Chapter 18


"My man, Mikey!!" Tommy said before the little boy threw himself at him. Tommy lifted him up in the air and placed him on his feet. He glanced at AJ, who had followed his son into the gym, and then he directed his attention to Micheal who was struggling as he tried to take off his coat without removing his mittens first. "Here, let me help you with that."

"G'mornin', Tommy," AJ said with a weary smile as he watched him help his son.

"Mornin', AJ," Tommy said, concern in his eyes as he handed Michael's coat to AJ. "So, um...what brings you two here?"

"The usual," AJ grumbled as he took Michael's coat and went into his office.

Tommy nodded, understanding what AJ meant without him having to say the words in front of the little boy. "So, my man, what's up?" Tommy asked, picking Michael up and setting him on the counter at the registration desk.

"I had bad dream, Tommy," Michael confessed, a solemn expression on his little face.

"You did?" Tommy asked, eyeing his friend closely.

"Yeah," Michael nodded. "Bad, bad dream. I cried."

"Aw, that's too bad, Mikey," Tommy said as he embraced Michael.

Michael rested his head on Tommy's shoulder and patted his arm. "Daddy sing the song, but I didn't sleep."

"Oh, I see," Tommy said as he set Michael on the floor again. "I'm sorry to hear that."

"Me, too," came the little voice.

"Hey, Tommy?"

"Yeah?" he answered, dividing his attention between father and son as AJ called to him from the doorway of his office.

"Where's Dawn? Her purse is in my desk, but her coat's not here."

Tommy couldn't have prevented the grimace from creeping across his face if he'd tried. The muscles in his jaw worked as he remembered the circumstances of Dawn's exit. Ever since she'd been gone, he had wished that he had insisted that he take her to General Hospital instead of Nikolas, but he hadn't. Now, as he continued to worry about her and hope that she was okay, he wasn't quite sure how much he should tell AJ. Maybe he'd tell him all of the little bit that he had knowledge of.

"Tommy?" AJ asked again, his voice tired but marked with concern for the young woman who had invaded his dreams before his son's screams had tore him from them. "Where is she?"

Tommy stole a glance at the little boy who'd busy himself with an old Hot Wheels car he'd found underneath the desk. Carefully stepping away from the child, Tommy went towards AJ and in a low voice, "She's at GH."

"Why?" AJ asked with a frown.

"There's something wrong with her hand. It's kinda swollen."

"So, she's probably in the ER, right?" AJ asked over his shoulder as he went back into his office. He heard Tommy following him, so he wasn't surprised to see him behind him when he turned around with his coat in his hand. "Would you mind watching Mikey for me? You know how he feels about hospitals..."

"Sure, AJ, no problem, but... Well, AJ, there's more. Nikolas is with her."

"Oh. Okay," AJ said with a shrug as he brushed past Tommy to go tell Michael that he was leaving, but he was stopped when Tommy grabbed his arm.

"Wait. There's more," Tommy said, releasing his hold on AJ when he turned to face him with an inquiring look in his eyes.

"Out with it, Tommy." AJ felt himself grow tense at the ominous sound of Tommy's words.

" Well, I'm not sure what it all means, but when Nikolas came, she was acting weird around him...kinda like she didn't want to talk to him. But, he was persistent, and then, there was that bruise on his jaw which looked like someone punched the hell out of him with a mean right hook. Did I mention that it was Dawn's right hand that was messed up? But, like I said, I don't know what it all means."

"Oh, I think I know," AJ said quietly, trying to keep the venom from his voice as Michael joined him and Tommy.

"Daddy, are we going home?" Michael asked, noticing that AJ was wearing his coat again.

"No, son. I'm going to see Dawn."

"I can't come?" he asked, biting his lip.

"Not this time. She's at..." AJ was hesitant about saying the word because Michael's reaction to it might not be pretty, but he knew his son would have to come terms with it eventually so... "She's at the hospital. She hurt her hand and she's letting the doctors, you know like Grandma Monica, and the nurses, like Grandma Bobbie, look at it. I'm going with her because she may need a friend. Will you be okay here with Tommy?"

"Yes, Daddy," Michael nodded, sliding his hand into Tommy's. "Will Dawnie be okay? Does she hurt bad?"

"She'll be just fine," AJ said, ruffling Michael's hair. "I'll tell her you asked about her, okay?"

"Okay," he nodded. "Give her a kiss to make it better, too. Okay, Daddy?"

"Okay," AJ smiled, in awe of his son's caring nature. "I will."


Dara massaged her lower back as she moved to open the front door of the gatehouse. A brief smile formed on her face in an effort to mask her discomfort as she greeted her mother. "Hi, Mama. And, you're on time., too."

