Open your eyes.
Robin had lived and breathed those words from the moment she had received Keesha's call, telling her about Stone's accident. As she stood beside Stone's empty hospital bed and waited for the orderlies to bring him back, she continued to think them.
Please, Stone. This time, open your eyes.
For the past two weeks, Robin had drawn on every ounce of strength she'd inherited from her mother and father. All of their courage and all of their love had enveloped her and continued to do so as she waited and hoped…
The strength, courage and love had kept her from the breaking point and had kept her sane. But now as she waited for Stone to return from yet another barrage of tests, she knew that her breaking point was within sight and that she was very close to it. Unbelievably close.
A draft of cold, sterile air swept into the room as the door opened behind her. She didn't have to turn around to see who had entered. She knew. His electric energy surrounded him like a halo and his soothing presence comforted her in its silence.
Sonny's footsteps were soft as he walked across the tile floor to reach her. Standing behind her, his arms closed around the young woman who held a special place in his heart. As he rested his chin on top her mass of dark brown hair, he whispered, "Isn't it time to change the guard? I can sit with him while you take a break."
She shook her head in response. "You know I can't leave. Tony is giving him more tests. Maybe this time…" Her voice rose as her hopes and she repeated the words. "Maybe this time, there will be a change."
Sonny's throat constricted, but he still said the word. "Maybe."
Smiling, she turned in his arms to face him. "I do appreciate your offer though."
"And, I'm sure your body would appreciate a hot shower, a firm bed-"
Robin shook her head. "Sonny, don't. I can sleep later. I need to be here for Stone. He needs to know that I'm loving him and needing him to come back to me."
With strong, gentle hands, he cupped her small, round face. His dark eyes bore into her hers, making her unable to look away. "Sweetheart, he knows that. I refuse to let you believe otherwise, but in the meantime, you can't do this to yourself. You need to rest…if not for yourself, for him. When he wakes up, he's gonna need you. All of you-"
A huge smile spread across Robin's face and silenced Sonny, but only for a moment. He returned her smile and asked, "What's that for?"
"It's silly really," she said with a modest shrug. She tried to give him a serious look, but the smile refused to disappear. She released a soft giggle as she surrendered to the smile's insistence.
Sonny's eyes narrowed slightly. He removed his hands from her face so that he could shove them into the front pocket of his slacks. "Robin?" he asked, becoming concerned as to her state of mind as she continued to giggle. "What is it? You can tell me."
"It's just that you said 'when' about Stone. Not 'if' but 'when,' and…well, the way you said it…it felt like his waking up really is only a matter of when," she finished softly.
"It is," he said, his belief radiating in his almost black eyes. "Stone's eyes will open and he will be fine. I know it."
"What's wrong?" Dr. Tony Jones asked, looking at the last intern in his group who continued to linger. Keesha's face was deep in thought and a slight frown marred her expressive face. Her deep level of concentration brought a faint smile to Tony's face and teasingly asked, "Do you disagree with my prognosis?"
In all seriousness, she answered, "Yes, I do. Well, maybe not disagree exactly, but I do have a few concerns."
Interested in her point of view, Tony nodded. "Well, go on."
"I don't want to sound disrespectful, Dr. Jones-"
"Tony. You can call me Tony. You've known me long enough and you've earned the right." He offered her an encouraging smile. "What are your concerns?"
Biting her lower lip, Keesha searched for the right words to begin. The copy of Stone's latest test results weighed heavy in her hands and she looked down at it. Tony's medical opinion was well written, backed by research and years of training, yet she, an intern, found fault with it. Did she have the knowledge to go against his experience? She became hesitant as the doubts began to creep in.
"Keesha?" Tony tapped her shoulder to get her attention. When she looked at him, he pointed to his guest chair, indicating that she should sit. As she did so, he closed his office door and then moved to sit behind his desk. "What do you see in that report that causes your concern?"
