Jason and Stavros sit together out on the balcony watching the sunrise. Carly had finally crashed about an hour ago. The sound of a small almost hiccuping snore comes out of her room. Stavros smiles. "I think I have finally found a flaw in Caroline."
"Oh?" Jason asks sticking his feet up on the balcony railing.
"If that is the only flaw you've found you haven't been around her too long." Jason warns.
"Oh?" Stavros doesn't know quite to make of that one.
"Let me see. She's a blanket hog. She'll take the last towel and not let you know. Then she'll leave them laying on the floor in a soaking wet pile for someone else to pick up. She'll go thru your pockets while you're asleep or in the shower. She'll steal all your shirts. She lies like a rug. She goes thru money like water. And her plans always work but never the way Carly intends."
"Yet you count her as a friend, and she-- you. Even after this litany of complaints. Why? Why do you keep company with such a flawed, untrustworthy person?"
"Who said anything about untrustworthy?! I trust Carly. When the chips are down, she's the one I want around. Look if you go into this thinkin' Carly is perfect; you are going to be disappointed. And I get the feeling you don't do disappointment well. What has Carly told you about me?"
"That you were a mob enforcer who killed people for a living."
Jason winces. "Damn it, Carly. I forgot to add; she's got a big mouth sometimes."
"Well at the time she was explaining why she wasn't afraid of me even though I've been suspected of many crimes."
"Carly's got the hair split between suspected and convicted down. But we were talking about trust. The first time I met Carly..." Jason grins. "I was at Jake's. It's a seedy bar outside of Port Charles. Carly was running a scam in town and needed some down time. She came in like she owned the place. Pulled some money out of her too tight white jeans and put it in the jukebox and then she danced. It was like she was the only thing in the room. She pretended to not notice the testosterone overload in the room." Jason remembers fondly.
"Carly loves to dance-- partner definitely optional. We played pool... tossed around some innuendo and didn't exchange names. The next time I ran into her it was literal. I had guys on my tail wanting the package I was delivering for my boss. I grabbed her. Laid a liplock on her and the guys chasing me went right on by. I knew they'd double back so she took me up to her room to lay low til things chilled. She still didn't know my name. We got around to exchanging names eventually. Carly... well she always wants more. That's just her nature. But she never expected me to be somebody I wasn't. And that's her nature too."
"I believe I have sufficient blankets, towels, shirts and money to not be concerned. And an army of servants to deal with sodden garments."
"Carly tell you about my accident?"
"That you don't feel the cold and have a high tolerance for pain."
Jason nods. "Interesting."
"She left out what most people consider the most interesting part. I can tell when people are lying-- even good liars. Carly's one of the best. She can make anyone believe just about anything. Show them just what they expect to see. She calls it... people skills."
"Ah yes, she's mentioned that she has excellent people skills."
"Stefan takes information, gathers information and then uses it to his ends. Carly does the same. That thing about going thru pockets. She was trying to figure out what I wanted, who I was. So she could give me what she thought I wanted. Like a chameleon. Course she tried to convince me that all women go thru men's pockets. And being left alone in their places is tacit permission from the guy to search it."
"I'm familiar with that feminine trait." Stavros says wryly. "They are curious little cats."
Jason nods. "It's true often enough for me to take precautions. Anyway... Carly couldn't lie to me. I caught her every time. But I couldn't lie to anyone. At least not then-- lying is a learned skill that I still am not comfortable with. Carly and I had a deal. She'd lie for the both of us."
"Lying makes me uncomfortable." Stavros says automatically testing Morgan's skills.
But it's not much of a test. "No, being lied to makes you uncomfortable." Jason corrects. "Most people would rather be the liar than the one lied to. That's why Carly's plans blow up in her face no matter what her intentions."
"Mr Morgan, you are being... very expansive. Something I believe is counter to your character. Why?"
"Because I wasn't with Sonny. And Carly is the one that got hurt over and over." Jason says grimly. "Carly was just being Carly and he took it as betrayal. I really screwed up. They got married to keep Sonny out of jail. You see Carly had a plan."
