Chapter Thirteen

Stefan walked into Nikolas' room after consulting his chart. Sitting at his bedside was Laura, who was holding her son's hand, speaking words of encouragement to his unconscious form.

"How is he?"

"Hello, Stefan," she began, wariness in her eyes. "Where have you been? I'd expected you to be here."

"I waited until he was out of surgery. The doctors assured me that he would make a full recovery, so I went to talk with the police who are investigating the case."

"Why was that necessary? We know who attacked him. Katherine, and she's dead. And this time, I hope she stays that way."

"As do I," Stefan agreed. "What I fear is that the woman we knew as Katherine was not the same woman that we knew before. That woman would never have attacked Nikolas. Even prior to our...relationship...she was fond of him."

"You think that she wasn't Katherine?" Laura was intrigued, if appalled.

"In a manner of speaking. Physically, she appears to be the same. Fingerprints have already confirmed her identity, but we both know that she was returned to life with an experimental technique, and it is possible that she suffered some brain damage when she was injured, and following her brush with death."

"You blame the attack on that?"

"It is a possibility. We know from the x-rays taken after her fall from the parapet that she had a severe concussion, and we also know that she was near death when she was removed from the hospital. Indeed, she'd been given up for dead."

Laura turned back to Nikolas who was beginning to stir.


"Mother?" the question was whispered, and vague.

"Yes. It's me. You're going to be all right."

"Katherine?" His voice was weak, but his mind was clearing.

"She's dead."

"She tried to kill me."

"The police know that. Emily found you and then I came over." Laura paused, unwilling to go further. She'd been about to break the horrible news to him about Lucky, but stopped.

Laura gave Stefan a look that ordered his silence, and he nodded. "The police will want to talk with you as soon as you're able."

"I understand." He closed his eyes. "It was horrible. She told me that she loved me last night. Then, I woke up when she tried to kill me."

"She will not harm anyone ever again," Stefan promised. "Now, rest, Nikolas. Your mother and I have some business to which we must attend."

Laura followed Stefan from the room and to his office where they could speak privately.

"He can't be told about...Lucky...until he's better," Laura insisted.

"How can we keep it secret?" Stefan asked. "It is on the news, and the entire hospital is abuzz with the news."

"Then I'll tell him myself," she began, the tears already falling from her cheeks. "God help me, Stefan. I don't know how to do this." She shuddered. "I'm sorry about what I said earlier about Katherine. I know that you would have never allowed her around Nikolas had you thought she was dangerous."

"I would have killed her myself," Stefan nodded, pulling her into his arms. He tucked her head under his chin, then breathed deeply of her scent as she rested her head on his shoulder. "And I shall do whatever it takes to learn who was responsible for the fire that caused Lucky's death." He moved his hand down her back, stroking her gently. "He was a fine young man, Laura."

"Will you go with me?" she asked. "Nikolas will need both of us."

Audrey put down the telephone and sighed. Poor Lizzie. Still, maybe it would be for the best. Port Charles had been the scene of so much disruption in her young life, but she had been blooming lately. Now, her parents wanted her to join them in Europe for a while to distance her from all that had happened.

"Gram?" Lizzie asked, coming from her room. "Who was that?" Lizzie's eyes were red, her voice sounding as if she'd been crying again.

"That was your father, Lizzie. He wants you to join them for a few months. They're taking a sabbatical from their work, and they want you to come to them. They think it might be a good idea, given all that has happened." Audrey looked at her young charge and suggested. "You might give it some thought, Lizzie."

Just then, there came a knock at the door. Audrey went to answer it, while Lizzie just curled up in a chair, crying once again.

"Lizzie?" Emily walked in, crying as she saw her best girlfriend in tears. "Lizzie, I'm so sorry."

For several minutes, the three cried, recalling Lucky and all that he had meant to them. "And now Nikolas." Emily began.

"Nikolas?" Lizzie stopped crying, her expression shocked. "Nikolas, too?"

"He's not dead," Emily said, quickly. "But Katherine tried to kill him last night." She filled them on what she knew, ending with, "but he's going to be all right. It's going to be even harder on him learning about Lucky."

"We'll help him," Lizzie vowed. "He was Lucky's brother, and he helped us. We'll help him get through this."

Audrey smiled through her tears, grateful that the girls could find the strength to reach beyond themselves to think of someone else in their time of grief. Maybe Europe wasn't the place for Lizzie to do her healing. Maybe Port Charles was more than just her temporary home-maybe it was the home of her heart.

Tony Jones looked at the small red-haired boy in the playpen, his heart filling with the wonder of his son. The little boy turned his bright blue eyes on his father, and smiled, as if knowing the love that the older man had for the child. Incredibly, there had been few tears in the change from Jason's custody to his, but Leticia had done what she could to ease that. Now, she was his housekeeper/nurse for the baby, and for the first time in several months, Tony began to feel as if his life might someday return to normal.

"Sr. Jason had a great love for the child," Leticia explained. "I know of his accident, and that many thought that he had no feelings, but this little one-this little one touched the heart of that man and brought light into his life. Me, I think that he could not bear to let that light go until he feared for the boy's life."

"I can understand that," Tony admitted for the first time. "He's a wonderful little boy. I hope that he'll adjust to his new name, soon."

"Robert Anthony Francisco Jones. It is a lot of name for such a small boy. I know this Francisco name-it is your brother, and the Anthony-that is for you. But who is this Robert?"

"The name of one of the finest men I've ever been privileged to call my friend-Robert Scorpio."