She exhaled a long breath as she raised her eyes to his. She shrugged as she said, "That's just it. There's nothing specific in your report that I can name. It's just that… Well, Stone… He…"
Her voice faltered. Unable to find the words, she looked down into her lap. Subconsciously, her hand had clutched the report. She released her hold on the papers and began to smooth them out. As she did so, the words found their way to her. "It's just that he was so alive and there. I just find it hard to believe that when he wakes up, he'll have the mental capacity of a child. It doesn't seem right."
"And, is this based on scientific fact or your emotional ties?" Tony asked. He asked her gently, but firmly. His duty was to instruct her to be a physician and to save lives. Emotions could cloud the issue and make things murky when they were so clear. He knew that this lesson would be a hard one for someone as compassionate as Keesha, but it was one she would have to learn. And, he intended to see to it that she would.
"I-I…well, since the scientific evidence says that his neurological system has sustained irreparable injury, I would say that it's based on my emotional ties to him," Keesha admitted. She raised her eyes from her small hands to look into her mentor's eyes. "I don't want what you said to be true, Tony. I don't want to believe that. Is that so wrong?"
In understanding, he slowly nodded. "It's not wrong. No one wants to believe it. Denial comes into play and from there, everything is thrown off center. But, Keesha, this," he said, pointing the report, "is true. The Stone Cates you knew is gone. If he comes out of the coma, his cognitive abilities will be like those of a child-"
"Excuse me?" Tony asked, confused.
"Not, 'if.' When, Tony…when, Stone comes out the coma." Her voice was quiet, but sure as she spoke. "I may disagree with or dislike what the report says that life will have to offer Stone, and a lot of that is based on my friendship with him and with Robin…but one thing is for sure, I know that he will wake up. It's only a matter of when."
Following Keesha's declaration, their conversation was put on hold as Tony received an urgent telephone call. Tony's consultation was needed for a patient who had gone into arrest. With promises to resume their discussion at a later time, Tony rushed from the room.
Keesha wasn't sure just how long she had sat in his office…thinking and feeling. But mostly feeling. As she moved to stand, she paused for a second, giving her stiff muscles a moment to adjust. After a few seconds, her legs were ready to move and as she moved past Tony's desk, she placed Stone's records on top.
The walk from Tony's office to the Staff Lounge was spent in deep thought. Keesha didn't want to believe that Stone was gone from them forever. He was filled with so much life, and he had so much to live for…his career with L&B, his family and friends, but most importantly, his upcoming marriage to Robin. It just wasn't fair that in the end, he wouldn't have that life…how in just seconds, it was all taken away from him. The hopelessness of it all overwhelmed her and as the Lounge's door closed behind her, she gave in to her tears.
The muffled sobs were just barely audible to Jason as he stood inside the smaller inner room, which served as a small changing area for the interns and other staff. After he pulled his green scrubs on, he moved to the doorway. He stood still as he wondered if he should intrude on the private moment. But as the cries became a little louder, he knew that he couldn't just stand there and listen. He straightened his shoulders and went into the larger room.
His sky blue eyes darkened as he saw Keesha break down. His sneakers skidded across the floor as he quickly covered the space to bring him to her side. He sat down close beside her on the sofa and without saying a word, he pulled her into his arms.
Her arms wrapped around his waist and doing the impossible, he pulled her closer to him. One hand went to the nape of her neck and he gently tugged on her scrunchy, freeing her hair so that it fell loosely around her shoulders. His other hand moved up and down her arm, tenderly stroking her and keeping her close to him.
He had wondered when the stress and strain of worrying about Stone's condition would get to her. He hadn't wanted to see her fall apart such as she had, but he knew that the release was inevitable and that she was in dire need of it.
"Ssh, love," he whispered against her forehead. "Just let it out all out. It's okay."
"But, it's not o-okay," Keesha stammered as the tears continued to stream down her face. "T-Tony said that St-Stone…"
"Sweetheart, just relax, okay?" Jason said, rocking her gently back and forth. "You don't have to talk about it. Not yet."
