[a/n] I originally wrote this story in (thinks) January 2002 as a challenge to write a fic with the beginning sentence as the one I have.  It was in the middle of the Julian hired thugs to kill Sheridan in Bermuda story, hence the subject discussed in the fic.  Hope you enjoy.  The usual disclaimers apply.  I'm not affiliated with NBC or with Passions, and I don't own the characters, except perhaps the Eastern-European Nanny. 

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A Dark Winter's Night

His gasp filled the room as the door slammed open and an angry form appeared. In utter shock he watched as the person lifted a finger into his direction and shouted, "Liar!  Betrayer!  Murderer!" 

Julian Crane cowered under his sheets, the blanket pulled up to his neck to avert the angry form.  "B-but Mother!" he stammered at the vision. 

            "You broke your promise to me, Julian," the ghost intoned in an angry voice. 

            "I can explain, Mother!" Julian cried. 

            "You promised me you would keep her safe!  You promised me you would protect her!  You promised me that you would keep her out of Alistair's clutches!  You promised me you would keep her away from his schemes!  You lied, Julian!  You betrayed me!  You killed your own sister!"

            With a panicked scream, Julian sat up in bed, his face and silk pajamas drenched in sweat.  "Thank God it was just a dream," he laughed to himself.  Rebecca Hotchkiss, his lover, slept quietly at his side.  She seemed oblivious to the nightmare that Julian just experienced.  Julian patted her cheek and crawled out of bed to cool down and change his wet pajamas.  Passing the window, he looked out over the wintry scene.  Another ghost walked the grounds of the Crane estate.  Julian would know the figure anywhere.  It was the figure he had killed months ago.  Grabbing a robe and a pair of slippers, Julian left his bedroom and crept out into the night, shivering in the wintry chill. 

            The ghost was still there, waiting in the gazebo.  "Sh-sheridan?" he stammered, breathing into his hands to warm them up. 

            The ghost turned around.  "Julian!" she accused.  "You tried to kill me!  I know all about it now.  The wedding ring you poisoned.  That's the real reason you wanted Luis and I to get married so fast, isn't it?"

            "Well, yes, but…" Julian started. 

            "Shut up, Julian!" Sheridan replied, anger giving her power and authority over her older brother.  "I know about the boat too.  You arranged for the bomb.  Well, I survived, Julian, and I'm going to go to the police, and tell them all about it."

            "I-I didn't," Julian protested, "You wouldn't!  Dear sister, I would never want to do anything to harm you!"  He held out his arms in a welcoming manner. 

            "You wouldn't?" Sheridan asked, sounding like a small child. 

            "Of course not," Julian said, his voice filled with as much charm he could muster. 

            Sheridan's arms opened as well, and she walked into his embrace.

            Julian felt her cold hand encircle his neck.  "Die, you liar!" Sheridan shrieked into the night air. 

            Julian could feel the life leaving his body, the light-headedness from lack of oxygen, the darkness at the edge of his vision. 

            With a primal scream, he broke free of Sheridan's claws and sat bolt upright in bed, panting for air and drenched in his own sweat.  Next to him on the bed, Rebecca Hotchkiss, his lover, slept peacefully, unaware of Julian's nightmare.  Julian mopped his damp forehead with a corner of the sheet, patted Rebecca's cheek and crawled out of bed to cool down and change his wet pajamas.  Passing the window, he looked out over the wintry scene.  There were no more ghosts waiting to accuse him of murder.  He opened a drawer to get a change in bedclothes, when the door to his bedroom opened. 

            "No, no, no, JuJu," said a large Eastern-European woman in heavily accented English.  "You wait here, I will get you new clothes."

            Julian stared at his nanny.  He was old enough to be a grandfather, yet the figure of torment from his childhood still bent over, finding his pajamas.  "I hope you were a good boy this year, JuJu," his nanny muttered as she fished in his drawers.  "You know what happens if you were a bad boy.  All the spirits of the bad things you've done through the year will come back to haunt you.  Aha!" she said, straightening and holding up a pair of footed pajamas.  "In you go!  We can't have Little JuJu catching cold.  Your Father would be very displeased." 

            In seconds, with ruthless efficiency, his nanny had him stripped and into the footed pajamas.  It wasn't Julian's favorite way to be undressed by a woman, but the pajamas were dry.  "What are you doing here, Nanny?" he demanded.  "I am Julian Crane, and I am master of this house!"

            The nanny came over and pinched his cheeks like he was a child.  "You always were a good little baby, my little JuJu" she said.  "Now be a good boy and hop into bed.  Your Mother will come in to wish you goodnight."

            "She already came," Julian muttered, but his nanny efficiently shuffled him into bed and tucked the sheets up to his chin. 

