Jax kicks back on his couch with his feet up on the coffee table and contemplates the ceiling of his penthouse suite at the Port Charles Hotel. His hands are laced together and support the back of his head. Alexis had been seriously freaked. "Course Stavros is seriously freaky." He has an instinctive shudder. Helena was bad enough... seriously sociopathic, but Stavros brought all the horror of the undead but not quite alive with him. He'd been the boogeyman of Alexis' youth and even more so now. Jax'd been smug enough about Spencer's crazy rantings about vamps and wooden stakes. Then he'd gotten his introduction. And Carly Corinthos, a whole different form of vamp. "Now there is a match made in hell." His eyes grow wide and he picks up the phone to call Alexis. "I need to see you. It's important."
On her way to see Jax, Alexis steps out of her penthouse and locks the door, turning she starts when she realizes that her neighbor is on the landing. "Sonny."
"Jason told me..." The pity in Alexis voice comes thru. "I'm so..."
"She's not dead, Alexis. Carly's a fighter." Sonny's hair is back to it's gelled perfection his cheeks denuded of stubble and his suit while a little looser than it had been a month ago hangs on him perfectly. "Jason's gone to get her and bring her home. Home to me."
"I know all about Stavros." and I don't want to hear it aloud. Hearing someone else say it would make it too real. "Carly will be fine. And when she gets back things will be different. I didn't do right by her, Alexis. She's my wife."
"But I thought that you..."
"She's my wife." Sonny insists. He presses the down button on the elevator key pad.
Alexis stands beside him. She looks down at her hands and there is a tremor there. She forms them into fists and then crosses her hands in front of her. I've got Stavros on the brain but the way he said that about Carly being his wife... "I hope everything works out. If I can help..."
"I'll let you know." Sonny strides off the elevator followed by Johnny.
<<< I knew you would try to stop me. I need to do this. If I could have been a son to him then he wouldn't have taken Carly and Michael. I love you. You are the father of my heart. Nikolas.>>>
Stefan crumples the note he'd found on the desk of Nikolas' cottage. "How? How do you know where he is... so swiftly?" Picking up the phone he is about to dial a number and thinks better of it. He hits redial instead.
Port Charles Airport.
"Is the Cassadine jet there?"
Nope, one left last night....
The answer is casually offered but it feels as if Stefan's heart stops. He interrupts before the man can finish his answer. "The flight plan where was it to?"
Stefan can hear the shuffle of papers and then an answer that brings back memories of horror. Greece.
"Ready the other Cassadine Jet. I will be leaving within the hour."
Um... the other Cassadine Jet is gone too. It was impounded by some lawyer today and flown back to Switzerland for some probate thing over there. The lawyer was really pissed. He was suppose to pick up both of them.
Stefan swears and hangs up. He races to the door and throwing it open almost runs over Bobbie. "Is Nikolas here? Taggart said he stopped by my place yesterday."
Stefan grabs her by the arm-- his grip painful. "Yesterday?! Nikolas was at your house yesterday? Why? What do you know?"
Bobbie wrenches her arm away from Stefan automatically covering that part of her arm with her other hand. "What have you done now?"
"Why would Nikolas go to your house?"
"Because we're friends? I don't know. Gia stopped by the hospital to talk to me about Carly... Nikolas was with her. He could have talked to me then."
"Caroline." Stefan mutters under his breath but Bobbie hears him.
She stiffens and takes a step back from Stefan. "What about Carly?"
"Barbara, have you heard from your daughter recently?"
"That's the same thing Gia was asking."
"Answer me! Have you heard from Caroline?!"
"She sent me a packet a few days ago. I get them now and then. But no I haven't talked to her. I haven't talked to her since Sonny took her to Martinique and then came back without her and my grandson."
"Where and Why would I go anywhere with you?!"
"To the brownstone. I want to see whatever Caroline has sent you."
"And I say again. Why would I go anywhere with you?!"
"Because your daughter is with Stavros."
Alexis lets herself in at Jax's call to enter. She finds him pacing the living room. "What's happened? Is Kristina okay?"
"She's fine." Jax says impatiently. "You say Carly Corinthos is with Stavros?"
Jax runs a hand thru his hair and sighs. "After you left I started thinking. And all I know about your family. Helena and Mikkos... now there was a match made in hell wouldn't you say?"
Alexis nods in agreement. "Yes."
"And what would you call Stavros and Carly Corinthos?"
"Jax, you can't mean that. Carly doesn't know what she got herself into. She wouldn't have willingly go with him. Stavros is a monster."
Jax mutters too low for Alexis to hear. "And what would you call Corinthos and Morgan. Oh that's right-- misunderstood." Jax leans against the back of the sofa. His gaze is intense on his ex wife. "I know my exposure to Carly has been limited. Everything I know about her and I learned from you and Jerry. But I do know this. She doesn't think like other people. What if rather than a kidnapper and hostage we instead have a match made in hell? You said Stavros went after Helena."
