Life After Dark
Chapter 26

Dawn's fingers tightened around Nikolas'. On the ride over, they had decided to tell their families about the marriage first. Depending on their reaction, they would tell them about the baby. But now, as all eyes glared at them, she didn’t want to tell them anything. What she wanted to do was turn and run.

Nikolas sensed her apprehension and he lightly caressed the back of her hand with his thumb. He was a little nervous about facing their families sooner than they had anticipated, but he knew that he could handle it. He also knew, whether Dawn realized it or not, she could handle it, too.

"Where the hell have you been?" Dara asked. "Mama has been worried sick about you!"

"I…" Dawn began.

"Nikolas, where were you? Antonio said that you were here last night, but I can see now, that you were not. Where have you been all night?" Stefan asked.

"Antonio? How dare you? What gives you the right to have me followed?" Nikolas asked, his brown eyes flashing with anger.

"I dare because I am your regent and until you are of age-"

"Uncle, I AM of age. I'll be eighteen in less than a month! I don't need nor want you or anyone else following me around. I have told you before that I am not a child!"

"However your actions betray you. We will NOT discuss this here any further. This is a private matter and-"

"And private matters are for family only. Is that what you were about to say?" Nikolas asked.

"Nikolas…" Stefan said warningly.

"Well, Uncle, there is no need for us to make the long journey back to Wyndemere to discuss our…private matters," Nikolas said. He smiled faintly when he felt Dawn give him a small squeeze which comforted him and gave him the strength of Hercules.

"What do you mean?" Stefan asked as he moved towards Nikolas and Dawn.

His eyes narrowed to slits when he saw the medallion as it peeked through the opening of Dawn's denim work shirt. Without thinking, he raised his hand to touch the medallion, but quickly dropped it when he saw Dawn flinch.

Nikolas felt Dawn's reaction and looked questioningly at her. He released her hand to wrap his arms around her shoulders.

"What is the meaning of this?" Stefan asked quietly as he took a step back from the young couple. His eyes bored into them for the answers.

"What is the meaning of what?" Dara asked, moving away from Alex to stand before the couple.

"Of this," Dawn said as she lifted the medallion from her chest so that everyone could see it. She was embarrassed about her reaction to Stefan a few moments before, but she was determined not to let it show. In order for their families to accept what they were about to tell them, she had to be as strong as Nikolas and she had to show it, too.

"What's that?" Dara asked, moving to take a better look at it.

"It's the Cassadine Medallion," Dawn and Stefan said simultaneously.

Dara's eyes narrowed and for a brief second she looked at Stefan whose gaze was locked on the couple. She then turned her attention back to her sister. "Why do you have it?"

"Because I'm a Cassadine now, too," Dawn said as she wrapped her arm around Nikolas' waist.

"You're a WHAT?" Dara asked, in outrage.

"You heard me. I'm a Cassadine now, too. Nikolas and I are married."

Carrie who had remained silent throughout the initial part of the conversation realized that the pamphlet she found in Dawn's bedroom wasn't just idle reading. Her baby girl was having a baby. Carrie felt as if the wind had been knocked out of her as she listened to Dawn's words, but even that didn't bother as much as Dawn's reaction to Stefan. Dawn flinched as if she thought he meant to strike her. Now more than ever before, Carrie had to know exactly what happened between her daughter and her husband and whether or not Carrie had been blind to more than what she had previously thought.

"Dawn, come here," Carrie said, her voice strong with authority.

"Mama! What are you doing?" Dara cried. "Didn’t you hear what she just said? This is not the time to coddle her."

"Dawn," Carrie said as she extended her hand toward her youngest daughter.

Nikolas looked at Dawn as she moved to go up the stairs to her mother. He softly asked, "Want me to come with you?"

Dawn shook her head and followed her mother's bidding. As she reached her mother, she heard Dara say, "You got her pregnant, didn't you?"


"Have a seat," Carrie said as they entered her bedroom. The beginning of the inquisition had just started as Carrie closed the door to shut it out. The time would come for her and Dawn to take part in that, but the time was not now. Now was the time for Carrie to get a few answers to questions she should have asked a long time ago.

Dawn sat on her mother's bed and watched her with apprehensive eyes as she moved to sit beside her. She had no idea of what was about to happen, but she knew that she could face it.

Carrie turned so that she was facing Dawn as she said, "I want to talk to you about what happened downstairs."

"Okay," Dawn said with a slight frown. Of course, she wanted to talk about what had just happened. What other reason could there be, she wondered, but then she remembered. The flinch. Her eyes clouded over with embarrassment and old hurt as she looked away from her mother.

"Honey, what happened down there? Why did you flinch like that?" Carrie asked as she moved to push a stray braid from her daughter's face.

Dawn shrugged and shook her head.

"Dawn, look at me," Carrie said softly. When Dawn raised her eyes to hers, Carrie was taken aback by the pain she saw in her eyes. Without another word, she knew. She knew that as well as mental abuse, her husband had physically abused their daughter, too. She felt so ashamed knowing that she had failed her daughter by being blind to what was right in front of her face. She pulled Dawn into her arms and cried softly as she said, "I'm sorry, baby. Please, forgive me. I'm so very sorry."

Dawn returned her mother's embrace and was moved to tears. She had thought she had moved past the relationship she had with her father, but in a blink of an eye it all came rushing back to her. As she and her mother held on to each other, she decided that her mother had to know the truth. Well, at least, part of the truth.

Dawn pulled away from her mother as she said, "There's nothing to forgive. It only happened once."

"The night you ran away," Carrie said softly.

Dawn nodded and sniffled as she wiped her eyes.

