Chapter 45

Now Comes the Night

~...no you will not be alone...~


"Has there been any change?" Keesha stood at the kitchen window and looked out at JE playing basketball by himself. She dreaded telling her youngest son about Dominik. The Cassadines were like an extended family. She still remembered the newly married Dawn and Nikolas at her wedding to Jason. Baby Michael enjoyed Dawn's attention and the younger woman seemed to relish the chance to practice in preparation for her firstborn.

"No, Mom," Ben said quietly. "They still don't know what's wrong with him. Grandma Monica says she's never seen anything like it."

"Oh, no. I think I'll stop by and see what I can do. How are Nikolas and Dawn?"

"They're tired, frustrated and scared." He sighed. "We all are."

"You should try to get some rest—"

"I can't leave," Ben said. "Dom is my best friend. I can't leave until I know what's wrong with him."

Keesha rubbed her forehead. She hated hearing the sadness in her son's voice and knowing there was nothing she could do. That was the worst feeling of any parent. Dawn and Nikolas must be in hell, she thought. They'd already been through so much. Abductions and assassination attempts. How much could one family be expected to take?

"Don't come," he said.

"But..."

"So many people are here. It's almost eerie. No one has anything new or good to offer. It's sad. Almost like we're all saying goodbye, and if you come..." His voice caught. He left the words hanging.

She understood. "Okay, I won't. Where's Adrik?"

"He's at Wyndemere with Noelle."

"I think JE and I will go visit them."

"Okay, I'll call if there's any change."

"Sweetheart," she said, "please, take care of yourself. Right now, the only thing any of us can do is pray."

"I'm know, Mom. I'll talk to you later."

"I love you."

"I love you, too."

She hung up and headed outside. JE tossed her the ball. She caught it, but didn't try to make a basket.

"How would you like to visit Adrik today?"

"Really?" He ran to her side. "He's trying to get a new pet. Maybe he'll let me help him take care of it."

"We'll see about that." She ruffled his curls. "Go get your jacket."

As the door slammed shut after him, Jason pulled up on his motorcycle.

"This is a bad time," she said before he left the bike. "JE and I are going to visit a friend."

He placed his helmet on the seat. "Who's the friend?"

His unreadable expression unnerved her. This day was already filled with too much. If he started anything, she couldn't promise to remain neutral.

"Adrik."

He frowned. "The Cassadine kid?"

"He and JE are best friends."

Jason nodded. "I heard his brother is sick. Is it contagious?"

"Not hardly." She turned to move inside. He reached around her and put his hand on the door. "Jason, stop. I don't have time for this."

"Neither do I," he growled against her ear. "I'm coming with you."

~ ...let us hold to each other... ~

"How soon will we get the results from these tests?" Dawn rested her backside against the wall to keep from sliding onto the floor. Worry and lack of sleep left her feeling like a zombie. She didn't dare let Nikolas or anyone else know how tired she was. Besides, her exhaustion didn't matter in light of what Dominik was going through. "Can he sense what you're doing to him?"

"No," Monica Quartermaine said. "He's not aware of anything."

"He's in a coma," Nikolas stated in a strained voice. He rested his hand on the wall adjacent to Dawn's shoulder. The power of his presence engulfed her. She closed her eyes for a brief moment while he asked, "What does this mean?"

"Nothing," the doctor said. "We have to wait and see."

"Wait," Dawn said, opening her eyes. "I hate that word. I hate what it means. Why can't you diagnose him? Why is this so hard?"

Nikolas's hands dropped to her shoulders. "They're doing the best they can."

"I guess it's not their fault it's not good enough."

Monica's eyes filled with sympathy. "I wish there was something more... Believe me, we hate feeling ineffectual as much as you hate the lack of results. I know you don't want to hear this, but you both look on the brink of exhaustion. You can't do anything for Dominik if you become patients, too. I suggest that you go home and get some rest."

"They will," Stefan said.

Dawn jumped at the sound of his voice and the sight of him and her mother looking ready to battle the world for them. Tears stung her eyes. She blinked them away in time to see Noelle hurtling herself into Nikolas's arms.

"Oh, Papa! What's wrong with him?"

Dawn wanted to reach for her daughter and join their embrace, but she knew Noelle wouldn't welcome the intrusion. She looked away and found Stefan and Carlotta closely watching her. The understanding in their loving gazes were almost her undoing. She opened her mouth to reassure them that she was fine. But the words lodged in her throat. They pulled her to them, gently rubbing her back.

"We don't know, yet," Monica said, "but we are not giving up hope. Excuse me. I want to expedite the results of these tests. The answer is there. We will find it."

In the aftermath of the doctor's departure, Dawn found the strength to compose herself and ease from her parents' embrace. "Thank you for coming."

"You don't have to thank us," Carlotta said. She took Dawn's hand and reached for Nikolas's. "We know that Tommy is looking for Matt and Ellen. Has he had any luck?"

"Not so far," Nikolas said.

"Can I see Dominik?" Noelle asked.

"Yes, but only for a little while," he said. "You'll have to change into the hospital's sterilized uniforms. I'll take you to the nurses' station."

"I'll take her." Carlotta took her granddaughter's hand. "We can visit him together."

"Go home," Stefan said without preamble. "A car is waiting for you. It will take you to the launch."