"Now if you don't fall asleep quickly, Baba Yaga will come and get you and eat you up!" she said as a warning as she left the room. 

As always when she left that warning, Julian could never sleep.  His eyes stayed open and he stared at the window for he was sure Baba Yaga would come in through the window to come and eat him.  Sure enough, the old crone came, her golden curls dripping down the side of her face, curling down her back.  Climbing up after her, was her little doll. 

            "What do you think Tim-Tim?" the witch asked. "Do you think he will taste good in the soup?"

            The little doll walked over and pinched Julian in several places.  "Timmy doesn't know, Tabby, he looks a bit old."

            "He's not as old as I am, Tim-Tim," the witch laughed.  "Come on, he's the best one we'll get all night."

            "But he's too big for Timmy and Tabby to carry him!" the doll protested. 

            "Then we'll just have to hack him up here!" the witch answered and produced a pair of large axes.  "Chop-chop Timmy, we don't have all night!"  The witch laughed at her own pun. 

            With horror, Julian watched as the axe descended. 

            Screaming in terror, Julian sat bolt upright in bed, panting to catch his breath.  His pajamas were soaked through with sweat.  Next to him on the bed, Rebecca Hotchkiss, his lover, slept peacefully, unaware of Julian's nightmare.  Julian mopped his damp forehead with a corner of the sheet, patted Rebecca's cheek and crawled out of bed to cool down and change his wet pajamas.  Passing the window, he looked out over the wintry scene.  There were no more ghosts waiting to accuse him of murder and no old crones out to chop him up and eat him in soup.  He bent over to retrieve a fresh set of bedclothes when his bedroom door opened.  Sam Bennett and Luis Lopez-Fitzgerald burst in, both dressed in uniform, both bracing their pistols on their arms. 

            "Target practice!" Sam Bennett shouted, and the two police officers opened fire. 

            Julian felt each of the bullets sear into his flesh.  He moaned and writhed in agony, slowly bleeding to death in his own bedroom, dressed in sweat-drenched pajamas. 

            Julian sat bold upright in bed, shivering with cold, drenched in an icy glass of water.  "Wake up, Julian," his wife, Ivy, spat.  "I could hear you from my room."

            Julian looked around his room.  No one shared his bed.  "Where's Rebecca?" he stammered. 

            "I think you were staring too far down her cleavage last night at Ethan and Gwen's engagement party," Ivy snapped. 

            "That was last night?" Julian asked, his eyes wide with panic.  "Then Sheridan's alive?  And Ethan's my son?  And you?  YOU!" he roared.  "You had an affair with Sam Bennett!"

            Ivy rolled her eyes and laughed.  "What are you talking about, Julian?"

            "You had an affair with Sam Bennett!" Julian shouted again.  "And Ethan was his son!"

            "Julian, you had a nightmare," she said flatly. 

            "Oh, it was terrible," he whined, reaching for his frigid wife.  "Mother was there, and Sheridan tried to kill me and Nanny came and Tabitha and her little doll were going to chop me to bits and eat me in soup.  And then Sam Bennett and Luis Lopez-Fitzgerald came and they were shooting me."  He caught Ivy by the side of the bed and pressed his face into her bosom. 

            "Pity none of them succeeded," Ivy said sweetly, pushing Julian away and tightening her robe. 

            "It was terrible, Ivy," he whimpered, pouting, trying to entice her. 

            "You might as well get up, Julian," she replied, immune to his acting.  "Ethan and Gwen are getting married today."

            "What about Theresa?" Julian wondered aloud. 

            "Pliar's daughter?  What about her?" Ivy demanded, "Have you got your eye on her now?  Your ex-maid wasn't enough?"

            "B-but Ethan left Gwen for Theresa."

            "Ethan doesn't even KNOW Theresa."

            "She's not Gwen's Maid of Honor?"

            Ivy snorted.  "You must have hit your head on something when you passed out last night.  Sheridan is Gwen's Maid of Honor.  You do remember your sister, don't you, Julian?"

            "Of course I remember Sheridan," Julian shot back, but changed his tone.  "Comfort me, Ivy?" he pouted.  "It was a terrible nightmare."

            "Not today, Julian, I have to wash my hair."

            Julian leaned over the bed to catch a hold of Ivy, but ended up falling towards the floor. 

            As the ground rushed up to meet him, Julian sat upright in bed, covered in sweat, breathing heavily.  "What a nightmare," he mumbled to himself, looking down at his wife, who rolled over and blinked at him.  "Comfort me, my pet," Julian pouted, squirming down so he could lay his head on his wife's bosom. 

            Theresa Lopez-Fitzgerald Crane sighed, patted his head, and fell back asleep.