Lucy Coe sat quietly on the park bench soaking up the late winter sun's rays, turning her face skyward despite her knowledge of the sun's damaging effect on the skin. Only a few days earlier, she'd despaired of ever living long enough to regret a tan, and her brush with death had filled her with a new appreciation for the simple things life had to offer. Never mind that they were about all she could afford lately. Broke. Whodathunkit? Not that it really mattered, not in the grand scheme of things, she told herself. Odd how one's perspective could be altered in such a short time, she mused. She watched as Nikolas Cassadine ran through the park for the third time, racing as if hell's own demons were on his trail. Considering that he was a Cassadine, that was a distinct possibility. Of course, that should, by rights, have him on speaking terms, if not commanding terms, with them, if all that Luke Spencer had told her about that family was true.

Lucy sighed and allowed the sun to focus its energy on her, feeling a renewal within; whatever had come close to dying in her had been subtly altered, changed. She was seeing things through new eyes, and the change fascinated her. She watched as Nikolas ran past her again, this time, though, she noted, that he was different, his clothes somewhat torn, as if he'd had a run-in with a bush, or something. His face was scratched, and he ran past her again as if she hadn't even been there. Which, she noted, was nothing new. He hadn't noticed her the first few times, either. If she'd had more energy, Lucy decided, she'd have been offended, but she told herself that she should be glad that he hadn't noticed-being ill hadn't left her in her best looks. Still, she was recovering, and what she didn't manage to take out of Rex Stanton's hide at some later date could be retrieved some other way. As she considered those possibilities, Luke Spencer stormed past her, his face a mask of rage, his fists clinched, and she distinctly heard curses as he strode by.

"Luke?" She called, but he obviously hadn't heard her, which wasn't like him at all. Luke Spencer was one of her oldest friends in Port Charles, and aside from Kevin, the man she most trusted. He wouldn't have ignored her, and anything that had him walk past her as if she wasn't there was something that bore closer examination. With no small effort, Lucy lifted herself from the bench and began to follow Luke.

Nikolas knocked on the door of the brownstone, hoping that Bobbie would be in the house. Her schedule, he knew, was variable, and there was nothing that guaranteed her presence. He stood impatiently, and the door finally opened, though, to his dismay, it wasn't Bobbie, but Lucky who had answered.

"What do you want?" Lucky asked. He eyed his brother warily, noting for the first time that Nikolas was somewhat disheveled. "You all right?"

"I'm fine," Nik answered, his voice even. He barely had any difficulties in speaking now. "I need to speak with Bobbie. Is she in?"

"She's in." Lucky stood in the way as if considering whether or not Nikolas should be allowed entrance.

"Tell her that I'm here, and that I need some answers." For a few seconds, Nikolas studied Lucky's face as if seeing it for the first time. He wondered briefly if he felt sorry for him, for what he knew was coming, the shock and disillusionment. "Maybe you should stay, too."

"Nikolas?" greeted Bobbie, seeing the consternation on his face. "Is something wrong?"

"Yes," he answered bluntly. "That is...um, Bobbie, Kathryn told me that I should talk with you, that you'd never lied to her, and that I should trust you."

"Of course you can trust Bobbie," Lucky injected. "It's the Cassadines that aren't to be trusted."

Nikolas looked at Lucky, and laughed softly. "Lucky, you have no idea."

"Come on in, Nikolas," Bobbie told him, frankly curious about what Kat could have said to so bother him. "Tell me what's on your mind."

Lucky stood to one side, watching and wondering what Nikolas had meant by his cryptic remark. "Spit it out, Cassadine."

"Lucky," chided Bobbie. "This is a neutral zone for today. No fighting or sniping allowed." Turning to Nikolas, she asked, "What is it?"

Wondering suddenly if he was doing the right thing, he paused. "Maybe you shouldn't be here, Lucky. Maybe you shouldn't hear this."

"Does it involve me?" Lucky asked. At Nik's nod, he said, "Then I'm staying. Whatever it is, just say it."

Casting about for a way to soften the blow, Nikolas began. "I overheard some things yesterday-things that I hadn't known, that had been kept from me. From you, too, Lucky."

"Get on with it." Lucky instructed. He had the uneasy feeling that he wasn't going to like what his half-brother was about to say, but he couldn't very well bail out now. Besides, he'd seen enough ugly stuff lately that he doubted if anything that Nikolas said could bother him.

"I was in the secret passage outside Stefan's study."

"Sneaking around again?" Lucky jibed.

"Lay off, Lucky," Bobbie ordered tersely, sensing that things were about to take a nasty turn. "What did you hear, Nikolas?"

"That...Lucky....damnit, you shouldn't hear this until I have confirmation on it."

"Don't you mean 'unless'?" Lucky asked. "Or are you going to believe everything that your Uncle says, as usual?"

"Lucky!" Bobbie admonished sharply. "Now, either be quiet, or get out."

"Sorry, Bobbie," Lucky apologized. "Guess I'm just a little on edge lately."

"Go on, Nikolas. What did you hear?" Bobbie asked.

Taking a deep breath, Nikolas plunged ahead. "I overheard my-that is, our mother talking with Stefan. He said that Luke had raped Laura, that she had told him-Stefan.."

"Liar!" shouted Lucky, throwing a punch that struck Nikolas only slightly as he'd been anticipating it. "Dad would never hurt Mom and you know it."

Bobbie was stunned. "Laura is home?"

