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Chapter II


Carly looks at the list that was sent by the estate lawyers and frowns. Something is off. She directs the computer to match the emailed list of estate assets to the game. The computer comes back with an inquiry. *what color for unassigned armies?* Like the Risk game each of the holdings is called an army and the army colored to designate who controlled them. "Oh shit." Carly mutters. She selects a color not in play and hits enter and refresh. "Oh shit- shit- shit." Carly raises her voice loud enough for Stavros to hear where he is checking on Michael doing his lessons with the tutor. "STAVROS!!!"

Stavros comes out of the other end of the suite. "What is it? A problem with your holding company, the one you are using to buy up the essence?"

Having the estate set up like a game allows her to get a fast picture of the entire situation. Which is just what Carly intended. Stavros done the same thing with Deception for her-- splitting out the individual company needs and assets but it had been reems of boring paperwork and files. Carly had been the one to think of putting his lessons into a game format on the computer. That game had Laura holding most of the armies and small individual armies assigned to others; companies Deception dealt with. Her task was to gain control of the small individual pieces before she launched an attack on the major share holder-- Laura. Stavros had liked the way she'd set it up and requested she do the same for the estate. "I was working on that but I got an email from the lawyers... they sent the last accounting of the estate Holdings--one from five years ago. It doesn't match what you have been using. So I switched over to the Estate Game. Look!"

Stavros stands behind Carly resting his hands on her shoulders. "Who is this green?"

"Good question. The green refers to all the holdings that the lawyers sent that weren't on your list." Carly runs a finger over the screen. "A good third of the armies now aren't under Cassadine control."

Stavros reaches around her and using the trackball in the center of the keyboard aims it at one of the green stars and clicks on it. The name of the company comes up along with all the details that the lawyers had sent along-- how long a Cassadine asset and what the company did. "Research this holding for me. Find out who has it now. Do... five of them. If there is a common name I want to know it."

"What do you think is going on?" Carly worries looking over her shoulder up at Stavros.

"It could be a couple of things. Assets that were no longer assets but liabilities and disposed of."


"Or someone has been playing our game without being invited." Stavros says grimly.

"Who do you think it is? Who is trying to steal your territory?" Carly puts it into terms she is familiar with.

"I won't prejudice you. Find out. Then I will deal with it."

"What are you going to do? While I'm doing this?"

"Lucien Caine is coming back out of the box, my dear. We don't want your name associated with taking over the company here in Turkey-- only the holding company. I, as your representative, will make it so."

Carly looks at him sternly. "Remember you are on a budget." Carly remembers too well the excursion to the Bazaar. "I only have two million dollars and that's to last me and Michael forever." Carly refers to her settlement from Sonny after he'd pulled the rug out from under her at Deception. It had been transferred to a bank in Switzerland Jason had recommended long ago. "You break me, and I'll break you."

Stavros chuckles. "Yes, as you so frequently remind me. That's why I selected this company for your first skirmish. The money exchange rate works in your favor. But remember the name of the game is RISK. And you can't win if you don't roll the dice."

"It's two million dollars and it's the only dice I have. You lose it and I'm stuck going back to Port Charles and living in my house there surrounded by people who want me locked up in a looney bin. And Michael locked up in either a boarding school or fortified penthouse. I know it's small potatoes to you but I'd just as soon have options-- for me and for Michael."

"Don't you trust me?" Stavros asks quietly.

"I trust you more than I trust anyone else including myself but I've been burned before."

"I feel the same." Stavros nods. "Get me a name, Caroline."

"Get me a company, Stavros."

Jason stuffs the last few items in his duffle. He is in the maid's room off of the kitchen in the Penthouse. It's a room he's claimed as his own before. Sonny watches him pack. "I'm going with you." Sonny declares.

"No. If we both go there will be nothing left here for either of us to come back to. I'll take care of this. I know you were hurting, Sonny, but things are being missed here and you have to get things back in hand so it will be safe for Carly and Michael to come back."

