Chapter 10

~ Tidings of Comfort and Joy ~

"Christmas."

Keesha murmured the words with a sigh and a smile. For a moment, the smile felt foreign to her lips. For the past week, she hasn't smiled as much. Problems with Jason had escalated, leaving her more melancholy than merry.

With her arms laden with a box filled with decorations and a few gifts, she walked slowly past the Nurses' Station. Her eyes shone like a child's as she looked at the festive decorations that adorned General Hospital's first floor. In the corner and out of the way, a beautifully decorated Christmas tree stood. The tree was a small one, but it filled Keesha's heart with joy and made her anticipate what she would find upstairs.

A quick ride in the elevator quickly brought her to the Children's Ward. A few of the interns had already arrived. With a soundtrack of Christmas carols playing in the background, everyone worked quickly and happily to bring a merry Christmas to the children who would have to spend it there.

"Hey, Keesha!" Joe called as soon as she came into view. Seeing that she carried a box, he dropped his handful of holly and moved to take the box from her. "You're just in the time. You didn't happen to put food in here, too, did you?"

"Um, no," she said with a laugh. "Are you guys hungry? If you are, I can get something..."

"You just got here!" Eve told her. "He knows where the vending machine is."

"Bah humbug," Joe said, laughing as Eve shook her finger at him. "Actually, she's right, Keesha. You don't have to get anything. I was just wondering..."

"You and your bottomless stomach!" Keesha said as she shrugged out of her coat, scarf and gloves. She placed her belongings behind the Nurses' Station and then stepped down from the platform to join her friends. "I'm sorry that I'm late. My mother is here and you know what that means."

"Bonding time?" Matt asked, wheeling from behind the partially decorated Christmas tree. "Was it bad or good?"

Keesha shrugged. "She's my mom. It was fun, but she had her moments. So, should I just jump in or what?"

"Just do whatever," Matt said. "I'm almost down with this side of the tree, but the upper leaves could use a few bulbs and popcorn."

"Okay, I'll start there," she said. She grabbed an armful of bulbs and tinsel and moved behind the tree. "Hey, where are you going?" she called when Matt started to wheel away.

"I'm still on the clock, Dr. Ward," he said with a smile. "I have to get back. Don't worry. I'll be back."

"The hour is up already?" Eve asked, glancing at her watch. "I have to go back. Wait, Matt! Hold the elevator for me!"

Joe and Keesha laughed as their colleagues disappeared inside the elevator. As the doors closed, their voices could be heard as they playfully sparred over who could push the elevator's buttons.

"They're a lot of fun," Keesha commented softly, her eyes and hands on her decorating task.

"Yeah," Joe agreed. "A couple of barrel of laughs. If Matt hadn't fallen for Dr. Burgess first, I think he and Eve..."

"What?" she asked, tearing her eyes away from the tree. "Matt and Dr. Burgess? Are you serious?"

"Ssh!" Joe said, his finger at his mouth. He moved closer to her and added in a conspiratorial whisper. "I thought you knew. You can't say anything. They've only had one date and if Matt knew I said anything..."

"My lips are sealed," Keesha vowed. "I won't say a word."

Joe breathed an audible sigh of relief. The pair worked in silence for a few moments after that. Joe pulled a mass of lights from Keesha's box, groaning as he saw that they were tangled. Keesha giggled softly and he rolled his eyes in reply. Taking the mass with him, he moved to sit on the floor. The lights were spread all around him as his nimble fingers pulled and untangled the wires. He glanced up at Keesha from time to time as he worked.

"You've got something on your mind?" she asked, making eye contact with him as he glanced at her again.

"That obvious, huh?" he asked softly.

"Just a little. What's up?" she asked him. "Is this work related?"

"No," he said shaking his head. "It's personal. I probably shouldn't become involved, but he's starting to drive me crazy."

"Who?" she asked. Her back stiffened as she hoped that Joe wasn't referring to Jason. She couldn't bear it if his question was about their relationship. She became still as she waited for his response.

"Frank," Joe replied. "He's been a nutcase for about a week. My gut is telling me to stay out of it, but he's my brother and I can't."

"Joe, Frank and I aren't that close, you know?" Keesha said. She turned away from the tree to give her friend a concerned look. She saw that he was trying hard to find the right words. She sat knelt down beside him and gave him a gentle nudge. "Just spit it out."

"This is about Dawn, really," Joe blurted out. Frustrated, he tossed the tangled lights to the floor. "I think Frank is seeing that she's not a kid anymore and I think that something happened between them. I'm not sure what, but he's being strange...even for him. I thought maybe that Dawn told you what happened..."

"Oh, I see," Keesha said, a smirk on her face. "Frank wants my roommie. I never would have seen that one coming."

"Neither did he," Joe said, shaking his head again. "Something big went down between them and I'm dying to know what it was. I've done everything and he won't talk. Did she tell you anything?"

Keesha shrugged. "She's been fairly quiet lately. She had a big date with Nikolas. I thought things were gonna happen between them, but nothing did. She hasn't said a word about Frank. Sorry."

"Nikolas, huh?" Joe murmured, a thoughtful expression on his face.

"I wouldn't go there if I were you, Dr. Scanlon," Keesha advised, rising to her full height. "I'd just leave well enough alone."

"But I only wanna say 'Hi'", he said with a grin. He rose to his feet and began to back away. "I'll talk to you later."

"Joe!" she called out, but he was gone. She shook her head and murmured a prayer that his 'Hi' didn't do too much damage.

She picked up the forgotten, tangled lights and began to try to pull them apart. She turned her back to the faint movement behind her and slowly herself to the cold, linoleum floor. She began to pull on the wires in an effort to untangle them. She was more successful than Joe, but not much. With her total focus on her task, she was startled when she felt a tap on her shoulder.

