Chapter 1

Northern Ontario, Canada

The snow crunched beneath her feet when she came out into the clearing.

She saw her breath in front of her each time she exhaled, while slowly making her way across the open space. The snow was deeper here and as a result, it slowed her down, making her trek towards the cabin sluggish and laborious. The fact that she carried several logs on her back didn't help.

"I should have worn the snowshoes," she realized in hindsight. "My own fault."

The tired, grey Siberian husky that walked alongside her, barked in agreement.

"You didn't have to agree that quickly," she mumbled back to the dog. Because of his age, the dog struggled even more than she did. "Don't look at me like that," she told him unable to hold back a grin, "I tried to get you to stay back at the cabin but you insisted…"

She saw a faint outline of the familar log cabin in the distance, a small plume of smoke coming out of its chimney. It wasn't much further now.

She stopped and closed her eyes for a moment, and when she did an image suddenly came to her. It was the same image that had flooded her mind less than a week ago. A young, dark haired girl running along a pier, towards her. Holding out her arms and crying out to her:

"Mommy!"

"Robin!"

She slumped her shoulders, dropped her pack and fell to her knees. Just as it was a few days ago, the precious, fleeting image came with a price. An unbearably sharp pain pierced her skull and she moved her hands to the sides of her head, as if the futile gesture would somehow lessen it.

She groaned, on her knees, in the frozen clearing, but she made no efforts to block out the image. She wanted to see it.

More than that, she desperately wanted to remember.

As the pain intensified, the girl started to fade, making her cry out for her, in angry frustration.

"Please don't go…not again."

Last time, the pain had slowly subsided as the image departed from her mind, but this time it was merciless, continuing long after the girl was gone.

This time, it was too strong. Even for her.

She felt her face hit the ice-cold snow.

And then she felt nothing at all.

The old dog jumped around her, trying to nudge her awake, tugging relentlessly at her nylon jacket. When his efforts failed, he started barking. A loud wailing sound that reflected his fear when he saw her lying in the snow, silent and unmoving.

When even that didn't work, he finally, reluctantly, left her and went in search of help.

Pine Valley Hospital, Pine Valley, PA

Robin Scorpio rubbed her eyes, as she walked down the hospital corridor. She was exhausted to the point where her eyes were starting to close on their own. Another doctor had called in sick at the last minute, and as a result, she had ended up working an extra eight hours.

'A nap first,' she thought to herself. 'Then I can attempt the drive back to Wildwind.'

She'd been working at PVH's Emergency Room for less than a month because Alex had convinced her to take the summer off to get to know her new family in Pine Valley. 'And what a family they are,' she thought, remembering the hot, lazy summer days she had spent at Wildwind with Alex, Max, Dimitri, Edmund and his wife Brooke and their kids, and dear, eccentric old Eugenia. After a month at Wildwind, Robin had even gotten Alex to work up the nerve to make the trip to Port Charles with her.

"There are so many people that want to meet you," Robin had told her. "Especially my uncle Mac. If you don't relent soon, they're all going to give up and come here to see you."

Alex always seemed to have a reason as to why she couldn't go. Whether it was work, or Max or Dimitri.

"You're my aunt, my mom's sister, you cannot not meet my family!" Robin had told her one afternoon, exasperated, "Besides, you promised me, remember?"

"What if I'm not what they expect?" Alex had then asked, finally bringing to light the real reason for her endless excuses.

Robin had looked at her in amazement then. She admired Alex as much as she'd grown to love her, and she couldn't think of anyone in the world who had less reason to have an inferiority complex. The fact that she did spoke volumes of the lasting hold that Charlotte Devane, even in death, still had on her daughter, even if Alex would never admit to it. It had also made Robin laugh, 'You won't believe this, Mom, but I think your genius twin sister is sort of intimidated by you...'

"Alex they're going to love you. You and Max both. No one's expecting you to be my Mom, even if you do look exactly like her."

Finally, in spite of Alex's trepidation, the three of them had made the trip to Port Charles and it had been a bigger success than even Robin could have hoped. Mac and his easy charm had made her aunt feel immediately at home and as Robin knew they would, everyone, from Maxie to Bobbie, absolutely adored Max.

They had shared a lot of meals, as well as laughter and tears as they relived her parents' past through Mac's stories. 'Mac's highly embellished stories,' Robin thought with a grin. The memory made her smile now.

