Faison clicked off the cellphone as he sat beside his young charge who was still reeling from the nonchalant manner in which the older man had said, "Prior to cremation, make certain that a complete autopsy is performed. I would like to know if the medication caused any damage to Ms. Bell's brain and other organs. In the interests of scientific research, of course."
Cesar Faison smiled at Lucky Spencer who lay, strapped down, on a bed, while a dark-haired young woman who greatly resembled Brenda Barrett prepared his arm for something.
"You may relax," Faison told him. "We are only taking a bit of blood. Be gentle, Hannah. We do not wish to harm the merchandise."
"What?" Lucky managed, his throat dry. "What are you doing? Why am I here?"
"Be patient, my young friend. It is because of me that you are alive, even if others think you are dead."
"What happened to me? Who are you? What's going on?"
"Lucky Spencer. How remiss of me. I am forgetting my manners. I am Cesar Faison. Perhaps your friend Robin has mentioned me?" Seeing recognition on his face, Faison nodded. "I see my reputation precedes me. Robin's view of me might be a bit harsh, however. She never fully understood the full picture."
"What the hell are you talking about and why the hell am I here?"
"You sound a great deal like Luke Spencer. Same vocabulary, but you have yet to fully appreciate the uses of subtlety as does he."
"How do you know him?"
Faison exhaled a cloud of smoke and smiled as he watched Hannah draw a vial of blood from Lucky's arm. "Have it tested immediately," he instructed. "You know what we are looking for."
"What have you done to me?" Lucky asked in horror.
"We have done nothing," Faison soothed gently. "But, about Luke. He and I have been doing business for some time. He sells me the occasional diamond, and I advise him on his choice of tobacco. I see you recognize the aroma."
"What is going on? What do you want?"
"Very much is going on, and everything."
"Tell me," Lucky demanded, struggling against the straps that held him down, but to no avail.
"You can't escape me, Lucky," Faison told him. "Nor can you escape your fate. It's in your blood, so to speak. In fact, this whole thing is about blood. You have, perhaps, heard the terms, blood thirsty, bloody minded, blood sucker, blood money, blood letting, blood brother, blood guilt-I could go on, yet the common word among them is blood. It is the life and death of a person. It carries their life through their body, and then carries it out again, in instances like Ms. Bell's. It contains the DNA that determines who we are, who our forebears were. It is worshipped by some, sacrificed by others. It can share life with one in danger of losing it, or it can infect one with the illness of another. Blood is fascinating, don't you think?"
Mac Scorpio stormed into the morgue at General Hospital, demanding, "What the hell happened to Kat's body?"
"I have no idea," Stefan answered. He had been called down to the morgue as quickly as the discovery had been made. "Though, of course, there is an investigation underway."
"Of course." Mac was disgusted, still steaming when Garcia arrived. "I'll expect you to cooperate with my men and I'll also expect a report on my desk by morning."
Stefan nodded. "This is, indeed, strange. We will cooperate fully."
A few minutes later, outside the hospital, Mac turned to Garcia. "This is getting weirder and weirder. Now Kat's body is missing. Did you take double samples of her blood?"
"Yeah," Garcia answered. "I sent some to the WSB a little while ago. We also have Nikolas' house being watched in case of a suspicious fire breaking out, and we also have a guard posted outside his room. We also have Laura Spencer's house being watched."
"Good. There is entirely too much going on here, Garcia. It's not natural."
"I believe you. Any leads yet on the Spencer boy?"
"Not yet, though something tells me that Luke is thinking like we are. What we have to figure out is whether or not Lucky's 'demise' was an end in itself, or another move on this crazy chessboard."
"What about Felicia and the kids?"
"I'm taking precautions, but she doesn't know that. It really ticks her off if she thinks that she's being followed. Besides, she's very involved with the Lila Quartermaine thing at present. Would you believe that the old lady gave Felicia a locket that has a picture in it of a woman who looks very much like Felicia?"
Garcia chuckled. "At this point, nothing would surprise me. Edward had his share of affairs-maybe Lila had a couple, too?"
"Who knows? Anyhow, it's given Felicia something to work on that has her completely engrossed, and with any luck will keep her from getting involved in whatever is going down around here."
Garcia gave him a skeptical look.
"Okay," Mac grinned. "A guy can dream, can't he?"