Stavros groans. "Already I am getting a bad feeling."
"Somebody close to Sonny was messing up. He came to Carly rather than Sonny to get money to cover some bets. Carly figured out a way to protect this guy and take out one of Sonny's enemies at the same time. But because she was protecting this guy, and Sonny... she didn't tell Sonny what was going on. She was just going to handle things."
"A very bad feeling."
"So Carly has it set up for the PCPD to spring the trap on Sonny's enemy when who walks in but Sonny. Trap sprung right on schedule but the wrong guy is in it."
"Tsk." Stavros shakes his head. "I see what you mean. The plan worked perfectly but on the wrong target."
"Carly started doing damage control immediately. She destroyed the tape of Sonny. She's aces at destroying evidence. All that did was focus the PCPD on her. They were going to make her testify against him."
"So he married her."
"On Alexis' advice."
"It sounds as if it is best to keep Caroline by your side." Stavros muses.
Jason nods. "Yeah. 'Course I was sitting right next to her when she took Taggart's gun and shot Tony Jones in open court. I screwed that one up too. Should have bought the judge ahead of time but I figured it was open and shut. That even the PCPD couldn't screw that one up."
"Caroline told me he kidnapped her son. That she spent six months in an insane asylum over it."
"Another plan." Jason says grimly. His timing had been off there. He'd managed to get Carly bought out of the situation... had a judge all lined up but Carly had already started acting crazy. "That one worked pretty well actually. If she would have gone to trial she risked getting 15-20 years in a women's correctional facility. Instead she played crazy, started talking to pillows and such. She was out within six months when she got better. She convinced everyone... her mother, the shrinks. First that she was nuts and then that she was better." Jason gets to the point. "Look if you are around Carly then you are going have to be able to deal with her plans. If you can't deal then cut her loose now before anyone gets hurt."
Nik knocks on the door to Gia's bedroom. "Gia? Let me in. Come on, Sparky."
Gia comes to the door already dressed to go out. "All yours." She brushes by him.
"Do you really want to get into this now?"
"I don't understand why... why after Stefan left did you lock me out of your room... what did I do?"
Gia's jaw drops. "How can you be so..." She swallows hard and then says. "I had some thinking to do."
"Thinking? About what?"
Nik feels a slight instinctive male recoil. He was so getting a bad feeling. "Oh?"
"Yeah." Gia puts her hand on her hip and straightens. "Yeah, I was thinking about how I feel when you bring up my blackmail. And that lead to how I feel when you bring it up in front of your uncle who still hates my guts and feels I'm not good enough for you. And I was kinda distracted by how I feel when you always hold up Liz and Emily as perfect examples and I never measure up. And that lead me to thinking about how I feel when they know everything about my boyfriend and I'm in the dark. And that got me to feeling the only reason I'm on this trip is because neither Elizabeth or Emily is home."
"Gia, you know that isn't true."
"Feels true. It's been true in the past. That's what you're always bringing up... my past right? Well in the past you've never supported me but always took everyone's side but mine. In the past you've left me out in the cold to fend for myself while you were protecting everyone else. In the past your hierarchy of affection went something like..." Gia starts ticking them off on her fingers. "...Laura, Lulu, Lucky, Elizabeth, Emily and then it was me. "I don't even make it into the top five. Oh wait that's wrong. Luke then me. Boy I'm sure glad Elizabeth wasn't down in that lab with us. 'Cause I would probably be still trying to get out of there... ON MY OWN!" Gia starts stalking for the door.
Nik grabs her arm. "Where are you going?"
"Good freaking question. It's an island; it's not like I could go far. Somewhere where you aren't." She wrenches her arm away from Nik and goes out the door slamming it behind her. Nik rushes to his own room to get dressed and then slams out the door after her.
"Carly says you find my brother...." Stavros tries to remember the exact words. "... loud and too close."
