Steve felt almost as shocked to see Marlena alive and well as she was to see him. Of course, he had the benefit of being prepared. She didn’t.
“Hey, Marlena,” Steve said.
Marlena stared back at him, speechless.
John grabbed her arms and made her look at him. “Doc, we need you to scream. Scream as high pitched as you can!”
She stared at him for a moment, obviously confused. Then her expression shifted, her eyes locked with John’s and she opened her mouth and let out a high pitched scream.
As they’d hoped, seconds later, the outside guard came running in, weapon drawn. Bo and Benjy leapt from their hiding places behind the door and grabbed him from behind, taking him down.
Marlena didn’t have time to question anything really but was more than curious when John started undressing the guard.
“John! What are you doing?” Marlena asked.
“Put these clothes on, Doc,” John replied, “Our idea is for you to pretend to be a guard.
Confused, Steve asked, “Why is she calling you John?”
Just then, an ear-piercing siren was heard that obviously meant the villa was alerted to their presence on the inside.
“Later, Johnson,” John replied, trying to think. Glancing at Bo, John asked, “Plan B?”
Bo nodded and they looked at Benjy who knew what to do. Together they all left the cell.
Outside of Marlena’s cell, Steve caught sight of Dimera guards running into the wing they were of the villa. He stopped Benjy and told him as much.
Benjy had promised them that if an alarm had been alerted, it wouldn’t stop them and he delivered. Following him, they discovered there was a narrow hallway off the main one. As they made their way through it, Benjy stopped them from continuing on and began punching the wall in random patters.
“Who is this guy?” Marlena asked, not certain why they were trusting a man who appeared to work for the Dimeras.
“He’s an old friend,” Steve said protectively.
Suddenly the wall opened and they were greeted with a passageway. Grinning, Benjy said, “Stefano always puts in a secret passage way for him or his family to use. That family covers me too!”
As they scrambled down the steps, Marlena still was a bit confused, “So he’s a Dimera?”
Now in the jungle, the group crouched down in the bushes as they watched guard after guard pass about a stone’s throw from their position. They had managed to make it outside right before a villa lockdown occurred where all entrances and exits were sealed off. It looked like everyone thought they were still inside.
Slowly and silently, they made their way to the place where John and Bo had hidden the raft. It only took about 30 minutes but it felt like hours. Once they got their hands on the raft, they put it in the water and piled aboard, heading the craft toward the boat they hoped was still anchored where they’d left it.
The trip to the boat took longer than expected, probably thanks to the three extra passengers. John, Bo and Steve did their best to paddle but progress was slow. They finally made it to the boat which appeared to been undiscovered and people breathed a sigh of relief when they got on board.
Immediately, Bo set course for them to return to Saba. Steve watched as Marlena and John sat down nearby, finally getting around to showing how glad they were to see each other.
Steve sat down and finally let himself think about Kayla. She was living the life of a single mother somewhere. Was she still in Salem? He was going to ask Bo but right now he was busy as were the reunited love birds. Looking to his right, Steve noticed Benjy staring back at the island they were now leaving.
Getting up, he walked over to Benjy and began signing to him.
“You okay?” Steve asked.
Benjy signed back, “Fine. It’s just when I woke up this morning I had no idea I would be finally getting my biggest wish–to get you out of there and us to leave.”
Steve patted the younger man’s shoulder. “Imagine what I thought when I woke up this morning. Sixteen years had passed and I’m old now.”
That did get a smile, though a slightly sad one from Benjy and Steve felt nearly himself again. Both men sat back down.
Marlena parted from John and smiled, “I’m so glad to see you, John.”
Hearing Marlena say John reminded Steve she said before back at the villa. Agitated, Steve asked, “Why are you calling him John?”
John sat speechless at Steve’s question. He had been so happy to have Marlena back he had forgotten this was something still left unsettled.
“He doesn’t know you aren’t Roman?” Marlena asked, but Steve’s look answered her own question.
