"So tell me, Corinthos. Which names do you want first?"

"The name of your tailor," Sonny replied, fighting to keep his anger in check. "I want to make sure I never use him."

"I doubt that would be a problem. He doesn't cater to gutter rats." Ned looked at Robin's bruised cheek, at the swelling around her mouth, and was filled with an icy rage. "Especially not those who abuse women."

"You've made a mistake," Sonny told Ned, his anger nearly boiling over. "And since you've chosen to butt in, you'll have to pay."

"I don't think so," Ned smiled, brushing an imaginary bit of dust from his sleeve. "You're the one who has made the mistakes. Lots of them. You know, it amazes me that a man can be so appallingly stupid and still be the head of the mob-but then only an idiot would want that job." Ned watched as Sonny reacted to the insults, careful to continue goading him, keeping his attention. "Think what you've lost, Sonny. Lily-and your unborn baby. What kind of a man would allow a woman to put herself into the kind of danger that your job entails? Surely not a man who really loved his woman, or his child. Yet, that's what you did. Of course, I should have expected that. You began hiding behind Lily's skirts long before you married her. She tried to escape that life, but wound up dead because of it, because of you."

"Shut up, Ashton!!" Sonny raged, turning the gun away from Jason, and towards Ned who stood as coldly calculating as possible. Sonny continued. "She chose me. She knew what she was getting into."

"Did she? Did she know that your car was wired with a bomb? A man in your position always knows that it's a possibility, and like the rulers of bygone eras who had servants to taste their food, you've always had someone to drive your cars. Someone else to take the risks. Why not that night? Where were your henchmen that night? Who was supposed to be watching the car? Hell, Sonny, she'd just found out that she was pregnant, and you allowed her to get the car! Were you just stupid, or what?"

"Her father arranged that, and he paid. Like you're going to pay."

"Really?" Ned shook his head, and chuckled. "You didn't get your hands dirty that night, did you? You walked out the door and let him shoot himself. Did you ever check on him? Did you think that gunshots and men kissing your hand meant that he was dead?" Ned watched as the truth dawned on Sonny. "You didn't know, did you? The big, bad mobster, Sonny Corinthos, never knew that he was nothing but a puppet in Port Charles. You were too good to run drugs, and too stupid to figure out who was really behind it. Rivera lives, you fool, and again my family has suffered because of you and your associations."

"You won't be suffering for long," Sonny countered, leveling the gun on Ned. "Though I'd prefer watching you in pain for a while, I've really got other things to do."

"That wouldn't be a good idea," Ned told him. "You asked for names-how about Raoul? Yes, your driver, Raoul, has been working with me for a while, as has Carlos, tonight's other body guard."

"Raoul? Carlos?" Sonny called out, hoping Ned was bluffing.

"Eat ****, Corinthos," Raoul yelled back from a distance.

"You're ******," Carlos called from another area.

Ned smiled. "Not exactly an elegant turn of phrase, but essentially accurate."

"I'll walk," Sonny smiled back. "I'll be out before midnight."

"Who said that you were going to jail tonight?" Ned asked him. "Oh, eventually, but not tonight. Tonight belongs to me and a few of my friends." Suddenly, the gun was wrested from Sonny's hands, and he was quickly patted down, disarmed and handcuffed by Taggert who had been stealing up from behind as Ned held Sonny's attention.

"How the mighty have fallen," Jax observed as he walked up, holstering the gun he'd had trained on Sonny the whole time. "Did you catch all that, Brenda?"

"Yeah," she remarked, her voice filled with disdain as she saw the man she'd once loved revealed for what he really was. "Taggert was right, wasn't he? About everything. Your Mom, Deke-you lied about it all."

Sonny turned away, consumed with impotent rage. "She was a whore, just like you are," he began, but was cut short by a quick fist to his jaw as Jax ended his remarks by knocking him cold.

"That's no way to talk to a lady," Jax said, pulling Brenda into his arms. He kissed her as Ned looked on approvingly.

"Now you know the truth, Brenda," Ned said, as he cut the ropes that held Jason and Robin. The younger couple quickly found each other.

"Thanks guys. You, too, Brenda."

"Okay, now, we've gotta work fast," Jax said. "We're all due at Luke's in a few minutes, but this has got to look good."

"The bombs are set," Carlos reported. "And the stiffs are ready. Robin, Jason, we'll need some identifying jewelry or something."

With a heavy heart, Robin pulled off the cameo ring that Stone had given her, and kissed it, saying 'good-bye' to him for the last time, and then added an engraved locket that Katherine Bell had given to her. Jason handed over the heavy cased stainless steel wristwatch that he'd favored for the last few months. "These should come through the fire, damaged, but identifiable."

"Okay, my friends," Ned began. "This thing isn't over yet but it's time to cover our tracks here. Robin, you and Jason have to lay low for a while."

