Life After Dark

Chapter 112

~ New Year's Eve: Remembrance of Things Past? ~

The pair dragged their exhausted bodies and aching feet across the threshold. The older and taller of the pair slammed and locked the door behind them as the younger and shorter one collapsed on the first piece of furniture she could find.

Resting the back of her head against the armrest of the loveseat, Elizabeth closed her eyes. She was vaguely aware that her toes had followed her silent plea to push her trendy pair of Sketchers off of her feet. With a low moan, she snuggled deeper into the plush sofa. "This feels heavenly," she sighed with a faint smile on her full lips.

Simone regarded her niece with a smile and playful shake of her head. She, too, plopped down on the sofa, which faced the loveseat. She had half a mind to remove her shoes, too, but she knew if she made that move, she'd be down for the rest of the afternoon. She didn't want to spend her first (well, the first one that she would remember) visit to the Big Apple stretched out asleep. There were sites she wanted to see, food she wanted to eat, and maybe even a stroll through Central Park that she wanted to take. She knew from first hand experience that life was short and with that knowledge, she planned to live it to the fullest.

After extending her long arms in an invigorating stretch, she became determined to get off her butt and *do* something. She rose from the sofa, carefully stepped over Liz's outstretched feet, and went into the bedroom section of the suite. When the trip was first suggested, John had offered them a two-bedroom suite, which Simone had quickly declined. Having him cover the majority of the trip was bad enough, but she could not allow him to pay more than what was necessary. He had protested, as she knew he would, but she had remained firm. In the end, Simone was victorious.

She went to the closet and was relieved to see that their luggage had not been disturbed. She had a few misgivings about complete strangers going through her belongings and arranging them for her, so she had refused to relinquish the key. After John's tour of the City and their own private adventure after he had left them to attend to business, Simone welcomed the small task of unpacking her suitcases. She liked it so much that she even began to tackle Liz's once she was done with her own.

Simone's movements were almost robotic as her mind began to travel. Her first thought was of her relationship with John. Since their meeting, they had become quite close. She considered him a friend, and although there were times when he could be rather overbearing, she enjoyed his company. Their level of intimacy hadn't progressed any further than handholding and chaste kisses on the cheek, but lately, she found herself becoming curious as to what "more" would feel like. Intercourse was the furthest thing on her mind, but she had imagined if his lips would be as soft on her lips as they had been on her cheek or her hand. She knew that John wondered the same (if not more), but just like the gentlemen she knew him to be, he had never forced the issue.

A slight chill swept through her and her heart began to race. Dropping Liz's brown cashmere sweater back into the suitcase, Simone closed her eyes and forced herself to regulate her breathing. Another spell, she thought. Another one where she wouldn't remember anything concrete. Over the last few days, she had begun to get a sense of something…as if something was right there, waiting for her to *see* it and then, just as soon as it came, it disappeared. The episodes frustrated her to no end. After complaining to Gail, the two women had decided to try a hypnosis session when she came back. Simone had wanted to go for it then, but Gail had been adamant in her refusal. She had wanted Simone to give her mind one last chance to come through on its own before they began to "coerce" it. Tenacity and age had won that battle between them, and Simone had made an appointment for her first section for after the New Year. Gail had nodded her approval with a smile.

The deep breaths returned her heartbeat back down to normal, but the exercise did nothing to quiet her unease. Vigorously shaking her head, Simone decided that she would focus on something else. If the memory wouldn't come, she refused to be a slave to it. She reached into the suitcase and grabbed a armful of clothing. As she closed her hand over the various outfits, her fingertips swept over something cold and hard. The clothing fell from her arms again as she closed over the small object. A frown creased her brow as her brown eyes began to sizzle. "Elizabeth!" she called as her eyes rested on the switchblade which rested in the palm of her hand.

"Yeah?" Liz mumbled in her groggy state. She could barely open her eyes, but all of that changed when Simone called her again. Judging by the tone of her voice, Elizabeth had a strong feeling that she knew what was wrong. Gingerly pulling herself to her feet, Liz limped into the bedroom. She forced her eyes to remain on Simone's as she asked, "What's wrong?"

Simone rolled her eyes. Extending her hand, she asked, "What's this?"

Elizabeth swallowed hard. Why did she ever listen to her cousin, she asked herself. "It's a blade."

"What was it doing in your bag? Why did you bring this?" Simone demanded.

"Um…I-I…" Liz took a deep breath. She didn't want to blab on Tommy and he had meant well when he gave it to her, but…

"Elizabeth, I'm waiting." Simone folded her arms across her chest. "Where did you get it? Aren't these things illegal?"

