((I realize that as it's taken me time to return to this fic it's outdated as far as the current storyline. I will be continuing with the story as I've set it up thus far. Philip & Belle are not married, John's still in the hospital, Marlena, Roman & the others are still gone, etc. Sorry for the delay and any inconvenience staying with the line I started with.))
It was not until he was almost to the police station that he realized Belle had said Kayla was no longer in California. She was here in Salem. Had she come back because of what happened to her family? He would not have blamed her.
Anthony had hoped to be assigned to the DiMera case eventually, but it never happened. After the O'Boyle's had been brought down he had been assigned to the Zeblotsky family. He was a wanted man by more people than he could count, but it never mattered because he had given up the only thing he had to live for years ago. On and on it went but it was never the DiMera's.
His supervisor said that it was his face that prevented him from being assigned to the DiMera's. Stefano and Tony DiMera knew him. The Bureau had offered to do reconstructive surgery on him, fixing his eye in the process but Anthony had refused. He had had the eye fixed once before, only to end up right back where he had been after Bo Brady had finished with him. He would not go through that again. It was bad enough to have to go back to wearing the patch a second time.
He parked the car in a space marked visitors. He felt like a complete stranger yet at the same time as if he had never left. How was that possible? It was hard to believe a man like Steve Johnson had ever grown fond enough of a place to call it home. But even today he considered Salem his home.
He clutched the rental car keys in the palm of his hand, letting his thumb graze the tag that served as a keychain. "You're an agent who has come up against worse things than the Brady's," he muttered. He was frustrated at his fear of the situation. For years he had felt no fear even when he went into situations that could end his life if he blinked wrong. He had grown numb and unafraid of death because he had nothing to lose. Men with that mindset were dangerous.
The police department looked no different than it had the last time he saw it. The computers were more modern, but overall it was the same building.
"May I help you?" The woman at the desk was a gray haired woman who probably was not as old as she looked. A life patrolling the streets could be hard on some and this woman was a prime example of that.
"Yes, I'm looking for Bo Brady." He wished now he had worn his suit. He carried his badge and his revolver everywhere. He had sworn he would not pull the Special Agent card while here in Salem. He was here as a friend of the Brady's nothing else.
She regarded him through hardened eyes, but Anthony did not flinch or give away anything. He had long ago perfected his poker face. His years with the ISA had taught him that much but over a decade of deep undercover had helped him control it.
"I'm sorry he's not in. Would you care to wait? Or make an appointment?"
"Any idea where he is?" he asked and with this question he stooped to what he swore he would not do. He pulled out his badge and flashed it. Her eyes widened in surprise. Clearly, the man with the shaggy blonde hair, patch over one eye, dressed in blue jeans, a T-shirt, a leather jacket, and heavy biker boots did not present the image one normally associated with a Bureau agent. Not one on official business anyway.
"He's at Salem University Hospital. Do you know where that is, Agent?"
"Yes, I do, thank you," Anthony said as he flipped his bifold wallet closed and returned it to the back pocket of his blue jeans. "Have a good day," he said before leaving the precinct.
Salem Hospital had grown since he had left town, but looked the same. Everything looked the same. He was not sure if that was good or bad. It would be so easy to fall back into a routine here. Easy only if his wife and daughter had room for him in their lives. There was nothing here for him without them.
He entered through a set of sliding glass doors and walked to the reception desk. He paused only for a moment before removing his wallet once more. "I'm looking for Bo Brady," he said as he flashed his badge yet again.
"I can page him for you."
"That won't be necessary. If you can tell me where he is I'll find him."
"Let me see," she said and seemed puzzled. She was probably wondering why he would wander through the hospital looking for someone when he could just have Bo brought to him.
"I believe he's on Floor 6. Ask for Lexie Carver and that should get you to him."
"Thank you," he said and once again pocketed his wallet. It was far too easy gaining information out of people with a mere flash of a gold badge. He shook his head as he walked to the elevators and got on the first one that opened for him.
"Doctor Lapcow, Code Blue, Room 345," a non-descript voice paged over the elevator speaker. A Code Blue was never a good sign and not something a doctor wanted to hear regarding one of his patients.
He slid his right hand into the front pocket of his blue jeans as he stepped off the elevator on Floor 6. He walked toward the nurse's station and offered the young redhead his best smile. It depended on the girl whether his smiles had any affect or not. Some were put off by the eye patch and some saw it as an extra attractant. "Hi. I hope you can help me. I'm looking for Bo Brady and was told I might be able to find him here."
"Sure," she said, smiling in return and Anthony knew she was one that did not mind the patch. Good to know. "He's talking with Doctor Carver. I think they're in her office. Do you know where that is?"
"I'm afraid not. It's been a while since I've been here." That was an understatement. He was trying to remember which room Stephanie had been born in, but it was one of the few details he had forgotten. He held onto his memories so it bothered him that he could not remember even one of them.
"I can show you," she said with a smile as she picked up a file folder. "I was going that way anyway."
"Thank you, Mindy," he said, reading the gold name tag displayed on her shiny white uniform. She stopped midway down the hall. "Her office is down there, the third door from the end on the left."
"Anytime," she said and went about her business in another direction.
Anthony walked toward Lexie's office. He remembered her as most men would. She was an attractive woman. He recalled thinking Abe was a lucky man. He nodded briefly at a passing volunteer as he arrived at the door in question, third from the end on the left.
