Chapter Five

~ Guardian Angels ~

"I can't believe she was last seen two days ago."

"Why did your mother wait so long to contact you?" Alex asked. "The first twenty-four hours are crucial in a missing person investigation."

"I don't know," Dara sighed as she sunk onto her cream colored sofa to sit beside him. "She said that she wanted to give Dawn some time to cool off. She never thought Dawn was serious about leaving."

"Does your sister have a habit of unstable behavior or of running away? I asked your mother, but she began to cry."

"Dawn isn't unstable. She's opinionated and blunt, but she's all there. To be honest, she and our dad have never really gotten along, but Dawn has never pulled a stunt like this. She's the type who doesn't really hold onto her anger. She usually blows things off."

Alex made a mental note of that information. He didn't want to upset Dara tonight, but as soon as her parents came to town, he intended to have a discussion with her father. From the things Carrie had told him over the phone, something didn't add up. According to Carrie, father and daughter had fought over a trivial matter and Dawn split.

Now according to Dara, Dawn's relationship with their dad had always been tumultuous, but never to the point of running away. The parents Jensen were hiding something. Something they didn't want Dara to know. Garcia was certain of that.

"So, what's next?" Dara asked.

"First, we'll find out where she placed that call to you. My guess is a pay phone. We just have to find which one. We'll get her picture out there, too."

"Thanks, Alex. I can't tell you how much I appreciate this," she said.

"You don't have to thank me," he said as he stood up to leave.

Dara stood, as well, and shook her head. "Of all the stupid things" she muttered.

"Excuse me."

"If I had taken my car in last week when that light came on, I would have been home when she called. But no. I had to wait until it broke down. My sister was trying to contact me and I was stranded at a damn traffic light."

"Dara, you can't blame yourself. You had no way of knowing that she had run away. Her leaving was not your fault."

Dara shook her head in denial.

Alex lifted her chin so that he could see her eyes. "It's not your fault. I plan to do everything I can to find her. Trust me."

"She's my baby sister. If something's happened to her…"

As her voice broke, Alex pulled her into his arms and she clung to him. Her head barely made it to the bottom of his chin and the rest of her was pressed against him. As he felt her sobs subside, he promised himself that he would bring Dawn back to her. Alive.

"I'm sorry about that," she said as she pulled away. Normally, she would rather die than break down in front of anyone, but somehow, it felt okay in front of Alex. He was so reassuring and comforting. She knew that he meant what he said. He'd do everything to find her sister. Dara hoped that he would find her before it was too late.

"You haven't answered my question."

"I was about to introduce you. Uncle, this is Dawn. Dawn, this is my uncle, Stefan Cassadine," Nikolas replied.

Dawn released Nikolas' hand and held hers out to Stefan, who after the briefest pause, accepted it and shook it. He found that her grip was strong and purposeful, as was his.

"What brings you to our home at this time of night?" Stefan asked.

"She's here because I invited her," Nikolas answered before Dawn could open her mouth.

"You invite a young woman to Wyndemere at this time of night? A young woman, I've never seen or heard you speak of before."

"Uncle, she's a friend of mine from Port Charles High. She needed somewhere to stay for the night, and so I invited her here. We have plenty of room. Surely, you don't object," Nikolas replied.

"What about your parents? Are they not concerned that their young daughter is at the home of a young man after mid-night?"

"Her parents are away visiting relatives."

"Nikolas, please. Is she incapable of speech? You haven't given her a chance to utter a word, save for 'Nickie' since you've been on the island," Stefan said as he gave Dawn a long, hard look. He knew that something was amiss between his nephew and this girl. Nikolas had never exhibited such rude behavior before.

Dawn swallowed hard. She needed a place to stay for the night, but she wasn't sure Wyndemere was that place. Nickie was a sweetheart without a doubt, but his uncle was a piece of work. His piercing stare scared her, as well as his questions. She glanced at Nikolas. He obviously wanted her to stay, and for some reason, she felt safe with this stranger who saved her from the night. She decided to follow Nikolas' lead.

"My parents are out of town, Mr. Cassadine. Someone broke into our home, and I was afraid to stay there alone. Nikolas offered me a room for the night, and I gratefully accepted. If this is a problem, I can go elsewhere," she answered, her eyes never wavering from Stefan's.

Nikolas almost couldn't believe what he was hearing. Dawn was incredible. Gone was the teenager who wanted to jam. Whatever that meant... In the short time they'd been together, he was able to interpret her body language. He was certain she was afraid, yet, she spoke to his uncle without fear. He was in awe.

"No, that won't be necessary. You may spend the night here," Stefan replied. He knew that she and Nikolas were lying, but like his nephew, he couldn’t turn her away. There was something about her that reminded him of someone else.

Both, Nikolas and Dawn, breathed sighs of relief which didn't go unnoticed by the senior Cassadine. They were hiding something. He was sure of it.

"I'll have Mrs. Landsbury make up the guestroom in the East Wing," Stefan said as he opened the front door.

"Uncle, there's no need to wake her at this hour. Dawn and I are more than capable of readying the guestroom for her."

"Well, if you're sure. Good-night to you both. I'll be in the library if you should need me." With that said, Stefan left the teenagers alone.

"You do know how to make up a guestroom, correct?" Nikolas asked with a smile.

"Oh, Nickie," Dawn laughed somewhat nervously.

Chapter Six