She turned the key in the door of Alex's office and glanced at its dark, quiet interior, 'It's not fair that Mom and Dad never got a chance to meet you,' she thought tiredly. 'It's all so damn unfair.'

Robin closed the door behind her not bothering to turn on the light. Normally she would have gone down to the resident lounge to nap, but then she remembered the large grey, couch that was in her aunt's office. She also knew that Alex wouldn't be in today. It was the perfect place for a quiet nap. Robin knew that Alex shared the office with another doctor. She couldn't remember his name, only that he was a Cardiologist, who helped her run the Andrassy Foundation. Alex had mentioned that he would be away for most of the summer, at native reservation in Canada. Robin hadn't met him yet.

'So for the time being, this is probably the most tranquil spot in the entire hospital,' she thought as she lay down on the soft, large couch.

She was asleep in seconds.

One hour later

David Hayward made his way towards his office, realizing he looked as out of place as he felt. He was wearing a thick, chequered lumberjack shirt and a pair of work boots.

He had stepped off a plane from Bison River less than an hour ago, dropping off Josie at home and realizing he had a file folder of papers in his office he needed to fax to the reservation's medical clinic.

"I'm going to drive to PVH and pick up the papers for Tina, and then I'll come right back," he had told his adopted daughter. 'And then I should call Alex,' he decided. Since she no longer lived alone in London, he had called her less frequently these days, and oddly enough, he found himself missing their friendship. ' I've also been shirking my responsibilities at the Foundation,' he thought. Alex had virtually run it on her own for the entire summer while he had been up north, at his daughter's birthplace.

"But at least I can now say I've tanned a moose hide and hunted for muskrat," he mumbled to himself, grinning, as he opened the door to his office.

The very first thing he saw was a young woman asleep on his couch.

She wore a white lab coat and he saw her physician's ID badge on it. Even so she looked more like a high school student, barely old enough to hold a driver's license. She was sleeping peacefully and David had to admit she was beautiful, and he wondered what her eyes would look like once she opened them.

Even so, her unexpected presence annoyed him. He was tired and jet lagged and the last thing he wanted was to deal with a cheeky, lazy intern who had the nerve to break into his office.

"Hey!" He nudged her and the woman jerked awake, rubbing her eyes in the bright light of the office.

"What do you think this is? A motel? This is a private office and if you don't make your way out of it right now, I'll report you to your supervising physician."

"Who are you?" she asked him sleepily, staring at his outdoorsy attire. He also thought he saw a trace of anger in her delicate features.

"Who am I you ask me? I'll tell you who I am, I'm the person whose office you decided to break into…"

The young woman stared at him in disbelief, "Break into?"

"Look, if you don't make your way of here right now, I'll not only notify your supervising physician but hospital security as well, to make sure this goes on your permanent record."

"Excuse me?" This time there was no mistaking the anger that was written all over her face.

David observed her with impatience, "Well, what are you waiting for? Did I not make myself sufficiently clear? Do I really have to pick up the phone and call security? I don't know where you've worked before coming to PVH, but at this hospital the offices of supervising physicians are not personal lounges for whoever might need a nap away from the other interns…"

The young doctor took a deep breath before interrupting him mid-sentence, "First of all, I did not break into this office. Not that you merit any sort of explanation after jerking me awake and not even pausing long enough to ask me my name before deciding you needed an outlet for your obviously pent up frustrations, whatever the hell they may be…"

David in turn, cut her off, as quickly as she had cut him off. "Do you have any idea who you're talking to? Because I'll give you one last chance to get out of here, right now, before your attitude does some serious damage to your medical career."

"I've dealt with a lot of arrogance and condescension during my time as a doctor," she seethed. "So I hope you're not deluding yourself into thinking that you're intimidating me in any way…"

This time her sentence wasn't cut short, by David, but by the sound of a door opening.

It was Alex who walked through it, looking first at the young woman and then at David.

David saw her smile at the woman, before walking over to give him a fierce, unabashed hug, thoroughly happy to see him.

"Hey there lumberjack, welcome back! How's your beautiful girl? I've missed you around here…and I've definitely missed another body to help with all this paperwork."

Her gaze turned back to the young woman, and she seemed blissfully ignorant of the tense silence between them.

" I also see you've met my niece. That's great… I won't have to make any introductions then."