Life After Dark

Chapter 136

~ Timoria: Aslan Has Different Forms and Faces ~

"Shit!" Lucky swept his hands through his hair, mussing it over his head. His hand rested on the dirt wall beside him as his eyes stared outside the entrance of the tunnel. He heaved an anguished sigh. "Dammit!"

"Selfish, it's only rain," Dawn said, pacing back and forth behind him. Her hands massaged the small of her back as she concentrated on taking slow, deep breaths. The discomfort had evolved into pain. She hadn't said a word to Lucky, but she was almost positive that she was in labor. Oh, God, she silently prayed, please watch over my baby. "We can still make it."

"No, we can't!" he replied, agitated. "It's pouring out there. I'm not risking your health in that mess! Shit!"

"You do realize that screaming about bodily functions at the top of your voice won't make the rain stop any sooner," Dawn told her. She mentally patted herself on the back for being able to tease him while biting back unbelievable pain. Another wave struck her, and she closed her eyes tight. This time a low moan escaped her lips and brought Lucky right to her side.

"Oh, my God!" Lucky said. He cupped her face between his palms, feeling the slick, sticky perspiration as it trailed down her cheeks. "Dawn! Why didn't you tell me?"

Dawn blinked the perspiration from her eyes and gave Lucky a playful frown. "Tell you what?" she asked.

"You're in fucking labor!" he exclaimed, staring at her.

"Geez Louise! You have a mouth like a sailor!" she said, staring back at him.

"I'm sorry-"

"No need to apologize. It doesn't bother me. And, telling you wouldn't have changed a thing."

"No, but at least… Oh, damn!" he groaned. "What are we gonna do?"

"I don't know," she said, quietly. Pain coursed through her again and she clutched Lucky's hand in an iron grip.

Lucky held onto her as she accepted the pain and waited for it to pass. As her breathing returned to something that he could consider as normal, he said, "I think you should sit down. Don't you? Do you know…anything about what we should do?"

Her bottom lip quivered and she choked back a sob. Focusing on being strong, she said, "Nikky and I took Lamaze classes. I remember that I should breathe and there will be times when I can push and when I shouldn't. I can't remember much else. I guess sitting down would be okay."

"Okay, we can do that. Hold on." Lucky reached inside his well-packed knapsack and removed a blanket. He went back to Dawn and guided her to the blanket. Keeping a firm hand around her waist, he carefully lowered her down to the blanket. He sat beside her and kept his arm around her shoulder. She nestled against him as he asked, "Is this comfortable?"

"Yeah, the rock underneath my butt feels just great," she mumbled. "Yeah, Lucky, it feels fine. Thank you for being…you."

Unsure of what she meant, he mumbled, "You're welcome."

They sat side by side on the dirt floor near the tunnel's entrance. Lightning streaked the sky as thunder rolled in the distance. The rain continued to pour down, and the pains continued to come. Dawn rode them all out. After the last pain had come and gone, she quietly said, "Lucky?"

"Yeah?" he asked. He had taken off his long sleeved denim shirt and he was now using it to wipe at the beads of sweat that gathered on her brow. "What, Dawn?"

"Promise me that you'll watch over the baby for me."

"What are you talking about?" he asked, tensing up.

"I'm talking about after…in case I don't make it," she said quietly. "Neither of us knows the first thing about having a baby. There are bound to be complications. I know that nothing will happen to this baby, but if something does happen to me, I want you to promise me that you'll make sure that my baby gets out of here alive-"

"Dawn, don't talk like that," he told her. "You and little Junior will survive this-"

"We may not, Lucky," she said, cutting him off. "Something bad is gonna happen. I can feel it-"

"You and these feelings! Well, I'll tell you what I feel. I feel that we're all gonna get through this. I'm gonna spoil the little tyke rotten and leave you and Nikolas behind to deal with it. You're gonna have me over for birthday parties and I'm gonna be the cool uncle who the kid will just adore. That's what I feel!"

