A/N: Since this fic was written a long time ago, characters who are no longer on the canvas will make occasional appearances.


~ Chapter 2 ~

John burst into the Brady Pub. He nodded a greeting to Caroline and Shawn as he scanned the room, quickly locating the woman he'd come to see. Kate was sitting in her favourite booth, with two steaming mugs of coffee set on the table. As John eased on to the seat across from her, tension radiating from his every pore, he picked up a cup and downed its contents gratefully.

"John, what is it? You sounded almost frantic on the phone this morning," Kate inquired, concern for the man she still loved shining from her eyes.

"It's that so-called psychiatrist of Doc's, Alex North. He's been in my home for weeks now, and I haven't seen any improvement in her memory. If anything, it's worse than before. I'm at my wits' end. I actually threatened to throw him off the balcony the other night," John admitted, his tone rueful.

Kate reached out and covered John's hand with hers in a gesture of sympathy. Setting her face in a compassionate mask, she waited for him to continue.

"I don't know how to get rid of him. It's like he and Doc are joined at the hip. I can't spend two seconds alone with her before he's there, poking his nose where it doesn't belong, giving advice she doesn't need, and generally interfering in our relationship. The worst part is, Doc won't hear a single bad word about him. She defends him to high heaven, and she even insinuated that she'd move out if I sent him packing."

As he sipped his coffee, he gave Kate a pleading look.

"Have you got any ideas?"

Kate took a moment to marshal her thoughts before she spoke. Her mind was whirling at the possibilities the situation presented.

"There might be something you could do," she began cautiously, "but I'm not sure you'll like it."

"I'm desperate. I'll try anything."

"I think what Dr. North needs is a distraction. Someone to get his mind off Marlena – which would then leave her free for you. And I know just the person to provide it."

"Who?"

"Me, of course," she smiled, proud of the simplicity of her proposal.

"No way," John retorted instantly. "I don't want anyone else I care about getting mixed up with that quack."

He still cares!

Kate rejoiced inwardly, while endeavouring to keep the happiness from showing on her expressive face.

"You don't have to worry. I can take care of myself."

"I don't trust him. He's liable to suck you in just like he has Doc. It's too risky."

"Honestly, John, it'll be like taking candy from a baby. Give me a couple of evenings with him, and he won't be thinking about Marlena anymore. I guarantee it."

John sat quietly, weighing his options. He felt as if he was about to throw Kate to one very hungry wolf, but what other choice did he have? No decent alternatives sprang to mind.

"If you do this, it'll have to be under very controlled conditions," John insisted, determined to ensure Kate's safety.

"Of course, John, I know that."

"You have to make sure that you're always in a public place with him, never alone. And keep your phone handy, so that you can text me at the first sign of trouble."

"That's really not necessary," she demurred, somewhat bemused by his overreaction, while simultaneously touched at his evident concern.

"I won't go along with the plan unless you agree."

"Okay, we'll do it your way."

Heads bent close together, they sketched out their course of action. Kate would come to the penthouse and persuade Alex to take her to dinner, leaving Marlena home alone with John. The strategy was foolproof, they assured each other. Nothing could possibly go wrong.