Carrie handed her a Kleenex from the bedside table and took one for herself. She simply held her tissue as she asked, "What happened?"

"He slapped me." Dawn cupped her cheek as she remembered the blow. Her father had always had a special knack for making her feel worthless, but the slap across her face was the final straw. Deep in her heart, she knew that if he hit her once, he'd do it again and there was no way she would give him the opportunity. So, she ran. She ran and found a love that she never thought was possible. Her fingers reached for the Cassadine Medallion, her medallion, and she was comforted.

"Why?" Carrie asked as she watched her daughter move away to place her tissue in the waste basket.

Dawn kept her back to her mother as she said, "It doesn’t matter. It's all in the past and that's where it will stay."

"I need to know!" Carrie said as she moved from the bed to stand beside Dawn.

Dawn looked intently into her mother's eyes and said, "I'm sorry, Mama, but no. I'm not going back there. Ever."


“You got her pregnant, didn’t you?”

Dara’s question burned inside of Nikolas. The accusatory tone and the glares he received from the three adults who were left in the room only strengthened his resolve and reaffirmed his belief that he and Dawn had done the best thing by getting married beforehand.

“We’re having a child, yes,” he said, as his eyes moved between Dara’s and Stefan’s. Dara looked at him with anger and disbelief while Stefan closed himself off and hid his emotions behind an expressionless gaze.

Dara’s jaw dropped. When she asked, she hoped and prayed that he would say no. Dawn was just a child herself and now, she was having one. And a Cassadine child at that. Of all the people in Port Charles, her baby sister had to meet, fall in love with and become impregnated by a nice enough young man who had the misfortune of coming from one of the most dysfunctional and possibly maniacal families in the world.

Dara’s eyes moved to Stefan and she wondered what he was thinking. He had been silent for quite some time which wasn’t like him at all. As she watched him, suddenly as if by some cosmic force, she knew exactly what he was thinking and she hoped he had enough sense not to say it. Unfortunately, that was not to be.

“Are you certain the child is yours?”

“I can’t BELIEVE you have any doubts. My sister is not the type to sleep around!” Dara said, her voice and her anger rising with each word.

Afraid that Dara may physically strike out, Alex moved to place his hands on Dara’s shoulders to soothe her and offer support. With a steady, firm voice, he said, “Of course, Cassadine is not implying that. He knows as well as anyone else just how much in love these two are.”

“I know nothing of the sort. Love!” he spat the word out. “What do they know of love? They are, but children. And now, she has gotten herself pregnant-“

Nikolas felt a coldness toward his uncle come over him when Stefan questioned the paternity of his child. Nikolas had expected objection and outrage over their decision to marry, but he had never thought his uncle would disgrace his wife in such a shameful manner. Forcing himself to remain calm and as level-headed as possible, he interrupted Stefan and said, “She didn’t ‘get herself pregnant.’ She and I love each other and from that love, we’ve created a child. Remember this, Uncle, Dawn is my wife and you will respect her. You are never to speak of her in such a manner again because if you do, I, nor my wife or child will ever see you again. Am I understood?”

Stefan blanched at Nikolas’ softly spoken threat. Nikolas was his son and the thought of being excluded from his life forever was something he could not bear. For the time being, he would abide by Nikolas’ wishes. He wouldn’t speak ill of Dawn again, but he wasn’t sure if he was ready to welcome her into their family either. As Nikolas watched him with rage-filled eyes, Stefan slowly nodded his head in acceptance of Nikolas words.

Nikolas’ body relaxed, but his eyes remained cold as he continued to glare at his uncle.

“Nikolas?” Dawn asked as she, followed by her mother, came down the staircase. The last time she had seen him this angry was after she told him about Wayne’s attack on her. She knew that something neither of them had anticipated had occurred while she was with her mother, and she only hoped that Nikolas wouldn’t be permanently scarred by it.

Nikolas moved his eyes from his uncle’s to look into Dawn’s loving brown eyes. He smiled as she came toward him and placed her hand in his and the smile extended to his eyes. “Is everything okay?”

“I’m fine. Are you?” she asked with a frown and she moved her eyes to look accusingly at Dara and Stefan. Her gaze lingered on Stefan and he stared back at her.

For a suspended moment in time, they simply faced off until Stefan’s expression softened. With an outstretched hand, he said, “Welcome.”

Dawn paused before she accepted his proffered hand. Her eyes moved to her husband’s who looked at her with love and hope. Whether or not Nikolas would admit it, she knew that his uncle was one of the most important people in his life. His acceptance of their marriage and her and Stefan’s mutual acceptance of each other meant a great deal to him. With a wary, but confident smile, she accepted his hand and said, “Thank you.”

Carrie smiled as she moved to join the group at the bottom of her staircase. Her baby girl was no longer a baby. She believed that the two were in love and would make it. And if they needed a little help, she would be there. No more turning a blind eye, Carrie decided. Now was the time for her to prove herself worthy of a relationship with her daughter. She stood before Nikolas and with open arms, she said, “Welcome to our family.”

Nikolas released Dawn’s hand and warmly embraced his mother-in-law. “Thank you,” he said.

Dara watched the hugging and the handshaking with skeptical eyes. She didn’t trust Stefan. She saw his reaction, and his doubt to the unborn child’s paternity made her angry and unwilling to believe anything he said or did. However, despite him, she was determined to be there for her little sister. She moved from the reassuring comfort of Alex’s hands on her shoulders to embrace her sister. For her ears only, she whispered, “I hope you know what you’re doing.”

Dawn whispered back, “I do. Trust me.”

“I do,” she said as she ended their hug. “But him, I don’t. Watch yourself.”

Chapter 27

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