Ned spoke quickly into the cellular phone, barking orders as the corporate jet taxied down the runway. Alexis was making use of hers, clearing her schedule. She was worried about Ned, about the way he'd reacted to the news about Lois, and even more so, about the news about his daughter. Deep in her heart, she understood better than she could tell him. She'd lost her own daughter years ago. The child's father had seen to that.
Angrily, she tried to push those memories from her mind, wondering again what evil fairy had presided over her birth long ago, so utterly bent on bestowing pain and suffering for her entire life. No, it was more like a Greek tragedy or a myth. What was that myth? Tantalus? Something about your heart's desire being forever just out of reach? No, even that wasn't right, for she had committed no heinous sins against the gods. She had simply loved unwisely. Or was it that she had trusted foolishly? It didn't matter, for the end result was the same. Incredible loss.
Even now, try as she might, the images of the tiny, dark-haired, dark eyed daughter would not go away. Was she grown now? She had to be, or at least very nearly. Alexis tried to imagine how she'd look now. Had she been allowed to keep the name that Alexis had given her? Was she still known as Hannah?
"Lila?" came a harsh whisper from the door of the hospital room. "Lila?"
"I'm sorry, but you can't go in," Amy told the small woman. "Mariah? Is that you?"
"Yes," Mariah confessed, quickly manufacturing, "I thought maybe I'd find Felicia here. She's been working with Lila lately. Something about her memoirs."
Amy nodded. "That was before Lila had the attack." Amy quickly brought Mariah up to date on the situation, the tragedies that had transpired, finishing with, "so I doubt if you'll be able to speak with her. Besides, only Felicia is allowed in other than the immediate family, though what with everything going on, even the immediate family isn't in much."
"Maybe I could just sit with her for a few minutes? You see, we were close years ago, and I hate to see her here alone."
"Only for a few minutes," Amy said. "I'm sure that we can bend the rules for a couple of minutes."
Seconds later, Mariah was alone with Lila, wishing that her old friend would awaken. "Lila? Lila, you need to tell me what to do. That phone call you made to me didn't make a lot of sense."
But Lila lay quietly, beyond Mariah's reach, at least for now.
Luke studied the autopsy report, forcing himself to be detached as he read about the remains of the body identified as his son. The DNA evidence was sketchy at best, and the dental records could have been faked.
"My kid wasn't that dumb," he muttered as he shoved the papers in his pocket. "He wouldn't have fallen asleep with candles going, and he sure as hell wouldn't have slept through the place catching on fire. I'm not buying this!"
He walked out of Kelly's, talking with himself as he walked along the river. "I trained that kid to think, to always be on his guard. To sleep with one eye open. He wouldn't have done this."
He paused, thinking of the thousands of time he'd looked in on his sleeping son, retucking the blankets around him. Lucky had never been able to keep his blankets on, even as a little boy. He'd kicked them off...kicked them off!!!
Luke stopped dead in his tracks. Lucky couldn't have been burned in his blankets-not like the police had speculated. He never kept them on for more than a few minutes, even as an infant. But, the body had been wrapped in blankets. One more strike against the theory and against his son being dead.
"So, Cowboy, if you aren't dead, and I'm choosing to believe that you aren't, then who wants us to believe that you are, and what would it gain for them?" He took another drag on his cigar, then tossed it into the river. "Okay, the M/O is pure Cassadine, but who is the target? Me, or Laura? Or, is it both of us?
"And which Cassadine is behind this maneuver?"
Luke stared out across the river to Spoon Island.
"Lucky," Faison began, entering the room once again. "I'm glad to see that you are feeling more comfortable in your new setting."
"I'm biding my time," Lucky told him. He finished the last of the canned drink that he'd gotten from the small refrigerator in his room.
"And so you should."
"So, why am I here? Why did you want my blood?"
"You're a smart young man. Why do you think that I wanted it?
"You acted as if you were going to test it."
Faison nodded thoughtfully. "That is true. So, why might I wish to test it?"
"You tell me?"
"Lucky, Lucky. I had expected more of you. You are your father's son, aren't you?"
"Very good. Please indulge me and continue."
"Okay, so if I'm not sick, then maybe you're just playing head games with me like you're playing with my parents."
"I'll admit to the games, but that doesn't cover the blood issue."
"You know, you're really hung up on this blood stuff."
"That is true enough. But, you are now playing games with me. Why might I wish to have your blood tested?"
"To make sure that I'm me?"
"You could put it that way," Faison smiled. "And now, I'm quite certain that you are you. But, the question you should be asking is, what does that mean?"
"What does it mean to see if I'm me? Who the hell else would I be? What kind of a dumb-assed question is that?"
"Lucky, your language!"
"My language is going to get one hell of a lot worse if you don't cut the bull and tell me what's going on."
"What's going on is very simple. I have discovered that the pawn was much more. One would have me kill you, another simply arranged for your disappearance. I have done both. You see, you are more valuable to me than either or both of them know. One dared not hope for the truth, the other ignored what was obvious to anyone who cared to see."
"You're talking in circles again."
"It will all make sense in time."
"Nothing is making sense," Lucky muttered, wondering why he was growing more and more tired. His eyes were heavy, and he fought to keep them open.
"Everything will make sense if you only relax."
"Relax," breathed Lucky, his eyes finally closing. Dimly, he was aware that there was a reason that he was falling asleep, that he'd probably been drugged, but whatever it was, it quickly sapped his resistance. That small voice that kept him alert was crushed down to the back of his mind, then closed off.
"Now, just let yourself go, my young friend. Breathe deeply and let the stress of the last couple of days float away. What happened to you was for the best, and you will come to realize that very soon. Somebody wished you ill, but I arranged for your survival. You cooperated with me when you realized that it was the best choice given the circumstances."
"Best choice," Lucky repeated.
"And you deeply regret the pain that your disappearance caused, but it was unavoidable."
"Because we learned that Stefan Cassadine was trying to kill you."
"Because he wanted your mother and saw you as the link that kept them apart."
"And that he would frame his mother for your death, then drive Luke Spencer to kill her, thus ridding himself of both of them at one time."
"Luke. He will avenge your death."
"But he doesn't know."
"We will, when the time is right."
"Time is right."
"And then, you will return to the land of the living, waiting until I have need of you."
"Until you need me."
"And when I do, I will summon your cooperation with the phrase, "ripples in the water."
"Ripples in the water."
"You will respond only to me, to the sound of my voice."
"And you will do whatever I bid as the price of saving your life. It is a debt of honor that you must pay."
"Now, relax. Slip deeper into the darkness of sleep, and when you awaken, you will recall nothing of our conversation until I remind you with the phrase, 'ripples in the water' and you know me only by the name by which your father knows me-Herr Krieg. Our previous conversations will be completely forgotten, and you will be most grateful to me for saving your life."
Faison left Lucky sleeping, then smiled as he picked up the empty can which had delivered the dose of the hypnotic drug to Lucky.