Alexis sits down. "Carly has to get away from him. She has no idea what she is dealing with."
"You're making an assumption. I think she knows exactly who she is dealing with."
Jason hunkers down on the hill above the compound. The stolen zodiac he'd used to travel the black waters between the two islands is stowed away in a safe place. All he had to do is get Carly and Michael and get the hell out of dodge. He uses the binoculars he'd found in the bottom of the zodiac to get a layout of the compound. The full moon had been enough to guide him to this side of the island. There is a light on in the main floor but all the other lights are out save for the security lights around the perimeter. He focuses on that one light on in the house. He makes a tsking sound when discovers who is still up. Rather than binoculars it would have been better to have a sniper rifle. All problems solved.
Carly steps out of the shadows of the secret passage into the study. Her steps are hesitant not knowing quite what she is walking into. Nikolas knew how to push all of Stavros buttons. He so wanted a connection to his son. Carly heard some of it after Martinique. How Nikolas had pulled a gun on Stavros back in Port Charles. Stavros stands at the huge picture window that looks toward the groves above the compound. Carly reads Stavros' back and sighs. Rather than the water she is reaching for on the bar she pours herself a small brandy. "It didn't go well."
Stavros had seen her reflection in the window as she'd crossed from the secret passage. Carly was dressed in her long white satin robe belted firmly at her waist. Even so he flinches. Not at her appearance that was not unexpected but at her comment. "It didn't go as well as I hoped. That's happened quite a bit lately with my family."
"What happened? What does he know? Has he figured out I'm going to take back my company?"
"Your name was studiously avoided." Stavros says wryly. Trust Carly to think of her company first. He turns away from the window and walks over to Carly. He takes the brandy from her and tosses it back with a quick motion.
"That's not gonna help." Carly reaches out and rubs her hand down Stavros arm. Petting him like she would to sooth fractious horse.
Stavros quirks a brow. "And what are you willing to do that would?"
"Not that." Carly retorts. "Like the brandy, it wouldn't help for long." But that doesn't stop her from reaching for the buttons of Stavros suit jacket. She upbuttons it and then reaching up in a smooth motion from the inside of the front of the jacket eases it up and away from Stavros shoulders. Taking the jacket she folds it neatly over a chair. "Come here and sit down." Carly pats a cushion on a chair near the fire. It is a long chaise... an old style fainting couch. Stavros allows himself to be tempted to sitting down. Carly kneels on the couch behind him. She brushes the long robe out of the way so she doesn't trip on it. "Just like I thought. You are a bundle of knots. You've got to get it all out or it's going to drive you nuts."
Stavros laughs. "I'm sure that there are some right here in this house..."
"Okay so it's a figure of speech. Drive you nuttier." Even as she is talking Carly starts applying pressure to the knots in Stavros' neck and shoulders. Her grip is strong and almost painful as she works them out. "Tell me what you did so I can fix it." Carly almost whispers in his ear.
"There is nothing to fix." There is a momentary tone of defeat in Stavros voice. "He still hates me."
"People are my specialty." Carly reminds him. "Okay so my batting average is way down this year... but I did make Gia the Face of Deception." Carly claims her last big win. Getting rid of Angel had been a big win too but a pyrric one since she still lost Sonny.
"She is the better choice." Stavros' head falls forward so Carly can work more easily.
"To anyone who had eyes sure. But we're talking about your wife. She was all invested in that pasty face Elizabeth Webber. But I got her to change her mind now didn't I? Gia's good at it too. Really worked on Lizzie's insecurities. You Cassadines suck at people skills. That's why you need people like me and Gia."
"I thought I kept you around for your computer skills?" Stavros half grins and isn't surprised when Carly gives him a playful smack in the back. She really is such a delightfully tactile person.
"Pay attention. You're trying too hard. I know you want everything and you want it now. But he's got to come to you. And he did. You're already in the win column. You handled dinner great... feeding him that line about him always being welcome in your house."
"That isn't a line."
"The best ones aren't. That's why they work." Carly pauses as she thinks and then resumes the massage but now almost absently. Just keeping the physical connection. "I get Nik, or at least I think I do. He was as invested in having Gia being The Face as I was. But for him it was a validation... to have Laura pick his girlfriend over Lucky's. To have her pick him. She never has. Not really. It was always Luke, Lucky and Lulu. Her real family." Stavros stiffens and makes a sound of protest. "Hush." Carly smacks Stavros again. "I'm thinkin'."
"My son should never be a supplicant for what is his by right!"