"Carly?" Bobbie began, going to her daughter's side.
"Mom?" Carly asked, her eyes sad and troubled. "I want out of here."
"I'm here to take you home."
"They're not keeping me?"
"Of course not. You weren't committed, just brought here in shock. Stefan was being difficult about having us in General Hospital after he found out what I did."
"I'm sorry, Carly, but AJ is dead. Oh, Carly, so much has happened in the last few days. You'd better sit down and let me explain. Nothing is as it was, but hey, things have got to get better." Bobbie tried to cheer up her daughter as she tried to put the best possible face on a wretched situation. "Now, let me fill you in."
"No, no funeral," Monica said, turning her back on her only natural son's body. The funeral had been delayed as medical emergencies and other family needs had taken precedence. Now, the funeral had been called off.
"But Monica," Alan began. "He was our son, too."
"He was, once upon a time, back when he was a little boy and we could have done something to help him grow into a man, not the disaster he became. Maybe it's better this way, Alan, that he was not the baby's father. He tried to kill Jason and nearly killed Michael, too."
"He's not Michael any more," Alan observed, absently. So much had taken place in the past few days that he almost longed for the solace of the mind numbing drugs that he'd taken once. But, denial was its own sweet pain, and so he abstained from anything that would take that from him. "Tony is calling him 'Robbie.' He'll forget us soon enough, forget all that happened to him."
"I wish we could."
"I don't," Alan told her, pulling her into his arms. "I lived for a long time in a world of forgetting, of hiding, and of deception. This hurts, but I've learned that hurting has to precede healing, that to hide from it is to cause it to fester and become far worse."
"But we were responsible for what AJ had become, the monster who would try to kill his own brother."
"No, Monica. AJ was responsible, and it's time that we realized that. All those years that we kept responsibility from him, kept him from answering for his sins-yes, those are our sins, but this one, this one is his alone. He was an adult, he was sober, and he knew what he was doing. And we'll give him a memorial service as soon as mother and father are recovered. For now, we'll have him buried in the family plot."
Alan turned to the body of his son and, as tears slid down his cheeks, said, "Good bye, AJ. Rest in peace at last."
Laura sat quietly in the park, watching Lulu throw bread to the pigeons, wondering how the little girl could be so comfortable. Life as Laura knew it was different. Changed. Horribly.
She felt frail, fragile, somehow set apart from her own life, almost an observer. There were things she was supposed to be doing right now, things like planning a funeral. "But how?" she whispered. "There's nothing to bury. It's almost like he never even was."
"Oh, he was, Laura," Luke said, coming up behind her. Sitting down next to her, he looked at the woman he'd once loved with his whole heart. "And he made a difference in both of us. He was the best of both of us-like Lulu is."
Laura nodded, unable to speak, so Luke continued. "His friends will be wanting a memorial service, a way to say good-bye to him. I think that we should give them that. God knows that I still can't believe that he's gone."
"Neither can I," Laura said. "I always knew before if something was wrong, I always sensed it somehow. But not this time."
Luke pulled her into his arms as she began to sob anew. "We'll make it, Laura. You because Lulu needs you, and that's a good enough reason for me, too. Lucky would expect us to deal with this in a way that wouldn't embarrass him. You know how teenagers are about their parents."
Laura gave a tearful chuckle. "He hated it when we made a fuss. He told me once that he felt really good when we were cool about things that would upset other parents. You think that he'd want us to be cool about this?"
"Maybe not cool, but he would want us to deal with it and he'd want us to get the bastard that did this to him."
Laura nodded, her grief temporarily forgotten in the heat of a mother's anger. "Oh, we will do that, Luke. We'll do that if it's the last thing we ever do." Sniffing into a tissue, Laura continued, "And I hope that Kathryn Bell had nothing to do with this because I want to kill whoever did."
"Well, well, well," Faison commented to Lucky as he perused the charts that Hannah had brought him. "Your work here is finished, Hannah. Now, your other project must begin. Do you have the vial?"
"Of course, Cesar. I'll report in as usual."
"Excellent. Now, Lucky, as I was saying. Your worth has greatly increased. Your blood has told me a very interesting story. Now, if further tests confirm my suspicions, there may be no reason for me to kill you after all. Indeed, you may turn out to be one of my best investments."