Jason winces. "Yeah. You need to know about that one. Once he figures out that I'm not going to solve his problem for him. He'll come up with an angle to make sure we don't team up. And that one might do it." Jason looks at Stavros consideringly.
"Something about Caroline or Michael?" Stavros assumes automatically.
Jason shakes his head. "Nikolas. Do you know what a drive-by is?"
"I'll assume it has something to do with automobiles in motion."
"Automobile in motion with guys carrying guns in it. They see who they want to take out and open fire. Course the car being in motion... their aim isn't too good. It's a sloppy way of taking people out. One step below a carbomb." Jason's professional ethic is clearly offended. "Maybe you hit your target. Maybe you even kill them. Maybe you don't. Maybe you get a bystander instead."
"My Nikolas?" Stavros had been stiffening along with Jason's explanation. His question is a whisper.
"November a couple years ago. In front of Luke's. It was meant for me. Took out one of my guys. Didn't touch me. Nikolas caught a stray bullet in the throat. I had to do a trach on him there in the parking lot. He was drowning in his own blood." Jason flatly recites. There is no easy way.
"You punished the men who harmed my son?"
"Oh yeah." Jason replies his jaw tight. "My sister was in that club along with her friends. But your brother wasn't seeing it that way. He blamed me for Nikolas getting shot."
"Have you ever harmed my son?"
"Decked him in GH one time. But he threw the first punch." Jason shrugs.
"Will there be a problem with his knowing you are on the island?"
"If it is... it's his problem. I'm here for Carly and Michael. If he wants you dead, he'll have to do it himself."
Michael sneaks out of his room on quiet feet not wanting to wake his mother but hearing voices on the balcony... Stavros-- but who is the other guy? Then he hears the voice. "Uncle Jason!!!! Mama said I'd get a surprise; are you my surprise?!"
"Is it a good one?" Jason teases.
"Yeah!" Michael throws his arms around Jason's neck and squeezes hard. "Is Uncle Sonny here too?"
"Nope. He's still in Port Charles. He has to work."
Michael slumps a little. "That's okay I guess." Then he gets a little more bold but still ready for disappointment. "Are you staying?"
"Yeah, 'til I have to get back to work. I haven't gotten to spend much time with you and your mom lately."
Michael looks over to Stavros trying to figure if he can duck out of classes in the afternoon. Before he can even try Stavros answers his question. "No. And your mother will stay the same. That means you have the morning to spent with your Uncle Jason. Perhaps you should go to Arianna and ask if she could have breakfast for three brought here."
" 'Kay." Michael jumps from Jason's lap.
"Yeah?" Michael looks back over his shoulder.
"If you tell anyone I'm here they won't be surprised."
Michael gets a big grin. " 'Kay." He races from the room but is extra careful to shut the door quietly.
"He is a credit to his mother-- A happy child."
"She's fought hard enough to keep him, since before he was born. Nothing is ever easy with Carly."
Gia had ducked down into the cove to get some
more thinking time. "Something has got to change." She
mutters to herself. "Thinking isn't doing squat." She'd
been *thinking* about this since Nik had *broken* up with her--
even more since she'd found out it had all been a huge game.
Oh hell. Gia looks around but she can't see him coming. Hear him coming yes, but not see him. She looks around the cove. Blocked in. Oh hell. Finally she spots a goat path going up the side of the cliff face. Hand over hand she climbs a ledge barely wider than her feet. Damn goats. She gasps as one of her feet slips. This is not your brightest idea, Campbell. She pauses for breath deciding to not look down. Ahead of her she can see what looks like a shelf. A place to decide just how big of a mess she's in. "It would be so severely suck if Nik has to rescue me. Come on, God; give me a break." There is the rumble of thunder in the distance. "Thanks. That's just great." Gia mutters but it motivates her to continue up to the shelf even though she almost loses her footing again. One up on the shelf she sags down under an outcropping. If it poured down rain she'd still get soaked, but it's better than nothing.