"Y-Yes, I do," she said with fierce determination. "Talking about it is the least I can do. Stone's up there in a coma and it's all my fault-"
"No!" Jason pulled away from her so that her eyes were on him. "Don't even think that. What happened to him was an accident. You're not any more to blame than-than Stone is!"
"He was hit while trying to save me, Jason! Don’t you see that?" she asked, sniffling as her tears began to subside.
"He was hit because of that freak on a cell phone," Jason told her. "Not because of you. He did save your life, but you didn't cause what happened to him. You have to see that. Please, tell me you do."
Fresh tears sprang to her eyes and as new sobs rocked her, she lowered her head back to his chest. "I don't know what to see," she murmured. "I just wish none of this ever happened."
"I know you do, baby, I know," Jason said softly. Still holding her and rocking her, he softly added, "But like the saying goes, everything happens for a reason. I just hope that when he wakes up we'll know what that reason was."
"We'd better, Jason," she said, lying against him. "We'd better."
"Hey, there, Pipsqueak!"
Rolling her eyes, Dawn stiffened as yet another nickname reared its ugly little head. This one was an old one, and she didn't have to turn around to see who had uttered the offending word. Through gritted teeth, she said, "Frank!"
Frank Scanlon chuckled softly as Dawn all but screeched his name. As she turned around to glare at him, his chuckling ceased and a grin spread across his handsome face. "Hey, there, Pi-"
With a finger pointed to the center of his chest, she went straight to him. Looking up to glower into his laughing blue eyes, she whispered furiously, "I told not to call me that, so cut it out! It's bad enough that everyone, including the patients call me Dawnie Howser, but I'm not about to let you get away wi-"
He raised his hands in defense. A look of complete innocence was on his face. "But I always called you 'Pip-"
He bit back another laugh as he said, "Okay, I won't say it, but you know I've called you that since you were this high!" He indicated the height by putting a hand to his waist. "Remember? I think you even liked it."
"I remember," she grudgingly admitted. "And for your info, I never liked it."
"Nah. She just liked you," Frank's younger brother, Joe, added as he joined their conversation. He grinned, as Dawn was stunned into momentary silence.
"That is not true!" Dawn said, fighting embarrassment and humiliation as Frank's grin broadened and Joe's grin morphed into a fit of giggles.
"It's okay if you have a crush on me," Frank said, unable to resist teasing the girl he and his brother had thought of as a little sister and had babysat on countless of occasions. "It's understandable really."
"Had, Frank," Dawn said in a flat voice. "The crush I had on you ended when I was ten-"
"Just two years ago?" Frank asked in all innocence. The laugh that had begged to escape quickly died as her eyes shone brightly with sudden tears. The faint quiver of her bottom lip was the last thing Frank saw before she turned on her heel and stormed away from the Nurses' Station.
"You shouldn't have said that," Joe told him. "We give her hard time about age, but bro, you went below the belt with that one."
"You think?" Frank asked quietly. Her absence was from the trio was deafening. He looked at Joe as he added, "I wasn't trying to. I was just playing around. I saw her and couldn't resist seeing her get fired up."
"Yeah," Joe nodded, understanding his older brother's dilemma completely. "I hear ya, but she doesn't like to get her hackles up like that anymore."
"Are you trying to say our little Pipsqueak has changed since she's now 'Dr. Jensen'?" Frank shook his head. "I don't believe that. She wouldn't let the title go to her head."
"It's not the title, Frank," Joe explained. "It's how people see her. She's a teenager. Anybody who looks at her can see that and sometimes, it's held against her-"
"Who?" Frank asked, becoming irate in her defense.
"No one in particular," Joe shrugged, "just people. They see her as a kid and she has to work overtime to make them see her as a doctor-"
"Well, that's not fair," Frank glowered.
"No, it's not," his brother agreed. "It's not fair, but it happens."
