The rain had begun to fall steadily as Lucy ducked into the boathouse near the dock, missing Luke Spencer as he disembarked from a boat he dragged to the shore nearby. Luke wiped the water from his eyes and tied the mooring rope from the boat to a nearby tree, hoping that the boat would still be there when he came back for it. Then again, maybe he'd just find a nice semi dry spot and wait out the storm once he'd said what he came to say. As the wind gusted higher, he decided that anything on solid land, wet or dry, was preferable to returning to the choppy waters.
Minutes later, he was at the front door of the mansion, pounding on the door. "Open up, damnit!"
Bobbie opened the door, somewhat stunned to see her brother standing in the entry.
"Let me in, Barbara Jean. It's wet out here."
Wordlessly, Bobbie moved aside, staring at him as if she'd never seen him before. Luke stared back. "I'm here to see Lucky."
"Lucky?" she echoed, as if surprised.
"Yes, Lucky. My son."
"Your nephew. The one recently attributed to Count Vlad. The one I raised. Hell, yes, my son."
Bobbie backed away, still looking at her brother, who followed her into the main room.
"Bobbie, it's me. What's the Bat been feeding you? Do I have something on my face? Not that I could look, with the shortage of mirrors around this place."
"Um, Luke, there's no delicate way I can ask this, but...did you and Helena...?"
Luke paused, turning to Bobbie. "Yes?"
"Forget it. I don't think that I really want to know."
"He's playing video games with Nikolas and Lucas," Stefan answered. He, too, appeared to be staring at Luke as if mesmerized by his face.
"Something wrong?" Luke asked. Then, impatient to finish his business, he said, "I really need to see Lucky. Barbara Jean!"
Bobbie looked up suddenly. "I'll get him."
"Wait, Barbara," Stefan began. "There are things that need to be clarified immediately."
"Stefan, are you certain that this is the right time?"
"Barbara, there will never be a right time, as far as I am concerned, but this is the most convenient." He looked at Luke, and took a deep breath. "Is it true that you had an affair with Helena during your teens?"
Luke stopped dead in his tracks. He read the uneasy look in Stefan's eyes, and the one of shock and disbelief in Bobbie's, suddenly understanding the reason for their strange moods. Not for anything would he reveal his shame or anger at this no longer dark secret. He'd long since learned that to reveal a vulnerable spot to a Cassadine was to give them yet another target. It was far better to brazen it out. He grinned broadly, and answered, "So, my past has finally caught up with me."
Luke watched as his words sank in, as the possible meaning registered on Bobbie and Stefan. "Am I to deduce by your horrified expressions that Stiffin here has just been given the key to his freedom, has just found out that he's not the son of that devil Mikkos?" Luke laughed out loud, his mirth genuine at the sight of Stefan's distress. "Let me see if I have this right. You're worried that back in my misspent youth, I had a thing going with Helena, and Stefan here, belongs to me. Which would make Lucky my grandson, instead of my son, which, according to Laura, he isn't, anyhow."
"It is impossible," Stefan spat, his disgust obvious. "Impossible."
"Not the least bit impossible," Luke smiled, enjoying Stefan's discomfort. He swaggered across the room to stare at his enemy. "We both know that Helena has a weakness for young men. She's always been a firm believer in bringing them up right." He grinned again at that, then, still dripping on the carpet, helped himself to some of Stefan's fine old brandy. He tossed it back, and forced a burp.
"Stiffin, my boy-that is the question, isn't it? Am I your 'Daddy Dearest'? You're worried that my mongrel blood flows through what you'd always considered your aristocratic veins? You need something to clean the taint of whatever Helena brought to the mix? You know, this is truly priceless. To see a Cassadine, no, make that a Cassadine wannabe, hoping against hope that I won't turn out to be the paternal contributor to his gene collection."
Luke laughed and told him, "All things considered, having me for a father is definitely a lot better than some of your options. I could tell you stories....." Then, he added, "But, since Lucky is said to be your son, I won't. He's got enough problems right now without having to worry about that, too. So," Turning to Bobbie, he smirked. "Sorry to disappoint you, little sister, but precocious though I was, Stefan is out of luck. He's too old to be mine."
Alexis tapped at the door to Nikolas' room, letting herself in quietly. Nothing like knowing how to enter and exit the house unnoticed when you wanted to.
