~ Facing the Consequences ~
It took several days for Jason to decide on which road to take to reclaim his life and own up to his past. Once he made his decision, there was no looking back. Until everything was resolved, he thought it best if he didn't live with Keesha. He assured her that it was only for a little while. He still loved her, but living her would be a distraction. He needed to be on his own while he sorted everything out. She said she understood, but he wasn't sure if she meant it.
He took a paid position at the Charles Street Foundation and moved into the apartment over it. During the day, he did what he could to help the lower income residents of that community and in the evening, he went down his mental list of wrongs and chose the order of how he would set things right.
The first person he visited was Robin. Keesha told him Robin was the first person he connected with after the accident, so he figured she'd be the first one he would speak to.
He found at her at Ned's guest cottage in the recording studio in the back. Her face registered with shock upon seeing him on the doorstop. The walls of guilt moved in on Jason. He should have called first.
"Jason, what are you doing here?"
"I wanted to see you," he said. "Mind if I come in?"
She stepped aside. Jason entered, closing the door after him. L&B's studio had undergone a lot of changes in the past two years. Things were obviously moving up for them. They should be proud.
Robin chose a spot on the leather sofa and Jason joined her. A foot separated them. Jason saw Robin measure the distance with her eyes. Sadness hinted at the corner of her brown orbs. He felt sorry for the pain he caused. He sensed she still had feelings for him, and he knew without having to say anything that she sensed those feelings weren't returned. And never would be.
"This isn't an idle visit," Jason said, as he watched her closely. "I'm not even sure if it would be good if we saw each other again after this."
"Then, why are you here?"
"Because you need closure," he said. "Keesha told me about your relationship with Jason Morgan. I don't have any memories of that time. For me, the past two years don't exist, but I know they exist for you. It can't be easy knowing that."
She averted her eyes and stared at her clenched fingers in her lap. "We broke up a long time ago, Jason. It doesn't matter."
"It matters," he said. "It mattered to Keesha. She hasn't said anything about how seeing Jason Morgan with you affected her, but I know it must have hurt. She said that he and you were in love, so I know this hurts you."
"So what if it does?" she asked in a strained voice. "What do you want from me?"
"Closure, Robin." He reached out and covered her hand. Tension crackled in the air, but he didn't release her. "I'm here so you can say goodbye in a way that will be helpful to you. Jason Morgan was cold, cruel and heartless to Keesha. I don't want to be like him."
"You're not," she said. "I suppose you think I'm cold, cruel and heartless to become involved with you, knowing how much Keesha loved you."
"I've wondered about it," he said.
In fact, he'd stayed up for hours thinking about it. The four of them—Keesha, Jason, Robin and Stone—were friends. They did things together: picnics, movies, and parties. She should have felt at least an ounce of contrition for being with him while Keesha was cast aside. Loss of memory was Jason Morgan's excuse. Robin had none.
He patted her hand once and released her. "I don't need an answer, Robin. Keesha told me you two worked that out. I just want to make sure you're okay. In my mind, you're still the young woman I always thought of as a little sister. I don't want you to hurt because of me."
A tear rolled down her cheek. She brushed it away with the back of her hand. "I have good days and bad days. We broke up because Jason Morgan wouldn't leave the organization. If he had... Well, things would have been different."
Jason nodded. "Maybe so. I wish there was something I could do. I wonder if closure will be enough."
"It's all we have," Robin said. "Thank you for caring enough to stop by."
"You're welcome." Jason stood and Robin walked him to the door.
"I'm not sure how I'll feel the next time I see you and Keesha in the street," she said with a faint smile, "but I do hope that one day, the three of us can be friends again."
Jason returned her smile. "So do I, Robin."
"What's that?" Vinnie asked, stifling a yawn as he peered at Dawn with boredom written all over him.
"It's a letter from my Mum." She handed the envelope to him and went back to the piano. "You can read it."
"My eyes will cross if I read anything else," he complained. "Tell me. She wants you to come home?"
"No, she's inviting me to her wedding," Dawn said. She rifled through her music until she found the piece she wanted to practice. Beethoven. One of Ludwig's compositions would soothe her restless heart. She hoped.
Dawn started to play. Behind her, Vinnie stood and made a lot of noise doing so. "Oh, Dawn, not that tune again. I swear I've heard it so much I could play it myself."
