"Alexis, Jax," smiled Robin as she watched the two climb into the helicopter. "Welcome aboard!"
Jax was astonished. "Robin? What are you doing here?"
"Rescuing you and Alexis," she grinned. "Need a ride?"
"We'll take it," Alexis laughed, gratefully accepting some bottled water from the younger woman. "You must have been heaven-sent."
"Not quite," said the pilot, who turned around to smile. "But you can think of us as your guardian angels, if you wish."
"And who are you?"
"He's Zandor," Jax answered, recognizing the face of the man he was never quite sure he knew. He'd seen him both in jail and out, in casinos and in places he'd rather forget. "And if he wasn't with Robin Scorpio, I'd think twice about getting on this helicopter with him."
"I wouldn't," Alexis grinned. "Anything that gets us out of this godforsaken place is okay by me."
"Where are you taking us?" Jax queried.
"Does it matter?"
"Be nice, Zandor," Robin chided, wondering at the animosity that seethed beneath the surface politeness of the two men. "Consider this your good deed for the day."
"Since when does rescuing a corporate raider and a Cassadine rank as a good deed?" Zandor asked, his mouth an unpleasant scowl. "That alone is probably an unforgivable sin. You know, I've been offered a considerable sum to do away with both of them."
"By whom?" Jax demanded, his annoyance rising.
"The list is long," Zandor returned. "But longer still is the list of those who would pay big bucks for the privilege of doing the job themselves."
"Zandor," Robin began again, in mock indignation. "You promised."
"Okay, Robin," Zandor nodded with a deep sigh. "Not today." Then, he brightened. "There's always tomorrow."
Alexis leaned back, watching the exchange between the two men and the small woman, wondering why Zandor seemed so familiar to her. She couldn't recall having seen him before, yet there was something about him. Something she recognized. But, what?
Bobbie entered the emergency room of the hospital where she found Luke and Laura, sitting in the same waiting area but not exactly together.
Raising pain-filled eyes to her, he tried to smile. "Bobbie?"
Suddenly, the brother and sister were holding each other, crying for the light that had gone out of their lives, while Laura looked on, tears still falling from her eyes.
"I heard about Lucky," she said. "Oh, God, I'm so sorry! He was so young, so alive!! And I just got the call about Nik. Luke, what is going on?"
"I don't know, baby sis," Luke answered, leading her away from Laura who was regarding Bobbie with disdain. "But I intend to find out." There was resolve, anger and deadly promise in his voice.
"She's dead," he answered. "Garcia has been here asking questions, and he's with Stefan now. It appears that Kat went crazy and came at Nikolas with a knife. This was evidently her idea of the ideal way to cap off a memorable night together." He shook his head, "I can't believe any of it, Bobbie."
Bobbie pulled him a bit farther from the others, and asked, "What is it that you aren't saying, Luke? I'm hearing something strange in your voice."
"It's too much, Bobbie. Too much. It's like a magician's sleight of hand, a distraction so that we don't see what is really going on."
"You think that something is?"
"You tell me. Look around us. Everything is going nuts. Carly is in Ferncliff, AJ is dead, Jason is gone, the Qs are both laid up, Lucky is gone, Kat is dead, and Nikolas is fighting for his life."
Bobbie focused on one phrase. "You said, 'Lucky is gone', not dead."
"I know." Luke looked at his sister. "Maybe I'm deluding myself, maybe I'm hanging onto a hope that will be more painful in the end, but there's something about the fire that really bothers me."
"You think that it was arson?"
"Bet on it. The cops found incendiary devices."
"But you think that Lucky might be alive?"
Luke shrugged, and wiped a tear from his eyes. "If he is, I'll find him. Regardless, I'll find whoever is behind the fire." He looked up at the ceiling, then back at his sister. "Somebody will pay for this, Barbara Jean. Bank on it."
"So, what have you got?" Garcia asked Taggert who was looking at a golden dagger. It had been dusted and printed, given the full treatment by forensics, and now being studied by the policeman. "Interesting bit of hardware."
"The thing is gold, Alejandro. Not plated, either, and the rocks are real. Nothing fake here."
"Are we talking priceless?"
