It was late, Laura noted, wondering if Luke was going to relent and return home. Upstairs, Lulu was beginning to whimper as she settled down for the night, and Laura began to consider doing the same. Not the whimpering, she smiled, but the settling down. It wasn't as if she and Luke hadn't fought in the past, but that was before he'd learned a few truths about the special relationship she'd shared with Stefan, one that had been complicated briefly by Kathryn. At least that complication had been eliminated Laura mused. Still, there was one other woman in their lives who could make things difficult for them all, and that woman would ultimately be Laura's most formidable foe.

Laura pulled a cellular phone out of her purse and quickly punched in a series of numbers. "Hello, darling. Yes, I'm fine. You? Great.....A few slight complications, but nothing that we can't resolve. She is? You're certain? Interesting..... Yes, I believe that you should look into that. On Spoon Island tonight? I see. That could pose problems if anybody talks. No, I don't think that they will-this is too private an affair to be revealed. We have a few days, probably, before this comes out. Time to make our move..... I agree......She is our biggest problem, but she's also our biggest ally, whether she knows it or not. Luke? Oh, he'll come around, but it will probably take a little more doing this time. He's really angry with me....Stefan? He's angry, too, as are the boys, but that's nothing more than we anticipated. No, I don't think that Luke will come home tonight...he'll probably spend the night at his club." She laughed softly, a low, sultry tone that promised sensual delights. "You do have a key...."

"Why didn't you tell him about ....her?" Lucky asked as the boys disembarked from the launch that returned them to the mainland. Their departure had been against Stefan's wishes, but they'd left, anyhow. "It isn't as if we can keep this a secret forever."

Nikolas gave Lucky a wry look. "What immediate benefit is there to tell everybody? I don't know what the statute of limitations on rape is, nor do I believe that Laura would have him prosecuted anyway, so what's the point? Besides, I want the police to spend their time solving Kathryn's murder, not worrying about Luke."

"I mean about us. About who we might be."

"Might, Lucky. Might. I've been doing a little more thinking about all of this, and I'm not ready to accept Laura's words as gospel truth. Damnit, Lucky. What if she's just playing head games with us?"

"What if she's not? Before this, I've always trusted her, and until you showed up, I'd never had reason to doubt her."

"Considering that I'm older than you are, that I didn't just spring into being when I arrived in Port Charles, I wouldn't hang too much on that trust."

"But you just said that you weren't sure that she was telling the truth about us to Stefan."

Nikolas shook his head in disgust. "I'm not sure what I believe anymore, and I'm not certain that it makes any difference. The fact that Stefan ever thought that I was his son tells me more than I want to know or believe about him and Laura."

"I know the feeling," Lucky agreed. "Ever since I found out about the rape and that Laura still wanted to be with Luke, I've felt a little sick to my stomach. Knowing that I may be Stefan's son is one of those good news/bad news things. The good news is that I may not be the son of a rapist. The bad news is that I may be the son of a Cassadine who slept with his brother's wife and tries, every now and then, to take over the world."

"At least you have had someone identified as your father," Nikolas said. "I don't have any idea who mine might be."

"We could ask her."

Both boys exchanged incredulous glances at this obviously silly idea and laughed out loud. "That's a good one," Nikolas chuckled when they had stopped laughing. "Like we could believe anything that she says."

At that, Lucky paused. "You know, Nikolas, this is really weird. It's almost like she's become someone else, or like I never really knew her."

"I guess it comes as less a surprise to me," Nikolas told him, feeling an odd feeling of camaraderie with Lucky. "After all, she left me behind and never told your family about me until her hand was forced. Then, she faked her death, and didn't tell my family."

"That was Luke's idea," Lucky told him. "Laura was so concerned about our grandmother that she went along with his ideas. She didn't like it, though. She said that it was like a betrayal to our friends and family."

"So your family has taught you to lie in the past."

"You could put it that way," Lucky nodded, thoughtfully. "They had always made it sound like we had to do it to protect our family because somebody was after us."

"Was anybody?"

"Frank Smith was, for a while. Luke killed him in Mexico-it was either that or Frank would have killed someone else. He's always been a little paranoid about the Cassadines, though. Something about a weather-control machine and Mikkos getting killed. I'm not really clear on all the details."

"Nor am I, but I was assured that Luke was responsible for the death of Stavros, who was supposedly my father."

"I was told that Stavros was trying to rape Laura when Luke got free and Stavros ended up falling down the stairs and getting killed that way."

"If that version is correct, then I'm glad that Stavros isn't supposed to be my father. He sounds like a swine."

"I take it that you were told that Luke killed him in cold blood?"

"Something like that." Nikolas shrugged. "After hearing Stefan confessing that his family had mistreated Laura, and knowing that he regards Helena as evil walking, I'm more inclined to believe Luke's version."

