Mac Scorpio stood in the shower letting the water wash over his shoulders, wishing that it could wash away more than the smell of smoke from his body. He devoutly wished that it could wash away the nightmarish memories of what he'd seen early this morning, the agony he'd seen on Luke's face and the hideous reminder of man's inhumanity to man. He wondered how he'd tell Felicia that the teenager she'd known for years was gone forever.
"Mac?" Whispered Felicia as she stepped under the heated spray of water with him. "What happened?"
Silently, Mac pulled his wife against him, holding her close, as his own tears mingled with the hot water. He'd thought that there were no more to cry, that the death of his brother and Anna had drained him, but the death of Lucky Spencer brought new loss.
"Mac? What happened? Is it Robin?" Felicia looked up at her husband, seeing the pain on his face, and felt the anger that seethed just below the surface of the man she loved with all her heart.
"The fire," he managed, holding her as the water sluiced over them. "It was Lucky Spencer. He didn't make it, Felicia. Luke was there...Oh, God, Felicia. It was horrible. There was nothing that anybody could do, nothing that anybody could say, and I knew it. I was so angry, Felicia. So damned angry!"
"Lucky?" Felicia cried out, shocked. "Not Lucky Spencer!"
For a few moments, they held each other closely, savoring the warmth and accepting the comfort each offered the other. Finally, Felicia spoke. "Was it arson, or accident?"
"We don't know yet, but given that it was Jason's former bike shop, now, I guess Sonny's, we have to consider that it might well be mob-related, though an accident hasn't yet been ruled out. We're going to conduct a full investigation, but if it was Moreno, there'll be hell to pay."
"You think that Sonny will strike back?"
"If Luke doesn't first. You know, maybe you should stay in Texas with the girls for a while. If this thing does explode, it could get messy in a hurry."
"I'd love to visit with Grandmother," Felicia mused, "But I need to be here if Lila regains consciousness and wants to talk."
"You mean about the locket?"
"Yes. I want to ask her if she knows who the woman in the picture is-the woman that I resemble."
"And the man, too," Mac added. "That guy looks familiar..."
Taggert and Garcia walked around in the still smoldering if soggy rubble of what had once been the motorcycle shop over which Lucky Spencer had lived. "Anybody find a body yet?" asked Garcia.
"Not yet," yelled back one of the forensics crew. Garcia was somehow grateful that Luke Spencer was nowhere in sight. He'd gone to tell Laura, a task that Alejandro did not envy him.
"Damned shame," Taggert observed, watching as the arson squad began their investigation. "The kid was bright and basically good. Can't say much for his old man, though. He had some very unsavory connections."
"I know what you mean. Sonny Corinthos has a way of leaving death and destruction in his wake." Garcia recalled Lily Rivera Corinthos, the young woman who had been married to Sonny. "He always seems to be in the eye of the storm, though. People around him get ground up like so much hamburger."
"You think it was a mob hit?"
"What else?" Garcia was grim. "It could have been an accident, but.........."
"Hey guys," came a voice that sounded somewhere between surprised, curious and excited. "This is really weird."
The team gathered together while Taggert and Garcia hurried over. "What is it?"
"We found a hotspot," the man told them. "Something really strange. I mean, I've heard of this happening before, but never seen it in my entire forty years of fire investigating."
"Spontaneous combustion. But, not a textbook case, you understand."
"We found where the bed should have been, where the body should be, given what Lizzie Webber told you about Lucky calling her while in bed."
"And this is all there is. There's a burned out hole in the mattress, far more damaged than the surrounding area."
"So Jack over there has found what appears to be the remains of a couple of incendiary devices that were, we think, on the ground floor. What is weird is that the bed appears to have been burned far worse than the area surrounding it."
"And a body?"
The investigator shuddered. "There's very little left. So far, all we've found is ash and a few tooth fragments. We also found this." He held up a chain with a subway token on it. "It was where we'd have expected the top of the torso to be."
"Lizzie told us that she gave Lucky something like that." Garcia shook his head sadly.
"But spontaneous combustion?" Taggert asked. "Spontaneous and incendiary devices don't match up too well."
The investigator gave a curious smile. "You're right. It's my guess that whoever set this fire staged this scene. See, there is something called the 'wicking effect'. It's like a burning candle, but in reverse. In this case, the wick is the blanket, or whatever is around the body. The technique has been used by people bent on covering a murder as 'spontaneous combustion' or concealing the identity of the corpse as it can efficiently cremate the body. We suspect that there are cases where bodies go undiscovered because of this. Anyhow, an accelerant is used to initiate the blaze, and then the thing feeds off the burning of body fats. Experiments have shown that such fires can burn for hours, consuming all of the body that is encased in the blankets, or whatever is acting as the external wick. It's weird as hell, but there's this researcher in France that....."
The rest of his words were lost to Taggert who had stopped listening closely when the investigator had said, "concealing the identity of the corpse."
Was there more going on than anybody had thought?
Sonny stared at Moreno, hatred oozing out of his very pores, while he stood calmly, coldly surveying his adversary. Moreno had asked to meet on neutral turf.
"I'm here." Sonny was brief, to the point. "Did you arrange the fire that killed Lucky Spencer?"
"No," Moreno told him. "Which is why I'm here. I figured that you'd think I was behind it, but you need to know that I don't whack kids, especially when they're under the protection of someone like you."
"That's decent of you."
"Guys like us, we have our own set of rules. Family is off limits. You know that. Business is business, though."
"Agreed. But Jason is no longer with me."
"I heard. I understand that he lied to you, and that you showed great mercy in not taking him out on the spot. My opinion is that you should have. I would have. He knows too much."
Sonny shrugged. "We operate differently."
"True. But, that's not why I'm here. What I want to know is if there's anybody else trying to muscle in on our territory in Port Charles?"
Emily's breath was ragged as she ran towards the house owned by Nikolas Cassadine. Her eyes nearly blinded by the tears that wouldn't stop, she ran to the door and pounded on it. "Nikolas?" she shouted, breaking into more sobs of pain. "Nikolas?"
She turned the knob, not stopping when it twisted beneath her fingers, and threw open the door. "Nikolas?"
Heading into the house, she became aware of something wrong, a certain stillness, an odor that she'd learned presaged death. Shaking with dread, she turned slowly. It was then that she saw the blood that had dripped down the staircase and from the landing onto the floor, congealing in a sticky crimson pool. Looking up, she saw a bloody hand lying still.
She began to scream anew.