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Chapter XI



Dinner time. Sexual tension around the table could be cut with a knife and most of it coming from the far end of the table where Nik&Gia and Bobbie&Stefan sit. Bobbie ignores Stefan instead making conversation with everyone else. Stefan looks like smoke could come out of his ears; he's so hot. Gia is picking at her dinner using only one hand, the other is under the table linked with Nik's. Michael is holding court with Jason on one side and Bobbie on the other. Both hang on his every word. Carly doesn't look up from her plate and mutters only loud enough for Stavros to hear. "I need to talk to you." She catches Stavros' glance in Jason's direction. "Privately."

He nods which the staff takes as a signal to bring out dessert as no one is much interested in the dinner anyway.

"...And then, Grandma, we've been studying tidal pools. There is a fake one in the class and we go down to the cove for spec'mans." He says earnestly. "But we only keep them a couple days then they go back. And I learned seawater is thicker than real water. I guess that's why you can float on it. 'Cause it's cushier."

"Couple different places you can test that." Jason offers. "Great Salt Lake in Utah or the Dead Sea."

"Why is it the Dead Sea?"

"Too Salty. Even the fish can't drink it."

"Where is it?" Michael demands; he's already figured Utah is too far away."

"Between Jordan and Israel." Jason answers.

"Stavros!" Michael looks at him pleadingly.

Stavros puts on a bored face. "I seldom go anywhere for just one reason. You'll have to do research and tell me many reasons to go and then I will consider it."

"Mama, how many is many?" Michael demands.

"More than three. At least four." Carly shrugs hiding a smile. Stavros might come on all bad ass with Michael about his manners and being proper but he is really such a sucker. She might as well start packing for another excursion.

Michael gets a cagey look. "Can I be excused?"

Stavros and Carly just look at him. Bobbie leans over. "May I..." She prompts.

"May I be excused?" Before Carly has finished nodding, Michael is already racing upstairs. One down

Gia makes a production of yawning. "Oh Sorry. I guess I wasn't ready for all that sun today. I'm exhausted."

Nik feigns concern. "Sparky, why don't I walk you up..." two more down

"I'm gonna go check on Michael." Jason pushes his chair back from the table. one more

Bobbie looks at the remaining three. "I think I'll go give Lucas a call." She beats feet up the stairs.

Carly looks at Stavros. "You want me outta here?"

"We'll talk later." Carly nods at his reply and excuses herself. "Alone at last, Brother."

"You ready to say to my face what you've been saying behind my back?" Stefan goes on the offensive immediately.

Stavros throws back his head and laughs. He rests both hands on the table easily. "I'm sure there is some Americanism about accusing others of what you yourself are guilty."

"Pot calling the kettle black." Stefan says dryly.

"Ah. I understand why you've memorized that one. You've had twenty years, Stefan. Twenty years of your truth being heard. Now it's my turn."

"Not as long as that. It did take me awhile to put our mother in a cage. Unfortunately she broke free. What do you want?"

"Barbara is a lovely woman."

"She is Caroline's mother."

"Your point?"

"You're a sick bastard." Stefan hisses thru gritted teeth.

"Pot and Kettle, Brother, pot and kettle. As sick perhaps as a man who would sleep with his brother's wife? Or pass along his paramour to his nephew?"

"Katherine was..."

"A poor substitute and our mother's pawn. And for her you abandoned your marriage?" Stavros makes a tsking noise and shakes his head. "Breaking with over four hundred years of tradition?"

"Barbara sided with her brother against me, attempted to drug me."

Stavros laughs again. "I knew I liked her. Truly a Cassadine bride. I forbid the divorce."

"You FORBID!?!"

"It is my right as head of the family. Along with an accounting of what you've done to the estate. Shall we retire to the library?" Stavros rises to his feet and walks away from the table not looking back. Stefan pushes away from the table ready to set his brother straight. Before he can begin Stavros is already on the phone. "Caroline, I require you in the library. Bring the computer. The accounting has begun."

"You involved your..." Stefan's distaste is plain.

"Your wife's daughter?" Stefan interrupts and counters. "Would you care for a drink? Or perhaps coffee so you can keep a clear head."