Dawn slowly nodded. "I wish I felt that, too…"

"You can," he told her. He shifted so that he was behind her. He pulled her back against his chest and his hands gently massaged her shoulders. "Close your eyes, Dawn, and believe it. See my brother's happy face when your baby calls him Daddy for the first time."

"Papa," she said. Her eyes were closed and a smile was on her face as she envisioned the scene."

"What?" Lucky asked.

"The baby will call him Papa."

"Okay. Papa, then." Lucky chuckled softly. "Think of Papa Nikolas' face when he has to change those stinking diapers…unless of course, he'll have the nanny do it."

"He'll do it," Dawn told him. "We're not having a nanny. We’re raising our children and no one else."

Lucky smiled. Her tone had changed and now, she saw the future. Now, she saw that she would be a part of it. He continued to massage her shoulders. A light chuckle came from him as she indicated that he should massage her lower back, too. Her sighs of satisfaction echoed in their dark, damp cocoon. He swallowed back the lump in his throat and continued to soothe her discomfort. He was silently amazed that even near labor, she affected him. He wondered when or if, he'd escape from her spell. He wondered if he would ever want to.

"That helps," she said softly, pressing her back against his strong, gentle hands. "Thank you."

"You're welcome," he said, surprised at his coherent response. Another pain swept over her and she pressed her head against his chest. His cheek rested against her damp forehead and he held her, giving her his hands so that she could grip them to relieve her pain and frustration. As the pain subsided and she released his hands, he said, "How much longer before the baby comes?"

"We're good until my water breaks," she said. She sat up straight as Lucky moved behind her. He balled up his shirt and stuck it out in the rain. When the shirt was saturated to his satisfaction, he squeezed it to wring out the excess water and then he pressed the cool, damp material against her hot, skin. She smiled. "Thanks again."

"No problem," he mumbled. "So, what happens when your water breaks? Will I know?"

"Yeah," she said, laughing softly. "There's no question about that."

"I wish I knew what to do. I'm sorry about all of this. You shouldn't be going through this, you know. Having your baby far away from your family and friends…without Nikolas… It's not right. You should be at GH with your doc on standby, surrounded by flowers and cards and stuff. Not here… Not like this. I'm so sorry for what my father did, Dawn. I can't tell you enough or…" He lost his ability to speak as the unfairness of their circumstances washed over him. Guilt for Luke's actions and for his continual love for her caused him to shudder. Overwhelmed, his head fell backwards against the dirt wall and he buried the heel of his hands against his closed eyes.

Lucky's turmoil was not lost on Dawn. Tears sprang to her eyes in response to their circumstances and to his anguish. Slowly, she turned until she faced him. She raised her hand to touch his cheek, but then dropped it. It landed it on his chest and she didn't move it. The heavy beating of his heart told her things that she knew that he would dare not say again. The need to be completely honest with him overpowered her and she opened her mouth to speak. "Lucky, there's something I want you to know."

Not ready to face her and see the resentment that he knew would be in her eyes, he simply nodded his head. He could hear her out, but he wasn't ready for anything more.

"I lied to you before."

"So, you're not in labor?" he asked, using humor to ease his tension.

She didn't laugh. "No, I am in labor. I'm talking about before we came to this place. When we were still in Port Charles…on my birthday. You asked me if there were no other factors if we would have had a chance. I told you maybe. I lied-"

"Dawn, don't," he groaned, shaking his head. "Please," he begged, his voice a hoarse whisper.

"I have to!" she cried. "I want to believe that we're gonna make it out of here…all of us…but if we don't, I have to tell you the truth! Please, Lucky, just hear me out. If there was no Nikolas, I could see us…together."

