Chapter 32

~ Right Here Waiting ~

Jason rode in the back of the limousine without saying more than two words. "General Hospital."

Neither Justus nor Mac understood him. He did care. He just didn't wear his emotions on his sleeve. They were buried deep inside of him. Hidden underneath thick layers of self-preservation, Jason's heart pounded with varying degrees of empathy and love.

When the steely glint of Magic Fingers' blade flashed near Dawn, his blood had run cold with fear. As gunfire exploded into the air, he almost lost it. His only thought had been of going to her, protecting her. But he hadn't moved fast enough. Taggert had him in cuffs before he could leap from the platform and all he could do was watch as the Cassadine kid assume the role that should have been his.

Looking out of the window at the passing scenery, he remembered how quickly Cassadine moved to Dawn's side. The way the kid held her left little doubt that she was a stranger to him. Jason wondered about their tie and if Dawn reciprocated the kid's feelings. During his time with her, Jason didn't have any reason to wonder if there was someone else. They had spent so much time together that it would have been nearly impossible for another man to claim her. As the bright lights of the hospital appeared, he pushed further thought of Nikolas from his mind. He had to see that she was okay. Nothing else mattered.

Johnny waited for him at the hospital's entrance. Johnny told him that she was in ICU and gave him her room number. He also warned Jason that her room was heavily guarded and that he might be difficult for him to see her. Jason nodded at Johnny's warnings and made the trek to her room alone. He wasn't concerned about whoever else might be there. Regardless of who stood guard, he had no intentions of leaving until he had seen her.

When Jason stepped out of the elevator car and into the unit, he noticed three middle-aged men standing outside of Dawn's door. They appeared to be friendly. As he moved towards them, he wondered if they would be a problem. He soon found that his thoughts were a waste. The three men moved away from the door. Deep in conversation, they didn't notice Jason or see him when he slipped inside her room.

A mass of dark, brown hair lay spread across the pillow, framing her serene, heart-shaped face. Her soft full lips were curved into a faint smile. He went to her and brushed the back of his hand against her smooth cheek. "Dawn," he whispered. "I never wanted this to happen to you. I promise that whoever ordered this will be dealt with. Be well soon."

Bending over her, he brushed his lips across hers.


Footsteps shuffled down the hall. AJ pushed himself away from the wall and waited. A warm smile spread across his face when Keesha appeared. He went to her and wrapped his arms around her. "I saw the news. I didn't think you'd want to be alone. Do you?"

"No," she mumbled against his solid form. "Thank you for coming."

AJ took the key from her hand and slid it into the lock. He quickly unlocked the door, stepping aside for her to enter before him. After he followed her inside, he closed and locked the door. He set the key on a nearby table and moved to help her remove her coat. Her slow, sluggish movements told him how tired she was. The sadness in her large brown eyes told him how deeply the incident on the docks had upset her. He was glad that he had followed his instincts came over. She was long overdue for some tender, loving care and he was just the man to provide it for her.

"Have you eaten?" he asked.

She shrugged. "Not really. There hasn't been any time. I guess I have something in the kitchen. I can fix you something..."

"No," he said, shaking his head. Taking a gentle, firm hold of her shoulders, his hazel eyes gazed at her with tenderness. "I'll fix us something. While I'm doing that, I think you should go take a nice, long soak in a hot, steaming bath. By the time you're done, I should have something ready. Okay?"

His suggestion was answered by a wide, grateful smile. "It sounds wonderful. Thanks, AJ."

"Don't mention it," he murmured, as she headed for the bathroom.

While Keesha found relaxation in her bath, AJ made quick work of putting a meal together for them. Since leaving the Q mansion and living on his own, he'd learn a few things about the inner workings of a kitchen and how even basic culinary skills could create an edible masterpiece. Well, maybe masterpiece was stretching it a bit, but neither of them would get sick from a couple of fried egg sandwiches on toasted bread.

By the time he finished setting the sandwiches on the plates, Keesha returned from her bath. The dizzying fragrance of honeysuckles surrounded her as she sat beside him on the sofa. As he glanced at her, he noted that some of the sadness had left her eyes. He handed her a plate as he decided that he'd make damn sure to do something about removing the rest of the sadness.

"This smells wonderful, AJ," she complimented him. "I don't know what to say."

"You don't have to say anything," he said as he rested his plate on his lap. "Just eat. A clean plate is the best reward a chef could ask for."

"A chef?" she repeated, laughing softly. "You are too much. I'll see what I can do about cleaning this plate, though."

"I appreciate that."

In companionable silence, they ate their sandwiches. When their plates were empty, AJ took them to the sink and washed them. He then returned to the sofa, positioning himself so that she had his full attention. "So, how are you?"

"I've had better days," she admitted. "I made a lot of mistakes, AJ. What happened to her could have been prevented if I had paid closer attention. She shouldn't have been out there. She wasn't prepared to handle the consequences."

"No, she wasn't," AJ agreed. "But none of that is your fault. From what I gathered by watching the news, you and the rest of the force acted quickly and responsibly-"

"Yeah, after the fact," she grumbled. "I pretended to be her friend to get to Jason. I had no idea that she was doing the same in regards to him. I suspected there was another guy, but never Nikolas Cassadine! Why didn't I see what she was really doing?"

"Because she didn't want you to see," he suggested. "There was no way you could have known what she was really doing. You thought they were simply dating-"

"I assumed that's all it was. From how fast they were moving, I should have known otherwise. That's what I get for being so full of myself. Keesha Ward thinks she can take on the mob. I should have known better."