Wide awake and aware of his surroundings, Stefan's eyes open. Rising from his bed he goes to the window and throws back the drapes. It is... odd to be back. Opening the window, he takes a deep breath inhaling the aromas of his youth-- flowers and citrus. It would have been an ideal place to grow up except.... Shaking off the memories, he turns from the window and prepares for his day.
At the dining room table he sits alone breaking his fast with a light meal of tea toast and fruit. The servants bring him the morning paper fresh from the boat to the mainland. The long table extends before him gleaming and empty.
Bobbie pulls at her own chair next to him. She covers her mouth yawning. "I have no idea what time zone I'm in." She mutters. "Where is everybody?"
"Stavros is probably still asleep. He was never an early riser."
"Carly either." Bobbie grimaces at apparently another thing her daughter has in common with Stavros. A servant bring out the coffee Bobbie had requested.
"Where is Master Nikolas?"
"He and his companion have left the compound."
"And my brother?"
"Has joined Ms Corinthos and the child in their quarters. Mr Michael requested their breakfasts over an hour ago."
Bobbie winces. "I guess I'll go see her after breakfast."
"Would you like me to take you for a tour of the island?"
"Thanks but no. That would be too much like tripping down memory lane."
Nik comes into the dining room his face is flushed and worried. "Have either of you seen, Gia?"
Jason pushes his plate back. "That was great." Stavros had made the ultimate sacrifice and given his coffee to Jason and drank what the servants had believed was Carly's tea.
Michael leans back in his seat totally stuffed. He'd been trying to keep up with Jason... nobody had ever really explained Jason's tendency to look at food the way a hoover vacuumn took to a filthy floor. "I won't have to eat for again for a year!"
"I think we shall have to work off this excellent breakfast while we let your mother sleep." Stavros agrees. "The cove?"
"YEAH!!!" Michael agrees and then quickly hushes and covers his mouth looking in where his mother is still sleeping. He adds in a whisper. "I'll go get changed." He tippy toes back thru the bedroom.
"Michael has the right idea." Jason agrees looking down at his jeans and boots. Not exactly beach attire. "I'll meet you two down there."
"Excellent." Stavros nods. He waits until Jason has accessed the secret panel before pulling out his cellphone. Dialing a preset number he contacts his remaining operatives in Port Charles. "Give me a progress report." He listens to the report then shakes his head. "That is unsatisfactory. Hire more men if necessary. You are on a tight time frame. You have two days maximum. After that it will become messy... for you."
"Okay. So it's a nice view. Shame I'm going to die right here... thirst long before hunger." Gia says to herself self pitying. "My brother told me to stay away from the Cassadines but do I listen... oh No! I know better. I'm in luv." She is startled by the sound of a sliding glass door opening and gets a quick grip before she tumbles off the edge of the rock shelf.
"You always talk to yourself?" Jason asks from behind her.
"Some of the best conversations I've ever had have been with myself." Gia scrambles to her feet. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"I was about to ask you the same thing." Jason looks at the paths that lead to the shelf that forms the opening of the cave. "You are wearing stupid shoes for rock climbing." Jason looks down at the slick soled sandals Gia's wearing. "You could have broken your neck."
"You got another way out of here?" Gia demands. Jason steps back and holds the curtains apart. Gia walks into the cave. She whistles. "What is it with these people and underground hidey holes?"
"I've asked similiar questions and never gotten an answer." Jason had already changed into his casual beach attire before he'd heard the voice outside of the front window. If a person didn't actually know him they'd see California surf bum: a tank t-shirt and jams.
"Who knows you're here?" Gia demands as she follows Jason to the back of the cave toward the stairs.
"Everyone who needs to know and you."
"Then you've already talked to Carly?"
"Why do you want to know?" Jason pauses to really look at Gia.
"Because I'd like to know what the hell is going on. Carly is going to tell me what she wants me, or rather what Stavros wants me, to hear. I was hoping to get a straight answer from you."
"Okay. A straight answer. It's none of your business."