"You don't have to sit around and listen to me, Vincent," she said while her fingertips caressed the ebony and ivory keys. "I won't leave without consulting you. Go out and enjoy yourself."
"In this town?" Vinnie snorted. "I'd have more fun taking a nap."
She felt his heat as he moved just behind her. His hand covered her head and tilted it back so that she had no choice but to look at him. "Call him."
Dawn shook her head free. "No. Go take a nap. I'm fine."
"Liar," he grumbled. His knuckles brushed against her cheek. "I'll be down in time for dinner."
Her mouth curved into a faint smile. "I never doubted that."
He left her and Dawn breathed a sigh of relief. He hovered around her worse than he ever did before. Knowing her heartache, he seemed to think it was his duty to be more than a bodyguard and a close friend. Vinnie became the big brother she never had or knew she wanted. His actions touched her and made her wonder why a man who'd only known her for less than two years would be more inclined to protect her than the man who'd known her all her life. Why didn't Nikolas love her as much as he say he did?
Somewhere in Dorian and Herb's mansion, the telephone rang. Dawn continued with her classical piece until a short cough alerted her she wasn't alone. Carl, Dorian's butler, stood beside her with a telephone in his hand.
"A call for you miss."
"Thank you." Dawn accepted the receiver without bothering to ask who was on the other end. She never considered it could be Nikolas. "Hello."
"Dawn?" His cultured voice sounded breathless and tense. "Are you all right?"
She stiffened at his question. What the bloody hell did he think? Should she be all right? That Benson tramp was probably in bed with him at that very moment.
Tears caught in her throat suddenly. She mumbled, "I'm well."
"I've been worried about you," he said. "You haven't returned my calls. I want to see you."
"I told you I can't. I'm too busy."
A dial tone hummed in her ear. She stared at the phone. His abrupt end to the conversation was surprising. She never expected him to hang up on her. She wanted to claim that honor for herself.
Dawn stood quickly and whipped around. Indeed, he was. Nikolas filled the doorway. He was pale, gaunt and barely resembled the man she knew. Dawn moved to the other side of the sofa, using it as a buffer between them.
"You shouldn't have come."
"I couldn't stay away," he said, striding towards her. "I miss you."
Dawn stepped back. She didn't have to think about it. Her reaction was subconscious. But it did no good because he only moved faster and took hold of her when he reached her.
"You shouldn't have come."
"Is that all you can say to me?" he asked. His expressive brown eyes bored into hers. Intense desperation radiated from him. His grip on her arms tightened. "I came to be with you. Aren't you happy to see me?"
"I don't know," she said. "I wasn't expecting you. Why did you trick me with that phone call?"
"I didn't think you'd object."
She had no reply. Nikolas must have taken that as a good sign because he bent forward and kissed her. Dawn tried to remain aloof and distant, but she couldn't. Not when the taste of his lips turned her hardened exterior to jelly. She melted against him and returned his kiss.
When Nikolas finally raised his head, he smiled. His fingers traced her lips. "That's better. I was beginning to think you didn't love me anymore."
Dawn lightly pressed her fingertips against her mouth. Her lips still tingled from his demanding mouth and faint covering of stubble. But that wasn't her only reaction. A battled raged inside her between her heart and her head. Her head proclaimed her a fool for submitting to him and her heart begged for another chance. She didn't know which to listen to.
"I won't keep you from your practice," he said, taking her hand. "I just had to see you. Being with you reminds me that everything is right in the world."
"Does it?" She walked numbly, as if she was automaton, with him to the front door.
"More than you know." He kissed her knuckles. "I'll leave now and I promise not to bother you too much. Call me whenever you get lonely."
She nodded. Dawn squeezed his hands and then released them. "Have a safe trip home."
"I will." He bent forward and kissed her cheek. "I love you."
The door closed, and the sobs she'd been holding in fell down her cheeks. She was such an idiot! With a look, a touch and a selection of choice words, she surrendered. How could she be so weak? He didn't even admit to any wrongdoing. If anything, he accused her!
She spun away from the door and slammed straight into a large, hard body. "I'm sorry," she said, glancing at her victim. "Please excuse me."
"Not so fast," the older man said. "Are you the young lady I heard playing that beautiful music?"
Still overwrought with emotion, Dawn simply nodded.
The man smiled and handed her an expertly pressed linen kerchief. The initials "AB" were embroidered into the expensive cloth. She dabbed at her eyes and whispered, "Thank you."
