Alexis released a breath she did not know she was holding. "How is he?"
"I do not know. Helena succeeded in informing him before I could."
"Oh, Stefan," Alexis cried, "I told you to tell him!"
"It cannot be undone now, Alexis. I need you to tell Nikolas before my mother or someone else does."
"I can do that. Where will you be?"
"With Andresj'." Stefan added, "Alexis, make Nikolas understand why I did not speak of this before."
"I'll try. Give Andresj' my love."
Claude was polishing glasses behind the bar of Luke's place when Sabrina walked in. "Hi! What can I do you for?"
"Pour me a scotch and water, and then find Luke. Please."
"Luke. It figures," the dusky bartender shook his head. "What do they see in him?" he muttered. Claude set the drink down on the counter and went to find Luke.
Sabrina took a small sip of her drink. "Yes," she sighed. "Just perfect." Idly she took in the decor. The club's newest addition made her sputter. "Oh, shi-" Sabrina exclaimed, wiping the drink from her chin. Stepping closer, she stared in disbelief.
"Doc DeLane, I know it's you," Luke Spencer proclaimed. "I never forget a face."
"That's not my face you're looking at," Sabrina laughed as she turned to greet him. He stood with his arms outstretched. She embraced him cheerfully. "Luke-" she began.
"Before you ask, darlin', that's not a banana," he said.
"You are nasty."
"I thought that was what you loved about me." He pulled out a barstool and patted the seat. "So, what brings you to Port Chuckles?"
"Business," Sabrina explained. "But I don't want to talk about it. Where did you get that?" she pointed to the wall and the painting of Helena Cassadine in all her natural glory.
"You mean ol' Hells? That is a long and twisted story." Luke leaned in close. "What do you say we go somewhere, get naked and talk about it?"
"In your dreams, Luke Spencer."
Sabrina pushed him away firmly and shook her head. "Here." She handed him a brown bag from the counter near her purse.
Luke cautiously accepted it, holding the very edge between the tips of two fingers. At Sabrina's indignant expression, he shrugged his shoulders and said, "Hey, beware of Greeks bearing gifts."
"How long have you been waiting for the chance to use that line?" Sabrina sighed. "Just open it." As Luke peered into the bag, she added, "And I'm only half Greek."
"Hot damn!" Luke raised the bag and breathed in the aroma. "I love you!" he uttered fervently.
"Well, thank you." Sabrina replied.
"Huh?" He tore his attention away from her gift. "Did you say something?"
"No matter what Stefan says, my life will never be the same."
Keesha surprised Andresj' with her response. "I am sure that you are right. I mean, how could your life not change?"
Andresj' bowed his head in despair. A warm, tender hand stroked his cheek and lifted his head. "I thought of two things" she said softly, "when you told me about all this. The second thing was that if anyone is strong enough to handle this, you are."
"I wish I could believe that."
"You don't have to. I believe it enough for us both." Keesha placed her hand back into her lap.
'Dre felt the loss of her touch acutely. He extended his hand - palm up. After a moment's hesitation Keesha placed her hand in his. "You said there were two things you thought of. What was the first?" he asked.
Keesha bit her lip and debated. After awhile she said, "Your family has too much drama going on."
Genuine laughter erupted from Andresj'. He continued to laugh until tears streamed down his face. When he was finally able to speak, he told Keesha. "Thank you!" With his head, he motioned back toward the house. "Come on." 'Dre pulled her to her feet. Without warning Keesha found herself wrapped in Andresj's strong arms, his lips pressed softly against hers. Slowly, tenderly, he tasted her lips. And though everything inside her screamed to pull away from him, Keesha allowed him to deepen the kiss. 'What are you doing? He's just a boy!' an inner voice kept saying. Andresj's hand drifted slowly to the small of her back and pulled her tightly against the evidence of his desire for her. 'He certainly doesn't feel like one.'
"Ahem." Justus cleared his throat. Keesha stepped back guiltily from Andresj'. "I thought you would want to know," Justus said, "that Stefan is here."
"Amy. Hi!" Laura Spencer stepped back and waved her 'sister' into the house. "This is a nice surprise. Come on in."
"Thanks. I just stopped by to check on you and Lesley and Lulu," Amy said.
"Did you come straight from the hospital?" Amy nodded. "You must have had to work late," Laura wondered aloud.
"No. Something interesting happened at the hospital tonight." Amy's eyes grew wide with the excitement of apparently being the first to share the story with Laura. "Bobbie and I were at the nurses' station when these five delivery guys got off the elevator. Each one of them had a huge armful of stuff, and none of it was the same. I mean, there were flowers and cigars and balloons that said 'It's a boy.' And a gigantic teddy bear," she added as an afterthought.
Laura smiled nostalgically. "Amy, you know that people can get carried away when they have a baby."
"Yes. . ." Amy paused dramatically, "but the delivery was for Stefan Cassadine."
"The deliverymen told you that it was for Stefan?" Laura asked in disbelief.
"Well, no," Amy admitted. "But Stefan came and had all the stuff taken to his office."
Laura shook her head. "Oh, Amy, that doesn't mean anything."