"Don't start with me," Carrie said, laughing, as she pulled her daughter into an embrace. "How are you doing? You seem a little tense."

"I can't get anything pass you, can I?" Dara laughed. "The baby's been a little bit more active today than normal, but I think I'm okay. How are you? You seem a little tense, too. Did Stefan piss you off?"

Carrie shook her head as her daughter found humor in her own question. "Stefan knows better than to piss me off," she said with a small chuckle. She sobered as she added, "But your sister, on the other hand... Do you know what's going on with her? Stefan told me that something was wrong with her hand."

"I know that... Ow!" Dara cried out in pain.

"Honey, what's wrong?" Carrie asked, moving quickly to Dara's side. She led Dara to a chair and helped her sit down. "Where does it hurt?"

"I don't know. I just felt a sharp pain," Dara said, rubbing her abdomen.

"What do you want me to do?" Carrie asked.

"Nothing, Mama. It'll pass."

"That doesn't sound good to me, Dara. Have you had these pains before?"

"I've had them off and on. And, before you have a fit, I spoke to Dr. Newman about them. She said that unless they persist and are really bad, everything is fine."

"Did she say what causes them? Is there something that can be done to stop them?"

"She said it was probably caused by stress and that if the stress was reduced, the pains would lessen," Dara explained.

"Well, have you reduced it?" Carrie asked, worried about her daughter and her future grandchild. "The D.A.'s office can survive without you. There's no need for you to check in with them every hour on the on the hour."

"You sound like Ned. It's not the office that's been giving me the stress. In fact, calling in from time to time is what reduces my stress," Dara informed her.

A door slammed upstairs and small footsteps stomped across the floor and down the stairs. Brook Lynn entered, and without a word, she ran into the kitchen.

"Stress?" Carrie asked, pointing towards the kitchen door.

"Remember, that movie 'The Bad Seed'?" Dara asked. "Well..."

"Well, what?" Carrie asked, her beautiful face marred by a frown. "Make her little butt behave. She's not the boss around here. You and Ned are. What did Lois teach that child?"

"Mama, please! She can *hear* you!" Dara reminded her. "Ned's talked with her. Actually, she's been better, but today after he left... I think she *was* determined to show me who's boss... Ow!"

"Okay, that's it. You're going to the hospital," Carrie firmly decided. Carrie quickly retrieved their coats from the closet. She helped Dara to her feet and assisted her with her coat. Shrugging into her own, she headed for the door which separated the kitchen from the living room, and called, "Brook Lynn! Come here!" When there was no response, her voice changed as she said, "Now!"

The little girl, with a pout firmly in place, trudged back into the living room. She kept her eyes glued to the floor as she just stood in front of the kitchen door.

Carrie eyed the little girl. Normally, she would have been a bit more sympathetic to the little girl's unhappiness, but not this time. Her pregnant daughter was hurting and something had to be done, so in a no nonsense voice, she said, "Put your coat on, and don't make me have to tell you twice. Dara's not feeling well and I'm taking her to hospital for a check-up."

"What about me? I don't want to go to the hospital," Brook Lynn whined as she slid her arms into her coat.

"You're not going. You're going to the main house."

"But, what about Daddy? I want to be with my Daddy!" she demanded, her eyes bright with determination.

"Tough!" Carrie said, without pausing to consider her words.

"Mama!" Dara said, surprised by her outburst. "Brook Lynn, your Daddy is at work. You know that."

"I don't care! I want him anyway. I'm calling him! I don't want to go to the main house!"

"Brook Lynn... Ow!" Dara once again doubled over in pain.

"No more, Brook Lynn!" Carrie told her as she wrapped her arm around Dara and all but carried her to the front door. "You're going to the main house withOUT your father and that's final. Now, open the door. Dara's in a lot a pain and the last thing I'm going to do is argue with a five-year-old."

Brook Lynn did as she was told and opened the door. Her eyes watched closely as Carrie helped Dara into the car. After she closed the door shut behind her, she followed them into the car and sat in silence as Carrie drove her to the main house. She remained quiet as Carrie walked with her to the front doors, spoke briefly with Reginald, and left.

"Well, Sunshine. Looks like you're spending the day with us," Reginald said, looking at the little girl who was a mirror image of both parents in so many ways.


Nikolas paced in silence as he waited for Dawn to return from Radiology. The drive from the gym to the hospital had been in silence. He'd wanted to talk to her, but each time he opened his mouth, nothing came out. He'd glance at her rigid profile and the apology which was on the tip of his tongue would be lost. He found it hard to believe that the one person he'd always been able to talk to, now, rendered him speechless.