Incapable of speech, Liz nodded slowly.

"Well?" Simone prompted. "Did Lucky give it to you?"

"Of course not!" Liz replied, indignantly.

"So? Heather* Elizabeth Webber, don't make me ask again!"

"I'm sorry, Aunt Simone, b-but…" Liz faltered and just gave up.

Realization dawned on Simone and she knew. "Tommy gave this to you, didn't he? I know he doesn't like John, but this is ridiculous." Simone pocketed the knife and strode to the bedside table.

"What are you doing?" Liz asked, moving to follow her aunt.

"I'm calling my son," Simone said, as she picked up the telephone, "and I'm informing him that his ass will be grass when I-"

"Aunt Simone, no!" Liz took the phone from her. She quickly spoke again before Simone could get a word in. "He didn't give it to me just because of John. He said that he'd heard that New York could be a scary place and since he couldn't be here, he wanted to make sure we'd be protected."

Simone released a weary sigh. She reached into her pocket and pulled out the knife. She turned it over in the palm of her hand before she held it up to the light. She then rested her eyes on her anxious niece. "If you don't know how to use one of these things, they can cause more harm than good. A knife isn't a toy, Liz. It can kill you as easily and as painfully as a gun."

"I know that, but I also know how to use it-"

"What?! How? Did Tommy-"

"No." Liz shook her head. She carefully took the knife from Simone. "Gina showed me. She's pretty good with these things. She said…"

Liz's voice faded as Gina's voice became clear and strong in Simone's mind. Holding herself very still, Simone listened intently as her friend's words and image flashed into her mind. She could just barely see it…or sense it…it was just her and Gina. Gina was much thinner than she is now, but her hazel eyes shone with the same determined light. Her strong, pale hands tugged viciously through an endless basket of laundry, and her eyes glimmered with hate. "I swear to you," she told Simone, "one of these days that worthless pig will pay for what he's done to you. He'll be gutted like the pig he is. I promise you that. Ju-"

"Aunt Simone!" Liz repeated, grasping Simone's upper arms. The glazed, pained look on Simone's face frightened her. She shook her and called her name again.

"Wh-what's wrong?" Simone asked. Her head pounded and she closed her eyes for a second to ease the ache. "What happened?"

Liz shoved the luggage aside as she sat beside Simone on the bed. She patted her aunt's back as she softly said, "You were someplace else. We were talking and then you were gone. Are you okay? Should I call someone? Do you want me to page John?"

"Who?" Simone asked, stiffening.

Liz stared at Simone in surprise. "John," she said. "He's the one we came with. You do remember where we are, right?"

Simone blinked as another wave of unease came over her. Goosebumps rose on her forearms and on the back of her neck. Once again, the memory was right there and then it vanished. She took a deep breath and smiled to reassure the teenager. "I'm okay, Lizzie. We're in New York. I know where we are."

"What just happened?" Liz asked, taking Simone's hand. "Did you remember something?"

"I'm not sure," Simone answered. "It's possible, but whatever it was, it's gone now."

"Are you sure you don't want me to call someone? Gram or Mrs. Jensen or somebody?" Liz asked, her brown eyes filled with concern.

"No, sweetie," Simone said, giving her niece a faint smile. "I'm fine, but there is…something…"

"Yeah?" Liz asked. "What is it?"

"With the feelings that just washed over me, I kinda wish we had another blade."

Liz smiled. "We do. Tommy gave me two. One for me and one for you."

Simone shook her head, but inside, she couldn't help but acknowledge the relief she felt in knowing that she had a weapon…just in case.


Robert read the medical report again. His mind refused to believe what his eyes were telling him. He didn't want to face the prognosis of his most important patient and most well guarded secret. He closed the manila folder and slammed it down onto his desk. That was not the kind of news he wanted to read and it was definitely not something he would want to repeat. Trying to dispel the anxiety that crept up his spine, he pushed away from his desk and moved to stand in front of his picture window.

"What a way to spend New Year's Eve, Jensen," he said softly to himself.

"Tsk, tsk, tsk," John said with a derisive laugh as he closed door behind him. "No wonder you're all alone on New Year's Eve. Who would want to spend it with a psycho?"

"You should talk," Robert muttered, holding himself still as he continued to stare down onto the busy avenue.

"What was that?" John asked as he glided across the spacious office. He frowned as he looked at the sterile room and bare furnishing. "Your lack of taste never ceases to astound me."