AJ frowned. "What's this I'm hearing?" he demanded. "Don't you ever sell yourself so short. You're opinionated, independent and confident. Those are admirable qualities, Keesha. Believe me, I know because those are only a few of things that I admire about you. You couldn't have known about the Cassadine kid if she didn't tell you about him."


"And furthermore," he interjected, "she was wrong to put herself into that situation. She looks young, but definitely old enough to know better."

"Well, she wouldn't have had to put herself into that situation if the department had done something about Nikolas' shooting in the first place," she countered. She stubborn set of her jaw indicated that she refused to be placated. "Everyone knows that Anthony Moreno has been after Jason and Sonny's so-called territory for months. There was no mystery who shot at Jason outside of Luke's that night. Something should have been done about both Jason and Moreno a long time ago. A young woman upset about her boyfriend shouldn't have had to take it upon herself to see that justice was done! We get paid to serve and to protect, but nothing is happening. I feel so useless, AJ! Maybe I'm not cut out to be a cop."

"Maybe you're not," AJ said slowly, "and maybe you're not. Don't let one unexpected incident be the deciding factor for you. You know I wasn't thrilled when you told me about this career choice, but there was a light in your eyes that I hadn't seen before. Right now, it's a little dim, but it's not gone. I think you can make a difference. Use that passion to make things happen there...just make sure that you don't get hurt."

AJ took her hand. She looked down at their joined hands. Speaking softly, she said, "You almost have me convinced."

"Almost?!" he asked, incredulous. "That was a damn fine speech, Keesha Ward!"

"Yes, it was," she agreed. "I really want to make a difference."

He shifted on the sofa until he held her within the protective circle of his arms. With her head on his shoulder, his hand brushed her thick mass of dark, brown hair. "You already have," he murmured before he placed a light kiss on her forehead. "You already have."


Face her with the truth.

Nikolas had pondered Vinnie's words for the longest time. The advice made sense. Risking her life like that... Well, at the very least she deserved the truth. At the most, she deserved everything he had to give. And for her, he had a great deal.

His footsteps fell softly down the lonely hallway of the Intensive Care Unit. With the late hour, the floor wasn't as crowded as it would have been in daylight hours. The staff were more subdued as they concentrated on their tasks and seeing to mostly sleeping patients. The guards that his uncle had assigned to watch Dawn's room were sitting in the nearby lobby, conversing amongst themselves. At the far end of the hall, Quentin and his two friends rounded the corner. Nikolas waved at them and they waved back. He then moved to Dawn's door.

His hand grabbed the handle and pushed. The wind left his body as his gaze centered on Dawn and the man standing over her. White-hot anger pierced through him. Nikolas wanted to shout but somehow, he controlled the impulse. Releasing the door, he stepped back and waited for Jason Morgan to come out.

As soon as the door closed behind the mob boss, Nikolas pounced.

With power that he had never known existed within him, he grabbed Morgan and slammed him against the opposite wall. Jason's first attempts at defending himself were feeble at best. Nikolas deflected the older man's blows with hard punches to Jason's jaw and sharp jabs to his mid-section. Still in recovery from the shooting and his stroke, the exertion took Nikolas' breath away. As he paused to catch his breath, Jason took advantage of the opening.

He slammed his fist into Nikolas' kidneys. The blinding pain startled Nikolas and his reflexes made up for the momentary disorientation. The two men matched each other's blows as they screamed at each other in outrage. Soon, the fight was declared a draw as the men were pulled apart. Quentin grabbed Nikolas while the Cassadine's chief bodyguard Arman grabbed Jason. The night duty nurse ran towards the staff lounge. When she returned, the policeman who had been assigned to Dawn's room was fast on her heels.

"No problem, officer," Spenser said as soon as the man appeared. "High strung emotion. You understand."

"I outta run the both of them in for disturbing the peace," the officer muttered. He was young, new to the force and gung ho about his position. His hand rested on his club for emphasis.

"Seriously, it's all done now," Quentin said. His arm was around Nikolas, holding the younger man whose body still shook with rage. He kept a secure grip on him to prevent him from going after Jason again while he kept an understanding smile plastered on his face. "My daughter is in there resting. If anyone should press charges, it would be me. I won't press charges against them. Let's just leave it."

"I'll leave it," the officer said, glaring at Nikolas and Jason. "I'll leave you both with a warning. The next time you will be arrested."

Spenser gave the officer his most charming smile. "Thank you. We all appreciate that."

The officer moved to stand in front of Dawn's door. Arman released his hold on Jason and Quentin did the same for Nikolas. Jason's cold blue eyes stared at Nikolas. "This isn't over."

"No, it isn't," Nikolas agreed. His dark gaze didn't blink and he watched the older man as he turned on his heel and went to the elevator. After Jason disappeared inside the car, Nikolas fell against the wall. Closing his eyes, he rubbed his abdomen and winced.

"Stefan will kill you when he sees you," Quentin commented. He put his arm around Nikolas' shoulders again and guided him to the lobby. He helped the younger man sit and stepped aside as the nurse attended to Nikolas' cuts and bruises. "Wanna tell me what that was all about?"

"That was Jason Morgan," Nikolas muttered. "That bastard is the reason Dawn almost died today. I wish I had killed him when I had the chance. The next time, I will."

General Hospital and Port Charles ©ABC
Wiseguy © Stephen J. Cannell Productions
Magnum, PI © Universal Studios
Spenser: For Hire © ABC
The Right Way(and all original characters) ©2000-2001 niklovr
All Rights Reserved

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