Lucky and Nikolas approached the house, an uneasy truce in effect. "It's weird," Lucky told him, "coming to the place I always considered the enemy camp."
"I guess so," Nik answered. "Especially given that you may be the heir to all of this."
"The bucks I can use-the baggage I don't need."
"I can understand that," Nikolas said. "It is odd, though. Both of us looking at this place as if for the first time. I see it as where I used to live, the place I once thought of as mine. Now it's almost alien to me."
"It's still alien to me," Lucky muttered. "I don't want it and I don't intend to stay here. I'm just here to ask a few questions."
Nikolas opened the door, and both entered.
Mrs. Lansbury approached. "Mr. Nikolas. Mr. uuh, Spencer."
"Just 'Lucky'," the teenager responded. "Though that is in question at present."
"Very well. Mr. Cassadine is in his study. I assume that you've heard the news?"
"About Kathryn?" Nikolas asked. "I realize that you never liked her, Mrs. Lansbury, but surely you could have referred to her death as 'bad' news." Without a backward glance, he and Lucky walked away from her and towards the study.
Stefan was sitting in his study, staring into the screen of his laptop as if it held the secrets of the world. His fingers flew over the keys, calling forth information much as a medieval sorcerer summoned spirits to do his bidding.
"Uncle," Nik began, not knowing what else to call the man he'd thought of as his uncle.
Stefan looked up, his fingers frozen in the air. He stood up, looking from one teenager to the other. "Nikolas...Lucky."
Nikolas watched almost detachedly, as Stefan's eyes passed over him quickly and came to rest on Lucky. Then, almost furtively, he looked away.
"Let's just cut to the chase," Lucky began. "Look-I know about my mother and ...and that she said that you are my father. I know about the rape, and all that, but we're here about using your resources to find Kathryn's killer."
"You know that Laura said that you're my son?" Stefan was stunned. "She told you?"
"I told him, Uncle," Nikolas said. "I also understand that I have no right to call you that." At Stefan's disbelieving look, Nikolas continued. "I was in the secret passage when you and Laura were arguing-and I heard everything. Everything." His tone was explicit. "I know about your past relationship as well as your present one. You should know that Kathryn knew, as well. She was outside your study when I was in the passage. She heard everything, too. That's why she left Windemere, Uncle. She couldn't stay here knowing what she knew."
Stefan was speechless, but he read the indisputable truth of what the boys knew in their eyes. "I...don't know what to say."
"Say that you'll help us find Kathryn's killer," Nikolas told him. "Say that you'll do the right thing now, even if you didn't do that yesterday. You owe Kathryn that much."
"I have men on it as we speak."
Lucky watched the exchange between Nikolas and Stefan, noting their ever-formal air and the increased tension. "I've gotta ask this," he injected. "And I think, given the current set of circumstances, that I've got the right."
"As my son, you have the right to ask me anything."
"I wouldn't bank on that, Cassadine," Lucky told him. "She's lied to all of us about almost everything-what's to say that she hasn't lied about that, too? But, aside from my mother's truthfulness or lack thereof, what is it about her? What is it that makes men like you and your brother and Luke Spencer freak over her? What is it that makes you all too willing to buy into her 'poor little me' routine and swallow all her stories?"
"Yesterday, I would have had an answer," Stefan told Lucky. "Today, I must ask the same question. Unfortunately, today is too late for Kathryn. She trusted me, and to my eternal shame, I failed her. Indeed, I have failed both of you, as well. I erred in trusting your mother, and for that I shall be forever punished. She told me what Luke had done to her, and I fell deeply in love with her. I also knew what sins my own family had committed against her, and I tried to make things better. I tried to bring some measure of tenderness and love into her life. I could not free her, so I loved her, instead."
"For this, she dumps you at the first opportunity," Lucky pointed out. "She dumps you and, if you buy her story, she takes your son and passes him-me-off to your worst enemy as his son. She also leaves Nikolas with you, and you spent all these years thinking that he was a Cassadine only to have her tell you that he's not. And after all that, you and she...you..."
"Tell me what you did," came a growling voice from the door. Luke Spencer stood there, more than a little drunk. "Maybe we can find some common ground, after all. Seems that we've shared the same woman and a few other seminal life experiences."
Taggert and Garcia stepped off the rented boat that had ferried them out to Spoon Island, both relieved that the night was clear and the water was calm. It was definitely too cold to go swimming. "This place is creepy," Taggert commented as they headed up the path to the main house.
"It's always been creepy," Garcia agreed. "I never like coming out here."
Garcia rang the doorbell, while Taggert observed, "So who answers? Lurch?"
"Usually, it's some little old lady housekeeper named Mrs. Lansbury. She looks like a nice lady, but I wouldn't want to eat anything that she cooks."
"You know, maybe we should talk with Bobbie Spencer about this. She used to live here, and Kat was her replacement, so to speak."
The door opened silently, and the ever present Mrs. Lansbury begrudgingly allowed them entry. "Mr. Cassadine is in the study with Mr. Spencer."
"Interesting," Garcia remarked in an aside to Taggert. "Mortal enemies talking? I wonder what's going on."
"Maybe Luke thinks that Stefan killed Kat to make sure that she never talked? That's a motive for murder."
The men entered the study to see Luke sitting sullenly in the chair. "Welcome to Vlad's Castle," he greeted. "Here's the Count..." but Luke paused before he said more, obviously reconsidering his words, Garcia noted.
"Spencer, Cassadine. Lucky, Nikolas. Glad to see you well again." Garcia nodded as he made his greetings. "I'm sure that you know why we're here." He reached into his pocket, pulling out a vinyl bag that he unsealed. "It's all right. We've already had it dusted for prints." He lifted out the medallion that Nikolas had given Kat earlier, and dangled it from his fingers. "Isn't this a Cassadine necklace?"
"It was mine," Nikolas said, breaking the silence as all eyes focused on the medallion. "I gave it to her this afternoon." He paused, obviously not wishing to continue, sensing that nobody wanted for him to make more revelations.
"Then you were with Ms. Bell in the park this afternoon?" Taggert was very interested. "And you gave her your medallion? What was the occasion? Birthday? Special event? Or, perhaps you hadn't intended to leave it with her?"
The unspoken accusation hung in the air, bringing all eyes to focus on Nikolas, who stared at Taggert with relentless innocence. "It was a gift. A remembrance. I may be leaving soon and I wanted her to have something of mine."
"You're leaving?" Taggert probed. "Where are you going?"
"I'm planning to continue my education," Nikolas hedged. "Elsewhere."
"Your uncle seems surprised."
"We've discussed it in the past," Nikolas added. "I ran into Kathryn in the park and we spoke about the future."
"About what time?"
"I'd say around two in the afternoon. I wasn't wearing a watch."
"Did she say where she'd been?"
"She mentioned that she'd been to Luke's," Nikolas told them. "We spoke, and I gave her the medallion. Then I left."
"She was alive when you left her?"
That caused an eruption of anger from Stefan. "Of course she was alive. Nikolas would not have killed Kathryn."
"It's all right, Uncle. Yes, Kathryn was alive."