PCPD was in an uproar by the time Mac arrived, the place swarming with reporters and attorneys, all of which were expected, and none of which were of any particular use. He pushed past them, then held up one hand to command silence which came surprisingly fast.
"Okay, people. Up front-we don't have all the answers, so there will be no questions taken at this time. And, since I won't be repeating myself, you'd better get this right the first time. Lucky Spencer has been found safe. He was returned only a little while ago, and as a consequence, we haven't finished talking with him, or with his family. Stefan Cassadine has been taken in for questioning in regards to Lucky's disappearance, and the identity of the remains that had been tentatively identified as Lucky's, as well as on the suspicious nature of the fire that originated this whole affair. We are also planning to question him in regards to the fire that destroyed Luke's, a local blues club, not long ago, and concerning the disappearance of the corpse of Ms. Katherine Bell, whose body vanished from the morgue at General Hospital, owned and operated by the Cassadines. Ms. Bell, you recall, had been engaged to Stefan Cassadine not long ago, and was found dead at the home of Nikolas Cassadine, following an apparent attempt by Ms. Bell on his life."
Convinced that he'd said enough, Mac turned and walked towards his office, disregarding the avalanche of questions that followed anyhow. Closing the door behind himself, he turned to Garcia who was waiting for him. "Stefan isn't going to make this easy."
"So what else is new?" Mac grinned. "Hell, I'd be almost disappointed if he did. Still, given Lucky's statement, this is going to cause him a lot of problems. His lawyers will earn their money this time."
"How'd the other go?" Garcia asked.
"Everything is as expected. She's being taken to my place-actually her former home."
"Holding up quite well. She's found her niche."
Both men spoke guardedly, not knowing if they were being observed, or bugged. These days, one couldn't be too careful, especially given what they'd recently learned. It was one thing to hunt big game. It was quite another to be stalked by the prey himself, and that was looking more and more the case.
"She'll be all right," Mac told him. "After all, she loved Anna and will be delighted to have her back, even as she is."
Felicia sat next to Anna, holding her hand, stroking it as one might an ailing child. Blue eyes filled with sympathy, she turned to Tom Hardy. "How long has she been like this?"
"It's hard to say," Tom told her, hating to deceive the woman for whom he still had strong feelings. Knowing that Felicia was Mac's wife filled him with regret, yet he'd have done nothing differently. One did what one had to do, and he'd been chosen in this battle against evil long ago. "She occasionally shows glimmers of something, but it's as if she's trapped by some dark secret in her mind. Her body has healed, but her mind is still ravaged by the past."
"Oh, Anna," Felicia whispered to the woman who had been her friend. "We'll find a way to bring you back. You'll get through this-I promise."
Turning to Tom, she asked, "Is there anything we can do? Is it okay if we talk to her?"
"Actually, we brought her back thinking that surroundings of happier days might help her, might lift the darkness that has her caught in its clutches." He paused for effect. "We thought that having her here with Robin and Mac might help bring her out of this. There's no sign of brain damage, but whatever happened in the explosion that killed Robert and Faison..."
At Robert's name, a tear trickled down Anna's cheek, and Felicia got excited. "Look, Tom! She heard us. She knows."
Tom shook his head. "She's done that at the mention of peanut butter sandwiches, too. Whole wheat with cheese. The tears come randomly, in so far as we're able to deduce."
"It's been a long day," Tom told Felicia. "The flight was uneventful, but Anna seemed a bit agitated off and on. I think that tomorrow we'll try to do more, but for now, we're going to let her rest. Please-for the time being, don't tell anybody that she's back."
"Okay," Felicia promised. "We'll be very careful." With a wistful look at her dear friend, Felicia left the room, followed by Tom who left as Robin entered to take care of her mother.
"Felicia," he began. "I know that I hurt you a few years ago..."
"It's okay, now," she told him. "If it was because of Anna, then I understand. Besides, I've got Mac now, and I'm so very happy with him."
Tom looked around them, at a home the likes of which he would have been sharing with Felicia had things taken a different turn, and once again, told himself that the sacrifices he'd made were worth it. Maybe someday they wouldn't feel like sacrifices.
"It's okay, Mom," Robin whispered, after locking the door. "The room's clean. No bugs of any kind."
"Thank heavens. Do you have any idea how uncomfortable it is to sit for hours like a lump?" Anna rose and stretched. "Have you heard from your father?"
"No, but he's supposed to be scouting the docks and making contact with Jason."
"I like your young man. He shows great promise-in spite of all that has happened to him."
"So what's on the agenda for tonight?"
"We're sticking around here, in case anybody comes calling. Felicia seems fine-is Mac certain that somebody is playing around with her mind?"
"Yeah. Selective amnesia and Mariah's lame excuses for her absence. Things aren't quite right, yet they can't prove anything is wrong."