“You aren’t Roman.” Steve repeated.
John shook his head. Bo, still at the wheel of the boat, turned to him and said, “Steve, a lot has happened in sixteen years.”
“Obviously,” Steve said, his face unreadable.
“I’ll explain, Bo,” John said. “We need you to get us out of here as quickly as possible.”
“And then to where?” Marlena asked, not having any idea where in the world she was.
“To the island of Saba,” John answered.
“Who are you?”
Marlena flinched at Steve’s accusatory tone. To be honest, she felt responsible for the entire town believing the man sitting next to her was Roman Brady for five years. To find out the truth was horrifying for everyone involved: John, Roman, and the family that loved both men.
Steve sat and listened as Roman, no John, began to tell him the story. It was too unreal. How Stefano had inserted memories into John’s mind to make him believe he really was Roman. He listened as Marlena began to explain her part. How she was obviously mistaken that John was really Roman. That upon waking up from her coma and returning to Salem, they discovered the real Roman was held captive by Stefano for many years. What this meant for everyone, including the Bradys. At the time, John loved Isabelle, the woman Steve remembered to be Marina’s sister. She hadn’t cared if he turned out to be a Dimera himself, she just known this man, whoever he was… was the man for her. Isabella’s support through the whole mess had kept John sane. Sadly she’d died from cancer and John had mourned for awhile but realized soon he never had true closure with Marlena, and eventually she left Roman for him. Somehow, through the bitterness, tragedy, misunderstandings, and outright hurt that had been caused, they were all friends now.
Steve glanced at Benjy, for the first time jealous of the younger man whose inability to hear meant he didn’t actually have to listen to any of this. “When did this happen?”
“From the time Marlena came back…”
“No, when did this happen after I…” Steve nearly choked on the last word, “died.”
“Oh,” John looked sheepish, “it wasn’t long after you died. A year maybe? A year and a half?”
“The whole time I lived, you gave me hell for seeing Kayla and now I find out I didn’t have to go through that?”
John couldn’t really read the man in front of him, so he decided to keep it light. “Hey, I’d still have given you hell knowing she wasn’t my sister. You never did deserve Kayla.”
Steve nearly returned with a comeback, but hearing Sweetness’s name he asked, “How did she take this? Your death, Marlena, affected her big time.”
“It had a rather big effect on me too, Steven,” Marlena said dryly.
“Was she okay though? She was close to Roman before and after…” Steve had to stop. Talking about Kayla like this was finally getting to him. It was like all the pain and misery of realizing that he had not been there for his family was hitting him and it was just the start of the avalanche of pain.
“Kayla was shocked just like the rest of them,” John explained. “Roman was anxious to get back home and see his family which was understandable but he just literally walked back into the house. It was a lot to take in.”
“How were you and Kayla after that?” Steve asked.
John smiled, “I will tell you that Kayla…will always be Kayla. Not long afterwards, she made sure to let me know I was still part of the family and always will be. That meant so much to me.”
Steve stared hard at the man in front of him, trying to remember his name was John. When he first came to Salem, he went by that name. “So you’re John, what? John Black?”
Steve bit his lip not sure if he should ask this question, “So, who are you? If you’re not Roman, you’re who….?”
John shrugged, “I’m not sure…we thought soon afterwards I was Forest Alamain.”
“Yes, Lawrence’s older brother who went missing when he was 5 years old. I inherited that Alamain fortune.”
“So you’re rich?” Steve asked perking up.
John and Marlena laughed, “Something like that, yeah. As for if I’m truly an Alamain, who knows. I hate the family, still use the Black name and founded my own company.”
Steve’s mouth dropped open, “You’re not a cop anymore.”
John shook his head, “Nope, I’m a private citizen now.”
Feeling overwhelmed, Steve got up, nodding his head and wiping away tears. He didn’t need to fall apart now. He had to pull himself together. He walked over to Bo and stood there while his old friend drove them away from Prison-ola Island.