"Think nothing of it." He closed his hand around her elbow and led her back to the music room. "You're David Renaldi's student, aren't you?"
Dawn nodded. She wondered who this large, imposing, but oddly generous man was. She realized there was only one sure way to find out. "Who are you?"
"Look at me!" he said with a warm laugh. "I've forgotten my manners. In Texas, manners are branded into you at birth. My name is Asa Buchanan."
"Hello, Mr. Buchanan. I'm Dawn Christofides-Hunter. It's nice to meet you. Thank you for your kerchief. I'll have it laundered and sent back to you."
Asa shrugged. "Think nothing of it." He directed her to the sofa and gestured for her to sit. He claimed the Princess Anne chair adjacent to her. "I have a reputation for sticking my nose where it doesn't belong. I'm not ashamed to say the reputation was well-earned. Why are you crying? Wasn't that your beau?"
Fresh tears clouded her vision. She tried to blink them away, but that only caused them to stream down her face faster and harder. The older man moved to join her on the sofa. His arm closed around her. His comforting motions reminded her of her Grandfather Petrukas. It felt good to lean on someone who wouldn't judge her.
"There, there now," Asa said, patting her arm. "You can tell me all about it. Maybe I can help."
"Why would you want to?"
"Why wouldn't I?" Asa asked. "I'm not a man who can walk away when I see a young woman in tears. If that boyfriend of yours is the cause, I have the means to make him pay."
Dawn released a short laugh. The thought of anyone forcing a Cassadine to do anything he didn't want to was too funny. If she weren't rolling in a vat of self-pity, she would have laughed out right. "I don't want that. There's nothing you can do. Thank you for wanting to."
"Are you sure?" He pulled back to look at her.
"I'm sure. I have to work this out on my own."
Asa patted her back one more time and then he stood. He smiled as he looked down at her. "If you change your mind, let me know." He pulled a business card from his pocket and handed it to her.
Dawn pocketed the card. "I will. Thank you."
Bobby Donnell worked magic in the courtroom. Without using Dara Jensen's relationship with Sonny, he and Rebecca produced documentation and witnesses that proved Sonny had been set up. Watching them at work, Sonny was in awe. By the time the judge pounded his gavel and declared that Sonny was wrongfully imprisoned, Sonny had decided that he wanted Bobby and his team on his payroll full time. Good legal counsel was hard to find. Now that he'd found them, he didn't want to be without them again.
"You did it," Sonny said later as they stood on the steps of the courthouse. "Was all of that true?" he asked, referring to their defense strategy.
"Does it matter?" Bobby asked.
Sonny didn't hesitate. He nodded. "Yeah, it does."
"It was all true," Rebecca said. "Mac Scorpio's arrest wasn't false as far as he was concerned. The falsification came from higher up. We gave everything to the Attorney General's office. It's only a matter of time before all the dots are connected."
"Everything that was seized during my imprisonment...will I get my personal property back?"
Bobby shook his head. "Not everything. We're filing papers with the court in the morning to see what can be done. The majority of your property has already been auctioned off. It would be impossible to get those items back."
"Great," Sonny grunted. "I'm free, but not really."
"You're not hurting for a means of support," Bobby reminded him. "Your foreign bank accounts were so well hid that they're still very much intact."
Sonny gave them a wry smile. "Don't worry, counselors. You will be paid."
He extended his hand and shook both of their hands. "Thank you for not bringing Dara into my legal problems."
Bobby glanced at Rebecca before he spoke. "Mentioning her wasn't necessary. Do you need a ride? Would you like to join us for a dinner celebration?"
Sonny smiled. "I'd like that, but for now, I want to enjoy the pleasures of freedom."
Rebecca smiled and Bobby nodded in understanding. "You have my number. Call when you're ready to celebrate."
The attorneys left Sonny on the sidewalk and he watched them leave. Their relationship was clear to him, but he didn't feel it was anyone's business. Just like his brief moment with Dara. That was private, and private matters should never be brought into the open for any reason.
He inhaled a deep breath. Port Charles had never smelled so good. Or was that the smell of liberation? Whatever it was, the taste was surprisingly sweet. Sonny didn't know and he didn't care. Basking in the joy of freedom was more important than making an analysis. He left the courthouse and walked the streets of Port Charles for two hours before he even thought about dinner.