Robert's daughter, Robin, offered Alexis some tea. "I assume you're going to share the information that you gleaned on this past trip with us?" The atmosphere was strained, and the foursome smiled at each other somewhat uncomfortably.

"Us?" Alexis asked, still frankly curious about Robin and Zandor. "You still haven't shared with us the reason that you were a couple of Johnny's on the spot to rescue us. We were expecting Jerry, and got the two of you, instead."

"It was more convenient for us," Robin supplied cheerfully. "We were in the neighborhood, so to speak."

"Just flying over Libya?" Jax asked, his tone suspicious.

"We've been over stranger areas," Zandor injected casually.

Jax turned to Robin and asked, "Since when did you start hanging about with the likes of him?"

"I've known Zandor for years," Robin answered. "He knew my parents."

"WSB?" Jax asked, looking at the other man.

"I consult for them," Zandor answered. "Now and then."

"Which means 'yes'," Alexis observed. "Were we under surveillance?"

"We were monitoring distress signals," Robin supplied.

"I'm finding that hard to believe," Jax told them. "All of the signals and you picked up ours?"

Zandor smiled a predator's smile. "Let's just say that we suspected you might encounter problems. We'd intercepted some calls between certain individuals and one Helena Cassadine. They indicated that they'd allowed you to escape according to plan." He paused while Jax and Alexis digested this bit of information. "Which lead us to believe that you might be in danger."

"Dare we ask why you were monitoring Helena?"

"Wouldn't you, if you could?" Robin asked, innocently. A bit too innocently.

Alexis nodded thoughtfully. "Damned straight I would."

"So now, are you going to tell us what you learned?"

"Perhaps we could negotiate a trade?" Jax began.

"The way I see it, you already owe us," Robin answered. "One free ride out of the desert for a look at the paperwork that you stole from that office."

"A fair trade," Alexis smiled, surrendering the papers freely. She waited until Robin looked over the documents before observing, "You see, nothing. We learned nothing."

"Au contraire," Zandor smiled wolfishly, looking over Robin's shoulder. "You were looking for something and found nothing. We, on the other hand, were looking for nothing. Bingo!"

Bobbie sat quietly in the living room of her brownstone and tried to think. Normally, she'd be at the hospital, caring for patients, but she'd forfeited that right a year ago. Now her life was in a shambles, the results of her lies and deceit. At least she still had Lucas, though for how long she wasn't sure. Maybe she should just take him and run, like Luke suggested.

"No," she whispered aloud. She couldn't do that. No, wouldn't. She wouldn't drag Lucas away from the only home he'd ever known to evade the consequences of her decisions. It was time to assume responsibility for her actions, and she wouldn't train her son to do otherwise. She owed it to him to make certain that he understood that life was what it was because of the things one did, the choices one made. Besides, Carly still needed her, and this time, she wouldn't fail her daughter, or make more dumb decisions. And, she wouldn't run out on her brother who had just lot his son, her nephew. No, she would stay where she was and take whatever was to come, whatever it was that Tony chose to dish out.

This time, she faced squarely the facts that Tony Jones had done some of the things he'd done as a result of her actions, actions that she'd known at the time were wrong. He'd nearly lost everything because of her lies, and now, those lies were coming home to roost.

"But Tony's a fair man," she told herself. "He wouldn't do to me....what I did to him, would he?"

Dr. Tony Jones watched as Laura walked towards the room in which Nikolas lay, still recovering from his surgery. He could tell from the way she stood, the way she walked, that she was near collapse, and he couldn't blame her. There was something about the link that a woman shared with her children, something sacred, something that someone had stolen from her forever.

"And I can't do that," he told himself quietly, walking away. Quickly, he headed out of the hospital and over to the brownstone, all the while turning over in his head the things that he wanted to say. He knocked at the door, and then turned the knob. "Bobbie?"

"Tony?" came a quavery voice. "I'm in here."

He entered the building, making his way into the room where she sat dabbing at her eyes. "I heard about Lucky and Nikolas. Thank heavens that he's going to be all right."

"At least one of them will survive," Bobbie nodded. "Laura is going to have a very hard time with this."

"Perhaps you could help her?" Tony suggested gently. "You know what she's going through."

"So do you."

"Yeah. We both know what it means to lose a child, and how it can make you crazy for a while."

"We do." Bobbie sniffed. "I didn't know love could hurt that much."

"Neither did I. Bobbie, I'm a lucky man."

Shocked, she turned wide eyes on him. "You think that you're lucky? With all that's happened to you, you still think you're lucky?"

"I'm alive, I have two sons and a good job. Things could be better, but they could be a lot worse."

"Tell me about it."

"That's what I'm trying to do. I can't do what I was going to do, Bobbie. I can't take Lucas from you, and I will withdraw the suit that I filed against you. I can't promise that General Hospital will take you back, but I will do what I can to help you get your life back in order."

Momentarily speechless, Bobbie asked, "Why? After all I've done, why?"

"Because I can make choices that will help, or that will hurt. There's nothing good to be gained from seeking revenge, Bobbie. That would bring nothing but more pain, and we've had enough of that. I intend to bring my son up to be the best man he can be, and that means that I have to teach by example. That means that I have to walk my talk. I can't be vengeful and spiteful without teaching him to be the same way, and we've seen what can happen when a child goes astray. I've done wrong in my life, but God has blessed me with a little boy anyhow. And, that little boy is your grandson. He's going to need all the love he can get in this world, and what kind of a father would I be to deny him yours?"