Chapter 3

Banana in Pocket

Eight a.m.

"Always keep these handy," Jason said, handing Sonny a perfect, bruise-free banana. "Faith loves them. You have to smash them up, but you don't have to feed them to her. She can feed herself."

Sonny glanced at the smiling baby in Jason's arms. She seemed to hang onto every word her father said. Her arms waved and her legs kicked.

Jason continued with his instructions. "She's allergic to talcum powder, so always use cornstarch. This is a new container, but just in case…get cornstarch. Let's see. Um, bananas are the only things she'll eat without too much of a fuss. Dawn breast fed her, but I'm almost out of h-her milk…"

"Jase?" Sonny said as his friend came close to breaking down. Sonny took Faith, cradled her in one arm and put the other around Jason's shoulder. "Sit down. You don't have to tell me everything at once."

Jason sat on the edge of the bed. Faith reached out for him and Sonny placed her inside the circle of her father's arms. Jason kissed her forehead and received an adorable giggle for his efforts. He frowned, as if he fought for control. When he finally spoke, his voice was hoarse and edgy.

"Dawn laughs like that."

Sonny closed his hand over Jason's shoulder and squeezed. "I know this is hard. You should get some sleep. We can talk when you wake up—"

"No," he said, shaking his head. "We do this now. I don't have time to sleep. You have to know these things in order to take care of Faith. I wouldn't trust her with just anybody. I need you to do this for me, Sonny."

"I'm not saying I won't. Of course, I'll take care of her—"

"And if something happens to me, will you raise her?" Jason asked. "Will you help Dawn? Get her away from Cassadine?"

Sonny nodded. "I'll do everything I can."

Faith began to move around in Jason's arms. She landed one serious baby kick to her father's midsection. He smiled so she did it again. Then, she looked around. Jason's smile faded. Seconds later, the baby started to cry.

"She's looking for Dawn," Jason croaked. As he rocked Faith and sung softly to her, he said, "Could you leave us alone? I need to talk to her."

"Sure." Sonny left, closing the door after him.

Jason rose from the bed and walked to the window. He pushed aside the curtains. The morning sun was bright and beautiful. The pale blue sky was void of clouds. He turned Faith so that she could see the view, too. By now, her cries had subsided. Jason sensed that after he told her what was going on, she would cry again. He'd tried to reassure her and hoped that would ease her pain. Already he knew, it wouldn't.

"This is Port Charles, New York. We're not in northern California anymore. Mommy's husband found us. He took her away, but I'm gonna find her. We'll be a family again. I promise. You have to stay here with Sonny. He's my friend. He'll take good care of you. You may not see me for awhile, but I'll come back as soon as I can. But I won't come back without your mother. I love you, Faith. I love you very much."

%*%

A sudden wail rippled through the penthouse. Sonny jerked, nearly spilling coffee all over himself. He lowered the cup and saucer onto the coffee table and looked over his shoulder toward the staircase. A frown creased his brow as Keesha came stumbling down. His frown darkened to match the one she wore.

"What was that?" she asked after yawning. She was dressed for the day in black slacks and a lavender silk blouse. Her hair was pulled back and she looked classy. From looking at her, mo one would have guessed she had been out all night. "It sounded like a baby."

"Her name is Faith." Sonny rose from the sofa, went to his desk and took the morning paper before she could grab it first.

Keesha stiffened. "Your girlfriend's name is Faith?"

The strangled tone of Keesha's voice wasn't hard to miss. He glanced at her. Pain reflected briefly in her eyes. He knew why. Faith was the name of her cousin who had been killed. Justus' sister. Sonny understood the outrage of losing a loved one to violence. Nothing anyone said or did could ease the pain. And commenting on it only made things worse.

He carried the newspaper back to the sofa and sat. As he spoke, he pretended to scan the business section. "No, Faith is the name of the baby."

"Whose baby?" she asked.

"Mine," Jason announced from the staircase.

Keesha's eyes widened. Her hand flew to her mouth and faster than a speeding bullet, she raced up the staircase nearly knocking Jason down in the process.

Jason's hands protected Faith's back as he held her close. His cheeks reddened and his eyes narrowed. Sonny gave up on the newspaper. He folded it and waited.

"You didn't tell me she was here," Jason said, his tone was remarkably controlled considering how his eyes flashed with anger.

"You didn't ask." Sonny knew his remark was glib, but what else could he say? Justus needed a favor. Jason needed a favor. He wasn't about to turn either man away.

"Faith will have to stay someplace else."

Sonny fought the urge to roll his eyes. Jason loomed at the edge of the sofa. Sonny stood and held out his hands for Faith. She moved toward him and Jason grudgingly released her.

"There's no place you can take her," Sonny said, sitting and balancing the baby on his knee. "Besides, she likes it here."

"But Keesha--"

"Keesha would never harm a hair on this baby's head. She has her own demons to work through." Sonny glanced at Jason from the corner of his eye. "Her cousin was killed in an explosion last month. Justus asked that she stay here and I agreed."

"How's Justus?"

"Shaken up. He's not here. Don't ask me where he is. It's safer for all concerned that the fewer who know his whereabouts, the better."

Jason nodded. Releasing a deep sigh, he joined Sonny on the sofa. He tickled Faith's sock-covered feet and she giggled. "Keesha hates me, Sonny."

"You broke her heart," Sonny replied. "Hating comes with the territory."

"I didn't mean to."

"It was one of those things," Sonny said. "I've been there. You don't have to worry about Faith. I'll take care of her. She's safe here."

Faith gurgled and then started blowing spit bubbles. Jason smiled. She drooled in response.

"Get some sleep."

"I'll get some on the plane." Jason glanced at his watch. "The flight isn't for another couple of hours. I have to memorize everything so I can tell Dawn when I find her."

"You really think he took her to Greece?"

Jason nodded. "Wyndemere would be too easy and he knows it's the first place I'd look."

"If you need anything, you'll let me know."

"Yeah," Jason murmured, continuing to watch his daughter. She twisted and scrunched up her face. "When she does that, she wants to get down."

Sonny placed Faith on the floor. She held onto the coffee table and pulled herself up. Sonny was amazed by the feat. His amazement grew as she, holding onto the coffee table and his knees, wobbled to Jason and grinned up at him.

Jason threaded his fingers through her hair and kissed her temple. When he glanced at Sonny, tears had welled in his eyes. "I'm leaving a digital camera. If she takes her first steps before w-we get back…"

Sonny swallowed hard. His voice grated with emotion. "I'll tape it for you."

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