He should have stayed back from the doorway given he was uncertain of how the office was set up in relation to the door. As it was, as soon as he walked into view of the door he came face to face with Lexie Carver. Her eyes widened in recognition and astonishment. There was no going back.
"Don't you see, Lexie, it would work for all of us."
"Bo," she said, her eyes still focused on Anthony. He did not make any effort to walk toward her office door. He was stuck as if he had not meant to be discovered.
"No, Lexie, just listen."
"Bo," she said again. Evidently, Bo finally caught onto the fact that Lexie was deeply distracted by something outside her door because moments after the second "Bo" Anthony was face to face with the man who had maimed him years ago.
"What the hell?" Bo said as he charged at him. An arm was at his neck and Anthony was pinned to the wall behind him quicker than he expected. Anthony was vaguely aware of Lexie talking in the background, but he was too focused on the man in front of him to hear her clearly enough.
"You've gotten faster," Anthony said.
"That's all you have to say for yourself?"
Anthony maneuvered himself out from under Bo's hold with relative ease. He glared at his one-time friend and was about to give him a witty retort, but he caught movement in Lexie's doorway with his good eye. It took him a minute to assess what he was seeing.
He had expected to meet up with Kayla at some point, but now that she stood less than ten feet away from him he had no idea what to say. She was looking at him in much the same way Lexie had been, disbelief at what she was seeing. She looked a little more pissed off than Lexie did, though, and he could not blame her.
"No, Steve," Bo said as Anthony walked toward his wife. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, even now he felt that way. She had aged some but it was flattering on her. "Kay."
"Is it really you?"
"It's really me, Sweetness." His voice was barely a gruff whisper. He was on the verge of tears at actually seeing her again. This was not one of his dreams. He would not wake up and feel the bed next to him was cold and empty.
Her hand flew up and struck his cheek with a powerful slap. "How dare you."
"Ow," he said instinctively. He placed his hand over his cheek, which was still stinging from the contact. "I deserved that."
"And a hell of a lot more," Bo said
"You stay out of this," Anthony said. He was going to have a hard time getting used to being able to be Steve again.
"You can't come back here and expect to pick up where you left off when you left her."
"Bo," Kayla said. "It's all right."
"No, it's not all right, Kay. He lied to you. You came back to get a fresh start not get dragged back to the past."
"Let me handle it."
Anthony could tell by the look in Bo's eyes that he was not happy that Kayla wanted to handle the situation. Anthony could not blame him. He would not like it either, but it was not Bo's choice to make. Kayla was nearly forty years old and capable of deciding for herself.
"Why don't you and Lexie finish talking out what you had in mind. I'm up for helping anyway I can, you know that. I just don't think anyone's going to do anything stupid in front of me given who my brothers are." Kayla did not take her eyes off him as she spoke.
"Kayla, really, I don't think it's a good idea for you to go anywhere with him. We don't even know it's really him."
"It's him," she whispered, her eyes never leaving his face. He read anger there, but underneath it was delight and confusion. She was happy to see him despite not wanting to be. "I know it's him."
"We've all been fooled into believing someone was the one we loved, Kay. Only to find out it wasn't."
"I see some things never change. She's a grown woman, why don't you try letting her make her own decisions."
"You stay out of this."
"If it weren't for me, there wouldn't be a this for me to stay out of, so I think I'll pass."
As he spoke she reached for his face with her hand. He thought for a moment she was going to slap him again and prepared for the blow. He could not blame her and would take whatever abuse she dished out until he could make her understand why he had done it. Instead, there was a fleeting caress of her fingertips against his patch, just where his patch ended. His good eye drifted closed, tears forming at her gentleness. He had waited years for this. It seemed like an eternity.
"You're so beautiful, Sweetness."
He shrugged with a glance toward Bo and Lexie. He took hold of her hand sliding it from his cheek to his mouth. He pressed his lips against it, taking in the way she felt and smelled. "Is there some place we can talk?"
"I'm telling you, Kay, you shouldn't go anywhere with him. We have no idea where he's been all these years or who he's working for."
"Good to see your paranoia hasn't dampened with age."
"Shut up, Steve."
"I didn't come here to talk to you anyway." That was not really true. He had, wanting to get a visit to Bo out of the way. He knew Kayla's brother - both of them - were hyper-protective. This was just the type of scene he had been hoping to avoid by seeing Bo first. He would not have come to the hospital if he knew Kayla was here.
Steve could not blame Bo for being cautious. If he were the one in this position he would react much the same way. For all Bo knew Steve had defected and was working for the DiMera's. Steve had always walked a fine line between good and bad. Steve had met Kayla on one of his trips on the bad side. Bo knew that, but Bo had no way of knowing where Steve had been all these years.
"I promise you, Sweetness, I'll leave again if you want me to after you hear me out. I know I don't deserve even that."
"You're right, you don't."
"Could you for one minute butt out of business that isn't yours?"
"Come on, Bo, we still have details to smooth out if we're going to catch this thief," Lexie said. Bo hesitated.
"I'll be all right, Bo," Kayla said calmly. Steve was a little surprised at her reaction to all of this. Bo finally returned to Lexie's office with Lexie closing the door behind him.
His heart started hammering against the wall of his chest now that they were alone. "Will you give me a chance to explain?"
"Yes," she whispered, tears forming in her eyes.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com