~...born of the one love...~
Darkness surrounded him. An infinite sea of black stretched far and wide. Dominik felt unseen forces closing in around him, swallowing him whole. He fought for some semblance of control. Anything to make him recover his footing. His hands reached but encountered nothing. He tried opening his eyes, but even his eyelids failed to obey. Defeated, he slumped lower into the abyss. Then, he heard his mother’s voice.
"Where he is?" The race against time in Nikolas's Jaguar left Dawn breathless. Her nerves were already rattled based on the circumstances. Getting the runaround from the General Hospital staff would not cut it.
"I need to see my son. Now!"
"Dr. Scanlon is running tests on him—"
"How much longer?" Nikolas asked. He spoke in the low, no nonsense tone that Dawn knew so well. His patience stretched only so far.
"What's wrong with him?" Fear threatened to choke Dawn. She'd come close to losing their firstborn too many times to pretend this was a simple occurrence. Dominik was healthy and strong. Far too physically fit to collapse. Unless—No, she refused to go down that road.
"His symptoms resemble the flu, but we can't be certain of that at this time," the nurse said. "Has he been out of the country recently?"
"We were in Greece..."
Nikolas squeezed her hand. "That was almost a year ago. He hasn't been anywhere recently."
"He visited Ciarda at her school."
"That's only a few miles away," he said.
"Does he have any allergies?"
"No," Dawn said. More questions followed. She and Nikolas took turns answering them. At the close of the interrogation, she glanced at the overhead clock. They were heading closer to the other side of midnight. Her body shook from exhaustion. Insomnia was playing a vicious game with her. But there was no way she'd sleep tonight. She leaned heavily on Nikolas, who led them toward a private waiting room.
As he closed the door, she sunk onto plush confines of the sofa. "I hate this."
"So do I." He joined her and sat almost uncomfortably close.
If she had the strength, she'd move away for self-protection. With her defenses low, resisting him would be nearly impossible. Reconciliation at a time like this was absurd but not improbable. Then, he hugged her to his chest. Warmth flooded her from head to toe. The familiar hard planes of his body joined with his heady masculine scent to soothe and comfort her. Thoughts of running away evaporated into the breeze of the air conditioner unit.
"How long will the tests take?" she asked. "I need to see him."
"We both do." He pressed a chaste kiss to her temple. "You keep asking the same question. I wish I knew the answer."
"Dominik had breakfast with me not too long ago. He looked tired. I should have done something. Made him rest and slow down."
"Don't blame yourself," he said gently. "I've been pushing him. He's the heir and has so much to learn. I should have given him a little more freedom."
"Dear God, would you listen to us?" She pulled away and sat up. "We sound like he's at death's door. It could be the flu!"
"Whatever it is," Nikolas said with finality, "we won't lose him. I won't allow it."
"Alanna, slow down," Ciarda mumbled, coming out of a dead sleep. "Do you know what time it is?"
"I know it's late. I'm sorry, but I had to talk to you."
"What is it?" Ciarda asked. She ripped her comforter from the bed and wrapped it around herself. Next came her cell phone from its charger. Complete with her supplies, she trudged into the hallway and slunk to the floor. The sudden glare of the overhead lights stung her eyes. She blinked several times before finally closing her eyes. "What happened? Please tell me Mom and Dad are okay."
"They are," her sister said. "We just came back from the hospital—"
"What?" Ciarda's eyes flew open. The bright lights still stung, but she no longer cared. "Who's in the hospital? Abuelo or Grandma Simone?"
"Neither!" Alanna's voice shook with emotion. "It's Dominik. We were talking on the phone and he just collapsed. It's awful, Ciarda. The doctors don't know what's wrong with him."
A cold knot formed in her stomach. "What do you mean they don't know? Did Grandma look at him?"
"She's a pediatrician." Alanna inhaled a shallow breath. "I'm scared."