"Yeah, but he always has been. In order to get his mother's affection and regard, Nik's had to turn himself inside out. Turn on everything Cassadine."
Stavros pops up from the chaise and starts pacing furious all over again. "My son..." He is practically sputtering in his anger.
"You aren't getting it." Carly jumps off the chaise and puts herself right in Stavros' path. "Give him what he wants. What he doesn't get from anyone else. Acceptance. All the love in his life has been conditional. I know that one. Constantly jumping thru hoops and turning yourself inside out to make the other person happy. Only showing what will not scare them. You've already got a headstart. At least you don't hate his mother. You won't be trying to make him hate that part of himself. Stavros, you are so good with Michael. Don't tell him how good you'd be as a father. Show him."
"How? What do I do to show him?"
"Nothing. Nothing different. You'll see. Just do like we've been doing... mornings down at the cove... business in the afternoon when it's too hot to be outside. Don't push-- let him come to you. And he'll think it's a trick." Carly warns. "Nik's been tricked too often to not be wary. And that he showed up now. He has to know that Helena's broke. Maybe Nik thinks you're turning over that new leaf I talked about as dinner. Your blood runs thru his veins. He wants to believe in you. Hating you is hating a part of himself."
Nik stares up at the ceiling wide awake. Gia is tucked up next to him bed, her head tucked into his shoulder and her arm wrapped around him. He absently traces a pattern on Gia's bare back. "Can't sleep?" Gia mumbles. Nik had come to bed late. Not that she'd been able to sleep either. The place seriously gave her the creeps. "You ready to talk about it yet?"
"I don't know if there is anything really to talk about."
"How about that Carly seems just fine. Fact is I think she's up to her old tricks."
Gia leans up on one elbow looking down at Nik. "You always told me to stay away from Carly and her schemes."
"And you didn't." Nik reminds.
"Are we going to play I told you so or do you want to hear what I have to say?"
"Speak." Before Gia can scold him for ordering her around, Nik takes her free hand and brings is to his lips pressing a kiss to the palm. Gia melts like butter. Sometimes, hell all the time, it's impossible to think when he does something sweet like that. "Sparky?"
"Oh right. Where was I? Carly. I don't think guys get Carly. Not really. They see what they expect to see. That's why she is always better friends with men than women. You have to be really secure as a woman to hang around with Carly. Cause she puts out that vibe. Sex is the lowest common denominator and she goes there first knowing most guys are dogs. She needs a guy's approval-- always. That's just her. She thinks she's not much without a guy. When she was working at Deception... sure... she dug being a player in the company but she really wanted to make Sonny proud of her. Show him what she could do."
"What does that have to do with my father?"
"She's doin' the same thing. She's playing you. That whole mistress of the manor to get to you."
"It didn't get to me."
"Right." Gia's sarcasm comes across clearly. You can BS yourself but you can't BS me. "You hated it. Hated that she was sitting right next to your father, right there at his side. Giving orders to the servants like she belongs. Comfortable with your Dad, knowing him in a way that you don't. Deep down you think it should be Laura sitting next to him, Laura ordering tea, Laura touching him, and it grates. It should be pictures of you and him in the study, not Michael."
"My father is a monster. He wrecks everything he touches." Nik says automatically.
"Yeah." Gia agrees quickly. "But I'm not talking about your dad. I'm talking about Carly. She's giving Stavros what he wants and showing you what you are missing. Classic Carly."
Stefan flips thru the pictures one by one but rapidly. He studies the composition of each one recognizing small elements that had nothing to do with the subjects of the photos. Bobbie stands by wringing her hands. "You're wrong. Carly isn't with Stavros. After everything he did... to me, to Lucas, to my family... our family. She's just off on a tropical island hiding from the Quartermaines and getting her head together while she figures things out."
"Helena is the one who poisoned Lucas. Caroline was out of the country with her thug when you were kidnapped and never came back to Port Charles. Even then Laura told me that Helena had kidnapped you and Alexis. Stavros was just willing to use you both as bargaining chips to gain her cooperation. Stavros must have gone to Martinique when he escaped from our grasp here in Port Charles." Stefan answers absently and then growls when he gets to the picture that to him is the absolute proof. "If Laura or Luke saw this picture they would have no doubt. Both of them have been here. Nikolas saw this?" Stefan holds up a picture that is very similiar to the one that Nik had taken after his search of the brownstone.
"I don't know." Bobbie takes the pictures from Stefan and quickly counts them. "One is missing. It was a role of 36."
"I have to get to Greece. Nikolas doesn't know what he's getting into."
"I'm going with you."
The next morning Stavros wakes with the birds... or rather a little bird. "Stavros, come on. Wake up. I wanna go swimming and Mama is still asleep! You said you'd take me sailing! Wake up!"
"Michael." Stavros yawns but wakes. "Go change into your swimming suit and come back."