“You okay, Steve?” Bo asked gently, knowing full well he wasn’t.
Shaking his head, Steve kept his voice steady as he said, “I will be. I have to be. I need… I’m going to be going home to Kayla soon.”
Bo nodded, smiling, “Right.”
“You sure she still wants me?” Steve was smiling, but Bo could hear fear in his voice.
“Oh, yeah,” Bo affirmed. “She never moved on. You coming home is going to be a shock, but it’s not like she won’t accept you.”
“Good,” Steve said, but couldn’t shake the anxiety he felt.
“It’s not like it was with me when we found out Hope was alive. I had moved on with my life with Billie and..”
“Hope’s alive?!!” Steve yelled.
Bo heard Steve’s last comment and he felt a surge of guilt rush through him.
“Oh my God, Steve,” Bo said, “I’m sorry. I had forgotten… damn.” Bo felt his hands shake and was glad he had the boat’s wheel to hold on to.
Steve didn’t have that luxury and felt as if the wind had been knocked out of him. He now realized how his companions must have felt upon seeing him alive earlier.
Sitting down near Bo, Steve thought hard about how he felt hearing that Hope was alive. To him, Hope really had just died a few months earlier, so the loss still stung. Hearing she was really alive was overwhelming to say the least, especially factoring in everything else.
Staring out over the ocean, he heard Bo begin to tell how Hope came back, but unlike Marlena and Steve, she had amnesia and was living under the name of Gina. It was several years after her death and Bo had moved on with a woman named Billie. He was really conflicted about what to do.
Bo stopped his story. “What?”
“How could you be conflicted? It’s Hope.”
“Steve, it was a complicated situation.”
Steve didn’t say anything but glared at Bo. He didn’t understand. How could Bo feel anything for this Billie chick once Sweet Thing was back?
Bo turned back to the ocean ahead. He didn’t need Steve’s glare of indignation right now. “Steve, you weren’t there.”
“I don’t want to hear that.”
“Well, you better get used to it because you are going to start hearing it a lot.”
Steve jumped up, emotions flooding him and he grabbed Bo. John had to pull Steve off him.
“Stop it, both of you!” John watched as Bo turned his back to Steve, not wanting to make eye contact while Steve began pacing on the deck.
“She’s your wife!” Steve yelled. He couldn’t see the tears in Bo’s eyes. He thought he had made peace with all of this but Steve’s reaction to hearing everything was bringing all the turmoil and guilt back to him.
“Listen, Steve,” John said through gritted teeth. He knew exactly how Bo felt. It was what he went through between Marlena and Isabelle. “You can’t blame Bo for this. It isn’t as clear cut and dried as you think! And even being there didn’t mean you would have known how he felt unless you went through the exact same thing! I was and I know! Bo really did love Billie, and Hope returning couldn’t take that away. Not to mention that at the time there was question as to whether this was really Hope and not an imposter.”
“How could anyone fake that?” Steve spat.
“You’d be surprised,” John said sadly wondering inwardly if this was really Steve or a fraud. He believed this man thought he was really Steve Johnson, but Stefano had such power over the mind that John couldn’t trust own gut telling it was.
Steve sat down as far away from Bo as he could. Steve was furious that Bo was conflicted at Hope’s return. Staring at the ocean around them, he knew his feelings were more to do with his fears of Kayla and his return than Bo and Hope. Could Kayla be conflicted? They said she hadn’t moved on but that didn’t mean she wanted him back. He never thought he was good enough for Kayla then, now he felt it applied even more.
After that, the trip back to Saba was silent. No one felt like speaking and Steve didn’t feel like asking anymore questions. Once they docked, they made a beeline to the airport and head out of the island as soon as possible. No doubt Stefano was aware they had escaped by now. Until they were safely back in the U.S., they knew they were no where near safe.
John informed them they would be flying into Miami with an extended layover. He waited on Steve to ask why they couldn’t continue on to Salem from there but he remained quiet. John was grateful. He had an idea in his head but it still needed working out so hopefully he could work out the details before they made it into Miami.