"What are you doing here?" he asked, his eyes contemptuous. "You know that you aren't supposed to be here."
"But I am," Alexis told him, holding her hand to halt his move to call his uncle. "As are you." She smiled at Lucky and Lucas. "Perhaps you could give us a little privacy?"
Lucky looked at Nikolas who nodded. "She won't harm me."
Seconds later, Nikolas turned to Alexis. "Very well. You wanted some privacy-you have it. Now, say what you came to say."
Alexis smiled patiently. "I know that the last few weeks have been difficult for you-and I have caused you a large measure of pain, myself. That I regret. I also know that the death of Kathryn Bell was hard on you. I've also heard that she left you the bulk of her estate."
"This is common knowledge. Why are you here?"
"I'm here to bring you information that you don't have. Information on the identity of your father."
At that, Nikolas stopped. "You have this information?"
"I do. I spoke with your mother this evening-at her bequest. I've been researching this-and I have reason to believe that the information she gave me is correct. You are my nephew-your father was my brother. We knew him as 'Reece'. He worked for the Cassadines, and more recently for your uncle. He died a few days ago, ostensibly by his own hand, though I have reason to believe that he was murdered by Helena."
"My full brother. As you know, my real name is Natasha and my mother was Kristin, mistress to Mikkos. What neither of us knew was that I had a brother who was Mikkos' son, and that Stefan is not Mikkos' son. By rights, you are still 'The Cassadine'."
Nikolas let this sink in for a few seconds. "Stefan isn't a Cassadine?"
"No," Alexis smiled. "I told him only moments ago. Now-perhaps we can come to some amicable arrangement whereby we can lay aside the past and begin again?"
But, Nikolas couldn't just move on. "You're saying that my mother had yet another affair?"
Alexis shrugged. "She told me that Reece was the only man on the island who treated her as something other than a vehicle whereby Cassadines could gain heirs. Evidently, their relationship was one of mutual attraction, of caring. For what it is worth, it continued off and on over the years, and Lulu is his, too."
"And you think that Helena had him, had my father killed?"
"Laura does-she thinks that Helena had him killed and then she tried to make Laura appear responsible for the killing. You know about the note, and that it was shown to be a forgery. " Nikolas nodded, so Alexis continued. "You realize that this makes us enemies to Helena, and, potential enemies to Stefan, as well. Helena's prime interest is to regain control of the Cassadine family empire, and as we now stand in her way, we are stumbling blocks and can expect for her to make every attempt to eliminate us."
"But Stefan wouldn't hurt me."
"He cast me out of this house and withdrew his protection from me when I came between him and Kathryn," Alexis pointed out. "Doing that was tantamount to handing me over to Helena, and that woman had my mother killed, Nikolas. Stefan knew that, knew my identity, and knew that Helena knew. Say what you will, but Stefan, despite his love for you, is very much his mother's son when it comes to the Cassadine interests, however he chooses to define them."
As Luke made his way up the stairs, Stefan turned to Bobbie. "I am not at all certain that I am relieved. For all my disgust at him, he has managed to survive this long in a world where my mother exists. Her cast-offs seldom last long. I believe that they find death a welcome relief."
Bobbie laughed softly, amazed to find that she could still laugh, and at something as hideous as that. "What you really mean is, better the devil you know than the one you don't."
Stefan nodded. "You understand my dilemma."
"I do-but what makes you certain that Alexis is right? That you aren't Mikkos' son?"
"Things that Helena implied over the years, her insistence that Stavros' son inherit, that somehow I was less than her precious Stavros." He shrugged as if having his world jerked from beneath him was nothing. Within, however, he was screaming. "It all makes sense when viewed in that light. I could be of use to her as a father figure for Nikolas, but I was never to have my own family." He smiled ruefully. "Though it is doubtful that she knew of my relationship with Laura. Or, perhaps she did and was willing to let my son masquerade as Stavros'. God knows that I was willing, though evidently that isn't the case."
Stefan poured himself a stiff drink. "Betrayal upon betrayal, lies interwoven with lies until the truth is lost somewhere in the fabric, concealed so that even the most discerning eye cannot follow the pattern. Only the weaver, the creator of the lies, knows where this all leads." He drank deeply, his world spinning out of control.
As he moved to pour himself another drink, the doorbell rang yet again.
This time, Laura Spencer entered the room. She stared directly at him, her eyes bright with determination. "I've come for my sons."