"Is there anybody besides Bobbie that we can depend on to give us straight answers?" Lucky wondered. "I hate not knowing."

"You know, I just had an idea. Laura had no idea that anybody but Stefan was listening when she told him all that Kathryn and I overheard. She had to have been trying to hurt Stefan, and she'd have known that her words would bring Luke and Stefan together in anger. She had to know that Stefan would try to find the truth about whether or not you were his son and that if true, he'd try to claim you. She had to know that. Evidently, the secret that he was holding over her was that she believed that he might be my father."

"But you already said that he had to know that he wasn't your father because of the blood tests and all for the bone marrow donation."

"True, but maybe the secret was that he knew that Lulu wasn't a Spencer, either."

"I think that I have a headache," Lucky commented. "All this time I thought that my mother was a saint, when she's anything but. Enough about them for now. Where are you staying tonight?"

"I was considering asking Bobbie if she'd allow me to stay at her place."

"I was thinking the same thing. I can't go back...there."

"I understand. Do you think that there's enough room for both of us?"

"No problem," Lucky answered. "There's a furnished attic apartment that's not in use at present. I'm sure she won't mind if we use it."

"You don't mind if I'm there?" Nikolas asked.

Lucky regarded his half-brother thoughtfully. "Like you said earlier, we're both in the same boat. As long as we're rowing together, I can't see a problem."


"And as long as you promise not to lie to me-I want the truth no matter how lousy it is."

"Same here."

"And I don't want you to neglect to tell me something because you think it might hurt me. That's the same as a lie in my book just now."

"I can handle that. I want the same treatment. Even if you find out that my father was some traveling salesman, I want to know."

"And we're going to get through this together, and pull Lulu through it, too." Lucky extended his hand to Nikolas. "Truce?"

"No," Nikolas said. "Peace. I'm sick of fighting battles that aren't mine, Lucky. I refuse to consider you my enemy any more. Either we declare 'peace' or I'll find somewhere else to stay. I'll watch your back, but I want to be able to believe that you'll watch mine. Damnation, Lucky, we're brothers by blood, and now, by circumstance. I want to be brothers by choice."

Lucky stopped under the streetlight and regarded Nikolas thoughtfully. "You want to be my brother?"

"Yes," Nikolas told him. "All the other choices for me were made by others, at their convenience, to suit their purposes. This choice is mine. I don't know why I trust you, Lucky, but I do."

Once more, Lucky extended his hand. "Then, we're brothers, Nikolas. By choice."

"I vote that we bust the Cassadine kid," Taggert said as he and Garcia left the dock to head back to their cars. "I think that Cassadine knows more than he's telling, and that he and Spencer are hiding something.

"We don't have a case," Garcia pointed out. "All we have is a little bit of circumstantial evidence."

"We have his medallion, and we know by his own word that he was in the park at the right time."

"He said that he gave her the medallion. Gave. The clasp isn't broken like it might have been if she'd pulled it off her attacker." Garcia sighed. "But I agree with you that they were hiding something, and anything that has the Cassadines and the Spencers cooperating is big."

"That means that Laura Spencer is involved," Taggert deduced. "Something tells me that Kat told Luke that his old lady spent last night with Stefan and that royally pi$$ed Luke off. Maybe he tried to kill Kat before she could tell anybody else. Look, I know what you said about not thinking that Luke could do that, but I'm not so sure.

"You know, I've wanted to bust Luke Spencer for a long time. Back when he'd faked his wife's death, when we almost had Sonny Corinthos-man I wanted that so much I could taste it. Now, we have him finding a body in the park, and the only person who can give him an alibi is Lucy Coe."

"According to the guy who pilots the launch, Stefan was on the island at the time of the killing, and Nikolas wasn't. Luke was at the scene of the crime." Garcia paused, thoughtfully. "You know, I wonder why Lucy was so insistent on giving Luke an alibi."

"All the more reason to bust Nikolas, heir to the Cassadine throne and watch as Stefan scrambles to save his precious nephew. He isn't leaving as we pulled their passports, and we both know that he'd rather feed Luke to the alligators than watch Nikolas spend so much as an hour in jail."

"So you really think that Luke did it?" Garcia was skeptical. "That he killed Kathryn because she was going to spread it around that Laura was with Stefan?"

Taggert smiled. "We've got motive-Laura spent last night on Spoon Island and Luke didn't want anybody to know about it. We've got opportunity. Luke was in the park at the same time as Kat. Hell, we even have probability. People in Luke's club heard what she said about dirty laundry and him about killing the messenger. This is a beautiful set-up."

"Exactly," Garcia observed. "But, by whom and for what purpose? Who wants to turn Luke Spencer into the sacrificial lamb?"