"Well, why don’t you look out for her?" Frank questioned, turning his ire onto his sibling.
"Because she doesn't want me to!" Joe told him with a hint of irritation. "Here, she's not my 'little sister'. She explained that to me in no uncertain terms and I do not intend to go through that again! Listen, I have rounds to make, but before I do, want a word of advice?"
"Apologize to her. Let her know that you're on her side." Joe grabbed his clipboard and patted his brother's back as he moved past him.
"Robin and I are going for a walk. We're not going far, so if there's any change-"
"I know, Sonny," Dawn said, keeping her tone even. "You will be notified immediately."
Robin gave her roommate a faint smile. "He means well."
"I know," Dawn nodded. She smiled at Robin as she added, "It's good that you're going out. Take your time. I'll watch over him for you."
"I know you will. We won't be gone long."
Dawn watched as Robin and Sonny headed towards the elevator. As the light signaled the approaching car, she turned away and directed her attention to Stone's medical charts. Her eyes moved over the words and a frown aged her youthful face as Tony's prognosis for Stone's recovery came into view. "Oh, no," she whispered sadly as her eyes poured over the records.
"Has something…happened with your friend?" asked a concerned masculine voice.
Dawn's eyes fluttered upwards to find Nikolas Cassadine's brown eyes gazing upon her with strong consideration. She was taken aback by his close scrutiny and took a deep breath to collect herself. "He…um… No. There's been no change."
"I suppose in this situation, no new is good news, correct?" Nikolas asked. Subconsciously, he took a step closer to her. He had looked for an opportunity to speak with her and now that one had presented itself—unfortunately under tragic circumstances—he would not turn his back on it. He wanted to get to know her better and he fully intended to.
Dawn's eyes widened as Nikolas drew closer to her, but she didn't move. She took another deep breath and then she answered him, "Well, not this time around. We need him to wake up. The longer he stays out, the worse it could be."
"I'm sorry to hear that. I know that he's a close friend of yours and I would like to extend my humbl-"
"Dawn, I need to talk to you."
Dawn's head turned at the sound of Frank's stern, authoritarian voice. She opened her mouth to tell him what exactly he could do with his need when Nikolas said, "Excuse me, but Dr. Jensen and I are engaged-"
"I don't think so," Frank said, glowering at the younger man. "She's not engaged to you or to anybody else."
"Frank!" Dawn bit out. "Cut it out. Nikolas and I are having a discussion and if you don't mind, I'd like to resume it. Now, Nikolas, what were you saying?"
"Well, what if I do mind?" Frank asked, planting his hands on his lean hips as he gave her a hard look. "I have something I need to say to you, and you will listen to me, young lad-"
"Oh, for the love of MattelŪ!" Dawn exclaimed, giving Frank a fierce look. "That tone and those looks don't work on me anymore, and if you don't mind-"
"I do mind," Frank ground out. "This rude behavi-"
"Excuse me, sir, but you're the one who's being rude," Nikolas calmly interjected. Although his eyes were glued to Frank, he knew that Dawn had smiled at him and that gave him all the encouragement he needed. "She doesn't wish to speak with you, and lest you fall prey to more ill-mannered comportment that should suffice."
The frantic cry of the duty nurse prevented Dawn from verbally agreeing with Nikolas' eloquently worded sentiment. Dropping the chart onto the counter behind her, Dawn ran into Stone's room. Her heart raced wildly in her chest as she looked from the nurse down to Stone. His eyes stared back to her and in that instant, she knew that he was lucid.
Maintaining a calm professionalism, Dawn ordered the nurse to page Tony and she quickly did her own preliminary examination of him. When she was done, she patted his hand and gave him a tender smile. She then reached for his bedside telephone and dialed Sonny's cell phone.
The call was answered on the first ring. Upon hearing Sonny's voice, the only thing Dawn could think of to say was, "He opened his eyes!"
Go to Chapter 3
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