"But, there is a Nikolas and he loves you very much…"

"Yes," she said, lifting her hand from his chest to gently wipe away the tears that trickled down his cheeks. "And, I love him very much, too. I'll always love him. I love you, too, but it's not the way you…deserve. It's not as strong as what I feel for him. I'm attracted to you a-and I can feel it, but… God, Lucky, when Nikky walks into a room…everything inside me… I feel like I explode inside. In the dream…when he touched me…it was so real. I know you don't believe it, but Nikolas and I were together and he's here with me now. That's the kind of love that I want for you, and I can't give you that. I can only give it to him."

"I know that," he whispered through ragged breath. "Don't you think I know that?"

He moved until he was no longer behind her. He rose to his feet and stood in the opening. The rain poured down and he longed for it to wash away his pain. He wanted to run out in it and never look back. He wanted to cut out the piece of his heart that despite her confession still ached for her, the piece that would take any kind of the love that she could give him. He wanted to stop crying. He wanted so many things, but none of them were realized. He wrapped his arms around himself, listening as she rose to her feet behind him and came to stand near him.

"I-I didn't say that to hurt you," she said. "I just wanted you to understand." Her eyes clouded with tears as his back remained rigid and he distanced himself from her. "I-I'm so s-sorry for hurting you. Please, forgive me."

Her sadness melted him. He turned to face her. He drew her against him, burying his face in her neck as she wrapped her arms around him. "I forgive you. I understand, and it still hurts… But, I don't blame you."

"Will you still be my friend?" she asked him. Inside her, the pain had intensified, but she would face that later.

"I'll always be your friend." He raised his head to look at her. He ached to brush his lips across hers, but he resisted. Instead, he planted a soft kiss against her full cheek, memorizing the feel of her supple skin underneath his lips before he raised his head again.

Dawn didn't have a moment to react to his embrace. Another wave overtook her, followed by wetness. She clutched his hands and very nearly screamed, "My water just broke."


After finding the house empty, Alex and Dara decided to follow Stefan to Helena's yacht. The rain had made their journey difficult, but after it had subsided, they easily covered the distance. What they found on the upper deck, the surprised them.

"What the hell?" Alex mumbled as he ran towards Tommy. Dara was close behind him and he reached blindly for her hand. He looked from the teenager and the gun he held in his hand to the five men who were tied up on the floor beside him. "Did you do that?"

Tommy shrugged. "In a way." He turned away from them and looked back over the railing. His stare was intent and with his free hand, he moved the floodlight back and forth across the water.

"What are you looking for?" Dara asked, moving to stand beside him. She looked down over the railing. "What's down there?"

Tommy's breath caught in his throat. He swallowed hard and looked into Dara's inquisitive brown eyes. "Helena pulled your mother over the side. Mr. Cassadine jumped in after them."

"MAMA!!" Dara screamed. She climbed onto the railing, but Alex quickly moved to pull her down. She fought him. With tears in her eyes, she screamed, "MAMA!!!"

"Dara, NO!" Alex said, holding her arms down, he pulled her against him. "You can't jump in there after her. Tommy, how long have they been in there?"

He shrugged again. The events had happened so quickly that time no longer had any real value to him. "I don't know. Long enough for these guys to show up and then back down when they saw the .38. It's been awhile, but I can't tell you how long."

"What happened exactly?" Alex asked. His arms still encircled Dara, who had calmed down.

Dara pulled away from him. "Who cares what happened?" she cried. "How are we gonna get them out? My mother's not the best swimmer. She could dr-drown if we don't do something, Alex!!"

"Did you call anyone? The Coast Guard?"

"I couldn't get through," Tommy said, his voice was filled with sympathy and apologies.

"We can try again," Alex told him.

"That won't be necessary."

Three heads turned at the sound of Stefan's quiet, breathless voice. He was soaked from head to toe, and so was Carrie. Stefan half-carried her as they stumbled towards their family and friends.

"Mama!" Dara screamed in relief as she ran towards her mother.

"Dara," Carrie responded before a series of coughs overtook her. "I need to sit," she murmured as soon as she was able to speak. Dara helped her lower herself to the wooden floorboards. Smiles of gratitude were on the women's faces as Alex handed blankets to Carrie and Stefan.