Meanwhile, Bo and Steve had kept their distance. While John was making arrangements, Bo had hung around Marlena while Steve stood near Benjy. Feeling incredibly guilty, Steve didn’t really listen to John’s plans on where they were landing. He needed to get past this issue with Bo.
As they boarded the plane, Steve took Bo aside and apologized. “I’m sorry. Roman-I mean John, is right that I don’t know what any of you went through. Besides, I need to just be damn thankful you pulled my butt out of that living cocoon. I could have spent the rest of my life there.”
Grateful for Steve making the first move, he hugged Steve as hard as he could, nearly crying. “I’m so glad you are back, Steve!”
Feeling rather awkward at hugging another man in an airport, Steve patted him on the back and chuckled. “Glad to see you’ve come out of your shell there, Beauregard.”
Bo pulled away and they laughed as they boarded the small plane.
The plane landed in Miami just after midnight. The extended layover turned out not to be as big a deal as John had worried, at least for now. They were all so tired and exhausted, trying to leave for Salem right away would have been too dangerous. They agreed John would call Marlena’s children to let them know she was safe, but Steve’s return was too complicated to get into over the phone. Steve was so tired he could hardly argue.
They quickly checked into a hotel. John and Marlena took one room while the other three men took the adjoining room, calling for a cot for Benjy to sleep on. Steve had fallen asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. It hadn’t occurred to him that in that time he was comatose, there had been no dreams, at least none he recalled. Now his subconscious began making up for lost time.
“Sweetness!” Steve whispered.
Kayla stood in front of him, as beautiful always. Walking up to her, Steve felt like they had never been separated. He was almost convinced the business near Saba had been a dream. This was reality.
Kayla was dressed in her white satin nightgown. He put his hand to her cheek. She kissed the palm and Steve felt his heart rate go up a notch. She smiled that sexy smile of hers and his heart rate really started to accelerate.
Leaning down, his mouth hovered near her lips. They looked so soft. She giggled and for some reason he couldn’t reach her mouth with his. Realizing she was holding him back, he grinned.
“You want to play like that?”
Kayla laughed and walked away, teasing him. “I don’t know what you mean.”
“Get back here,” he growled. The giggle returned and Steve went after her.
Catching her, they landed on the bed and Steve began rubbing her back and her giggling turned to purring. Swallowing Steve made sure to get a good look at her. She was so beautiful. Leaning down he began to kiss her throat. He worked his way to her nape and her hands encircled his head. He began to moan.
“Kayla,” he said quietly.
“Zack!” yelled a male voice.
Steve woke hearing Bo scream. It took him a minute to realize he wasn’t with Kayla after all but in a hotel room with Bo and Benjy. Bo was in the other bed obviously having a nightmare. Benjy, sound asleep on the other side of the room kept snoring away.
Steve jumped up and shook Bo awake. What was wrong with him? Who was this Zack?
“Bo! Wake up, man!” Steve shook his friend awake.
Steve watched as Bo became aware of his surroundings. It looked like Bo had been crying.
“I’m fine, leave me alone.” Bo said while sitting up, facing away from Steve.
Steve was hardly convinced. “Who’s Zack?”
Bo turned around, staring at Steve, “What?”
“You were calling out Zack in your sleep. Who is he?”
Steve saw the tears form in his friend’s eyes and Steve felt so foolish. Here sat one of his best friends and he had no idea what was going on.
“Zack was my son.”
Steve blinked a second to comprehend what Bo said. A wave of cold swept over him at Bo’s choice of words. “Was?”
Bo shook his head, knowing he couldn’t talk about it but at the same time he was driven to. “Hope and I had another son, Zack. He was five years old. He was…”
Steve had a tear in his eye watching his friend try to get control of himself.
Bo continued, his voice still cracking, “He was killed after a car struck him. It happened right after the new year this year.”