"Yes!" Michael runs from the room.
Stavros contemplates getting Nikolas and asking them to join him but then remembers what Carly said the night before. Nik would find him, them, it was why he was here.
An hour later Nikolas and Gia walk down to the public rooms of the compound. They starts first in the study. No sign of his father. There is a laptop on the desk. Going over to it Nik opens it up and goes thru the files quickly looking for anything interesting. Anything about Helena or Stavros plans for Stefan. Gia keeps a lookout for anyone coming. "Nothing." He does a search on General Hospital. But all that pops up is a file about the hospital and when it was acquired by the Cassadine Estate. A boring recital of facts, figures and a few key personnel. He searches for another piece of the estate that he'd learned about at Stefan's knee. Same thing. The laptop is being used for storage. No programs or files on what his father's plan is. Worrying about getting caught snooping and blowing it, he closes the computer back down and goes out to the entry way. A servant is passing by trying to be invisible. "Where is Prince Stavros?"
The young girl is startled by actually being spoken to and afraid. Normally the family talked to the butler or or the estate manager. Not to someone who actually did the scut work. Ms Carly... she talked to everyone as did Michael but not one of the Cassadines. "He's at the cove. Every morning." The girl points in that direction and then scurries away.
"Shall we?" Gia turns to Nik.
"Lets." Nik takes her hand and they walk down to the cove. From the path above the cove they can see a sunfish, a small sailboat, up on the sand. The umbrella is up shading the table back from the water. Stavros is in the water with a small child who is wearing water wings. The sun glints off of Michael's hair turning it to the color of fire. Nik and Gia make their way to the table. There is a pitcher of what looks like lemonade... condensation on the glass pitcher cooling it.
Stavros looks up from where he is encouraging Michael's efforts at swimming. He snags Michael around the middle and holds him upright. "We have company."
"Mama?" Michael asks before looking over to the table.
"No, my son, Nikolas, and his friend, Gia."
"You think they want to go sailing too? We'll have to get a bigger boat."
"Why don't you go ask them?" Stavros frees the slippery little boy who starts paddling to the shore and then goes racing up to the table. He follows more slowly.
"Hey! Did you see me? I was swimming! Do you want to go sailing?"
"That would be fun." Nikolas agrees. Looking around he sees a towel hanging over one of the chairs and hands it to Michael. Michael takes it but still shakes his head like a dog throwing water droplets everywhere and laughs when Nik and Gia lean back to avoid getting wet. Stavros arrives and taking a towel dries off. He takes a seat across from his son. Reaching to the pitcher he pours himself a glass of the cool beverage and then pours michael a small glass as well setting it in front of the place next to him. Michael hops up in the chair and reaches for the glass drinking it down thirstily. Swimming is hard work. When he is done gulping it down, Stavros pours him another one making sure to not overfill it. Then he pours Nikolas and Gia glasses of the lemonade noticing that they hadn't already.
"Where is Carly?" Gia asks suspiciously.
It is Michael that answers. "Mama's asleep. She won't wake up for HOURS yet. She'll come down at Lunch time." Michael makes a face. "And after lunch I have to have school so we have to go sailing NOW."
"Tomorrow, Michael.. unless Nikolas won't be here tomorrow. Your mother will be disappointed if she comes down to the cove and we aren't here." Stavros corrects the little boy.
Michael slumps back in this chair and makes a pout face. "I guess that's okay." He cheers up. "I steered a boat yesterday. A big one, a fast one. That's what you call it when you drive a boat-- steering. And then we rode on an airplane but I didn't get to steer it. We were in Istanbul. That's in TURKEY! gobble gobble gobble!"
"Wow! I've never been to Turkey." Gia tells Michael to cover the silence between Stavros and Nik who are basically just staring at each other. Each trying to figure the other out. "What did you do in Turkey?"
"Me and Mama walked all around the Sophia in all the gardens. She likes gardens. And then Stavros took us to the Bazaar. He bought everything more than Mama. And when I got tired he gave me a piggy back and we had kabobs for lunch. That's a bunch of stuff cooked on a stick. Then I had to have lessons while Mama played games on the 'puter."
Stavros sees the little tick of motion from his son at the mention of the computer. He changes the subject "Since Gia hasn't been to Istanbul why don't you show her your book?"
Michael goes digging thru the bag of stuff at his feet and jumping from his chair goes over next to Gia and hands her the handbound book that Stavros had given him as a present. "You're pretty."
"And you're a charmer."
Carly is startled awake by a hand over her mouth. Once she is awake and aware Jason takes his hand off of her mouth. "Where is Michael? His bed is empty."
"Jase-- What are you doing here? How did you get in?"
"We're getting out of here. You, me and Michael. Where is he, Carly?"