"I looked for her, Jason. I did. When I got that note I came straight back here, to her house, to the brownstone and then I started looking but it was like she fell off the earth. Everyone was looking for Stavros Cassadine-- the cops, the other Cassadines. Nobody had any luck. And I wasn't the only one looking for Carly. The Quartermaines have been turning everything over. AJ got an order demanding access to Michael in Carly's absence."

Jason straightens. "What?"

"I don't know." Sonny shrugs. "You'd have to ask Alexis what happened."

"Son of a bitch." Why do I ever come back to this f'ing town?! All I end up doing is putting out one fire after another. "I have to go. The plane is waiting." Jason strings the duffle up over his shoulder. "Get the house in order, Sonny. If Carly doesn't feel Michael will be safe here she'll never come back no matter how much she loves you."

"I'll take care of it." Sonny gives Jason a hug not really noticing that it isn't returned. Jason walks out of Penthouse #4.

Johnny is waiting there. "Everything okay?"

"He's got his game back for now. I'll let you know how it goes."

"Miss you when you're not around, boss." Johnny tells him.

Jason pauses and then hits the button for the lobby. He looks over at Johnny consideringly. It was an interesting choice of pronouns.

Carly is going thru the third of the five companies when a thought occurs to her. She isolates the names of the holdings not in Cassadine custody and makes another inquiry. *Which of these holdings have changed hands in the last year?* The computer starts working and spits out a list of names. It knocks about 25 holdings off of her list. She codes them a different color on the game and then looks at the list that remains. One name had come up in two of her three earlier inquiries. *search list for major stockholder-- Jasper Jacks or J&J Alaska.* Carly assigns a specific color to that. The board starts growing increasingly colorful. There are still a few properties that are green and purchased within the last year but it's a more manageable number. Opening a new screen she takes them one by one listing the majority stockholders-- looking for common denominators.

Michael, taking a break from his tutor, comes out of the back suite and crawls into Carly's lap. "Watcha doin', Mama?"

"Stavros and his brother are playing a game." Carly explains. "All of Stavros men are this color. And all of his brother Stefan's men are this color." Carly points out.

Michael reaches for the screen. "Is this you, Mama?"

"No, I'm just watchin'. That's Jax."

"Grandpa Jerry's brother?"

"You remember Grandpa Jerry?" Carly asks curiously.

"SURE!! He gave uncle Lucas a pony and talks funny but doesn't have squinty eyes like Grandpa Roy." Michael shows Carly what he means by doing a pretty good imitation of Roy when he's thinking about something. "Grandma calls it his constipated look. What's constipated?"

Carly spits her tea back into her cup glad it didn't land on the laptop. Her voice is rough from coughing and laughter when she answers. "You'll have to ask grandma." She decides to refocus Michael. "So if you were Stavros which man would you take over?"

"This one." Michael points to one of Jax's holding that is surrounded by Stavros' armies.

Entering silently to observe them unnoticed, Stavros finally speaks up. "Why?"

Michael looks over his shoulder at Stavros. "Cause he's all by himself, and I think he's lonely."

Stavros brushes a hand over Michael's still baby fine straight red hair. "I think you're right. And I think your tutor is lonely too. Perhaps you should go see if he wants to take a walk."

"Okay! Are you coming too?"

"Your mother and I have business but then we will meet you...." Stavros points to a place right outside the hotel. " one hour. Show me one hour on your watch."

Michael holds up the new watch he got at the Bazaar. It isn't one of those baby LED watches that tell the time, but a big boy's watch with a face on it.

"Yes." Stavros agrees with a nod as Michael shows him the time. Michael goes racing off.

"What's up?"

"I was wondering the same."

"I asked first." Carly counters.