“Oh my God,” Steve said. “I’m so sorry. I… man, I know saying sorry doesn’t cover it but… ”
Bo smiled and looked back at Steve, “No, thanks man. It helps a little.”
“How is Hope?” Steve asked innocently. He was shocked at the look of anguish that crossed Bo’s face.
“Not good,” Bo said, “she’s not good. We aren’t good. Steve, um, Hope and I are separated right now because of this… ”
“Why?” Steve asked before he could stop himself. “This is when the two of you guys need each other more than ever!”
Bo stared at Steve for a beat then chuckled.
Confused, Steve asked, “What’s so funny?”
Bo shook his head, “Because, that’s pretty much what Kayla said to me after the funeral.”
Steve opened his mouth at this but shut it pretty fast. He didn’t know what to think but he did know his heart leaped in his chest hoping that Kayla hadn’t changed. She was still his Sweetness.
“Well, it’s true!” Steve finally returned.
Both men smiled. Steve wanted to ask more but he could tell that Bo wasn’t ready to talk about it. Hearing John at the door let them put the subject aside for now.
Steve opened the door and John strutted in. Steve had to laugh out loud at John now. The taller man noticed this and asked, “What’s so funny?”
Steve shrugged, “You look relaxed. Very relaxed.”
“Johnson, just shut your… ”
“What can we do for you, John?” Bo interrupted.
John reminded them of the time and both men were surprised it was already time to get up.
Steve stirred Benjy awake and then he walked into the bathroom, “Well, I’m going to take my shower now unless you mind?”
Bo and Benjy both shook their heads no.
When the shower started going, John took Benjy by the arm so that he would face him. He then said, “Okay, I need to talk to the both of you.”
Not noticing how secretive John was acting, Bo thought he was merely laying out their travel plans for the day. “When are we leaving to go to Salem?”
“We aren’t,” John replied.
Confused, Bo asked, “We aren’t what?”
“We aren’t leaving for Salem, at least for a couple of days.”
“What… what are you talking about?” Bo said, feeling himself start to boil.
“We’re not going back to Salem yet… not until we are sure,” John said firmly.
“Sure about what?” Bo asked. Off of John’s look, he realized he still had his doubts about Steve’s identity. “Oh my God, you’re still questioning if Steve is Steve?”
John needed Bo to stay calm, he didn’t want Steve to hear. “Please, I spoke to Doc about this last night and we agreed…”
“You agreed!” Bo said loudly and John tried to shush him. “How could she possibly know anything about Steve, she barely knows him!”
Taking Bo’s arm, John said, “We need to talk about this so Steve can’t hear.”
“But you just called him Steve! You must believe…”
“Dammit, it’s not a matter of believing it’s a matter of knowing!”
Bo stood up and stomped away, he had tears in his eyes. Behind him, he heard John tell Benjy to stay in the hotel room with Steve so he, Bo and Marlena could talk in the next room. Also Benjy must not tell Steve what they want to do and maybe take him down to get breakfast. Benjy must have agreed because immediately because John walked by Bo and told him to follow him.
They went next door to John and Marlena’s room using the adjoining door that connected both rooms as Marlena let them in to the other side. Bo glared at her, he was so angry at them for doubting. Who did they think they were?
“I see John told you our plan?” Marlena asked.
“He told me you both don’t think this is Steve!”
The look that passed between John and Marlena infuriated Bo more. How dare they?
John said, “Bo, if you would just listen, we just want to stall going to Salem until we can prove this is really Steve Johnson.”
Bo laughed, “How do you propose to do that?”
“A DNA test.”
Bo blinked, they really had discussed this. “DNA tests require something to compare it to.”
“We know. We thought… we thought about either Stephanie or…”
“Oh, so we’re still calling Kayla!” Bo said feeling relief wash over him. “Frankly, that was just my biggest worry. As long as she knows…”
“No,” John said, “she’s the last person we need to call.”