Carly comes into the library. She is dressed for bed in manstyle flannel bottoms and a skimpy spagetti strap tank covered with a thin cotton robe that isn't belted. Her hair is tied up sloppily on the top of her head. "I really wasnt expecting this tonight." She bitches. "And Michael wanted to use the computer to look up some stupid scrolls."

"Caroline." Stavros voice is stern.

"Right. Right. Right." She takes the chair behind the desk leaving both Stavros and Stefan standing. Carly plugs in the computer and calls up the Cassadine Risk Game. Stavros comes up behind her and taps one of the properties currently held by Jax. Carly groans. "This is going to take all night, isn't it?"


"South Seas Petroleum... Cassadine holding since 1966." Carly looks up at Stefan inquisitively, ready to add any additional information to the record of the former holding.

Stefan sighs and takes a seat on the couch. It seems Caroline is correct. It is going to be a long evening.


"Have I really been that bad?" Nik asks.

Gia sighs and grabs Nik's shirt from the end of the bed sighing into it and buttoning a few buttons rising from the bed she goes to the in room fridge and grabs a bottled water. Showing it to Nik, he nods and she tosses it to him and grabs another for herself. Climbing back in bed, she sits cross legged pulling the covers up. "I don't think you listen to yourself sometimes." Gia says wryly. "When it's just us... right here..." Gia indicates the bed with a wave of her hand holding the bottled water. "...But when we go out there... I get it, alright. It's your town, your friends. I suppose it would be different if I had some friends of my own. But it's always the same. You, me Lucky&Liz, Emily&Zander or all of the above. And I get to be the bitch."


"But that wasn't the worst. What really ticked me off was when they came into our home-- my home and made me feel like an intruder. My own home, Nikolas. And that was all going on before you got the great plan in your head to dump me and sandbag your psycho granny."

"It was too dangerous I didn't want you to be anywhere near it." Nik protests falling back on his primary argument.

Gia nods. "Yep. And we all saw how that one turned out. You were doing your own thing... I was doing my own thing. I ended up hanging with your father. You didn't fool anybody for long. We all still ended up trapped in the lab... if it hadn't of been for your father..."

"We would have managed."

"Probably." Nik can tell by the way Gia said the last that she doesn't really believe it. "And then we head here after breaking into Bobbie's place... you don't say word one about Jason being on his way too." Gia straightens her legs out and then slides onto her side tucking her arm under her head on the pillow. Nik matches her movements so they are laying side by side toward each other. "You get it, don't you? That I would do anything for you?"

Nik reaches over and brushes his hand down her cheek. "And I for you."

"Then let me in. I don't want to feel like an intruder in my own life."

"I promise, Sparky." Nik leans in and slowly thoroughly kisses her. He runs one hand down her frame until it rests next to her bare hip. Keeping his weight off her he slowly unbuttons his shirt, planting worshipful kisses over the soft skin exposed.

Gia holds her breath and bites her lower lip. This had never been a problem with the two of them. She twines her fingers thru his hair. Nik looks up at her and then presses a kiss to one cheek and then the other finally pressing an open mouth kiss to her parted lips. Gia ignores the tiny voice in the back of her brain that reminds her that this had never been the problem...nor the solution.

Jason tucks the covers around Michael. Michael keeps his hands free above the covers. "You think I have enough?" Michael asks. "I got the water, and the scrolls and that Masada place, and the caves."

"Turn off your brain. It's time for sleep." Jason counters.


"You aren't going to talk anyone into anything tonight. All the stuff you've come up with is interesting. You might even be able to talk me or Stavros into going. What is your mother going to be doing all the while?"

Michael frowns. "When we were in Istanbul she was buying a factory that makes stuff for perfume. You think there is something like that there? Something she can buy?"

"Maybe. You'll have to check...tomorrow. Now sleep." Jason rises from Michael's bed and goes over to the door. He verifies that the nightlight is in place and reaches for the switch for the main lights.

"Uncle Jason?"


"You going to be here when I wake up?"

"Sure." Jason says easily. "I'll see you in the morning."

"I love you, Uncle Jason."

"Love you too, Mr Man." Jason steps back into Carly's room turning off the lights to Michael's room and closing the door down to about a quarter of an inch. Leaving it open just enough to let Michael know he is still there until he falls asleep. Jason walks over to the doors leading to the balcony. He opens them up and stands in the portal looking out into the dark sky lit only by stars. There are hard decisions to be made.