"I'll see that PCPD thinks that Robin, Jason and Sonny died in the fire along with Carlos and Matthews' man who is tied up like a turkey," Taggert said. "An anonymous phone call should tip me off in about a half hour. Raoul, you were in the car when this happened. You figure that a rival bunch made the hit, and you're planning to leave town ASAP."

"No problem," Raoul grinned. He looked down at Sonny who lay unconscious on the warehouse floor. "Worthless bastard. Didn't have the good sense to know when he was overmatched."

"Okay, then let's clean up, sweep the area for any of Matthews' men who may be hanging around to see the finale, and then let's blow this joint." Ned took one last look around and smiled. "Let's do it!"

"Ladies and gentlemen, it is my privilege to introduce the newest face for Jax Cosmetics, Angela." She presented the younger woman who had expressed the desire to use only her first name. Angela stepped into the spotlight, and turned a dazzling smile on the audience. Her eyes swept the crowd, and she lifted one dainty hand. The crowd became silent, and she opened her mouth to speak.

"Thank you all for coming out to greet me this evening. Thank you!!"

In the back room at Luke's, Stefan sat, waiting for Luke to return to their meeting. Mike sat in the office, keeping an eye on Stefan, but left quickly when Luke reentered the room. "Your blonde bimbo is out front, Stefan, probably wondering where you are."

"She is of no concern to me," Stefan told Luke, bluntly. "At least, not like you think she is. Okay, Spencer. I am going to speak frankly with you-and you can believe me or not, your choice. If it were not important, I would not be here, and I most certainly would not be talking with you. Unfortunately, it would appear that circumstances dictate a change in direction..."

"Cut the crap, Cassadine. What the hell is going on and how does Cesar Faison fit into the picture? It's my understanding that he died a few years ago."

"Your information is out of date," Stefan told him. "He survived the explosion that killed your friends-it is a long story, but suffice it to say that he had help-and from my family, if my own information is correct. I have only learned some of this recently."

"So he and Helena are in cahoots? Trying to seize power?" Luke lit a cigar and leaned back in his chair, his feet up on his desk. He puffed for a few minutes, as if considering the information, and then, dropping his feet to the floor, leaned across the desk. "Where is my family, Cassadine? You give me my wife and kids, and maybe we can talk."

"For the last time, I do not know where they are! I have had my own people trying to find them, but to no avail."

"During which time you've been romancing Ding Dong Bell. Right. Your concern is so obvious."

"I did what I had to do," Stefan told him. "And if it meant using Katherine as a cover to save my family, then so be it."

"Say that again?"

"I used her, pure and simple. She knows it." Stefan ignored the cigar smoke and told him. "Katherine knows that I am not in love with her."

Luke frowned. "No?"

"Of course not," Stefan said. "She is beautiful, brilliant in her field, and she has learned a lot about herself since the shooting, but I am not in love with her."

"You said something about a cover?"

"Yes," Stefan admitted. "Why else? I knew that Helena was around, that she has spies, and that she would take as hostage whomever she thought was of value to me so as to insure my cooperation when the time came. I tried to spare those I loved, but it appears that Helena did not buy my romance."

"You romanced Katherine in hopes that Helena would come after her instead?"

"Not precisely, though I have had my own people protecting her night and day. I just did not want Helena to take Nikolas, Bobbie and Lucas."

"Give me a break," Luke scoffed. "The crown prince, I'll buy, but Barbara Jean and Lucas? Since when did you start caring about Spencers?"

"It came as a surprise to me, too," Stefan admitted, almost sheepishly. "And it was not in my plan to be sure. I did not love her when I married her, and she knew that. But, somewhere along the line..." He took a deep breath. "Somewhere along the line I became aware of the treasure that had come into my hands, and at the same time, I realized that if Helena had any idea how much I had come to care for Barbara, she would take steps to use her to control me."

"So you let my sister think that you were having an affair so as to protect her? Damned fine excuse, if Barbara Jean buys it." Luke leaned back to contemplate Stefan's story. "Why should I believe you?"

"Have you not lied to protect Barbara, too? You lied about Laura's death, and then you lied about her daughter's death." Stefan met Luke's direct gaze, and smiled. "Yes, Luke. I know the truth, and I also know that you know and have known for quite some time. But, you see, this is a small area of agreement on which we can build. Neither of us wants to hurt Barbara any more than necessary."

"Works for me," Luke said. "So you want a truce for now?"

"For now. Until Helena and her cohorts are neutralized. The animosity between you and me must stay between us. Your sister and our families will be safe ground."

"By families, let's be specific. Mine includes Laura, Lucky, Lulu, Ruby, Lesley Webber, Barbara Jean and Lucas. And, Tony Jones, though he deserves to get his a** kicked."

"Mine overlaps with yours and includes Nikolas and Alexis."

"Helena and anyone working with her are fair game."

"Helena and anyone working with her are the targets."

To their amazement, both men clasped hands in an unspoken oath of commitment.

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