"Aw, sweetie, she'll be out soon," Amy said, patting her nephew on the back as she walked past him.

"Thanks, Aunt Amy," he absently replied, not really aware of the actual words, but of the thoughts behind it.

Pausing for a moment, he ran a hand through his short, brown hair. His jaw didn't hurt him as much as the memory of what had caused the injury in the first place. When the door opened and Dawn came towards him, he hoped that the hurt between them wasn't so great that it would be impossible to bridge the communication gap they so desperately needed.

"What was on the x-rays? Is it...broken?" he asked. He walked beside her as she moved back to the patient waiting area. He wanted to touch her to comfort her or soothe her somehow, but he didn't. Somehow, he knew she wouldn't want it, and would probably resent him for doing it. So, he kept his comforting hands to himself.

"They don't know, yet. Dr. Ramsey will get back to me in a few," she said quietly, her eyes glued to the floor as she sank onto the standard issue leather sofa. She heard him move to the chair beside the sofa and slowly sat down. He drew a long breath and she could feel his eyes on her, watching every movement she made. He wanted to talk, but he didn't know where to start or how to begin. That much she knew. Years of loving him had taught her a few things about him...things she might never forget.

He needed to talk it all over and though, she agreed with him, the thought of actually doing it, angered her. The emotion was unexplainable. Anger? Why, she wondered. Communication was key. That was the mantra she lived by and something she firmly believed in, so why didn't she want to talk things over with him.

After stealing a quick glance at him as he finally looked away from her, the answer came to her. Those stupid disappearing pajamas. The mystery of what happened between them in his bed a night ago infuriated her and frightened her, too. If what she thought did actually happen, how could she ever believe anything he said to her again?

"Ramsey? Isn't he the same one with that virus a few years back?" Nikolas asked, saying the first thing to come to his mind in an overwhelming need to end the deafening silence.

"Yeah, that's the one," she agreed.

"Maybe you should get a second opinion," he suggested.

"He's okay. Stefan wouldn't have allowed him to come back, otherwise," she replied, unaware that she was flippant until well after the words had been spoken and continued to hang in the air, separating them even more.

Another silence grew between them and Nikolas realized that he couldn't take it any more. "Dawn, we *have* to talk about it. I'm sorry for what I said and how I acted. Now, can't we just start over? Put everything in the past and move on??"

"You want to start over and move on?? After what you did to me?! You have a lot of fu-" Dawn stopped abruptly, aware of the curious glances which were thrown their way, and lowered her voice as she leaned closer to him. "You have a lot of *freaking* nerve, Nikolas Cassadine, if you want me to just 'move on'!"

"What the he-... Dammit, Dawn! I apologized for being a jerk! What more do you want me to do?" he asked her, furiously whispering back.

"I want you to explain to me why you did what you did! I want you to look me in the eye and tell me why you took advantage of me!"

"What?!" he asked as he rose from the chair. "I've *never* taken advan-"

"Back it up, Cassadine."

"Quartermaine, stay out of it!" Nikolas said, raising his hand to AJ as he moved to stand in front of Dawn who had stood up as soon he came closer to her.

"Too late. I'm already in it," AJ bit out. In record time, he positioned himself between Nikolas and Dawn. "I'm not telling you again."

Nikolas looked at Dawn, certain that she would tell AJ to stay out of their private affair, but when she remained silent, he threw up his hands. Backing away, he said, "Fine! I'll leave it to you then! Enjoy! I always did!"

"Why that sonofabi-" AJ started to go after him, but Dawn grabbed his arm.

"Let him go, please, AJ," she said, stunned by Nikolas' last comment. She rested her head against his back and her hand held onto AJ as she tried to regulate her breathing and make the images of her and Nikolas go away.

"Okay, if that's what you want," AJ said, turning around to face her. He pulled her into his arms and asked, "How are you? What did the doctor say about your hand?"

"I'm still waiting. He doubts if it's broken, but he took x-rays to be sure. Tommy told you?"

"Yeah," AJ admitted, his voice soft as his hands brushed her hair away from her face. "What's his problem? Is it safe for you to be alone with him? Has he always been like that?"

"I...I don't want to talk about him anymore," she said, shaking her head.

"Okay," he nodded. "I guess now is a good time to give you Mikey's message."

"Oh, yeah?" she brightened at the mention of the small boy.

"Yeah." AJ gave her a gentle kiss on the check. He raised his head to give her a kiss just from him when a movement caught his eye. Looking past Dawn, he saw someone he never thought he'd see again.


Chapter 19