"It does if you add in the fact that Stefan had tests done at General Hospital today. By an outside doctor, no less," the talkative nurse added. "Not only that, but those gifts he put in the office were worth a fortune. And they each came from different royal families trying to get in good with the Cassadines." At Laura's skeptical expression, Amy hastened to verify her story. "I'm telling you, one of the nurses standing there overheard Stefan say that the cigars were smuggled into the country from Cuba, and the teddy bear was worth over a million dollars if he ever decided to sell it."
"Amy-" Laura warned.
"If you don't believe me, Laura, ask Bobbie. She was there. She'll tell you. Stefan Cassadine is going to be a father."
As soon as Andresj' entered the room, Stefan abruptly interrupted the quiet conversation he had been having with Diane Jennings. Like magnets his eyes were drawn to Andresj's, and his focus narrowed until only they existed. Neither father nor son spoke, each silently willing the other to provide a clue as to state of mind. And though 'Dre thought his expression to be shuttered from his father, Stefan read clearly his anxiety and uncertainty.
"The tests were positive," Stefan confirmed. "Doctor DeLane has given proof to something I did not even conceive was possible."
"Then why?" Andresj' asked.
"Miss Jennings." Stefan indicated the woman 'Dre had met earlier - Justus' friend.
Diane moved into view. "I was a friend of your mother. She wrote me letters about you that I only recently received. One of the letters was for your father, and another was for you. So I came to Port Charles to find you. I knew that Alyse would want me to."
"Who is Alyse?" 'Dre frowned.
"Your mother. Her name was Alyse Dumonde," Diane explained.
Andresj' stared at the woman before him. What was she telling him, that Ariana Leonivich was not his mother?
Justus saw the confusion on the young man's face, a confusion he understood. "Andresj'," he called for his attention, "why don't you go home and at least get some of the details from your father. This is a lot to take in all at once."
"Yes," Stefan seconded Justus' suggestion. "I would like the opportunity to answer those of your questions that I am able to. And Miss Jennings has agreed to remain in Port Charles indefinitely to assist us with what answers she can."
Andresj' turned to Keesha, who had been standing behind him - with her hand on his back during the entire conversation. "I think you should," she told him quietly. "I'm only a phone call away." Stefan looked on with interest.
"Very well, Papa," Andresj' said. "Let us go home."
All Helena's gifts had been transported to Wyndemere. Of course, they had been scanned and x-rayed as a precaution.
"I don't think I will ever understand Helena," Alexis stated. "Not that I care to," she hurriedly added. "When you add the cost of all these things-"
"This was a very expensive point she made," Bobbie finished for her. She had come to Wyndemere directly from the hospital. It wasn't because Stefan asked, she told herself. It was because she was fond of Andresj', and he needed her support.
"Helena doesn't make points. She scores them. And this was just another in the unending battle she wages with Stefan," Sabrina replied.
"I wonder what Stefan will do with these things?" Alexis wondered aloud.
"Well, I took a box of cigars," Sabrina admitted. "I hope he doesn't mind."
"I do not." Stefan walked into the room. He quirked an eyebrow. "You have taken up cigar smoking?"
"Of course not. I gave them to a friend."
"Ahhh," Stefan nodded. "I see. Well, if we are fortunate, all those medical warnings will prove truthful and Spencer will succumb to something fatal."
"Stefan!" Sabrina cried. "Shame on you to wish such a thing!"
"You are right." A hint of a smile appeared. "Spencer would not have the grace to expire quickly. He would no doubt linger on endlessly."
"You're going to let him talk about your brother that way?" Sabrina watched as Bobbie smiled leniently at Stefan.
"Barbara and I came to an agreement some time ago. I refrain from comments on her ne'er-do-well brother when I can, in exchange for understanding on those occasions I cannot."
Alexis interrupted the conversation. "Where is Andresj'?"
"With Nikolas. He was waiting at the launch, so I thought it might be best to allow them some time together," Stefan explained. "As you might understand, he is somewhat shaken by today's events."
"That's probably an understatement," Sabrina quipped sarcastically.
"Maybe we should move all these things for now?" Bobbie suggested. "At least until you decide what you are going to do with them."
"That would be best," Stefan agreed. He looked over the gifts quickly. "Where is the box?"
"The delivery man handed Stefan a box along with an envelope," Bobbie informed Alexis. "Didn't it get delivered?"
"Here." Alexis retrieved the box from the safe. "It hadn't been opened, so I locked it up until you would have a chance to open it yourself." She placed it on the table.
Stefan used a letter opener from the nearby desk to break the tape which secured the box. Carefully he lifted the lid. Bobbie and Sabrina leaned over to have a look.
Inside the box was a photo album entitled Baby's First Book . The three women shared looks of alarm. Surely Helena would not provoke Stefan so? They watched anxiously as he lifted the book from its cardboard housing.
Stefan flipped open the book's cover. There in the center of the first page was a piece of tape anchoring down a lock of dark curly hair. Underneath was inscribed Andresj' - Age One . Stefan stroked it gently with his finger.
A tiny sound from Alexis reminded him of his surroundings. Reluctantly he turned the page. It was empty, except for a short paragraph and the dark outline of what had obviously been a photograph. The remaining pages all followed suit: Baby's First Picture, Baby's First Bath, Baby's First Tooth, Baby's First Steps . . .
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*General Hospital and its characters are not mine. I make no profit from this. The characters Andresj' Cassadine, and Diane Jennings are my creation.*