"I'm so glad you're okay," Dara said, tears streaming down her face.

"Just barely," Carrie choked out. The salty water had rubbed her throat raw and speech was difficult.

"Take your time, Carlotta," Stefan advised. He sat on the other side of Carrie and was more preoccupied with warming her up than himself. He secured the blanket around her and vigorously rubbed her arms and shoulders. "Just relax and take your time."

"I'm okay now," she said, leaning against him. She was exhausted, but alive.

"What happened?" Dara asked, reaching for her mother's hand and holding it tightly. "Tommy said that Helena pulled you over the side."

Carrie nodded. "She did, but Stefan saved my life. He jumped in after me. I would have drowned if it hadn't been for him." Her other hand reached for his. He gave it to her, relieved that she was alive.

"Saying thank you is so inadequate," Dara said, her eyes on Stefan. "But, I don't know what else to say. Thank you for saving my mother. Thank you."

Touched by the sincerity in her voice, Stefan simply smiled at her.

"What happened to your mother?" Tommy asked, breaking the spell of the moment. He had gladly handed the gun over to Alex and now stood in front of the wet couple.

Stefan shook his head. "She's gone. When I jumped in, I only saw Carlotta… My mother…"

His voice broke and his eyes displayed his anguish. Carrie squeezed his hand. "It's okay to be upset. She's your mother. I'm sorry you lost her."

Stefan's eyes held Carrie's as he said, "There's no need for sympathy nor apologies. I never had a mother. She's always been lost to me."

There was silence on the boat as everyone digested Stefan's words. None of them could negate the truth in what he had said. But the peace officer in Alex wasn't ready to be abated. He quietly asked, "Would you like for me to contact the Coast Guard to begin a search for her?"

"There's no need. With the rain and the choppy waves, she's gone. There's no possibility of her survival."


"When you're weary, feeling small
When tears are in your eyes,
I will dry them all (all)
I'm on your side, oh, when times get rough
And friends just can't be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down…"

The soft voice carried through the tunnel, guiding Nikolas' footsteps. The song was his beacon and he couldn't arrive at his destination fast enough.

Dawn had asked Lucky to sing to her and he had. Eagerness to provide her with comfort and to calm her, he had sung the first song that had come to mind. The lyrics had soothed her at first, but now that the pains came more frequently and with increasing intensity, he became frightened. He didn't know what to do for her. The baby was early. Even if the baby had arrived closer to the due date, he would have still been at a lost. But, the baby was early! He'd never forgive himself if something happened to either of them. God, help him, but he was terrified.

"I feel another one," she panted. The veins in her neck stood out as she bit back a scream. As the pain reached its peak, she wailed, "Oh, God, Nikky where are you?!"

Just as she screamed his name, Nikolas appeared. "Sweetheart, I'm here."

She released Lucky's hands and reached out for Nikolas. Lucky moved aside as his brother knelt beside his wife. Nikolas' eyes swept over Dawn, taking in everything at once. "Oh, my God, you're in labor."

Tears streamed from the corners of her eyes. She almost found herself incapable of speech, but Nikolas was there! He was really there. She freed one hand to touch him…his hair, nose, lips, arms… She realized that he wasn't a dream, but real. "Oh, Nikky, you're really here."

"Yes," he breathed. He needed to reassure himself, too, so he crushed her to him. His body trembled as he held her. "Oh, Dawn, I love you so much. I promise that I'll never let you out of my sight again. Never."

"I love you, too-" The rest of her reply was lost as excruciating pain overwhelmed her. This time, she couldn't bite it down. She released a bloodcurdling scream which frightened all three of them.

Lucky looked at his older brother, hoping that with all of his worldliness, he'd know what to do. "Dawn said you guys took Lamaze. What should we do for her?"