"Enough!" Stefan roars as he surges to his feet. "I tire of this game."

"That's 'cause you're losing. You'd be having a good time if you were winning." Carly taunts.

"Caroline." Stavros shakes his head.

"You know I don't like the guy." Carly says to Stavros. "Stefan doesn't know me but he likes looking down his nose like he's so much better than all the rest of us. But here it is flat out. Every property that Jax has... he got while Helena was running things-- when she got the estate from Stefan, when Stefan was believed dead or in this last year. She was distracted by a nice set of buns and Jax went raiding. It's what he does.
Looks for a weakness and then BLAM profits by it. And he's always used women. When he was going after the Quartermaines and ElQ he buttered up Tracy, AJ's aunt and I heard Lois too. One of Ned's many ex wives. Tracy teaming up with Jax is what finally got her kicked out of the family. Why would he mess with something that worked. He comes after the Estate and who does he hook up with? Helena... Alexis. And you guys are handing it to him by this constant bitching. As long as the two of you are fighting Jax has it easy. Hell it's worse than Ned and AJ!
Both of you want the Estate healthy for when Nik takes over... it's something you have in common. Deal with that." Carly takes a breath. "I'm hungry. I'm going to go raid the kitchen. You guys want anything?" Carly doesn't wait for an answer before leaving.

"She is very... colorful." Stefan picks his words carefully.

"But is she right?" Stavros asks.

"You are asking my opinion?" Stefan raises a brow.

"I've been... out of it... for the last few... decades. You have been directly observing. Is she right? Will there be anything left of the Estate for Nikolas and his heirs if we continue as we are?"

Stefan sighs and takes a mental step back. He crosses his arms in front of him and considers the problem. "No. There won't be. The strife between me and Mother has already taken it's toll. If we continue the battle..."

"I will bring Jax to heel." Stavros says coldly. "And regain all that was taken from the estate. He will know the consequences of his actions."

A shiver goes down Stefan's spine. This was the brother he remembered but had been little in evidence in this visit. "And."

"You will continue directing the hospital. It has been your focus for the last few years. Anything that is yours... is yours. What is mine will be returned to me."


"Spencer is old and toothless. Caroline has been attempting to teach me... patience. I can wait. Especially with such pleasant distractions."

"Anything else?" Stefan decides to hold his own counsel on this turn of events.

"Begin the ground work for Caroline's return to Port Charles. She will wish to be able to visit with your wife and Lucas at her convenience without the obstacle of the Quartermaines. Since they are working at the hospital you are in the best position to keep them in check."

"I will consider your... offer." Stefan nods and then leaves.

Carly comes back with a platter of goodies she'd thrown together. "Is the coast clear?"

"My brother has retired for the evening."

"What a pain in the.... Do you want some of this?" Carly sets up on a nearby table. "I didn't feel like eating at dinner. Too much tension."


"Could you feel it? Nikolas and Gia. I swear there was something going down between Mama and Count Vlad." Stavros clears his throat and looks at Carly quizzingly. "Okay. Fine. Between Mama and Stefan. Jason has a ton of things on his mind. The only one who was acting normal was Michael." Carly hands Stavros the sandwich she's put together and starts building herself one.

"What did you want to talk to me privately about?"

Carly sets the fixings back on the platter and sighs. "He didn't file the divorce papers."

"Of course not. He would be a fool. Although to threaten something he had no intention..."

Carly pulls back so she can look at Stavros. That's just it. He meant it. I know he did. That's why I signed. The light bulb came on and I knew it was going to happen no matter what."

"And now the shoe is on the other foot. Your husband has been focused on your wrongs toward him. It took you signing the papers to realize how he wronged you."

"But I..."

"ENOUGH!!" Stavros tone halts Carly in her verbal tracks. "Yes. You erred. And if you were mine the consequences would have been swift." Stavros wraps a hand around Carly's throat. "It is unlikely you would have been able to sit without cushions for a fortnight. Perhaps locked in your rooms until I could look at you without wanting to strangle you. But then it would have been over."

"Sonny would never hit me!"

"Instead he would torture you for months on end. That is why you left him."