Waiting until Michael and the tutor leave, Stavros reaches into his briefcase and removes the signed contracts. "Yes!" Carly snatches them from his hand and curls up on the couch with the contract going thru it line by line. She'd had the rug pulled out from under her with a betrayal clause before. There was going to be nothing like that in these.

"All they need is another signature and a fund transfer." Stavros explains. "You look like Michael sounding out each word." Stavros says with a smile.

Carly doesn't look up from the contract. "I know I went over them before you left, but Alexis taught me the hard way. I thought when she wrote up the initial contract for Deception she was protecting Sonny and me. Turns out it was just Sonny. One freaking clause that wasn't there the first time I read it. GO! Go read what I found. You're distracting me."

Stavros shakes his head but goes over to the laptop. The screen has changed since before the meeting. When he'd left there'd been three colors on the screen. Now there are five: him, Stefan, the green unknown and red.... He clicks on one of those. Jasper Jacks. why did that name sound familiar? "Jasper Jacks."

"AKA Jax." Carly calls from the couch and then spells it out.

"Helena mentioned him." Stavros looks over at Carly and catches her smirking.

"Oh I bet she did. He's purty." Carly draws that out. "Tall... buff... looks like an Aryan recruiting poster."

"My father had dealings with a John Jacks-- from Australia?"

"Father probably. Totally mobbed up. Someone got in his way and WHAM! Hammer to the hand... which really is a bitch when you're a miner." Carly does the mental math. "Back then he probably wasnt too rich, just mean." Carly finishes up the contract, winces at the price even though it leaves her over half her savings and signs the contract. She brings it over to the table and sets it down by Stavros. She pulls up a chair next to Stavros. "-- Two sons. The oldest, Jerry, he's cool I guess. Remembers what it was like to be broke. Hooked up with Mama when he was in town. And Jax.. well, he was married... to Alexis."

Stavros lifts a single brow. "Really."

"Really! It was some kinda scam. Jax was totally into Chloe Morgan." Carly is so involved in the story telling and watching the screen that she doesn't see Stavros' flinch. "And then went chasing after a ghost. But Jax and Alexis are tight." Carly holds up two fingers together. "And 'cause Helena was always poking at Alexis..." Carly pulls the laptop angling so she can type in a command. "...see Jax started moving on the Cassadine Holdings in the last year... when Helena was in charge and Stefan was playing dead. Look-- he was moving even before he came back to Port Charles."

"Do you know if Alexis was in contact with him before he came back to Port Charles?"

Carly frowns and shakes her head. "I don't know. And Alexis wouldn't have told me-- we don't get on. She definitely wouldn't have told Sonny. Sonny hates Jax."


"The ghost. Brenda Barrett. Her psycho mother drove the both of them off a cliff but Brenda's body was never found. Brenda played Sonny and Jax off against each other. Brenda burned Sonny. She wore a wire on him. It's one of the reasons why Sonny is so betrayal oriented."

Stavros looks down at his watch. "We should go and meet Michael."

General Hospital. Gia walks up to the nurses station. She and Nik had worked this one out on their way over. Nik hangs back a little bit within ear shot. "Hey Ms. Spencer."

"Gia, hi." Bobbie looks up from her task. "How are you? Taggart was just telling me this morning that he never sees enough of you... cept in the magazines." Bobbie grins at the last.

"I could be living with Marcus, and it wouldn't be enough. He's got that big brother thing going on."

"I'm familiar." Bobbie says wryly. "Are you okay? Do you have an appointment?" Bobbie reaches for the computer terminal ready to input Gia's name.

"No, I'm fine. I actually came to talk to you."


"Have you heard from Carly?"


"Well things are going great at Deception for me and I know she's the one that believed in me and gave me a shot and I really wanted to get in touch with her and say thanks."

"No." Bobbie says shortly. She slams a chart back into the rack. "I haven't heard from my daughter since my SOB ex-son-in-law... No, I haven't talked to her. Every once in a while I get a package of pictures and a very brief note. And that is all the communication I get from my daughter or grandson. Because AJ is coming at her again... they aren't even post marked. They are hand delivered. I have no idea how to get hold of Carly."