Nikolas shook his head. "I can't leave. Dawn should get some rest. I'll be fine."

"Not unless you go home, too," Stefan said. "I will not take no for an answer. You are both leaving. Now."

"Father—"

"Neither of you," Stefan said, cutting Dawn off, "is in any condition to help Dominik. Adrik is as worried about you as he is about his brother. Go home. Reassure him and get the rest that you both desperately need. Your mother and I will be here. Mrs. Landsbury is preparing a tea that should help you rest comfortably."

"There's no room for argument." Nikolas placed his hand at the small of Dawn's back and propelled them both forward.

"Call us at the slightest change," she said, looking over her shoulder to lock her eyes on Stefan's. "We must know the moment there's any change in his condition. Father, promise me."

"I promise." He gave them a faint smile. "Now, go."

~...feel it fading away...~

Simone watched as Sonny took Ben onto the visitor's patio. For the last hour, the two had been huddled together. Every time she drew near, their conversation halted. Later when she had Sonny all to herself, she planned to get to the bottom of their secrecy. She had no doubt that their mystery pertained to Ciarda. Her granddaughter had been rather distant upon her return to Port Charles. At first, Simone thought Ciarda's concern for Dominik kept her aloof. Now, Simone wasn't so sure.

"Simone!"

She halted at the sound of Tom's voice. Why now? This was not the day for any more drama from him. The day was already filled with enough tension.

"This is not the right time," she said.

"I'm not here about us—"

"There is no us," she quickly stated.

He blushed. "That didn't come out right. I meant that I'm here to help."

"Help with what?"

He jutted his chin toward the Cassadines. "I heard about Stefan's grandson. I know that our granddaughters are close to him. I'd like to do what I can..."

"Which is what?" She frowned. This was just another attempt to insinuate himself back into their lives. She was so tired of his games. "Look, Tom, there's really nothing you can do. You're a psychiatrist and that's the last thing Dominik needs."

"His family... I can imagine what they're going through—"

"No, you can't. You abandoned your son, so how can you possibly put yourself in their place? Their love has always surrounded Dominik and the Cassadines extended their love to Tommy." Her voice caught as she thought of her and Tommy's awkward transition back into society. Stefan Cassadine went out of his way to make that transition as painless as possible. If Tom had been there... She shook her head at the thought. That was twenty years in the past. The ifs ceased to matter after a certain point. "You can't help anyone here. Please, just go."

"These people are important to my son."

"If you care an ounce about Tommy, you'd leave. You know he doesn't want you here."

He looked ready to protest. Then, in surprise sudden move, he closed his mouth and nodded. "Have it your way."

As Simone watched the elevator doors close him in, she knew that Tom had only just begun his game of reconciliation. She prayed that he'd have sense enough to stop before someone got hurt.

~...now comes the night...~

"Hello, Dad. This is a surprise." Michael held the front door wide open as AJ stepped inside. "How did you know I was home?"

"I called the office. They told me you were working from home today." AJ glanced around the living room. Two empty bottles of beer lay underneath the coffee table. Stacks of paper covered the dining room table. Finally, he returned his gaze to his son. Michael appeared disheveled. His eyes were red and a distinct smell lingered on his breath. "Are you sick?"

Michael closed and locked the door. "No," he said, smoothing his hair down. "I just didn't feel up to going in. Grace and I are still enjoying that honeymoon phase, you know?"

"Where is my new daughter?" AJ folded his arms across his chest. The sight before him spoke volumes, but he didn't want to jump to conclusions.

"She has a photography session. I'll tell her you stopped by."

"Keesha and I'd like to take you both out to dinner."

Michael grinned. "She'd like that. Neither of us is any good in the kitchen."

"I remember." AJ glanced at the empty beer bottles again. "How did the party go?"

"Party? Huh?" Michael frowned. Then, he followed the direction of AJ's gaze. He coughed and quickly grabbed the bottles. "I'm not good at housework either. Let me trash these. I'll be right back."

"I'll come with you." AJ followed Michael into the kitchen. A bottle of wine rested on the counter. To his relief, it was unopened. "Have you heard about Dominik?"

"He and Ben are roomies again."

"Not just that," AJ said. "Dominik is in the hospital. He's very sick."

Michael tossed the bottles in the trash and turned to his father with a stricken look on his face. "I hadn't heard that. I don't know if Ben called Grace. What's wrong with him?"

"Mom hasn't been able to diagnose him. I know that Tommy's trying to find the Doctors Harmon. He hasn't said anything to you?"

Michael shook his head. "I'm working on another case. When it's something big like that, Tommy tends to handle things himself. Wow." He reached for the wine. Upon AJ's look, he quickly stored it in the refrigerator. "I'd better call Grace."

"Are you thinking of going to the hospital?"

"Yeah, of course. Dominik's a pretty good kid." He smiled. "I like his mom, too."

AJ smiled at an old memory of Dawn holding Michael on her lap. "She likes you, too. Look, clean up and you can ride with me."

"You don't have to wait for me. I can drive over—"

"No," AJ said sharply. "I'll drive you. Besides, it's been awhile since we've talked. I think it's time we had a long overdue conversation."

Michael frowned. "About what?"

"Alcohol."

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