I hate funerals," Lucky remarked to Nikolas who was trying not to cry. In spite of his best efforts, his eyes moistened with tears at the still raw memory of Kathryn Bell.

"I doubt if anybody likes them," he countered, blinking back the evidence of his feelings. "I hate crying."

"Don’t sweat it, man. I won’t tell anybody. I mean, hey, you liked Kat. She treated you like a human being, not a Cassadine. That’s got to count for something."

"Did you know that she really didn’t have any family? That she was the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy man and his cook? The man never acknowledged her, but Kathryn’s mother told her that it was true? Did you know that she had to watch her half-sister do all the things that the daughter of a wealthy, socially prominent man did, while she lived on hand-me-downs?"

"She was Dominique’s half-sister, Scotty Baldwin’s, who was Laura’s first husband, late wife. Yeah, I knew all of that."

"Did you know that she always felt that she wasn’t good enough? That only recently had she come to terms with her childhood, with the memory of her mother? She was always in competition with someone, always trying to be first with someone, but she had only just learned that she had to be first with herself before she could be first with someone else? You know, like in that passage in the Bible—"Love thy neighbor" and too many people forget the rest of the verse..."AS THYSELF". She’d only just learned that she had to love herself, all of herself, before she could expect for anybody to truly love her back." He smiled ruefully. "Oh, she wasn’t perfect. She was so angry with Stefan after finding him with Laura that she wanted to hurt him, and that’s why she went to Luke. She told me that she regretted hurting the innocent—and she meant you and me—but that she couldn’t take it back."

"I’m glad that she did," Lucky told him. "I’m tired of living a lie. I won’t do that again. Not ever."

"Nor will I." The teens looked around at the people filing out of the chapel, some with tears falling, some dry eyed, but all wondering who had killed Kathryn.

"Do you think that we should talk with Garcia and Taggert about what we know?"

"You mean about Laura and Stefan?" Nikolas thought about that for a few seconds. "I’m not sure about that. My reasoning is this: if this was a random killing, then we’re airing our private lives for no good reason, and frankly, I’m not interested in that. Can you imagine how much a hassle your life would be if it became common knowledge that you were.." he looked around them, and deciding that they were far enough from anybody to feel private, "Stefan’s son? There would be reporters all over the place asking questions. You’d have no life of your own. Everybody would want to know how you feel about that, and everything else. They’d ask me how I feel to suddenly find that I’m nobody when I was formerly the Cassadine heir. They’d cast us as rivals and turn everything into a complete circus. If it’s not a random killing, if Kathryn was targeted by someone with a grudge against the Cassadines, then we don’t want to muddy things more."

"Wait a minute," Lucky said. "That makes you more of a target than I am if they’re after the Cassadines, because you’re apparently not one, and I am. That isn’t fair to you."

Nikolas shook his head. "I’ve dealt with this sort of thing all my life and you haven’t. True, you’ve learned more than I know about getting around on your own, but I’ve grown up understanding the consequences of being a Cassadine. You’re just learning. Let me help you where I can."

"That’s pretty gutsy," Lucky admitted. "You putting yourself between me and trouble."

"That was our agreement—you watch my back, and I watch yours." He looked around once again, and said, "Now that our shadows have us clearly in sight, let’s go. There will be a simple graveside ceremony and that will be all."

"I still hate funerals," Lucky grumbled, but went with his brother.

"I hate funerals," Lucy remarked as she walked away from the pile of flowers that marked the final resting place of Kathryn Bell. Wiping a few errant tears from her eyes, she turned to Luke who was standing some distance from the crowd with her. "She didn’t deserve this, you know. I mean, I didn’t like her much, but, well, I was beginning to understand how she worked. She wanted respectability, to be received by people such as the Quartermaines, and the upper crust of society, but never really was. That was why she married Ned, you know. She thought that you could marry into that crowd—and believe me, I used to think the same thing. Hell, I married Alan, which was a really dumb thing to do, but hey! That was eons ago. I finally learned that the Qs and their ilk look down on anybody who cares what they think. If they can patronize, they will. If they can’t, or if they believe that you don’t give a frosty flying one what they think, then they have to approach you from an inferior position. That really ticks them off, but they have to admire the nerve of anybody who can make them feel that way. You do it, you know."

"I make the Qs feel inferior?" Luke was mildly surprised.

"Yeah. They know that you can’t be bought, that you don’t have a price, and that you don’t care about social standing. You see them as equals or perhaps, even inferiors. Even Edward has to admire your sneakiness."

"He did have a soft spot for Kat," Luke recalled. "He admires anybody who can lie with conviction." Then, his expression darkened. "I bet he’d really love Laura." Looking up, he saw her. "Speak of the devil."

"Luke. When are you coming home?" Her eyes were filled with tears. "This has made me think—there’s no guarantee of tomorrow. Fighting is so...so..wasteful. You love me. I love you. We can work this out."

"And yesterday you were never going to forgive me. How soon we forget."

"I’ve always forgiven you, Luke," Laura said. "For everything. Everything."

Their eyes met in and he read in them their shared past, the night of the rape. She gave him a tearful smile, her lower lip trembling slightly. "Come home, Luke. We can deal with this."

"Give me a very large break," Lucy injected in disgust. "Luke, if you’re going to fall for those crocodile tears..."

"Luke?" Laura asked quietly, one tear tracing its silvery way down her smooth cheek.

"Damn! She even cries prettily. You know, Laura, when I get my business back on track, I could use you. So pretty, so sweet, such a liar..."

"Shut up, Lucy," Laura snapped, her eyes blazing with fury. "Your presence is not needed."

"At least mine is wanted," Lucy pointed out. "You know, like ‘desired’. It wasn’t your name that he called out last night when we, well, when...suffice it to say, Luke knew who he was with."

"At least come home to see Lulu," Laura said. "She hardly remembers who you are."

"Why? Too many men parading through the house?" Luke asked, shocked at the way his mind was working. "I distinctly recall that there is, or was, a family picture of all of us at one time. I haven’t changed much. Just point to it and say, ‘Daddy.’ Or, do you turn it to the wall when Stefan is there?"

"I haven’t seen Stefan since I got back to Port Charles," she told him. "Okay, you know that I got back a little early and then I left and came back, but that’s the only time that I, that we...it was just..."

"One of those things?" Lucy supplied with a helpful smile. "Gee, Laura. I know just how that is. You talk, you argue, and then, one thing leads to another."

"Stay out of this, Lucy," Laura ordered. "I’m warning you."

"Warning me? Is that a threat?"

"A promise," Laura told her, her tone venomous. "Luke knows what I’m talking about, what I mean. He knows what we mean to each other. There’s too much between us for someone like you to understand."

"I understand all about it," Lucy told her with a smile. Luke watched as his friend cut directly to the chase. "I understand that you think that you can do whatever the hell you want because poor little Laura was raped by the big, bad Luke Spencer all those years ago. You’ve found guilt a powerful tool, haven’t you?"

Laura recoiled in shock, her eyes wide with disbelief. "She knows? You told her? Luke, how could you?"

"Confession is good for the soul, Laura," Luke told her, finding in those words a ring of truth. "Lucy knows all our dark secrets. Well, make those all that I know."