"Probably museum quality. How's the Cassadine kid?"
"He'll make it, but he's pretty cut up. Would you believe that Stefan Cassadine keeps blood stockpiled for his family in case of emergency? I mean, their own blood."
"No kidding? I've heard of people doing that. Can't say that I blame then, not with STDs and other assorted bugs floating around. You gotta wonder what might slip through that we don't even know to test for nowadays."
"Yeah." Garcia took the knife and hefted it. "Damned thing is heavy. Any ID on the prints?"
"The only ones that we could pull were Kat's."
"That is in keeping with what Laura Spencer and Emily Quartermaine said that Nikolas said. Apparently, Kat came at him with this."
"Yeah. With a six-inch blade, she could count on killing him if she could have hit him in the right place. As it was, she inflicted some serious damage. I wonder where this came from?"
At that moment, the computer on his desk beeped, and Taggert smiled. "I just might have the answer to your question. I uploaded a picture of the dagger and sent it to a friend of mine who specializes in antiquities. Thought we'd get a little input."
Taggert quickly read the e-mail. "Interesting. Very interesting."
"Spit it out."
"The last time this dagger was seen was just before the fall of the Romanov family. You know, Nikolas and Alexandra. It belonged to them at one point."
"So, who had it all this time? Did it belong to Nikolas? Maybe it was his letter opener and Kat decided to use whatever came to hand?"
"Who the hell knows? We can ask him when he wakes up, or we can ask Stefan Cassadine. He'd probably know."
"Know what?" demanded Stefan as he approached Taggert's desk.
"About this." Taggert handed him the weapon, hilt first. "You guys lose one of your family heirlooms?"
Stefan's eyes widened, but he quickly covered his brief surprise. "I recognize the workmanship. It was commissioned by Faberge, no doubt, and probably for the Czar. This is a chrysoberyl-surrounded by alexandrites, which were named for Alexander II. Alexandrite was discovered, it is said, on the day of his birth, April 17, 1818 in the Ural Mountains in Russia, so it is entirely possible that this was designed for Alexander, himself. Where did you find it?"
"I'm the one asking the questions, Mr. Cassadine." Taggert smiled as Garcia watched, taking careful note of how Stefan's expression was guarded, if resentful at Tag's questions. "Did this belong to your family?"
"Not to my knowledge, though I cannot guarantee that it does not belong to my mother."
"So you don't believe that Nikolas owned it?"
"I do not."
"So if Katherine attacked Nikolas with it, she would have had to have brought it along?"
"This was the weapon?" Stefan looked at it with renewed interest.
"Apparently. It was also what caused her death. We found it sticking out of her chest."
Stefan's fist clinched around the dagger, a gleam of something unholy in his eyes, and Garcia watched the man then dropped it to the table. "I see. I will ask Nikolas what he knows about it in the morning."
With that, he turned and left the office. "Gone to get their stories straight," Garcia observed. "So, what do you think?"
"I think that Stefan Cassadine is one cold character, but that he saw something that bothered him a lot."
"Same here. The man's a control freak, you know. I think that he was really surprised to see that dagger, but that he knows a hell of a lot more than he's telling."
Garcia yawned and stretched. "God what a day! Luke and Laura Spencer were at the hospital and I've got to tell you, that's one screwed up relationship. There was a time when I'd have sworn that Luke would have killed for her, would have moved heaven and earth to save her, but today? Today there is something really wrong between them. Yeah, I know all about the Cassadine thing, how Stefan is the kid's natural father, but whatever is going on goes well beyond that. Lucky's death hit him hard earlier, but this afternoon, it was like he was somewhere else mentally."
"You think that he suspects what you suspect?"
"Maybe. Hell, we know that Luke faked Laura's death when he thought that she was in danger, so I wouldn't put it past him. But at the fire scene? He wasn't faking that, I'd bet my life. And Laura? You should have heard her turn on Stefan for his former relationship with Katherine."
"So how can we believe either of the Spencers? 'Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.'"
"I've got to wonder if someone is lying to a couple of card-carrying liars. Turning the tables on them, jerking them around."
Garcia picked up the knife and hefted it again. "Who, indeed?"