis. "Don't make me-"

"You'd better take your damn hands off of me!" Dawn said, her eyes glaring at the woman. She kept a firm hold on Michael, feeling his distress and knowing that the woman's odd behavior wasn't helping ease his discontent.

Carly ignored Dawn's advice, and instead of removing her hand, she squeezed Dawn's shoulder. She was angry and operating on pure adrenaline. AJ, the Cassadine kid and two women were there that she'd never seen before and in the middle of it all was Michael. He clutched the younger woman and squirmed each time Carly said a word. The entire scene infuriated her and she had to take it out on someone. And, lucky for her, the girl resembled Keesha enough to make the physical aspect of it that much more appealing. She could almost imagine that it was Keesha's throat she was squeezing and not the teenager's shoulder-

"Unhand her, now!" Nikolas said the words, moving to separate them just as Eve moved to physically remove Carly's hand from her young friend's shoulder.

Eve twisted Carly's wrist as she pulled her hand from Dawn's shoulder. Sonny's earlier assault had given her a faint bruise and Carly cried out through gritted teeth. "Let go of me."

"If you don't like it, don't do it!" Eve reprimanded her.

AJ, who had been watching the scene unfold in seething silence, went to Dawn. He reached for Michael, and said, "Give him to me."

"Don’t you dare give him my son!" Carly said, moving toward position herself between AJ and Dawn.

Dawn sidestepped her. She shook her head. "This precious baby is *your* son?? I don't think so."

"Dammit, I'm not telling you again, but if you want to be brought up on kidnapping charges-"

"Carly, give it a rest," AJ said, his jaw tight. He moved in front of her and stood before Dawn. "It's okay to give him to me."

"Are you sure? He's still kind of fussy," she said, continuing to gently bounce the fussy child. "I don't mind holding him."

"I know and I appreciate your help, but it's time I held him and eased his distress." AJ held his hands out again. "Please."

"Okay." Dawn placed Michael into AJ's waiting arms. The baby kicked and fussed when he no longer felt her gentle touch. "Ssh," Dawn cooed, patting his back as his tears increased. She looked at AJ and offered her services again. "Really, I don't mind."

"It's fine," AJ reassured her. He looked at her and Nikolas and said, "You both should probably leave now."

"Are you sure?" Nikolas asked. He glanced behind AJ to look at Carly and Eve as they stood toe to toe, glaring at each other. "It doesn't look like a good place to be right now. Maybe we should take your nephew with us."

"He's not my nephew, he's my son," AJ said with pride over the cries of his child, "and he's staying with me."

"Very well, then. Shall we alert someone about…" he pointed to Carly, his brown eyes flashed with ire as he remembered her grip on his wife's shoulder. He would hate to resort to stereotypical Cassadine behavior, but he refused to allow her to get away with touching and attempting to threaten Dawn.

"No. I can handle her." AJ offered them a faint smile and his eyes rested on Dawn as he said, "Thanks again."

She smiled and gave his son one last pat on his back. "It was my pleasure."

She took Nikolas proffered hand and as they moved past Carly, she glared at the woman and said, "Don't even think about ever putting your hands on me again."

"Or else?" Carly smirked. The girl thought she was intimidating because she was dating a Cassadine. Big deal, Carly thought. It wasn't like she *was* a Cassadine.

"Girl, you wouldn't want to know," Dawn told her, her voice deadly quiet. She looked up at Nikolas who stared down at her in admiration and said, "Let's get out of here. Looking at her makes my butt hurt."

"Why you little bi-" Carly muttered as Dawn and Nikolas left.

"I wouldn't go there if I were you," Eve warned her. "Cassadines don't take too kindly to insults. You might wind up frozen or something."

"She's not a Cassadine," Carly said, whipping her head around to fixate her piercing stare on the brunette.

"Oh, but she is, and from the looks of her husband, you've just made an enemy for life." Eve shook her head, as she looked Carly up and down. "I didn't believe it at first, but you really are as stupid as they say."

"Listen you, wench-" Carly began. Her fresh tirade startled Mikey and caused him to cry even harder.

"See what you did?" AJ asked, moving away from her as she tried to take Michael from him. "He was almost settled, but you had to do your usual…putting yourself above anything and anyone else."

"Who are you to look down your nose at me?" She advanced towards AJ. "Give me my son, AJ. Give him to me now!"

"No," AJ said, shaking his head. His arms moved protectively around the crying child and held him close to him. "I will not give my son to you. There's no way in hell; I'd ever do that. No way."


"Okay, he's gone now," Tommy said to Simone, as they returned to the large dining room where the reception was being held. "Would you please tell me what happened back there?"

Averting her eyes, Simone shrugged. She didn't know what had happened. All she knew was that she felt an overwhelming aversion and something akin to fear as she looked at the former mob boss. She wasn't sure what it was tied to, but she knew that the feeling consumed her. And, she felt a hatred she'd never felt before.

The wheels in her head turned at an alarming rate as she wondered if it had something to do with the past she had conveniently forgotten. A past she wanted and needed to remember in order to be truly free again.

What if…? Could it be possible that Sonny Corinthos was somehow tied to that past and that deep within her subconscious, she remembered him?

"Mama?" her son prompted again. "What's going on?" he asked her, seeing the faraway look in her eyes. "Did you remember something?" he asked, mildly alarming her with his uncanny ability to read her so well.