"Why?" Anxiety nagged at Ciarda. She tried to push it away, but that was easier thought than done. Alanna was the strong twin. Ciarda was more prone to emotional outbursts. Yet the fear in her sister's voice could not be ignored. If Alanna was this shook up, something was horribly wrong.
"They let his parents in to see him, but they wouldn't let them stay long. When they left his room... I've never seen them look so lost. Daddy talked to them, but I couldn't hear what they said. Actually, I didn't even try. Whatever is wrong with him is bad. I just know it."
Ciarda's knees wobbled as she stood. The wall provided solid support until she trusted her balance. She never imagined returning home on these circumstances, but she couldn't stay a moment longer. "I'm coming home."
"I hoped you'd say that." Alanna sniffled. "I'll tell Daddy—"
"No, Seth has a car. I'll ask him." Ciarda ended the call a few minutes later. When she returned to her room, she found the light on and Buffy sitting up in bed.
"What's wrong? I could hear you in the hall."
"Dominik is in the hospital." She tossed her comforter onto the twin bed and began gathering her stuff. "I need to go home."
"How are you going?" Buffy reached for the phone. "Want me to call Seth?"
Thirty minutes later, Ciarda was dressed and Seth stood at the door. A scowl darkened his features. She guessed he disliked being awakened in the middle of the night. He grabbed her bag. They headed downstairs to his car.
"I'm sorry, Seth—"
"It's not a problem." His mouth twisted into a half smile. "Buffy said someone was sick."
"Yeah," she said, as he unlocked the passenger door. "My sister called. She's pretty upset."
"Oh, yeah?" He dropped her bag onto the front seat. "Who is it?" His tone held concern, but something Ciarda couldn't put her finger on lingered just below the surface. "Family? Your parents?"
"No, almost like family," she said. "It's Dominik."
"Cassadine?" The word unleashed from his mouth like a curse.
His angry tone chilled her to the bone. She reared back in surprise. His hand shot out, squeezing into her shoulder with a powerful grip.
"Ouch! Seth, you're hurting me. Let go—"
"You called me in the middle of the night to drive you home for him? You're running to him like he's your lover! Is he?" He threw her to the hard, cold pavement. When she didn't answer fast enough, he kicked her legs. "Dammit! Answer me! Is that why you ran off with him the last time?"
"No!" She scrambled to her feet, never once taking her eyes off him. "What's wrong with you? He's my friend. We grew up together."
"Yeah, right. That's a load of shit and you know it."
Fear flashed through her. "Why are you acting this way?"
"So, you're questioning me now. I don't think so. I ask the questions. You answer them." He advanced toward her and then stopped abruptly, spinning around to grab her bag from the car. He flung the luggage at her, just missing her by mere inches. "Fuck this. Get your own ride to Port Charles. No girl plays me for a sucker."
He slammed into his car and roared off. Ciarda clutched the bag to her chest, holding it as if it was a lifeline. Disbelief left her frozen. Seth's behavior came from nowhere. How? Why? Minutes passed before the shock wore off. Then, she remembered Alanna's call and Dominik's situation. She didn't have time to worry about Seth. Getting home took precedence. She fished her cell phone from the front pocket of her jeans and called a cab, which took her to the train station. She arrived in time for the next train to Port Charles.
"Do you know what time it is?" the angry voice questioned.
Robin refused to be intimidated. "Yes, I'm looking at my watch as we speak."
"Well? This had better be good. I was...busy."
Robin rolled her eyes. She could imagine what that entailed. "It's excellent. Everything is moving along according to schedule. I couldn't hope for better results."
"So he's succumbed?"
"Wonderful!" Childlike glee replaced the earlier irritation. "Now, we can begin the next phase."
Robin smiled. "I was thinking the same thing."
"Get to it. You have a lot of work to do, and not a great deal of time to do it."
[Song Credit: "Train Wreck" is from Sarah McLachlan's CD, Afterglow]