Robert shoved clenched fists into his front pockets. "What do you want?" he asked, his voice tired and defeated.

"Perk up!" John said as he moved to give Robert a hard slap on his back. "I come bearing tidings of comfort and joy!"

"You're a little late for that," Robert said, refusing to turn his head to look at the other man.

"Yeah, I am, aren't I?" John agreed, laughing softly. "Oh, well, but better late than never I always say."

The happiness in the other man's voice and demeanor was impossible to ignore. Looking at John curiously, Robert said, "You're in a good mood. Did someone die?"

"Unfortunately, no, but the day is still young," John smirked. He removed his hand from Robert's back. He dusted his hands off and when he was done, admired his manicure. In an offhand manner, he asked, "Do you have my…ah…prescription?"

Robert bristled. He knew the words were coming, but a part of him had hoped… Well, it was too late for regret. The bond he and John shared would tie them together forever. Too bad he hadn't thought of that before he'd said yes…so many times.

"Paging, Dr. Jensen," John said in an automated voice. "Come in, Dr. Jensen. Roberto, I asked you a simple question. I make a simple request. Surely, you do not refuse me during this time of giving."

The softly spoken words were a threat. What John would use to hold him in line was a mystery to Robert, but he was not willing to play games with him. He released a long sigh and turned away from the window. He went back to his desk and pulled open the drawer. He reached inside and pulled out the bottle of pills. "Juan-"

"Do *not* call me by that name!" John's eyes flashed as he bit out the order. "I am not that man! He was a cursed fool! Giovanni Montega is no one's fool. Remember that!"

Robert nodded as a looked at John in wonder. So he admitted that he was a fool, Robert thought to himself. He wondered when that revelation came about. He gave his head a brief shake. He had to be careful that he didn't voice his thoughts aloud. Speaking slowly and cautiously, he said, "John, these pills are powerful. Are you certain-"

"I'm more than certain. I am positive. I've waited for this moment for far too long and I refuse to wait a moment longer." He held out his hand and waited as Robert dropped the bottle into the palm of his hand. He closed his fist over the bottle and bestowed Robert with a triumphant smile. "Your obedience never fails to bring a smile to my face. Now, about the other. What's the prognosis?"

"The boy has been asking about you. I think you should see him-"

"I do not wish to speak with you about that child! His mother! How is she? What of the last probe? Will she live?"

"She's breathing…" Robert hedged.

"That was not my question!" John said as his breathing became labored. "Will she have a life again, or will she remain a vegetable?"

"The prognosis isn't good. This last surgery might have…well, it might have done more harm than good. We warned you that it was too soon after the last and that her body wouldn't be able to sustain the trauma-"

"Did she flatline?" John asked, his voice flat and matter of fact.

"Not this time, but-"

"No," John shook his head. "She is strong. She will survive. After all, she has no choice. She's the only one who knows where the remaining diamonds are and I refuse to allow her to die before she tells me." A maniacal light shone in John's eyes for brief moment and then it disappeared. A tender smile shone upon his face and his voice softened. "The boy. Where is he? I must see him. All alone and nearly motherless, he must be terrified. Has he asked for me?"

"Dillon constantly asks for you," Robert said, unable to keep the amazement from his voice. Dillon Hornsby's hero worship of John never ceased to amaze Robert. Robert didn't understand it, nor did he want to. If Dillon was anything like his comatose mother, Tracy, the less Robert knew about him the better. But even so, he couldn’t help but feel sorry for the boy. Juan for a hero and Tracy Quartermaine for a mother…what a life. The weird quirks the kid had weren't surprising to Robert. He shuddered to think how the boy would be when he reached manhood. He only wished that he'd be far away and long forgotten on an island somewhere.

"Aw, does he?" John asked, touched. "He's a good boy. He loves his mother and he worships me. I can't help but like him. Do you suppose Tracy has said anything to him?"

"I doubt it," Robert shrugged. "She's only regained consciousness once and that was only for a split second. She hasn't spoken to him and he has no idea where the jewels are. Do you still want to see him?"

John bristled at Robert's mocking tone. Insufferable fool, he thought. Aloud, he said, "Of course. Will you join us or shall I leave you alone to resume your conversation?"

Robert didn't react when John took his turn to mock. He shrugged again and said. "I don't have anything else to do. Besides, I told I'd take him out for dinner."

"And all of this time, thought I was I was the tender-hearted one between the two of us. Wonders never cease," John said, finishing his words with a hearty laugh.

Chapter 113

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