Speechless, Nikolas shook his head. Dawn was in pain and he could do nothing to help her. He'd never felt so useless in his entire life. He blinked away tears of fear and frustration and forced himself to think.

"Just remember your promise," Dawn said, looking at Lucky. "Take care of both of them."

"What is she talking about?" Nikolas questioned. In the back of his mind, he heard Dr. Newman's voice and he was trying desperately to hear her words. They would help Dawn. They had to.

"Nothing, man-"

"Lucky!" Dawn said through gritted teeth. "Promise me you will! You have to!"

"I will alright, but dammit, don't you give me a reason to have to live up to it!" he screamed back her. "Dammit, Dawn!"

"Stop yelling at her!" Nikolas demanded, screaming at the top of his voice. He took a deep breath and looked at both of them. He then moved his eyes to look into Dawn's nearly black, brown eyes. "Sweetheart, we're gonna have to be strong and think. Dr. Newman never went into detail about what we're supposed to do. She said breathe and I'm drawing a blank after that. So, we're gonna have to rely on instinct. Okay? We can do this. I'm not losing you or our baby. We're together now. We can survive anything, including childbirth. Do you hear me? For once, are you listening to me?"

"I always listen to you," she panted as another pain came and went. "You and Lucky have to get me ready. You have to have things ready for the baby. Everything has to be sterilized! You have to sterilize everything, Nikky! Please!"

"I'll try to, Dawn," Nikolas promised. She was nearly hysterical and explaining to her that sterilization was impossible wasn't worth the torment it would case her. "Lay down, sweetheart," he said as he moved to kneel between her bent knees. Her dress covered her and he easily removed her soaked underwear. Nikolas sensed his brother's embarrassment at the intimacy of his task and asked, "Do you have another blanket? Maybe two or three?"

"I have another one. I'll be right back."

As Lucky went about his task, Nikolas continued to help his wife as much as he could. He spoke to her in soothing tones as he tried to determine just how close their child was to being born. He encountered what he thought was a slick, damp head. He smiled as his heart raced. "I can feel the baby's head."

"Oh, God," Lucky groaned behind him. With the blanket in his hand, he went back towards the couple. A shuffling noise startled him and before he could investigate, the figure appeared.

Dawn reacted first with a vicious scream. "NO! Get away!! Nikolas, make her leave! She tried to hurt our baby!"

Nikolas' jaw clenched and he rose to stand. He brushed past Lucky to go to Francesca. Frightened, she raised her hands and backed away. "I-I'm s-sorry. I-I want to help now. Please." She removed Dawn's ring from her finger and thrust it at Nikolas. "I-I just want to help."

"No!" Dawn screamed. "She wants our baby! Nikky, please!"

Francesca shook her head. "No, I don't. H-Honest. Don’t nobody even know I'm down here. They don't even know about this place, so y-you're safe. I won't tell. Th-They're all out there searching still and I sn-snuck down here. Dawn, I won't give your baby to them. I swear I won't. Don't you need my help?"

Nikolas' fist closed over Dawn's precious ring. He looked at the frightened young girl before him and then thought of his wife. No one said a word until Dawn released another pain-induced scream. He ran back to Dawn and knelt beside her again. Using Lucky's damp shirt, he wiped her forehead as he screamed to Francesca, "Help us!"

Lucky handed Francesca a bottle of water and she washed her hands before moving to Dawn.

Crying, Dawn whispered, "No, Nikky. Don't let her touch the baby."

"Ssh, sweetheart," he cooed. "She won't take our child away. I won't let her. Just listen to her, okay. Lucky and I are here. Between the two of us, Francesca would put herself in great risk if she even thought of taking our child away from us. Francesca realizes this, don't you? Tell my wife that you understand."

Under the glare of Nikolas hard, brown eyes, Francesca nodded. "I-I understand, Dawn. I just want to help. That's all."


And, that's exactly what she did. As dawn's early light shone outside, a baby was born. Francesca happily handed the newborn to his mother. Through tears, Dawn looked at her son. Crying, she said, "He looks just like you. Everything…eyes, nose, and mouth… Look, Nikky, we have a son."