"Right. That's his m/o. You know that Felicia went missing a few years ago in Europe. We got her back, apparently safe and sound, but if he had her, then he probably took that time to plant something in her mind. That's how he works, you know. He may never use her, but if he needs her, he only has to activate the post hypnotic suggestion, and she's back under his control. She won't know it, and neither will anybody else, unless they've seen it happen."
"But we're one step ahead of him this time."
Anna shook her head. "Don't think that, Robin. The man is a past master of all that is cunning and evil. He's also one of the most brilliant men I've ever met. He makes plans, yet changes them to alter whatever is going on around him. Never underestimate him, Robin. I did, once upon a time. And, never believe that he loves anybody, least of all, me. What he calls love is the most twisted thing you can imagine. No, Robin, Faison cannot love. He is incapable of it."
General Hospital is quiet in the wee hours of the morning. The lights are low in some rooms, out in others. Voices are muted, but the work of saving lives and repairing bodies goes on, regardless. Nurses continue to monitor patients, using machines as well as their own eyes to make certain that those in their care remain comfortable. This night was much like any other, except for the slender man who managed to escape notice as he headed towards ICU, towards Lila's room.
It took him only a few seconds to disable the nurse in the room, to assure himself of her continued silence for the next hour or so, and a few minutes to make certain that the machines continued to function regardless of whatever happened to Lila Quartermaine. He'd memorized the routes taken by the staff, knew that he had at least forty-five minutes before anybody was likely to check on the woman sleeping peacefully in the outside room.
Stealthily, he crept into the inner room, pulling a chair up to sit beside the sleeping, white haired woman. Gently, he took her hand in his, holding it for a few minutes, intrigued when a dream disturbed her rest.
"My babies," she wept. "My darling babies. I loved you both. How I loved you. I'm so sorry."
"It's all right, Mother," Faison said, stroking her hand. He spoke soothingly for a few minutes, rousing her from her sleep, but continued to talk softly until she was semi-conscious, yet not completely under her own control. "I'm back now."
"Are you my son?" she asked, vaguely, almost as if in a dream.
"I am," he admitted. "I had to see you, to find the truth for myself, to know why you did what you did."
"I'm so sorry," she said softly, to the dream child she saw. The child kept vanishing, being replaced by a man whose hard eyes didn't match the smile on his face. "I could not keep you, not without him taking you and he was not a good man, so I did the best for you that I could do."
"I know, Mother. But, I must know his name. I need to know his name, Mother, so that I can know my own."
"Let the past stay dead," she pleaded. "Nothing good can come of resurrecting the past now. Your brother is dead."
"Relax, Mother." He lulled Lila back into a state of near sleep, where the tone of his voice gently pulled secrets from her as he promised retribution. "I must know everything so that I can know what must be done. You see, I suffered greatly because of him, so I must know who he is."
"Was," Lila corrected. "He's dead. But by the time he died, he'd done immeasurable evil."
Faison shrugged. "Like father, like son. But, I must know his name."
"No, my son. I'll spare you that."
"No, Mother. You will tell me the name so I can exact revenge on those who have wronged me and mine. Did you know that I had a son, once, that you had a grandson? But, he was murdered. His blood cries out to me to avenge his death, but to do that, I must go back to the beginning, to deal with my own past, because it is due to that past that I lost the woman I loved. I was young and foolish. I thought I could give her everything, that love would be enough. And, for a while, she loved me, the son of a woman who took care of other women's children while hers languished, neglected and denied. It was only recently that I learned that the woman I called Mother wasn't even my mother, that she had been paid to take me."
"My poor baby."
"Yes, Mother," he said, his voice becoming harsh with regret and anger. "Your poor baby was given to a woman who went through the money she was given very quickly, then spent the rest of her life raising the children of other women. I was pushed aside, while her love was lavished on rich little girls."
"My son, forgive me."
"Forgive? Maybe. Tell me the name of the man who sired me, Mother, and give me some peace. You owe me that much."
"Please don't ask that of me."
"I am not asking Mother. I am demanding. Because of your choices, I have suffered. I lost not only the woman I loved and my son, but more. I loved again, but that love was denied me because of things I had done to survive." Again he shrugged, but anger was evident in his posture, in his tone. "I made choices that were, perhaps, unwise, but they were also irrevocable. You see, when you teach a child that he has no worth, then neither does anybody else in his eyes. People were pawns to me, pawns to move around, to use, to sacrifice in my quest for a life of meaning. Now, it is too late for me to change, but I will have retribution for the life denied me, for the wrongs done me and mine. You will tell me, Mother! Tell me his name."
Lila whimpered, but her will was no longer her own.
"Mikkos. Mikkos Cassadine."
A howl of unholy rage rent the air at General Hospital, but by the time the nurses came running, he was gone, and Lila lay crying. "My baby, my poor, poor baby."