"You ever lay a hand on me or Michael and I'll kick your ass." Carly threatens.

"For Michael yes. For you-- only if you thought you didn't deserve it. Which is why you've allowed your husband's abuse for as long as you did. You signed because you knew it wasn't going to stop."


"Well it's a good thing I'm not yours!" Carly pouts. She rocks back on her heels. Stavros hand drops from her throat. Carly slides a hand over the back of the couch Resting the side of her head on her fist.

"Yes, isn't it." Stavros agrees with a twinkle. "What do you think Stefan will do?"

"Back off until you take out Jax." Carly replies without thinking then adds confidently. "He likes to have someone else do his dirty work.... just like that faking his own death thing." Carly straightens. "And you know he hasn't mentioned Chloe once. Nothing. Not blaming you for her death. Not mentioning that Helena was the one who actually did it. Nothing."

"I noticed." Stavros says softly. "I agree. Stefan will bide his time." Stavros nods as he thinks it thru. "So I will just have to ensure by the time Jax is eliminated that my little brother's ambition will be focused in another direction."

"Do I get to know where?" Carly lifts a brow.

"I think I will keep that to myself for a while longer." Stavros teases.
"Meanie." Carly swipes at Stavros' arm.

"Now tell me what you wished to talk of privately. Since it is Morgan who brought the word of your lack of divorce... this is not what you wanted to talk to me about."

"Everything is a mess. And I know Jason is going to handle it. But..."

"Is there anything I can do?"

"Probably. But if you got involved it would just tick Jason off and he'd come after you." Carly curls up on the couch next to Stavros tucking herself under his arm. "Jason would love if you got involved. It would be a clear choice. Rather than dealing with the mess at home he could just deal with the outside threat... you."

"Your husband." Stavros sets aside the plate and wraps his other arm around Carly, hugging her to him. Caroline is such a tactile creature. Something that at first was uncomfortable for him but that he'd grown accustom to.

Carly frowns. "Yeah." She sighs. "Jase and I had a long talk while you and Michael were building your castle today. I didn't really get it before... before you and Stefan started fighting. I know the... scale is different but it's the same thing. You've got the estate and Sonny has his territory. The place where he is boss. Sonny is like a brother and a father to Jason. Everything Jason knows about running a territory he learned from Sonny. Everything about code and honor and living in that world. Not that he ever thought that Sonny was perfect. I think he saw Sonny's flaws... but..."

Stavros draws the parallel between the estate and Sonny's territory. "Your husband is mismanaging his territory?"

Carly bites her lip but then says softly. "Yeah. I'm not saying things weren't crazy when Jason was running things... cause they were. Michael got kidnapped. There was that driveby thing..." She shuts up fast and tries to find another example.

"Morgan and I have already discussed when Nikolas was shot." Stavros prompts. "So things were crazy and now..."

"Sonny's moneyman and main body guard what Jason to take over. They think things were better when Jason was running things."

"Were they?"

Carly admits. "As far as I know. I mean Jason never strapped a bomb to his chest and blew up our penthouse."

"You are kidding right?"

"You'll recall Michael and I were not living in the penthouse, Lucien!"


Stefan silently opens the door to the suite. Bobbie is dressed for bed but curled up in a chair reading a book. Bobbie looks up. "Well no blood. That's a good sign. Unless you killed him?"

"My brother lives-- yet again. How is Lucas?"

"Ticked. Once he realized that all of us went to visit Carly: You, me and Nikolas. He has to be wondering what is going on. Thank Goodness he isn't here to hear your brother's raving about us still being married." Bobbie rolls her eyes and then gathers her robe around her, tightening the belt around her as she rises.

"Barbara." Stefan blocks her path. "My brother..."

"What about him?"

"He finds you... lovely."

"I'll thank him the next time I see him." Bobbie shrugs. "Goodnight Stefan."


Bobbie turns around impatiently. "What?!" In that time, Stefan has crossed to her side and gathers her in his arms. Bobbie plants a hand in the middle of his chest. "Whoa buddy. Your brother says I'm lovely and you get an attack of lust?" Stefan takes Bobbie's hand from his chest and presses a warm wet kiss to the palm. His eyes meet hers over her hand. "Damn what is it about you and tropical islands?" Bobbie groans. "You are so bad for me."

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