"Well, Tommy, I-"

"Are you pressuring her regarding her amnesia?" John asked, appearing to stand on the other side of Simone. His hand moved to possessively take hold of her elbow as he looked at her son. His dislike for her offspring was his greatest challenge to disguise. He was fairly certain that no one knew of how deeply he hated the product of her union with another, but being the wonder that he was, he wasn't surprised by his ability to deceive. Lowering his eyes to look down at Simone, he said, "You know what your physicians have said about forcing the memories. You mustn't."

"We *weren't*," Tommy replied, glaring at the man who now spent a good deal of time with his mother. He didn't like John and he for damn sure didn't trust him. He tolerated him for his mother's sake, but he felt, just as Gina did, that there wasn't something right about him. He had tried to warn his mother, but his pleas had fallen on deaf ears. He had since given up, but whenever John was around he always remained close by.

"Tommy, please, don't," Simone said, hearing the tension in her son's voice. She looked from her son to her dear special friend and said, "Don't worry about me. I'm fine. Really, I am. Let's have fun, shall we?"

"Sure, Mama," Tommy smiled at her and gave her a brief kiss on her cheek. She patted his cheek and after taking John's hand, began to move away. Tommy watched them for several seconds. She seemed happy with John and that's all he wanted for her, but still the man bothered him. Sometimes, he almost felt like he knew why and then, quite suddenly, the feeling would pass. Now, the feeling swept over him again and just as quickly evaporated. A flash of Gina appeared before his eyes as she laughed with his cousin. Shrugging off the nagging doubts, he left his stance by their table and moved to join them.


"AJ, just what the hell are you doing?!" Emily questioned as she and Sonny entered the kitchen at the same time. She went straight to her older brother and with arms outstretched, demanded, "Give him to me."

"No, Em," AJ shook his head at her and backed away. "I'm keeping him."

"I can't believe you're at it again!" she accused. "Where's Grandfather? I'm sure he's behind this. I wouldn't be surprised if he kidnapped Jason and Keesha just so you both could get your hands on him. This is ridiculous, and on his father's wedding day, too! Give him to me!"

"This isn't his father's wedding day," AJ corrected her.

"What?! His father did get married today."

"No, he didn't," AJ denied, "Em, Jason isn't Michael's father-"

"Oh, please! What are you talking about? You know, you and Grandfather would do anything to get your-"

"Em, listen to me!" AJ continued to bounce an almost quiet Michael in his arms. "Michael is my son, not Jason's. And, this has nothing to do with Grandfather. This is between my son and me, and I'm not giving him to you or anyone else. He's mine and he's staying with me."

"Do you hear yourself?" she cried. "You're just like Grandfather, and Michael is nothing more than a possession to you. And, I can't believe the lies that are coming out of your mouth! Jason *is* Michael's father! He is! And, when he and Keesha come back-"

"We're back," Jason said softly as he and Keesha entered the kitchen. Walking hand-in-hand and smartly dressed in a beige linen pantsuit for Keesha and a dark blue suit for Jason, they made a handsome pair. As they entered the mansion, they encountered the Cassadines who directed them to the kitchen. And, now, they were there, standing side by side, ready to take on whomever and whatever.

"And, AJ is telling the truth," Keesha added. "AJ is Michael's father."

"I don't believe you," Emily said, dismissing Keesha. Her eyes moved to Jason's and implored him to deny his wife's comments. "She's lying for AJ, Jason, I just know she is. She always defended him and she's doing it again. I know you wouldn't lie to all of us. I know that! Make them stop. Get your son back before Grandfather and the rest of them come in here and try to take him away."

Jason drew a long breath. The moment had come and he had to face it. He had to say it. Out loud. "Em, I don't have a son. Keesha and AJ are telling the truth. He is Michael's father."

"No." Emily shook her head in denial. "Don't Jason. Don't lie for her." She pointed at Keesha. "Don’t give up Mikey for her."

"I'm not, Emily," he said, squeezing Keesha's hands as he sensed the hurt she felt at Emily's accusations. "Keesha's my wife and I love her, but I'm not giving up Mikey for her. He was never mine to give up."

"Jase, what are you doing?" Carly questioned. A look of disbelief and disappointment was evident in her eyes as she looked at him. Was that bastard, Corinthos, right? Had Jason really changed? She had to press him to make sure. "What about what you said earlier? About me never having him. Does this still hold true? Are you giving up that beautiful boy you raised from birth to me?" She pointed to herself.

"I meant what I said. I can't control what you do with him. You're the parent…both you and AJ are. I can't control what happens to Michael anymore," Jason said.

"Wow, that's a switch," AJ replied, rolling his eyes. He moved to stand in front of his brother as he continued to speak. "No more control? That's so unlike you. Are you sure this is something you can live with? I would hate for you to lie. It's not like you'd ever do that."

"Go ahead, AJ, let it all out." Jason kept his eyes on his brother's, knowing that he couldn't bear to look upon the whimpering child who still held his heart. "You've waited a while for this. Yeah, I lied. Do you feel vindicated now?"

Michael turned his head at the sound of the familiar voice. Tears sprang to his eyes again as he held out his arms and mumbled, "Dada. Ma Ma."

AJ's throat constricted and he held the restless child closer to him. "Ssh, it's okay," he cooed.

"What did he just say?" Carly asked, her eyes moving from her son to Keesha. "I know that *my* son did NOT just call you 'mama!' Why you little bit-"

"That's enough!" Jason warned her, his blue eyes blazing.

"No, baby, let her," Keesha said, stilling Jason with a touch of her hand. "We've been long overdue for this. Long overdue."

Chapter 104

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