“Why?” Bo asked, his anger returning.
“Because, Bo, Kayla has been in mourning over Steve since he died! To tell her he is back and then find out he isn’t Steve is probably the cruelest thing we could do, and I’m not willing to let her get hurt…”
“Steve is back!” Bo yelled.
“We don’t know that!” John said. Now at a stalemate, both men turned their backs on each other leaving Marlena to intercede.
“Bo, Stefano is perfectly capable of making us believe whatever he likes.”
Bo shook his head with tears forming again. Speaking calmer, he said, “Marlena, do you really think that Stefano would have Benjy taking care of this man all this time, and he not be Steve.”
“Stefano is capable of anything, Bo,” Marlena said, feeling teary-eyed herself, “and he wants his children nearby at all costs. Tricking Benjy into believing he was taking care of a man who really isn’t Steve would mean nothing to him as long as it kept Benjy in place.”
“But when he woke up he’s Steve! He knows what Steve knows!”
John walked up besides Bo and said, “I think this person does believe 100% he is Steve Johnson but what does that prove? Nothing. I believed 100% I was Roman Brady.”
Bo glanced at John and saw the anguish on his friend’s face. John continued, “Can you imagine what our lives would be like now if we could have run DNA back then? All the heartache that was caused when the truth finally did come out might have been avoided.”
“But,” Bo said, “he’s Steve. I know he is.”
“Did you doubt I was Roman?”
Bo walked to the window and felt very depressed. “So what do you intend to do? We need Stephanie’s hair or something… ”
“Not Stephanie,” Marlena interrupted. “We could use Jack in Salem since he returned recently, back from the dead himself but I think it would easily get leaked. I was thinking more about Adrienne.”
“Yes, she lives in LA with Kayla. They are still very good friends. A match with Adrienne’s hair to Steve’s hair would show them as siblings.”
“Adrienne was devastated when Steve died. If it winds up not being him… ”
“She will be devastated again, but she will understand about protecting Kayla… as well as Stephanie. Plus she is more used to her brothers coming back from the dead.”
Bo smiled thinking of his niece. She was so much like Steve. “Stephanie. Kayla would tell her…”
John nodded, “All I want is to make sure this is really Steve Johnson before I turn Kayla’s life upside down. Bo, she might not be my sister, but I still love her like one.”
Bo nodded, “I know you do, John.”
Taking a breath, John asked, “So do you agree to this plan?”
“Yes, I guess I have to,” Bo reluctantly nodded.
“Good, I’ll need your help; especially getting more hair from him. I think we can talk him into going to a barber and getting a better haircut. We’ll then courier it over to LA for the DNA tests. I’m going to fly it out as quickly as possible.”
“Can’t we just ask Steve?”
“No, we can’t tell him any of this!”
Again, Bo’s anger returned, “Why not? The man deserved to know what we are doing… ”
“He does but we need this done quickly, I think… ” John had to smile actually, “I think he’s going to be angry and upset and stall before he eventually accepts. I know the real Steve Johnson would. The problem is if this guy is only pretending to be Steve, then he would stall as well. This is the best way… ”
“You don’t believe that this guy is only pretending…” Bo said.
“Actually no, but it’s still possible.”
Bo glared at John but finally nodded. Right then someone knocked on the door and John called out. It was Steve asking why don’t they all go down to breakfast. John looked at Marlena while he said, “Okay, we’re heading down.”
John gave Marlena a quick kiss and said, “Make the call, I’ll tell him you are calling our kids.”
Bo followed John to the door and muttered, “Agreeing to this doesn’t mean I like it.”
Marlena watched them go out the door and went to the hotel telephone. She began dialing. They didn’t know Adrienne’s number and she honestly believed this type of news to someone who had been so close to Steve should be done in person. So she dialed another person who lived in LA and knew Adrienne though not as well as Kayla.
The phone rang and woman’s voice answered, “Hello?”
Marlena said, “Kimberly? It’s Marlena!”