Nikolas rested his forehead against Dawn's. He sniffled as he looked at their son. "He's incredible," he hoarsely whispered. The tiny baby moved in Dawn's arms and released a loud wail. Nikolas laughed softly and gently caressed his son's cheek. "Ssh, now. Your mother and I are here."

Content to remain in the background, Lucky smiled. He had a nephew…a loud nephew. Seeing the love that surrounded the small family rendered Lucky speechless for a moment. The ability returned when Francesca came towards him. "Thank you," he said as she moved to leave.

Unsure of what to say, she nodded. When she moved to leave again, Lucky stopped her.

"He's okay, right? Whatever it was Ginnie gave Dawn won't…hurt him in the long run, right?" His voice was as hard as his gaze as he looked at her.

"No," Francesca said, shaking her head. "It won't hurt him. It was supposed to make him sleep."

"Sleep?" Lucky repeated, keeping his voice low so as not to disturb his brother's family. "Why make him sleep?"

Ashamed, she lowered her eyes to the floor. "To make her think he was d-dead."

Lucky muttered an expletive that caused the girl to tremble. Once he was able to speak without releasing too much of his rage, he said, "Why make her think that?"

"Mrs. Cassadine wanted the baby," she said quietly. Slowly, she raised her eyes to Lucky's. "I-I'm sorry for what they did. I'm sorry for helping and for taking the ring, too. I gotta go back now, but I won't tell them where ya'll are."

"Yeah, yeah," Lucky said, releasing a deep sigh. "Get away from her Francesca," he advised as the girl walked away. "It's too late for Ginnie, but not you. Leave her as soon as you can."

She nodded once and then she was gone. Lucky turned away. A grin spread across his face as Nikolas walked towards him. In his arms was the tiniest person that Lucky had ever seen since Lulu was a baby. "He's incredible. It's a shame that he doesn't look more like his mother, though."

"In time," Nikolas said. "Would you like to hold him? Be careful of his head. You have to support it and-"

"I've been around my share of babes," Lucky told him, taking the child from his brother's arms. The baby blinked and then yawned. "Hi, there. I'm your uncle." Lucky smiled at the baby and then he looked at the beaming parents. "So, what's his name? Or should I-"

"No," Dawn and Nikolas said, simultaneously.

"Well?" Lucky questioned.

"His name is-"

"Sweetheart, please don't," Nikolas said. "Let's not name him after me, okay?"

"I wasn't planning to," she told him. She kissed his cheek that was dark with stubble. Unable to resist, she rubbed her cheek against his, elated at being able to touch him again. She then said, "I'd like to name him after the three of us, plus another."

Nikolas and Lucky rolled their eyes. "Let's hear it."

Lucky went to her and carefully placed her child inside her waiting arms. Her shining brown eyes danced with love as she said, "Dominik Lorenzo Stefanovich Cassadine. We could call him Dom for short. Dom kinda sounds like Dawn, and the last part is definitely you, Nikky. What do you think?"

"Well, it sounds okay," Lucky said. He looked at Nikolas.

"Let's see what he says," Nikolas suggested. He extended his finger to his son, who happily took it. "One squeeze if Dominik Lorenzo Stefanovich Cassadine suits you. No squeeze if it doesn't. What will it be?"

"Well?" Dawn questioned as Nikolas removed his finger and remained quiet. "Nikolas!"

He laughed. He leaned forward and rubbed his nose against Dawn's. She gasped and he took the opportunity to kiss her as thoroughly as he dared considering their audience. The kiss left them both breathless and thankful for each other and their child. He whispered softly in her ear, "Dom likes his name very much."

"I knew he would," she said with a triumphant smirk.

Chapter 137

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Dawn Cassadine, Carrie Jensen & Francesca Mathews ©1998 niklovr
All Rights Reserved