Chapter Nine

Mac Scorpio stared at the fire that raged over Jason's Bike Shop, and thanked heaven that Robin was no longer involved with the young man. Pity Luke hadn't felt the same. Unfortunately, the Spencers tended to make their own rules. They lived by them, and, it appeared, they died by them.

"Where's my son?" demanded Luke as he ran towards Mac who clinched his jaw, hating what he knew was the truth, what Luke would realize in a matter of seconds.

"Nobody has gone in or out. The place was burning out of control when the call came in, and the firefighters haven't been able to get close enough to learn anything."

"But Lucky..." With horrified eyes, Luke looked towards the building, then began to run, but Mac caught him.

"You can't go in there, Luke."

"The hell I can't. That's my boy's place." He struggled to throw off Mac's hands, but Mac held him tightly.

"If he got out, he's okay. If he didn't, it's too late, Luke."

"Luke, Scorpio," came another voice. Luke turned to see Sonny Corinthos who strolled up, his eyes taking a quick appraisal of the damage that had been done, that was ongoing. "I heard about the fire." He looked at Luke and read the anguish on his face. "Did Lucky get out?"

Luke turned to Sonny, and read a certain knowledge in the man's eyes. "You knew before you got here, didn't you? Oh, God!" He turned, his voice a painful wail above the sirens, "Lucky!!!"

As Luke cried out, the burning building crashed down in a golden blaze.

Sunlight glinted off the blade arcing down towards him, sending a shaft of light blazing into Nikolas' eyes. "What the..??" he managed, rolling to one side just enough to escape the worst of the golden dagger. The knife slashed across his back, and then the terror returned as it rose again.

"Kathryn!" cried Nik, trying to untangle himself from the sheets that would become his shroud if he couldn't escape. "What are you doing?"

But she didn't answer, just kept coming at him, her blue eyes glazed with some nightmarish need, her lips drawn back, teeth exposed as if in a feral threat.

His head was spinning, his heart pounding in an adrenaline rush, but his body was responding only sluggishly as the blood poured from the wound across his back. This time, as the dagger came down, he blocked it with his arm, taking only a slight scratch. But, undaunted, Kat returned again and again slashing and stabbing at him, driving him towards the door from his bedroom to the hallway. "Kathryn!" Nik called out, trying to reason with a woman beyond it.

Nikolas struggled to catch the hand that held the knife, but his movements were, for some reason, clumsy and his normal agility escaped him. He tripped over one of her shoes, falling into the hallway as she again slashed out, this time striking his shoulder. A ragged cut welled up and streamed more blood bringing a look of near satisfaction to Kat's face. Seeing her prey lying on the floor, she moved in for the kill, following him into the hallway near the staircase.

Raising the knife for one last attack, she lashed out, but this time, so did Nik. He kicked out, catching her in one knee, knocking her off balance. Struggling to retain her balance, she fell towards him, onto him, knocking the air from him.

A scream rent the air, then all was still. All but the blood that pooled around them, finding its way to the edge of the landing where it dripped over the edge and down the stairs.

Just outside Kelly's, Jerry Jacks lifted his cell phone to his ear, listening briefly. "Zandor? How'd you get this num...nevermind. I probably don't want to know. You've got them located? How'd you....I see. Okay. Look, buddy, we're going to have a long talk next time we meet. You want me to stay here? They're all right, aren't they? Okay, then I'll stay here. You owe me for this. Me owe you? Nobody asked you to butt in, you know. Okay, okay. Yeah, I'll pass the word along. He'll be relieved."

"Who'll be relieved?" asked Ned Ashton as he approached the diner that was, apparently, closed. "Me, I hope?"

"Actually, yes," Jerry smiled, and Ned wondered what it was that he hadn't been told. "I just got a message from Jax and Alexis via a mutual acquaintance."

"I was wondering why she didn't call last night."

"They were....inconvenienced."


"Their plane developed a little trouble but they're fine and will be home in a day or so."

"Define trouble and specify the date of their arrival."

"I don't have all the details, but there seems to have been a difficult landing over North Africa. At any rate, they're both fine and looking forward to getting home."

Ned's fists clinched and he gave a grim smile. "You know, I may kill Jax as a preventative measure."