"No idea where she is?"

"Near water. Somewhere warm." Bobbie shrugs. "Look I really don't want to talk about this."

Gia backs off. "Sorry. I didn't mean to upset you."

"You didn't upset me. The situation upsets me. Thanks to Sonny Corinthos I've lost my daughter and grandson." Bobbie picks up a bundle of phone messages and leaves the nurses station not even saying goodbye.

Gia walks back over to Nik. "Well that was interesting."

Nik frowns. "Very. Water and warm. Come on."

"Where are we going?"

"To the brownstone, Bobbie always puts pictures in albums. She's compulsive about it."

"You're going to break into Bobbie's house?"

"No, you are going to visit your brother and I'm going to wait in the foyer while you do."

Jason shifts in the first class seat to Geneva, Switzerland. "Can I get you anything?" The stewardess offers.

"Beer." She lists off all the beers foreign and domestic offered. Jason looks at her flatly. "Beer." Before she can offer pillows, blankets or the cute little slippers, Jason immerses himself in the travel book he'd picked up in the airport. It wasn't the first time he'd been to Switzerland. Everytime he swings thru Europe he checks in since it's one of the places his emergency get your ass out of Dodge stash is. But he'd never had a reason to consult an attorney there. Jase's eyes narrow. Carly stashed her money there too. If there was any activity on her account... maybe he could track her that way. And if there was no activity... then he'd know for sure it was hitting the fan. Carly not spending money was like anyone else not breathing. He glances down at his watch, calculating the time of the trip and the time difference. They'd be arriving just before start of business. Might have time for some breakfast before hitting the streets. Jason contemplates the mess he'd walked into back in Port Charles-- Carly had some serious explaining to do.

"I'm going with you."

"No, you're not."

"Yes, I am."

"Damnit Gia! I don't want you anywhere near my father. Don't you remember what happened last time?"

"Yes, I do. That's why I'm going. You aren't leaving me here for him to sneak up on!!"

Nik sighs. It's a bitch when she has a point. "Sparky..."

"Besides I get along with Carly. You on the other hand..."

"Fine. Fine." Nik picks up his overnight bag and Gia's as well. "But if I say we're out of there. We're OUT of there."

"Yeah, same goes." Gia reminds as she shuts the cottage door behind them.


Twenty minutes later. Nik and Gia are buckling into the Cassadine Jet. Nik pulls a picture out of his pocket. He'd found a packet in the front of one of Bobbie's photo albums. Figuring it was the most recent, he'd gone thru it and selected this picture.

Gia looks over his shoulder. "It looks like a beach to me."

"A very nice beach." Nik agrees. "I used to go there every afternoon with Stefan. This cove was my mother's favorite place on the island." Nik points out a familiar rock formation in the background of the picture.

"It's Carly and her son. You can't really be sure..."

"The sandcastle."

"It's very nice, what about it?"

"It's the Hagia Sophia. Istanbul, Turkey. That's where my grandmother always stashed her goodies in that part of the world. Stefan said Stavros had just liquidated the last of Helena's holdings."

Alexis stares out over the cityscape from Jax's penthouse apartment in the Port Charles Hotel. She hugs her arms close to her body. She hadn't been able to get warm since being on the launch with Jason. Okay so Carly was no innocent. But Michael is. And Carly had saved her life when Sorel had them hostage. She'd put herself between Alexis and Zander and the gun. She'd kept Sorel focused on her. Carly might have even been able to talk them out of there if Sonny hadn't shown up with a bomb strapped to his waist. a bomb. And when Mac had made his play at Agatha Christie, Carly had defended Sonny against her advice to keep her mouth shut but she hadn't made things worse. The only time her shock had shown was when AJ was making his big revelation.

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