"Hi."

Her two brown eyes were wide as she stared back into the warmth of Stone's eyes. She was surprised to see him out of his room. He was making progress! Happiness flowed through her as she looked back him, feeling a small sense of pride in his recovery. Her smile was shiny and bright as she returned his greeting. "Hi, there. You're not in your room anymore. I take it physical therapy has worked like a charm."

"Yes," he said, matter of factly. He didn't understand everything she said, but he couldn't help agreeing with her. He looked at the mess in her lap and knelt down to get at better look. His fingers stretched to touch the unlit bulbs and tangled wires.

"The lights are tangled," Keesha began to explain. She gave him a handful and patted the space next to her. She wasn't prepared for the surge of electricity that rippled through her as he sat down right beside her. The GH sweats that he wore stretched tightly across his thighs and for a second, Keesha couldn't tear her eyes away. Quickly, she became aware that she was staring and like a guilty child, her eyes flew to his. He looked back at her with an innocence that mesmerized her and then he smiled at her, leaving her breathless. She had to cough in order to start breathing again.

"Keesha?" he asked, looking at her with concern.

Coughing, she nodded to let him know that she was okay. "I'm fine. I was coughing."

"Coughing?"

She smiled at him, remembering how everything was new to him. She had no problems teaching him what he needed to know. "Yes, coughing. It's like sneezing." She demonstrated so that he would get a better understanding. "Sneezing."

"Ah," he said, with a knowing look in his eyes, "sneezing." He sneezed to show that he understood.

"Very good," she said, grinning back at him. "You are a fast learner."

"Yes."

His quick affirmation caused her laughed and he soon joined in. Together, they worked to untangle the lights, while teaching Stone new things along the way. Neither knew when they had enjoyed an afternoon more and both found themselves looking forward to the next time they would spend time together.

************************************

"Thanks for meeting me," Dawn said quietly, staring into a mug of steaming hot chocolate.

"Doc," Thomas said, his voice warm with concern, as he reached across the table to cover one of her hands with his own, "you don't have to thank me. You could tell me what's going on, though. You don't seem 100%."

"I don't feel 100%," she admitted. She glanced around at the people who moved in and around Kelley's. Her eyes followed their movements, but her mind was miles away. "I feel lousy. I feel confused, and I hate feeling confused."

"Well, what's wrong?" her good friend asked, removing his hand as he leaned back in his chair. His emerald green eyes watched her closely. He remained silent as he watched her collect her thoughts.

"Everything. Nothing. I dunno," she mumbled. She drew a long breath and added, "It all started the night of the dinner at Wyndemere. Things were moving fast with Nikolas and then all of a sudden... I think I got the wrong impression and said too much, but... I didn't think I would never hear from him again."

"What did you say to him?"

"I kinda accused of him thinking I was easy and then I ordered him to go home. But I ordered them both to do that, so that should work in my favor, right?" she asked, her brown eyes pleading with him to say yes.

"Huh?" he asked, completely confused. "Both? Who else was there? Woman, how many men are you messing around with?"

"Hush!" she said, swatting at his arm. "I'm not messing around with anyone. I went on a date with Nikolas...the dinner."

"But you said both," he said, grinning at her as she began to blush. "You didn't think I was paying attention, did ya?"

"Oh, you!" she said, laughing as his grin broadened. "Frank is the other guy."

"Frank, huh?" he asked with a serious expression on his face. "What does he have to do with this?"

"I don't know," she said, shrugging. "He just appeared. Nikolas and I were in the middle of a disagreement, I guess, and then, Frank was there."

"He certainly has a habit of turning up at the wrong moment," Thomas said, under his breath.

Dawn shook her head at him and rolled her eyes. "Would you forget about that, please? That happened almost ten years ago."

"I remember it like it was yesterday. I was all set to be your patient while you were gonna be my doctor and just when the exam was about to begin, who bursts through the door?!" Thomas shook his head at the memory. "I thought he was gonna kill me!"

"You should have known better anyway!" Dawn said, laughing as her friend's eyes blazed in mock indignation.

"But, you were the doctor!" he countered.

"But you were older!" she defended herself.

"As Scanlon was quick to point out," he muttered with a grin. "I can't believe Frank's up to his old tricks."

"What do you mean?" Dawn asked, looking at Thomas with interest. "Old tricks?"

"Guard dogging you," Thomas explained. "When you were 10, it made perfect sense, but you're not 10 anymore. You're a woman now. You don't need him hanging on to you as much anymore."

"You think that's what it is?" she asked, quietly. "He still sees me as a kid. Is that why he punched Nikolas?"

"Excuse me?" Thomas asked, nearly choking on the hot chocolate he had just swallowed. "He punched out Cassadine? Um, dear, I think you should tell me exactly what happened. If Nikolas was being forward with you..."

"No!" Dawn said, shaking her head. "He was being a perfect gentlemen. He was upset about something and I misread it. That part was me, but Frank was so crazy. He confuses me."

"Ah," Thomas said with a knowing twinkle in his eyes, "confusion again."

"What does that mean?" she asked, irritated by his reaction. "What does it all mean?"

"It means," he said, reaching across the table to take her hands again, "that you have some serious thinking to do. It also means that I think you should talk to him."

"Him?! Which him, Thomas?"

He gave her his trademark wink and dazzling smile. "That, my dear, is the question that only you can answer. Now, I hate to rush off, but work is calling me."

"I'm sure," she said, watching as he rose from his chair and pulled a handful of bills from his wallet and placed them on the table. "And, I bet work's name is Lynn."

"You know it, Doc!" he said before kissing her soundly on the cheek and disappearing.

Dawn smiled as her friend left. She was happy that he knew what was going on in his life. With a deep sigh, she wished that she could be so lucky.

Chapter 11


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