"How's your grandmother?" Jerry asked, attempting to change the topic. "I was sorry to hear about your cousin. I can appreciate family difficulties."

Allowing himself to be diverted from Alexis, Ned's face took on a more grim aspect. "Lila is holding on, that's about all. She took AJ's death badly, as might be expected. She always saw the good in all of us, even when the rest of us couldn't see it. Granted, she had to search for some in AJ, but she managed. Edward is recovering nicely, but I don't think that he has yet grasped the seriousness of Lila's last attack."

"Love will do that to a man," Jerry nodded. "Lady Jane refused to believe that Dad's last attack was a serious as it was. I think her love pulled him through."

Ned shook his head. "How is it that your family manages to hang together, in spite of all the trouble that you've encountered? I mean, we stay together, but it's not the same. There's something else that you have, something that eludes us."

"Your family has loyalty," Jerry observed thoughtfully. "My family has love. There's a difference."

Emily rose from her bed early, as the sound of the telephone broke through her troubled dreams. They were all she had nowadays. Nothing was the same as it had been, and nothing would ever be the same again. Grandmother was lying in the hospital, and while nobody told Emily, she knew that Lila was dying, just like her mother had died a couple of years ago. There was nothing to be done, and God knew that if money could change things, Lila would be well.

But money couldn't buy health, Emily knew. It couldn't buy anything important, when everything was said and done. Oh, it might make things easier, but in her heart of hearts, the teenager realized that money was little more than tool used by many to become more of whatever they were. A good person with money was a good wealthy person. A bad rich person was nothing more than that. Unfortunately, most people thought that money was an end in itself, and that you should do whatever it took to increase your wealth, and that law or morality were beside the point. Edward was like that. Maybe that was why it had been so easy for Emily to choose Jason over AJ in the paternity issue that had recently been rendered moot. Having lived in the Quartermaine household for the last couple of years, Emily saw very little difference in how Jason and Edward did business. Yeah, Jason carried a gun, but to her youthful mind, that was about the only difference.

Reaching for the phone, she picked it up, catching voices. She was about to put it down, when she heard Lucky's name mentioned.

Suddenly, her eyes opened widely, and she dropped the phone, her hands going to cover her mouth, to mute the anguished cry that escaped her lips. "Oh, God, no!!!"

Laura opened the door to a haggard Luke, his eyes bloodshot and his expression worse than any she'd ever seen before. "Luke?"

Luke walked in, a man totally out of sync with the homey surroundings, turning back to her, his eyes overflowing with tears. "He's gone, Laura. The Cowboy's gone."

Suddenly breaking down, Luke collapsed onto the couch, his hands covering his face as his heart broke, sobbing. "It was a fire, Laura. A fire."

"What? What are you saying, Luke? What fire? Where's Lucky?"

"Lucky? Oh, God! He wasn't this time," Luke wept unashamedly. "His luck ran out this morning. It was arson, I think. Somebody murdered our son."

"No!" Laura said, brokenly. She knelt beside Luke, pulling his hands from his face. "Tell me you didn't say what I think you said. Tell me that Lucky is all right."

"He's not all right, Laura, and nothing will ever be all right again."

"Lizzie?" came a voice softly. Audrey entered her granddaughter's room, where she saw the lovely young woman asleep in her bed. Tears came to Audrey's eyes as she swallowed hard. It was too much, she knew, for Lizzie to have to bear. Her world had just been pieced back together by a wonderful young man, by Lucky Spencer who had not only returned her smile, but had helped Lizzie discover a purpose for her life. And now, Audrey had to tell her that her young man, that joyous boy who had lit up her life was gone.

"Gram?" Lizzie began, sitting up in her bed. "Gram, what's wrong?"

"Oh, Lizzie," Audrey began, the tears falling freely. "Something's wrong. Something's terribly wrong, and I can't make it better."

Lizzie looked up at her grandmother's face, seeing sorrow, pity and deep pain. "Gram? What is it?"

Audrey shook her head, unable to speak, but her eyes were eloquent. She tried, but the words wouldn't come.

"Lucky?" Lizzie asked softly, reading what Audrey couldn't find the voice to say.

Audrey crossed the room and gathered the weeping girl into her arms, holding her closely, wishing that she could end the pain. They sat there, grandmother and granddaughter, one looking into her past, the other crying for the future that would never be.