"She's in Port Charles," Nikolas said, holding Lucky in a choke hold after swiftly overpowering him. He spoke softly into his half-brother's ear. "I told you that you didn't need to hear this, but you didn't have sense enough to listen. Now, are you going to shut up, or do I have to.."

A stream of invectives spewed from Lucky's mouth that shocked even Bobbie. "Lucky! There will be no more of that. This is serious. Nikolas, turn him loose."

"I don't think so, Bobbie," Nikolas said. "It gets worse." Lucky began squirming, but Nikolas held him tightly. "Hold on, little brother," he ordered. "I've had some time to adjust to the things that I heard, and believe me, I didn't like them, either." Turning his attention back to Bobbie, he said, "Is it true? Did Luke rape Laura years ago?"

Bobbie looked at her two nephews, seeing the rage and pain etched on their faces, the torment caused by the sins of their parents. Both boys stared at her eyes, and there was no way that she could hide the truth. Without speaking a word, she nodded.

"Nooooo!" Lucky cried out. "That's a lie."

"Then it's true?" Nikolas asked. "Maybe the rest of it is true, too."

"What 'rest of it'?" Bobbie asked. "There's more?"

"She said that I wasn't Stefan's son, as he'd believed. That means that they were...that she betrayed Stavros-and that I'm not his son, either. She said that I'm not even a Cassadine."

"You filthy son....." Lucky began, but a quick tightening movement of Nikolas cut off his speech.

"You may be right," Nikolas informed him, "but I'd rather not discuss that at the moment. He turned back to Bobbie. "She also said that he, Lucky, is Stefan's son."

Another anguished wail was torn from Lucky's throat, and he struggled in vain to escape Nikolas. "Hold still, Lucky," his half-brother said gently. "I don't want to hurt you, and I don't want you to hurt yourself. Or me, for that matter. Bobbie-is it true?"

Bobbie, still in shock from the first revelation, answered simply, "I don't know about the rest, but the...rape...is true. Only a few people knew the truth. Apparently Luke and Laura came to some understanding as time went by, but yes, that's true." Bobbie sat down and shook her head. "You said that Kathryn sent you to me? Does she know?"

Nikolas nodded. "You know that she's been living on Spoon Island in the cottage in the garden. Apparently, she overheard the same thing yesterday outside the study. She's leaving Port Charles."

"But why? Even if Stefan and Laura had a relationship, it ended...."She paused, seeing Nikolas shake his head. "It isn't over?"

"No," he said softly. "It isn't over. Not as of yesterday afternoon."

Lucky's struggles were weaker, as if the fight had gone out of him with the realization that Nikolas was telling the truth as he'd heard it. Bobbie's confirmation of the rape had nearly broken his heart. Learning that he might not be Luke's son, but the son of his enemy, had done the rest. Bobbie read the complete disillusionment in Lucky's eyes.

"I'm not a Cassadine," Lucky spat, but his words held little confidence. "Nothing you can say can make me believe that." He struggled again. "Damnit, let me go!"

Sensing that it was safe, Nikolas released him standing back. "I'm sorry that you had to learn like this."

"I've got to talk with Dad," Lucky insisted, as if his insistence could make it so. "He'll tell me that you are lying. Aunt Bobbie, how could you say those things?" He backed away from them, his voice breaking, and tears very near the surface.

"Especially after Lizzie was....raped. I saw what happened. I saw her eyes... Oh, God, Aunt Bobbie..." His words were strangled, and he could barely speak. "Say it isn't so!"

"I can't, Lucky," Bobbie whispered, her eyes liquid with tears for Lucky's heartache. "Because it's true. I told Luke yesterday that he needed to tell you the truth before somebody else did."

'It's done," he reported to the woman he served. "Quickly, simply. Unobserved. What else would you have me do?"

"Did you leave the items as I told you?"

"Exactly. Everything unfolded as you predicted."

Helena nodded sagely. "Then the separation has begun." She smiled in anticipation. "That will be all for now."

Helena considered what she'd learned via the electronic eavesdropping device she'd had planted in Stefan's study, deciding that while some things had been disquieting, the remainder of them had simply indicated a need for a minor adjustment in her plans. An heir was an heir, after all. While she might have thought Nikolas more suitable, blood was essential. Lucky was going to be very vulnerable for a while, and she could use that vulnerability. One made use of what one had, when all was said and done. Lucky Cassadine. Indeed!

"Luke? Luke," Lucy called, walking as quickly as she could. She was still a bit weak, fatigue making her slower than usual. Being sick was such a pain in the a**, she grumbled, but admitted that being dead would have undoubtedly been a great deal less convenient. "Luke Spencer! Wait for me!"

"Stay where you are, Lucy," Luke called, his voice oddly strained. "Don't come any closer. You got a cellular phone handy?"

"Yes, but what's going on?"

"Call 911. STAT! I've just found Kat Bell. She's dead."

Lucy hurried over in spite of Luke's words, turning away as she saw the shocking sight of Kathryn Bell, obviously deceased. "What happened?" Lucy asked, punching numbers into her phone as quickly as her shaking fingers could manage.

"Garroted, from the looks of things." He stepped away, taking the phone from Lucy. "PCPD? Luke Spencer-I'm in the park about 150 yards north of the fountain on the walking path. I'd like to report a homicide. Do I know the deceased? Hell yes, I know her. Kathryn Bell-late of Spoon Island."